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Mario Pacelli: how a Leninist party ended

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The interview with Claudio Velardi, published in Moondo on Friday 16 March, contains many points of interest for those who have closely undergone the political history of our country in the last half century.

Velardi was the spokesman of Massimo D'Alema, when he was (1998/1999) President of the Council of Ministers, he lived for many years from the inside the events of the PCI: it was not (I use the time passed because after the della Bolognina, the PCI officially no longer exists) any communist: he consciously shared an ideology and a political proposal as emerges from a careful reading of his declarations.

From them, first of all, the awareness of an irretrievably lost political battle, of a clear break with a political past destined to be submerged in the sea of ​​memories, pleasant or unpleasant as they are.

All the leading figures of post-war Italian communism living today perhaps do not think like Velardi, but many elements in fact allow us to assume that it is a widespread way of seeing: Massimo D'Alema now seems completely absorbed by the production of wine on his farm in Umbria, Marco Minniti has become an executive of the public industry, Valter Veltroni has returned to his old love for cinema, with a few episodes for journalism and the list goes on.

Everything therefore suggests that the awareness of the failure, in Italy as well as throughout Western Europe, of the communist ideology and the lack of consensus of the political parties that somehow related to it, is now to be put to the records. It may be because the economic and social scenario of reference has changed with the crumbling of that working class of which communism believed to be the most tenacious defender, as also Velardi seems to believe when he says that the traditional powers that the left intended to defend have now become “strong powers” ​​reality: however, this explanation does not seem to be completely exhaustive since, as he himself affirms, they have appeared on the political and social horizon that await adequate protection.

However, not everything is as simple as it seems: the propensity of capitalism to shoulder the burdens of the welfare state in exchange for a greater freedom than the current one, the configuration of a weak power now depends on its economic potential, which punctually limits its impact. in the management of public affairs, but also above all respect for the fundamental freedoms of the person, in a participatory democracy that guarantees the so-called equality of rights and duties enshrined in art. 3, first paragraph, of the Italian Constitution, what the pandemic is showing with all clarity has not yet happened (just think of the certainly not commendable story of vaccinations).

Let us leave here this more complex discourse than it may seem at first sight and return to the crisis of communism: in my opinion it was due to the errors of the Marxist doctrine regarding the development of capitalism, not taking into account (nor on the other hand Marx, in his day, could have done so) of technological development. To this was added, as far as the party (or national parties) is concerned, their structure being based on the revolutionary hypothesis, as anti-system parties in function of a revolution which had a positive outcome only in Russia and which was exported to other countries afterwards. the end of the Second World War, by virtue of the Yalta agreement between the victorious powers of the conflict and not by the choice of the peoples directly concerned.

In Italy, assigned to the American sphere of influence, it was strength for the secretary of the Italian Communist Party Palmiro Togliatti to accept the parliamentary regime with the change of Salerno in 1944: he best managed the conflict immanent in that accession and being at the head of a Marxist-Leninist party in part of which the myth of the proletarian revolution still reigned: the last sensational gesture was the occupation of the prefecture of Milan (1947) with Pietro secchia announcing in the Prefect's office to the Party Secretary they had conquered the prefecture of Milan and with Togliatti who coldly replies what they now wanted to do with it. When the cards were uncovered and the assassination of Moro, aimed precisely at avoiding a pseudo-parliamentarization of the PCI, made the hypothesis no longer concretely feasible, it was strength for the Communist Party to return to the revolutionary version, with the effect (and the Turin demonstration of Fiat employees, under the skilful orchestration of the steam owners, in response to the picketing of the Mirafiori gates by a group of communists, including Party Secretary Enrico Berlinguer) to encourage the recovery of the economic right.

There is no doubt that, as Velardi affirms, the PCI found itself in serious internal difficulties but it seems absurd to believe that help could come from Craxi in the name of a unity of the left, that is, from a politician who, since the beginning of the in the 70s, as delegate of the PSI to the Socialist International, he had taken positions clearly distinct from the communist ones.

In my opinion, it is possible that Craxi thought for a moment of holding the PCI in an embrace that in the end would prove deadly for the Communists, as was the case in Aldo Moro's projects in favor of Christian Democracy and the meeting with the PCI in governments of democratic solidarity: it is likely, however, that if Craxi had such a thought he must have immediately chased it away, well aware that the "dwarves" present in the secretariat of his party would have taken a cue from that initiative to counter the secretary, which they tended to succeed.

The PCI sank because the old ship had too many construction defects to continue floating: when the Secretary Achille Occhetto, on the eve of the 1994 elections, wanted to transform the party into a "joyful war machine" few did not understand that at that moment the story of a long-foretold shipwreck ended. The biggest flaw was the lack of a government project (such was not the often agreed counter-attack with respect to Christian Democratic initiatives), the prevalence of the ideological part over the political one, the tendency that Velardi precisely detects, of each party to keep the structure existing political, to modify it only on condition that it means acquiring more power in the institutions. This is what Occhetto also did, instead of making a severe self-criticism, together with all the party leadership, for the political errors committed, he preferred to change the name of the party with some "fix" towards Social Democracy, certainly believing in this way to preserve power held at regional and local level, perhaps forgetting that in democracy power is conquered every day by proving to be able to use it in the interest of the community and not of the party.

This is, and Velardi grasps it exactly, the mistake of entrusting the secretariat of the PCI to people who at best believe that it is essential for it to conquer slices of power and not propose a political program for the development of society.

What end the Italian left is destined for in this context remains to be seen: the real problem will be to intercept the will of the citizens who hold on to the vote and not with the street demonstrations to determine national politics through the parties, as required by art. . 49 of the Republican Constitution.

Velardi is right when he reveals his skepticism in this regard, but he certainly remembers that Gramsci spoke of the pessimism of intelligence and the optimism of will.

In a recent interview in Corriere della Sera, Goffredo Bettini, Zingaretti's shadow ideologue, opens his arms to a PD ally of the 5 Star Movement of the “Contian” faith. An unprecedented combination of neo-populists with designer suits and the heirs of the PCI. An idea that only a Roman count could have, perhaps with the secret aim of securing the office of Mayor of Rome to his friend Nicola. Old tactical schemes, old ways of doing politics, old ways of achieving (unfortunately) a new political defeat ...

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