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<nettime> spaghetti chronicles from a country in turmoil
Alex Foti on Sat, 27 Oct 2007 13:21:38 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> spaghetti chronicles from a country in turmoil

yes, spaghettiland is always in turmoil, but now sociopolitical
instability has reached heights unseen since the early 90s.

It's hard to summarize all the events of massive political
participation that have occurred since grillo launched the vaffanculo
(fuck'em off) day on September 8, the day the Italian monarchical
state dissolved after fascism called their nazi brethren to invade the
country. For a brief while, the palaces of power were shaken by the
populist groundswell triggered by comedian turned blogger-preacher
(think of network's willian holden). Grillo's book on precarity put
the issue at the center of political discourse (even the pope has now
joined the vogue, saying that the "precariato", a condition not a
subject in italian media parlance, is a "moral emergency"), while his
calls to put corrupt politicians in jail and inefficient
administrators out of power struck a note among many disaffected with
the moderate and reformist (there're no radical parties in italy, in
spite of red-flag appearances) forces backing the prodi government.
The reds in gov't had seen their popular support disappear on June,
when Bush visited Italy for the second time. Their demo went deserted,
while the noglobal movement (meaning everybody to the left of
rifondazione) filled the streets of Rome.

In July, the Prodi government signed a pension and labor market
agreement with the mainstream unions (confederali, lemme call'em
"confeds" so you get more the spirit) and the employers' organization
(confindustria, led by fiat-ferrari-corsera boss montezemolo) raising
lower pensions, postponing retirement, giving unemployment benefits to
those over50 and laughing at the faces of precari, who can be forced
to temp for 36 months, renewable at will with the confeds' reps
consent, before getting a proper labor contract. FIOM, the
metalworkers federation and Italy's oldest union, denounced the
agreement, in unprecedent polemic with CGIL, the reformist (and very
hierarchical) union which commands the largest numbers of members
(half of them are pensioners).

In August, a group of noteworthy intellectuals along with the
manifesto and liberazione dailies, and carta weekly, issued a call for
a big demo to be held in Rome to protest against widespread precarity,
the so-called "welfare protocol" and try to nudge Prodi to the left,
without risking his fall, for fear of seeing  Berlusconi Bananas
return to power. The mainstream political framework had been shaken by
the birth of the demo(no)cratic party, the party wanted by Italian
elites and sponsored by both Italy's largest dailies, corsera and
repubblica, which would finally make eternal the historic compromise
of the 70s between social catholics and reformed communists, by
merging the pci-pds-ds with margherita (prodi's makeshift party which
he has always been unable to lead). In a turn toward plebiscites and
"democracy" from above, the new party was to be born out of internal
primaries to be held on October 13, where random voters (the vast
majority over50) had to choose both the leader and the regional cadres
of the new partito democratico (in a clearly slavish imitation of US
politics). In fact, the winner was already known in advance, Walter
Veltroni, mayor of Rome, the guy whose political parable went from
Pasolini to Spielberg, and from Gramsci to Kennedy with surprising
ease. Youngish for gerontocratic spaghetti politics, he seeemed the
only one who could beat the populist, clerical, xenophobic, fascist
right in general elections should prodi fall. Another well-prepared
plebiscite had occured a week earlier. The "confeds" had orchestrated
a referendum among pensioners and in workplaces to ratify the
much-contested welfare protocol. FIOM said to vote no but could not
campaign for it in factories, and more than three quarters of the 5
million votes (3.5 million voted the democratic party into existence)
approved the protocol amid protests for vote rigging and for the vast
majority of young precarious workers been unable to vote. However all
the factories of FIAT group voted no, and many other industrial plants
in the North did so, too.

After the double uppercut inflicted by party and union moderates on
the parliamentary left, the four leftist dwarves (rifondazione,
comunisti italiani, verdi, sinistra democratica) started fearing for
their survival. In addition, the vast majority of the Genoa movement,
including militant unions, former disobbedienti and all the radical
left archipelago said they would not participate in the much debated
and heralded antiprecarity demonstration on October 20, saying it was
just a fig leaf covering the total social inaction of the left of the
prodi government, and it was more about saving party secretaries than
affirming social rights and improving working conditions. In the end,
the greens and the leftish guys that didn't join the dem party also
chose to not participate, so it was a communist-only demonstration
(paolo cento's green left did participate, saying it was a reply to
the primaries and a first step toward building a united party or
alliance of the left in italy). In fact, a red sea of red flags showed
up in Rome last Saturday. Aged over 40 on average, at least half a
million people showed up from all over Italy. It was the peuple of
spaghetti communism, in its party, union, and cultural incarnations.
Still strong and determined to counter social conservatism. A week
before there had been a lesser, but still worrisome, show of street
participation by the nationalist right of fini (the one who commanded
the massacre of Genoa and who could be berlusconi's successor).

The Genoa movement had decided for a different tactic, as well as its
environmental justice offspring, the NoTav and NoDalMolin popular
movements. Rather than join the oct 20 demo as a supporting actor, the
movement has been investing its energies in the general social strike
of November 9, called by all militant unions (finally synchronous
after 5 years this hasn't happened) and supported by all centri
sociali, mayday's radical activists, collectives of precarious
workers, and the burgeoning student movement (high schools have done
huge demos and strikes over the last month; in Milan, they placed city
hall under siege and climbed its walls). I suspect it is going to be a
very good surprise, although no media is talking about it. There will
be large demos in Milano and Rome as well as in other large cities.
Check out what will happen two Fridays from now.

Finally, the prosecution at the Genoa trial has just asked for 225
years of prison for the activists under trial on never-used charges of
devastation, explicitly rying to offset the disgust for the countless
tortures and humiliations emerged at the trial, which as we all know
(and bear the marks on our flesh) were systematically inflicted by
polizia, carabinieri, and prison guards on July 20-22, 2001. A call to
all to be in Genoa on November 17 has just been issued (see for
instance http://www.globalproject.info/art-13682.html). The
long-splintered generation of tute bianche and indymedia is coming
back together, to fight together in genoa the re-writing of recent
social history and especially oppose the securitarian attack on social
dissent that is being carried everywhere in Europe today.

we are all Carlo Giuliani,


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