Op 20 juli 2002 verschenen meer dan 100.000 mensen in Genua om de protesten van een jaar eerder te herdenken. Schrijverscollectief Wu Ming schreef er een hartverscheurend artikel over.

Op 20 juli was het precies een jaar geleden dat de protesten tegen de G8-top in Genua, Italie plaatsvonden. Dagen vol geweld waarbij de (ruim 200.000) demonstranten letterleijk de stad uitgejaagd werden, honderden zwaar gewonden vielen en een demonstrant door de politie doodgeschoten werd. Een jaar later verschenen ruim 100.000 mensen om de gebeurtenissen te herdenken (zie bericht op globalinfo). Dit aantal was voor iedereen verbazingwekkend. Maar ook de sfeer die bij de herdenkingheerste was zeer bijzonder.

Het schrijverscollectief Wu Ming schreef daar een hartverscheurend stuk over, dat hieronder in het Engels te vinden is.

Wu Ming is een van de voortzettingen van het multiple name-project Luther Blissett en bracht onder meer het boek Q voort. Een Nederlandstalig artikel daarover verscheen in Vrij Nederland en is in het archief van Wu Ming terug te vinden.

De website van Wu Ming: De website van Wu Ming:
En hier vind je een recent interview.

Genoa Jul 20th 2002: A Little Secular Miracle
Wu Ming 1 - 11.08.2002 06:07

(The following piece was published both on L'unita daily newspaper and Carta weekly magazine on August 1st, 2002)

From the Low Appennines of Bologna to Piazza Alimonda

"One says solid things when he tries not to say extraordinary ones" Isidore Ducasse, Count of Lautreamont, Poems, 1870

In the Fall and Winter of 1944 the population of the Tuscan-Emilian Appennine suffered many Nazi-Fascist retaliations and massacres. The Front was on the so-called "Gothic Line", the mountains were the natural border between the territory occupied by the Third Reich and that liberated by the Allies. The Nazis were bewildered by the extension of Partisan guerrilla warfare and aware that they were losing the war, thus committed themselves to the wildest and fiercest repression. The most famous massacre was in Marzabotto in October.
Little by little, beginning from December all throughout the winter, about a hundred Partisans were abducted by night from the San Giovanni in Monte penitentiary of Bologna and taken to a precipice near Sabbiuno di Paderno, on the highest spot of a ridge separating the Savena Valley from the Reno Valley, about nine kilometres south of Bologna.
It is an area of clayey ground and eroded hillsides, where the vegetation clears to show gray-blueish pieces of lands and golden strips of sandy soil. In the older Pliocene [two million years ago] there was the sea and the valleys were its floor.
The crest of the ridge offers a spectacular view, at dusk the world around gets luminiscent. At night, where the horizon breaches, one can see the stretch of Bologna lights. In 1944, as the city was blacked out on account of air raids, most likely one couldn't see anything.
The Partisans were lined up and shot on the brink of the precipice.
The bodies fell downhill in the muddy snow.
That massacre was discovered only after the Liberation. Only 58 victims were recognized.

Resistance memorials usually fail to affect their posterity and communicate something for real (closeness, continuity, being part of a community that has fought and keeps fighting). Quite often, they are excessively pompous, over-codified, closed and monologic. There is no dialogue between a monument and us. One cannot ask questions to a monument. Moreover, monuments ooze with bureaucracy, somehow they display the process of selection (often biased by nepotism) which entitled that artist to carry out the project.
To tell the truth, it may happen that time and social changes intervene to "open up" a monument and make it unexpectedly dialogical.
During the Cold War the Treptower Park Soviet Memorial (in the former East Berlin) was probably an oppressing and alienating site: it is a square kilometre of warlike redundancy and socialist realism, with bas-reliefs celebrating the Russian counter-offensive and the fall of Berlin, as well as the enormous statue of a soldier whose sword has just smashed a swastika. He holds a little boy in his hand.
And yet when I visited the Memorial on a late afternoon of October 2001, I found it beautiful and touching. It looks like that eleven-metres-tall soldier used the sword to break the aesthetical bonds imposed by the assignors (i.e. the Stalinist regime). The Memorial no longer serves its old implicit purposes, i.e. to impose and strengthen a nearly apathetic "consensus". Now it can serve the original, explicit purposes, i.e. to commemorate ("to remember together") the struggle against Fascism, not only in Germany but all across Europe. The subject of celebration is no longer the official ideology of an authoritarian state, but the liberating process of myth-making stirred up by the Stalingrad resistance and the consequent counter-offensive.
Furthermore, the Memorial serves another purpose, a completely new one, i.e. to be a "disagreeable" and scornful presence at the core of Capitalist Europe, which now is shaky and in recession, but some time ago would fanatically force misbelievers to swallow the neoliberal Host.

