One of the more surprising things about the meeting of the "Eurocommunists" in Madrid last March was that they came away calling themselves Eurocommunists. The quotation marks came off in Spain, and the French, Italian and Spanish Communist Parties now willingly talk of Eurocommunism. Spanish Party leader Santiago Carrillo has even published a book bearing the title. The main reason for the change, as French Party leader Georges Marchais explained in Madrid, was the discovery that to be known as Eurocommunists was somehow helping. "I was struck," said Marchais, "by the headline in a reactionary French newspaper yesterday that said, 'Eurocommunism is a farce.' I say no, it is not a farce. It is something serious."

But how serious? That is the question. Portugal's Socialist Premier Mario Soares called the Madrid meeting, "one of the most important of the postwar period - it could have profound effects on world communism." France's President Giscard d'Estaing, however, still speaks of French Communism's "historic decline." Yet all of Europe's leaders are at least covering their bets. Giscard d'Estaing has already begun private contacts with the Left, just in case it wins the parliamentary elections scheduled for 1978. West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, who not so long ago was warning the Italians about the dangers of the "historic compromise," had a much-remarked private chat with Italian Communist Party leader Enrico Berlinguer during the recent summit meeting of the European Community in Rome. Norway's ruling Labor Party recently adopted a policy paper urging that Latin Europe's Left be brought into the power structure in some way. Even the United States is finally making official contacts with Communists in France and Italy (though carefully avoiding the Spanish Party until after the elections) - something which both the French and Italian governments have protested.

The Declaration of Madrid stated what Eurocommunism was, and by implication, what it was not. Communism in Western Europe, it said, will respect traditional Western human rights, including universal suffrage, political plurality and individual freedoms. The Declaration reads a bit too much like the U.S. Bill of Rights, which was one of the reasons it was given very little coverage in Eastern Europe. Only Neues Deutschland in East Germany printed it in full. Soon after Madrid, Vasil Bilak, the pro-Soviet Czechoslovak party member, reportedly labeled the Eurocommunists "traitors" at a Central Committee meeting, something which caused M. Marchais to respond: "If these remarks are correct, you can be sure we will react vigorously." Privately, a leading French Party member remarked, "It wouldn't surprise me at all. Our relations with Prague are not good."

The Madrid meeting was held ostensibly to mark the support of Western Europe's two largest parties for the Spanish Party, emerging into legality after 40 years of clandestinity and exile. But there was little doubt that the meeting had wider significance. Here was an attempt by three parties with a history of estrangement to proclaim their convergence. But in converging, they also were diverging from something, and the game in Madrid was how to formulate this. Madrid was the symbol of Western Europe's divergence from Eastern Europe, but it had to be marked in such a way as not to burn any bridges. "We did not go to Madrid to provoke anybody," said an Italian Politburo member. Eurocommunism had to be defined forcefully enough so that anti-communists could not dismiss it as merely tactical, but not enough so that Madrid became the symbol of a "third schism" or, to use M. Marchais's phrase, "a new international center."


Only two years earlier, such a summit meeting would have been unthinkable, and not just in Franco's Madrid. Though the West European communist parties had been meeting sporadically since a first meeting in Brussels in 1974, contacts between the French and Italian Parties were few, and each Party's view of the other was stereotyped. The French were "Stalinists" and the Italians were "opportunists," and both freely employed such words in front of non-communists. Meanwhile, the Spanish Party-in-exile, in the avuncular personage of Señor Carrillo, could be found on the fifth floor of a modest office near the Paris Bourse, where the Spanish Secretary-General freely expressed his "astonishment" over the French Party's continued hard line. Carrillo's feelings toward the Italian Party were warmer, and it was well known that the Spanish exile operations were financed in large part not by the Soviets or the French, but by the Italian and Romanian Parties.

What happened between the spring of 1975 and that of 1977? The answer is complex but, to begin with, a few general remarks can be made. From April 1974 onward, the eyes of Europe were riveted toward Portugal and the unraveling of fascism. Washington was no less fascinated, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger spoke of the "vaccination" theory, which held that a left-wing takeover in Portugal could at least have the positive effect of weakening the communists in the more important nations of Latin Europe.

Certainly Carrillo and Berlinguer sensed the danger. Berlinguer warned the Portuguese Party during the March 1975 Italian Party Congress that their methods were dangerous. Carrillo said in two separate private conversations in Paris that Cunhal had gone too far, and that his failure (or success) could have disastrous consequences for Spain. "Cunhal is a man of the past. He has been in jail too long," said Carrillo. Enlightenment for the French Party was still some six months away.

