Northern Italy and the World at the Dawn of 2017

Report of a OPUS Listening Post® held at Pavia Ansaldo, Milan in January 2017



In this part, the Listening Post participants were invited to identify, contribute, and explore their experiences in their various social roles, be they: in work, unemployed or retired; as members of religious, political, neighbourhood, voluntary or leisure organisations; or as members of families and communities. This part was largely concerned with what might be called, ‘the stuff of people’s everyday lives’: the ‘socio’ or ‘external’ world of participants. 


In Part 2, the aim collectively was to identify the major themes emerging from Part 1.

This year the Northern Listening Post  group was further renewed . After the event organized in June 2016 with the theme of the Global Listening Post 2016 report, several interested people requested to attend LP 2017.

The group was composed of 15 people including 7 men and 8 women almost all of “psy” origin except 4: 1 lawyer, 1 university professor, two professionals of the marketing research area and my mentor and past-convener also .

The process especially in the third part was very complex but interesting, not only for the issues, but because it is a case of how the conscious and unconscious dynamics of individuals may impact on the behavior of the entire group and vice versa.

The group as a “whole”.

I’ll also introduce images in the report because are significant symbols of our group’s themes.

The first part of LP began with the lawyer bringing with the Economist,  focuses on Trump who is establishing the White House and the traumatizing “Flip” of the common sense, of the values, of certainties, of meritocracy.

And while the world is traveling on the contrary, everyone is immersed with their headphones to music or chatting with their smartphone in social networks ……

Feeling of “panta rei” than ever marked …

The opposite of rationality, the opposite of perfect nationality …

Someone goes on: “And besides Trump, the Brexit !!!!”

The enlightened people doesn’t exist anymore and nobody can offer guidance politically correct. There are no more political classes that listen to people, and take care of us,

A sense of loss, emptying ….

“Perhaps, however, Teresa May is interpreting the needs of the British and gives guidelines and direction” … . Someone else adds.

And while these great disruptions are happening is difficult to understand what’s going on … confusion … undermining the system, social networks have become part of our daily lives and have changed our habits assuming a determinant role in our lives and sometimes it’s so powerful as to be able to give young people but also adults a distorted representation of reality

The Panopticon as a symbol of the complexity of the many facets of contemporary life and the reversal…

We must acquire a method to survive in this world of overloaded information that we do not know to select and too many times the perception of the news is incorrect or even false.

For the example: “the dangers of vaccines, and there are many children not vaccinated. It’s a phobia from which  can no longer get rid ”

Lack of reference points, difficult to distinguish truth from fiction and all theories are being challenged. What once was a guarantee it is now threatened.

The culture of suspicion. The amount of information and falsification of information obscuring us.

The youth problems increases due to the lack of positive and proactive signals. Only virtual examples but not actual, or unreachable. Adults are no longer guide and example.

Migrants and the Islamic world are scary. Anxiety, anguish and despair reign.

Total condemnation of the inability of European leadership to live up to challenges ahead, to do their job, that is politics, giving visions and inspire reflections, responding to the problems of the people.

We are in the middle of a major humanitarian catastrophe which no one has been able to give an answer.

To the storytelling of a participant about a professor who incites violence a vulnerable pupils someone says: “better to have a direction, a guide although paradoxical and violent !!!”

The legality loss is widespread and it is undervalued in its severity, thus underlining the loss of security in civil law.

Even in mental health institutions there are no more points of reference: instead of having created a network the opposite was achieved, a total fragmentation with the subsequent loss of specific roles and responsibilities.

But our smartphones continue to product meaningless images and messages: superficiality advancing as a “surfing” on the whole, without ever thinking and conceptualizing.

We are into a mourning …

In a very short moment of silence we hear: “but it’s not so bad to live!”

