The Campaigner

The Campaigner


until further talks on August 30 before moving toward a compassionate utterings about the grandeur of the

lockout, the Milanese Alfa Romeo plants shut their gates workers who were "organizing production" by

that very day. Buozzi had no choice but to order the themselves. Bordiga, in Russia at the time, abstained

immediate occupation of 300 Milanese plants and the from action on the entire affair, true to form. The actual

industrialists deliberated nationally to proceed with leadership of the PSI sat down with union officials in

lockouts in all federated plants. Each lockout, lengthy sessions to formulate an honorable means by

nationwide, was promptly followed by the workers' which to extricate itself from the messy process in which

occupying the plants. The FIOM, in spite of itself, had it had found itself willy-nilly entangled. One thing they

fulfilled the threat with action. Hundreds of thousands all tacitly agreed on was that the revolution would have

of workers were soon tightly locked up in their factories, to wait until some later date.

hanging on to their jobs by force, hoping that this form The so-called "General Staff" meetings that took

of struggle would save them a costly strike and get the place from September 4 to 12 were the occasions on

same results, which PSI, CGL and FIOM leaders talked themselves

Within days all plants employing metalworkers in and each other out of revolution. Initially the PSI leaders

Italy were occupied, with very few exceptions. Over presented a courageous-sounding motion giving them

500,000 workers were involved, with the participation of full direction of the revolutionary movement. This

railroad workers and workers in other industries. The frightened the CGL contingent, whose leading members

mass strike process was catapulting workers out of the were all the while trafficking with local government and

grasp of the FIOM; Buozzi, thoroughly panicked, industry representatives. Both party and union forces

quickly lowered wage raise demands, only to discover then regrouped in separate sessions to calm their nerves

that the industrialists too had stepped out of the realm of before reconvening.

normal day-to-day bargaining processes and were Left in private, the CGL decided that any talk of

determined to stand firm. The PSI was also acutely revolution should be dismissed in pursuit of healthy

embarrassed; fearing rightly that the movement might economic demands, and deliberated a net refusal of the

extend to other working class layers, such as peasants PSI's express desire to lead. Instead the CGL would

and soldiers anxious to occupy lands in the south, the propose to lead the struggle itself, posing workers'

leadership issued only demagogic calls to these layers for control in the factories as the final goal.

solidarity with the industrial workers. The PSI, along When the two camps met again, the PSI made a bit of

with representatives of the CGL leadership and the an about-face, moving that the union forces should

provincial and regional union coordinating accept responsibility for the revolutionary PSI proposal.

organizations, the Central Labor Councils, set up the The CGL declined. Part of the PSI protested strongly

"General Staff" in permanent sessions in Milan to sort and a final motion was drawn up to oppose the CGL

out the entire affair, workers' bid; it appealed to the National Council of the

CGL to entrust the PSI leadership with the task of

Meanwhile in the factories the workers, who had leading the revolution! The motions were voted on and

nowhere to go, channelled their energies into work. the union proposal won hands down. The revolution in

Production continued, though at a slower pace due to the Italy was thus voted down by the General Staff.[15]

absence of white-collar personnel, technicians, etc., all

under the disciplined direction of the Factory Councils. Giolitti followed the development from afar, insisting

Railroad workers guaranteed the necessary inflow of raw on keeping an appointment with Millerand for

materials to the factories. Those workers in arms September 12, as a way of demonstrating his apparent

factories who could produce and collect arms did so, calm. He ordered his Undersecretary of the Interior

while the Royal Guards began to gather in key areas of Corradini to gather information on the union's workers'

the cities awaiting government orders, control proposal to see if it would suit the needs of

The working class was divided up into myriad of tiny industry. Corradini, through correspondence with archparts;

workers locked up in single factories labored on; traitor Turati, was assured that the plan was perfectly

peasants occupied some lands and public buildings coherent with capitalist co-participation plans for

under the guidance of the Catholic Partito Popolare increased productivity.[16] Giolitti therefore moved to

Italiano (PPI); soldiers were lined up ready to attack and convince recalcitrant industrialists to accept the idea

landless veterans (ex-peasants), along with thousands of and, within a few days of joint talks, brought labor and

other unemployed, looked on in despair, industry to an agreement: the factories would be

No one on the left knew quite what to do. In his evacuated, the workers would get a four-lire raise

infrequent appearances, Gramsci could only emit (Buozzi had originally asked for seven) and be paid for

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