Labour History Review

Analysis of a defeat: revolution and worker-peasant alliances in Italy, 1919-20

Labour History Review (1999), 64, (2), 159–178.


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‘Il nostro grido’, La Difesa, 28 February 1920 (my emphasis) Google Scholar

The Origins of Fascism in Italy (English translation of ‘"Lezioni di Harvard", L'Italia dal 1919-1929 (1934-1943)’ in R. Vivarelli (ed.), Scritti sul fascismo, Milan, 1961, pp. 301-657; Toronto, 1973, pp. 170-1 Google Scholar

See, for example, G. Maione, Il biennio rosso. Autonomia e spontaneità operaia nel 1919-1920, Bologna, 1975, p. 340; N. Poulantzas, Fascism and Dictatorship: the Third International and the problem of Fascism, 1974, pp. 278 and 293 Il biennio rosso. Autonomia e spontaneità operaia nel 1919-1920 340 Google Scholar

For a detailed analysis of the food riots see above all for a cynical and witty eye-witness account, G. Salvemini, ‘L'Italia nel Giugno del 1919’, ‘"Lezioni di Harvard"’, pp. 468-78; see also Maione, Il biennio rosso, pp. 31-9 (who uses the description ‘workers and peasants’, p. 32, for the riots at Forli, where a soviet was formed); M. Punzo, La Giunta Caldara: l'amministrazione comunale di Milano negli anni 1914-1920, Rome/Bari, 1986, pp. 184-7; I. Granata, Sindacato e crisi della democrazia; La Camera del Lavoro di Milano dallo ‘splendore’ del Biennio Rosso allo scioglimento (1919-25), Milan, 1986, pp. 18-21 and 46-53; G. Vecchio, I cattolici milanesi ela politica. L'esperienza del Partito Popolare, 1919-1926, Milan, 1982, pp. 114-6; V. Mantovani, Mazurka Blu. La strage del Diana, Milan, 1979, pp. 78-82. Città di Milano, July 1919 carried good local reports, pp. 283-5; see also R. Bachi, L'Italia economica nell'anno 1919, Milan, 1920, pp. 342-50 and CdL di Milano, Relazione Morale per ii 1917-1918-1919-1920, Milan, 1921, pp. 17-18. The Archive material is collected in Archivio dello Stato di Milano (ASMi), Gabinetto Prefettura (Gab. Pref.), Cat. &, Agit. e Scioperi (for city reports only), b.296 and b.1018, and ACdS, Min. Int., P. S. 1919, C.1, b.103. For Florence and Milan respectively see R. Bianchi, ‘Una rivolta popolare del "biennio rosso". I moti per il caroviveri a Firenze’, Passato e Presente, 35, 1995, pp. 65-96 and J. Foot, ‘"Eliminated as a class?" Milanese socialism, consumers and shopkeepers during the period of the cost-of-living riots, June-July 1919’, The Italianist, 1999 [forthcoming] and in general J. Morris, The Political Economy of shopkeeping in Milan, 1885-1922, Cambridge, 1993, and ‘Retailers, Fascism and the Origins of the Social Protection of Shopkeepers in Italy’, Contemporary European History, 5, 3, 1996, pp. 285-313 Google Scholar

On the morning of 6 July 1919, afterwards the looting ‘spread to the quarters on the periphery of the city and afterwards to more central districts’, Comune di Milano, Annuario Storico Statistico, 1919, Milan, 1921 Google Scholar

For example, Affori, Baggio, Binasco, Cinisello sul Naviglio, Legnano and Melzo, ‘Dalla provincia’, 12 July 1919. See also ‘Contro il caroviveri’, Corriere della Sera, 6 July 1919, Avanti!, 5 July 1919 (where both city and country were emphasised in the reports from Prato, Pistoia and Ancona and ibid., 12 July and 13 July 1919) Google Scholar

