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Voices of Europe Milton mair American broadcaster and lecturer author and professor of social research from the University of Frankfurt has been traveling throughout many of the countries of Western Europe recording the voices of a great number of people on a wide variety of subjects. Today in Rome he interviews Senor Renato me aly Renate merely is 40 years old and which is quite unusual with a background such as his has never been in prison. He is a small sober young Roman very conservatively dressed in a dark matching suit and tie is married and the farm father of a 3 year old son. You might take senior merely for a bank clerk in Rome whose boss thinks well of him and who if he goes on as he is at the bank will someday be assistant cashier and after 50 years of faithful service you might expect him to receive from the hands of the president himself a gold watch. But in all this you would be deceived for Senor me aly is the director of the foreign section of the Communist Party of Italy. He was born in Padua the son of a Salesman graduated from the university there in
mathematics and physics became a teacher and joined the Communist Party in 1934 and went to France. He was never a fascist in 1943 he returned to Rome participating in the struggle for liberation of Italy from both the Nazis and the fascists. He became chief editor of the Communist Party newspaper and is now in the central headquarters of the Communist Party in Rome in charge of the foreign section. Here is Milton Mayer senior me. Why are you a communist. Well. I'd like to answer your question not in a person way. I'd like to answer like a simple communist I mean like one of the two millions and half members of the Communist Party of Italy. But to say that I should say before a few things about the communist party in Italy I should let you know something about the rise and development of communism in Italy
and I think that this is necessary because the observers political observers abroad do not know too much about us. So far as I can see of course everybody knows that we are the biggest party in the western world. But the explanation given too that. I'm not very clear and there are not sufficient. According to my point of view. Produced inside her. Some political observers saying that we are strong because. Of that unknown probity. Because the world left us in an economic honest distress because of political inexperience or going to 20 years of fascism. There is some truth in that statement. I do not deny it but this is not enough to explain why we are strong and the fact has proved correct. Because we seem observers who used to say those things two years ago I don't know what other concern when they are
noticing that in spite of all the changes which have taken place after the war we still had a great great party and we are getting stronger and stronger in spite of all what we can or can be said against us. Why are we strong. I must say that is not easy to answer that question not even for a communist like me. Its not easy because there are many reasons completing each other. That of course economic and social and political reasons the main one maybe is the political one the fact that you were not born yesterday. We have more than 30 years of life and struggle here in Italy and if somebody does not take care of that point he will never understand why the communists are so strong in our country. We have been fighting against fascism. And I must say that we have been the only party fighting continuously against fascism. There have been many years where when there was no party
anybody fighting against the fascist regime against Mussolini most of the people when I was a boy told me that it was useless to fight because the regime was so powerful they thought Mussolini was. Doing whatever he wanted to do. Nobody could ever object. Do that so that most of the liberals around me as you said maybe I'm looking less like a Bush wasn't and the younger Bush was and I mean middle class man. Most of the people around me told me that I was stupid I was. The CIA may be innocent but my way of thinking was entirely wrong. Nothing could be done against fascism anyhow. I've seen the communists fighting and the experience proves that the first time God has been successful at least in one way because all the sentences against communism has proved to be a good from the same good push on for the commies themselves. Maybe I'm not being too clear in that way but let me give you some players you
see. There have been many sentences against the Italian anti-fascist during the 20 years of fascist regime here in Italy. My sentences you mean convictions to present conviction to prisons work among 85 percent of that sentences. Where against communists we had 4000 people sent to jail 8000 people sent to concentration camps. This is not a big figure I know but still it's something remarkable when you're so young when you think that we were the only ones fighting for that. That many parties give up they saw that it was useless to go on. Anyhow. The seeds. That we've been able to put on the ground of Italian Kountry in that time has been very fruitful. Later on it proved to be successful. Didn't the want of liberation because of the time the Communist Party had a regular organization was already prepared to fight to do something. Why so that the
parties were rather more than power. These were simply ideas that were simply viewpoints and nothing more than that they were lacking any sort of a good decision. That gave us a jump that give us a lead and that gave us a chance to improve our situation the fact remains that after the war we were very strong but not to be compared to what we have today. Our fee our membership for instance soon after the end of the war was around 90000 people in northern Italy and 300000 people in southern Italy where today we are two million and a half. That's a big push on. And I see that this is due to the policies which have been followed after the war. And of course this cannot be explained entirely by saying that this is due to the fact that Italy has too many problems to settle and that Italy has a big unemployment figure and so on. Of course that all the three all the reasons I've been mentioning Now are there is something not. It's not enough
to say that these are good grounds for a communist to improve. You must admit also that there is a good policy of the communists to explain the bad guys. Do you make the best use of it and to go ahead and this is my point of view. Senior Malay is your party has your party gained ground steadily in the post-war years. How is it affected for example by the. Marshall Plan expenditures in Italy the stabilization of the currency and the PayPal ban or prohibition of Catholics as members of the party. Well I would like to answer review if you figures first of all. Soon after the war at the first convention the party I would membership was 1 million and half it was in 1946.
