Italy

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,...

International struggles

In Italy, workers’ stoppages of production in major factories, Arcelor Mittal, Fiat-Chrysler, Fincantieri, Maserati, Yamaha, Ducati, among others, about inadequate safeguards against infection within factories, pushed three trade union confederations — CGIL, CISL, and UIL — to get a joint protocol with government and employers on 14 March about minimum standards. The agreement has been criticised by grassroots activists as too soft. — Francesco Pontarelli on Global Labour Column Amazon in France After French Amazon workers threaten to use the equivalent in French law of Section 44 of the...

Italy: where did the 37 billion euros go?

As the coronavirus tightens its deadly grip across the country, Italy's media has documented on a daily basis the wretched state of the country's public health system - the shortage of beds, of medical and paramedical personnel, of ventilators, of laboratories, of tampons - of everything! The high rate of death before arriving in intensive care is a reflection of this state of affairs - like the chance discovery in Bergamo of 1800 seriously ill people at home utterly beyond the radius of any personal or institutional detection. All this is the product of what has been inflicted upon the...

Marxists and “left governments”

“We are not a government party; we are the party of irreconcilable opposition… Our tasks... we realise not through the medium of bourgeois governments... but exclusively through the education of the masses through agitation, through explaining to the workers what they should defend and what they should overthrow. Such a “defence” cannot give immediate miraculous results. But we do not even pretend to be miracle workers. As things stand, we are a revolutionary minority. Our work must be directed so that the workers on whom we have influence should correctly appraise events, not permit...

Salvini down, but Meloni up

The outcome of Italy’s regional elections on Sunday 26 January in Calabria and Emilia Romagna was markedly contradictory. In Calabria the combined forces of the reactionary bloc of the country’s CentreRight, capitalising on the freefall of the Five Star Movement since it became Italy’s leading party in the March 2018 election, romped almost casually to victory. It defeated a candidate of the centre-left bloc, led by the Partito Democratico, an outfit, like its opponents, long mired in the deadeyed exercise of cynically serving the needs of the rich, powerful, and criminally corrupt of the...

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