Then we go back into an abyss: the image of concrete traffic blocks abandoned with the inscription:  “NO FUTURE TAKE IT ISIS”

“Release all” there are no more limits, the blurred boundaries … “Lesbian exhibited on Whattsapp”

Where is the rationality and common sense? … Maybe we need someone to find a way to get out of this fake and inverted world, to break the mold and be creative…

We are closed in social media BUBBLES, nice virtual reality where we feel good, but we don’t know how communicate with others, with the “real” reality ??? 

HOLOCAUST or YOLOCAUST?, habituation to the cruel images(Yolo=you live only once)…..

No wonder more than anything.

Widespread ignorance and nobody takes care of the problem, when we speak we make mistake with the subjunctive…, no one controls and no one feels more controlled …

“But why we no longer speak about the environment?”. No more reasoning in cognitive terms but in emotional terms.

The “to know certain things” does not make us change. We know for a long time. “The reality prevails us and we are betrayed, angry and cheated. The progress has not brought what was promised … we have been betrayed.”

“We are unprepared, we are inadequate.”

Methodological crash: enactment?

In the second and third phase I, in my role as convener, honestly had a lot of difficulties to help the group make the synthesis of the emerging themes.

As you can read in this report the session start very well and the content was very rich and interesting.

But ss we know the forces are not distributed randomly but are focus to follow dynamics and tensions related the group life. Inside the group the changes deriving from interference between the individual conditions of each participant, and those groupal, due to social perceptions and interpersonal interactions.

This was a great case of a group as a “whole”!  These were many dynamics that played a crucial role during the session: surely my unconscious individual dynamics connected to the particular period of my personal life, the group projections and/or counter-projection. But also an enactment – one of senior participants, seeing the situation, felt forced to intervene. My words and my passivity were ‘acted’, or implied of his actions. A relational episode in mutual induction. A strong interactive dynamic!!!

Despite everything, the meeting was regularly closed.

Now the report continues as usual: I integrated and included what was not completed by the group during the meeting.

Theme 1: il panopticon  – the reversal of the world

The Panopticon model of a new power conception: watched and watching, vertical, descendants from the sovereign to the people, the power and its exercise, become horizontal and reticular, and you lose the center from which power radiates, and the distinction between ruler and ruled vanishes

This gives us a sense of tipping parts and we feel dismay. The loss of certainties, the middle class is struggling, the values are lost, the paradigms change .

The lack of effective leadership that can interpret the people and the presence of “leaders” very questionable as Trump, Putin and May are taking a decidedly threatening and dangerous .

But they are leaders now!

Theme 2: yolocaust or holocaust– the mourning of truth and the mourning of progress

The unsuspecting hopping on the Memorial that symbolizes a frightening extermination on an industrial scale testifies to a dulling of their own judgment and their own moral sense then, where evil takes over, can make it difficult to recognize it in time and to oppose it. Addicted to evil and falsehood, we live convinced of anything, ready to get rid of our culture. The information is often misleading.

The loss of the sense of limits and the law does not affect simply the sphere of morality of individual behavior but dangerously processes of socialization, the transmitting devices of the models and guidelines for life and undermines the interpretation of the law by the institutions and public opinion. The Mourning of Truth. The Mourning of Progress.

Theme 3:  bubbles – the fragmentation

We are immersed in a series of “hyper-individualized but expanded bubbles”. Technology and social media attract us because we are more vulnerable and we feel alone but living in  Internet or in social networks is not our real life but only a representation of it.

The world we live in today is a globalized world, characterized by high complexity that keeps on changing with the fast pace. A world where the social situation is fragmented to become fragmented is the identity of the individual, who has to deal with the increasing complexity of the social system. We live in bubble with “our friends” but fragmented incapable to exit the bubbles.


In Part 3, the participants were working with the information resulting from Parts 1 & 2, with a view to collectively identifying the underlying dynamics both conscious and unconscious that may be predominant at the time; and developing hypotheses as to why they might be occurring at that moment. Here, participants were working more with what might be called their ‘psycho’ or ‘internal’ world: their collective ideas and ways of thinking that both determine how they perceive the external realities and shape their actions towards them.

