Dear Calella, it was repression that imposed the boundaries of today’s desert

I would like to thank Giulio Calella, co-founder and president of Edizioni Alegre and member of the Jacobin Italia desk, for this intervention which takes up some concepts already expressed on the Jacobin website. A newspaper serves this purpose, to reason, to discuss, if necessary to argue, it is an open and exposed border, not a border to be guarded.

G8 / Twenty years later

Dear Damilano, anti-politics was not born in Genoa

When we imagined a serial work on the twenty years of the G8 in Genoa, we set ourselves two objectives. Provide a rigorous and truthful reconstruction of what happened in those July days: the three articles by Simone Pieranni on Piazza Alimonda, Diaz school and Bolzaneto barracks represent a page of great journalism and will remain as a testimony for the many boys and girls who were not yet born in 2001. To them, to those who today feel the injustices in the world intolerable, to those who were not there, we have dedicated these special issues with the cover of Zerocalcare.
With the intervention of Massimo Cacciari, Federica Bianchi’s interview with Alexis Tsipras, Matteo Macor’s reportage from the Diaz school twenty years later, we wanted to reach the second objective, to open a cultural and political debate. Free the Genoa movement from the ghost of repression. In this spirit, I reply to Calella who disputes my definition of the G8 in Genoa as a ’68 that lasted 48 hours and that there was a direct relationship between the end of that movement and the birth of a powerful anti-political current which resulted in the Vaffaday of Beppe Grillo of 2007 and then in the 5 Star Movement.


I was there too in those moments that followed Genoa and that Calella remembers: the Perugia-Assisi peace march in 2001, with the leaders of the center-left challenged by the procession for having voted in Parliament a few hours before the go-ahead for the mission in Afghanistan which is now ending, the manifestation of the CGIL of the Circus Maximus on 23 March 2002, the Social Forum of Florence in November 2002, the immense demonstration of peace on Saturday 15 February 2003, with rainbow flags in every corner of the country.
It seemed that those movements could unite, after marching divided: the young people of the social forums and the metalworkers of Fiom with the professors of the girotondi, the Catholics of the pacifist networks like Lilliput and the parties. Yes, the parties. Because it is true that the leaders of the DS preached the liberal revolution and Blairism, only to think about it a few decades later. But Calella forgets that on the streets of Genoa and in subsequent demonstrations there were even deputies and senators elected on the center-left lists, some of them even flew to Porto Alegre, and there were above all the base, the youth organizations, the territories, trade unions. Without which a mass movement could not have been born.
If I browse my notes from those years I find conversations with Father Alex Zanotelli, Gino Strada, Tiziano Terzani. The imprint of an open-air political laboratory, in which passions and ideals merged, alongside many naiveties and contradictions. It was this mixture that gave the movements a widespread strength in the country. And this was the aim of the repression in Genoa: to prevent the movement from becoming political, to enclose it in an asphyxiated perimeter of protest or testimony, but without the possibility not only of victory, but also of intercepting the demands for change that were stirring in that dawn of the millennium. Political, social, economic, cultural change, as was the long Italian 1968, which lasted more than a generation.
This dimension required a pluralistic and complex human chain to be governed because it was horizontal, without leadership, and required that parties, trade unions, movements and civil society in that chain try to hold hands. Once the chain was broken, with state violence blessed by right-wing governments that season, it was easier to isolate and defeat everyone.
Of course, in that movement there coexisted many conflicting forces. And there is no telling what would have resulted from their remixing. Blaming all the blame on the police does not therefore serve to create excuses for a great missed opportunity for which the protagonists bear responsibility first of all.


The question is only one: why wasn’t another politics, another left, born from that laboratory? From ’68, the long one, remained a controversial but vital legacy. A lot of things happened between 2001 and 2007, even if it is surreal to hear (not from Calella, not about Jacobin) claiming among the post-Genoa successes the birth of the second Prodi government by those who contributed to overthrowing that experience and he passed from Trotsky to Conte without too many identity crises and without any pain. It has happened that the parties of the center-left, the DS and the Margherita, have interpreted their role as the management and conservation of the existing on the ideological level. While the Communist PRC who preached that he wanted to change everything, in reality he was concerned above all with preserving his own ruling class, starting with the rise of Fausto Bertinotti to the presidency of the Chamber, not exactly the privileged position to change the balance of power, if anything to petrify them. . I do not believe that the election of Vittorio Agnoletto to the European Parliament and above all the appointment as deputy with the Porcellum of Francesco Caruso, which perhaps in the following years we would have found in the lists of the 5 Star Movement, are not the successes of the movement. I don’t think the movement marched in Genoa to achieve these results.


I believe that interrupting a difficult government experience to defend party and micro-current leadership groups (which is even worse when simulating radicalism) was a disastrous mistake that paved the way for the government of the right and a left without more identity and roots. And I think the separation between parties and movements was a tragedy. It has made parties more closed, more immersed in their labyrinthine logics of perpetuating power. And it made the movements more lonely and more self-referential.
When the anti-politics prophets finally arrived, they found deserted ground. In 2011, the victory of the referendums over public water (which I also recalled as an important moment quoting Stefano Rodotà) was used by the 5 Star Movement: public water was the first of the five stars of the symbol. We did not have Alexis Tsipras and Pablo Iglesias, nor the socialist Pedro Sanchez, but Luigi Di Maio and Matteo Renzi, leaders of the same age or even younger than the Genoa 2001 generation but who represent the politics of our times, individualistic, conformist, eager to approval, male chauvinist. A story of personal affirmation, not the collective struggle that climate change, layoffs, exploitation of work, insecurity, territories that die without representation require. There remain the forces of resistance in society that make politics, which are the other politics, we tell them every week, in this work of mending relations in the exhausted country. But we cannot forget these twenty years of repression.


Source: L'Espresso – News, inchieste e approfondimenti Espresso by espresso.repubblica.it.

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