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Black Bloc, the Invisible Hand

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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

Discounted White Deaths

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A worker from Albania died while at work in a building site in Northern Italy. He fell off one of the scaffoldings. In dealing with the compensation claims for the victim’s family, who lives still in Albania, a judge yesterday ruled that they should be given 1/10 of what is normally paid to the family of victims who are Italians.

That is correct: a judge ruled that the company that hired the Albanian, and that was responsible for his death due to scarce health and safety regulations, will have to compensate the victim’s family, but will have to pay less than what they would pay if the worker had been Italian. The reasoning behind this decision is that the worker was from an “economically depressed” country, and the compensation claim of the family should be adjusted to the economic reality of Albania. So, for example, if in Italy you need 1000 euro per month to survive, and in Albania 100 euro could be enough, then an Albanian should receive 1/10 of the compensation owed to an Italian.

We are talking about compensation for death. We are talking about people  who work as much as the Italians do. We are talking of people who are exposed to dangerous working conditions because their bosses do not want to waste their money in safety regulations. Now, a judge says that the parents of a worker at work should be paid less so to avoid the risk of “unjustified enrichment”. That’s true, look what these immigrants invent in order to steal our money: they come here and work 14 hours per day, then at some point they jump off the scaffolding so to extort money from their bosses. Damn you, immigrants!

Luckily, justice is in place to defend the country. A judge has finally established that there is no need, for building companies, to raise their safety standard by investing money in safety measures. Quite the contrary, they should simply hire more immigrants: they are much much cheaper to refund. And the boss’ one, I’m sure the judge would say, is a justified enrichment.

It follows, then, that if then worker, who dies in Italy, was from the Emirates, or from Monaco, or from the Vatican, then his/her family should be paid 10 times more to reflect the economic reality of the country of origin. So, maybe some priests are rejoicing at this legal ruling..

For more on “white deaths“, a typical Italian phenomenon, see here.


Written by TheItalianist

25/10/2010 at 19:25

Welcome into the world..

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Sadly, this really happened last week.

Written by TheItalianist

30/08/2010 at 15:26

I’m Unemployed – Get Me Out of Here!

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A group of workers, for long at risk of being made redundant, have decided to occupy the building of a dismissed jail in Sardinia, on the Asinara Island, to draw public attention to their situation. For the last 4 months, workers at Vylnis, a chemical industry in Porto Torres, have been receiving redundancy payments. Agreements are still sought to sell Vylnis to (potential) international buyers. Yet, talks towards a deal are still a long way from being concluded. The workers, in the meantime, have been left with never-ending uncertainties about their future, and an overall salary of 800 euros over the last 3 months.

Thus, in a desperate attempt to bring public attention over their dramatic situation, 15 workers have spent the last 2 weeks ‘in exile’ on the Asinara Island, occupying the site of the dismissed prison that used to host mafia bosses.

“On TV L’Isola dei Famosi  (the Italian version of I’m a celebrity Get my Out of Here) is starting just now. Here, on the Asinara Island, we are starting L’Isola dei Cassintegrati (‘The Isle of the Redundant Workers‘), and we won’t leave until we’ll hear something about our future” – said one of the workers.

It is hard to get attention from the media, especially over such a long time as this case seems to require. These workers must also have been aware that, the now that L’Isola dei Famosi has started, the media will not be concerned with anything but which one, of the booby sluts taking part in the reality showm, will start crying because she does not like eating her own poo.  It is true, reality shows are made to absorb people’s minds as much as possible and to divert them from reality. So the workers on the Asinara Island are going to offer us the first real reality show. The message is clear: while, on TV, famous people go to exotic places, out there in the real world, the redundant workers go to prison islands:

A group on Facebook supports the workers’ case:  “Unfortunately, the only real reality show”

Written by TheItalianist

10/03/2010 at 17:10

I Love Silvio

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I discovered today that I love Berlusconi.

It’s not that I asked myself “Do I love Berlusconi?” and replied “I do”. No: the revelation came upon discovering a book has just been published, in Italy, whose title is “Noi amiamo Silvio” (We love Silvio).

Probably meant to fill the vacuüm left by the death of JD Salinger, the book can be purchased, from today, in Italy’s “best bookshops”. It looks more or less like this:

The cover explains the book content:

 “The exclusive photobook with the best pictures, in colour, of the historical events that had as main character our Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi“. Printed by Peruzzo Publishing, a group named after Alberto Peruzzo who, in the book, claims that this is not a book about politics, but about a great friend of his.

The book has not been officially reviewed (but I have already sent a complaint to the New York Review of Books), so I leave comments about its content to later posts. I imagine Silvio must be quite upset about another celebration of his life and career. In fact, Berlusconi had pointed out that he does not want to look like a superior being: rather, he wants to look just like a member of his Party, the Freedom’s People.

That’s why he wanted that the anthem played at the Party conventions, “Meno Male che Silvio C’e'” (“Thank God Silvio Exists“), be changed to a more democratic “Meno male che noi ci siamo” (“Thank God We Exist”). He explained that, after the famous attempt to kill him in December, it was important to bridge the gap between him and the other human beings. But now, they do it again: they are back to celebrating him. Why don’t they stop? Who’s telling them to do it?? Idiots!! Let’s bridge the gap, for Silvio’s sake! I mean, for God’s sake!

Furthermore, this is not the first literary work about Berlusconi. A previous book, in 2006, was titled “Una Storia Italiana” (“An Italian Story”). On that occasion, the book was even delivered for free to each house in Italy. And the best thing was: you didn’t even have to ask for it! You would get it, willing or not!!

