Rome Burns

Photo: La Repubblica, Italy

That is the graffiti in one of the destroyed streets in this Saturday's "indignati" demonstration. It ended in violence against the police, city security, and last but not least the pacifist organizers of the manifestation, in tune with the world wide movements OCCUPY.

The graffiti sounds like some epic motto of ancient Rome when power struggles burned palaces, libraries, and streets.

Roman life may not be too different after all, except that 2000 years later, we somehow believe that those conflicts should be resolved without arson. Maybe we are wrong. Maybe the fact that people are organized using web networks does not free them from timeless forms of treachery and palace intrigue, or the manipulation and destruction of good political intent.

Anyway, after the mayhem, the search was on for the hooded arsonists, organized through the Internet and through private video shots by participants.

Italy remembers very well the violent "Years of Lead" (late 60's to early 80's), when red and black terrorists planted bombs in public places, blasting innocent citizens in the name of their distorted concept of supreme justice. For years they rampaged beyond the reach of police, courts and other institutions.

Even today, after many years, some cases of public terrorism have not been resolved. Books have been written by important authors to explain the supposedly important difference between a red and a black bomb detonated in public. The Nobel prize authors Dario Fo wrote a play where he showed how easily the police could frame anarchists for terrorism, killing them by legal means. There was a famous question about crime: a chi giova, who profits from it?

Today decades political violence is less sophisticated and ideological. Rome on fire Oct 16 2011 could have been Belgrade Feb 18 2008, when nationalist hooligans, upset about Kosovo, burned foreign embassies.

This is how Italian press reported:

"Black bloc, the day after.

Rome woke up after the nightmare of violence. Devastated, injured, the city counts the wounds. In the streets cars are burned, roads left without precious sanpietrini stones used as bullets, the facades of banks hotels and shops destroyed, black from smoke: at least one million of euros is the damage.

135 injured people, luckily no dead. 500 violent intruders destroyed a protest of 300 000 pacific protesters: the battle lasted for 5 hours in Rome downtown: a boy has lost one eye, one men has lost two fingers and a policeman suffered a heart attack.

International day of anger, Roman version"

"You can recognize them immediately by they clothes: pants, hoodies, helmets, masks, backpacks. All in black. Sometimes they even hold a banner in front of them: we are not asking for the future we are taking the present. They individuate the target, make a cross, take off they backpack , take out their hammers and other tools and hit. They started with the cars…"

Eugenio Scalfari , in La Reppublica editorial commented:

And who are the indignitati? They are neither right or left winged., in the traditional sense of those words. They are however not conservative, they have concrete objectives: they want public goods for everybody, they have no faith in private property including the state administrated property by political and power elites.People should possess and rule the goods they have where they live as water food forests, communication networks, houses, factories hospitals. And banks should stop to exist except for elementary transactions based on use and exchange value."

It' s a sad end of an attempt in Rome of the globalized protest starting from Madrid through Occupy Wall street in NY and other 80 cities which managed a peaceful protest.

It all happened while the usual protestors where on the streets; in somewhat a bigger number: plus a feminist , an angry teacher, a perky granny, a guy who lost his job hand in hand with an extracomunitario and finally a indignado youngster. Then black bloc stormed in and all hell broke loose: the spectre of bloody Genova riots between the protestors and the police ten years ago, anni di piombo of public terrorism and police mafia 40 years ago and Rome in flames 2000 ago.

A chi giova, who profits from all this? Premiere Berlusconi has been confirmed in power again after months of public sex and corruption scandals as if nothing happened. As if indignity did not exist or protest. The Italians seem not to need a foreign enemy: they bring it all alone on themselves.

La Repubblica: "Outraged, burned the flags of Italy and the European Union"; "The broken windows"


  1. The financial global system is broken.  The occupy Wall Street group is exciting and quite amazing. I’ve seen it myself and I’ve donated funds to empower them.  But they have no power over the broken financial system. And in the end, I believe, a completely peaceful protest is not the answer.

  2. A chi giova?

    Nessuno di normale.

    The black bloc is another example of how  tools are ambivalent, they can be used for good and bad. They organize through the internet, they use cell phones to coordinate, they use the right to protest as cover for doing as much damage as possible.

  3. There’s only one problem that can be solved with arson: being cold.

    Still, if it takes a giant fire to get someone to listen, I guess you don’t have a lot of choices when you need to be heard.

  4. Louis XIV of France had Ultima Ratio Regum cast on the cannons of his armies – “last argument of kings.”

    Governments ask the populace nicely, then start cracking heads if it doesn’t work. The populace has been asking the government nicely to stop their shenanigans. It doesn’t seem to be working. What’s next?

