ROSSANA ROSSANDA is one of the keenest and most turbulent minds womanhood has contributed to international Communism since the death of Rosa Luxemburg. A long-time militant of the Italian party (PCI), she was appointed in 1963 head of the Cultural Division: not a slight achievement in a political organization that has never suffered from want of able and ambitious male intellectuals. In 1965, however, Rossanda dared to attack in Rinascita, the official weekly of the party, the policy in cultural affairs imposed for twenty years by the late Togliatti. 1 As a consequence of this outburst, she lost her job. For a few years, Rossanda disappeared from the limelight. Then, in February 1969, she staged a comeback that could not have been more resounding.
The Twelfth Congress of the PCI was drawing to an end in the huge and crowded stadium at Bologna. The motion of the Political Committee, a long document epitomizing the middle-of-the-road line charted by old Luigi Longo, had just been read and everybody expected the chairman Giorgio Napolitano to put it to the vote. Instead, he announced that an amendment had been proposed by comrade Rossanda. “Does comrade Rossanda”—asked Napolitano, a softspoken right-winger, in his suavest tone— “insist on her amendment?” The hint was clear enough and for a moment all the delegates and guests held their breath. Then we saw golden locks move down the aisle toward the tribune: and there, grasping the microphone, her face strained, Rossanda started in a little, broken voice: “Not out of stubbornness, dear comrades, but out of a deep-seated conviction, I’ve come here. . . .” For the first time in 40 years the voice of an internal opposition that dared to so define itself had been heard at a meeting of Italian Communists.