Then came as you know the split with the government the cane then came the Marshall Plan. Later on we had the general elections which proved to be a success for the Christian Democrats. In what year was that. In 1948. Yes i'm now. We have two million have. That shows that there is a steady improvement of our membership. But if we give up. Let us let it for a moment forget the figures of our membership and come to the electorate to the votes we are able to parliament to govern in the elections when even that way shows that we have been improving steadily. For instance we had. Two general elections one in 1946 and the 190 forty eight. The first general elections which took place in 1946 was joined with a referendum on the institutions of Italy. We had to select to be a cook to be a republic or a monarchy. At the time that big selection was more or less something we had to prove who
were for the change and who have not for a change. So the progressive and the radical parties were all together for a change in the institutional character of Italy and we have been able to gather 12 millions vote for the Republic against 10 million for the monarchy. I must say that out of the 12 million votes for the Republic eight millions and half or even more were gathered by the communists and socialists together and I'll tell you why this figures conference because simul team is there with the referendum. We had the election of the new parliament. And gathering together governing the votes again by the sorceress and communist you get the figure of eight million half girls but shows that this was our strength in 1946. Now two years later we had again general elections. But I mean why do things happen. First of all we were sexpots from the government
we were no longer sharing responsibilities in the government. And when I say we I mean the communists. I'm the Socialist Party the Socialist second meanwhile. That has been the mansion planning to Italy which was more or less an international affair. Concerning that exactly our way of handling political affairs in Italy. As you know the Communists were not against foreign aid to Italy but it went against uncontrolled foreign aid to a very what you mean by a senior merely. Well I mean simply this We wanted to have good relations with the United States and we of course we realized but it was necessary for us to get some assistance from them. But we did not want any link whatsoever any string whatsoever between economic assistance and our political leadership. We did not want that the help coming from the United States should mean to our country the Setian to political freedom.
We do not want that. Marcia Bunge meant as you pass meant that Italy could not have any government except the one which is liked by your country. We want to the government like by the Italian people. I don't say like by the companies I say something like presenting a reality. The mood the mentality the hopes of it telling people what has been the effect of the Marshall Plan on the economy of Italy has it not improved and stabilize the economy. Well once again I would like to answer with something years we had two millions of unemployed people before the Masher and we still have two million today. And I could go on and mention something on which is even worse. We had many factories working before the masterplan and many factories have been shut down after the crash and because the weather thought an economic crisis of course they were maybe an economical on the competition
feel international competition fear and they can't admit that they could not compete with industrial outputs. But certainly they were economical so far as the workers were concerned at least they were givings food they were given were too large to be talent people and the very fact that the official figures of unemployment have shown that there is no solution no improvement whatsoever of our big problem which is the one to give work to the talents. It's just to me an evidence of the failure of the master plan. If that was a if that was the objective of the Marshall Plan. Anyhow. Coming back you see the question you raised before the question of the improvement or the development of communism. I would like to say that in 1948 elections we had confirmed the same position. We were not thrown back as maybe you thought at the time. We had again eight million on half board. And now what do we find. We find that the results have proved
that we have been growing. We were 30 but at 33 percent of the total vote. Now we gather around 40 percent of the total votes. And this is not on the percentage. There is even an ad released on our membership on our electorate that say we have been able to gather more votes today than we had four years ago. Of course this is not enough to outbalance the Christian Democrats this is not enough to say that there is. A chance that we can rule the country today. But we are very confident by going on the same path in the same way but we will achieve a. Political majority through parliamentary waves unless somebody will prevent us from doing it. Let me I ask you no senior merely about. The future of Italy. If the Communist Party does succeed in obtaining a parliamentary majority.
