- Errico Malatesta
name = Errico Malatesta
image_size = 200px
December 14 1853
Santa Maria Capua Vetere, Italy
death_date = death date and age|1932|07|22|1853|11|14
occupation = Social and political
Errico Malatesta (
December 14, 1853ndash July 22, 1932) was an Italian anarcho-communist and Insurrectionary anarchist. He spent much of his life exiled from his homeland of Italyand in total spent more than ten years in prison. He wrote and edited a number of radical newspapers and was also a friend of Mikhail Bakunin.
Malatesta was born in
Santa Maria Capua Vetere, in the province of Caserta(southern Italy). The first of a long series of arrests came at just fourteen, when he was apprehended for writing a letter to King Victor Emmanuel IIthat complained about local injustice.
Malatesta was introduced to Mazzinian
Republicanismwhile studying medicineat the University of Naples; however, he was expelled from the university in 1871 for joining a demonstration. Partly via his enthusiasm for the Paris Communeand partly via his friendship with Carmelo Palladino, he joined the Naplessection of the International Workingmen's Associationthat same year, as well as teaching himself to be a mechanic and electrician. In 1872 he met Mikhail Bakunin, with whom he participated in the St Imier congress of the International. For the next four years, Malatesta helped spread Internationalist propaganda in Italy; he was imprisoned twice for these activities.
In April 1877, Malatesta,
Carlo Cafiero, the Russian Stepniakand about 30 others started an insurrectionin the province of Benevento, taking the villages of Letinoand Gallowithout a struggle. The revolutionaries burned taxregisters and declared the end of the King's reign, and were met by enthusiasm: even a local priest showed his support. After leaving Gallo, however, they were arrested by government troops and held for sixteen months before being acquitted. After a number of terroristic attacks on the Italian royal family and their supporters, the radicals were kept under constant surveillance by the police. Even though the anarchists claimed to have no connection to the attacks, Malatesta, being an advocate of social revolution, was included in this surveillance. After returning to Naples, he was forced to leave Italy altogether because of these conditions, beginning a long period of exile.
He went to
Egyptbriefly, visiting some Italian friends but was soon expelled by the Italian Consul. After working his passage on a French ship and being refused entry to Syria, Turkeyand Italy, he landed in Marseillewhere he made his way to Genevain Switzerlandndash then something of an anarchist centre. Here he befriended Elisée Reclusand Peter Kropotkin, helping the latter to produce " La Révolte". However, he was soon expelled from Switzerland, and eventually travelled to Londonin 1880, passing through Romania, Parisand Belgium.
In London, Malatesta worked as an
ice creamseller and a mechanic, and participated in the 1881 congress of the International, which gave birth to the Anarchist International.
He went to fight the British colonial troops in Egypt in 1882, then secretly returned to Italy the following year. In
Florencehe founded the weekly anarchist paper " La Questione Sociale" ("The Social Question") in which his most popular pamphlet, " Fra Contadini" ("Among Farmers"), first appeared. Malatesta went back to Naples in 1884—while waiting to serve a three year prison term—to nurse the victims of a choleraepidemic. Once again, he fled Italy to escape imprisonment and went to South America. He lived in Buenos Airesfrom 1885, where he resumed publication of "La Questione Sociale", and was involved in the founding of the first militant workers' union in Argentina, the Bakers Union, and left an anarchist impression in the workers' movements there for years to come.
Europein 1889, he published a newspaper called " L'Associazione" in Niceuntil he was forced to flee to London. For the next eight years Malatesta was based in London, but made clandestine trips to France, Switzerlandand Italy and went on a lecture tour of Spainwith Tarrida del Marmol. During this time he wrote several important pamphlets, including " L'Anarchia". Malatesta then took part in the International Anarchist Congress of Amsterdam(1907), where he debated in particular with Pierre Monatteon the relation between anarchism and syndicalism(or trade-unionism). The latter thought that syndicalism was revolutionary and would create the conditions of a social revolution, while Malatesta considered that syndicalism by itself was not sufficient. [http://www.fondation-besnard.org/article.php3?id_article=225 Extract of Malatesta's declaration] fr icon] Malatesta thought that trade-unions were reformist, and could even be, at times, conservative. Along with Christiaan Cornelissen, he cited as example US trade-unions, where trade-unions composed of qualified workers sometimes opposed themselves to non-qualified workers in order to defend their relatively privileged position. In 1912, Malatesta appeared in Bow Street Police Courton a criminal libel charge, which resulted in a 3 month prisonsentence, and his recommendation for deportation. This order was quashed following campaigning by the radical press and demonstrations by workers organisations.