There is a memorial on the Sabbiuno ridge too, a monument that was never pompous, closed or monological, a monument that oozes no bureaucracy and, unlike the Treptower Memorial, was always laical and inclusive, not weighed down by ideology. A little miracle.
After the war, several rocks and boulders were laid on the brink to commemorate the 100 antifascist fighters. On each stone is engraved the name of a fallen Partisan. It was nearly a "land art" intervention, so much light and harmonious that it appears natural.
In time some names have worn away, plants and even little trees have grown between the stones. In 1974 the area surrounding the monument became a park, little more than a strip of grass along the brisk, about ten metres wide and a hundred metres long. At the entrance is a very sober tablet, you push a button on a white box and hear a voice telling the story. At the end of the park, on the highest spot of the ridge, there is a more recent sculpture/installation, which does not go well with the rest but luckily is far enough [sub-machine guns on a concrete wall].
Those boulders talk, you ask them questions and they give you a thousand answers. Like at Treptow - but in a very different way - you stand on that brink and feel you belong to an open community in struggle, a community that defies the passing of time and even supercedes the degeneration of the ideals that make people struggle.

This discourse on monuments also applies to rites and ceremonies. As we cannot prescind from myths, so we cannot prescind from rituals, because myths and rituals give shape to life. However, we must make every effort to prevent myths and rituals to become ends in themselves.
"To remember together" is not necessarily an alienating and "sclerotizing" act [our President Ciampi is a perfect example of such sclerosis]. Commemoration may also be a civil bottom-up testimony, an affirmative action in public space, as well as the revelation of a symbolic "surplus" that takes the powers-that-be by surprise.
A trivial, groundless and useless iconoclasm causes the miserable heirs of some aesthetical/political avantgarde to despise the very notion of "ritual" (and yet they go through poor and second-rate rituals themselves, like the micro-demo of the "heavies" on July 20th in Genoa).
Joseph Campbell, a famous scholar in mythology, replied to these people in a conference on "The Importance of Rites" he held in 1964:
"All life is structure. In the biosphere, the more elaborate the structure, the higher the life form. The structure through which the energies of a starfish are inflected is considerably more complex than that of an amoeba; and as we come on up the line, say to the chimpanzee, complexity increases. So likewise in the human cultural sphere: the crude notion that energy and strength can be represented or rendered by abandoning and breaking structures is refuted by all that we know about the evolution and history of life".

Every year, on March 11th, Francesco Lorusso is commemorated in Bologna. Francesco was killed by carabinieri on March 11th, 1977. He was shot dead in the "waning" phase of the period of great struggles begun in 1968. It is true that the 1977 rioting announced new subjects, new behaviours and new communication strategies, nevertheless an epoch was on the wane, afterwards came repression, enprisonment, marginalization, heroin, conformism, Reaganomics, Craxism, social dustbowl and desperate resistance in some urban niche.
During the 1980's and the 1990's, despite the unselfish efforts of the organizers, every March 11th commemoration took place under a leaden sky.

The first anniversary of the death of Carlo Giuliani had the fortune of a thoroughly different sky. I am sure of that: Carlo was killed in the "waxing" phase of an incoming period of struggles, at Piazza Alimonda you could breathe this sensation in the air. That was another little secular miracle, a simple but touching commemoration, pitiful but not disconsolate, angry but not blinded with hatred, not made heavier by ideology.
Looking at those balloons rise up and away, taking part in that half-hour long applause, I thought of Sabbiuno. I realized that I was having the same experience as the people who went on that ridge after the Liberation and later witnessed the laying of the boulders. I remember I said to Luca: - What a beautiful thing...
As I did at Treptow one year before, I thought of my grandfather, the work on the latest two books, Vitaliano... Then many names came to my mind, names of living and dead people, all victims of trigger-happy bastards: Soriano Ceccanti, Giannino Zibecchi, Anna Maria Mantini, Mara Cagol, Francesco, Giorgiana Masi...
By that time the balloons were smaller than grains of sand and the applause continued, nobody wanted to stop it.
Then somebody broke the spell and yelled one of the customary slogans, those that make the air grow musty: "Carlo is alive and fights by our side etc.", then "Hasta la victoria siempre" and finally one I don't remember. Somebody else repeated them, but the applause grew up again and lasted some more minute.
That reminded me of the machine-guns at Sabbiuno: they're as useless and over-codified as those slogans, but they do not prevent people from going up the ridge and talk with the rocks, in the same way we went back to Genoa to take part in a little miracle.
I don't mean to give offense to anyone, but all along that huge demonstration it was easy to tell the people who'd just been in Piazza Alimonda from those who'd been at other rallies: we walked levitating one metre high.
I was told that some "purist", dazed by the longing for defeat, was outraged seeing the march was joyful: "There's nothing to celebrate! Shame on you!".
At Sabbiuno, such people would see nothing but stones. At Treptow, they'd see no-one but the ghost of Stalin. At Vallegrande, Bolivia, they'd see nothing but holes in the ground.
As for the multitudes, they keep asking questions to the world around them, and are still able to be surprised at the answers.

[WM1 wishes to thank Matthias Neumann and Stefania Maffeis]



(Dit artikel was oorspronkelijk op GlobalInfo gepubliceerd door Wu Ming 1.)