Rocco, Alfredo


Rocco, Alfredo
(1875–1935)
   Rocco, a legal scholar from Naples who had been one of the leading lights of the Italian nationalist movement, became one of the foremost ideologues of Fascism. In 1918, he began publishing La Politica, a review in which he articulated the classic precept of the supremacy of the state over the individual. Elected president of the Chamber of Deputies after the 1924 elections, he held that position throughout the crisis provoked by the murder of Giacomo Matteotti before, in January 1925, becoming minister of justice. In this post, his first duty was to introduce a law banning secretive associations such as the Freemasons. Antonio Gramsci made his only parliamentary speech in opposition, illustrating that the law gave the government the power to ban opposition associations of any kind. This measure was a prelude to Rocco’s drastic measures dissolving all opposition parties, reintroducing the death penalty, and instituting special tribunals for political activity in October 1926. In 1928, Rocco was responsible both for the new electoral law, with its plebiscitary character, and the law that precisely defined the role and functions of the Fascist Grand Council and transformed it from a party body to an organ of the state. Rocco capped his spell at the justice ministry by introducing new penal codes in 1930–1931. These included the Testo Unico di Pubblica Sicurezza (Consolidated Public Security Laws), still in force in postfascist Italy. Generally, they were intended to enshrine Rocco’s fundamental principle of jurisprudence—the priority of collective institutions over individual rights and the primacy of the monolithic state above all other institutions of any kind. Rocco opposed the Lateran pacts in 1929 because he believed that they would weaken the power of the state. Rocco also played a key role in the creation of corporatism. In 1926, he wrote the Labor Charter, which prohibited strikes and effectively closed down all trade unions except the fascist Confederazione Italiana Sindacati Nazionali Lavoratori/Italian Confederation of National Workers’Unions (CISNAL). When the Ministry of Corporations was created in 1926, he was called on to head it since corporatism was the institutional core of the entire Fascist system. He also headed the subsequent (1930) Consiglio Nazionale delle Corporazioni (National Council of Corporations) to which all workers’syndicates were automatically attached. At the time of his death in 1935, he was rector of the University of Rome.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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