Commentary. We must be steadfast in our conviction that, both for the criminal invasion by Putin and the murderous Iranian repression, we need constant mobilization of the international community, social movements and governments.

The duty to choose hope in 2023

A war that no government believed was possible until the day of the invasion. Galloping inflation that no central bank took seriously. A pandemic that is back in the headlines with China’s about-turn on the measures to contain it. Add a few extreme events (floods and droughts) and the list of the horrors of 2022 might be complete.

For 10 months, we have been living the daily horror unleashed by Putin against the Ukrainian people. Ten months of barbaric invasion, atrocious war crimes, the largest exodus of European citizens chased away by bombs, a civilian population as the main, declared, even ostentatious war target. And still there is no glimmer of a cease-fire that could start peace talks.

Looking further at the world, another regime is oppressing its people, raping men and women, imprisoning them and hanging them from cranes in the squares. A massacre of young people, children and women hungry for freedom, willing to gamble with their lives rather than spend them as slaves of the medieval regime of the Ayatollahs.

It won’t be easy to get Putin or Khamenei, allies in the war on the unbelievers of the collective West, to put an end to their atrocities, but we must be steadfast in our conviction that, both for the criminal invasion by Putin and the murderous Iranian repression, we need constant mobilization of the international community, social movements and governments.

And if we turn our gaze to Italy, we are forced to come to terms with a “black” 2022 – in every sense. Beginning with the transition from Draghi the frying pan to the hot coals of Meloni, who, for almost a hundred days, together with her diminished squires, Salvini and Berlusconi, has held the “nation” in her grip. From the first decrees, confidence votes and “guillotines” against Parliament, it is already clear that they will behave like those who preceded them, and worse, towards parliamentary institutions. And maybe at the end of 2023 we will even be in that particular circle of Hell of presidentialism and differentiated autonomy.

In some ways, it has been a politically vibrant year (from Mattarella’s reply from the presidential pulpit to the local and general elections), so we have had a substantial taste when it comes to content. The right is doing what the right does, in a quick march toward a progressive dismantling of the welfare state (as moderate figures such as former Prime Minister Monti are warning). A reactionary political line, starting with health care, already a victim of deadly defunding for the benefit of the private sector. Fewer taxes and fewer social services. Less citizenship income and more vouchers to fuel the rising tide of precariousness, robbing work of the value of dignity and its significance as a road out of poverty. More amnesties and fewer green policies. A government working hard to lengthen the lines at Caritas soup kitchens.

Besides, this exquisitely made-in-Italy right-wing is also Fascistoid and nostalgic of the Republic of Salò, with the President of the Senate, the second-highest office of state, having busts of Mussolini in his living room and commemorating the birth of the MSI, when his institutional role should suggest keeping as far away from any political affiliation as possible.

Implementing these anti-popular measures has been entrusted to the less-than-excellent quality of the ministerial team, which is, however, illustrative. There’s a Minister of the Interior, an alter ego of Salvini, specializing in the fight against the NGOs, associations that are the expression of our democracies, and author of police decrees against music gatherings. A Minister of Education and Merit who likes to take on the mantle of a new Giovanni Gentile, committed to eradicating “politics in schools,” while students in vocational institutes are dying as a result of the ill-fated school-to-work experiment. A Minister of Transportation whom one wouldn’t trust with fixing a sidewalk, and an Environment Minister who could be summed up today in the manner in which Fortebraccio, a famous columnist for L’Unità, described certain political figures of his time: “The door opened and nobody came in. It was Pichetto Fratin.”

In September’s elections, which saw the least participation in the history of the Italian Republic, this right wing, cannibalized by Meloni (let us recall that FdI got twice the votes of the Lega in the right strongholds of the North, from Lombardy to Veneto), is riding high nonetheless, and can count on doing so throughout this legislature. Its staying power depends only on how well the Prime Minister will be able to keep her allies at bay. What’s more, it is clear that the government is also benefiting to some extent from the goodwill of the opposition, which seems very committed to making its task easier. Both those who are already offering to lend a hand, as Calenda did by going to the Chigi Palace to give unsolicited advice, and those who are pretending to be fearsome while nobody takes them seriously.

First of all, this can be seen with the PD and M5S, protagonists of different scripts, both of which sound great to the Prime Minister and her crew. There is the spectacle of the PD (the greatest architect of the September 25 defeat), uncertain about its identity and divided into four (as many as there are candidates for the secretariat), moving on the brink of the abyss, leaderless, without an alliance policy. Undecided whether to move to the left, in an attempt to win back those that ended up in Conte’s party, while risking to lose both leading figures and voters to the Renzi-Calenda pair.

The Five Star Movement seems to have gotten a new impetus by finding in the Democratic Party the old enemy from the days of the fight against the ruling class. Conte has taken off his pocket square, put on a sweater and is going around every demonstration, not giving a damn that he’s ensuring a long and untroubled reign for the right wing, as is likely, if not certain, in Lazio. The other red-green left is just managing to get by, and even becoming divided, attracted both by the siren call of the Five Stars and the alliance with the PD.

If this is what is happening now, how can one hope for a less terrible 2023 for the country? There’s no chance this government will be able to reverse course and improve living and working conditions, despite the windfall of billions already received from Europe, with more to come.

So, to be able to imagine some glimpses of future perspectives, we wanted to devote an end-of-year special edition to the experiences, struggles and good practices that, in Italy and around the world, are charting their own course on many fronts: from the fleet of NGOs that are saving the lives of migrants, to the workers who are reinventing the factory, as at GKN, from the young climate protesters who are fighting to save the planet to the indigenous peoples who are fighting extractivist capitalism, and who now have the new president of Brazil, Lula De Silva, at their side.

As an old philosopher taught, although fear will always have more arguments, always choose hope. Happy New Year to one and all!

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