By Luigino Bruni
When we go to visit a friend after an accident, we ask, "How are you?", and they many answer, "My leg is getting better, my rib still hurts, the swelling hasn´t gone down, but my arm is all right". This is the condition of the economy, which is trying to recover from a (serious) accident. Overall, there are three parts of the "body" that were damaged by the September 2008 fall: financial structure, production and employment. The reason that the data on the crisis and the comeback are contrasting is that today we´re talking about the leg, yesterday about the rib and tomorrow about the swelling.
By Marco Minghetti
Published in nova100.ilsole24ore.com on 11/11/09
And still: what responsibility do businesses and even families have in the global economic crisis? Can the totem pole of maximizing profit be challenged? Is there an effective request on the part of individuals and businesses for ethics, or does who speaks of it do so as an empty rhetorical exercise?Luigino Bruni, assistant director of EconomEtica answers these questions and more in this video link
Simone Baroncia´s interview with Luigino Bruni
Published on www.giovanipace.org, September 2009
What is the relationship between agape, the economy and the common good?
The Italian tradition of public happiness considered the economy in view of the common good. The public good, corresponding to the English "common" (collective good), is a direct relationship between the individual and the consumed good. The common good is exactly the opposite: it´s a direct relationship between people, mediated by the use of goods held in common. In the Social Doctrine of the Church, the common good is intended as the "social and communitarian dimension of moral good", and that is why it is "indivisible, because it is only possible to reach it together", as affirmed in n. 164 of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. Agape is a form of love that appears with Christianity. On one hand, in the modern definition of the common good, agape has been set aside, relegated to the private sphere of the family. On the other hand, it has been entrusted to the state through the welfare system, or, in Anglo-Saxon culture, to philanthropy. These are two public forms that have only partially gathered the richness of the dimension of agapic love. One of civilization’s challenges is that of bringing agape back to the center of city life.
By Luigino Bruni
Forgiveness is one of the most profound and universal human experiences. Nevertheless, I believe that we still give too little time to reflect on the nature of this fundamental experience, even though authors like Jankelevitch have dedicated memorable pages on the topic.
A starting point in a discussion about forgiveness is that there is a very profound relationship between gift and forgiveness, and this exists in many languages. In English, for example, the tension between forgive and forget is very beautiful, and this gives us a clue to the true nature of forgiveness. It´s not an act that one carries out in order to unburden himself, to not suffer anymore, to forget. It´s not taking ("getting") but giving. This forgiveness - forgiving to forget - is very common, powerful and important, but it is insufficient for good communal living.
By Luigino Bruni
Published on 08/10/2009 inwww.cittanuova.it
Economy is a social science that makes much use of metaphors and images. The first, and still one of the most famous, was the "invisible hand", the metaphor that economist Adam Smith used to explain the 17th century market as a mechanism that transforms private interests into the common good. Still today, the economy borrows images from sports (competition as a sporting race), from music (the manager as the director of an orchestra), and many other areas. These images allow economists to explain dimensions of reality that remain inaccessible to the language of mathematical formulas and balance exercises. However, metaphors don’t always truly help, and they sometimes lead us astray, especially when the borrowed image is used for ideological goals and has an excessive amount of simplifications.
By Fabio Poles
Published l'11 ottobre 2009 in Gente Veneta, n. 39/2009
«It´s not so much encyclicals that change history and the lives of people. They change history if they are written with the blood of martyrs. He who works so that the strength of an encyclical can be a force of change in history – this is the testimony». With these words, Luigino Bruni, professor of Economy at the University of Milan-Bicocca, gave the opening speech to the 20th year of activity of the School of Formation in Political and Social Commitment of the Patriarchiate of Venice. He was invited to open the congress at the Laurentianum of Mestre with a comment on Benedict XVI´s new encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate". One-hundred people were present, among whom Monsignor Beniamino Pizziol, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Venice, who delivered the final certification to twenty graduate students.
In periods of crisis, there has never been a lack of charisms to respond to the civil and economic challenges of the times. It´s enough to remember, for their notable examples, Saint Benedict after the fall of the Roman Empire, Saint Francis with the first large-scale Medieval urban poverty, and all the social charisms of modernity which lightened the yoke for many of the poor and excluded.
