Lightning Conductors and Stand-ins

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Lightning Conductors and Stand-ins

Preface to the first edition

This pamphlet is a response to Azione Rivoluzionaria’s document ‘Notes for an internal and external discussion’ that appeared in no. 13-14 of ‘Countrainformazione’. The articles “Parafulmini e controfigure” and “L.A.xC.=Nihil” are the immediate response of two comrades to AR’s document. Having been refused by two reviews of the movement, it became necessary to spread their publication autonomously. We are reporting the passages of the review ‘Insurrezione’ that deal directly with the question of ‘armed struggle’, and two articles that appeared in ‘Anarchismo’ n. 21 and n. 23-24, interventions that the text of AR qualify as ‘critique-critique’. We also report a few passages of Vaneigem, who, beyond the confusion and ambiguity, denote a position that is quite far from armed strugglism, in spite of the clumsy attempt of AR to co-opt him as ideological inspirer of the more intellectualized terrorism.

Finally, we include a few texts from Apocalisse e rivoluzione (1973) as a contribution to the comprehension and critique of the project of the civil war in vitro, effectively realized a few years later.

Preface to the second edition

Here is the second edition of this auspicious little book which, obscurely and without kicking up a fuss, marks the first clarifications of the insurrectional orientation within the Italian anarchist movement. By that I mean, let’s be clear, revolutionary anarchist insurrectionalism, not expectations of the gigantic mass movement that is to destroy all the existent or as much as is necessary in one great day to set things right and give life to the anarchist society. There is no trace of such a way of conceiving insurrectionalism in this little book other than as the postponement to the generalization of the clash, which could very well abort in nothing - or in tremendous repression - there being no guarantee at all. So, these few precious pages mark the first steps taken to highlight certain critiques, which had become absolutely urgent at the time (1977), concerning the so-called armed organizations (combatant or otherwise).

I hope that this reprint will also be of use to all those with a heartfelt desire to sanctify guerrilla activity, which, if on the one hand began with good auspices, ended up taking an anything but acceptable turn. I am referring to the great theoretical-practical experience of Azione Rivoluzionaria. And the critique raised here against positions that soon began to emerge within this very organization after a few months’ activity and analytical reflection, was made at the time, contextually, while the iron was hot, showing no mercy for the dead or imprisoned comrades, nor illusions concerning the fact that we ‘are shooting too’, so will also ‘win’.

The writer of this introduction (coauthor, along with some other comrades, of the little book in question), happened to come up with the slogan “only shooting one wins”, and reconfirms that this far-off affirmation cost him a two and a half year’s prison sentence in 1972. In fact it is precisely by shooting that one wins. But what does winning mean? Certainly not conquering something. To win also means getting rid of a number of obstacles from the field (men and things), in order to start a new game, the construction of a new world free of all power and it’s abuses, a world that cannot wholly emerge from ‘victory’, but which will probably cost more struggles, more blood, more misunderstandings, etc.

You can only win by shooting if you consider this victory a first, quite modest, step towards the beginning of something really great but which is elsewhere, beyond political calculation or measuring strength, beyond the dazzling action that might fascinate us today, but does not completely convince us. The struggle that develops towards its insurrectional, therefore revolutionary, generalization, is something that takes a long time and cannot close itself up in the concept of ‘victory’.

The same goes for so-called ‘proletarian justice’. I have come back to this definition more than once when talking of Azione Rivoluzionaria, and I have received retorts. But we should bear in mind that this is a dated concept which, in its time, pointed to the urgency of a practice that certainly wasn’t central: putting those responsible for specific abuse in their place, i.e. flat on their backs, without for that wanting to establish a ‘higher’ conception of justice (proper tribunals, just laws, opportune sentences – all rubbish that has never interested us), but just an indispensible job of cleaning up, even on a large scale, at the moment when the generalization of the insurrectional struggle is about to significantly get underway. At a moment of intermediate conflict this kind of response to particular repressive conditions can be seen as a practice of great significance, if nothing other than as preparation for future, far more difficult and articulated tasks. After all, precisely in this ‘neglected’ little book you can find a critique of the concept of ‘proletarian justice’, limited, and rightly so in my opinion, to the possible confusion with a more specific concept of justice, that of the courts, I mean that which strikes everyone every day. Other problems appear. ‘Going into clandestinity’ as I said before, is one. Closing oneself up like a clam, cutting off contact with the human condition that is so difficult to keep repairing in the face of the constant attempts of power to isolate us? Of course, specialization is always the shortest road for getting immediate results. But are these results really what is required? Do we really need a crosscheck to show ourselves how clever we are? To change identity, our way of life, the places we frequent, build a fictitious universe around ourselves of survival and military decisions is all possible, but does that not deprive us of something essential: of what we really are, of what we really could be? It seems to me that today this problem, and these questions, are finding different answers to those being put forward at the end of the seventies. There is however a fairly evident new turn. Not being able to integrate one’s life with what one considers one’s revolutionary project is a really weird condition. One lives out a fantisized version of what should be an adventure in the true sense of the word. That is the situation which, sooner or later, leads to regret and resentment. The fullness of life that one imagined one held the key to starts to fade fast like a cut flower. In times like ours, when all around us there are comrades that have been left with a bitter taste in their mouth, this is something to think about. What have they done (some of them) with their lives? And then, there is the icon. This must be defended at any cost. The little saint, the brand name, the swearing of allegiance. Anyone who refuses to do so has no credibility. How dare they make an about-turn? And when we point out that you can’t go back on something that you never agreed with in the first place, the glittering icon lights up maliciously. One doesn’t discuss, one simply swears on a declaration of faith. Now, there is not a shadow of doubt that a specific anarchist organization capable of facing the conditions of the clash is indispensable. It is equally without doubt that each one of us contributes - some more, some less - to the construction of this organization according to their own story and the era in which they carry out their revolutionary activity. I am referring to anarchist and revolutionary comrades here, not to daubers of ink and the chatterers. But it is equally beyond doubt that when forms of the specific organization start to degenerate, such as happened with Azione Rivoluzionaria at a certain point critique becomes indispensible, and no sentimental appeal can convince me of the contrary.

