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The super-democratic Italian bourgeois state with “the most perfect constitution in the world” has no problem letting those who defy its established order rot in prison. One example is the case of the anarchists Alfredo Cospito and Anna Beniamino
Alfredo Cospito and Anna Beniamino, two anarchists accused of planting two low-intensity explosive devices near the former Carabinieri cadet school in Fossano (Cuneo province) in 2005, have been in prison for ten years. Their action was entirely demonstrative; it was carried out in the middle of the night and was not intended to injure or even kill anyone or cause any particular damage to the building. In the trial, which took place in Turin, Alfredo was sentenced to life imprisonment and imprisoned in Bancali (Sassari) prison and Anna to 27 years and one month in Rebibbia prison.
From 5 May 2022, Alfredo was transferred to hard regime prison (according to the article referred to as “41-bis”, which is usually applied to mafia members who have committed mass murder), against which a complaint was lodged. But in July 2022, “the offence was reworded to ‘mass murder directed against the state’ (previously it was ‘terrorist intent’), the most serious offence in our legal system, which provides for the possibility of life imprisonment even in the absence of victims”, an offence which also provides for life imprisonment with no review, i.e. a “never-ending sentence”! (1). Against this factual judicial frenzy, Alfredo Cospito has been on hunger strike for more than two months; and since 7 November, Anna Beniamino has also been on hunger strike in solidarity (on 9 December, her lawyer, Caterina Calia, declared after meeting her that “she is now bone and skin”), and even so, in further protest, she has refused hospitalisation (2).
Alfredo Cospito is the first anarchist to be convicted under the 41-bis article without killing anyone. In this case, too, the state’s vengeance against those who dare to demonstrate violently against oppression and violence, direct and indirect, on the part of its forces of order is evident (just remember the very long line of demonstrators killed, beaten, tortured and ill-treated, from the Portella delle Ginestre on 1 May 1947 to June–July 1960, the G8 in Genoa in 2001 to Stefano Cucchi in 2009).
In solidarity with Alfredo and Anna, several anarchist demonstrations were held: on 5 December in Turin, the day of the appeal hearing at which the Attorney General’s Office again demanded life imprisonment and the imposition of 12 months’ solitary confinement; on 19 December in Turin. On 19 December in Cagliari, when the Cagliari supervisory court upheld the harsh prison regime for Alfredo Cospit; and again on 29 December in Milan, where an unauthorised demonstration was held, but attended by 400 people belonging not only to anarchists but also to various trade union and social groups.
But can the bourgeois state – which in its hundred and sixty years of life has never been able to vanquish corruption, deviance and violence in its apparatuses, abuse of power, organised crime, and which always finds a way, how to turn criminals into honourable persons, in the case of billionaires or powerful politicians – to systematically apply those glorious principles of “equality” that it flaunts from the left and the right, those glorious principles that are the basis of civil and human rights and that proclaim that “all are equal” before its laws? Of course not! In concrete terms, it turns out that nothing can be expected from the state and its institutions other than the defence of the interests of the bourgeois ruling class; and this defence presupposes that the protection of the general interests of the ruling class will from time to time necessitate that members of the institutions be investigated, tried and convicted if they are caught in the act, but above all that members of the proletarian class who deviate by a hair’s breadth from the sacred laws of the State be systematically punished and thrown into prison cells.
At a time like the present, when the ruling bourgeois class is tightening its social grip to the point where it is able to cope with international competition and the crisis of overproduction into which cyclically wealthy capitalist countries are sinking once again, without also having to face the severe social tensions that the deteriorating living conditions of large parts of the population inevitably provoke; at a time when the ruling bourgeois class, in order to defend its profits, has to attack ever more severely the living conditions of large sections of the proletariat, it is only natural that it adopts particularly harsh measures against those who not only do not submit to the established order, but who rebel and could be an example to many others. At a time such as the recent one, when the Sars-CoV2 pandemic has been used as an excuse to further lock up the population and, in particular, the proletariat – through lockdowns, compulsory masks, green passes and vaccinations, to the extent that all workers who refused to be vaccinated were excluded from work and deprived of pay – while at the same time being forced to submit to the exigencies of production, even if the working environment was not healthy; thus, at a time when the bourgeoisie fears that the deteriorating living conditions of the broad masses will trigger sudden social explosions, the government that took office a little more than two months ago – in complete continuity with previous governments – has taken up the task of intervening in all those social phenomena that until now might have seemed insufficiently under control. The blow has been dealt to the mass of unemployed people who were granted a “citizens’ income” (guaranteed minimum income) by previous governments, to the mass of migrants who, fleeing war, repression and extreme poverty, have managed to enter Italian territory – provided they have not died at sea, when crossing the desert or from hunger and cold in the mountains on the borders with other countries – and to socio-political groups such as the anarchists who have made things unpleasant for the police in Val di Susa and in some towns for a long time. At the same time, the economic pressure is also affecting categories of workers considered to be most exposed to potential social tensions, such as those in the health and public education sectors, and is expected to affect also the public transport sector, while workers in these sectors, who are normally in contact with all social strata of the population, will serve as enforcers of the regulations imposed by government measures. It is no coincidence that many newspapers are talking about the government’s manoeuvres, which will bring tears and blood…
What is the merit, then, of imposing on an anarchist such as Alfredo Cospito, who dared to declare himself responsible for the demonstrative action for which he is being held responsible, and who highlighted this stance as a “matter of honour” (3 ), the highest and most severe punishment that the current penal system provides for, such as life imprisonment, even though the two explosive devices caused neither death, nor injury, nor serious damage? This means that not only is there a risk that acts of this kind will be regarded as ”mass murder against state security”, but that many other demonstrative acts of struggle against state repression may in the future be regarded as crimes against state security.
