A short biography of Italian anarchist communist Ferruccio Scarselli
The Valdelsa, the valley of the river Elsa in Tuscany, was noted for the first anarchist groups in Italy, which had implanted themselves there, even before the arrival of the Socialists. There are reports of an active anarchist circle there in 1871.
Anarchist communism and anarcho-syndicalism in Italy were not immediately in partnership, as the former had developed within the First International and the latter had slowly emerged from combative elements within the Partito Socialista Italiano (PSI) and the union central Confederazione Generale del Lavoro (CGL-General Confederation of Labour) which left in 1912 to found the Unione Sindale Italiana (USI). In Tuscany, unlike other parts of Italy, the ‘organisational’ current within Italian anarchism, as exemplified by Errico Malatesta, Pietro Gori and Luigi Fabbri, was predominant over the individualist current, and anarchist communists and anarcho-syndicalists happily cooperated in economic and social struggles. This explained the emergence of anarchist forms of political and economic organisation there.
Ferruccio Scarselli was born to Eusebio Scarselli and Maria nee Mancini on November 2nd 1892 in Certaldo (see the biographies of Eusebio and other members of the Scarselli family here at libcom). He started working from an early age, having only attended two elementary classes. Earning a living as a carter, he joined the youth wing of the PSI. He soon embraced anarchist ideas and on March 12th 1909 he received a twelve day prison sentence from the Court of Appeal in Florence for ‘resisting the authorities’.
Ferruccio took part in the Settimana Rossa ( Red Week) events of June 7th to 14th, 1914, With the outbreak of war he was enlisted in the cavalry. He was sent with his regiment to Verona to suppress a protest mounted by women who were protesting against the poverty and hunger of their families and were demanding the return of soldiers from the front. He refused to attack the protestors, and with two other members of the regiment, Giulio Calvetti and Garosi, both from Certaldo, put down his lance and sabre and fraternised with them. The three were immediately arrested and sentenced by the military court in Verona to twenty years imprisonment for ‘treason’.
A further charge of desertion added another six years to his sentence on 25th July 1917. He was imprisoned at the Castel Sant’ Elmo at Naples. There he met the Pisan anarchist Braschi, who contributed articles to the anarchist paper L’avvenire Anarchico ( The Anarchist Future) as well as having a strong influence on the youthful Ezio Taddei, also imprisoned there (Taddei became a noted novelist, but was later to join the Communist Party in 1945). Writing of his encounter with Scarselli, Taddei reminisced that “among the various comrades I met during my prison wanderings was Ferruccio Scarselli, a young farmer from Certaldo, who I can say was my true teacher...I see again Ferruccio with his curly , beautiful head always illuminated by a child’s smile”.
Released after the war thanks to an amnesty in September 1919, he organised the carters’ and straw workers union in Certaldo in 1919. The prefect of Florence registered him as one to be watched on December 31st 1919, describing him as with a sturdy build, 1.68 metres tall, with smooth brown hair, a pale and oval face, with a wide and high forehead, a sharp and small nose, broad shoulders, a casual walk, a “rather grim” facial expression, and dressed as a typical worker. The prefect noted that Ferruccio had a “bad reputation” , a “bullying and violent character”, held the authorities in contempt, was secretary of the carters and straw workers union, and behaved quite well within his family.
Ferruccio Scarselli gave a number of lectures on anarchism and participated in demonstrations. On one of these, on 7th November 1919, the second anniversary of the Russian Revolution, he addressed the crowd, speaking with great passion, which led him to be denounced for “incitement to revolt and class hatred”. At a demonstration in Certaldo on 11th June, he again spkoe passionately, inciting the crowd to rebellion and insulting the King, for which he underwent another complaint “ for crimes referred to in articles 122 and 247 of the Criminal Code”.
In addition to organising the carter’ union, Ferruccio had set up an anarchist group affiliated to the Unione Comunista Anarchica Italiana (UCAI- Italian Anarchist Communist Union) and took part in the founding congress of that organisation in Florence.
Ferruccio Scarselli died as a result of the ‘Events of the Fair’ at Certaldo on February 28th, 1921 and described in the biographies of his father Eusebio and his sisters Ida and Ines Leda here at libcom.