  5. Not to condone this sort of tripe, and in all likelihood they are just thugs. However perhaps it could be people frustrated with a system that seems to ignore signs and slogans, and lighting some van on fire gets more attention and coverage.

  6. I can think of no better way to destroy the public support required for actual change than by hurting people and destroying property.

  7. Angry people act in an angry way. Why does that surprise anyone?

    There is more than one way to protest – the pacifists don’t own the streets (either) and if some people believe that non-violence is a dead end and choose to protest violently that’s up to them. The events of Genova 10 years ago taught me that the Italian police will deal ruthlessly with non-violent demonstrators: they almost killed several of my (pacifist) friends, as well as murdering Carlo Giuliani. In that situation, pacifism is suicidal. I would think that many young Italians know this too and have decided that the streets are only ours when we take them, not when we ask nicely and are given them.

    1. To call Giuliani a pacifist is really funny!
      Which pacifist will hide himself behind a mask and try to throw a fire estinguisher on the head of a policeman? Very strange paciifist indeed.
      Giuliani seems more a guy like you, one who decide that the right way to protest is destroy car and shop of innocent people and put life of innocente people at risk , just to show how much frustate are you,  for the shame of Italy, for the shame of indignados and for the shame of human race. Stop hiding behind a mask! Streets are not yours you belong to jails.

      1. Or a realistic pacifist.

        I consider all war and conflict to be the result of a failure to communicate peacefully.  However I do understand that humans are fallible, diplomats and mediators are imperfect, and some people will only understand the language of physical violence.

        Sometimes a fire extinguisher to the face can prevent a bullet wound.

          1. Smacking a guy with a fire extinguisher or shooting a guy solves nothing other than stopping or hurting that guy.  Setting a building on fire solves nothing. 

            You’d might as well say you can have any conversation with nothing but gutteral screaming.  And yes, I am aware that there are SOME conversations you can have like that, but to point that out would be an attempt to prove me wrong through a single outlandish exception.  That’s the sort of thing people do when they don’t care about the issue as long as they get to “win.”  And I know you’re not that sort of person.

          2. I agree that the exception does not prove the rule. It is clear to me, having seen you reply on a number of BoingBoing threads in the past, that you are a thoughtful person. So maybe I can share my concerns with you about these issues (riots, violence, etc.) with the hope that you will understand my position.

            You said earlier in this thread that “some people will only understand the language of physical violence” and I think, though please correct me if I am wrong, that the object of your observation was violent protestors. But when I read that sentence I immediately think of the typical bank executive, the politician, and the other folks whom many rioters identify (even if abstractly) as enemies. Most residents of the world understand the social, economic, and legal consequences of their actions. And because their actions have consequences, they act accordingly. The CEOs of banks also understand the consequences of their actions: if you sell deliberately disguised toxic assets as good investments, someone down the line is going to get hurt. Their criminality is not predicated on a misunderstanding; they do not need a talking to. They need to be held accountable for their crimes. Unfortunately, we live in a social-political system where, to use the terms of OWS, the 1% need not fear traditional forms of justice that govern the rest of us.

            That aforementioned CEO will not be imprisoned. Fines mean nothing to him. Widespread protests like OWS are only nuisances. His reputation among those who matter to him will not be tarnished. His family will remain obscenely wealthy long after his death, and his wealth means that any social, political, economic setback is merely a temporary inconvenience. In short, he is not like the 99% and for all intents and purposes is untouchable by traditional forms of justice.

            … But he is human, by which I mean he feels pain. And while I am not publicly advocating that protestors seek to physically harm anyone, it is my belief that this sort of person probably only understands the language of physical violence. In the absence of more traditional, restorative forms of justice the only recourse the 99% have is retributive justice, one which has a long and storied history in human history.

            Sometimes people respond to unjust situations with violence because that is the only recourse they have–unfortunately sometimes they focus their anger in the wrong direction.

          3. Fair enough, and I do think I see where you’re coming from.

            When I say some people don’t understand anything short of violence, I more mean the people who refuse to listen to your words.  That can mean bullies, or fanatics, or people who view you with contempt. 

            You can make a CEO listen if you can convince him that what you have to say matters to him.  Penalties – strict ones – for executives is one way to do that but let’s be honest, an executive’s jail cell is nicer than most of our homes. 

            I think that in order to resolve this peacefully, all we need is to get the perpetrators to listen.  If that takes a threat, it takes a threat.  One does not necessarily need to make good on that threat if the threat alone is all it takes.  Now if the target of your ire sees that you don’t follow through and again decides you’re not worth listening to, well, that escalates things a bit. 

            You’re right that when people have no recourse but violence, they will be violent.  I think that’s a terrible situation and almost never leads to positive change; if anything, it can backfire terribly.  The answer to this problem is not to let this sort of situation arise in the first place.  But just look at the terrorists in the Middle East.  Some of their points are valid.  NONE of their methods are.  We can no longer have a discussion about the West’s involvement in the Middle East because they have completely invalidated themselves through their actions. 

