Berlusconi’s lackeys want to ban our books. They started from Venice. Let’s fight back!

N.B. UPDATES BELOW, IN THE COMMENT SECTION
[English translation of the "call to arms" we issued yesterday. We asked readers to fight back, and fighting they are! All the suggestions we gave at the end of this article are being enthusiastically put into practice, improved and shared by multitudes of people who are horrified by what is taking place in the Venice area. Publishers are making statements and releasing communiqués, the national media are starting to cover the affair, the National Association of Librarians (AIB) has strongly condemned the proposal and invited readers to counter any attempt at censoring and banning books. However, this isn't enough yet. We need people abroad to be aware of what's going on, there's a stench of nazi book burnings in Italy, and the case of fugitive "ex-terrorist" Cesare Battisti (now in Brazil) is nothing more than an excuse for repression. The period of a regime's decline may be very long, and it's the most dangerous period, as the lackeys get more and more desperate and resort to all kinds of senseless acts in order to keep their  grip on society. Thanks to Gregorio Magini of Scrittura Industriale Collettiva for translating our piece, we really wouldn't have had time to do it! In the next few hours we'll provide translations in French, Spanish and Catalan. We badly need a Portuguese version. French-speaking readers can already read Serge Quadruppani's article on Rue 89.]
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The best words, given the circumstances, were found by our colleague Serge Quadruppani. Here they are, translated from French:

“Fascistoid folly has the power to struck us dumb: the moronic grossness of some statements can leave us speechless. This thing is so stupid that one is tempted to just shrug it off and think about something else. But this grossness and this folly have very practical effects. If we allow the spreading of the mere idea that official blacklists can be written (not to speak about the real practice) to ban people who don’t yield to the dictatorship of sadness, to ban whoever refuses to accept the dominant view about this or that event of the past, then we capitulate to a conception of society closer to Ben Ali’s Tunisia than to the one dreamt in Europe by the Enlightenment and the Resistance. Luckily, recent history shows that, on balance, victory is not always assured for big and small Ben Alis.”

Preliminary warning: the Battisti case here is just a pretext. If they didn’t have that, they would find another. For this reason, in this article we will not talk about the specifics of that affair. Those who know only the official version repeated to nausea by media and politicians, can find alternative information on Carmilla [1]. Those who want to discuss about it will have to do it elsewhere (the web is full of blogs and forum boards). Our position is sufficiently well known, as we’ve been writing about, carefully choosing every word, trying to keep a good balance [2]. But now the matter is entirely different, as understood by the colleague Carlo Lucarelli, who sent us this message:

«On the “Battisti case” – both the man and the affair – we have different positions, but what they’re trying to do with this proscription list is really a dirty trick, an act of censorship of dissent. I didn’t sign the petition in favor of Battisti but I am willing to back any reasonable initiative against this squalid operation worthy of a stupid dictatorship.»

And now the facts:

The Assessor for Culture of the province of Venice, a guy called Speranzon – a former activist of the MSI [the old neo-fascist party, active from 1946 to 1994] and now a member of Berlusconi’s party – approved a proposal from a party colleague and will order Venetian libraries to:
1) Remove from shelves all the books written by any author who signed a 2004 petition asking for Cesare Battisti’s release from jail;
2) Abstain from organizing events featuring such writers (they must be declared “undesirable persons”, he says).
Any librarian who will not accept this diktat “will be held responsible” of his behavior. Is this a hint about fund freezing, withdrawal of patronage, mobbing, hostile media campaigning?
The proposal was lauded by the COISP, a policemen union. The poor librarian will think twice, before opposing local authorities and the police.
A clique of “honest democratic citizens” is already trying to extend the thing to the whole Veneto, and the initiative is likely to be emulated beyond regional borders.

The following statements by Speranzon can be read on the newspaper “Il Gazzettino” [3]:

«I will write to the Assessors for Culture of the Municipalities of the Venetian area, seeing that these persons are declared undesirable and, since local libraries are integrated within a provincial system, I will ask them to remove the books from the shelves […] I will ask not to promote book presentations by these authors: every Municipality can act freely, but it will be held responsible. Moreover, as a Venice city councilman, I will forward a motion so that Venice sets an example first […] We will write to region assessors Marino Zorzato e Elena Donazzan, asking them to extend the initiative to the whole Veneto.»

Now, the mere fact that anyone could conceive a thing like this shows that the sinking of Italy is reaching new, nauseating depths. We are now drilling the bottom of the Mariana Trench, surrounded by blind and deformed fishes, in search of the darkest darkness that can be found in the universe.
What are we going to do? Dwell at the bottom of the pit with these gloomy, wicked deep-sea inhabitants, or resurface?
The sun is up there, for those who want to see it again.

