5. The Refusal of Work

Submitted by libcom on July 24, 2005

5 The refusal of work

More than any other single watchword of the communist movement, the refusal of work has been continually and violently outlawed, suppressed and mystified by the traditions and the ideology of socialism. If you want to provoke a socialist to rage, or deflate his flights of demagogy, provoke him on the question of the refusal of work!

(Negri 1979a: 124)

To struggle against capital, the working class must fight against itself insofar as it is capital.

(Tronti, cited in ATP: 571)

In Chapter 4 I identified a point of contrast between Negri's and Deleuze's understandings of minor politics and its relations with capitalist dynamics. When Negri proposed that Marx's 'Fragment on Machines' raised the possibility of a communism of the 'transversal organization of free individuals built on a technology that makes it possible' (in N: 174), Deleuze responded with a 'shudder', suggesting that the new mechanisms, technologies, and arrangements of production were less concomitant with communism than with advanced regimes of control. For Deleuze, that is, there was no tendency in productive processes towards an emerging communist autonomy - politics was to continue to reside in cramped minority positions in the midst of capitalist social relations. In Chapter 4 I showed how operaismo developed a framework for the analysis of contemporary production which resonated with Deleuze's understanding of capital and control. Now I want to return to operaismo and autonomia to see how they developed a politics adequate to this cramped space of the social factory. In a general sense, this chapter is a discussion of the socialized worker that draws back from Hardt and Negri's (2000) emerging autonomous multitude to see how it can be seen as a minor political figure.

Following the framework of minor composition laid out in Chapter 2, this chapter takes off from the cramped condition identified by Tronti and Panzieri that the social factory operates as a generalized plane of production, such that politics, as Tronti argues, begins with the refusal of the model of the people. The chapter then shows how the politics of 'the refusal of work' operates in this cramped space to ward off any plenitude in, or political subject of, work. The chapter then turns to the understanding of 'class composition' and the 'reversal of perspective' as operaismo's mode of political composition, before considering the problematic of 'autovalorization'. The chapter then considers three aspects of autonomia's practical activity "” the complex of work, the refusal of work, and counterculture in the 'emarginati', the question of the social wage in the Wages for Housework campaign and 'autoreduction', and the techniques of cultural creation in the Metropolitan Indians and Radio Alice. Before developing the argument I want to make a couple of preliminary points about this engagement with operaismo and autonomia.

The chapter draws upon materials from a complex and relatively long period in Italian political history: it starts with the conceptual constellation of operaismo that circulated around the figure of the mass worker, and moves to the practices of autonomia and the emarginati and socialized worker. There is a very real danger here of a false subsumption of very different forms and styles of politics in an overarching schema. As I indicated in the introduction to Chapter 4, operaismo and autonomia were diffuse and extremely varied configurations, and it would be wholly misguided to try and neatly subsume this complexity in one coherent movement. Further, autonomia emerges as the power of the mass worker was becoming curtailed through the closure of the large Northern factories, the decentralization of production, mass unemployment, and a wealth of austerity measures. As such, much changed between the 1960s and the late 70s such that the Movement of 77 was a very different political configuration from the Hot Autumn of '69.1 However, rather than posit a neat break in productive regimes, it is mote useful to see autonomia as existing amidst an emerging productive regime, in a movement from the mass worker towards the social factory and the socialized worker proper. The movements of autonomia can be seen, that is, as a most contemporary engagement with social lines of flight - something that existed immanently to pervasive social change "” and expressing a 'double flux' between the movement of the extra-parliamentary left and the new regimes of production. If we frame autonomia in this way, it becomes possible to see it as an extension and proliferation of the techniques and modes of composition of operaismo into new areas, following Bologna's characterization of the Movement of 77 as 'a kind of both synthesis and transcendence of three generations of movements' (in Cuninghame 2001).

In making this case the chapter focuses on a vein in autonomia that can be seen as lying amidst the more molar forms of orthodox workerism, the vanguardist aspects of autonomia operaia, and the small 'militarized' groups and the 'diffuse violence' of the P.38 phenomenon that emerged in the late 1970s (cf. anonymous 1980), which, though largely a response to the repression, ended up in their effects being not wholly different from the Red Brigades, particularly when the violence moved from being 'diffuse' to 'clandestine'. Because of the considerable complexity of the 'area of autonomia, these different aspects and forms were often interlaced "” each aspect being 'crossed by a multiplicity of tendencies' (Albertani 1981: n.p.).2 As I mark in the argument, operaismo and autonomia (as any assemblage) had both minor and molar tendencies. The chapter is attentive to this tension, but aims to draw out the minor and proletarian aspects of this current. It also draws on movements and concepts from other communist currents as appropriate as sites for contrast or elaboration. As such, this chapter should nor be seen as an attempt at a history of operaismo and autonomia. It is, rather, an analysis of some of the modes of composition of this current, as an attempt to show how the politics of the socialized worker can be conceptualized in a minor fashion.

The cramped space of operaismo

Operaismo's, analysis of real subsumption and its social factory thesis, as explored in Chapter 5, left operaismo in a rather 'cramped' position, for neither technological and productive forces (and the politics of orthodox Marxism), nor the development of social democracy (and the PCI's politics of 'hegemony') offered means of escape from capitalist relations. Indeed, inasmuch as both models were premised on the coming to presence of a people "” either as the amassing of proletarian forces in technologically rich production or as the development of an expansive space of counter-hegemony in social democracy "” they were seen as functional to the naturalization of capitalist relations. Against these models, operaismo's, politics thus begins with the affirmation of the minor condition that the people are missing. The point is made starkly by Tronti:

[T]he real generalization of the workers' conditions can introduce the appearance of its formal extinction. It is on this basis that the specific concept of labor's power is immediately absorbed in the generic concept of popular sovereignty: the political mediation here serves to allow the explosive content of labor's productive force to function peacefully within the beautiful forms of the modern relation of capitalist production. Because of this, at this level, when the working class politically refuses to become people, it does not close, but opens the most direct way to the socialist revolution.

(Tronti 1973: 115-16)

As I showed in Chapter 2, Deleuze and Guattari argue that this cramped condition, where 'the people are missing', is not the announcement of a political dead-end. Deleuze and Guattari argue that cramped, impossible conditions compel politics, for if the most personal individual intrigue is always traversed by a wealth of determining social relations, then these social relations must be engaged with, disrupted, and politicized, if anything is to be actively lived. The milieu of such an engagement is never able to settle, or soar onto the self-actualizing grandeur of a people and its representatives, master authors. Instead, it is an 'incessant bustle' charged with a vitality, with polemic, and with constant reinterpretation, where the often dry and obsessive work of intimate interrogation and particular intrigue - what may be called the 'cellar' of major literature - becomes itself the site of a collectively produced 'minor' literature.

This mode of creation is amply evident in operaismo. In commentary on operaismo, the dry, terse, and obsessive nature of their work is often remarked upon; indeed, for Moulier (1989: 5), 'the aridity or the obscurity of this form of Marxism ... is like no other manifestation we have known'. The incessant engagement with, and reworking of Marx "” a little of which I showed in Chapter 4 in relation to the real subsumption thesis "” was driven less by a sense of an autonomous tradition, a 'revolutionary history', than by a need to put his work to use, to rework it in particular circumstances in an engagement with determining social relations. The Marx that they focused on - Capital volumes II and III, and the Grundrisse -- was often obscure and difficult; for its dense complexity Guido Baldi (1985: 33) describes the Grundrisse as Marx's Finnegan's Wake. It also produced unusual reinterpretations; Moulier (1989: 35) reports that operaismo's, Marx was heretical enough to be said by its opponents to be a fabrication, and that indeed there was a joke that Enzo Grillo's translation of the Grundrisse was better than the original.

Central to these reinterpretations of Marx was an intensive mode of theoretical and linguistic creation that resonates with the minor mode of deterritorialization of language. Moulier (1989) suggests that the rather complex and arcane terminology of operaismo was a necessary aspect of its emergence through the PCI- and PSI-dominated left milieux. The complex and cramped relations of emerging operaismo with the historic left, and the way this necessitated a deterritorialized "” rather than an open and autonomous "” mode of formation of new perspectives is clear, for example, in the development of Panzieri's work. Wright (2002: 15"”21) describes Panzieri's critique of the historic left's formation of the party and his emphasis on the 'economic sphere' against the left's social democratic trajectory "” posed as it was from within the PSI - as emerging in terms 'to which few in the historic left would then have objected', but which 'came to assume connotations quite different to those shared by the majority of Communists and Socialists' (17). He thus writes:

without ever registering an explicit break in his thinking, Panzieri's pursuit of workers' control led him further and further away from the historic left's prevalent themes of class alliance and the constitutional road to socialism. As such, Panzieri's work of the period represents one of the first clear, if unspoken, ruptures with Togliatti's perspectives from within the labour movement itself.

(Wright 2002: 19)

Presenting the point more generally, Moulier writes:

[D]oubtless by the same token that Althusser ventured into the French Communist Party under cover of scientific Marxism and Spinoza, the adherents of operaismo proceeded to use formulae that would not have shocked the old Stalinist communists. One could even say that part of the strange character of operaismo in the years 1964 to 1971 lies in this paradoxical way of saying in the very language of the Communist Party things which are so contrary to its whole theoretical foundation as to imitate its internal rupture.3

(Moulier 1989: 20-1)

Thus, if the complex terminology had a cloaking function, it also reflected the considerable creativity of the movement. Though operaismo and autonomia used received Marxian terminology, they also coined many new terms, from 'class composition' to 'autovalorization' and 'autoreduction', each seeking to describe particular phenomena and maintain an 'operationality' for their milieux. The complexity and creativity of operaist and autonomist language is raised by Negri (from the isolation wing in Rebibbia prison in 1979) in response to a question about the difficulty of his language (and the consequent difficulty of rank and file militants using it), and it is worth citing at length:

Certainly, the language is occasionally obscure. But it was far more obscure 20 years ago. At that time we had to find ways of inserting Marxist and revolutionary debates into the official labour movement, and since at the same time we had to avoid being expelled and marginalised, we found a hermetic style of language. The bureaucrats did not understand it, and underestimated the power of what we were saying. But since then things have changed a lot. Nowadays revolutionary students are far more able to understand the language that I and my friends use, rather than the 'clear and distinct' language of the ideological falsifications of the official parties. Our language is difficult, but distinct. It speaks of things. Theirs is clear, but not distinct: they speak of nothing. Our language is difficult: but our comrades study it, as they study the classics of Marxism, the critique of political economy and many other things.

(Negri, in Red Notes 1979: 206)

This sense of the relation to the major languages of orthodoxy and the practicality of conceptual production is crucial to an understanding of Negri's work. Negri's works "” at least until Empire "” have become notorious as 'difficult' texts. The difficulty of Negri's prose was marked, for example, by the English translators (who are well schooled in the milieu) of the, in Italy, best-selling pamphlet 'Capitalist domination and working class sabotage' (Negri 1979a) when they chose to omit some sections of the manuscript because, as they put it, 'In translating, we found the first two pages of this section almost incomprehensible' (116). Rather than consider Negri's prose in isolation, one is best able to understand it if one sees it in the context of its milieu of composition. This point is made by Michael Hardt (1990b) in his review of Negri's (1988) Red Notes essay collection Revolution Retrieved. Hardt (1990b: 173"”4) suggests that the sometimes arcane and uneven nature of Negri's prose is often attributable to the political immediacy and the complex dynamics of much of its production. Though in this piece Hardt is constrained by the introductory form of the book review "” and one that concerns an author who was then relatively unknown in the Anglo-American political and academic world "” there is a sense in which he sees the contingencies of struggle that were immanent to its production as obscuring the primary interest of the book, 'its lucid formulation of some of the central problematics facing Marxism today' (173). Viano (in Negri 1991a: xxxviii-ix) offers a more engaged take on the complexity of Negri's work. Arguing that it is a bourgeois fallacy (rooted in the image of a fully present universal humanity) that assumes that a book should be consumed similarly by the spectrum of social subjects, Viano suggests that Negri's language is a 'homage to difference' rooted in a cultural milieu opposed to the repetition of the regular refrains and meanings of 'normal' discourse. He implies that the language of autonomia is more akin to atonal music, is self-consciously positioned at the margins of the system of symbolic reproduction, and is comprised of many different parallel and divergent expressions. Whilst this can sound a little like a romanticism of difference, and it cannot be an excuse for incoherent writing (when traversing and developing extremely complex Marxian figures, such language is not without its problems), it does raise the question of the affective and productive nature of language in a context - Marxian political discourse "” where such concerns are rarely evident. In the specific case of Negri - whose Ernpire is currently in danger of becoming seen as an autonomous, or 'major' theoretical work "” it also encourages the reader to maintain a sense of the contextuality and productivity of his work, and to see it as expressing a mode of composition which emerges not in autonomous authors, but amidst the situated engagement, polemic, intrigue, and contestation that is the characteristic style of minor literature.

The refusal of work

We can now turn to the conceptual and political tools or modes of composition that emerged from this cramped space and Tronti's 'refusal to become people'. At the centre of operaismo's and autonomia's, political configuration is the principle of the 'refusal of work'. As I showed in Chapter 4 and above, for Tronti, the generalization of work across the social factory subsumes the workers in a 'general interest' of labour. I have already considered the 'planning' and 'hegemony' responses to this situation. A third response is the affirmation of a working-class particularity through the reclamation of work in a council communist or anarchosyndicalist community of workers, or 'self-management'. Because of its influence in radical milieux and its return in Hardt and Negri (2000: 411), and so as to distinguish the position of the refusal of work, self-management needs to be considered in some detail.

