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The Nonviolent Method

A chapter from the English translation of The Nonviolent Revolution- An intellectual Biography of Aldo Capitini
17 febbraio 2009 - Gerry Blaylock

cover of "The Nonviolent Revolution"

            ‘What can we do? The answer is: do not become isolated, do not try to face and solve essential issues alone. Alone we can only solve questions of hygiene, personal health and, perhaps, of very mean well-being. For the supreme question which is "power", that is, the capacity to transform society and realise everyone's permanent control, an individual should not remain alone but look for others untiringly, and together with them create means of information, control, intervention. This can only happen with the nonviolent method, which is openness, dialogue and exerting influence on society around you for the progressive substitution of instruments of education and coercion - without destroying adversaries.'

            With the fall of fascism and the end of the war, Capitini shifts the meaning of nonviolence from a negative dimension, inherent in a refusal of violence and the practice of non-cooperation, to a positive and constructive one, associating nonviolence to the realisation of direct democracy:

            ‘Lately [...] nonviolence has started being written as one word only, weakening the negative meaning that existed when writing non separated from violence, so that somebody might ask: "fine, we'll take away the violence, is that all?" If it is written in a single word, it prepares the interpretation of nonviolence as something organic and therefore positive, as we will see. Another progress lies in the by now frequent use of consolidating the word nonviolence in the expression nonviolent method.'  

            This idea of method is an important acquisition, because it signals the passage from a metaphysical or exclusively normative vision of peace to a scientific approach to the fundamental issues of politics, which are the exercise of power and conflict management. The method, as Arne Naess  points out, is more than a group of techniques. A technique, in fact, has a purely instrumental characteristic with an aim in view and it is confined to tactics. The method, however, has its own deep paradigmatic structure, interwoven with foundational norms and experimental hypotheses.

            Gandhi, operating in politics, submitted himself as experimenter - indeed his autobiography is entitled ‘An Autobiography or The Story of My Experiments with Truth.' Accepting the experimental method, proceeding by trial and error and correcting the errors, Gandhi's Satyagraha offered itself as the method of a new science which investigates the nonviolent dynamics of social change, aiming at the elimination of structural violence present in our society.

            Through his reading of the most up-to-date studies made by Americans like Richard B. Gregg, Joan V. Bondurant and Gene Sharp, Capitini deepens his own consideration of Gandhi's method as operating principle in a nonviolent solution to conflict.

            ‘In her book Conquest of violence, one of the most acute scholars of Gandhi, the American, Joan V. Bondurant, wrote that the method of nonviolent struggle created by Gandhi (Satyagraha) "is basically an ethic-principle, the essence of which is a social technique of action... The introduction of satyagraha into any system would necessarily effect modifications of that system. It could alter the customary exercise of power and bring about a redistribution and resettling of authority. Satyagraha would guarantee the adaptation of the system to citizens' demands and would serve as an instrument of social change." '

            Gandhi's method takes the name of Satyagraha, a neologism coined during the 1906 campaign in South Africa to substitute the expression passive resistance, in which at bottom there is always present an idea of harassing the other party and, thus, is not sufficient to indicate the potentiality of the new movement's creative love. Writing in his paper ‘Indian Opinion', Gandhi explains the meaning of the new term:

                        ‘Truth (Satya) implies love, and firmness (Agraha) engenders and therefore serves as a synonym for force. I thus began to call the Indian movement "Satyagraha", that is to say, the Force which is born of Truth and Love, or non-violence, and gave up the use of the phrase "passive resistance".'    Later on Gandhi explains that in Sanskrit:

            ‘The word Satya (Truth) is derived from Sat, which means being. And nothing is or exists in reality except Truth. That is why "Sat", or Truth, is perhaps the most important name of God. In fact, it is more correct to say that Truth is God, than to say that God is Truth.'

            This distinction is fundamental, for it indicates an image of God no longer understood in a transcendental manner, but rather as cosmic unity of the universe together with all living things. Capitini notes:

            ‘Pointing out that he prefers to say "Truth is God", he thus includes everybody, even the atheist; rather than saying "God is Truth", which would exclude those who do not believe in God yet follow Truth - that is, doing good.'

