Marshall Plan Modernism: Italian Postwar Abstraction and the Beginnings of Autonomia
The Monochrome in the Neocapitalist Laboratory
Italy, a site of high culture from the Renaissance on, suddenly found itself at once the center of, yet displaced by, a set of global relationships that textured everyday life in a singular way. That is, everyday life was caught up in the double spiral of uneven development: both belated, in the introduction to modernity, and advanced, in terms of the accelerations and changes that would soon come to be associated with globalization: the economic restructuring of the 1970s often called post-Fordism. While diaspora and exodus enabled the miracle, the miracle did not enable an improved everyday life. To the contrary, as the violent strikes and even more violent insurrections and arrests of the late sixties and seventies demonstrated, the winner in the miracle was ultimately a newly restructured capitalism capable of moving into the Global South, for which Italy, as Antonio Negri has argued, was the prefigurative crucible. The Fiat strikes of 1962, which resulted in riots, followed by brutal repression and neutralization, opened onto what many call Italy’s years of revolutionary fomentation that rejected the liberal democratic appropriation of the Communist Party and, with it, forms of political representation that had managed and contained labor, such as the unions. The disintegration of the Italian Communist Party is part of the story.