Radical media, politics and culture.

Sergio Bologna, "The Tribe of Moles"

Annonymous Comrade writes:

"The Tribe of Moles"

Sergio Bologna (1977)

This article is a provisional attempt to trace the internal development of the autonomous class movement in Italy, which led to the explosive confrontation around the University occupations in Spring 1977. Such an analysis is only meaningful if it allows us to uncover the new class composition underlying these struggles, and to indicate the first elements of a programme to advance and further generalise the movement.
Here we analyse the movement primarily in its relation to the Italian political system and the changes it has undergone through the period of crisis since 1968. With the Historic Compromise strategy of the Italian Communist Party (PCI) since 1974, the form of the State has taken a new leap forwards ? towards the organisation of a "party system" which no longer aims to mediate or represent conflicts in civil society, but is increasingly compact and counterpoised against movements in civil society, and against the political programme of the new composition of the class.

The wartime antifascist resistance in Italy laid the basis for a form of the State based on the "party system". The new regime inherited from Fascism fairly powerful instruments for an independent political "interference" in the process of reproduction of classes (normally left to the development of productive relations and the real subsumption of labour to capital). These instruments were: credit; the State-controlled industries; and public spending.

The party system thus came to control the basic sectors of the economy and the important service sectors. Through this control, and within it that of the Christian Democrats (the hegemonic party from the crisis of the Parria Government in November 1945 to the Centre-Left coalitions of the 'sixties) it was able to negotiate with US imperialism and the multinationals, both domestic and foreign, regarding the international division of labour, the rate of increase of the working class, the type of working class to be promoted ? in other words, to organise the dynamic of class relations in a way that corresponded to the plans for political stability. In certain regions of the northern "industrial triangle", the reproduction of social classes was left to the classic mechanisms of concentration/massification of labour-power in large-scale industry. In this sector it was left to productive capital ? private and public ? to bring about that "rational demographic composition", the lack of which (for Italy, in contrast to the USA) Gramsci had so lamented in his Prison Notebooks (see the article Americanism and Fordism). Here, in other words, a society was to be developed made up entirely of producers, consisting solely of wage labour and capital.

It should be added that this mechanism of advanced capitalist development produced not only factory workers, but also a large proportion of tertiary workers, so that regions like Liguria, Lombardi or Veneto have a higher percentage of employees working in tertiary activities than some regions in the South. In these latter regions, however, the intervention of the "party system" in the mechanism of reshaping and reproducing the classes seemed to take place with greater autonomy from the movements of capital.

The Form of The State;Open Or Latent

The political agreements established with large-scale European industry meanwhile permitted a large number of agricultural proletarians to be transferred abroad; the production of a factory working class was piloted with great care, according to the principle that the command of fixed capital should always be overpowering. At the same time, support was given to all forms of agricultural production that maintained irrational demographic relations; there was a flow of subsidising finance aimed to "congeal" non-productive relations and social strata, and a flow of revenue ? "money as money" ? acquired through employment in the public administration. All these had the effect of reproducing a disproportionately large small-to-middle bourgeoisie, based on income as revenue, which represented the social base necessary for the stability of the Christian Democrat regime.

In the long term, the effects of this policy for the reproduction of the classes blunted the revolutionary effects of the real subjection of labour to capital, off-setting the growth of the working class with a disproportionate growth of small-to-middle bourgeoisie, in receipt of revenue; not hostile to the working class, but passive, not ant-iunion but "autonomous", not productive but saving, and hence allowing a social recycling of the income received by it. But this first class dynamic was shattered and thrown off course, first by the working-class offensive at the end of the 1960s, and then, a few years later, by the violent effects of the crisis ? which we shall examine later. The form of the State under the post-war "party system" is a latent form: what normally appears on the surface is a method of mediating and representing conflicts. On the one side are the governing parties that dominate the bureaucratic-repressive apparatus of the State, and on the other the opposition parties, which are the receptacles for mediating the drives and contradictions of civil society.

