Radical media, politics and culture.

hydrarchist's blog

A couple of months ago a friend gave me a couple of CDs as I was leaving Ireland. The first was Sean Nos by Sinead O'Connor and it's extraordinary breathing fire into tracks which could run the risk of cliches familiarity, like "Oro Se do Bheath' Abhaile" about pirate queen Grace O'Malley.

The other gem is an live album by an outfit called Mozaik, which involves Andy Irvine and some string musicians from Bulgaria and the Balkans. Lovers of Irish trad will be simply blown away by the opening track "The Blacksmith", but the real treat lies tucked inside at track 7: "Pony Boy/Never Tire of the Road"". I caught the word fascist in one of the verses but couldn't quite make out the context. Then I listened to the whole song more closely. The final verse goes like this:

"Don't let them ever fool you Or take you by surprise That dirty smell of a politician And the man with the greed in his eyes One big union, that's our plan And the IWW"s your only man The flames of discontent we'll fan For the cause that never dies."

Fuck me! I yelped, it's a Wobbly tune, and a great one, played bluegrass style. My assumption was that it was from the IWW songbook or composed by Guthrie. Nope.

The song was written by Andy Irvine, whom according to an interview I've just read, is himself a member of the IWW. To put this into context Irvine is key, if not central, to the group that revolutionized trad, Planxty, whom I adore and saw at Christmas (I even brought my father). Of course there are a lot of Irish connections to the Wobs. Big Bill Haywood spoke in Ireland and was a friend of pioneering 'Misfit' Jack Whyte (anarchist gun runner/renegade born of a loyalist family); James Connolly on the other hand was an organizer for the IWW when he was in the US.

Here's the song.

Never Tire of the Road

Never tire of the rolling wheel Never tire of the ways of the world Way out yonder is a-calling me And the dark road leads me onwards And the highway, that's my code And the lonesome voice that I heard said Never tire of the road

I was just a small town country boy When I left that country town Route 66 to the Westward And hopped an old freight down California here I come By the side door Pullman and the sunburnt thumb And they called us Okies, lowdown bums And the police on us frowned

California to the New York Island Me and my guitar And we played in many a hobo jungle Many a skid row bar Standing out in the wind and the rain That lonesome whistle is a sweet refrain When you are waiting for some old freight train That carries an empty car.

Shipped on board the liberty ship, To sail the ocean blue We were carrying guns, TNT, D-Day soldiers too, All the men onboard agree With Frisco, Jimmy, Ronnie and me, Our song rang out across the sea You fascists bound to lose All of you fascists bound to lose All of you fascists bound to lose All of you fascists bound to lose You're bound to lose, You fascists Bound to lose

Don't let them ever fool you Or take you by surprise That dirty smell of a politician And the man with the greed in his eyes One big union, that's our plan And the IWW"s your only man The flames of discontent we'll fan For the cause that never dies

---->> This is the appeal posted in my p2p community, both to solicit materials and generate interest in Mayday

Dear all,

May 1st is nearly upon us. Out of deference for what I'm sure is a plurality of political views present, I will spare you my rant, but not my petitition. The celebration dates from May 3rd 1886, when police attacked marchers for the 40 hour week killing 4. The following day an anarchist demonstration took place, at the end of which a policeman was killed by a bomb thrown at their lines. Eight people were subsequently arrested with no evidence; four were executed and one committed suicide. Irrespective of one's views on social organization this is an important date, to celebrate or loathe.

This year the week of April 24-30th shall also be a boycott called by p2p unite against the media industry. Not a penny from our pocket should pass to the music and cinema industry parasites during these days.

April 26th is International Intellectual Property Day sponsored by the World Intellectual Propertry Organization, a figurehead and rallying poiint historically for all those opposed to the free circulation of culture and knowledge; the monopolists, the censors, the charlatans and their enforcers.

My belief is that the fight for the free circulation of digital goods is part of the struggle for a new wave of rights: to create community (sharing), to create meaning (editing), to generate enlightenment (revealing and unmasking) and to free materials that those who work in the field of culture (film, music, text, software, games) can use to earn a living (think GPL, creative commons commercial sharealike) so as to to free our creativity from the yoke of the property owners.....

