Anarchism and the historians

MR. JAMES JOLL’S RECENTLY PUBLISHED BOOK on The Anarchists, in spite of the “rave” notices it has received, is neither a work of scholarship nor a work of political criticism which will convince anarchists or be taken into consideration by serious writers who undoubtedly will deal with the same subject in the future. We obviously must comment on Mr. Joll’s book, because as anarchists engaged in propagating our ideas what he has to say has an immediate impact on our work, favourable or unfavourable. If I thought the impact a favourable one I would limit my contribution to encouraging the efforts his publisher are making to sell as many copies as possible. Because I think it a “bad” book I propose to use up as much space as the editor of ANARCHY will allow me to show that Mr. Joll’s book does not deserve the attention of people wanting to understand more about anarchism; that the reviewers who have showered their praises on it don’t really know what they are talking about, yet without creating the impression that we do not consider constructive criticism from outside and within the anarchist movement to be something valuable and necessary.

I

I have said that The Anarchists is not a work of scholarship, and I think this can be demonstrated in many ways. Firstly Mr. Joll presents a picture of anarchists and anarchist ideology in which no anarchist of the last fifty years would recognise either himself or the ideas he stands for:

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The beliefs of anarchists cannot be understood without an understanding of the political ideas they inherited from the Enlightenment. But their actions can often be explained only in terms of the psychology of religious belief (p27) … Yet, while anarchism presupposes the natural goodness of man, it is a doctrine that came to differ profoundly from the political ideas of the Enlightenment (p27) … “Man was born free and is everywhere in chains” becomes in fact, a first principle of anarchist thought. The idea of a happy primitive world, a state of nature in which, so far from being engaged in a struggle of all against all, men lived in a state of mutual cooperation, was to have wonderful appeal to anarchists of all kinds … The fundamental idea that man is by nature good and that it is institutions that corrupt him remains the basis of all anarchist thought … (p30) Godwin is a true anarchist in that he does not envisage property being exploited in common but simply that it should be available for whoever needs it (p34) Godwin remains an admirable example of the philosophical anarchist, a reminder of what anarchism owes to the doctrines of the Enlightenment, just as other anarchists after him provide examples of the apocalyptic, millenarian temperament which makes anarchism so similar to the religious heresies of the Middle Ages and Reformation (p39) In fact, the successful anarchist movements of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were based on a combination of men like Weitling himself—skilled, independent, self-educated artisans—and men in a state of social and economic desperation, like, for example, the landless labourers of Andalusia (pp56-7). Anarchism is necessarily a creed of all or nothing and consequently it has less success in countries where there is still a hope of winning something out of the existing system (p275) They have never … envisaged any intermediate stage between existing society and the total revolution of their dreams (p276). When it comes to the point, the anarchists are all agreed that in the new society man will live in extreme simplicity and frugality and will be quite content to do without the technical achievements of the industrial age. For this reason much anarchist thinking seems to be based on a romantic, backward-looking vision of an idealised past society, of artisans and peasants, and on a total rejection of the realities of twentieth century social and economic organisation. (p 277).

Secondly apart from containing no original research, Mr. Joll ’s book repeats the factual errors of other unoriginal historians as well as sowing his crop in the process of attempting to condense the material available. In this respect, since Mr. Joll invariably refers to his sources, he either expects that most readers won’t bother to check them for accuracy, in which case he is being dishonest, or he expects that they will, in which case he is an inaccurate, and therefore incompetent, historian, undeserving of the lavish praise his work has received. If Mr. Joll or his publishers will adequately compensate me for doing so, I will produce a detailed list of the factual errors or the inadmissable omissions that result from the telescoping of facts (that is: unimportant facts retained, important ones omitted), numbering, if one puts it as low as one on every page, something like 250 such errors. I will limit myself to one episode in Mr. Joll’s work which clearly illustrates two kinds of error of fact: the one important, the other of no material material importance to me as a layman, that is, so far as the finer points of historical research are concerned. Just as I admire and trust the single-mindedness and devotion of the real historian in his search for every detail that will complete the historical picture, but feel unable to follow in his footsteps, so I despise the phoneys who pose as serious historians, cluttering their texts with footnotes and source references to impress the reader that their facts are well founded, and am moved to expose them with the very sources they allege to be summarising. The passage from Mr. Joll’s book which I propose to analyse appears on pages 175-6, where he is describing an episode in the life of Malatesta, and is as follows:

