Salo Republic graffiti. Turin, October 2013.

Did the Allies liberate Europe from Fascism? Many leftists would say no. In West Germany, for example, Nazi-era civil servants, judges and police officers remained in place for nearly three more decades. The same could be said of France, not to mention, of course, Italy. Why? For the Allies, quite often, due to pragmatism. How would they run these countries without them? In order to forge a new order, they had to make compromises. Old apparatchiks would eventually be transformed by democratic politics. Or they’d die out, and eventually be replaced by younger liberals.

If only the situation was that clear-cut. In May 1945, victorious Anglo-American led forces found themselves with tens millions of civilians in their care. What they did with them would reflect a combination of cynicism, and, in certain instances, idealism, as per the reforms forced upon Germany. Though by no means complete (see May 1968, in both France and the Federal Republic) the Italian example remained the most explosive until the early 1980s. Communists and Fascists returned to their blood-letting, engaged in a quasi-civil war (the appropriately-named Years of Lead,) though nowhere near the 1943-45 period, in terms of violence.

Still, things remain unresolved, according to certain radicals. The second installment of a translation of a flyer criticizing article 419 of Italy’s criminal code is a good example. This legislation, its anonymous author argues, is long since passed its expiration date.

 

Devastazioni, Part II. Turin, June 10th.

Devastazione, Part II. Turin, June 10th.

 

MORAL COMPLICITY

As the majority of criminal offenses [are invitations] to repression and [the] prevention of political dissidence and social conflict, art. 419 of the criminal law “Destruction and Robbery” is essentially unchanged from the original fascist code Rocco, dated 1930. Seeing it from another perspective, it might prove how, in fact, the way to deal with social conflict has not changed, and what is most scary to power, either Fascist or Democratic, remains the danger of contamination, of new forms of revolt.

What stands out is the extension of imprisonment: from 8 to 15 years. Avoiding simple and populist considerations, it’s clear how participation in an uprising, or [engaging in] rebellious actions is more heavily punished in comparison with violent crimes, like rape.

But what is even more interesting, [as well as] dangerous, is the concept of moral complicity, according to which it is sufficient, in order to participate and reinforce others’ criminal intent, [to harbor] a non-hostile attitude towards [certain kinds of] events, or to simp be present.  That is, judges often consider that mere presence in the streets, with the intention of taking part in a march or a demonstration, represents a moral complicity with those who cause damage.

If this concept of “moral complicity” seems to push at the limits of criminal law or of [the] Constitution, it also shows once again how, beyond violent actions, the [goal of this law] is the maintenance of public order and, subsequently, of social order, where a wide range of behaviors and of different social realities may merge in certain situations, often [due to] a shared cause, [which are] hardly containable [through] the use of force, and therefore, in the absence of other means, potentially uncontrollable by [state] power.

But what was destroyed?

The most recent and outstanding Italian cases (but very common all over the world) are related to the events of 20th July 2008, during the G8 summit in Genoa, and those of the 15th October, 2011, in Rome, during a huge national demonstration.

History shows how when our social, economic and financial system undergoes a [crisis,] once conditions have drastically worsened, in the absence of any possible solution, rage gets expressed in several forms. It’s not hard to understand how the causes of daily oppression, materialized in physical places, are spontaneously attacked. If the responsibilities of banks, employment agencies, multinational corporations, and government policies are [obvious] to everybody, very often, [things like] traffic lights, windows, bus platform roofs, and flower beds will get destroyed. The life of the oppressed, the routines imposed upon them by the frenetic production race, confine our spaces and forcibly delimit our routes. Notwithstanding consciousness of this rage, opposition to domination animates dissidents. It’s not always a predetermined action that leads to damaging acts. Sometimes, it’s an expression of exasperation.

And what are these robberies?

In a capitalist society, where the Earth, sea, animals and human beings are but resources for multinational corporations, those who take away a slice of cheese from a supermarket risk years of imprisonment.

Goods are all this social system revolves around. Men and women, turned into labour, produce them. Capital decides their costs, times, places and how they’re consumed. From necessary goods, to the most useless products. If, for most people, the possibility to use them means giving their whole life to the masters, many others are excluded from this [privilege.] If deciding not to pay, in order to re-appropriate what is necessary for living can be a conscious choice, today it seems more and more a necessity in order to survive. The fact that prison overcrowding is at unprecedented levels, and that jails and the CIE (Centers for Identification and Expulsion] are full of people who tried to feed themselves, is widely known.

From Piazza Giusti, Genoa, in 2001 when a DiPerDì [chain of supermarkets] remained forced open all afternoon for people, (also for those living in the neighborhood,) to which police were prevented from reaching, to the robberies at supermarkets in Chile and Haiti, where earthquakes had left the poorest without anything (while the rich could recover elsewhere,) the police impose curfews,  shooting those who do not respect it;  to the mass revolts and robberies in August 2011, in London, when the young reacted with rage over the killing of a man….

IT’S TIME TO UNDERSTAND AND TAKE SIDES

BY THE SIDES OF THOSE WHO STEAL [FROM] SUPERMARKETS, OR OF THOSE  WHO USURP RESOURCES AND DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF THE FEW.

BY THE SIDES OF THOSE WHO ROB A BANK, OR OF THOSE WHO GET RICH SPECULATING ON MILLIONS OF LIVES.

BY THE SIDES OF THOS WHO AUTONOMOUSLY FIGHT FOR A MORE DIGNIFIED EXISTENCE, OR OF THOSE  WHO, FROM  ON HIGH,  COMPEL [US] TO STARVATION, BOMBING AND CONFINING ENTIRE POPULATIONS, AND MAKING MORE AND MORE UNCERTAIN AND FRUITLESS OUR LIVES.

WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR THE FUTURE

WA ARE TAKING BACK OUR PRESENT!

 

Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.