For all these reasons, I propose that the week before of May 1st we make an effort to post films and materials on the theme of the liberation of labour and creativity. I am preparing some rips myself and would ask other people to express their interest and suggested titles.

My first rip will be:

Live Nude Girls Unite (2000) which is a movie about unionization in the sex industry. http://www.livenudegirlsunite.com/

loooking forward to hearing from you,


Mayday, the real labour day


European Mayday initiative http://www.euromayday.org/

P2P Boycott of Media Industry April 24-30 http://www.p2punite.net/

Autonomedia http://slash.autonomedia.org

I'm currently reading "Promises to Keep" by a Harvard professor Terry Fisher. The book reviews the recent conflicts in the field of copyright law and makes a series of proposals for an alternative system. Fisher is not exactly an innovator in this field, but his text is useful for its clarity in describing the natire of the film and music industries, as well as summarising the different levels upon which the battle has unfolded. I recommend the book even if I disagree with his conclusions.

There are two canonical histories of copyright law:

"An Unhurried View of Copyright", Benjamin Kaplan, Columbia University Press, 1967 Copyright in historical perspective by L. Ray Patterson 1968

I've read sections of both but neither in its entirety as they are rather expensive and, obviously, dated.

Jessica Litman wrote a long and extremely (tediously?) detailed account of intra-industry negotiations/legislative history of the 1976 Copyright Act in the USA, which she wrote for a journal. Otherwise she also penned a fairly light text called "Digital Copyright" which is notable mainly for it's "this is all becoming surreally complex and a transaction cost apocalypse thesis" that Larry Lessig would subsequently re-cycyle in Free Culture (sic).

Two other titles are of note. The first is Information Feudalism by Peter Drahos and John Braithwaite. This is the best book so far on the subject, IMHO, as it provides thye badly needed politico-economic context which is surpressed in many versions of this story. Further more the authors have a very sharp take on the TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) negotiations which brought this field into the GATT, redefining it in the process as a trade issue. The authors interviewed nearly 500 participants in the GATT process, so as to construct a clear picture of the breaking-points and a panoramic view of the strategic objectives. The results of this work were published in their hefty tome "Global Business Regulation", and then the parts germane to IP hashed out in a more articulated form in Information Feudalism. Some time ago I published an early essay of their here on slash.aut.

The last recommendation is "Copyrights or Copyworngs" by Siva Vaidhynathan, which is the first cultural history of copyright in the United States. The book is rich in examples as to the accretice/cumulative nature of creativity, with a particularly perceptive slant on music culture (Siva would rather be playing with a band than teaching!)

Thsi reading of cultural productiuon as an inherently collective process forms the platform for his criticism of IP expansionism in the last decades. Whilst totally in sympathy with SV's aims, I'm sceptical with regards to his claim that all this amounts to a "perversion" of the american tradition in the field; there are obvious pragm atic reasons politically for presenting the aggressive behaviour of rights-owners as unamerican, but I reckon it's unrealistic. Lessig tried the same strategy in the attempt to overturn the Sonny Bono act and he ended up licking his wounds.

There have been a couple of other books that try to treat the subject as a whole but overall I found them unconvincing. Michael Perelman's "Steal this Idea" is of noble inspiration but ends up reading like a collection of anecdotes rather than a coherent argument. David Bollier's "Silent Theft" endeavours to give breadth to the commons argument and to this end mixes fisheries, NYC gardens and copyright and patent issues; to me the result was just confusing. If you want to build a space of commons studies, choose either the discrete and plausible field of "common property regimes" or else go along with Midnight Notes and Winstanley, attack primitive accumulation and the initial expropriation of the commons by capital. What's the confusion?

Seeing as my friend Mako recently accused me of maintaining a blog (!), a quick clarification is necessary. Way back in the seeds of time, no-one knew of the existence of the journal feature on autonomedia. I used to squirrel away nuggests of readings, quotes and reminders, as well as the odd draft. My idea for this space has always beent that it should have a sand-pit quality, where the unfinished and half-thought out can be expressed and made semi-public without any of the pressure that attaches to a published contribution. Bloggers search audiences whereas I search only accomplices, and I know that whatever is written here derives from a hundred conversations and actions with, or by, others. I'd reather be in a community of 10 who exchange than a thousand who admire.

