The rise of the extreme right in Italy and the struggle of the working class

Students in Rome at a “No Meloni Day” demonstration as a protest against the Italian administration in Dec. 2022. (Photo: GattoFurryPazzo /Wikimedia Commons)

By the Communist Platform – for the Communist Party of the Proletariat of Italy. Translated from Italian.

The crisis of the Draghi government

On July 21, 2022, Mario Draghi, a representative of the financial oligarchy, presented his resignation as leader of the Italian bourgeoisie government, since three parties of the “national unity” coalition (M5S, Lega, and Forza Italia [Five Star Movement, League, formerly Northern League, and Forward Italy –translator’s note]) did not vote on the motion of confidence that he requested.

At the root of the crisis of the Draghi government was the current conflict between the financial oligarchy and sectors of the middle classes crushed by the crisis, which have a significant economic and political weight in Italy.

The contradictions between bourgeois parties escalated in a situation of impending recession, with inflation over 8%, increasing misery and decline in the purchasing power of the masses, the resumption of the pandemic, supply crisis, runaway public debt, drought, and the consequences of the inter-imperialist war that aggravate the contradictions of the fictitious “national unity.”

The political crisis of the Draghi government was a manifestation of the difficulty for the Italian big bourgeoisie to impose its own political, economic and ideological program over the whole society. During the crisis, the will of big monopolies emerged to have greater stability and firmness in the government’s action, with a clear political majority in the parliament.

In this scenario, an electoral summer campaign began that sees the anti-worker, racist, and chauvinist right-wing parties on the offensive, while the reformist ones that supported the Draghi government were completely passive.

A mass rejection of the electoral process

The most relevant figures of the elections of September 25, 2022 showed the fall in the popular participation in the vote, to only 63.9%, a record low.

The phenomenon of abstention is becoming structural and growing, currently affecting more than a third of the electorate (36.1%, approximately 16.6 million citizens).

To this number should be added the null (about 817,000) and blank (about 492,000) ballots, for a total of almost 18 million citizens who rejected the electoral farce.

The abstention had a clear class and popular character: there are fewer and fewer votes in the polling stations of the working-class towns, industrial districts, suburbs of metropolises, cities, and southern countryside, among young people and women of the popular strata.

The level reached by the abstention shows the growing mistrust, estrangement and hostility of large sectors of the working masses and the younger generations towards the bourgeois parliament, institutions, and parties, which were largely de-legitimized during this round of the elections.

In other words, the electoral process was a clear expression of the breakdown of bourgeois democracy.

Our position was to actively boycott the election in order to strengthen the links with the section of working class that refused to vote, against all bourgeois and petty bourgeois parties.

“No electoral truce, no collaboration with the capitalists, the rich, the warmongers.” “No vote for the right-wing parties and no illusions about the reformists and opportunists.” “No alternative except the overthrow of capitalist barbarism and the construction of socialism!”

These slogans, shared by the revolutionary proletarians, had a good political response.

The electoral advance of the extreme right

Fratelli d’Italia (FDI [Brothers of Italy]), the extreme-right party headed by Giorgia Meloni, which was a result of political metamorphosis of neofascism, was the leading party in the September elections with about 26% of the vote (according to the bourgeois percentage method), that is to say a real consensus of about 16% of the voting-age population.

The right-wing coalition had about 43.8% of the votes (i.e., with a real consensus of less than 27%).

The number of votes obtained by this coalition was about 12.3 million, slightly more than those in 2018. The effective electoral weight of the right has not increased since 2008. The success of the FDI is directly related to the loss of votes of Lega and Forza Italia, its right-wing allies.

Meloni’s party capitalized on its formal opposition to the oligarchic Draghi government (the FDI is a pro-NATO party, supportive of EU rules), which managed to win over the conservative and reactionary votes on its lists.

Sectors of small entrepreneurs, artisans and merchants, medium and rich farmers, professionals, self-employed workers, the working-class aristocracy, public officials, housewives, etc. voted for the FDI. They are anxious about the prolonged economic stagnation, they suffer the consequences of the pressure of big capital, and are grappling with debts and the consequences of the pandemic, the war, and the climate crisis.

An unprincipled protest that the party of pro-fascist demagogy had won over, echoing the sentiments of sections of the exploited masses, uses them without scruples in its illusory and demagogic “program” in order to hide its real intentions.

The big bourgeoisie and reformism paved the way for Meloni’s premiership

The abrupt shift to the right in the Italian political axis was favored and made possible by two main factors.

First, the support of the most reactionary sectors of the bourgeoisie. With the start of the war in Ukraine, the energy crisis, and the approaching recession, the interests of the military-industrial and energy monopolies, of the industrialists grappling with fierce competition, old and new financial cliques, landowners, the great construction companies that devastate the environment, the obscurantist Catholic circles, and the mafia, have become even more aggressive.

These forces have “pragmatically” handed over the country to Meloni in order to secure a stable government that continues in a more aggressive way the same anti-worker policy of the Draghi government: to squeeze more surplus value out of wage workers’ rights and deny them their rights, to save profits and super-profits, to receive more and more state support to compete on international markets.

