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Political activism in southern Italy: an insight on the new born JEF section in Calabria.

, by Daniele Armellino, translated by Mariasophia Falcone

Choosing political activism in a region like mine it is not an easy choice. A region like mine in which, in many cases, but not in every case yet, politics is involved with Mafia and Mafia is involved with politics. In a region which has one of the highest rate of school dropout in Italy and in Europe as well. Not to mention the rate of unemployment especially among younger adults. Precisely, more than 60% of young adults, from the age 15 to 29, born in Calabria, either does not have a job, is not looking for one or is not going to continue their studies. This is a region in which those who face difficulties involving social and economic integration are not only illegal migrants (thousands of them who arrive everyday in the most important harbours of Calabria). It is quite the contrary, those who face those difficulties the most are young adults who live in Calabria. But they are not just citizens from Calabria, they are Italians, they are European. These are serious issues that would discourage anyone from engaging in any form of political activism in a region as such.


Pursuing any sort of effective political activism means that one has to deal with corruption, potentate-like mechanisms, favouritism and people affiliated with the mob. With this being the current situation, is it possible to get involved with genuine political activism? The obvious answer would be NO. It would be impossible even to think to get involved with traditional parties or any political project, nevertheless to found a Young European Federalists section in a town like Vibo Valentia. With the Young European Federalists being a political organisation which is non-governmental, does not run in the elections, is self-financed, almost completely unknown in the south of Italy, whose members are mostly students, basically the chances of making a difference seem to be none.

Yet still, maybe due to our reckless young minds or just our passion for European ideals, we decided to defy chance and the astonishing paralysis in which this beautiful land of ours has been living for years. By doing that we realised something, we realised that engaging in a serious yet exciting project like this might help us get involved more and in the way we wanted to with our town.

At the end of the day we are well aware of the inability, in most cases the ineptitude, of our ruling class of solving the region’s issues, such as integration in the society of the weaker social classes (including migrants), a growing lack of democracy and so on. These issues are not just Italian issues, or of other nations of Mediterranean Europe (like Greece or Cyprus). They are European issues and the main cause of these issues is the current political asset of our union: not yet a full-functioning federation.

The European crisis, which we have all heard about a million times, is first of all a political crisis that involves all the institutions of the EU, the national states and the traditional political parties. This is a crisis which is further aggravated by the recent events, such as the rise of the Islamic state, the refugee crisis, the aggravated situation with Russia, climate change, and countries like China , India or Brazil that are becoming everyday more economically competitive than us. The European crisis needs to be solved starting from the bottom going upwards, starting from a change in the minds of millions of European citizens who are tired of making sacrifices for “Europe”, who are scared of migrants arriving in their countries. These same citizens are easily (and dangerously) influenced by those politicians who, by exploiting their fears, promise simple and immediate solutions to all their problems, more often than not by resorting in building walls, barbed wire and nationalism.

Yet contratisng this nationalist drift is the reason of our activism and militancy in a region such as Calabria. Our main goal is to persuade every citizen, no matter their political views, of the necessity of a new federalist and democratic project in Europe, as predicted long time ago by Altiero Spinelli. This means discussing immigration, democracy in Europe, organised crime, European funds, understanding that these issues are at the same time European, national and local. With our activism, we hope to connect the people living in our region with other European citizens, by putting an end on the sense of isolation which we have been living for years. We hope to make them feel more European and more aware of Europe, so that one day we will all be capable of living together in a federation.

Our ultimate mission is to contribute to the making of Europe, which, we know, is not an easy task and it will obviously require a great deal of time and effort. But one thing is certain, we do not lack in passion! We will keep on trying, hoping that you will all give us a hand.

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