Whilst many are fascinated by the italian species of automist practice and thought, little attention is paid to other countries where the tendency has a significant tradition. This is true both of countries -- France and Spain -- where the tendency was strong in countries where poilitics was still a mass-movement affair, as wel;l as those who producved important contributions such as germany. Karl Heinz Roth's "The other working class movement", highly regarded by Bologna amongst others has never been translated into english. In addition there is a tendency to ignore the contributions made by american writers to the humus of the tradition, namely James O'Connor (founder of Capitalism, Nature and Socialism) and Frances Fox Piven/Richard Cloward's Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail.

Anywayz, I'm currently looking at: LA MOUVANCE AUTONOME EN France DE 1976 A 1984 by Sebastien Schifres, a thesis available online at: http://sebastien.schifres.free.fr/

I lived in France years ago and investigated this world soemwhat which has notable differences with respect to its italian counterpart. Situationist and libertarian tendencies generally were stronger, and the movement towards squatting and a more separatist counterculture more accelerated. In any case, check it out as there is almost nothing available on the subject in english (one exception is Ann Hansen's memoir of her days as an "urban guerilla", which contains a gripping description of an autonomist demonstration in paris that seems to have inspired her down the road to ....

Any other suggestions for lost influences or movements?

Simulataneous with the developments in the robbery there occurred a ghastly event of much greater political importance. After a row in a bar in the Short Strand area of Belfast, amongst republicans who knew one another, a man was barbarically murdered. The fight involved a gang of IRA members and two local men. One was beaten and had his neck slashed. His friend brought him outside both so as to stop the assault and get him medical attention. they were pursued out of the bar and Bernard McCartney was attacked by up to ten men who hit and beat him before slashing his throat and cutting him open, from the neck to the navel. Afterwards they went back inside the bar, cleansed the place of forensic evidence, took the CCTV tape and ordered those present to stay silent and reveal nothing to the police, as 'this was an IRA matter'. They then retired to a house a nearby to get rid of clothes and other incriminating evidence.

Community outrage was immediate and concretised around the defiant attitude assumed by his family towards the local republican oligarchy. They demanded that the IRA lift any hint of threat towards those who might testify. What makes this situation extraordinary is that all involved would consider themselves republicans.

The dreadful nature of the lynching could not but suggest parallels with savagery of the Shankill Butchers and brought an association with psychopathic violence from which the IRA -- irrespective of the often cold nature of its logic - had until then been free. Ten years ago such an incident would have been unthinkable.

In order to prosecute the war it was necessary to have the active collaboration of the community and not mere passive submission. The IRA attracted many prospective members and were able to choose the best. Involvement meant risk more than privilege, and this same risk demanded discipline. One of the unresolved contradictions within provisional republicanism has been its need to continue recruiting members despite the end of the military phase of the conflict. Immediate dissolution of the military wing would make dissident republican organizations the only game in town for those attracted existentially to that lifestyle. The ceasefire soldiers, 'johnny no-ops' know only the privileges of the organization and none of the risks. Few have experience of prison and the process of political education that it entails.

Last summer, I was in Belfast at a gig in Andersonstown, hauling my booty around on the dance-floor. At the end of the evening some young men called me over. initially they asked me if I was on drugs (alas no!) and then proceeded to inquire about my background, politics etc. They were young volunteers, and boasted openly about it. They were also sectarian as fuck, and taunted me by saying that if I was serious politically then we could go now, get a kalashnikov from a safe-house where they had one stashed, and go kill a 'hun' (sic). I asked the most provocative when he had joined up - 1995, a peace-fire soldier. During innumerable visits to the north over the years no active republican had ever spoken to me in this way about protestants - I was shocked. It provided some sense of the corruption growing within the organization.

