Luciana Castellina, a daughter of the last century, to borrow the title of her friend Rossana Rossanda’s autobiography, but also of this one, is celebrating her ninetieth birthday, and we send her all our compliments and best wishes.
For Luciana, the short twentieth century is truly destined never to end just as her will, as a communist activist, to change the world has never died and she, like the ‘amori comunisti’ of her recent beautiful collection of non-fiction stories, has never become resigned.
This year, which she began bedridden due to a fall, though always very active by telephone, email, and as an author, saw her as a candidate in the European elections on Syriza’s list in Greece where she had been arrested fifty years ago for standing by those who fought the colonels, who remained in contact with her, showing their affection and esteem for her throughout the whole history of our country’s left.
The elections were lost because what the Tsipras government had to suffer was almost as shameful as what happened in the by now distant past. But, for a force that only recently started out with 4% of votes, to lose while getting 30% of votes is not losing, all the more that the majority of its voters are those who suffered the most.
Luciana immediately said this, with the consciousness of someone who has seen and participated in many victories and has known how to absorb defeats. With the awareness of one who, in this part of her life, knows how to live through a prolonged defeat but without feeling vanquished because only those who give up and stop struggling are defeated.
Castellina experienced the short century in the midst of struggles, encounters, voyages, and reflections. As a communist and as a woman. And speaking many languages and authoring many books and articles.
Her life is a novel like those she has written, becoming successful in this field as well.
She has been a communist activist inside and outside of the PCI (Partido Comunista Italiano) that expelled her because, together with her dear comrades of Il Manifesto, she criticised ‘actually-existing socialism’. With this wrongheaded gesture the PCI was already on the road that was to lead it to lose itself and at the same time, unfortunately, to contribute to Italy’s losing its own history and thus its future.
But Castellina never ‘lost’ the PCI, through continuing to speak to its base that existed beyond the apparatuses.
While doing so she encountered the young people of ’68, the peace movement, feminism, and environmentalism; she founded the PdUP (Partito di Unità Proletaria), which attempted to be a bridge between histories and generations; and she was elected to parliament several times.
She even reclaimed the PCI in what was then a final attempt to save it before it was lost forever. After which she tried to give Italian communism a new home with Rifondazione Comunista and then Sinistra Italiana.
In the meanwhile she became honorary president of ARCI (Associazione Ricreativa e Culturale Italiana), the network of organisations of the broad left.
For her Europe is a home, a home she wanted to see in a different form, something for which she fought as a Member of the European Parliament, as a leader involved with European culture and cinema, and as a friend and activist of transform!europe.
We of transform!europe offer her our most sincere good wishes and thank her for what she has given us, confident that she will continue to do so for a long time to come. Thanks Luciana.