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#ItalianRevolution

In Italy on 21 April 2013 at 12:43
Sandro Pertini, president of Italy (1978-1985): "If a government doesn't do what the people want, it has to be brought down, with clubs and stones if necessary."

Sandro Pertini, president of Italy (1978-1985): “If a government doesn’t do what the people want, it has to be brought down, with clubs and stones if necessary.”

April 21, 1440 hrs

Dear people,

Imagine, in the UK, 2013, John Major returning to be prime minister. It sounds a bit ridiculous, doesn’t it? Especially if you hypothesise him leading a government of the Conservatives and Labour combined. But in Italy, something like this is likely to happen. After striking a deal with Berlusconi over the presidency of the republic the Italian ‘Labour’ party is about to jump in bed with the media tycoon’s private political party and nominate Giovanni Amato as prime minister. Amato has already been prime minister of Italy in the 1990s.

This is one of the reasons why many Italians are exasperated. The faces never change. In other civilized countries, politics may be just as crappy, but at least your average politician leaves the scene after five or eight years, so you always have someone new to complain about. In Italy, governments come and go, parties change their names, but the people behind them, creating the problems, are always the same people who propose themselves to clean up the mess. They are not even elected. They are nominated by the party hierarchies.

Italy has known roughly two political generations since World War 2. The first one lasted for forty years, and is linked to the name Giulio Andreotti. The second one has been going on for  about twenty years, and is linked to the name Berlusconi. It’s doubtful whether the Italians will ever get rid of them. Berlusconi’s private doctor, the ex-mayor of Catania, has publicly declared to have made Berlusconi immortal. Andreotti as well, the 94-year old senator for life, is rumoured to be immortal because he has supposedly sold his soul to the devil.

These people are running Italy as their private property, in the interest of shady individuals and unincorporated organizations. They will not gladly allow new people into the club. Politicians in their fifties are considered babies, not to be taken seriously. Everyone else has to accept a society that is based on patriarchal clientelism, in which it doesn’t matter what you are capable of, but whom you are connected to. For educated youngsters there are only two options. Either you bow your head and you adapt, or you emigrate.

The re-election of an 88-year president is symbolic for a political class that is desperate to keep clinging onto power whatever it takes. For the establishment, the Five Star Movement is an enemy that needs to be neutralised, because it’s people powered, it could lift up the rocks of Italian politics and expose all the creepy life forms going about their dirty business undisturbed.

To make change in Italy, a few things need to happen. First, all these nauseating figures who have been recycling themselves for ages need to be prohibited to run for office again. Second, an independent and apolitical commission will need to look into their conduct to ascertain criminal responsibilities. But before this, the entire Italian political and judicial system will need to be trashed.

They say Italy has about as many laws as all other countries combined. It’s a jungle, which makes it particularly easy for anyone who is able to afford a good lawyer to remain out of prison. And indeed, the only people who actually go to prison are the immigrants and the drug addicts. The fat cats never will. Let me give you a comparison. Italy is like a computer with some old proprietary operating system installed, say Windows 3.1, and thousands upon thousands of patches to make it somewhat up to date. On top of that, you have thousands more of generally useless proprietary programs whose files are dispersed over completely arbirtrary folders. It results in the computer being unbearably slow and opaque.

Many politicians have promised to solve this problem. Berlusconi has, but never did. Monti has, but never did. All they did was add some more patches and programs. Of course there is only one real solution. A complete format of the hard drive – a revolution – followed by the installation of the latest version of an open source operating system that allows everybody to creatively participate. The processor speed, the country’s creative potential, is amazing. If it weren’t for all the crap that weighs it down, it would be the best.

A quote that went viral on Twitter last night, was a message by Italy’s most beloved president, Sandro Pertini: “If a government doesn’t do what the people want, then it has to be brought down, with clubs and stones if necessary.”

Today, the #ItalianRevolution continues. There is no other choice. The political class has to be swept away one way or another. The country’s hard drive needs to be formatted if Italy wants to live another renaissance.

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Tutti a Roma!

In Italy, Rome on 20 April 2013 at 18:25
Tutti a Roma, April 20, photo via @_0Marco0_

Tutti a Roma, April 20, photo via @_0Marco0_

April 20, 2122 hrs

Dear people,

It’s going down, right now, in Rome.