'La Battaglia Socialista, 12 July 1919 Google Scholar

For these riots, and the key role played by women, see my ‘Socialist-Catholic Alliances and Gender. Work, War and the Family in Milan and Lombardy, 1914-1921’, Social History, vol. 21, 1, January 1996, pp. 37-53 Google Scholar

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‘Un manifesto alle masse lavoratrici’ and ‘La sommossa annonaria milanese’, Avanti!, 6 and 7 July 1919. See also for eye-witness reports all the local and national press, in particular Corriere delta Sera, II Secolo and the shopkeepers’ paper, L'Esercente. Google Scholar

Hence the ambiguous attitude of the Federterra and PSI who, while wishing to calm the protests and fearful of the unorganised nature of the riots, still felt honour bound to support the workers' and rural day-labourer demands. For hostile attitudes see the article ‘Per fare l'ordine occorre il disordine?: contro il caro-vita’, ‘Il Bolscevico’, La Difesa, 15 July 1919. Gramsci's intervention was also wary of the riots ‘I tumulti per la fame’, L'Ordine Nuovo 1919-1920, Turin; 1972, pp. 260-2 (where he also wrote of ‘workers and peasants’ being involved) Google Scholar

‘Food Riots in Italy’, The Manchester Guardian, 5 July 1919 Google Scholar

‘Lezioni …’, p. 471 Google Scholar

Salvemini also gives examples of requisitions of peasants (by the Cdl), the birth of an ‘abyss’ between city and country in the Bolognese during the riots, and of peasant hostility to the taking of their goods to Napoli on 28 June 1919, ‘Lezioni’, p. 472. ASMi, Gab. Pref., Cat. 8, b.298, 233 A-H Contadini dell'Alto Milanese, describes troops being drafted in to defend property Google Scholar

‘Contadini, fate tutti ii vostro dovere’, Avanti!, 5 July 1919. The article ‘Sciopero generale internazionale’, 15 July 1919 appealed to all workers ‘of field and factory’ to be ‘on the streets’, not for the revolution, but to demonstrate their solidarity; see also Granata, ‘Ascesa e crisi del socialismo nel primo dopoguerra (1919-1922): Il caso di Milano’ in Anna Kuliscioff e l'età del riformismo, Milan, 1976, p. 405 Google Scholar

La Battaglia Socialista, 19 July 1919 Google Scholar

Maione has written that the strike was ‘the moment of highest tension of 1919’, Il biennio rosso, p. 38 Google Scholar

Tensions remained high between Catholic and Socialist workers and many of these were only fully played out in the months and weeks after the dispute with the return of strikers to work. See my ‘"The Final Conflict?": Catholics and Socialists in Milan and Lombardy during Italy's "Two Red Years" - 1919-20’, The Italianist, Vol. 15, February 1996, pp. 261-93 Google Scholar

‘Fratellanza’, La Difesa, 26 July 1919 Google Scholar

For this campaign see the Milan-based Catholic paper L'Italia and ‘Il carattere del movimento’, Corriere della Sera, 22 July 1919. Ciatà di Milano, July 1919, listed the posters put up by the various groups surrounding the strike, of which 1,500, by far the highest number, were from the newly-born Unione Popolare Anti-Bolscevica. Google Scholar

La Difesa, 26 July 1919 Google Scholar

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See the article ‘Aneora dello sciopero generale’, La Difesa, 2 August 1919; ASMi, b.316, cit., which pointed out that ‘the peasants who work with livestock are still working’. At Pero Catholics were reported as being against the strike, La Battaglia Socialista, 26 July 1919 Google Scholar

Cited in A. Lucchini and L. Zerbin, ‘Il biennio rosso’, Annali di Storia Pavese, 12-13, 1986, p. 27 ‘Il biennio rosso’ Annali di Storia Pavese 12-13 27 Google Scholar

