Notes on the end of the cycle 1: the fall armyworm
when you lock up so much delicious energy behind pesticides and herbicides and selective breeding and genetic engineering you taunt the entire earth to throw its worst at you, terrifying monsters from our darkest nightmares

best posts from the forums

c_man posted in Venezuela coup attempt (374 posts)
*bloomberg vulture voice* imagine two venezuelas on the edge of a fiscal cliff
lo posted in What are tHE rHizzonE reading? (16881 posts)
i'm reading aime cesaire's discourse on colonialism and it's such a good polemic, there's a great own on almost every page

I have talked a good deal about Hitler. Because he deserves it: he makes it possible to see things on a large scale and to grasp the fact that capitalist society, at its present stage, is incapable of establishing a concept of the rights of all men, just as it has proved incapable of establishing a system of individual ethics. Whether one likes it or not, at the end of the blind alley that is Europe, I mean the Europe of Adenauer, Schuman, Bidault, and a few others, there is Hitler. At the end of capitalism, which is eager to outlive its day, there is Hitler. At the end of formal humanism and philosophic renunciation, there is Hitler.

trakfactri posted in BREAKING --- russian military or Crimean russians block sevastopol airprt or something (2109 posts)

Gssh posted:

adapting one of these missiles as surface-to-air is very complex, and *extremely brown moses voice* if we go to the wikipedia page of military equipment of separates forces in donbass we see they only posses one l-29, which carries a total max load of 200kg, the matra super 530f weight is 275kg.. so my guess is this is of little use to separatist forces and the spin is intentional reframing while it's still in headlines.


I actually laughed when I saw the picture because my operating system when it comes to anything neo-Nazis do is to look at them as basically just stupid gangsters with financial / organized crime activities having as much if not more to do with their activities than ideological motives (which is why they're so easily bribed). Especially the Forza Nuova for God's sake.

I can't imagine how the missile is useful at all so my guess is they stole it from a port while en route from France -----> Qatar and were trying to hawk it or show it off Tony Montana style. All this overproduced, future-force fascist stuff has the same kitsch Greco-Roman columns as Tony has decorating his party palace. That's all you really need to know about it.

Dumb teenager who thinks fascism is cool, hanging out at the clubhouse: "Gee I dunno guys, I dunno how I feel about the Forza Nuova."

Forza Nuova guy: "Hey kid, we're the real deal. Massimo... show him... THE MISSILE."

jansenist_drugstore posted in Get off the off-site: Let's play "Real Life" (8228 posts)

jansenist_drugstore posted:

should be studying for a cog psy exam, instead re-reading the gibbonstrength article


aced it, thanks gibbonstrength

toyotathon posted in Strike one to educate one Hundred: the rise of the Red Brigades (26 posts)
CHAPTER 8

Against “White Shirt Fascism”


By the end of 1972, it was clear to the BR that it had to expand the struggle beyond shop floor confrontations with the fascists inside FIAT. While battles could be won on the factory floor, the war could not be won there alone. Even more, if the struggle were isolated in the factories it would be defeated. The struggle had to take on its full social dimension. In January of 1973 the BR therefore began a new political- military campaign to expose DC (the ruling Christian Democratic Party) or "white shirt Fascism".

On January 15, 1973 a 3-person BR commando raided the Milan offices of UCID, a Rightwing Catholic management association, and seized personnel files, mailing lists, membership lists and other material. A UCID functionary was tied up. The UCID raid marked the beginning of the BR campaign to unmask the Fascist character of the ruling DC (Christian Democratic party). Other raids followed in Milan and Turin. During the UCID raid, BR left a leaflet on the floor of the office explaining their action. And the next day, copies of it were distributed inside FIAT's Mirafiori plant.

The PCI and the reformist unions denounced the BR action as part of a Fascist strategy of provocation. The Socialist Party (PSI) paper Avanti and Workers' Vanguard (Avanguardia Operaia) both ignored the action. Manifesto continued to question the existence of the BR and. Continuous Struggle flip-flopped from its pro-BR position of Spring 1972 to attack the BR action, accusing them of "substituting themselves for the masses". A month later, 3 days after the Labate kidnapping, Continuous Struggle again attacked the BR with a violent polemic against “their Don Quixotian-isolation”, even slanderously accusing them of opposing the movement's right to self-defense against police violence during mass demonstrations.

The BR's insistence on pulling out fascism by its roots – in the ruling DC party, in the corporations – recognized the important role fascism was already playing. While fascist organizations alone were feeble and strategically unimportant, as a tool of the bourgeoisie they took on a larger political role. Fascist MSI party leader Georgio Almirante had, in 1971, called for his followers to pick up their tempo of physical attacks to stop the Left. In Milan, this call had translated into daily beatings of Leftists on the street, raids on Left student hangouts, fire bombing of both the city PCI and PSI party headquarters, and actual sniper attacks on Left public meetings. Most of the fascist attacks came at night.

The threat was reminiscent of the 1920-22 Fascist "squadrismo" strong-arm tactics that drowned the revolutionary mass movement in a blood bath. In the Sesto workers' district of Milan, in 1972, the fascists began hit-and-run night raids. One night they showed up at the Italian Communist Party social club at Nuova Torretta on Via Saint Denis, a youth hangout also used by Continuous Struggle and other New Leftists. Two cars pull up outside and slowly cruise by. Rocks are first thrown, breaking the front windows. Then, through the gaps, they tossed Molotov cocktails. Curtains, furniture, paper catch fire. People inside save themselves by going out windows and other exits, but 5 people are burned, one quite seriously.

Year after year these blatant repressions grow. MSI youth squads and other "black vanguards" do the violence. The police and courts allow the fascists to act with complete impunity. FIAT and the other big corporations give the fascists job patronage, fund them, and give them respectable bourgeois cover. The secret police give the fascists their marching orders. Left unchecked the fascists would dismember the struggle. In March 1976, to pick one weli-known example, Angela Rossi, who is the sister of October 22nd Group prisoner Mario Rossi, is kidnapped by a fascist death squad working with the police. She is raped and tortured, as a warning to stop denouncing police repression. Next, she is told, her children will be killed if she isn't silent.

In the face of this fascist onslaught, the revisionist PCI showed its total bankruptcy. In his address to the 12th PCI Congress in March 1972, party secretary Berlinguer outlined a strategy of nonviolent legal opposition to the fascists. The PCI should form an alliance with the liberal middle class to pressure the police to protect the movement! Militant New Leftists are already locked in daily street battles with the fascists. The spontaneist leadership in the student movement and Continuous Struggle say that this is how the fascists should be fought: in mass public activities, to involve more and more people. For example, in retaliation for the fire bombing of the Sesto PCI club, Continuous Struggle wrecked a fascist cafe and fire bombed the Fascist CISNAL union headquarters. The Red Brigades instead insist that the movement cannot win by concentrating primarily on the fascist street thugs because they are just the expendable pawns or tools. The masses also must be organized into an urban guerrilla party to deal with the key power centers of this fascist threat within the imperialist hierarchy itself.

