Primo Moroni and the Calusca bookshop

Primo Moroni was born in Milan on the 17th of June 1936, in a family of peasant emigrants from Tuscany. He attended school until the seventh grade and then, after a year of vocational training, started working. He was self-taught, fed by "a violent and endless desire to know", similar to that of other great Italian intellectuals of that time, such as Giorgio Cesarano and Danilo Montaldi.
After holding various jobs, in 1967, he opens the "Si o si Club" ("Yes or yes Club"), an innovative cultural circle, in an eighteenth-century mantion in the center of Milan. At the beginning of 1971 he was one of the promoters of the "Collettivo di lavoro Antonio Gramsci" ("Collective Antonio Gramsci") which aimed to promote basic editorial activities, also through the distribution of the monographic encyclopedia "Io e gli altri" ("Me and the others"), edited by Angelo Ghiron, antifascist partisan from Genoa. This encyclopedia was intended for teachers that were looking for alternatives to traditional textbooks.

In the winter of 1971-72 he opened Calusca Bookshop (in vicolo Calusca 2, Milan). Completely autonomous, this bookshop aimed to deal with the spontaneous, underground and antagonistic realities that flourished in those years in Milan and throughout Italy. This makes it "a landmark of the unorganized and indefinable area which ranged from bordiguists to proto-situationists, to the board, the internationalists, the anarchists, the anarcho-communists, and the libertarian communists" (but the presence of Marxist-Leninists and the left-wing of trade unions is conspicuous). He also had a very close relationship with the alternative nursery that the psychoanalyst Elvio Fachinelli kept alive in the Ticinese neighborhood; in addition, through the group "Bambini mani in alto!" ("Hands up children!") they worked towards an anti-authoritarian education in nursery schools.

Calusca was also home for various committees, including one which supported Portugal's antifascist struggles (1972) and another one in solidarity with Salvador Puig Antich, young militant from the Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación (MIL), garroted by Franco's regime in March 1974. Within these activities, as well as the Comitato Vietnam ("Vietnam Committee") and the Soccorso Rosso ("Red Relief"), there was a close relationship with Sergio Spazzali, "The Wretched of the Earth's" brother (as the same Primo described him in an obituary after his death in January 1994).

During the Seventies he took part in many projects promoting militant and critical publishing: "L'Arcibraccio" (satirical magazine directed by Luca Staletti), "Primo Maggio" (review directed by Sergio Bologna and produced by the editorial collective Calusca) "CONTROinformazione" ("COUNTERinformation") and "Documento" ("Document", a collection of lecture notes on the teaching of history), «Solidarietà militante» ("Militant Solidarity", a bulletin by the Committee for the defense of political prisoners in Europe), "150 ore" (series of monographies for worker-students promoted by the Research Centre on modes of production and coedited by the editorial collective Calusca together with CELUC), Machina Libri (publisher run by Giuliano Spazzali, political lawyer), AR&A (a consortium of various editorial collectives like Cooperativa Scrittori, Edizioni aut aut, Edizioni delle Donne, Lavoro Liberato, L'Erba Voglio, Libri del NO, Librirossi, Squi/libri). Notable is also his contribution to the production of militant leaflets, pamphlets and self-made mimeograph prints.

Centro di Documentazione Scuola (Center of School's Documentation) - a structure born in January 1976 gathering more than two thousand teachers, whose aim was to "spread the most significant experiences of alternative teaching" - also gravitated towards Calusca.

In 1978 Calusca moved to Corso Di Porta Ticinese 48. The huge number of arrests which took place on 7th April 1979 (a great repressive action against Worker's Autonomy) opened a season of massive detentions ("forty thousand criminal denunciations, fifteen thousand arrests, six thousand condemnations of militant activists, and nearly always without any guaranteed right to defense"): Primo collaborated with the magazine "7 aprile" ("April the 7th"). He also contributed to the organization of a great national meeting against the repression that took place in Palazzina Liberty in Milan the days 30-31 May 1981, and he also participated in the Coordinamento dei Comitati Contro la Repressione, a coordinative network against repression, born from that meeting. In the winter of 1984 Primo gave "Punks and similar creatures" a free space within the Calusca in which they could spread their DIY products. In the summer of 1986 Calusca closed down as a natural consequence of the demise of editorial productions on the subject of the "season of movements" because of its severe economic problems, and due to the repression: most of his attendants had been arrested. In 1987, with Primo's help, the "Decoder" magazine was born. He started writing "L'Orda d'Oro. 1968-1977. La grande ondata rivoluzionaria e creativa, politica ed esistenziale (1988, second. ed. 1997)". In February, he moved the bookshop and his personal archives into the C.S.O.A. (Squatted and Self Managed Social Center) of via Conchetta 18 (re-squatted in september 1989, after the previous January's eviction) and he renamed it "Calusca City Lights" after the poet-librarian-editor Lawrence Ferlinghetti (who received the bookshop first membership card). From this poin onwards, began his close relationship with the Cox18's militant squatters. On various occasions Primo would be called to speak about the social movements of the Sixties and Seventies, and about Gladio (Stay Behind), heroin, cyberpunk, racist organizations and the no-profit economy. In November 1995, he participated in the setting up of the «L.U.M.Hi. - Libera Università di Milano e del suo Hinterland Franco Fortini» ("Free University of Milan and its hinterland", in memory of the Marxist poet and thinker Franco Fortini). Primo Moroni died on 30th March, 1998.


