Sections 11-16

11. Prophetic communism

One other characteristic aspect of the radical current in the seventies was the dissemination of predictions.

After the period mentioned above, in 1971 the cycle that had started in 1964 with the revolts of the blacks and the civil rights movement in the United States came to an end. A new phase of waiting began, which nonetheless, in the view of the revolutionaries, would be brief: 1968 had reopened the era of revolutions. It was above all Detroit (1967) that showed that the United States was the new epicenter of the world revolution (contrary to Bordiga’s predictions), although Danzig and Stettin (1970)1 confirmed on the other hand the importance of the “German zone” (in accordance with Bordiga’s views). It is true that theory is prediction or else it has no reason to exist; but predictions based on the exact calculations of the crisis cycles, such as Bordiga had formulated during the fifties, became for us an “article of faith” that was taken half-seriously when it came time to resolve all theoretical doubts: one prophecy mentioned the year 1975; another, more precise and specific, pointed to 1977 as the date of a crisis and a violent upheaval of capitalism: for us this was, however, the date of the revolution.

The whole aura of the esoteric sect that surrounded the International Communist Party—derisory as a formal organization but at the same time the fascinating incarnation of the historical party—was confirmed by the mythical Bordiga and Vercesi (Ottorino Perrone), members of the Central Committee although not formally party members, as a pure expedient and instrument of the historical party, or rather of the formidable theoretical activity of the Neapolitan prophet.

Other powerful prophetic interpretations were proclaimed by Norman O. Brown and Herbert Marcuse: from the first, we extracted an interpretation of Freud according to which the unconscious conflict between the life instinct and the death instinct would become more acute until it would finally unleash a vital-destructive explosion or a self-destructive-narcotic explosion; from Marcuse we derived the expectation of the arrival of a new era that would finally lead the revolutionary horizon towards the victory of Eros, of the new sensibility and the new values inaugurated by the American hippie movement. All the esoteric and astrological prophecies decreed the advent of the final crisis and the Age of Aquarius. At the beginning of the seventies everything could be interpreted—not without a certain theoretical dignity and a certain coherence with regard to evidence—in this sense.

In this “theoretical” climate—which expressed the desperation and the sincere refusal to accept, in our hearts, the retreat to books (a refusal that we perceived to be ideologically reflected in Comontism)—the release of the report of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), The Limits of Growth, was greeted with joy, since it provided an indisputable confirmation coming from the mind of the enemy.

The Critica dell’utopia capitale was not content with this ingenuous revolutionary religiosity. In its pages, the MIT report occupies a prominent place. The concept of “capitalist utopia” is absolutely clear: in the face of the reality of the final crisis, capital prepares some totally utopian solutions—whose sole reality is ideological mystification—among which is that of a zero-growth society, held together by substitutes for community and by an almost complete liberation of labor; these projects, according to Cesarano, would be frustrated by the catastrophic crisis and the insurgency of the revolutionary proletariat. The imminence of this final liberating explosion did much to reinforce the feeling of hope and prophetic anticipation that suffused the whole atmosphere of our current. This tension suffused the conclusions of the long aphorisms of Critica dell’utopia capitale, whose structure, in the first part of the book,2 tends to assume the following character: 1) an attack, as violent as an armed assault, on the theses of the biologists, physicists, geneticists, anthropologists, psychoanalysts, linguists, etc., who are invariably condemned to display the ideological colors with which they attempt to conceal, without being able to exorcise it, the eruption of almost cosmic contradictions that evince the opposition of the biological life of the species and the planet to their views; 2) the unveiling of the utopian nature of their horizons and their instability in the face of the imminent uprising of the revolutionary proletariat.

In this schema there is no concession to the mysticism, nourished with drugs and esotericism, of the small groups that arose in the intermission of the revolution, which experimented with every kind of “ecstatic”, communitarian, sexual and amorous combination; it demonstrated, to the contrary, the rigorous tone of someone who was relentlessly confronting the experts of capital on their own terrain, plundering knowledge and language; however, it is not just the references to LSD which are repeated on several occasions: it is also the zest, the acerbic tension that flows in these pages, leading the reader to return to the prophetic legacy of the sixties, transmitting to him the harshness and the drama of a theory forged, in fact, from the bitterness of a real and personal experience.

