Educated as a lawyer and involved in the Italian literary scene, Turati had turned to politics in the 1880s and became the chief force behind the founding of the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) in 1892. Turati favored a gradual approach to socialism and so formed coalitions with other democratic parties and opposed authoritarians of both the Left and the Right. Turati founded the journal Critica Sociale in 1891, and entered into a lifelong collaboration and romantic relationship with Anna Kuliscioff in 1895.
Turati's activities in opposition to the would-be dictators led to his imprisonment in 1898 on the charge that he fomented civil disorder; but, the PSI -- in adhering to his strategy of democratic coalition -- played a leading role in frustrating the attempts of the government of General Luigi Pelloux to pass legislation facilitating a dictatorship. With the fall of Pelloux in 1900, Turati was released from prison and led the PSI in support of a Liberal government in 1901. Although Turati was compelled by internal PSI politics to decline a cabinet post in 1903, his policies earned increasing respect and popularity for the PSI and won a "hands-off" posture on the part of subsequent Liberal governments toward Italian labor disputes.
Turati's coalition strategy received a severe setback within the PSI following the outbreak of the Tripolitan War with the Turks in 1911. Although Turati had opposed the war, some other "reformist" Socialists supported the venture and were expelled from the party in 1912 when the "revolutionary" faction -- led largely by Benito Mussolini -- seized control. Subsequently, Turati's influence, while still considerable, was reduced within the PSI.
With the outbreak of hostilities in 1914, Turati and the PSI again assumed an anti-war stance, as did the Liberals under Giovanni Giolitti who had led the war effort in 1911. This combination, in addition to the neutralism of the Vatican, helped to ensure that Italy would not enter the war on the side of its German and Austro-Hungarian allies. When the rightist government of Antonio Salandra shifted in 1915 toward pro-Entente intervention, Turati and almost all other Socialists continued their anti-war posture, although Mussolini and a few others who now favored war had been expelled from the PSI late in 1914.
When Italy entered the conflict in May 1915, Turati and PSI leader Giacinto Serrati developed the position of "neither support nor sabotage" of the war effort. In effect, this allowed pro-war Socialists to support the military effort -- future Communist leader Palmiro Togliatti enlisted in the Army -- while the party maintained its anti-war integrity and participated actively in the Zimmerwald Conference of anti-war Socialists and other similar events.
Only after the Italian military disaster of Caporetto in October-November 1917 did Turati sanction the war effort openly and strongly. The new regime of V. E. Orlando also won the Socialists' implicit support.
In the postwar upheaval, Turati continued to oppose both revolutionary Socialists and (Fascist) counter-revolutionists. When he took part in an attempt to form a viable anti- Fascist government in 1922, Turati was expelled from the PSI. He then organized the Unitary Socialist Party, which included the later-martyred Giacomo Matteotti as party secretary. After escaping Italy in 1926, Turati remained instrumental in sustaining the anti-Fascist resistance and in re-uniting the two socialist parties in 1930.
Filippo Turati: La vie maestre del socialismo, ed. Rodolfo Mondolfo and Gaetano Arfe (2nd ed.; Naples: Morano Editore, 1966).
Franco Catalano, Filippo Turati (Milan: Avanti!, 1957).
Alessandro Schiavi, ed., Discorsi parlamentari di Filippo Turati, 3 vols. (Rome: Typografica della Camera dei deputati, 1950).