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New Left Review I/202, November-December 1993


Michele Salvati

The Travail of Italian Communism

If ‘The Triumph of the Leopard’ (nlr 199) had been written by a member of Rifondazione Comunista—by an Italian Communist who hadn’t yet recovered from the shock of the pci’s death and its resurrection as the pds—a reader could understand (and possibly forgive) the onesidedness of the account, the lack of any reference to deeper historical factors, the extreme personalization of politics and the wealth of abuse against Occhetto, the arch-traitor. In particular, an unbiased reader could understand (and put into context) the answer given to the central question of the whole article: why did Occhetto (actually, the great majority of the pds’s leaders) decide to support the ‘Yes’ option in the referendum on electoral reform? When it comes to ‘Occhetto’s treachery’, only three conclusions are in fact possible in the logic of the above indictment: actual treason (in the old-fashioned, Stalinist tradition); extreme stupidity; or sheer masochism—cupio dissolvi, as the author says. If the first one is excluded, the remaining two are possible answers: politicians are often stupid and sometimes masochistic. Since no convincing evidence is provided for either, our unbiased reader should be led to infer that the decisional situation in which Occhetto found himself has not been fully and fairly represented, as so often occurs in partisan polemics.

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