Many of us are in the proscription list: we, Valerio Evangelisti, Massimo Carlotto, Tiziano Scarpa, Nanni Balestrini, Daniel Pennac, Giuseppe Genna, Giorgio Agamben, Girolamo De Michele, Vauro, Lello Voce, Pino Cacucci, Christian Raimo, Sandrone Dazieri, Loredana Lipperini, Marco Philopat, Gianfranco Manfredi, Laura Grimaldi, Antonio Moresco, Carla Benedetti, Stefano Tassinari and many others.
They would almost have to leave the shelves empty.
And maybe, this is their dream.

Quadruppani is right: we can’t react with a shrug, say that “it’s only taunting”, suggest indifference as a mean to “avoid publicity for certain people”. Sometimes that is the right thing to do, but not always.
Of course, this is also taunting , but it’s mostly something else:
1) It’s a threat against an entire category of workers (librarians). They should accept an authoritarian and unconstitutional ultimatum, or else pay dearly.
2) It’s an act aimed at isolating and censoring writers and artists as “moral accomplices” to terrorism. An act by an administrator, a person of authority, who appeals to the gut feelings of the “ordinary folks” by waving a scarecrow that diverts their attention from other problems. An act that wants to intimidate and “keep in line” those who produce public discourse.
As our colleague Tiziano Scarpa put it: «This puts in peril the citizenship of a writer, which lies in its language and its works.» [4]

We should all react against this rubbish, not just the writers that are directly involved or the librarians that are directly threatened.
- Citizens, readers, library goers should make themselves heard.
- Administrators, political organizations and associations in the Venice areashould make themselves heard.
- Whoever works in the media, or has a blog or you-name-it, should write about this.
- The National Association of Librarians should say something.
- Public administration unions should say something.
- Publishers should take action and file a lawsuit against an initiative that damages them economically and morally.
Protest mails to newspapers should be sent, fliers and open letters should be affixed to the bulletin boards of libraries and reading rooms.
- Articles should be shared and linked, like this one (we will post constant updates at the bottom [of the Italian original version, T.N.]) or any other text or video that informs about this guy, his liberticidal intentions and about possible initiatives by his imitators and cronies.

Some of the blacklisted authors, and some authors that aren’t on the list, are discussing, coordinating, evaluating the best actions available, including lawsuits. But if they will move alone, the censorship will win. The threat is against everybody: writers, readers, and whoever loves multiplicity of points of view on any topic. If we underestimate the initiative because it’s stupid, a precedent will be set. This initiative is all the more dangerous because it’s stupid. As blogger Mazzetta acutely points out, they want to affirm a principle on the base of which it would be perfectly normal to

«apply a moral filter when selecting books, on the grounds of the behaviors of their authors, and their ideological and political adherence to the will of the governing majority.
As if tomorrow Berlusconi fell in disgrace, and someone proposed to banish from all Italian libraries the books written by whoever supported or defended him, as if literary works could and should be selected depending on the moral and political credential of the author.» [5]

UPDATES BELOW, IN THE COMMENT SECTION

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NOTES
1. Dossier sul caso Battisti, carmillaonline.com
2. Wu Ming 1, «Cesare Battisti. Quello che i media non dicono», March 2004
3.«La Provincia di Venezia “mette al rogo” i libri di chi firmò la petizione per Battisti», Il Gazzettino, January 16 2011
4. «Una prassi da dittatura», interview to Tiziano Scarpa, Corriere del Veneto, January 16 2011.
5. Il commento di Mazzetta sulla sordida iniziativa
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35 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Netto says:

    Hello, I am a translator from Brazil, I volunteer to translate your article  to Brazilian Portuguese.

  2. Wu Ming says:

    Thank you very much, Netto!

  3. mark says:

    Have forwarded this link to LRB and Guardian – hopefully they can help in making more people aware of this threat.  Reminds me somewhat of the legal case against the US punk band The Dead Kennedys during the mid-80s.  This resulted in the No More Censorship fund to support and defend artists facing a similar position – maybe we need something similar now?

    Any suggestions on what people in the UK can do to fight this?

