Palmiro Togliatti: A Biography (Communist Lives)

Palmiro Togliatti: A Biography (Communist Lives)

Aldo Agosti

Language: English

Pages: 352

ISBN: 1845117263

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Palmiro Togliatti could not have become leader of the Italian Communist Party at a more difficult time in the Party’s history. In 1926, while he was away from Italy representing the Party in Moscow, Mussolini’s Fascist government outlawed the organization and arrested all the other leading Communists, including Antonio Gramsci, and Togliatti became leader--but at the cost of living in exile for nearly twenty years.

Drawing on unprecedented access to private correspondence and newly available archives, this is the first full biography of this important Communist politician and intellectual.  Like many successful politicians, Togliatti was a man of contradictions--the dedicated Party man who was also instrumental in creating the constitution of Republican Italy--whose personal charisma and political acumen kept him at the forefront of Italian politics for nearly forty years.  Aldo Agosti explores Togliatti’s intellectual development; his achievements and his sometimes criminal mistakes as the leading member of the Comintern; his complex relationship with Moscow; and his lasting impact on Italian politics. The result is a meticulous and fascinating life of one of Western Europe’s most successful Communist leaders, which at the same time casts fresh light on the internal politics of the Comintern.

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argument enabled him to put into perspective the significance of the ‘relative stabilisation’ of capitalism. By contrast, Togliatti argued that there had been a historical defeat of the working class and, in real terms, that meant a postponing of the world revolution. The only goal around which communist parties could realistically converge was the ‘building of socialism in one country’, i.e. the defence of the Soviet Union. 16 There is no doubt, however, that the letter of October 1926 left a

clandestinely and those other few who were active abroad – did not know about this disagreement. No mention of it appeared in the party’s correspondence with the Comintern. Togliatti may have wanted to pre-empt the appearance of a new ‘case’, which the dissemination of the criticisms coming from the comrades in prison could have created. He may also have been determined to shield Terracini and Gramsci from possible disciplinary measures by the Comintern. For quite a lengthy period of time, from

fascism. Whilst Kuusinen’s report stressed that fascism was useful to the interests of the ‘higher bourgeoisie’, it also recognised the large and varied structure of its mass support and the possibilities which were open to communist parties in trying to widen the gap that this distinction created inside enemy lines.78 Togliatti’s address in the plenary session of 30 November was one of the few which did not paraphrase Kuusinen’s opening speech and which contributed an original THE NIGHT OF

fascism. 114 PALMIRO TOGLIATTI Predictably, the only evidence was that supplied by prisoners’ confessions. The verdict was the death penalty for thirteen of the accused and heavy detention sentences for the remaining four. A month later, the CC of the Soviet party held a meeting which marked the defeat of resistance against the wave of repression and an intensification of the mass terror. Stalin himself had suggested the employment of ‘new methods’, which now affected not only the leading

Libya. Togliatti shared their anti-Giolittian attitude, but shunned any active display of political engagement. He had only recently begun his last year at the lyceum when a terrible tragedy befell his family. Antonio Togliatti became ill with a throat tumour: he was taken to hospital in Turin and died aged 59 on 21 January 1911. The family’s economic condition, deprived of its sole income, became very precarious and a question hung over the continuation of the adolescents’ schooling. Teresa

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