In Memory of Mauro who has left us so soon

From Battaglia Comunista 6 June 2005

On 2nd May we lost Mauro Stefanini. He was killed by cancer, the illness of our miserable age. Right up to the end we hoped his vitality and will to live would enable him to win through, but it wasn’t to be. The disease won, even if it didn’t succeed in humiliating him as it came up against his insurmountable reserves of courage and dignity. For this reason, the last memory we have of him is not his sunny smile, his clear gaze, that incredibly youthful air and spirit of his which he had managed to preserve over time and which meant he was loved by all the comrades and everyone who had the good fortune to know him, but instead an appearance that signalled physical pain and suffering. He left in silence and wrapped simply in the old Party flag belonging to the section of Sesto San Giovanni - which had probably also seen him come into the world.

In fact Mauro was born - on 9th January 1948 - almost physically into the party given that his parents were forced into hiding because his mother, Maria Antonietta Falorni (Mariuccia) had been unjustly accused by the police and the Stalinist dogs alike of organising the murder of the Marquis Della Robbia. This local fascist feudalist and ex-deputy governor of Florence had been killed in the neighbourhood of San Polo in September 1946.

Mauro was the political alias of his father, Luciano, one of the founders of the Internationalist Communist Party and one of the most vigorous animators of our Fraction abroad after he went into exile following the nine years’ prison sentence inflicted on him by the fascist Special Tribunal. However, it would be a mistake to suppose that Maurino - as those who had seen him take his first steps in our original office in Milan affectionately called him, to distinguish him from his father - was brought to communism or our party out of respect for family tradition, as often happens with the children of artists who are obliged to follow their parents regardless of their own intentions or aspirations.

In reality he was above all a communist from his very being. It is as if ‘communist’ had already been written into his genes and meant that he could do nothing else but identify with the powerless, the exploited, and to make their cause his own in life.

His family background certainly assisted the course of his political development, but Mauro was fully and completely independent in the way he reached political maturity.

He began his collaboration with Battaglia Comunista when he was only 15 years old and only a few years later (1967), with Prometeo. From thenceforward this was never interrupted, nor his ceaseless work as a militant of the party. By the end of the Sixties we find him intensely involved in the first student movements in Milan’s state sector, in the attempt to get them to adopt a class perspective. His numerous critical writings on the student movement were the fruit of this experience, of its inter-class and petty bourgeois nature, and they still constitute an instrument of orientation for the party when it gets involved in the school sector.

In December 1970, at the IVth Congress of the party, he was elected to the Central Committee and from this to the Executive Committee. This was part of the assumption of responsibility by a new generation of comrades who theoretically and practically pulled together the insights of that extraordinary generation of revolutionary combatants who had understood the counter-revolutionary outcome of the Russian Revolution, who, in opposition to this and amongst unspeakable difficulties, had constructed our party. It was this effortless assumption of responsibility which Mauro assumed and put before everything else, just as a ‘professional revolutionary’ without, however, obtaining from this his own means of existence. His own livelihood was maintained by his work as a teacher and technical journalist specialising in the graphic arts. Thus, since the party is always struggling to find funds, he was also one of the most generous financial supporters.

There were few who were as ready to look at anything new in every area of human activity as he was. He was the first of us to acquaint himself with the new computer technology and to get hold of a Philips PC. Given the enormous amount of time he took to teach himself, often late into the night (in those days, MS Dos), we used to take the piss out of him. Franca, his partner, used to call the computer “Philippina”, the new love of his life. However he had the last laugh, and we were soon taking lessons from him on the basics of how to use those bloody machines without which we would have been unable to develop a great part of our political activity. Mauro used to love to give names to the things that surrounded him, and indeed, in contact with him they seemed to take on a human personality. Who can forget “Ugo”, the Ford Transit, which was the companion of so many of his trips and which perennially broke down?

If we limit ourselves to recollect only this aspect of his lively interest in the new technology, and in science, as well as every other human activity, we would prevent ourselves from recalling the rich personality of Mauro, and the depth of his theoretical contribution to the Party, and not just the Party. His knowledge of the new microelectronic technology, for example, was the premise for the development of a precise practical activity but above all was the necessary tool for critically observing phenomena, not only of interest to society as a whole, but to our class in particular. Without this background knowledge, and a solid grounding in historical materialism, it would have been difficult to understand the course of the violent process of restructuring of the cycles of production which we have seen in the last few decades, and the connected process of the formation and fragmentation of the working class. So, whilst the theoreticians of the so-called “autonomia operaia” were reading into the liquidation of the proletariat some possible unique revolutionary subject and ran around frenetically searching for it, identifying it from time to time in some or other social figure to end up with its present undifferentiated “multitudes”, our Party collectively, but based on Mauro’s contribution, grasped the drive towards a growing proletarianisation of society on a global scale and the ever more compelling need to think of the future revolutionary party as a body, which though taking into account specific circumstances is capable of elaborating tactics and a strategy valid on a world scale. Should the proletariat suffer yet another defeat this time it would indeed be a catastrophe for the whole of humanity.

It is not therefore only because Mauro spoke, and understood English and French perfectly, that he was the principal animator of our international work, establishing and maintaining contact all over the globe with whomsoever got in touch, single comrades, or political groups even if they only came to us to deepen their understanding of our political positions. It is in major part due to him, as the comrades of the CWO record in their tribute to his memory, that the practical work of theoretical and political elaboration, beginning with the Platform, led to the birth of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party.

Here the tyranny of space forces us to bring a halt to our critical examination of the theoretical contribution of Mauro but we expect to be able to collect and republish his most significant writings, and on that occasion, we’ll do them greater justice.

We are not capable, nor is it possible to make any stronger criticisms because there was no worse critic of him than he himself. Nor was there anyone better to appreciate the historic value of the experience of our party over the last thirty years. Though this is presently a small experience, Mauro’s role in its development has been of extraordinary importance.

Thanks Mauro, we will always be grateful to you, and at the same time accept the commitment to continue with the same passion and coherence the work of building that revolutionary party - without which the aspiration which we so strongly shared - of a world free from bourgeois domination and exploitation, would be destined to remain such.