Against the Obligation of the “Green Pass” for all Workers!
(«Proletarian»; Nr. 18; Winter 2021-2022)
For some time now, far right organizations, like “Forza Nuova”, a well-known fascist formation, have been mobilizing to try to take the lead in the heterogeneous movement that opposes the restrictive measures with which the government has characterized, in a rather rapid succession, its “struggld against Covid-19”; this has finally been centered on a vast vaccination campaign, formally “non-compulsory”, but in fact imposed at all levels, as the introduction of the « green pass » (green passport) has amply demonstrated.
These measures involve increasingly severe sanctions against those who do not get vaccinated, starting with doctors and nurses, then school staff and students, until, with the latest decree, the suspension of salaries for all workers who do not have the green pass, which was made compulsory to go to work from October 15 and at least until December 31, 2021, the date of expiration of the state of emergency decreed by the government. The payment of the salary will be suspended for two and a half months. This is a particularly harsh measure against workers who do not vaccinate, not because they fear the shot, not because they are anti-vaccination on principle, but because they express through this refusal a deep distrust in the governmental management of the pandemic and health care, with a system of obligation dictated by the economic interests of Big Pharma multinationals, and because they see in these measures a greater social control of the dominant class.
According to statistics including both employees and self-employed, there are about 23 million workers in Italy. Among them, more than 5.5 million have not been vaccinated. The pressure exerted by the government to have 80% of the population vaccinated by September (a result that has not been achieved) and 100% (according to agreements made in 2014 with international institutions) by the end of the year, given the broad opposition of a large part of the population, resorts to the additional blackmail of the suspension of the salary of those who do not want to be vaccinated. The fact that this measure is associated with the simultaneous blocking of dismissals for these workers is a decoy to fool the workers for the umpteenth time: it is the carrot promised after the stick!
Thousands of people demonstrated on Saturday 9 October, particularly in Rome and Milan, against the green pass.
But it was the attack on the national headquarters of the CGIL trade union in Rome by a group of “Forza Nuova” militants, supported by a thousand demonstrators, that caused a sensation. It was immediately clear that this assault had been planned in advance, as had a similar initiative aimed at the Palazzo Chigi, the seat of government. While the few police officers at the entrance of the CGIL office were easily overpowered and the union offices were ransacked, the Palazzo Chigi was better guarded and the demonstrators did not manage to enter.
All the democratic forces in power have obviously shouted “no to violence wherever it comes from”. Some people warned against fascism, others equated fascist violence with that of the “No-Tav” demonstrators (opponents of the Lyon-Turin high-speed train), and of the “anti-vax”, while others tried to draw a parallel between the right-wing demonstrators in Rome shouting “no to the geen pass” and the demonstrators led by the base unions chanting “the trade unions at the service of the bosses!”. Nor could be missed accusations against the government and the Minister of the Interior for not having foreseen the riots, while in the streets of Rome there were well known to the police Forza Nuova activists and their leaders.
In response to the violence of the governmental measures summarized in the green pass, the petty-bourgeois crowd, full of anger and subject to a generalized malaise, interested in involving the proletariat in its protests, was directed against the symbols that represent this violence: the government building and the main Italian trade union, taking advantage of the imposition of the green pass to all workers.
Why attack the national headquarters of the CGIL?
In fact, this union, like the other CISL and UIL unions, immediately sided with the government in the vaccination campaign and the implementation of the green pass; it shares the same motivations as the employers’ organization Confindustria and the government on the vaccination campaign because it completely shares their objective of economic recovery and restarting the capitalist profit machine. It did not therefore organize any protest movement against the suspension of salaries for those who had not been vaccinated, seeking instead an agreement with the government and demanding free testing for unvaccinated workers. The unions have been perfectly consistent in their anti-worker collaborationist work since World War II, which has reduced them to agents of the capitalists and bourgeois power. The “base unions” are quite right to call them servants of the bosses; for its part, the extreme right is quite happy to point to the three unions as co-responsible for the imposition of the green pass; but, by directing its violence especially against the most important union, the CGIL, it seeks to threaten the proletariat in advance in case it wants to react with struggle and strikes independently of the collaborationist unions.
The attack against the CGIL is not due to the fact that it is a class union, as was the CGL of 1921-22, which organized the Italian proletariat on the terrain of the class struggle, making it permeable to the influence of the communist party in the struggle for revolution; it is due to the fact that it is a collaborationist union that kneels too much before the government and that it does not defend the “freedom of choice” of all citizens, whether they are workers, capitalists or small businessmen.