    Good luck

    matk

  4. Wu Ming says:

    Many thanks, Matk, we’ve been knee-deep in this campaign, and didn’t have the time to follow all paths. Anyway, they’re feeling the pressure. We’ve got some results at last. Our mobilisation was covered by the national radios and newspapers, it grew bigger and bigger, until the President of the Province of Venice, Francesca Zaccariotto, felt obliged to disavow Speranzon’s initiative, and disassociate the institution she administers from any official attempt at purging libraries. She stated that “libraries must remain free”. She said that Speranzon had acted “as an individual” [a livello personale]. This isn’t enough, and it’s controversial to boot. Of course Speranzon had spoken in his capacity of public administrator: his statements are clear and unequivocal. A public administrator cannot advocate banning books and authors “as an individual”. He cannot announce that he’ll send a circular letter from his office (inevitably under the Province’s official stationery) to other institutions (public libraries) and then defend himself saying that it was personall communication. This guy should be forced to resign, certainly he can’t be an Assessor for Culture. Thus, the mobilisation continues.

    As to what people can do in the UK and elsewhere: please keep forwarding links, keep posting related material, keep trying to raise the interest of your national media, and if you know people who can (and have time to) translate stuff from Italian, that would be great. Ciao!

  5. Wu Ming says:

    P.S. Librarians from the Veneto region are reporting “unofficial” pressure to remove certain books from their libraries’ shelves. Eg Roberto Saviano’s books.

  6. Wu Ming says:

    They’re still trying, by other means, and the attempt is now at regional level, it involves the whole Veneto region instead of the Province of Venice. The vice-governor of Veneto Marino Zorzato (a member of PDL, Berlusconi’s party), who is also the Regional Assessor for Human Resources, Sports and Culture, stated to the local press:

    “As ours is a liberal party [!], it is difficult for us to conceive censorship. Instead, we could find a way to inform the library user, to make clear who is the author of any book and what position he took in the Battisti affair.”

  7. Wu Ming says:

    The situation has gotten much worse. The Assessor for Education of the Veneto Region, Donazzan (of the Northern League) announced that she will write to all the principals, asking them to remove from school libraries the books written by the authors who signed the 2004 petition for Cesare Battisti.

  8. Jaquou says:

    Solidarity from Greece! I’ll try to spread the word of what’s going on as soon as I can…

  9. Nathalie says:

    I suggest that the books should be in priority and massively borrowed by the readers: while in their possession, they can’t be destryoed.

  10. Wu Ming says:

    UPDATES (CURRENTLY ONLY IN ITALIAN BUT THERE ARE TRANSLATORS AT WORK) – THE LINKS ARE IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER

     
    ITALIAN – A (very partial) list of the books these guys would like to ban:
    http://loredanalipperini.blog.kataweb.it/lipperatura/2011/01/17/pennac-fuorilegge-a-venezia/

    ITALIAN – An update on our campaign’s early results
    http://www.carmillaonline.com/archives/2011/01/003755.html#003755

    ITALIAN – The articles published by La Repubblica and L’Unità:
    http://loredanalipperini.blog.kataweb.it/lipperatura/2011/01/18/il-contesto/

    ITALIAN – A librarian from Veneto tells about “unofficial” pressure to remove Saviano’s books
    http://loredanalipperini.blog.kataweb.it/lipperatura/2011/01/19/dagli-scaffali-si-tolga-saviano/

    ITALIAN – Censorship’s crazy escalation: Veneto’s Assessor for Education tells principals to remove our books from school libraries (please note that Veneto is an important place: one of the wealthiest regions in Italy, as well as one of the most strategically important for both Berlusconi and the Northern League; usually what happens there gets “exported” to the whole country)
    http://www.absolutepoetry.org/Hai-firmato-l-appello-per-Battisti

  11. Wu Ming says:

    The hashtag for this campaign on Twitter is #rogodilibri, which means “bonfire of books”

  12. dude says:

    Last months BookBlocs have given these (Z)ombies (SperanZon, Zorzato, Zaccariotto, DonaZZan…oops…sorry http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqNQbdD3kLw ) a “holy” mission.
    If, like Wu Ming has written:
    ” …it is culture itself that’s resisting the cuts; books themselves are fighting the police..”
    it now looks like the “Karma Police” is gradually confiscating them,
    with the help of the “Z” people in Italy, the “NC” people in the rest of the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo_con) they are steadily dimming “the light of our souls, the torch that ought to guide us along the road to happiness and progress”. 

    Wether consciously or not students have symbolicaly exposed the sacrifice
    we are all allowing to take place: that of culture in the name of false progress. I think there will be not much left very soon, but synthetic garbage on the shelves, no more organic food for thought free to pick and digest.
    And even worse, nothing much left but each our own individual self to immolate on the altar of market economy.

