Mirafiori goes Udyog Vihar / Bhagat Singh in Tijuana –
Material on “Operaismo”: Marxism from a Workers’ Perspective
Web-Links for further readings:
The global and historical character of the current crisis forces us to coordinate both debate and practice ‘for workers self-emancipation’ on an international scale. Following texts are selective, but we think that they can stand as examples for ‘general theses’, ‘concrete analysis’ and ‘historical debate’ of class struggle and revolutionary movement.
The Renascence of Operaismo (1995)
Operaismo and Workers Inquiry
(published German, in ‘wildcat’ no.64/65:
In 1989 Sergio Bologna started a lecture about Gramsci’s ›Americanismo e Fordismo‹ with a description of the situation of the Italian Left: He began by recalling the years 1969-73, where in Italy, as in no other country in the world, the “factory as the place of the self-organisation of the working class and the development of new modes of behaviour; as a laboratory of the new subjectivity” exercised a “hegemony” over the whole society and the party system.
In contrast to this, work today has been politically excluded in a grotesque way, the working class characterised as environmentally unfriendly and uncooperative, as a hindrance to social and technical innovation. “No-one speaks of ›workers‹ as a collective any more, one always speaks of individual groups”. Bologna evaluates this as a “cultural crisis”.
On one hand racism is noticeable in large sections of the population, on the other hand a new anti-racism is emerging: “While the left is suppressing its traditional base, it is at the same time utterly possessed by philanthropic activism concerning the new immigrants. The indigenous sections of the proletariat feel even more excluded by this and can develop anti-foreigner reactions […] The new ›friends of the environment‹ and a section of the Greens have succeeded in making a big contribution to the cultural-political exclusion of the working class with their idea of the working class as a hindrance to environmentally friendly innovations”. They wilfully ignore the fact that in the 1970s the workers themselves formed a movement against the ill-making effects of the factories.
Bitter words of a “mouldy” Operaist (1) of the Italian Left. The Left who have thrown away their past and their instruments of analysis with one mighty heave and whose cult of consciousness lets the middle class’s hate of the worker shine through. (2)
Five years later, in November ’94, at a small conference organised by the newspapers Collegamenti-Wobbly and Per il ’69, a new development was discernable: a recollection of the ›workers inquiry‹ and the resumption of a discussion that had been violently broken off by the repression from 1979 onwards.
In time for this meeting were also new publications in which the initiatives of the time were presented with all their contradictions and experimental character – and without the reductionism caused by organisational constraints and interests. At the conference comrades who had already been active by the end of the ’50s reported to the ›youth‹ their praxis of ›workers inquiry‹ in the textile factories and in the car and electro industries. One contribution to the discussion compared the starting point at the beginning of the ’60s with the situation today and remarked on a few similarities:
* ›Socialism‹ has died twice: in Budapest in 1956 and with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
* In the early ’60s there was a qualitative leap in the development of the European market, today this kind of leap is taking place in the world market.
* The violent restructuring in the factories in the phase of switching to mass production then, and to ›lean production‹ today.
* A qualitative leap in the migration (in the ’60s the movement of millions of proletarians from the south to the north Italy;, today the migration from Eastern Europe and North Africa).
* As well as this, the crisis that the unions find themselves stuck in today is similar to the early ’60s.
For a small group of Socialists and Communists, who were theoretically uncertain, and for whom the handed down ideologies were not sufficient explanations, the radical changes of the late ’50s acted as an impetus for a fundamental process of inquiry.
But history does not repeat itself! Every economic upturn brings with it an increase in potential workers’ power, but this does not necessarily amount to the emergence of struggles. The situation today cries out for a similar endeavour at a radical attempt at reorientation, as the militants of the workers’ inquiry tackled the situation in the late ’50s/early ’60s. It is only through such an attempt that we can get to grips with the real conditions of exploitation and its existence as a constant conflict, and discover the potential for change.
What is militant inquiry?
Inquiry is something concrete that all revolutionaries should do, and most already have done. In contrast to bourgeois ideology and the corset of orthodox Marxism, it is to look for the real relations, just as Marx himself did. In doing so we have to treat the Marxist ideology in the same way as Marx dealt with the bourgeois science.
To do inquiry is to break with the official myths, to be engaged with real people, to ask them questions without knowing beforehand what is supposed to come out of it. On the other hand it also means political-theoretical work. In order to know what questions should be asked, a hypothesis is necessary. Hypotheses about how the class will establish itself anew as a political subject in the process of radical change.
As a basis for such an inquiry today we suggest the text by Karl Heinz Roth (3), in which he puts forward the hypotheses that a new proletariat is developing and it is developing on a worldwide scale. In the six months after its appearance the text was, rightly, knocked down for its theoretical and analytical weaknesses in many discussion circles. But in order that this does not remain an academic hobby, the work of a collective inquiry, that attempts to find out what this ›re-making‹ of the proletariat really looks like, now has to begin. The first part of this being the examination of the hypotheses through large-scale discussions with workers in the modern factories, ›precarious‹ or ›casual‹ workers, immigrants, so-called self-employed workers etc.. Secondly, the development of a more exact concept. Thirdly it means to actively intervene with initiatives of struggle and attempts at organising, in order to accelerate the collective process of understanding and to uncover the underlying tendency to communism that resonates in the class movements. Together with the workers, to find forms of struggle that are not repetitions of the old ones.
The beginnings of workers inquiry in Italy
In the following we want to present the first (the method) and the third (the intervention) of the above points, using the workers inquiries in Italy in the early ’60s as an example. To do this we firstly have to sweep out of the way a few myths about those genius Italian Operaists. Workers’ Inquiry is not an Italian invention and only feasible in Italy. Neither is it a crowbar that can create struggles where there are not any and find the ›Archimedes point‹ to leaver the system off its hinges (as it was described at the time!). But through their inquiry the Operaists were prepared for the coming struggles, had analysed the problems within the factories and had followed the workers discussions, in order to be able to write the workers demands in a leaflet and assert them as a political line in meetings and assemblies. They had learned “that there is already struggle, before it breaks out into the open”. (4)
One difficulty in the reconstruction of the workers struggles in the early ’60s and the beginnings of ›Operaist‹ theory lies in the fact that the history started to be written retrospectively starting from the end of this phase, i.e. the experience of the ›hot autumn‹ of 1969. So the beginnings of this movement have been simplified in hindsight, as for example Dario Lanzardo showed in the subsequent reflection of the events that took place in the Piazza Statuto in Turin in 1962. He criticised the subsequent writing of history that gives the impression that “the mass worker” marched as a compact block out of the factories into the town centre and revolted against the unions. In the Fiat plant, from which the workers demo started, there were no immigrants from the South employed, but rather almost all were qualified workers from the Piedmont region of Italy. 600 workers took part in the demo. At the riot at the end it was mostly young people and the residents of the surrounding proletarian parts of the town who took part in large numbers. As to who they really were, there were only strongly politically biased opinions. From the legal case notes one can see that quite a few young PCI (Communist Party of Italy) members took part, who later found themselves in trouble with the party due to this. (5)
During the ’50s Italy went through an epochal transformation. The development of industry and the up-turn in the economy employed millions of people, who migrated from the poor south to the cities in the north and were not well received by the people living there, workers included. They were said to be stupid, uncivilised, apolitical, idiots who put up with anything, and who put pressure on the wages. It was common at the time for landlords to hang a sign up, “Room free. Not for Southern Italians”.
