Italy: Mass Struggles, Repression, And Anarchism

Italy: Mass Struggles, Repression, and Anarchism
(a statement by the FdCA)

Over the last 3 years, the capitalistic tendencies who are seeking to
increase and concentrate all the economic and political-military power
- both on an international and State level - have muscled in on those
other tendencies who instead are trying to create a multilateral power
system, based on a style of statist neo-reformism which could assure
greater profits for capitalism together with a lower welfare protection.
Imperialist wars, financial crises, deregulation of the institutional
and legislative framework for the protection of the weaker classes, the
destruction of the fabric of solidarity of the world of salaried labour
and attacks on the environment and on health are all directly or
indirectly affecting the people, who are finding it ever more difficult
to organize and express any form of dissent, objection or struggle by
which they could try to change the current situation. A situation which
is the result of the economic, political and military choices made by
the powers-that-be, who govern in the name of laws they themselves
produce, designed to enable them ... to govern.

The drastic reduction and erosion of any possibility for debate and
negotiation, or its transformation into fake negotiating tables whose
only purpose is to preserve capitalism, has revealed the grim face of
militaristic capitalism and the pathetic refusal of its neo-reformist
tendencies to safeguard even the minimum interests of the subordinate

This is the backdrop to the development of a large composite,
international opposition movement which has played a leading role in
vast popular mobilizations which are significant due to their size,
their obvious potential for self-organization and self-management and
their ability to contrast on the streets with the repressive violence
of the State.

In Italy, these last three years have marked the definitive breakdown
of the social setup which dates from the last decade of the 20th
century, but which proved inadequate in the face of the present
conflict. On the one hand, the plunge in the buying power of wages
(-9.3% for manual workers, -11.1% for office workers, -27% for
pensioners), on the other hand the failure of incomes policy. On the
one hand, the bosses' arrogance in company planning (laws on mobility
and dismissals/redundancies) and in the renewal of labour contracts
(laws providing for wage increases on the level of figures for planned
inflation which are lower than official inflation figures, not to
mention the figures for real inflation!!), on the other hand the
failure of the policy of partnership between unions and governments. On
the one hand, the continual restrictions on labour rights (the changes
to Article 18 of the Workers' Statute, Law 30/2003, the anti-strike Law
83/2000, separate labour contracts without consultation), on the other
hand the crisis in the representativity model imposed by the
self-proclaimed majority unions.

The inevitable and consequent radicalization of conflict in the world
of labour has enabled the working class to re-discover its long-lost
(but not forgotten) autonomy both in struggle and in organization -
from Fiat employees to temporary workers, from industrial workers to
transport workers. With the destruction of the policy of partnership,
we see a rise in importance once more of power relations, the capacity
for struggle and for the defence of the workers' specific interests,
freed from the neo-corporativist cage. Though the battle for wages in
certain sectors remains hard and difficult, the question regarding the
right to strike is once again open is struggling free of the
straightjacket imposed on it by anti-strike laws and union

The interconnection of labour struggles with social struggles (for the
rights of migrants, for the protection of the environment, for peace
and against prohibitionism) has come about in a social scenario which
has been expertly manipulated throught the disgraceful use of the term
terrorist applied to anyone who dares oppose the supreme designs of the

There has been no phase of the clash of the classes over the last three
years which has not seen the social movements subjected to repressive
treatment, in the full blaze of media publicity - hundreds of searches,
arrests, stops, injuries, with a noticeable increase in intensity from
Genova 2001 and the strikes of 2002 on.

By now, there is no part of Italy where investigators do not have an
open file on political or radical union militants. Every area and
tendency has members under investigation, from the anti-war movement to
the anti-globalization movement, from environmental groups to
anti-prison groups. Police preventiive measure in the name of "national
security", repression of demonstrations in the name of "national
security", the criminalization of dissent and of self-managed struggles
- these are the elements of a strategy whose aim is to intimidate mass
movements which are potentialy able to act on the contradictions of
capitalism to the extent of becoming a danger above all for the very
existence of capitalist domination.

Given that capitalism today can no longer make do with less visible,
more "structural" forms of repression (disciplinary sanctions,
uncontrolled mobility, dismissals, wage reductions, widespread
temporarization of labour, etc.) which directly hit the class in the
crucial point of the contradiction between capital and labour, it
therefore uses the State as a repressive armed extension of itself with
al its laws, police apparata, places of imprisonment in order to select
and strike, individually and separately, any transgressors of their
laws. They use the threat of illegality to discourage mobilizations,
those declared "guilty" are given full media treatment so as to provide
an example of what can happen to those who fight. And it is at the very
moment that there is a break in the struggles that the repression
intensifies and there is an arbitrary spread in the net which is laid
out to catch supposed subversive groups and terrorists, thereby locking
up an ever-growing number of people and extending the circle to include
their acquaintances.

When the social climate hots up and forms of mass self-management start
to appear, it is then that, now as in the past, it is the anarchists
and libertarians who are the worst hit and who appear most frequently
in the investigators' lists, not to mention the traditional
journalistic/judicial charges of anarchist plots (witness the equation
of "parcel bombs = anarchist movement").

Anarchists are targetted because their stands against capitalism,
authoritarianism, militarism and prisons are immediately obvious and
result in their repression at the hands of the State apparatus. We know
that the love of anarchists for freedom and self-management attracts
the noose of the organs of control and government.

We are conscious that our action within the social movements and our
continued agitation for the class struggle and its autonomy, disturbs
the mechanisms of consensus of a capitalism that is ever darker and
exploits more and more. We recognize that what we want, what we do, our
theory and our needs are radically opposed to anything which is based
on the State and on Capital.

We become the object of preventive, repeated repression, of limitations
on our freedom. In this way, it becomes easier to target us and set up
provocations and instrumentalization (such as the recent case of
tampered bottles of mineral water, attributed to anarchists). But above
all, we become a disturbance and annoyance to the State and to
authority of all types when anarchists place themselves firmly within
the realm of mass struggles and refuse the adventurism and vanguardism
of individual clashes with the State and armed terrorist struggle. When
anarchism legitimizes itself as a self-managed social and political
component of mass struggles, in visible, public mass organizations and
with faces uncovered, when it presents itself as an authentic
interpretation of the autonomous drives of social self-organization,
that is the time when anarchists become cumbersome and dispensible.

But it is in these circumstances that anarchism can best express its
organizational abilities, where it can best devote its resources to
provide the yeast for the social struggles, in the belief that the
organisms of struggle have no passive need for exemplary gestures,
social detonators or stirrers of conscience, but rather of horizontal,
anti-authoritarian, mass organization. And of the federated political
organization of anarchists.

Continuing with our existing struggles, continuing our presence within
the organisms of struggle, may not be enough to avoid repression. It
therefore becomes necessary to create structures of solidarity and
legal defence which can gather the gretest possible support. It becomes
necessary to examine the old structures of the anarchist movement (for
example the National Committee for Political Victims) which could be
used side by side with the specific defence committees which are formed
around the country.

Freedom is a social fact which needs the help of everyone in order to
be won and has no need for prisoners or warders but for the action and
the thoughts of organized and federated conscious individuals.