A short biography of leading Italian anarchist militant Errico Malatesta.
"Anarchism is organisation, organisation, and more organisation."
Errico Malatesta, who coined the unambiguous phrase above, was born on December 14, 1853. He dedicated his life to the anarchist cause, joining the Italian section of the First International Working Men's Association in 1871, shortly after the Paris Commune uprising, and dying on July 22 1932 while under arrest ordered by Mussolini.
In the intervening years he was involved in insurrections, strikes and near revolution. Though forced to spend many years in prison and in exile, he was an outstanding organiser, agitator, writer, and editor. He was one of the most famous revolutionaries of his time, an icon of freedom for the Italian working class movement.
Malatesta effectiveness is shown in this police report:
“Malatesta’s return from London was the signal for a reawakening of the anarchist movement in Ancona ... Malatesta immediately set about reorganising it. He made revolutionary propaganda at meetings and gatherings; by leaflets and through articles in the weekly Volonta ...
... In a short time in Ancona, anarchists and sympathisers number some 600 individuals, consisting predominantly of dock porters, workers, and criminal elements of the town. ... his qualities as an intelligent, combative speaker who seeks to persuade with calm, and never with violent, language, are used to the full to revive the already spent forces of the party, and to win converts and sympathisers, never losing sight of his principle goal, which is to draw together the forces of the party, and undermine the bases of the State, by hindering its workings, paralyse its services, and doing anti-militarist propaganda, until the favourable occasion arises to overturn and destroy the existing State”.
The “Red Week” occurred shortly after Malatesta’s return: armed battles with the police took place, a general strike was declared, and in many areas autonomous communes were proclaimed. Sadly, when the reformist unions called the strike off, the government was able to re-assert its authority, and Malatesta returned to exile.
There is only a small amount of his writing translated into English, but the clarity and strength of his arguments make many of them seem refreshingly relevant today.
By the Anarchist Federation