Archivi categoria: Economia

Geopolitics: a Philosophical Approach

 

 

These my brand-new reflections on geopolitics present it as a philosophical field, emphasizing the influence of geography on political strategies and the impact of geopolitical actions on collective identities and human conditions. It integrates classical philosophical thoughts on power and State acts, aiming to deepen the understanding of nations’ strategic behaviours and ethical considerations. This reflective approach seeks to enhance insights into global interactions and the shaping of geopolitical landscapes.

 

A Philosophy of Geopolitics

Part II

 

The neglect of substantial plurality precedes a deontological approach to historical action that denies any normative significance to any semantics of interest. The choice of “semantics” is deliberate: what we commonly encounter is a widespread aversion to a normative sense that is embodied in a subjectivity, or in a design, preceding the specific meaning conveyed by any particular historical interest. Every productive impulse, and thus every theoretical justification for it, which finds its essential basis in a specific historical reality, is systematically stripped of any normative prerogative, hence any ethical character, the right to be included in a properly ethical discourse. Looking back, what might appear as an externality in a discourse of self-understanding of the historical subject is in fact a natural corollary: how to establish an ethical claim on a postulated reality? If the very existence of a particular historical reality is accidental, incidental, and almost necessarily an obstacle to any anthropological optimism, how can its value be recognized in a sense that is inherently intersubjective and often universally so? Moreover, while it might be strong to claim, thinking of Aristotle, that every ethics is an “ontoteleology”, the thought of ethics cannot be divorced from the thought of its field of application, particularly the subject that realizes it within that field. What, then, is the ethics, or rather, the field of ethics, that the thought of our epoch suggests to us? Perhaps by filling the argument with the typically Western content of entrenched rationalism, we are directed towards an ethically normative sense of truth. Truth must command: in this preliminary and purely abstract sense, the postmodernists have offered a truly effective critical reading. Ultimately, despite some voluntarist deviations, the West and Western thought have based their philosophy of praxis on analysis, on the (presumed?) ethical power of fact, of truth. The ups and downs of ethical intellectualism? Perhaps it is more accurate to speak of its depowered version, lacking the psychological assumptions universally imposed by the Socratic precedent. In any case, we are inclined to conceive of political action as directly emanating from the “right principles” (here too, we refer to Sieyes) and their more or less precise possession. “Auctoritas, non veritas, facit legem” is typically suspended as the cynical muttering of the darkest of philosophers, or occasionally applied as an interpretative lens to the status quo of countries that do not enjoy our certification of civilization. We prefer the faith-based, justificatory reference to a meta-historical, and thus meta-empirical, reality that would inevitably crown a political praxis consistent with it, thereby reversing the order of causes, which requires a deontological code as the luxury afforded by fulfilling one’s key strategic duties.
If political action results from the accessibility or, conversely, the obfuscation of political principles, it nonetheless means that there is a gradation among political realities that populate history. We indeed have a thematization of subjectivity, but only from these premises, which provide just enough space for a transient subjectivity, oriented towards its own obsolescence. Thus, the nation-State, protagonist of the modern saga despite hasty announcements of its demise. The State remains, however, only a significant example of a broader cultural text that develops around the theme of subjectivity. Kant’s famous response to the question of what Enlightenment is—man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity—illustrates a historical sense of subtraction, of clarification, of a fundamentally deconstructive and fundamentally cognitive work. Years later, a thinker aligned with quite different positions, Joseph De Maistre, will lament the historically deconstructive, diabolical significance of those philosophes, whom he never distinctly separates from the political protagonists of the French Revolution. Rightly so. The first revolution to be exported was not the Bolshevik one, but the French revolution; the ideological meaning of this export is to restore man to himself, against the powers of the old order that hold him hostage. Modernity delivers us a formally transient subjectivity, as a vector that ferries man outside of history. The specific content of this form is a pedagogical, educational content. It is futile to enumerate the ideal of civilization that guided the Age of Empires. However, with the reductio ad Americam of the West, this imaginary has been replaced by that, quite sensible, of the global policeman. A minimal discontinuity, certainly, but perhaps still imprecise. The fundamental ideological cipher remains not so much to punish but to educate, often combined in the illusion that imposing a minimal moralia will steer the course of things towards the inevitable arrival of the other at oneself. A “Foucauldian” policeman, who imposes discipline only because he is interested in the educational and productive sense it embodies. A policeman who can produce a discipline that stands on its own, well aware of the right principles that sustain it. A policeman who, therefore, has a historical task that on paper remains transient, occasional.


