17. The exhaustion of the radical current during the period of reflux
We are now living in tragic and bloody times. The current crisis simultaneously displays the classical features of an economic recession in the strict sense of the term (unemployment, overproduction, overexploitation, unbridled competition, export of disaster to Africa and Latin America) and also in a broader sense as well (inability to control the world situation,1 financial collapse, starvation, war, and the demented destruction of the environment and natural resources).
Together with all the other aspects of general bankruptcy denounced by the radical theory of the seventies, by way of the demystification of the “apocalypse” of capital, all the inter-ethnic, racial and religious conflicts that once seemed to be left behind in a previous epoch of capitalist development have returned to occupy the historical stage. Capital has resolved none of the problems that it unleashed during the period of its planetary expansion at the end of the nineteenth century. Within the citadels of capitalist hyper-development the unresolved pathologies of society (crime, blind violence, psychosis), the symptoms of a profound crisis, are established as the daily nightmare of millions of proletarians.
More than ever before it is becoming obvious that we need theoretical weapons capable of destroying the deception of the false alternatives that have been given new life by the conflicts and the chaos that have engulfed the south and east of “civilized” Europe, and which now are infiltrating its ghettoes in the form of racism, Islamic fundamentalism and fascism, all the things that at the beginning of our history appeared to be residues of the past, condemned without any hope of resurgence. The principles of the communist program must serve to analyze and fight them, points of reference that we cannot only derive from our present, from the museum of horrors that besets us. The communist positions on world war, on internationalism, and on racial and national questions, are all completely relevant today; outside of those principles there is no perspective that does not lead to war and massacres. And together with these principles, the complex and varied “radical critique” constitutes the most complete synthesis of the recent revolutionary movement in the metropolis of capitalism. This movement, globally more rich and extensive than radical communism itself—which is only a component, which is besides limited in time—expresses the new contents that have enriched the communist perspective.
With notable coherence, Giorgio Cesarano, contributing his own historical perspective on the movement of 1968, spoke of “radical critique” to refer to the precursors embodied by the Situationist International—and to a lesser extent by Socialism or Barbarism—in France, and by Ludd—and to a lesser degree by the Organizzazione Consigliare and by Comontism—in Italy. Cesarano was interested in the new and different manifestations of the workers movement and the revolutionary tradition. Our current focus is different. Today we must seek a greater historical grounding in the face of the storms of the present, and therefore we situate ourselves more profoundly in space and time, resuming the study (which was temporarily frozen in its provisional conclusions) of the theory of Marx and of its partial resurgence during the twenties (in the sixties, for example, it was inconceivable that the Balkan crisis or the Turkish-Armenian conflict should occupy the front rank of our concerns and dominate the headlines in the newspapers).
Clearly taking into consideration his own historical premises, Cesarano’s theory indefinitely opened up towards the future, towards the revolutionary perspective, and was devoted to the immense task of contributing his own reasons and his own instruments to the future revolution, which was sensed to be much closer than we can sense its presence today. In this open-ended labor he believed that he was implicating the radical journals and groups of his time (Invariance, Errata, Négation) and a whole mass of individuals and situations—at the center of which was Puzz-Situazione Creativa—which seemed to be making headway during the mid-seventies. As a result, we must not be deceived by the false impression of anachronism that his writings might display: they comprised an open, inconclusive quest, anxious to confront other contributions. Instead, Cesarano remained isolated. The theoretical current of which he was a part had faded away. The decline after 1968 seriously weakened the radical current, which, towards the end of the decade had become almost incapable of producing critical analyses, and during the eighties was only capable of making sporadic and isolated contributions, that were no longer—in our opinion—attributable to a collective point of view.
The gradual disintegration of radical theory was marked by two basic deficiencies: the desire for theoretical innovation at any price, and the lack of practical, social solutions, which degenerated into a passive nihilist attitude.
Cesarano himself, and along with him, a considerable part of the membership of Ludd, perceived the revolutionary movement as something completely new, and by no means as the heir of the preceding revolutionary tradition. This perception produced in him the demand for a new grand synthesis that would clearly supersede the contingent limitations of the moment, and to which he devoted himself with the passionate spirit of an explorer, completely submerging himself in a great theoretical battle that was fought simultaneously on the enemy fronts of the economy, psychoanalysis, linguistics, etc.
