The social sustainability approach as a boundary to the neoliberal capitalism technologically driven and to the risk of ecological integralism

di Fortunato Costantino



L’Autore partendo dalla considerazione che la Tecnologia se non opportunamente governata rischia di ulteriormente aggravare i limiti propri del neoliberismo capitalistico e consumeristico, convertendolo in un capitalismo a trazione tecnologica, anticamera al pericolo di una vasta massificazione delle idee e delle abitudini di consumo, propone alcune riflessioni per le quali Tecnologia e Scienza, se opportunamente sottoposte alla supervisione umana, possono divenire i più potenti abilitatori di un nuovo Esistenzialismo per il quale l’individuo (inteso non come individuo a sé stante nella sua singolarità, ma come organismo interattivo in un contesto complesso di relazioni socialmente rilevanti) è titolare e custode di diritti inalienabili e di doveri sociali irrinunciabili che vanno tutelati dal rischio incombente di fenomeni diffusi di Tecnocrazia o Algocrazia.


The author starting from the consideration that Technology if not properly governed runs the risk of further aggravating the limits proper to capitalist and consumerist neoliberalism, converting it into a technology-driven capitalism, an antechamber to the danger of a vast massification of ideas and consumers’habits, proposes some reflections on how Technology and Science, if properly subjected to human supervision, can become the most powerful enablers of a new Existentialism for which the individual (understood not as a stand-alone individual in his or her singularity, but as an interactive organism in a complex context of socially relevant relationships) is the holder and custodian of inalienable rights and inalienable social duties that must be protected from the looming risk of widespread phenomena of Technocracy or Algocracy.

I have already had the opportunity to argument[1] that it would be wrong define as a new Copernican revolution the widespread application of AI, robotics and neurosciences to Society and more generally to the variegated system of the social organizations, businesses and corporations included. On the contrary, we could just discourse in terms of a new Copernican Revolution when we refer to the substantial effect that has resulted from the transversal diffusion of the smart technologies in each place and dimension of the human existence leading to absolutely new ways of experiencing the social relations among individuals.

This effect imposes a critical reading, also at an epistemological level, of the conditioned and conditioning relationship between Mankind and Technology and between Mankind, Technology and Ecosystems. And I am specifically referring to a major massive transformation of the traditional and orthodox paradigms (social, economic, political) of the human existence.

A transformation process, still underway, that while facilitating and improving the capability of the society and individuals of satisfying their material needs, nevertheless also creates a huge spiritual bewilderment.

It is an invasive and transversal process, which seems to be facilitating the way to prevailing horizons of Algocracy and Technocracy[2] with a consequent subjugation of the Mankind and its capacity for critical thinking on the one hand and a progressive reduction of the typical tasks and functions of Democracy on the other.

A “technological paradigm” in which the centrality of the homo oeconomicus – obsessively imposed by the neoliberal capitalism – is fully expressed, renewed and reinforced.

I am aware that such a conclusion, however, would be irrationally nihilistic and definitively would put to bed the optimism of ideas and the moral and intellectual superiority of Mankind from which we can infer the axiom that Technology and Science are always an “instrument acted by individuals” and never an “instrument acting the individuals” with license of replacing the power of direction and government that naturally competes to the human beings.

Instead, it could be much worth proposing a different conclusion, starting from the consideration that Technology and Science do not only allow, in a typical neoliberal and capitalistic reasoning, an improvement of the material well-being condition of the individual-consumer in terms of satisfied needs, but also they could make possible an empowerment of individual consciences and ideas. Which is the first step towards the liberation from the shackles of the current social, political and economic model that intends to disperse the individuals in a perverse process of massification and gregariousness in order to deprive them of the ability of critical thinking and questioning the pre-established order and schemes given by the public powers and the prevailing opinions.

By this route, we could consider Technology and Science, if properly subjected to the human oversight, as the most powerful drivers for the entrenchment of a new Existentialism for which the individual (not intended stand-alone in his singularity, but as an interactive organism in a complex context of socially relevant relations) is the holder and custodian of inalienable rights and inalienable social duties.

A kind of new Existentialism, where the individuals are “omnium rerum mensura,” (latin formula to say man is the measure of all things), just to evoke a statement by the pre-Socratic philosopher Protagoras and where individuals, like a reinvented Vitruvian Man, are placed at the center of a concentric social relations system conditioning, in different degrees of intensity and levels of connection, the multiple social architectures and interactions with the several ecosystems to which the collective dimensions of human existence are deeply linked.

The main postulates of this new Existentialism are identifiable i) in the emerging rediscovery of what is essential to human nature in its relationship with the surrounding environment and ii) in the liberation of the individuals from the yoke of a “neoliberal capitalism technologically driven” through a regained awareness of the intrinsic value of the dignity of the human being.

