Italy: European capital claims another scalp

Silvio Berlusconi

The sudden collapse of the Berlusconi government on 12 November and the formation of a technocratic leadership are ominous signs of things to come, not only for the Italian working class but for the peoples of Europe.

Three times prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the former cruise ship crooner and right-wing populist, had been under the shadow of charges and allegations for fraud, corruption and statutory rape, but it was the demands of European capital that finally brought him down. The European Central Bank demanded that the Italian government pass a €54 billion package of austerity measures to deal with Italy’s €1.9 trillion debt – 120% of GDP. As Italy’s costs of borrowing soared to an all-time high, the parliamentary budget vote on 11 November accepted the package; Berlusconi resigned the next day, paving the way for an unelected cabinet, led by former EU competion minister and Goldman Sachs adviser Mario Monti, to rule Europe’s third largest economy strictly in the interests of European capital.

 

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Ethnic cleansing in Italy

The fascist policies of the Italian government are finding fertile ground, as blame for everything from crime and social instability to unemployment is heaped on Italy’s immigrant population, who are bearing the brunt of the economic crisis.

Immigrants battle racists

At the beginning of January, hundreds of African immigrants were driven out of the town of Rosarno in southern Italy by its white citizens who were spurred on by the local Ndrangheta mafia and supported by the police.

 

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Italy: Immigrants fight back against racist attacks

On 18 September, in the southern Italian town of Castelvolturno, northwest of Naples, thousands of mainly African militants took to the streets after gangsters shot six men from Ghana, Liberia and Togo. The protesters tore up street signs and overturned cars and rubbish bins, accusing the police of racism for alleging the six victims had been drug traffickers. 500 soldiers were sent in to disperse the protest.

The same week, in the north of the country, protests erupted in Milan after a young black man from Burkino Faso was beaten to death by a shopkeeper and his son for stealing biscuits from their kiosk at Milan station. Protesters smashed motorcycles and overturned bins, chanting ‘Ignorant white bastards’.

 

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Racism and fascism stalk Italy

FRFI 206 December 2008 / January 2009

As economic crisis descends upon the imperialist economies of the US and Europe, bourgeois economists have turned to the financial crash of 1929 and the depression of the 1930s to explain the current chaos. What they fail to mention is the means by which the capitalist class in certain countries attempted to solve the worst economic and social crisis of the last century: fascism. Across Western Europe recent events provide a grim reminder of the depths to which the ruling elites of Europe, and Italy in particular, can sink. With one of the weakest economies in Europe, the country is set to plunge into possibly the continent’s worst depression. Italian capital, perhaps more than any other European economy, desperately needs to increase the exploitation of immigrant workers and the working class as a whole; in doing so, it faces renewed levels of class struggle.

The anti-immigrant and anti-Roma legislation and violence implemented and encouraged by Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition of xenophobes, ‘post-fascists’ and big business is increasingly being turned against the growing working class movement which has shaken Italy since October 2008. The crescendo of racist violence and terror, police brutality, anti-working class legislation and hysterical cries for the crushing of increasingly militant social movements is reminiscent of the fascist terror which the barons of finance capital unleashed across Europe 70 years ago.

 

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