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Which Socialism, Whose Détente?

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Maud Bracke

Part III. The consequences internationalism after Czechoslovakia

Chapter 7. Resetting Internationalism 1969–1970

Texte intégral

1Resetting the party line on internationalism and on domestic strategy was, to the PCI and PCF, a matter of responding to the urgent problems which had emerged following the invasion: disunity in the party, the crisis of identity, and disturbed relations with domestic political partners. The precondition, and at the same time the closing piece, of this process was the construction of an official narrative regarding the Czechoslovak crisis itself. As the attempts undertaken by both party leaderships to square the circle and to close the case of Czechoslovakia failed, the wider process of realignment also remained incomplete. In both parties, there were currents which did not accept the realignment and proposed alternatives and further-reaching change. The mere mention of Czechoslovakia in this context became an expression of unwillingness to accept the realignment. Both party leaderships reacted to this in a markedly authoritarian way.

  • 1 An example of the latter case is Kriegel, “The International Role,” p. 49–53.
  • 2 See, for example, Blackmer, “Change and Continuity,” pp. 61–63; and more recently Pons, “L’URSS e (...)

2In the case of the PCF, the literature has noted that either no change occurred in the party’s internationalism after 1968, or the party became more dependent on the Soviet Union.1 While this dependency was undoubtedly an important aspect of its internationalism in the years following 1968, other, more fundamental, shifts occurred. In the case of the PCI, the literature has either not noted a significant change or has understood the changes in a positive light, emphasizing the party’s increased autonomy from the world communist movement and overlooking the tensions in this.2 I will analyze here the resetting of internationalism and will point out the limits within which this occurred and the new contradictions it created in the two cases. While the PCI shifted its attention to what it understood as the strategic underpinning of internationalism, based largely on anti-imperialism as a source of legitimation, the PCF shifted towards an identification with the historical communist movement, based on its traditional understanding of revolution as a source of legitimation.

1. THE PCI

1.1. From selective remembering to withdrawal

3In the aftermath of the Czechoslovak crisis, the PCI leadership attempted to construct a partial remembering of the past events in Czechoslovakia and a biased analysis of the current events. While the Prague Spring, the invasion and the dissent became part of the party’s official history, the post-invasion situation in Czechoslovakia, the “normalization” and the ongoing repression, were increasingly tabooed. This went hand in hand with a withdrawal from involvement in the events there. The taboo involved, firstly, the circumstances under which Dubček was replaced by Husák; secondly, the continued Soviet interference; and thirdly, the political repression in the following years. The enduring crisis in the Czechoslovak political system was less and less brought into connection with the invasion and with Soviet interference. Instead, the “anti-socialist” and “anti-Soviet elements” in Czechoslovak society were increasingly often referred to. The taboo was less encompassing than in the case of the PCF. There were three reasons for this: firstly, the margins of maneuver which the PCI had negotiated with the Soviets in November 1968 were much wider; secondly, the “normalized” CPCS placed far less pressure on the PCI; and finally, there were more in the party and the leadership who wanted to remember the Prague Spring in a positive way. There were fewer discontinuities in the PCI’s analysis of the Czechoslovak events before and after the invasion than in the case of the PCF.

  • 3 Gruppi, S., “Cecoslovacchia: Manifestazioni a Praga dopo una vittoria sportiva,” Unità, 31/3/69.
  • 4 S.G., “Documento a Praga del Presidium del Partito comunista: Richiamo ai Cecoslovacchi sulla grav (...)
  • 5 “Comunicato dell’Ufficio politico,” 18/4/69, in APCI, UP, 18/4/69, 2370. The PCI censored itself b (...)

4As regards the crisis in Czechoslovakia in March–April 1969, the PCI press covered the ice-hockey incidents, the visit of Soviet defense minister Grechko, and the changes at the top of the communist party without much comment. It stopped well before making the links between these events explicit. Unità blamed “anti-socialist” and “anti-Soviet” elements for the ice-hockey incidents, thus reproducing the official interpretation by the CPCS Presidium.3 Moreover, Unità reproduced in a matter-of-fact way the Presidium declaration which put partial responsibility for the incidents on the (party and other) press. It mentioned the measures against Rude Pravo and the suspension of CC journal Politika without, however, in any way making clear that this meant restoring censorship.4 In the context of the world communist movement, conscious breaking of the taboo was at times employed by the PCI to re-evoke the dissent and to reinforce autonomy. This happened, for instance, when the PCI issued a straightforward statement of protest against the ousting of Dubček in April 1969. A communication by the Ufficio politico considered the ousting of Dubček, “the personification of renewal and democratic socialism since January 1968,” as a sign of “the gravity of the crisis,” which it was said was the result of the military intervention.5 It demanded the restoration of “full sovereignty” and the halting of “any form of interference.” After the removal of Dubček, the PCI had difficulties in identifying with any political actor in Czechoslovakia, thus press coverage was increasingly minimal and superficial.

  • 6 Most of the reports referred to below were not read or discussed in the Direzione, but only in the (...)
  • 7 “Nota sulle conversazioni a Roma 24–25/1/69 con direttore della rivista Politika di Praga, Alois S (...)
  • 8 “Nota sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia—informazione ricevuta 5/3 da Svoboda—Riservato,” s.n. (bu (...)
  • 9 “Nota sulla conversazione avuta il 4 febbraio col cp. J.P. (dopo un viaggio a Praga),” Pecorari, s (...)
  • 10 Pelikán furthermore asked the PCI not to set aside the Czechoslovak affair and other controversial (...)

5Internally, the Direzione was significantly better informed of the enduring political crisis in Czechoslovakia and of Soviet interference and pressure. Of the many reports that it received during the first half of 1969 from non-official Czechoslovak sources (most often opponents of the new regime) and from its own members traveling to the country, hardly anything came through in the party’s public coverage.6 Between January and March, G. Pecorari had a series of conversations with A. Svoboda, editor of Politika. Svoboda reported cases of Soviet interference in politics, including regular attacks on party leaders and continuous pressure to oust reformists. Furthermore, he reported on the current propaganda campaign against Smrkovský and Dubček, sponsored by normalizers in the highest party ranks.7 In March, Svoboda informed the PCI of a Soviet ultimatum to the CPCS leaders to install complete press censorship, and of the organization by the Soviets of “action groups” which controlled the party meetings.8 Besides, in this period Pecorari regularly traveled to Prague to talk with J. Pelikán, the reform-oriented head of national tele-vision during the Prague Spring, one of the first to be dismissed from office after the invasion. In a conversation in early February, Pelikán drew an overall picture of the enduring political pressure exercised on Dubček by Husák, Strougal and their allies, and of their attempts to undermine Dubček’s position.9 Following the April crisis, Pelikán informed Pecorari of the fact that the party and state leaders in Czechoslovakia had not been informed of the arrival of Grechko, and that the latter had re-enforced security measures.10

  • 11 “Alcune altre notizie,” in “Incontro tra Bilák e Pajetta, Sandri 29/4/69,” s.n., APCI, Estero 1969 (...)
  • 12 “Info sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia da un membro del Presidium del PCC ad un gruppo ristretto (...)
  • 13 “Riservato: Conversazione con Jaroslav Novak—Accademia delle Scienze, candidato al CC,” Pecorari, (...)
  • 14 “Strettamente confidenziale—nota informazione sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia,” Moranino, F., 1 (...)

6Admittedly, as these reports were sometimes contradictory it was hard for the PCI leadership to gain a fair picture of the situation. Moreover, matters were more blurred since former advocates of reform, such as Kaderka, now advised the PCI to support the “realist line” and Husák, whom they said was not an unconditional supporter of the Soviets.11 Thus, the PCI leadership in the first instance had difficulty in judging the Husák line amidst the complex situation in the CPCS. However, by the summer of 1969 the PCI received unambiguously alarming reports on the course that the new leadership was taking. Pecorari reported that there was proof that the power change in April had been entirely orchestrated by the Soviets and that the incidents had been taken up as a pretext for intervention.12 In August, he drew a detailed picture of the repression under Husák and reported the activities of armed groups, supported by the Soviet Embassy.13 A warning was given by F. Moranino, who had regularly informed the PCI in 1968 of the problems connected to the Prague Spring and could hardly be called a Dubček supporter, that Husák was seriously influenced and pressured by pro-Soviet conservatives such as Strougal, Indra and Bilák. He also reported on the purges going on inside the party.14

  • 15 Husák to PCI, 14/5/69 (translation into Italian), APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0715–071 (...)
  • 16 The PCI replied to the letter by sending its last CC resolutions and by proposing a bilateral meet (...)
  • 17 Bilák claimed that there was a consensus among the “orthodox” communist parties to ostracize the P (...)

7The limits of the taboo materialized through problematic bilateral relations with the “normalized” CPCS, although, in contrast to the PCF case, painful public incidents were avoided. While relations with the CPCS between the invasion and Dubček’s ousting were confused, relations with Husák’s CPCS were close to non-existent, apart from attempts by the latter to force the PCI to observe a complete taboo on the Czechoslovak crisis. After the PCI statement of mid-April, Husák sent a letter to the PCI in which he asked them not to “internationalize” the issue of Czechoslovakia— by which he meant that the PCI, as long as it did not reproduce the “normalized” interpretation of the events, should abstain from any positioning. Especially problematic to the CPCS, it was said, was the fact that some PCI texts (such as the resolution on internationalism of the 12th Party Congress which will be discussed below) were circulated among opponents of the regime.15 The PCI, in contrast to the PCF, made a clear point of not wanting to be drawn into further discussions or polemics.16 The fact that relations were frozen became very clear at the Moscow Conference of June 1969: the Czechoslovak delegation (Strougal and Bilák) avoided any contact with the PCI. Worse, Bilák asked the Soviets to open the conference proceedings with an attack on revisionism and the PCI, which the Soviets, according to the report, refused.17 By avoiding any au fond discussion of the Czechoslovak events in the context of the world communist movement, the PCI succeeded in avoiding open conflicts and resisting to pressure; on the other hand, by doing so it contributed to rendering the debates in this context devoid of real ideological or strategic significance.

1.2. The shift to strategic internationalism

1.2.1. The 12th Party Congress

  • 18 The first, also known as Servire il popolo, was founded in Rome in October 1968. More detail on th (...)
  • 19 This last one was the analysis by Pajetta, who added that there was a general problem of party loy (...)
  • 20 Report by Natta on the situation in the party in APCI, Dir, 30/1/69, 006–1158–1160. Also Berlingue (...)

8The 12th Party Congress, held in Bologna in February 1969, was meant to solve the problems and tensions in the party which the Czechoslovak crisis had brought to the surface. While it did succeed in doing so to some extent, it also created new contradictions. The Congress decided upon significant changes in the party’s internationalism. These were the result of the Czechoslovak crisis, but also of the developments on the Italian Left in late 1968–early 1969 and their effects inside the party. After the unrest peak of February–May 1968, the student movement as a whole fell apart while small groups rapidly radicalized in terms of discourse and tactics. The transformation of identity that was taking place on the radical Left was reflected in important disagreements between the many groups on various political questions, among which was the organization of a new revolutionary party. Nevertheless, a number of small parties in this period acquired a nation-wide basis and merged into broader groups. All of these groups featured a strong revolutionary Marxist-Leninist discourse, and Third World and Maoist elements flourished. Well-known (proto-)Maoist groups were, for example, Unione dei comunisti italiani, Potere operaio, and Lotta continua.18 These groups, as well as Trotskyite groups such as Avanguardia operaio, criticized the political parties of the Left, primarily the PCI, for their gradualism and reformism, their integration in institutionalized politics, and their shift away from “workerism.” To the PCI, this situation was highly problematic: Maoism, in particular, seriously pressured the left flank of the party. Partly as a result of this, the situation inside the party on the eve of the 12th Party Congress was quite dramatic. At a number of the federal congresses, including Rome, Venice and Naples, important disagreement over the theses surfaced and the leadership was attacked on several occasions. Some of the Direzione members feared the formation of what they called “fractional groups” or “groups in a pre-organizational phase.”19 While the theses were adopted in only 67 of the 102 federations, in 22 federations there had been votes against the theses, and in 13 federations abstentions—which was a highly unusual situation for the PCI. The criticism was mostly of a leftist nature and tended towards Maoism; criticism of the party’s continued alignment with the Soviet-led communist world occurred often.20

  • 21 Rossanda was a former partisan; she had been an MP between 1963 and 1968 and was responsible for C (...)
  • 22 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00418.
  • 23 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00416.
  • 24 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00423.

9Disagreement with the line on Czechoslovakia merged with older forms of criticism of the leadership. The unusually widespread criticism of the draft theses to the 12th Congress involved domestic strategy as well as international relations, and was often brought into connection with the various aspects of the Czechoslovak crisis. Important criticism was expressed at the October CC meeting in preparation for the congress from exponents of the Ingrao Left: Ingrao himself, Pintor, and R. Rossanda.21 Allied with Ingrao since the early 1960s (the so-called ingraiani), they were strongly influenced by new, radical Left ideas regarding the self-determination of workers, factory councils and direct democracy. Rossanda and Pintor had argued since 1967 in favor of a more open, a more equal and a more constant collaboration between the party and the student movements. While Ingrao continued to argue for a fundamental discussion on the link between democracy and socialism with the Prague Spring as point of reference, Pintor, from a radical-revolutionary perspective, advocated “self-government of the masses” and suggested a less biased investigation of the “Chinese experience.”22 Rossanda touched upon the problem of détente and spoke explicitly of the great disillusionment of the invasion, namely that it had revealed a disregard on the part of the Soviets vis-à-vis communism in the West.23 Crucially, also some central leaders took up this point: notably, Amendola stated that the Soviets had a “wrong definition of peaceful coexistence.”24

  • 25 Report (notes) of this meeting by Berlinguer: “Incontro PCUS 21 gennaio 69,” APCI, Fund Berlinguer (...)

10In addition to the internal party problems, there was direct pressure from the Soviets on the PCI leadership regarding the congress texts. While Soviet pressure did not lead to change in the party line, it did lead to a situation in which Czechoslovakia was referred to in a conditioned way— which only added to the frustration on the (far) Left. On 21 January a meeting took place in Moscow between Berlinguer, Galluzzi and Cossutta on the one hand, and Ponomariov, Suslov, Zagladin and Pelsci on the other.25 The latter on this occasion seriously pressured the former to change some elements of the theses: firstly, some aspects of the critical analysis of the Soviet Union and the socialist states; secondly, the interpretation of the Czechoslovak crisis; and thirdly, far-reaching statements on the differences between conceptions of socialism in the PCI and in Eastern Europe. Also, the Soviets claimed to fear that an “unfriendly atmosphere” might arise at the Congress and that the discussion on Czechoslovakia might be resumed. They threatened not to attend the Congress (which in intra-communist relations was considered as highly insulting and suggested the isolation of the party in question). Berlinguer, while not willing to discuss the content of the theses, guaranteed a “friendly atmosphere.” He assured that, while the party was developing a critical analysis of the socialist countries, it would never question “the historical value and the superiority [of the Soviet Union] and its role [in the global struggle].”

