A - I n f o s
a multi-lingual news service by, for, and about anarchists **

News in all languages
Last 40 posts (Homepage) Last two weeks' posts

The last 100 posts, according to language
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�_ The.Supplement

The First Few Lines of The Last 10 posts in:
Castellano_ Deutsch_ Nederlands_ English_ Français_ Italiano_ Polski_ Português_ Russkyi_ Suomi_ Svenska_ Trk�
First few lines of all posts of last 24 hours || of past 30 days | of 2002 | of 2003 | of 2004 | of 2005 | of 2006 | of 2007

Syndication Of A-Infos - including RDF | How to Syndicate A-Infos
Subscribe to the a-infos newsgroups
{Info on A-Infos}

(en) Rebel Worker Book Reviews: On Italian Autonomism & Class War - Storming Heaven – “Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism” by Steve Wright

Date Fri, 13 Jul 2007 18:17:20 +0300

In the wake of the crushing of the workers’ uprising and workers’ councils in Hungary during 1956 by the Red Army, an acceleration occurred in the de-Stalinisation process through out much of the international communist party movement. Associated with this trend was a ferment characterised by intense internal debates and discussion concerning the Stalinist legacy and the crystallisation of strong social democratic currents favouring collaboration with the capitalist set up opposed by revolutionary currents favouring a return to orthodox Leninism and workers control and pursuit of the class struggle. A major battle ground in the Communist world involving this clash was in the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the allied Italian Socialist Party (PSI) from the late 1950’s to the late 1970’s, is focused upon in this book under review. It looks particularly at the emergence and activity of eventually an archipelago of groupings known as the “Operaismo” or “Workerists” composed initially of dissident PSI and PCI intellectuals – students, academics and party functionaries, associated such journals as “Quaderni Rossi”, “Classe Operaia”, “Potere Operaio” and “Primo Maggio”. This movement later on during major upsurges in the class struggle during the 1960’s and 1970’s spread to workplaces in various sectors such as the Italian Petro Chemical Industry at Porto Marghera. These groupings clashed strongly with the mainstream tendencies in the PCI and PSI favouring the “ PCI’s Historic Compromise” and participation in the Italian Government to help with the management of the capitalist set up.

The author shows that the early “Workerists” favoured “workers control”, encouraged an aggressive approach toward the class struggle amongst workers and provided analyses of contemporary capitalism and the working class and reportage of workers experiences to facilitate this orientation. One of the most important aspects of their work was the conducting of “Workers’ Inquiries” involving research projects based on interviewing workers at such major manufacturing firms as FIAT and Olivetti concerning their experiences of the labour process and their behaviour. Another crucial dimension of the “Workerists” activity was the rediscovery of the lost syndicalist and councilist traditions of the workers’ movement with the publication of analyses and discussion of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) in the USA which favoured the building of revolutionary industrial unions and the workers, soldiers and sailors council movement in Germany following the end of WWI.

Unfortunately, perhaps due to the hold of the Leninist/Stalinist legacy even within the extreme anti-parliamentary left, the “Workerists” did not pursue the project of establishing a syndicalist union movement in Italy during the late 1960’s and early 1970’s when due to the massive upsurge in workers’ struggles, conditions were most favourable. Consequently, with the decline in the class struggle in the mid 70’s accompanied by mass lay offs, culminating in the massive uprooting of militant workers movement at FIAT in the early 1980’s, and a wave of fascist violence and state repression directed against the extra-parliamentary left, the author shows that the “Workerist” groupings seeking to force the rhythm of the anti-capitalist movement increasingly took on authoritarian vanguard style Leninist features and embarked on armed struggle against the forces of the State. Culminating in the complete demise of the movement by the early 1980’s.

In conclusion, the author does useful work in discussing the origin and activity of the “Workerists”, but could do with a more adequate discussion of the impact of the Stalinist legacy on its failure to develop a syndicalist trajectory, which in many ways had potentialities in this direction and final demise. Certainly in such countries as in Australia today, the Stalinist legacy in the shape of the “activist unwisdom” associated with elitist posturing and related shady and underhanded behaviour of stacking and general orchestration of meetings, psychological manipulation, etc and anti-intellectual orientation is very widespread within the anti-globalist movement, and the general anti-capitalist milieux.

Mark McGuire
From RW Vol.26 No.1 (195) April-May 2007

Bash The Rich by Ian Bone, Tangent Books

The legacy of mass Stalinism in the shape of the Communist parties for many decades in the 20^th Century and the subsequent hatching of Trotskyist/Maoist groupings has established hegemony within the anti-capitalist milieux in much of the Anglo-European World for the building of vanguardist leftist sects. Groupings which are fundamentally existential – existing and growing for their own sake to maintain micro bureaucracies and expanded egos of party gurus. They are characterised by elitist orientations with often ridiculous pretensions to resolve every issue under the sun and associated correct positions and the pursuit of endless opportunistic campaigns. These groupings often manifest extreme Stalinist tendencies involving the resort to all manner of devious tricks to manipulate campaigns and their members.