  13. Wu Ming says:

    REMOVE SAVIANO’S BOOKS FROM LIBRARY SHELVES!
    by Loredana Lipperini (original text here, translated by V)

     
    Let’s call her “Em”.
    I have erased and replaced her name also in previous comments by her and by other readers.
    “Em” works in a public library of the Province of Treviso, I will not tell in which town. I want to protect her identity, and also to thank her for her courage.

    “Em” has told here, and then privately, a story regarding libraries, once again. The day after the Speranzon Case (on which you can find an important article by Massimo Carlotto on Carmilla, by the way), a breach is opening: many librarians are contacting me and Michela Murgia, in order to denounce explicit or underlying forms of censorship.
    Some episodes are already well-known: for instance when, in October 2009, the mayor of Musile di Piave asked the library of his town get rid of “politically-oriented” newspapers, namely “La repubblica” and “Il manifesto”.
    Here you can read the official reply from AIB (TN the National Association of Librarians), which has also taken an official stance on the “Speranzon case”. Another episode of censorship dates to May 2009, when a library in Genoa was requested to block the public initiative “Due regine due re” [“Two queens two kings"].

    Back to “Em”, now. We are in the immediate aftermath of the broadcasting of Vieni Via Con Me [TN a popular TV show on the national channel RAI 3, featuring Roberto Saviano]. One of the library supervisors, vaguely embarrassed, tells his librarians about the criticisms he received from the Mayor (a member of the Northern League). More or less in the same days, the local Councillor for Culture has also expressed his concern: he has noted that one of the librarians is cataloguing works by Marco Paolini [TN a popular left-wing actor in Italy] and, as “Em” refers, “he has explicitly asked to be informed in advance of our new acquisitions, in order to give us his indisputable and binding advice” The supervisor suggests opting for a soft line: to remove the books from shelf, just “until the dust settles”.
    “Em” then asks for a written order, which will never come. Christmas comes, a New Year begins. Now, Saviano’s books are formally registered in the library catalogue: yet they are materially missing from shelf. Nobody answers those who ask why.
    “Em” says: “I decided to write because I had to share my sadness with someone”.
    I really thank her for this, and I invite more librarians to write, and tell us more stories. When the stories proliferate, and when they become a collective heritage, they also gain strength.
    An update from Il Corriere Veneto: The Regional Councillor for Education, Donazzan, declares that she will write a letter (with the formal support of Governor Zaia) to all the Headmasters of the Region of Veneto (and through them, to all teachers), asking not to let the works of the blacklisted authors circulate among the youth. To those who denounce her act as a censorship, she replies that hers is not an imposition, but a “political address”.

  14. [...] has told here, and then privately, a story regarding libraries, once again. The day after the Speranzon Case (on which you can find an important article [in Italian] by Massimo Carlotto on Carmilla, by the [...]

  15. Vladi says:

    Ciao a tutti,
    tra le altre cose ho spedito una mail, con il link in inglese, sperando in un feedback a: amleft.blogspot.com
     
     

  16. [...] Berlusconi’s lackeys want to ban our books. They started from Venice. Let’s fight back! … (wumingfoundation.com) [...]

  17. [...] ENGLISH – Berlusconi’s Lackeys Want to Ban Our Books [...]

  18. Wu Ming says:

    UPDATES BY LELLO VOCE
    YOU SIGNED THAT PETITION? WE’LL BURN YOUR BOOKS!

    I believe the facts are now known by all: from the invitation to ban from
    Venice’s libraries the books by the authors who signed ­ in 2004 ­ a plea
    for the liberation of Cesare Battisti, writer and former member of the PAC
    terrorist group, initiated by a Martellago PDL town councillor, to the
    enthusiastic endorsement by the Provincial Venetian Councillor, Mr.
    Speranzon. A former MSI party member who joined the PDL, he piled it on,
    declaring we are Œpersonae non gratae¹ in the  Province of Venice and
    threateningly inviting all boroughs to either behave like that, or incur the
    responsibility (and therefore accept the consequencesŠ one might want to
    ask, whichŠ).
    Many of us have been blacklisted, authors with very different literary and
    political positions, united only by the fact of having dared to utter a word
    in defence of the diabolic red terrorist, of having raised some doubts on
    the official version of the facts.

