Photos steal the soul. To believe it in 2023, together with the Quechua peoples of the Andes, some Native American tribes in the United States and the few who were struck by that type of philosophy, there are also the writers of the Bologna collective Wu Ming. «It's not like that, of course: it's that we only compare live, with bodies, without mediation» specifies Wu Ming 1, one of the three members, met in the squares as large as a fist of the Elba Book Festival which closed its ninth edition yesterday. There are no photos or videos online. They're not on social media, they don't go on TV. The personal name is not secret, on the contrary, it is published on the collective's own website: Roberto Bui. "But you point me to Wu Ming 1, that's how I sign my lyrics." His face should be imagined as he orders a lemonade – he is a teetotaler, as well as vegan – to hold an interview he rarely grants to the newspapers, as he recalls what the Wu Ming themselves say on the blog wumingfoundation.com: «Transparent towards readers, opaque towards the media». Glasses, cut-off jeans, tousled hair, never thoughts. He calls Wu Ming a band of writers, but instead of records their message translates into books. From the first, Qstill written under the pseudonym Luther Blisset in 1999, at the last, UFO 78. Despite the title, it is a work full of politics. Even if there are those who write the opposite: «He will have stopped at the back cover». Anarchy, capitalism, attack on single thought: the principles remain the same, nuanced in the stories about 1978 divided between the kidnapping of Aldo Moro and the record of sightings of unidentified objects in Italy: "Over 2,000 in just one year".
Wu Ming 1, hasn't the rebellious dream of the nameless intellectual gone out of style?
“We continue to identify with this choice. We are a band, and bands have collective names. Then everyone has a personal stage name, even in solo productions I am part of Wu Ming as "1": everything comes from our "workshop"».
Are you really, as it seems, stayed away from the logic of personal branding?
“In literature we are among the few. The world is full of collectives, but in the literary world we tend to interpret our profession in a narcissistic and solipsistic way. Many colleagues today are like the queen of Snow White who asks in front of her mirror: "Mirror of my dreams, who is the best writer in the realm?". It's not said that they write badly, but what if they spend all day on Facebook when they write?»
Are you not on social media for this?
«The potential of social networks has been derailed by the model that the platforms have found to profit from it, data mining. Our data as a commodity to be sold to, among others, industries such as security, military, marketing. And the algorithms push for one to share more and more, creating a digital capitalism that is among the most rapacious ever».
A new capitalism against which to continue the fight. Is the challenge to the old one lost?
“It's always capitalism. As also stated in UFO 78, we are still in that low tide phase that began in the 1980s. The long wave of the years of Thatcherism and Reaganomics has come down to us. Neoliberalism has influenced our way of living, of working, it has changed territories. Even today, society experiences a reflux between political and social disengagement and an ever stronger withdrawal into the private sphere, in a climate of disillusionment and a return to past values».
Is there a fascist resurgence, now that the right is in government?
«Look, I suspect that Meloni's is a bogeyman. In economic and social policies there is much more continuity than discontinuity with the previous governments, the single thought is always there. Then, of course: the right represents specific risks and we have always been categorically anti-fascists».
Are right and left the same?
"In abstract no, but in concrete terms for us the entire current ruling class is in the opposing camp, the heads of politicians are the same: do you think that in Emilia-Romagna Bonaccini thinks differently from Fontana in Lombardy?".
A right-wing cultural hegemony doesn't scare you?
«In Italy the right has always had cultural hegemony. Even in the years in which, confusing culture with intellectuals, it was believed to be of the left, the country's enormous petit-bourgeois belly has always been conservative and reactionary. For decades the best-selling magazines have incensed people like the Savoys, we have never come to terms with Italian colonialism by telling us that "we made the streets", there has never been a Nuremberg for our war criminals. Now this substrate is more visible, with a right-wing government that wants to take its revenge in the cultural institutions and Rai. But conservative and reactionary cultural and entertainment propaganda has never been lacking. Warning: this does not mean that Italy is a right-wing country. That has always been the left's excuse for saying it can't do anything. There have always been several Italys in conflict with each other».
Is the third way anarchy?
«They are the movements from below, the mobilizations for the defense of the environment, the territory and the awareness that we are on the verge of climate disaster. We wrote a novel about the 1970s: back then things were done as collectively as possible, and reforms were achieved such as divorce, abortion, the national health service, the Basaglia law, the fair rent, the workers' statute. There was a collective mobilization that did not ask for but imposed choices on politics. This pressure is gone, and the political sphere is self-referential".
Is there no collective mobilization on the climate?
«The climate question contains all the others, because we live inside the climate. Again, the action must be as collective as possible. The idea of being able to save the world only with one's own individual behavior and consumption has wasted precious time. This is not how polluting industries, overbuilding, soil consumption are contrasted, the consequences of which we have seen, among others, with the floods in Romagna ».
Does the battle for schwa and against political correctness make sense?
«That of inclusive language is a crucial issue, especially for those who suffer exclusion on their own skin. We are very susceptible to homophobic and transphobic language, but the schwa we find too comfortable a gimmick. In general, thinking of changing society by changing an ending is naive or neoliberal nonsense. Transfeminist activist Filo Sottile says that he prefers to put an "X" on it, because that's a stitch, you can see it's a wound. The schwa hides the wound. However, the Italian language, if you know how to use it, is so rich that it already contains numerous possibilities within itself».