Italy

In the darkest days of the Italian labour movement in the early 1930s, shortly after Mussolini had consolidated his grip on power, and as many Italian Communists and Socialists languished in fascist prisons or were forced to live in exile, a small group of Communist Party members, including three Central Committee members, turned to Trotsky as they attempted to build an opposition to the Stalinist leadership of Togliatti. Here we publish five letters of Trotsky to the newly formed group.

Twenty years ago what was once a mighty Communist Party of nearly two million members, the Italian PCI, was dissolved and was transformed into the Democratic Party of the Left, later to become the Democratic Party. In the process the party split in two, with those opposing this change setting up the Party of Communist Refoundation. This article by Roberto Sarti of the Editorial Board of Falcemartello looks at how this came about and draws some lessons for today’s communists.

In what to many may seem an amazing transformation, the bulk of the old Italian Communist Party, the biggest Communist Party in the West, has fused with a bourgeois party known as the Margherita, to form the Democratic Party. Here we provide the background to how this came about.

In the run up to the referendum on the EU constitution in France, a very popular intellectual, Toni Negri, decided to weigh in for the debate. Negri has now put himself on the same side as Chirac and Raffarin, the French bosses and the worst social democratic reformists, and come out in favour of a “yes” vote.

In an earlier article we reported on the tremendous struggle of the FIAT Melfi workers. Since then the workers have gone back, having gained some important victories, but nowhere near to what they could have won had the trade union leadership reflected the same level of militancy as the workers.

The "Hands off Venezuela" Italy campaign, after a very good start in Milan, on Friday, April 30, went to Pavia. There we had a meeting with 20 people organised by the Marxist magazine FalceMartello.

Last Saturday once again the streets of the Italian capital were flooded by demonstrators. It is really hard to give an exact figure when demonstrations reach such numbers but clearly more than one million workers and youth marched through the streets of Rome, in one of the biggest demos against the occupation of Iraq anywhere in the world.

On Friday October 24, about ten million workers took part in the 4-hour general strike called by the trade union federations Cgil-Cisl-Uil in opposition to the Berlusconi government’s proposed counter-reform of the pension system. According to the trade union leaders, 1.5 million people participated in over 100 demonstrations throughout the whole of Italy.

After two years of uninterrupted mass mobilisations, the political landscape in Italy is now changing. Since 2001 we have witnessed a whole series of struggles, including two 24hour general strikestwo multi-million demonstrations in Rome and dozens of national and local demonstrations numbering tens or hundreds of thousands of participants.

Despite the propaganda of the mass media, millions of workers and youth have flooded onto the streets of cities all around the world to protest against the attack on Iraq. On Friday Greece was brought to a standstill by a massive 4 hour general strike. More than 150,000 people demonstrated in Athens, in addition to tens of thousands around Greece, while airports, banks, public services, public transport, ferry boats and passenger ships, supermarkets and stores were shut down as a result of the strike.

On Friday October 18 over one million workers demonstrated in 120 cities and towns all over Italy against the right wing government. The general strike was called by the Cgil in protest against the suppression of article 18 of the 'Workers' Statute' (see previous articles on this issue) and against the proposed budget presented by the government. This strike marks a new turning point in the class struggles in Italy. Deep changes and further struggles are clearly under way.

Everyone will remember the massive demonstrations that took place last year in July during the G8 summit in Genoa (Italy). Tragically a young Italian student was shot dead by the police. The police, backed by the government, were clearly out to smash the movement. Could measures have been taken beforehand to avoid this and to better defend the demonstrations? Clearly the "leadership" of the movement was unprepared for what happened. In this article, Dario Salvetti, a supporter of the Italian Marxist journal, FalceMartello, who actively took part in the Genoa demonstrations analyses the limits of the movement and draws a balance sheet of

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On 3rd April 100,000 people marched in a demonstration in Rome against the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. A week later another demonstration of over 50,000 took place. There is a lot of opposition to the NATO bombing among the workers and youth in Italy in spite of the government's support.

Introduction

The two articles published below were written for the Italian Marxist journal, FalceMartello. The first one was published in September of last year, round the time when the 'Year 2000 women's march against poverty and violence' was about to reach Rome on a world-wide route that ended in New York in October. The second was published just after International Women's Day (March 8th) 2000.

The defeat of the Olive Tree coalition in the recent general election in Italy came as no surprise to anyone. In the past five years it had carried out a series of anti-working class measures that had led to the disillusionment of a significant layer of workers and youth. The Olive Tree was an alliance between the PDS (Party of the Democratic Left, now known as the Left Democrats, simply DS) and a a number of smaller, bourgeois parties. Its policies were in line with the needs of the capitalists rather than those of the workers.

The general strike in Italy on April 16 was much more than just a major work stoppage lasting eight hours involving more than 10 million workers. It was also a major milestone in a process that started a number of years ago and that has already gone through a number of qualitatively important stages: e.g. the metal workers' general strike on July 6 last year, the anti-G8 demonstrations last year in Genoa on the day following the murder of Carlo Giuliani by the police (and in spite of the government's threats) in which more than 300,000 people took part and finally the national demonstration in Rome organised by the CGIL trade union on March 23 this year in which more than 2.5 million

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A letter written to the Italian Trotskyists in 1930 in which Trotsky deals with the question of the Constituent Assembly and the perspectives for Italy at that time. He severely criticises those who attempted to mix the slogan of the Constituent Assembly with that of workers' soviets, and also showed incredible insight into how the process would unfold once the Mussolini regime collapsed.