The Italianist

Things That Happen in Italy

Black Bloc, the Invisible Hand

with 5 comments

We’ve all seen what happened in Rome last Saturday. What was meant to be a peaceful demonstration, displaying empathy to the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US, turned into destruction of the city and violent clashes between the police and the protesters. Those responsible for it, surprise surprise, are still them: the Black-Bloc.

A quick Wikipedia search reveals that ‘Black Bloc’(BB) is not a group, an organized anarchist faction, etc., but is “a strategy”. Which in itself says something very interesting: being a BB means to wear black clothes, and a black helmet. It is easy to be a BB. In Italy, BB have a particularly strange vampire-like behaviour: they sleep for most of the time, and then suddenly wake up at anti-government protests.

We saw this in Rome last week as well. Suddenly, out of the blue (of the black?), the BB appeared and brought havoc into the protest: the police, eventually, broke in, the protesters (all of them) were dispersed. Outraged condemnations, from politicians, of the violence immediately followed everywhere on the media. Even those usually wary of joining the current government, have supinely endorsed the anarchist-plot argument. Sadly, also IlFattoQuotidiano, probably the only readable newspaper in Italy, has decided to stop asking questions, and to serve the master instead. In the last 24 hours, the frustrated reader has had to go through a series of embarassing fairy tales about anarchists who ‘trained in Greece’, ‘trained at NO TAV protests’: a further depressing symptom of how bad information in Italy is. I should stop now with this, but i is worth repeating it, those of IlFatto have turned into mercenari too.

Anyway, apparently two hundred thousand people took part in the protest.The BB were between 300 and 500. Of them, TWELVE have been arrested by the police. That is 12 individuals, nothing more than that.

Twelve is a pretty small number. It’s basically a football team, plus the referee. Not a great reaction from the police, really – some have pointed out. Why did the police not intervene more heavy-handedly? Why did this thing happen only in Italy? why were the other OWS protests around the world kept under control by the police? why such a failure, given that the police now claims the destruction was caused by ‘the usual suspects’, anarchists already well known?. These questions briefly appeared on some Italian media shortly after the riots, yet they were quickly replaced by stuff like that appeared on IlFattoQuotidiano. So the question now is: why no one asks these questions anymore?

Here is one hint. Please read.

Here’s another hint. Please watch.

The Italian government today declared its intention to crack down on ‘the anarchists’ (even if they are not black). It is expected that the lord-major  of Rome will today declare a one-month ban on street protest in the capital. This, let’s make itclear, in the interest of security, and of no one else.


Written by TheItalianist

18/10/2011 at 10:55

5 Responses

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  1. Considering there were between 70 and 80 injured between the protesters (not sure about actual figure), I think the police reacted as heavy-handedly as usual.
    It’s not a mistery for anyone (I hope) that Cossiga’s strategy has been adopted in Italy for decades, and that the police regularly use agent provocateurs at big demos like this one, but this is a minority of people, and, let’s face it, they’re easily recognisable: someone should give them a proper lesson in insurrectionary fashion cos they’re pathetic.
    The rest, though…the rest are properly pissed off people. I can’t understand why people cannot accept the idea that there are non-pacifist people. If you’re one of them you’re necessarily scum, a violent, a terrorist, or an undercover cop.


    18/10/2011 at 14:53

    • I am not sure that the group of agent provocateurs are that small – I doubt there were less of 100 in Rome, and they can do a whole lot of a mess if left uncontrolled. The fact remains that only 12 were arrested, and that no one explains how that could be possible. And the witch hunt that is gong on now sounds a lot like what happen at Bolzaneto after the G8 in Genoa. I am not saying that there were only ‘infiltrati’, of course. Nor am I doubting that a lot of those who smashed windows and burned car were simply and genuinely pissed off people. I just don’t understand what smashing windows has to do with changing the situation. It is certainly an expression of despair and anger, but if it plays in the hands of the government (see the actual anti-protest campaign in Italy) then maybe it should be avoided. Or pushed further than this.


      18/10/2011 at 23:13

      • Yeah, I agree with you 90%, but then you say “I just don’t understand what smashing windows has to do with changing the situation”. It doesn’t really have anything to do with “changing the situation”, it’s about hitting targets linked to capitalism (like banks, cars, etc), and I guess scaring the authorities off. You know, I don’t think peaceful marches have anything to do with “changing the situation”, as a matter of fact they never changed anything in my eyes (and I’ve been on many…). It’s more about how express your dissent: some people march, some people smash up things. I understand it looks ugly, but, like you say, we have to push things further. Some people think that is the right way to do it. I’m not necessarily saying I support it without even thinking, it’s just I understand much better than I used to.
        And lastly, I don’t think the protests played in the hands of the government, the opposite: the government, especially the current one, is constantly looking for excuses for more repression, be it talk shows on TV or demos…


        19/10/2011 at 07:51

      • Hmm, I think I don’t understand how cars and shops are symbols of capitalism.. Certainly the poor romans who own the cars burnt by ‘the protesters’, and those who get up every morning at 6 to get their shops running, are much more likely to be the exploited workers than the capitalists here. They are being victimised twice, by the capitalists and by the protesters – no one mentions that. It’s like if I’m pissed off with my girlfriend, and I smash your house to “target” woman-ism: it just doesn’t not make sense does it? Plus, it is not so much a discussion of which one works, the peaceful or the violent protest: it is that one is harder to justify than the other (exactly because the violent ‘protesters’ run away, and normal citizens -only them- are left to pay the price of their ‘expression’). I think last saturday violence was stupid: it might have signalled something important about society’s mood (though that would require knowing who the violent persons were), but it just hit the wrong target. Hey thanks for keeping up with my ranting btw 🙂


        22/10/2011 at 10:30

  2. We’ll agree to disagree, I think…and don’t worry about your ranting, you’ve met your match…;-)


    24/10/2011 at 09:31

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