            Truth should not be conceived as a metaphysical absolute, a dogma to impose on reality, fomenting the pride and imperviousness of those who consider themselves its depository. One has always to be willing to confront one's ‘own point of view' with another's, always ready to own up to and correct your mistakes, even to recognising that truth which your opponent carries within. For Gandhi, as for the Greek philosopher Protagoras, man must be placed at the centre of every supreme consideration, measure of all things and criterion of truth. But since man is a limited being, he can and must incline to truth, but can never possess it totally. Vinoba states:

            ‘The characteristic of human life is to search after truth. We can only get at one part of truth at a time. It is not possible to come upon the whole of the truth all at once. This truth is realized through humility, detachment and non-insistence.'

            ‘I am but a seeker after Truth', confesses Gandhi. ‘I claim to have found the way to it. I claim to be making a ceaseless effort to find it. But I admit that I have not yet found it. To find Truth completely is to realise oneself and one's destiny, that is, to become perfect. I am painfully conscious of my imperfections, and therein lies all the strength I possess, because it is a rare thing for a man to know his own limitation.'

            Both in Gandhi and Capitini the emphasis is placed, therefore, on the efforts of the seeker, truth being understood not as conviction a priori, possessed once and for all, but a posteriori knowledge which emerges through relationships. Since man cannot possess absolute truth, an individual's truth is always a relative truth, where relative connotes the exiguousness of the individual and the relational value of knowledge: facing each other, being with the other, being for the other. Thus, you cannot search for truth by secluding yourself in a library or retiring to a cave, for he who is not part of the community cannot really know.

            According to Joan Bondurant, Satyagraha's level of truth is furnished by social criteria, that is to say, by relating to fundamental human needs. Indeed, truth can only be sought in social and political practice, above all in service and care for the last.

            ‘This call for the supremacy of direct practice, common to all those who see the world as something to be changed, takes on a special value for the nonviolent method, because therein means and ends coincide.'

            The inseparable combination of truth and love is the decisive point in the relation between ends and means:

            ‘Without ahimsa - Gandhi writes - it is not possible to seek and find truth. Ahimsa and Truth are so intertwined that it is practically impossible to distinguish and separate them. They are like two sides of a coin, or rather a smooth unstamped metallic disc. Who can say which is the obverse or which is the reverse? Nevertheless, ahimsa is the means; Truth is the end. Means to be means must always be within our reach, and so ahimsa is our supreme duty. If we take care of the means, we are bound to reach the end sooner or later. When once we have grasped this point, final victory is beyond question.'

            Affirming that in seeking the truth the way of ahimsa (Sanskrit term which has been translated as nonviolence) cannot be ignored, Gandhi avoids the trap of ethical relativism. Joan Bondurant notes:

            ‘If there is a dogma in the Gandhian philosophy it centres here: that the only test of truth is action based on the refusal to do harm. Gandhi accepted as his fellow "seekers after truth" persons who espoused various, or no, religions, those who held vastly differing views as to the proper social structuring or constructive programming in a non-violent society. He admitted of error and indecision at many stages of his applied experiment. But the one principle to which he adhered to the end was this theme of ahimsa - the supreme and only means to the discovery of social truths.'

            The final test of truth can be given us only by strict adhesion to ahimsa, basing our action on a refusal to do any harm, or, better, on the force of love. But since in social dynamics our personal desire to do no harm can come up against the resolute violence of the adversary, who could even reach the point of killing, nonviolence requires that we take upon ourselves the suffering of the conflict with the aim of breaking the chain of violence. Hence training for Satyagraha must pave the way for courage, not being afraid of death. Accepting suffering even to the point of sacrificing your own life is in fact the ultimate test of the sincerity of your own position.

            ‘In the application of satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages that pursuit of truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one's opponent but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to the one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of truth, non by infliction of suffering on the opponent, but on one's self.'

            Ahimsa, as Vinoba states, ‘does not consist in cravenly sitting at home to avoid battle. One must go where the battle is raging and declare, "I am ready to be killed, but I will not kill." '


            Means and ends are regularly separated in the logic of politics, but they must be reconciled in the area of constructive conflict resolution. According to the nonviolent method means and ends are interchangeable. This is the decisive point in nonviolent epistemology. Those who uphold violence or the end that justifies the means are speechless when the means do not have the desired effect. In direct action, in fact, people have control only over the means not the ends, which belong to an aleatory, indefinite future; ‘means are after all everything', states Gandhi, while the ends can remain unrealised projections of the mind. Richard Gregg writes:

            ‘Means give us immense hope, for the means are here and now and subject to our choice and placed within our power and control. The only way to improve the future is to improve the present by using a sound method, and keep on applying that method day after day. If we choose a fine means and persist in it, we can be certain of reaching fine ends.'

