No Summits on Our heads: Angry Promises from Italy

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(Have they taken everything from you? 16-17-18 October, Turin, No summit on our heads)

From a friend of Autonomies

For some, the most appropriate measure to take during times of crisis is the organization of summits. European leaders couldn’t have found a more adequate term to describe the flagrant disparities between their positions and those who lie at the margins. The CEB Summit in Naples has perhaps already inaugurated a season of struggles against it all: the government, the state, capital and all that which lies between. In Milan, a summit on jobs was held this Wednesday. Protests were simultaneously organized. Italy might be on the verge of reliving the days of the 2008 G8 summit, with yet another summit planned to take place in Turin during this month. For the others, who are figuratively and politically far away from summits, an alternative must be created.

The following is a translation of an editorial from infoaut.org

An autumn of struggle was initiated yesterday in Naples, with a spiritless aperitif. Confronted by the limited political resonance of the events (contrary to the widely held expectations) during the siege of the Central European Bank (CEB) Summit, we believe some reflections and proposals might be useful (given that, again, the autumn is before us).

The first priority is to put into focus the social and economic situation at hand and its implications for our activities in all the Italian cities. The deterioration of the material conditions of life in vast sections of the population calls for responding to these needs with an active social representation. The growing intolerance towards the invisible enemy of austerity and of financial accounts, which hide behind the more or less ‘amiable’ or ‘unpleasant’ figures presiding over the different governments or sitting in the European Commission or the CEB, cannot and should not remain without interpretation and political direction. We have to provide such direction, ours must be such interpretation. Alternatively, whose should it be? Of the Lega? Of Casapound? Of the government itself?

Let us look around. The social misery finds no expression (as a notion of representation) in any political form. At times, it seems that we are waiting for a spontaneous explosion from social movements, that would originate in the schools, in the urban peripheries, or in some other source; and that we may consider inadequate for the risks we want to take in the current conditions, for fear of not being understood, or supported by those who we would like to involve with us in the future. This is the wrong approach. Political growth, through consensus or conflict, is not always contingent upon ready-made social conditions that are freely given. Unless we get involved, unless we send out messages in the form of practical and direct illustrations of a potential active response (not passive, neither reactionary) against the attacks of the apparatuses of crisis, we will never become a point of reference for the social segments along with which we would like to organize.

Because this is our objective. Or maybe not? It is not always clear. Sometimes, it seems that we are approaching a deadline because we have to do it, because the show must come to an end, better yet if the ending is with some smoke and some fireworks. It is better than nothing, granted, but this is not the only way to begin the season that awaits us. An October that seemed to be centered around the social blockade of the 16th, is now revealing itself to be populated with events that are politically crucial, such as the European Summit on Youth Employment in Milan (8 October) or the Summit on Unemployment, Youth and their ‘Rights’ in Turin (17-18- October). These dates are not tiles which are falling on our heads, nor are they the occasions to take the streets out of moral duty, as if subversion is a dreary operation, coming from above. On the contrary, they are occasions to allow the energies that we seek to accumulate; to express themselves in medium term political activism.

These dates (and all other dates) that we give ourselves in different cities are opportunities to test the availability of the social tensions to grow and to become political. In the possibility of social conflict, we must believe; and not limit ourselves to brandishing only the concept. To believe means, of course, to operate every day in territories in order to establish a rich vision and diverse practices: on this, there is no doubt. But it also means knowing when to back down every time this is possible, in order to again precipitate and render mature what has already been created. Without one of these two elements, the aggregate that is called an “antagonist” is a contradiction in terms: we risk becoming a counter culture or transgressive, however much in good faith, while thinking the opposite.

Politics is not a linear process of power accumulation, as believed by those for whom it is never the right time, or for those who think that the times are never mature enough. Politics, first and foremost orients itself towards transformation, it proceeds through upsurges and traumas, and this is how the substance of the alternative is condensed. It evidently resists the political classification of ‘movement’, still so very much alive and thriving everywhere, for which then action is imagined as a pure and simple gesture of managed contradiction. Figures that are recycled from one phase to the other in order to stay afloat and highlighted sometimes remain obscure as to their real contribution and their availability for the conflict we are seeking.

It happens so that the police is asked to kindly allow us to pass through, ‘out of courtesy’… Those are marginal episodes, for sure (although revealing). And let us not raise issues of principle; for they are always clearly of little interest. It is true that today territorial confrontations between the different social strata is not a question of good manners, and the police is part of this, and as such , they must not be viewed as a counterpart with which it is possible to reason; except at the risk of losing the very meaning and foundation of social relations. It is short sighted to consider that what we construct in the territories, or in other parts, or within the collectivities of comrades; as ‘assets’ that must be protected during the potential confrontations, rather than the political evil – the negative! – upon which we can cultivate and strengthen a project of undermining the existing order (at the cost of convictions, injuries and arrests) is short sighted. Better injured and arrested while on a genuine path, better willing to risk in order to become stronger; that free and intact while the country paddles with the hands of politicians and the hands of the Right.

We do not live mobilizations that are awaiting us as if we were on a path of Damascus, heavy with predictions rooted in superstitious facts, nor as mere occasions to enumerate a series of frigid appointments, which were picked from different tables and then returned to those same tables, as a rite. We conceive of them as moments in which we operate genuine attempts at the constitution of struggles. We do not build a vision of ‘movement’ from the episodes of tensions and debate that exist in the country, as if we almost have a separate story or as if we were a specific thing. This is not the ‘alternative’. In antagonism, there are no assignments, for anyone and from anyone: we use creativity.

The situation is not simple, no one denies this. So what? We have already seen that when explosions are spontaneous (in electoral terms or in the squares), the reaction of many is to turn their heads away. Whatever! We are taking the streets now and lifting signs saying: on these grounds, on these agreements, those of you suffering from the crisis, come with us. Do not panic if you do not see everyone now. Our role is to constitute in the facts a material possibility, one that is made of concrete activations, one that is neither a ritual nor a more or less righteous discourse. We can construct it in time with gatherings, radicalization, imagination, but definitely in the end, with mobilization. Let’s take the streets, let’s experiment, let’s try all the forms; but let us realize that in these our times, there is no room for the half-hearted.

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