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Ernest Lund

World Politics

(1 October 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 40, 1 October 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

“Free Press” in Germany

One of the “Four Freedoms” to which American editors have attached great importance is freedom of the press. At present the American military commanders in Germany are hard at work teaching this great “freedom” to the Germans. And as usual it turns out to be “freedom of the press” in the grand old American tradition.

The American Army authorities have authorized the publication of only some twenty-four large dailies in their zone of occupation. The result has been that each of them enjoys circulations that are stupendous by pre-Hitler standards. They run from 400,000 to 1,500,000 each. German journalists claim that these papers between them service a population that once supported several hundred papers in the Weimar Republic.

This sort of “freedom of the press” is, of course, the development on German soil of a monopoly of the press by a few millionaire publishers that has long prevailed in the United States. Instead of reconstituting an independent political press, as prevailed before Hitler, the Army is concentrating the manufacture of public opinion in the hands of a small group of German Hearsts, McCormicks. Scripps-Howards, Reeds, Sulzbergers and Marshall Fields


Italian Socialist Struggle

The struggle for the control of the Italian Socialist Party is becoming clarified with the emergence of more clearly defined Stalinist and anti-Stalinist tendencies. At the Rome Conference held on July 29th to August 1st, an open opposition to the pro-Stalinist orientation of Pietro Nenni emerged and received the support of some thirty per cent of the delegates.

The opposition is led by Giuseppe Modigliani, Ignazio Silone and Giuseppe Favarelli. Modigliani is one of the old right-wing leaders of the party who shared the leadership with Matteotti, Turati and Serrati when the hesitant and contradictory policies of the socialists resulted in the final triumph of Mussolini.

Silone’s Role

Silone is the well known anti-fascist novelist who wrote Fontamara, Bread and Wine, School for Dictators and other novels which have shown a consistent trend away from Marxism and toward some sort of libertarian, humanistic, mystical brand of socialism. Silone has made a name for himself as the avowed enemy of all forms of totalitarianism, including Stalinism, for which he coined the phrase “Red fascism.”

However, upon his return to Italy from exile he became a close associate and supporter of Nenni, the leader of the pro-Stalinist orientation in the party. It now appears that he is once more linked with the anti-Stalinist forces. Favarelli is a legendary figure who emerged to prominence in the pre-war underground in Italy. Little is known of his politics at present. He was arrested by the Vichy police and turned over to the fascists early in the war. A fascist court sentenced him to thirty years’ imprisonment, from which he was liberated with the fall of Mussolini.

Nenni is driving hard for the fusion of the Socialist and Communist Parties. He has secured much support for this proposal among socialist workers with the argument that it was the division of the working class into two parties that permitted fascism to conquer in 1921–24. The bulk of the Italian workers, having lived for twenty years under the fascist blackout, still think of the Communists as a working class organization dedicated to socialism; what is more, to the ideas of Lenin and the Russian Revolution.

In the face of the opposition of the Modigliani forces at the Rome conference, Nenni chose to delay the question and moved to postpone to “a more appropriate time.” The opposition opposed this on the ground that they were opposed to fusion with the Communists on principle and substituted a proposal for unity of action on specific questions. The opposition has drawn much strength from the Labor Party victory in Britain, hoping that the Labor government will be a counterweight to Russian influence in Italy.

Socialist Party Role

The fusion of the Socialists with the Communist Party would be a catastrophe for Italian labor. As everywhere else, the Stalinists will corrupt, disintegrate and terrorize all opposition in the united party and transform it into an enlarged apparatus for the carrying out of Russian aims. Those who remain intransigent in their opposition will finally be framed up, slandered and driven from the ranks. Stalinism is bureaucratic tyranny, monolithism, totalitarianism.

Whatever the policies and practices of the Italian Socialists and the trade unions they lead, they still remain a product of the Italian working class, they are still part of the free labor movement which needs democratic rights in order to exist.

The leadership of Modigliani and Silone, the one an old hand at compromise, the other a brilliant writer but unstable politician and theorist, will not defeat the Stalinist menace to the Italian working class. This task requires a revolutionary Marxist party, founded upon the program that made the Russian Revolution possible and united in firm and disciplined ranks that will prove more than a match for Togliatti’s bureaucratized machine. Such a party will find numerous adherents in the present ranks of the Socialist Party. But its ideas, its leading cadres, and the initial steps in the building must come from our comrades of the Italian section of the Fourth International. In the last analysis, it will be they who will prove the decisive force.

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