In Defence of Malatesta

From Organise!, No.81, magazine of the Anarchist Federation

A defence of Malatesta’s record on the unions and his attitude towards workers’ organisations

Let there be as much class struggle as one wishes, if by class struggle one means the struggle of the exploited against the exploiters for the abolition of exploitation. That struggle is a way of moral and material elevation, and it is the main revolutionary force that can be relied on.”

Malatesta

Recently there have been various references to the ideas of the Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta either in books and pamphlets or in blogs. For example the blog of Scott Nappalos has the following: ‘Anarchism and the unions: a critique of Malatesta’s ahistorical perspective’. Continue reading “In Defence of Malatesta”

Vote. What For?

Freely adapted from Malatesta’s En Periode Electorale. 1959 English translation of Errico Malatesta’s pamphlet “Vote. What For?” by the New York based Libertarian League.

George: This beer’s not too bad, is it?

Jack: Yes, it’s alright, but what a price!

George: Shocking – especially when you remember what things used to cost. Still, you can’t wonder with all these taxes. It costs you twice as much to live as it used to. They put up the price of some things, and say you can do without them. But you can’t do without bread, and food, and clothes – you have to pay the rent all the same, and then there are the taxes on this and the rates – on our wages too! What a life! And it’s our own fault! If we wanted to we could alter things. The working class has the remedy in its own hands. Continue reading “Vote. What For?”

Ends and Means

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. THIS SAYING HAS BEEN MUCH abused; yet it is in fact the universal guide to conduct. It would, however, be better to say: every end needs its means. Since morality must be sought in the aims, the means is determined.

Once the goal one is aiming at has been established, consciously or through necessity, the big problem of life is to find the means which, in the circumstances, leads to that end most surely and economically. In the way this problem is solved will depend, so far as it can depend on human will, whether the individual (or party) reaches or fails to achieve his ends, whether he is useful to his cause or unwittingly serves that of the enemy. To have found the right means, herein lies the whole secret of great men and parties that have left their mark on history. Continue reading “Ends and Means”

Anarchism, Individualism and Organization

First publication and date unknown.

I have listened attentively to everything that has been said before me on the problem of organization and I have the distinct impression that what separates us is the different meaning we give words. Let us not squabble over words. But as far as the basic problem is concerned, I am convinced that we are in total agreement.

All anarchists, whatever tendency they belong to, are individualists in some way or other. But the opposite is not true; not by any means. The individualists are thus divided into two distinct categories: one which claims the right to full development for all human individuality, their own and that of others; the other which only thinks about its own individuality and has absolutely no hesitation in sacrificing the individuality of others. The Tsar of all the Russias belongs to the latter category of individualists. We belong to the former. Continue reading “Anarchism, Individualism and Organization”

Some Thoughts on the Post-Revolutionary Property System

Il Risveglio (Geneva), November 1929

Our opponents, the beneficiaries and defenders of the current social system, are in the habit of justifying the right to private property by stating that property is the condition and guarantee of liberty.
And we agree with them. Do we not say repeatedly that poverty is slavery?
But then, why do we oppose them?
The reason is clear: in reality the property that they defend is capitalist property, namely property that allows its owners to live from the work of others and which therefore depends on the existence of a class of the disinherited and dispossessed, forced to sell their labour to the property owners for a wage below its real value. Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the Post-Revolutionary Property System”

Echoes of the 1st of May

Agitiamoci per Socialismo Anarchico (May 8, 1897), single issue, replacement for No. 9 of L’Agitazone. Translated by Paul Sharkey and appeared in The Complete Works of Malatesta, Vol. 3: A Long and Patient Work

As we had forecast, the 1st of May this year was a very poor show. And, most hurtful of all, the process of decadence tending to turn the demonstration, the strike on that day into mere holiday has become even more pronounced.

Drinking, marquees, balls: these are the key features of the day in those places where anything at all took place.

Not that we despise amusements; in fact we should like to see the workers get used to them and demand time and wherewithal to indulge in them. Neither would we have have preferred riots and upheavals, which would have gifted the government with an outlet for its lust for persecution, since it is our conviction that persecution is not welcome, unless one is in position to resist it successfully. Continue reading “Echoes of the 1st of May”

The 1st of May (II)

Agitiamoci per Socialismo Anarchico (May 1, 1897), single issue, replacement for No. 8 of L’Agitazone. Translated by Paul Sharkey and appeared in The Complete Works of Malatesta, Vol. 3: A Long and Patient Work

At the time of writing, we do not yet know how important the 1st of May demonstration will be this year. Unfortunately, we do not have high Hopes.

The democratic socialist, who could ensure a solemn demonstration if only they committed to this agitation—in which class struggle could really be affirmed and organized—a tenth of the effort they put into the election campaign, stage the event indolently, merely because, at this point, staging it is a habit. Right from the outset they strove to turn the workers’ strike into a labor holiday, mounted, if possible, with the assent of the masters, and they so far as to want governments to declare it an official and mandatory holiday—and they are now carrying on in the same vein. They are afraid of playing with fire, afraid that the people might start to become conscious of their own strengths and start doing things for themselves. In their eyes, there is nothing but Parliament, and any other approach is a hurdle that they hearty abhor, even when they are required by convenience to consider it. Continue reading “The 1st of May (II)”