This little book includes texts that were part of something in course while debate was still possible, far before the sad conclusion of Azione Rivoluzionaria. Had they been written in the sphere of the decisions that were to end up in the union of the combatant organizations, they would not have made any sense. And clearly the premises were such as to allow reasonable foundation to the objections being raised. The management of publicity concerning attacks, just to give an example. Here too - as in the drawing up of the ‘communiques’ - the initial model of the Angry Brigade (which were discussed and for a short time used by them), soon became no more than a faint memory. The concise brevity of that incisive model - unique concerning the ‘management’ of actions and ‘relations’ with the press - was soon lost in the claim to ‘explain’, a typical schoolteacher-like attitude that is still hard to die, if not in the minds, certainly in the desire of many comrades.

Then, the important, if not exactly brilliant, huge actions (the Moro kidnapping for example), that filled up pages and pages of the newspapers. If a specific organization makes such a choice instead of limiting itself to small actions of attack and sabotage, this is not so much an oversight or a defect in organizational operativity as a choice of field and, seen from another angle, an inevitable involution towards organizational ‘closure’. If small actions can easily be generalized (as everybody could see in the last half of the eighties and more than half of the nineties), the same cannot be said for the more substantial ones (even without having recourse to the model of the Moro kidnapping), which in their geometrically military distance from the people can do no more than raise a cheer from the stadium.

The critique concerning any organizational model of a specific anarchist armed structure mapped out in this book (and in other writings of mine at the time which were also stigmatized in the “Comuniques” of Azione Rivoluzionaria) still stands today. In any case, being questions of great importance and inexhaustible actuality, I think that they should be meditated upon in depth by any serious comrade.

Alfredo M. Bonanno

Trieste 23 December 2000

Parafulmini e Controfigure
Lightning Conductors and Stand-ins

...for anyone - a latecomer - who has entered consumerism in the role of avant-guarde intellectual and wants to stop, there is nothing left to do but put oneself in a desperate and bilious race with the all-powerful centers of image production: get taken on as an actor or walk-on. Unpaid actor or walk-on and really dispensed with or in any case liquidated; in this consists the yearned for and beatifying “qualitative” differentiation. (G. Cesarano - G. Collu, Apocalisse e rivoluzione, Dedalo, Bari 1973, p. 93).

1. The movement of ’77 and the ‘guerriglia’

The chasing of Lama from Rome University in February 1977 marks the historic rupture of the Italian proletariat with the racket organizations that claimed to control and represent it. In this episode a new movement appeared out of the blue that was incomprehensible for constituted power.

In the preceding years capital and its experimenters had constructed in vitro two basic models in which the opposition and the DC-PCI (Christian Democrat - Communist Party) alliance and its programs of hunger and sacrifice were destined to identify themselves. The first, mapped out at the Lotta Continua congress in Rimini and the manifestation of the counterculture Circoli del proletariato giovanile, (Proletarian youth circles) tended towards channeling the mass of young people and unemployed towards claims of an essentially cultural character. The lesser of all evils for the system was that the young fight for their right to a new identity and an alternative life-style to be recognized in which, merged together the ideology of the trip, the smugness of drugs, the crying and lamentations about emargination and the ‘crisis of values’, the claim for the right to the most pointless and contradictory customs. Some self-reduction could be included in the framework of such an ideology. The only thing that shocked the reporters of “L’Unità” and “Corriere della sera” were the expropriations where the mob stocked up with champagne and caviar, thereby showing a refusal of “content” where the young were to “come together”: ideologies and neo-christian values of poverty, scarcity and the crisis. In the sphere of these “new” ideals the young masses also complained and debated endlessly, not in order to rebel against them and destroy them, but to affirm the dignity of their existential condition and the freedom to decorate themselves with as many feathers and masks as they liked.

The other kind of opposition that power was preparing to neutralize to its advantage was the abstract and specialistic military one. For a long time sociologists had been saying that, with the worsening of the social and economic crisis, the increase in unemployment and the progressive criminalization of the preventive opponents of the DC-PCI block, an increase in terrorism would also have to be taken into account. Italian capital could willingly accept this challenge, so long as it remained within the military field alone. In fact, this kind of clash (which after a fashion can always be reduced to a technical problem where capital’s forces were superior to those of the enemy from the start), if it carried indubious hardship for the ranks of the civil servants and cops, on the other hand presented such advantages as to make it become the lesser of two evils, incomparably preferable to the danger of an illegal violent mass movement of opposition. First of all, the essentially spectacular character of most of the terrorist actions (in particular the murders: the audience love blood) supplied the system with the possibility of turning even the lowest figures of its repressive apparatus into great propagandistic successes; moreover, the development of a limited civil war would induce all the enemies of power to escape from the real daily war into clandestinity and gave the State the opportunity to express its own brand of terrorism to the best of its ability, in a framework of a permanent state of siege and generalized enlistment. Above all, it would freeze the most part - the masses, the people, the proletariat, that the clandestine militant refers to - into the role of indignant spectators, or supporters (electrified by the sensational development and fascinated to live their own ‘adventures’ in dream form, in reality they were reproducing their own condition of powerlessness), in either case, passive participants. Finally, the economy of entrenched camps is in itself a rationing economy, where each one is asked for full identification with the crisis diversion; while there is no public order more perfect than that of the sniper and the curfew. As the enemy could be just around the corner, one barricades oneself at home waiting for the right moment in which to unleash no longer revolutionary passion, but compressed rancor and the chain of retaliation. In Europe the precedent of Northern Ireland had already demonstrated how the militarization of the struggle - wanted as much by the IRA as by the occupying army - supplies an economic and operational outlet for capital, cleans the streets of the combatant yobs of young unemployed and blockades and divides workers affected by avid demands.

