CXXIII - Socialisme libéral, by Carlo Rosselli, comments by André Bandeira

It is very exciting to read this book, the only one Carlo Rosselli wrote, this said in 1930, in French, speciallly when the copy one has in hand, had been signed by Carlo Rosselli himself and even contains one important correction he wrote by hand ( about Mazzini's intentions). Carlo Rosselli was an oppositionist to Mussolini, who fought in the same volunteer italian force, during the spanish civil war, side by side with italians such as Berneri, this one having been slaughtered by the communists. He himself, died, in the aftermath of the spanish civil war, victim of a pay-back with french rightists, in the south of France. Rosselli coined the term «liberal socialism» as Mussolini had coinded the expression «totalitarian». Basically, Rosselli takes a distance from the marxist dogma in socialism, he says that Marx was wrong in his catastrophism, in his theory of the plus-value and in his deterministic image of «class struggle». He honors Marx for waking up the workers who didn't have neither the culture, nor the means for reacting to a society which condemned them to live and die like beasts of burden. But he points out that the working class has, in the meantime, made so much progress as the capitalist society itself, in such a way that the vindications of socialism have to be more on the cultural side, striving for more individual freedom and morals. Thus, Socialism has the same aim of keeping a freer and freer society where the fundamental rights are respected and the mechanisms of a liberal democratic society are an end in itself. Of course there is always the bourgeois liberalism in the way, but the Burgeoisie itself is plural, with segments open to innovation and more freedom, coexisting with other segments who just want to conserve the privileges taken from the Aristocrats. In theoretical terms, he subscribes to Bernstein, the revisionist, telling that, in Socialism « die Bewegung ist alles» (the movement is everything) and the aim is open, depending on any individual and social filling. Politically, he lines up with the Labour Party, in England, and Proudhon's tradition, in France. Rosselli, who wrote this 80 years ago, and who paid with his life, for his commitment, is balanced, tolerant, precise and very civilized. He comes from a jewish familiy from the North of Italy, has a strong connection with one of the world's cultural capitals, Florence, and he even could anticipate the socialist outset for gay rights and animal rights. But there is something disturbing in this very civilized character: he boasts that everything that Mussolini was doing in Italy would cater for the italians surpassing their primitive and fragmentary political society, to rationalize Italy and give birth to a liberal society after the fall of the dictator. This proved to be optimism: Rosselli describes the fascist movement as «groups of outcasts, criminals, hallucinated,  and also idealists at the forefront of a political and romantic delirium...». Then, he describes the italian national character as one lacking autonomy of thought, with a «very rich inner life, although very much one-sided» and «morally lazy». I' d rahter think that it was this kind of «british» vision which catered for Mussolini to stay in power, to be demoted in 1943, while still keeping on his side a large portion of the italian population, and fight a civil war that some say only ended up in the sixties. Two final remarks on this very consensual and obviously remarkable man: when he says that the fight of the oppressed should be mostly for Education, he has a biased idea of what to educate about, and he leaves a slight scratch on those ones which, by lack of words, have to consent in being labeled as «ignorants». Second, he says, something that has been attributed to Churchill: the speech on «blood, sweat and tears». Apparently,  it was Garibaldi who said something very similar, in a much riskier situation for the speaker, 70 years before the astute and resourceful Churchill had done it.


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