After the First World War, Malatesta eventually returned to Italy for the final time. Two years after his return, in 1921, the Italian government imprisoned him, again, although he was released two months before the fascists came to power. From 1924 until 1926, when
Benito Mussolinisilenced all independent press, Malatesta published the journal " Pensiero e Volontà", although he was harassed and the journal suffered from government censorship. He was to spend his remaining years leading a relatively quiet life, earning a living as an electrician. After years of suffering from a weak respiratory system and regular bronchial attacks, he developed bronchial pneumoniafrom which he died after a few weeks, despite being given 1500 litres of oxygen in his last five hours. He died on Friday, 22 July1932.
Malatesta was a principled anarchistndash he would always adhere to anarchist principles no matter what the situation. He always rejected party politics and political revolution, preferring social revolution; he was even suspicious of the use of revolutionary
trade unions, as anarcho-syndicalists advocate.
His constant work as an organizer and speaker embodied his ideals of free association: for Malatesta, it was useful to join an organization only for the purpose of "doing" something with that group of people. There was no sense in belonging to a group simply to belong.
Malatesta was a committed revolutionary: he believed that the anarchist revolution was coming soon, and that
violencewould be a necessary part of it since the staterested ultimately on violent coercion. As he wrote in his article "The Revolutionary 'Haste'":
:"It is our aspiration and our aim that everyone should become socially conscious and effective; but to achieve this end, it is necessary to provide all with the means of life and for development, and it is therefore necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence which denies these means to the workers." ("
Umanità Nova", number 125, September 6, 1921[ [http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/anarchists/malatesta/rev_haste.html The revolutionary haste by Errico Malatesta ] at flag.blackened.net] )
Malatesta, then, advocated violence as a "necessary" part of the emancipation of the
La Révolte" (with Kropotkin and others)
La Questione Sociale"
*" [http://www.ecn.org/uenne/archivio.html Umanità Nova] "
Pensiero e Volontà"
References in other media
Refusedsong, "Protest Song '68", contains a reference to Errico Malatesta. "I breathe in, I create, Rewoke the spirit '68. I breathe out, I scream. Rewoke Malatesta's dream."
Errico Malatesta - His Life And Ideas", compiled and edited by Vernon Richards( Freedom Press, 1984)
*"Fra Contadini - A Dialogue On Anarchy", Errico Malatesta (originally published 1884; republished by Bratach Dubh Editions, 1981)
*"Anarchy", Errico Malatesta, translated by Vernon Richards (Freedom press 1974)
*" [http://ludd.net/~adamw/malatesta/ Life of Malatesta] ",
Luigi Fabbri, translated by Adam Wight (originally published 1936)
At The Cafe - Conversations on Anarchism", Errico Malatesta (" Freedom Press", 2005)
Anarchism Or Democracy?", Errico Malatesta and Francesco Merlino, 1974
*imdb title|0069215|San Michele aveva un gallo (1972), loosely based on Malatesta's life
* [http://recollectionbooks.com/bleed/Encyclopedia/MalatestaErrico.htm Errico Malatesta Page] at the Anarchist Encyclopedia
* [http://dwardmac.pitzer.edu/Anarchist_Archives/malatesta/Malatestaarchive.html Collected works, images and biography]
* [http://www.marxists.org/archive/malatesta/index.htm Malatesta archive] at Marxists Internet Archive
* [http://flag.blackened.net/revolt/anarchists/malatesta.html Articles by and about Malatesta]
* [http://www.libcom.org/library/errico-malatesta Libcom.org Malatesta Archive]
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