But Cesarano, even when he left behind the confines of classical revolutionary theory—which he thought was being superseded or was on the way to being superseded by the “new” theory that would inevitably emerge from the new revolution—not even then did he abandon it to proceed to the terrain of reformism, of pacifism or any other “conciliatory” ideology of capital.
Many other people, on the other hand, considered theoretical innovation not as a means to expropriate the science of capital, but as a means to expropriate revolutionary principles themselves.
Following this tendency, many revolutionaries began to pursue one theoretical novelty after another, one discovery after another, until they completely and definitively renounced all revolutionary premises and perspectives. Among those who were closest to Cesarano, we have already mentioned the 180-degree turn taken by Invariance. We may also cite the case of Gianni-Emilio Simonetti, decidedly opportunist in his search for a way to leave revolutionary theory behind, a way he found in the “critical” deep analysis of all the cultural and philosophical tendencies of the moment.
The dissolution of the movement into society favored the retreat of many of our comrades into passive nihilism. We have already emphasized how in Cesarano the critique of the ideology of everyday life did not lead to any kind of relaxation of individual tension, or to any reduction of the level of the critique that was always directed against alienated “life”. In many cases, however, the loss of social commitment simply meant a surrender even in everyday life, a return to all the old habits, to the powerful inertia of the provincial and family structure typical of Italian society.
Frequently, the ideological terrorism of the communists was opposed by an attitude that was nothing but its mirror image; that is, a legalist and conformist, passive attitude, incapable of discovering the reasons for revolt in the moment in which one no longer felt the hot, lively atmosphere of the struggle and the collective social critique. For many, the dissolution of Ludd, for example, meant a return to their previous ways of life, or their insertion into university institutions, etc.
In some cases, Adorno and the Frankfurt School—two of Cesarano’s main theoretical reference points—exercised a negative effect in this sense. While it is true that for Cesarano the dialectical tension that distinguished him from the German “critics”, separated from the revolutionary movement, was always very clear, it is also true that their attitude of critical distance became the object of vulgar imitation, which was the preliminary stage to a conformist acceptance of the present and of mere survival.
We could refer to many individual cases, but what interests us in this context is emphasizing the general weakening of the revolutionary current. In this situation it was even possible to make a “counterrevolutionary” use of Cesarano himself. One typical blunder was made by those who arrived at the “critique of politics” at the very moment when—from 1975 on—the social situation began to open up once again. The sabotage of Puzz was part of this deviation (see the two issues of Provocazione). Partly as a reaction to the Comontist crypto-group that collaborated with Puzz (Comontism, although it had dissolved, still existed informally until 1977),2 some of the journal’s contributors imitated the attitude of Invariance: the destruction of all organizational forms, even informal ones, as well as of all collective expressions, including any practical activity or intervention in collaboration with the broad-based social movement that was then beginning to develop. It is certainly the case that the resurgence of the social effervescence that had so encouraged Cesarano at the end of his life was liquidated under the accusation of being mere “politics” or “nihilism”, a typical discovery of those who had recently encountered radical theory.3 Likewise, the fragile group, Quarto Oggiaro, formed by very young boys (who were moving to other cities) was sabotaged, in order to advance “critical subjectivity”.4 Cesarano’s work contains the notion of “self-creative genesis”, but not as something that is opposed to the coherent and collective activity of a community or a group. Instead, this concept was popularized as subjectivism, individualism and praise for isolation (against which Cesarano had carried out an energetic struggle), which led to the typical cases of the “self-valorization of the Ego” fomented by the roles of creative and intellectual and highbrow critic, roles that are obviously quite seductive for those young people who came to radical critique armed with a careerist spirit. Evidently, some of them were to settle into the most ancient litany of artistic self-valorization and philosophical regression. The worst possible use of Cesarano! His theory was betrayed by seizing on that feeling of emptiness produced by the excessive scope of his vision, which made his exposition too abstract, which at times made it seem to be dealing exclusively with philosophy. This characteristic that confused the revolutionary reader of his texts, who strove to understand Cesarano in a balanced way, was used as leverage by those who wanted to create for themselves a role as authors of moral aphorisms. Thus, the regression towards the terrain of philosophy, intellectuality and art was complete, a terrain that Cesarano thought that he had irreversibly destroyed.
