Luigi Fabbri

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Luigi Fabbri
Luigi Fabbri.JPG
Born23 December 1877
Died24 June 1935
Montevideo, Uruguay
EducationUniversity of Macerata
OccupationWriter, anarchist activist
Spouse(s)Bianca Sbriccoli
ChildrenLuce and Vero

Luigi Fabbri (23 December 1877 – 24 June 1935) was an Italian anarchist, writer, and educator, who was charged with defeatism during World War I. He was the father of Luce Fabbri.

Fabbri was first sentenced for anarchist activities at the age of 16 in Ancona, and spent many years in and out of Italian prisons. Fabbri was a long time and prolific contributor to the anarchist press in Europe and later South America, including co-editing, along with Errico Malatesta, the paper L'Agitazione. He helped edit the paper "Università popolare" in Milan. Fabbri was a delegate to the International Anarchist Congress held in Amsterdam in 1907. He died in Montevideo, Uruguay in 1935.

He was the author of: Dictatorship and Revolution (Dettadura e Rivoluzione), a response to Lenin's work The State and the Revolution; Malatesta's Life, translated by Adam Wight (originally published in 1936), this book was published again with expanded content in 1945. He also wrote other political books. In Uruguay, he dedicated himself to school and secondary education, maintaining his ideas. He was the father of the Uruguayan anarchist and educator Luce Fabbri.


Fabbri was born in Fabriano, in the province of Ancona, on 23 December 1877 to Curzio Fabbri and Angela Sbriccioli. While still a student at the Technical Institute of Ancona, he embraced anarchist ideals, under the influence of Virgilio Condulmari, a shoemaker from Recanati. On 9 June 1894, he was arrested and sentenced to 25 days in prison for participating in an anarchist demonstration.

He enrolled as a law student at the University of Macerata and started to collaborate on a number of the anarchist periodicals including The Thought of Chieti, The Human Protest of Tunis, The Social Future of Messina and L'Agitazione of Ancona. In 1897 he met Errico Malatesta. On 10 May 1898 he was arrested again and sent to confinement, first on the island of Ponza and then in Favignana. Released on 17 October 1900, he dropped out of school and moved to Rome, founding the theoretical magazine Il Pensiero with Pietro Gori in 1903.

After taking part, on 20 September 1904, in the International Congress of Free Thought, he went to France to contact the major exponents of anarchism, in order to encourage the revival of political organization at an international level. He saw Sébastien Faure, Jean Grave, Léon Jouhaux, Charles Malato, Jacques Mesnil, Pierre Monatte, and met with Malatesta in London. On 16 June 1907, at the Italian Anarchist Congress, Fabbri proposed the coordination of the numerous anarchist groups operating in Italy.

Two months later, on 21 August the International Anarchist Congress was held in Amsterdam. The Italian delegates to both this and the international anti-militarist congress were Fabbri, Malatesta and Aristide Ceccarelli. In 1908 translations of his writings appeared in Spain and Germany, Syndicalism and Anarchism, where Fabbri notes the resemblances of anarchism with revolutionary syndicalism, and Marxism and Anarchism, in which he distinguishes anarchism from Marxist socialism. The following year he settled in Bologna, where he joined the Chamber of Labor and became secretary of the Bolognese metallurgical union. During this time, Fabbri married Bianca Sbriccoli, with whom he had the children Luce and Vero.

In May 1909, the congress of revolutionary trade unionists was held in Bologna, which decided by a large majority to join the reformist General Confederation of Labour, in an attempt to bring a revolutionary change to the Bolognese union. This initiative was imitated throughout Italy, but it was short-lived, because, on 23 November 1912, revolutionary anarchists and syndicalists left the CGL, instead founding the USI, the Italian Syndicalist Union, a choice approved by Fabbri.

In 1913, he moved back to Ancona, where with Errico Malatesta he founded the magazine Volontà and published the Letters to a socialist, a strenuous criticism of the parliamentarianism promoted by the Italian Socialist Party, and The conscious generation, in support of birth control. In June 1914, Fabbri was among the protagonists of the Red Week and was forced to flee to Lugano, Switzerland, in order to escape arrest. In December of the same year, he took a merchant ship to the south of Italy, traveled the entire length peninsula and appeared in Genoa, hailed by the crowd as a revolutionary leader, a role he always refused to assume, due to his libertarian ideological convictions. He fought vehemently against any form of interventionism in World War I, sparing no criticism even to those anarchists, such as Peter Kropotkin, who had declared themselves in support of the imperialist forces engaged in the conflict.

