Life and Ideas: The Anarchist Writings of Errico Malatesta
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Life and Ideas gathers excerpts from Malatesta’s writings over a lifetime of revolutionary activity. The editor, Vernon Richards, has translated hundreds of articles by Malatesta, taken from the journals Malatesta either edited himself or contributed to, from the earliest, L’En Dehors of 1892, through to Pensiero e Volontà, which was forced to close by Mussolini’s fascists in 1926, and the bilingual Il Risveglio/Le Réveil, which published most of his writings after that date. These articles have been pruned down to their essentials and collected under subheadings ranging from “Ends and Means” to “Anarchist Propaganda.” Through the selections Malatesta’s classical anarchism emerges: a revolutionary, nonpacifist, nonreformist vision informed by decades of engagement in struggle and study. In addition there is a short biographical piece and an essay by the editor.
more easily in having his opinion accepted, and of acting as a guide on the particular question, for those less able than himself. In our opinion authority not only is not necessary for social organisation but, far from benefitting it, lives on it parasitically, hampers its development, and uses its advantages for the special benefit of a particular class which exploits and oppresses the others. So long as in a community there is harmony of interests, and no one has either the desire or the means
achieve the unity of the working class against the owning class. 121 Life and Ideas It was not achieved because the political parties, which incidentally have often been the founders and the first animators of the Trade Union movement, wished to use the workers’ associations as a recruiting centre as well as weapons for their particular ends, whether of revolution or conservatism. Hence the divisions within the working class, organised into many groupings under the influence of the political
than as a thinker, explains in part their superficial treatment of his role in what they call the “historic anarchist movement.” Then there is the question of language. It is noteworthy that English social historians are not linguists, and Italian is not an international language (and neither are Italians good linguists) and so, in spite of the fact that the Italian anarchist movement has produced probably more valuable and thought-provoking writers than any other movement, their names, let alone
human progress, which must be beaten down with force if one does not wish to remain indefinitely under present conditions or even worse. From the economic struggle one must pass to the political struggle, that is to the struggle against government; and instead of opposing the capitalist 183
Fabbri, Max Nettlau, and Armando Borghi (the latter still with us, and the octogenarian editor of the Italian anarchist weekly, Umanità Nova) who have done all the hard work. I have only selected, and if I have not retailed the human anecdotes and have presented Malatesta’s Life in some twenty-odd unconnected bits, it is that while I think Malatesta’s life illumines his ideas, the neglect he has suffered as a man of ideas in the English speaking world is, in part, due to the emphasis laid on his