The declining salience of class conflict, the end of the Cold War and the proliferation of issue-based politics has re-activated the desire to look 'beyond ideological antagonism', particularly that of the traditional division between 'Left' and 'Right'. For many commentators, Italy's failings as a modern democratic state stem from the preponderance of opposed ideological systems that dominate its political culture and hinder the development of sober, reasoned dialogue. Historical and political commentary in modern Italy has been informed by an acute awareness of the incompleteness of the nation-state. The old antagonisms receded into the horizon but the new party system was more fragmented than ever before, with no single, dominant antagonism. The end of the Cold War produced in Italy, as it did elsewhere, much reflection on what ought to be understood as the proper boundaries between ideological formations. The discursive organisation is intrinsically open to alteration.