The previously unknown rise of mass consumption was based on hard work, low wages and an iron command in the factories. At Fiat the active communist functionaries were banned from the shop floor or put out of action in out-of-the-way departments. The union had already given up on the Fiat factories and concentrated their work on smaller companies. On a political level the party of the working class took part in the “national reconstruction” and guaranteed the social peace in exchange for workplaces.
At the end of the ’50s the situation for the Italian Left was characterised by the following facts: The soviet ›mother-party‹ had been shooting workers in uprisings in Berlin in 1953 and in Budapest in 1956, so their credibility was also badly shaken in Western Europe. The socialist party (PSI), in which many anti-Stalinists had sought refuge, was on its way to social democracy. A process that ended in their taking part in government in 1963 and the division of the party. In 1959 the workers of the wool industry in the region around Biella started the first self-organised strikes again. In a few metal and chemical factories in the Po Valley workers strikes broke out of the years of stagnation.
The new mixed economy that in Italy was built up with Marshall Plan money after the Second World War was termed as ›neo-capitalism‹. While the institutional left saw in this the chance for a peaceful way to socialism through the expansion and control of the state sectors (an anti-monopoly alliance), the left communists were seeing the end of the revolutionary power of the working class, because the working class were being integrated into the system.
Neo-capitalism is planned capitalism. The assertion that everything can be planned and society thereby arranged or organised, to be able to steer ways of behaving, through the supply of consumer goods amongst other ways, was the dominant ideology. In the ’50s Sociology was the corresponding dominant social science. (In the ’70s, when the emphasis was on the change of the individual person, it was psychology and today it is the political economy, in which the economy is seen as the dominant material or practical constraint).
The mainstream of US industrial sociology pronounces this as the disappearance of the working class, the integration of the ›affluent worker‹, their ›assimilation into the middle classes‹ and production becoming part of the so called ›service sector‹ (tertiarisation).
Along with this comes the ›critical‹ or left sociology which researches the work conditions in the factories and the miserable jobs and demands the ›humanisation‹ of the organisation of work. ›Participation‹ and the discovery of the ›whole person‹ were the key words of the enlightened faction of capital. Olivetti, regarded as a ›social‹ employer brought the psychologists and the sociologists into the factory to improve the human relations. The influential ›party of the sociologists‹ made politics, writes Alquati. (6)
The main object of inquiry of the industrial sociologists was the ›new worker‹, the ›new working class‹: the educated, skilled, technical worker, employed in the highly technical or automated production, who is clearly different from the image of the traditional working class and who it was predicted at the time would soon be playing a central role in the production process. One guessed that the form of conflicts within companies would also change. An enormous amount of studies appeared on this subject from the USA and France, which were translated into Italian in the early ’60s, brought out by Montaldi and Panzieri in the left publishing houses Feltrinelli and Einaudi.
The socialist (non-Marxist) left pushed ahead with this preoccupation with sociology, while Togliatti’s PCI were vehemently opposed to any kind of sociology, as were the traditional left-communist groups. It also fits that the PCI had not played any kind of role in company politics for years and hardly discussed the relations in the factories at all. The sociologists were the only ones who were going into the factories and getting engaged with the changes in the organisation of work and the new modes of behaviour – a situation that is comparable today. While the rest of the left retreated into ideology and repeated, parrot fashion, the ideas about the end of mass production or the chances of teamwork, the multi-functional skilled worker experienced a steep increase in exploitation and work-stress. The workers are equally alone today.
The real working class did not have much to do with the ›ideal working class‹ or ›idea of the class as a whole‹, whose representatives the institutions of the labour movement saw themselves. So some young dissidents grasped eagerly at the instruments of field research, which the sociologist had tried out, to analyse the new reality of work. “It was mainly about the various facets of an initial exploration of the terrain, which we were just as ›outside‹ of as the labour movement, and it was not easy to enter. Needless to say, it was also unknown to the Italian Left, and so long as one is standing outside, the (French, English and American) industrial sociologists had some ideas to offer”. (7) To undertake an inquiry was a refusal of the orthodox Marxist habit of extrapolating the development of the working class from an analysis of capitalist development.
What is the class? – The precursor of workers inquiry in France…
The anti-Stalinist left in France has a long tradition of inquiry. Even during the time of the popular front they were holding discussions about the epochal changes in the working class composition through the introduction of the semi-automatic machine tools. At the time generally-trained skilled workers were being replaced by workers specialising in the operation of a single machine. The Trotskyist militant and industrial sociologist Pierre Naville researched the antagonism in these new relations of production instead of ›deriving‹ the development of the working class out of the technical development. For example he looked at the working time, which in no way sunk with the introduction of machinery, but rather rose steeply. The reduction of work time is purely the results of the struggle of the ›workers’ coalition‹. This discussion was published in his journal Cahiers rouges [The Red Notebook].
From the tradition of council communism came the group Socialisme ou Barbarie [Socialism or Barbary], which had as some of its members Lefort, Castoriadis and Mothe. In the early ’50s they anticipated much of what would later become known as ›workers’ autonomy‹ in Italy. Following out of Marx’s theses (“the largest force of production is the revolutionary class itself”), Lefort (8) understood the proletariat not as a physical mass, as it was seen in orthodox Marxism, but rather as a self-forming subject of history. To work for the emancipation of the workers, means grasping the seeds of subjective self-constitution as the oppositional force against exploitation within the ›proletarian experience‹. And it is neither by giving sermons to the workers nor, on the question of how to overcome the current situation, by falling back on the party, in whichever form, that appears as Deus ex machina. Lefort proposed an inquiry to understand the existing form of social co-operation, which would allude to an overthrow of the capitalist mode of production. His main interest was in the specific character of the ‹proletarian experience‹, from which the class would constitute itself.
