Palmiro Togliatti: A Biography (Communist Lives)
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Palmiro Togliatti could not have become leader of the Italian Communist Party at a more difficult time in the Party’s history. In 1926, while he was away from Italy representing the Party in Moscow, Mussolini’s Fascist government outlawed the organization and arrested all the other leading Communists, including Antonio Gramsci, and Togliatti became leader--but at the cost of living in exile for nearly twenty years.
Drawing on unprecedented access to private correspondence and newly available archives, this is the first full biography of this important Communist politician and intellectual. Like many successful politicians, Togliatti was a man of contradictions--the dedicated Party man who was also instrumental in creating the constitution of Republican Italy--whose personal charisma and political acumen kept him at the forefront of Italian politics for nearly forty years. Aldo Agosti explores Togliatti’s intellectual development; his achievements and his sometimes criminal mistakes as the leading member of the Comintern; his complex relationship with Moscow; and his lasting impact on Italian politics. The result is a meticulous and fascinating life of one of Western Europe’s most successful Communist leaders, which at the same time casts fresh light on the internal politics of the Comintern.
encounter with the Turinese workers’ movement. GRAMSCI, SALVEMINI, MUSSOLINI Togliatti met Gramsci briefly for the first time towards the end of October 1911 on the day of the competition for the Carlo Alberto bursary; he subsequently met him again in the lecture theatres of the faculties of law and literature. If not real friendship, a habitual dialogue grew between them, rooted in their common provenance and direct knowledge of Sardinia, as well as in their similar condition of economic
was not engaged in debates, conferences and meetings to explain and popularise the function of the councils. 41 Having been hired as a member of the editorial staff of the Piedmontese Avanti!, it can be said that his career as a ‘professional revolutionary’ began here. The first months of 1920 saw him engaged in the internal battle of the socialist party for the election of a new executive committee: together with Gramsci and almost all the working class core-followers of L’Ordine Nuovo, but not
was significantly different from the one that had been elected at the third. There were only two continuities: Togliatti, who remained in the PB and was ‘responsible for the secretariat’, and Grieco. The CC was now constituted principally of workers. There are no records to confirm Giorgio Bocca’s hypothesis based on evidence given by Longo and Santhià, suggesting that the Comintern was ready to approve the removal of Togliatti from the secretariat and his replacement with a ‘diarchy’ represented
Austrian situation apparently vindicated the ECCI’s third period analysis of the relationship between crisis, fascism and proletarian revolution. The February events in France, however, emphatically contradicted the line of ‘class against class’. Firstly, in France, the thrust for a united front had been driven from the base and imposed on both communist and socialist executives. Secondly, the main objective of the mass mobilisation was unmistakably the defence of republican institutions. The
more persistent, tireless, relentless, must be our struggle against them.’ The PCF was warned to beware; amongst its ranks there might be ‘the emergence of an opportunistic current’ in favour of ‘forming a tactical alliance between our party and social democracy’.3 Compared with the PCF and the Comintern, Togliatti’s position was by no means ‘conservative’. In February, Thorez and Dimitrov held very similar public positions. But inside the executive circle, there had been serious clashes for