In the wake of the October Revolution, the Italian Anarchist Union was founded. In this new organization, Fabbri and Malatesta attempted to reconcile traditional anarchist individualism with the organizational structure of the Union, trying to "find a formula that would allow the maximum performance of each individual, allowing greater autonomy and greater elasticity".[1] The anarchists had an important role during the Biennio Rosso of 1919–1920. On 26 February 1920, Umanità Nova was founded by Malatesta. Fabbri collaborated on this newspaper, in 1921 he published Dictatorship and Revolution, a collection of his articles where he expressed his criticism of the new Soviet state and the Marxist principle of dictatorship of the proletariat. Fabbri, through his writing, encouraged workers to continue the occupation of their factories, while Malatesta went to the factories in Rome, to personally try to continue the movement. Fabbri, at that point, was already very pessimistic, and thought that the revolutionary moment had already passed. Although he wanted to take advantage of every last opportunity, he did not believe that the outcome was favorable to the anarchists. Reflecting on the causes of the defeat, Fabbri wrote:

“From the beginning of 19 some kind of doomsday began. Everything spoke of revolution, and in fact the revolution was secured by the majority; the adversaries themselves were ready to reconcile with it ... But the revolution did not win, was not carried out ... The Italian proletariat seemed to expect a repetition of the miracles of Jericho - namely, the death of the bourgeois Bastille, that is, the capitalist state, only from the action of singing revolutionary hymns and fluttering red banners ”[2]

Despite massive demonstrations, clashes with the police, and the seizure of factories by the Italian proletariat, there was no proletarian revolution in Italy, but instead there was "a real preventive counter-revolution, of which fascism was the most active and impressive factor".[3] Fabbri began to have great difficulties in Italy from the rise to power of Benito Mussolini in 1922, being arrested twice. The situation became very difficult for all anarchists living under the fascist regime. In any case, during the first years of fascism, propaganda continued, albeit in a very limited capacity: the Malatesta newspaper Pensiero e Volontá was founded in 1924, but was suspended shortly thereafter. Umanitá Nova also met with difficulties, when it was not prohibited outright.

Fabbri was a primary school teacher, and continued to teach for over 4 years. In 1926 it became mandatory for teachers to swear allegiance to the fascist regime, which Fabbri refused, in keeping with his moral and political principles. He crossed the border into France, separating himself from his family. His son and wife went to Rome to work, while their daughter remained in Bologna for two years. Later, his wife and daughter met Fabbri in France, but their son remained in the Italian capital, and they never saw each other again.

Under pressure from the Italian embassy, France threatened Fabbri with expulsion. While diplomatic procedures were being carried out, the police detained him at his hotel and deposited him at the border with Belgium, clandestinely passing him across the border, so as not to be detained by the Belgian authorities that would just send him back to France. Once in Brussels, he began to prepare a trip to South America, traveling by boat with his family to Uruguay.

In 1929 he reached Uruguay with his family, in Montevideo he became director of the Italian school, but following the protests of the fascist regime he was fired. Fabbri moved to Buenos Aires and continued his collaboration on the anarchist newspaper The Protest. He devoted himself more fully to journalistic activity in the Rio Plata region, where he dealt with the political and trade union problems of the local workers' movement, in which there was a strong anarchist presence. He also worked as a teacher, although the editors of The Protest helped him financially. But on 6 September 1930, a military coup by José Félix Uriburu ended the democratic government of Hipólito Yrigoyen, and prohibited all worker activity, and especially persecuted the anarchists. The Protest was closed and their offices and printing press were destroyed. Luigi Fabbri moved to Uruguay, where he lived his last years. In 1935, Luigi Fabbri died while he edited a book on Errico Malatesta's writings and life.

Published works[edit]


  • Federico Ferretti, "Reading Reclus between Italy and South America: translations of geography and anarchism in the work of Luce and Luigi Fabbri", Journal of Historical Geography , 53 (2016), pp. 75–85.
  • Luce Fabbri, Notes on the life of Luigi Fabbri , in "Social studies", Montevideo, X, 14, 1939
  • Ugo Fedeli, Luigi Fabbri , Turin, Anarchist publishing group, 1948
  • Enzo Santarelli, Luigi Fabbri , in "Biographical dictionary of the Italian workers' movement", edited by F. Andreucci and T. Detti, II, Rome, Editori Riuniti, 1976
  • Nora Lipparoni, The origins of fascism in Luigi Fabbri's thought , Fabriano, EPC, 1979
  • Saints Faithful, Luigi Fabbri. A libertarian between Bolshevism and fascism , Pisa, BFS, 2006 ISBN 978-88-89413-09-8

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Fedeli, Ugo (1948). Luigi Fabbri. Torino: Gruppo editoriale anarchico. p. 54.
  2. ^ Ustryalov, N.V. (2001). Italian fascism. Moscow. p. 62.
  3. ^ Fabbri, Luigi (1922). "Preventative Counter-Revolution". p. 26.

External links[edit]