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Henry Judd

World Politics

(22 March 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 12, 22 March 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Italy’s Coming Elections

On April 18, within a month, the most crucial election in Italy’s history, and a decisive one in post-war European elections, will take place. It is expected that almost 25 million people out of the nation’s total population of 45 million will Vote. Labor Action will be increasingly concerned with the significance of this election. Meanwhile, we wish to describe primarily the facts and issues already existing.

The basic issue, of course, is largely determined by the world struggle between American and Russian imperialism. In an even sharper sense than last year’s municipal elections in France, which resulted in the startling de Gaullist victory, people will be voting for “the Russian party” (Stalinists), or “the American party” (Christian Democrats). All other parties are expected to be swamped by the two great political blocs now dividing Italy.

In the last general election (1946), the rightist bloc had a total of 1 million more votes than the Stalinist bloc – 10 million as against 9 million combined Stalinist and Socialist Party votes. The Stalinists alone received 4,200,000 votes – a little more than 20 percent of the total.

Much has changed since then. The Stalinists are no longer in the Resistance-born government. The “Cominform” has been created; a series of general strikes and wild adventures has shaken Italy; the Marshall Plan is nearing practical existence; Stalinism is driving full speed ahead for power over Italy; and American imperialism is determined that it shall not lose its strategic hold over the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Near East through a conquest of state power by the Stalinists.

Socialist Party Severely Split

Internally, the coalition government has long ceased to exist and an entirely rightist Christian Democratic government (with the exception of Saragat, extreme right-wing Socialist) heads the country. It is entirely dependent upon America and its future is committed to the working out of the Marshall Plan. Ideologically, the Vatican is its base and the Pope its chief election propagandist. It is waging a battle for the survival of the Italian bourgeoisie, landowning class, the Church and every social institution connected with status quo. Its social and political program is entirely reactionary, and its main appeal will be to the traditionally Catholic and conservative women of the country.

Meanwhile, one year ago, a sharp split took place in the Socialist Party between the two wings of Nenni (leading pro-Stalinist of the SP) and Saragat (leading Social Democrat of Italy). The essential cause of this split was the extreme pro-Stalinism of Nenni, who had made out of the party nothing but a subsidiary of the Stalinist machine. The split last year effectively prevented the Socialist Party from developing into a center “third force” similar to the Socialist Party in France, and is perhaps the major difference between the general situation in Italy and France. That section of the SP which followed Nenni is now an electoral bloc with the . Stalinists (known, of course, as the “Popular Front far Peace, Bread, and Work”). It is, completely Stalinized and Nenni, its leader, aspires to the same role of serving Stalinism in power as has been exercised by his fellow Socialists in Poland, Hungary and now Czechoslovakia.

The split-off Socialist Party of Saragat, in the meantime, has had a rapid evolution and has finally undergone a new split in February of this yea-r. Created out of diverse elements who joined together (for widely different reasons) against the Stalinist Nenni, it has failed to develop any cohesion or political unity. Saragat, supported by Matteoti, has become a full-fledged Social Democrat, a member of the Gasperi government and a leading advocate of the Marshall Plan. At its recent convention this party (Socialist Party of Italian Workers – PSLI) split into its Saragat wing and its left wing, made up of the Socialist Youth and others. A formal split took place, and the left wing walked out, to form the “Socialist Movement of Proletarian Unity,” with Socialist Unity as its newspaper. The Saragat Socialist Party, with 50 members of Parliament at present, will run independent candidates in the elections.

Youth Group Succumbs to Bloc

What of the new (the third) Socialist Party, created by the Socialist Youth? There is little available information about it, but what we do know (largely based upon accounts published in The Militant) is far from promising or hopeful. It originally split with the pro-Stalinist Nenni on the grounds that the Stalinists were nothing but reformists (at the time they participated in the coalition cabinet), who were holding back the Italian working class. The complete reversal of Stalinist tactics, their pseudo-militancy, etc., has confused the Socialist Youth who do not understand the. real nature of Stalinism. A large measure of responsibility for this failure to understand Stalinism falls upon the shoulders of certain of the Fourth Internationalists in Europe who, yielding more and more to Stalinism, can explain nothing.

Thus we have the absolute tragic news that this newly-founded socialist organization has decided to adhere to the Stalinist electoral “Popular Front for Peace, Bread and Work”! It is reported that they will not run their own candidates, but evidently will vote for the bloc – that is, the Stalinists! Politically, then, they meet with their former enemy Nenni once more! A political cretin named Marcel Rogier writes in the current issue of The Militant that the new party should differentiate itself politically from the Stalinist Front by “an energetic and patient campaign for expulsion from the Front of all individual capitalist elements, whose presence serves as an eternal alibi to the Stalinist leadership for restraining the fighting spirit of the masses.”

The familiar (and sickening) old tale! The Stalinist bloc is 6k, except a couple of capitalists (we wonder who?) in it. The Stalinists must be prevented from – taking power – no, capitulating to these capitalists! They must be “made” to take power! In country after country we see this shameful surrender to Stalinism by political bankrupts who desecrate each idea and conception of Trotsky.

From a revolutionary point of view, the Italian situation offers only dismal prospects. No independent force – independent, that is, of both Russia and America – exists. The parties of the left are under Stalinist domination – all other parties, including the Saragat Socialist Party, gravitate toward De Gasperi’s Christian Democrats – that is, the Pope and American imperialism. Next week we shall discuss the various possible outcomes of the election.

Masaryk’s Death

Jan Masaryk, who did more than his share in helping the new Stalinist dictatorship mount to power in Czechoslovakia, allegedly tossed himself out of a window last week. His suicide is more than the personal tragedy of this individual. Although the Stalinists were quite capable of murdering him (or anyone else, for that matter) it seems unlikely in this instance. The adverse publicity throughout the world has been felt by the Gottwald gang, still somewhat shaky from their rapid ascension to power, and, besides, they still had some use for Masaryk as their Foreign Minister.

Masaryk, a family symbol of the Czech democratic republic, took his life because he knew that all he represented, personally, ideologically, politically and socially, had come to a definitive end. The Czech capitalist bourgeoisie, former masters and rulers of the nation, are finished as a class. The social base – private property and ownership of industry – is gone. Dead as a social class, only individual capitalists and capitalist politicians of Masaryk’s type can survive. To survive, they must become part of the new administration – managers of nationalized industries, functionaries of the totalitarian state, hatchet men in the Czech Stalinist party, etc. The old order is gone, replaced by the brutal totalitarian dictatorship of Stalinism; in turn absorbed into the expanding empire of Stalin. Masaryk knew this. Western imperialism was impotent to rescue him. Having no stomach for a new exile, a new opposition, a new struggle, he opened the window and leaped. The new struggle that will arise in Czechoslovakia against the totalitarian state will not come from the old, compromised liberal politicians (Masaryk, Benes, etc.), but from the ranks of those Czech Trotzkyists who, unlike their fellow “Trotzkyists” in America of the Socialist Workers Party, refuse to give Stalinism their critical blessings (as has the SWP for several past weeks), the radical students who marched against the Stalinists, the workers who recognize what this new total state means, the intellectuals who understand that socialism is much more than “nationalized industry,” etc.

N.B. For those who wish to see the depths of political capitulation of the SWP (Cannonites) to Stalinism, we direct attention to the note on page 3 written by Paul G. Stevens in the current (March 15) issue of The Militant. This note is allegedly in reply to our criticsm of The Militant on this issue. No comment is necessary – just read it!

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