The movement of ’77 radically disrupted all the forecasts of the experts of Italian capital. The attack on trades union leader Lama is the expression of uncontrollable, spontaneous, generalized violence, which abruptly shattered all cultural barriers and preconceived generalizations: ‘indians’ and militants of the Autonomia, young ‘hippies’ and organized workers met in action, beyond their respective sociological identities - which for revolutionaries were certainly not be exalted but abolished, - just like proletariat, i.e. as an historic movement that destroys and goes beyond capital and the demented society produced by it. The nightmare of every power structure takes form and becomes real: proletarians meet without intermediaries, each one autonomously taking charge of solving their own problems and refusing all those - trade unionists, stalinist bureaucrats, militant groupuscules or counter-cultural ideologues - that claimed to speak in their name, and start organizing themselves collectively. Here, in spite of the self-proclaimed vanguards and political specialists – the wildcat workers’ movement find their natural allies and comrades, in the young unemployed, in the mob of the suburbs and universities. The corrupt edifice of the ‘historic compromise’ [Christian Democrats and Communist Party] vacillates under the blows of a mass movement that is violent and armed. This movement - which one month after the attack on Lama’s rally rose up on March 12 in Rome and Bologna - precisely in its practice of violence, demonstrated its total extraneousness not only to the tear-jerking problematic of the specialists of the ‘personal’ and the foreseeable ‘irony’ of so many aspiring intellectuals of the ‘creative wing’, but also to the logic of the clandestine armed organizations. From the pages of the last issue of “Controinformazione”, Azione Rivoluzionaria accuses the review “Insurrezione” of having revealed the hard-core separateness between the insurgents of March and the specialists of armed struggle: “...the movement of ’77 did not appear from nowhere, it has a history behind it that has also been influenced, it’s hard to deny, by the actions of guerrilla warfare. If people in Rome had limited themselves to irony, Lama would have held his conference at the University and what has become an historic event, Lama being chased out of the University, would simply have been a disturbed conference, even if with intelligence, but all the same a rally, therefore a victory for Lama and his acolytes. It is hard to separate the movement of ’77 from all that was said and done over these years, especially by the armed groups and the autonomous guerrilla». (Azione Rivoluzionaria, Notes for an internal and external discussion in “Controinformazione”, n. 13-14, March 1979 p. 90).

Far from limiting themselves to irony, thousands and thousands of combatants did not hesitate to take arms for themselves when they needed them, looting the gunshops on March 12, while the clandestine militants were worrying about getting out their criticism of these actions as ‘spontaneist’ and ‘adventurist’, i.e. that escaped their control and were contrary in pratice to any delegation of solving their own problems, including military ones.

Power did not use interpretative patterns very different from those of the guerrilla fighters of AR: for the whole of ’77, attempting to repropose the two preconstituted identities - the counter-cultural and the militarist - that the movement had refused, it tried opposing a ‘creative’ spirit and a ‘combatant’ soul of the movement. In this way politicians, journalists and sociologists as usual understood fuck all of reality, but in recompense tried, on the one hand to maneuver the cultural rebels - youth movement, metropolitan indians, feminists etc. - against the development of a determination and coherence of the revolutionary movement, on the other to give credit to the idiocy of the plot plotted by occult paramilitary organizations. The movement had known how to scream in the face of all its paid observers what they really were: IDIOTS!

For their part, neither the cultural vanguards nor the armed vanguards were capable of distinguishing themselves from the servants of power in their understanding of reality. Even less can it be said today that the critiques made by Azione Rivoluzionaria were intelligent: « ... it is possible to put forward the opposite hypothesis: the movement would already have been routed, in its centers, its papers, its radio stations, if the guerrilla had not acted as a lightening conductor, pulling the whole repressive apparatus upon itself ». (Text quoted, p. 90). If the recent wave of arrests of Autonomia Operaia militants accused of the Moro kidnapping clear the field of this nonsense, it is worth considering for a moment the most ambitious of all the actions of the urban guerrilla, precisely the Moro kidnapping. According to Azione Rivoluzionaria, for this undertaking whose «essence lies in the capacity of the revolutionary movement as a whole [and the Brigate Rosse recognize themselves as part of this movement] to deal a blow to the center». (Text cited, pag. 88). «The clandestine movement paid the price for the psychological war that was unleashed, the suspicion, the Brigatista-hunt, the awakened police-like vocations». (Text cited, p. 89). Apart from the undeniable fact that with the Moro kidnapping power had justified hundreds and hundreds of arrests, charges and arbitrary imprisonment within the movement, and limiting ourselves to remembering that the only concrete request of major repressive rigor made by the PCI to the Christian Democrat government was on the occasion of the closing of the meeting places and arrest of a series of militants - indicated by their full names – of Autonomia Operaia of Rome, the BR had turned their blow “to the center” of the revolutionary tension that persisted, even though fully in the phase of reflux, in Rome for more than a year, arrogantly imposing the spectacle or symbol of the revolutionary struggle on to everybody’s attention. In the incredible atmosphere of these days inevitably perceived as irrelevant, i.e. not wanted, not lived and not understood by revolutionaries, it became possible to nail the masses down again to the passivity similar to watching a film. After a year of determined struggles carried out by subjects acting autonomously in daily reality common to everybody, they turned in on themselves at the mercy of external forces that move not only the will but also everybody’s consciousness from above. Held between these far-off forces one was pushed to choose under the pressure of real blackmail: one had to take sides, delegate once again. If the State could impose its own infamous blackmail on everybody (‘either with me or with terrorism’), the BR was asking everybody to dream: or rather to cheer them, or develop the more ‘radical’ intention to one day join the game of heroes. This has been the message of the BR: enlist, or stay at home, put on the TV and clap your hands: that had always been the message of the clandestine organizations: the Moro action simply brought it into everybody’s home and in this way forced all those who wanted to remain faithful to their own revolutionary subjectivity to reject it radically.

2. The hierarchy of the ‘Popular Front’ of clandestine organizations: actors and stand-ins. With clumsy zeal Azione Rivoluzionaria makes the blackmail that had always been concealed by the bureaucratic-political language of the BR proclamations explicit: «The critique critique that tends to isolate guerrilla warfare from the movement is perfectly functional to the plan of repression that uses violence against the guerrilla and uses critique (from Asor Rosa to passionless cynics) to isolate it. The ‘critique critique’, that knows everything, does not know that by isolating the guerrilla it is also preparing the conditions for its own precipitation into clandestinity, unless capital, in its great ingeniousness, just as it does not know today how to recognize its friends and tortures, kills, persecutes terrorists, tomorrow will not know how to recognize as its sole enemy the critique critique and guarantee it chairs and podiums». (Testo citato, p. 90) Without staying to confute the Christian imbecility of those who want to see the truth of a faith demonstrated by the martyrdom of its followers, what immediately comes to mind, reading this infamous passage, is the blackmail directed for 50 years by stalinism against all the international opposition (the same that Lenin had directed against Kronstadt and the Workers Opposition): ‘Russia, home of socialism, is threatened by the imperialists and to defend it thousands and thousands of proletarians all over the world have sacrificed themselves: so if you criticize Russia, you are obstructing internal or foreign politics etc., you are useful to imperialism, or rather you are nothing but a cover, a mask, agents of disguised international fascism’. Azione Rivoluzionaria launches all this against whoever criticizes clandestine struggle in a document in which they make no critique of the stalinists of the BR, allies in the process of construction of the guerrilla.

