Interview with Marco Revelli

The following interview with the well-known Italian intellectual was conducted in Rome on 19 April during the national assembly of L’Altra Europa con Tsipras.

For a short report of the national assembly of L’Altra Europa click here.

Fabio Sebastiani: In your introductory talk you said that ‘there is no more time’. In your opinion, has something been accomplished today?
Marco Revelli: We took a very important step: We constituted a genuine political subjectivity, within a community that knows what ties it together and which is able to speak up in public and make common decisions. Until now we were a multitude of individuals who identified generically with the project of the electoral list Altra Europa con Tsipras and that agreed on the need to enlarge the field and continue after the European elections. Today we are a political subject. We defined ourselves as a subject-project, that is, an entity that in no way sees itself as self-sufficient but lives to launch a collective process going well beyond its constituent parts with the very ambitious aim of giving birth, also in Italy, to a common house for the left and democrats. This involves rebuilding the left that has disappeared, from the bottom certainly but also from the top, that is, working on its diverse pieces after the deluge and the general change of our framework as well as the genetic mutation of the PD. And this has been affirmed in our political declaration which is explicit about the need to build the critical mass needed not to simply bear witness but to try and actually shift the balance of power, both in Italy and in Europe.
Among the issues you dealt with is the reinvention of the modalities and forms of political representation.
One of the priorities we set for ourselves is to consider the forms of politics and the innovations it needs, acknowledging that there is a process of the very serious crisis of nineteenth-century political forms and a need to imagine ways of being and acting together suited to our period.
Another focal point is the representation of social concerns.
There is a proliferation of initiatives, in particular in recent months. And at the same time as this tension has been growing there has been the emergence, on the one hand, of the enormously limiting fragmentation of these experiences and, on the other hand, the lack of representation, including social representation. It is no accident that Landini has rightly made this the core of his initiative. We enthusiastically welcomed the FIOM’s [the Italian Federation of Metalworkers – CGIL] proposal to give birth to a social coalition that puts back together horizontally what has been divided. We are convinced that this is a necessary condition for a change in the general balance of forces, but not a sufficient one because there is still the problem of political representation and of how the process of social recomposition intersects the vertical process of political representation.
You are rather oriented to the particular situation of Liguria, but other than that it seems that the approach to the regional elections is quite clear …
We are in favour of unity lists in sharp and intentional contrast to the PD. There are many of these in Tuscany and in the Marche. And there is Liguria, which I underlined in my introduction, because there you see really see the conditions for a disaster in the PD’s social base. It’s a rift within the PD, because we believe that the credibility of a project also depends on its results, that is, on the amount of consensus, also electoral consensus, it is able to create. One amendment the assembly made was not to overemphasise Liguria’s role within the overall panorama.

What would you say to young people to convince them to politicise themselves?
This is a dramatic issue in many respects, because there have been generations by now lost to politics, which politics in turn has dispersed and lost. And communication with young people is blocked by a linguistic barrier. Many of our words, much of our language and our categories are unknown to kids who are the true victims of the current situation. Political and collective commitment is in many respects a vestige of the past, but much will depend on what young people, for their part, are able to do regarding the new fault lines that are opening up. The old partisans essentially had begun to speak with my 1968 generation after we began to move. We discovered the usefulness of that dialogue when we began to decide who are enemies were and also our allies.

Translation: Eric Canepa