During the 6-month period of silence between May and November 1972 the BR, in addition to doing expropriations and building an infrastructure, also prepared their second major theoretical document. Dated January 1973, and again in the form of a Tupamaro-like interview, the document was published in the Workers' Power newspaper on March 11, 1973. In this document, the BR defined who they were, analyzed and criticized major political trends in the revolutionary Left, analyzed the strategy of the State, and put forward their own strategy for advancing the armed struggle in Italy.

The document:

SECOND THEORETICAL REFLECTION
January 1973

1. How do you view the political choices of your organization after two years of work?

It seems to us that the development of the Italian political situation has confirmed the basic choice we made in the first months of 1970.

The government crisis has not been resolved in a reformist sense at all and there are no prospects for solutions in the near future. On the contrary, the formation of a Center-Right government excluding the social-democrats, the relaunching of the fascists as a "parallel force," the frontal attack on the workers movement and the ever more arrogant militarization of political and social conflict, all this demonstrates that the bourgeois political front with increased doggedness pursues the objective of total restoration of its dictatorship and thus an unqualified political defeat of the working class.

2. On the contrary, doesn't the assassination of Feltrinelli and the attack against the Red Brigades demonstrate the weakness, or better yet, the immaturity of such a choice?

The weakness of a political line does not derive from the relative correlation of forces that the organization representing this line is able to establish in an initial phase.

The attack unleashed against us by the bourgeoisie in May sprang from their mistaken conviction that they could neutralize the political impact of the strategic proposal of armed struggle for communism by exploiting the organizational weakness which characterized us.

This mistaken political evaluation is exactly what caused the police operation to fail and we strengthened ourselves.

In fact, by not accepting the terrain of a "frontal clash" between the Brigades and the armed apparatus of the State that was offered us, we had ample time to counterattack "in silence" against economic targets. As a result we reinforced our organizational infrastructure, showing at the same time the "political weakness" of this police state with its "strong" military structures.

3. The charge of "terrorism" has been made against you in many different quarters.

"Terrorism" in our country and in this phase of the struggle is a component of the politics carried out by the bosses front, beginning with the fascist Massacre of Piazza Fontana. Its purpose is to force a general retreat of the workers movement and a wholesale restoration of the old levels of exploitation. The ruling class has specifically aimed at realizing three fundamental objectives with this political policy: 1. encourage the growth of the reactionary bloc in power today, and in particular its most fascist components, with the perspective of regaining control of the situation in the factories and the country; 2. stamp out the revolutionary thrusts and channel the struggles that have matured in these years into a social-pacifist direction, raising the spectre of armed struggle as a "leap into the dark"; 3. discredit the revolutionary organizations and blame the Left for fascist and anti-working class provocations, following the formula of the opposed extremes and equating all manifestations of violence as being the same.

Our commitment in the factories and neighborhoods has been, from the beginning, to organize the workers autonomy for resistance to the counterrevolution in motion now, and to resist the liquidation of revolutionary thrusts being attempted by the opportunists and the reformists.

To organize the resistance and build armed proletarian power are the slogans that have guided and guide our revolutionary work. What does all this have to do with "terrorism"?

4. Therefore, what is the guiding thread of your intervention in this phase?

With the building of the Red Brigades we wanted to create a strategic center capable of posing the most urgent problems raised by the proletarian resistance movement.

We have not built a new group but have worked within every manifestation of working class autonomy to unify its consciousness around the strategic proposal of armed struggle for communism. Today we can say that the tossed stone has moved the waters: the problem of armed proletarian organization has been taken up by the whole revolutionary camp.

So now it is a matter of taking a step forward; imposing in struggle the political line of building armed proletarian power against militarist or in any case mistaken tendencies.

Militarist is the deviation of those who think that by armed action, understood only as an exemplary action, it is possible to "get the working class to move."

Groupist is the deviation that attributes the functions and tasks of the armed struggle to a nucleus of samurai.

Both these positions have a common denominator: lack of trust in the revolutionary capacity of the Italian proletariat.

We believe that armed action is only the culminating moment of a vast political work by which the proletarian vanguard, the resistance movement, is organized in a direct way relative to its real and immediate needs. In other words, armed action for the Red Brigades, armed action is the highest point of a deep process of self-organization within the class: its perspective for power.

Thus we are convinced that to advance on the road of armed struggle it is now necessary to carry out the task of political unification of all the political-military vanguards that move within the same perspective.

5. Do you intend to work for political unity among the revolutionary groups?

The groups are a reality of the past, surviving relics unequal to the objective development of the revolutionary process. The unity we intend to build is that of all the forces that move with a perspective of armed struggle for communism.

6. Can you be more precise?

Within the non-reformist Left three fundamental tendencies are operating at this moment:

--The first is a liquidationist one that takes for granted the political defeat of the working class. This tendency prepares itself for "party" work to lead the "retreat" during a long period of crisis.

Those who lead this tendency think of organizational development along internal lines and engage in a gross oversimplification, identify the growth of the revolutionary process with the growth of their own group. While the bosses have chosen the road of creeping civil war the liquidationists arrange their activity on the terrain of legal agitation and propaganda.

From this error flows the reproposition of a Third Internationalist model, which we consider a dull repetition of historical experience the working class has already gone through in the past and lacking in meaning for the future.

--The second is a centrist one that even though it does hot concede the political defeat. of the working class as a certainty, formulates its actions as a series of successive battles which are never seen as part of a unified plan of war. This tendency is represented by the autonomous factory and neighborhood organizations which exhaust their existence in tactical struggle, deluding themselves that they can build a consistent strategic alternative around "day-by-day" politics. Concretely, the problem these comrades must still resolve is contained in the following question: "autonomous organizations" or "organizations of the proletarian state"?

--The third is that of resistance which does not accept, in any way, the defeat of the working class as a foregone conclusion.

This is the tendency that knows how to grasp the new forms in which proletarian initiatives move, and works to project them along the strategic track of armed struggle for communism. On the terrain of revolutionary class war. The line of building armed proletarian power is based primarily on this last tendency.

The unity we intend to build is therefore, in the first place, that of all the forces that make up the camp of resistance: forces that since 1945 were always on the margins of the official lines of the communist workers movement, and younger forces of a more recent tradition who enrich the inheritance of proletarian autonomy with the struggles of 1968 and 1969.

7. Up to now we have not heard any talk about the Italian Communist Party. Why?

The Communist Party is a great democratic force that overall pursues a strategy exactly opposed to ours.

It does not seem useful, nor important to continue to attack it with volleys of words. On revolutionary terrain ideological struggle must also base itself on the capacity to make ones own political convictions live in history. Thus we are convinced that to the degree that the line of resistance, of proletarian power and armed struggle consolidates itself politically and organizationally in the workers movement, the communist elements that still believe in that party will certainly know how to make their choices.