The many people that knew Primo Moroni would be able to tell us that this "weird book-seller" was always ready to dialogue with the Calusca-goers - those who went there to look for books and magazines, to bring their publications, to discuss and "to be informed". In a flow of narration, searching among the bulk of materials behind the desk (apparently a chaos but in his mind's reality a well-shaped map), Primo would pick up a booklet, a flyer, or the "right" book, to support his argument or discussion.

In that "mind-map" we can also find the large amount of materials collected by Primo during his thirty-year-long activities as a book-seller and cultural animator. It documented a significant part of the cultures involved in the revolutionary movements and those experiences that corroded the conservative, monocentric and patriarchal value systems of the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and until the present day - both in Italy and abroad.

What remains today, after much wandering and many troubles (among them, the massive confiscations executed by the repressive structures of the Italian state), reveals the extraordinary global vision of those years, and offers a detailed view of the nature of unknown-for-the-most collectives or forgotten experiences. This material consists of several thousand books and reviews, documents, booklets, "self- printed" zines, texts and audiovisual materials produced by the widely diverse publications of the "free press" and "no copyright" productions,

On the other hand, the Calusca bookshop, founded by Moroni in the winter of 1971- 72, has been a crossroads for endless paths of theoretical elaboration, counter- information, counter-cultures, non-embedded social practices. Once arrived in Cox18, Primo's bookshop continued to function as a link between galaxies, trajectories and different ways of being. It was a shared space, which broke the traditional dimension of the "bookshop" and the "cultural market" in a radical way. Primo himself would have liked to have it become a working archive, and also projected an on-line library networked with others.

After Primo's death, a group of his friends and comrades gathered to make the project continue. In February 2002, the cultural association "Archivio Primo Moroni" was born.


Books (around 15.000 books and booklets). Particularly about socio-economic, historical, political-philosophic themes, linked to the conflicts in contemporary societies, with specific attention paid to different publications: the Movement of the Sixties and Seventies (most of which have disappeared today), the production of the "mainstream editors" under the pressure of re-emerging "social questions", and the independent productions of the Eighties and Nineties.

The Primo Moroni Archive received new collections of printed materials from three departed friends' libraries: Nuccio Cannizzaro's, Sergio Spazzali's and Carlo Cuomo's. Today, the Primo Moroni Archive is getting bigger and bigger thanks to books, reviews and documents donated by friends and comrades.

Reviews (around 1.500 publications). Mostly political and cultural; from the fields of the social sciences, visual arts and counter-cultures; publications by collectives and grass roots groups. Particularly interesting are the '77 papers, the underground; voices from the gay liberation movement and those of the feminist movement, the punk and the cyberpunk movements, from the first fanzines to the most recent expressions; publications by foreign groups. All this was the fruit of an international circuit of which Calusca was part of.
Documents 1) printed documents - such as leaflets, committee reports, papers and materials from congresses and reviews, produced by collectives of diverse nature in the context of political campaigns (jail, repression and armed struggle); 2) preparatory materials of editions in-the-making, handwritten or typewritten texts, first editions, collections of letters, notes and annotations; 3) archive reviews (i.e.: the "CONTROinformazione" review) and archives of socio-cultural and aggregative situations (like the Correggio 18 squat and the "Virus", model for a series of other punk squats all over Italy) ; 4) documents relating Calusca's managerial experiences, such as minutes, contracts, editorial and distribution projects, invoices, balances and similar letters.
Primo Moroni's texts (around 150 titles) - both published and unpublished, in Italian and other languages.
Posters, pictures and graphic materials - related to the activity of political collectives, demonstrations, cultural events, groups of expression and figurative research.
Cox18's audio and visual archive (around 4,000 hours of audio and video recordings). Contains filmings of cultural events (gigs, readings, theatrical shows, conferences, debates, presentations, etc.) and the most significant moments of the 30- year-long activities of C.S.O.A. Cox18. Digital infrastructure
APM website is hosted by the Autistici/Inventati's server, lead by an internet collective. Its aim is to "socialize knowledge without establishing power"(1).
The contents of APM archive resides in an OPAC server built and maintained with friendly relations. Books and magazines are being classified according to the categories described on the link: step=classificazione.