  • 26 Berlinguer’s international experience as leader of the World Federation of Democratic Youth seems (...)

11At the 12th Congress, a centrist line emerged around Longo and, especially, Berlinguer. Berlinguer’s election as vice-general secretary at the 12th Congress codified his rise to power which had been ongoing since November 1968. The new line on internationalism, it seems, reflected largely his views. While, as will become clear below, a united leadership was a priority to him, his position was not centrist in the sense of seeking the common denominator among the different currents. Rather, his aim was to push internationalism towards innovations and to maximize support for this among the leadership by making concessions on other points. He displayed farreaching pragmatism in using the Czechoslovak crisis in order to carry out changes on specific questions such as party autonomy. After the Moscow Conference of June 1969, Berlinguer increasingly appeared as the leading figure in the party; he was elected general secretary in 1972.26

  • 27 “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” pp. 197–198.
  • 28 “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” pp. 191–192.

12The central current, supported by, among others, Galluzzi and Pajetta, was heavily pressured by the Left: while Ingrao chose a position of partyloyal criticism, Rossanda, Pintor and A. Natoli fundamentally questioned the party’s internationalism and its domestic strategy and called for a far-reaching reform of the party. Rossanda once more argued for the need to make explicit the shortcomings of peaceful coexistence, which, in her view, tended towards an agreement between the Soviet Union and the United States. In line with new anti-imperialist radicalism, she argued not only for the end of the dominance of the socialist states over the communist world, but in favor of the dominance of the Third World liberation movements.27 Pintor heavily attacked the party on the issue of domestic strategy. He criticized it for minimizing the current social crisis and for failing to understanding it as an authentic crisis of the system. He radically rejected strategies based on political alternatives, arguing instead that it was the constellation of political parties itself which needed to be attacked. The party, in his view, had unambiguously to opt for alliances with the student movements and should shift its attention at spontaneous worker radicalism.28

  • 29 This has also been noted by Amyot, The Italian Communist Party, p. 179.

13As the combined result of the pressure from the Left, and the party’s unwillingness fundamentally to reconsider its domestic program, a sort of implicit trade-off took place between the domestic program and internationalism. In order to avoid radical changes in terms of domestic strategy, the centrist current was willing to make rather far-reaching concessions to the Left in terms of internationalism.29 A conception of internationalism emerged which was an innovative view on solidarity on a global scale. It was the continuation of thinking initiated in the late 1950s and 1960s (polycentrism and allargamento), and was accelerated by the post-invasion debate of 1968. The main points were:

  • a pragmatic conceptualization of the world communist movement in its “largest possible” shape;
  • a shared global strategy against imperialism/capitalism as being more important as the underpinning of this movement than a shared doctrine;
  • an increased emphasis on European détente and peaceful coexistence. The meaning of these concepts did not undergo a fundamental change, but they were specified; this specification consciously ignored a number of contradictions;
  • a radicalization in terms of Italian foreign policy, anti-Americanism and epposing NATO;
  • the development of a limited criticism of “really existing socialism,” which was a historicized, contextualized and relative one;
  • a disconnection between the evaluation of the socialist regimes on the one hand and the individual conception of socialism and domestic strategy on the other.
  • 30 A similar point is made in Pons, “La politica internazionale.”
  • 31 For example in “Tesi: IV. Le vie e le forme nuove dell’unità del movimento operaio internazionale, (...)
  • 32 “Tesi: IV,” pp. 241.

14The PCI’s internationalism after 1968 was narrowed down to the strategic dimension and tended to dismiss the doctrinal and organizational dimensions. While it became increasingly clear that the PCI disagreed with the protagonists of the world communist movement on major issues of doctrine and avoided substance-related discussions, in organizational terms it had, throughout the 1968–1969 crisis, succeeded in claiming for itself a singularly autonomous position. The shift towards strategy permitted the PCI to accentuate anti-imperialism as a domestic source of legitimation, referring increasingly to the struggle in the Third World.30 The fact that the PCI signed only the section regarding “the global anti-imperialist struggle” at the Moscow Conference illustrated this shift. The “role which the socialist countries and the Soviet Union play in the global struggle for democracy and revolution” was to become the most often repeated justification for the continued alliance with the Soviet Union.31 The party increasingly referred to the movements of national liberation and the ex-colonies.32

  • 33 “Tesi: IV,” p. 238.
  • 34 “Tesi: IV,” p. 239.
  • 35 “Tesi: IV,” p. 239.

15On the European level, the common strategy was peaceful coexistence and détente. It was reaffirmed that peaceful coexistence was considered as “the historical continuation of the class struggle on a world scale.”33 However, despite the attention granted to it, Berlinguer made sure to take the sting out of the détente problem. He did so by focusing on the question in a channeled way, and by putting aside the well-understood divergence of interests that had occurred in the communist world regarding détente and its implications for internal bloc cohesion. Berlinguer specified the PCI’s definition of détente as “dynamic détente”: a development of gradual dissolution of the blocs linked to change in the regimes in Eastern Europe and to the transition to socialism in the West. The theses emphasized that détente needed to go hand in hand with the “advances of socialism” and that it was an offensive strategy.34 Dynamic détente was opposed to static détente, understood as a bottom-down policy carried out by both superpowers and not necessarily linked to change inside the blocs. Without this always being made clear, static détente referred to the logic that had led the Soviet leaders to invade Czechoslovakia. Moreover, it was said in the theses that “détente had not been sufficiently developed” (by the socialist countries, it was understood) and that the bloc logic was still alive.35 There was thus a willful ignoring of the fact that it was exactly the pursuit of détente in the superpowers’ understanding of it that maintained the bloc logic.

  • 36 See also the argument on the disconnection between the positive appreciation of Europe and the neg (...)
  • 37 Longo, “Il PCI di fronte ai problemi nuovi,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, pp. 168–169.

16The accentuation of the offensive and dynamic dimension of détente went at this point hand in hand with a revived anti-NATO discourse. The positions on Italian foreign policy and NATO were somewhat radicalized with respect to the previous years. This was not, in the PCI’s concept, in contradiction with détente, nor did it imply a major change in the party’s détente policy. Rather, it was part of the specification and the narrowing down of the concept which was the result of Czechoslovakia: European and global détente meant first and foremost the disintegration of the politicalmilitary blocs, hence “NATO out of Italy, Italy out of NATO.”36 This slogan, as well as the perspective of a neutral Italy, had been downplayed in the preceding years and were now taken up again.37 The revived anti- NATO discourse now followed up on the shift undertaken immediately following the invasion, motivated by reflexes of identity, to blame the West for the Cold War. Furthermore, radicalizing in terms of foreign policy was to the centrist current in the leadership a fairly unproblematic way to respond to the pressure from the far Left. It also seemed to go along with the current tide, especially in the context of the protests again the war in Vietnam which continued to dominate political discourse and mobilization on the West European Left.

  • 38 Another example of these attempts to have its internationalism accepted by the WCM was be found in (...)
  • 39 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, (...)

17There were two major contradictions inherent in this concept of internationalism. The first one has been noted above: the central leadership was well aware of the fact that different conceptions of détente existed in the world communist movement. Secondly, it was not clear whether the PCI wished to strive for the general acceptance in the world communist movement of its own concept of détente, and if so, how realistic this was. On the one hand, the PCI claimed to be determined to strive for the acceptance of this concept of internationalism in the world communist movement. At the 12th Congress Berlinguer stressed the PCI’s readiness to combat “wrong conceptions of internationalism,” such as the policy of global war with the West and antagonism between the Third World and other parts of the world (referring to China), and the “underestimation” of the role of the workers’ movement in the West. This implicitly referred to the Soviet Union and was reminiscent of the argumentation against the invasion in August 1968.38 On the other hand, Berlinguer suggested only limited optimism as to the party’s ability to influence the Soviet-led communist world. Defending the PCI’s involvement in the upcoming world communist conference in the face of criticism from the Left, Berlinguer described the PCI’s stance as a “politics of presence.”39 This suggested the end of the “change from within” policy which had characterized the PCI’s approach vis-à-vis the world communist movement since 1956, or, at the least, a very minimal conception of it.

  • 40 These points were most clearly listed in Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista, (...)

18The fact that internationalism was henceforth based only to a minor extent on a shared doctrine made it possible for the leadership to develop and officials a careful form of criticism of the socialist regimes. The invasion had made the leadership understand that an uncritical analysis of the socialist regimes was no longer tenable—either vis-à-vis other domestic political forces or vis-à-vis the party. At the 12th Party Congress, Berlinguer defined a carefully critical judgement of the socialist countries, including the Soviet Union and even the Bolshevik Revolution. In PCI tradition, this major change was carefully initiated, channeled and guided by the leadership. A historical and actual contextualization of the socialist regimes was intended to serve as a framework for the “correct” understanding of their shortcomings. In the PCI, and, as we shall see further below, to some extent also in the PCF, criticism of these regimes was henceforth possible, provided it was historicized and contextualized:40

  • it should always be emphasized that, despite their shortcomings, these regimes were superior to capitalist regimes; the shortcomings of these regimes should always be counterbalanced with some examples of shortcomings of capitalist regimes41
  • the socialist and revolutionary character of these regimes should not be questioned
  • a historical justification of the shortcomings was developed:
  • all the socialist states were young and in development
  • the Soviet Union was born out of the circumstances of tsarist Russia, unsuited to socialist development
  • the situation before the Second World War, “socialism in one country,” was not natural to socialism
  • after the Second World War, the Soviet Union and the East European regimes suffered from the difficult circumstances of capitalist encirclement and isolation
  • many current problems in the Soviet Union were still consequences of the personality cult; this had damaged the value of socialism in the Soviet Union, but, importantly, it was the regime itself which had isolated and (partly) overcome this problem.
  • 42 “Tesi: I. La crisi del mondo di oggi,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, p. 226.
  • 43 “Incontro PCUS 21 gennaio 69,” s.n. (notes Berlinguer), APCI, Fund Berlinguer, 70.

19Unlike what happened in the PCF, criticism of the Soviet Union also affected 1917 and the Bolshevik model. The argument was developed that, while 1917 had created the structures for the abandonment of private property, this had proven insufficient for the creation of socialism.42 At the same time, however, criticism in general terms, on grounds of principle and in relation to the definition of socialism, was avoided. Thus, the limits of the PCI’s de-Stalinization were reproduced: also after 1956, although the first critical distance from the communist world was taken and the PCI had started to develop its own concept of socialism, it had not linked this to a wider discussion of socialism in the existing regimes. Nor did such a debate take place now. The criticism of the socialist regimes remained a relativist one and did not open up questions as to the universal relevance of these experiences. It was disconnected from the debate on domestic strategy and socialism in Italy. The only connection referred to in this respect was the vague notion of “qualitative difference” between really existing socialism and socialism-to-be in Italy. It was not a coincidence, then, that the Soviets, during their meeting with Berlinguer, specifically objected to this point.43

  • 44 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” p. 214.
  • 45 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” p. 220.
  • 46 Occhetto in particular emphasised this. “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” in (PCI, ed.) Da (...)

20The leadership expected these changes in internationalism to make it possible to avoid a dramatic change in domestic strategy as well as a fundamental debate on the nature of socialism, and it also expected them to soothe intra-party tensions. The domestic strategy laid down at the 12th Congress, although it did incorporate some leftist elements and discourses, basically continued the line decided in 1966. The political-institutional dimension of the PCI’s strategy was strongly re-assessed: parliamentary work remained an important pillar, and unity of action with the Left of the Socialist and Christian Democratic parties was envisaged, without aiming at destroying the party constellation. Both Longo and Berlinguer argued that the question of political alliances had been underestimated by the congress debates. Berlinguer emphasized that in Italy the “social radicalization” had “political points of reference”: the PCI, the PSIUP and the CGIL.44 Attacking Pintor, he strongly argued against the provocation of an acute crisis of the centre-left government.45 The strategy of structural reforms was also continued, although it was emphasized, in order to mark the difference with reformism, that this was only an intermediate step on the road to socialism.46

  • 47 The “historical bloc” did constitute changes with respect to the old alliance strategy, for instan (...)
  • 48 “Tesi: II. La construzione di un’alternativa al centro-sinistra,” in PCI, ed., Da Gramsci a Berlin (...)
  • 49 A similar argument is developed in Graziani, Nei punti alti, p. 44.
  • 50 For this argument on the use of Gramscian ideas in official PCI doctrine in this period, see Flore (...)

21A major shift away from Leninist doctrine was the fact that the “vanguard role of the communist party” was no longer mentioned. Some of the old Leninist concepts were replaced by terms taken from Gramsci, which were to become points of reference for the PCI’s overall identity and very influential on the Italian Left as a whole. The old strategy of alliances was transformed into the creation of a Gramscian historical bloc, based on the hegemony of the working classes and, as it was emphasized, not of the party.47 In order to construct it, unity of action should come about between the PCI, the PSIUP, the Left of the Socialist and Christian Democratic Parties, the unified trade union movement and radical, leftist and other groups in civil society. The autonomy of all these groups was guaranteed— which was a central claim of the movimento. Entry into government was not envisaged in the short term as Amendola had proposed; rather, an “open relationship” with government and the construction of a “new majority” was envisaged.48 The main shortcomings of the new domestic programme, which attempted to respond to the challenges which both the Prague Spring and the new revolutionary movements posed, were to do with the question of alliances and pluralism. As a consequence of both the Prague Spring debate and the rise of the new radical movements in Italy, much of the discussions evolved around pluralism and the relation between the party and other groups and movements. Despite this, and despite the many affirmations that socialism in Italy would not be a one-party system, the question of the pluralist nature of the “road” towards socialism and socialism itself remained vague.49 The use of Gramscian concepts such as historical bloc and hegemony, however innovative and important in the further development of the party and its strategy, also served to evade tricky questions regarding the precise position of the communist party in relation to other groups.50

1.2.2. The contradictions: the Sino–Soviet clashes

  • 51 As mentioned in chapter 3, the SPD from 1969 onwards abstained from further requesting the assista (...)

22The viability of the PCI’s new conception of internationalism and its acceptance in the Soviet-led communist world were most seriously jeopardized by two factors: the conclusions of the world communist conference of June 1969 discussed above; and the Sino–Soviet border clashes in the spring of 1969. In addition, the minimal effect of the PCI’s discussions with the West German SPD in 1969 suggested the PCI’s limited potential for causing significant, wider change in the world communist movement and in European détente.51 The dramatic revival of the Sino–Soviet conflict caused yet another acute crisis in the PCI leadership. This was because it undermined some basic features of the newly defined, complex and therefore fragile conception of internationalism, such as doctrinal pluralism in the world communist movement and the recognition of the role played by China in global strategy. Since the PCI leaders understood very well that at least one of the causes behind the Sino–Soviet border clashes was another Soviet attempt to realign “its” world communist movement, many of them reacted with outright anger. The atmosphere inside the Direzione was comparable to that in August 1968: a general sense of gravity, outright and bitter criticism of the Soviet Union, but also reflexes of defense of the Soviet Union against China. However, whereas in August 1968 there had been a wide consensus on the general line to follow, disagreement now appeared in full.

