Tuesday, April 21, 2020

PCm Italy - Coronavirus and class struggle in Italy

no official traslation -

In Italy we now find ourselves more than one month and half of full emergency for the pandemic. It begun from the second largest city in our country, Milan, Lombardy, where are two of the largest industrial concentrations in our country, Bergamo, the most affected, and Brescia.
The pandemic has affected other areas, them also with a high level of industrial concentration, such as at north-west, Piedmont, and at north-east Veneto. Neighbouring to this northern belt there is Emilia-Romagna, full of small and medium-sized industries of various sectors and large concentrations of logistics, where some cities such as Piacenza, Modena were hit hard by pandemic.
Apart from these areas, the expansion of contagion was at much lower level in the central part of the country and the capital itself, Rome, and have had and even less the impact was in the southern Italy, from Naples to Puglia and Taranto, to Sicily.

Our Party and its mass organizations immediately tried to give a class orientation to the working class and the masses, initially opposing the terrorist and alarmist information which were pushing the masses back into a sort of blind fear and immobilized them, unable to understand what was happening and how to deal with it.
The March 8 (International Women’s Day) fell in this very first phase, and the forces of the petty and medium-bourgeois feminist movement in Italy, grouped under "Not One Less" (from “Ni Una Menos” in Argentina and Spain), have soon backtracked the plans of mobilization and women’s strike scheduled in those days. At that moment, the bourgeoisie had not yet declared the "state of emergency", except in some areas of Northern Italy, therefore, in the rest of the country the situation allowed strikes and demonstrations, but the bourgeois and petty-bourgeois feminist movement beat in retreat immediately, clearly in line with what the base unions had already done.
The Revolutionary Proletarian Feminist Movement, strongly supported by the Slai Cobas for the Class Union, which is the class and combative organization led by the PCm, instead fir mmly maintained both the strike of some workers, and the planned demonstrations, giving indications to concentrate them mainly in southern Italy where there were better conditions of political and social viability. Right the day before the March 8, the government extended the state of emergency to the whole country, making pressure to withdraw strike and demonstrations.
Particularly in Palermo, pressure was exerted directly by the police and its political office, but the comrades firmly withstood and both the strike in some situations of precarious workers, and the gathering in front the Palaces of power were observed. Mass participation was less than usual but still significant.
In Taranto the Day was linked to the mobilization of trade female workers against layoffs and in the gathering in the street, although with the significant absence of all the groups of petty bourgeois feminism, saw the participation of the communist youth organization associated to one of the existing small new-revisionist Parties.
In the North and especially in the city which was not yet the epicenter of the pandemic, Bergamo, the workers challenged the prohibitions and experienced the aggressive reaction from the a whole front made up by masters, government and official unions.
However, the flag of the revolutionary struggle of the proletarian women was held high on the International Women's Day, and continued to be very present and active in the following weeks when, with the pandemic and the state of emergency, the condition of women worsened heavily non only on the jobs, but in the neighborhoods, the houses, where women had to deal with vital problems, with the children at home because of schools closure, and the family oppression which transforms houses into prisons and potential places of femicide, due to the impact of the eternal presence of patriarchy. The MFPR continued this truly hand-to-hand struggle, to feed the women's spirit of rebellion and make it emerge.
Meanwhile, the pandemic expansion was spreading and met the immediate reaction of workers in the main industrial centers of northern Italy: strikes and abstention from work, spontaneous or organized by the cobas, reached a number evaluable in 50,000 workers. On numerous occasions there has been police pressure, intimidations of all kinds, but this has not prevented strikes and massive abstentions from work.
A part of official unionism in Lombardy was also forced to declare strike in the metalworking factories.
These strikes were very important for various reasons: they showed that the workers did not agree to be "slaughter meat"; they rejected the blatant attempt of the bosses to say that “everything was fine”, “everything was safe” and that the production had to be saved in any case; they showed that no emergency state could prevent workers to struggle for their own health and safety; they have exposed bare the hypocrisy of the bosses and the government who on the one hand wanted the whole population locked up in their houses and on the other hand the factories full of workers, the large centers of commercial logistics running with workers exploited to the bone and without personal protective equipment.
We can say with certainty that worker strikes prevented the massive spread of COVID-19 in factories.
Not only that, but this reaction of workers, in which the cobas were decisive, in the various organizations in which they are structured, including the class and combative organization led by our Party, forced the government and the bosses to make a first step back. Safety protocols were signed which, although insufficient, strengthened the workers protection structures and above all allowed workers to continue to escape, if the protocol was not applied, any dangerous work.
The spread of the pandemic, precisely in some of the areas with the greatest workers concentration, gave strength to the resistance of workers and forced the government to take a further step back, that of indicating the factories that could stay open because purposed to the production of essential goods and services and those that were to be closed. But the government and masters, with the complicity of the official unions, included among the factories to not be closed since strategic, the plants of imperialist multinational war industry, the iron and steel plants and other productive units that certainly do not produce "essential services". So the conflict and resistance in the factories, now explicit now in facts, continued.
Meanwhile, other major events were taking place outside the factories and jobs.
The revolt of the detainees exploded angrily in the prisons. Some of the biggest riots in the prisons in the last decades in our country. The prisoners immediately understood that no defense was possible against the virus and rebelled, starting from the prison in Modena. The reaction of the State immediately became violent, inside and outside the prisons hard clashes took place, with the prisoners who took possession of some wings of the prisons, set fire to and devastated parts of the facilities to make them instruments of resistance and face the murderous violence of the State. The revolt in few days reached all the prisons of our country, from North to South, also pushing family members and solidarity organizations to mobilize in support. The massacre inside the prisons left 16 inmates dead, and a number prisoners injured, tortured, deported and subjected to the harshest measures already implemented in prisons, those which were affecting the political prisoners belonging to the Red Brigades. In front of the prison in Milan and other cities, the police assaulted the demonstrations of the family members and solidarity organizations.
Proletarian Red Relief tirelessly bore his voice of support to prisoners, condemnation and unmasking of the lies by the State that claimed that the prisoners killed had actually died for overdose. At the same time, it gave voice to every document coming from prisons and family members, doing this on the whole national territory.
The revolt brought concrete results with the decision to release prisoners with minor penalties, but the State excluded the prisoners who had participated in the revolt from any benefit. The result is clear, compared to the 10,000 prisoners to be released, as assessed by democratic associations, even the pro-institutional ones, a maximum of two thousand came out so far. So the struggle goes on.
The prisoners were right to rebel. In the immediate following days, there were cases of COVID-19 in prisons, even if news of deaths, except one, and the real size of contagion are kept hidden.

