Interview with Marco Rizzo | A future for Italy

Author Patrizia Boi
She started as a novelist, author of short stories and fairy tales. She publishes also biographies, articles and interviews. She organizes cultural events and projects public works, taking care passionately of parks, cycle paths and railways.

The situation in Italy is delicate, due to the pandemic, the liberticidal policies of its ruling class, the economic conjuncture and the pressure of global elites. We try to understand more through this interview with Marco Rizzo ( ), general secretary of Partito Comunista (Communist Party ).

People are tired, of oppression, blackmailing and discrimination which Mario Draghi is pushing upon Italians. Are also political parties tired? What is your interpretation of their choice to keep Mattarella in charge as President of the Republic rather than appoint the well-known financier Draghi? How important is that role? Has Sergio Mattarella been a true guarantor of the Constitution?

The scene offered by main Italian parties in Parliament, during the election of the President of the Republic, is the lowest point of the political life of our Republic. Similar events can be found only back in the “shifting alliances” during the monarchic period.

We witnessed not only the “market of the votes”, the candidacy of absurd characters, but even the lack of control of parties’ leaderships on their MPs. The latter is not moved by a democratic spirit, but just by their blind personal interests.

In this empty political space, the international finance, in which Italy is not the main actor but not even a marginal character, can access as a knife in the butter. Political mediation is overtaken by the “survival of the fittest” and decisions are taken far away from democratic institutions. These are bad news for Italian people, as even the feeblest constitutional protections of the bourgeois system are crushed.

It has been said that the policy is being replaced by politics: the management comes before the political decision which are taken somewhere else. It is evident that there were external powers pushing for Draghi’s election, who will have soon to face the consequences of his bad government. The evidence is that the Partito Democratico, the biggest Nato and European Union supporter, was trying to obstacle Mattarella’s re-election proposing a change in constitution which would ban the re-election. The aim was to clear the path for Draghi’s election. After the muddling of the situation in the Parliament, they went back and pushed for Mattarella.

It is evident that the orders came from outside, ignoring what parties said and did until that moment.

Instead of resigning, parties’ leaderships rejoiced over victory. What kind of victory? Over their own dignity?

Centre-right wing was crushed. Centre-left wing is happy to serve the interests of the finance. The Movimento 5 Stelle loses again a chance, maybe the last, to show livelihood. We cannot know what Mattarella will do in next years. We hope he could oppose to this situation. Should he resign in 2 years this will open the doors to Draghi’s election. He may be keeping the chair warm for him.

What interpretation can we give to Giuliano Amato’s election as President of the Constitutional Court and Franco Frattini’s as President of State Council?

Amato’s election is a habit: the deputy succeeds to the President. I would not make a scandal out of it. Frattini’s election is more complex. Anyway they are both part of the establishment, and they are obviously not a threat for the real rulers of Italy.

Where will Italian Justice be led by Minister Cartabia’s reform proposal?

I am not a jurist and I do not venture analysing highly technical matters regarding legal system. As a politician I listen to the strong critics coming from Italian judges. As other emergencies, such as health and education system, the solution offered is always “politics” instead of “policy”, concentration in few hands instead of democratic empowerment serving the interest of the people.

The scene staged for the election of the President of the Republic and the so called “Government of the better” set off an unusual “wedding”: how is it possible that the Partito Democratico was the biggest supporter of the former Central European Bank President (Mario Draghi)? We remember the historical turning point of the “Bolognina” the 3rd of February 1991 when the proposal of Achille Occhetto, (supported among others by Massimo D’Alema, Walter Veltroni and Piero Fassino), led to the dissolution of the Partito Comunista Italiano and its transformation in Partito Democratico della Sinistra. What social class does the Partito Democratico represent now?

The only Democratic thing in that party is the abuse of the name. That party is the biggest supporter and servant of external interests. Both in economics politics and foreign politics is always on the USA side and against the interests of the wide majority of the Italian people. Its big influence in medias is the only thing which brings them votes. Its derivation from the historic Partito Comunista Italiano is completely non-existent. The “Democristian” heritage is way more important in that party and it is always claimed, on the contrary the Communist heritage has always been repudiated.

Marco Rizzo, Demonstration in the square

From the hammer and sickle to the oak (symbol of the Partito Democratico della Sinistra), where did the Republic founded on labour ended up?

The Republic “founded on labour” was generated by a compromise between different political powers and in some cases opposing each other. The strong push of Communists and Socialists managed to impose the best possible conditions in that given national and international context. Let us remember that at the moment of the proclamation of the Constitution, on the 1st of January 1948, the Partito Comunista Italiano and Partito Socialista Italiano had already been expelled 6 months before from the Government.

Having said that, the Constitution alone, even if noble, cannot be a bastion. What really makes history is the balance of power between social classes. This is the historic materialistic perspective expressed for the first time by Marx and Engels in their Communist Party Manifesto (1948). Absolutely current nowadays.

“Right, left. Stop!” was sung by Gaber in 1994, did they swap their roles today?

