Cynicism and apathy as “habitus” or cultural dimension in southern Italy
The idea of this article come from a interview done by Roberto Saviano about a book called “ La Bellezza e l'Inferno” published in 2009 from Mondadori Editor.
In this article I will try to define the cynicism as a cultural dimension for responding to the scarsity of ressource present in the territory of south of Italy. In this paper, the cultural dimention definition come from the work of Geert Hofstede ( 2002) as a collective programming of the mind distinguishing the members of one group or category of people from another.The cinicism represent a behavioural predisposition present inside the society, especially in south of Italy.
In this case, we have the presence of a list of many form of cynicism present inside the context of south of Italy as indicator according to Hofstede of the high degree of social distance present in this society where the cynical person don't have to justify themselves because powerful people don't need to legittimate decision. As a example, I can mentioned the case of cynicism when I am able to nominate as my close friend people with influential power in my life context.
A other way of seing the presence of cynicism as a natural response to the human jungle life is a direct correlation of the general idea that money are the more powerful indicator during lifetime.
In this case, I can interpreted the cynicism as the result of the straight of money in this context. Other case very significant for understanding people with people it's the presence of a cynical behaviour in front of the law because I can defend my self with good lawyer because I am rich enough for having this behaviour. Cynicism is the natural ally in southern Italy to “furbizia” ( it's mean to be astute with bad connotation ) as a cultural dimension present inside the society. It's mean in particular that I don't need to legitimate my behaviour because it's irrelevant in this context.
Cynicism indeed as the result of necessary closeness to the power in order to survive in this context.
The concept of cynicism represent a idea well construct inside the society, in other words information, opportunity need to be preserve more than to be spread in order to keep power in few hands. This few hands many time are relative or close friends coming from the infancy period.
Even inside the same group, it could be that people seem to be cynical in order to “appear” more poweful than other people around them. In some circumstances, peoples need to have “ good friend” in order to establish a position in power in front of the eyes. This cynical behaviour are in line with the scarcity of resource present in the territory. It's mean that this resources are scarce and are not available for many people. For that reason, the people cultivate this idea of secret in order to use for themselves or for some very near persons this information. The cynical approach are in opposite with the notion of spread information as a way of creating abundance inside the society in term of prosperity, information, advice and benefit for much persons as possible.
The cynicism is a way of looking to the world based in the certity that only the value of money can determine the world around us and for that reason I can be a “ cynical” in opposite with the idea of “sharing” inside the society because at the end of the day the idea of jungle life emerge all the time inside the context of southern of Italy. In this context, the power of money are the only one virtue without any cultural or arts presence in this landscape. This absence of arts inside the life of this human group create a lost of empathy towards the other citizens with the consequence of created more social distance between members of the society.
A other face of cynicism inside the southern society it's put in evidence by some politicians when they have to be in front of the law. In this circumstances, the influence of the social position and the possibility of having the right “connaissance” made feel this person having any risk to face for your illegal behaviour. In this case we can argue according to Hofstede that politicians don't need to legitimate there position and enjoy the social distance as a protector factor during their career life.
This attitude called in Italian “ furbizia” became the most natural ally to the cynical person because the two cultural script are in connection againt the respect of onesty and the need of integrity.
The cynical behaviour is very spread in south of the nation because it represent a way of putting a emotional distance with a other cultural script present in italian society called “ fesso” ( like stupid person). To be represented like a “ fesso” is a terror for many persons in this context of “ furbizia”.
Indeed, the notion of “connaissance” and the power are always relative to the next context and for that reason you can be always “ fesso” for a other person. This terror of to be treated like “ fesso” are always present in the ground during this kind of formal interaction. And this feeling could be present during all your entire life.
In a certain way, we can infer that the cynical behaviour could be a defence for many person with the consequences that many persons can't be just like they are because they have to protect our position in front of the eyes of other persons.
A important point to remember about the notion of cynicism is the presence of a positive connotation for many people in southern Italy because cynicism is a synonymous of to be “ furbo” with the positive consequences that I can take care of my self and other persons.
Today the cynical behaviour in connection with the social egoism had reach a extreme degree of influence into the life of southern citizen for the reason of a strong privatisation of the life. This social egoism represent a strong barrier in order to have some real change in cultural term inside the community of the southern Italians.
Apathy as a cultural response of the person in southern Italy.
The concept of Apathy, from a cultural perspective, represent a form of sadness reaction in front of the misuse of resources around you.
In front of a immutable reality, our personality live a strong emotional stress that push people with a more sensitive soul to close themself and became apathetic in front of the reality.
The apathetic persons represent a form a standby time of our energy in front of the reality and represent a tentative of auto-esclusion from a context in which we don't identify ourself or we are unable to impress our action in this context. In Italy, a very influential writer like Roberto Saviano call the context with the name of “ sistema” due to correlation of different social actor in create this state of affair.
