Struggle at FIAT (1964)

Classe Operaia, no. 1, January 1964.

This article analyzes schematically several aspects of the so-called “wild cat” [“a gatto selvaggio”]1 mode of struggle recently adopted by the FIAT workers; it does not theorize it as the “only” one possible. It’s a “particular” analysis, not because the events described are exceptional or exclusive to that “core mass” [“nucleo di massa”] of workers that are FIAT, but because the general dimension, within which only the movement is “political,” is implicated here as the determinant presupposition but isn’t directly analyzed. (Other decisive components of the rise of the political worker [crescita politica operaia] that one can see in this discourse will be considered more properly in the next article, the one on ALFA, which captures a further aspect because it captures the general dimension of the process of workers’ struggle.)

alquati wildcat

On October 15-16 of ’63, the FIAT workers carried out their most important strike since that of June-July 1962. The 6,200 Foundry workers took off “spontaneously”… for a struggle that was extended “spontaneously” as a wildcat to the following day; on Tuesday the 15th, the morning shift of Workshop 4 stopped unexpectedly and signaled the unplanned stop of work to the “normal” shift and then to that in the afternoon.

In the “ambiguity” that really marks it, the workers’ struggle makes use of the productive articulation of capitalist cooperation!

Workshop 4 of the Foundry is a set-up and maintenance shop where the “professionalistic” heritage survived (relatively) more than elsewhere, yet the strike that was launched was anti-corporate and anti-company. In fact, the Foundry, materially located at the center of Mirafiori’s huge complex, was above all a nodal point for different crucial productive circuits (auto, tractor, truck), all directly articulated in a “worldwide” division of labor, through which FIAT (as a moment of world social capital) exploits, by unifying them, the working class of the first, the second, and the third world! These are the basic, immediate materials of the strike: the workers’ struggle at FIAT came to be seen in its international dimension as the response of workers to a boss that never poses itself directly as an “individual” or “single” capitalist in front of its 130,000 directly exploited, truly because they battle it by always posing themselves as the vanguard of a total movement.

The wildcat strike is not an anarchic form of protest by workers incapable of struggling collectively in an organized way. On the contrary: it requires a very high level of organization and cohesion because it’s a typically “general” form of struggle, and it’s absurd to conceive of it as the material articulation of struggle by departments and workshops locked within a company, insofar as FIAT is “global”! And the first victory of the wildcat strike of the 15th was to have illuminated, demystified, and communicated outside Turin the recent history (little known precisely because it is important) that saw a workers’ organization developing at FIAT strong enough to pull off a strike of this type: completely outside the historical and official organizations.

The wildcat strike at FIAT liquidates the old idea that at this level, the workers’ struggle would be organized by a particular internal “nucleus,” that holds a monopoly on antagonistic workers’ consciousness. The strike of October 15-16 was organized directly by the entire and compact “social mass” of workers from the sections that contributed: but we are here merely presented with greater clarity a characteristic of recent struggles, one that’s not exclusive to FIAT where the rare “militants” of the old parties after the June of ’62 were just the tail-end of the struggles.

After the first shake-up of international struggles in ’53-’54, CGIL was eliminated from FIAT as a mass organization. Now we can see starting, on one side, the official workers movement’s “loss of control” over the Italian working class, and, on the other, how the mechanization of work is driven toward automatic processes in a decisive leap toward the socialization of work.

The second wave of international struggle in ’56, on both sides of the [Iron]curtain, would accelerate the upsurge of strikes in Italy and their transformation: so started anew at FIAT a “subterranean” struggle directly managed by workers. And with the third large wave of international strikes, after ’60, the movement radicalized and unified itself enormously on a world scale, and the FIAT workers returned openly to being the center of a political circulation of struggles and experiences that unify, recompose, and massify the working class “for itself“; they returned to determine the methods and objectives of the struggle for themselves as a social class, increasingly dropping the “union” aspect. Passing from one struggle to another, from one form of organization to another, the homogenization of methods and content amplified: because the workers’ initiative was in the hands of the “compact social mass,” even the boss must now base his general strategy for increasing production on the “social class” of workers alone.

