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Numero 28

Inverno 2004 - Anno 10

A cura di: 
Bruno Cartosio

enlightened Fahrenheit/America

enlightened Lorenzo’s Oil: scienza e amore parentale

enlightened Narrare la povertà nella cultura appalachiana



Prima del voto: gli Stati Uniti allo specchio - p.4

Bruno Cartosio

The two main problems facing the Bush administration on the eve of the elections are examined in the essay – the economy and the war in Iraq. Notwithstanding the economic recovery since 2003, the lagging wages of American workers, high unemployment and underemployment, and the increasing budgetary and commercial deficits appear to be obstacles to the reelection of president Bush. The unfinished war in Iraq, with all the human and financial costs it has involved so far, and the revelations regarding the tortures at Abu Ghraib, is the other problem. The essay interprets certain aspects of the war, the tortures, and the attitude toward Iraq by the Bush administration in terms of the “paranoid style of American politics”, as defined by the historian Richard Hofstadter in a famous essay published decades ago. The projection of one’s least acceptable traits upon the enemy, the imitation of the behavior of the enemy we denounce as cruel, and the role of religion in the building of a manichaean worldview are the main subjects in the analysis put forward in the essay.

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Giochi di frontiera: ma la Costituzione segue la bandiera? - p.23

Arnaldo Testi

The question of whether “the Constitution follows the flag” - that is, whether and to what extent constitutional rights apply to inhabitants of territories which are U.S. possessions but clearly not destined for statehood within the Union - is a venerable one in American history. It became a major issue after the 1898 war with Spain, when the United States became a colonial power. It was hotly debated in the 1900 presidential campaign, when the anti-colonialist Bryan Democrats coined the now-famous catch phrase. It was somewhat settled a few years later by the Supreme Court that, in the so-called Insular Cases, held that the new overseas possessions were “foreign in a domestic sense” and thus only some, not all constitutional provisions applied to their native (and mostly non white) residents. “As near as I can make out the Constitution follows the flag, but it doesn’t quite catch up with it”, commented then-Secretary of War Elihu Root. Although they have been recently defined by a federal judge an “ossified set of cases marked by the racist imperialism of a previous era”, these early-twentieth-century court rulings still govern the small American “tropical empire” including Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Marianas. Today the territorial scope of the Constitution and constitutional protections is again a burning issue in a slightly different and possibly larger contest. It concerns the fundamental rights of foreign citizens captured during the war on terrorism and detained by the United States outside of the U.S. borders – in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and perhaps elsewhere.

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La lingua imperiale - p.30

Marilyn B. Young

The American attitude towards invaded countries can be seen from a politico-linguistic point of view as a contradiction between the language of imperialism and the language of empire. By analysing official statements, interviews, essays, and other written material on the recent invasion of Iraq, Young comments upon the use of force by US troops, militarism, personal relationships in conflict areas, and the moral issues involved.

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La politica estera di Kerry, tra interventismo liberal e cautele neo-realiste - p.44

Mario Del Pero

The article examines the potential foreign policy of the 2004 presidential candidate of the Democratic Party, John Kerry. It concentrates on the analogical models invoked by democratic politicians, intellectuals and pundits to justify a particular approach toward international affairs. In particular, it focuses on two different readings of the Cold War and of the lessons it supposedly offers to today’s democrats: the liberal-interventionist, and the neo-realist. According to the former, Kerry should embrace a bolder and more assertive approach to international matters, launching a new anti-totalitarian struggle, after the one finally won against the Soviet Union. The latter, instead, stress the moderation and pragmatism of U.S. Cold War policies, and urge the democrats to oppose messianic and neo-Wilsonian projects such as those promoted by the current Republican administration. Kerry and his main foreign policy advisers have so far used both these interpretations to condemn the foreign policy of George W. Bush, presenting it simultaneously as too risky and insufficiently courageous. By doing so they have tried to synthesize liberal-interventionism and neo-realism, just as Bush did in the 2002 National Security Strategy.

