Thursday, March 22, 2007

Nonviolence VS the Mafia, Danilo Dolci

Bio: Danilo Dolci went to northwestern Sicily in 1952 to work with the people there, people caught in desperate poverty. He has sought to educate the people to their own worth and to the effectiveness of concerted, non-violent action (including work strikes, public fasts and marches). Dolci and the people themselves have begun to erode the power of the Mafia.

The first selection was submitted by Dolci to the War Resisters’ International Triennial Conference. The second selection deals with the work of various
study centers in Sicily.


"The problem of our new revolution is to find how best to eliminate exploitation, murder, the investment of energy in weapons of destruction—how to pro-yoke chain reactions not of hate and death but of new constructiveness, of new quality of life.

It is easy to doubt the efficacy of non-violent revolution while it has yet to be proved, historically and systematically, that it can change structures. But in a world tired of murder, betrayal, point less death, there can be a more direct appeal to people’s con sciences when a movement for change is both robust and non violent."

"After fuller discussion, we decided on a day’s fast by 1,000 people, to be followed by a “strike in reverse”—working on a dilapidated country road. The people joined in with scarcely any fear at all, despite massive intervention by the police—because they knew they weren’t doing anybody any harm: and within a few days they had succeeded as never before in penetrating the public conscience with their protest and their own positive proposals.

With this profound capacity for awakening consciences, non violent action is also revolutionary in that it activates other forces that are revolutionary in different ways. And everyone who wants change makes the sort of revolution he can."

"Sometimes we may admire violent revolutionary forces not be cause they are the only possible ones, or the most suitable to the circumstances, but because where they are active they are often the only ones brave enough to exist at all. But anyone who thinks war the highest form of struggle, or the means of resolving conflicts, still has a very limited vision of man. Anyone with effective revolutionary experience knows—and has to admit—that to succeed in changing a situation he must have not only a material appeal hut a higher moral appeal; he knows that the appeal to truer principles, to a superior ethic, itself becomes an element of strength: and thus his action is revolutionary also insofar as it helps create new feelings, new abilities, new culture, new instincts—a new human nature."

"Which are more numerous—those who would gain by changes, or those who think they benefit from maintaining the status quo?

There are thousands of millions of people in the world at present excluded from progress. By interpreting and expressing the profound needs of these people, by helping them to take stock of their problems, by helping them to initiate enterprises of every kind, at every level, and to press effectively for changes, we can activate a positively revolutionary force."

"Many revolutionary movements, though good at arousing con sciences and effective in protest and pressure, suffer from weakness on their constructive front. But the demolition of old systems and the building of new organic groups should be simultaneous, co ordinated activities which potentiate each other: the growth of con vincing alternatives encourages attack on the old groups, while the loss of authority of the old structures facilitates development of the new.
I refer to the dam built on the Iato river: even though this “laboratory” is only a tiny part of the world, and still in its early stages, the sequence of events there provides a useful example.

A desperate population was dominated by the Mafia, strong through its political connections: there was no prospect of change. Together with the more enlightened people, we begin to seek possible remedies. The necessity and feasibility of building a large dam to irrigate the zone are established. Educational activity at the grass roots so that people understand what a dam is. Pressure, by a few at first, then growing ever wider and more continual, until the dam is started. The workers on the dam site form a trade union: jobs are no longer got through the Mafia, which loses prestige. Local mafiosi are publicly denounced; their relationship with the two powerful politicians from the area is likewise denounced; and two politicians are dropped from the Italian Government. Construction work is speeded up. Creation of the first (though still rudimentary) centers for promotion of a democratic irrigation syndicate to ensure non-Mafia water supply. Co-operatives are formed. In the neighboring Belice valley, pressure has begun for the construction of another, bigger dam; communal and intercommunal centers for organic planning are formed, and meanwhile another center is growing up at which people will learn the techniques of planned development with active involvement of the whole population."

"—disown violence, above all in an area where thousands of persons have been murdered, 520 by the Mafia alone, since the war, and where violence is the only accepted law. We look upon violence, in all its forms, as a temptation to be resisted, as a festering evil...."

"Little by little, as We have been able to experiment for ourselves and discuss our problems with our friends, we have come to
clearer idea of our aims. They are these we must:

Work assiduously and eschew violence for a new reality based on our sacrifice in lull awareness that it it sometimes becomes necessary to struggle to achieve our aims, our methods must he without reproach, since the end cannot be disassociated from the means, and in the knowledge that our every action has its inevitable consequences;
-work in conformity with the truth, while recognizing, at the same time, how difficult it can be to know what to do for the best;
—open our hearts to the highest moral values, wherever they may lie, so that the individual may have the opportunity of choosing his right road, so that the correct lessons may be learned from the most varied experiences;
—work in accordance with a plan of education and reform, which, while taking into account the complexity of life, shall bring into locus the objectives of the various groups of society and weld them into one harmonious, all-embracing order, so that, by bringing pressure to bear from within both on the quality and structure of society, one may seek to enhance the value of all men and all things.

The more perfect the methods, the more perfect the results; but nothing is perfect that has not the creation of life as its object."

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