Fabio Luca Cavazza

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Person.png Fabio Luca Cavazza   IMDBRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
(academic, editor)
Born24 May 1927
Bologna, Italy
Alma materUniversity of Bologna
Parents • Giulio Cavazza
• Margherita Rossi
Member ofAspen Institute Italia
Interests • Victor Benedict Sullam
• United States Information Service
• Giorgio Barbieri
Italian magazine editor who had close connections to the United States Information Service and similar. Played a large role in the cultural cold war

Employment.png Managing director

In office
1978 - 1982
EmployerIl Sole-24 ore
Preceded byArrigo Levi

Fabio Luca Cavazza was an Italian magazine editor who had close connections to the United States Information Service and to large philanthropic foundations (and CIA-cutouts) like the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. His magazine, Il Mulino played a large role in the cultural cold war as part of the non-communist left and to spread a positive image of the United States among intellectuals.


His father Giulio Cavazza (1891-1945) was a lawyer in Bologna, and between 1923 and 1925 he also held the position of city councilor for the Popular Party. His grandfather on the maternal side, Claudio Sandonnini (1817-1899), was a deputy, senator and (twice) mayor of Modena.

During the Second World War Cavazza attended high school in Bologna. Following the sudden death of his father, a friend of the family, the lawyer Giorgio Barbieri - president of the Association of industrialists of the province of Bologna and owner of the newspaper Il Resto del Carlino - assured him of his future employment in one of his companies, once he finished his studies.

Cavazza enrolled in the Faculty of Law at the University of Bologna, where he graduated in 1950 with a thesis entitled Labor tax policies. But he disregarded Barbieri's expectations, since, instead of asking him for a job, he proposed that he finance a university periodical he promoted, initially for the duration of two years only. The entrepreneur, however, welcomed the request, and from that agreement the foundations were laid for the birth of the magazine Il Mulino ('the Mill'). On April 25, 1951, the first issue was published, with the subtitle Fortnightly of cultural and university information and with a format similar to that of newspapers.

The magazine's project took shape on the basis of a sort of compromise between Barbieri's anti-communism and the anti-fascism of his young editors.

Cavazza and the cultural cold war in Italy

Cavazza's functions within Il Mulino were expressed in the care of editorial production and organization. Unlike the other members of the editorial staff, during his experience at the magazine - which lasted until 1963 - he did not devote himself to specialized studies and research.

Among the founders of the Mill, however, it was he who understood the potential offered by one of the activities of the USIS (United States Information Service) - the US government agency that dealt with 'cultural diplomacy' in the world - that is the translation of texts which in Italy had a very limited circulation. In fact, at the same time as the publishing house was founded, Cavazza established relations with the Florence section of the USIS, then directed by James Moceri (who in the two-year period 1951-1952 had shared with some collaborators of Mulino the experience as a fellow at the Italian Institute for Historical Studies in Naples, founded in 1946 by Benedetto Croce). As stated in one of the USIS reports, in 1955 the Florence section "played a leading role in the development of a three-year program of publications in the social sciences sector, destined for the new publishing house Il Mulino di Bologna" [1] [2]. With these translations, the Il Mulino publishing house was among the first in Italy to open up to the American and British non-fiction market in the second postwar period. Translated authors included Hans Kelsen, Karl Mannheim, Henry Steele Commager, Talcott Parsons, Jay Rummey, Joseph Mayer, Herbert Butterfield.

In the 1950s, the presence in Bologna of a group of young intellectuals ready to incorporate various aspects of the US socio-economic and cultural model was a reason for strong interest from the government of that country, committed to increasing its prestige abroad in a moment of strong tension and ideological contrast between two opposing models (democracy/capitalism and communism). The support granted by US cultural diplomacy represented a great opportunity for the Bolognese publishing group, which, benefiting from grants for programs of translation of texts (on the US political and constitutional system, as well as on sociology) and study stays in the United States, contributed to the spread in Italy of an image of that country as a free, technically and scientifically advanced country.

In the spring of 1956, the USIS offered Cavazza the opportunity to participate, with an application to the Foreign leaders program (FLP), in a 3 month visit to the US. This program, unlike the Fulbright scholarships, was aimed at figures already established in the world of universities and in the field of cultural publishing, above all to exchange information and opinions on their current and future activities, meeting personalities specialized in same area of ​​expertise, which opened their professional horizons to the opportunities offered by the US reality. In the report for Cavazza's candidacy prepared by Ned E. Nordness - public affairs officer of the embassy of Rome - we read: "Cavazza's activities as manager of 'Il Mulino', the major organ of young Italian intellectuals, and his project to make the Mulino a new publishing house are well known by the USIS of Florence and by officials of the cultural section of the USIS in Rome. […] His visit to the USA could be an opportunity to consider various ideas that he could transfer to the activities to be organized here in Italy. Furthermore, his experience gained in previous years convinces us that as a cultural entrepreneur he will play an important role in Italy in the not too distant future "[3].

