“Health is first and foremost, but without money no Masses are sung”: so, we read on one of the many banners laid out during the spontaneous protest marches in Naples in these hours. The contrast between health and work, between physical well-being and economic well-being is a choice that in a real democracy we should not even imagine to make. Yet this is the choice put in front of us, in the South as well as in the North, throughout the all country. While the North – and especially the Milan metropolitan area – tend to maintain a modest semblance of widespread economic well-being, the same is not true in the large cities of the South. Naples is the third largest city in Italy and perhaps the most important in the whole South. And it is here that the expected anger of those who have to choose between health and work erupts.
The easy para-journalistic theory of the conspiracy by the mafia does not hold this time. Above all, artisans and self-employed people are mobilized, crushed by an economic crisis that has been going on for over ten years and that worsened in the hot months of the first wave of the covid. If we superimpose the structural character of the crisis of the South on top of this emergency, it is easy to expect the radicalisation, in some ways violent, of the riot. And the detestable and instrumental participation of fascist organizations, which generally do not gather a large consensus in the south of the country, does not explain this radicalisation.
Beside the shop keepers take to the street all the others, including the subproletariat. And that someone has taken advantage of this to perform “criminal” acts, this does not explain even a little bit the participation extended to the many sectors in crisis of the catering and artisans. That is, of that micro-enterprise, the backbone of the real economy of our country, which actually produces a good part of the national wealth. The rent, the salaries, the ruthless competition of the web big companies (Amazon in the lead, which since the beginning of the pandemic has seen their earnings grow exponentially), the incessant and depressing bureaucracy: all these factors have concurred in progressively pushing the small business owners out from the middle class. Over time, the proletarization of that middle class in which shop keepers and artisans were inserted has become increasingly evident. For this reason they are protesting against the announced curfew ordered by the Campania Region of Vincenzo De Luca, who in the precedent days was the first among the Presidents of the Regions to review the model of the school in attendance developed by the government. Already the day after the riots, De Luca finally put in standby the plan for a full lock down of the region. He claims now that such provision is unfeasible without the support of the central government.
It should not scandalize the violence of the masses, but the choice we have come to have to make: health or work. In the wake of the age-old Taranto issue – where we still have to bargain between having a meal on the table and trying to survive the harmful fumes of ILVA, so we have to choose whether to risk “catching” the coronavirus or not to reach the end of the month. The issue of the covid, throughout Italy and with greater vigor in the tormented South, has simply opened up a whole series of pots in which, for too long, has wallowed in the great business bourgeoisie, colluded with the crookedness, which has shared among itself the cake of health care, transport, services.
We must say once and for all that the problem is not “curfew yes or no”, the problem is which social and economic system we have built up until now and which, instead, we must start to imagine right now. The State must regain ownership of all strategic sectors: centralize decisions on health care, which should be 100% public; have a public transport infrastructure plan in line with the population density of each area of the country; provide when necessary concrete economic aid to the most vulnerable sectors of the population. Finally, the State should identify and strike the organized crime with the violence necessary to re-establish the sacrosanct concept that a citizen will never again have to borrow money from usurers – as many shop-owners are often forced to do. Restore the essential principle: health and work are not and must never again be opposed.