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Francesco Saverio Merlino

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Nationality  Italian
Occupation  Lawyer

Known for  Libertarian socialism
Name  Francesco Merlino

Born  9 September 1856 (1856-09-09) Naples, Italy
Died  June 30, 1930, Rome, Italy

Francesco Saverio Merlino (9 September 1856 – 30 June 1930) was an Italian lawyer, anarchist activist and theorist of libertarian socialism.



Francesco Saverio Merlino was born on 9 September 1856 in Naples. He was raised in the Neapolitan anarchist tradition. Merlino started to participate in the militant anarchist movement in Italy during his university studies.

Merlino attended the Anarchist Congress that met in London from 14 July 1881. Other delegates included Peter Kropotkin, Errico Malatesta, Marie Le Compte, Louise Michel and Émile Gautier. While respecting "complete autonomy of local groups" the congress defined propaganda actions that all could follow and agreed that "propaganda by the deed" was the path to social revolution.

In 1884 he went into exile in England and also travelled to the USA. After he returned to Italy in 1894 he was arrested and had to spend two years in prison.

The Belgian review La Société nouvelle published articles by Merlino in 1891 that took an anarchist viewpoint in criticizing Marxism and German socialism, but Merino also questioned anarchist principles. In 1897 his book Pro e contro il socialismo was published, reflecting his thoughts on the subject.

In the following years he developed his theory of libertarian socialism in arguments with his friend Errico Malatesta.

In 1900 he defended Gaetano Bresci, an Italian-American anarchist who assassinated the king of Italy, Umberto I, in response to the Bava-Beccaris massacre. Despite killing the monarch, Bresci was not sentenced to death, making him the only person to ever kill a monarch (without toppling the monarchy) and not be executed.

In 1907, the Turin daily La Stampa published an interview with Merlino, who had recanted his anarchism and become a socialist. The interview, titled "The End of Anarchism," pronounced anarchism an obsolete doctrine, torn by internal disputes, bereft of first-rate theorists, and doomed to extinction. A leading Italian-American anarchist, Luigi Galleani, would attack Merlino in his own article, "The End of Anarchism?" adding a question mark.

Merlino died on 30 June 1930 in Rome.

Major works

  • Socialismo o monopolismo? (1887)
  • L’Italie telle qu’elle est (1890)
  • gli opuscoli Necessità e basi di un accordo (1892)
  • L’individua-lismo nell’anarchismo (1893)
  • Pro e contro il socialismo (1897)
  • L’utopia collettivista e la crisi del “socialismo scientifico” (1898)
  • Formes et essence du socialisme (1898)
  • Fascismo e democrazia (1924)
  • Politica e Magistratura dal 1860 ad oggi in Italia (1925)
  • Il socialismo senza Marx. Studi e polemiche per una revisione della dottrina socialista (1897–1930), Massimiliano Boni, Bologna 1974.
  • Il problema economico e politico del socialismo. (1948)
  • References

    Francesco Saverio Merlino Wikipedia

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