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Confronting AmericaThe Cold War between the United States and the Communists in France and Italy$
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Alessandro Brogi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834732

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877746_brogi

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The Cultural Cold War at Its Peak: Mass Culture and Intellectuals, 1948–1956

The Cultural Cold War at Its Peak: Mass Culture and Intellectuals, 1948–1956

(p.157) 5 The Cultural Cold War at Its Peak: Mass Culture and Intellectuals, 1948–1956
Confronting America

Alessandro Brogi

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the importance of the Cold War struggle over ideas and mass culture, which was as crucial as the confrontations in the political, economic, and military arenas. The United States strove not only to demonstrate cultural superiority over the Soviet Union but also to defuse widespread anti-Americanism in Western Europe. The French and Italian Communists privileged cultural resistance because they recognized that their leverage was strongest on those issues. By the late 1940s, however, both the Communists and the Americans had come to realize that culture was the most elusive element in their confrontation. Even so, both concluded that a core challenge came from their opponent's “soft power.” Recent literature has covered separately each side's actions and debates in the cultural Cold War. The purpose of the chapter is not to revisit these debates in detail but to add perspective to the ideological cultural struggle by juxtaposing and comparing the perceptions and responses from both sides of the Atlantic.

Keywords:   cultural Cold War, mass culture, cultural superiority, anti-Americanism, Italian Communists, cultural resistance

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