Through the Marshall Plan and the start of European integration the United States launched an ambitious hegemonic project. Based on economic modernization as a means to strengthen democracy, this effort was to meet with the hostility of most Italian entrepreneurs, even though the growing productivity and affluence would allegedly reduce the popular support enjoyed by the Communists and the Socialists, thus reinforcing market economy as well as American supremacy. Willing to modernize retail distribution along lines differing from the private supermarket model introduced by the Americans in 1957, the Communists promoted consumers’ cooperatives, while the Socialists, in the first Moro cabinet, suggested to create State supermarkets in vain. Both parties, the Communist and the Socialist, were summarily accused to aim at the suppression of private trade like in East Europe. As a proof of the scant strengthening of democracy reached through modernization, after the economic boom of the late Fifties and early Sixties the Italian democracy was subjected to serious subversive threats, while the 1971 retail trade reform didn’t apply much of the free competition principles asserted by the European Community, thus further retarding the spreading of modern commercial distribution over the country.
Keywords: Democracy, commerce, American hegemony, entrepreneurs, modernization, Italian Communist Party