This article has been published online by the Magyar Nemzet on April 23, 2021.
Francesco Giubilei is an Italian author, publisher, professor and president of the Italian conservative Fondazione Tatarella and Nazione Futura. He is the author of Conserving Nature (Conservare la Natura).
Why do Italian conservatives consider environmental protections important?
It often seems that certain issues are owned by the right or left – meanwhile, every citizen is responsible for his or her environment, regardless of political affiliation. The big questions involved in preserving our world should unite politicians, not divide. The reality is however, that a type of new liberal, globalist left led by the likes of Greta Thunberg or the Fridays For Future movement have set the direction and ideology while waving the issue of environmental conservation on their flag. We feel obligated to speak up when they try to hide ideologies behind environmental protections. When we experience efforts such as identity politics, denial of states’ raison d’être, and the exaltation of multicultural societies. When we find ourselves confronted with these phenomena, it is essential to offer an alternative based on conservative values. The so-called green conservatives’ passion is to protect the world created by God.
How should we picture green conservatism?
It stands on three central pillars. First of all, environmental protections can be achieved locally and not just globally. Drawing on the teachings of Roger Scruton, stemming from small communities, preserving the environment also involves protecting cultural identities. Secondly, he takes into account the needs of businesses in light of local conditions. No area can be forced into a kind of environmental protection that sharply conflicts with the economic interests of the region. Thirdly, the opportunities and needs of the most disadvantaged levels of society must be accounted for. While it’s true that transportation methods should be revolutionized, it can’t be expected that someone replace their twenty-year-old car with an electric or hybrid car costing fifty to sixty thousand euros if they don’t have the financial means. It would be impossible to reverse the process that has begun in our environment by completely ignoring the needs of individual citizens and communities.
Are environmental protection measures more effective on a global or local basis?
Both are necessary as the crisis is global. However, it is not a viable solution to have an exclusively externally governed, supranational global organization that imposes rules on individual states – as the European Union does. They often put Italian farmers at a disadvantage. Tunisian oranges and olive oil are on the shelves of Italian shops, while Italian oranges and olives go bad in the fields because it costs more to harvest them than to sell. We often encounter global plans that do not provide real solutions at the local level. In a chaotic big city like Rome, more efficient public transport, waste disposals, and cleaner public spaces would already be a huge achievement.
What values is the conservative ecological world based on?
The values of classical Italian and European thinkers who have dealt with nature in their works over the past centuries. In ancient history, Virgil’s Bucolics feature nature in a central role. Even in the ancient Roman faith as well, the natural world received special attention; rivers and streams were endowed with souls, and forests considered holy places. In the Christian value system, God’s created world is the starting point where man stands at the center. Opposite to this is the line taken by Greta Thunberg which relies on the ideology of New Malthusianism. Thomas Malthus considered man as the enemy of nature, a parasite; he believed that curbing population growth would save the world.
What is a potential solution?
The family policy implemented by the Hungarian in the past years is the closest to the truth making an ambitious attempt to increase the number of births. Across Europe, there is a great need for governments to work to provide incentives for population growth. Italy has been experiencing a dramatic population decline for years.
How can we reverse this process?
It is necessary to discover Christian values. The Bible defines man as part of nature in the Book of Genesis. The world created by God and Christianity lie at the heart of the values of the conservative world. Throughout the two-thousand-year history of the Church, it has guided humanity through a number of teachings. The hymns of St Francis, and the encyclicals and apostolic exhortations from St. II. Pope John Paul, XVI, Pope Benedict Emeritus and Pope Francis, are all of value to posterity. The problem is that the aforementioned teachings are not as well-known as Thunberg and lack the worldwide vocal movements that she has.
What consequences can the population decline have?
The aging population places an enormous burden on those in the workforce, not only in terms of pensions funds, but also in maintaining the healthcare system. To care for the elderly and to avoid the collapse of the social security system, Europe is trying to replace the unborn generations with immigrants. This is a flawed solution as we can clearly see the cultural and social problems that uncontrolled immigration generates. The only solution is to increase the population of our nations.
Dalma Jánosi (Rome)