Our brothers the soldiers

Marco Pannella
Notizie radicali

ABSTRACT: This regime has need to set brothers against each other as enemies: On the one hand the workers and democratic citizens, and on the other the police, the Carabinieri and the prison guards. For this reason it is necessary to fight for the demilitarisation of all the "separate" corps.
(Notizie Radicali No. 86, April 6, 1977)

Soldiers are the first, necessary victims of this violent, corrupt and corrupting regime. If the prison guards had not been militarised, if the police had not been militarised too, both of these groups would have acquired basic civil rights decades ago and human working conditions like all other categories of workers. They too would be covered by the Constitution as citizens, and by the labour statutes as salaried employees. They would have had the chance to conduct their democratic union battles and would have lived their private and public lives in the solidarity and esteem of all other workers, of all other citizens, of all their brothers and sisters, employed and unemployed. Above all of those who, like themselves, have been forced by necessity to abandon their native regions, their environments, their hopes for justice, peace and freedom.
This regime, like the Fascist one, had instead the need to set brothers against each other like enemies: on the one side there are the farm hand, the factory worker, the unemployed, the democratic citizen who demonstrate and fight for their families and for themselves; on the other opposite side, there are the soldiers, police, Carabinieri, and prison guards who repress them. This regime, then, needed to create fear and hatred, disdain and anger, on both sides, in the ones against the others.
Thus for decades the country did not see the truth, did not see that the soldiers were the first to be exploited and the victims of this state of affairs. It did not see that the police, the soldiers, the Carabinieri, the prison guards were the super-exploited, often more exploited than those who went to occupy the lands peacefully which were theirs by law, more than those who defended their salaries in union demonstrations and their constitutional rights, the democracy, the republic in political demonstrations against an unjust, violent and corrupt regime. It did not see or understand the state of mind of the young and the old who did and do have to live in the barracks and the prisons, the police stations and Carabinieri headquarters, as if we were still living in Fascist times with our only duty to "believe, obey, and fight" and to be exploited from morning to night, to live in the midst of cruel if comprehensible fear and disdain of other citizens. It did not see that for every kind of soldier, above all for them and their families, there was and is no democracy. It did not understand that the violence of the police officer and his exasperation was very often the natural result of his despair, fear and exploitation.
I believe that in the last ten years no one has fought like the Radical Party to change this state of things, no one like the non-violent, the conscientious objectors, the "flower children" has contributed with their anti-militarism, their anti-authoritarianism, to creating the understanding that democracy requires before all else the fight for liberation, the defense of the civil rights of soldiers, and the demilitarisation of society and the state.
Radio, television and the press had often managed to make people ignore this commitment. The reigning powers had tried in all possible ways to make the soldiers hate, despise and aggress most of all "radicals", "feminists", "conscientious objectors", "queers","drug addicts", "divorce supporters" - in short the whole list of "delinquents" we all know. For a few years things had been changing. Thus this year they began the strategy of massacres. They had magistrates, police officers, Carabinieri, soldiers and students and unemployed workers killed in order to resuscitate the hatred among the victims who had begun to recognise and understand each other. Those who had the student Lo Russo killed in Bologna and the democratic police Brigadier Ciotta in Turin are the same group of power holders who arranged the Milan and Brescia (1) massacres. Those who, in cahoots with the Mafia inside the prisons, let convicts escape or guards be taken in hostage by the most mentally incompetent convicts, or those desperate or crazed or vulnerable to blackmail, are the same group who know that these escaped convicts will kill policemen from fear or on commission before they are killed in turn.
Thus police reforms are put off or preparations are made to turn them into a farce. Thus it has been arranged that discussion has already stopped concerning the democratisation of the army and (in exchange for a different statute for the prison guards) preparations are being made for an even more iron-clad militarisation of the army, Carabinieri, air force and navy. Thus they invent a "referendum" among the prison guards in order to find some kind of pretext for delaying or evading granting them the things that have by now become inevitable through the struggle put up by the Radical Party, its militants and deputies.
Counting on the summer rebellion of exasperated convicts, they knew that in this case too it would be easier to put off the reform definitively or turn it into a swindle.
The Andreotti government's communique is binding, which commits itself to adopting immediately all the particular reforms requested by the PCI [Communist Party] too, and by the beginning of June to launch the bill for more general reform. It is now a question of making them stick to this commitment. By April 6 the Chamber will begin discussion of the police reforms with the proposals of the PCI, the PSI [Socialists], the DC [Christian Democrats], the government and the Radical Party.
In this phase it is more important than ever that those most directly affected should be more alert than ever that their hopes are not once again struck down. For this reason too we have organised a conference at the Hotel Massimo D'Azeglio in Rome on April 16 and 17. We thus await in confidence this necessary encounter in order to proceed with this pacific civil struggle.


1) Episodes of anonymous terrorist bombings.