The horrific act of fascist violence on the 3 February in the central Italian town of Macerata, where eight young west Africans were gunned down by a neo-fascist thug, has highlighted the level of putrefying decadence of the major political contenders for office.
All of them, from the inveterate xenophobes and the racist (northern) Lega, to the now-not-so-populist 5 Star Movement, through to the resurrected corpse of Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and rounded off by the Renzi-led Democratic Party of government, instinctively chorused that the answer to the ever-more palpable violent presence of neo-fascist action against immigrants was to get rid of the immigrants once and for all.
“No more invasions”; “close down all mosques”; “deport all of them”; “end all benefits and asylum centres” were just some of the utterances of the centre -right leaders. Meanwhile the organs of the liberal centre-left government cynically echoed the Minister of Interior Minniti (author of the deal with the Libyans to seal off the Mediterranean and “aid the refugees” by consigning them to the inferno of that country’s concentration camps) saying that “defence of public order” was now the priority, applauding his decision to ban a anti-fascist, anti-racist march in Macerata planned for 10 February.
Predictably, his ruling was supported by the leaders of the CGIL trade union and the leaders of the anti-fascist partisan/cultural organisation. Minniti and his cronies in government and the union bureaucrats were scared that any serious mass mobilisation of trade union and working class anti-fascist action in defence of the immigrants would endanger hoped-for electoral support for Minnitis anti-immigrant “hardman” stance. They also feared that the hypocritical genuflections of the governing classes before the country’s constitutional and legal “anti-fascism” would be exposed — and not just for its utter impotence, but for its role as an ideological and political weapon aimed to prevent any serious independent anti-fascist mass organisation emerging in the heart of a working class movement.
The origins and growth of fascism are fed by a widespread anger at, and desperation before, an oppressive social order. And responsibility for it lies with those championing that order.
However, in defiance of the Minniti ruling, more than 20,000 (from a town of 45,000) marched behind a massive anti-fascist, anti-racist banner on 10 February. The majority identified with political and social forces on the left and hostile to the Democratic Party (with a strong showing for the pro-migrant base unions), though many of the rank-and-file Fiom and CGIL workers present still clung to illusions that Renzi’s defeat in next week’s elections will see the party restored to he “left” — currently decamped in Liberty and Equality, a stitch-up got together by the magistrate Grasso (once a part of the “Tangentopoli” scandal), now president of the Senate, and ex-Stalinist Bersani.
Reference was made to what had happened a week before in Genoa, where after another fascist attack, thousands of local anti-fascists gathered all day to address the need to go beyond symbolic gestures of protest, and forge a common political programme and perspective of working-class struggle, not only against fascists but the policies of reaction everywhere in the city, beginning at the top with its PD-led council.
The 5,000-strong march through the city, behind a banner which in declaring opposition to fascism, racism and the rightwing parties including the PD, proved too much for some of the trade union militants of CGIL/Fiom. Clearly, as at Macerata a week later, this was another pointer to the enormous political tasks ahead for the profoundly divided Italian socialist and working class movement — where the governmental crisis is about to enter a further stage of sharpening and deepening social conflicts.
The election, whatever permutation of individuals and forces it produces, looks set to create a favourable context for continued far-right resurgence.