Of course the IRA has always had internal problems, but they were kept more or less in check. Intimidation was tolerated within the community on the basis of the force majeure constituted by the struggle against British power and self-defense against loyalist murder-gangs. Warriors, as has always been the case, were afforded latitude to select the manner in which the war would be prosecuted. Now the conflict is no more, the justification for tolerating this behaviour dissipates. The exercise of counter-government is only sustainable within a context where the external forces on the relevant community are mediate resentment at the policing taking place inside the community. This practice has been a recurrent phenomena in Irish history and there is extensive documentation of IRA courts in the 20s etc.

In movements uninfluenced by libertarian ideas the temptation to establish a "state within a state" seems irresistible. In a wonderful book (Andare ai resti) on the mutation in the composition and practices of the italian prison population since the late 60s, Emilio Quadrelli describes how the Red Brigades sought to turn the prisons into 'red bases' for the creation of revolutionary cadre, leading them to impose themselves coercively on other prisoners, establish commissions of inquiry to root out alleged 'informers', set up execution squads and conduct 'trials'.

"For years the institutional apparatus found itself having to chase, clash with, and constrain this sort of constituent power that, through a permanent process of destruction/construction had allowed the establishment of a dual power which not insignificant social classes identified with. But what made the emergence of this strange constituent power really worrying for the legitimate power was its extraneousness to traditional political logic. It was not simply, or not only, a military and political rupture, but even more so cultural and existential. The modes of conduct of the barbarous anomaly [diffuse rban guerilla, the prison population in rebellion] , also organizationally, do nothing other than reproduce a cultural logic difficult for the institutions to grasp. From this point of view the prison represented nothing other than that which on a micro level numerous social groups had experienced And it is thanks to this model that for years power had a lot of difficulty in re-imposing itself on the prison population. The new course, on the other hand, brought everything back within the logic, practices and methods borrowed from orthodox political and administrative models. Between the two worlds there was no longer rupture, but rather continuity." (loose translation from Quadrelli, p.145-146M)

to be continued

Since december two incidents have been fuel for anti-republican hysteria. The first, a massive robbery at the Northern Bank netting an estimated 40 million euros, has scandalized the political class who see it is evidence of Sinn Fein's 'criminality' and unsuitability for participation in 'respectable politics' never mind government.

Behind this lie the worries of several political parties threatened by the meteoric rise in SF support in southern ireland during recent years: Fianna Fail have lost chunks of their constituency in urban working class areas; Labour are challenged for their role as the main leftist organization; the Greens face competition in their market for sponging up the protest vote. As for the progressive democrats and Fine Gael, they have always hated republicans, representing as they do an arrogant middle class that takes umbrage at SF's working class character and redistributive demands: in fact the clash between these groups is scarcely concealed enactment of class war.

The level of organization ton the robbery led immediately to the presumption that only paramilitary structures, and probably only the IRA, possessed the necessary professionalism to be able to coordinate an operation involving allegedly more than thirty people. Predictably IRA denials followed, and SF insisted that this was enough to convince at least them of their 'non-involvement'.

A couple of weeks ago things took an almost burlesque tone, as stories proliferated first about people selling off stolen notes at a discount, then of individuals burning notes in back gardens. Eventually the police raided several houses on the southern coast and made several arrests both there and in dublin. In both instances large sums of cash were recovered, stuffed into washing powder boxes or packed into plastic bags hidden in garden shrubbery. In a surreal turn the next lot of swag to turn up appeared in the RUC sports club in Belfast! A small percentage of the money (2 million or so) has now been seized but politically the impact has been spectacular as the establishment go to town on ostracising SF. Several of those arrested are party members or have history as active republicans linked to the provisionals, everyone knows that it was the IRA (although the rationale behind it is contested), and an ex-Trade Union leader (and republican) has been accused or f running a laundering operation for their benefit.

