The future of Vatican

03. Vatican and Catholic Church in Italy

Article from La Voce del (nuovo) Partito Comunista Italiano,n.23 - July 2006
sabato 14 luglio 2007.
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As we said above, in Europe and all over the world Vatican and Church have had a role, firstly to prevent and restrain the development of capitalist mode of production and connected social relations and culture, then, since the beginning of imperialist era of capitalism, to support bourgeoisie and contrast Communist movement, revolutions of New Democracy and socialist revolutions. In Italy, this role was carried out in such a concentrated way to determine a new and specifically Italian quality of the phenomenon. One of our country specific characteristics, that distinguish it from any other country, even European ones, is the role that Vatican and its Church have had and continue to have in its life. The Vatican has centre in Italy. Italy is the country where greatest are density and strength of its spider’s web. It’s the decisive territory of its world functioning, where Vatican defends its power and privileges more rabidly, where, thanks to history we have behind, it maintained means to defend them more effectively and exercise them more strongly.

In other countries where Roman Church has its forces, it is one of the many, picturesque and poisonous remnants the imperialist bourgeoisie retrieved from past: kings with their courts and their “civil lists”, nobiliary orders, career magistrates, orders of chivalry, castes and cliques of career officials with their “codes of honour” and with their team complicities, professional orders and their monopolies, Higher Chambers (senates), State revenues (a crowd of rich parasites weighing on Public Administrations’ balances and feeding secrecy and parasitism in the entire society), secret societies, etc. In every country the evil work and miasmas of this historical remnants confound themselves with those of bourgeois society’s putrefaction. One century and a half ago, bourgeoisie ended its revolutionary epoch and its progressive role and recruited as allies against Communist movement all leftover rubbish of pre-bourgeois world. Confronting “old Europe” with USA, which as well is a country completely of European origin, we can better take in account this phenomenon. Today, USA are the world centre of the struggle the bourgeois world opposed to Communist movement’s advance, are whole world’s policeman. This country conquered this sad primacy and carries out this foul role just because here bourgeoisie found less historical leftovers to strengthen its defences. Therefore it developed and develops its peculiar characteristics and potentialities, for good or ill, in a most pure and concentrated form. On the contrary, in “old Europe” the invalid found a convenient crutch in the rubbish leftover from history, but the crutch took the invalid’s will to walk with its legs, so engraving his invalidity.

In the combination of imperialist bourgeoisie with its allied historical leftovers, in Italy the Vatican has such a weight to give rise to the particular nature of our country in contemporary era, also compared with other European countries. There is a lot of lamentation about our country’s anomalies and delays, about its ruling class, Public Administration, judiciary system, school system, customs, culture, and so on. Its springs up, from the reviews of those subjective forces for socialist revolution that do not limit themselves to mock the claiming struggles, but also look after the analysis of situation (for instance Contropiano , review of Communists’ Network) all the way up to bourgeois media as Repubblica , Corriere della Sera , and Micromega. What this people do not say is the historical origin and present reason of “Italian anomalies” which they talk and mourn about. By refusing to look after therapy, Italian bourgeoisie and all those who are submitted to its influence has finished by no more be able even to diagnose the ill: they limit themselves to moan about symptoms. As far as I know, in order to find in our country a lucid and clear indication about origin of “Italian anomalies”, we have to go back up to Antonio Gramsci’s work.

Vatican and Church have had a decisive role in our country’s history (and in its manipulation too), and they have it also now. Obviously, they have it not only in a negative way, but also in what is a pride for our country. Every time somebody, as a defeatist, throws in our discussions racial, geographic or any way “natural” explanations of “Italian anomalies”, we must remember the universal role our country carried out in the Renaissance and the huge vanguard cultural and artistic it gave the world in every field until all the sixteenth century. The Roman Church was the collective organic intellectual of Middle Age Europe and of European feudal society. Within this society there are born the capitalist mode of production and the bourgeois society grown around it that gave the entire world its form and still today gives it. The origins of “Italian anomalies” are in our history. Also it’s again confirmed that “man is the product of his history”. On the negative point of view, Vatican and its Church

§ between Eleventh and Fifteenth Centuries strongly contrasted the endogenous and founded on its own force development of bourgeois world that was in action in our peninsula;

§ during the same period they prevented the formation of a wide State in the peninsula, like absolute monarchies that were formed in rest of Europe;

§ in Sixteenth Century they ended bourgeois development that was on and made decay our country reducing it to a territory subjected to foreign dominion for three centuries;

§ between half of Eighteenth Century and half of the Nineteenth Century, when bourgeois development started again, this time on tow and in the rear of the rest of Europe, in the Risorgimento they made prevail Moderates and counter opposed the movement for independence and unity to the peasant movement and the agrarian revolution, a course of things whose consequences weighted on a hundred and thirty years of our country’s unitary history and still weight today in the condition of the current struggle between working class and imperialist bourgeoisie.


1. It was the Roman Church itself that, operating as centre of Middle Age Europe, without understanding it, since the Lower Middle Ages, around the times of Charlemagne (742 - 800 - 814) gave thousands impulses to mercantile economy and monetary relations’ development, to the break of isolation of economy of court and feud, to international relations, to expeditions for conquering new territories and richness, to scientific knowledge. Italian peninsula was the centre of these impulses. It was the country where the capitalist mode of production reached such a development it never reached before in humanity’s history. This materialized in the constitution of Communes and Maritime Republics and had its driving power in commercial capitalists, the merchants.

As new economic relations developed, and with them the connected ideas, customs, feelings and values, it was more and more largely and clearly realized that a new world was rising, inconsistent with the old one. It was not something that would have continued to live near old feudal world, in its periodic fairs, at its service, as its complement, enrichment and embellishment. If it had not been suffocated in time, new bourgeois world would have ousted old feudal world. Then, gradually a deadly struggle stirred up between two worlds. The old Middle Age struggle for feudal investitures became the struggle between the laic authorities and Papacy’s and Church’s power. Very early the Papacy with its Church headed the old world struggling to survive. For clear reasons the clash between two worlds was fought in peninsula more rabidly, with more forces and fierceness than in rest of Europe. In fact, in the peninsula the greatest institution, the intellectual and moral centre of European feudal society had its centre. The wars raging in peninsula for seven centuries, since Eleventh to Sixteenth Century, so as political and cultural conflicts, were founded on it. The outcome of conflict was not taken for granted. On the contrary, Papacy passed through a period of great precariousness, since 1309 to 1423, first with transfer of its centre to Avignon, in France, and then with the Great Western Schism.

