Last night Italy’s prime minister declared that all nonessential workplaces will be shut down to stem the spread of COVID-19. For two weeks, social distancing has been undermined by employer pressure to keep production going. As contagion soars, other countries would be foolish not to learn Italy’s lesson.
David Broder is Jacobin’s Europe editor and a historian of French and Italian communism.
The European country hit hardest by coronavirus, Italy has announced a near-total shutdown of shops and public venues, but many nonessential workplaces are still running. Refusing to let bosses risk their safety, workers are now going on strike.
Empty supermarket shelves and the spread of designer-brand face masks show that Italians are panicking about coronavirus. The spread of the virus demands a planned and coherent response — but the politics of fear are instead turning Italians against each other.
Eugenio Curiel was a leader of the Italian Resistance against Nazism, before he was murdered by fascists on February 24, 1945. He insisted that the Resistance wasn’t just about deposing Benito Mussolini — it was about putting the masses at the center of a new democracy.
The 2010s were meant to herald a new generation of party activism, as Europe’s austerity generation built new structures to the left of social democracy. Instead, we got short-lived surges of electoral enthusiasm — without the deeper rebuilding we so sorely needed.
Boris Johnson’s promise to “get Brexit done” allowed him to frame his whole agenda as a matter of implementing the popular will. Die-hard calls to rejoin the European Union are hopelessly out of touch — and risk dividing Labour over a futile culture war.
Giampaolo Pansa topped Italy’s bestsellers’ lists by retelling the Resistance from the “side of the losers.” His works promised to shine a light on anti-fascist crimes — and handed the resurgent far right a narrative of victimhood.
In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party transcended the divides of the Brexit referendum to spread a message of economic change and democratic renewal. But a fringe within Labour insisted that overturning the referendum was the only issue that mattered — and succeeded in undermining Corbynism’s promise of uniting working people.
The exit polls from the British election are a devastating blow. Allowing the Tories to pose as the defenders of Brexit ensured defeat — and has handed historic Labour areas over to the party of bosses and landlords. But with resolute socialist organizing, we will have another shot at power.
But we’re nothing without our universal subject — the international working class.
The European Parliament has condemned communism as equivalent to Nazism. Based on a fantasy reading of history, the motion smears all “radicalism” as “totalitarian” — and dismisses the moral superiority of those who fought fascism.
We’re held hostage by a political and military elite that exploits us to fuel its endless wars.
For centuries, working-class people have been sent to die in wars for empire. The rich history of soldier revolt isn’t just about foreign policy — it’s about breaking the power of the mighty in society as a whole.
Far-right leader Matteo Salvini brought down the Italian government because he wanted fresh elections. A pact among the other parties could stop his advance — but only if it breaks with austerity.
After a year dominating the government from the Interior Ministry, Matteo Salvini is now set to become prime minister. The opposition has worked hard to highlight what a bad guy he is — but totally failed to confront him politically.
Summer at work is unbearable when we can’t look forward to some time off. In 1930s France, the labor movement made the fight for vacation a top priority — and forced bosses to pay for our time at the beach.
The Five Star Movement emerged promising to liberate Italians from a corrupt political establishment. But its hollow claim to stand outside the left-right divide has made it into a mere stooge for Matteo Salvini.
The 1960s space race prompted international treaties insisting that space travel should only be used for peaceful purposes. Today, Emmanuel Macron’s plans to put military hardware in space point to a dangerous new arms race.
Days after Trump said Boris Johnson should be next prime minister, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised the US wouldn’t allow Jeremy Corbyn come to power. They can't stop him.
Matteo Salvini, Italy’s hard-right interior minister, has no intention of taking his country out of the eurozone. And his plans to change the EU from within are surprisingly feeble.