The complicity of the anarchists in the counter-revolution in Spain in 1936-37 demonstrates with a thousand examples such as ‘who sleeps with dogs wakes up with fleas’, so whoever goes with the stalinists learns to slander the revolutionaries. As in Spain, there exists a Popular Front in Italy today, minoritarian and clandestine, of course, but which aspires, like that of the past, to become majoritarian and in power, to gather the impetus of the revolutionary proletariat into its ranks. An even minimal knowledge of revolutions and counterrevolutions of the past clarifies that within every popular front there exist very rigid hierarchies that correspond to different specific gravity of the organizations that make them up. For example in the Spain of 1936-37 the tiny Communist Party had enormous authority inside the Popular Front, superior to that of the anarchists, even though the latter were the major force of the Spanish proletariat. The present front of clandestine organizations has an essentially spectacular result: that is why the Fronte Popolare is not a question of sharing out the ministries of a counter-revolutionary government, but also in this case the Front has its internal hierarchy: while the role of protagonist and main actors are indiscutibly assigned to the stalinists, nothing remains for the strange libertarians of Azione Rivoluzionaria but the role of stand-in. To the Brigatisti the headlines of the dailies and the cheers of the passive admirers; to the anarchists ugly downfalls and acts at breakneck speed.

3. Critique of daily life

«Only (and we excuse the critique critique here) real autonomy in the armed project against all aspects of social life, the constitution of a network of resistance and attack on the vital centers of exploitation and death, living one’s life fully, aware of already being partly outside the grip of capital, can allow this road to liberation to begin. But even here, at the level of the operating subject, just as at the social level, it is necessary to cut one’s bridges with daily normality, create a situation of no return, go into clandestinity». (Testo citato, p. 90). Thus guerrillas of Azione Rivoluzionaria ammoniate the critique of daily life. We have already said how, in realty, the “strategic choice of clandestinity” never gave the militants of Azione Rivoluzionaria anything more than “liberation” in the catastrophic role of stand-in. To the opposite, radical critique, which the Azione Rivoluzionaria document (which among other things copies all the critical thematics “Insurrezione”, except for insulting its own source, to which it attributes positions that are totally invented) tries to recuperate some positions, for example, Vaneigem, who has never expressed any sympathy for political terrorism, and has on the contrary always condemned positions of armed immediatism like that of the document of Azione Rivoluzionaria. It is clear therefore that when a practice that explicitly places its discriminant in the “strategic choice of clandestinity” takes determined positions, for example on the critique of daily life, they do so exclusively with the aim of recuperation.

The only radical position to take towards the existent is, today, that of those who from their specific position in society (the situation in which most spontaneously and sincerely they develop their social relations, communication, love, friendship) are facing real war – daily and without quarter – against capital and its interiorization. That means above all struggle against the organization of one’s own life according to the world of appearances, images – therefore struggle against the interiorization of the codes of behavior that capital is constantly producing, renewing and transmitting. To want to be revolutionaries, i.e. to want live the possible adventure of life according to one’s own material passions and one’s own living senses, implies the radical refusal of identification with any social determination of capital, with any identity, preconstituted and fictitious mask, that hides and mystifies the dynamic of life. It is in perceiving oneself as body in movement, recognizing one’s passions for what they are, that is, irreducible to the society of symbols and its organization, and arming oneself against it, that it is possible for each one to find the sense of a unique and specific life. And it is at this point that necessity presents itself and along with it opens up the possibility to communicate the armed project against capital and live in the community that surrounds us. Any coherent revolutionary praxis recognizes the falsity of all the social identities proposed by capital and fights all of them, knowing them to be, in the most violent and sectarian forms, absolutely clandestine for the spectacle, knows that it is elsewhere. Certainly who lives this elsewhere in immediate or geographical terms has not the faintest idea of where it is to be found: there is no other field of battle than the world dominated in total by capital, inside and outside individuals, and from this world, this battle, there is no escape. Whereas for who knowingly fights the real war both inside and outside himself, clandestinity might become an unavoidable necessity in some cases, but always one more obstacle to overcome in the battle for one’s own transparency and coherence. Those who fictitiously push away their ‘normal’ social identity to choose the heroic and spectacularly hyperevaluated one of the “guerrilla warrior”, clandestine for the real movement as much as for the police, come to find themselves today, due to one of the tricks that the spectacular optic plays, not only at the center of the shoot-outs, but also at the center of the fire of the cameras, at the center of the spectacle. What was to have been a struggle against value becomes the ultimate valorization possible of the personality of the militant, the ultimate sacrificial rite capable of producing value. As the strange libertarians of Azione Rivoluzionaria declare, it is true that the spreading of the clandestine military practice democratizes today this possibility of self-valorization: « every village, every city, now has its stage and its actors; violence is a spectacle available to anyone of good will ». (Text cited, p. 90). In the same way, but from an opposite point of view, it is true that revolutionary violence, if it wants to be, destroys every stage and every spectacle and knows to see in all actors the natural enemies of truth and overcoming.

[May ’79]

Cues of non-news

* The guerrilla (little war), has been made to degenerate from the communitarian expression of a rupture with the values with which power substantiates itself into specialistic social reason of political apparatuses, and reduced to a military expression of social unrest. It has thus been able to become the tool with which the indigenous bourgeoisie enter the “heart of power” moving out the managerial classes too prone to foreign (or multinational) Capital.

* The armed struggle ideology is the product of two political mythologies, both democraticist: antifascist resistentialism, and third-worldism with its “national liberations”; they are vehicles for the transformation of forms of power, not their suppression.

* Armed struggle-ism is the continuation of politics with other means. The post-sixty-eight reflux and the failure of the micro-bureaucratic groupuscules drowned in the swamp of re-editions of old tools of the politics of the remote past that manifested themselves historically, was not enough to sweep away the contents with which it fed itself. These live again in armed struggle-ism.

* Armed struggle-ism is, then, a form of struggle that reproposes politics by taking it to the extreme: vanguardism, specialization, unidimensionality of action, incompleteness, separation.

In that it is an extremicised form, it is not difficult to find in armed struggle the facet of polihedron politics: armed... reformism, economicism, workerism, feminism, ecologism!

