The political and social position in Italy is developing at a fast pace. After several years of social truce under the centre-left coalition government, a sharp conflict is developing. Although we are still at the beginning of the process, we can say that its consequences will be far-ranging, and that the struggle that is now opening will affect all layers in the society and will provoke an earthquake in the Italian workers' movement, in the unions and in the left in general.

As a result of the Hands Off Venezuela tour in Italy (see: Successful conclusion to the Hands Off Venezuela speaking tour in Italy), good links were established with the Metal Workers Federation of the CGIL, Italy's main union. Resolutions in support of the Bolivarian revolution and recognising the UNT as the representative of the Venezuelan workers were passed at the FIOM regional congresses in Campania, Emiglia Romagna and Lombardia (see: The trade union situation in Venezuela - Recognising the UNT as the union organizing the majority of workers). Now the National Congress of the FIOM-CGIL, which took place in Livorno on June 2nd to June 5th passed the same resolution, and the union's national secretary Gianni Rinaldini signed the Hands Off Venezuela appeal.

Violent conflict is on the increase all over the world, both in terms of wars between nations and violent clashes between the classes. While war is waged in the Middle East we also see a growing tendency to use more brutal measures against the workers in struggle, with many being killed around the world. What should the position of Marxists be on this question? This has been the subject of debate within the PRC in Italy with Bertinotti taking the position that no form of violence is justifiable.

We are publishing two articles from the Italian Marxist journal Falcemartello which give a clear indication of the level of militancy that is developing among the workers in Italy. Both the FIAT Melfi and the Alitalia disputes highlight the growing contradiction between the will to struggle on the part of the workers and the constant striving to hold down the movement on the part of the union leaders. This cannot last for ever.

In March the PRC is holding its 6th congress. Bertinotti, the party secretary, has made a very sharp turn to the right. For instance, he is no longer calling for the immediate withdrawal of Italian troops from Iraq. All this is part of a deal which would allow the party to be part of a grand coalition if the Centre-Left, “Olive Tree” alliance wins the next elections in 2006. At this congress the Marxists of Falcemartello have succeeded in getting their opposition congress document accepted as an official document, which is an enormous step forward for them.

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