LUIGI ALBERTINI (Ancona, 1871 - Rome, 1941)

Journalist, editor and publisher. Foreign correspondent for La Stampa (Turin), in London (1894). Editor of Il Corriere della Sera (Milan) from 1900. Under Albertini and his brother Alberto, the Corriere became one of the most respected dailies in Europe, and a voice of enlightened conservatism. He attracted to its staff some of the finest reporters and commentators of the time, and the literary page was open to such writers as Pirandello and D'Annunzio. Under Albertini, as his last editorial declares, the Corriere stood for the best of Italian Liberalism in the Giolittian era, but above Party, and harking back to the idealistic principles of the Risorgimento. Initially withholding hostility to Fascism, Albertini came to denounce it as a Liberal Senator in Parliament, and in the columns of his paper, following the death of Matteotti. Forced to leave the paper as a result of enforcement of the Fascist press laws in 1925, he spent he rest of his life on a massive study of Italy's involvement in WWI, and writing his memoirs. The Editorial is a testament to his Liberal principles.

Main Works:
The Origins of World War One (3 vols., 1943)
20 Years of Political Life (memoirs) (post 1950)

Biography: The Life of Luigi Albertini, by his brother, Alberto Albertini (1945).


THE LAST EDITORIAL:

I came to the Corriere in September 1898 as editorial assistant, working first with Eugenio Torelli Viollier, and then with Domenico Oliva. With the former I went through the riots of '98, with the latter the period that followed, until 1900. In the Spring of that year Torelli died and I assumed his position as managing editor, and a few weeks later became the director of the Corriere. His spirit and example has continued to influence my work. I began by denouncing the mistakes of Pelloux, which led to the disastrous elections of 1900, and I continued to support the liberal idea when the wind of reaction swept over the nation, following the July assassination of King Umberto by the anarchist Bresci. I was not yet 29 years old; I had neither authority nor credit. And yet, at the risk of alienating those of moderate opinion, and of my own position, I took advantage of the proclamation of Victor Emmanuel III, who called on God and the people "to rally round the new King in the defence of Liberty and The Monarchy...," to write:

"Let us not was this propitious moment of popular concord, this present confusion among the violent subversives, suddenly forced to change their ton and abandon their rhetoric of hate; let us not destroy the hopes of this salutary re-awakening by demanding brutal reprisals which would do nothing but bitterly split the nation into warring parties, as it now reunites around its leader. Above all, let us risk no harm to those institutions we are pledged to defend. In this difficult testing time, those institutions have proved stronger than many thought. Let us therefore lend a hand to strengthen them while the time is ripe. But let us make sure this effort goes uninterrupted by crises of over-excitement, but rather matures with a firm and constant vigor."

Alas! That firm and constant vigor was lacking in the years that followed, and for this I constantly opposed the domestic policies of the honorable Giolitti, Orlando, and Nitti, in the name of that liberal idea they claimed to support, but which seemed to me quite compromised by regular concessions to the claims of the extreme parties, by the tolerance of subversive behavior engineered by these same parties among civil servants, by accommodation to general strikes and so on....In short, it seemed to me that today's peace was bought at the price of tomorrow's sacrifice, and that (as a result of these gentlemen's policies)...we were not heeding the warning that the country was moving toward a dark and dim future.

On the 19th September 1920, following the occupation of the factories, I summarized the situation as follows: "The moment of decision has arrived: Either the ruling bourgeoisie gives us a Government that governs, and finds a leader with a following; or it hands over the reins of government to the Socialists and the leaders of the Confederation of Labor (The Trade Union Movement). Any person of sense will see that anything is preferable to this shameful agony, in which Italy--which emerged a victor from the Great War--nor stammers the language of fear like a child, and permits the country to be ruled by the most dishonorable sort of deals. Either we can keep power according to our convictions, or let new leaders come forward who can govern without worrying about selling bread at cost, without allowing civil servants to operate without minimal discipline, and are capable of checking the license spreading through all our social classes."

The revival took place and the Hon. Mussolini and his colleagues managed to take charge of government and direct it toward concrete ends; and they encountered in their work the favor of those who had always opposed violent subversion, as well as those who had always supported it. But--it will be objected to me--ought not the Corriere, which had always called for a reaction in public opinion, and for a leader to interpret it, to have given the march of Fascism after October 28th its very warmest support?

Here we find ourselves under fire from both sides....But it is conveniently forgotten that when the Fascist movement assumed grave and disquieting forms, we editorialized that any obstacle standing between their leaders and the assumption of power should be removed. I told the Senate on August 13th, 1922:

"The time has come to put an end to threats and violence, which cast doubt on the chances of the State regaining its power and authority. We must recognize that the best way of removing the threat of violence is to demand of the Fascists some proof of their capacity to direct the public business, and to fulfill the promises by which they have gained so many converts."

I was moved to say this because of the certain information I had received concerning the March on Rome. It seemed to me that my duty was to persuade the Hon. Facta to step down and permit a normal constitutional transition of power to the Fascists. This could be presided over by politicians of a liberal persuasion, which would have led to a quite different situation from what actually occurred as a result of the March on Rome. Prime Minister Facta either did not see, or chose not to see, it that way. And what happened, happened....

This bring us then, to this last battle, fought, as all its predecessors, over the preservation of those same liberal princi- ples and ideals that have always inspired my words and actions in foreign, domestic and economic policy, convinced as I am that all liberties are indivisible. It brings me to my greatest sacrifice, that of leaving the paper to which I had dedicated my whole life. Together with my brother, and so many eminent collaborators--along with all my colleagues in the printing and editorial staff--we had brought the paper to a position of some eminence. I accept the sacrifice with a bitter heart, but my head high. I lost a joy which was so dear to me, secure in the knowledge that my moral patrimony, which is even dearer, remains untouched, along with my dignity and my conscience.

(Corriere della Sera, Milan: Nov. 29th, 1925)

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