Venus shines on the Bologna station, March 9, 2020, about h.21. Photo taken from the Matteotti bridge by Wu Ming 1. Venus, evening star but also in the morning, Vespero and Lucifer.
To the fallen of Modena, on the
anniversary of the killing
of Francesco Lorusso.
To the east the dazzling full moon, to the west Venus shining, to the south-west the buzzing helicopter, to the north the fog rising from the Calamosco drain and to the south the Dozza prison, with the hills and San Luca in the background.
The prison was on fire.
It was eleven in the evening.
We had gone around the checkpoints on via del Gomito, taking roads that only Wu Ming 2 knew, and here we were standing in the middle of a plowed field, a hundred meters from the prison fence. We were very visible, because of the full moon, but the guards had much more to do.
The shoes weighed down by the mud, the hands stained with some stinging plant grasped going up the bank of the canal. We had crossed it on a makeshift walkway, an aluminum ladder thrown sideways.
Just half an hour earlier, none of us thought we had to do that night trek. Then the shot: – Let’s go to Dozza. Let’s catch the fly in Bolognina.
From the prison rose a trumpet of dark smoke, made bronze by the lights of the headlights.
A few hours earlier two prison cars had burned.
Black silhouettes on the roof, he shouts: “BASTARDI!”
Gunshots, clangs, perhaps pickaxe blows, someone smashed barricades.
The perennial roar of the ring road acts as a border.
Curiously behind us was Via del Bordone. A dirt road full of holes, which we had followed until we left the car at the entrance of the La Chiocca farm.
– «Gran Sasso – Abruzzo cuisine» ? I never imagined I would find a disheartened restaurant here, in ze mìddol ov nóuer.
– At the crossroads, on via di Cadriano, there is the Granarolo factory. During the day there is a bit of a ride.
– In the evening it is spooky, though.
– But now all the restaurants have closed them.
Entering a fund owned by Alma Mater, which made us unspecified “experimental crops”, and after having crossed a huge albino nutria, we had skirted the Calamosco drain, little more than a stream that breathed dense fog. Finding the ladder, we had passed there.
Bologna, the Dozza prison on fire seen from the north-east, 9 March 2020, h. About 23. Photo by Wu Ming 4. Click to enlarge.
– You haven’t seen such a thing for forty years. From Trani, in 1980, and Fossombrone, in 1981 …
– Yes, «from the Ucciardone / to Asinara, / a single cry: / partner, shoot!»
– But not even in the 70s have there ever been so many riots in so many prisons, simultaneously.
– Here, however, ends ugly ugly … Those who are fine will cripple them with blows.
An hour earlier, yet another decree had transformed the whole country into an “enhanced containment” area. By now they were making a decree a day, dopamine a balùs. Intoxicated badly. Absolute ban on “gathering”, “ #iostoacasa “ , “let’s change habits”, “ #iostoacasa “ , all locked in the house, said famous pop stars, rappers and trapolers and smiling directors with immense houses in Parioli and servants. «We show responsibility», «we are all in the same boat», «we will all make it together».
«All together», but against the detainees «we do not rule out using the army». They are not on our boat. The army. We want colonels. With Tognazzi.
– See how it happens? Zac, and from one hour to the next you can no longer leave the country.
We no longer wrote in libraries. By now they had closed too. There was no longer a place to sit, at home there were tens and a thousand distractions, and so we wrote where it happened: in the parks where there was a bit of wi-fi, on the steps of San Petronio … Even in the hall of appearance of the station, the one with the breach of the bomb of the 80. As long as it remained open.
We often passed by, at the station, and one evening we saw crowded convoys passing towards the south. “Crowds on trains to leave Milan,” the newspapers would have headlined.
The drafts of a new dpcm (decree of the Prime Minister’s Office) had been circulating for a few hours. What was the fourth in a week? The sudden announcement that the whole of Lombardy and various provinces of the rest of Upper Italy would become red areas – then turned to «orange» – had triggered the fleeing, gatherings on the tracks, and in general a rapid scattering of thousands of people on the national territory.
“Unacceptable confusion caused by the diffusion of the draft decrees,” said Prime Minister Conte . A whistleblower was blamed . A petition identified him in the governor Fontana and / or in the spokesman of the pcm Casalino , and in order not to make a mistake he asked for the resignation of both.
The power and its zealous supporters complained that the “ox people” had been informed earlier rather than later, and that they had understood and reacted “badly”.
But chaos had not triggered the leak : the text of the decree itself had triggered it . And who ever, still being able to leave and having a place to go, would have wanted to be trapped in a kind of large hospital.
