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International Socialism, April 1977


Notes of the Month

Italy: Resurgent Reformism


From International Socialism (1st series), No.97, April 1977, p.5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


ITALY, like France, has been witnessing a resurgent reformism. The Communist Party has grown rapidly in membership and influence as the prospect of its members participating in a coalition with the bourgeois parties for the first time since 1947 has drawn closer.

The effect has been a dampening one on workers’ struggles. The revolutionary left, probably the largest in Western Europe, has been thrown into crisis. The two most important groups, PdUP (the Party of Workers’ Unity) and Avanguardia Operaia (Workers’ Vanguard) have moved drastically to the right. They have geared their programmes to the policies that a left government should pursue in office, rather than seeking to offer a lead to those workers who are prepared to fight independently of the CP-dominated trade union bureaucracy.

The result has been that the revolutionary groups, obsessed with their own divisions and with the CP, have been largely bypassed by those struggles, like the student movement, that have developed. The only lead given to students was that provided by various spontaneist and anarchist groups.

The crisis in the revolutionary left has come to a head. Both PdUP and AO have split! The right-wing majority of the PdUP leadership, headed by Lucio Magri and Rassana Rossanda, are reviving the group around Il Manifesto which was expelled from the Communist Party in 1969. Their strategy is to act as a ginger group that can push the CP left, rather than building an independent workers’ party. They will be joined in this task by the minority Campi faction of the AO leadership.

That will leave the AO majority and the PdUP minority, who will probably merge, to offer an independent revolutionary alternative. The opportunities for such an alternative in Italy are vast, as the level of struggle rises and the CP is increasingly identified with the anti-working-class policies of the minority Christian Democratic administration it keeps in power. But such an alternative can develop only if the new group breaks with the politics of pushing the CP leftwards that has dominated the Italian revolutionary left.

More details on the crisis in the European revolutionary left will be found in the SWP International Discussion Bulletin special Double Issue on The Workers’ Government. Articles on France, Italy and Jamaica. Available from SWP International Department, 25p plus 10p postage; 6 Cottons Gardens London E2 8DN.

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