Autonomism or autonomist Marxism is a set of anti-authoritarian left-wing political and social movements and theories. [1] [2] [3] As a theoretical system, it first emerged in Italy in the 1960sfrom workerist ( operaismo ) communism . Later, post-Marxist and anarchist tendencies became significant after influence of the Situationists , the failure of Italian far-left movements in the 1970s, and the emergence of a number of important theorists including Antonio Negri, who had contributed to the 1969 founding of Potere Operaio , Mario Tronti , Paolo Virno and Franco “Bifo” Berardi .

Georgy Katsiaficas summarizes the forms of autonomous movements Saying That “In contrast to the centralized decisions and hierarchical authority structures of modern institutions, social autonomous movements Involve people Directly in Decisions Affecting Their everyday lives. They seek to expand democracy and to help Individuals break free of Political structures and behavior patterns imposed from the outside. ” [4] As this HAS Involved Such a call for the independence of social movements from political party [5] in a revolutionary perspective qui seeks to create a practical alternative to political Both authoritarian socialism and contemporary representative democracy . [6]

Autonomism influenced the German and Dutch Autonomous , the worldwide social center movement , and today is influential in Italy, France, and to a lesser extent the English-speaking countries. Marxists to anarchists .


The term autonomia / Autonomous was first used in 1620, having been composed of two Greek words, “auto-nomos”, referring to someone or something which lives by his / her own rule. Autonomy , in this sense, is not independence . While independence refers to an autarchic kind of life, separated from the community , life refers to life in society by one’s own rule. Though the notion of autonomy is alien to the ancient Greeks, the concept is allowed by Aristotle , who said that it could be independent and live apart from the polis (“community”), while Kantdefined the Enlightenment by the autonomy of thought and the famous ” Sapere aude “ (“dare to know”).

The Marxist Autonomist theory

Unlike other forms of Marxism , autonomist Marxism emphasises the Ability of the working class to power exchange to the organization of the capitalist system independent of the state , trade unions or political party . Autonomists are less concerned with political parties than others Marxists, focusing instead on self-organized action outside of traditional organizational structures. Autonomist Marxism is thus a “bottom-up” theory: it draws attention to activities that autonomists see as everyday working-class resistance to capitalism, such as absenteeism , slow working, socialization in the workplace, sabotage, and other subversive activities.

Like other Marxists, autonomists see class struggle as being of central importance. However, they also have autonomy, autonomy, and self-employment (eg, white collar and blue collar), self-employment, homemakers, and so on. ), who are traditionally deprived of any form of union representation.

Early theorists (such as Mario Tronti , Antonio Negri , Sergio Bologna , and Paolo Virno ) developed notions of “immaterial” and “social labor” that extended the Marxist concept of labor to all society. They suggest that modern society is produced by a collective collective work, and that it is only a little redistributed to the workers in the form of wages. Other Italian autonomists-particularly feminists, such as Mariarosa Dalla Costa and Silvia Federici- emphasize the importance of feminism and the value of unpaid female laborers to capitalist society.

A scholar of the movement, Michael Ryan, writes that

Autonomy, a movement and a theory, opposite the notion that capitalism is an irrational system which can be made rational through planning. Instead, it assumes the workers’ viewpoint, privileging their activity as the revolutionary way forward. Economics is seen as being entirely political; economic relations are direct political relations of force between class subjects. And it is in the economic category of the social worker, not in an alienated political form like the party, that the initiative for political change resides. [7]

Italian autonomism

Autonomist Marxism-Referred to in Italy as operaismo , qui Translates literally as “labourism” -first Appeared in Italy in the early 1960s. Arguably, the emergence of early autonomism can be traced to the dissatisfaction of automotive workers in Turin with their union, which reached an agreement with FIAT . The disillusionment of these workers with their organized representation, along with the resulting riots (in particular the 1962 riots by FIAT workers in Turin, “fatti di Piazza Statuto”), were critical factors in the development of a self-organized labor planning theory. outside the scope of traditional Representatives Such as trade unions .

In 1969 the operaismo approach Was active Mainly in two different groups: Lotta Continua , led by Adriano Sofri (qui Had a very significant Roman Catholic cultural matrix), and Potere Operaio , led by Antonio Negri , Franco Piperno , Oreste Scalzone , and Valerio Morucci . Mario Capanna was the charismatic leader of the Milan student movement, which had a more classical Marxist-Leninistapproach.