[Respond sincerely, please: without pretense or posed by loyal citizens or socially fit forcaioli.]
Furthermore, it was not a matter of “drafts” or “misunderstandings”: even the final text was – to put it with the governors of the orange painted regions – “messy”, “ambiguous”, “of dubious interpretation and difficult application”, decided and written “without prior comparison” etc. As for the measures that were understood, they were “exaggerated” and “without a ratio”, Zaia had said , referring to the negative opinion of the scientific committee used by the Veneto region.
Meanwhile, the Interior Ministry was angry with the regions, accusing them of moving in dribs and drabs. Not those where there was “reinforced containment”, but all the others. Some central and southern regions had announced quarantine for those coming from risk areas, others not.
The governor of Puglia Emiliano had criticized his co-regional revenants , complaining of the “exodus” that brought the “Lombard epidemic” to the south (sic).
But the exodus had not started the night before: it had been going on for weeks, simply with less intensity and in a less visible way, because any restrictions decided in a hurry – and applied without the slightest clarity – had increased mobility.
The escape from the center-north had started with the first regional ordinances and had continued without interruption.
Many precarious workers, left without work and having no shock absorbers of any kind, had returned to their parents, to the south or in any case under the Gothic line, where at least a plate of soup knew they could remedy it.
– I didn’t understand: I had to go hungry to satisfy Burioni?
With the universities closed, many non-resident students also left. So much, without places of sociality and culture, without music and without cinema, in the city there was no fucking thing to do. Someone had already left after the first ordinance, after which, of restriction in restriction, daily life had become painful and the exodus had increased: bars, taverns and restaurants closed after 18; even the performances of street artists are forbidden …
– I can’t miss studying, libraries have closed. What am I going to do in this dead city?
♫ Bulåggna that you are under the hill,
lying like an old man asleep,
boredom, abandonment, nothingness
are your disease.
Bulåggna, I leave you, I go away.
For two days Bulåggna had remained a kind of island, part of an archipelago that included Ferrara, Ravenna and Forlì-Cesena. To the west the orange zone started after Anzola, to the east Rimini was already damned. The via Emilia interrupted by checkpoints and manned borders: it had not happened since September 1944.
Then, after two days, we too had damned ourselves, with the whole country.
Nowhere to run anymore .
In Emilla-Romagna there were 75 people hospitalized in intensive care. Seventy-five throughout the region, and it was said that our health, until yesterday “excellence”, “flagship” etc., was on the verge of collapse.
Ok, it was necessary to take into account the exponential growth, within a week they could become 250, but that was the classic reasoning of those who blame “Nature” for the destruction of an earthquake, regardless of how it was built, how the territory was tanned.
By dint of closing hospitals, a region of four million inhabitants had shrunk to having a few dozen beds and fans to face the epidemic.
Better to go in order, though. On health, later.
The world of work had been thrown into chaos. Government decrees imposed the distance of one meter to the workplace and smart working for those who could work from home. This created obvious discrimination: there were those who were made safe and those who weren’t.
The communication campaign was haunting: “Stay home, don’t be unconscious!” But those who worked in front offices , those who ran public offices and services, or remained on the assembly line, began to feel the one who had been affected by the short straw, and threatened to give up everything. What would have happened if offices and factories no longer worked?
Meanwhile, the closure of gyms, sports centers, schools, cinemas and theaters had brought home a myriad of self-employed or parasubordinate workers, who, due to their contractual characteristics, struggled to have access to social safety nets. The basic unions asked for “quarantine income”, that is, measures to support the income of all citizens, whether they were employees, temporary workers, self-employed workers, VAT numbers, social workers, show business workers, etc.
The workers put at home wrote disoriented and desperate to the unions just to know what to do:
I am writing to report the loss of the working period corresponding to the coronavirus emergency.
One of the companies for which I am responsible for the sector pays me € 250 per month. The other – a school where I teach 15 hours a week – corresponds to 300.
For the duration of the emergency I will not receive the agreed remuneration.
It is a situation that brings us to our knees. I have family and children. It is not possible to be treated like this.
Help us. Thank you.”
There were dozens and dozens of emails and phone calls of that tenor that filled the mailboxes and lines of the Chambers of Labor.
After years and years of desindacalization, bleeding of membership cards, disintermediation, suddenly the management of the consequences of state decrees fell on the social “mediators”. These found themselves engaged all day long in the activation of the integration funds, which were also unprepared to hold an avalanche of that scale, and in turn hampered by the ordinances, which imposed the distance and the quota of the entrances. They too risked collapse.
The state issued draconian decrees – confused and inconsistent – and the real country had to interpret them, translate them, make them sustainable.