The form of the State comes out in the open in certain historical moments, when the crisis of the preceding regime and the development of a new class composition risk escaping from the control of the dialectic between Government and opposition. This happened in 1945-46, after the armed struggle against Fascism. The parties chose to replace their relations with the classes, with the masses, by mutual relations among themselves; and the Communist Party chose to prioritise its relations with the other parties that backed the constitution of the Republic, rather than its relations with the class and the armed movement. In a similar way, in this latest period, and playing on a similar "state of emergency" in order to overcome the present crisis (as with the post-war "Reconstruction"), ever since it chose the path of the Historic Compromise (and more vigorously since the Elections of June 1976), the Communist Party has privileged the strengthening of its link with the other parties ? and in particular with the Christian Democrats. This was in order to "resolve the crisis of the State", to redefine the "party system" in terms of concord rather than conflict. By now, the unity of the parties at a political and programmatic level is being concluded like a steel dome erected over the needs of the working class. The "party system" no longer aims to represent conflicts, nor to mediate or organise them: it delegates them to "economic interests" and poses itself as the specific form of the State, separate from and hostile to movements in society. The political system becomes more rigid, more frantically counterposed to civil society. The party system no longer "receives" the thrusts from the base; it controls and represses them.

The Concretisation Of The New Form Of The State

This race among the parties (above all the PCI) to arrive at ever-tighter links, this new edition of the constitutional pact signed during the Resistance and then violated by the Christian Democrats, is happening today under the banner of the ideology of the crisis and the imposition of austerity. The connective chain which simultaneously binds the parties within the new constitutional pact, and counterposes them as a machine hostile to civil society, to the society which expresses new needs, to the class composition, is represented by the ideology of the crisis. The form of the State is now becoming open and explicit through the consolidation of the pact within the "party system". It does not, in other words, depend on the strengthening of the military-repressive apparatus: the latter is subordinate to the level of homogeneity of the "party system".

This process is a complex one, and has met with a thousand obstacles: but by now it is clearly the only way if the present power equilibrium are to be maintained. Since the student uprisings in 1977, the movement towards an all-party coalition to confront the crisis has accelerated .

But if the form of the State, which is becoming explicit, cannot be reduced simply to the strengthening of its repressive apparatus, how then is it concretised? So far, at least, it has been concretised through a system of values, of political norms, unwritten rules governing all parties in the democratic arena, which de facto decide what is legitimate, what is legal or illegal, what is productive or unproductive, etc. Since the framework for this consensus is provided by a precise ideology of crisis, a certain type of intellectual has assumed major importance as a propagator or exponent of the "collective consciousness" in this period.

Treason Of The Intellectuals,Liberalisation Of Access To Education,And The World Of Revenue

The front-line responsibility for providing the basic arguments behind the ideology of crisis clearly lies with the profession of economists. This applies not only to the high priests of the regime. It includes young economists who have taken up university posts, backed by Cambridge or Harvard promotion, and very often open to links with the trade unions. Faced with the alternatives of working-class commitment or bourgeois-academic economic science, they have invariably, more or less explicitly, opted for the latter. In certain cases, precisely through a differing interpretation of the dominant ideology of the crisis, they have contributed to it, and have helped to "close the circle". Such can be said, to give just one example, of the "New Left" economists of the Modena faculty: this could have become a centre for rigorous and well-documented counter-information to dismantle the false arguments behind the ideology of the crisis. Instead they preferred to keep quiet, or provided more lessons to the working class on prudence... how to be reasonable... how to surrender. This is only one example of the more general "treason of the intellectuals" of the 1968 generation, which has been one of the main factors allowing the task of Restoration to take place in the Universities in recent years, and has contributed to creating the radical culture gap between the movement of '68 and the movement of '77.

If the Italian political system has been able to interfere autonomously in the process of reproduction of classes via various sorts of State provision, one of the most important of these has clearly been the liberalisation of access to Universities since 1969. Some interpret this move as a means of eroding the working-class hegemony that matured in the wave of struggles in the late 'sixties, isolating it by promoting upward social mobility. If a project of this sort was ever formulated explicitly, we are not aware of it. Let us examine the mechanism. The liberalisation of access to Universities, at least on paper, favours social promotion. A working-class youth can escape the path of the previous generation, can avoid the necessity of factory or manual work. This operation is financed by distribution in the form of grants ? the University of Padova alone accounts for over 1,000,000 a year: and by an increase of teaching staff and supplementary part-time staff.

At this point the high priests of our economy begin to complain that the criteria for financing this social mobility determine in advance the class that will emerge from the liberalised University system: a lower-middle bourgeoisie which is subsidised and "living off welfare" rather than productive or disposed to work. They complain, in other words, that the prospect of jobs that differ from factory work is not a sufficient incentive to productive labour, but rather acts as a signpost towards receipt of income in the sphere of circulation, towards the world of revenue (money as money, removed from the circuit of productive capital). At this point the whole "party system" joins in the great debate on the reproduction of classes in Italy, its distortions, imbalances etc., the general conclusion being that it is not sufficient to reproduce a lower-to-middle bourgeoisie in an anti-working-class role, if this then becomes an unproductive class in receipt of revenue!

