Imagining Another Turin

River Po view. Turin, May 2013.

The criticisms were familiar. If you didn’t know the article was published in Der Spiegel, you’d have thought it was The Economist. All the same themes were present: Italy is approaching failed state status. Government policies are mired in the past. Businesses are eschewing manufacturing for services. Corruption is rampant.  Mario Monti is the country’s only hope.

It would be one thing if the venerable German news weekly made constructive recommendations. Unfortunately, the best it could do was quote an American economist, who, instead of proposing reinvesting in the public sector, recommended that Italy would only recover by withdrawing from the Euro. Certainly, the currency has proved more trouble than it has been worth. But that’s not Italy’s main problem.

What about Berlusconi’s two decades in power? What about the fact that Italian business have, for over two decades, increasingly outsourced their manufacturing, abroad? And the role of the Mafia, in the economic crisis? Do tell. The sources of Italy’s meltdown are too numerous to list. Unfortunately, they  don’t support the recommendations of Anglo-American laissez-faire advocates.

The following translation, of an anti-capitalist flyer posted outside of a Turin squat, provides a glimpse as to what Italian leftists think the sources of the crisis are. At least locally, in Italy’s equivalent to Detroit, the historic cradle of its automotive and defense industries. Though clearly partisan, the point of view offered has some experience behind it. One would think that there’s some authority to that.

As usual, the international press relies on the wisdom of foreign ideologues, who, as though in possession of only one reflex, feel compelled to prescribe more of the same. There’s a lesson here. When in doubt, try calling Italy first. Chances are you’ll get a different answer than if you only dial British and American telephone numbers.


We Want Another Model Turin. Squat flyer, June 2013.
Squat flyer. June 2013.


We Want Another Model Turin!

The Turin Model  – resulting from the synergy between Fiat and the Democratic Party – (has) stood out in (recent) years for proposing political and economical paths consisting of corruption and real estate and financial speculation (the realization of “spine” project and the investment of city taxation in the derivatives roulette.) A model that has strengthened the privileges of few (Fiat, developers, San Paolo managers, and the top brass of the former Communist Party) and generated poverty for the majority of the inhabitants of this city.

The Olympic Winter Games in 2006, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italian unification in 2011, some other big events to convince the entire population  that the city’s transformation, after the industrial era splendor, could be accomplished through a series of “white nights” festivals… And, at the same time, the construction of useless buildings, later abandoned to decay. “Moi” apartment houses – today occupied by refugees to satisfy legitimate needs – are a concrete example of this model and of this waste: houses that, after only seven years after construction, already show cracks and flakes of plaster!

To the deindustrialization of the area, the Democratic Party and Fiat have not only backed great speculative projects, such as TAV, (and) “creative” finance (schemes,) that led us to be the second most indebted Italian city, and the selling off of public goods to San Paolo (whose president, well rewarded, is former Turin mayor Chiamparino.)

This model led (also) local institutions to collapse, to hospital closures, schools downsizing, university enrollments decreasing, (and) social service reductions. (President) Napolitano evokes the spirit of ’76 but the “national unity policy,” for rulers, always means the imposition of sacrifices. Since then, salary purchasing power has decreased, electrical energy, gas and transportation privatizations have been started, thus excessively increasing everyday life costs.

One of the effects of this change in conditions, also in terms of production temporality (the maximum working activity concentrated in some age groups, which leads to a destabilizing and destabilized welfare) has caused a demographic decline, with a subsequently aging population.

(Reversing) the social relations that created this situation is possible, by demanding the satisfaction of individual and collective needs and proposing different ways of life, questioning (wealth) accumulation and social management models simultaneously.

If it has been possible to deprive millions of people of their jobs with the economic policies adopted so far, today, it’s our task to reconstruct a social power that redistributes incomes more equally, as well as the total social wealth!

Social income for all young people without a job, for those who lost their job, and for people without pensions!

Abolition of all “golden pensions”!

(And end) to TAV corruption!

Repurposing, for social use,  all of the buildings constructed for city events, which were later abandoned!









Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace. Introduction and photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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