Assuming it was possible.
And it wasn’t.
On March 1, the president of the Brusaferro Higher Institute of Health declared:
“If the infections drop within the next seven days, it means that the closures and measures taken have worked.”
Ten days had passed and everyone agreed: the infections were increasing rapidly. Very fast. So much so that “there is no more time,” said Conte announcing the closure of the whole of Italy. Except then complaining, as always, that the people did not understand , because he had rushed to stockpile. But if you say “there is no more time”, what should I understand?
To be precise, positive diagnoses were on the rise : the real number of infections – since the majority caught Covid-19 in an asymptomatic or mild form and did not even swab – nobody knew it.
However, according to Brusaferro’s conditional proposition, one could conclude this: the measures had not worked.
After all, some had decided them in spite of the negative opinions of the experts. On March 4, the scientific committee advising the government said: closing schools now and for two weeks would be of doubtful use . Opinion ignored by the government, released in the media but immediately drowned in the hype, to be soon forgotten.
But it was not just a matter of uselessness: it was plausible that the ordinances and decrees up to the penultimate, increasing the movements of people, had actually extended the contagion .
So what was left to do, according to the logic of a roll along the inclined plane, if not to declare the whole of Italy a “protected” area? This is why the new decree, only 48 hours from the previous one.
According to the team of the Sacco Institute and the University of Milan who studied the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the latter had been circulating in Italy since at least January , while the first death linked to Covid-19 was on February 21.
If true, then the containment measures were late and therefore, even if they had been more consistent and their application less cialtronesca, they would have served little. Several times discovered and reviewed by Mauro said that timing was the key to effectiveness , and also accredited scientific information sites, such as Medbunker :
«The fundamental point of all these measures is that they must be applied as soon as possible, immediately. A delay can make them less effective or completely useless. “
There was talk of him.
In Italy, in the period from December (outbreak of the epidemic in Wuhan) to February 21, what had been done? It was not so difficult to guess that, sooner or later, the Covid-19 epidemic would come out of China. And in any case, it was an eventuality to prepare for.
Instead, one basked in disinformation and Orientalist complacency. More or less: “Look at the Chinese, they thought they were stocazzo and now they die like flies!”. For the rest, newspapers and TV – as always – had regurgitated nonsense, beloved gossip, repeated cooking competitions and ruminated the usual label of lowest cabotage. Pages and pages, hours and hours and hours of talk-shows to show the breeze of a miraculous person like Salvini or comment on the tantrums of a has-been like Renzi .
On February 21, “La Stampa” was still joking about the “virus” of Italian politics and on the front page there were insults on Renzi. The next day, all the newspapers reportedly opened five columns on Covid-19’s first death in Italy.
“If instead of hysterically clattering about the closure of the borders when – now we know it with certainty – the virus was already in Italy (and the Chinese had not brought it) the health systems had been strengthened in time, starting from the observation that the virus would not be remained confined in the province of Hubei, it is likely that what was considered a peak of seasonal flu pneumonia would have been recognized in its true nature. If, as in China, adequate spare parts had been set up for medical personnel, avoiding stressful shifts which are the norm and which have obscured the ability to recognize the improbable behind the usual; if the first patients had been, as well as identified, hospitalized in suitable environments; the virus would not have spread epidemically. “
After the first death, in just twenty-four hours one had gone from the bullshit regime to the paranoid regime.
And unfortunately the case of the 38 year old from Codogno – the “Patient One” – had worked as a diversion, dispersing attention in too many directions, diverting it from the fact that all the other victims were elderly and / or already weakened by other pathologies . Whenever you pointed it out, someone would reply: – So the 38-year-old from Codogno, huh?
If you found that 89% of the dead were over 70, 58% over 80, and overall the average age was 81, they accused you of “not caring if old people die.” On the net, several posts and comments by imbezèl accused us of this.
On the contrary, those data – as clear as they were – should have made it clear that the elderly had to be protected in a special way, without wasting energy and spreading paranoia, informing them immediately and adequately. Something like: – Grandpa, the situation is risky, for a while you hear your grandchildren on the phone and wait for the Buriana to pass by.
At first similar message but in reality very different from the generic, late and terrifying «Old people locked in the house!» resounded that we were now in March.
As we wrote in Viral Diary # 2, it would need to be done immediately
“Correct information, combined with the capillarity of care and elementary prophylaxis measures in the daily routine, […] intervening on the needs of the most vulnerable – mainly the elderly and immunosuppressed – and strengthening the hospital structures that could accommodate them.”
If the goal was “not to collapse health”, then it would have been necessary to act on the subjects most at risk, and in the meantime take precautions by increasing the beds in intensive care, buying new fans, etc.