There are some reports of violence in the province in ASMi, Gab. Pref., b.316. The CGdL and PSI wanted the strike to be disciplined, see Maione, Il biennio rosso, pp. 37-9, Mantovani, Mazurka blu, pp. 82-6 and Cdl, Relazione …, p. 18. Gramsci agreed. In his article ‘20-21 July’ (L'Ordine Nuovo, 19 July 1919) he called for the ‘maximum discipline’ and stressed that the strike had to end on the 21st at 12 pm. Bordiga also admired the strike, Il Soviet, 27 July 1919 Google Scholar

Report in La Difesa, 26 July 1919 Google Scholar

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‘Grande dimostrazione’, La Difesa, 22 February 1919 Google Scholar

‘Melzo’, La Difesa, 15 March 1919 Google Scholar

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See La Battaglia Socialista, ‘Dalla Provincia’: ‘Abbiategrasso’, ‘Sedriano’, 7 June 1919, ‘Bruzzano’ and ‘Sedriano’ 14 June 1919, ‘Arluno’ 21 June 1919 Google Scholar

‘Che succede nel mondo?’, La Difesa, 9 August 1919 Google Scholar

‘Dalla provincia’, ‘Melzo’, La Battaglia Socialista, 30 August 1919 carried an appeal to ‘workers and peasants’ and ibid., ‘Affori’ (on the northern periphery of Milan) 27 March 1920, described worker-peasant ‘fraternisation’. La Difesa wrote of ‘workers and peasants’ at ‘Bruzzano’, 20 September 1919. See also ibid., 29 May 1920 on Legnano and 26 June 1920 on solidarity with a railway-strike, and the examples of worker-peasant solidarity given in ASMi, Gab. Pref., b.299, 13 July 1920 (Guardamiglio) and ASMi, b.298, ‘Arconate’ 28.6.1919, Carab. Div. Milano Esterna I, 23/184, e.g. ‘In solidarity … [with 200 peasants on strike] about 700 workers from the textile factories of Ariola and Bustese abstained from work’ Google Scholar

See Vecchio, I cattolici milanesi, pp. 116-8 and Città di Milano, August-September 1919 Google Scholar

P. B., R. Campanini and G. Battista, ‘Contadini, aiutate i vostri fratelli’, La Difesa, 23 August 1919, the appeal was repeated on 30 August 1919, ‘Capigruppo’ and again ‘Contadini non dimenticare’, 20 September 1919. Two lire was not a tiny amount for rural workers around Milan in 1919, representing about twenty-five per cent of the weekly increase in wages won by the Federterra in 1919, and three per cent of a weekly wage Google Scholar

‘Contadini, date il vostro obolo [small offering]’, 6 September 1919. La Difesa, 30 August 1919 carried a report of support for the metal-workers at a public meeting at Quarto Cagnino, and that of 27 September of donations from peasants and sharecroppers at Cascina Pero. Later such contributions were rather optimistically praised as ‘the brotherhood of the peasants with the workers’, La Difesa, 24 October 1919. 100 peasants struck briefly in solidarity with metalworkers at Cusano Milanese, 4 September 1919, ASMi, Gab. Pref., b.314 Google Scholar

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La Difesa, 23 August 1919 Google Scholar

Bellotti's later description of a breakdown of urban-rural tensions is interesting and may be referring to the presence of peasant-workers, ‘Il nostro grido’, La Difesa, 28 February 1920 Google Scholar