12. The “case” of Cesarano

“The starting point can only be radiant intuition, and in this concrete and vitally initiative sense, from the point of view of the totality.”3

This shocking sentence leaps from the pages of the book and displays the measure of the dimensions of Cesarano’s experience. If up until now, for good reasons, we have not spoken about him except as a particle of a historic movement and, within that movement, as an exponent of the most radical current and as the bearer of the richest and most innovative theoretical contributions … for just a moment we would like to focus with special emphasis on the uniqueness of Cesarano. “Radiant intuition (…) of the point of view of the totality”! How can one not immediately think of LSD? In fact, his critical adventure was radiant, developed coherently in the radical direction that he gave to his life from 1969 on, and which he impressed with a sense of forward movement, which he implacably maintained until the end.

Before 1971, it was the collective and public experience of Ludd. Later, he began to write his most important work, the Critica dell’utopia capitale (which was already anticipated by “The Capitalist Utopia” in issue no. 3 of Ludd, Milan, 1969), where he definitively settled accounts with the world of mainstream culture and intellect, from which he distanced himself more and more, inexorably, in practice.

In the first pages of the book we find the following fundamental formulations: 1) the development of the species since its most remote origins and the history of its submission to labor and to the production of tools-prostheses, which increasingly began to control the subsistence of the living body, reduced to an alienated appendage; 2) the development of the individual psyche, separated from the body, as thought that thinks on its own, becomes the history of the Ego colonized by capital as “person”, the internalization of “value” as process; 3) the production of language, as the set of independent signs, accumulates as dead labor and ends by acquiring a decisive role over human communication, and dominates the subject, which is now spoken by language.

These three dimensions constitute a single process—seen from different angles (and disciplines)—by means of which the species, on the basis of an instinctive primordial need, separates from the living body of the world (and from its own biological body), extracting itself from it to the point of being threatened, today, with extinction, as if it was an external enemy. And the body, after millennia of implacable survival, imprisoned as always in the unconscious, in the repressed, in the other, reacts to this threat of extinction with armed critique, with madness, with the “biological” revolution.

While all of existence is nothing but a desert dominated by capital, the “mute” passion of the bodies prepares to explode, affirming itself as the “naturalizing totality”, routing the cybernetic or cloning projects—which could end the game forever—and revealing their utopian character.

This formulation is followed by the attack. A disordered and passionate plundering of the scientists and theoreticians of capital (and of various critical thinkers like Horkheimer and Adorno, although the lessons of Freud and Reich are also taken into account).

Theory is employed as an instrument of trespass in order to refute the cruel conclusions that the theoreticians of capital reserve for life, and to extract the information that proves the irrepressible vitality of the biological species in its opposition to the catastrophic disaster of the society of capital, which from now on will only be reproduced as the cancer of the world.

Proceeding on enemy territory, following the thread of scientific-philosophical abstraction, erupting into the various fields of separate thought in order to seize theoretical materials, Cesarano successfully settled accounts with the world of culture and intellectual fashion—raging uncontrollably then and in the following years, as well as in opposition to the movement of 1977—reserving particularly violent invectives for art, pychoanalysts, therapists, experts of language, and the futurologists who proposed “painless” solutions for a world headed for catastrophe.

At the same time, he successfully and dramatically communicated his own individual experience. On the one hand, he provided testimony regarding the sense of being under siege felt by the isolated individual, immersed in the hallucinatory everyday life in which he wanders, incarnating the various economic-social roles to which the “personality” must submit, rendered incapable of encountering others due to the social confusion of the circulation of men reduced to “quantities” of capital (at least unless passion, risk and the initiatory test manage to open up the way to the recognition of another, and therefore to what there is of the others). Secondly, he tells us how he came to break with the world of culture and art, in which he had lived since 1968 and to which he returned, as an enemy, in order to settle unfinished business by means of critique and struggle, the only possible expressions that are not immediately subjected by and incorporated into total capital.