8. When you speak of resistance how do you see the development of revolutionary forces in the South?

A revolutionary development in Italy is unthinkable without the active participation of the proletarians of the South. Unfortunately the revolutionary path of the Southern masses is presently distorted, largely due to the mass resentment over the failure of reformist strategy. The fascist bourgeoisie has temporarily succeeded in winning over popular strata of several zones of the South; organizing their "anger" around objectives that are in no way revolutionary. It is now up to the Northern working class vanguard forces to re-open the discussion of political unity with the South. It is an urgent task. We must dedicate the greatest attention to insuring that the action of the bourgeoisie in the South is not turned against the working class of the North.

9. But how is it possible to work along these lines given the fragility of the revolutionary political structures in the South?

In the South revolutionary thrusts are certainly not lacking; in fact, from a certain point of view they express very advanced levels. The bourgeoisie knows well that if the mechanisms of social control ever broke down there the revolutionary tide would advance with great decision. For this reason the State, the government and the capitalists all encourage the "meridionalism" or Southern regionalism led by the fascists, who pose as a subversive/criminal tendency against the State. In fact, they are only subversive to the workers! struggles. (This passage refers to the Southern "mafia"--ed.)

Then the reformist forces also contribute to the confusion by defending Italy's "democratic state" – which for the South means only repression and exploitation by the North. This helps the Right establish hegemony over the Southern proletarian forces that do tend to move against the system.

10. Given that things are like this, who can begin to reverse this trend?

It is best to be clear: Certainly not those intellectual groups of the Southern Left who spend their time studying "the phases of capitalist development in the South" or "the historic difference between North and South"--which in the meantime continue to grow. Even those groups which have concentrated everything on agitation and political propaganda have little chance of providing a strategic path forward for the recurring revolutionary thrusts (in the South).

To unblock the situation it is necessary for the consolidation of an armed vanguard that knows how to unite the new working class, day laborers, unemployed and sub-proletariat in the struggle against the fascists, the local bourgeoisies and the repressive organs of the state.

11. In what areas do you intend to develop your activity in the near future?

There are two kinds of activity we are carrying out, at the same pace and with continuity and determination: the work of clandestine organization and the work of mass organization.

By clandestine work we mean the consolidation of an economic, military and logistical material base that can guarantee full autonomy to our organization and constitute a strategic rear base for work "among the masses."

By the work of organizing the masses we mean building the links of the proletarian state within the factories and popular neighborhoods: an armed underground state that prepares for war.

12. Can you clarify this last point?

The problem that we have to resolve is to give the revolutionary thrusts that come from the resistance movement a dimension of power.

This requires a class-wide organizational development that knows how to respect the various levels of consciousness that exist there, but which at the same time knows how to unify them and force their revolutionary evolution. within the strategic perspective of armed struggle for communism.

The Red Brigades are the first guerrilla nuclei that work in this direction. For this reason those communist militants who study the construction of the armed party of the proletariat are organizing themselves around them.

13. What criteria guide your practice in the class struggle in this period?

We move with a long term view of things; we know that this is not the phase of war and precisely for this reason we work to create its subjective and organizational foundation. This is our criterion. All our actions aim toward this goal.

The popular resistance movement is in part characterized by a general desire to fight the bourgeoisie and by an equally general inability to carry this fight out effectively on the terrain imposed on it. Our practice moves in the direction of resolving this contradiction.

We do not seek the publicity of exemplary actions, but instead together with the proletarian vanguards we pose these problems:

--that of WAR AGAINST FASCISM which is not only the fascism of Almirante's Black Shirts, but also that of Premier Andreotti and Christian Democracy's white shirts;

--that of RESISTANCE IN THE FACTORIES to strike the enemies, saboteurs and liquidators of unity and workers' struggle, to combat hand to hand management's offensive seeking the political defeat of the workers for several more decades;

--that of RESISTANCE TO THE MILITARIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT, which does not mean struggling for the defense of little bourgeois-democratic spaces, but for the destruction of the armed structures of the state and its parallel! fascist militias.

14. A last question: do you think in terms of a national or continental development of the revolutionary process?

The achievement of a European and Mediterranean dimension of the revolutionary initiative is a very important objective. It is imposed on us by supranational structures of capital and power. To work for its maturity means above all to develop the class war in ones own country, but also to be ready to sustain those initiatives of concrete support required by the revolutionary and communist international movement.



After reprinting the full test of the BR document, Workers' Power criticized the BR's strategy of armed struggle. WP argued that it was not true that the bourgeoisie had decided to defeat the workers’ movement on the terrain of armed struggle. Instead, they said, the State intended to use all its weapons: the army, the schools, the revisionist parties, the unions. And only if the proletariat had overcome the State would the bosses finally choose armed struggle. WP further denied that political leadership of the movement should flow from armed organization.

Continuous Struggle responded to the BR document with sharp criticism but did not reprint the document itself. Lotta Continua accused the BR of "focoism" and an ideological confusion which led them to put forward a strategy of "armed struggle for reforms". WP in turn published a polemic attacking Continuous Struggle for what it considered was an unprincipled, opportunistic attack on the BR and defended the BR as "...proletarian comrades who have carried out the struggles of the ‘Hot Autumn' in the factories of the North, and who after long theoretical-political reflection . have chosen the path of clandestinity, in the conviction that only this path will permit the construction of an autonomous organization for the armed struggle. One can disagree with the choice of building an autonomous organization for armed struggle; it is difficult. to argue that another path besides that of clandestinity exists to build it..."

STRIKING AT THE FASCISTS

The next major BR action in their campaign against "white shirt Fascism" was the kidnapping on June 28, 1973 of Alfa Romeo manager Michele Mincuzzi, a time and motion study engineer. His file had been captured during the January 15th raid on the UCID office in Milan.

The Mincuzzi kidnapping took place against a background of great political tension in the country. The Center-Right Andreotti government had just been brought down by mass working class struggle and the capitalists had turned once more to supporting a reformist Center-Left government to end the social crisis. In the factories, the unions had just signed a sell-out contract. At 8:30 in the evening as Mincuzzi was getting out of his car, he was surrounded by a BR commando and after a brief struggle was pushed into a small van and blindfolded. Once out in the open countryside he was made to get out of the van and submit to a "proletarian trial". The "judge", according to Mincuzzi, showed himself to be well-informed about the organization of work in the factory. Later Mincuzzi was quoted as saying, "they were very kind. I'm sure they had no intention of harming me."

The brief interrogation ended. Mincuzzi was released near the Alfa Romeo factory. A sign had been placed around his neck. It said:

"RED BRIGADES--MINCUZZI MICHELE FASCIST MANAGER OF ALFA ROMEO--TRIED BY THE RED BRIGADES. NOTHING WILL GO UNPUNISHED--STRIKE ONE TO EDUCATE ONE HUNDRED--ALL POWER TO THE ARMED PEOPLE--FOR COMMUNISM."



