TOGLIATTI'S LATEST SCHEME FAILS
From Our Rome Correspondent
HAVING lost all hope of winning a sufficient number of Catholic votes to permit the eventual formation of a Communist government, Palmiro Togliatti, the Italian Communist leader, has changed his tactics.
The new move was to invite Catholics to collaborate with the Communist forces in order to preserve world peace and especially to outlaw the use of the atomic bomb. In substance this is but a new edition of the former scheme of "Peace Partisans" and his objective is to neutralise Catholic opposition as far as possible with a show of friendship This effort is destined to share the fate of all the previous Communist schemes, and the answer of Catholics in general and of Catholic Action in particular, supported by the now famous "Civic Committees," was well expressed in a recent article of the Osservatore Romano entitled "Cali again, Palmiro !"
Togliatti. without any doubt, is the most intelligent and capable Communist leader in the free world Although Moscow-trained, he also knows his own people intimately and realises that the deep and traditional Christian faith of the Italian people represents a solid bulwark against Communist domination in Italy. He realises that if the true face of Communism were revealed and correctly understood, there would he no possibility of ever realising his dream of a Communist Italy. Therefore his only hope of succeeding is in deception. and this he uses to the utmost, exploiting ignorance to the full.
In the early post-war years one saw in Italy many sections of what was termed a "Catholic Communist Party," but it was very short-lived. Then came the period of "national coalition," but this too failed in Italy to achieve what it had achieved in other countries of Europe with the assistance of the Russian armed forces.
The next move was strenuous propaganda in an effort to convince the public that it is possible for a Catholic to be also a staunch Communist, but this received its deathblow with the well-known declarations of the Holy Office on the subject.
Already official Communist circles have understood that the latest idea of their brilliant -leader has also failed in its objective, for they complain of the manner in which the proffered friendship has not only been refused but also ridiculed by the Catholic organisations. Togliatti himself, in an article published recently in the Vie Nuove, expresses regret at the Catholic refusal to unite forces with the Communists to "safeguard common interests" and solve outstanding problems, and he weeps crocodile teats, prophesying that this refusal will result in "the Catholic world seeing its unity rent." Most objective Italian and foreign observers in Italy agree that in the north of the country, where the Communist Party had its strongest support, Communism has passed its zenith and is definitely on the decline. A general strike call issued by the Communist-controlled General Federation of Labour no longer succeeds in paralysing the life of the country, and the "free" trade unions continue to register a steady increase in membership.
No one is more convinced of this than Palmiro Togliatti, and Cornmunist Party leaders also openly confess that they have failed to attract the support of the rising generation. The heavy burden of unemployment, however, still provides Communist agitators with opportunity to find support for the party, and many leading authorities on social questions, including the zealous and dynamic Mayor of Florence, Professor George La Pira. believe that if this problem were solved Communism in Italy would also have received its final answer.
In the hope of making good the losses in Northern Italy, the Italian Communist Party this year began a very strenuous propaganda campaign in the depressed areas of Southern Italy. New Communist cells have in fact appeared in some districts that have previously been immune, hut on the whole progress has been slight, and in fact many centres once considered solid Communist strongholds have recently passed into non-Cornmunist hands, such as Castellammare di Stabia, south of Naples. In a word, the progress made in the south of the country does not compensate for the continued losses elsewhere.