2. Vatican was the decisive impediment to constitute a great state unity in peninsula, in the age when, in rest of Europe even if generally socially less advanced than Italy, national absolute monarchies were formed. They were determinant factors for further bourgeois society’s development. Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) joined the struggles of that age and examined them thoroughly. He concluded that Vatican was the main impediment to create a wide absolute monarchy in the peninsula. On one side at that time it was almost unthinkable to form such a monarchy eliminating Papacy, owing to its power in rest of Europe and general state of things. On the other side, other Christian powers would have tried by all means to prevent that Pope could combine its intellectual and moral sovereignty upon their subjects with possession of the forces a great State owns. Surely, Machiavelli’s conclusions well reflect the real outline of opposing forces at that time. But it’s also true that, as far as they were concerned, the Popes energetically and effectively struggled to prevent that others could unite the peninsula against them. On the contrary, they did never struggle with energy and tenacity to unify it at their orders in form of absolute monarchy, the most modern form of that age. It’s easy to understand why they didn’t search such a solution. The Papacy embodied the unity of feudal society, fractioned and scattered as it was. If he headed a great State instead, it would have not only increased contrasts between Papacy and absolute monarchies of rest of Europe, contrasts that, anyway, scattered all that period. But, furthermore, Pope should have to face claims and revolts of an important population, whose consent would be decisive for Papacy’s survival. In other words, Pope would have risked coming to the end of Charles the First, king of England, or Louis the Sixteenth, king of France. So, Papacy would have risked coming to French dynasty’s end, and probably faster than it, owing to most advanced development of capitalism in the peninsula and its populations’ fighting aptitude. Already in those times Vatican had better and ought to rule behind the scenes, through third persons, not to directly appear and take government responsibilities.


3. The end of struggles till now reminded was that in Sixteenth Century Papacy, heading Italian and European force of feudal reaction, succeeded in defeating Reformation and with it bourgeois forces of rising capitalism all over the peninsula. The peninsula felt even under control of other European powers (France, Spain, Austria) for three centuries. With Counter reformation, the Roman Church skilfully profited to repress and eliminate its opponents and impose moral and intellectual conformism by detaching in ideas and customs that during the Renaissance had been created between mercantile and intellectual (in short, bourgeois) élite and the mass of population, particularly of peasants and generally of women. Since then Church has been populist. Catholic countries’ great intellectuals and bourgeois élite were obliged to maintain a tie with the mass of population, directly but most of all indirectly, through personal outward homage to the rites of popular religion and lower clergy. Even if they thought differently, and privately acted differently, publicly they had to show devotion and homage to the religion Church gave to population (12) .

The Church prevented population to get out from superstition inherited by Middle Age, the popular faith that Renaissance didn’t seriously undermined, and from a conception of the world contrasting with society and knowledge’s evolution and therefore becoming more and more wonder - working, fatalist, fanatical and primitive. It was what Church and ruling class believed necessary to prevent population from dreaming to get out and committing itself to get out from its miserable economic and social condition. In order to get it there wasn’t enough repression and widespread activity of lower clergy (countryside priest and monastery friars). It was also necessary that the élite would limit or hide its behaviours and ideas and help clergy to establish an active management of ideas and feelings of women and popular classes, particularly of peasants (13) . The higher clergy undertook direction of the whole, as an activity under its monopoly. The Holy Office of Roman Curia was the central direction of this activity, with its refined doctrine and its stakes for heretics and witches.

Clergy had the monopoly upon children’s’ education, different according to the class they belong to. It also had monopoly of spiritual direction upon women and hegemony upon peasants. It had many weapons at its disposal. Particularly it had the confessional for knowing behaviours, trends, thoughts and for morally persecuting transgressions, the threat of pains of hell and promises of delights of heaven after death, God’s curse or blessing or its saints and angels in this earthly life, excommunication (exclusion from the rites) and ban from social life. The Catechism (published in 1566) became synthesis of the conception of the world and ethics, which everybody had to pay homage to, but it was a real chain for mind and heart of “common people” exploited, manipulated and despised by prelates.

In countries left under Pope’s authority, Church established a new social regime of strict control of population’s behaviours and consciousnesses with Counter Reformation: it was a regime with political power as military and coercive instrument and the regular and secular (diocesan) clergy as spiritual, intellectual and moral guide and as general bonding agent. An intellectual, moral and political gloomy burden went down above all the countries remained Catholic (papist) and, in the end, determined their decay in international relations: This burden overwhelmed Italian peninsula more than the other countries.

The populations of our country entered in a long period of stagnation, regress and decay in every field. In economic field, the separation of manufacturing activity from agriculture and connected development of industry as an economic and separate sector stopped. In scientific, cultural and moral field the researches in technical field were tolerated but any development in the field of human science was prohibited, persecuted and discouraged: the vicissitudes of Giordano Bruno (1548 - 1600) and Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642) are exemplary. Hagiography and academic rhetoric characterize the epoch (14) . This catastrophe marked our country’s following history and still marks it.

The development of the new mode of production (the capitalism) was stopped everywhere, but Counter Reformation was not able to restore feudal world. Its destruction had gone on too much and it was no more reversible. It happens instead that many bourgeois people (merchants, bankers, industrials, professional men and intellectuals), prevented or deterred from widening on a large scale their capitalist business and traffics, totally or partly abandoned them and transferred part of their interests buying landed properties in exchange of money that old owners (of feudal origin) wasted in the cities or abroad. On the other side a great number of feudal families had been ruined or degenerated by long wars, rising of “free companies”, serfs’ escape, expeditions. The new States’ armed forces constituted in the peninsula were no more founded on feudal performances, but on mercenary troops. Then new social relations prevailed in countryside and between countryside and cities of the peninsula. In countryside, with their own implements and traditional methods, peasants were producing more agricultural provisions than those owners, Authorities and clergy left them for their miserable subsistence. Those provisions were expropriated by their oppressors (landlords, Authorities, clergy). Peasants were deterred or prevented from leaving the countryside and escaping in the city. In the new regime they could leave countryside only through the channels of recruitment by clergy or the call by Authorities or landlords (as soldiers, servants or unskilled labour in public services). Landlords, Authorities and clergy (except countryside priests and part of monastery friars) maintained their residence in the cities (15) . There they made work at their service a numerous urban population of servants, clerks, public service employees, policemen, soldiers, sluggards, prostitutes and craftsmen that they paid with money. They also sold them this part of provisions they didn’t use or export in exchange of money. So, city economy remained a monetary economy very wide, rich and bright, so that the new regime kept and even developed the Renaissance acquisitions. But city didn’t sell anything to peasants: it weighed as a one big parasitic body upon peasants and it sucked souls out of them as well. Their economy was not monetary, but natural. More than before, city and countryside became separated worlds, united only by the exploitation the landlords, Authorities and Church exerted upon peasants.

