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Communist Party of Italy (PCI) 1919-1921

The official Socialist Party was formed at the Congress of Genoa in 1892, and ever since, in spite of the secessions of anarchists and syndicalists on the one hand and prowar Reformists on tho other, it has remained the representative of the main body of Italian socialism. The syndicalists left the party in 1907. After the Milan Congress in 1910, Signor Turati (Moderate) became for a time the leader of the party; but with the outbreak of the Tripoli war the prowar Reformists were expelled, and the antiwar and revolutionary tendencies of the official socialists became steadily stronger, a process which was accelerated by the intervention of Italy on tho side of the Allies in 1915.

In 1909 a Bolshevist school was established in Capri, Italy, on funds secured by Maxim Gorky. That school was organized by the following men: Lenine, Maxim Gorky, Lunacharsky, Alexinsky, Bogdanov, and Milliallov. After the disaster of Caporetto, in the fall of 1917, revolution in Italy appeared imminent. At Turin, it actually seemed to have arrived. The familiar reasons for Bolshevist revolution existed. The people lacked food and coal, and they were physically and psychically exhausted.

This culminated in March, 1919, in the adherence of the party to the Third (or Moscow) International. The party declared its approval of the soviet system and discussed schemes for the immediate establishment of Soviets in Italy. By 1919, outside Russia the leading Bolshevist movements that had come out into the open and signified their formal alliance with Lenin's Government were the Spartacist movement in Germany, the Communist Government in Buda-Pest and the Italian Official Socialist Party. The failure of Bolshevism both in Germany and Hungary had gone far to ruin Bolshevist prestige in Europe; and Bolshevism is finding itself more and more driven back into Russia, there to defend itself against the population over which it had tryrannised so ruthlessly for more than eighteen months.

At first the Bolshevist Socialists of Italy were disposed to apply immediately the identical methods of violence used in Russia. But Lenine's emissaries protested, chiefly, no doubt, because - as he said - immediate European revolutions would impede his efforts to secure peace, military supplies, and the most essential industrial equipment. The continued success of the Russian revolution, he urged, was indispensable for the success of the impending revolutions in Italy and Europe. Therefore an immediate revolution in Italy would be "premature." But by 1920 Russian and Italian Bolshevists were agreed that the Italian revolution must come very soon and that no moment is to be lost. They also accepted Lenine's view that the conditions in the two countries are different and that other methods must be used.

After the Moscow Congress of the Third International, it became necessary for the party to reconsider the question of its adherence to the Third International in the light of the 21 conditions of admission. With this object a national congress was held at Leghorn in January, 1921. At the time of this congress there were three large and several minor factions in the Italian Socialist Party. The three large factions were the Concentrationists, the Unitarian Communists, and the Communists.

The Center and Right (or "concentration" group) of the official Socialist Party held a conference at Reggio (Emilia) on October 10 and 11, 1920, at which a resolution was carried unanimously declaring that the conference was absolutely opposed to any split within the party and also to the ostracism of individuals, unless due to disagreement on the fundamental principles of socialism. The conference confirmed the adherence of the party to the Third International, but insisted that the 21 conditions must be applied in each country according to its own peculiar situation; anarchist and syndicalist groups and Masonic elements should be rigidly excluded from the sections of the Third International. D'Aragona and Baldesi (secretaries of the C. G. L.), Buozzi and Colombino of the Metal Workers' Union (F. I. O. M.), Galli and Reda of the Textile Workers' Federation, Violante of the Chemical Workers' Federation (F. I. O. C), and Mazzoni and Signora Altobelli of the Agricultural Workers' Federation are among the leading members of this group.

The Unitarian Communist group (Frazione Communista Unitaria) held a conference at Florence on November 20 and 21, 1920. This group consisted of those socialists who considered themselves communists and wished to join the Third International, but desired to preserve the unity of the party, and therefore could not accept Moscow's 21 conditions without reservations. The leader of the group was Signor Serrati, editor of the Avanti.