A PR leaflet was left on the ground explaining the reasons for Min- cuzzi's "arrest". The text is reprinted below:

Thursday June 28, 1973 at 8 pm an armed nucleus of the RED BRIGADES seized, questioned and tried MINCUZZI MICHELE a manager at Alfa-Romeo.

To understand who he really is we begin with some of his famous phrases:

"The abolition of work categories is against nature."

"Egalitarianism is inhuman."

These phrases are the pivotal point of the political aims of the training course for middle level managers he conducts periodically in the factory.

MINCUZZI is not satisfied with being the teacher of the torturers who impose the hellish speed up and work pace on us at Alfa, but he also imparts his fascist teachings to the managers of other factories, holding these courses at the UCID (Union of Christian Entrepreneurial Managers).

In the factory he is one of the top leaders of the Direction of Production (DIPRO) and he is the one who is in charge of organizing the speed and work pace of the assembly line.

He is always the one who decides who will be promoted from one work category to another.

Because of his "high qualities" he is considered an "expert" at Alfa on union questions and represents the company's interests in contract negotiations and meetings with the union.

There are a lot of us who remember his active collaboration with the COUNTERSTRIKE of the managers for the "right to work" and against "violence" which finally let us know who our State bosses1 really were. And it's hard to believe in the sincerity of his sentiment "against every kind of violence" seeing that on December 2, 1971 he did not hesitate a second in smashing through a picket line with his car in coordination with the police who then charged the workers. Even more recently MINCUZZI distinguished himself during the maneuvers that management carried out against workers' autonomy and its forms of struggle, the shop floor processions, the quickie "chessboard" strikes2, etc.

The last event (1,000 workers suspended after the strike in the Paint shop) also shows that our State bosses intend to be in the vanguard of the anti-working class repression.

MINCUZZI is therefore a fascist hierarch in white shirt. He is of the same breed as the MACHIARINIS and the many others who in the private and State-run factories try to make the workers pay for the crisis using the weapons of blackmail and high living costs, terrorism and provocation, in a word, anti-working class violence.

The hierarch MINCUZZI has many associates inside and outside the factory.

One of them is PIERANI LUIGI of personnel management, who while working behind the scenes is one of the most dogged executors of the bosses’ repression...

PIERANI, it seems, is so conscious of his function that he has himself escorted by a "gorilla" loaned to him by the police, who also keep his house under constant watch with two police cars.

PIERANI has not understood one thing, that if the bosses have long memories, the proletarians have immeasurable patience, and that in the end nothing will go unpunished.

Comrades... let's learn how to recognize each of our enemies, one at a time, to watch them and punish them whenever they are directly responsible for anti-working class actions...

The terrorist politics of the bosses walk with well-defined legs, those of our managers and our foremen. This is the premise for advancing on the path opened up with the struggles of '69-'73, to develop the themes of the war on the capitalistic organization of work and the resistance to the anti-working class restructuration, to permit the mass movement to advance in the struggle for a communist society.

Armed struggle for communism.
RED BRIGADES



Italy's leading bourgeois daily, the Milan-based Corriere della Sera tried to get Mincuzzi to say that his abductors were fascists, but Mincuzzi refused. Avanti, the newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) advanced the theory that the BR were "illegal extremists" who had to be opposed in contrast to the "legal Left extremists" who had to be defended when the State attacked them. For the BR, said Avanti, there was only the penal code. Avanti went so far as to define anyone who used violence or violated the law as objectively right-wing. This definition was so broad that it included some of the PSI's own working class members involved in union activities like picketing, factory occupations, etc., that were still illegal under the old Rocco-Mussolini fascist labor laws, still on the books in Italy!

The PSI's theory of "good" and "bad" Left extremists was also the same line that Berlinguer, the head of the PCI, adopted two years later in 1975.

At this point an interesting ideological unity was also emerging between the Social-Democratic Avanti and Continuous Struggle who were now both denouncing illegal actions as inherently reactionary. Continuous Struggle, which had as late as the January 1973 BR raid on UCID defended the use of violence as a legitimate weapon of the class struggle, now began to move away from supporting violence, instead counter-posing "mass struggle for a guaranteed wage and against capitalistic organization of work".

In a June 30, 1973 article, Continuous Struggle attacked the BR Mincuzzi action as "lacking any connection to the needs of the workers' struggle", accused the BR of "refusing to face the task of building a mass organization, substituting itself for the masses by carrying out ‘exemplary actions’ and objectively aiding the fascists to relaunch the ‘strategy of tension’ in Milan."

Both Workers' Vanguard ("Avanguardia Operaia") and the PCI continued to insist that the BR were actually fascist provocateurs. The PCI even hinted that the BR were working for the Israeli secret service because someone had mistakenly used a six-pointed Star of David in an action instead of the five-pointed communist one.

“After Mincuzzi, Workers' Power was the only "historic" New Left organ- ization that continued to support the BR. While criticizing the BR tactic of proletarian trials and calling on the BR to link their armed struggle to the workers' "mass refusal of work", Workers’ Power ("Potere Operaio") launched a violent polemic against Continuous Struggle, exposing their flip-flop in opposing the BR and armed struggle. To drive their point home more graphically, WP reprinted the old Continuous Struggle article supporting the 1972 Macchiarini kidnapping next to their current article condemning the Mincuzzi action.

However by early summer of 1973, Workers' Power was weakened and isolated. Only a few years before, it had some 4,000 members and was a major factor in the Left. For over a year since the Spring of 1972 when WP had publicly defended the BR, Feltrinelli and the G.A.P., the State had carried out a heavy campaign of repression against them. And Continuous Struggle and other groups now refused to form united fronts with WP, to hold joint meetings with them, or even to march with them in demonstrations.

In the fast-moving polarization, in which the New Left middle ground found itself caught in the real cross-fire between the imperialists and the armed revolution, much of the extra-parliamentary New Left was not ready. Particularly in Milan, which had always been a revisionist stronghold, the majority of the New Left backed away from armed struggle in 1973-74. Continuous Struggle, which did contain revolutionary elements, had only 800 student members in Milan (it was stronger in other cities). The Trotskyist group Workers' Vanguard, which was concentrated in Milan, had 2,500 members there. And the strongest single M.S. (Student Movement)’ tendency in Milan was controlled by the PCI, which led some 2,000 students in the city.

Incidentally, the original contention of the founders of the Red Brigades, that armed struggle was the real dividing line within the movement, had been amply demonstrated. Most of the supposedly "Maoist" groups had rushed over to crowd in with the pro-Moscow PCI, the Trotskyists, the pro-NATO Social—Democrats, and the supposedly syndicalist leadership of Continuous Struggle in opposing armed resistance to repression, praying at the altar of bourgeois democracy. For all their supposed heavy disagreements, these people had political unity. And on the other side, the armed resistance had acted as a magnet, drawing all the revolutionary-minded elements together out of the tumultuous mass of the Left.

The debate over armed struggle that had polarized and split the Left also resulted in a split within Workers’ Power itself. At the WP convention held at the end of June 1973, one wing of the organization, called "autonomists" and grouped around Toni Negri, WP's leading theoretician, wanted WP to focus on anarcho-syndicalist mass organizing as a strategy. The other main grouping, calling itself “counter-power" wanted a tighter cadre organization. After the convention Workers’ Power dissolved as an organization. A number of WP activists close to the "counter—power" faction eventually joined the BR, while Negri's "autonomisti" went into the loose network of revolutionary factory and student collectives that came to be known as Workers' Autonomy. Adriana Faranda and Valerio Morucci, two ex-WP activists with ties to top "counter-power" faction leaders, later became leaders of the Rome BR column, helping to carry out the Moro kidnapping operation in 1978.

Fall of 1973, the world imperialist system faced a serious economic crisis. Battered by national liberation struggles and by the struggle of emerging nations to impose new relations of force in the world economy, imperialism was less and less able to control world events.

The October 1973 Arab-Israeli “oil war" forced up the price of crude oil causing an energy crisis in the advanced capitalist countries, including Italy. In the Mediterranean region, the crisis had the effect of further weakening the military dictatorships of two key NATO countries, Portugal and Greece, already weakened by the national liberation movements in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique and the struggle of the Greek students.

Because of new world-wide conditions created by the crisis, Italy, the NATO country at the center of the Mediterranean, now became the key to maintaining a shaky u.s. control of the region. And it was in Italy that the mounting contradictions of the imperial metropolis were also most acute. The auto industry, hit by the oil crisis, was the manufacturing cornerstone of the Italian industrial economy. At the same time, Italian workers were more combative than any others in Europe. A partial price freeze imposed by the Italian bourgeoisie to stop creeping inflation was unsuccessful. It only postponed the full impact of the economic crisis by several months, making it worse when it hit.

Imperialism at that moment could not afford big shocks to its system. The goals of the Italian bourgeoisie were: to make the workers pay for the the crisis through lower wages, higher prices, more work, and more discipline. As soon as the temporary price freeze was lifted, prices of basic necessities--oil, flour, sugar, bread, pasta, etc.--jumped wildly. Rents were now eating up half of workers' wages.

In November of 1973 the government issued its Austerity Decree: not only higher gasoline and heating oil prices, but also a de facto curfew on businesses. All movie houses, bars, public places, etc. had to close by sundown. Even TV programming was cut back. Kerosene (for home heating) rationing hit proletarians hardest physically. But the ban on driving cars on holidays hit workers psychologically much harder. The decree was, in essence, psychological terror. The workers were being told they could not enjoy themselves, they must accept a war economy, they must suffer from the cold, they must bend, be humiliated.

Gianni Agnelli, the head of FIAT, through his wide influence over the Italian press started a propaganda campaign to get workers to accept the austerity program by romanticizing the "good old times" – poverty, modesty, the spirit of self-sacrifice, the poetic beauty of bicycle rides...

But to make proletarians pay for the crisis, a fundamental reorganization or "restructuration" of production was needed.

The central problem for Agnelli and the bourgeoisie remained how to silence the worker rebellion. To do this, Agnelli needed the help of the government, the unions and the Left political parties. Agnelli looked to the government to provide investment capital for shifting production to the poverty-stricken but more conservative South, and financial help to rapidly expand its markets in the Arab world and Eastern Europe. Agnelli offered the unions a “strategic plan" under which the reformist unions would get to help administer the new economic plan.

In the Fall of 1973, the PCI (Italian Communist Party), which had been flirting with Agnelli for a year since they had held their joint conference with FIAT on the new auto production technology, proposed their new political line: "the historic compromise". PCI leader Berlinguer decided that the historic lesson to be drawn from the military coup that overthrew the Left-wing Allende government in Chile in October 1973 was the need for an alliance with the Catholic church in Italy, and the moderate wing of the Christian Democrats (DC) led by Aldo Moro3. Agnelli quietly signaled his approval of the PCI's new line.

But for the "party of Mirafiori", for the "red handkerchiefs" who moved through the plants punishing scabs and company spies there was to be no compromise. They had to be beaten up. Agnelli began a new campaign of repression inside FIAT: mass firings, fines, warnings.

When auto contract talks opened in November 1973, the importance of the struggle was underlined when, for the first time, Umberto Agnelli and the three top union leaders personally led the talks. Agnelli began by threatening mass lay-offs unless the government and the unions agreed to his demands.

The working class was disoriented in the face of this attack. The fascist union CISNAL and the company union SIDA raised their heads again. The first protest strikes were weakly supported. The Left-led unions had no strategy for opposing the demands of the bosses. Only 25% of the workers supported the December 6th strike.

THE AMERIO OPERATION

On December 10th the BR kidnapped Ettore Amerio, the head of the FIAT personnel department. Bruno Labate, kidnapped in February 1973, had fingered Amerio as the main person responsible for seeing that fascists recommended for hiring by the fascist CISNAL union were given jobs.

Amerio was seized near his garage at 7:30 in the morning, put in a small van, taken to a "people's jail" and put on trial. His trial touched on the issues of FIAT fascism, firings and lay-offs. The BR did not threaten his life and Amerio cooperated with his jailers. That same day a BR leaflet was left in a phone booth explaining the reasons for Amerio's kidnapping and outlining the conditions to be met for his release:

Monday, December 10 at 7:30 in the morning an armed nucleus of the Red Brigades seized Cavalier Ettore Amerio, head of personnel of the automotive division of FIAT near his home.

He is currently being held in a people's jail.

Any police investigation whatsoever may jeopardize personal safety.

The period of imprisonment of this planner of anti-working class terror depends on three factors:

1. The prosecution of anti-working class maneuvers (lay-offs, etc.) intended to take advantage of the "crisis" created and blown up by FIAT in collusion with the most reactionary forces in the country. The thrust of this crisis is a reactionary transformation of the entire political situation in Italy.

2. The progress of the questioning by which we intend to make clear – the fascist policy followed by FIAT in its post-contract offensive against the autonomous vanguards, working class organization inside the factory and their forms of struggle; --the question of firings used terroristically to break working class resistance to the incessant maneuvers to increase the workload. Cavalier Amerio will have to explain to us the quality and quantity of this attack which in the last few months alone has meant the expulsion of over 250 vanguards from the factory; --the organization of espionage inside FIAT, which is stronger than ever, as shown by the motives for some recent firings, after the collapse of the investigations begun by the police-magistrate Guarinello; --the practice of hirings carried out by fascists through the CISNAL and the MSI (the fascist party), since the secretary of that fascist pseudo-union (arrested and interrogated by us last February) has pointed to him claiming he has heavy responsibility in this matter.

3. The accuracy and completeness of the information that will be given of this action in particular and about our organization in general by Agnelli's newspapers.

Comrades, when fear spreads among large strata of the masses the bosses have already won half the war. These are the stakes in the game of the "economic crisis" we are witnessing. But all of us know that it's not so much the economy of the bosses that's in crisis as much as their power. It is their capacity to exploit, to rule and to oppress that has been strongly shaken by the workers struggles of these last years.