The words from the Communist Manifesto “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles” has lost none of its explosive character, he wrote. The pseudo-Marxists turned the theory of class struggle into an economic science and reduced the proletariat to performers of their economic function. But the proletariat throughout history have not only reacted, but in reality have agitated, intervened, and not according to some scheme pre-determined by objective situations, but on the basis of their own experience in its totality. It would be absurd to interpret the workers movement without continually reflecting on the economic structure of the society – but to reduce it to this alone means leaving out three quarters of the concrete class behaviour.
The bourgeoisie, just like the working class, unite in their common interests. However, the common interest of the workers is something quite different: it lies in ceasing to be a worker. I.e. far from performing their economic function, it means radically negating it. The existing conditions of the workers themselves demand a constant struggle for change, i.e. a constant liberation from its immediate fate. The advance in this struggle, and the development of its ideological content that allows this liberation, forms the experience through which the class will constitute itself.
Lefort tried to apply Marx’s questioning in the ›German Ideology‹ to the situation of the time: How do the people appropriate their labour under the conditions of industrial work? How do they practically produce their relation to the rest of the society? How do they piece together a common experience, one that forms them into a historical power? He distances himself from Lenin’s view, in which the proletariat form one unity, whose historical task is set for all time, who are created by the relations of power and where only the relations of power are of interest. Lefort saw the activities of the proletariat in all their contradictions: On one hand in the form of resistance, which constantly forces the employer to improve the method of exploitation and on the other in their adjustments to the advancements, in their active collaboration with them: the workers themselves find answers to the thousands of problems that are thrown up by the detailed practicalities of production. The results look like a systematic answer and get the name ›invention‹. So the rationalisation merely incorporates, interprets and integrates the dispersed and anonymous innovations that originate in the concrete production process.
Up to this point the proletariat had been researched in three ways: economically, ideologically and historically. Lefort suggested a fourth starting point: he wanted to reconstruct the proletariat’s attitude to work and to society, from what was already within the proletariat itself. He wanted their power of invention and their strong social organisation to appear in daily life. Lefort was the first person to undertake an inquiry on this basis. It had not been done before – neither by Marx nor by the so-called ‘worker‹ sociologists of the USA, who Lefort saw as doing the work of the bosses. The ›enlightened‹ capitalists had discovered that the material rationalisation has its limits; that the human-object will react in a particular way; that one has to pay attention to them if one wants to exploit them effectively. But due to their class perspective these sociologists can’t get hold of the proletarian character, because they are approaching from the outside and are only able to see the worker as producer, as a mere performer, irrevocably bound up in the capitalist exploitation.
The inquiry of the social life of the proletariat should not be a study of the class from the outside – but rather should answer the precise questions that today are being posed explicitly by the vanguard of the workers and implicitly by the majority of the class. Lefort collected statements and accounts written by workers, life histories, individual experiences of the relations to their work, the relations to other workers, the social life outside of the factory and the bonds of a proletarian tradition and history.
He writes that options can change, that they often carry with them mysticifications but that “all workers have got in common the experience of exploitation, the experience of alienation – all workers know this. Every bourgeois person notices this straight away when he enters a working class area”. To track down this workers mode of behaviour is the aim of the inquiry. Is there a ›class mentality‹?
With this questioning Lefort is by no means aiming at a ›workerism‹ that denies the necessity of a critical theory and he has always distanced himself from this: “From a revolutionary standpoint, the act of gathering this kind of information could enable us to show how a worker fuses with his class and whether his relationship with his social group is different from a petit-bourgeois’ or bourgeois’ relationship with his or her own group. Does the proletarian connect his fate, on all levels of his existence, consciously or not, with the fate of his class? Classic expressions like class consciousness and class behaviour are often too abstract: Can we check them concretely? According to Marx, the proletarian, in contrast to the bourgeois, is not simply member of his class, he is an individual, a member of a community, and he is conscious of the fact that he can only liberate himself collectively. Can we concretely verify this Marxist assumption?
… and in Italy: Danilo Montaldi
The communist Danilo Montaldi, expelled from the Communist Party of Italy, built up a small group around him in Cremona and wrote for various left communist newspapers. He learned about the theory and practice of workers inquiry from his contact with Socialisme ou Barbarie. He translated a few workers’ biographies into Italian and took part in similar projects. In 1960 he published an inquiry into the life of immigrants from south Italy living in Milan with the title ›Milan, Korea‹. One cannot discover any consistent ›method‹ used by Montaldi: he worked ›interdisciplinary‹, using literary elements, for instance letting people write out their stories and histories using their own means of expression. And he used methods from sociology, a subject he had looked at in detail. Montaldi’s works are a constant search of the subjective as a means of understanding the history and life of the class. In the inquiry into the immigrants from the south, into the life of the sub-proletariat during Fascism, into the political rank and file militants, he was always searching for communism as a ‹structural need‹, searching for the subjectivity of the class, the ›class for itself‹. All this was his attempt at the reconstruction of a ›class party‹, a party consisting of ›comrades who could have membership cards of various different parties‹.
Montaldi researched the reality around him. His work was explicitly directed against the mysteries of the ›true primitive man‹ that was used at the end of the ’50s to suppress thoughts about the present. (His critique of this kind of academic work is surprisingly reminiscent of the lack of context in the way oral history has been practiced here in the last 20 years (i.e. after the class struggle perspective was given up on). “While the industry in Italy becomes more concentrated, while the agricultural world goes from one crisis to another […] this great mourning for the way of life of the past or for remaining antiquated ways of life increases. The enthusiasm, research and analysis of what is not current, what is marginal. In this persistent hunt lies something retrograde, a false consciousness of the society in which we live, a shrinking back. While in Italy the dictatorship of the monopoly has become every more public in the last few years, the cultural interest fall back on those aspects of social life that are in the process of declining. Not so bad, if it is about bringing to light the totality of the everyday conditions from the south up to the north. But in the analysis that attempts an interpretation of the antiquated lifestyle, there is almost always a glaring omission of the fact that this phenomena is connected with the present system. This tendency encourages a certain cultural reformism that is itself an expression of a crisis that expresses the wish to be a part of it itself […] But we can see the effects that it has on a cultural level. […] the chronicle of the manners and customs of the descendants of the Ligurians, who settled in Sardina 400 years ago, is more ›interesting‹ than the situation in the Fiat production plants; the dialect of the gaffers is surely more beautiful than the non-accidental silence of the workers in the base organisations. (We are not interested in lapsing into the folk-law aspects of this, but rather in looking at how this figure of an a-historical person has been set up between us. One who has fate and nature as his enemies.”) (9)
The Quaderni rossi
The Italian Operaismo originated in discussion circles around the journal Quaderni rossi, which first appeared in Turin in 1961. (Quaderni rossi also means red notebook and so shows their connection to Cahiers rouges). Those who collected around the paper were mainly young comrades from the PSI and PCI (some of whom had left their parties, and some of whom were still members), union activists and students, those who were looking around for other possibilities for practical political work and theoretical debate. Although for the majority of them ›Operaismo‹ was a swearword from which they strongly distanced themselves, just as much as from the insult of ›anarcho-syndicalist‹. They saw themselves not as extremists, but as representatives of a majority current of the working class. ›Operaismo‹ was first accepted as a political culture when the political situation in Italy was completely turned on its head for several years by the workers struggles of 1969 and afterwards.
