Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Statement to the court in Lecce, Salvatore Signore

‘Finally there are situations when a passionate man must write. When the platform is empty and the people are crushed, when a society of slaves has a shopkeeper as king, when all those who think are condemned, it is well necessary that the latter, exiled from the present, dwell upon the future’.

Ernest Coeurderoy, Days of Exile

First of all I want to clarify that this declaration does not intend to be a justification because I have no reason to justify myself. Then, any clarification in this court is pointless because my words can hardly be understood in all their meaning in this place. Not that I think you are stupid but because we belong to opposing ‘sides’ – you represent power and I represent its enemy – and our ways of understanding and interpreting reality are absolutely different and alien to each other. This trial, however, is obviously and exclusively political, and therefore social, and I cannot help expressing what I think. I want to point out that my thoughts are addressed outside this court, to the vast mass of exploited and excluded to which I belong and to which I have always addressed myself with the means and methods that I have acquired through time.
The first thing that I want to say is that I send back to the sender the epithet of ‘terrorist’, which has been used to define me since this story begun, and also before that, aimed at producing satisfactory public opinion, which ‘is made by idiots’, as Stendhal rightly said, and the ensuing persecution and repression; I will come back to this later. For my part, as I have already done many times, I reaffirm that terrorism has always been the favourite weapon of States, be they old empires, more recent nazi-fascist or socialist dictatorships or advanced democracies. Even if those who hold power, and therefore the manipulators of History and Culture try to change its meaning, the word ‘terrorism’ means ‘use of indiscriminate violence with the aim of conquering, consolidating and defending political power’. Anarchists, on the contrary, even when they have decided to use violence, have never used it in an indiscriminate way. Then it is absolutely ridiculous to think that anarchists want to conquer power, given that their aim is to destroy it! After all, the bombs in the squares and on the trains, the massacre of entire populations and the ‘exporation of democracy’ are certainly not anarchist practises.
As far as the appellation of subversive is concerned, I candidly admit that that is what I am. What is an individual who despises all kinds of power and struggles for a completely different society and for the freedom of all living beings without distinctions, if not subversive? All this is certainly subversive in a world where social relations are based on exploitation, robbery, exclusion and abuse of the weakest. Furthermore, I could never belong to any subversive ‘association’, which would really be a very miserable thing and would not match with the fact that I am anarchist, which I assert and for which I am defendant in this trial. As an anarchist, I have two fundamental principles: the individual and anti-authoritarianism. Therefore I could never organize myself in a vertical way – even if I have been defined ‘leader’ and ‘chief’ and, according to the prosecution, I occupied a ‘leader’ s position’. I strongly refute these words. I could never organize myself in a rigid way either, because in that case the organisation itself would dominate me and I would become a mere instrument and appendix of it, and my being a unique individual among other unique individuals would disappear behind it. On the contrary I establish my relations according to the necessity of the moment, to the love, friendship and affinity that link me to others. I can agree for a moment on one question and soon after be in total disagreement on another. But this relation is always horizontal, informal and never hierarchical, according to the principle of anti-authoritarianism. In this free and temporary relation, I am free to move by myself or with whoever wants to move with me. On the contrary, in an organized structure, individuals only move inside the ‘association’, exactly like in political parties. If I acted in this way I would follow a religion, but as anarchist I am against political parties and religions, no matter what they say. I would even be against anarchism if the latter were to become a dogma and therefore religion.
Another accusation made against me and that I want to clarify because I find it disgusting is that I would make ‘proselytism’. This practise does not belong to me; it belongs, for example, to the armed forces that go around schools in order to convince kids to enlist, and to priests and to missionaries all over the world. But I have always been extraneous to the ‘missionary logic’. I do not think that social change is a historical mission that I have to carry out nor do I think that it is an inevitable event according to some determinist dream. On the contrary I think that it is an open possibility that can become true or not, that can be fair or not. And it will not be any ‘party’ of anarchists to radically transform the world; it will be the exploited that organize themselves together with anarchists. If