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Carlo Federico's MANIFESTO




I am sure most of you would like to see a better face of the Marketplace vis-a-vis the hardship of the weakest persons, the unemployed, the underpaid, the "exploited", the outcast. Right. Think, my friends, try to think without inventing any new sterile utopian dream. And beware of those who enlist themselves as the Protector of the Weak. Have a careful look at many such knights in shining armour. One of the top advocates of the unemployed here declared, stumbling upon a Freudian lapsus: "We want to become more and more powerful, more and more numerous!".
Mr. Charles Handy, the Tuscany-lover noted author of The Empty Raincoat, wrote among other books The Hungry Spirit (published by Hutchinson, London), which might inspire many of you in the direction of humanity-in-free-market. I feel you will enjoy the chapters "The Baby in the Bathwater", "Proper Selfishness" and "Life as a Journey of Self- discovery", which somehow confirm my opinion that the way to Richness is an inward journey and De Mello's tale about the eagle who had been persuaded to be chicken. Nobody among you is expected to share anybody's opinions, but don't you believe that debating concrete ideas could help to find achievable targets?

Then I advise you to buy "Guns, Germs and Steel - a Short History of Everybody for the last 13,000 Years", written by Jared Diamond, published by Vintage: this is really a book I am enthusiastic about. It is a scholarly researched work which opens a lot of perspectives: are the White Conquerors the most despicable villains as we have been taught to believe? Yes, perhaps. But take all opinions and historical commentaries with our usual grain of salt. On November 19th, 1835, the Maori exterminated and enslaved the whole Moriori populace of Chatham Islands. No white man was involved, and this story, akin to many others, helps to understand a lot. History has been designed, Diamond says, by Geography, and if we study the evolution of human "civilization" from the Fertile Crescent on we can understand how many "racial"prejudices are quite groundless; it is a remarkable book, written by a scientist who can change your way to think about history and human aims.

Well, in conclusion, about aims: what is human deepest aspiration? Please my friends, search, think, read... perhaps is it pleasure, indeed? Most high-minded persons are supposed to look for durable, if possible eternal [heavenly?] pleasures. The magnanimous find solace in altruism, and might this be just one kind of pleasure? Economists call it self-interest, and I won't repeat here my eulogy of sensible selfishness; an Italian author, Mario Deaglio, in his book La nuova Borghesia e la Sfida del Capitalismo (Laterza) - I don't know whether it was ever translated into English - writes that according to the updated notion of rationality and utility in neo-liberalism's economic thought, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, too, was just searching for her own "self-interest", a very noble kind of, just consistent with her own inner priorities. The priorities of Nathan Rothschild, John Lennon, Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Rita Hayworth were different, but was their more or less ideals-inspired selfishness just a different sort of self-interest, pursuit of personal pleasure?

So, is every human hustle motivated by more or less clever selfishness? And in this lies the whole trick of the Invisible Hand or Providence or what else? Unlearn, my friends, read, cross-check, think! As Henry Ford used to say, Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reason why so few engage in it.

Read, search, and above all THINK. The greedy Poor on one side and the irrepressible Fool on the other are trying to assail our very richness, our inner tranquillity. Guido Piovene in his novel The Cold Stars denounced the declaimer and the credulous as The Aggressiveness of the Non-Existent. Indeed we are surrounded by dreamt ectoplasmic realities which should have no entitlement to existence, being just empty smoke of slogans entwined with empty clouds of utopian belief. And yet the non-existent is aggressively threatening, in its capacity to stir up the multitude of the fool and the greedy with its retinue of religious fanatics, anarchists, envious poors and cheap weapons all around.

Yes, maybe my old neighbour robbed lady is somewhat right, there is just a paper-thin wafer, almost nothing, between us and our destruction.

But we will overcome. A small number of the Wise always survived past catastrophes: thus perhaps some of us will get through even now, to tell the fool survivors their story (to little or no avail, that's pretty sure: one of the lessons of history is that history lessons are rarely learned).

However, the opinions and schemes of the wealthy Poor and of the utopian Fool will never beguile the true Rich. We, the Rich, just will go on doing happily our best in our own position, be it a barber shop or...

Hmm. What did I write above here? WE will overcome. WE the Wise... Hooplah! Just a few moments ago I indecorously lost my temper with one of my grandchildren, and then addressed improper words to my daughter who had come to the rescue of her poor tender creature. Thou art a monster of selfishness, she told me (the small chap had reduced in pieces a wooden model of sampan-boat I had bought in Hong Kong for less than 20 dollars and then it had taken less than twenty minutes of my relaxing time to assemble the sails and rudder). How could I get so savagely angry about that? To get furious with a small nice baby who hardly can understand my choleric explosion! Very un-compassionate, very un-Wise, very un-Rich of myself, I must admit. Well, I had advised you since the very beginning: as a junior apprentice, so far I am not sure to deserve memebership in your Rich club. Thus, let's change my final salute: YOU will overcome, YOU the Wise...

However, the opinions and schemes of the wealthy Poor and of the utopian Fool will never beguile the true Rich. YOU, the Rich, just will go on doing happily your best in your own position, be it a barber shop or an architect studio or a surgeon's clinic, pursuing excellence in anything you do - as barbers, architects or surgeons or teachers or housewives or anything - seeking proper selfishness, offering quality service to anybody when possible, being content with modest, simple, easy achievements, looking around with compassion at poors and fools, smiling and... whistling!

Long live the Rich of all Countries!

Carlo F. Scarafiotti

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