Converging with this legacy was the upsurge in the late 1960’s of students, sectors of the lower middle class and some sectors with high levels of autonomy in their jobs, with little experience of the class struggle into the anti-capitalist milieux and a decline in militant worker involvement. The influx of these layers is associated with the interconnected expansion of tertiary education, the welfare state and union bureaucracies since the 1960’s and the successes of the global employer offensive since the late 1970’s. These marginal layers due to their objective lack of involvement in the class struggle, often develop a defused focus on the various misdeeds of capitalism and being attracted to the divisive and irrational bourgeois ideology of “identity politics” with all its absurd notions of “monolithic” imaginary communities of oppressed “women”, “queers”, “blacks”, “indigenous”, etc and a worship of the autonomous organising of these groups.

The Stalinist legacy merges seamlessly with this reactionary divisive bourgeois ideology producing all manner of bizarre antics within the leftist milieux, particularly navel gazing political correctness displays and a pseudo religious climate within such groups and at various public meetings/centres.

To varying degrees, the largest groupings in the anarchist/syndicalist milieux in Britain since the 1960’s have been severely affected by this leftist influence, particularly the DAM/SF (Direct Action Movement/Solidarity Federation), ACF/AF (Anarchist Communist Federation/Anarchist Federation), Class War Federation and the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World). In the case of the DAM/SF, it has involved in redefining anarcho-syndicalism into a sect building formula. Involving a “Globalist” conception focusing on all manner of issues, outside the job. Certainly, with the formation of a mass syndicalist union movement, it would cooperate with other groupings in the community on various campaigns eg residents groups to wage rent strikes, but contemporary British syndicalism is very far from that situation. Whilst, a certain layer in it, view its very few, small and fragile industrial networks as the “buildings blocks” of mass syndicalist unionism, which indicates an extreme pretension. In the case of the ACF/AF, it confuses participation in the formalist structures and rituals and opportunistic “organising” of the IWW with the serious organising which could establish genuine mass syndicalism. The IWW has particularly displayed an “existential syndicalist orientation” with its “strategically senseless “organising” amongst Scottish “parliamentary workers” including members of parliament, achieving its largest “shop” organisation.

The book under review focuses on the memoirs of Ian Bone, founder of the Class War paper who was deeply entangled in this exotic fringe of the British Left subculure. Initially, the author sketches his working class origins as the child of domestic servants. This working class connection brought the author some contact with reality of the “Workers’ Councils”which was influential in the Solidarity milieux. It of course fails to take into account the need to build the coordinated on the job organisation in the here and now, for workers to fight the bosses. Support for “Workers’ Councils” became an important feature of the Class War groups ideology.

However, due to his chance encounter with some members of the urban guerrilla “Angry Brigade”, the author made a “U-Turn” from serious syndicalist style activity into the wilds of the left subculture. The most important manifestation of this turn was his launching together with others of “Class War”. This group and subsequent federation has been noted for its support and claims for organising various spectacular stunts and riotous outbreaks against the capitalist set up. It has also sought and attained considerable media attention through this activity and the lurid rhetoric “eat the rich”, “kill the cops” of its paper. This notoriety and the 15,000 to 20,000 claimed circulation of the paper has not led to any led to any mass anarchist/syndicalist upsurge amongst workers, as Bone hoped. However, congeries of class war style sects and youth subcultures have appeared, some of these sects having strong Stalinist tendencies.

The book particularly focuses on Class War’s involvement in the British Miners’ Strike of 1984-85. The authors recalls how Class War’s often extreme attacks on the capitalist set and support for the miners encouraged the spontaneous emergence of Class War groups throughout the country which helped with picketing and other activity for miners. Whilst the author emphasised the importance of inspiring and organising riots in the urban areas to divert the police and assist the miners action. However, the author fails to take into account the importance of solidarity action by workers in other strategic sectors, which was not forth coming and decisively contributed to the defeat of the miners. Any discussion of strategic organising to assist this solidarity action was absent in Class War. Its second conference discussed on p188-191, shows ample evidence of its left sub cultural “corroboree” feature and an extreme absence of a scientific climate, with its degeneration into a discussion of politically correct “sexual lifestyles”. Shades of Maoist practices, which the author appears to recognise, but was unable to tackle.

The book concludes with the authors recollections of various riotous stunts Class War organised such as the 1985 Bash The Rich demos, the Henley Regatta action and the disruption of CND and Labour Party conferences amongst other actions. With the subsequent, better organisation of police intervention, increased repressive legislation and the massive growth of CCTV’s, the scope for this activity has been severely limited in Britain particularly in recent years.

In conclusion, the book under review certainly sketches the activism of someone quite lost in one of the extreme corners of the left sub cultural labyrinth. A victim of historical legacies and sociological factors, he is unable to fully grasp. Being a dynamic phenomena, the capitalist set up in Britain has taken advantage of the various revolts and stunts, Class War and the author initiated and encouraged or laid claim, to organise the development of a strong state with constantly increasing repressive laws, massive surveillance and plans for an new ID Card, super charged by the current “Terrorism” hysteria. This capitalist “fight back” will create difficult terrain for “outside the job” organisation which the milieux around the various anarchist and syndicalist groups could supply if their different “chapels” were dissolved, to assist workers on-the-job self organisation and direct action in strategic sectors such as the critical transport industries which is vital to the emergence of genuine mass syndicalist unionism in Britain and globally.

Mark McGuire
From RW Vol.26 No.2 July-Aug. 2007

From Rebel Worker Paper of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Network PO Box 92 Broadway 2007 NSW Australia www.rebelworker.org
A-infos-en mailing list

A-Infos Information Center