snafu on Mon, 12 Nov 2001 07:00:28 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> 130.000 marches against global war in Rome

Us versus them always works. Especially when those who are still enough
stubborn to call themselves "we", are completely misrepresented or even
denied to exist. That happens worldwide, everyday, in Palestine,
Kurdistan, Ireland, Tibet and everywhere nationalist, religious, ethnical
oppression take place. But in our times, oppression is not only practised
towards minorities or differences, but also against majorities which
happen not to be aligned with the actual system of command.

This is certainly the case of Italy. Four days ago the vast majority of
the Italian Parliament (513 votes against 35)  voted the participation in
the war in Afghanistan.  The almost unanimous decision was the result of
the unusual convergence between the right wing coalition lead by media
tycoon Silvio Berlusconi and the moderated side of the left wing
opposition, that registered the defection of the Greens and of the
communist party. Three days after the Parliament vote, on November the
10th, two different national demonstrations confronted in Rome. One
organized by the Government in support to the United States and another
one from the Italian Social Forum against the "economical, social,
military war" and the WTO meeting in Quatar. Even though the "USA Day" had
received so far a much larger media coverage and was clearly indicted on
N10 to divert the public attention from the no-global rally, the
demonstration was nearly a flop. The organizers claim the participation of
forty thousand people (against the one hundred thousand expected) but the
square, Piazza del Popolo, showed large empty areas. The strategy of the
Government after Genoa's disaster shifted from police repression to the
pure propaganda war. But the the sad spectacle given by the real time
broadcast of the USA-Day (RAI public television was able to say that the
anti-war protest was raising only 7-10,000 protesters) was countered by a
total different reality. The anti-war march was endless (200,000 according
to the demonstrators, 100,000 for the police, independent sources estimate
130,000) and representing many of the souls which have taken part to
Genoa, as the Women in Black, the Disobedients (ex White-Overalls), the
Naples network No Global, several squatted community centres and
anarchists groups, recreational NGOs such as ARCI, the communist party
Rifondazione Comunista and the new territorial subjects born after Genoa
-- the Social Forums, plural organisms that have the double function to
foster the dialogue amongst different components of the civil society and
to become the rings of a chain from the territory to an alternative global

This multifarious, often complicated and tiring way to say "us" was taking
the squares yesterday, and even it was once again almost ignored by
mainstream media, demonstrated to be self-sufficient enough to be an
autonomous form of life, with its own unerasable beliefs, its own media
and, in some cases, its original way of living. This strange attractor,
that in Italy is called "the movement", is not self-referential but
potentially represents the majority of the public opinion, if it is true
that all the polls say that 60% of Italians are contrary to the war in
Afghanistan. But how it is possible then, that the 80% of the Parliament
voted for an intervention disregarding the Constitution -- that written
after World War II expressively impedes the eventuality of non-defensive
wars -- and the opinion of those who voted them?  There are different ways
to answer this question, but one of them surely resides in the
redefinition of the traditional tasks of the state. As Italian philosopher
Giorgio Agamben writes (full text at "In the
course of a gradual neutralization of politics and the progressive
surrender of traditional tasks of the state, security becomes the basic
principle of state activity. What used to be one among several definitive
measures of public administration until the first half of the twentieth
century, now becomes the sole criterium of political legitimation. The
thought of security bears within it an essential risk. A state which has
security as its sole task and source of legitimacy is a fragile organism;
it can always be provoked by terrorism to become itself terroristic."

If the state function is exclusively measured in terms of security and
control, a society does not live or survive exclusively around these
feelings. These feelings are not enough to be turned into cohesive values,
to work as a social glue. On the contrary, fear and terror are powerful
solvents, that invite the people to stay home and behave like scared dogs.
This is the reason, i guess, the anti-war rally was crowded by very young
people, by those who are not only believing that another world is
possible, but in a certain sense, indispensable.

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