Valentino Parlato is suddenly gone. For me, for us, this is the loss of a ranking intellectual, a brilliant journalist, a fraternal father, a gentle man, a funny pain the neck, that rare communist who avoids the rhetoric of clichés and the traps of ideology.
Valentino has always preferred by far a disenchanted analysis of reality. And, with his qualities that made him dear, Valentino was always there, just a phone call away, ready for small talk at the café. Even when he did not agree, of course.
When I learned of his death, my first reaction was surprise, and the second was pain. Valentino, in spite of his ailments, carried his age with determination. He did not let his ailments discourage him. He wanted to be actively involved in expressing his ideas, his vision of the world.
Then the pain, as happens when someone leaves, especially when it’s sudden and a loved one to whom you are bound by more than one life.
Valentino was my director for several years and then my colleague, until Wednesday, during the long and troubled political experience of il manifesto. I was lucky enough to share with him the same workroom on via Tomacelli for some time, where I suffered through his 100 daily cigarettes next to the open window in winter. If we were low on advertising (as always), we often went out together looking for advertisers.
He enjoyed making the newspaper. No one was too far away to be interviewed; nobody was too close to be criticized.
His ideology was not simply a character trait, but a highly political connotation. He was always capable of taking the edge off, always determined not to exacerbate tensions: He favored the openings. He could be pragmatic, even for cultural education, because as an economics expert, he was able to interpret and explain the fundamentals. The latter was needed more than ever in this “epoch of change,” as we have entitled his latest article.
When last year he claimed he had voted for the 5 Star Movement member Raggi as mayor of Rome, he showed great mental agility, accompanied by a strong criticism to the historical “left” (if the Democratic Party can still be defined as left). For a star of the political struggles of the Italian left in the last 50 years, it was a choice of a deep rupture with the past, almost a “twist.” Yet that decision, according to Valentino’s logic, represented the lesser evil.
The many who today refer to him as a “heretic,” well, I think they are taking refuge in a convenient definition. Like Pintor, Rossanda and Castellina, Valentino was a communist. Deeply, coherently, with the doubts and contradictions of a free intellectual.
If anything, the heresy was and is the prerogative of those who, over the years, have deleted the word from the symbols and flags.
He was a man loved by many, and he knew how to be loved. He was a friend, even in difficult times that caused a traumatic separation within the collective history of the newspaper. His final departure leaves a void for all these things.
In recent times, he rarely visited the newsroom, but he often got in touch with the newspaper. Except for the period when there was the split between the current leadership and part of the founding group. Yet even during this painful and difficult phase of il manifesto, he somehow tried to keep the connections open.
Valentino missed us and we missed him. And this mutual feeling helped us to break down the wall of misunderstanding, and he came back to comment on Italian and international politics on the pages of our newspaper. I spoke with him a few days ago — the last phone call — when he said that due to other commitments, he was unable to write the article for April 25.
His partner Maria Delfina Bonada and their children Enrico, Matteo and Valentina will miss a deeply loved one. Il manifesto sends them its embrace. We will miss his suggestions, always in transparency, the frankness of a gentle and kind person.
Good bye, dear Vale.