Courtesy Reuters

The Myths of Eurocommunism

The paradox of the concept of Eurocommunism is undoubtedly the combination of its extraordinary success in the United States and the skeptical treatment it has met since its birth in Europe in the countries concerned.1 European political commentators, including this author, noted in 1975 how difficult it was to apply the same concept to situations so different as the Italian one, where a powerful Communist Party was allied to a powerful conservative party in order for the two of them to monopolize political life; the French one, where, in contrast, an important, though not dominant, Communist Party allied itself to the Socialists and cut the political world into two irreconcilable halves; or the Spanish or Portuguese situations, where two minor Communist Parties (about 10 percent of the vote) had more coverage than their actual weight justified (the Spanish, because it presented the most liberal image in the Western world and risked nothing by doing so, and, on the other hand, the Portuguese, by trying with the help of the army to establish a dictatorship in the purest Leninist style).

The point at which Europeans had little confidence in the solidity of Eurocommunism was evident from the moment that the first cracks appeared in the Union of the French Left, in September 1977. The explanation that immediately came to the minds of the Socialist analysts, when they perceived the incomprehensible hardening of the French Communist Party, was the influence of Moscow. These are the same people who for five years had been maintaining that French communism had completely detached itself from Russian communism, and then decided from one day to the next to perceive the hand of the Kremlin in the crisis of the French Left. The noted Paris daily, Le Monde, which for years had been the most ardent defender of the thesis of the independence of the French Communist Party from the U.S.S.R., published in rapid succession two articles, "The French Communist Party and Proletarian Internationalism"2 and "The Hand of

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