* Is “arming oneself” only a giving a gun to politics, putting a virile prosthesis into the rachitic hand of representation? To arm spirits, expel introjected values and ideologies, get rid of the archaisms of the historical past (of defeat), overcome remotion, affirm desire, refuse the alienation that turns us into things, vibrate with passion, be conductors of life - in a word invest with our practical critique every situation where dominion is reproduced and do this without falling into specialized roles, is nothing other than reproposing politics - in the virile and martial form ?

* Sociality sinks its roots into the subjective daily lived, and is the real critique perceptible by anyone with all five senses.

Politics are born (and abort) in the economy and in the ritualism of its merchandise. Man, to find himself, struggles against the logic of the merchandise that subjects him. Politics remains prisoner of the imperative of goods: it can only interfere with the rhythms of their production, one doesn’t question the reasons for their very existence.

* In the world of fragmentation and representation, each one turns (their own) partiality into globality; each one charges with escatologic values its chosen role, and looks disdainfully at all the rest.

Until now there has been who has made of the economy and the productive sphere the main contradiction, the weight-bearing axis, centrality, etc. There is who – in the eternal search for the “new” revolutionary subject and the revolutionary means par excellence – has carried out the same operation with youth, women, marginals, the mad, etc.

The armed strugglists consider that their means is the revolutionary one in absolute, and attribute to their practice primacy, qualitative superiority, the subversive potential that is greater than all the others.

Since when, in the struggle against power that founds its dominion on specialization and separation, a practice – partial, reiterated, serial – is superior to all the others? Why?

* Capital is not just economy, politics, repression... it is the power of the means of communication, it is spectacle, it is the capacity to represent reality in the way that is most convenient to it, it is control of science and knowledge... it is psychiatry, the university professor, medicine, the priest, the worker, etc.

There exist therefore the contradictions between what one is forced to do (be) and making emerge the human essence denied by Capital/State, but is capable of denying it. The revolutionary movement will affirm itself if it is capable of facing – and denying – all the contradictions, in width and depth, i.e. every moment of the reproduction of dominion.

* The equation “anything that is violent = revolutionary”, or “the field of illegality = impossibility of recuperation by power”, is false. Because it bases itself on counter-position - negation of only one of the reigning categories or values.

Power cannot exist – its code – to connote and give body totally to negation, to that which should destroy it; without remaining in its own field. You don’t deny the carabiniere with the counter-carabiniere, politics with politics, alienation with alienated means.

* The division between the hands (action) and the rest, recalls the more general one between body and mind, limbs and propulsive cerebral centers. It is the reproposition of the counterposition thought/action, intellectual/militant, theoretician/combatant, courage/cowardice, etc. Cocooned within one’s own reified practice – considered superior to others of course – one ends up keeping oneself removed from radicality, that is from one’s own organic recomposition to find subjectivity.

In France, where primacy is given to theory: a plethora of pamphlets, brochures; alienation in writing.

In Italy, country of the predominance of practice, there is a sequence of gesture-actions (political symbols of negation) repeated obsessively, generalized in time and space with the tuning fork to the rhythms of the assembly line, the quantitative has been taken as the guiding value: hence the Molotov alienation.

Two substantially equivalent forms of incompleteness: ideas that never become practice, and practice that never knows how to go beyond itself for its disdain of theory.

* What is an attack? It can be sabotage (if carried out by the producers it is one of the symptoms that announce the proximity of insurrection) or shattering a wall. Shattering is shattering. But in the scenario of the political spectacle shattering becomes a coded language, communication by symbols. It can mean: we don’t want it, we are angry, we want to scare you; but it says it with a symbol that strikes, a symbol of alienation. Moreover, it must also be interpreted!

* At the Turin trial, the young stalinist Franceschini said: “We shoot the functions, the togas, if then there is a man inside them that’s too bad...”.

The debate on the connection and reciprocal determinations between function and functionary is ancient, and keeps resurging from its own ashes. There can be no doubt that a social rebellion such as the Russian one that managed to eliminate all the civil-servants (the human workings of the machinery of power), did not manage to go beyond the capitalist function, form. And that, for many reasons, not least that which makes leninists the apologists of industrialization, and vehicles of the penetration of capital into Asia and Africa, through the liberation fronts.

There where a social movement, although partial, has failed, can a stalinist micro-bureaucracy with its cult of maximum spectacular action succeed? With its once tragic ideology, today farcical, of stalinism?

With its constant negation of the sociality of the movement to pervert it and secure oneself “political representativity”? For these people the party is everything, the movement is nothing.

To shoot a judge is not yet a critique of law, so much so that they have “people’s” trials, applying “revolutionary” law, exercising “proletarian” justice.

* The discourse on means and ends is still valid. For materialists, the end is contained in the means, the means are already the end, one is a consequence of the other. A is A, and not A, in virtue of faith, can become B.

* For the armed-strugglists you don’t know whether the production of an event (kneecapping) is more important or its management through the mass media to reinforce their “political image” with the proletarians. Surely access to the means of communication of power is an alienated way to communicate with the proletarians.

In the face of the spectacular event in which the active subjects are few, nothing remains to others but passive fruition, cheers in favor of or against, identification or not with the operative staff. Whether it be a question of trade union, cultural, or armed strugglist operators is of little importance.

The revolution is the abandoning of the spectacle that renders passive, that renders objects, eyes that see images, it is the multiplication of critical subjects capable of recognizing in oneself (and always less in the vanguards of the spectacle) the capacity to act, and in a creative way.

* “It is never completely true that the mass are vile or obtuse, when they appear so; it is true that they are never disposed to deceive themselves in useless daring or on the separate intelligence of efficacy. They might identify with this by transference, as spectators, and it is their way of defending themselves when they don’t really believe in themselves“.

* For the “masses”, obviously, armed strugglism is to the insurrectional impulse what premature ejaculation is to the orgasm.

Armed strugglism always ends up being the miniaturization of civil war, its containment, its piloted control. Above all if it reduces itself to the monovalent expression of the combatant party. This will produce effects that for power are comparable to the slaughter of public holidays on the motorways.

* Spectacular violence bases the very criteria of violence, becoming parametre and meter of measure.

The more spectacular the violence the more it banalizes the infinite violence that each one puts up with in daily life. This ends up pulverizing itself, disappearing, seeming minutiae of nevrotics, reproachable frustrations.

The more one puts up with passively, the more one needs the spectacle of violence to consume in the shadows of survival.