Geopolitics embodies a profoundly different epistemology. Truth finds its place only in the mapping of reality, but it plays no leading role. Or rather, it plays no unifying, distinguishing role. It does not animate history. In the analytical practice, truth is dethroned, sidelined; mapping reality means identifying the conflicting interests that traverse it, maintaining a decisive agnosticism about the real possibilities of sacrificing them in the name of a rational, communicative type of pacification. For such an approach, everything is equally legitimate: emotion, symbolism, irrationality. Everything that exists in reality, concerning which, we repeat, the observer’s task is merely one of simple mapping. The meta-empirical approach is disavowed, belittled. The only truth is the effective truth.
The conditions for such a pure fidelity to historical matter lie in the recognition of the substantial nature of the subjectivities that comprise it. This fits within a broader approach that loses all meta-historical trust, all eschatological deformation. Beyond history, nothing. The historical fact derives its legitimacy from itself, and relations with history are finally pacified. The only law is the ability to impose oneself, hence the accusations of cynicism directed at geopolitics. This too is an epistemological approach: it is not an exact science to be contrasted with the pseudoscience of modern political philosophy and its sole surviving offshoot, the liberal variant.
Geopolitics presents at a unique moment the alternative to the dual problematic of subjectivity developed earlier. By recognizing an absolute value in the subjectivities that populate history, by disavowing any possibility of misinterpreting them as “mis-leadings” or of arranging them according to a hierarchy of legitimacy, it recognizes their plurality. Plurality and substantiality, therefore. The possibility of imagining a monistic meta-history vanishes, on the one hand because monism is a myth, and on the other because the demystification of this myth precisely passes through the idea of the perennial, plural, and conflictual fabric of history. That, in turn, presupposes the rejection of any “outside” of history: it is for this reason that geopolitics embodies the long-awaited overcoming of the post-historical posture that, rightly, all culturally sensible realities diagnose in Europe in general, and Italy in particular.
We repeat: the dualism between the current thought and geopolitics is not that between a pseudoscience and a science. Geopolitics is not the philosopher’s stone or a rigorous science: like all historical disciplines, it is rough and imprecise. Beyond its predictive outcomes, it is not premature to suggest the cultural import of the advancing epistemology it represents. Namely, not because, as a science, it will make its way by dint of scientific successes, but because, if it is true that the succession of worldviews is the result of the succession of historical periods, geopolitics may represent a vision more suited to the historical phase we are preparing to face. In the hope of confronting it with adequate concepts, for not knowing how to think reality is equivalent to not knowing how to inhabit it.

 

 

 

 

Geopolitics: a Philosophical Approach

 

 

These my brand-new reflections on geopolitics present it as a philosophical field, emphasizing the influence of geography on political strategies and the impact of geopolitical actions on collective identities and human conditions. It integrates classical philosophical thoughts on power and State acts, aiming to deepen the understanding of nations’ strategic behaviours and ethical considerations. This reflective approach seeks to enhance insights into global interactions and the shaping of geopolitical landscapes.

 

A Philosophy of Geopolitics

Part I

 

The increased prominence of geopolitics is readily observable, as evidenced by the substantial airtime devoted to this subject in recent television broadcasts. This resurgence is predominantly lexical, a development of significant import considering that our cognitive frameworks are shaped by the extent of our lexicon, as substantiated by Heidegger’s profound analyses. Notably, this lexical revival eschews Anglicisms, marking it as an exceptional trend. The question arises: is this surge in interest merely a temporal anomaly or does it signify a fundamental transformation in our cultural paradigm? To engage with this understated debate, it is indeed beneficial to contemplate the structural demands of our society that may be driving the rejuvenation of geopolitical discourse.
History was scarcely proclaimed to have ended when declarations of its resurgence began to surface, highlighted by events in 2001, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2014, 2020, and 2022, with terrorism, China, Putin, Israel, and intermittently Covid-19 being identified as central figures. These assertions aim to awaken Italy and Europe from the soporific embrace of postmodernity, yet they falter in pinpointing a definitive event that reawakens our historical consciousness. No event conveniently lends itself to a singular interpretation, and it is a fallacy of realism to assume a transparent epistemological clarity of historical occurrences. The real tragedy is our diminished capacity to ascribe historical and strategic significance to events, indicative of an atrophied historical sensibility. Cultural issues of posture cannot be resolved with expedient solutions, yet a gradual disintegration of the myth of post-history might be emerging. The concept of “longue durée,” largely overlooked by those preoccupied with the immediate, who confuse data for outcomes, could potentially disrupt our complacency.
We will not “return” to history; rather, we will come to recognize that we are still enveloped within it. This acknowledgment is fundamentally a cultural endeavour, wherein the future relevance and viability of geopolitics become pertinent. As a unique instance, and more crucially, as an indication of cultural reform rather than a revolution, this recognition will not be without discomfort. Moving beyond the simplistic reductions promoted by a certain brand of populist empiricism that champions fact-checking as a cure-all and views various disciplines as mere collections of data, we must accept that it is the modes of thought and the theoretical assumptions that orient our focus and interpretation of reality that constitute the spiritual core of a civilization. Thomas Kuhn might describe this as a shift in “paradigms.” The crucial question then becomes: where will necessary changes concentrate, and which cultural forms are currently impeding the development of geopolitics?
Understanding the methodology of prevailing thought, which we term “epochal thought,” involves outlining the self-concept it engenders. An epistemological reform, deemed essential for the advancement of geopolitics and as a precondition for it, must start with a comprehensive reassessment of the self-representation that underlies and influences our historical narrative. Every philosophy of history, and every historiographical philosophy, features a protagonist. In our case, this role is assumed by the “prehistoric individual” (distinct from “prehistorical”). This concept, vigorously discussed in various texts including the fifth chapter of the pamphlet “What is the Third Estate?” by abbé Emmanuel Joseph Sieyès, occupies a central position in much of modern political philosophy. The prehistoric individual is described as pre-collective, pre-ideological, and sometimes pre-linguistic, yet almost never pre-economic. “Prehistoric” might be the most apt description, as this idea stems from the philosophical tradition of conjectural history, predominantly Enlightenment in nature. This tradition, while indirectly critiquing gaps in historiography, primarily explores the potential to identify the “nature” of humans, purportedly external to history. On one hand, this surpasses historiography for situational reasons; on the other, it subtly undermines it by replacing it with a methodology believed to more accurately address the question of human nature. This approach, deeply rooted in ancient Greek philosophy, aimed to remove the mystifying contingencies from the contemplation of a truer reality. The contemporary use of this age-old practice in modern political philosophy has led to the “accidentalization” of history. Much of the current philosophical and political discourse is essentially a commentary on the notion of the “end of history,” which is often misconceived as an event rather than a concept. Indeed, the end of history is perpetually imminent, given our prehistoric or, more precisely, ahistorical anthropological philosophy, which is inherently monistic. We routinely dismiss the qualitative distinctions that define history, which are its essence and dynamic force, as mere contingencies. It could be provocatively argued that modernity has left us with an anti-philosophy of history. The legacy of a de-objectified humanity, never the creator of its own nature, remains ensnared in the ceaseless stasis of its own inertia—a shadow more tangible than reality itself, blind to the distinctions crafted by human agency.

