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date: 22 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The essay explores the activism of militants, mainly in the Italian Communist Party (PCI) and the French Communist Party (PCF), with some reference to the German Communist Party (KPD). It argues that militancy in parties that never came to power derived from existential choice in a way that was not true of activism in ruling communist parties. It shows how militancy changed after the defeat of fascism, with particular reference to youth federations. It analyses motivations for joining the party, as reflected in memoirs, and the psychological qualities that were required. It examines the activities of the local cells of the PCI and PCF—particularly, the importance of newspaper sales—and shows how in the PCI these activities centred on winning hegemony in society. It concludes that militancy was gradually undermined by rising individualism and privatization in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

Keywords: Italian Communist Party (PCI), French Communist Party (PCF), German Communist Party (KPD), militants, communist motivations, activism, party cells, party newspaper, individualism

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