Communism and Social-Democracy in Search for a Common Vision of Europe

  • Abstract:
    Recent researches undertaken by Maud Bracke, Silvio Pons and others have emphasized the fact that during the late 1960s and early 1970s, Italian Communists (PCI) have elaborated a new thesis calling for closer cooperation between Communism and Social-Democracy in the common struggle against Imperialism. The so-called “allargamento” (enlargement of the World Communist Movement) was aimed at legitimating electoral alliances between Western Communists and other leftist parties in the context of international détente. Also, as the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe began its complicated route towards Helsinki, Italian Communist leader Enrico Berlinguer defined his party’s international policy in terms of “active détente” – referring to the gradual overcoming of bipolarity in Europe. Both evolutions were strongly encouraged by the Romanian Communists, interested in undermining Moscow’s patronage of the Eastern bloc. Drawing on recently declassified archives, this paper argues that Nicolae Ceausescu, leader of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR), adopted the Italian theses and tried to approach Socialists and Social-Democrats in Western Europe, much to Moscow’s discontent. He argued that European security could not be based either on bipolarity nor sectarianism. Rather, PCR claimed, security in Europe can only be based on leftist bases, involving a close cooperation between Communists, on one hand, and Socialists and Social-Democrats, on the other hand. Both PCI and PCR used the idea of Europe for purposes of political emancipation, to fight off both Soviet and American domination of the continent. Ceausescu defended Willy Brandt’s course of Ostpolitik even from 1967 – against Soviet pressures – and often correlated PCR’s position in world affairs with that of PCI’s, trying to attract Western Socialists and Social-Democrats towards a common program. His efforts, as well as cooperation with PCI, helped pave the way for future Euro-communism and offered a leftist replica to Charles de Gaulle’s vision of “Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals”.