5. The Creeping May

In December 1967 a number of prominent intellectuals associated with the radical wing of operaismo met to discuss the nature of international class struggle during the interwar period. The venue was the University of Padua, where Negri had recently assumed the Chair of State Doctrine and was now busy establishing a foothold for the tendency within the academic world. Attempting to situate historically many of the assertions advanced in Tronti's Operai e capitale, the contributions ranged across various subjects, from the German council movement to the British General Strike and John Maynard Keynes' work on the dynamic of effective demand (Bologna et al. 1972). The pivotal experience of the period, however, was seen as that of the US, where workers had clashed with a capital able to make the leap to its social form in the absence of a social democratic party. Above all, it was claimed, Roosevelt's New Deal had realised practically what Keynes' General Theory had grasped in only a mystified form. The wage was now an independent variable, and nothing short of an income policy underpinned by the legal organisation and regulation of the working class could hope to prevent a repetition of the disaster of 1929 (Ferrari-Bravo 1972: 108-14).