The work-technology nexus and working-class environmentalism: Workerism versus capitalist noxiousness in Italy’s Long 1968

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Authors

Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • University of Padua

Abstract

This article traces the trajectory of theory and praxis around nocività or noxiousness – i.e., health damage and environmental degradation – drawn by the workerist group rooted in the petrochemical complex of Porto Marghera, Venice. While Porto Maghera was an important setting for the early activism of influential theorists such as the post-workerist Antonio Negri and the autonomist feminist Mariarosa Dalla Costa, the theories produced by the workers themselves have been largely forgotten. Yet, this experience was remarkable because it involved workers employed by polluting industries denouncing in words and actions the environmental degradation caused by their companies from as early as 1968, when the workerists had a determining influence in the local factories. The Porto Marghera struggles against noxiousness contradict the widespread belief that what is today known as working-class environmentalism did not have much significance in the labour unrest of Italy’s Long 1968. The Porto Marghera group’s original contribution was based on the thesis of the inherent noxiousness of capitalist work and an antagonistic-transformative approach to capitalist technology. This led to the proposal of a counterpower able to determine “what, how, and how much to produce” on the basis of common needs encompassing the environment, pointing to the utopian prospect of struggling for a different, anti-capitalist technology, compatible with the sustainable reproduction of life on the planet.

Bibliographic note

Funding Information: This study was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant Agreement No. 639583). Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).

Details

Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory and Society
Early online date5 Mar 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Future of work, Petrochemical industry, Technology, Toxicity, Workerism, Working-class environmentalism