Instead all the measures – closure of the places of study and culture, then of the workplaces, then of entire provinces and finally, in a crescendo of panic, of the whole nation – had been maximalist and generic, and had poisoned social life, spreading fear of others, suspicion of human relations, the desire for further security measures.
For two weeks the Emilia-Romagna region had kept schools closed but not the elderly centers. And so, sixteen of the new sick had passed the virus in the same bowl. If it was open, it would be normal for someone to think they could go, right? If you didn’t want them to go, you had to close it, didn’t you?
But the authorities, far from making self-criticism, had started to blame the elderly. The mantra had started: “The elderly at home!”
Mantra useless, because it was a hypocritical patch put on the hole before, and because it was an empty injunction, as if in the years of maximum diffusion of AIDS they had told us tout court: – You don’t have to fuck! DO NOT fuck!
Counterproductive mantra, because it also inhibited conduct that would have been healthy. As in the apologue told on Giap by the user Vecio Baeordo :
“Yesterday my mother, who is largely at risk, said to me:” I would have gone out willingly, I’m fine, it wasn’t cold and as you know I need to walk, but they say they are locked in the house and I stayed there ” . She would not have gone to the brewery, and not even to the supermarket (I will go there for her), she would have gone to get some fresh air, to move the muscles and to circulate the blood a little. Zero contacts. Zero increase in contagion risk […] We started with a virus and arrived at a Generic Babau who is “out there”. An invisible and external enemy. Technically a paranoia. “
Finally, on TG1 at 8 pm on 8 March, a scientist without sneaky aspirations, the infectious disease specialist Massimo Andreoni of the University of Tor Vergata, made it clear:
“The elderly must not remain confined night and day, it is also important for them to go out and have fun, perhaps not attending crowded places, but a nice walk can only do good.”
In the meantime, right there in Bulåggna, a patient from the Piacenza area, with a cough, had been admitted to Urology for an operation, without problems, nobody had asked him anything … and they had to close the entire ward, because only after ‘they realized he had a Covid-19 fever, not a post-operative course. And Urology patients had been relocated elsewhere.
The episode made it clear which kind of prevention / information should be aimed at – triage at the entrance of the healthcare facilities, targeted diagnostic procedures, upgrading of facilities etc. – and which instead we were unable to insist: – NO social interactions! Stay HOME! #I STAY AT HOME!!!
But when politicians and influencers intimated “at home!”, What houses did they have in mind?
Theirs, it seemed.
Reading the provisions on containment measures, it seemed that each Italian had a room of his own inside a very spacious house, and obviously each had a separate bathroom.
In the decree of March 7, for example, it was written that those who had the symptoms had to “stay in their room with the door closed ensuring adequate natural ventilation”.
Sick or not, those who stayed at home spent time in front of the TV, feeding their terror, or on social media, where they got excited and frightened and charged each other, commenting on the increasingly anxious and anxious ads, reloading for update the “double game” of the dead and the healed.
Numbers tumbled minute by minute as if it were a game of Italian basketball against Coronavirus .
Numbers decontextualized and therefore useless to get a sensible idea of the situation, as in 2011 with the increase of the mysterious «Spread».
Whatsapp was the weapon that had done the most damage, by far the most powerful paranoia amplifier. Proliferating vocal messages spoke of “intubated twentysomethings”, one was attributed to health workers from the Niguarda of Milan. The hospital had denied it. A bufalazza, just to feed terror. “A lie and unspeakable filth,” said the head of San Raffaele, adding:
«We have 27 people in intensive care, six are cured and there is one of 18. But one. It also happens in normal times that a young person can get pneumonia. The average age of the patients is 70 years. “
But there was little to deny, because the social games played remittance. The problem was the vicious circle between politics and mainstream information.
If it had continued to speak only of contagions and deaths and red areas, paranoia would have continued to feed itself and produce more and more absurd monsters and decrees-monsters.
Also because politicians reacted worse and worse and with less lucidity as they discovered they were positive on the test.
It was as if there was King Julian in government , that of Madagascar .
– In the second film Melman wants to offer the giraffe in sacrifice to the volcano , to end the drought.
– Here, the same.
It was essential to broaden the field of discourse and analysis, beyond the petty response “Something must be done!”
In a month and a half of an emergency, all prisons had screwed up, as well as other forced overcrowding realities, such as CPR, dormitories and reception centers .