Landlords were no more feudal lords. Property of land was no more connected with the political role that feudatory exerted in its feud. The political subdivision of peninsula was no more that of Middle Age, even if names and titles of former feuds were the same. Small as they were, each one of the little States in which the peninsula was divided was like absolute monarchies of rest of Europe, with its bureaucracy and mercenaries who accomplished political roles before exerted by feud owners, with its multicoloured local autonomies and their customs duties, its local mercenary forces, and so on. Even better, at the beginning the States of the peninsula were socially more advanced than the rest of Europe. The monetary economy dominated in cities and international relations and any way at a wide range. Juridically, new landowners were private citizens who bought or sold the land they owned. But peasants remained excluded from commercial and monetary relations. Personal performances and quantity of provisions they owed to owners, Authorities and clergy were fixed by customary rules, different among them, according to zone and master’s will. The relations were customary, not monetary or matter to contract for. They were relations of personal dependence where master’s will, ratified by clergy (if they weren’t the same person), merged with God’s will and was safeguarded by Authorities. The clergy was depositary and administrator of God’s will, interpreter of “natural order” of things, voice of the truth and source of moral rules.

The Church strengthened its power both as a great owner of largely inalienable lands and as cultural and moral bonding agent of new class composition. Counter Reformation’s burden of gloom descended on entire society, with censorship, Inquisition, Index of Prohibited Books, clergy’s control upon consciousness and customs through the confessional, decay of publishing, persecution of dissidents and irregulars, torture, stakes for witches and heretics, clergy’s monopoly upon culture. The clergy had monopoly upon care of peasants and women’s mind, feelings and customs, upon children’s education and culture in general.

Peasants were isolated from city workers. The bourgeois or anyway the well - to - do people of city and the landowners largely became social figures united in the same person with connected moral and intellectual doubleness.

Counter Reformation gave the Pope and its Church a body of functionaries (the clergy) more selected, homogeneous for conception of the world (doctrine) and moral precepts, more centralized and with a better defined hierarchic structure, more disciplined, with a better formation systematically cared in special schools (Seminars for diocesan clergy), closely bound to celibacy. In conclusion, it was a party in the modern sense. But he didn’t form as a vanguard reunited on the task of a social promotion of a class. It formed in order to restructure a traditional force by its traditional command, which made use of traditional authorities, and means it had for doing it. It was as a restructuring of a defeated army by its command in order to get a new army able to fight, as the restructuring of a country by its State in order to give it new life, as were the reforms many “enlightened” sovereigns did in Europe in Eighteenth Century. The Order of Jesuits, founded by Ignacio de Loyola (1491 - 1556) was the sample department of general restructuring that Pope carried out in his clergy.

Hegemony upon peasants, children’s education, and spiritual direction of women, social functions that Church monopolized, gave it an unlimited field of recruitment of its clergy. On the other side, for peasant children to enlist in clergy became a way of social promotion and alleviation of economical and social condition for their families. Clergy’s social role and prestige made ecclesiastic career a coveted and profitable outlet for urban family as well.

In conclusion, in Catholic countries Counter Reformation created a modern international party at Pope’s disposal. It was constituted by territorial troops (diocesan or secular clergy), by specialized mobile corps (order and congregations: the regular clergy), by auxiliary mobile female corps (sisters congregations), and by a staff constituted by Roman Curia, its emissaries and higher degree prelates. Only between 1789 and 1848, when with French and European revolution this system of keeping clerical hegemony upon the masses failed and outburst, Vatican changed over to unite in particular organizations also the part of the masses that was remaining loyal to it (Catholic Action, other diocesan organization of laics and finally laic orders) for preserving them from contagion, for using it to exercise the old power and, if possible, to drive back to obedience the rest of masses that slipped it. However, this will have large development only within the new role that Roman Church and Vatican will assume in Italy and in rest of the world in imperialist era of capitalism. For speed and wideness, decay of Catholic countries’ international role was proportional to how much strictly Counter Reformation imposed themselves within them. On the whole, in Europe the peninsula had the worst destiny, even if different in various zones thanks to political subdivision.


4. In class structure established by Counter Reformation in peninsula there were premises for preventing the struggle for independence and unity to become also a movement for agrarian revolution, the bourgeois revolution of peasants. Because of its commercial and cultural relations urban bourgeoisie was the part of population that more felt need and advantages of independence and elimination of political subdivision and frontiers of little States, which the peninsula was divided in, within a Europe formed by great national States. However, because of its relations with peasants this same bourgeoisie was absolutely contrary to a peasant revolution: it would be the target of bourgeois revolution in the countryside. This united it to clergy that was the real warrantor and bearing pillar of its dominion upon peasants thanks to its intellectual and moral hegemony. Without religion and clergy administrating it, it will remain nothing but the permanent resort to repression and terror in order to hold peasants at bay. So, during all Risorgimento, which is since about half of Eighteenth Century to 1870, clergy continued to intellectually and morally direct peasants, women and children. The male urban population, particularly the well - to - do people, got divided in believers and unbelievers. But also unbelievers supported clergy, Church and Pope, in order to safeguard social order. So the struggle for independence and unity of the peninsula, which in the decade 1859 - 1870 led to constitute the Reign of Italy, was headed by urban bourgeoisie, Catholic or not. However, this bourgeoisie was dragged in this enterprise by the general evolution of Europe with which it had deep traditional connections on economical and cultural field. That is why Italian Risorgimento has been called “passive revolution”. The Moderates were promoters of this political orientation: to change the political arrangement of the peninsula without changing its social structure, to impose the necessary modernizations to Church in order to avoid the radicalization of social fight, and to safeguard its social role.

