4th May 2020
1st May in Rovereto
On 1st May about twenty comrades took to the streets for about an hour in the Fucine working-class neighbourhood with amplified talks around the Itea blocks of flats (Istituto Trentino Edilizia Agevolata, [social housing agency of the Trentino province]. As already happened on 25th April in Brione, it was a chance to talk about the structural causes of the epidemic – all to be linked to the capitalist world of plundering and exploiting nature – and the way Confindustria [bosses’ federation] and the government tackled it, resulting in a true massacre. During the initiative we again encouraged Itea residents in economic difficulty (the managers of this provincial agency announced a rent freeze for shoppers but not for tenants) to self-organize to stop paying rent. We pointed out that the ban – which will continue even after 4th May – against people meeting up in the open air is aimed at keeping us isolated and passive in the face of what they’re preparing for us: the loans that the government is about to request from European institutions and national creditors (banks, insurance companies, investment funds) will be repaid by increasing the exploitation of workers and the poorest groups of society, an aspect which “pro-europeans” and “sovereigntists” all agree on. In order to resist this – and the introduction of 5G – it is necessary to breach social confinement responsibly. Some residents – mainly young – approached the initiative. Two police patrols, on the contrary, kept at a distance.
“If we can work, we can strike too”
With this slogan blocks and strikes in many logistics industries were organized between 30th April and 1st May. In Bologna, Casoria, the province of Naples, Turin, Campi Bisenzio, Calenzano, Modena (where protests had already started at the beginning of the week). And then Genoa, Milan, Brescia, Bergamo, Piacenza, Florence, Rome, Caserta… Once again warehouse workers – mainly immigrants –– proved to be the most combative sector of the working class. Riders in Turin and transport cleaners in Naples, who blocked the underground service on 30th May, also went on strike.
In the belly of the beast
As the Italian media were only reporting on the protests staged by Trump’s supporters, who want to restart economic activity with no ifs or buts (the same stance taken by the League and backed by fascists, who tried to disguise themselves behind “tricolour face masks), on 1st May there were massive strikes against giants such Amazon, Whole Food, Walmart, Target in the United States. The demands are the closure of sites where infections were reported, no restriction of tests for suspected cases of contagion, retribution for dangerous jobs, suspension of deliveries of non-essential goods and an end to retaliation against workers who demand more safety at work. Nurses took to the streets outside 130 hospitals in13 States for the recruitment of more staff, against the lack of protection equipment, and against the attempts to silence those who protest. The common denominator of these and many other demonstrations was opposition to stars-and-stripes military expenditure and interventions. Since March at least 140 wild strikes were reported all over the United States. In the meantime rent strikes spread in California, the State of New York, Missouri and several big cities.
Questioning the practical purpose of the rules imposed on us for over a month for the containment of infection has revealed itself to be an exercise in critical thinking up till now. From 4th May, the beginning of the notorious “phase 2”, the restrictions on our freedom (above all assembling and demonstrating) won’t change, but it will be possible to go and visit… who? In a first draft it was relatives. Protests. You got it wrong, we meant established relations. This coming-and-going reveals yet again that certain measures have very little to do with health. What practical utility for the containment of infection does permission to meet only relatives have? Perhaps family relations protect us from the possibility of infection? Is there some sort of herd immunity linked to surnames? The answer seems obvious to us.
In the coming days many businesses will reopen (apart from those, certainly non-essential ones, which never closed down, such as weapons production); we’ll be back to producing and consuming at full capacity. But we won’t be back to our meaningful social relationships, friendships, complicities: on paper, these are worth less than a family certificate. Never mind those who don’t have families or have no relatives around them because they found affection, understanding, reciprocity elsewhere.
Work, homeland, family: this is the essential!
But if we want to put an end to the social organization that creates pandemics, we must also claim in a loud voice the importance of all our relations, particularly the most disinterested and authentic ones – which often have nothing to do with families.
To capture the whole expression of human life through the Law is a totalitarian utopia. Totalitarian because its realization would make human beings similar to machines; utopia because the State will never be able to control everything we do. It can get near to it, very near, by exploiting propitious occasions. What makes the Decrees issued in the name of the Coronavirus emergency special compared to the endless freedom-destroying laws that have marked the history of this country? Not only and not so much the mass extension of restrictions as the fact that – by upturning the foundations of the liberal ideology – these Decrees define as permitted not what is not expressly prohibited, but what is expressly allowed. Well, what is the only place where activities are divided between those expressly allowed and those expressly prohibited? Prison.
While it hasn’t yet gained the consensus necessary to introduce the “Immune” app for the digital tracing of social contacts, the State has begun to envisage the obligation for prisoners on bail to have a smartphone so that they can be located. Replacing what? Electronic tags, whose production is entrusted to mobile phone companies (Fastweb).
The advancing of digital technology is making possible what past totalitarian regimes didn’t even dare to imagine.
Translated by act for freedom now!