The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Fascist Attacks and How to Respond

Oct 25, 2021

Translated from Lutte Ouvrière (Workers’ Struggle), the newspaper of the revolutionary workers’ group active in France.

Tens of thousands of people demonstrated in Rome on October 16 with the demand, “Fascism never again.” The appeal was launched by the leadership of the CGIL union confederation, the largest in Italy. It attracted the support of the other two major trade union confederations as well as political parties such as the (right wing) Five Star Movement and the current ruling Democratic Party, and more generally, the support of the government.

The demonstration followed an attack carried out the previous Saturday against the headquarters of the CGIL by a group of demonstrators who separated from the procession marching against the vaccination-or-test mandate and the extension of the vaccination mandate to all workers starting October 15. Led by militants of the neofascist group Forza Nuova, dozens of protestors forced open the CGIL’s doors and trashed the offices.

This attack on a symbol of organized workers aroused legitimate anger among union militants. Obviously it must be denounced by all worker militants. The motivations of its leaders were clear. Several fascist leaders of Forza Nuova explicitly made a link to atrocities committed a century earlier in 1920—1921, when fascist commandos systematically attacked union halls and socialist, communist and anarchist meeting places. And as for the spokesperson of the movement of small businesses and shopkeepers against the mandates—baptized “Me, I remain open"—they justified the attack on the CGIL by the need to fight for “freedom to work.”

It is also true that other demonstrators protesting against the expansion of the mandate either were drawn into this attack or supported it by yelling “Sold! Sold!” at the CGIL.

Among these protestors, some wanted to express their anger at the trade union leadership which seems even more complicit with the government because it supports the mandate of vaccine-or-test in workplaces without even speaking out against the disciplinary measures and the threat those who refuse to comply face: losing their wage.

The response the of CGIL leadership to the fascist aggression is not likely to dispel this confusion which the CGIL itself has helped to fuel through its policy of class collaboration. Nor does the CGIL’s response empower militant workers who are aware of the danger represented by fascist groups and more generally by the extreme right.

Our comrades in Italian revolutionary workers group L’Internazionale put it this way the day after the attack: "What was the response of CGIL leaders to the fascist aggression? Instead of calling for an immediate national general strike, they postponed any response to the following Saturday, calling for a large unitary demonstration ‘against all fascisms.’ The protection and defense of union offices has been reduced to a public order problem for the government to handle. Meanwhile Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s visit to the devastated CGIL headquarters has reinforced (...) the conviction that the unions are on the same side as those bourgeois elites—well paid and nobly thinking—from among whom the head of the government comes. It was not possible to send a more wrong message than this, a message that pushes these social strata even further into the arms of far-right groups."

Indeed, the demonstration on Saturday, October 16 had all the attributes of national unity, starting with Draghi’s administration’s support. Center-left Democratic Party Secretary Enrico Letta claimed it is necessary to come together: “All together behind the tricolor [Italian flag].” CGIL Secretary Maurizio Landini said opposition to political violence is necessary, and he demanded the dissolution of Forza Nuova, adding lip service to the effect that “more social justice in the country” is also needed.

Meanwhile, the second round of municipal elections took place on October 17 and 18 in 65 jurisdictions. There were high rates of abstention in lower-income neighborhoods, and a certain retreat of the right. But even if the exasperation of some ordinary people and workers was not expressed electorally, it is no less real. But the reformist political and trade union organizations give them no perspective. These organizations systematically replaced the class struggle with so-called social dialogue. They substituted the values of the workers’ movement with so-called republican values. They helped disarm the working class, depriving it of all confidence in the class struggle and in its own forces. And of course, the far right and the fascist groups rely on this circumstance to make them stronger.

On the other hand, to give a perspective to millions of workers, unemployed, and semi-employed people whom the worsening economic crisis throws into poverty, the workers’ movement will have to be reborn around a class policy. The future of society is not in the policies that Draghi pursues in the service of the bourgeoisie. The future depends on the ability of the workers to overthrow the power of the capitalist class.