Italy

Alan Woods is on tour in Italy for a series of public meetings titled “Revolution for the future: from the History of Bolshevism to the revolutions of tomorrow”, organised by Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione: the Italian section of the IMT. Here is a report of the first two meetings, in Milan and Bologna. Today, Alan is in Naples; and on Saturday, 9 November, he will be in Rome.

The Italian government crisis during the summer holidays has been settled with the birth of a new government, composed of the 5-Stars Movement (M5S) and the Democratic Party (PD). This represents a complete upending of the situation, sparked by the decision of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, to break from the former coalition.

The Saudi ship Bahri Yanbu, which was docked at the port of Genoa to load military equipment to be used in the Yemen conflict, has left Italy without its intended cargo. This represents a great victory for the Genoese dockers, who refused to load the ship, which will now head to Alexandria, Egypt. At the Genoa port, a banner is still waving: "Stop arms trafficking, war on war."

8 March (International Working Women's Day) will be a day of struggle and mobilisation in Italy and beyond. Thousands will hit the streets to fight against continuous attacks to women's rights by alternating Italian governments. The economic crisis has worsened economic and social conditions, especially of working women; and social welfare cuts have pushed back the emancipation conquered over decades of struggle.

Comrades and supporters from around the world are continuing to put pressure on the Pakistani state to release the Marxist student activist, Rawal Asad, who is still being held on the scandalous charge of sedition and has been denied bail. Meanwhile, protests are ongoing in Pakistan, where comrades, students and workers are demanding that Rawal be immediately released.

A Marxist student comrade of the Progressive Youth Alliance, Rawal Asad, remains in jail on the charge of sedition, having had his bail hearing rejected. In addition to continued protest in Pakistan against this injustice, messages and photographs have been pouring in all week from all over the world demanding our comrade's release.

The worldwide solidarity campaign for the release of Rawal Asad, a comrade from the Progressive Youth Alliance who was arrested in Multan and scandalously charged with sedition by the Pakistani state, has forged on apace. Photographs, videos and messages of solidarity have been flooding in from all around the globe.

Just over 25 years after its foundation, the European Union looks like it could be falling apart under the weight of its own contradictions. Everywhere you look, the major parties are coming under increased pressure due to the heightening of the class struggle as a result of 10 years of crisis. This has meant that, in one country after another, the ruling class can no longer rule in the old way.

The conflict between the Italian government and the “Troika” (the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) is making news headlines around the world. To understand fully the meaning of this clash and its consequences, we need to go back to the political earthquake of the 4 March elections.

A crunch point is approaching in the ongoing saga surrounding the highly-indebted Italian economy. This could spark a revival of the dormant euro crisis.

Italy’s public debt stands at a staggering €2.3tn, or 132 percent of GDP: the third largest in the world after Japan and Greece. Furthermore, Italy’s banks hold the largest share of Europe's non-performing loans, totalling €224bn. Unlike Greece, which is a relatively small player in Europe, Italy has the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, contributing more than 15 percent of its overall GDP. Italy has now become a huge risk to the financial stability of the whole of the European Union.

Three months after the 4th March Italian elections, the new government of the Five Stars Movement and the League (formerly Northern league) has finally been sworn in by by the President of the Republic and a whole new situation opens up where these parties will be put to the test. This experience will prove to be a necessary experience in exposing in the eyes of the Italian working class the real nature, particularly of the Five Stars Movement and prepare the ground for a new wave of class struggle.

There has been a series of new twists in the deepening Italian political crisis. Prime Minister Conte resigned after President Mattarella vetoed the appointment of Paolo Savona as minister of the economy. The president subsequently assigned the task of forming a government to [former IMF official] Carlo Cottarelli.

Mario Iavazzi, a supporter of Sinistra Classe e Rivoluzione [the IMT in Italy] intervened at the recent gathering of the National Committee of the CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro – General Confederation of Italian Labour – equivalent to the TUC in Britain, CGT in France or AFL-CIO in the USA). He openly criticised the leadership for its lack of a fighting programme and for its total lack of understanding of what happened in the recent Italian elections.

