Between man and his social environment there is a reciprocal action. Men make society what it is and society makes men what they are, and the result is therefore a kind of vicious circle.
The Method of Freedom: An Errico Malatesta Reader (2014)
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.
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
Ciò che più importa è che il popolo, gli uomini tutti, perdano gli istinti e le abitudini pecorili che la millenaria schiavitù ha loro ispirato ed apprendano a pensare ed agire liberamente.
Scritti: "Pensiero e volontá," rivista quindicinale di studi sociali e di coltura generale (Roma, 1924-1926) e ultimi scritti (1926-1932) [Writings: "Thought and Will," fortnightly magazine of social studies and culture general (Rome, 1924-1926) and later writings (1926-1932)], Vol. 3, p. 317; this is also quoted in the message on an Anarchist white stone monument in Pozzuoli, Italy, with simply "Gli anarchici" [The anarchists] appended to the statement.
Note to the article 'Individualism and Anarchism' by Adams (1924)
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.
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.
Neither Democrats, Nor Dictators: Anarchists (1926)
We are for the freedom of all and for free agreement, which will be there for all when no one has the means to force others, and all are involved in the good running of society. We are for anarchy.
Theoretically "democracy" means popular government; government by all for everybody by the efforts of all. In a democracy the people must be able to say what they want, to nominate the executors of their wishes, to monitor their performance and remove them when they see fit.
Naturally this presumes that all the individuals that make up a people are able to form an opinion and express it on all the subjects that interest them. It implies that everyone is politically and economically independent and therefore no-one, to live, would be obliged to submit to the will of others.
The "government of all the people", if we have to have government, can at best be only the government of the majority. And the democrats, whether socialists or not, are willing to agree. They add, it is true, that one must respect minority rights; but since it is the majority that decides what these rights are, as a result minorities only have the right to do what the majority wants and allows. The only limit to the will of the majority would be the resistance which the minorities know and can put up. This means that there would always be a social struggle, in which a part of the members, albeit the majority, has the right to impose its own will on the others, yoking the efforts of all to their own ends.
And here I would make an aside to show how, based on reasoning backed by the evidence of past and present events, it is not even true that where there is government, namely authority, that authority resides in the majority and how in reality every "democracy" has been, is and must be nothing short of an "oligarchy" – a government of the few, a dictatorship. But, for the purposes of this article, I prefer to err on the side of the democrats and assume that there can really be a true and sincere majority government. Government means the right to make the law and to impose it on everyone by force: without a police force there is no government.
Every new idea stems from one or a few individuals, is accepted, if viable, by a more or less sizeable minority and wins over the majority, if ever, only after it has been superseded by new ideas and new needs and has already become outdated and rather an obstacle, rather than a spur to progress.
But do we, then, want a minority government?
Certainly not. If it is unjust and harmful for a majority to oppress minorities and obstruct progress, it is even more unjust and harmful for a minority to oppress the whole population or impose its own ideas by force which even if they are good ones would excite repugnance and opposition because of the very fact of being imposed.
And then, one must not forget that there are all kinds of different minorities. There are minorities of egoists and villains as there are of fanatics who believe themselves to be possessed of absolute truth and, in perfectly good faith, seek to impose on others what they hold to be the only way to salvation, even if it is simple silliness. There are minorities of reactionaries who seek to turn back the clock and are divided as to the paths and limits of reaction. And there are revolutionary minorities, also divided on the means and ends of revolution and on the direction that social progress should take.
Which minority should take over?
This is a matter of brute force and capacity for intrigue, and the odds that success would fall to the most sincere and most devoted to the general good are not favourable. To conquer power one needs qualities that are not exactly those that are needed to ensure that justice and well-being will triumph in the world.
We are neither for a majority nor for a minority government; neither for democracy not for dictatorship.
We are for the abolition of the gendarme. We are for the freedom of all and for free agreement, which will be there for all when no one has the means to force others, and all are involved in the good running of society. We are for anarchy.