chapter  22
23 Pages

Maffeo Pantaleoni

When Pantaleoni died on 29 October 1924, Sraffa (1924: 648) commenced his obituary with the comment that Italy had lost ‘the prince of her economists’. Whether this was the normal, figurative usage of prince in this context, or a reference to that famous creation of Machiavelli as a bow in the direction of Pantaleoni’s pioneering analysis of power in an article on the economics of the ‘strong and the weak’ (Pantaleoni 1898) is not clear (but see Amoroso 1925: 118). Sraffa also described Pantaleoni as ‘conspiratorial’, the ‘Don Quixote’ of Italian politics for close to thirty years, tilting at various windmills, sometimes with anti-semitic overtones (Dalton 1923) both in his brief career as radical deputy on the far left, as Minister of Finance in d’Annunzio’s Fiume (1919), and as active government adviser crowned by becoming a senator under the new fascist regime during 1923, the last year of his life. His strong belief in the free market and the virtues of competition combined with equally staunch opposition to socialism explain his move towards fascism (De Viti de Marco 1925: 175) and enabled him also to be described as a ‘reactionary anarchist’ or, to use more contemporary parlance, a ‘libertarian of the right’ (Sraffa 1924: 649-50; Hicks 1983: 340-2).2