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PSI 1914-1918 - The Great War

Was the Italian Socialist Party loyal to its government during the war, when Italian independence was in danger of being destroyed by the invasion of the Central Powers ? The answer is that it was not. The Socialist Party issued an official manifesto at the opening of the war in which it opposed the war and urged the soldiers to throw down their arms and go home. This was in 1915. The Socialist Union, which was organized by pro-war Socialists, did not succeed in attracting to itself many of the members of the party. It formed an alliance with the so-called " Reformist Socialists," who had split away from the party, following the war with Tripoli.

The Socialists organized an elaborate defeatest campaign in the army, by leaflets and pamphlets and personal propaganda. As a result of this came the so-called Caporetto disaster, which nearly reraited in Italy's conquest. The Austrian and German armies penetrated through gaps left open for them by Socialized Italian regiments. Even after the popular national revolution and stiffening of patriotic resolve, the Socialist Party again issued another defeatist manifesto against the war. The official statements of the Italian government, in and out of parliamentary debate, admit that this Socialist treachery almost brought about Italy's downfall. The theoretical Socialist opposition to war was, therefore, in Italy's case, inexorably carried out in practice.

The Italian Party joined the international demonstration decided upon by the International Socialist Bureau on 21 July 1919 with the result that Italian Socialists alone among the "Allied" Socialists, conducted a general strike in protest against the Russian blockade. Entire provinces were prostrated by the industrial standstill. All traffic and communication ceased and in more than 240 municipalities, among them, Genoa and Florence, Soviets were established.

The Socialist Party denounced the Paris Peace and the proposed League of Nations, seeing in this attempt the recreating of the Holy Alliance among the conquerors, to oppress not. only politically, but also economically, the conquered populations, dumb victims of the mistakes and rapacity of the bourgeoisie, captained by imperialistic capitalism and against the international proletariat.

The General Confederation of Labor, which was the strongest labor federation, had endorsed the war position of the party and was instrumental in forcing the Italian Government to discontinue its participation in the anti-Russian campaign. The government was also forced to publicly announce that no more troops would be sent to Russia, that no munitions would be dispatched, and that no Italian steamers would be allowed to transport munitions or materials to the Russian counter-revolutionary elements.



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