Italian Communist Party's new election slogan
BY DOUGLAS HYDE
S. C-IONSCIOUSLY and deliberately the Communist Party of Italy is `t--'using the present General Election campaign to revive the bitter political anti-clericalism which poisoned Italian life in the past but which had been waning in recent years.
At a recent meeting of the party's National Council, the General Secretary, Palmiro Togliatti, gave a long report, the purpose of which was to provide for his followers the Marxist theoretical basis for their election campaign.
It was not a propaganda speech : it was intended as a guide to action by the party members themselves.
In recent years, including during the period of the municipal elections of last year, the Communist tactic has been to stress the breadth of the common ground existing on social and national questions between Cornmunist and Catholic workers and, in particular, those of the Left wing of the Christian-Democrats.
The attempt at building a "united front" was, in other words, based upon an alleged identity of interest on he need for social reform and national survival in the face of American imperialism.
This time the party is attempting instead to form a united front on the basis of a survival of the anti-clericalism which divided Italy for years and which left behind it an appalling I:gacy of hatred.
At no point in his long report did Togliatti refer to the Christian-Democrats (or "Demo-Christians" as they are known in Italy) as such; his references throughout were to "the clericals."
And his purpose was to whip up hatred against them.
Here is what I would regard as the key section of his report, as published in the Cominform journal :
"The clericals represent a political trend which, if it were to tip the scales, might prove fatal. Italy was founded in struggle against clericalism. Clerical supremacy for a long period can only lead to the destruct inn of Italy.
"Overwhelming domination by the clericals signifies decline of economic lire, of political life, decline of parliamentary activity, of education and culture, a return to the hated forms of censorship, police control over thinking and the spread of obscurantism.
"Overwhelming domination by the clericals signifies rejection of all the best Italian traditions in the realm of culture. literature and art. The linest Italian traditions in these spheres are anti-clerical; what is more, they are traditions of open struggle against clericalism."
Then came a threat which should
be noted--despite the denial that follows: "Let not the clerical leaders and those who support them imagine that any result which they may, succeed in achieving in the election campaign by means of intimidating, corruption and fraud. by rigid application of the fraudulent electoral law, let them not imagine that the Italian people will regard this result as in any way binding.
"I do not say this as a threat, but with due consideration to what may happen in the coming years."