    First of all it is worthwhile to clarify that yours truly did not sign that
    plea because I share, or have ever shared Battisti and the PACs’ political
    choices. In those years I was doing quite other things, I’m a child of the
    Œchemical generation¹, a former metropolitan Indian, in love with Radio
    Alice and Gregory Corso, Laing, Benjamin, Danilo Dolci and Brazilian
    poets-singers, who has never had any type of proximity, neither to the Red
    Brigades, nor to any group large or small that thought our nation’s
    screeching contradictions could be solved by arming oneself. On the
    contrary, I charge them with a large part of the responsibility for turning
    my youth in a sort of sad and unpleasant pendulum of bombs, checkpoints,
    snipers on rooftops and leg-shootings. For having contributed, in other
    words, to reducing my freedom and my happiness Š.
    The PACs and Battisti are no exception.
    But I am used to reasoning with my own head, gathering information, trying
    to understandŠ

    I thus reached the conclusion that a good part of the charges hanging over
    Battisti’s head are unfounded, that a quite obvious doggedness is at play
    against him, I have especially become convinced that the time has come to
    look for a Œpolitical¹ solution that comes to terms with those years, a
    solution that coincides with a deeper understanding, brave and with no
    deception of what the 70s actually were, in order to reach which all,
    Battisti including, as well as Moretti, Faranda, Zorzi, Freda, Delle Chiaie,
    Fioravanti, Mambro, Mori and all his Top Brass colleagues, the politicos,
    the judges, the members of the State’s secret apparatuses who survived that
    age, should at last have the courage to tell this nation the truths it has
    been denied for too long.

    That’s why I signed that plea: because I believe it is now time to make
    clarity, to lift the veils, to reject shortcuts, to unmask what should be
    unmasked, whoever is hiding behind the mask..
    only that way, according to me, we shall be safe from the repetition of
    certain tragedies, which are always lying in wait, squatting behind the
    corner of History.

    Secondly, it should be stated very clearly, so that the following will not
    seem pure Œideologism¹, that the Battisti case has the malignant ability of
    making even Œheads¹ who do a lot more thinking and are a lot more democratic
    than the Illustrious Speranzon completely lose their bearings.

    I refer to the recent, and quite astonishing, contribution by an
    intellectual as esteemed as Tabucchi on Le Monde, in which the writer hurls
    himself against some French intellectuals such as Levy, Sollers, Vargas,
    guilty of having defended the Œarmed writer¹, based on the assumption that
    judges in Italy are a category above all suspects, that what they establish
    is, without the shadow of a doubt, the truth. Including the Battisti
    Affaire, obviously.

    If even Tabucchi lets himself be ensnared by generalization, by the facility
    of false syllogism, thanks to which, based on the merits a part of these
    judges have acquired in the struggle against the Mafia, or against political
    corruption, but forgetting the responsibility that many of them had in the
    rising fog that covers so many tragic pivot points in this country, from
    Piazza Fontana to Genoa 2001, one concludes that any judge is, by
    preconception, (notwithstanding, as the great comedian Totò would have said)
    a fair judge, not only have we reached the end of our tether, we have gone
    far beyond, we are now literally at the end of the road.

    I do not feel much sympathy for Henry Bernard Levy, either, but it is
    superficial presumption to hope to solve the debate, like Tabucchi still
    does, appealing to a wholly supposed wholesome goodness of a category as
    such: that of the judges.
    There are the Œermine-lined fighters¹, but there have been and, alas, there
    still are, also those that in the seventies we used to call the
    Œermine-lined guards¹, the ones who believe in Œactive fainting¹, bullets
    deviated in flight by flying stones, the ones who for years have devoted
    themselves to covering up inconvenient trials, the ones who have sold
    themselves to Cavalier B., etc.
    Tabucchi has perhaps forgotten events that he should indeed know very well?
    Does he really believe that a sad and tragic business such as armed struggle
    can be solved in such a Manichaean way, dividing the world in goodies and
    baddies? Only through the sentences issued by courts? Does it not seem
    excessively ŒManzonian¹ to him?
    Has he perhaps forgotten that even Gran Lombardo maintained, in one of his
    corners buried inside the Novel, that he who commits evil is not only
    culpable for the evil he commits, but also for the turmoil he induces in the
    soul of the damaged persons?
    What sense does it have, then, to harshly criticise an intellectual merely
    for not accepting slavishly what this or that Italian judge has stated in
    their sentences? Even Napolitano, who Tabucchi never loses the opportunity
    to accuse (often rightly) of faintheartedness and institutional
    superficialityŠ
    Tabucchi knows very well that here in Ytally, often, juridical and
    historical-political truths do not coincide at all.
    The fact that this happens exactly one day after Marchionne’s Diktat is then
    particularly worrying, one fears that, yet again, the Parliamentarian Left
    is unable to interpret and manage the acute discomfort of vast swaths of the
    population, entrusting it wholesale to this or that adventurism and giving
    oneself in, hands and feet, to a metaphysical and apodictic idea of
    Œlegality¹, and I think of Saviano and his ill-advised, sad, presumptuous
    letter to the students who took to the streets on 14 December.