Seven years ago, the Berlusconi party cried wolf when Giorgio Napolitano was elected president without Berlusconi’s consent. I still remember the headline of his personal newspaper. “As from today, the hammer and the sickle are flying over the presidential palace”, in reference to Napolitano once having been a member of the Italian Communist Party.

Now, Berlusconi has been one of the architects of Napolitano’s re-election, together with Mario Monti and left wing leader Bersani. They hadn’t been able to convince their backbenchers to agree on two other candidates who would guarantee the status quo – and impunity for Berlusconi – so they settled on the 88-year old incumbent president, simply because he hasn’t made trouble for anyone during his first mandate.

The Italian gerontocrats will do everything to cling on to power, and to prevent change from happening. Because they know that when it happens, they will all be swept away into the gutters of history, like had happened to the previous generation of Andreotti/Craxi over twenty years ago.

The people’s candidate, investigative journalist Milena Gabanelli, proposed by the Five Star Movement, had previously declined the honour. So the movement proposed the next on the list, professor Stefano Rodotà, by far the cleanest of all candidates, and as such, the most dangerous for the establishment.

If the left wing party had decided to vote Rodotà, it would have been a clear signal that they were willing to commit to change. But they are not. They prefer to strike deals with a criminal like Berlusconi and a banker like Mario Monti. It leaves the Italian people no option but to rise up and make revolution.

That is what’s happening at this moment. Tens of thousands of people are converging on parliament to demand an end to twenty years of backdoor deals, corruption, impunity and a sell-out of the country to organized crime.

Beppe Grillo is descending on Rome from Friuli and inviting everyone, anywhere, to join him, in order to sweep away the dinosaurs and pave the way for a new Italy.

Of course, he is very well aware of the eery historical comparison that a ‘March on Rome’ evokes… In October  1922, in the midst of the economic and social chaos that followed World War One, Benito Mussolini led his ‘blackshirts’ to the capital, demanding to form a government. The king, afraid more of the communists than of the fascists, consented…

There are hardly any fascists now any more, only the same old class of politicians against a people that is sick and tired of business as usual. So keep an eye on Rome, and if you’re there, join it. Now is the time, finally, to dump these decrepit politicians on the junk yard of history. It’s where they belong.

Watch the livestream:

News and Footage of #14N

In Lisbon, Portugal on 15 November 2012 at 19:36

Dear people,

Here is some footage of yesterday’s European General Strike.

Madrid:

Lisbon:

Rome:

Milan:

Police aggression against minors in Tarragona:

Check also the overview of  European protests by the Guardian, RT and RoarMag

Colli Albani

In Italy, March to Athens on 22 January 2012 at 22:50

March to Athens
Day 76-II, Frattocchie to Velletri. 22 km.

Velletri, January 22

Dear people,

We were happy to lift our tents early from the parking lot in Frattocchie and move. We had two alternatives. One was to go straight over the new Via Appia, and the other was to pass through the hills.

Most of us, me included, we took the hills. I colli albani. There’s nothing left here to testify, but this used to be an ancient nation, older than Rome itself. According to legend, the ancestors of Romulus the legendary founder of Rome ruled over these hills as kings. Now it’s a natural park where the pope has his holiday home.

In the middle there’s a lake which seems to be a big crater. We stop for a panoramic view and to have a snack. For me this is only the second day, but some people here have been on the road for two and a half months. As long as the entire March on Brussels. And they’re not even half way.

Compared to the Brussels march, this one doesn’t have the same political or revolutionary meaning. We don’t hold many popular assemblies, and we don’t have a real goal, aside from going to Athens, ‘for democracy’. It’s a survival march, and we are nomads emigrating to the South in the dead of winter.

We walk only about twenty kilometres per day, but with gear it’s more than enough. It’s just about as hard as thirty kilometres without.

Other than in France, the people in the villages are not ashamed to ask you who you are, where you are from and where you are going. This way we do some diffusion. We reap a lot of goodwill, but little more than that.

