ITALY: 'A movement that will totally change society'

Issue 

ROME — As well as the Colosseum, pizza and designer fashions, Italy is increasingly noticed for its massive demonstrations against war and neoliberal globalisation. On February 15, 2.5 million people mobilised in Rome against the war on Iraq. On March 15, at least 400,000 people flooded Milan. In February, Green Left Weekly's LUKE FOMIATTI spoke to FABIO AMATO, until recently the international secretary of Giovani Comunisti (GC — Young Communists), the youth organisation of the Partito della Refondazione Comunista (PRC — Party of Communist Refoundation).

"After September 11, US President George Bush declared a permanent global war. It is a war without limits, a war on everyone. It is both an external war [against the Third World] and an internal war [within most countries], with immigrants and dissenters being especially targeted. Most, if not all governments, have implemented repressive 'anti-terrorist' laws", Amato said.

"In Italy, the constitution expressly forbids participation in an offensive war, so the illegality of [Italian President Silvio] Berlusconi's support for the US-led war on Iraq is widely known. It has turned more people against a leader who already has a terrible record." This explains the huge anti-government, anti-war mobilisations that have become such a regular feature of Italian politics.

GC was formed in 1995 and has grown quickly. It currently has 12,000 paid-up members, with around 4000 playing an active role in the organisation. "We formed GC when we realised that a specific youth organisation was necessary", Amato told GLW. "There is a whole generation who do not expect to have as good a life as their parents. This is the generation of precariousness, an entire generation standing on the edge and wanting to change society. A youth organisation was needed to reflect this mood of today's youth."

Members of GC are also members of PRC, but the youth organisation has its own forms of organising and full autonomy. "We are not a traditional communist party youth-wing — one that tries to take the party's ideology to the youth — we are a part of the youth movement", Amato explained. "In the youth and anti-neoliberal movements, we don't take the position that we are the vanguard. We see that we are all in it together. Taking this attitude, and being in the streets together [with others in the movement], helps to break down the old stereotypes about communist youth."

"This approach has had an effect on the GC too. We are no longer just the youth of the PRC, but are ourselves a political actor and a part of the [movement of the] Disobbedienti (disobedient ones)."

Disobbedienti was formed after the June 2001 protests against the G8 in Genoa by GC, together with the autonomist organisation Tute Bianci. The idea behind the organisation was to develop the unity of the new movement "around the idea that the movement cannot just be about meetings or discussions but must also be the experience of conflict", Amato told GLW.

"We believe it is important to disobey the system and create conflict because the level of conflict that already exists in humanity is very high. The people have a right to disobey when laws are against the interests of humanity. For example, we have organised the destruction of an immigration detention centre and organised boycotts of multinational corporations and banks. It is important to show people that opposition exists."

This strategy seems to be working so far. Disobbedienti has attracted massive support from, and participation by, Italy's young people. It has also attracted the ire of the government, which declared Disobbedienti to be "associated with terrorists" in a recent internal security report.

"How do we continue the fight and with what instruments are still open questions. How can we unify conflict and consensus? At present, the main way we do this is by enlarging the network, ensuring we are not isolated from the movement. So the decision to destroy the detention centre was made through a process of collaboration with all others concerned. We communicated with the others and we decided together."

Being a Disobbedienti is not difficult, Amata explained: "While there are local laboratories of disobedience, there is no membership; all can be disobedient who agree with our position [on conflict], you just start your own group."

At present, a major focus for GC is a referendum in June in which the Italian people will decide on whether to extend the right not to be sacked without a fair reason to workers in all enterprises (at present it only covers those with more than 15 workers). Amato explained that this campaign is important for GC because it "unites the traditional working class and their organisations with the new layers of workers in smaller businesses, who are mainly casual workers, on individual contracts and young".

Asked about the prospects for GC's future, Amato answered: "We are part of a movement that will totally change society. We aren't dictating to the living movement from preconceived ideas, but are going through the experiences of the movement and developing from there. It's like Lenin said, 'Each generation must find their own way to revolution'."

[Luke Fomiatti is a member of the revolutionary socialist youth organisation Resistance. Visit <http://www.resistance.org.au>.]

From Green Left Weekly, April 2, 2003.
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