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But it was the revolution in Europe, and especially in Italy, that was his main concern, and at the end of 1889 he returned to London, waiting for a chance to go back to Italy again. The chance seemed to have come early in 1897, at a time when bad harvests and rising prices had led to peasant revolts, and when, as a result of the demand for strong action against strikers and rioters, constitutional government seemed to be in danger. Actually,Malatesta was not able to play any part in the industrial and political struggles in Italy in 1898 and 1899, since he was arrested early in 1898. He had gone to the port of Ancona, where there was an active anarchist group among the dockers and several anarchist publications, and he had thrown himself into the cause of the anti-political revolution, opposing those anarchists such as Saverio Merlino who felt that in an emergency anarchists should participate in elections to support the liberal and social-democratic cause. It was a suggestion to which Malatesta’s firm reply, made after he was in prison, was: ‘I beg you not to make any use of my name in the electoral struggle fought by the socialists and republicans. I protest not only that it would be without my agreement, but also with my express disapproval.’ Malatesta was arrested after riots in Ancona and charged with ‘criminal association’—a charge, with its implication that anarchists were no better than common criminals, which brought a cry of rage from the international anarchist community. In the event, Malatesta and his friends were convicted of belonging to a ‘seditious association’; Malatesta was sentenced to imprisonment and sent to the island of Lampedusa. However, in May 1899, he succeeded in escaping in a boat during a storm and returned to London via Malta and Gibraltar.

I have not been able to consult Santarelli’s article from which Joll gathers that there were in Ancona both an active anarchist group and “several anarchist publications”. So far as the former is concerned there is no doubt. But the “several” publications seem to be figments of Mr. Joll’s imagination (or Santarelli’s), for Nettlau in his biography of Malatesta (Buenos Aires 1923) though he mentions a number of “ephemeral” anarchist publications in Ancona during the years 1885- 1896, makes no reference to publications in Ancona when Malatesta returned. Anyway, even assuming that there were, since Mr. Joll is writing about Malatesta’s activities at the time, is it not of importance to mention that he actually went to Ancona in 1897 to edit a weekly paper, l’Agitazione, which Fabbri, (possibly Malatesta’s closest collaborator as from that period, and author of the most important of the three works published on Malatesta—the others being those of Nettlau and Borghi—to which, surprisingly, Mr. Joll makes no reference in his notes) considers the most significant publication edited by him, both “historically and theoretically”? For Mr. Joll l’Agitazione is a detail of no importance.

“Malatesta was arrested after riots in Ancona … and sentenced to imprisonment and sent to the island of Lampedusa” writes Mr. Joll, summarising George Woodcock, who in his potted history of anarchism, was in turn summarising these details: Malatesta who had in fact been
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What the others said …

“Excellent, understanding, and scrupulously fair history of anarchist actions and beliefs. It is the best survey of the whole subject to appear … An easy, urbane style that is congenial company for the narrative.”
—THE TIMES

living clandestinely in Ancona, while editing the paper and maintaining contact with the movement, from March to November 1897, because he was still held liable to serve a 3-year prison sentence passed on him in 1883, was discovered, through no indiscretion on his part, and arrested. But by then he could no longer be held on the earlier charge and had to be released. He was, however, again arrested in January 1898 during a public demonstration and charged with “criminal association” which Joll writes “brought a cry of rage from the international anarchist community”. More accurately it brought a public manifesto, at the time of the trial four months later, signed by 3,000 Italian anarchists, in the name of many groups and anarchist circles, in which they declared their political beliefs and affirmed that they were members of a “party” and in complete agreement with the accused. More support come from all parts of the world.

The trial, not even mentioned by Joll lasted a week, and, according to Fabbri, was converted into a battle for public rights as well as an excellent medium for anarchist propaganda. In spite of the fact that the accused were found guilty and Malatesta received a seven months’ sentence, it was also a victory in that for the first time the right of anarchists to organise was legally recognised—which didn’t prevent the police from arresting them for “subversive activities” for which the penalties were less severe. But this didn’t last long (and only served to prove how right the anarchists were in not pinning their hopes to the law) for after serving his sentence, instead of being released, Malatesta was sentenced to five1 years of domicilio coatto—forced domicile, (a procedure similar to that applied recently to the Southern Rhodesian leader Joshua Nkhomo). Malatesta was first sent to the island of Ustica and when the government got wind of his intention to escape, it transferred him to the more “difficult” island of Lampedusa.