            Thus the great mistake of all those advocates of revolutions over the last two centuries is to have neglected the close rapport that exists between means and ends, in such a way that those revolutions, which came about to realise liberty and justice, changed into new despotisms. Observing the dynamics of revolutions, Max Weber sees the profound sense of every authentic religious aspiration in disgust for violence:

            ‘The altogether universal experience that violence breeds violence, that social or economic power interests may combine with idealistic reforms and even with revolutionary movements, and that the employment of violence against some particular injustice produces as its ultimate result the victory, not of the greater justice, but of the greater power or cleverness, did not remain concealed, at least not from the intellectuals who lacked political interests. This recognition continued to evoke the most radical demands for the ethic of brotherly love, i.e. that evil should not be resisted by force, an injunction that is common to Buddhism and the preaching of Jesus.'

            Weber uses this analogy to explain the anti-political rejection of the world on the part of religious movements with an eschatological basis. But the nonviolent person, as Giuliano Pontara writes,

            ‘refuses violence without, for this reason, drawing back from politics; with his activity he belies the definition of politics as the exclusive reign of the fox and the lion. Since he is not unprepared he knows full well, and is capable of unmasking, the foxes' deceit - he is a fox that does not resort to deceit, but can be astute; and he faces violent lions with a very firm opposition - he is a lion that does not resort to violence, but can oppose great strength. It is not by chance that Gandhi was called the Machiavelli of nonviolence.'


            In taking up Gandhi's method, Capitini emphasizes the central importance of conflict. Conflict is not to be avoided or concealed, but is to be stirred up far and wide in order to change unjust situations. Capitini fully accepts the aspect of relationship in conflicts as stated by the sociologist Georg Simmel. Conflict offers the opportunity of recognising the other, together starting off a process of knowledge, purification and freedom for everyone. Conflict is preferable to indifference since in any case it indicates a link between the parties and a challenge to reconstruct the lost unity of humanity. Taking up the nonviolent method, enemies become friends just as host (meaning both ‘host' and ‘guest') and host (archaic form indicating an army, extended to mean enemy army) come from a common Latin root and the enemy or foreigner becomes a sacred guest. Conflict was the bridge which brought them together. Johan Galtung writes:

            ‘Instead of seeing the conflict as a signal to initiate hostile action, it should be seen as an invitation to cooperation in creating, together, wholesome relationships and wholesome growth.'

            Capitini places at the basis of the nonviolent method the act of openness to the thou, turning with your soul and your actions towards every individual in such as way as to interiorise them and feel them close, as oneself. Openness to the other has been a deeply-felt subject in contemporary philosophy. But here, with respect to Martin Buber's I-Thou, Capitini's principle of dialogue has a strong social connotation, it does not stop at the single thou, but wants everyone's liberation according to a highly evocative image which identifies in tu (you, thou) the root of tutti (you-all, all, everyone) : it is a ‘tu' not of choice or preference but a ‘tu-tutti'.

            Saying ‘thou' involves being able to put yourself in another's place. Communication is only possible by identifying yourself with the other's reasons, taking on the other's role, interiorising what George Mead calls the generalized other:

            ‘The principle which I have suggested as basic to human social organisation is that of communication involving participation in the other. This requires the appearance of the other in the self, the identification of the other with the self, the reaching of self-consciousness through the other.'

            Acting in a communicative way in conflict allows the parties to cooperate in the founding of new social structures, open to a higher level of universality.

            ‘Hence,' states Galtung ‘their task is not to destroy each other, but to explore each other's views together in order together to be better able to transcend the conflict and create a new system.'

            In a nonviolent solution, conflicts can become nonzero-sum games, rather than zero-sum (or more correctly, constant-sum), for without destroying each other, following the strategy of problem-solving, in the end everyone wins. Capitini expresses this awareness in his reformulation of Hegel's dialectic, which proceeds, in compresence, without negations or violent eliminations, but with a progressive, redeeming growth of the reality of all.

            Thus, the proposal of a constructive programme always goes together with non-cooperation according to the nonviolent method. Non-cooperation is directed towards violent structures, while dialogue must always take place with other people, wanting to free them, through persuasion and loving kindness, from their wrongs, of which they are victims. According to communicative action, techniques of struggle such as strikes, boycott, protest demonstrations, though carried out without the use of violence, are never to be considered simply instrumental or coercive, because the other can never be considered an object or a means, but always as an autonomous subject with whom we can converge towards a common goal, an interface:

            ‘A nonviolent person is one who establishes dialogue as mutual collaboration whereby each person participates freely in the search, with alternate attempts, as Guido Calogero said, to understand and be understood, to interpret and communicate.'

