Alex Foti on Mon, 10 Mar 2008 17:46:24 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> a spaghetti update: 3rd cloning of berlusconi or demoliberal future?

dear net siblings,

i figured i owed u a quick update after my earlier note that
spaghettiland was in turmoil. now it's headed for early elections of
uncertain outcome (but berlusconi alliance with postfascists is
supposedly leading the opinion polls).

prodi is history as u all know. he was backstabbed by centrists, but
the blame fell on the reds and greens in gov't, who had a pitiful
performance however you wanna look at it. the lefties have to get more
than 8% to be elected in both chambers. this is probably the biggest
reason why they created the arcobaleno (rainbow) cartel of commies,
socialists, ecologists, pacifists, when Veltroni (aspiring new
spaghetti leader) rejected their offer to form a coalition. He decide
to "run alone" (i.e. without leftist connatations) after the
foundation of partito democratico, a philoyankee creature that
eternizes the historical compromise of the 70s between moro and
berlinguer, i.e. b/w former communists and present-day social

The electoral law hands the majority of seats to the list or coalition
getting the relative majority. Berlusconi runs a patched-up duo with
Genoa-butcher Fini. Never free-market cryptofascism has been more
threatening in these lands. But, and this is crucial, he lost former
centrist allies in government and thus the endorsement of the Vatican.
After a few fumbles (not least letting Mr B calling the shots once
more), Veltroni has archived Prodi and modeled himself as italy's
Obama. The new party, born to be an executive board with the corporate
mission of making sclerotizing italy competitive back again, has
appropriated the national flag and the national anthem, once preserve
of rightwingers. It also promises tax breaks and a minimum wage of €1K
a month for young precarious. Together with his unashamed appeasement
of the vatican, he's trying to appeal to a cross-class constituency of
people, mostly over 50 (but with young candidates in the lists).

Most people, especially on the left and the movement left, are too
disgusted to even consider to vote (il manifesto daily website polls
more than 40% not going to the ballot box). Prodi pulled the trick of
making himself hated by workers and employers, secular and clerical
people alike. He balanced the budget, but during an incipient great
recession this was not exactly a priority. He didn't repeal any of the
berlusconi damning laws on immigration, labor flexibility, thc, the
reason why he was voted by the left.

The compressed election campaign has obscured minor parties (and this
is a paneuropean phenomenon; look at what happened with zp's victory
in spain yday) and eclipsed progressive populists like grillo. The
Veltroni newness factor seems now to have worn off, and the Caiman is
back to playing the vaudeville tricks he's famous for. But he's
becoming senile and his slogan "rialzati italia!" (italy, rise up
again!) seems to be borrowed straight from mussolini's ministry of
propaganda (the infamous minculpop). The danger for him is to sound
old, rather than fascist. If he were to win, signs are that
neofascists and other xenophobes (read lega nord) would go on a
rampage against immigrants and radicals.

Amidst a depressing situation such as this, two positive things stand
out. An anarcha and liberal feminist movement has been taking it to
the streets with newfound strength to defeat widespread clericalism
and misogyny (economic discrimination and domestic violence against
women are much higher than elsewhere, and the attack on abortion is
frontal). What can be by now termed the "second wave of Italian
feminism" started in january 2006 in milano and has exploded in
november 007 in rome. Its radical component is particulary daring and
experimenting and has strong relations with centri sociali and lgbt
collectives. Its reformist component is linked to mainstream unions,
especially cgil, for better or worse one of the last institutional
bastions of secularism in italy. Linked to this is the NO VAT (no vatican, the abbreviation is a wordplay
on the no tav environmental movement, in which many anarchists took
part)  movement, and last but crucial the movement in universities
against clerical interference, which saw at Sapienza its flashpoint,
when Maledictus XVI had to cancel his lectio magistralis, because he
couldn't fathom the possibility of being booed by students and
criticized by faculty (in a university where theology is NOT thought;
ask giordano bruno the reason why). The sapienza movement angered the
whole of the italian political class, another reason for many people
not to cast the ballot on april 13-14.

Yet these elections are arguably the most important since 1948,
certainly since 1994. Whoever wins will get to clear the table without
having to bargain with coalition allies. The political landscape has
unusually changed in a space of a few months, and the proud leftist
tradition of spaghettiland could be erased from parliamentary
representation, as "veltrusconi" duopoly crowds out everybody else
from public attention. it also doesn't help that pensioner bertinotti
is leading the rainbow charge. the rainbow won't get much help from
the genoa veterans, after he maneuvered to break the movement in two
in 2004.

Concluding on a positive note, the milanese mayday will be
particularly strong this year. Precarity has finally emerged as the
most pressing social question along with job deaths, but people do not
trust politicians to solve either, while migrants face a worsening of
their dire conditions, because of the strident calls for more
"security" that dominate the campaign. The net result is that more
immigrant and precarious collectives than ever before are organizing
the process this year. They vow it will be a long, long mayday.

see you in aachen ( or in the
mayday city closest to you;)


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