Now, what I have summarised in the preceding paragraph has been summed up by Mr. Joll in this memorable sentence: “In the event, Malatesta and his friends were convicted of belonging to a ‘seditious association’; Malatesta was sentenced to imprisonment and sent to the island of Lampedusa.”

As to Malatesta’s escape from Lampedusa I must confess I prefer Mr. Joll’s “In May 1899, he [Malatesta] succeeded in escaping in a boat during a storm and returned to London via Malta and Gibraltar” to Mr. Woodcock’s “one stormy day he and three of his comrades seized a boat and put out to sea in defiance of the high waves. They were lucky enough to be picked up by a ship on its way to Malta, whence Malatesta sailed to the United States” (Pelican edition pp329-330) or Max Nomad’s “His escape from that island has the true quality of high

1 According to Fabbri. Borghi, in his biography, gives it as four. Since Malatesta escaped after less than a year it is only of academic interest!

adventure. While a storm held the guard within doors, he and three comrades, daring what seemed like certain death, seized a small barge and put out to sea. Picked up by a steamer, they arrived safely in Malta and a short time later Malatesta was back in his refuge, London.” (Rebels and Renegades, New York 1932, p30).

The source of the Nomad-Woodcock-Joll versions would seem to be Nettlau who, both in the Italian and the revised Spanish edition of his biography of Malatesta, describes the escape in a one-sentence paragraph: “He escaped from the island of Lampedusa in a boat with three others during a storm. He reached Malta and from there to London (May 1899)”. If I pursue this matter further it is to show that these historians of anarchism (I exclude Nettlau of course) don’t even get to the bottom of the tit-bits with which they seek to enliven their “histories”, and not because I think the detail matters all that much. But for the sake of the self-appointed historians of anarchism, let it be noted that if Borghi is to be believed, then Malatesta and his friends landed in Tunisia. He quotes the Questione Sociale of May 27, 1899, announcing receipt of a letter from Malatesta informing them of his arrival there with “comrade Vivoli” with whom Borghi (in the old New York, but not in the post-war Milan, edition of his biography), recalls often discussing with amusement the escape long after the event, in 1917 in Florence. Fabbri, who discusses the escape in much greater detail than anybody mentions that Malatesta reached Malta but makes no mention of Tunisia. The escape during a storm, “seizing” of boats and the “guards within doors” all seem to be the products of the imagination of the historians in question. According to Fabbri, Malatesta and the “politicals” on the island had the complete sympathy of the governor who virtually let them do just as they liked “and closed his eyes to what went on.” Malatesta made his plans for escape carefully and unhurriedly. Not only did he find ways of establishing contact with the mainland, but Fabbri recounts that even the socialist Oddino Morgari, who visited the island in his capacity of Parliamentary Deputy, was privy to his plans. On the night of the escape Malatesta, Vivoli and a civilian detainee swam to a fishing boat anchored some way out with the Sicilian socialist Lovetere aboard, clambered on board and set sail. Question to the historians: Could they have done this, during the night, if a storm which “held the guards within doors” was raging? We leave the historians to battle over this one while I pass on to what I consider much more important and serious distortions in Mr. Joll’s treatment of the facts.
He refers, in the passage we have quoted above to “those anarchists
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What the others said …
“Mr. Joll has written a most careful, scholarly book, in which grace and learning sit easily together … Mr. Joll s book is full and complete, a fine work of history.”
—A. J. P. TAYLOR, THE OBSERVER

such as Saverio Merlino who felt that in an emergency anarchists should participate in elections to support the liberal and social democratic cause “knowing full well that by the time Malatesta returned to Italy, Merlino had already passed over to the socialist camp. According to Enzo Santarelli, in his critical study of Anarchist-Socialism in Italy,2 Merlino on his release from prison in February 1896 “immediately adopted a new position” and by the time Malatesta returned to Ancona in 1897 “Merlino had already taken up a parliamentary-socialist position (p106). Mr. Joll telescopes this whitewashing remark about Merlino with the quotation from Malatesta which he prefaces by “It was a suggestion to which Malatesta’s firm reply, made after he was in prison, was etc …” Now not only was this reply not directed to Merlino (who was by then in the parliamentary socialist camp), nor to Mr. Joll’s “anarchists such as Saverio Merlino who felt etc …”, but to the socialist journal l’Avanti. And what Malatesta told them makes no sense as it stands because Mr. Joll omits the kernel of his protest. I quote the text of Malatesta’s protest to l’Avanti quoted by Borghi from the version reprinted by La Questione Sociale of Patterson, New Jersey, January 14, 1899 (Mr. Joll, in what A. J. P. Taylor referred to as his “pioneer work” is content with quoting Malatesta to l’Avanti via Questione Sociale and Borghi—how thorough are our historians!), “I beg you not to make use of my name in the electoral struggles which are being fought by socialists and republicans; and in the event that anyone should insist in nominating me as a candidate I protest that not only would it be without my consent but with my expressed disapproval.”

