The focus of this article is the revisionist course which the Italian Socialist Party embarked upon after 1956 and which led up to the first Centre-Left government. The article challenges two quite well established views. One view is that the transformation experienced by the PSI during the 1956-64 period was simply tactically expedient and devoid of any substance and consistency. This article argues, by contrast, that these years represented, in Alessandro Pizzorno's words, a veritable ‘Copernican revolution’. This period of revisionism was as important as the better-known revisionisms elaborated during the same period by other European Socialist parties such as the German SPD or British Labour. The second main argument is that ‘structural reformism’, the new strategy adopted by the PSI after 1956, was not, as it has often been described, an expression of ‘duplicity’ owing to the party's incapacity to behave like a genuinely reformist party - a phenomenon that has allegedly long characterized parties of the Left. Instead, the strategy was reflected in the changes to European socialism during the early 1960s. In particular, this period marked a contrast to the previous years which were characterized by the dominance of ideas of ‘redistributive’ socialism, à la Anthony Crosland. This period marked also a shift among Socialist parties towards the acceptance of greater state controls over the economy by way of public planning and ownership.
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