for a citizens' Italy
"No-one can be free on behalf of another"
Welcome to In.Progress english web pages
WHAT IS IN.PROGRESS?
In.Progress was created in February 1994 by a group of citizens without any link to existing political parties.
Our first aim was to support the Left coalition duringforthcoming general elections. We then decided to spend our efforts contrasting the spreading ideology of the Italian New Liberalism.
HOW DOES IN.PROGRESS ACT?
Petitions, letters and faxes to members of parliament and journalists, distribution of leaflets in streets and marketplaces, demonstrations, meetings, public opinion polls: the whole range of political tools of a modern democracy.
WHAT HAS IN.PROGRESS ALREADY DONE?
We participated in the political campaign of March 1994, won by a mixt right-wing coalition.
The day after the 1994 consultations, we met the leftist members of parliament elected in our constituencies, to ask them to preserve the unity of the leftist coalition.
In April 1994 we marched in Milan, during a national rally (50 years after the fall of the fascist regime of Benito Mussolini).
In November 1994 we organised events, meetings and petitions to support the creation of new pedestrian areas by the leftist local administration of Turin.
At the beginning of 1995 we collaborated with the local administration to make known the results of municipal policies (culture and welfare departments).
In March and April 1995 we supported a leftist coalition in the local elections for the provincial and regional governments (the Left won the former and the Right the latter).
We then supported various policies of the municipal government (especially in the racial integration and urban environment fields).
WHAT DOES IN.PROGRESS INTEND TO DO NOW?
The Italian Left now faces a challenge, requiring new instruments, new ideas, new strategies to defend its old values and propose new ones.
It's difficult for us to explain to foreign people what In.Progress is, how it thinks and acts. This short Ten commandments for Social Democrats (by J.Cornford and P.Hewitt) probably offers a good proxy of our way of thinking.
- Don't imitate, innovate
- Think big
- Don't be fooled
- Don't rely on growth
- Decide what kind of capitalist you are
- Redistribute work, not just income
- Build trampolines, not safety nets
- Don't confuse equality with sameness
- Pay attention to means
- Think locally, act globally
Dos and Dont's for Social Democrats
(by J.Cornford and P.Hewitt)
First: don't imitate, innovate
The first commandment is innovate, don't imitate - either your opponents or your own past. Do not retreat before the tide of neo-liberalism: acquisitive individualism is a brutale and crippled view of humanity. The values of the Left remain potent, whatever the distortions and compromises of its history. But the context has radically changed. Liberty is a fragile as ever but needs new forms of expression and protection. Equality must encompass gender, race and culture; and hence fraternity must give way to wider solidarities. The environment must be integral to all policy, and posterity must be party to every decision. To change is not to abandon commitment: to reform is a sign of strenght and not of weakness.
Second: think big
A social democratic programme must be universal, not particular. Social democratic parties should resist the temptation to represent particular classes or interests or to build coalitions of minorities. They must speak to the common as well as the specific interest of individual citizens: there has to be a view of the good society which embraces everyone.
Third: don't be fooled
Don't believe the myths assiduosly peddled by opponents that prosperity or affluence have resolved the conflicts or eliminated the problems which brought socialism into being in the first place. There is still poverty in the midst of abundance: class matters; inequality and exclusion are strong as ever; anxiety and insecurity are growing.
Fourth: don't rely on growth
Economic growth is a necessary but not sufficient condition of progress. Ecological constraints demand new ways of defining and measuring wealth. But no amount of growth, sustainable or otherwise, will eliminate all conflicts. More wealth will not end poverty, injustice or the abuse of power, although it can help.
Fifth: decide what kind of capitalist you are
The idea of replacing the market with state ownership and planning has breathed its last. But there are many kinds of market, and socialism have to decide what kind they want. Social democrats have to do more than recognize market failure when they see it: they have to advance an alternative conception of how market economies should work. The Left must be committed to the creation of wealth, albeit in sustainable ways, not just to its distribution. The Right offers a new world order in which capital moves freely and wages adjust; for Europeans that means up at the top and down at the bottom. The Left must offer an alternative in which responsability, skills, ownership and power at work are taken by workers, in the interests of profitability as well as opportunity. The Left must construct markets which work by raising standards, not driving them downwards.
Sixth: redistribute work, not just income
Paid work is the main engine of distribution and is likely to remain so for many years to come. Unpaid work is the main source of inequalities between women and men. The Left needs a new vision of 'fully employment': not full-time, lifetime jobs for men, but richer and more various ways of combining paid employment, family responsabilities, education and leiseure for both women and men at different stages of their lives. The post-war welfare state redistributed income from employment to retirement: the post-industrial welfare state must redistribute work between men and women and across the life-cycle.
Seventh: build trampolines, not safety nets
People will fall sick, have accidents, get divorced, lose their jobs: the aim of all welfare provosion must be to enable them not just to survive but to bounce back into health, work and active partecipation. With a few inevitable exceptions, welfare should be an investment in productive and capable people, not a last resort for the incompetent. This may mean spending more to enable some people to overcome their disabilities and more to upgrade the competence of others. So be it.
Eighth: don't confuse equality with sameness
Equality demands that people receive the same treatment where they are alike and different treatment where they are not. It is not 'equality' to demand that women behave like men or children like adults. There are rights to which every citizen is entitled, and these include the right to partecipate in the definition of rights themselves and in the decision as to when and how equality demands the same or different treatment. But however much they welcome difference, social democrats must accept that there may be limits to diversity, and those limits may not be easily agreed or finally drawn where they themselves would choose.
Ninth: pay attention to means
Politics is about means as well as ends: social democrats must remember that it is not (only) what you do, but the way you do it that counts. The road to the gulag is paved with good intentions. Personal autonomy requires personal responsability, self-control, self-government. This is not a harmless, warm sentiment: it involves radical change. Power is a positional good: the more equally it is distrubuted the less there is at the top. Orders must give way to persuasion, and consultation must be for real. And this must be true across the whole range of social institutions, not something reserved for Sundays (or formal politics).
Tenth: think locally, act globally
This means taking subsidiarity seriously: interdipendence is now so great that many important problems can only be resolved at international level. But social democrats should always have in mind the real effects of such decisions on individuals and communities, and remember William Blake: 'If you would do good, you must do it in minute particulars'.
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