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International Socialist Review, Summer 1964


Edward Smith



From International Socialist Review, Vol.24 No.3, Summer 1964, p.95.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Waste: An Eye-Witness Report on Some Aspects of Waste in Western Sicily
by Danilo Dolci
trans. R. Munroe
Monthly Review Press, New York, 1964. 352 pp. $6.75.

In Waste, Danilo Dolci combines personal conversations with statistical data to give a startling picture of poverty-stricken Western Sicily. There is waste of natural resources and domestic animals, because of the backward traditions of the farmers and shepherds, and there is waste of human life, in the predatory warfare of the power-hungry mafiosi.

Dolci suggests tnat these problems may be solved by bringing a higher level of understanding to the people through supervised group conversations (examples of which are recorded in the book). These discussions will provide the people with a desire to change their situation and the technical knowledge necessary. The theory will be put to practice in cooperative work sessions, called “reverse” strikes, because workers will not be paid.

The weakness of Waste is not in the description, which convinces one of the difficulty of the conditions confronting Western Sicily, but in the solution Dolci advances. Dolci seems willing to believe that the political corruption tradition in Sicily is also permanent. He rejects the path of unionizing the agricultural workers, apparently because previous trade unions have been unsuccessful in organizing the farmers, rather than because the Mafia has been successful in terrorizing those who might join it.

Unpaid employment can hardly be a long term solution for Sicily. What finally will stem the rule-by-assassination of the Mafia? What type of political party ultimately will guide Sicily to an advanced and equalitarian society? Dolci’s penetrating presentation of Sicily’s dilemma prompts one to raise many questions that Dolci, himself, does not answer.

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