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)”

The 1st of May

L’Agitazione (Ancona) 1, No. 5 (Apri 12, 1897). Translated by Paul Sharkey and appeared in The Complete Works of Malatesta, Vol. 3: A Long and Patient Work

Six or seven years ago, the approach of this date used to arouse great hopes and great fears. The bourgeois quaked, the police made ready for a crackdown, the revolutionaries stood in readiness for the struggle, and huge masses of proletarians looked forward eagerly to that date like some mystical day fated to signal the end of their suffering

Since then, the movement has, little by little, been dwindling in importance until it has been forgotten by some, and looked upon by others as one more innocuous anniversary on the calendar of the revolutionary merry-makers Continue reading “The 1st of May”

The Experimental Anarchist Colonies

“Le colonie anarchiche sperimental,” L’Agitazione (Ancona) 1, No. 33 (October 28, 1897). This article was translated by Paul Sharkey and appeared in The Complete Works of Malatesta, Vol. 3: A Long and Patient Work

In our last issue, comrade Fabbri spoke to us of the Clousden Hill anarchist Colony in England and, in his enthusiasm, portrayed it as proof that anarchy is no utopia.[1]

Needless to say, we are convinced that anarchy is feasible since it is, as we see it, the form of social organization that best ensures freedom and well-being for all and therefore must eventually win everyone’s support—and we believe that, with respect to social institutions, everything is practical and achievable as long as men agree in wanting it. But it does not seem to us that the English comrades’ Colony proves much as to the feasibility of our ideas; and we hasten to say so because, should that colony some day go to rack and ruin—which would displease but not surprise us—we want to be able to claim that the experiment’s failure is not an argument against us, just as its success is not an argument in our favor. Other colonies prospered for a time and were cited by enthusiasts as proof that anarchy is achievable, but now are the bourgeois’ laughing stock! Continue reading “The Experimental Anarchist Colonies”