Interview with the Secretary General Prof. Corrado Maria Daclon
by Elvio Bordignon
and Margherita Chiara Immordino Tedesco
The Italy USA Foundation was founded to testify to the friendship between Italian and American citizens. For some time now, Italy and the United States of America have been exchanging culture, material goods, influences and traditions so as to be able to affirm that without the contribution of one, the other would be different from how it is and vice versa. Describing the relations between the two countries is therefore very fascinating but at the same time difficult: every nation in fact changes, every people grows and evolves and mutual relations are always the mirror of the spirit of the time. Today, due to the very fact that the United States and Italy are linked by excellent relations, it is more useful than ever to have an institution that vehicles, improves and deepens American culture in its many facets in Italy. For this reason, a foundation was created that intends to play a public role with a non-partisan character on both sides of the Atlantic.
The Foundation operates solely and exclusively with the support of its members because, by choice and to protect its total independence, it does not receive any form of contribution, subsidy or grant, not even in the form of professional assignments from any institution or public body, government or local, nor sponsorship or publicity from companies. This guarantees the freedom and autonomy of the Foundation, to which dozens of the highest political, diplomatic, journalistic and cultural personalities of our country belong. The Foundation, which is based in Rome, organizes every year at the Chamber of Deputies the America Award, a recognition of high civil and institutional value for personalities of clear reputation that represents the most prestigious honor for friendship between Italy and the United States. Professor Corrado Maria Daclon, professor of geopolitics, essayist and consultant to numerous national and international institutions, is the founder and Secretary General of the Fondazione Italia USA and will be the protagonist of the following interview. The Foundation, as can be seen from the website (www.italiausa.org), is very present with several activities including a Master in Global marketing, communication & made in Italy organized to promote the internationalization of young people to the United States (the Foundation provides a thousand scholarships each year for graduates who deserve to achieve this master and the ceremony of awarding diplomas takes place at the Chamber of Deputies.
The Foundation is also a member of the United Nations “United Nations Academic Impact” program, the prestigious America Award mentioned above and various events such as conferences and meetings at the Chamber of Deputies. Many important personalities from different worlds also take part in this event, in particular from politics, economics, universities and research, journalism, entertainment and sport. The educational and academic sector of the Foundation, on the other hand, follows an active coordination with the numerous American universities present in Italy, including John Cabot University and Loyola University Chicago, with which internship and conference initiatives are carried out.
In the past, the Foundation has collaborated with Sky TG24 in the production of the television program “America 2008” conducted by the journalist Emilio Carelli, who is now a member of parliament, and dedicated to the 2008 presidential elections in the United States of America (at the end of his term of office, President Barack Obama sent the Secretary General of the Fondazione Italia USA a letter of heartfelt thanks for his support since his election campaign in 2008 until all the years of his administration to the White House). Since 2012, the Presidential Elections in the United States have been included in the web columns “US Elections 2012”, “US Elections 2016” and “US Elections 2020” edited by Honorary President Mauro della Porta Raffo. In addition, the Foundation, together with the publisher Alberto Gaffi, published the first authorized Italian translation of John Fitzgerald Kennedy’s political essay “Portraits of Courage”, Pulitzer Prize in 1957, and a biography of Filippo Mazzei, the Italian who met and met some of the first American presidents. The Fondazione Italia USA has also collaborated with ANCI for the organization of an annual award for Italian municipalities that, due to particular requirements, can qualify as friends of the United States.
Finally, the Foundation is responsible for numerous initiatives, relations and events between Italy and the United States of America, such as regular meetings between Italian and American parliamentarians to discuss legislation (also carrying out these activities in collaboration with various organizations operating in the United States, including in particular the American Legislative Exchange Council). Together with Eurispes, it has also produced a series of periodic reports and surveys on the social reality of the United States, providing useful and constantly updated information. Professor Daclon gave us the opportunity to learn more.
I read that you said a few years ago: “It’s a shame to note that the battles for Italian quality in areas such as shoes are fought with firmness and determination, but that the same does not happen to other more strategic resources such as university and research. Where are we today, has the situation improved a bit and if so, how?
In part it has improved, and it has also changed. Today, for example, there is a stronger focus on the agri-food sector, a focus that was not present in the past. This is due to the growing counterfeits, especially from the Chinese market, which bring on the world stage fake products that an unattentive consumer could mistake for Italian originals. This happens a lot, for example, in the USA. Today, twenty years later, I would say that the battles for Italian quality are fought more for parmesan and olive oil than for shoes.