Portugal was not the only force that would lead to the policy enunciated in Madrid three years later. In Italy, Berlinguer, lying in bed recuperating from a near-fatal automobile accident in Bulgaria, had used his convalescence to "read and reflect," as he put it, mostly on the fall of Allende. When he was well again, in early 1974, he proposed to his party the "historic compromise" with the Christian Democrats, an updated version of Gramsci's "historic bloc" and Togliatti's "anti-fascist bloc." Socialism could not be built in Italy, reasoned Berlinguer, with only 51 percent of the vote. As Berlinguer was later to discover, the most difficult part of his program to sell to his party was the single word - "compromise."

In France, too, there were developments. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing had been elected President in March 1974, by only 1.4 percent of the vote over the Communist-backed candidate, Socialist Francois Mitterrand. The Socialist-Communist Common Program of Government, written in 1972, had stood up well to the test. During the election, Soviet Ambassador Stepan Tchervonenko made a well-publicized call on candidate Giscard to offer Soviet support against Mitterrand. The French Communist Party (PCF) has never forgiven that; to this day Marchais has refused to see Tchervonenko, who has the additional misfortune, in French eyes, to have been the Soviet Ambassador to Prague in 1968.

In Spain, the actors were still offstage, but they were rehearsing. The most remarkable thing about this period - from autumn 1973 until autumn 1975 - was a certain simultaneity of independent events in four different countries. Fascism was ending in Iberia after decades of rule, Berlinguer was evolving as a result of Allende's fate, Marchais was brooding over the "treason" of the Soviets, the party the French had served so loyally for so many years.

Europe is the least isolated of the continents, and this same period saw the beginning of the world economic crisis. The Italian Party, and a bit later the French, knew this was an opportunity not to be missed. Whether or not it was the beginning of capitalism's death rattle, it was at least the end of the boom that for years had helped keep the conservatives in power in Latin Europe. Thus, the economic crisis, coupled with the wave of scandals that began to link international business - usually American - with foreign officials, reinforced the communists' belief that their time had come. They were the party with clean hands.

Nor can events within the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe be ignored. As the memory of Vietnam faded, as truce came to the Middle East, liberals in Europe were in search of new targets. Chile's Pinochet was obvious, but what was he doing that was not being done in the Soviet Union? Neither the French, Italian nor Spanish Parties could allow themselves to be outdistanced by their Socialist rivals, who never failed to link Santiago and Prague. Moscow was used to the criticism of Berlinguer, not so different from that of Togliatti, but for the French to carry the ball was something quite new. By the time of the French Party's 22nd Party Congress in early 1976, there was a clear anti-Soviet tone to the PCF declarations. It was strident enough so that Andrei Kirilenko, the Soviet Politburo member sent as official delegate to the French Congress, felt obliged to make a speech denouncing "anti-Sovietism" wherever it was found. He had found it in Paris.

But nothing was more important for Eurocommunism than détente. Communism did not thrive in France and Italy, to say nothing of Spain, during the cold war, and a return to such conditions would only isolate the communists again. French Communism has still not totally recovered from Prague 1968, an event that crushed the health of then Party leader Waldeck Rochet, who had begun the first, tentative steps toward leading the PCF away from its hard-line posture of the Thorez years.

The mood of détente, and particularly of the Helsinki security conference, made more credible such policies as Carrillo's Junta Democrática (the Center-Left coalition formed in exile), Berlinguer's "historic compromise," and Marchais' "Union of the French People." These policies, based on the former anathema of class collaboration, would be impossible if a new chill divided Europe again into the Manichaean confrontation between East and West, communists and democrats. Détente also enabled the West European communists to soften their foreign policy stands and so to widen their political bases within their own countries. No longer was there any question of immediately dismantling the Atlantic Alliance, which could be construed as an invitation to Soviet hegemony.

Despite the new moderation, the question of "cheating" - of somehow acting in a way that favors the Soviet Union, a point raised in these columns last year by Sergio Segre of the Italian Party - still holds.1 There are many people who insist that the Eurocommunists, no matter how much they may pretend to be independent or even anti-Soviet, would come down on the Soviet side in a crisis. In short, they cannot be trusted any more today than they could during the worst of the cold war when both Togliatti and Thorez said publicly that if the Red Army entered Europe to fight against NATO, the communists' role would be to fight on the side of the invaders.

