Filippo Turati, where is the critique?

I have assembled literature of and about Turati (the founder of the Italian Socialist Party) here, for your interest:

Although Italian leftcoms are aware that Turati at least still felt compelled to theoretically justify parliamentarism, they make no effort to engage his texts (despite Lenin in LWC writing that Turati caused Bordiga's anti-parliament position to have some ground). I checked some Italian leftcom sites in the hope to find some engagement– but found next to nothing. The title of one article says that Turati after WW1 is more socialist than the West European CPs after WW2: 'Il Turati 1921 avrebbe espulso per arcirevisionismo il Togliatti 1956' ('The Turati of 1921 would have dismissed the arch-revisionism of Togliatti 1956'). Also a note saying that Turati's marxism is more orthodox than Gramsci's.

We rely (more or less by necessity – mostly) on Lenin's and Trotsky's criticisms of Kautsky on Soviet Russia and the dictatorship of the proletariat, but where is the specific 'Bordigist' criticism of Turati's parliamentarism? I think this is a shocking gap in our knowledge, that ICT or other Italian leftcoms need to fill. The best way to fortify one's own position is in polemic with opponents. Turati was an opponent of a high calibre, therefore a critique of his views on parliamentarism would be very valuable. It is necessary to know the enemy.


There is a logical flaw to your argument, Who apart from incorrigible intellectuals and trainspotters has today heard of Turati? Why therefore engage with it? Let the social democrats argue for him and we might have to argue against him.

Like I quote Bordiga in my linked thread, Turati is considered among the calibre of a Jaures and a Bebel (or I would add, a Keir Hardie, an Emile Vandervelde, or a Morris Hillquit). So as is typical, there's a research foundation named after him:

The social democrats don't need to "argue for him", or for any of these figures, which are historical founders: probably every school child in a boring history lesson at school has once run across them.

They don't need to argue for Turati and justify parliamentarism, because they face no leftcom challenge, unlike Turati at the time of the rise of the early communists (with Bordiga).

They also don't study their own history, because they're opportunists who have no interest in "intellectual" stuff like historical memory. If there's a few social-democratic intellectuals who praise Turati, or even if there was a whole academic industry promoting Turati (which would perhaps be an improvement over Gramsci), then you could still argue that it would not be a political priority to oppose them; after all, their journals are behind paywalls, their conferences demand large fees, and their books are too expensive to buy for an ordinary worker.

Bordiga and the early communists didn't need to remind their audience who Turati was. Turati was who they opposed and defined themselves against. Just like Lenin didn't need to remind workers in Germany (or even world-wide) who Kautsky was. The ICT acknowledged the importance of debate topics such as parliamentarism, for example when it debated with the SPGB (even though SPGB is a tiny organisation). I would say the ICT, as defender of Italian leftcom tradition, has a special responsibility here.

Have the CWO already seen this recent piece by Martin Thomas on the AWL's site:

As its title suggests, it's just a historical survey of 'left communism', not really a polemic, so there is perhaps no need for a response by the CWO. I can't find much arguments in it, besides the usual, ie that left communist groups are tiny sects who live in a "bunker" awaiting the glorious day.

However, I think this example of 'engagement' proves my point, namely that we can't expect political activists that are part of, or work in, the Labour Party (or social democratic parties) to defend their stance (on electoral participation) in a serious theoretical way. They don't feel the need for it. They can even comfortably discuss the history of left communism (Bordiga etc.) in a detached manner. Therefore, like I said, I think it is necessary to take the offensive, not against some particular person today (such as Martin Thomas), however smart they may be, but against the highest proponents of parliamentarism, historically, such as Turati. And that's where the CWO (or its Italian partner) have a particular responsibility.