i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 9

Secretary of the Itlian Communist Party
talked about democracy as a universal good.
“I became exposed to his ideology when I was
fifteen and years later I ended up working
for him,”Veltroni recalls. “I was in charge of
communications when he was secretary of
the Party. He was shy, but also charismatic.
He had a deep love of the sea and a passion
for soccer, a propensity for innovation and
a strong sense of responsibility. He took
great pride in Italy.These are the qualities
that made him loved by his followers, and
respected by his enemies.”
As to the question, “What did communism
mean for Berlinguer?”Veltroni knows how
complex it may be to understand this,
especially for an American audience.
“In the US the word never got free of its
McCarthyist connotations. It’s still an almost
forbidden, shameful word… For Berlinguer
it meant remaining faithful to the ideals
that had shaped him, social justice and
civil rights, ideals that of course Eastern
European communists betrayed. Just to cite
an example, one day in the mid-Seventies
Berlinguer went onTV and said that he
felt safer under the NATO umbrella than
under the protective wing of theWarsaw
Pact… Once he was even the target of an
assassination attempt in Bulgaria. His ideals
were deemed heretical by the Soviet Union.”
Berlinguer, in other words, forged an Italian
brand of communism that didn’t identify
with the Soviet brand of communism...
“He stood by the goals of his youth, which
was shaped by Italian history: the resistance
movement, the creation of a democratic
state and Italian constitution.”This was
what appealed to Veltroni: “I didn’t believe
in the dictatorship of the proletariat,”
he confesses. “I didn’t believe in the
nationalization of the means of production,
in a one-party system, let alone in the
Soviet Union. I aspired to social justice and
freedom, and Berlinguer allowed people
like me to identify themselves as members
of a party that happened to be called
communist. This approach, unprecedented
for the secretary of a communist party,
attracted the support of many people who
were not ideologically sympathetic to
communism.”
ForBerlinguer,
communism
meantremaining
faithfultotheidealsof
socialjusticeandcivil
rights.Hisapproach,
unprece-dentedfor
thesecretaryof
acommunistparty,
attractedthesupport
ofmanypeoplewho
werenotideologically
sympatheticto
communism
On a personal note, what advice has
Veltroni been given by his eldest daughter,
herself a documentarian working in New
York?
“She is a child of our time. She has a modern
approach to communication. So her advice
had to do with combining the substance
of what we were talking about with more
direct and effective styles of communication.
I listened to her. I generally believe that
fathers should listen to their children…
There comes a point in life when fathers
should be humble and listen….”
●●
WalterVeltroni on
i
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|
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NYCLife - Channel 25
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June-July 2014
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i-
Italyny
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9
Berlinguer’sreal
historical
importanceliesinhis
abilitytochangethe
ItalianCommunist
Partybymakingitmore
independentfrom
theSovietUnion. Iwas
someonewholoved
Americaandadmired
theKennedys.Apro-
Sovietcommunist
movementwouldn’t
haveworkedforme
1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,...60
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