Esselunga, Follini: “We fight on symbols instead of reality”

Marco Follini’s point of view for Adnkronos

“Fishing, the supermarket, the little girl, the separated parents. Even the Esselunga advert has somehow entered into the political dispute. President Meloni and some of her ministers appreciated it, a lot of murmur arose on the left more critical and doubtful, and social media immediately filled up and swelled with the most varied comments, as if to say that different sensitivities about the family policies of some, of others and still others, ended up taking place around that advertisement.

Two conclusions can be drawn, polar opposites of each other. We can denounce the fact that instead of dealing with issues that are truly decisive for our future, politics falls back on the futile, where it finds it more convenient to express itself without running the risk of much more tiring controversies. Or we can be pleased that for once it was decided to take a break from the lacerations over the major issues that have divided the political fronts in these first months of the legislature. A question of sensitivity, one might say.

It’s not the first time, however. Just a few months ago, a no less heartfelt and heated dispute broke out around the Sanremo festival over songs, hosts, guests and rants of all kinds. Topics that were addressed in a very divisive spirit, too. As if to say that there is an inexorable condemnation to argue by taking points of view to the extreme, whatever the stakes are – crucial or perhaps more frivolous. Almost a fate that makes the political contenders slide towards ever more bellicose scenarios. Leaving those who observe them to wonder whether it would be preferable to see them arguing over the events in Hungary in 1956 rather than over a peach offered to a separated father.

But in reality this very propensity of politics to digress, to choose lighter registers and less crucial topics is telling us something. And that is that its leaders have now realized that their grip on history, on destiny, on the great issues that once made the difference has been progressively weakened. Partly because ideologies have gone out of fashion, so to speak, and no one is any longer busy trying to imagine what foundations the country system should be based on. And partly because many of the most crucial decisions now pass through other circuits. Those of globalization, first and foremost. So ultimately it’s just a matter of choosing a context – the Atlantic one, the European one, or their opposite – and from then on everything else will follow as an inexorable consequence.

The same gap that exists between the watchwords of electoral campaigns and the government policies that follow them warns us about the nature of the battle being fought in our area. Where the gap between the stentorian proclamations of the day before and the prudent conduct of the day after is now part of a sequence that seems destined to repeat itself with chronometric punctuality.

It thus happens that much less decisive arguments are called upon to fill the void that separates the dispute and the subsequent settlement. Choosing to continue fighting on symbols rather than reality. And pretending that reality can sooner or later adapt to the outcome of a war that is waged through allusions. So that even fishing becomes a metaphor for family policies. And continuing further – much, much further – that same innocent peach can even become the paradigm of the conflict between two visions of the world.

The leaders of the past perhaps would not have even noticed that advertising campaign. And they certainly wouldn’t have commented on it. But they had other sensors available to know and weigh the mood of the country. Those of today instead seem to be groping in the dark. And so, if you just give them the opportunity to digress, they don’t let it happen again. Which doesn’t deserve to cause scandal, let’s be clear. As long as you don’t take it too dramatically seriously.”

(by Marco Follini)