Revolution in Italy 1943-48
Date:2005 c.
Organisation: Irish Socialist Network
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

14th October 2019

Many thanks to Alan Kinsella of Irish Election Literature for this document. Produced by the Irish Socialist Network is a little different to many posted here. It seeks to examine the social and political changes that took place in Italy between 1943 and 1948. If anyone knows what the date of publication was we’d be very grateful.

It argues that ‘Although not as well known, the abortive revolution of these years can be compared with the upheavals of the Russian revolution or the Spanish Civil War. The ultimate defeat of the Italian movement can still tell us a lot about the failure of the socialist movement in the twentieth century – and how we can avoid repeating that failure.’


The resistance to fascism in Italy was spearheaded by the parties of the Left, above all the Italian Communist Party (PCI). The Mussolini regime began to crumble in March 1943 when factory workers in the northern cities took part in a strike wave that mobilised 100,000 workers. Nothing of the sort had ever been seen in a fascist state.

It considers various aspects including the way in which the PCI and Palmiro Togliatti placed national liberation and the destruction of fascism ahead of revolution – and argues that while this dovetailed with the Soviet analysis ‘Having witnessed shattering defeats for the Left in Italy, Germany and Spain, the PCI leader was extremely cautious and averse to risk-taking of any sort. He was unwilling to sanction any moves to challenge the Italian social structure as long as the country was under Allied occupation, fearing that the PCI would be driven underground once again.’

There is an outline of how ‘the old order’ fought back, including the rise of the Christian Democrats. It also considers the manner in which a mass party was built, arguing act by 1947 when the PCI had two million members it had achieved that status. But it also critiques the PCI for not supporting land occupations and in so doing losing an opportunity to establish a base in the South.

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  • By: Starkadder Sun, 17 Nov 2019 19:53:47

    What happened to the Irish Socialist Network? They were producing neat-looking pamphlets and had public meetings about a decade ago-and then they seemed to just disappear.

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  • By: Colm B Sun, 17 Nov 2019 21:57:06

    Old socialists don’t die, they just fade away!

    ISN just faded away, through no ones fault or decision. Number of members (maybe 25 max?) was always small so when numbers fell below a certain level it just wasn’t sustainable. Some ex-members still active on the left in Belfast and Dublin but not, as far as I know, as organized group. Pity, because I think the democratic revolutionary orientation of the ISN was correct and probably more potential for such a group nowadays.

    Seems to me that Paul Murphy’s RISE and also Independent Left are broadly in the same ideological zone that the ISN occupied. I’m not based in Ireland now, so can only judge from what I read on their websites, CLR etc.

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  • By: Starkadder Sun, 17 Nov 2019 22:05:52

    In reply to Colm B.

    Thanks for telling us that, Colm.

    I still have the old ISN pamphlets somewhere in my house. I remember them being pretty well-written.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Sun, 17 Nov 2019 22:14:01

    In reply to Starkadder.

    Yeah, a lot to like in RISE and IL.

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  • By: Colm B Sun, 17 Nov 2019 23:02:31

    In reply to Starkadder.

    Some of the earlier pamphlets were jointly written, Dan Finn wrote a lot of the later stuff, including the Italian one. We had a newsletter as well, Resistance. It was well produced and was also collective effort. I think Fintan Lane edited it at the beginning, then later Dan.
    BTW just reading Dan’s new book on the politics of the IRA, excellent read, definitely will be of interest to Cedar Loungers.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 18 Nov 2019 07:47:50

    In reply to Colm B.

    The Archive has a fair few copies of Resistance so those will be posted up soon. +1 re DF’s new book.

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