Starace, Achille


Starace, Achille
(1889–1945)
   The Pugliese Starace was decorated for bravery in World War I and was a “Fascist of the first hour.” He was secretary of the Partito Nazionale Fascista/National Fascist Party (PNF) between 1931 and 1939, the longest tenure of any individual in this office. The position was a powerful one. The secretary nominated (and Benito Mussoliniappointed) all secretaries of the PNF’s provincial federations and had a seat on the party’s National Directorate. Starace remained faithful to the militantly antibourgeois program of San Sepolcro (the Milan Fascist meeting of 1919). In ever-stylish Italy, for example, he discouraged all forms of dress that underscored class distinctions as well as the frequenting of night clubs. He considered abolishing the class system in railway compartments and even talked of closing the stock exchange. Starace also invented much of the mock-Roman symbolism of the regime. At Starace’s prompting, Mussolini even introduced the slogan Usate l’italianissimo voi!—a campaign to make Italians use the second person plural (voi) as the formal form of address, rather than the deferential and formal third person singular (Lei). Ever ready to ritualize Fascism, he became known as its choreographer, assuring that each public appearance of the Duce or of the party hierarchs was greeted with shouted slogans: Saluto al Duce! Eja, eja, alala! and other forms of pageantry.
   Starace was eased out only when Mussolini hesitated about going to war before the completion of military preparations. A leading member of the war party, Starace had given the Duce estimates of public morale that were flatly contradicted by all other advisors. After 1941, Starace lost favor with Mussolini and was even imprisoned in a forced labor camp during the Republic of Salo. This fall from grace did not save him from the partisans, however. Starace was tried and shot in Milanon the same day as his former leader, and his body was exposed to the crowd in Piazza Loreto along with the other members of the PNF hierarchy.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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