Sacrosanct battles, of course. But the same attention should be given to the university and in general to training, and it is a shame to see that unfortunately in this area we still have a long way to go, and a long distance separates us from the winning models of other countries.
Sustainability and climate. How does the Fondazione Italia USA view the latest events involving the Amazon rainforest, the Arctic glaciers, the FFF (Fridays For Future) demonstrations and the recent summit in New York as a commitment? In this sense, is the Foundation at the forefront of raising awareness of a renewal?
Although aware of these serious problems, the Foundation’s mission is to make America known to Italians only and exclusively. We do not deal with social or global issues, which would extend the framework to a too broad planetary approach.
Migration flows are becoming increasingly numerous and complex to understand and manage. Those concerning Italy in particular come for the most part from the vast North African area. Personally, I don’t like to hear much about ‘recipes’ in the face of such delicate and constantly evolving phenomena. Rather, do you think that in the near future, governed mainly by technology, policies of sharing and aggregation will be implemented mainly by the European Union? Will the Fondazione Italia USA become a promoter?
For what I said before, the Foundation does not deal, nor by statute can it deal, with issues that do not directly and specifically relate to the promotion of American culture in Italy. This is not our task.
On a personal level, however, I can tell you, from a geopolitical point of view, that the greatest problems will come in the next few decades not so much from immigration but from the profound conversion of society and the world of work. The problem of the future will not be given by the fact that many people in industrialized societies will have difficulty finding a job. The problem will be rather that work itself will no longer exist, most jobs as we understand them today will simply no longer exist.
For example, traditional banks will disappear within 5 to 10 years at the latest. The same will apply to insurance companies. But also those involved in advertising. What will the huge advertising market do if we already use Google to profile ourselves and offer us tailor-made products and services? In the future, advertising will simply be a Google algorithm that offers and places products. And we could go on for a long time, for example in the field of automation in medicine or agriculture. And then postmen, supermarket cashiers, travel agencies, all professions with very fast and announced extinction.
The armed conflicts that will still survive will be managed by a technician behind a desktop in Virginia, who will control drones and offensive technological equipment at a distance of 8000 km, certainly no longer with armies in the field and so much logistical supplies, troop transports, all things of the past that are already disappearing.
Robotics and artificial intelligence will change the world in a couple of decades and governments will have to take on more and more huge masses of people who cannot be used and employed in what will be the very few, sophisticated and elitist professional positions. Hundreds of millions of people who are unemployed and also unworkable. This will be the real global social crisis, the real geopolitical explosion to be managed in a few decades, compared to which immigration is an absolutely inconsistent phenomenon.
We are almost at the end of the decade and for some months now I have been reading from American sources that a new possible economic recession is being feared on the horizon. If this were to happen for Italy, it would not be easy to face such an event after the one that occurred ten years ago. Does the Fondazione Italia USA, enjoying an important relationship with the USA, have any general information to give or precious suggestions?
Unfortunately, although our relationship with the USA is solid and consolidated, we do not have any information other than that available publicly or through information. Many times, similar analyses have proved to be ineffective, or in any case not well framed in time. The hope is that, once again, pessimism will leave the way open for economic stability. The markets have such complex and fragile rules that it is really difficult, even for the greatest economists, to make precise forecasts.
The 2019 America Award has recently been presented to ten personalities who have each distinguished themselves in their field for having favoured relations between the European Union and the United States of America with their works. Are relations increasing, are they diversifying and are they becoming more and more solid? In this regard, can you also give an example of a new type of relationship that has been created and that was not there before? Example: Startups.
Relationships have always been very solid, certainly over time they differ. Today there is more osmosis between the two coasts of the Atlantic in many areas such as journalism, culture, but also business.
If he were still alive, Sergio Marchionne would certainly deserve the America Award for the merger between Fiat and Chrysler, unthinkable until a few years ago for what the two automobile giants represented. This is also a paradigm of change and the growth of collaboration ties.
Besides the America Award and the Master, what are the most important and upcoming initiatives of the Italy USA Foundation?
There are always many initiatives: bilateral meetings, study visits, seminars and much more. Let’s say that, with regard to the Master, we try to ensure continuity in awarding our 1000 scholarships each year to the best deserving Italian students. It is for us a great effort in terms of human and economic resources, which has been going on for five years. But we see excellent results. Many of our students are now abroad and work in important companies, others write to us that they have managed to implement projects and professional initiatives or have found a place in important companies. This is the most significant satisfaction for us, the proof that we have bet on the talent and passion of young people and we have won. We will continue to work for young people, because the future passes through them.