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(E) Malatesta and Gabriele D'Annunzio

From: Research on Anarchism List <>

Date: 18 May 1997 08:50:34 UTC (04:50:34 AM in author's locale)
Malatesta's relation with the Italian writer D'Annunzio is
historically unclear. It is quite possible that they never met, and even if
that were the case there would have been no problem, since at the time the
issue of who was and who was not a fascist was far from being clear.
D'Annunzio was a frustrated nationalist, who expressed the Italians'
postwar disappointment by occupying, with his 'legionnaires', the city of
Fiume which Italy had claimed without any success. He was disavowed by the
nationalists and turned to the left. That was only a temporary action,
because nothing came out of it, and after Mussolini's march on Rome he
joined the fascist movement.
Yet the whole story is fascinating because it raises historical
questions, but also important anarchist and ethical issues : - should
anarchists remain between themselves or can they work with other groups,
such as the socialists, and if so on what grounds ? - when a country is in
a state of turmoil, can one resort to illegality (violence here is not at
stake) - can anything be done when the anarchist movement is slandered ?
To continue our discussion, here are some additional comments, for
which I thank Gaetano Manfredonia, a historian already mentioned in a
previous mail. The translation of the texts are by him, the eventual
mistakes are mine.
There are two articles by Malatesta that are related to this issue.
II. 'Se la facessero finita' ['If they could keep their mouths shut'],
Umanita nova No. 42 du 16 avril 1920, repr. in p. 53 of Malatesta's
_Scritti_, Geneva (Switzerland) : Editions du Reveil :
'the gossip and insinuations about my political activity, by some
Socialists, are going on and increasing. I don't understand why, or rather
I understand it only too well. Some comrades, that are irritated by this
jesuitical behavior, have asked me to react. I consider this as a laughing
matter, or rather I would like to have a good laugh at it, if I were not
left speechless with disgust.
My behavior is obvious and without any shadiness. I labor uniquely
and exclusively for the triumph of anarchist ideas and whatever might be
useful for the progress of those ideas is discussed with my comrades and
not with the others.
Without having any preconceived ideas against plotting or lending a
hand to someone, I think that in the present situation things are working
out by themselves and that, in the present times, the anarchists' mission
is to try to steer the course in our direction. That's why I don't only
This having been said, if the situation were to change, and if with
my comrades I would judge that the time has come when it would be useful to
conspire, then I would pray our good cousins [the socialists] not to fink
on us and I hope that they would do their best to avoid what might be or
what might look like a denunciation to the government of any subversive
activity whatever".
>From this first article, it appears that Malatesta
a) accuses the socialists of jesuitism, that is to say of acting
hypocritically. This indicates that their indignation is in bad faith. What
may be such a bad faith we'll see in a moment.
b) that he is absolutely not hostile to the idea of a conspiration if "the
moment has come".
II. And here is the second article, even more explicit :