In connection with recent events, the Communist Party of Italy has issued a declaration in which it is stated:
The fascist plutocracy, who have for eighteen years throttled Italy, have committed a new crime. They have flung our people into a bloody carnage, their actions being undertaken with all the perfidy and cynicism that are part of them. Like the cowardly and greedy plunderers they are, they waited for a suitable moment to snatch their slice of the booty. They hurled themselves on the French people at the very time when this people, betrayed by their bourgeoisie and brought by the latter to catastrophe, were conducting a desperate fight for their existence as an independent nation.
The fascist rulers, like the German imperialists, have concluded an “armistice” with the French bourgeoisie. This “armistice” fastens a | yoke on the French people many I times more severe than the robber Versailles Treaty. But this armistice is the effort of the French bourgeoisie, terror-stricken of its own people, to secure its safety. The French bourgeoisie tremble at the very idea that the people will call to account the traitors who brought the country to such an awful catastrophe. The armies of occupation in France are there not only to guarantee the conquests of the imperialist victors, but also to defend the regime of exploitation in France, Italy and other capitalist countries. They are there to guarantee to the French ruling classes the possibility of keeping the workers and peasants in chains and of squeezing the last ounce out of the working people of France.
The “armistice” has been concluded. But the war goes on. For the Italian people it is only beginning in earnest. British aircraft and warships are bombarding Italian ports and industrial centers. Workers, old people, women and children are massacred, for the fascist rulers who have drawn Italy into the war did not concern themselves even to construct shelters*for the civil population. The sons of our people are dying in the deserts of Africa, are perishing in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea. The fascist clique are helping German imperialism to establish its hegemony over the capitalist world in the hope that it will strengthen their terror regime. By this means they hope to be able to grow still richer at the cost of the blood of our people, to plunder and enslave a large number of foreign peoples.
It is not the first time that the bourgeoisie has drawn our people into bloody catastrophe. Twenty- five years ago this same bourgeoisie and the fascist chiefs bribed by them involved our people in the World War. At that time they drove the masses into the war on the side of the British and French imperialists, just as they have driven them this time into a war on the side of the German imperialists. Six hundred and eighty thousand killed and two million wounded were sacrificed by the Italian bourgeoisie in the first war. In addition 140,000,000,000 lira were wrung from the sweat and blood of the working people. The people endured the sufferings of famine, while the Italian bourgeoisie enriched itself behind the lines.
When the fascist clique came to power, they promised to do away with corruption, to abolish capitalism, to ensure the well being of the people. But what became of these promises? The fascist clique immediately wiped out all the rights and liberties of the people; they trod the Constitution under foot, and established a regime of terror and murder. They flung the country into new adventures, hurled the people into still greater poverty; then condemned the people to privation, to still more horrible hardships.
The fascist bourgeoisie compelled the Italian soldiers to wage war against the peasants of Libya, who were engaged in defending their land and their hearths and homes. The robber war in Ethiopia, undertaken by the same plutocracy, cost the Italian people tens of thousands of Italian lives. The ruthless “pacification” of the Ethiopian people has already cost the working people of our towns and villages a total of 74,000,000,000 lira. The blood of Italians, basely deceived by the fascist rulers, was shed so as to enable the Spanish reactionaries to enslave their noble people. This blood was shed so as to restore in Spain the power of the capitalists and landlords, to secure mercury, copper, potash and other riches for the Italian capitalists.
The people suffered and shed their blood, while the Mussolini-Ciano dynasty, the Farinaccis and their like after each war acquired new wealth and pocketed new profits. Shady manipulations and corruption spread everywhere to all rungs of the state machine, particularly the top, among the adventurers and parasites who usurped power and are treading the people’s rights and liberties in the dust.
Now the fascist rulers want to sell our people to German imperialism. It is their intention to transform our people into the jailers and executioners of nations who are already groaning under the yoke of their own oppressors and who have never encroached on our lives and property. The fascist rulers assert that the Italian people will only know a better life when they have subjected other peoples.
But the lessons of history should be remembered. What, for example, did the “victory” of 1914-18 bring to the French people? The “victory” did not do away with the hardships of the people, but only intensified the poverty of the masses, while enriching a handful of parasites. The “victory” was followed twenty years later by a still more horrible war of revenge, that has cost the working people of France unparalleled privation and suffering.
The fascist rulers declare that we must win supremacy in the Mediterranean, that we must defeat the British plutocracy, so as to put an end to our poverty and tribulations. What an impudent lie! Our country possesses sufficient natural riches to satisfy the lives of our people. We could exchange our products for the raw materials that we lack, if our enormous riches had not been snatched up by a handful of capitalist vultures. The overthrow of the British plutocracy is the affair of the British people. Our job is to overthrow the Italian fascist plutocracy which like vampires suck the blood of our people.
