Those without a Country: The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists

Those without a Country: The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists

Those without a Country: The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists

Those without a Country: The Political Culture of Italian American Syndicalists

Excerpt

In late 1911, just before he became a leader of the famous Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile workers’ strike, Arturo Giovannitti’s eyes were on Italy. His native country had invaded Tripoli earlier that year. Though he had been in the United States for almost eight years, he not only carefully followed events in the country of his birth, he still sought to play an active role there. He was a member of the Federazione Socialista Italiana (FSI), which had just become a syndicalist organization—advocating revolution achieved through increasingly confrontational strikes waged by militant unions. Its members’ first act under the mantle of this ideology was opposition to Italy’s war in Tripoli, which they argued could only harm the Italian working class. Giovannitti and other Federation members spoke at public meetings in New York, where the Federation was based, and visited Italian American communities throughout the Northeast and Midwest to protest the war. Giovannitti and other members used the pages of Il Proletario, the weekly FSI newspaper he edited, to combat the war, as well.

Throughout their protest, Federation members sought out concrete connections to the land of their birth. A former FSI member who had returned to Italy served as war correspondent for Il Proletario. One Federation member called for fellow syndicalists to return to Italy en masse to reclaim the country they had been forced to leave. The same Federation member addressed the proponents of the war in pointedly gendered terms. In a letter to the queen of Italy, he explained that revolutionaries had what they called the “cult of the woman” and appealed to . . .

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