Paul Ginsborg died, he was 76 years old. Farewell to the Englishman who told of the democratic reconstruction of Italy

The Englishman who told the democratic reconstruction of Italy and who defended it with the “girotondi”. The historian Paul Ginsborg died. He was 77 years old. Many Italians will remember him at the level of political news because this distinguished gentleman, with a nineteenth-century oval and speech streaked with a timeless britis accenth, had become one of the representatives most interviewed and recognized by TV cameras for his active participation in the Girotondi movement which in 2002 was formed in an anti-Berlusconian key. Except that Ginsborg, Professor of Contemporary History at the University of Florenceshould be remembered especially for History of Italy from the post-war period to today (Einaudi) an important essay, and in its way in no way shady, in telling the rebirth of our country from 1945 until the end of the seventies. The book attracted considerable attention among historians and in the 1990s it became a textbook for many Italian university students who dealt with history and politics. The distinctive and analytical aspect of that volume stemmed from the fact that Ginsborg once again mixed the ingredients of the history of Italy – the Resistance, the birth of the Republic, the affirmation of the DC, the economic miracle, the center-left governments and the ’68 – in an integrated key between social aspects (in particular, the affirmation of the socio-anthropological nucleus of the “family” to which he returned with Famiglia Novecento and L’Italia del Present Time, again with Einaudi), economic and more purely historical anecdotal. Even at a methodological level, Ginsborg did not stop at the usual heated soup of the succession of data and facts, but had had the audacity to draw on official parliamentary documents, sociological reasoning, and even traces of oral history. In short, a sort of antithesis to the spectacularization of the great characters who made history to Denis Mack Smith. Then of course Berlusconiism provoked the fatal wrath of an intellectual middle class in Italy which soon became a political and pressure movement, especially with respect to the issues of the judiciary. Berlusconi became for a period of time subject of sociological analysis for Ginsborg enough to dedicate a couple of volumes to us at the turn of the early 2000s: Berlusconi. Patrimonial ambitions in a media democracy (Einaudi) e Berlusconi (The third). Precisely in the years of the “engagement” of the square, when even the newspapers spoke for the circles of “fourth pole” in the electoral arena, the English historian who loved Italian democracy (“in democracy the majority has the right to govern and implement his program, even if questionable, but he cannot use his electoral victory to change the foundations of the Republic “), showed in various interviews how the Berlusconian anomaly was only the apex of a liberal and antisocial mutation underway in Italy. In one of the many interviews that flocked to every newspaper between 2002 and 2003, Ginsborg explained the meticulous and gradual dismantling of progressive and egalitarian democracy in our country, taking the school sector as an example: “Coming to school it is striking that in Italy there is no clear division of class which characterizes, for example, education in my country, England, where private schools (ironically called ‘public schools’) offer the bourgeoisie who can afford it an education that is much higher than that of the state school. Privatization is a purely class system and, despite all the defects, the Italian public school had the advantage of avoiding themor. And Italy should enhance this and other qualities by entering Europe. What angers me the most is that we are trying to trace the Reaganism and Thatcherism of twenty years ago precisely when we are discussing and reflecting on the breakdowns caused by privatization, for example in the British railways “. In short, Luciano Gallino reflections, so to speak. In fact, after Berlusconi passed, Ginsborg’s intellectual aversion and political struggle changed face but not sign: the new danger was precisely that Matteo Renzi, mayor of the city where the historian had taught for decades. In short, the mortal union Pd-Forza Italia that the professor exemplified with great effectiveness as follows: “I live in Tuscany and I see every day how much compliance there is towards the leader, towards everything that comes from above. The critical spirit lacks. But do not be surprised, it is an attitude that comes from afar: “Comrades, the line has changed!”, The good old democratic centralism. I think there are elements of blind obedience, passed from fathers to sons ”. So if the macro-defect of the Italian left according to the English-born professor it was that of not being able to politically and electorally give answers to the middle class of the country, his look as a foreigner in Italy made him underline the eternal problem of political power linked to public resources to be given. “He will say something unpleasant: in many sectors – of culture, justice and the professions – everything passes through power. If the Democratic Party exercises a vast dominion, it expects and obtains loyalty. In England, the resources that politics can distribute are much less “. In 2010 and then in 2016 Ginsborg published two Einaudi volumes of the Le Vele series. The first, more spurious, was entitled Let’s save Italy where he tried to suggest new utopian streams into which the lifeblood to “save our homeland” – “the experience of urban self-government, Europeanism, egalitarian aspirations and the ideal of meekness” -; then, precisely, in the face of the breakup of the left, understood here in the Italian declination of a broad progressive historical ideological compromise, Ginsborg published Passion and politicwhere he made concrete the ghost of leveling neoliberalism of every social and system alternative (the There Is No Alternative of Draghian memory), for a sort of darker and more pessimistic pamphlet than the girotondine boldness of twenty years earlier with which he made himself publicly and politically know. In Passion and politics Ginsborg begins by reasoning around the fact that neoliberalism governs not only the economy, but above all the interiority and intimacy of the individual – passions, consumption, free time, the narcissistic cult as an end in itself – destroying its social and collective meaning. In short, the lesson that Ginsborg had interwoven without equal with the History of Italy from the post-war period to today had been enriched every day by the socio-cultural transformations taking place, with the nefarious, lasting and apparently indefatigable ending of the new moloch, of the new ideological Leviathan against which it does not exist. more rebellion: neoliberalism. In 2019 Paul Ginsborg was elected president of the Freedom and Justice association, succeeding Tomaso Montanari.