I remember very well the first issue of the daily il manifesto, and my exhilaration as a 16-year-old militant who rushed to the newsstand to buy the Communist newspaper born to the left of the PCI. Accustomed as we were to the shouted slogans of our leaflets and dazebao (for those who don’t know: this Chinese name was used for wall manifestos written in felt-tip pen), I confess that I was taken aback by those headlines that went on for several lines, not at all terse, syntactically correct, with news and interpretation presented together.
In short, they forced us to make an effort to reason, to not be satisfied with propaganda. And the graphical layout itself, composed and elegant, confirmed what we already knew: the creators of that newspaper wanted to address us every day from the standpoint of a previous generation.
We were the newcomers. They already had a well-established relationship with an educated and in no way extremist working-class and union social body. Those who ran that newspaper, I knew, had white hair and an important history behind them. It was too easy to dismiss them as boring intellectuals.
I was then lucky enough to meet them and even work with them after the closure of Lotta Continua. Because—and this should also be acknowledged now that it is half a century old—il manifesto turned out to be a much more lasting cultural enterprise than the others that sprouted up during the years of the revolt.
I’d like to recount what it felt like, on an emotional level, to follow a congress of the PCI under the leadership of Luigi Pintor, as Rina Gagliardi was inevitably moved to tears during Ingrao’s speech.
Above all, I want to recall the sensitivity with which Rossana Rossanda sought to create through us a dialogue with the survivors of the rubble of the armed struggle, to accompany the relentless criticism towards the claim of legal guarantees to which they are still entitled.
And the amusement with which Valentino Parlato used to tell me about the effect on union leaders— whom I could never reach before—that some of my factory chronicles had.
But before all of that, there was the comradeship with peers such as the unforgettable Giovanni Forti— oh, how I miss him—and Giovanna Pajetta and Lucia Annunziata and Ida Dominijanni and Gianni Riotta and many others who, while we worked for papers who were theoretically competitors, showed that we all belonged to a real school of journalism.
At Lotta Continua, we were arrogant, no point to deny it. But when we crossed paths with the staff of il manifesto, we sensed that professionalism was not a bad word. We envied their elegance a little. I’ll refrain from saying much about the admiration aroused in me by the young female journalists on Via Tomacelli.
I’m pleased to be able to say that I shared in your wonderful experience as a reader, from day one. I would not have imagined back then that I would become a journalist myself. And that we would later share much more than a connection: a faith.
Yes, a faith. I use a word that doesn’t necessarily have just a religious meaning. After all, the two lay thinkers who wrote the manifesto that inspired your newspaper, preaching scientific socialism, expressed their faith in the possibility of an international organization of workers, in the end of exploitation, in the withering away of the state.
I haven’t had your constancy, but I have never ceased to see you as a precious point of reference.