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Fourth International, June 1944


The Editors

The Month in Review


From Fourth International, vol.5 No.6, June 1944, pp.163-167.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


The Case of the 18 and the Red-Baiting Stalinist Campaign

Growing Support for the Case of the 18

The national campaign directed by the Civil Rights Defense Committee to free the 18 Trotskyists railroaded to prison under the vicious Smith “Gag” Act is becoming more and more recognized within the American labor movement as the foremost labor defense struggle of the Second World War. Warren K. Billings, who was framed up together with Tom Mooney in 1916, has correctly emphasized the fact that the Minneapolis Labor Case is “the same kind of frameup as was perpetuated against Mooney and myself during the First World War.”

The growing realization of the crucial importance of this case is expressed in the rapidly widening support and solidarity among labor and progressive organizations. Already organizations representing well over a million workers and members of Negro, fraternal, civil liberties and other progressive bodies have backed the fight to free the 18 and to wipe out the Smith “Gag” Act. In addition to almost 250 local, district and state trade union organizations, several Internationals of the CIO have officially endorsed the defense campaign: United Transport Service Employees of America; Textile Workers Union; and the United Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Employees. At its June Convention in Boston, the International Ladies Garment Workers Union of the AFL unanimously passed a resolution demanding presidential pardon for the 18.

Support has likewise come from the leading national Negro organizations: the National Association For the Advancement of Colored People and the March-On-Washington movement. The largest labor fraternal bodies, the Workmen’s Circle and the Workmen’s Benefit Fund, have called upon their members to aid the 18.

The series of highly successful meetings held during the national tour of CRDC Secretary George Novack in the principal industrial cities from coast to coast provided another graphic demonstration of the rising tide of labor and liberal support.

Like every great labor defense struggle of the past, the Minneapolis Labor Case has become a touchstone to distinguish the progressive forces in American life from the reactionary and to expose before the very eyes of the workers just who are the servants of the class enemy within its ranks. Leading this treacherous pack are the Stalinists, who have recently capped their strikebreaking activities by a public proclamation of allegiance to Wall Street and its “free enterprise.”

PREVIOUS CONDUCT OF THE STALINISTS Having stabbed the miners in the back, having scabbed on the Montgomery-Ward strikers, the Stalinist finks are now intensifying their activities in the field of labor defense. When Roosevelt and Biddle at Tobin’s behest moved to railroad the Trotskyists to jail in 1941, the sole objection voiced at the time by the Daily Worker was that the Department of Justice did not go far enough in its frameup. The GPU’s hirelings in this country demanded that Roosevelt stage in Minneapolis a replica of Stalin’s own Moscow Trial frameups. Through the subsequent stages of the case leading up to the imprisonment of the 18, the Stalinists in their press participated in the official conspiracy of silence concerning the case while covertly sabotaging efforts to rally forces and resources for the defense fight within the union movement.

Now that the Minneapolis Case has become one of the major issues in labor’s ranks and the most progressive elements are rallying resolutely behind the campaign, the enraged and panic-stricken Stalinists have moved into the open. They are conducting a nation-wide furious and rabid campaign against the Trotskyists, and especially against the 18 class war prisoners and their supporters.

FINK BRIDGES CALLS FOR RED-BAITING CAMPAIGN In the very same June 2 issue of The Dispatcher, official organ of the Stalinist-dominated International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union – CIO, in which Harry Bridges announced that the Stalinists intend to continue their strikebreaking policies permanently – in peacetime as well as for the duration – he devoted his entire personal column on the editorial page to incitement of lynch attack upon the Trotskyists. Echoing California’s Associated Farmers vigilante gangs, Bridges ended his attack with the cry: “Let’s go get ‘em!

Simultaneously the Stalinist West Coast daily, The People’s World, published a series of typical GPU articles, one emanating from Mexico City full of fantastic charges of a “Trotskyite conspiracy” to “wreck the transportation system of Mexico” and to “curb war shipments to the US”: in particular, by fomenting “wildcat railway strikes.” A second dispatch from London slanders the English Trotskyists and backs Churchill’s persecution of the leaders of the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party. The third, written by the GPU in this country, smears the imprisoned 18 and endorses the frameup engineered by Roosevelt and Tobin. (People’s World, May 22 and 23.)

