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L'Onda, eh, the Wave, that's what they're calling it?

Huh!  I am so glad I found this site.  Three weeks ago I was an American tourist in Italy for the first time.  When I got to Florence I see all these protests (what, 50,000 people in the streets at 10:00 on a Monday night - what the hell is this?)  Followed by "Occupation" banners flying from every school window, classes in the Piazzas over the next few days?

I don't speak Italian but I eventually learned from various English-speaking protesters that these were protests against the Berlusconi government's draconian cutbacks to the education budget.  I started buying Italian newspapers which I couldn't really read but could pick out the occasional word or phrase from and learned some things.

But I could never get a clear sense of where this thing was headed.  Upon returning home I looked for Internet info and couldn't find any in English.  (Presidential election sucks oxygen out of everything else, I suppose).  I started going to www.repubblica.it and running their stories through Google's miserable Italian translator.  Better than nothing, I suppose, and learned of the continuing growth of these protests.

I'd be very interested in following this further and would appreciate any further posts here, as well as links in English to material elsewhere.  

This is a very significant story and no one in America knows a damned thing about it.

I have put together a little web page with some pictures I took last month of these events, that mostly reflects my impatient confusion, but you may find it interesting.

by sTiVo on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 05:13:10 PM EST
welcome to ET, sTiVo, i'm glad you found us.

it is thoroughly mindblowing to see italy 'getting up off its knees' (to cop one from berlusconi!).

if you click on de Gondi's name, you will come to his diary page, with several excellent diaries on italy.

hope you will feel like sticking around and telling us about what interests you, hopefully we will all be celebrating heartily the sea change in usa politics pretty soon!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 07:34:37 PM EST
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Thanks, melo, that is the question I'd like to know the answer to.

Is this changing Italian politics and if so, how?  Less than a month ago, an Italian Bed & Breakfast owner who had grown up in America told us, "Everyone likes Berlusconi but the extreme left".  Odd fellow, he hated Bush but loved Berlusconi.  I knew at that time nothing that would give me reason to doubt him.  But a few days later, it sure didn't seem that way it to me.

Anyway, nice to find this place.

by sTiVo on Mon Nov 3rd, 2008 at 10:34:32 PM EST
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Welcome to ET, sTiVo!
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 02:50:55 AM EST
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The word inexplicable does come to mind when thinking of an electorate who can stay in love with Bush or Berlusconi for so long. But it is 'xplicable' though, since this raping of the system happened in California in the beginning of Reagan's Reign of Terror and in europe before as de Gondi describes...

I can only think that the avarice of the über rich make them so very afraid, and their solution is to eliminate potential threats. Step One: Pushing the feet from under the middle classes...take away the quality schooling, through more into wars, create the need for debt, loan the money and suck interest on the money you loaned to make more bombs.

Great to see your shots of the students. Fills one with hope, it does.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 03:06:55 PM EST
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siegestate:
I can only think that the avarice of the über rich make them so very afraid, and their solution is to eliminate potential threats. Step One: Pushing the feet from under the middle classes...take away the quality schooling, through more into wars, create the need for debt, loan the money and suck interest on the money you loaned to make more bombs.

fear >> avarice >> more fear >> more avarice

how to break this cycle in mens' minds?
you are totally correct about eviscerating the educational system to create a populus deprived of the tools to think critically, and ignorant of the lessons of history, the better to manipulate.

the students' calmness and good behaviour, plus the hope in every italian family that their childrens' education was the only way forward through the shark-invested waters of employment, where nepotism and cronyism have blocked meritocracy for so long in italy.

these are not antisocial dropouts, or anarchist crazies, these are bravi ragazzi, good kids, their parents' pride and hope, merely asking unpolemically to be left the right to a good education, something dear to everyones' hearts, in an increasingly competitive world where ignorance is the most cardinal (and mortal) sin left.

the sheer revolting devilry of berlusconi is on full display here, while a few days ago he was boasting about being able to 'keep it up' all night long better than younger men.

if anything can help a deluded public see through this evil corporatist's machinations, seeing normal, well-behaved, aspiring young people who don't want to settle for factory slavery (with an average of 4 people dying a day due to sloppy practices and lack of regulation enforcement) or pride-killing unemployment limbo as a future, with organised crime offering better career advancement than hard work and dedication, which is all therse students are asking for.