Revolutionary communists are a world away from the anarchist conception of state and society, and their conception of class and revolutionary struggle is quite different from the individualistic and illusory conceptions that underlie the anarchist ideology of the use of violence. History has amply demonstrated that the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat is not carried out through conspiratorial groups that take up the task of “awakening consciousness” to the highest political goals, but through a long process of preparation of the proletarian masses for a resistance struggle against capital, the defence of its own conditions of resistance on the economic and immediate terrain, and by the same long and patient work of class and revolutionary preparation on the part of the revolutionary communist party in the ranks of the proletarians, as, for example, the Bolshevik party under Lenin did at that time in Russia, a country economically and socially much more backward than the western capitalist countries.
In spite of this, credit must be given to anarchists such as Alfredo and Anna, to whom we express our solidarity, for having the courage and even the honour not to hide their actions and to declare them in the face of the bourgeois enemy, even though they knew full well that they were risking the slow and systematic torture that isolation and decades of imprisonment represent. And it is necessary, on the other hand, to highlight the vengeful and wicked attitude of the state, which – in the service of a class born of and that bases itself on the oppression of the majority of its much-loved “citizens” at home and in economically less powerful countries, in the service of a class that has in its DNA a contempt for the lives of workers and the massacres of its wars – does not hesitate to use any means of repression with the sole aim of maintaining capitalist power over society. Indeed, the bourgeoisie is never moved by the deaths and injuries caused by attacks; it has demonstrated this a thousand times, such as when it was made to face the victims of the anarchist bombing in Milan’s Kursaal Diana in 1921, or the 1980 massacre in Bologna at the hands of the fascists: the usual theatrics against “terrorism” are always accompanied by propaganda for the defence of civil coexistence and social peace, behind which lies the real bourgeois interest, valid yesterday, today and tomorrow, and that is the pursuit of profit, for which “the bourgeoisie, instead of disappearing from history, demands the general ruination of human society” (4).
The proletariat, which today still succumbs to the illusions of democracy, peaceful class coexistence and national unity, has a task in history that no other social class has had: to put an end to the class division of society, to revolutionarily subvert bourgeois society from top to bottom by destroying its political power and its economy based exclusively on trade and the exploitation of man by man; thus to transform production for the market into production for the necessities of life of Man. This classless society, which for more than two hundred years we have called communism and which we like to call the community of the human species, will only be arrived at through the proletarian and communist revolution, on the international level and under the direction of the revolutionary communist party. Historically, the first examples of this revolution were the Paris Commune in 1871 and the Russian Revolution in 1917; at that time the European and American proletariat did not prove ready for the international revolution because, although the communist party existed, it was not yet solid and strong enough internationally to ensure the victory for the revolution on the world scale.
History does not obey the will of either conspiratorial groups or revolutionary parties. Objective factors (the economic and political development of the society and the development of the independent proletarian movement) and subjective factors (the development of the class party) must both be present and acting at some point. Just as the bourgeois class from the first historical examples of capitalism in 15th century Italy and then in 17th century England had to come to the end of the 18th century in France to compel its historic revolutionary “leap” from feudalism to capitalism, so too the proletarian class will have to reorganize itself – despite the defeats it has accumulated in its 175 years of existence as social and political class, but from which it has drawn all the necessary historical lessons – independently of the bourgeois apparatus, by recognising itself as class with its own particular task in history, which it does not and cannot share with any other class. This historical task is in fact represented by the class party, the revolutionary communist party, and has been since Marx and Engels’ “Communist Manifesto” of 1848. Therefore, it is the communist party which “awaits” the class maturation of the proletariat and which has the task of preparing the vanguards in the meantime, and not the other way round; indeed, history has shown that if the proletariat moves to the revolutionary field while the class party is not prepared to lead it to the revolutionary conquest of political power – as happened in 1919-1920 in economically developed Germany – in that case the proletarian revolution will not triumph on the international scale.
