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Left-wing armed struggle and political violence in 1970s Italy

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The nature of the 'armed struggle' waged by leftist groups in Italy against the Italian state in the 1970s was of a scale and severity not seen anywhere else in contemporary Europe. But efforts to understand the evolution of the extra-parliamentary left have been obscured by attempts to isolate the 'armed campaign' from the wider radicalism of the 'long 68'; and to equate the violence of the left directly with that of the fascist and neo-fascist right in ways which have obscure its distinctive and particular nature. This study of Marxist and left-wing revolutionary groups active in 1970s Italy resituates their ideologies and actions within the wider continuum of the left, documents the alliances and splits which accompanied their development, and analyses the symbolism and status of prisoners within the movement's cadre. Reflecting on the subsequent decline of the 'armed struggle', this study concludes with an assessment of how the illegal and violent actions of Italy's armed militants are perceived and interpreted in retrospect.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2010

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