We have called our pamphlet "Living With An Earthquake". This earthquake is not just the crisis at Government level - it is a quite new political upheaval affecting the whole of Italian society.
We have produced this pamphlet because it is vitally important that the outside world should know about what thousands of ordinary people are doing in Italy today. A new opposition is developing, against the Christian Democrats and against the Communist Party, in their 'Historic Compromise'. This opposition is a new, revolutionary, mass movement. Italy is the only country of the West today that has such a movement.
In recent years other countries have seen single-issue movements (the antinuclear movement, the gay liberation movement, the women's movement, etc). But so far, only Italy has produced a mass movement that consciously tries to take an overall revolutionary stance on a whole range of problems that the 1970s have forced us to confront - one hand traditional Left issues of wages, unemployment etc, and on the other of sexuality, of drugs, of personal life, of ecology, music, etc
We say this movement is a revolutionary movement because it involves large numbers of people - tens of thousands in the big cities take part in street demonstrations .... a couple of thousand turn up as a matter of course at assemblies held at Rome University ... tens of thousands tune in regularly to each of the dozens of revolutionary Radio stations, and regularly read the revolutionary daily newspapers.
This movement is also "mass" because it's not just "left-wing intellectuals". It consists of definite layers of society. A fair number, mostly in the North, are factory workers. But the majority are members of what has been called the "second society" - ie proletarians, often students, mostly young, who can't find jobs, or only find precarious jobs with no social security, below standard wages and no guarantees of any kind. These people (and they are a growing number) find that there are no established political forces to represent their interests. They are "shut out" of official society, socially and politically. They react by organising and rebelling, in a politically conscious manner.
We say this movement is new because up till now the models for revolution have usually been China, Vietnam, Cuba etc. socialist revolutions in basically peasant/feudal-colonial societies, usually led by Marxist-Leninist parties. Revolutionaries in the Western, industrial countries have tended to try and apply these models to their own countries. But the movement in Italy seems to be moving away from those models, in order to try and test a whole new way of developing a revolutionary process in an advanced capitalist industrialised country. In particular it is incorporating some of the lessons and understandings that have come from the recent development of the movement of women.
Our pamphlet is not about "the workers", or "the students" or “the women”. It is about an incredible complex, uncertain, fast-moving development of a new force in the revolutionary struggle. This force is hard to define but at the same time is made up of definite people. The revolutionary groups are having to rack their brains and rethink their theories to adjust to this reality. The situation is at times hopeful and at times very worrying, sometimes up and sometimes down. No clear lines have yet emerged.
That's why we've printed this pamphlet: in order to show the nature of the upheaval, the nature of the problems that are being raised, the nature of the solutions proposed. The revolutionary movement in Britain also faces acute problems of reorganisation in the coming period: the lessons of Italy are extremely valuable.
March 11th 1978
In this pamphlet we have included a range of articles, most of which speak for themselves. However, for the reader who is not familiar with Italian politics, we are including here some background notes.
THE SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC BACKGROUND
Italy is one of the countries that is hardest-hit by the international economic crisis. The effects of this crisis have been made worse by the particular structure of the Italian economy. Italy, until recently, was coupled together with Britain as being the two "weak links" of capitalism - low growth, dependence on the IMF, and a strong inclination towards Socialism.
The North is industrialised. The South is only partly so - and the remaining agriculture has been largely ruined (partly by large-scale land development plans). Over recent decades small peasants have been forced to leave the land and look for work in the towns (in Italy, and further North into Europe). However, planned recession and slackening of economic growth in countries like Germany, Switzerland etc have blocked many of these emigration outlets.
The State has aided a programme of industrial development in the South in recent years (pressured by the Unions, to ease the social problems caused by Northwards migrations). However, this development has been mostly capital-intensive (in order to be profitable and competitive in international markets), and a lot of the money for investment remained stuck to the fingers of corrupt administrators - so that fewer jobs have been created in industry than have been lost in agriculture and other traditional activities.
