Perhaps the most innovative aspect of the Italian “1977 Movement” in its conflict with the grey, humourless political system was its use of irony to ridicule its opponents. Irony was central to the identity of the movement and its cultural and political break with the institutional old and vanguardist new lefts. Its use, particularly by the “Metropolitan Indians”, the transversalists and other “creatives”, marked a social revolt by mainly marginalized young people, who invented a new political counter-culture based on linguistic experimentation in circumstances far from the optimism of 1968. The paper, based directly on primary sources from the movement and on interviews with former participants, reassesses a movement usually characterized as “violent” by Italianist social history. It concludes that the movement's “ironic praxis” contributed to a fundamental change in Italian society in the late seventies and has influenced the political style of contemporary alter-globalist and anti-capitalist movements.
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