“We have seen our workers exploited and held in low regard not only by the capitalists but also by the revolutionary comrades of other countries. We therefore know from experience how internationalism is nothing but fiction and hypocrisy” — Edmondo Rossoni
I would like to personally welcome you to the debut of a new series where the goal is to bring lesser known figures of third position political theory to the attention of our readers. Our first individual is Edmondo Rossoni, a syndicalist leader and later fascist politician who along with Benito Mussolini transformed Italy into a fascist state.
Rossoni’s life began in Tresigallo in the province of Ferrara where he was born into a working class family. An unabashed syndicalist, Rossoni was persecuted and imprisoned for his “radical” beliefs in 1908. Two years later he would find himself in America, where he worked as an editor for syndicalist papers such as “Il Proletario”. It was, however, in America that Rossoni became disillusioned by the internationalism that was pushed by socialists movements. This was due to harsh treatment endured by Italians, committed by both capitalists and orthodox socialist groups. Learning this motivated him to return to Italy to merge nationalism with class struggle.
He returned to Italy at the beginning of World War I where he served in the military. After the conclusion of the war, Rossoni found the opportunity to join Mussolini’s blackshirt movement. It was here where Rossoni acquired a reputation for being an individual of fiery passion when it came to labor and corporatist issues. To transform Italy into a fascist syndicate state he developed a program of corporativismo integrale which strived for “labor’s autonomy and class consciousness” through Fascist led trade unions. While Rossini was leader of the Fascist Syndicate from 1920 to 1924, membership grew from 250,000 to 1.8 million. This was due to a combination of his charisma and strongman approach to labor issues which worried the industrialists, whom he came to regularly call “vampires” and “profiteers”. Rossoni had proven himself as a firm and capable leader of the Italian Fascist Syndicate, and found himself in various positions within the Italian Fascist Party throughout his career, such as minister of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry from 1935-1939.
Unfortunately Rossoni’s most controversial moment was when he voted to remove Benito Mussolini from power after it became clear that the Italian cause was lost and a number of military decisions made by Mussolini had proven costly. He would be sentenced to death in absentia by Mussolini who now led the the Italian Social Republic in northern Italy. He escaped to Canada to avoid persecution, but later returned to Italy in 1947 where he would spend his final days until passing away on June 8, 1965 at the age of 81. Most works regarding Edmondo Rossoni are in his native Italian language. Edmondo Rossoni: From Revolutionary Syndicalism to Fascism is available to English speakers.