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Italian Anarchist Federation : #Coronavirus and emergency – We do not forget which side of the barricade we are on

Communique by the Correspondence Commission of the Italian Anarchist Federation about the coronavirus and the state of emergency.

Originally published by the Italian Anarchist Federation. Translated by Enough 14.

In the face of this crisis, state and capital are showing, with unprecedented evidence, their immense limitations and their structural inability to take account of people’s needs and health.

In Italy, the political choices of governments have constantly cut public health (more than public, state). Some of the few resources have been diverted to private healthcare, even during the current emergency. The contemporary “regionalization”, according to a corporate-capitalist model, has then made this service, which in theory should be universal, strongly differentiated between regions and regions, between rich and poor regions.

Patients have become customers and care services monetized in a general framework of competition and profit.

This approach to the health service reveals its real face in this dramatic moment, leaving us all at the mercy of its philosophy, which is certainly not that of human compassion and recognition of the other as our fellow human beings, but that of calculating the minimum material requirements for maximum profit, which is now translated into the lack of equipped facilities, hired staff and consumption material in warehouses.

The result is that the increasingly limited funds and staff, already exploited to the limit in the ordinary, leave no margin for emergency situations. Except then to admit that the places in the intensive care units are running out, the staff is scarce, the respirators are not available and it will be necessary to make choices about who to treat. And all this while the state pays 70 million euros a day for military expenses without blinking an eye. With the 70 million spent in just one of the 366 days of this leap year, six new hospitals could be built and equipped and there would be some money left over for masks, analysis laboratories and buffers for real screening. A respirator costs 4,000 thousand euros, so we could buy 17,500 respirators a day, many more than we need now.

In recent weeks we have witnessed a total slatternliness of the political class in dealing with the emergency, with exponents from all areas saying everything and the opposite of everything, calling for closure and opening depending on what the opponent was calling for. We have seen the government appeal against the closure of schools in the Marches and then close the whole country a few days later, we have seen repugnant opportunisms and now we are witnessing the rhetoric of “we will make it”. If we succeed, it will certainly not be thanks to the national and regional governments. It will certainly not be thanks to the massive militarization of cities and borders. It will certainly not be thanks to the companies which, through Confindustria, have thrown down the mask by explicitly choosing profit. They have stated it clearly and distinctly, without lapses of words, without shame: let us not close down, production must go ahead [1]. This has led to spontaneous strikes in many companies, with the trade unions chasing the struggles of workers who did not want to give in supinely to the claims of the employers. The pursuit of the regime unions has reached the goal of the ridiculous protocol signed on March 14, containing only obligations for workers and only recommendations for companies.

This disgusting cynicism, this hunger for profit combined with contempt for the health of those who work, precisely because expressed at such an exceptional time, must not pass, and their gentlemen must account for it.
This crisis is especially affecting those who work in health care and who are under constant pressure from massacring shifts and increasing cases of contagion and deaths among the staff themselves.

No mainstream media has taken up the complaint of the lawyers of the nurses’ association, an institution that has nothing subversive. In the dominant narrative doctors and nurses are described as heroes, as long as they get sick and die in silence, without telling what happens in hospitals. Nurses who tell the truth are threatened with dismissal. Those who are infected are not recognized as injured, so that the hospital company is not obliged to pay compensation to those who find themselves working every day without protection or with totally inadequate protection.

This crisis is affecting those who have an occasional or precarious job, at the moment with no income and no certainty of getting their jobs back after the epidemic has ended.

It is paying for those at home in telework to have to reconcile an often very complex home presence with children or people to care for and contemporary productive obligations.

It is being paid for by those who are forced to go to their workplaces without any guarantee of health.

The poor, homeless, those who survive on the streets or in a nomadic camp are paying for it.

It is being paid for by workers who have gone on spontaneous strikes against the risk of contagion and have also been denounced for violating government orders because they were demonstrating for their health on the streets.

It is being paid for by prisoners in the prisons of the democratic state who have started revolts in 30 prisons in defence of their health. During the revolts there have been fourteen deaths. Fourteen people who – they tell us – all died from self-induced drug overdoses. Fourteen people subjected to the responsibility of a system that perhaps did not seem to be able to apply other containment measures than using an iron fist, not so much of the infection but of the prisoners themselves.

In an explosive situation due to the conditions already at the limits of human beings that have been living inside prisons for years – in a structural and not exceptional way – the government has thought well to stop all visits without taking effective measures to protect the health of the prisoners.

Unfortunately, we are well aware that once this emergency phase is over, it will always be the same people who will lose in terms of impoverishment and further exploitation. Because even if none of us have a crystal ball, it can already be predicted that they will use the excuse of “recovery”, “economic recovery”, “overcoming the crisis”, to increasingly suppress the spaces for struggle in the workplace and civil and political freedoms. It will come as no surprise if the rhetoric of “responsibility” is used to further refine the disciplinary and social control mechanisms, to further restrict freedom of movement, to further restrict the freedom to strike and demonstrate, which is now effectively suspended. Already now the number of those reported for violation of the decrees exceeds that of those infected. On this we will be called upon to proactively monitor and act without hesitation.

We are in solidarity with all those who are currently risking their lives to save others, with all the staff on duty in hospitals, with those who work and strike to ensure safety conditions for themselves and others, with all those who cannot afford to #stayathome because they don’t have a home. We are in solidarity with those who are afraid because they fear for themselves and their loved ones. We sympathize with all those who have fallen ill and have been torn away from home without being able to have contact with their loved ones because of the absence of protective equipment, we sympathize with all those who are dying with palliative care because of the absence of adequate emergency facilities and we sympathize with those who have had to make decisions about the lives of others on who to intubate and who not in a desperate attempt to minimize the damage when the damage is certain.

We will not forget who is responsible for what happens today: it is the governments and states that have sacrificed the health of us all by choosing profit, war and the strengthening of their power.
But make no mistake: the struggles will not go into quarantine.

Correspondence Commission of the Italian Anarchist Federation, March 20, 2020

[1] After more and more reports came in that most people in Italy got infected on their workplaces, the Italian government decided to shutdown all businesses on March 21, 2020, except for those who are “system-relevant” like for instance supermarkets.

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