The Italian elections – a political earthquake in the true sense of the word – have produced what had long been predicted: a hung parliament, with no party, or coalition of parties, capable of expressing a majority government. Serious bourgeois commentators have lamented the fact that more than 50 percent of the electorate voted for ‘populist’ anti-establishment parties, while those parties that the system has rested on for the past 25 years have been seriously weakened.

Italy goes to the polls on 4 March in the context of economic crisis and a general impasse in the political situation. It seems likely that the elections will produce a hung parliament with no outright winner. The right wing will emerge strengthened, but also the Five Stars Movement will most likely be the strongest single party. And what remains of the left has all but collapsed. The most striking feature is the generalised disgust of the masses with all the old established parties. In these conditions the Italian comrades of the IMT decided to stand their own independent list.

On 28 October, over 300 people attended the Red Night of the Revolution: a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, organised in Naples by Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione (SCR), the Italian section of the International Marxist Tendency. SCR wagered that the Red Night would become one of the main events commemorating the Russian Revolution in Italy: we can say now that we won the bet!

100 years ago, under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, the workers in Russia took power. John Reed called it “The Ten Days that Shook the World”, the beginning of a gigantic struggle to leave behind the ruins of capitalism and build a new society – a task still to be accomplished. A hundred years on, Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione, the Italian section of the International Marxist Tendency, is organising a big event to commemorate the greatest revolution in history on Saturday, 28 October, in Naples.

Sembrava che tutto fosse stato preparato in anticipo. Il presidente catalano, Carles Puigdemont, stava per recarsi al Parlamento catalano e annunciare la costituzione di una repubblica indipendente, come avrebbe dovuto fare visti i risultati del referendum del 1 ° ottobre.

Italy in the 1970s had two traditional mass parties of the working class, the Communist Party and the Socialist Party, but to their left were several sizeable ultra-left groups, with tens of thousands of members and a group of MPs. The question has to be asked: why did these groups fail to offer an alternative when the PCI leaders entered into a pact with the Christian Democracy in 1976 and supported an austerity programme? And why did they subsequently collapse?

This year March 8 in Italy will not be the same as other years. We live in a system that is no longer able even to pretend to guarantee decent living conditions for the majority of the people and this is reflected in particular in the terrible situation facing women. In the past few months, however, in dozens of countries around the world we have seen hundreds of thousands of women expressing their anger against the system, and taking to the streets to in defence of their rights.

There was a record participation at the congress of the Italian section of the International Marxist Tendency – Sinistra, Classe e Rivoluzione – held on 6-8 January in Bologna with more than 150 comrades from 25 cities attending. Fred Weston of the IMT introduced the debate on global relations.

In the darkest days of the Italian labour movement in the early 1930s, shortly after Mussolini had consolidated his grip on power, and as many Italian Communists and Socialists languished in fascist prisons or were forced to live in exile, a small group of Communist Party members, including three Central Committee members, turned to Trotsky as they attempted to build an opposition to the Stalinist leadership of Togliatti. Here we publish five letters of Trotsky to the newly formed group.

Twenty years ago what was once a mighty Communist Party of nearly two million members, the Italian PCI, was dissolved and was transformed into the Democratic Party of the Left, later to become the Democratic Party. In the process the party split in two, with those opposing this change setting up the Party of Communist Refoundation. This article by Roberto Sarti of the Editorial Board of Falcemartello looks at how this came about and draws some lessons for today’s communists.

In what to many may seem an amazing transformation, the bulk of the old Italian Communist Party, the biggest Communist Party in the West, has fused with a bourgeois party known as the Margherita, to form the Democratic Party. Here we provide the background to how this came about.

In the run up to the referendum on the EU constitution in France, a very popular intellectual, Toni Negri, decided to weigh in for the debate. Negri has now put himself on the same side as Chirac and Raffarin, the French bosses and the worst social democratic reformists, and come out in favour of a “yes” vote.

