Italy: disbanded party, Antoine Schwartz (Le Monde Diplomatique)

Long history: 1959 January 2021 Exhibition of membership cards on PCI’s 100th anniversary

Laura Reza Getty

H.Oh Can you explain the disappearance of the most powerful Communist Party in the West on a sunny day in February 1991? , at its last convention, renounced its name, and therefore its identity and history, and voluntarily dissolved.

To understand the gravity of this event, it is necessary to go back to the immediate aftermath of World War II. As historian Perry Anderson observes, the Italian Left “was once the largest and most impressive mass movement for social change in Western Europe.” (1)In Liberation, Palmiro Togliatti, who had returned to leadership of the party, advocated national unity to achieve a new type of democracy that would allow the working class to participate in politics and achieve economic and social progress. and abandoned all revolutionary aspirations in favor of the project. The PCI was so well ingrained in the working class at the time (“one section of him per church tower”) and had such great intellectual and cultural influence that it became a model for the “mass party”. was regarded.

Historian Eric Hobsbawm points out that since the Cold War began, it has been clear that the United States “will not, under any circumstances, allow communists to come to power in Italy.” (2)The party was the country’s second-largest electoral force, but was barred from the government in a system dominated by Christian democracy. Christian Democracy controlled every branch of the state through nepotism and almost mafia-like control.

Beginning in the late 1960s, protest movements rocked Italy, became endemic, and affected society as a whole. What set the Italian experience apart was its intensity and duration. The decade was marked by strikes, occupation and conflict with the authorities. These movements exceeded the control of unions and the PCI as new organizations such as Lotta Continua (Continued Struggle) and Potele Operio (Workers’ Power) carried out vandalism under the banner of a red flag. While some of the radical left engaged in armed struggle, the country deployed exceptional repressive violence to curb overthrow.

“Tension Tactics”

At the time, it was the terrorist activities of far-left groups such as the Red Brigades that received the most attention, but most of the violence was the work of right-wing extremist groups, sometimes with dubious links to the corridors of power. This “strategy of tension” threatened to plunge the state into authoritarianism — when a bomb exploded at Bologna train station in 1980, it had been 11 years since the previous bomb in Milan’s Piazza Fontana. reminded me of 1969 protest.

What Italy needs is a state with less administration, yet able to deliver projects and define rules for multiple subjects, both public and private.

Achilles Oquette

After the 1973 coup in Chile, PCI General Secretary Enrico Berlinguer proposed a new route. It is a “historic compromise” with the enemy Christian democracy in order to preserve the democratic system and achieve social reform. By now, anti-communism had permeated political life, and the tide of insurrection was only partially beneficial to the PCI. 34.37%), the highest score ever. But its dominance over the Italian left was fragile and contested. It was criticized for being bureaucratic and obstructing rather than encouraging dissent.

When Europe was hit by an economic crisis, Italy (like the rest of the world) turned conservative. A massive strike at the Fiat factory in the fall of 1980 lasted his 35 days, but was unsuccessful. With the introduction of the European monetary system, a new orthodoxy has redefined the framework of the economic policy debate. Labor leaders found themselves embroiled in a “fight against inflation” and wage demands curtailed as unemployment rose. (3).

In 1984, Socialist Prime Minister Bettino Craczy stopped indexing wages to inflation. The PCI called for a referendum the following year, but was heavily defeated. In 1984 came a tipping point, or high water mark in retrospect. A large crowd paid their respects, as symbolized by Berlinger’s funeral images.

A vision of a party for everyone

Times are changing, and quietly so are the parties. Within the device, there was an update of the executive. The wartime partisan generation was fading, and with it the collective memory of the party. New people with fewer people were in leadership roles. The vision was to develop a party for everyone that could speak to every class.

It was also a time when the rise of television and the mass media broke the relationship with politics and culture that the party had conscientiously protected. Needless to say, the Einaudi publishing house, which published Gramsci and many other greats, became part of the media empire of businessman Silvio Berlusconi, founder of Italy’s first private television channel, Canale 5. rice field.

By the late 1980s, full-time employees felt that PCI was on the decline. It was reinforced by the fall of the communist bloc and the ensuing disillusionment. The 1987 parliamentary elections were a shock to PCI, but he still won 26.5% of the vote. But party stocks fell, and the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) was on the rise. In this situation, an update became necessary. At the forefront was Achille Ochet, 52, a party insider who became party secretary in 1988 and mastermind the modernization strategy.

Occhetto’s ideas unmistakably embraced the new liberal zeitgeist. “We are his 1989 sons,” he said on the 200th anniversary of the French Revolution. He does not mean the ugly descendants of the revolutionaries of 1793, but instead of a vision based on social conflict, he praises the progressively achieved kind of democratic progress without plaguing the power elite. He favored a gentle approach.

the future was blue

A fresh start was needed, so he abandoned the old, outdated Marxism. Political reform was key, and Otchett wanted his party to join the Socialist International. The future was not red, but blue for the “United States of Europe,” as Jacques Delor called “Europe’s road to socialism.” Being “modern” also meant rethinking the role of the state. and private (Four).

For reformers, planned “turns” (Suvolta. Amidst the changes underway, references to the communist past struck a cacophony, as the bourgeois press was quick to point out. It was the crisis-ridden Soviet regime that accelerated the reformists’ actions and enabled them to lead the party down the irreversible path: dissolution.

A fresh start was needed, so Otchett abandoned the old, outdated Marxism. Political reform was important.The future was not red, but blue for the ‘United States of Europe’, as Jacques Delor called ‘Europe’s road to socialism’

So, in the fall of 1989, without much internal discussion, Occhetto proposed renaming PCI. The party raised its voice in protest, but the leadership remained firm. A heated debate began at all levels.Nanni Moretti’s documentary and other footage La Cosa (1990) shows how heated these debates have become. Was the word communism a burden or a proud legacy? Didn’t changing the name mean abandoning the party’s identity and history? was. For communism represented their whole identity.

In March 1990, at the Bologna conference, PCI leaders persuaded the majority of delegates to vote for the new organization.Historian Guido Liguori has shown (Five) The importance of orthodoxy to the normal functioning of the party – the tendency to maintain unity by rejecting divisions, the trust placed in the leadership.

Liguori wrote: “The tendency to conform was ‘a crucial reason for the success of the reformists, and thousands of activists deserted in silence and went home without a fight.’ The Democratic Party (Partito Demonco della Sinistra, PDS) was founded, and although a minority decided to split to form the Communist Reconstruction Party (Partito della Rifondazione Comunista, PRC), its numbers remained relatively small. rice field.

The working class is the big loser

The working class was the big loser in this whole story. The PDS eventually managed to come to power through a center-left coalition in the governments of Romano Prodi (1996-98) and Massimo D’Alema (1998-2000), but the price they paid was It was to give up the reason for existence. .

With the demise of PCI, Italy’s left-wing resistance collapsed, leaving it helpless against a new offensive from the right led by Silvio Berlusconi, who founded Forza Italia in 1994. It is noteworthy that analysts who attempt to explain why large segments of the working class in advanced capitalist countries align themselves with conservative ideologies have found that the politics regularly conducted by social-democratic leaders We should not have emphasized our contribution to demobilization any further. They said, and because of what they did.” (6).

Beyond political parties and symbols, this renunciation has allowed politics, trade unions, and entire intellectual movements to develop their own worldviews, spread cultural preferences in society, and defend aspirations for the better. weakened the entire militant ecosystem. world. Italy: disbanded party, Antoine Schwartz (Le Monde Diplomatique)

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