By Jeff C Pratt

Political activities the world over have such different features and goals that it truly is tricky to envision them as a collective workforce. routine which are class-based tend to be portrayed as shaped by means of monetary different types of individuals pushed by means of fabric pursuits. in contrast the examine of ethnic or nationalist pursuits has targeting the complexities of identification formation inside culturally outlined groups Read more...

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188. This transformation has had a profound political impact, and Nairn (1997) has explored this in a recent article on nationalism. Though critical of his representation of rurality, I think we are all indebted to him for the brilliant introduction of the symbol of Janus into our thinking about Pratt 01 chaps 18/11/02 17:03 Introduction Page 25 25 nationalism and modernity. There are ‘backward-’ and ‘forward-looking’ aspects to all these movements, in the struggle over autonomy in production as well as in the more familiar evocations of rural idylls.

We have seen that the craft workers provided the core of early political mobilisation in Sesto, and this gives support to the argument that early working-class radicalism owes more to the defensive strategies of those whose lives were doomed by new technology than it does to the oppression of the new masses in the factories. Culhoun (1988), for example, describes a work ethic amongst British craft workers in the nineteenth century very similar to the one outlined for northern Italy, and suggests that they were reactionary radicals, fighting to save an artisan tradition and community life in the face of industrial capitalism; radicalised precisely because no political concessions could save them from their economic fate.

In terms of a working-class narrative they were people with no past. Many political movements developed in these industrial districts. In Sesto, in the long run, a revolutionary Socialist (later Communist) Party came to dominate. In its master narrative, a central historical role was assigned to the proletariat. Out of all the social groups experiencing economic and social dislocation from capitalist growth in contemporary Italy – artisans, domestic workers, peasants, share-croppers – only the proletariat held the key to the future.

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