S01E005 - Autonomia – 1968 to the ‘Year of ’77′

An edition of the Novara radio show discussing the history and analysis of the Italian workerist movement, Autonomia and its continued relevance and resonance within anti-austerity movements today with Federico Campagna of Through Europe.

Submitted by wojtek on January 7, 2012

This week, Workerism, Autonomia and Lessons from the Italian Left; What can 2011 learn from Italy in the 1970s - with Federico Campagna from Zed Books.

Novara - a weekly show on Resonance FM discussing political theory, practice and aesthetics. Discussions and interventions will be with workers, theorists, students and activists. Hosted by Aaron Peters.

Juan Conatz

10 years 6 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

I really like this show and wish there was something similar in the U.S., although I imagine it would be hard because we're so spread out.

Harrison

10 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

this was great

Joseph Kay

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

This is a great introduction to the movements and theories of 1968-77. The discussion of the refusal of work as driving capitalist innovation reminded me of this:

Adam Smith

in consequence of the division of labour, the whole of every man's attention comes naturally to be directed towards some one very simple object. It is naturally to be expected, therefore, that some one or other of those who are employed in each particular branch of labour should soon find out easier and readier methods of performing their own particular work, wherever the nature of it admits of such improvement. A great part of the machines made use of in those manufactures in which labour is most subdivided, were originally the inventions of common workmen, who, being each of them employed in some very simple operation, naturally turned their thoughts towards finding out easier and readier methods of performing it. Whoever has been much accustomed to visit such manufactures must frequently have been shown very pretty machines, which were the inventions of such workmen in order to facilitate and quicken their particular part of the work. In the first fire-engines, a boy was constantly employed to open and shut alternately the communication between the boiler and the cylinder, according as the piston either ascended or descended. One of those boys, who loved to play with his companions, observed that, by tying a string from the handle of the valve which opened this communication to another part of the machine, the valve would open and shut without his assistance, and leave him at liberty to divert himself with his playfellows. One of the greatest improvements that has been made upon this machine, since it was first invented, was in this manner the discovery of a boy who wanted to save his own labour.

Joseph Kay

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

To elaborate on that, it would suggest the current crisis has its roots in capital's success in smashing working class power, employing spatial fixes (e.g. moving big factories from the west to low-wage dictatorships) rather than technical fixes (labour-saving innovations). Without a strong antagonistic subject forcing it to innovate, capital grinds to a halt.

Paradoxically, that would suggest an upsurge in class antagonism (infsofar as it falls short of communisation) might be just what capitalism needs to jump start accumulation. It does seem plausible, e.g. the repression of finance and some redistribution of wealth would be a likely response to a powerful class movement, and these might at the same time re-establish conditions for accumulation (e.g. boosting effective demand and limiting destructive bubbles).

A provocative hypothesis at least.

Anatta

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Any chance of making this available for download on SoundCloud again?

georgestapleton

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Joseph Kay

To elaborate on that, it would suggest the current crisis has its roots in capital's success in smashing working class power, employing spatial fixes (e.g. moving big factories from the west to low-wage dictatorships) rather than technical fixes (labour-saving innovations). Without a strong antagonistic subject forcing it to innovate, capital grinds to a halt.

Paradoxically, that would suggest an upsurge in class antagonism (infsofar as it falls short of communisation) might be just what capitalism needs to jump start accumulation. It does seem plausible, e.g. the repression of finance and some redistribution of wealth would be a likely response to a powerful class movement, and these might at the same time re-establish conditions for accumulation (e.g. boosting effective demand and limiting destructive bubbles).

A provocative hypothesis at least.

Provocative indeed!

However, once again its important not to overstate the slow down in labour productivity growth.

Here's a graph of the US, UK and Germany's labour productivity growth from 1950-2010, with 1980 being used as the base year. (i.e. 1980 every country is equal to 100, so you are looking at change relative to 1980).

Or to look at the same stats in a different way, here are bar charts showing increase in labour productivity for the same countries.

Posting graphs on libcom could easily become my new hobby.

By-the-by, I actually think your idea has quite a lot too it. I do literally mean - "its important not to overstate" the problems with increasing labour productivity.

georgestapleton

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Gah the labels didn't come out on those graphs.

Its the same throughout.

Black/Grey - US

Blue - UK

Red - Germany

Harrison

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Anatta

Any chance of making this available for download on SoundCloud again?

JDownloader will get you the file
http://jdownloader.org/download/index

Joseph Kay

Paradoxically, that would suggest an upsurge in class antagonism (infsofar as it falls short of communisation) might be just what capitalism needs to jump start accumulation. It does seem plausible, e.g. the repression of finance and some redistribution of wealth would be a likely response to a powerful class movement, and these might at the same time re-establish conditions for accumulation (e.g. boosting effective demand and limiting destructive bubbles).

Looking at it in a positive light, if this is correct, it means we will remain in crisis until a strong class movement emerges, with all the radicalisation of various elements that this entails.

If anything, i think it is greater evidence of the inadequacy of orthodox/'revolutionary' (ie. bolshevik) marxist 'do class struggle however we can' (including through parliament) and confirms the prefigurative aspect of struggle, and how it is not the reforms in themselves, but how they are won, that will positively reinforce future industrial tactics making more direct conflict with capital and lead to a resultant growth in conscious communist struggle.

Even if communisation doesn't occur, the success of direct methods of struggle at winning results will still be internalised into the collective memory of the class. I think the evidence for this lies in the (much neglected) fact italy saw several waves of base committees including in 1986, which lies outside the period of struggle usually associated with them.

A reactionary quote (about Hull 1978) from someone my university loves and i hate, relevant to this:

‘The lower-class bastards’, poet Philip Larkin told his friend Kingsley Amis, ‘can no more stop going on strike now than a laboratory rat with an electrode in its brain can stop jumping on a switch to give itself an orgasm.’

georgestapleton

10 years 2 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

That is an amazing quote!