Action #10: Il Porto dell’amore



In Fiume D’Annunzio achieved what Marinetti merely hypothesized: artists in power.

«I am for Communism without dictatorship [...] my whole culture is anarchist [...] it is my intention to make this city into a spiritual island which will send out a predominantly Communist action towards all oppressed nations.»

(Randolfo Vella, corrispondente da Fiume del quotidiano anarchico «Umanità Nova». Intervista a D'Annunzio)

Gabriele D'Annunzio in Fiume.

Fiume was (...) an experience that foreshadowed a new socio-political order, a “bubbling magma of moods, conceptions of life, aspirations towards renewal, between idealism, utopia, anarchy and festive vitalism, a response to the apprehensions and malaise of a generation that had experienced war and considered themselves to be different from their fathers’ generation in terms of how they conceived of life, human and social relations, and the organization of power.
In this experience pleasure underwent a kind of democratization, becoming the prerogative of all those who had come to the “City of Life”, to the “revolution party”; a confused, chaotic celebration which under many aspects clearly contradicted any realistic intentions of consolidation and triumph of the revolution itself.

Giovanni Savegnago. Scheda critica del libro di Claudia Salaris Alla festa della rivoluzione. Artisti e libertari con D’Annunzio a Fiume, Il Mulino, Bologna 2002

On 11 September 1919, the poet Gabriele D’Annunzio left Ronchi at the head of a handful of firebrands with the intention of occupying Fiume and annexing it to the Kingdom of Italy. D’Annunzio’s surprise operation was of great media effect, and for 16 months in the occupied city a spectacular “revolution party” was staged.

(Carla Pagliero, Ma D’Annunzio era no-global?, A - rivista anarchica, anno 33 n. 288, marzo 2003)
  In this crazed, despicable world, Fiume is now the symbol of liberty;
in this crazed, despicable world, there is one pure thing: Fiume;
one truth: Fiume;
one love: Fiume!
Fiume is like a splendid lighthouse shining in a sea of baseness...

Gabriele D'Annunzio, dagli estratti dell'orazione pubblicati sul «Bollettino del Comando di Fiume d'Italia» n.2, 13 settembre 1919).

«The city of Fiume was unsettled and altered between 12 September 1919 and the so-called «Bloody Christmas» of 1920. It was governed by a poet, for the first time in the world, and his army comprised insubordinates of all ranks and forces from the Italian army. The people of the city lived for over a year on meagre provisions, but with celebrations and shows, and beautiful words spoken and printed almost daily by Gabriele D'Annunzio, who for that short period was known to all simply as «il Comandante». Holocaust, City of Life, Port of Love. The city had a constitution that challenged the concept of property, and army regulations which basically revolved around achieving a greater degree of aesthetic beauty than the Theban Legion. It attracted all the independentists and anti-capitalists in the world, from Egypt to Bolshevik Russia. It was a den of pirates who made a living by rustling horses, capturing ships and undertaking impossible flights. It was a place for experimenting with alternative lifestyles: nudism, naturism, vegetarianism, futurism, homosexuality, free love, drug use.

“After the «modus vivendi» initially proposed by the Italian government failed, D’Annunzio’s politics leaned increasingly towards a revolutionary perspective. In this new context a particular psychological climate arose, which made Fiume, to quote D'Annunzio, the «City of Life»: a sort of tiny experimental «counter-society» with ideas and values not strictly in line with contemporary morals, open to breaching social norms, and with a mass engagement in rebellion"».

(Claudia Salaris, Alla festa della rivoluzione. Artisti e libertari con D'Annunzio a Fiume, Bologna, Il Mulino, 2002; pag. 12).

[Fiume] was in some ways the last of the pirate utopias (or the only modern example) — in other ways, perhaps, it was very nearly the first modern TAZ [Temporary Autonomous Zone].

I believe that if we compare Fiume with the Paris uprising of 1968 (also the Italian urban insurrections of the early seventies), as well as with the American countercultural communes and their anarcho-New Left influences, we should notice certain similarities, such as: — the importance of aesthetic theory (cf. the Situationists) — also, what might be called “pirate economics,” living high off the surplus of social overproduction — even the popularity of colorful military uniforms — and the concept of music as revolutionary social change — and finally their shared air of impermanence, of being ready to move on, shape-shift, re-locate to other universities, mountaintops, ghettos, factories, safe houses, abandoned farms — or even other planes of reality. No one was trying to impose yet another Revolutionary Dictatorship, either at Fiume, Paris, or Millbrook. Either the world would change, or it wouldn’t. Meanwhile keep on the move and live intensely.