In that book, that celebrated Berlusconi’s life and achievements, a series of moving images of our Prime Minister were made immortal (sorry for the low quality):

The romantic Our Prime Minister


The father Our Prime Minister who does jogging with the son and the dog


Veronica, Our Prime  Minister’s great love (until she asked for divorce).


And that wasn’t the only one!! Even the Americans, last year, wanted to celebrate Silvio’s great achievements by writing his biography! That time, too, the authors had to apologise to our Prime Minister…

Two things are worth mentioning about this still-to-discover little treasure of book. First: we should notice that the three words on the cover, “Noi Amiamo Silvio”, are respectively green, white and red. Incidentally, those are the colours of the Italian flag. That’s why, as an Italian citizen, I feel I am part of this loving proclaim. I love Silvio.

Second: when I looked at the picture of my beloved Silvio, I couldn’t help feeling that I have seen it before: his greatness, his size, his smiling teeth, the people under him.. I had seen that before, though a long long time ago..

I eventually remembered what that picture reminds me of.

Written by TheItalianist

29/01/2010 at 06:01

The Right to Throw Things at Politicians

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In the last 24hours, probably the entire world has witnessed the image of Berlusconi’s face covered in blood after being hit by an object thrown at him by a person, during a public meeting. I have to admit, Berlusconi yesterday looked much scarier than he normally does, and one can’t but feel deeply distressed in seeing a 73-year old man bleeding from his mouth.  Of course, now the debate is all about condemning those who are not condemning Massimo Tartaglia, the guy who threw the object at Berlusconi, and those who are not worried by “the climate of hatred” in Italy. Most of the newspapers in Italy point to yesterday’s event  as the symbol of a worrying increase in political violence, one which signals the necessity of more civilised forms of political confrontation.

This is all sound. No one wants political violence, nor to see on TV old people bleeding from their mouth, especially at dinner time. It doesn’t take a political scientist to realize that Tartaglia’s action cannot find space in a liberal democracy, nor that his behaviour can be considered to any extent part of a political dialogue. Yet, it seems to me that the debate after the attack on Berlusconi is already aiming at the equation “dissent = violence”. Massimo Tartaglia is certainly not a political activist: he is described as a person under therapy for mental instability, and with no political affiliation. He is, so to speak, a mere man from the street, who unfortunately decided to do something really stupid.

However, I think we should ask ourselves why what Tartaglia did was stupid. Clearly, the answer is that he endangered the life of a person: had Berlusconi been hit on the head and not on the face, probably the images shown on TV yesterday would have been much worse. Instead, luckily, after being hit Berlusconi was still in a condition good enough (a) to tell his driver to stop the car rushing him to the hospital, (b) get out (c) pose for the photographers for a good 20 seconds, (d) go back into the car, yet always making sure cameras were on him. Probably that was the extreme effort before the collapse.. Some may point out that his security service has a very strange way to operate (shouldn’t they have taken him away as soon as possible?), but today is not the day to express dissent.

So, Tartaglia’s fault is that he threw an object (btw, a statuette of Milan’s Duomo) that could have seriously injured a 73-years old, to the point of killing him (luckily, Berlusconi is immortal). There is no need to have a debate on this. However, there is an underlying question that puzzles me:  is it wrong to throw things at politicians? Is there anything intrinsically wrong in hating them? Of course one should not act upon that hatred, by it seems that one has a right to hate whoever in foro interno. All the discussion in Italy is revolving around who instigated this ‘climate of hatred’ against Berlusconi: there is no asking why there is such hatred.

It’s a shame that Tartaglia threw at Berlusconi’s face something that could have killed the Italian PM: this goes against the idea of a democracy. One might be less dismissive of political violence, were one to consider that Italy is not even a nearly just society. Violence may be unjustifiable under a regime that allows for political change and, most of all, for the accountability of its political leaders: yet, one could say that where these conditions are not guaranteed, for example where dissent is silenced, or where political leaders are not accountable for their behaviour, things might be different. Under such circumstances, responsible citizens, committed to the values of democracy, might have to recur to violence against an abuse of power that represents a progressive deviation from the ideals of democratic life. Citizens might have to use violence for the sake of democracy.

However, suppose that Italy has a political regime where violence against political leaders is not justifiable. In fact, at the end of the day Italy still has a lot of freedom, compared to undemocratic regimes, and people still do not get shot in the street. So, once again, Tartaglia’s throwing a statuette at the PM is an impermissible action (from a democratic point of view).

But what if Tartaglia had thrown something else, like some vegetables maybe? Or maybe something that may hurt a lot but not harm, like a shoe? Or maybe a tripod?

If Tartaglia had done that, I think we should be talking of ‘good citizens’, people who expose themselves in first person to remind politicians that they are not untouchable, that they have to account for their behaviour as elected rulers of a country. Unfortunately, things yesterday went differently, and we ended up with an old man bleeding from his mouth: that deserves condemnation, and shows the irresponsibility (and probably exasperation..) of Massimo Tartaglia’s act. If we have a right to throw things at politicians in protest, then that right cannot cover things that can crush the politician’s skull.

Violence has no place in a democracy: let’s listen to the Italian Government’s appeal against violence then. Let’s not ruin their endless effort to enhance peace and democracy.

Written by TheItalianist

14/12/2009 at 19:33


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At the trial against Marcello Dell’Utri, the Mafia witness Gaspare Spatuzza has confirmed in front the judges what he had previously told the prosecutors:

“Graziano told me that we had got everything thanks to the reliability of the persons that carried out the deal. Two names were mentioned to me: that of Berlusconi and that of Dell’Utri. (…) Because of the reliability of these persons, the country had been basically put in our hands”.

Info in english can be found here, here and here.

Written by TheItalianist

04/12/2009 at 23:36