The struggles serve to push capital further in its research into a “fluid” passage to a further stage of socialization. Today, the task for the boss is to abolish what within social tensions stands as a political obstacle to “structural reforms”: by achieving, as a preliminary condition, the full political control of the working class and its collaboration, the struggles come to mean greater “productivity” and greater “political despotism” of the boss.

Collaboration and political control

And the PCI promises that there will be “demand-based” struggles, and FIOM that they will cage those struggles with a more cunning politics.

If we take another step back, we see that international struggles have eroded the margins (both “internal” and “external”) of the “FIAT system” in so abruptly that, by catching the boss unprepared, they risked subtracting the workers from his political control.

In the framework of the center-left, the platform of the “modern contract” once again revealed a boss certain of his ability to quickly retake full political control; it demanded the “collaboration” of workers with a massive and rationalized rise in productivity through a further socialization of work: “automation,” “pluralistic programming,” “State reform“; the working class recomposed as the Social Brain of capitalist production, imprisoned in an even higher level of dead labor, of machines, which manage the working class with greater rationality yet set themselves against those workers and squash them through the political domination of capital. [in the form of fixed capital].

If the workers had fought for this contract that contained only the boss’s needs, that same struggle would already be its execution [of the boss’s plan].

But the unions, who have to mediate the project, no longer have a hold on it. The recomposition of the class was already far ahead of the calculations of La Malfa-Trentin.2 So the working class succeeded in catching the project off guard: actually unifying all their struggles through the unexpected insertion of 100,000 FIAT metal workers into the contractual metalworkers’ strike, they exploded with unity in front of the factory gates, in the pickets, and in the piazza battles of all the factories, sectors, and regions against the union-led and democratic plan for the strike. Faced with this worker unity, the weakness of the boss becomes evident. Through a political “autosuggestion”3 of unified struggle, the working class succeeded in making its leap within the leap of capital. With this strategic victory for the workers, the perspective changed: “fluid passages” now show themselves as “sudden leaps” and as occasions for the working class to politically organize, to reunify itself now outside the political control of the boss.

classe operaia operaio cattivo
Parable of the good boss, the good unionist, and the wicked worker.

Therefore: the modernization and general rationalization projects of the boss, from a correct perspective, will have to impose “collaboration” and political “control” on this working class, one that has recomposed subjectively.

The working class must tackle, in the “long run”, the boss’s project of “industrial democracy”: the “strategic objective” is to organize, on an international scale, real “political” self-management outside of capitalist production against the “general political power” of capital.

To arrive at this immediate “tactical objective” that the struggle is carrying ahead means continuing to manage outside the boss’s “political control” a struggle that’s once more constrained to unfold within production and capital accumulation, yet on a social scale or in the piazza.

The working class makes use of the role the boss assigns it in order to determine – through “abrupt” leaps – the forms of the “councilist”4 project of capital, in order to transfer its potential political hegemony to a higher level of capitalist socialization. The “tactical use” of “non-collaboration” forces5 the boss to try increasingly advanced projects of the “reformist recuperation” of the worker’s tension that builds up within the factory, projects that are then counter-attacked and set ablaze, thereby setting back the “strategic” plan of the boss.

The “non-collaboration” of workers undermines this schema within capitalist production because only if it binds and articulates itself like capillaries within the productive process can it [the non-collaboration] function… the relation between the [capitalist] project of development and the political base is today so tight that major political events are mystified as either “technical” vicissitudes or unmediated “rebelliousness.”

