The relationship between Antonio Gramsci and operaismo, if occasionally mentioned, is rarely explicated. And if translations of Tronti’s 1960s writings have appeared in fragments, his prior formation has remained almost entirely obscured. These texts provide the reader with not only some of the ideas percolating in the mind of the young Tronti, but also a window into the prehistory of workerism: the tumultuous debates within the Italian left of the 1950s over the meanings of Marxism.
Certainly we must assert the novelty, the originality, the autonomy of Marxism. But the novelty of Marxism against any other philosophy consists not in asking more of it as a philosophy; its originality consists in its offer of science to philosophy, or rather in its conceiving the proper philosophy only as science, as a “specific conception of a specific object.”
One absolutely cannot accept that there exists a researcher who offers material to the theorist, and then there is a theorist who re-elaborates it and produces theory. Rather, there is a continuous unity realized already within Marxism, and it lives precisely in the person of the Marxist.
Ultimately the young Tronti determines that what is needed now is a Marxism as far from philosophy of praxis as from dialectical materialism, neither a subjectivist voluntarism nor an objectivist fatalism, neither a purely technical methodology of knowledge and human action nor a totalizing metaphysic, but a Marxism that is rigorous but not dogmatic, historical yet not historicist, political as well as theoretical.
First one has all of Marx revolve around Hegel, then one removes Hegel from the center and says: see, Marx fails to rotate on his own. This is how the interpretation of a theory coincides with its liquidation. In fact precisely this misunderstanding has driven Marx’s thought to the margins of contemporary philosophical thought.