Peasants were always the overwhelming majority of population, but the struggle for unity and independence was carried out also against them. Several times, Austrian imperial government and Pope threatened to unchain peasants again liberals, promoters of unity and independence, through decrees of land confiscation in favour of peasants and excommunications. However, they were vain threads, because both of them had more to lose by an agrarian revolution in the peninsula than by liberals’ victory. Anyway, there grew the liberals’ fears and the panic they already had facing peasants movements.

In fact, all peasants movements of Risorgimento (in 1769, 1799, 1808, 1821, 1848, 1860) had ownership of land and, generally, agrarian relations as principal object and motive (16) . But the anti unitary and anti bourgeois groups headed and defined their political targets. Obviously, those groups didn’t have will or capability to lead an agrarian revolution that necessarily had to be a bourgeois revolution: it would have eliminated relations of personal dependence in countryside and established mercantile and capitalist relations, starting from confiscation of lands in favour of peasants. Consequently, peasant movements found themselves at odds openly and bloodily with the political forces really bourgeois, promoters of unity and independence, and were defeated. The war of “Brigandage”, that lasted almost two decades starting from 1860, was the peasant movement territorially more widespread (it concerned the entire continental South) and lasting. The army of new Italy and the National Guard had more fallen than in all the three wars of independence (1848-1849, 1859-1860, 1866). The fallen on peasants’ side were many more, but they weren’t even registered. The unitary State continued for decades to consider every peasant protest as a threat to unity and independence of country (an “outrage to constitution of Italy”) and savagely repressed it. So it happened in 1878 for peasant demonstration of Mount Amiata where soldiers killed Davide Lazzaretti in cold blood. Still in 1893, at the time of Sicilian Fasces, Prime Minister Crispi and his fellows accused peasants of anti unitary aims and repressed them savagely. In this context in western Sicily, Mafia became consolidated as not regular force ensuring order on State’s account and under its high supervision (17)

Fundamentally, the question if unify or not the peninsula, in which form and how was debated and resolved within the ambit of various Italian States’ ruling classes with some involvement of urban working classes. In this context, it’s obvious that Moderates (Historical Right Wing) would have the better of the promoters of republic and of a “democratic revolution” which, without agrarian revolution, was a groundless and weak proposal (18)

Pope and Church were officially contrary to unification of the peninsula, but in reality Church was very divided. The Moderates took advantage of general Papacy’s weakening in Europe during the Eighteenth Century: owing to Enlightenment, to reforms introduced by “enlightened sovereigns” (among which the Emperor of Austria himself), to suppression of Company of Jesuits in many countries and finally to French Revolution and Napoleonic Empire. Particularly these latest events led a considerable part of popular masses to separate from religious conception of the world and from Church. Furthermore, in 1848 the Moderates definitively upset anti unitary clerical forces thanks to fatuous adhesion of Pius IX to liberalism and movement for independence and unity. That adhesion didn’t last much, but was “enough to desegregate the Church’s political - ideological apparatus and to lose faith in itself: it was the politic masterwork of Risorgimento and one of most important points of resolution of nodal points that until then prevented to concretely think to the possibility of an Italian unitary State” (A. Gramsci, Texts 3 and 24, Notebook 19 , 1934-1935, p. 1867 and p. 2013, Einaudi 2001, op. cit.). It was a masterwork which neo - Guelph movement led the way: its leader, Vincenzo Gioberti (1801 -1852), became even Prime Minister of Piedmont between 1848 and 1849.

Finally, the Moderates monopolized and, as a matter of fact, made the Republicans of the Action Party work under their direction: Garibaldi, Mazzini, Crispi, etc. Without an agrarian revolution the Action Party had no possibility but to cooperate to the revolution directed by Moderates, consciously or not, willingly or not. As a matter of fact, the Historical Right Wing kept the direction also in 1876, when officially country’s government was taken by the Left Wing. In fact, this one followed the general lines indicated by Historical Right Wing on all most important matters. Transformism (a kind of Great Coalition of that day) showed Left’s subordination to Right also in terms of parliamentary combination.

Which were the consequences of Moderates’ direction in Risorgimento and of anti - peasant character they gave it? Which changes it produced in country’s classes and in their internal relations?

The Risorgimento wasn’t directly a revolution in social relations. It was only a different political arrangement of the peninsula (its political unification) and a different insertion of it in political and economical European context. It extended to the entire country the regulations of internal policy that monarchy of Savoia had already introduced in its dominion. However, when unity was done, in order to consolidate and strengthen the outcomes of Risorgimento, the Moderates themselves had to start up a series of transformations and works (road and railway communication network, national school system, armed forces, industrial development, etc.) that put in crisis the productive relations. Land market had a great drive, land became a capital and its revenue compared to that of capitals invested in other sectors, relations in the countryside were more and more changed in mercantile and capitalist relations. The mass expulsion of peasants from agricultural work (with the following “overpopulation of the countryside”), recruiting of peasants for public works, emigration abroad, cities’ industrial development and internal migrations changed country’s class composition.

So, Italy’s independence and unity started a process of social transformation that popular masses underwent. Not only they didn’t promote it, but they were also prevented to understand its nature. Through up and downs and with not told tribulations and suffering, social relations in countryside and in the entire country became mainly bourgeois. As a matter of fact, everyone who, in Italian Communist movement, talked of “completion of bourgeois revolution” and went to find the “feudal remnants” in order to support its line, even unintentionally stood against the only further transformation the Communist movement could and ought to carry out in our country: the socialist revolution (19) .

We’ve already seen that class composition established in Italy by Counter Reformation excluded the condition for promotion and direction of an agrarian revolution by bourgeoisie: the establishment of bourgeois revolution in countryside with elimination of Church and other feudal remnants. Post - Unitarian developments definitively eliminated the conditions for a revolution of new democracy. The great internal migration after the end of the Second World War, from countryside to cities and from South to North, emptied the countryside and reduced peasants to a little part of country’s population. It doesn’t resolve the peasant problem: it eliminated the peasants.

