On Mayday, here’s my small contribution to what this day meant to me (however silly these memorial-, festivities-days may be in general): Labor is the enemy. Am I still an operaist at heart? This I don’t know.
PEGGIO PUNX were formed in 1982 in Alessandria, a small city in the north of Italy. In the late 60s, the region (especially the nearby city of Torino) was the epicenter of massive social and political turbulences which culminated in the formation of clandestine groups like the Brigate Rosse, a powerful urban guerilla that actually at first was mainly active in factories (they called it “Factory Guerilla”), supporting the many massive strikes of the often rebellious workers. The left radical scene of northern Italy soon split up into many, many different groups, one of them being the “Autonomia Operaio”. This diffuse melting pot for a larger number of militants from all over the country (such as workers, students, unemployed youth etc.) was very active throughout the 70s, the “Anni de piombo” (the “years of lead”), intervened with countless strikes, riots and occupations of infrastructural buildings and such.
The militants of the operaio-movement declined the concept of an armed struggle against the representatives of the state, like the “Brigate Rosse” propagated while quickly turning into a criminal leninist sect. With the kidnapping and killing of the influential politician Aldo Moro in 1978, escalated things completely â€“ the italian state answered with a massive wave of often brutal oppression, smashing large parts of the once vital and very diverse left radical scenes. The year before, the german pendant to the “Brigate Rosse”, the leninist sect RAF (“Red Army Fraction”) had begun their bloodiest campaign, culminating in the ruthless murder of Hanns-Martin Schleyer, a high ranking representative of the german employer’s association. But when in Germany, the guerilla was a very isolated phenomena consisting of a few dozen activists, in Italy the militants had an incredibly large web of supporters of tens of thousands throughout all social classes â€“ and the theoretical concepts of the italian militants were often years ahead of the crude leninism of their german contemporaries. 1977, when Punk became the short time mass media phenomenon that so many still dream of today, several european countries were in a state of political upheaval, often with forms of intense violence practiced by all participants. This feeling of urgency and earnest (however phantasmagorical the theories of the left radical scenes may have been, let me say this clearly!) still bleeds through in many cultural products of the 70s, like in music, movies, books and the arts in general and this makes it at least understandable why the current retro wave tries and transform these manifestations of turbulent times into petty products of today. That’s the retro chic: Pull the teeth, make it harmless, reduce things to a blurry surface.
The very loose and spontaneistic concept of the “Autonomia Operaio” was mainly based on the idea of a permanent, antagonistic struggle against – work! They saw the whole idea of work, labor not only as the functional base of capitalism, like Marxists do, but also as a form of sublime and often bloody oppression and disciplining. If a society, that’s what they believed in, had to be changed completely, you’d have to start where the individual suffers, be it from deprivation of all possible sorts, from the constraint and the compulsion to work, to produce and to consume. The imperatives were: Experiment! Reject! Intervene! Believe in the reality of your dreams! There’s a world beyond labor and all the useless shit you’re supposed to believe and follow.
Although the “Autonomia Operaia” produced a large number of pamphlets and had many followers all over Europe (notably Switzerland!), the history and short-time relevance of this movement is still largely unknown to most (after all, today’s world is exactly the opposite, with the idolatry of labor as a means to individual and collective salvation and the strong mass consent that supports this view point).
Although this short and totally simplistic sketch of mine is very simplistic and not overly accurate in details, you maybe still can see why the ideology (if you really can call it such) of the “Autonomia Operaio” offered many compatibilities with the radical sectors within the earlier Punk movements. The idea of self-organisation, the rejection of regular life forms and the powerful, vitalistic promise of what you could call a wild hedonism attracted a lot of young people, especially in Italy.
The lads of PEGGIO PUNX seemed to be among them. I don’t know much about the connections of PP to the AO, and I guess the links were merely of an idealistic nature (sympathyzing with operaism), but still I would love to learn moe about that. From what I understand, PEGGIO PUNX were a bit isolated in the Hardcore scene due to their political standpoints. If somebody has more on this, please please share. Also if my italian and english speaking readers would care to translate the statement on the inside of this sleeve, so that I could quote it here, that’ be much appreciated.
“La Citta e quieta … ombre parlano” [misspelled on the label, if you noticed] means: “The city is quiet …. the shadows are talking”. “Linea diritta” (“Straight Line” – not, not Straight Edge!) is the hit here, but all songs are just wonderful. The drumming in “Solitudine” is soooo great – in its own way. These sounds! If “La mia Vita” doesn’t get you on your feet, jumping around and doing anti-labor gestures, then you’re probably as dead as Punk.
Musically, PEGGIO PUNX were one of a kind. Even calling this Hardcore Punk is adventurous. It has the drive, the energy of it, of course, but it lacks so many of its key elements. This is not “moshable”, not cool, not macho, nothing to build a mass movement upon. It’s, that’s how I see and hear it, just a very personal way of creating the music you always wanted to hear. Not more, not less. It may not stand the test of time and it will probably always be the kind of music, band for people that seek not quick satisfaction and superficial idiocy (of which this kind of music has a lot to offer). These songs are a statement of fragility, of sensibility and maybe of resignation too. Hats off to the fine people who produced this music, I’m forever in your debt for this.
Here is the first PEGGIO PUNX EP and the followup to this one here, a quite diverse 12″EP, shall soon follow on this program, here on mongo history channel.