I were to live my life and thought according to an historical mission, this too would overcome my will and would transform it into an instrument of something that does not belong to me and that would be the opposite of individuality. I would disappear behind the historical mission, behind the ideology. On the contrary I have never had the arrogance to claim that I know the truth in the place of ignorant masses that have not understood anything and that I should ‘convert’ and ‘indoctrinate’; in this way I would be putting myself in a vanguardist position, which anarchists historically refuse; I have never wanted to be a vanguard. What I do, through articles in our papers, posters, demonstrations, meetings, distribution of books, and which is being judged in this court, is called propaganda, that is to say an instrument for expressing my thoughts and ideas. Mind you, I said Ideas, not mere and stupid opinions. Opinions only represent the empty shell of ideas, as they do not have the subversive potential of the latter. Ideas are something more, they are dangerous, especially in times of social anaesthesia as those we are living in, and it is for this reason that they scare.
This is the real point: what is on trial, exactly, in this court? Not certainly ‘crimes’, to justify most of which the investigators had to construe ‘evidence’ and interpret in their own way words, sentences, concepts, highlighting what was convenient for them and omitting all the rest. No, it is not this. Here it is the Idea that is on trial, anarchist thought and practise. Nobody can believe in the old story of the ‘State of Right’, also because, as Hobbes rightly said, ‘rights being equal, strength wins’.
It is therefore clear that courts defend class interests, the class of the included against the big majority of the excluded, which is growing. It is sufficient to observe the social provenance of prisoners in the very democratic Italian jails to find the best confirmation to my statements. So it becomes intolerable that individuals wanting freedom, the destruction of all power and a dignified life for everybody are set free. It is not by chance that there exists a continuous and constant attack against what can be defined the ‘anarchist movement’. This attack has been increasing over the last ten years, and this is also due to the politics of emergency that the State has been adopting for a long while and upon which it now bases its very existence: it is a consolidated rule to create a fictitious enemy towards which to address subjects’ fears so that they create a common front against the ‘danger’ of the moment and cannot see who are really responsible for their misery: one day it is the mafia emergency, another it is environmental emergency, then the immigration emergency comes out. Following this logic today there stands an external enemy – foreigners in general and Arabs in particular – and an internal enemy – all those who oppose the present state of things, and anarchists in particular.
Dozens of conspiracy court cases were set against anarchists, most of which have ended up in nothing. What the prosecution is trying here, therefore, is not so much to put me and some other comrades in prison, which would be too little a thing, but to obtain a final sentence that could be useful in future penal procedures and help to get rid of anarchists for a few years, while sending a warning to all the others. The thinking heads of the State have certainly realized that, for a series of reasons, Lecce is the right place where such a precedent could be created: it is a little town on the suburbs of the Empire, where in their opinion there would be little resistance, and then there are no specific precedents. The most extraordinary thing, however, is that to obtain such a sentence, instruments that have failed elsewhere are being used, i.e. the usual old joke that fills the documents of investigators and public prosecutors about anarchist organising themselves on a double level – one public and the other clandestine – and the intentionally distorted interpretation of a comrade’ s words that have been published in a number of books. There is, in fact, a repressive thread on a national level, which is put into practice on a local level only to make it easier. A few more steps in this direction and, who knows, anyone who has certain books in his house will be criminalized! After all, it is exactly books that were seized in the course of the searches carried out when we were arrested… It is perhaps useful to remind that the ‘dangerous books’ hunt was carried out during the holy Inquisition and during Nazism, and it is also useful to remember that a few days ago in Bologna searches were made and an investigation on conspiracy was opened on the pretext that comrades were distributing a book that criticized the infamous ‘Biagi law’. And it is quite bizarre that some books are being considered the source of certain theories and strategies, in spite of the fact that your own magistrates have sentenced the falseness of these constructions!
