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A heretic and repentant communist



The news of Rosana Rosanda’s death (she died the day before yesterday in Rome at the age of 96) causes grief and emotions in the left world and beyond. This is because the Italian Communist was undoubtedly a historical figure, one of the most important figures in the European left during the 20th century. Born in 1924, Rosanda approached politics through the illegal anti-fascist struggle. He participated as a young man in the resistance and the guerrilla struggle.

She became a communist in October 1943, when she discovered “that I was a branch of world sinking, and Marx and Lasky and Lenin, no matter how different, would show me that sinking was determined by forces where nothing there was not deadly.”

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After the war, he devoted himself entirely to political action in line with the Italian Communist Party. From 1949 to 1962 he led the “House of Culture” in Milan, which became a gathering and dialogue center for many political and intellectual figures.

In 1962, she moved to Rome because Togliatti had given her the responsibility to run the party’s cultural sector. A woman’s rise to such a position in the party hierarchy – a fact unusual then in most European communist parties – was mainly due to her educational equipment, the breadth and depth of her knowledge, her exceptional intellectual talents. Many years later, Gabriel Garcia Marquez will say, “Rosana is the most intelligent woman I have ever met and can meet in the world.”

In 1956, Khrushchev’s revelations about the crimes of Stalinist crimes and the subsequent violent suppression of the Hungarian revolution would lead Rosanda to take an increasingly critical stance against the party’s orthodoxy.

After Togliatti’s death (1964), the internal party conflict intensified and at the IKK’s 11th Congress in 1966, the leftist tendency under Pietro Ingrao, to which Rosanda also belonged, was gradually defeated, politically and marginalized. In 1968, Rosanda passionately supported the youth uprising and the Prague Spring, which was met with enthusiasm by the entire IKK. However, when Soviet tanks invaded Prague in August 1968, the Italian Communist leadership confined itself to expressing its “disagreement” instead of strongly condemning the invasion.

Some party officials, who had long disagreed with the official line, published the newspaper Il Manifesto in June 1969. The main figures in this initiative were: Rosana Rosanda, Luigi Pindor, Aldo Natoli, Valentino Parlato, Lucio Magri, Luciana Castelina and others. In November of the same year, everyone was expelled from the party. In 1971, the newspaper Il Manifesto became a daily newspaper. In his articles, Rosanda expressed a militant, radical and autonomous thought, looking for a new way to overcome Stalinism “from the left”.

The texts from that period naturally acknowledge the traces (and related illusions) of an influence from the Chinese “cultural revolution”. Rosanda combined wholehearted political mobilization with theoretical study and research.

In addition, she spoke with important thinkers of her time: with Adorno (formerly), Sartre, Foucault, Althusser, etc. Despite the political failure of the Il Manifesto initiative and thus the denial of expectations, Rosanda continued to fight to the end, declaring that she was a communist, without feeling remorse. He always defended criticism and “heretical” views.

In her autobiographical book “The Girl from the Last Century” (Foundation, 2012), she emphasizes IKK’s exceptional contribution to the process of democratizing Italian society. IKK differed after all from all other KK It was Gramsci’s party: “We were the party of the man whose slow path to death, alone and perhaps in abandonment, made him different from the glittering image of the hero who is also the favorite of communist rhetoric. “

Her pride in being a leading figure in the history of Italian communism did not stop her from pointing out his great mistakes. First of all, the left never told its people the truth about what happened in “existing socialism”, about the freedom and political oppression that ruled in these regimes. Rosanda believed that the modern post-communist Italian left was about to go down because it abandoned the idea of ​​defending the weak.

It is a left that does not propose anything other than what the right – wing governments usually do. It has therefore severed its ties with the popular and working classes. According to Rosanda, after 1989 the Communist Party did not provide a satisfactory explanation for the collapse of “existing socialism”.

Instead, he limited himself to accepting the verdicts of his historical opponents, who always claimed that the very idea of ​​communism was wrong. No one tried to give another explanation, no one said, “We were looking for the right ideal, but we made the following mistake.”

In an interview published in 2017 in the magazine Micromega, Marco D’Eramo’s interlocutor asked her: “Are you still a communist?” Because I am an anti-capitalist, but it is no longer clear to me what it means to be a communist, that is, how a collective property can be realized that is not state capitalism. “And Rosanda replied:” It is not so clear to me what it means to be “anti-capitalist yes, Marxist and communist no”. “” And I will never accept that the world is not just full of poverty but also with growing inequalities. “


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