(Excerpted from Hakim Bey’s T.A.Z. The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism).

Between December 1919 and December 1920, Fiume became a little world of its own, a microcosm where radical dreams and aspirations were given an unprecedented chance to be lived out and experimented with. The Bolsheviks tried to establish 'soldiers' soviets' as in Russia: syndacalists and anarchists organised producers' networks following Proudhon's example; Utopian life-models were practiced in an atmosphere of free-wheeling individualism and extravagant self-expression. The Futurist idea of Life as Art and Art as Life never found a more concrete realisation: 'Today reigns Poetry', found Mario Carli, and 'the old antithesis of Life and Drams has finally been overcome.' Umberto Carpi has described Fiume in 1920 as a 'place where the highest concentration of a specifically bourgeois and intellectual subversiveness' could be found and 'transgression of norms and mass practice of rebellion' was an organised everyday occurrence. Under the exceptional circumstances of the City State under siege, the common constrains of civil law were suspended. Groups of revolutionary intellectuals managed to assume control over the city and created a political culture, where spontaneous expression of beliefs replaced the tedious procedures of parliamentary democracy. Artistic fantasy and energy gave birth to a new 'aesthetics' of communal life, where the fusion of political and artistic avant-garde became a reality. A festive lifestyle replaced conventional social behaviour. Transgresion of moral and sexual conventions were widely accepted (including nudism, homosexuality and liberation of woman from the shackles of marriage and family life). New and picturesque dress codes were invented. And then there was the never-ending cycle of dances, concerts, banquets, theatre performances, games, torchlight processions, cortèges, etc. There reigned, as one participant wrote in his memoirs, 'an atmosphere of a perpetual quatorze juillet'.

(Günter Berghaus, Futurism and Politics: Between Anarchist Rebellion and Fascist Reaction, 1909-1944, Oxford, Berghahn Books, 1995; p. 139).

You should know that you have come to a city which is dangerous for your tender years. Here everyone does exactly what they want without reserve. The lowest and most elevated forms of life alternate, not unlike light and shade.

(Giovanni Comisso, Il porto dell'amore, Treviso, Vianello, 1924; pag. 12)

Fiume: Symbol, Hub, Pole, Rainbow! (...) A little of everything has come to you, divine Fiume: purity, ardour, courage, vanity, cocaine, faith, hypocrisy, false currency, voracity, sacrifice. (...) But the heart and soul of the legionnaires’ mission lay only in those few, neither too close to nor too far from D'Annunzio, who brought a new awareness, new forms and patterns of life to Fiume (...). They intended Fiume to lead all the peoples of the earth towards the future; an island of wonders that was to travel the oceans, taking its shining light to the continents drowning in the darkness of brutal capitalist speculation. In the City of Carnaro this group of enlightened men, fanatics, mystic forerunners, managed to conjure up that atmosphere of passion for the future and poetic rebellion against the old faiths and ancient formulas, that has been given the name of «fiumanism».

(Mario Carli, Trillirì, Piacenza, Edizioni Futuriste di Poesia della Società Tipografica Editoriale Porta, 1922; pp. 165-167).

The advent of Fascism cast a dark and murky shadow over the interpretation of the Fiume episode, which indisputably prefigured the March on Rome and the onset of the Fascist regime. With the condemnation of the regime in the years following the Liberation of Italy, the embarrassing memory of Fiume was wiped out in one stroke. Along with the dirty water of the Fascist regime, anything with philosophical or formal connections to the dictatorship was also thrown out, without bothering to analyze the various elements that characterized that particular event.

(Carla Pagliero, Ma D’Annunzio era no-global?, A - rivista anarchica, anno 33 n. 288, marzo 2003).


Introduction [HTML]

The “Celebration City” [HTML]
Free Love and Artificial Paradises [HTML]
The “Desperados” [HTML]
International acknowledgement [HTML]
Pirate Economy [HTML]
Publishing [HTML]
The Charter of Carnaro [HTML]
The Labarum [HTML]
The League of Fiume [HTML]
Bloody Christmas [HTML]
Protagonists [HTML]