We in America are very strongly anti-Communist. There have never been many Communists in America and I would suppose today there are only a handful and the almost unanimous view in America. I think I'm safe in saying that. Is that. First of all. Communism is a revolutionary movement one which will stop at nothing in order to get and to keep power and that they history of communism in the Soviet Union both in its inception in 1917 and ever since has been the proof that
communism is of necessity and iron dictatorship denying all democratic civil and religious liberties to human beings. Further than that we have the word of Marx and Lenin at least. The great theoreticians of modern communism that communism is and must be openly anti-Christian and must destroy the Christian religion as the in Marx's words opiate of the people. And finally that all of the Communist talk in these years about peace keeping peace and making peace.
This tremendous piece of offensive all over the world is nothing but a screen. But there is no evidence whatever in the behavior of the Communist Party in those countries where it has power or where it is fighting for power. That it is really a peaceful movement or intends to be one. And I should add that in all of these views that we have regarding communism we have a very clear impression that communism is not only a movement of revolutionary anti-Christian dictatorship but in addition is a world revolution and that the communist parties of every country are simply the tools of the Saudi
government. There isn't a fair sized nutshell senior mi elite is the attitude of I think most Americans. Well I'd like to answer. As an Italian columnist and make me let me underline the word Italian because first of all I would like to tell you that I'm terribly afraid that most of the Americans do not have a very clear picture about the Italian situation so far as I can see from your press reports which comes to us. I do not find that they are serving their purpose by presenting a false picture of our situation. You see you are telling me you're asking me if we are. Or if you have not a bloody revolutionaries a movement which feels that its doctrine is based on violence and on the whole you
the idea of overthrowing the government through violence. Well I could answer you by quoting what our leaders are saying but this would not prove anything. The words are words. The facts are facts. And now. When you tell me that we want to do that I must deny it because here in Italy really the Tongan communists do not think that they can change the situation through revolution. On the contrary they believe that they continuously Bishan not through violence but by convincing the people of that need over changing the social economical and political structure of Italy. I could tell you and give you a lot of instances which have been proving during these years that we were really fighting for that aim that we were really doing whatever we could do you know them to achieve that day. But why do we think in that way why do we
really do we really believe that we need to convince of people. Because I what experience tells us that if the people are not convince you cannot change anything. There is no longer any chance today of changing the world by a factor of violence or violence cause violence. And you just trying to model what you achieved today. And that means nothing to us. And then we have a scientifically view of the society. We understand that first of all. But should there be any bloodshed. We would be the great tone of it. We would have to be very dearly for that and we don't want it. We are human beings we want to live and we want to live very peacefully. So this will be against us. And second we would achieve nothing by violence that would serve our enemies aren't the people our opponents. We are quite confident that going on a steady in the way we have been following up to now we will achieve the majority. So we are sincerely against any
violence whatsoever. The second point if I do remember. The one you've been raising is that we are looking for dictatorship. Now there might be some confusion about the word dictatorship. As you know our theory believes that there is or already had an existing Beefeater sheep. The Marxist classics co-owns had the data sheet. We even what you call democracy in your county because they find that this democracy is nothing but a way of concealing the power of one class maintaining the full power of the society for a long time. We've all the big available means and we see that today there is a dictatorship in Italy so far as I can see by the bourgeois against a great many joint of the people. So these are dictated by the minority against the majority. Now pardon my interruption again senior me early. Would you say that the Italian people are aware of the existence of what you call this
dictatorship of the majority by a small minority. They are the reason I ask a question is that I don't believe that the Americans the majority of a mare. Ricans have any such a view of their own situation or the majority of Englishman and I might go even further. I don't know I have not been to a communist country but I wonder if the majority of the people in countries which are now governed by the Communists are not. Well aware that the majority is governed by an iron fist by a very small minority. While it's difficult to say something about countries which are far from us it's difficult for me and for you I think. But so far as it is concerned I can answer you by saying that at least 40 percent of the people those voting for us. I've convinced that he's practically a dictatorship by a