APM hasn't (and never has) received any kind of financial support from other public or private institutions.


Beyond its main activities - that consist in classifying and keeping the materials available - APM wants to propose an actual and living use of them. Here follow the specific descriptions of four current projects:

a poetry festival by Archivio Primo Moroni & Calusca City Lights bookshop Scali di Parole means something like "Word Docking". Scali di Parole is a poetry festival thought up during an APM book cataloguing session. Among the thousands of books, there is a big section dedicated to poetry, one of Primo's favourite interests.
Scali di Parole tries to transport poetry and its message of emancipation and liberation outside the commercial and institutional circuits (galleries, museums...) and to place it in a DIY context.
Primo Moroni had a lot of contacts with different poets and authors and he called his bookstore "Calusca City Lights" as a tribute to "City Lights Bookstore" in San Francisco, founded by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Guest artists in the 2010-2011 edition: TOM RAWORH, RITA DEGLI ESPOSTI, JOHN GIAN, GERALDINA COLOTTI, NANNI BALESTRINI, JOELLE LEANDRE, GIADA BALESTRINI, GIANNI TOTI (video), JOHN GIORNO, ANNE WALDMAN, AMBROSE BYE.

April 1995, Lawrence Ferlinghetti - visits the bookstore Calusca City Lights
(Centri sociali. Geografie del desiderio: dati, statistiche, mappe, progetti e divenire - ShaKe ed. 1996)

Education and School:
During the Seventies Italy was swept by a huge movement of workers, teachers and students that aimed to build an anti-classist school. The sum of these experiences has become, thanks to a rich context of exchange and debate, what is today considered worldwide to be a valid pedagogic model.
The struggles against a class-oriented and authoritarian educational system of the early sixties gave birth to an educational model able to embrace differences and be receptive to social needs. For example, many adult workers could start studying again, and in 1975 people with all kinds of physical and psychological handicap were able to attend everyday state schools, thus escaping from the "ghetto" of Scuole differenziali ("special schools").
These experiences are evidenced in a particular section of the archive(2). For example, this section was used by Maria Luisa Tornesello to undertake significant research for "Il sogno di una scuola, lotte ed esperienze didattiche negli anni settanta: controscuola, tempo pieno, 150 ore" ("Dreaming a school: struggles and didactic experiences in the Seventies") (2006, Ed. Petite Plaisance).
The APM Website has a whole section dedicated to the child-publishing of these years(3).
Nowadays, when a selective and meritocratic school is promoted by the Italian government, APM with some citizen committees take the occasion to discuss the heritage of the didactic experiences of the past(4).
Furthermore, in the last two years, APM together with the neighborhood schools committees, has been working on the "Free Festival delle bambine e dei bambini, scuola bene comune" ("Free Festival for children: school as a common good"). An occasion to discuss and practice the meaning of present and future education(5). This project is also being organized in Rome.

Since 2004 the APM website has included a section dedicated to the Abolitionist movement. This section offers a rich collection of digitalized texts that make up an Abolitionist Library(6) APM has organized many public debates, book presentations and screenings on the subject of prisons and prisoners.

Law: a series of debates:
In theme with the abolitionist question, APM is now running a series of debates on "Law and Order" : "Le lunghe ombre del diritto"(7) ("The Long Shadows of the Law") deals with the deep meaning behind the concept of law in relation to images of power. The debate started with a renewed italian translation of W. Benjamin's "Zur Kritik der Gewalt" ("The Critique of Violence") and is now addressing urban and international scenarios in which the "Rule of Law" justifies and explains oppression.

2. P6.12 (12. Scuola)
    P6.12.01/001-999 (Riflessioni generali sul movimento)
    P6.12.02 (Didattica)
    P6.12.02.01 (Teoria)
    P6. (Generali)
    P6. (La selezione)
    P6. (Controcorsi, scuole popolari, doposcuola, tempo pieno)
    P6. (Le 150 ore)
    P6.12.02.02 (Esperienze)
    P6. (Varie)
    P6. (Lavori dei ragazzi)
    P6. (L'animazione teatrale)
    P6. (Le 150 ore)
    P6.12.02.03/001-999 (Materiali)
    P6.12.03 (L'organizzazione scolastica)
    P6.12.03.01/001-999 (Storia della scuola e organizzazione scolastica)
    P6.12.03.02/001-999 (Insegnanti)
    P6.12.03.03/001-999 (Scuola e società: rapporti col territorio)
    P6.12.04 (Scienze umane e scuola) P6.12.04.01 (Linguistica)
    P6.12.04.02 (Pedagogia)