A. Bordiga

The 1st of May in Italy

(May 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 43, 30 May 1922, pp. 323–324.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive

In view of the fact that the 1st of May this year fell during the Genoa Conference, the Italian Government sent cut very stringent instructions to the chiefs of police, prohibiting any and all political demonstrations. The Fascisti announced that they looked upon the 1st of May and upon all demonstrations connected with it as an anti-Fascisti provocation; through their meagre organization within the unis they made an attempt to shift the workers’ holiday to the 21st of April, thus turning it into a solemn fiasco. They even announced that they would oppose all proletarian processions.

The organization of worker’s demonstrations was assigned to the local committees of the Alliance of Labor which comprises all the union organizations. To the demonstrations that were organized by these Committees, the Syndicalists, the Communists, the Socialists and the Republicans sent their respective speakers.

On this occasion the Communist Party issued its manifesto, and offered its own organization and all means at its disposal to the allied organizations, in the eventuality that they should decide to demonstrate publicly in spite of the prohibitions and threats of the Government and Fascisti. But this offer was nearly everywhere rejected. In its manifesto the Communist Party analyzed the present political situation and reaffirmed the tactics of the Third International in favor of the united front, as well as its own measures in Italy, with a view of rendering the Alliance of Labor an effective and revolutionary organization. As a voice of protest against the prohibition of the Government, the Milan Committee of Alliance of Labor, whose majority is Socialist, and that of Turin, whose majority is Communist, proposed the calling of a general strike throughout Italy.

The demonstrations assumed an imposing character even when they were supposed to be of an unofficial nature. All workers and peasants remained away from work; even the railwaymen, to whom the government had made some concessions by reducing the number of trains, declared their complete abstinence from work, in spite of the many threats by the Fascisti and the aid of the soldiers and sailors. They paralyzed the entire service in spite of the official lies, a fact testifies to their admirable solidarity. In the great industrial centers as well as in the villages, the proletarian meetings were imposing and roused the greatest enthusiasm. The collisions between the workers and the Fascisti who attacked the workers were numerous. There were many proletarian victims, but the characteristic feature of the day was the rising spirit of combat among the workers, which in turn explains the fact that the Fascisti suffered so large a number of dead and wounded.

The speakers of the Communist Party developed the concrete principles which the party supports in favor of the united front; at the same time they openly criticized the other parties and everywhere met with huge success.

Our Party was chiefly responsible for the efficient propaganda among the masses, as well as for the struggle against the Government and Fascisti reaction.

As a result of the events that took place, the proletarians of many towns and the Communist Trade Union Committees issued the formal proposal that the Alliance of Labor declare a national general strike, but the Central Committees of the organizations whose majority consists of Socialists and Anarchists rejected this motion and contented themselves with issuing a platonic protest.

In reporting the results of the demonstrations, the Communist Press emphasized the success obtained, for it was really a great experience for the united front tactics and it gave the great masses an opportunity to reunite, thereby raising the proletarian morale. On the other hand, it was pointed out that what was lacking was – unity of organization. This shortcoming manifested itself in the organization of the meetings particularly on the point of proletarian defense. However, this opportunity was taken advantage of, and a campaign was launched for the reinforcement of the Alliance of Labor, in its organization as well as in its tactics.

It will be the task of the Italian Communist Party to lend to this great mass movement that rose so spontaneously an effective unity of leadership in the revolutionary sense, always tearing away a part of the masses from the detrimental influence of the opportunistic leaders, who already see themselves defeated on the political field by the Communist tactics. In spite of themselves, they see the near approach of the revolutionary insurrection of the Italian proletariat.

Last updated on 2 December 2020