Below is a translation of Casarini's (spokesperson
for Italian Tute bianche White Overalls) interview with the Italian
Independent Left Newspaper "Il Manifesto"
No More White Overalls Anymore
Interview with Luca Casarini, one of the spokespeople of the "disobedient".
"When you see an armored police vehicle coming your way, you
run or react in the same way you react when you see a gun pointed
at you. We, in Genova, in Via Tolemaide, built a barricade to safeguard
our well-being. For three hours we reacted against police attacks.
We along with lots of others. Carlo died while defending himself against
attacks by the paramilitary carabinieri. At the same time, he was
there along with thousands of men and women to affirm that "another
world is possible". Luca Casarini, spokesperson for the group
of social centers [centri-sociali] in the northeast of Italy, charismatic
member of the Tute bianche, one of the driving forces of the Genoa
Social Forum, does not have tempered words about the days in Genoa.
" There is a huge difference between those who construct a barricade
to defend themselves and those who decide to militarily suppress a
large scale movement, such as the one against economic globalization.
The former affirms the right to change a reality that produces misery
and exploitation. the latter defends the G8 which is an illegitimate
organization that wants to decide the destiny of the world ignoring
the desires and hopes of those who inhabit it."
In Genoa we have seen the end of political mediation between movements
and institutions. I am thinking of the month in which the Genoa Social
Forum (GSF) carried out direct negotiations with the government, during
which time the oppositional, center-left members of parliament said
nothing of significance. Or the implosion of a party like the DS...
To speak of death is sad after what happened to Carlo. Yes, in Genoa
the institutional left died. Try to imagine the embarrassment of the
center-left which helped prepare for the G8 summit and then finds
itself face to face with the images of brutal beatings and Carlo laying
dead on the asphalt. They stammer and are speechless. And yet, preparation
for the G8 was their thing. We have attempted to analyze the global
government. We talked about Empire or better yet the imperial logic
of the global government. This means erosion of national sovereignty.
Not an end but erosion and reshaping itself into a global, imperial
system. In Genoa we saw the warlike way in which this manifested itself.
How to oppose this imperial system is a burning question which we
were ill-prepared to answer.
Il Manifesto: It seems to me that the Tute Bianche are also finished.
Ended. That's a bit too strong. Exhausted perhaps, the conclusion
of a phase, certainly. The tute bianche was an experiment which attempted
to make the idea of conflict legitimate again. Try to picture the
Genoa Social Forum. There are Catholics and us, the Arci, the Cobas,
the Lilliput Network, Drop the Debt and Fiom. A powerful mixture.
We acted as the main driving force without trying to gain hegemony.
As tute bianche we have covered a lot of ground and questioned ourselves
as to what we were doing. A positive experience but one which now
seems inadequate to deal with the imperial system that faces us, where
politics is the continuation of war and not vice-versa, as Karl Von
Clausewitz has written. Think about the Balkans, Palestine, Africa.
Many people forecast that that this autumn we will enter a delicate
phase of social struggle. Workers who have seen the Cisl and the Uil
sign a humiliating contract and the Fiom who has called for a general
strike. Then schools that have become businesses, hospitals that treat
health like merchandise...
It's these last factors that bring me to say that the phase of civil
disobedience has been exhausted. Now that needs to change into social
disobedience. It needs to be noted that all aspects of the Genoa Social
Forum are in a state of crisis. But this does not mean paralysis so
much as a recognition of the limits of its analysis, perspective and
political agenda. That social forums are created in every city is
positive, that they form alliances is fundamental. Even if I prefer
to think not about alliances but a social process in which the movement
becomes a magnet that exercises its influence on social forms and
realities through a distance. Think about what happened in Genova
with attorneys and volunteer health workers. Lawyers who were certainly
democrats but certainly not close to the Genoa Social Forum, who after
having discussed the matter, decided to wear shirts with " Union
of Democratic Lawyers" inscribed on them and to come to the demonstration;
these same lawyers argue with genovese lawyers after the police beatings
grew into the hundreds and had them write a harsh document about the
workings of the government to the Department on Criminal Matters.
