Lelio Basso

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Lelio Basso
Lelio Basso Senato.jpg
Personal details
Born(1903-12-25)25 December 1903
Varazze, Italy
Died16 December 1978(1978-12-16) (aged 74)
Pietro Nenni (second from the left) and Lelio Basso (on the left) in Warsaw, with them on the right Stanislaw Szwalbe Pietro Nenni - Film nr 25 - 1947-09-15.JPG
Pietro Nenni (second from the left) and Lelio Basso (on the left) in Warsaw, with them on the right Stanisław Szwalbe

Lelio Basso (25 December 1903 – 16 December 1978) was an Italian democratic socialist politician and journalist.

Italy republic in Southern Europe

Italy, officially the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 (116,350 sq mi) and has a largely temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe.

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that advocates political democracy alongside social ownership of the means of production, with an emphasis on self-management and democratic management of economic institutions within a market or some form of decentralized planned socialist economy. Democratic socialists espouse that capitalism is inherently incompatible with what they hold to be the democratic values of liberty, equality and solidarity; and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Democratic socialism can be supportive of either revolutionary or reformist politics as a means to establish socialism.


Early life

Lelio Basso was born in Varazze (in the province of Savona) into a Liberal bourgeois family. In 1916, he and his family moved to Milan where he attended the liceo classico Berchet. He enrolled at the Faculty of Law at the University of Pavia in 1921, and joined the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). He studied Marxist doctrine, and was close to Piero Gobetti during his Liberal Revolution phase. In his youth, Basso worked on Critica sociale, Il Caffè, Avanti! , Coscientia, Quarto Stato, and Pietre - which he directed in 1928, initially from Genoa, then from Milan. In 1925, he graduated in Law with a thesis on the concept of freedom in Marxist thought.

Varazze Comune in Liguria, Italy

Varazze is a comune (municipality) in the Province of Savona in the Italian region Liguria, located about 30 kilometres (19 mi) west of Genoa and about 11 kilometres (7 mi) northeast of Savona in the Riviera di Ponente. Nearby in the Ligurian Apennines is the Monte Beigua with its Natural Regional Park.

Province of Savona Province of Italy

The province of Savona is a province in the Liguria region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Savona, which has a population of 61,219 inhabitants. The province has a total population of 279,754.

Liberalism and radicalism have played a role in the political history of Italy since the country's unification, started in 1861 and largely completed in 1871, and currently influence several leading political parties.

In April 1928, Basso was arrested by the Fascist authorities in Milan and interned on the island of Ponza, where he studied for his degree in philosophy. He returned to Milan in 1931 and, while practising as a lawyer, graduated with a thesis on Rudolf Otto. In 1934 he once more took up politics as director of the Centro Interno Socialista, with Rodolfo Morandi, Lucio Luzzatto and Eugenio Colorni. This work was interrupted by his imprisonment in the internment camp in Colfiorito (Province of Perugia) from 1939 to 1940.

Fascism Form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism

Fascism is a form of radical, right-wing, authoritarian ultranationalism, characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition, and strong regimentation of society and of the economy, which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe. The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I before it spread to other European countries. Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far-right within the traditional left–right spectrum.

Ponza largest of the Italian Pontine Islands

Ponza is the largest island of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km (21 mi) south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It is also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

In the Resistance and the early Italian Republic

After lengthy, secret preparations, he was present at the founding of the Movimento di Unità Proletaria (MUP) on 10 January 1943. The leading group of the movement was formed by Basso, Luzzatto, Roberto Veratti, and Umberto Recalcati. After 25 July (when Benito Mussolini was ousted by a coup d'état inside his Grand Council of Fascism), the movement joined with the PSI to form the Italian Socialist Party of Proletarian Unity (PSIUP), with Basso as one of the leading figures. Later in 1943, Basso went against the party line to found the clandestine newspaper Bandiera Rossa. In the period leading up to the 1945 Liberation, Basso was an active member of the Italian resistance movement and, with Sandro Pertini and Rodolfo Morandi, he set up the covert executive body of the PSIUP in northern Italy (the territory of the Fascist Italian Social Republic), which he had the responsibility for running.

Benito Mussolini Duce and President of the Council of Ministers of Italy. Leader of the National Fascist Party and subsequent Republican Fascist Party

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician and journalist who was the leader of the National Fascist Party. He ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1943; he constitutionally led the country until 1925, when he dropped the pretense of democracy and established a dictatorship.

Coup détat Sudden deposition of a government; illegal and overt seizure of a state by the military or other elites within the state apparatus

A coup d'état, also known as a putsch, a golpe, or simply as a coup, means the overthrow of an existing government; typically, this refers to an illegal, unconstitutional seizure of power by a dictator, the military, or a political faction.