And so the scapegoat mythology of "Hunt the Parasite" - the linchpin of the crisis ideology ? comes to the fore. Backed by the "scientific" revelations of Sylos Labini, Gorreri, etc, this new game starts in earnest. A sort of vague egalitarianism emerges, which scrutinises the income of the clerical worker, the student and the tertiary worker, and says nothing, for example, about the transformation of capital-which-is-productive to capital-which-is-productive-of-interest: in its most shameful form, this egalitarianism assumes tones of worker chauvinism. It appears that it is no longer capital that exploits the worker, but the postman, the milkman and the student. These are the first shots in that "class analysis" which will later become the official ideology and the preferred argument of the super-paid editorial writers of the Regime's press. It is a crude and effective ideology. The liberalisation of University access is made to coincide with the crisis, with youth unemployment, with the reduction of the productive base, with the enlargement of the area of State subsidy. But most of all, to it is traced the radical new phase of the political behaviour of the masses. The circle closes: what was previously defined as "youth desperation", as "marginality" ? in other words, as a perverse effect, created by the crisis, of a mechanism which had been created and conceived as a means of stabilising the system and acting (though this is now quietly forgotten) in an anti-worker function!

Blocking Working Class Autonomy-Occupying The Political Spaces

It is not easy to untangle the mass of lies and half-truths which are contained in this distorted version of the class dynamic.The best answer is to return to the roots where it all began ? the cycle of struggle of 1968-69. The problem for the "party system" at that stage was not only that of blocking and marginalising a working class social hegemony which had shown itself in Italy for the first time since the Second World War. It was the problem, rather of uprooting the political forms in which this hegemony had manifested itself ? the political form of autonomy.

One answer lay in the technological-type provisions that were introduced in order to break up the central nucleus of the class (the change in organic composition, etc). But less obvious was the process by which the "party system" began the conquest of the terrain of working-class autonomy, presenting itself for the first time in the form of explicit State power.

This occurred in the factory itself, with the gradual removal of effective power from the delegates (shop stewards) in the factory Councils, and above all with the manipulation of the Workers' Assemblies, their gradual destruction as organs of independent working-class initiative and choice. The factories, which had been free from traditional party politics for more than a decade, and in which the organisation of autonomy from "politics" in the established sense was won in the cycle of mass struggles from the late 'sixties onwards, now once again became a political terrain of manipulation by the "party system". All the forms and instances of class autonomy, through which a real space for independent class politics had been conquered (even those related to trade-union mediation, such as shop steward organisation), were taken over and allowed to atrophy ? and meanwhile re-structuration rooted out and scattered the most homogeneous and militant groups in the plants. The "party system" took control of the organisational forms that remained, such as the Works Councils, turning them into parliamentary talking-shops.

At the same time, the extra-parliamentary groups began their suicidal retreat from the factory, and in general ceased to give much attention to problems of class composition. This has led to a situation where, today, the factory and the working class are almost unknown entities.

The larger the political space conquered by the extra-institutional movements, and the wider the cultural territory and the system of values and behaviour that these impose on decisive sections of the class, the more the form of the State as "party system" becomes increasingly open and aggressive.

But the form of the State cannot live only as a power that is hostile to extra-institutional movements: it needs a basic legitimation ? namely the legitimation of its coincidence with the laws of capitalist accumulation. By making itself the interpreter of the ideology of the crisis, by organising the new constraint-to-work and the policy of austerity and sacrifice, the State-form of the "party system" arrives at the highest point of integration within the system of capital, by a process of gradual abandonment of its autonomy. But what, then, are we to make of the claim by certain heirs of Togliatti that there exists an "autonomy of the political"? Where is this autonomy? Even where this autonomy had the greatest substance ? in the process of reproduction of classes _ the violence of the crisis has brought everything under the iron rule of the laws of capital.

Levels And Distribution Of Income And Class Composition

Despite all the talk about the effects of public intervention via the growth of public spending, all the most recent surveys (for example, the Bank of Italy's Bulletin for Oct/Dec 1976) show that in Italy there has been no change in the distribution of income, nor any substantial alteration in its composition.

