765.003/1–1850: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Embassy in the United Kingdom


213. Urtel 5101 Dee 23.1 Dept has noted with considerable interest comments of British FonOff official re Ital Socialism and reported “row” bet FonOff and Labor Party elements over latter’s apparent interference in that field. Dept desires Emb take opportunity thus offered to explore further attitude of both FonOff and Labor Party towards Ital Socialists, and in so doing Emb may, with ref to pertinent info in recent Rome tels this subject, present following summary of Dept’s views:

Basically we want in every appropriate way to assist democratic forces in Italy in their struggle against the Commies. Strong unified democratic Ital Socialist Party, which can cooperate in Govt with other democratic parties, appears to us necessary to draw and keep Ital working class out of Commie camp. We therefore view with serious misgivings rift bet PSLI2 and PSU3 and reports that Brit Labor Party elements have acted directly and through COMISCO to widen that rift.

As we understand situation in Italy, problems of democratic socialism there spring from interrelated questions of unification all democratic socialists and participation in Govt; essentially, these are manifestations of problem of how socialism can be a party of labor (i.e., of working classes) and party of coalition govt simultaneously. Rift in PSLI has come about through disagreement on question whether working class membership of Socialist Party can best be built up and find expression through participation in Govt with Christian Democrats (in face of accusation this means subservience to “clericalism”) or by absence from Govt in face probability of confusion with and ultimate overwhelming by Communists. Dept has been inclined believe dangers to democratic socialism greater in absence from Govt than in participation.

Contrary to what some Ital socialists seem to think, Dept does not “support” right-wing PSLI and want it in Ital Govt to exclusion [Page 1485] other democratic socialists. It shld be remembered that Saragat was first to have courage to break from Nenni,4 and that until squabble within PSLI culminated in split, that party was only one which cld claim effectively to represent democratic socialism. If the so-called “right-wing” which is all that is left of PSLI loses its following, one reason why we welcome PSLI participation in Govt is removed, although we see no reason why absence of a following shld exclude individual members from the govt if Ital polit leaders want them in. On the other hand, no matter how “representative” PSU may be or become, if it does not have sincerely democratic foundations, we cld only view with misgiving its participation in the Govt. It shld be understood, of course, that these are all questions which the Itals ought to work out for themselves, and which will undoubtedly be considered in Cabinet reshuffle5 expected soon.

Our concern at present Socialist developments in Italy and at reported activity of some elements Brit Labor Party arises from danger that leadership of non-“fusionist” socialists will pass to Romita,6 in whose outlook and integrity we have little confidence, especially considering his vacillation on such a vitally important question as NAT and the circumstances of his purported break with Nenni. Despite tone of Florence conference and seemingly sincere statements by some PSU leaders such as Vigorelli7 we doubt that PSU as now constituted wld be willing or able to resist Communists.

Dept realizes situation remains in flux. Meanwhile, our thinking would be much clarified if we knew (1) what considerations were behind reluctance of Brit Socialists support Saragat (a) in preference to Nenni until eve of Ital elections in 1948 and (b) in preference to Romita in present struggle with PSU; (2) their reactions our views outlined above; (3) what considerations were behind ready recognition of PSU and apparent pressure on Saragat by COMISCO; and (4) whether “row” mentioned by FonOff is over Labor Party running “little FonOff” or over differences in policy regarding Ital Socialism.

  1. Not printed.
  2. The Socialist Party of Italian Workers, the right-wing socialist party led by Giuseppe Saragat, which declared its complete independence from the Communist Party in 1947 and which emphasized the principles of parliamentary democracy.
  3. The Socialist Unitary Party, a party representing a middle position between the Socialist Party of Italian Workers and the left-wing Italian Socialist Party.
  4. Pietro Nenni, Secretary of the Italian Socialist Party, which based its political conduct on close understanding with the Italian Communist Party.
  5. De Gasperi’s new Cabinet was announced on January 31, 1950.
  6. Giuseppe Romità, leader of a faction which split from the Italian Socialist Party in May 1949. The Romità group opposed the Italian Socialist Party’s policy of close understanding with the Italian Communist Party. In December 1949 the Romita group participated in forming the Unitary Socialist Party.
  7. Ezio Vigorelli.