 

 

 

 

 

Geopolitics: a Philosophical Approach

 

 

These my brand-new reflections on geopolitics present it as a philosophical field, emphasizing the influence of geography on political strategies and the impact of geopolitical actions on collective identities and human conditions. It integrates classical philosophical thoughts on power and State acts, aiming to deepen the understanding of nations’ strategic behaviours and ethical considerations. This reflective approach seeks to enhance insights into global interactions and the shaping of geopolitical landscapes.

 

Introduction to Geopolitics

A Philosophical Reflection

 

Geopolitics, a term that evokes the image of global chessboards on which nations move and interact, represents a field of study that transcends mere territorial or political analysis. At its deepest core, it is a philosophical reflection on the nature of power, identity, and collective existence within the global context. This introduction aims to explore the philosophical dimensions inherent in geopolitics, prompting a more nuanced and reflective understanding of the events and strategies that shape our world.
Geopolitics is a multifaceted discipline that intertwines the fixed reality of geography with the dynamic ambitions of global politics, painting a broad canvas that illuminates the strategic manoeuvres nations deploy as they navigate power, influence, and survival on the world stage. This discipline not only considers how physical spaces—mountains, rivers, seas, and natural resources—dictate political possibilities and limitations but also how these geographical factors are leveraged in the quest for geopolitical dominance.
At the heart of philosophical reflection on geopolitics lies the question of power: what is power, who holds it, and how is it exercised on a global scale? Power, in this context, is understood not only in terms of military or economic capability but also as cultural, ideological, and informational power. Thus, geopolitics is configured as the study of power dynamics in an interconnected world, where the actions of one nation can influence, directly or indirectly, the lives of individuals on the other side of the globe.
Another fundamental aspect is identity. Nations, like people, possess complex and multifaceted identities, shaped by history, culture, and relationships with others. These identities play a crucial role in international politics, as they influence perceptions, national interests, and actions on the world stage. Geopolitics thus invites us to consider how collective identities are formed, clash, and transform over time, offering a lens through which to examine the conflicts, alliances, and negotiations that characterize international relations.
Finally, geopolitics challenges us to reflect on human collective existence in an era of globalization. In an increasingly interconnected world, issues of sovereignty, autonomy, and interdependence become increasingly complex and nuanced. Philosophical geopolitics invites us to explore these tensions, asking fundamental questions about the nature of the global order, international justice and human rights, and how we can build a shared future that respects diversity and promotes peace.
The philosophical exploration of geopolitics invites us to ponder deeper existential and ethical questions concerning power, territory, and human intent, drawing from the rich intellectual traditions of several key philosophers.


In Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes posits that human life in the state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” a state of perpetual conflict that mirrors the relentless competition seen in international relations. His notion that the fear of violent death necessitates the establishment of a powerful sovereign can be analogized to the ways States seek security and power in an anarchic international system.
John Locke is known for his thoughts on government, property, and the social contract. His philosophies are essential for understanding the legitimacy of State power and its roots in the management and ownership of land. Locke’s theories directly relate to how nations justify their geopolitical strategies and claims, emphasizing the importance of consent and rightful authority in the stewardship of resources.
Immanuel Kant proposed that geographical boundaries and the size of a political body affect the governance structure and its representation of the people. His views in Perpetual Peace suggest a subtle acknowledgment of geopolitical constraints and opportunities, articulating a framework where peace can be systematically envisioned and pursued through international cooperation and shared norms.
Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of the “will to power” underscores a fundamental drive in human behaviour that extends to the behaviour of States. Nietzsche’s ideas illuminate the underlying motivations for geopolitical actions, where nations are seen as entities in constant struggle for dominance or survival, driven by a deep-seated will to assert and expand their influence.
The integration of these philosophical perspectives offers a deeper understanding of the strategic behaviours exhibited on the global stage. Whether it’s in the distribution of critical resources, the strategic placement of military bases, or the formation of powerful alliances, the philosophical underpinnings of geopolitics highlight the inherent conflicts and negotiations that define international relations.
By considering these philosophical views, we gain insights into the enduring nature of power struggles, the ethical dimensions of territorial disputes, and the continuous impact of geographical realities on political decisions. These perspectives not only enrich our understanding of current geopolitical dynamics but also help us foresee how shifts in power and geography might shape the future global order.
This broader, more nuanced approach to geopolitics, enriched with philosophical inquiry, encourages a more comprehensive reflection on the reasons nations act as they do and the possible paths towards cooperation or conflict. It challenges us to critically assess the driving forces behind geopolitical strategies and to contemplate the long-term impacts of these actions on global peace and stability.
In conclusion, approaching geopolitics from a philosophical perspective allows us to go beyond superficial analysis of global events, prompting us to question the very bases of our coexistence on the planet. It challenges us to think critically about power structures, identity, and interdependence, thus providing the tools to better understand and, perhaps, positively influence the complex dynamics that shape our world.

 

 

 

 

State, sovereignty, law and economics
in the era of globalization

 

 

 

Taken from my lectures as a Teaching Fellow in International Law, these reflections highlight how State sovereignty and International Law are profoundly influenced by globalization, economic integration and digital technologies, raising fundamental questions about global governance, State autonomy and the adaptation of legal structures to new economic and technological realities.