  • 52 Unità, 12/3/69.
  • 53 APCI, Dir,16/4/69, 006–1413–1415.
  • 54 APCI, Dir, 16/4/69, 006–1409.
  • 55 APCI, Dir, 16/4/69, 006–1417–1418.
  • 56 APCI, Dir, 7–8/5/69, 006–1569–1570.

23Leaders such as Galluzzi, who were usually considered as being loyal to the Soviet Union, now took their criticism of the Soviets a step further. In a Unità article he argued, in couched terms but nevertheless clearly, that the Soviets, rather than reproducing their rhetoric on the unity of the world communist movement, should finally accept pluralism inside it.52 Berlinguer also took up the opportunity harshly to criticize the Soviet Union, although behind closed doors. While specifying his disagreement with China over a number of doctrinal matters, he argued for the recognition of the role which China played on the revolutionary movements on a global level.53 There was a sharp contrast between, on the one hand, his pragmatism—which at this point seemed to tend towards a “neutral” position for the PCI in between the two largest socialist states—and, on the other hand, the sharply loyalist and ideological reaction of Amendola, Napolitano and Pajetta. Pajetta was strongly opposed to such a neutral position and called for loyalty to the Soviet Union.54 Napolitano also urged the party to take a clear stance, blaming the Chinese for the clashes.55 At the Direzione meeting in early May, Amendola argued for an increase of criticism of China in terms of doctrine and strategy; Ingrao fiercely objected to this.56

  • 57 “Si riapre a Mosca il ‘problema Stalin’,” Unità, 16/3/69.

24The problem was complicated by the fact that the 12th Congress had demonstrated the extent to which Maoist ideas had diffused in the party, amongst the rank and file as well as the leadership. The party’s “Maoist dilemma” once more came to the surface: how to reconcile the advocating of doctrinal pluralism and autonomy in the communist world on the one hand, with an anti-Maoist campaign inside the party on the other. The disagreements could not result in anything other than an ambiguous position on the issue. No party communication blaming China for the clashes, as had been requested by the more Soviet-loyal leaders, was issued, nor was criticism of China significantly intensified. The party press generally blamed China for the border clashes, but not without criticizing the Soviet leaders for not having carried out the “promises” of the 20th Congress. Most importantly, an anonymous Unità article openly reported on the attempts to rehabilitate Stalin in the Soviet Union, and on the harsh persecution of the political opposition there.57

  • 58 The original document is “Progetto documento PCI su questioni internazionali April 1969—Riservata, (...)

25The question was discussed at the Central Committee meeting of late May, on the basis of a report drafted by Berlinguer, Galluzzi and Bufalini. This report, although it resumed the 12th Congress line on internationalism, was a matter of lively discussion. It was adopted by the Direzione and the CC, but only after a number of substantial changes were made by Longo.58 Regarding the border conflict itself, the document clearly aligned the party with the Soviet Union, stating that the conflict was caused by China, which exerted unjust pressure towards the revision of the existing borders. In addition, China was criticized for its rejection of peaceful coexistence and for the Cultural Revolution. On the other hand, the document was critical of the Soviet Union on the following points: the arms race and the “balance of terror,” nationalist and dominant attitudes by the two superpowers in their respective camps, the need to acknowledge the strategic importance of China in the global struggle, and the observation of the principles of independence and non-interference in relations between socialist states. Most importantly, the document specified the “correct understanding” of peaceful coexistence: the situation of agreements between the two superpowers and the five atomic powers was only a temporary phase in a process towards a situation of the sovereignty of each state. At this point, the party needed to make clear that its concept of dynamic détente needed to be “shielded” by state sovereignty, a concept to which PCI texts had not referred since August 1968. Again, a strong argument was made against an understanding of peaceful coexistence on the basis of the blocs and against the hegemony of the superpowers inside the blocs; moreover, it was stated explicitly that this situation hindered the democratization of the socialist countries.

  • 59 Longo made this very clear: APCI, Dir, 7–8/5/69, 006–1531.
  • 60 APCI, Dir, 006–1533.

26As a result of the revived Sino–Soviet conflict, the PCI reinforced its shift towards strategic internationalism. This implied, firstly, a further shift of attention towards the Third World and the “offensive” strategy against imperialism.59 Secondly, it implied a further downplaying of the doctrinal dimension of internationalism: as Galluzzi said, an evaluation of the Chinese regime should be avoided, as this raised the need for a more thorough evaluation of the Soviet and East European regimes.60 The contradiction which arose from this—the lack of clarity as to why a common strategy should be developed with regimes with which one did not have much in common—was only aggravated.

1.3. Leftist criticism

27Criticism from the far Left inside and outside the PCI continued to constitute the main challenge to the party in terms of its internationalist line, its domestic strategy and its unity as a party. The Manifesto affair of late 1969 should be understood as a consequence of the Czechoslovak crisis and a phase in the realignment process of the party. It unfurled in the context of the continued socio-political crisis in Italy, which developed in the “Hot Autumn” of 1969.

1.3.1. The “Hot Autumn”61

  • 61 For more on the Hot Autumn generally, see, for example, Ginsborg, Storia d’Italia, pp. 419–435.
  • 62 Amyot, The Italian Communist Party, p. 195.
  • 63 Gozzini, “Il rapporto tra il sindacato e il PCI,” pp. 173–208.
  • 64 This implied that the CGIL, at its national congress in the autumn of 1969, did not adopt the idea (...)

28The student movement of 1967–1968 and the subsequent development into the formation of radicalized groups with a strong revolutionary discourse had important effects on the workers’ movement in Italy. The socalled Hot Autumn of 1969 erupted as a convergence of, on the one hand, the choice by the radial movements of students and intellectuals to “move to the people,” and, on the other hand, the rapid radicalization of the mass of industrial workers. A number of spontaneous actions and strikes in the Pirelli factories in Milan and the Fiat factory in Turin from the summer of 1969 onwards quickly grew into a nationwide phenomenon of grass-roots, spontaneous and sometimes violent actions in factories and in the streets. The objectives of the Hot Autumn movements were somewhat different with respect to the traditional objectives of the workers movement in Italy and included, besides workplace-related issues and wage demands, issues such as pension reforms and educational reforms.62 While the PCI considered the radicalized student groups as largely threatening, its position with regard to the radicalization of the workers was another matter. In this case, it was willing to “delegate” what it saw as its traditional monopoly on the representation of the working classes to the communist-dominated trade union the CGIL. The CGIL had at that point already undergone a double development towards more autonomy from the PCI on the one hand, and towards convergence with the Christian-dominated CISL into a unified sindacato on the other.63 Although in the first instance often taken by surprise by the spontaneous initiatives of the Comitati di base, the trade unions displayed a strong capacity for quickly adapting to the situation and regaining the initiative.64

  • 65 A similar interpretation can be found in Flores, Gallerano, Sul PCI, pp. 190–191.

29The PCI attempted to isolate the most radical segments of the political student groups and to minimize their influence over the workers. The convergence of worker and student militancy posed a greater challenge to the PCI than the eruption of student unrest had done in 1967–68. This was because the convergence was located at the heart of what the party considered to be its own terrain—the political representation of the working classes, mediation on behalf of the workers’ movement in political institutions, and the projection of a revolutionary political project. The revolutionary formations that grew out of 1968, and initiatives such as the factory councils and the Comitati di base seemed at that point to propose an alternative in all these respects. With their new methods and strong revolutionary discourse these groups, either implicitly or in explicit criticism, questioned the long-term fundamentals of the PCI’s domestic strategy and of the political role it saw for itself. The problem was made more complex by the fact that the ideas of the student movements, of the new Left and of Maoism continued to spread among the party rank and file.65

1.3.2. The “Manifesto affair”

  • 66 The disciplinary measure imposed on them (radiazione) differed from actual exclusion in that it wa (...)

30In this context, the challenge from the (far) Left in the party grew. The Central Committee meeting of November 1969 decided upon the “exclusion”66 of Rossanda, Pintor and A. Natoli, who had one year earlier founded the Manifesto group, on the charge of “factional activities.” Since the 12th Congress they had not ceased to criticize the domestic and internationalist line of the party. As a monthly periodical from June 1969 onwards, the Manifesto featured severe criticism of the party line on fundamental questions. With its open and self-conscious dissent, it attempted to widen the space for debate and disagreement inside the party. The Hot Autumn seemed only to reinforce their arguments regarding the urgency of the crisis that, in their view, was not only social and political but also systemic. To them, the events of the autumn of 1969 demonstrated that the party’s domestic strategy had failed, and that radically new methods should be used to achieve new goals. The new radical movements, with their emphasis on revolution in Italy and the world, and their criticism of the institutional and party system, were considered a point of departure. Furthermore, the group wanted to provoke a debate on the PCI as a party, involving its very concept, its culture, its organization, and its relation to the wider society. A “new and other party” was called for, which would be, as it was argued, more in touch with movements in society, more fluid, less hierarchically organized but at the same time more revolutionary, reactive and decisive. However vague this party concept was, it antagonized many in the PCI as it suggested the replacement of the PCI by something entirely different.

  • 67 On the ideas of the Manifesto group and the first issues, see Grazia, Da Natta a Natta, pp. 31–33.

31Soviet-aligned internationalism was a central target of criticism from the outset. The first two issues of the journal included critical pre- and post-assessments of the Moscow Conference. While the Manifesto disagreed with the party’s choice to attend the conference, it vehemently opposed the taboo surrounding Czechoslovakia and the PCI’s unwillingness to criticize the socialist regimes more strongly than it did. The group took the criticism of the Soviet Union far beyond the limits of the criticism officially endorsed recently. It called not only for a distancing from the Soviet Union but also for active resistance against its domination over world communism. Sympathies for Maoism were no longer disguised and the Cultural Revolution was enthusiastically discussed as a model for revolution in the West. The revolutionary and socialist nature of the Soviet Union and the East European regimes was questioned, and, hence, the very basis of the PCI’s international alignment with these regimes. This position as a whole was highly problematic to the PCI’s strategic internationalism. It raised doubts as to the meaning of a strategic alliance on a world scale with powers that might not be revolutionary or socialist, and it demonstrated the vague character of internationalism if based only on strategy and not on a common conception of socialism.67

  • 68 “Praga é sola,” Il manifesto, issue 4, August 1969.

32It was around the issue of Czechoslovakia and “normalization” that the diverse forms of criticism crystallized. The Manifesto reconnected several issues which the August invasion had initially brought up in the PCI but which had been isolated from one another since: relations with the communist world, global strategy and global revolution, détente and Italian strategy as a part of it, and conceptions of revolution and socialism. The immediate cause of the initiation of the disciplinary procedure against Rossanda, Pintor and Natoli was a Manifesto editorial of September 1969 with the title “Prague is alone.” The article repeated that the invasion of Czechoslovakia had been the consequence of deeply rooted problems in the Soviet Union rather than an “error,” which, as it argued, was the interpretation that the PCI was now attempting to construct. It called for the “defeat” and the “replacement” of the Soviet leaders and urged the European Left to make “new [international] choices.”68

  • 69 Moreover, the Manifesto had become very popular on the West European Left, in particular in France (...)
  • 70 This is according to Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 214.
  • 71 The interventions of the plenary CC sessions have been published in (PCI, ed.) La questione del Ma (...)
  • 72 It should be noted, however, that Berlinguer was also convinced that the positions of the Manifest (...)
  • 73 “Il dibattito,” in (PCI, ed.) La questione del Manifesto, p. 192.
  • 74 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 221.

33One reason why the Manifesto leaders were excluded was their rapidly growing popularity on the Italian Left.69 The first issue of the journal sold 55,000 copies in a few days.70 They stimulated the diffusion of (proto) Maoist positions and vocabulary in the party and on the Italian Left more generally, in a significant way. Those inside the central leadership who were less keen on excluding the Manifesto group, such as Berlinguer and Pajetta, were mostly concerned with this aspect and with the threat it posed to party unity. Pajetta referred to the “general disorientation” in the party and admitted that “we have vast zones to re-conquer in the party.”71 In his concluding speech to the CC meeting, Berlinguer insisted on the “concrete damage that has been done to the party.” He also invoked the importance of what he understood as “correct and loyal procedures,” namely, that disagreement with the party line should be expressed inside the organization and not in an open forum.72 Although the excluded Manifesto leaders were former ingraiani, at the 12th Congress Ingrao had taken his distance from their most radical criticisms, which had added to their isolation. Ingrao explicitly distanced himself from Pintor on two points. Firstly, he argued that the rise of the new student and radical movements had not brought about a fundamental change in the class struggle. Secondly, he argued that collaboration with leftist groups of the Socialist and Christian Democratic Parties should be the pillar of the party’s strategy, rather than for a dramatic shift to the new radical movements.73 Not willing to join the Manifesto group in its attacks on the party, and willing to abide by party discipline, he tried to convince them to moderate their statements.74

  • 75 La questione del Manifesto, pp. 150–167.
  • 76 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 218. Since the mid-1960s Lombardo Radice had develope (...)
  • 77 Oral report Cossuta to the Direzione, APCI, Dir, 31/10/68, 1104. However, the Soviets on this occa (...)
  • 78 It is difficult to estimate how significant these pressures were, and the PCI archives do not ment (...)
  • 79 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 218. Caprara and Grazia claim that CC member Donini w (...)