Through translations made available by Danilo Montaldi and others, the Italian autonomists drew about previous activist research in the United States by the Johnson-Forest Tendency and in France by the group Socialisme ou Barbarie . The Johnson-Forest Tendency had been working on the US auto industry, publishing pamphlets such as “The American Worker” (1947), “Punching Out” (1952), and “Union Committeemen and Wildcat Strikes” (1955). ). That by Socialism or Barbary and published, serially, in their journal. They too began investigating and writing about what was going on inside the workplace, in their case both auto factories and insurance offices.

The newspaper Quaderni Rossi (“Red Notebooks”), produced between 1961 and 1965, and its successor Class Operaia (“Working Class”), produced between 1963 and 1966, were also influential in the development of early autonomism. Raniero Panzieri , Mario Tronti , and Toni Negri were some primary collaborators.

Pirate radio stations also were a factor in spreading autonomist ideas. Bologna ‘s Radio Alice was an example of such a station.

Direct action

The Italian student movement , including the Indian Metropolitan (Metropolitan Indians), starting from 1966 with the murder of student Paolo Rossi by neo-fascists at Rome University , in various direct action operations, including riots and occupations, along with more peaceful activities such as self-reduction, in which sales of electricity, electricity, gas, rent, and food. Several clashes occurred between students and the police during the occupations of universities in the winter of 1967-68, during the Fiat occupations, and in March 1968 in Rome during the Battle of Valle Giulia .

Indiani Metropolitani were a small faction active in the Italian far-left protest movement during 1976 and 1977, in the so-called ” Years of Lead “. The Indiani Metropolitani were so-called ‘creative’ wing of the movement. Its adherents wore face-paint like the war-paint of Native Americans and dressed like hippies . The emphasis is on “stare insieme” (being together), spontaneity and the arts, especially music. The group was active in Rome, during the occupation of the university La Sapienza in 1977.

On 11 March 1977, riots took place in Bologna following the killing of Francesco Lorusso by police.

Beginning in 1979, the state effectively prosecuted the autonomist movement, accusing it of protecting the Red Brigades , which had kidnapped and murdered Aldo Moro . 12,000 far-left activists were detained; 600 fled the country, including 300 to France and 200 to South America. [8]

Tute Bianche was a militant Italian social movement, active from 1994 to 2001. Activists covered their bodies with padding so as to resist the blows of police, to push through the lines, and to march together in large blocks for mutual protection during demonstrations . The tute bianche movement reached its apex during the anti-G8 protests in Genoa , in July 2001, with a turn-out of an estimated 10,000 protesters in a single “padded block”, ironically after a collective decision to go to the white overalls. Shortly after Genoa the Ya Basta Association disbanded, with certain segments reforming into the “Disobbedienti” which literally means “Disobedients”. This philosophy includes the occupation and creation of squattedself-managed social centers, anti-sexist activism , support for immigrants’ rights in the streets, by force if necessary in case of clashes with police.

Central to the tute bianche movement was the Italian Ya Basta Association , a network of groups throughout Italy that was inspired by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation uprising in Chiapas in 1994. Ya Basta primarily originated in the “autonomist” social centers of Milan, particularly Centro Sociale Leoncavallo . These social centers grew out of the Italian Autonomous movement of the 1970s and 80s. The tute bianches have had an international variation of one sort or another. For instance, in Britain a group calling itself WOMBLESadopted the tactics, even though the political orientation of WOMBLES differed from the Italian movement. In Spain, “Mono Blanco” was the preferred identifier. The first North American variant of the tute, the NYC Ya Basta Collective (based in NYC).

Further information: Years of Lead (Italy)

The French Autonomous Movement

In France, the Marxist group Socialism or Barbary , led by philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis , could be said to be one of the first autonomist groups. Socialism or Barbary drew upon the activist research of the American Johnson-Forest Tendency within US auto-plants and their own investigations into rank-and-file workers, struggles that were autonomous of union or party leadership.

Also parallel to the work of the Johnson-Forest Tendency, Socialism or Barbary harshly criticized the Communist regime in the USSR , which it considered a form of ” bureaucratic capitalism ” and not at all the socialism it claimed to be. Philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard was also part of this movement.

However, the Italian influence of the operation was more directly felt in the creation of the materials for intervention (1972-73) by Yann Moulier-Boutang, a French economist close to Toni Negri. This led to the creation of the Comrades group (1974-78). Along with others, Moulier-Boutang joined the International Center for New Areas of Freedom (CINEL), founded three years earlier by Félix Guattari , and assisted Italian activists accused of terrorism, of which at least 300 fled to France.

