He has been called one of the most original political thinkers of the 20th century. Historians point out that “If academic citations and internet references are any guide, he is more influential than Machiavelli.” And his impact on the way we think about the processes of social change has been described as “little short of electrifying.” The accomplishments of Antonio Gramsci, born in Italy in 1891, are all the more remarkable considering that his life was both short and notably difficult: His family was destitute in his childhood; he was sick for much of his life; he spent the prime of his adulthood confined to prison by Benito Mussolini’s fascists after his own party’s attempts to foment revolution had failed; he was often denied access to books during his incarceration; and he died at the age of just 46.
In Italy the Republic has never been able to fully settle accounts with fascism. By that, I mean that, under various conditions and in different cycles of Italian history, the antithesis between fascism and anti-fascism could emerge again, albeit in ever-changing ways. Anti-fascist culture has been through many ups and downs. It has, at times, enjoyed an absolutely overwhelming hegemony, also because of its rebirths — as in the early 1960s, and as in the long cycle opened up by 1968 and 1969, that is, in moments when it resisted attempts to erase or manipulate it — when it resisted attempts to reduce anti-fascism to nothing more than an ancient, historical memory. But what we are seeing today is another turning point.
Italy is one of a few countries in the European Union without a legal minimum wage; 21 out of 27 EU countries have instituted minimum wages. In Italy, minimum wages are only determined in collective labor agreements, but these salaries are often very low — around four to six euros per hour. In addition, Italy is the only country in the continent where since 1990, real wages are not growing — they even diminished by 3% in the last 30 years. Thus, one out of 10 people in Italy are working poor, among the youth, this number increases to one out of six. Already a year ago, Potere al Popolo started a political campaign seeking the introduction of a legal minimum wage. At the end of May, together with the alliance Unione Popolare, we submitted a legislative proposal to institute a minimum wage of at least 10 euros (US$ 10.72) per hour, which will also be automatically inflation-linked.
During the May 2023 Group of Seven (G7) summit, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, near where the meeting was held. Not doing so would have been an act of immense discourtesy. Despite many calls for an apology from the US for dropping an atomic bomb on a civilian population in 1945, US President Joe Biden has demurred. Instead, he wrote in the Peace Memorial guest book: ‘May the stories of this museum remind us all of our obligations to build a future of peace’. Apologies, amplified by the tensions of our time, take on interesting sociological and political roles.
Mainstream trade unions in Italy, including the Italian General Confederation of Labor (CGIL), the Italian Confederation of Workers’ Trade Unions (CISL), and the Italian Labor Union (UIL), organized a major demonstration in Milan on Saturday, May 13. The unions denounced the economic policies of the right-wing government led by Giorgia Meloni, including proposed cuts to public services and social welfare programs, along with lack of investment in job creation. Cadres from various political groups including the Communist Refoundation Party (PRC) also participated and expressed solidarity with workers.
In a region of 5 million people, there are 4000 co-operative businesses, that employ 250,000 people – just under a quarter of the entire workforce. The co-op movement in ER goes back to the mid 19th century, with roots in the workers’ mutual aid societies, and many of the early ones are still strong today. It wasn’t a reaction to capitalism. The co-op movement developed alongside capitalism. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit, but also a propensity to do things together – creating associations, unions, co-ops, credit unions etc. There’s joint purchasing and lobbying, collective bargaining etc. There’s a sense that ‘we have to solve problems together’ rather than as individuals.
Italian oil major Eni is facing the country’s first climate lawsuit, with environmental groups alleging the company used “greenwashing” to push for more fossil fuels despite knowing of the risks posed by burning its products since 1970. Greenpeace Italy and Italian advocacy group ReCommon aim to build on a similar case targeting Anglo-Dutch oil major Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands to force Eni to slash its carbon emissions by 45 percent by 2030. While Eni is among the world’s largest oil companies, the company’s role in climate change has so far undergone scant scrutiny.
