The great vogue of Eurocommunism came to an end with the return of the French and Italian Communist Parties to positions of opposition to authority in the late 1970's, and the electoral confirmation that Spain's Communist Party would remain small. As the vogue of communism with a human face passed. The question of American policy toward Communists became far less pressing; yet the question will almost certainly require attention in the future. This is particularly true with respect to the Italian Communist Party, which remains powerful in numbers and flexible in policy.
Michael Ledeen examines Communist Party participation in Western European governments since World War II, and the ambivalent American foreign policy toward it. He concentrates on the Italian Communist Party: its history and its relations with the Soviet Union. Togliatti, Secchia, Gramsci, Nenni are identified as the major players in Italian communist and socialist politics. The author explores in depth why the United States has been reluctant to become involved in internal Italian affairs, and how this policy posture has strongly influenced in the development of communism in Western Europe.
Ledeen shows that the strategies of contemporary West European Communist Parties are now roughly similar to those of the immediate post-war period. He argues that American intellectuals are as uncritical of Eurocommunism as they were after the first flush of Allied victory in World War II, that the Carter administration's foreign policy was incoherent, and that the United States needs a consistent, ideological approach to communism--one that includes the capacity for action as well as reaction.