In this situation it is not we who must be afraid, just as we weren't afraid at the end of March when we raised the red flag against the bosses and the reformists over the biggest factories in Turin.

In this situation we must accept war...

Why not fight when we can win?

What we think is we will not get out of this "crisis" with a "compromise." On the contrary we're convinced that it is necessary to follow the main road outlined by the workers struggles of the last 5 years and that is:

Not to agree to truces that allow the bourgeoisie to reorganize itself.

To operate in such a way as to deepen the governmental crisis.

To transform this crisis into the first moments of armed proletarian power, of armed

struggle for communism.

"Historic compromise" or armed proletarian power: this is the choice that the comrades must make today, because all middle paths have been eliminated.

A division is taking place inside the workers movement, but from this division the unity of the revolutionary front that we seek is born.

This choice, in any event, is forced on us every day inside and outside the factory, as we are confronted by the open aggression of the bosses, the government and the State and the deterioration of our traditional instruments of organization and struggle.

Defeat passivity!

Say no! to compromise with FIAT fascism!

Accept war!

These three things are necessary today to move forward in the building of proletarian power.

Create, build, organize armed proletarian power!

No compromise with FIAT fascism!

The firings will not go unpunished!

ARMED STRUGGLE FOR COMMUNISM!

Turin, December 10, 1973

RED BRIGADES




One of the effects of the kidnapping was to encourage the movement to dig into Amerio's fascist past. The December 13, 1973 issue of "Lotta Continua” published some interesting biographical information about Amerio. He had, it turned out, been one of the prime movers behind Iniziativa Sindacale (Union Initiative) the trade union front that FIAT had created in 1967 to replace their completely discredited company union SIDA. Inizia- tiva Sindacale had in turn been dissolved in 1971 after Amerio was promoted to head of the personnel department at FIAT.

Massagrande, the police magistrate of Turin, was forced to publicly admit that Labate, the Fascist union leader, and Amerio had been in touch with each other over "matters regarding work".

While the bourgeois press was trying to build up public sympathy for Amerio describing his heart condition, etc., “Lotta Continua” pointed out that he was infamous among workers for the many people he had fired or given punitive transfers. It was also pointed out that his career as a fascist and a hatchet man for FIAT dated back to 1954 when he had worked for the reactionary Vittorio Valletta, head of FIAT in those days, helping him break the Leftwing unions inside FIAT.

The State meanwhile unleashed a heavy campaign of repression against the Turin working class. For several days the entire city was under a virtual state of siege. Whole working class neighborhoods were surrounded and subjected to police dragnets, which included the use of police helicopters. All the newspapers were given daily instruction by the Ministry of the Interior on what to print about the kidnapping. The Feltrinelli family's country home was raided by police, as were the homes of three left-wing intellectuals. The Turinese daily La Stampa, FIAT's house organ, called for reinstatement of the death penalty. The Christian Democrats on the initiative of Fanfani, a leader of the party's right-wing, proposed a new anti-terrorist law to deal with kidnappings – one which included a provision permitting the arrest of anyone who published news "prejudicial to the investigation".

In response the BR issued a second communique. It was left in the same downtown phone booth in Piazza Statuto where the first BR message had been left. The police who were turning Turin upside down looking for the BR were made to look like fools. The police put a heavy guard around the phone booth.

The second BR message:


The dismissals will not go unpunished

Of the three factors on which the detention of the director of personnel – FIAT automotive division Ettore Amerio depends, two of them for now have been ignored.

That is:

--FIAT continues to use the threat of mass lay-offs in the contract talks;

--Agnelli's newspapers (but also those of his associates) with their stories about the "uncertain political color" of our organization render very poor service to one of the most loyal servants of their boss.

--on his part, instead, the prisoner Amerio is "collaborating" in a satisfactory manner.

--we restate also that the foolish behavior of the police forces are putting his safety in danger.

Comrades, up to now the interrogations to which we have subjected the head of personnel Amerio:

1. Have confirmed and detailed the existence, even now, of a FIAT espionage network _ that is directly led by Cuttica, the same one who represents Agnelli at the bargaining table. He is about to be removed because FIAT does not want a chief of personnel who in the next few months will go on trial on charges of bribing functionaries of the State and organizing a mini-SIFAR4 for the private use of the Agnelli brothers!

This spy network is directly run by Cavalier Negri, who as head of the central hiring office, is in charge of the infamous "general services."

2. Have confirmed the punitive and persecutorial character of the over 250 dismissals for "excessive social insurance payments" or for insubordination that have hit the political vanguards and the vanguards of the struggle after the national contract was signed.

3. Have confirmed the systematic, organized practice of checking on the political views of those who apply for jobs, a task which the FIAT "general services," to be more careful, has now given to a private investigation agency, the Manzini Agency.

4, Have confirmed the selective hiring of fascists, which as Labate, secretary of a fascist pseudo-union who we questioned, punished and whose hair we shaved off, has already told us happen with great ease since the head of the central hiring office at Palazzo Marconi is a fascist executioner; Cavalier Negri (who has been at FIAT and wore a black shirt since the '30s) the loyal servant in equal measure of Agnelli and Abelli.

The interrogations have also confirmed other important facts which we will document and publish as we did before.

These are questions, as you can understand comrades, that can only be confronted and resolved by a struggle for power, a struggle which as a result is political and armed. We do not think we can resolve these questions with our own private little war. On the

contrary our action is strongly united with all the elements of the workers movement which act to build a real popular, workers armed power in the factories and the neighborhoods.

RED BRIGADES



The BR launched a massive propaganda campaign in the factories throughout the North. Inside FIAT plants, BR members distributed leaflets in person. BR literature was also left at Ansaldo Nucleare shipyards at Sampierdarena, at the Sit-Siemens factory in Milan, at Breda plants in Porto Marghera, and the Milan industrial suburb of Sesto San Giovanni, at the Alfa auto plant in Arese and in Piacenza and Modena on the Milan- Luino railroad tracks. During the shift change at the Sit-Siemens and Breda factories in Porto Marghera, workers in two cars with loudspeakers outside the plant gates broadcast 45 minute speeches prepared by the BR. The program included the playing of the Italian working class national anthem "Bandiera Rossa" (Red Flag) and the "Internationale". Huge crowds gathered around the cars. At Mirafiori the BR conducted a similar program and FIAT management called in the police to stop it. Four FIAT workers were hauled into the police station and grilled about the identity of the workers who read the speeches aloud. Some regular shop floor union delegates who happened to be distributing union leaflets were also grabbed by police by mistake.

Meanwhile the police, the Carabinieri, and the judiciary all began to feud among themselves over the handling of the search for the BR. After a week the police still had no leads however.

TV crews were sent to the gates of the FIAT plant hoping to interview workers hostile to the BR; instead TV crews were greeted by workers who denounced Amerio with clenched fists.