 

Part VIII

To conclude

 

Globalization and technological advancement have stripped States of significant portions of sovereignty, undermining their ability to independently exercise legislative power, a fundamental aspect in tax regulation. Cyberspace eradicates physical barriers, making borders permeable and creating spaces unregulated by any State authority, floating between the territorial realities defined by countries. This gives rise to de-territorialised digital environments, characterized by a widespread lack of physical tax identity and the virtualization of tax bases, escaping traditional tax logic. In this context, profits generated beyond national borders become nearly unreachable for State taxes. Thus, the internet is configured as a lawless territory, where State sovereignty seems to lose its grip, leaving room for a new order to be built. While the State attempts to maintain control over the remnants of sovereignty eroded by the digital, projecting them onto static taxpayers, mobile incomes, and capitals benefit from the elimination of geographical distances thanks to technology, moving silently and without leaving tangible traces.
The advent of the internet has posed new challenges to State taxation, pushing towards an adaptation of sovereignty principles to the dynamics of e-commerce. Internationally, efforts have been made to create a uniform legal framework that balances the fiscal needs of States with the development of digital commerce, through international cooperation and the renegotiation of traditional tax principles.
The issue of regulating the web legally calls for a radical change in perspective, rising above the earthly and traditional conceptions of law and its violation. Globalization challenges the linearity of legal thought, inviting a vertical reflection that can accommodate the complexities of the digital world. In this scenario, the law takes on a new dimension, seeking to give shape and limits to transgression, distinguishing itself from a purely moral approach and trying to establish a balance between the fluidity of digital relations and the need for a legal order that can regulate them effectively.

 

 

 

 

State, sovereignty, law and economics
in the era of globalization

 

 

 

Taken from my lectures as a Teaching Fellow in International Law, these reflections highlight how State sovereignty and International Law are profoundly influenced by globalization, economic integration and digital technologies, raising fundamental questions about global governance, State autonomy and the adaptation of legal structures to new economic and technological realities.

 

Part VII

International Law and Tax Law

 

 

The process of conflict mediation emerges as a daunting challenge at the nexus of law and politics, embarking on a journey through duality and transformation. This text is imbued with deep reflections on the genesis of legal systems: every stable structure springs from chaos, perpetually sailing on the turbulent waters of uncertainty and potential dissolution. The figure of Janus, the Roman god with two faces looking towards both past and future, symbolizes this endless transition between creation and destruction, order and chaos, the internal and the external. Law, akin to Janus, embraces this essential duality, delving into the dynamics of construction and deconstruction, and contrasting warfare with peace, justice with force, State with territory, and politics with economy. “Janus in the mirror” mirrors the complex self-examination of law, challenging static perception and inviting to a fourfold reflection. This duality extends to the sovereignty of States, transformed and expanded beyond national boundaries by technology, suggesting a new understanding of space and territoriality in the digital age. The relationship between “de-nomosized” spaces and those to be “re-nomosized” reveals an ongoing dialogue between past and future, highlighting the need for a balance between tradition and innovation in law.
The sovereignty of a State, characterized by its capacity to autonomously regulate other wills within a given territory, is confronted with the challenges of globalization and power sharing. Legislation, inherently linked to State sovereignty, becomes a battleground between traditional exercises of power and the pressures of globalization, which reshape the coordinates of political and legal space. The progressive erosion of State sovereignty, catalysed by global interconnectedness and supranational dynamics, questions the very foundations of State power. In this context, new forms of cooperation and governance emerge, requiring a rethinking of traditional norms and principles in favour of a more inclusive and multilateral approach, reflecting the complexity of international and transnational relationships in an interconnected world.
The concept of fiscal sovereignty, understood as the State’s capacity to levy taxes within its territorial borders and as an expression of independence in international relations, reflects the complexity of global economic dynamics. The distinction between the power of taxation tied to territory and the transnational nature of investments raises fundamental questions about the regulation and application of fiscal laws. With the expansion of international trade, there is a highlighted need to adapt fiscal regulations to the realities of a globalized economy, recognizing both the territorial limits of the State and its ability to influence economic situations beyond its borders. This debate on the extraterritorial character of tax discipline underscores the importance of finding a balance between national sovereignty and international cooperation in the era of globalization.
The context of international law is characterized by its intricate web of rules, distinguished by the diversity of their sources and a substantive consistency in their aims. This framework reflects the sovereignty of each nation, seen as an autonomous and sovereign entity, particularly in the context of tax legislation, where the principle of exclusive territorial jurisdiction prevails.
Despite this, there is no unified body of laws governing international tax matters between States. Instead, tax law and international law merge to facilitate the harmonious coexistence of States, considered equal in their right to exercise sovereignty and in maintaining their supreme authority. This integration is based on international cooperation to resolve disputes between different tax jurisdictions, driven by global interaction and economic relations.
Thus, the concept of international tax law relies on conventions against double taxation in the absence of direct tax imposition. This branch of law, unlike private international law, does not aim to resolve discrepancies between laws but rather to manage conflicts between different fiscal claims. International tax treaties seek to limit the legislative power of States to mitigate instances of double taxation, with each State agreeing to relinquish a portion of its taxation right in favour of the other, based on principles of reciprocity and mutually agreed arrangements.
On the other hand, supranational tax law is distinguished by being issued by entities that override States, such as international organizations with their own legal personality, significantly broadening the scope of application compared to convention-based tax law. While the latter focuses primarily on preventing double taxation, supranational law can directly regulate the substance of tax laws, deeply influencing national legislations.
A prime example is the tax law of the European Union, which highlights the EU’s supremacy over its member States and whose impact on national laws is widely recognized. However, this does not necessarily imply a divergence between international tax law and EU law. Community law integrates into national legal systems through a process of adoption based on the founding treaties of the EU, thus highlighting its uniqueness and its particular effect on national legal systems, while remaining part of the broader context of international tax law.

