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”


ORGANISATION which is, after all, only the practice of co-operation and solidarity, is a natural and necessary condition of social life; it is an inescapable fact which forces itself on everybody, as much on human society in general as on any group of people who are working towards a common objective. Since man neither wishes to, nor can, live in isolation-indeed being unable to develop his personality, and satisfy his physical and moral needs outside society and without the co-operation of his fellow beings-it is inevitable that those people who have neither the means nor a sufficiently developed social conscience to permit them to associate freely with those of a like mind and with common interests, are subjected to organisation by others, generally constituted in a class or as a ruling group, with the aim of exploiting the labour of others for their personal advantage. And the age-long oppression of the masses by a small privileged group has always been the result of the inability of most workers to agree among themselves to organise with others for production, for enjoyment and for the possible needs of defence against whoever might wish to exploit and oppress them. Anarchism exists to remedy this state of affairs….[1]

There are two factions among those who call themselves anarchists, with or without adjectives: supporters and opponents of organisation. If we cannot succeed in agreeing, let us, at least, try to understand each other. Continue reading “Organisation”

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”