As the French Communist Party (PCF) moves ever closer to Moscow, the rift deepens among European communist parties. This split confirms that efforts to create a Eurocommunist bloc independent of Moscow have collapsed.
The French and the Polish communists invited their European comrades to meet in Paris later in April to express their support for Moscow. The invitation so far has bneen snubbed by the Italians, the Spaniards, and the Yugoslavs.
At the same time, the Italian Communist Party (PCI) is striving to replace Eurocommunism with a Euro-left. This would be a "third way" between Washington and moscow, joining social Democrats, socialists, progressive Catholics, and independent communists.
Back in May 1978, Chinese Deputy Premier Deng Xiaoping, referring to the "Eurocommunist phenomenon," stated: "We will have to wait until a serious crisis breaks out before judging the European parties' true independence from Moscow."
The test came with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. While the French Communists were exulting over the "liberation" of that Asian country from "American imperialism, feudalism, etc.," PCI secretary general Enrico Berlinguer went to Strasbourg to denounce the soviet act of aggression before the European Parliament.
For the first time ever, Italian Communists have referred to Soviet imperialism. In the past the PCI criticized Soviet behavior concerning the human rights and relations with East Europe, but it has never objected to the Kremlin's foreign policy moves in africa and elsewhere.
The present denunciation of the invasion of Afghanistan therefore represents an important turn. The Chinese Communists' reaction was to invite Enrico Berlinguer to visit Peking. He will leave next week at the head of an important delegation.
In its interpretation of the present crisis the PCI has found many points in common with the Socialists and as many points of disagreement with pro-Soviet communist parties such as the French or the Portuguese.
In the fall of 1979 Mr. Berlinguer had long conversations with Mario Soares and Felipe Gonzales, leaders respectively of the Portuguese and Spanish socialist parties. Last March 12 he met for two hours at Strasbourg with Willy Brandt, leader of the West German Social Democratic Party. Finally on March 24, at Strasbourg, he met with French Socialist leader Francois Mitterrand.
It is at Strasbourg, therefore, within the framework of the European Parliament, that the Euro-left has every chance of comimg into existence.
The Euro-left's premise is that world hegemony is no longer th exclusive affair of Washington and moscow. Europe and the nonaligned countries must become the champions of a peace based on justice and the reform of the world economic order.
The new alignment seeks to represent an alternative to the conservative forces that at present play a dominant role in Western Europe.
The Euro-left also means that the Italian Communist Party, as well as Santiago Carrillo's Spanish Communists, is moving closer to socialist positions and not vice versa.
* Unlike the French Communists, who consider the "imperialist" arms bad and the "socialist" arms good, the PCI makes no distinction between the two. It has condemned both the projected installation of US missiles in West Europe and the deployment of the SS-20 by the Soviet Union.
* The PCI supports the admission of Spain, Portugal, and Greece to the Common Market with the socialists but against the French Communists.
PCI and socialists agree on the need of joining all European progressive forces under one banner, while the French Communists seem to be nostalgic for the Cominform, an agency the Kremlin used to dictate the law to all communist parties. Former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev abolished the Cominform in 1956 .
The socialists are obviously satisfied with this turn of events especially because it further isolates the PCF and ridicules Georges Marchais's contention that Francois Mitterrand has become an "objective ally" of the right.
The French socialists, by promoting a Euro-left at STrasbourg, also hope to head off any attempt by Mr. Schmidt and MR. Giscard to chart the "Eruopean way."