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Sam Adams

Italian Workers Strike to End War and Oust King

(August 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 33, 16 August 1943, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Italy stands poised on a knife’s edge. It is almost a month since the “Sawdust Caesar” resigned. In this period, Marshal Badoglio was made Premier. The new Italian government was first asked by Roosevelt and Churchill to surrender unconditionally. Then General Eisenhower offered “honorable peace terms” for surrender.

The new government rejected both offers. But it is a most insecure government. At its back stand the armed legions of Hitler. In front of it is a mounting wave of Allied arms which threatens to overrun the entire country. All around it is the rising tide of the working class – the most important element in the whole situation.

The masses have taken to the streets. From the first day of the collapse of the fascist regime they made known their demands: Peace! Freedom! Elections! But the regime of Victor Emanuel and his Marshal cannot satisfy the needs and demands of the Italian Workers and peasants, and surely this ruling clique cannot last.

The latest news from Italy is that the workers have gone out on a general strike! The demands of the general strike are a ringing cry of the workers’ determination to be free. They want:

  1. The immediate liberation of all political prisoners.
  2. The complete liquidation of the monarchy and monarchistic institutions.
  3. Cessation of the war and an appeal to public opinion of the Anglo-Saxon countries for respect of the rights of the Italian people.
  4. Freedom of press and organization.

Gaetano Salvemini, well known anti-fascist, has charged that: “Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt are waging, in Italy, two simultaneous wars. One is aimed at achieving ‘unconditional surrender’; the other is aimed at preventing revolution.”

And this is the fact: The Allies are interested above all in preventing the Italian masses from asserting their wishes and their rights. When Churchill speaks of preventing “anarchy and chaos” in Italy, he means to keep in power the “authority” of the rotten, incompetent and murderous ruling class. He means to prevent the people from taking matters into their own hands. And when Roosevelt endorses Churchill’s remarks it is for the same reason.

“Anarchy and-chaos,” indeed! What kind of a regime was Mussolini’s? And what kind of a regime is that of Badoglio?

Is the murderous regime of fascism an “orderly” regime? And are the.craven, profit-mad Italian big business men the representatives of “order”? They may be to Churchill. But to the Italian masses they represent everything that is rotten, disorderly and chaotic in our civilization.

We must say: Hands off the Italian masses. They will deal with their corrupt-rulers. They want peace and, they alone can achieve it. They want order, but by order they understand freedom – free speech, free press, and the right to organization. That is the only kind of order worth anything. They do not want the order of the police regime of fascism. They do not want order imposed by guns. They want an end to the old life! Nothing must stand in their way.

The American working class must solidarize itself with the Italian masses in their struggle for freedom. Greetings are not enough. Papers are not enough. Money is not enough. American labor must say:

Italian workers and poor peasants: Go to it. Get rid of your exploiters. Destroy the old system of exploitation, poverty, insecurity and murder. Build anew. Build the Workers’ Republic of peace, freedom and security. We are with you with all our hearts.

And it must add to all who stand in the way: Hands off the Italian workers and peasants!

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