Post-War Italy a Time of essay

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From the end of the War to the early 1950s, the Bank of Italy was credited for attracting and managing international aid, which helped bring the country out of a steep state of emergency and on the path of reconstruction. International aid came from Interim Aid, the Marshall Plan and the World Bank (Einaudi).

Italy's Technical Redesign

A substantial part of Italian construction legacy was destroyed during World War II and designers and architects were called to the scene to restore and renew Italian dwelling places (Web Marketing Team, 2009). Companies contributed experimental works. Feal Company created steel fittings. Olivari Company manufactured door handles. Bticino Company produced electric power control devices. Furniture companies came up with novelties in the 50s. These products included stackable kitchens and home appliances. One of the producers a few times became the second worldwide exporters of the goods after the United States. The turnout so inspired the Italians that industrial products, such as these, became the icon of the new renaissance in the 50s. Producers discovered that modernity meant welfare, comfort and a better quality of life. In addition to home appliances, they created furniture, lamps, various home objects, radio and television sets. These creations gave the typical Italian era its merry image. It also became an appropriate time for young rationalist architects to practice their training and skill. Among the prominent ones were Franco Albini, Ignazio Gardella, Luigi Caccia Dominioni, Vico Magistretti, Ettore Sottsass and Marco Zanuso (Web Marketing Team).

Program to Eradicate Malaria in Sardinia

Sardinia was a test site in 1944 for the eradication of native malaria-carrying mosquitoes (Tognotti, 2009). DDT insecticide was sprayed inside houses in Castel

Volturno. Another test was conducted among Tiber Delta and Pontine marshes, favored breeding places of malaria carriers, Anopheles labrachiae mosquitoes. This mosquito species was most common and abundant in the Mediterranean basis. The insects were said to have increased after German troops flooded a large area in Italy as a strategy to obstruct the movement of Allied troops. The Allied Malaria Control Commission studied the effect of DDT without other control measures on these breeding areas (Tognotti).

As a result of the tests, Sardinia was freed from the disease and the vectors reduced dramatically to 99.93% (Tognotti, 2009). Reports said that the massive use of DDT was not necessary and desirable on account of its damaging effects on persons and the environment. As a measure to impede the transmission of malaria, indoor DDT was sprayed in small but sufficient amounts on house walls. The eradication of malaria was believed to have greatly contributed to the socio-economic development improved public health of the island, which followed (Tognotti).

A team of Sardinian researchers conducted a follow-up study on the long-term effects of DDT on the human population in the affected areas of the island (Tognotti, 2009). Based on the birth and stillbirth statistics between 1945 and 1954, the study found that the widespread use of DDT did not increase stillbirth rates, infant mortality rates or the male-female ratio of newborns. Testing for the possible cancerous effect of DDT, results showed that deaths among DDT-exposed 4,552 male workers were minimally linked to the chemical. No study on environmental effects was conducted (Tognotti).

These findings relate to DDT-based malaria control strategies used by the Rockefeller Foundation around the world (Tognotti, 2009). DDT may have been credited for its role in freeing the island from malaria, but other factors had to be recognized. The substantial cost put into the tests was also used for inflexible organization, exceptional technical and scientific expertise, and continued malaria control efforts by the regional government even after the conducts of the tests. Other factors were geographic isolation of the island, the support of the UNRRA and the Italian High Commissioner for Health, the ability and experience of the Rockefeller Foundation staff and the cooperation of the local community. Support from the UNRRA and the Italian High Commissioner for Health did a lot in preventing probable effects of a lack of technical resources, expertise and ground infrastructure. The local community on which the tests were conducted must also be credited for its cooperation in fighting malaria for decades with quinine as well as land reclamation projects, which combined to reduce mosquito habitat. It was clear that the Foundation's anti-malarial initiative in Sardinia was a strong contribution to the development and enforcement of malaria control policies in the 20th century. DDT presented as an important measure in solving the occurrence of malaria and its elimination from the modern world. Despite millions of dollars in cost and 267 metric tons of DDT applied over the island, the complete eradication of the vector was not accomplished. Although considered eradicated in the mid-40s, malaria continues to be a major public health problem more than 60 years later and remains a major issue in the global health agenda (Tognotti).

