Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy

By Gino Bedani | Go to book overview

2
The Cgil Unitaria: A Highly Centralised
Structure

Analyses of this early period of reconstruction have focused on what has been described as a certain verticismo in decision-making. The leaders of political parties took it upon themselves to make far-reaching decisions on matters of policy and organization without recourse to widespread consultation. It would be an error of historical judgement, however, to read such tendencies in an entirely negative light. Initiatives were taken in a situation of great urgency, while the country was in the throes of a struggle for liberation, and communications between North and South were intermittent and uncertain. The reconstruction taking place in the workers' movement was just as much a part of the turmoil as was the recreation of political parties. An important feature of this process, particularly strong among the communists but by no means absent on the Catholic side, was the aim to achieve a position of comparative organizational consolidation by the time of liberation. The determination on the part of a wide spectrum of Italian anti-fascists not to leave the future political destiny of the country in the hands of the liberating allies was very strong. 1 In order to secure indigenous control it was essential, by the end of Nazi occupation, to have functioning organizations in place.

The depth of conviction felt within the world of organized labour that it should become an essential component of the new democratic republic is reflected in the first article of the Italian Constitution: ' Italy is a democratic republic based on work.' But in the early days of reconstruction the world of labour was just as subject to the pressures of improvisation as were other aspects of the resurgent democracy. Leaders of the hastily regenerated camere del lavoro were being inundated with requests for membership. Luciano Lama, many years later to become General Secretary of the

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1
Togliatti was convinced, for example, that Churchill was determined to minimise as much as possible the partisan role in liberating the country.

-25-

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Politics and Ideology in the Italian Workers' Movement: Union Development and the Changing Role of the Catholic and Communist Subcultures in Postwar Italy
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