In the Chapter House of the Cloister of the Convent of Santa Maria sopra Minerva a conference organized by Marcellus Pera, president of the Senate Library and Historical Archive Commission, which focuses on the concepts of nation and homeland. The premier also sent a video message to the debate Giorgia Meloni (of which we publish the complete text of the speech). In the afternoon, the President of the Senate will also speak, Ignatius LaRussa. Among the speakers of the debate are Francesco Perfettiformer full professor of Contemporary History at the Luiss Faculty of Political Sciences, John Orsinadirector of the Luiss School of Government, and the political scientist Alessandro Campi, professor at the University of Perugia.
Good morning everyone.
I greet and thank President Pera for having promoted and organized today's conference and I thank him for wanting to gather around the table some of the most authoritative Italian historians, political scientists and jurists for a discussion on two ideas that are particularly close to my heart: the concept of nation and that of homeland. Fundamental concepts of political philosophy and the history of ideas that have produced an immense literature and about which there would be a lot to say. I certainly do not want and cannot compete with the scholars who have accepted the invitation of another great intellectual such as President Pera, but I do not want to give up providing some food for thought.
The first element may seem almost trivial, but in my opinion it is not. It is not a foregone fact that today, in the headquarters of the Senate Library, we are discussing Nation and Homeland. It is not irrelevant that today these ideas have become central to the political, historical, philosophical and legal debate and have come out of a marginality in which they had been relegated for decades. Because you wrongly consider retrograde, reactionary, obsolete or even dangerous ideas at times. I, on the other hand, have always thought that both the nation and the homeland were natural societies, that is, something that is naturally in the hearts of men and peoples and disregards any convention. Just like a natural society is the family, which it is no coincidence that one of the fathers of the Risorgimento like Mazzini defined as the "Homeland of the heart". Just as it is not an irrelevant fact that defining oneself as a patriot is no longer considered a derogatory or in any case obsolete appellation but an element shared and claimed by practically all political forces, including those that in the past considered it almost an infamy. It's a great victory and I'm proud of the contribution we too have made in this direction. Because my dream is to live in an Italy in which, despite their differences, everyone can define themselves and act as patriots, or rather as people who put the nation's interest before the interest of one party or another.
I have never believed in the thesis of the death of the country. Certain, there is no doubt that the idea of Patria has been in crisis for years and that it has been pushed into the shadow of history. But it is not true that that idea was dissolved, it never was and instead it continued to flow into the conscience of the people even unconsciously and now it has re-emerged on the surface with all its strength, it has returned to manifest itself in the light of the sun. However, it is up to us to nurture that consciousness. To be in some way a source of valorisation.
And so I come to the second food for thought that I would like to give you. As you know, I am very fond of Ernest Renan's splendid definition of the nation. He said that the nation is "a great solidarity, made up of the feeling of the sacrifices made and those that are still willing to make together. It presupposes a past, but is summed up in the present through a tangible fact: consent, the clearly expressed desire to continue living together. The existence of a nation - said Renan - is an everyday plebiscite".
For Renan, the political community was fundamental, that is, the set of values that unite a people, but it is equally fundamental that those values are continuously renewed. A choice, whether they are wanted. It is not enough to recognize what holds us together, it is necessary that that sense of belonging to a common destiny be nurtured every day. May it be tested in practice, may it be proven in the choices that each of us makes in our daily lives. Because bonds are not chains and recognizing ourselves as part of something bigger doesn't make us weaker. Indeed, it is the exact opposite: those ties make us stronger, make us more supportive, make us more open to each other. Only on the strength of those ties can a nation remain alive and vital, can regenerate itself, resist the deceptions of uprooting, homogenization and dehumanization.
Only on the solidity of those roots, and I'm going to conclude, can a nation draw the strength, enthusiasm and courage to be the protagonist of its time. Too often we forget the contribution that Italy has made to the history of humanity. We never fully realize it, probably because we are paradoxically addicted to the beauty and culture in which we are immersed. When you go abroad - and it happens to me a lot in this period in particular - your point of view changes immediately and you immediately realize how much our nation is considered a beacon of civilization, of how being Italian is synonymous with beautiful, precious, innovative, ingenious. And how much demand there is of Italy.
For years, perhaps decades, we have forgotten what we were capable of, what we are capable of. How much Italy is capable of astonishing, of innovating, of being avant-garde, of teaching. How much our identity, our nation, our homeland are admired and esteemed. But we can't make others fall in love with us if we don't love ourselves first and if we don't rediscover what binds us and makes us a community of destiny.
Believing in who we are is the most powerful fuel we can put into the engine of the nation. It is the fuel we need to chart new routes and become protagonists again in Italy and in the world.
So thank you for your contribution to this discussion, thank you for giving depth to what we try to do every day. Good work!