34There was strong pressure from the Right in the party to exclude the Manifesto group, for reasons that were more strongly ideological than those that motivated Berlinguer. Leaders such as Amendola, Bufalini and also Longo were deeply convinced that the Manifesto positions were wrong and fiercely attacked these at the CC meeting. Bufalini insisted that the group wanted the party completely to break its ties with the communist world, despite the fact that in her intervention Rossanda explicitly denied this. Longo claimed that the Manifesto’s positions on party organization would lead to a “liquidation” of the party.75 The Natta report, on the basis of which Rossanda, Pintor, Caprara and Natoli were charged with factionist activity and which proposed their exclusion, was adopted by the Central Committee with only six opposing votes (among them the three accused and the critical intellectual L. Lombardo Radice) and two abstentions.76 Soon afterwards, administrative measures were taken against four other collaborations on the journal, L. Magri, M. Caprara, V. Parlato and L. Castellina. There are signs of indirect Soviet pressure behind the expulsion of the Manifesto group, but it was far less explicit than that exerted by the Soviets on the PCF in terms of internal realignment, as will become clear below. At the height of the post-invasion conflict between the PCI and the CPSU, the Soviets, at a meeting with Cossutta in late October 1968, had made it clear that they considered as unacceptable the positions which Rossanda, Pintor and Natoli had taken at the CC meeting one month earlier.77 As these positions were expressed in an increasingly open way, it can only be assumed that Soviet objections grew.78 After the exclusions, the CPSU affirmed in Pravda its “complete agreement” with the decision of the PCI leadership.79

35Viewed in the longer term, the Manifesto affair was part of a process of dismantling the Left critique, which had been ongoing since the mid-1960s. It sanctioned the defeat of Ingrao at the 1966 congress. Its implications in terms of loss of affinity with the far Left in and outside the party, however, in the context of the (post-)student movements and the Hot Autumn, were now aggravated. There were direct links between the party’s changed internationalism after Czechoslovakia and the Manifesto affair. Firstly, in the aftermath of the Czechoslovak crisis the elimination of the Left was needed to demarcate the limits of acceptable criticism of the socialist regimes and to put a halt to the diffusion of Maoist ideas. Moreover, as the 12th Congress had narrowed down the underpinning for continued Soviet-aligned internationalism to (global and European) strategy, the question of whether this was indeed the adequate context for the PCI’s domestic strategy could not be raised. In particular, the questions which the Manifesto raised with regard to détente and peaceful coexistence needed to be silenced, as the central leadership had decided after the invasion of Czechoslovakia to ignore the contradictions connected to (Soviet) détente.

362. THE PCF

2.1. The construction of a taboo

  • 80 See also Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 223.

37The taboo regarding the events in Czechoslovakia, which the PCF leadership attempted to construct from late 1968 onwards, involved past as well as ongoing events: the Prague Spring, the invasion, and the “normalization” process. Information on Czechoslovakia was increasingly minimal and attention was diverted to other international events, mainly Vietnam. When events in Czechoslovakia were not tabooed, the interpretations gradually shifted to those provided by the Soviets and by Husák’s CPCS after April 1969. Illustrative of this was the use of the term “normalization” and the shift in meaning which the PCF accorded to it. Immediately following the invasion, PCF texts had often called for the “normalization” of the situation, but this had always implied the withdrawal of troops at some stage. Increasingly, the use of the term came to coincide with the Soviet one and the issue of the troop presence, and of Soviet interference in Czechoslovakia more generally, was passed over in silence.80

38In the context of the party’s relations with the communist world, the taboo stemmed from the impossibility of combining two things: the agreements with the Soviets, and the party’s unwillingness to revise its initial position of disagreement with the invasion. The Soviets insisted on “turning attention to what binds us together rather than what divides us.” To be sure, they would have greatly preferred the PCF not to taboo the Czechoslovak question but, rather, openly to shift to its own reading of events, including the “anti-socialist” character of the Prague Spring and the need for a military invasion. Instead, for the sake of the unity, and especially the historical integrity, of the party, the PCF could not revise its initial dissent over the invasion. Nor did it ever go as far as to judge the Prague Spring as counter-revolutionary. Thus, given its willingness to further comply to Soviet dominance, the non-mentioning of Czechoslovakia became the only solution acceptable to both parties. Furthermore, as the invasion of Czechoslovakia and the dissent continued to cause painful disagreements inside the PCF, the leadership saw no other solution than to silence the affair as far as possible, in an attempt to “get on with things.”

  • 81 Falsely, it was written that the students had cancelled their planned demonstration because the wo (...)
  • 82 See also Deli, De Budapest, p. 114.
  • 83 “Manifestation dans le centre de Prague—2 morts,” Humanité, 22/8/69, p. 3. Černík’s speech of 25/8 (...)
  • 84 Humanité, 22/8/69, p. 4.
  • 85 For a similar view see Streiff, Kanapa, p. 535.

39The party press, in its coverage of the “normalization,” attempted to minimize the political problems in Czechoslovakia and to present a picture of unity inside the CPCS and public opinion, omitting the signs of Soviet interference. Humanité reported on the political and public unrest that followed the suicide of Palach in the most minimal way.81 The replacement of Dubček by Husák in mid-April was not reported until 21 April, which expressed embarrassment more than anything else. It was said that the changes at the top of the party had been necessary to mirror the new balance of forces in the CPCS.82 After that, the PCF press feigned a belief in an unproblematic convergence of the “normalized” CPCS, public opinion and the Soviets in the reconstruction of the regime. On the first anniversary of the invasion in August 1969, Humanité interpreted the political and social unrest as, if not caused, then at least aggravated and exploited, by “anti-Soviet forces.”83 The contradictions of the PCF position were painfully clear from the dry, commentless report by Humanité of Husák’s cancelling, on 21 August 1969, of the protest against the invasion which had been communicated by the CPCS Presidium one year earlier.84 Humanité went as far as to take a neutral tone when relating the invasion.85

  • 86 Hengtès, P. “Gustáv Husák,” s.d. (but around 17/4), APCF, “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 3 “ (...)
  • 87 APCF, Sec, 26/8/69.
  • 88 The unusually long report on the situation in Czechoslovakia in the Secretariat decisions of Septe (...)

40The PCF leadership was better informed of the unstable political situation in Czechoslovakia and inside its communist party than this minimal coverage suggested. But, once more, perceptions were highly biased. The PCF leadership selected Husák and his allies as its only source of information even before Dubček’s ousting in April 1969. The PCF seems to have had no direct contact whatsoever with Dubček or other former Prague Spring leaders. In mid-April Hentgès presented the leadership with a positive judgement of Husák: he was valued for his “firm attitude” and was expected effectively to combat “anti-socialist forces.”86 In late August 1969, the Secretariat discussed the “great difficulties” in the country, noting with worry that in the context of “anti-socialist attacks” the party leadership had only started to take control of the situation.87 As to cancelling the anti-invasion communication by Husák in August 1969, the position taken by the Secretariat internally was ambivalent. On the one hand it was acknowledged that the cancellation of the statement was inevitable, because of the domestic context and the “actual relations between the socialist countries.” On the other hand, the cancelling was regarded with worry, as it “tends to justify the invasion.” At this point the PCF was highly concerned with not being attacked for the inconsistencies in its position. The only way out of this dilemma, as it was affirmed at the Secretariat meeting in a quasi-explicit way, was to hide behind the argument of non-interference in the affairs of other parties.88

  • 89 For a similar view see Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 203.

41The construction of a taboo regarding Czechoslovakia largely failed. It was made impossible by, on the one hand, critics inside the party and on the French Left, and on the other hand pressure from the CPCS, which expected from the PCF greater and overt support. Throughout 1969–1970 the PCF was drawn into a series of incidents and “affairs,” which brought up Czechoslovakia in a painful way and kept it at the centre of attention on the French Left. The incidents exposed the internal contradictions and discontinuities of the PCF’s attitude towards both the “Prague Spring CPCS” and the “normalized CPCS,” and made the party partly compliant in the repression in Czechoslovakia. Not able to break away from its traditional role of fille aînée, the PCF in the first instance aspired to influence events in Czechoslovakia for the better through classic means of diplomacy in the communist world. It did so despite the fact that the failure of Rochet’s parallel diplomacy had demonstrated its limited influence. When it became clear, especially through the so-called “Kanapa notes” affair, how illusory this was, the party’s attitude became a fatal mix of involvement, compliance and willful ignorance. While it occasionally feigned to have a positive impact on the events, on other occasions it withdrew, hiding behind arguments of “non-intervention.” Especially after 1969, its “attempts” to ease the repression through influence on the CPCS were void of any significance and motivated by considerations of domestic image.89

  • 90 For example, Fajon was sent to Prague and met with Bilák in late August to gain information on the (...)
  • 91 Denis, J. “Note sur mon voyage en Tchécoslovaquie—Pour le Secrétariat—Mai 1969,” APCF, “Evénements (...)
  • 92 APCF, BP, 30/7/70: “In this communication [from the CPCS] our party is asked to take position in f (...)

42The “normalized” CPCS exerted tremendous pressure on the PCF throughout 1969–1970 to revise its initial position of disagreement with the invasion, publicly to support the normalization and the repression. It continuously “offered assistance” to the PCF in the interpretation of the current events in the country.90 The Czechoslovaks furthermore insisted on “intensifying contact and relations”: they proposed the exchange of journalists and experts, the exchange of information on the domestic situations, and a summit meeting after the CPCS congress (for which no date had as then been scheduled).91 The PCF resisted the pressure on only two points: it did not revise its initial position of dissent—although it did come close—and it protested against the measures taken against some of the Prague Spring leaders. Direct pressure to support the expulsion of Dubček from the CPCS in July 1970 was exerted via a non-official message from the CPCS to the Bureau politique. The Bureau politique, internally divided on the issue, protested against the expulsion of Dubček—although in a faint way—and restated its disagreement with the invasion. In an attempt not to worsen bilateral relations it did not, however, protest against the measures taken against others or against the repression as a whole.92

  • 93 See especially Streiff, Kanapa, pp. 534–538.
  • 94 This according to the report by Marchais before the CC of May 1970. Streiff, Kanapa, p. 536.
  • 95 There is a note in the Fajon fund at the PCF archives with the title “26/11/69—Fajon délégation à (...)
  • 96 Several missions to Prague were carried out to this end; BP member A. Vieuguet, for example, was s (...)
  • 97 For the communication by the BP see Humanité, 18/2/72.
  • 98 Correspondence PCF-CPCS on this, translated from Russian to German: BA, SAPMDB, SED-ZPA, DY 30/IV (...)

43The question of how to react to Dubček’s exclusion, to the measures taken against him, and to the repression more generally was complicated by the controversy surrounding the “Kanapa notes.” The affair demonstrated the extent to which the CPCS was prepared to put pressure on the PCF to make it complicit in the “normalization,” and the inability of the latter firmly to resist this. As the episode has been covered in detail elsewhere,93 here I shall only add some elements and point at the wider effects of it on the PCF’s realignment. As part of its pressure on the PCF, the CPCS, on the basis of the “Kanapa notes” of the July meeting between Rochet and Dubček, started to criticize the French communists for “a too encouraging attitude” vis-à-vis Dubček during the Prague Spring. It went as far as to blame the French communists for having stimulated Dubček in his resistance against Soviet pressure.94 While the PCF initially reacted with reluctance to the request to hand over a copy of the notes, a party delegation, sent by Marchais and Guyot and led by Fajon, went to Prague in late November 1969 to hand over the notes. The PCF leadership afterwards claimed that it had not handed over the notes but had only lent the notes for ten minutes. This explanation was considered unsatisfactory already at the time, and becomes even more unlikely in the light of information from the PCF archives.95 When it became clear that the normalisers in the CPCS were planning to use the notes against Dubček, the PCF protested against it and against the repression more generally. However, its public and private campaigns of protest against the repression in Czechoslovakia96 turned out to be not only without effect but also motivated solely by a concern for its domestic image. For example, in February 1972 the party sent Fajon to Prague to dissuade Husák from using repressive means. The BP communication that was issued upon his return stated that Husák had given the guarantee that no political trials would occur, and the PCF indeed presented this as the successful outcome of its intra-communist diplomacy.97 These guarantees, however, were afterwards denied by the CPCS, which moreover claimed that at the meeting Fajon had agreed that “a limited number of trials would be necessary.”98

  • 99 Bartošek, in his Les Aveux of 1996, argues the case, based on extensive research (although questio (...)
  • 100 More on the “Slánský trials,” of which this was one, in chapter four.
  • 101 Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 192–194.
  • 102 APCF, BP, 27/8/70 and 17/9/70.

44The construction of a taboo regarding Czechoslovakia was further made impossible by the responses on the French Left to the publication of the book l’Aveu by Artur London in 1969.99 The book was a testimony of the Stalinist trial of which the author had been a victim in Czechoslovakia in the 1950s,100 and painfully revealed the repressive and violent methods that had been used. The book, and the film which was made of it in 1970 by Costa-Gavras, caused great consternation on the French Left. L’Aveu came to symbolize the lost dream of “socialism with a human face.” Although the direct effects on PCF membership were probably minimal, on the wider French intellectual and artistic Left L’Aveu seriously damaged the image of the PCF. The radical leftists, however, criticized the book for its “liberalism.”101 Generally, as well as recalling the Stalinist trials in Czechoslovakia and in the PCF itself, L’Aveu kept the normalization and the actual repression in Czechoslovakia at the centre of attention on the French (intellectual and artistic) Left. This was all the more so when in August 1970, after the book had been circulated clandestinely throughout the country, the CPCS took repressive measures against London. While the party was not willing to support London it was not willing, on the other hand, openly to support the repression in Czechoslovakia. Thus it took no official stance on the issue but was left only with attempts to avoid the worst—namely that London would take part in “anti-communist happenings” in France.102 As the controversy coincided with the polemics over the Kanapa notes, with the measures in Czechoslovakia against Dubček and with the conflict between a number of communist intellectuals and Marchais (on which more below), it culminated in a general criticism of the PCF and its inconsistent attitude towards the Czechoslovak events.

2.2. The purge in the leadership and party

  • 103 The cases themselves will be dealt with here only briefly, as the available archives do not provid (...)

45In the case of the PCF, the aftermath of the Czechoslovak crisis first and foremost signified a turnover in the leadership and the loss of a group of intellectuals. These events within the party will be dealt here with first, before turning to the definition of a new party line. While in the PCI the disciplinary measures were the consequence of the definition of a new line on internationalism, in the PCF the disciplinary measures were, partly, the precondition for the definition of such a new line, as there was much less of a consensus from which to depart. The exclusion of a number of well-known party intellectuals, and the indirect influence of these cases on the party as a whole, grew into an “anti-revisionist” campaign, although the party did not name it as such. It was needed because these intellectuals, more than any other actor on the French Left, refused to taboo Czechoslovakia. By neutralizing its “revisionist intellectuals” the party attempted, partly successfully, to take Czechoslovakia off the political agenda. The turnover at the very top of the party—the gradual and unofficial replacing of Rochet by G. Marchais—was the closing piece of this anti-revisionist campaign.103

2.2.1. The rise of Marchais

  • 104 Lavau, “L’URSS et eux…,” p. 199; and Streiff, Kanapa, p. 527. Rochet became ill shortly after the (...)
  • 105 The clearest indication of this is the above-mentioned “Avant-projet pour un article,” s.n., s.d., (...)

