If you happen to listen to Radio Radicale on Friday morning, set shortly after half past seven there are eight radio minutes by Matteo Marchesini, literary critic and writer. The themes dealt with are different from book reviews to the analysis of poetic collections of portraits of the protagonists of the republic of letters, the present-day ill and the authorities of the past – but they find an air of family in taking seriously the word “emancipation “. As he himself writes: “Isn’t” emancipation “one of the few modern and enlightened words that we can still pronounce aloud, now that the myths of progress have dissolved?”.
And is it not to be welcomed as an editorial miracle those who manage to write a pamphlet that questions the political present, orders a large part of the current reflection on society and finally proposes an explanation of the mess in which the dissident culture of our days has slipped? And then place yourself at the service of that emancipatory work that holds at heart the search for truth and at the same time that of justice? Such an undertaking has succeeded in the latest essay by Tamar Pitch, professor of sociology of law and prolific author of investigations on the relationship between the criminal question, criminal justice and social control. The title is already the architecture of the author’s thought: “The victim’s misunderstanding. A feminist reading of punitive culture ”, just released for the editions of Group Abel.
The initial scenario is outlined in pages that can be afforded to be quick because they are punctual and well documented. In the last thirty years, every social and political problem has precipitated into a unanimous demand for greater criminal justice, the depoliticization of all present phenomena and conflicts is accompanied by their increasingly widespread criminalization and the punitive fantasy drugs the reality of justice. which is increasingly selective and less and less justified, data on crimes in hand. In short, «formal legality clashes with justice. How did we get to this point? ».
Up to a certain point, the answer is the classic repertoire of the Italian school of sociology of law, daughter of Massimo Pavarini’s studies. Pitch links the first US and then European twists of the term “security”, which of the twentieth-century côté of social security (ie ownership and effective enjoyment of guarantees with respect to health, old age, work, home, and so on, insured in principle through the provision of resources and services to all and paid by all with taxes and duties) has lost its hair and vice in today’s disoriented and anxious societies and finds itself narrow on the alienating side of personal immunity compared to at the risk of being victims of street crime, or of incivility. With the substitution, in public discourse, of security thus understood with the public order of the past, responsibilities and powers are displaced differently: “Thematizing security as a right of citizens bends the question of order in a” democratic “sense, but at the time itself privatizes it, in two ways: on the one hand, it assigns it to and hands it over to the sphere of privacy of each, on the other hand, it makes each person responsible for his or her own security. With two political consequences: the individualization of risks and the virtual impossibility of dissent. Because, if the order is public, inasmuch as it is precisely public, its thematization and concrete management are and have been susceptible to discussion, dissent, dispute; who, on the other hand, can disagree with something that is constructed as an individual right, indeed a real new right of citizenship? ».
Despite the clarity of exposition, the vast bibliography consulted and the cultural and political experiences of the author herself in matters that revolve around safety, this is not yet the mine from which to extract the emancipatory value of her work. What instead lies in the analysis of the shift from the paradigm of oppression to that of victimization. If security occupies the entire horizon of the public sphere, it is all of us who bear the expense of so much simplification and individualization, subjects now characterized solely by being guilty or victims and therefore subjugated by a hegemony of the language and logic of the criminal law. when we try to oppose injustice. In Pitch’s words: «In public discourse, ‘victim’ begins to replace other terms, such as ‘oppressed’, with the decline of the Great Narratives. On the cultural level, this turning point produces the reintroduction of actors in a scenario hitherto characterized rather by the attribution of problems, injustices, and so on to the “structure” of society, to the “system”.
The assumption of the victim status quickly becomes practically the only way to make one’s voice heard, and victims or groups of victims who, on the basis of this statute, ask for political and social recognition, also emerge in Italy. The difference with the term “oppressed” is evident: the latter in fact refers to a complex situation that involves the entire biography of the individual and unites him with other individuals in the same, so to speak, structural situation. “Victim”, on the other hand, evokes a single action by individuals, on the basis of which one can associate with other individuals who have undergone, or could undergo, the same action (victims of the mafia, terrorism, etc.). In principle, this association lasts as long as recognition of the damage suffered is not obtained: in reality, however, if and when this recognition occurs, it may happen that the association of the victims of that particular wrong raises the stakes or finds a stake. new. If the victim status becomes a coveted statute, it follows that there will be conflict over who is the victim more victim, the truly deserving victim ».
Like such a political use of the symbolic potential of the criminal, it spares neither the politics of identities or differences, nor some attempts at restorative justice, nor those political movements whose goal is freedom from exploitation, oppression, violence of groups of they are spokespersons (including part of feminism) is the uncomfortable conclusion that Pitch’s book delivers to its readers. Not wishing too much between the lines that we can emerge and be recognized as actors of conflict even if we are not absolute innocent as the victim status claims and if we stand up, as the author does, to issues of inequality and political and economic power and social.