The Tailor of Ulm: A History of Communism
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Twenty years have passed since the Italian Communists’ last Congress in 1991, in which the death of their party was decreed. It was a deliberate death, accelerated by the desire for a “new beginning.” That new beginning never came, and the world lost an invaluable, complex political, organizational and theoretical heritage.
In this detailed and probing work, Lucio Magri, one of the towering intellectual figures of the Italian Left, assesses the causes for the demise of what was once one of the most powerful and vibrant communist parties of the West. The PCI marked almost a century of Italian history, from its founding in 1921 to the partisan resistance, the turning point of Salerno in 1944 to the de-Stalinization of 1956, the long ’68 to the “historic compromise,” and to the opportunity—missed forever—of democratic transformation.
With rigor and passion, The Tailor of Ulm merges an original and enlightening interpretation of Italian communism with the experience of a militant “heretic” into a riveting read—capable of broadening our insights into contemporary Italy, and the twentieth-century communist experience.
the Soviet Union. After forming a govern ment in 1 945, it did more than other European Socialist party to reform the social-economic system, basing itself on the Keynesian inspired Beveridge report and the dynamism of men like Aneurin Bevan. But the opposite happened in the sphere of foreign policy: Labour adopted the line put forward by Churchill at Fulton, and the foreign secretary, Ernest Bevin, became one of its most zealous practitioners. The explanation for this is simple, as Keynes
At th nd of t h wa r, Pol a nd h a I b n t h o u n t ry i n w h i h i t w mo t d i ff i u l t o pu t t th r I lt l r h ving I n r rl gi ·a l ly ov nn n , i t I r i r , Lt n · · THE S H O CK O F T H E TWENTIETH C O N G R E S S 115 repressed, as well as internally divided. Driven by intense patriot ism, after centuries of being squeezed between two large, arrogant empires, the national movement detested the Russians (who had agreed to the country's partition before liberating it) more than it
showed great entrepre1 1 ·u ri · 1 l O a i r a n d w e re s u i t abl y honest and conscious of their role, t'O i l 1 1 1 1 i t t d t o i n vesting p u bl i c fu nds to give the country a modern i n l u st 1·ia l bas · ( for ·xa m pl e, a steel i n d u try th a t used mineral ore i i L't •n I o f s ·r, r m ·t a l , or o i l · x p l o r a t i o n g a re d to the prod uc t i on of r t rc ·h mi ·a l . 1 d s y 1 t l r i f i t r s ) . n a mor l i pper y H in t 1 1 I t o m. k U J f < tl · n1 n r : .
include the Communists but ruled out a break with them. The Christian Democrats, apart from a small minority, did not take it seriously. The Vatican and the Americans sensed a trap and vetoed it without a second thought. The events of '56 and the meeting in Pralognan (see p . 1 27) put it onto the agenda, but when Saragat explained that it would only involve an expansion of the Centre majority and take the PSI into the Atlantic camp, a maj ority of Socialists opposed the whole idea. Meanwhile,
inter nal discussion. And one can certainly wonder how things would have turned out three years later, if the great wave of struggles involving workers, students and other democratic forces had been in a position to aim at bringing down a weak conservative govern ment that lacked popular support. It is reasonable to think that Italian history could have taken a different road, less rocky and more alive with opportunities for reform. If, in the changed inter national situation, the DC had been