MIR Italy press release.
English version from the original “Ora, non come prima”.
“Now, not as before!
The International Movement for Reconciliation (M.I.R.) – Italian branch of the International Fellowship of Reconciliation (I.F.O.R.), for nearly 70 years has affirmed and witnessed nonviolence as a way of life, as a tool of reconciliation in truth and personal conversion, but also as a way of social, political and economic transformation.The M.I.R. Italy campaigns affirm the values of peace and contrast the perverse logic of war, in the awareness that conflicts – on a national and international level – are increased by injustice, discrimination and the impoverishment of the natural environment.
The serious social and health emergency generated by the Covid-19 pandemic is dramatically exposing the effects of a disastrous world system, which, through the unbridled consumism, the greedy pursuit of profit, the luxury of the few, the arms race, the capitalist economy, not only destroys the nature of the planet and leaves billions of people in misery, but neglects and even threatens the health of the whole of humanity. In fact, this pandemic is also a consequence of the disruption of ecological balances. The unseen evils that are roaming among us are not just viruses, and weapons and armies are not needed to cure them. We repeat it with conviction: it is not a matter of making war but of caring for human beings and planet Earth.
The health crisis is also offering edifying testimonies of self-sacrifice and service to the community, in particular by health personnel and examples of solidarity and international cooperation, offered by distant states, such as China, Cuba, Russia, which have sent doctors and medical supplies to Italy. These are important signs of a rediscovery of values on which to start social life after the pandemic: to save human lives, to ensure a peaceful life for all, in clean natural habitats, respecting fundamental rights, caring for the most vulnerable in society, helping the poor, welcoming migrants, being close to the elderly, the lonely, to prisoners, to women victims of violence.
The militaristic narrative that is made, with the use of warlike metaphors to talk about such a health emergency, is strident: we are not at war against an enemy who has an interest in winning, but in treatment for a disease that has been added to many other evils from which to cure us, us and the whole planet … It is a situation very different from wars, which are prepared, planned and wanted by men who fight and kill each other. War is a tragic human choice, the disease is not. The cure is done with love, compassion, solidarity, service, without discrimination and without hate for anyone. The use of militaristic language would lead to accusing of defeatism those who disagree and criticize the measures decided by the rulers. Instead, the rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution, in particular the freedom of expression, must be safeguarded even at this stage. The practices of social control, such as the use of drones, tracking apps and 5G to detect the movement of individuals, are of concern; practices which at first sight are necessary and accepted by the people, but which, if used improperly, would be a threat to the rights of individuals and democracy. Also with regard to confinement in the home, it is to be hoped that remote working and online education are not taken as permanent forms of work and study, because they would lead to the atomisation of workers and students, and therefore to a decline in social participation.
In addition to the war language, there is a process of militarization of the territory, with the use of military resources (structures and personnel), which, if they are temporarily necessary, it is because an adequate health service and civil structures, such as civil protection capable of dealing with such serious situations, have not been organized. We have fighter planes capable of astonishing destructive operations, with pilots who have helmets that cost half a million each, but there is a lack of devices for the assisted ventilation of the sick. And yet, even at this stage, the weapons factories have been incredibly considered “essential activities”, even in this phase, of work that is risky for the health of the workers, and the government has allowed them to remain in operation, while all the other industries have been shut down. But people are finally realizing the iniquity of the system; in particular the appalling sums of money used to prepare for war, for the production and purchase of armaments, for research in the war sector, for military operations, while resources are lacking for social welfare and health services, for the protection of the territory from disasters and for investments in the ecological field (Green New Deal).
The identification of the legitimate concept of ‘defence’ with the military-industrial complex has distorted its profound sense of protection of the security of the citizens. Instead of converting the factories of death into investments in the medical, social-assistance and educational fields, there is a further militarization of the institutions, even the educational ones such as the school, giving the armed forces tasks and roles which, on the contrary, must remain the competence of a civil protection which is increasingly decentralized and rooted in the territory. In recent years, by cutting back on public health and privatising its services, many hospital facilities have been closed, which now field hospitals cannot replace, but which strengthen the image of an emergency, top-down and militarised civil protection.
An alternative model of civil nonviolent defence and an innovative model of civil protection, with the employment of young people in civil service and the active participation of local communities, is what the M.I.R. Italy has always supported, until (with the Campaign “Another Defence is Possible” conducted with the Networks of the Peace, Disarmament, Civil Service areas) the presentation in Parliament of the proposed law of popular initiative for the establishment and financing of the Department for Civil, unarmed and nonviolent Defence.
The health crisis is also causing a serious economic-financial and perhaps public order crisis in Italy and in the world. It will be necessary to transfer private wealth to the State, in order to meet debts and expenses in this recessionary phase. We ask immediately the Government and Parliament not to make the poor sectors of society pay for the crisis, but in the name of distributive justice, make those who have more pay more.
We should all become conscious of the need to change course, change scale of values, change lifestyles, change objectives to be achieved, change ways of understanding security and defence, and therefore change national and international politics and economics. After the world wars, states felt the need to create new organisms such as the League of Nations, the UN, the European Union, with the aim of avoiding other wars.
Thus after this health crisis we call for:
– implementation of new policies, in the spirit of collaboration, trust, nonviolence, peace;
– real reform of the UN in a democratic sense, that work to avoid wars;
– withdraw from the competitive and imperialist logic between states and prefer international cooperation;
– achievement of disarmament, starting with nuclear disarmament as decided by the UN General Assembly on 7 July 2017;
– reduction of the military expenditures and allocating to civilian purposes a large part of the billions dedicated to the armed forces; staring with the cancellation of the purchase of other very expensive F-35 fighters and of four new U-212A submarines, which cost more than 2 billions.
May Italy, which is paying heavily for this pandemic – and will certainly never want to re-live such a tragedy again – be both an example and a stimulus for other nations. Unfortunately, more recently, the appeals of the UN Secretary General and Pope Francis for a ceasefire in all areas of war have received little attention.
Let us not lose hope. We invite everyone to be peacemakers, advocates of a more just, equal and supportive society. We invite everyone to join this month’s Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS) – The Global Days of Action on Military Spending for 2020, to ask governments around the world to move funds from military facilities to health, from war to peace.