Livio Maitan was born in Venice in 1923. He studied classical literature at the University of Padua under Concetto Marchese, a well-known Italian scholar and opponent of Mussolini. During the War, he was active in the Resistance to Fascism, and in 1944 was condemned by a Fascist court in Venice, but escaped to Switzerland. After the War, he was a member of the youth organization of the Italian Socialist Party. In 1948, he joined the Fourth International, in which he played a prominent role.