Neoliberalism and War in Italy



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).

October 07, 2015
Nancy Scheper-Hughes
Witness to a Troubled Saint-Making: Junipero Serra and the Theology of Failure
Luciana Bohne
The Double-Speak of American Civilian Humanitarianism
Joyce Nelson
TPP: Big Pharma’s Big Deal
Jonathan Cook
Israel Lights the Touchpaper at Al-Aqsa Again
Joseph Natoli
The Wreckage in Sight We Fail To See
Piero Gleijeses
Jorge Risquet: the Brother I Never Had
Andrew Stewart
Do #BlackLivesMatter to Dunkin’ Donuts?
Rajesh Makwana
#GlobalGoals? The Truth About Poverty and How to Address It
Joan Berezin
Elections 2016: A New Opening or Business as Usual?
Dave Randle
The Man Who Sold Motown to the World
Adam Bartley
“Shameless”: Hillary Clinton, Human Rights and China
Binoy Kampmark
The Killings in Oregon: Business as Usual
Harvey Wasserman
Why Bernie and Hillary Must Address America’s Dying Nuke Reactors
Tom H. Hastings
Unarmed Cops and a Can-do Culture of Nonviolence
October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria