Life of Malatesta

Life of Malatesta
Cover of Life of Malatesta. Christie Books edition

by Luigi Fabbri


  • Introduction: How I met Errico Malatesta
  • The Man
  • His goodness
  • Legend and reality
  • The orator and the writer
  • Lenin of Italy?
  • Man of action
  • The intellectual
  • Laborer
  • The complete anarchist
  • The Life
  • The Student. – From Republican to Internationalist. — First Arrests. — Meeting Bakunin.
  • The Movements of 1874. — International Congresses in Florence and Bern (1876).
  • The Benevento Uprising (1877).
  • In Egypt, France and England. — The International Congress in London.
  • In Egypt Again. — Return to Italy. — The trial of Rome and La Questione Sociale of Florence. With those Sick from Cholera in Naples (1884).
  • A Refugee in South America. — La Questione Sociale of Buenos Aires (1885). In Search of Gold — Return to Europe (1889).
  • L’Associazione in Nice and London (1889-90). — Congress in Capolago. In Switzerland, France, Belgium and Spain. — The Italian Movements of 1891 and 1894. — International Socialist Workers’ Congress in London. — L’Anarchia (1896).
  • Underground in Italy. — L’Agitazione of Ancona (1897-98). — The Italian Movements of 1898. — Arrest, Trial, and Conviction. — Jail and “domicilio coatto.” — Escape. — La Questione Sociale of Paterson (1899-1900).
  • A Worker’s life in London (1900-13). – Papers and Pamphlets. Anarchist Congress in Amsterdam (1907). — Imprisoned in London. — Return to Italy (1913).
  • Volontà of Ancona (1913-14). — The “Red Week” Mutinies. — Escape to London (1914).
  • The World War. — Arguments against the War and Interventionism. — Return to Italy (1919).
  • Umanità Nova of Milan (1920). — Committees, Conferences and Congresses. Occupation of the factories. — Arrest (1920).
  • In prison (1920-21). — Hunger strike. — Trial and Acquittal. The Fight against Fascism. — The “March on Rome” (1922).
  • A Year of Manual Labor (1923). — Pensiero e Volontà of Rome (1924-26). — Persecutions.
  • An Unseen Prison. — Life under Tyranny. — Writing for the Foreign Anarchist Press. — Sickness and Death (1932).

Appendix A: Biographical Notes

Errico Malatesta: The Biography of an Anarchist

Cover of Errico Malatesta: The Biography of an Anarchist

Errico Malatesta

The Biography of an Anarchist

A Condensed Sketch of Malatesta from the book written by

Max Nettlau

Published by the Jewish Anarchist Federation
New York City. 1924


The short sketch of Malatesta’s life is based on the exhaustive study of Max Nettlau, published in Italian translation by “Il Martello” in New York under the title Vita e Pensieri di Errico Malatesta, and in German translation issued at Berlin by the publishers of the “Syndicalist.” Max Nettlau, the profound scholar of the Anarchist movement, biographer of Michael Bakunin and author of Bibliographie de l’Anarchie, lives in Vienna, and like so many intellectuals in Europe, in distressing economic condition. May I express here the hope that he will find sufficient encouragement to continue his valuable task in the Anarchist movement? He was in contact with the most remarkable men and women in the revolutionary movement of our time and his own reminiscences should prove of great value to the younger generation.

The American publishers refuse to print the Biography on the pretext that it would not pay. No doubt, should an upheaval occur in Italy and Malatesta’s name appear in the foreground, the same publishers would be only to eager to get hold of the manuscript. Meanwhile our comrades of the Jewish Anarchist Federation offer the short sketch as a homage to Malatesta on his seventieth birthday. Continue reading “Errico Malatesta: The Biography of an Anarchist”

What is to be done?

Reply to an article by “Outcast”, Umanità Nova, No. 185, August 26, 1922

“What is to be done?” is the question that, more or less intensely, always troubles the minds of all men struggling for an ideal, and urgently comes back in moments of crisis, when a failure, a disillusionment induces one to re-examine the tactics adopted, to criticize possible errors and to seek more effective means. Comrade Outcast is right to bring up the question again and invite the comrades to think and decide about what to do.