Levels of income have not diminished, despite the crisis. Even the level of consumption of consumer durables has not fallen (in fact HP forms of payment have fallen). To discover how the proletariat, and in particular the working class, have not allowed themselves to be pushed to the brink of poverty by the crisis but have succeeded in increasing their needs and the means of satisfying them, would already tell us a great deal about the new class composition.

If consumption has not fallen, neither has the level of savings: and this point is significant for analysis of the "petty bourgeoisie" and (as we are led to believe) the mushroom growth of the "tertiary sector". Italian families have one of the highest rates of saving in the world: this would seem to confirm the hypothesis that the propensity to saving in the form of banking liquidity is a symptom of the "tertiary" disproportion of Italian society and its insufficient productive base.

And yet not only does the Bulletin show that savings of lower to middle income groups have increased (1973-76 ie in a period of savage inflation and devaluation of the lira) in the form of bank deposits, current accounts and post office savings; but also that this is a factor of equilibrium, recycling income through credit institutions, invested in the form of money capital in enterprises, public and private, and in Treasury Bonds financing public spending, services etc. The myth of the hypertrophy of the tertiary sector ? the common theme of the ideology of the crisis, from the Right to the "New" Left ? has no foundation. The OECD figures show that employment in the tertiary sector in Italy is among the lowest among advanced industrial countries: Italy 45%; USA 64%; Canada 62%; UK 54% ? only Federal Germany has a lower percentage. Moreover, the ISTAT statistics show tertiary employment to be concentrated mainly in the industrial North.

According to the schema presented by the prevalent propaganda of the crisis, we would expect a flow of credit to promote an unproductive revenue-based layer of society ? the lower-to-middle bourgeoisie, as a prop of political stability ? and a disproportionate flow of resources to the tertiary sector. Not so! The special credit institutions (promoted by the State), according to the Bulletin, direct more financing towards industry (a three-times higher proportion), or to transport and communications (one and a half times higher) than to commerce, services and public administration. Housing alone ? a remarkable fact ? takes up double the investment on the whole tertiary sector put together!

The Monetary Crisis,The Property Market,And its Effect on Class Stratification's

There is a specific relation between the property market and the monetary crisis. Property is the first refuge for the security of the savings of the "petty bourgeoisie" ? but also for the investment of petrodollars, the basis of the empire of real-estate investment trusts, insurance companies, pension funds etc, including the most adventurous kinds of speculative activity. According to the US Federal Reserve, at the end of 1975, about a quarter of the credits of US banks were in housing. While between 1971-74 "land and land development loans" (above all for suburban development) tripled, commercial bank credits to real estate trusts and mortgage companies more than doubled.

In this way the prices of suburban areas have increased, making it more productive for capital to develop suburban housing, and distancing social strata with higher incomes away from city centres, while at the same time depriving those city centres of rates, taxes etc, and setting in motion the mechanism of "fiscal crisis" of public spending, which is by now a well-observed fact. However, we are only at the start of this process, because the acquisition of suburban areas has not been followed by an equally large movement of construction; while the race was on to capture land, the actual construction of housing saw a dramatic decline: if we add single-family and multi-family housing, we see a big increase in the period 1971-72, and then a sudden drop in January 1973 to December 1974. When construction began to lift off again, it was in the single-family sector, and was very weak indeed in the multi-family sector.

Hence vast tracts of suburban landscape are waiting to be built on, in order to make productive the capital that has been "fixed" there. In the metropolitan centres, which have become the privileged zones for the petrification of capital, the mechanism differs: in order to get this capital moving, to give it once again the form of commodity and exchange value, a specific financial structure has been created ? a series of special speculative institutions, invented through the crisis, which have increased the rhythm of transfer of property deeds and have given a considerable impulse to the velocity of circulation of money, without it passing through a process of production. In the United States too ? and probably more so than in Italy ? the "construction interest" has used the crisis in order to subtract resources from productive capital. Thus, there has not been a "shortage of capital" as some people have maintained: companies' risk capital has been furnished in large measure by private pension funds, which, according to Peter Drucker, today hold one third of all share capital in the USA. Thus it would appear that productive capital has been financed by the contributions of workers, while the institutional investors ? and particularly the banks which control them ? have preferred to take the path of speculation in property or in exchange rates.

The huge drain of financial resources on the part of real estate and property capital brings us back to the question of the "party system". The powers conferred on local administrations are as yet uncertain, but there is no doubt that in Italy the "party system" represents the most important conditioning factor in the property market. Large controllers of territory (the DC and the PCI) can, through planning controls, force a bargaining process onto the "construction interest", can force it to make payoffs (which, however, are insignificant compared with the powers that the "construction interest" confers onto the "party system", as regards the directing and control of class dynamics). As some more intelligent analyses have shown, the construction cycle in Italy has functioned as a pump to drain away income from workers and redistribute it to the middle classes on the one hand, and to the "construction interest" on the other.

