[en] Class struggle, whispered the spectre. A miniseries in two episodes / 1

This post was originally published on Giap.

“We all have a friend, a lover, a relative, a neighbour, or a colleague who was unequivocally left-wing until a few years ago, but who has recently begun reading weird blogs, following perplexing Facebook pages, quoting certified bullshitters as if they were independent maîtres à penser, and echoing Matteo Salvini’s ideas—with a communist twist…”
A spectre flies us to the places of class struggle, where you can see that certain “Marxist” arguments against immigration not only aren’t Marxist at all, but are also a scam against workers. Against all workers, immigrant as well as local.

by Mauro Vanetti

editing: Camillo A. Formigatti, Roberto Amabile

translation: Antonio Scendrate, Ayan Meer, Camillo A. Formigatti, Claudio Mirabella, Daniele Contardo, Davide Tessitore, Filippo Ortona, Giovanni Vimercati, Marcello Bernardara, Mauro Vanetti, Niccolò Barca, Roberto Amabile, Simone Rossi, Stefania D’Urso, Tomaso Perani, Valerio De Sanctis

Contents of the first episode

1. First night
2. Those like Diego
3. Marx and the Reserve Army of Labour
4. Second night
5. Marx the do-gooder
È importante frequentare i kebabbari, soprattutto di sera

1. First night

A spectre haunted the closing kebab shop. He was drunk and singing in French.
Three half-asleep students and a couple of Tunisians were watching him, intrigued; the Arabs recognised the bawdy song’s lyrics and laughed.
He ordered a kebab wrap to soak up his Barolo.
“With everything,” the man replied, shaggy-bearded and olive-skinned like a Saracen.
After devouring his nightly meal voraciously, he came back to his senses. He saw the name on the street sign and grinned: he had just had an idea for one of his tricks.

Prima apparizione dello spettro

Diego sensed a cold finger hovering over his forehead and suddenly woke up, aghast at this unreal feeling. He opened his eyes and saw the translucent shape of an old man peering at him in the darkness, with lively eyes flashing under thick eyebrows.
“Boo,” said the phantom placidly, sitting beside the bed with his legs crossed.
Diego trembled and screamed, and fell onto the floor, scrambling towards a corner of the room.
“Gadzooks,” he babbled at last with a feeble voice. “Are you the Ghost of Christmas Past?”
“Oh please. I do look a bit like Santa but I’m definitely not. If I get to pick a holiday, I’m the ghost of May Day. Actually, I’m the spectre of Karl Marx.”
“Maestro!” Diego exclaimed, while falling on his knees at the ectoplasm’s feet.
“Maestro my arse. You don’t know a thing. I’m back because I need to show you something. Get back to bed, we’re going to fly.”

Diego complied without a word, still amazed by the supernatural turn of events. The spirit walked on the sheets in a very dignified way and took command, sarcastically eyeing the pastel-coloured pyjamas of his passenger. As Marx snapped his fingers, the room and the whole house disappeared, leaving only the bed floating among the stars. It started an impossible flight through space and time, at the end of which the sun had already dawned for a long time, one hundred yards below them, over the Apulian countryside.

Assemblea a Nardò

“It’s 2011, it’s August and we are in Nardò, in the province of Lecce,” said Marx. “Look at what’s happening at that farm.”
Dozens of Africans had gathered at the entrance to a short and squarish building covered in pink and grey plaster, sun-burnt and weathered, with a flat roof like a Mexican pueblo. Makeshift tents were all over the place and a banner was hanging from the façade. Some Africans were loitering and lolling around the area, others were debating excitedly. As the flying bed approached and finally landed amidst the branches of a tall maritime pine, Diego noticed that almost all of them were smiling with a look of self-satisfaction.
“Scrounging refugees?” Diego asked, rubbing his eyes.
“No,” said Marx, grabbing the young man by the ear and dragging him. “Look more closely: striking farm labourers.”

An Italian man with a megaphone announced that the protest had reached its third consecutive day of strike in the tomato fields and expressed solidarity with the protest’s leader, a student from Cameroon who had been the object of mafia-style threats. A Ghanaian took the floor straight after him, explaining the demands: extra wages whenever the tomatoes have to be divided by size, a stop to undeclared labour, improved health and security standards, direct negotiation between bosses and workers, together with labour unions and an employment office of some sort but without any mediation role for the gangmasters. Then another one spoke, explaining in broken Italian that something also had to be done about a serious problem the immigrant workers were facing: the gangmasters withheld their documents in order to blackmail them, leaving them just with copies. He said that without documents and with that skin colour they were constantly at risk, as the police could easily give them hell; this was definitely another thing worth fighting for.

Class struggle,” whispered the spectre, spellbound.

2. Those like Diego


We all have a friend, a lover, a relative, a neighbour, or a colleague who was unequivocally left-wing until a few years ago, but who has recently begun reading weird blogs, following perplexing Facebook pages, quoting certified bullshitters as if they were independent maîtres à penser, and echoing Matteo Salvini’s ideas—with a communist twist. Sometimes we are that person. And the subject on which so many of us have slipped is always the same: immigration.

Let’s analyse a typical conversation that could take place with this acquaintance of ours, whom we’ll call “Diego” now – for simplicity’s sake.

In general, the first thing Diego would do is shun racism, and profess his hatred for fascists and the Lega. To prove to us that he’s a bona fide comrade, he may even sing Bandiera Rossa without missing a beat, and list every time he voted like us, or went to a squatted social centre with us, or even marched in protest at our side. Mind you, he has not become a fascist.

However, he’s realised that “it’s our fault” if the right is rising. He says it exactly like this, emphatically stressing “our”—because he’s been mired in it until recently. Indeed, he goes on, the Left and comrades have ended up countering xenophobia with “do-gooder” and “no border” ideas that mirror those of Big Business. According to Diego, bosses need cheap foreign labour and hence they heartily support immigration.

Generally, a bit of bickering would ensue. But Diego tries to end it with what he thinks is the ace up his sleeve: “Even Karl Marx,” exclaims Diego, “explained that immigrants are the reserve army of labour!”

According to Diego, the reserve army of labour is made up of desperate workers uprooted from their homeland, used by employers to keep wages low. If the conversation is happening online, Diego will send us a link to one of these weird blogs he’s often browsing nowadays, where some of Marx’s quotes are thrown about to prove that going after migrants is helpful in order to defend the proletariat. If we’re talking in person, he’ll send us the link anyway, to make sure we read it later. Those like Diego love proselytising about what opened their eyes and led them beyond the “immigrationist” clichés bandied around by the globalist and radical-chic Left.

