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From Umanita Nova redazione torinese <fat@inrete.it>
Date Tue, 29 May 2001 13:49:58 -0400 (EDT)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The birth of the so-called "Movement in White Overalls" traces back to
1998, when the Social Centers referring to the "Charter of Milan" decided
to break away =96 in their image as well =96 from the rest of the antagonist
movement that didn=92t adopt the political positions expressed in that=
The "Charter of Milan" welled up in an assembly held in that town on
September 19, 1998, at the Leoncavallo Social Center. It appears to be the
converging point of various paths within the area of social centers, such
as Leoncavallo, the "Melting" of social centers in North-East Italy (Padua,
Venice-Mestre etc.) and some in Rome (Corto Circuito, Forte Prenestino).
Later on centers of Liguria and Marche also flowed in.
The paths followed weren=92t in the whole homogeneous, but had been growing
in the former period around the tendency marked by militants seeking
re-definition and a new political role; the practice was carried out
through connections with the institutional "left" as well as with sectors
of volunteer associations, catholic ones in particular. At the same time
negotiations had been undertaken with mayors =96 right-wing ones as well =96=
obtain political recognition, and squatted centers legalized with the claim
that they were offering public services and entertainment, organized
through social cooperatives, tied to the "no-profit" sector.
In Mestre (Venice) in particular, negotiations resulted in the town-council
purchasing the squatted center "Rivolta" =96 formerly a factory =96 at the
approx. cost of 1 million US$ paid with public funds, favored by Benetton=92=
economic group, followed by legalization.
Such political "turn" =96 applauded both on left-wing press and TV =96 was t=
presented as the consequence of a theoretical revision assuming as expired
the period of class struggle and communist subversion, recognizing a not
well defined "Civil society" as new interlocutor and pointing out as
strategic goal a "conflictive reform of welfare" through the claiming of
universal rights, in the first place "citizen=92s revenue".
In the way of supporting these views, the social centers of the Milan
Charter discovered a queer federalism. Municipalism and self-government not
seen as radical alternatives for social self organization but rather as a
"new" model of democratic participation and political representation within
institutions such as local administrations. Thus Leoncavallo ended by
supporting a Christian democrat like Martinazzoli running to be elected
mayor of Milan.
While peeping from behind the flag of neo-zapatism, the next step was
participation of members of this area in local elections in the ranks of
Green Party or Rifondazione Comunista with an attitude expressing all but
opposition to the center-left governments. Luca Casarini, a spokesman (but
really: leader) of the W.O. was assigned as advisor of Livia Turco,
minister of Social Affairs whose name is bound to the law that introduced
concentration "kamps" for paperless or non legalized immigrants, waiting
for expulsion.
Since 1998, as a consequence of this "new" political course, a deep rupture
has taken place within the antagonist movement, with on the one side W.O.
more and more involved in institutional and social-democratic context; on
the other, social centers, squatts and experiences of social and
syndicalist self-organization that keep their points of reference in
"Autonomia di Classe" or the variegated expressions of anarchism ranging
from squatters to the Anarchist Federation (FAI).
During street demonstrations, one item concurred to worsen fractures =96 the
so-called "civil disobedience". In more than one occasion it appeared
plainly that some clashes between W.O. and police had been agreed
beforehand, as denounced on the daily-paper "il Manifesto" (Feb. 1, 2000)
in an article by Livio Quagliata titled "Urban guerrilla? But please=85".
Moreover, in several occasions and different places (Bologna, Aviano,
Treviso, Trieste, Venice, Rovigo=85), W.O. have been responsible of physical
aggressions, threats and informer behavior against autonomous, anarchists,
revolutionary communists and other sections of the movement for self
organization who reject political hegemony that W.O. pretends to impose to
the entire opposition movement with the complicity of the media.
Sandra K.

 "...Excuse us, comrades, but for us your unyieldness regarding principles
and refuse of every mediation with the institutions are more binded to
anarchist thinking and populist maximalism, like that of the former left
wing organisation Lotta Continua, than to our political formation of
activists. There is nothing wrong with it, just clear up the question. Do
allow us just to observe that the neo-anarchists propagandists of the
direct action and the fundamentalist and orthodox neo-communists have in
common the same extremism in pseudo-revolutionary language"
(taken from the declaration "Camminiamo interrogandoci", written by Radio
Sherwood in Padova, responding at the Movimento Antagonista Toscano,
october 1996 ).

"The State isn=92t anymore the enemy to throw down, but the counterpart with
whom we had to discuss things"
(Interview of Luca Casarini, supplement of the daily Il Gazzettino, 23
April 1998).

"The squatters of Turin are standing far away from us who are discussing
things with the institutions and are working on projects and initiatives.
They just occupy the social centres to live there and to isolate themselves
from the rest of society. Yesterday Valentino Castellani (the Mayor of
Turin) phoned me to ask my help. We did make an appointment"
(Interview of Luca Casarini, April 1998).

"In the Northern East part of the country the social centres, we have
produced new cadres, serious people like Luca Casarini. They are ours or
aren=92t they!? Now some social centres are orientating theirselves to an
indipendent enterprise. They have Cacciari (the Mayor of Venice) as an
intelligent interlocutor, they are thinking as a democratic lobby"
(Interview of Fausto Bertinotti, secretary of Rifondazione Comunista Party,
in Il Manifesto of 16 July 1998).

"The day that they won=92t call us anymore "autonomi" will be a feast" [...]
Ideology has been outrun"
(Interview of Max Gallob, spokesman of the social centre Pedro in Padova in
the daily Il Gazzettino of 15 march 2000).

"A Davos we have, along with Josef Bov=E9, the leader of the French farmers,
taken the megaphone inviting to isolate those who were chopping windows. We
did succeed, with the help of the youngsters of the social centres of
Mestre [...] I did meet the boys of the social centres of Mestre and Padova
who were token by Manconi (ex-secretary of the Green Party). I spoke with
them, I told them that by the first violent action they would been chased
away, after that I did listen to their reasoning. As a matter of fact in
Davos they stood at our side, they didn=92t throw any molotovs".
(Interview of Grazia Francescato, parliamentary and leader of the Green
party in the daily Corriere della Sera of 25 may 2000).

"In the antique shop we find the rests of revolutionary traditions that
passed by in the history of the XXth century: the communist one, the
anarchist, the workist (?) and other ones. Let=92s look at them ,
disillusioned because of what they are: fragments of a time passed by that,
with all his splendour and misery, victories and defeats, can=92t return
anymore, can=92t be reconstructed"
(form an statement on line by the redaction of Radio Sherwood, spring 2000).

"... If so exists also a reactionary left. full of nostalgia to class
identity, in his perfect way speculating at the little countries (of=
(Interview of Beppe Caccia, municipal councillor of Mestre and exponent of
the White Overalls, in the supplement "Musica" of the daily paper la
Repubblica in November 2000).

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