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History of Italian Anarchism

Links (English)

Luigi Galleani

Links (Italiano)

Alessandro Marianelli (1983). "Avanti Siam Ribelli": Immagini e Documenti del Movimento Anarchico a Pisa dalla Comune Di Parigi All'Abvvento del Fascism (1871-1922).

D'Andrea, Virgilia (1929). Tormento, con prefazione di Errico Malatesta [pdf]



"ANARQUISMO Y POLITICA: Relectura antológica y biografica de Camillo Berneri," por Stefano d'Errico

Biblioteca Franco Serantini (largest anarchist library in Italy)

Carlo Pisacane


Horst Fantazzini

Marianelli, Alessandro (1983). "Avanti Siam Rebelli": Immagini e documenti del moviemento anarchico a Pisa dalla Comune di Parigi all'avvento del fascismo (1871-1925)". Pisa: Circolo Culturale Biblioteca F. Serantini.

The earliest signs of anarchism in Italy appeared in the 1850's and 1860's. Anarchists emerged from the dominant republican and nationalist movement of the time period which was headed by the important historical figures Giuseppe Garibaldi and Giuseppe Mazzini. In this initial stage, Proudhon's ideas were the most influential, but later Bakunin and other Russians had a strong effect on the movement. The first Italian anarchists were said to be those representing the country in Bakunin's International Brotherhood founded in the mid-1860's. They were Giuseppe Fanelli, whose primary contribution to the advancement of anarchism was his involvement in the Spanish revolution, and Carlo Gambuzzi.

In 1869, the Italian section of the International Brotherhood was disbanded and became part of the International Working Men's Association. From this time, the Italian movement swelled. In the early 1870's, new anarchists entered the arena: Carlo Cafiero, Andrea Costa, and Errico Malatesta. In keeping with the emphasis within the Italian movement on "propaganda by the deed" (propaganda dei fatti), Costa and Malatesta set out in 1874 to use insurrection as a means of bringing down the state. While this particular attempt failed, the strategy remained a central part of the repertoire of the Italian anarchists and indeed during the 1880's its influence could be seen in other parts of Europe, particularly France and Spain.

After several failed uprisings and a few acts of terror committed by various individuals, the movement was repressed, and Cafiero and Malatesta went into exile. Cafiero and Costa gave up on insurrectionism and turned to social democracy which reflected a fundamental and overall shift of the Italian labor movement. Malatesta remained active in the International as well as in the Italian movement, though not as prominent as before. The national congresses of the anarchist movement continued to take place but without continuous organization. However, despite socialism being the dominant ideology, the presence of anarchist ideas was still felt in the working class culture.

In 1906, the Confederazione Generale di Lavoro (CGL) was formed to centralize and control the local Chambers of Labor. Six years later, in 1912, the Unione Sindacale Italiana (USI) broke away espousing anarchist-inspired syndicalism. By 1919, it was fairly sizeable though dispersed through multiple regions. Despite attempts at worker control and self-governing, World War I and the more reformist CGL prevented the USI from ever really consolidating its strength. In the early 1920's fascism came along and it saw to anarchism's decline. The anarchists could not rally a enough of a defense in response to fascism's takeover.

After that, anarchism did not reappear in significant form until long after World War II. In the 1970's, students and some of the middle class began to take up its ideas in Italy once more. In 1983, the USI returned demonstrating that long-dormant anarchist ideas still have a place in Italian society.


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