Two postulates that make possible to lay the foundations of a revolutionary social reformism, thanks to which we can provide responsible answers and solutions to the pressing urgencies of the current times we live in, mostly related to the critical issues of our ecosystems, but repudiating in principle the temptation of demagogic or utopian approaches such as may be represented, for example, by the so-called “integral ecologism” that in a certain way is altering the real meaning of the sustainability concept itself, reducing the latter to a mere environmental perimeter.

Said differently, it is the approach which has been embodied in the UN Agenda 2030 and into the EU proposal of AI ACT, to bend Technology and Science and their infinite applications to the goals of sustainable development.

A sustainability that, in the opinion of the writer, should be firstly socially driven intended, even before the environmental, financial and governance related meanings of the sustainability framework.

Who can seriously disregard the absolute pre-eminence of the goal of social sustainability over the remaining sustainability goals, in particular when we take properly in account the need to create the concrete conditions of “human well-being” (security, equity, justice, education and training, democratic participation to the public life, services and goods) by distributing them equally by social classes, gender and generations, as bulwarks for the fight against poverty and the achievement of gender equality as well as as finally the proper valuing of the person and life.

After all, individuals, just to recall an undisputed Aristotelian principle, are not only a “political animal” to live and interact each other mainly in social formations and communities but also an animal which realizes its anthropic and biological specificity into the “Nature per se”[3], which, I affirm, should be safeguarded and protected in connection with the primary goal of perpetuation of the Human Species and the preservation of its biological essentiality.

In an effort to evade as much as possible the comfortable hypocrisies of the prevailing politically correct opinions, we might otherwise discourse about the utilitarianism of the biologically dominant human species by virtue of which Mankind is entitled to have a government over Nature, on pain of denying its own survival. Of course it could be raised an issue of identifying the ethical perimeter within which such dominion should be deemed permissible, which mutatis mutandis means setting the rules of conduct to prevent such utilitarianism from turning into an endless vandalization of Nature’s resources, and by paradox thus leading to the extinction of the human species[4]. Issue that shall be resolved by introducing a regulatory remedial, based on governance models of the communities capable to refound in terms of social sustainability the relevant connections between human and non-human systems. In short, it is a question of reconstructing Mankind’s relationship with Nature, a relationship where Science and Technology must be subservient as acted instruments that are finalistically and operationally oriented to the creation of solutions for a responsible and sustainable governance of Nature and its resources for the ultimate goal of the salvation and perpetuation of mankind.

It is not a coincidence that we have begun to speak more correctly of an “ecodomy of the common house”[5] because the future of the human perspective is all in Mankind’s ability to know how to well build the common space of social relations among individuals and between individuals and communities through the caring of the essential goods and services in a way that is functional to the sustainable development of the individuals with reference both to the social and the ecological context.

But the art of well-building the common house is not an easy task at least as long it continues to prevail the neoliberal capitalism whose ultimate goal is to ensure organizational, productive and political totalitarian models, directed toward the goal of maximum efficiency and the most widespread social control through the flattening of critical thinking and the exacerbation of consumerism (both of ideas and products) and the consequent atomization of the individual awareness into a kind of magmatic collective consciousness based on a preconceived fideistic approach to mass cultural values. Since the earliest studies on the subject[6] it has been pointed out that the mass draws its origin mainly from the homogenization of the objects created and sold, which in its turn by generating a standardization of tastes and ideas, tends to create identical consumers and modify collective behavior in a direction of anonymous equality.

We can therefore understand the importance of a new Existentialism that introduces to a reconstruction of the relationship between Mankind and Nature, bending Science and Technology for solutions that are finalistically oriented to the pursuit of the goals of a responsible and sustainable governance of Nature and its resources, for saving the humankind from the risk of its biological extinction.

To think otherwise, we would mark an irretrievable setback in the evolutionary path of humankind because in perpetuating the conditions of an ideological understanding and management of the critical issues of the ecosystems around us, we would also perpetuate the myopic dynamics underlying the contingency of ideologies (ecological integralism and climate justice against the principle of neutrality of technologies within the Zero Carbon Roadmap are just few proper exsamples) that never creates superior practices of the common good but only selfish particularisms and individualisms that are the bearers of social distress and the mains destroyers of the solidaristic duties from which Freedom and Democracy have always been generated in every historical age.


[1] F.COSTANTINO,Tecnologia disumanizzante o un nuovo umanesimo della tecnologia? spunti di riflessione per un salvacondotto dal Nichilismo del modello del Capitalismo consumeristico neoliberale

in TECH ECONOMY2030 <>

[2] M.BENASAYAG, The Tyranny of Alghorithms, 2019.

[3] P. VALERY Homo Politicus 2019.

[4] N.P. MONEY The Selfish Monkey, 2020

[5] N.CAPONE, Ecodomia del comune. Note su come rifare il mondo restando felici, 2019

[6] GUSTAV LE BON, Psychology of Crowds, 1865