During his stay in the United States (May-July 1956), Cavazza presented Il Mulino to the staff of the USIA (United States Information Agency, the body created in 1953 to coordinate all the USIS offices in the world) to research centers and foundations (such as the Ford foundation, the Brookings institution and the Twentieth century fund) and to publishing houses interested in a possible joint venture for the translation of US texts intended for the Italian market. He then spent a month in Harvard University's social science research center (Harvard Department of Social relations) to deepen his knowledge on the sociological, cultural and economic problems of contemporary American society. He also had his first confrontation with 'institutional' diplomacy, meeting some officials of the State Department - such as John Di Sciullo, of the Italian section of the Office of intelligence and research and analysis, an office that was part of the Bureau of intelligence and research - to which he explained the thoughts of the Mulino group on the Italian political situation, and definitely critical of a possible alliance between Christian Democracy (DC) and the main right-wing political movements (National Monarchist Party, PNM, and the fascist Italian Social Movement, MSI).

Among the different personalities that Cavazza met during his first trip to the United States, was Victor Benedict Sullam, who met during some meetings held at the Italian desk (the office of the State Department that dealt with Italy). An Italian Jew forced to flee to the United States following the racial laws of 1938, Sullam earned a master's degree in agricultural economics and then worked at the Department of Agriculture and taught in various research centers. In the early 1950s he also became responsible in Washington for the US headquarters of the Italian Federation of Agricultural Consortia (known as Federconsorzi). Thanks to the positions held and the close relationships with some Italian American officials of the US administration,he was at the center of a network of relationships that offered him the possibility of closely following the developments in the Italian economic and political situation.

As evidenced by the rich correspondence between Cavazza and Sullam [4], the latter proved to be a fundamental point of reference for the Bolognese analyst's action, above all by expanding his knowledge of the US diplomatic world, through a branched network of contacts that proved to be very useful for developing the editorial activities of the magazine and to accompany the process of 'opening to the left' (as the process of rapprochement between the DC and the Italian Socialist Party (PSI) was defined, undertaken with caution since late 1956 but only fully developed since 1958). Thanks to Sullam, in fact, from the end of the 1950s Cavazza succeeded in spreading contents from Il Mulino in the United States and to get in touch with some State Department officials, such as John Hawley, who from being a member of the Italian desk had become deputy cultural attaché of the Rome embassy, ​​with responsibility for translations and publications. Also at the cultural office of the embassy, ​​Cavazza met Lewis Dean Brown and James Bruce Engle (director of the Italian desk in Washington from 1955 to 1958).

The Collection of American history put scholars and the educated public of Italy in contact with many works of (and on) American civilization. While publishing works on many potentially sensitive subjects (the Monroe Doctrine), the series contained no radical critique.

The 'cultural cold war' offered the Il Mulino publishing house important opportunities to extend its interests. In early 1958 Sullam informed Cavazza about the benefits that Il Mulino could derive from the Public law 480 textbook program, approved in 1957 by the United States Congress. The law provided for the launch of a project for the translation and distribution of US books, financed through the surplus of money obtained from the sale of agricultural products to foreign countries (regulated by Public law 402). The USIS, which promoted joint ventures between Italian and American publishers, continued to support the activities of Il Mulino through the financing, between 1959 and 1962, of two series that had considerable success: Collection of American history (directed by Matteucci, De Caprariis, Rosario Romeo and Mauro Calamandrei) and Classics of modern democracy (directed by De Caprariis). USIS agreed with Cavazza to contribute to the printing of the copies, covering 80% of the production costs. In the collection of American history several important works were published, which put scholars and the educated public of Italy in contact with the best production of (and on) American civilization, such as Frederick J. Turner's The Frontier in American History (1959; translation of the anthology of writings The frontier in American history, 1921); the three volumes of The Age of Roosevelt by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr (1957-1965;; The Oregon trail by Francis Parkman Jr (1959; The Oregon trail , 1849). Collections of essays written by British, American and French political theorists appeared in the Classics of Modern Democracy series, such as Anthology of British Constitutionalists (1962, edited by Matteucci), Political Thought in the Age of Lincoln (1962, edited by Claudio Gorlier), Anthology of the political writings of Benjamin Costant (1962, edited by Antonio Zanfarino).

In addition to USIS, also important foundations (eg Rockefeller and the aforementioned Ford Foundation and Twentieth century fund) paid attention to how Il Mulino was working to introduce some aspects of American culture into Italian life.

