I(talians) Believe, in Anarchy!

While Americans like to protest government wrongdoing by assassination attempts on senators and by blowing up schoolchildren with pipe bombs, we Europeans have a much more refined and honorable approach to letting the capitalist pigdogs hear our...

Feb 1 2011, 12:00am

Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old from Genova, gets laid out after being shot by the Carabinieri during a riot to protest the G-8 in 2001. Photo courtesy of Alberto Ramella/Black Archives
While Americans like to protest government wrongdoing by assassination attempts on senators and by blowing up schoolchildren with pipe bombs, we Europeans have a much more refined and honorable approach to letting the capitalist pigdogs hear our stricken screams.

Since our cops don’t have guns and are a tad less brutal than your own, we still preserve the fine tradition of public protest. Last year, Greece went up in flames. So did London. Like we told you in our article “Caaaaam on Then, You Faggot Cunts!” last month, Europe is bracing for another slew of riots by giving its police forces military-style training and equipping them with weaponry previously used to liberate places like Afghanistan and Iran from the pain of not being Western capitalists.

We met some anarchists recently and this is what we found out…


At the core of this new wave of public protests are anarchist organizations whose main base of operations is Rome. While many people’s (our) primary impression of Italians is an endless line of obnoxious tourists in $700 sunglasses, Italy is home to some of the most passionate anarchists in the world. That’s why there were so many of them—thousands, in fact—at the Parliament Square riots in London last month. Many British, some Dutch, but far and away the most active (just like with football hooliganism) were the Italians.

“They are light-years ahead of us in terms of aggression,” said a guy from Green and Black Cross, an anarchist outfit headquartered down the block from the Vice London office in Whitechapel. These people are so serious about turning the streets into a battlefield, a portion of their 200-odd members are trained as field medics. “While we’re throwing bricks at the police, they’re setting off bombs,” he added.

The Italian anarchists first sashayed into the eyeline of the international freedom-fighting community in 1920 when they blew up the J.P. Morgan Bank on Wall Street, amassing an impressive 38 kills and 143 seriously injured bankers (and completely innocent bystanders). Since then, the Italians have been responsible for more bombings—150, approximately—than anarchists in any other country.

During World War II, Italian anarchists with bomb-making expertise joined the resistance against the Nazis. After the war finished, many of these people used the skills they picked up in the conflict to blow their way into safes and rob people, funding their movement with their earnings and justifying their actions with the doctrine of “illegalism”—the belief that anarchists are allowed to be criminals because the state can’t tell anyone what to do.

The most recent example of this was at Christmas last year, when the Italians attacked the Swiss and Chilean Embassies with videocassette boxes stuffed with gunpowder and metal shards, which were triggered by nine-volt batteries. Four days later, a third cassette bomb was found at the Greek Embassy.

Anarchists run through the streets of Milan during a demonstration in front of the Università Cattolica in 1970. Photo courtesy of Benzi/Contrasto

The bombs were the work of Lambros Founas, a cell of the Informal Anarchists Federation (FAI) named for a Greek anarchist killed in a shootout with police in March. “We have decided to make our voice heard with words and deeds,” said a note picked up by the Italian news agency ANSA. “Let us destroy the system of domination! Long live the FAI!”

You’d think the kind of people who blow up stuff they don’t like would have learned not to sweat the small stuff. Or that anyone who’s ever caught the scene from Life of Brian with the People’s Front of Judea and the Judean People’s Front wouldn’t let similar alphabetical obfuscation overtake their revolutionary aims. But boy, would you be wrong! The anarchists in Italy are extremely prone to internal bickering. The initials FAI are a big source of confusion, because they stand for not only the Italian Anarchist Federation (an “official” group) and the Informal Anarchist Federation (an “unofficial” group) but also the Iberian Anarchist Federation, an 80-year-old Spanish group.

It was the unofficial Italian one that claimed the recent bombings—the “official” Italian FAI are thinkers rather than doers and claim that bombings and violence only provoke police retribution against anarchists. To this, the “unofficial” FAI says: “Fuck off. You are complete wimps, and violence is the only answer.”

