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R. Fahan

What Is Happening to the AMG?

(October 1943)

From Labor Action, Vol. 7 No. 40, 4 October 1943, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Winston Churchill has spoken. Marshal Badoglio, he told the House of Commons, will receive the support of the Allied powers in his attempt to create an Italian government and it would be advisable, Churchill threatened, for “liberal and left wing” forces to support the reactionary marshal.

And then Badoglio spoke too. He asked the Italian people to support his regime in the name of ... the the House of Savoy!

The marshal’s speech was made over the Allied radio, so one may be sure that Badoglio’s attempt to palm off King Victor Emanuel on the Italian people must have met with the prior approval of the Allied governments.

What AMG Tried to Do

One does not have to possess an overly active imagination to guess what kind of reception this will elicit from the militant anti-fascist workers of Milan and Turin who at this very moment are continuing their remarkably heroic resistance against the Nazis. For surely – every Asst. Secretary of the State Department must know – when these Italian workers risked their necks in demonstrations and strikes which caused Mussolini to topple, they did not do this to put Badoglio in power.

Yes, indeed, the American and British “statesmen” are brewing themselves a terrific mess in Italy. Apparently they haven’t quite decided which course to follow:

  1. to attempt to govern Italy by the AMG or
  2.  to allow Badoglio to set up a puppet regime.

In either ease, they’re in for a headache.

The AMG has proved itself a thoroughly reactionary outfit, basing itself on the old ruling elements. In Sicily it refused to have anything to do with, the anti-fascists, but instead played ball with the local secondary fascist leaders. It retained the old “collective bargaining” contracts of fascism, the nature of which you can well imagine. It promised free collective bargaining ... “in the future.”

Apparently, however, a section of the Allied leadership has come to the conclusion that the AMG, with its explicit prohibition of political activity in areas it takes over, its ban on strikes, its narrow limitations on civil liberties, its generally reactionary and unattractive character, is too crude and raw to attract any support or enthusiasm among the people whom it rules. The result is that the AMG is being gradually played down.

The AMG, it now appears likely, will step aside in favor of a puppet Badoglio regime. It has been decided that. “Quislings” are preferable, to gauleiters. As a New York Times dispatch of September 22 put it:

“Of course the AMG is already in Italy, but there has been much less said about it than when the organization first moved into Sicily. It would be reasonable to guess that AMG’s’ role in Italy will not expand much, and may not even continue if the Allies can work out a formula revolving around Marshal Badoglio that will meet military needs without stirring up too much political dissatisfaction.”

We here see the beginning of a general political process which will be repeated, in one form or another, in a number of European countries when they are taken over by the Allies. The attempt of the Allied governments to rule Europe with AMG will soon prove a failure, at least in terms of soliciting the necessary support of the people involved; the next step will be to prop up reactionary puppet regimes with Badoglios, Girauds, Mikhailovitchs, etc.

But here enter two factors:

  1. the peoples of the occupied countries have no stomach for these outmoded militarists and will insist on being allowed to decide their own destiny;
  2. the Stalin government, in order to gain a wider sphere of influence in Europe for its own imperialist aims and at the expense of its partner-rivals, will attempt demagogically to utilize the genuine complaints of the European people against AMG and the various “Badoglios” for its own purposes.

The Allies will be in a terrific dilemma. But why speak in the future tense? They already are. As soon as they clear the German troops out of Italy, or most of it, they will face this dilemma: What kind of government for Italy? The pressure of the Italian workers, once again able to raise their voices, and the demagogic proclamations from Russia will make the regime of Badoglio decidedly uncomfortable.

Here is where people like Count Sforza come in. Sforza is the professional capitalist “democrat” who solves problems by letting them go up in clouds of words. He is puppet No. 2. When Badoglio fails, it will be Sforza’s turn, or someone like him. Certainly he, with his democratic words, will elicit a certain response from the Italian people. But, then, this will be no comfort for the Allies either.

The People Will Intervene

For once they might find it necessary to play with fire by actually owing some kind of democratic regime to take power in Italy, the process thus begun, as they know only too well, might not so easily be controlled. From the pliant Sforza, Italy might move to the more independent Salvemini, who has the unfortunate vice of honesty, if nothing else. And from him the Italian people could and might move to a workers’ government, a socialist regime.

Is all this idle speculation? By no means. Secondary only to the gigantic military problems they still face in Europe, the Allied leaders worry about how to control post-war Europe. As the London Tribune writes: “It is no victory for British Tories (and American Tories, either – R.F.) if the defeat of Hitler is purchased at the price of European revolution.”

There is the dilemma; attempt to rule Europe at the point of a bayonet, which cannot long be done; or attempt to set up puppet regimes, which have a habit of succumbing to popular pressure, which then in turn begins to play an increasingly dominant role.

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