Language, symbols and myths

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.

From the cradle to the grave

This book is a study of the communist life and the communist experience of membership. The study places itself on the interface between the membership and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) by considering the efforts of the latter to give shape to that experience. For those who opted to commit fully to the communist way of life it would offer a complete identity and reach into virtually all aspects of life and personal development. In regard to the latter, through participation in the communist life 'joiners' gained a positive role in life, self-esteem, intellectual development, skills in self-expression, and opportunities to acquire status and empowerment through activities like office-holding or public speaking. The British Communist Party had a strong and quite marked generational focus, in that it sought to address the experience of Party life and membership at the principal phases of the life cycle. The Party developed rites of passage to guide its 'charges' through the different stages of the life cycle. Thus its reach extended to take in children, youth, and the adult experience, including marriage and aspects of the marital and family relationship. The Party did not disengage even at the beginning and termination of the life cycle. Its spokespersons advised communist mothers on birth and mothercraft, 'red' parents on childrearing, and addressed the experience of death and mourning within the communist domain.

Coriolanus in Budapest in 1985

explicitly and officially recognized. However, when Gábor Székely staged his Coriolanus at Budapest’s Katona József Theatre four years earlier in September 1985, such explicit public recognition was restricted by the system of ‘goulash communism’ which then prevailed. Under this system, Hungarians enjoyed relative material wealth, but were unable to express overt political dissent freely. 1 The

in Coriolanus

 3 0 2 Religious and moral values The image of Communism in Catholic doctrine In a country where the word ‘cristiano’ (Christian) has often been used as a synonym for ‘human being’ as opposed to ‘bestia’ (animal), Catholicism’s depiction of the Communists as ‘atei’ and ‘senza Dio’ (atheists and godless) helped to sharpen the contrast between ideological positions that extended beyond the sphere of formal politics. However, both historians and the contemporary observers of the battle between Catholicism and Communism have too often simply stated that Catholic

in Communism and anti-Communism in early Cold War Italy
The life of the adult activist

Linehan 05 13/6/07 11:32 Page 92 5 Being in a familiar place: the life of the adult activist Communists exist to overcome difficulties.1 ‘The old socialist sects out of which the Party is made, have simply the idea of getting on to the streets and preaching communism, and the rest of the time they meet together and chat … and if you go and talk with the ordinary members of the Party, they have not the faintest conception of anything except the instinct of revolution.’2 So stated the CPGB’s leading intellectual, Rajani Palme Dutt, at a session of the British

in Communism in Britain 1920–39
Abstract only

Linehan 10 13/6/07 11:35 Page 201 Afterword ‘It is the simplest thing so hard to achieve’, goes the final line in Bertolt Brecht’s famous poem,‘Praise of Communism’.Yet many British communists between the Wars felt the striving to realise their communist vision worthwhile, even though ‘the patents of their nobility’ lay far into the future as Max Eastman put it. Looking back on a lifetime of revolutionary activism which incorporated virtually all of the interwar years as an activist for the British Communist Party, the then octogenarian Harry Young paused to

in Communism in Britain 1920–39
From forced convergence to divergence

respective countries’ military and defense policies all the way until the breakdown of the Soviet Empire in 1989. Because communism, especially “late” communism, represents the immediate background to the countries’ current military and defense policies, it is important to discuss this period in some detail. As we will see, there are important and surprising continuities in the respective countries’ military and defense

in Defense policies of East-Central European countries after 1989
Communist couples and red families

solidarity and mutual support, a factor that will also be discussed in the chapter. Linehan 04 68 13/6/07 11:31 Page 68 Communism in Britain 1920–39 The marriage knot was probably the most salient family tie within the communist family network.There were certainly communist couples to be found at all levels of the Party structure, and at all stages of the CPGB’s development through the 1920s and 1930s. In terms of high-profile national or local figures alone, many of whom we have met at some stage in this book, we find Harry and Marjorie Pollitt, Rajani Palme Dutt

in Communism in Britain 1920–39
The quest for physical fitness

pride and pride in class and political mission. What the Party hoped would emerge from its instruction on health, physical fitness and diet, was the lean, fit, erect, composed, resolute figure traditionally represented in communist iconography.This chapter, by way of providing a comparative context, will look at representations of the ‘vile’ bodies of communism’s principal political opponents, the ‘fascist body’ and the ‘bourgeois body’. The CPGB’s interest in physical culture during the interwar years was partly motivated by the perception that capitalism’s innate

in Communism in Britain 1920–39
Youth and the Young Communist League

Communism in Britain 1920–39 recruiting school for future adult activists, the Party’s revolutionary reserve, its ethos, methods of work and practices came to mirror those of the Party. Another factor contributing to the austere atmosphere surrounding the early YCL was the Comintern and British Party obsession with workplace agitation over all other forms of activity. Although some responded positively to the circumstances they found in this early League and discovered therein a world of fulfilment and excitement, many other recruits, actual and potential, were put off

in Communism in Britain 1920–39