Italy students protest education reforms
The Sydney Morning Herald
October 30, 2008
Thousands of angry students opposed to planned cuts to the Italian education budget protested outside the Senate on Wednesday, some clashing with right-wing supporters of the conservative government. Some 5,000 protesters chanted against what they said was the “destruction of public schools” as the Senate approved cuts totalling more than 9 billion euros ($A17 billion) with the loss of more than 130,000 jobs in primary schools. Clashes later in nearby Piazza Navona left four people injured including a policeman, media reports said. Two people were arrested…
Unfortunately for them, it appears that a small group of Italian neo-Fascists, armed with belts, chains and sticks, attacked students, a number of whom then responded in kind (see above, ‘Before’ and ‘After’). The fascists were soon reinforced by police before being taken away in a van. It seems possible that at least one policeman was with the fascists, presumably in order to help co-ordinate their actions.
de Gondi of European Tribune writes:
…the police did not intervene for over five minutes. The fascists- approximately sixty in all- first attacked the youngest children, no more than 14 years old, with clubs. The crowd berated the police for not intervening to protect them. After several attacks militant leftists from the “occupied social forums” intervened against the fascists. An isolated group of fascists was allowed to escape through the police barrier. [Curzio Maltese of la Repubblica] who was pursuing them was blocked by the police. The police finally broke up the fight and hauled the remaining fascists away.
The student movements consider the provocation and the tardiness of the police to intervene as a deliberate design to smear the movement as violent.
An estimated two-and-a-half million people gathered on October 25 in Circo Massimo in Rome to protest the Italian government’s ‘reforms’. The demonstration was called by the Partito Democratico (Democratic Party, PD), whose leader Walter Veltroni was defeated by Berlusconi in Spring 2008. However, Rome was not the only city where people demonstrated. All over Italy, students, teachers and families gathered in public squares to express their disagreement with government policy. Some students have occupied universities and secondary schools despite threats by Berlusconi, who warned that he was willing to send the police in ‘to restore order’ (government control). In fact, Berlusconi has stated that ‘squares are not the place to discuss political issues, issues which should be discussed only in the Parliament’.
de Gondi again:
Student agitation has been going on since Mariastella Gelmini presented “her” reform, more aptly known as “Tremonti’s School Cut.” It has built in intensity since the beginning of October.
In short, each school or faculty set up its own website(s) that simply networked into a complex intercommunicative system, now known as l’Onda, the Wave. Students could join emailing lists by signing up at their faculty or school. The students- as well as teachers and deans- quickly set down basic guidelines for action that would allow the maximum of activity without unequivocally breaking the laws. Schools would allow for spaces and time lots for self-governing student activity that would not compromise classes. All loopholes and ambiguities in the law were exploited to the maximum so as foil any pretext by authorities to intervene.
This network, l’Onda, which continues to grow in vitality, is responsible for this “new way” of protesting which consists of apparently spontaneous happenings decentralized throughout the territory. It’s very much like a living organism that has no head or tail, nor can be dismembered or decapitated. Excuse the crude language but the metaphor is apt. Every segment is the head and the body. So it all appears very spontaneous and improvised but to the contrary is highly organized. The movement causes disorientation because it appears to be far greater than what it is. But at the same time it is light and quick. The city of Rome has been chaotic for the past ten days because the students make themselves strongly present everywhere without totally occupying the territory. In fact, most people enjoy the chaos and goad on the students. Anti-student comments are very rare.
Most of the initiatives testify to the brilliance of the student organizers, such as public classes in major historical squares or even slums. The classes are so fascinating that many people stop what they routinely do just to listen and participate in the lessons. These educational events act as content-rich disruptive events in the average citizen’s daily life. They have helped immensely in winning over much of the population to the students’ protest and totally isolating the government in its boob tube castle.
All attempts by government propaganda to smear the movement have been ineffectual since the students have been very quick at turning government snippets upside down or turning them into a counter-slogan. To this the students add recurrent taunts against government figures, a leitmotif of insults, usually associated with that age-group, but which becomes a strong tool.
It is in this frustrating context that the government has sought to raise the level of conflict as hoped by Cossiga, the editorialists of the Berlusconi press, and sundry sycophants. In Piazza Navona and Bologna the government found grist for their attempt to criminalize the movement.
As usual, the fascists are the willing tools of the authorities. (‘Cossiga’ is former Italian President Francesco Cossiga.)
Oh yeah. Polish antifa prepare…