On behalf of the noble Italian people, who have produced immortal masterpieces and have given to mankind Galileo, Giordano Bruno, Campanella and Garibaldi, we Communists declare that our people have no desire to be either the slaves of their own fascist bourgeoisie, the vassals of foreign imperialism, or the jailers and oppressors of other peoples. They have no wish to enslave the fraternal French people. And we Communists declare that the Italian people do not, and never will, recognize the shameful conditions of the "armistice” imposed on the French people by German and Italian imperialism. Our people condemn the brutal oppression of Indians, Arabs, Negroes and other colonial people by British imperialism, but have no wish to see the British people brought to destruction. We stand for the free- down and independence of all nations and, primarily, for the freedom and independence of the Ethiopian, Libyan and Albanian peoples enslaved by Italian imperialism. The struggle of these peoples for their liberation facilitates our own struggle against our exploiters and oppressors.
The Italian people have nothing to expect from a war of plunder. Such a war can only profit the fascist bourgeoisie; for eighteen years they have shown that they cannot exist without such wars. The Italian people want to live in peace with the French, British, German and other peoples; they want to be the masters of their own destinies and to establish close and trustworthy collaboration with all nations. Our people are vitally interested in the immediate cessation of the bloody slaughter which is engulfing hundreds of thousands of human lives, provoking awful destruction and is inflicting terrible suffering on the working people. The working class is faced today with the imperative task of putting an end to this war of plunder. Faithfully interpreting the feelings and aspirations of the people, the Communist Party calls on the working people to undertake a struggle for the following:
1. For the immediate cessation of military operations on all fronts, and the immediate return of all troops now in the colonies or beyond the bounds of Italy.
2. For a peace without territorial annexation either in France, the Mediterranean Basin, Africa, or in the Balkans, for a peace without spoliation and the enslavement of foreign peoples, for a peace without indemnities.
3. For the independence of the peoples of Ethiopia, Libya and Albania, oppressed by Italian imperialism.
4. For the arrest and trial of profiteers, money-grubbers and plutocrats who are growing rich out of the calamities of the people; for the arrest and trial of the fascist bureaucrats, who oppress and terrorize the working people—of all those who bear the responsibility for the policy of provocation and blackmail that led to the present war.
5. For the confiscation of the wealth fraudulently acquired by the entire fascist potentates, beginning with the Mussolini-Ciano family, Farinacci and other fascist shady dealers.
6. For the liberation of all political prisoners and exiles; for the restoration of the people’s liberties, right of organization and assembly, freedom of the press, and the free election of municipal councils.
7. For the abolition of all restrictions on the sale of agricultural products, restrictions beneficial to the profiteers but detrimental to the peasants.
8. For the abolition of taxes levied on industrial workers, small peasants, office employees and all working people; for the confiscation of war profits; for a levy on capital.
9. For the abolition, in the army, of the privileges of the fascist caste, who as spies and stool-pigeons terrorize the soldiers; for the real disbandment of the fascist militia.
10. For a general wage increase to be effected with the agreement of delegates, freely elected by the working people.
11. For allowances to the families of mobilized men, sufficient to guarantee their existence, and for the release of these families from taxation and the payment of rent; for increased rates of pay for soldiers.
The Communist Party openly declares that only a workers’ and peasants’ government can put an end to capitalist exploitation and imperialist wars, and guarantee the complete emancipation of the Italian working masses. At the same time the Communist Party declares its readiness to collaborate with all parties, organizations and groups that will really fight for the fulfilment of the measures proposed.
There is a force in Italy capable of uniting the Italian people into a single, solid and compact bloc and of leading them in the struggle against the fascist dictatorship, against imperialist war, for freedom. This force is the powerful army of four million industrial workers concentrated in the huge industrial plants of Milan, Turin, Naples, Brescia and other towns; and of the huge mass of agricultural laborers weighed down under the yoke of the big landed proprietors. This force is our heroic workings class. But what the working class lacks is the consciousness of its might, and a solid proletarian organization. Only by uniting its own ranks can the working class rally all the remaining forces of the people, regardless of political and religious convictions, can it rally all the forces of the nation who are opposed to the war and fascist tyranny.
The bourgeoisie in order to wage their war of plunder had to arm the working people. The Communists turn to the workers, peasants, to all working people in uniform, and say to them: Hold on to these arms; don’t put them down until you have driven out the fascist plutocracy, and have brought peace and freedom to the country.
There is only one country in the world where complete freedom for the people already reigns, where the people themselves are the real masters of their fate, where everything, the factories, banks, the land and natural wealth, belongs to the people. This is the U.S.S.R., the great land of socialism. In the land where the loathsome tyranny of the Russian tsars was savagely and arbitrarily used against the people, the workers and peasants are building a new world, a socialist world, one that no longer knows of exploitation and oppression, a world of brotherhood between peoples, who enjoy all the fruits of their peaceful labor. This new world rose up out of the horrors and ruins of the first imperialist World War, when the Russian workers and peasants, led by the Bolshevik Party, overthrew once and for all the power of the capitalists and landlords, and when they took power into their own hands, thereby ushering in a new era in the history of mankind. The Italian Communists will exert all their energies to ensure that the working class and the people of Italy take the only correct path, the Bolshevik path, the path of Lenin- Stalin, the path that leads to the final victory of labor over capital, to the complete liberation of the working people.
Middle of June, 1940.Click here to return to Comintern Index