Keynesian deficit-spending economic policies have been applied in Italy not to provide efficient public services, subsistence -level unemployment benefits etc (public services, including health services, notoriously do not work - or hardly at all - and unemployment benefits are about 60p a day flat-rate for 6 months - and then only after 2 years continuous employment), but instead to swell the ranks of an elephantine State bureaucracy, with practically-sinecure jobs: jobs are exchanged for votes, on a patronage basis.
Direct taxes are notoriously levied only on the pay-packets of regularly employed workers. Business and professional people are protected from the tax authorities by the Bank Secrecy laws (which not even the Communist Party proposes to abolish), and they make voluntary 'declarations of income' which are only a fraction of their real incomes. They also indulge in large-scale illegal exportation of capital, with the connivance of the banks.
Unemployment stands officially at about 1.x million [this number is unclear in the text - the official rate was 4.1%], but is probably twice that, because few people bother to register. In many cases, employment is not much better - being of the part-time, casual or moonlighting variety, with many people taking on 2 or 3 jobs. Inflation is over 20 per cent.
Italy, along with other developed countries, experienced a boom in higher education in the 1960s. But as the crisis restricted the number of available job openings, this boom was not equally restricted. In fact, thousands of young people enrol at University while trying to find work at the same time (among other things, fees are relatively inexpensive).
The University of Rome, for instance, was built to house 20,000 students. It is now having to cope with about 150,000. These facts have led to a big change in the student body (and this is important for understanding the events described in our pamphlet): they are now more proletarian; they live in conditions of extreme economic hardship, making money through odd jobs like babysitting, bar-tending etc; and they have little or no prospect of improving their circumstances even if they do get their degrees. Practically for the first time in history, vast numbers of young people have been given access to education and culture - but they have been denied the material privileges which once upon a time would have tied them to the values of the ruling class. This obviously produces an explosive situation. One attempted solution has been the reform recently proposed by Education Minister Malfatti an attempt to introduce selection, to restrict access to universities (up till now a simple high-school diploma has been enough to get you in).
THE REPRESSIVE INSTITUTIONS
The police, carabinieri, finance-guards and other professional military personnel comprise roughly a quarter of a million men in a country of 55 million inhabitants. Their repressive role against the working class movement is documented elsewhere in this pamphlet. The regular Army, on the other hand, could not be counted on, in a confrontation with the people. It is a conscript based Army, and in many barracks there are semi-underground organisations of democratic and revolutionary soldiers, who have proved able to organise minor mass struggles (such as refusals to eat; one minutes silences in mess when comrades are shot by police in the street etc). For these reasons it can be stated fairly safely that a Chile-style coup d'etat is not on the cards in the near future, for such an attempt would lead most probably to a protracted and bloody civil war which would be severely detrimental to the world capitalist economy. However, there are ongoing attempts by the authorities to re-structure the Army along more professional lines.
THE POSITIONS OF THE POLITICAL FORCES IN ITALY
In the crucial General Election of June 20th 1976, the PCI (Italian Communist Party) obtained 34.4% of the vote, as against 38.8% for the DC (Christian Democrat Party, in power ever since the War). Together with the PSI (Italian Socialist Party), the PR (Radical Party - a civil rights movement) and the DP (Proletarian Democracy - the revolutionary Left), the Left as a whole obtained 48%. However, the PCI made a decisive step .....
Instead of using this new muscle in forceful opposition, the PCI, abandoning its former talk of "reforms", applied its "Historic Compromise" policy by abstaining from Parliamentary votes, and thus effectively propping up Mr Andreotti’s minority DC government. In exchange for this - the workers have not got much - only talk from Labour Union (PCI-dominated) leaders like Lama on the need for austerity and making sacrifices - and from the Government, measures that actually eroded living standards still further.
The Communist Party also has its own repressive apparatus of strong-arm heavies, intervening directly against the Movement. On occasions it has criticised the Government for not being firm enough in closing down revolutionary office premises, radio stations. It has shown its solidarity with the police on all occasions when the police have clashed with movement demonstrations, and has attempted to smear the movement by equating it with the Fascist movement of 1919 in Italy. Our pamphlet demonstrates this amply.
