Courtesy Reuters

Any appraisal of the Communist parties in Western Europe must begin with a distinction that may appear semantic but really touches on one of the most exposed nerves of this strange movement which claims a unique understanding of history, indeed the capacity to "make" history, and yet which contemporary history has so badly lacerated. Communism is a factor, sometimes serious, sometimes vestigial in Western Europe today; but "Western European Communism" does not exist. There is no historically evolved fraternity of parties accustomed to mutual exchange and fitting their national particularities into a common strategy, based on a joint analysis of the economic and social terrain that has, since the war, become increasingly integrated.

The Communists are a collection of forces, whose estrangement from one another has been concealed by a common ideology. Some parties are but sects under ambitious (and often picturesque) chieftains, as has been the case in Holland,

This article is part of our premium archives.

To continue reading and get full access to our entire archive, you must subscribe.