cossiga's recent outburst drew attention to the entrenched 'casta's' outlook and old strategy, double-daring berlusconi to strip mine his political capital by sending in the gestapo and breaking heads, the heads of the country's children, themselves just trying to do what all young people all over the world are trying to do, follow their elders' advice and learn about the world.

it is very revealing how many people are sheltering and feeding the students on their long, risky vigils.

 public opinion, with the exception of the usual fruitbat suspects, could not be more solidly on the side of the students.

it is also highly relevant that the american media is avoiding this story.

between barack's election and these demonstrations in rome, i'm daring to hope more...

you can't fool all the people all the time for ever, and now is as good a time as any for a massive sea-change in global politics.

barack knows it, these students want to be part of it, all over the world people will continue to take heart at these manifestations of the best in humanity, and live their own lives with more permission to dream a future all can belong to and find a good place within.

you can delay human consciousness, but like a mushroom breaking up through cement, it can never be entirely denied, it will find a way.

today is a new dawn, i thought as i watched the sun come up, after a long night watching news with a loved one, many tears of joy shed together, exhausted, but exhilarated,

yes we can...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Nov 5th, 2008 at 02:37:55 AM EST
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>>it is very revealing how many people are sheltering and feeding the students on their long, risky vigils.

Can you describe the risks?  When I was there, this did not appear to be a high-risk activity.  Has the situation changed?

by sTiVo on Wed Nov 5th, 2008 at 03:13:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well, going from my experience protesting the runup to the iraq war in rome, there is not much support to handle that many people coming in from outside the city, food and water-wise.

as for risk of violence, it is real, unfortunately, though so far the police have seemed to be holding back in that regard.

these students are taking a major risk, because they could easily be black-flagged by some rightist phalange, which would create violence to then justify busting heads.

the other risk is that the police reieve orders similar to the leaked letter from cossiga the other day, which revealed the nasty intentions the powers that be have not hesitated to resort to before.

i believe that it is only the fact that the public is behind the students' demands for educational quality that has held back the squelching of this protest by vile means, it will cause berlusconi to lose a lot of face either way, whether the ministry has to rewrite the law, or whether he has to turn uniformed thugs onto adolescents.

he's in a tough spot, and fully deserves it, as italian education was badly in need of constructive reform, and investment, not gutting. he was also sneaky about how he slid it through, typically...

if you don't already, you can learn quite a lot from www.beppegrillo.com, which is in english!
i'd like to second de G's comment about your blogging about italy, thanks!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Nov 5th, 2008 at 04:19:28 PM EST
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A great welcome aboard here! The Italian school movement has been discussed in the salon. Jerome put up a discussion the other day to which I added some comments. I'll be glad to answer any questions as best as I can.

Your site is great and I recommend that everybody have a look. I'm really heartened that you took an interest in the movement despite the language barrier and put up a site!

The movement continues and has effectively blocked the government, mostly over its short sighted terror of not being loved by the majority of Italian citizens. This morning la Repubblica has published a copy of the bill "Gelmini" was going to introduce these days- once again with the decree mechanism, a legal loop-hole that allows a government to legislate on the pretext of "emergency" without any serious parliamentary discussion.  Shoving improvised measures through parliament without discussion and insulting academia with pithy remarks and slogans might work in a Berlusconi's reality shows but in real life. It's this stark contrast between the government's televised power and the rest of us- especially those who refuse spectator politics- that gives this strong sense of life, I would even hesitate to say an irruption of bios onto the political scene. It's symbolic that a large sized Pinocchio was used in the fighting in Piazza Navona. To see a broken Pinocchio lying among the upturned chairs sums up what is happening. Pinocchio, the wooden marionette who became a boy.

Often they say that Berlusconi is like Pinocchio because of his compulsive necessity to lie. Berlusconi is far more like l'omino bianco the smiling master driving his coach of asses who takes children to vicariously participate in his gah-gah land of showgirls and hustlers. As he smiles he calmly walks over and bites the ear off a crying donkey. De Tocqueville dreamed of this smiling monster 150 years ago, the dreaded side of democracy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 05:14:57 AM EST
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