Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History
Work in Progress
The Centro Studi Pietro Tresso, Italy
The Centro Studi Pietro Tresso was founded in October 1983 – on the basis of the commitment and cooperation of left-minded people with different political orientations – in order to collect archival material of the Italian and international Trotskyist movements and to make the history and political heritage of that movement known to younger generations. Such work is especially necessary in Italy, a country where the history of the workers’ movement has always been censored and falsified both by Social Democracy and, above all, by Stalinism.
It should also be said that a genuine revolutionary Marxist tradition did not exist in Italy for such a long time. The Italian CP’s ‘Bolshevism’ was flawed since its inception (1921) by Bordiga’s ultra-leftism, and subsequently by Gramsci’s bureaucratic-centrist positions which paved the way for the CP’s final line up with Stalinism in 1929-30. Italian Trotskyism – which emerged in 1930 as a belated response to the CP’s degeneration under the leadership of Togliatti – represented only a tiny handful of comrades in forced political emigration in France up to the outbreak of the Second World War. Later on a Trotskyist organisation was built in 1943 on Italian soil, but it was eventually expelled from the Fourth International in 1948 due to the fact that a Bordigist current – with which Italian Trotskyists had merged on an unprincipled basis – had taken control of the party. The subsequent history of Trotskyism in Italy is heavily marked by the centrist leadership of Livio Maitan, who became Pablo’s Italian spokesman in the 1950s and imparted a quite unfruitful ‘deep entryist’ course to the organisation between 1952 and 1969. Beginning from the mid-1970s the Italian ‘Trotskyist movement’ suffered a series of splits, and it is represented today by some seven competing grouplets with no mass basis and no real following among the working class.
Little of Trotsky’s works are known to Italian-speaking people, first and foremost those relating to the struggle for the Fourth International. Only a few booklets by the Old Man have been published in Italy over the last 10 years or so – the last of them being Before 9 January, issued in 1982. After that date, only the Italian study centre has published some writings by Trotsky.
This kind of publication work is entirely consistent with the tasks the Centro Pietro Tresso intends to, carry on. Its founders took their first steps starting from the basic assumption that the building of a genuinely Communist organisation and the training of Marxist cadres are unthinkable without a reassessment of continuity with the old revolutionary movement. It is to the solution of that vital task that the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso seeks to make a positive contribution by making available to the Italian-speaking public the relevant literature of the Trotskyist movement.
Besides that, the field of research of the Italian study centre includes other topics such as, for example, the history of the first years of the Italian CP and the dispute between Bordiga and Gramsci, the history of the Communist Left (Bordigist), the development of Stalinism and Social Democracy in Italy, the political history of the Second World War with a special reference to the final stage of the conflict, 1943-45, and to the dissident leftist groups which surfaced in Italy during that period, etc.
In 1986 the Italian study centre launched the magazine Quaderni del Centro Studi Pietro Tresso, two series of which are being published – From the Archives of Bolshevism and Studies and Researches.
Four issues of the From the Archives of Bolshevism series have been published so far:
Sixteen issues of the Studies and Researches series have been published so far:
In addition to that, the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso also published a booklet by Paolo Casciola on Pietro Tresso militante trotskysta (1930-1944), which is both a political biography of a founding member of Italian Trotskyism (from whom the study centre derives its name) and an account of the history of Italian Bolshevism-Leninism during the 1930s.
The Centro Studi Pietro Tresso has a library consisting of over 10,000 books, a photographic file and a documentary archive which includes some 1,500 documents – newspapers, magazines, leaflets, internal bulletins, letters, etc. They include material of the European Secretariat of the Fourth International (1943-45), the International Secretariat of the Fourth International (1946-52), the French Parti Ouvrier Internationaliste (1944-45) and Parti Communiste Internationaliste (1945-48), incomplete collections of La Vérité (1943-53), Quatrième Internationale (1937-58), internal bulletins of both of the French (1944-48) and the USA and British sections (1947-49) of the Fourth International, a considerable; collection of material of the Barta-led Union Communiste (1940-52), a complete collection of Oktober, the paper of the Norwegian Trotskyists (1937-39), and various material on Italian, Greek, Spanish, Sri Lankan, Bolivian, and Danish Trotskyism.
The Italian study centre maintained and maintains relations of various types both with old comrades and leading members of the Trotskyist movement throughout the world and with several institutions as the Centre d’Études et de Recherches sur les Mouvements trotskyste et Revolutionnaires Internationaux (CERMTRI) in Paris, the Internationale Institut voor Sociale Geschiedenis (IISG) in Amsterdam, the Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli in Milan, the Bibliothèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine (BDIC) in Nanterre, the Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs of the Wayne State University in Detroit, the Centro Studi politici a sociali ‘Il Sessantotto’ in Florence, and others.
Thus, despite its very limited financial resources and personnel (with only one associate working part-time for the centre and some occasional contributors), the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso is carrying on quite a lot of work – not as a club of chattering intellectuals, but as art instrument for the theoretical-political education of today's and tomorrow’s revolutionary cadres.
The current address of the study centre - to which all requests for more information may be sent - is the following: Centro Studi Pietro Tresso, c/o Paolo Casciola, Via Firenze 18-06034. Foligno PG, Italy.
Updated by ETOL: 10.7.2003