The working class fights with the weapons it has: “spontaneist” [i.e. the accusation] could just as well designate those who do nothing other than scold the working class for being so. Just as in [the riots of] Piazza Statuto no worker deluded himself into thinking this was the violence necessary for the destruction of the capitalist system, so too no worker deludes himself that this use of “non-collaboration” is itself revolutionary political struggle. Already in the Valletta lockout of July ’62, workers felt the urgency of transferring the “mole’s work” to new and freshly conquered terrain in order to fortify themselves with long-term organizational measures against a more organic counter-offensive of the boss.

After the FIAT agreement is generalized in the new contract, the circular movement of general struggle facing FIAT will select and relaunch only those forms and objectives of organization better adapted to counter the more advanced level of the boss’s political plan.

The first improvised actions of “non-collaboration” won easily because the boss’s tactic could only repropose, to reunifed workers, more up-to-date forms of the “union in the factory” that had already been rejected: and in the winter of ’62-’63, they would indeed fail, first at FIAT and ALFA, and then everywhere.

Non-collaboration isn’t a means of causing chaos in the labor process, and the wildcat struggle isn’t a means of jamming it up: but it’s no accident that the papers of the bosses and those of the standard press meet in their effort to hide, behind the old anarchosyndicalist form of “sabotage,” the actual political significance of workers struggles and the enormous political possibility that capitalist development offers to a politically organized working class.

The permanent struggle more typical of “rationalized” firms – based on the fact that only the collective worker knows which are the dies and “standard” guides through which the object of labor is “transformed” – is obvious all over the world. No functionary of capital (unionist or individual capitalist) is scandalized by the fact that the collective worker is forced to always “violate” the rules in order to balance, with her own rationality, the fundamental irrationality of a system based on class exploitation, and it is properly in this continuous innovation that the result of capital valorization and productivity is reached.6

What is scandalous, however, is that the collective worker would ruin productive “cooperation” in a political recomposition, that the “machine operator” [addetto macchina] is reduced to “quality control,” or that the “administrative” duty of the “technician,” the “expert,” or even the “engineer” gets downgraded to the point that they finally see themselves as “working class,” and that all together, as “working class,” they make use of their management of the reality of the laboring process in which they are closed, in order to counter the boss’s project to politically control them once again.

Towards the “wildcat” strike

It is not possible to describe the succession of concrete forms with which workers built up, through their “non-collaboration,” their level of consciousness and organization, becoming increasingly resolute against the boss who is politically organized and unified in a global capitalist front… In ’63, however, they forced the boss to bypass the unions and take into his own hands the attempt to control them: workers were asked tocrystallize their “autonomous” organization inside capitalist production and to pose positive demands in a way that could help develop the rationalizing functionno that the failed “factory unions” could not provide. In July ’63 the unions (which had an external role as propagandists of the “democratic” course of capital) made another interesting step in the proposal to workers that they organize “autonomously,” but with union mediation, in the “Controllo Operaio” [Worker Control] plan. But workers already control production, and because the regulation of the benefits of collaboration pushes them and “connects” them to total output based on “attendance,” they reject this trap too, together with everything in permanent negotiation that from now on will just spin its wheels.

From here on out the “councilism”7 of capital proposes the political control of the working class as the control of struggles, and the form of this control will be that of workers “self-control“: that is, the self-empowerment of workers to autonomously conduct the struggle within the long-term plan of the boss, and the institutionalization of worker’s self-management at an increasingly general level. The alternative is between the continuity of capital by means of the democratic control of the entire struggle or the “continuity” of increasingly uncontrollable struggles.8

In ’63, only at Workshop 17 were there stoppages (three of them) apparently within the “ordinovistico” plan of the boss: starting spontaneously on local pretexts, they went nowhere while the unions acted recklesslyand made a big racket, asking the workers to generalize this form in all sections because “it’s that good.” In all sections, though, the workers refused generalization with full consciousness of the political significance of this refusal to organize the struggle in the requested form of articulation, because it is a form of the democratic institutionalization of “worker dissent” inside capital. In ’63, there was no hot summer for the unions, but the workers struggle grew and unified through “non-collaboration,” motivated by a continual political discussion through which the “invisible organization” of the workers clarified and strengthened. They had permanent political meetings right in the nodal points of production, which then continued in the wider social fabric of the “workers’ city”: the young were at the head of them. The FIAT workers were intent to gather, criticize, and select out of the entire international experience of workers’ struggles those forms that seemed most adapted to counteract the increasingly general attack the boss was preparing; especially after the strike of Parisian “metro” workers, they particularly appreciated the wildcat that had already been appearing in embryonic form in Italy since the decline of the contractual strike.

