Italy: The Communists

Christopher Jones wrote: "In the Italian civil war (1943-45), the communists won". Harry Papasotiriou asks: Could he please define what he means by the term "communists"?  The actual Italian communists were excluded from the Italian government during the Cold War.  Does Christopher imply that all non-fascists are "communists"?  

Speaking of the Italian Communists, Christopher Jones says:They may have been excluded from the Christian Democratic (DC) run governments on the national level, but they sure did run the government at the local level:  hasn't Harry Papasotiriou ever seen Don Camilo e Peppone?  Trade Unionism was firmly in the hand of the communists, while the DC was run by the mafia and the church. Fascism was reconstituted as the MSI under the leadership of Giorgio Almirante and later under the current Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini, who changed its name to the Alleanza Nazionale.  He did break with the Mussolinian heritage, however, which enraged the Mussolini family.  RH: I toured Italy and visited the communities run by the Comminists, who were respected by all for their honesty.

Jon Kofas writes: Harry Papasotiriou is right in asking Chris Jones to clarify the term "Communist". It is true, however, that Palmiro Togliatti, co-founder and secretary-general of the Italian Party exiled to Moscow during the Fascist regime, returned to Italy in 1944 and was part of a coalition cabinet. After the war Togliatti embraced the "Popular Front" strategy initiated by Georgi Dimitrov in the 1930s, which meant that he was eager to work within the parliamentary framework toward a democratic regime, and not to pursue revolutionary means to power. Under his leadership, and that of Enrico Berlinguer whom Togliatti recruited, Italy's Communist Party (PCI) was the largest in Europe and was able to play a positive role in forging the modern Italian "social-welfare state", and laid the foundations for EURO-COMMUNISM. It is unfortunate that today's Italy is under the thumb of a multi-billionaire who defies the country's laws, has been accused of multiple corruption scandals, and has repeatedly behaved without respect for his fellow Italians or European politicians.

Christopher Jones writes:  Jon Kofas is mistaken to attribute the Italian social welfare state to the PCI (Communist Party). It simply expanded on the benefits that fascism created, like comprehensive health care.  In this discussion, I always notice a tendency to dismiss fascism as a sort of muscular capitalism.  Mussolini began his political career as a socialist, and edited Avanti. Many consider his "theoretical" government in Saló the purest form of fascism because it was quite anti-capitalist and decreed the confiscation of large land holdings.  The comments of Maurice Bardèche on this subject make for good reading.  In fact,  Bardèche's brother-in-law, Robert Brasillach once said that communists share with fascists a sincere yearning for social justice.

Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: February 28, 2005