Sono antirazzista ma

The name of this Facebook page is “Leftist and anti-racist, but against the foreign invasion.” I am not racist, BUT…

This article aims at debunking two false beliefs: that “real Marxists of yesteryear” justifies hostility toward migrants, and that anti-immigration policies benefit the class struggle.

Some may say these are merely marginal opinions, associated with a fringe of irrelevant provocateurs—no-one important manipulates Marx to support Salvini!

Alas, this is not true. Here’s the introduction to Salvini’s electoral manifesto for the Lega leadership:Primarie della Lega, 2017

Candidate Matteo Salvini’s Programme for the Federal Secretariat of the “Northern League for the Independence of Padania” (Spring 2017 and yes, that is the party’s official name! We mean, half the party’s name, the other one for voters in the South is called the “League for Premier Salvini”). In 2018, Salvini was appointed Minister of the Interior.

The highlighted sentence, “Low-cost labour derived from uncontrolled migration provides ‘the reserve army of labour’” is a fake quotation from Marx’s Capital.

3. Marx and the Reserve Army of Labour

Let’s start from this wretched reserve army of labour. Karl Marx talks about it extensively in chapter 25, section VII, book I of Das Kapital. The reserve army of labour is made up of unemployed people.

In Marx’s time, there were many simplistic beliefs according to which unemployment was due to the workers having too many children. The most notorious and brutal manifestation of this idea is Malthus’s theory of overpopulation, which described poverty as a natural consequence of the excessive fertility of the working classes. Since Italian workers nowadays have few children, today’s Malthusians, like our Diego, came out with a new — even duller — explanation: poverty in Europe is a consequence of the excessive fertility of Africans.

Marx, on the other hand, came up with a more sophisticated idea: it is capital accumulation itself, in the context of a market economy, that automatically creates a relative overpopulation, that is, a certain amount of workforce available for production but kept at rest. This relative overpopulation (that is, the unemployed and first-time job seekers) eventually becomes nothing less than a “reserve” within the proletarian “army” used by the companies. Just like the reserve of an actual army, this reserve army of labour can be mobilised whenever the need arises – which occurs regularly, as capitalism has a cyclical trend (expansion – crisis – recovery) and continuously revolutionises its production techniques by design, moving the workforce between different production sectors or towards newly-introduced sectors. If capitalism waited for new workers to be born and to reach working age every time it needed new recruits, it would crumble into ruin: so it has to enrol them as soon as possible, just as it must be able to get rid of most excess workers should the need arise.

Marx’s idea that a natural rate of unemployment exists in capitalism with no relation to demographics has meanwhile become mainstream, and even bourgeois economists now refer to natural unemployment and cyclical unemployment.

Leggerlo prima di citarlo mentula canis

According to Marx, the reserve army of labour has three components: floating, stagnant and latent:

■ Floating [labour] overpopulation consists of dismissed: expelled from production, they try to re-enter it another way or sometimes, Marx says, they will emigrate. In Marx’s time youth unemployment was not a serious issue, so he mainly thought of adult workers as being replaced by young or even child workers; nowadays, we would include in this subcategory many unemployed young people who are looking for their first job.

■ Stagnant overpopulation consists of temps: well yes, contrary to what you might think, temporary employment also existed in Marx and Engels’ time. From the under- and partially employed, capital draws new full-time workers whenever it needs to increase its standing workforce.

■ Latent overpopulation is made up of rural population in a process of migrating to urban areas. Many migrants from semi-industrialised countries are part of this subcategory. (The largest share of foreigners in Italy, though, probably come from cities.)

As you can see, apart from latent overpopulation (now practically extinct in the West) the two other categories do not require the reliance of capital on external sources to fill the army of the unemployed.

An even more striking example comes from the Mezzogiorno, Southern Italy: countless people migrate from Southern Italy, yet this does not create a shortage of workers there. On the contrary, unemployment is peaking in exactly those areas with maximum emigration. Even Diego can understand that if we believe immigration creates unemployment, we should equally believe that emigration creates employment – but this is not what happens.

What effect does unemployment have on wages according to Marx (and almost everyone else)? It lowers them, of course. Obviously, competition among proletarians lowers the price of labour-power. This is one of the many advantages of the reserve army of labour for capitalists, while it’s the main rip-off for employed wage-earners. Without other factors to counterbalance that downward pressure (factors that fortunately exist!), the presence of natural unemployment would push wages down to subsistence levels.

A 2018 neo-fascist flyer reads: “What did Karl Marx say? Industrial reserve army? Immigration is needed to lower salaries, rights and welfare. To turn Europe into a Third-world country, to turn us all into a mass of wretched people, temp-workers exploited and without rights. The LEFT today doesn’t break the chains, it fights for them! Not AGAINST but FOR the DOMINANT FINANCIAL ELITES! As they blab about rights, about opportunities and emancipation they are actually domesticating us to new damnation and servitude!”
It’s a perfect example: falsified Marx, the concept of “industrial reserve army” reduced to empty words and bent to a racist point of view in order to divide workers..

As you can see, Marx didn’t think that capitalism needed a little help from Africa to exploit workers: its intrinsic dynamics were more than enough. But Marx wasn’t a fatalist either. He believed one could fight capital’s tendency to turn the proletariat into wretched people who can barely survive. He believed in this so much that he spent his whole life trying.

How did Marx suggest dealing with the reserve army of labour?
Surely not by declaring war against them. Guess what? He proposed integrating them into working-class struggles and possibly trying to have them reabsorbed into the working class itself: for instance, by decreasing working time to share available jobs among everyone, thus reducing unemployment and giving capitalists less chance to take advantage of it; or by making the working conditions of the stagnant overpopulation the same as everybody else, thus preventing firms from using casualised work.

Although they both spoke of the brutal and alienating character of that process, you won’t find appeals by Marx and Engels to stop the peasants from migrating to cities. On the contrary, we do read positive remarks by them about the progressive effect of such migration. This is how they describe the endeavours of the bourgeoisie to this end:

“It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.” (Manifesto of the Communist Party, chapter 1)

4. Second night

Seconda apparizione dello spettro

Diego wasn’t sleeping. Was last night just a nightmare? Was it really a spirit? What would Hegel say? Perhaps he would have tried to study the phenomenology of Spirit! Ha ha ha! No, it isn’t funny. His sense of humour had been affected too.

