Edited By Lucia Bonfreschi, Giovanni Orsina and Antonio Varsori
‘Westpolitik’. Eurocommunism, and the Evolution of the Western European Communists’ Positions toward European Integration
‘Westpolitik’: Eurocommunism, and the Evolution of the Western European Communists’ Positions toward European Integration
Professor, University of Arkansas
Eurocommunism was founded on a certain idea of European “exceptionalism.” It aimed at aggregating the Western Communist Parties and inspiring a Europe that would be, in the words of Enrico Berlinguer, secretary of the Italian Communist Party (PCI), “neither anti-Soviet nor anti-American.” Proposing a “dynamic” interpretation of détente, the Eurocommunists advocated a gradual end to the Cold War divide in Europe. By seeking a connection with Western Socialism based on democratic principles, they asserted a social project that would find a “third way” between social democracy and Soviet Communism, accepting pluralist democracy while rejecting consumerist capitalism, thus contributing to a European “third force” that would truly distinguish itself from the two superpowers not only as a diplomatic actor, but also in its social construct. This sort of “exceptionalism” within the West, briefly endorsed by the French and Spanish Communists (PCF and PCE) – and never too convincingly by the French comrades – clashed with Communist orthodoxy, from the Soviet sphere, as well as from most Communist parties within the West; it was also opposed by most other political forces in Western Europe, and by the United States, which consistently worked on maintaining European integration under a transatlantic framework. At the same time, most US officials upheld their own notions of American exceptionalism, which, under the prevailing interpretations of either the realist Henry Kissinger, or the...
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