Browsing 06 Words of Power, the Power of Words. The Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in International Perspective by Issue Date
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- PublicationThe Faces of Militancy: Palmiro Togliatti’s Propaganda Portraits (1948-1964)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Cheles, LucianoIn the early post-war period, the Italian Communist Party (ICP), believing in collective values rather than in the cult of a charismatic individual, rejected any form of publicity centred on its leader, Palmiro Togliatti. However, the attempt on his life, in July 1948, triggered a cult which his party was happy to encourage. The present essay focuses on the use of the portrait as a means of promoting the leader. It will examine the posters and post-cards featuring his effigy that were produced by the ICP on the occasion of various events (for example Togliatti’s return to active political life after his attempted assassination, his 60th birthday, the 30th anniversary of the party’s foundation, the parliamentary election of 1953, Togliatti’s funeral) in order to show what image the party wished to project of its leader. The analysis of the visual sources of Togliatti’s portraits reveals the extent to which such imagery was dependent on that devised in the Soviet Union to celebrate Lenin and Stalin.
- PublicationIdeology and Discourse: Rhetorical Construction of Mao Zedong’s ‘New Communist Person’ (1949-1976)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Lu, XingIn his Marxism and the Philosophy of Language, Mikhail Bakhtin contends that language does not merely reflect the world, but actually constructs ideology of a society. The ideology of Chinese communism is disseminated through morally charged slogans, political campaigns, and the mass participation of political rituals. This chapter explores the discursive construction of ‘the new communist person’ by examining the speeches and writings of Mao Zedong (1893-1976), the paramount leader of the People’s Republic of China between 1949 to 1976. While vehemently propagating Marxist theory of class struggle and reinforcing class-consciousness into the Chinese mind, Mao’s discursive construction of ‘the New Communist Person’ utilized and appropriated traditional Chinese values and rhetorical resources. Through rhetorical features such as metaphors, analogies, role models, and guilt redemption, Mao successfully persuaded many Chinese people to become selfless, loyal to the Party, and dedicated to the communist cause. I will identify and analyze these rhetorical features. I contend that while Mao’s discourse has its moral appeal, it has also created a radical ideology and unrealistic illusion among the Chinese people. The forced self-criticism political ritual used to construct ‘the new communist person’ has brought humiliation to many Chinese intellectuals. Whereas Mao’s legacy lives on in today’s China, the discourse of ‘the socialist core values’, propagated by the current Chinese government has lost its rhetorical appeal due to ideological crisis.
- PublicationThe Language Beyond the Wall: On the Sovietisation of the German Language in the ‘ex-DDR’ (1945-1989)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Delli Castelli, BarbaraIn the four decades of division between the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG), processes of differentiation took place on ideological, political, economic and sociocultural levels. These processes were also reflected in the language and autonomous linguistic development of the two nations. Despite the many features that remained common at the level of the morphosyntactic structures, basic vocabulary and compositional norms, the GDR, under the influence of the Russian language and Marxist-Leninist doctrine, started to move in an autonomous direction – above all in relation to the development of the part of the lexicon most strongly linked to ideology. This was put into practice through a myriad of neologisms, foreignisms, structural calques and semantic adaptations, and through the recovery of terms that before 1933 had been used in environments related to Communism, the use of which strongly increased in the Democratic Republic.
