g8 genoa diaz marco damilano

Ask what Diaz was, ask what happened in Genoa. Ask a twenty year old boy who was just born in 2001. What happened in that short summer that lasted two months. From the afternoon of July 20, when Carlo Giuliani fell into a pool of blood, to the afternoon of September 11 in New York. “The whole inhabited world changed”, are the words that the historian Ibn Khaldun wrote almost seven centuries ago about the black plague epidemic of 1348 that had taken away his parents, tragically current again in the last year with the pandemic of COVID-19. But the whole world had already changed twenty years ago, at the dawn of the century and the new millennium. When the bright globalization of the nineties – the fall of the walls, the new democratic agora Net – had shown its violent face. In New York. And even before that on the streets of Genoa.


An entire generation experienced an accelerated 1968, which lasted 48 hours: the push for mass change, which involved civil society, social centers, Catholic networks, party youth organizations, popular and peaceful demonstrations devastated by the ferocious use of street violence, those black blocs that came out of nowhere and returned to nothingness. The murder, the massacre, the suspension of constitutional guarantees in a school and a barracks, under the eyes of ministers of the Republic. The lie of the state that sheltered the top managers of the Mexican butchery, first of all the police chief of the time Gianni De Gennaro who never found a way to say a word of apology at least, unlike what he did eleven years after his successor Antonio Manganelli and then four years ago clearly Franco Gabrielli, now undersecretary: «If I had been Gianni De Gennaro I would have assumed my responsibilities with no ifs and buts. I would have resigned. For the good of the police ». And finally the ebb of those who were then twenty or thirty years old and who no longer wanted to know about a collective enterprise after the violent and lying encounter with politics and institutions. Genoa is also this: the lost opportunity, the end of the commitment, the chasm. The black hole into which everything fell.

The reconstruction

Genoa, 20 July 2001


“I started digging into my memory and remembered something I never got out of. When I say that those days changed my relationship with authority and with uniforms, I don’t think only of the fact that they beat us, and more and harder, but there are two specific facts that had a devastating effect on me as a child. In the evening, after the death of Carlo Giuliani, the choirs of the police: you are one less. And on the body of Carlo Giuliani there were the marks of the unlit cigarettes on him», Michele Rech Zerocalcare told me a few months ago, signing the shocking cover of this issue of Espresso. “What disappeared after Genoa was civil society. When something happened there were the ARCI, the Catholics and the social centers, city assemblies, each with its own modalities declined the same theme. The only ones who resisted are those who did not have a naïve approach to violence. All the others have been wiped out. ‘


The Italian Republic, with the men who are at the top of the institutions today, has the duty to tell the truth about those days twenty years ago, this is also the purpose of anniversaries. Especially if the images of the beatings in the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere revive the horror of state officials in uniform who beat, insult, spit, kneel inmates entrusted to them. The state has the duty to heal the wound of those days of suspension of democracy. And we in this and the next two issues retrace those days in Genoa 2001 with the memory and rigor of Simone Pieranni: Piazza Alimonda and Carlo Giuliani, the Diaz school, the Bolzaneto barracks. The torture, the insults, the humiliations, again the blood. The torture that brought Italy out of Europe. But what cannot be recovered is the generation left without politics. It ended up in anti-politics.

The new number

Genoa, July 2001: L’Espresso on newsstands and online from Sunday 4th July


“The day before the last big Flash of the G8 in Genoa, I was in Pegli with Gino Paoli: a fake ATM, a car to be demolished and Gino with a white overalls and a sledgehammer that smashed him, while from the stage I sang” Senza fine “. The advice I gave everyone was to stay away from the G8, it would be dangerous, and it was unnecessarily terrible. It was the last spontaneous mass phenomenon that predicted the near future in which everyone was represented. There was a representation of how the world would become shortly thereafter ». Beppe Grillo wrote it on his blog on 10 April 2017. He, a Genoese, wasn’t there at the G8, he was on the stage of the summer arena of Villa Doria in Pegli with his friend Gino Paoli, he was still a showman, no one would ever have imagined his transformation into a political leader.

