“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx
Mar 4, 2013
After the results of the February 24th to 25th election, the Italian politicians will certainly have a big headache, and we’ll see if they’re able to relieve it. The result of the election was a “no confidence” vote for any one group of politicians.
One party, the Democratic Party, has a majority in the Chamber of Deputies, but not in the Senate. Silvio Berlusconi, the discredited former right-wing Prime Minister, and his center-right coalition made a spectacular recovery. This was at the expense of Professor Mario Monti, the most recent Prime Minister, who is worshiped by the bourgeoisie for imposing austerity, who lost his own center-right voters. Most successful of all was the Five Star Movement of the comedian Beppe Grillo, who said that all Italian politicians were incompetent and that he was going to kick them out. His coalition got 25% of the vote.
For now, this result shows the profound distress, indeed rage, of a part of the population.
This result is first of all due to the crisis and the policy of austerity which the Italian population has been subjected to. A little more than a year ago, the discredited Berlusconi was replaced by the “technical” administration of Professor Mario Monti. He increased the age at which workers can get Social Security pensions, changed labor legislation to make layoffs easier, imposed big budget cuts for public services and added a flurry of new taxes. All these measures only made the crisis worse.
Purchasing power is in free fall, workplaces are being closed, youth unemployment is way up and the despair of workers thrown on the streets has pushed some to suicide.
The left, represented by Pier Luigi Bersani’s Democratic Party, has nothing to promise other than continuing the same policy.
Comedian Beppe Grillo began his political success with “f--- you” days, where he gave the finger to politicians before a delighted public. He slowly assembled the program of his “non-movement,” which he didn’t want to be a party. They stand against government waste; for the environment; for people’s participation in affairs; for renewable energy; for a minimum wage; against Italy using the euro currency and against Merkel’s Germany.
It’s true that Italian politicians of all stripes offer a sad spectacle and their corruption is shocking. All the denunciations of the press are centered on the politicians’ incompetence. Grillo strikes a chord with the fantasy that bosses, workers and the entire population could agree to work together and could pull through, if the obstacles created by the political system and its rottenness were removed. But with this focus, those who are truly responsible for the crisis – the capitalists, the banks and the financial system – are ignored, as if the crisis could be averted simply by electing new politicians like Grillo.
But what the success of the Grillo forces indicates is primarily the incapacity of the Italian left to offer any perspective to the masses, and first of all the workers, who are the victims of the crisis. This left has done what it could to convince them that the class struggle didn’t make sense. It has carried out a government policy equal to that of the right, which has disoriented the workers, who ended up rejecting the left in a desperate search for a savior who doesn’t exist.
But the class struggle exists and is going to continue, above all on the part of the capitalists and financiers against the workers, who have no choice but to fight back – but on the basis of their own program, their own interests, to save themselves.