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Chronicles from the state of emergency No. 5 – Wall paper from #Trentino

Comrades from Trentino (Italian territory) published their fifth wall paper about the current state of emergency which is now being pasted in several cities. You can read No. 1 here and No. 2 here, No. 3 here and No. 4 here.

Originally published by Il Rovescio. Translated by Enough 14.

Original Wall paper Chronicles from the state of emergency No. 5 (Italian) as PDF file:

April 20. 2020

What a discovery, society!

Faced with the risk of dying from contagion, millions of human beings are discovering that their own actions and those of others have a real effect on society, that is, on themselves and their fellow human beings. After decades of liberal ideology according to which “society” was a sort of black hole into which anything could be thrown, now the principle of responsibility is rapidly being rediscovered. It turns out that workers are meat for slaughter; that profits come before health; that behind the vague “public interest” is the state and its police. Since viruses cause effects even if they cannot be seen, we discover that there is a “materiality of the invisible”. Digital technologies – to which scientists and governments entrust our fate – are anything but immaterial. To keep millions of people connected while they are locked indoors, we need servers, energy, cables, antennas and, above all, metals and rare earth, which means wars, looting of the earth’s crust, nuclear radiation, semi-slaves (often children) forced to work in mines, entire areas of the world turned into waste dumps, i.e. conditions for new epidemics. Can there be a principle of responsibility on command, under the empire of fear?

What do you mean, “can’t go out”?

Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of this period is the state attempt to bring together responsibility and obedience. If we think of the tragedies that obedience produced in the twentieth century (“I only followed orders” was, not surprisingly, the phrase most repeated by the Nazis in Nuremberg), such an overlap should make our wrists tremble. So why are we at home? Out of a sense of responsibility? Because the government says so? Out of fear for fines? Millions of people would certainly answer in very different ways. What is ethically and socially unacceptable is to confuse obedience and responsibility. Let’s take an example. If you actually read the government decrees – without being terrorized by the loudspeaker announcements – and followed them to the letter, what would happen? If thousands of people were to go out at the same time to do ” physical activity in the vicinity of their homes”, what kind of assembly would be created? If, on the other hand, the same people go for a walk in isolated areas, in violation of the decree, do they put someone’s health at risk? The sanction has never been an argument.

Obligations and bans

While in some “non-democratic countries” it is becoming normal to trace all data on identity, places frequented, meetings, even in the “liberal West” we look at the guidelines for restructuring 4.0 of social life. In several areas of China (where the cases of contagion are close to zero) one does not enter any public place without a smartphone in hand to “guarantee” one’s status. Not having certain tools is starting to look more and more like being an undocumented migrant, or at least a suspicious person. To understand the phrase, just look at who are the 17 specialists chosen by the Conte government to plan “Phase 2” (i.e. “rethink the organization of our life and prepare the gradual return to normality”). The task force (with references to the inter-ministerial committee of ’45) will be led by the former CEO of Vodafone, Vittorio Colao, who will be flanked by numerous technicians and experts including Roberto Cingolani, the current head of technological innovation of Leonardo (the largest Italian arms manufacturer) and director of the Italian Institute of Technology. Meanwhile, 5G is starting to be a reality. “Every technology brings its own secret obligations and prohibitions”, wrote Günther Anders. And what could be more secret and invisible than a technology that is confused with our own everyday life?

While we still have time

There is an accumulation of announcements and plans to transform “social distancing” into something semi-permanent (since pandemics are already integrated as a “side effect” of techno-industrial production). In this way we would be distanced not only from our fellow human beings, but from the individual and collective possibility of defending ourselves against the administrators of coercion. Without being able to meet and organize ourselves, how to react to increasingly totalitarian surveillance measures, or, more banally, to layoffs? If we entrust the “contagion problem” to a technological-bureaucratic apparatus, the most effective solution – the only one that does not question the apparatus itself – is total control. Not because techno-burocrats are evil or because they are part of who knows what world conspiracy, but because technical solutions must structurally disregard ethical-social considerations. Especially in the name of an emergency. Freedom, especially because it is unpredictable, is a disturbing factor for algorithms; value judgement is always human, too human, while calculation is objective. What is the most effective solution if a child makes too much noise? Tie him up, or give him psychotropic drugs. If parents do not do it, it is not because they do not find it effective (cost-benefit calculation), but because they consider it wrong (ethical-pedagogical judgement). Let’s get it out of our heads: the certainty of not getting sick will never be a certainty. The question, which no artificial intelligence will be able to answer for us, is always the same: what are we willing to give up of life to continue living?

They thought that by calling them”heroes”…

While the health personnel of Piacenza declare themselves ready to go on strike if the factories are reopened, two hundred Greek doctors and nurses signed a document with which they addressed seven questions to the “Committee of Experts” of the Ministry of Health. Here are a couple of them: “What scientific approach imposes the circulation of our fellow citizens wearing gloves and masks in the open air and on the contrary it ironically and “doesn’t matter” the question of the absolutely necessary guarantee from the hygienic and social point of view of all means of individual protection of workers in hospitals and clinics?”; “What scientific approach imposes the ban on meeting of more than two people in the open air, but DOES NOT denounce the functioning of companies and industries that produce non-essential goods with dozens of workers assembled in closed spaces and without the necessary means of protection? Recruitment of other health personnel; providing means of protection to all workers; immediate and unconditional requisitioning of normal and intensive care beds, laboratory equipment and clinics from the private care sector: with these claims, gatherings have been organised in front of 25 hospitals in 20 Greek provinces. Workers from many other sectors, pensioners and students participated in the initiatives. During one of the gatherings, the police intervention was rejected collectively and in solidarity. Among the slogans: “We are only slaves to our conscience” and “the lockdown will not stop the struggles”.