In Cesarano’s work, the reckless attitude that privileged the gestures of violence, revolt and madness, was necessarily less elaborated than his analysis of the enemy’s theories. It was therefore a simple matter, perhaps by adding a dash of the critique of contemporary nihilism, to consider as obsolete his few formulations that clearly defended the revolt of the insane or the criminals, extrapolating those that instead kept their distance from the manifestations of the existing movement, or which emphasized the partial nature of the particular conflict or its recuperation. This is the basis upon which some people justified their withdrawal towards a separate critique, hostile to the real, but without even a shred of Cesarano’s destructive passion, which at times armed his critique with a heroic furor. These caricatures of Adorno, which pursued the exercise of critique as a kind of careerist pastime, did not even notice the blind rage that animated the autonomists who chased Luciano Lama away at the University of Rome; nor did they see the brute necessity that drove the unemployed of the metropolis to occupy houses, loot supermarkets, and to exploit the contradictions that had momentarily been reopened in social reproduction by assuring their survival by means of theft, throwing themselves into the confrontations with the police with a joy born of long-repressed rage and an accumulation of frustrations. The problem certainly was not that they were too violent, or that the movement often had too many guns. However, even these elementary critiques emerged from the radical current when it was in decline in 1977.
There were also misunderstandings concerning the question of “total capital”.5 This point, of central importance, for example, in the Critica dell’utopia capitale, was assimilated without a minimum of caution by the fastidious radical neo-critics, who wanted to make people believe that the revolutionary process was a strictly internal fact, that it involved a struggle oriented solely towards stripping the capitalist carapace from oneself. This perspective sought to concretize a set of relations between autonomous individuals “at the highest level of theory”, as Invariance had sought to do in its time.
Isolation thus became a factor of self-valorization: each member of the theoretical elect carried within himself his seed of value, reflecting the self-complacency of the others. In the midst of the events of 1977 this attitude implied passive nihilism, neutralism, and the abandonment of the revolutionary camp, now stripped of all meaning. This hyper-subjectivism led to the pure and simple abandonment of the individual front of the struggle (the critique of everyday life); the final result was invariably passive nihilism.
18. The great opportunity of 1977
Towards the end of 1976, while the few “radical” core groups present in various cities of Italy had a tendency to adopt a vapid attitude of superiority that made them incapable of carrying out any effective interventions, there were occasions when they had the opportunity to meet with the Circoli del Proletariato Giovanile and with the incipient Autonomia Operaia.
To mention only one example of this attitude, we have already considered the unfortunate results obtained by Provocazione, the journal that replaced Puzz, with such great theoretical ambitions.
Beginning in late 1976, on the occasion of the experience of the Circoli del Proletariato Giovanile, foreshadowed by the confrontations in the spring of 1975, the Italian situation rapidly began to open up, offering the revolutionaries rich opportunities of communication with the social.
The appearance on the political stage of the politics propagated by Autonomia Operaia is not in itself anything new. In fact, one may consider Autonomia Operaia as a form of consistent leftist militantism. Its success can be basically explained by its clear choice of illegality and violence. The confusion that was thus unleashed in the political schemes of the autonomous groups opened up a breach through which the metropolitan incontrolados were able to erupt.
At the end of 1976, proletarian expropriations took place one after the other on a massive scale. The Circoli del Proletariato Giovanile led the young people of the outer suburbs of the cities to carry out occupations of houses in the downtown areas. In Milan, the State University, a temple of Stalinism, was mercilessly attacked.
The great movements of Rome and Bologna during the first few months of 1977 realized the dreams of the great armed revolts in a way that was contrary to and separate from the political-trade union mafias, revolts that the radicals had dreamed of for so many years. 1977 never attained the scale, the social profundity or the duration of the previous movement of 1967-1969; it did, however, lead to a situation that was more favorable for radical communism.