    But let us get to the point at last. The black point. To Speranzon: that’s
    what we are especially interested in discussing here and now.

    Beyond the violent arrogance that his request brings along, and which I
    think is evident to all, with its sinister Orwellian echoes, what is most
    striking is the idea that one can  prohibit, or in any case forbid from
    reading this or that book (or record, or theatre piece) based on the
    positions the author expresses on completely different topics.
    Here that is, they are not asking to ban from Venetian libraries, from
    public presentations, etc some books about the Battisti case, which, per se,
    would already be disgusting enough. No, they are doing more, they are asking
    to ban books on entirely different topics, based on the fact that they were
    written by persons politically disagreeable to Mr Alderman.
    We are beyond the worst nightmare: this is pure lunacyŠ
    When should we expect a ban on books by those who think that Mr B. is an
    embezzler, those who take a stand against Padanian Federalism, or those who
    openly declare they are gay, or who are in favour of anti-prohibitionist
    politics in the field of drugs? When will all authors supporting Roma, or
    Napoli F.C.be banned from Milan council libraries ?
    Were it not tragic, it would be, Benjaminially, farcical.

    I knew of the Alderman neo-fascist youthful indiscretions, but I thought it
    was in his interest not to let other people know.
    I was wrong: if anybody still had any doubts, they will now be objectively
    convinced that the  (black) wolf sheds his fleece, not his vice, and that if
    Speranzon’s tailor has in the meantime changed like his dress, hidden by the
    blue double-breasted jacket, tax advisor-style, he is always the good old
    Almirante follower.
    The habit does not make the monk, nor the democratic Alderman.
    It’s no accident I have never heard him take a stand with regards to people
    such as Zorzi, Izzo (who remained in Italy, and perhaps we would have been
    better advised ­ on balance ­ to ship him to Japan for him to be a waiter in
    one of Zorzi’s restaurants), the Veneto Skinheads Front, Freda etc., the
    list would indeed be sadly long.

    But there is more: it will seem strange to many, but Mr. Speranzon is an
    institutional figure, he represents, in the cultural field, the will of all
    the citizens of the Province of Venice, he therefore decides to exclude from
    fruition books purchased with public funds seems to me to be bordering
    embezzlement, as well as cockily illegitimate.
    The COISP police union has all the rights to call for a boycott against us,
    I take my hat off to that, although I dare to suggest in a whisper that, in
    the light of so many episodes that involved our police forces, even
    recently, a policeman urging not to read books has ­ per se ­ something
    sinister.
    Speranzon, instead, as representative of an Institution, should take great
    care not to make certain statements.
    Just as sinister is also the blackmailing hidden between the lines of the
    communiqué, which lets one understand that the censoring measures will not
    be taken against those authors who will withdraw their signatures from the
    plea: failing any other reason, this would suffice to lead me to sign it
    again, I am not used to giving in to blackmailing.
    Another education, another gene pool, as regards meŠ

    it should also be said, in a territory like ours, where neo-fascist
    arrogance has gone as far as assassination for trivial motives, in which
    intimidation, physical violence as lawful instrument for political struggle
    rule the roost, this kind of position, which joins the chorus of aggressive,
    leonine, growling grunts of many northern league representatives, can sound
    like an invitation and authorization to do more.
    Of this, Speranzon and his companions, cannot but take full responsibility.

    Finally: Speranzon invites us to have respect for the victims and their
    families. He’s right. I have never failed to show this respect, for all the
    victims and for all the families, whatever their political belief. For
    years, in fact, like a great many others, I have been asking to grant them
    the biggest respect: to finally lift the state secret on the many, too many
    obscure episodes which have afflicted our country’s recent history,
    involving hundreds of innocent lives with and without uniform.
    Nor do I think I failed to show it by signing that plea. If the official
    truth does not convince me, if I demand clarity, respect for national and
    international legality, if I pose doubts, if I probe, I don’t think I’m
    being disrespectful to anyone, let alone to the victims’ families, unless
    one thinks that any culprit, even if he was wholly innocent, is in any case
    better than no culprit.
    This would not serve the victims of red and black terrorism, nor their
    relatives, even less would it serve democracy.
    This kind of thing would be convenient only for those who are splendidly at
    ease at the centre of the pogrom.
    That’s the reason why I would sign that plea again, that’s the reason why I
    believe that Speranzon’s statements and initiatives are not only fascist,
    but essentially ridiculous and broadly pornographicŠ

