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Born Aug. 22, 1818, in Naples; died July 2, 1857, in Sanza, near Sapri. Italian revolutionary democrat and Utopian socialist.
In the struggle to liberate Italy from foreign oppression and to unify the country, Pisacane supported the most radical position. He participated in the Revolution of 1848-49 and was chief of staff of the army of the Roman Republic. After the defeat of the revolution, he analyzed the lessons to be drawn from it in The War in Italy, 1848-1849 new edition, 1946), criticizing the leaders of the republican democratic camp for the weaknesses they had displayed—their inability to lead the popular movement and their contempt for the material interests of the people. In this book and later in his principal work, Historical, Political and Military Essays on Italy (vols. 1-4, 1858-60), he developed his own theory for an Italian revolution. Demonstrating that a victory of the bourgeoisie would not deliver the lower classes from poverty and exploitation, he demanded that the struggle for the national unification of Italy be linked to a struggle for radical social reforms.
Viewing private property as the principal and original reason for the division of society into antagonistic classes, he called for its abolition and for the establishment of social ownership of the means of production in the cities and in the countryside, as well as for the establishment of collective management in industry, agricultural production, and transportation. He considered social ownership of the means of production to be the only way to eliminate social inequality and exploitation. Rejecting the possibility of achieving this aim through reforms, he believed that it could only be realized through the expropriation of the bourgeoisie and large-scale landowners in the course of a popular revolution, the main motive force of which would be the Italian peasantry. Pisacane believed that the new social system could be consolidated by the supreme law of the new society—a special “social contract” that would be accepted by all the people.
Pisacane’s ideas represent the high point of Italian socialist thought during the Risorgimento. In 1857, Pisacane died while leading a revolutionary campaign he had organized in southern Italy. He had intended to incite an uprising there, liberate southern Italy from the oppressive rule of a branch of the Spanish Bourbon family, unify Italy, and put his socialist ideals into practice.
WORKSOpere complete, vols. 1-3. Milan, 1964. (Various unpublished or rare works.)
Epistolario. Milan, 1937.
REFERENCESBerti, G. Demokraty i sotsialisty v period Risordzhmimento. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from Italian.)
Bondarchuk, V. S. “Kontseptisiia ital’ianskoi revoliutsii v rabotakh Pizakane.” In the collection Iz istorii trudiashchikhsia mass Italii. Moscow, 1959.
Delia Peruta, F. I democratici e la rivoluzione italiana. Milan, 1958.
Mazzei, V. Il Socialismo nazionale di Carlo Pisacane, vol. 1. Rome, 1943.
Rosselli, N. Carlo Pisacane nel Risorgimento italiano. Turin, 1932.
V. S. BONDARCHUK