minority against them. And they feel that this is an addicted issue not because it looks like a dictatorship but because it acts like a dictatorship because it gives the same result given before with a fascist dictatorship. You see the time was missed. We have here meter an experience which thanks to your history you don't have up to now. We had the experience of fascism and then the body is able to notice that what happens today with a Christian democratic government is exactly or more or less similar so far as a political part of the practical life of the man in the street is concerned. It's similar to what happens to him during the fascist regime. He's got the same troubles he got the same lack of hoping for the future. He's got the same sense of futility of what goes on anyhow. He does have a certain amount. Of civil liberties. Personal freedom does he not senior merely Which as far as I know
does not enjoy in communist countries. I wouldn't even I wouldn't even say that because you see here we enjoy freedom to some extent. So long and that freedom. We're not in danger the position of the government for instance when there is a foreign general coming here in Italy we are not entitled to demonstrate not even on the street but also in any private club or anywhere you like. We are coming back to the same situation of martial law more or less or a political. Prevention of anything or any liberty which existed during the fascist regime. So how can people believe that this is freedom when they are exactly deprived of freedom in the very moment they want to demonstrate the sensual views they have about peace about the future of their country. I must honestly say that it has been a very sad experience the one we had after the war. Many people have been disappointed because they have seen. But on the central problems you are
deprived of freedom. Exactly when the government doesn't want you to be free of expressing your views and watching your mouth me. What of. Communism in Italy and the Christian Church the Catholic Church what is is the Communist Party and the religious are is it not. If it is not I would say that it was betraying Marx and Lenin. Well this leads me if I remember the first point you have been raising the plank of our doctrine concerning the religion. I want you to be mine but of course our masters our classics have always made a very clear distinction between religion and politics. They always said that so far as the religion is concerned on this one difficult ground we are against. We believe that the explanation of the causes or the reasons of the future of mankind cannot be relied on on something which is on beyond
human signs. As you know well I don't know if I made clear my views but what I want to say is this that out general philosophical views and religions are well known and we are of course opposing the views held by most of the religion. Outside or around the world. But this does not prove to be that we are against the religion as a fact. As a. As an account is an expression of an human creed. We do not find that we need anybody free to believe as he wants to believe but he wants him to make a distinction between his religious beliefs and his political views. And if I can give you just an instance most of the time communist at Catholics they were phonies and threaten as you reminded me two years ago by the Vatican by the pope because they were considered as a world model excommunicated but in spite of the fact nothing changed. As you can notice
we were 2 million hard 2 years ago and we are a little bit more today. Scenery away. What will the communists do with they came to power in Italy which the fascist did not do. And the Christian Democrats have not done well here we come to our program and so far as I can see. While our program is very simple I would say it's already condensed you know a very public statement. This statement is the official Constitution of the Republic of Italy. This is our problem. We want the constitution to be carried out to the last world. The constitution first of all says that Italy must avoid war. The Italy will be handier will be led to a policy of mutual understanding of all the countries in the world that we want to have international cooperation. We don't want to have enemies whatsoever in any kind or any
side of the world. This is our policy. We want to be friends to any country in the world. Second the Constitution tells us that we have. To give work to all the time and we want to fight unemployment. We want everybody to work. Everybody got to get a home everybody to get a future. The Constitution touches there must be no land and productive and we want a land to be distributed again according to the needs and called into the hoax of Italian land workers. I could go on but wait I could even say like a joke if you want. But we our program is nothing but the same problem of the government. There is only one slight difference and the difference is that we have decided to carry on my same ground the government today is not decided to carry it out. And facts are proving it. Thank you very much Senior merely. The program you have just heard is made possible under a grant from the fund for adult education an independent organization established by the Ford Foundation. These programs are prepared
and distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters in the interests of better international understanding. This program was introduced by Norman Mekhi and this is the end AB tape network.
Voices of Europe
Renato Mieli
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
An interview with Renato Mieli, an Italian communist leader.
Series Description
Interviews with noted Europeans on a variety of subjects, conducted by Milton Mayer, American author and broadcaster, lecturer and professor in the Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University.
Broadcast Date
Global Affairs
Communism--Italy--Rome--History--20th century.
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Interviewee: Mieli, Renato
Interviewer: Mayer, Milton, 1908-1986
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 52-37-18 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:30
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Chicago: “Voices of Europe; Renato Mieli,” 1953-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “Voices of Europe; Renato Mieli.” 1953-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: Voices of Europe; Renato Mieli. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from