The funny thing is that the bank robbery provoked much admiration when performed. The vast sum involved inspired awe, whilst the complexity of the operation's execution -- carried out in broad daylight in belfast city centre -- and the numbers involved give the whole affair the aspect almost of a work of art. Most republicans are working class and do not have enough money in the bank to be scandalized at its expropriation, others are fairly well inculcated with an idea of legality and legitimacy that such a job is viewed as simply another blow in the conflict. there are few places in europe where Brecht's comment" "What is the crime of robbing a bank compared with the crime of founding one. "

Ironically despite all the huff and puff about criminality and exhortations to legalism, there is only one party which has one former TD in jail (Liam Lawlor) and another who is about half-way on the voyage to the same destination (Ray Burke) -- that party is in fcat the party of government, Fianna Fail. ;-)

As suspected Ballestrini's Vogliamo Tutto is indeed based on the life of a real individual, Alfonso Natella, a worker originally from Salerno near Naples. This I gleaned from Aldo Grandi's interesting, if contested, history of Potere Operaio "La Generazione degli anni perduti, Storie di Potere Operaio". He is still alive and active.

Last night I saw my first film by Franceso Rosi, who had been recommended to me by many people. "Sal;vatore Giuliano" recounts the story of the eponymous bandit who, manipulated by a diabolic trinity of mafia, church and landowners (in iderological guises of seperatism and monarchism), carried out a massacre of leftist workers and peasants on May 1st 1947 at Portella delle Ginestre. The atrocity was ordered by persons high in the Sicilian hierarchy of power, althoiugh it was never revealed who. The film is a masterpiece, and what's more is subtitled (the version I saw is the Criterion edition) so I recommend it to everyone.

Rosi's film reminded me of a book I read some years ago, written by Norman Lewis. He was a member of British intelligence (simply be dint of his being a linguist he was put into the secret services) and penned two good books aboput Italy "Naples 44" which chroniucles the allied landings towards the end of the war, and "The Honoured Society" which is a social history of Sicily rather than merely an account of the mafia. The latter remains one of the most interesting and insightful investigations into Italyt available in english. Lewis is clearly sympathetic to the progressive movements that have striven to explode the feudal structure under which the mass of Sicilians suffer. In addition to the important social context he provides, Lewis also has an eye for the absurd, exemplified by his closing chapters which recount the tale of a bunch of monks who principally occupied themselves with robbery and extortion, as well as the mafia's lucrative trade in 'authentic' religous relics. He devotes many pages to the story of Giuliano.

Elsewhere in the book he documents the murder of former partisan Placido Rizzotto the on march 10th of the following year, 1948. Rizzotto was a trade unionist and organizer as well as head of the local labour council in Corleone. On a busy evening he was abducted in front of hundfreds of people on the square in Corleone by the Mafia. Subsequently he was shot and thrown into a ravine .

My last Sicilian note relates to Leonardo Sciascia, whom I regard as being perhaps the greates modern Italian writer and who died in 1989. His novels and short stories are very noir and he achieves what I had thought to be impossible, successfully making a police officer the protagonist. His police officers however know that they do not have the state behind them, because the state is merely an artifice manufactured by a series of para-political powers. Sciascia refused to defend the italian state, even in the midst of the armed struggle of 1970s (although he had no sympathy for the Red brigades" and famously decalred that Italy wasa country without memory or truth, and thus he at least strove to remember.

Yes, I've been a bold bugie, because I did mean to respond promptly to s0metim3s but have been overwhlemed by all of the other things. But it's coming. I should add that the mini-review of Ballestrini is just a note which I'll be using as aprt of a longer review of his novels (L'Editore. Gli Furiosi, Vogliamo Tutto and Gli Invisibili) although i may leave out the last as it's available in english. Time and my patience permitting I'll throw it against a background of some of the contents of the history he assembled with Moroni and Bianchi. s0metim3s encoragement helped push me over the topp on this decision. Reading novels isn't exactly hard work either.

What follows is just a quick run down of some of the books that I'm using for an article in progress on the history, present and limitations of the social centres in Italy. Foreign vistors never cease to be amazed and inspired by such spaces, so much so that in both Ireland and the UK there is a gathering trend with left-libertarian circuits to make their creation a priority. Hopefully this article will help contextualize some of the choices that are inevitably made within such a process.

One article which I won't be using incidentally is a little piece by Naomi Klein. She is so incredibly misinformed on Italy, possibly because she has been misled (!?), even though she is plainly fascinated by the CSOA. But when she refers to social centres of the north-east as being anti-authoritarian or "anarchist", well it's nmot a matter of being fussy: it's like calling the pope protestant.