Self-management or 'councilism' "” as it developed through the critique of Leninism in the Dutch and German communist left, and groups such as Socialisme ou Barbarie and the Situationist International "” has maintained quite a degree of prominence in the communist movement.4 The introduction to Barrot (1987: 7) suggests that councilism 'dominated virtually the entire theoretical corpus of the revolutionary minorities between 1945 and 1970' - though it should be said that some currents, notably those that emerged through a relation to Bordiga and the Italian communist left, maintained a critique of self-management as a form of 'producer consciousness' from as early as 1918.5 Though devised as a means of organization immanent to the workers themselves (as against the abstracted party form), 'self-management' tends to be founded on variations of essentialist conceptions of human nature or presence, which, if left to 'self-organize', will fully realize a communist essence.6 Here, a form of organization is seen to display revolutionary content almost in and of itself,7 and as such tends to function as an irreproachable form where 'the workers' or 'the oppressed' speaking our and organizing themselves cannot be wrong.8 Camatte thus argues:

The illusion [to 'participation' that breaks passivity and dependence in self-management] is very great with those who, in thinking that they have superseded Marx, say that the economy is no longer determinant, if it ever was. [T]hey add, only the struggle counts, that man is always there in fact, present in the social and economic frame and in everyday acts and facts etc., and that there would always be an immediate and continuous possibility of emancipation, which occurs with self-management.

(Camatte 1995: 161)

For Tronti (1979a), in similar fashion, the self-management thesis is simply another version of the socialist affirmation of work. The thesis assumes that there is an autonomous labour that the workers could manage for themselves, extracted from capital, as if classes in capitalism are simply two separate groups, one of which is already communist in content. This perspective mistakes the problem of 'work' for that of 'management', and hence fails to take into account the way that work is always already capital; in real subsumption, work is not an autonomous activity sold to capital, but human activity called forth and immanently structured by capital. As Marx put it:

[The workers'] co-operation only begins with the labour process, but by then they have ceased to belong to themselves. On entering the labour process they are incorporated into capital. As co-operators, as members of a working organism, they merely form a particular mode of existence of capital. Hence the productive power developed by the worker socially is the productive power of capital.

(Marx 1976: 451; emphasis added)

Tronti thus argues:

The anarcho-syndicalist 'general strike', which was supposed to provoke the collapse of capitalist society, is a romantic naivete from the word go. It already contains within it a demand which it appears to oppose "” that is, the Lassallian demand for a 'fair share of the fruits of labour' "” in other words, a fairer participation in the profit of capital . . . [This is the incorrect] idea that it is 'working people' who are the true 'givers of labour', and that it is the concern of workpeople to defend the dignity of this thing which they provide, against all those who would seek to debase it.

(Tronti 1979a: 9)

The form 'work' (as a relation between fixed and variable capital), then, has the class relation immanent to it: 'the worker provides capital, not only insofar as he sells labour power, but also insofar as he embodies the class relation . . . From the outset, the conditions of labour are in the hands of the capitalist' (Tronti 1979a: 9).

The problems of the theory of workers' self-management come to the fore when considered in the context of its practical application, where it can prove to be not only a weak political figure, bat an efficient mechanism for capitalist productivity. Following Bordiga's assertion that 'Socialism resides entirely in the revolutionary negation of the enterprise, not in granting the enterprise to the factory workers' (cited in Négation 1975: 81), the journal Négation presents a fascinating critique of self-management in the case of the 1973 Lip watch-factory occupation in Besançon "” something of a cause célèbre of the post-'68 French left at the time. Following the threat of closure on the grounds of the factory's uncompetitiveness, the Lip factory workers occupied and proceeded to run the factory in self-managed fashion, maintaining production and, with considerable support from the left, marketing their own watches.9 Far from the emergence of proletarian power, Négation analyses this self-management as a moment of the self-harnessing of the workers to capitalist production in the period of real subsumption.10 Mistaking the individual capitalist (who, in real subsumption disappears into the collective body of share ownership on one side, and hired management on the other) rather than the enterprise as the problem, Négation argues that the workers themselves became a collective capitalist, taking on responsibility for the exploitation of their own labour.11 Thus, far from breaking with 'work', Négation points out that the workers maintained the practice of clocking-in, continued to organize themselves and the community around the needs of the factory, paid themselves from profits arising from the sale of watches, maintained determined relations between individual work done and wage, and continued to wear their work shirts throughout the process ('It is perhaps this small detail that best reveals the producer consciousness which characterized the Lip conflict'; 58).

Returning to operaismo, if work is always already a capitalist relation, then there is no simple subject of the working class. Everything about work 'cramps' workers' possibility such that it offers no space for autonomous, politically progressive subjectivity. As such, Tronti (1973: 117) proposes that to be alienated from work, its form, function and subject, becomes the founding condition of revolutionary politics. Politics is hence not a reclamation of work against an 'external' control, but a refusal of work and the very subject of worker:

No worker today is disposed to recognize the existence of labor outside capital. Labor equals exploitation: This is the logical prerequisite and historical result of capitalist civilization. From here there is no point of return. Workers have no time for the dignity of labor . . . Today, the working class need only look at itself to understand capital. It need only combat itself in order to destroy capital. It has to recognize itself as political power, deny itself as a productive force. For proof, we need only look at the moment of struggle itself: During the strike, the 'producer' is immediately identified with the class enemy. The working class confronts its own labor as capital, as a hostile force, as an enemy "” this is the point of departure not only for the antagonism, but for the organization of the antagonism.

(Tronti 1972a: 22)

The refusal of work - which, as I argued, is central to Marx's proletarian unnamable "” should not, then, be understood simply as a set of practices, but as a mechanism for the refusal of any plenitude or subject in work, and a continuous engagement against work and its identities. Alongside the operaist refusal to affirm the model of the people, the refusal of work can thus be seen as a mechanism for the continual deferral of identity and a propulsive force toward inventive practice within and against the productive regimes of the social factory. As such, it is not an abstract programme, but a mode of proletarian composition, and needs to be seen in its particular practice. Nevertheless, given the lack of familiarity with the critique of work in modern political culture, before considering the development of this politics in operaismo and autonomia it is useful to present a brief overview of the place of the critique of work in radical milieux.

Few of the social, political, and economic forecasts of the twentieth century can have been more off-beam than those which foresaw the immanent demise of work, where either 'mass unemployment' or 'leisure society' was to be caused by the substitution of machines for humans.12 As I argued in Chapter 4, we perform work which has over-spilled the old boundaries of the working day and the workplace with a plethora of regulatory and productive techniques in a fashion that shows not a demise, but an intensification of work (cf. Kamunist Kranti 1997).13 Work, as Britain's New Labour government is keen to assert at every step, has increasingly become 'the territory of the social' (Donzelot 1991: 253), as its simultaneously diffuse and integrated plane breaks down the old social sites of social security, moral education, retirement, social exclusion, cultural innovation, and so on (cf. Gray 1998; McRobbie 2002). Yet, whilst this intensification has not gone without opposition, there has been relatively little critique, or workplace politics that has seriously problematized the social arrangement of 'work' itself. Certainly in Britain, the central drive of Blairite social policy of 'social inclusion' through work has been easily naturalized.14 Though a critique of work was an important aspect of the early workers' movement (cf. Hunnicutt 1988), it would seem that as modern political culture developed, work became a rather unproblematic category. This trajectory is evident in Bordiga's comment about the evolution of socialism:

The classical socialist goal is the abolition of wage labor. Only the abolition of wage labor can bring about the abolition of capitalism. But not having been able to abolish wage labor in the sense that the workers see the absurdity and backwardness of selling their labor power, the socialist movement has, since it began, aimed at the abolition of the market economy.

(Bordiga, cited in Négation 1975: 51)

Even Marxist politics, where work is a central site of problematization, has so often served less to problematize than to glorify work, in, as Benjamin (1992: 250"”1) puts it, a kind of resurrection of the old Protestant work ethic. This is amply evident in the demands for the 'right to work', 'full employment', or Lenin's advocacy of Taylorism, Trotsky's 'militarization of labour', and Stalin's 'Stakhanovite' workers.15

A critique of work has, however, not been wholly absent from modern radical currents. In 1883 Paul Lafargue, Cuban-born Marxist and son-in-law to Marx, wrote a communist polemic, The Right to be Lazy, which can be seen as the start of the critique of work within the modern communist movement.16 Lafargue's argument has a simple premise:

A strange delusion possesses the working classes of the nations where capitalist civilization holds sway. This delusion drags in its train the individual and social woes which for two centuries have tortured sad humanity. This delusion is the love of work, the furious passion for work, pushed even to the exhaustion of the individual and his progeny. Instead of opposing this mental aberration, the priests, the economists and the moralists have cast a sacred halo over work.

(Lafargue 1989: 21)

Lafargue was careful not to situate the cause of this furious passion solely in the hands of the bourgeoisie and its "anaemic Rights of Man'. For the tragic irony is that those most subject to 'the most terrible scourge' have sought to make it the basis of their 'revolutionary principle' - the 'Right to Work': 'if the miseries of compulsory work and the tortures of hunger have descended upon the proletariat more in number than the locusts of the Bible, it is because the proletariat itself invited them' (28). Though this is not the place to assess Lafargue's argument, it is worth noting that, against the 'right to work' he presents communism as a movement which, through the pressure for shorter hours and higher wages, can force technological development toward a society with a minimum possible of work time, such that 'The end of revolution is not the triumph of justice, morality and liberty . . . but to work the least possible and to enjoy oneself intellectually and physically the most possible' (cited in Cohn 1972: 160).

At the same time as Lafargue was writing his Marxist polemic, Nietzsche was saying something not wholly different:

The impossible class. "” Poor, happy and independent! "” these things can go together; poor, happy and a slave! - these things can also go together "” and I can think of no better news I could give to our factory slaves: provided, that is, they do not feel it to be in general a disgrace to be thus used, and used up, as a part of a machine and as it were a stopgap to fill a hole in human inventiveness! ... If ... you have always in your ears the flirtings of the Socialist pied-pipers whose design is to enflame you with wild hopes? which bid you to be prepared and nothing further, prepared day upon day, so that you wait and wait for something to happen from outside and in all respects go on living as you have always lived . . . This would be the right attitude of mind: the workers of Europe ought henceforth to declare themselves as a class a human impossibility.

(Nietzsche 1982: §206)

The sense of the critique of work that Lafargue and Nietzsche manifest develops, in diverse "” and sometimes contradictory "” ways in an anti-work tangent that, to mention only US and European cases, resides in a number of twentieth-century communist and countercultural currents, movements, and events.17 Aside from operaismo and autonomia, the most prominent of these include the Industrial Workers of the World, Dada and aspects of Surrealism, the Situationist International, the Yippies, the Black Panther Party, US and UK base-committees in the automobile sector in the late 1960s and early 70s, tendencies in 1970s punk, aspects of Rastafari and other elements of black expressive culture and politics, as well as, in Britain, aspects of the unemployed workers' movement in the 1920s, elements of the Claimants' Union movement and, more recently, claimants' movements against the Jobseeker's Allowance and the New Deal.18 The refusal of work has also emerged in a number of journals, where the sense of the 1953 St Germain des Prés graffiti 'Ne Travaillez Jamais' has developed in many different ways (cf. Fatuous Times n.d., and Aufheben, Midnight Notes, Processed World and Zerowork generally).19

Class composition and the reversal of perspective

From the foundational cramping techniques of the refusal of the model of the people and the refusal of work, I will now turn to consider the modes of political composition of operaismo and autonomia, starting with operaismo's model of class. The operaist figure of 'class composition' is two-sided and dynamic, incorporating both structural and political factors. As Negri explains, it is first a more conventional composition in terms of the development of capitalist production and stratification, and then an antagonistic, 'political' composition:

By class composition, I mean that combination of political and material characteristics - both historical and physical - which makes up: (a) on the one hand, the historically given structure of labour-power, in all its manifestations, as produced by a given level of productive forces and relations; and (b) on the other hand, the working class as a determinate level of solidification of needs and desires, as a dynamic subject, an antagonistic force, tending towards its own independent identity in historical-political terms.

(Negri 1988b: 209)

The problematic position of 'independent identity' emerges here again, but leaving this aside for the moment, the important point is that the emphasis is placed on structural and political variation. Class is 'framed in terms of [its] historical transformability (Negri 1988b: 209). Or, as Moulier (1989: 14) puts it, class is a 'quality linked to dynamics and a field of force'. Rather than a Leninist distinction between the class 'in itself and 'for itself (where political 'consciousness' is injected from the outside into an already structurally formed class) or a sociological understanding of class as a socially stratified group, class composition is the effect of a more machinic co-functioning and variation of social, economic, technical, political, and cultural processes. Crucially, then, class composition signifies not a thing, but, as was elaborated under the sign of the proletariat in Chapter 3, a process or a mode of composition.

The theory of class composition places particular emphasis on the political forms, variations, and creations of the composition. Class composition is to be understood through an immersion in struggle, in a 'hot investigation' able to detect changing forms of practice, new needs, desires, and differences within the composition and relations between minorities in the class, and contribute to their development. This emphasis on political practice arose from operaismo's. central principle that working-class struggle has a determining place in the dynamics of capitalism "”as the motor of its development. This is the principle of operaismo's 'reversal of perspective' - what for Moulier (1989: 15) is, alongside the social factory thesis, one of the two 'essential discoveries' of operaismo. In his foundational text 'Lenin in England', Tronti puts it thus:

We too have worked with a concept that puts capitalist development first, and workers second. This is a mistake. And now we have to turn the problem on its head, reverse the polarity, and start again from the beginning: and the beginning is the class struggle of the working class. At the level of socially developed capital, capitalist development becomes subordinated to working class struggles; it follows behind them, and they set the pace to which the political mechanisms of capital's own reproduction must be tuned.20

(Tronti 1979b: 1)

In the reversal of perspective thesis, workers' struggles against work compel capital to reconfigure in order to constrain and capture that which escapes or disrupts the smooth functioning of production. Capital proceeds from the imposition of machines to structure and control workers (cf. Marx 1976: 563) towards an ever increasing socialization (real subsumption) in so far as each stage of development has its refusal, its unproductive entropy which compels capital to new technological paradigms in the 'decomposition' of each new 'class composition'.21 As such, struggle is a primary inventive force in any arrangement, and revolutionary force is gauged by the degree to which capital has trouble reconfiguring around working-class composition.

