Against the State. Well? For an anarchist these words are clear and simple, a prerequisite of anarchy you might say. But what if, rounded off with ‘and its massacres’, they are plastered on colossal city walls in posters and echoed forcefully in the shadow of a church by a stirring old man with a beard, microphone in hand? Who is this individual who dares bare his soul to the respectable citizens of Trieste?
He is an anarchist who has come together in affinity with others like him on this precise subject, united for a moment in their need to make themselves heard, say the truth to the winds in that city whose sea breezes have not yet swept away its lingering austerity, legacy of the old Austro-Hungarian empire of which it was a prominent part.
Flanked by an exhibition assembled by some of the comrades to put their words in context in these somber streets, the excessive presence of the forces of order completes the scene: police vans, armoured vehicles, numerous officers in uniform and the inevitable Digos snooping with their cameras. The ratio of the forces of the State to the civilian population is about two to one—or in plain terms, approximately 400 armed men and women of the State to 200 anarchists and citizens. And the comrades had much to say: rebelling prisoners massacred in the prisons, dozens of anarchists on trial and, last but not least, the general lowering of the conflict and the need for solidarity, action, at a time when the State could decide to pull some of its old tricks out of the bag given the hard times to come.
Encouraged by people’s reaction, the comrades appeared again, on December 18, in Piazza Saint Antonio, this time not one but two anarchists talked to compagni and people of Trieste, those who had stopped to listen undeterred by the ostentatious presence of the State. What they said is transcribed in the pages that follow, no need to elucidate here. Instead, a few words on the transmittance of the discourse, the comizio, an event which no self-respecting translator could dismiss as a ‘rally’, a ‘talk’, or a ‘meeting’.
In Italy, in times past, the anarchist comizio was a trenchant event with comrades of notable oratorical technique and passion such as Malatesta, Galleani, Alfonso Failla and many others. Not forgetting the now far off days when our comrade Alfredo himself traversed Italy in the sixties and seventies breathing fire into the piazzas, or, along with a resolute group of comrades, did the rounds of the villages surrounding Comiso in Sicily in the early 1980s in the struggle against the proposed American Cruise missile base. As Stecco, protagonist of the second round in Trieste, remarks, this is an unusual instrument for anarchists to use to make their ideas known today, very few take it into consideration, whereas people seemed to be interested in hearing what we have to say at least. Something quite different to the spectacle by political parties of all colours who, just before the elections, ply their vacuous wares and promises in the piazzas in the hope of syphoning off some consensus from the duped populace into the ballot boxes on their behalf. On the contrary, the culminating moment of the anarchist comizio is at the end when the people present, instead of fading into the distance remain and have aninmated discussions with all the comrades involved in the initiative. And, as they say in Italy, da cosa nasce cosa …one thing could lead to another. True. But that’s another story. JW
The two anarchist talks that took place in Trieste around the end of 2020 emanated from the idea of bringing out into the streets the reasons that have always pushed anarchists to act. Last autumn long trials against the Italian anarchist movement were drawing to a close, others were continuing their iter, more were about to begin. The initiatives included an exhibition depicting the reasons for the State’s various accusations against our comrades. In it were also included some of the forms of social injustice, the ongoing environmental devastation and the tools of State repression. Reference was also made to how the exploited are no longer opposing the harmful policies of the men and women of the State today with effective acts of resistance, why the struggle—at least in this country—is at an all-time low. Reactionary repressive processes have been in act in Italy for a long time now, decades, and show no signs of abating. The impoverishment of methods of struggle and gaining awareness, the continuous mental flattening due to media propaganda and lack of rebellion and self-perception has led to a lowering of the conflict in this country, as if the bosses and those in government are the only ones having their say. Only through solidarity and acting together will we the exploited be able to go beyond the present collapse. Only through struggle will it be possible to open up a rift to force back the policies of those governing and repressing us. We needed to talk about this, to tell, but above all communicate. As we said in the streets, anarchy is a concrete idea that does not wait for the future but faces the present head on, without putting things off, and it is only through action that the desired freedom will be realized.
The idea of doing talks in the streets emerged from discussions among various anarchist comrades who, finding themselves here in this city, met up to discuss what they wanted to say and how to say it concerning everything going on around us. A whole series of events, government and bosses’ economic, health and repressive policies crashing down on everyone’s life, not to mention all the crises and restructuring that has been in course for a long time, all intertwining in a vortex that is damaging people all over the planet at the present time. It is always the same ones, the excluded and the dispossessed, who pay for the mistakes and consequences of the decisions of the men and women of power, along with those who find themselves in the tentacles of repression for having fought against this society based on injustice and oppression. The State doesn’t forgive anyone who decides to confront it. Our reason for calling the talks “Against the State” was simple: the social structure in which we live is articulated and based on the State, it is the antithesis of any idea of freedom, of coexistence of human beings in solidarity and with respect for nature that cares for, nourishes us and defends us from diseases, if only we would listen to it.
We realized that the two initiatives, one in a historically poor neighbourhood, the other in the city centre, were received positively. The instrument of the comizio, no longer a common way for anarchists to make propaganda, succeeded in bringing what we have to say out into the streets. Too few comrades take this tool into consideration, whereas it seems that people are interested in hearing what we have to say at least.
The echoes of revolt reaching us from other parts of the world recently—from the United States to Chile, from Russia to Tunisia—show that all is not lost, that even if it is true that the conflict is at its lowest ebb in these latitudes here, our task is always the same. That is, to try to fight and fight again to stir the free spirits that still lurk everywhere; to find effective methods, not only to make our ideas known, but also to demolish once and for all this society that has nothing left to offer us other than disease, death, wars, and a life based on exploitation and isolation, unhappiness and injustice.
It is time to decide how we want to fight this battle, how to organize ourselves among comrades and those who want to fight today, in order to foresee and prevent future responses of the State against those who struggle or want to struggle. Not secondary is the aspect of the reactionary and fascist forces, State or otherwise, which will try—and are already trying—to bring hatred to the exploited. The so-called war between the poor. To explain our view on this and other problems, effectively, with determination, seriousness, and constancy. To indicate and attack the harmful structures that exist around us, bring out the deleterious processes that are ruining our lives, whether they be technological, health-related, or cultural. To point to those responsible for the ongoing disaster, the villains in suits, politicians and bosses, bureaucrats and scientists.
Our task is to move forward, to not be disheartened. We owe it to ourselves and our conscience not to keep silent in the face of difficulties, but we also owe it to those suffering inside and outside the prisons, and to our comrades.
To revitalise the struggle and awareness, solidarity is our task.