In a broad outline, the effects of Moderates’ direction in Risorgimento were three:

- the feudal remnants established by Counter Reformation lasted for a long time and contaminated the most important political economical and cultural aspects of Italian bourgeois economic - social formation, characterizing it also after its disappearance;

- capitalism development was slow and hard, despite the favourable legacies of Renaissance: for a long time the mass of population suffered the torments of capitalism development and of its deficient development as well;

- the new State never affirmed its full and only sovereignty: it was created and still lasts a condition of plural or limited sovereignty.


1. The Church was the most beneficiary of moderate and anti - peasant character of Risorgimento. The Moderates didn’t carry out with energy and, given their nature, couldn’t carry out with success an activity to eliminate or at least reduce Church’s intellectual and moral hegemony upon peasants, women and a part of urban population. Bourgeoisie’s struggle for the intellectual renovation of country was limited to unconnected, often sectarian and elitist, private initiatives. There was almost no initiative on moral level, on the level of individual and social behaviour, to promote a moral adequate to the conditions of modern society. The bourgeoisie renounced to formulate and promote in terms of moral, of principles and rules for individual behaviour) the whole of social relations (of civil society) that its State protected with violence and expressed in juridical terms in its lawmaking. The little that bourgeoisie did with public school had limited effects because it concerned only schools frequented by a minority of the new generations: illiteracy, Church’s influence in lower schools especially in countryside and permanence of a widespread system of colleges and schools managed by clergy prolonged Church’s hegemony in new generations’ intellectual and moral formation. The State limited itself to form candidates of ruling class’ higher level: in order to even little be equal to their tasks they had to have an intellectual and moral formation different from the one it imposed to women and popular masses’ classes through the Church.

New State’s lawmaking and even more its application by Public Authority and Administration protected Church’s interests and supported its integration in new conditions of country’ richness. Church and its Roman “black nobility” transformed, on their conditions, their traditional land and real properties in new financial richness.

In Risorgimento and in following decades not only there completely lacked the mobilization of the masses to improve their conditions, education and the hygienic and sanitary conditions and all the other aspect of mass initiative that a peasant revolution and confidence in themselves would have developed in millions of people. On the contrary, Church, State and a great part of ruling class joined for mortifying, discouraging and repressing the practical initiative and, backward, intellectual emancipation of men and women’s mass. The emigration from countryside to city was systematically used for strengthening ecclesiastic hegemony also in cities: the parishes utilized their role of employment agencies to extend ecclesiastic control upon workers and other labourers of the city.

Furthermore, a lasting contraposition then began and after kept between population’s mass and the Authorities. They presented themselves only or mainly with their carabineers, tax collectors or bailiffs. This contraposition was aggravated by compulsory military service for an enemy State imposed after Unity, and by action of instigation and boycott promoted for a long time by Church and other anti - Unitarian groups whose social power (richness, prestige and often public offices) the Moderates entirely respected. Particularly, on one side Church got richness, privileges and power from State Authorities, and on the other assumed attitude of protector and spokesperson of popular masses in front of Authorities in a systematic position of blackmail.

Our country’s unitary history is marked by this development in any aspect, in the South and in mountain zones of Centre and North more than elsewhere. Since the Risorgimento and on, it was the rising Communist movement with its leagues, mutual aid association, cooperatives, clubs, unions, trade union headquarters and its party which got the role of promoter of popular masses’ practical initiative, of their emancipation from a superstitious and metaphysical conception of the world and of their emancipation from moral precepts coming from social conditions of old days. Little by little it formed a vanguard of workers who liberated themselves from the filth of the past supported by strength and prestige of State, Church and other ruling class’ parallel organizations. These vanguards acted with limits, mistakes and hesitations, but also with tenacity, heroism and continuity. Instead of using their liberation for their own personal emancipation and career, they organized themselves to multiply their forces and spread more widely the intellectual and moral reformation necessary to build a Communist Italy.

2. In Italy, monetary economy was already much developed and monetary richness was abundant and concentrated when the Risorgimento began. However, it was only little used for capitalist investments. The scarce availability of capitals for investments is a mourn repeated all along our country’s history after Unity and that bourgeois historians, clericals or not, complaisantly lavished in their history manuals. As a matter of fact, capitalist entrepreneurs and even State had to draw largely on banks of loan and investment and stranger Stock Exchanges for financing investments and Public Debt.

Just Moderates’ direction prevented the creation of necessary political and class conditions for canalization of country’s monetary richness towards country’s economic and civil development, and for making fiscal taxation transparent, fairly prorated and equal to Public Administration’ spending. Until the second post war period, landowners continued to squeeze incomes and personal performances they had squeezed until Unity out of peasants. Where have these incomes got? To a great extent, and Church is the most macroscopic instance, landowners weren’t capitalist who invested in industrial enterprises what they squeezed out of peasants. They were parasites that continued to waste as they did before Unity, in the cities or abroad. The financial speculation, usury, land and estate speculation, financial investments abroad, treasuring, expenditures of rich people, Church, and Authorities for consumption, luxury, pomp, and entertainment and prestige expenses continued to absorb large part of country’s monetary richness and working forces, so as rhetoric, theology and art of pettifogging continued to absorb large part of its intellectual energies.

The Church remained promoter centre and main source of ruling class’ parasitism, which in 130 years of unitary history contaminated and still contaminates the entire country through thousands channels and capillaries, absorbs a great part of its productive forces, occupies great part of its working force and imposes its evil shadow and mark and lays down the law everywhere in the country. Not by chance in Italy charity, favours and alms are ever been and still now are in inverse proportion to popular masses’ rights and salaries. It’s the “benevolent conservatism”: workers are on rich people’s mercy, and the rich must not exaggerate - the feudal culture presented by Church with its Sunday best wear! The protection money Mafia and other criminal organizations pretend, is just the specific form of this general state of parasitic exploitation (20) . If it’s true that in each capitalist country the consumption occurs in opposite way, it’s founded on idlers’ fantasy and vices, and not on producers’ well being, this is so accentuated in Italy to create one of our country’s specific qualities (misfortunes, maledictions, “anomalies”). The more rigid, old and anyway out of the concrete conditions are the morals officially taught and imposed by the Church, the more asocial, primitive and dissolute are the real practice and behaviour.