The French autonomous movement organized itself in the AGPA (Paris Assembly of Autonomous Groups, “Parisian Assembly of Autonomous Groups”, 1977-78). Many tendencies were present in it, including the group led by Moulier-Boutang, members of the Libertarian Communist Organization, some people referring themselves to the “Desiring Autonomy” of Bob Nadoulek, but also squatters and street-wise people (including the group Margin). Autonomous French supported captured Red Army Faction train members. Jean-Paul Sartrealso intervened on the conditions for the detention of RAF detainees.

The activist group Direct action appeared in 1979 and carried out several violent direct actions. Direct Action Claimed responsibility for the murders of Renault ‘s CEO Georges Besseand General Audran. George Besse had been CEO of the nuclear company Eurodif . Direct Action was dissolved in 1987.

In the 1980s, the authoritarian movement underwent a deep crisis in Italy because of effective prosecution by the State, and was stronger in Germany than in France. It remains present in Parisian squats and some riots (for example in 1980 near the Jussieu Campus in Paris, or in 1982 in the Ardennes department during anti-nuclear demonstrations) .From 1986 to 1994 the French group “Committee of the badly housed”They have been several hundred times in their entirety, and they have been working in the city of Paris, many of them were working on the prison. . In the 1980s, the French autonomists published the periodicals CAT Pages (1981-82), Rebels (1981-93), All! (1982-85), Molotov and Confetti (1984), The Bodies of the Old World , La Chome (1984-85), and Contre (1987-89).

In the 1990s, unemployed workers, unemployed, and angry (TCP, “Angry Workers, Unemployed, and Marginalised people”) and the General Assembly of the Jussieu unemployed ( “General Assembly of Jussieu’s unemployed people”). It was also involved in the alter-globalization movement and above all in the solidarity with illegal foreigners (Collective Papers for All (“Permits for all”, 1996) and Collective Anti-Expulsion (1998-2005)). Several autonomist journals date from this time: Quilombo (1988-93), Apache (1990-98), Tic-Tac (1995-97), Karoshi (1998-99), and Tiqqun (1999-2001).

From 19 to 28 July 2002, No borders camp was made in Strasbourg to protest against anti-immigration policies, in particular inside the Schengen European space .

In 2003, autonomists came into conflict with the French Socialist Party (PS) during a demonstration that took place in the frame of the European Social Forum in Saint-Denis (Paris). At the end of December, Hundreds of unemployed people Helped Themselves in the Bon Marche supermarket to be reliable to celebrate Christmas (year Action called ” autoréduction ” (of prices) in French). French riot police (CRS) is opposed to the unemployed people inside the shop. Autonomous rioted during the spring 2006 protests against the CPE , and again after the 2007 presidential election when Nicolas Sarkozy was elected.

On November 11, 2008, the police arrested ten people, including five living in a farmhouse on a hill overlooking Tarnac, and accused them of associating with a “terrorist enterprise” by sabotaging TGV’s overhead lines. Nine out of ten were Julien Coupat , the alleged leader, stayed in custody for a year, with the Paris Prosecutor’s Office.

The German Autonomous movement in the 1970s and 1980s

In Germany, Autonomous was used during the late 1970s to depict the most radical part of the political left. [9] These students participated in social movements at the time, especially in demonstrations against nuclear energy plants (Brokdorf 1981, Wackersdorf 1986) and in actions against the construction of airport runways (Frankfurt 1976-86). The defense of squats against the police such as Hamburg ‘s Hafenstraße was also a major “task” for the “autonomous” movement. The Dutch anarchist Autonomous movement from the 1960s also concentrated on squatting.

Tactics of the “Autonomous” were usually militant, including the construction of gold barricades or throwing stones or molotov cocktails at the police. During their most powerful times in the early 1980s, the police had to take flight.

Because of their outfit, the “Autonomous” were dubbed der schwarze Block by the German media, and in these tactics were similar to modern black blocks . In 1989, laws regarding demonstrations in Germany were changed, prohibiting the use of so-called “passive weaponry” such as helmets or padding and covering your face.

Today, the “autonomous” scene in Germany is greatly reduced and concentrated on anti-fascist actions, ecology, solidarity with refugees , and feminism . There are larger and more activist groups still in operation, such as in Switzerland or Italy.

The Greek anarcho-autonomoi 

In Greece, the anarcho- autonomi (Greek-anarcho-autonomists) emerged as an important trend in the youth and student movement, first during the 1973 Athens Polytechnic uprisingagainst the military dictatorship that ruled the country at the time. After the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974, the “anarcho-autonomoi” became a very influential, firstly as a social trend within the youth and then a (very loose and diverse) political trend. The definition “anarcho-autonomoi”, itself, is much debated. One reason for this is that it was originally coined by opponents. However, it was also quite quickly adopted by many adherents, used as a generic term.