The more one abandons the field of the contradictions in daily life, the more politics advances and sociality recedes.

* The logic of the production of commodities is capital’s reason for being. It matters little if these are useful, useless, deadly or enjoyable. It is important that they are produced (and consumed), that they incorporate vital energy, that their possession becomes the distinctive trait of man, the scale of values with which to judge him.

Up until now the revolutionary movement has stayed within the logic of the production of commodities: it has asked for more money and less work, i.e. let’s produce less, give us more money to consume more.

A radical movement must today pose the problem: is the production of this merchandise useful? Can man give himself what he needs by using his own creative intelligence? That is, taking from the worker the character of goods producing goods, from work the character of alienation and from the product that of commodity.

A movement that is capable of imposing its own interests, and that asks itself fino in fondo its reasons for what it is constrained to do, can at last hope to realize liberation from work, and from capital’s destruction of nature. In the face of that all ecologist foolish ambitions appear in all their misery.

* To make oneself carriers of the happy story of reappropriation is still backing goods, it valorizes them.

Who – fetichist of industrialization – being excluded from the productive process finds himself theorizing reappropriation is a paralytic supporting himself on a crutch hired from power: he is not questioning the means of capitalist production, is not criticizing the worker-commodity because he is a workerist, and he exhorts the consumerism of plastic, poisons, noises, devitalizing things. They remain debtors of capital.

He who reappropriates violently is the close cousin of the other.

[“Anarchismo” n. 21, May-June 1978, pp. 156-158]

Italy 1977: an assault on the heavens

Italian review “Insurrezione” – novembre 1977,

translated from ‘Parafulmine e controfigure’, ed. Anarchismo

If we undoubtedly claim the wealth of violent and armed expressions of the movement (generalized theft and expropriation as critique of waged work, radicalization of clashes in the streets, sabotage, etc.), we are convinced, on the other hand, that the field of violence cannot in itself constitute a qualifying moment, a moment, in other words, that characterizes the new revolutionaries as such. «The impatience to use weapons at all costs today is delaying the moment in which the exploited as a whole will have recourse to arms, because it anticipates repression. Those congratulating themselves on the stupid use of arms are not the revolutionary movement, but the rearguard of its theoretical and strategic conscience». (Manifesto handed out in Bologna 23 September 1977, signed: Ass. For the Epidemic of Contagious Rage).

In our opinion, it is precisely social decomposition to push towards totalizing choices – armed struggle as a specialist and separate dimension – which, by reducing the complexity of the clash to a feud between gangs, remains in a field that capital can always manage for its own benefit. If, concerning the BR [Brigate Rossi] for example, we cannot prevent ourselves from feeling a feeling of sympathy for the measure in which they sometimes manage to ridicule and beat the State in its own field, we don’t forget that their neo-stalinist program is full of militaristic ideology and has nothing to do with the project of the proletarian revolution.

And on the basis of the failure of the movement of ‘68 it is possible to understand the present wave of terrorism. When, at the beginning of the 70s, the perspective of a total revolution seemed to be moving away, a few groups considered it possible to destroy the State in a military clash. The incapacity to understand how no armed voluntarism or other can take the place of the pace of the real movement, led to a curious ideology that puts together elements of a naive rebellious tendency and ultra-bolshevist traits, in a horrible pot-pourri. In the beginning, the armed groups at least obtained the aim of showing up the vulnerability of the State, all the same the rapid rationalization of the police apparatus immediately rendered the repression more effective and, soon, their practice transformed itself into a personal war, autonomised by a real struggle. Moreover, the typical slogan “strike the heart of the State”, hides the real objective, capital, which the State is only the phenominal manifestation of. Actually, the armed groups have become an obstacle to the development of the movement that they (BR) criticize as spontaneist and adventurist (!). These criticisms recall the lamentations of the official left, which these people only constitute the radical wing of. Independently of intentions and the revolutionary ardor of single individuals, we grasp in this kind of armed struggle the seeds of recuperation. Not only and not so much in the sense of the police-like cannibalization, but in the reduction, the repetition, absolutely functional to power, of the revolution to a simple military question. To that we are opposing real war, war that crosses the whole social totality and does not let itself simply be reduced to the armed clash. It is true that the groups of the autonomia do not identify with the BR, but it is just as true that their acritical pushing towards the militarization of the movement presents the same problems.

The State is clearly trying to push a large number of people into clandestinity. That reaches the objective of reducing the movement to its military dimensions, where power can still win, at least in this phase. Groups such as the Brigate Rosse believe they have found confirmation of their strategy. And it is significant that the recent period characterized by growing confusion and a kind of return to traditional militarism has been marked by the most stupid terrorism (Casalegno and Acca Laurentia).

It is obvious that the clandestine groups are now playing on the ambiguity between crises and revolution; between neo-stalinist management and radical transformation in the communist.

Further cues of non-news

* “The division of people into actors and spectators is the central fact of our time. We are obsessed by heroes that live for us and whom we punish. If all the radios and televisions were deprived of their sources of power, all books and paintings burnt tomorrow, every spectacle and cinema closed, all the arts of living per interposta persona o per procura...” (Jim Morrison). The most successful and involving spectacle that power of our time bowls at us daily are the magic pirotechnics of armed struggle. Few actors, many supporting actors, extras and a huge audience, all with the skillful direction amplifying structures of mass communication.

* Who would have believed that movements such as that of ’68 have run aground in the quicksands of groupescule reformism because power had firing positions (bocche di fuoco) and the others only anachronistic slings (“the Vietcong wins because he shoots”) and then one threw oneself a corpo morto to a give himself a hundred bocche di fuoco, today hardly manages to admit that the ratio of strength has changed in favor of power: if first it was1.000 weapons to one, today it is 600.000 to 300! The discrepancy magnifies in geometric proportions and doesn’t give a damn for arithmetical voluntarism! It is a game that has strange analogies with the electoral bullfight for the conquest of the 51 per cent of the bullets... The attack on one single field, moreover carried out by professional specialists, has induced a concentration and reinforcing of power to a military level (the mercenaries of the private police are now more numerous than the cops of the regular police). The sectorial and partial critique – and practice– solicited by the rationalization and modernization of the institutional military establishment; is the “anemic negation” that power incorporates to be able to continue to survive. the critique – and pratice – is either unitary (i.e. tends to invest itself with the totality of the institutions and ideologies that support it) or it is nothing.