The workers in struggle did not fail to make their solidarity felt through the cobas and they inserted the claim for an amnesty in their platform.

But at the front line in all these weeks there were the doctors and health workers who, in the face of the rampant outbreak of COVID-99, which has made Italy a "second China" for several weeks, were thrown into the fray barehands, deprived of the necessary protection and taking advantage of their unselfish, somtimes heroic, self-denial for the salvation of the sick. This has so far led to 126 doctors dead and numerous other deaths among nurses and healthcare workers in general, mainly in the pandemic epicenter, Lombardy.
The very core of this epicenter was the city of Bergamo, where there is a factory for every 50 inhabitants, which for a few days became a hospital and an open-air cemetery, the "Italian Wuhan". The very core of this epicenter has been the city of Bergamo, in whose area there is a factory for every 50 inhabitants, which for a few days became open-air hospital and cemetery, the "Wuhan of Italy".
Here also militants and activists of our Party and union saw their parents die, and the intertwining between incapacity of the local authorities and a privatized healthcare built as service for the rich, marked by corruption, led to the explosion of the pandemic in the Retirement Homes for the elderly, with thousands of deaths and with real data still hidden, which even the bourgeois press is forced to report, speaking of contagions ten times and deaths three times greater than those declared.
In this situation, the reaction of health workers and working class contingents was not long in coming. Without leaving their jobs they began to condemn, to claim and shout: "hit the those responsible who transformed the pandemic into a massacre!".
Still in the area of highest impact of the pandemic, other workers, younger, have been exposed to the infection, and only thanks their young age there was not a higher level of massacre. The postmen, the riders, the workers of the infamous Amazon daily tried to resist, asking the reduction of their work to the essential services and an effective personal protection.

In the central and southern parts of the country the situation is different. The struggles in the factories reached only some automotive plants and the ArcelorMittal steel plant of Taranto. Also in these factories the workers responded by absenting from work, in some days in massive forms and trying to organize strikes, partially successful and boycotted by the official unions. The government's ad hoc Acts offered the necessary cover for the masters to impose to continue working in the factories with several thousand workers inside. This, albeit in still slow pace, led the virus to the factories, to the ArcelorMittal in Taranto for example, and probably the game has not really started yet.
In the center-south, from the suburbs of Rome to the large concentrations of undeclared workers, street vendors in Campania, to the migrant fields laborers, to the poor in Sicily, along with the virus came the end of work, the lack of income, the difficulty of housing, rooted into precariousness and unemployment.
But even here, the fabric of organizations, social centers, housing committees, base unions structures have tried to respond by claiming incomes and houses, to a much more large extent than the alms given by government Acts.
In Palermo, Naples and Rome there have also been initiatives of open uprising, criminalized, repressed and attacked by the state and the mass media.

This is the general portrait of what has made Italy not only the European epicenter of the COVID-19 for several weeks, but also the site of an intense proletarian struggle significant for quality and quantity, which spread another contagion throughout Europe, the contagion of the class struggle.
Now we are at the eve of the “Phase 2” in which the masters and the government want to make profits again, based on exploitation, despite the pandemic is still fully active. But proletarians and people’s masses and their organizations, some born by spontaneity, some already organized, including the Maoists, their structures and their generated organizations, work to promote a general strike that can have a revolutionary character if it will be able to build a mass dimension in an increasingly accentuated state of emergency.

The experience our Party drew in this situation has been important. How to maintain its structure and work in spite of the confinement to houses and maximum control imposed. The experience our Party drew in this situation has been important. How to maintain its structure and work in spite of the confinement to houses and maximum control imposed. And the response it is giving is very positive, the activity did not stopped a single minute and has not been limited to the websites. The comrades have violated the state of siege by going to the factories, they have strengthened their theorethical work using the internet, with the help of Marxist intellectuals, and they are growing theoretically and politically. A not stereotyped and doctrinaire education, but a high and profound effort to arm ourselves with Marxism to give a strategic and programmatic response to the international situation of crisis of imperialism that produced the pandemic and the current scenario.
The determined action of the Party in all conditions has allowed the growth of influence and recognition throughout the field of revolutionaries of other tendencies, of class and combative unionism, of the women's movement and of organizations supporting the fight against prisons.
Of course, a difficult qualitative leap awaits us, but our links with the vanguards and the masses that make the Italian Maoists different and advanced are a great factor of strength and endurance which gives us hope that the qualitative leap will be achieved.

Pcm taly
21 avril 2020

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