The Cooperative agriculture schemes in the Ferrara province of Italy may prove to be the immediate and long-term answer to Communist efforts in the rural areas.
A.C.L.I., the Italian version of the British Association of Catholic Trade Unionists, is vigorously pushing ahead with its experiment, and has purchased and rented land in several of the reddest communes in the Emilia Plain.
Here Christian workers, on the basis of sharing eighty per cent. of the produce of the land (the other twenty per cent. reverts to the organisation for the acquisition of fresh land and insurance against losses), have begun a positive alternative to Communist manoeuvres which is extremely well backed with enthusiasm and finance.
In one sense the very violence of the Communist reaction — already foreseen and to some extent provided for by the A.C.L.I. directors in Bologna, among them one of the abler and younger Christian Democrat deputies, Bersani —augurs well for the future of the experiment, in as much as it confirms its importance as the most immediately dangerous opposition to Communism in this most Communist region of Italy.
Whether A.C.L.I. or mob violence wins the present agricultural struggle in Emilia will be an accurate pointer to the staying power of Italy's present democracy.