The Quaderni rossi journal was a crystallisation point of various political ›scenes‹, interests and political bases that were seen as, and saw themselves as, an opposition to the institutional labour movement. They critically examined the theories that were being discussed worldwide, took anti-Stalinist experiences into account and re-read Marx. Their emphasis was clearly on the inquiry into the class antagonism in production. Raniero Panzieri is counted as the ›founder‹ of the project and a man full of ideas and inspiration. He was an intellectual from Rome who, as a PSI functionaire, had helped organise land workers’ struggles in Sicily in the ’50s. He had also made a new Italian translation of the second volume of Capital. His initial aim was to put the Socialist Party back on a ›revolutionary‹ course i.e. to fight against its increasingly social democratic direction and its aim of taking part in government, and rather than being propped up by parliament, to be ever more founded on the (land and factory) workers base. He used the party newspaper Mondo operaio [Workers’ World] as an instrument, being as he was, chief editor. He initiated a broad discussion with his text ›Theses on Workers’ Control‹, written together with Libertini, which was a strong critique of the concept of state socialism. When he failed with this course inside the party, he moved to Turin “to find the working class inside the factory again”. In 1961 he finally left the central committee of the PSI after years of conflict.
The times where everything happened inside the organisations were over. In 1960 Panzieri had a discussion with the socialist leader Lelio Basso on the question “should one be active in the historical party of the labour movement or in autonomous political intervention groups”. Panzieri took the standpoint, that when one is in a situation where not a current of the party, but the party as such (the PSI), is in a crisis, one “should not put new wine into old flasks”, but rather one has to look for a political line “on the level of the base itself”; not to limit ones self to protecting an inheritance, that is anyhow now redundant, but to start from “an examination, that the movement today luckily allows”. (10) After a discussion in the office of the PSI in Mestre, which very many workers took part in, he wrote to Montaldi:
“It was really a shame, when one admits that such lively force is being used up in the current narrow corridors, bottlenecks and mystifications of the PSI (and the same goes for the PCI).
I am continually more persuaded that one has to create focus points totally independent from the party structure and hierarchy, which these class forces can look at with full trust, these forces that are conscious of the lies of the official politics of the parties, but does not want to renounce their connection. A connection that is not transmitted by a trust in the ›authorities‹, but by their consciousness and their class solidarity, and thereby is a concrete strength against the bosses, a revolutionary will. We have to tackle the practical problem; how we can create a connection between our own groups with a revolutionary orientation both within and outside of the parties, and in an organisationally public form, in so far as one has to avoid any appearance of a small sect, as that is the most terrible error into which all small groups of the workers’ left have deteriorated”. (11)
Panzieri saw the Quaderni rossi journal as a political instrument directed at creating a unified / unifying revolutionary movement of the working class, i.e. one not divided into the various parties. The group drew hope for an revival in the workers movement from the 1959 strike wave in the metal and textile industries and above all from the actions against the Party Day of the MSI [the fascist party] in 1960 in Genoa, the main town of communist resistance. For the first time lots of young workers took part in the militant demonstrations. In the emergence of this ›new forces‹, a generation that was no longer characterised by the Resistance, Quaderni rossi identified a possible reversal of the situation at Fiat, the ›middle point‹ of capitalist development in Italy. (12)
“We took part in the metal workers strike on Christmas eve 1959. A small group of comrades in Milan had begun to research the situation at Marelli, Pirelli etc. On the whole, between 1958 and 1961 we began the analysis and engagement with the factories like unravelling a puzzle, and to recreate the contact to the workers inside these factories… So the revolt of the workers against the fascists in Genoa in July 1960 was extremely meaningful for us. In this movement that kicked off across the whole of Italy against the Tambroni government, there was clearly the potential of mass movement. This had the effect on the comrades of whipping them up and inspired them to drive forward the inquiry and organising. In my opinion 1960 was exceptionally important: for several comrades, for myself, it was the first time that we found ourselves with precise functions inside a mass movement and we noticed for the first time its extraordinary strength and its capability to turn the power relations upside-down through militancy of the workers and the proletarians’ mode of behaviour”. (13)
The inquiry was the means of approaching the ›real working class‹. In Italy at the time there were a few small groups undertaking such ›inquiries‹ and discussing the political consequences. Usually ›inquiries‹ of the time came from ›outside‹, although leaflets and workers’ newspapers were written and produced together with workers who took part in group meetings. Written material only remains from a few of these inquiries. Some of the familiar ones about the conditions at Fiat or Olivetti were more or less individual achievements. Individual achievements that even so allowed particular hypotheses to be put forward that were the basis for political work.
From interviews with young union activists at Fiat arose a new picture of the working class, whose needs Alquati summarised in a new ›figure‹: the young technical workers who enjoyed a kind of specialised workers training at technical college, who were dissatisfied with the work at Fiat, who confidently believed that they could manage the production – and in reality had to undertake ›stupid work‹. In this widening gap between woken demands, “the confidence to be able to run the production”, qualifications and the actual work reality – in the destruction of the myths of neo-capitalism – Alquati saw an explosive contradiction.