This time, the militant politics of the splinter groups that had for so many years constituted an obstacle and a ball and chain on the movement, and with which we either did not want or were incapable of settling accounts, unexpectedly embraced the fierce and intransigent critique that emerged from the movement that expressed as its own the premise of the demand to fight for themselves, for the life of each person, against sacrifice, against boredom, against work, in order to immediately transform themselves, openly confronting in this struggle the state of siege of the world of commodities.
Also, this time the Stalinist bloc of the PCI-CGIL was identified as the enemy: the latter openly took up positions against the movement, and for the first time completely lost control of the streets.
The situation in Bologna, which was at first very promising, witnessed the entrance on the stage of Radio Alice-A/traverso, which, with its formula of neo-dadaism even dared to resurrect the ideas of the situationists. This fact—disregarding for now the extreme ambiguity of this collective,6 which returned to the ranks of order after the repression that followed the events of March—demonstrates the enormous potential that opened up for the revolutionary movement, on which the latter was unable to capitalize.
Autonomia Operaia of Rome, which had a significant organization, supported by a very articulate and deeply-rooted social base, placed its considerable technical resources, primarily Radio Onda Rossa, at the disposal of the “radicals”, so great was its hunger for theory and its need for ideas and perspectives to confront the attempts to isolate it and silence it after the battles of March.
The autonomists of the Via dei Volsci were too brutal and direct to be digestible even by the iron stomachs of the professional recuperators. The latter completely lacked the ability to convert them into intellectuals, and their arrogant fifties-style militantism rendered them incapable of introducing new fashions into the movement, which is why they tried to fit them into the very modern role of cultural workers. Inevitably, the autonomists had no other choice than to tenaciously oppose everything that did not serve their primary goal: to set fire to the city of Rome a couple of times a month, in the course of a series of confrontations with the police that were conducted with great intelligence and a perfect tactical sense of proportion.
These were people who had nothing to do with radical theory: they went to war with great organizational capacity; their encounter with the supporters of radical theory was positive and constituted an exception in those years of shameful surrender.
In these very favorable circumstances the only outlet for the radicals was the journal, Insurrezione, whose production, among other things, was the responsibility of the few elements who published it as a complement to the frenetic adventure that had opened up in the beautiful Italian cities in revolt.
It is also true that a high price had to be paid for their “active nihilism”: just when the young people of Autonomia Operaia were leaving the organizations, sick and tired of being used as tools by the opportunist leadership of Toni Negri, there was a component of radical provenance that entirely misunderstood this exodus and, instead of satisfying the widespread need for theoretical support, of experience and lucidity—which the movement, which was extremely disarmed from this point of view, very much needed—allowed themselves to be trapped by their inferiority complex vis-à-vis the militarists of political terrorism, and tried to compete with them on their own terrain. The case of Azione Rivoluzionaria was the clearest example of this self-lacerating trend, and its disastrous result bordered on self-destruction. There were also other cases—fortunately not so spectacular—of grotesque and impotent imitation of that militarism that was one of the weakest aspects of 1977.
The movement of 1977 was almost entirely composed of very young elements. The reappearance of a “creative wing” expressed the profound need to break with the political sphere, in order to seek new theoretical tools that were adequate for the subversion of all the roles of survival. In the absence of the radical current, which had melted like snow in the summer sun in the first months of 1977 when it faced the first concrete difficulties of the movement—which was quite effectively attacked by State repression (a repression that was openly supported by the PCI and the extraparliamentary left)—what was effectively expressed in the “creative wing” was the weakest and most opportunist tendency, which tended to oppose coherent and intransigent conduct, thus becoming one of so many “brakes” on the movement.
It must be pointed out that this collective experience in which we participated, once it was exhausted, had not reached the level of the previous five years.