What the workers like about the wildcat is above all its unpredictability: the unpredictability of its generalized rotation in time and in space. The political scope of this form of workers’ struggle can be seen in this: a) it demands an “invisible organization” that does not institutionalize itself as an autonomous organization within the capitalist production process; b) it actualizes itself through a continuous and unpredictable rotation of the tactics, methods, times, and places of the strike; c) it demands nothing.

It’s clear therefore that workers don’t take it as the only form of struggle, but they do see it as the most advanced level of “non-collaboration.”

The wildcat doesn’t exclude the mass strike or the struggles in the piazzas; all can reoccur in an alternate mode, relaunching themselves and strengthening each other; but the wildcat’s dimension is different. The task of a political organization is not to plan the wildcat in a predetermined way, because that seriously runs the risk of rendering it recuperable for the boss to domesticate it: the organization must instead contribute to intensifying it, while in order to organize and extend it, it’s enough to have the “invisible organization” of workers for whom the wildcat strike is becoming a permanent fact.

The wildcat is not therefore a model of revolutionary political struggle: today it maintains the refusal, and of this the workers are conscious.

The Foundry strike continues

But (to give testimony that “invisible organization” really signifies the opposite of a refusal to organize), the workers, after having discussed, moved to the “visible” realization of the strike. On the first of August (just after the distribution of the newspaper Wildcat was received with enthusiasm and circulated in all the Turin factories where it was known and discussed), they came within an inch of starting a strike of this type at Workshop 7, the key workshop for all of FIAT. But the strike that didn’t happen at Workshop 7 was organized October 15th at the Foundry. And now we are in a position to recognize the precise significance of this refusal of striking workers to appeal to the new Internal Commission [C.I.] they had elected just five days before! Although the unions implored them with pamphlets, they got cut out of the fight.

The “alternative theses” didn’t find alternatives in the factory. The Italian part of international capital, the mythical Valletta9, registered that the workers had already voted FIOM with the precise proposal of taking away every “alibi” from “bureaucrats” and bypassed the unions once again because they saw quite clearly the enormous importance of that worker response which had succeeded in burning down another project: they wanted something other than an old “scrap dealer” like the CI. So he [Valletta] sends the heads to the members of CI precisely to ask them to organize the delegations, but they think that it’s not yet time to throw away, along with the growing margins, the CI which has just triumphantly established itself: the boss then directly sends the heads to the workers on strike so that they can elect the delegates; responding in spades, the heads take some guys themselves and send them to the Management, where they’re told that the permanent negotiation over working hours will start again…

But, inflexible in the face of this union drama, the workers affirmed the specificity of their anti-capitalist and anti-bureaucratic struggle: the next day, Tuesday October 16, the strike extended beyond Workshop 4 into a wildcat that reached other FIAT factories. They partially closed Workshop 3 without warning, passed the message to various shifts at Workshop 2, including quality control and forklift drivers; they unexpectedly stopped three of the shifts at FIAT OSA in Stura while in all the sections there were unexpected stoppages (like at FIAT Lingotto where the workers of many workshops shut them down for different hours). Still no one called the CI; no institutionalization and no demands; several thousand workers went on strike Tuesday in this way, and their experience circulates in the workers’ social fabric even outside of Turin.