The Democrazia Proletaria (DP) coalition of small revolutionary parties, after disappointingly meagre results in the June 20th 1976 elections (getting 6 deputies and only 1.5% of the vote) has entered a crisis. This can be traced to many causes: the way the PCI has succeeded in blocking the workers' struggles (bringing about a certain organisational stagnation); the rejection by many militants of the "sacrificial" style of militancy; the disheartenment of militants in general; the problems caused by the militarisation of some areas of the struggle, and the increasing State repression (eg the Special Laws); and, perhaps most important, the fact that the traditional leadership methods of these organisations are being heavily contested from within particularly by feminist women.
Lotta Continua ("Fight On"), who only got one deputy in the share-out of the DF's vote, is the principal organisation left with a nationally distributed daily newspaper (sold in all news-stands), continuing to give whole-hearted support to all struggles and movements of opposition to the Andreotti Government, and to denounce unhesitatingly the reactionary stance taken by the PCI (the other main organisations in DP tend to try to "draw the PCI back to left-wing policies"). But Lotta Continua's organisational structures are also in a state of crisis, and so are functioning very little. Its militants have practically "dissolved" into the movement, and it is very unclear what the future holds.
As regards The Movement, it would be inexact to call this a "student movement" (as some have), because, as well as students, it also includes factory workers, voluntary and involuntary drop-outs, part-time workers and workers dispersed in the service sector. The Movement is not politically united or homogeneous, although so far it has managed to close its ranks in the face of repression. One component of the Movement is Autonomia Operaia ("Workers' Autonomy") - the hard-line wing, which aims at "raising the level of conflict within the State apparatus". Autonomia Operaia operates in the Movement as an organised fraction, and has been criticised for heavy-handed tactics in attempts to get their proposals accepted at mass meetings of the movement. It has also been criticised for its political line, for many consider it to be premature and suicidal to seek out a head-on conflict with the State apparatus while the bulk of the working class is still being kept inert by the PCI and the Labour Unions (this criticism is made by Lotta Continua's daily newspaper). Other components of the Movement are the revolutionary feminists, and the Metropolitan Indians, a colourful and creative group who have been dressing up in warpaint, and who use hard-hitting irony to unmask the absurdities of the Government and the PCI revisionists.
One notable characteristic distinguishes the Movement from the student movement of 1968: it lacks charismatic leader-figures; it appears to be self-organising.
A NOTE ON CULTURAL BACKGROUND
Everybody is agreed that the Left movement in Italy - the strongest in the whole of Europe - is in profound crisis, with many things changing all at once. A fundamental part of this change is a re-appraisal of the styles and modes of revolutionary politics. The old ways just are not being accepted: they are being deeply challenged. The startling developments at Lotta Continua's Rimini Conference showed this (see the material later in this pamphlet).
There is a strong feeling (especially fostered by the women's movement) that revolutionary groups who face the problems of fighting for and building communism, should not be internally organised in ways that are not even bourgeois-democratic, but hierarchical and almost feudal cultural background in which Italians, even the revolutionary Italians - has grown.
The Vatican: For centuries Katholic Kulture has reigned unopposed over Italy. Among other things Katholic Kulture prohibits its followers from reasoning with their own minds on matters of doctrine - the faithful are expected simply to "believe and obey". Unlike certain other countries, Italy did not have a Protestant Reformation which, if nothing else, at least produced a certain religious freedom, as a first step towards relative freedom of thought. The continuation of the suffocating Katholic doctrine is still seen in the teaching programme in Italian schools, where the critical spirit is strongly discouraged.
The Fascist Inheritance: Twenty years of Fascist dictatorship meant that the parents of today's young generation were themselves brought up in a climate of total non-freedom and rigid family authoritarianism. Much of this climate has lived on in today's families - and in these families it is exceptional to find democratic values applied. The typical father, even today, often exercises his "paternal rights" with the strap, and with no remorse or guilt. In fact he feels within his rights, because that is his cultural tradition.