46The replacement of Rochet by Marchais was a gradual and largely veiled process. At least from late 1969 onwards Marchais took over most of the everyday tasks of general secretary.104 It was also largely a hidden process: in a mock procedure Rochet was re-elected as general secretary in absentia at the party’s national congress of February 1971. Marchais was not officially elected general secretary before 1972; on this occasion Rochet was nominated honorary president. As a result of the replacement of Rochet, the careful cultural change in the party, characterized by less authoritarian procedures and more intellectual freedom, and the attempts to distance itself from the Soviet Union were blocked up to the mid-1970s. The replacement of Rochet by Marchais did not, however, radically upset the party’s domestic strategy. While the official reason for his replacement was his illness, Rochet needed to be ousted because he had undertaken initiatives that had exposed the contradictions of Soviet internationalism. This had happened not only through the protest against the invasion, but also through his “diplomatic campaign” preceding it. Around 1968, Rochet was developing ideas on internationalism which threatened to break from the PCF’s traditional obedience to the Soviet Union and diverged from some of its basic parameters. The 1965 conflict with the Soviets had already demonstrated the priority he was willing to grant to domestic strategy and the disregard for Soviet strategic interests. Furthermore, in the aftermath of the invasion he seemed to have been ready to engage in an open conflict with the Soviet Communist Party over essential questions of doctrine and strategy.105 Finally, as we will see below, he had showed an interest in a dynamic understanding of détente and peaceful coexistence, which not only hinted at the contradictions of Soviet détente but also broke with the party’s usual inability to understand the “global struggle” from any other perspective than a Zhdanovian, bipolar one.

  • 106 The disappearance of Rochet can be understood, as P. Robrieux has argued, as part of a longer-term (...)
  • 107 Brezhnev in particular showed a preference for Marchais, as the latter had supported him in 1964 a (...)
  • 108 It is possible that Rochet preferred Kanapa to play a key role at the conference and in internatio (...)
  • 109 Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 239; also Robrieux (La secte, pp. 116–120) suggests this.
  • 110 The initially difficult relationship between Kanapa and Marchais developed in the 1970s into one i (...)
  • 111 The new leadership’s ties with Moscow were also secured by the fact that Plissonnier functioned th (...)

47As a consequence of the coming to power of Marchais, discipline was significantly tightened.106 To some extent the rise to power of Marchais followed up on the old habit of the Soviet Communist Party of nominating the general secretary of the PCF. The hypothesis has always existed that Rochet was set aside under Soviet pressure. Although the presently available sources do not provide clear evidence on this, it is a fact that on several occasions the Soviets showed support for Marchais and, after Czechoslovakia, openly preferred him to Rochet.107 The 1969 Moscow Conference was a key moment at which Marchais came to the fore: most significantly, the Soviets granted him the honor of presiding over one of the plenary sessions.108 He was a member of the delegations to all the important international meetings after the invasion of Czechoslovakia and became the regular interlocutor with the Soviet Communist Party and other East European communist parties. Besides, Marchais was able to impose himself as the leader of the party because he had accumulated several official and nonofficial positions. He was head of the section cadres, through which he held a firmer grip over the apparatus than Rochet had done.109 Furthermore, he had come to operate as Guyot’s advisor in the foreign affairs section and was deeply involved in the negotiations with the Socialist Party. Admittedly, in 1968 he still had powerful opponents in the central leadership, notably Leroy and to a lesser extent Frachon, while Kanapa held very different views on internationalism than he did.110 However, he was crucially allied with Fajon and Plissonnier,111 while conservative members such as Guyot and Duclos were willing to support him because they expected he would put an end to some of the liberalizations of the Rochet era.

2.2.2. The purging of “revisionist” intellectuals

  • 112 See the discussion of this in Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 128.
  • 113 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 217.

48Disagreement with the realignment of the PCF—the internal realignment, the realignment with the Soviet Union and the taboo on Czechoslovakia— was widespread in the party, especially among its intellectuals. Their continued protest against it led the central leadership to exclude from the party a number of well-known communist intellectuals. The purges took place despite the fact that the so-called Champigny program, laid down by the Central Committee meeting of December 1968, granted considerable attention to the role of intellectuals. In an attempt to respond to the events of May 1968 and to include in its strategy a wider group of intellectuals, the concept of the “communist intellectual” was expanded to non-party members and to students.112 However, in practice the party entered into a spiral of increasing doctrinal and intellectual rigidity. In those cases where disciplinary measures were not taken, the threat of these was enough to make many intellectuals censor themselves.113

  • 114 A special CC session on the party and intellectuals planned for October was cancelled. Geoffroy, J (...)
  • 115 The Secretariat decided on this, invoking the argument of financial problems. APCF, Sec, 15/10/68. (...)
  • 116 Daix, Les hérétiques, pp. 243–244.
  • 117 This happened first in an Humanité article by J. Chambaz, assistant of Leroy, of 11 November. The (...)
  • 118 Initially, two-thirds of the cell members voted in support of Daix; the BP then sent Henri Fiszbin (...)
  • 119 Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 244.
  • 120 For the party’s reaction see L. Methey, “A propos d’une préface,” Humanité, 18/10/68.
  • 121 Partial records of the CC meeting can, be found in Paris–Prague, pp. 131–142, at 135. The discipli (...)

49The tension that had existed since May 1968 between the leadership and the intellectuals developed into an open crisis in 1969–1970.114 The editor of Democratie nouvelle, P. Noirot, attempted to provoke critical discussions on Czechoslovakia and the socialist regimes. A special issue of Democratie nouvelle on Czechoslovakia was censored, notably under pressure from Denis and Duclos, in mid-October 1968.115 A storm of protest from communist intellectuals was the result: close to 300 communist intellectuals signed a petition in support of Noirot. The latter set up a new journal, Politique aujourd’hui, in which more critical analyses of the socialist regimes were developed.116 From November 1968 onwards, the Bureau politique and Humanité condemned the journal.117 Noiret was excluded from the party following a vote in his cell, inside which the situation was manipulated by the BP.118 The cell of Sorbonne-Lettres excluded writer P. Rozenberg and historian M. Rebérioux.119 The exclusion of Garaudy from the party in early 1970 was the most flagrant case in the purge. After his disagreement with the majority of the Bureau politique, which became evident immediately following the invasion, Garaudy continued to pressure towards a more critical distance vis-à-vis the socialist regimes. Humanité reacted sharply to the preface of Garaudy’s book edited in October 1968, La liberté en sursis, in which he referred to the Prague Spring as a model for the PCF and argued for a new involvement of intellectuals in party politics.120 At the Central Committee meeting of October 1968, Garaudy denounced the retreat of the party before Soviet pressure: he argued for a more active policy of support of the CPCS and for a more assertive point of departure for the PCF delegation in view of the upcoming meeting with the Soviets. He was censured and agreed to submit to party discipline.121

  • 122 A similar view can be found in Dreyfus, PCF: Crises et dissidences, p. 157.
  • 123 In early 1970 Garaudy published his dossiers of documents, including this article, in connection t (...)
  • 124 The letter, “Est-ce de l’anti-Sovietisme?,” 14/9/69, is published in Garaudy, Toute la vérite, pp. (...)
  • 125 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 218.

50While he disagreed with the “party line” on several issues, it was the combination of this with his continued disagreement on Czechoslovakia and his reference to socialist regimes other than Soviet-style ones that provoked his expulsion.122 In August 1969 Garaudy gave an interview for the journal Kommunist, organ of the Yugoslav League of Communists. In this interview, under the title “Centralisme bureaucratique ou autogestion,” he criticized the Soviet and Czechoslovak communist parties, disagreed with the position taken by the PCF on the Moscow Conference, criticized the PCF for its analysis of the May events and suggested a positive evaluation of Titoism.123 It brought him another reprimand from the Bureau politique, which he did not accept. Instead, he argued in a letter to the Bureau politique that “we can no longer be silent [on the repression in Czechoslovakia], as silence becomes complicity.”124 In his book Le grand tournant du socialisme, which was published in late 1969, and at the 19th National Party Congress of February 1970, he reiterated his views on domestic strategy. These were centered around the need to bring about a “historic bloc” and to focus on some of the issues brought up by the student movements. The Central Committee ratified his expulsion in May 1970.125

  • 126 APCF, Sec, 23/10/69. The fact that the Secretariat decisions, which usually reported on internal p (...)

51The party leadership must surely have realized that the Garaudy case was not an isolated one but, instead, connected to wider problems regarding intellectual freedom, pluralism, and how to relate to the socialist regimes. The general crisis in the party and the negative responses coming from party intellectuals, from the wider party ranks, and from the socialists after the second measure against Garaudy, amply demonstrated this. The Secretariat noted: “It seems that the party as a whole is satisfied with the work of the Central Committee. Which does not mean that there is no hesitation among certain comrades, among them intellectuals. This is mainly to do with Czechoslovakia.”126

  • 127 The BP asked the Yugoslavs to distance themselves from Garaudy’s views, and asked the Spanish Comm (...)
  • 128 Marchais had previously maintained that he had been forced to go to Germany in 1942 and had escape (...)
  • 129 This disciplinary formula implied that Tillon had not obtained reparation regarding his case, but (...)
  • 130 For more detail see Daix, Les hérétiques, pp. 264–267; Dreyfus, PCF: Crisis et dissidences, pp. 15 (...)

52Once expelled, Garaudy continued to pose a problem to party unity à la Marchais. He did so because of his influence among intellectuals in the party, and because he continued to point at the inconsistencies in the PCF’s policy in the Czechoslovak crisis. The PCF attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to isolate him in France and internationally.127 In the summer of 1970, a number of critical communist intellectuals carried out a joint attack on Marchais. Garaudy accused him of involvement in the repression in Czechoslovakia in relation to the Kanapa notes affair. Together with renowned communists such as Charles Tillon and Jean Pronteau, he published the text Il n’est plus possible de se taire, which implicitly brought up Marchais’s war record. Furthermore, in an article published in the noncommunist press Tillon revealed what many knew but had not dared to make public, namely, that Marchais had signed up for voluntary work in Germany during the Second World War and that, upon his adherence to the PCF, he had falsified his biography.128 Tillon, a former Resistance member enjoying widespread prestige, had already undergone disciplinary measures in the 1950s but had been “re-established in his rights and tasks.”129 In 1969 Tillon voiced increasingly openly his unwillingness to accept the taboo on Czechoslovakia. The dossier against him included an appeal to the party which asked for a formal condemnation of the “normalization” in Czechoslovakia, and the publication of a book, Un procès de Moscou à Paris, which revealed some of the authoritarian methods in the PCF. He was excluded in July 1970.130

  • 131 Report by Gen. Walkowski to H. Axen (head of the “Büro internationale Verbindungen” to the CC) 4/1 (...)
  • 132 Noirot and Tillon were mentioned alongside Garaudy, but less often. The SED was generally very sat (...)
  • 133 See Daix, Tout mon temps, pp. 438–443. Diax left the PCF in 1973 following the Solzhenitsyn affair (...)

53The communist parties of the Soviet Union and East Germany exerted pressure on the PCF in connection to the cases of the “revisionist” intellectuals. The SED closely followed Garaudy’s positions from 1966 onwards: in its report of the Argenteuil Central Committee meeting of 1966, Garaudy’s “deviating analyses” were highlighted.131 According to the SED, Garaudy was organizing an international grouping of “modern revisionists,” supposedly including Prague Spring leaders Pelikán and Šik, the Austrian communists E. Fischer and F. Marek, and the Italian communist intellectual L. Lombardo Radice. The East Germans considered the PCF’s struggle against Garaudy, Noirot and Tillon as “not consistent enough.” Only after the measures against Garaudy did the SED consider the PCF to have “finally developed a theoretical argumentation against revisionism.”132 Furthermore, the conflict between the Soviet-oriented line in the PCF on the one hand and the critical intellectuals on the other, led to the eventual closure of Les lettres françaises in 1972. Despite their continued solidarity with the (former) Czechoslovak reformers, the writers of Les lettres françaises were initially spared from outright repression, although they did undergo psychological pressure through isolation. This was aggravated when Aragon wrote a positive review of L’Aveu in LLF, and described the ongoing repression in Czechoslovakia in the foreword of the French translation of M. Kundera’s The Joke as “a Biafra of the spirit.” As a result, the Soviets ended their subscriptions to LLF and the financial problems thus inflicted on the journal were fatal.133

  • 134 See the analysis in Grémion, Paris–Prague, pp. 213–217.

54The neutralization of the critical intellectuals in the party marked a break with the brief era of relative intellectual freedom in 1965–1968. In a general sense, it was the result of both the May ’68 events and the Czechoslovak crisis, as the party leadership considered it necessary to avoid an open discussion regarding some of the contradictions of the party’s new internationalist and domestic line. These contradictions lie not only in the obvious discrepancy between the rhetoric on party autonomy on the one hand and the enduring influence of the Soviet Communist Party over the PCF on the other. Contradictions also arose from the party’s use of old and inadequate concepts of revolution and socialism, revealed through the Czechoslovak crisis as well as through the May ’68 events, and from the unwillingness to question whether Soviet strategy in Europe was a constructive back-up to the PCF’s domestic strategy. As these were not only political but also theoretical and intellectual problems, it was necessary to avoid a profound theoretical Marxist investigation. The fact that intellectuals were targeted specifically was to do with the traditional influence which intellectuals had on the PCF and from their recently acquired relative intellectual freedom. The neutralization of the critical intellectuals was also the result of the Czechoslovak crisis in a more specific sense: as these intellectuals had taken up the defense of the critical writers in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring, they had in most cases identified themselves with the “liberal” strand of the domestic criticism in Czechoslovakia. The exclusion of the “revisionist” intellectual tradition permitted the PCF, from 1970 onwards, to reconstruct a new Marxist theory and dogma, which claimed to respond to both “revisionism” and “leftism.” While this was influenced by the Prague Spring (for example in its attempt to reconsider pluralism in socialist society without, however, giving up the doctrine of the leading role of the communist party) and by the student movements (for example in its attention to the structures of knowledge), it did not fundamentally raise the complex questions posed by both movements regarding the nature of socialism.134

2.3. “Historical internationalism” and the question of revolution

  • 135 Streiff has observed a similar shift after 1968 towards a “nostalgic attachment to the historical (...)

55The realignment of the PCF in terms of an internationalist and domestic party line was a more difficult process than in the case of the PCI, and lasted up to 1970. The changes in the PCF’s internationalism were less visible, less far-reaching and less coherent than in the case of the PCI. Rather than offering new solutions, they brought to the fore the deeper-lying problems connected to Soviet-aligned internationalism in the West European context. The changes which the PCF’s internationalism underwent as a consequence of the Czechoslovak crisis were, as in the case of the PCI, the result of a problematic relation to the regimes of “really existing socialism.” In the PCF case, the problem was related to the conception of the world communist movement and rules of interaction, and to strategy, rather than to doctrine. In an attempt to cover this up, the internationalism of the PCF shifted to what can be called “historical internationalism”: the PCF increasingly identified itself with the historical world communist movement and the historical Soviet Union, rather than with the actual world communist movement and the actual socialist regimes.135

2.3.1. The shift to historical internationalism

56At its Central Committee meeting of December 1968, held in Champigny, and further at the party’s 19th Congress in February 1970, the PCF aimed to re-establish a coherent party line on domestic strategy and internationalism. While it presented this line as a response to both the May ’68 events and the Czechoslovak crisis, the crux of the matter was that it attempted to avoid responding to the deeper-lying questions brought up by both events. Generally, attention was shifted away from internationalism and towards domestic strategy. The PCF’s internationalism was increasingly connected back to the October Revolution, Leninism and the founding of the Soviet state, and disconnected from the actual Soviet Communist Party and its leaders. To be sure, in practice the PCF continued to maintain strong ties with Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. However, the reasons justifying these relations were increasingly less to do with the nature of the (actual) socialist regimes or their strategy, and more to do with the historical significance of the Soviet state and its communist party and the need to belong to the historical movement that it headed. This shift was the result of a problematic relation with the actual socialist regimes in terms of global and European strategy, which had become evident in the first instance through Soviet support for de Gaulle in 1965 and in the second instance through the invasion of Czechoslovakia.

