A slippery slope
That’s precisely there where we find ourselves. Even anything but radical economists are beginning to hypothesize four ways out of the current situation: sliding into barbarism; State capitalism; State socialism; a different society based on mutual aid. The online daily Milano Finanza of 6th May bore the headline: Why the capitalist system is practically dead. The thesis – wrong but indicative – supported by the head of an important investment fund is that in a system where companies cannot make profits without the State’s intervention is no longer a capitalist system. But the main point was the conclusion: if certain changes are not directed from above, quite others will be imposed from below. Who would have said so, even just a few months ago? The problem is that at the moment the initiative is almost entirely in the hands of States and technocrats, which puts us nearer to the first of the three solutions and further from the last one, the only one that can guarantee the survival of the ecosystem and the freedom of individuals at the same time.
On 6th May, Vito Crimi, deputy-minister of the Interior and political leader of the 5-Star movement, proposed to “allow” (too kind!) those who get the basic income or Naspi (unemployment benefit) to go and work in agriculture to make up for the shortage of foreign labour “without losing the right to that income”. As if nothing had happened, the 5-star guy (but he had been preceded in this by the president of PD in the Emilia Romagna region, Bonaccini: «Those who get the basic income can work there so they can give back some of what they are taking») says things as they are. It’s time to make a clean sweep of the archaic nineteenth century idea that a boss has to pay, and that to a certain job corresponds a relative wage, determined by the power relationship between boss and workers. From now on work will be a concession (a compulsory concession, that is to say an imposition), and the same goes for income (ever lower), which can be taken away by decision of the government – we have just had a taste of what they can do with a simple decree – and above all it won’t be in any way brought in line with the job done, or be the object of negotiation and conflict. Do 600 euros a month for working 12 hours in the sun seem little to you? You lose your benefit. Do you want to negotiate decent wages? Next please. Do you want a contract with hourly rates, overtime, holidays, days off, tax payments, possibility to go on strike? Crimi and Bonaccini are not saying anything about that, nor are other politicians, probably that’s old stuff for them. No small turning point to face “the crisis to come” (or is already here?): those who get benefits would be a supply of literally zero-cost labour for the bosses, and with no extra cost for the State, given that it is a question of funds (but it would more appropriate to say crumbs) already allocated and whose designation is already envisaged by law. A proposal symmetrical to the refusal to regularize undocumented immigrant workers, a workforce at extremely reduced cost for companies, at zero cost for the State. One more reason to struggle together, Italians and foreigners, against a new slavery, which has nothing of an emergency: considering the profits they guarantee, there is no doubt that these conditions, once imposed, will become permanent and more and more widespread.
Consciously, or by force
The issues of the degradation of life and working conditions and of an increasingly artificial society are surfacing at the same time. It will be difficult for us to stop this economy of disaster, unless we create collective spaces in which to organize ourselves against the growing misery and at the same time formulate an overall judgment on a system openly at war against the Planet and all its inhabitants. The resistance against the introduction of 5G will probably be one of these occasions. Another meeting ground could be that concerning health. In order for them to find support in the rest of the population for their struggles, critical health workers will have to begin to express themselves not only against cuts and privatizations but also against the structural causes (pollution and food adulteration for example) which ensure more and more patients to the industry they work for. It’s precisely such a judgment that is lacking – in this sector as in all the others – as it is crushed under the burden of survival. Only spaces of direct communication and common struggles will be able to lighten that burden. After all, if this doesn’t happen through the conscious block of an increasingly demented production, it will be «under the yoke of repeated ecological disasters that men will have to learn to separate themselves from a world of illusions».
While waiting for – or replacing – the app for contact tracing, the Italian Institute of Technology (whose director Roberto Cingolani is part of the task force instituted by the government to program the “return to normality” after the quarantine) has already elaborated and put on the market a digital tag that will ring if “social distancing” is not respected and which incorporates the data on the contacts with possibly infected people. The governor of the Liguria region wants to make it compulsory starting from the autumn. In the meantime, the ministry of education is planning to maintain “online education” also in September (half students “present” and half connected to the internet). «There are never obstacles for those who don’t have principles», was recently written. And what are these principles? What ideas of freedom, “human nature” and social relations should be counter-posed to the mechanization of ourselves and of the world? The affirmation of certain values is perhaps the imperative ethical and practical necessity of this historical phase. Around the rebellious teachers, the parents who refuse to send their children to school, the students who won’t supply their “institutional email” necessary for “distanced education”, it is fundamental that a network of support, reflection and resistance be created. Probably the elements of refusal are more widespread than it is believed, even if they are spread out and timorous.
A first discussion on these questions took place on Sunday 10th May at the No Tav space of Acquaviva and Resistente. For several hours, about fifty people from various areas of Trentino recounted how they have lived these two months of confinement, outlining ideas and proposals in anticipation of other meetings to try to ensure that there will be no return to normality.
Translated by act for freedom now!