A discussion paper by Italian syndicalist union USI for a Paris conference in 2007.
The USI was reformed on a national level in 1990 on the model of revolutionary syndicalism which has existed in this country since the early 20th century and defines itself as a self-managed and self-organized syndicate. This year, the USI celebrates its 95th anniversary. Today?s generation is the fifth to carry the flags, ideas, practices and struggles of a form of revolutionary syndicalism which has always been incompatible with the capitalist system and the governments that represent it. A syndicate that identifies with the 1st International, and one whose opposition to war seen as a tool in the service of capital in order to exploit and subject men, countries and nature is part of its DNA, today as in the past.
In the past we opposed Italian intervention in the 1st World War; in 1991 we called the first general strike against the war; together with other unions and sections of the movements, we demonstrated on various occasions, like in Genoa in 2001, against governments who invented the expression "humanitarian war" so that they could continue to protect their own interests against the interests of humanity.
Today we are involved in a permanent war which is not only taking place in those areas where there is actual fighting, but around us every day, with workplace deaths, environmental pollution and the exploitation of the weakest members of society and nature.
It is a war that produces its own dead and maimed, a war that has just recently seen the port of Genoa blocked by port workers, including USI members, in protest at workplace deaths.
But in order to build another future, we must be conscious of the past. We need to remember the history of the USI and the workers? movement; our country needs to remember the events of thirty years ago in 1977, which was another period of social conflict and one which led to many social conquests and to the birth of labour and social self-organization, such as the first attempts at rebuilding the USI.
Those who attacked the workers? conquests in the decade from 1968 to 1978 are the same ones who in one way or another (though under different guises!) still lead and control the country, guiding it towards moderate, neo-liberalist and confessional positions.
The desire to fight and for conflict remains alive and at times is victorious, despite the repression and the sell-outs on the part of the CGIL, CISL and UIL unions; but the struggle has almost always been a struggle of resistance - there has been a lack in our country of the ability to coordinate, to build networks, despite the efforts of our Confederation and its participation in various joint initiatives with other labour and social organizations.
For several months now, we have been promoting a proposal to create a network of mutual aid and active solidarity, based on a wide-ranging social platform which unites the struggle for housing, environmental battles and the fight against precarity (with a huge demonstration on 4th November 2006) with the struggle to improve working conditions and safety in the workplace, the struggle for improved contracts and stabilization (for which we called general strikes on 17th November 2006 and 30th March 2007), and with the struggle for a social income for all and for a different quality of life (for which we have demonstrated on various occasions in various local events).
This will be a coalition/network made up of various labour, social and environmental groups and organizations, which will be able to re-launch and develop social conflict aimed at building a better future.
It is a proposal that we believe can be extended to both a European and world-wide level, even starting from this Conference in Paris and from the participation of many bodies and associations.
This is an opportunity which must not be wasted to re-launch opposition to capitalist exploitation and liberalism.
It is also possible to promote even stronger proposals for active solidarity within certain sectors, up to the point of establishing true pacts for action and struggle, so that the struggles of resistance that are going on in many parts of the world can become struggles of attack, to defeat liberalist globalization and to demonstrate that our incompatibility with this system is necessary in order to build another possible world and to provide humanity with a future of freedom.
USI AIT Secretariat
Originally appeared: April 19, 2007 at Ainfos