States of Emergency by Robert Lumley is the definitive account of the militant working class movement in Italy in the 1960s and 70s, which is sometimes known as the "creeping May".
The student protests of 1968, followed by the Hot Autumn factory strikes of 1969, shook the foundations of the Italian Republic. They also prepared the way for a whole decade of intense and widespread social conflict—a decade in which militant social movements arose with new aspirations, centered on protagonists such as women, young people and the unemployed. States of Emergency provides a vivid reconstruction of the events and movements of that period—from the students of 1968 to the Autonomists of 1977.
The book’s title evokes both the emergence of new social subjects and the crises they provoked in the social order. But Lumley also looks at the paradoxes and contradictions of the movements, their creative potential and ultimate failure. The political debates which they initiated soon became part of the agenda of the Left internationally.
Drawing on the work of theorists such as Umberto Eco, Alberto Melucci, Norberto Bobbio and Antonio Negri, States of Emergency is a vital contribution not only to Italy’s social history but to contemporary political discussion.