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Communist culture in France and Italy between 1945 and 1964

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  1. Introduction
  2. Popular wall paintings
  3. Painting in Society
  4. Instrumentalization and commodification

At the end of the Second World War, the French and Italian Communist Parties were among the major political forces of their countries. They won spectacular victories. The PCF became the first party in France, with 26.2% of the votes (that is 5 million voters) against 23.8% in SFIO in the parliamentary elections of October 1945. In Italy, the PCI was meanwhile the third party in the country, with approximately 20% of the votes in 1946. But soon, with the formation of blocks in 1947, unions between parties collapsed, and communist parties in opposition were rejected. They were nevertheless key players in the French and Italian politics in the post-war and achieved major success. Though this allows us to see the success of communism in both countries of Western Europe, the figures tell us nothing of why so many voters feel close to it, or what the concept of communism means to them, both ideologically and practically. If one truly wants to understand the political phenomenon of Communism between 1945 and 1970, we must try to look beyond the election results, alliances and the names of party leaders. We must look to communism as a cultural policy. According to Jean-François Sirinelli, political culture is "a sort of code and a set of referents formalized within a party or diffused more widely within a family or a political tradition." It includes, for Marc Lazar, ideas, values, symbols and beliefs, but also a multiplicity of rules and practices. Thus, by looking at this system of values and standards specific to communist groups in France and Italy, it will be possible to better understand their political action. But communist culture is also the culture at a scholarly level, which is to say all the artistic and intellectual people, were created, loved and valued by the Communists. In a Cold War context, that is to say in 1947, culture became a real tool, a weapon in the service of the communist bloc in the fight against the Western capitalist world. It is therefore appropriate to focus on the communist culture understood both as an anthropological concept, as defined in the first place, and like all cultural productions produced and validated by the Communists.

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