But he spoke, even in those days, a month after the G8, in an interview with the Press. «I would have liked those of the Social Forum to have pretended to go to Genoa to demonstrate and then move us all to the sea, leaving thousands of policemen lined up to control empty streets and squares. But I am privileged: I look from a distance. The others, and now they are hundreds of thousands of people, need to make themselves visible. And they are right … What is the difference between today and ’68? The difference is that this is a movement that has a thousand souls: Greenpeace, Lilliput, fair trade, Catholics, the white suits. Its strength lies in its fragmentation. And in wanting to change something immediately, not everything tomorrow. This is why I am very afraid that someone may take his head and modify it by imposing a common strategy. I am afraid of a leader. And I’m even more afraid of him if he goes to talk to Costanzo ».


It is the same Grillo who today, twenty years later, founded the first Italian party and destroyed the figure of the former Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, after having created it. The fear of the leader is also the fear of having to leave the 5 Star Movement creature and the power to another. In between are these two decades. In which the dream of another possible world has been defeated, of another politics, as Stefano Rodotà called it, in the aftermath of the referendum victory over nuclear power, public water and justice when on the evening of 13 June 2011 twenty-seven million people leave at home to vote on referendums on public water, on energy, on equal justice for all. “In front of us is a movement that branches out throughout society, prehensile, capable of building a political agenda and imposing it … Women, girls and boys, precarious workers, workers, the world of school and culture have created a long chain that united different places, which stretched over time, which made social consensus grow around real issues ”(Repubblica”, June 16, 2011).


Not an anti-political revolt, but the demand for politics, for another politics. Defeated in recent years, after being raped in Genoa. It can be seen in the ruling classes of the center-left parties, far from those experiences, unlike what happened in other Mediterranean countries, in Spain, in Greece, where Pablo Iglesias and Alexis Tsipras, however you want to judge their parable, arrived at the government of their countries starting from the streets of Genoa. This can be seen in civil society that has stayed away from politics. And from the quality of the battles and campaigns. Today the squares are filled with the boys and girls of Gay Pride who demonstrate collectively for their individual rights, starting with that of not being discriminated against. And then the freedom to choose one’s identity, gender, personal happiness. It is as if the other possible world had shrunk for everyone to the confines of their own existence. The very young parades of Fridays for Future evaporated during the pandemic: perhaps precisely because of the impossibility of a relationship with politics. And in Italy, lastly, the Sardine movement was a symptom of the disease, the separation between society and politics, but also the demonstration of the impossibility of a relationship. Because the other politics is the aspiration to change, but also the construction of politics: the rules of conflict, one generation that clashes with the other, the conquest of power, not a gala dinner.


The other policy is politics. Without politics there is pure management, reliance on decision-making bodies extraneous to democratic mechanisms, or the pursuit of the people of which the historian Giovanni Orsina with David Allegranti speaks in a book just published for Luiss University Press: “If the anti-politics is based on politics, it also ends up by placing itself on the same level. If the quality of the one drops, the quality of the other decreases accordingly ». It is the story of the last few years and the last few days. Between Beppe Grillo and Giuseppe Conte, the real anti-politician was the second, the former prime minister who claimed to be party leader by virtue of having led the government. A leadership descended from above, artificial, shaped by the strategists of communication and by the flatterers who built it in the newspapers, but without root in reality. While Beppe Grillo, once again, proved to have the sense of timing, ferocity and cynicism of the charismatic political leader, the strenuous defense of what has been built. The storm that shakes the 5 Star Movement, the center of the political spectrum, threatens to hit the whole system, when Sergio Mattarella’s white semester starts and you can overturn the tables without paying the price of early voting. But the political vacuum began from there, from those streets of Genoa twenty years ago. And from that demand for change crushed with violence by the men who wore the uniform of the democratic state.


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

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