Encyclopedia of Trotskyism On-Line: Revolutionary History, Vol. 8 No. 2


Arturo Peregalli (1948–2001) [1]

ARTURO Peregalli died in Milan after a long battle with cancer on 13 June 2001. He was just 53 years old.

Arturo was born in 1948 in a small village in the mountain valley of Valtellina, to the north of Milan. His father was a worker, and soon the whole family moved to Milan, where Arturo experienced at first hand life’s difficulties and a society that was ripe with contradictions, and clearly divided along class lines.

In 1966, when large sections of Italian youth began to be radicalised, Arturo became a member of the Italian Communist Party youth federation, the FCGI and, within it, part of a Trotskyist entrist current headed by Aldo Brandirali. [2] Later, when Brandirali left the FGCI, Arturo and other comrades followed him, but did not share his shift to Maoism in 1968. Instead, Arturo at first moved closer to some of the most radical left groups in Milan at the time, most notably comrades who had previously formed Programma Comunista [3] and Rivoluzione Comunista. [4] This fertile ground for discussion favoured Arturo’s theoretical development. With these comrades he moved closer to the positions of the Italian Communist Left and the early experiences of the Partito Comunista d’Italia (PCdI) under the leadership of Amadeo Bordiga, although he never became either an ‘orthodox Bordigist’ or, in later life, a ‘Bordigist historian’, and indeed he strenuously resisted these labels until the very end.

At the beginning of the 1970s, Arturo met Bruno Fortichiari [5], with whom he began a warm and sincere friendship which was to last until Fortichiari’s death in 1981. With him, Arturo participated in the experience of Iniziativa Comunista-Livorno ’21, a Left Communist bulletin that was created with the aim of promoting a reunification of all the internationalist Communist forces after their various splits. Although Arturo did not believe this attempt to be possible, he nevertheless took an active part in its work, publishing several articles in the bulletin. This contribution by Arturo is a testimony to the lack of sectarianism and genuine openness which were to characterise his entire life and political work.

Among Arturo’s first published works in the 1970s were the Introduzione alla storia della Cina (Ceidem, Rome 1976), in which he exposed the bourgeois nature of Maoism and the concept of the People’s Republic. Two years later Il comunismo di sinistra e Gramsci (Dedalo Libri, Bari 1978) appeared, an anthology of various writings by the main exponents of the Communist Left, in which Gramsci’s own rôle is duly recognised, but is also put into critical perspective. In 1980, Arturo published a study of Communist dissidence between Lenin and Mao, emphasising the experience of the Azione comunista group in Italy, which he saw as a genuine attempt to look for a left alternative to the PCI.

Arturo’s intense studies and self-education proceeded without interruption, and were helped by his job at the Biblioteca Nazionale Braidense in Milan, where he had begun working in 1971. His intellectual curiosity and rigorous historical research are well documented in his following work L’altra Resistenza. Il PCI e le opposizioni di sinistra in Italia 1943–1945, first published in successive journals by Paolo Casciola’s Centro Studi Pietro Tresso at the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s and later in book form (Graphos, Genoa 1991). It is thanks to this work that readers of our journal know Arturo Peregalli (see Revolutionary History, Volume 5, no. 4, Spring 1995). This became Arturo’s most well-known work, and remains to this day one of the most scientific, genuinely non-sectarian and relevant works in print on the experience of the various Italian groups to the left of the PCI in the aftermath of the Second World War. This work was followed by other no less important contributions, starting with Il patto Hitler-Stalin e la spartizione della Polonia (Erre Emme, Rome 1989), which attacked the myth of Stalinism as a tireless opponent of Nazism, and L’URSS e I teorici del capitalismo di Stato (Lacaita, Mandria 1990), written together with Riccardo Tacchinardi, a key contribution in the Italian language to the theory of state capitalism. In the 1990s, other works followed on the USSR and Stalinism, and Arturo also became increasingly interested in Amadeo Bordiga and his ideas, whom he intended to rescue from the ostracism that still prevented an audience for his ideas well after Bordiga’s death. Among Arturo’s last published books, co-written with Sandro Saggioro, was his Amadeo Bordiga. La sconfitta e gli anni oscuri (1926–1945) (Colibrì, Paderno Dugnano 1998). In July 1998, together with Mirella Mingardo, Arturo published what was to be his last work, Togliatti Guardiasigilli 1945–1946 (Colibrì, Paderno Dugnano, 1998), an indictment of Togliatti’s counter-revolutionary rôle as Minister for Justice in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in Italy. In recognition of his work and contribution, the Fondazione Amadeo Bordiga appointed Arturo to its scientific committee in 1998.

