Article by Marco Perduca, Eumans Member and coordinatore of the Italian Cannabis Legale Referendum Committee. The original appeared on Italy’s HuffingtonPost on 3 November 2022.
The first (omnibus) law decree, neither necessary nor urgent, of the Meloni government has, among other things, created a new article of Italy’s penal code: 434 bis, which states that "the invasion of land or buildings for gatherings that are dangerous for public order. or public safety or public health " should qualify as a crime. The crime also includes "the arbitrary invasion of other people's lands or buildings, public or private" committed by a number of people "greater than 50 to organize a potentially dangerous rally (or event)". For the next two months (the final version of the norm will be the one that Parliament will convert into law) the article provides for a penalty of three to six years, and fines from 1,000 to 10,000 euros, for the organizers, while for participants the penalty is reduced.
Members of government and the parliamentary majority were keen to emphasize that the decision will only apply to raves, the oppositions, after having criticized the text as "messy" and "poorly written" (imagine if it was written well!), were worried about the limitations that could be applied to other types of events, like political or trade unions rally, and stated that the generic nature of the description of the conducts leaves ample room for interpretation to the police,, Prefects, Judges and Minister (admitted and not granted that the Minister has to deal with certain things).
As it often happens in Italy, one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in the world and where, incidentally, there have never been any problems for public order or public safety or public health due to the "raves", and where information is now at the mercy of unverified pseudo-truths, or fake news, carelessly relaunched by traditional media, there is a systematic use of criminal law to crack down on deep-rooted socio-cultural phenomena.
Because this is what we are talking about, a transatlantic, transnational culture that began in Detroit in the early 1980s.
They are called "raves" but, in jargon, they are known as "free parties". These are "parties" that are "free"in, at least, tow ways: free from the typical restrictions of discos or festivals, but "free" also because they are free of charge. These events are characterized by hours and hours of electronic music played without pause, meetings that begin when the gathering begins and end when people decide to go home. If the music comes out of more than one "wall of loudspeakers" they are called teknivals. Freedom regards also the ingestion of legal and illegal (psychoactive) substances.
The reasons for these meetings can be the most varied, from political protest to the desire to have fun or just dance. On some occasions (especially if the meetings are held indoors) donations are asked to cover the costs, after all, music requires energy to be played. There are also the "squat parties" whose address is shared on the day of the event as the buildings are occupied. Again the music plays incessantly for hours and hours.
There are those who call these phenomena subculture, those who consider them counterculture, those who call it anti-system, anti-capitalist, antagonist, libertarian, hedonist, community-based, etc., etc., we are not interested in qualifying something that is an affirmation of the experience of freedom, we should to be interested in the fact that it is, literally, A culture in her own right.
A culture of people who, perhaps, have decided to no longer oppose themselves to models they do not want to agree with but who, not for this reason, have given up on living what they want to live freely in "science, conscience and knowledge". Yes, "conscience". In fact, if we were to keep up with what we "fear", with all those people, in all that mess and with all those psychoactive substances around, there would be comas and overdoses of all kinds, and instead these "massacres" do not happen .
There is a growing literature that studies these "worlds", I quote only a recent Italian work by Enrico Petrilli: "Toxic nights: Sociality, drugs and electronic music to resist through pleasure", which in the presentation of the essay clarifies why the Meloni decree was thought precisely against "raves": "Toxic Nights explores the political potential of going to the disco through a different grammar from that of traditional activism, conceiving clubbing as a micro-political guerrilla devoted to the present, in which bodies and pleasures are the point support of the counterattack ".
This new "grammar", different from that of traditional activism, terrifies the "system", regardless of who is in government. The present political context - which has been around for quite a while - and even more so the future, will be made of a mixture of sounds, chemistry, not easily controlled technology and means of communication through which we communicate with meta-languages that involve all the senses. A context that is potentially revolutionary and for this reason must be controlled if not repressed.
On the right of the political spectrum they denounce the invasion of Italy by ravers because for too long “we” have been "permissive" and "lax", on the left they worry about public demonstrations, which they don't organize anyway, but have always been "against the culture of getting high".
Center-right and center-left insist on paternalistic prohibitions to “protect us” from potential and (often) theoretical dangers or even risks posed by non-violent behaviors to public order or public safety or public health. We will see how the decree will be converted into law and then, whoever has it, will find a way to affirm their political conscience, perhaps with the new "grammars" used by non conventional cultures.