            Non-cooperation does not exclude the possibility of a rapport based on friendship, for it makes a distinction between antagonism and the antagonist, wrong and the wrongdoer, and sees the wrongs that lie in the structure, not in people.

            ‘That is, non-cooperation is not total, it does not exclude the thou, the other, unity with everyone, the tu-tutti; [...] realised in this way, it comes to be a sort of earnest request to the other that he might become aware of what he is doing, something we consider unacceptable. In a certain sense it can be said that it is a collaborative non-cooperation inasmuch as - sometimes at a high price - it offers the opponent a contribution which can  be a warning to him and even persuade him...'

            ‘We feel united, despite our differences over a particular matter, because we maintain that in the person there is something more, a capacity for development, for overcoming the very wrong that he is doing, and anyway, whatever he might do he is always a being in the reality of all. Deep down nonviolence refuses to enclose a person in their present action, as in a sort of straitjacket which immobilises him forever. Unity with everyone has infinite value and thus should be kept in mind when considering every individual action.'

            The nonviolent method neither provokes nor humiliates the opponent, nor does it take advantage of their weaknesses. It develops gradually, searching for an agreement long before generating an escalation which may lead to the toughest forms of civil disobedience. Compatibly with the defence of fundamental values it tries at all costs to reach a compromise which is acceptable for the opponent. It does not judge arrogantly but tries to understand. If a correct diagnosis and suitable therapy are to be provided, then the basic reasons for conflict are to be analysed. The opponent's reasons need to be understood and, at the same time, one's own intentions must be made clear, opting for transparency, refusing secrecy, showing that you trust and placing trust in your opponent.

            In order to act efficaciously, before taking any steps you need to understand the situation well. Choosing to oppose wrongs and not the wrongdoers is not only tied to a religious or sentimental view of reality, but is the fruit of a scientific, not idealistic, approach to the study of contemporary reality. The nonviolent method fully accepts that proposal of objectivity and value-freedom (wertfreiheit) formulated so clearly by Weber: ‘The type of social science in which we are interested is an empirical science of concrete reality (wirklichkeitswissenschaft). Our aim is the understanding of the characteristic uniqueness of the reality in which we move.'


            Modernity is characterised by the passage from direct, immediate, personal violence to an ever more crystallised violence consolidated in structures and institutions of exploitation and oppression where people are involved in wrongdoing because of their roles therein, because of the functions they carry out in organisations which are more and more specialised and complex, pervaded by a bureaucratic mentality which renders evil banal.

            ‘In the course of historical development, [violence] has been progressively monopolised by the coercive apparatus of a certain type of association or group of consensus, that is by politics, and transformed into the regulated threat of constriction by the powerful, and finally by a part of a power which officially takes on a neutral form.'

            Faced with the centralisation of the modern state with ever more totalitarian, violent characteristics, and with the development of larger and more despotic empires, the instruments of non-cooperation need to be honed. This is a task which Capitini urges above all the anarchic currents to take on, inviting them to abandon the old nineteenth-century tool of exasperated, individualistic violence. In fact, ‘with the powerful means of military and chemical weapons, to conceive of violence on a small scale is truly antiquated, absurd. If violent means are chosen, then you have to reach the point of using maybe all of them [...] It is a chain of violence, and once the first link in the chain has been taken up, so are the others; or ... the whole chain is thrown away and nonviolent techniques are chosen.'

            Non-cooperation draws its strength from the observation that every power, even the most despotic, cannot do without the consensus of the masses: ‘Power', observes Weber, ‘does not mean that a strong, natural force somehow opens up the way, but that there is a reference endowed with a sense of acting as "command", on the one hand, to the acting in "obedience", on the other, and vice versa in a corresponding manner.'

            The crux of the problem regarding power is identified in Weber's political sociology as ‘The probability that certain specific commands (or all commands) will be obeyed by a given group of persons.'

            ‘[Hence,] every genuine form of domination implies a minimum of voluntary compliance, that is, an interest (based on ulterior motives or genuine acceptance) in obedience.'

            According to Hannah Arendt this is the truth which was demonstrated both by the French and the American Revolutions: a universal refusal to obey initiates what then turns into a revolution. All regimes, old and new, need the support of public opinion:

            ‘Unlike human reason, human power is not only "timid and cautious when left alone" it is simply non-existent unless it can rely on others; the most powerful king and the least scrupulous of all tyrants are helpless if no one obeys them, that is, supports them through obedience; for in politics, obedience and support are the same.'