Coherently with Moderates’ orientation, the new State assumed Public Debts and other charges and financial commitments of old State towards their exponents, directors, courtesans and agents. It lavishly compensated the damage they suffered by old States’ suppression of, to buy their favour or mitigate their hostility, as it was best shown by the example of Pope and Church. This expenditures were added to those the new State had to do to create the condition of a modern and independent State, with the least bit of authority in European context (road and railway network, armed forces and police, school system, entertainment expenses, support to industrial and scientific development in the sectors basic for State independence, etc.). Furthermore they increased them: for instance, let’s see the surplus of higher-grade officials and public dependents already in first years of the Reign. Instead of getting resource from the pockets of parasitism they found and drain them, Moderates widened Public Expenditure to finance and enlarge old parasitism that became a new scourge.

The inherited and new charges together hugely inflated Public Expenditure. Corresponding to it, the Moderates increased the taxes that in first decades principally weighed upon peasants. These ones and the compulsory military service increased their hostility towards the new State. So, a more favourable ground for manoeuvres and blackmails was created by anti Unitarian forces, first of all by Pope and Church, even if they were the most beneficiaries of Moderates’ politics. The peasants’ hostility, outcome of objective conditions and instigated by old Authorities and particularly by Church, made necessary further expenses for public order and national security (we’ve only to think at the war to “Brigandage”).

The narrowness of internal market is another mourn repeated all along the entire history of our country after Unity and that bourgeois historian, clerical or not, complaisantly lavished in their treatises. Which did the source of such narrowness was?

Still for many decades after Unity peasants were the majority of population, and they were overloaded with old charges and new taxes beyond all limits. The total load was about doubled with Unity, according to reliable valuations (21) . Peasants’ condition was worsened by the fact that, at a certain point, in order to find funds, the State put up for auction the public and convent’s lands, so suppressing the “civic uses” (pasture, forestage, etc.) that peasants enjoyed there from immemorial time. Until then the civic uses, together with convent meals, were sources from where the mass of peasants, particularly the poorest and even more in the worst years, brought them in enough to live on. So, given these conditions, it’s obvious that peasants did not buy agricultural tools or capital goods for improving their work productivity or consumer goods. They were content with little and they try to produce that little directly, by themselves (natural economy). This was the first reason of narrowness of internal market.

In fact, the internal market was constituted by 1. capitalists’ demand for investments and public expenditure for buying goods, 2. by capitalists and parasitic classes’ demands for their consumption, 3. by urban families and workers’ demand for consumer goods and tools, 4. by peasant families’ demand for consumer goods and tools. The capital creates part of its market just breaking up from agriculture auxiliary and complementary activities (spinning, weaving, production of tools, building, manufacturing agricultural products, etc.) that within a natural economy peasant families do for themselves and their masters. The capital raises these activities to independent productive sectors of mercantile and capitalist economy, which sell their products each other and to peasant families (social division of work). This latter internal market’s quota (peasant families’ demand) was important for Italian post Unitarian capitalism because the first two quotas largely resorted to most advanced European countries, owing to their nature and a long tradition. Furthermore the role of internal market increased by the fact that after completion of Unity of Italy began the Great Depression (1873 - 1895), with connected stagnation or even reduction of foreign market.

3. The new State never fully established its sole sovereignty upon the entire living population within its borders, even if this one had little or no local autonomy. It neither wanted to establish its sole sovereignty nor trusted to have force for doing it. In North and Centre of the country it took in its own account exertion of violence, repression and maintenance of public order and counted on Church that hold women and peasants at bay, upon which it exerted an effective intellectual and moral direction. This Church’s direction upon peasants was less effective and strong in South. Here the State supported different social forces zone by zone, the ones that were able to keep peasants at bay, to dictate law and rule and make observe them. Obviously the State had to consent each one of those forces to dictate its own law and rules and to make it observe in its own way, even if within a limited, mobile and fluid acknowledgment of State’s supremacy. (22)

The Church was the main cause and most beneficiary of new State’s limited sovereignty as well. Already at completion of Unity, the Moderates recognized exemptions, immunities and extraterritoriality to Church and committed publicly themselves and by law to respect them. With Guarantee - Act (1871), the new State left to the Pope its authority (judicial, police, military, fiscal, etc.) upon a part of city of Rome (the Leonine city) and other buildings and lands in the surroundings. The State committed itself not to exert authority. In fact, its residents did not participate in the Plebiscite that approved annexation of Rome and Lazio to the Reign of Italy: we must remember that in 1789 the French Revolution confiscated the feud of Avignon and the surroundings, which had been Pope’s seat for around a hundred years, with no compliments and compensations. The State also placed at unquestionable Pope’s disposal, 50 millions of lire at year, more than the taxes the Pope drew from Papal States. (23) .

As a matter of fact, the Church, headed by Pope, continued to work in the entire country as a sovereign power, a State in the State, with its network of functionaries covering the entire country starting form centre, until most remote villages, advantaged by the fact that now there were the new State’s police, magistracy, penitentiary administration, operating in the peninsula, which made respect its interests, power, speculations and prestige and took responsibility about it. The functionaries were selected, formed, nominated and dismissed by Pope’s unquestionable decision or of some superior functionaries (bishops) by him delegated for it. They enjoyed of revenues by diocesan and parish goods, of public building and other prerogatives and powers upon the population (baptisms, marriages, funerals, etc.). The new State was content with establishing that superior functionaries (the bishops) nominated by the Pope had to have State’s approval (that never lacked, for tacit consent), in order to enjoy benefits, powers, immunities, warrants, protections and exemptions guaranteed by State Authorities.

On one side Church fomented antagonism and rebellion, on the other was becoming more and more exigent, threatening to do worse (in its international intrigues and instigation of peasants and women), levering on moral subjection and fear it aroused in the Court and the greatest part of ruling class’ higher leaders. In fact, they were mostly pious people on which threats of excommunication, of torments of hell in afterlife tomorrow and of God’s curses at once in the earth had a great effect. On the contrary, they, God and the Church had absolutely no problem to rip their fellows off. Thanks to this situation Church, Roman “black nobility”, Pope’s relatives and trustees and other exponents of Roman Curia on theirs or Church’s own account shared in the “sack of Rome” (land and estate speculation) that took place in the decades after Unity, and in financial speculation which scandals since then on repeatedly upset the entire country’s financial and bank system, until latest businesses Sindona (Italian Private Bank), Calvi (Ambrosian Bank), Parmalat, Fazio. These Church’s activities have not only financial effects. They paralyze judicial system, which have to stop every time it crashes into Church’s exponents. They limit legislative power, which had to restrain itself every time provisions concern Church’s interests that however are present in every field. They condition investigative apparatuses. They throw a shadow upon reliability of the entire Italian financial and State system. Obviously all the national and international adventurers interested to do it avail themselves of this situation.