Other suggestions, particularly accounts which I don't think exist social centres in english would be of interest.

(1) This was a phenomena especially pronounced in Rome and Bologna. See "Il Cerchio e la Saetta", Andrea Tiddi, Costa &* Nolan, 1997, Genova.

(2) "Centri Sociali: Geografie del desiderio, Dati, statistiche, progetti, mappe, divenire", Consorzio Aasrer, Centro Sociale Cox 18, Centro Sociale Leoncavallo, Primo Moroni, Shake Edizioni Underground, 1996, Milan.

(3) Leoncavallo - Un Percorse di Cittidinanza Attiva

(4) E Varsovia brucia, Luther Blissett, Quattrocentoquindici, 1996.

(5) Centri Sociali di seconda generazione", Lorenzo Sansonetti,in Posse, 2002, Rome.

(6) Centri Sociali, Che impresa! Castelevecchi, Rome 1996.

(7) 10 settembre 1994, Velleita Alternative, 1995, Turin.

(8) Culture eXtreme, Massimo Canevacci

(9) Derive Approdi 12/13 p.95 - 109

(10) L. BERZANO, R. GALLINI, C. GENOVA Liberi tutti. Centri sociali e case occupate a Torino Ananke 2002 (11) "Vita e nuovi lavori ngeli spazi autogestiti di bologna - socialita, formazione, reddito, biopolitica", EFESO, 2001, Bologna.

(12) Leoncavallo S.P.A., Un Percorse di Cittidinanza Attiva Andrea Membretti, Derive Approdi, 2003, Rome.

(13) 'A Love Born of Hate': Autonomist Rap in Italy -- Wright 17 (3) Theory, culture and Society

(14) Nick Dines, Self-Managed Social Centres in Naples in the 1990s, Transgressions 5

(15) "Italy's social centres - a thousand human stories -" Steve Wright

A couple of months ago Steve Wright published an essay - "Operaismo, Autonomia, Settantasette in Translation: Then, Now, The Future" - of particular interest to me, both as an english speaker who has lived and explored Italy in recent years, and as occasional translator, fascinated by the one-sided perceptions of the Italian experience common abroad, largely (IMHO) deriving from the very selective range of material available in the english language.

Wright makes this point in the context of the celebration of Hardt and Negri's Empire, underlining the fact that they represent only one element of a broader tradition and also that some Negri's work cannot be considered to be representatiove of the positions or interests animating operaism and its various derivatives today. His own book remedies some of these defects (Storming Heaven) and is a fundamental text for anyone interested in the revolutionary politics in the second half of the twentieth century as it provides a roadmap to the convoluted "percorso" that led from Quaderni Rossi to La Classe, Potere Operaio, Lotta Continua and Autonomia Operaia.

Anyway, I'll discipline the tangents which are tempting me. I mention Wright because there are two books in his list of 12 (to be translated) which I like a lot. The first is Nanni Balestrini and Primo Moroni's ""L'Orda D'Oro" (The Golden Horde) and is easily the best historical account of the modern Italain revolutionary movement. Ballestrini, a militant and poet, produced several key novels in the 1970s and 80s which insert the political conditions inside first-person narratives that allow one to make sense of the subjectivity involved.

