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(All pictures published in this edition are classified, as they come from news agencies, newspapers, magazines)

Introduction to the history of the Mondo Beat Movement

In the 1960s, youth movements arose which did not seek political power, but criticized the politics of the major nations of the world, as humanity had entered the Nuclear Age and politics had to adapt to this reality. In the West, ordinary people understood the messages of these movements and political ideologies began to decline, since it would no longer be a question of whether or not to replace the system of Western democracies with that of communist or fascist dictatorships, but how to improve our own system, that is, how to assert civil rights, protect the environment... and how to prepare ourselves not for wars but for integration of the different civilizations of the planet.
The movements which opened these new scenarios were:

Free Speech Movement

This US movement was characterized by the "protest" against authoritarianism in the educational system, racism towards African Americans, the Vietnam War. It has influenced the youth of the United States and the advanced countries of the West.

Mario Savio, the most original and effective intellectual of the 1960s
Mario Savio - Free Speech Movement.
Mario Savio was the most original and effective intellectual of the 1960s. At the University of California he promoted the student revolt from which the Free Speech Movement was born.
To say of one of his original considerations, he said it is much easier to be aware of the oppression that others are experiencing and to react with verbal anger than to be aware of the oppression to which we ourselves are subjected and to rebel against it.

Provo Beweging (Provo Movement)

A Dutch movement which was characterized by forms of "provocation". Provocations reached a pick on the day Crown Princess Beatrix Orange-Nassau married Claus von Amsberg, a German who had served in the Hitler Youth.

Bernhard de Vries was the most charismatic character in the Provo Movement
Bernhard de Vries - Provo Movement.
Bernhard de Vries was the most charismatic character in the Provo Movement. He was the first to throw a smoke bomb between the legs of the horses during the wedding procession of Crown Princess Beatrix, who had to take refuge in the lobby of a hotel with her husband, who had to take refuge in a hotel lobby with her husband, due to many more smoke bombs thrown by the Provos. As unpleasant as this action may seem today, one must understand the resentment that still existed in the Netherlands due to the Nazi occupation during World War II.
But the action of the Provos was not limited to this episode, since they highlighted the themes of pacifism and ecology and strongly motivated European youth.

Movimento Mondo Beat (Mondo Beat Movement)

The Mondo Beat Movement was characterized by forms of "contestazione", that is, nonviolent mass actions to assert civil rights and protect the environment.
The American Free Speech Movement and the Dutch Provo Beweging had sensitized young people and intellectuals but had not been able to sensitize the masses. Since history has some sort of recurrence, an Italian movement was destined to do so. And in fact the Mondo Beat Movement was born in Milan in the same places where Fascism had first originated, and Mondo Beat's model, that is, the "contestazione", would become the antidote to Fascism and all kinds of dictatorial and racist power.
The impact of the Contestazione in Italy was such that, to contain the masses, the Establishment had to resort to the explosion of bombs in banks, railway stations, squares crowded with people.
The Vatican would experience an irreversible decline in its power due to the Contestazione, which can be understood considering that a female activist entered Saint Peter's Basilica with a sign "The womb is mine and I manage it" ("L'utero è mio e lo gestisco io").
As it spread from Italy to France, the nuclear polluter, General Charles de Gaulle, was overwhelmed by the "Contestation" and had to flee the Élysée Palace.
After France, the Contestation has manifested in many parts of the world, most recently in Islamic societies, and currently where people publicly oppose their governments for the restrictions of civil rights implemented under the pretext of an epidemic of Covid-19 or for any other specious reason.
Evidently, the Contestation has become a new constant in history, since the readiness of ordinary people to mobilize for the affirmation of their rights now conditions established power everywhere.

The founders of the Mondo Beat Movement and 'Mondo Beat' magazine
The founders of Mondo Beat. Umberto Tiboni, Gunilla Unger, Melchiorre Gerbino, Vittorio Di Russo.


I will now produce some documentation to make the reader understand how the Mondo Beat Movement behaved in the squares and in the courts.

As the Establishment hindered the distribution of Mondo Beat magazine, a duly registered magazine, 200 youths of the Mondo Beat Movement paralyzed the center of Milan during the two busiest hours of evening traffic in a working day. Such an event was unprecedented in the history of Italy.

Such an event, as the Demonstration to Contestate the Establishment, was unprecedented in the history of Italy
Demonstration to Contestate the Establishment - Milan, March 7, 1967.


In order to assert civil rights, Mondo Beat appealed to the Court against the Milan Police Headquarters, denouncing the unconstitutional behavior with which the police acted towards the Beats. Given the large media coverage of the event, ordinary people would have understood, for the first time and throughout Italy, that even the police were subjected to the law.

Mondo Beat's complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters was the first of this kind in history.
Mondo Beat's complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters - April 3, 1967.


As for the commitment to the environment, the young people of the Mondo Beat Movement were the first to rush to Florence after the flood of November 1966, to rescue a heritage of universal value. Due to their generous commitment, they were baptized Mud Angels (Angeli del fango) by the media. Following their example, other young people, from Italy and other countries, would have flocked to Florence by the hundreds.

