The Riace Model
The topic that is currently of the uttermost interest in Italy is the vicissitude of the Mayor of Riace, a man that has been making the headlines for quite a few years already, although he is neither the typical Italian politician nor a celebrity. I believe that this man is an example of the conversation that resists and fights the discourses that kill, which Gil Caroz refers to.
This man has been arrested for abetting clandestine immigration. He openly refused to obey a law that forbids aiding people in danger, and has put himself against all those that are just applying the law. He has pushed himself to take resounding stands, like when he offered to welcome and accommodate unaccompanied minors and pregnant women from the Aquarius ship that we all have heard of.
What strikes me about this man is his “being Lacanian”. He defines his work as the result of encounters, some positive, others not so much. His story starts in 1998, when the attention on migration was not as prominent, and he wasn’t a politician but a simple teacher. “A symptom” is vexing his town: Riace is relentlessly moving towards its death, it is depopulating, all that remains are empty houses left by migrants that fled a town that wouldn’t afford them an opportunity. There are only the elderly and a few hopeless citizens left to watch the ship go down.
One day, coincidence brought to the shores of the small town a sinking sailing ship of refugees. The migrants arrived. Domenico Lucano sees an opportunity in this landing, he is not afraid of diversity, he offers them the abandoned homes of the town’s migrants along with job education. From a fortuitous encounter, the Mayor of Riace thus transformed the town’s symptom into an opportunity, becoming a model that is looked up to all over the world and adopted as a guiding example throughout the refugee crisis all over Europe.
Today Riace is on its knees again, the state law has driven away the migrants and exiled the Mayor, resulting in a community that is bound to disappear, becoming an example of a discourse that kills.
The openness of this man strikes me, an intense desire transpires, an enthusiasm that is long lost in today’s political scene. He grounds his actions in the meaning of humanity. His words are understandable by all, during a television interview when he’ll say, “When you see someone dying it is impossible to remain indifferent, you cannot sit still because the law says so.” This is what Lucano calls the Law of Normality, that could be compared to those that Lacan comments in Seminar VII, “the unwritten laws of the Δίκη”, that Antigone defends contravening the laws of Creon as a representative of the sovereign law, of the law by all means, a law that overflows, goes too far and becomes a tragedy.