To the emerging political force who could change the world

Originally published: Il manifesto on April 28, 2024 by Luciana Castellina (more by Il manifesto)  | (Posted Apr 30, 2024)

I’m not going to be giving an account of the event itself; I don’t even know who the official speakers were, because, even though I was among the marchers for six hours, I didn’t even get to Piazza del Duomo–so great was the crowd that had filled half the city.

There were so many from the newspaper’s editorial staff in Milan, all carrying the banner of il manifesto, proud to have given a particular boost to the usual Milanese celebration of April 25, as they did 30 years ago. I’ll leave it to them to recount it all.

Of course, I would have liked to tell that story, because one doesn’t always have the opportunity to take part in such an event. The demonstration was not only enormous, but the vast majority of participants were from a new generation that we haven’t seen before: the very youngest, from 15 years old (many middle school students) to 25.

This is truly a new political fact: particularly on the issue of war, but not only, the 20-year-olds are coming back on the scene. I think it’s because they sense that we’re at a point of epochal change in the world and they’re driven to mobilize. In their own way, of course. They looked cheerful: along the route, thousands danced to the rhythms of the formidable sound system installed on the huge ARCI float, courtesy of its famous Circolo Magnolia.

Who are they? Who are they voting for? Or rather, are they going to vote at all? I don’t know; most were by themselves, not gathered around signs showing any particular affiliation. Seeing them makes me smile, even more than I do now every Monday night when LA7 releases the weekly poll figures: Fratelli d’Italia +0.07%, PD -0.02%, the same kind of figures for the M5S or Calenda. And then, through the following week, all the political scientists get busy trying to explain the profound changes in Italian society on the basis of those near-zero figures, with no one really informing us what the 60 percent of young people who are also engaged in politics think.

The reason I’m writing this is because I’d like to give two pieces of advice to this emerging young political force:

  1. Be wary not only of official fascism, but also of the anti-fascism flaunted by those who use it as a cover for their own all-too-similar shenanigans. I’m not naming names, but I’d recommend paying close attention.
  2. I think it’s always useful to remember that the Italian partisan war was very different from that of many other Nazi-occupied countries.

Most of those countries, beginning with France and the northern monarchies, fought against the background of the legitimacy of the deposed governments, in whose name each country’s Resistance was fighting. In Italy, however, our young went into the mountains without knowing what democracy and anti-fascism really were, and without their backs covered by anyone at all. It was an incalculable gamble. And it takes just as much today to do what is absolutely necessary: to change the world. It’s difficult, I know. But today I have such optimism that I think they can get it done.

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