Chapter 11: Democracy in the Industrial Societies Segment 5/7
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5. The Smaller Workshops
In France and Italy, U.S. authorities pursued similar tasks. In both countries, Marshall Plan aid was strictly contingent on exclusion of Communists -- including major elements of the anti-fascist resistance and labor -- from the government; "democracy," in the usual sense. U.S. aid was critically important in early years for suffering people in Europe and was therefore a powerful lever of control, a matter of much significance for U.S. business interests and longer term planning. "If Europe did not receive massive financial assistance and adopt a coherent recovery program, American officials were fearful that the Communist left would triumph, perhaps even through free elections," Melvyn Leffler observes. On the eve of the announcement of the Marshall Plan, Ambassador to France Jefferson Caffery warned Secretary of State Marshall of grim consequences if the Communists won the elections in France: "Soviet penetration of Western Europe, Africa, the Mediterranean, and the Middle East would be greatly facilitated" (May 12, 1947). The dominoes were ready to fall. During May, the U.S. pressured political leaders in France and Italy to form coalition governments excluding the Communists. It was made clear and explicit that aid was contingent on preventing an open political competition, in which left and labor might dominate. Through 1948, Secretary of State Marshall and others publicly emphasized that if Communists were voted into power, U.S. aid would be terminated; no small threat, given the state of Europe at the time.
In France, the postwar destitution was exploited to undermine the French labor movement, along with direct violence. Desperately needed food supplies were withheld to coerce obedience, and gangsters were organized to provide goon squads and strike breakers, a matter that is described with some pride in semi-official U.S. labor histories, which praise the AFL for its achievements in helping to save Europe by splitting and weakening the labor movement (thus frustrating alleged Soviet designs) and safeguarding the flow of arms to Indochina for the French war of reconquest, another prime goal of the U.S. labor bureaucracy.21 The CIA reconstituted the mafia for these purposes, in one of its early operations. The quid pro quo was restoration of the heroin trade. The U.S. government connection to the drug boom continues until today.22
U.S. policies towards Italy basically picked up where they had been broken off by World War II. The United States had supported Mussolini's Fascism from the 1922 takeover through the 1930s. Mussolini's wartime alliance with Hitler terminated these friendly relations, but they were reconstituted as U.S. forces liberated southern Italy in 1943, establishing the rule of Field-Marshall Badoglio and the royal family that had collaborated with the Fascist government. As Allied forces drove towards the north, they dispersed the anti-fascist resistance along with local governing bodies it had formed in its attempt "to create the foundations for a new, democratic, and republican state in the various zones it succeeded in liberating from the Germans" (Gianfranco Pasquino).23 A center-right government was established with neo-fascist participation and the left soon excluded.
Here too, the plan was for the working classes and the poor to bear the burden of reconstruction, with lowered wages and extensive firing. Aid was contingent on removing Communists and left socialists from office, because they defended workers interests and thus posed a barrier to the intended style of recovery, in the view of the State Department. The Communist Party was collaborationist; its position "fundamentally meant the subordination of all reforms to the liberation of Italy and effectively discouraged any attempt in northern areas to introduce irreversible political changes as well as changes in the ownership of the industrial companies,...disavowing and discouraging those workers' groups that wanted to expropriate some factories" (Pasquino). But the Party did try to defend jobs, wages, and living standards for the poor and thus "constituted a political and psychological barrier to a potential European recovery program," historian John Harper comments, reviewing the insistence of Kennan and others that Communists be excluded from government though agreeing that it would be "desirable" to include representatives of what Harper calls "the democratic working class." The recovery, it was understood, was to be at the expense of the working class and the poor.
Because of its responsiveness to the needs of these social sectors, the Communist Party was labelled "extremist" and "undemocratic" by U.S. propaganda, which also skillfully manipulated the alleged Soviet threat. Under U.S. pressure, the Christian Democrats abandoned wartime promises about workplace democracy and the police, sometimes under the control of ex-fascists, were encouraged to suppress labor activities. The Vatican announced that anyone who voted for the Communists in the 1948 election would be denied sacraments, and backed the conservative Christian Democrats under the slogan: "O con Cristo o contro Cristo" ("Either with Christ or against Christ"). A year later, Pope Pius excommunicated all Italian Communists.24
A combination of violence, manipulation of aid and other threats, and a huge propaganda campaign sufficed to determine the outcome of the critical 1948 election, essentially bought by U.S. intervention and pressures.
U.S. policies in preparation for the election were designed so that "even the dumbest wop would sense the drift," as the Italian desk officer at the State Department put it with characteristic ruling class elegance. As 30 years earlier, "the Italians are like children [who] must be led and assisted" (see p. 38). The policies included police violence and threats to withhold food, to bar entry to the U.S. to anyone who voted the wrong way, to deport Italian-Americans who supported the Communists, to bar Italy from Marshall Plan aid, and so on. State Department historian James Miller observes that subsequent economic development was carried out "at the expense of the working class" as the left and the labor movement were "fragmented with U.S. support," and that U.S. efforts undercut a "democratic alternative" to the preferred center-right rule, which proved corrupt and inept. The basic policy premise was that "as a key strategic entity, Italy's fate remained too important for Italians alone to decide" (Harper) -- particularly, the wrong Italians, with their misunderstanding of democracy.
Meanwhile, the U.S. planned military intervention in the event of a legal Communist political victory in 1948, and this was broadly hinted in public propaganda. Kennan secretly suggested that the Communist Party be outlawed to forestall its electoral victory, recognizing that this would probably lead to civil war, U.S. military intervention, and "a military division of Italy." But he was overruled, on the assumption that other means of coercion would suffice. The National Security Council, however, secretly called for military support for underground operations in Italy along with national mobilization in the United States, "in the event the Communists obtain domination of the Italian government by legal means."25 The subversion of effective democracy in Italy was taken very seriously.
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21 See Roy Godson, American Labor and European Politics (Crane, Russak, 1976).
23 See chapter 1, section 4. Pasquino, "The Demise of the First Fascist Regime and Italy's Transition to Democracy: 1943-1948," in Guillermo O'Donnell, Philippe C. Schmitter and Laurence Whitehead, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Prospects for Democracy (Johns Hopkins, 1986). On what follows, see John L. Harper, America and the Reconstruction of Italy, 1945-1948 (Cambridge, 1986); James E. Miller, "Taking Off the Gloves: The United States and the Italian Elections of 1948," Diplomatic History 7.1, Winter, 1983 and his The United States and Italy, 1940-1950 (U. of North Carolina, 1986); Ronald Filippelli, American Labor and Postwar Italy (see chapter 1, section 4).
24 Vatican, Craig Kelly, The Anti-Fascist Resistance and the Shift in Political-Cultural Strategy of the Italian Communist Party 1936-1948, Phd Dissertation, UCLA, 1984, 10.
25 Harper, op. cit.; Kennan to Secretary of State, FRUS 1948, III, 848-9; NSC 1/3, March 8, 1948, FRUS, 1948, III, 775f. KEYWORDS terrorist democracy elections cia mossad bnd nsa covert operation 911 mi6 inside job what really happened wtc pentagon joint chiefs of staff jcs centcom laser hologram usa mi5 undercover agent female sex exploitation perception deception power anarchy green social democratic participation japanese spy black-op false flag gladio terror.Stumble It!