Arturo was first diagnosed with his illness at the end of the summer of 1998. Despite surgery and further painful therapy, cancer was to recur in the autumn of 1999. Throughout this time, Arturo immersed himself deeply in work and in his studies. He was hoping to publish a long work on the PCI after 1945, but of this book only a section entitled PCI 1946–1970. Donna, famiglia, morale sessuale, on the woman’s question and its treatment within the PCI, has been published by Paolo Casciola (Quaderni Pietro Tresso, no. 27, January–February 2001).

Arturo leaves his wife Luciana and son Bruno. All those who knew him personally and through his work have always been deeply impressed and appreciative of his total lack of sectarianism, the deep honesty and rigour of his Marxist research method, and his efforts to contribute to our development and generously to share his knowledge with us. It is for these personal attributes, so rare today, as well as for the quality of his work and insights, that we honour Arturo Peregalli’s memory, and deeply miss his presence among us.

Sandro Saggioro


1. This is a much shorter and adapted version of the tribute to Arturo Peregalli written by his close friend and comrade Sandro Saggioro. A full version of this text shall be shortly published by Paolo Casciola in his Quaderni del Centro Studi Pietro Tresso. We wish to thank Sandro Saggioro and Paolo Casciola for their help with these footnotes.

2. Aldo Brandirali was a member of the Milan branch of the Gruppi Comunisti Rivoluzionari (GCR) – the Italian section of the ‘Pabloite’ Fourth International – and during the ‘deep entrist’ period, which in Italy lasted from 1952 to 1969, he became a leader of the FGCI. In 1966, he launched Falcemartello (the ‘Tendency’ which is referred to here), a Guevarite, pro-Cuban and pro-Chinese youth association that eventually split from the GCR in late 1967 – depriving the latter of most of its members – and founded the arch-Stalinist/Maoist Unione dei Comunisti Italiani (marxisti-leninisti) in October 1968. In April 1972, this became the Partito Comunista (marxista-leninista) Italiano, of which Brandirali was the National Secretary and main leader. In more recent years, Brandirali shifted rightwards and entered the bourgeois camp, joining reactionary Catholic movements and becoming a political supporter of Silvio Berlusconi.

3. Il Programma Comunista is the organ of one of the two groupings to emerge from the split of the Bordigist party in 1952, the Partito Comunista Internazionalista (PCInt). Since both groups maintained the same party name, they are best defined by the headlines of their publications. The Programma Comunista wing was and remains led by Bruno Maffi, and enjoyed the support of Bordiga himself. The other wing, whose paper is Battaglia Comunista, was grouped around Onorato Damen.

4. La Rivoluzione Comunista is the organ of a still-existent group coming from a split from the PCInt–Programma Comunista in November 1964.

5. Bruno Fortichiari (1892–981) joined the Socialist Youth Federation when he was very young, and in 1911 he first met Amadeo Bordiga. At the end of 1912, he became a leader of the Milan branch of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI). After the outbreak of the First World War, he actively participated in the expulsion of Benito Mussolini from the party, and adopted an intransigent anti-militarist position opposed to Italy’s participation in the war. After the war, he was a member of the Milanese socialist left which, together with Bordiga’s Il Soviet group and Gramsci’s L’Ordine Nuovo group, formed the Italian Communist Party (PCdI) in January 1921. He was a member of the PCdI’s Executive Committee from the beginning, together with Bordiga, Ruggero Grieco, Luigi Repossi and Umberto Terracini. Under the pseudonym of Loris, he led the party’s Illegal Bureau (Ufficio 1), and in 1922–6 he actively took part in the left wing’s struggle against the change in the nature of the party that was imposed from Moscow. Arrested in 1926 and sent to confino (internal exile) on the Lipari Islands, he was moved to Milan because of ill health. In 1929, he was expelled from the party. During the Second World War, he took part in the Resistance movement, and in 1945 he was readmitted to the PCI, from which he was expelled again in 1956. In the same year, he participated in the creation of Azione Comunista, an experience that ended in 1965. In the early 1970s, he launched the bulletin Iniziativa Comunista-Livorno ’21 in the vain hope of unifying the different internationalist groupings which proclaimed their continuity with the Communist (‘Bordigist’) Left.

Updated by ETOL: 18.10.2011