- PublicationSocialism and Revisionism: the Power of Words in the Ideological Controversy between the Italian Communist Party and the Chinese Communist Party (Late 1950s-Early 1960s)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)
;Samarani, GuidoGraziani, SofiaIn 1962, in the wake of the Sino-Soviet split, an ideological dispute broke out between the Italian Communist Party (ICP) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and eventually led to the interruption of bilateral relations. Togliatti’s idea of a transition to socialism through democratic and peaceful means (the so-called via italiana al socialismo) was at the core of the Chinese condemnation of the Italian Communist Party’s policy as ‘revisionist’. Yet, divergences clearly emerged as early as 1959 when the ICP sent for the first time a high-level delegation to China to officially meet the leaders of the CCP. The joint document signed at the end of the visit was the result of a long process of negotiation that disclosed not only the Chinese dissent towards the Italian positions on ‘peaceful coexistence’ and the via italiana al socialismo, but also the difficulties of reaching a consensus over the terminology to be used and translated in Chinese. This chapter will focus on the ICP-CCP dispute as seen through the analysis of language, considering as main sources the Communist official press (Italian and Chinese), Italian and Chinese leaders’ speeches and also some relevant archival documents. Our aim is to provide a better and deeper understanding about the relations between politics and language in the context of this controversy, which involved two political parties (the ICP and the CCP), which were searching for their own autonomous road to socialism, albeit in very different historical contexts. 141 165
- PublicationIntroduction – Why Should the Linguistic Turn Be Taken?(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Bassi, Giulia
- PublicationThe Rise of the Union between Theory and Praxis: Chilean Communism in the Cold War (1934-1990)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Fermandois, JoaqìnThe Communist Party played an outstanding role in Chilean politics during the twentieth century. The party’s history sank its roots in the three decades before World War I, when a nascent left-wing language, shaped by socialism and anarchism, created a sort of anti-systemic persuasion in the country, connected with new social movements and protests. The Russian Revolution introduced a big change in the social and political models of the left, even if, as was the case across the world, the emerging left was divided. From the 1920s to the 1930s the Communist Party developed a tightly knitted organization, standing on the Marxist-Leninist tenets determined by the Comintern, even if there were at the same time recognizable Chilean traces in the party’s ideological history. Under Stalinist influence, and aided by its own dynamic, the ideology became not just a point of reference, but a language that held the party united through several decades, surviving all the swings of the century, including political persecution at the end of the 1940s and the Pinochet dictatorship’s attempts to destroy the party through the murder of many of its leaders and members in the 1970s and 1980s. The common bond, besides the apparatchik and social organizations, remained always the language derived from the ideology approved by the Central Committee, confirmed by quotations of the sacred texts, reproduced in cell life, in the youth branch, the party’s media, and the ‘cadres school’ (education of militants). The ideology and doctrine evolved, as it was a reflection of the evolution of Soviet communism, even if the actual policy of the party was relatively pragmatic. The force of the ideology was shattered only in the late 1980s, with the visible end of the Cold War, both across the world and inside Chile.
- PublicationBrotherhood and Unity: Language and Language Politics in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1945-1991)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Leto, Maria RitaA constant reminder of unresolved national problems, the issue of the Serbo-Croatian language and of the creation of a standard language presented itself in various forms in both the first Yugoslavia, a centralized and monarchic country, and the second one, a socialist and federal country. In the effort to produce a viable standard language, the Central Committee of the Communist League had to officially address this issue on several occasions, making decisions that more than once turned out to be contradictory and harbingers of further complications. This essay investigates the linguistic policies adopted in Tito’s Yugoslavia from its constitutive act (Jajce 1943) to 1991, year of Yugoslavia’ s breakup. While the socialist state in many ways followed a leading- edge policy with regard to the linguistic minorities, the issue of a federal language itself and of its variants, by contrast, remained an open question, revelatory of the difficulties to strike a precarious and ultimately impossible balance between unitarism and separatism. The failure to agree upon a name identifying a shared federal language bespeaks of the disintegrating tendencies that in the following years would eventually make Yugoslavia collapse.
- PublicationDiscipline and Organisation: Performativity and Revolutionary Semantics in Gramsci’s and Togliatti’s Texts (1916-1928)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Bassi, GiuliaIs it possible to appreciate ‘the utopia’ of a political revolutionary text? And, if so, to what extent? How much of such a performative revolutionary potential has the actual power to orient social identities and practices? In the vein of the historiographical approach of the New Cultural History, this essay responds to the need to reevaluate the research on the political lexicon. Mostly neglected by the historiography of the Italian Communist Party, this methodology considers language not just as a mere superstructure component, but as a fundamental factor founding the structure itself. This essay carries out a historical-linguistic and semantic analysis of some keywords (such as ‘revolution’, ‘discipline’, and ‘organization’) and aims at exploring the political modalities and the instrumental use of language in a sample of early texts by Antonio Gramsci (1916-1918) and Palmiro Togliatti (1925-1928). The goal is to identify the several ways in which these authors addressed their militants so that they would identify themselves with a particular ‘must-be’ ideal (the ‘good revolutionary’, the ‘good communist’)and in order to mobilise them, first by giving them a system of values and meanings and then by giving them a transcendent motivation for the achievement of the ‘future communist civilisation’.
