Claudia Christiane Gatzka: The ‘New Man’ on the beaten path. The Political Mass Market as Proving Ground for Communists in post-Fascist Italy.


In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2012. Berlin: Aufbau Verlag, pp. 145-158.

In the course of its democratic transition toward a party of the masses, the Italian Communists had to prove themselves both good comrades and ordinary Italians. The article analyzes this double bind as an integral part of Gramscian and Togliattian thought and discusses its problematic consequences for the idea of a ‘New Man’ which was to be created under Communist auspices. The ideal comrade as a prefiguration of the ‘New Man’ ought to be an authentic part of the masses, showing strong links to the autochthonous traditions of Italian culture, but at the same time needed to act in the realm of intellectual progressiveness and moral superiority. The resultant compromise was a comrade who did not seek to become much different, only to become much better within all his social roles. However, the masses entering the Communist Party – which ensured its strength – forced party officials to accept the moral and intellectual deficiencies of their comrades on the road to proving itself to be an all-Italian party. Hence the post-fascist Communist ideal of a ‘New Man’ as well as the roads to reach him were deeply entangled with Italian traditions and conditions.

Über die Autorin

Claudia Christiane Gatzka, M.A., geb. 1985 in Leipzig, 2004–2011 Studium der Neueren und Neuesten Geschichte, Mittelalterlichen Geschichte, Politikwissenschaft und Europäischen Ethnologie. Seit 2011 wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin an der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin in einem von der Fritz-Thyssen-Stiftung geförderten Forschungsprojekt zum Thema »Wahlkampf als demokratische Alltagskultur in Italien und Deutschland nach 1945«.