22. France, Germany, Italy (and communisation again)

Submitted by Spassmaschine on December 17, 2009

It's quite common in Germany to talk and dream of some French "specificity", because of the alleged abundance and superior level of social movements your side of the River Rhine , with 68, rioting in the banlieues, the anti-CPE movement, etc. What would you say?

Ironically, it could be the other way round. One could argue that it's in Germany 1919-21 and later in Spain (and Italy 1919-22, to a lesser extent) that an insurgent working class went the farthest in Western Europe in the 20th century.

We'll answer your question indirectly, and the following remarks will help understand what we mean by communisation:

Although Italy clearly did not implement communisation in the 1970s, it came closer to such a process than any other country. Italian factory struggles were very different from the Turino sit-downs in 1920, or those in Europe and the US in the 1930s. Worker demands went with a deep disrespect for the company's interests and for the strikers' own immediate interests and, up to a point, for work itself. The separation between work and non-work, between illegality and normality, withered. There were a myriad of grassroots self-organisations in worker and popular districts, as well as an outright attack against political parties and unions. Nowhere in Europe did the CP and the unions come under such determined rejection as around 1977. There were few attempts to do away with money on any large scale, but mercantile relations were questioned all through the 1970s in Italy.
We can't analyse those tendencies and endeavours from the point of view of their final failure. Fail they did, because the proletarians did not cross the Rubicon. So the manifold aspects of the movement lost their critical edge, and turned into piecemeal transformations. Women's action just became feminism. Armed violence disconnected itself from social disturbances. The workplace was the scene of a neo-unionism. The critique of the party led to the creation of small parties, and ended in rank-and-filism. Rebellious marginality got integrated into acceptable street culture. The critique of daily life later gave birth to cyber-individualism. Instead of anti-war and anti-army actions, we now have consensual pacifism. Once again, "counter-revolution" pays its tribute to defeated revolutionary efforts.