No, they did not. Nor in Italy neither in the rest of the world exists a nationalist right wing which defends the interests of the people. In similar situations in the past, Communists allied with those kind of political forces: for example, Mao in China or the CNL (National Liberation Committee) in Italy. Clearly always remaining loyal to Communist principles and postponing the reckoning after the liberation from the foreigner.

Today the nationalist right wing is a caricature. Berlusconi dragged Italy into a criminal war in Libya against its own national interests. Salvini abandoned any drive against European Union and today is in Draghi’s government. Meloni is not in the government but does not miss a chance to praise Draghi.

The Movimento 5 Stelle betrayed and abandoned all its demands, some of which agreeable, which led them to become the most voted party in Italy. Just to quote 2 examples: Di Maio moved from meeting the “Yellow Gilet” to praise Macron, from impeach Mattarella to support his re-election.

The problem is not the “swap” of the right with the left, quite something else! An unofficial Single Liberal Party was created, and all the puppets in it are indistinguishable.

What mistakes have been done to let this happen? What analysis can be done afterwards?

The biggest responsibility falls on us, the Communists. We gave up, piece by piece our ideology, our international position and even any class perspective.

Today the Partito Democratico is not even a social democratic party in its original meaning, that is a reformist party which still recognizes the border between working class and tycoons. Today the dominant ideology, the only ideology if it was not for the Communists, is the inter-classism that is the negation of social classes’ existence and of the class struggle. Today the workers are inculcated with the idea that they are self-made businessmen. We hear the words “human capital”, a heresy for a Marxist, we hear thhe praise of meritocracy, which is the opposite of the real merit. It is instead the selection of the most servant serve and not the best worker which conquers its dignity with his skills and awareness.

Nothing new, this is what bourgeoisie has always aimed to. They achieve it when Communists are weak or absent. Religious ideology, liberalism, fascism and so on, have all this in common: inter-classism, cancel the class struggle from the political scene.

That is why the duty of the Communists is to bring back their political and organisational ideology to climb out, together with the Italian working class, from the hole where we both fell.

Can we say that Partito Democratico’s leadership hates Russia maybe because Putin is resisting to globalism?

PD’s leadership hates who they are told to hate. I give you some examples: what is the need to go against the little but glorious Cuba, after they helped Italy sending Medical Brigades during pandemic? What is the need to provoke Russia, after Putin offered us all the gas supplies we need at pre-crisis prices? It is clear that they received orders from outside.

About the same topic, this week a video-conference was held between Russian president and a delegation of Italian businessmen. Participants’ feedbacks were positive but Italian government forbade ENI to take part in it. But not officially, government was not brave enough.

I do not want to comment Russian president’s personality. I think nobody cares. Better looking at facts. On a side Russia, China, Iran and most of the countries of world do not want war. Some for sincere humanism other for strategical interests, but that does not matter. On the other side there are the United States, in a deep crisis, where some sections of the ruling class, now prevailing, see war as a way out from it.

“Globalism” is a mask, a “false consciousness” as Marx said. The substance is instead: who wants war and who does not. Period.

Demonstration of the of the PC Youth against the “Alternanza scuola-lavoro” (work-school)

Who is today populating protests in Italian squares?

Italian protests and all Western world’s protests are attracting a bit of everything. Protests are expressing deep dissatisfaction for what I would define a crazy management of the pandemic, if only I were not convinced that there are plans behind to militarise society foreseeing future wars and international tensions. I feel awkward in thinking that someone will give up his salary for refusing a vaccine. I strongly respect him morally, together with dismay for the complete wrong choice of the target to rebel against. The same for people setting themselves on fire for protest, I tell them: if you are ready for such a huge sacrifice, let us do it for a higher cause, for a long lasting solution. Let us aim to the real target’ let us go to the root of the problem to find a long lasting solution. If all of a sudden pandemic restrictions were lifted, would Italy’s problems be resolved? I do not think so. Marxism teaches us to distinguish essential issues from marginal issues, to identify the root of the problems and the main enemy. That enemy is not the vaccine but Capital. I whisper it with respect but this is the limit I recognise in those movements.

How are the new emarginated masses living the growing automation of production, which instead of making our jobs easier, it is deprivation us from labour and rights?

This topic is out piece de resistance to explain capitalistic madness. In the past, misery derived from scarcity: famine, wars, plague. Now misery comes from the substitution of workers with technology, labour with capital. Marx already wrote everything which needs to be said on this topic. The wealth for very few, comes from pandemic and wars. Capitalism is not ill, it is the disease.

Citizen Kane, 1941, film

In between the “excluded” people, we can nowadays also count the independent journalists which are often censored: how has the role of the “4th power” evolved in recent times?

What we are currently experiencing is nothing new. When has ever media been free? Since the ancient times, power has always bent the information according to its needs. Who was not aligned was executed.

A great exception arose during the great season of leftist press during the first years of the Partito Comunista Italiano, when the commitment of its militants could face costs of distribution, fascist and then democristian censorship and repression. Clearly bourgeoisie’s press tried to over compete that kind of press on the same terrain. Of course proper journalists did exist and still do exist but they struggle against the boards of the media they work for what they can and cannot report. Anyway the afore mentioned exception has been now “normalized”.

