by Jerome a Paris
Fri Oct 31st, 2008 at 06:25:08 PM EST
Yesterday [30 October], Fran posted in the Salon a BBC article on demonstrations in Rome against a school reform:
School pupils, university students and teachers have staged demonstrations across Italy against a school reform law just passed by parliament.
In Rome's Piazza Navona, a popular tourist spot, several people were lightly injured in a clash between left- and right-wing students.
The reform package is expected to cut the education budget.
In primary schools there will be just one all-purpose teacher per class and a grade system for pupils' behaviour.
ET member de Gondi posted some on the ground accounts and analysis which are rather more descriptive and enlightening, and which I copy here in full:
The issues of a one-purpose teacher and such is a facade for TV chat.
The law is essentially a massive budget cut which will bankrupt many educational institutions, eliminate what little research still goes on in Italy and put thousands of teachers and researchers out of a job. The law also will privatize many universities.
As a scam we can expect the same thing that happened with government property which was sold off by the previous Berlusconi government, often through a post office box in Copenhagen. The Carlyle group at the time made a killing in buying up dirt cheap prestigious real estate.
There are quite a few photos of the fascist attack in Piazza Navona on internet. Some students reacted in defence while many panicked and fled into the streets. The police- as well as most of the student group leaders- did a good job of bringing back the calm. The fascist managed to devastate the Navona Bar and the newspaper kiosk near by. The police managed to isolate the fascists and detain them. As of last night two or three of them have had their arrests confirmed.
The students are organized in relatively small groups of no more than a few hundred. Each group has a "leader" or who gives instructions and is responsible for the discipline of the group. These "representatives" coordinate their actions with the other groups and negotiate with the police on what can be done or not.
After the fascist attack I witnessed a heated discussion in which one of the "representatives" was chastised for having made alarming statements to his group about the attack. A plain clothed police officer also intervened to explain how to keep the groups calm. And negotiate on where the students could proceed.
Some of the groups are very young "scuola media"- about 12-14 years old.
In Rome the police forces have been highly cooperative with the students. This is all the more so considering the tactics and general strategy of the protestors. Demonstrations within the city are touch-and-go events thanks to the net and wireless communications. This is an internet generation that uses the network to the hilt. Within a few minutes hundreds of students will suddenly appear as if out of no where anywhere within the city and demonstrate. It's not as in the past when demonstrations consisted of linear parades that march from a fixed point to another. The students converge from everywhere and often number up to ten thousand if not more. It's understandable that the law forces have a hard time keeping track of what's going on. At the same time there is a strict policy on the students' part to be non-violent and prevent any attempts by violent elements to exploit the situation- as Cossiga and many government authorities might wish. It's appropriate that the fascists in Piazza Navona were there to "defend" the Gelmini law. Fortunately, they're so damned stupid that made an eloquent point of exactly what berlusconismo is all about.
Generally the Rome population sides with the students despite the fact that they are capable of creating chaos- calm chaos, to cite Moretti's recent film- wherever they arrive. Especially with the traffic. The students have taken back the city and filled it with life. Perhaps it's the revolt against a celluloid reality that made Berlusconi's fortune. There is something "biological" about the whole movement as if it were droves of starlings that pirouette and dance in the Roman sky, descending on Roman plazas in a climax of song. It disorients the TV format and exposes how superficial and poor television is with its sets and stages and cheap newsbites. It's the web as an instrument of vitality, life. It's a new generation. Gelmini and Silvio are old. Very old.
Later de Gondi added an update:
According to a report by Curzio Maltese of la Repubblica who was in Piazza Navona, the dynamics of the clash were worse. (I was at Sant'Andrea della Valle, just off Piazza Navona and only saw the kids fleeing.)
According to him the police did not intervene for over five minutes. The fascists- approximately sixty in all- first attacked the youngest children, no more than 14 years old, with clubs. The crowd berated the police for not intervening to protect them. After several attacks militant leftists from the "occupied social forums" intervened against the fascists. An isolated group of fascists was allowed to escape through the police barrier. Maltese who was pursueing them was blocked by the police. The police finally broke up the fight and hauled the remaining fascists away.
The student movements consider the provocation and the tardiness of the police to intervene as a deliberate design to smear the movement as violent.
Senator Cossiga was called to account as he left Palazzo Madama, "Is this what you wanted, Senator?"
As for those us who were outside the Piazza the panicking children did create tension but was calmed by the prompt and responsible response of the student "coordinators" with the collaboration of the police. Apparently the fascist had hoped that their violence would spill out and cause rioting throughout the area. The movement has been ever to conscious of this eventuality and has apparently constantly warned against it.
As for today the city has been totally invaded by one of the most imposing demonstrations I have witnessed in years, more than Veltroni's demonstration last Saturday- and a lot more creative.
It's deeply gratifying to see such a mass expression of Italian brain power in what is otherwise a cheap pornocratic freak show.