On the weekend of 28 – 29 May, the picturesque town of Cortona in Tuscany was the scene of a very successful national meeting of the supporters of the Fifth Motion, the platform organised by the Italian Marxist tendency, Falce Martello.
The rally (L’assemblea nazionale della quinta mozione) was attended by over 140 comrades from about forty different areas of Italy, from Turin in the north to Sicily in the south. A message of support was sent from Sardinia. This means that Falce Martello is now firmly established as a national tendency, rooted in the Italian Communist Party (Rifundazione Comunista – the Prc). Over two days of intensive debates, the comrades discussed the main aspects of national and international politics, as well as drawing the most important organisational conclusions.
On the first day, the meeting was opened by a speech by comrade Claudio Bellotti, a member of the Prc National Executive, who described the serious crisis of Italian capitalism: “Italian capitalism is sinking like a stone,” he affirmed. Comrade Bellotti pointed out that this was the decisive element that determines the political perspectives. The Italian bourgeoisie has been defeated in every market, internally and external. The only way to get out of the crisis is a brutal attack on the wages, conditions and rights of the working class. They are considering a wage cut of about 30%. That is the meaning of the remarks by Montezemolo of the Italian bosses’ association (Confindustria), who has threatened the unions: “Either you have wage restraint, or we will close the factories one after the other.”
Many of the interventions from the floor expressed strong criticisms at the disappointing results obtained by the Prc after its congress in the regional elections and then in the referendum and local elections in Sicily.
In the course of the debate, the editor of Marxist.com, Alan Woods, underlined the points made by Claudio Belotti regarding the crisis of Italian capitalism. He pointed to a recent statement by analysts at ABN Amro, according to which, in order to recover their competitive position, Italian firms would have to sack up to 500,000 workers. In the past, when the Italian capitalists were in difficulties they could devalue the currency, or increase the budget deficit. But now, under the terms of the euro zone, these avenues have been closed. As a result, the full weight of the crisis would be placed on the shoulders of the Italian workers and middle class:
“In the 1950s and ‘60s, the Italian economy grew rapidly. There was a big increase in living standards – at least in the north of Italy, not the South – to a level higher than Britain. But all that is now finished. The next period will be a period of ferocious class struggles in Italy,” Alan predicted. “The bourgeoisie hoped that Berlusconi would carry through the policy of deep cuts that it needs. But faced with the magnificent movement of the Italian workers, Berlusconi has failed. Now the ruling class is preparing to pass the poisoned chalice to Prodi. But Prodi needs the support of the DS (the Democratic Left) and the latter needs to protect its left flank. That is why they insist that the Prc must join the government. Its idea is to use the Left Parties to do the dirty work, and then when they are discredited, to throw them aside like a dirty dishrag and prepare the way for an even more vicious right wing government. The Marxists must reject coalitions with bourgeois parties and fight for a government of the DS and Prc with a real socialist policy.”
The debate on the second day was on organizational questions. It was introduced by comrade Alessandro Giardiello, who criticised the tendency inside the Prc to abandon serious discussion of political questions in favour of unprincipled squabbling for positions. Alessandro pointed out that the comrades of Falce Martello were well known as hard-working Party activists. They were prepared to take positions, but only those positions that permitted them to carry out serious work:
“We must not only advance our political alternative, but also a concrete proposal for participating and intervening, and against the tendency on the part of some sections towards a split. We are prepared to assume the responsibility of working in the Party, with the sole condition that we be allowed to carry out a real intervention and not to take formal positions that would place comrades in an impossible position,” comrade Giardiello stated.
The rally ended on Sunday with a public meeting held in the Congress Centre of Cortona. The subject was the Venezuelan Revolution, and the speaker was Alan Woods, who has written numerous articles and books about Venezuela. Comrade Woods has recently returned from Venezuela, where he took part in many meetings, especially meetings with worker and trade union activists on workers’ control.
Alan underlined the enormous international importance of the Venezuelan Revolution on an international scale. In the entire continent of Latin America there is not one single stable government and Venezuela now finds itself in the front line of a revolutionary process that extends far beyond its national frontiers. He described the revolutionary events taking place in Bolivia, Ecuador and Mexico, and the counterrevolutionary activities of US imperialism:
Alan Woods addressing the meeting
“Washington cannot tolerate the Venezuelan Revolution, for the same reason it cannot tolerate the Cuban Revolution. It is not just a question of the oil. It is the fact that Venezuela is now a point of reference for the oppressed masses of all Latin America. And the revolutionary movement in Latin America will affect the millions of poor Latino citizens in the United States.”
Alan pointed out that the Venezuelan Revolution was entering into a new stage, with the working class playing an independent role for the first time, occupying factories and instituting workers’ control. President Chavez has declared in favour of socialism, reflecting this. But the revolution is far from finished and its final destiny is not yet decided.
Alan gave a very vivid picture of the mood of the workers in the occupied factories. These words inspired the audience, which spontaneously began to sing the Internationale. It was a very emotional moment in what was a very inspiring and exciting weekend.
Afterwards, a comrade who had a long experience in the Prc and before that in the old Italian Communist Party (PCI) said that she had never before participated in such a meeting: “It is so different. The level of the debates – all of them – was very high and the comrades are all so enthusiastic and motivated. This is what we need to keep on fighting for the cause of socialism.”
1st June 2005