Social Struggles

Art and Immaterial Labour: Metamorphoses

To begin with, let us try, from a materialist standpoint, to situate historically the concept of plastic and figurative art in other words, the definition of its historically determinate link, if there is one, to the development and structure of modes of production. Can this be done? Obviously, once we're obliged to speak of art and immaterial labour, this is a useful thing to do; read more »

Toni Negri: an intellectual among the workers

I deliver here an account of my lived experience of Marghera, roughly between 1960 and 1969. Is this the story of a Bildung [education]? This notion is perhaps too charged with cultural resonances; it would be better to use the English training, which allies practical education with intellectual discipline. In reality, I do not know the appropriate manner by which to name this extraordinary apprenticeship – a decade long – in class struggle.  read more »

Memories

My name is Jan Appel, and I was born in a village in Mecklenburg in 1890. I attended elementary school and learned the shipbuilding trade. Even before my birth my father had been a Socialist. I myself became a member of the Sozial-demokratische Partei Deutschlands [SPD] on reaching 18 years of age. I saw military service from 1911 to 1913, and thereafter as a soldier in the War. In October 1917 I was demobilised and sent to work in Hamburg as a shipyard worker. In 1918 we called a strike of armaments workers. The strike held out for a whole week at the Vulkan-Werft. read more »

Occupation, worker co-operatives and the struggle for power: Britain in the 1970s

The essence of occupation as a form of industrial action is that it inherently challenges the basis of private property under capitalism, that workers appropriate the means of production.  However these expressions involve the abandonment of the means of production by labour. The temporary occupation of the workplace immediately raises the issue of the commodification of labour in the form of ‘job rights’ of the worker investment of their labour as “a momentary of the disposal by the capitalist”. Even when they occur individually or in small number,  occupation often requires a renegotiation of relations with the dominant economy as worker cooperative or nationalised enterprise - be it with the demand of being ‘under worker control’ - as their conclusion.   

Heart of the Factory / Corazón de Fábrica

In a poor country looted by its own governments and businessmen, the workers of Zanon Ceramic take the factory in their own hands when the owner closes it. They start to produce ceramics again, but without bosses. Now, they feel free. They’ve found in their work a way to grow humanly. But at the same time, they have to assume a series of responsibilities and challenges. Usually, this provokes serious arguments among them or with themselves. During that process, the workers had to study and to overcome themselves in order to solve all the problems linked to the areas of production. Through the democratic assembly, they found a way to support their organisation and learn how to take their own decisions in the management. 

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Unions and councils

The proletarian organization which assembles, as the total expression of the worker and peasant mass, in the central offices of the Confederazione del Lavoro, is passing through a constitutional crisis similar in nature to the crisis in which the democratic parliamentary state vainly debates. The solution of one will be the solution of the other, since, resolving the problem of the will of power in the case of their class organization, the workers will arrive at the creation of the organic scaffolding of their state and they will counterpose it victoriously to the parliamentary state. read more »

Workers’ Factory Takeovers and the 'Programme for Self-Managed Work'

In the last decade many Argentine enterprises became bankrupt, inspiring thousands of workers to take them over and resume production by forming cooperatives. In 2004, the Programme for Self-Managed Work became the instrument by which the government ‘institutionalised’ the takeovers, de- politicising the radical aspects of workers’ actions in exchange for financial and technical assistance in pursuit of workers’ objectives of job preservation and self-managed work.

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1918-1921: The Italian factory occupations and Biennio Rosso

After the First World War, Europe’s working class went on a massive radicalisation process. Union membership exploded with strikes, demonstrations and uprisings increasing with it. Italy was no exception. Its workers were angry with the fall-out from the war and were getting increasingly militant. A perfect example of this can be found in the factory occupations of 1920.

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