Secondly, the electoral victory of the FDI is the rotten fruit of the collaborationist and pro-oligarchic politics of the Democratic Party (DP) and the trade union bureaucracy linked to this party.

The social democratic and reformist leaders have paved the way for the far right with years of blatant collaborationist, pro-oligarchic policies, with privatizations, the “Jobs Act” and other laws in favor of the bosses, dismantling workers’ rights, with the rehabilitation of fascism, the equation of communism with fascism, etc. The division and paralysis of the working class, tenaciously pursued by the DP leaders and the trade union bureaucracy, favored the reactionary forces of the bourgeoisie.

A far-right government, the expression of the big monopolies

In October Parliament drafted and approved an anti-worker, warmongering, authoritarian government headed by Giorgia Meloni, the leader of the FDI.

It is the most reactionary government since the end of World War II, a government of restoration and fascistization of the State, of rearmament, assault on the rights of workers, migrants, women, young people, political, trade union, and civil freedoms, of anticommunism.

It is the government of an exploiting, reactionary, chauvinist minority, which dominates the working majority who want work, bread and peace.

It is a government of the monopolies, the bosses, the economic power of the Catholic Church, completely subservient to the USA and NATO.

The Meloni government has a large parliamentary majority, but it is a minority in the country itself; it does not have solid popular foundations or a strong presence in the working-class organizations. This is its Achilles heel, despite the bourgeoisie’s attempt to ensure stability and the firmness of its power.

The far-right government relies on a part of the deceived, bitter, and frustrated middle classes, but it is not a government of the petty bourgeoisie. Instead, it is a government of big capital.

Meloni’s slogan, “God, country, family,” serves to relaunch the role of the Italian monopolies in the area of ​​the “enlarged Mediterranean.” The policy and leadership of the Meloni government are characterized by these forces, not by the petty-bourgeois sectors that voted for it.

The shift to the right of the Italian political axis is a manifestation of the difficulties and decline of Italian financial monopoly capital, which needs to immobilize and disorganize the working class by exploiting the desire for revenge of the petty bourgeoisie crushed by the crises.

This is made possible by the fact that, in the context of the temporary defeat of socialism, the consequences of which have not yet been overcome, the working class is not in a position to lead the oppressed and exploited middle strata.

The ties of the extreme right with the military industrial complex

There is an obvious link between the far-right FDI and militarism, which develops within the aggressive and warmongering NATO bloc.

Meloni’s party has direct relations with the companies of the military-industrial complex and with those top hierarchies that promote the activities of the neo-fascists in the armed forces and the police.

Indicative of this link is the case of Guido Crosetto, a co-founder of the FDI, a former undersecretary of defense in the last Berlusconi government and since October 21 the defense (that is, war) minister, president of the Federation of Italian companies for aerospace, defense and security of “Confindustria” and since April 2020 president of “Orizzonte Sistemi Navali,” a joint venture between Fincantieri and Leonardo specialized in high-tech systems.

Undoubtedly the war industry is behind the leaders of the FDI, and the current war in Ukraine strengthens the relationship between the extreme right, the warmongering sector of the bourgeoisie, and the army.

The FDI’s chauvinism is a mask behind which are the interests of the most warmongering and anti-democratic monopoly circles, such as those of the military-industrial complex, aeronautical and space companies, military shipbuilding, energy monopolies, etc.

These powerful forces, in the conditions of fierce imperialist rivalry, use the ideology of aggressive and fanatical nationalism as a means of struggle in the competition for market outlets, natural resources, the exploitation of the proletariat, supporting and financing the parties which support their interests by pursuing “power politics” and the arms race.

One of the priorities of the Meloni government is the sale of arms — means of warfare and weapon systems — to reactionary countries. It is no coincidence that one of Meloni’s first trips abroad was to Egypt led by the despot Al Sisi, who is negotiating for the purchase of 24 Eurofighters, worth 3 billion euros.

But the far-right government’s militaristic policy is not limited to arms sales. Its plans require new warfare systems, greater recruitment into the armed forces, improvement of infrastructure, new lines of communications, control of the territory and patrolling of the seas, defense of the “European borders,” more and more military maneuvers in the theaters of war, support to the counter-revolutionary and putschist forces of other countries, etc.

The anti-working-class and warmongering politics of the Meloni government

The first steps of the government headed by Meloni in domestic and foreign policy show that it is the heir of the anti-working class and anti-popular line established by previous bourgeois governments, making it even more ferocious and chauvinist. Its political objectives are clear: to continue the capitalist offensive against the working class; to delay as much as possible the recovery of the proletariat and the popular masses, blocking their action and limiting the freedom of demonstration and participation in protests; to favor some sectors of the middle strata in order to create an anti-worker bloc under the leadership of the big bourgeoisie; to fully follow the war policy decided by US imperialism, involving our country more and more in the armed conflict in Ukraine, increasing military spending at the expense of social spending; and to recover energy sources in North Africa and the lost influence in the Western Balkans.