 

 

 

 

State, sovereignty, law and economics
in the era of globalization

 

 

 

Taken from my lectures as a Teaching Fellow in International Law, these reflections highlight how State sovereignty and International Law are profoundly influenced by globalization, economic integration and digital technologies, raising fundamental questions about global governance, State autonomy and the adaptation of legal structures to new economic and technological realities.

 

Part VI

On Hegel again

 

The market narrative transforms into a tale of synchronism, capturing the temporal reality of individuals and propelling them into an electronic and offshore dimension where spatial and State boundaries dissolve. This process occurs in a context where anchorage becomes purely formal on a legal level and deeply meaningful economically. At the heart of market dynamics lies its very essence, outlined by a sphere where competition and the repetition of competitive challenges find their place. However, the existence of the market presupposes a legal and institutional framework, manifested through a set of laws, regulations, principles, and practices, thus inviting the State to participate, in a relationship where the market law becomes a matter for the State, sometimes in competition with other State entities.
In the global context, the uninterrupted presence of financial technology dominates, opening doors to new possibilities. The modern lex mercatorum operates in a globally undifferentiated and spatially de-qualified market, but still characterized by the political division into different States, aiming to overcome legal discontinuities and regulate uniformly the spatial deformity of territories, reconciling the needs of the stateless mercantile society with those of national States.
This situation introduces a dilemma between universality and multiplicity, renewing the concept of nomos, which no longer identifies with the unification of law and territory, but reflects the interdependence and independence of actors from the State, highlighting a permanent friction between States and markets. Consequently, the law finds itself weakened between the limited territoriality of norms and the universality of economic relations, challenging the old narratives of State.
This new dynamic sets Earth and Sea as symbols of the different potentialities of existence and contrasting scenarios of human history, where the Earth is seen as the mother of law and the Sea as a domain free from juridical and spatial boundaries, symbolizing infinite freedom.
Finally, the ancient act of land occupation, nomos, clashes with the universalism of economic exchanges, leading to the necessity of a new legal category that can rationalize the chaotic space of globalization. This need leads to the conception of a law that transcends terrestrial constraints, offering new perspectives to regulate the vast and indeterminate space of major economic exchanges, with technology emerging as a regulating principle. In this scenario, the law adapts to regulate the digital and transnational economy, challenging the traditional opposition between territorial law and global economy.
The rhetorical figure of the owl associated with Minerva is often invoked to attribute to Hegel and his philosophical thought a belated, almost posthumous role: that of intervening in reality only to confirm and ratify events that have already occurred. In this interpretation, Hegel’s philosophy would be reduced to an ideology that retroactively legitimizes what has already happened, thus representing a historical narrative written by the victors, emerging at twilight similarly to the appearance of an owl.
However, Hegel’s assertion that “what is real is rational, and what is rational is real” invites us to view the present through a conceptual lens, allowing the intellect to become an active agent in shaping reality. Consequently, the symbolism of the owl should not be interpreted as mere legitimization of the existing state of affairs, but rather as a call for thought to embark on a gradual and profound process of understanding, in order to mould the future. The task of conceptual elaboration thus proves essential for mediating and resolving conflicts, organizing them into a dynamic unity that, despite its cohesion, does not erase the distinctive peculiarities of each position.
Hegel thus emerges as the architect of thoughtful mediation, strongly opposing any attempt at immediate or superficial solutions. He criticizes the pursuit of intuitive and spontaneous genius, as well as rejects any form of mystical ecstasy or charisma, abhorring the presumption of those who claim to be direct spokespersons of divinity or interpreters of the absolute through altered states of consciousness. Dialectics, for Hegel, is precisely that method of thought capable of organizing and synthesizing conflict through careful and gradual elaboration, merging universality with the vital needs of every single component.

 

 

 

 

 

Discorso sull’origine e i fondamenti della diseguaglianza
tra gli uomini

di Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Un terreno recintato e la società civile

 

 

 

 

Jean-Jacques Rousseau, nel suo Discorso sull’origine e i fondamenti della diseguaglianza tra gli uomini, pubblicato nel 1755, esamina le radici profonde e le conseguenze della diseguaglianza umana, presentando una critica serrata alle società moderne, basate sulle istituzioni e sulla proprietà privata. Quest’opera si distingue quale uno dei testi fondamentali nella storia della filosofia politica e sociale, proponendo una riflessione profonda che interpella ancora oggi il lettore su temi di bruciante attualità.
Il Discorso è stato scritto in un’epoca di grande fermento intellettuale, il cosiddetto “secolo dei Lumi”, durante il quale in Europa si principiò a mettere in discussione le strutture tradizionali del sapere e del potere. Rousseau si inserisce in questo dibattito con una posizione originale e spesso in contrasto con altri pensatori illuministi, come Voltaire e Diderot, critici nei suoi confronti. Il suo pensiero si fa portavoce di un ritorno alla natura e alla semplicità originaria dell’uomo, concetti che prefigurano i temi romantici e rivoluzionari successivi.
Il trattato è diviso in due parti principali. Nella prima, è descritto lo stato di natura dell’uomo, un periodo ideale in cui gli individui vivevano isolati, pacifici e in armonia con la natura, liberi da bisogni artificiali e dalla corruzione morale. Questa condizione utopica è segnata da una perfetta eguaglianza tra gli uomini, in netto contrasto con lo stato attuale. Nella seconda parte, è analizzato come l’umanità sia passata da questo stato di natura a quello di società civile. “Il primo uomo che, avendo recinto un terreno, ebbe l’idea di proclamare questo è mio, e trovò altri così ingenui da credergli, costui è stato il vero fondatore della società civile. Quanti delitti, quante guerre, quanti assassinii, quante miserie, quanti orrori avrebbe risparmiato al genere umano colui che, strappando i pali o colmando il fosso, avesse gridato ai suoi simili: «Guardatevi dall’ascoltare questo impostore; se dimenticherete che i frutti sono di tutti e che la terra non è di nessuno, sarete perduti!»”, scrive Rousseau, ponendo l’accento sul ruolo della proprietà privata come origine principale delle diseguaglianze: con l’accumulo e la delimitazione della proprietà, si sviluppano invidia, competizione e, di conseguenza, il governo e le leggi come mezzi di protezione delle ricchezze acquisite. Questa transizione segna per Rousseau la perdita dell’originaria libertà e uguaglianza, dando vita a un’infelicità diffusa e a conflitti continui.
Uno dei pilastri filosofici del Discorso è proprio la riflessione su come la proprietà privata sia la radice delle diseguaglianze. Rousseau sostiene che, con la sua introduzione, gli esseri umani siano diventati competitivi, gelosi e aggressivi. Questa idea ha influenzato le successive teorie filosofiche e politiche, ponendo le basi per le discussioni moderne sul capitalismo e sul comunismo.


