Over the past decade, Alberto Asor Rosa’s long, historic friendship with il manifesto (also on a personal level) had become a relationship of affectionate closeness and support. And the collaboration with him became more and more energetic, focused, stimulating and valuable. The article he wrote for one of our birthdays (that of April 28, 2010, our 40th), which we have republished, testifies to this wholeheartedly.
Most recently, the articles had stopped, but the conversation continued, despite Asor’s health condition, which finally led to silence in the last few months. We remember how his pleasant, wry voice would let us know of a new article, often sent to our editorial office by fax and with a cover sheet with short quotes, always handwritten, referring of course to the topic at hand, but also going beyond it with epigram-like reflections in the margins. For example: “I tried to write according to reason. Reason is not always right, though.”
Or: “I put a little bit of everything in there: including utopia (once upon a time that also used to be there, wasn’t it?).” Words fail to do justice to the complexity of his analyses on Italian political events, on the left, on the country, which Asor (as he was known in public) observed and interpreted, reacting each time to the discouraging character of the present with the Gramscian formula of optimism of the will and pessimism of the intelligence, not without recalling in full the reasons that make this combination commendable, indeed inevitable, according to Gramsci himself: “Every collapse brings with it intellectual and moral disorder. It is necessary to build up sober, patient men who do not despair before the worst horrors and do not exalt themselves at every trifle.”
Faced with the degeneration of the Italian political-institutional makeup, his militant commitment did not allow for retreats or easy consolations.
The common thread running through his contributions was marked by that “still searching” attitude that every leftist feels before they can understand it.
For instance, in the long article (L’anello mancante) that we have republished in large excerpts, in which Alberto reflects on the damage done by big tent governments, on the crisis of the PD, on anti-politics as “total absence of correspondence between interests and representation,” on self-referentiality driven to extremes , on the abandonment of the relationship with the world of labor, and, finally, on the moral question that closes the article, giving it impressive historical relevance: “Is it possible for a party like the PD to not unearth the moral question and choose it as its banner?”
These points of crisis have gradually become all-engulfing chasms threatening to swallow a prospect for change, both distant and urgent.
He was also strongly committed to environmental issues, such as when he opened up a healthy controversy by writing the article Operai e padroni, strana alleanza (“Workers and bosses, a strange alliance”), published in our pages, about the Ilva issue (back in year 2012), advancing the prospect of a neo-labourism and a neo-environmentalism.
But Alberto Asor Rosa was also a teacher figure for me. Already in the very early years, when he used to follow the protests of the Literature and Philosophy collective at the Sapienza with kindness and helpful advice, and we would go to see him as a group.
Today, so many of us mourn him. We will miss his deep thought and his understanding and benevolent gaze.
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