Reflections on the G8 mobilisations

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In response to the calls for ‘permanent mobilisation’ in Italian universities from September 2008, students from the anomalous wave movement were clearly one of the main forces behind organised resistance to the G8. The baton-charging and beating of students, confrontation with armed fascist groups on national demos earlier this year, and the arrest of 21 compagni at the G8 University Summit held in Turin in May, have not managed to silence the students’ French-inspired calls to occupy the university and block the city.

Together with compagni who helped and run autonomous social centres in Rome (CSOA), Roman students opened a convergence space, occupying the old architecture faculty of the ROMA 3 university. They squatted two other buildings which will be used as autonomous student housing for over 100 students and made La Sapienza university in Rome a central point of convergence for meetings and demos. Students were also one of the most visible and vocal presences on demos and blockades, and in showing solidarity with those arrested during the summit, primarily outside the Roman jail Regina Coeli on 8th July, where 5 of the 36 people arrested and detained were being held.

A dominant movement which appeared both within and alongside the anomalous wave at the G8 was the anti-fascist resistance to the proposed ‘security’ package, a bill whose provisions reflect the Italian government’s racist and fascistic response to the global economic crisis. This bill will see the emergence of citizen patrols, vigilante groups, new agents of privatised ‘public security’ also constituted by political groups like the anti-immigrant Northern League. It will criminalise immigration, remove access to public funds for immigrants and penalise doctors and landlords who fail to report ‘illegal’ immigrants to authorities, as well as tripling the time of detention of immigrants to 6 months.

The people who have been rising up against the ‘security’ bill these past 6 months, brought the G8 resistance to the Ponte Galeria detention centre. On 9th July, over 1000 people gathered outside the detention centre in solidarity with immigrants being held there – in response to the xenophobic security and border regime embodied by detention centres and to the brutality of the police forces and the Red Cross who run Ponte Galeria.

The links between corporations, the Berlusconi government and the extent of the damages caused by the earthquake in L’Aquila are very clear. The Italian prime minister’s career is closely connected to a notoriously corrupt Italian construction industry, which has seen the Impregilo company take on contracts for post-earthquake reconstructions, for the construction of the controversial Italian high speed train tunnel, as well as acquire shares in planned constructions of aluminium power stations, nuclear power plants and dam projects around the world.

Impreglio had constructed many of the collapsed buildings in L’Aquila, using concrete mixed with sea sand and causing the steel reinforcements to quickly corrode. This led many houses, a large hospital and other public buildings to collapse instantly. Impregilo’s monopoly on Italian major public works was greatly strengthened by Berlusconi’s election in 2001 and the company will be realizing one of Berlusconi’s billion-euro election promises to build a bridge between Sicily and the mainland.

Although the involvement of trade unions and political parties, as well as the idea of mobilising in post-earthquake territory, made many hesitant to go to L’Aquila, the militarisation of the town and resistance to militarisation generally was a huge focus of the politics behind G8 mobilisations. This year has seen increased militarisation of Italian cities, with the rise in numbers of soldiers patrolling the streets to ‘boost security and fight crime’ and, more recently, we’ve witnessed the incursion of the American military in Italy who are expanding their military bases to Dal Molin near Vicenza in the north. In L’Aquila, 30,000 people are living in precarious and militarised post-earthquake camps and experiencing regular harassment by the police who are restricting people’s movement within the city. Police forces are refusing to investigate the deaths of migrants in the city and trying to block the work of groups such as Epicentro Solidale in the region. On the 10th July, 10,000 people took part in a national demo which started in Paganica, a suburb of the city, and ended in the city centre three hours later. Co-ordinators of the demo had called for peaceful protests and there was a clear dominance of COBAS trade union groups, whose pact with the government had given protesters ‘access’ to L’Aquila.

In view of the smaller-scale resistance to this year’s G8, we need to go beyond simply stating that there are no more anti-summit movements and clashes. Instead, we need to ask what has changed in the 8 years between Genoa and L’Aquila. We also need to analyse the re-birth of neo-fascism and increased state repression in Italy. In Rome, historically a fascist stronghold, last year saw a street-fighting youth leader of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement (MSI) win the mayoral election with 54% of the vote. Anarchist autonomous social centres (CSOA) have witnessed the rise of social fascism which is recruiting hundreds of young people every month (see www.casapound.org/). We’ve seen increased fascist attacks on anarchist autonomous spaces, on Roma and traveller camps, in the streets. Fascism is alive and well in these times of recession. We need to understand its social bases, its rhetoric and know if and how it has changed in the last 10 years. Only then can we attack it, and capitalism, effectively and resist being weakened by it politically.

For info on specific demos, blockades and other actions in Rome, L’Aquila and around the country go to g8.italy.indymedia.org and gipfelsoli.org/Home/L_Aquila_2009/G8_2009_english.

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