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Sociologist’s opinion – How do you identify with someone throwing a used mattress on the street? To the one who demonstrates his eco-sensitivity by driving an electric car and then attacks renewable energy factories like wind turbines and solar panels?

by Francesco Mattioli


Viterbo – Francesco Mattioli

Viterbo – Sad work and fate, that of the sociologist who, in order to explain what is happening in society, must, as Max Weber wrote, “understand” and “identify” with the behavior of others.

How do you identify with someone throwing a used mattress on the street? To the one who demonstrates his eco-sensitivity by driving an electric car and then attacks renewable energy factories like wind turbines and solar panels? To whom does he declare himself a proto-Christian and show reduced sensitivity to the least of this world? Who reduces their sense of democracy to the protection of their privacy or to a one-way instrument of manipulation of consciences? Etc.

At the beginning of what I am going to say, I want to clarify some points in my preventive defense. I was a member of Italia Nostra, participating in fierce battles to defend the artistic, historical and local heritage of our province. I’m into separate collection, I use part of my life to separate wheat from chaff, sorry, organic (if you keep it another day in the special bag, it all melts…), from plastic (biodegradable or not?) and from undifferentiated (how much?), to travel 30 km round trip to deliver (thus) the WEEE to the appropriate city (city?) landfill. If I have to throw away a piece of paper or a can, I’m willing to walk hundreds of meters, even on foot, to find a wastebasket (perhaps overflowing).

That being said, I jumped in my chair reading an article on Corriere della Sera regarding the regasification vessel to be placed in Piombino. You know, that equipped ship that should provide us with a lot of natural gas in 2023, that is, it should guarantee the survival of our production plants to a large extent, therefore the wages of hundreds of thousands of workers, the winter heat in the homes, even the “public lighting that at least partially guarantees the safety of those who go out in the city at night and, finally, the icing on the cake, the “electric fuel” of hybrid or electric cars, which we have rightly voted to ensure a less polluted future. An important function of this ship, isn’t it? Of course, along with other solutions, but decisive in these critical moments. Just consider that Holland, which is much smaller and less populous than we are, has secured two of these ships, and less than a week has passed between saying and doing.

Reading the article, I understand that in Piombino the ship has not started yet because … only 44 …).

Everyone with their privileges, with their interests, with their good exceptions, with their “not in my backyard” spirit … with their right to block everything if necessary. The Superintendency seems to stand out among all, which opposes and suggests the color of the ship, which should match the dominant colors of the landscape (spring or winter? No, because Carducci already described the hills of the upper Maremma as hairy, leafy and darkness. in the coming winter time …).

Crazy bureaucracy? Or “perfect” implementation of democratic decentralization? In the first case, all the projects announced or launched to streamline the various administrative steps are obviously rubbish. In the second case, we are faced with a Don Ferrante-like interpretation of Manzoni’s memory of democracy, which inevitably lends support to the usual on-duty decision-maker who looks back with nostalgia or keeps Putin’s portrait in his wallet of.

Epperò is not only that. Many continue to be scandalized by the wind turbines that undermine the landscape, if you see them against the background of a bell tower, a pleasant hill or even the sea horizon. Many accuse PV systems of “eating up land”, taking it away from agriculture and natural greenery.

Of course, the reckless war in Ukraine has made problematic the recent proposal that emerged at COP 26 in Glasgow to significantly reduce CO2 emissions due to the use of non-renewable energy sources by 2030. So it ended up with Germany’s plan to reopen its coal mines. the proposal of the Arab states, but also of the United States, to produce and sell even more oil; and, equally worrying, the venture to spread it on our territory (World famous for rivaling Japan in seismic risk) last generation nuclear power plants (and to think we’re still debating where to dump our old radioactive waste…).

But then, should we encourage electricity production? Yes, but, but, perhaps, be careful… The fact is that on the same bank of the river there are those who bet on wind and photovoltaic energy and those who buy electric cars that to walk are often connected to the home system for to compete with the washing machine or the water heater …

So, let’s go back to the beginning: how to interpret these events sociologically? How to “understand” them? How to “identify”? Fortunately, Weber isn’t the only one giving lessons. there is also Bauman, the one who described our society as the age of uncertainty, contradictions, a fluid society where one can argue and defend everything and the opposite of everything. In this case, the sociologist should not define himself, he can limit himself to the classification of needs, he can find cause and effect links, understand contradictions and their origin, in short, he can discover the nakedness of the king, no with the innocent look of a child. of history but with the comfort of scientific research (serious). Oh, let’s be clear: now even scientific research is no longer considered objective, but only a very common convention. This is claimed even by physicists, once used to making the indisputable logic of numbers speak. But, in short, science still comes down to detecting logical contradictions, between saying and doing, between preaching and scratching.

Anyway, good paperwork everyone.

Francesco Mattioli

September 30, 2022

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