- PublicationThe Ecuadorian Left during Global Crisis: Republican Democracy, Class Struggle and State Formation (1919-1946)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Coronel, ValeriaThis essay studies the Ecuadorian left in its specific organizational forms as well as examining its interventions in spaces of dialogue and dispute with other political forces such as the public sphere and in State formation. It examines the press and different spaces of leftist participation in political contestations concerning collective action and the organs of the state. It is suggested that the emergence of the Ecuadorian left was rooted in the press and other political organizations closely aligned with Alfarist radicalism, and that within the context of the crisis of 1920 the left adopted notions of justice that had been previously popularized during the democratic revolution, combining them with the discourse of twentieth century revolutions, including Russian, Mexican and Peruvian variants of Marxism. The Ecuadorian left had notable successes between the 1920s-1940s, challenging conservative rights, fascism and the threat of the transnational oligarchy; it instigated discourses of the national popular State that successfully connected regional and ethnic identities in the popular imaginary, it promoted popular organization and demanded public recognition of popular causes; and it participated in the political life of the State and its reform. While it had only limited success at the electoral level, it nevertheless maintained a notable presence in the legislative arena, the army, in agrarian politics, labor policy, education and in democratic representation. The left marked the public sphere with a characteristic cultural production that combined notions of radical modernity with notions of popular culture, in the process managing to displace Spanish intellectual currents in these cultural disputes. From the end of the IIWW, the Ecuadorian state formed by the left and by popular struggle became the main target of the counterrevolution, unifying the oligarchies in their attempt to configure a modern right, and catching the attention of the political intelligence agencies of the Western Hemisphere during the Cold War. The left associated with the beginnings of neoliberalism nevertheless maintained a somewhat distrustful gaze upon this previous stage of the national popular left.
- PublicationTautology as the Highest Form of Ideology: Reflections on Stalinist Discourse (1930-1953)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Petrov, PetreThe chapter takes theoretical aim at the frequent occurrence of tautology in official Stalinist language. My goal is to shed light on a phenomenon that has been inadequately understood in existing scholarship. The tautologies of Soviet ideological discourse have been traditionally interpreted as either showcasing the primitive intellectual level of party scribes or as exemplifying the general irrationalism of totalitarian language. In the scholarly tradition of langue de bois (dereviannyi iazyk, “wooden language”), a propensity for meaningless repetition was seen as one of the ways in which the linguistic medium, mobilized in the service of modern political dictatorships, aids in the disabling of independent rational thought. Against this line of interpretation, the present chapter argues that the tautologies of Stalinist language are something more than mind-numbing nonsense. A certain logic lies behind these seemingly anomalous expressions, and it could give us a key to understanding the character of Stalinist ideology. Slavoj Žižiek’s theory of ideological discourse, with its emphasis on the tautological nature of the master-signifier, and Roland Barthes’s notion of “naturalization” provide the contrasting background for my argument. By analyzing instances of tautology from official Soviet texts, I show that the logic of repetition/redundancy in them is qualitatively different from what these two influential theorizations of ideology have proposed.
