Letter from Michele Pontolillo,anarchist prisoner in struggle

I announce that at 12 o’clock on December 7 2000, I will start an indefinite hunger strike. Given the situation of growing repression in which we live inside as well as outside prison, and departing from the inalienable right of every individual to revolt against the omnipotence and arrogance of those in Power, I announce that at 12 o’clock on December 7, 2000 I will start an indefinitive hunger strike for the reasons I would like to expose here.

Starting some years ago we have been able to observe a considerable aggravation of the repressive activities of the imperialist European States designed to criminalize and diminish the activism of the social and political movement, including the anarchist movement which is well rooted in those countries where the proletarian and revolutionary struggles continued, as in Spain, Italy or Greece.

Wherever we look, the view is desolate. The restructuring of capitalism incited by the massive use of communication technologies led to new contradictions which are much more difficult for the governments to handle through a policy of consent. The States, and by extension society as a whole, have but to adapt themselves to the new demands of capitalism which are ever more exclusive.

The reduction of the costs of production, the rising unemployment rates, the flexibility and precariousness of work, with as immediate consequence the proletarisation of social layers previously close to the middle class, the attraction of cheap labor from third world countries, the dismantling of the welfare-state on which the already precarious social pact between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was based, these are all decisive aspects of a reality which allow us to foresee, not only an uncertain future for all those who take part in the production process and are trapped between the slavery of work and the fear of joining the ranks of the jobless, but also a radicalization of the class struggle. The uncertainty and insecurity of the future, the rising numbers of those excluded from the production process and pushed to the margins of a life of misery and mere survival, put this system of exploitation into question.

The French writer Jacques Attali describes with poignant realism this new scenario that comes to reality at an accelerated speed in the opulent West:

“Europe hasn’t changed really, only in a certain way of conceiving social order, a totally new capitalism is coming up, a global capitalism which will modify profoundly the role of the States and nations in the world. A capitalism driven by new forces where a new elite will emerge and where the totality of the traditional classes will be proletarianized. Very soon, in the place of the wage-earner there will be but a huge declassed proletariat; a triumphant superclass will float in the muddy waters of misery and the price of success of a tiny minority will be the marginalization of the majority and the violence of the underclass”.

Faced with this disturbing social radiography the States have enormous difficulties conserving the consensus about its institutions and about the growing popular protests, some of which take a clear distance from the officially approved mode of actions of the parties and “labor” unions domesticated and loyal to their friends the bosses, instead developing autonomous and self regulating forms of struggle.

So, what will be the formula the States adopt to contain the general discontent and radicalization of the social struggles within acceptable limits? No more nor less than give full powers to its oppressive institutions to make an end to this rising situation, together with an obsessive and paranoid insistence on the perfecting of its “war on terrorism” machinery and on “law and order”, political euphemisms for the control and elimination of all dissidence, real, potential, or imagined. Whether the repression uses its instrument of war (police, rubber bullets, lead bullets, frame-ups, arbitrary detentions, etc.) or not depends on the level of the class struggle. Today, it is before the eyes of the whole world that the State deploys and boasts about its coercive and repressive means of power, undoubtly a sign of the fact that the conflict between exploited and exploiters has risen considerably.

The first “victims” of the repressive beast of the State are of course the rebellious proletarians who have become conscious of their situation as exploited and oppressed and who struggle in the first lines against the power and all its expressions. In the midst of this insurgent proletariat are the anarchists, declared opponents of the imposition of State and Capital, and standing for a political and social project close to the socialist ideas, according to which it is the workers who are the one and only producers of social wealth, and who can and have to liberate themselves from the domination of the capitalist bourgeoisie so as to be once and for all masters of their lives and of their future. Even those who only have the slightest knowledge of the principles which animate anarchism, know that anti-authoritarianism and anti-capitalism are the foundation of anarchist theory and practice. The anarchists are sworn enemies of all hierarchies, of whatever imposition or domination, wherever it comes from or whatever one may call it; fierce defenders of life and freedom, of self-determination and independence of the individual and the people s/he belongs to, desiring a self regulated society as the only base on which we can build a more just, equal and free world.