This model of class composition and the reversal of perspective has the benefits of breaking any objectivist understanding of capitalist dynamics and politics by placing instability at the heart of the system, and emphasizing the need to continually find mechanisms and sites of political invention, alliance, and resistance, without presenting these as timeless proletarian practices. It is a proletarian conception of composition in so far as struggle is seen to emerge through engagement with contemporary capitalist axiomatics and dynamics and processes of their deterritorialization. The reversal of perspective, does, however, raise some problems.

Despite Tronti's insistence that work is always already capital, such that there is no independent subject of the working class, there is a tendency in the reversal of perspective to present a bi-polar war game between two distinct subjects "” if not between 'capital and the working class', then between 'capital and workers-in-struggle'. Struggle, that is, seems to take on a certain autonomy or independence from capital, and can be presented in a rather universal or flat fashion, as it is elevated to the principle of creativity in capitalist arrangements. Some of Negri's work enables this point to be illustrated at the extreme. The reversal of perspective is central to Empire's formulation of historical change.22 In a fashion similar to Tronti, Hardt and Negri (2000: 268, 208, 268) argue, for example, that 'The history of capitalist forms is always necessarily a reactive history', that 'it is always the initiatives of organized labor power that determine the figure of capitalist development', and that 'The proletariat actually invents the social and productive forms that capital will be forced to adopt in the future.' But Negri adds another level to the argument. In The Politics of Subversion he appears to break with the reversal of perspective, calling it 'the rotten dialectic of workerism': 'that connection which saw proletarian struggles continuously induce restructuration of the forms of capitalist control - and which was confronted by a new subjective outline of class (and all that indefinitely) has been definitively broken' (1989: 87-8; emphasis added). However, Negri's problem seems to be not with this understanding of cycles of struggle and capture per se, but with the 'indefinite' "” we could say, non-teleological "” nature of the process as he sees it formulated in operaismo. Bearing in mind that the reversal of perspective is central to Empire, it would seem that for Negri the cycle is not just one of autonomy-in-struggle and capture, but one where each cycle of class composition and decomposition tends to produce an ever more autonomous mode of social production. Struggle, that is, is presented not only as a site of autonomy, but as forcing the movement to autonomous production (cf. Chapter 4).

Rather than see resistance and capital in a neat dichotomy "” or, as with Negri, see resistance induce a move toward productive autonomy "” we need to see how the reversal of perspective can be posed in more minor and proletarian terms. To this end, Deleuze and Guattari's understanding of the 'line of flight' and its tension with Foucault's 'resistance' is helpful. As I showed in Chapter 2, Deleuze argues that Foucault's model of 'resistance' is a rather weak and under-theorized reaction to power, rather than something in its own right. In its place "” following Deleuze and Guattari's emphasis on the primacy of desiring production - Deleuze proposes a fuller principle of the 'line of flight'. The line of flight is not so much a flight from an assemblage, as it is the inventive force upon which each assemblage seeks to configure (though, of course, as it configures around the line of flight, each assemblage mutates and may break down, developing into a different arrangement). At one level, the argument is not so different from Foucault (1982) since, for him, configurations of power equally engage with "” and are, in a sense, driven by "” resistance. For Deleuze, however, the line of flight has a more ambiguous nature than the term 'resistance' conveys. As we saw in Chapter 4, the capitalist socius operates directly on its lines of flight, and comes to do so increasingly in control societies. It reconfigures not solely as a result of struggle and resistance, but as a result of the wealth of attributes of life - or, to use Marxian terms, labour - and its manifold lines of flight, including its variable productivity, breakdowns, inventions, and desires, as much as its unproductive entropy and resistance.23 If we think of the reversal of perspective in terms of the line of flight, political practice does not need to look for and affirm a pure space - an autonomy from capital "” or propose a unified force of resistance. Rather, it should engage with the wealth of practices, desires, inventions, and needs throughout the social, following their lines of flight and seeking to deterritorialize the regimes of work and equivalence immanent to them.24 This approach still gives ontological and epistemological primacy to the processes of escape, but it requires close attention both to workers' politics - some of which, even if apparently a 'resistance', may not be so progressive "” and to more varied and diffuse aspects of social life, and groups historically excluded from the workers' movement - some of which may express a politics even if it is not framed in overt terms, or is not immediately apparent as political.

Lumley (1980: 129) argues that Tronti's work is a 'new ideologism' and the emphasis on the primacy of struggle is 'a theoretical and political regression'. It is true that when read as a proposition of a dichotomous model of capital and struggle the reversal of perspective can prove highly problematic. However, in its richer sense as an engagement with lines of flight and an effort to draw out and maximize moments of struggle and invention, this is a conservative judgement. For Moulier (1989: 20), the reversal of perspective is 'an almost unbelievably simple level of explanation'. For him, however, this is not a problem. Once presented in its richer sense, the apparently naive simplicity of the reversal of perspective becomes not an assertion of an all-encompassing historical narrative, but a first premise that needs to be considered in its ramifications and proliferations in political composition. As Moulier (1989: 23) writes, 'it is futile to point to its reductionist character independently of its results, and what it enables us to understand'. The crucial test of the thesis resides, then, not so much in its meta-dimensions as a totalizing explanation of historical change, but in the way that it encourages hot investigation into, and active engagement with, the specificity and detail of forms of class composition and struggle. This was one of the great strengths of operaismo, with its detailed studies of the FIAT plants (cf. Wright 2002: Chs 2 and 8), with Gambino's (1976) study of Ford in Britain, and with its specific engagements with workers' struggle and new social desires and forms of politics. At the same time, as Wright has argued, such intensive analysis tended to be sacrificed at each moment of upswing in the struggle:

at each crucial stage of its development "” from the break with Panzieri, or the unexpected outcome of the Hot Autumn, to the Movement of '77 "” many of operaismo's exponents seemed prepared to sacrifice their previous commitment to the study of the problem of class composition for a chance 'to seize the moment'.

(Wright 2002: 225)

This tendency, that Wright describes as a certain 'political impatience', can be seen as arising directly our of the weak conception of the reversal of perspective, where the apparently autonomous nature of struggle induces, at each moment of its emergence, an uncritical affirmation.


Taken together, the principles of the refusal of work, class composition, and the reversal of perspective can be seen as the basis for a cramped and continuously engaged minor politics. If the refusal of work wards off any plenitude of 'the workers' - since work is always already capital, politics is necessarily a refusal of work and its subjects "” the reversal of perspective emphasizes the processes of political innovation and variation in any class composition. As these figures were developed in operaismo, the locus of their practice was still the mass worker of the large factories. Whilst the concept of the mass worker stretched beyond the walls of the factory, it is not until the development of autonomia and the 'socialized worker' that the potential of this politics to pervade the social factory really took off. At this point a third conceptual configuration emerges "” 'autovalorization'. Autovalorization, or 'self-valorization', is at once one of the more evocative and potentially useful conceptual developments of autonomia, and one of the least coherently defined. The ambiguity of the concept resides, as was the case with the reversal of perspective, in that it can tip either way as a complex, situated creativity in a minor fashion that develops in association with the refusal of work, or as an account of a coming to presence of a more 'autonomous' subject, as it tends to do in the later Negri.

The concept of autovalorization is closely associated with Negri, from his 1977 La forma stato (where he takes up Romano Alquati's use of the expression) up to his most recent work (cf. Wright 1988: 322). Alquati presents autovalorization in terms of 'the possibility that the working class can use the productive forces for valorizing itself against capital, as an antagonistic class. If an alternative use of highly developed productive forces is possible' (cited in Hardt and Negri 1994: 200). It is a question of opposing capitalist relations and processes of valorization through work, but with a composition that seeks to make use of the forces that are created in capitalism. In many ways the concept of autovalorization follows Panzieri's problematization of orthodox Marxist conceptions of the socialist assumption of already existing 'forces of production'. But it develops from Panzieri's critique in seeking to explore new and different forms of radical class composition with the forces of capitalist life (and hence 'forces' in Alquati's words should be read in a broad sense as 'potential' and, in Deleuze's terms, 'objective lines of flight', rather than as the 'forces of production' of orthodox Marxism). It is the play between forces actualized in capital, forces in and against capital, and forces 'independent' of capital that the concept of autovalorization seeks to comprehend. I will discuss this in two parts: the proliferation of differences and the problem of independence, and the relation between difference, needs, and the wage.

Difference and independence

Negri's most sustained accounts of autovalorization emerge in 'Domination and sabotage' (1979a) "” a text that sought to engage with the new forms of struggle and invention manifested in the Movement of '77 - and Marx beyond Marx (1991a). As Negri argues in 'Domination and sabotage', in so far as capitalism is a social mode of production, autovalorization is concerned with the totality of capitalist forces and relations. It is conceived by Negri as the site of the 'power' of working-class composition, and comprises two elements: the 'destructuration' of capital (essentially the practices of the refusal of work), and a movement toward 'independence' (1979a: 96). It is the question of 'independence' that needs elaborating. Negri (1979a: 97) presents 'proletarian self-valorisation as alternative to, and radically different from, the totality of the processes of capitalist production and reproduction'. He describes this 'alternative' site (which he calls an 'intensive condition' and a 'productive being'; 97"”8) with three methodological criteria. First, autovalorization presents an 'otherness' to the orthodox workers' movement, and, as such, it is an injunction to continual diversity and discontinuity in the forms and practices of what Karl Heinz Roth called the 'other workers' movement'. Second, following the reversal of perspective, the relationship to capitalist development is one of separateness, seen as a relation of destructuration and recomposition rather than linear development. Third, and as a direct consequence, the forms, practices, and languages of autovalorization are to be deliberately divergent from those of normative capitalist culture: 'there is no homology, no possible immediate translatability of languages, of logics, of signs, between the reality of the movement . . . and the overall framework of capitalist development, with its contents and objectives' (98"”9).

This definition of autovalorization has clear importance as a promotion of innovative and continuously varying political composition, and clearly reflects the diversity, variability, and productivity of the Movement of' 77 (a little of which is explored below). It does, however, also indicate some of the problems that develop in Negri's later work. Though the proletariat is presented as a process of innovation and discontinuity, and indeed as continually 'destructuring' capitalist relations, the content of activity appears to tend towards an 'independence' from capital as a liberated subjectivity where autovalorization becomes an affirmation of the independent ontology of the working class. In more recent work from Negri and this current, this independence takes two interrelated forms. At one level, autovalorization is presented as the site of the independent needs, desires, and cultures that were a prominent feature of the Movement of '77, such as pirate radio and squatted social centres for collective experiments in new forms of communal living and cultural creation. The definition of self-valorization in the glossary to Virno and Hardt (1996) conveys this rather clearly:

[S]elf-valorization . . . refers to an alternative social structure of value that is founded not on the production of surplus value but on the collective needs and desires of the producing community. In Italy, this concept has been deployed to describe the practices of local and community-based forms of social organization and welfare that are relatively independent of capitalist relations of production and state control.

(Virno and Hardt 1996: 264)

At another level, as Hardt and Negri propose in Labor of Dionysus and Empire, autovalorization is linked to the argument (considered in Chapter 4) that social labour tends toward productive autonomy such that work becomes an increasingly independent and self-directed form:

The new era of the organization of capitalist production and reproduction of society is dominated by the emergence of the laboring subjectivity that claims its mass autonomy, its own independent capacity of collective valorization, that is, its self-valorization with respect to capital.

(Hardt and Negri 1994: 280)

Autovalorization, that is, is presented either as experiments in marginal living relatively outside of capitalist relations in, as Virno (1980: 113) critiques aspects of the movement, a kind of 'pure socialization' (and as such it echoes councilist self-management), or as the basis of the new regime of biopolitical and affective production. We can perhaps see the movement from the former to the latter as reflecting the problem that arises when increasing areas of countercultural invention become subsumed in capitalist regimes of production. Realizing the increased difficulty of an autonomous culture of the margins - as state oppression of autonomia induced a self-defeating increasingly militarized defence of marginal spaces "” it is as if Negri flips over to see the social itself- the counterculture subsumed - as the site of autonomous creativity. There are, however, other ways to read autovalorization in a more minor fashion, where Negri's Marx beyond Marx is more useful.

Difference, needs, and the wage

To move away from thinking autovalorization as the self-affirmation of an autonomous subject we can situate it in the context of Marx's understanding of 'valorization' and 'needs'. In Marx, valorization is the process whereby surplus labour is produced in work, and actualized in circulation as surplus value. It is a term that applies both to the specific production and actualization of surplus value, and the whole capitalist social milieu that supports this. Central to the process of valorization is the category of 'needs'. Workers work in order to gain a monetary wage that they exchange in consumption to meet their needs. In general, the process leaves the workers with enough wage to meet their 'necessary labour' "” their current form of being, or historically accumulated needs. For Marx, needs are necessarily variable over time and place. This is his fundamental proposition about the nature of human composition. At a basic level, capitalism is only an expression (albeit at a rather exponential rate) of what Marx saw as the ratchet system of human composition around an expansion of needs in a conception of the human - against any essentialist understanding "” as an expansive assemblage operating in productive interrelation with Nature: a conception that Marx (1976: 285) proposes 'in spite of the Bible'.25 In this formulation, 'values' (ethics, lifestyles, desires, competences, and so on) are as central to the production and control of the human as the apparently more structural forms of 'work', for needs are to be met through capitalist practices, ways of being, or ethics, alone. That is, valorization occurs only in so far as needs are formed and met in terms of capitalist identities, commodities, and money (working for a wage, maximizing capacities to increase a wage, the equation of desire with consumption), since needs are only to be met indirectly (through consumption following the sale of one's labour for money).