Segre argued that "cheating" would be impossible today because of the communists' "awareness of the sources of their support" - meaning the people and implying a certain inherent anti-Sovietism in the people. Carrillo, in Madrid, ducked the question by saying that, "in a confrontation between the two superpowers we would not have time to make a choice. It would be the nuclear destruction of Europe . . . the question today is how to avoid this confrontation of which we would be the first victims. If we don't, we will all go to hell." This question of "cheating" never goes away in France, where many a debate between communists and non-communists ends in a shouting match over Prague, and who would serve as the French Party's Husak, Bilak and Indra to invite the Soviets in for "fraternal aid." Georges Marchais, asked about this on a press show this spring, responded, "if you are talking about our asking for outside socialist help to counter an invasion by imperialistic forces attempting to destroy socialist achievements in France, the answer is we would do what was necessary to defend socialism."

The implicit question is whether the Eurocommunists now define their present success as directly proportional to their distance from Moscow, and would not jeopardize it - even in a crisis - by dredging up a subliminal nostalgia for the Comintern. If this is the case, then Togliatti's "polycentrism" has indeed triumphed and there can be no "cheating." Many people, however, remain to be convinced. They do not pose the question as Santiago Carrillo posed it - as a dire choice between East and West as the bombs begin to fall - but rather as the beginning of a process that gradually neutralizes Western Europe, achieves the withdrawal of the United States and leads ultimately to Soviet hegemony and Finlandization. U.S. diplomats abroad already point out that despite the frequently independent line of the Eurocommunists in many areas, these West European communists rarely criticize the Soviet Union's foreign policy.

A cautionary note: the Communist Party is a long way from being the majority party in any nation of Western Europe. In Italy, where it is strongest with 34 percent of the vote, it may have reached its ceiling. In general, West Europeans are not communists, and the present success of the Eurocommunists is not only in relation to their estrangement from Moscow but to their abandonment of cold war policies and the dogma that since 1921 has separated them from the socialists, such as the dictatorship of the proletariat and international proletarianism. In fact, all that's left of what used to be known as the three doctrinal pillars of bolshevism is democratic centralism, and at times there seems to be very little of that.

No communist party is going to come to power alone in Western Europe, nor is it likely even to come to power as the dominant force in a coalition. The communists will not be in a position to impose their policies on anybody except by force, which historically has been fatal for them in Western Europe. Force creates reaction, and Portugal offers a striking example of what can happen to a party that overshoots. Mario Soares still bristles when he tells how Kissinger predicted that he would become the "Kerensky" of Portugal. This is, after all, Western Europe, with its democratic heritage, not Eastern Europe in the shadow of the Tsars.


In one key aspect, communist parties are no different from their capitalist counterparts: they are marked by the personalities that lead them. Nowhere is this more evident than in Italy. Gramsci, Togliatti, Longo, Berlinguer, each with ties to Sardinia, each an intellectual - with Berlinguer a noble to boot. There has been little of the ouvrièrisme in this party that has marked the French.

The second influence on the PCI has been fascism. Luciano Lama, the university-educated head of the CGIL, the Communist-led labor union, says, "if our party seems a little strange to others, there are historical reasons." The long years of clandestinity gave it an early independence, says Lama. To be sure, both Gramsci and Togliatti went to Moscow; but one of the more interesting aspects of Gramsci's voluminous writings is that nowhere does he talk about the Soviet Union or his impressions of Moscow, even in his rambling Prison Notebooks. Togliatti used his World War II exile in Moscow not to return home praising the virtues of bolshevism but to develop his ideas of an "historic bloc." He recognized that if fascism had momentarily triumphed in Italy it was not because Mussolini had stolen power but because he had been able to "mobilize the masses," to unite Italians, to create what Togliatti called a "national, popular, collective will" of the Italian people.

This need to create a national consensus, to immerse the party in Italian life rather than to isolate it into the "countersociety" of the French Party, has marked the PCI since its formation in 1921. The early party battles were fought largely along nationalistic lines. Gramsci, the emaciated intellectual, fascinated as much by Bergson as by Marx, actually was the "centrist" candidate for the first leadership post, between Bordiga's nationalism and Tasca's nostalgia for the Second International.

