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Sam Adams

“Liberating” Europe’s Masses

By Hand-Picking the Italian Government

(December 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 52, 25 December 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Charter’s Still Alive in Poland, Frankie?
“2. They desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the people concerned.”
And How Does This Apply to Greece, Winnie?
“3. ... They respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them.” – From the Atlantic Charter.

One does not need additional confirmation than the evidence furnished in the last month that the Atlantic Charter in the hands of imperialists is a worthless document. The differences that exist among the Allies arise from national interests which force each of them along separate roads even though they fight a common war against a common enemy.

Part of Italy has been “liberated” for more than a year. Within that year, the united action of the Allies toward that country was calculated to prevent the independence of the nation – freedom of the people to select their own government, to speak freely, to assemble freely, to organize and to write freely. Government was and is in the hands of the Allied Control Commission; supervision is exercised, over all affairs of the country by Allied representatives, while the Bonomi government, twice constructed, remains little else but a pawn of the Allies.

This was nowhere so graphically portrayed as in the period between the fall of the first Bonomi government and the establishment of another under the same Premier. When Bonomi resigned, the six legal parties which formed the first Coalition government nominated Count Carlo Sforza to be Premier or Foreign Minister. Sforza, a confused and inconsistent liberal, has a world-wide reputation as an anti-fascist, based on his opposition to Mussolini over a period of more than twenty years.

Press reports indicated that Sforza was ready to select a new cabinet or to participate in one. It developed, however, that the Italians did not reckon with the British ruling class. The British vetoed Sforza in a manner completely identical to the way Hitler conducted himself with his satellite nations. Churchill and Eden intervened publicly and insolently to say that Sforza was “unreliable” and not acceptable to them either as Prime Minister or as head of foreign affairs.

The British Broadcasting Company, an official agency of the government, states: “Sforza is not considered a reliable man in London and would not make for good Anglo-Italian relations.”

Sir Noel Charles, British Ambassador to Italy and a power in Rome, told a deputation representing the official parties in the country that Sforza “Would not be welcomed” in Britain.

The dismay caused in Italy by these declarations was quickly followed by explanations by British Foreign Secretary Eden, speaking in the name of his government. Eden denied that his country wished to determine the character and personnel of the governments in the “liberated” countries. The New York Times reported his position in the following way:

“The Foreign Secretary denied any doctrinaire interferences in the affairs of other countries, asserting that the threefold aim of British foreign policy was to win the war, preserve the grand alliance and, as far as possible, give the people of the liberated lands a chance to choose their governments freely.”

“As far as possible” has meant no freedom to the people to choose their own governments. Look at the record: The British insist that power “in Greece must rest in the hands of an imported King and a reactionary collaborationist ruling class against the people. They stand behind the Pierlot government in Belgium, which is the representative of Belgian collaborationist big business class. In Italy too they stand solidly against any assertion by the Italian people of their democratic rights.

Sforza is unreliable, says Eden. He disrupted the old cabinet of Bonomi, adds the Foreign Minister, and therefore is unacceptable to the British.

Bonomi says that Eden is misinformed. Sforza was not unreliable and he did not disrupt the cabinet. Bonomi insisted that he arid Sforza are old friends arid he hopes this little British intervention in the life of Italy will not destroy this friendship. Sforza on his part agrees with Bonomi and then, like a spineless liberal, announces his retirement from active participation in Italian politics, meanwhile exhorting the Italian people to support British and American “democracy” in order to save Italy!

Thus did the British save the day for themselves. Obviously the British fear Sforza because he is anti-monarchist i.e., a determined enemy of the House of Savoy and might, if in power, destroy the kingly “rulers” of Italy. Sforza himself revealed that one of the conditions laid down by Churchill before agreeing to the Count’s departure for Italy was that he announce his support of the House of Savoy and cease from any struggle against it. A commentary on Sforza himself is revealed in the fact that he agreed to go to Italy and refrain from any struggle against the King. The American State Department was a party to this piece of skullduggery.

“The largest part of the two-hour conversation with Mr. Churchill in London on October 11, 1943,” said the Count, “was employed mainly to put strong pressure on me so that I might be induced to accept King Victor Emmanuel III regardless of his heavy responsibilities with fascism, with the war against Britain and with the consequent calamitous defeat ... The incident to which the attitude of the British government is due ... is connected only with my beliefs and deeds on matters of domestic politics; deeds I have no reason to disavow.”

The British claim that this right to pass on Italian government representative’s was given to the Allies in the armistice signed by Italy, a right which all the Allied powers have exercised. No wonder this armistice was never made public – it is reported to be harsher even than the peace signed between Russia and Finland, and Russia and Romania.

The outstanding fact to be remembered about Italy is that the Italian people want democratic rights which they have not yet achieved after a year of “liberation.” They want peace and bread. The peasants want land.

Economic conditions in Italy are frightful. The country faces starvation and destitution: The Italian people will not long stand for this kind of situation. American labor has a duty to them: support their every effort for freedom and economic security.

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