6. Potere Operaio

The chapter in Steve Wright's "Storming Heaven" on the revolutionary Italian group Potere Operaio. ("Workers' Power"), active between 1967 and 1973.

Submitted by Fozzie on August 16, 2023

For the brief years of its existence, the revolutionary organisation Potere Operaio would represent a unique moment in the development of workerism. At a time when many young people in the West attempted to repeat the success of Bolshevism, the experience of the self-styled Leninists of Potere Operaio was to parallel in certain striking ways that of German ultra-leftism during the early Weimar Republic. Anti-parliamentarian, contemptuous of work within the unions, committed to an insurrectionalist perspective, the line of Potere Operaio was soon to be, as Scalzone (1980: 249) later reflected from prison, 'caught in the eye of the hurricane, like a kind of modern KAPD' [Kommunistiche Arbeiter Partei Deutschlands - the Communist Workers' Party of Germany] . And as with that fardistant organisation, the failure of Potere Operaio to realise its ambitions was to throw many of its members' central tenets into crisis. If Potere Operaio was in a very real sense the word of classical operaismo made flesh, its difficulties would also make plain the flaws in both the theory of the 1960s and the workerists' attempts to implement it.