            I’m not saying the protestors are terrorists.  Far from it.  What I am saying is that there is a point at which the means of communication overshadows the message.  In those cases, it might be preferable to remain silent.  The problem is that it is not always bearable to be silent.

            There are mechanisms in place to fix our system when it breaks.  When those mechanisms are broken too, they yes, maybe it’s time to throw a fire extinguisher.  It won’t end well, but maybe it’ll end less bad.

        1. Sometimes can also call a bullet wound.
           By the way let me tell clear:  I am sad Giuliani was shot, but call him a pacifist is wrong and, in my opinion, an insult to the real pacifist that was there in Genova (a lot of friends of mine too) and, because of guys like him were beaten by the police. Police were wrong but “two wrongs does not make one right” (hope it works in english language too) and, if you want to propose a “new world” to propose it with the old fascist/communist metods is not the best way.

      2. Carlo was clearly not a pacifist (you may have misinterpreted my sentence) yet he still did not deserve to be shot in the face by a policeman cowering inside an armoured car. My friends were pacifists and they were very seriously injured (multiple broken ribs, fractured skulls) and very lucky not to have been killed.

        Apparently the method of protest made little difference to the police, they regarded us all as scum who deserved to die whether we were violent or not. In that situation, why not fight? When the police can kill and maim with impunity what value does your law have? Just to keep us in our place and protect money and property. If that is all that law is for, why should be respect it?

        I know the argument that violence may turn people off, but if you’re not looking for good PR but instead simply trying to seize control of the street, then why would you care how it looks in the papers tomorrow?

        1. @boingboing-ae06a39db5e312082186d55770a4e1db:disqus
          depends on what topic do you want to reach. If you want to move people on your side and want to show how repressive the government is you should not give them a reason to beat you. If Giuliani was trowhing flowers and somebody would have shot him it would have been clear for the whole world who was on the wrong side and much more poeple would have supported the movement. Coming to the police I understand that sometimes violence seems the only opportunity, but it only seems! If something is wrong or it doesn’t work properly, you should try to adjust it not to destroy it.
          Italy is still a democracy, even if (I admit) it is a very peculiar one, and one should act in a democratic way.  To turn a pacific protest in what happened yesterday it was a self goal for people who want to change the country, at least: this is my opinion

  8. Oh anarchists. Every time they appear and leave a wake of destruction in their path, they remind people how much they don’t want to live in an anarchy.

    1. That’s why it has been the favoured approach of the state to fund groups who pose as the left while actually being right-wing extremists.  This has come to be known as the “strategy of tension”.

      Jasamina’s identification of these bombings as being” Red & Black” bombings does not survive  scrutiny at all.  Links to Gladio have been found in almost all of the important bombings and even the Italian justice system jailed a neo-fascist for the Bologna bombing and not a left-wing terrorist as it was painted by the media and the Italian state at the time  [and unfortunately still *is* being painted by Jasamina].

      To state that some group is involved in bombings is a very serious charge, and I would expect a greater level of knowledge about a subject before one says such things publicly.  I think that the particular paragraph…

      Italy remembers very well the violent “Years of Lead” (late 60’s to early 80’s), when red and black terrorists planted bombs in public places, blasting innocent citizens in the name of their distorted concept of supreme justice. For years they rampaged beyond the reach of police, courts and other institutions. so factually incorrect as to warrant a retraction.

      1. Well, “red” terrorism throw a lot of Molotov and burn down some fascist site too. Ok in general I agrre that bombs were more a right wing things while Red terrorism was more on killing target but what Jesamina sayd it is not wrong in itself 

  9. This will probably get the FBI/CIA/NSA on my door, but this is a real problem – worldwide.  And if it takes a bit of arson and other property damage to get the point across for real change, so be it.  The real amount of damage caused by these corporations/farms/banks is considerably more than a burning car or two.  I hope every occupy demonstration leads to this or worse (without injury or death…though it probably would) because this isn’t going to change unless people are scared.

    1. my two cents:
      when people around the world will be scared the only result you will get is that everybody will ask for more repression and that the police could shout the mouth of the protesters easily. You need people to follow you not people to be scared of

    2. You, wearing a hood and burning a car, isn’t going to make the world scared of Bank of America. It is going to make the world scared of /you/, and funnel money into the pockets of the military, police, and private security contractors.

      (And the military, police, and private contractors are much, much better at burning things and busting heads than you are.)

      1. Not sure if “will make the world scared of you” is the right phrase, in that non-participating citizens are well protected by multiple levels of law enforcement.  More about annoyance and inconvenience, which indeed damages their movement. Good point about it ending up a revenue bonanza for law enforcement.