Rousseau, poi, esamina la relazione tra libertà individuale e accettazione del potere politico, interrogandosi sulla legittimità delle istituzioni che privano l’individuo della libertà a favore dell’ordine sociale. Questo dibattito, tra l’altro, è fondamentale nella storia della filosofia politica e continua a influenzare il pensiero liberale e democratico.
Il filosofo ginevrino è chiaro nel distinguere le diseguaglianze naturali (di forza o intelligenza) da quelle sociali, che derivano da convenzioni umane, come la legge e la proprietà. La sua opera spinge anche a riflettere su come le strutture sociali modellino e, talvolta, distorcano le relazioni umane.
Sebbene Rousseau sia stato un filosofo dell’Illuminismo, molte sue idee conducono una critica radicale del concetto di progresso tecnologico e culturale che altri suoi contemporanei celebravano. Infatti, vede proprio nel progresso la causa di nuove diseguaglianze e dipendenze, una visione che prefigura le moderne critiche al neoliberismo e alla globalizzazione. La sua visione di un’armonia perduta tra l’uomo e la natura è diventata un riferimento per i movimenti ecologisti, mentre la sua critica delle diseguaglianze alimenta il dibattito sulla redistribuzione delle risorse e sulla giustizia economica.
L’analisi di Rousseau, quindi, invita a una riflessione critica sulle basi stesse delle nostre società moderne. Egli suggerisce che le diseguaglianze non siano un inevitabile prodotto naturale ma il risultato di scelte politiche e sociali, spesso radicate in istituzioni ingiuste. La sua critica alla proprietà privata e il suo ideale di un ritorno a uno stato più naturale e egualitario continuano a influenzare le discussioni contemporanee su giustizia sociale, diritti umani e ambientalismo.
Nel Discorso, Rousseau non solo traccia un ritratto critico dell’evoluzione sociale dell’umanità ma pone anche le fondamenta per una filosofia della libertà e dell’eguaglianza. Le sue considerazioni filosofiche e sociali continuano a essere di straordinaria attualità, sfidando le nostre concezioni di giustizia, potere e umanità. La sua opera, quindi, rimane una lettura essenziale per chiunque sia interessato a comprendere le radici filosofiche delle diseguaglianze sociali ed economiche.
La capacità di Rousseau di connettere la filosofia con le questioni sociali concrete rende il suo lavoro immortale, provocatorio e profondamente umano, offrendo spunti di riflessione validi ancora oggi, in un’epoca in cui le diseguaglianze continuano a essere al centro del dibattito politico e sociale globale.

 

 

 

La filosofia inglese e le sue leggi “concrete”

 

Perché gli inglesi hanno dominato il mondo per almeno quattro secoli

 

di

Riccardo Piroddi

 

 