Many time the personal apathy represent a metaphor of the territorial collective apathy because you start to think about why to be in action inside a context or “sistema” where all the elements seems to be compromise by diffuse incompetence and inability to deal with everyday routine.
This phenomena of the apathy represent a feeling of drowsiness and social inutility inside the youth mind with the consequences that peoples starts to think to be not prepare, unable to entry into a world where are present other valuable codes, other behaviour are positive and all this codes are just not teach inside the educational system.
This feeling of apathy are very spread inside the youth and unemployed community because you feel the impossibility of change inside the society like a condemnation.
This apathy is the result of the difficulty of working in network because of the cynicism value present inside the society and because of a long decade of social egoism inside society.
In order to escape from the feeling of apathy, the persons need to be conscient that alone it is impossible to achieve something important in this context where the resources are allocated in very few hands and this few hands are very careful to not expand this resources inside some not grateful groups. This situation has create a extreme amount of frustration inside the more competent youth defraud de facto of gaining opportunity from other youths or social groups choose by people in power for pursuing the future career. This context has create a important cost of social injustice for the collective face of youth persons in Italy and especially in south of the nation.
The feeling of apathy touch usually the peoples with a more important cultural capital even if nowadays with the strong economic crisis workers people can have the same feeling for other reasons like for examples: not accepted immobility from work, difficulty of accepting idea of unemployment and so forth. This social group can live the same feeling of apathy in term of closeness to the world and inadequate feelings in front of a changing world.
The apathy represent a emotional response in front of a reality in which you don't have the key access. The dimension of apathy is linked with the cultural dimension that your life are not in your hand and you live with a sense of abandonment.
Cultural scene in Italy
The societal debate in Italy have a distant emotional device because the in-group members lived in self-referential and the citizen are just a external spectator of the own future.
The public sphere are represented by the television and national press has element in strong correlation between them. In this atmosphere, the citizen are completely ignored, misled from the position of aware citizen because all the system work with the notion of self-referentiality.
This is the main reason for not speaking about the problem of everyday life because politics need only to speak about politicians not about policy. Strong social distance from the population in accord to Hofstede model of cultural analysis are a good starting point in order to understand this context. Even scandal are in a certain way functional to the politics in order to legitimate their leadership inside the society. The self-referentiality with a strong use of mass-media represent the only for politicians to legitimate their position. They don't need really to legitimate in term of what they do but more in term of mediatic exposition their presence. All this for not speaking about the citizenship and their real problems.
The only participants are some politicians, some supposed journalists is the only way for being introduce in this circle of self-referentiality.
In very rare case, it is possible to have some interaction between politicians and citizens. In this situation, we can see clearly a strong degree of imposition ( Brown, Levinson ,1978) between the politicians able to put into a silent position the citizen during a debate like the minister Martelli with a citizen-spectator inside the television show Anno Zero as a result that in cultural term, we can assume that the politician believe that the citizen are incompetent for discussing with him.
From this point of view we can think that politician have eliminated from the general media any kind of important information with the consequences that politicians can think that people don't known exactly what's going now inside the parliament. A constant element in cultural term is a lack of respect to the collective face of the citizen inside the Italian politicians.
The goal of this self-referentiality is functional to maintain the status quo, in other word pushing people to live the politics like something far from them in order to keep “ few” to manage with the affair of “many”. All the citizen not spectator will be called like “anti-politics” partisan from the in-group at the power.
The key point in this description is the unclear language use by this politicians in order to create uncertainty, ambiguity, technicality as a way of pushing outside the ring the citizen and as a result it is the best way for killing effective democracy.
All the linguistic device are well used in order to misled the citizen like for example: preventive polemics, objection premeditate, bureaucratic and business terminology in order to keep save the self-referentiality and all the cast members. They eat all the welfare state of Italy and leave nothing to the people.
Mezzogiorno as a cultural scene
Mezzogiorno as a cultural dimension mean a setting where the main problem are the daily routine. In other words, how to park a car, the long queue at the post office, the incompetence of the people, the non presence of public transportation in many place, non respect of basic politeness between person represent the main issue for understanding this context. Every day you live with anxiety the realisation of little things like to pay a bill into a post office or to wait a bus for moving into the city.
In order to mitigate all this negative aspects of life, the majority of the people use the personal relationship with people for obtaining as a favour what it's just your right. Into the south, the people don't look the employee like someone available to me but they are looking for some personal relationship with this person in order to receive a better customer service.
In Mezzogiorno, it is possible to encounter a kind of conversation called “menefreghista” ( careless in english) as a cultural response to the impossibility of change and don't want to be engaged in something too big for them. Our destiny are not in our hands is a common point inside this purpose.
In the south of Italy, the family ( for most people) are always pleased to help you as a way of keeping influence on you even when you don't live anymore inside the family house or to be very intrusive when you live inside the nuclear family like this period of the history.
A strong influential power still into the hand of television in south of Italy as i called a legal drug for keeping alive many peoples without any kind of life like desperate housewife or youth in rural province of Italy.