Tribute to Mauro from the CWO (UK)

It is perhaps too early to write or say anything dispassionate about someone who was such an enormous presence but this message comes from the entire CWO for whom Mauro was, in the words Lenin used of Bukharin, “the favourite of our party”. This is not only due to his warm and engaging personality. From the very beginning Mauro was the initiator of contact between the CWO and the PCInt. and over the years it was principally through Mauro’s visits that those of us who don’t know Italian were able to realise the extent of our common political ground.

The CWO was founded in 1975 with the union of two groups, Revolutionary Perspectives and Workers Voice. A new platform, heavily influenced by the German Left, was produced and accepted in September that year. Within a few weeks the CWO was denounced by the newly-formed ICC as “an incomplete regroupment”. Shortly after that we received the copy of Prometeo which carried a critique of our platform written by a certain Mauro jr. None of us understood Italian so we resorted to translating it word by word using a dictionary. It was worth the painstaking effort since it revealed not only a thought-provoking critique which went to the heart of our then confusions on the party, but it was a critique made in a truly fraternal spirit which did not question our organisation’s right to exist. Battaglia’s lack of dogmatism which Franca noted in her beautiful tribute to Mauro was personified by Mauro when we first met him in 1977 (along with Marisa). This stimulated us to look again at the history of the German and Italian Lefts. Through the International Conferences (1977-80), initiated by Battaglia, Mauro worked to bring our two organisations together and the chief fruit of that work was the formation of the International Bureau for the Revolutionary Party in 1983. Once again the animator was Mauro who proposed the idea over lunch in the Sila Mountains of Calabria.

Above all of us, Mauro was the public face of the IBRP. Indefatigably keeping contact with everyone, learning how to use the internet when no one else knew what a computer was, and writing copiously to every organisation with whom we were in contact. But to reduce his contribution to this level fails to state how successful he was at getting people to work together and keep in touch with each other.

Mauro was someone who we say was “larger than life”. His enormous presence, infective generosity and optimistic outlook, all had something to do with the way he could energise a meeting, whether formal or informal. As we said at the AGA, he never lost sight of why we are communists - that the ultimate goal is a better life for all humanity. Indeed this was Mauro’s enduring characteristic. He was interested in everything and everybody. He never stopped being fascinated by anything new; he was ready to converse with anyone and recognised no hierarchy when talking to political comrades or anyone else. Marx’s motto, ‘Nothing human is alien to me’, could have been his.

Although he was the son of Luciano Stefanini (who wrote under the name ‘Mauro’ before passing it on to his son), Mauro hardly referred to this fact. He shared with Fabio the same self deprecating pride in the work of their fathers but did not dwell on what they have always called ‘archaeology’, much less imagine they had some automatic birthright to political kudos. For them, as for the organisation, a long and honourable history means nothing if it has no validity for the present and the future.

And it is to the future that we should now also look. Mauro’s death closes an epoch for us but he had great hopes for the future of our organisations and for the Bureau in the shape of the new and younger generation which he helped to prepare. Now our task is to build on the work to which he made such an invaluable contribution - we can pay him no greater homage.