Some people resented the class that did not “want” to be revolutionary. Hence the analyses that denied the concept of the class struggle, that viewed the proletariat as counterrevolutionary and which praised immediatism, all the more so if it was aggressive, violent and insane. In general, it was this psychological-theoretical attitude that cleared the way for active, armed nihilism. Discouragement with regard to the revolutionary class—which was no longer the betrayed, but the betrayer—led to the substitution of the proletariat by the revolutionary vanguard itself, determined to take up arms on its own. This tendency tried to blackmail the entire world, spreading guilt feelings, in the cities where the confrontations were most acute, with respect to the victims that the repression rapidly began to produce in its ranks. This enterprise did not last very long, however, due to its weak organizational structure. Its glow was only a reflection of that of the Stalinists of the Brigate Rosse.7
Other people, instead, by assigning the preponderant role to theory, ended up identifying the revolution with the production of any pamphlet in which everything and everybody was criticized. This tendency, which had precedents in the passive nihilism described above, had a disastrous effect: revolutionary passion was replaced by grotesque intellectual ambitions. This attitude was most typically spread in the tranquil reality of the provinces, where any appearance of knowledge led to self-valorization. Or, in other circumstances, lacking occasions to criticize the leftism of the autonomists, the “theory” of the radicals drowned in sterility due to a lack of an object, and due to the practice of secluding itself in its accustomed isolation, satisfied with proclaiming just how real the red mafia was. These two tendencies could have found an antidote in the work of Cesarano, if they could have understood it. Among other things, Cesarano provides all the information for a critique of the processes of self-valorization of the ego and for the indisputable rejection of the putrid paths of art and culture. And in the Cronaca di un ballo mascherato—written in collaboration with Piero Coppo and Joe Falissi—he had undertaken a prescient and exhaustive critique of the development and destiny of the ideology of armed struggle.
Of course, when we speak of the radical experience we want to set forth a historical balance sheet, and seek to depict a current in order to supersede it. This does not mean that those of us who formed part of this current will not continue to act within the confines of and to develop the same perspective; in fact, the absolute intransigence of the radical communist current in the face of all the attempts to recuperate it is what has allowed a revolutionary tendency to continue to be expressed to this very day.8 Insurrezione produced a total of five issues between 1977 and 1981. In Milan, a group of “radicals”, now united with the core group of Collegamenti, tried to form a radio station between 1979 and 1981 (Radio Black-out, with Rosso). We already mentioned the experience of Maelström. We should at least also mention the two notable contributions by Mario Lippolis: "Teoria radicale, lotta di classe (el terrorismo)"9 and Ben venga Maggio e’l gonfalon selvaggio10 (the latter text, among other things, offers a comprehensive analysis of the radical current, which delimits it historically by following a periodization that has obviously influenced our analysis).
Ultimately, these latter interventions belong to a new era, that of the great retreat that followed 1977: the last two issues of Insurrezione were almost entirely devoted to an analysis of this retreat; Maelström, like us, sought to set forth a critical balance sheet of the seventies, from which it sought to derive a new perspective.
In our current situation we are reliving, with all its tragic impact, the “questions of race and nation” and this will undoubtedly be a cornerstone of critique in the immediate future. The internationalist perspective, the need to abolish nations, religions, and racism, will once again arise with full relevance at a time when the world is devastated by nationalism, racism and the new religious fundamentalisms.
The Italian situation today is itself distinguished by localism and racism, which not only impose the issues that we will have to inevitably confront, but also impose the terms under which we shall have to address the question of communism, which is posed precisely as the antithesis of the particularisms that have been revitalized by the decrepit capitalism of our time.
That long historical period is now past when such questions appeared to have been superseded by a totalitarian capital that had managed to homogenize all the social classes and unify the entire planet under its rule, reducing the ethno-religious conflicts of Asia and Africa to the role of scarecrows of the news-spectacle. This was undoubtedly an illusion shared by radical theory (and by Cesarano himself since the time of “L’utopia capitalista”), which neglected the analysis of certain contradictions that had seemingly been overcome in order to seek a higher synthesis, far from the bloody terrain of history, in part escaping from the oppositions of the present. This analytical weakness was a product of the illusions generated by the subversive movement of 1968: at times, radical theory has allowed itself to be dazzled by “total capital”, which was capable of assimilating into its own image all the conflicts that had been left unresolved by the era of war and colonialism.
The revolutionary movement of the last few decades, however, must not be underestimated in favor of the classical revolutionary tradition, which also was confirmed by current events. This is true because this movement has contributed irreversible changes in the collective consciousness of a necessary supersession.