The practice of inquiry
›Biographical approach‹, ›intensive interviews‹… today everyone from Feminists to left Sociologists practices these inquiry methods. The difference of the ›workers’ inquiry‹ is that they started from a collective dimension: the self-constitution of the class, the detection of communism in the movement of the working class itself. “Porto Marghera [location of the petrochemical industry on the mainland across from Venice] was the laboratory in which we verified the situation with scientific methods. One could not begin to have a political discourse without what we called ›workers’ inquiry‹. We were determined to clarify once again what the workers standpoint was in concrete, because they were the social figures that were strategically relevant in the process towards the ›new‹. (14)
There was a serious political confrontation within the group around the fundamental question of whether the instrument of sociology could be applied critically. This went from the tendency which reduced Marxism to a mere sociology, through the critical application of sociological instruments up to an attempt at a full abolition [Aufhebung] of the difference between inquirer and the objects of the inquiry, the workers, with the aim of ›workers’ self-inquiry‹. Both the last two positions called their practice ›Conricerca‹, word-for-word meaning; ›with-inquiry‹. Liliana Lanzardo explained in November 1994 in Turin, that today it is much clearer to see the difference between those who wanted to do an academic inquiry and those for whom it was about a political project; at the time there was no terminology at all. A few of their fellow fighters of the time are today recognised industrial sociologies in the worst sense. (15)
By 1975 Alquati had already demystified the heroic chorus about the practice at the time. He wrote that ›Workers’ inquiry‹ as a slogan was supposed to be a provocation, because the institutional labour movement was just as ›anti-worker‹ as its left workerist component. “When we said ›class inquiry‹ in the early 1960, for us it had the same meaning as ›revolution‹ or ›revolutionary process‹.” In reality there was not a ›workers’ inquiry‹ in the sense of a workers’ self-inquiry, but a sociological inquiry about the working class. The few workers who were there were the source of information and knowledge, that the group then worked on further outside the factory, in order to prepare the second phase. They never actually managed this transition to the second phase, which presupposed a relation to collective workers and put the emphasis on the subjective movement. Because ›the collective worker‹ cannot be equated with some workers, but means the political organisation of the workers. This did not exist, rather just its precursor, the workers’ autonomy. This is why a part of the group had ›provisionally‹ first done a sociological inquiry, and the other part saw the actual political organisation of the working class as the means to realise the sociological inquiry. (16)
The sociology students within the group did the first inquiries. The rest of the group were worried about the difficulties and did not consider themselves prepared enough. The work of inquiry means working through material about the restructuring of industry, making an analysis about the activities at the workplace, researching the machinery and the factory system with its contradictions and possible explosions. There were only a few, but very intensive, interviews – “everything was new and interesting”, Liliana Lanzardo described her enthusiasm of the time. But none of it was Conricerca, the process was known only to the interviewers, there was no parity between the inquirer and the inquired. This was however more possible in small companies, where workers’ newspapers were produced together with the workers. Getting into contact with the workers was mostly done via the metal workers unions FIM and FIOM, who in Turin in the beginning were very open to the project. (17)
The industrial sociological analyses also discover conflicts everywhere. But usually the bourgeois sociologists examine these conflicts as problems that are there to be solved in order to guarantee the smooth functioning of the factory. And the ›critical‹ sociologists expose the conflicts to prove that the factory does not function perfectly. In contrast to this the comrades, schooled on Marx, took the contradiction of the work process as the starting point of the inquiry. Thereby they could understand how conflicts could also be functional for the valorisation and which functions of the hierarchy are there to prevent these conflicts turning into a united struggle.
“The socialist’s use of sociology requires a rethinking. Requires that these instruments be studied in the light of the main hypotheses that one poses, and that can be summarised as follows: The conflicts can turn into antagonism and thereby cease to be functional for the system. We have to take into account that the conflicts are functional for the system, because it is a system that further develops itself out of these conflicts”. However, the relation between conflict and antagonism is best researched in a situation of struggle, what Panzieri calls ›hot inquiry‹, “because workers hold certain values in normal times that they don’t hold any more in times of class conflict, and vice versa”. The relationship between workers’ solidarity and a rejection of the capitalist system should be researched: “… to what extent are the workers, faced with the unequal capitalist society, consciously demanding a society of equality and to what extent are they aware that this could become a common social value”. (18) However it is also clear in this text that in a few essential points Panzieri couldn’t get away from his former role as a party functionary. He writes about the possibility of identifying and “raising” the consciousness of the workers.
The antagonism in production
In the introduction to the Italian edition of the Diary of the Renault Worker, Daniel Mothé, Panzieri expanded on the antagonism in the production relation. “The book […] goes beyond the usual testimonies of the conditions of the worker, testimonies that mostly merely express sympathy with the situation of the factory worker (and no more that this). In Mothé’s diary the problems of the working class in a large modern factory, in all their complexities and specific reality, are shown step by step through the keen and thoughtful observations of the everyday life in one department. The book deals with the beginning of the rational organisation of work. There is a contradiction between on the one hand the attempt at a rational organisation of work that isolates the workers more and more; and on the other hand the conditions within which the work has to develop, that themselves lead to the constant breaking of the rules in order that the production can run and has a sense. The worker has to fight against the implementation of these ›rationalisations‹ that have to shut out any human qualified experience in order to be put into practice: even before the legitimate need to connect to the colleague next to him – a need within which appears the value of an unshakeable solidarity – and the experience of work itself which brings the worker to understand his own problems as collective ones. (19)
The Olivetti text by Alquati is a good example of how the Italian Operaists used these preliminary works by Mothe and others productively. With one of his lines of discussion with the workers we want to show how he applied Mothe’s insight that “the rules have to be constantly broken so that the production can run” to the inquiry. (20)
The workers, who at first took for granted all the official myths about the organisation of work at Olivetti, once a very ›modern‹ company, finally came to the following verdict: “Everything here is organised and determined, down to the smallest things, and despite this there are many important things about the work that don’t function. If one sees how meticulously the organisation here is taken care of, that even then can’t manage to function, one could almost get to thinking that organised disorganisation is being studied at Olivetti”. (21)
Alquati goes on to extract the negative side of this ›workers’ critique‹ and formulates the hypothesis that the individual worker is unable to see the fundamental collective contradiction within the everyday small contradictions – and precisely because “in these micro-conflicts” the “whole fundamental contradictions of the system become as one, are developed and maintained”. (22) The fundamental contradiction is that in capitalism the work process and the valorisation process come together in one process, which the worker stands in the middle of. The capitalist is interested in the profit, which is based on the commodity containing surplus value, i.e. the valorisation process. But only goods that also have a use value can be sold, that have been turned into useful things though the work process. In the production process as a contradictory unity of work and the valorisation process, the worker is on one hand trained to take care that the quality is preserved (so that the goods remain saleable), on the other hand he is supposed to produce as fast and as many as possible, in order to increase the surplus value. “The worker, locked into his use value sphere,” can’t develop his understanding of this contradiction because his critique remains individual and starts from the point that one could produce the products more rationally, with fewer hand movements, with better quality etc. Moreover the capitalist organisation of work actually ensures that the individual worker perfects the exploitation through his ›critique‹. He has to constantly manage to get breathing spaces, in order to make the work at all bearable; breathing spaces that the time keeper takes away bit by bit, the result being that his ways and means of making these pauses eventually confront him as ›invention‹. In the factory “the worker, in order to survive, develops the mechanism that is squeezing him, which he has the freedom to do together with other workers”. (23) This includes the workers, in their cooperation with each other, constantly breaking the official rules and constantly re-arranging the division of work amongst themselves. (This process, analysed by Alquati as the ›accumulation of tasks‹ process, offers a good starting point to analyse the modern concept of teamwork, for example).
