Eurocommunism  (adjuncts sometimes referred to as  Gramscians  ) was a revisionist trend in the 1970s and 1980s in various Western European communist parties. They are claiming to be a leader in Western Europe. During the Cold War , they sought to undermine the influence of the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union . It was especially prominent in Italy , Spain and France .


The origin of the term „Eurocommunism“ was subject to great debate in the mid-1970s, being attributed to Zbigniew Brzezinski and Arrigo Levi , among others. Jean-François Revel once wrote that „one of the favorite amusements of ‚political scientists‘ is to search for the author of the term Eurocommunism“. In April 1977  Deutschland Archiv  Decided que la Word Was first used in the summer of 1975 by Yugoslav journalist Frane Barbieri, form editor of Belgrade ’s  NIN  newsmagazine. Outside Western Europe, it is sometimes referred to as „neocommunism“. This theory stresses greater „independence“.  [1] They are sometimes called „Gramscians“ because of their reliance on the theories of Antonio Gramsci rather than Vladimir Lenin .


Theoretical foundation and inspirations

According to Perry Anderson, the main theoretical foundation of Eurocommunism was Antonio Gramsci’s writing about Marxist theory  [2]  which questioned the sectarianism of the left and developing communist parties to develop social alliances to win hegemonic support for social reforms. Early inspirations can also be found in Austro-Marxism and its seeking of a „third“ democratic „way“ to socialism.

Eurocommunist parties expressed their fidelity to democratic institutions more clearly than before and tried to widen their appeal by embracing public sector middle-class workers, new social movements such as feminism and gay liberation and more specifically questioning the Soviet Union. However, Eurocommunism did not go as far as the Anglosphere-centred New Left movement, which had originally borrowed from the French  New Left  , but in the course of the events went past their academic theorists, largely abandoning Marxist historical materialism , class struggle and its traditional institutions such ascommunist parties .

The legacy of the Prague Spring

„Viva Dubček“ – demonstration against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia , 1968 in Helsinki

The Prague Spring and particularly its crushing by the Soviet Union in 1968 became a turning point for the communist world. Romania’s leader Nicolae Ceauşescu staunchly criticized in a speech the Soviet invasion , explicitly declaring his support for the Czechoslovakian leadership under Alexander Dubček and while the communist parties of Portugal , South Africa and the United States supported the Soviet position,  [3]  the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) strongly denounced the occupation.  [3] Even the leadership of the Communist Party of Finland  [4]  and the Communist Party of France (PCF), which had pleaded for conciliation, expressed its disapproval about the Soviet intervention,  [5]  with the PCF first time in its history.  citation needed  ]  The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) suffered a major split over the internal disputes over the Prague Spring,  [3]  with the pro-Dubček faction breaking ties with the Soviet leadership and founding the KKE Interior . The usually very pro-Soviet Communist Party of IrelandThe Eurocommunist split the Irish Marxist Society .

Early developments

Developments in Western European Communist parties

Giorgio Napolitano , prominent figure of the Italian Communist Party (until 1991) and President of Italy from 2006 to 2015

Some Communist Parties with strong popular support, especially the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) adopted Eurocommunism most enthusiastically. The Communist Party of Finland is dominated by Eurocommunists. In the 1980s, the traditional, pro-Soviet faction broke away, calling the main party revisionist. At least one mass party, the French Communist Party (PCF), Eurocommunism and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union ( until the end of the PCF) make a brief turn towards Eurocommunism in the mid-to-late 1970s).

The PCE and its Catalan referent, the United Socialist Party of Catalonia , had already been committed to the liberal possibilist politics of the Popular Front during the Spanish Civil War . The leader of the PCE, Santiago Carrillo , wrote Eurocommunism’s defining book  Eurocomunismo y estado  (  Eurocommunism and the State  ) and participated in the development of the liberal democratic constitution in Spain emerged from the dictatorship of Franco . The communist parties of Great Britain , Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria also turned Eurocommunist.  [6]

The PCI in the history of Moscow, which had already been developed in 1968, exhibited in 1968, when the party refused to support the Soviet invasion of Prague . In 1975, the PCI and the PCE had made a declaration regarding the „march toward socialism“ to be done in „peace and freedom“. In 1976, Berlinguer had a „pluralistic system“ (  plural  system) in Moscow and in front of 5,000 communist delegates described PCI’s intentions to build a socialism that we believe necessary and possible only in Italy „. The  compromesso storico  („historic compromise“kidnapping and murder of Aldo Moro in 1978, was a consequence of this new policy.

