2:30pm Saturday 19 August

About this session

Eurocommunism emerged as a political trend amongst Western Communist Parties in the mid-1970s. The Eurocommunists severed ties with the monolithic USSR, and argued that the specific conditions of Western Europe called for an overhaul of communist political orthodoxy. Instead of a revolutionary confrontation with the capitalist state, workers and their parties could walk a gradual, peaceful road to socialism through democratic parliaments. While many on the left saw the movement as a radical break with the ossified Stalinism of international communism, in reality it was in line with the political practice these parties had been carrying out for decades. Rather than a sharp turn to the left, the new theory was a rehashing of the reformist arguments that had divided the Second International sixty years earlier.

Eurocommunism had only a brief moment in the spotlight, but its ideas have carried through to sections of the Western left today – promoted by the majority factions in SYRIZA, for instance, and the Democratic Socialists of America at the height of the Sanders campaign. This session will explain the origins and critique the arguments of Eurocommunism, and look at its lasting legacy on the left.

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