Pacts in the Dolci controversy
SIR,-In order to enable Catholics in Britain to understand the controversy over Danilo Dolci and the problem of Southern Italy and Sicily I would like to lallt forward some of the factors involved, even if this means asking you to publish a letter longer than your usual practice.
Italy is not a " nation " in the sense of England or France. We have a deep common culture, but never a common feeling about the State. We have made an Italy,
but not " Italians ". Southern -Italy is comparable with Egypt or the Middle East, deeply separated from the vivid. relatively welleducated, wealthy people of Northern Italy. The Southerners have not yet acquired a sense of society, of law, of "State".
Our Government spends millions and millions of lire for the Mezzogiorno (south Italy): it has spent such a large amount of money that by now all the people of the south could he twice as rich. Why didn't it work? Because there was nobody in the south to understand the meaning of this policy. They just mistrust the State.
And we keep on sending millions and millions for roads, bridges, artificial rivers. harbours, factories, plantations, and so on. hoping that some business man will come from the north (or from abroad) ready to exploit all these facilities and set here his machinery and start making goods.
But now for tcn years, they do not corne, Why?
Because there is nobody down there who has either enough money or the " intention " to buy.
People there, hidden behind their sunburnt faces, with their silent eyes, full of ancient mistrust towards whatever the "government " does-the result of a secular mistrust towards any " government" (they never knew what "State" means)-just look at these works, passively, not hoping that anything will come, and thinking of these newcomers as foreigners, or worse, as invaders.
But there is another sort of people who are very clever indeed. They went to the Mezzogiorno with their Communist, Fascist, or any other doctrines and began to exploit the poor and innocent population. They took the commanding places (this has happened for years and scars, but mostly after the war) and started using the Government's aid for themselves.
What does the Church do?
Nothing. Because she really can't do anything. She can teach religion: but religion without "civic" education cannot contribute to form a citizen.
At this point Danilo Dolci comes out with his " discovery" of slums, of backward managing classes, of the Church's inactivity. We have already known all that since Italy was born. The problem is our own vital problem, or better, not only ours, but a European problem also.
If Dolci can make dams or anything useful, he has to thank his collaborators, not his undertaking in the matter of education. We have made hundreds of dams and many other important things, but. if we do not make the " citizens" and managing classes with a deep sense of State, we shall never solve the problem.
So the problem is, above all, a problem of education: and we already knew that much earlier than Dolci. His undertaking is to the lack of civic education and public exploitation is good: what is wrong with him is not that, but to have turned the fight against a chronic state of misery and uneducation into a crusade against our State, our Government, our Church in front of the whole world.
And we have so many much worse troubles with the Communist party. and our political instability (on the verge of falling at any time into the Russian field or the Fascist one) that Danilo Dolci does not represent anything to us. Danilo Doki can move only people with their stomachs full or, above ail, the society that believes in itself, in its values, in its will; that feels itself to be a society. So try to join this other mission: help the Mezzogiorno and its slums, but please forget Dolci and all his fuss.
There is another reason for the partial inactivity of the Government, The Christian Democrat party is largely financed by the landowners who see, in that party, the only sure bulwark against Communism: so the political and economic life of Italy is a muddle of interests, and not always very clear ones. Bribery and corruption are spread all over Italy.
The main party cannot have a personal economic policy because there are too many interests that have to be protected. As long as the Communist and Socialist parties exist, nobodyin Italy will make a brave stand in the Christian Democrat party because that will mean schism within itself.
The Christian Democrat party has not, alone, the necessary majority to rule, and so has to depend on the kind and changing help of the ex-friendly parties. When these interests coincide we have a government, otherwise we have not.
The Italian political life is not based on two or three long-lived, well defined policies (as in England). but on the unceasing, useless, dead search for possible and necessarily temporary convergences between the main party and the small parties. As long as a convergence is possible the small parties allow us to rule. It is not the main party which rules, but the interests of the stupid, small ones of the minority.
The Church knows all that and strains to keep the unity in the name of the " unity of Catholics" against Communism.
She is right: nobody knows whether it would be just Communists who would have the best of the schism. The people are too uneducated: and the dead weight of the south (ready to follow and cheer everybody who shows them some pasta), and the corruption of public life (a product of twenty years of dictatorship and three to four years of civil war) and you may have an idea of our situation.
As far as I am concerned, the solution of this muddle is only this: education, above all, social education. We must teach our people that they are citizens and members of a community.
University of Rome. Luigi Fetid