A trade unionist should be on a picket line. And yet, this Friday, October 15, it was in front of the national headquarters of the Italian General Confederation of Labor (Cgil) that there were about fifteen activists. Since Saturday, October 9, they take turns day and night. And for good reason, that day, on the sidelines of a demonstration against the sanitary pass, incited by neofascists, dozens of people broke into the premises of the first Italian trade union organization, injuring police officers, destroying equipment and trashing a work of art.
On the facade, the gigantic portrait of the historic union leader Luciano Lama, whose hundredth anniversary is being celebrated, was stolen, a unionist told us: “They must have taken it as a trophy. He will be replaced. In the meantime, as a symbol of resistance, dozens of red flags are planted in the planters on the sidewalk. “We must greet the cleaning ladies,” says Silvana. Everything was put back in order, they started at 4 a.m. on Sunday and ended at 4 a.m. the next day. It was the workers’ house that was taken by storm.
But of this, some, in the afternoon, did not seem to be aware. Circo Massimo, a few thousand people against the health pass which became compulsory on that day in the workplace had met around the lawyer Edoardo Polacco. Less than a week after the attack, the lawyer, who multiplies the recourse against the incitement to vaccination, launches: “The difference between us and the unions, it is that they diffuse fables, we defend the facts. . (…) Until yesterday, we did not know where the unions had escaped. We didn’t even know where the Cgil headquarters was! “And the crowd shouting:” Sold! Sold! Some right-wing groups are moving like a fish in water in a movement without real demands or clear opponents. Some demonstrators, however, share with us their indignation at a “political maneuver”, putting the neofascists in the same lot as the parliamentary parties.
The far right weighs 40%
This normalization of neofascists is also the act of the state. On October 12, the Constitutional Court ruled that the offense of apologizing for fascism was not constituted for four activists of Lealta Azione, who had raised their arms during a commemoration of the Italian Social Republic, the last regime of Benito Mussolini, between 1943 and 1945. This use of the Roman salute is not an offense, because it was not a demonstration, but a commemoration, ruled the Court. During the demonstration on Saturday, October 9, the police seemed to have failed to appreciate the danger posed by the Cgil headquarters and let the demonstrators approach it. Since then, measures have been taken. The leaders of Forza Nuova, accused of having instigated the attack, were arrested and are being held in detention. One is Roberto Fiore, representative of the violent extreme right of the 1980s. The other is Giuliano Castellino, who has already been banned from demonstrating and sentenced to prison for assaulting journalists.
This underestimation of the neofascists is also found on the extreme right which sits on the benches of the opposition for Brothers of Italy and of the government for the League. These two parties condemned “violence” in general, having a good time putting that of the neofascists on the same level as that of the “social centers”, held by the extreme left. Above all, they turn a blind eye to the influence in their ranks of nostalgic groups, such as Casapound in Rome and Lealta Azione in Milan (see opposite).
It was time to say stop. They were tens of thousands, in Rome, to parade at the call of the three trade union confederations to say “never again fascisms”. Pietro, metallurgist from Fiom-Cgil in Reggio Emilio, was present. “We experienced this attack as an attack against all of us, against the working world,” he testifies. He does not think that there is a danger of generalization of violence in the immediate future, but “the danger exists if people do not realize it”.
Not far from a banner of the teachers which takes up the partisan slogan “Now and always, resistance!” “, Transformed for the occasion into” Now and always, knowledge! », We find Luca. This young activist from the Italian Leisure and Culture Association (Arci) works in schools on the theme of the fight against discrimination. More at the “request of young people than teachers”, he underlines. He notes that young people have “misinformation” that makes them “light on certain issues”. They are more attracted to “slogans” than “concepts”. This favors the extreme right. “With culture, we are less afraid,” hopes the volunteer.
An activist from the UIL union cuts through the crowd, wearing a chasuble “Vaccinated since April 25, 1945”, the date of the liberation of Italy. He walks past high school and college students chatting. They deplore not only neofascist violence, but also the importance of the far right. Between the League and Brothers of Italy, it weighs 40% of voting intentions. “They help to forge the image of a common enemy,” the migrant, deplores Lorenzo. Valeria, her comrade, is worried about “obstructionism against civil rights”, in reference to the right to abortion or to discrimination against LGBT + people.
The memory of 1921
Also in the procession, the National Association of Italian Partisans, the organization of former resistance fighters which opened up to post-war generations. Under the banner of the Milan committee, Longhi, in his fifties, explains his participation: “We are against those who want to revive the squadronism of the 1920s.” The sacking and burning of the Bologna labor exchange in January 1921, marked the beginning of the fascist march to power, which took place in October 1922. He denounces the mixing of genres: the Lombardy region, led by the League, “supports certain initiatives of the neofascist group Lealta Azione”.
At the end of the demonstration, in Piazza San Giovanni, the union secretaries take the floor. Luigi Sbarra, leader of the Christian powerhouse, the ICFTU, demanded that the democratic parties “be united in the demand for the dissolution of neofascist organizations”. For the time being, the right-wing parties refuse to do so. Maurizio Landini, secretary of the Cgil recalled that being “anti-fascist does not mean being against someone. It is to defend democracy and the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution ”, which must become“ the pole star for the reconstruction of the country ”.
Saturday’s demonstration is not an epidermal reaction from unions and left-wing parties. This neofascist violence occurred at the end of a demonstration against the sanitary pass. “These expressions are based on an objective unease of the people. This is the reason why we have added to the themes of the event that of inequalities. We would like to remind you that on this theme the inter-union has been present for a long time, demanding quality work, the end of precariousness, social shock absorbers ”, analysis for Humanity Roberto Ghiselli, confederal secretary of the Cgil. The anti-fascist struggle is not just about interpreting the past. It must build the future.