Having restored the full text, it should be pointed out that the letter to l’Avanti was in consequence of the inclusion of Malatesta’s name by the socialists in their list of candidates for the municipal elections in Rimini, and that such were the means commonly resorted to by the political parties to set free their imprisoned leaders. It is clear that Malatesta was quite prepared to face more years of “forced domicile” than seek the loophole of parliamentary immunity.

The fact that Mr. Joll disregards it; the fact that the Merlino-Malatesta polemic on the parliamentary tactic had been largely conducted through the columns of the weekly3 which, according to Mr. Joll either did not exist or was not worth mentioning, does not mean that he ignores the facts but that he suppresses those that do not fit into his scheme of things. And of course he adds those that support it even if sometimes they strike one as irrelevant to the context. Note in the passage reproduced above Mr. Joll’s gratuitous piece of information: “Actually, Malatesta was not able to play any part in the industrial and political struggles in Italy in 1898 and 1899, since he was

2 Enzo Santarelli: Il socialismo anarchico in Italia (Milan 1959)
3 and which has been collected in pamphlet form: Anarchismo e democrazia (Roma-Centro 1949)

arrested in 1898” but he says nothing about the important work he did during 1897 under the most difficult of all conditions.

II

Apart from the factual distortions and errors—and I have dealt with one composite example in some detail rather than list them page by page—Mr. Joll’s book suffers from the same major fault as Woodcock’s Anarchism, that of presenting the anarchist movement as a 19th century phenomenon which has been left behind, historically and ideologically. Like Woodcock he therefore tends to over-estimate the real importance of the anarchist movements in the ’80s and ’90s and to write it off in the first two decades of the 20th century. Mr. Joll’s thesis is that the anarchists have “never made a successful revolution” and he seeks to show that this is the result of all kinds of flaws and inconsistencies in anarchist ideas as well as an inherent inability of anarchists to adjust to the modern world. Anarchism appealed to the downtrodden, poverty-stricken peasants as a kind of faith; anarchism is a philosophy of austerity, a kind of religion which would appeal to simple-minded peasants etc … This fanciful picture overlooks the fact that the countries where anarchist ideas had their greatest appeal in the 19th century, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland, were also the countries where revolutionary socialism too had its greatest appeal. What strikes one about the late 19th century is in fact the passionate interest in the discussion of social ideas that took place in these countries. Marx as well as Bakunin, met their Waterloos in the political fog of Britain. And to this day the pattern remains valid, with the one difference that, compared with the 19th century, the revolutionary socialist movement has disappeared, swallowed up in political compromise, its leaders emasculated by their own authoritarian theories on power. The anarchists, it would be more true to say, have not only never made a “successful” revolution: they have never made a revolution. And the chances of doing so in the 19th century were theoretically as remote as they are today. What Mr. Joll has not understood, or has at any rate left completely undiscussed in his book is what anarchists mean by an “anarchist revolution”. And this he could have done better than Woodcock since he indicates that for him, unlike Woodcock, the writings of Malatesta presented no language problems.

At the end of his chapter on Bakunin he writes

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In Professor Franco Venturi’s words: ‘Bakunin succeeded in making a revolutionary mentality rather than a revolutionary organisation.’ As during the next twenty years, revolutionaries began to think of new methods of effective action, the revolutionary mentality often seemed in some places and circumstances more effective than a revolutionary organisation. (p114)

.

But a few pages further on he argues that at the end of the 19th century “the man with the strongest claim to occupy the position left vacant on Bakunin’s death” was Kropotkin and not “others who occupied a similar position [to Bakunin’s] in the eyes of the police and their own followers.” This is, in my opinion, a wrong evaluation of the respective roles of Malatesta and Kropotkin in the anarchist movement.

