In order to appreciate the intervention made by Fortunati – beginning over a quarter century ago, along with the other founding members of the group Lotta Femminista, including Mariarosa Dalla Costa – we must first jettison some of our Marxist baggage.
In 1880, La Revue socialiste asked an aging Karl Marx to draft a questionnaire to be circulated among the French working class. Called “A Workers’ Inquiry,” it was a list of exactly 101 detailed questions, inquiring about everything from meal times to wages to lodging.
There exists an America that no one talks about, which is to be found beyond the myth of the refrigerator, the automobile, and the television, and beyond the myth of affluence for all. It is the America of the factory: an unknown America whose history is made of strikes, exploitation, and proletarian misery.
We present here an unprecedented document of great value about the lives of American workers. This appraisal stems not only from the fact that it definitively puts paid to both the absurd claim that American workers don’t have class consciousness, and the myth of the comfort and luxury of the American proletariat.
Since our work unfolds as a renewal of a direct contact with class situations in order to find a way to organize the embryos of antagonistic class consciousness that reproduce themselves amongst workers, it is worthwhile precisely to the degree that it becomes a revolutionary consciousness of this unfolding story.
The personal, political and intellectual itinerary of Romano Alquati was inextricably bound up with Italian postwar history, when a generation of militants relegated the importance of their own profession to second place, seeking instead jobs that could support their political commitment. In doing so, they created a new way of “being-political” that would prove to be a watershed for successive generations, up to the present day.
The introduction of research into the mission of higher education, a transformation which took place first in Germany and Scotland, had profound and lasting effects; principal among them was providing a means by which faculty in the United States (where the state was far weaker than it was in Europe) could professionalize, organize, and create a new institutional form – a hybrid of European and US higher education now hailed as the American Research University.
The schema that ordered Socialisme ou Barbarie’s conception of revolution relied upon the close examination of working-class experience. This put the group in little-explored territory.
The proletariat is the real response to this economic pseudo-materialism. Its response is elaborated through its practical existence. Anyone who looks at its history can see that the proletariat has not merely reacted to definite, external economic factors (degree of exploitation, standard of living, mode of concentration), but that it has really acted.
We succinctly present here the outline of one of the publications with which, in the near future, we’ll translate directly into theoretical-strategic work some of the findings that have been surfacing for years with a continual practical-political presence, years of tactical surveys of the terrain of class war. We’re choosing again a nodal point: once again, FIAT, “class composition at FIAT.”