Gli inglesi, per quel che concerne la storia del pensiero, si sono distinti dagli altri popoli europei, antichi e moderni, a causa di quella impronta, ad essi del tutto peculiare, tendenzialmente antimetafisica ed essenzialmente pragmatica. A scorrere rapidamente quella storia, infatti, ciò può essere facilmente notato: quando il Medioevo volgeva ormai al termine, mentre nelle scuole del resto d’Europa i dotti erano ancora impelagati nelle dispute scolastiche sulle prove dell’esistenza di Dio, sugli universali, sulla Trinità e sui quodlibeta, Roger Bacon, filosofo, scienziato e mago, il doctor mirabilis (dottore dei miracoli), fondava la gnoseologia empirica, secondo la quale l’esperienza sia il vero e unico mezzo per acquisire conoscenza del mondo. Tre erano, secondo il filosofo, i modi con cui l’uomo potesse comprendere la verità: con la conoscenza interna, data da Dio tramite l’illuminazione; con la ragione, la quale, però, non è bastevole, e, infine, con l’esperienza sensibile, ovvero tramite i cinque sensi, il non plus ultra di cui esso possa disporre e che gli consente di avvicinarsi alla reale conoscenza delle cose. Il frate francescano William of Ockham, il doctor invincibilis (dottore invincibile), con il suo famosissimo rasoio, semplificò al massimo la spiegazione dei fenomeni, mostrando l’inutilità di moltiplicare le cause e di introdurre enti al di là della fisica: “Frustra fit per plura, quod fieri potest per pauciora” (è inutile fare con più, ciò che si può fare con meno). Francis Bacon, il filosofo dell’adagio “Sapere è potere”, padre della rivoluzione scientifica e del metodo scientifico nell’osservazione e nello studio dei fenomeni attraverso l’induzione, meglio definita e rinnovata rispetto a quella aristotelica, fu avversatore dei pregiudizi, da lui chiamati idola (idoli o immagini), che impedivano la reale conoscenza e intelligenza della natura, e fu ispiratore di un’altra grande mente inglese, Isaac Newton, lo scienziato-osservatore empirico per eccellenza. Thomas Hobbes diede spiegazione a tutti gli aspetti della realtà col suo materialismo meccanicistico, annullando la res cogitans (sostanza pensante) di Cartesio e il suo ambiguo rapporto con la res extensa (sostanza materiale), retroterra sul quale basò la sua concezione della natura umana, della condizione di guerra di tutti contro tutti (l’homo homini lupus), del patto di unione e del patto di società, dai quali sarebbero poi nati, rispettivamente, la civiltà e, attraverso la rinuncia da parte di ogni uomo al suo diritto su tutto e la cessione di questo al sovrano, lo Stato, il Leviathan (Leviatano). John Locke, l’empirista, l’autore di An essay concerning human under standing (Saggio sull’intelletto umano), sosteneva che tutta la conoscenza umana derivasse dai sensi. Indagò le idee e i processi conoscitivi della mente, criticando l’innatismo cartesiano e leibniziano e, tra l’altro, fu strenuo propugnatore del liberalismo politico e della tolleranza religiosa. David Hume, l’estremo dell’empirismo inglese, asseriva, come Locke, che la conoscenza non fosse innata, ma scaturisse dall’esperienza. Egli negò sia la sostanza materiale che quella spirituale, tutto riducendo a sensazione e stato di coscienza. Demolì il concetto di causa, ritenendolo mero costume della mente, suscitato dall’abitudine, e postulò, quali conoscenze universali e necessarie, soltanto quelle della geometria, dell’algebra e dell’aritmetica. Adam Smith, filosofo ed economista, teorizzò l’idea che la concorrenza tra vari produttori e consumatori avrebbe generato la migliore distribuzione possibile di beni e servizi, poiché avrebbe incoraggiato gli individui a specializzarsi e migliorare il loro capitale, in modo da produrre più valore con lo stesso lavoro. E, infine, l’Utilitarismo di Jeremy Bentham e John Stuart Mill prima, con tutte le implicazioni morali (o moralmente inglesi), legate ai concetti di “utile” e di “felicità“, e quello di Henry Sidgwick, poi, col suo edonismo etico, mediante il quale aggiunse importanti precisazioni ai concetti dell’utilitarismo classico. Queste riflessioni filosofiche hanno certo corrispettivo pratico allorquando si osservano attentamente tutte le sfaccettature dell’English way of life e dei princìpi che, ancora oggi, lo animano. Il motivo per cui gli inglesi, fino a circa settant’anni fa, hanno realmente dominato il mondo (basti pensare al British Empire e al Commonwealth), ha le proprie basi nel pragmatismo che, dal 1200 in poi, ha caratterizzato le sue classi intellettuali e, di riflesso, quelle deputate all’azione. Un popolo non condizionato dalla religione, come lo sono stati, dal Medioevo alle soglie dell’età contemporanea, la maggior parte dei Paesi cattolici europei, libero di sottomettere altre genti, che non ha combattuto in nome di Dio ma degli uomini, era destinato ad avere il ruolo che ha avuto e che ancora ha. Del resto, negli stessi anni in cui un bardo venuto dalle Midlands incantava gli spettatori del Globe Theatre a Londra, mettendo in scena l’amore tra Romeo e Giulietta, la filosofia dell’essere e del non essere e la gelosia di Otello, la regina Elisabetta I nominava baronetto il più astuto e lesto pirata della storia: sir Francis Drake!

 

Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

 

Pubblicato l’1 aprile 2017 su La Lumaca

 

State, sovereignty, law and economics
in the era of globalization

 

 

 

Taken from my lectures as a Teaching Fellow in International Law, these reflections highlight how State sovereignty and International Law are profoundly influenced by globalization, economic integration and digital technologies, raising fundamental questions about global governance, State autonomy and the adaptation of legal structures to new economic and technological realities.

 

Part IV

Hegel’s political legacy

 

