you're reading...

From England to Italy, there’s a neoliberal onslaught against public goods


By Carlo Formenti

In England there’s a fierce debate about the privatisation of public spaces. Obviously that country has not forgotten the devastating effects of the 16-17th century practice of enclosures, well described in the works of Marx, Engels and Polanyi, which led to the expropriation of public property by landlords (and the reduction to poverty of millions of peasants) and which prepared  the ground for the emergence of modern capitalism. Today the object of desire of a post-modern, but no less ferocious capitalism, are no longer the forests, pastures and other publicly-owned land (the medieval commons) but squares, parks and local neighbourhoods.

Under the guise of an urban upgrade that the exhausted coffers of local governments (decimated by cuts of neo-liberal governments) can no longer take care of, industry and global financial firms are extending their claws into public spaces that, once transformed into private property, are no longer guarded and defended by the police but armed guards hired by the new masters. So public spaces are reduced and with them the rights of use that traditionally regulated them, replaced by the arbitrary will of the owners backed up by force.

Among the first casualties is the right to free expression: there are an increasing number of cases in which students and workers find it impossible to gather and symbolically ‘occupy’ (no longer) public places: private guards chuck them out beyond the boundaries of this new protected ‘paradise’ .

In Italy, meanwhile, the ‘technical’ government has just announced that, to plug the hole in the public budget (for which the people in power today and yesterday are primarily responsible, as a class, if not as individuals) it will be selling valuable parts of our public heritage owned by central and local government. Buildings, ‘mobile’ assets and companies owned by municipal governments will end up in the hands of individuals who will do what they want with them, turning them into sources of profit, ignoring the interests and rights of ordinary citizens.

Beaches turned into pricey private establishments, ‘rehabilitated’ buildings and public spaces closed to mass use, services converted into machines to extort money from users already massacred by the crisis, and why not, calling into question (it is already happening with support from large media outlets) the
results of the referendum against the privatization of water.

So, as the case in Greece, the neoliberal caste attaches to a popular vote the same value as toilet paper. To the deafening silence of the political forces that still have the nerve to call themselves “the left”. How long will we allow them to abuse our patience?


Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or email [email protected]


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Twitter Updates

  • #Germany's #banks will profit from #Spain's 'rescue', says Vincente Navarro. Revolting #Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-ZJ #eurozone 3 hours ago
  • #Germany's #banks will profit from the #Spain's 'rescue', says Vincente Navarro. Revolting #Europe wp.me/p1bMfw-ZJ 3 hours ago
  • German banks will profit from the Spanish 'rescue' wp.me/p1bMfw-ZJ 5 hours ago
  • RT @Reuters: U.S. public workers say organized labor at a turning point reut.rs/MfHDjs 1 day ago
  • A Week in Revolting #Europe : for news, views and analysis from a radical left perspective. paper.li/tomgilltweets/… 1 day ago
  • Spain's Miners March to Madrid wp.me/p1bMfw-Zz 1 day ago
  • A Week in Revolting #Europe. paper.li/tomgilltweets/… 1 day ago
  • Al Jazeera's visits striking #miners in Santa Cruz de Sil in #Spain to hear why they are upset.: youtu.be/zFbhIYLnvLo via @youtube 1 day ago
  • Rome, #Precariat target Deutsche #Bank: Video youtu.be/oZ-4DzWP6YU via @youtube #italy #protest 1 day ago
  • Syriza paid for its ambiguity wp.me/p1bMfw-Zv 1 day ago
Follow @tomgilltweets

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Wealth Inequality in Europe

Get the key facts and figures


A different take on European issues

Italy’s Healthcare Crisis

Health services are ‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples after years of cuts and privatisation.


99% of the 167 000 Madrilenos who signed a petition rejected the sell off local water company

Filthy Rich

France's Bernard Arnault of the Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH) empire is worth $41 billion. Check out Europe's rich list


Arménio Carlos of CGTP led a general strike in Portugal on March 22


Workers are on a go-slow over privatisation

Massive Spanish protest

Half a million take to the streets over labour market deregulation


Hundreds of workers occupied the factory of ArcelorMittal in Florange in the north of France

International Workers Day 2012

International Workers Day 2012


Anti-social Europe in numbers

RSS Watching Corporate Europe

  • Rio+20 summit under siege from corporate lobbyists
  • Big business and the EU: painting the economy green
  • The world’s biggest trade fair

RSS Hate Crimes in Europe


RSS Fight discrimination in Europe – Amnesty Int’l

  • Listen to Roma Rights
  • Croatia: Protection of LGBT people must go beyond the Pride

RSS Discrimination: legal news

  • Greece - Publication of a book dealing with the phenomenon of discrimination in Greece and the mechanisms established to address it (PDF 62 kB)
  • Czech Republic - Czech republic ratified the Additional Protocol to the European Social Charter providing for a system of collective complaints (PDF 51 kB)
  • Slovenia - Closing down of the Government Office for Equal Opportunities (PDF 50 kB)

Workers down tools over PM Monti's attack on labour rights