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"