The Nonviolent Revolution - an Intellectual Biography of Aldo Capitini
The aim of the author, Rocco Altieri, is to show that there is a coherent unity in all the areas in which Capitini (1899-1968) was active: nonviolent opposition to fascism, a critique of the Catholic Institution, an attempt straight after the Liberation in 1945 to set up centres of direct democracy, education, religious reform, to name a few.
The starting point for understanding Capitini is his refusal to accept the reality that the big fish has necessarily to eat the small fish. The reality of violence and death. No, he says. I refuse to accept that sort of reality. Reality is not immutable, we can change it here and now; we can transform, or transmute, it. Hence, his lifelong, unflagging activity amid the hostility of some and the indifference of many in an effort to bring about that revolution using the nonviolent method.
As his close friend, Norberto Bobbio, wrote:
In his language, becoming ‘centre’ meant opening up, radiating, not letting oneself be tempted to stay alone. He made himself centre. And he emphasised with his pregnant, allusive phrases that: ‘At the centre of activity are persons’. Long nights staying awake, full of projects for the morning after (the theme of the joy of the morning is often recurrent, too), were a preparation in order to live in the fraternal community of active friends more fully. In staying together and promoting other forms, other ways of staying together, he gave a beginning to the actuation of his grand design of the open society. He commanded respect but did not inspire awe. He was never gruff nor stern; let alone solemn. Indeed, he was cheerful, inclined to be good-humoured, and naturally indulgent towards others’ defects. Skimming through his pages you never come across imprecation or invective. When he disagrees, he discusses; when he condemns, it is the error he condemns not the person.