  • 136 Waldeck Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 89–90.
  • 137 For example Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 92–94.

57The shift towards historical internationalism made a somewhat critical evaluation of the socialist regimes possible. As in the PCI, limited forms of criticism of the socialist regimes were made acceptable by the PCF leadership. Czechoslovakia had led the PCF leadership to understand that the adoption of at least a minimal form of criticism was required in terms of its domestic position and in view of its domestic alliance strategy. The existence of a number of “problems” and “mistakes” of the socialist regimes was now admitted. A critical argument on the development of the Soviet Union and the socialist regimes was expounded as a way to both contextualize and justify these problems. In his book L’Avenir du Parti communiste français, published in 1969 as an elaboration of the Champigny line, Rochet made explicit the conditions on which criticism of the socialist regimes could be made. They were very similar to those in the case of the PCI, although generally the language used was more compliant.136 There was, however, one major difference in comparison to the PCI: 1917 remained entirely intact as a myth, and indeed became a revived point of reference. The Bolshevik Revolution and Lenin were invoked, rather than more recent Soviet or WCM texts, to illustrate (and justify) the diversity of roads to socialism, the possibility of a peaceful transition, the autonomy of communist parties and other issues central to the party’s domestic strategy.137

  • 138 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 219.
  • 139 For example in the document adopted at the CC meeting of December 1968 (see below): Rochet, Pour u (...)

58Verdès-Leroux has referred to the analysis of the socialist regimes after 1968 carried out by the PCF and its intellectuals as “moral poly-linguism”: while on the one hand criticism was often expressed of isolated cases, on the other hand the general positive qualities of the regimes were always reaffirmed.138 This can be explained through the intensified relationship with the historical CPSU: the actual Soviet Union, despite its shortcomings, had the ultimate benefit of being the sole heir to Lenin. The revolution of 1917 remained the first and crucial historical event in the development towards the break-up of world capitalism—and the Soviet Union represented this. As did the PCI, the PCF retreated into a relativist position in terms of the conception of socialism and the evaluation of the socialist states. The thesis that “communist experiences could not be exported and should not be copied blindly”139 suggested the limited relevance of the experiences of “really existing socialism” to the French road to socialism. It reflected an unwillingness to value the actual socialist regimes in absolute terms, on the grounds of principle or with reference to the definition of socialism. The retreat into relativism in terms of doctrine was not, as in the case of the PCI, a cover-up for a fundamental disagreement with the socialist regimes regarding doctrine. As the reception of the Prague Spring in the PCF has demonstrated, it was not that the PCF unambiguously favored a different, more democratic and more pluralist type of socialism. Rather, the PCF’s concept of socialism was vague, incoherent and subject to contradictory domestic pressures. While the gauchistes identified themselves with more revolutionary socialist models, the reformist Left proposed a more pluralist and mixed type of socialism. It was these domestic pressures which made the party develop relativist criticism of the socialist regimes rather than clear points of reference as to what socialism should be.

  • 140 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 145–147.
  • 141 Kanapa developed a somewhat differing concept of WCM unity, which was clearly influenced by the PC (...)

59The fact that no more significant changes occurred after 1968 regarding the organization of the world communist movement was due largely to the fact that the party’s theoretical arsenal did not include alternatives to the classic centralist conception of it. This sharply contrasted to the PCI’s development since 1956 of concepts such as polycentrism, allargamento and dynamic détente. As we have seen, the PCF had a history of reluctance to accept the Soviet strategy of peaceful coexistence and had done so, ultimately, only as a matter of obedience. After 1969 the PCF, generally, displayed little interest in détente beyond the obligatory rhetoric. In 1969 Rochet attempted to spell out the problems connected to the “static” dimensions of Soviet strategy in Europe, at the same time, in PCI fashion, aiming at making a more “dynamic” concept of détente acceptable to the hostile elements in the leadership and the party. In L’Avenir, while explaining the meaning of peaceful coexistence and emphasizing once more that it did not imply the acceptance of the status quo, Rochet referred to Lenin rather than to the actual Soviet leadership. Most significantly, and against official WCM guidelines, he went on to argue that peaceful coexistence did not apply to the workers’ movement in the capitalist world. He did admit that peaceful coexistence “indirectly but strongly” favored this latter movement, in that it created the circumstances in which large groups of the population could be mobilized in favor of peace and against American imperialism.140 The argument was not convincing: Rochet here seemed to admit that this last point was the only benefit of peaceful coexistence to the French situation and did not raise the question as to how it would further help socialism in the West to come about.141

  • 142 “Rapport sur la situation de politique extérieure,” s.n., s.d., APCF, Fund Rochet, box 14, folder (...)
  • 143 “Rapport sur la situation de politique extérieure,” s.n., s.d., APCF, Fund Rochet, box 14, folder (...)

60The problem with détente was that it did not fit into the PCF’s still essentially Manichean world-view. It was hard for the party to change this world-view, because it was closely connected to its domestic sources of legitimation: anti-Americanism, France’s sovereignty in the Cold War context, and anti-German feelings. Thus, lacking a view of dynamic détente, the PCF came to endorse, out of discipline, the static Soviet view on East–West relations. There was a wide gap between Rochet’s (meager) attempt to introduce a dynamic concept of détente, and the shift undertaken in 1969 by Soviet-loyalist leaders such as Marchais and Guyot towards acceptance of the defensive Soviet strategy in Europe. Perfectly in line with Soviet and WCM analyses, the PCF at this point developed a pessimistic analysis of the “balance of forces” in Europe and perceived the need for a defensive strategy of “preserving what has been won.” Guyot, in a report on the international situation prepared for and discussed by the Bureau politique in January 1969, went as far as to argue that NATO, the United States and West Germany were preparing a war.142 There was a new emphasis on the “offensive strategy” undertaken by capitalism and on the need for a cautious policy in response to this. The call which was made for the “joint action of all pacifist forces against German militarism and against NATO”143, and, more generally, the revival of anti-German discourses, lay in line with Soviet rhetoric in this phase but also, as we have seen, followed from the PCF’s suspicions regarding Ostpolitik since 1967.

  • 144 APCF, BP, 25/9/69.
  • 145 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 150–151.

61Peaceful coexistence in Europe was, in this report, explicitly identified with the foreign policy of the socialist states. Other sectors of the world communist movement, such as the workers’ movement in the West and the liberation movements in the Third World, were considered largely dependent on this first sector. The PCF expressed itself in favor of the simultaneous dissolution of the blocs. However, the PCF did not, as the PCI did for Italy, favor a neutralist position for France. This followed from the traditional communist aversion for neutralism: because, according to the official analysis, the dissolution of the blocs would lead to the passage to socialism, it made no sense to talk of neutralism.144 In reality, of course, neutralism was potentially dangerous, as a neutralist centre of power could attract renegades from the Soviet-dominated world. Furthermore, the PCF became one of the main promoters of the Soviet proposal for a conference of European peoples for peace and security. Most importantly, PCF texts now, more clearly than before 1968, emphasized that the party was against the force de frappe and in favor of the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.145 In doing so, the party gave up one of the few elements by which, in the mid-1960s, it had carefully opposed Soviet strategy in Europe. The adoption of the Guyot report and, more generally, the turnover in the PCF leadership marked the temporary end of the PCF’s cautious attempts during the Rochet era to mould internationalism and European strategy on its own (domestic) needs.

  • 146 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, p. 139.

62The party’s relationship to the normalization in Czechoslovakia, as well as its attitude to the Moscow Conference, demonstrated how the party continued to shift between a position of autonomy, non-interference and relativism on the one hand, and an ideal-conception of a strongly united communist world on the other. This was characteristic of the basic contradiction in the PCF’s internationalism after 1969. On the one hand, in line with its shift to historical internationalism, an ideal-vision of a coherent and united world communist movement was cultivated. The ideal-conception was of a grouping of tightly connected communist parties, equal to each other and mutually dependent on one another. This conception of communist world unity was strongly emphasized in PCF documents after the Czechoslovak crisis, and it was always, as for example in L’Avenir by Rochet, the counterbalance to statements regarding autonomy.146 Admittedly, the PCF now, more openly than before the Czechoslovak crisis, acknowledged that disagreements existed in terms of domestic strategy (not European or global strategy). However, it was always affirmed that these did not need to hinder unity, as the interests of all communist parties “objectively coincided.”

  • 147 I agree here with Hincker, Le PCF au carrefour, p. 82.
  • 148 The insistence on sovereignty in PCF texts after 1968 is notable, for example in Rochet, L’Avenir (...)

63The crux of the matter was that underneath the apparent congruence with Soviet foreign policy lay a well-perceived conflict of interests and strategy. While the crises of 1965 (de Gaulle) and 1968 (Czechoslovakia) led the PCF leadership to understand that it should best be the sole judge of its domestic strategy, the erratic evaluations by the Soviets of the PCF’s May ’68 strategy demonstrated the limited interest of the former in communist strategy in the West. It was this understanding, never made explicit, which led the party to shift its full attention towards a national strategy based on a broad Left alliance.147 The insistence on communist party autonomy and on state sovereignty was, after 1969, the only visible remnant of the understanding of this strategic problem.148

2.3.2. Revolution and the domestic program

  • 149 Khilnani, Arguing Revolution, pp. 127–131. I do not agree with Khilnani’s view that, as a result o (...)

64The deeper-lying reason behind the PCF’s shift to an intensified identification with the Bolshevik Revolution and Leninism was to do with the question of revolution and the crisis on the French Left after May 1968. Some of the established political and ideological concepts of the French Left disintegrated as a result of the political and societal crisis of 1968. This crystallized around the break-up of the classic concept of revolution. Not only the PCF, but the French Left as a whole had, until 1968, connected its concept of revolution not only to 1789 but also to 1917, although in different ways and to different extents. Parts of the student movements and the new Left had raised possibilities of radically different concepts of revolution, which did not directly relate to “really existing socialism.” They diverted the crisis of the 1789–1917 concept of revolution away from a questioning of this concept and towards attacks on the agent of revolution, namely the communist party. The 1789–1917 concept of revolution itself only became subject to fundamental questioning from the mid-1970s onwards.149

  • 150 Berstein, “Les forces politiques,” pp. 475–492.

65In the political struggle after May 1968, there was a need for political parties and groups to present themselves with a clear identity and a convincing revolutionary project. The parties on the Left were in a state of crisis in 1969: while the socialist parties SFIO and FGDS collapsed after the May 1968 events, the new and far leftist groups found themselves with a severe identity crisis.150 The PCF was isolated and challenged especially by the PSU, which presented itself as more revolutionary and at the same time more contemporary. In this context, the PCF needed to emphasize its revolutionary character, as this was its central source of legitimation. Moreover, it needed to propose a specific concept of revolution, of which it could claim patronage. Through this specific concept and program it could demonstrate its different identity both with respect to the challengers from the far Left and with respect to reformism. The crux of the criticism addressed by the PSU and the gauchistes to the PCF and the Soviet Union remained the question of their non-revolutionary character. Furthermore, after the May 1968 events and the Czechoslovak crisis, the PCF was determined to develop a fairly classic political alliance with the Socialist Party, in the tradition of the Popular Front strategy.

66All this led the PCF to seek refuge in its traditional concept of revolution. Thus, revolution became once more the dominant source of legitimation for the PCF—albeit a fragile one in the context of new forms of radicalism. The attempts to place revolution at the centre of the PCF’s identity had started (in the late 1950s) with the crisis of anti-imperialism and antifascism. Furthermore, emphasizing its own revolutionary character for the PCF meant taking up the full defense of the revolutionary character of the Soviet Union. In order to avoid complex questions on this issue—which in the PCF had been raised internally in 1956 with the onset of peaceful coexistence and again in 1965 and in 1968—attention was shifted to the 1789–1917 tradition. The identification with 1917 rather than with Soviet politics in the Brezhnev era demonstrates that the PCF itself was no longer convinced of the revolutionary character of the actual Soviet state, or at least not to the extent that it was capable of building a strong argument on it.

  • 151 A similar argument with respect to the PCF return to orthodoxy can be found in Kriegel, “The Frenc (...)
  • 152 This is claimed in Streiff, Kanapa, p. 518.
  • 153 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 90–91.

67The PCF’s new domestic program, adopted at the CC meeting held in Champigny in December 1968, Pour une démocratie avancée, pour une France socialiste, was an attempt to reconcile an increased emphasis on revolution and on the teleology on the one hand, and a resolute choice for integration in the institutional and party system through political alliances on the other. Next to an increased revolutionary discourse, it also featured revived attacks on social democracy and reformism. This was not solely a matter of rhetoric and an attempt to dissimulate a reformist strategy. It was a reconnection to the classic Leninist strategy for communist parties in pluralist environments.151 The French road to socialism featured a number of markedly Leninist elements, including the leading role of the communist party. The principle of the dictatorship of the proletariat was not dropped from the party documents, despite at least Kanapa’s willingness to do so.152 Most significantly, there was a reaffirmation of the existence of general laws on the road to socialism and universally valid characteristics of socialism itself. As, before 1968, the PCF texts had often remained rather vague about this, this was a significant step back into monolithism. However, once more these laws and characteristics were brought into connection with 1917 and in an abstract way, rather than with the actual socialist regimes. Rochet listed these laws in L’Avenir as:153

  • the seizure of political power by the working class in alliance with the peasants
  • the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat—the working class and its allies hold power and extend democracy to all of the people
  • the abolition of capitalist property and the organization of the basic means of production into common property; the gradual transformation of agriculture
  • the construction of a socialist planned economy, with the elevation of the living conditions of the workers and the active participation of large groups into the managing of the economy
  • international solidarity of the working classes
  • the need for a Marxist-Leninist party which would genuinely assume the role of revolutionary vanguard of the working classes
  • 154 For a critical discussion of this concept, see Labica, “Démocratie avancée,” p. 287.

