On the Thread of Time – Parliamentarian Farce

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Yesterday

One thing that has always appealed to the general public are the sensational incidents in parliamentary assemblies. The orthodox liberals, on the basis of the English model, a true world record of unsurpassed hypocrisy, took the dignity of the elective chambers very seriously and held infinitely to decorum and demeanor in debates, to chivalrous conduct in the clash between opposing parties, to the cloying and conformist British fair play, an ancient mask of bourgeois politics nourished in the substance of oppression, of prey and pillage.

But at peaceful and civil sessions without screams, interruptions or accidents, the public was getting upset, and the press reports were read by no one. When there was a hint of a clash, people would fight over the tickets, the tribunes would be overflowing, and from one end of the country to the other, the newspapers would be torn apart and sold by auction with different enthusiastic dialects, like this one: “There’s a lot of ruckus in the chamber! …”[1].

At the end of the last century, the bulk of the deputies were still made up of compassed scientists and the representatives of the “advanced parties” appeared as incorrigible rascals capable of any kind of childishness. The good bourgeois trembled before the fits of Cavallotti, Pantano, De Felice and recommended them to Christ or the Quaestor. Enrico Ferri’s achievements, with his knotted tie and leonine mane, had an immense echo among the subversives of the college type. The fiery socialist deputy, having caused by his intemperance his censorship and his expulsion from the chamber, had a historical gesture: he broke the glass of a small window which led to the grey and deaf room of Montecitorio and he shouted inside: “Continue the parliamentary ruckus!” The blessed world of the time was moved by little: by listening to the press of the time, Rome had not trembled so much during Brennus’ vae victis.

The Italian bourgeoisie has burned many stages in its political history and quickly grew weary of imitating the conformist and – literally – periwigged parades of the Communes. Taunted by a purely gestural subversive extremism, it shook itself from its ten-year fears, it freed itself from its democratic scruples, as do the bourgeoisies of all other countries, and it proved that it had gone from words to deeds, from empty gossip to beating with sticks.

While too many socialists distorted Marxism by denying the historical function of violence through this dirty caricature that wanted to give rise to socialism through a pacifist struggle of opinions and electoral votes, the fascists, by singing “beatings, beatings” and openly theorizing bourgeois counter-violence, began the physical hunt against the opposing parliamentarians inside and outside Montecitorio.

This new and modern version of the capitalist political method and anti-socialist practice aroused opposition from the defeated supporters of the democratic method. Not that the latter were more gentle than the fascists with socialism and the proletariat, but they believed that the practice of electoral fraud and deception of legal guarantees was still useful and applicable for a long time. That is why the fascists also attacked them without any consideration in order to get rid of them and assume government and power for themselves.

The main success of fascism was not to have come to power, not to keep it for twenty years and not to break the red organizations that were not able to meet the challenge on this ground, or better to be faithful to the challenge of the struggle in the streets that we had launched at the bourgeois for so many years. This success, which dates to August 1922 and not October, was not the work of these four bastards in black shirts, but of all the forces of the traditional capitalist state, bureaucracy, the judiciary, the police, the army, with the solidarity of the monarchy, the church, the industry, the agrarians, the business and the low and vile servants provided by this despicable middle class who walked for several years with the ribbons of the fascist “revolution” as it now walks with those of the partisan struggle, although they did nothing at all in either of them. The real success of fascism was elsewhere and it still lasts, many years after Piazzale Loreto[2], because of its counter-revolutionary effects. It lies in the historical and political setback of the workers movement to inconsistent and cowardly positions, in the alliance pact which, before the terror of the truncheon and castor oil, brings together the leaders of the proletarian parties and those, now corporals without soldiers, democrats and liberals of all kinds, each as stupid as the others.

Everything was put in the same basket: communism, socialism, anarchism, syndicalism, republic, monarchy, Christianity, Freemasonry, on the basis of a common precondition: to get rid of fascism, which prevented the political struggle from retaking electoral and constitutional forms.

