Nichols, Peter
April 1976
Foreign Affairs;Apr1976, Vol. 54 Issue 3, p511
This article discusses postwar historical trends in Italy's political crisis. It is important to assess where Italy is going on a level transcending the political groups. Since the war, the country has lived through several centuries. Italy awoke from her capitalist dream in about 1968 and 1969 when student riots and strike marked the end of acceptance by workers in the northern factories of the living and working conditions which a lack of planning had imposed. It was at that time that the unions took over a semi-policymaking role, calling strikes for housing, for transport, for social facilities in general instead of limiting themselves to pay and working conditions. The old society scarcely exists any more, but neither does a new one, because the upheaval of change, and the quite sudden refusal to continue to produce on the old terms, left confusion. Somehow, the whole conglomeration of regionalism, Catholicism, communism, the strongly increased demand for civil rights must come together to produce a completely new outlook. It is a lot to ask of a country which has already proved to be the most stimulating workshop of ideas in Europe since the war. It is a lot to ask when the country is suffering her worst political crisis since the war and at a time when recession makes the fragility of the economic system so clear. But it is Italy's historical destiny to be at the eye of the cyclone, a fate deserving the fullest understanding.


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