    UPDATE 1

    The worst, Montale wrote, has no end. How right he wasŠ
    So, in the light of what a Veneto newspaper has published today, I’ll have
    to contribute again in this distressing business of censorship on books by
    the reprobates (myself and few dozens of other colleagues of all ages,
    gender and political belief, among whom prestigious and Œhistorical¹ names
    of Italian and international culture, such as Agamben, Sollers, or
    Balestrini) who signed in 2004 the plea for Cesare BattistiŠ

    The news, as of today, is as follows:

    a) The Educartion Alderwoman of the Region Veneto, the Northern League
    Donazzan, not content with having already seriously embarrassed even the
    Veneto diocesan administrations by deciding, unilaterally and unbeknownst to
    them, to spend public money to give Bibles as gift to all students of the
    Region’s schools, mocking the statements by the President of the Province of
    Venice, Zaccariotto. Her colleague in the majority, she had hastily, cum
    grano salis, immediately delegitimized the initiative by the deleterious
    Alderman Speranzon, has today declared that, with the permission by Governor
    Zaia himself, he will write a letter to all Principals in the Veneto ( and
    through them to the teachers), urging them not to diffuse among young people
    the works by the banned authors. To those who object she is carrying out
    censorship, she replies, with supposed pre-emptive acumen, that hers is not
    an imposition (and how could she?), but a ³political guideline².
    Now, taking for granted what I have already said about the censorship of
    books about quite other  matters than the Battisti events and censorship
    more in general, I feel the need to inform the Alderwoman that her
    institutional tasks do not include giving ³political guidelines² to teachers
    in the schools of the Republic, who do not report to her, neither by right
    nor by fact, and whose teaching freedom is guaranteed by a specific article
    of our Constitutional Charter.
    There is a tendency to privatize Institutions, here in Italy, which has by
    now gone beyond any limits, as if carrying out an institutional role was the
    passe partout for any operation, as if ­ managing this or that Institution ­
    one became their owner.
    And that’s very sad, as well as far from democratic and broadly subversive.
    On the other hand, since I am a teacher, as Mrs. Donazzan can easily
    understand, I am twice embarrassed.
    Given that I don’t spend my time talking to students about my extremely
    mediocre works, but explaining to them Dante, Petrarca, Boccaccio, Leopardi,
    Foscolo, Pasolini, Fortini, Sanguineti, Gramsci, etc.. (all people, I
    realise, who in the Alderwoman’s opinion should evidently be barred from the
    curriculum, in view of what they thought about freedom, of censorship and
    the Unity of Italy itself), how will I be able to go on teaching?
    If my books are to be burned, what should be done with my didactics?
    Are you perhaps suggesting I should be sacked? And what would the Œrightful
    reason¹ be? Having expressed freely my opinion, my political judgement,
    which does not coincide with Hers?
    Is there somebody who can warn the Alderwoman that she also lives in a
    liberal, democratic society, in the rule of law and she cannot afford to
    treat this Region as if it were an annex to her house?
    I also read that Governor Zaia declares of ³having no difficulty in
    confirming that there are people [us signatories] who do not represent us
    worthily². The Governor can rest assured that I agree with himŠ meaning him,
    evidently. Those who appoint certain Aldermen certainly cannot guarantee
    democratic and liberal governance in a region, nor represent it to satisfy
    me or any sincerely democratic personŠ

    b) Cheered up by the unexpected Padanian help, the former MSI Speranzon is
    back to the charge, despite his President and now says he wants to organize
    a public debate at the Ateneo Veneto (I wonder whether those of the Ateneo
    know about itŠ) and that bright example of free intellectualism called
    Stefano Zecchi apparently has already accepted to take part in it ­ in his
    opinion we would be somehow obliged to participate because we Œmust¹
    (imperative!) explain why we are defending a criminal.
    I’m sorry Alderman: you can organise what you like, but I shall never take
    part in such a debate Š
    Firstly because I have nothing to say on the Battisti case: I signed a plea
    for the reasons I have already expounded in my previous essay, I am not
    Battisti’s lawyer, I did not take part, neither practically, nor morally, in
    his political choices and therefore for this debate you must turn somewhere
    else.
    If you want we can discuss the Italian emergency Legislation of those times,
    or the leaden years. But that’s another business.
    On the other hand I want to discuss quite other matters: your censor’s will,
    your thinking you’ve got the right to decide what is read in Veneto, what is
    taught and even ­ considering that, as Town Councillor of Venice (oh yes: he
    is also Town Councillor of Venice, the political personnel here is reduced
    to the minimum, it is not a mater of accumulation of posts, but of
    austerityŠ) he says he wants the Town Council to commit to declaring us
    ³unwelcome guests² –  even who walks the streets of the town.
    This is the problem we are really interested in discussing in a democracy.
    None other.
    A mystery remains: how will the poor Agamben manage to go to work,
    considering that he teaches Aesthetics exactly at IUAV in Venice?
    Will they move the college to Chioggia, or will he be sacked as well?