The Communist Party of Finland changed its leadership in 1965 with the leadership of the Stalinist Aimo Aaltonen , who had a picture of Berija in his office, to a „revisionist“, quite popular Trade Union man, Aarne Saarinen . The same happened when the Finnish People’s Democratic League changed its leadership, with the reformist Ele Alenius leading it. In 1968 CPFI (and) FPDL were the only parts to directly opposed the actions of the Soviet militarship in Prague in 1968, thus the two organizations split  de facto into two different parts, one reformist and one hard-line Soviet. What was peculiar was that the youth was nearly completely Taistolaist.  dubious – discuss  ]  Taisolins strongly believes that the Taistolaist strongly pro-Soviet movement named after their leader, Taisto Sinisalo , had equaled the power of the CPFI / FPDL was Eurocommunist. In 1984, the PCFI hard-line organizations were massively expelled from the already weakened party. Pro-Soviet hard-liners formed their own cover-organization, „Democratic Movement“. In 1990, the new Left Allianceintegrated the CPFI / FPDL, but FPDL: s ex secretary Alenius thing not to be member of it because they also took hard-line Taistolaists.

Western European communists cam to Eurocommunism via a variety of routes. Mikhail Gorbachev later called the Era of Stagnation , for some, it was their experience of feminism and similar action while it was a reaction to the political events of the Soviet Union . This process was accelerated after the events of 1968, particularly the crushing of the Prague Spring . The politics of relaxation also played a part. With war less likely, Western communists were under less pressure to follow Soviet orthodoxy yet also wanted to engage with a proletarian-like proletarian militancy in Italy’s Hot Autumn and Britain’s shop steward’s movement.

Further development

Eurocommunism was in many ways only a staging ground for changes in the political structure of the European left. Some – principally the Italians – became social democrats while others like the Dutch CPN moved into the political world and the French party during the 1980s reverted to a more pro-Soviet stance.

Eurocommunism became a force across Europe in 1977, when Enrico Berlinguer of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), Santiago Carrillo of the Communist Party of Spain (PCE) and Georges Marchais of the French Communist Party (PCF) put in Madrid and laid out the fundamental lines of the „new way“.

Eurocommunist ideas won at least partial acceptance of Western Europe. Prominent parties influenced by it were the Movement for Socialism ( Venezuela ), the Japanese Communist Party , the Mexican Communist Party and the Communist Party of Australia .  [6]  Mikhail Gorbachev also refers to Eurocommunism as a key influence on the ideas of  glasnost  and  perestroika  in his memoirs.


The collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War was practically all left in Europe on the defensive and made neoliberal reforms of the day. Many Eurocommunist parties split, with the right factions (such as Democratic or Sinistra or Iniciativa for Catalonia ) adopting social democracy more whole-heartedly, while the left strove to preserve some identifiably communist positions ( Communist Refoundation Party in Italy or PSUC viu / Communist Party of Spain ).


Two main criticisms have been advanced against Eurocommunism. First, it is alleged that Eurocommunists showed a lack of courage in the final definition of the Soviet Union (for example, the Italian Communist Party took this step in 1981 after the repression of Solidarność in Poland). This „timidity“ has been explained to many of the members and supporters of the Soviet Union, or to a  realpolitik  desire to keep the support of a strong and powerful country.

Other criticisms point out the difficulties the Eurocommunist parties had in developing a clear and recognizable strategy.  [7]  They observe that Eurocommunists have always claimed to be different – not only from Soviet communism, but also from social democracy – while in practice they were always very similar to one of these two tendencies. Criticism thus argues that Eurocommunism does not have a well-defined identity and can not be regarded as a separate movement in its own right.  quote needed  ]

From a Trotskyist points of view, Ernest Mandel in  From Stalinism to Eurocommunism: The Bitter Fruits of ‚Socialism in One Country‘ ‚  views Eurocommunism as a subsequent development of the decision taken by the Soviet Union in 1924 to abandon the goal of world revolution and The Social Union on the Social and Economic Development of the Union, the doctrine of “ socialism in one country „. According to this view, the Eurocommunists of the Italian and French communist parties are considered to be nationalist movements, who together with the Soviet Union abandoned internationalism .