Despite its liberal image today, the Italian Party must still be held accountable for its cold war past. During that period, the PCI flew with the hawks. Tito was vigorously condemned in 1949 by the same Togliatti who, in 1956, would discover the virtues of polycentrism. Moreover, Togliatti's polycentrism had its limits - it was not to be extended to Eastern Europe. The PCI approved the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian uprising by the Soviet Union.

The Eurocommunists today regard this past as so much water under the bridge. At Madrid, Georges Marchais, asked why the Eurocommunists did not take a strong stand in favor of human rights in Eastern Europe, replied: "we are not here to make a collective judgment on anybody . . . we have learned the lessons of the past. You remember that not so long ago we condemned the actions of the Yugoslav League of Communists, that we 'excommunicated' the League. We were wrong, and we are not going to start that again." Berlinguer, asked last year to comment on the cold war period, argued that it was past history: "The hypothesis of a return to the cold war does not seem reasonable to us. Even if the world is still going to have its chills and warm spells, détente today corresponds to objective necessity, except, of course, in the case of unforeseeable catastrophe." The message, in any case, is clear: the cold war period is over, and the present is another story.

With 34 percent of the vote today, a steady progression in every election for the past 25 years, the PCI is now the most powerful communist party in any democratic country. Not only is it nearly on a par with the Christian Democrats (38 percent), but it has pushed the divided socialist parties into a position of marginality. It has done this by enlarging its base beyond the proletariat, increasing its appeal in the tertiary, white-collar sector, generally proving its responsibility on the municipal level, staying clear of the bribes and scandals that have weighed on the Christian Democrats, defending a certain evolution of society on such issues as divorce and abortion, and maintaining open, modern, classless policies on most of the key problems facing Italy today.

Economically, the Party's line is somewhat to the right of the French Socialists. The Party thinks that Italy has enough nationalized industry, for example, "We don't like nationalizations, permissive credit and that sort of thing any more than the others," says Luciano Barca, the leadership's spokesman on economic affairs. "We, too, are against inflation. But we are for more planning and the guarantee of demand. The government must guarantee markets. It must control the swings of the cycle."

In some ways the PCI has even become a conservative force in Italy, as was demonstrated this spring during the riots by students and young, unemployed workers. Once again, the PCI has worries on its left. Such groups as Lotta Continua, the Autonomi, Democrazia Proletaria led the riots in Communist-run cities to protest against what they said were two million young unemployed and 900,000 students soon to be added to that. The Communist labor leader Luciano Lama was physically attacked when he tried to address students at Rome University.

The PCI is thus running a risk, and it is a risk the French Communists often remarked upon before deciding to run it themselves. The risk is that to be associated with power in difficult times is often to be associated with failure. The West European Communists have usually been comfortable in the opposition. The Italian Socialists, after all, were nearly destroyed by their decade of association with the Christian Democrats in various Center-Left governments. Now the Communists are asking for their turn. Why? The best answer to that comes not from the Italians, but from Georges Marchais, who was defending the French Communists' new line - his line - at the 22nd Party Congress last year. "To exercise a role in the direction of affairs is the legitimate ambition of all political parties," he said. "Why should other parties be inspired by that ambition and not us?"


That must be the starting place for any analysis of the French Party today. The PCF wants power, and it has not always been that way. In fact, it has been that way for such a short time that as recently as early autumn 1975, following a series of damaging bi-election and county election losses to their Socialist partners, it appeared that the PCF was having second thoughts about its strategy of an alliance of the Left. Marchais' policy was being challenged by Party elements who believed that the Socialist Party's comeback under François Mitterrand posed a mortal threat, not so much to the government majority as to the Communist Party itself, which risked becoming a marginal "15 percent" party. Was it not better, asked the challengers, to be number one in the opposition than a mere accessory to those in power? This period presented the most serious threat to Marchais, and in overcoming it, he became free to set his party on a most remarkable course of change.

The symbol for the change was Marchais' November 1975 visit to Rome and the signing of what the French Party hailed as an "historic declaration" of solidarity between Marchais and Berlinguer, the word "historic" being carefully avoided by the Italians. In the same month, the PCF switched positions at the preparatory meeting for the pan-European communist summit meeting that would finally be held in Berlin the following summer. Until the November meeting, the PCF had been supporting the East German-Soviet position, but in November it switched to join the Italian, Spanish, Yugoslav and Romanian position, quite different on key points from the other.