In particular, the experience of the “counterculture” movement of the past, even though it has for some time now been recuperated in order to make profits on the market and has been disseminated in the form of consumable products, nonetheless contributed a fundamental awareness, a knowledge of the first importance, developed in all its scope by radical critique and especially by Cesarano; but it is also expressed in feminism, in the youth movement—especially the American youth movement—and in all those who have explored the borders of madness, the attempts to expand human consciousness and potential: the modern revolution profoundly questions the principle of personal and collective identity, the ego as a separate and hierarchically ruling space, and self-reflective thought itself. The modern revolution gazes into the abyss of the instincts, of the unconscious, and of the repressed, in order to take flight towards the search for ecstasy, towards the supersession of individuality in the dialectic that connects us to the worlds that surround us. The decade of 1967-1977 irreversibly transformed revolutionary subjectivity and its mode of perception. In this sense, it returned to the paths of religious tradition and magic, in order to reveal knowledge that had been monopolized for centuries by the esotericism of pre-capitalist ruling castes.
These conclusions lead us beyond the limits of this discussion. However, in his texts Cesarano proposed a possible way of approaching this adventure of knowledge, rejecting the impossible return to traditions, without denying their profound kernel of truth. The supersession of capital implies the supersession of archaic traditions, which are now being extinguished under the degradation of everything to a mere economic function. The current resurgence of religion and of profound traditions linked to the people and the race, are only reworked versions of the internal conflicts of capitalism and, in reality, are always contrary to the interests of the proletariat, which does not have, and has not had for a long time, any national or religious interest to defend. Those who today present themselves as forces that embody tradition are only the most aggressive and bloodthirsty fractions of world capital, which are regimenting the proletariat in monstrous communities subject to totalitarian ideologies. None of the modern, grotesquely communitarian national-religious ideologies11 have anything to do with the contents of tradition: they are only manifestations of the decrepit “modernity” of contemporary capital.
The essence of the current supersession of tradition—the supersession of the limits of the individual Ego—is everywhere and can be rediscovered. For this search as well, the Critica dell’utopia capitale contributes valid foundations. With regard to both its merits as well as its weaknesses, this perspective allows us to accede to a new level of reading, perhaps one that is more profound and authentic, of the work that we have just explored.
- 1Some zones of Africa have been abandoned to chaos (Zaire, Uganda, Burundi, Liberia, Angola, Rwanda). The fiasco of the American “New Order” in Somalia is obvious. In other parts of Africa, there has been a total economic collapse. The disaster in Algeria directly threatens Europe. In Latin America, guerrillas operate in extensive regions. It is doubtful whether Russia can contain the wars in the republics of the former Soviet Union.
- 2During the mid-seventies Comontism’s ideology of crime, which until then had been an indignant provocation for the left—hence the incredible calumnies, repeated on other occasions, which in 1975, two years after the dissolution of the group, blamed the Comontists for the destruction by arson of the PSDI headquarters in Milan—had been transformed into a diffuse practice among the incontrolados of the urban periphery. The original core group of Comontism continued to exist even after the formal dissolution of the group, and made a major contribution, among other activities, to the theoretical development of Puzz, which ultimately convinced even Cesarano, who was anxious to discover a human solution that could effectively help spread his ideas.
Toni Negri was a diligent recuperator of Comontism, which provided him with the material for his new proprietary theory of “proletarian self-valorization” (sic!), which was his warhorse and also that of the “reds” in the years when Autonomia Operaia enjoyed its greatest success.
This delayed recuperation practiced by Negri—who once refused to defend Riccardo d’Este from the calumny that he was a fascist, despite the fact that he had known him from the days of Classe Operiai—gave way to an apology for the illegal violent youth gangs of the days of the proletarian expropriations. If we use the word, “apology”, it is in order to make it perfectly clear that the Negrist vision completely lacks the notion of “ridding ourselves of all the old shit”, which was very much present in revolutionary theory and Comontism: the idea that the revolution implied the critique and abolition of the proletariat.
- 3We do not mean to say that we had rediscovered the Nietzschean theory of nihilism and its application to phenomena of contemporary social life. One of the main characteristics of the journal Provocazione and its precursors was the use of the category, “nihilism” to designate all the manifestations of the movement of 1977: the Red Brigades, Autonomia Operaia, the youth movements in general, violence (invariably baptized as “aggression”, insofar as real violence was a “good” concept), social confrontations (always “false” and defined as “an absence of confrontation”). Positions of this kind may be summarized in the following way: all practical struggle was reduced to active nihilism; “theory” consisted in destroying everything and in using the “correct” terminology (although often without knowing its meaning: the typical foolishness of Provocazione would have been laughable had it not been part of a tendency that exercised such a disarming influence).
