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L'officina comunista. Enrico Berlinguer e l'educazione dell'uomo (1945-1956)

Alessandro Sanzo

Roma, Aracne, pp. 363, euro 15,00 2003

This book, the publication of a tesi di laurea, analyses the conceptions and strategies of political education of Enrico Berlinguer as head of the Federazione giovanile comunista italiana from the outcome of the Second World War up to 1956. The author extensively situates the question in the context of the developments taking place in the Italian Communist Party and its affiliated organisations at the height of the Cold War and the Stalinist era. The choice of this topic is very fortunate: it fills in a gap in the literature by linking Berlinguer's early political experiences to some of the major themes of his politics in the 1970s and early 1980s, such as the ?moral question?. Departing from a discussion of Berlinguer's own political formation (chapter one), the author moves on to critically analyse the policies of the FGCI as a profoundly biased form of education (chapter two). He concludes with a ? somewhat less critical ? view on the impact of the FGCI as a ?national educator? in the wider context of the democratisation of Italy after World War Two (chapter three). The great merit of this work is that it critically explores the PCI's Stalinism and the a priori world-view deriving from it: the paradigm of the inevitable defeat of capitalism, manichean and millenaristic thought, and the systematic construction of the myth of the Soviet Union and of Stalin. Berlinguer appears as an active player in the (re-)construction of these dogma's. This usefully puts into perspective the commonplace ?Eurocommunist? image of Berlinguer. Two shortcomings can be noted for this work, one of which is related to the use of primary sources. Sanzo combines published and unpublished primary sources: speeches and articles of Berlinguer and other FGCI leaders, Berlinguer's personal papers recently made accessible at the Istituto Gramsci and the archive collections of the PCI's leading organs. The archives of the FGCI itself, however, are not accessible. As a consequence, and despite use of the personal papers, an insight into the internal debates of the FGCI and diversification among its leaders, is gained only in a fragmentary way. The specific views of Berlinguer with respect to other FGCI and PCI leaders and his specific contribution to the educational debates, remain at times obscure. For example, the disagreements between Berlinguer and Giuseppe D'Alema in 1955 are not analysed. Secondly, the steady decay of FGCI membership during the 1950s (a drop from 468 890 to about 350 000 members between 1950 and 1956), is not highlighted as a research theme, although the question inevitably lingers in the background. By problematising this theme and by considering the longer term, the author might have offered a view on the causes behind the increasingly difficult relations between Italian communism and youth culture in the 1960s.


Maud Bracke