When Mussolini was removed by a palace coup in July 1943 the masses came out onto the streets, rejoicing at the fall of the hated dictator. Ted Grant wrote an article shortly after those events stressing that this was the beginning of the revolution in Italy and beyond.

It is not easy to be a saint, and least of all in the sinful world of the 21st century - or so one might think. But this opinion is definitely not shared by Pope John Paul II. In fact, he has already manufactured no fewer than 474 of them during his stint at the Vatican. So there can be no complaints about his level of productivity. He has become an enthusiastic market leader in the saint-manufacturing business.

How do we explain the fact that Berlusconi made such a surprising comeback in the recent Italian elections? He waged a rabidly reactionary election campaign, attacking “Communists” everywhere, defending the better-off layers of society. Prodi’s coalition offered the workers only more “sacrifices”, dampening enthusiam for the Centre-Left coalition. Now a new period of instability opens up in crisis ridden Italy.

Last Friday Italy was shaken by yet another general strike. Tomorrow the engineering workers march on Rome. On Saturday there is a protest against detention centres for illegal immigrants. Last October 25th, 70,000 students protested in Rome. The right wing Berlusconi government is under constant pressure from the workers and youth. It could be brought down today if it were not for the trade union leaders and leaders of the left parties.

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. But now that the right wing is in power we can expect an explosive situation in the labour movement.

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