Relationships are the Antidote to the Crisis

logo_convention_edc_2011_rid_ridThe Economy of Communion has a specific contribution it can give: An interview with Professor Stefano Bartolini from the University of Siena

Relationships are the Antidote to the Crisis

by Antonella Ferrucci

Stefano_Bartolini_ridStefano Bartolini, Economics Professor at the University of Siena, had an interesting analysis of the current crises which he proposed at Loppiano, on September 17, during the Italian Convention of the EoC’s 20 years.

My speech is entitled ‘From the U.S. to Lionello,’” he says, “because this is a crisis created by an exceptional debt of the American households, which for 20 years they lived beyond their means and eventually became insolvent. All the rest is a financial contagion.” How did all this happen? “At the root of this crisis is the extraordinary American consumerism, a disease that we could call ‘consumerism bulimia.’”

“To understand why, we can look at three different indicators. The first: in the last 30 years, the economic branch that deals with the welfare of the people (the economics of happiness) has noted a steady decrease of happiness in the United States. The second: working hours have increased, holidays are less and less, and Americans are working like mad. The third: relational goods have collapsed. Solitude has increased at the expense of trust, friendship, and family relationships. Society has been defeated. Of course that weighs on the happiness of the individuals.”

“People, with increasingly poor relations, have to work harder in an economy where social ties undoes the money needed. On one hand, the services readily exchanged in the context of family relationships and friendship (the care of children and the elderly for example) now have to be paid, because this circle of relationships is no more; on the other, the material goods offset an undeniable compensation to poverty: I am alone, is it not safe to go out on the streets in the evening? I bought the home theater entertainment and close myself in the house. But it is a vicious cycle: fewer relationships and more work. The more I more work the less time I have to establish new relationships. Now all of this in the U.S. has exploded.”

And here comes the “connection” with Lionello Business Park: “Economy of Communion, which focuses on the relationships, begins from an idea of an economy that is opposite to the one that caused this crisis. It exactly for this, the contribution it can make in rebuilding relations, that it can be an antidote to all of this.”

Professor Bartolini, entrepreneurs at the EoC Convention have already said something about this, can you elaborate more on this point? What can the EoC really do, from its small reality, to be an antidote to the crisis?

“The problem of the crisis in the United States was tied to the idea of building an economy completely detached from society. Business is business, and society and relations are another matter. It is not true, these things go together and if the society goes into crisis, sooner or later the economy will also be in crisis, and that is exactly what happened. From this point of view the Economy of Communion is much more important than, perhaps, anyone who are involved realize. It is a different economic system idea, where the economy is combined with the people’s social relations. The idea of the EoC is based on the fact that economic activity must be based on relations, reinforcing them and promoting them, because these two worlds, relationships and society on one side and economics on the other, are not two separate worlds; they must go together. Generally said, the social experiment that was attempted in the United States for the past 30 years is to create persons made for the economy. The EoC’s idea is exactly the opposite: the economy must be made for the people. It is a proposal which I consider of great importance.”

 

How would you spread more the message of the EoC?

I think the power of example is very important. Of course, the example might tend to be “confined” in terms of communication. My impression is that, beyond the spreading strategies of this experience, reality walks fast enough to make itself visible. Even the European society, over the past two decades, has unfortunately gone in the direction of an economy completely detached from the society, but even here the system is collapsing at an unthinkable speed. What I imagine is that the few working examples remaining will be very visible in no time.

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