The Italian Marxist current operaismo (workerism) developed out of the social conflicts of the 1950s and 1960s and the failure of the contemporary socialist and communist parties to analyze and understand the changes of class politics at the time.
The legacy of operaismo is not an encapsulated political ideology but rather a set of experiences, tools and methods of analysis and intervention into class struggle that the protagonists developed to regain an understanding of class struggles in Italy – and to be able to participate.
The similarity of Italy’s development in the 1950s and 1960s (that brought about operaismo) is striking when compared to China’s 1990s and 2000s: rapid industrialization, changing relations of production, new industrial technologies, mass internal migration, the making of a new class composition, increasing numbers of strikes and other forms of labor unrest, and the change of the situation of women.
That is why we think that the concepts and experience of Italian operaisti would be an inspiring contribution to the debate on Marxist thought and social conflicts in China and do help with the understanding of processes of class composition there.
So we, a circle of people from several continents, initiated this project to translate and publish central texts from operaismo – as well as critical contributions from a feminist perspective – in Chinese.
A first compilation of such texts was published in Chinese as a book in late 2017, and the Chinese translation of several articles appeared in 2018 (all documented on the Chinese project page: 工人主义及其批判).
Two more volumes will be published under the title “The Proletariat Goes to Paradise: Class Struggle and Theoretical Exploration in Italy’s 1960s and 1970s” and include these texts (author, English title, year, Chinese title and link):
Raniero Panzieri. The Capitalist Use of Machinery, 1961:
Mario Tronti. Lenin in England, 1964:
Romano Alquati. Struggle at FIAT, 1964:
Mariarosa Dalla Costa. Women and the Subversion of Society, 1971:
Antonio Negri. Crisis of the Planner-State, 1971:
Sergio Bologna. The factory-society relationship as an historical category, 1974:
Silvia Federici.(Wages Against Housework, 1975:
Autonomous Assembly of Alfa Romeo. Against the state as boss, 1973:
As an introduction for these volumes we conducted an interview with Ferruccio Gambino (2018: 工人而非那些外人或许就会有最终决定权) that we also document in English here: “The workers may have the last word, not those who are on the outside“.
Another volume includes the Chinese translation of Nanni Balestrini’s novel “Vogliamo tutto” (1971; We want everything) which is, actually, based on interviews Balestrini conducted with a worker from southern Italy who was involved in wildcat strikes and other protests in the late 1960s in Turin and other cities in the north. His name is Alfonso Natella. We conducted a short interview with him in early 2018 (它是我的故事) which serves as an introduction to the Chinese edition. Here is the interview with Alfonso in English: “It is my story“.
Guido Borio wrote a chronology of operaismo and class struggles in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s (documented here in English and Chinese), and we added two glossaries with explanations on the most important terms and actors (glossary of terms documented here in Chinese).