* To understand that what one is consuming is not the civil war of a community that insurges against all the conditions of domination – but its pantomime rigged up by the scriptwriters of the mass-media, the psycho-dramatization dilated artfully by the specialists in “various humanities” – is very easy when you think of the Russian reality, where between 1905 and 1906 armed anarchists suppressed about 4.000 between civil servants and czarist officials! The reflection, if ever, should dwell on the consideration that in spite of this, in spite of this radicality of intent, the result was... that verminous and

heinous “soviet” State that had banned even the freedom to think. The contemporaneous emulators, with their tiny pharmacist’s scales and their attitudes of judicial auditors, are no more than the feeble echo of a past that power never tires of circumscribing, sterilizing and utilizing to “update” the spectacle of the upturned representation of reality, and to institute a diaphragm-bunker that separates once again the proletariat from themselves and from the implosion of their passions that are – these yes – destructive and capable of sweeping away the totality of sociality.

* What one is consuming, as well as not being a civil war, is not even a real guerrilla; Rudolf de Jong says in fact: “[the guerrilla is] ... war on a small scale, everywhere, supported by the whole population, or by large sectors of it, in which those who participate continue their daily life and work as far as possible. [ ... ] My concept of real guerrilla implies that the ‘professional’ guerrilla, who has abandoned his normal life does not belong. The Chinese Red Army in its ‘long march’ of the Thirties, the columns of Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra, the Bolivian group of Che Guevara, did not belong to the real guerrilla. They represent the nucleus of a new army, the foco – a word in vogue in the ’60s – of a new normal structure directed by power”. The qualitative difference between the guerrilla reduced to a profession and confined only to the lazzaretto of political economy (i.e. to the need for mere merci) and the Zapatista guerrilla is the same difference that runs between the life and the celluloide images of those trying to reproduce it. At Morelos it was the Indian population of the ancient communities that rebelled, because with the expropriation of their land to allow the expansion of the sugar industry all their life was being threatened, their values, their daily rythms, their intense communitarian life. It was the rebellion of a community that refused the model of survival that industry was the bearer of and that disintegrated the forms till then in force in which everybody recognized themselves. And in this rebellion of all, extended to every ambit of daily life, there was no room for specialisazion, for prefixed roles that tend to turn into professions, in a word, they did not fight the enemy that wanted their domestication by adopting the same schemes and ideologies, but by denying them radically. They refused the simile similia similibus and adopted the doctrine of contraries; already in the means used was recognizable the negation of the existent. The same for the Russian Machnovists: they were not just a handful of men in arms, but a vast community that associated itself according to other criteria, that produced, working the land with different criteria from those that had been imposed on them from that moment, that had instored interpersonal relations and interfederative between base groups always more socializing and that ... combated Bolscevichi and Whites.

* Contemporary lottarmatisti [armed-strugglists] still indulge in equivocal theorizations about “counterpower”, miniaturized and upturned images of the existent of which constitutes the other side of the medal, and they do not realize that they have already reproduced inside them that world which in their voluntaristic delirium believe they are negating. The process of transformation of realty and man is intended as a progressive widening of “counterpower” to the point of becoming Power, a widening obtainable by exasperating the mutilating partiality of the skeletal reduction of social subversion to its shadow of “military form” operated by specialized taylorists assembled in combattentist corporations. To the short-sighted enthusiasts of “counterpower” we remember what G. Sadoul wrote in “La Revolution Surrealiste” of December 1929: «I am taking the chance to salute la Ghepeu, revolutionary counter-police in the service of the proletariat, necessary to the Russian Revolution such as the Red Army». And Aragon in “Front Rouge” (1931): «Long live la Ghepeu, dialectical figure of heroism!». The fact that one can be only negation of power, antipower, and that to be thus it is not in fact sufficient to oppose oneself to some figurine-function-role of the dominion in act (cop, foremen, department heads), moreover changing the logic, and that instead you must extend the viewfinder of the critique to the subjectivity colonized by capital, domesticated to the objectivity of commodities interiorized and become me, to the logic of power introjected that becomes condizioned reflex, represents the threshold that lottarmatismo does not want to cross. Its “battle” monovalent, unidimensional, is all aimed at obtaining power over the production of commodities reevaluating objectivity, and in particular expresses a moralistic critique-pratice to the capetti there where they shy away, in a manichean way, from exercising criticism of their own subjectivity that... reproduce more power than they destroy.

* Those who leave two fingers under a hydraulic press, whose lungs wither in the mine or that do work so noxious that a fixed yearly quota runs into a death sentence; the professionals of the productive cycles of pestilential chemicals or nuclear that exposes their bodies to injury and could lead to the scars of work... well, not for this can they desert their role imposed on them, not dissolve the imaginary cage of the function to which they have been condemned.

Whyever should from some sgarrettamento, some “knee-capping” a higher level of paranoia should come out the effect– really miraculous! – of getting rid of the bad guys, of reclaiming the swamp from the (gregarious) capetti? To overestimate the effects produced by the pedagogy of terror (strike 1 to educate 100) means no take flight from the pavement of the purifying and purificatory mystique and stay entangled in the net of vendetta; and who illudes oneself to retaliate deciding to cut the net, is forced to dove into these waters, where it is the fisherman to have decided to down their nets.

* To strike commodities, technology, the reproduction cycle of the immuted present, the mechanism or the men? The resentful Christians and the Manicheans strike the men. The condition of proletariat is given by the awareness of not having any power over one’s life. The others – the gregarietti/capetti – are an exception? At least that one wants to exclude a priori any character of humanity from the process of social radical transformation, it appears that the Manichean fulmination of who is – also him – determined by the social relations in force, is a shortcut that take an overpass on the accumulation of real determinations, which we are a part of. The critique must be a laser that penetrates in depth. “The dilemma is to organize the struggle against death without sacrificing life, which is fully such only in the freedom of spontaneity.” (O. Alberola). To strike the mechanism therefore, not its valets, because the color of the livery informs about the bosses, not the valets. An assembly line sabotaged, stopped, that does not produce, turns the foreman into a guy that has lost his function of hierarchical control over the workers who from that moment are no longer “wage-earners” but ozious. Of commodities, their totalitarian imperialism over life, we don’t want to know and we don’t give a damn, of men, yes. Viceversa, for capital man is nothing and commodities are everything, and sacrifices tranquilly the first to the second. This makes capital the most nihilist force of our time.