Three months later, the PCF held its 22nd Party Congress, which it had built up for weeks as an "historic" congress. The news, of course, was the abandonment of the "dictatorship of the proletariat," which was sheer nonsense since hardly anyone this side of the Albanians, including Portuguese leader Cunhal, defended that anachronistic position anymore. Yet, dropping the "dictatorship" became the symbol of the French Party's new change, its "turning point," and its proclamation of "socialism with French colors."

The comments of the other Eurocommunists on the PCF's turning point are noteworthy. Both the Italians and the Spanish will discuss it - though always "off the record" when speaking of such fraternal matters. They are highly skeptical. One leading Italian Communist put it this way: "The history of our Party is consistent. We have arrived at our positions through open, public debates. You can read about this in the books of Gramsci, Longo, Amendola. The French always have been secret. I've never seen a polemic between Marchais and Paul Laurent, for example, on the Congress of Tours [1921]. We are frankly shocked by the rapidity of the French changes. You don't make history by leaps."

In this frank comment there is an element of jealousy, of rivalry and of francophobia. One of the surest limits on the potential of Eurocommunism is the one imposed by nationalism. Italian and Spanish Communists, no less than others, are worried about French dominance. It was sufficient to watch Marchais dominate Berlinguer and Carrillo in Madrid to get this feeling.

However, the Italian quoted above may well be wrong. The French Party has made a considerable leap, and if the Italians are a bit envious that their position as the most enlightened of the Eurocommunists is now threatened, that is understandable. But, at this point, there is little evidence to support the view that the French changes are merely "tactical" and that the French Party, more than the others, would "cheat." The PCF has taken a different road to Madrid, but it got there just the same.

The French Party is certainly aware of what is being said about it. One member of the Central Committee responded this way: "It is an error for anybody to think that our turning point does not represent a long-term serious policy. There is nothing tactical about this." Asked what single element played the greatest role in arriving at this turning point, he gave a long, dialectical analysis of how communism never rejected change, then summed up the real reason: "Just as people talk about the problem of usure de pouvoir, there is also an usure de l'opposition."

L'usure de l'opposition, the idea that you can't stay in the opposition forever without losing credibility, dominates the PCF thinking today. The new faces, the men brought into the Central Committee and Politburo by Georges Marchais, are not the Stalinists of Thorez' time. Of the Central Committee's 121 members, 66 - more than half - have been elected since 1970. Only three remain from before the Second World War. The average age of the Politburo's 21 members is 50 years old, and 10 of them have been elected since 1970. These statistics show that the men running the Party today are the men of the Common Program, and that program, signed with the Socialists in 1972, is a program of government, not of opposition.

It is the Common Program of Government that makes the French situation today different from any other. It is spelled out, in the Communist edition, in 185 pages of rather remarkable precision about how France would be governed by the Left. It also conveniently sets aside all the difficulties such a government would face - constitutional problems, relations with a centrist president, the possible fall of the franc, problems within the European Community and the Atlantic Alliance. And it disregards all the differences between Socialists and Communists themselves.

The two Parties are currently revising the Program to get ready for the elections, but two areas are so sensitive that they are certain to be evaded. Yet these sectors are crucial to the success of the Left's enterprise: one is defense and the other is nothing less than the organization of the economy, the question of workers auto-determination or autogestion.

The analysis of these two problems is beyond the scope of this article. The question of autogestion is a basic difference between the two Parties of the Left - the Socialists want to put private enterprise in the hands of the workers; the Communists want to turn it over to a state bureaucracy. Of the two problems, defense is probably easier, since the PCF has shown clear signs of evolution lately by accepting the nuclear striking force. There is a certain logic to the belief that now that the PCF has become a "national" party, it will come to accept an independent nuclear force as long as universal disarmament is not achieved. But the French Communists have been considerably more disposed than the French Socialists to aligning their views with those favored by the Warsaw Pact nations - such notions as nonaggression pacts, renunciation of the first use of nuclear weapons, a nuclear-free Central Europe and so on.

At this point in history, the party wears its new clothes uncomfortably, something shown in such things as the continued "class struggle" language used by the leadership, the grumbling of the rank and file, an occasional article of hard-line dissent, and the cheering of the workers for Soviet Party Politburo member Andrei Kirilenko. The PCF remains essentially a tough-talking workers' party. Perhaps it is succumbing to the lessons of French sociology, those that show, as Marchais pointed out at the 22nd Party Congress, that the proletariat is a diminishing percentage of society; but it does so with obvious reluctance. The point is that it is doing it. For either the new class of white-collar, technical and office workers must be won over to the Party, or it will be communism, not capitalism, that ends up in the dustbin of history.