The government’s first act was a decree limiting the right to demonstrate. It immediately stood out for its attack on migrants and the revival of inhuman and racist attitudes, its proposals for constitutional amendments aiming at authoritarian presidentialism and “differentiated autonomy” which would increase the existing inequalities between rich and poor regions of our country, undermining the unity of workers’ basic rights.

At the same time, bills were presented in Parliament which explicitly aim to weaken the fundamental tool of the national employment contract and the right to abortion.

Meloni’s government refuses negotiations with the trade union leaders; it has no intention of restarting a “social dialogue” but is adopting new anti-worker measures. In the workplaces, the despotism of the capitalists has become even more aggressive, encouraged by the new government, which has declared that it “does not disturb those who produce,” that is, those who exploit the workers.

To deepen the existing divisions in the class the Meloni government’s maneuver went in two directions: attacking new immigrants and attacking beneficiaries of the “income of citizenship” (unemployed and poor people).

The 2023 budget law was agreed to by the government with the EU, in line with the “suggestions” of the IMF and the credit rating agencies. It was set up to defend the interests of big capital, the rich, the mafia, and the wealthy strata of the petty bourgeoisie.

The policy of Meloni’s government will not stop inflation, but will help to increase the prices of necessary goods and the super-profits of the monopolies.

The workers, the unemployed, the poor people are being attacked by this policy. The demagogic electoral promises vanished in a month: the policy of the Meloni government increases mass poverty, while a small minority is being enriched dramatically.

This neoliberal policy is accompanied by the intensification of repression and state violence, because the ruling class is aware that social antagonism will become harsher and more acute.

While the government continue to cut social services, health care, and social security, military spending continues to increase.

In foreign policy, the Meloni government juggles between participation in the EU and vassalage to the USA in an anti-Russian and anti-Chinese manner.

The current government, following the same pro-US/NATO policy as the previous ones, has decided to send more weapons, missiles, tanks, and financial aid to the Ukrainian regime for all of 2023, while renewing sanctions against Russia that affect the Italian economy. This is accompanied by the financing of all the other military missions abroad and by arms sales to reactionary regimes.

Meanwhile, an intense war activity is being deployed from the military bases on the national territory (others are being built with public funds), tied to the chariot of the USA and NATO. And new atomic bombs operated by the Yankees are accepted in our country.

Perspectives of struggle and the tasks of the communists

In this scenario, the will of large working-class and popular strata to resist the bosses and the government offensive, for stable and safe work, for large wage increases, against the consequences of the war, is clearly expressed in the workplaces and the streets.

During the autumn of 2022, the trade union CGIL and other grassroots unions carried out provincial, regional, and national strikes and demonstrations. The mobilizations against dismissals, to raise wages and to improve health and workers’ safety, have not stopped, even if they are divided by the trade union bureaucracy. Also, the students are struggling against reactionary measures and fascist attacks.

Despite the militaristic propaganda, the majority of the popular masses are against Italy’s participation in the war against Russia; they are against the country’s submission to and dependence on NATO and the EU, against the ferocious and inhumane migration policy of the Meloni government.

This resistance shows the way to oust Meloni’s ultra-reactionary government and all those responsible for the policy of sacrifice and war: the struggle and unity of the exploited and oppressed in the workplaces and the streets, not the parliamentary chatter of reformist, populist, and opportunist political non-entities.

The serious economic situation, the energy, environmental, and health crisis, the weight of war and debt, the international disputes, and above all the discontent and resumption of the class struggle will undermine the Meloni government.

The working class cannot live without a radical improvement in its living and working conditions. Therefore, the development of the mass struggle against the capitalists and their “new” government is inevitable. Its center of gravity will be outside Parliament, and it will be increasingly difficult for reformists and opportunists to hold back the development of this movement.

In the current situation, it is necessary to work daily and systematically in the working class for the unity of struggle of the workers’ and trade union movement, to build organizations (committees, councils, etc.) that embody the will to struggle of the working class, the popular and youth masses, coordinating with each other.

It is necessary to reject any policy of passivity, immobility, of waiting, of “moral” opposition, the delaying and dividing maneuvers by reformists and opportunists, immediately moving on to action, study, and struggle for work, bread, and peace, for workers’ freedom and rights, against the reactionary government and rising fascism.

Class unity must be achieved on the basis of struggle, giving impetus to the participation and mobilization of the workers, linking their urgent demands with the struggle against the imperialist war, for the withdrawal from NATO, the EU, and every other imperialist alliance.

Our aim is to give impetus to a united proletarian front and, and on this basis, to a popular front against imperialism and fascism.

Hard times await us, which require a multiplied effort for the realization of a systematic work of propaganda, agitation, and organization to transform the quality of the workers’ movement, to bring within it the idea-force of the revolutionary break with the capitalist-imperialist system, against opportunist and revisionist positions.

What the situation confirms is the urgent need for the working class, in order to fight victoriously against the bourgeoisie and reaction, to re-build its independent and revolutionary party based on Marxist-Leninist theory and proletarian internationalism.

The bourgeoisie is leading our country to ruin. Only the proletariat can save it with socialist revolution!

February, 2023

Categories: Anti-Fascism, International, Italy

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