With a small essay “Basaglia, who was he”, Pier Aldo Rovatti launched his provocation. You can find the essay on these pages. In recent years it seems that Basaglia has completely disappeared, from the pages of newspapers, from specialist magazines, from university programmes, if he ever existed.
I don’t think that’s how things are. However, in these times those provocations can only alert us, stimulate our dormant critical thinking. Those provocations cannot fail to be accepted. In the café in the Forum square we talk about it with concern.
We feel the power of clichés that suffocate all critical knowledge. And from many quarters the desire for simplifications, divisions and separations seems to be returning forcefully. Basaglia’s thought has lost its hegemony, they will say. It’s not worth talking about. As if the winners were declaring the end of the cold war and the defeat of the “revolution”. Beautiful (and empty) words are used to talk about the end of mental hospitals, about the uniqueness of the law of our country. Now psychiatry is something else, times have changed, they will say.
And next year, one hundred years after his birth, there will be a lot of talk about Franco Basaglia and paradoxically it will be difficult to propose questions, actions, ruptures and conflicts about that story that now seem distant and unknown. Forgetfulness dominates our days, what happened yesterday we already end up not remembering today. But, speaking of Basaglia, what is striking is the superficiality, the trivialization of his presence and his work. A work that has changed the way we look at others and, if we think about it, we can no longer go back, we can no longer do without this gaze. The gaze that forces us to meet the other, who created a horizon of meaning, and words, and actions that supported the revolution. A “revolution of consciences” Basaglia wanted to point out every time someone talked about his revolution. Having put the disease in brackets, precisely through the ruthless criticism of the mental hospital as a place of exclusion, of denial of the other, the disease was revealed for what it was: concealment of man and his suffering, concealment of man and his historical dimension, concealment of man and his being a subject prevented from the social contract.
With the friends of the café in the square we want to try to challenge the current. We will try to propose texts that were a clear and rigorous reference for those who had to orient themselves on unknown routes. Texts that were out of time at the time, they anticipated. Today they continue to tell us about the future.
A conference by Franco Rotelli, held at the Che Guevara club in Trieste in 1983, just two years after Basaglia’s death, addresses with powerful scientific rigor and with awareness of the choice of field, the urgency he feels: to make the enormity comprehensible of the changes that are taking place in Trieste, certainly not the closure of the mental hospital. Not only.
While waiting for the centenary year, we propose the text: “The man and the thing”. It asks for twenty minutes of patience for careful reading and, we assure you, it is worth it.