Greenman's Occasional Organ

Ecosocialist. Syndicalist. Critical Techno-Progressive.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Italian Election : Anti-Politics and Reaction Hand in Hand

The Italian election results show a depressing picture of decline for the left and resurgence for the right, compounded by a weary anti-political mood. The Italian Green vote, whilst not large originally, appears to have declined very slightly, whilst the votes of the left parties they allied with in the "Rainbow Left" coalition declined precipitously.
More from Jim at Daily (Maybe) here.

The left in Italy have probably pleased no-one. First they cooperated in the centre left government coalition and lost lots of support due to the perceived compromise of principles, then they united outside the centre left coalition and lost support from those who favoured a more "popular frontist" strategy.

As ever, anti-politics and weariness and cynicism has fed not as anarchistic elements would wish into mass revolt, but mass abstention and disengagement, leading to a victory for a corrupt and reactionary right. This all brought to mind a discussion on Indymedia recently where "Stargrave" answered the arguments of abstentionists and immiserationists regarding their non-voting in the forthcoming London election which could see the victory of reactionary Tory Boris Johnson and the election of the first fascist assembly members:

It seems to me that the original post is arguing for a tactic and this position is being opposed from either a strategic or dogmatic position - i.e."Don't vote ever" or even the immiserationist "Let the right gain power as it will radicalise people". (a ridiculous strategy which current conditions in much of the world and the judgement of history have shown to be suicidal)
People need to get out of their bubbles and look at the effect of actions and tactics in the real world.
We DO NOT live in a society where there is a mass movement against capital, we ARE NOT on the verge of revolution. If that was the case then abstentionism might be arguable (though if it was the case there would probably arise an electoral expression of the movement that people might consider voting for) This is not to say we should not be building a mass movement, merely to state the FACTS as they stand.
We live in a situation where the global economy is taking a nose dive, ecological and social problems are escalating, and the main people benefitting from the growing alienation and disillusionment are the far right. To ignore this, and think that lifestylism or hiding in a purist ghetto are adequate responses is, quite frankly , juvenile and foolish.
To posit false choices "either vote or organise" is dishonest - why cant people vote (as a tactic, not a strategy - without buying into the "vote for this party and everything will be OK" arguments) to dinminish the chances of the fascists gaining a strategic advantage. As someone said above, the fascists gaining seats gives them further legitimacy, which means more sympathisers come out of the woodwork, more feel free to openly support them and their influence on the direction and tone of politics increases.
The mainstream parties and fascism are NOT the same, as anyone who has engaged in physical anti-fascism or studied history should know. From the point of view of the struggle, the more the fascists gain power and legitimacy, the more difficult it becomes to unite working people, the more organising is obstructed, the more repression comes down on our head and the more dangerous it becomes for people to express views in favour of our side.
The mistake made here by many has been made in France and Italy - where the far right now has a hold in many areas that were formerly dominated by the left. The rise of the right cannot be fought purely in physical terms, when they seek the "legitimate" route. If you do this you then become seen in the eyes of many of the working class as the "illegitimate" ones, attacking "freedom of speech" and promoting violence - as ridiculous as this may seem in the face of the rise of fascism. This is not to say that there is no place for physical anti-fascism - again it is a question of *tactics*, not strategy or principle.
So vote as a tactic, organise as a strategy. Look at the consequences of your actions and arguments.


The Italian election victory of Berlusconi et al adds further weight to the argument put forward by Stargrave, I hope those who plan to abstain or even worse, vote for the right in the misconceived hope of "punishing the imperfect left and provoking a popular left reaction" are paying attention!

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At 9:03 pm, Anonymous WorldbyStorm said...

Excellent stuff. I couldn't agree more and more relevant today than ever... I was depressed to see the PDS keep shifting towards the supposed mainstream all the while losing elements along the way. This fragmentation is a curse to the left... but as bad as you both say is turning away, or hoping things will get better after they've got worse... I notice that the right tends to pocket gains while the left fritters them away...


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