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Bandiera Rossa: communists in occupied Rome, 1943-44

Broder, David (2017) Bandiera Rossa: communists in occupied Rome, 1943-44. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.2kwkevjw97pp


This study is a social history of communists in wartime Rome. It examines a decisive change in Italian communist politics, as the Partito Comunista Italiano (PCI) rose from a hounded fraternity of prisoners and exiles to a party of government. Joining with other Resistance forces in the Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale (CLN), this ‘new party’ recast itself as a mass, patriotic force, committed to building a new democracy. This study explains how such a party came into being. It argues that a PCI machine could establish itself only by subduing other strands of communist thought and organistion that had emerged independently of exiled Party leaders. This was particularly true in Rome, where dissident communists created the largest single Resistance formation, the Movimento Comunista d’Italia (MCd’I). This movement was the product of the underground that survived across the Mussolini period, expressing a ‘subversive’ politics that took on a popular following through the disintegration of the Fascist regime. Standing outside the CLN alliance and the postwar democratic governments, it reflected the maximalism and eclecticism of a communist milieu that had persisted on the margins of Fascist society. In the Occupation period this dissident movement galvanised a social revolt in the borgate slums, which would also trouble the new authorities even after the Allies’ arrival. Studying the political writing of these dissidents, their autodidact Marxism and the social conditions in which it emerged, this study reconstructs a far-reaching battle to redefine communist politics. Highlighting the erasure of the dissidents’ history in mainstream narration of the Resistance, it argues that the repressed radicalism of this period represented a lasting danger to the postwar PCI and the new Republic.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2017 David Broder
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
H Social Sciences > HX Socialism. Communism. Anarchism
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Zubok, Vladislav

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