FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Neoliberalism and War in Italy

by TARIQ ALI

 

The states of Western Europe continue to resist harmonisation. On the same day that the chicaneries of every antiquated careerist vying for the New Labour deputy leadership were made public, each justifying his/her grotesque decision to support the war and occupation Iraq, the centre-Left Italian government—not yet a year old— fell after a debate on foreign policy in the Upper Chamber.

It was not Iraq that was at issue here. Unlike New Labour (protected by undemocratic electoral laws), the whole of the Italian Left and 80 percent of the population opposed that war. The dispute this week concerned two issues: Operation Enduring Freedom—the satirical self-description of the NATO/UN occupation of Afghanistan— and the expansion of the US military base in Vicenza in Northern Italy.

Two leftwing Senators voted against the government in the Italian Senate after Prodi and his Foreign Minister D’Alema had made the vote an issue of confidence, arguing that Afghanistan was a legal war because it was supported by the United Nations. He meant, of course, the Security Council with its iron-fisted monopoly of power still firmly under the control of five countries who were victorious in the Second world war. His arguments failed to sway two dissenting Senators from the left.

As a result, a weakened Romano Prodi, the prudent spokesman of an immoderate bourgeoisie, has resigned. His popularity was on the wane (36 percent as against 44 percent who backed the coalition) as was that of his neo-liberal Finance Minister, Tommaso Padoa-Schippo (30 percent) whose attempts at casualisation and short-term contracts for workers have also divided the government, many of whose supporters and a few Ministers participated in the mass protests of last November in defence of universal, publicly-financed social services and against any restriction of social rights.

Could it be that they wanted to be defeated so as to re-jig the coalition by attracting a moderate Centre-Right party to join their ranks and dumping the Refounded Communists? It’s a risky operation, especially as the RC leader, Fausto Bertinotti (drunk with happiness at becoming a dignitary of the State) has kept their principles under heavy wraps, but the next few weeks will tell.

Only a week earlier, Prodi had explicitly forbidden any member of the Cabinet from participation in the mass demonstration (100,000 according to La Repubblica) protesting the extension of the base. Now the crisis within the Left is out in the open. 62 percent of Italians and 73 percent of the government’s supporters want to withdraw all Italian troops from Afghanistan. Like centre politicians elsewhere Berlusconi, Prodi and D’Alema are united in ignoring public opinion.

Were it not for factional divisions on other issues (especially patronage and corrupt commissions) the Opposition would have voted with Prodi. But Italian politics remains volatile and unpredictable while grandees of the centre-Left and their equivalents on the Right exude the stench of putrefaction, the muck of their fatherland. The EU is too weak a political entity to provide any serious assistance and Latin America where new alternatives are being discussed and implemented is geo-politically remote.

TARIQ ALI’s new book, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso. He can be reached at: tariq.ali3@btinternet.com

 

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

May 05, 2016
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
Dean Baker
Time for an Accountable Federal Reserve
Ted Rall
Working for US Gov Means Never Saying Sorry
Dave Welsh
Hunger Strikers at Mission Police Station: “Stop the execution of our people”
John Eskow
The Death of Prince and the Death of Lonnie Mack
May 02, 2016
Michael Hudson – Gordon Long
Wall Street Has Taken Over the Economy and is Draining It
Paul Street
The Bernie Fade Begins
Ron Jacobs
On the Frontlines of Peace: the Life of Daniel Berrigan
Louis Yako
Dubai Transit
Bill Quigley
Teacher, Union Leader, Labor Lawyer: Profile of Chris Williams Social Justice Advocate
Patrick Cockburn
Into the Green Zone: Iraq’s Disintegrating Political System
Lawrence Ware
Trump is the Presidential Candidate the Republicans Deserve
Ron Forthofer
Just Say No to Corporate Rule
Ralph Nader
The Long-Distance Rebound of Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail