The Italian Proletariat Must Not Allow Itself to Be Deceived Any Longer
In the space of little more than a month, the Italian proletariat has repeated many of its painful past experiences.
The bourgeois maneuver of the Badoglio government
The Badoglio experiment can be defined as a bourgeois attempt, resting on the traditionally conservative basis of the monarchy, to solve the problem of fascism and of an extremely unpopular war, while at the same time parrying, with the mirage of a return to constitutional freedoms, the threat of a proletarian assault on power. It was a question of separating the responsibilities of the bourgeoisie as a whole and in the variety of its institutions from those of government supposedly “above classes”, of making a scandal around a small group of men, so that the indignation of the masses would focus on them and them alone, and would not affect the inviolable majesty of the bourgeois institutions.
Mussolini was thrown to the crowd, and then the party and the major hierarchs were thrown in small doses, so that from day to day the masses would find a new small target to hit and would never find themselves face to face with the real, essential enemy. With the same cunning, demands and promises were dosed little by little, so that when a regime of constitutional freedom was suddenly reached, the proletariat would not be tempted to overthrow it. The big bourgeoisie changed its wig in order not to lose the habit: repeating the experiment of 1922 in reverse, when it created fascism for it was unable to hold back the revolutionary wave released by the crisis of the other post-war period with the framework of democratic institutions; now it liquidated fascism, in agreement once again with the monarchy, for the very same reasons.
The maneuver was even more effective than hoped for, due to the degeneration of the largest workers’ party, the Italian Communist Party, and its heated campaign in favor of the national front that had prepared the ground for it among the masses.
The bourgeoisie had only to make the anti-fascist slogans of union, launched by the centrist party [Italian Communist Party], to thus obtain the consent of the people for the monarchic military dictatorship. It is true that the war continued and the axis remained intact, it is true that the work of constitutional rehabilitation proceeded very slowly, but the bogeyman of the German invasion was used to justify this delay in the supreme decisions, while no serious barriers were put up to it.
Thus, collaborationism, which the Stalinists paraded as a tactic to outsmart the bourgeoisie, was used as always by the bourgeois regime to put the proletariat to sleep.
And the six party bloc – of which the Communist Party was the most important supporter – was tightened, while biting the bullet, around the so-called anti-fascist Badoglio government, accepting offices and honors while denying any political co-responsibility with it, as if the fact of assuming official positions did not imply in itself, regardless of any personal reservation, a co-responsibility with the instigator. Within the Roman anti-fascist committee, the collaborationist ardor reached its peak with the proposals for a government of national reconstruction with an anti-German function under the aegis of the monarchy; in the factories and on the streets, socialist and communist speakers urged calmness, invited the workers to go back to work, in short, accepted the role of barkers of the government because the masses – impatient and ready to fight – let themselves be persuaded not to fight. The popular front betrayal widened: it was no longer Blum or Daladier who was supported, but Badoglio. And they supported him even if, at times, insults were hurled at him. What fear could they instill in a communist party that was ashamed to speak of communism and that, even before the crisis, had declared itself willing to collaborate fraternally with all the varieties of the anti-fascist bourgeoisie, (or rather, the bourgeoisie that became anti-fascist for the occasion) from monarchists to Catholics, from democrats to socialists? The bourgeoisie knew how to evaluate its servants well.
A second maneuver: the armistice
And yet, the situation remained equivocal, indeed it became more and more so as the forces liberated by the collapse of the fascist facade were unleashed. The masses were indeed disoriented by misunderstandings and, confident in the old party flag, the democratic watchwords drowned out the confident voice of class instinct to accept the exhortations of “those who knew more than they did”. But the misunderstanding played a double role: the internal committees – bureaucratized under the auspices of Buozzi and Roveda – refused to be reduced to pure technical bodies, the release of political prisoners – although accompanied in most cases by professions of patriotic loyalty – ignited dangerous hopes, the flame of strikes burned under the ashes. Above all, they wanted peace. Wouldn’t the impetus of the masses, contained at first, re-explode, taking the reins of the situation out of the hands of the leaders? It was then that the feared German and Anglo-Saxon invasion became for the conservative bourgeoisie the providential weapon to achieve the goal of crushing the revolutionary rise of the masses.
Is it any wonder that Badoglio, from July 25 to September 8 and especially from the signing to the publication of the armistice, allowed the German occupation of northern and central Italy? It was necessary, after having wrested the weapon of peace from the hands of the masses and having put them to sleep, to leave the recalcitrant country at the mercy of the two belligerents, to hand it over to them, bound hand and foot, so that it would cease to be an arena for political struggles and become a field for military battles. The German heel would have suffocated the resurgent hydra of the proletarian revolution in the great industrial centers, and the British would then have had the task of restoring the shaky Italian capitalism on a more solid basis. But, before such a risky solution, it was necessary to prepare the psychological terrain and launch the belated idea of an anti-German national guard, so that in the harsh eve of the German occupation, the idea of the war of liberation could bear fruit in the dismayed proletariat alongside, or rather at the rear of, the allies. After having tried to push the working masses on the false path of democratic freedom, they were imprisoned in the meshes of the imperialist war. Having launched the idea, now they only had to repair on the other side, and the Anglo-Americans, who had not ceased to speak of Badoglio’s cuckolding, welcomed him with open arms as the legitimate head of the Italian government.
The naive will be astonished; we understand them very well: the Monarchy was once again the most superb maneuverer, the most solid pillar of the capitalist regime.
The accusation of betrayal that we usually make today to the King or to Badoglio or to any Adami Rossi does not hit the mark. Will he be called a traitor who faithfully serves the interests of his class? Or not rather he who has pushed the proletariat, against its class interests, into the blind alley of a collaboration against which we have not ceased “alone among all others” to warn it?
And it’s useless to discuss, after the disaster, over a responsibility that falls solidly on whoever adhered to the bloc of six, on the Stalinists who at least had the unscrupulousness to support the policy of the blocs, as well as on that hybrid “Movement of Proletarian Unity” (later renamed the Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity) that smuggled an effective collaborationism and an unrestrained hunt for positions under the cover of a temperamental extremism in words only. The only difference was that the goods smuggled by the former bore, alas, the glorious label of a former Leninism.
It is customary to assert, as a justification for this betrayal, that the masses would not have taken up the call for class action anyway. The game is not new: the Party pushes the reluctant masses to ruin then poses as the victim of the masses’ unpreparedness, apathy, lack of revolutionary spirit. The reality was completely different. In those days of bass drum, the workers understood very well that they were being cheated, and they insisted on manifesting concretely their will to fight. They found themselves isolated, without the practical support and ideological guidance of the Party.
The Party and the masses spoke a different language and acted on different levels. Not only, as was belatedly argued, they could not act because of the lack of organizational cadres; they did not want to, because the Party’s policy was moving – in perfect parallelism with Russia’s policy – on the track of democracy and the anti-German war; and they feared the explosion of the masses as much as Badoglio or the King did.
The Possibility and the Necessity of a class revival
The conclusion of this tragic affair lies before the eyes of the proletariat. The solution of the Italian problem, which remained for a few days in the hands of the masses, is today entrusted to the decision of arms.
And, since it is difficult to have any doubts about this decision, it falls back into the hands of the Anglo-Saxon bourgeoisie and, subordinately, of its ally Stalinist Russia, among the ruins that the desperate clash of the two contenders will leave behind. Far from having learned a lesson from the experience, the two old workers’ parties (old even if repainted with brand new acronyms) insist on the path taken and, around the flag of the “National Guard”, which is reduced to a British instrument, and to the sound of Garibaldi’s Hymn, they prepare a new noose to throw around the neck of the proletariat. The proletariat must not let them do it.
The lesson of this month and a half of mistakes is at the same time the confirmation of what we maintained, that the problem of fascism and war is the same as the problem of the capitalist system of production and that, therefore, the only force capable of solving it is the class that fights capitalism, the proletariat.
But in order for the working class to impose its solution, two premises are necessary, premises which are intimately linked to each other: that it does not allow itself to be led astray on the path to power by the many sirens which, in times of crisis, the bourgeoisie mobilizes in order to save itself, and that it knows how to express by itself the party of the revolution. The historical necessity of this party – which is inevitably a vanguard party – is highlighted by the deviations of the politics of compromise and by the opportunistic sabotage of the Revolution.
A new rescue of the bourgeois regime at the expense of the proletariat must no longer be possible. Today, when all parties strive to mobilize the proletariat under the flag of one of the belligerents, we must mobilize it under the flag of the Revolution, which admits neither German military and political domination nor Anglo-Saxon or Russian military and political domination. Against the watchword of national unity, which for us is translated into the formula “let the proletariat bleed itself dry so that order may be saved”, we launch the watchword of the class struggle, prelude and instrument of the revolutionary seizure of power.
The situation, although fraught with difficulties, is not compromised. The Italian crisis is part of a European crisis, or rather a world crisis, which will soon spread to Germany, France and the Balkans, and will not fail to infect those same armies of occupation that Berlin, London and Washington are today maneuvering as instruments of anti-proletarian reaction, and to provoke in bureaucratized Russia a healthy revolutionary revival. Far from attenuating them, the German and Anglo-Saxon occupation deepens the internal contrasts of a Europe horribly upset by the war, and hastens in spite of all bourgeois maneuvers the hour of international revolution. In this eve of laborious gestation, the Italian proletariat must become the vanguard for this world upheaval.
Shortly after the fall of fascism, we affirmed that the crisis could not and should not stop at the restoration of constitutional liberties, and that only the proletariat – not the bourgeoisie, nor the monarchy, nor the Church – had the right to have a decisive say in it. Opportunism, by preventing the proletariat from doing it, has served, as yesterday and as always, the interests of the class enemy.
Let the Italian workers take note of this and draw the necessary consequences.
Long live the proletarian revolution! Long live communism!
THE INTERNATIONALIST COMMUNIST PARTY