On several occasions he refers to the experience-test of lysergic acid.

His violent and dramatic language, which is, furthermore, rigidly abstract and never abandons the terrain of the enemy, is indicative of the “segregated” condition of the revolutionary, isolated since the end of the 1967-1970 cycle, who is nonetheless determined to use his own desperate condition to produce his great theoretical synthesis, which announces the certainty of the next definitive, final resurgence of the revolutionary proletariat. Either it will be victorious, or capital will drag it down with it into the catastrophe. The irreducibility of the biological basis of the revolution guarantees the invincibility of the species.

Both the strength as well as the limitation of his work resides in the conviction that the crisis of capital, predicted by the MIT report, as well as the symptoms that reveal the psychological crisis of the person (madness and neurosis that are now out of control and cannot be contained by any repressive structure) and of society (unmotivated revolt, collective plundering and violence, crime) is irreversible and final, and will compel the species to live, finally, if it does not want to disappear and go extinct.

During the seventies, the claim that the catastrophe of capital really threatened the survival of humanity and the planet, and the desperate and passionate wager on the vitality of the species that had been manifested in the recently-concluded cycle of struggles, are distinctive and basic features that can summarize the positions, although diverse, of the entire radical current at the beginning of the new epoch.

The power of the disjunctive: life against death, instead of the proletariat against capital, is the sign of a relative theoretical vitality; but it also demonstrates how hard it was to discover its own reasons in the specifically social contradiction.

Because it overlooked the fact that all production is a very precise social movement, the sterility of the radical current was revealed, which, in an illusory and hallucinatory way, “upped the ante” of its own claims, and proceeded to its own decline and fall in the course of a few years.

13. Burn the ships

References such as the ones made to LSD impressed upon this theory the stigma that it could no longer be assimilated to culture. The world of the Italian intellectuals, culture, writers, poets, of artists, and academics was not capable of responding, except by way of marginalization and silence, to a man like Cesarano, who did not restrict himself to celebrating the generalization of the revolt of the others, but who entered into complicity not with the students but with the “provocateurs”, not with the left but with the most “ambiguous” groups (accused, as always in Italy, of being “fascists”), and who did not engage in masturbatory disquisitions on “drugs” but who tempered himself by experimenting with lysergic acid.

The power and drama of Cesarano’s theory are obviously direct expressions of his life and of his hope to literally become “unnamable” by all cultural milieus, even by the “revolutionaries” of the seventies.

“Through money one ‘lives’ by dying entrenched in one’s house. To live one spills blood on the floors of money. The savages are, according to the learned, poisoned by narcotics. In fact, drugs are gaining ground, while capital is gaining ground over drugs. But hallucinogenic drugs, by which we must understand the drugs that liberate us from the hallucination of ‘life’, by weakening the depth of the shadow that filters, that is, economizes perceptions, directly attack the economy that impoverishes everyone by confining them to the punch-card of the perceptions programmed for them by the hierarchy of knowledge, finally making them see what they had never seen before. Stripping them of the ‘real’, it restores to them the truth to which they belong. And this truth can only be terrible: humiliating and awful. But final, unforgettable. What is shattered cannot be repaired, the learned lament: it is what terrorizes, torments, brutalizes. But what terrorizes, what torments and what, in the best cases, brutalizes, is nothing, however, but the vision of the ‘truth’, suddenly stripped bare.”4

14. A new phase begins

During the seventies there was a significant amplification of the theoretical perspectives and sources of the revolutionaries, which also corresponded to a notable existential enrichment and experimentation with new dimensions.

The desire for immediate practical realization was not satisfied in the social struggles, which is why there was an attempt to develop a radical dimension in everyday life.

The immediatist theories discovered a vast terrain of application: crime, madness, sexual experimentation; such were the practical truths for many of us.

Under communitarian forms or as individual adventures, now that “politics” was totally excluded from our interests, we tried to proceed to a creative and affirmative dimension that would correspond to the predominant theoretical demand: that of establishing communism.

The richness of these experiences largely escaped subsequent restructuring, since in order to include them it would have been necessary to take into account certain individual vagaries that were never set down in writing.

The sexual liberation, feminist and homosexual movements also had a considerable impact.

Generally, despite the risks and the casualties, the overall experience of those years appeared to be as rich and as complex as the movement that preceded it; so much so that it merits, in some instances, separate analysis. Taken as a whole, this experience expressed the need to overcome the limits of a practice that, in its most specific features—recognizable in its theoretical formulations—tended to a certain degree of loss of contact with reality.

Cesarano certainly considered his participation in the movement of the second half of the seventies in a positive sense. His enthusiasm for the struggles of April 1975, which inaugurated the history of Autonomia Operaia, was obvious.

Many individuals and groups displayed a tendency to separate themselves from reality, conferring a bleak dimension—among other things—on the work of Cesarano himself.

In 1975 and especially in 1976 there was an apparent intensification of the retreat, although there were also clear symptoms of recovery, especially among the young people who had no experience at all of the struggles of the previous cycle.

The seventies were cut in half by the suicide of Cesarano. We already said that it was the result of a collective failure. Cesarano’s contribution was by no means indifferent to this new period. He very lucidly perceived the new cracks that were opening. He was alone and faced serious difficulties. He had abandoned the comfortable family life in his Tuscan country home, incapable of bearing the isolation.

Invariance had embraced some fundamental points of Cesarano’s theories, particularly the idea of the anthropomorphism of capital.5 It was prepared, on the one hand, to publish the texts that would positively found the affirmation of communism, and on the other hand would provide a comprehensive description of the “wandering of humanity”, a historical synthesis that displayed similarities with Cesarano’s writings. In the case of Invariance, however, it was a passing interest: the abandonment of strict Marxian orthodoxy would lead them to abandon the “revolution/counterrevolution” problem by shifting their interest towards an immediatism of realization which, despite all its uniqueness, may be summarized as a real regression towards the “naturalist” conceptions of certain hippies of the previous decade, a naturalism applied literally, we are justified in saying, by the founder and principal exponent of the formerly Bordiguist publication.

The fact is that to a large extent “radical theory” was revealed during those years to be an instrument for liberation from the Marxian tradition, or that of the ultraleft, or the revolutionary tradition more generally; so as to dabble instead in opportunism and careerism, or to rehabilitate religion, art, the repressive family, etc., which is what happened in the eighties.

15. Communism vs. the isolated, alienated individual

During the late sixties it was taken for granted that it was impossible to survive very long in capitalist society without becoming integrated into it. It seemed to be unacceptable to try to survive as an organization during a counterrevolutionary period. A ruthless critique was elaborated against the extraparliamentary splinter groups/mafia gangs into which all organizations that attempted to perpetuate themselves in the political sphere tended to be transformed (or else they became integrated into “alternative” economic circuits, in art, or in any of the aesthetic postures offered as “lifestyles”). We also pitilessly applied this critique to ourselves, to the small organization that we had created, and we also applied it to the autonomous factory and neighborhood groups that emerged during those years. All of these manifestations were rejected as “managerial” expressions condemned to be integrated into the misery which they were supposed to criticize and destroy.

In this sense Cesarano’s tendency is paradigmatic: the dissolution of Ludd; his break with the last ideological illusions (the ideology of everyday life and the apology for crime); his isolation, even in a geographical sense (in the Tuscan countryside); his dedication to a theoretical activity of an almost limitless scope.

For us the decline negated the possibility of formal, organizational or activist achievements. Nonetheless, 1968 had effectively reopened the epoch of revolution and one of its results was to stimulate an attempt to forge the theory capable of confronting the extreme crisis of capitalism. The content of communism became the primary emphasis. As for the reasons that had once justified intermediate phases, socialism and the transition, they were obsolete, and now communism was proclaimed as the supersession of all previous revolutions, as the liberation of what was repressed by past history, a liberation of the interior of the species’ psyche. The issue now was to get rid of all the old shit, to lucidly and profoundly confront that revolution within the revolution that had been such a decisive feature of the period of 1968-1969, and which was still the very particular dimension in which the revolutionaries lived and acted.

