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Paul G. Stevens

Events on the International Scene

(16 February 1948)

From The Militant, Vol. 12 No. 7, 16 February 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Move to Outlaw Italian Partisans

Premier de Gasperi’s government last week issued a decree outlawing “all private associations of a military character” and providing “severe penalties” for anyone possessing arms or explosives. The decree was aimed at the National Association of Italian Partisans, controlled by the Stalinists and their allies in the Socialist Party led by Pietro Nenni. The press of the latter attacked the decree violently. But the officialdom of the partisans group formally declared that it would “limit itself in future to welfare work” and “would keep out of politics.”

The government move, which cautiously refrained from naming the organization aimed at, as well as the counter-move of the partisan leaders, which appears so accommodating, are in the nature of election maneuvers. The coming Italian elections are expected to mark an outbreak of the latent civil war. Neither the capitalist government nor the Stalinist leadership cherish the prospect. De Gasperi and Co. – because they haven’t got the military force to cope with an insurgent mass movement; the Stalinists – because they are not sure they will be able to control the workers. But neither is averse to capitalize on the threat for electioneering purposes.

British Unions Incensed over Attlee Wage-Freeze

Labor Prime Minister Attlee, following the crisis created by the devaluation of the French franc, proclaimed a new government policy freezing wages and appealing to the capitalists to “hold the line” on prices and profits. Since the government has no machinery to control the latter, the new policy means that the workers are again to bear the burden of the growing economic crisis.

The Trade Union Congress approached the government several weeks before for wage increases, since prices had long outdistanced wage scales. Attlee’s wage-freeze declaration is reported to have aroused great resentment in labor ranks. A serious clash between the unions and the Labor government is expected to result. The British workers, while adamant against any attacks on the government by the Tories, have grown increasingly restive with the Attlee policy. They placed the Labor Party in power because they wanted Socialism. Instead the labor government is busy trying to save capitalism. The union-government clash will thus serve to provide a vehicle for the workers resentment and may result in a political crisis.

C.P. Wins Important Local Election

An important local election in the working class suburb of Malakoff near Paris on Jan. 18 showed that the Communist (Stalinist) Party is holding its own, while the de Gaullists lost slightly. The Socialists and Catholics made small gains combining into a “Third Force” bloc.

The Stalinists received 6,283 votes or 48.1% as against 6,181 or 45.8% in 1947 and 6,931 or 48.3% in 1946. Comparative votes for the Socialists and Catholics were 2,427 or 18.5% as against 2,284 or 16.9% in 1947 and 5,064 or 36.3% in 1946; for the de Gaullists, 4,284 or 32.6% as against 4,888 or 36.2% in 1947 and 2,178 or 16.1% in 1946.

The defeat suffered by the Stalinists in the November–December strikes and the ensuing split in the General Confederation of Labor, controlled by them, has not reflected itself in the parliamentary field, these figures reveal. They also show that, while there is no rush of the petty bourgeoisie to the de Gaulle banner, the reactionary movement remains a serious threat.

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