The Socialists (PSI) In Italy, 1909 C

Detailed knowledge of the socialists in Italy post war for Edexcel AS History Modern, Italy and Fascism 1919-25

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The Socialists (PSI) in Italy
Conditions for growth of the left were very favourable in post war Italy:
Socialists had always opposed the war.
Working conditions deteriorated during the war
Workers and peasants suffered disproportionately from the war both on
the front line and the home front (see rations above etc.)
Extension of the franchise:
1909 only literate males could vote (1.3 million people or 8.3%)
1913 any males above the age of 21 and literate and any male above the age of 30
regardless of literacy could vote. (8.4 million people or 23.%)
1919all males could vote (10.3 million people or 27.3%)
Membership of the PSI
1915: 50,000 1919: 200,000
Membership of the CGL (General Confederation of Labour)
1915: 400,000 1919: 2 million
1919 electionsSocialists gain 32.4% of vote
1920 local elections take over 26 of 69 provinces (mainly in North and in urban areas)
191920 The "Bienno Rosso" (the Two Red years)
Urban areas
series of strikes over working conditions
53 million working days lost
Reaches a climax in Sept 1920 0.5 million workers on strike in Milan and Turin taking
over factories, flying red flags, forming workers' militia
Fiat workers of Turin:
"The workers of Fiat intend only intend to negotiate in terms of the abolition of the ruling and
exploiting class"
(we want whole of elite and middle classes to be abolished)
Rural areas
Fedeterra organized series of strikes, sit ins and land seizures. They demanded an
end to seasonal work and a break up and redistribution of land the latifundia owned
by the latifundisti.
Government response to the strikes:
Due to the Policy of Neutrality (..?), (Giolitti is back in power 192021) nothing was
The Maximalist/minimalist split
The socialists pronounced themselves as a Marxist party, aiming for a socialist republic
thus they spoke of eventual withering away of the state, after a period of dictatorship of
the proletariat. There would be worker's control of industry, and the nationalisation
of all land. Religion, described as "the opium of the masses" would wither away in their new
socialist society. However, although the party officially stood united behind this programme,
it was deeply split between Maximalists and Minimalists:
Maximalistsurged the revolution to enact their full programme
Minimalistsdominated the parliamentary party, were more prepared to use
parliament to enact reforms on the way to full socialism.
In Jan 1923 the PSI party split into 3. An even more radical group, prepared to join the
Communist International on Lenin's terms, broke away from the Maximalists to form
the Communist Party, PCI.
The three main unions of the socialist movement, (the national PSI, socialist unions, and
Socialist councils) were all internally divided and failed to work together effectively. They had

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Turati and Bissolati, but noone could unite a
Problems facing the Socialist party
Maximalist/minimalist splitStruggled to work together because Socialist
movement split up into lots of groups so it was hard to pull together and work in the
same direction
Poor leadershipThey had a series of worthy leaders, such as Turati and
Bissolati, but noone could unite a majority.…read more


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