What if Marx’s spirit was right? Diego didn’t actually meticulously read all the books he had often cited. Some of them he had never read. Really, in 21st-century Italy, who reads Marx? Quoting him was a kind of homage. He just wanted to warn against immigrationist turbo-globalism…

The door opened.
“Let’s go, we’re leaving, hurry up!” the bearded spirit yelled, bursting into the room.
“By Jove! Where are we going?” the young man asked, running to grab a pair of shoes and a coat. He didn’t want to spend another cold night just in his pyjamas.
“We’re going to Emilia. I have a couple of stories to tell you.”
Diego made some space on the bed for the revived German philosopher, economist and revolutionary Karl Marx, who clicked his tongue. “We’re not taking that wreck. I’ve got my jet. Get in.”
“An aviogetto!” Diego uttered, worried and astonished, while a mysterious red jet with no pilot landed smoothly on the street. A stray cat was scared.
“I warn you,” Marx said after travelling for a few minutes, “we’ve almost arrived and you won’t like what you see. Shut up and learn something.”

L'aeroplano di Marx

The fighter landed in a field. It was night. Clamour and engine noises came from a warehouse on one side. On the other side, a long viaduct stood above the horizon. The two human figures quickly walked into the dark; the older one showed the way and when they came to the gates of the factory, he gestured to Diego to keep quiet and look.

There were different gates for the lorries and about ten badly-dressed guys were keeping an eye on them. They sounded Arabic. They appeared quiet, but alert. Some of them waved red flags in front of several white lorries that had stopped in the middle of the road. On the side of the white monsters, three letters were written: “GLS”. A young man switched his megaphone to siren mode and let it scream into the night. There were a few police cars.

One lorry was parked near the corner of the warehouse gate. Suddenly, it accelerated and turned right to break through the blockade. At that point, there wasn’t really a blockade as the protesters had already dispersed, but a balding man about 50 was still on the road, he was wearing a union hat and looked like a good guy.

The man saw the lorry, he was alarmed and ran in front of it, showing his hand, palms up. The driver didn’t yield and sped up. Maybe he was sure that the porter would step aside, maybe he was just bothered by the blockade and the idea that he, as an Italian, had to accept the demands of these North Africans, maybe he was forced to by his bosses. In any case, the lorry hit the porter, slammed him violently to the ground and eventually came to a halt.

The comrades of the man suddenly came running, shouting out their despair and their rage. Some surrounded the body on the ground, others tried to catch the killer and lynch him. Police stepped in to stop them; a man wearing a white shirt, one of the managers, came out of the warehouse.

Diego had turned pale.
“Let’s leave,” said the ghost, bleak. “That Egyptian man was a union leader; he will die. His name was Abd El Salam Ahmed El Danf,” the ghost explained while the red jet was taking off again, invisible to the porters mourning their comrade.

Abd El Salam vive

Marx was driving. Diego watched the Emilian countryside, the A1 motorway, the factories, the weird in-the-middle-of-nowhere high-speed train station, rapidly flowing under them; then again and again, one after another, awful square warehouses. The old man’s phantom pushed the joystick forward and the plane flew down, just a few metres over the ground, slowing down.

“Are we landing?”
“No, that’s enough for tonight, I just want to show you a tent. There it is!”
The tent, decorated with red flags, was standing a few steps away from the gate of yet another warehouse. A really modern-looking warehouse: white metal battens on every side, mirror glass. You could mistake it for a chemical laboratory, yet they just process pork meat. It seemed that another structure emerged from the front of the building, a kind of small triangle-based tower. On the top of the small tower, the sign: “CASTELFRIGO”.

In front of the tent, gathered around a fire in an oil drum, some tired but cheerful foreigners’ faces: one from Eastern Europe, one from Africa, two from China.
The fighter jet sped away above them and continued its flight.

Many months of indefinite strikes, including hunger strikes, o renew the contract of workers employed by fake cooperatives and to put an end to illegal practices adopted by porterage cooperatives that broker workforce in the meat processing industry. Strike-breaking measures set up by CISL, police crackdowns, any amount of conniving by union bureaucrats. I ask you right now: do they look like “uprooted slaves” willing to be exploited to you?”
Diego hesitated. “They are indeed uprooted…”
“They’re growing their own roots…” answered the ghost; then he slapped him on the head. “…you moron!”

Basta schiavi

5. Marx the do-gooder

Karl Marx, like Friedrich Engels, lived in England for many years. At that time in England, there was both racism against Asian and African people from British colonies, as well as general xenophobia against people from other countries. Most immigrants came from Ireland, which was at the time still part of the United Kingdom.
Marx and Engels wrote a lot on the subject, shedding light on the miserable living conditions of Irish workers and how such conditions brought ethnic and social conflicts. They also wrote about the spectacular differences that existed between them, most of them being former farmhands or peasants from very poor areas, and the English working class, which had already settled into industrial capitalism. Nor did they hold back from criticising Irish nationalist political leaders.
Diego tells us that the founders of scientific socialism were certainly not “do-gooders”. We would be forced to say he’s right if we found in Marx’s texts something like that:

Watch out, that’s not Marx!

“And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians.
The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life. In relation to the Irish worker, the English worker regards himself as a member of the oppressed nation, suffering an invasion: foreign invaders become a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination. The English worker justly defends his own religious, social, and national traditions against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the American Indians who tried to defend themselves against the Whites’ invasion to avoid ending up in reservations: how could one blame him?
This antagonism is artificially deadened and kept at bay by the globalist press, the ‘tolerant’ sermons of priests, left-wing satire doling out goodwill and piety towards the ‘poor Irish’. In short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes and their foolish servants. The ‘do-goodery’ is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.”

Where did Marx write these lines? Fucking nowhere. The first paragraph is his, but I invented everything else. This is not Marx: it’s Diego’s imaginary Marx. Let’s read instead the real Marx, in his letter to Sigfrid Mayer and August Vogt on April 9th, 1870:

“The King of a-shantee”. 1882 anti-Irish cartoon. The title is a pun between “king of shanty” and “king of Ashantee”, an African tribe. The mocking of poverty overlaps, through the depiction of Irish as negroids and monkeyish, a clear racist message. Source hereOther examples here.

“And most important of all! Every industrial and commercial centre in England now possesses a working class divided into two hostile camps, English proletarians and Irish proletarians. The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker as a competitor who lowers his standard of life.
In relation to the Irish worker, he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the ‘poor whites’ to the Negroes in the former slave states of the USA. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.
This antagonism is artificially kept alive and intensified by the press, the pulpit, the comic papers, in short, by all the means at the disposal of the ruling classes. This antagonism is the secret of the impotence of the English working class, despite its organisation. It is the secret by which the capitalist class maintains its power. And the latter is quite aware of this.”

What have we just read? Exactly what it seems. Marx saw reality and knew exactly that there was bad blood between English and Irish workers. When in the Manifesto he writes “the working men have no country”, he describes the condition which objectively would make sense for them and to which they are pushed by the development of the world economy. Yet he knows, of course, that they are fraught with ethnic prejudices, religious prejudices etc. To Marx, however, this typically working-class sentiment of rivalry with proletarians of other nationalities is convenient for bosses and the bosses themselves stir it up continuously.

