Thursday, December 13, 2007

How to rebuild a revolution from just DNA samples

David Seaton's News Links
Today's Wall Street Journal has an interesting article on its front page about a resurgence of the Italian "Red Brigades".

Full points to the WSJ for picking up on the story and for giving it such prominent treatment. This is not exceptional for them. It was Noam Chomsky's recommendation that got me reading the WSJ. If you discount its Neanderthal opinion section, it probably has less bullshit in it than any other American paper. We can only hope that Murdoch doesn't spoil it. I don't think all his fellow billionaires would ever forgive him if he did.

Getting back to the article: The social peace that was achieved in Europe with the creation of the welfare state is slowly being picked apart by the new economy and violent groups of young people are beginning to appear. A situation where university graduates cannot find anything better than delivering pizza on a thousand euros a month is a sure recipe for organized political violence anywhere where there is a well rooted tradition of it. The return of the Red Brigades is just the tip of an iceberg.

The violent right, the racist "skin-heads", have been around for quite awhile, but now they are being confronted in the street by "red-skins", young men of working class background who call themselves "anti-fascists". So far these red-skins are politically naive, mouthing slogans read off of posters, but achieving political sophistication is just a question of reading and discussion, acting, evaluating and criticizing. It's a path well trodden over the last hundred years and its techniques are well known. Many like to talk, but few dare or care to act. It easier to take people of action and teach them analysis than to take armchair anythings and move them to action which could lead them to physical discomfort.

The most important thing is that these young people already have a militant class attitude. They know what side they are on. In today's deadening consumer and entertainment society that attitude is much harder to acquire than smooth, pink patter or even the formula for making pipe bombs on the Internet.

If these young people are not quickly offered some horizon of steady, unionized employment, the sort of jobs their father's and grandfather's enjoyed, a significant number of them will morph from street fighters into anti-system terrorists in the next decade.

If this happens it will be much worse than the "years of lead" of the Red Brigades as there are a lot more young people without any hopes of stable employment than there were then. Desperation can become a fashion and any economic downturn would multiply it. DS

In Europe, Some Still Cling To Dreams of Revolution - Wall Street Journal
Abstract: Beneath the archaic rhetoric and sweeping ambitions is a remarkable story of a political movement's survival. Long after Soviet communism collapsed, traces of a left-wing dream of revolution live on in corners of Europe, sometimes in virulent strains. Adherents say they're motivated by profound disappointment with how political struggles from a generation ago have played out. Instead of a more equitable society, they see one more out of kilter. Partly through years of strikes, European workers have won greater job and welfare protections. But debt-laden governments can no longer pay for it all, and a system of haves and have-nots has emerged. Young people chafe at a rigid job market with few opportunities. Communist parties espousing workers' rights still garner support. Italy has two, each with ministers in the government; France has five far-left groups. The parties retain the trappings of a militant era, like the hammer-and-sickle symbol, but most have lost their edge as they join governments and forge compromises. One result is that some who still cherish the dream of revolution have been forced to the margins of society or gone underground. Although the mass worker movements that fed the political violence of the 1970s have long vanished, left-wing political terrorism retains a romantic appeal. Italian movies such as "The Best of Youth" and "Buongiorno, Notte" -- co-written by a former Red Brigades member -- paint a seductive picture of idealism and violence that resonates with some. Investigators were struck by the sympathy the arrests kicked up. Graffiti in support of the Red Brigades and those arrested appeared on factory walls around Padua, and there were two protest marches. A Molotov cocktail was left, unexploded, at the home of a police investigator. That has left investigators with nagging worries. "We have dismantled this wing, but we don't know if there are others," says Bruno Megale, head of Milan's investigative police unit. "I think the siren call of revolution is buried deep inside this society." READ IT ALL


Anonymous said...

Well in the USA the trick of turning discontent into Nazism has certainly worked, but Europe probably won't make this mistake a second time.

I feel sorry for this whole generation of British and Americans who have been turned into religiously racist savages. It will take such a long time to repair the damage.

Also the child-like, underdeveloped mentality of these countries where so many social developments we Europeans had have never happened.. it's a pity.

johnny phenothiazine said...

A situation where university graduates cannot find anything better than delivering pizza on a thousand euros a month is a sure recipe for organized political violence anywhere where there is a well rooted tradition of it.

In that kind of an economy, a recent graduate from high school can't get a job even as a pizza-deliverer because all the older guys with job histories as well as the sharp types with college diplomas elbow in line in front of him.

In '73 we had another one of those slumps, where the collapse of domestic manufacturing orders from the Pentagon collided with OPEC's reaction to the Yom Kippur war. I had just got outa hi-skool, was trying to go to USF in Tampa. Of course I was broke. One day I saw this ad for a dishwasher job so I went to fill out an application. The guy at the restaurant told me he'd gotten one hundred applications for that dishwasher job.