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New Left Review I/163, May-June 1987

Tobias Abse

A Reply to Gundle

In Italy history repeats itself: a general election has been called one year early to avoid a referendum whose result might shake the political and economic establishment represented by the dc, iri and Confindustria. In 1987 nuclear power has taken on the importance of divorce in 1972 and abortion in 1976, with Fanfani being forced into the farcical position of engineering his own parliamentary defeat to stave off the dreaded referendum. Yet, something has changed. However briefly, Alessandro Natta—scorned as grey and bureaucratic by the British Eurocommunist intellectuals who lavished praise on Berlinguer—has shown unexpected political courage in using the April crisis to pursue an alliance with the Socialists and the minor parties of the Left and Centre against the Christian Democrats—to form a maggioranza referendaria, as he puts it. The pci’s offer came a decade too late: Craxi was able slyly to refuse it by insisting that Spadolini from the Republican Party should stand as candidate for the premiership, whereas he knew this to be an impossibility given the Republicans’ commitment to nuclear power as a symbol of scientific progress. Against this background there is little cause to modify the historical analysis that I offered in ‘Judging the pci’. Any hope that the pci might carry through its new-found and as yet hesitant commitment to a potentially very fruitful Left Alternative will depend on the balance of forces revealed by the polls.

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Tobias Abse, ‘A Reply to Gundle’, NLR I/163: £3

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