The path that proletarians, conscious of the historical tasks of their class, must take is not one of individual and vaguely devised violence in the false conviction that “it is enough to set the example” in order to awaken “consciousness”. The path forward is the struggle to reconquer the class terrain, in which the demands of the workers are not dependent on the “possibility or impossibility” of the capitalists or the state to satisfy them, and which are not shared with the bosses, the companies or the state, because the interest of capital is to exploit wage labour as much as possible and for as long as possible: this is where the “economic growth” and the labour productivity so much loved by governments and capitalists lies.
As in the past, it will be the objective forces of the contradictions of capitalism that will push the proletarian masses to confront the organised forces of the bourgeois state and the forces of opportunism and inter-class collaborationism that support it, and to attempt to defend themselves even at the primary levels of class organisation on the ground of immediate struggle. This struggle will be extremely hard, because the bourgeois class will leave no stone unturned to hold on to power, and no individualist, adventurist shortcut or the one represented by the ideology of armed struggle will be able to accelerate this historical process of the maturation of the class struggle. The contradictory material factors that capitalism is constantly developing are the basis of class antagonisms, and therefore of the struggle between classes: the bourgeois ruling class knows this well on the basis of historical experience and never stops working to ensure that the historical encounter with the proletarian revolution takes place as late as possible. But as we have said, the history of the development of the productive forces and the class struggle cannot have its course dictated either by subversive groups or by the bourgeois ruling class. As in 1871 and 1917, the proletarian revolution will inevitably surprise the bourgeois ruling class with its unstoppable force. What must not be lacking is the leadership of the revolutionary communist party, the party which cannot be born in the revolution itself, but will have to be present and active long before it. It is this party that we are fighting for and that we have been defending for a long time.
In 1848, faced with the revolutionary attempts of the proletariat in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Milan, Prague, and the counter-revolutionary reaction of absolutism and the bourgeoisie united against the proletariat, Marx wrote: “We have never concealed the fact that ours is not a legal basis, but a revolutionary basis. Now the Government for its part has abandond the false pretence of a legal basis. It has taken its stand on a revolutionary basis, for the counter-revolutionary basis, too, is revolutionary.” (5).
And so, as in 1919-1920 in the face of fascism, the moment will come again when the bourgeois government, in the face of the proletariat moving on the terrain of class and revolutionary struggle, will abandon the hypocrisy of the terrain of legal means and will openly act on the terrain of counter-revolutionary violence; the counter-revolutionary terrain is dialectically also the revolutionary terrain. Today, we are still in the midst of a long period of severe depression of the proletarian class movement, but the factors of the crisis of capitalism are objectively working on ways out of the general crisis of capitalism through the future outbreak of war, that is, also on the objective outbreak of the class struggle, but in the environment of preventive counterrevolution. This is the setting on which the class party must emerge and be strengthened, and it does not matter whether it is represented by a handful of militants, since what is essential and necessary is the theoretical-programmatic continuity with Marxism, which will render possible – when the class proletarian movement regains its feet and reorganises itself on the terrain of its class independence – close contact between the class party and the proletarian masses, who will find in it their leadership, as they found it in Lenin’s Bolshevik Party, not only in Russia but throughout the world.
(1) Cf. https://www.rainews.it/ articoli/2022/ 12/ alfredo-cospito- ricorso-in- cassazione-entro- 41-bis- dda1bed1- 5f87- 4285-b704- 3a01b2cac90.html - e https://www. milanotoday.it/ cronaca/ manifestazione- anarchica- alfredo.html of 29 December 2022.
(2) Cf. https:// torino.correire.it/ notizie/ cronaca/ 22_dicembre_09/ processo-agli -anarchici-anna- beniamino- rifiuta- il-ricovero- e-in-sciopero- della-fame- da-un-mese- 2e3a4d37-88ac -457b-a35f- 793931fc3xlk .shtml.
(3) Cf. https:// www.radiondadurto.org/ 2022/12/05/ torino-giornata-di-lotta-contro-il- carcere- e-solidarietà- ad-alfredo- cospito-e -anna-beniamino.
(4) Cf. “Per i funerali delle vittime del ‘Diana’”, in “Il Comunista”, 30 March 1921, in “Manifesti ed altri documenti politici, 21 gennaio-31 dicembre 1921”, of Partito Comunista d’Italia, Reprint Feltrinelli .
(5) Cf. Marx K., The Bourgeoisie and the Counter-Revolution (“Neue Rheinische Zeitung”, n. 165 of December 10, 1848), Marx & Engels, Collected Works, Vol 8, Lawrence & Wishart, 2010
December, 30th 2022
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