Trust di cervelli

Marx never argues that capitalists promote do-goodery and tolerance towards immigrants; instead, Marx argues that the dominant class diffuses, more or less subtly, xenophobia and racism.
It’s interesting to note that even racist humour magazines are dangerous tools in the hands of the dominant class. Today we would say: anti-immigrant cartoonists like Marione or Krancic, right-wing singers like Povia (who, by the way, actually claims in a hideous song the nonsense that “Carletto Marx” agreed with him).

Basically, Marx says that workers who reason like Diego are like scabs: they get hoodwinked by the bourgeoisie and divide their own class. And he adds that this is the same even for immigrants who hate locals, although naturally he devotes less time to this.

But this letter tells us much more. Generally, migrations of the labour force are not a bourgeois plot: they happen spontaneously and at the initiative of the migrants themselves, to decide their own destiny and look for a better life. Capitalism automatically creates the conditions of economic disparity which feed migration; the bourgeois take advantage of that _a posteriori _for their own economic and political interests, as they do with anything.
In this particular case, however, Marx is pretty convinced there’s really a sort of capitalist conspiracy: Ireland, after all, is an inner colony of Britain, the latter determining the former’s agrarian policy, encouraging the depopulation of the island’s countryside. In fact, he talks about “forcible emigration”. Even so, Marx does not propose that the communists demand a policy of halting immigration. On the contrary, he recognises in this melting pot an opportunity for the First International he founded.

Workers’ organisation disrupts the plans of Big Business. Trends that, left to themselves (or rather, left to the bosses), would be reactionary, can thus be turned into something progressive. Labour-power is a special commodity and one of its characteristics is that it is not inert. Workers are human beings with a developable consciousness. All of Marxism is permeated with the awareness that class struggle (that is, the impossibility of regarding workers just as factors in production) shapes the world.

As closing remarks in the letter, having explained the importance of gaining the sympathy of Irish workers by defending the liberation of Ireland from the imperialist yoke, Marx describes with admiration the efforts of his daughter Jenny to inform the general public about the Irish question. He concludes by saying that it is crucial for the International to strengthen cooperation between Irish workers and workers of other nationalities, not only in Britain but also in America, where national divisions have always fragmented the labour movement in a particularly harmful way.

OK, it seems obvious, yet apparently it isn’t, so it’s better to write it down explicitly: according to the founders of the First International, workers of different nationalities should unite, both by forming links between the working class of one country and another, and, within each country, between native and immigrant people. That’s why it was called International Workingmen’s Association. Class brotherhood had to be promoted. Today, the xenophobes would certainly call them do-gooders.

The “do-gooders” of the First International.

The “do-gooders” of the First International.

This is what Marx proposed in 1871, the year of the Paris Commune:

“It is necessary that our aims should be thus comprehensive to include every form of working-class activity. To have made them of a special character would have been to adapt them to the needs of one section — one nation of workmen alone. But how could all men be asked to unite to further the objects of a few?”

This quotation answers yet another widespread rubbish argument, namely that it was Marx’s opinion that each nation should struggle separately. It is a misunderstanding born from a passage in the Manifesto which actually claims the opposite (“Though not in substance, yet in form, the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle.”)… but let’s keep that for another time.

In the interview, Marx continues:

“To give an example, one of the commonest forms of the movement for emancipation is that of strikes. Formerly, when a strike took place in one country it was defeated by the importation of workmen from another. The International has nearly stopped all that. It receives information of the intended strike, it spreads that information among its members, who at once see that for them the seat of the struggle must be forbidden ground. The masters are thus left alone to reckon with their men. […] By these means a strike of the cigar makers of Barcelona was brought to a victorious issue the other day.”

As with many of these writings, if Diego read it without understanding much he would get easily excited: in fact, here Marx is saying that the International stopped the import of foreign scabs. Yet it is how that matters: the International stopped the foreign strike-breakers organising the foreign workers by involving them in the common struggle. To the internationalists, it would have been unthinkable to ask the state (that is, the police) to stop the scabs by putting up walls at the frontiers. Rather, for as long as there have been cops in this world, they have always escorted blacklegs across the picket line.

Regardless, the deepest message is another one: one should always consider foreign workers – whom the ruling class would intend to use as cheap commodities to lower the cost of other commodities – as human beings who must be included, convinced, involved. In Diego’s rhetoric, instead, immigrants are objects or, at best, “slaves” to be pitied. It’s the same rhetoric as their exploiters’.

End of the first episode

Go to sleep, Diego

Thanks to the great Winsor McCay for the inspiration.

contents of the second episode

6. Third night
7. No-Border Lenin
8. The last night
9. In the good ol’ days… you would have grossed out the Left just the same
10. Postscript

Follow Mauro on Twitter → @maurovanetti

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About the statue of Indro Montanelli, a racist and a rapist

On June 13, in Milan, the statue dedicated to Italian journalist Indro Montanelli was smeared by red paint and marked with the writings “rapist, racist”.

This is the second time that activists smear the statue of Montanelli: the first time, in 2019, they covered it in pink paint during a women’s demonstration on March 8th. The action was claimed by Non Una di Meno, the Italian branch of the Ni Una Menos feminist movement. This last action was claimed by two different student activist groups (Milan Student’s network and Lume collective) and was completed between the evening of June 13th and the morning of the 14th.

Following the Black Lives Matter movement and the throwing of Edward Colston’s statue into the river in Bristol, UK, the statue of Montanelli had become a matter of discussion in the Italian mainstream media and social media in previous days. The reason, activists say, is that the monument erected by Milan’s municipality just a few years after the journalist’s death, deserves to be removed.

Indro Montanelli died in Milan in 2001 at the age of 92, after a life of immense success and fame. He was considered “the prince of journalism” and had been one of the most powerful voices in the Italian media for most of his life, even though his career started in a way that embarrassed some of his liberal admirers. He was indeed a keen supporter of Mussolini, and wrote in several magazines and newspapers of the fascist regime.

He was particularly vocal regarding the 1935 Italian colonial aggression against Ethiopia (Abyssinia at the time), an aggression he participated in with enthusiasm. One of his articles in the magazine Civiltà fascista (Fascist Civilization), recommended the soldiers to avoid any pity and human feelings towards Ethiopians. “White man must command”, he wrote.

While in Abyssinia, Montanelli bought and married a 12 year old child who he kept as his enslaved wife. More than once, he explained his actions in interviews and writings, always bragging about it and showing no regret. The last mention of the child he enslaved for his sexual pleasure dates as recently as 2000, just one year before his death. In a public letter in response to a 18 year old girl asking about his famous Ethiopian “love story”, Montanelli called her “my little animal” and described the atrocious details of her rape. In 1969, Italian journalist and activist Elvira Banotti challenged Montanelli on the topic during a TV interview, and then Montanelli finally admitted that what he had done in Ethiopia, would have been considered rape in Europe.

montanelli lettera

The letter where the “great journalist” details the rape of his enslaved 12 year old child in 2000, just one year before he died.