Television changed the game. Political struggle moved to level where the “homemade” militant activity could not compete with the industrially manufactured information. This period coincides with the ideological and organizational decline of the Partito Comunista Italiano. We could add it to the concurrent causes.

Internet has changed the game even more dramatically. One can find online everything and its opposite. The problem is no longer to produce the information but actually reach a significant number of recipients. This causes a big “infodemic”, which is the overproduction of news. This stops the spread of certain news as it is nearly impossible for the vast majority of the population to orientate in the ocean of news because of lack of time and skills.

Adding that centralised algorithms and checkers in the social media are able to direct the spread of the information, we have a clear picture of nowadays situation. Censorship is no longer realised by cancelling the information but mainly making impossible to reach it. Clearly when that is not enough they go ahead with blocks and cancellations.

Twitter’s ban of Trump during election campaign is emblematic. Big internet companies can stop even US President.

Summing up, today’s censorship is mostly created by sinking the news in an ocean of fake news and nonsense which internet users contribute to create and spread. A perfect system where we harm ourselves. As the Holy Inquisition’s time, witches were brought to the stake not by authorities by the people themselves.

In China some experiments are being carried on to replace anchor men with holograms, what will happen to the journalists? Holograms and cyborgs do not need to eat, rest and be paid. They can work 24 hours 7 on 7 and cannot contradict. What will happen to the truth?

I would not dramatize, what is the difference between a hologram and a human who cannot decide on what how report?

If automation enables us to work less and better, then it is welcome. If it enslaves a minority and expels from work a majority than it is a disaster. But it is not technology’s fault. The problem is not solved by destroying technology but destroying Capitalism and replacing it with a more human and efficient system. We call it Socialism.

What happened to trade unions? What happened to CGIL (the biggest Italian trade union)?

It is sad answering this question and thinking where “my” CGIL ended up. Let us not even mention the other trade unions. Seeing the data, CGIL is now mostly a trade union of retired, a service provider. Trade unions should be something else. It is only in the class struggle that workers can gain back their trade unions and their own main role in society.

When we target the trade unions’ leaderships, we are appealing to the many workers of the trade unions to oppose to them. I doubt we will be able to revert the situation with the CGIL but the attempt itself is at least something.

Landini (CGIL’s general secretary) under the arm of Draghi, Cofferati (former CGIL’s secretary) who became Bologna’s mayor turning down the protests of the millions of workers protesting against the cancellation of Article 18 (which protected workers from illicit firing). But maybe the beginning of the end started back with Lama and the cancellation of the “escalator” (a mechanism which linked the salaries to the inflation rate). Where is the “left wing intelligentsia” hiding? That intelligentsia which used Pasolini for self-suggestion and now are fuelling discriminations? They used to talk as rebels and now became Pfizer’s sponsors. Did philosophers, actors, writers all got sucked into the mainstream point of view? As we said before the hearth of the matter is ideology. If you lose that you lost the compass.
Some intellectuals joined PCI just to booster their own career. PCI wanted them just to be associated some “famous names”. But most of them were anti-communist. I will not repeat that mistake.

Antonio Gramsci, the founder of the Communist Party

What would Gramsci and Berlinguer say if they resurrected (both of them former secretary of PCI in different times and with different results)?

Gramsci maybe: “I am convinced that even when everything seems lost, one has to calmly restart from the beginning”

I need a premise about Berlinguer: we criticized his vision and work, from the “historical compromise” to the “NATO umbrella”, through the choice of the leaders. Berlinguer was not anyway a “social-democrat” in the negative meaning of that time, which was someone who abandoned the aim of Socialism. It is just that his path to reach it, according to us, was completely wrong. As Togliatti (another PCI secretary) self-critiqued some of his own decisions in his late life “Yalta’s memoires”, maybe the late Belinguer realised he brought the party into a cul de sac.

I choose then this sentence: “There cannot be invention, fantasy nor creation of something new if one buries himself, his own history and reality” quoting him from La Rinascita.

What can we expect from the future seeing the rising tension between Russia and Ukraine, or better Russia and NATO?

International situation is dramatically clear. On a side an aggressive power which pulls its allies towards war to solve its own economic problems. On the other side the wide majority of nations and all the people which do not want war and have no interests in it. We are not in the same situation before WW1 when all the powerful nations wanted war, we are closer to the WW2 scenario where some wanted war and some did not. But unfortunately there was not a strong stand for peace due to opportunism of so called “western democratic countries”.

What can we do? What can you do as political leader to unite the people around a project of new humanity and solidarity?

As Communists we need to do what we have always been doing: study, organise, fight. Give an historical and concrete vision to workers, conveying them the belief that history is not over and can still be done. The difference between a Communist and a Democrat s that the first sets way higher and durable targets while maintaining a very concrete and humble vision of the reality

Translation: Federation branch of the Communist Party,