A. Cento Bull, ‘Proto-Industrialization, Small-Scale Capital Accumulation and Diffused Entrepreneurship. The Case of the Brianza in Lombardy (1860-1950)’, Social History, 14, 2, May 1989, pp. 177-200, especially pp. 183-4 and 191-3, but see also ‘The Lombard Silk Spinners in the Nineteenth Century: an Industrial Workforce in a Rural Setting’, The Italianist, VII, 1987, pp. 99-121. In 1921 Leonetti noted that the Milanese working class was a ‘indefinite mixture of people from the city and the countryside … the workforce [he wrote] oscillates continually’, ‘Torino’, L'Ordine Nuovo, 1, 1.1.1921. For other identifications of ‘worker-peasants’ see V. De Grazia, The Culture of Consent, Cambridge, 1981, p. 9; A. Kelikian, Town and Country Under Fascism: The Transformation of Brescia, 1915-1926, Oxford, 1986, p. 57; R. Mariani, Città e campagna in Italia, 1917-1943, Milan, 1986, pp. 90-2; M. Gribaudi, 1987, op. cit., p. 18. For a history of the role of peasant-workers in Lombardy see G. Luzzato, ‘L'evoluzione economica della Lombardia dal 1860 al 1922’ in La Cassa di Risparmio delle Provincie Lombarde nell'evoluzione economica della regione, Milan, 1923, pp. 452-3, 491-2, 497 and passim ‘Proto-Industrialization, Small-Scale Capital Accumulation and Diffused Entrepreneurship. The Case of the Brianza in Lombardy (1860-1950)’ Social History 14 177 200 Google Scholar

P. Corner, ‘Il contadino-operaio dell'Italia Padana’ in Storia dell'agricoltura, Venice, 1987, pp. 751-83, has written an excellent account of these stratagies and the constraints upon them. See, in particular, p. 782 on the ‘pluriattività’ of rural-based families and pp. 778-9 on the growth of family-led courtyard industries and artisan activity, heart of the Brianza industrial ‘model’ Storia dell'agricoltura 751 83 Google Scholar

‘The Federterra is most active in the lower part of this province’, ASMi, Gab. Pref., b.298, Questura to Prefect, no. 5689, 24 March 1919 Google Scholar

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I. Granata's point in B. Bezza (ed.), Movimento contadino e fascismo nel Lodigiano (1915-1930), Milan, 1983, pp. 36, 47, 79 and Lodi, 1980, op. cit., p. 124. La Difesa wrote of the ‘many [members] who equally appreciate the work of Bellotti and Campanini’, 29 November 1924 Movimento contadino e fascismo nel Lodigiano (1915-1930) 36 Google Scholar

‘XVI Congresso Nazionale Socialista; nuovi orizzonti’, La Difesa, 18 October 1919. The old by-line had been ‘La unione fa la forza’ - ‘unity is strength’ Google Scholar

La Difesa, 4 and 18 October 1919 Google Scholar

‘L'adunata dei lavoratori della terra della provincia di Milano’, Il Secolo, 8 March 1920 Google Scholar

‘COCIS’, ‘Caesar’ [Cesare Seassaro], La Battaglia Socialista, 4 October 1919 and ‘Comitati di fabbrica e consigli di lavoratori’, pt 2, 3 April 1920; A. Cairo, ‘Guardiamo la provincia’, ibid., 22 May 1920 made a number of similar points concerning trade-union consciousness and underlined the need for a peasant revolution. Interlenghi's contribution to the Provincial PSI Congress (31 December 1919) in La Battaglia Socialista, 3 January 1920, called for more propaganda amongst the peasants Google Scholar

4 June 1920, reprinted in Granata, Sindacato, pp. 214-9 (and pp. 21-40) Google Scholar

‘La costituzione dei Soviet in Italia’, La Battaglia Socialista, 7 February 1920 and Avanti!, 23 January 1920. Bombacci's official programme for soviets was so detailed as to be almost unworkable. It included rural day-labourers as ‘workers’ and outlined separate soviets for all sharecroppers and small property owners who ‘did not exploit workers for their own profit’, ACdS, P. S. 1920, b.140. ‘Caesar's [C. Seassaro] criticisms were brutal, ‘Il progetto di costituzione dei Soviet’, L'Ordine Nuovo, 31 January 1920, and Salvemini later called the plan a ‘masterpiece of idiocy’, ‘Lezioni’, p. 479. For Bombacci's project see S. Noiret, Massimalismo e crisi dello stato liberale: Nicola Bombacci (1879-1924), Milan, 1992, pp. 346-54. On soviets and alliances note the proposals of Colombo (ASMi, cit., 21 August 1919) for a soviet ‘chosen from elements amongst the workers and the peasants’, and for ‘rural soviets’, Almanacco Socialista, 1920, Milan, 1921, pp. 466-7, the ideas of E. Gennari for ‘rural and urban soviets’, ACdS, cit., 12 April 1920 and ‘Per un Soviet urbano’, Avanti!, 21 February 1920, and those of Bordiga ‘Rural and municipal soviets’, in A. Gramsci, Political Writings: 1910-20, Q. Hoare (ed.), 1977, p. 211, which advocated the division of Italy into three ‘soviet’ zones, North, Centre and South. Reports from Russia underlined the alliance possibilities of soviets, ‘L'organizzazione del Soviet’, Almanacco Socialista 1919, Milan, 1920, pp. 184-6 Google Scholar