Grand Council of Fascism

The Grand Council of Fascism was the main body of Mussolini's Fascist government in Italy. A body which held and applied great power to control the institutions of government, it was created as a body of the National Fascist Party in 1923 and became a state body on 9 December 1928. The council usually met at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, which was also the seat of head of the Italian government.

Post-1945, Lelio Basso was elected Vice-secretary of the PSIUP, and, in 1946, became a deputy to the Italian Constituent Assembly which consecrated the Republic. He was on the 75-member Commission that was to write the text of the Italian Constitution, and contributed to the formulation of articles 3 and 49 [1] in particular. From 1946 to 1968, he was consistently elected deputy, and was elected senator in 1972 and 1976.

Constituent Assembly of Italy parliamentary chamber tasked with writing a constitution for the Italian Republic

The Italian Constituent Assembly was a parliamentary chamber which existed in Italy from 25 June 1946 until 31 January 1948. It had the task to write a constitution for the Italian Republic, which had replaced the Kingdom of Italy after the Italian civil war.

Constitution of Italy supreme law of Italy

The Constitution of the Italian Republic was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 22 December 1947, with 453 votes in favour and 62 against. The text, which has since been amended 15 times, was promulgated in the extraordinary edition of Gazzetta Ufficiale No. 298 on 27 December 1947. The Constituent Assembly was elected by universal suffrage on 2 June 1946, at the same time as a referendum on the abolition of the monarchy. The Constitution came into force on 1 January 1948, one century after the Statuto Albertino had been enacted. Although the latter remained in force after Benito Mussolini's March on Rome in 1922, it had become devoid of substantive value.


In 1946 he set up the review Quarto Stato , which remained in print until 1950. At the time of the Giuseppe Saragat schism (1947), Basso became Secretary of the PSI, a role he occupied until the Genoa Congress in 1949. In 1950 he was not re-elected to the leading ranks due to his opposing views on the Stalinist leanings of the party at the time. At the 1953 Milan Congress he was not included in the central committee, and was only re-admitted in 1955. At the 1957 Venice Congress, he returned to the ruling body. The following year, Basso launched Problemi del Socialismo (still in print today with the new title Parolechiave).

Giuseppe Saragat 5th President of Italy

Giuseppe Saragat was an Italian politician who was the fifth President of the Italian Republic from 1964 to 1971.

Stalinism theory and practice for developing a communist society

Stalinism is the means of governing and related policies implemented from around 1927 to 1953 by Joseph Stalin (1878–1953). Stalinist policies and ideas as developed in the Soviet Union included rapid industrialization, the theory of socialism in one country, a totalitarian state, collectivization of agriculture, a cult of personality and subordination of the interests of foreign communist parties to those of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, deemed by Stalinism to be the leading vanguard party of communist revolution at the time.

Basso was an active member of the left-wing of the PSI from 1959. In December 1963, he made a voting statement to the Chamber, signed by 24 members of the minority of the Socialist parliamentary group against the first Center-left government (led by Aldo Moro). This earned him suspension from the party, and, in January 1964, he participated in the constituent assembly of the PSIUP. Basso was one of the leaders of the new party, and was its President from 1965 to 1968.

As lawyer

Lelio Basso founded and wrote for a number of international publications. He was famous throughout Europe as a criminal lawyer, and sat in the Russell Tribunal, an international body presided by Bertrand Russell, established to judge American crimes in the Vietnam War. In 1973, he worked to establish a second Russell Tribunal to examine the repression being carried out in Latin America, and worked to set up the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal (established after his death, in 1979). In 1973 he also founded the Fondazione Lelio e Lisli Basso in Rome, and, in 1976, the Fondazione Internazionale and the Lega Internazionale per i Diritti e la Liberazione dei Popoli. He died in Rome.


Lelio Basso’s life was a medley of intellectual activity and research on the one hand and the search for an effective political instrument on the other, all on an international scale. As an expert and interpreter of the work of Karl Marx, he adopted an original approach in his re-elaboration of the view of Socialism, and drew upon different lines of thought from the sphere of democratic thought in the broadest possible sense (French democratic tradition, German "academic socialism", Italian socialist thought and the Austro-Marxists). During his internment, he read the works of Rosa Luxemburg, and worked tirelessly to promote a critical awareness of her thought in Italy.

Basso wrote a huge number of essays for periodicals and collections. His most important titles include:

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  1. Lelio Basso was contrary to judicial intervention, in the relations between the party and its members: Buonomo, Giampiero (2016). "Le multe di Di Maio". Mondoperaio edizione online.  via  Questia (subscription required)