68This program was roughly a continuation of the party’s policies since the mid-1960s, and through which it attempted to become a government candidate. The crux of the strategy remained a political alliance with the Socialist Party, despite the latter’s enduring crisis. The first phase, the establishment of an “advanced democracy,” included reformist action, especially through parliament and the trade union movement, in order to carry out social and economic reforms.154 The second phase was a political one and would lead to the seizure of power by the Left alliance and to the temporary establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat. While the “advanced democracy” concept was very similar to the previous concept of “genuine democracy,” it was meant to stress the further development towards socialism rather than merely the democratization of the existing regime. One innovation concerned pluralism: while the vanguard role of the party was reaffirmed, it was argued that the party needed to “merit” this role among the masses through its actions, rather than that it would come about mechanically. Furthermore, a point was made regarding the existence of non-communist parties of the Left, such as the Socialist Party, on the road to socialism as well as “for a certain period of time” after the seizure of power. An immediate fusion of the parties and groups of the Left was explicitly rejected in order not to antagonize the socialists. These (limited) innovations regarding pluralism were the only direct and tangible influence of the Czechoslovak crisis and the (limited) Prague Spring debate on the PCF’s domestic program.

  • 155 Grémion, “Le rouge et le gris,” pp. 767–780; Lazar, Le communisme, p. 57.

69In the short term, the PCF benefited from this choice to maintain its traditional concept of revolution. Only in the longer term did it come to pay the full price for anachronistically keeping alive this concept in a context of rapid societal change and political restructuring. However anachronistic this concept of revolution, and however alienated from the recent domestic changes, it did provide the party with a response to the criticism of the PCF expressed by the PSU and the radical Left in terms of revolutionary appeal. Moreover, the party benefited from the fact that the image of the Soviet Union among French intellectuals and public opinion generally did not significantly deteriorate before 1975. As argued by Grémion, the Soviet Union in the early 1970s, despite Czechoslovakia, continued to represent a fairly positive example of modernization and progress.155 To the PCF, therefore, there was little interest in weakening its symbolic relation to the Soviet Union. Again, it was easier to convince the French public of the progressive and modernist nature of the historical Soviet Union than of the actual Brezhnev regime.

  • 156 On the PSU after May ’68 see Fisera, “Le PSU face à son histoire,” pp. 211–216.
  • 157 The SFIO had taken the centrist path by proposing G. Defferre (allied with Mendès France), while b (...)

70The party also benefited from the continued chaotic and dispersed situation on the French Left. While the socialist parties SFIO and FGSD had collapsed after the May ’68 events, the PSU, although successfully presenting itself at once as more revolutionary and more modern than the PCF, remained a very small party.156 After the rejection by referendum of the Fauré law for the reform of education and the law on regional reform in late April 1969, de Gaulle stepped back and presidential elections were called. As the election campaign was marked by sharp competition on the Left rather than collaboration, it raised the matter of a clearly defined revolutionary identity to a level of urgency. As no joint Left candidate was proposed, the PCF presented the oldest member of its BP, J. Duclos, thereby once more choosing to refer to its historical traditions. Duclos’s unexpected success—21 per cent in the first round, after the Gaullist candidate Pompidou and the centrist Poher—was due, alongside the appeal of these traditions, to the party’s clear-cut choice to present itself as the crux of a possible future Left alliance. As the centre-left candidate Defferre polled only 5 per cent and the other leftist candidates each less than 4 per cent, the PCF was, despite Czechoslovakia, reaffirmed as the most stable and wellorganized force on the Left.157

  • 158 Berstein, Rioux, The Pompidou Years, p. 13.
  • 159 APCF, BP, 25/9/69.

71The PCF was, at the time of the elections, still engaged in the Marchaisled process of realignment, closely followed in Moscow. Its position in the elections illustrated the extent to which it was being realigned on Soviet positions in terms of strategy, in comparison to 1965. In the second round of the elections, which opposed the Gaullist candidate G. Pompidou to the centrist candidate A. Poher, the PCF called upon its voters to abstain from voting. The fact that it chose not to make Poher win was undoubtedly to do with the priority granted to Soviet foreign policy interests: while Pompidou had announced he would continue de Gaulle’s foreign policy, Poher had a more pro-Atlantic program.158 Moreover, in the first months of Pompidou’s presidency, the PCF undertook a propaganda campaign against the force de frappe and decided to avoid discussing the issue of French neutralism, which was considered “an element of confusion in our struggle for the dissolution of the blocs and the organization of European security.” With both positions, the party was perfectly in line with Moscow.159

72In summary, the question of revolution remained an unresolved problem to the party in two ways. Firstly, it was not clear where the revolutionary dimension was to be found, beyond rhetoric and symbols, in a de facto reformist domestic strategy. An ambivalence similar to the one which characterized the Champigny program was displayed here: while the perspective was a fairly classic alliance with the Socialist Party, the discourse was highly anti-reformist and anti–social democratic. Although in terms of communist doctrine there was, strictly speaking, no contradiction in this, it did make clear that the PCF had not escaped the dilemma of reconciling Leninism with pluralism. Secondly, it had become painfully clear in 1965 and 1968 that it was by no means certain whether this strategy was supported by the Soviet Union and the international movement led by it. Spelling this out, however, would have meant questioning the revolutionary character of these states—unthinkable to the PCF.

Notes

1 An example of the latter case is Kriegel, “The International Role,” p. 49–53.

2 See, for example, Blackmer, “Change and Continuity,” pp. 61–63; and more recently Pons, “L’URSS e il PCI,” pp. 30–31.

3 Gruppi, S., “Cecoslovacchia: Manifestazioni a Praga dopo una vittoria sportiva,” Unità, 31/3/69.

4 S.G., “Documento a Praga del Presidium del Partito comunista: Richiamo ai Cecoslovacchi sulla gravità della situazione,” Unità, 3/4/69.

5 “Comunicato dell’Ufficio politico,” 18/4/69, in APCI, UP, 18/4/69, 2370. The PCI censored itself by referring to the “substitution” of Dubček rather than his ousting, for which it was strongly criticized by the Socialist Party. Declaration by Orlando in APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0684.

6 Most of the reports referred to below were not read or discussed in the Direzione, but only in the Ufficio politico; this went counter to usual party workings and was another sign of the conscious construction of the taboo.

7 “Nota sulle conversazioni a Roma 24–25/1/69 con direttore della rivista Politika di Praga, Alois Svoboda,” Pecorari, 29/1/68, APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0383–0636.

8 “Nota sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia—informazione ricevuta 5/3 da Svoboda—Riservato,” s.n. (but most probably Pecorari), s.d., APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0648–0652.

9 “Nota sulla conversazione avuta il 4 febbraio col cp. J.P. (dopo un viaggio a Praga),” Pecorari, s.d., APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308, 0643–0646.

10 Pelikán furthermore asked the PCI not to set aside the Czechoslovak affair and other controversial problems such as China. “Nota sulla Cecoslovacchia—informazione da J.Pe. dopo conversazione da lui con altri compagni responsabili in Praga,” Pecorari, s.d. (but April), APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0653–0659.

11 “Alcune altre notizie,” in “Incontro tra Bilák e Pajetta, Sandri 29/4/69,” s.n., APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0696–0700.

12 “Info sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia da un membro del Presidium del PCC ad un gruppo ristretto di quadri,” Pecorari, 5/5/69, APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0704–0710.

13 “Riservato: Conversazione con Jaroslav Novak—Accademia delle Scienze, candidato al CC,” Pecorari, Roma, 9/8/69, APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0778.

14 “Strettamente confidenziale—nota informazione sulla situazione in Cecoslovacchia,” Moranino, F., 10/7/69, APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0755.

15 Husák to PCI, 14/5/69 (translation into Italian), APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0715–0718. It is correct that PCI material was being distributed clandestinely, but it is difficult to reconstruct the dimensions of this. See also some indication of this in Jilek, “La Tchécoslovaquie et son Parti communiste face à l’Eurocommunisme,” pp. 71–81.

16 The PCI replied to the letter by sending its last CC resolutions and by proposing a bilateral meeting. Longo (Direzione PCI) to Presidium CPCS, 27/5/69, APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0719.

17 Bilák claimed that there was a consensus among the “orthodox” communist parties to ostracize the PCI for three months at least. Discussion between Bilák and a certain “ZT,” reported by the latter to an anonymous informant of the PCI. It was also reported here that, while Cunhal of the Portuguese CP also demanded an immediate campaign against revisionism in Western communism, Marchais of the PCF abstained from expressing a judgement on the PCI. “Strettamente confidenziale: nota con informazione sul colloquio avuto col cmp. Z.T. a Praga 27/6/69,” APCI, Estero 1969: Cecoslovacchia, 0308–0761.

18 The first, also known as Servire il popolo, was founded in Rome in October 1968. More detail on the far-Left groups in Italy in this period, in: Flores, De Bernardi, Il sessantotto, pp. 227–233.

19 This last one was the analysis by Pajetta, who added that there was a general problem of party loyalty and widespread reluctance to defend the party line against criticisms. APCI, Dir, 30/1/69, 006–1166.

20 Report by Natta on the situation in the party in APCI, Dir, 30/1/69, 006–1158–1160. Also Berlinguer, during his meeting with the Soviets in late January (see below), reported on the problems inside the party: “Incontro PCUS 21 gennaio 69,” s.n. (notes Berlinguer), APCI, Fund Berlinguer, 70.

21 Rossanda was a former partisan; she had been an MP between 1963 and 1968 and was responsible for Cultural Affairs in the CC. For the positions of Rossanda and others of the Left on the 12th Congress, see also Grazia, Da Natta a Natta, pp. 28–31.

22 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00418.

23 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00416.

24 APCI, CC-CCC, 16–18/10/68, 00423.

25 Report (notes) of this meeting by Berlinguer: “Incontro PCUS 21 gennaio 69,” APCI, Fund Berlinguer, 70.

26 Berlinguer’s international experience as leader of the World Federation of Democratic Youth seems to have been determining in his election as successor to Longo, rather than Napolitano who had fulfilled the function of vice-general secretary for three years. According to Fiori, the choice of Berlinguer as vice–general secretary was made at a meeting of the Ufficio politico in December 1968. Longo, who had been ill since October, wished to assure his succession and strongly supported Berlinguer. Fiori, Vita di Berlinguer, pp. 177–179. According to Ingrao, he and Amendola had already agreed in 1966–1967 not to have ambitions regarding the function of general secretary, supporting Berlinguer instead. Ingrao, Le cose impossibili, pp. 167–168.

27 “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” pp. 197–198.

28 “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” pp. 191–192.

29 This has also been noted by Amyot, The Italian Communist Party, p. 179.

30 A similar point is made in Pons, “La politica internazionale.”

31 For example in “Tesi: IV. Le vie e le forme nuove dell’unità del movimento operaio internazionale,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, p. 240.

32 “Tesi: IV,” pp. 241.

33 “Tesi: IV,” p. 238.

34 “Tesi: IV,” p. 239.

35 “Tesi: IV,” p. 239.

36 See also the argument on the disconnection between the positive appreciation of Europe and the negative appreciation of NATO after 1968, in Pons, “La politica internazionale.”

37 Longo, “Il PCI di fronte ai problemi nuovi,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, pp. 168–169.

38 Another example of these attempts to have its internationalism accepted by the WCM was be found in a note which the PCI leadership sent to Moscow on “our European policy,” in which it reaffirmed the continuation of its policy of détente, its positive evaluation of European integration, and its concept of a “widest possible” Europe as a strategy towards the “overcoming of the blocs.” “Nota su nostra politica europeistica,” s.d., s.n., APCI, Estero, URSS, 058–891.

39 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, p. 210.

40 These points were most clearly listed in Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” pp. 215–216.

41 For a similar point in the case of the PCF see Lavau, “L’URSS et eux…,” p. 190.

42 “Tesi: I. La crisi del mondo di oggi,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, p. 226.

43 “Incontro PCUS 21 gennaio 69,” s.n. (notes Berlinguer), APCI, Fund Berlinguer, 70.

44 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” p. 214.

45 Berlinguer, “Costruire una nuova unità internazionalista,” p. 220.

46 Occhetto in particular emphasised this. “XII congresso nazionale. Il dibattito,” in (PCI, ed.) Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, pp. 195–196.

47 The “historical bloc” did constitute changes with respect to the old alliance strategy, for instance in the fact that the former granted more attention to alliances with non-party groups. See Amyot, The Italian Communist Party, p. 178.

48 “Tesi: II. La construzione di un’alternativa al centro-sinistra,” in PCI, ed., Da Gramsci a Berlinguer, pp. 226–237.

49 A similar argument is developed in Graziani, Nei punti alti, p. 44.

50 For this argument on the use of Gramscian ideas in official PCI doctrine in this period, see Flores, Gallerano, Sul PCI, pp. 196–203.

51 As mentioned in chapter 3, the SPD from 1969 onwards abstained from further requesting the assistance of the PCI in its contacts with Eastern Germany.

52 Unità, 12/3/69.

53 APCI, Dir,16/4/69, 006–1413–1415.

54 APCI, Dir, 16/4/69, 006–1409.

55 APCI, Dir, 16/4/69, 006–1417–1418.

56 APCI, Dir, 7–8/5/69, 006–1569–1570.

57 “Si riapre a Mosca il ‘problema Stalin’,” Unità, 16/3/69.

58 The original document is “Progetto documento PCI su questioni internazionali April 1969—Riservata,” Bufalini, Galluzzi, Berlinguer, in, APCI, Fund Berlinguer, 73.3. Also see “Nota su US–Cina—Riservata,” Berlinguer, Galluzzi, Bufalini, in APCI, Dir, 16/4/69, 006–1500–1508. On this copy appear the changes made by Longo. Some of the more substantial changes, were the adding of a phrase on the “rightist danger in Czechoslovakia and the omission of “the use of authoritarian methods” in the socialist countries.

59 Longo made this very clear: APCI, Dir, 7–8/5/69, 006–1531.

60 APCI, Dir, 006–1533.

61 For more on the Hot Autumn generally, see, for example, Ginsborg, Storia d’Italia, pp. 419–435.

62 Amyot, The Italian Communist Party, p. 195.

63 Gozzini, “Il rapporto tra il sindacato e il PCI,” pp. 173–208.

64 This implied that the CGIL, at its national congress in the autumn of 1969, did not adopt the idea of factory councils, (supported by some of its influential sectoral organizations), as these might have dissipated the centralization of the CGIL’s influence over the strike movements. For more on CGIL strategy during the Hot Autumn, see, for example, Bedani, Politics and Ideology, pp. 180–186.

65 A similar interpretation can be found in Flores, Gallerano, Sul PCI, pp. 190–191.

66 The disciplinary measure imposed on them (radiazione) differed from actual exclusion in that it was revocable. The party members in question formally did not lose their membership but were no longer allowed to assume any function in, or in the name of, the party.

67 On the ideas of the Manifesto group and the first issues, see Grazia, Da Natta a Natta, pp. 31–33.

68 “Praga é sola,” Il manifesto, issue 4, August 1969.

69 Moreover, the Manifesto had become very popular on the West European Left, in particular in France and Britain.

70 This is according to Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 214.

71 The interventions of the plenary CC sessions have been published in (PCI, ed.) La questione del Manifesto; Speech by Pajetta: pp. 128–142.