Because needs, then, are the 'form of life' and are intimately enmeshed in capitalist relations and values, they are a crucial site of politics. The politics of autovalorization thus extends beyond a delimited space of work to cover the whole plane of socialization. But rather than thinking of autonomous, independent needs outside of capital, we can think of autovalorization operating in the machinic environments of capitalism "” across the multiplicity of sites of the production of 'machinic surplus value' "” at the meeting points of the expansion of needs and their axiomatization. Autovalorization can, then, be seen as a process of the proliferation of the former and the disruption of the latter. There was much talk in the '70s of affirming and expanding the particular needs, values, and styles of the various elements and minorities of the class composition. Whilst aspects of these practices and needs were concerned with cleaving off autonomous spaces for self-production relatively independent from direct capitalist relations (such as in self-managed squatted social centres), they were also concerned with strengthening the collection of needs of the class as a whole. Since, in the community of capitalism, money is the means to satisfy needs, the proliferation of needs and values was also part of a politics of the wage. Rather than autovalorization being an arrangement of difference, invention, and autonomy from capital (either in terms of counterculture or biopolitical production), it can instead be seen as one of difference, invention, and the maximization of the wage.

At first sight this might seem to be problematic, since, as I argued in Chapter 4, the valuation of activity in terms of the general equivalent of money is the means for the capitalist axiomatization - or moulding and controlling - of life. However, for Negri (1991a) "” building on his analysis of Marx's projected volume of Capital on the wage "” money is a political site, which, whilst expressing the essence of capitalist axiomatization, is simultaneously a site of subversion. In seeking to have the proliferation of needs met by a wage, autovalorization can be seen as part of a demand and set of practices "” as was central to operaismo and the mass worker "” for 'more pay and less work' and 'we want everything' in a kind of 'reclamation' of surplus value against any mechanism which sought to tie the wage to productivity and capitalist ethics. If the mass worker fought on the terrain of the wage (according to Bifo (1980: 150) in 1969 alone, wage rises increased labour costs by more than 20 per cent), and extended this beyond the factory walls to cover the costs of transportation, housing, and so on, as the socialized worker thesis developed to consider the productivity of the social whole, the 'wage' would be expanded to encompass a 'social wage'. Negri reads Marx's assertion that, with the development of abstract labour and social capital, the workers' movement comes to demand a proportion of total profit, rather than an individual wage (Negri 1988c: 114-15; Marx 1973a: 597), as an argument for the extension of wage demands not merely within the 'working day', but over the entire 'lifespan' (Negri 1988b: 219). The politics of the wage (as I consider below) thus extended to include sectors previously excluded from wage payment, and social services and consumption. This became particularly important since it was on the terrain of the social wage that capital was seeking to recoup the gains of the mass worker through austerity packages and inflation (Negri 1979b).26

If we draw together the aspects of autovalorization developed in 'Domination and sabotage' "” the compulsion to political innovation and the variation and expansion of needs and political styles "” with the emphasis on the expansion of the social wage, autovalorization can be seen as a proletarian minor practice. It is a kind of bordering which connects the 'little intrigues' of the various minorities of the class composition to the social whole (for it is through money and the wage that the social axiomatic operates as a metastable whole). It is concerned with developing new needs and styles that emerge through the particular experiences of minorities (what Guattari (1995b: 55) calls new 'universes of value'). It situates these not as 'independent' or 'real' needs, but as immanent to the capitalist socius (as they emerge from the machinic processes of the social factory and seek to be supported by a wage). And it seeks to deterritorialize the axioms of identity upon which capitalist valorization is premised (not least by breaking the link between productivity and the wage, and seeking a wage for a wealth of 'non-work' practices). Anything which attempts to settle this expansion of needs and styles in equivalence is to be rejected, and hence autovalorization can be conceived as a site of the continual problematization of received subjectivity, of coherent languages, or normative values and ethics, and as producing, not an independent subjectivity, bar a form of practice. The expansive and continuous nature of this project is well expressed in 'Lia's' complication of the mass workers' formula 'we want everything': 'I do not refuse anything, I want everything. But 1 do not want what exists already' (in Magale 1980: 140). It is put on firmer conceptual ground by Virno when he describes the development of the Movement of 77 as a practice of disrupting the identities and equivalence of work and value, not with a new identity, but with a qualitative and varied 'doing':

The practices and the languages adopted by the Movement seem to suggest an alternate type of socialization, different than that based on the exchange of equivalent values . . . What counts is the qualitative consistency, profoundly varied, of their 'doing'. To understand this proliferation of the concrete and the different within socialized labor requires a constellation of materialistic concepts which are totally detached from that universality characteristic of the 'general equivalent' and which are not used as the bases or synthesizing elements for the actual processes of liberation.

(Virno 1980: 112)

Margins at the centre

If, as Tronti (1973: 115"”16) argued, the social factory and the politics of hegemony created a plane of the people shorn of the antagonistic tensions of workers' struggle, then politics - to use Deleuze's terms "” was necessarily to emerge in the cramped spaces of minorities who refused this model. And, indeed, 'minority' formations were central in the development of autonomia; Guattari's (1980b) characterization of autonomia as a 'proliferation of margins' is apt. One can think of minorities in autonomia as sites for the problemat-ization and politicization of aspects of the class composition within the social factory: as sites where particular forms of the refusal of work, of political and cultural invention, and of autovalorization emerge. An emphasis on minorities takes us away from thinking of the socialized worker as a unified and coherent class, and presents it "” along the lines of the proletarian unnamable "” as a complex field of engagement and practice existing in the midst of socialized labour. Crucial to this understanding of minorities and socialized labour is an understanding of their interaction. Inasmuch as minorities operate within a class composition, they form inclusive disjunctions, both through their complexity of social relations, and through processes of interrogation, intrigue, and engagement across the milieu. The rest of this chapter explores three aspects of minority inclusive disjunction in autonomia. In each section the emphasis is placed on a particular site and mode of engagement arising out of a minority concern, and the way these problematizations were interrelated through the common project of the refusal of work. First I consider the general problematic of the emarginati and the way counterculture emerged in conjunction with an understanding of diffuse labour and the refusal of work. Then I consider the place of the social wage in the Wages for Housework campaign and 'autoreduction', and last I look at the particular site of cultural creation, language, and the alternate use of technical forms among the Metropolitan Indians and in Radio Alice. Before this, however, it is useful to contextualize autonomia's minorities with a sketch of the place of Southern migrant minorities in the configuration of the mass worker and the culture of the refusal of work. The Southern migrant worker in the industrial Northern 'factory-cities' was of central importance to the struggles in the 1960s and the emergence of operaismo. The migrant workers, who had a huge presence in the Northern factories, were said to be 'squeezed like a lemon in the factory and marginalized in the city' (Lumley 1990: 210).27 Without the networks and cultural security of the established Northern working class, migrant workers had traditionally acted as a brake on union pressures (Bifo 1980: 150), but in the struggles of the 1969 Hot Autumn they played a central role. The Italian factory had maintained a strong disciplinary coherence since the Second World War,28 and the 'dignity of labour' had been strongly embedded in PCI ethics.29 The traditional PCI party and union structures, however, had little influence in the immigrant ghettos, and had little understanding of the broader concerns of immigrant workers - concerns that extended beyond the workplace to questions of housing, discrimination, and welfare (Lumley 1990: 28). Further, as Partridge (1996) argues, the Southern workers brought with them a collective experience of struggle from their peasant milieu that was unconditioned by PCI models. Partridge (1996) argues that Southern peasant forms of organization and struggle embodied a striking extra-parliamentary and extra-legalistic aspect. When they brought these experiences to the Northern industrial plants - and it is estimated that 60 to 70 per cent of new workers at FIAT Mirafiori in the 1960s had direct experience of Southern struggles (Partridge 1996: 81) - their values and practices presented a number of innovative features chat were to become central to the new forms of struggle. Indeed, the early break with union structures marked by the expression 'autonomy at the base', was coined by these workers. Partridge summarizes the migrants' political concerns as favouring

a new disregard for the legal and disciplined practices of modern trade unionism, a deep suspicion of hierarchy manifested through a decentralisation of bargaining and preference for delegation over representation, an egalitarian trend in wage negotiations that loosened the supposed connections between skill and wage and undermined the factory hierarchy, and an extension of the struggles from the factory to the city.

(Partridge 1996: 85)

As these forms of struggle developed, the critique of the intensity of factory work took on central importance. By the 1969 Hot Autumn the PCI model of the dignity of labour was in trouble, as was evident in the graffiti running along the external walls of the FIAT Mirafiori plant: 'The only music the bosses can hear is the sound of shut-down machinery', and 'We want the sun in Turin too' (Partridge n.d.a: 1). The struggles of the mass worker can be seen as an intensification of the relations of work that matched the intricacies of Taylorist production with techniques of refusal. Under a general demand of 'we want everything'30 the refusal of work was characterized by high levels of absenteeism, wildcat strikes, 'internal marches', sabotage, demands for pay equalization and pay increases regardless of productivity, and the abolition of differential grading (cf. Bologna 1980b; Negri 1988b). The strikes of this period were not formal, union-run events, but spontaneous wildcats within the factories and during the production process. Each strike manifested itself differently according to the particular forms of production, skill, and local experience, and rook different names: hiccups, snakes, chains, chequer-boards (cf. Big Flame 1971; Lumley 1990: 227"”8). Snakes were processions or marches around the factory, growing in number as each work-station joined in. In chequer-boards the factory was divided up into sections which would take it in turns to stop work, sometimes organized by work-station, or shift, or by sections of the alphabet corresponding to workers' names.31 At the same time, leaflets were put up on the walls of the factory, and thousands of leaflets, often produced twice daily, were distributed inside the factories and at the gates (cf. Red Notes 1978: 183"”91). The factories' resources were also used; as Viale (cited in Lumley 1990: 222) reports, 'in many factories they are using the foremen's telephones to communicate and organize struggles'.

The emarginati and counterculture

By the time of the Movement of '77, the problematic of 'minorities' and the refusal of work developed through a new figure "” the emarginati. The emarginati were all those active in the Movement of '77 who did not conform to the conventional model of the mass worker. A partial list would include proletarian youth, cultural workers, off-the-books and precarious workers, students, sexual minorities, temporary workers, houseworkers, feminists, the unemployed, service workers, and young workers of the small factories.32 The figure of the emarginati is closely related to Negri's socialized worker, and to the concern amongst other theorists of the movement such as Bologna and Alquati to analyse the new sectors of technical and intellectual labour and their techniques of refusal (cf. Wright 2002: 163). At the same time, the emarginati marked the emergence of countercultural styles and concerns into the terrain of class composition. It is the intersection and co-functioning of these elements and concerns that I want to explore here.

In the 1970s the refusal of work by the mass worker developed into a widespread disaffection with work across the board. Hilary Partridge (n.d.a: 1) suggests that by the late 1970s there was a popular consensus that 'the "honest worker" has been transformed into long-haired beatniks making love in empty car-bodies and displaying complete contempt for work, for the trade unions, and for the Party'. And the young workers said something similar: 'we young ones go into the factory . . . with a different kind of experience, a less serious way of seeing things; a bit of the outside world comes into the factory with us'. 'Look at me, look at me well: My gym-shoes mean discotheque, my shirt says "extremist", I've got the hair of a pop-singer, and an ear-ring like a homosexual. Nothing about me says "worker"!' (cited in Partridge n.d.b: 4). One account of relations with the foremen from a young worker at FIAT Mirafiori captures the sense of the 'ungovernable factory' well:

On the line there are people who can quote Foucault (a psychologist)33 and the creeps explode with rage because they haven't even heard of him. Then there are the gays. They blow kisses and write 'Long Live Renato Zero' (a pop singer) on the walls. Others roll a joint and laugh like they're crazy-high. The feminists too, giggle every time a man tries to give them orders. The FIAT foremen have never seen the workers laughing, and they get really angry.

(cited in Partridge n.d.a: 4)

It is against this background of the disaffection with work that the emergence of the emarginati needs to be understood. The nature of the 'marginality' of the emarginati is complex, as it relates to questions of political marginalization, counterculture, and economic productivity. The term was used in part because "” in an amalgam of ridicule, condemnation, and excision "” a normative conception of 'the marginal' was employed by dominant political and cultural groups to split the new active sectors from 'the workers' (cf. Massumi 1987; Morris 1978). Collective A/traverso describe the process thus:

This new repressive alliance, with its tentacles spreading out in all directions, is trying by every means it can to keep the economic and political struggles of the workers separate from all possible faces of autonomy. Its aim is to get the work of controlling and subjugating the masses done by the masses themselves, and to ensure that a majority conservative consensus is established among them against all the minorities of every kind "” though in fact all those minorities together would add up to far more than any such majority!

(in Guattari 1984: 240)

Operating very much as the avant-garde of this procedure, the PCI characterized the emarginati in lumpenproletarian terms as 'parasitical strata' (cf. Red Notes 1978: 47). The PCI journal Vie Nuove wrote of those involved in the '77 Bologna occupations that they were 'just common delinquents, organised Fascists, and misled youth' (cited in Red Notes 1978: 7), and after the Rome university occupation of February '77 a PCI sociology lecturer is reported to have said that 'there weren't any real students in there, only hippies, queers and people from the slum-districts' (in Red Notes 1978: 54). The most famous of these attempts at naming the disease of the emarginati was made by the PCI's general secretary Enrico Berlinguer, who said 'It won't be a few plague-bearers [untorelli] who will uproot Bologna' (cited in Morris 1978: 67)34

The emarginati did not, however, affirm a lumpenproletarian status. They did not, that is, present their critique of work as an autonomous space of non-work outside of capitalist relations of production. Indeed, a number of the theorists of the movement proposed that the emarginati embodied a productive centrality. Sergio Bologna (1980b), for example, sought firmly to situate the movement amongst the diffuse workers that emerged with the 1970s restructuring and break-up of the large factories, and the workers of the service sector. Following the logic of the social factory thesis, Bologna (1980b: 54) argued that Italy was experiencing an 'infinite decentralization of production' that allowed a profoundly 'mixed' labour force to become enmeshed in the wage relation. In making this case, Bologna at times seems to exclude the countercultural elements, arguing in another essay that the refusal of work had broken from a relation to the working class as it became a question of 'individual subjectivity "” everything from absenteeism to the liberation of personal desires, from the worker who comes out as gay, to the worker who sits and smokes dope' (Bologna 1978: 121). This assessment appears to have come from a certain sense of 'defeat' in the later ears of autonomia "” and no doubt there was some truth in it.35 This demarcation should not, however, be seen as an essential characteristic of the emarginati, for the diffuse workers and those that raised these questions of 'individual subjectivity' did not fall into distinct groupings, but were often enmeshed in each other. Indeed, a central characteristic of the emarginati was the combinatorial or inclusive disjunctive interrelation of its elements. One can consider the university student as a case in point. The combination of the liberalization of access to the universities since 1969 and the '150-Hours' scheme of workers' paid study-leave from 1972 (which may well have been intended to encourage social integration through upward social mobility; Bologna 1980b: 39) produced a university composition that was no longer a privileged stratum (Bologna 1978: 98), but more one of what Bologna (1978, 1980b) calls 'worker-students'.36 Thus, the 1977 Rome and Bologna university occupations included all sorts of different proletarianized social groups (including many who had been politicized in the factory and high school movements), not so much because 'outside elements' infiltrated the university, but because of the complex relations of the 'students' themselves. One account describes the 'strange figure' of the student thus:

There is a dense network of connections and overlaps between the students' movement and sectors of the proletariat . . . the 'strange' figure of the student crops up in the disputes involving door-to-door booksellers, squats of empty property, and in the shape of the unemployed intellectuals going to the labour exchange . . . s/he appears equally as the 'strange' worker with the diploma, or the organized unemployed, who study in the 150-Hours Scheme, or go to evening classes.

(Manconi and Sinibaldi, cited in Lumley 1990: 299)

Thus, whilst many of those active in the Movement of '77 sought to compose ways of life outside of work altogether, or with a minimum of necessary work, opting for temporary, flexible, impermanent, and non-guaranteed work (such that Bifo (1980: 155) wrote of a 'self-declared marginal living'), the refusal of work, even as it became a countercultural question, was rarely seen as independent from the questions of work and income. Even those who withdrew from work, inasmuch as they were part of a movement, cannot be unproblem-atically seen as opting out of capitalist relations.37 Thus, rather than seeing the emarginati operating, as one might conventionally characterize such groupings, as a 'youth movement' or a distinct 'counterculture', they preferred to see themselves as 'young proletarians' (Lumley 1990: 299). Bologna (1980b: 55) himself made this case when he argued that the questions of 'personal life', 'new needs', and 'youth culture' were not the prerogatives of 'an American-style "movement" - ghettoised and self-sufficient' but were part of a generalized working-class composition which drew on the history of the mass workers' demand 'we want everything', and reflected a certain 'homogeneity, not a separation, between the behaviour of the young people, the women and the workers'. The expression 'emarginati' thus continued to be useful for elements of the movement as a means of drawing relations between class politics and counterculture. That is, the term emarginati "” even untorelli "” enabled both discussion of the political practices of diffuse workers (those who were no longer amassed in the factories, but were constituted in marginal, diffuse ways across the plane of the social factory), and marginal, minority, or countercultural questions within the framework of productive relations and class composition.38 If the political and structural position of the emarginati could be characterized with the expression 'margins at the centre' "” the centre of production and of politics (cf. Alliez 1980: 118) - this is not, then, because they were simply the new exclusive site of politics and production, but because they (and their sometimes rather 'marginal' countercultural practices) raised and developed a series of political questions, techniques, styles, and knowledges across the plane of the social factory in a complexification of class composition. It was, arguably, precisely this emergence of a counterculture in conjunction with, rather than in negation of, a proletarian politics "” and this in the midst of the social relations of an emerging regime of diffuse production "” that made the political stakes of the emarginati and autonomia, for the movement and for the state, so high. Making this case, Virno has argued that 'Post-Fordism in Italy was given its baptism by the so-called movement of 77'.

In those struggles, a working population characterized by its mobility, low job security, and high student participation, and animated by a hatred for the 'ethic of work', frontally attacked the tradition and culture of the historic Left and marked a clean break with respect to the assembly line worker.

(Virno 1996c: 243)

If Virno is right, the political battle lines were drawn, then, around the possibility of turning the breakdown of the terrain of the mass worker into a movement of the abolition of work, or into a new regime of decentralized, flexible production. The 'masterpiece' of the Italian 'counter-revolution', as Virno argues -- and this was only possible through the dominant culture's marginalization, condemnation, and political suppression of autonomia - was in

transform[ing] these collective tendencies, which in the movement of '77 were manifested as intransigent antagonism, into professional prerequisites, ingredients of the production of surplus value, and leavening for a new cycle of capitalist development. The Italian neoliberalism of the 1980s was a sort of inverted 1977.39

(Virno 1996c: 243)

Wages for Housework and autoreduction

Perhaps precisely because of its problematic relationship to the extra-parliamentary left (not least because of the prevalent Catholic morality of Italian culture), the feminist movement was strongly influential in the development of autonomia. Its importance, as women broke from being the 'girl-friends of the militants' and 'Florence Nightingales of the duplicator' (Red Notes 1978: 114), is marked by Negri et al. in their balance-sheet of the movement written in prison in 1983:

The feminist movement, with its practices of communalism and separatism, its critique of politics and the social articulations of power, its deep distrust of any form of 'general representation' of needs and desires, its love of differences, must be seen as the clearest archetypal form of this new [post-1974] phase of the movement.

(Negri et al. 1988: 236)

It was the very cramped, problematic, and varied situation of women in the social factory (expressed well by the decision of the Roman collectives, during a discussion of the 'many types of woman's time' to place a score by Schöenberg on the cover of their magazine Differences40) that brought in many of the novel aspects of autonomia. Whilst operaismo theorized the social factory and engaged in the movement away from factoryist models, the centrality of wage workers still predominated. It was the feminist movement which brought to centrality the question of the non-waged, the critique of the ethical form of 'the militant' as the separation of politics and life, and the politiciz-ation of needs (cf. Bologna 1980b: 49). After the feminist intervention it became less easy to subsume the political within the frameworks of 'workers' centrality', and to prioritize the factory, or even paid work at all, over unpaid, socialized work, and activity in the sphere of 'reproduction'. (It also becomes difficult to periodize 'socialized' labour in a simple fashion, as the factory is revealed to have never been the exclusive site of the production of value.) As one feminist put it in the late 1970s:

we have fought to establish the fact that our daily life is political "” we are autonomous political agents. We have challenged the holy myth of the 'centrality' of the industrial working class. We have stressed that social life has a primary political importance, especially as far as women are concerned, as part and parcel of the new restructuring of Italian capitalism along the lines of the 'diffused factory'.

(in Red Notes 1978: 114)

A central aspect of the feminist elements of autonomia was the Wages for Housework campaign.41 Wages for Housework is consistently misrepresented as a simple campaign for the wage. Gorz (1982: 40), as one example among many, uses this campaign as an example of a workerist politics that seeks not the abolition of work, but the translation of all activity into market relations, and as such sees it as the 'height of alienation'. The campaign, in fact, is a rather sophisticated engagement with the politics of particularity - the condition of women in the home, and the problematic status of the global unwaged generally (cf. James 1975) "” in conjunction with a class composition framework. As such, Wages for Housework is best conceived, as Federici (1982) argues, as wages against housework, and against work in general.

The foundational text for this perspective is Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Selma James's (1972) The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community. Dalla Costa and James develop an analysis of unwaged 'housework' as a historically structured practice that creates the subject of woman as 'housewife'. They argue that the division of the home and workplace, and the valorization of the latter via the wage, is the basis for the estrangement of women from socialized "” and, hence, political "” activity. Far from a 'natural' autonomous sphere, the housework economy and the family are integral to capitalist production, both in 'liberating' the labourer from the sphere of reproduction to sell his labour, and in reproducing that labour and capitalist relations generally "” in a process which, despite, or rather because of, the discourses of 'nature' is actually intimately socially structured and controlled (cf. also Fortunati 1995). By analysing women's subordination in housework as integral to capital (rather than an injustice or a decontextualized patriarchy independent of capital) this perspective enables an understanding of the way women are as equally exploited by, and as entwined within, capitalist relations as working men.42 Indeed, 'housework' is seen to be doubly subordinated, first by capital as work without a wage, and second, by the left itself which, because of the traditional emphasis on 'production' (taken as the conventional space of wage labour), excluded women as a 'non-productive' category from the realm of 'real' politics. The politics of the wage, then, is not a striving to raise all into full equality in exploitation (Dalla Costa and James 1972: 35), but to traverse the distinctions between the unwaged and the waged, and form a milieu that generalizes the refusal of work by including the wealth of 'women's work' -and, importantly, other forms of unwaged labour "” in the category of capitalist work. As Federici (1982: 221) puts it, wages for housework 'is the demand by which our nature ends and our struggle begins because just to want wages for housework means to refuse that work as the expression of our nature'. Simultaneously, because of the 'peculiar combination of physical, emotional and sexual services' that are involved in 'housework', all sorts of previously 'hidden' "” or cramped and marginal "” relations and questions concerning the nature and attributes of work and social production become politicized (Federici 1982: 220). This foregrounding of the complexities of housework was thus an important point of departure in autonomia for the consideration and politicization of a wealth of attributes that constitute the production of the social factory as a whole.43

If interpreted narrowly in terms of the demand for remuneration, the campaign raises a number of problems. For example, how exactly could a wage be calculated, given the lack of instruments for the measurement of the work day? How could a housework 'strike' overcome the necessary aspects of community support for struggle in other sectors of the class composition?

However, when seen in the broader context of a generalized refusal of work, such difficulties become less limitations than sites of productive problem-atization and politicization. In foregrounding the wage as the diffuse axiomatizing network that conjoins needs and control in the production of differentially structured social groups, Wages for Housework opened a space for other cramped minority groups to raise their own particularity and find a basis for community on the plane of the wage (bearing in mind that the wage, here, is the social wage). And, indeed, at least in the formulations of The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community, Wages for Housework presented its politics as a kind of inclusive disjunction with other minorities. Taking neither a distinct feminist, nor a distinct class position - 'Rejecting on the one hand class subordinated to feminism and on the other feminism subordinated to class' (Dalla Costa and James 1972: 9) -- Wages for Housework enabled the exploration of particularity without settling into a marginal identity ghettoized against other minority concerns. The Power of Women and the Subversion of the Community is thus littered with notes and comments about the nature of demands and practices as contextual and limited, representing perspectives and temporary points of struggle rather than distinct and timeless 'positions'. Dalla Costa and James (1972: 54) thus write: 'the demand for a wage for housework is only a basis, a perspective, from which to start . . . The practical, continuous translation of this perspective is the task the movement is facing in Italy and elsewhere.' This is not just an abstract position, but translates into specific strategic questions. Hence, the question of separatism is framed in terms of uncertainty as to 'how long these tendencies will continue to drive the movement forward and when they will turn into their opposite' (53), whilst the particular politics of child support, equal pay, and access to abortion services, are presented as necessarily embedded in broader feminist and class frameworks. Seen in this context, the struggle for the wage for housework is not as impossible a position as it might at first appear. And indeed, Caffentzis (1992) has argued that in the US the refusal of the naturalized space of reproduction functioned in accord with other aspects of struggle in the unwaged sector "” in the strange community of 'blackpowerlonghaireddope-smokingflagrantqueerhousewifelesbians' (230) "” to force an increase in social spending that played a central role in pushing the US Keynesian model of accumulation into crisis.

If the wage was to be expanded, the costs of consumption were to be reduced. This was particularly important at a time of mass austerity (cf. note 26). One innovative practical development here was the practice of 'autoreduction', or self-reduction. Autoreduction had its origins in the early 1970s in the practice in the large housing estates of collective reduction in the payment of rents, but it quickly spread to other areas of social consumption such as public transport and utilities. In 1974 when commuters between Pinerolo and Turin found that their bus fares had increased by 30 per cent, they refused to pay, and instead substituted their own fare-reduced tickets and forced a formal reduction (Ramirez 1975: 144; cf. also Cherki and Wieviorka 1980). This sparked a series of factory and community-based autoreduction committees which effectively instituted reduction on a wealth of utility bills "” in a practice that was often aided by workers in the state-controlled electricity corporation who refused to disconnect supply.44 As the Movement of 77 developed, this practice extended to include the realms of popular culture, with 'proletarian youth circles' and Metropolitan Indians refusing to pay at the cinema or expensive restaurants, and venturing on 'autonomous price-setting' (shoplifting) expeditions (cf. Bifo 1980: 154"”5).

