By analysing the policies and ideas of German social democracy, the British Labour Party and the Italian Communist Party, this article explores their attitude towards science and their imagination of the future in the 1950s. Deeply different, social democrats and communists shared a positivist attitude in favour of scientific progress and high modernity. This painted their attitude towards the space race, peaceful nuclear power and automation. Science was conceived as a neutral power to be supported, but it required political guidance to harness it and turned it into social progress. Thus, their disagreement was over the political implications for capitalist societies experiencing growing prosperity. Science was also a powerful rhetorical argument to castigate the conservatives for failing the nation and allowing it to decline and fall behind its competitors. The article combines comparison and transnational history, innovating the latter by introducing the concepts of horizontal, vertical and antagonistic transnationalism.

Whoever launches the biggest Sputnik has solved the problems of society? : technology and futurism for Western European social democrats and communists in the 1950s

Costa, Ettore
2020

Abstract

By analysing the policies and ideas of German social democracy, the British Labour Party and the Italian Communist Party, this article explores their attitude towards science and their imagination of the future in the 1950s. Deeply different, social democrats and communists shared a positivist attitude in favour of scientific progress and high modernity. This painted their attitude towards the space race, peaceful nuclear power and automation. Science was conceived as a neutral power to be supported, but it required political guidance to harness it and turned it into social progress. Thus, their disagreement was over the political implications for capitalist societies experiencing growing prosperity. Science was also a powerful rhetorical argument to castigate the conservatives for failing the nation and allowing it to decline and fall behind its competitors. The article combines comparison and transnational history, innovating the latter by introducing the concepts of horizontal, vertical and antagonistic transnationalism.
Settore M-STO/04 - Storia Contemporanea
Italian Communist Party (PCI); Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD); Labour Party (UK); space race; nuclear power; transnational history
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11384/124564
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