1. Unlike the vulgate publicized by the democratic (or state) anti-fascism, the protest which took place on Saturday 9th October in Rome has two aspects that do not coincide: the neo-fascist attack on the headquarters of the CGIL and the large crowd of protesters.
There is no doubt that the attack was ordered in advance. Whether it was so by Forza Nuova alone or not, the crucial thing is that the headquarters of the CGIL were those to be attacked, and not those of Confindustria or those of the government, the two powers that wanted and imposed the “green pass”.
But the political plan that led them in this direction goes far beyond what concerns the pandemic and the opposition to the “green pass”. Forza Nuova, Casa Pound and other groups of the neo-fascist area, each with its own peculiarities, aim to gather support, frame and drive in a reactionary sense those social components (including proletarian ones) that the global crisis in which we find ourselves into has beaten and thrown into disarray, filling them not only with fear of the present and the times to come, but also with resentments towards those who have long since abandoned and betrayed them. The scoundrels who lead these groups label as “betrayers” the CGIL leaders – this sounds very quaint; however that expression is ultimately aimed at discrediting “communism” and the trade unionist organization of the workers themselves as such (although CGIL no longer has anything to do with this), in order to accredit other ideals (theirs) and other forms of “sociality” (popular-national).
Actually, it is not something new for the “fascism of the third millennium” to wrap itself in “social” clothes. Golden Dawn grew up handing out meals to destitute people. In Rome, as in other cities, the forces of the far right have for some time been looking for new recruits in the suburbs and among the dispossessed. It must be acknowledged that it was able to intercept the widespread discontent that the capitalist management of the pandemic and the implementation of the “green pass” created first among restaurateurs and traders, then among certain layers of proletarians. These people’s actions are not those of people taking stabs in the dark. Nor should their international connections be underestimated, since the black International, with its epicenter in the United States in the mighty Trumpian universe, is anything but an ephemeral phenomenon.
2. The attack on the CGIL – the only attack that really took place on Saturday in Rome, for the attacks on parliament and Palazzo Chigi are tall tales – was not carried out by all the people who took part in the demonstration, nor by their majority: it was carried out by an organized minority, very influential in the square. The great majority of the crowd did not march towards (and against) CGIL, but towards downtown Rome, where the palaces of political power are. Did they do it in order to assault them? No. They merely wanted their voices to be heard, as many demonstrators themselves have claimed.
We are talking about a crowd, and not a mass, because its levels of cohesion and organization were very low. This was also true with respect to what happened the very same day in Milan where the procession changed its route several times without a real guide or a real destination. A crowd of individuals or small group of people (whether they be friends, family members, work colleagues, minimal organized circuits), united by the refusal of the “green pass”. Thy are mostly labeled as “No vax” by the regime press. But how come the scarcely-participated No-vax demonstrations have all of a sudden started to attract an ever-growing amount of angry people? Those who have not been blinded by anti-fascism and by the vaccination rhetoric touted by the state, and who are still able to scrutinize the actual events and their dynamics, cannot fail to notice that the protests of the last few weeks mark a partial discontinuity (not only when it comes to numbers, but also with respect to their social and political features) if compared to the mobilizations of a few months ago.
A partial social discontinuity we said, because since Minister of the Interior Lamorgese reassured restaurateurs (on August, 9) with two unequivocal phrases («The shopkeepers are not required to be policemen», «There may be some random checks» (done by the police)), they have disappeared from the demonstrations, and in several cases have protested against subsequent “no green pass” marches. Those who took the street, then, have since mainly been members of the salaried middle classes (teachers, for example), self-employed workers who became to a greater or lesser extent penniless due to the closures, proletarians and wage earners. Then, on Saturday 2 October, for the first time, hundreds of organized dock workers in Trieste took to the streets too, determined (at least so far) to strike indefinitely if the “green pass” is not withdrawn.
Between the “no vax” and “no green pass” squares there is the approval by the Draghi government of the generalized obligation of the pass to go to work. It is no coincidence that in recent weeks the events have increasingly been characterized as “no green pass”. Is it just a crafty camouflage? We do not believe things are like that. The government’s decision was seen as an abuse and an actual blackmail not only by us (who have been denouncing it since the beginning) and by the unvaccinated proletarians (circa 3 million people, by the way). This is proved by the fact that in all major cities groups of workers and proletarians have knocked on the doors of the grassroots trade unions asking for protection from what they perceive as the obligation to pay to go to work, a notice of dismissal or, at the very least, a temporary loss of wages. Nor is it a coincidence that the Trieste dock workers have joined the strike of 11 October (albeit, in our opinion, with a too shallow motive) and there have been workers’ strikes against the “green pass” at Elettrolux in Susegana, at the San Benedetto in Scorzé and elsewhere, all proclaimed by opposition structures in the CGIL or by “grassroots” syndicalism.