The total and definitive refusal to pursue the struggle under the aegis of “revolutionary politics”, which was alleged to have inevitably become integrated into the existence of capital, did not presuppose any collapse on the individual level.

We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by this rejection of the ideology of everyday life, or of the “ideology of the critique of everyday life”. This rejection by no means implied a retreat to “private life” or the isolation of the revolutionary “theoretician”. The stress on the individual would still be very pronounced.

But there is more. The “practice of isolation” constituted an extreme radicalization of the revolutionary dimension, which thus removed itself from all engagement and continued to experiment with the adventure of individual passion, the subversion of family and bourgeois relations, and the extension of consciousness in all directions and by all means.

The Critica dell’utopia capitale is an outstanding example of this latter aspect. In Cesarano’s work the tension that marks the very individuality of the revolutionary is absolutely obvious: his dramatic tone expresses the fact that the book is not “only” about “theory”. The attack on fictitious identity is carried to its logical conclusion. The critique subjects to judgment the “revolutionary” ego itself, its self-valorizing mask and the diverse roles that it is obliged to represent in the unreal sphere of survival. By emphasizing the “biological” nature of the revolution it clarifies, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the materiality of the real war.

It is the “war of love”: of flesh, blood, suffering and ecstasy.

From this specific subjective dimension, what may elude the understanding of the revolutionary who reads the Critica dell’utopia capitale after so many years and so many defeats, is the demand posed by Cesarano, an almost a priori demand, to reject any new ideology.

In fact, while he struggled relentlessly against any reconciliation, in any form, with the society of capital, he had to preserve an intransigent critique of that revolutionary neo-normativism, of those new models of “lifestyle” that during those years were so present in the milieus closest to him.

In short, Cesarano’s struggle had to be waged simultaneously on various levels: on the one hand, the concrete critique, the war itself, the affirmation of the most profound side of communism, the resolution of all the contradictions of the development of prehistory, the “affirmation of the human species”, of the Gemeinwesen of man. Affirmation of “the human”, but which by no means ignored the living contradiction that gave it substance: the revolutionary individual “suspended” over the unknown, but moving in a very precise direction, towards ecstasy, adventure and passion, whipped on by his hunger for the new and the authentic. Thus, armed only with critical capacity and creativity, stripped of any prefabricated historical experience, he found ever more obstacles on his road.

As a result, Cesarano had to strive to avoid succumbing to a norm of radicality, to that formalized intransigence whose effects he already understood. At the same time, he was very much aware that the revolutionary movement in its broadest sense, on a world scale, was dissolving into new ideologies born from the recuperation of the “sixties lifestyle”. If, for example, the experience of the American hippies constituted a new and authentic aspect of the revolutionary movement, at the beginning of the seventies capital had already incorporated the “transgressive” ideology of the Californian “alternative” culture, and disseminated it in all the markets of ideology.

Cesarano affirmed the profoundly “individual” content of the revolution, the implacable critique—assumed by the revolution from the sixties—of all forms of alienated everyday life; he rejected the alienation of theory in terrorist dogmatism, in that kind of Bacchanalia6 of the negative which had assumed, in his circle, the form of an ideology of “illegality” and an exaltation of vandalism and theft; he also attacked the now generalized spread of fragments of the critique of everyday life on the part of cultural centers that were directly subordinated to capital, which implicated broad sectors of the dissident youth movement.

During the nineties capital is spreading its messages in an extremely direct way, and has no problem propagating the most reactionary and decrepit ideologies. Therefore, we no longer need the kind of mighty exploits that Cesarano had to carry out in order to avoid offering an ideological model of immediatist radicality, nor to wink at the youth as Marcuse did, while he clearly referred to LSD and more generally to the destruction of the limits of the ego.

