Chapter 6: What the Communists really are, and what we must do with them

Princes (…) have found more loyalty and usefulness in the men who, at the beginning of their reign, have been held to be suspect than in those who then had their trust (…) I would say only this, that the prince will always be able to gain with very great ease those men who in the beginning of a principality had been enemies, who are the kind who need to lean upon others to bear themselves up; and they are more powerfully forced to serve him with faith, insomuch as they know it more necessary for them to erase with works that sinister opinion which one had of them. And thus the prince always draws greater utility from them than from those who, serving with too much security, neglect his things. Machiavelli, [Chapter XX] The Prince At this point of this pseudonymous work, there will certainly be people who, in the course of their reading, have recognized our hand behind a good number of the preceding arguments. We do not want these readers, reading what follows, to change their opinions because, if they have divined from whom this exposé emanates, what comes now is only apparently in contradiction with our prior stances and, moreover, was already announced in the preface to this pamphlet. If it is true that, in the past years, if not the last few months, we have said and repeated in answer to the “Communist question” the celebrated phrase by Phaedra’s fox, they are too green [Latin in original], we must now make it clear that the fox had his reasons to say this, just as today there are other reasons to change one’s mind about everything. In truth, it is not at all a question of a subjective change of opinion on our part but, rather, the objective occurrence of the possibility for a useful and necessary change that we – in the company of other, no less qualified people – have been tasked with preparing, and have been so tasked since the time when it still seemed appropriate for us to emphasize the disadvantages of that change. There is nothing in the world that has its decisive moment, and the capstone of good conduct, especially in politics, is recognizing and seizing the moment. We will not say that this change of premise creates novelties in the treatment of a question that, in fact, is not new: we will say what is necessary and what has become urgent. For those who have had the occasion to know us in the past, what will be new here will only be our current disposition towards the Communists, which has in fact shown through in the preceding chapters. The hour has come in which it is both necessary and possible to reject a large part of the defects in our nation: the ruse that suits the current situation is doing without one; intelligence consists in never forgetting it; and, in this case, what is prudent is not having too much prudence. At such a moment, it is more important to pay attention to not missing the opportunity, which excellently makes the most of a hundred others in different directions, because “neither the seasons nor time wait for anyone.”[1] Henceforth are finished the seasons of verbal games of prestige in which our political trapeze-artists measure themselves in “parallel convergence” with the Communists, offering them what has been called the “strategy of attention,” i.e., the indefinitely long wait before reaching the “historic compromise,” which the President of the Council, the Honorable [Aldo] Moro, has defined – with the precautions that have obligated him to walk on eggshells – as “a kind of meeting half-way, something new, which both is and is not a change in the roles of the majority and opposition [parties], the outlining of a diversity that doesn’t consist in a change of leadership, but in a modifying addition of the Communist component to the others.” So much noise just to make an omelet! [French in original.] Among the political leaders [English in original] who for months have gargled with the “historic compromise” so as to ward it off, no one has yet spoken of the principal and simplest truth in the matter: the “historic compromise” is, in the true sense of the term, a compromise only for the Communists and not at all for us. For us, the agreement with the Communists is not at all “historic,” at least if we want to call “historic” any tactical action that we find it necessary to take to make those who do not want to work go to work. But in this case, and lacking such an agreement, how many “historic charges” will our police forces have to lead at the factories? And with what results? Even the former Minister of Labor, the Socialist [Luigi] Bertoldi – who was considered by a right-wing journalist, Domenico Bartoli, to be “a subtle interpreter of the Hegelian dialectic” – said it better than anyone else, and once and for all: “We must decide if we want to govern through the unions or the carabinieri.” Because that is the heart of the question, which is as much political as it is economic, because – throughout the last few years – we could have gained much more if we had been able to use the unions three times more than we used the carabinieri. Alberto Ronchey,[2] who is far from the best Italian editorialist, recently wrote that the greatest economic problem we currently face is convincing people to work, and he was right. At present, it is no longer possible to allow ourselves to live by always hoping that the workers will delay their smoldering revolt for “one more moment,” or that our industry will regain its breath and vigor, although the anarchy of protest still reigns in our factories. Meanwhile, Italy changes governments, one after another; each of them only lasts for several months; and these are governments that are constantly and uniquely engaged in the titanic enterprise of remaining in power a little longer than what appears possible to them, all the while deflecting all questions, even the least important ones, because they would be enough to make them fall. But who today could better impose on the country a period of convalescence, during which the workers would cease struggling and go back to work, than the Communists? Who would be a better Minister of the Interior than Giorgio Amendola[3] when it comes to the eradication of the delinquency that has spread to all levels of society or the silencing of the agitators, either through good or less good methods? We must undertake a long-term governmental effort and, to do this, we must have a solid and resolute government. Today, not accepting a “compromise” such as the one in question in truth means, for us, accepting the fatal compromise of the very existence of tomorrow. We must remember that neutrality in such an affair is the daughter of irresolution and that “irresolute princes most often follow the neutral route in order to avoid present perils, and most often end in ruin.”