The first English translation of the 1971 Italian novel Vogliamo Tutto (We Want Everything) has just been released. The author, Nanni Balestrini, was a participant in the student and worker movements in the late 60s and early 70s.
He turned his discussions with workers involved in the Fiat factory wildcat strikes and occupations into this novel. He universalises their experiences: we live and work alongside a nameless protagonist, cheering on his first fight with a factory foreman and experiencing together a dawning epiphany that the world could belong to ordinary people if we were willing to fight for it.
The reader is swept along as more and more people demand the ‘everything’ of the title. In this new world, there is nothing for the bosses.
A preface by the author warns against understanding these events as historical curiosities. With the ongoing crisis in Europe, the fight that kicked off in Italy’s hot autumn is by no means concluded.
As one analyst pointed out recently: young people today will grow up to be barristers or baristas but not much in between. In that context, Balestrini’s explosive novel–manifesto is now more relevant than ever.
By Chris Dite