It is at that moment, when the proletariat prepares itself to take the initiative and its longing for freedom has awoken, as happened numerous times in the course of its existence as a class, that the State throws off its mask and shows its real ugly face, violent and criminal, whatever liberal or democratic ornaments it is clouded in. The methods the State uses to end the proletarian revolts are known by all of us, its hands are drowned in innocent blood. We remember the infamous GAL, the bask-spanish battalion and other armed gangs organized by the state, destinated to sow fear and terror within the population, inert and stunned when one after the other those who had the courage to question and to struggle against the system fell. Let’s remember also in Italy the bombs at the Plaza Fontana in Milan or in the train station of Bologna, which caused the death of hundreds of people. Till today, these atrocities have still not been completely resolved; the Italian State merely recognized the implication of some men of its secret services in these barbarian and criminal acts. But as much as they want to cover up, we know the truth: the attacks were planned and ordered at the highest regions of power; it was state terrorism which, in a desperate attempt to counter the revolutionary offensive of the proletariat, is responsible for hundreds of innocent deaths.

More recently, the Italian State brought numerous anarchists before its Holy Courts of inquisition on the accusation of being members of an incredible, if not to say grotesque, hierarchical, armed organization, with leaders, lieutenants and action commandos. All this went hand in hand with a criminalisation campaign which incited to a real hunt for anarchists. All those who declared themselves for the revolution and libertarian communism or had whatever relationship with anarchism were systematically persecuted and imprisoned. The hunt soon had some results and did cost the lives of two anarchist comrades, Soledad and Eduardo, dead thanks to the State when they found themselves locked up in its vile prisons.

Things haven’t changed since. The State continues to use political-judicial constructions as weapons to suffocate the centers of the proletarian resistance which arise everywhere where the social contradictions are most harsh. As in the case of the three anarchist comrades from Madrid accused of having sent letter bombs to journalists in the service of the most reactionary Spanish newspapers. The operation is designed and executed, as is usual in such cases, by the offices of the ministry of interiors, the provincial brigade or, which comes to the same, the political police, which assures that the accused be brought before the judicial authorities charged with opening the doors of prison where one will learn the significance of pain, suffering and powerlessness. Proofs? Maintaining relationships with anarchists and imprisoned rebellious proletarians. Nevertheless, to make sure that the judicial constructions produce the wanted results it is necessary to bring in essential elements such as public lynching, the personal and political discrediting of the suspects, and the moral condemnation of their acts, their ways of being, of feeling, of thinking. The communication media of the State play a crucial role in this aspect and prepare the ground so as to enable the repression to act unpunished, they charge themselves with criminalizing and slandering the individuals, groups and collectives considered inconvenient and embarrassing for those in power. The game is really perverse: the journalists give the signal and accuse, the courts condemn and the prisons execute.

This education of the consciousness of the masses, always occupied with demonstrating the unprovable, that is, that this world as it is organized now is the best of all possible worlds, excellent manipulators of reality and unequalled artists of distortion; they call lying and slander “freedom of expression”, media lynching “right of information”; they mark as “terrorism” the active solidarity with the political oppressed imprisoned for life in the extermination centers of capitalism, cover the tortures and assassinations committed every day in the police stations and prisons, the annihilation of rebellious proletarians in the isolation wings under the FIES label, the dispersion, the slow and painful death of the incurable and terminal sick prisoners, all this while appealing to the omnipotent “Constitutional and Democratic State”.

Faced with a scenario one can define, without too much dramatics, as Dantesque, there are only two options: either blind and devoted submission to the domination of capitalism, or the spontaneous and passionate rebellion against all that oppresses and exploits us.

· The closing down of the isolation units and abolition of the FIES

· An end to all dispersions

· Immediate release of all incurable prisoners


Michele Pontolillo, Italian anarchist prisoner imprisoned in the extermination center of Villabona (Asturias).