    3. The real amount of damage caused by these corporations/farms/banks is considerably more than a burning car or two.  I hope every occupy demonstration leads to this or worse (without injury or death…though it probably would) because this isn’t going to change unless people are scared.

      I support a lot of the message and I absolutely 100% support the right to demonstrate.  Come and smash my car, my local pub, my coffee shop, or any one of my local businesses, and I’ll be the first guy screaming for police to kick your face in and help them do it.  Destroying the lives of innocent people is a pretty fucking surefire way to convince them that you need to have your head stomped.  You will certainly get attention, but it won’t be the kind that you want.

      Any person that can watch innocent people having their lives ruined by some assholes who are angry and feel good about it is a shit head.  The fact that you think  the corporations/government/whatever are doing the same doesn’t make suddenly make it magically okay for you to kick the shit out of some innocent folks.  It isn’t like some shop owner is going to look at the ruins of his business and go, “Oh, but the corporations, so I guess it is okay”.

      The second OWS descends into this kind of stupid, the movement is on its death bed.  OWS protesters should grab anyone that acts like this and drag them to the police.  Shitheads like these dicks is what makes people happy to see otherwise peaceful protest movements crushed.  You are not going to “win” a confrontation, but you sure as hell are going to piss off a lot of people who might support you and help get otherwise peaceful protesters dispirited if the police don’t stomp them first.

      Unless you plan on some sort of violent revolt lead by the minority, victory is achieved by convincing the majority to be with you and voting.  If you plan on some sort of guerrilla revolt, expect to get your ass kicked and the vast majority of citizens happily lending a hand.

  10. The rightwing terrorists of the past were funded through Operation Gladio, which was organized by Italian equivalent of the CIA, and their bomb attacks on the public therefore were, like 9/11 and Oklahoma City, false flag operations meant to deceive the public and justify police state laws.

  11. To the astounding number of people here who are saying “If this is what it takes to affect change, then so be it,” the ends simply never justify the means. You are moving us all towards a much more frightening world than the one we are currently in.  

  12. Just an American here saying how much I truly love Roma, my favorite city in the world, and how sad this makes me.  I do not know who is right and who is wrong but seeing Roma on fire is sad.

  13. I’m so fed up with Italian demonstrations. Arson and violence are almost always a possible, if not probable, result of almost any serious protest these days.

    Maybe it’s because strikes happen so often that they lose their meaning, and when the protestors want to say “no, this time we mean it!” they have to up the ante. I guess it would be no good just replicating what’s happening on Wall Street. 5000 people angrily holding up signs? That happens monthly in Italy, a place where students still feel the need to “occupy” their schools every other year for weeks to address some minor grievance (and to smoke joins in the principal’s office).

  14. It seems somewhat clear that arson etc. aren’t incredibly welcoming and comfortable forms of protest for most, so I’m wondering a bit why there’s so much mention made of this idea in this thread. Since many of your are starting from the default opinion that these forms of protest are off-putting to those who might not take the time to think about what these things express, I’m inviting the BB community to perhaps take some time to ponder ourselves the values, ideas, tactics, emotions, and so on that are being demonstrated in Rome and elsewhere. Obviously one *shouldn’t* burn cars and whatnot, but what can these acts tell us? What can we learn from them?

    1. These acts can tell us that destruction is fun. It can tell us that people in large groups often do things they would never do alone. They can tell us that some people have no sense that their actions can cause other people to be harmed.

      In political terms, it tells us only that vandals are good at hiding in crowds.

      1. Hmmm, that’s not all that I’m getting from the Rome riots, or intuiting about them. I’m getting in addition to those things that, quoting Gibson, the street has its own uses for things; that repressed rage can boil over into violence; that violent street tactics are often embraced consciously for political ends; and that burning cars look incredible as images. Your political analysis seems way too reductive, shamey-blamey to me. Cf. the London riots over the summer: they weren’t just about cowardly vandals, were they?

        1. You asked about burning cars, not the entire day of protest. I intuite that most of the people protesting did not set vehicles on fire. That is probably because most of them understand that starting cars on fire is dangerous and should be avoided.

          People in London who took the opportunity to loot their own neighborhoods are cowardly vandals who mixed in with protesters.

          And let’s be clear, having seen your comments on several threads, there is almost nothing in my political analysis that would be “for you.”

          1. “People in London who took the opportunity to loot their own neighborhoods are cowardly vandals who mixed in with protesters” is wrong on so many levels I don’t know where to start. You simply don’t know what you’re talking about. People didn’t loot their own neighbourhoods, it wasn’t a protest, the rioters weren’t cowards.

