Home Page
English      Italiano      Español      Français

(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 "Provo Beweging" (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" (Mondo Beat Movement), an Italian movement which, being a little younger than the Free Speech Movement and the Provo Movement, took inspiration from them at the time of its formation.
Mondo Beat was characterized by forms of contestazione, that is to say nonviolent actions aimed at awakening the masses to the affirmation of civil rights and the protection of the environment.
Such was the impact of the "Contestazione" in Italy, that, to contain the masses, power had to resort to the explosion of bombs in banks, stations, public places crowded with people.
The Vatican experienced 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 the 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 and leave the Country. Having reached a compromise with the Soviets, by withdrawing France from the NATO alliance, he was able to regain power, but precariously and for a short time.

Mario Savio and Bernhard de Vries inspired the Mondo Beat movement at its beginnings. Giuseppe Pinelli provided constant support to the Mondo Beat Movement
Mario Savio, Bernhard de Vries, Giuseppe Pinelli.

Mario Savio and Bernhard de Vries inspired the Mondo Beat Movement in its beginnings; Giuseppe Pinelli, the trustee of the Milanese "Sacco e Vanzetti" anarchist section, gave it constant support.

*

To write the history of Mondo Beat in English, I have to give some explanations and 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 youths of the Mondo Beat Movement were called "Beats" or "capelloni" by the people and the media.

The term "contestazione", used in the meaning of "nonviolent anti-Establishment activity", was formulated by Melchiorre Gerbino at the time of Mondo Beat. Previously, in the Italian language, this term was only used in the act of challenging police injunctions or court documents.
The "Contestazione", intended as nonviolent mass action aimed to affirm civil rights and environmental protection, was conceived and promoted by Mondo Beat and it first manifested in Italy in 1967. In 1968, having spread in France, it was called "Contestation": I do not see a better wording of this term in English if not the same as in French, "Contestation".
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 the images of two events, to allow the reader to understand well how the Mondo Beat Movement was in terms of action in the squares and legal complaints in court, both aimed to assert 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 with the Chamber of Commerce, in the Order of Lombard journalists, at the Court of Milan), the Mondo Beat Movement promoted an event that paralyzed the city center during the two busiest hours of evening traffic. Such an event was unprecedented in the history of Italy.

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

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

Returning to the term "contestazione" and its Italian derivatives, all these terms 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 youths of Mondo Beat were the first rescuers to rush to 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 would become that "Movement of Citizens of the World" that would have formulated the models of the Contestation. Indeed, many of those young foreigners who had come to the rescue of Florence, having fraternized with the youths of Mondo Beat, came to Milan to participate in the Movement.

The youths of the Mondo Beat Movement were the first to rush to rescue Florence after the November 1966 flood
The Mondo Beat youths together with young foreigners rescuing Florence.

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

In the article reproduced below, the journalist Guido Boursier, from the Gazzetta del Popolo in Turin, witnesses the participation of young French, German and English in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment. They were of those youths who had fraternized with the Italian Beats in Florence, on the occasion of the Flood, and along with them had subsequently arrived in Milan to join the Mondo Beat Movement.

Journalist Guido Boursier was present at the Rally to Contestate the Establishment
French, German and English youths together with the Italian Beats in the Rally to Contestate the Establishment (of which a collage of images is reproduced in this chapter).
The original article by Guido Boursier.

*

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


History of Mondo Beat - Chapter 1