In addition to being a young ship captain, Carola Rackete comes from a wealthy German family, is white, has been able to study what she liked (nautical sciences), has completed a PhD in Great Britain and speaks several languages, and last, but not least, she wears dreadlocks, a hallmark of an anti-authoritarian humanism. Before piloting the Sea-Watch 3, she has navigated both poles of the earth and has also been vice-captain of a Greenpeace ship. In an interview published after her arrest in Lampedusa for having saved human lives from a sure death, to the question of whether she felt German and how, she replied that more than German she felt European.
In this interview we can find all the answers we need to improve and increase the European project in a key radically linked to social and environmental rights, and at the same time we have the opportunity to rediscover the ideas that almost 80 years ago, from the small Italian island-prison of Ventotene, took the flight to Europe, which had just come out of an obscenely tragic world war.
The Italian anti-fascists who wrote the Ventotene Manifesto (original title: For a free and united Europe) were held on an arid island, almost without water and trees, constantly whipped by the winds. An inhospitable place, but it had and has a beautiful sea. A sea that Mussolini used to isolate anti-fascist political prisoners from the world in the same way that Europe now tries to make the same sea an insurmountable obstacle to interpose water between it and the poor worlds as an element of distance and barrier.
Even so, in 1941, precisely on that island, an idea of federal and solidarity Europe was born, based on political unity, peace, the welfare state and democracy, and we believe that in this historical interregnum, out of the Lampedusa Sea (another lost island in the middle of the Mediterranean) a new Europe of equality and fraternity can be reborn and consolidated. Captain Carola, with her concise answers, has managed to synthesize what it means to be Europeanists today. Not a rhetorical Europeanism, finalized only in the institutional architecture (very important, of course), but also a militant Europeanism that raises a supranational common democratic demos, of changing identities, never fixed, and at the same time fighting for social and civil rights of all the people (natives and migrants) who live in Europe (and not only).
In fact, water can become something that accompanies, transports ideas and people, mixing them. Eighty years ago there were two women: Ursula Hirschmann, another German woman, anti-Nazi, Jewish, and Ada Rossi, an Italian anti-fascist militant, who, through the same Mediterranean waters, managed to take secretly from the island of Ventotene to the mainland the Manifesto of the foundation of modern Europe which had to commit to the construction of the United States of Europe. Today, another woman has used the water to bring the new citizens and the new European citizens who will save Europe to the mainland, enriching the European demos (bi-univocally, I mean) in need, undoubtedly, of a rejuvenation.
In 1975, Ursula Hirschmann and Jacqueline de Groote, among the founders of Femmes pour l’Europe, wrote worried: “Women are affected as much as men by the choice that will be made in our part of the world between the return to nationalism and the European unity In fact, only a truly united Europe, endowed with strong and democratic institutions, could prevent, at the present juncture, the submission of our countries to one or another superpower and guarantee the development of social progress within our countries. Even so, European construction seems, for the moment, to be in a stalemate. One could even talk about regressions due to pressure from the most reactionary social and political groups.
Here we renew their concern. Europe or barbarism.