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Il mito Leo Strauss fra media, scienze sociali, filosofia - p.58

Massimiliano Guareschi

Leo Strauss is one of the most important philosophers of the XX century. After 9/11 the media presented him as the intellectual father of the neoconservatives. This essay describes how that myth and the connected myth of a “Strauss cabal” came about and how they came to circulate. The impact of Strauss’s teachings on, for example, Paul Wolfowitz was largely overestimated, as the same Wolfowitz declared. Yet the notion that the ideas of the neocons had their fountainhead in such an authoritative thinker stuck, and is not to be easily destroyed. In the essay it is not argued that Strauss’s thinking was not important for the American Right. The contrary is true. Rather, his influence is to be traced elsewhere – in the proposal of a value oriented political philosophy, in the critique of relativism, and in the building of a conservative perspective unrelated to traditionalism.

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Fahrenheit 9/11 di Michael Moore - p.70

Antonello Catacchio

The relevance of TV in the political debate is well known – at least since the Kennedy-Nixon debate of 1960. Now, with his Fahrenheit 9/11, Michael Moore creates a new scenario. He refers to both published and unpublished materials originally produced for television in order to reconstruct president Bush’s career, from the controversial election of 2000 to the Iraq war, through the events of September 11, 2001. Moore makes cinema out of TV, achieving a new synthesis. This time the least accommodating interviewer of all the United States steps aside, limiting his work to research and editing, and the result is a sharp and fascinating pamphlet, at times entertaining, too, which could very well be a decisive contribution to the defeat of George W. Bush at the coming elections of November 2004.

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Comunicazione commerciale e campagne elettorali negli Stati Uniti del Novecento. Alle origini del marketing politico - p.80

Ferdinando Fasce

The role increasingly played in current elections by the so-called “political consultants”, namely “campaigns strategists” applying marketing techniques to promote candidates, reveals a serious gap in the historical literature of U.S. political culture. In fact, the complex historical path leading to the present situation, that is, the relationship between commercial and political communication during the twentieth century remains surprisingly understudied. Such longterm perspective is the one adopted in the essay, which looks at presidential campaigns from the vantage point of admen and public relations men. Largely through unpublished sources, it traces the main contours of the dynamics between the business and political spheres, showing how and with what effects on public discourse, admen, PR, and “political consultants” came to dominate presidential campaigning and made effective inroads into governing as well.

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Poveri, ma… Narrare la povertà nella cultura appalachiana - p.100

Alessandro Portelli

“We were poor but we were never poor in spirit”: in Appalachia, one of the poorest regions of the United States, poverty is narrated primarily as a spiritual and moral personal condition rather than a social and economic problem, generating shame rather than anger. With references to popular culture and oral history, the paper identifies a number of basic narrative approaches: the pride of “growing up hard” and learning survival; measuring poverty against community conditions (non-monetary economy, neighborly relations) rather than on the national economic standard (and “learning” that one is poor from outsiders and the media); the ambivalent relationship with the public sphere, the welfare system, poverty workers.

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Come trasformare l’assistenza medica nell’età dell’AIDS. L’olio di Lorenzo: scienza e amore parentale - p.114

Carol Colatrella

Lorenzo’s Oil reconfigures conventions of biographical films describing an individual hero’s scientific discovery, instead delineating how parents collaborate on establishing theory and therapy by doing research and promoting research communications among scientists. Based on the true story of Michaela, Augusto, and Lorenzo Odone, George Miller’s 1992 film melds family and scientific history in a lightly fictionalized narrative to reveal the ways family members affected by adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) contribute to and motivate continuing scientific progress. Miller’s film blends elements of the case history (a chronology of the onset of symptoms, treatments, and prospects) along with religious references to Jesus’ suffering and redemption of human sin. Alluding to the 1980s AIDS activists who demanded U. S. politicians and scientists work toward developing improved therapies for AIDS, Lorenzo’s Oil limns the heroic narrative of parents fighting for children affected by ALD: the Odones achieve some success by interrogating previous research on this orphan disease as a means to developing an innovative therapy to treat it.

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