The longest-ever factory in Italian history is taking place in Florence where the 300 workers are now making progress at turning it into a worker-owned non-profit that would pay the employees and produce products that would benefit the community. Should the workers succeed, it could provide an inspiration for others. For three years workers at the former automotive parts factory, GKN Florence, were in limbo. According to Investigative Reporting Project Italy, in 2018 GKN was purchased by the British hedge fund Melrose, which went about enacting its motto of “buy, improve, sell.”
Last week’s seminar with guest speaker Professor Vera Zamagni explored the various forms of value generated by Italian social cooperatives. Zamagni, an expert in economic history, particularly in the field of Italian social cooperatives, outlined the history and current prevalence of cooperatives in Italy, which are active in multiple sectors, including retail, distribution, agriculture/-food, housing, credit, and the production of goods and services. She noted that cooperatives were strengthened in Italy following World War II as a result of a provision in the country’s Constitution that mandates assistance for cooperatives and small to medium-sized businesses.
The US government organized a conference of its allies which it misleadingly called a “Summit for Democracy”, but which actually featured numerous anti-democratic, far-right regimes. The State Department invited 120 global leaders to participate in the summit on March 29 and 30. They did so virtually, via video calls. Several of the heads of state who spoke represent governments that even Western officials, corporate media outlets, and mainstream human rights organizations have admitted are authoritarian, including Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Andrzej Duda of Poland, and Narendra Modi of India.
Puglia, Italy - The mole arrived after dark — an almost 20-yard, 75-ton machine sent to bore a tunnel beneath the Adriatic Sea and into southern Italy. The tunnel would house the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), a multinational fossil fuel project critics say would threaten Salento’s turquoise coast, upend local farms, and enrich a corporation at the expense of the local population. The following evening, dozens of locals gathered in the streets to defend their territory against the pipeline’s incursion, and for the second time in two years, a rural swath of southern Italy’s Salento region was declared a “red zone” in early 2019. Riot police in blue helmets, shields and batons at the ready, closed coastal highways and country roads, stood guard at major intersections, and restricted movement for the sake of a pipeline that no one seemed to want. “Mafioso! Merda!” the protesters yelled, cursing at the officers. “What you are doing is dirty and you know it!”
Italian police announced a series of raids against the neo-Nazi Order of Hagal organization. Accused of stockpiling weapons and planning terror attacks, the group has established operational ties to the Ukrainian Azov Battalion. Five members of an Italian neo-Nazi organization known as the “Order of Hagal” were arrested on November 15th while an additional member remains wanted by authorities. He happened to be in Ukraine, fighting Russian forces alongside the Azov Battalion, which has been formally integrated into the Ukrainian military. The “Hagal” members are accused of plotting terrorist attacks on civilian and police targets. A sixth member of the Hagal group, now considered a fugitive, is in Ukraine and embedded with the Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi paramilitary group that has been incorporated into the Ukrainian National Guard.
An Italian social scientist and professor, Marco Grasso, has resigned from his post as director of a research unit at Università degli Studi Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB) in Milan, Italy, over the academic institution’s partnership with oil and gas major Eni, DeSmog can exclusively report. In February this year, UNIMIB and Eni signed a five-year “Joint Research Agreement,” (JRA) in which the university and the fossil fuel company pledged to collaborate on “research projects of common interest” related to the energy transition, according to an Eni press release. In a video promoting the partnership, the company’s CEO Claudio DeScalzi said it would be “crucial for the [energy] transition but also the transformation of Eni.”
The massive demonstration, organized by the USB (Unione Sindacale di Base) union, saw people burning energy bills in protest against skyrocketing costs of living, which are taking a huge toll on ordinary people in the southern European country. The demonstrators called on the government in Rome to leave the NATO military alliance and demanded an end to the Russian war in Ukraine, now in its eighth month. The simmering war in Ukraine has resulted in a severe energy crisis across the continent, fueling strong anti-NATO sentiments among people. Italy has been rocked by several such anti-government and anti-NATO demonstrations in recent months. In June, a demonstration was held in the center of the Italian capital for the withdrawal of Italy from NATO, against the supply of weapons to Ukraine and the spread of misinformation about Russia and the Ukrainian war.