Radical media, politics and culture.

Hackmeeting Naples, Massianello, Personal-Political Violence

Naples, Rione Traino-Campo Flegreo, this years hackmeeting started today in an abandoned industrial complex in a working class area with a reputation, or so they say. The social centre Terra Terra has been occupied for two years by young people from the surrounding area.

Every social centre has its style, from the ornate artisinal moaics and modificationsin Barrochio (recently object of a fascist attack where two occupants were stabbed), to Forte Prenstino (where something simlar happened two weeks earlier, one stabbed) whose walls are covered with comic art fused with hip-hop murals. In TerraTerra the walls are covered with banners, hand-painted slogans, mixing Mayakovski with anti-imperialism - hammer and sickles are the leitmotiv! But hey, I'm a libertarian and they're not stalinists, part of the lost tribe of anti-statist communists with a little sauce leniniste. At the hackmeeting every year is different, not just another city, but another 'reality' understood in terms of political orientation. The HM is not bound by such dynamics but is obviously only some people's cup of tea. Subjectivity! What would we do without it!

But back to the fascists, because it is now becoming a serious problem and the situation is ominous. There has been a notable and probably orchestrated escalation in fascist violence, complete with its anachronistic connotations of a time past, designed to cause massive damage or seriously injure, if not kill, libertarians and communists or randomn strangers hostile to their biological or identitarian concept of clannish purity. In the last twelve months, to count just the cases that come to mind, there have been 6 people stabbed in milan as well as five serious arson attacks, 3 in bergamo and two arson attacks on the same social centre, two knifed in turin, where one person suffered grevious injuries requiring emergency surgery, one slashed neck in Rome as well as a building bombed. All of these attacks hit self-organised and occupied spaces, some of them also homes, squatts. It seems archaic but you can feel that things are getting serious. These assaults find people a little unprepared, understandably as to dwell on the extreme right-wing and their tiny social base is agitational harakiri. Yet, it remains a fact that unless a convincing social response that mitigates the problem is demonstrated soon, the initiative will pass to those who will interrupt the fascist monpoly on politically motivated assault on individuals. Necessarily so, if the alternative is simply to be reduced to subordinate in a context where the victor can enforce randomn bheatings at will. That's not a reasonable proposition, and one unworthy of the tradition of insubordination with which these places, in some ungraspable way, identify and belong.

On the cusp of leaving Italy it was important to come here, the site of the only community my imagination allows me to fully identify with. Here self-organization is the rule; assumption of responsibilityl; no policy taken for granted; no delegation; commoners of free software & redoubt of pirate pride. Unlike typically political contexts in Italy, no-one would even dream of playing the leader here, sociality and willingness to learn and teach are the only passports. Even amongst the most autistic there is the reassuring shiver of mutual recognition, rumours of a memory from moments past; Genoa, Bolognese cousins, Turin, the brothers and sisters from reload in Milan (irreducible to the bland denomination of comrades, compagni, a term used here more as a from of emotional blackmail than as an attribution of affinity and substance), the hacklab in Perugia, the pirate television in Naples. In the ludic atmosphere it'd be easy for one to miss the fact that here the game is grand. That the means of production and signifying have been seized. But we do not create all the facts.

Elsewhere, it is a moment of regression in Italy, of degeneration. Economic stagnation permeates everyday life, scarce social or labour mobility, a captive workforce in an increasingly expensive city in sum. With the defeat in the referendum on assisted pregnancy, research and stem-research and the genuflection to catholic doctrine by much of the politicasl class, and notably leader of Margerita, Ruttelli, now openly wooed by Berlusconi in the impending showdown with his nemesis, Prodi, who already defeated him in the nineties. Politically it represents the increasing boldness of the recycled orphans of the discredited DC. I'm afraid that there will be a death, and consequent intensification of time spent in defensive or offensive measures against fascist gangs, by christmas at the lastest. A question has been posed. A ressusitation of antifascism as ideolgy would be catastrophic. It would in fac be to assume the same wacky marginality which the fascists themselves have within the electoral system.

Arriving in the Naples alone I happened on some milanese heading the same way. There subsequently followed a ritual attemot by the taxi cartel to rip us off ;-) and we acted all haughty! 200 metres later we found aguy who offered a reasonable deal, and took us in 5, which was cool, and didn't give a shit about the law! But Napoli has a differential adoption of legalism. Adter all I've seen families of four without helmets drive around Naples on scooters, which is a lot of transgressions, theoretically... Any way, he was decent and interested in history so we got talking about Massianello, whom I learnt about in Lienbaugh and Rediker's book. Massianello led what they characterise as the first modern popular insurgency. After ten days of Naples under insurrectionary control, they were crushed and Massianllo was beheaded on the Piazza del Mercato. L&R suggest that knwoledge of the rising, transmitted through sailors, soldiers and political agitators, influenced the course of the englisgh revolution which occurred alnmost immediately afterwards, the debates at Putney etc. The aggression with the fascists feels far away. Perversely there was a stabbing amongst leftsists here last week, the first incident of its gravity that has occurred in the recent years. The authorship of the deed is attributed to a group characterised by its stalinism, and fixation on avantgardist and militant-purity fantasies. They don't seem to have learnt very much from the 1970s, but rather inherited some of the worst of its most grotesque explanations and applied them to a world irreversibly changed.

I like Napoli but I don't really get it!