Antonio Gramsci 1891-1937

Antonio Gramsci 1924

Gramsci to Togliatti Scoccimarro, etc.

(Vienna, 5 April 1924)

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.

Dearest Friends.

I have received comrade Silvia's letter, but I must confess it has greatly embarrassed me. The situation is still totally confused, and I am unable to understand exactly what you all want me to do. What is the agenda for the CC meeting? To what specific issue, or item of discussion, should the resolution I am to write refer? I thought of writing an open letter to the CC to make a personal statement, but I abandoned the idea, fearing that I might in some way become separated from you and thus allow the resulting situation to be exploited. The article I wrote in the second number of ON can be taken as my statement to the meeting and as an indication of my position. 138 Please make a statement in my name to this effect, if it is necessary.

There is still too little coordination in our work. To tell the truth, I still do not know exactly what you concretely want. Do you accept all my proposals en bloc? But may there not still be disagreement on some detail, which could nevertheless be crucially important? How can I draw up a resolution under these circumstances? I think you know my point of view fairly fully, but I only know yours very imperfectly. If anybody can draw up a resolution, given that we want to produce something global and organic, then it is among you who can discuss and reach an understanding that this somebody exists. In general, if the meeting is going to discuss tactical questions and the orientation of the party, as you indicate is the case, I think it is necessary to take up a position, decisively and without hesitating: the one I have indicated, if you accept it in toto. In that case I think that a short resolution is enough., at the end of a speech by Palmi, for instance, outlining our attitude from the Rome Congress up till today.

At Rome, we accepted Amadeo's theses because they were presented as an opinion for the Fourth Congress and not as a line of action. We thought we would thus keep the party united around its basic nucleus, and considered that this concession could be made to Amadeo, given the very great role he had had in organizing the party We do not regret this. Politically, it would have been impossible to lead the party without the active participation of Amadeo and his group in work at the centre. Events which have occurred since have modified the situation. We face a new upsurge, which is reflected in Italy as well. At that time, we withdrew and had to do so in such a way that the retreat took place in good order, without new crises or new threats of splits within our movement, without ever adding new disintegrative ferments to those which defeat itself was producing in the revolutionary movement. Today, it is necessary to lay the foundations of a great mass party, and to clarify fully our own theoretical and practical positions. We have found ourselves in partial disagreement with the Comintern, not so much in our assessment of the general Italian situation, as in our evaluation of the repercussions which the measures proposed would have inside our party, whose weakness and constitutive fragility we knew. We have been somewhat sectarian, as occurs when the movement ebbs, partly as a reaction against the excessive optimism of the preceding period. On questions of principle, we have always been in agreement with the Comintern. But our attitude has had repercussions which have made us reflect. At the same time, we see that a clarification has occurred within the minority, and this has helped to orient us. Two tendencies have now emerged within the minority, one of which has shown its true liquidatory charactor, foreseen by us and which had frightened us. With this wing, we could never have anything in common; we will fight against it. The other part, represented by comrade Tasca, has changed its nature and in practice accepted many of our positions. With it, or with the policy which it claims to represent, it is possible to work fruitfully. With the left, many discussions will still be needed to see exactly where the difference lies. But we must censure Amadeo's attitude, which has damaged the party.

We differ from the left on certain organizational principles, and it will be necessary to explore these to see how far they go. The attitude taken up by Amadeo implies denying the world party in practice, i.e. in the only way in which it could be concretized in the present situation. 140 In the national sphere, the party's development is hampered and it tends towards political passivity. But we continue to believe that Amadeo's collaboration in the work of the party is necessary. We believe that a man like him cannot become a simple militant, a rank-and-file member. 141 In practice, that would mean a perpetual state of unease among the party's membership; the perpetual existence of a nonorganized faction. For at every moment, before every difficulty, each member of the party would wonder: "What does Amadeo think? If he was there, things would perhaps go better." The assertion that a leader can remain in the ranks like an ordinary member is false both theoretically and in practice. If Amadeo insists on this, we can do nothing to help him, but must envisage the need to struggle against him to prevent a wasting sickness in the party.

It will be necessary to be clear on these points and extremely open. Only in that way will it be possible to extricate the party from the toils in which it is caught and give it an orientation. If you agree, you can say that my article in ON roughly represents our orientation, and that our subsequent statements will develop points touched upon in the article: 1. our desire to put an end to the crisis and liquidate factionalism; 2. our intention of working in practical agreement with the International Executive Committee, whose deliberations we accept en bloc (i.e. not excluding that they could be improved in part); 3. our campaign to make the party capable of confronting the grave tasks which await it. If you are in agreement, you can yourselves draw up a short resolution based on these elements, putting my signature on it too and saying that it completely represents my point of view as I well.

Warm greetings,

I have received Negri's letter, which persuades me even more that there is insufficient coordination between you. His comments should, I think, be taken into consideration, at least so far as our group and its organization is concerned, because a lot of time has now been lost. With respect to the minority, I do not agree with him. I think it is absolutely indispensable, vital, to try to detach Tasca from the minority, at the price of any formal concessions whatsoever. You do not trust Tasca's words: yet another reason to detach him from the others. 142 Greetings.