“The old dies and the new cannot manage to see day. In the interim a large diversity of morbid symptoms surges forth” (Antonio Gramsci)
The latest data on the state of Italy’s economy puts it in second place behind Greece for the level of absolute and relative poverty, with half of its population on €1,000 a month or less and nearly 45% of young people without work.
The victory this weekend of the Blairite mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, in the election for leader of the centre-left Democratic Party only added salt to the wounds. Renzi is a vile opportunist and enthusiastic cheerleader for his party’s role in the current government coalition.
Meanwhile, just up the road in the city of Prato, funerals had taken place just a few days before for eight Chinese workers, burnt alive in one of the tiny textile “factories”. Thousands of workers are enslaved, on €1 an hour for 15 hours a day, imprisoned overnight behind locked doors and barred windows, almost inviting the tragedy.
The kneejerk language of the whole malignant Italian establishment, as we saw at Lampedusa, is to talk solely of “legality”. This includes, criminally, the trade union leaders, who are fully aware of the reality, but who, like the rest of the hypocritical chorus, are equally complicit in the maintenance of the rule of profit — the only “law” that matters to the opulent fashion houses of Milan and Rome, for whom these murderous practises are carried out.
Meanwhile, the “pitchfork protests” launched by farmers and small businessmen in Sicily have spread nationwide, causing huge disruption in many towns. In many places they have been met with severe police repression, but riot police in Torino took off their helmets to join demonstrators.
Despite general anti-government, anti-austerity rhetoric, the protests currently have a right-wing populist character.