Today our situation is difficult, and even dreadful in some areas. However, he who was anarchist before, remains anarchist after all; although we have been weakened by many defeats, we have also gained a valuable experience, which will increase our effectiveness, if only we are able to treasure it. The defections occurred on our side, which were actually rare, help us after all, because they rid us of weak and unreliable persons.

So, what is to be done? Continue reading “What is to be done?”

Towards Anarchism

Towards Anarchism by Errico Malatesta (1853-1932) first appeared in English in the Depression era periodical MAN!.

It is a general opinion that we, because we call ourselves revolutionists, expect Anarchism to come with one stroke – as the immediate result of an insurrection which violently attacks all that which exists and which replaces all with institutions that are really new. And to tell the truth this idea is not lacking among some comrades who also conceive the revolution in such a manner.

This prejudice explains why so many honest opponents believe Anarchism a thing impossible; and it also explains why some comrades, disgusted with the present moral condition of the people and seeing that Anarchism cannot come about soon, waver between an extreme dogmatism which blinds them to the realities of life and an opportunism which practically makes them forget that they are Anarchists and that for Anarchism they should struggle. Continue reading “Towards Anarchism”

The Idea of Good Government

Umanità Nova, September 11, 1920

None can judge with certainty who is right and who is wrong, who is nearest the truth, or which is the best way to achieve the greatest good for each and everyone. Freedom coupled with experience, is the only way of discovering the truth and what is best; and there can be no freedom if there is a denial of the freedom to err.

But when one talks of freedom politically, and not philosophically, nobody thinks of the metaphysical bogey of abstract man who exists outside the cosmic and social environment and who, like some god, “could do what he wishes” in the absolute sense of the word.

When one talks of freedom one is speaking of a society in which no one could constrain his fellow beings without meeting with vigorous resistance, in which, above all, nobody could seize and use the collective force to impose his wishes on others and on the very groups which are the source of power. Continue reading “The Idea of Good Government”

Revolution in Practice

Umanità Nova, No. 191, October 7, 1922

At the meeting held in Bienne (Switzerland) on the fiftieth anniversary of the Saint Imier Congress, comrade Bertoni and I expressed some ideas that comrade Colomer did not like. So much so that he wrote on the Paris Libertaire that he is sure those ideas contrast the most lively tendencies of the contemporary anarchist movement. Had the comrades of Germany, Spain, Russia, America, etc. been present at that meeting, he writes, they would have got moved and nearly indignant (“émus et presque indigné”), as he himself did.

In my opinion, comrade Colomer slightly overstates his knowledge of the real tendencies of anarchism. In any case, it is an improper use of language, at the least, to talk about “indignation” when the matter is a discussion where everyone honestly tries to contribute to the clarification of ideas in the best interest of the common goal. Anyway, it is better to keep discussing in a friendly manner, as we did in Bienne. Continue reading “Revolution in Practice”

The Revolutionary “Haste”

Umanità Nova, No. 125, September 6, 1921

Let us deal again with G. Valenti’s article republished by the Reggio Emilia newspaper Giustizia.

Valenti dwells on enumerating all the masses that are indifferent or hostile to subversive propaganda. Writing about the United States, he claims that there are 60 (?) million Catholics organized in religious associations who go to church and pray God, and he invites the anarchists to go and make propaganda among those 60 millions, if they want to speed up the revolution. He claims that only 4 and a half million producers out of 40 million are organized in organizations, the majority of which, as a matter of fact, are still opposed to socialism; he also invites trade unionists to start working at organizing workers in unions, if they really want to speed up the revolution. He claims that only one million voters out of twenty-five million voted for Debs in the last polls, he recalls that in the South socialist speakers get beaten and driven out of towns by mobs intoxicated with patriotism; finally, he invites communists to go and propagandize their 21 points in the South, instead of “bugging socialists into accepting them”. Continue reading “The Revolutionary “Haste””