Saturday 23 January 2021

De Mattei: The Genealogy of the Italian Communist Party on the Centenary of its foundation (January 21,1921)

De Mattei: The Genealogy of the Italian Communist Party on the Centenary of its foundation (January 21,1921)

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
January 20, 2021

The Italian Communist Party was founded at Livorno on January 21, 1921, as a result of a split in the Socialist Party. Its principal founders were Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937), Palmiro Togliatti (1893-1964) and Amedeo Bordiga (1889-1970) subsequently expelled and subjected to damnatio memoriae, according to the typical internal dialectic of every Communist Party.

In 1917, the Bolshevik Party seized power in Russia, under the leadership of Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. The Italian Communist Party was the Italian section of Komintern, the international organization founded in Moscow in 1919 with the aim of propagating the Communist Revolution in the world.

In the history of Communism, the Russian Revolution was a more important event than the publication of the Communist Party Manifesto when Karl Marx and Friederich Engels, in February 1848, launched an appeal to the proletariat of the entire world to bring down the bourgeoisie and create a "classless society".

Marx and Engels were commissioned [to write]The Communist Manifesto by the League of the Just, a secret revolutionary society and a subsidiary of The Sublime Perfect Masters created by Filippo Buonarroti and Adam Weishaupt's Illuminists of Bavaria. Among the direct precursors of Communism, Engels counts the Anabaptists, the Levellers of The English Revolution, the Illuminists of the 18th century and the Jacobins (L'evoluzione del socialismo dall'utopia alla scienza, Editori Riuniti, Roma 1958, pp. 15-17). Marx and Engels put together the legacy of these sects, but in order to achieve their goals, they heralded a new method of action, called "scientific socialism".

In the "eleventh thesis" of his comment on Feuerbach's philosophy, Marx sustains that the role of philosophers is not to interpret the world but to "transform it." (Materialismo dialettico e materialismo storico, La Scuola, Brescia 1962, pp. 81-86). This would seem to have been achieved in 1917, in Moscow, where, for the first time in history, Communism came to power and began its diffusion in the world. Stalin succeeded Lenin (after his death in 1924) eliminating Trotsky's dissidence which accused him of "betraying" the Revolution. In Italy, while Gramsci - imprisoned by Fascism - was elaborating his "philosophy of praxis" in his Quaderni dal carcere, Palmiro Togliatti, the most faithful among the Stalinists, led the Communist Party clandestinely and there after during the postwar period. With the help(even financial) of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party became the second Italian party after the Christian Democrats.

According to Gramsci, the success of the Communists was not possible in Italy without the collaboration of the Catholics. The betrayal of the "Catholic Democrats" was necessary not so much to gain power, but to keep it. "Catholic Democracy does what Communism could never do: it amalgamates, orders, vivifies and commits suicide (…) The working class is to the socialists what Kerensky was to Lenin (I popolari, in L'ordine nuovo, 1 novembre 1919). Togliatti applied Gramsci's lesson, in particular, when the election of John XXIII, and the Second Vatican Council opened by him on October 11, 1952, created an unexpected window of opportunity.

On March 7, 1963, John XXIII received in the Vatican, Alexis Adjubei - Khrushchev's son-in-law and Director of the Izvestija Agency. A few days later, Togliatti, in full election campaign, officially proposed a collaboration between Catholics and Communists (Rinascita, March 30, 1963). In the elections of April 29, The Italian Communist Party increased by a million votes, coming mainly from Catholic environments. Togliatti died in Yalta, in 1964, while the Christian Democratic Party was forming the first "centre-left" governments, with the blessing of the new Pontiff, Paul VI. The Second Vatican Council closed on December 8, 1965, not uttering a single word about Communism, although almost 500 Council Fathers had asked for its official condemnation.

In 1973, after the rise and fall of the Socialist-Communist government of Salvador Allende in Chile, the new Secretary of the Italian Communist Party, Enrico Berlinguer (1922-1984), published in the Party's magazine Rinascita, a series of Reflections on Italy after the events in Chile, wherein he put forward a proposal of "historical compromise" that would bring the Communists to the government painlessly, with the backing of the Christian Democrats. Berlinguer's main contact was Aldo Moro, who enjoyed the complete trust of Paul VI and who [subsequently] began constructing ground for a government with the Communists.

The years between 1974 and 1976 were the most successful electorally for the Italian Communist Party, and in the elections of June 21, 1976, it gained 34.4% of the votes expressed. However, in 1978, the tragic death of Aldo Moro, followed a few months later by that of Paul VI, slowed down the realization of the historical compromise, while in the Soviet Union, struck by a colossal economic crisis, Mikail Gorbachev's perestroika was being formed. In 1989, there was the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union began its auto-dissolution. "The way the decomposition of the Soviet Union and accordingly its empire happened, remains mysterious" writes Francois Furet in his study on Il passato di un'illusione (Mondadori, Milano 1995, p. 354). With no bloodshed, between 1989 and 1991, the Soviet nomenclature disbanded the old company, and put itself at the head of the new one. Communism freed itself of its bureaucratic apparatus, in Russia and in the World, giving the impression that the Communist idea could have its say in new forms and modalities of action.

On February 3, 1991, also the Italian Communist Party deliberated its own disbandment, consequently promoting the constitution of the Leftist Democratic Party (PDS). On February 14, 1998, The PDS, at the end of the States General of the Left, again changed its name to Democrats of the Left (DS), a team that was, in turn, the founder of the Ulivo, created under the initiative of Romano Prodi, who finally got the Communists into the government in 1996. The Ulivo then merged into the Democratic Party (PD) founded in 2007 and today now governs.

The ideological roots of these groups and parties following one another over the last thirty years is Marxist-Leninist, refined by the teachings of Antonio Gramsci and the Catho-Communist praxis of Enrico Berlinguer, which still enjoys great popularity even among those that should be its enemies. Eugenio Scalfari, in commemorating the 35 years since Berlinguer's death, wrote that "Enrico Berlinguer had a role in Italian politics (and not only there) in some way similar to what Pope Francis is having today in the Catholic religion (and not only there). Both have followed a path of such radical reformism, producing revolutionary effects; both have been loved and respected even by their adversaries: both have the charisma that grasped reality and fostered a dream." (La Repubblica, June 9, 2019).

For Pope Francis, likewise for Berlinguer, praxis is more important than doctrine, action more than thought, the result more that the means of reaching it. In an essay on Lenin and Our Party, published in the May 1960 edition of Rinascita, Palmiro Togliatti summed up the essence of Marxist-Leninism in a quotation by Marx and Engels: "Our theory is not a dogma, but a guide to action".

Communism is not theory, it is revolutionary praxis, and the Revolution doesn't create but destroys. All that matters is to bring down the enemy, which is always: the family, private property, the State and the Church. Any metamorphosis, any alliance is licit. Those who collaborate in this enterprise are welcome and whatever means necessary are used to attain the goal. The genealogical research of the Italian Communist Party, helps us to understand the continuity that still exists today among its forefathers and their descendants.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana