What started a few days ago with the conflicts in Naples against the new decrees of the regional government, which ordered a renewed curfew and the closure of restaurants and small stores, has spread over large parts of Italy within a few days. On Tuesday evening there were already protests in over 30 Italian cities, looting and riots in Turin, street fighting in Milan. This spontaneous movement is full of contradictions, both in its orientation and in its composition, how could it be any different in these times. In Naples, there was a diffuse mobilization of residents and small business owners on one side, and on the other, a mobilization of leftists and grassroots unionists who fought with the cops. The next day there was a mobilization of the fascists in Rome, but apart from fireworks they did not succeed in doing much.
The homogeneity of this revolt immediately and unmistakably recalls the beginnings of the Gilets Jaunes movement, in which fascist groups were initially also present until they were beaten out of the movement in sometimes fierce battles. And the reaction in the media and among the established left now is similar. From “petty bourgeois, Camorra to fascist Hools” everything can be found in the media reports and statements. Simplifications and denunciations of a contradictory process to try to nip the movement in the bud, because it will be a hard autumn and winter. One way or another.
Everything analytical has been said in recent years about the current social conflictuality; the Corona state of emergency bundles class clashes like a burning glass; outside Europe, the revolts have long since reached the level of the rebellious 2019, not to mention the months of unrest in the United States. Now then, Europe, at night the revolt jumped over, in Barcelona hundreds of young people erected barricades, attacked the cops, perhaps the agony, the staring at the daily numbers and curves has come to an end. Perhaps the thought is spreading that there must be more than the naked life, as Agamben would say. A translation of a text by comrades from Turin.
Turin: The Big Rage
During last night, a level of mobilization and conflict spread across the boot that had not been seen for some time.
From Milan to Naples, from Turin to Trieste, from Cosenza to Terni, thousands of people took to the streets in response to the new decree of the Prime Minister. Very heterogeneous spaces full of contradictions, which gave the impression that a cork had burst, that a mediation had deteriorated. Mediation consisted of accepting the imposition of the first lockdown on a higher good, namely the collective health of society. Rightly depriving oneself of a part of individual freedoms (and also a significant part of one’s income) in order to defend one’s own health and that of others. This mediation continued until the appearance of the second wave, and suddenly it turned out (despite the various signs) that nothing had changed since this lockdown. This “nothing will ever be the same again”, which was shown on television and in the newspapers for months, was actually a lie. Everything remained the same, the only interests that were protected were those of Confindustria, while little and nothing was done for the unemployed, the workers, the people fighting on the front lines in the hospitals and many other groups who saw their economic and social situation deteriorate in the crisis. In this gap, in this “nothing went well”, a great fury full of contradictions and ambiguities has matured.
This rage exploded like a pressure cooker from which no steam was released. The lack of income support, of adequate protection during the crisis was the trigger.
In Turin there were two places that expressed this rage in different ways. On the one side, Piazza Vittorio, where merchants and restaurateurs were concentrated, and on the other, Piazza Castello, where a much more mixed composition was found: ultras, young metropolitan proletarians from the suburbs, second-generation migrants, employees in the restaurant and entertainment industry.
Ten minutes before the start of the official gathering in Piazza Castello, the first clashes were already taking place. The police intervene with a hard hand just before the first fireworks and smoke bombs. Attack against the demonstrators towards Via Roma and Via Cernaia. An area where the clashes will last for hours and increase in intensity and determination. If the actions of the opposite side, under the confused leadership of the Questura (1), initially targeted this region, the clashes subsequently spread and concentrated against the police and carabinieri cordons, against the shop windows of the streets of struscio.
In the meantime, after a few moments of tension in Piazza Vittorio, which is completely sealed off by the police, the long gathering of merchants and restaurateurs begins. The interventions are diverse, but many insist on the “freedom to work”. Here the interests are clearer and more homogeneous, the speeches that are most common are those of small businesses in need. Apart from rare interventions that put the problem on another level, such as an open criticism of neo-liberalism, others identify the Conte government as a counterpart and follow the dynamics of shopkeepers, who can hardly speak for those who are less close to the majority in the square. The switch between the two squares is constant, those who, in order to escape the tear gas, take part in the rally in Piazza Vittorio, those who, out of boredom or curiosity, pass by in the other square.
One has the impression that the two social events take place partially independently of each other, that the political body of the demonstration stands in Piazza Vittorio, the one that has clearly formulated its goals, its class position and its collective claims, while in Piazza Castello there is a more “magical” composition that, without the appropriate words, varies the obvious descriptions of facts, expresses its anger, makes it become a political fact. The words are thus borrowed from the others, from the few that exist.
Young people from the suburbs, restaurateurs who took to the streets in aprons, unemployed people and Ultras who interpret the space opened up by the merchants as a moment of opportunity to express their anger, pure and simple, without differentiation, because what concerns the public, who speaks, who says what, who enters the stage and steps in front of the cameras, is materialized here on this other square.
The strong message of the young people of Piazza Castello is better expressed in the image of Gucci’s shop window shared on social media, in the reversal of realization in consumption, in the appropriation of wealth. In this small sequence, the unconscious contrast between the interests of the different compositions, which are in the same places but do not march together, is manifested.
This is the alliance of these times, an alliance between enemies, but a rupture has not yet matured, because other options, other possibilities that really capture this readiness for conflict, do not yet exist, which give those who live in sixty square meters with five of them credible perspectives of opposition, with a salary if things go well. The alliance between the “precarious” and the middle class, which has invested in itself and is now suffering. On the other side, there is big business, Confindustria (2), there is big business which, if it is to continue to prosper, must deprive both the former and the latter of opportunities. Passive still at the window is the upper part of the class, those proletarians who still have the “chance” to hope that the earthquake on the horizon will not be so terrible, but who in recent months have shown the first faint signs of impatience. So what is to be done in this context?
We do not have specific answers, we know very well that in order to find them, one must live the reality that lies before us, know its contradictions and think of ways to materially disrupt the current structures and contexts, in the perspective that the more general phase that we are going through, that of a pandemic that will bring to light all the violence of this system that puts health against the possibility of income, will better clarify the next steps.
1 Police Headquarters
2 Italian Business Association.
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