chapter  9
17 Pages

Some notes about Croce and Einaudi on liberismo and liberalismo: Riccardo Soliani


Rosselli’s thought may be considered as an attempt to set the labourers’ movement in the wake of the French revolution and to embed it in a liberal theory of society; the theme of liberty was felt profoundly by the young fighter against fascism, who considered socialism as “liberalism in action”. His ana­ lysis, which led the movement Giustizia e Libertà to an economic programme based upon a two­ sector economy, with relevant elements of self­ management,4 was fiercely criticized by the Italian communist (Togliatti) and socialist (Treves) political parties. Piero Gobetti (1901-26) was a contemporary of Rosselli. His theoretical activity was very important and set the basis of a prophetic liberalism, where liberty is strictly connected with the emancipation of the working class.5 The short life of Gobetti passed in a period of social turmoil in Italy, from the end of the war to the rise of Fascism. In La Rivoluzione Liberale (1924) there is a positive evaluation of the occupation of factories by the Consigli (workers’ committees) in 1920. He considers them as a real autonomous movement, a good example of self­ management of firms and economy, an important indication for the future waking­ up of Italians and a new Risorgimento, after the crisis of values at the end of the First World War. The workers’ control was a democratic, “bottom­ up” push which forced communists to throw away the ideological abstractions of socialization, face up concrete problems and implement the specific legacy of the bourgeois tradition. Thus the Consigli understood the role of savings in industry and the importance of the reward for entrepreneurs; they also considered the exigencies of clerks, who are elements of production, not only petits bourgeois. Young communists belonging to the Consigli in Turin looked at the movement of labourers as a liberal value. Such an experiment failed; but it was “one amongst the noblest efforts performed to renew Italian political life”.6