The titanic struggle between the Lord and the Servant, interpreted through the Marxist lens, highlights the parallel between the feudal lord and the capitalist master. Just as the feudal lord appropriates the products of the Servant’s labour by consuming them directly, the capitalist master strips away the material labour of the worker, converting it into the abstract form of surplus value, the source of his profit. Consequently, the entrepreneur emerges as the adversary of community fabric and its ethical closeness, introducing the cold distance of the abstraction of exchange value.
This analysis overlooks the fact that every trend toward a new feudalism, observable in every projection that privileges the tangible in an era dominated by the abstract, is inherently anachronistic. It presupposes a return to borders in a boundless age, to land in the epoch of space, reinstating demarcations in a universe devoid of constant reference points.
The contemporary reaction to globalization, which inclines towards the recovery of national and community identity, the rediscovery of ethical authenticity devoid of external comparisons, the valorisation of the tangible devoid of commercial exchanges, and of relations devoid of political commitment, reflects a strong political inclination. In this context of total mobilization, the opposition to globalism does not offer a path to emancipation but rather anticipates the birth of new dominators who, exploiting abstraction, leave the current and future Servants to fight for a soil and an existence unalienated: 1) a soil made unproductive not by domination, but by the obsolescence of a thought that seeks legitimacy exclusively in the land; 2) an aspiration to non-alienation that, at the heart of the system, highlights a theft, the alienation of real labour for the gain of capital.
The challenge of globalization cannot be addressed by simply opposing and attempting to reverse positions in the name of values, since even values fit into the logic of the same domain being critiqued. Capitalism is based not so much on the exchange value and the importance of the consumer but on the remuneration of risk and the capacity for entrepreneurial initiative.
The real dynamic between State and market lies in the mutuality of services, a relationship that encompasses the economic, legal, and relational. Contrary to the isolation of the subject theorized by neoclassical economics, the actors in the enterprise are those who enter into a relationship of mutual openness in the market. And on this particular point, the philosophical debate on the relationship between Lord and Servant has much more to explore.
The renewal of the Hegelian conflict between the dominant and the subaltern manifests in the contrast between mobile and globalized individuals and those static, confined to a State or territory. On one side are the Lords who can choose the legal conditions most advantageous to them, on the other are the Servants, anchored to a territory, who therefore suffer increased taxation by impoverished States.
Hegel had already interpreted this conflict as a confrontation between the abstract and the tangible: the Lord, having at his disposal money and language, dispenses with the concreteness of things, substituting them with symbols, just as money does. Instead, the Servant, devoid of substance, possesses only a language and a dialect, incapable of communicating on a universal scale. While the Servants remain anonymous and without public recognition, the Lord, not even needing a surname, is universally recognized.
Money and language emerge from the willingness to risk physical presence, including one’s life. This courage characterizes the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie, admired by Hegel, who celebrates the maritime peoples pioneering in risky trade, such as the Dutch, the English, and the future nation of the United States of America, born from a sea journey. Hegel also admires the Revolution for its capacity to form a state of Servants emancipated from feudal subjection through enterprise rather than arms, introducing intelligence (Geist) into the traditional economy, tied to the land and agriculture. The State thus becomes an expression of this intelligence, overcoming the individualism of particular interests.
Hegel’s reflection on politics and law, filtered through Marxism, identifies the Lord as the master of capital and the Servant as the worker, reduced to a new serf by economic exploitation. However, according to Hegel, emancipation does not occur by replacing the Servant with the Master, a move that historically has generated new Masters, but by breaking the determinism of Marxism through the unpredictability of entrepreneurial initiative. In this perspective, the market reveals itself not as a mere arena of exploitation but as a space where the abstraction of finance can expand the entrepreneurial capacities and social wealth, overcoming the predation of the globalized economy.
Finally, globalization should not be seen merely as a predatory dynamic but rather as the stage on which such a dynamic unfolds, serving as the means through which the predatory action manifests and nourishes itself. The war of techno-finance is not fought through traditional conflicts between States but rather through strategies that exploit States for personal advantages, operations that go beyond traditional territorial boundaries, acting in a parallel cybernetic dimension, without the need for physical movements or advanced armaments.

 

 

 

 

State, sovereignty, law and economics
in the era of globalization

 

 

Taken from my lectures as a Teaching Fellow in International Law, these reflections highlight how State sovereignty and International Law are profoundly influenced by globalization, economic integration and digital technologies, raising fundamental questions about global governance, State autonomy and the adaptation of legal structures to new economic and technological realities.

 

Part III

Globalization and political power

 

The economic globalization has fundamentally redefined the relationship with State-imposed regulations, turning it fluid, unstable, and continuously evolving. The contraction of space and time, driven by technological progress, culminates in the obliteration of physical distances; an emblematic phenomenon of our digital age. Technology, by erasing geographical boundaries, ushers in a new global order, a boundaryless mosaic where time seems to condense into an ethereal instant and physical reality transforms into a digital domain, dissolving matter into a virtual ether. The current era witnesses the merging of the real and the virtual into a singular, indistinguishable reality that is simultaneously dual-faced, surpassing the traditional dichotomy. This fusion marks the end of the national borders era, propelling us into a homogenized global dimension, where unified space heralds an era of universal time.
In the realm of transnational dynamics, an identity emerges that is hybrid, devoid of territorial roots, challenging conventional social and political categories, transforming the legal framework in response to the demands of a global market. In this context, transnational corporations sketch a new order – a “nomos” – that navigates between the local and the global, between the aspirations of a borderless market and the constraints of nation-States, reflecting the complexity of an interconnected world.

The re-evaluation of the State in the global age reveals a radical transformation: the State, traditionally a pillar of authority, power, and decision-making, confronts the pervasiveness of the global economy and the thinning of its sovereignty. Digital technologies and the Internet rewrite the geopolitical rules, eroding the territorial foundations of State sovereignty and promoting an economy’s de-territorialization that transcends national borders, ushering in an era of interconnected global markets elusive to definite localization.
Against this backdrop, new geometries of power and law emerge, where the virtual reality of the economy and the tangible reality of law intertwine, outlining a landscape where transnational dynamics redefine the relationship between State and market. Economic globalization challenges State supremacy, giving rise to an era of reversals: the market assumes a position of dominance over the State, redefining traditional hierarchies and marking a profound discontinuity between the national dimensions of law and the transnational dimensions of the economy.
In this fluid and dynamic context, transnational corporations emerge as new protagonists, shaping legal and economic spaces according to logics independent of State sovereignty. The transnational economic reality and national law coexist in constant tension, reflecting the complexity of a world where old certainties are questioned, and new forms of dominance and resistance emerge. In such a landscape, a new binary order of dominators and dominated manifests, a dichotomy reflecting the inherent inequalities of the globalization era, where technology and finance rewrite the rules of the game, relegating many to the margins of a system that privileges a few chosen ones.