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(All images 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 Sixties, three major movements, inspired by the principles of nonviolence and ecology, pledged to affirm universal human rights.

1- The "Free Speech Movement", of the University of Berkeley, California, which was characterized by forms of protest, in particular against authoritarianism in the educational system in the United States.
The Free Speech Movement has greatly influenced youth and intellectuals of the United States, consequently those of other developed countries.

2- The "Provobeweging" (Provo Movement), a Dutch movement, which was characterized by provocation as its approach. Provocations reached a peak when smoke bombs were launched during the wedding of Crown Princess Beatrix with Claus von Amsberg, a German who had served in the Hitler Youth.
The Provo Movement exerted a very significant influence on European youth.

3- The "Movimento Mondo Beat", an Italian movement which, being younger than the Free Speech Movement and the Provo Movement, took inspiration from them and, thanks to this, went farther along the common road.
Mondo Beat was characterized by forms of contestazione, that is nonviolent actions aimed at awakening the masses to the affirmation of civil rights and to the protection of the environment. Indeed, the models of protest and provocation had sensitized the categories of youths and intellectuals, the models of contestazione would have sensitized the masses, first in Italy, then in France and worldwide.
Such was the impact of the "Contestazione" in Italy, that the power, for containing the masses, had to resort to the explosion of bombs in banks, on trains, in railway stations, in public squares crowded with people.
The Vatican experienced an irreversible decline due to the "Contestazione", which can be understood if you consider that a female activist entered the Basilica of St. Peter with the sign "The uterus is mine and I manage it myself" (L'utero è mio e lo gestisco io).
Due to the "Contestation", the nuclear polluter, General Charles de Gaulle, had to flee the Élysée Palace and leave France. Having reached a compromise with the Soviets, that is, pulling France out of NATO, he was able to return to power, but in a very precarious situation and for a short time.

Mario Savio     Bernhard de Vries     Melchiorre 'Paolo' Gerbino


To write Mondo Beat's history in English, I need to give some explanations and to formulate some neologisms.
Since the term "hippy" or "hippie" didn't exist at the time of Mondo Beat (it appeared later in the United States) I will use the term "Beat" or "longhair (capellone)" when I refer to a youngster of the Mondo Beat Movement. In fact, the youth of Mondo Beat were called "Beat" or "capelloni" by the people and the media.
As for the term "contestazione", the meaning of it, as "nonviolent anti-Establishment activity", was given by Mondo Beat. Before Mondo Beat, this term in Italian was used only in the act of challenging police injunctions or judicial documents.
The "Contestazione", as nonviolent mass action, has manifested first in Italy, in 1967, then in France, the "Contestation", in 1968. I do not see a better wording of this term in English if not the same as in French, of course adapting the pronunciation.
On the other hand, the term "protest" and its English derivatives cannot be used, referring to the term "contestazione" and its Italian derivatives, since Mondo Beat's most famous slogan was "l'inserito protesta - il Beat contesta" ("the one integrated into the system, protesting - the Beat, contestating") see here and these were not empty words, since Mondo Beat's youths contestated the Establishment by refusing to live in the family, refusing to attend school, refusing to bow to wage labor, while they were very active in their commitment to assert civil rights.
I will reproduce here pictures of two events, to allow the reader to better understand how was the Mondo Beat Movement, both in terms of action in the squares and as commitment to affirm civil rights

Chronologically, the Rally to Contestate the Establishment was the first of its kind in history
Rally to Contestate the Establishment - Milan, March 7, 1967.

Since the Establishment, with futile pretexts, hindered the public distribution of the magazine "Mondo Beat" (which was duly registered in the Chamber of Commerce, in the Order of Journalists of Lombardy, at the Court of Milan) the Mondo Beat Movement promoted a rally that paralyzed the center of Milan during two hours of intense evening traffic.

Chronologically, the Legal Complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters was the first of its kind in history
Legal complaint against the Milan Police Headquarters - Milan, April 3, 1967.

The Mondo Beat Movement lodged a complaint with the Court against the Milan police headquarters, denouncing the persecutory attitude with which the police was acting against the Beats.

Being the editor in charge of the magazine Mondo Beat and the leader of the Mondo Beat Movement in public events, Melchiorre Gerbino could not escape the responsibility of facing the Establishment and he organized and conducted both events.

Returning to the term "contestazione" and its Italian derivatives, all have been introduced in the French and Spanish languages, to say two important languages, but not yet completely in English, where this should be done (the "contestation", to which General Charles de Gaulle was subjected, cannot be called in English "protest", as it is reductive). The linguistic models formulated by Mondo Beat have to be fully introduced in English since they determine mass actions that have become intrinsic and constant in the developments of the Global Village. The formulation of these linguistic models has happened in Mondo Beat not due to intellectual abstractions, but because the youth of Mondo Beat were the first rescuers to rush to save Florence after the November 1966 flood. Following their example, young people from different European countries, as well as Americans and Australians visiting Europe, rushed to Florence to save a heritage of universal value. And it was in the mud of Florence that the Mondo Beat Movement became that "Movement of Citizens of the World" that would formulate the models of the Contestation. Indeed, not a few of those young foreigners who had come to the rescue of Florence, having fraternized with the youth of Mondo Beat, would have come to Milan and would have participated in the history of the Movement, giving it intellectual contribution.

The youths of Mondo Beat were the first to rush to save Florence after the flood of November 1966, followed by other Italian youths and youths from different countries
Foreigner youths along with the Italian Beats in rescuing Florence

In the last line of the headlines of two articles reproduced above, it is described how young Italians and foreigners made together human chains to extract precious works from the mud, 200 of them volunteering in the National Library in Florence.

Journalist Guido Boursier, Gazzetta del Popolo, Turin, on the participation of French, German, English youths in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment
French, German and English youths together with the Italian Beats in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment. Milan, March 7, 1967

The journalist Guido Boursier, of the Gazzetta del Popolo of Turin, who followed the event, bears witness to the participation of young French, German and English in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment, Milan, March 7, 1967. They were of those youths who had fraternized with the Italian Beats in Florence, on the occasion of the Flood, and together with them had subsequently arrived in Milan to join the Mondo Beat Movement.

In conclusion, in a sentence I will summarize all the neologisms of which I will use in English for the reconstruction of the history of the Mondo Beat Movement: "Contestation is made by contestators who contestate the Establishment with contestatory attitudes and actions".

History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 1