Giovanni Baldelli

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Giovanni Baldelli (1914–1986) was an anarchist theorist, best known for his 1971 work Social Anarchism[1] which defines social anarchism and provides a framework for its introduction.

Social Anarchism was published originally by Aldine in the USA in 1971 and by Penguin in the UK in 1972. It has now been republished (2009) by Transaction Publishers[2] and is readily available.

Giovanni Baldelli also wrote poetry, plays and philosophical works. Published poetry includes: In French the collections "Quand l'aube se survit," "Chair à étoiles," "Proses et poèmes," "Le pied à l’étrier". In Italian the collections "Itinerario"[3] and "All'ombra del gufo". In English "Seven Fugues".

Baldelli regularly wrote articles for anarchist journals, including the Italian publications "Internazionale" and "Volontà".

Personal history[edit]

Early Life Giovanni Baldelli was born in Milan on the 22nd May 1914. His mother Josephine Gilg was French and his father Luigi Baldelli, Italian. His father spent most of his working life in the army eventually achieving the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Giovanni’s early years were spent in Milan and at Cornate d’Adda and Merate He had two sisters (Maria and Elena), and an older brother Eugenio. Elena died whilst still in infancy. At the age of 15 his education was cut short by his idealistically wanting to become a ‘peasant’ and work on the land. He held strong opinions even at this early age and being outspoken attracted the attention of the fascist police. He therefore left for France where the family had relatives. With no identity card or work permit he had to continually change jobs accepting what work he could, mostly in the building trade. It was in France that he had his first meeting with Anarchists and became an Anarchist himself. During this period he spent some time in Spain as an Anarchist activist.

Adult History Giovanni returned to Italy in 1932 under the orders of Luigi Faravelli (in charge of the Milan area for ‘Giustizia e Liberta’) to continue with propaganda etc. He was arrested in March 1933 for anti-fascist activities and held at Regina Coeli, Rome until the 11th December 1933. He was put at the disposal of the Special Tribunal and released after nine months for insufficient evidence. During this period of incarceration he was under the ‘Tribunale Speciale’ for five months. He took part again in underground activities, even during his military service, at the same time qualifying for University admission and as a Teacher. Unable to teach because of his political precedents and to go to University because of lack of means, he left Italy again this time for England on the advice of his father who had already interceded on his behalf with the Italian authorities. His best Anarchist friend had been killed in Spain and others had returned from there, disillusioned. It was during this period that he started his Anarchist writings (in Solidarite International Antifasciste edited by the pacifist Lecoin), doing so with Spain as his main concern. After the fall of Madrid, members of the ‘Junta’ and of the Anarcho-Syndicalist ‘Comite de Defensa’ came to London and he made friends with them. He also began writing down his thoughts in diaries and commenced writing short stories. Much of the material from this period has been lost. His first job on arrival in England was as a language teacher. From September 1937 he was teaching French and Latin at Frensham Heights School in Surrey. During this period he met and made friends with the British Painter Ursulla McCannell (died 2015), who became a lifelong friend and confidante. His second teaching post was at Oakmount School in Southampton for two terms in 1940. He travelled to France as much as he could, staying with family, and under a pseudonym continued his anti-fascist writings. He wrote in his diary that the pressure of daily school life left him little time to think and write. He left to stay with Spanish friends in London, where he was arrested as an enemy alien on the 13th June 1940. Amongst other Italians he was moved around the country to various temporary internment camps finally being boarded on the fated Arandora Star which was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland by a German U boat whilst full of mainly Italian ‘enemy aliens’, German Jews who had fled Nazi Germany and sought shelter in the UK, and some Prisoners of War. The Italian contingent saw great loss of life, Giovanni being lucky enough to survive by climbing down the side of the ship into the sea and being picked up by one of the life boats. Rescued by a Canadian war ship they were taken to Lockheed in Scotland, and then down to Liverpool and boarded on the Dunera which set sail for Australia. Conditions aboard the Dunera were appalling and they internees were badly treated by the guards. This ship was also torpedoed but resulted only in a slight knock by the first torpedo and the second torpedo travelling close to, but under, the hull. Giovanni said that for those survivors of the Arandora Star, the sound of being hit again in the Dunera, was devastating especially as being held where they were on board the ship, they would have had no chance of survival. He was landed at Melbourne on the 3rd September 1940 and interned at the Totura Internment Camp no.2 on the 10th September 1940. His experiences following his arrest and the period of internment were significant for his philosophical development and writing. (More to follow).


  1. ^ Giovanni Baldelli, Social Anarchism (Piscataway, New Jersey: Transaction Publishing, 2009), pages 204. ISBN 978-0-202-36339-4
  2. ^ Giovanni Baldelli, Social Anarchism (Piscataway, New Jersey: Transaction Publishing, 2009), pages 204. ISBN 978-0-202-36339-4. Retrieved 17-04-2010 from the Transaction Publishers website.
  3. ^ Giovanni Baldelli, Itineario (Parma: Guanda, 1973), 168 p., 19 cm. Retrieved 14-04-2010 from the National Library of Australia (Bib ID: 1593162).

Further reading[edit]

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