The workers refuse to demand

In the October 15-16 strike, the revolutionary consciousness and will of the workers finds expression above all in the refusal to direct positive demands to the boss: and yet they all know that this strike responds to yet another ferocious provocation by the boss realized through another attack on real wages: nearly a third of their pay subtracted through the Ricchezza Mobile [Moveable Wealth] deductions! And once again, it’s only the boss for whom the workers’ attitude is “irrational”…

For his expansion, the boss needs the increase in the workers’ purchasing power: this conjunctural difficulty was already glimpsed before in the program of the center-left. Yet their program couldn’t handle it: first because the struggles slipped from their hands, to the point of making a “sudden leap” in terms of salary too; and second (though no less important) because the workers’ struggle brought with it a rise in costs and a relative drop in productivity: a real displeasure for those who promote sharing in wealth in exchange for collaboration… But until the boss is politically more organized than the workers, although there may be workers momentarily trapped by the impossibility of increasing their purchasing power, a particular insistence on generalized and non-programmable wage demands would resolve itself in a serious momentary disadvantage, one that the boss might dodge with a large reformist and organized body. And there are in fact even unionists opposed to the “wage freeze” to the point of supporting the same workers’ tactic of “raising costs,” because it is an incentive for investments in innovations and structural reforms… All the same, the workers have chosen this path (which becomes that of reducing the working day through “non-collaboration”) because it lets them keep control of the struggle in their hands.

Since the upsurge in struggles, after ’60 the FIAT workers would learn from “external” experiences the “provocational” use of the more advanced demands that the unions demagogically inserted into the contractual platform: times – salaries – personnel – hours, all and right away [tutti e subito]; for example, in pushing “times” together with the refusal of incentives and piecework , the workers eliminate the union from any directing role in the strike… (it’s within the strike of June that the whole “demand-ism” position, along with the contractual-unionist dimension, momentarily crumbled.)

After June, the bottlenecks by which the unified workers shut out the boss forced him to ask the unions for a real truce on those points that obviously remained outside the contract, and it was really in that moment (autumn of ’62) that worker pressure was already so strong that the unions were forced to merely repropose those very same points in a desperate attempt of channeling the pressure placed on the “union in the factory…”

In the summer of ’63, the situation reverses. The preoccupied boss sends around his lackeys to sound out the workers, and the response is clear: “from you, we’ve got nothing to ask”; the workers pushed only for their own political organization: today, it’s the boss who’s forced to provoke the workers, to try and control them through more advanced demands, but the workers respond by just letting them fall…

The strike of October 15-16 torched10 all this maneuvering because the workers’ response succeeded in recuperating from “non-collaboration” the aspects that had already been a “political” response, that is, the rejoinder to the precise “political” objective of the boss. The economic rise of workers remains a fact of extreme importance even for workers who unify politically; however, this stabilizes a “division of labor” that reflects class division. Won demands and economic growth leave workers out of the dialogue between workers and unions, the dialogue that, in turn, is now proposed to them: but the workers hold for themselves the perspective of a revolutionary political organization.

On October 16, the unions react to the refusal to make demands and reach a “collegial” unanimous vote in the CI to make things like the usual qualified refusals, the restarting of permanent negotiation, legislative reforms and democratic marches of the citizenry (“housewives” and “shopowners” at the front) against “the cost of living” appear as if they were the workers’ demands. All this becomes even clearer when less than a month after, the workers organize another unforeseen strike at FIAT Aeritalia: a rather neglected and isolated plant…