- PublicationThe Italian Communist Party and the Birth of il manifesto: Languages and Cultures of a Conflict (1966-1970)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Colozza, RobertoThe essay describes the rise and fall of the Italian Communist Party (ICP)’s dissident leftist wing taking its name from the journal il manifesto, which was its main tribune. The unauthorized monthly, founded in June 1969, was the main cause of a conflict that exploded following a creeping antagonism between the party leading bodies and the minority. This contrast involved some major issues related to international relations, ideology and, most of all, the party’s internal democracy. Its worsening was also due to the death of the ICP’s general secretary Palmiro Togliatti in 1964, which provoked a lack of unifying leadership and the emerging of such divergent identities within the party. The controversial history of il manifesto, which was bound to become one of the major protagonists of the European Left in the 1970s, represents well the evolving handling of dissidences in the post-1968 ICP. With respect to procedural solutions that were mostly based on the punishment of the dissent, the treatment of il manifesto shows a more negotiating model, in which administrative disciplinary procedures coexist with informal interactions between the two fronts as well as a real debate within them. The expulsion of the undisciplined militants was the solution of a long-lasting and intense confrontation, which the essay analyses by seeking to decrypt its communicational, cultural and ritual aspects.
- PublicationLanguage of the Communist Totality in Czechoslovakia: Influence on Our Awareness and its Projection into Reality (1952-2010)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Čermák, FrantišekOn the data chosen from two comparable large corpora, one from the period of the Communist Totality, the other from Today, namely post-totalitarian period, an attempt has been made to compare vocabulary of both periods and some of its typical lexemes as well as collocations. Through this corpus approach both a skeleton picture of both periods as well as of the current notions, typical of these widely different times, could have been, hopefully, drawn and through that, main features of both periods and society living in them obtained. The research is an off-spin of a Dictionary of the Totalitarian Period published recently and is to be seen as a continuation of it. The Totalitarian vocabulary and the corpus have been based (each around half a million of words), mostly, on the Communist newspapers while a corresponding corpus of the same newspaper type of texts from the Czech National Corpus has been used as a counterweight. Thus, effectively, vocabulary of these two periods spanned over some 50 years.
- PublicationWords of Power, the Power of Words. The Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in International Perspective(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Bassi, GiuliaThis volume proposes a collection of nineteen essays on the history of international communism during the twentieth century. The first part is dedicated to the Italian Communist Party, the most important communist party in Western Europe. The book then moves on to an analysis of the parties of Eastern Europe, for example in the Soviet Union, East Germany, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia. Finally, the analysis goes beyond the European boundaries, focusing on communism in Latin America, with Chilean communism and the Ecuadorian Left, and in Eastern Asia, with the Vietnamese and the Chinese Communist parties. The book offers a global and interdisciplinary approach, merging the analysis of political-cultural processes with the study of political discourse and language, textual or iconic, thanks to studies by historians, linguists, philosophers, and historians of language.
- PublicationThe Languages of the Italian Communists: Some Descriptive Remarks (1921-1964)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Andreucci, FrancoThe Italian Communist Party (ICP) was the largest communist party of the West. Although it was part of the International communist movement, it pretended to be an ‘original’ party, bearer of a ‘National way to communism’. Instead, many scholars have successfully demonstrated that the links of the party with the Soviet Union and leninism were strong and solid until the mid 70’s. This essay tries to demonstrate that in terms of political language, the ICP was deeply influenced by the Communist jargon as created during the Stalin era. As scholars have written, regarding the cultural identity of the Communist parties, in the 50’s there was no need of a centralized cultural authority, because the symbols and the language of Communism were already a common lingo and a standardized jargon. This essay is based on the linguistic analysis of a series of official documents of the ICP and studies the origins of the IPC’s langue de bois.
