The year 2022 ended with sad news for il manifesto: on the evening of December 31, our Filippo Maone passed away, one of the figures who founded our project more than 51 years ago, together with Rossana Rossanda, Luigi Pintor, Lucio Magri, Luciana Castellina, Valentino Parlato, and Aldo Natoli.
We said goodbye to him on Wednesday at the hall of the Waldensian Church in Rome, where the whole newspaper collective embraced his family members, his comrades and those who loved him. It was a collective farewell. Now I would like to turn to some personal memories to go deeper into the relationship I had with Filippo, to give you a picture of the deep affection and the respect I had for his unique way of being, which was a strong influence on me.
It’s hard to talk about him. Because he put on the appearance of being discreet, even shy, almost aloof. In reality, Philip was just rigorous, punctilious, careful in supervising the political and cultural events that he would boldly initiate. A strong character who had no need for competition and self-representation.
He had “simply” started the gears turning on our communist newspaper on April 28, 1971, and before that, he had promoted the magazine Il Manifesto, which came out in the summer of 1969 with the editorial “Prague is alone,” distancing itself from the PCI, but still within, with an original internal orientation in its desire to open a debate on Communism in the party – an effort that would be branded “fractionalism” and expelled from the party with the whole group that promoted it, and which instead was a harbinger of the reflection that was going to be needed to save from ruin an extraordinary heritage of struggle and thought, in the face of the transformations taking place and the new movements, starting with that of the students.
Filippo was the practical soul of this founding work. A work which continued, despite the many divisions and ruptures, with his sage support of the daily newspaper in the face of a thousand difficulties: printing, broadcasting, subscription, the first advertisement – for Rio Mare tuna, “the extra-parliamentary tuna” as Stefano Benni quipped. Filippo built things, was behind every concrete step, gave support to every “impossible” initiative: he would even re-edit the Il Manifesto magazine in the 2000s around the debate on the new millennium and the alternatives that were being promoted by Rossanda, Ingrao and Magri.
He took no advantage of anything for his own gain; he would limit himself to just smiling with his Mediterranean visage. He was present, passionate and responsible, indeed “the responsible one,” but almost hidden in the background. That is why I lovingly dedicated an epigram and a fable to him. The epigram says: “At the bar with the accused / Chairman Mao was missing / but for 10 years they could have found / Maone at the bar instead,” paraphrasing the twists and turns of Deng’s reign in China that would have gladly brought Mao to trial together with the so-called “gang of four,” all promoters of the forward-looking and failed Cultural Revolution. But it is the fable (in the book I Rabdomanti, published by manifestolibri) that best describes Filippo, which I wrote about a little-known, almost ephemeral event: Rossana Rossanda had returned to Rome, after her stay in Paris, to a new home together with her inseparable black cat Mefis. On an unlucky day, the cat escaped through a door that had been inadvertently left open. Everyone was called to look for her, but no one could find her; Mefis was nowhere to be found.
At that point, there was only one thing to do: call Filippo. Methodically and with great affection, he comforted Rossana in despair, and for many nights lurked in the garden of the house calling out to the cat, who, eventually, thanks to his presence, decided to come back. Such was his “magic,” and I cast him as a magician named Polifone in a fantastic circus of wonders. This is who Filippo Maone was: the magician who had held all our projects together in his imagination, working towards the goal of the programs set out together, step by step – inside our reality, beyond this reality. Farewell, Filippo.
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