In the beginning of October, 1920, a number of representatives of the Left wing of the official Socialist Party met at Milan and formed a communist section, including all who accepted unconditionally the decisions of the Congress of the Third International. The provisional committee of this section includes Nicola Bombacci, Amadeo Bordiga, and Luigi Polano.

At the national congress of the Socialist Party at Leghorn the three large sections of the party clashed over the question of adherence to the Third International. All three sections declared their adherence to the Third International. But the Right and Center claimed national autonomy in the interpretation and application of the conditions, while the Left accepted them without reserve. In the final voting the motion of the Center group, which, led by Signor Serrati, was striving for socialist unity, was carried by 98,028 votes against 58,695.

The Left wing, under the leadership of Signori Bombacci and Bordiga, thereupon withdrew in a body and held a meeting to set up a new "Communist Party, Italian Section of the International." The Moscow Communists recognized this new party but refused to accept the adherence of the majority, composed of the old Right and Center, which retained the name of Italian Socialist Party.

Centrist tendencies caused a split in the party in Italy. According to the Theses and resolutions adopted at the third world congress of the Communist, (June 22nd-July 12th, 1921) "The party and trade-union leaders of the Serrati group, instead of transforming the spontaneous action of the working classes and their growing activity, into the conscious struggle for power for which the situation was ripe in Italy, allowed these movements to become stranded. They turned their backs on Communism which would have shaken the working masses out of their lethargy and united them for the struggle. And because they were afraid of the struggle, they diluted the communist propaganda and agitation and led it into centrist channels.

In this manner they strengthened the influence of the Centrists, like Turati and Treves in the party, and like D'aragona in the trade unions. Because they did not differ from the centrists either in word or in deed, they would not part company with them. They preferred to part company with the Communists. The Serrati policy, while on the one hand increasing the influence of the reformists, on the other hand increased the danger of the influence of the Anarchists and Syndicalists, and of the danger of the creation of tendencies toward anti-parliamentary and mere revolutionary phrase-mongering within the pary.

The split at Livorno, the forming of the Italian Communist Party, the rallying of all the really communist elements on the basis of the decisions of the Second Congress of the Communist International into a united Communist Party will make Communism a live force among the masses in Italy, if the Italian Communist Party will only maintain an unbending front against the opportunistic policy of the Serrati school and will succeed in identifying itself with the masses of the proletariat in the unions, in strikes, in fights against the counter-revolutionary Fascisti, in consolidating their movements, in converting their spontaneous actions into carefully planned struggle."

The extensive spread of socialism in Italy made this country a most fruitful field for Bolshevist propaganda, and the Soviet Government, fully aware of this advantage, kept in continuous touch with the radical leaders of the Italian Socialist Party and of the General Federation of Labor through numerous emissaries and agents. Engineered by these agents political meetings without number were held in all socialist centers in which the soviet regime was glorified and the workers incited to revolution. Many of these meetings were broken up by members of patriotic societies and sometimes ended with bloody clashes. In the beginning of November, 1920, serious riots occurred in many towns, provoked, according to the Socialists, by patriotic bands (Fascist). These led to a series of general strikes. In spite of this friendly attitude of the Government to labor, communist propaganda was kept up among the working classes and revolutionary demonstrations became everyday occurrences. This convinced the Government that a change of attitude was needed.

Practically overnight there sprung up a patriotic organization, the so-called "Fascisti," which subdued and awed the Italian communists and strikers. In 1919 the Bourgeoisie had lost its head, with Bolshevism advancing as a solid wall. The regained assurance of the bourgeoisie assumed particularly crass forms in Italy after the cowardly betrayal by the Socialist Party in September, 1920. The bourgeoisie believed that it was dealing with wicked murderers and robbers;. now they were convinced that they were dealing with cowards. In 1921: Bolshevism was defeated and dispersed; the Bourgeoisie now a solid wall.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 03:04:06 ZULU