The Peasant Inheritance: The Italian industrial revolution has been a recent phenomenon. This means that the majority of proletarians (and students
too) are the children or grandchildren of peasants. And the peasant world especially that of the smallholding property - is a world based on individualism, conservatism, closedness to innovation, and rigid authoritarianism in family life (which is strongly patriarchal).
All these components have combined to produce a cultural tradition, which the Left also shares, in many of its organisational aspects. But this cultural tradition is coming under fire nowadays - both in the society at large, and in the Left groups - and perhaps the aspect most under attack is the aspect common to all three of the above traditions: namely the oppression of women. Patriarchy and the oppression of women are common to all those traditions - and it has been the late (but nonetheless explosive) emergence of the women's movement which has brought about the profoundest crisis in the Italian Left groups. It has tried to end the split between the personal and the political spheres. It has opened the way for a new form of politics whose shape is, as yet, unclear.
The "Communist" Inheritance: The weight of the PCI on the Left movement has also been heavy. In Italy, since the War, the Russian-inspired Third Internationalist component of the working class movement has prevailed, rather than the Socialist or Social-Democratic component that has prevailed in Germany, France, Britain, Scandinavia etc. Now, although the revolutionary groups have criticised many aspects of the PCI strategy (eg the Reforms, and now the Historic Compromise), they have never criticised its organisational structure. Instead they seem to have had a sneaking admiration for its party cells, branches, congresses, central committees, secretariats, local federations, politburos etc - which most of them have adopted wholesale. In general not only are the structures the same, but also the underlying principles of operation:- Monolithism (everyone must agree about everything, and if there are internal quarrels, they should not be made known outside the organisation); Hierarchy (the lower bodies must accept and do what they are told by the higher bodies, with no rights guaranteed or safeguarded for dissent); and the Rigid Separation between Personal and Political ("We are not here to solve your personal problems").
In case our readers suppose that we have suddenly been smitten with hippy disease, we would point out that precisely these issues have been at the base of the utter crisis of the revolutionary Left in Italy. We would also direct you to the speech by Adriano Sofri, General Secretary (ex) of Lotta Continua, reprinted later in this pamphlet.
We can say that the revisionist organisations, the PCI and the Unions have no hope of regaining hegemony over the students and marginal workers in the movement, in the short or medium term. A whole new anti-revisionist ethos (home-grown, this time, and not "made in China") has emerged, and only severe military violence will be able to destroy it in the near future. This ethos includes anti-male-chauvinist values (which are only just beginning to seep into the heads of male comrades) and a refusal of authority in practically any form - including the so-called "revolutionary authority” of vertically-structured Leninist-type parties (Which may explain why, although Lotta Continua's newspaper represents the majority line and opinion in the Movement, and has increased its sales considerably - currently 30,000 copies a day and rising - Lotta Continua as an organisation is still very weak).
Judging by recent publications of the Left in Britain our revolutionaries either do not care, or utterly misunderstand, the developments in Italy. We feel this is a grave mistake, for the lessons of Italy are very rich and fruitful for Britain too.
The first part of our pamphlet is a brief Chronology of events in Italy. This is followed by a detailed account and analysis of the events of Bologna, March 1977.
Then comes an account of various important events that took place in Rome - the March 12th demo, the movement for Claudia Caputi and the killing of Giorgiana Masi.
And finally a survey of the revolutionary Left in Italy.
A CHRONOLOGY OF RECENTS EVENTS IN ITALY.
This chronology runs from February 1st to May 1st 1977. Later events are dealt with in the section 'Events in Rome'.
February 1st: 100 Fascists invade the campus of Rome University and shoot at comrades who are meeting to protest against Malfatti's Education Reform bill. Two comrades are wounded - one seriously, with a bullet in his head. The Faculty of Letters is occupied.
February 2nd: Thousands of students respond, with a demonstration outside the branch office of the MSI (neo-fascist party) near Termini station. The police open fire with sub-machine guns. No Fascists had been arrested for the previous day's attack. One cop was wounded by police cross-fire, as were 4 comrades (two seriously).
