Italy: FdCA On The Anti-war Movement

AL: How important is the anti-war movement in Italian society (among youth, workers, artists, etc.)?

FDCA: The anti-war movement in Italy is becoming more important
as the social consensus against the war grows. Peace flags are
flying in their tens of thousands from the windows and balconies
of every town. Every day, demos are being organized, concerts,
sit-ins, marches, and it is ordinary people, not only activists,
who are taking part, including a great many workers and kids.
The labour movement is also very much involved, as are catholics
(right down to parish level) and the world of show business and
the arts. From the demo in Florence on 9th November right up to
the one on 16th March in Milan, millions of people have come
onto the streets to give life to a real mass movement against
the war, where the variety of views and backgrounds come
together in an impressive capacity for mobilization. The
government has banned the display of peace flags outside public
offices, but even so there are many to be seen on the building
of many institutions such as local government offices, school
and so on.

AL: Are the unions, and in particular the CGIL and the
grassroots unions, involved in workplace activities to fight
against the war and the position of the Berlusconi government
which is supporting Bush?

FDCA: The union movement is mobilizing in all workplaces. The
CGIL called the strike at the ports where military vessels are
being loaded and is participating in all demonstrations and also
organizing some (700,000 in Milan on 16th March). Railway
workers from various unions have organized conscientious
objection to rail transport of military goods and arms. The CGIL
is ready to declare a General Strike as soon as the bombing
begins. The grassroots unions have already called a General
Strike against the war to be held within 48 hours of the start
of the bombing and notwithstanding a ban on it by the
government, the strike has been confirmed! Already, rail, port
and education workers have mobilized against the war. The
USI-AIT has also organized a permanent committee against the
war, which has been in existence since autumn 2002.

AL: How exactly is the anti-war movement in Italy organized?

FDCA: The movement is self-organized on a minute level by dozens
and dozens of groups, collectives, committees, political and
union organizations, and religious and social volunteer groups.
Everyone does what they have to do and, in the towns, are
building networks and wide corordinations which are organizing
all sorts of initiatives. The libertarian anti-militarist
proposal is growing: after the first demonstration at La Spezia
at the end of January, there is another planned for 5th April
near the infamous base at Aviano in north-eastern Italy. These
demonstrations organized by the anti-militarist movement are
attracting the participation of other political and social
sectors and are contributing to the spread of critical ideas
about the war and militarism which transcend sentiment.

AL: Can you tell us about the actions against NATO bases or
those designed to impede the transport of military goods towards
Iraq?

FDCA: Apart from filling the streets during demonstrations, the
movement was immediately able to understand that it was necessry
to bring the opposition to the war to those places which host
NATO's military machine. There are many demonstrations at or
around American and NATO military bases. As during the Kosovo
war in 1999, the movement has chosen strongly symbolic places to
protest against the war, to denounce the military occupation of
large parts of Italy. It is denouncing war preparations which
are taking place behind closed doors in our back yards. During
the month of March several trains carrying American military
material heading for Iraq were blocked. The ports where this
material was being loaded were blocked. Action was also extended
to include the blocking of trains carrying Italian military
material from one base to another. At first, these actions were
being carried out above all by the "Disobbedienti", but their
action soon acquired mass participation with a consequent
increase in press coverage and further expansion.

AL: How do you explain the mass nature of the demonstrations in
Italy?

FDCA: The large-scale popular participation in the anti-war
movement and its geographical spread make it a real mass
movement where the unity of political objectives which need to
be pursued is clear for all to see - NO WAR, without IFS or
BUTS! It is an ideal dimension for anarchist activity, as long
as certain things are kept in mind:

1. This movement got its wings in Florence during the ESF in
November 2002 taking advantage of the political and social
drives of previous months, that is to say the no-global
movement, the movement of the unions in defence of labour rights
and the movement of the "girotondini";

2. There is great involvement in the movement of
Catholic-inspired associations. The choice made by the Vatican
legitimised a stance that was by no means to be taken for
granted after the polemics raised between the Catholc
associations and the no-global movement in the aftermath of
Genoa. It is however a strongly ETHICAL stance, much more so
than a political one;

3. The institutional left (which went to war in Kosovo) has been
forced to declare itself as being against the war in order to
maintain contact with the masses and regain its lost
credibility, however it is simply trying to use this movement in
its institutional battle against Berlusconi;

4. The social left seems to have accepted the mass nature of the
movement, one where is little room for leaders or bosses;

5. There is a growing feeling of social opposition to the
Berlusconi government, but we must not illude ourselves...

AL: How do you analyse the representation crisis in Italy? Do
you think that the anti-war protests can lead to a political
crisis and that it will be be possible to transform an
imperialist war into an anti-capitalist social offensive?

FDCA: The Italian government has a strong parliamentary position
and is proceeding with its job of destrucuring and dismantling
Italian society. While the anti-war movement has been busy
protesting, the government has been getting on with passing a
law which introduces a counter-reformation in the school system,
a law on the total flexibility of the labour market and is
preparing a law on pensions and another on dismissals from
employment. There are tough social battles in the country, but
there do not seem to be the required conditions for a possible
political crisis which could topple the present government's
majority. The anti-war movement is composed of a combination of
many different elements - ethical and ideological, non-violent
and combative, pacifist and anti-militarist. The way to
radicalize the movement lies in the realization of the idea that
there is a strict connection between capitalism and militarism,
between the fight for peace and the fight against capitalism.
This is the job which anarchists and libertarians have to do.