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Italy’s ‘Orange Vests’, “Gilet arancioni”, Protest Against Coronavirus Lockdown Measures.

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Italy, ‘Orange Vests’, “Pandemic Never Existed’.

Cast your mind back.

October 2018.

The Gilets Jaunes were a mass protest movement in France, initially demanding cheap petrol, relaxation of speed limits and low taxes they expanded into a large direct action in which serious  acts of violence, by protesters, and police, took place. They developed into a larger movement in which some far-right and radical left voices were heard This is, in this Blog’s view, a fair instant summary of their ideology:

An opinion poll published by the Elabe Institute showed that in the presidential election in May 2017, 36% of the participants voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and 28% for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon in the 2017 presidential elections. Five Le Monde journalists studied the yellow vests’ forty-two directives[39] and concluded that two thirds were “very close” to the position of the “radical left” (Jean-Luc MélenchonPhilippe Poutou and Nathalie Arthaud), nearly a half were “compatible with” the position of the “far right” (Nicolas Dupont-Aignan and Marine Le Pen), and that all were “very far removed” from economically “liberal” policies (Emmanuel Macron and François Fillon)

Some people on the British left admired the revolt against Macron. Some tried to imitate the activism of the ‘Yellow Vests. An attempt to do so, by the groupuscule that runs the  People’s Assembly, Counterfire, collapsed faced with the presence of far-right Pro-Brexit supporters clad in identical colour vests (perhaps not such a coincidence….).

We have not heard a lot about the Gilets Jaunes in recent months, although they launched a ;protest as lockdown began in France.

A couple of days ago the Gilets Jaunes most fervent UK admirers, the Red-Brown Front Spiked, carried this bleat, by Fraser Myers, .

Do French Lives Matter?

Where was the outrage when police were maiming protesters in France?

While the rioting in the US is tacitly condoned and understood as a righteous expression of anger, the yellow vests’ populist uprising was looked at with horror. The sad truth is that even when the gilets jaunes were being maimed and brutalised, they did not elicit much sympathy among the political class on these shores.

Spiked, which has recently expressed support for the far-right Vox party’s demonstrations against Cornavirus restrictions in Spain (Spain is in revolt against the lockdown. This dissent is welcome., now has an opportunity to shine anew.

Remember the ‘yellow vests’? Now, Italy is seeing an ‘orange vests’ movement that says coronavirus pandemic doesn’t exist

CNBC reports,

Remember the “yellow vests” movement that brought France to a standstill in late 2018? Now, Italy is seeing its own grassroots, anti-government, populist movement: The “Orange Vests” or “Gilet Arancioni.” 

Hundreds of protesters wearing orange vests or jackets gathered in Rome on Tuesday, chanting “Liberta’!” (“Liberty!”) to protest the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and calling for it to resign.

 

Described as a “rightist-libertarian” and “turbo populist” movement by the Italian media and modeling themselves on the yellow-vested anti-government movement seen in France, the leader of the “Orange Vests,” former Carabinieri General Antonio Pappalardo, has said that the coronavirus pandemic did not exist.

The story refers to its source in La Repubblica – Il 2 Giugno dei Gilet arancioni, folla in piazza del Popolo e insulti a Mattarella – and continues,

The pandemic does not exist, it’s total bulls–t,” Pappalardo told a rally in Bari on Sunday, Italian news agency ANSA reported. “The coronavirus is not lethal, it only kills the already sick over 80s. Enough with the lies and falsehoods, you have terrified the Italian people,” he reportedly said.

Similar demonstrations were seen in Milan and small rallies in other regional capitals at the weekend. Speaking to a crowd of orange-vested supporters on Tuesday in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo — many of whom were defying a government order to maintain social distancing and to wear masks in busy public spaces — Pappalardo made similar claims, alluding to a high-profile doctor who said at the weekend that the virus “no longer exists clinically.”

“Now virologists also say that this coronavirus is nonsense,” Pappalardo told the crowd as he argued against the use of masks. In addition, Pappalardo called for Italy to return to using its former currency, the lira.

The comparison with the Gilets Jaunes is widespread.

 

The left wing daily Il Manifesto leads with the straightforward line that they are conspirationalists, conspis.

Gilet arancioni, Piazza del Popolo del cospirazionismo

. Hundreds of people, many without masks, against the “government of terror” that “invented the Coronavirus”

The crowd  was varied, although tattoos and shaved heads predominate. Manyare  animal rights activists (especially women), and anti-vaxination campaigners.  (shouts of) “Freedom and sovereignty”, “God honour and country”, 

Italian Wired has denounced this demonstration of neo-fascist and ‘Orange vests” as an affront to the victims of the pandemic,

 

In the homeland of the Gilets Jaunes the story has reached News 24.

