The Mayor of Chiaiano called it “civil war”. On the northern outskirts of Naples in southern Italy – the population of a town which, ironically, turned out a big vote for the right wing in recent elections – is going toe-to-toe with the new government’s hard-line “security” legislation.
Protests have erupted over a plan to open a massive new waste dump under the houses of Chiaiano.
Like Pianura, the neighbourhood on the eastern suburbs which recently rose in revolt against the centre left regional administration’s waste-disposal strategy, Chiaiano has no significant tradition of struggle.
So, the Italian state might think there’d be little opposition to its plans. They are – to hell with recycling, load all the rubbish in massive dumps in working class communities and then burn the lot in huge incinerators built by hungry multinationals with generous government subsidies.
Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s visit to Naples with the cabinet in tow on Wednesday of last week was met by nine protest marches.
But Chiaiano and Pianura are perhaps the real sign of the times.
The new right wing government is busily fanning the flames of racist violence against Roma people and immigrants. But it still risks running aground on the rocks of popular revolt, despite the collapse of the parliamentary left.
Chiaiano is class struggle. The people of the town are fighting against the occupation of their own streets.
They face a media campaign which blames them for the rubbish swamping Naples. And the anti-capitalist left has been severely damaged by its failure to build an alternative to the traditional parliamentary left.
Chiaiano may not win, but it will be a very hard nut to crack, and in Italy is perhaps the shape of things to come.