The attack on incomes via the cost of housing has a direct effect on class stratification's, and is a factor of violent proletarianisation; the enforced shift towards badly-served peripheral urban areas is a powerful factor of emargination. The classes, redrawn through this process, take on the typical mixed characteristics of a period of crisis. The waged worker who, through the guarantees of trade unionism, manages to maintain his income levels, but who, for reasons of housing problems, lives in a marginalised area, produces economic, social and political patterns of behaviour that stand halfway between the "guaranteed" working class and the sub-proletariat even if the actual status of his job might otherwise place him in the lower-to-middle bourgeoisie.

A considerable part of the political behaviour of the young proletariat during the recent struggles should be understood starting from town as a space of intervention in class dynamics. The mythical "reconquest of the city centres" is a reaction to the marginalising threat which the unholy alliance of the "construction lobby" and the "party system" is bringing about. Within this "reconquest of the city centres" there is the desire to count as a political subject, to break the institutional balances, to interfere once again in the internal relations of the "party system", a refusal to be classified as an "area of culture", and that's all.

The Total Subordination Of The Party System To THe Politics Of The Crisis

To conclude: inflation and the mechanisms of the crisis have considerably eroded the power of the "party system" to intervene autonomously in the process of reproduction of classes in Italy. The relative autonomy of the political distribution of income has been greatly narrowed. The possibility of creating status differences via income differentials, dispensing cash through transfers of income, supplementing incomes in the public services etc has been diminished. The question of "rational demographic composition" (to which Gramsci referred in the 1930s) is now coming to depend primarily on capitalist development alone, on the organic composition of aggregate capital. Even the process of tertiary growth or creation of unproductive sectors now depends more on the development of fixed capital than on any autonomous intervention on the part of the political elite's.

Nobody would deny that the "party system" had the power in past years to interfere with some independence in this process ? vie economic controls over credit and distribution of cash as revenue, or through export of the proletariat. But at the same time, the "distorting effect" of these choices is deliberately exaggerated by the PCI and the official labour movement. Their result overall does not seem especially different (for example in the case of the growth of tertiary activity) from the developments in other industrial countries. Nor have they resulted, at least until recently, in any significant change in the distribution of income.

If anything, they have created a social and industrial structure acutely sensitive to the problem of savings ? permitting a centralisation of unproductive incomes and their recycling in the form of money capital and public spending. The powers that the "party system" does still deploy, no longer over the reproduction of classes, but over the new class aggregation that has been formed through the crisis, are located at a different level, (ie in externalised forms of control at the socio-territorial level to disaggregate and disintegrate the unity of the class, and in perverse relations with specific sectors of speculative capital such as the property market.)

It is from within these narrow limits that the new form of the State is derived. This is not to be seen as the concluding phase of the much-vaunted "autonomy of the political" vis-a-vis "economic" development, but rather as an entirely opposite process: that of the total subordination of the "party system" to the politics of the crisis.

The reproduction of classes has become a problem of political legitimation rather than material intervention: a question of social and cultural identity, of acceptance or refusal to accept the norms of social behaviour required and laid down by the form of the State. Classes have tended to lose their "objective" characteristics and become defined in terms of political subjectivity. But in this process the major force of redefinition has come from below: in the continuous reproduction and invention of systems of counterculture and struggle in the sphere of everyday living, which become ever more "illegal". The liberation of this area of autonomy outside and against official social institutions, is stronger than the system of values the "party system" seeks to impose.

Hence the new form of the State, or rather its unmasking, already finds itself in a critically weak condition. To turn to the bureaucratic-repressive apparatus, to a "power-Sate" pure and simple, would mean the end of the "party system" itself, as established for more than thirty years.

What we have witnessed in the crisis is the subjection of the political system on the part of capital, the destruction of its "autonomy". This cannot be properly understood unless we see it in relation to the centralisation of capitalist command which defines the politics of the crisis for all parties (ie the area of "politics" itself). This centralisation is formally represented in monetary institutions, from central banks to the IMF.

For the past three years, we in Primo Maggio have been pointing out a fact which is now generally accepted: economic policy choices ? and hence also the criteria upon which class relations in national states are being conditioned ? are no longer the result of negotiation or bargaining between parties, unions and so on (in other words mediated relations of force between classes and interests, but are laid down by external constraints determined by (in the last instance) the International Monetary Fund.