The Metropolitan Indians and Radio Alice

The third aspect of minority invention in autonomia I want to consider is that of the specific countercultural and technical configurations of the Metropolitan Indians and Collective A/traverso and their Radio Alice. As I suggested at the start of this chapter, operaismo and autonomia performed something of a deterritorialization of political language. In the Metropolitan Indians and Radio Alice the deterritorialization of language is extended beyond orthodox Marxism into dominant cultural forms and the culture of the social movements themselves. Placing great stay in parody and irony (in conjunction with the political and economic concerns of the movement as a whole), the Metropolitan Indians painted their faces, went on collective 'autonomous price-setting' expeditions, parodied PCI demonstrations (by, for example, bowing down to the speakers and chanting such things as: 'We are hooligans and provocateurs. The only true communists are Lama and Cossiga'45), and called demonstrations where they did not appear, or where, instead of marching, they had open discussion and distributed contraband, drugs, and irreverent leaflets against the 'pale faces' of the PCI.46 But the Metropolitan Indians did this not to forge a new formalized identity. Torealta (1980) suggests that the mainstream media sought to focus on their painted faces as signs of a distinct identity, and so conceal their relations with the movement as a whole, or the 'transversal' nature of their practices. He argues that the painted faces tactic should not be seen as the mark of a coherent autonomous counterculture, but as 'an arbitrary characterization of a future people' who 'appropriates in an exhaustive way all possible terms and treats language as a science of imaginary solutions' (102). One can think of the Metropolitan Indians as a form of autovalorizarion which sought directly to engage with what Deleuze presents as the modulating 'dividuality' of the social factory and societies of control (cf. Chapter 4). Torealta argues that the condition of socialized work had disrupted clearly demarcated matrices of value such that the political subject of this process must do other than retreat to forms of equivalence and identity. He writes:

For a social subject . . . that is diffuse and forced into a relation with fluctuating and indeterminate wages (and the question of wages, by definition, is the general referent of all signs), the 'pangs of conscience'and discourses on 'political economy' are completely useless; one can not struggle against transience and dispersion with the blows of purpose and conscience.

Thus the social conditions of simulation and of the arbitrary come into being: there arises a social subject that is not reducible to one precise identity.

(Torealta 1980: 103)

Thus, following the 1977 Rome university occupation, Torealta (1980: 104) writes that 'from that day will gush rivers of speeches on the new needs of the youthful strata of the population; on that day hundreds of self-critical and remorseful discourses will be made, yet only the Metropolitan Indians will remain silent'. They would remain silent because, at least in Torealta's presentation, their manner was of provocation and creation, an exercise of difference that sought to open needs and possibilities, rather than settle on any in particular.

To give an example, when Luciano Lama (secretary of the General Confederation of Workers) entered the occupied Rome campus, spearheading the PCI call 'to defend the University which is occupied by fascists', he entered a space daubed with graffiti warning that capitalists and revisionists would be 'buried by a burst of laughter' signed by Godere Operaio and Godimento Studentesco ('Workers' Joy' and 'Students' Enjoyment' - puns on the formal workers' organizations) (in Red Notes 1978: 52). In the courtyard where Lama was to speak there was another platform with a replica dummy of himself, complete with a Valentine's heart and the words 'Nessuno L'Ama' ('Lama nobody', or 'Nobody loves him'). As Lama began to speak a crowd of Metropolitan Indians took to chanting 'Sacrifices, sacrifices, we want sacrifices!', 'Build us more churches and fewer houses', and 'We demand to work harder and earn less!' (53). This event characteristically descended into a riot, but it offered no programme or even direct assault on the speaker, at least not at first, and no one took the podium. Rather, it was an event intended to undermine the regime of negotiation ('leave now and we shall see what can be done for your situation') by utilizing and returning the expressions of austerity and work that were deployed against the emarginati.

The second of the more prominent countercultural groups - and one of the most interesting compositions of autonomia creativa - was Collective A/traverso and their Radio Alice. A/traverso was a configuration of operaist and autonomist understandings of general intellect and qualitative work (a number of those who ran Radio Alice had been in Potere Operaio; cf. Collectif A/traverso 1977: 104"”9), dadaist approaches to language, the historical avant-garde project of breaking the separation of art and everyday life, and US pop and counterculture. In A/traverso's more theoretical texts, Marx's general intellect thesis is rehearsed to explore a 'techno-scientific' intellectual labour that is enmeshed in capitalist relations through the simplification, mathematicization, and codification of language (Collectif A/traverso 1977: 104). But unlike Negri's more recent tendencies towards Habermassian communicative action, A/traverso considered general intellect and language to be fully implicated in the general relations of capitalist identity and equivalence:

The system of production which is based upon the reduction of all aspects of human life to abstract work, exchangeable against wages, could not separate itself from the logic of language. Human language had to be reduced by capitalism to a simple instrument of production, and thus first codified, confined within the canons of comprehensibility, and it therefore had to root out all contradiction, and "” given that contradiction lay in the existence of the subject/class - root out the subject.

(Collectif A/traverso 1977: 109"”10; my translation)

Building on an already developed form of political slang known as sinistresse (cf. Lumley 1990: 90), A/traverso explored dadaist nonsense to disrupt conventional modes of political expression, whilst they sought to locate this practice in the terrain of the movement and the socialized worker rather than in literature or art. They called this practice 'mao-dadaism' (Collectif A/ traverso 1977: 115), and Morris (1978), following Macciocchi (1978), describes it as a 'semiological delinquency'.47 The refusal of work was central to the project, and in a sense was the connective, or what Collective A/traverso, following Guattari, called the 'transversal' link across the various aspects of their practice:

The guerrilla war of information, the organized disruption of the circulation of news, the break in the relationship between broadcasting and the making known of facts ... is to be found within the general struggle against the organization and domination of work.

The interruption and subversion of the fluxes of production and the transmission of the signs given by authority represent a field of direct action.48

(Collective A/traverso, in Guattari 1984: 236"”7)

A/traverso's project was most effectively developed in their Radio Alice, one of the more prominent of the free radios that proliferated after the deregulation of broadcasting in 1976 (cf. Downing 1980).49 As well as 'mao-dadaism', Radio Alice also used the composite 'Guattareuze' to characterize their practice (Collectif A/traverso 1977: 71). Indeed, as Umberto Eco (1977a) made much of, the name Alice was taken from Deleuze's (1990) discussion of Through the Looking Glass.50 Following Deleuze (1990), Radio Alice's adventures sought to open up not an 'underground' as such, but a world of surfaces, nonsense, and events. With the 'circles of proletarian youth' as its particular focus,51 Radio Alice sought to open the cramped spaces of home, work, the family, sexism, and individualizing relationships, to make language intensive, 'unproductive', tactile, and 'political', and to draw out, as they put it, the 'unstated' and the 'uncanny' (Collective A/traverso 1980: 133).52 Alice's transmission was a complex of music (the broadcast transcript in Collectif A/ traverso (1977) includes Frank Zappa, the Rolling Stones, Don Cherry, Bob Dylan, Monteverdi, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and the Beatles), discussion programmes, phone-ins, and poetry: 'Stop the blackmail of poverty. Value of desire "” value in use "” labour value. Working-class aristocracy and Lumpenproletariat . . . What poverty? What work? Time must be reappropriated. It is our right to forget what time it is' (Collective A/traverso, in Guattari 1984: 237). But Radio Alice's Guattareuze was not limited to language and radio content within the framework of the conventional broadcast. Influenced as they were by Brecht's (1993) theories of radio's socialist potential, Radio Alice was specifically concerned with developing the productive potential of relations between producer and audience that they saw as curtailed by the dominant arrangement of radio technology. As such, Radio Alice presented the technology of the radio as a point within a broad milieu of interaction and communication. As Guattari (1996a: 75), writing about Alice, put it: 'radio constitutes but one central element of a whole range of communication means, from informal encounters in the Piazza Maggiore to the daily newspaper "” via billboards, mural paintings, posters, leaflets, meetings, community activities, festivals etc.'53

The kind of machinic communication and actualization of collectivities developed by Radio Alice presented a very different model of organization to the more centralized forms of autonomia operaio and the emerging clandestine bands and, as such, Moulier (1989: 42) has argued that it 'profoundly modified the terms of debate about organization and brought down one of the main arguments in favour of centralization'.54 It is a mode of organization that is clearly evident in Alice's involvement in the Bologna '77 Spring. Opening its airwaves to telephone-booth callers in the midst of demonstrations and occupations, Radio Alice enabled an ongoing communication and coordination of the events by those involved themselves, as they reported on the action, relayed the positions of the police and activists, and suggested possible actions and points of the city to avoid. This was a common structural feature of the free radios that Eco (1994) described as the mode of 'token reporter' where calls from public telephone booths were immediately relayed on air without mediation. A/traverso saw this as breaking down the 'crossword' approach of conventional phone-ins, based as they are on limited and structured responses (Downing 1980: 207). In Alice's case, such arrangements were the pretext for its closure by armed police, under the charge of 'military coordination'. The closure itself was transmitted live with hidden microphones, and makes an unusual read, with the last words broadcast: 'Police: Hands up there! B: We've got our hands up. They're telling us that this is a "hive of subversive activity'" (Red Notes 1978: 33).55 Albertani (1981: n.p.) reports - and it makes a nice image - that some members of the collective escaped over the roof-tops and continued broadcasting from a car driving through the Bologna streets.


This chapter has considered some of the modes and styles of the minor composition of operaismo and autonomia. I have argued that, for operaismo and autonomia, work was the central site of what was an apparently stripped-down politics. Following the social factory thesis, workers were conceptualized as a generalized plane of socialized labour. This gives 'mass', then 'socialized' workers productive centrality, as a wealth of attributes and practices become subsumed in capitalist regimes of production and valorization. However, it does not give them a political identity, for, as Tronti argued, the identities formed within work are capitalist 'worker' identities. I have thus presented a series of operaismo's 'cramping' manoeuvres which served to ward off the identities of work and compelled political composition: the 'refusal of work', 'class composition', and the 'reversal of perspective'. The political project that followed these configurations resided in forms of collective composition that disrupted work and the subject of worker, and, with the development of autonomia, practices of 'autovalorization'.

Autovalorization was presented as a process of expanding and changing 'needs' (as forms and styles of life) in the class composition, against any naturalization of needs determined by austerity measures or essentialist understandings of the human. In this expansion of needs, autovalorization was also a mechanism for warding off tendencies to identity in autonomia itself, for every minority of the movement "” inasmuch as they conceived themselves as part of the class composition "” was to assert and develop its particular needs, desires, and new forms of practice, and distribute these across the movement through engagement, contestation, alliance, and struggle. But autovalorization was also linked to the question of the social wage. It was through the social wage that autovalorization connected what we could call, following the framework of minor politics, the 'little intrigues' of autonomia to the social whole. The social wage became the site of a certain 'reclamation of surplus value', and required a continual process of struggle for a wage de-linked from work done, following the mass workers' struggle for more pay and less work. In practice, political innovation and the struggle to increase the social wage tended to be simultaneous, as was seen in the practices of 'autonomous price-setting' and 'autoreduction'.

With the emergence of the Movement of 77 the project of composition circulated around the figure of the emarginati. These 'marginals' "” just like the houseworkers theorized by Wages for Housework "” were not 'outside' of capitalist relations; they were central to the productivity of the social factory. They also tended to a composite, inclusive disjunctive form where each 'particular' minority concern elaborated its own needs and points of struggle in conjunction with other minority concerns with which it was interlaced. In their practices of the refusal of work and autovalorization I have argued that there was a tendency toward the enfolding and distribution of various identities, needs, and cultures across the plane of the movement, in a politics which sought not an independent outside, but an expansion and deterritorialization of collective composition within the social factory.

In discussing the techniques and modes of composition of operaismo and autonomia and the specific cases of minority composition, the chapter has focused on the techniques that induced a refusal of any subjective plenitude, and encouraged particular minority engagement. As I have pointed out, this approach was always in tension with a tendency in operaismo and autonomia to an over-generalization and a simplified assertion of an emerging autonomous collectivity, in, as Wright (2002: 224) puts it, a 'penchant for all-embracing categories that, in seeking to explain everything, too often would clarify little'. Wright (2002: 224) suggests that the most damaging aspect of this tendency was the theory of the socialized worker "” a category which alongside auto-valorization, as he cites Battaggia, 'was a very elegant instrument for synthesizing a plurality of social behaviours, but which, precisely for its excessive synthetic aspect, flattened them, negating their specificity'. This is an important point, and since the socialized worker has, in different ways, been the concern of Chapters 4 and 5, I want to engage a little with this critique.

As I argued in Chapter 4, it is indeed true that in the way the socialized worker is developed in Negri "” as it extends problematic aspects of the reversal of perspective and class composition "” one can detect a synthesis that tends to flatten the specificity and complexity of class composition in favour of an overly generalized plane of production and theory of the multitude. The real problem here is not the lack of detailed exploration of the specific contours and experience of the socialized worker and multitude as such "” and Hardt and Negri have been happy to admit that in Empire the multitude is not yet fully elaborated and exists in the text in a rather poetic and unfleshed-out fashion (cf. Hardt et al. 2002: 185). It is, rather, that the way the socialized worker is seen to compose itself autonomously from regimes of control arises from a problematic foundational conception of the ontology of globalized and metastable production. It is not enough to say that the multitude is not a stable collective whole but an open multiplicity (cf. Hardt and Negri 2000: 103) when it is also seen as a collective field of autonomy from capitalist relations. For the latter proposition leaves the open multiplicity without concrete points for engagement, struggle and composition. This becomes most apparent when Negri returns to consider the contemporary viability of the refusal of work. Whilst in his earlier work he proposed that 'The only essence of labour which approximates to the concreteness of capital is the refusal of work' (1988b: 226; cf. also the citation at the start of this chapter), he now argues that, in the context of biopolitical production, this political model is redundant:

There is no longer the possibility of classic sabotage, or of a Luddite refusal, because we are right inside it. Nowadays workers carry their instruments of labour inside their own heads "” so how is one to refuse work, or sabotage work? Should one commit suicide? Work is our dignity. The refusal of work was imaginable in a Fordist society, but today it becomes increasingly less thinkable. There is the refusal of command over work, but that is quite another thing.56

(Negri n.d.: n.p.)

