Eurocommunism: Something for the Birds?

DOI10.1177/0032258X7905200303
AuthorMaurice North
Published date01 July 1979
Date01 July 1979
Subject MatterArticle
Professor MAURICE NORTH
Professor
of
Social Institutions. Preston Polytechnic
EUROCOMMUNISM:
SOMETHING
FOR THE BIRDS?
Two or three years ago, it was fashionable in certain countries of
Europe to be a 'Eurocommunist', Young middle class Italians, for
example, expressed sympathy with the idea of Eurocommunism. A
considerable number of young professional people, especially in the
social services, medicine and law, and those of middle age but
aspiring to be considered young felt an absolute compulsion to
express their agreement with the concept. Now, the fervour is dying
down though Eurocommunism still seems to be an article of faith
with some official European communist parties.
Does Eurocommunism exist? Or is it, like
our
own defunct"Social
Contract", aconstruction of the imagination rather
than
areflection
of reality? It is certainly apropaganda device, if nothing more. Philip
Windsor has said
that
if it does exist, it does so from the point of view
of the Russians. To them there is a clearly discernible tendency
among the Communist parties of Western Europe to free themselves
from Moscow control. The Russian satellite states share this view in
so far as some of the Western parties tolerate dissidents and
reformists, most of whom oppose the Moscow line.
No such unity of opinion, however, exists in the West. To the
Easterners, they present common features whereas to each other,
they present disparate views with little in common. Italy, France and
Spain, where Eurocommunism is supposed to .be strongest, have
parties whose analysis of the political situation is markedly different
from one another. The defeat of the Left in the recent national
elections in France emphasizes these differences. The Italian and
Spanish communists agree
that
the narrowly sectarian attitudes of
the French Communist Party were responsible. The Spanish
Communists are of the opinion
that
the refusal to conciliate the
French middle classes was the major error of their French colleagues.
The conciliation of the middle classes is seen by the Spaniards to be a
vital element in Eurocommunism.
Perhaps the criticism of the French Communists is superficial,
and
that
what the Italians are really saying is
that
in the great con game
they are all playing, the French have failed in hypocrisy. But such
criticism, whatever its basis may be, is
an
indication of an absence of
a
common
campaign. Professor Pierre Hassner says
that
only one
conclussion is possible regarding the so-called Eurocommunist
July 1979 229

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