GPU BUYS SPACE FOR ITS VIGILANTE LIES This opening phase of the carefully calculated campaign was climaxed in the same week by the insertion of a half-page advertisement in the San Pedro Pilot paid for and signed by the Communist Club of San Pedro. This paid advertisement reiterated the vicious falsehoods in the articles of the People’s World; adds that the Trotskyist program is “the same program which Hitler and Tojo advise American workers to follow”; brazenly includes the infamous Moscow frameups as part of the “record of Trotskyite conspiracy”; and then concludes by raising the same vigilante lynch cry that Bridges uttered in his own paper: “They operate like enemy spies in our midst ... Show these provocateurs the gate.” (San Pedro Pilot, May 27. Emphasis in the original.)

Concurrently issue after issue of the Daily Worker has been making political preparations for the extension of this lynch and red-baiting campaign against the Trotskyists on a national scale. To inflame public opinion the Stalinists have of course resorted to the vilest chauvinist waving of the Stars and Stripes, trying to exploit the Allied invasion of Europe, and every other demagogic trick of the profiteers and Legionnaires. Their immediate aim is to counteract and break up in every way the growing labor support for the 18. Similar methods were pursued by the GPU and its agents in connection with the historical struggle against the Moscow trials when the International Commission of Inquiry headed by John Dewey investigated the Moscow Trials, branded them as frameups, and found the chief defendants, Leon Trotsky and his son, Leon Sedov, not guilty.

RED-BAITING TRICKS OF THE DAILY WORKER Two days before the CRDC mass meeting in New York on June 8 the Daily Worker openly attempted to terrorize prominent labor figures and to prevent them from speaking. Similar attempts, as the CRDC Secretary reported, had been made at various other cities during his tour. In New York, as elsewhere, these methods were unavailing. The New York meeting proved not only to be the largest public demonstration to date in support of the imprisoned 18 but brought forth from the labor leaders present scathing denunciations of the Stalinist’s role in this case. Thus the chairman of the meeting, George Baldanzi, executive vice-president of the United Textile Workers-CIO, stated:

“…. Very frankly, the activities of the Daily Worker and the Communist Party and some of our ‘left-wing’ leaders of recent date, with their endorsement of the Baruch plan, with their re-emphasis that they have always been for capitalism, with their pronouncements of a no-strike pledge after the war – as far as I am concerned, that group has forfeited the right to speak for the working class in America. And I should say that the sooner they get out of the labor movement and stop pouring opium on it which will deaden its militancy, the better it will be for American labor.”

What are the main reasons behind this latest public resumption by the GPU apparatus of its international campaign against Trotskyism? In the first place, broad working class masses are beginning to understand the enormity of the Stalinist degeneration, crimes and betrayals. This is being driven home by the Kremlin’s counter-revolutionary foreign policy (the endorsement of Allied war aims; Stalin’s complot to aid Roosevelt and Churchill in the attempt to strangle the maturing European revolution; the dissolution of the Comintern; the recognition of Badoglio, etc.); by the intensification of reaction within the Soviet Union (the wiping out of the remaining cultural gains of the October revolution; the elimination of free public education, co-education and all progressive legislation for women; the inculcation of national chauvinist ideology in place of proletarian internationalism; the restoration, with state backing, of the Greek Orthodox Church and its Holy Synod; the fostering of a monstrous officer caste with privileges surpassing those of Czarist Russia and Kaiser’s Prussia, etc.); and finally, by the corresponding submission of Stalinist parties to Anglo-American Big Business.

A CONTRAST THAT IS ANNIHILATING The unwavering and irreconcilable struggle of the Trotskyists for the socialist program of Marx and Lenin stands out before the eyes of the advanced workers in the sharpest contrast to the abysmal perfidy of Stalin and his followers. In the United States and England the Stalinists are crawling before Wall Street and the City; they have underwritten the war policies of Roosevelt and Churchill, especially the drive against labor’s rights and living standards bound up with the execution of that imperialist program. In these two strongholds of world capitalism the Trotskyists have been persecuted, framed up and railroaded to prison because of their revolutionary socialist ideas and activities in defense of the interests and rights of the laboring masses on the road to the establishment of workers’ power throughout the world.

In order to try and check this political awakening of the militant workers and their gravitation toward the Trotskyists, the Kremlin has again stepped up the operations of its slander, terror and murder machinery. This anti-Trotskyist campaign is rendered all the more imperative by the visible disaffection within the ranks of the Stalinists themselves. The Kremlin’s policies have already produced splits within the Communist Parties of Italy and Poland; Browder, Foster and Co., have had to resort to expulsions in this country in order to put over the new line; while in England more and more Stalinist-influenced workers are becoming disillusioned and turning toward the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party.