Today, an erroneous interpretation of history tends to consider these charisms as phenomenons which are already on their way to extinction. And so, as this reading would have it, their merely "substitutive" function in times when civil society and the state were still immature and weak no longer has sense today outside of history books. Whoever looks at the civil reality in this way doesn’t see that charisms are actually very present today, both inside and outside the confines of churches and religions. His not seeing them is not just because of ignorance, but also because these charisms are like the yeast and salt in a crowd of people.
A year after the Lehman Brothers fell into bankruptcy, the event which set off the financial crisis, large banks´ old bad habits have come back. Obama himself addressed a strong warning towards the financial world yesterday. Something has happened, however, on the local level. We give you an interview with Prof. Luigino Bruni, economist at the University of Milan-Bicocca.
Wells Fargo´s top manager celebrated the first anniversary of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers with a sumptuous party in Malibu. The "creative" financial tools have come back, just like the stellar stipends for financial executives. Have we really not learned anything from what happened?
«It´s a good question, but it would really seem like the answer is no. It´s enough to think of Stanley Morgan, a bank that was saved with public money. Now that it´s making profit again, it has announced one-million dollar rewards for every director. Personally, I find that offensive. The way of carrying ahead finance is similar to what it was before the crisis. The lesson on moral risk was received at the political level, but there hasn´t been any real change. And anyways, it´s true that the same rating agencies that were responsible for the collapse continue to work like they did before. At this rate, the risk of another crisis is concrete».
By Luigino Bruni
Published on 12/08/2009 on www.cittanuova.it
Let´s get over the view of Italy as the sum of it´s North and South: Italy is a complex country, which needs to be seen on various levels in order to be understood and “treated”.
The Italian political debate during the summer, maybe because of the climate, often takes on original characteristics, sometimes paradoxical ones. For example, let´s take the contrast between 1) the worried and unanimous reaction of the political class when faced with Istat data about the significant poverty in Southern Italy, and 2) the proposal reached a few days later, about the “salary gaps”, justified by the fact that in the South life costs less. An impartial observer would have found this quite bizarre. As if there were no link between the greater poverty in the South and lower prices there (One doesn´t need to be professor of economics to understand that. It´s enough to spend some time on the streets of our cities and to truly meet the people).
Published in the monthly Communitas n.33 within the special issue titled L'abbecedario dell'economia civile (The ABCs of Civil Economy)
There is not good civil and political life without subsidiarity. This is one of the big lessons of the 1900s, of its totalitarianisms and ideologies, among which the most recent is perhaps the most dangerous (because it does not appear so): the market understood as the only regulatory principle of society. Subsidiarity is an expression that comes from subsidy, help. This principle was explicitly pronounced for the first time by Pope Pius XI in Quadragesimo Anno in 1931, during an historical period that had killed freedom and democracy also because it had first killed that principle. Implicitly, however, the principle of subsidiarity is ancient and dates back at least to the first ecumenical Councils, to the Fathers of the Church, to Scholastica, when it becomes an elaborated category of person. A very close relationship exists, in fact, between the principle of subsidiarity and the personalistic principle. Let´s see why.
By Luigino Bruni
Published in Città Nuova n.14/2009
Several papal encyclicals have marked epocal stages in history. The first wave of industrial capitalism had put many in crisis by the social questions it posed. Rerum Novarum gave voice to an entire cultural and social movement searching for answers to this crisis. Then, during a dark moment for Italy and for Europe, Quadragesimo Anno represented a cry of freedom and of fraternity symbolized by the principle of subsidiarity, which resounded like a civil liberation program. And emerging during a phase of social and cultural contestation, already denouncing the limits of second generation capitalism, Populorum Progressio represented a manifesto for social, economic and political commitment for an entire post-Council generation (both within and outside the Church).
Caritas in Veritate is another event that spans today’s history. The last encyclical of Benedict XVI should be greeted with joy and hope by who works in the civil, economic or political sphere. At the same time, it represents continuity with the social teaching of the Church and an important innovation (to be much reflected on in the next few years).