Occupy Rome 15 October 2011

A summary of yesterday’s events would be useless, as I’m pretty sure by now you’ve all read the big headlines about riots and clashes with the police at the “Occupy Rome” demonstration. If you haven’t, a good starting point is this video (in Italian). For some info in English, check Al Jazeera’s reports. (Neither reports are completely unbiased, don’t ask too much…).

Submitted by Italy Calling on October 16, 2011

Just like on December 14 2010, the protests got “violent”. The huge issue on which the Italian movements seem to be particularly stuck on, especially since the G8 in Genoa, is the eternal debate “Violence vs Non-violence”. I’m not going to go deep into this here cos it’s not the right place. For now, I’ve just translated a couple of articles and comments that I pretty much agree with. Talk again soon.

As we write the helicopters still hover above us in the sky and the smoke from the barricades can be seen rising through the buildings of the city centre. Rome is burning! The day of the indignados isn’t finished yet, revolts are still carrying on throughout the city. In the meantime, the political elite – which didn’t get the confidence vote of the enraged Roman people – is busy criminalising a whole day of extraordinary struggle, helped in this by the media, always willing to give them space.

Once again, we hear the same old story of the Black Bloc, which has become the straw-man method of dismissing the social conflict that, over the last few months, has filled up Italian squares, streets, valleys and universities, gaining strength and consensus. What are you chattin’ about, Black Bloc! In Piazza San Giovanni the people resisting the mad and lethal charges and carousels of the police were part of the Italian “indignation”, part of that global movement that in our peninsula chooses to express itself in this way too, uniting different generations of students, precarious and other workers in a common struggle against the crisis and the debt. In addition to protest camps, this movement refuses to allow its march to be blocked by the Ministry and claims the freedom to express dissent, targeting the palaces symbols of the crisis and of politics. There is no contrast between the acampadas and the physical fightback of Piazza San Giovanni, they’re both expressions of the same movement!

As we know, in Tunisia or Egypt, where it all started, the local regimes only gave up to the strength of the movement after shedding blood and repressing the revolts until the last minute, when Tahrir Square and Tunis’ Casbah became exceptional places of struggle, outrage, rage and construction of alternatives – the real ones, outside and against the palaces of politics. But maybe this is part of the problem: in Italy today’s demonstration has been a toy in the hands of the old and tired political establishment, which represents old struggles and defeats. By pretending not to hear what the movement has been shouting for years – “Nobody represents us” – and playing crazy games, they guaranteed themselves a place in the demonstration (but at what price?). The PD’s Secretary (left-wing coalition) is, even in these hours, speaking for the demonstrators of Rome, even though the day of October 15 has been launched all around the world precisely as a struggle against that type of politics that his Party represents.

It’s still too early to process the many images that this huge day of struggle has given us: one among many, Piazza San Giovanni packed with protesters unwilling to give the square away and clashing for hours with the police, who didn’t hesitate to run them over with their vans. A massive picture, that the chit chat of politicians and the mantras of the Black Bloc will not distort or modify in the eyes of the young working class and the classes most hit by the crisis. Sure, opposition and social conflict need to be nurtured, but we must avoid repetitiveness of romantic battles such as these.

From today, when the elite of political parties and banks will look down on us they won’t see anyone, because, since December 14 2010 and today, people have now started looking our opponents squarely in the eyes…

Translation of an analysis by InfoAut, original here.

Let’s face it, if there was a country who could turn the “indignation” into mass outrage, that was precisely Italy, which lives a pretty painful present.

Today, in Piazza San Giovanni in particular, has turned into hours of mass resistance against the police forces, called to push away a legitimate outrage against a present of austerity. Maybe not everyone can understand it, but today’s hours of Roman resistance have stated clearly that rebellion against debt, sacrifices, elites and austerity is possible, and can unite.

Extract from another analysis published by InfoAut.

There’s an ongoing discussion on the Wu Ming’s blog which is also very interesting (in Italian).