- Publication'Continuity, Adaptation, and Challenge': The Chinese Communist ideology and policy on minzu (1922-2013)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Wu, GuoMarxism and Leninism, the theoretical foundation of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), had many ambiguous dimensions in treating the national issue, and the CCP’s national discourse was influenced by Marxist ideology, Confucian tradition of Great Unity, its own revolutionary practices, and the realpolitik concerns over resources and security as the leader of the State after 1949. Its ideology shifted in several stages. Firstly, a liberal-revolutionary national discourse which called for self-determination of all nationalities (minzu) within the Chinese territory, who made up six percent of the Chinese population based on the 1954 census. Secondly, the Long March of 1934-1935 fully exposed the CCP to the non-Han minorities in southwest and northwest Chinese borderlands, and the Party had both tensions and accommodations with local tribes. After arriving at Yan’an, the CCP had more experiences in engaging the Chinese Muslims and started empirical studies. In the third place, after the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937, the CCP put more emphasis on the unity of the “Chinese nation” (zhonghua minzu) which was invented in the early twentieth century and implied presumably a homogeneous Chinese nation in the common resistance of the Japanese. Finally, after 1949, the CCP explicitly terminated any previous call for national self-determination, emphasizing instead the PRC’s nature as a ‘unified multi-nation State’ (tongyi de duo minzu guojia ), and the CCP distinguished itself from the Soviet Union by disavowing the Soviet-style federalism. The CCP in the early 1950s also defined the term minzu (Chinese generic word for nation, nationality, and ethnic group) as historical formations and cultural entities regardless of its presumed relationship with the rise of modern capitalism, and it rejected the labeling of buzu (clan) or buluo (tribe) to achieve internal equality. This semantic practice distanced socialist China from the Western definition of ethnicity and nation, but the Chinese Communist concept minzu, regardless of its uniqueness compared with the Soviet and Chinese Nationalist ideologies, also had some intrinsic weaknesses, one of which was paternalist ‘neo-traditionalism’ which reinforced minority nationalities’ dependency on Han nationality.
- PublicationFrom Class to Culture: Reconfigurations of Vietnamese Communism (1925-2015)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Pelley, PatriciaThis chapter examines the history of the Vietnamese Communist Party [VCP] from its origins in 1930 until contemporary times. I argue that, for a period of around forty years, the VCP tried to reconcile two antagonistic positions. It stressed the necessity of divisive, even violent, class-based struggles in politics and economic life and, at the same time, continually called for national unity against France and the US. At the Sixth Party Congress in 1986, the VCP resolved this tension by introducing the policy of ‘renovation’ (đổi mới), which is responsible for the shift in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam [SRV] from socialism to ‘market’ socialism (chủ nghĩa xã hội thị trường). No longer focused on the dynamics of class, the VCP now emphasizes morality and culture, even though some socialist structures remain in place. The circulation of two symbols clearly articulates this new path. The hammer and sickle signals reverence for Lenin, an indebtedness to his idea of the vanguard party, and respect for Soviet-style communism more generally. The lotus bloom alludes to more primordial patterns. Both icons are similarly pervasive. This chapter is divided into three parts. Part I clarifies the contexts in which Vietnamese communism emerged and the Party’s formative years. Part II concentrates on the Indochina Wars (1946-1975) and the period after national reunification in 1976 when the SRV tried to ‘protect’ socialism in the North and ‘build’ socialism in the South. Part III centers on the period since the Sixth Party Congress (1986), when the Government and Party systematically dismantled communes, cooperatives, collectives, and many state-owned enterprises as well. When the VCP was established in 1930 it had one principal goal: uproot and eradicate the status quo. Now its overriding aim is to maintain it.
- PublicationThe Power of Words: Labels and their Consequences in Mao’s China (1949-1976)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Ji, FenguyanWhen Mao and the Chinese Communist Party became supreme in 1949, they used their power to control words. They suppressed words that expressed ‘incorrect’ ways of thinking, they taught everyone a new political vocabulary, and they required people to recite political formulae and scripts that gave correct linguistic form to correct thought. As part of this project of linguistic engineering, they introduced a system of classification and political labelling that located every individual within a ‘good’ class, a ‘bad class’, or an intermediate class. They supplemented this with a system of ‘Red’ (good) and ‘Black’ (bad) categories that enabled even people of good class origins to be stigmatised. This essay will explain how this system of classification and labelling affected people’s life chances, showing that it was especially devastating when the labels were combined with the language of class war during the repeated ‘class struggles’ that Mao instigated to attack alleged class enemies and promote revolutionary consciousness. The damage to people’s lives reached its climax during the Cultural Revolution, when Mao for a time lost control of the process of labelling and the country descended into low grade civil war. After restoring order by the use of force, Mao brought the process of labelling back under centralised control and used it to condemn the young revolutionaries who had pinned invidious labels on their opponents and attacked them in his name. He then ensured that labelling remained a fundamental technology of social control, using it to institutionalise the Cultural Revolution and instigate new class struggles right down to his death in 1976. From beginning to end, the labelling system was a weapon that advanced the interests and objectives of those who controlled it.
