Header image 

International Communist Workers Party

line decor
   ICWP@Anonymousspeech.com       RSS image    
line decor


About ICWP

Red Flag Newspaper

Article Series from Red Flag

Communist Dialectics


Italy's Hot Autumn of 1969:

Migrant Industrial Workers Led Attack on Wage Slavery

Text Size:  ABC  ABC

Alfonso Natella worked at the Fiat car works in Turin during The Hot Autumn of 1969.  Southern Italian migrants like him turned these factories into cauldrons of rebellion. The novel We Want Everything tells his story.
The character based on Natella gives a rousing speech at the end. It reads in part:
We say no to the reforms that the unions and the [so-called communist] party want us to fight for. Because we understand that those reforms only improve the system that the bosses exploit us with. Why should we care about being exploited more, with a few more apartments, a few more medicines and a few more kids at school? All of this only advances the State, advances the [bosses] interest… Our aims, the interests of the working class, are the mortal enemy of capital and its interests.
We started this great struggle by demanding more money and less work… And now we must move from the struggle for wages to the struggle for power.
Comrades, let us refuse [exploitive] work. We want all the power; we want all the wealth. It will be a long struggle, years, with successes and setbacks, with defeats and advances. But this is the struggle that we have to start now, a violent fight to the end. We must fight to end [exploitive] work. We must fight for the violent destruction of capital. We must fight against a State founded on [exploitation]. We say:  yes to working class violence.
Words like these were repeated many times during The Hot Autumn at worker assemblies inside the plants and together with radical students in warehouses near the factories. They were spoken at the daily marches that crisscrossed the cities of Turin and Milan. They were distributed around the road-blocks that workers from hundreds of factories and thousands of students erected and fought to protect.

Insurrection Outside the Plants
The center of the struggle was the 150,000 person Mirafiora Fiat factory in the northern city of Turin. But it didn’t stay there and it went far beyond even other industrial plants.
The first insurrection occurred in the neighborhood surrounding the car works. Tens of thousands of southern workers were forced into this run-down area, if they had a home at all. In July of 1969, migrant Fiat workers turned a run-of-the-mill union demonstration over housing into a days-long street battle with the cops.
During the insurrection, worker-student groups issued leaflets that called rent a theft of salary. In communism, there will be neither salaries not rent. Housing will be provided for everyone. We will collectively end segregated living. Southern Italian migrants will never be separated from northern Italian workers, nor will black from Latin from white workers in the U.S. No more racist slumlords will profit from the super-exploited in Turin or in Detroit. As soon as possible, we’ll replace slums with collective housing.
Bigger insurrections were to follow. L’Unita’ began calling it the Hot Autumn referencing “the long hot summer” of ghetto rebellions in the U.S.
… And in Them
Workers called the factories their Vietnam. Political posters were pasted outside and inside the factories, consciously imitating the wall posters of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Delegates (shop stewards) were ignored; mass meetings made the decisions.
For months, 300,000 workers a day on average rebelled. Super-exploited southern migrants led continuous marches through the plants. “Red handkerchiefs” (named for the masks worn by the punishment squad) beat up hated line bosses or chained them to railings. Rebels would shut down one line, then march through the factory. Other lines would follow until production stopped. Then workers would stay in the plants to meet.
The communist party and the unions called these coordinated wildcats “illegal and un-trade-unionist.” But student and worker fighters called the shots. They labeled the trade unions (and their backers in the party) “bodyguards of capitalism.”
The hysterical bosses’ press screamed that Milan and Turin had become “war zones.” The streets resonated with chants like “The bosses’ state is for smashing not changing” and “What do we want? Everything! When do we want it? Now!”
Government repression was vicious and sabotage by the pseudo-communist party-led unions was ever-present. On the other hand, nine million southern migrants were open to a communist alternative to dead-end militant reform. Many others would follow their lead.

From Insurrection to Communist Revolution
The situation was ripe for a party like the ICWP. Millions would have embraced a newspaper like Red Flag that focused on communist solutions. The calls for working class violence would center on communist revolution, not just around the immediate demands of the rebellion.
The mass meetings could have discussed not only the plans for the next rebellion (as essential as that is) but also how communism would work. Communist centers of production would focus on collective work to provide for everyone’s need. Mental and manual labor would merge into one. Migrants would no longer perform only the hardest, most menial tasks. There would no longer be migrants or immigrants, only workers. This model would spread throughout society.
The assemblies could have armed the working class with a clear understanding of their goal: to mobilize the masses for communism. For starters, these industrial workers in the north would have found comrades among their friends and family in the south, many of whom were literally starving.
We see similar heroic anti-racist class struggle around the world today. Many are no longer the mere victims of the bosses’ crisis. New fighters have the potential to become the makers of history. Join the ICWP. Make that potential real!

Next Article