Born in Como, after carrying out professional roles in Milan and Sicily, he moved to Rovereto permanently from 1940, where he worked as a secretary of the local cooperation Institution (the cooperative movement sector that included all sectors except for the credit one, that fascism had wanted to separate).
When WWII was over, Monti, ”inhabitant of Trentino by adoption” by now, started a sudden career in the local and national cooperative world. He is the director of SAV (society of farmers from Val Lagarina) from 1945 until 1963; in 1949 he is president of Leno, a newly established construction industry cooperative; in 1959 he is among the promoters of CAVIT, of which he is president until 1976; he is SAIT director from 1964 until 1973. Being already a board member of the federal agency, he was elected president of the Federation of Cooperation in Trentino in 1976 until 1983, the year in which he suddenly died.
He was the first president of Cooperfidi from 1980 until 1982. He had several work assignments at national level. Confcooperative councillor, he was national president of Federcantine from 1973 until his untimely death; councillor of Federcasse, he became its vice president; in 1976 he became board member of ICCREA-central Institute of rural and handicraft banks. These years with Monti were years of change for the cooperative system in Trentino: his intent, in taking over the leadership of SAIT, was to address the current contemporary challenges, that is to maintain competitiveness by not betraying the principles of cooperation and of territorial supervision. It was necessary therefore to rationalise costs and expenses: this is indeed the boom period of big low budget supermarkets chains, accompanied by a cultural change in the mode of consumption that saw the role of traditional trade diminishing. These were also years of criticism to Monti and to the cooperative system in change; it was seen as moving away from the original ideals and too close to the capitalist logic of the market.
Monti’s approach also considered the topic of participation and the importance of the link among different sectors in the cooperative sphere, aimed to have a system of integrated cooperation. Monti was a key player in political life as well: from 1956 until 1960 he became first councilman and then mayor of Rovereto for a term. From 1968 until 1976 he was elected always in the ranks of Christian Democracy, in Parliament. In 1971, at the Chamber of Deputies, he was founder of the reform act on the organisation of cooperative societies.
Here are some passages from the speech by hon. Maurizio Monti by the title “Attualità della cooperazione di consumo”, and published in the volume “Una politica per la cooperazione”. The venture of Christian Democracy for the types of Edizioni Cinque Lune in 1972: “the cooperative clearly distinguishes itself from the capitalistic enterprise, because it only has the purpose to realise a profit for the capital, which is the owner of the company, while in the cooperative the capital is a simple tool provided without or with the minimum payment by the consuming members (...) the secret for success and prosperity of cooperation lies in the cooperation of all members, and that obviously requires administrators who are up to their task”.
Hon. Monti points out a virtuous synergy of intents between cooperative mutualism and trade union:
“(...) a certain common goal among trade unions and cooperatives, some who tend to achieve better working conditions for the classes most in need while others (the cooperatives), always concerning the field of consumption, tend to value salaries”. “Mutualistic companies don’t have solely economic merits but they constitute one of the main brakes to the leading world race towards a social model founded on widespread selfishness and consumption to take into great consideration are also “the social and moral aims of cooperation, as educating in solidarity and mutual support raises the life standard of workers, also spiritually; the capacity to correct, if not to overcome, the unbridled selfishness of the world of capitalists, without arriving to the collectivism, annihilator of human personality and freedom”.
Monti reaffirms the importance of mutual aid as a tool of solution of problems posed by complexity:
“He can only consider very valid the principles of self defense, solidarity and emancipation from others’ power, suggested by those who want to provide for themselves to satisfy certain needs; today as yesterday it is still valid the fact that the ones who learn their own problems by themselves, by joining others, are more likely to solve them well, under certain conditions, rather than by relying on intermediaries or other bureaucratic collective bodies. The logic of 1844, the logic of the Rochdale pioneers, it is today’s logic, it is a longstanding logic; the cooperative represented yesterday an efficient tool to allow to the person to participate with dignity to the economic-productive process and to safeguard the spirit’s values; still- it is well recognised by everybody- it presented a true democracy; As it is no longer necessary nowadays, with everything that is trend-setting and magnifying, whatever people say, to reduce in men the satisfaction of their own work, doing, creating, participating?”.
Concerning the future of consumer cooperation (early 1970s), it appears clear to Monti how the mutual management class had to deal with small cooperative enterprises, with changing times, customs and consumer habits and above all with a strongly fierce competition, in particular in the field of the big organised distribution:
“It seems undeniable that we can’t escape from the principle of the size of the company, which is already a trend; and because in doing so, one of the main principles that are at the basis of the movement, the participation of the consumer members to their own cooperative life, already loosened by the dispersion of modern life, risks to be further compromised, it will be necessary to strengthen those measures that create new grounds for appeal and to make the consumer feel more the life of their institution, first of all by fostering the clients’ connection, educating them on the cooperative’s function and involving him with new forms of management and its results. The development of every activity requires adequate tools, in addition to experienced men”.
Here are some passages of the president Maurizio Monti’s report, presented at the conference on 10th December 1978 on the occasion of the 80th death anniversary of don Lorenzo Guetti:
“So that all cooperative members from Trentino resume and deepen the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood that existed at the origins of the cooperative movement (...) don Guetti’s message was addressed to young people in the hope of giving to them a clearer idea of what cooperation represented for the economic and social rebirth of Trentino and the emancipation of popular classes during the tough years at the turn of the century. The proposition of history and the cooperative ideal is especially a real proposal, a safe point of reference for those seeking new values of solidarity and self-management on which they can strengthen the social fabric and rebuild a more peaceful future prospective for our communities ”.
Maurizio Monti recognises the attractivity of the cooperative formula in a province at a very high intensity compared to other regions of our country:
”I would say that almost instinctively perhaps even without a clear conscience, many social classes are turning to cooperation searching for a better valorisation of the human person, based on the basic concept of removing the weakest group from marginalisation, but also in the attempt to change society, to make man the real protagonist of it”.
Andrea Leonardi (a cura di), Maurizio Monti cooperatore e amministratore, Comune di Rovereto, 2007.