Marco Pannella, born in 1930, was a civil rights fighter, a laic and liberal intellectual. From divorce to abortion, from prison to euthanasia, to moral objection and to information, Pannella seeded in Italy ideas related to cultural emancipation in a political system that has never recognized his role as a critical conscience. Pannella died Thursday. A commemoration is being held in Piazza Navona today.
I think I am the still-living person who has known Marco Pannella for the longest period of time. Many of our contemporary friends have already passed away (surely into Paradise), and the younger ones haven’t had the tough privilege of a friendship/enmity like ours, which began in the academic year 1947 and ‘48.
We met during our first year at the faculty of law of what today is called La Sapienza but, back then, was simply the University of Rome because, during those times, there was just one and no specifications were needed.
It was still full of fascists, including the rather violent ones, gathered in the “Caravella” group, and a large number of very moderate Catholics lead by Raniero la Valle (now, luckily, more left-winger than I am).
Both me and Marco were on the other side, laics and anti-fascists, but I was already a communist, while he was a liberal-democrat.
We’ve remained like this throughout our entire lives.