1968-1970 were years of global revolt, when the social order was in crisis and everything seemed possible in countries all over the world. But it was in their aftermath that the ideas born of this uprising were fully explored and given expression. The Subversion of Politics chronicles the attempts of European autonomist movements to live out a revolution of everyday life in the ‘70s and ‘80s.
This follow-up to George Katsiaficas’s brilliant global analysis of 1968, The Imagination of the New Left, tells the story of the dreamers and squatters from Germany and Italy to Denmark who forged a “politics of the first person.” Central to this were people democratically and collectively making the decisions that affected their lives. While they never ignited a mass movement, they carved out autonomous zones that prefigured a qualitatively different mode of life and served as base areas for attacks on the social structure. Over time, the autonomists shrank in number and became mere lifestyle radicals, no longer aiming to transform the world but only themselves. Nonetheless, The Subversion of Politics is an inspiring account of the construction of a political practice that not only promised liberation after the revolution but also attempted to deliver upon liberation in the present tense – and to a large extent succeeded.