Italians have been talking about the third way for thirty years, from our first center-left government in the early 1960s to the collapse of communism. But we spoke of a different kind from today’s: it was a third way between communism and social democracy or, more generally, between a radical or revolutionary program and the experience of social democratic governments in Western Europe. It was still a reformist way, but reforms were to be “structural,” aiming at the core of capitalism. In contrast to social democratic reforms, these aimed to be “destabilizing” reforms, disruptive of key capitalist equilibria, and seeking to set in motion a process of almost revolutionary change.
Actually, Italian communists were long suspicious of the radical overtones of the “old” third-way debate, because it was mainly fueled by left-wing socialists and gauchistes of various brands. Plain social democratic policies could not be recognized as fully legitimate by the Italian Communist Party (PCI), which sought to distinguish riformista—a bad thing, weak and social democratic—from good, communist riformatore....
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