The Italian Autonomist movement

The Italian revolutionary movement is another important moment to study. From the early 1960s, to the hot autumn of 1969, to the ‘Autonomia‘ of the 1970s the struggle raged in Italy. This was part of the larger wave of working class revolt sweeping across Europe in Paris 1968, leading to the breakup of the Keynesian economic consensus.

For the Italian ‘Workerists‘ and later ‘Autonomia‘, this was a time of great experimentation and lively working class social movements. These movements rocked the foundations of Italian society. The theoretical and practical experiments provide a framework for some of the challenges we face, in a time of class recomposition and ruling class attack. The insights they provide are deeply valuable to all Libertarian Communists:

Reading List –

Robert Lumley – States of Emergency: Cultures of Revolt in Italy from 1968 to 1978

Red Notes – Italy 1977-8: Living with an earthquake

Prole.info – Class Struggle in Italy: 1960s and 1970s

Sylvere Lotringer, Christian Marazzi – Autonomia: Post-political Politics

Emilio Mentasti – The Magneti Marelli Workers Committee – The Red Guard Tells Its Story

Steve Wright – Storming Heaven – Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism

Panzieri, Sohn-Rethel, Palloix, Bologna, Tronti- The Labour Process & Class Strategies

Antionio Negri – Books for Burning: Between Civil War and Democracy in 1970s Italy

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Empire

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Multitude

Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt – Commonwealth

George Caffentzis – In Letters of Blood and Fire

Silvia Federici – Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction and Feminist Struggle

Midnight Notes Collective – Midnight Oil : Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992

Midnight Notes Collective – Promissory Notes

The Sojourner Truth Organization’s Pamphlets

Sojourner Truth Organization – Workplace Papers

Sojourner Truth Organization – Shop Leaflets

John Holloway- Change the world without taking power

John Holloway – Crack Capitalism

Harry Cleaver – Reading  Capital Politically

Franco ”Bifo” Berardi – The Soul at Work From Alienation to Autonomy

Franco “Bifo” Berardi – The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance

Paris, May 1968

The Uprising of Paris, May 1968 developed from chain of struggles, in Europe and the world against bourgeois institutions. Started by students, it spread to the mass of workers, and culminated in at least 10 million workers going on wildcat general strike across France, against the will of trade unions, the communist party and the Gaullist state. The crisis of the refusal of work and discipline, was part of a major breakdown of capitalism known as Keynesianism, the welfare state and post-war social democracy. The mass rebellions, once defeated, paved the way for the eventual defeat of the working class in the first world and the new system of neoliberalism.

Paris 1968 was influenced by a rejuvenated libertarian Marxism and anarchism. It was influenced partly by Council Communists, critical theorists and the left Communists. The revolution in Hungary in 1956, which created workers councils, was a big influence on the emergence of the movement. The movement was pushed forward by the renewed Libertarian Socialism from in the USA the ‘Johnson-Forest Tendency‘ of C. L. R. James, the French journal ‘Socialisme ou Barbarie’, the Situationist movement in France, the growing ‘Workerist‘ current of the ‘Quaderni Rossi’ journal in Italy and Solidarity in the UK. This was part of a new rethinking of Socialism. The movements of 1968 afterwards influenced the autonomist movements in Italy, Germany, the USA and globally. The modern Greek anarchist movement is heavily influenced by these movements. Here are some important writings from this era:

Reading List:

Anton Pannekoek – Workers Councils

Anton Pannekoek – The Essential Pannekoek

C. L. R. James – A History Of Pan-african Revolt

C. L. R. James – State Capitalism and World Revolution

C. L. R. James – A New Notion: Two Works By C. L. R. James, Every Cook Can Govern and The Invading Socialist Society

C. L. R. James – Modern Politics

C. L. R. James – Facing Reality

Andy Anderson – Hungary ‘56

Cornelius Castoriadis – Workers’ councils and the economics of self-managed society

Guy Debord – The Society of the Spectacle

Maurice Brinton – For Workers’ Power: The Selected Writings of Maurice Brinton

Daniel and Gabriel Cohn-Bendit – Obsolete Communism: The Left-wing alternative