Italy conducted the war against Ethiopia with genocidal intent. It is estimated that about 275.000 Ethiopian soldiers and civilians were killed by the Italian army, while Italy’s death toll counted around 4.300. Mussolini and his commanders on the ground (particularly General Badoglio, who later signed the armistice with the Allies) ordered a systematic use of chemical weapons against the Ethiopian army and population, and violated the Geneva Convention in many other ways.

For decades Montanelli denied the Italian war crimes in Ethiopia, even after they were proved in well documented studies by historians such as Angelo Del Boca. It was only after the Italian government admitted the use of chemical weapons against Ethiopians in 1996 – 60 years after the events occurred – that Montanelli recognized he was wrong in believing it didn’t happen. Until then, he had been the most important creators of one of the lies that has been polluting Italian historical memory and debate: the myth of Italians as good people, whose colonial aggressions were conducted with kindness and humanity.

john robinson

The US State Deptartment prevented African American supporting Ethiopia from traveling to the front to take part in its war with fascist Italy. But a few did, including renowned aviator John C. Robinson, who took charge of Ethiopia’s fledgling Air Force. Source: https://t.co/qdczDOC3g2?amp=1

Although he was a supporter of the most violent expressions of the fascist regime, after WWII he became a revisionist, and in his many and widely read books about that era, he erased the ferocity of fascism and depicted Mussolini as a good man who, in the end, was fooled by his hierarchs. Montanelli managed to pass his revisioned narrative by claiming an objective point of view stemming from his opposition to Mussolini’s politics. An opposition he paid with imprisonment. However, Montanelli was briefly incarcerated just before Mussolini’s fall because the Duce considered him a “fascism profiteer” and not at all a political opponent. In reality, as we wrote above, he was a vibrant fascist.

During the Italian Civil War (1943-45) that followed the fall of Mussolini, Montanelli faked his participation in the Resistance and, with the help of his friend, the gestapo commander Theodor Saevecke, also known as the executioner of Piazzale Loreto, he flew to Switzerland. When in charge of the gestapo in Milan, Saevecke ordered the deportation of 700 Jewish people and the execution of many partisans, among whom were 15 men who were killed and exposed in Piazzale Loreto. In 1999, Saevecke was finally put on trial in Italy, and Montanelli testified in his favor. “I don’t give a fuck of their noises”, Montanelli said when he faced the screams and insults of the victims’ families.

The executioner of Piazzale Loreto was not the only nazi slaughterer Montanelli supported. Even the infamous Erik Priebke, who ordered the massacre of 335 Italian soldiers and civilians at the Fosse Ardeatine in Rome, received a letter of solidarity from him.

Like others who had joined Italian fascism, after WWII, Montanelli committed body and soul to the war against Communism, a war that provided for many war criminals a way to come back to action and allowed for their crimes to be forgiven? with the help of a new ally, the USA. While the American government pushed for a radical right wing turn in Italian politics, in a series of letters and meetings with the American embassy, Montanelli suggested the creation of a force made of 100.000 beaters of clear anti-communist faith. They should have been chosen among former fascists, army officials, businessmen and mobsters, who, though a terrorist strategy, would lead a law and order golpe. The near future that Montanelli wished for his country was a civil war that would have destroyed the Italian Communist Party and brought to power a Pinochet-like regime.

His ideas were actually put in place during the strategy of tension following which the neofascists and the secret services organized a series of terrorist attacks in order to stop the rise of the PCI to government. Montanelli took part in the events by decoying the investigation that followed the massacre of Piazza Fontana, when a bomb placed by neo-fascist inside a bank in Milan killed 17 people. The anarchist Giuseppe Pinelli was wrongfully accused for the attacked and died following a “fall” from the window of the police headquarters where he had been illegally detained for 3 days.

That is not all, the “great journalist” also used his media power to protect the business interests which caused the Vajont dam disaster which killed between 1,900 and 2,500 people in 1963.

Obviously, Montanelli was also a fierce opponent of the civil rights movement in the USA, because, he affirmed, the white race had to be protected.

With all this in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that Montanelli became a target of the Red Brigades, who kneecapped him in 1977, in the very spot where his statue was built to honor him as “the father of Italian journalism” and a red terrorism victim. After the protest from the anti-racist activists, the entire mainstream journalism world and most of the political spectrum emerged as one man in defense of his legacy and memory. Among them, the centre-left Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala stood out with a particularly disturbing statement: “everybody makes mistakes and we should all watch our own lives”.

The statue has been rapidly cleaned and is now guarded night and day by law enforcement members. But nevertheless, never in all these years Indro Montanelli’s crimes were so widely discussed in the Italian media. Like elsewhere, in Italy new generations look a lot less willing than before to forgive the “mistakes” of important men.

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[fr] Pourquoi est ce que le coronavirus tue t-il autant en Italie ?

Le coronavirus touche le monde entier, mais il n y a pas de doutes qu’il y a un pays qui a été touché plus durement que n’importe quel autre : l’Italie. Alors que le bilan des personnes décédées dépasse les 15.000 morts, plus du double de la Chine, à l’étranger des vidéos de maires italiens engueulant les personnes qui sortent faire un jogging ou promener leur chien circulent sur internet. «Les italiens ne peuvent pas suivre les règles», «les italiens boivent de l’eau sales», «Les italiens ont un système de santé qui est public et par conséquent digne du tiers-monde»: vous pouvez lire ce genre de commentaires sur les réseaux sociaux.

Ce n’est pas seulement une question de racisme: Les medias italiens ainsi que les politiciens diffusent l’idée qu’une personne qui marche seule dans un parc est responsable de la contagion et de la mort de plusieurs personnes, avec comme conséquence une militarisation de la société et une incroyable série de mesures fortes prises à l’encontre de toute personne qui ne se plie pas aux injonctions de la police. Nous parlons de personnes arrêtées par les militaires et livrées à la police parce qu’elles marchaient seules a 500m de leur maison. Ou encerclées et battues parce qu’elles faisaient du jogging (encore une fois seules) sur une route déserte. Le gouvernement a récemment élevé l’amende pour «le non respect des directives» au montant astronomique de 3000€.

En fait la réalité raconte une toute autre histoire. L’histoire d’un pays en ruine après des dizaines d’années de coupes budgetaires du secteur public et de l’émigration, et gouverné par des clowns qui sont totalement soumis aux désirs des hommes d’affaires.