Here was a diffuse malcontent that lasted, and the boss grafted to it a provocation based on discriminations in the merit awards, in order to protect himself through “professional” egoism… On the morning of November 14, just after entering, the workers close the mechanical and surveying departments of Processing: two hours after, some of them go to communicate, through the warehouse, the news of the strike to the head of sheet processing, which then shuts: no delegation, and no one called the CI. Only when the heads [of the departments] are forced to go ahead and ask the workers their demands do the workers give them, provocatively proposing a full 50 lire hourly raise – “as usual for everyone and immediately” – knowing full well that there’s no possibility of getting it and that, with this, they liquidate not just “political” discrimination but also the unions’ effort to insert themselves into the struggle through salary rationalization. It is Management who then makes the CI intervene, who didn’t even already know of the strike. The duet that begins between unions and boss remains completely outside of the workers’ struggle: to the unions, the workers give little more than an hour of time to procure the 50 lire raise, and because once the time was up – and they don’t get the 50 lire – they continue the strike in total indifference to the twists of the negotiations that start up again, subdivided at “all the levels”: because the “sectional” negotiation is inserted in the general one about hours, workshop 12 starts up and the fireworks of demands are exalted in the paper the new day, but the undeterred workers continue the strike the next day, for the whole morning without asking for anything and clearly abandon this terrain to the boss and the unions: and it’s this that matters about the struggle that communicated with the “outside.”

Communication through struggles

This strike is a further example of how, through the buildup of struggles, the political unification and capacity of workers to rapidly circulate, at a general level, their most relevant political experiences has really increased, making use of the entire social fabric “inside” and “outside” the plant.

The workers learned well, and by themselves, to connect nuclei of struggle and to stabilize contacts and forms of material connection, to do mass and reciprocal pickets or to meet in the piazza at a given time. The problem they pose today is that of unifying the struggle politically, subjectively.

The workers of FIAT Aeritalia were well-aware of the paper Wildcat even if it wasn’t distributed in their section. So too were the workers at Michelin (different company, different sector) who, in the same days, were called to a union strike of FILCEP. [Federazione italiana lavoratori chimici e petrolieri, i.e. Italian federation of chemical and petroleum workers].

The union was sure of being able to pump into Michelin the usual “unionist” set-up because they had verified two “spontaneous” stoppages that proved a strong internal pressure. So they were limited to ask of the workers (through a kind of pamphlet-questionnaire) what type of “articulated” struggle they would prefer to push ahead now (…yet, in reality, maliciously suggesting to them the “Olivetti model”…). It’s clear that the majority of workers didn’t join the “unionized” strike (as they said): those who would strike wouldn’t do pickets and declared their peace with those who entered… and both groups were convinced that there was no prospect of economic gains. Both groups, with the same will to fight, had the same discussions as the workers of FIAT or of Lancia on the necessity that the workers realize a struggle beyond every sectorial dimension, so as to make a decisive step towards clarifying the prospect of revolutionary political organization.

This process even includes that famous “articulated struggle” of Olivetti at Ivrea, undoubtedly the only of the grand firms that hasn’t yet clamorously disowned the unions: even here the “young” breezily bypassed the forms and deadlines of union articulation. They showed their complete disinterest toward the way that unions demand the rationalization of piecework and show enormous political concern for the boss, inasmuch as it’s clear that even they are “out of control,” uncontrollable, to the point that in order to save face the unions are forced to give a “wildcat” cloak to their articulation… And the drive toward recomposition at Olivetti is such that even the 300 “coaches” (i.e. scabs with the specific function of setting times for others) went on strike spontaneously along with the others: this is such an index of political unification beyond the control of the boss that it had to be kept secret.

The workers’ struggle develops a maximal political potential in the nodes of its network11, where the maximum concentration of workers is supported by the maximum concentration of political experience, filtered and developed in the maximum intensity of open struggle: from this, the explosion of these nodes relaunches all through the general network, like a wave, the movement of progressive unification and political growth. The wave of general struggle, which could be occasioned by the contractual strike of chemical workers, will not register, however, like some beautiful colored shell, the definitive model of revolutionary political organization: but it could be another notable step ahead. It makes, therefore, some sense to affirm that the general situation probably has not yet accumulated enough potential such as to draw in the workers of FIAT to secure it and realize a new large mass strike: in reality even the wildcat strike at FIAT contributed to the advanced politics of the whole movement.

