For me the “new reading of Marx” was fundamental as an attempt at critical reconstruction of the revolutionary significance of Marx’s critique of political economy. What really does “critique” mean? Critique of what and for which purpose? The “new reading of Marx” taught me that it means a critique of economic categories, and that this critique entailed an attempt at deciphering economic categories as the objectified forms of definite social relations.
The mobility of labor was indeed part and parcel of the very “environment” within which workerism took shape in the early 1960s in Italy. Internal migration from the South of the country was challenging the political culture of the labor movement in the North, profoundly transforming the composition of the working class and at the same time reshaping the terms of the “Southern question.”
An old limit, perhaps “the” limit of the established political system, is its refusal to accept any ruptures in its rationality that may come from rising political movements. When a new political movement erupts on the scene with unexpected force, even when foreseen, the first move of the political establishment is defensive action and the attempt to assimilate and neutralize it.
When I encountered workerism, I was 19 years old. I was a grassroots militant of the students’ movement from the University of Padua. I was young, and thus I was silent and I learned. I remember that in many meetings I wanted to say things, but I was shy and insecure and therefore I preferred to keep quiet. The leaders of the movement were generally students who had already learned to do politics because they had some previous experience of party or political organizations. In contrast, I had only my beliefs about the need to change the world for the triumph of equality, freedom, and justice.