"A revolutionary without revolution"—Donald Sassoon on Lucio Magri


In today's Guardian, Donald Sassoon remembers Lucio Magri, the author of The Tailor of Ulm: Communism in the Twentieth Century, who sadly passed away last week. In Sassoon's words, Magri was "was a veteran of the Italian new left of the 1960s and 70s." One of his hallmarks was to be "a born dissident ... strong on principles and unwilling to submit to discipline." In his youth, Magri joined the Christian Democrats, but adhering to its left-wing fringe.

In 1958, he decided to move to the Communist Party, where he "quickly became part of a group of young communist radicals who included Rossana Rossanda and Luciana Castellina." Together, in June 1969 they created the journal il manifesto, which was "was a great success - too great for the Communist party leadership," to the point that Magri and the others were expelled. Following their expulsion, however, the manifesto dissidents did not stop to search a dialogue with the PCI:

they never ceased to regard the PCI as the only political structure that could take the country in an anti-capitalist direction. Unlike many of the other radical parties springing up, they saw themselves as a ginger group rather than as the vanguard of the revolution.

Lucio Magri continued to be politically active until 1995, when he withdrew from the Rifondazione Comunista Party. Sassoon describes him as

a handsome and elegant man who was popular in the radical, chic salons of Rome. He could have achieved far greater renown and visibility had he espoused the political cynicism prevailing in high circles and epitomised by Silvio Berlusconi. But he was the genuine article—a revolutionary without a revolution.

Read the Guardian to read the article in full.

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