The Tailor of Ulm: A History of Communism

The Tailor of Ulm: A History of Communism

Lucio Magri

Language: English

Pages: 444

ISBN: 1844676986

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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.

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to the USSR was stopped, at the same time that Communists were driven out of government in the West. In breaking with Roosevelt's policy, the Fulton speech marked a sharp turn towards a completely different global order. Churchill himself repeated his ideas in Europe, adding in 1 947 that his aim was to achieve a continental unity; the 'whole purpose of a united democratic Europe was to give decisive guar­ antees against aggression.' But the Fulton speech also encountered hard-headed objections

l i m i t I a r d t i h t l y • > 1 t < I I · J . I t w : 1 1 > r· l i I , ·l s t i t l l t t I n n · 1 i r< n · 1 rt , i 1 1 . · · . , 88 T H E TA I L O R O F U L M But Zhdanov would not have done enough, even i f he had not died suddenly in August 1 948; Beria stepped in to finish the job. To quash any objections, to safeguard the future and to make Tito's excommunication seem more credible, there now followed a series of horrific trials on trumped-up charges and the sentencing ( some­

capitalism closed in on itself, skimming off the profits from technological progress and imposing classi­ cal forms of social inequality and exclusion. This image still had some basis in reality, but only if one focused on the back of the moving train, not on the power and direction of the locomotive pulling it. It was an image that failed to engage with the general social and cultural ferment already in the offing - almost the oppo­ site of Gramsci's theoretical effort in 'Americanism and

in a veiled manner, w i th botched attempts at reconciliation, then publicly and with i ncreasing acrimony. It was not easy to discuss the issues, because t he terms used were intentionally distorted and misleading, often at variance with the actual choices. Was the attempt to rehabili­ tat Stalin really credible, on the part of those who had always l i obeyed him on both tactical and strategic questions? Was it po sible to distinguish between those who believed in coexistence ( US R) and those

particular ways. Marxist-oriented social­ ism did emerge in the end as a hegemonic protagonist, however, organized into national parties with strong international links, and associated with trade unions, cooperative movements, newspapers and j ournals. It was the age of the Second International. There can be no doubt about the two progenitors whose historic encoun­ ter resulted in its birth. On the one hand, a new class formed in the relationship between capital and labour, rapidly produced by

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