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Saturday 19 June 2021

The window on the courtyard Carlo Tognoli, a life in the incessant yard of reformism

Carlo Tognoli, a life in the incessant yard of reformism

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In the perception of Italians, Carlo Tognoli is still today in contrast with the Milanese bauscia (arrogant and rude) of the stereotype regenerated by the "ugly Milanese".

That is, he appears as a good-natured, kind, sober, reserved and efficient exponent. Given, this, which made him popular. And today, at the news of his disappearance, regret.  

Real things. But for the Milanese community - even touching the relatively young - there is something more.

Something not scratched by so much water that has passed under the bridges and therefore by the substantial disappearance of the world of the "first Republic", from institutions and collective memory.

That is, Carlo Tognoli has also remained the interpreter of the city that grows by reconciling conflicts, hybridizations, inequalities. That middle class, once since the first post-war period to the discovery of organized politics, today perhaps more inclined to civicism, aware of the social and economic polarizations that a community that drives the national economy itself expresses and indeed sharpens. Thus acting on the administrative, cultural and urban planning levers to reduce distances.

In the twentieth century this was the social democratic vision, which since the end of the nineteenth century has opposed revolutionary radicalization intended as a great excuse for the reactionary drift of the bourgeoisie and the middle classes. Confirming the opinion at the time of the Livorno split in '800 and the sign "we will do as in RussiaWhich - as Filippo Turati warned - would have legitimized the fascist insurgency at the expense of democracy itself. How it was. To then re-tie many experiences in Europe - from Austria to Sweden - to make choices of concretely reforming gradualism. From labor policy to housing policy. Rules, rights, spaces, usability.

In a country founded on dualisms this vision has always had a hard life. For many it was better to frolic in the streets around the "we want it all" and then let the economy and the police go wild in a repressive sense. "So much the worse, so much the better”Have thought of both these fronts for generations.

But not the reformists, who have always thought of taking a step forward every day, mending and mending collective interests, seeking new access for the largest number of citizens: to education, health, assistance, decent housing, at work with its guarantees.

Milan was thus the long construction site of this experience. Abused by opposing ideologies, but also cultivated by a school of thought fed by generations of administrators who have given continuity to policies that must not stop to maintain efficiency. From Emilio Caldara (mayor from 1914 to 1920) to Carlo Tognoli (mayor from 1976 to 1986), with the furrow of fascism in the middle and then fading in various ways, in the almost forty years that followed, albeit with different gradations of quality and social capacity, on many other experiences to date.

In the ten years in charge of the city, Carlo Tognoli certainly worked for the community, but he never underestimated the opportunity offered to him by the events of those years to put the city itself in great harmony with national institutions: overlapping the seven years of Sandro Pertini with the Quirinale and the four years of Bettino Craxi at Palazzo Chigi. For many this triangulation would have produced complexities of delicate management. For Carlo Tognoli, in an inter-institutional vision that is more industrious than propaganda, this privileged and constant relationship has largely contributed to realigning Italy and its economic capital in a renewed challenge to the years of terrorism, fear and inflation, in a now recognized important synergy.

23 October 1979 The mayor of Milan Carlo Tognoli with the whole council is received at the Quirinale by the president Sandro Pertini
23 October 1979 The mayor of Milan Carlo Tognoli with the whole council is received at the Quirinale by the president Sandro Pertini

The disappearance of Carlo Tognoli on 5 March, due to the consequences of Covid-19 contracted in hospital following a rupture of the femur due to a trivial fall in the Navigli area, consequences on the respiratory system, on the motor limbs, on sight, which led to to a lethal prostration, it was much commented for the vivid memory of its good-natured efficiency. But not enough for its important belonging to that historical yard of ideas, administrative principles, dedications and the continuous pursuit of new connected objectives. When Carlo left active politics - after having been a national and European parliamentarian and twice the minister, in an unjustified and harmful cut for the Italian interest of an entire ruling class in the 90s - his attention went to resume all reverse this need for uninterrupted supply chains. That is, with the dedication to history. The history of the city and that of socialist reformism, especially Ambrosian, from the examples of Filippo Turati and Anna Kuliscioff (taking over the direction of the magazine for ten years Social criticism, founded precisely by Turati) to the elaboration largely inspired by the electoral centrality of the socialists in the management of Palazzo Marino of many mayors from the Liberation to today.

Books, exhibitions, conferences, analyzes, developed with an indefatigable application that had three main areas of interest at the center: culture as a public good; urban planning as a lever for social rebalancing, collective identity as an inclusive belonging without primacy.

I remembered in these hours in the farewell article that the magazine asked me World worker (founded over seventy years ago by Pietro Nenni) that Walter Marossi, publisher and friend of Tognoli, sees in one of his work experiences before devoting himself to politics or the experience as an antique print seller (the best known is, as a chemical expert , in a pharmaceutical company that produced cortisone), a stimulus to put cultural factors at the forefront of administrative programs in times when culture was not dominant in the industrial brand of Milan. He wrote with Giuseppe Di Leva Culture as therapy (L'Ornitorinco, 2010), actually being among the first to conceive that here was the main lever to interpret and then accompany the transformative passage of the city in a post-industrial sense. But, still today, there is not a single creative, productive or distributive sector of the cultural life of Milan that does not remember a concrete passage of its evolution in which Tognoli has not been alongside difficult choices, due to regulatory or resource limits. .

Tognoli Craxi-gianluca-comazzi

The approach to his memory as an administrator has always had a generational sign for Tognoli, very much influenced by town planning. Here, for example, is a fairly recent quote from him (from ArcipelagoMilano of 2 August 2010) in which this trait of the primary character of the city in transformation is combined with its responsible meticulousness: "The approval of the general variant of the PRG was in any case the most important political decision of the first year of life of the left majority: it was the baton that Aniasi passed to me after his resignation to run for the Chamber of Deputies. The urban planning tool was the one that could most influence the economic situation and the development of the city. That Plan was 'containment' in the forecast, which later turned out to be wrong, that the demographic expansion of previous years would continue. In reality, the decline in births, the reduction in migratory flows and the economic crisis began to decrease the Milanese population which in just over a decade fell by almost a quarter (from 1,7 million to 1,350) ”. His own experience - gained in Cormano even before that in Milan - remains one of the signs of a formation that was at the basis of a predisposition to keep in great evidence the relationship of the city with the belt of the surrounding small municipalities. A fabric of experience and analysis preparatory to a mature reflection on the destiny of the metropolitan city which in Milan remains a subject that has been held back for some time.

Finally, the knot of social identity, largely reconstructed around the stages of history. A history of Milan was written by Carlo Tognoli in four hands with Lodovico Festa (Milan and its destiny, Boroli editore, 2015) starting from the geographical and historical characteristics of Milan, to then dwell on the evolution in the conformation of the city, from a "castrum" to a medieval city, from the Sforza and Leonardesque city to the Teresian one, from the Second World War to the time of center-left and post-industrialism.  

And, inextricably, a history of the political thought best suited to governing this evolution made him passionate about writing. Together with Maurizio Punzo, professor of contemporary history at the University of Milan, he wrote Speaking of socialism not only with eyes on the past but as an unavoidable baggage for the formation of the collective democratic conscience in actuality.

The Corriere (Giangiacomo Schiavi) recalls today that Carlo Tognoli had repeatedly declared about this pandemic: "Milan always gets up".

At the end of this long painful curve, Carlo Tognoli will probably have been right. For those who will live and see it will be right to share this regeneration also with their memory.

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