- PublicationGrammar and Historical Materialism: Linguistic Education in Italian Communist Party Schools (1947-1977)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Tonelli, AnnaThe Italian Communist Party organised and founded a well-established system of party schools to train its cadres, with the famous Frattocchie School representing its most important institute. One of the cornerstones of the teaching provided to students from the popular classes (mainly workers and peasants) concerned study methods aimed at reading, understanding and using the concepts of classic Marxist writings. Students at these schools would have to engage in written work to show their understanding of the theories of historical materialism and comprehension of the usefulness of the party school. The subjects taught also included grammar, logic and linguistics, since future cadres would need to be able to write and to speak correctly in public. This article reconstructs the different stages of linguistic teaching for political purposes over a timescale ranging from the post-war period to the mid-1970s, highlighting the persistence and splits in method and content.
- PublicationRebellious Walls: Graffiti in Italy during the Cold War (1948-1955)" in: "Words of Power, the Power of Words. The Twentieth-Century Communist Discourse in International Perspective(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Mannari, EnricoGraffiti constitutes a significant but very little used source for analysing the relationship between the ‘subversive’ language of the working classes and the ‘micro’ propaganda of the ICP (Italian Communist Party) in the central years of the Cold War. These are the walls that, already extensively used by the rhetoric of Fascism, resume speaking with a rebellious use of language, and where you can find both political orthodoxy and working-class irony. Invectives, incitements to fight, comments on events, humour, aggression, puns. They can be found at street crossings, at the entrances to factories and schools, in the streets of working-class neighbourhoods: all physical spaces where a mark can be left. Their communicative strength lies in their simplicity and immediacy. Moreover, the territory is physically marked and personal presence is given visibility in a context of verbal and ideological confrontation, the traces of which are recorded by the public security organs. Although this phenomenon is not easily measurable and difficult to compare, the language and geography of these ‘poor’ forms of protest and social and political communication also help us to better understand that ‘local’ account which represents the uncertain boundary between working-class rebellion and the ICP’s propagandistic activities.
- PublicationUnreliable Allies: the Peasants in the Romanian Early Communist Discourse (1948-1965)(EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2019)Morar-Vulcu, CălinIn the Romanian official discourse and particularly in its Stalinist phase, the peasantry is the object of a constant effort of definition and identity construction, which parallels the collectivization of Romanian agriculture. I examine this process at two levels, lexico-grammatical and conceptual, using tools borrowed from social semiotics and metaphor analysis and I compare the resulting patterns of this process of identity construction with those of other social actors, such as the working class and the women. The discourse uses several meaning-making tools to construe the identity of the peasantry: classification (resulting in sub-entities with different entitlements such as poor and middle peasantry), collectivisation (aggregation of individual actors in a collective actor) and generic reference (prototypical definitions of ‘the peasant’). The peasantry is also passivisized, that is, it is represented as predominantly acted upon by other actors. As regards the metaphors mostly used to talk and write about peasantry, I identify four main frameworks: spatial (container and positional metaphors), physical (inertial, gravitational metaphors), biological (body metaphor) and anthropomorphic. Particularly relevant is – via anthropomorphic metaphors – the relationship with the working class, structured around the topics of alliance, help and contract. The peasantry appears as a fragmented, manipulable, inert, unreliable, semi-conscious and self-interested actor, situated in an inferior position compared to other actors. The features of the peasantry are essentialised and considered immutable. The analysis also helps to outline the political community envisaged in Stalinism: a fixed distribution of places and socio-economic functions reminiscent of corporatism.