Nous allons examiner les 5 raisons pour lesquelles tant de gens meurent en Italie, dans l’espoir que cela vous aidera, lecteurs du monde entier à agir pour que votre gouvernement ne fasse pas la même erreur et puisse sauver des vies.

  • Le problème démographique
  • L’austérité, la grande faucheuse
  • Privatisation, privatisation, privatisation
  • La responsabilité des hommes d’affaires
  • Le rôle de la pollution.

Le probleme demographique

L’Italie est le deuxième plus vieux pays au monde, avec 35% de la population qui a plus de 65 ans. Est-ce parce que nous mangeons bien et que nous prenons des apéritifs avec des amis sur une magnifique piazza tous les jours? Non, en fait c’est parce qu’il n’y a pas d’enfants. Au début de l’année 2020, pour chaque 100 décès il n’y avait que seulement 67 naissances. Dix ans auparavant, il y avait 96 nouvelles naissances pour chaque 100 morts. C’est le taux le plus bas depuis la fondation de l’Etat Italien en 1861, lorsqu’ils ont commencé a récolter les données. La population italienne a diminué de 116.000 personnes par an.

Est-ce que les italiens n’ont pas envie d’avoir des enfants car ils sont exigeants et qu’ils preferent rester à la maison avec leur mamma plutôt que de fonder leur propre famille? La encore, non. Il n’y a pas d’enfants car les jeunes couples ne peuvent plus subvenir à leur besoins. Comme rapporté par l’Istat, la moitié des travailleurs italiens gagnent moins de 11€ par heure, et 6% d’entre eux gagnent moins de 7.50€ par heure. La plupart des travailleurs sous-payés sont des jeunes et les jeunes travailleurs doivent se traîner le fardeau des contrats à court terme sans protections et des dépenses sociales record.

Comme résultat il y a 120.000 Italiens qui ont quitté le pays en 2019, 3.000 de plus qu’en 2018. 5.3 millions d’Italiens sont enregistrés comme vivant à l’étranger, un million de plus qu’il y a a peine 8 ans, et les vrais chiffres sont probablement beaucoup plus importants car la majeure partie des immigrés ne s’enregistre pas aux consulats. La plupart des immigrés sont jeunes et beaucoup sont des médecins. 52% des docteurs européens ayant quitté leur propre pays sont Italiens.

Tout cela explique la prévalence des personnes âgées au sein de la population, affectant l’économie et le système de santé, qui n’est pas en mesure d’aider les plus fragiles en cas d’épidémie qui est plus dangereuse pour eux que pour personne d’autre. Les vieux médecins, travailleurs d’usine, chauffeurs de camion, vendeurs, doivent continuer de travailler et par consequent tomber malade. Il est important de noter que l’âge minimum pour le départ à la retraite a été elevé a 67 ans en Italie.

L’austérité, la grande faucheuse

Beaucoup pensent que l’austérité en Italie est le produit de la crise de 2008, mais en fait notre pays a commencé à effectuer de sévères coupes budgétaires dans les dépenses sociales dès le debut des années 90. En 1980, l’Italie possédait 500.000 lits d’hôpitaux, tandis qu’aujourd’hui ils ne sont que 200.000. Nous avons 3.2 lits d’hôpitaux pour 1000 habitants, tandis que la France en a 6 et que l’Allemagne en a 8. En 1982 il y avait 922 lits de réanimation pour 100.000 personnes, en 2015 il n’y en avait plus que 275. Le nombre d’hôpitaux en 1998 était de 1381, tandis qu’aujourd’hui il n’est plus que de 1000. 200 d’entre eux ont été fermés durant ces 10 dernières années. Pendant ce temps, la population est devenue plus vieille et plus malade.

Entre 2009 et 2018, 37 milliards d’euros ont été supprimés du budget de la santé, créant un manque de medecins, d’infirmiers, d’assistants sociaux, de structures sanitaires. Entre 2009 et 2017, 6.2% des postes medecins et des infirmiers furent supprimés (46.500 personnes). Des mesures qui on réduit notre système de santé vacillant. Une pénurie de personnel « que le gouvernement, en plein milieu d’une pandémie, tente de récuperer hâtivement en recrutant des milliers de volontaires parmi les nouveaux diplômés, mais aussi parmi les médecins et les infirmiers retraités. Pendant ce temps, la population a vieilli et est devenue plus malade.

Healthcare spending per countries

Dépense par habitant et par pays. Source: Eurostat

Jeter des vieux médecins à l’intérieur d’hôpitaux pleins de malades affectés par une maladie qui tue particulièrement les plus vieux est une folie, mais beaucoup continuent de répondre à l’appel, avec les conséquences évidentes et tragiques. Un vieux médecin de 73 ans est mort de coronavirus il y a quelques jours, après s’être porté volontaire pour aider.

Privatisation, privatisation, privatisation

Comme les coupes budgétaires dans le service public n’étaient pas assez, le Système de santé Italien a été largement privatisé durant les dernières décennies. Le système de santé Italien est fait de 51.80% d’hôpitaux publics et de 48.20% d’hôpitaux privés, qui fournissent un service public et qui sont ensuite remboursés par l’Etat. En 1998 le ratio était 61.3 pour 38.7%.

Le processus de privatisation s’est fait de pair avec la régionalisation de la santé. Depuis les années 90, certains partis politiques, surtout la Ligue du Nord ont fait pression pour donner plus de pouvoirs aux gouvernements régionaux sur certains secteurs clés, dont la santé. Ceci a rendu le système sanitaire italien profondément inégalitaire entre les régions, et a laissé une grande liberté de manœuvre aux gouvernements régionaux, qui, souvent, ont agi dans l’interet des sociétés de leurs amis.

La Lombardie, région ou il y a la plus grande majorité de cas de coronavirus et de décès, a été longtemps considérée l’Eldorado des entreprises de santé privées. Grâce principalement à Roberto Formigoni, gouverneur de la région entre 1995 et 2013, et purgeant actuellement une peine de 5 ans détention à domicile pour corruption dans le secteur de la santé. Grâce a ses liens avec les entreprises de santé liées à l’Eglise, il a transformé le système de santé de la Lombardie en un marché financé par des fonds publics de l’ordre de milliards de dollars. Et ses successeurs Roberto Maroni et Attilio Fontana (l’actuel gouverneur) ont parfaitement suivi ses pas.

Résultat, 40% des lits d’hôpitaux en Lombardie sont privés. Et il va sans dire que, les hôpitaux privés sont loin de la première ligne dans l’actuelle épidémie de coronavirus. Contrairement à l’Espagne, l’Italie n’a pris aucune mesure sérieuse pour nationaliser les hôpitaux privés, même si les hôpitaux publics sont débordés sous la pression quotidienne de milliers de malades infectés par le coronavirus et que des hôpitaux de campagne sont construits partout en Lombardie. 65 médecins et infirmiers ont été envoyés par Cuba pour aider les hôpitaux publics, et le gouvernement continue de protéger les hôpitaux privés.