See I. Granata, ‘Socialismo e fascismo nei comuni del Lodigiano (1919-22)’ in B. Bezza (ed.), Movimento contadino e fascismo nel Lodigiano, pp. 31-89 for the role played by Bellotti in innumerable strikes in the province of Milan in 1919-21 - a role well documented in the archives ASMi Gab. Pref., b's.297-300 A report of a four-hour speech given by Bellotti at the CdL in Milan describes the peasants listening ‘religiously’, La Difesa, 4 December 1919. Even the maximalist La Battaglia Socialista, normally so hostile to the reformists, praised Bellotti as ‘the untiring defender of the peasants’, ‘Dalla provincia’, ‘Magenta’, 14 June 1919. Other examples of peasant meetings in Milan are given in La Difesa, ‘Arena’, 13 March 1920, ‘Una grande manifestazione’, 22 February 1919 and ‘La nostra assemblea’, La Battaglia Socialista, 4 October 1919 Google Scholar

‘Ai Lavoratori delle Fornaci’, La Difesa, 29 March 1919 Google Scholar

See D. Bigazzi, Il Portello; operai, tecnici e imprenditori all'Alfa Romeo, 1906-1926, Milan, 1988, for the case of Alfa Romeo and for the peasant-workers in the textile industry see A. Cento Bull, ‘The Lombard Silk Spinners in the Nineteenth Century: an Industrial Workforce in a Rural Setting’, The Italianist, VII, 1987, pp. 99-121; M. C. Cristolfi and M. Pozzoboni, I tessili milanesi: le fabbriche, gli industriali, i lavoratori, il sindacato dall'Ottocento agli anni '30, and ACdS, P. S. 1919, b.103 Il Portello; operai, tecnici e imprenditori all'Alfa Romeo, 1906-1926 Google Scholar

‘Workers and peasants together’, ‘Melzo’, ‘Dalla Provincia’, La Difesa, 27 September 1919. Melzo was an important area of worker-peasants and therefore of alliances. A police report written during the metalworkers' strike of 1919 warned of problems ‘if the strike is extended to other factories, to the peasants, and to the dairymen of Meizo then there will be the [possibility of] vandalistic acts’, 4 October 1919 Carab. div. Est. Prim. ASMi, Gab. Pref., Cat. 8, b.314. Violence linked to metalworkers, including the sacking of shops on 6 October, seemed to bear out these predictions Google Scholar

‘D.P’, ‘Gaggiano’, La Difesa, December 1919 Google Scholar

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Con Gramsci all'Ordine Nuovo, Rome, 1956, p. 110. But there were cases of ‘peasant day’ initiatives in many factories where peasants were invited by workers to explain their struggles, ibid Google Scholar

Politically, the election of November 1919 was the first held under full male universal suffrage in Italy. It mobilised, as Gramsci pointed out, the whole (male) nation on one day for political reasons, Quaderni del carcere, Turin, 1975, vol. 1, pp. 1166-7, ‘Momenti di vita intensamente collettiva e unitaria nella vita del popolo italiano’. As in the rest of the country, in Milan and Lombardy peasants and workers went to the polls on the same day. In fact the figures show that the turnout was slightly lower in the province of Milan than in the city itself, Città di Milano, November 1919, p. 439. Strikingly, the PSI did almost equally well in the province as in Milan - thus fulfilling its stated wish of a worker-peasant electoral alliance Google Scholar