For our daily meals we cannot rely only on popular support. So we practice ‘recycling’. This means that certain squads of ‘hunters’ go out to local bakkeries, pizzerias, fruit stores etc. to recuperate food that would otherwise be thrown away. Other rich hunting grounds are the dumpsters of the supermarkets. You can find sacks full of perfectly edible vegetables in between the trash. Enough to make a big pan of soup for forty hungry walkers on a fire barrel in the parking lot.

“The days are never the same,” our comrade from Finland says, “that’s what I like about this march.”

We descend on the small town of Velletri. We’re lucky, today there is a procession in honour of Sant’Antonio Abate. At nightfall, a drum band marches through the old streets, followed by horses and cavaliers in medieval outfit, holding torches.

Rome is a watershed. When you go South of her, things start to change. This is a first taste of it.

We spend the night in a splendid country villa. It has been inherited by one of our comrades from the Popular Assembly of Rome, and she was glad to open her doors for the march. So truly, every day is different. But that is just about as exciting as it is exhausting…

 

Via Appia

In Italy, March to Athens on 21 January 2012 at 22:18
March to Athens.
Day 75-I, Rome to Frattocchie. 20km.

Departure from Piazza del Popolo

Frattocchie, January 21

Dear people,

This morning around half past eleven some thirty people left from Piazza del Popolo to continue the March to Athens.

I walk along with them. I’m not promissing you I will do the entire march, nor that I will report on it every day like I did with the March on Brussels. But for now, I’m here, because this might become another memorable adventure.

The group before departure

We are walking with limited gear. Comrade Manuel from Audiovisuals of Acampada Sol goes along with us in his camper. He alone is worth an entire audiovisual crew, and he also brings the tents and the kitchen. The rest we carry on our shoulders.

It took us about one and a half hour to do the Via del Corso, because near parliament the carabinieri brought our march to a halt. They wanted us to walk around the block, but some of us are very hard headed. “Why can everybody pass, except us?”

After long deliberation, they let us through, two by two, under escort. While we passed Monti’s residence we were singing old songs of the partisans, and of the briganti, the bandits who roamed the south of Italy in the late nineteenth century.

Marching along the Corso

At the gate of San Giovanni, where we camped for over ten days, we left the city, and a little further down we took the Via Appia Antica. The old Roman road to Brindisi.

It’s a very evocative route. There are almost no cars and in many places you still walk on the original Roman stones. There are pine trees and Roman ruins on both sides. It’s like strolling through a painting from the romantic age. We’re on the paths of history here. You can feel it.

Still, as lovely as it may seem, this road is haunted by a lot of spirits.

Advancing over the ancient Via Appia

In the early first century BC, the Roman Republic was briefly shaken by an army of rebellious slaves, led by the legendary Macedonian gladiator Spartacus. Together with all the other slaves of the gladiator school where they learned to amuse the Romans with their blood, he rose up one day and went on a rampage of the South. Estate after estate was attacked, their slaves liberated and incorporated into the swelling army.

Various legions were sent down to quell the rebellion. But they were defeated. Spartacus was not only a gladiator, he was also a fine general. After a string of victories his army was master of the South. The Roman senators were furious, and a little nervous as well.

At that point the richest man of Rome, banker and real estate tycoon Marcus Licinius Crassus, personally took control of eight legions, some of which he financed out of his own pocket, and set off to crush the revolt.

Via Appia at dusk

In the end, Crassus won. And he decided to set an example. Every one of the surviving slaves was crucified. They were erected like lamp posts, right here along the Via Appia, all the way from Rome to Capua. Six thousand slaves in total.

After that, Italy has never again experienced a wide scale revolution.

We arrive in Frattocchie when it’s already dark. There’s nothing here. We camp on a parking place and we cook on a wood fire in a small aluminum barrel. The adventure is under way. I’m curious to see where it will take us.

On Pasolini

In Italy, Rome on 10 January 2012 at 16:59
Rome, January 10

Dear people,

I wake up in the cold morning to take a walk through Rome. There are so many stories to tell about this place that I don’t know where to start. I won’t start at all. I’m here to report on the revolutionary movement of the indignados, and besides, to be perfectly honest, I don’t really like contemporary Rome.

Rome is all about tourism and shopping. You can find that anywhere. Instead of a visit to this city I definitely prefer a well written book about it.

