By Perry Anderson
New Left Review
The great Marxist intellectuals of the period—Adorno, Sartre, Lefebvre, Althusser, and so many others—developed their ideas in radical disconnexion from any close contact with popular politics. Italian Communism alone permitted, for a season, a classical circuit between original theory and organized practice, within the framework of a mass party. For a decade, Magri took the political opportunity it offered, before the pci dispensed with his loyalty. Did it ever realize what it lost in doing so? One day in Biella, when he was still a young cadre, after they had spent a night together working on a speech to be given by his superior, Enrico Berlinguer—before he became leader of the party—told him: ‘Magri, you have yet to learn that in politics one needs the courage of banality.’
Such was the self-awareness of officialdom, at its most lucid. Magri had another kind of political courage: the kind that Gramsci displayed, in notebooks that were never banal.
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