Eight days after his abduction, on December 18, 1973 Amerio was released after Agnelli had withdrawn his threat of mass lay-offs. The BR released a message the same day summing up the results of their action:


Today, Tuesday December 18, in the early hours of the morning the head of personnel of FIAT-Auto division Ettore Amerio was freed.

During the eight days of his detention he was subjected to precise interrogations on the questions of FIAT espionage, dismissals, the methods of hiring, the selection of fascists and more generally on the organization and history of the counter-revolution inside FIAT.

He "collaborated" in a satisfactory manner.

During his imprisonment FIAT withdrew all threats of mass lay-offs.

During these same eight days:

--the police forces were cleanly defeated, despite false statements and terrorism _ used against leftwing militants and in particular against some worker vanguards.

--Agnelli's newspapers were not able to hide the political character of our action and at the same time they revealed to everyone their unrestrained manipulations and their "bold" interpretations, reconfirming an old proletarian conviction: LA "STAMPA" IS A LIAR;

--The reformist newspapers went beyond manipulation. They invented slanderous stories out of whole cloth, stories that – let's make it clear – would never come out of the head of a communist, above all because they discredit the workers movement more than they do our organization.

Both carried out a significant "censorship" of the basic problems we agitated around: FIAT FASCISM and the QUESTION OF DISMISSALS. Are these the first fruits of the “historic compromise"?

Comrades, eight days ago by imprisoning Amerio we underlined one thing above all: WE ARE NOT THE ONES WHO MUST BE AFRAID. On the contrary WE MUST ARM OURSELVES and accept war because we can win.

By releasing him today we want to cancel an illusion: that one can win the war by carrying one battle to the extreme.

We are only at the beginning.

We are in the opening stage of a deep crisis of the regime, which is, above all, a political crisis of the State and is heading toward an "institutional break," toward a change in a reactionary direction of the entire political scene.

Our task in this crisis, comrades, is to build within the big factories and the popular neighborhoods the first centers of ARMED PROLETARIAN WORKERS POWER! CREATE, BUILD, ORGANIZE THE ARMED PROLETARIAN POWER! NO COMPROMISE WITH FIAT FASCISM! THE DISMISSALS WILL NOT GO UNPUNISHED! ARMED STRUGGLE FOR COMMUNISM.

December 18, 1973
RED BRIGADES



After his release Amerio testified, to the displeasure of his employers, that he had been well-treated by the BR. Later the police accused Amerio of not co-operating with their investigation and the Cardbinieri actually put him at the top of their list of suspected BR members!

A concerted effort was made to discredit the BR in the eyes of the masses. Most of the nation's press, led by the Milan daily Corriere della Sera (the N.Y. Times of Italy), wrote in the wake of the Amerio operation that the BR were a secretly fascist group. Chiming in, the Social-Democratic newspaper Avanti and the pro-Moscow PCI newspaper L'Unita both suggested that the Brigades were a fascist front group. Both left parties called upon workers to assist the police in repressing the "fascist" BR (why the police would want to or could be trusted to break up a fascist group, neither explained). The Trotskyist Workers' Vanguard ("Avanguardia Operaia") group said that the kidnapping, just like earlier ones, was jointly staged by the "fascist" BR, Amerio himself, and SID (Italian secret service) to give the State an excuse to declare a state of seige in Turin. The Red Brigades' growing political-military presence was changing the nation's entire political situation.

At this point Continuous Struggle ("Lotta Continua") was the only Left newspaper that admitted the BR was a revolutionary organization. Continuous Struggle however, continued its political polemic against the BR, accusing it of "petty-bourgeois militaristic deviations". According to Lotta Continua, BR's intentions were good but only mass workers' struggle – not "some surrogate Robin Hood" – could solve the problems of dismissals, mass lay-offs, increased exploitation and stolen wages. The BR program "seems to be to organize the proletariat in clandestine BR's". Lotta Continua concluded that "the choice has never been between legality and illegality, rather between a proletarian mass line and petty-bourgeois militarist one." Lotta Continua, however, said that it still defended the correctness of proletarian violence in principle and attacked the rest of the extra-parliamentary Left for failing to do so.

In Parliament the Undersecretary of the Interior, Pucci, gave a speech calling for the strengthening of the State's repressive apparatus in which he gave statistics on police repressive activity for 1972: 1.2 million police files opened on individuals, 4,252 arrests, 11,575 criminal charges brought without arrest. Pucci concluded by boasting that the police could do "even better".

WALTER ALASIA

On December 15, 1976 Walter Alasia, a member of the Red Brigades, was killed in a pre-dawn shootout with Italian police in the Milan working class suburb of Sesto San Giovanni. Fifteen members of the special "anti-terrorism" squad had come to arrest him at his parents' apartment in the projects where they lived. Walter traded shots with the police killing two, jumped out a ground floor window into the courtyard and was wounded in the legs by police machine gun fire. Then as he lay there bleeding a member of the "anti-terrorism" squad executed him. Walter was 20 years old.

At the time of his death, Walter had already led a BR raid on the Right ‘wing Christian Democratic Party "New Democracy" headquarters. He was of the BR second generation; young proletarians who, too young to be part of the 1968-69 mass student and worker revolts, came to political consciousness in the early 1970's when the clash had already become militarized. From the beginning of Walter's brief political life the armed struggle was a dominant, life and death political question for him and his peers.

Alasia was the son of Communist factory workers. He grew up in Sesto San Giovanni, "the Italian Stalingrad", a tough Communist factory suburb of 80,000 workers on the outskirts of Milan. His father, Guido, was a skilled worker, a mold-maker at Ortofrigor, a Milan refrigeration equipment factory. His mother, Ada Tibaldi, was also a factory worker. In 1962 she had gone to work on the assembly line at SAPSA, a small rubber factory which was a subsidiary of the big multinational Italian-based Pirelli tire company. A Communist, she soon became a union activist, and took active part in the "Hot Autumn" factory revolt of 1969 when Walter was 13. She remained at SAPSA over 10 years.

Walter was a playful, high-spirited child. In school he showed artistic talent, but except for design, he got barely passing grades. Walter never adjusted to the academically sterile, authoritarian, 19th century atmosphere of the Italian school system of the 1960's.

At age 15, in 1971, because he showed real promise as a cartoonist, his parents enrolled him in the newly opened Itis Vocational High School for boys near his home in Sesto. His entry into Itis was a major turning point in his life.

The Itis student body was virtually all working class youth drawn from the Sesto neighborhood. Many of Walter's closest boyhood friends from Sesto were fellow students at Itis. They were soon swept into the high school student revolt that was spreading like wildfire through Italy's authoritarian vocational schools in 1971.

Walter and the others organized an "autonomous" student collective at Itis and within 2 years they had liberated the school. Teachers were forced to give everyone the same passing grade. Reactionary teachers and administrators were harassed and driven out of the school. The students turned their classes into political seminars on a wide range of topics. Regular class attendance ceased, the school administration having lost physical control of the school. Itis temporarily became a liberated zone (what the BR refer to as "zones of red power"), one of a whole series of schools in Milan and other Northern cities that became rear bases from which revolutionary student collectives moved out to fight the police and the fascists and do factory and community organizing.