So I wonder, not about all the monuments, but about the great Italian thinker Pier Paolo Pasolini. He saw it coming. In the sixties and seventies Pasolini was one of the most fervent critics of modern capitalism. He decried the devastating effects of the economic boom on popular culture. He witnessed how the traditional meeting places of the Roman people – le bettole – slowly disappeared as people were induced to stay home and watch tv.

He went as far as to say that capitalism was even worse than fascism, because under the surface of Italian fascist rhetoric there was still an Italian people with local customs and traditions.

Capitalism destroys the soul. It has wiped out countless cultures on a global level. Italian culture today isn’t fundamentally different from French, Spanish or American culture. We have all adapted to the same way of life. If there are still differences, they are differences of flavour, not of substance.

Typically, Pasolini was also very critical of the social upheaval in the late 1960s. When one of the Roman faculties of architecture was occupied in 1968 and students armed with red flags were shouting proletarian slogans to the police, he couldn’t surpress an ironic smile. ‘Look at yourselves. You are all figli di papà, sons and daughters of the bourgeoisie. You have the privilege to go to university. The real proletarians, the sons of the working class are the police officers on the other side of the barricades.’

I wonder what Pasolini would have thought about the movement of the indignados. In the end, we are denouncing the same ferocious capitalism that he had warned against when it had only just begun to assimilate the peoples and nations of Europe.

Pasolini wanted to preserve the authenticity of cultures, but for us, a generation or two down the road, it’s too late. We can’t go back. For better or worse, the world is globalised, and so our revolution will have to be a global one. If we can’t reclaim our culture, as humans, we can at least reclaim our human dignity.

15M Takes to the Hills

In Spain on 9 December 2011 at 16:36
Piedralaves, December 9
Dear people,

Once upon a time – they say – you could cross all of Spain from the Pyrennees to the Strait of Gibraltar without touching the ground, swinging from tree to tree.

Those times are long gone. Human deforestation has turned much of the peninsula into an arid plain. Many of the old forests were cut to build the fleets that sailed the Indies, just like the ancient forests of Sicily were cut by the Romans to build the ships with which mighty Carthage was subdued.

Wood workshop, the master's touch

To find some forests still, you have to take to the hills. And that is exactly what we did. We are in the woods just above the village of Piedralaves, about a hundred kilometers north of Madrid.

The place is a former holiday resort that was ceded to activists of the 15M last September. This weekend they opened up their doors to the public. Now, I don’t know how many people they expected, but they created an invasion. We are hundreds of people from all over Spain.

Yesterday morning we arrived. I had only heard about this project the day before, and so I hooked up with a couple of comrades from Madrid, and with comrade Canario from the March on Brussels.

I had expected something completely different, like a country community based on agriculture and aimed at self sufficiency. I had to abbandon that thought immediately. A holiday resort it was, and a holiday resort it still is. Only now it’s run by hippies.

For me, it’s a bit too much. I have an innate allergy for things that smell of new age philosophy and the likes. I will gladly opt out of the ‘get to know yourself’ workshops. But still, I can appreciate the initiative. For example, another of the workshops focussed on listening to each other. Five minutes, without interrupting, then you switch. People were enlightened afterwards. And I can understand that.

From personal experience I know that many people, probably most people, have grave difficulties with listening to each other. All they care about is talking. Either because they don’t really care what other people think, or because they are frightened of silence.

If there is anything that the 15M movement has reached, mainly through speaking turns in the assemblies, is that it got people to shut up and open their ears. With difficulty sometimes, that’s obvious, but nonetheless, it worked. And the fact that people are getting used to listening can only be positive.

The resort is a good business. But unlike normal holiday resorts it also allows for people to pitch their own tents and cook their own food. And even though it’s not the germ of a countryside revolution that I hoped it would be, it also has a lot of practical workshops, and it can serve as an incubator.

Many people you meet here have experiences in organical agriculture and alternative consumption models. And through them I got to know that modern countryside societies which are largely self sufficient already exist in various places in Spain.

It’s this practical side of the revolution that I’m most interested in, more than in ‘getting to know myself’. But maybe, just maybe, that’s only because I’m terribly frightened to discover what kind of horrible person I really am…

Take care 😉

Oscar