We Want it All (1971) Currently I'm reading another of Ballestrini's tales, Vogliamo Tutto - We Want it All. The protagonist is a young worker from the south forced to emigrate to Milan in the search for income. He hates work but needs money to support a hedonic lifestyle at night and finance extended vacations in his home town. After burning his bridges in Milan, he moves to Turin and takes a job in Fiat. The year is 1969 and Mirafiori is boiling. Initially his shirking strategies are private and individualistic, faking injury, playing the dullard and generally subtracting himself at every opportunity from the gruelling labour of the factory. Meanhwile students are hanging around the gates to Fiat, talking of politics, of strike, of action against the bosses. After confrontations with the managers and line-supoervisors he decides that it's time to struggle collectively. So begins the epic struggle of 1969, central to the hot autumn, a huge confrontation with the aristocracy of Italian capital - Agnelli - conducted outside of the unions. The latter in fact are savagely critiqued as sell-outs, uninterested in workers' real concerns, collaborators in the commodification of their labour. The workers want to take back control over time, subtract themselves from the infernal rhythm of the factory, abolish the system of categories that keeps them separated according to grade, and fight for equal and uniform wage increases for the entire workforce. That July the demonstration against pension cuts in Corso Traiano transformed itself into an enormous battle with the police. The energy and violence of that day, that grounded an important part of the imagination of the radical left for the next ten years. The cinema would occasionbally portray this rejection of the factory system, notably in Petri's "La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso" (The Working Class Go To Paradise), where a Milanese factory worker who enthusiastically reaches his quota and cooperates with management befgore losing a finger in a workplace accident. This is the catalyst for the breakdown of his compliance. He demands a strike 'till the end, is fired and then reinstated due thanks to the union. In the interinm he has a terrible dream of pushing his way through a wall to get to paradise, which turns out to be populated by workers who are still sweating. The factory has so overwhelmend him that he can only see things in its terms. Thus even a meeting with his son outsidfe of a school becomes the occasion for him to remark that the children seem like "so many little workers!"

Another stylistic element is the shift in voice, from a freewheeling indivuidualism in the first part of the book to a collectivist language lifted from leaflets, slogans, addresses to assemblies... The assumption of class consciousness is literally materialized in the subsumption of preceding egoism in the 'mass'.

Anyway it provides a fascinating insight to those times, ways of life and mentalities. The style is similar to The Unseen: no punctuation, retention of a vernacular feel to the account - I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out that also Vogliamo Tutto is a product of interviews.

The Unseen (1987) His only work to have been published in english is "The Unseen", translated by Liz Heron and published by Verso. In my view this unjustly ignored novel is in bad need of resucitation - perhaps the rejuvenated intertest in "autonomism" will inspire Verso to re-issue. The Unseen tells the story of a young militant in the Milanese hinterland and his experience of the movement as it gathered pace and faced crises as the seventies progressed. I love it for being set in a small town where the decision to assault the heavens carries a much heavier burden thatn the relative anonymity of the metropolis. The protagonist recounts his everydfay existence, the misery of labour and the its increasingly determined refusal, the confrontation over the use of armed force, the passage to prison and the terror of state retaliation following the prisoners revolt at Trani. Some years after first reading the book I discovered that "Gli Invisibili" (as it's callled in Italian) is actually the story of Sergio Bianchi, founder of the publishing house Derive Approdi -- as well as being a lover of good whiskies ;) -- Apparently Balestrini interviewed him and then assembled the transcriptions. Balestrini has a curious style that eliminates punctuation altogether, giving the writing both a sense of stream of consciousness and also preserving an idea of oral history. This is probably no accident given his intimate friendship and collaboration with Primo Moroni, archivist of the movement and arguably the father of social and oral history in Italy.

The Editor (1989)L'Editore can somehow be seen as a bridge between the events of Vogliamo Tutto and Gli Invisibili. The publisher in question is Giangiacomo Feltrinelli, revoultionary, founder of what is today the biggest chain of bookshops and one of the country'm most impportant publishing houses, and scion of a tremendously rich dynasty built on industrial and financial interests accumulated over the preceding fifty years.

Feltrinelli's mangled body was found at the foot of an electricity pylon near a small town outside of Milan. Official reports hypothesized that he had blown himself up whilst planting explosives designed to blow up the structure and cut-off the supply of electricity to the city. Individual pieces of evidence as well as the fact of Feltrinelli's enormous wealth contradicted the official thesis. Why after all would one so wealthy preform such act himself rather than employing a specialized commando? Was it likely that someone of his resources would be equipped with unconvincing falsified documents?

