Labsus, the Laboratory for subsidiarity, has a clear goal, based on a certainty: people do not only hold needs but also capabilities, and it is possible that such capabilities are offered to the community to contribute finding solutions to issues of common interest, in alliance with the government.
This certainty found its endorsement in the Constitutional Reform Act of 2001 that recognized the importance of ‘active citizenship’ by introducing the so-called “principle of horizontal subsidiarity” in article 118, par. 4, of the Italian Constitution, which establishes that: “The State, regions, metropolitan cities, provinces and municipalities shall promote the autonomous initiatives of citizens, both as individuals and as members of associations, in carrying out activities of general interest, on the basis of the principle of subsidiarity”. The constitutional reform, by recognizing that citizens can act for the common good and instructing institutions to support and encourage such efforts, confirms both that citizens have several capabilities and that they can use them to solve not just their own problems but also those that concern the community.
If this is the certainty in which we find inspiration, our objective is therefore clear: to educate the public about this great innovation in our Constitution, an innovation which can change people’s status, as citizens, in our society. Few people have understood the enormous potential this new principle provides. And among those many give a narrow interpretation of it claiming that, when private citizens get active, government should then withdraw. Such opinion assumes that the presence of the government within a certain domain should be perceived as the least worst option to recur to in the absence of any other better solution.
This is not our idea of active citizenship. Not just because in our eyes the role of the government in guaranteeing constitutionally entrenched civil and social rights remains fundamental. Instead we deem the principle of horizontal subsidiarity (or else active citizenship) true essence does not lie in it being the thin line separating the public sphere from the assumingly conflicting private domain, but rather in it being the constitutional platform over which we can build a new model of society characterized by the presence of active citizenship, understanding this as autonomous, caring, responsible citizens, allied with the government in taking care of all the common goods.
This is an unprecedented and so far unconceivable way of being citizens. As a matter of act the Constitution did not allow citizens to be involved in public affairs, though staying in their position of simple citizens. On the contrary it was perceived as absurd the mere idea that a citizen had the strength, the willingness and the competence to take care of common goods, together with other citizens and public administrations, without becoming a permanent member of any kind of association.
Today this absurd idea lives in the Constitution and we want the largest number of Italian citizens to mobilize themselves, on the basis of a “responsible active citizenship”, to contribute to the renaissance of our country.
For this reason we created Labsus, a laboratory for the enforcement of this principle, where we elaborate ideas, gather cases and materials of any sorts and promote new initiatives. We are doing all this as volunteers, or better as active citizens, employing time and energy without receiving any tangible compensation while getting deep personal satisfaction.
We believe that what we are doing, even if only through our sole persistence, is useful and contributes to changing Italian active citizenship radically, with effects unforeseeable at the moment, but decisive for the realization of a broader substantial democracy, the improvement of civil cohabitation and of material conditions of life.
Whoever wants to fight with us for these goals is welcome to join Labsus in its effort.
To contact us please email: email@example.com