* Il lottarmatismo at best manages to “destabilize” the equilibrium of the fictitious sphere of politics, but it does not deconstruct the world of institutions, the circuits molded by alienated people, strangers to themselves and their desires, who have lost the compass that orients towards the pleasure principle. The critique emanated by lottarmatismo stops at the surface of things (be they objects-commodities or objects-people), does not penetrate in depth, not go to the root of things that is man himself, and does not do so because it does not know how to recognize the profound aspirations, and does not recognize them because it does not know how to identify them – above all – in himself, as a man that affirms himself against the dehumanization imposed on him. Rather than exalt the discontinuity, the ruptures, the differences, the anomalies and the perversions of above all their own subjectivity, he camouflages himself behind some “respectable” role, mimes normality and respectability, then reproduces them enhanced by a surplus of ideology... and thus began the ballet of self-clandestinisation of the identity of one’s own self and one’s own will to pleasure in that circus of dressage that is survival.

* No stupor if then lottarmatismo fully shows what deep down it really is: routine, quantitative logic, obsessive repetition. Lottarmatismo as endemic factor, as bacterial culture having only the capacity to self-produce itself; variabile of politics that becomes always more predictable, controllable, programable. A variable that has become constant! A price to pay – contemplated on the scales of prevision – in the continual reproducing of oneself by power. In the game of the subversion of dehumanized order it is time to introduce other “variables”, other games. The subversive practice that expresses itself in looting and destruction of the urbanistic monstruosity that happened during the black-out of New York [of 1977], has shown that all those possessed by a will to life know their needs, and know how to satisfy them as soon as minimally favorable conditions present themselves; and in doing this any logic of heroism is banished. And has also shown the total extraneity to these events of any “vanguard” political racket or combattentistic corporation.

When emancipation is – really – the work of the exploited themselves, all the “organized segments” are extraneous, nobody claims, nobody can limit themselves to the claiming of the spectacle in the passivity of the spectator and supporter. They can only regret not having taken part.

* Whoever still operates the schizophrenic division of tempo, in the present and future, where the present is hell to get to paradise, is a altar boy who persists in staying in the limbo of alienation, is “revolutionary” politico mediator of the present with the distant past. He is eternalizer of the christian maxim “there is no gaudenza without suffering!” and does not grasp that “Revolution means turning the hourglass. Subversion is something else: it means breaking it, eliminating it”. (Dubuffet). The cheek does not lie in saying it but in doing it.

* Il lottarmatismo is a myth. Also in the past other myths have exercised their psychic influx among the exploited, for example that of the general strike that would rout the dominant classes. The myth produces itself and takes a place in the mind and in the expectations of the subordinated because – evidently – they need it and are carriers of this particular kind of “demand”. It is a realty that comes to manifest itself by intersecting determinations/decisions of who puts forward the “demand”, of who “satisfies it” in practice, and of who cultivates it with a concerted effort of informative and cultural support that massifies it. The myth is the absolutisation of an instrument, of a specific means of struggle, it is a delusion that takes for exhaustive entirety something that only had validity if it was a combination – in the modern world – of various methodologies of attack. It ends up being predilection of the monochord note detached from a polyphonic concert. This absolutisation of a partiality becomes possibile in characterial structures of the religious kind, that does not tend towards self-liberation but waits that from outside oneself something is going to free one; revolution seen as eschatology. The myth is a propelling force that pushes to paralyzes, feeds “political” hope in the future (modern form of religiosity) and upsets the boundaries of the real opacizzandoli, and even renders possible that the hunchback of some Andreotti or other passes through the eye of the lottarmatista needle while the poliomylitic leg of Agnelli continues to ski...

* The union is the structure that reflects (goes) in a distorted way the specter of economic needs of the wage-earners, and attempts to satisfy them mediating them with the need to save the cohabitation between the capitalists and wage-earners in order to be able to continue to act as mediator. The “worker” partities are structures that reflected the most fictitious needs, pulverized, rarefied and falsified. At the moment in which the proletarians start to refuse the division of their interests into economic and political and take their affairs into their own hands, il lottarmatismo stands as a structure capable of administrating the exercise of vendetta, also known as “proletarian justice”. It is a structure that represents the sphere of the so-called “lower instincts”, so needs its public-relations, its delegates that gather the requests of the “base” and transmit them to the military “vertices”, which then pass to execution. Substantially, the relationship between the “base” called to express opinions, the mass delegates solicited to compile indices-of-approval of the actions carried out and the operative staff, remain imuted. It makes no difference whether it is a question of political, trade union professionals, of cultural or lottarmatisti animation.

It is a model which structurally does not present anything new. Even if the inverted optic of the lottarmatisti takes charge at the “base” of its presumed inactivity and likes to think of itself and represent itself as the “advanced division” that expresses antagonism even when everybody is dumb and blind.

* F.L.N., F.A.L.N., E.L.N., E.R.P., M.L.N. Tupamaros, Black Panthers, Weathermen, Gauche Proletarienne, M.I.L., G.A.P., F.R.A.P., etc. A list just outlined referring to different geo-political contexts that refutes imported guerrilla triumphalism and confirms the failure of all the forms of partialisation realized from the subversive praxis and its debasement to under-militarism that competes with institutional militarism. Only a pratice that combines all the possibile means of struggle in a concert that goes through all the moments of the reproduction of power can actuate phases of liberation. When also they contrast M.P.L.A., P.A.I.G.C., Algerian Front, etc. as “victories”, we know that they are the victories that have historically manifested the new dominion of State bourgeoisie that can now choose between the various “imperialisms” available.

* In the present, the real negators of the social life sentence can combine the will to life with the reawakened resources of fantasy, with the interior war conducted in the isolation cell of one’s own self (to expel taboos, rules, norms, ethics), with the potentiality of the bodies become conductors of pleasure, with the identification of Power in the idle times and the alienation that one encounters along everyday life (and not in the invention of always new sociological “more combative” new strata), with the rediscovery of nomadism and the accelerated desertion of roles, with knowledge intended as experience lived in adventure and erratic movement and not as an exclusively cerebral fact, with the decodification of all the languages with which power speaks to us... We learn to recognize daily subversion in the terms in which Bakunin lived ’48: “It seemed that the whole was upside down; the incredible had become habitual, the impossibile possibile, and the possible and habitual absurd!”.

“Anarchismo”, n. 23-24, September-December 1978, pp. 264-268

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