In his emotional speech on the occasion of his investiture as the leader of the Liberi e Uguali (the Italian Free and Equal) party, Pietro Grasso surprised listeners by singing the praises of the term “radical.”
This is a good opportunity to reflect again on the meaning of this word.
This is an immediately useful undertaking, as it gives us the opportunity to clarify once and for all (or one might at least hope) that “radical” does not mean extremist, sectarian, or fundamentalist, as it does in the mainstream press, which has an interest in putting to shame those who think of politics as something that can change social relations. In the lexicon of the Left, this term has a much more high-minded meaning, as well as a much nobler origin. Historically, the word goes back to the young Marx, for whom “to be radical is to grasp things by the root.”