In the Critica dell’utopia capitale, Cesarano clearly explains how, in schizophrenic delirium, the wall collapses within which our inherited language imprisons communication, and therefore so too does the perceptive barrier that marks the frontier between the ego and the world, thus opening up the explosive possibility of a dialectical relation between one individual and another. At the same time, he had to warn of the danger of the “private prison sentence”, which, expecting “the explosion of living meaning experienced as individual vicissitude, sought to set fire all at once to the totality of its own meaning”.7 In the Manuale di sopravivenza, on the other hand, he issues a warning against the new forms of self-valorization that transform “psychotic” or “neurotic” experience into a new spectacular role.

Certainly, from many points of view, things have been simplified today. Capital has now gone beyond the phase when it could extract new cultural and artistic forms from the psychedelic experience or, on another level, when it could incorporate vast sectors of the new generations that have a spontaneous predilection for rebellion. What is absolutely fashionable today is the individual described in the Critica dell’utopia capitale, who dizzyingly perceives his own belonging to an Alien world and who is rendered absolutely incapable of communicating with others, who, participants in the hallucination, appear to him to be masks. It is this description, among others, of the hallucinatory character of this continuous flux of alienated relations that forms the everyday reality of capital, in which the individual gradually internalizes the roles of its cycle of valorization—at work, in the family, in codified “sentimental” relations—where Cesarano writes some of his most powerful pages, immediately comprehensible by the revolutionary who is “lost” in today’s reality.

Now, more than ever before, the danger of a total uprooting and surrender exists, since the link with a recent past of generalized revolt is entirely lacking.

16. The activity of the Centro d’iniziativa Luca Rossi

This is why an activity like that undertaken by the Centro d’iniziativa Luca Rossi is relevant, which we may summarize as follows:

1. Clarifying the revolutionary tradition, which is necessary in order to establish some principles that transcend the waves of barbarism that capital has unleashed on the world that it has colonized (racism, war, the bloody resurgence of national conflicts like those of the period before the First World War, the belligerent expansionism of the old religions), with special attention to the ultraleft current of the epoch of fascism and Stalinism. This labor implies the resumption of the projects that were underway in the seventies and which could not be concluded: the affirmation of communism and its positive description. Because we must confront the mystification that accompanied the collapse of that which seventy years of counterrevolution falsely passed off as “communism”, while fascism and racism no longer just play the role of spectacular scarecrows but have become gigantic zombies armed to the teeth.
2. Drawing up a balance sheet of the Italian radical current, because the revolutionary eruption of those years “set fire to” a series of questions without actually answering them, and got stuck in a dead end just when the time seemed to be most favorable for its activity (1977). This is why it is necessary to demarcate that historical experience in order to extract the requisite lessons from it. There is a clear necessity, among other things, of making accessible the results of this endeavor, but it is unthinkable that this should be done outside the boundaries of a discussion that would make it comprehensible and that would make it an object of criticism for today’s revolutionaries. It is therefore necessary to confront a double task: to spread the principle texts of the seventies and to try to draw up a critical balance sheet of that period.
3. In the short term, we have to avoid repeating the error that was made at that time and that would be totally unthinkable today: the valorization of isolation (which transforms theoretical activity into something abstract and unverifiable). To the contrary, the experiences of the revolutionaries in the workplaces, in the rank and file proletarian organizations, and in the social centers, must be very carefully analyzed without making any exceptions, since they constitute a vital element, without which not even the preliminary formulations of the revolutionary tradition would be viable. One lesson that may be immediately drawn from the radical theory of the seventies is that the revolutionaries cannot omit the concrete relations with the social struggle without swelling the ranks of so many brilliant former revolutionaries; and at the same time, they cannot renounce the concrete and living critique of everyday life without eventually succumbing to passive nihilism.
4. There is no need to fear the organizational and institutional solutions that could serve to attain full practical efficacy. In the current conditions of the profound crisis of capitalism, in which the best elements of the international revolutionary proletariat are not, however, prospering—and there is not even a prosperous class movement capable of self-defense—the revolutionaries face all the typical dangers of the previous periods of retreat, but they still do not possess any historical relation with a recent movement of generalized struggle. Thus, in a certain sense, today much more than in the seventies, we move along the edge of the abyss, threatened by the snare of desperation, deception, and the “catastrophic” crisis of devalorization, in which it is becoming ever more difficult to find a solution in attack and revolt, a solution that, after all, in comparison with our current situation, used to be within reach. So that now, no one may allow himself any kind of indulgence on the terrain of isolation. Revolutionary community, organization and solidarity are urgent necessities, whose absence is dramatically obvious, but whose realization is terribly distant. All of which calls for strong bonds between revolutionaries, without any kind of sectarianism. The current period of “preparatory” work, of clarification of principles, requires not only coherence and intransigence, but also an enrichment of contacts, of sources and discussions. The revolutionary milieu is in itself too weak, it is too much of a “nostalgic” parody of what it once was, to be capable of constituting by itself a valid point of reference. That is why it needs all the contributions it can get, in order to create some degree of circulation of ideas, of research, of study, that would at least establish the minimal conditions for a resurgence.

