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From 'mass worker' to 'empire': The disconcerting trajectory of italian operaismo

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Chapter Summary

In the 1960s, the historical organisations of the working class remained loyal to the orthodox idea of the 'progressive development of the productive forces', motor of humanity's march towards communism - a march temporarily checked by 'the anarchy of the market' and deflected by another characteristic of capitalism: the iniquitous distribution of social wealth. The wave of working-class struggles that peaked during the 'hot autumn' of 1969 seemed to offer an extraordinary confirmation of the theoretical premises of operaismo. The 'mass worker' not only furnished evidence of his existence, but also confirmed all the hopes that had been lodged in his conflictual potential. The continuity between workers' struggles and revolution established by Tronti rested on two pillars. The first was the particular theory of the link between factory and society and the second was the idea that the logic of the factory is progressively extended to the whole society.

Keywords: Italian Operaismo; mass worker; Panzieri; Tronti



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