The Tailor of Ulm: A History of Communism
Twenty years have passed since the Italian Communists’ last Congress in 1991, in which the death of their party was decreed. It was a deliberate death, accelerated by the desire for a “new beginning.” That new beginning never came, and the world lost an invaluable, complex political, organizational and theoretical heritage.
In this detailed and probing work, Lucio Magri, one of the towering intellectual figures of the Italian Left, assesses the causes for the demise of what was once one of the most powerful and vibrant communist parties of the West. The PCI marked almost a century of Italian history, from its founding in 1921 to the partisan resistance, the turning point of Salerno in 1944 to the de-Stalinization of 1956, the long ’68 to the “historic compromise,” and to the opportunity—missed forever—of democratic transformation.
With rigor and passion, The Tailor of Ulm merges an original and enlightening interpretation of Italian communism with the experience of a militant “heretic” into a riveting read—capable of broadening our insights into contemporary Italy, and the twentieth-century communist experience.
officers. The soviets were not the invention of one party but an organizational form d riven by necessity and anger; they already had the experience of the 1 905 revolution behind them, and it was in the struggle for h ege m ony within the soviets that a clear authority and programme came to be recognized. Although Lenin had already formulated t he theory of uneven development, according to which the system w o u l d break at its weakest links, he long resisted the idea that the r · v ol u ti on
But they were also driven by more radical and ambitious objectives: they wanted the political, economic and military leaders who had supported fascism, and ultimately profited from it, to pay a just price for their actions; they wanted not only the restoration of pre-fascist institu tions but a democracy open to control by the people, with worker participation in factory management. Many of them were also impatient to begin transforming society in a socialist direction. But how and when, and
from Cambo dia and Laos and succeeded in confining the zone liberated by Ho Chi Minh's nationalists to a small area close to the Chinese fron tier. The well-known sequel stretched over nearly thirty years. In Indonesia, British and Dutch forces re-established colonial rule, overthrowing Sukarno's new independent government and provisionally severing the largest and richest islands from the rest. The Iranian government was pressured into ending any Soviet presence in its country, and even to
Paolo Spriano will give some idea of what I mean. In an official speech to a gathering of 500,000 Catholics, the influential Jesuit Padre Lombardi evoked the Resistance as follows: 'Mean while, adventurers had come from evil faraway countries with lists of people to be brutally murdered. Thousands upon thousands of Italians were killed and their corpses torn to pieces. This horrific spectacle was repeated in all the cities of Italy. The murderers, who are still honoured, will one day be struck
manifestations of the cult? But he left the burden of answering this 'to the Soviet leaders, who knew these things better'. On the other hand, he avoided asking himself and his own party why they had not shown moderation or expressed perplexity about the break with Tito, or about the summary trials that followed it in Eastern Europe. 6) The final part of the interview, which deals with relations among Communist parties and the leading role of the Soviet Union after the Twentieth Congress,