Resisting the emergency, defying the bans

March 31, Milan. Picket of workers (those not yet sick) in the Fruttital [1] warehouse at risk of being fired. In full emergency the company had announced the closure and relocation. In addition, in the previous days no contagion protection equipment had been provided to the workers.

April 1, Calliano (TN). For this day, some relatives of the prisoners had invited to make the beats resonate outside the prisons. So, a small group of anarchists, to explain the meaning of the knocking that there would be in the evening, thought to overturn the institutional practice of spreading sinister alerts and warnings from loudspeakers, going around the country with a sound system to make various interventions in support of prison struggles. Within a short time, eight carabinieri patrols arrived on the scene, plus other local police and Digos [2] cars.

April 8, Turin. “Food delivery” is considered an essential activity but the bike shops are closed; companies such as Glovo or Deliveroo have never maintained the vehicles of those who make the deliveries: riders meet in the square, with bicycles and tools, for a “travelling bike shop” that allows to fix their vehicles for those who, despite the “lockdown”, continue to work.

April 14th, Rome. Revolt in the Torre Maura Refugee Center. Operators prohibited to leave the centre, internees responded with fires and damage. In the previous days there had been protests, acts of self-harm, fires, attempts to escape, hunger and thirst strikes in various deportation centres.

April 15th, Carmagnola (TO). Picket of the health workers of a nursing home where 46 infected people out of 50 had been registered. Requests: masks and buffers for employees. The answers: police and carabinieri arrived, the Socialcoop cooperative declared that it had “hired to make up for the absence of staff”… infected.

April 15th, Turin. The street vendors from the Porta Palazzo market, the only one not yet reopened in the city, have gone to the square (keeping safe distances), perhaps because it is in an area undergoing intense “redevelopment” (more and more investments for the rich, less and less space for the poor).

April 16th, Massalengo (LO). Strike of 250 workers in the central warehouse of Carrefour Lombardia against outsourcing to a cooperative that pays 20% less to workers. An agreement is signed that cancels the outsourcing. In the meantime, we learn of the closure of Fruttital in Milan, transferred to Verona. Since Fruttital is one of Carrefour’s suppliers, the workers decide that its trucks will no longer be unloaded, as an act of solidarity towards the recently laid-off workers.

April 16th. Relatives and supporters of the prisoners protest outside the prisons in various cities (Rome, Bologna, Turin, Bolzano…). In Rome, the police surround them and push them around, not caring about the so called safety distances, and take 8 people to the police station. In the previous days the relatives protested outside the prisons of Secondigliano, Poggioreale, Santa Maria Capua Vetere. In the prisons of Ariano Irpino, Palermo, Crotone, Bologna, Alessandria, Santa Maria C.V., Rebibbia, Secondigliano there are riots, beatings, hunger and thirst strikes.

17 April, Torrazza Piemonte (TO). Strike of all staff at the Amazon facility: the company does not provide information on cases of contagion inside the premises, hiding behind the “privacy protection” shield.

On April 25th

While the government and regions are reopening places of production and trade, the ban on going out in the open air will continue until at least May. This blatant discrepancy does not respond to any “scientific evidence” (unless it confirms what a philosopher wrote more than thirty years ago, namely that the state “cut down the giant tree of science for the sole purpose of making it into a truncheon). On the one hand you have to produce and consume it; on the other hand, before people can go out you want to have planned how to control it upfront. That’s it. So we must anticipate, if we do not want to suffer, in addition to the “health crisis”, also the economic restructuring that will accompany it. And what more evocative date to resist than April the 25th? We launch an appeal to violate the measures. Following the principle of caution for others and our health. And each according to his or her own willingness. It is not only a question of affirming responsibility against obedience, but of making clear that we do not accept the division between expendable and salvageable; that our lives are not “data to be extracted and analyzed”; that there is no health without mutually supportive relationships with others and with nature on which we depend.

We don’t want to “live with pandemics”, but to end the social organization that creates them.

Notes

[1] Fruttital S.r.l, part of the Fruit and Vegetable Import and Distribution business unit of Orsero S.p.A., is a company based in Italy specializing in the trade of fresh produce from every part of the world at all times of the year. https://www.virtualmarket.fruitlogistica.de/en/Fruttital-S-r-l,c44826

[2] The General Investigations and Special Operations Division (Italian: Divisione Investigazioni Generali e Operazioni Speciali), generally known by its acronym DIGOS, is an Italian law enforcement agency charged with investigating sensitive cases involving terrorism, organized crime and serious offences such as kidnapping and extortion. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divisione_Investigazioni_Generali_e_Operazioni_Speciali


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