Maurizio Acerbo, National Secretary of the Rifondazione Comunista (Communist Refoundation Party, Italy), was the guest in transform! europe's webinar series Meeting the Left.
For Maurizio Acerbo the legacy of fascism born precisely in Italy, defeated only with a war, generates a polarization that impels us to accept even a liberalist alignment with little interest in social needs, as a civilised bulwark against the barbaric right with its inglorious past.
In Acerbo’s view, we must be able to set other priorities, shifting the fault line by focusing on the struggle against extreme wealth and tax havens to the benefit of welfare and the collective interest.
On the other hand, the right also in Italy has taken up a ‘sovereignist‘ stance which in reality does not serve a national interest but is allied with multinationals and finance, harvesting the popular discontent that is almost channelled towards this bogus sovereignism by the mainstream media which continues to dub the right ‘anti-system’.
The pandemic crisis, Acerbo pointed out, has shown that austerity policies, which in Italy alone have meant € 37 billion in cuts to public health, is not the solution; nevertheless ‘the virus will not make the revolution for us’. Already now, the government’s plans to relaunch the economy are putting crisis-exit strategy into the hands of private entrepreneurs, reviving the usual recipes consisting of privatisation and less constraints on investments. Here, declares the secretary of Rifondazione, there is no difference between the centre right and the centre left.
Acerbo's assessment of the European Union is clear: the initial failed approach in which the only response to the pandemic was to close borders and defend single national interests was followed by a promise of completely insufficient and belated subsidy.
Even if this promise of support is kept, it will be incapable of confronting the huge economic loss that we are going to experience throughout Europe.
‘We believe’, Acerbo said, ‘that the ECB should be given the task of intervening directly – not only with Quantitative easing (QE), which in any case does not deal with the imbalances of the various European economies nor puts an end to austerity – with an anti-Covid plan, as the central banks of England and the United States have done.’
‘In reality’, Acerbo continued, ‘while on the one hand there is an admission, including on the part of the international establishment, that greater public spending is needed, even the new measures put in place by the European Commission will be conditioned by the old policies.’
The strategy that Rifondazione is pursuing at the national and European levels is one that aims to mend the division of the left and, by working with the movements and trade unions, push the struggles forward.
This strategy, while difficult, is essential in order to turn away from an approach that is not confronting the environmental and social crisis we are experiencing. ‘Just think what a general strike could mean that is launched by European trade unions to force the ECB to change its function and finance a plan for welfare, jobs, and ecological conversion; this would instantly shift the political agenda of our countries and of the European Union’, Acerbo explained.
Rifondazione Comunista, like the Party of the European Left, fiercely opposes the treaties on which the EU is founded, but we are aware that the European dimension is indispensable, and we need this qualitative leap in order to offer a political alternative to both the right and the elites who govern the EU.
‘The European left’, he concluded, ‘must try to unite the struggles and launch European campaigns, for example against tax havens, also uniting the labour movements around common struggles.’