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l am always somewhat embaiiassed when l begin a talk, at least to
stait with. And this embaiiassment incieases in the case of what we
mistakenly call confeiences, oi as one moie modestly tiies to camouage
them, confeience-debates. Aei all, it is a question of someone tuining
up fiom elsewheie, peihaps fiom anothei geneiation, as though they
have iained in fiom the past. Someone who stands in this classioom
to give a talk and stiangely, even dangeiously, iesembles those who
hammei youi biains with quite dieient intentions. lf you listen caiefully
howevei you will nd that, beyond appeaiances, theie is a consideiable
dieience in the concepts l am about to outline.
e ist of these concepts takes the foim of a question What is
anaichism` lt might seem stiange that l should take up such a pioblem
in this situation as l know foi ceitain that theie aie many anaichists
heie, because l know them peisonally. And if nothing else, anaichists
should at least know what anaichism is. Yet it is necessaiy to take up the
question What is anaichism` time and time again. Even in a few woids.
Why is that` is does not noimally happen in othei expiessions of life,
in othei activities oi ideas that dene themselves with some foundation
to be something oi othei.
So anaichists keep asking themselves the same question What is
anaichism` What does it mean to be an anaichist` Why` Because it
is not a denition that can be made once and foi all, put in a safe and
consideied a heiitage to be tapped lile by lile. Being an anaichist does
not mean one has ieached a ceitainty oi said once and foi all, eie,
fiom now on l hold the tiuth and as such, at least fiom the point of view
of the idea, l am a piivileged peison. Anyone who thinks like this is an
anaichist in woid alone. lnstead the anaichist is someone who ieally
puts themselves in doubt as such, as a peison, and asks themselves What
is my life accoiding to what l do and in ielation to what l think` What
connection do l manage to make each day in eveiything l do, a way of
being an anaichist continually and not come to agieements, make lile
daily compiomises, etc` Anaichism is not a concept that can be locked
up in a woid like a giavestone. lt is not a political theoiy. lt is a way
of conceiving life, and life, young oi old as we may be, whethei we aie
old people oi childien, is not something nal it is a stake we must play
day aei day. When we wake up in the moining and put oui feet on
the giound we must have a good ieason foi geing up, if we dont it
makes no dieience whethei we aie anaichists oi not. We might as
well stay in bed and sleep. And to have a good ieason we must know
what we want to do because foi anaichism, foi the anaichist, theie is
no dieience between what we do and what we think, but theie is a
continual ieveisal of theoiy into action and action into theoiy. at is
what makes the anaichist unlike someone who has anothei concept of
life and ciystallises this concept in a political piactice, in political theoiy.
is is what is not noimally said to you, this is what you nevei iead in
the newspapeis, this is what is not wiien in books, this is what school
jealously keeps quiet about, because this is the seciet of life nevei
evei sepaiate thought fiom action, the things we know, the things we
undeistand, fiom the things we do, the things with which we caiiy out
oui actions.
Heie is what distinguishes a politician fioman anaichist ievolutionaiy.
Not the woids, not the concepts and, allow me, in ceitain aspects not
even the actions because it is not theii extieme let us say iadical
conclusion in aack that dieientiates and chaiacteiises actions. lt is
not even accuiacy in the choice of objective that qualies them but it is
the way in which the peison, the comiade who caiiies out these actions,
succeeds in making them become an expiessive moment of theii lives,
a specic chaiacteiisation, meaning, quality of life, joy, desiie, beauty,
not the piactical iealisation, not the sullen iealisation of a deed that is
moitally an end in itself and enables one to say, l have done something
today fai fiom myself, at the peiipheiy of my existence.
eie, that is one dieience. And fiomthis dieience anothei emeiges,
a consideiable one in my opinion. Anyone who thinks that things to be
done aie outside ouiselves and aie iealised as a numbei of successes and
failuies life is a staiicase, at times you go up, at times you go down.
eie aie times when things go well, and times when they go badly.
eie, whoevei thinks life is made up of such things foi example, the
classic guie of the demociatic politician (foi goodness sake, someone
you can talk to, a fiiendly guy, toleiant who has a peimissive side to
him, believes in piogiess, in the futuie, in a beei society, in fieedom)
well, a peison like this, piobably not weaiing a double-bieasted jacket,
no tie, so casual, a peison who close up looks like a comiade and who
himself declaies he is a comiade, this peison could veiy well be a cop, it
makes no dieience. Why not` eie aie demociatic policemen, the eia
of unifoim iepiession is ovei, iepiession has fiiendly aspects today, they
iepiess us with lots of biilliant ideas. How can we identify this peison
then, this demociat, how can we iecognise him` And if he pulls the
wool ovei oui eyes to pievent us fiom seeing him, how can we defend
ouiselves fiom him` We can identify him thiough this fact that foi him
life is iealisation, his life is made up of doing things, a quantitative doing
that unfolds befoie his eyes, and nothing else.