Or look at the experience of the nurses and doctors who looked after
those who had been beaten and then got beaten themselves by the police
forces. Two positive examples of networks that developed as a result
of being drawn to the theme of the movement. This doesn't mean that
all is going so smoothly. We find ourselves faced with a tough difficult
reality which must be understood and analyzed anew. It's not fascism
but a change of state form which lends itself to a profound transformation
in the means of producing wealth and subjectivity. And that is on
a global level. Think about what happened on the streets of Genoa.
It seemed like a riot not a street demonstration. This needs to be
understood, analyzed. I am not talking about the "Black Block"
obviously but about those that fought back. The so-called "Black
Block" should not be incriminated though. They are people who
believe that to attack capitalism it suffices to break windows. That's
their "Smash Capitalism". We think otherwise. We think in
terms of a process of social transformation where "the network
of several networks" becomes a magnet which grows in strength
and favors the birth of other social networks.
Il Manifesto: I think that it's right to posit that after Genoa "nothing
is the same as before". But for you, what has changed?
I ask that you revisit the days of Friday the 20th and Saturday the
21st. Or better the photo that the weekly "Carta" and then
you, "Il Manifesto" published. It was done by Tano D'amico
and shows how already in Via Tolemaide, well before Carlo was killed,
the police [carabinieri] had pulled out their pistols from the holsters
against us. This shows the militaristic position of the government
toward the anti-G8 demonstration. The police charged violently. We
fought back and I stand behind our response as a political fact. Nonetheless,
for us to also take up militaristic tactics would b crazy and political
suicide. At Genoa there were all the forces of order, the army, the
Secret Services of the eight most powerful - both economically and
militarily-nations on the planet. Our movement cannot measure up with
that type of military power. We would be crushed within three months.
Therefore we have to find a third way between those who reject economic
globalization and those who opt for a symbolic gesture, like demolishing
Il Manifesto: There are those who argue that Via Tolemanide was a
trap into which you fell...
Was there naivite on our part? Maybe. But I see it in another way.
As Tute Bianche, we signed a pact with the Genoa Social Forum and
we respected it. In the preparatory meeting for the day of "disobedience
(Friday, 20th) we never hid our intention to violate the Red Zone.
We were even clear about what instruments we would use. We didn't
carry clubs or attack weapons. We didn't even wear white overalls,
a decison discussed at length among ourselves at Carlini Stadium..
I think that it was right to do so because when you immerse yourself
in a networked reality such as this movement, the important ingredient
is not the demands of one group as much as the "contamination"
between different groups who nonetheless share a common goal. If in
Genoa we were naive, then this is how we were naive: remaining faithful
to the pact, respecting those who thought differently from us but
who like us wanted to achieve an objective. Was it a trap? Yes, set
there to ensnare the entire movement.
In the past, it has been written that the Tute bianche were faking
it. That confronting the police was a gag. There were those who went
to the point of saying that we had some kind of agreement with the
police forces. It has never been so. Two, three years ago we thought
at length about how to act in a conflict without it becoming destructive.
Our technique was different: we stated publicly what we wanted to
do, letting it be known that if the police attacked us, we would defend
ourselves only with shields and padding. It was our rule because it
was essential that we create conflict and consensus about the objectives
that we set-up for ourselves. In Genoa we expected that more or less
the same thing as usual would happen. They deceived us. Try and remember
the meetings of the Genoa Social Forum with Scajola and Ruggiero:
none of the guidelines agreed upon were respected by them. The police
forces used firearms, even though they had assured us that they would
not be. The right to demonstrate which Ruggiero agreed was an inalienable
right was run over under the wheels of the armored police cars.
Il Manifesto: And now?
For me it is essential to start from what has been called "The
Carlini Laboratory". Intense experience. It taught me a lot.
For example, how to build a public space where "multitude"
was not just a word but a shared political constuction by the "disobedient".