  19. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Antonino Zappalà, Wu Ming Foundation. Wu Ming Foundation said: Updates by Lello Voce in English: You signed that petition? We'll burn your books! http://bit.ly/eAKM0X #lellovoce [...]

  20. [...] price of education, Libraries and Librarians are in danger of not following orders to essentially censor certain books. A collective of novelists there recently sent out this appeal: “We need people abroad to be [...]

  21. [...] WU Ming Foundation (English) – this is a little one sided but it’s the only one I found in English. [...]

  22. dude says:

    Some comments on the LRB on this disgusting fascist regurgitation.
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2011/01/20/tim-parks/bonfire-of-the-realities/
     
     

  23. [...] As if he didn’t have enough trouble, Silvio Berlusconi and his colleagues are picking a fight by trying to get books banned from Venice libraries. They include those by Wu Ming. Verso has a report here; Wu Ming themselves further details here.  [...]

  24. [...] a far uscire l’Italia da questo pantano sia l’Italia, stiamo freschi). Mantengo la promessa ─ inglese, castigliano, francese, catalano, portoghese ─ e passo ad altro. O forse [...]

  25. vf says:

    Still interested in media coverage from abroad?

  26. Wu Ming says:

    Yes of course. There are reports all over the world except in the English speaking media. That’s partly because we’ve been so hecticly active in the campaign that none of us has had time to translate more stuff into English… Anyway, we have won the first round, we’ll try to write a report in the next days. The battle goes on because they’re still trying to ban us in Venice.

  27. vf says:

    In the past days i had circulated the few available Engiish materials here in Canada, among a few grassroots media. A journalist has replied, saying they are willing to cover the story in a future issue. She also told me she needs some clarifications. Shall I give her directly your contact?
     

  28. Wu Ming says:

    Yes, please, do it. And thanks!

  29. vf says:

    Ok, please let me know which e-mail address I should give her.

  30. Wu Ming says:

    The best one is:

    wu_ming AT wumingfoundation.com

  31. [...] Aktuelle Infos beim Schriftsteller-Kollektiv Wu Ming. [...]

  32. Guy Montag says:

    German media also provides some coverage on the events. The two biggest daily papers have reported: the Sunday edition of the conservative “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (not online) and the liberal “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. There it says with allusion to the 1970s: “When in the Federal Republic […] writers were denounced as sympathisers of terrorism […] abroad ‘Committees for the defence of the Civil Rights in the FRG’ were formed, especially in Italy. Maybe now it’s time to worry about the state of the Civil Rights in Italy.” [rough translation] http://sueddeutsche.de/kultur/italien-der-index-der-lega-nord-1.1049249
    Another comment can be found in the centre-left weekly “Der Freitag”. They put it on page one: “The affair shows how a country’s political culture gets brutalised when populists govern.” http://www.freitag.de/kultur/1104-kommentar
    The French-German TV-Chanel “arte” had a report with statements by Speranzon and Massimo Carlotto.
    Just to let you know.

  33. Wu Ming says:

    Thank you very much, Guy, we had totally missed Der Freitag and didn’t know whether Arte had already broadcast their report.

  34. [...] of writers, known collectively as Wu Ming Foundation, published this summary of the facts on their blog: The Assessor for Culture of the province of Venice, a guy called Speranzon – a former activist [...]

  35. [...] Brambilla: La Ligue du Nord joue les censeurs. Courrier international (21 janvier 2011) Wu Ming: Berlusconi’s lackeys want to ban our books. They started from Venice. Let’s fight back (17 janvier 2011) Serge Quadruppan: Inquisition moderne : les bibliothèques vénitiennes purgées [...]


We are the Wu Ming Foundation, a collective of writers based in Italy. We are the authors of several novels and non-fiction books written with literary techniques (which we prefer to describe as UNOs, Unidentified Narrative Objects). As of February 2014, four of our novels are available in English: Q, 54, Manituana and Altai. This is our blog in English. Ugly and rarely updated, in bad need of a restructuring, but it's better than nothing. Our livelier, regularly updated blog is in Italian and it's called Giap.