They describe them as “right-wing libertarian” and “turbo-populist” (an endearing expression, and not a dynamic one, it’s as if they are some kind of wonky petrol driven machine, spraying out noxious gases): 

Décrit comme un mouvement “de droite-libertaire” et “turbo-populiste” par les médias italiens et s’inspirant du mouvement anti-gouvernement à gilets jaunes vu en France, le chef des “gilets orange”, l’ancien général des Carabiniers Antonio Pappalardo, a a déclaré que la pandémie de coronavirus n’existait pas.

One thing is clear, they are very keen on sovereignty.

RT, as ever reliable, is enthusiastic:

 

These protests have a lot in common with the German and other fringe movements against restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic.

And of course, the ideology of Spiked…

Written by Andrew Coates

June 3, 2020 at 5:06 pm

London Protest Against Far-Right Italian National Populist Leader Salvini.

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London Protests Against No-Show Salvini.

Inspired by Italy’s anti-far right, and anti-Salvini movement, the Sardines, people protested in London yesterday against the visit of the Italian national populist leader to the British capital.

The fact that his flight was cancelled because of the Coronavirus did not stop people demonstrating.

This is the movement in Italy: Sardines against Salvini 

Socialist Resistance.

December 2019.

A few weeks ago four thirty year olds from Bologna were complaining about the victory of Salvini’s  hard right Lega (League) in the Umbrian regional elections and the danger of him winning their traditionally left of centre region in the January elections, writes Dave Kellaway. They then did something that is typical of angry thirty year olds. They went onto social media and cooked up the Sardines idea.

Put simply, it was to fill the squares of Italy with people against the Lega.  The reference to the sea was twofold. Firstly, small fish group together in massive shoals to defend themselves against predators and secondly Salvini was the notorious interior minister who was happy to let migrants die in the Mediterranean by closing the ports.

As sometimes happens, the whole idea exploded on social media and the squares of Bologna and other places across the region were successfully taken over by huge crowds. A majority were young but people of all ages came too.

On December 3 there were 25,000 in Milan and tens of thousands in Florence and Naples. The weather has been as bad in Italy recently as it has been here.  Given that the merest hint of rain on an Italian beach sees them emptied very quickly, this showed the strength of this movement as a sea of umbrellas covered the squares.

And:  New “sardine” movement in Italy. Hugh Edwards.

Solidarity.

December 2019.

In the past few weeks, as if from nowhere, a new movement, calling itself “the sardines”, has filled the squares of Italy, originating from Emilia Romagna’s capital city, Bologna.

25,000 came out in Milan on Sunday 1 December, and there will be a mass national demo of all groups and organisational conference in Rome on 15 December.

Drawing in thousands of the young, and often very young, the dynamic of the mobilisation is focused against the reactionary racist extremism of Matteo Salvini and his party, La Lega nationale.

Radical anti-Fascists took part.

This is the Sardines UK.

Written by Andrew Coates

March 4, 2020 at 2:19 pm

Boris Johnson, the “Trumpification of British Politics” and the Left.

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Image result for boris johnson plantu

Our Ruling Class.

Talleyrand – Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (1754  – 1838) – was the most famous European statesman of his day.

His house. the Hôtel de Talleyrand, was celebrated,

Into this palace, as a spider into its web, he enticed and captured, one by one, heroes, thinkers, conquerors, princes, emperors, Bonaparte, Sieyès, Mme de Stael, Chateaubriand, Benjamin Constant, Alexandre de Russie, Guillaume de Prusse, François d’Autriche, Louis XVIII, Louis Philippe, and all the gilded glittering flies which buzz through the history of these past forty years. All this glittering swarm, fascinated by the penetrating eye of this man, passed in turn under this gloomy entrance bearing on it the inscription: Hôtel Talleyrand.

In the collection of writings from which this comes Victor Hugo described the death of the man who became a by-word by cynical diplomacy.

In Choses Vues the author of Les Misérables  describes his embalming, in the ancient Egyptian style.

The corpse lay in an empty chamber when a valet walked in.

He found that they had left the brain on the side-table.

The servant picked it up, and finding no other way of disposing of it, threw it into the outside sewer.

It is said that people have been looking for someone with Tallyrand’s cerebrum ever since.

Many would say that dealing Boris Johnson would be hard even for the most experienced politician.

