Workers and Capital is universally recognised as the most important work produced by operaismo, a current of political thought emerging in the 1960s that revolutionised the institutional and extra-parliamentary Left in Italy and beyond. In the decade after its first publication in 1966, the debates over Workers and Capital produced new methods of analysis and a new vocabulary for thousands of militants, helping to inform the new forms of workplace, youth and community struggles. Concepts like “neocapitalism,” “class composition,” “mass-worker,” “the plan of capital,” “workers’ inquiry” and “co-research” became an established part of the Italian Left’s political lexicon. Over five decades since it was first published, Workers and Capital is a key text in the history of the international workers’ movement, yet only now appears in English translation for the first time. Far from simply an artefact of the intense political conflicts of the 1960s, Tronti’s work offers extraordinary tools for understanding the powerful shifts in the nature of work and class composition in recent decades.
“Tronti’s analyses of capital and the potential to overthrow it, which provided a beacon for generations of Italian radicals, have lost none of their power today. All those who struggle within and against capitalist society will find here a treasure of new insights and weapons.”
“Every generation of revolutionary anti-capitalists has to come to terms with how to read afresh the classic formulations of Marx and Lenin in ways appropriate to the conditions of their times. How Tronti and some of his close colleagues did this in the 1960s is a spectacular and inspirational example of how to re-theorize class formation and the practices of class struggle from a ground-up and workerist perspective. While our contemporary world may be very different, there is much to be learned not only conceptually but also methodologically from Tronti’s brilliant and incisive interventions at all levels in the politics of his era.”