[OPE-L:6174] Re: Lucio Colletti: 1924-2001

From: glevy@pratt.edu
Date: Sun Nov 11 2001 - 14:29:58 EST

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: bellofio@cisi.unito.it
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2001 18:22:15 WET
Subject: Re: [OPE-L:6170] Lucio Colletti: 1924-2001

No, the obituary is not very good, and it is sometimes very imprecise.

E.g., he didn't died of heart attack but of a congestion after a bath in a
swimming pool. Or: he became a fan of Bettino Craxi's Socialist Party
before, in 1976. I cannot check now, but I think  that all the academic
places etc are wrong, I guess they confused him with Galvano Della Volpe
(if I remember well, Colletti thought in Salerno, and came officially to
Rome University much later).

On a more theoretical side: I don't think that anybody actually rereading
his interview with Perry Andreson, even if disagreeing, would say that he
there "abjured" Marxism. What's intriguing is that unlike so many who were
Marxists, and at a lower intellectual level, he actually did NOTHING
worthwile after his break with Marx. What he wrote after as simply
repeating what he has said before, with different, anti-Marxian accents.

Generally, I think that Colletti was a true giant of Marxism, one who
actually had a first rate and close and at the time unrivalled knowledge
(in original) of Marx, but also of Kant and Hegel (unlike Althusser, one
must confess, and the same Althusser confessed) - he would be in my top 5.
That his reading of Marx's is among the best, almost on a par with Rubin's
(again, unlike Althusser's, who once suggested to start reading Capital
after all the initial parts on money and value! and the harsh comments of
Colletti on Althusser in the Interview are from this point of view
completely deserved).

What complicates the issue is Hegel, and the fact that the same Colletti
loved to see himself as a coherent kind of positivist for all his life.
It's true that Colletti was ferociously anti-Hegelian. But it's also true
that after 1968 (his paper on Bernstein, with a luminous rereading of value
theory) and until 1973-4 he was trying to reconcile the presence of Hegel
and the contradiction with a positive judgement on Marx's scientific

By the way, I heard him in a University meeting in Turin after the 1974
interview, and he was still criticizing the Communist Party from the left.
And I know for sure that he send some young pupils of him in the early 70s
to continue there studies in Germany with Backhaus and with Reichelt, not
exactly two anti-Hegelians.

What I suggest is simply to re-read (knowing that here and there there are
the usual translator's error) the following:

- the section on value theory in the paper on Bernstein, which you find in
>From Rousseau to Lenin (excerpts in Jesse Schwartz's book The Subtle
Anatomy of Capitalism: but the whole paper is a masterpiece)

- the last two chapters in Marxism and Hegel (reading very carefully the
last pages of the book)

- the paper on the Theory of the Crash published in Telos.

- may be also the Introduction to Marx's Early Writings, which was after
1974 interview and just before his break with Marxism, and for this reason
never appeared in Italian.

Personally, I count Colletti as a big influence on me, and just to
conclude: I'm not yet ready to become a Berlusconi supporter.


On Sat, 10 Nov 2001 23:52:42 GMT glevy@pratt.edu wrote:

> Lucio Colletti, an intellectual influence on a number of listmembers,
> died on November 3. The following is an obituary from _The Guardian_.
> Do you agree with the accessment of J.F. Lane?
> In solidarity, Jerry
>	    ------------------------------------------------
> The Guardian (UK)
> November 8, 2001
> Lucio Colletti
> by John Francis Lane
> Lucio Colletti, who has died of a heart attack aged 76, was a much-loved
> philosophy professor at Italian universities who dedicated most of his
> life
> to studying and teaching Karl Marx - and ended his days as a
> parliamentary
> deputy for the party of premier Silvio Berlusconi, Italy's richest
> capitalist. Yet in spite of those contradictions, Colletti will be
> remembered
> as someone who tried to come to terms with the failure of the communism
> for
> which, like so many of his generation, he had held high hopes when
> fascism
> was engulfing Europe. As a young man eager to study philosophy, he had to

> wait till the fall of fascism in 1945 before he could enrol at Rome
> University. He first taught at the University of Messina, but in the
> early
> 1950s was awarded a philosophy chair at Rome. He joined the Communist
> party
> of Italy (PCI) but was already an irascible comrade, particularly after
> the
> 1956 Soviet party congress, when Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin.
> After
> the suppression of the Hungarian revolution that year he was one of the
> 101
> PCI intellectuals who published a manifesto denouncing the party's
> failure to
> distance itself from the Soviet Union. The PCI's founder philosopher was
> Antonio Gramsci, but Colletti preferred another Marxist thinker, Galvano
> Della Volpe. One of the most conspicuous victims of the 1960s radical
> wave at
> Rome University, he had no sympathy for the 1968 movement. In 1974 he
> abjured
> Marxism, expressing his views in an interview with Perry Anderson
> published
> first in the New Left Review and later expanded in Italian as a pamphlet.

> He
> became an outsider on the Italian left just when the PCI, under Enrico
> Berlinguer, was winning more electoral backing. After publication of his
> Twilight Of Ideology (1980), Colletti decided that the moderate socialism

> within a market society proposed by Bettino Craxi, the new secretary of
> the
> Socialist party (PSI), might be the solution he hoped for. After Soviet
> Communism's collapse and the debacle of Craxi's brand of socialism,
> Colletti
> was ready to support the first to come along with an attractive proposal
> for a
> renewal of Italian society, but many were surprised that he should have
> felt
> attracted to Berlusconi, who puts private interests before public
> service.
> Colletti ran in a safe seat at the 1996 elections, which Berlusconi lost.

> He
> was re-elected this year and though he has often been critical of
> Berlusconi's
> actions - such as the way the G8 affair in Genoa was conducted - he
> remained a
> loyal supporter to whom Berlusconi paid tribute after his death, praising

> "his
> courage in rejecting communism". He is survived by his second wife,
> Fauzia,
> and their daughter Giulia, and a daughter by his first marriage.  Lucio
> Colletti, academic, born December 8 1924; died November 3 2001 --
> ************

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