          2. There’s very little clear about your last statement, and I invite further clarification from you. We do seem to disagree, but I’m not sure what your point is concerning that: are you saying that we can’t make ourselves clear to each other? That there’s an unbridgeable ideological divide between us? Don’t dismiss my “comments on several threads”: let’s discuss, debate, argue, it’s fun!

          3. Nah. It’s not fun because Antinous deletes my comments but not yours. It turns it into a waste of my time. Suffice it to say that we do not have a unbridgeable ideological gap, but we have different thresholds for useful protest.

            Have a good day.

          4. I respect this. Good day to you, ChicagoD. Perhaps some other time we’ll discuss those thresholds: although I’m not sure I ever expressed much of an opinion re: usefulness and utility. Take care!

  15. I have wondered why the American Occupy demonstrations are so peaceful, this is what I thought would happen in pretty much any other country in the world…

  16. I’m guessing anyone here who is even vaguely supporting violence hasn’t had his/her property damaged or been injured/had a loved one injured.  Some of you may even be posting from the safety of your local Starbucks. NYC has had many demonstrators for weeks show nothing but grace and civility. Even in the face of police brutality! AND their voices are being heard. Go figure.

    1. I have seen very few things in my life that have made so many  many people smile as the sight of a burning police car.

      Let’s quote renowned pacificist MLK here: “A riot is the language of the unheard”.

      1. What a miserable life you must lead.

        Also, quoting MLK out of context is worse than not quoting him.

        As for London, blah blah blah. Says you. Not says lots of other people. Some people protest, some people steal under cover of protest.

        1. I was there, in a riot, in my community – were you? I’m guessing not as you have it completely wrong. I saw it with my own eyes. Don’t believe everything you read in the papers.

          MLK was talking about a riot that was far more violent and deadly than this, yet even he understood that you can’t critcise the rioters without criticising the violent society that created them.

      2. That is very, very out of context. And if it were an empty police car only, that would be one thing. Innocent bystanders, fellow protestors, etc, do NOT deserve to have to be injured, killed, or their property destroyed. It is a violation of human rights. MLK, a pacifist and supporter of human rights, recognized that.

  17. Violence has its place in the world, as a counter to violence. I’m not convinced that the symbolic violence (or property destruction, if you will) practiced by the Black Bloc is *effective*, even if it might be justifiable.

    To be brief: I don’t think the destruction of state property, particularly state property being used to repress the rebellious population, is particularly objectionable, and I think the image of a burning police car is as appropriate an expression of anger as a well-sloganed cardboard sign. But, apparently many other people do, and apparently many other people are willing to forgive outsized police violence and murder when a cop car gets burned, and will look the other way from what the protesters are saying. I think those people have their priorities wrong, and are placing a premium on decorum that is ridiculous in an indecorous world. Politesse of that sort is what the bourgeoisie wants while they send men with guns to evict you from your house.

    Nevertheless, I do wish to converse with those wrong-headed people, and if lighting a cop car on fire makes them unable to see past the flames, so be it. I’ll settle for a long, slow burn.

  18. Sad to see this. Acts like this taints an entire cause, making it easier for it to be ignored as a group of crazies. What Would Gandhi Do? (WWGD?) Didn’t he have these issues during his peaceful protests and yet with the violence surrounding the fringes of his activist movement we remember the peaceful protests more than the riots.

    1. Every time that people committed violence claiming to be on Ghandi’s side, he stopped all protests and went on a hunger strike.

    2. What Would Gandhi Do?

      Gandhi provided a palatable alternative. Just like MLK provided a palatable alternative to Malcolm X. What makes you think that Gandhi would have succeeded if there wasn’t violence happening at the same time to make his movement look acceptable?

        1. What makes you think MLK Jr. succeeded?

          Success often comes in the form of a series of small victories. It doesn’t hurt to look back at the battles you’ve won once in a while, especially if it helps keep you from getting too dispirited to keep up the good fight.

        2. What makes you think MLK Jr. succeeded?

          I see what you did there.

          However, on this point :
          Successful movements generally have great breadth, from people in balaclavas blowing up bombs to people in rainbow suspenders blowing bubbles. The Powers That Be will choose the most credible but least threatening person in the movement and direct their media to anoint that person as the spokesperson for the entire movement. Even if the bombers are the real agent of change, history will record that it was the humble man speaking words of peace that did it all. It’s bullshit.

          1. Since when was the point of revolutions to win over the media?  In this world with corporate-sponsored media that is surely a futile battle.  Better, then, to win over the hearts and minds of the actual people – the 99%, isn’t it?  

          2. Better, then, to win over the hearts and minds of the actual people – the 99%, isn’t it?

            How would the 99% – the actual people – know about your cause without the media reporting it?

