It has now become a meme: in this 2021 Italy wins everything, from sports competitions to the Nobel Prize. Coincidence? If the narrative takes hold, it is because it seems to tell a happy retaliation: a country always in crisis, severely hit by the pandemic, shows that it is capable of recovering.
At this point the question arises: what would happen if we believed more in ourselves, if we invested more resources – in football, volleyball, swimming, fencing, physics, music, women’s polo, pastry and even hairdressers who have won their European championship, in short, if we invest more in anything? The answer is simple, mechanical: there is no doubt that we would win more competitions. But would this really solve our problems? .
We have won a lot, it’s true. And that gave us hope again, very well. But this over-representation of excellences could just be our problem, the symptom of a painful imbalance: because the country is unable to absorb and enhance them, and for a gold medal in each category there are hundreds of semi-excellents forced to retreat or emigrate.
The Nobel Prize to Giorgio Parisi is a double victory because it is an Italian physicist who works in an Italian laboratory; but it is the tree that hides the forest of the many graduates who continue their careers abroad, in the countries that have specialized in the corresponding sectors: Northern Europe for hard sciences, United Kingdom for high finance, France for cultural industry …
This is the price to pay for a country that chooses to be a breeding ground of excellence while knowing that it has neither a market nor an industrial infrastructure capable of absorbing them all. Because human capital is only one of the factors of production necessary to generate wealth, and if it does not meet its soul mate it remains lonely and infertile.
It is easy to say that then that market and infrastructures must be developed: if it were enough to want it, we would know. If anything, it is a question of asking ourselves what future we want (realistically) for the country and concentrating our efforts in that direction.
Bragging about having the best physique, the best football team and the best rock band in the world doesn’t do much good. In the jungle of the international division of labor, Italy is specializing in the production of human capital for export. There is only the problem that no one remunerates the country for this precious commodity, no one pays back the investments made through the education system to train those who, working abroad, also reside abroad for tax purposes. Great pride does not have an equal advantage.
By dint of training fleeing brains, Italy is transforming itself into a people of the diaspora like ancient Israel. And perhaps one day it will be said, as already for the Jews: but why are there so many Italians among the intellectuals, the artists, the excellent?
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