The young people who have been pushed to the margins of Italian capitalism are creating their own theory with their actions. They have realised not only that there is nothing for them within the present structure, but also that they want nothing from it. They want to destroy it in every form, and this involves not only institutions but the people who make them function as such.
Similar attitudes are also re-emerging among the employed workers within the context of the factory, following a period of relative stasis since the struggles of 1973. The result of this has been to create a situation of ideological crisis within the organised left.
On the one hand, the mass refusal of the system has not left the retrograde left out of their radical critique; on the other these same groups are finding themselves confronted with a living situation of rebellion, leaving their abstract theories of economic cycles in the cold.
The general conditions of life in Italy are particularly desperate. A tightly knit campaign of collaboration with government forces is allowing the media to continue to present a tolerable picture. Any sign of sufferance in the masses is immediately circumscribed with the greatest attention.
VIOLENT CLASHES BETWEEN POLICE, RESIDENTS OF A WORKING CLASS QUARTER IN ROME, AND EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY GROUPS OF THE LEFT BROKE OUT SEPTEMBER 6-8 AS POLICE CARRIED OUT AN ORDER TO EVICT 150 FAMILIES OF SQUATTERS FROM ILLEGALLY OCCUPIED PUBLIC HOUSING.
The strike in Turin, in answer to the killing of a journalist, unleashed a sea of interpretations and inquests. Famous sociologists met to provide analyses that the state in its most brutally coercive forms (police, judiciary, prisons) needs violence. At the same time, they are fabricating such palliatives as the law on unemployment, the rent laws, the tax reforms — all ludicrous attempts to stop an avalanche with a piece of paper.
Unemployment is on the increase, private investment is diminishing (the capitalists prefer to put their money safely abroad), the work situation must be remedied with the least damage to the state, by having recourse to the public deficit. This upsets our situation at the level of international economic credibility, which we are obliged to substitute with political credibility.
In other words, if we want German and American money we must show them our disposition to repress any form of revolutionary dissent that might develop in our country. We must demonstrate that these forms will no longer exist once things have been organised definitively, with the farthings of the imperialist giants and the consent of the Communist Party.
This party’s reactionary guarantee is necessary for various reasons. First of all, its ideological past, the capacity to confuse the exploited, the progressive veneer, are none other than a simple attempt at a “calm” passage to a social democratic capitalism with wide state participation.
This guarantee would have been impossible in a different international perspective, with the USSR in more real contrast with the interests of the United States. An Italian or European road to socialism is absurd. The Italian Communist Party are available for discussion with all the reactionary forces only because the USSR has been so disposed for some time.
All this should help us to understand how the identification of the class front can no longer pass through ideological factors but must come about through the productive situation. The workers are open to attacking the forces of exploitation at the place of exploitation as soon as the ideological coverings which have been a barrier to their understanding for so long have broken down.
THE WORST VIOLENCE WAS INSTIGATED BY THE EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY GROUPS OF THE LEFT WHO ESPOUSED THE CAUSE OF THE DISPOSSESSED. THE MOST SERIOUS VIOLENCE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN INSTIGATED AND CARRIED OUT BY LOTTA CONTINUA, MANIFESTO AND AVANGUARDIA OPERAIA.
This disposition becomes even clearer and more acute in a situation accentuated by lack of work. In the last analysis, the unemployed workers are even more exploited and miserable than the employed workers. The disposition to struggle among the exploited is not only proportionate to exploitation, but also to the effectiveness of ideological instruments.
The more these seem clear and transparent, the more they become great crusades against nothing, and exploitation remains intact. The weaker they are, the less capable they are of “guiding” the masses, who find the road of the struggle, of class cohesion and the objectives of the conflict themselves.
The Level of Conflict
This can be defined as the whole of the conditions that characterise the class conflict. To know these conditions is very important because one is often carried, for different reasons, to consider some more important than others, with the obvious conclusion that those who do not accept the same ones come to be defined counter-revolutionary.
THE EVENTS HIGHLIGHTED ITALY'S ACUTE HOUSING SHORTAGE FOR LOW- INCOME URBAN WORKERS, A MAJOR POLITICAL ISSUE IN ROME, AND THE AGGRESSIVENESS AND ORGANIZATION OF THE EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY LEFT.
It is not possible to fix a scale of merit concerning the conditions that determine the level of the struggle. It would, in fact, be out of place to overestimate economic conditions, underestimating, for example, ideological conditions which, precisely because they are breaking down, produce certain consequences and not others.
Heightening the Level of Conflict
Every historical moment has its own level of conflict. In a certain sense, history is history in that it manages to trace these levels and give accounts of the conditions which caused them.
Changes in the level of conflict are normal events which often come in “waves” which move around an axis which seems to remain stable even during continuous change. This something is the ideological structure of power or, if we prefer, ideological structure itself, in that revolution does not have an ideological structure until it takes the concrete form of counter-revolution.
To move the conflict to the fictitious level of ideology often means to lose the concrete ground of the struggle, the only ground on which any theoretical consideration is valid.
There being no doubt that revolutionaries have every interest in raising the level of consciousness, it remains equally beyond doubt that there can be no interest in reaching ideological perfection, as this would, sooner or later, become functional only to the re-establishment of power.
THE ACTION CULMINATED SEPTEMBER 9 IN THE FATAL SHOOTING OF A YOUNG MAN, IDENTIFIED VARIOUSLY AS A MEMBER OF EXTREME EXTRAPARLIAMENTARY LEFTIST GROUPS. FOUR POLICE MEN WERE WONDED BY GUNFIRE, TWO SERIOUSLY, AND MANY ON BOTH SIDES INJURED.
In the specific case of the ideology of violence that is being discussed in Italy today, this becomes functional to the state, consenting to the oscillations which allow the latter to become paternalistically open to discussion (see the Bologna meeting surrounded by six thousand policemen) one minute, then rigidly adopting strong means such as special prisons, police intimidation, special laws and tribunals the next.
It is not discussions about violence that raise the level of conflict, nor the debate on which type of violence is acceptable and which should be refused that pushes the exploited towards their liberation. No one can teach anything to those who have been suffering every kind of repression for centuries on this argument. The ideological curtain falls, and the stage remains in its stark reality, that of the class struggle.