For years, the situation in the overcrowded penitentiaries had been managed on a tightrope. With the emergency, the living conditions had further worsened, also due to overzealous and unjustified restrictions, improvised measures that the National Guarantor of the Rights of Prisoners had defined as “the result of an unreasonable alarmism that feeds back causing an ever growing alarm that it has no basis or justification for the effectiveness of the measures. “
Until the big riots had exploded . For now, only in prisons. Tomorrow, who knows.
As we wrote, the news had come that a prisoner had died in Modena, then the dead had risen to three and there was a serious wounded, then the dead had become six, then seven, finally eight. Three deaths also in Rieti. In Pavia two custodial agents were taken hostage. In Foggia there had been a mass escape.
On March 10 the Dozza had also exploded. Hundreds of detainees had taken over the judicial department. Towards evening, comrades and comrades had reached the prison and displayed a banner with the inscription «Amnesty immediately! Free * all *! ». At that point, the authorities had never let anyone through. We had only gotten there because Wu Ming 2 knew every fucking path and ditch in the surroundings.
For decades in Italy there have not been such vast and radical prison riots. The detainees were the very first to openly turn against the management of the epidemic on the skin of the weakest and already excluded.
The most sensible thing to do, and (in a different country) achievable immediately, Luca Abbà had stated with the utmost clarity :
«To free those who already enjoy benefits, those who are above an age threshold defined as” at risk “, those who have a residual sentence of less than two years. It is not for me to propose what alternative measures could be applied (such as signature obligations, home returns, etc.) and not even the appropriate legislative form (amnesty, pardon, decree law). Adequate prevention and security measures could be more easily applied to prisoners excluded from this measure in order to guarantee conversations with loved ones and less difficult conditions of detention than today due to the chronic overcrowding in recent years. »
Click to enlarge.
The prisoners had not been paralyzed by the fear of being criminalized: they were already in gaiba, more than that …
Outside, to be put in the pillory and pointed to as criminals was enough to express a minimum skepticism about the management of the emergency.
The usual fascist meme and “satire” circulated on social networks, in which various scapegoats were blamed for the epidemic: the “Italians who screw the rules”, the fauna of the “movida”, a petty and filthy activist with the flag of peace … But even in this case, it was the mainstream media that stirred up, with articles against the alleged “quarantine cunning”.
There was a clear desire for “brisk ways”, for an authoritarian state that would “clean”.
Many said that China had made it because there was a regime, a dictatorship.
Others babbled about collective responsibility and “to protect the weakest”, when until the day before they had incensed the meritocracy, social Darwinism and who knows the fuckings of the most fragile people.
More subtle, the accusation of “diminishing the emergency”.
It seemed to us that the accusation was overturned.
Those who accused others of diminishing the epidemic diminished the emergency.
Those who confused it with the epidemic diminished the emergency .
Those who wanted to talk only about the virus, the number of people infected, the strictly “war report” of health, etc., diminished the emergency.
The fallacy was to speak of drastic and unprecedented political measures, of governance measures with cascading social consequences, as if they were clinical procedures . The spectacle of a “medicalization of politics” was staged day and night, through the insistence on masks and hospital entrances. And if you didn’t adapt to that way of talking about the emergency, they accused you of “underestimating the situation”.
Fault of a basic misunderstanding, a conceptual misunderstanding that saw us mutually lost in translation .
There were those who by “emergency” meant the danger from which the emergency started, that is, the epidemic.
Instead, we and a few others – in very clear minority, but a continuation of a debate at least forty – called “emergency” what v Eniva built on danger : the climate that was being formed, the special legislation, exceptions to rights otherwise deemed untouchable, the reconfiguration of powers …
Who, whenever we talked about all this, immediately wanted to go back to talking always and only about the virus itself, its etiology, its lethality, its differences with the flu, etc., in our opinion underestimated the situation .
Someone then blamed “denial”.
Although we never denied the dangerousness of the virus and the existence of the epidemic, we ourselves had caught the epithet “epidemiological denial”.
Well, we were used to it.
Calmly, there would have been some reflection on how much the accusation of “denial of the coronavirus” had in common with that, just as it does, of “denial of the sinkholes”.
In any case, the light-hearted use of the concept of “denial” did damage: by inflating the term and making the accusation passepartout , the grass was removed under the feet of those who tried to counter the real negationists: those of the Nazi-fascist crimes and those of climate change. Which, by the way, often coincided.
In a comment on Giap , Wolf had written:
“It is at least since 92-93 that we no longer have an ordinary time , there was always some emergency, at least that very little” public finances “; […] not recognizing the permanent emergency in which we are immersed is, at the very least, a symptom of a total lack of historical sense. “
Again Wolf, in another comment, had invited to ponder the similarities between the rhetoric on the epidemic and that which preceded the appointment and installation of the Monti government .