It is this new institutional reality of power on an international scale that provides the basic guidelines for the logic of current ideology of the crisis and scarcity, and hence also the propaganda for austerity measures. The Carter Administration has developed this particular aspect of money as capitalist command as the basis of US global policy. The relaunching of US hegemony depends in addition on results already acquired, which allow the USA control over scarcity, especially in the key sectors of food and energy internationally.

("The US have emerged as the key source of global nutritional stability" -Secretary Brzezinski, in Foreign Policy No. 23). Every "national" choice in the area of basic energy and food must come up against an international division of labour that the USA intends to have respected. The technology of food processing will be as jealously defended as petroleum or uranium. Today it is command over wage commodities above all that regulates the relations between the USA and the rest of the world. Since the PCI victory in the 1976 elections and its acceptance of Italy's membership of NATO, followed by the recent DC electoral revival, the Carter Administration, while cautious, has come round to the realistic recognition that the only solution for political management of the crisis in Italy is the reinforcement of the pact binding together the "party system" and a "government of majority parties", including the PCI: as the sole condition, in other words, for the implementation of "austerity by consent".

The Recomposition Of The Working Class In The Period Since The Late 1960's

So far we have concentrated on the recomposition of capitalist command in the crisis and the unfolding of the State form through rigidification of the "party system". We must now turn to the other side ? class recomposition. To take the factory or the University as a starting point is not a problem, in that both are enclaves of resistance and recovery of an alternative class politics ? either starting point would serve us just as well.

If we take the subjective development of the movement through the period since the cycle of class offensive in the late 'sixties, we can distinguish two main phases of struggle. In the first, from 1969 to the oil crisis of 1973-74, the attack on the central militant core of the working class by means of restructuration, reorganisation of production etc, was combined with the "strategy of tension" (terroristic use of secret services, clandestine proto-fascist activity backed by the State, with considerable use of Fascist personnel). The most recent generation of militants formed around the movement of 1968-69 was consumed in the response to this attack: following the "parenthesis" of the workers' offensive, they returned to the classic schemas of the party form ? the tight relation between programme and organisation, and a perspective on the struggle for power articulated according to the tactics of a militant anti-fascist movement, combined with the conquest of the formal, electoral level of politics. During this first phase the "party system" was not yet "congealed" into the form of the State: it was divided in a sharp opposition between an executive, which mobilised the clandestine levels of the State (from the secret services to the magistracy), and an opposition which revived the democratic values and traditions of the anti-fascist Resistance. This was, in other words, a phase of partial re-absorption of the preceding forms of class autonomy by the "party system", a recovery of the ideological and organisational traditions of the official working-class movement: a certain "introjection" of the "party system" within the revolutionary movement itself.

As regards the relation between subjectivity and models of organisation on the revolutionary Left, this first period, from the State-Fascist bombing provocation of Piazza Fontana (Milan, December 1969) to the eventual defeat of the "strategy of tension" (even if its ramifications continued up to the June 1976 Election), was marked by a general rejection of the creative hypotheses of the movement of 1968-69. This was accompanied by the rebirth in the movement of ultra-Bolshevik models of organisation, or ? in the case of groups like the MLS (Workers' Socialist Movement, based on the Milan student movement), Manifesto, Avanguardia Operaia and PDUP ? of traditional historical Togliattian models, embellished, at most, with Maoism. There was, in other words, a certain revival of the historic organisational; epoch of the Italian Communist Party and movement, from Gramsci to the Resistance.

This revival drastically marginalised the classic "workerist" area of autonomy inherited from the worker-student movement of 1968-69, as well as the anarchist, situationist, and more intransigent Marxist-Leninist groups.

The central nucleus of the "workers' autonomy" tendency, represented by Potere Operaio (Workers' Power) and Collettivo Politico Metropolitano (Metropolitan Political Collective), having come up against the institutional-political limits of a strategy based on the political potential of factory wage struggles, made a dramatic choice in favour of fighting for the militarisation of the movement. This similarly involved slogans like "overcoming the spontaneity of the autonomous mass movement" and "building the armed party". It involved staking everything on levels of organised militancy, professional cadres etc. This was to be a losing battle. But the main problem now is to grasp how and why the margins of the "movement" were so drastically curtailed, deprived of political space, while only hypotheses of party organisation survived in this period.

(This essay continues below.)