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Tag: Mario Tronti

Towards a Critique of Political Democracy (Tronti, 2009)


by Mario Tronti – Centro per la Riforma dello Stato – Cosmos and History 5:1, 2009

A word of warning: my argument will involve a deconstruction of the theme of democracy. I will seek to clear the field of the conceptual debris that has accumulated around the idea and practice of democracy, so that our discussion can then take up—in a more constructive and also more programmatic manner—the identification of further directions of inquiry, especially in what concerns that crucial passage represented by the construction of the subject.

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On Italian Workerism


by Riccardo Bellofiore & Massimiliano Tomba

The new millennium has seen the revival of a growing interest in operaismo as testified by the republication not only of histories, but also of some classic texts. These latter have until recently been impossible to find, either because their print run was long exhausted, or else had been sent to be pulped at the end of the seventies. The international success of Michael Hardt and Toni Negri’s book Empire, which has been translated into many languages, has contributed to this revival of interest. Empire came out in 2000, not long after the mass challenge to the WTO in Seattle of November 1999, followed in turn by the blockades of the WEF summit in Melbourne of September 2000, of the World Bank in Prague the same month, and then the G8 counter-summit in Genoa of 2001. Throughout the nineties, too, there had been uprisings linked to price hikes for food and against the overwhelming power of the IMF.

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The Young Mario Tronti


A Living Unity in the Marxist: Introduction to Tronti’s Early Writings | Andrew Anastasi

These texts provide the reader with not only some of the ideas percolating in the mind of the young Tronti, but also a window into the prehistory of operaismo: the tumultuous debates within the Italian left of the 1950s over the meanings of Marxism.

Some Questions around Gramsci’s Marxism (1958) | Mario Tronti

Certainly we must assert the novelty, the originality, the autonomy of Marxism. But the novelty of Marxism against any other philosophy consists not in asking more of it as a philosophy; its originality consists in its offer of science to philosophy, or rather in its conceiving the proper philosophy only as science, as a “specific conception of a specific object.”

Between Dialectical Materialism and Philosophy of Praxis: Gramsci and Labriola (1959) | Mario Tronti

First one has all of Marx revolve around Hegel, then one removes Hegel from the center and says: see, Marx fails to rotate on his own. This is how the interpretation of a theory coincides with its liquidation. In fact precisely this misunderstanding has driven Marx’s thought to the margins of contemporary philosophical thought.

On Marxism and Sociology (1959) | Mario Tronti

One absolutely cannot accept that there exists a researcher who offers material to the theorist, and then there is a theorist who re-elaborates it and produces theory. Rather, there is a continuous unity realized already within Marxism, and it lives precisely in the person of the Marxist.

is a member of the editorial collective of Viewpoint and a PhD student at the CUNY Graduate Center.

Mario Tronti: I am defeated


Under the soles of his shoes, you can still recognise the dirt of history. “This is all that remains. A mix of straw and shit by which we delude ourselves into erecting cathedrals to the worker’s dream.” Here’s a man, I say to myself, imbued with a consistency that bursts through in a total melancholy. It’s Mario Tronti, the most celebrated of the theorists of Operaismo. He has only recently finished writing a book on this subject: the origins of his thought, how it has changed and what it is today. I don’t know who will publish it (I would guess a decent publisher). I read a profound sense of despair. Like a chronicle of defeat articulated through the long agony of a past that has not yet passed at all, that refuses to die, but is no longer wanted.

“It’s the others who keep you going”, he says ironically. When life, if only, demands other trials, other choices. Perhaps it is for this reason – to find an escape – that he has distracted himself with Tai Chi: “the gestures of this oriental martial art reveal, in their slowness, a secret harmony. Everything is concentrated on respiration. I did it for a bit. With curiosity and attention. But in the end I realised I wasn’t good enough. Out of place. The orient requires a mindset that can create empty space [il vuoto]. I live in a house full of the things I’ve accumulated over time.

How did your interest in Tai Chi start?
Thanks to my daughter who loves and practices oriental culture. She would have wanted to become a nun, so she chose the same profound consistency in this world that I’ve only touched.

And how have you taken this decision of hers?
With the respect that is required whenever approaching what concerns those close to you.

Is there an element of unpredictability with children?
Always: with individuals, just like with history.

Did you expect that the story – I mean yours – would end this way?
I always expect the best. Then come the knocks. Coming up against facts without an airbag can do you damage. I was a communist, marxist, operaista. Some things end. Some things last. I have learnt and applied the lesson of political realism: you can’t ignore the facts.

And the facts today are indicative of a great crisis?
Great and long. It concerns all of us a little, at many diverse levels. It’s lasted at least seven years and still nobody is able to tell us how to get out of it. We’re living in a time without epoch.

What does it mean?
It is our time, however it lacks an epoch: this period that has arisen and will continue into the future. History has become small, the daily report has prevalence: gossip, complaints, platitudes.

So the epoch is time hastened with thought?
Not just that. It is the time that leaps forward. It occurs when things happen that visibly transform our living world.

Nostalgia for revolutions?
No, if anything the twentieth century was the century of revolutions. But not only that. Where are the grand ideas, the great literature, the grand politics or the great art? I don’t seen anything like what the first half of the twentieth century produced.

When did the explosion of creativity end?
In the 60s.

Your golden years?
That’s the irony of history. There was a great twentieth century, and a small twentieth century built out of an awareness that it is no longer able to reflect on itself.

Is this a farewell to the idea of progress?
These days Progressivism is the thing furthest from myself. I reject the idea that whatever is new is always better and more advanced than what was there before.

It was one of the inviolable creeds of Marxism.
It was the false security of thinking that the defeat was only an episode. Because meanwhile, we thought, history was on our side.

And now?
We saw how it went, didn’t we?

Do you feel like you’ve been defeated, or you’ve failed?
I am defeated, not a victor. The victories are never final. But we have lost – not a battle – but the war of the twentieth century.

And who has triumphed?
Capitalism. But without class struggle, without an adversary, it has lost its vitality. It has become something of a monstrosity.

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