And so we had noticed the parallelism between data on contagion and “spread”. Even in 2011, public opinion had been beaten with hammer with decontextualized figures, increasing the fear of the irreparable, until there had been a quasi- coup d’état piloted by the EU to unseat Berlusca and install Monti.
But in reality the permanent emergency had started earlier, in the season of special terrorism laws. At the end of the nineties we had also written a book on it, Enemies of the State. Criminals, “monsters” and special laws in the control company (Derive Approdi, 1999).
Before Covid-19, we were convinced that the criticism of the emergency was now a heritage of the movements. A more acute awareness in some activists and more vague in others, even abstract if desired, but in any case present.
We were also convinced that the recipes of international organizations such as the WHO, the Monetary Fund, the WTO, UNESCO, FAO were not taken ipso facto as a Gospel.
Many who over the years, within the social movements, had spared no speeches (and rhetoric) on the emergency as a method of government, faced with the emergency coronavirus stammered and seemed stripped of critical tools, panting and fearful in the face of any accusations of « irresponsibility “, little or not at all eager to” brush against the hair “the dominant discourses. And the same in the face of the arrogance of any “expert” or the WHO press releases.
Someone went further, showing himself really annoyed by critical thinking .
From there the respectable accusations, also addressed by “unsuspected” to those who in spite of everything tried to exercise it, the critical thinking, for better or worse that he succeeded, and did not give up the parrhesia , to speak frankly, even risking attacks and unpopularity.
The ability to understand other people’s speeches was the first to jump. “If you make the comparison with the flu,” wrote Robydoc on Giap , “then you must specify that it is not an epidemiological comparison: it is as if I were comparing it to the dead at work.”
Of course. ” Numquam nominare influentiam “, a precept of strict Burionian observance. Anyone who had said obvious things about the fact that, symptomatically, most patients who experienced having the disease experienced it as a more aggressive flu, had triggered Pavlovian reactions and had caught epithets. RobyDoc continued:
“If you say that” it does not seem to be the virus as such that kills, since it must act under certain conditions to be dangerous “, you must specify that this does not mean” it will not be for me “; if you emphasize the senselessness and inconsistency of some measures, then you must specify that you are not proposing to go and watch the game, etc. “
Those who did not react as above often chose self-censorship, not to pass as “the one who belittled”, the “denialist”, the “dietrologist” (!) And so on.
Perhaps with the evening decree of March 9, someone would begin to open their eyes.
Agamben had spoken badly and hastily speaking of the actual virus (once again the etiology, to which all the speeches would have been confined!), But in the lines on the emergency his warning had been: attention, the situation of these days it shows that, from the point of view of control and social discipline, by exploiting an epidemic you can get more and much faster than by exploiting other dangers. And he had taken the example of terrorism.
Example also taken from Mattia Galeotti on Giap , but in a way that could be inspiring and at the same time helped to reiterate the difference between danger and emergency .
In France in late 2015, after the Bataclan massacre and the other attacks on 13 November, the danger of terrorism was real: the massacres had taken place. But the terrorist emergency was a superfetation, it was all the “more” built on real danger: martial law, the police state, the ban on demonstrations, etc.
Skepticism and criticism had spread among the French since the beginning, but, as Galeotti had written, “the simple evidence of the senselessness [of prohibitions and restrictions]” could not be enough, because fear and the precept were equally widespread “is not the moment to criticize ».
“At some point, however, someone * said something completely different. It started very slowly with the demonstrations of migrants and with the COP21 protest: some unauthorized demonstrations violated the prohibitions starting from a refusal of the emergency (“the real emergency is the climate”, a slogan of those days). We are talking about the end of 2015, but those days were important to open the cycle in which the Hexagon is also now. Just as it was essential that the movement against the Loi Travail of the following year de-sacralized Place de la Republique, which at the time had become a simulacrum of national unity, with the statue full of candles and tear-jerking phrases. Dismissing the emergency is an operation that has succeeded in France. “
The état d’urgence justified by the danger of terrorism had been challenged and disarticulated from below, since the start of the cycle of political and union mobilizations that started then and that still lasted in 2020.
The millions of people who had broken the bans were not “deniers”, people who did not believe in the existence of ISIS. They were people who contested what they wanted to impose by exploiting the danger represented by ISIS.
They had often accused us of optimism. In the past, it was enough for us to find “there are struggles in Italy” and many: – Uh, how optimistic you are …
We had simply never given up on fatalism and melancholy. And who knows if it was optimism to think that, in spite of everything, the emergency was contrasting, disjointed, and the state of emergency dismissable , and that the real conflict would return to manifest itself.