See ‘La vertenza dei metallurgici provoca lo sciopero generale a Torino e provincia’, Avanti!, 14 April 1920. On 18 April Avanti! wrote that ‘all the workers of fields and factories’ were participating in the strike, ‘Lo sciopero generale a Torino’. See also the circulars by the Committee of Agitation in the Piedmontese Avanti!, 17 April 1920 onwards. R. Bachi described the strike as ‘for its extension certainly the most notable movement of solidarity that has been seen in Italy’, L'Italia economica nell'anno 1920, Milan, 1921, p. 343 Google Scholar

‘La discussione al Consiglio Nazionale Socialista’, 20 April 1920, Avanti!. (The views of the two Avanti! editions, that of Milan and that of Turin, differed in both their interpretation of and support for the strike.) Google Scholar

‘La Discussione …’, Avanti!, 20 April 1920. The full text of this meeting is available in PSI, Archivi del Movimento Operaio, Strumenti di Lavoro, 13 and 16, 1967-8, ‘Il Consiglio Nazionale Socialista: Sessione tenutasi a Milano dal 18-22 Aprile, 1920. Testo stenografico integrale’ Google Scholar

Cited in Maione, Il biennio rosso, p. 115 and pp. 142-4, the reason given was that ‘political’ meetings were not desirable in an ‘economic’ dispute. A. Viglongo confirmed this version of events, ‘of all the leaders of the peasants’ strike, none were decisively favourable to the common battle of peasants and industrial workers', ‘Primi contatti tra contadini e operai: Durante lo sciopero generale’, L'Ordine Nuovo, 8 May 1920. According to Maione there was not even ‘an experiment of concrete unification of the two movements’ during the strike, Il biennio rosso, p. 115 and Tasca argued that the government also blocked their attempts to agitate amongst the peasants, ‘La discussione …’, Avanti!, 20 April 1920. The union leader Bianchi believed that peasants of other provinces would not have followed the Turin workers even if they had been asked to, ‘Incomprensione e incoscienza’, ‘G. B.’, Battaglie Sindacali, 15 May 1920. See also Città di Milano, April 1920 Google Scholar

A. Viglongo also tried to extend this comparison in his important article ‘Primi contatti …’. Control was the issue in both disputes, according to Viglongo. The Turin Strike Committee called the ‘Uffici’ and Factory Councils ‘parallel institutions’ (‘Ai Lavoratori’, Avanti!, [Piedmont], 19 April 1920 Google Scholar

‘L'agitazione agraria nel Novarese’, Il Secolo, 20 April 1920 Google Scholar

Archivi, p. 171 Google Scholar

The lack of regional alliances in this case highlights the Milan/Turin divide noted earlier. Avanti! in Milan refused to print the bulletins of the Turinese Committee of Agitation during the strike. Note the police reports in ASMi, b.317, of CdL meetings on Turin in Milan. Alfa Romeo workers struck in solidarity with Piedmont (16 April 1920) Google Scholar

‘La lezione di Torino. I consigli di Bela Kun’, Avanti!, 29 April 1920. Both Togliatti and Benso from Turin concluded that their city was surrounded by a ‘non-socialist zone’ (five months after the end of the Piedmontese General Strike). Benso's comments are worth quoting in full ‘for a battle to occur with the countryside we must take account of men and provisions. Before the war there were forty Socialist sections in the province, now there are two hundred, the first forty were socialist, these 200 are electoral. And around the city [Turin] there is a mosaic of small property owners. Only Vercelli, Susa could help us’, La CGdL nel sessennio, 1914-20, Livorno, 1921, p. 87; see pp. 78-81 and 87-8 for the comments of Baldesi and Togliatti Google Scholar

