from Eurocommunism (1978) edited by G R Urban
The emergence of Eurocommunism coincides with two major phenomena in the political and economic life of Europe: the disappearance of the Fascist dictatorships in Greece, Portugal and Spain; and an economic crisis of almost unprecedented dimensions. Indeed, the economic crisis is a political, moral and ideological crisis as well, calling in question those political and ideological structures which have provided the framework for life in Western Europe since the Second World War. It is clear that in the disappearance of the Fascist dictatorships a crucial part was played by internal factors, but it is no less clear that other factors of a more general and more international character also played a part. One of these was the weakening of North American imperialism and its inability to preserve its hegemony and control over Europe. It is common knowledge that the government of the United States, the American military-industrial complex, used the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese Fascist dictatorships as convenient tools for preserving their hegemony. I am not suggesting that these dictatorships were mere instruments; but I do believe that North American imperialism played an important part in prolonging their lives. This was certainly indisputable in the case of Spain, and few Spaniards would deny it.
It was the defeat of US imperialism in the Vietnam war that opened the way to certain changes in the international balance of forces, more particularly in Europe. It was this defeat which directly contributed to the replacement of the Fascist dictatorships by regimes based on universal suffrage and a respect for human liberty.
As for the economic crisis, we are not experiencing a mere repetition of the 1929-1930 depression; we are not experiencing a simple crisis of capitalism. The present crisis shows the capitalist system to be incapable of coping with the problems of modern life economic and social problems in the first place, but also the problem of extending democracy to all levels of the masses so that they may fully participate in national life, and that of finding a new relationship between mass civilisation and the environment.
This crisis of European society shows no signs of crystallising into the sort of desperation which led in the thirties to the rise of Fascism and the upsurge of the extreme Right in European politics. There are, of course, worrying symptoms, such as terrorism, behind which, in certain cases, we may discern the dark visage of those who would like to see Fascism restored. Nor can it be denied that here and there forces of the Right are increasing their electoral representation. But nevertheless the general tendency is to seek a progressive, left-wing solution of European problems. If the crisis is to be solved, there can be no simple return to the past.
At the root of the crisis lies, among other factors, the emergence of the ex-colonial world – countries which are rich in primary raw materials, not only oil (although this is of cardinal importance), thanks to which they can exercise an unprecedented influence on the world’s economy. The world crisis requires a new model of society. This is precisely what Eurocommunism offers, and if asked for a brief definition of Eurocommunism, I should say: Eurocommunism is a cluster of new theories, new political and strategic ideas which have arisen among a number of Communist parties, and which seek to give a new answer to the problems thrown up in the crisis of our time. It seeks to find ways of achieving the Socialist transformation of society by means of democratic methods, and of advancing towards a new Socialist society based on full respect for human liberties, on pluralism and on a better social deal for all. In brief, it seeks to end man’s exploitation by man. To put it another way, Eurocommunism aims at establishing a new relationship between democracy and the Socialist transformation of society.
Eurocommunism believes that in the industrially advanced society of Western Europe democracy is the only way in which capitalist society, dominated as it is today by the great monopolies and multinational companies, may be overcome. It believes that a Socialist system capable of replacing the present system must be a Socialism in which democracy shall find its most complete expression.
But is what the Eurocommunists say true? Are they sincere when they talk about ‘a new face of Communism’? Or is Eurocommunism a trick? Is it (as the British Foreign Secretary, David Owen, said recently) no more than ‘a Trojan horse’?
The odd thing about this argument is that it is used by two quite different opponents of Eurocommunism who have nothing in common. Let me explain. Soviet attacks (and under ‘Soviet’ I include also press campaigns in Czechoslovakia and other East European countries) make much of the suggestion that Eurocommunism is a sort of infernal machine invented and promoted by the imperialists in order to wreck the Communist movement. Yet at the same time, in official and semi-official statements reaching us from North America and other Western sources, Eurocommunism is depicted as a Machiavellian manoeuvre designed to let the wolf in sheep’s clothing penetrate the political bastions of capitalist democracy.
For an argument to be employed by two such contrasting parties at one and the same time is a rare and not unwelcome coincidence. What it means is that Eurocommunism, since it cannot be a manoeuvre in both these senses, is not a manoeuvre at all: it is something authentic, something new, something arising from the realities of Europe. It seeks to answer the crisis of Western society.
What are we Eurocommunists to say to those who accuse us of carrying out nothing more than a tactical manoeuvre? I believe that the best answer is to tell the simple truth, and the truth, which any bona fide student of history can check for himself, is that the Eurocommunist position is the outcome of a long process, a process of carefully thought-out political action, which has gradually taken shape along a complex and difficult path.
It seems to me therefore appropriate at this point to set out my opinion on the origins of Eurocommunism. I shall distinguish here between the more remote origins and those more immediate influences which have actually shaped current Eurocommunist thinking.
To begin with the more distant background, we must briefly remind ourselves of our points of departure. They arose, as is well known, at the end of the First World War, in the wake of the collapse of the Socialist International, which had up to then embraced and unified the various workers’ parties of Marxist ideology. During the First World War, the Socialist parties ranged themselves on the side of their respective governments and the international links were broken. The very idea of international solidarity between workers was blotted out.
Incipient Communist parties started to take shape in small groups at various conferences held in Switzerland and attended by Lenin, and their aim was to re-establish international links among the Socialist forces once the war was over. At these conferences Lenin called for the transformation of the imperialist war into a civil war. He was hoping to bring about the Socialist revolution in countries where the capitalist system was weakest.
Lenin’s dream became reality in Russia in 1917, where the routed Tsarist army turned into a revolutionary factor which contributed to the victory of the Bolsheviks. The Russian exemplar, the attack on the Winter Palace, Lenin’s theories, the Soviets, have provided the Communist parties with their ideological inspiration since their foundation to this day. Thus the Russian Revolution has acquired the status of a powerful myth which stimulates the revolutionary struggle and feeds the hopes of workers and of the exploited all over the world.
The achievements of the Russian Revolution were thrown into even sharper relief by the part played by Social Democracy, principally in Germany, in crushing the revolutionary movements which sought to transform German society after the fall of the Kaiser. The comparison between the triumphant revolution in Russia, and the prompt nipping of the revolutionary bud in Germany by the same Socialist leaders who headed the young Weimar Republic, contributed very largely to ensuring that the ‘Soviet model’ should be seen by the incipient Communist parties, and for a long period of their history, as the one and only viable model whereby capitalist society could be overthrown. it goes without saying that there was – perhaps from the very beginning – a certain contradiction between the objective conditions with which workers’ movements in western countries had to contend, and the adoption of the ‘Russian model’ as a doctrinal and political base for Communist parties.
If we examine the history of a number of Communist parties, we shall find, right at their very inception, interesting attempts which diverge from the ‘Russian model’ and the directives of the Communist International.
This is not the place to go into the matter in detail. I would simply underline the enormous theoretical value of the work of Antonio Gramsci who, in spite of his long years of imprisonment and the attendant difficulty of keeping in touch with the outside world, elaborated a number of new concepts which enabled Marxist analysis to accommodate itself far more successfully to the conditions obtaining in western society than could be hoped from the dictates of the Communist International.
Stalinism of course destroyed the Communist parties’ unorthodox initiatives, using repressive and often brutal methods. Certain phenomena of the Stalinist period have to be examined more closely, since they are not susceptible of simplistic or unilateral explanations. The Popular Front tactics, for example, clearly served the interests of the Soviet Union in getting as large a grouping of forces as possible to confront the threat which Hitlerism was beginning to represent for the Soviet régime itself. But there was something else besides. The practical application of Popular Front policies in France and, above all, in Spain, where for the first time in history it was found possible to have governments comprising men drawn from the Liberal, Nationalist, Socialist and Communist parties, provided original experience of a new type of co-operation which did not follow Soviet rules, but which seemed nevertheless appropriate to supersede capitalist society.
The experience gained by the Popular Front still influences us today; albeit remotely, it enshrines lessons which may be usefully studied by Eurocommunists. And if we are asked why the Communist Party of Spain has gone further than others in working out Eurocommunist attitudes, one possible answer will point to the fact that it was precisely the Communist Party of Spain which was the first to take part (on Republican territory during the Civil War) in governments with other parties, on a pluralist basis, in an atmosphere of free political debate. I am saying all this without forgetting the more negative facts such as the repression of the Trotskyites as the result of the transfer to Spain of Stalinism from the Soviet Union.
Another period which repays study is the period of coalitions after the Second World War – in France, Italy, Belgium and other countries – in which Communists co-operated in government with Socialists, Christian Democrats, Liberals and other anti-Nazi forces. Some parties at this stage even began to envisage the possibility of a democratic transition to Socialism. The process was cut short by the creation of the Cominform and the imposition of Stalinist totalitarianism, laying it down that there was one way and one way only to revolution – the Russian way.
I have quoted examples because I believe they reveal something profound and objective, namely, that the Communist movement in western Europe generated its own pressures for a type of political practice and strategy which is different from that dictated by the Third International under the impact of the Soviet model. It is important to recognise this if we are to see the phenomenon of Eurocommunism in its true perspective.
The eventual rupture with the Soviet model was greatly hastened by the 20th Soviet Party Congress. There Khruschev disclosed that Stalinism had been guilty, not only of criminal repression, but also of far-reaching deformations of Marxist theory which the Soviet system had tolerated. From 1956 onwards, the umbilical cord which had bound the Communist parties to the Soviet Union as their sole source of nourishment, was broken. Each party now began to work out its own approach to Communist theory and practice, until, after many ups and downs, successes and reverses,. true independence was attained by a number of Communist parties in western Europe.
When did Eurocommunism actually take off? It did so in 1968 and for two reasons. Firstly, the explosion in Paris in May 1968 put an end to the illusion that post-war neo-capitalism was well and thriving. West European ideology from the end of the Second World War to 1968 was based on the belief that capitalism had found a solution for its contradictions: that the Labour movement was being ‘integrated’ into capitalist society; that the economic boom had ruled out the Socialist revolution. But 1968 demonstrated, not only that the labour movement, far from being integrated, was still a militant force against capitalist exploitation, but that it was bringing to the surface fresh social forces equally opposed to the domination of monopoly-capitalism technicians, scientists, intellectuals, professional men – that is, those sectors of society whose number and influence show a steady growth as a result of the scientific-technical revolution.
Secondly, in Czechoslovakia, where the Prague Spring had shown itself to be a considered attempt to give Socialism a democratic basis, the Soviet invasion made the Western Communist parties realise with unprecedented force and urgency that they had to separate themselves off from the Soviets by rejecting the ‘Soviet model’. They recognised that they had to declare unequivocally for a Socialism which would be different from the Soviet system, because the latter had now shown itself to be ready, not only to suppress fundamental liberties, but also to take actions inimical to national independence, and contrary to the interests of the progressive movement and world revolution.
The Czechoslovak events made it imperative to examine far more critically than had been done before all that the Soviet model stood for and the reasons for its prestige in the Communist movement. It was necessary to analyse the whole character of Soviet society, to put an end to its myth, and to carry out a genuinely Marxist critique of the East European societies as well.
What has emerged as Eurocommunism is therefore a Marxist response, firstly, to the new realities in the capitalist countries of western Europe; and, secondly, to the Marxist critique of Soviet society and especially its negative aspects – its incapacity to be a model for the advance of Socialism in the world.
The process leading to Eurocommunism takes independent and autonomous forms and national characteristics of many kinds, particularly in the Communist parties of Italy, Spain and France, and to a certain extent in those of Japan, England, Belgium and Switzerland. Driven by the necessity to respond to concrete situations, these parties are forced to affirm their independence of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and to think for themselves. This in turn encourages the development of attitudes which have eventually crystallised into what we may call the fundamental concepts of Eurocommunism.
That this process has been diverse accounts for the fact that Eurocommunism cannot be considered to be a body of doctrines, still less an organisation. There is no Eurocommunist centre. There is no Eurocommunist organisation nor a Eurocommunist discipline. Hence some people leap to the conclusion that there is no such thing as Eurocommunism; that at most there are national phenomena, attitudes and postures proper to Italian, Spanish or French Communists. This way of looking at things misses the fundamental point: namely, that through a series of unrelated processes, Marxist thinking in a number of Communist parties has nevertheless converged towards positions which in many respects coincide. They coincide, above all, in the realisation that Socialism in Western societies is attainable only through the democratic process; and that the Socialism to which the workers and intellectuals in our countries aspire is a Socialism of liberty – a democratic Socialism. The great diversity of the ways which have severally converged on this central point reinforces the validity of my conclusion. It shows that we are not dealing with something fortuitous but with a natural upshot of our age.
Is Eurocommunism a deception to confuse our opponents? That at one time or another tactical considerations have played a part in the elaboration of Communist policies is clear. But the fact that a group of Communist parties – precisely those most deeply rooted in the masses of western Europe – should have arrived at closely coincident conclusions, and are now engaged in persuading their rank and file members and their sympathisers that the only way to Socialism is the democratic way – this cannot be a tactical move. It is a qualitatively new departure. It represents a new stage in Marxist thinking, a new phase in the development of the Communist movement, one that breaks with the myth of the Soviet model, with Stalinist totalitarianism and its consequences. It is a way of finding answers to the crisis of capitalism in an age of scientific-technical revolution which has posed problems unimaginable when the classics of Marxism were written.
Today the Communist movement is pluralistic. This pluralism does not derive from any sort of schism, with orthodoxy on one side and heresy on the other. It derives, above all, from the variety of objective conditions in which the revolutionary movement has lately evolved, and from the continuing inability of Marxism to answer the internal problems of those societies which have destroyed capitalism but have not been able to progress beyond ‘primitive Socialism’. It derives from the contradictions posed by the survival of the State – not to say the increasing part played by the State – in such countries as China and the USSR, even after the disappearance of capitalist property relations.
In this diversified Communist movement, Eurocommunism is beyond doubt one of the main currents. It represents needs felt by a large part of both manual and intellectual workers in the world’s largest concentration of industrial, technological and scientific manpower.
Some commentators treat Eurocommunism as a return of sorts to Social Democracy. This approach falls into the serious error of drawing comparisons without taking into account differing historical contexts. It is clear that Eurocommunism centres its present strategy on respect for the rules of democracy; it expresses the conviction that it is through universal suffrage that historical change must be brought about. Taking this as our starting point it is tempting to make a comparison with the Second International’s trust in the power of the ballot box (‘electoralism’), which had the consequence that in none of the countries where parties belonging to the Socialist International formed governments was capitalism destroyed, because the revolutionary drive for Socialism fizzled out in office. Eurocommunism’s aim is exactly the opposite: it is to supersede capitalism, albeit by democratic means, in order to end the exploitation of man by man, and to create a Socialist society as a basis for the rapid advance to Communism.
Today the objective conditions for a democratic advance towards Socialism are completely different from what they were in the first decades of this century. Eurocommunism duly reflects the conditions created in our society by the scientific-technological revolution, and the extraordinary growth of social forces which have an interest in ending capitalist exploitation. It is not only the working classes, exploited as they are by capitalism, that are interested in building Socialism; they are joined in this by broad strata of scientists and technicians, members of the professions and intellectuals – in a word, those sections of society which the Spanish Communists call the ‘forces of culture’. These people have come into conflict with capitalist domination, not only because more and more of them are, in fact, wage-earners, but because there is a contradiction between the mentality demanded by their scientific and cultural creativity, and the fact that they have to submit to decisions taken by capitalists, whose only law is the maximisation of profits. This is a new factor with enormous potential for the democratic advance towards the Socialist transformation of society.
The case of the small and medium businessmen is similar. This stratum has undeniable ideological links with bourgeois society and is traditionally conservative and conformist in its attitudes. And yet members of this class often find themselves in deep conflict with the interests of monopoly-capital. Many small businessmen, managers and industrialists are in fact salaried staff whose ‘salaries’ are the bank-credits extended to them. Such openings as they have for ‘private enterprise’ are decreasing. For them, the prospect of a gradual advance towards Socialism under conditions of coexistence between a public sector directed by the democratic organs of society, and a private enterprise sector, appears much more promising than a continuation of the present state of affairs in which they find themselves more and more subjugated by an oppressive oligarchy. Thus, in this sector too, a growing number of people support the democratic way to Socialism. I want to emphasise here that our attitude to the middle classes, to the small and medium sized businesses, is not a tactical manoeuvre. We are persuaded that services and the provision of certain goods must rely at present – as they have done in the past – on private enterprise. A Socialism which did not take this into account would impose on the public a drop in its standard of living, since only private enterprise can satisfy a whole string of mass necessities. It would be a Socialism with precious little room in it for public acceptance.
But our concept of Socialism is not exhausted by the proposition that it must end capitalist exploitation. It tries to provide answers to a whole series of problems which have arisen in the wake of the scientific-technical revolution, and others which have acquired unprecedented urgency and cannot be solved in a society guided by the principle of capitalist profit-making.
Take the problem of women’s liberation. This is not a new one, but it is surely evident that thanks to recent scientific discoveries, modern contraceptives, and so on, this problem appears to us in a different light from the way it appeared to our predecessors. Capitalist society requires woman to be inferior to man. This means that women not only serve as a reserve labour force, but also carry out their unpaid task of reproducing the labour force via the family. Ideologically, woman’s reduction to an inferior status in the home is a necessary precondition of keeping alive that attitude of submission and conformity which is typical of the bourgeois family. The success of the fight for the liberation of women implies the transformation of society in a Socialist direction. That is not to say that the end of capitalism will in itself mean equality for women. The feminist struggle will have to continue in Socialist society too, since the roots of discrimination antedate the growth of class society, and will only be torn up by a far-reaching cultural revolution.
Let me now consider the problem of urbanisation, the despoliation of wide tracts of land in the advanced industrial countries, and the destruction of the ecological balance. If we are to solve these problems it is imperative that economic development be planned and controlled, not in order to maximise profits, but as an act of public morality. Furthermore, the new vistas of permanent or recurrent education presuppose an ethos different from that governing modern capitalist societies; an ethos of democracy and Socialism, which will ensure that the masses, the people, become the real beneficiaries of history.
If Engels could speak at the close of the nineteenth century of the revolution of majorities in different countries, Eurocommunism presents itself to us today as a way of achieving a policy of broad consensus on a world scale: a revolution of the majority of mankind which must lead humanity to a higher form of civilisation, based not on private profit, not on capital, not on the exploitation of man by man, but on a type of collective society in which the individual’s self-realisation means at the same time his conscious participation in the historical process. It is in this sense that Eurocommunism postulates a revolution conceived in and brought forth by the masses – a full and authentic democracy which will extend to the economic sphere: it will guarantee, first, an advance towards Socialism, then the realisation of Socialism and, ultimately, Communism itself.
Another characteristic of Eurocommunism is the distance it has put between itself and the Soviet type of Socialism. This is not the place to recount the history of the reasons and processes whereby the first Socialist revolution in the history of the world turned into an authoritarian régime, a despotism in which power resides undemocratically in the hands of a small nucleus. The upshot is a contradiction between the letter of the Socialist principle that the workers are the masters of the State, and the actual Soviet practice which means that the labouring masses, if not exploited in the same way as they are in capitalist countries, nevertheless lack liberty and are alienated – in some ways even oppressed – so that the State in the Soviet Union retains many of the typical features of the capitalist State. This State is used by a minority, which has equipped itself with certain blatant privileges, to rule over the great mass of the people.
Two of the decisive causes of this strange process were Russia’s low level of productive capacity at the time of the 1917 October Revolution and, immediately thereafter, the imperialist intervention which forced the infant Soviet power to have recourse to centralised management and force used as a means of centralised State policy. What is not in doubt is that the very nature of the national and international matrix in which the capitalist system was for the first time overthrown, made it inevitable that many of the features inseparable from a truly Socialist system existed in the Soviet Union only in its initial stages. After these initial stages the Soviet Communist Party, whose role was to lead the workers as their political spearhead in their struggle against what remained of the past and in the dialectical advance towards a superior form of society – this Communist Party was practically absorbed by the State and integrated into it; it became part of the State apparatus. Perhaps the most obvious characteristic of Stalinism in the theoretical domain, in its distortion of Marxism, is the decisive role it conferred upon the State. Stalinism is a policy which gives the State absolute power and makes the State the shaper of the new society. We all know what practical results this policy led to!
Even though Soviet repression is no longer as massive or as bloody as it was in Stalin’s day, the theory and practices of the State are still imbued with a strong dose of Stalinism. For example, it is very hard to believe that in a world in which a powerful and widespread demand for democracy exists elections can be held in the Soviet Union with candidates polling over 99.9 per cent of the votes – elections, moreover, which by their very nature cannot serve to represent the opinion of the people and merely discredit those who persist in arranging them. As for the theoretical domain, it is clear that (apart from certain steps in this direction taken after the 20th and the 22nd Congresses between 1956 and 1960) no genuine historical investigation is permitted; indeed the very concept is proscribed. In the Soviet Union history, too is an ideological and political instrument, subject to the interests and whims of a small number of leaders. The fact that in the country which originally proclaimed Marxism as its official ideology – that is to say, a materialist conception of history — contemporary history should be thus reduced to a mere matter of personal rule, to the status of an instrument to be used in the service of political ends, is a most serious indictment.
Thus, without denying the achievements of the Soviet Union in education, health-care and so on, starting as it did from the Asiatic backwardness of Tsarist Russia, we members of Communist parties who for many years presented the Soviet Union as the model of a more humane, more free and just society, find ourselves compelled to carry out a Marxist critique of the Soviet State – a State which is neither Socialist nor democratic, and which fails to meet our basic requirement – that Socialism shall represent a transitional stage towards Communism.
In Communism, the State as a political entity, as a coercive force, is destined to vanish. It is obvious that as long as there exist capitalist states in the world, it would be wishful thinking or plain suicide to think of dismantling the State in those parts of the world where capitalism has disappeared. The problem is not that the State has not disappeared in the Soviet Union. The problem is that the so-called Socialist State in the Soviet Union retains non-democratic features – authoritarianism, negation of liberties etc. – which often compare unfavourably with conditions existing in capitalist countries where the masses have been able to win for themselves an important degree of political democracy. (Incidentally, the problem of the withering away of the State is now being tackled via an interesting new concept of pluralism in Socialist Yugoslavia.)
For Eurocommunism the problem poses itself in completely different terms. The central issue thrown up by conditions in the industrially advanced capitalist countries is the ever-sharpening tendency on the part of monopoly-capitalism to reduce the scope and effectiveness of democracy, and to obstruct the will of the electorate vis-A-vis major political options. Even ignoring the occasional throw-back to the violence and terrorism of Fascism, it is obvious that the political structures of many western countries exhibit a tendency to reinforce the role of executive organs and of the top echelons of the bureaucracy to the detriment of Parliament, that is to say of the organ directly elected by the people. This shows a degeneration of some of the principles which triumphed in the period of what might be called the ‘zenith’ of liberal democracy of the British type. At the same time, on the managerial level, we can observe an increasing remoteness of managers and other decision-makers from the mass of those who do the work – not just from the working class, but also from a widening sector of brain workers, technicians, scientists and so forth.
The tendency of monopoly-capital to put decision-making into the hands of a small number of key people clashes with the need for democracy, freedom and creativity. The whole productive process shows a striking rise in the input of scientific and technological brainpower, and this implies a correlative need for free human creativity in the political sphere as well. The need for liberty and democracy has acquired a meta-political dimension.
Thus Eurocommunism corresponds to, and is the political expression of, a phenomenon which has its roots in the advance of productive forces generated by the scientific-technological revolution.
Many of the problems which were, in their day, the direct cause of the break between Socialists and Communists, lie today on a different plane. In view of this, it is urgently necessary for the European Left as a whole to tackle these new problems in a spirit of free debate, without prejudice and untrammelled by past experience, in order to delimit as concretely as possible those sectors in which Communists and Socialists can join forces in common action, and those in which there remain substantial differences between them. The debate should be open towards the future; it should sketch out a pluralistic way forward along which Communists, Socialists, Social Democrats and all those of Christian and liberal inspiration who are agreed on the necessity for the structural transformation of society on Socialist lines can advance towards the creation of a new Europe.
We Eurocommunists are still searching our own consciences with regard to a series of deformations which affected us during one stage of our career. We are looking and working for a new model of society, a new and democratic way towards Socialism; a pluralist way; a vision of Socialism in a state of freedom.
At the same time, we hold it to be important that the Socialist and Social Democratic parties of Europe should search their own consciences. After all, in no country governed by Socialists or Social Democrats has the capitalist system been transformed. The realisation of this failure is stimulating a process of critical self-appraisal within the French and Italian Socialist parties, the Swiss Social Democrats, and also in some sectors of the British Labour Party and the German Social Democrats. It is a process which could have important consequences.
Western Europe is gripped by a crisis of unprecedented dimensions. Enormous technical and economic potential exists side by side with a disarray in labour relations and signs of an unmistakable political and moral degeneration. Western Europe sharply underlines the need to find a new democratic way towards a Europe of the peoples, a Europe of workers – a Socialist Europe. We Eurocommunists consider ourselves part of this process, a part, moreover, which can open up new horizons on the European plane, and perhaps even internationally.
There is, then, a Eurocommunist way of looking at things; and no doubt there are different shades within it – French, Italian, Spanish Communist ways of assessing the problems of inter-European relations and relations between the West European states.
We are, as Eurocommunists, favourably disposed towards the unity of Western Europe. We believe that Spain must become a member of the EEC. And the task we have set ourselves is to combat the domination exercised on the European economy by the big monopolies and the multinational companies. This we propose to do, not on the fringes of the Common Market structures as problems arise and take shape, but at their very heart — democratising them, increasing the representation and the influence of the Trade Unions, and furthering the process of Trade Union unity on a European scale. Similarly, we shall seek new ways of uniting workers in the multinational companies, ways which will promote vis-A-vis the power of the monopolies the growth of worker organisations capable of leading to working-class action on the international level – the level on which the multinational companies operate.
We regard the election of the European Parliament by universal suffrage as an important step forwards. As Spain is unlikely to be a full member of the EEC at the time of the European Parliamentary elections it seems to us indispensable that a special formula should be worked out whereby the Spanish people can take part in the election, and their elected representatives will be allowed to sit, under whatever title, in the Parliament. It would be strange if, at the moment when Spain has started out on her democratic path after so many years when ‘Liberty for Spain’ was the banner under which all the democratic forces in Europe marched – if at that moment the first European Parliament were to be elected by universal suffrage leaving out Spaniards! And doubly strange if we consider that a great many Spaniards live and work in other European countries. If anybody can be called European it is these workers. They live in two countries – the one they work in and their homeland to which they remain bound by family, political and cultural ties. By what authority could these workers be deprived of the right to vote in the elections of the first European Parliament?
Furthermore, we Spanish Communists consider it necessary that the process towards the unity of Western Europe should have a political dimension shaped by democratic considerations which I have already mentioned. And this implies, although the matter has not yet reached the stage where it could be given concrete expression, joint European defence.
Coming now to the question of relations between Europe and the rest of the world, Eurocommunism is against Euro-centrism. We recognise the new and important role which the former colonies are now playing in the world. We even tend to think that a Western Europe in which the hegemony of the workers is assured would be in a good position to initiate a new type of relationship with the Third World, one which would be unburdened by any residue from the colonial or neo-colonial past. We have to put an end to the reactionary notion of ‘aid’. We have to realise that economic growth in the Third World is today a condition favouring growth in our own industrially advanced countries. This new way of looking at things demands a corresponding political attitude. It must have nothing to do with the logic of capitalist profits.
As things are today it would, of course, be wishful thinking to imagine that anything of the sort could be initiated in the United States where the forces of the Left, indeed all progressive forces, are weak. Western Europe, on the other hand, has not only the economic, scientific and technical potential, but is also at an advanced stage of political thinking which makes it possible for West Europeans to envisage the hegemony of workers and intellectuals as a realistic possibility. It is therefore capable of developing new solutions for the world’s problems. It is capable of finding a new approach for restructuring the relationships between North and South, between the developed and the undeveloped or insufficiently developed countries. And it is precisely because Eurocommunism represents in some ways the attitudes of the labouring masses of the South who want to play a bigger role in Europe as a whole, that we consider that the prospect of marking out a new relationship with the Third World very largely depends on the acceptance by western Europe of our democratic and pluralist programme towards Socialist solutions.
A question that seems to bother many commentators is: How is it possible that Eurocommunism can be the object of attacks and criticisms – often couched in very similar terms – by both North American imperialism and the Soviet Union? There is no simple answer; many factors play a part. But one of them – perhaps the most important – is that, in international relations, Eurocommunism offers a choice which lies outside the two great military blocs which divide Europe. One might even say that Eurocommunism is the only European option which lies outside the two blocs.
Our view is that a united Europe must be an independent Europe, independent as much of the United States as of the Soviet Union – a Europe with its own autonomous policies with regard to all international problems. The Europe we want will co-operate in a spirit of friendship with the Soviet Union as much as with the United States and with China. The Europe to which we aspire will be a basic factor, alongside the powerful and now fully grown movement of the non-aligned countries, in the struggle to overcome the present bipolarity of the world. This bipolarity is beginning to weaken. Of course, we do not deny that it is important for the human race as a whole that the two super-powers, who hold in their hands the means of wiping out the human race, should maintain relations with each other and ward off the threat of a nuclear holocaust by affirming the principle of peaceful coexistence. But bipolarity tends to inhibit the fruitful discussion of certain highly important questions, especially that of disarmament. The security of the world’s peoples must not continue to depend on the ‘balance of terror’. What we need is the democratisation of international relations in which the small and medium sized states will play an increasingly important role.
Eurocommunism’s approach to a united Europe can be an important contribution to giving peaceful coexistence a much-needed shot in the arm, to breaking up the log-jam of international problems, to reinforcing the independence of all countries, and strengthening the growing tendencies all over the world for peoples to take their destinies into their own hands and decide for themselves in democratic fashion how they want to live and what sort of régime they want now and in the future.
Eurocommunism is paying a great deal of attention to formulating its theoretical infrastructure. The Communist Party of Spain has devoted a good deal of effort to this task. We are, of course, well aware that we have not been able to do more than scratch the surface, and that there exists today a rich terrain for Marxist investigation, both in respect of the analysis of the newly emerging characteristics of the capitalist economy, and in respect of the study of the problem of the State as it is found in the industrially advanced countries of the capitalist world – a State which differs in many of its characteristics from the State studied in his day by Marx or by Lenin in his. We are concerned with stimulating the free theoretical analysis of all these problems along Marxist lines.
In the field of the international ideological struggle, we note that an offensive has been launched against Marxism by people whose ambition appears to be to revive the principles of anarchism and irrationalism; in some cases we even see a wilful return to nihilist fanaticism which is used to justify acts of terrorism carried out for the most part by the blackest forces of reaction. It is for this reason that we believe that a Marxist theoretical counteroffensive would be in the interests of the labour and progressive movements. ‘Offensive’ does not mean repeating slogans and catchwords – exactly the opposite. What we need to do is to deepen our analytical method and perfect our thinking.
One most serious question confronts us: Marxism has suffered a substantial degeneration precisely in those countries where it has been made the official ideology. After the death of Lenin the word ‘Leninism’ was used as an instrument of legitimation and as a watchword by the various factions which sought to gain or retain control of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It was not long before Leninism was turned into ‘Marxism-Leninism’ by Stalin. During the thirties the official doctrine came to be called ‘Marxism-Leninism-Stalinism’. This process of degeneration reduced Marxism to a congeries of dogmas, of ‘absolute’ truths, with a Holy Office appointed to watch over its enforcement. In reality, this Soviet Holy Office was one man; and ultimately the stage was reached when Stalin’s writings could be presented as the last word on subjects as varied as linguistics and biology. These utterances not only purported to be absolute truths; they were supposed to be the absolute truth on every question. This sort of Marxism-Leninism claimed the prerogative of imposing a totalitarian philosophy on all fields of thought. This was the doctrine of monolithic Communism.
Unfortunately, relics of this monolithic Communism, this parody of Marxism as a collection of dogmas, still haunt ‘Soviet Marxism’ and certain theories which the Communist Party of the Soviet Union feels itself called upon officially to defend. The same goes for a group of other Communist parties which continue to regard as Holy Writ anything emanating from the Soviet Union.
The idea is fostered in the Soviet Union that there exists such a thing as a definitive corpus of Marxism-Leninism. This corpus is duly condensed in a Soviet publication entitled ‘Manual of Marxism-Leninism’, a text which is compulsory reading in the schools and universities of the Soviet Union and of certain other countries, and is treated with the force of a catechism. A recent series of Soviet attacks aimed at various theories espoused by the Communist Party of Spain goes to show that there are still people around who regard themselves as spokesmen of a Holy Office, and thereby empowered to pronounce sentence of excommunication on those whom they consider to be ‘heretics’. Excommunication of this sort has very little effect beyond the confines of the text announcing it.
It is now many years since the Communist Party of Spain took important steps – especially after the 20th Congress and the denunciation of Stalinism – to expunge whatever remained of Stalinism in its thought processes and political actions. Eurocommunism reflects a break with Stalinism and its sequel, both in theory and practice.
It is clear from our daily policies and from the internal working and make-up of our Party that we impose no obligatory philosophy, we make no moral stipulations. For us, it is completely logical that diverse cultural currents should co-exist within the Communist Party.
As regards religious faith, there is today within the Communist Party of Spain no difference between a Communist who has religious faith and one who has not. The two attitudes involved are equally Communist. The leadership of the Spanish Communist Party – indeed the Central Committee itself – includes members who are well-known figures in the Catholic world.
This is no mere eclecticism – much less a return to revisionism h la Bernstein. It is an education of our thought processes up to the point at which they can adequately cope with current problems, and a retrieval of the most essential scientific and methodological and, by this very token, revolutionary truths of Marxism.
Marxism represents a great revolution in human thinking. It represents the discovery of a new method of tackling the problems of man’s chequered history; it is the science of history and of historical change and, hence, the science of revolution.
Leninism represents the ideology and political practice which led Russia in 1917 to the world’s first Socialist revolution. The historical importance of this revolution, the first to overthrow a capitalist régime and launch the process of transforming the world in a Socialist direction, cannot be belittled. It was in the fire of this experience that our Communist parties were born. Of course, the doctrinal corpus of Leninism is, as one would expect, conditioned by the historical epoch and environment in which Lenin worked. But it is our belief that Lenin’s insights have a validity going beyond Russia. We believe that Leninist thought has valid implications for us today. When we Spanish Communists study Lenin’s work we find in it a very rich fount of inspiration for the formulation of our own theories and policies. But we will not treat Lenin as a once-and-for-all Absolute. It is our contention that there are others who can take their due places beside Lenin – such as Rosa Luxemburg, Mao Tse-tung and above all Gramsci. They too can serve as sources of inspiration and experience so necessary to modern Marxist thought.
Therefore, at the 9th Congress of the Communist Party of Spain, we changed the wording we had hitherto used to define our Party: we renounced the formula describing ourselves as a ‘Marxist-Leninist’ Party or a ‘Leninist’ Party. We shall no longer identify Leninism as the fountainhead of our inspiration. We have defined the Communist Party of Spain as ‘a revolutionary Marxist Party’, a democratic Party, a Party whose methods draw their inspiration from Marxism and from whatever continues to be valid in the thought of Lenin and other revolutionaries.
The Communist Party of Spain considers the October Revolution to be part of its patrimony, and the same goes for the other Socialist revolutions which have liberated peoples. But at the same time we reject bureaucracy and Stalinism as developments alien to Marxism. Anti-democratic attitudes of this sort have been responsible for serious setbacks to the progress of revolutionary Marxism among workers in the advanced capitalist countries. We Spanish Communists have by our own critical efforts successfully surmounted the Stalinist stage and recovered the democratic and anti-bureaucratic essence of Marxism.
Thus we totally reject any and every dogmatic reading of Marxism. In the theses presented to the 9th Congress, the Communist Party of Spain affirmed unequivocally that ‘Marxism is scientific in character, not dogmatic’. We Spanish Communists will spare no effort to enhance our ability to prove ourselves equal to social change, to the new world opened up by science, to the lessons of revolutionary practice. We want to assimilate in a spirit of constructive criticism every new development in the evolution of Marxism. It is my opinion that this new approach (new – though at the same time it respects the deepest truths of Marxism) to the problems raised pari passu with the development of our theory, reflects the depth and the authenticity of the phenomenon called Eurocommunism.
Urban One of the surprises of the last Italian elections was your candidacy for the Chamber of Deputies on the Communist platform. Your decision to run for election in support of Communist policies was received with a mixture of horror and disbelief, not least because you were one of Italy’s two Commissioners on the Brussels Commission and a leading European Federalist. Those not familiar with the intricacies of Italian Communist politics had reason to be puzzled. Has the PCI sufficiently changed its attitude to Europe for Altiero Spinelli to embrace it, or has Altiero Spinelli changed his politics because the Italian Communists appeared to be set for victory? In either case, there were questions to be asked, both in respect of your attitude to the Communist Party and of the Party’s attitude to the policies you represent. What made you decide to run on the Communist ticket?
Spinelli My mandate at the European Commission was about to expire when the elections were announced (it expired at the end of 1976); and as I was close to 70, I decided to return to Italy and retire from public life. In the meantime, I was keeping a close watch on the Italian situation, and expressed my views in a number of articles and interviews. The brunt of these was that Italy was drifting away from the European Community and that only a coalition of all political forces could stop the drift. I saw that the Communist Party had gone through a certain evolution in its internal policies, and I was persuaded that the Party’s offer of a ‘historical compromise’ was both right and feasible. It was right not only from the European point of view, but it was also an essential step toward creating a consensus without which Italy could not overcome its economic crisis or restore the authority of law and orderly government. Without the Communists, I argued, no Italian government could be strong enough to make democracy work. I also observed that the Communist attitude to Europe as displayed in the Council of Europe showed a certain progress towards accepting the idea of European unification.
When the elections were announced, the Communist Party and also the Christian Democrats felt that they ought to broaden the bases of their respective parties by obtaining the support of certain independent politicians who understood and were willing to support their programme, without, however, either becoming Party members or identifying themselves in every case with the line of the Party. The Christian Democrats ‘co-opted’ Umberto Agnelli, offering him a safe seat in Parliament, and on the Left I was one of several persons to whom the Communists made a similar offer. I accepted this on the understanding that would not belong to the Communist group in Parliament, that I would vote independently, and speak with complete freedom on any issue I chose. There was a certain risk in all this for the Communists. But they felt confident that as we saw eye to eye with one another on most points of general policy, the risk was worth taking.
Urban What were these points of general agreement?
Spinelli That the Party was committed to democracy; that the idea of an ‘historical compromise’ was seriously meant and would be respected; that European unification was to be supported and the country’s present position in the East-West equilibrium maintained.
On all these points we reached agreement. The result is that I am indeed outside the Communist parliamentary group, but by virtue of my support of the Communist platform I can influence the Party’s policies in those areas which matter tome most – its policies on Europe. I do not think I am boasting when I say that the Party has, in fact, adopted the line which I had sought and supported for many years, especially the need to transcend economic unification and move towards a European political union. I put it to the Party leaders that political union could only be achieved if all political forces in Europe willingly agreed to work for it. For the European Left, however, political union was a divisive issue in most countries. If this could be overcome, the Left might take the lead in guiding Europe to political union and shape that union according to its own lights. I therefore urged the Party leaders that the Party should get out of the Communist ghetto and establish workable relations with the European Social Democrats so that political unification would bear the imprint of broadly Socialist policies.
Urban It was on this understanding that you ran for election and were in fact elected.
Spinelli Yes, and our understanding on these points has so far not been disturbed.
But, of course, there is another point here. News of my decision to contest the elections from a Communist platform caused a minor sensation at the time. Many people were unwilling to believe it, others were profoundly scandalised, including some of my colleagues in the European Commission. I was subjected to a number of interviews in the press, on radio and television and, as one might expect, the recurrent theme of questioning was: could the Communists be trusted? Would they keep faith, seeing that the historical record showed them to be saying one thing before they were in office and quite another when they have attained office? I should imagine your own thoughts run along similar lines.
Urban They do.
Spinelli My answer to this is as follows. The Italian Communist Party has been part and parcel of our political life for more than half a century. It is an organic element of our political thinking and political culture. For good or for ill (and I will not prejudge the issue) it is physiologically and psychologically a large part of Italian reality. It may well be that it will be the death of us, but if so, it will destroy us in exactly the same sense as any other political force might – through ineptitude, poor leadership, corruption and so forth – but not because it is a Trojan horse that will disgorge Soviet warriors once it is within the walls of Rome.
Now, this Party was formed under the impact of the Bolshevik revolution. Its avowed objective was to seize power and turn Italy into a dictatorship of the proletariat. The Communist Party was to lead the revolution and head the dictatorship. This was Lenin’s prescription and practice in Russia in 1917, and the Italian Communist Party was founded on this model. Moreover, the Italian Party, as a member of the Comintern, took its orders from Moscow, and behaved in its unquestioning obedience to Stalin as the Jesuits obey the orders of their Generals – perinde ac cadaver (with cadaver-like obedience). Togliatti was an important leader of the Comintern, so that the Party’s obedience had an extra guarantee in the person of one of Stalin’s cardinals. This was the ideological and organisational basis on which the Italian Party began to function.
But if you look at the record of the Italian Communist Party you will find that at no time did the Party actually pursue antidemocratic, anti-liberal policies. Mind you, this was not for any lack of trying. Our Communists owe their good record to the political conditions into which they happened to be born: from the very beginning they were forced into opposition to Fascism and had eventually to go underground.
Urban — Shouldn’t we, at the same time, remember the Party’s common roots with Fascism, both having sprung from the Socialist Party of which Mussolini was one of the leaders?
Spinelli This is certainly true. But the only historically significant connection between Fascism and Socialism is that Fascism was a degenerate form of Socialism; and so in fact was Hitler’s National Socialism —
Urban — of which we have telling proof in the presence, in the late 1920s, of left-wing revolutionary groups in or on the fringes of the Nazi Party, such as Otto Strasser’s Union of Revolutionary National Socialists and the National Bolsheviks. In the 1920s it was not always clear whether Nationalism or Socialism predominated in Hitler’s thinking. Goebbels, who served his Nazi apprenticeship in Otto Strasser’s Revolutionary National Socialist faction, demanded in 1925 that ‘the petty bourgeois Adolf Hitler’ be removed from the Party!
Spinelli The point that matters for the purposes of my argument is that the Italian Communists were forced into illegality and fought Fascism with more determination than any other party; and when the political parties were dissolved by Mussolini, the Communist Party became the centre of the entire Italian Resistance. Eighty per cent of all political prisoners were Communists – not unnaturally, I might add, because they were the ones who took most of the risks. In their rhetoric the Communists stuck to the line that their struggle was not only against Fascism, but against ‘the rule of the bourgeoisie’, of which, they claimed, Fascism was but one of the symptoms. But the fact was that they were in alliance with several other parties and individuals who were also opposed to the Fascist dictatorship but were determined not to be dragged into another dictatorship after the fall of Fascism. This inhibited the Communist Party’s radicalism: the dictatorship of the proletariat never got off to a start. One of the first things Togliatti said after his return from Moscow – and it was a great surprise to all – was that the Italian Communists must work within the context of parliamentary democracy and cooperate with other political forces. We might as well, he said, start with Badoglio; and they did! After the first post-war elections, in which the Communists came third, the Party took full part in hammering out what was after all a bourgeois Constitution. Indeed the veteran Communist Umberto Terracini was at one stage President of the Constituent Assembly. Not only that, but the Communists also voted for Article 7 of the Constitution, retaining Mussolini’s Concordat with the Vatican. For this they were bitterly attacked by the Socialist Party and other parties on the democratic Left. But I would say with the benefit of hindsight that the Communist vote was an act of great political wisdom. The Communists could have prevented the Concordat from being retained in the Constitution, because without them the Constitution would not have received the requisite majority. But this would have meant war between the incipient Republic and Italian Catholic opinion. The Communists rightly felt that the peace of the state was more important than a controversial decision on the merits and demerits of the Concordat. In time, they must have thought, they might change it, but their first priority was not to prejudice but to build up what was inevitably a bourgeois democratic republic.
Urban Mussolini, with his strongly anti-clerical background had reached his decision to make his peace with the Vatican on similarly ‘pragmatic’ grounds. And he, like the Communists in 1946, had been attacked for it by his own ‘revolutionary’ left.
Spinelli Yes – what one has to remember is that in Italy, unlike Poland for example, the Church has been a force against national unity. The unification of Italy was achieved in the teeth of the Pope’s opposition. Rome had to be occupied before Italy could be united. At the same time, the Italian people’s religious loyalties to Catholicism were, and are, strong, and the Church, on its part, has always known how to live in relative harmony with different regimes. It recognised Fascism, but exacted as a quid pro quo the Concordat from Mussolini. When the Republican Constitution was drawn up, the Church’s attitude to the new state was unchanged: ‘We’ll respect your institutions if you honour the Concordat’. And the Communists were prudent enough to see that it was imperative under the given conditions to underwrite the Concordat – it was proof that they were not bent on disruption and revolution. Had they been so minded, they would have sabotaged the Constituent Assembly, wrecked the Constitution, and invested their energies in creating the maximum amount of tension and disorder.
Urban All this may be clear to us 30 years after the event, but at the time it was far from being obvious. 1945-48 were the years of the Stalinist take-over of the whole of East and Central Europe. Everywhere the arrival of ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ was preceded by honeyed words about the Communist Party’s democratic parliamentary intentions.
The great national task facing our country cannot be solved by either the Communist Party or by any other party alone. The Communist Party holds that it does not have a monopoly, and it does not need a monopoly, to work among the masses for the reconstruction of the new nation. The Communist Party does not approve of the idea of a one-party system. Let the other parties operate and organise as well.
These words were spoken before the 1945 elections by Ernö Gerö — the same man who became one of Hungary’s most ruthless and most hated leaders when the Communist Party took monopolistic power in 1947-48. In Czechoslovakia, at the time of the post-war coalition government, Gottwald spoke repeatedly of ‘the specific Czechoslovak road to Socialism’. This, he said, would not be a road ‘through the dictatorship of the proletariat’; it would be a ‘regime of a peculiar, Czechoslovak type’ embodying a Marxism ‘under new conditions’ – ‘not a Socialist revolution’ (and Benes, let it be said, told Bruce Lockhart as late as May 1947 that ‘Gottwald was a reasonable man who believed in parliamentary democracy’).One could quote many other examples from every one of Stalin’s satellites. Therefore the Italian Communists’ prudent words in 1946 and 1947 were no convincing indication, in the perspective of those days, that their intentions were different from those of Rakosi, Gerö, Gottwald, Dimitrov or Gomulka, all of whom spoke of democracy, parliamentary government, independence from the Soviet model and the ‘strictest guardianship’ of the Constitution (Gottwald). What was different in Italy was the absence of the Red Army, but in 1945-47 even this offered insufficient reassurance because Italy had, in Tito’s Yugoslavia, a particularly aggressive form of Stalinism sitting on its north-eastern frontiers. Let us not forget that, until Yugoslavia’s expulsion from the Cominform, Tito’s brand of Communism was in successful competition for extremism and brutality with Stalinism itself.
Spinelli This is true. When, for example, the Marshall Plan was announced, Togliatti, like Gottwald in Czechoslovakia, was eager to accept the American offer. But Stalin vetoed participation and Togliatti obeyed. The Italian Communists then fell in with the Stalinist device of trying to take power by popular front tactics in the 1948 elections – but failed.
Urban What is the character of the political forces to which the Communists were, and are, opposed, and what alternative policies do they offer?
Spinelli The Communists are facing in the Christian Democratic Party a force which has been in power for so many years that it has come to be regarded as Italy’s natural government party – what the Germans call a Staatspartei. This party has had an embarrassing past which it has taken pains to live down. Its long symbiosis with the Church made it both anti-liberal and opposed to the secular nation-state. Its support of the policies of the arch-reactionary Pope Pius XII, and its associations with Fascism, would have made the Christian Democratic Party a sinister force in post-war Italian politics had it not been for the reforming influence of genuine democrats such as de Casperi, Scelba and others. It is their merit to have recognised, as the Communists also had to recognise, that the country’s democratic reconstruction would be gravely prejudiced if the Party started life under the Republic with the ballast of an anti-democratic and anti-liberal ideology.
Urban The Church was their Stalin, in your reading?
Spinelli – Yes, and as the Communists cut their links with the Stalinist heritage, so the Christian Democrats shed their dependence on the Church without being in any way disloyal to Catholicism, much less to Christianity.
Urban It sounds like an appealingly symmetrical arrangement – a harbinger perhaps of the ‘historical compromise’ – with each side jettisoning embarrassing bits of ideological furniture and concentrating on what the traffic would bear. Luigi Barzini’s image of the Italian modus operandi is not dissimilar from yours. Italy’s capacity for good sense and bad policies never ceases to surprise.
Spinelli I fear the Christian Democrats’ good sense had its strict limits. Their long years in government have confirmed Acton’s tag: power corrupts – absolute power corrupts absolutely. While the Christian Democrats did not, and do not, have absolute power, they have entrenched themselves in every domain of Italy’s life with the permanence of a dynasty. The result has been corruption, nepotism and mismanagement in all areas of public and private enterprise. This, I must hasten to add, was not so in the early years of Christian Democratic rule. Italy’s phenomenal rise, in the 1950s and early 1960s, as an industrial power, as well as its very significant contribution to creating the European Communities (as they then were), was largely the work of Christian Democratic leaders. But, as I say, the Party’s stock is now exhausted.
Under these conditions the Communists became the natural point of reference for the entire opposition. Every election brought them fresh votes. Today they are in charge of many of our best run municipalities, and their influence in the trade union movement is paramount. Their respect for the law and for the conventions of parliamentary democracy is scrupulous. Is this the same Party of revolution and dictatorship which Lenin and some of the early Leninist leaders of the Italian Communist Party thought they were building? I hardly think so. The Italian Communists are men and women whose principal concern is the welfare and general good of the Italian people, who want social reforms to that end, and who are perfectly prepared to ally themselves with others to that end. They are people of the stamp of the Austrian, Belgian and British Socialists – in fact, Social Democrats.
Urban Social Democrats at the top of the Party as well as at its grass roots?
Spinelli The votes the Communists attract are, ideologically speaking, Social Democratic votes. This is not a party of militants – it is a party of millions of ordinary, reform-hungry people, and the apparat at grass-root levels is also Social Democratic much more than Marxist or Leninist.
Urban What about the apparat at the all-important middle level where vested interests and calcified minds are normally guarantees of orthodoxy?
Spinelli The apparatchiks at the middle level – the Deputies, the men who run cooperatives, trade unions, municipal governments and so forth – are anything but apparatchiks in the Soviet, or any non-Italian, sense of the word. They are neither revolutionaries nor a self-perpetuating caste of bureaucrats. They are ordinary people of the people and of Italian culture. They are indistinguishable from the kind of men and women one finds running similar organisations for the Social Democrats.
In the upper crust of the Party there continues to exist a small number of leaders steeped in the Stalinist past. Their ranks are thinning out and their influence is small. They have come to recognise that the secret of the Party’s spectacular success was, and is, the distance it has managed to put between itself and the Soviet model of Socialism. They know that, if the Party had preserved its original character as a Leninist vanguard of the elect, it would never have attained the influence it has. Facts have taught them that there is an inverse relationship between ideology, Leninism and Stalinism on the one hand, and popular success on the other.
In the Italian Communist Party, too, nothing succeeds like success. When the choice had to be made between loyalty to the purisms of the established faith, and the promise of power based on the Party’s popular appeal, the ideology was promptly dropped and the promise of power embraced. This is the way in which every ideological party proceeds when faced with the choice – it has happened in Italy and it is happening in France.
Urban I am a little disturbed by the unanimity with which the French Party has erased ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ from its programme. Seventeen hundred votes were cast for repudiating it – none against. Earlier resolutions endorsing ‘the dictatorship of the proletariat’ were (as Kissinger recently observed) carried by the same 1,700 votes for, with none against. The French Communist leaders must be extraordinarily persuasive....
Spinelli I share your disbelief. France is intellectually more liberal than Italy, yet the French Communist Party has, until quite recently, been a direct appendage of the Comintern and the Kremlin. Maurice Thorez was not a product of French Communism; he was directly appointed by Stalin. No such thing ever happened in Italy. From the very beginning, the Italian Party had Gramsci as its principal apostle, closely followed by Togliatti, Longo and others. There was no need to scour Lenin or Stalin for suitable quotations when such could be readily found in Gramsci. The Italian leaders were home-grown Communists; their intellectual habitat, their social and cultural terms of reference were Italian. Consequently the critique to which they subjected the entire philosophy and programme of Italian Communism was profound and grounded in the realities of Italian life. Nothing of the sort could be said of the French Party. The manner in which they repudiated the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ would be unimaginable under Italian conditions: they rejected dogma — dogmatically! I am inclined to take French protestations of change with a pinch of salt. After Khrushchev’s secret speech at the 20th Party Congress the following story was doing the rounds in Moscow: An anthropologist visits a cannibal tribe in darkest Africa. ‘I’m told’, he says to the tribal chief, ‘that you still practise the shameful habit of cannibalism around here. “Oh no’, protests the chieftain, ‘we consumed our last man yesterday’. .
Urban I am not quite clear how and why the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ vanished from the Italian Party’s vocabulary. I can see that, in the Soviet Union, where ‘Socialism’ has been on the books for 60 years, the party theologians had grounds for saying that, after those 60 years of ‘building Socialism’, the dictatorship of the proletariat has been superseded by “the all-peoples’ state”. This is, in fact, what the draft of the new Soviet Constitution says. But on what doctrinal grounds have the Italian and French Parties neglected or dropped the ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’, seeing that they have not begun to take the first steps towards ‘Socialism’? I can understand their fear that ‘dictatorship’ is no vote-catcher in Western Europe – but could there be a profounder challenge to the entire concept of Communism, or a more opportunistic and possibly self-defeating way of selling it?
Spinelli The ‘dictatorship of the proletariat’ has never been officially dropped from the programme of the Italian Party, but it was quietly buried a long time ago. Not only that, but at the first legally held Congress of the Party in 1946 Togliatti stated: No one in the Italian Communist Party is expected to be a Marxist! which goes way beyond repudiating the dictatorship of the proletariat. Togliatti added that most members and supporters of the Party were, of course, Marxists, but he saw the Party as a rallying ground for a practical programme, not a catechism. And this is naturally the way in which practical matters are handled in politics. There are Christians who believe that Christ’s second coming will mean the end of the world, and there are scriptural sources to support their expectation. But show me a Christian who bases his daily life on it – any more than any convinced Communist would expect a just society to emerge from the dictatorship of the proletariat! Such people no longer exist.
The Italian Communists had two great obstacles barring them from eligibility to power: the dead weight of ideology and their loyalty, or suspected loyalty, to Moscow as the ultimate defender of the faith. It has taken many years of free debate to overcome them, but overcome them they did. Incidentally: no one in the Italian Party is subject to party discipline or the ‘whip’ system. The Party’s debates are entirely free – as free, shall we say, as those of the German Social Democrats.
Urban I am intrigued by your repeated reference to Social Democracy. In their Bad Godesberg programme (1959) the German Social Democrats renounced Marxism as their official philosophy, which the Italian Communists have never done — even though Togliatti opened the gates of the Party to non-Marxist supporters and Lombardo Radice tells us that the Party might repudiate Marxism at its next Congress. In fact, not many weeks ago, Giorgio Amendola said: ‘We are not going to go to Godesberg’.
Spinelli The notion of ‘the historical compromise’ is in my judgment the Italian Communist Party’s repudiation of Marxism. I can interpret it in no other way.
Urban Why doesn’t the Party say so?
Spinelli No party can utterly disown the principles on which its entire past and entire mythology were built. No party can be expected to say: we have been misguided or ignorant or naive for the greatest part of our existence – but now we are going to start a fresh chapter. If you drive self-criticism that far, you destroy your raison d’ętre.
Urban But this refusal, and the lessons imprinted on us by the behaviour of the ruling Communist Parties, accounts for the suspicion which continues to surround the Italian Communist Party’s policies. Given the history of the world Communist movement, the Italian Party can hardly hope to benefit from any presumption of innocence.
Spinelli Well, it is a cardinal principle of law that men are judged by their deeds, not their intentions. On that principle, the Italian Communists have been democrats and are democrats. Whatever their occasional rhetoric, they have stuck to the rules of parliamentary democracy. You may well be right in saying that the onus of proof is on them. But, for that, they have to be given a chance te govern.
Urban You have said the idea of ‘an historical compromise’ is the Italian equivalent of the Bad Godesberg programme of the German Social Democrats. What particular circumstances were responsible for this significant initiative?
Spinelli As the economic crisis began to hit Italy and the mismanagement of the country became less and less tolerable — and I am now talking of the late 1960s – the example of a well-run party, with great managerial skills and incorruptible service to its credit, made the man in the street aware that the Communists might offer a solution to Italy’s problems. At the same time, the Socialists, whose alliance with the Christian Democrats had at one stage brought them an ephemeral growth, were losing support and began to talk of the necessity of an alternative government of the Left. All this induced the Communist leadership and the Party intellectuals to believe that the time was ripe for a new policy that would pave their way to power.
But how were they to approach the problem most profitably? The Communists had before them the example of Allende: a government which had the majority of the national vote behind it [In fact, Allende had no majority support. In the 1970 presidential elections he won 36 per cent of the vote, and in the 1973 legislative elections 43 per cent (ed).] and which ought to have been able to govern, but in fact was not. Why? Because the great mass of non-electoral power – the police, the civil administration, the judiciary, the holders of economic power: in brief, the Establishment – was against the elected government. In other words, the constellation of forces outside parliament, which was conservative, was a challenge, and a successful challenge, to the political power vested in the government through its parliamentary mandate. It is almost a law of politics that if the Left enjoys only a small parliamentary majority, its power is precarious and its life is in constant danger because, when the power of the non-parliamentary establishment, which is habitually conservative, is added to the parliamentary strength of the Right, the Right proves stronger. By the same token, a small conservative majority is enough to secure safety of tenure for a conservative government because to its parliamentary strength is automatically added the support of the non-parliamentary ‘vote’.
The Italian Communists recognised that the coup against Allende was the result of an alliance between Allende’s parliamentary opponents and his enemies in the Chilean extra-parliamentary establishment. Pondering this example they came to the conclusion that a similar fate might befall an Italian Communist government. Even if the Communists and Socialists united, they would, so the Communists realised, still be too weak to govern and resist the combined opposition of the parliamentary Right and that large conglomeration of non-parliamentary power that would try to defeat a Communist-led government.
The next step in the Communist Party’s reasoning was to say that, in order to come to power and exercise power with any chance of success, the Party must come to an understanding with the Christian Democrats. It was argued that, even though the Communists were critical of the Christian Democratic Party’s policies, it had to be recognised that the Christian Democrats were a popular party with a strong and honourable democratic component. It was with this Party – it was now recalled – that the Communists had shared the writing of Italy’s new Constitution and the creation of the Republic. On such foundations a consensus could once again be created.
Urban A most un-Leninist way of going after power.
Spinelli – Oh, highly un-Leninist and anti-Leninist! It is the way of men who have learnt to deal with the real world. Lenin was an irrelevance. The Communists as co-founders of post-war Italian democracy were aware that democracy was in deep trouble and that the sole way of rescuing it was through a broad consensus similar to the one that existed just after the war. The Communists’ ambition was (and is) a modest one. They realised that the mistrust which their past inspired would take them many years to expunge from memory and that they could not rule single-handed for the reasons I have just stated. Hence they concentrated on trying to obtain a share of power in coalition with the Christian Democrats, and that continues to be their present policy. The Communists were, in fact, saying: ‘You distrust us. Very well, you need not advance us your confidence. If you agree to share power with us in government, in some areas you will be watching us, in others we will be watching you. You will see for yourselves that we are not plotting a revolution – we have no Red Guards, no armed workers and no Soviet Army to foist us on an unwilling majority.’
This perspective made the Party re-examine its entire political programme. Very briefly: their platform continues to include the nationalisation of certain major enterprises and the abolition of the market economy. But they propose to do this in a way that would amount to socialisation, on the model of strongly motivated Socialist Parties such as the Swedish and Dutch (the Germans are not so motivated), and not on the model of Soviet state-Socialism. This is, broadly speaking, where the Party stands in 1977.
Urban My scepticism is unassuaged. One famous Communist poster before Hungary’s first – and last – free elections after the war showed a protective hand extended in a gesture of benediction, with this (originally rhyming) couplet for a caption: ‘The Communist Party’s concern is the private wealth of the little man’.
Spinelli Well, this is the kind of past from which the Italian Communists have to detach themselves. But, as I say, they are conscious of their handicap and they are, I think, on their way to overcoming it. The Party’s evolution in its external policies has been every bit as significant as the one mapped out by ‘the historical compromise’. And, of course, the crucial problem was its relationship with the Soviet Union. More and more, the Italian Communists came to feel that their links with Moscow were a millstone round their neck. Luckily for them, their efforts to cut the umbilical cord coincided with a number of favourable developments – de-Stalinisation after Khrushchev’s secret speech in 1956, the Sino-Soviet dispute, and the ensuing collapse of the monolithic character of the world Communist movement. When church unity no longer exists, everyone is much freer to think and act as he likes. Togliatti fully exploited these opportunities by adding the idea of polycentrism.
The Communists revolution did not, of course, follow a straight line. The 1956 Hungarian Revolution found the Party still deeply mired in dogmatism. The uprising was branded a ‘counter-revolution’, the arrest and execution of Imre Nagy were strongly supported, and the Soviet reasons for suppressing Hungary were approved. But certain hesitations could already be observed. For example, Ciolitti (my current successor as European Commissioner in Brussels) left the Party in demonstration of his disapproval of the Party’s attitude to the Hungarian events, and so did others. But by the time Soviet troops marched on Prague in August 1968, the Party leaders got the message. They realised that sticking to the Soviet line would lay them open to the accusation that, whatever they might be saying in their propaganda, the moment a decision had to be taken in a critical situation, they would always come down on the side of the Soviet Union. They therefore criticised the Soviet action and have sustained their critique to this day. They are now manfully supporting Charter 77 in Czechoslovakia, the Polish Workers’ Defence Committee, dissent in East Germany, and civil rights in the Soviet Union.
But this break with the mother church left the Party’s foreign policy in a state of disorientation. As you know, a Communist Party’s attitude to Moscow is the bench-mark of its general perceptions and in ‘ tentions. For much the greatest part of its history the world Communist movement was governed by the idea that the might and influence of the Soviet Union coincide with the interests of mankind. Proletarian internationalism was the doctrinal umbrella under which gains made by the world Communist movement were never given up and central discipline was enforced. But with this monolithic conception broken up – where was the Italian Party to go? A swing to America would have been too drastic to be imaginable. There were attempts to learn from the French Communists and invest in left-wing nationalism. But while in France the coupling of Nationalism with Revolution had a long tradition in the French Revolution and the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, no such tradition existed in Italy. I do not, mind you, approve of the French Communists’ nationalism, but I can understand its rationale —
Urban — ‘National-Socialism’ with an anti-American and anti-German face —
Spinelli — That kind of thing. The German Socialists’ nationalism under Kurt Schumacher was an equally poor model, though for different reasons. In Italy, nationalism under the aegis of the Communist Party would have entailed the country’s rapid detachment from Western Europe and its relegation, culturally and politically, to the status of an increasingly off-centre Mediterranean nation. It would have put Italy in the company of half-developed countries nursing their grievances without much hope of putting them right. This might have been an acceptable prospect for a certain type of atavistic Fascism, but not for a modern and progressive party.
Urban There is, though, a highly respectable democratic and nationalistic tradition in Mazzini and ‘Young Italy’. Wouldn’t these have offered the necessary historical precedent?
Spinelli Despite their fame and formative cultural influence, Mazzini and the Republican Party have never been central to Italian politics. The popular traditions have been Catholicism on the Right and Socialism on the Left. Both were rather indifferent to the Risorgimento which was compromised, especially through the misuse of the name of Garibaldi (always a hurrah-word), by the Fascist regime. True, the Communist Party too paid tribute in its rhetoric to the Risorgimento, and there was a time when the Party had its own ‘Garibaldi brigades’. But this was merely pandering to popular emotions – the intolerant nationalism which comes so easily to the French, whether of the Right or the Left, was absent.
With all these roads closed to them, the Italian Communists had no choice but to adopt European unification as the central plank in their new foreign policy. This carried the promise of many advantages, the main one being that a united Europe would assert its independence from both Moscow and Washington. In the event, our Communists did, in fact, walk down the European road, and I have been able to follow their development from close quarters and in some ways to influence them.
Urban Without wanting to interrupt your story, let me just say that Moscow is extremely hostile to any idea of an independent united Europe, especially as advanced in Santiago Carrillo’s Eurocommunism and the State. This is, on the face of it, surprising – after all, an independent Europe would diminish Washington’s influence. But this is not the way the Soviet leaders look at it. Carrillo may very well have put his finger on the real motives behind the Soviet criticism when he said with his customary frankness on 28 June 1977:
What I cannot understand is how the USSR can prefer a Western Europe in NATO, in a certain manner under the control of the United States, to an independent and autonomous Europe such as we propose. This forces me to think that the existence of a NATO Europe, controlled by the United States, justifies a second Europe on the other side, controlled by the Soviet Union.
Spinelli I would not take issue with Carrillo’s suspicion – it is probably well-founded.
You will no doubt know that I used to be a Communist. I broke with the Party while in detention because I refused to toe the line on the Moscow show-trials (more of which later). After my imprisonment, which lasted from 1927 right up to the fall of Mussolini in 1943, I was considered one of the Party’s worst enemies, and I am certain that if the Party had taken power after the war, I would have been among the first to be liquidated.
Fortunately for me, it did not take power.
When the idea of European unification began to get into its stride and I was heavily involved in the campaign for European Federation, I was first wondering whether, as a man coming from the Left, I should not try to work for the acceptance of my policies through and with the European Left. But I soon realised that this would be taking too narrow a view, and I decided to count my allies and adversaries not in terms of Left or Right but according to their willingness or refusal to work for European unification.
Well, it so happened that the Christian Democrats were the first to support the idea of Europe, and I have been closely associated with them, not only with Alcide de Gasperi who led the Italian side of the movement, but also with Robert Schuman in France and Konrad Adenauer in Germany. We had, as European Federalists, a certain impact on them.
After the Hungarian Revolution, the Italian Socialists (who were then in electoral alliance with the Communists and shared the latter’s Moscow-centric loyalties) decided to cut the Soviet tie and were, as the Communists were to be ten years later, in a quandary as to what they should do next. Pietro Nenni invited me to collaborate with him in working out a European programme for his Party. I was most willing to do so, but when asked to join the Socialist Party, I declined. Nenni eventually became Foreign Minister and appointed me as his special adviser on European affairs.
Urban It seems to me that in a sense the Socialists were joining your ‘Party’ —
Spinelli — They were, and so were the Communists, because after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, the Communists approached me with a similar problem: Would I help them to devise a Communist policy on Europe? They had some vague idea that Europe was the road they ought to be taking, but they were not sure how to go about it.
Urban Did the Communist leaders approach you directly?
Spinelli Oh, yes. I was at the time director of an Institute of International Affairs which I had founded, and it was there that Leonardi for example came to see me with this problem. A little later Amendola re-established contact with me (we had been friends and comrades in the Communist Party until my expulsion) and it was Amendola who then took the lion’s share in working out a European programme for the Party.
I was watching his evolution with great interest. He first spoke in vague Gaullist terms – ‘Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals’ – that kind of thing; but when he saw that this kinship with Gaullism put the Party in an equivocal position, he began to limit the scope of desirable unification to Western Europe. Next, he shifted his position to demanding a ‘confederal’ Europe – a Europe of nation-states – but this was, of course, still very far from what Federalists like myself were seeking. Amendola then let it be known that the Party ought to assume a more positive attitude to the European Community, but he used a curious reasoning. The European Community, he argued, has been created by the bourgeoisie. Once the Communist and other leftwing parties could work from within it, they might turn it to their own advantage – ‘exploit’ it, to use his word, against the bourgeoisie.
Urban Did you hear him say this?
Spinelli Yes, but I did not leave it unanswered. I explained to him that any attempt at ‘exploitation’ would be a dangerous mistake. The European Community, I said, is far from resting on solid foundations. It is still very much in the making and may yet fail.
‘You must realise’, I told him, ‘that if you do come into the Community, you are going to exploit nothing. We want you to come in on condition that you are determined to help us to develop it – not to kill it.’
Amendola, who did not have a closed mind on the problem, understood the difficulties the European Community was, and is, facing, and gradually began to talk in federalist terms. That is where the matter stands at the moment.
Urban There are two questions here. Does Amendola mean what he says, and does he represent the thinking of the Party?
Spinelli My answer is ‘yes’ to both questions, and my reasons for saying so are these. The idea of European unification has different echoes in different countries. In Britain and France, Europe is a divisive issue; in Germany, Holland, Belgium and Italy it makes for national unity. The Italian Communists are well aware of the popularity of the European idea throughout Italian society and they cultivate it as part of their quest for a consensus through the ‘historical compromise’. Europe fits in with their internal policies.
There is, moreover, the fact that in Italy the most fervent supporters of European unification are the workers. This is intriguing because the sad thing we can observe in most European countries is that, with honourable exceptions, the working class has become the most parochial, provincial, and even jingoistic section of society. This is most obviously true in countries which have a large immigrant population — whether as temporary guest-workers or permanently settled. The French and British working class may well be internationalist in the minds of Socialist theoreticians. But in fact their experience of foreigners is limited to two types of encounter: at home, where the foreign worker is resented simply because he is a foreigner, and abroad, where foreigners are met with on the tourist circuit in the shape of waiters and taxi-drivers. This is as good as not meeting them at all and usually serves to reinforce existing prejudices rather than to abolish them. Germany in this respect is an exception. There foreign workers are pretty well treated at every level – but then Germany under Hitler abused the labour of foreigners so badly that Germany’s present fairness is perhaps no more than a compensatory reaction to the past, although I tend to believe that it represents a genuine advance in social tolerance.
In Italy there is hardly a worker or peasant whose father or brother or son has not spent years in foreign countries as a guest-worker. When these people speak of the Germans or French or Dutch, they know exactly what they are talking about: they have lived among Germans and Frenchmen, and they liked what they saw. For them the foreigner is not an alien they cannot comprehend, but a friend and employer and a source of a higher standard of living. The Spanish people have the same attitude, and one can see why Carrillo has no difficulty in leading a strongly pro-European Communist Party.
To sum up: the Italian Communists are responding in their pro-European policies to the real feelings and interests of the Italian people. In designing their new economic profile, too, Europe is of considerable help to them. After much internal debate, the Party decided not to opt for a planned, much less a command, economy. As the European Community makes it mandatory for the Nine to keep their national economies open, it provides the Italian Communists with an excellent justification for declining to do certain things they would not want to do anyway.
Urban What about the vexed question of the Party’s attitude to NATO? In my conversation with Professor Lombardo Radice, he made a highly equivocal statement on what the Party would do in a war-like East-West emergency, notably that it might, with certain qualifications, come down on the Soviet side.
Spinelli The Party’s initial attitude was, of course, extremely hostile to NATO. Then came a period of discreet silence while new attitudes were being worked out. This in turn was followed by the full acceptance of NATO as one element in the world’s existing balance of power which guarantees peace. The current Communist attitude is that if Italy rocked the Western boat either by neutrality or by coming out against the Western Alliance, the imbalance in favour of Soviet power would be unacceptable.
Urban The imbalance in favour of Moscow would hurt Italian Communist interests?
Spinelli Yes, for what would it mean for the Italian Communists in real terms? Italy’s north-eastern neighbour, Yugoslavia, enjoys a position of non-alignment. This is partly due to the Yalta agreement which exempted Yugoslavia from both the Western and Eastern spheres of influence. But it is also due to Tito’s and the Yugoslav Communists’ firm guardianship of their independence.
Today Yugoslavia is one important element in the equilibrium between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. This was well demonstrated after the occupation of Czechoslovakia, when the Yugoslavs let it be known that, if Soviet intervention looked like becoming a reality, they would not hesitate to ask for NATO assistance. The Italian Communists are extremely conscious of two dangers: one is the danger they might be inviting on the heads of the Yugoslavs by toying with the idea of Italian neutrality or directly repudiating Italy’s membership of NATO. This would mean the weakening or disappearance of NATO from Yugoslavia’s Western frontier, and making it, in the uncertainties that are bound to follow Tito’s death, much easier for the Soviet leaders to risk the subjugation of Yugoslavia. The presence of NATO on the Italian-Yugoslav boundary is one of the guarantees, and possibly the guarantee, of Yugoslav independence.
The second danger is connected with the first. For the Italian Communists, with their highly unorthodox, Eurocommunist ideas, nothing could be more unwelcome than the arrival of Soviet troops on their frontiers. Berlinguer made this absolutely clear during the last election campaign when he said that he felt much better protected behind the shield of NATO than he would outside it.
Urban What exactly did he mean by that?
Spinelli He and the other Italian Communist leaders know well enough that working in a Western bourgeois society certainly faces them with great obstacles. Kissinger was against them, the present US administration may also be against them, they are up against old prejudices and so forth. But they feel that in the West they are free to fight these obstacles, and to fail or to succeed on the merit of their case. If, however, they came under Soviet protection, Berlinguer and his colleagues would soon be going the way of Dubcek, or worse.
Urban Their fears are surely justified. When one reads the accounts of Stalin’s treatment of the Communigt survivors of the Spanish Civil War, the roots of Santiago Carrillo’s distrust of the Soviet system are at once revealed. The memoirs of El Campesino, for example, one of the Spanish Civil War’s most famous Communist generals, are proof enough that the horrors of Stalinism implanted in the minds of most Spanish Communists a lasting aversion to the Soviet type of Communism and a determination to run any future Spanish Communist movement (as El Campesino put it) ‘outside Stalinist Communism, or even against it’. Dolores Ibarruri was, of course, not one of them; she chose to be one of Stalin’s most willing and ruthless instruments.
But to come back to Berlinguer’s famous statement on NATO: how did the rank and file react to it?
Spinelli My cooperation with the Communist Party started with the 1976 election campaign. In fact it was the Party that organised my meetings for me, therefore I had ample opportunity to gain first-hand experience of what the Italian voters, and especially the Communist voters, thought. It was clear from the beginning that Berlinguer’s words on NATO produced no adverse comment, much less active dissent, on the part of the militants or anyone else. Interest focused on the state of the economy and Italy’s relations with Western Europe and the United States. The question of the Party’s loyalty or lack of loyalty to the Kremlin was a non-problem. It did not once come up for discussion.
All in all, then, I would say that the thinking of the Italian Communist leadership and of the rank and file are in close harmony. Many people doubt that this is so, but I can tell you as an old politician that deception in politics may work for six months or a year, but you cannot fool all your party all the time. Hitler said in 1932 that he would rise to power through the democratic process, as he did, and then proceed to throttle democracy, as he also did. But if he had committed himself to respect democracy fora period of ten years, not one, I doubt whether he could have got away with killing democracy as soon as he found himself in office. The Italian Communists have been forced by the state of Italian politics to play the game of parliamentary democracy for more than 30 years, and the rules of the game have had a profound influence on them. I am enough of a democrat to believe that if 30 years of democratic education cannot change the minds of men, then democracy is dead and we ought to think of better ways of ordering human affairs. But I am persuaded that it isn’t.
Urban Are you certain that this education in democracy has been assimilated by most of the Party? I often feel that the Berlinguers and Amendolas constitute a liberal and highly educated élite whose hold on the rank and file may not stand the strain of
another rise in unemployment or inflation. Also, isn’t there a modicum of truth in what Novoye Vremya says in its first attack on Carrillo, quoting a passage from the resolution of the 25th Soviet Party Congress: ‘A concession to opportunism may sometimes yield some temporary advantage, but will ultimately be damaging to the Party’? I would have thought a principled Italian Communist on the militant Left would have no difficulty in agreeing with that.
Spinelli Views of this kind can be heard on the far left of the Party. The charge is sometimes made that the Communist leaders are betraying the idea of revolution, that they are too anxious to adjust, and so forth. I would myself not ascribe great importance to these views. The Party leadership is seriously committed to the rules of liberal democracy – they want to make a success of it. It isn’t that they could simply turn the clock back if their present policies failed and start preaching revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat all over again. Any attempt of this kind would generate a serious crisis and probably split the Party.
Urban What exactly do the Italian Communists mean by compromesso storico? Let me take the two words separately in their English connotations and see whether the meaning I read into the phrase does in fact correspond with the one it carries in Italian. In the broadest sense ‘historical’ simply means ‘pertaining to the nature of history’, as in an historical novel. But the word ‘historic’ has a narrower meaning. implying a certain value-judgment: noted or celebrated in history’, and my impression is that it is in this latter sense that ‘Storico’ is being used here.
‘Compromise’ in my interpretation has a weak and a strong meaning. The first implies ‘a partial surrender of one’s position in order to come to terms with another party’. In the strong sense, however, it comes very close to meaning a ‘settlement’ Ausgleich would be the German word for it. This, I would assume, is the meaning we should associate with it in ‘historical compromise’. The phrase thus read would then give us the following: ‘an agreement of lasting significance to settle with our erstwhile antagonists’.
Spinelli When I said a little while ago that ‘the historical compromise’ is the Italian version of the Bad Godesberg programme and a break with revolutionary Marxism, this is broadly speaking what I meant.
Translated into the currency of practical politics, ‘the historical compromise’ is (as I have already said) a very straightforward thing. Mu tatis mu tandis, what the Communists have in mind is an Italian ‘Grand Coalition’ on the Bonn model.’ They cannot see why, given their electoral strength and administrative record,
they should be any less eligible for a share in power than were the SPD. The Grosse Koalition worked because Germany’s conditions demanded that it should, and so – the Italian Communists argue – would an Italian ‘Grand Coalition’ for broadly similar reasons.
Urban If Communists were Socialists, the world would be a very different place.
Spinelli The point I am arguing is that the Italian Communists are Social Democrats. I have already said that they in fact repudiated Marxism in 1946, much before the Bad Godesberg programme. But to that I must now add that the German Social Democrats’ electoral handicap was not the survival of Marxism in their programme but their nationalism. Under Kurt Schumacher, the SPD’s first foreign policy objective was the reunification of Germany. The German people found this a dangerous priority. The important thing that happened at Bad Godesberg was that the Party drew up an entirely new programme. In it nationalism was dropped and the idea of European unification adopted.
But the Austrian example is even more relevant. There, in 1934, the Christian Socialists and Social Democrats fought a civil war over the Vienna workers’ uprising. The revolution was put down by Government forces under the Chancellorship of Dollfuss; and the Social Democratic Party was dissolved. After the war, the two parties discovered that the electoral vote was evenly divided between them; and they came to the prudent conclusion that the frightful legacy of the inter-war period must be done away with. For many years they then collaborated in Coalition governments, which worked extremely well, and showed both parties to be politically mature and acceptable to all sections of Austrian society. My argument is that the Italian Communists are similarly acceptable partners both to the Christian Democrats and to the Italian public.
Urban I would need a lot of convincing that a Party which has spent the greatest part of its history fighting and, literally, burying Social Democrats would now limit its ambitions to those of Social Democrats. The differences between Bruno Kreisky’s Party and even the Italian or Spanish Communist Party remain formidable.
I was watching Berlinguer address a mass Unitŕ festival in Naples the other day. Although Berlinguer said nothing one could describe as ‘revolutionary’, the experience was nevertheless unsettling. Here was a gathering of more than 100,000 people giving the clenched fist salute to the rhythmic chant of party-agitational songs. There were torch-light parades and fiery speeches against the misdeeds of American imperialism in Latin
America and the crimes of the multinational companies – but not a word of criticism of the Soviet Union.
And all this in a vast sports stadium which Mussolini had built for similar purposes. I am not sure whether a Bruno Kreisky would have felt at home in this environment.
Spinelli Social Democracy covers a wide range of political activities. For example, the German Social Democrats have become a very moderate, liberal – almost conservative – force. They have administered Germany rather well but have certainly done nothing to change the structure of German society. Therefore the Italian Communists do not like to be considered Social Democrats in the SPD’s sense. But in Sweden you have a very different type of Social Democracy – one which is radical and has managed to change the face of Sweden in 20 years. Our Communists would hope to achieve something analogous to what the Swedish Socialists have done.
We must not indulge in abstract terminology – there are Social Democrats and Social Democrats. Only puritanic theorists would expect the Communist Party to sit down and announcer cathedra that at 3 p.m. on Thursday, 12 June, the Party political line changed from A to B. They do not expect other parties to do so – but for some reason they think this is the way things should be ordered in the Italian Communist Party! Of course, they are not.
But (as I have already said) the principal anxiety surrounding Communist participation in government concerns the Party’s relationship with Moscow. And I can readily understand this. The Soviet Union is an imperialist, expansionist power. Who knows (so runs the argument) whether the Italian Party has not retained a vestigial loyalty to it? I am personally convinced of the Party’s genuine independence; but I can see what the critics mean.
Urban But isn’t the Party’s money still coming from Moscow through the well-established channels of Export-Import companies?
Spinelli This may have been so for a time after the war, but for many years now the Party has been receiving no funds from Russia. And why should the Russians support it? Could the Soviet leaders, whose outsize stupidity and short-sightedness in all matters concerning human liberty (as witnessed for example by their treatment of Bukovsky and his exchange for Corvalan) put them on a par with the Nazis – could these same Soviet leaders suddenly become so sophisticated as to finance a Party that does nothing but make life extremely uncomfortable for them, on the tacit assumption that these attacks on Moscow are
merely a display of clever electoral tactics and that at the decisive moment the Italian Party would toe the line of its paymasters? I cannot attribute such Machiavellian sophistication to men whose stubborn obtuseness is one of the marvels of modern politics.
Urban So you do not believe the Party enjoys Soviet financial support?
Spinelli I believe it does not. In any case, the Italian Communist Party has the most open financial administration of all parties. It would be extremely difficult to cover up funds received from Moscow. We must not fall back on the ideas of the ‘conspiracy theory of history’. The Italian Party is master in its own
house. You can see this every day in all its actions. But I would say this: if the Party entered a Coalition with the Christian Democrats, I for one would be hesitant to see their leaders fill such posts as Minister of Defence or Minister of the Interior in charge of the police forces. I’d be a little worried if they did, and so would others.
Urban But if you say that the Communists are externally independent and Social Democrats in their internal policies — why should you be worried?
Spinelli Because I am a cautious animal – because they have the record they have, and because after all, my reading of them may be incorrect. Therefore I’d be happier if they were given other posts. If they are not put in control of the Police and the Army, they cannot do serious damage.
Urban But you do want to see the Communist Party change the face of Italian society – how can the Party do that without having its hands on some of the important levers of power?
Spinelli It can do a great deal by concentrating on economic planning, rebuilding the civil service and civil administration, reorganising higher education and so on. It is not true that you can do nothing unless you have the police at your beck and call.
But to come back to my main argument. The Communists accept that they have to work within the Atlantic context, the European context and the parliamentary democratic context, in coalition, as they hope, with other parties.
You have asked: Would the Italian Communists honour Italy’s treaty obligations in a warlike East-West emergency? My answer is to answer your question with another question. Would all NATO governments honour their obligations in an East-West crisis or war? My estimate of the intentions of European governments would be that the Germans would fight because the war would be fought on their territory – but the French, and the British, and the Danes, and the Norwegians? I have my doubts. And if the conflict was limited to the Soviet take-over of Yugoslavia, would the French and British stand up to be counted? I hardly think so. The Americans might, and the Italians would, because they would have to. In other words, NATO is an unsure thing, quite irrespective of what the Italian Communists might do in government.
But, fortunately for the balance of power, the Warsaw Pact is an equally unsure thing from the Soviet point of view. If war comes, it would be a very unwise Soviet high command that entrusted the defence of Soviet Socialism to Polish, Czech, Hungarian and East German troops. The Soviet marshals’ fear must be, if they have taken the measure of their allies, that these troops would either not fight, fight poorly, or indeed do an about-turn and join the enemy.
Both systems, then, suffer from great internal Uncertainties, and because neither system really functions, the equilibrium between them functions extremely well – as long as they do not go to war. But this useful state of uncertainty is now beginning to outlast its usefulness. It is tempting to prolong it because it has worked. But this must not blind us to the fact that this balance built on imbalance is fragile – not because the West is in any danger of Soviet attack, but simply because, certainly on our side of it, the balance rests on too many unpredictable elements which erode confidence. The European powers are reluctant to take full responsibility for their defence and indeed for their relationship with the Soviet Union – they prefer to rely on the Americans for both, and for footing most of the bill. Consequently, the Americans have been made to feel that their primary relationship must be with the Soviet Union. Henry Kissinger pursued this primary relationship with unflagging zeal, but we must admit in fairness to him that he never failed to warn the European allies that the United States would in the . long run be neither able nor willing to carry the Western defence and decision-making burden virtually single-handed.
Now, Europe cannot assume its responsibilities unless it moves towards some form of political union. If and when it does, the question of common European defence will come up again and will have to be dealt with. A European defence community would make it much more difficult for the United States to go over the heads of the EEC countries and deal with Moscow direct. It would stabilise Western defence by making every partner’s commitments and rights of representation crystal clear. The Atlantic alliance would become a genuine partnership of equals, as President Kennedy envisaged it; and the political rationale of Western defence would be reasserted in a new and more convincing framework. I am persuaded that the Carter administration is anxious to encourage this kind of development. But if European faint-heartedness and dithering continue and no progress is made towards political unification, then we have no right to expect better than some future Kissinger who would treat us (as Kissinger was forced to treat us) as second-class citizens. In the meantime the absence of political confidence bites deeper and deeper into the Western alliance and may, by accident or political miscalculation, push us into war with the Soviet Union.
But, you may ask, can we be sure that the Italian Communists would go along with all this? No, we cannot be 100 per cent sure – can one ever in human affairs? But what our five senses tell us is that the Italian Communists are not in the business of engineering international tension so that they may, once a crisis has been created, go over to the other side. Much rather do they fear such a situation and hope to extend their influence under the protection of a balanced relationship between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.