Tout ce que le gouvernement a pu faire, c’était de demander timidement leur aide. Un appel auquel, honteusement, certains hôpitaux répondirent pour se faire encore plus d’argent, ou du moins éviter de dépenser un centime de leur poche. Alors que le service de santé public fait face à une urgence insupportable, l’hôpital San Raffaele, l’un des plus grands hôpitaux de Milan, a eu le culot de demander des dons pour construire une nouvelle unité de soins intensifs dans son gymnase. Le San Raffaele appartient à une société évaluée à 1.65 milliards d’euros.

Conséquence, le système de santé Italien est loin de pouvoir répondre au grand défi auquel il est appellé à faire face. Sur les réseaux sociaux, des centaines de gens rapportent que les hôpitaux refusent de les dépister et de les hospitaliser, malgré le fait qu’ils n’étaient plus capables de réspirer. Mais lorsque vous commencez à avoir des problèmes respiratoires, il est souvent trop tard pour appeler une ambulance. Une femme de 48 ans originaire de Brescia est morte du coronavirus chez elle, et les gens meurent sans avoir été examinés par un docteur.

Des centaines de gens partagent leur expérience sur les réseaux sociaux, qui est toujours la même : ils ont commencé a développé tous les symptômes typiques – fièvre élevée, toux, souffle court – ils appellent leur médecin traitant et le numéro spécial coronavirus pour demander un masque et des soins, et ils répondent souvent « pas de masque, restez chez vous, appelez une ambulance si vous ne pouvez pas respirer ».

Même les travailleurs de la santé (y compris médecins et infirmiers) n’ont pas été testés, même si ils ont été en contact avec des patients atteints du covid-19, même si ils développent des symptômes. Mais les recherches montrent que vous pouvez transmettre le virus lorsque les symptômes ne sont pas encore visibles, ou même si ils ne sont jamais apparus. A cause du manque total de prévention des contaminations en milieu hospitalier, Sassari, en Sardaigne enregistre une contamination massive de ses médecins et infirmiers avec 90% du total des patients atteints.

La situation est si critique que le chef de la protection civile Angelo Borrelli a admis que le nombre réel de cas est probablement dix fois plus élevé que ce qui est rapporté.

La responsabilité des patrons

A Bergame la situation a pris des proportions catastrophiques. Des cercueils de victimes de coronavirus sont évacués sur des véhicules de l’armée pour être incinérés ailleurs, car les morgues sont pleines, et une vidéo poignante montre le nombre de morts dans la rubrique nécrologie du journal local.

La vallée voisine de Seriana est désormais reconnue comme étant le troisième foyer de l’épidémie commencée en Février dernier et qui actuellement tue des centaines d’Italiens tous les jours, avec quelques municipalités près de Lodi (parmi elles Codogno)ainsi que le petit village de Vo’ Euganeo dans la région Vénétie. Mais contrairement aux deux autres, la vallée Seriana n’a pas été déclarée « zone rouge » et entièrement confinée – même si certaines de ses villes ont perdu presque autant d’habitants en moins d’un moins que sur toute l’année 2019. Pourquoi ?

A cause des entrepreneurs. Comme rapporté par les journalistes, les deux Régions ainsi que l’institut supérieur de la santé (la plus haute institution italienne en matière de santé) voulaient confiner la zone au début du mois de Mars, mais le gouvernement temporisa. La Confindustria – organisation du patronat Italien – s’opposa fermement à cette requête pour protéger les intérêts de plusieurs usines de la vallée, et le projet fut finalement annulé. Les la plupart des usines continuent de travailler malgré l’épidémie.

death toll bergamo coronavirus

Nombre de morts à Bergame, par année. Source: Isaia Invernizzi https://twitter.com/EasyInve/status/1243467630721273856/photo/1

Sous la pression des chiffres de l’épidémie et à une moindre mesure, de celle des gros syndicats (CGIL, CISL, UIL – forcés à agir par une série de grèves sauvages), le gouvernement M5S-PD a décidé de prendre des mesures contre les patrons, en apparence seulement, en ordonnant la fermeture de toutes les usines non essentielles.

En apparence, car le dilemme de décider ce qui est essentiel et ce qui ne l’est pas fut laissé aux sociétés, qui peuvent simplement auto-certifier leur importance pour les besoins nationaux et donc continuer à travailler. Les grands syndicats menacent timidement de faire des grèves locales et sectorielles, mais pour l’instant sans résultat.

Le rôle de la pollution

Comme le montre plusieurs recherches, le risque de contracter une pneumonie virale est plus grand dans les zones polluées. Et la vallée du Po, ou il y a le plus grand nombre de cas et de décès dus au Covid-19 , a le pire taux de pollution d’Europe. Il est probable que la pollution de l’air, en particulier les particules PM10, ait un rôle dans la transmission du virus et peut être même rendre les gens, particulièrement les vieux, encore plus vulnérables au coronavirus. Même si la pollution a considérablement diminué durant ces dernières semaines grâce au confinement, ses séquelles aux poumons demeurent.

Les organisations écologistes réclament depuis longtemps des mesures pour réduire la pollution dans la vallée, et non seulement personne n’a jamais écouté, mais la situation s’est aggravée ces dernières années.


Les raisons pour lesquelles l’Italie enregistre des milliers de morts dues au coronavirus sont surtout l’œuvre de l’homme et auraient pu être évitées si les décisions n’étaient pas uniquement guidées par le profit. Combien de vies pourraient être sauvées si notre pays était plus égalitaire ? Qui est responsable de la catastrophe que nous vivons ?

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[en] Why is coronavirus killing so many people in Italy?

confindustria covid 19

“Confindustria-19. Your health is worth less than our profits”. Source: twitter

[Updated on 31/03/2020] Coronavirus is hitting all around the world, but there’s no doubt that one country has been hit more harshly that any other: Italy. While the death tool has passed the 12.500 mark, about four times China’s, outside the country videos of Italian mayors freaking out at people walking in the street with their dogs or jogging become viral. “Italians can’t follow rules”, “Italians drink dirty water”, “Italians have a public – and therefore third-world – healthcare system”: you can read this kind of statements all around social media.

It’s not just a matter of racism: Italian medias and politicians are also spreading the idea that one person walking alone in a park is responsible for the contagion and the death of many, resulting in a progressive militarization of society and incredibly hard measures taken against anyone that isn’t behaving as the police likes. We are talking about people threatened by soldiers and reported to the police because they were walking alone 500 mt from home or surrounded and beaten because they were jogging (again, alone) on an empty road. The government has recently raised the fine for “not following the directives” to the astonishing amount of 3000 €.