In his discussion with the Olivetti workers Alquati also developed arguments to further explore and lay open the collective core of this whole question. The employer has to confirm their ›use value myth‹ to the workers, and not only in order to ensure that the goods are actually saleable. It is at the same time their most important means of politically enforcing the production of surplus value. (Here parallels with today’s propaganda of ›total quality‹ also spring to mind). Without this ›use value myth‹ the companies would loose the ›collaboration‹ of the workers. “In the disappointment of his highest expectations in relation to the technology, and in the general problem of the quantitative development of consumption, the worker is not even able to prove whether the use value is in a decisive dialectical relation to other set aims, which he doesn’t know about because they stay hidden from him and continually disappoint his comprehension of the work”. (24) Alquati continues, “If one asks both the ›assembly worker’ and the ›controller‹ why things are organised as they are and what role they really serve, then most answer that they have never understood it. One thing however is clear to all; namely that the controller in no way actually has the function of the high priest of quality, […] that the function of quality control still mainly lies with the assembly worker”. (25)
Alquati developed questions from this, which he then asked the workers, a few of whom started to do their own ›little inquiries‹: Who actually does the quality control in reality? What role is served by the ›defects‹ that the controller rejects? Does the technical worker know? Have they perhaps planned it? And what does the qualified engineer do? “This whole complexity finally leads to a fundamental discussion about exploitation, the rationalisation and the bureaucracy – and about class struggle. The workers themselves often fall into the crucial mistake here. They set the one work task as distinct and opposed to the other, and thereby set off the political mechanism that the company management have brought to life with these mystifications” (26) In another piece about inquiry Alquati criticises this opposition. If the workers say, for example “the controllers are unnecessary, in reality we do the quality control ourselves”, he then poses the question: “And what role do the controllers really serve then?” He workes out that they are not there for the quality, i.e. the use value, but for the fulfilment of the plans that take care of the valorisation. How the plan is carried out, how they manage to produce use value in the given time, only the workers know.
From these few quotes it is already clear how Alquati and the Quaderni rossi make a decisive change of direction in the inquiry. The workers are no longer the unconscious, to whom the socialists have to explain that capitalism is something very contradictory. But rather it is now about finding out, together with the workers, where in the everyday conflicts the potential for a common struggle lies.
Even if the hypotheses of these inquires were often wrong in their detail, the fundamental thesis that the workers were not integrated and had not become ›middle class‹, but rather that they could still become the subject in class struggle, was confirmed in the strike movement 1961/62. Mistakes were often made where one tried to find a new, central subject or where the old intellectual (and Leninist) bad habits re-emerged, e.g. that one could understand class struggles in advance (“anticipate the class struggle”) – or also the whole argument about the ›central figure‹, that is one of the worst inheritances of Operaismo, and one that often prevents the real inquiry. Unexpectedly, one particular workers’ figure took on an important role in these struggles, one that the factory inquiries had not paid any particular attention to up to then: the young, unskilled worker who had migrated from the rural south, who was later simply referred to as ›the mass worker‹. However, on the basis of the previous work and the co-operation with newly appearing workers’ groups the comrades could very quickly bring their theoretical work up to date, in line with the actual stage of class struggle.
Along with the new wave of strikes developed a lot of interest in information and discussion amongst the workers. Therefore the focus of the political work shifted. Above all Conricerca now meant helping ensure that the information about the struggles was spread. The groups of militants ›from outside‹ who got their contacts at the factory gates now saw their tasks as taking care of the ›horizontal circulation of struggles‹. I.e. to distribute a leaflet or a small newspaper with the information about a small strike in one factory to workers in other factories in the same region. Or to make known the strike in one department to workers in the whole factory. There were also always attempts to include workers themselves in the editorial groups of these newspapers. A then militant from Potere Operaio biellese [Workers’ Power, Biella region] described the role of these ›externals‹ like this: “We were the postmen of the workers”. And Guido Bianchini from Potere Operaio veneto-emiliano [Workers’ Power, Veneto-Emilia region]: “We wanted to help to spread these struggles, to break the old structures… We went to the factory gates, but not to preach, we didn’t want to be the party that sets the tone. We asked the workers what they wanted”. (27)
The political situation facilitated the success of this method of approach during those years. It brought militants from various different political organisations together. Consequently the groups were not politically homogenous, but the common reference to the working class in movement made it possible to work together.
Intervention and organising
Quaderni rossi only partly broke with the institution of the ›labour movement‹ when they formed. For example Alquati presented the paper about the ›new force at Fiat‹ at a congress of the PSI. The confrontation around the ›class union‹ and the different opinions about the role or tasks of the party characterised the inner discussions from the beginning and soon lead to factions forming.
At the beginning in Torino there was still an official co-operation with the local branch of the Metal Workers Union, who were politically at a dead end and were hoping for some new ideas. In the first issue of Quaderni rossi a few union activists had signed their articles with their full names, for example Vittorio Foa, who only a short time later didn’t want anything to do with the ›extremists‹. The co-operation with the union found itself in a crisis when a part of the editorial group supported the wildcat strike of the maintenance workers at Fiat in summer 1961. The union’s side ›finalised‹ the break after the events on the Piazza Statuto in Torino in July 1962.
In May 1962 Panzieri formulated the tasks of the group in a letter to the editorial member Asor Rosa in the following way: “I believe that we have to put the strike over the collective agreement of the metal workers in the centre of our work […] I am more and more convinced of the existence of possibilities that are open for a revolutionary line. But we have to get rid of the last of the ›minority‹ complex and carry the spark, the search for a new strategy, into the crisis of the organisations. This is even more vital for us as we don’t want to be a small sect that is in possession of the truth, but rather militants who make a valuable contribution to the necessary new organising of the working class, a problem that is facing thousands of militants at the moment, including within the organisations. In my opinion we have to revise, modify, and if necessary totally change, our intervention instruments using this criteria. […] We can see the emergence of a new workers’ movement, but preparing a strategy for them is not a spontaneous process. That we can see this new movement defines our tasks today, tasks that are really new. The features of the material figure of the collective worker are not simply hidden within the heart of capital, he can only become conscious himself in his own way and collectively. These features are anticipated within the struggle and within the struggle the unity and revolutionary potential grows […]. It is about finding some forms of mediation. Because whilst capital distorts the workers’ struggle and presents it as an ›un-mediated‹ reply to capitalist development, it puts to mind false strategies. The ›new‹ potentials for revolution do not arise from capitalist planning, but from the anticipation-reversal of the decisive elements of capitalist planning by the workers”. (28)
Nevertheless, the group was surprised by the dimensions of the proletarian rage that was shown in July ’62 in the three-day street fight. Before the beginning of the metal workers’ general strike Quaderni rossie had suggested a public meeting together with the PSI, but it had not happened. Then they put their own call out to the Fiat workers that began with the sentence: “Fiat workers, behind your back and without asking you, the union organisations, in the service of the bosses, have signed a separate pay and conditions contract, in order to liquidate the workers’ struggle and workers’ power at Fiat…” (See the full text at the end of this article). The fact that in the text the unions were attacked apparently without distinction, i.e. that no the distinction was made between the Fiat-run union and the ›left‹ union, got the unionist in the group into a lot of trouble. As Panzieri was personally attacked as being extremist provocateur by the PCI press, he climbed down and condemned the street fight as “damaging to the actions of the working class”. This did not correspond to the group opinion.