          3. That’s a quandary, I admit.  Still, OWS was able to attract plenty people to the cause without resorting to any violence.  I think that’s pretty inspiring.

        3. What makes  us think MLK Jr. succeeded?
          If my tv set tells the truth nowadays the president of USA is, like Berlusconi would say, suntanned, isn’t he? It seems to me a step forward from the segragationist era, right?

          1. I’m sure “a nation where racism is no longer powerful enough to keep a visibly black man from being elected President” was somewhere on MLK’s wish list. Try to think of it as an indicator of progress toward an ultimate ideal, not as an “outcome.”

            Asking if MLK and the civil rights movement that he helped lead succeeded or failed is putting it in too simplistic of terms. He contributed to very real, tangible progress in a righteous struggle that continues to this day.

          2. I agreed whit you and I would like to add an “important thing”:
            if nowadays for a ” white european” like me it is normal to simpatize for afro-american rights, and so it was for my grandfathers, who grew up in a country without black people during the Fascist era (when they were told:  “niggers and Judes are subhuman”), well this is for people like MLK.  His message of peace and equality move us (with our different and somehow “remote” culture) to simpatize for afro americans.  Same was for a man like Mandela . I think a thing like that matter a lot

  19. I find this blog post at best rambling and semi-coherent, at worst another form of obsfuscating the power of the people to fight back against a wide array of injustices, and not always fall for the propaganda of those who own the media. (Berlusconi in Italy, several corporations in America, etc.)

    In America, we continuously hear the propaganda meme that people are afraid to borrow from the banks — but the truth is that banks have been refusing to loan at record numbers.
    The bankers want to spend all their free government money in speculation across the markets and foreign investment.

    Therefore, in a period of record low interest rates, when housing prices have fallen considerably, few can buy at this time.

    A recent United Nations economic report on food prices explained that investment in commodity speculation (speculation on foodstuffs, etc.) has increased from $13 billion in 2003 to $260 billion by 2008, a 2,000 percent increase.

    Now that may appear to be a large increase, but it dramatically under reports the increase when one understands that the amount has been leveraged to a great extent; a conservative estimate would be from 10,000% to 50,000% leveraging on that $260 billion in commodities speculation — thanks to securitized financial instruments, credit derivatives, and further manipulated with the use of credit default swaps (CDS), another category of credit derivatives.  (CDSes are often referred to as “unregulated insurance”  — if they were regulated, they’d be outlawed!  This is what they mean by “shadow banking.”)

    Another recent report, this time by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (USA) explained that 95% of commodity futures trades was pure speculation, not for purposes of hedging, or spreading risk, as the Wall Street bankers are forever claiming.

    So we can extrapolate that massive and unwarranted speculation in food pricing (commodity futures) is a formidable cost driver – resulting in much human turmoil and tragedy while accomplishing nothing of value – except increasing the wealth of the speculators.

    Of course, the same situation has been concurrently taking place in oil and energy markets, precious metals markets (gold, silver, etc.) and the healthcare sector, all affecting prices.
    So to understand the massive roiling of international and national markets, using phantom money and funds, is to understand the enormous detrimental and destructive forces on people’s lives which is decidedly anti-progress in human affairs.

    Understanding the connections and linkages allows one to better grasp seemingly unrelated world events:  the cornering of the chocolate market awhile back, then a few months later serious political troubles erupt in the major chocolate-producing country, Ivory Coast (Africa), thus causing upheavals in chocolate (futures trading) market prices.

    Behind the scenes one sees money flows between certain financial groups to certain countries’ rulers (the Ivory Coast, in this case) – and a few people are enriched, while many die and many other innocent lives are destroyed in the process.

    Now we have been told another propaganda meme – that  this global economic meltdown resulted from a slight mortgage default rate a few years back – a preposterous notion, given that had there been zero defaults the same meltdown would have occurred – it is unsustainable for the banksters to continue selling $100 to $1,000 worth of debt for every $1 of debt on hand – a relatively recent occurrence, all made possible by relatively recent changes in laws, regulations and legislation — in other words, absolute corruption.

    This is exactly how Wall Streeters made their billions – selling endless debt which they now tell us is our fault and our problem!

    When Warren Buffett publicly denounces credit derivatives as “financial weapons of mass destruction” – then later spreads his money among congress to ensure these weapons continue to exist and proliferate – he is playing the American public in the same manner as the Robber Barons once did.

    When Warren Buffett publicly proclaims that the super-rich should pay taxes also, while his company is in arrears for billions of unpaid taxes, he is playing the American public in the same manner as the Robber Barons once did.

    Perhaps the time has finally arrived that the people are tired of being played for fools?

     (There are untold multitudes of vanquished peoples who might disagree with the notion that violence doesn’t solve anything.)