[4] So as to not see the real danger, we feign to believe that the agreement with the Italian Communist Party [ICP] is a danger, and we flee before both of them. Even if they are obliged to admit the justness and utility of what we are saying, timorous spirits may find in our remarks the slight fault that they appear to set little value on the dangerous aspect of placing a Communist party at the heart of political power when, at this stage of the crisis, our powers are incapable of continuing to make the workers work. Who will guard our guardians? [Latin in original.] We would respond to such an objection that it is without foundation and that fear is a bad advisor. First of all, we must never fear a future and hypothetical danger at a moment when we are dying from a present and certain one, and, moreover, we must never risk all of our fortunes without risking all of our forces.[5] Since the current strength of the Communist Party and the unions has already served us well and, in fact, has been our principal support since the autumn of 1969, and since the effects of this support have, until now, been quite insufficient to reverse the process, there is no doubt that our interests lie in galvanizing this strength as a matter of great urgency, and to do so by offering it [access to] the central point of application in society, that is to say, by introducing that strength into the center of State power. On the other hand, we will say that the alleged future dangers of Communist participation in our government only exist in the sphere of illusions about the revolutionary tendency that the Communist Party constitutes in our society. These illusions were artificially spread at an epoch that is now over, that is, when they were useful for the defense of a world that (the times having changed) today wants to be defended with the support of these same Communists. Only our current crop of politicians – who, despite their unfortunate failures, aspire to become [permanently] autonomous in their existence as simple delegates of Italian society in the service of its governmental administration – still pretends to hold as a real [and permanent] fact in strategic reasoning that which (i.e., the allegedly revolutionary tendencies of the ICP) was never anything more than an ideological “export” for consumption by the people. Which makes these worn-out leaders subject to this severe condemnation: what they in fact want when they hang on to their old specializations (when necessary modernization imposes “recycling” on them) is not to prolong (for their own limited interests) the apparent existence of a trade that they still know how to ply, but a trade that they do not know how to ply. The Trojan Horse is only to be feared when there are Achaeans inside it. The Communist Party has wanted to manufacture, and even must still [try to] manufacture, a certain costume to disguise itself as the enemy of our City-State, but it is not such an enemy, just as our leader is not Ulysses. In fact, the Italian Communist resembles the carpenter in A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream who lets half of his face be seen through the mask he is wearing and who says to the members of the audience: “I (…) entreat you, – not to fear, not to tremble: my life for yours. If you think I come hither as a lion, it were the pity of my life: no, I am no such thing.” And precisely because we dare to admit that the Italian workers, who have taken the offensive in the social war, are our enemies, we know that the Communist Party is our support. We can no longer continue to reassure the country by pretending that the opposite is true, because we have come to the moment of truth, when lies no longer work and only force will do.[6] In past years, when we happened to speak of the Communists with Raffaele Mattioli, we never heard that he found them worrisome, and many times we heard him repeat the same conclusion: “They are quite brave.” When Togliatti, a year before his death,[7] sent his last book to Mattioli, he (both flattered and amused) showed to us the dedication, which was written in the famous turquoise-blue ink of the Communist leader [English in original] whom imbeciles feared and we appreciated: “To My Friend (…) with the only regret that I cannot call you Comrade,” if our memory serves us well. Who knows if Raffaele Mattioli, were he still with us, would not, in his turn, have written a dedication of the following type: “To Comrade Amendola,[8] in the hopes of soon being able to call you ‘Your Excellence.’” In any event, we will not let ourselves forget that, for a long time, our parliamentary majority has ruled with the Communist opposition, and that the Communist opposition has been opposed to the same things to which the majority has been opposed. And yet today the entire political life of this country is paralyzed by the simple idea – a nightmare to the Christian Democrats – of granting a few administrative posts to the Communists. Until quite recently, the Christian Democrats found semi-rational justifications for the necessity of their keeping a