February 3rd: University faculties are occupied in Rome, Milan, Monza, Genoa, Pisa, Florence, Bari, Trieste and Cagliari. Subsequent events at Rome University are documented later in this pamphlet. (See pages 49-78).
February 9th: 15-20,000 students demonstrate in the streets of Rome.
February 10th: Three big demonstrations in Milan.
February 15th: Communist Party militants provoke a scuffle with the students guarding the gates of the occupied campus at Rome University.
February 16th: Lama, the top boss in the CGIL union confederation, and a CP member enters Rome University to “talk sense" into the students - accompanied by a couple of hundred PCI strong-arm heavies and many shop stewards hastily summoned from the factories at the last minute to "defend the University, which is occupied by Fascists. There are clashes between the PCI heavies and some
of the students (sticks, stones and a fire extinguisher are used). Few of the shop stewards rallied to "defend” Lama. Most just stood talking to the students and expressing disapproval of Lama's initiative. Lama retreats outside the University campus, unable to finish his speech.
In the afternoon the police invade the campus and clear out the students applauded by PCI militants. The operation was dubbed "Little Prague" by the students, and revealed the repressive (and no longer reformist) face of PCI revisionism.
February 19th: Over 30,000 students demonstrate in Rome, against the PCI attacks, against Malfatti's bill, and against the police.
February 22nd: In Naples 30,000 workers, students and unemployed demonstrate against unemployment.
February 25th: Meeting of the National Coordination Assembly of 5,000 students from all over Italy, meeting in Rome.
March 1st :In Rome, Fascists shoot and wound two comrades, one of them (a Lotta Continua militant) seriously. The police do not act.
March 2nd: A local demonstration in Rome; anti-Fascists protest. 5,000 demonstrate in Turin.
March 3rd: 300 PCI bureaucrats assault students at Turin University (see photo later in our pamphlet - page 48).
March 4th: Fabrizio Panzieri, an anti-Fascist student, is sentenced to over 9 years prison, after waiting trial for 2 years in jail, on a charge of "moral complicity" in the killing of a Greek Fascist who was shot in a demonstration two years previously. The police baton-charge the comrades present at the trial and massed outside the court-room.
Police invade the Rome University campus again, to forestall the demonstration called to protest against the Panzieri sentence. A pitched battle with the comrades - baton-charges and hundreds of tear-gas grenades fired. Barricades were put up by the students, but nevertheless the protest march through the centre of Rome did take place.
March 8th: Women's Day. Mass demonstrations of feminists in Rome, Mildn, Turin, Bari and Lecce.
March 9th: High-school students start to mobilise, occupying schools, and holding 'self-management weeks'. 4,000 march in Palermo. 15 schools hold a joint mass assembly in Rome.
March 11th: In Bologna police shoot and kill Francesco Lorusso (aged 25), a Lotta Continua militant. They are intervening in a scuffle between comrades and 'Communion & Liberation' (a far-right militant Catholic group). Prime Minister Andreotti says, on TV, that this killing is "normal and inevitable".
March 12th: In Rome, 100,000 comrades from all over Italy demonstrate, under pouring rain. Parts of the demo, which is several kilometres long, clash with the police, but the march does not break up. Some demonstrators burn cars, and a gunshop is raided. But other demonstrators force the looters to throw the guns in the Tiber. Police atrocities include arresting and beating anyone who is wet from rain"; stopping city buses and dragging down anyone who "looks suspicious"; firing wildly against the demonstrators with sub-machine gun (some of the demonstrators fired back with pistols). What was taken to be a Fascist terror-squad raided Termini railway station, firing wildly. They were later discovered to be a plain-clothes "special squad" from the police anti-terrorist department.
March 14th: In Bologna the authorities forbid the lying-in-state (traditional Italian funeral custom) of Francesco Lorusso's body.
During the weekend armed cops close down a private radio transmitter (Radio Alice) and destroy its equipment. During the invasion of Bologna University by cops and armoured vehicles, Radio Alice had broadcast 'live' phone calls from comrades and citizens, who called in from public phone boxes to report what was going on in the town. This closure had no legal justification, but the PCI had demanded it in the name of 'law and order'. In addition the PCI wrote in their magazine 'Vie Nuove' that the Bologna demonstrators were “just common delinquents, organised Fascists, and misled youth".
March 16th: In Bologna the PCI organises a mass demonstration in the central Piazza Maggiore, to protest against "violence". They refuse to let Lorusso's brother speak to the crowd, but let a Christian Democrat representative speak instead. Their appeal against generic "violence and hooliganism" does not, of course, include the violence of the Right and the police. Students went to the meeting en masse, and organise a huge sit-down. Many participants from the pcr meeting sympathise, and join them in a march through the town. Zangheri, Communist mayor of Bologna states:
"One cannot blame the police - after all, they are at war."
March 17th: Ferocious sentences by Bologna magistrates on those arrested during the police invasion of the University. For instance, Renzo Resca, aged 19, sentenced to 2 years 8 months in prison for "possession of weapons". The "weapon" in question was a chain he used to lock up his moped. He appeared in court on a stretcher, unable to walk, after police "interrogation". (His record was not clean .... he had a previous conviction ... for driving without a licence!)
Trigger-happy police in Turin: Bruno Cecchetti, aged 20, is shot dead by police after he had stopped his car at a police road-block. He put his hand into his glove-compartment to take out his ..... spectacles. The cop who shot him dead confided: "He had no gun. I can tell you that, because in any case nothing is going to happen to me."
March 18th: There is a labour Union general strike for employment, investment programmes etc - except in Rome, where public demonstrations have been forbidden by Cossiga, Minister of the Interior (With Union approval). Students strike too. Many Union leaders are given a rough ride (eg Lama is booed and hissed
March 20th: The newspapers start to debate the International Monetary Funds's loan of half a billion dollars to Italy. The conditions attached to this loan are that Italy's labour costs must be reduced.
March 21st: In Padua there are dawn raids by police on the homes of comrades, including University teachers. 12 are arrested. The PCI paper ‘l’Unita’ supports the police action.
March 23rd: 100,000 attend the demonstration called by the labour Unions during a general strike, in Rome, postponed from March 18th. There is a simultaneous march by 25,000 students, who pass through the square where the Unions are massed. Heavy cordons of Union and PCI officials prevent direct contact between workers and students.
March 24-25th: The “sliding-scale” threshold payments, which increase together with rises in the cost-of-living index, have been included by law in all wage packets for 'many years. Today's agreement between Union leaders and Government (a sort of Social Contract) modifies the sliding scale, to the workers' detriment, in order to meet the IMF's loan terms imposed on Italy. Workers start to protest at the base, especially at not having been consulted beforehand, and at the fact that 'the Union leaders had publicly promised in January that the sliding scale "would not be touched".
March 26th: 5,000 demonstrate in Padua to protest against the arrests.
March 31st: In Rome. Claudia Caputi, aged 17, had been gang-raped by 18 men a year ago. She denounced her assailants, who are on trial today. She is raped again, and razored all over her body, as a "warning" to shut her mouth. 10,000 women mobilise in 6 hours and demonstrate in her neighbourhood.
April 1st: Paolino dell I Anne, public prosecutor at the trial of Claudia's rapists, formally accuses Claudia of having faked this second episode of violence against herself!
April 4th: 5,000 women demonstrate in solidarity with Claudia outside the Courthouse, which is defended by riot cops in full battle gear.
April 6th: In Milan, 3,000 workers, including representatives from 450 shop stewards factory committees, meet in the Lirico Theatre (the 'Lirico Assembly') to discuss, independently from the Union organisations, what is to be done about the cost-of-living sell-out by the Union leaders. The meeting is ferociously criticised by the Communist Party paper 'L'Unita'. Lotta Continua proposes that the protest take the form of strike action, but the proposal does not gain a majority.
In Naples, Guido de Mortino, son of the Socialist Party leader, is kidnapped. All sorts of claims, from far Right to far Left, purporting to have done it, are made by phone, but none can prove it. The two ultra-Left armed clandestine groups NAP and BR send written disclaimers condemning the action - these disclaimers are said to be genuine by police experts.