    1. Questions (retorical):
      1.who are “we” and who are “they”? Why are you so sure all the goods are on one side and the bad on the others?
      2. Why destroy cars of passerby and put the life of family and children in risk will help “we” against “them” ?
      Life is not Matrix or Vendetta or some other B-movies of your choice.
      let me suggest you:
      1.Going around breaking glasse will not solve the crisis (unless you are a glass producer), ”
      2.things are way more complex than the “bad rich” and the “innocent common people”.
      In the world outside USA (where you live) and Europe (where I live) a lot of people have suffered for this struggle before (and still are) but we did not complain at the time with the greedy managers and the greedy systems because they were OUR managers and we enjoy having products at affordable prices

      1. Read in context that Gandhi quote was clearly not a call to instigate acts of violence. I don’t think the acts of arson we’re talking about here really qualify as self-defense.

        1. Absolutely. I just wanted to be clear that successful non-violent revolutions are few and far between. Maybe I should choose a different quotation:

          “Revolution is bloody, revolution is hostile, revolution knows no
          compromise, revolution overturns and destroys everything that gets in
          its way. And you, sitting around here like a knot on the wall, saying,
          “I’m going to love these folks no matter how much they hate me.” No, you
          need a revolution. Whoever heard of a revolution where they lock arms,
          singing “We Shall Overcome”? You don’t do that in a revolution. You
          don’t do any singing, you’re too busy swinging.” – Malcolm X

  20. As fellow commentators suggested, violence is a form of protest and being heard IF other means of communication have failed. However, I believe here there is still room and time to go on with non-violent means..

    Also, just a suggestion; if violence will be the way to go it should be directed towards the institutions/people that the protest initially started against, not towards cars/shops of fellow citizens or otherwise you risk being stamped as scary aimless anarchists.

  21. The author writes: “Italy remembers very well the violent “Years of Lead” (late 60’s to early 80’s), when red and black terrorists planted bombs in public places, blasting innocent citizens in the name of their distorted concept of supreme justice. For years they rampaged beyond the reach of police, courts and other institutions.”
    It is disappointing that the author does not even refer to the bombs planted in public places by the state’s security forces, e.g. the Bologna Railway bombing that killed 85 people. The Italian state aggressively pursued a strategy of tension designed to weaken the mass appeal of the left via implicating them in such atrocities. 

    Nor was it a particularly Italian phenomenon. The Spanish state pursued a similar strategy in post-Franco Spain, e.g. the false accusation that the anarchist trade union the CNT planted bombs in a disco (La Scala) which turned out to be the work of the security forces. The British state was up to their eyeballs in such activities during the recent conflict in Northern Ireland, in particular in the 1970s and 80s when the conflict was its most intense. Perhaps the FBI can be viewed as having engaged in a strategy of tension with the likes of the Black Panthers, although I’d be less knowledgeable about that.

    There is no doubt sections of the Italian left did commit atrocities of their own, but the situation cannot be understood if the state is seen as a neutral arbiter rather than as a very active player on the side of the capitalists in 1970s Italy. The extent of their provocateur actions are, to this day, difficult to gauge as when the state pursues such a strategy, usually via informers or outsourced accomplices such as fascists, the whole arena becomes very murky indeed. 

    We could do with Wikileaks getting its paws on some old time archives. That’d make for juicy reading.

  22. This is not good. It took a decade to shake the bad vibes from Genoa in 01. It discredits the whole movement and now the conservative fucks can point to this shit and block all progress. And Italy needs change, bad.

    1. You think Genoa derailed the movement? After Genoa anti-Capitalist activity increased. The movement was on a roll and seemed to be gaining ground every day. Then along came 911 and the entire landscape changed. It’s taken 10 years to find our way back again.

      1. Maybe, but DESPITE the violent assholes. Not because of them. And while that the movement and acceptance of ideas has grown, the dellusions of some of the old left are still fringe ideas (old dead -isms). Black Bloc helps nobody. You also have to remember C. Giuliani helped.

        1. I don’t agree, but there we go. One NO, many YESses means we can take a variety of approaches. The non-violent approach has a role but I don’t believe in itself will ever change things.

  23. a FB precious comment
    Salvatore Iaconesi we’re deep in the process of analyzing what happened: – Rome, October 15th, the riots on social networks | [ AOS ] Art is Open Sourcewww.artisopensource.netA video showing an infovisualization of the riots that took place in Rome on Oct…See More22 hours ago · Like · Salvatore Iaconesi we techno-freaks did our own version of the protest from home, using various technologies. we *absolutely* need to imagine and create new forms of protests, which are not open to these dangers and which are able to use cities in drastically different ways… the most difficult part in this is, obviously, getting other people together: we have all the tools we need, we “only” need to overcome the micro/macro power structures that are inside movements22 hours ago · Like

  24. We have to rise up and surpass all the old ways of thinking if we are to make this revolution succeed. I’ll be damned if I give up the future to a bunch of pyromaniacs!  Fire makes a great spectacle, but we do not want a spectacle, we are sick enough of the one that is perpetrated upon us currently.  It is a time for bold new actions, new directions of course, ones that will set this society on the path towards freedom and harmony with all living things.  We must put aside our childish urges of destruction and instead, look forward to the promise of creation.

