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Italian student movement of the 60s and 70

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Italian Movements of the 60s and 70 - Reading Groups - History of Social Movements (2012)

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Italian student movement of the 60s and 70

  1. 1. The Student Movement: 1968- 1978: Introduction• Came to represent new forms of rebellion• Peculiar: arose in a period of relative growth and prosperity• Students were the first to organize en-masse• Students became a social subject
  2. 2. Crisis of the old organizations• Education controlled by governments and parties• Not taking account of the opinions of the students• Too much paternalism• Students wanted to assert their own idenitity and needs• Older form of representation: unable to react on student activism
  3. 3. Crisis of the old organizations: The first generation• First student activist groups still connected to main political parties• The most radical of those was UGI. Linked to PCI.• Still electorial policies within the student organizations. – Reflecting parliamental mentality
  4. 4. Crisis of the old organizations: The changing character• 1960-63 strikes: First signs of change within the movement. – Students take part in demonstrations – They start to occupy university buildings• Mobilization against the Gui bill – This bill proposed to limit student intake – Establish 3 types of diplomas
  5. 5. Crisis of the old organizations: the changing character• The architecture faculties especially lively centers of activism• Study groups were formed – Criticized courses and learning methods• Education became perceived as a process rather than product
  6. 6. Crisis of the old organizations: 1967: beginning of a new movement• Opposition to goverment  50 day occupation in Milan• An environment of debate and collective work• New forms of decision-making: General assemblies rather than elected- representatives
  7. 7. Crisis of the old organizations• In Pisa, resistance against government’s reform: – Disrupting a conference of university heads – Occupations – Clash with the police• New theories about student politics: The Pisan Theses
  8. 8. Crisis of the old organizations: The Pisan approach: Marxism and the student movement• An operaist analysis to the student situation• Transformation to planned capitalism requires: – Qualified labor-power – Advanced technological production• Therefore: studenst are not a priviliged elite anymore; they are members of the working class.• Common enemy of students and workers: capitalism and the state
  9. 9. Crisis of the old organizations: The Pisan approach• Strong appeal on dissident socialists and communists• Militant refusal of parliamentarism and reformism• Associating student politics with workers struggle
  10. 10. Student identity and the politics of violence• 1968: Student agitation grows to national proportions – Against the Gui bill – A wave of occupations begins• Students start to clash with the police: – Students begin to fight back – Use of violence as a means
  11. 11. Use of Violence: The Battle of Valle Giulia, Rome 1968• A turning point for the student movement
  12. 12. Use of Violence• Also clashes in Milan• The students were severly beaten and terrorized• Police became the hated enemy – Legitimate to use force against
  13. 13. Reactions from the establishment• Center-Left government wanted compromise – Demanded the release of those arrested• The Conservatives and the right: – Favored use of force to put down disorders• As a consequence more police crackdown, injuries and death – Pacifism was now pronounced dead
  14. 14. Use of Violence• Students start militarize: – Learn to make Molotovs – Spread the idea of violent armed struggle• Reflected in their slogans and songs – Most famous song becomes La Violenza
  15. 15. How was violence justified within the movement?• It made it easy to distinguish friends from foes: a demacration line• It had a therapeutic shock effect: – It distanced students from bourgeois values – Notions of legality were overcome• It created solidarity• Created commitment to the group• It was group power in action
  16. 16. Politics of student dress: changing culture• Lifestyle and apprearence became at one with anti- bourgeois and anti-institutional ideas• Appearence for expressive purposes• In 1967: still clean shaven and with jackets and ties• In 1968: cuban styled beards; no jackets; military look; clenched fists• Desire to express a political self-image
  17. 17. Before and after
  18. 18. From Operaismo to atunomoist Marxism: Intro• Operaismo (workersim): Marxist approach focused on rank and file struggels – Against the politics and opportunism of dominant Marxist-Leninist left – Still in the realm of workers struggle• Autonomia: – Workerist analysis of class struggle apllied to social groups outside of the workplace
  19. 19. Operaismo and autonomist Marxism: Classical workersim• Origins of operaismo: research of workers behavior in 1950s• To research of workers own needs and problems• Core features of operaismo: – Identification of working class with the immediate process of production – Wage struggle as a key terrain of political conflict – Working class is the driving force within capitalist society – Against traditional party, parliament and union bureaucracy – No distinction between political and economic struggles
  20. 20. Classical workersim• Introduction of the concept of the Mass Worker: – Relatively simple labor – Placed in the hearth of the process of production – Not tied to the process of production
  21. 21. Workerism beyond workers• Production process itself is not neutral• It is a process of domination: despotism• Social Factory: Factory as locus of power extended to the wider society – Thus resistance outside the factory can be a moment of class struggle
  22. 22. Autonomia emerges• Loose network of groupings influenced by operaist theories• Many young people join the network• Emphasis on the localized and personal struggle rather than class-wide struggle• Negri: mass worker is replaced by socialized worker: – Capital socializes labor beyond the immediate process of production – The extension of the concept of laborer grows
  23. 23. Autonomia emerges• New social groups as collective subjects of social change – Women – Students – Peasants• They all belong to the workig class, so their actions contribute to anti-capitalism
  24. 24. Autonomia and students• Classical operaism: student struggle must be subordinated to workers struggle• But students were important for: – Theorizing the proletarization of intellectual labor – Link workers and students both organizationally and in terms of demands
  25. 25. Autonomia: “the will is enough!”• Thus for autonomia, the classical operaist idea of workers class and struggle must expand• Include new social groups• Emphasize the local and individual struggle above class wide• The will to destruction enough to count as anti- capitalist strugle rather than material determinants like of class composition
  26. 26. Some criticism• Operaists: still too Leninist in organizational aspect• Autonomia: lack of organization• Autonomia: in the end reverted to vanguardism• The fragmented and individualized forms of resistance are a sign of the historic weakness of the class• Focus on plurality of autonomous struggles can lead to abandonment of revolution as totality

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