Giuseppe Massarenti was born in 1857 in Molinella and there he died in 1950.
Sent to study at university in Bologna by his chemist uncle, Giuseppe Massarenti came into contact with some of the leading exponents of the radical socialist movement of Emilia and Romagna, in particular Andrea Costa.
Defending the rights of the weakest rural classes hit by the agricultural crisis and the capitalist change in the social relationships in the countryside led him, in 1892, to form the Molinella section of the newly-created Italian workers’ party. In the same year, he founded the League of Resistance in the struggle of farm-labourers in these plains.
Elected to the town council in 1895, he later became a provincial deputy and the Mayor of Molinella, and contributedto the election in Parliament of Bissolati, Podrecca and Modigliani, all from the constituency of Budrio-Molinella.
Rather than national politics, Massarenti always preferred local action in favour of the farm labourers and rice-workers of Molinella. In 1896, he created the consumer cooperative of Molinella, one of the first in Emilia Romagna, which in the following years, provided fundamental economic support for the striking agricultural workers.
Discharged as Mayor and forced into exile in Switzerland and San Marino, he never gave up the workers’ struggle, for which he became known as the “apostle of cooperation”.
After the First World War, once more elected Mayor of Molinella, he became the subject of attacks by the Fascists, forcing him to leave his hometown again and move to Rome. There, he was arrested in 1926 and banished for over seven years. In 1937, he was arrested once more and shut in a Roman psychiatric asylum.
At the end of the Second World War, he was finally able to return to Molinella, where he died in May 1950.
A massive documentary work has been devoted to Massarenti, published by Marsilio with the financial support of Coop Reno. The book covers all the events related to the founder and first secretary of the independent workers' organizations of Molinella until 1950, the year of his death. Many images in the book document the stories of workers with period photographs, reproductions of documents and other works.
Giuseppe Massarenti. Una vita per i più deboli
by Marco Poli in collaboration with Giorgio Golinelli - Marsilio, Venezia 2008, pp. 488
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