When we talk to someone we cannot ask to see theii membeiship
caid. eii ideas oen make us end up totally confused and unable to
undeistand anything because we aie all nice, piogiessive chaeiboxes
and all piaise the beauty of toleiance and such like. How can we see that
we have an enemy befoie us, the woist of oui enemies` Because at least
we could defend ouiselves fiom the old fascist. He hit out, and if we weie
capable of it we hit him back, haidei. Now things have changed, the
situation has changed. lt can even be dicult to sh out a fascist thug
today. But the individual we aie tiying to desciibe, this demociat that
we nd all ovei the place, in school, Pailiament, in the stieets oi in the
policemans unifoim, a judge oi a doctoi, this fellow heie is oui enemy
because he consideis life in a dieient way to the way we considei it,
because foi him life is anothei kind of life, is not oui life, because foi
him we aie extiateiiestiials and l dont see why we should considei him
to be an inhabitant of oui planet eithei. is is the dividing line between
us. Because his concept of life is of a quantitative natuie, because he
measuies things like success oi, if you like, failuie, but always fiom the
quantitative point of view and we measuie them dieiently and that is
what we should be thinking about in what way does life have a dieient
meaning foi us, a meaning that is qualitatively dieient`
So, this amiable gentleman wieaks ciiticism upon us and says, Yes,
anaichists aie good people but they aie ineectual. What have they
evei done in histoiy` What State has evei been anaichist` Have they
evei iealised goveinment without a goveinment` lsnt a fiee society, an
anaichist society, a society without powei, a contiadiction` And this
ciitical iock that ciashes down on us is ceitainly consistent, because in
fact if you look closely at anywheie that anaichists got neai to iealising
theii utopia of a fiee society such as in Spain oi Russia, if you look
at them closely, you nd these constiuctions aie somewhat open to
ciiticism. ey aie ceitainly ievolutions, but they aie not libeitaiian
ievolutions, they aie not anaichy.
So, when these gentlemen say, You aie utopians, you anaichists aie
dieameis, youi utopia would nevei woik, we must ieply, Yes, its tiue,
anaichism is a tension, not a iealisation, not a conciete aempt to biing
about anaichy tomoiiow moining. But we must also be able to say but
you, distinguished demociatic gentlemen in goveinment that iegulate
oui lives, that think you can get into oui heads, oui biains, that govein
us thiough the opinions that you foim daily in youi newspapeis, in the
univeisities, schools, etc., what have you gentlemen accomplished` A
woild woith living in` Oi a woild of death, a woild in which life is a at
aaii, devoid of any quality, without any meaning to it` A woild wheie
one ieaches a ceitain age, is about to get ones pension, and asks oneself,
But what have l done with my life` What has been the sense of living
all these yeais`
ats what you have accomplished, that is what youi demociacy is,
youi idea of the people. You aie goveining a people, but what does
people mean` Who aie the people` Aie they peihaps that small, not
even veiy signicant, pait who vote, go to the elections, vote foi you,
nominate a minoiity which in tuin nominates anothei minoiity even
smallei than the ist that goveins us in the name of the law` But what
aie these laws if not the expiession of the inteiests of a small minoiity
specically aimed in the ist place at beneting theii own peispectives
of eniichment, the ie-enfoicing of theii powei and so on`
You govein in the name of a powei, a foice that comes fiom what`
liom an abstiact concept, you have iealised a stiuctuie you think can
be impioved uponX X X But how, in what way has it evei been impioved
in histoiy` What condition aie we aie living in today if not a condition
of death, of a aening of quality` is is the ciitique we need to thiow
back at the suppoiteis of demociacy. lf we anaichists aie utopians, we
aie so as a tension towaids quality, if demociats aie utopians, they
aie so as a ieduction towaids quantity. And against ieduction, against
the atiophy lived in a dimension of the minimum possible damage foi
them and the maximum damage foi the gieat numbei of people who

aie exploited, to this miseiable ieality we oppose oui utopia which is at

least a utopia of quality, a tension towaids anothei futuie, one that will
be iadically dieient to what we aie living now.
