The struggle in projects, ideas and symbols between the strongest Communist Party in the West and an anti-Communist and pro-Western government coalition was the most peculiar founding element of the Italian democratic political system after the Second World War. Until now, most historians have focused their attention on political parties as the only players in the competition for the making of political orientations and civic identities in Italian public opinion. Others have considered Italian political struggle in the 1940s and 1950s in terms of the polarisation between Communism and organised Catholicism, due to the undoubted importance of the Church in Italian culture and social relations. This book enlarges the view, looking at new aspects and players of the anti-Communist ‘front’. It takes into account the role of cultural associations, newspapers and the popular press in the selection and diffusion of critical judgements and images of Communism, highlighting a dimension that explains the force of anti-Communist opinions in Italy after 1989 and the crisis of traditional parties. The author also places the case of Italian Cold War anti-Communism in an international context for the first time.
This chapter defines the channels used to elaborate and disseminate propaganda, and reconstructs a history of the circuits and the most significant materials used to create and disseminate language. It places the press and propaganda sections of parties and mass associations in the more complex context of the media and communication agencies that participated in the making of Italian political identities, such as major political newspapers, publications and exhibitions promoted by the government and by foreign embassies, and the popular press.
This chapter highlights the extent to which a radical and absolute struggle such as the Cold War opposition of Communists and anti-Communists involves the aspects of religious faith and moral values. The theological anti-Communism promoted by the churches of Pius XI and Pius XII strongly influenced the perception of Communism in Italy. Communists were frequently seen as ‘godless’ sinners and immoral corruptors of the youth. Such common perception forced the Italian Communist Party to a reaction based on the claim of its full compliance to the inner spirit of the Christian message of charity and solidarity.
This chapter explains the importance of the values of freedom and democracy in the Cold War struggle between Italian Communists and anti-Communists. As soon as Cold War tensions broke down the ‘national unity’ of anti-Fascist forces, both fronts claimed to be the exclusive representatives of ‘true’ democracy, and compared their competitor with the defeated Fascist enemy. The Socialist–Communist alliance acquired the programme of ‘progressive’ (or ‘people’s’) democracy inspired by the experiments in Central and Eastern Europe, and made it the base for its opposition to the supposed Christian-Democratic ‘restoration’ of a new ‘reactionary clerical Fascism’, along with the defence of the guarantees for parliamentary opposition established by the republican Constitution of 1948. The anti-Communist front, on its side, found strong unifying motifs in the description of Soviet dictatorship and the ‘sovietisation’ of the countries occupied by the Red Army filtered beyond the Iron Curtain, and in their comparison with ‘totalitarian’ experiences lived by Italians in the past years.
This chapter discusses the importance of the ‘national-patriotic’ symbology and expressive codes for all the competitors in the Italian political arena during the Cold War. In the struggle between pro-Soviet and anti-Communist fronts, both sides used Italian national myths and iconic unifying symbols, such as the image of Garibaldi, in order to present themselves as the ‘true’ fatherland against their competitors, identified as the ‘fifth column’ and the ‘servants’ of ‘foreign imperialists’. However, after the disaster of Fascist expansionism and the horrors of a war nobody wanted to repeat, in any case the claim of a renovated decisive role in the world could not be presented according to the words of militaristic nationalism. It was rather conjured with the promotion of peace against the menace of a new invasion and a subsequent global conflict.
This chapter deals with the consequences of post-Second World War economic development on Italian political identities. The guarantee of economic growth in view of the prosperity of citizens became the main parameter for measuring the effectiveness of policy proposals. In Italy, the main political families presented the themes related to massive increases in production and living standards through the idealisation of opposing models. The representations of the Soviet Union and the United States were the points of reference through which different socio-economic concepts surpassed their opponents’ criticism of their attitudes and offered a positive proposal regarding the demand for an assurance of prosperity throughout Italian public opinion. The differing fortunes of these foreign models of economic and civil development in Italy can be understood through a comparison of the treatment that the party press and popular magazines reserved for them. In spite of Communist efforts to present the Soviet ‘myth’ as an effective model of egalitarian and participated development, any comparison with the real success of the American way of life was impossible, and even Communists proved to be influenced, though with doubts and critics, by the emerging force of post-war ‘Americanisation’