Calamandrei, Piero

(1889–1956)
   One of 20th-century Italy’s leading liberal intellectuals, Piero Calamandrei was also a respected jurist and a prominent opponent of Fascism. Born in Florence, Calamandrei postponed his career as a professor of law to serve as a volunteer during World War I. He was an active antifascist from the very beginning of the regime. Together with Ernesto Rossi, Gaetano Salvemini, and Carlo and Nello Rosselli, he was one of the founders of an antifascist circle of intellectuals in Florence that the Fascist squads brutally suppressed in December 1924; he signed Benedetto Croce’s 1925 manifesto of antifascist intellectuals. In the 1940s, he honorably resigned his university chair rather than write a letter publicly proclaiming his loyalty to Benito Mussolini. In 1942, Calamandrei was one of the founders of the Partito d’Azione/Action Party (PdA). He was elected to the Constituent Assembly in 1946 and became one of the principal authors of the Constitution of 1948. In 1948, he was elected to Parliament as a member of the Partito Socialista Democratico Italiano/Italian Social Democratic Party (PSDI), although he later strongly disagreed with his party’s support for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and its increasing closeness to the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy (DC). Unlike many in the PSDI, Calamandrei believed that democratic socialists could find intellectual common ground with the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist Party (PCI) both within Italy and without, and to this end he founded the intellectual review Il Ponte (The Bridge) in 1945. Ever since then, this magazine has been one of the most important forums for intellectual debate on the Italian left. Calamandrei died in Florence in 1956.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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