More than 100.000 people rallied on the 16th of November in the heart of Naples. Men and women, citizens, committees rose up against the twenty-years period of environmental devastation of Campania region, that is against biocide.
We face twenty years of agreements between State and camorra; twenty years in which local institutions have been committed to ad hoc corrupted commissioners appointed by government in order to foster and protect the profits of those who have exploited our life and territories; twenty years of emergency laws; twenty years in which the army acted as red herring while judges prosecuted the activists who fought against corruption and for environmental justice. Twenty years of legal and illegal dumps, incinerators, toxic waste burying with the connivance of local and North-of-Italy enterprises. Twenty years in which someone decided that our land had to be transformed in the largest open dump of Europe, regardless to the tremendous amount of cancers spotted in the area. But, on the other hand, also twenty years of active resistance. The long-term period of waste crisis has been, indeed, a period of struggles for environmental justice, long-standing popular committees, demonstrations, occupations, counter-information and grass-root surveys aimed at counteracting the corruption of mainstream media.
In these twenty years the active resistance of committees produced a large network of relations, solidarity and mutualism, showing that the “nimby” syndrome is nothing but an instrumental charge aimed at defending those who exploit our land for their own profits. We, together, stand against the exploitation of land everywhere and not just in our backyard: it is not a supposed egoistic attitude that drive us, but the fierce opposition against every exploitation of lands for profits.
The 100 thousand people rallying on the 16th of November disprove the nimby syndrome, as well as the thousands of people that took part in the struggles against environment devastation of Campania region so far: just think of the national demonstration against the dump of Chiaiano (just outside of Naples) or the 10.000 people that fought against the new incinerator of Giugliano (Campania). In these twenty years the communities have produced and shared knowledge and analysis, providing a concrete general alternative for environment and commons defence and administration.
The result is such that now does exist a different model of sustainable waste management suitable for both the territories and local communities and based on popular control of waste disposal mechanisms. A model expressed for the first time in the manifesto of #fiumeinpiena and discussed during the public assembly occurred at the end of the demonstration of the 16th of November. From this tremendous rich heritage of relations, knowledge, conflict, awareness sprung up a mobilization so large and important that there are no equals in the recent history of our region. Therefore this mobilization, for its historical relevance and for the vivid materiality of its sociopolitical experience, has not been a single event, but it actually found many interconnections with the ongoing daily activity on our territories.
On the other hand, the response of the institutions now appear to be not only insufficient, but even embarrassing: if right after the big demonstration of November it seemed that something was about to change as regard to the start of the environment recovery, now the austerity/neoliberal political economy has definitely blocked the action of those who tried to do something – even if just for electoral reasons. Current central government – aimed at setting aside environment issues while promoting itself as something “new”, trying in this way to keep the consensus on – launched a programme absolutely insufficient to contrast environment devastation; this programme, furthermore, has even benefited those who were responsible for the waste crisis. The central policies are close to local governments’, which have even proposed to open up new dumps in Chiaiano and Varcaturo (Campania).
However, while institutions were inactive, committees kept on moving, growing up and fostering regular debates. The question of biocide has proved to be a common element among those Italian movements and committees that are struggling against environmental devastation, even exceeding the specific situation of Campania region. A common political lexicon, and even a proper new common sense about environment has been developed, linking together the struggles against the expropriation of common resources, the opposition against privatization and speculation. Actually, what happened in Campania expresses a fundamental political potential that can be a common heritage of territories and communities, unifying them in a shared mobilization potentially explosive and decisive.
Indeed, we are talking about the poisoning of Val Pescara by Edison (which buried for years toxic waste in Bussi); the waste crisis in Lazio region, with its antidemocratic emergency policies and with large areas (for example Valle di Sacco and Latina province) polluted because of the burying of industrial waste due to the joint action of criminality and enterprises, as well as the speculation of Orte-Mestre construction site, TAV, EXPO 2015 in Milan. We are talking about the poisoning of populations of Vado Ligure and Porto Tolle; we are talking about terra dei fuochi, that sadly has linked Italy around the issue of environment devastation. But terra dei fuochi is not the only deeply polluted area: from Apulia to Lombardia to Brescia (area in which is forbidden even touching the land because it is polluted, and where during the rally of the 10th of may has been used the word biocide) everywhere the issues of environment defence rise up and are associated to other fundamental political issues as home and income for all, health and dignity. Eventually, we are talking about the 250.000 European sites that have to be decontaminated.
All these struggles testify, on one hand, the centrality of environmental defence; on the other, the necessity to overcome the advanced capitalist developing model starting from the opposition to every form of economic and environment deregulation aimed just at increasing capitals accumulation. Hence, central issues are called into question: first, the right claimed by communities to decided on the future of the territories they live, especially in this period of dangerous restrictions to democratic action, claiming back the sovereignty loosen and imaging new form of self-government aimed at protecting and managing the commons. Secondly, these struggle counteract directly the capitalist developing model rooted in the exploitation of territories, knowledge and living labour for the profits of few people.
Around these important varieties of issues we will try to build up a large social coalition, as well as new synergies, cooperation, discourse/imaginary production, mobilization. The 16th of November, to some extent, has been a foundational day, which has been in turn relaunched by thousands of people demonstrating against TAV and against the CIE (Centre for identification and expulsion of immigrants) of Gradisca, for the defence of commons in Pisa, as well as by the 100.000 people rallying in Naples against environment devastation.
After six months no proper action has been taken by institutions, but in the meantime the fury of the communities is rising on the territories, is weaving relations and critical knowledge, is setting the political agenda imaging new developing models and other worlds. The European meeting in Naples has been one of the many moments of debate; we had the possibility to get in touch with social experiences similar to ours, from the resistants against mining evisceration in the north of Greece, to the activists of Gezi Park fighting against gentrification.
Hence, starting from these experiences, we are calling for a day of action on the 16th of May to set up as many territorial actions as possible and to join on the very next day – that is the 17th of May – the rally in Rome, in which alongside with the opposition to austerity and privatizations, environment justice will play a central role too. We are calling, therefore, for two days of action in which we ourselves, the resisting communities, will try to deliver a clear message: we are coming.