April 10th: Naples is surrounded by armed cops who intimidate the population but can find no trace of De Martino. Lotta Continua denounces the kidnappings as serving the aims of the DC - to confuse the ideas of the proletariat with a new "strategy of tension".
April 14th: In Rome 15,000 Catholics meet to protest against the Abortion Bill which is going through Parliament.
April 15th: It is discovered that the Government had promised the IMF to reduce the sliding-scale even more in the near future - and that the Union leaders knew about this, but kept quiet. This proves them to have lied when they said they would surrender no more after the recent modifications.
April 16th: Malfatti, the Education Minister, reproposes his University "Reform" Bill - which would end by practically denying access to working class kids.
April 19th: Bologna University is occupied by students again.
April 21st: In Rome a General Assembly of the students decides to demand the expulsion of the cops who have been patrolling the campus since February. During the morning some faculties are occupied by students. The rector, Prof. Ruberti, with PCI backing, calls in the cops to clear the students out. The cops invade the campus, using teargas and firearms. They shoot teargas into the students' canteen during lunch, and start to shoot their way into the nearby proletarian quarter of San Lorenzo. Students use buses as barricades. Bullet marks from police fire-arms pock-mark the walls of neighbourhood streets. Teargas enters many homes. At a certain point someone - nobody knows who - started shooting back. One policeman is shot dead. The cops retreat.
In the afternoon the San Lorenzo branch of the PCI holds a demonstration demanding the closure by police of the headquarters of the "Workers' Autonomy" (Autonomia Operia) committee in Via dei Volsci. During the police search of the Autonomists' offices that same evening, 4 comrades found there are arrested. A passing car with a couple in it (nothing to do with the scene) is machine-gunned by nervous police. (See pages 71-2).
April 22nd: In Rome there are scuffles between PCI and Autonomy militants in San Lorenzo. Police intervene, applauded by the PCI militants, and shoot off teargas indiscriminately all over the neighbourhood, hitting a cinema. Cossiga prohibits all demonstrations in Rome until May 31st. He gives standing orders to police to open fire on any demonstrations which are considered to be "armed attacks on the State". This prohibition period includes April 25th (the anniversary of the liberation from Fascism) and May 1st (the workers! traditional Mayday) - both of which are traditional dates for Left-wing proletarian demonstrations. The PCI and the Unions, in order to comply with the Order, self-dissolve an open-air meeting of their own that had begun before the Order was known to the public.
April 25th: In Rome a few hundred comrades assemble at the Fosse Ardeatine, scene of SS German wartime massacres of innocent citizens, defying Cossiga's ban
April 30th: Lotta Continua condemns the strong-arm tactics by the Autonomists, breaking up a movement assembly on the evening of April 28th. LC says it will no longer tolerate this.
May 1st: Mayday. In Rome the Labour Union Confederations obtain special permission to hold a mass, open-air meeting. The movement splits. Most of the comrades decide to go to the Union meeting, in a body. The Autonomy militants gather in a different square, where they are attacked by police with helicopter support. Revolutionary free radio reports that 350-400 people are held by police for questioning, and that the Union "heavy squad" protective cordons beat up comrades who are carrying revolutionary newspapers, and hand over two comrades to the police.
This split, between the "official labour movement", dominated by the PCI and the Unions, and the unofficial “Movement“, is the theme that will dominate the contents of this pamphlet.
This pamphlet is now divided into 3 sections:-
The first section deals with the stormy events of Bologna, March 1977. It tells what happened, and outlines a broad analysis of the forces in play in Italy today: particularly the Communist Party and the broad revolutionary movement which opposes it.
The second section describes some major events that have taken place in Italy in 1977 - events which happened in Rome, but were of national significance. The strength of the growing Movement is outlined, together with the strength of the growing repression.
The third section gives a short outline of the state of the revolutionary Left, and concentrates particularly on the developments inside one of them - Lotta Continua - since their recent major Conference. It ends with a short account of what is happening inside the labour movement.