Urban Lenin’s famous slogan during the first world war was: ‘Turn the war into international civil war’. Things have come to an interesting pass if the Italian Communists now feel that their best chance of pushing ahead with Communism is under conditions of peace secured by the military umbrella of NATO! The Italian Communist case has yet to be tested, but Lenin’s formula has been borne out by history. After the lost war with Japan, Tsarist Russia was shaken by the 1905 revolution. The first world war produced the Bolshevik seizure of power. The second world war saw Communist rule expand to the whole of Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, and eventually China. The war in South-East Asia ended in the triumph of Marxism-Leninism, despite three American Presidents’ solemn pledges to the contrary. ‘We will stand in Vietnam’, President Johnson said on 28 July 1965. America did not stand in Vietnam. ‘We ... cannot now dishonour our word and abandon ... those who believed us and who trusted us to terror and repression and murder that would follow.’ America did abandon its allies and genocide in Cambodia followed.
No Soviet leader worth his salt (or job) can ignore these lessons and expect less gratifying results to follow from yet another conflict. War is a Communist success story.
Spinelli This difference in Soviet and Italian Communist expectations is precisely what convinces me, for one, that Socialism in the Soviet perception and Socialism in the Italian perception are opposed and probably irreconcilable.
Urban Could the Italian Communists be trusted with the military secrets of NATO?
In 1975-76, when the Portuguese Communists seemed close to seizing power, the Portuguese Government was denied access to NATO’s secret documents and excluded from its inner councils. Admittedly, Cunhal’s people are Moscow loyalists.
Spinelli I would formulate the question differently: Are there military secrets in NATO? I remember asking a close friend and colleague, the Belgian Commissioner, Henri Simonet (now Foreign Minister), who is a leading Socialist and has also held posts in earlier Belgian governments: ‘How many NATO military secrets came your way when you were a member of the Belgian Covernment? ‘None’, he said. And this goes for NATO as well as every government. If military secrets were known to all or even several members of a government, they would be secrets no longer. NATO’s military secrets have an extremely restricted circulation. Communist participation in an Italian government would not be tantamount to giving them away to Communists. To get at the real stuff, spies have to be used, as I suspect they are being used, by both sides.
The protection of military secrets is just one of many excuses for keeping the Italian Communists out of power. The real issue is different. The arrival of the Communists in power or partial power would upset the vested interests and privileges of a great many people, not only in Italy, but in France and Spain too. Southern Europe is in many ways a highly inequitable society. The Communists make no secret of their intention to change it. Those to be deprived of their privileges naturally do not like this prospect. For them the alleged unreliability of Communists in government is an excellent alibi for barring them from power.
Urban But surely you would agree that Kissinger is right in saying (and the Carter administration is pretty close to saying it too) that the American public would not be able to understand why the United States should find untold billions of dollars and keep 200,000 of its troops in Europe in order to support one Communist government against another? NATO was built on the concept that the Soviet Union and the system it represents are inimical to the interests and institutions of Western democracy. Whatever the intentions of Berlinguer and Carrillo may be – and I am not questioning your judgment of them – the US public would be incapable of making the fine distinctions, much less acting on the fine distinctions, of your argument.
Only a few years ago I had great difficulty in telling American undergraduate audiences that Communism ire Yugoslavia and Chinese Communism were very different both from one another and from the Soviet model. Nearly 30 years after Tito’s break with Stalin, says George Kennan, writing in 1977, ‘It seems incredible ... that one should find oneself still obliged to emphasise that that country [Yugoslavia] is not under Soviet domination ... that it does not belong to the Warsaw Pact . . .’ and so on.
Spinelli Of course the facts of life in Europe would have to be explained to the American people, but I don’t think the Kissingerian argument is a strong one. After all, Kissinger spent large sums of money giving the Soviet Union technologies it badly needed and, more spectacularly, grain at punishingly low prices. I did not see the American public make more than a momentary fuss. Indeed the farmers and grain-dealers would have made a great fuss if the deal had not gone through.
The American aversion to having Communists in government in Western Europe is rooted in the simple fact that in every alliance the dominating partner likes to have its own men in power. In Eastern Europe the Russians rely on apparatchiks and policemen who share their way of thinking and have a vested interest in the survival of the system. In Western Europe, the Americans would like to see the affairs of their allies run by directors of multinational enterprises, civil servants trained in the Harvard Business School, and men of generally conservative inclination.
There has never been any question that the post-war division of Europe was here to stay. Kissinger and Sonnenfeldt made it repeatedly clear that Europe was divided into two spheres of influence and that the name of the game continues to be no poaching in the other man’s preserve. President Ford’s Freudian slip to the contrary may have cost him the presidency.
Urban It is widely expected that the image of a Communist Party that succeeds in combining Socialism with freedom will have a magnetic attraction for the East European parties and governments and weaken, or indeed destroy, the Soviet hold on them. I wonder whether the Soviet leaders would allow this to happen. But even if there were some ‘give’ in the Soviet grip on Eastern Europe – wouldn’t the damage which Eurocommunism would inflict on NATO’s entire justification be far greater than the one it might inflict on Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe? Eastern Europe could be held down by the addition of another three or four Soviet divisions and a purge of leaderships; but NATO without full US participation would collapse.
Spinelli Without any doubt, the Italian Communist Party has already had an immense influence on Eastern Europe. For one thing, it is so much easier for East European Communists to express dissent by pointing to Italian Communism as their model, than to say that they want to become liberal democrats on the Westminster pattern. If they modelled themselves on Solzhenitsyn, their protest would not have the slightest chance of getting off the ground, and probably they would stand genuinely discredited.
I have often told the Italian Communists: every time there is trouble in Eastern Europe you come out with disapproving comments five minutes after the event. Why don’t you sit down and make a fundamental critique of the East European Soviet system and issue your warnings before trouble arises?
Urban You’ve told this to some of your friends in the Party leadership?
Spinelli Yes, I have told Amendola and other leaders I normally see. I said to them: once trouble in Eastern Europe has come out into the open, everyone condemns the Russians, and the Italian Communists may be plausibly accused – as indeed they have been accused of being mere opportunists by clambering on the bandwagon. You can do this without being untrue to the Communist past. You can argue that the Russian revolution was the greatest hope mankind has ever had, but then degenerated into a despotism which must be surmounted. You do not even have to re-open the question whether Stalin was a necessity. All you have to see clearly is that the present generation of intelligentsia are Soviet to the bone – you can no longer say that their minds have been formed under Tsarist influence or in French universities – and yet they feel (and are) oppressed, alienated and rebellious. You must take a deep breath and denounce this publicly, in speech as in writing, before a really big upheaval engulfs Russia and Eastern Europe, for I am certain that within ten years, possibly within five, the pressure for fundamental change will become irresistible in these countries. There is no stability under Soviet suzerainty.
Urban Will the Italian Communists come forward with the principled critique you have suggested?
Spinelli They are hesitant. They have apparently made a negative decision: if there is another upheaval in Eastern Europe, they will not be on the side of the Soviet oppressors – they will support Sakharov and the Polish Workers’ Defence Committee and Charter 77. But whether they will come up With something more positive than that, I do not know. The demand is there. One highly important Communist – Jacoviello — has recently written a series of articles in L’Unitŕ in which he admits (to summarise him in a sentence): we haven’t yet summoned up the courage to produce a thoroughgoing critique of the social and political system in Eastern Europe.
Urban How important is the East European nexus to the Italian Communists? That the Italians are important to Eastern Europe is obvious. Is a new centre being quietly formed in the birthplace of polycentrism?
Spinelli The Italian Communists are not constructing a centre of their own – certainly not by any act of conscious deliberation. But they undoubtedly derive a certain sense of satisfaction from the fact that their ideas have found a ready response in Eastern Europe. It is psychologically of great importance to them to be able to say: ‘Well, we are receiving support even from within the Communist countries.’
Why is this so important? Because our Communists feel isolated. Apart from the vocal and by no means negligible support Of Carrillo and the Spanish Party – the French are a very doubtful asset – they have, or may, with the death of Tito, very soon have no allies. Carrillo is, of course, a staunch friend and he has had the courage to take on Moscow with no holds barred. But the Spanish Communists are a small party, and the Italians feel that they have no satisfactory links with anyone else – not even the Chinese. For a party which is used to internationalism, isolation is exceptionally inhibiting.
If you look deeply into the politico-psychological motivation of Italian Communism, it boils down to one factor: the split which occurred in 1921 in the body of the Italian Socialist Party – the Communists going one way, the Socialists another. The Italian Communists now feel that the fratricidal war must be ended — Socialists and Communists must come together and sink their differences. I do not think they would want to hold up this reconciliation as a model to be followed by others, any more than Tito wanted to, or did, advertise his model after the break with Stalin. If the model attracts people in Eastern Europe and the Third World, well and good, but our Communists have far too much on their plate to turn their hands to the exhausting and open-ended game of fostering a new Communist centre-
Urban – which will, of course, not prevent Moscow from saying that that is precisely what they are, ‘objectively speaking’, doing....
Spinelli Nothing will prevent Moscow from making that accusation.
Urban I am much interested in the conditions surrounding your expulsion from the Communist Party while in prison under Mussolini. It sounds almost incredible that conditions in a Fascist prison should have made an active Party life possible.
Spinelli As you know, the Communist Party is like the Church: wherever two Christians gather together, there is a congregation – wherever two or three Communists meet together, there is a Party cell. In prison, the Communists were organised – we had our cells and leaders and communication with the outside world.
But remember that Fascist prisons were not of the Nazi or Stalinist type. Nor were they anything like concentration or labour camps. They resembled more closely those old-fashioned Tsarist prisons where the prisoners read (and wrote) books, and educated themselves to be more effective revolutionaries. We, too, had all these facilities. For example, when we decided to write a book, we could, through permitted channels, obtain all the documentation and research materials we needed. The Communists in particular have always held that imprisonment is a period of intense revolutionary education which the bourgeoisie bestows on them in order to make them better revolutionaries! I began studying philosophy, history, economics and sociology, and my education in prison turned out to be revolutionary indeed – because I soon discovered that there are more things in heaven and earth than Marx and Lenin suspected.
For many years, therefore, my comrades and I were involved in sharp discussions, but as we were in prison, we agreed that the decision whether I should remain in the Party or leave it should be deferred until we were set free. In the meantime, however, along came the Moscow show trials, and word reached us from the Central Committee that all Communists were expected to give written testimony of their condemnation of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Evdokimov and all the others condemned at the time as spies and saboteurs. The procedure was the usual one: first a resolution by the Central Committee, then one in the sections, and finally a resolution by each Party cell. So, one day news reached our little Communist community on the island of Ponza, in the Bay of Naples, that we had been ordered to sign a statement of loyalty to the Stalinist line.
Urban Was Ponza your place of imprisonment?
Spinelli No. In 1937 I was transferred from prison to confino on the island of Ponza together with 3 other Communists. But the Soviet order would have reached us in prison, too, for our clandestine channels were working perfectly. As political meetings were not permitted in confino, we had to reach our decisions in small groups of three. Groups like these were allowed to walk together over the island without anyone discovering what they were discussing.
One day I was taking a walk with Amendola and a woman comrade [the companion of another Party member]. Amendola told us he had received documentation about the Moscow trials,
that we had to take a position, and he suggested that we declare our loyalty to Stalin and condemn the wreckers, spies and saboteurs. This was the hurdle I could not clear. I told my two comrades that Stalin’s action represented in my opinion a degeneration of revolutionary thinking; that the Soviet Union was clearly in the grips of a serious crisis which Stalin was cynically turning into spy fiction. Amendola replied that my recalcitrance would cost me my membership of the Party, and he added that perhaps this was what I really wanted. I had no further meetings with the Party cell. About a week later Amendola formally told me that I had been expelled from the Party for petty-bourgeois deviation and ideological degeneration. (Two years later the same fate befell Umberto Terracini, one of the Party’s oldest and most respected leaders, who objected to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact and was booted out by Togliatti.) After my expulsion I spent six more years in confino on the island of Ponza. But from the moment of my refusal to sign, I became an un-person in the eyes of my former friends and comrades. They ignored me when they saw me – for them, I ceased to exist.
Urban Ciorgio Amendola has come a long way since Ponza.
Spinelli He has. I remember chatting to him not so long ago, after he had made a fine speech in the European Assembly in support of European unification. ‘Amendola’, I said, ‘you expelled me from the Party more than 38 years ago, and now – what do I see but that you and your comrades are Spinelli-ites to a man!’ Amendola smiled: ‘Well, we have changed.’