Part of the group around Negri interpreted the events in the Piazza Statuto as the working class breaking with the institutional labour movement (unions and parties), as an expression of the autonomy of the working class that now stood without representation. The leading article of the first issue of the factory newspaper Gatto selvaggio [Wildcat] was entitled: “In sabotage the struggle goes on and organises the unity”. Panzieri severely criticised this position. He criticised the Gatto selvaggio newspaper for their positive evaluation of Piazza Statuto and the “raw ideology of sabotage” and spoke about the “philosophy of the working class” in the paper by Tronti. Panzieri’s position swung this way and that in the years before his death in 1964. Despite all the rhetoric he didn’t want a direct confrontation with the historical organisations of the working class. He rather saw the new role of Quaderni rossi as a long term calculated forming of revolutionary cadre and was explicitly opposed to any rash or hasty party founding projects.
A political party of the class?
Within Quaderni rossi there were three tendencies, which in their enthusiasm had managed to work together on the first two issues. By the time the third issue appeared, there were already two editorials. As a decision about the ›how‹ of political intervention had to be made, due to the development of the struggles, the group split. Through this the group of ›politicos‹ (later the theoreticians of the ›autonomy of the political‹, winners of state power via the PCI), the ›wilds‹ (representatives of the factory newspaper Gatto selvaggio) and the group around Negri came together to start the project Classe operaia [working class], a newspaper that was aimed at the workers themselves rather than at the intellectuals and party and union functionaries. (29) The leading article in the first issue ›Lenin in England‹ by Mario Tronti (30) puts the theme of the political organising of the working class on the agenda. In contrast to the orthodox this is for Tronti on the level of tactics: “At the moment capital is better organised than the working class: The decisions, which the working class force on capital, run the risk of strengthening it […] The working class has left all the practical problems in the hands of its traditional organisations in order to keep for themselves an autonomous strategic vision, free from hindrance and without compromise. […] The history of past experience serves to free ourselves of this. We have to entrust everything to a new type of scientific prediction. We know that the whole development process is embodied in the new levels of class struggle. So the starting point lies in the discovery of particular forms of struggle of the workers, which proves a particular type of capitalist development. One which is pointed in the direction of revolution. […] But practical work developed on the basis of the factory demands […] a constant assessment and communiation on a political level, that genrallises this practical work. […] In the current phase of class struggle [it is] necessary to start from the discovery of a political organsiaton, not from a shifting avantgaurde, but from the compact social mass, which the working class becomes in the period of its historical maturity. Precicely because of this characteristic, the working class is the only revolutionary force that is menacing and terribly controlling the dominating order. […] With the permanant struggle in the factory, in ever new forms, which can only be discovered by the intelectual phantasy of productive work, the workers replace the buerocratic void with a common political organisation. The revolutionary process cannot start without the politically un-mediated proletarian organisation becoming general. The workers know this, which is why you do not find them in the party churches singing the democratic litany of the revolution. The reality of the working class is once and for all tied up with the name Marx. The necessity of their political organisation is just as finally tied to the name Lenin”. (31)
After one year it was clear, at least for the Rome faction, that this party could only ever be the ›class party‹, the PCI, renewed by the ›unionification‹ and the ›factory communists‹. And so Tronti’s revolutionary reversal on the levels of strategy and tatics ended up a very traditional concept of organistion.
After this faction had left the editorial group of Quaderni rossi after the 3rd issue, Panzieri went on with the ›sociologists‹ and others from Turinï¿1/2with huge illusions that they could continue the old inquiry project – and always in fear of becoming marginalised as a sect. The political discussion took place mostly with the union and the the PSIUP, the branch of the PSI who split with the party in 1964 over the taking part in government and who some of the editorial group members had joined.
Both the groups that left Quaderni rossi dissolved within two years, before new struggles of the student and workers’ movement in 1968/69 completely changed with stituation in Italy. But as tendencies they have had a lasting and rejuvinating effect on political disuccion. Many of their basic approachs and thoughts were taken up later or it only became clear years later how valuable they were. Much has also been lost and could be of great benefit today.
This leaflet was distributed by the Quaderni rossi comrades at the Fiat gates on the evening before the metal workers general strike over the national pay and conditions contract in 1962:
Behind your back and without asking you, the union organisations, in the service of the bosses, have signed a separate pay and conditions contract, in order to liquidate the workers’ struggle and workers’ power at Fiat. Now it is your turn to decide and to explain what you want and what you don’t want. We have to clairfy what that bosses manover is and what the workers answer should be.
The positions of the Confindustria and the state owned entrerprises are clear: the Italian bosses are prepared make minimal concessions and demand in return that there will be no real workers’ struggles in the next three or four years.
The workers’ struggle in the last few days has exposed this will of the bosses. It has made clear that the development of workers’ struggle in the next few years is still in play.
In Italy there is very intensive economic development underway, that is supposed to bring the bosses immense profits, with the consequence of enourmous increases in the accumulation. Valletta made clear a few days ago that capitalism wants to force the stabilistaion of the economic development under its control both within and outside of the factory. In the struggle today the workers’ movement stands at a crossroads: either the capitalist power consolidates itself, its capriciousness and its despotism, or the working class finds itself again and organises itself against capital. With this the conditions are set for the decisions and development of capitalism, right up to its complete defeat.
The decisive point of this struggle today is Fiat, because the metal sector is at the centre of the capitalist expansion and Fiat is at the centre of this sector.
Precisely for this reason the workers at Fiat face the decision to either go back to a situation of isolation where the bosses despotism once again has a free hand – or worse, meaning: the speeding-up of the work process, arbitrary qualifications, redundancies, relocating workers, all summarised as the intolerable despotism of the Fiat company against the workers; or whether to become the conscious avantgarde of a strong and unified working class.
