Errico Malatesta

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Violence is the whole essence of authoritarianism, just as the repudiation of violence is the whole essence of anarchism.

Errico Malatesta (December 14, 1853July 22, 1932) was an Italian anarcho-communist.

Quotes[edit]

Anarchy is a word that comes from the Greek, and signifies, strictly speaking, "without government": the state of a people without any constituted authority.
In the long run it is always the searching for a more secure guarantee of freedom which is the common factor among anarchists, and which divides them into different schools.
We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves.
  • Anarchy is a word that comes from the Greek, and signifies, strictly speaking, "without government": the state of a people without any constituted authority.
    Before such an organization had begun to be considered possible and desirable by a whole class of thinkers, so as to be taken as the aim of a movement (which has now become one of the most important factors in modern social warfare), the word “anarchy” was used universally in the sense of disorder and confusion, and it is still adopted in that sense by the ignorant and by adversaries interested in distorting the truth.
  • Anarchists generally make use if the word "State" to mean all the collection of institutions, political, legislative, judicial, military, financial, etc., by means of which management of their own affairs, the guidance of their personal conduct, and the care of ensuring their own safety are taken from the people and confided to certain individuals, and these, whether by usurpation or delegation, are invested with the right to make laws over and for all, and to constrain the public to respect them, making use of the collective force of the community to this end.
    • Anarchy (1891)
  • We anarchists do not want to emancipate the people; we want the people to emancipate themselves.
    • l'Agitazione (18 June 1897)
  • We follow ideas and not men, and rebel against this habit of embodying a principle in a man.
    • Speech to International Anarchist Congress (1907)
  • By anarchist spirit I mean that deeply human sentiment, which aims at the good of all, freedom and justice for all, solidarity and love among the people; which is not an exclusive characteristic only of self-declared anarchists, but inspires all people who have a generous heart and an open mind...
    • Umanita Nova (13 April 1922)
  • If you say that you reject violence when it exceeds the limits imposed by the needs of defense, they accuse you of pacifism, without understanding that violence is the whole essence of authoritarianism, just as the repudiation of violence is the whole essence of anarchism.
    • "Anarchism, Authoritarian Socialism and Communism" in Fede (28 October 1923); also in What Is Anarchism? : An Introduction edited by Donald Rooum (1992, 1995) p. 59

Note to the article 'Individualism and Anarchism' by Adams (1924)[edit]

"Note to the article 'Individualism and Anarchism' by Adams" in Pensiero e Volontà No. 15 (1 August 1924)
  • 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.
    If anarchy means non-government, non-domination, non-oppression by man over man, how can one call himself anarchist without lying to himself and the others, when he frankly claims that he would oppress the others for the satisfaction of his Ego, without any scruple or limit, other than that drawn by his own strength? He can be a rebel, because he is being oppressed and he fights to become an oppressor, as other nobler rebels fight to destroy any kind of oppression; but he sure cannot be anarchist. He is a would-be bourgeois, a would-be tyrant, who is unable to accomplish his dreams of dominion and wealth by his own strength and by legal means, and therefore he approaches anarchists to exploit their moral and material solidarity.
    Therefore, I think the question is not about "communists" and "individualists", but rather about anarchists and non-anarchists. And we, or at least many of us, were quite wrong in discussing a certain kind of alleged "anarchist individualism" as if it really was one of the various tendencies of anarchism, instead of fighting it as one of the many disguises of authoritarianism.
  • In the anarchist milieu, communism, individualism, collectivism, mutualism and all the intermediate and eclectic programmes are simply the ways considered best for achieving freedom and solidarity in economic life; the ways believed to correspond more closely with justice and freedom for the distribution of the means of production and the products of labour among men.
    Bakunin was an anarchist, and he was a collectivist, an outspoken enemy of communism because he saw in it the negation of freedom and, therefore, of human dignity. And with Bakunin, and for a long time after him, almost all the Spanish anarchists were collectivists (collective property of soil, raw materials and means of production, and assignment of the entire product of labour to the producer, after deducting the necessary contribution to social charges), and yet they were among the most conscious and consistent anarchists.
    Others for the same reason of defence and guarantee of liberty declare themselves to be individualists and they want each person, to have as individual property the part that is due to him of the means of production and therefore the free disposal of the products of his labour.
    Others invent more or less complicated system of mutuality. But in the long run it is always the searching for a more secure guarantee of freedom which is the common factor among anarchists, and which divides them into different schools.

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