Getting new forms of financing in order to enhance the research activities of the Mulino became one of the main objectives to which Cavazza dedicated his efforts towards the end of the 1950s. He followed closely the process approval of various projects: one, financed in 1958 by the Ford foundation, on the Italian university, and another, financed by the Twentieth century fund, on the Italian political system and on the party organization of the DC and the Italian Communist Party (PCI). These works were carried out by Italian and foreign scholars, gathered in various research commissions within the Carlo Cattaneo Association of culture and politics, established in Bologna in 1956 and directed by the same editorial board of the magazine (and which in 1965 would have been transformed into the Carlo Cattaneo Institute of Studies and Research). With the birth of the Cattaneo Association, the 'Mulino system' was thus expanded, to meet the need to have a study and research center available that was independent from both the magazine and the publishing house.

A part of the funds from Public Law 480 and destined for Italy, amounting to 552,000 dollars, was used in the construction, in 1955 in Bologna, of the Italian branch of Johns Hopkins University, one of the most famous higher education institutions in the United States. In 1958 - in agreement with the director of the university, Grove C. Haines, who obtained funding from his government, and with the cultural and economic sections of the US embassy in Rome - Cavazza collaborated in the purchase of the land where it would be built. (and inaugurated in 1960) the building that still houses the SAIS (Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies), main section of the Bologna center of Johns Hopkins. The purpose of SAIS was to offer highly specialized courses to students from various countries destined for international careers. The creation of a center for the diffusion of American culture was part of a series of anti-communist initiatives undertaken by the State Department, which developed through the collaboration between public and private institutions (USIS, universities, foundations).

Kennedy, the New frontier and the opening to the left in Italy

Il mulino.png

In the summer of 1958 the group of the Mulino declared, in the pages of the magazine[5], their support for an alliance between Catholics and Socialists.

At the turn of the fifties and sixties, the magazine began to be used by the US State Department as a source for the analyzes that were periodically produced on our country, since in Washington the group of the Mulino was considered an important political-cultural laboratory capable of to carry out researches of great interest on the transformations of society and of the political framework, which were accompanying the 'economic miracle'. Within a few years, therefore, the contacts of that group in the United States also extended to the political sphere. After his 1956 trip, Cavazza had sent many issues of the magazine to the heads of the Italian desk, in an attempt to disseminate the analyzes developed by his group, which appeared to be different from those best known in the United States. Furthermore,he had identified officials who appeared to agree with his views, to provide them with documents and political material that could strengthen their beliefs.

The Mulino group favored in Italy the formation of a political culture at the same time anti-communist and reforming, capable both of challenging the Marxist culture in the field of social progress policies, and of breaking away from the conservative positions practiced by 'centrism' (the pact of coalition between the DC and the minor parties, in force since 1947). For this reason, the interest of the intellectuals of the Mulino in the developments of US politics at the time of the presidency of John F. Kennedy (1960-1963) was twofold. In fact, on the one hand, they followed the trends that had established themselves in the progressive and liberal American culture of the 1950s,and at the same time they promoted in Italy the birth of government alliances that could have started a plan of economic and social reforms capable of weakening the electoral strength of the PCI by reducing social conflict.

Also during the 1956 trip, Cavazza had met Schlesinger in Boston, one of the main exponents of the political-cultural current of the non-communist left and at that time a close collaborator of the democratic presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson. Schlesinger later took up the post of special assistant to President Kennedy, becoming one of the key figures in the White House among those in favor of opening up to the left in Italy.

During the years of the gestation of the center-left (1960-1963), Cavazza made several trips to the United States. After each return to Italy, he wrote detailed reports for some senior political leaders - the Christian Democrats Aldo Moro, Amintore Fanfani and Giovanni Gronchi (President of the Republic between 1955 and 1962) and the socialist Pietro Nenni - in which he reported the impressions and opinions collected during his meetings. His analyzes illustrated the various doubts about openness to the left advanced by the State Department and the Rome embassy. Much of US diplomacy was in fact convinced that the socialists could progressively push Italy out of the Atlantic Alliance, weakening its position in relations with other Western countries. These assessments contributed to making the formation of the center-left alliance long and complex.

Cavazza tried to convince his US interlocutors that the reform programs proposed by the center-left would prove to be in perfect harmony with the guidelines of the New Frontier (the political program launched by Kennedy during the 1960 election campaign); and received understanding from high level Kennedy officials, like Arthur Schlesinger, Walt W. Rostow, and Robert W. Komer.