Their position is one echoed by a maybe-defunct group called Black Dog, that says anarchists arguing over whether violence is necessary (by the way, they think it is) have allowed the state to “divide and conquer,” turning the “good” anarchists at the “official” FAI against the naughty, bomb-setting-off “bad” ones at the “unofficial” FAI. How a government could ever look upon any anarchist organization as “good” is a little past us, but we guess when people are trying to blow you up everything’s sort of relative.

Two policemen apprehend a boy at the Università Cattolica riots in Milan in 1970. Photo courtesy of Perrucci/Contrasto

The constant disagreements between the factions sometimes results in the “bad” anarchists attacking the “good” anarchists at demonstrations—which is a great source of amusement for coppers otherwise busy ducking large blocks of concrete and petrol bombs while people yell “War is the state! Freedom is adventure! Rebellion is joy!” at them in mellifluous Italian.

These niggling ideological details may seem like niggling ideological details but Italian anarchists actually have good reason to be suspicious of one another.

In the 1950s and 60s, NATO and the CIA decided to build a secret army of European resistance fighters who would “stay behind” and rise up against the Soviet Union if the Russkies ever felt like invading and taking over the continent. The only people NATO managed to recruit were crackpots and neo- and ex-Nazis, many of whom lived in Italy. Astonishingly, NATO gave the Italian fascists masses of guns and bombs, which they hid in churches across the country. They were also trained at CIA camps, where they were taught how to assassinate people and explode buildings.

Of course the Soviet Union collapsed in a shitty heap and the invasion never materialized. In Italy the fascists dug up the NATO-US guns and started shooting their sworn enemies—the anarchists. They also engaged in “false-flag terrorism,” which is a nice way of saying “killing members of the public at random and then holding news conferences to say that the anarchists did it.”

The most horrific example of false-flag terrorism occurred on August 2, 1980, when a bomb exploded in a Bologna train station in northern Italy, killing 85 and injuring 200. Initially, anarchists (and communists) were blamed, and well-placed sources immediately called for their arrest and the formation of a US-friendly authoritarian government. But the Italian police smelled a rat, noting that anarchists preferred surgical strikes when doing terrorism that specifically targeted agents of the state, such as policemen and politicians, as opposed to the indiscriminate killing of civilians.

They were right. The atrocity turned out to be the work of plotters and schemers from the fascist Armed Revolutionary Nuclei (NAR), working in conjunction with corrupt officials and gangsters. Two neo-Nazis, Valerio Fioravanti and Francesca Mambro, were later sentenced to life.

Senior freemason Licio Gelli, former spy Francesco Pazienza, and Italian intelligence officers Pietro Musumeci and Giuseppe Belmonte were also convicted of covering up and diverting the investigation. In court, prosecutors revealed that they had done it to darken the doorstep of the innocent anarchists and spread panic so the public would run like sheep into the arms of a strong leader.


A decade ago it would have taken five years of planning and coercion to get 100 anarchists in the same room together. But now, thanks to a new subcultural group called “people who smoke pot all day and watch conspiracy-theory videos on New World Order forums,” you can do it in a day. And this is the same for groups all over Europe, especially in crappy cities like Whitechapel, Turin, and Dresden, countries like Latvia, and neighborhoods like Exarcheia in Athens.

If you factor in that anarchy flourishes in shitholes and then think about the ongoing economic collapse in Europe and how that’s making the current shitholes even shittier, while also creating brand new shitholes all over the world, then what our guy at Green and Black Cross told us makes perfect sense.

“The Italian anarchists have reignited their struggle to ‘cash in’ on the mass disillusionment that young people are feeling with the state,” he explained. “It was the Greek riots that inspired them to come back into action, and now they see all these other capers going on. They’re going to take the opportunity to come back as violent and as uncompromising as they possibly can. Their groups have been written off and laughed at most of the time, but now they can show the world what they’re made of. At the Parliament Square riots, one of them told us, ‘These are very special times.’”
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