Negri's development of the socialized worker does not mean, however, that the socialized worker is an unhelpful political figure. If in Chapter 4 I argued that the plane of the socialized worker could be seen as a set of relations, or a mode of production immanent to capitalist processes of axiomatization and control, in this chapter I have sought to show that the politics of the socialized worker can be considered in a minor, proletarian manner. As such, the concept does not require a false synthesis, but, rather, necessitates engagement with the complexity of political configuration in specific circumstances. Inasmuch as this engagement "” at least in the case of operaismo and autonomia - draws in questions of needs, styles, the wage, alternative values, productivity outside the direct sphere of work, the creativity of struggle, the relation between counterculture and class, and the possibility for the deterritorialization of technical arrangements, it is, I would suggest, still a useful political figure. Operaismo and autonomia only offer one moment, one experimentation with the regimes of socialized work and emerging control societies. However, as one of the first moments of a proletarian politics of control, I would suggest that this current maintains a certain vitality to be critically explored from contemporary cramped spaces towards the development of political composition - perhaps, following Virno's (1996c: 243) characterization, even offering something of a 'future at our backs'.


1. The Movement of '77 was the high point of autonomia, characterized by the emergence and politicization of a wealth of marginal practices, feminist struggle, a strong critique of orthodoxy, countercultural experiments, and mass occupations, especially in Rome and Bologna in the spring. The Hot Autumn of '69 was the summit of the autonomous struggles of the students and the mass workers in the Northern factories. See Bifo (1980), Bologna (1980b), Lumley (1990), and Wright (2002) for histories of these movements.
2. The complexity of this formation is visually exemplified by a flow diagram that appeared in L'Espresso of the development of the extra-parliamentary left between 1968 and 1977. Tracing independent and intersecting lines for anarchists, Leninists, Trotskyists, situationists, and Bordighists, and their various journals and political groupings, the diagram resorts to the illustrative technique of an amorphous bubble to map the area of autonomia (in Red Notes 1979: 204"”5).
3. It should be noted that Moulier (1989: 21) suggests that this mode of engagement was not without its problems "” notably in the persistent use of Leninist vocabulary which, whilst certainly changed in meaning in the hands of operaismo, was something of a problematic feature of this current, particularly in its understanding of organization and armed struggle.
4. Though they also offer considerably more than the self-management thesis, the main figures here are Pannekoek, Gorter, and Rühle "” those who Lenin (1965) described as manifesting the 'infantile disorder' of left communism.
5. For this perspective see Barrot (1987), Camatte (1995), Dauvé and Martin (1997), and International Communist Current (1992). For critical overviews see Antagonism (2001) and Aufheben (1999).
6. As Antagonism (2001: 8) puts it: 'The council communists put faith in "the workers themselves" and tended to assume that communism was immanent in all workplace struggles.'
7. Dauvé ('Leninism and the Ultra-Left' in Dauvé and Martin 1997) argues that the ultra-left's assertion of the centrality of the 'workers themselves' (against the Leninist party) ultimately only affirms one subject of capitalist relations, 'the workers', against another, 'the capitalists', because it posits its critique on the terrain of 'management' rather than on production. Assertion and fear of the party (Leninism and ultra-leftism respectively) are thus false problems, and mirror images of each other, which overemphasize the 'form' of the communist movement against its 'content' which is the organic product of the capitalist mode of production itself (which was where Marx's few comments on the party as a product of the 'real movement' are located).
8. Such an interpretation of 'self-management' is amply evident in Katsiaficas's (1997) book on European 'autonomous movements', including autonomia, which argues that 'our natural tendencies to favour equality and love freedom' are enabled in a self-management (as against vanguard politics) that lets the 'I' speak forth (239). Though the movements that Katsiaficas discusses are primarily a product of large industrial and post-industrial cities (the very precondition of metropolitan squatting, for example), he wants to distil their essence (sometimes, it has to be said, with the aid of the pronouncements of some of these movements themselves) to a naturalized humanity. He suggests, for example, that, against Haraway's 'cyborg' figure, a 'role of movement participation is to preserve and expand the domain of the heart in social relations "” of all that is uniquely human, all that stands opposed to machine culture' (238).
9. The affirmation of the Lip occupation as an exemplary moment of revolutionary struggle (no doubt seized upon after the disillusionment of the post-'68 period) is evident in the conclusions "” which contain no hint of irony "” of one British pamphlet on the subject: '[Lip] is exemplary because for the first time in many years the working class has attacked, in deeds not just in words, the roots of capitalist society: private property, control and distribution of the means of production and consumption. What is also radical is that, as a result of the methods of action used, a factory has been functioning for 2 months without the boss. The workers started up production again, they sold, and they paid themselves' (Lip 1973: 10).
10. Negations critique is, of course, not at the level of political accusation against the workers, who, given the isolated nature of the struggle and the impending withdrawal of their means of subsistence were in many ways compelled by the social configuration into this practice.
11. With the Lip case in mind, Antagonism (2001: 11) argue that 'Self-management operates ... as a weapon of capitalist crisis management.' '[A]s a measure that is often introduced in unprofitable, failing companies, by workers trying to prevent closure and their own unemployment, self-management often entails a higher level of exploitation than a normal business. The workers "freely choose" (under pressure from the market) to work harder for less money, in order to keep the enterprise going.'
12. Such predictions actually go as far back as antiquity. In response to Cicero's and Aristotle's propositions that machines could overcome work, Marx (1976: 532) writes: 'Oh those heathens! They understood nothing of political economy and Christianity.'
13. Two anecdotes can make the point. An advertisement for a leading cold and influenza remedy that appeared in the London Underground in the winter of 1997/8 displayed some of the imperatives and pernicious mechanisms of work when it asked: 'What sort of person goes to work with the flu?', and gave the response: 'The one after your job.' Elsewhere, the intensification of work which accompanied the growth of flexible production techniques was such that the Japanese were induced to coin a new word "” 'karoshi' "” to describe a condition of death through overwork (cf. Kamunist Kranti 1997).
14. The way that this naturalization appears to have been eased by the Labour Party's historical relations to a socialist tradition (with the return of 'Old Labour' talk of full employment, the right to work, and a community of workers) exemplifies a little of the mainstream left's uncritical relation to the category 'work'.
15. In a 1987 conversation with Pope John Paul II, the Polish leader General Jaruzelski proposed that the common ground between East and West was not the Eastern block's movement toward capitalism, but the affirmation of what he called 'the Theology of Work' (cited in Hunnicutt 1988: 314-15). But such a perspective on work was not limited to Stalinism. Trotsky's 'militarization of labour' is a useful example since Trotsky has retained a popular image of being on the left of Marxism. As is clearly evident in this passage, in Trotsky's socialism there is to be no reduction in work: 'Under capitalism, the system of piece-work and of grading, the application of the Taylor system, etc., have as their object to increase the exploitation of the workers by the squeezing-out of surplus value. Under Socialist production, piece-work, bonuses, etc., have as their problem to increase the volume of socialist product, and consequently to raise the general well-being. Those workers who do more for the general interest than others receive the right to a greater quantity of the social product than the lazy, the careless, and the disorganizers' (1961: 149).
16. Lafargue's essay, as far as I know, is the first to explicitly emphasize the critique of work as the basis of a communist politics within a Marx-informed communist milieu. In a broader sense, the critique of work of course emerges earlier than this. As Illich (1981) has argued, work itself is a modern capitalist invention (cf. also ATP: 400"”1, 490"”1). The problems with generalizing sweeps through history aside, Illich argues that for the classical Greeks and Romans work done with the hands was a more lowly practice than begging (not, of course, that this prevented slaves and women doing it), and through the Middle Ages wage labour (as against household subsistence, certain trades such as shoe making, and begging) was a sign of misery and lack of community. In the emergence of modern capitalism it took considerable effort to turn peasants and vagabonds into the proletariat (cf Linebaugh 1991; Marx 1976: 899; Thompson 1967). In the politics of modern capitalism itself, Lafargue was by no means the first to raise the issue; anti-work perspectives and practices were a persistent feature of slave resistance (cf. Rawick 1972), and were prevalent amongst other elements of the transatlantic working class (cf. Linebaugh and Rediker 1990, 2000).
17. It is noteworthy that the politics of the refusal of work has often emerged from movements seeking to overcome the neat demarcation between workers' politics, counterculture, and artistic practice. That said, as journals like Aufheben, Midnight Notes, and Zerowork have sought to highlight, the refusal of work is a persistent feature of global workers' struggle, and hence should not be seen only through this rather Euro-American lens.
18. For accounts of the refusal of work in these movements and currents see, respectively, Thoburn (forthcoming), Huelsenbeck (1966), Thirion (1929), Knabb (1981), Hoffman (1996), Rubin (1970), Neville (1971), Cleaver (1970), Linebaugh and Ramirez (1975), Gambino (1976), Carpignano (1975), Échanges et Mouvement (1979), Rothbart (1978), Gilroy (1987: 199-203), Hall et al. (1978), Howe (1973), 'After Marx, April' Collective (1981), Aufheben (1998), Bad Attitude (1995), Carr (1975: 54-5), Kenyon (1972), Unwaged Fightback (1987) and Job Shirkers Alliance (n.d.).
19. A photograph of this graffiti ('Never Work') appeared in Internationale Situationniste no. 8 1963 (IS 1970), with the heading 'Preliminary program to the Situationist movement', and it reappeared in the Sorbonne in May '68 (Pagès 1998: 36). Much of the elaboration of the refusal of work in these smaller groups and journals has developed from some relation to the politics of the SI, but the best of it is part of a movement of overcoming the SI's contradictory position, highlighted by Dauvé (2000: 48), of affirming the critique of work on the one hand, whilst advocating workers' councils on the other.
20. This is something of a sine qua non for autonomist theory. Midnight Notes (1981: 1), for example, reiterate the principle thus: 'our struggles against capital are its only motors for development. This is not a picture of some pure defeat in which the harder we struggle the more perfect capital's dominion; rather, the struggles that develop in one mix of living and dead labor, in one social arrangement of exploitation, force the specific arrangement to collapse. A crisis ensues. In the labyrinth of the crisis, capital can only find its way by following the working class and trying to devour it at the exit.'
21. Negri's essay on Keynes (in Negri 1988a), where Keynesianism (productivity/pay tie-ins, the welfare state, the general interest of labour) is presented as the capitalist response to the Soviet revolution, is the classic example of research premised upon the reversal of perspective.
22. Hardt and Negri (in Hardt et al. 2002: 189) present the relation to the reversal of perspective "” of 'proletarian class struggle as an autonomous and creative power' "” as the fundamental marker of any Marxist and materialist politics' efficacy.
23. Against what he presents as a 'weak version' of the reversal of perspective - that capital is a reaction to working-class struggle "” Holloway (1995: 163) argues, in a fashion that has influenced my argument here, that a 'stronger version would be that capital is nothing other than the product of the working class and therefore depends, from one minute to another, upon the working class for its reproduction'. For Holloway, the working class, then, is not an external force outside and against capital, but a force 'against-and-in' capital.
24. That this position is compatible with Tronti's general framework is marked by Deleuze (1988: 89, 144) when he considers the later Foucault. At this point "” when Deleuze discerns that Foucault's resistance changes from a reactive practice to a 'folding' of undetermined force "” he suggests that we see an 'echo' of Tronti's reversal of perspective; that is, Deleuze brings Tronti into the same framework of a rich understanding of the forces of politics.
25. As Marx and Engels (1974: 49) put it: 'the satisfaction of the first need (the action of satisfying, and the instrument of satisfaction which has been acquired) leads to new needs; and this production of new needs is the first historical act'.
26. This was at a time of a mass of austerity measures, instituted in 1976 by the Andreotti government and backed and often implemented by the PCI (which had control of municipalities like Bologna) and the unions. By the beginning of 1977 there was acute economic hardship, with 25 per cent inflation and unprecedented unemployment (1,700,000 officially). Giorgio Amendola, secretary of the PCI, wrote in 1976 of the austerity measures: 'it would be wrong ... to view . . . sacrifices as "concessions" given to the capitalists and the government . . . On the contrary, the sacrifices are necessary in order to serve primarily the interests of the working class by pulling the country out of crisis: so that the young might find employment, for the betterment of the living conditions of the people etc' (cited in Semiotext(e) 1980: 91).
27. According to Lumley (1990: 31, 209), between 1951 and 1961 77 per cent of the 1,439,013 rise in population of the Northern industrial triangle was the result of immigration. In stressing the importance of immigrant workers in the 1969 struggles, one member of Lotta Continua suggested that something like 75 per cent of FIAT's workforce were immigrant workers (in Red Notes 1979: 184).
28. FIAT, for example, used complex vetting procedures involving local police and priests to keep out troublemakers (Abse 1985: 12).
29. Platania (1979: 176) writes: 'I couldn't understand the Communist Party blokes in the factory. They made it a point of honour never to be faulted in their work by the foreman.'
30. This expression originated in one of the first big struggles of the mass worker to extend beyond the factory walls, the events of Corso Traiano in July 1969, when a union-organized strike in the Turin FIAT plants Mirafiori and Rivalta extended beyond its formal structure to end in a day of street-fighting. 'What Do We Want? We Want Everything!' was written on a poster on one of the barricades (cf. Red Notes 1978: 191-3).
31. One worker describes the process: 'it was enough that you struck for half an hour in the morning and the same in the evening to make the mechanism break down. When you strike, you go around as pleased as punch and you can't be stopped . . . When you are busy with a "chequer-board" action not even the gatekeepers manage to understand the comings-and-goings . . . The damage to the bosses was enormous, unlike in the case of pre-organized strikes of previous years . . . It was the expression of mass creativity and inventiveness' (cited in Lumley 1990: 228).