The growing radicalization of the war-wearied masses throughout the world and their increasing opposition to the decayed capitalist system and all its apologists and upholders presents a mortal danger not only to the imperialists but also to the rule of the usurping Stalinist bureaucracy within the USSR. The GPU will stop at nothing in fulfilling Stalin’s order to behead the rising world revolutionary movement by striking at its Trotskyist vanguard.

ON GUARD AGAINST GPU MACHINATIONS! When in 1941 prior to the entry of the United States into the war, Roosevelt and Biddle initiated their frameup against the leaders of the Socialist Workers Party and of the Minneapolis Truckdrivers Union Local 544-CIO, we warned the labor movement that this assault upon labor’s rights and free speech was but the opening gun in an all-out offensive against the American working class. Today ever-greater sections of organized labor recognize the inseparable connection between the fight to free the 18 and their struggle to maintain their own organizations and rights in the face of the rabid anti-labor drive.

The current anti-Trotskyist campaign of the Stalinists – centered around the case of the 18 – is likewise fundamentally directed against the interests of the labor movement as a whole, against its day-to-day struggles to safeguard gains already made, and above all against its great revolutionary communist future. The Stalinists are concentrating their fire upon the Trotskyists for the same purpose as Roosevelt did in 1941 and Churchill is doing at this very hour – to repress the most conscious and incorruptible anti-capitalist fighters and thus clear the way for the general assault upon the rest of the working class. The Stalinist attack is all the more insidious and dangerous because it issues from within the labor movement.

It is the elementary duty of every progressive element to expose and beat back this latest conspiracy of the Stalinist agents of Big Business. The task of tasks for American labor is to crush Stalinism politically and to completely purge itself of what Trotsky called “the worst plague” of the world working class movement.

Why the English Trotskyists Are Being Persecuted

TROTSKYIST LEADERS JAILED IN ENGLAND Early in April, following the huge coal strikes in Wales and Yorkshire, the strike struggles of dock, aircraft and engineering workers in Scotland and North Ireland, and the apprentices’ strike in Tyneside, the English bourgeoisie, alarmed by the militancy of the workers and definitely shaken by prospects of bigger and fiercer strikes in the near future, geared its machinery in order to extricate itself from the crisis by means of one of its most favorite methods – raising the red scare, unleashing a rabid, redbaiting campaign.

While the English press nationally began detecting everywhere “hidden hands,” “sinister influences,” etc., etc., the Gestapo squads of Scotland Yard raided Trotskyist headquarters, and even private homes from one end of the country to the other. Next came the arrests of four Trotskyist leaders: Jock Haston, Roy Tearse, Heaton Lee and Ann Keen, on the charge of having “incited and instigated” the Tyne strike. The Trade Disputes Act under which these revolutionists have been indicted is the notorious piece of Tory strikebreaking legislation, passed in 1927 after the defeat of the General Strike. This is the first instance in which the Tories have dared to invoke the provisions of the 1927 anti-union law, or more correctly, have empowered their lackey Bevin, Minister of Labor, to employ it against our English co-thinkers. For further details and for the general background of the case we refer our readers to the article of J.B. Stuart in this issue and to articles appearing in the weekly newspaper, The Militant.

We shall confine ourselves here to two points:

  1. the primary motivations of the British ruling class and its agencies in engineering this frameup; and
  2. the importance of this case not only to the workers in England but to those in the United States, as well as throughout the world.

CLASS ALIGNMENTS IN GREAT BRITAIN The English capitalists, like their class colleagues in other countries, are now caught in the vise of the gravest crisis of their existence. Both the crisis and the war which engendered it flow from the decay of the capitalist system as a whole. The peculiarities of the development of English capitalism (its insular position, its early appearance on the world arena, the advantages resulting from its initial virtual monopoly of industrialization, its vast colonial empire, etc., etc.) – these peculiarities have hitherto enabled the ruling class to corrupt the English workers, buying off the top layers with sops from colonial super-profits, and imbuing the entire class with bourgeois ideas, habits and traditions. The English empire gave the semblance of immutability precisely because it rested on this bourgeosified proletariat.