Before 1973, in Greece, there was very little tradition in anarchism or libertarian socialism in general. An exception to this was Agis Stinas , an early comrade of Cornelius Castoriadis . Castoriadis belonged to the Council Communist Group (before he emigrated to France) and was influenced by it; later these roles were turned around. The small groups that have been eliminated by the Nazis, the local establishment, and the Stalinist communist party during the Nazi occupation and the Greek Civil War that followed, with Castoriadis and Stinas, themselves, being two of the few survivors.

Thus, the radical Greek youth in the 1970s, having a strong relation to a large scale of syncretism in the European countries. Anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist trends converged with situationist, workerist, or other autonomous and non-autonomous Marxist trends. The “anarcho-autonomo” made a very strong stand during the 1978-80 student movement, coming into violent confrontation with the police and the (also, of considerable influence) Stalinist communist youth (KNE). These stands were repeated when the student, worker, and youth movements were rising (in 1987, 1990-91, 1998-99, and 2006-7). However, their intensity has been falling since 1990-91.

Parallel to such participation in social movements, a large number of social centers (many of them squatted) exist in Greece, and many of them participate in social struggles on a local level. These social centers, whether they now identify as “Autonomist” or “anti-authoritarian”, while in the ways that historically emerged through “Autonomist”. There is also a multitude of small political groups which identifies “Autonomist”, ranging from workerist to post-modernist. Most of them are still connected to the respective groups that identify as “Anarchist”.

See also: Squatting § Greece


The Autonomist Marxist and Autonomist movements, especially among anarchists, many of whom have adopted autonomist tactics. Some English-speaking anarchists who? ] even describe themselves as Autonomists . Citation needed ] The Italian operaismo movement aussi Influenced Marxist academics Such As Harry Cleaver , John Holloway , Steve Wright, and Nick Dyer-Witheford. quote needed ]In Denmark and Sweden, the word is used as a catch-all sentence for anarchists and the extra-parliamentary left in general, as was seen in the media coverage of the eviction of the Ungdomshuset squat in Copenhagen in March 2007. citation needed ]

See also

Autonomist thinkers

  • Franco “Bifo” Berardi
  • George Caffentzis
  • Silvia Federici
  • Michael Hardt
  • John Holloway
  • Antonio Negri
  • Mario Tronti
  • Paolo Virno

Movements and organizations

  • Blitz (Norway)
  • Disobbedienti (ex Tute Bianche )
  • Homeless Workers’ Movement MTST
  • Kämpa tillsammans! Kämpa tillsammans!
  • London Autonomists
  • Swedish Anarcho-syndicalist Youth Federation
  • Ungdomshuset , Danish autonomist squat

Autonomist publications

  • Aufheben
  • Collegamenti-Wobbly
  • Multitudes magazine
  • ROAR Magazine


  • Autonomy
  • Affective labor
  • Direct democracy
  • horizontalidad
  • Kommune 1
  • Popular assembly
  • Sovereign citizen movement
  • Spontaneism
  • Sui iuris
  • Open Marxism
  • Hakim Bey on autonomous zones


  1. Jump up^ “Autonomism as a global social movement” by Patrick Cuninghame. WorkingUSA: The Journal of Labor and Society. Volume 13 (December 2010): 451-464. ISSN 1089-7011.
  2. Jump up^ Georgy Katsiaficas. The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life , AK Press 2006
  3. Jump up^ Autonomia: Post-Political Politics , ed. Sylvere Lotringer & Christian Marazzi. New York: Semiotext (e), 1980, 2007.ISBN 1-58435-053-9,ISBN 978-1-58435-053-8.
  4. Jump up^ Georgy Katsiaficas. The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. AK Press. 2006. pg. 6
  5. Jump up^ Georgy Katsiaficas. The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. AK Press. 2006. pg. 7
  6. Jump up^ Georgy Katsiaficas. The Subversion of Politics: European Autonomous Social Movements and the Decolonization of Everyday Life. AK Press. 2006. pg. 8
  7. Jump up^ Michael Ryan, “Translators’ Introductions Part II,” Antonio Negri, Marx beyond Marx: Lessons on the Grundrisse, New York: Autonomedia, 1991, p. xxx.
  8. Jump up^ (in English)On the Autonomist movement
  9. Jump up^ FIRE AND FLAMES: A History of the German Autonomist Movementby Geronimo. AK Press. 2012

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