Democracy and Anarchy

This article first appeared in Malatesta’s journal Pensiero e Volontà in March 1924. This translation by Gillian Fleming was published in The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Articles 1924-1931, edited by Vernon Richards, Freedom Press 1995.

The rampant dictatorial governments in Italy, Spain and Russia, which arouse such envy and longing among the more reactionary and timid parties across the world, are supplying dispossessed ‘democracy’ with a sort of new virginity. Thus we see the creatures of the old regimes, well-accustomed to the wicked art of politics, responsible for repression and massacres of working people, re-emerging — where they do not lack the courage — and presenting themselves as men of progress, seeking to capture the near future in the name of liberation. And, given the situation, they could even succeed.

There is something to be said for the criticisms made of democracy by dictatorial regimes, and the way they expose the vices and lies of democracy. And I remember that anarchist, Hermann Sandomirski, a Bolshevik fellowtraveller with whom we had bittersweet contact at the time of the Geneva conference, and who is now trying to couple Lenin with Bakunin, no less; I say I remember Sandomirski who in order to defend the Russian regime dragged out his Kropotkin to demonstrate that democracy is not the best imaginable form of social structure. His method of reasoning, as a Russian, put me in mind and I think I told him so — of the reasoning made by some of his compatriots when, in response to the indignation of the civilised world at the Tsar’s stripping, flogging and hanging of women, they argued that if men and women were to have equal rights they should also accept equal responsibilities. Those supporters of prison and the scaffold remembered the rights of women only when they could serve as a pretext for new outrages ! Thus dictatorships oppose democratic governments only when they discover that there is a form of government which leaves even greater room for despotism and tyranny for those who manage to seize power. Continue reading “Democracy and Anarchy”

Note on Individualism and Anarchism

Note to the article Individualism and Anarchism by Adamas. Pensiero e Volontà, No. 15, August 1, 1924

Adamas’ reply to my article in n. 13 shows that I did not express my thought well, and induces me to add some clarifications.

I claimed that “individualist anarchism and communist anarchism are the same, or nearly so, in terms of moral motivations and ultimate goals”.

I know that one could counter my claim with hundreds of texts and plenty of deeds of self-proclaimed individualist anarchists, which would demonstrate that individualist anarchist and communist anarchist are separated by something of a moral abyss.

However, I deny that that kind of individualists can be included among anarchists, despite their liking for calling themselves so. Continue reading “Note on Individualism and Anarchism”

Note on Medicine and Anarchism

Pensiero e Volontà, No. 9, May 10, 1924

MEDICINE… AND ANARCHISM. — Under this title, in the editorial mail of our issue n. 5, we published a note by which we refused the invitation of some comrades to make propaganda in favour of certain methods of treatment conflicting with science and the commonly accepted medical practice.

This fact upset comrade N. Cuneo from New York. Though acknowledging that Pensiero e Volontà is not the right place for medical discussions (in fact, he is not among those who urged us to that propaganda), in the April 15 issue of Libero Accordo he stands up for the “natural treatment”, i.e. a treatment without drugs, which is said to be making great progress, and to have been acknowledged and legalized in many states of the American Union.

Evidently we could not make ourselves understood. Continue reading “Note on Medicine and Anarchism”

The Anarchist Revolution

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

The revolution is the creation of new living institutions, new groupings, new social relationships; it is the destruction of privileges and monopolies; it is the new spirit of justice, of brotherhood, of freedom which must renew the whole of social life, raise the moral level and the material conditions of the masses by calling on them to provide, through their direct and conscious action, for their own futures. Revolution is the organisation of all public services by those who work in them in their own interest as well as the public’s; Revolution is the destruction of all coercive ties; it is the autonomy of groups, of communes, of regions; Revolution is the free federation brought about by a desire for brotherhood, by individual and collective interests, by the needs of production and defence; Revolution is the constitution of innumerable free groupings based on ideas, wishes, and tastes of all kinds that exist among the people; Revolution is the forming and disbanding of thousands of representative, district, communal, regional, national bodies which, without having any legislative power, serve to make known and to coordinate the desires and interests of people near and far and which act through information, advice and example. Revolution is freedom proved in the crucible of facts—and lasts so long as freedom lasts, that is until others, taking advantage of the weariness that overtakes the masses, of the inevitable disappointments that follow exaggerated hopes, of the probable errors and human faults, succeed in constituting a power, which supported by an army of conscripts or mercenaries, lays down the law, arrests the movement at the point it has reached, and then begins the reaction.[1] Continue reading “The Anarchist Revolution”

Anarchist Propaganda

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

It must be admitted that we anarchists, in outlining what we would like the future society to be a society without bosses and without gendarmes have, in general, made everything look a bit too easy.

While on the one hand we reproach our adversaries for being unable to think beyond present conditions and of finding communism and anarchy unattainable, because they imagine that man must remain as he is today, with all his meanness, his vices and his fears, even when their causes have been eliminated, on the other hand we skate over the difficulties and the doubts, assuming that the morally positive effects which will result from the abolition of economic privilege and the triumph of liberty have already been achieved.

So, when we are told that some people won’t want to work, we immediately have a string of excellent reasons to show that work, that is the exercise of our faculties and the pleasure to produce, is at the root of man’s well-being, and that it is therefore ridiculous to think that healthy people would wish to withdraw from the need to produce for the community when work would not be oppressive, exploited and despised, as it is today. Continue reading “Anarchist Propaganda”