This partial change in social composition was also accompanied by a partial change in the political mood. For a few months the “no vax” squares were almost everywhere hegemonized by the considerable and noisy presence of right-wing groups, and they were imbued with a sludge of individualisms, belief in conspiracy theories, irrationalism, etc. We said that those were not our squares, and that they would (and could) not become ours in the future either – and it is absurd to imagine that the resumption of the class movement could pass through such squares. However, in the “no green pass” squares of recent weeks something (without exaggerating) has also changed on the political level, even in Rome, which remains the most favorable square for neo-fascist groups (see the Gandhian-legalistic-constitutional style and contents of the speech made by a police superintender). The growing presence of workers and proletarians in the demonstrations has a weight, but it is not in itself a guarantee of a class orientation, or, at least, a classist orientation. Everything is more fluid and complicated. However, if we are materialists and look at social classes as concrete (and not merely ideal) entities (entities which, it must be remembered, are traversed by contradictions), we cannot be satisfied with dismissing either the “no vax” demonstrations, nor – much less – the “no green pass” ones as mere reactionary hullaballoos, without asking ourselves why they have attracted a certain number of proletarians (a not negligible one in these times, we must add). And, as revolutionary Communists, we must also ask ourselves whether or not we have something to say to them too.
3. It seems to us that the message that came from the deep feeling of the proletarians who spontaneously joined those demonstrations in the recent months is something that concerns us. First of all, because they are in any case members of our class: they are mostly marginalized, worn out, totally disoriented, almost in despair (we will deal with the downgraded petty bourgeois another time). And it also concerns us because the perception spread among them is that something terrible it about to come “from above”, from the “great powers” that govern the world; something radical that will constitute an attack on our lives and our freedom/dignity. Branding such a feeling as reactionary inasmuch as it mixes in an almost indecipherable way with the explanations given by schemers or groups of schemers who go wild in the “no vax” sphere, spitting on it, does not mean to behave as people gifted with a superior class consciousness, the “pure worker conscience” (!?!); it is, on the contrary, the glaring testimony to the incapability of understanding the way in which the historical crisis of the capitalist mode of production and reproduction – that crisis on which they are ready to swear by – actually proceeds. Such an attitude is that of those who nurture an “aristocratic” sense of disgust towards the most crushed proletarians (those who are often even lacking on the cultural level), which is suitable for an aristocracy. A petty-bourgeois aristocracy, or even a tout-court bourgeois one, one like that of «Manifesto» whose headlines the day after the protest read: «Marci su Roma»2. So, we are faced with 30 thousand rotten people, or as many as there were… The healthy ones in Rome, on the contrary, would be the Landini & Co. who are in bed with Mattarella, Draghi, Pd, Confindustria, Forza Italia, Giorgetti’s Lega (and why exclude Salvini?, it would be rude), 5 Stelle, Calenda, Renzi and … Fratelli d’Italia, with whom many sem to be ready to set up a large, very large “anti-fascist” front, including the repainted ex-fascists – as long as a handful of their shitty batterers are outlawed. The united front of capitalists and bourgeois parties, hand in hand with the “representatives” of the working class and the wage-earners (a representation which is becoming less and less relevant, by the way) working as watchmen of the workers in the name of the supreme danger coming from neo-fascists. It is strange to see how many on the extreme left have rushed to say they are ready for an “anti-fascist” front which is of an anti-worker nature in all respects, which would provide support to that “national pacification” plan, to that “national unity” project of which the Draghi government is an expression, and to which even Salvini is now appealing.
The assault on the CGIL headquarters was used by state institutions in the context of their crisis of credibility (just think of the level of abstention in the last elections), to present themselves as the indispensable guarantors (in addition to health) of social peace and legality, with the immediate arrest of some of the ringleaders on Saturday 9. Those same ringleaders who were left free to organize, act, strike how and when they wanted (on the 9th they were almost escorted by the police and Carabinieri). Yet, it is precisely to the Draghi government and the leaders of Fratelli d’Italia that Landini’s CGIL has opened its doors, as if they were the paladins of the working class, instead of its sworn enemies. The fascist attack thus became another opportunity for them to join forces with that same government that the strikes of 11 and 15 October rightly targeted together with Confindustria. And it goes without saying that if pressure will ever be put on Forza Nuova and other neo-fascist groups, at least twice that amount will be put on the “far left extremists”.
