Operaist and Social Revolutionary Readings of Marx (from the early 1960s)

Operaism (also Workerism) emerged from the theoretical efforts of political intellectuals in Italy during the early 1960s. These intellectuals hailed from Italy's socialist and communist parties, as well as from social science. Important forums of debate included the journals Quaderni Rossi and Classe operaia. Distancing themselves critically from the parties mentioned, and from academic research, but interacting closely with the labour struggles in Italy, and with the social movements of the 1960s, operaism emphasised the independence and primacy of labour and social struggles with regard to the development of the capitalist economy. It investigated the role of subjectivity and explored the question of how political and social conflicts are articulated. Important operaist texts were penned by Raniero Panzieri, Mario Tronti and Romano Alquati.

In Germany, it was mainly social revolutionary re-engagements with Marx that were influenced by operaism. In the West Germany of the 1970s, operaism was discussed by some militants associated with the journals Autonomie and Autonomie (Neue Folge). Important contributions to the debate were written by historian and activist Karl Heinz Roth. Later, journals such as Materialien für einen neuen Antiimperialismus ("Materials for a New Anti-imperialism") and Wildcat continued the debate. In the English-speaking world, operaist and social revolutionary engagement with Marx is referred to as "autonomist Marxism" or "Italian theory.