Antonio Gramsci 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci 1922

A crisis within the crisis

Unsigned, L'Ordine Nuovo, 24 February 1922.

Text from Antonio Gramsci "Selections from political writings (1921-1926)", translated and edited by Quintin Hoare (Lawrence and Wishart, London 1978). Transcribed to the www with the kind permission of Quintin Hoare.

No solution was found yesterday either. The crisis is certainly becoming daily more complex. Is any solution possible, given the existing Chamber? To pose the problem in this way means in a sense to shift it. Whatever government emerges from the present crisis, it can only be a transitional one. For a new element has entered the interplay of parliamentary combinations, and until this has been successfully inserted into its natural place, it cannot fail to unbalance things. This element is the socialist group - although the newspaper editorialists do not seem to be paying it much attention in their comments on the evolution of the crisis. The motion put to the vote yesterday in Rome, protesting about the fact that this wretched country is still unable to give itself a government, shows that the parliamentary situation cannot be clarified if the socialist parliamentary group does not take the decision to abandon its habitual methods. The muddying of the parliamentary waters is due to the fact that the parties threshing about in them have not yet succeeded in finding their own equilibrium. Among these parties, the most uncomfortable, we repeat, is the Socialist Party.

Now that it has openly entered the orbit of legality and ceased to call itself a revolutionary party even by simple definition, it cannot fail to reach the ultimate consequences of its new attitude, which began with its abstention in Parliament. The Socialist Party, in other words, must collaborate not just in the corridors of Montecitorio, but in power. This decision can only come to fruition through a series of crises. First of all, the Socialist Party must free itself from the last fetters of apparent intransigence, and must find its ally on the terrain of parliamentary combinations. But the socialist collaboration which was yesterday desired by all, today has greater obstacles to overcome, because of the shift of interests it would bring about. Not that Socialist collaboration is not still desired today; but the results which landowners and industrialists were hoping for from it have now been partially achieved. The treachery of the socialist union leaders, one might say, was a kind of indirect collaboration.

Thus today, the landowners and industrialists no longer even need the assistance of the socialreformists. So their participation in power is less straightforward today. But it is inevitable. The socialists must rise to power. They will do so even with the proletariat's worst enemy, but to power they will rise, because today this is their only wish. Now, until this process of Italian political life has been completed, the situation will remain obscure and complicated for all who seek a solution to it within the limits of Parliament. No government can achieve a stable existence without socialist collaboration. This is why the social-democratic government which is beginning to take shape on the horizon of Italian political life too, far from being the "best government" as the socialists are dishonestly saying, will be the worst that the proletariat could hope for.