            Applying pressure on the lever of consensus, non-cooperation - through education, propaganda, exemplary behaviour - aims at separating the masses from the yoke of passive obedience to make them become aware, active protagonists in the struggle against the despotism of world empires. The practice of non-cooperation is as old as the hills, being part of the spontaneous resistance of every people or social class faced with the violence of the rulers, but it found its first explicit theory in the Discours de la servitude volontaire, written with clear, vibrant élan by Etienne de La Boétie in 1548:

            ‘For the present I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him; who could do them absolutely no injury unless they preferred to put up with him rather than contradict him. Surely a striking situation!'

            ‘Obviously there is no need of fighting to overcome this single tyrant, for he is automatically defeated if the country refuses consent to its own enslavement: it is not necessary to deprive him of anything, but simply to give him nothing; there is no need that the country make an effort to do anything for itself provided it does nothing against itself. It is therefore the inhabitants themselves who permit, or, rather, bring about, their own subjection, since by ceasing to submit they would put an end to their servitude.'

            ‘But if not one thing is yielded to them, if, without any violence they are simply not obeyed, they become naked and undone and as nothing, just as, when the root receives no nourishment, the branch withers and dies.'

            ‘Resolve to serve no more, and you are at once freed. I do not ask that you place hands upon the tyrant to topple him over, but simply that you support him no longer; then you will behold him, like a great Colossus whose pedestal has been pulled away, fall of his own weight and break into pieces.'

            Non-cooperation can take on different characteristics which go from boycott (as practised by the American colonies and later by Gandhi's India), strike, refusal to pay certain taxes (as in the case of objection to military expenditure) or to obey an unjust law.

            When non-cooperation, from simple abstention regarding certain services which the State offers, becomes open, public infraction of the law it is called civil disobedience. The expression was used for the first time to qualify Thoreau's action when, in 1846, as the Mexican war broke out, he refused to pay the tax destined to finance the war and thus ended up in prison. In his essay published in 1849 with the title ‘Resistance to Civil Government', which would influence Gandhi deeply, Thoreau defended the reasons for his conscientious objection because faced with an unjust law one's only moral duty is to disobey it: The only obligation which I have the right to assume, is to do at any time what I think right.

            From the point of view of nonviolence, civil disobedience should be carried out openly, in public. Its aim is to strike out against an unjust law, but it does not elude the punishment, for in that sacrifice it points out the way towards a better law. In this regard, Capitini quotes Louis Massignon who interprets Gandhian Satyagraha as ‘civil demand for Truth'. Capitini continues:

            ‘placing the emphasis on the commitment to effectively transform society through a struggle which may also place itself in opposition to unjust laws publicly without refusing the legal consequences.'

            The conscientious objector and the disobedient nonviolent person do not act out of love for indiscipline or chaos. Durkheim warned:

            ‘Furthermore, we must take care not to confuse two very different feelings: the need to substitute a new regulation for an old one; and the impatience with all rules, the abhorrence of all discipline. Under orderly conditions, the former is natural, healthy, and fruitful; ...'

            In openly declaring the reasons for their actions and in suffering the consequences, those who disobey, in reality, are sincere, courageous advocates of a new morality and a loftier interior discipline. To those who ask whether the erratic, the undisciplined may be ‘incomplete' moral beings, Durkheim replies:

            ‘Do they not, nevertheless, play a morally useful part in society? Was not Christ such a deviant, as well as Socrates? And is it not thus with all the historical figures whose names we associate with the great moral revolutions through which humanity has passed? Had their feeling of respect for the moral rules characteristic of their day been too lively, they would not have undertaken to alter them.'

            The same opinion is found in Weber when he describes the prophet who bursts upon the scene to disrupt the repetitiveness of the world and overthrow the existing order, who will endanger the legitimacy of all powers and weaken all traditional buttresses of the subjects' compliance and, at the same time, through his exemplary conduct he possibly tries to make them establish a new ethical order.

