Leading Italian Progressive Luciana Castellina On the Italian Left, the European Parliament and Bush’s Reelection

StoryNovember 24, 2004
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We are joined in our Rome studio by one of Italy’s leading progressive figures: Luciana Castellina who discusses forming the truly independent newspaper Il Manifesto, the significance of the European parliament and the global effect of Bush’s reelection. [includes rush transcript]

To wrap up today’s transatlantic broadcast from Rome, we are joined by one of Italy’s leading progressive figures: Luciana Castellina.

A well-known public intellectual in Italy, Luciana Castellina has been a leading voice for change since the 1970s. After leaving the leadership of the Communist Youth, Castellina co-founded the political organization and daily newspaper, “Il Manifesto.” She has been elected to the Italian and European parliaments several times and is active in Italy’s Environmental League and in the International Network for Cultural Diversity. In the European Parliament, she presided over the Committee on Culture and Media, and the Committee for International Economic Relations. As president of Italia Cinema, she promoted Italian films abroad. Castellina has directed political reviews and published numerous books and articles on social and economic issues. She is now president of the No-War-TV co-operative.

  • Luciana Castellina

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: And we welcome Luciana Castellina to Democracy Now! It’s wonderful to be here.


AMY GOODMAN: Well, why don’t we start off with Il Manifesto. In fact, we landed in Rome, Italy today, and we headed right off to Il Manifesto’s offices to do an interview. Can you talk about the significance of this newspaper in the current media landscape here in Italy?

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: Yes, well, you know, Il Manifesto has a long story by now. When we started, we thought it would go on for a couple of years, and instead, after 30 or more years—

AMY GOODMAN: 1979, you began?

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: No, we began in '71. We are still here. It was the first independent, real independent newspaper, which means that we started with really very, very little money, and then, in other countries in Europe where they follow our example is Liberation in France and Tageszeitung in Germany which had more or less the same model and came to us how to learn how to make a newspaper with really very little money. Today we are a small daily, but a left wing paper. We, but — who's not related to any political party, specific political party. This is the reason why it’s considered more independent than any other newspaper, and, of course, the readers are mainly intellectuals but it’s very important daily for the tribunes, and so I would say half and half, tribunes, young people of the movements and intellectuals.

AMY GOODMAN: And what is No-War-TV?

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: Well, No-War-TV was an attempt, which we have made, which is now having some trouble, and we — to make a TV. A TV — we started during the war of Iraq. When the war started, we started our programs, and a couple of hours every day. And we tried desperately to go through satellite to the local TVs, which would able to — were able and willing to pick up our program. And, well, now we are reorganizing everything. It’s very difficult to make an independent view as you well know, and it’s [unintelligible] an American model, and it’s a very good one. We will try again. At the moment, we are, let’s say.

AMY GOODMAN: You have been elected both to the Italian Parliament as well as to the European Parliament. For people in the United States, they have very little understanding, I think. We, as a result of the corporate media’s, oddly enough, isolationism, we don’t really learn a lot about outside of the United States. What is the European Parliament?

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: Well, the European Parliament, we have a community which the European Community, let’s call it, Union, European Union, which brings together — historically, they were at the beginning only six countries, and they became 12, and they became 15, and a few months ago they became 25 because a number of countries in Eastern Europe joined the Union. It is a process towards a federal country, like the United States. I mean, let’s say that the goal would be to become a real federation with states which have the same autonomy as the states in United States. But of course in Europe it is much more difficult, because each state in Europe has its own very specific history, culture, language, and they have been separated for too many centuries, and they have a very strong identity to them. So, let’s say that that goal of the federation is still far away. The Parliament is. In any case, it exists in some 25 years now? The first directly elected Parliament was in '79, so it's now 25 years.

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see it ever gaining the strength of the United States? We’ve just come from Madrid and I’ve been speaking with a lot of journalists in independent and commercial media.


AMY GOODMAN: And one of the things they’ve said is there wasn’t a tremendous awareness of all of the internal politics in the United States for years. But now the sense of U.S.’s empire has gotten everyone in Europe deeply involved in the politics of the United States, as the U.S. reaches further out, and engages in war in places like Iraq. Do you see Europe as—

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: Well, this is the point, you see. The way this, the European federation is built, we don’t like it. We don’t like it because, of course, I mean, most of the government in Europe at the moment are very right wing, and Berlusconi in Italy, I don’t need to mention him, but, so we would be very doubtful about Europe, but in the same time, we say only a united Europe can perhaps try to impose, to reduce the total unilateralism of the United States. So our position is—you see, I mean, when I say “our,” I mean the peace movement at large and the left at large — so we don’t like the present constitution of this European Union which we will have to vote in the next months. But at the same time, we are totally aware that we need a larger unity in Europe, because otherwise, we will only have the United States, which will be able to say, to tell the world what to do with no possible counterpart.

AMY GOODMAN: Luciana Castellina, what is your reaction to President Bush’s victory in the United States?

LUCIANA CASTELLINA: Well, shall I tell that you that I didn’t have great illusions that Kerry may win. I had been quite a lot in and out the United States in the last couple years, and although, of course, we were all hoping, you know, that, not because Kerry was really our hero, but, you know, anybody, “anyone but Bush” was a great slogan. But I was not surprised, because I think, I mean I read something that Norman Mailer said, and I think he was perfectly right when he said that the problem was not Bush, but there is a problem with America. And America, there is something in American history which is deeply rooted in American society, which is the idea that America is the new Jerusalem, the new model of everything, of democracy, of the best possible democracy in the world. And this was correct because America was born out of the revolution and was a great hope, the notion with the very reactionary and aristocratic Europe at the time, but if you add to this a sense of mission, which is deep into the culture of America, and you put it together with the great, enormous economical and military strength, and with the geographical and cultural isolation of America, well, then you really see, I’m afraid —- you know what the best, the worst picture, impression I had of the Iraqi war? It’s not so much the Iraqi killed, of course, them, too, but the face of the young American soldier with a gun in a conflict of which he doesn’t know anything. He has no idea what it is, what happens in this region, and so on. And this is terrible. Should they vote Bush? Why not? I mean -—

AMY GOODMAN: On that note I want to thank you very much for being with us. I’m so sorry this hour has come to an end. Luciana Castellina, thank you for joining us. We hope to talk you to again in the future.


AMY GOODMAN: We hope to talk to you again in the future. That wraps up Democracy Now!'s special coverage from Spain and Italy. We continue the European Exception to the Rulers tour tonight in Rome where we'll be celebrating the Independent Media Center and other independent media outlets here in the Italian capital.

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