Italy

Angelo Del Boca, the honest historian of Italian colonialism

On 6 July, Angelo Del Boca, the most honest and fearless historian of Italian colonialism and its crimes, died aged 96. He was a lifelong socialist, a former partisan fighter and journalist. As a historian, his work was concentrated on the demolition of the presumed “humane and generous” character of Italy”s imperialist adventures. He was rewarded by the open and fierce hostility not just of the country”s reactionary Right but also of the intellectual and historiographical currents of social-democrats and Stalinists for ever in the search for a “progressive” patrimony. The myth of the Italians...

Truck kills picket in Italy

Adil Belakhdim, coordinator of the SI Cobas union in Novara, Lombardy, Italy, and a member of the union’s national coordinating body, has been killed. He was hit by a truck driven into a picket line during the national logistics strike on 18 June. SI Cobas says: “It was not an accident — Adil was killed in the name of profit.” It says that the “murder is in fact the culmination of an escalation of organized violence against SI Cobas, which has been ongoing for months and is now without limits”. It cites many other incidents in recent months, arguing that they are “part of a single design under...

Italian FedEx striker beaten by bosses' thugs

A courier for FedEx in Northern Italy, Abdelhamid Elazab, has been in a coma in hospital after being beaten around the head with a broken pallet by thugs brought in to attack protesting workers on 11 June. Nine other FedEx workers from Piacenza were injured less seriously. The report from the workers’ trade union SI Cobas says they were attacked by men from Zampieri Holdings, the shipping company at whose warehouses in Lodi, thirty miles from Piacenza, the protest took place. The union calls Zampieri a “mafia organisation” and the “armed hand” of FedEx. It says the police stood by and allowed...

Life-saving branded a crime

Dozens of activists from NGOs including Save the Children and Médecins Sans Frontières are facing up to 20 years in prison in Italy on “human trafficking” charges after they saved thousands in the Mediterranean. Italian prosecutors claim that rescue ships arranged direct transfer of refugees from smugglers before returning the boats for further use. “Saving lives is never a crime…,” Francesca Cancellaro, lawyer for the crew of the Iuventa (a former fishing vessel, operated by a German NGO), told the Guardian. “While the EU turned away from the Mediterranean, transforming it into a mass grave...

Inequality kills

This virus threatens the worse-off much more than the rich. Neither the scientists nor we know exactly how to combat the virus in general terms, but we do know what can and must be done to shield the worse-off. In some countries, the first cases of Covid-19 were among better-off people who’d travelled as tourists to early-affected countries. But everywhere, as the pandemic proceeds, the worst-off are hit hardest. The virus hits elderly people, or those with other health problems, much more than the young and otherwise healthy, and men somewhat more than women. But rich elderly men are doing ok...

Italy: the bankruptcy of our rulers and the necessity of a new order

For the last 30 years or so we have heard little from those in power but the virtues and the inevitability of capitalism. Today we are witnessing in the face of the ever-spreading coronavirus epidemic a failure so total that literally it manifests itself in the lives of everyone on this earth. The scale of the virus"s effects where no country is immune liquidates distance or lines of combat, metaphorical or otherwise. Emblematic is the idea of Security! Bandied about by every political rogue and racist charlatan against immigrants, poisoning the mind and sowing division among workers, with the...

Requisition and workers' control to get tests and PPE

In the Thursday 8pm “clapping for the NHS” on 2 April 2020, many people chanted “Test! Test! Test! PPE!” Health workers are pressing the government on its failure to meet its promises to expand testing hugely, to make PPE [Personal Protective Equipment] available to all, and to agree adequate PPE guidelines for health workers. So, even, are NHS bosses. NHS Providers, a confederation of NHS hospital, mental health, community, and ambulance trusts, said on 3 April: “There are still trusts that are unable to begin testing, and lack of swabs, reagents and test kits is a continuing concern”. They...

Strikes in Italy win shutdowns

Cinzia Arruzza, co-author of Feminism for the 99%: A Manifesto, spoke on 26 March about Covid-19 and workers’ struggles in Italy. It was an online meeting organised by the “Workforce Coronavirus Support Group”, Manchester Trades Council, and Reel News. For Arruzza's full speech, on YouTube, see here. Extracts below. To keep things short, the Italian government didn’t take measures to suppress the virus in the way that China and South Korea did. When they were finally forced to call for a lockdown, first of Lombardy and two days later the whole of Italy, it stopped shops, schools and public...

Work or full pay!

As of 1 April, 950,000 new people had applied for Universal Credit in just two weeks. Usually new applications run at about 100,000 a week. Hundreds of thousands, or millions, of people have lost their jobs because they were on casual contracts, and because they worked for businesses which have laid them off or simply shut down. Many small employers have laid off workers, but also big ones, like universities. Many who are self-employed — really self-employed, or formally self-employed while really being wage-workers — are not able to use the government’s scheme for aid to the self-employed, or...

Hunger in Italy

According to the mainstream Italian daily Corriere della Sera (30 March): “There is an increasing risk that a social powder keg will be created in the South [of Italy]. “In Campania, as in Sicily, episodes of night thefts or small assaults in supermarkets are multiplying...” Police have now been stationed outside supermarkets in some areas. In Naples, an exhibition hall has been converted to a food aid centre. On 31 March the city of Palermo set up an online facility to register for food aid, and it was quickly flooded. In Italy’s South, many people have depended on insecure jobs, petty trade...

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