Cassia, Salvatore, 1944-2002

Militant: Class struggle in 1970s Italy
Militant: Class struggle in 1970s Italy

A biography of Italian anarchist and electronics worker Salvatore Cassia.

Submitted by Steven. on September 28, 2004

Salvatore “Toto” Cassia was a Sicilian of Trapani, but born at Siena on 2nd February 1944 after his parents settled there for 2 years after leaving Tripoli.

He discovered anarchism in the public library at Trapani which had a rich collection of texts and newspapers from the 19th century. At the end of the 60s he was a student at the sociological faculty at Trento and began to participate in struggles and as a result did not get his degree. In 1969 he settled in Milan in the Ticinese quarter and struck up a friendship with the railworker Giuseppe Pinelli. With him he frequented the anarchist group Circolo Scaldasole. In following years like many anarchist militants, he was actively involved in campaigns around the police murder of Pinelli (made famous by Dario Fo’s play “Accidental Death of an Anarchist” where, like Pinelli, an anarchist is thrown from a police station window) and for the release and pardoning of the framed Valpreda and his comrades.

A worker at Sit-Siemens, he contributed to the birth of the Struggle Committee in the factory. This built links with other base committees - the Autonomous Assembly of Alfa-Romeo, the CUB Pirelli - to agitate for a rank and file coordination built on workers' autonomy, class struggle and direct action.

In the neighbourhood, he was among the founders of the group Azione Libertaria (1969-1972) and the experience of Proletari Autonomi (1972-1973). He was active in the early 70s in a series of initiatives in Milan, concentrating on counterinformation against the Strategy of Tension of the State and on workplace activity. The group transformed itself into the Centro Comunista di Ricerche sul l'Autonomia Proletaria (amusing acronymed CCRAP) in 1974 and from 1976 he was active in the Collegamenti grouping and its magazine. There was an intense period of theoretical research and of debates at national level, and the important development of the anti-Leninist tendency within the autonomous movement.

At the end of the 80s he participated in the initiatives of the Circolo Napoleone Papini, contributing to the organisation of several anti-clerical gatherings at Fano. In his last years he was involved in the birth of the rank and file workers' organisation the Confederazione Unitaria di Base (CUB) and was active in the CUB al-I'Italtel which distributed a daily factory newssheet. He possessed a great culture and a vast knowledge in many areas, the fruits of incessant study. In his last years he suffered five surgical operations, the last of which led to complications. He died in February in Milan.

A hundred comrades and friends attended his cremation, among them many workers of Italtel and the CUB, with many red and black flags and the beautiful anarchist song Addio a Lugano and L'Internazionale were sung.

Nick Heath
Edited by libcom