'We all miss you': Enrico Berlinguer in post-Berlin Wall Italy

Philip Cooke, Gianluca Fantoni

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Enrico Berlinguer, the former leader of the PCI (Partito comunista italiano - Italian Communist Party), who died in 1984, became the object of popular nostalgia in post-Berlin wall Italy. The paper accounts for the political, historiographical, and even psychological factors behind this nostalgia. The article also highlights how journalists and politicians, both right and left, have used (and abused) Berlinguer’s thought and ideas, making him either a symbol of the morality that is today lacking in Italian politics (the right-wing perspective), or a prophet of the struggle against a broken financial system (the left-wing perspective). Finally, the paper analyses the rise of a spontaneous cult of Berlinguer at grassroots level over the last thirty years. The kaleidoscopic variety of interpretations regarding Berlinguer’s political legacy is ultimately due to the inability of the Italian post-communist leaders to reconcile themselves with their political past, leading to a splintered and conflictual identity among the Italian post-communist Left in general.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)130-146
Number of pages17
JournalTwentieth Century Communism
VolumeAutumn 2016
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2016


  • partico comunista italiano
  • italian politics
  • Enrico Berlinguer


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