The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Italy:
A Catastrophe and a Warning

Aug 20, 2018

The following article was translated from Lutte Ouvrière, the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group of that name active in France.

The collapse of a highway bridge on August 14 outside the Italian city of Genoa killed dozens of people. It sparked outrage and raised many questions. How could they let a bridge that carries 25 million vehicles each year degrade to that point? Are the other bridges around Genoa in the same state of disrepair? What about in the rest of the country, and in other similar countries?

Opened to big fanfare in 1967 because it helped reduce congestion in Genoa, the bridge was known for its structural defects. Two years ago, an engineering expert on reinforced concrete said that the bridge needed to be demolished and replaced. The trust Benetton was the principal investor in the private company that managed the bridge, Autostrade per l’Italia. It finally put out a call for bids to repair the bridge, it certainly did not hurry to get the work started. This did not keep its directors, a little after the accident, from declaring that they did all the necessary maintenance and safety controls, and, in sum, that there was nothing they could be reproached for.

The Benetton empire, one of the biggest financial groups in Italy, doesn’t invest in highways for fun, obviously, but in order to make profits. To seriously maintain the bridge or replace it would interrupt the circulation of cars and the flow of money. But the Italian Minister of the Interior, Salvini, did not say this, and instead blamed the bridge collapse on the cutbacks imposed by the European Union. This is a way to protect the interests of this financial group and clear his Italian allies.

The public authorities at every level, from the city to the central government, had many warnings, for many years. As in every country, they are responsible for maintaining public works and protecting the safety of the population. And, as in every country, from Germany and France to the United States, they have devoted public money more to giving gifts to the capitalists than to the general interests of the population.

The collapse of this bridge in Genoa illustrates the state of the capitalist world: monstrous parasitism by a few financial groups helped by the state produces rot and social degradation that leads to catastrophe.