There will be no movement without principles and without theory, nor will there be any movement if we reproduce the narrow-mindedness that characterized the decline of the radicals.

  • 1. In Danzig (Gdansk) and Stettin, Poland, violent strikes broke out among the miners in 1970 and continued throughout the entire decade. The powerful strike movement that arose in both cities not only spread throughout all of Poland, but also had profound repercussions throughout all of the areas controlled by the USSR. This movement was actually the beginning of the end of the state capitalism that ruled the Warsaw Pact countries [Note of the Spanish Translator].
  • 2. That is, the part that was finished and revised by the author. The rest of the book is composed of Cesarano’s notes and letters.
  • 3. Giorgio Cesarano, Critica…, op. cit., p. 389.
  • 4. Giorgio Cesarano, Critica…, op. cit., p. 31.
  • 5. Giorgio Cesarano, Critica…, op. cit., p. 121.
  • 6. The Bacchanalia were ritual celebrations held in ancient Greece. In these celebrations a phallic symbol was carried in a procession, the object of adoration that could represent Priapus, Dionysius, or other deities. [Note of the Spanish Translator]
  • 7. Among other things, if we want to demystify the recent past in Italy, there is not much to find in the declining theoretical production of the last radical communists. As of this date there has been no attempt to draw up a balance sheet of the veritable war of the years 1977-1979 (from the expulsion of Lama from the University of Rome to the struggle of the hospital workers). The dominant mystifications in the culture of the left tend to obscure or eliminate all the profound features and characteristics of this period, proposing a tremendously falsified reading under the rubric of “the years of lead”, which only emphasizes the false spectacular war between the State and the militarized political groups. A typical aspect of this official interpretation is the version of the “defeat” of the movement, exemplified by, among others, the various exponents of Autonomia Operaia and the military groups, presented as if it were the result of a civil war or a revolutionary movement that was on the verge of seizing power. If we have to speak of defeat, this defeat certainly was not the result of a pitched battle, but was a social defeat, due to the profound weakness and fragility of the movement. The autonomists have also completely neglected the task of drawing up a serious historical balance sheet of Autonomia Operaia, which played such an important role in the reality of the movement.

    There is a “radical critique” of the military tendency of the Red Brigades that was undertaken by Cesarano and Collu in Apocalypse and Revolution, and comprehensively completed by some of our comrades, and even by some exponents of Autonomia Operaia. There has been, however, absolutely no radical critique of the contents expressed and disseminated by the armed organizations such as the Red Brigades, Azione Revoluzionaria and Prima Linea; in order to find such an analysis of this kind the only place one can look is in various texts of the autonomists.

    The events of the three years 1977-1979 were decisive for the fifteen years that followed, from 1980 to 1994, and are inevitably completely unknown by the young people today, who cannot even easily find the publications of Autonomia Operaia, which were so widely distributed during those years. This shortcoming, added to the gross distortions introduced by the restructuring of culture and intellectual life—which, unlike 1968, judged the movement of 1977 to be “unmentionable” due to its opposition to the PCI—has made a major contribution to this neglect, and the resulting timidity of today’s subversive youth milieu.