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Giano 57 - 2007 - This (final?) issue

This (final?) issue 

As you will already know, the three issues of “Giano” planned for 2008 will not be published; if the situation improves, publication will recommence in 2009. After surviving 19 years we hoped we had earned a secure and stable position among Italy’s leading periodicals - but “Giano” has now been forced to suspend publication. It is not a decision taken lightly; we are aware that the suspension is in itself a negative sign, but unfortunately it was the only remaining option.

The main reason for the suspension - the Editor’s health - is straightforward and somewhat disproportionate to the outcome. However the Editorial Board, which has been aware of the situation for almost three years, and which was asked to take over last June, has been unable to choose a new Editor, or set up an editorial committee, both of which would of course have benefitted from the experience and solidarity of the review’s founder and Editor, who naturally wishes to see publication recommence as soon as possible. The fact is that the Editorial Board has not developed into a close working group able to promote and support our periodical, it is also a sign that “Giano” itself is not immune to the more general climate of uncertainty and collapse. The Editor must take his own responsibility; he may well have delegated too little; expected support and collaboration with no positive cultural reward; his apocalyptic conscience may have been too extreme, and above all he may have insisted too much on a publication based on political values outlined in the 1980s built upon the foundations of that conscience. The Editor has clearly failed to create and consolidate an effective editorial group. After an initial phase of difficult confrontation and choices - a search for identity and originality and for an enlightened and supportive publisher interested in the cultural content of the review, the insistence on the political responsibility of academic work and on the themes that were central to our beliefs - everyday problems took over.

The biggest obstacle has been in some cases the refusal, and in others the unwillingness to see “Giano” as a political project and take on its underlying message and translate it into voluntary action, organization and financing, to increase the frequency of the review’s publication and change its form, making it less ponderous and quicker to react to events in the outside world. It wasn’t simply a pipe dream. It was the result of observing a number of facts concerning the crisis of human civilization and the risks that were already apparent, and of the need to prioritize. The world is racing towards a black hole in history, and our overriding alienation, the widespread flouting of human rules and the systematic violation of our vital pact with nature are a dramatic demonstration of the fact that there is no time to lose.

The words I choose and the problems I refer to may seem oversized in relation to a four-monthly review with a readership of just over a thousand. A review which we struggled to self-finance and whose independence has always been a strict ethical condition, keeping it out of the mire of an ever more corrupt political sphere, including the Left, itself now “part of the system”. Oversized words, then, but nevertheless fitting for an unprecedented crisis, within which the collapse of the Soviet Union, the crisis in Socialism all over the world, the decline of the collective, have driven the specific catastrophic trend of our time, linked to the capitalist mode of production and the socio-economic environment that surrounds it; but words which have given a sense of new beginning and objective cogency of morality to any attempt, no matter how small, however fanciful, to save us from annihilation. That morality and that cogency are what Lenin takes from Hegel “the deployment of a small human effort that brings something great to light from what seems insignificant”. At this this point the analysis should move on from our “small effort” to “something great” which we have yet to identify: is it the unbridled and genocidal development of values that belong to a single insatiable civilization, to a single socio-economic system, to one concept of nature at the cost of all others? Or the ultimate deployment of a fresh approach that will only have any tangible effect if it is timely enough to assume the form of a sufficiently “great” revolution.

“Giano” is a child of the eighties, it grew from the furrow of peace research, but was driven at an early age to search out new pathways, new ideas, feasible chances for lasting peace that were not simply diplomatic solutions or an end to the “Cold War” no matter what. They had to be leaps in eschatological conscience, fighting the fight once more, a victory of the people, even if such a movement began from nothing, from a small seed sown. It is essential that a publication of this type avoids spreading easy pacifism over the ecumene, but provides a systematic approach to the crisis, meets the others and moves beyond the ephemerides of international politics to look the danger in the eye and identify its sources.

At the end of the “Cold War”, many people looked ahead to the future as a peaceful “end to history” entrusted to a well-meaning single system. Peace research could simply become an academic subject. Looking back over that decade now, we see deception and disillusionment. In this era of atomic weapons and the last stage of imperialism, globalization, no-one with my background of ideals, no-one aware of the reckonings of history, will accept that the struggle for peace requires, or represents in itself, a dilution of political radicalism. To believe that would mean failing to adapt an old wizened Marxism to new times and problems. The catechism of past revolutions has always been the vehicle of programmatic quietism or new reaction. Indeed the old blend of pacifism and democratism and its present theological incarnation of “non-violence” are worthy positions in an era when western logos has put the entire planet on the line and it is essential to unite the efforts of all those who recognize and accept the ontological imperative. The memory of everything I learnt from Ernesto Balducci will not allow me to see religion as a divisive element.