But the guts of this book - being written fifteen years after the facts hardly presumed to be an intervention into an open case - lie in its unpacking of the left's rerlationship with violence in this crucial period. A long series of bloody fascist attacks had begun with the atrocity carried out in Milan's Piazza Fontana in 1969 (which resulted in the state-murder of Pinelli, made famous in Dario Fo's "Accidental Death of an Anarchist") and intensified the fears of many that a reactionary coup d'etat was in the pipeline. This fear was especially diffuse amongst those who had fought in the resistance, felt betrayed by both the recycling of fascist elements of the state and the Communist Party's succumbing to a moderate electoralist approach. This anxiety was reinforced by the failed coup attempt led by the former commander of the elite fascist regiment X Mas, Junio Valerio Borghese, in 1971 (he subsequently fled to Switzerland). Opposition to the use of political violence, and defense of "republican legality" thus became a tenet of orthodox PC-flavour communism. Feltrinelli had left the PC after the Russian invasion of Hungaria in 1956, had spent substantial periods in Cuba where he befriended both Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

Yet, as Balestrini explains, Feltrinelli develoiped his taste for the communist guerilla at home, amongst those embittered ex-partisans who did not give up, but concealed, their weapons and continued to bring yopung recruits on camping trips to the mountains to acquaint them with the topography around the cities, and established shadow-cells in local party sections with the responsibility of keeping watch on nearby armouries and generally preparing themselves in the case of any eventual necessity to return to clandestinity. Fascist provocations were frequently the occasion for the re-emergence of this more militant antifascist spirit that could not be contained within party prerogatives but exploded in the street. The most famous example is the popular uprising in Genoa 1961, where the population confronted the police in order to prevent the planned party conference of the MSI (Movimentoi Sociale Italiano, former ruling party under Benito Mussolini). On that occasion members of the PC, the radical left, anarchists, workers organizations (with the legendary dockers armed with steel hooks, tools of their trade at the forefront) administered some stiff lessons in proletarian violence. Partisan culture was the umbrella under which these elements found common ground and many looked forward to the day when the rifles would be disinterred.

This aspects raises its head repeatedly during the 60s and 70s in stories ranging from social criminality as expressed by Sante Notaricola (author of L'Evasione Impossibile and role-model for many of the newly jailed 'political prisoners' at the end of the 60s and beginning of the 70s) who as part of the Cavallero gange was involved in numerous ared robberies in Milan and Turin (immortalised in Baditi a Milano directed by Lizzani which recounts the job done on the Banco di Napoli). Likewise some of the Red brigades first weapons were given to them in trust by former partisans, and in toiwns such as Reggio Emilia some of the latter were in fact the point of aggregation around which such a sensibility gathered. Feltrinelli frequented a PC section in Lambrate charcterised by the same culture, and its influence is evident in his having named his own organization GAP, echoing the historical paretisan formation with the same initials (Gruppo di Azione Partigiano).

Ina ny case street violence was very much part of the cut and thrust of everyday italian political life, as Franco Piperno remarked last year, only a seminary of priests could have been shocked about it at that time. Piperno himself was head of an organization (Potere Operaio) whose watchword was "Insurrection" and who studied and serendaded the IRA in Ireland with the intention of applying the model in modified form in Italy. On hearing they were communists the Provisionals promptly directed them to the officials who showed them round the country and found them billets. Republicans were invited to the annual conference held in Florence in 1971 (the Black Workers Congress, emanation of the struggles in the auto industry in Detroit were also present).

"Danzica, Beflast, Torino, Meridione, Questo e' la marcia dell'insurrezione!" By late 1973 Potere Operaio had dissolved amidst growing internal problems (Rosalina, June 1973), Lotta Continua was also in difficulty and a new game was begining, they too would dissolve although their paper continued to be published and in many regions they survived as recopgnizable formations right up to the early 90s. Part of PO tried to constitute itself as the organizational structure for autonomia (Rosso) whilst others embarked on a path that would conclude in the armed struggle (Valerio Morucci Co.)

That same year the first national assembly of autonomous workplace committeees took place in Bologna and if it's possible to put a location and date to the birth of Autonomia Operaia, this is it. More anon. These are just notes after all...

Christian Marazzi's "Il Posto dei Calzini" - Where the Shoes Go - is the other book on Wright's list that enthuses me. All the theorising of the linguistic turn in the economy etc derives from work accomplished by himself and Virno. I'll resist temptation to go into it now as I don't have the text handy.


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