The Spanish Party (PCE) is indeed the little brother of the Eurocommunists. Like the Portuguese Party, for which it has little use - but then Spaniards and Portuguese have little use for each other - it survived decades of persecution and clandestinity. In both countries, however, the years of fascism took their toll, and the Parties emerged weakened. Their weakness led to diametrically opposite conclusions, with the Portuguese making a strong Leninist bid for power, while the Spanish appeared so moderate that on some issues they were to the right of the Socialists. One of the PCE's first moves was to accept the monarchy, which the Socialists did not feel obliged to do.

There can be no doubt about Santiago Carrillo's anti-Sovietism. He has never hidden it, and was rewarded during the late 1960s and early 1970s by Moscow's open backing for Enrique Lister, the old Civil War general, who had the virtue, in Moscow's eyes, of approving the Prague invasion of 1968, which Carrillo condemned. Carrillo has his own ideas for communism in Spain, ideas which scarcely involve the Soviet Union.

"The fruits of our policies of moderation," he told the first legal meeting of the Central Committee in April, "have been our legalization." He spoke of the "criticism" of his policies and said that "any kind of vanguard tactics would only lead to reaction in this nation that still lives in the past." All these remarks were made public, as was the first vote of the Central Committee, which included 10 abstentions out of 132 votes. Most of the abstentions came over the Party's acceptance of the national flag (instead of a return to the flag of the Republic of 1931-39) and its acceptance of the King.

The PCE is operating from a position of great weakness, probably weaker even than the Portuguese Party, that won only 12 percent in that country's first free elections, in 1975. All Carrillo's actions, which were completely consistent with what he used to describe from his exile in Paris, were directed toward overcoming the bitter memories of the Civil War and 40 years of fascist propaganda which had blamed that war exclusively on communism and the Soviet Union. He returned to Spain determined to show that the Communist Party was more democratic than any democratic party, and to defy anyone to prove the contrary.

To be sure, there was opposition within the Party, and early rumors that he would be replaced, but most of the rumors were without consequence. Carrillo appears firmly in command, to the point of even being able to offer an abrazo to Fernando Claudin, the historian who along with scenarist Jorge Semprun was expelled from the Politburo in 1965 for objecting too strongly to its lack of revolutionary zeal. There is an anti-Carrillo current, both among intellectuals and working class members such as Marcelino Camacho, who still hold that the party is not taking advantage of the tensions, of the flux, even of the chaos that has accompanied the transition from fascism to democracy.

The leadership's answer to this has been that the situation was not chaotic; on the contrary, the government was proving far more astute during the transition than anyone had thought. In truth, the Left had been quite surprised by the rapid transition under the King and Premier Adolfo Suarez. As Franco had approached death in 1974-75, the Spanish opposition of Communists, Socialists and Christian Democrats had formed two principal coalitions, both adopting policies calling for a "democratic rupture" based on the notion that no authoritarian government had ever successfully liberalized itself. The coalitions believed there could be no post-Franco collaboration with the King and his government. As it happened, however, the King and Premier Suarez set out to do precisely what the Left said it could not, which forced the opposition to drop plans for a post-Franco rupture.

But there is more to Carrillo's policies than just what might be called "an objective analysis of the situation." In his new book, Eurocommunism and the State, Carrillo makes it quite clear that what he wants for Western Europe is a kind of regional West European socialism, incorporating the traditional values of Western culture and including alliances with all "progressive forces." Carrillo, the son of a Socialist and a former leader of the Spanish Socialist youth movement in the early 1930s, is out to obliterate the memories of 1921 and the communist-socialist schism that took place in almost every West European country. He goes farther than Berlinguer, not to mention Marchais, in adopting a long-range strategy that sees Western Europe at some future time as a great socialist brotherhood of liberalism, progressiveness and culture that has very little to do with what the East European communists may be doing.

It will be interesting to watch the Spanish and Portuguese Parties in the years ahead to see which one was right. For Cunhal, Carrillo is little more than a "renegade," and communist history will condemn him to oblivion. For Carrillo, who can invoke an analysis of history as well as Cunhal, it is the latter who remains wedded to the past. (Cunhal, by the way, made it quite clear why he was not at Madrid for the summit - he was not invited. In fact, he said, he learned that there would be a summit only shortly beforehand, on a plane trip to Rome for a bilateral meeting with the Italians.)

