From the mid-1960s to 1980, the piazzas belonged to the left in Italy. So did the bookstores, since dominant culture—criticism, political science, philosophy, the arts—leaned heavily to the left. Conservatives despaired: Oh, when would Italy become a normal West European nation, more satisfied with capitalism and less overrun by would-be revolutionaries?
Everyone thought the 1980s answered this question. The workers’ movement declined, the left (dominated by the huge Communist party) fragmented further, Yuppie culture prospered, and the bookstores no longer stockpiled radical texts....
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