Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 5 No. 4
THE REORGANISATION of Italy’s constitution and the subsequent elections were the obvious result of the decay of the old system, and it is of vital necessity for revolutionaries at this time to look at the circumstances that gave rise to it. For the original ‘historic compromise’ of 1943–45 turned out to be the involvement of the working class organisations in a system putrid even by normal workaday bourgeois standards, which rotted and crashed the working class organisations along with its own, as it inevitably would. And since history often appears to repeat itself, the absence of any left wing perspective has produced not just one authoritarian solution from the extreme right, as in 1922, but two.
A study of the evidence as a whole suggests that real revolutionary opportunities existed in 1943–45, and that advantage was not taken of them as it should have been. Yet again the lesson was taught that there is not much point in fighting state power if when it falls you have nothing of your own with which to replace it. There was also an international dimension to all this, for it is also significant that it was the events that attended the fall of Mussolini that began the discussion around the crisis of the perspectives of the Fourth International.
Failure is not inevitable now, no more than it was in 1943, and much depends on the ability of Marxists to refine their perspectives by drawing clear lessons from history. Since the voluminous literature available in Britain on the Italian Communist Party preserves a studied silence on what stood on its left, our aim is to give them a say here. Because of the censorship from which they have suffered we naturally give pride of place to the Trotskyists, and for that section of the material we are in deep debt to our sister organisation, the Centro Studi Pietro Tresso, and its energetic director, Paolo Casciola, who not only wrote the greater part of it, but has translated most of it as well.
But whilst Trotskyism could boast of leading cadres inherited from the Communist Party, it never enjoyed the influence of the Italian Left. The history of this movement, generally inaccurately termed ‘Bordigist’, is so little known in the English-speaking world, that we are all the more pleased to pass on our thanks to Arturo Peregalli for the unique material he has written for us.
Let us end by expressing the hope that this small sample from the exciting intellectual ferment of the Italian left will lead to an appetite for more of it, as opposed to the vapid outpourings of Eurocommunism or stupefying abstractions based on a dubious interpretation of Gramsci on which we have been fed for so long.
Updated by ETOL: 25.9.2011