Last Saturday, October 20th, hundreds of thousands workers and youth marched through the streets of Rome.
A demonstration was called by the two main daily newspapers of the left wing, Il Manifesto and Liberazione (the Prc newspaper) to ask the Prodi government to change its policies, which have been very moderate so far.
The call for a demo was quickly endorsed by the two parties which still refer to communism - at least in their name - Communist Refoundation (Rifondazione Comunista, Prc) and the Party of the Italian Communists (Partito dei Comunisti italiani, Pdci).
The demo attendance went beyond any and all expectations. A huge stream of people carrying red flags flooded Rome. Some bourgeoisie newspapers, like Corriere della sera even wrote that there were a million people present in San Giovanni Square, where the demo ended. It was the biggest demo in the last three or four years.
Even if the declared purpose of the organisers was to influence the government, amongst the demonstrators there was a general feeling of mistrust towards Prodi and all the bourgeois ministers and leaders of the "Unione" coalition.
This demo reveals the growing disappointment of an increasing number of people with the Prodi government, which, after 18 months in power, was not able to deliver any promises made to the working class before the elections.
On the contrary, the two budgets (2007 and the one proposed for the next year) give a lot of benefits to the bosses. In July, a new agreement on welfare and pensions between the government, the bosses' organisation and the unions was signed. This agreement extends the age for retirement pay, taxes overtime pay and keeps in force all the counter-reforms put in place by Berlusconi concerning the casualisation of labour.
The October 20 demo was a signal from a significant sector of workers and youth that they have had enough. They can no longer stand a government, where the left wing parties are involved, moving to the right. They can't stand the new project of a new bourgeoisie party, the Democratic party (which we deal with in another article) which is being created with the aim of annihilating the presence of the communists in Italy.
A certain amount of pressure was put on the organisers of the demo to cancel it, not only by the bourgeoisie press, but also by the main leader of Cgil, the biggest trade union, and other "left" leaders. They say that because the official political platform of the demo was against some points of the welfare agreement, that it was against the trade unions and against the government. That's the degree of democracy that these union leaders can accept.
This is a part of an open clash that is deepening between the Cgil leadership and the Fiom (metal workers union). The Fiom Central committee voted no to the welfare agreement and Fiom structures and organisations were amongst the organisers of the Rome demo.
So, against everybody from the "establishment", the demo was a huge success. There was a general feeling amongst the people present that "we need to be here", to reaffirm that a party is not made only by MPs or leadership summits behind close doors, but by ordinary workers and youth and that it is only through struggle that we can achieve amything. Important sectors of workers in struggle were at the demo. For example the workers of Vodafone, the big multinational that wants to outsource more than 900 Italian employees (out if a total of nine thousand).
In all these months after the 2006 elections the class struggle has not abated in Italy, but has been waged by only one class, the bourgeoisie.
After a period of relative "social peace" things are moving again. In a referendum called by the unions to approve the July welfare agreement, one million out of five million workers voted "no". This twenty per cent is a relevant figure, given the fact that no-one organised the "no vote", apart from some left wing trade union activists, amongst which the FalceMartello supporters were in the front line. The "No" vote got the majority in the metal sector and got 65% in the biggest factories, the ones with more than 500 employees.
After the demos the Prc leaders immediately declared that the government was "stronger" and that their loyalty to Prodi was not in discussion. The reality is precisely the opposite. Every day this government is weaker, torn by irreconcilable contradictions, the classical contradictions of a government of class coalition. A sizeable sector of the bourgeoisie is preparing a future government without Prodi, and especially without the left parties. A government that will be dominated by the new Democratic party and its new leader, Veltroni. The leadership of the Prc, instead of clinging on to a collapsing wall, should be preparing an alternative. The first step should be to place itself in opposition to the present government.
This was one of the main slogans of the supporters of FalceMartello at the demo, written on the huge banner carried through the streets of Rome: "For a party of struggle and opposition". We shouted slogans aimed at breaking all the links between the bosses' parties and the workers workers, along with those very critical of the attitude of the government and of the leaders of the Prc. With slogans like "Cuts, war and privatisations, if we want all this, Berlusconi was enough" or "Communist Refoundation we need you in the struggles and not stuck in your seats". With a contingent over 300 strong, we were one of the most militant sectors of the demonstration.
It is a good beginning for the many "deadlines" that we will have in the next period. The main one is going to be the Prc congress, at the beginning of 2008, where we are resolute to do all our best to defend and to circulate the ideas of Marxism all over Italy.