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M. Morrison

Anglo-American Masters
Grant a “Concession”

(17 March 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 11, 17 March 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Italian masses are certainly not shouting for joy at the concession granted to the Bonomi Government, by the British and American Governments, through the Allied Commission. From now on the Bonomi Government (not elected) will be able to pass its decrees and laws without first getting approval of the Allied Commission. It is also granted the right to appoint and receive Ambassadors to and from all Allied and neutral countries and deal directly with them without first asking permission of the AC. Control of the appointment of administrative officers, with the exception of those who have military importance, is relinquished by the Commission.

These concessions are of no real benefit to the Italian people and do not shift the actual power from the Allies to the Italian Government. They are indications, however, that the real masters of Italy, the American and British imperialists, must, up to a certain point, take into consideration the feelings both of the Italian people and the American and British masses.

As the primary reason for the concessions must be given the dissatisfaction and resentment of the Italian masses at the arbitrary rule of the foreign armies and the failure of the British and American Governments to alleviate their miserable lot. This resentment has reached a point where an effort must be made to prevent a serious clash between the Italians and the imperialist powers in control of Italy. It is this danger of a clash that explains Roosevelt’s recent decision to increase the food allotment to the starving people of Italy.

* * *

Roosevelt and Churchill are claiming to fight, under the banner of democracy and “freedom from want.” The millions of Italians living in that portion of Italy conquered by the Allies from Hitler’s army can testify before the whole world that they have experienced neither democracy nor freedom from want under the rule of Churchill and Roosevelt. To revive the faith which the Italian masses undoubtedly had in the imperialist democracies – a faith which they quickly lost – is now the aim of Roosevelt and Churchill.

Fear Workers in North

Another factor that explains the concession is the expectation of the retreat of the Nazi Army from the northern section of Italy where the large industrial centers, with their numerous working-class population, are located. The workers of Northern Italy are aware of the treatment their brothers received at the hands of the Allies and while this knowledge does not reconcile them to their terrible fate under the Nazi masters, it minimizes their zeal in fighting on behalf of the Allies. The concessions can be used as an argument by the agents of the Allies to assure the workers of Milan, Turin and other centers that the Allies really mean what they say about fighting for democracy and for “freedom from want.”

Then again, the move granting the Bonomi Government greater rights places more responsibility for keeping order on that Government, Roosevelt and Churchill fear a repetition of the events in Greece. Should it be necessary to keep the masses down by force, it will make a better appearance if the force is used by ap apparently independent Government.

* * *

Criticism of Churchill and Roosevelt in their own countries for their treatment of the Italian people is undoubtedly another factor in their decision to grant the Bonomi Government greater powers. To Roosevelt and Churchill the slogans of democracy and “freedom from want” are utilized to fool the masses. But the masses of people take these slogans seriously and want their realization.

The reaction of the British masses to the treacherous role played by British imperialism in Greece warned the rulers that the use of naked force involves danger to them. There has been a constant barrage of criticism levelled at the American and British Governments for their failure to root out the Italian fascists and to grant democratic rights to the Italian people. Roosevelt and Churchill hope to silence the critics by means of these minor concessions.

Bonomi Government

All the more are the representatives of American and British imperialism willing to make concessions because they know that the Bonomi Gov’t will be their willing tool. They can afford to give that government a great deal more power and still feel certain that they are controlling the power behind the scenes, What they fear is the action of the Italian masses who may take the reins of government in their own hands as soon as the industrial section is released from the grip of the Nazis. What they fear is that every concession they make will encourage the masses to go further.

In this lies their dilemma and it is not possible for the imperialists to extricate themselves. To rule solely with their armies creates tremendous dissatisfaction among the masses who are opposed to foreign masters more than to native ones. It also means to antagonize their own workers who believe in the legend that this war is being fought for democracy. On the other hand, to grant freedom and democracy to the masses in Europe means running the risk that they will take power into their own hands and freeze the imperialists out altogether.

That the American and British imperialists will yield to pressure both from the European masses and their own workers and grant more concessions than they have thus far given is very probable. But only up to the point where they see their interests immediately threatened by the danger of the workers’ taking power. When that point is reached all pretense of democracy will be thrown overboard and the imperialists will not hesitate to use all the force at their disposal – unless prevented by the decisive action of the American and English workers.

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