Pietro Ingrao: A Life of Struggle

Pietro Ingrao, a hugely influential figure in Italian Communism, died last Sunday, 27 September, aged 100. A look back at his life reveals many of the debates in the post-war European left, as well as Ingrao’s own commitment to a Marxism that was both uncompromising and dynamic.

Joining the Italian Communist Party (CPI) during the Second World War, Ingrao took up arms as an anti-fascist “Partisan”. In the following decades, he represented the Marxist left of the PCI, clashing several times with the Party leadership as the latter adopted increasingly reformist positions. 

On Ingrao’s hundredth birthday, long-time collaborator and ally Rossana Rossandra reflected on his life and contributions to the PCI. Read her full speech here. 

Another “Ingraian”, Luciana Castellina, expands on the internal battles within the PCI, and Ingrao’s attempts not only to “democratise the Party”, but to develop its theoretical positions in light of developments within contemporary capitalism, see here.

Lucio Magri‘s The Tailor of Ulm assesses the rise and fall of the PCI and Ingrao’s role in the tensions within the party. 

Rossana Rossandra‘s The Comrade from Milan reflects on a life of radical activism – one that she often shared with Ingrao. 

Antonio Negri‘s Books for Burning provides further context of the class struggles in post-war Italy that he, Ingrao and others participated in.

The New Old World by Perry Anderson analyses another major development in this period – namely, the foundation and evolution of the European Union. 

Finally, Luciana Castellina‘s Discovery of the World gives an intimate, personal account of political awakening in fascist Italy. 

Source: www.versobooks.com, 28 September 2015

Read here an obituary by Luciana Castellina, published in the Italian daily newspaperIl Manifesto on 29.9.2015, with the title “La nostra tribù, mai una corrente”.

The Party of the European Left expresses its deep sorrow at the death of the extraordinary Italian politician and intellectual Pietro Ingrao

For a century, Italy had the privilege to host the comrade Pietro Ingrao, the Writer, intellectual and poet, the prominent figure of the history of communist movement in Italy, who left this world yesterday.

Pietro Ingrao joined the Italian communist Party in 1940 and took part in the anti-fascist resistance during World War II. After the war, Ingrao was a Member of Parliament continuously from 1948 to 1994. In 1947-1957, he was editor-in-chief of the party newspaper, L’Unità. He was the first Communist to become President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, a position he held from 1976 to 1979. He was the speaker of the PCI fraction in the Italian Parliament since 1968.
Since the demonstration at Porta Venezia in Milan the 25 July 1943 to celebrate the fall of Benito Mussolini where he had the first long speech, through the peace demonstration against the war in Iraq in 2003 and a lot more, he always took the streets and has been partisan in each step of his life.
Besides the active political militancy, Pietro was an authentic and precious intellectual.
Together with political essays, he wrote wonderful poems on the single life, on the collective action and the endless nature. 
The Party of the European Left joins the Italian comrades in this deep sorrow for the loss of this extraordinary example of leftist integrity and sharp intelligence.
The EL echoes a phrase from Pietro that summarizes his view of the man: "I have learned in this century the unspeakable human, of each of us and of the relationship with each other that we can never grasp the deep way. My fear is that I’ll be taken not so much the bread, nor the Constitution, but this idea of humanity. Please, do not let the question on the human being be canceled."
Addio Pietro, che la terra ti sia lieve.
Find the text in English, French, Italian, and Spanish on the right (pdf).