Alasia was soon recruited into the collective's security force, and developed a reputation for reliability and having a cool head in a crisis. In 1973 the Itis autonomous collective became a part of Continuous Struggle (Lotta Continua). By now Itis had become one of the key strongholds of the revolutionary Left in Sesto. And in turn, the Sesto section of Continuous Struggle, with Walter's Itis collective at its head, was in the forefront of the running street warfare that took place between fascists, police and revolutionary Left throughout 1973 and 1974 as the State escalated its efforts to militarily smash the Milan revolutionary Left. Wherever there was street fighting, Walter and his fellow Itis revolutionaries were to be found in the thick of battle. Walter was 6 feet tall, and was said to have loved taking a punch and giving one back too.

The Itis collective helped to successfully defend one of the main Left strongholds, the Politechnico Vocational School, from a fascist assault in April 1973, during a big national mobilization of fascists in Milan. Five hundred "autonomous" students formed up outside of the Politechnico campus. Walter Alasia was there with the Itis group. At the end of the street the fascists appeared, heading toward the campus to beat Leftists up. The defense force of 500 students began to link arms and move forward in a fast, rhythmic march. Quickly the pace turns into a mass running charge, with motorcycle helmets on, handkerchiefs over their faces, armed with clubs. The frightened fascists break up and take off, scrambling to get away. People in the neighborhood who were watching from their windows applauded the high school revolutionaries.

Alasia was very active in Continuous Struggle's Milan demos as a security marshal. Everyone remembers him as very controlled and level-headed in moments of tension. After the Brescia Massacre, when the fascists killed 8 people by bombing a Left demonstration, the New Left attacked the Fascist headquarters in Milan. During the hand-to-hand fighting the Continuous Struggle Sesto section leader got lost in the chaos. Walter took over and directed the section's attack. He was 18 years old, with three years of experience in the struggle.

The Itis collective members had begun to question the nuclear family and traditional sexual roles as they wrestled with the question of building a new, non—oppressive way of living. Walter's favorite reading material in this period was a free-wheeling, counter-cultural magazine called Bread & Roses. Walter distributed Bread & Roses along with the Continuous Struggle newspaper in his high school.

Bread & Roses was an irregularly published, youth-oriented magazine. It attacked the nuclear family mercilessly, criticized the revolutionary Left's failure to address personal problems of young people, attacked the careerism, egotism and oppressive behavior of macho male student leaders. It satirized the hypocrisies and inconsistencies of the student movement sub-culture which talked of revolutionary commitment but which continued to live out the lies and hypocrisies of the old culture.

Bread & Roses put forward the thesis that to really deepen one's political commitment it was necessary to rediscover the personal, the private. It was incorrect to separate personal behavior from social behavior. All of capitalist society's repressions and taboos were reflected in everyday life, in family and interpersonal relations. Bread & Roses was sharply critical of the proletarian family as a "vile money-relation". It called for economic independence for all members of the family, including children, as the only progressive solution.

The magazine also dealt with other issues, such as the underground economy, drugs, and sex. The problem of sexual roles and relations was a central theme it focused on in every issue. Bread & Roses was very popular at Itis and Walter kept a complete set of back issues in his room.

Walter was not interested in being a leader, making lots of speeches, becoming a movement "superstar". His political style was calm and to the point. His fellow student activists respected him. While he was all business in a crisis, he still liked to tease his friends with a subtle, ironic sense of humor.

His bedroom, which he shared with his older brother Oscar, was plastered with posters of Lenin, Che, Angela Davis, Stalin, and a smiling Ho Chi Minh. On his walls he also had pictures of Sacco and Vanzetti (two Italian-American anarchist immigrants executed by the State of Massachusetts in the 1920's), Italian WWII anti-Fascist partisans in combat, Vietnamese women with rifles on their shoulders, a picture of a laughing crowd surrounding a huge, headless marble statue of fascist dictator Mussolini, and a picture of Chinese Red Army soldiers in spotless "Mao" jackets.

Walter liked to wear his brown hair very long and sometimes kept it in a pony tail. He grew a mustache. Typical dress for him was white "chinos", sneakers and an embroidered Indian cotton shirt, tight at the waist. He liked rock music, Jimi Hendrix, Vanilla Fudge, Jethro Tull, and started learning to play the guitar. He often spent hours listening to music in his room.

By early 1974 it was becoming clear that the State was forcing the revolutionary Left to choose between armed struggle and passive extinction. Continuous Struggle, unable to give political leadership to the movement, split over the question of armed struggle. The whole Sesto section of the organization went with the "militarist" or pro-armed struggle faction. Walter and a small group of 4 or 5 friends did not participate actively in the faction fight, but just quietly dropped away.

After leaving Continuous Struggle and dropping out of his school, Walter, who had never been an intellectual, for the first time began to do some serious reading: selected works of Lenin, a six-volume series on philosophy and science (which he had to buy on credit), George Jackson's Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye, and the Latin American novel One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Comrades who worked with him during this period said that the BR's highly successful Sossi action made a deep impression on Walter and many other student revolutionaries. The BR's communiques were the subject of long discussions between Walter and his friends. He had particularly agreed with the BR's analysis that the real dividing line in the movement was the question of armed struggle. Walter began to work with the Red Brigades some time after the Sossi action in late 1974 or early 1975.

His life underwent a change when he joined the Brigades. After brief jobs as a lathe operator turning out screws in a small factory earning $150 a month, and as a telephone installer, Walter went to work at the main post office. He broke off with most of his old friends. Meeting an old schoolmate, Walter would tell them that he'd left politics. His family noticed he spent a lot of time at home reading Soledad Brother and Blood In My Eye. His behavior changed, became much quieter and more disciplined – started helping his mother with household chores. Sometimes he spent the whole night out, hinting at a romance. His dress became more neat, and Walter even cut his beloved pony tail. His family also noticed that he avoided being photographed after he had his hair cut shorter.

In October 1976 police raided a BR safehouse in Pavia rented by Alasia under a false name. According to police accounts Walter's glasses were found there, and traced to his optician. But the police do not arrest him right away. Instead he is put under watch and his telephone tapped. After the December 1, 1976 BR raid on the right-wing "New Democracy" headquarters, rightwingers identify Alasia from photographs as one of the BR unit. Just before dawn on the morning of December 15, 1976, a special unit of police surround a building in the Sesto projects. Ten police guard the street, while cops with automatic weapons, bulletproof vests, and helmets break into the Alasia's home.

Overnight Walter Alasia became a folk hero to the working class youth of Sesto. Many people came to visit his grave in the local cemetery. The Red Brigades paid him the ultimate tribute and named their tough Milan column after him.

Find more stories in the article archives | Head to the forums