Both Spain and Portugal emerged from fascism with a strong longing for centrism and moderation. In Spain, all the polls have shown that the Spanish Left (i.e., the Communists and Socialists) would do well to capture 30 percent of the vote. Not only do memories linger of the Civil War, but Spanish regionalism is strong - particularly in Catalonia and Viscaya - and the labor unions are divided and relatively weak. The Communist-dominated Workers' Commissions still are the strongest labor force in the nation, but the Socialist and the Christian unions cannot be ignored. In any case, use of the labor weapon must be carefully measured, for the Spanish army has shown itself extremely sensitive to the Communist presence. And the army - not political factions - may well prove the decisive force in the evolution of Spanish democracy.


The three parties came away from Madrid calling themselves Eurocommunists because they decided that, despite a certain geographical imprecision to the term, it demonstrates that West European communism will be different. Berlinguer put it best at Madrid: "What is being called Eurocommunism is the fruit of an elaboration that each of us has accomplished separately, taking into account the conditions of exploitation of the working class in each of our countries and of the workers' interests, and considering also what the developed countries of Western Europe have in common. It is not up to us to say whether this elaboration will also have an influence beyond Western Europe."

Much has been said about the Eurocommunists' failure to make a strong statement about human rights at Madrid. It has been noted that Giovanni Cervetti, member of the PCI's Secretariat, met with the Soviet leader Boris Ponomarev in Moscow ten days before the first preliminary Eurocommunist session was held in Madrid and five weeks before the summit; at that time there were reports that Moscow warned the PCI in no uncertain terms that there would be repercussions to any anti-Sovietism in Madrid. The Italians more than the French, it is said, put the brakes on Carrillo.

Yet it is doubtful that it was as simple as that. The signs are too clear that the Spanish did not want to create an open and needless rupture with Moscow. Even the French, who have more reason today than the Italians to proclaim a certain anti-Sovietism, say there was never any question of provoking Moscow. From Carrillo we know only what he said publicly at a Madrid press conference: "This meeting is not meant to be a challenge to anybody. . . . And contrary to some press reports, we are not defining ourselves by taking a negative position toward others."

Though the three parties have grown comfortable with their new label, their attitudes on many subjects are far from identical. They have reached a close identity of views on how to come to power in Western Europe, and what the Left should be doing once in power. But there are rather important variations among them. Their application of "democratic centralism," or rigid discipline, is different.2 The French Party believes in much stronger national centralization, both politically and economically, than the other two. The Italian Party is a stronger defender of the European Community. The Spaniards are the boldest in defending an identity of West European interests, of accepting a process that would lead to a reconciliation with the socialists, and they create a de facto new regional center or a third schism.

Eurocommunism must be considered one of the fruits of détente and of the Helsinki process. From a purely strategic point of view, it probably is "destabilizing," which explains much of the hostility emanating from both the United States and the Soviet Union. Nobody is sure where Eurocommunism may lead, whether it will ultimately prove more disturbing to Eastern Europe or to the Atlantic relationship. There is no reason at this point to suggest that détente itself might be jeopardized by Eurocommunism, for the Eurocommunists themselves appear to understand the need for prudence in foreign policy. They have described their aim as leading to a kind of "controlled disintegration" of the blocs over a long period of time. And each of them vigorously denies that it would ever favor policies that would allow Europe to fall under the hegemony of anybody, particularly the Soviet Union.

Inevitably one of these parties, if not all of them, will someday reap the harvest of its new policies. Probably it is best for everyone, and certainly for Western Europe, that the experiment be tried out before long, for the present feeling is one of waiting for the other shoe to drop. The systematic exclusion from government of the Left has contributed to the crises of the countries of Latin Europe. The policy of "vaccination" has not yet been put into operation. But one thing is certain - the policy of "quarantine" has not worked.


1 See Sergio Segre, "The 'Communist Question' in Italy," Foreign Affairs, July 1976.

2 As the Eurocommunists have moderated their foreign policy lines and taken a stronger position on human rights, the attacks against them from the socialists have centered on democratic centralism, which incarnates the lack of individual freedom within the party structure.

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  • James O. Goldsborough is Chief European Correspondent for the International Herald Tribune. He was Edward R. Murrow Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations for 1973-74.
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