The situation of double or limited sovereignty determined by Church contributed to maintain and create other sovereign powers in the country. Sicilian Mafia is the most famous (apart Church itself) among oldest ones. Starting as power as a matter of fact recognized and delegated by Italian State in Western Sicily, afterwards Mafia had widened its field of action in USA, Italy and other countries.

The present situation rises from this condition of limited sovereignty, which Italian State is in since its birth. Under Italian State’s apparent formal sovereignty, in Italy there are territories and social relations where its law isn’t in force. A series of sovereign powers, independent from Italian State, are operating. Every one of them dictates its own rules and has at its disposal its own means for imposing its will, as well as for exerting an extra legal influence on State Authorities and Public Administration. This is widely infiltrated by every one of the sovereign powers, which have at their disposal men who owe them their career and role in Public Administration and so act accordingly to directives of a power who doesn’t officially takes any responsibility of the operations and behaviours carried out by the people it rules. Vatican is the main of these powers. In our country today there is no place or ambience where he couldn’t gather information and exert its influence. In the country it has an influence much more scattered, effective and centralized than the State has. Furthermore, it can avail itself of a great part of State structure and Public Administration.

After Vatican there follow US imperialists, Zionists groups, Mafia, Camorra, ‘Ndrangheta and other groups of organized criminality and any one who has will and means to take advantage of the situation. The vicissitudes of Masonic Lodge P2 showed a way to do it.

However, the double sovereignty State/Church has a particular character. Its history went through different phases.

1. The phase of armistice State/Church, resumed as for State in the Guarantee Act, as for Church in the line of non expedit (24) . It lasted since about 1870 to 1898. State left to Church time and conditions to reorganize its forces in Italy and all around the world, but within the bourgeoisie the currents willing to promote an own direct hegemony upon the popular masses carried some weight; the separation between the bourgeoisie’s left wing and the rising Communist movement wasn’t yet sharp.

2. Through private agreements between authoritative exponents of two fields (as the Gentiloni pact), the bourgeoisie recognized as a matter of fact its need to maintain and strengthen Church’s hegemony upon peasants and woman for holding workers and the rising connection workers - peasants at bay. This phase nearly lasted since workers - peasants’ rising of 1893 - 1898 until 1928. The Catholics shared in parliamentary elections and activity in support of government. At a certain point, by clerical part itself, under papacy of Pius X (Giuseppe Sarto 1835 -1903 - 1914) was aired the idea to let women vote for facing Socialists’ electoral advance. In 1918 the State starts again to officially set aside loans for Church.

3. Through Mussolini’s mouth, bourgeoisie officially recognizes the Church particular sovereignty in exchange of its official and public commitment of fidelity towards State Authorities - on the base of a vow done to God that Church could release its functionaries from when it wanted to do it, while crimes against the State did by them were protected by immunities and anyway were invalidated by prescription. Lateran Treatise, Concordat and Financial Convention signed on 11th February 1929, opened this phase that lasted until 1943. The Church officially renounced to pretend old Papal States’ restoration and in compensation of lost taxes had paid cash 750 millions of lire, a milliard in bearer Treasury Bonds and an endless series of privileges, properties, rights, exemptions and immunities.

4. It’s the phase of State’s indirect subordination to Church through Christian Democracy, nearly lasting from 1947 to 1993. Italy became a new kind of enlarged Papal State. The Church was closely allied to US imperialism, which was present in Italy also directly, with its own forces. It directed country indirectly, through its party, the Christian Democracy. This one exercised papal authority within the limits consented by country’s real class composition and internal and international relations of force resulted by the defeat of Nazi - fascism by Communist movement. In return Vatican didn’t bear any responsibility for the consequences of its government and didn’t “pay” for it.

5. It’s the present phase, characterized by a more direct intervention by Vatican in country’s government. In 1993 the political crisis overwhelmed Christian Democracy’s regime constituted at the end of Second World War. Berlusconi “went directly into politics” for saving its industrial and financial empire from the collapse which is threatened to be drawn in by the ruin of his puppet, Bettino Craxi, thanks to whom it was built. But the circumstances obliged also Vatican to commit itself directly in country’ government. So we are at present times, of Christian democracy’s regime’s putrefaction, which venoms stink our country, and of Communist movement’s rebirth within the second wave of proletarian revolution advancing all over the world.


12. It’s useful to quote one of Antonio Gramsci’ texts of his Prison Note-books (Note-book 1, Text 93, note 4, p. 2518 Einaudi publisher, Turin, Italy). Gramsci reports this exemplary talk between a prelate of Curia and a zealous Catholic of the intellectual kind. This one moans about the roughness he hear told by the priest while celebrating a marriage:

“Why, monsignor, does the Church ask us to believe such things?”

“The Church - he answered - doesn’t ask me or you to believe that”

“But there are things hard to believe, even in Gospel”

“Yes, as a matter of fact there are many exaggerations in Gospel too”

“But - the zealous man replied sincerely scandalized - Bible and Gospel are base of all, spring of Christianity, and we are all Christian, aren’t we, monsignor?

“We are prelates,” answered he.

The moral is that prelates have not to believe, they have to make the masses believe. It’s the same rotten doctrine that two Italian philosophers Croce and Gentile put as a guide of school politics during Fascism: the Church has to teach the masses to be religious, we philosophers teach the rulers what is true.

13. Where is French Revolution born? So answered the Catholic review La Civiltà Cattolica (7th September 1929): “...most of all because of a great part of French Aristocracy and bourgeoisie, because from this ruling class’ corruption and apostasy until Eighteenth Century came popular mass’ corruption and apostasy in France, also then coming true that regis ad exemplum totus componitur orbis (everybody finishes by follow king’s example, editor’s note). Voltaire was the idol of that part of aristocracy corrupted and corrupting its people, whose faith and decency it was getting scandalous seductions, and so cutting its own throat. And even if they became theoretical opposition to the rise of Rousseau with his subversive democracy contrasting Voltaire’s aristocracy, the two streams of apostasy - as between two wicked coryphaei - seemed to start from opposite mistakes, flowed in one same practical and fatal conclusion, in swelling revolutionary stream.”