We had been attacked for having written, in viral Diary # 1, what in fact also several experts and respected communicators had written, and that the Scienza in Rete site had summarized as follows :
«What MUST be said is, sic et simpliciter , that many of those who encounter the virus don’t even notice it.Of those who show symptoms, only a minimal percentage, perhaps 2% or 3% (at the end of the emergency they will be even less) leave us the feathers; a number that you certainly would like, and should, avoid, but that must be considered in its right size […] To be even clearer: it is neither yellow fever nor smallpox, and it is not even MERS, nor SARS ( the latter two conditions are caused by other coronaviruses). If it were said clearly, reiterating the concept that this lethality, combined with the hitherto low probability of individual contagion, produces a zero individual risk for those who are not in an area with a high density of contagion […] the queues at supermarkets would be avoided to buy 50 tuna cans, 6 amuchina bottles or 50 bottles of water. “
And instead, as we had already pointed out, other experts – perhaps to sell an instant-book with a first print run of one hundred thousand copies – preferred clarity to the indiscriminate alarm, up to throwing arrows at those who, already recovered, left the house, thus giving an alleged “wrong signal”.
There were also various ways of justifying the measures taken, transforming studies with declaredly uncertain and nuanced outcomes into Holy Scriptures.
Never as in those days had it been seen that scientific communication presented itself as “neutral” but was drenched in a dominant ideology, like any other communication, and caught in the contradictions of reality. Mariano Tomatis had written about it on Giap a few years earlier, and on that occasion there had been a good debate.
But the least capable of realizing it seemed to be scientists. The Cross Science Pact thus concluded its joint release on the Coronavirus emergency:
“It is important to reiterate that there is no disagreement between scientists, as our assessments and goals are common. On the other hand, it could not be otherwise between people who know where the facts begin and where the opinions end. “
Followed the signatures of important luminaries and ordinary professors (all strictly male), whose specific expertise we could not discuss. However, if their epistemological and philosophical preparation was that which emerged from the last sentence, topped by an unbearable presumption, however, there was nothing to be happy about.
“Redundancy and flexibility ensure that if one part of the system goes under stress (eg the liver in the case of the human-system) other parts of the system work together to alleviate the stress of the subsystem. Living systems are in fact redundant systems and with remarkable flexibility characteristics […] flexibility is the opposite of specialization. The more a system is specialized, i.e. based on a single variable or on the use of a technology, the more fragile it will be and unable to resist unexpected changes.
An example of a parameter that prevented flexibility and prepared for the disaster was the so-called “deficit-to-GDP ratio of no more than 3%”, one of the best known neoliberal dogmas, born in France in the early 1980s and which became one of the cornerstones of the Treaty of Maastricht (1992).
Whenever a serious question was addressed, an exception was made to that parameter. As proof that it was senseless. Besides, its own inventor had admitted it.
« If you ask me if the rule adopted today in Europe […] according to which the deficit of a country must not exceed 3% of GDP has scientific basis, I immediately answer no. Because it was I who devised it, on the night of June 9, 1981, at the explicit request of President François Mitterrand who was in a hurry to find a simple solution that would quickly put a brake on the spending of the leftist government which was exploding in the meantime. So in less than an hour, without the assistance of an economic theory, the idea of 3% was born […] the number 3, which is known to the public for various reasons and has a positive meaning, think to the Three Graces, to the three days of the resurrection, the three ages of Auguste Comte, the three primary colors, the list is endless.A magical, almost shamanic number that can also be easily used in political marketing […] »
( Guy Abeille , interviewed by Sole24Ore, 04/04/2019 )
The neoliberal dogmas inscribed in the European treaties and transposed by the Italian laws had imposed fetishes such as the “budget balance”, even included in the Constitution.
It was precisely the pursuit of the “balanced budget” that had devastated the welfare state and in particular public health, which now, after almost thirty years of cuts, found itself unable to manage the epidemic.
So they had summed up the shambles the CLAP (the Independent Labor Rooms and Precarious):
“Since 1997 […] Italy has lost 100 thousand beds […] Between 2012 and 2017 […] 759 hospital wards were suppressed.”
Now it was said that to face the epidemic, it was necessary to operate in a deficit of over seven billion. A super-derogation justified by the situation.
Yes, derogations could be asked for and obtained, but as for long-term rational solutions, there was little to hope for.
“The health service is collapsing!”, “The beds already finished!” … There was talk of beds and the capacity of the health system as if they were axiomatic premises, an almost unchangeable datum .
And instead, if there was really great danger, then even the most consolidated dogmas should have been questioned.
Was there an urgency? Back then that private clinics and hospitals were expected, those that had gained from the companyization, privatization and fragmentation of the National Health System.