The conservatism of the English working class as a whole enabled the bourgeoisie to emerge from the crisis of the first imperialist World War, and to surmount, with relative ease, the post-war shocks and convulsions, especially the world-wide economic depression and crisis that erupted in 1929 and continued right up to the outbreak of the second World War. Indeed, the passivity and docility of the English workers at the time came as a pleasant surprise to the rulers who had expected, feared – and prepared for – far greater conflicts than those which did actually take place. Throughout the first war and its aftermath only the advanced layers of the English proletariat moved forward, while its thickest and nethermost strata remained inert. The English capitalists owed this situation externally to the successive catastrophic defeats of the European working class; and internally, on the one hand, to the perfidious Labor leadership who helped quell and crush the isolated vanguard; and on the other, to the progressive degeneration of the Communist International under Stalin who further facilitated the task of the Tories by beheading the English vanguard.

AN ALTERED SITUATION But the basic economic factors which formerly worked in favor of the bourgeoisie have in the meantime been operating, at first hiddenly and then more and more openly, to its gravest disadvantage. The country’s economic structure and it has remained virtually unaltered – which once fed the conservative tendencies within the proletariat is not only antiquated: it is decayed to the core. This gangrenous condition is inescapably the source of a development which is the polar opposite to that of the past. It cannot fail to lead to the rapid radicalization of the English workers who comprise the overwhelming majority of the population; seventy percent and more, according to official estimates. As a matter of fact, under the impact of a second World War within the lifetime of the same generations, the war-weary masses are already beginning to stir into motion not only among the topmost and advanced layers but also among their most backward and hitherto immobile sections. This is clear from the recent English strike statistics.

What will happen once this gigantic mass, seemingly so immutably fixed in the past, begins rolling? Prospects of such a social avalanche are precisely the stuff of which nightmares are now made in Downing Street and the City. This is what makes Churchill and his friends so acutely sensitive to the slightest disruption of the equilibrium on which they rest, and which must be maintained at all costs, if capitalism is to survive in England. The current name for this equilibrium is – “national unity” for the sake of the war effort. But what are strikes?

WHY THEY MUST EMPLOY FORCE In war as in peace, strikes are one of the infallible indications of the disruption of equilibrium in capitalist society. Hence the rage and fear of the Tories. Hence their resolve to take the first steps in applying brute force against the proletariat as a whole – after these measures have been first successfully employed against the extreme left, the vanguard of the vanguard, today represented by the Trotskyists.

English capitalism is shaking. If the existing political set-up in the country still fails fully to reflect this, it is because political processes always tend to lag behind economic processes. Periods in history arrive, however, when such gaps are bridged swiftly and in giant strides. It took the far more politically backward masses in Czarist Russia only 8 months in 1917 to leap from conditions of Asiatism and medievalist to the establishment of the first workers’ state. The tempo in Britain may differ, but the process in its essential features is the same.

The ferment and the strikes constitute one expression of the growing mass radicalization. No less significant is another aspect of the process – the moods now prevailing among the ruling summits, and especially the Labor Party flunkies.

TORY PRESS SPEAKS OUT The London Times and Telegraph, two of the most influential and authoritative capitalist dailies in close contact with government circles, have been publicly hinting of late that the rank and file in the unions is getting out of the control of the Labor bureaucrats; and they have been pressing for action – i.e. repressions – against the “irresponsible” elements. Prevalent among bourgeois circles is the conviction that now is the testing time for Labor leaders’ participation in the government. If, at one extreme, the awakening workers are demanding that an end be put to the perfidious Labor-Tory Coalition, then, from the other extreme, the most conscious leaders of the capitalists are likewise adumbrating the same step: For, after all, if Bevin and the TUC and the Labor Party Ministers in the government cannot restrain the workers, of what earthly use are they to the bourgeoisie? In such situations the labor lackeys are unceremoniously booted out.

That such is actually the trend among bourgeois tops is confirmed by the reactions and deeds of the Labor bureaucrats who are far more sympathetically sensitive to moods of their masters than to those of the rank and file. It is not for nothing that Bevin boasted that there has been far less industrial strife in England in 4½ years of this war than there had been in 3½ years of the last one. Bevin of course cites the record as an argument for retaining his ministerial post. But the fact that the Labor leaders have held the masses in check for 4½ years counts for exactly nothing in the face of the current and, what is more important, impending developments. The bourgeoisie, unlike the purblind bureaucrats, looks ahead. It demands proof that their flunkies can continue to be of service.