They descend in the darkness of the mud for love of books and Florence
200 volunteers at the National Library.
Our young and young foreigners form human chains to extract precious works from the mud. 200 volunteers at the National Library.

As they have fraternized with the Beats in Florence, many young foreigners later moved from Florence to Milan to participate in the Mondo Beat Movement and their participation was of great significance for the contribution they gave to conceiving the models of the Contestation and testing them in the field.
It is attested in an article by Guido Boursier, from the Gazzetta del Popolo of Turin, how French, German and English youths have participated in the Demonstration to Contestate the Establishment. Guido Boursier had interviewed many youths before the demonstration, then had followed it.

Guido Boursier had interviewed many youths before the demonstration and then had followed it.
Milan is the reference city of the Italian «Beats».

Guido Boursier: "The local ones have been joined by Beats arrived in Milan from all over Italy - Romans, Bologneses, Turineses, Southerners, Sardinians - and also Frenchmen, Germans, Englishmen."
Here is the original article by Guido Boursier.


To conclude with this introduction, I want to say briefly about the formulation of the linguistic models of the Contestazione.
At the end of February 1967, the Milan Police Headquarters decimated the Mondo Beat Movement by ordering young people who did not have a legal residence in Milan to leave the city and imprisoning those of them who did not obey the order. In the document of the injunction, it was written in large capital letters SI CONTESTA (It is notified) followed by the terms of the order.
As this SI CONTESTA has obsessed us, at one point it was spontaneous for Melchiorre Gerbino to paraphrase it and to the old lady with the doggie, who asked him "Why are you protesting?", Gerbino replied "No, madam, we do not protest, we contestate".
Hence the slogan "l'inserito protesta - il beat contesta" (the one integrated into the system is protesting - the Beat contestates) and this slogan was successful because people realized that we were acting more radically than protesting and from this slogan the terminology of the Contestazione developed.
It is therefore impossible to use the term "protest" when translating the term "contestazione" from Italian into English. Nor would it be appropriate to use the term "protest" to describe what happened to General Charles de Gaulle, as it would evoke a reductive image of what actually occurred.
So allow me to suggest how the term "contestazione" and its derivatives should be introduced into English, as I am the one who has formulated them in Italian.
I will summarize in one sentence all the neologisms which I will use in English in the current reconstruction of the history of the Mondo Beat Movement:
"The Contestation is made by contestators who contestate the Establishment with contestatory attitudes and actions."

Due to a paradox, Grand Hotel magazine was the first publication to quote the term "contestazione".
What a paradox?
Since Mondo Beat never asked for money to grant an interview and granted it to any publication who was asking for, Melchiorre Gerbino accorded the interview to Grand Hotel on condition that the text which Grand Hotel would have published was previously agreed with Mondo Beat. This, because Grand Hotel was a magazine which published the most sentimental love stories (...then Rossana met a young doctor who had lost his wife in a car accident...) and Melchiorre Gerbino feared that Grand Hotel would depict the Beats in romantic moonlight scenes.
Thus, paradoxically, Grand Hotel, the magazine of love sighs, would have been the first publication to announce one of the most radical events, the Contestation.

This article appeared on May 6, 1967 (1)    This article appeared on May 6, 1967 (2)
Grand Hotel magazine was the first publication to quote the term "contestazione" as formulated at Mondo Beat.

Here is the question which Dina Vallino, the Grand Hotel journalist who interviewed Melchiorre Gerbino, asked him: "What is the purpose of your protest?" (Cosa vi proponete di ottenere con la vostra protesta?)
Here is Melchiorre Gerbino's answer: "More than a protest, our is the contestation of a system of life... (Più che una protesta, la nostra è una contestazione di un sistema di vita...).
This was the first time that the term "contestazione" appeared in a publication. Wherever the terms "contestazione", "contestation", "contestación"... have appeared in publications, the date will be later than May 6, 1967.
The terminology of the Contestation, which in May 67 had already started to spread in the Italian language, a year later, in May 68, would have spread in French and thereafter in other languages... And, alongside with the terminology, also the ideology and methodology of the Contestation would have spread throughout the world

Other neologisms formulated in Mondo Beat were "strumentalizzare" ("to instrumentalize") and "strumentalizzazione" ("instrumentalization")

Mondo Beat NumeroUnico, page 2
Mondo Beat Numero Unico, page 2

In the editorial of the first issue of Mondo Beat magazine, Melchiorre Gerbino introduced the neologism "strumentizzare", which soon after he would have turned into "strumentalizzare".
The neologisms "strumentalizzare" and "strumentalizzazione", first spread in Italian, later in French, Spanish, English... great having been the impact of the Contestation in Western culture.

Additional note.
Since the terms "hippy" and "hippie" didn't exist at the time of Mondo Beat (they appeared in the United States later), these terms can't be used to define a youngster from the Mondo Beat Movement. The youngster from the Mondo Beat Movement was called "beat" or "capellone" (longhair) by the people and the media, so let's keep using these terms.

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 1