The Tailor of Ulm: A History of Communism
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Twenty years have passed since the Italian Communists’ last Congress in 1991, in which the death of their party was decreed. It was a deliberate death, accelerated by the desire for a “new beginning.” That new beginning never came, and the world lost an invaluable, complex political, organizational and theoretical heritage.
In this detailed and probing work, Lucio Magri, one of the towering intellectual figures of the Italian Left, assesses the causes for the demise of what was once one of the most powerful and vibrant communist parties of the West. The PCI marked almost a century of Italian history, from its founding in 1921 to the partisan resistance, the turning point of Salerno in 1944 to the de-Stalinization of 1956, the long ’68 to the “historic compromise,” and to the opportunity—missed forever—of democratic transformation.
With rigor and passion, The Tailor of Ulm merges an original and enlightening interpretation of Italian communism with the experience of a militant “heretic” into a riveting read—capable of broadening our insights into contemporary Italy, and the twentieth-century communist experience.
Western front, France had collapsed and its parliament ( including eighty Socialist deputies) had delivered the nation to the puppet government of Marshal Petain. The Netherlands, Denmark and Norway were invaded, Switzerland remained neutral but did not refrain from lucrative business dealings, Romania and Hungary were already aligned with Germany, and Italy, shrewd as ever, joined the fray in order to share in the spoils. Europe was in fascist hands; only the British, protected by the Channel
mater i a l for a condemnation of Tito that could I · s h a r d wi h o h r . M o r ov r, th Pa rty wa su r p ri ed at the r h 1 ppo l to t h m ; f w h r n I th re t u 1 of v r t nsk u f r ry, I I n t i< n s , I u t >I I t h I S ·r • T H E TA I L O R O F U L M 96 Valdo Magnani, disagreed so much that he resigned from his position along with Aldo Cucchi, without rebelling against Party discipline. But did the PCI really need to claim that Tito was a spy in the pay of the Americans, or that
talking now of pointless and revealing mistakes on t h e PCI's part, beyond the limits of what might have been n ecessa ry. When I thought back to the period from 1 948 to 1 950, I realized that these were not mere episodes but the first signs of a general threat to the PCI's original identity - a threat that Togliatti subse q u ently m an a ged to avoid, with great skill, tenacity and courage, as wel l as considerab le good fortu ne, but displaying a basic wJCer ta i n ty a n d p a y i ng a h
occupied the Suez Canal. This changed the rules of the game. At stake now was not j ust Hungary but the whole global balance, victory or defeat in the 'new cold war', the survival of Khrushchev as Party secretary. Whether after consultation or on their own initiative, all the Com munist countries - including China and Yugoslavia - called for a drastic solution to the Hungarian crisis. And drastic it was. A desperate resistance which the Americans abandoned to its fate, having previously egged it
sacrifices of migration and new stresses associated with Taylorist work organization had led to a huge accumulation of pent-up anger. It was an explosive mixture, and, once ful l employ ment created the right labour market conditions (at least in some regions), it took on the radical character of a 'liberation struggle'. The workers' rights might be questioned; they could no longer be rejected out of hand. But that would not have been enou gh i f other factors had not a l so been present. F i