Reality, though, tells a different story. A story about a country in ruins after decades of cuts to social spending and emigration, and governed by puppets that are completely prone to the desires of businesses.

We’ll examine the five reasons why so many people in Italy are dying, in the hope that this will help you readers from all around the world act so that your government doesn’t make the same mistake and lives can be saved.

  • The demographic issue
  • Austerity, the grim reaper
  • Privatization, privatization, privatization
  • The responsibility of businesses
  • The role of pollution

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The actual Italian results of the European Elections

European elections results in ItalyOn the morning of May 27th, with the almost definitive results of the European election in Italy, the Wu Ming Foundation published a thread of tweets with their first thoughts on the election results. They then decided to republish them, in article form, on their blog Giap!.

At the time of writing, the mainstream media in Italy were claiming these results (in brackets the general election result) for the main parties:
Lega 34,3% electing 29 ENF MEP (17,4%)
PD 22,7% electing 19 S&D MEP (18,7%)
M5S 17,1% electing 14 EFDD MEP (32,7%)
Forza Italia 8,8% electing 7 EPP MEP (14%)
Fratelli d’Italia 6,5% electing 6 ECR MEP (4,35%)
Others 10,7% (12,85%)

Responding to these results, the media framed the debate in the following terms:

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#Bologna: #Làbas & Laboratorio Crash Evicted

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Enough 14 – Cops violently evicted two social centers in Bologna, Italy yesterday. Activists announced that there would be a public meeting at the end of the month in preparation for a demonstration on September 9th to take back the Làbas … Continue reading

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Trade union leader released after three days of protests across Italy

2017_01_27_aldoThe national coordinator of the Si Cobas trade union was released on bail yesterday after his lawyer stated that the accusations against him are beginning to collapse. Aldo Milani, the head of Si Cobas was arrested on Friday during negotiations he was conducting. According to Si Cobas: “In the late afternoon (of 26th January 2016) our national coordinator Aldo Milani was taken away by the police, arrested and transferred to jail in Modena and, as of yet (the morning of of January 27th), his legal defense has not been able to contact him.” Milani was charged with extortion relating to industrial action that the union was taking against a food processing company in the province of Modena, Northern Italy. Continue reading

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Foodora strikes in Italy – the dark side of the sharing economy

1. The sharing economy?
2. Foodora in Italy
3. New conditions and first strikes
4. Evolution of the struggle
5. Flexibility and the Italian labour market
6. Sources

1. The sharing economy?

foodollsNewspapers report every day how our world is changing because of digital technologies. We often read about full automation, digitalization of life and the end of work. All these themes are interwoven in the sharing economy: apps that connect supply and demand to share a particular good. Foodora is not one of them, as nothing is shared. Foodora is part of the gig-economy, like Uber, MechanicalTurk or Task Rabbit.
Foodora offers restaurants the possibility of new customers by providing a flexible fleet of couriers. An app monitors purchases and assigns them to the couriers based on an algorithm that calculates speed and distances. Restaurants get new orders without employing any more people, paying 30% only on completed deliveries, meaning they have no additional costs. Customers get the food they want from a great variety of restaurants, at home, by paying €2.90 per delivery. Young cyclists, who the company calls “riders” (even in Italian), get to earn some money by moving through the city in their free time. Foodora, the once-small Berlin-based startup has grown into an international business, located in 10 countries and 36 cities. It opened in Italy two years ago, starting in Turin and Milan (northern Italy) and will soon be expanding to Rome, with prospective sales volume growing at a rate of 75% every month.
Currently the riders, roughly 300 in Turin and 600 in Milan, are not directly employed by the company. Instead, they are employed using a contract structure known as “co.co.co” (“contract for continued collaboration on a project”). These contracts effectively result in the riders being regarded as autonomous workers collaborating with the company, which enables the company to bypass several labour regulations which apply to direct employees.
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[fr] Le pari de Matteo Renzi avec la démocratie: Le référendum Italien

renzi_selfieLe 4 Décembre prochain, le peuple italien sera appelé aux urnes pour le référendum sur la reforme constitutionnelle proposée par le gouvernement conservateur et pro-austérité de Matteo Renzi. Le sujet domine la vie politique italienne en raison de l’impact que pourrait avoir cette reforme sur la vie politique et institutionnelle italienne si elle est approuvée, mais aussi en raison de l’agitation qu’elle pourrait provoquer dans la politique italienne si elle venait a être rejetée.

L’importance accordée au référendum a rapidement polarisé la vie socio-politique italienne, servant de paravent a chaque force socio-politique majeur afin de détourner l’attention publique sur ses tares. Le gouvernement et le Parti Démocrate font face a une opposition populaire grandissante en raison de l’énorme écart entre l’effet loué des politiques appliquées par les gouvernants et les difficultés d’une large frange de la population, difficultés engendrées par les politiques néolibérales dictée par l’Union Européenne. Le Mouvement 5 étoiles, malgré ses récentes victoires aux élections municipales a Rome et a Turin, est toujours aux prises avec son identité et sa structure et la médiocrité de ses élus locaux est bien visible. Forza Italia, le parti de Berlusconi, la Ligue du Nord et les autres partis de droite voient en ce référendum le moyen de déloger Renzi du pouvoir afin de se l’approprier et de continuer sur la même ligne politique néolibérale. Les différentes forces de Gauche voient en ce référendum l’occasion de revenir sur la scène politique nationale comme alternatives fiables et stables. La fédération des employeurs Confindustria est d’ores et déjà favorable au débat national car il représente une belle occasion de détourner l’attention publique sur les salaires décroissants, les droits du travail, la sécurité au travail, la précarité du travail et l’enrichissement des employeurs.

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[en] 21st October: a day of general strike

On 21 October, over 1.3 million workers took part in a general strike called by a number of base trade unions (USB, S.I. Cobas, Unicobas, Adl Cobas, Cub Lazio) and joined by many organisations and local groups throughout Italy.

The strike was a political one, and it was called to protest against the Bossi-Fini migration law, EU policies and Matteo Renzi’s government’s most contested measures: the Labour reform known as Jobs Act, the Constitutional Reform, the ‘Good School’ reform of primary and secondary school, and the 2016 Budget Law.

The main aim was to block the centers of the biggest Italian cities and to disrupt the normal operations of the logistics sector, still in uproar after the shocking death of worker and trade unionist Abdelssalam Eldanf, killed the night between September 14 and 15 during a strike in Piacenza. In whichever square or street logistics workers have assembled, this has been the main subject.
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