THE THIRD WAY
The Conference of
Communist and Workers Parties of Europe held
on June 1976 showed that the European
communist movement was changing. One important change was in the declining influence of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union along with the ascent of a new political trend, Eurocommunism. ( questo e` Wikipedia)
a new path, trying to find a middle way (precisely the third way) between the
changing (and challenging) structure of the international system and the
achievement of a national path towards socialism. For the PCI (citing
Berlinguer) it is possible to have a democratic Western Europe, which is
neither anti-American nor anti-Soviet and that would constitute an agent of
peace and security.
Communists make it clear that an initiative carried on country by country aimed
at a process of peace and stability could have lead to the dissolution of
tensions between the two blocs.
The conception of a
communist policy that was appropriate to the economic and social conditions of
developed capitalist countries required autonomy from the communist movement
dominated by the Soviet Union.
political line would have brought conflicts with other communist wings
belonging to the Soviet bloc. The process lasted long, but then came the
breaking point, and the boost of the October Revolution exhausted its effect.
The new political project speeded up, also influenced by the course of events
as it was for the Prague Spring. Autonomy from the Soviet Union was one of the
most difficult points to reach.
In Italy, both
parties: DC and PCI shared the idea that this policy was able to change the
rules of the game within the region without destroying the ideological foundations of the
parties.Thus, In their intentions, both Moro and Berlinguer wanted to promote
change but without destabilizing their respective political blocs. Frictions
with the Soviet Union of 1973 led Berlinguer to defend the idea of a
“socialism with human face”.
party, Spanish and French were considered in the mid-1970s European Communist
parties. Central elements were:
internationalism autonomously carried on with the consequent detachment from
the Soviet Union and with more collaboration at the European level;
of the importance of democracy and then
into account of the specific conditions of each country.
OF THE USSR
onwards, Soviet leaders conceived Detente as a wind of change among the
world relations that would have favored socialism. The Italian
Communism Europeanism moved away from Soviet communism and from 1974 the Soviet
capacity to influence the PCI substantially declined, thus making the party
much less dependent on the Soviet diktat.
There are several
reasons that explain the regret of the USSR for the Eurocommunism. First, it
feared that the role that it has been played until that time was in danger.
Namely it would no longer have been the international guide of the communist
movement; Second, Soviets fear that the model of Europe not subjected to US or USSR would
translate in an anti-Soviet Europe. To this is
necessary to add the fear that Eurocommunist theories spread towards the
eastern Europe undermining the control exercised over the area.
The process of
European integration seemed an opportunity for Western Communists toward which
direct and concentrate their efforts. Political pluralism and mixed economy
were the core points of the Eurocommunist vision. Whether democratic freedom
was considered as unnecessary by USSR, in the Eurocommunist vision it was a
necessary in order to deal with a world that was rapidly changing under the
boost of advanced capitalist countries. In this sense, the ideological divergence between Soviets and Eurocommunist
is irreconcilable because a Pluralistic democracy meant the weakening of the
socialist state power. Berlinguer Eurocommunism was harmful from the ideological
point of view of the USSR. The PCI adhesion
to the Europe project sharply contrasted with the Soviet hostility towards
In the united states,
the summer of 1975 ended with the failure of the Vietnam War. However, whether
Carter seemed to be open to a confrontation with Eurocommunism, others, such as
Brezinski, strongly criticize this new path that would only have benefit for
the Soviet Union. At the 1976 Puerto Rico conference, the heads of state of the
United States, UK, France and Germany taken into account all the possible
strategies to implement in the possibility of a PCI participation in the
Italian government. But, even after Carter’s election, American attitudes were
based on the concept of “no interference neither indifference”.
In October 1977,
Kissinger pointed out that Berlinguer’s words were too similar to Stalin’s 1917
ideals, so the only Communist participation in the government would mean deal
with a consistent problem. Kissinger insisted in saying that involving PCI in
the government was incompatible with Atlantic alliance. Communist presence in
the government could be destabilizing for them. For the US Detente did not
meant that the position against communist was changed.
Despite this, PCI’s
expectations were further encouraged by the positive reception of Eurocommunism
among many liberal intellectuals in the US. However, Eurocommunism could not
provide the PCI with complete legitimacy. It created empathy in sectors of
Western public opinion, but brought it no significant support. This was rather
disappointing for a party which aspired to govern a key country in the West and
overcome the vetoes of the Cold War.
To be clear, The
reasons for which US opposed the entrance of Communist parties in Italian government,
but even more generally in all the Western governments is due of course to
several factor, but the one that I would underline is that the presence of a
communist party in the government of
such countries would lead the US to face a huge dilemma: it is more
legitimate to defend democracy in Europe, even at the cost of accepting the
presence of a communist government; or defend Europe from the communist threat
but by limiting European democracy.
To conclude, While
the Italian Communists cultivated an Ostpolitik inspired by their ‘reform communism’,
they did not really outline a Westpolitik aimed at establishing clearly defined
relations, either with Europe’s governmental left or with the Carter
administration. The PCI’s relationship with the European Social Democrats
remained vague and fragile, despite similarities in their respective political
agendas. Although their mutual contacts intensified, even the most empathic
leaders like Brandt were very cautious about establishing open collaboration,
fearing that Eurocommunism might serve to destabilise détente.