Assessing Post-War Conditions in Italy

Political analysts believe that Italy unified relatively late (Hine, 2007). The divide between the North and the South existed even before the initial unification. Polarized society rendered the people-opted parliamentary government unstable. The prevailing sentiment was the fear that Communism or recurring fascism would take over the newly formed Italian democracy. History shows that post-War governments lasted only for an average of less than a year. The electoral system induced the formation of coalition governments. The Italian Communist Party was automatically excluded from government. Problems, which hounded Italian democracy, were unstable coalition governments, lack of favor from the political class, non-aligned electorate, and ineffective management in providing fair and responsive welfare support (Hine).

The Legacy of the Cold War on Italy

Between 1945 and 1947, Italy was ruled by governments of national unity (Bull, 1997). All the anti-Fascist parties, including socialist and Communist parties, participated. In this environment of political compromise, a Republic was established in 1946, a Constitution was drafted in 1947 and an electoral system of proportional representation and universal suffrage was enforced. However, the general elections of April 18, 1948 became a direct encounter between the two electoral and ideological extremes, a miniature of the Cold War. Communism and anti-Communism, dictatorship and democracy, East and West, clericalism and anti-clericalism came into political grips and divided Italy into opposite political and cultural sectors. Anti-Fascism, however, prevailed and served as the legitimate principle of Italy's post-war governments and political institutions (Bull).

Christian Democracy always remained in government, whether alone or in coalition but with full Church backing (Bull, 1997). At the same time, the Communist Party was always present to oppose it. Political immobilism led to clientelism and corruption. Since 1945, power alternated between these opposite parties in government, slowly converging towards the center with each side acquiring the right to govern. This may suggest the triumph of a fully functioning democracy. But looking deeper into the effects of the Cold War in the country, a hidden sphere becomes apparent. Anti-Communist forces saw the anti-Fascist state as quite dangerous within and outside Italy. They considered the legitimization of the Communist Party as a clear mistake. They wanted an anti-Communist rather than an anti-Fascist state. Despite the existence of one State, a second one was created and which was both anti-Communist and secret. Italy developed a dual identity wherein the State simultaneously contained the anti-State. The official culture remained anti-Fascist, covertly anti-Communist and yet essentially anti-democratic and intent on preserving Fascist laws and policies. While its culture celebrated the Resistance, the end of monarchy, the new Republic, democratic institutions and the new Constitution, it also delayed implementing that Constitution. It enforced Fascist elements in it intelligence services and also kept an alliance with secret or outright illegal organizations, like the Mafia and Freemasonry (Bull).

The true legacy of the Cold War on Italy consists of a lack of trust between the State

and its citizens and the presence of invisible networks of power emanating from the Second World War (Bull, 1997). The lack of trust dates back to Italy's unification in the 19th century or the Middle Ages. The Cold prevented the democratic State from raising the level of trust in the country and thus acquire a new kind of legitimacy. This lack of trust by Italian citizens in their State should be considered rational and justified and not only an inherited cultural trait from their past. It was, in fact, their cynicism and mistrust in the State, which sustained them in confronting disappointing revelations of their State's involvement in huge scandals of deception. They found it vastly difficult to remain committed to a democratic system and values not upheld or supported by a supposedly democratic State (Bull).

The invisible networks of power included the Secret Services and the Mafia (Bull, 1997). The Secret Services were considered legitimate and not de-Fascistized after the War. They were restructured and re-organized only after the removal of Communist and Socialist Parties from government in 1947. On the other hand, the Mafia sealed a deal with the OSS in July…[continue]

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