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"Amore or Dollars"? The youth policies of the Italian Communist Party and the outbreak of the Cold War (1947-1949)

With its more than 2 million members (1947), the Italian Communist Party was the largest political network in post-war Italy, and the strongest Communist Party in Western Europe. Young people played a significant role in the Party organization: in 1947 boys and girls between 18 and 25 made up 20% of its overall membership. Very prominent members of the Party, first of all the Secretary Palmiro Togliatti, paid great attention to the political education of these new generations. The pedagogical efforts of the PCI leadership were rather clear in the Party press for young people, that included a set of magazines, like “Gioventù Nuova” and “Pattuglia”: in their articles young people had to learn the Communist values, virtues and duties.
 Until summer 1947, when the PCI was excluded from the Italian government, the youth policies of the PCI were mainly focused on unitary Antifascism. The role models that Communist propaganda put forward for young people were first of all the young partisans who had lost their lives in the Resistance war. The Soviet Union and the Communist world, even if present, remained on the background. As in summer 1947 the national and international political situation changed, with the launch of the Marshall Plan and the Cominform conference in Szklarska Poreba, the tone of Communist magazines for young people rapidly shifted to a more militant and combative attitude. Especially after the electoral defeat in April 1948, open pro-Sovietism and fierce Anti-Americanism informed the pages of the Communist youth press. My paper will focus on this shift in the rhetorical and pedagogical aspects of the youth policies of the PCI between 1947 and 1949. By an analysis of the Party press for young people, I will try to stress how rapidly the cultural models promoted by the Party changed, in accordance with the Party political and strategic needs.

Friday 30 Oct 9.00-11.00 Session 4