5. After what happened in Rome, we now have a double task: on the one hand we have to address the workers of the CGIL, while on the other we must address the workers who were catalyzed by the “no green pass” squares, and we must do so with a single, unitary, recognizable class message, capable of standing out in the frightening confusion of the present – a confusion that does not belong only to the proletarians of the “no green pass” squares, but to the whole class (with a tiny number of exceptions).
To the former we say: we are fully in solidarity with you, who were the target of the fascist attack; an attack which targets us too. We are convinced that we must wage a fight against neo-fascists, but at the same time we cannot be in solidarity with the bureaucracy that traps you and is leading you to the slaughterhouse. A bureaucracy that, by exaggerating the force and the danger of neo-fascism, leads you to submit to an increasingly despotic democratic regime, led by sophisticated disciples of the old, “crude” fascism. “We defeated fascism”, says Landini; but he forgets to mention that it was precisely the pacification pact between the then-Landinis of one century ago which opened the doors to the fascism on the rise and its democratic instigators1. Today there is not a new fascism at the door. Confindustria is in power today, speaking and acting like the old owners of the ironworks, and the ongoing democratic authoritarianism is no less subservient then fascism had been when it comes to the exploitation of labor represented by the Draghi government, racist, colonialist and warmongering. If we do not face head-on these great enemy powers that take our life and breath away every day, and even take them for allies, what is the use of a protest against their neo-fascist minions? If the sturdier and (in some way) more organized part of the class does not take on the great social malaise experienced by an increasing number of proletarian and wage-earners whose lives are thrown around without respite here and there, it gifts neo-fascist groups with a huge field of action in which to sow their own flowers of evil. So yes, we do support the common anti-fascist battle, but it must be carried out according to a classist perspective.
To the workers catalyzed by the “no green pass” squares we can say, instead: we too, who believe vaccines are useful, if only to counter the most serious effects of the virus, have been against the “green pass” from the first moment, as it is a weapon placed in the hands of the employers to divide and repress the proletarians, and it is also dangerous from a health point of view. And yet we frame this struggle in a more general fight against the “virus of viruses”, which is capitalism. The attack we are undergoing from governments and bosses is carried out via despotic and discriminatory measures such as the “green pass”, but at the same time it is implemented by way of precariousness, exploitation and humiliations in the workplace, wages that lose purchasing power, the wars that are brewing, racism and sexism with which they poison us, etc. – how come the leaders of your rallies are careful not to talk about all this? We too see cataclysms coming, but for us they do not derive from obscure plots of the great global powers: they derive from the historical decline of this social system, that is increasingly shrouded in destructive chaos. It is not, therefore, a question of saving ourselves from occult manipulations. The sequence of viruses the planet is going through is not something imaginary, but until now it had hit only Asia and Africa hard (get informed!); nor it escaped the laboratory of some Dr. Strangelove: it is merely one of the inevitable results of environmental devastation. So, if we want to save ourselves from the growing chaos and the series of capitalist catastrophes to come, the battle to be waged is all-encompassing – we certainly cannot limit ourselves to oppose certain medicines (whether it be right or wrong) to exalt others.
The battle does not scare us, much less the real attack on national and global sanctuaries of power – on Monday 11 October, to give just one example, we were in Piacenza, blockading the warehouse of the most powerful multinational in the world, Amazon! But we want to fight for ourselves: a real battle, without demagogic tricks, for the liberation of all the oppressed and the exploited, to really take back life, freedom, dignity, happiness, and to conquer a future in which to be all free and equal beings. And this is possible only by expropriating and eradicating from the face of the earth the social system that prevents us from enjoying it: capitalism.
The thousands of proletarians and comrades who animated the strike of 11 October on the thrust of the logistics struggles (struggles pivoting on the immigrant proletarians of SI Cobas and the Assembly of combative workers, the only pole of class opposition existing today) are those called to face these difficult tasks.
October, 14, 2021 – Internationalist Revolutionay Tendency
1 The reference here is to the “Pacification Pact” concluded in August 1921 between Fascists and Socialists.
2 The headline cannot be translated, for it is a play on words between the Italian adjective “marci” (“rotten”, with reference to people who are not vaccine and, therefore, supposedly spreaders of the illness) and the substantive “marcia” (“march”, with reference to the 1922 March on Rome – in Italian “Marcia su Roma” – by the fascists).