Analysis 1:

The traditional-liberal and social democratic parties-are in crisis, people are no longer able to identify with the parties. The traditional ones have not been able to give answers to the problems posed by globalization, causing impoverishment, suffering for some of the population, who no longer has an historical reference able to interpret their needs. Immigration, and as we have seen in Brexit, and also in the American elections has a fundamental role the “desire to simultaneously defend their standard of living and their way of life.” Trump represents a break with establishment compared to everything that exists.His form of angry authoritarianism, is a way of making the hidden authoritarianism of the liberals explicit. There is a discontinuity, a tipping. Perhaps a new thought NEO-dialectical would fit together what now seem irreconcilable. 

Hypothesis 1: we are facing the reversal of the expectations: the delusion and the anger

Life seems to have become too complex and out of control, mostly not intelligible. Feelings of impotence and frustration result from that.

This reduces people to experience helplessness, isolation and violence. Immigration, terrorism and economic crisis continue to widen the gap between rich and poor and the clash of cultures international and intra-national favoring fundamentalism that foments conflict and fear. The economic process has brought a continuous impoverishment of the middle class who cannot rebel and to cause the rupture of the social pact with the elite, incapable of self-criticism and discernment. The result is an experience of dependence on the failure, of great anger that inevitably generated the abandonment of self-love and self-esteem, so that chain has generated cultural and social impoverishment. Trump is who is capable to say what was unsaid and repressed until now.

Analysis 2:

Italy is a country in decline, in which are deeply rooted corruption, ignorance, superficiality, unbridled hedonism, reluctance to comply with the rules, for the most part devoid of civic sense and the sense of respect for a common good, the sense of duty and institutions, without memory or future. It’s a country where, for the most part, the work is an illusion and the young, increasingly disheartened are led to excessive and irrational behavior. Lawlessness often dominates and has now penetrated every area of the country, deeply rooted. We are faced with a social change.

Progress is only a cultural construction, the progress is finished!

Hypothesis 2 – the death: the end of progress as we were imagined

We are faced with a focal point, and no one can predict the outcome. If we will not be able to accompany this transformation, radically changing the way we live in our society with a deep ethical standards, we risk seriously not only to get overwhelmed.

At this juncture perhaps the main responsibility lies with each individual; the individual duty of every one of us should be to give a little active contribution to change and not fall into the feeling of helplessness and passivity, but the complexity is too big. It’s too difficult to understand and manage it.

Members of society seems to be aware of this transition from one system to another, some innovations/intuitions on how to move are visible however the future is still difficult to imagine. It is clear that the transition is not of one aspect but it is a systemic societal transition.

Analysis 3

Technological advances, globalization and the Internet have changed the way we think, the way we relate and also how to develop new forms of communication.

The fragmented structure of society becomes ever more chaotic and precarious leads us to seek refuge in social media or in some communities that are still fragmented social entities created on the basis of unmet needs and the need for shared values. Are collective spaces lived as families.

A growing sense of omnipresence, omnipotence no boundaries of time and space and social control is present but at the same time we feel isolated, inadequate and unprepared to change. The prevalence of individualism in our societies has made us impotent and ‘unable’ to exercise some aspects of our citizenship that are crucial to be able to identify and build the future.

Hypothesis 3: inability of address change: we are unprepared and inadequate

Living in a world that we know provisionally, where the future is uncertain and the past quickly becomes obsolete, we operate in a time dimension essentially centered on the present. People need a totally new way, compared to what happened in traditional societies, to build its own identity. Before the individual himself found himself in a community of belonging and could live a life already decided, by adhering fully to social roles, giving meaning to their existence. The individual now lives in a society where the tradition is broken forever and must decide for himself who he is and what he wants to be. We are unprepared and inadequate.however the members lack of the capacity of recognizing themselves in a collective us, identify in a common project. To stand in the present, bearing all the painful emotions it provokes, seems to be a much difficult task for the members, that feel lost in their individual visions.


Convenor: Daniela Cabibbe