See above all the verbatim accounts in ACdS, P. S. 1920, C.2, ‘Movimento sovversivo’, b.119, ‘Ripercussioni dei fatti di Ancona (rivolta dei bersaglieri)’. This revolt extended to Jesi, Chiaravalle and Sinigallia on the periphery of the city, especially on 27 June. Corriere della Sera carried reports of attacks on landowners' homes near Ancona, ‘Episodi tipici della rivolta d'Ancona’, 29 June 1920. Maione, Il biennio rosso, pp. 202-7 views the Ancona revolt as the most revolutionary of the biennio rosso, for its violent repercussions in Milan cf. Mantovani, Mazurka blu, pp. 231-57 Google Scholar

For Lombardy see the reports in La Difesa, 26 April and 17 May 1919 Google Scholar

F. Cavazza, Le agitazioni agrarie in provincia di Bologna dal 1910-1920, Bologna, 1940, p. 171. The Parliamentary Commission on the violence of October 1920 in Bologna noted that ‘socialism, born and strengthened in the countryside, penetrated progressively into the city’ Le agitazioni agrarie in provincia di Bologna dal 1910-1920 171 Google Scholar

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ACdS, P. S. 1920, b.78. Catholics at Bergamo managed to build worker-peasant unity to such an extent that the local Prefect wrote to Rome in 1920 that ‘the agitation of the industrial workers and land workers is so extensive and is increasing so much as to make it nearly certain that such movements of category and class will acquire serious proportions in terms of solidarity and a meeting of interests and ends’. Pref. to Min. of Int., 11 May 1920, no. 439. Cremona, another Catholic area, also saw instances of worker-peasant solidarity (b.78, cit.), and see also the examples in ACdS, P. S. 1919, b.103 teleg. Prefect to Minister, Vimercate, 30 May 1919. Other ‘moments’ can be traced in Città di Milano, October 1919 (Foggia), May 1920, p. 196 (Verona), September 1920, pp. 345-51 (Puglia), and ‘Lo sciopero generale a Verona’, Il Secolo, 24 May 1920 Google Scholar

‘c.m’, ‘Verso l'espropriazione’, La Difesa, 11 September 1920. Earlier Bellotti had urged local ‘peasants’ to be ‘ready to help […] with forms of defence which will be communicated [to you)’, ‘I lavoratori della terra pei metallurgici in lotta’, Avanti!, 3 September 1920 Google Scholar

Printed on the front page of Avanti!, 5 September 1920 and La Battaglia Socialista, 11 September 1920. See also P. Pietrobelli, ‘Contadini, a voi!’, ibid., 11 September 1920 which underlined the basis of a worker-peasant alliance and the need for common class action towards a socialist future. Crucially, the Federterra's votes swung the ‘vote on the revolution’ in Milan (10 September 1920) against the metalworkers continuing their occupation and an extension of the agitation to the countryside. Thus, rural union leaders again rejected, as during the Turin general strike, a worker-peasant alliance, G. Williams, Proletarian Order. Antonio Gramsci, Factory Councils and the Origins of Italian Communism, 1974, p. 266 and P. Spriano, L'occupazione delle fabbriche, Turin, 1968, p. 112. The Federterra was the most moderate voting group in the CGdL, more moderate even than the Buozzi faction. See the figures at the CGdL congress of 25 July 1918 where the Federterra voted for the least radical motion (ASMi, Gab. Pref., b.1044) Google Scholar

For Lombardy see La Difesa, ‘La grande battaglia dei metallurgici’, 18 September 1920, and ‘La strepitosa vittoria dei metallurgici’, 25 September 1920, where the land workers were described as having been ‘ready to make common cause’ with the workers. cfr., Città di Milano, September 1920, which described some contemporary land occupations in Lombardy (p. 347) and of textile factories in Piedmont. Bellotti spoke at a number of metalworkers' support meetings ACdS, P. S. 1920, C.2, b.116, ‘Ordine pubblico; affari per provincia; movimento sovversivo’ Google Scholar

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Author details

Foot, John