Here are some of the comments:

To uproot a belief you need to start realising that many people have bi-conceptual brains, where there is space for a concept and its contrary. Many people that today got caught in the “violence vs non-violence” net are the same who applauded the revolts of Tunis and Tahrir Square, without considering the violent or non-violent behaviour of the protesters. Maybe if we worked on this contradiction some of those people might change their mind.

Nevertheless, it’s sad that the political significance of a demonstration against the European Central Bank’s dictates – which brought to the streets hundreds of thousands of people – be reduced to the evaluation on “who started it” between “the mob” and the “forces of law and order”. (Wu Ming 2)

We thought what happened today was inevitable, because of Italy’s choices on how to be part of the global “15th October”: the Big National March, instead of being everywhere (“Occupy Everything”), which is what other movements practice around the world and have done today. “962 cities in 85 countries” means an average of 11 cities in each country, while here we have chosen to meet up in one place, the usual one, with all its implications. It’s a conclusion we have reached several times before, boring ourselves and others. Before the “#15Oct” there was a “14Dec”, and before that the G8, and so on…

Today we don’t feel like repeating those criticisms, because, when there are people risking their lives on the streets, solidarity is the priority. Saying “I told you so” is reactionary and mean. “Telling” is useless if it’s unconvincing. Today we can only express solidarity to those who were repressed, and to those who suffered the situation. Even in the tweets that keep getting posted up here there is too much desire to blame some people only, to judge who’s in and who’s out, to blame everything on the agent provocateurs, real, fake or bracketed. It’s not our thing, sorry. It’s a matter of decency, and respect for those people who were on those streets today, Piazza San Giovanni etc…(Wu Ming 1).

Source of these comments here.

Original article can be found here.



12 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on October 18, 2011

Cheers for this!

Other stuff from Italy, I read this quote from today's paper: "There is more maturity in the forces of order. No one has said it, but on Saturday there wasn't one shooting" - I love that this is how low the bar is set for Italian police! :)

Anyway, this is alongside an article saying "The police are also 'indignados'" because of pay cuts and stuff their union is saying about how bad things are for them. Talking to someone yesterday in the street, it def seems like police are being viewed as part of the 99% at the minute..


12 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on October 19, 2011

Val, is that aimed at me? If it is, you should know that I did pay attention to it (I forwarded the original to some people I know - which I wouldn't have seen if you hadn't posted it).. I'm sure many others had a similar experience even if we didn't say anything, sorry! (Libcom has been an absolute mess recently, as you might have noticed!)..

If it's aimed at Italy Calling, this is just a straight copy from their blog and I imagine they hadn't seen your post on the other thread when they wrote their blog post..

Anyway, I thought your translation was interesting.. I have some comments but no time to make them.. One thing though, I reckon the guy's 'estimation' of 5-10,000 black bloc is an exaggeration, though that's probably in reaction to the massive underestimation in the mainstream media.. I think my favourite quote was some politician condemning the protesters: "How is it possible that 100 people can cause so much damage?" I think he was trying to convey just how awful these people were but in doing so really explained just how bonkers the claims were!

More comments when I have time.. sorry!

Valeriano Orob…

12 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Valeriano Orob… on October 19, 2011

I have to say sorry too. When i posted it i was quite exhausted (due to work) and a bit pissed. However it's frustrating takin the effort and not being noticed tho i probably been touchy. Anyway, as i see it was not your production i cannot make you responsible so sorry again.


12 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ed on October 19, 2011

Nah, don't worry man, it's the weird thing aout spreading info via the internet.. unless someone comments it feels like you've just thrown something into and endless whole (frustrating if you've spent ages working on it).. but things on libcom do get seen and read so even if no one responds, it's always a safe bet that someone took something from it..

Another little comment: something I've picked up from the Italian press (and from talking to Italians) is that the 'black bloc' are getting a name as basically semi-terrorists.. with the stuff in Rome (as with the No TAV stuff), the media has talked about it as "guerrilla" actions.

To my mind its a conscious effort to remind people of the Red Brigades and other similar urban guerrilla groups from the 1970s. Talking to Italians not involved in political activity, the feeling is often either that the Black Bloc are either terrorists or police infiltrators..