BEVIN’S ANSWER What is Bevin’s answer? It is at one and the same time a tacit admission of bankruptcy and an open assumption of the role of jailer and, if need be, of executioner. The most reactionary section of the bourgeoisie and the labor lieutenants of capital are agreed that the only recourse left is brute force. Bevin and his contemptible crew require and beg for help from the police and state apparatus of repression in the fight against the militants and their own rank and file. Nothing is too despicable for these traitors.

At the same time that Bevin applied the provisions of the Trade Disputes Act of 1927 against the Trotskyists, he also introduced Regulation 1AA in Parliament. The chief aim of this “Defense Regulation” – which was adopted – is to bolster up the vanishing authority of the union bureaucrats by applying penal measures against those who “incite, instigate or act in furtherance of strikes” in any industry classified as “essential work.” This is a direct blow at the shop stewards. Regulation 1AA like the Trade Disputes Act, states that “officially convened” union meetings do not come under a prohibition, that is, a union member may advocate strike in his own local union. But outside the local he would be liable. A shop stewards’ meeting in the shop gives no protection from the regulation.

Churchill – through Bevin – could hardly have made it clearer from the very outset that the persecution of the Trotskyists is an integral part of a general anti-labor drive.

WHAT OUR DUTY IS American workers, who are in ever increasing numbers learning the lesson that Roosevelt’s railroading to jail of the 18 Trotskyist leaders was likewise part of Wall Street’s unfolding offensive against American labor, must now assimilate another, and no less important lesson, namely, the inseparable connection between the defense of their own interests and organizations and the struggle that is being waged in England to beat back the Churchill-Bevin onslaught on their English brothers.

If Big Business emerges triumphant in England, the effects will be felt not only throughout Europe, but here at home as well. Wall Street and all its agencies will become all the more emboldened thereby. Conversely, if the aroused English workers beat back the attack, it will lift the self-confidence of workers everywhere, in Italy as well as in Germany as well as in USA.

The interaction between events in various countries operates with even greater force in wartime when all processes are greatly speeded up. American workers have a great stake in the struggle now unfolding in England. In the last analysis and this is what really counts-they can serve their own interests and promote their own welfare only through international solidarity.

It is the duty of every class-conscious militant to raise his voice in protest against the persecution of the English Trotskyists; to expose the abysmal treachery of Bevin and the Labor leaders; to help rescind the totalitarian Tory anti-labor laws, the like of which, otherwise, may be instituted here on the morrow. It is an elementary working class obligation to extend to the chief targets of this vile attack – the English Trotskyists – every possible moral and material aid.

We feel confident that the readers of Fourth International will support and help spread the appeal: ALL AID TO THE TROTSKYIST CLASS-WAR VICTIMS IN ENGIAND!

The Allies Handpick A “New” Regime for Italy

“THE MORE IT CHANGES, THE MORE IT REMAINS THE SAME” For the second time within the brief space of a few weeks the shadow government of “liberated” Italy has had its face lifted. Marshal Pietro Badoglio, the fascist butcher of Abyssinian ill-fame, has stepped down from the premiership and has been replaced by an aged “Liberal,” 71-year-old Ivanoe Bonomi, who once held the office of premier in pre-Mussolini days.

The little King, Victor Emmanuel, moved into the shadows after the Allied armies had occupied Rome and into his place has stepped the fascist bootlicker, Prince Humbert, whose task it is to make himself palatable to the outraged Italian masses – if he can – and thus preserve the royal prerogatives and immense privileges of the rotten House of Savoy.

If he can! When the fascist prince appeared on the balcony of the Quirinal Palace in Rome revolver shots flew forward from among the crowd of monarchist scum organized to give him greetings. The masses have long memories!

It was with these revolver shots ringing in their ears that the parties of the “Italian Committee of Liberation” – Stalinists, Social Democrats, Liberals, Catholics – went into a quick huddle to give their regime another “democratic” face-lifting. The Allied diplomats and the Stalinists pressed for the retention of Badoglio. But the others, acutely aware of the revolutionary temper of the Romans, pushed Badoglio out and shoved Bonomi in. Cabinet posts were reshuffled a little to let in a few of the Romans.

But the character of the regime has not been changed in the slightest. It remains a police-military dictatorship, supported by Allied arms, and in no way subject to popular control. It will continue, like its predecessors, to rule by decree. It, too, is crowned by the hated monarchy.