32. The diversity of experience of the emarginati is evidenced at a formal level by the myriad terms used to describe the socio-political position of these groups. Thus as well as the unemployed, feminists, and emarginati, Lumley (1990: 341) lists: emergent groups (ceti emergent?), proletarian youth (giovani proletari), minorities (minoranze), the unprotected (non garantiti), the precarious (precari), and plebeians (plebe). That we are clearly on a terrain of ambiguity rather than distinct identity is evident in an article in Primo Maggio in 1977 which stated that this group 'seems not to have any objective, material reality' and yet that it comes together precisely 'through a denial of its own material condition (the position of being casual labour, lump labour, students etc)' (in Red Notes 1978: 41).
33. Bologna reports that Foucault had some influence on autonomia: 'Certainly the '77 Movement and several of these intellectuals linked to Autonomia had read Foucault, especially, with great passion. They identified more with Foucault, sometimes, than with Marx or Lenin, and this is obviously very important. A discussion was opened.' Foucault (1996: 93), for his part, expressed something of the emarginati's position in a panel discussion in the early "70s: 'what if it is the mass that marginalizes itself? That is, if it is precisely the proletariat and the young proletarians that refuse the ideology of the proletariat?'
34. This position was not only held by the orthodox left. The British journal of the International Communist Current (which situates itself in some relation to the German, Dutch, and Italian left communist currents), expressed its opinion of this 'swamp' in no uncertain terms: 'Today people talk about the "Area of Autonomy" rather than Workers' Autonomy. The milieu has turned into a somewhat grimy froth composed of all kind of petty-bourgeois fringe groups, from students to street theatre performers, from feminists to marginally employed teachers, ail of them united in exalting their own "specificity" and in frantically rejecting the working class as the only revolutionary class of our epoch . . . Contrary to what is written in the bourgeois press, these marginal movements do not represent the Hundred Flowers of a revolutionary spring: they are simply some of the thousand and one purulent snares of this degenerating society' (Beyle 1979: 20).
35. See Castellano in Semiotext(e) (1980: 229-30) for discussion of the tendency of elements in autonomia to develop a fetishized self-representation of exclusion and marginalization.
36. See Caffentzis (1975) for a detailed analysis of the changing composition and politics of American students as they similarly became more internal to the social factory.
37. Thus, Bologna (in Red Notes 1978: 97) writes: 'I do not at all share the definition of "marginalisation" which is being given to the mass of people who have been in the forefront of the struggle in the Universities this week. In particular I do not believe that there exists, in Italy, an area of society that is radically excluded from the relations of production.'
38. The possibilities for inverting the meaning of 'untorelli' were not lost on the emarginati, who sought, in a sense, to affirm their 'plague-bearing' relation to the society of austerity and work (cf. Recherches 1977). This inversion of naming has not been uncommon amongst radical movements. A recent example is the appropriation of the word casseur (literally wrecker or hooligan) by the student and beur movement in France in 1994 (cf. Nous sommes tous des casseurs n.d.) which replicates the sense of the May '68 slogan used after the deportation of Cohn-Bendit as an 'undesirable German Jew': 'Nous sommes tous des indésirables', 'Nous sommes tous des juifs allemands' (cf. Rohan 1988: 110"”11).
39. Virno's sense of the use of the resistance and desire of the '70s to develop a new regime of production is, then, different from Negri's in that he does not see this as a new plane of autonomous production.
40. This is an interesting example of the strong sense of complexity these groups embodied: 'The idea came up almost by chance. We were pondering over time, on the many types of woman's time: on work time and love time, on "free" time and "liberated" time, on research time. One of us put forward the idea of having an hourglass on the cover, an ancient instrument of time keeping. Then musical time came to mind, perhaps just by playing on words. Someone else suggested putting the score of a Schonberg piece on the cover, a piece called "All in due time". Later, we were not able to trace that score. In the meantime we had started discussing Schonberg, whom some of us loved, some did not, and others knew little about. It seemed that the contrasting readings offered on Schonberg were relevant to us: the drama of dissolution of tonality and the ultimate failure in the attempt to construct a new musical norm, said somebody. Others did not agree. Atonality and 12"”tone music, breakdown of the old order and the impossibility of a "spontaneous" and non-painful journey towards a new order of things' (cited in Magale l980: 137).
41. The Wages for Housework campaign emerged with Lotta Feminista in the 1972 Programmatic Manifesto of Housewives in the Neighbourhood (cf. Bono and Kemp 1991; Edmond and Fleming 1975; Federici 1982; Fortunati 1995; and, for some of the heated debate about this current, Malos 1982). I am only considering the early theory of this campaign, as an aspect of the area of autonomia, not assessing its subsequent development.
42. This analysis resonates with Deleuze and Guattari's (ACE) analysis of the family in the capitalist socius. Deleuze and Guattari argue that it is precisely when the family ceases to be an autonomous model of production and reproduction "” as the capitalist socius comes directly to take on the relations of alliance and filiation as all identities become formed through the axiomatization of abstract flows "” that its privatization and naturalization 'outside' of capital becomes most necessary: 'Precisely because it is privatized, placed outside the field, the form of the material or the form of human reproduction begets people whom one can readily assume to be all equal in relation to one another; but inside the field itself, the form of social economic reproduction has already preformed the form of the material so as to engender, there where they are needed, the capitalist as a function derived from capital, and the worker as a function derived from labor capacity, etc.' (263).
43. It is notable in this context that Haraway (1991: 166) describes the contemporary global 'homework economy' "” in a formulation not dissimilar to the general thesis of the social factory "” as a now generalized 'feminization' of work.
44. See Comitati autonomi operai di Roma (1976) for two leaflets advocating autoreduction of service bills.
45. Lama and Cossiga were prominent union and PCI figures.
46. See Morris (1978: 70) and Red Notes (1978: 57) for two of these leaflets, and É
47. il '77 (1977) and Grimshaw and Gardner (1977: 16) for images of 'Metropolitan Indians'. Such a move was not, of course, characteristic of the whole movement, and neither was it always popular. The intervention of A/traverso's Bifo in the September 1977 Conference on Repression (by letter from exile in France), which began with the expression 'We have to go against the stream even when the stream is going against the stream', was greeted by at least one of the audience with dismay, and an assertion of the need to communicate with the masses with simplicity and immediacy (cf. Kunzle 1980: 115-16).
48. See also the mao-dadaist parody of the 'right to work', 'Work makes you free and beautiful' (in Morris 1978: 70), and A/traverso in Guattari (1984: 238-40).
49. Downing (1980: 204) reports that in June 1978 there were an estimated 2,275 radio stations and 503 television stations spread fairly evenly across the population centres of the country. Radio Alice transmitted from 9 February 1976 until 12 March 1977, using an old military transmitter located in two rooms of an apartment building in a residential area of Bologna (cf. Cowan 1978; Grimshaw and Gardner 1977).
50. In his critique of the Movement of '77, Umberto Eco suggested that Radio Alice was not being quite honest about the avant-gardist and academic origin of its mao-dadaism (1977a: 116), that Anti-Oedipus and its 'metaphor' of desiring machines needed to be read seriously, not reduced to easy slogans (116), and that the workers did not really understand (1977b: 126) and were using a 'laboratory language' in a (by implication, dangerous) practical fashion (1994: 172). Bifo and Pasquini (1977) responded by insisting on the relation of their practice to the wider political movement and the refusal of work: 'In Eco's article, everything could be reduced to a little abstract game between Norm and Violation . . . But this is to forget that behind this transgression of the Norm and the gestural and linguistic transformation there is a practical, collective, subject, which produced behaviour and signs capable of violating the codes of interpretation precisely because the social practice of the subject is capable of violating that productivist code of sacrificing a lifetime to an exploitative society' (cited in Morris 1978: 69). For Bifo and Pasquino (1977: 135) it was not the workers who did not understand (indeed, they argued that the workers were practising 'mao-dadaism' in their struggles at FIAT Mirafiori), but the bourgeoisie, or 'pale faces'.
51. 'During the months of spring"”summer '75, a new subject, the young proletarian, appeared on the scene, no longer with the old frames of reference of the avant-garde, a subject which moved in a certain transversal fashion through the separate orders, not reducible to the categories of politics, and therefore immediately reduced (by the reformists and fascists) to the categories of criminology, of psychiatry, of sociology, of spectacle' (Collectif A/traverso 1977: 89-90; my translation).
52. In this project A/traverso were directly influenced by Deleuze and Guattari's formulation of the minor, and the Collectif A/traverso (1977: 67"”72) collection includes a precis of the minor literature thesis. In turn, Guattari's experience of Radio Alice encouraged him to contribute to the development of free radio in France, though, without a similarly radicalized milieu, the movement was quickly subsumed in more molar media forms.
53. Guattari (1996a: 74"”5) continues: 'We are far, very far, from the technocratic conceptions of the French partisans of local radio, who insist, on the contrary, that those who express themselves on radio represent their particular interests; or from the conceptions of the traditional left which is concerned above all that nothing more than the party line and certain mobilizing propositions be expressed on their wavelengths.' '[S]uch an assumption of direct speech by social groups . . . fundamentally endangers traditional systems of social representation, it puts in doubt a certain conception of the delegate, the representative, the authorized spokesman, the leader, the journalist... In these conditions, one can expect certain truths to find a new matter of expression.'
54. An article in Primo Maggio reported that no sooner had Alice come on air than it was able to mobilize 2,000 people for a musical jam session, and that it had an average listening audience of 30,000 (in Red Notes 1978: 41).
55. The closure of Radio Alice was part of the general repression of autonomia. This repression took a complex path, and a full account is far beyond the scope of this chapter. Nevertheless, a little needs to be said. In the judicial procedures and criminal prosecutions, the complex and mutating area of autonomia was converted into a hierarchical and organized body in a degree of efficiency that would no doubt confirm Debord's (1983: 19) assessment that Italy at this time was 'the most modern laboratory of international counter-revolution'. Central to the process was the deployment of the Red Brigades (BR) as a kind of consolidating 'agent' enabling the solidification of identity-forming regimes across the movement. The BR was always a rather orthodox workerist formation, and, with its movement from the factories to the politics of 'carry the attack to the heart of the State', it became increasingly spectacular and functional to the repression of the social movement. As Sanguinetti (1982) argues, the question of whether the BR was aided by the secret services "” which would fit with secret state practice since the 1969"”73/4 'strategy of tension' of aiding or even instituting fascist terrorism "” is better left aside in favour of considering the reactionary effects of the BR's practice. Certainly, the BR's approach was far removed from the diffuse politics of autonomia, as is evident in the Metropolitan Indians' rather astute parody of the BR position with the slogan 'Carry the attack to the heart of the Papacy! All power to the armed vicars!' (in Red Notes 1978: 124). Nevertheless, with the pretext of increased violence, the vague historical links across the whole of the extra-parliamentary movement, and no doubt aided by some of the violent rhetoric and practice of aspects of autonomia and the clandestine bands, the judiciary sought to 'expose' the subterranean links between autonomia and the BR, and prosecute the lot (though many 'repentant' Brigadists received large commutations for implicating, frequently in contradictory ways, elements of autonomia). The specific techniques of identification are described by Lotringer and Marazzi (in Semiotext(e) 1980: 19) as part of a process whereby the state assumed something of its adversary's form: it 'simulated the fluidity characteristic of Autonomy'. In his consideration of the judicial procedure, Deleuze (1980: 182-4) argues that the prosecution overcame two fundamental principles of democratic law: that justice must conform to a principle of 'identifiable consistency' where the content and subject of the charge must have a precise and non-contradictory identity, and that in the committal hearings 'facts' must conform to a principle of 'disjunction and exclusion' ('Either A is the case, or B; if B, then it is not A'; 182). The judiciary thus presented not a distinct series of subjects (in Judge Calogero's theorem there was only one, Potere Operaio = autonomia = Red Brigades) but an 'orgy of identifications' that replicated Anti-Oedipus' inclusive disjunction with a principle of inclusion and accumulation of all contradictions. The fatal proviso was that the construction of the inclusive disjunctive plane served to produce criminal subjects of the law, as the total plane was subdivided into units with responsibility for the whole. Thus, everything from political actions, texts, and archive collections (all of Negri's works and files were trawled through and formed the basis of his prosecution "” see Negri (1988d) for a sobering transcript of the process of the prosecution of ideas) to mysterious telephone calls (the BR's telephone call to Aldo Moro's wife was initially attributed to Negri), and, if we expand beyond Negri's case, to cartoons (a comic strip in Metropoli illustrating the similarity of position between the BR and the state was said to display knowledge of Aldo Moro's kidnap that only the BR could have "” see Semiotext(e) (1980: 300"”14) for the comic strip) were used as points of connection to autonomia/BR. Once 'connected' there was no need to maintain consistency in the charges "” which took simultaneously serious, and vague and nebulous forms such as 'subversive association' and 'insurrection against the powers of the state' - since the specific content could not change the generalized guilt, hence the continual mutation in the charges against the defendants (in a kind of 'endless deferment' that would have made Kafka proud), enabled by the possibility of up to twelve years of preventative detention, the use of witnesses with contradictory testimonies, and the refusal to present the prosecution's evidence to the defendants (cf. Italy '79 Committee 1982; Portelli 1985; Red Notes 1981).
56. Negri's presentation here helps mark his sense of the rather dramatic change in the regimes of contemporary production. It does, however, display a very different sense of the meaning of 'the refusal of work' to his earlier work, and to how I have elaborated the concept in this chapter. As I have argued, the refusal of work is a cramping mechanism for the refusal of workers' plenitude and a compulsion to political activity immanent to capitalist configurations, not a simple 'Luddism', or a refusal of 'command' (as something exterior to work itself). The refusal of work in an age of general intellect and the social individual "” when, for some, affect, communicational competence, and technical expertise have come to the fore "” would not be a 'suicidal' self-destruction, but a critical engagement with the axiomatizing relations immanent to these formations as they are born of, and functional to, capital. There is no reason that the refusal of work is not still valid for this configuration "” so long as one does not see work itself as an expression of autonomous self-production, as Negri seems to.