- 4The same thing basically happened to the political left, within which, just as it was beginning to perceive that 1977 was serious and implied the risk of throwing overboard years of preparation for a political career, witnessed a massive exodus to pacifism, legalism, reformism and the Radical Party: the haste of this flight suggested that during those years everyone had access to a television, which inevitably showed the blank stare of Lotta Continua disguised as a leader of the most varied programs of cultural entertainment. Scalzone and Piperno (former Potere Operaio) complained for many years that they had suffered an injustice because they were not properly recompensed for their long years of service to leftism. After all, everyone else had been rewarded with well-paid positions! But to have a right to enter into such competition you have to be perfectly clear—once March of 1977 came around—which side you were on. The pleadings for admission to the gravy train of professional ideologues presented after the deadline were not considered valid.
To continue in the vein of macabre humor, we shall recall that even Re Nudo, the arch-enemy of Max Capa, as the temperature of 1977 rose a few degrees, was also enlightened with “creative subjectivity”, but not so as to use it to engage in a hyper-critique like that of the always-revolutionary Capa, but in order to associate it with the eclectic religiosity of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, so as to clear the way to resignation. Overall, everyone, from John Travolta to the Brahma, was used to demobilize the violent and pitiless youth movement of 1977 and to protect the good name of the holy asshole (all of this was denounced at the time by Insurrezione, in a pamphlet entitled, “Proletari se voi sapeste…”, Milan, 1980).
- 5Capital can no longer be identified with any particular separate economic or structural sphere, but is identical with the social, having become the alienated subjectivity of the species.
- 6This group, representative of the “creative wing” of Autonomia Operaia, made contact on various occasions with the few radical communists who during this period were interested in the trivial questions that were considered to be part of the real movement. The human elements that composed Radio Alice, however, were interested in playing the role of intellectuals, seeing the possibility of using this role in the future to integrate themselves into the culture industry. Their perspective did not go beyond that of survival. This is surprising, because the journal A/traverso, at least before 1977, had offered critical evaluations of the movement with some absolutely excellent interventions, at least compared to the theoretical level of the rest of the autonomists. Radio Alice, ultimately, was simply brilliant, and was the real central motor force of the movement in Bologna. It was, evidently, a group that knew how to express the demand of the enormous mass of the students and deviants of all stripes who gravitated around the university milieu in Bologna, helping to initiate a real chain reaction. From that moment on, they began to fear the fire that they had done so much to start. They therefore fell entirely into Cesarano’s category of “self-valorization”: they only tried to use their identity as revolutionaries in order to accede to that other identity, that they so coveted, that of cultural workers, and thus really fell into Toni Negri’s category of the most prosaic “self-valorization”. Once things reached this point, their meetings with the “radicals”, according to what we have heard, were nothing but dialogues of the deaf.
- 7Red Brigades [Note of the Spanish Translator].
- 8We would also like to mention, as recent reference points outside of Italy, the following journals: Encyclopédie des Nuisances, Les mauvais Jours finiront…, La Guerre sociale, La Banquise, Le Brise-Glace, Mordicus, Théorie Communiste, and Temps Critiques.
- 9In Raoul Vaneigem, Terrorismo o rivoluzione, followed by Wolf Woland, "Teoria radicale, lotta di classe (el terrorismo). Appunti per il bilancio di un’epoca", Nautilus, Turin, 1982.
- 10Published by the Accademia dei Testardi, Milan, 1987.
- 11As a curiosity, that would rapidly be revealed to be absolute foolishness, we shall cite the attempt to “rehabilitate” the religious pseudo-community undertaken in 1979 by Lotta Continua, which ended up in a feverish defense of the Shiite movement of Khomeini, who soon revealed himself as not only an obedient subject of international capitalist rationality, but also as an extraordinarily sadistic vampire of the proletariat and the oppressed nationalities of Iran, even worse than the Cossack torturers of Pahlevi and his son.