monopoly on power by continuing to hide the manner in which that power has been managed, as well as by hiding several particular facts that were so scandalous that, if they were known, would have immediately caused the immediate dissolution of their party. But now that these facts are, little by little, becoming known throughout the country, these justifications have become null and void, and it is the dissolution of Italy itself that we must avoid, if we can. Let us pose the question: What is the alternative to the “historic compromise”? Sooner or later, we will be in a situation in which neither the Communists, the unions, the forces of law and order, nor the secret services will be able to prevent the workers from mounting a general insurrection, all the consequences of which are difficult to foresee. In the best of hypothetical situations – and we only see two of them – if this insurrection does not become a pure and simple civil war, that is to say, if the Communists succeed in taking command of it (first by seeming to participate in the insurrection and then by seizing command of it), it is obvious that Berlinguer[9] would be able to set his conditions, and he would not be disposed to sharing his government with us. Riding the crest of the insurrectionary movement, the Communists would seize control of the State in the name of the workers, whom they would call upon to defend it. But, on the contrary, what seems to us more probable is that the credibility of the Communist Party among the workers would be completely exhausted at the moment of an insurrection – this is quite foreseeable – with the result that the Communists’ attempts at “recuperation” among the ranks of the insurgents would be useless or impossible. Civil war would no longer be avoidable, and the Communist Party, amputated from its base, inevitably made up of revolutionaries, would no longer be of any use to us. These are the two variations that form the [single] alternative to the “historic compromise.” There is no third one. [Latin in original.] During such an event, what would become of the Atlantic Alliance, which is already in a state of crisis? And what about the Warsaw Pact, which was powerless during the workers’ insurrections in Szczecin and Gdansk?[10] In the tragedy that would follow and play itself out in a theatre of war that would be no less vast than the territories affected by the current crisis, we would only be able to repeat – in the guise of a useless mea culpa – this verse from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon: Where, where does the Law hide? Reason despairs of its powers, Intelligence gropes numbly, Its swift resources are dead. Our rule is compromised, Disaster is near: Where can I turn?[11] In sum, our opinion today on the “Communist question” can be summarized in a single phrase: We do not make a question of that which is no longer one, while the real questions and problems do not wait upon the decisions of Senator Fanfani, who is slow in providing what may prove of use,[12] to get irremediably worse. Giovanni Agnelli[13] – who is, among our young men of power, perhaps the [only] one who can flatter himself with possessing an intelligence that is the most deeply rooted in the reality of our epoch – has openly offered the same analysis that we have put forward. Despite certain differences in the details, our views converge where the majority of the conclusions are concerned. Without saying anything about our private commitments, we will content ourselves with recalling to our readers one of his publicly stated positions, enunciated at the beginning of 1975: If our sickness is nearly fatal, we are allowed to think that the Communist Party has understood the necessity of making good use of it, so that we can all save ourselves together. So that class hatred does not come to set the world on fire and divide it into two parties: the enragés in the streets and the others in their bunkers [English in original] with their bodyguards. We could not say it any better ourselves. Finally, let us conclude. With the aid of the Communist Party, we will either succeed in saving our domination, or we will not succeed [at all]. If we do succeed, we will easily dismiss the Communists, as well as a large part of the current political personnel, as if they were domestic servants. The Communists themselves have already and clearly accepted this as an article in their work contract, and we have known since Heraclitus that “all that crawls upon the earth is governed by blows.” And if we do not succeed, nothing else will matter, because everyone will admit that it would be the worst of byzantine discussions – when the Turks are at the ramparts – to calculate which trophies are going to be awarded to the Greens and the Blues at the circus,[14] in a world that will have collapsed. [1] Baltasar Gracian, Paragraph CCLXIX, “Make Use of the Novelty of Your Position,” The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1637). [2] Employed by Corriere della Sera. [3] Giorgio Amendola (1907-1980) was a deputy in the Italian Communist Party from 1948 to his death. He advocated non-Marxist positions and the making of alliances with other political parties, especially the Socialists. [4] Machiavelli, Chapter XXI, The Prince. [5] Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, Book I, Chapter 23. [6] Machiavelli, Chapter VI, The Prince. [7] Palmiro Togliatti, a leader of the Italian Communist Party, died in 1964. [8] Giorgio Amendola (1907-1980) was a member of the Italian Communist Party. [9] Enrico Berlinguer (1922-1984) was a leader of the Italian Communist Party. He favored a “Euro-Communism” that would be separate from the Soviet Bloc. [10] December 1970. [11] In point of fact, this verse is not from Aeschylus’ Agamemnon. [12] A line from Horace’s Art of Poetry. Latin in original. [13] The director of FIAT Motors (1921-2003). [14] Factions in the Byzantine chariot races, circa the Fifth Century CE.