On Friday 9 February the “Ethical Prize” was presented to honor the memory of Marco Pannella. Amb. Giulio Terzi, president of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law and a member of the Radical Party for many years was the recipient of the prize. The ceremony, organized by Plana Cultural Association chaired by Sergio Costa, took place at Palazzo Reale in Milan. The prize is meant to reward individuals, organizations and associations that advocate the protection of the planet and all human beings on the social, urban and cultural level.
In this regard, Marco Pannella who passed away on 19 May 2016 at the age of 86, embodied throughout his life values such as passion and tenacity in order to pursue a political and cultural progress of his country and that of its citizens. He did so through proposals and battles resorting to nonviolent means.
Below is the text of the speech by the President Giulio Terzi to the awarding of the Prize:
“I am moved to have been invited by the President of the Ethical Prize, Sergio Costa to receive this important tribute to the memory of Marco Pannella.
I believe that in commemorating Marco we should go beyond our admiration for him; the memory of life-long battles often considered lost even before starting out, but eventually successful in promoting and preserving the values of justice, equality and human dignity; he achieved his goals on the moral and civic level even before he was able to reform laws, behaviors, sensibilities of governments and of a common feeling.
The reason to be here today is, in truth, to acknowledge Marco’s legacy and the commitment which has been given to us in his special way, a way he himself described in a speech given at the Senate of the Republic when he opened a Convention on the Rule of Law and the Right to Know, in July 2015:
“The complexity of the present is the complexity that animates us. It is the presence of those who are no longer visible to our eyes, whom we actually owe so much of what we are, of our being good but also of our being not so good, of our being as we are.
With this in mind, I believe we can set about working together, with simplicity, because we owe what we may conceive and create to the voices, almost prevalent, of those who are phisically present and animate our lives and our ability to conceive, struggle and allow us to say that our present – what we see here today – also includes the non-visible form of presence of the departed, who are present through their legacies, through what they leave, through what have instilled in our hearts and minds in terms of creativity and ability to conceive the future.
I think it is appropriate to acknowledge this as a conscious connotation that we should try to honor by strengthening it, alongside our responsibility to cherish this presence and to treasure, each of us, the great legacies of which we are aware or not, the great legacies that constitute our ability and our ways of being alive”.
As President of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law “Marco Pannella”, together with Secretary General Matteo Angioli and the coordinator of the Scientific Council Laura Harth, I would like to express a very special thanks to the President of Ethics and the Evaluation Commission for the sensitivity shown with regard to the values that have guided Marco Pannella: an educational action – even before political – to affirm dignity and freedom. An intellectual and moral leadership that has marked a positive and irreversible hope for Italian and European society, and more.
Marco Pannella continues to be a giant in the political and intellectual life of our country. He continues to inspire people in Europe and in many other parts of the world. Passion was one of his main traits, drawing younger generationss attention for true liberal democracy and for the rule of law. For this reason, many influential personalities have joined the Global Committee.
The “battle of all battles”, the one for a universal transition to thedemocratic cfederalist secular rule of law, through the right to know, is increasingly taking shape thanks to the vision and urgency felt by Marco as a result of the facts related to the 2003 Iraq crisis and the removal of Saddam Hussein. It was the trigger of another constant motto: the “to know in order to decide”, as Einaudi put it. For Marco Pannella and for the Nonviolent Radical Party it has always been the guiding principle to achieve a full-fledged democracy, in a way that goes far beyond the – though essential – conditions of accountability and the representativeness of elected officials towards the public. The need to know must accompany and qualify every moment of our daily life, as much as the oxygen we breathe.
If Marco brought all this to the center of his campaigns at the beginning of the 2000s, and he fought for it openly – with his pounding “immediately” – there is no doubt that information, knowledge and awareness are steady ingredients on his path of consistency and integrity.
On 24 January at the headquarters of the Nonviolent Radical Party in Via di Torre Argentina in Rome, which is also the seat of the Global Committee for the Rule of Law, a press conference was held on the information system of Italy on the eve of our elections. For many years the Nonviolent Radical Party has denounced the serious opacity and the equally serious shortcomings of a system that Pannella never hesitated to describe as a ‘regime’.
In that press conference, covered only by Radio Radicale and by no other state media, we analyzed and documented once again the deceptive way, the omissions and manipulation of statistical by the offices who should be responsible for the enforcement of the ‘par condicio’ law – an obsolete law dating back to 2000, well before the digital revolution. Even thsse strong radical complaints were met with silence by the authorities in charge. We assist to yet another example of the blatant denial of the citizens’ right to know the many “why” of distorted information, just a few weeks before the elections.
Marco’s greatness lies in having taught us that we must never let a fundamental value for the individual and for the “open society” to fall into oblivion. The campaign for the right to know has certainly grown clearer in Marco’s head at the time of the invasion of Iraq. However, it has been – let’s keep it in mind – his constant concern, always. It can be easily shown by an interview of May 1976, during a dark period of Italian history that still casts its shadows on our democracy.
Interviewed by the magazine “La Prova Radicale” about violence and blackmail, Marco said:
“Many people understood instinctively that it was essential to break through the decades-long state of lawlessness, that it was necessary to open up the information monopoly. These are essential objectives and ‘duty bound’ for libertarians like us. The public understood it well, especially as they became aware of the complicity of the parties of the left, in particular complicity of the Communists with the Christian Democrats. The public know there is no choice: either we fight, even to the last consequences, or we become complicit in the regime. But there is another strongly-due goal for us: to break the censorship once and for all against our struggles which puts our own very political existence at risk. It is not a victimistic self-suggestion, on the contrary it is the rejection of that sort of complicity that often links the persecuted to the persecutors.
They have to gag us, otherwise they should talk about us too many times: abortion, drugs, homosexuality and sexuality, antimilitarism and so on; there is no crucial issue we do not deal with. They censor us because we represent a credible alternative to the regime; that’s why, as they have had to admit to us, we have “pierced the screen”, as Umberto Eco says.
Where did we find ourselves instead? While we were excluded and censored for more than a year, the PDUP was not. How comes that a party that has never fought to ‘open up’ the Rai-TV gets a gift like this? The answer is simple: the PDUP has shown up right after our campaigns, namely when it had become unsustainable to admit on tv only regime-friendly parties. So they admitted it. PDUP then behaved like PSIUP: they enjoyed their gift served on a silver plate. They did not even dream of earning some popularity by rejecting this corporate privilege which keeps the non-regime parties even more isolated. They grabbed gift and plate straightaway, without blinking an eye”.
Thank you Marco. Thanks for the consistency you fought with for a life for the right to know and for the right of all to live in a society where knowledge is real and widespread, and becomes a fundamental human right recognized and guaranteed.
I am honored and pleased that this award bears such a great importance for all of us.”
Watch the ceremony on the website of Radio Radicale (in Italian only)