VENICE, Italy, October 16, 2011 - After years of protests against a corrupt and bungling Italian political
system whose Prime Minister legislates for his own benefit, some of the protesters in Rome last Saturday
apparently felt that walking through the capital with banners and slogans was a waste of time and energy.
The word went around about the necessity to resort to far tougher methods than the usual and
endless ranting against financial greed, political ineptitude, the steady curtailing of peoples
livelihoods and the sick plans to make the young and casually employed rather than the rich pay
for the deficits and debts.
In the aftermath of Saturdays violence the Italian media, traditional serfs of any politics, defined the
torching of four motor cars, a police vehicle and the smashing of a row of bank and shop windows as 'a
barbaric riot.' In reality the Rome incident - part of a world-wide anti-Wall street protest against bail-outs
for run-down banks and financial speculators was barely a hiccup, at worst a belch.
The storm is still in the making. Rome, like New York, is a warning.
Our democratic systems insist all protesters, and there were 150,000 in the streets of Rome
alone, must remain pacific. This way couples can wheel prams along, clowns can frolic along
the phalanxes of demonstrators and leaders of various groups and political parties can
address the crowd with their usual diatribe at the end of the day, not to placate people's
resentment but fan (false) hopes that permits those who marched to go home with a sense
The stratagem is always the same. So are the results. That's how democracy and liberal capitalism o
perates and survives.
But the system is faltering, not the greedy corporate tycoons and political heavyweights who see the
rest of the world as their playground, the rest of humanity as the fools that can be hoodwinked, but the
wall standing between the great mass of people and the few manipulating and exploiting them.
Suddenly, both in New York and in Rome, there were still those policemen and special forces who
waded in with raised batons and hammered viciously away but there was also a growing number of security
forces who held back, who must have felt their fate too was on this side of the street and not with the
mega-rich of the financial and political oligarchy.
Protesters in New York said some police officers helped them, talked to them kindly, even sympathized
with their aims. Other officers remained as brutal as ever. In Rome where police have rarely shown
compassion for protesters Saturday was different too. No bad clashes. Withdrawal often, rather then attack. So
much caution in fact politicians who see police as a vital barrier between their physical integrity and
angry mobs excessively praised the restraint of the security forces.
Of course the system fought back swiftly. In international diplomatic jargon those fighting allied forces or
invaders of their land (the good guys) are labeled 'terrorists' (bad guys). Now on domestic issues politicians
and their spin-masters in Italy have also coined a catch phrase to marginalize violent demonstrators. These
violators are called 'black block' a reference (just like Al Qaida) to an outdated group of young people who
wore black clothing and black shawls over their faces years ago during demonstrations and often
aggressively confronted police.
The black block, just as Al Qaida, has faded away to a few copycats but is superseded (just
like Al Qaida) by equally minded terrorists who see in violence the only means to achieve what
peaceful negotiations and bilateral dialogue has never managed to obtain.
Surely they too will soon be labeled 'terrorists', hauled before courts, perhaps special courts, after
being made to confess their plots to overthrow democratically elected governments who, so the bureaucrats
insist, labor for the good of the people in the difficult time of a recession (which the system produced itself).
Bianca Berlinguer, the daughter of the late leader of the disbanded Communist Party of Italy and now a
State-TV anchor woman illustrated just how much left and right have blended in this common vilification of
thetroublemakers. At the end of her riot report she said:The worst
part was: It deprived people of their right to peacefully demonstrate.
So it did. It also deprived our crooked governments of the right to perpetuate their system by tolerating
protests as sacrosanct democratic rights. Trouble is: These peaceful protests - hundreds, thousands of
them - have never brought about any change.