The plan of the Italian bosses looks like this today: they want to divide the big struggle of the Italian metal workers, by separating the contract negotiations of the state companies and the private companies and forcing through an in-house contract at Fiat. If they are able to enforce this before the working class at Fiat has reached their decision then this big struggle will be split. This struggle that is so important for the entire class struggle. And Italian capitalism, which the workers struggle has brought into such difficulties, will again be easily able to push ahead with the project of its masterplan.
Today you hold it in your hands to make the bosses plan fail. You are no longer isolated from each other and no longer isolated from the rest of the Italian working class. Your slogan has to be: no stepping back on the way to unity in the struggle of all Italian metal workers.
You have already fulfilled the first and decisive condition of defeating capital.
Faced with the power of your unity, capital is weaker than you. In your hands lies not only the key to today’s struggle, but the key to the future of the struggle of the Italian proletariat.
No-one but you yourselves can hit back at the bosses manoeuvres, that multipy in order to isolate you and make you powerless against the power of capital.
Every bosses manoeuvre and every decision that faces you, you have to confront collectively.
Your protest has become an organisation in the last few weeks. It was at the least the beginnings of a workers organsation. You have spontaneously found each other together, to discuss, to reach decisions – group by group, department by department.
You have gone directly to the works councils to discuss. You have put up strike notices at the right places, to discuss with the unsure colleagues and persuade them.
That is the first form of a real workers organisation at Fiat. If you carry on with this organising then in the future you will never meet a struggle unprepared. No bosses manover could defeat your power.
The company management is worried that these organisations are getting stronger, that they really can attack the bosses’ power in the factory. That is why they have, together with their slaves, who give them a hand, agreed to the current separate contract that doesn’t actually touch on any of the existing questions about the work conditions in the factory. With this everything is now clear: the decision lies with you. You have to take your fate in your hands. This strike is a big opportunity to take a step forward in the organising of the class.
You will come out of this struggle with the actualisaiton of an organisation in every group, in every department, in every Fiat plant. With a workers’ discipline that is capable, in every moment of exploitation, of standing against the despotism of the bosses and their lackeys.
1 As Bologna describes himself in the title of an article in the journal “1999”.
2 Quote from: Sergio Bologna, ›Zur Analyse der Modernisierungsprozesse‹ [An analysis of the modernisation process]. Introduction to the lecture by Antonio Gramsci’s “Americanismo e Fordismo”, Paper of the Gramsci conference on 29-30 April 1989, Hamburg Institute for Social History of the 20th Century. [Hamburger Institut für Sozialgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts], working paper No. 5, Hamburg 1989. On ›workers’ medicine‹ see the article by Sergio Bologna in Wildcat 56 [German only]. The german author of this “Renaissance of Operaismo” article writes: “I have taken many of the following quotes from texts where they have already been translated into German. I do this so that the quotes can be found if someone want to read the whole text. Unfortunatly the translations are often quite clumsy and hard to understand. One could almost pose the theses that Operaismo has been so badly received in Germany due to these translations.”
3 Karl Heinz Roth (Hrsg.), Die Wiederkehr der Proletarität. Dokumentation einer Debatte, Köln 1994. [The return of the proletariat, Cologne, 1994]
4 Guido Bianchini, Interview November 1994, Padova.
5 Dario Lanzardo, La Rivolta di Piazza Satuto, Torino, Luglio 1962, and Milano 1979.
6 Romano Alquati, Camminado per realizzare un sogno commune, Turin 1994 (Velleità Alternative), page 161.
7 Romano Alquati, Sulla Fiat, Vorwort, Mailand 1974. Translated into German in Thekla 6.
8 Claude Lefort, L’expérience proletaire, in: Socialisme ou Barbarie, Nr. 2, 1952. In the German version of this text, here and in the following quotes from the Italian translation in Collegamenti 2-4, Mai 1978. For this English version we have, where possible, translated from the French original.
9 Danilo Montaldi, La mistica del “selvaggio” (1959), in: Bisogna sognare. Scritti 1952-1975, Mailand 1994, Page 364.
10 Raniero Panzieri, Spontaneità e organizzazione. Gli anni dei “Quaderni rossi” 1959-1964. Selected writings, published by Stefano Merli, Pisa 1994, Page XL.
11 Raniero Panzieri, Lettere, Venezia 1987, page 256 onwards.
12 Alquati: Die neuen Kräfte bei Fiat [the new forces at Fiat], in: Alquati (1974).
13 Toni Negri, Dall’operaio massa all’operaio sociale, 1979, page 48 onwards.
14 Guido Bianchini, Interview with Gabriele Massaro, March 1991.
15 Speech in Torino, November 1994.
16 Romano Alquati, Sulla Fiat, Introduction, Milan 1975, page 13.
18 Raniero Panzieri, Uso socialista dell’inchiesta operaia, in: Raniero Panzieri, Spontaneità e organizzazione, Pisa 1994.
19 Raniero Panzieri, Il diario di un operaio di Daniel Mothé, in: Panzieri (1994), page 17.
20 This paragraph is the summary of a paper from the workers circle ›militant inquiry‹, that was published [in German] in Thekla 8. “Organic composition of capital and labour force at Olivetti” [Organische Zusammensetzung des Kapitals und Arbeitskraft bei Olivetti] (1961) was first translated into German in 1974. This text fell into our hands at the beginning of the ’80s and was one of the most important discussion papers for the Karlsruher Group [the pre-cursor to the Wildcat group].
21 Alquati, Olivetti, page 109.
23 Ibid. page 181.
24 Ibid. page 174 onwards.
25 Ibid. page 175.
26 Ibid. page 175 onwards.
27 Guido Bianchini, Interview, November 1994.
28 Raniero Panzieri, Letter to Asor Rosa, 10th May 1962, in: Lettere (1987), page 330 onwards.
29 In Thekla 6, that unfortunately has been unavailable for years, we had published in German some some articles from Classe Operaia by Romano Alquati.
30 Classe Operaia No. 1. translated [to German] in: Balestrini/Moroni, Die goldene Horde, Berlin/Göttingen 1994.
31 Balestrini/Moroni (1994), page 93-100.
Note on the translations: The direct translation of the word ›Operaismo‹ from Italian would be ›Workerism‹ in English and ›Arbeiterismus‹ in German, but as we are using the term to refer to a particular political current we use the term Operaismo throughout. Almost all the Italian and French quotes, as well as the German, have been translated specifically for this article. We were not able to find existing translations of these texts, so if there are any, the wording may differ slightly from how they appear here.