Kropotkin discovered the anarchist movement, such as it was, in 1872 when he was nearly 30, and his years as a revolutionary agitator ended by 1886 when he settled in London. From then to his death in 1921 his role was that of “the sage and the prophet”, and his influence “evolutionary” rather than “revolutionary”. In 1872, Malatesta at the age of 19 had already been a year in the International, had become Bakunin’s collaborator and animator of the Naples section. Malatesta remained a revolutionary agitator and propagandist for nearly sixty years, closely in touch, when not involved personally, with the revolutionary movements, not only the anarchists, throughout Europe and the Americas. His writings are almost all concerned with practical problems, and nowhere does one find him indulging in what Mr. Joll calls Kropotkin’s “simple childlike optimism.”

To have followed the Malatesta rather than the Kropotkin current would have clearly upset Mr. Joll’s preconceived plans (as well as obliged him to leave the well-trodden path laid by his predecessors and be involved in some original research). His stubborn refusal to accord the proper historic importance to the Malatesta current is so well demonstrated in the second paragraph of his chapter on “The Revolution that Failed”:

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Malatesta later remembered Kropotkin saying to him: ‘My dear Errico, I am afraid we are alone, you and I, in believing that the revolution is near’. In fact even Kropotkin sometimes doubted it, but Malatesta never lost his revolutionary enthusiasm and temperament.

The reference comes from Malatesta’s long article on Kropotkin written in 1931, a document of great importance for any serious historian wishing to place the anarchist movement in correct perspective, because it was the first time Malatesta had openly expressed some of his fundamental differences with Kropotkin’s approach. Mr. Joll seizes the tit-bit and ignores the many important points made in that article. The tit-bit was a recollection of the 1880s when, as Malatesta points out, “we saw things with rose-tinted spectacles—alas, much too rosy.” But the reason for this recollection was to emphasise that Kropotkin went on looking at the problems in this way, whereas he, Malatesta, didn’t. He adds, “It must not be thought that we shared the same opinions on all things. On the contrary, on many fundamental ideas, we were far from being in agreement, and we rarely met without heated and noisy arguments arising between us …” And one of these was that Kropotkin “did not see the material difficulties [to be overcome in a revolutionary situation] or if he did, easily swept them aside … he considered as existing or immediately realisable that which must be won by hard and sustained struggle.”
Again, if one wishes to present the anarchists as anti-organisers,

it is easy enough to “prove” one’s thesis by overstressing the importance of the individualists and the terrorists, and overlooking all the patient work of thousands of anarchists throughout the world during the present century to propagate their ideas and to exert their influence whenever opportunities occur, among them Malatesta, whose whole active life was proof not of the “all or nothing” picture presented by Joll, but of the patient, tenacious revolutionary aware that nothing will be achieved except by “hard and sustained struggle.” Joll instead presents Malatesta, in the chapter on “Anarchists and Syndicalists” as “accepting some degree of organisation” and asserting that he “like Proudhon, thought that it was the autonomy of small social groups rather than of individuals that was important” but as being worried by the emergence of the syndicalist movement because of the possibility of it “dividing the working class.” I am beginning to suspect that Mr. Joll is more confused than “wicked”! The anarchist organisation is one thing, the organisation of workers to fight for their economic demands is another, and a workers’ organisation which incorporates the short-term wage and conditions demand and the long-term transformation of the social and economic basis of society is a third. Readers of ANARCHY who also read its weekly sister journal will recall that Malatesta’s views were published at some length in FREEDOM quite recently.

III

I must mention Mr. Joll’s chapter on Spain, if only briefly, because the importance of the anarchist movement there as late as 1936-39 is obviously a hard nut to crack for our historian. How explain why the corpse which he, Woodcock and the Marxist historians before them, have declared was buried in the ’90s, emerges in Spain with more vigour than anywhere in the world, and, equally important, more vigorously in Spain at that time than at any time in its previous history. Mr. Joll’s conclusions are that

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the real achievement of the anarchist leaders during the few years between Fanelli’s arrival and the restoration of the Bourbons was not just that they had begun to influence the urban workers of an industrial centre like Barcelona, and to practise the revolutionary strike some thirty years before the development of anarcho-syndicalist doctrine in France. The most remarkable fact about Spanish anarchism was its appeal to the most depressed and desperate section of the whole population—the landless workers and the small peasants of the South. It was this combination of the artisans and workers in the most advanced industrial areas with the desperately poor rural masses, whom Bakunin had seen as the best material for revolution, that gave the anarchist movement its broad basis of support and its widespread appeal. (p229).

