A Heterodox Marxist and His Century: Lelio Basso

Selected Writings


Lelio Basso was a major thinker and political leader of Italian socialism; his writings are here presented for the first time in English translation. They document his anti-fascist work from the 1920s to the 1940s, his short-lived leadership of the Socialist Party, his internationalist work in the 1970s, his rediscovery of Rosa Luxemburg and renewal of Marxist thinking. The texts collected in this book provide an original contribution to the renewal of Marxism in Europe and an example of political practice rooted in mass mobilisation and international solidarity, with major lessons for the contemporary left.

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Lelio Basso (1903-1978) was a major figure of the Italian left. Engaged early on in clandestine work against Fascism, he later became a secretary of Italy’s Socialist Party, a leader of radical politics, the organiser of the International Russell Tribunal, and an important Marxist scholar of Rosa Luxemburg.

Chiara Giorgi is a researcher in Contemporary History at ‘Sapienza’ University of Rome in the Department of Philosophy and works with the Fondazione Basso. She has authored a biography of Lelio Basso and books on Fascism, Italian Colonialism, the Welfare State, and Socialism.

Chiara Giorgi

Part 1 In Search of Marx: The Writings of the Young Lelio Basso

1 Socialism and Philosophy, Avanti!, 2 March 1924

2 Term of Comparison, Conscientia, 9 May 1925

3 Reform and European Thought: Marx, Conscientia, 25 July 1925

4 Socialism and Idealism, ‘Il Quarto Stato’, 10 April 1926

Part 2 Marxism and the History of Italy

5 The Working Class in the Social Republic, Istituto di studi Socialisti-Libreria Editrice Avanti!, Rome-Milan 1944–5

6 Training Cadres. Problems of the Party, Unità proletaria, 15 April 1945

7 Democracy and Legalism, Avanti!, 23 February 1947

Part 3 The Interpretation of Marxism After Rosa Luxemburg

8 Rosa Luxemburg, Il Quarto Stato, 15 January 1949

9 The Contribution of Rosa Luxemburg to the Development of Marx’s Ideas, in Rosa Luxemburg e lo sviluppo del pensiero marxista, Franco Angeli, Milano 1976

10 The Dialectical Nature of the State According to Marx, in G. Carandini, Stato e teorie marxiste, Mazzotta, Milano 1977

11 Society and State in the Thought of Marx, Problemi del socialismo, 1973, 13–14, pp. 115–48

12 Marxism and Revolution, ‘Problemi del socialismo’, October, 1966, no. 11

13 Lenin and Marx, Revolutions at the Centre and Revolutions in the Periphery of Capitalism, Il Segnalatore, June 1971, no. 1

14 Marx, Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg, Rinascita, 7 January 1972, no. 1

15 The Transition to Socialism, Problemi del socialismo, January–March 1977, no. 5

Part 4 Marxism, a Science of Revolution (Selected Writings Drawn from Lelio Basso, Socialismo e rivoluzione, Feltrinelli, Milan, 1980)

16 Socialism as the Emancipation of Man

17 The Scientist and the Revolutionary

All those interested in Italy’s contemporary history, anti-Fascism, Italian radical politics, Marxist thinking, Socialist politics.
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