In The Weight of the Printed Word, Steve Wright explores the creation and use of documents as a key dimension in the activities of the Italian workerists during the 1960s and 1970s. From leaflets and newspapers to books, internal documents and workers’ enquiries; the operaisti deployed a wide variety of printed materials in their efforts to organise amongst new subjectivities of mass rebellion.
As Wright demonstrates, the practice of working with print was a central part of what it meant to be a workerist or autonomist militant during these years: one that throws light both on the meaning of political engagement, as well as the challenges posed by the use of technologies of communication and by emergent social subjects.
Steve Wright is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Information Technology, Monash University. He has written widely on operaismo, including Storming Heaven: Class Composition and Struggle in Italian Autonomist Marxism (Pluto, second edition, 2017).
Introduction: Print, Document Work, and Class Politics
1 What Are Militants? Ceto politico and ceto operaio
2 Texts Have Bodies Too: Towards a Materialist Approach to Document Work and Genre
3 Genre, Document Work and Militancy amongst the Operaisti: Some Preliminary Reflections
Part 1 The Workers’ Enquiry and Co-research
Introduction to Part 1
4 The Fiat Workers’ Enquiry of 1960–61: Setting the Scene
5 The Fiat Workers’ Enquiry of 1960–61: What Actually Happened?
6 The Meaning of the Workers’ Enquiry and Co-research in the Early 1960s
Part 2 Essays and Their Contexts
Introduction to Part 2
7 Cultural Production in the Italy of the ‘Economic Miracle’
8 The Essay and Its Discontents
9 The Role of the Review in Classical Workerism
10 The Book Trade and Academia
Part 3 Leaflets and Sundries
Introduction to Part 3
11 The Emergence of the Assemblea operai e studenti
12 The Assemblea’s Document Work
13 A Short Addendum on Pamphlets
Part 4 Potere Operaio
Introduction to Part 4
14 Debating Organisation in Print: Potop 1969–71
15 Other Elements of Potere Operaio’s Genre Repertoire
16 Two Brief Interludes: ‘In Praise of Illegal Work’ and ‘Sotto la Mole’
17 A Gamble That Failed: Potere Operaio del lunedì
Part 5 Internal Documents and Perspectives Papers
Introduction to Part 5
18 Internal Communication Concerning Potere Operaio’s Press and Organisation
19 ‘The Measures Taken’
20 Position Papers and Discussion Documents
Part 6 ‘Dites-le avec des pavés!’ Autonomist Newspapers and the Challenge of Radio
Introduction to Part 6
21 The Best Re(a)d Paper in Autonomia?
22 Senza Tregua – A Brief and Unhappy Existence?
23 ‘A Paper That Speaks, a Radio That Writes’: I Volsci and the Impact of Radio on the Printed Word
Part 7 Journals in a Minor Key
Introduction to Part 7
24 ‘The Firebrands of Porto Marghera’
25 ‘There Is No Housework in Marx’
Conclusion: Print, Document Work, and Class Politics
Glossary References Index
All interested in postwar Italian Marxism and social movements, and anyone concerned with the experience of Autonomia Operaia, Potere Operaio, Lotta Femminista, and operaismo as a political tendency.