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What the others said …
“James Joll has written an urbane, understanding, well-documented study of the movement … Mr. Joll makes it clear that most of the leading anarchists were a bit cracked …”
—JOHN LEHMANN, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

So now the “remarkable achievement” by the Spanish anarchists is not in influencing the urban workers which the Marxists saw as their preserve, but of influencing “the landless workers and poor peasants of the South”! Yet the whole argument of those who write on anarchism to bury it and not to praise it, is that with the disappearance of the latter it has lost its chance of succeeding. Obviously it is a poor argument and Woodcock’s facile explanation that the success of the anarchists in Catalonia is due to the fact that their support came from the Andalusian peasants who had emigrated there is not very convincing especially when you have been to Catalan towns and villages (which “went anarchist” in 1936) where up to ten years ago Andalusians were as rare specimens as were English tourists.

It seems to me that the historians of anarchism not only fall into the trap of historical determinism, but seem to lack the imagination to assess the positive ingredients of an idea that will eventually commend itself to a growing section of the community, and possibly this is because historians are themselves élitistes and close their eyes and their feelings to the creative capacities and initiative of the “masses” as demonstrated in the opening stages of revolutionary upheavals or in time of war (for example in resistance movements or citizen action during the bombing of civilian populations in the last war). Richard Drinnon in the introduction to his biography of Emma Goldman puts his finger on the reason why his work is valuable but also on why most histories can be picked up on the sixpenny market stalls, when he quotes his subject’s comment that “if you do not feel a thing, you will never guess its meaning.

Marxism was a theory of social justice which was to be imposed autocratically. Anarchism is also a theory of social justice, but one which is distinguished from Marxism in that its means are based on a profound understanding of the practical realities of power in all its human manifestations. Mr. Joll’s phrase “The Revolution that Failed “reminds me of that unhappy symposium published a few years back on The God that Failed, the pathetic mea culpas of those who had backed the wrong (Russian-Communist) horse in their youth and who in middle age became pillars of the Establishment. There are no anarchists among these penitents because those who discover the anarchist idea learn something which they never unlearn, whether in due course, they become trade-union leaders, capitalists, parliamentary socialists, or individualists. They learn not to rest their hopes in Gods and “supermen”. If Mr. Joll had really bothered to know and to understand the psychology of anarchists he might well have started to understand the

What the others said …
“Admirable combination of serious history and social irony.”
—KENNETH ALLSOP, DAILY MAIL

source of their strength and survival in a world where the “Gods” are failing all around us as well as pinpointing the reasons for the fortunes of the anarchists as a movement.

Before I get too old to see the wood for the trees, I would like to, make a few comments which I think are objective. The strength of the anarchist idea is that even before the advent of psychology as a recognised science, it understood and applied it to both the ends and means which are comprised in anarchy and anarchism. Anarchism is both a short-term individual philosophy and the basis of a long-term programme of social and economic organisation applicable on a large-, world-wide, or national scale. I and thousands of anarchists throughout the world—there are probably more anarchists in the world today than at any time in the 19th century—remain convinced by the arguments because its so-called negative criticisms of capitalist and authoritarian society in general help us to create our own raison d’être as individuals, while neither the dangling carrots of capitalist affluence in the present, nor Christian spiritual affluence in the “hereafter” offer satisfactory alternatives.

It is probably for this reason and the fact that most anarchists see the achievement of the long-term objectives of anarchism as too great a task for them to tackle alone, that there are many more anarchists in the world than anarchist propagandists. And when one seeks the reasons why the anarchist movement has been successful in some countries, within the limits that any anarchist movement can be “successful”, rather than apply the Marxist argument which just doesn’t hold water, one can link the success to the sustained efforts of successive groups of propagandists and militants who have sowed the idea far and wide. It is certainly the case in Spain, the most successful of anarchist successes. And it is also certainly true that if no anarchist movements exist in the new countries of Africa, or in India it is because we have lost the spirit of the Bakunins and the Malatestas, the first Internationalists who saw the question of social revolution and propaganda as an International one, and who would have seen to it that they or another Fanelli were available to sow the seeds of anarchy in their midst.

Anarchists today have many things to learn about propaganda from these men of the past. Unfortunately it will not be by reading Mr. Joll’s account of them.
V.R.
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What the others said …
“The dustbin of history contains some attractive scraps.”
—PHILIP WILLIAMS, NEW STATESMAN

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Reddebrek
Mar 21 2019 19:09

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Anarchy: a journal of anarchist ideas

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