72 It should be noted, however, that Berlinguer was also convinced that the positions of the Manifesto group were “profoundly wrong”: (PCI, ed.) La questione del Manifesto, pp. 347–367.

73 “Il dibattito,” in (PCI, ed.) La questione del Manifesto, p. 192.

74 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 221.

75 La questione del Manifesto, pp. 150–167.

76 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 218. Since the mid-1960s Lombardo Radice had developed his own criticism of the socialist countries, which led him to distance himself from the party line on this in 1971. While in 1967 he had defended the case of East German dissident Havemann, in 1969 he supported the French “revisionists” by writing a review of Garaudy’s Le grand tournant du socialisme for Politique aujourd’hui. At the CC meeting of May 1969, at which the party’s position on the upcoming Moscow Conference was discussed, he strongly argued for a more critical position with respect to the current events in Czechoslovakia and the communist regimes, and was one of the few to problematise the use of the term “normalization.” (“CC—Il dibattitto sulla relazione di Longo,” Unità, 29/5/69). The East German SED exerted pressure on the PCI to undertake action against Lombardo Radice, which had no immediate effect. In the SED dossier against Garaudy, Radice was often noted as part of an “international conspiracy of modern revisionism.” Note by the “Büro Internationale Verbindungen” on the letter to Unità and report on the 1967 meeting: BA, SAPMDB, SED-ZPA, DY 30/IV A2/20 504 and 507.

77 Oral report Cossuta to the Direzione, APCI, Dir, 31/10/68, 1104. However, the Soviets on this occasion had also criticized Amendola.

78 It is difficult to estimate how significant these pressures were, and the PCI archives do not mention them.

79 Caprara, Quando le botteghe erano oscure, p. 218. Caprara and Grazia claim that CC member Donini was planning to publish a philo-Soviet journal with Soviet support. Grazia, Da Natta a Natta, p. 34.

80 See also Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 223.

81 Falsely, it was written that the students had cancelled their planned demonstration because the workers’ organizations had not joined in. Hentgès, P. “Prague: vive émotion après le suicide de Palach,” Humanité, 19/1/69, p. 3.

82 See also Deli, De Budapest, p. 114.

83 “Manifestation dans le centre de Prague—2 morts,” Humanité, 22/8/69, p. 3. Černík’s speech of 25/8, in which he stated that the incidents had been caused by “anti-socialist elements” and visitors from capitalist countries, was reproduced without comment in “Tchécoslovaquie: Une nouvelle situation est crée, déclare Černík,” Humanité, 25/8/69, p. 3.

84 Humanité, 22/8/69, p. 4.

85 For a similar view see Streiff, Kanapa, p. 535.

86 Hengtès, P. “Gustáv Husák,” s.d. (but around 17/4), APCF, “Evénements en Tchécoslovaquie,” box 3 “Tchécoslovaquie 1967–1979, transmis par Plissonnier,” folder 3 “1969.” As before the Prague Spring, Hengtès was now the only permanent PCF reporter in Czechoslovakia.

87 APCF, Sec, 26/8/69.

88 The unusually long report on the situation in Czechoslovakia in the Secretariat decisions of September demonstrates the level of alarm in the PCF leadership. APCF, Sec, 30/9/68.

89 For a similar view see Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 203.

90 For example, Fajon was sent to Prague and met with Bilák in late August to gain information on the situation. APCF, Sec, 26/8/68. Furthermore, in early October Pavel Auersperg, the newly appointed head of the International Department of the CPCS, went to Paris to “inform” the PCF leadership of the situation. Bartošek, Les aveux, p. 195.

91 Denis, J. “Note sur mon voyage en Tchécoslovaquie—Pour le Secrétariat—Mai 1969,” APCF, “Evénements en Tchécolsovaquie,” box 3 “Tchécoslovaquie 1967–1979, transmis par Plissonnier,” folder 3 “1969.”

92 APCF, BP, 30/7/70: “In this communication [from the CPCS] our party is asked to take position in favor of the CPCS, of its positions and of the measures it has taken […]. In response [we should] confirm our position with regard to the military intervention and against certain measures which have followed it, including the recent ones. At the same time [we should] avoid doing anything which leads to a deterioration of relations.” As no agreement could be reached in the BP, the issue was taken before the CC. Marchais expressed disagreement with the exclusion of Dubček on the radio station Europe 1.

93 See especially Streiff, Kanapa, pp. 534–538.

94 This according to the report by Marchais before the CC of May 1970. Streiff, Kanapa, p. 536.

95 There is a note in the Fajon fund at the PCF archives with the title “26/11/69—Fajon délégation à Prague,” with the sole mention “Notes données à Indra.” APCF, Fund Fajon, box 8, folder 1 “Documents du PCF.”

96 Several missions to Prague were carried out to this end; BP member A. Vieuguet, for example, was sent to Prague in March 1969. Streiff, Kanapa, p. 537.

97 For the communication by the BP see Humanité, 18/2/72.

98 Correspondence PCF-CPCS on this, translated from Russian to German: BA, SAPMDB, SED-ZPA, DY 30/IV 2/2.035: 25/7/72 (Marchais to Husák) and 6/10/72 (Husák to Marchais).

99 Bartošek, in his Les Aveux of 1996, argues the case, based on extensive research (although questionable in methodological terms) in the archives of the CPCS, for L’Aveu being a manipulation, written at the request of opponents of the Prague Spring and as an attack against the PCF. He accuses London of dissimulating his own past as an apparatchik of the Comintern and a spy of the CPCS in France. This has caused lively polemics in France, which for lack of space and because the PCF archives contain little new information, shall not be reconstructed here.

100 More on the “Slánský trials,” of which this was one, in chapter four.

101 Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 192–194.

102 APCF, BP, 27/8/70 and 17/9/70.

103 The cases themselves will be dealt with here only briefly, as the available archives do not provide much new evidence and because they have been extensively discussed in the literature.

104 Lavau, “L’URSS et eux…,” p. 199; and Streiff, Kanapa, p. 527. Rochet became ill shortly after the invasion of Czechoslovakia, continued to have serious health problems throughout 1969, and was almost permanently hospitalized from November 1969 onwards. Much uncertainty still exists as to Rochet’s illness. After his death in 1983 the party declared that he had suffered from Parkinson’s disease since 1968 (Humanité, 17/5/83). Rochet underwent an operation in Moscow at the time of the 1969 Conference, against which, according to Daix (Daix, Tout mon temps, p. 441), Aragon and others were seriously opposed. Suspicion has existed since then that his situation was deliberately made worse in Moscow.

105 The clearest indication of this is the above-mentioned “Avant-projet pour un article,” s.n., s.d., APCF, Fund Waldeck Rochet, box 13, folder 1.

106 The disappearance of Rochet can be understood, as P. Robrieux has argued, as part of a longer-term process of “de-Khrushchevization” in the PCF, which started in the early 1960s with the exclusion of Sevrin and also involved the Garaudy case. Robrieux, La secte, pp. 27–28.

107 Brezhnev in particular showed a preference for Marchais, as the latter had supported him in 1964 after Khrushchev’s fall before the PCF’s Bureau politique and the CC (Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 224). Robrieux claims that the Soviets directly interfered to put an end to the “collective leadership” which was installed in ’69–’70 and to “suggest” Marchais to the BP (Robrieux, La secte, pp. 70–72).

108 It is possible that Rochet preferred Kanapa to play a key role at the conference and in international contacts more generally, rather than Marchais. Rochet, ill before the conference started, asked Kanapa and not Marchais to write the speech which he was to deliver. APCF, Fund Waldeck Rochet, box 14, folder 4.

109 Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 239; also Robrieux (La secte, pp. 116–120) suggests this.

110 The initially difficult relationship between Kanapa and Marchais developed in the 1970s into one in which the former had significance influence over the latter in terms of ideology and strategy. See Streiff, Kanapa, p. 531.

111 The new leadership’s ties with Moscow were also secured by the fact that Plissonnier functioned throughout the 1960s to 1980s as an informant to the Soviet KGB. Andrew, Mitrokhin, The Mitrokhin Archive, p. 395.

112 See the discussion of this in Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 128.

113 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 217.

114 A special CC session on the party and intellectuals planned for October was cancelled. Geoffroy, J. “Les compagnons de Jeannette,” Le nouvel observateur, 23/9/68.

115 The Secretariat decided on this, invoking the argument of financial problems. APCF, Sec, 15/10/68. There was also pressure from the central leadership on the journal France nouvelle. APCF, Sec, 30/10/68.

116 Daix, Les hérétiques, pp. 243–244.

117 This happened first in an Humanité article by J. Chambaz, assistant of Leroy, of 11 November. The BP of 19/12/68 considered the journal an attack against the party and decided that its collaborators could no longer assume functions in the party organization. APCF, BP, 19/12/68. One month later, the BP defined the journal as revisionist (“…is based on a revisionist current which has existed for a long time and has become more influential following the intervention in Czechoslovakia…”). APCF, BP, 17/1/68.

118 Initially, two-thirds of the cell members voted in support of Daix; the BP then sent Henri Fiszbin, CC member and secretary of the federation, to “observe” the cell procedures. Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 244.

119 Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 244.

120 For the party’s reaction see L. Methey, “A propos d’une préface,” Humanité, 18/10/68.

121 Partial records of the CC meeting can, be found in Paris–Prague, pp. 131–142, at 135. The disciplinary measure was “blame.”

122 A similar view can be found in Dreyfus, PCF: Crises et dissidences, p. 157.

123 In early 1970 Garaudy published his dossiers of documents, including this article, in connection to the events: Garaudy, Toute la vérité. More detail on the conflict between Garaudy and the central leadership can be found in Dreyfus, PCF: Crises et dissidences, pp. 156–158; Daix, Les hérétiques, pp. 248–256.

124 The letter, “Est-ce de l’anti-Sovietisme?,” 14/9/69, is published in Garaudy, Toute la vérite, pp. 108–113.

125 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 218.

126 APCF, Sec, 23/10/69. The fact that the Secretariat decisions, which usually reported on internal party problems in overly euphemistic terms, in this case mentioned the disagreements demonstrates the dimensions of the crisis in the party.

127 The BP asked the Yugoslavs to distance themselves from Garaudy’s views, and asked the Spanish Communist Party to break off its contacts with him. APCF, BP, 2/4/70 and 10/9/70.

128 Marchais had previously maintained that he had been forced to go to Germany in 1942 and had escaped and returned to France in 1943. In 1977, A. Lecoeur, former BP member expelled in the 1950s, published a document in the rightwing paper Minute which confirmed that Marchais had lied. Furthermore, in 1980 the periodical L’Express published a document which showed that he had stayed in Germany until 1980. More detail can be found in Charpier, Les R.G. et le Parti communiste, pp. 192–198; Daix, Les hérétiques, p. 259.

129 This disciplinary formula implied that Tillon had not obtained reparation regarding his case, but maintained his functions in the party. For the Tillon case of 1952, see Dreyfus, PCF: Crisis et dissidences, pp. 102–109.

130 For more detail see Daix, Les hérétiques, pp. 264–267; Dreyfus, PCF: Crisis et dissidences, pp. 158–159.

131 Report by Gen. Walkowski to H. Axen (head of the “Büro internationale Verbindungen” to the CC) 4/10/66 in BA, SAPMDB, SED-ZPA, DY 30/IV A 2/20

132 Noirot and Tillon were mentioned alongside Garaudy, but less often. The SED was generally very satisfied with the outcome of the 19th Congress, assuming that it would have a “positive” influence over other CPs in Western Europe. “Zur Entwicklung der internationalen Bewegung und anderen anti-imperialistischen Kräfte seit der internationale Barätung der kommunistische und Arbeiterparteien in Moskow, Juni 1969,” s.n., s.d. (but after February 17), BA, SAPMDB, SED-ZK, DY 30/3489, Fiche 2.

133 See Daix, Tout mon temps, pp. 438–443. Diax left the PCF in 1973 following the Solzhenitsyn affair. Aragon’s position constantly shifted between criticism of the party and party loyalty. Grémion, Paris–Prague, p. 191.

134 See the analysis in Grémion, Paris–Prague, pp. 213–217.

135 Streiff has observed a similar shift after 1968 towards a “nostalgic attachment to the historical world communist movement.” Streiff, Kanapa, pp. 542.

136 Waldeck Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 89–90.

137 For example Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 92–94.

138 Verdès-Leroux, Le réveil, p. 219.

139 For example in the document adopted at the CC meeting of December 1968 (see below): Rochet, Pour une démocratie avancée, p. 25.

140 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 145–147.

141 Kanapa developed a somewhat differing concept of WCM unity, which was clearly influenced by the PCI. He argued for a “new form of unity” and emphasized the need for common action and strategy while minimizing the need for common analyses. In a Nouvelle critique article of 1969 he went as far as to claim that a common doctrine was “illusionary.” However, the changes in the party leadership in 1969–1970 prevented such views from becoming influential. See the discussion of this article in Streiff, Kanapa, pp. 519–523.

142 “Rapport sur la situation de politique extérieure,” s.n., s.d., APCF, Fund Rochet, box 14, folder 4. For the discussion of it see APCF, BP, 23/1/69.

143 “Rapport sur la situation de politique extérieure,” s.n., s.d., APCF, Fund Rochet, box 14, folder 4.

144 APCF, BP, 25/9/69.

145 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 150–151.

146 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, p. 139.

147 I agree here with Hincker, Le PCF au carrefour, p. 82.

148 The insistence on sovereignty in PCF texts after 1968 is notable, for example in Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, passim; and Rochet, Pour une démocratie avancée, passim. This is also noted in Tiersky, “Le PCF et la détente,” pp. 218–241 at 220.

149 Khilnani, Arguing Revolution, pp. 127–131. I do not agree with Khilnani’s view that, as a result of the crisis of the concept of revolution, the PCF effaced the value of revolution already in the early 1970s.

150 Berstein, “Les forces politiques,” pp. 475–492.

151 A similar argument with respect to the PCF return to orthodoxy can be found in Kriegel, “The French Communist Party,” pp. 78–79.

152 This is claimed in Streiff, Kanapa, p. 518.

153 Rochet, L’Avenir du Pcf, pp. 90–91.

154 For a critical discussion of this concept, see Labica, “Démocratie avancée,” p. 287.

155 Grémion, “Le rouge et le gris,” pp. 767–780; Lazar, Le communisme, p. 57.

156 On the PSU after May ’68 see Fisera, “Le PSU face à son histoire,” pp. 211–216.

157 The SFIO had taken the centrist path by proposing G. Defferre (allied with Mendès France), while both the PSU and the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire presented their own candidates, M. Rocard and A. Krivine respectively. Pompidou won in the second round of the elections with 57.5 per cent of the vote, against Poher with 42.4 per cent. More detail on the 1969 elections can be found in Berstein, Rioux, The Pompidou Years, pp. 10–16.

158 Berstein, Rioux, The Pompidou Years, p. 13.

159 APCF, BP, 25/9/69.

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