The parliamentary forces of the left and the center have obviously shouted against “fascism”, against “squadrism”, praising democracy and the Constitution, making themselves for the umpteenth time the spokespersons of the interests of social conservation. But even the parliamentary forces of the right, the “Lega” and the “Fratelli d’Italia” in particular, feel obliged to affirm that they are against “any violence” that comes from “four idiots” and “a few criminals” (M. Salvini, Lega), or from “delinquents who use any pretext to carry out serious and unacceptable violence” (G. Meloni, Fratelli...), or from insurrectionary anarchists or “No-Tavs”. The usual refrain “against all violence” – except the violence of the State, which should be considered legitimate and unquestionable – is regularly intoned by all the politicians huddled under the great wings of the State on which their caste privileges depend, except to stir the knife in the wound to obtain more advantages and means of pressure for private purposes.
Proletarians must not be fooled by an “anti-fascism” that aims to bind the workers even more strongly to the ever more pressing demands of capitalist profit; they must not be fooled by hymns to pacifism and interclass collaboration while the ruling class, through the state and all the political, economic and social forces that defend it, constantly shows its contempt for the lives of proletarians. The most striking demonstration is that of accidents and deaths at work due to the systematic lack of safety measures; in the first eight months of 2021 alone, according to INAIL, 349,449 accidents were reported (+8.5% compared to the same period in 2020) with no less than 772 fatal cases, that is, 3 deaths per day!!!, and due not to Covid-19, but to the exploitation of wage labor!
It was clear from the beginning of the pandemic that government action - in all countries - was aimed, on the one hand, at dealing in some way with a situation that was worsening month by month and which it was facing in a chaotic and contradictory way; and, on the other hand, at taking rapid measures to save the national economy and its capacity to resist, if not to overcome, competition from other countries. In order to defend the interests of the national economy, which had been plunged into a deeper crisis by the pandemic, the government – which, not surprisingly, equated the situation with a state of “war” – had to bend the proletariat to the urgent needs of national capitalism. The capitalists knew perfectly well that the economic crisis, which had become socially aggravated by the pandemic, could push the proletarian masses into revolt, as their living and working conditions, already considerably deteriorated during the last decade, would become even more difficult. Layoffs, and thus unemployment, are on the rise, as is job insecurity, underpaid work and undeclared work. And despite the shutdown of many operations in the fight against the spread of the infection and the closure of many businesses, other businesses continued to operate at full capacity, subjecting their workers to ever more severe work patterns and risks.
The economic crisis despite the much-vaunted “recovery” of recent quarters, has also ruined a significant part of the petty bourgeoisie, in the classic sectors in which it operates (restaurants, sports, tourism, entertainment, concerts, small-scale distribution), sectors that have been hard hit. And, as is often the case, it is these social strata that, through the parties that express their discontent, are the first to express their anger at the deterioration of their social situation. An anger that unites them and pushes them into the streets; an anger that also extends to certain proletarian strata that, not finding class channels to express it, join the petty bourgeoisie that is often also their employer. On the other hand, it is the petty bourgeois themselves who try to associate the proletariat with their protest because they need to reinforce it and to show that it is “the people” who is demonstrating and asking the government and the economic powers to save them from ruin.
But the proletarians, as wage earners, as unreserved workers, whose lives are at the mercy of a market where misfortunes are all channeled to the working classes and profits and privileges to the rich and wealthy classes, have no common interests with the petty bourgeois, and even less with the big ones. Their “immediate” interests, and even more so their “historical” interests, as the class that produces the general wealth appropriated by the dominant bourgeois class, respond to a social antagonism that they did not invent, but which is generated by the capitalist mode of production and which is used politically and socially by the dominant class to force them into perpetual submission to the demands of profit.
The dominant bourgeois class holds the economic and political power, represented by the state, and therefore the social power; powers that it uses to defend its class interests against those of the working class. This is how it systematically leads the struggle against the proletarian class, as the latest measures demonstrate for the umpteenth time.
In order for the proletarian struggle to have the strength to respond on the same ground and with the same violent means as the bourgeois ruling class, it must be able to rely on the independent class organization of the proletariat; this is still to be rebuilt, but it will inevitably be born from the resistance that the proletarians will manage to oppose to the increasing pressure and repression of the bourgeoisie. A struggle in which the proletarians will have to overcome the competition between them, which is purposely fed by the capitalists and the forces of interclass collaboration, by separating the objectives and the means of the class struggle from those of the petty bourgeois social strata that influence the proletariat because of their social proximity; social strata that only rebel against “the system”, against the “policy” of the government when they are in danger of sinking into proletarianization, i.e. of loosing their social position and their privileges. The proletarians who let themselves be dragged into the petty-bourgeois rebellion lose not only their class orientation – the only one that allows them to defend their immediate interests – but also the strength they potentially possess precisely because they are wage earners, because they are the source of capitalist profit and therefore producers of the wealth of society.
Democracy, reformism, class collaboration, are political weapons that the bourgeoisie uses to attenuate a social antagonism that the capitalist mode of production itself constantly generates - and that the bourgeoisie reiterates in every act and in every activity in all situations, especially the most serious ones; an antagonism that can potentially set in motion the proletarian masses when their conditions of existence and of work become unbearable.
