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Italy

Italy: Time to take a radically new political and moral turn

By Dino Greco

The carousel of cuts – under the guise of the spending review – has begun to spin.

The axe is again lowered on health (a 1.5 billion-euro amputation to spending that had already been reduced to a minimum), help for disabled people, the civil service (with a further three-year block on contracts!) and universities. Then, in 2013, a one point increase in VAT, while yet to come is the heavy impact of the second installment of the property tax (IMU), which the Vatican will have to pay but only on buildings for commercial use, and only next year.

In this chilling context, the reduction by one point in the lower rates of income tax (IRPEF) is a merely symbolic move, like a warm compress, and completely devoid of an practical effect, given the frightening increase in prices and tariffs that is driving the dynamics of demand in continual decline. The inexorable logic of a balanced budget – the first of the three pillars that support Monti’s monetarism – is producing its deadly effects.

The stability law sends the Constitution packing, because there is no constitutional protection for our citizens that can override the dogma of the balance budget.

Of course there are, even within the constraints of budget, other ways to make ends meet without devastating the lives of the weakest sections of our society, but these are inhibited by social groups the government represents.

So any reference to equity is mocking, misleading advertising.

Those on high incomes, with ‘golden’ pensions, corporations and their profits, owners of large estates and property, big investors, those who evade taxes and put their money into tax havens, they should be able to roam free because the stronger the inequality the more the economy is stimulated: this is the second pillar of Monti’s ideological castle

As for the “real” economy, the technocrats in total subservience to high finance are bought on the idea that the state, the “visible hand”, must do absolutely nothing, as the most radical neo-liberal oracles, from von Hayek to Milton Friedman, have taught them. Fiat CEO Marchionne and [the Ilva steelworks owner] Riva can rest assured that they will not be asked for anything.

Sardinia’s coal and aluminium workers, the Italcementi cement workers, and the workers today in every part of the country, who resort to climbing to the top of cranes in a desperate search to get a hearing, like the students struggling to defend state schools, should be clear that the government will not pay  any attention to them (except through the police) much less have any answers. For Monti & Co it is up to the market and to the market alone, through a further privatization push – this is Monti’s third pillar – of the select companies that are destined to survive.

For the spin doctors at [Milan’s elite business university] Bocconi, the concepts of economic policy, of industrial policy are simply rhetorical abstruseness: only the animal spirits count, the rest they would have us believe is pure waffle, the legacy of a faded and long gone socialist era. These ineffable condottieri, however, are leading the country to economic and social disaster. And democratic euthanasia. It is clear that at the end of that road there is no salvation, and that the recession will follow the steep ridge that is destroying Greece. Then there will be more trouble and more cuts will be needed, as long as there is flesh, and then to the bone.

It should be obvious that these people must be stopped – and those who for conviction or cultural subordination are supporting their actions. First of all, by putting all our energies into promoting social mobilization. God help us if this calm persists in which everything is entrusted to the ballet of politicians playing politics, where nothing serious – but the maneouvers of political classes that are mutually interchangeable – is really happening.

There are, in what remains of autumn, three important events: the student strike of 12 October, the demonstration called by the CGIL against the government’s economic and social measures, set for October 20, followed by that of October 27, which brings together the forces, the ideas, the movements that offer a radical alternative, not only to Monti but also to “Montismo” which has penetrated like an infection in the center left which is now presenting itself as a candidate to govern according to the trajectory set by the man from Goldman Sachs.

And then there is the campaign to restore [job protections in] Article 18 of the Workers’ Statute, to make the national labour contract function properly again, after the attempt by Berlusconi and Monti to undermine it with Article 8, to restore pensions liquidated by the Fornero reforms, to put a stop to the rampant job insecurity that has denied generations rights, dignity and future, to reduce the outrageous perks and pay of MPs and councillors, and to restore dignity to politics that has degenerated into a means of personal enrichment. This we must do. Immediately. By mobilizing all our energy in every corner of the country. And making of this campaign a new political roadmap to the future.

Dino Greco is a founder and leading contributor to Ombre Rosse, the online communist weekly and former director of Liberazione, the Italian communist daily

Controlacrisi.org 10.10.2012

Translation by Revolting Europe

About revoltingeurope

Writer on Europe's Left, trade union and social movements @tomgilltweets or @revoltingeurope

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