Carlo Tognoli, the reformist socialist who changed Milan

Carlo Tognoli, the reformist socialist who changed Milan
Carlo Tognoli, the reformist socialist who changed Milan

In Sigmund Freud’s primary scene, the little girl sees her parents’ tangle through the keyhole and hears their moans, making the wrong ideas about what is happening. In the primary scene of Italian politics, we see the crack that becomes the rift and then a chasm between socialists and communists, children together with the fascists of the same mother consanguineous to all, the socialist one. And Michelangelo’s eye from which to grasp the perspective is Milan. The Milan of the Eighties, when the Soviet empire was still wobbling but was lagging behind (Afghanistan was invaded in 1979) and in Italy the historical compromise had failed, while the socialist Pax reigned as a completely new element. With Bettino Craxi at Palazzo Chigi for four years and Sandro Pertini at the Quirinale for seven.

The Craxi Foundation publishes an extraordinarily fresh, clear, authentic book and the result of an honest intelligence, that of the mayor of Milan Carlo Tognoli (he was for ten years, from 1976 to 1986), who fell among the victims of Covid (he died on 5 March of this year) and that we all remember for that composed mildness not to be confused with complacency: Carlo Tognoli, Without promising the moon. Writings by a Milanese reformist (Baldini + Castoldi, pages 384, euro 19; edited by the Bettino Craxi Foundation).

As administrator, Tognoli restored the moral capital to the glories of the ancient and then lost and then regained dignity. As a historian – the book collects in an ordered form a miscellany of writings in good sequence – Carlo Tognoli proves to be excellent, bringing the ball back to the center. Let us recall the outlines of the camp: the red terrorism, largely heterodirected by the Soviet KGB and the Soviet Cranes who managed to abort the PCI’s entry into the western camp, although Berlinguer had declared to Giampaolo Pansa that he felt more protected by NATO than by the Soviets. . It was also as a result of this failure that relations between socialists and communists had become a brawl and then a war. Bettino Craxi was openly treated as the re-edition of Mussolini (the cartoons by Giorgio Forattini with Craxi in fez and boots) and only a patrol of “bestists” in the PCI looked to a social democratic future and therefore also to Craxi’s PSI, but always with spite , envy and jealousy. The motto “Milan to drink” was coined and reproduced as a slogan reinforced by the “Reaganian hedonism” of Roberto D’Agostino, then enlisted in the gang of Renzo Arbore, who was and is a liberal.

Milan had resumed producing wealth. Wealth produced beauty and even luxury, the desire to close the chapter of Italy which was gray and subdued by the fear of the puppets of national and international terrorism. When the last enterprise of the terrorists, the kidnapping of the American general Dozier, failed, the victory and peace of Italy was declared, which had resisted well. And it was a party. And it was the sequined televisions, the praise of eros, the praise of the futile which is much more necessary than necessary, the praise of normality. Bettino Craxi had removed the scrap metal of the Soviet symbols that had burdened the party that was not of the hammer and sickle, but of the Sol of the future beyond a large open book to signify that culture is revolution and truth is freedom.

The Communists screeched a lot and the rest of the Ardennes was on the horizon: the “Clean Hands” operation, “Clean Hands”, which had matured in the United States with the help of many honest Italian prosecutors such as Falcone, even if no one had yet understood the purpose of the operation: it took the lucid madness of Francesco Cossiga to sound the alarm and immediately see himself treated like a furious madman.

Cossiga’s message had been clear: Italy during the Cold War between 1947 and 1989 had been a “hinge country” between East and West and its ruling class, mostly Christian Democrats, had used that position of privilege to to sleep with the enemy, to negotiate with the Soviets behind the Americans, to pursue a pro-Palestinian but also pro-Israeli policy and as for the Americans he had followed his instincts. Americans, British, French and Germans of the Federal Republic could not wait to clean up the Italian leaders and were waiting for Berlinguer’s Communists to decide to cross the ford, breaking with Moscow, which never happened. In addition, Enrico Berlinguer had distanced himself from the Bolshevik revolution whose initial thrust he saw exhausted, he had thrown himself into the politics of the “Aryans of good”, arguing that “only Communists have clean hands.” Which then turned out to be completely false, and even unpunished. All the parties took the stage of the executioner but not the PCI, hastily recycled into the PDS and destined to live with its joyful war machine, defeated by the daring of the entrepreneur Silvio Berlusconi who beat everyone in creativity and breaking the mold , making the plan of the “good” Communists who were expected in government after years of corruption fail, and so on. From there, we add, populisms also come, that of the Five Stars first and partly of the League.

Milan was the ground of that bitter battle in which Justice moved with furious dinosaur steps and in particular the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office became the temple of the deeds of a pool of magistrates whose most visible member was the former policeman Antonio Di Pietro , able to juggle as few in classroom use of large Macintosh computers. It was all in Milan. But Carlo Tognoli starts from the key to the problem: from Filippo Turati who had seized the only path that produces good administration and avoids massacres: reformism. Being a reformist became a stigma that – when the Communists allied themselves with Hitler’s Nazis with Stalin and started the war on the same side until the German stabbed the Georgian – took on the new monstrous guise: that of social-fascism. Socialists who aspired to rule in “bourgeois” democracies (another adjective to be avoided) were dismissed as social-fascists, while communists all over the world, from September 1939 to June 1941, only glorified the proletarian victories of German National Socialism.

Then there was the reversal of the front, because the slogan came to return to the politics of the “Popular Fronts”. Tognoli reviews them all, those anti-communist socialist protagonists and – those who lived – anti-fascists, from Leonida Bissolati to Filippo Turati, from Anna Kuliscioff to all those who rose up in the PSI in the face of the Soviet repression of the anti-communist revolution of workers and students of Budapest. They are reasoned and calm notes, but also warm. They are absolutely current for those under fifty to understand and for those who have more to remember.

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