A political current which first emerged in Italy (autonomia) and Germany (autonomen) in the 1960s and 1970s. It is a radicalised version of Marxism in which class struggle rather than structure is placed at the centre of analysis and in which the proletariat is conceived as the driving force in history. Politically, autonomists insist on the importance of class autonomy and of strategies of resistance which undermine the existing incorporation of the working class and which force the emergence of new configurations of forces.
Associated especially with the work of the Italian philosopher Antonio Negri, whose texts, prior to his recent co-authored book Empire, were major expositions of the autonomist perspective.
Although analytically attached to a strongly worker-centric version of Marxism, autonomists were active in favouring the development of diverse subcultural spaces, including squatted social centres, "autoreduction" of train and bus fares (political fare-dodging), subvertising, pirate radio (e.g. radio alice) and the political demands of the emarginati (the "marginalised" or socially excluded) and "precari" (precariously positioned workers).
The main representative of this tendency in Britain today is the journal Aufheben. Autonomist tendencies also exist in most other countries.
Readers should note that autonomism is NOT the same thing as autonomous anarchism.
Negri, Tronti and Panzieri are among the leading figures of autonomism.
The autonomist movement bore the brunt of a vicious state crackdown in Germany and Italy, due to largely unfounded conflation of autonomism with armed opposition groups such as the Red Brigades.
Autonomism is an increasingly important current in intellectual life through authors such as Harry Cleaver, Chris Wright and Steve Thoburn.
The White Overall movement is partly derived from autonomist roots.