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Il complesso di inferiorità

– tekijä: Enrico Mattei

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioKeskustelut
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Viimeisimmät tallentajataleph123

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I picked up this book after reading Kotler's "Winning Global Markets" (in Italian: "Il Futuro del Marketing"), as I remembered something from a biography of Enrico Mattei.

As the whole collection of his speeches wasn't available, I picked up this that- that, luckily, contained the themes (also if not the speeches) that I was looking for.

As for the speeches in this short book (I read it while ignoring the advertisement before a movie in a theater, and a short spell on a local bus- a mere 55 pages), here is a typical quote:
"Io proprio vorrei che gli uomini responsabili della cultura e dell'insegnamento ricordassero che noi italiani dobbiamo toglierci di dossso questo complesso di inferiorità che ci hanno insegnato, ovvero che gli italiani sono bravi letterati, bravi poeti, bravi cantanti, bravi suonatori di chitarra, brava gente, ma non hanno le capacità della grande organizzazione industriale. Ricordatevi, amici di altri paesi: sono le cose cha hanno fatto credere a noi e che ora insegnano anche a voi. Tutto ciò è falso e noi ne siamo un esempio. Dovete avere fiducia in voi stessi, nelle vostre possibilità, nel vostro domani; dovete formarvelo da soli questo vostro domani. Ma per fare questo è necessario studiare, imparare, conoscere i problemi. E noi ci mettemmo con tanto impegno, e abbiamo creato scuole aziendali per ingegneri, per specialisti, per operai, per tutti e dappertutto. Con questo sforzo continuo ci siamo formati i nostri quadri."

Then, he told a funny story about being re-routed in Siberia and having to wait there in the airport during Christmas, and ending up mingling with other groups of foreigners- all singing, and eventually asking Italians too to sing. As none of his team was able to sing, the others said "you aren't Italians", so they showed their passports and said: "Noi siamo degli italiani che non sanno cantare".

Stereotypes are often a self-defeatist consequence of finding too easy to surrender and coast, instead of swimming against the tide.

As it happens way too often now in Italy.

First, a short outline of the cultural context of these speeches from 1960-1962.

Enrico Mattei after WWII was tasked with shutting down AGIP, the oil organization created by the fascist government (1922-1943, with a splinter cell occupying Northern Italy 1943-1945).

Instead, as others (e.g. Enrico Cuccia within banking) developed both oil and gas research, infrastructure, and, unusual in Italy, foreign policy.

This included also developing human capital on a scale and speed that had few comparison since the unification of Italy (1861).

He was controversial, e.g. he followed the Italian habit to create a newspaper as a loudspeaker and power-brokering tool, something that as recently as a couple decades ago made Alan Friedman ironically comment that this Italian habit would be akin to General Motors or IBM (I forgot) becoming the owner of The New York Times or Washington Post.

In the XXI century, it is now becoming almost ordinary for transnational corporations to meddle with news, in whatever form and shape (e.g. look at Amazon's founder ownership of Washington Post, or impact of Google and Facebook on news).

Enrico Mattei died in 1962 when his plane disappeared from screens- and Italy generally there is a consensus that it was bomb planted by competitors, business or otherwise.

Now, beside being controversial, and considered almost as a free agent (I think that many would actually agree that, like him or not, it was as close as we can get to a "civil servant"/high-ranking Mandarin), he was also quite direct (unusual in Italian politics and business).

The title of this short book derives from one of his speeches, delivered in 1961, on the "inferiority complex" that Italians usually have whenever they have business and political contacts abroad: at the time, a country with almost no raw materials such as oil etc, lacking a modern infrastructure (main highways were built only after WWII), and with a notorious lack of interest in foreign affairs from our politicians.

It happened during a press conference in UK, but in Italy too many governments, if asked up to few decades ago, could have answer to many foreign policy question about our position "we haven't yet checked with Washington".

ENI under Mattei (and even thereafter) was different: during his tenure, he made agreements with oil producers that extended up to technology transfer and creating human capital abroad, and making statements that would still be more advanced than what many businessmen say nowadays, despite all the "sustainability bureaucracy" lipservice.

Anyway, while even some Italian politicians and businessmen today could get some inspiration, he was a man of his times, times when Italy was re-inventing and re-building itself, and international regulations, agreements, and European Union weren't yet there.

Hence, he had (and took) degrees of freedom that would probably be unacceptable today.

In recent years, sometimes some interviews with the late Sergio Marchionne made me think at Enrico Mattei, not just for the style, but also for the content (e.g. I like to remember how the latter said that when he arrived in FIAT he found that some changing rooms for workers had "Dickensian-level" of facilities).

I know that this would sound heresy to many on both sides, but this my view as "foreign Italian": incidentally, both were criticized abroad for their blunt (and risky) business choices and aggressive style, and both received eulogies from their competitors that, at last, acknowledged their impact.

So, it was funny to read today a detail that I had forgotten: in both cases, their father had been a Maresciallo of the Carabinieri.

Being in business and being direct in Italy is almost an oxymoron- and this is a lost art that frankly should be recovered.

Who knows, maybe reading these few dozen pages could help some to consider that it isnt' enough to "talk modern"- you also have to "act modern", and takes risks (and bear the consequences).

Otherwise, as the cover of this book (from the first speech within the collection) says, Italy will get back to "Il complesso di inferiorità - dicevamo che in questo Paese non si sarebbe mai potuto fare niente. Ma la realtà era un'altra."

Speeches in this collection:
A. Il complesso di inferiorità
A1. Il complesso di inferiorità, San Donato Milanese 1961-12-04
A2. Un paese povero, Associazione Stampa Estera Roma 1962-02-14
B. La ricchezza della Sicilia
B1. La prima pietra, Gela 1960-06-19
B2. La ricchezza della Sicilia, Gagliano Castelferrato 1962-10-27
C. Decolonizzazione e dignità
C1. Al di là del Mediterraneo, Tunis 1960-06-10
C2. Decolonizzazione e dignità, prepared between June 9th and 10th, but never delivered ( )
  aleph123 | Dec 5, 2019 |
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