Most of the marchers identified with the symbols of socialism marching under red flags. Cobas, the most militant rank and file trade unionists, whose walkouts helped push the larger CGIL and other trade union federations into calling the general strike, was prominent. Around 7 thousand assembled under the banner of Sin.Cobas, militants who are organising across different sectors of the unions.Rifondazione Comunista was also prominent. The march represents another milestone in the fast running process of Italian politics. In the build up to Saturdays demo numerous discussions and forums have taken place.
Sin.Cobas held discussions on the fight against privatisation and Tobin Tax and also tactics for the next general strike which has been called for after the Summer holidays.
The debates were indicative of the way Left politics in Italy is developing. On the one hand Cofferati the most prominent national left figure, who is due to retire his leadership of the CGIL, is under pressure to challenge for the leadership of the DS (Democrats of the Left). Many believe that he can unite the left. Cofferati however fails to draw socialist conclusions and his past period of leadership of the CGIL has not been without blemishes. If he was to be elected leader however, it would be seen as a big shift to the left. On the other hand the Social Forums and a wide layer of youth have become anti-party. They have developed into a ’movement of movements’ linking single issue campaigns through the Social Forums.They are opposed to a defining ideology and while they welcome political parties into the debates they lack an organisational cohesiveness. At its recent youth conference the leadership of the Rifondazione Comunista moved the party far closer to the political position of the social forums as a way forward for itself. Despite mass support neither Cofferati or the ’movements of movements’ can bring about lasting change or a solution to the problems facing Italian workers. None of the leadership of the left are raising questions of ownership and control of industry or socialist ideas.
’Lotto per il socialismo’ , the Italian group of the CWI, and other CWI members intervened into the marches and the discussions throughout the days of protest. 54 copies of our broadsheet were sold and 2,000 leaflets distributed.
The class struggle in Italy has intensified over the last year. The Genova demonstration is a reflection of the confidence of the Italian working class. Its revolutionary traditions were expressed on the march with tens of thousands singing socialist songs ’Bandiera Rosa’ and ’Bela Ciao’. Their struggle is an inspiration to workers across the world (and not a whiff of tear gas anywhere).