Didn’t someone want to be ordered? Seize the structure. The expropriation for public benefit was also provided for by the Constitution, which when speaking of private property limited its “methods of purchase, enjoyment and limits in order to ensure its social function”.
In Italy of a parallel universe, the epidemic could be the right occasion, it could stimulate a change of direction and the return to a truly public, universal and free healthcare.
But how to get there, in that parallel universe? Even in Reggio Emilia, you couldn’t go.
The tumblers on the stock exchange – on March 9 Piazza Affari closed at -9% – and the fact that many sectors of the economy were suffering was used to say: – You have pissed off analysis, capitalism does not gain anything.
Those who said this did nothing but fall at the mercy of two misunderstandings:
1) exchanged the “economy” in its contingent dimension for capitalism as a system, and
2) confused the “government” – intended as the momentary team of politicians who covered ministerial positions – with governance , that is, with the set of tools to ensure the stability of relations between governors and governat *.
More or less the same mistake as when “the weather is confusing” with the climate, and said: – Today is cold, where would this global warming be, huh?
The emergency allowed for huge financial speculation .
From the emergency , large platforms, like Google , took advantage of it to take more and more pieces of public school.
The artificial intelligence industry applied to surveillance and control took advantage of the emergency, from smart cameras to new biometric machines to be used in checkpoints to termoscans that were also being installed in our airports and stations, up to drones designed specifically for sanitary cords. And how the organizers of the largest expo in the sector, the iHLS InnoTech Expo , which was held in Tel Aviv in November, would rub their hands :
«Interested in learning more about the applications of robotics and AI in emergency and disaster scenarios? Wait iHLS InnoTech Expo! »
There were various articles on the expo site where the coronavirus emergency was mentioned. One, for example, described it as a huge opportunity to sell state-of-the-art drones to governments.
The emergency also made it possible to better divide, reconfigure and control the territories, establishing which ones were expendable and which were not.
Before the whole of Lombardy became an “orange zone” and then the whole country as a “protected zone”, there had been, to put it in Zone Rosse su Giap :
«An attempt to reconfigure geography in the sense of a control of the territory that would allow Milan and the logistics hub of Piacenza to operate under the” coronavirus regime “[…] sacrifice the provinces of Cremona and Lodi and part of the Bergamo area so as not to compromise finance , the flow of logistics and the Milan-Venice axis. “
In the Marche region, it was decided to “dedicate” the hospital of Camerino to Coronavirus – at the center of a fragile territory which had been experiencing the earthquake emergency for four years, without even family doctors in many countries. The inpatients had been transferred to San Severino and Macerata, the long-term patients to Cingoli.
But even from the “sacrificed” territories, value could be extracted. Wolf had drawn our attention to certain speeches:
«This morning at the” master’s voice “[Radio24, Editor’s note] a member of the League who is in the red zone (I don’t remember the name, but it doesn’t matter) proposed the transformation of the red zones into ZES, special economic zones, that is territories in which derogation from tax, labor, environmental regulations … in favor of companies. »
Hypotheses and experiments were being made. Chaotically, in the carlona, joking with the catastrophe, but meanwhile ideas crept in, scenarios hitherto unthinkable became thinkable, and something would come in handy.
It was necessary to reiterate: the functionality of the emergency was not the implementation of any plot or perfect Plan or beautiful thought or Will of the Capital, but it was a systemic functionality, part of the structural operativeness of capitalism, and was always the result of contradictions and conflicts.
To return to the systemic causes of the new epidemics: it has long been predicted that global warming, by dissolving permafrost, would “awaken” viruses with which we humans had never come in contact.
Would we react each time as with this coronavirus?
Or would we finally decide to end capitalism?
The Dozza in flames, photo by Wu Ming 2.
In the middle of the plowed field we watched the smoke rise thick from the prison and get lost in the night. We heard the screams, the bursts of tear gas, the sirens. All around us a rural horror landscape; in the distance the basilica of San Luca, always illuminated; and closer, the lights of the fairgrounds.
That piece of land was still Bulåggna, but it wasn’t already anymore. From that esplanade illuminated by the moon we watched the monstrous image of the country reflected in the flames. We didn’t know what awaited us, but we could imagine it. We felt grateful to be there for each other. Bumped, muddy and maybe even out of time to skip channels, but we were there. Not alone.
We would go looking for anyone who had not yet succumbed to nonsense. This would have given us strength in times to come. As always.
And we would still have bet on intelligence against state idiocy, collective paranoia, emergency politics. One more time. One minute more.
After all, there had never been a more valid reason to do what needed to be done.