It's Theoretical Weekends from Scission and we are going way back to the early 70s for a piece from Lotta Continua which proves what should not need to be proven - the workplace is not the only place in which communism is created.
During the period 1969- 1977 in Italy there were massive and profound struggles outside the workplace. These struggles were certainly not isolated from other working class struggles. Self reduction of prices, squatting, housing and more were terms and places of this struggle. Lotta Continua was one of the most notable political organizations of that time and that place. As Big Flame (an Irish autonomous relating organization of the 1970s put it:
In the mid 1960s a number of activist groups influenced by the Operaismo writers were established in different cities. In 1968 they moved apart following a disagreements over organisation and the importance given to struggles over wages. The Venato and Emilia-Romagna group, which adopted a more Leninist perspective and included Toni Negri, became the basis of the new national Potop. The Pisa branch of the Tuscany group, mainly ex-Italian Communist Party and including future LC General Secretary Adriano Sofri, moved to Turin attracted by the struggles at FIAT. There it linked up with students from Milan, Trento and Turin to become Lotta Continua.
The links from Lotta Continua back to Operaismo are apparent in this quote from Adriano Sofri: “The class struggle is the mainspring of development of every social system. The interest of the ruling class is to make this spring work for the extension and reinforcement of its own power. And so workers’ autonomy occurs when the class struggle stops working as the motor of capitalist development” (quoted in Radical America March-April 1973 issue p5).
LC grew out of interventions at the FIAT Turin plant in April/May 1969. Students and activists got to know workers, started helping them write leaflets, which led on to joint assemblies. The leafleting was a large scale enterprise, with 15,000 to 20,000 handed out per shift.
The phrase “La Lotta Continua” started to appear on the leaflets (taken from “la lutte continue” from the events in France the previous year). In time it became the umbrella name for a loose network of activists. Groups in other cities started adopting the same phrase in their leaflets, and within 3 years LC was a national organisation. The newspaper “Lotta Continua” was launched in Nov 1969. By 1972 it was a daily.
Lotta Continua crumbled away after its second congress in Oct/Nov 1976. A key event in the runup was when male members of LC used violence to force their way into an all-women abortion demonstration in Rome in December 1975. The congress was characterised by hostility between male workers and women, and between both and the leadership. LC later published the congress speeches as Il 2o Congresso di Lotta Continua, and a selection of these can be found in Red Notes Italy 1977-9: Living with an Earthquake pp81-96 (also available as libcom.org or Class against Class). Within months most of the organisation had dissolved into a looser movement – the area of autonomy.
There are lessons here for autonomous Marxists and others interested in linking community struggles to workplace struggles.
The following is taken from prole.info
Translated and edited by Ernest Dowson. Taken From Radical America, vol. 7, #2.
Milan can be divided into four areas:
At the Architecture Faculty, as always, decisions about how to carry on the struggle are made solely by the assembly of families, which meets twice a day. During one of these meetings a huge demonstration is suggested for the following Saturday. This will help to bring home the meaning of the struggle to those who aren’t directly involved. This demonstration is to mobilize 30,000 people!
Occupation of GESCAL apartments
Red Flags over the IACP—April 1971
The next day (Monday), beginning at 4:30 in the morning, the whole area was at a standstill. There were pickets on the street corners, as well as a large contingent of police. People gathered in the Central Square, and at 8:30 am a march set off in the direction of Palermo. Women and children rode in cars and trucks, and men walked. Throughout the march the police continually provoked people. The marchers arrived at the IACP offices in Palermo. The police set up a cordon across the road, but the marchers broke through the lines and about 50 demonstrators managed to get into the building. Others got in over the balconies and through windows. Inside the IACP there was a huge commotion: For once the tables were turned on the people who govern our lives. When the women came into the building all the officials beat a hasty retreat. The President of the IACP appeared, pale and trembling, and agreed to speak to some sort of “delegation”. He tried to evade their questions and give nothing away. But the demonstrators decided to occupy the Institute. Meanwhile the people who had stayed outside began to mobilize other people in Palermo. The Base Committee from the shipyards arrived, and also a number of working people from other parts of town. This struggle became a reference point for everyone. For the bosses and bureaucrats things were getting too hot, Two hours later the President returned and announced that he was going to withdraw the injunctions for rent arrears. For the time being people decided to leave the Institute (by then it was 6 pm), but the struggle for these objectives was to go on. The most active of all the people were the women, the true militants of this day of struggle and clashes with the police. Among other things, they succeeded in freeing a comrade who had been arrested by the police.