El Pais says that “La única persona capaz de derrotar a Boris Johnson —y ya hay precedentes— sería el propio Boris Johnson.” (“the only person capable of defeating Boris Johnson – and there are precedents – is Boris Johnson himself”)

The European Press is full of such scorn for the man Le Monde calls a “buffoon” (while politely asking him to stop being one):

Le Monde, in an excoriating editorial, said Johnson had shown himself to be “a stranger to logic and convictions” in a career rich in “deceits, blunders and failures”. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum he “told lies on the side of a bus, promised the UK could have its cake and eat it, and compared the EU to the Third Reich,” it said.

As foreign secretary he “made his country an object of ridicule around the world with his amateurism, flippancy and ignorance”, France’s newspaper of record continued. Rivalling Nigel Farage for populism, Johnson’s “jingoistic rhetoric” promised Britons an unrealistic “glorious global future”.

His threat to withhold the €39bn Brexit divorce settlement would have “incalculable consequences”, damaging the international credibility of a country priding itself on being a champion of the rule of law, Le Monde said. And for the EU a Johnson premiership would mean “a mini-Trump across the Channel, dedicated to its sabotage”. Britain would become “a hostile principality, built on social, fiscal and environmental deregulation.”

Amongst the articles cited by the Guardian this stands out (Corriere della Sera)

Lord Chris Pattern says that Johnson is part of the ” una “trumpificazione” della nostra politica., the Trumpification of our politics.

He is equally,

Trump’s poodle: a liar who does not pay attention to the detail of reality, tells people what they want to hear and relies on their ignorance”.

Patten said Johnson exemplified the “collapse of rationality, of the relationship between the facts and what we believe” in present-day politics. “What he is offering is impossible.

All this looks as if it implies some serious thinking about changing Labour’s strategy.

A bounder in his own bailiwick is going to be hard to dislodge.

The Trumpification of British politics has begun; it does not look if a hasty declaration of an “insurgency” against Johnson is going to thwart it.

To begin with there is the impact of start-up political business, The Brexit Party. Helped by the ‘red-brown’ front, not to mention the support of former leftists, it has become a political player, and how to fight it. The Brexit Party is part of a broader trend towards national populism, which has helped dislodge the left from its historic bases of support in Italy and France. Left-wing populisms – in France and Spain – have been unable to counter the nationalist call to fight ‘oligarchies’ and ‘elites’ on behalf of the Nation.

The Brexit Party is not about to vanish:

Is an appeal to our own ‘identity politics’ of the people, the left-behind, the self-identifying native working class better than trying to build alliances on universal, internationalist,  fights for rights and interests?

Then there Johnson’s strategy: will Farage assist the disintegration of the Tory party, or will the Brexit Party pave the way for his victory as part of a new “great moving right show” that can resonate  deeply into the country’s electorate and culture ? Johnson hopes to rebuild the electoral support that got May- just –  elected and to extent it. How can an alternative be created from shards from the same ideology, which, the experience of European left populism indicates, is a sure way to strengthen the carnival of reaction, not to challenge it?

All these issues boil down to one: the Brexit project. Will Labour let Johnson pursue the goal – however much he twists and turns over the details – of a Hard Right Brexit, the only actually existing Brexit.

Apparently the Lexit left has the answer: it needs to back their version of Brexit.

The Morning Star editorialises.

..the trade union movement and the left has to make a decisions it to remain stuck in an increasingly sterile and immobilising debate for and against the EU? Or is it to shift the ground to the kind of withdrawal from the EU that must be secured to protect working people and to advance a progressive agenda that can beat the Tories?

Only class politics can defeat Johnson in Labour’s working-class heartlands. The dangers of not preparing are too serious to be contemplated.

The beginnings of a different approach are there, and have strong support on the left.

This is an excellent reply to such views:

Labour must re-energise the Corbyn project by opposing Brexit

witnessing the party’s continued ambiguity and evasion, many of the members who resolutely defended Corbyn as leader in the face of an establishment onslaught are asking themselves whether the values of straight-talking honest politics only apply if you agree with the leader. Going into a general election with the current policy on Brexit would be disastrous. By bringing its policy back into line with the democratic will of its members, and anchoring its support for Remain in a programme of cross-border resistance, Labour can clearly differentiate itself from the pro-business globalism of the Lib Dems and the utopian optimism of the Greens to win back disillusioned supporters.

With a vision aimed at defending the interests of all workers, British or not, Labour can win here and lead a Europe-wide offensive against capitalist exploitation. Co-ordinating this cross-border coalition will require conferences and organising events attracting activists with shared goals from across Europe. Labour can be the force to convene such events on a mass scale, to begin the fight for a democratic, socialist Europe.