This achieved, one would have pledged for a new legal pact, then each party would have taken up propaganda for its ideals in the new atmosphere of civil and peaceful competition. It is a perspective whose every term should arouse indignation and disgust among Marxists; on the other hand, the fascist perspective contained the bourgeois version of the dialectical affirmation of our vision of history and of the realization of the antagonistic alignment of the social classes on two unitary fronts, an affirmation which is confirmed every day, in spite of the mirage of the collapse of fascism in the defeat of Rome and Berlin, in the complete alignment of the world capitalist forces, although the replica of the proletarian alignment is, because of the plague of the united front, unfortunately absent.

Today

The great pact was sworn: They were seen in Salerno convened solely by the sea. Mussolini’s overthrow was not the result of the united front, of the bundle of rods used during the first philistine apologue against the class struggle, which Mussolini rightly took as his symbol. It was the airplanes and fleets from overseas, the swarms of vehicles and guns, the tins and candies with which they took us by the neck, the throat and the rest.

With the fascists out of the way through various measures, from the most drastic to the most stupid, it seemed certain that the return to parliamentary and peaceful civilian means would not run any other risk. Promises, compliments and smiles circulated among the six, among the three, among the thirty-five parties from the common strain of freedom. The only troublemaker having been loretized[3], it was certain that, for the happiness of Italy, one would no longer speak not only of beatings and blows but also of insults, rudeness and bad words. The masterpiece of the constitutional charter, sacred to all, codified this idyll. After the newsstand in Milan and the gallows in Germany and Japan, it seemed that this important practice had been ensured for at least a generation among the associates of the anti-fascist hodgepodge, on the tomb of the ferocious dragon of the dictatorship.

We are not referring here to the question of content but to that of method, to follow in a polemical way all those who made the method and political practice, on the basis of the democratic panacea, a preliminary ruling to the substantial differences of interests and forces.

We can laugh heartily when we see that the big hypocritical objective of the big anti-dictatorial block is sinking into ridicule and that, in the assembly of recovered and resurrected democracy, obscenities, insults, heckling, tumult and finally a highly entertaining brawl are raging between honourable deputies.

Our criticism has long since unmasked and dishonored the parliamentary machine, and in good faith or in the pursuit of it our contempt has been declared to it for at least ten decades now, at least.

We did not feel an ounce of compassion when the Duce threatened it with the bivouac of maniples[4], although we were seriously concerned about the danger of nostalgia that the ingenuous, generous working class would have for the resumption of the ludi cartacei[5]. We are pleased now that the anti-fascists, who are now masters, end up dishonouring the parliament and writing its most shameful pages in the morbid interest of the snobs in the tribunes.

If the Italian public was diseducated, according to the commonplace, by Mussolini, that was a piece of cake compared to today.

These days, for a reader who has swallowed the clauses of the much-discussed Atlantic Pact, there are a thousand who have tasted with an almost erotic voluptuousness the narration of Pajetta’s jumps[6] and Tomba’s punches, made the same day by the hundreds of newspapers too many that the peninsula possesses.

Legality, civility and freedom, shout the two opposite gangs of gigolos of the ballot, then they move to slaps on the face today, to the rest tomorrow.

Neutrality, peace and collaboration between capital and socialism cry out the two parties of the international front, and behind it, they both forge terrible weapons as they can.

We are sure that the party of the working class will be rebuilt, disdaining to hide its aims in theory as well as in action, and will provoke in the open fight the sinister forces of the world capital, giving those false cries the revolutionary answer: violence, dictatorship, social war.

Source: “Battaglia Comunista”, N. 12, March 23. – 30., 1949.

[1] Translated analogously from Neapolitan dialect in the original: “è mazzate da’ Cammera”.

[2] Piazza Loreto is the square in Milan where the bodies of Mussolini and other fascists were exposed to the crowd. It is the symbol of the end of fascism (the ICP notes that in reality fascism has won, even if the fascists lost).

[3] Again a reference to Piazza Loreto.

[4] The fascist threat to bivouac the fascist maniples, the black shirts in parliament.

[5] Literally: “Paper games”. A term coined by Mussolini seven years after the “March on Rome” to designate all electoral procedures of democracy.

[6] Pajetta was a leader of the PCI, he was known for his outbursts, especially against representatives of the Italian Social Movement (MSI), after World War II.

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