In an earlier article we reported on the tremendous struggle of the FIAT Melfi workers. Since then the workers have gone back, having gained some important victories, but nowhere near to what they could have won had the trade union leadership reflected the same level of militancy as the workers.

The "Hands off Venezuela" Italy campaign, after a very good start in Milan, on Friday, April 30, went to Pavia. There we had a meeting with 20 people organised by the Marxist magazine FalceMartello.

Last Saturday once again the streets of the Italian capital were flooded by demonstrators. It is really hard to give an exact figure when demonstrations reach such numbers but clearly more than one million workers and youth marched through the streets of Rome, in one of the biggest demos against the occupation of Iraq anywhere in the world.

On Friday October 24, about ten million workers took part in the 4-hour general strike called by the trade union federations Cgil-Cisl-Uil in opposition to the Berlusconi government’s proposed counter-reform of the pension system. According to the trade union leaders, 1.5 million people participated in over 100 demonstrations throughout the whole of Italy.

After two years of uninterrupted mass mobilisations, the political landscape in Italy is now changing. Since 2001 we have witnessed a whole series of struggles, including two 24hour general strikestwo multi-million demonstrations in Rome and dozens of national and local demonstrations numbering tens or hundreds of thousands of participants.

Despite the propaganda of the mass media, millions of workers and youth have flooded onto the streets of cities all around the world to protest against the attack on Iraq. On Friday Greece was brought to a standstill by a massive 4 hour general strike. More than 150,000 people demonstrated in Athens, in addition to tens of thousands around Greece, while airports, banks, public services, public transport, ferry boats and passenger ships, supermarkets and stores were shut down as a result of the strike.

On Friday October 18 over one million workers demonstrated in 120 cities and towns all over Italy against the right wing government. The general strike was called by the Cgil in protest against the suppression of article 18 of the 'Workers' Statute' (see previous articles on this issue) and against the proposed budget presented by the government. This strike marks a new turning point in the class struggles in Italy. Deep changes and further struggles are clearly under way.

Everyone will remember the massive demonstrations that took place last year in July during the G8 summit in Genoa (Italy). Tragically a young Italian student was shot dead by the police. The police, backed by the government, were clearly out to smash the movement. Could measures have been taken beforehand to avoid this and to better defend the demonstrations? Clearly the "leadership" of the movement was unprepared for what happened. In this article, Dario Salvetti, a supporter of the Italian Marxist journal, FalceMartello, who actively took part in the Genoa demonstrations analyses the limits of the movement and draws a balance sheet of

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On 3rd April 100,000 people marched in a demonstration in Rome against the NATO bombing campaign in Yugoslavia. A week later another demonstration of over 50,000 took place. There is a lot of opposition to the NATO bombing among the workers and youth in Italy in spite of the government's support.

Introduction

The two articles published below were written for the Italian Marxist journal, FalceMartello. The first one was published in September of last year, round the time when the 'Year 2000 women's march against poverty and violence' was about to reach Rome on a world-wide route that ended in New York in October. The second was published just after International Women's Day (March 8th) 2000.

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. The Olive Tree was an alliance between the PDS (Party of the Democratic Left, now known as the Left Democrats, simply DS) and a a number of smaller, bourgeois parties. Its policies were in line with the needs of the capitalists rather than those of the workers.

The general strike in Italy on April 16 was much more than just a major work stoppage lasting eight hours involving more than 10 million workers. It was also a major milestone in a process that started a number of years ago and that has already gone through a number of qualitatively important stages: e.g. the metal workers' general strike on July 6 last year, the anti-G8 demonstrations last year in Genoa on the day following the murder of Carlo Giuliani by the police (and in spite of the government's threats) in which more than 300,000 people took part and finally the national demonstration in Rome organised by the CGIL trade union on March 23 this year in which more than 2.5 million

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A letter written to the Italian Trotskyists in 1930 in which Trotsky deals with the question of the Constituent Assembly and the perspectives for Italy at that time. He severely criticises those who attempted to mix the slogan of the Constituent Assembly with that of workers' soviets, and also showed incredible insight into how the process would unfold once the Mussolini regime collapsed.