From an anti-revisionist point of view, Enver Hoxha in  Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism  [8]  argues that Eurocommunism is the result of Nikita Khrushchev’s policy of peaceful coexistence . Khrushchev was accused of being a revisionist who encouraged conciliation with the bourgeoisie rather than a calling to be overthrown by the dictatorship of the proletariat . He also said that the Soviet Union is refusing to reject Palmiro Togliatti ’s theory of polycentrism encouraged the various pro-SovietTheir communist party to moderate views in order to join firms , qui in turn forced ‚em to abandon Marxism-Leninism as Their leading ideology.

More Generally, from the point of view of MOST revolutionary left-wing movements Eurocommunism simply Meant year abandonment of basic communist principles, Such As the call for a proletarian revolution , qui Eventually LED Many Eurocommunists to communism abandonment or Even socialism Altogether (by giving up their commitment to overthrow capitalism).  citation needed  ]  Such criticisms were strongly influenced when Eurocommunist parties scraped their communist credentials following the fall of the Soviet Union.


  1. Jump up^   Webster, Dictionary. „Definition of Eurocommunism“ .  Dictionary Entry  . Webster’s Dictionary . Retrieved 9 April 2013 .
  2. Jump up^  Anderson Perry, 1976. The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci. New Left Review., Pp. 6-7.
  3. ^ Jump up to: c   Hitchens, Christopher (25 August 2008). „The Verbal Revolution: How the Prague Spring broke world communism’s main spring“ .  Slate  . Retrieved 2015-01-02 .
  4. Jump up^  Tuomioja, Erkki (2008). „The Effects of the Prague Spring in Europe“ . Retrieved 2015-01-02 .
  5. Jump up^   Devlin, Kevin. „Western CPs Condemn Invasion, Hail Prague Spring“ . Open Society Archives . Retrieved 10 November 2014 .
  6. ^ Jump up to: b  Bucharin NOR  Selected Writings on the State and the Transition to Socialism  . Armonk, NY: ME Sharpe, 1982. p. xxi
  7. Jump up^  Deutscher, Tamara (January-February 1983). „EH Carr-A Personal Memoir“ .  New Left Review  . New Left Review.  I  (137): 78-86.
  8. Jump up^  Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism

Further reading

  • Neil McInnes ,  The Western Marxists  , Library Press, 1972, ISBN  0-912050-32-2
  • Neil McInnes ,  The Communist Parts of Western Europe  , Oxford University Press, 1975
  • Euro-Communism, Myth or Reality  , Edited by Paolo Filo della Torre, Edward Mortimer and Jonathan Story, Pelican Books, 1979
  • Antonio Gramsci ,  Prison Notebooks: Selections  , Lawrence and Wishart, 1973, ISBN  0-85315-280-2
  • Santiago Carrillo ,  Eurocommunism and the State  , Lawrence and Wishart, 1977, ISBN  0-85315-408-2
  • Roger Simon , Stuart Hall ,  Gramsci’s Political Thought: An Introduction  , Lawrence and Wishart, 1977, ISBN  0-85315-738-3
  • Michael R. Krätke, University of Amsterdan, Otto Bauer (1881-1938) – The Problems of the Third Way (  Austrian  ), on Otto Bauer and his Third Way as an Early Inspiration to the Eurocommunist Movement
  • Ernest Mandel ,  From Stalinism to Eurocommunism: The Bitter Fruits of ‚Socialism in One Country‘  , NLB, 1978, hardcover, ISBN  0-86091-005-9 ; trade paperback, ISBN  0-86091-010-5
  • Detlev Albers ua (Hg.), Otto Bauer und der „dritte“ Weg. Die Wiederentdeckung des Austromarxismus durch Linkssozialisten und Eurokommunisten, Frankfurt / M 1979
  • Enrico Berlinguer , Antonio Bronda , Stephen Bodington ,  After Poland  , Spokesman, 1982, ISBN  0-85124-344-4
  • Richard Kingsley (ed.),  In Search of Eurocommunism  , Macmillan Press, 1981, ISBN  0-333-27594-2
  • Carl Boggs and David Plotke,  The Politics of Eurocommunism: Socialism in Transition  , Boston: South End Press , 1999 (reprint) ISBN  0-89608-051-X
  • Ernesto Laclau , Chantal Mouffe ,  Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics  , Verso, 2001, ISBN  1-85984-330-1
  • Robert Harvey , „A Short History of Communism.“ New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2004. ISBN  0-312-32909-1
  • Frederic Heurtebize,  The red danger. Washington in the face of Eurocommunism  , Presses Universitaires de France, 2014. ISBN  978213061995-6