The People’s Carnival that took place in the town of Pomigliano (Southern Italy) in 1977 was an exemplary moment in the history of the Italian Left. Combining folk music, art performance and a radical language, thousands automobile workers and their families gathered up against austerity. The event was depicted in a documentary that I screened (in an edited version) during the event New Politics of Autonomy, at Bluestockings Bookstore, New York, on October 27, 2013, together with Ben Morea (founder of the Black Mask group). This is an excerpt from the talk.
I've been working in this factory
For nigh on fifteen years
All this time I watched my woman
Drowning in a pool of tears
And I've seen a lot of good folks die
That had a lot of bills to pay
I'd give the shirt right off my back
If I had the guts to say
Take This Job And Shove It
David Allan Coe – Take This Job And Shove It (1977)
At the end of the 1970s, Italy was going through a traumatic yet extremely creative phase of its history. Those were the heydays of the Autonomia movement: radical extra-parliamentary groups (composed by students, unionists, workers, unemployed) were fiercely confronting the austerity politics imposed by the bigot, mafia ridden Christian-Democrats (DC) with the complicity of the Communist Party (PCI). While society was increasingly subjected to militarization, corruption was rampant; the decaying political establishment was more arrogant than ever. The party founded by Antonio Gramsci was seen as a Stalinist oppressor by the movement, the big unions as its partners in crime. Not a single day passed without a major demonstration or a few Molotov bombs thrown at the police.