Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts The Strange Death of European Marxism

The Strange Death of European Marxism

By the 1980s, the stage was set in Western Europe for the rise of the postmarxist Left. The large working-class constituencies that had voted for the French and Italian communist parties and swelled their membership lists had begun to shrink. The workforce throughout Western Europe was changing occupationally and sociologically as countries moved toward service economies. While French Communist Party (PCF) membership in 1979 consisted of at least 45 percent industrial and farm workers, by 1997 that percentage had contracted to 31 percent. Moreover, in 1994, despite the objections of older members, the PCF ceased to refer to itself as the ‘‘party of the working class.’’ By 1997, well over half the Party members were white-collar employees and professionals.

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