Furthermore, Cavazza's commitment in supporting Nenni - leader of the Socialist Party (PSI) who wished for greater distance from the Communist Party (PCI) - resulted in favoring funding for this political current by the Reuther brothers (Victor G. and Walter P.) - among the top executives of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), one of the most influential US auto trade unions - with the aim of strengthening the anti-Communist and anti-Soviet line within the PSI.

In July 1961 Cavazza married Adriana Cassarini, with whom he would have two children, Federico and Marianna.

The years following Il Mulino: between publishing and finance in a changing world

After the experience at Il Mulino magazine, concluded at the end of 1963, Cavazza moved to Milan, where he worked with Piero Bassetti - an entrepreneur who also was a member of the Christian Democrats - on the creation of the public opinion measurement company, specialized in market research and opinion polls. At the end of the 1960s he participated in the planning of future regional bodies for economic planning (in anticipation of the creation of the regions with ordinary statute, which later took place in 1970) and joined the Board of Directors of the newspaper La Stampa. He participated in the work of the Pirelli Commission (1969) - established to draft the new statute of Confindustria (the General Confederation of Italian Industry) - and in the organization of the Giovanni Agnelli Foundation (created in 1966). In relation to the work carried out for these two bodies, the collaboration with the Rockefeller and Ford foundations continued.

In the early seventies he coordinated a vast research - financed by the Agnelli Foundation - on the particularities of the Italian socio-political situation; among the participants were Romano Prodi, Alessandro Pizzorno, Giorgio Galli, Gabriele De Rosa, Giovanni Sartori, Arrigo Levi, Alessandro Alberigi Quaranta, Karl Kaiser, Stanley Hoffman, Jacques Le Goff. The research was published in 1974, with the title The Italian case, edited by Cavazza himself and by Stephen R. Graubard (who was then professor of history at Brown University and editor of Daedalus, the journal of American academy of arts and sciences).

In the same period Cavazza became managing director of the publishing company of the newspaper Il Sole-24 ore, and in this role he contributed to building a service newspaper for the Italian economic-financial community; he was its director between 1978 and 1980, and vice president from 1980 to 1982. He was a member of the board of directors of Corriere della sera between 1983 (after the release of the publisher Angelo Rizzoli from the newspaper's ownership) and 1987; in this capacity, he participated in the reorganization of the newspaper.

Since 1984 he has been a member of the Steering Committee of the Il Mulino Cultural and Political Association and of the Board of Directors of the Il Mulino Publishing Company. In 1986 he joined the Board of Directors of the Italian Institute for Historical Studies in Naples, thus renewing the collaboration that had existed in the 1950s and 1960s between Il Mulino and the Institute. Thanks to Cavazza's mediation, these two bodies struck an agreement for the publishing house to publish the works produced by the Institute.

From the mid-1980s - in the belief that the future development of Italian industries, especially small and medium-sized ones, would pass through their internationalization - Cavazza began to work as a consultant, in order to support and strengthen the ability to export of these companies, both through a consortium of banks that provided advice to their clients, and through collaboration with some US lobbies and with the association of Japanese entrepreneurs (JMA, Japan Management Association). Always with this in mind, between 1983 and 1993, through the Studi & Servizi Company in collaboration with the Ambrosetti consulting firm, he coordinated a service, called Globalità,intended to provide economic and political forecasts (both international and national) to Italian management, and thus make the latter more aware of the context in which it was operating. In the 1980s he was also president of the Italian branch of a large Dutch company specializing in printing systems, Océ.

In 1990, as part of a process of privatization of the credit system, the possibility opened up in Italy to create large philanthropic entities, which had been absent up to that time. The experience accumulated over the years by Cavazza with US big foundations became a point of reference for two of the main Italian banking foundations, the aforementioned Cariplo and Carisbo (Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna).

Cavazza's reflection on Italian and international politics continued between the end of the 1980s and the mid-1990s, through the participation in the activities of two important research institutes - the Italian branch of the American Aspen Institute and AREL (Agency of Research and Legislation).


Event Participated in

Bilderberg/19699 May 196911 May 1969Denmark
Hotel Marienlyst
The 18th Bilderberg meeting, with 85 participants
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  1. National archives record administration [NARA], Record general [RG] 84, entry UD 2783 A, Italy, Rome embassy, ​​Records of Clare Boothe Luce 1955-1957, Box 8, Confidential
  2. Semi-annual USIS report for Italy, January-June 1955, July 20, 1955, pp. 11-12
  3. NARA, RG 59, Central decimal file, Folder 511.65, Educational exchange: 1956 Foreign leader program, March 26, 1956, Box 2200
  4. Fabio Luca Cavazza Archives, Correspondence with Victor Benedict Sullam, 1956-1963
  5. P. Facchi, Il discorso persuasivo, July-August, 66, 7-8, pp. 475-701
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