Contrary to what the prosecution is trying to establish, I am a dangerous individual not because I speak and act in a clandestine way but because of the exact opposite: because I do not need to do so. I think I am a free individual coherent with himself, at least I try, so I openly say what I think and do what I say: theory becomes practise and practise becomes theory. I understand how this can be disturbing and unpleasant to power. It must be in fact unpleasant to mayor Poli [the right-wing mayor of Lecce] that in her ‘polis’, that is to say a town ruled by a bunch of exploiters under which slaves are submitted, there is still somebody who wants to take back the ‘agora’, that is to say a free piazza where there can be free discussion and where the Idea, this thing so frightening, can be widespread. After all, as the inquisitors tried a lot of times to stop me, they know very well that I cannot stand the closeness of what they call ‘hens’ – our sites - especially as the excluded to whom I address myself are not habitual frequenters of such places.
My anarchist thoughts and practice are even more dangerous to the inquisitors when they are aimed at striking the terrorism of very important men and the violence perpetrated inside the new concentration camps of the State, the so-called CPTs. The pretext under which I was put in jail and I am under trial is exactly my radical opposition to these places.
I claim with strength my struggle against the detention centres for immigrants and against Regina Pacis in particular. It was an infamous place that was luckily closed down but whose corpse keeps on spreading an horrible smell and whose walls are still impregnated with the blood and anger of millions of individuals who were locked up there and raped of their lives. In my opinion such places should not only be closed down, but also totally razed to the ground so that there will be not even the memory of their infamy. Yes, for a few years there has been the habit to celebrate the ‘remembrance day’ [in memory of the victims who died in nazi concentration camps]: if we did not live in an upside-down world, they would probably celebrate the ‘oblivion day’, the total destruction of any concentration camps. And I want to point out that I do not use the word ‘concentration camp’ out of rhetoric or because it became fashionable among left-wing politicians who created the modern concentrations camps, I use it because it is a rigorous definition. As in the old colonial and nazi camps, in fact, people locked up in the CPTs did not commit any crime, they are only undesirables at the mercy of police and exploited by the bosses of the moment. Besides being jails for immigrants, the CPTs are places where foreign labourers, who can be blackmailed more easily, are selected. It is in fact important to remind that the exploitation of this kind of labourers is very important to capital.
The last question that I would like to express concerns the particular moment my comrades and I were arrested. It was soon after the arrest of Cesare Lodeserto, the director of Regina Pacis, and when many members of his staff, including doctors, operators, and cops were (and some still are) under investigation. It was necessary to take the public attention away from these episodes that has uncovered the real nature of that CPT and opened a crack in the wall that I had been trying for years to open myself so that everybody could look through it. It was at this point that attention had to be deviated and directed to the worst enemies of the State. This does not surprise me: it is one arm of the State that goes to secure its other arm. There is a popular saying that synthesizes the concept: ‘one hands washes the other and both wash the face’.
During the period I was detained I could personally experience the fury that the State has towards words, against which it has waged a war, as also proved by years of phone and environmental tapping against me and by the big quantity of papers that was seized in my house. It is hatred towards all the aspects of the word: the written and spoken word and therefore, basically, the thought. It is the attempt to kill Cartesio’s statement ‘I think, therefore I am’ because in a social system where ‘to have’ is much more important than ‘to be’, individuals must stop being, and it is not only a question of auxiliary verbs substituting each other.
I could realize that when censorship went for (and still does) my letters and books when I was in prison. The inner meaning of the matter can be found in one single sentence that has been repeated many times by a prison officer who, when I insisted to have books that had been kept for two months by the censors, used to say; ‘You read too much!’.
In my opinion this short sentence is quite meaningful and summarizes the sense of my incarceration and trial: ‘You read too much!’. If this is true, I am sorry, but I can’t reassure you, I will keep on thinking, reading, writing, speaking and therefore struggling. It does not matter if in the next years I will find myself on the one side or the other of the bars of this open prison that is called society, because I am convinced that in the court justice is not administrated but vengeance is executed instead.
Unless you agree with Dostoevskji, who wrote: ‘When they became criminals they invented the Justice and imposed a series of codes to preserve it, and to preserve the codes they invented the guillotine’. In this case, innocence is the worst thing ever.
I do not have anything else to tell you.

Lecce, June 28 2007

Salvatore Signore

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