It is of this social movement that the bourgeoisie is afraid, of the awakening of the proletariat as a wage-earning class, of its action after having noticed that the adversary is not the undocumented immigrant, the unemployed who, out of rage, sets fire to the garbage cans, or the proletarians of the country designated as the “enemy”, but its “own” bourgeois class, ready to use all means, legal or illegal, constitutional or unconstitutional, to defend its interests.
The authoritarianism manifested by the bourgeoisie under the pretext of the “struggle against Covid” is an integral part of its power; the parliamentarism and democracy it adorns itself with are only a cloak covering the reality of its class dictatorship. The bourgeoisie of the “civilized” Western countries does not show, at least until now, its true totalitarian face: it has no interest in doing so as long as the democratic regime manages to paralyze the proletarian masses. It uses the democratic mask to continue to deceive the proletarians, to divert them from the field of the class confrontation to the one which is favorable to it, the democratic and parliamentary field. But a serious economic and social crisis, anticipated by the cyclical crises of overproduction that characterize the whole historical period of imperialism in which we have been immersed for a hundred years, is approaching again with great steps. This is why the bourgeoisie tends to accelerate its maneuvers to paralyze the proletariat even more, crushing it under the weight of its economic, political and social demands, intoxicating it even more with the poison of a democracy that no longer has any positive social role, but continues to have a political role by diverting, isolating, fragmenting and demoralizing the proletarian masses.
The reactions to the Draghi government, which claims to follow a policy of “national unity” in order to win over the proletarian masses, while its priority in the crisis is the defense of big capital, express, and with violence, the anger of the petty bourgeois strata who feel abandoned to their fate. It is on the basis of this anger that the extreme right-wing organizations act as they have always done and as they will continue to do. In fact, they play a double role: on the one hand, they stir up the anger of the petty bourgeois, they organize them, lead their demonstrations, giving them the illusion that the enemy of the day is the so-called “elites”; these layers, idealizing a patriotism that the national elites would not defend at the international level, are ready to attack the symbols and representations of those they consider responsible for their social ruin; on the other hand, these organizations provide the ideological and political pretext for the “democratic” forces to cement the proletarian masses on the terrain of class collaboration in the name of “anti-fascism”, of “anti-totalitarianism.
But both work for the consolidation of social preservation, aspiring to a society in which all social classes satisfy their aspirations, defending national capitalism in the face of foreign competition; both use democracy to impose themselves in the political arena as champions of economic efficiency, political skill, “national cohesion” and the defense of the country’s historical and cultural roots. Both are faithful to the policy that marked and still marks the political victory of fascism, despite its military defeat in the Second World War: the policy of class collaboration.
Attacking the symbols of the Draghi government’s authoritarianism has become the immediate objective of many opponents, the green pass being undoubtedly one of these symbols. But there are opponents and opponents. The petty bourgeois opponents rejoice when undocumented immigrants are imprisoned, deported, parked in concentration camps out of sight, sent back to the countries from which they embarked, perhaps to Libya at the hands of torturers, or not rescued at sea where they drown in their thousands. The important thing is that all this happens far from their eyes and their homes; and if they get too close, guns and pistols are at hand.
This does not prevent from exploit them worse than cattle in the countryside or in the workshops, under the blackmail of their “illegality”, forcing them to live in shantytowns and among the garbage. In order to be free to lead their petty lives and to exploit underpaid and illegal work as they please, these leeches do not like taxes that jeopardize their dirty business. They evade the taxman through clever accountants, but the green pass is difficult to circumvent, so they try to strengthen their protest by involving the proletarians. It is also against this involvement that the proletarians must fight.
The example of the dockers of Trieste is emblematic; the Coordination of the dockers of Trieste (CLPT) has announced an unlimited strike from October 15, if the obligation of the green pass is not lifted not only for the dockers of the port, but for all workers. It is this resolutely class approach that has made them declare that they will not even accept the free tests promised by the companies only for them if they go to work: “We are not for sale!”, is the cry that unites all the dockers of Trieste, those who have been vaccinated as well as those who do not want to be.
This is what proletarians must do in all factories, in all sectors, following this example.
We will see what happens in Trieste on October 15; the dockers have declared that they will not give an inch on the blockade of the port. Will the police intervene to free the accesses by force? It seems that many truck drivers who have to go to the port do not have a green pass either, especially those who come from abroad and have been vaccinated with the Russian “Sputnik”, which is not accepted in Italy. It is certain that tension has built up in this last period and that the government is at a crossroads: to crush the dockworkers of Trieste to avoid the blocking of the port, which is one of the most important in Italy, or to suspend it with the usual excuse of an “exceptional situation”?
October, 13th 2021
International Communist Party