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Mary Bell

Allied-Bonomi Government in Italy Holds Out
on Democracy, Independence

(July 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 30, 24 July 1944, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Wall Street and The City (London banking center) wish to rule Italy but greatly fear the intervention of the Italian people. The Italian masses overthrew Mussolini and the Allies were quick to hoist into power the Badoglio-Emmanuel regime, one notch to the left of fascism. The people would not stand for this, and the Bonomi regime, a coalition “New Deal” government, came into power.

Even this regime, trying to please the Allies, and at the same time rule Italy independently, does not satisfy the AMG. The main contradiction that besets it is the army. There exists the partisan army, composed of anti-fascist guerrilla fighters, which has been fighting vigorously against the occupying German fascists, sometimes in concert with the American armies, often independently. But it is the practice that after the Allied officers obtain information of military value from the village partisans, and the fascists are driven from the town, the partisans are disarmed and their weapons taken by the Allies. In some cases the Allies have used the stratagem of having the Committee of National Liberation take arms from the partisans. The partisans are consequently disillusioned with the Allies and bitter at the order which robs them of their weapons to fight the fascists.

The Allies, at the same time that they disarm the partisans, are keepings the regular Italian army going. This is the Royal Army, headed by monarchists and conservatives. In it are between four and five hundred ex-Mussolini army generals, of the three thousand Mussolini had. The remainder are in various administrative posts in “liberated” and unliberated Italy.

The chief of staff of the Royal Army is one Marshal Giovanni Messe, beloved of the Allies, unbeloved by even the Bonomi government, which desires to keep in Allied good graces. Messe deserves mention as having fought for fascism on the Russian front and the Tunisian front, where he was captured in a campaign against Americans and British.

The Allied policy of frustrating the ing monarcho-fascist army is diplomatically known as “non-intervention.” What the Italian masses are muttering about and shaking their heads over is the “war against fascism” of these political “non-interventionists” who supported fascists and monarchists in power, uphold the Royal Army, with its fascists in command posts and – disarm the only real and consistent fighters against fascism, the armed people!

As bluntly stated recently by Churchill, the war between fascism and the democratic capitalist powers is not an “ideological” one. That is, it is not a war of the democratic capitalist nations to destroy fascism, but a war of competitors for markets, one of the opponents happening to have a modicum of democracy because it was enriched by the spoils of the First World War. Only such an understanding can explain the problems of Italy and the policy of “expediency,” i.e., collaboration with fascist elements on the part of the Allies, which has characterized the course of the war.

An Italian Comment

An Italian stated the problem thus:

“England and America want Italy to solve her problems in terms of capitalism and not in terms of socialism. But Italy cannot solve her problems, except in socialist terms. Italy has neither the capital nor the capitalists to do it. You can let us rebuild Italy with American and British capital, which means we become a kind of colony. Or yon can let us rebuild it out of our own resources, which inevitably means socialism. And even then we will need help.

“The question is, to whom will the help go, the Italian people or the Italian reactionaries? That is one of the questions the American tax payer is going to have to answer for himself one of these days.”

To us, however, there is no question as to where the help from the Allies will go. It will go where it has gone in the past, to the reactionaries. A people’s government in Italy would mean the end of Allied domination, which is precisely what they don’t want. How the old socialists overlook the problems of Italy is seen in the proposal of Pietro Nenni, editor of Avanti. He would solve the problem of the reactionary Royal Army by having it simply take an oath of loyalty to the nation, as the “republican” government has done. Presto-chango! a fascist becomes a democrat.

The communists would aid the Italian people by conciliating the Pope, who sat in his pontifical silence while fascism grew on his doorstep. The ethical ends of Catholicism and communism are identical, you see.

The Struggle Goes On

But Bonomi, Togliatti, Nenni and the AMG cannot stop the will and resources of the Italian people, who want genuine democracy and independence from foreign domination, German and Allied. The Bonomi government is now faced with the demand of the people for publication of the full armistice terms. They can be published only with Allied permission. Bonomi and the liberals are urging a softening of the peace terms, lest his government also be toppled by the resentful people. A Liberal Party leader stated to the Allies:

“After what our Navy has done, after what our soldiers have done – and it is not a greater effort only because you wouldn’t let us do more – after what the Partisans have done and are doing, if you don’t modify the terms, as you promised you would, then we must ask ourselves what worse could have happened to Italy if she had not surrendered.”

Only unconditional democracy, unconditional independence can meet the problems and desires of the Italian people. And their realization lies, inevitably and fortunately, with the Italian people. The Italian revolution is unreeling. First, Mussolini. Then, Badoglio. Bonomi will go one of these days and, given a leadership to match their courage, the Italian masses will come into their own. The American workers have an important task: stand by the Italian masses, Italian labor!

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