    1. The Black Bloc in Rome seeks to become the vanguard of the revolution, much like disobedient little brats needing a spanking at the family picnic. Let us scold them for their childish behavior and remind them that it is the adults who are in charge!

  25. i lived in Italy during anni di piombo, Milano and Roma
    i am not equalizing the blame between reds and blacks and i was and definitely  am a leftist today as then
    I was part of Movimento Studenstesco at Universita Statale di Milano
    Some right wing actions were planted by the “terror of state”, mafia police on the leftists, i agree
    but violence WAS a a Brigatte Rosse method too. And there were many discussions about the use of violence among leftists. After all these years, I have no illusions about how absurd and wrong that is. I lived through 90 days of “humanitarian bombings” in Belgrade. And you know what, it was pretty precise targeted and even politically correct. But it was HORRIBLE for us civilians, especially dissidents. It was NATO Violence…

  26. Just to point out that “a chi giova” pre-dates the 70s by a couple of millennia :)

    The “joy” of Italian culture is that it’s all been done before, and better that you’ll ever do.

  27. Photos of all the “violent militants” arrested for rioting show every one of them wearing the exact same brand/type of boots as all the police officers. Odd that.

  28. What will be the end of this crisis? The Bible says: “And [the king of the north = Russia] will go back (to) his land with great wealth [1945]; and his heart (will be) against the holy covenant [state atheism]; and will act [this means activity in the international arena]; and turned back to his own land [1991-1993. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact. Russian troops returned to their country]. At the appointed time [he] will return back.” (Daniel 11:28, 29a) Now Russia will return. It also means the economic and political earthquake; the disintegration of the European Union and NATO. Russian troops will return to the former Eastern Bloc countries. What will happen then? “And will enter into the south [Georgia], but it will not be as the former [1921] or as the latter [2008], for the dwellers of coastlands of Kittim [the West] will come against him, and he will be dejected, and will go back.” (Daniel 11:29b, 30a) It will be a nuclear war. (Revelation 6:4) As Jesus foretold, it will be “the beginning of birth pains”. (Mathew 24:7, 8)

  29. Every asshole thinks they’re right and that because they’re right they can hurt and kill in the name of their cause.  That’s how I know who the assholes are, and I don’t want to be on their side.  Because if they win then all we’ve got is another bunch of assholes running the show.

  30. I was at the demonstration so maybe I can offer some insight. At the beginning the energy was great. Lots of excitement, people felt energized, but the mood was bit dour as well. The day before Berlusconi had survived another no confidence vote. The demo was so massive–I heard that it was up to 700,00 people, though that seems a bit high. All I can say is that from where it started it took over three hours for all the people to enter into the march. When I began seeing the hooded black block infiltrate the crowd, I decided it was time to leave. However, the police had cordoned off the side streets, making it impossible for  anyone to exit the march. So we had to go backwards to get out of the demonstration. I took that as a very bad sign because it seemed to me that the police were forcing everyone into a pressure point. Sure enough, fifteen minutes after we exited all the burning started. Local articles have pieced together a confusing picture. The theory among friends is that this was a highly coordinated and well planed urban warfare strategy. Various kinds of projectiles were strategically placed and hidden at many points. There was a very large group (at least 100) that cut the demonstration in half at the precise point that the front group had arrived at march’s final destination. The police did not do very much at the beginning and let the rioters go about as they wished. Some claim that it was out of fear of being libel, as was the case in the aftermath of Genoa. The police officially say they held back out of concern for people’s safety. This, I find dubious, since when I tried to leave the police wouldn’t let me. There were also reports of “ultras” (soccer hooligans) entering into the fray. Many of the black block kids were quite young (minors) and from all over Italy. It was clear that they were well prepared and had tactics. Rumor has it that they were trained in Greece. What their goals were remain a mystery to me, because at the end of the day, the government and police are the victors: an opportunity to initiate a peaceful occupation was sabotaged and now the fascist mayor of Rome is calling for a suspension for all marches in the next month. This means that Fiat auto workers who were planning a big march are now prohibited. Jazmina asks the right question, a chi giova? My impression is that police and anarchists need each other the same way that Christians and satanists need each other. They define each others actions and reality. I suggest they go have it out in the Colosseum and let the rest of us organize something productive.

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