In these words we can recognize the hypocrite profession of faith of many Italian political leaders of today, scoundrels like Pier Ferdinando Casini, Irene Pivetti, Silvio Berlusconi, people who lecture to “common people” about indissolubility of marriage and Christian virtue of chastity with all torments, scruples and disasters occurring to whom do not take it seriously, while they happily live together in double or triple weddings.


14. For instance, in peninsula Machiavelli’s works were printed for the last time in 1554. The last edition of Boccaccio’s Decameron was in 1557. From then on many novelists’ and poets’ works were edited only in reduced format. The works of Giordano Bruno, Tommaso Campanella (1568 - 1639), Giulio Cesare Vanini (1585-1619), Galileo Galilei were printed only out of the peninsula (in Germany, France, Holland). The great publishers disappeared from the peninsula. After Galilei, scientific research declined: the trial against Galilei (1616) has had its effect. Ecclesiastic censorship affected painters too.

15. By then in Italy, cities were many and populous and so they stayed, but without becoming industrial cities. Still in Twenties of Twentieth century in Italy the percentage of urban population was around twice as much as in France, even if in Italy the industrial development was still very much lower than in France. It was exemplary the case of Rome and Naples, two of the biggest cities, were there was no or little industrial production. Urban population was closely connected with the parasitic character of Italian ruling classes and Church’s important role.

16. On the subject, see E. Sereni, Il capitalismo nelle campagne 1860-1900, the review of Giovanni Ansaldo to La rivoluzione meridionale, of Guido Dorso, in Il lavoratore , Genova, 1st October 1925, the relation of Sonnino and Franchetti on their enquiry on Southern Italy (1875), the relation of Stefano Jacini on its Inchiesta agraria . See also the dialogue with a Sicilian monk after landing at the isle Cesare Abba referred in Da Quarto al Volturno. Noterelle di uno dei Mille , quoted by A. Gramsci in its Prison Note-books (Text 43, Note-book 1, p.40. Einaudi, op. cit.)

17. Regarding origins of Mafia, see Cenni sulla questione della mafia , in Rapporti Sociali n. 28 (July 2001) p. 31-34. It will never be enough remembered that Italian bourgeoisie told history of Risorgimento in an incomplete way, deforming it to glorify itself, Monarchy and Vatican. The management of Archives, the scarce or no use of them and the long secret that covered them open the eye to everybody wants to see.

18. Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872) was uninterested in the problems of agrarian revolution, as it’s very well testified by its letters to Italian Workers’ Societies. Regarding to it, see the criticism of Mazzini’s position Karl Marx did in his letter to F. Engels of 13th September 1851 and in that one to J. Weydemeyer of 11th September 1851. All these letters are quoted in Note 18 to the Text 43 of the Note - book 1 of A. Gramsci (p. 2476, Einaudi, op. cit.).

19. The fourth of the Theses of Lion, approved by third Congress of old Italian Communist Party (January 1926), and drafted under direction of Antonio Gramsci, states that in Italy “there is no possibility of revolution but socialist revolution”. It’s a thesis that the revisionists led by Palmiro Togliatti (1893 - 1964) put back into the drawer during and after Resistance.

20. One of the important differences between workers’ capitalist exploitation and its preceding forms is the fact that the capitalist directly intervenes in organization and direction of work. Therefore he brings all the social patrimony of knowledge and arts that ruling class has in choice and setting of productive means, in organization of working activity, in planning products and in entire activity around production intended in strict sense of the world. The specific and typical intellectual of capitalism is organizer of production, intended in large sense of the world. Instead, a parasitic ruling class limit itself to extortion of “protection money”. But obviously we need to know why Italian productive bourgeoisie accepted and accepts to pay “protection money” to those parasitic classes, particularly to Church. It accepts to share the yield of exploitation because parasitic classes give a contribution to keep workers quiet, which is an essential thing for it. Today, old parasitic forms of exploitation confound themselves with most modern ones: also the typical bourgeoisie of imperialist era collects coupons on its share and bonds without directly intervention in working process.

21. See E. Sereni, Il capitalismo nelle campagne 1860-1900 , ed. Einaudi 1968.

22. In order to better understand the situations of double sovereignty so created in each zone, we have to think to relations between the Nazis forces of occupation and Black Brigades in Republic of Salò in 1943 - 1945 in Northern Italy; to relations between Israeli Zionist forces which occupied Southern Lebanon for ten years and quisling Lebanese forces; to relations between the forces of colonial powers and indigenous quisling troops.

23. The Guarantee-Act (1871) provided that the State had stopped to pay this sum yearly into the bank account opened at Pope’s disposal if he wouldn’t begin to draw it within 5 years since law was approved. The Pope was very careful not to touch such a fund: it would have mean to recognize the new State and the end of Papal State in front of the other European States, particularly of Austro - Hungarian Empire with whom he intrigued against Unity of Italy and blackmailed Italian State. Even so, Italian State continued to pay the sum yearly until 1928. In the light of this, it’s also more indicative of real relations the fact that State tolerated every license, speculation and crime in estate and financial field by Church and Roman “black aristocracy”. So the State itself removed any need to accept its generous contribution by Church. At the same time, the State ripped peasants and other workers off with taxes...also for setting aside the 50 millions which Vatican didn’t care of, thanks to the estate and financial speculations that State itself tolerated and favoured!

24. The non expedit was the formula by which Pius the Ninth forbidden Catholics to officially cooperate with the new State. But also this “not participation of Catholics” means that the great majority of the ruling class, from government to high bureaucracy, was constituted by people devoted to Vatican far as servility, but participated “personally”: Vatican requested them every kind of services but didn’t take any responsibility for the directives it gave in the kitchen. It was one of most huge instances of double morals: in municipal administrations it was less easy to control things in the kitchen and manage everybody in a hidden way (that is the reason of both State and Church’s hostility towards “local autonomies”). In those cases Vatican didn’t hesitate to create Catholics’ coalitions, as the Roman Union for the administrative elections in November 1871.