Antonio Labriola

Also found in: Wikipedia.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Labriola, Antonio


Born July 2, 1843, in Cassino; died Feb. 2, 1904, in Rome. Italian philosopher, publicist, theoretician and propagator of Marxism. Active in the socialist movement.

Labriola graduated from the University of Naples, becoming a privatdocent in the history of philosophy there in 1871. From 1874 he was professor of practical philosophy and pedagogy at the University of Rome. After becoming acquainted with the works of K. Marx in the early 1890’s, Labriola shifted from left Hegelianism and Herbartianism to Marxism. He corresponded with F. Engels from 1890 and participated in the Italian and international workers’ movement. He disseminated Marxism at the university and through public lectures, seeking to familiarize students and workers with the ideas of scientific socialism. He helped found the Italian Socialist Party (1892), although he did not participate in its work.

In his works Labriola examined various questions connected with historical materialism, including the determining factor in historical development, classes and class struggle; the role of the popular masses and of outstanding individuals in history, the laws of development of bourgeois society, the state, and revolution.

Labriola believed that the main task of the materialist conception of history was to lead social thought out of the intricate labyrinth of unscientific philosophical and historical conceptions and show the true moving forces of social development. He saw the close relationship between the basic tenets of historical materialism and the development of the class struggle, criticizing bourgeois theories and petit bourgeois currents in socialism. He devoted considerable attention to political problems and to the tactics and organizational principles of the proletarian party. He developed the notion of the necessity of relating the socialist movement to Marxist theory. At the same time, Labriola’s views and activity were not free from serious contradictions and errors. He underestimated the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat and the significance of the interrelation between the proletarian party and the working class and its allies and held an erroneous view of the national question, dividing nations into those that were “active” and “passive”.

Labriola’s intellectual legacy served as a starting point for the further development of Italian Marxist thought by A. Gramsci, P. Togliatti, and other leaders of the Italian Communist Party.


Opere complete, vols. 1–3. Milan, 1959–61.
Lettere a Engels. Rome, 1949.
In Russian translation:
K “krizisu marksizma.” Kiev, 1906.
O sotsializme. St. Petersburg, 1906.
Ocherki materialisticheskogo ponimaniia istorii. Moscow, 1960.


Marx, K., and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 37. pp. 312–13; vol. 38, p. 205; vol. 39, p. 161.
Lenin, V. I. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed. vol. 2, p. 500; vol. 55, pp. 59–60.
Plekhanov, G. V. “O materialisticheskom ponimanii istorii.” In Izbr. filosofskie proizvedeniia, vol. 2. Moscow, 1956.
Togliatti, P. “Razvitie i krizis ital’ianskoi mysli v XIX v.” Voprosy filosofii, 1955, no. 5.
Berti, G. “Antonio Labriola i ital’ianskoe sotsialisticheskoe dvizhenie.” Novaia i noveishaia istoriia, 1959, no. 3.
Dal Pane, L. Antonio Labriola: La vita e il pensiero. Rome, 1935.
Dal Pane, L. Profilo di Antonio Labriola. Milan, 1948.
Berti, G. Per uno studio della vita e del pensiero di A. Labriola. Rome, 1954.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
Mentioned in ?
References in periodicals archive ?
He looks at antidemocratic thought and decadence in France around the turn of the century, reasons of the state in Vilfredo Pareto, legitimacy and the philosophy of history in Antonio Labriola, charisma and disenchantment in Max Weber, and alienation and totality in Antonio Gramsci.
En Gramsci el materialismo historico tiene raices en la lectura de Antonio Labriola (1843-1904) y de Benedetto Croce (1866-1952); empero, con relacion a este ultimo, Gramsci ataca la interpretacion del materialismo historico como puro canon metodologico de investigacion historiografica, lo que para Gramsci significaba precisamente reducir el materialismo historico a mero economicismo historico: "una epistemologia que reducia la esfera de las ideas y de la conciencia a epifenomenos, meros reflejos de fuerzas historicas objetivas" (21).
Along the way, he deals with Carlo Cafiero, who made the first translations of Marx's writings into Italian; the Marxist philosopher Antonio Labriola; Arturo Labriola, leader of the left wing of the Italian Socialist Party for a few years after 1904; Benito Mussolini, the founder of fascism, but from 1912 to 1914 the editor of the Socialist party newspaper, L'AVANTI!; Amadeo Borgiga, the founder of the Communist Party of Italy; the major Marxist theorist, Antonio Gramsci; and, finally, Togliatti.
Antonio Labriola e la redazione dei Saggi sul materialismo storico" (23-44); Toni Iermano, "Curiosita giornalistiche e gusto narrativo in Cose viste di Ugo Ojetti" (45-70); Giuseppe Stellardi, "Gadda, Ungaretti, Wittgenstein: tle scrittori, la guerra, tre destini della scrittura" (71-87); Loredana Palma, "Un pubblico non napoletano per Mastriani.
Antonio Labriola wrote what Drake calls "a major work of Marxist theory" with the characteristic title of "Essays on the Materialistic Conception of History." Arturo Labriola (no relation of Antonio) met and worked with Georges Sorel in Paris, and through him came to believe that workers' strikes would trigger the revolution.
Campbell adds the Hegelian Marxism of Italian Antonio Labriola, to this lineage.
Croce attended some lectures by Antonio Labriola, who was a Marxist and frequent visitor to the Spaventa household.