 But the problem that workers’ consciousness poses is that of the guide of the process and its acceleration through the vanguards of the mass, according to a strategy that transforms it in a struggle for general political power. To carry the permanent struggle beyond the wildcat requires above all a “beyond” of foresight, theory, organization, strategy and only then a “beyond” of the international organization of revolutionary political struggle; otherwise, while already projecting “beyond” particularity and the labor process, the workers’ consciousness that expresses itself, on an actual basis, far “beyond” won’t go anywhere.

From FIAT, limited though it is, indications will emerge of the first forms of a political organization that may really be “outside” of capital accumulation, and that therefore can assume the role of strategic guide for the political movement of the working class. At FIAT, as in the entire Italian working class, the workers already see the final battle: today, in the “particularity” of rejoinders to the collective boss, we can find a new a tactical use of the refusal of worker demandism and of the refusal of class collaboration. We are already moving toward the use of these arms in all their potential as strategic weapons of the revolutionary rupture.

Translated by Evan Calder Williams

  1. Alquati continues to place “a gatto selvaggio” in quotes throughout the text. I don’t continue to do so here, both for ease of reading and because unlike many of the other terms directly quoted from workers or from the parole d’ordine [slogans/catchphrases] of bosses, unions, and parties, the wildcat is a widely known term. All notes are the translator’s. 

  2. Two Italian politicians: Giorgio La Malfa, who as Minister of the Budget introduced in 1962 the Nota Aggiuntiva, a report concerning the inherent inequalities in the Italian economy and sought to rationalize them through planning. It is the signature document of the center-left effort of economic reform within the structure of “neocapitalism.” La Malfa was attacked by Confindustria for this. Bruno Trentin was an ex-partisan, a PCI politician, and secretary general of FIOM and CGI. 

  3. There’s an echo here of autogestione, an important term in this period meaning “self-management.” 

  4. The word Alquati uses is ordinovistico, one of the stranger and more telling lexical choices in Alquati’s writing. The term refers to a weekly paper started in 1919, L’Ordine Nuovo, or The New Order, by Gramsci, Angelo Tasca, Palmiro Togliatti (later PCI head). The relevant aspect of its position was its councilist left communism, arguing that factory councils could form the fundamental cell by which to build toward revolution. Bordiga criticized the position as syndicalism, and it would be dropped by Gramsci in coming years. (See chapter 4 of Hill, Deb J. Hegemony and Education: Gramsci, Post-Marxism, and Radical Democracy Revisited. Lanham: Lexington Books Pub, 2007 for more on this.) Alquati’s use of it is a strange, ironic transposition the plan of post-war development that sought to capitalize upon internal dissent, worker knowledge, and the socialization of labor. 

  5. As often in this text and his others, the particular verb is costringere, which indicates force or compulsion but also constraint: constraining the boss and limiting his choice until he’s forced to take the only path available. 

  6. See my introduction for an in-depth discussion of this “violation” and the key contribution it provides to Tronti’s and Panzieri’s understandings of the link between machinery, the development of capital, and worker knowledge. 

  7. Ordinovismo. See footnote 4 above. 

  8. A key difference raised here: the side of capital, and its mediators (unions, the CI, etc), insists and depends on the unity of the struggle (singular), while the side of worker and social antagonism depends on the articulation of the “continuity” of struggles (plural) that can neither be controlled nor taken as a de facto unity. 

  9. Vittorio Valletta, president of FIAT from ’46-’66. 

  10. See my introduction for a discussion of Alquati’s odd fondness for the verb bruciare, to burn, torch, or set ablaze, which does more than give some insurrectionary spice to his highly technical prose. 

  11. The idea of the network appears with increasing frequency in Alquati’s later work, starting with “Capital and the Working Class at FIAT: A Mid-point of the International Cycle,” a presentation given at a seminar on class composition in 1967. 

Author of the article

was a member of Quaderni Rossi and Classe Operaia. His early writings are collected in Sulla FIAT e altri scritti.