THE REASON FOR THE RESHUFFLE The reason for the reshuffle, and the ouster of Badoglio, were revealed by the Rome correspondent of the New York Times, who told how Prince Humbert, together with Badoglio and his cabinet, arrived in the Eternal City after its fall to find “a hot situation, almost a threatening crisis, on their hands.” The revolver shots increased the heat, and, as the correspondent discloses, “it was a day of great argumentation, which was resolved only because all concerned were determined to form a cabinet quickly.”

Yes, the day was hot – hot with the breath of mass rebellion. A new attempt at deception of the masses became urgent. There emerged a “new” cabinet, a new governmental façade in which nothing essential was changed. Its policy is to preserve Italian capitalism, to hold the masses down, to repress, with the aid of the Allied imperialists, any attempt at revolution.

Quite characteristically, it was the Stalinist Palmiro Togliatti, who fought to the last for the retention of Badoglio as premier in the cabinet-making session. This was reported by the New York Times correspondent, who wrote: “... only the Communists here are supporting the Premier, under the orders of Signor Togliatti, who is also known as Ercole.”

What was in the mind of this GPU agent and his master Stalin, who originally came to the rescue of the Badoglio regime when the Italian people seemed about to cast it into the garbage can? They fear that the slightest upset in the ruling junta may precipitate a revolutionary crisis in “liberated” Italy. They are acutely sensitive to the delicate balance of class relations. Any change at the top may precipitate an upheaval below.

But the pressure of pdpular anger was too great and so Badoglio had to go. His successor revealed the nature of the political trick when he “paid tribute to Marshal Badoglio” but added quickly that “anyone with the slightest tinge of fascism” would be banned from the new government. This “tribute” to the fascist butcher of Ethiopia, and the fact that the fascist bootlicker Humbert remains, are the measure of the “new” regime. It is certain that the masses will not tolerate Bonomi and his clique very long.

LENIN’S ANALYSIS OF CABINET SHIFTS The correct analysis of ministerial changes in periods of social crisis was made more than a quarter of a century ago by Lenin. Commenting on the constant shifts of cabinets that took place in Russia in 1917 after the downfall of Czarism, and in particular, with reference to the entry of Russian Populists end Mensheviks into the ministry, Lenin wrote:

“Let us suppose everything goes well. Even so there be not a shadow of doubt that those who have promised will not be able to carry out their promises. ‘We shall help in league – with the capitalists – to bring the country out of its crisis, to save it from ruin, to rid it of war’ – this is what the entrance into the ministry of the leaders of the petty bourgeoisie, the Chernovs [leader of the Populists] and Tseretelis [leader of the Mensheviks], actually means. Our answer is: Your help is not sufficient. The crisis has advanced infinitely farther than you imagine. Only the revolutionary class, by taking revolutionary measures against capital, can save the country-and not our country alone. The crisis is so deep, so widely ramified, so world-wide in its scope, so closely bound up with capital, that class struggle against capital must inevitably take the form of political domination by the proletariat and a smir proletariat. There is no other escape.” (Lenin’s Collected Works, English Edition, vol.XX, book 2, p.45)

This correct Marxist analysis of the role and bankruptcy of bourgeois democracy was restated as follows in the resolution on the Perspectives and Tasks of the Coming European Revolution adopted, November 2, 1943, at the Fifteenth Anniversary Plenum of the Socialist Workers Party:

“The only alternative to the continued rule of monopoly capitalism is the Workers’ and Farmers’ Government based upon Workers, Soldiers and Peasants Councils. The decay of capitalism and the acuteness of class conflicts forbid another extended period of bourgeois democracy for war-torn Europe ... The fact that the economic pre-conditions for an extended period of bourgeois democracy in Europe have disappeared does not, however, put an end to the role that bourgeois and petty-bourgeois democrats can play to stem the advance of proletarian revolution. With the collapse of fascism, capitalism will attempt to rule by means of naked military force, as already demonstrated in Italy. When this device proves powerless to control the insurgent masses, the native capitalists, allied with the invading imperialists, will push forward their treacherous democratic, social-reformist and Stalinist agents in an effort to strangle the revolution in a ‘democratic’ noose.”

Lenin’s prognosis of the cabinet shifts in Russia in 1917 applies with equal force to the cabinet shifts we are witnessing today in Italy.

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