            Capitini's analysis of the contrast between the prophet and priestly dominion as the decisive factor in revolutionary processes finds full correspondence in Weber's sociology of power. The power of the prophet invoking his personal charisma, indicating his own path to redemption, enters into harsh conflict with the established interests of Caesaro-papism. The Concordat between State and Church aims to consolidate both their dominions drawing reciprocal advantages. Weber writes (but it is like reading Capitini in his accusation against the Concordat):

            ‘The secular ruler makes available to the priests the external means of enforcement for the maintenance of their power or at least for the collection of church taxes and other contributions. In return, the priests offer their religious sanctions in support of the ruler's legitimacy and for the domestication of the subjects.' In particular, the Catholic church today

            ‘acknowledges the autonomy of political charisma by the very fact that it makes acceptance and submission a religious duty in the face of every government that indisputably holds de facto power, as long as such a regime does not despoil the church.' The effects on religious life are disastrous:

            ‘Whenever caesaropapism predominates in this fashion it is inevitable that the substance of religion is stereotyped in terms of the purely technical, ritualist manipulation of supernatural powers, and any development towards a religion of salvation is impeded.'

            The prophet, then, rises up to challenge the priestly monopoly of the holy, which has degraded its original charisma, transforming it into office, belittling it by turning it into a profession:

            ‘The radical demands of the revolutionary and almost always eschatological charisma can never be realised within those religious organizations that insist upon compromises with the economic and other mundane power interests.'

            The refusal of a magic, ritual religiosity through the actions of the prophet opens the way to profound changes which see the realisation of what Weber calls inner religious faith (Gesinnungsethik):

            ‘Such systematisation breaks through the stereotypization of individual norms in order to bring about a meaningful total relationship of the pattern of life to the goal of religious salvation. Moreover, an inner religious faith does not recognize any sacred law, but only a "sacred inner religious state" that may sanction different maxims of conduct in different situations, and which is thus elastic and susceptible of accommodation. It may, depending on the pattern of life it engenders, produce revolutionary consequences from within, instead of exerting a stereotyping effect.'

            Weber holds, however, that the conflict of ascetic ethics, as well as of the mystically oriented temper of brotherly love, with the apparatus of domination which is basic to all political institutions cannot last long for it leads inevitably to martyrdom or submission.

            Capitini differs with this conclusion of Weber's since he holds that the nonviolent method may offer the religious, radical spirit the possibility of not taking refuge in an anti-political flight from the world, inasmuch as it proposed a certain nonviolent manner to remain in the world, transforming politics with the propulsive force of a prophetic religion that fans the flames of permanent revolution. Therefore, it is important for the nonviolent method to be able to accompany dissent with constructive work. Gandhi writes:

            ‘Civil disobedience, without the backing of the constructive programme, is criminal and a waste of effort.' ‘Civil Disobedience in terms of Independence without the co-operation of the millions by way of constructive effort is mere bravado, and worse than useless.'

            Satyagraha would be a truly paltry thing if it were only opposition or coercion, nonviolent though it may be. Concentrating its energies only in protest it would merit rather the name duragraha (stubborn persistence), according to Vinoba, while Satyagraha, which is love in action, must be realised as a joyous, creative force.

            Fasting, too, should not be practised as a form of pressure or publicity, threat or intimidation, because it is an act of prayer and purification, the highest expression of love.


            It is not a matter of carrying out acts of sterile propaganda to make converts in favour of an imaginary nonviolent society. What counts are facts. A new common reality needs to be realised, here and now, starting from one's own life. For Gandhi the struggle for independence went hand in hand with a commitment to life together with the pariahs, with the development of educational programmes, taking up again the artisan's work with the charka (spinning wheel) which became a symbol of an alternative model of development for the Indian villages called Sarvodaya (uplift of all).

            Capitini, in his turn, backs up his criticism of the industrial-scientific-military dominion with support for a frugal, local, decentralised economy which foresees a drop in the levels of consumption for the opulent Western nations. His criticism of the closed democratic system is followed by the birth of parallel institutes of participation (the SOC), putting into practice concrete grassroots direct democracy. His objection to war is accompanied by a programme of training in direct action techniques and nonviolent resistance, so that the alternative to armies might become concrete. Nonviolence is unremitting, patient activity, like a mother's. It cannot be efficient if left to improvisation, thus it is to be prepared beforehand following a new law: during peacetime, prepare for  peace.

            ‘Nonviolence, too, is certainly damaged by improvisers, by those that think they can create everything at once: they are the first to get weary; and nonviolence, if it is a quarter love, another quarter knowledge, for two quarters is courageous patience.'

            Therefore, long, persistent training is needed, for often conflicts erupt into violence when the right means for a nonviolent solution are not understood by everyone or training in those means is lacking. The development of those tools cannot be left to chance, but need to be organised in that the unleashing of the blind, impulsive forces of violence has to be faced with a rational method.

            ‘It has been rightly said that the initiators of the scientific method could not have foreseen its results, and that is how it will be for the nonviolent method.'

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