So all the iemaiks made by anyone who talks to you in the name of
political iealism, men of State, teacheis (who aie the seivants of men
of State), theoiists, jouinalists, all the intellectuals who pass thiough
classiooms like this and in theii speechifying talk with the calm, toleiant
woids of the iealist, state that in any case nothing else is possible, ieality
is what it is, it is necessaiy to make saciices, theie, these people aie
swindling you. ey aie swindling you because you can do something
else, because any one of us is capable of iising up in the name of oui
wounded dignity befoie such a swindle. Because any one of us can iealise
that we have been swindled, because we have nally iealised what is
being done to oui detiiment. And in iising up against it all we can change
not only the ieality of things within the limits that it is possible to know
them, but also ones life, make it woithy of being lived. One can get up
in the moining, put ones feet on the giound, look in the miiioi and say
to oneself, At last l have managed to change things, at least as fai as l
am conceined and feel one is a peison woithy of living his oi hei life,
not a puppet in the hands of a puppeteei you cant even see well enough
to spit in theii face.
So that is why anaichists keep coming back to the question of what
anaichism is. Because anaichism is not a political movement. Oi iathei
it is, but only in a minoi aspect. e fact that the anaichist movement
piesents itself histoiically as a political movement does not mean that
this exhausts all the anaichist potential foi life. Anaichism does not
iesolve itself in the Cuneo anaichist gioup, oi gioups in Tuiin, London
oi anywheie else. at is not anaichism. Of couise theie aie anaichists
theie, oi at least one should assume theie aie, the kind of comiades who
have begun theii own insuiiection individually, have become awaie of
the context of obligation and coeicion that they aie foiced to live in.
But anaichism is not just that, it is also a tension, the quality of life, the
stiength we manage to diaw out of ouiselves, the capacity to change the
ieality of things. Anaichismis the whole of this pioject of tiansfoimation
linked to what we iealise in ouiselves when we biing about oui own
peisonal tiansfoimation. So it is not a quantiable fact that can be

histoiicised. Noi is it an event that will simply occui in the couise

of time, appeaiing thiough paiticulai theoiies, people, movements as
well as, why not, piecise ievolutionaiy acts. eie is always something
moie than the sum of these elements, and it is this something moie that
continues to make anaichism live on in othei ways.
So we continually need to maintain a ielationship between this tension
towaids something absolutely othei, the unthinkable, the unsayable, a
dimension we must iealise without veiy well knowing how to, and the
daily expeiience of the things we can and do, do. A piecise ielationship
of change, of tiansfoimation.
e ist example that comes to mind on this question is anothei
contiadictoiy element. ink of the concept behind the statement theie
aie pioblems to be solved. is is a classic phiase. We all have pioblems
to solve. Life itself is a pioblem to be solved. Living is a pioblem, oui
social conditions, having to bieak thiough the ciicle that iestiicts us,
iight to simple eveiyday goings on. We considei all this to be a pioblem.
And heiein lies the gieat misundeistanding. Why` e stiuctuies that
oppiess us (l think many of those piesent heie aie students) maintain that
pioblems can be solved and that they can solve them foi us. Moieovei,
they use the example of pioblems that aie solved in geometiy, mathe-
matics, etc.. But this kind of pioblem, the pioblems of mathematics that
aie piesented as iesolvable aie false pioblems, they aie not ieally solved
at all. e answeis to them aie simply a iepetition of the same pioblem
in anothei foim, in technical teims, a tautology. One says one thing
and answeis by iepeating the same thing anothei way. So, basically, the
pioblem is not solved at all, it is meiely iepeated.
And when we talk of solving a pioblem that involves the lives of all
of us, oui daily existence, we aie talking of questions of such complexity
that they cannot be ieduced to a simple iestatement of the pioblem
itself. Take, foi example, the pioblem of the police. e existence of
the police constitutes a pioblem foi many of us. eie can be no doubt
that the policeman is an instiument of iepiession used by the State to
pievent us fiom doing ceitain things. How do you solve such a pioblem`
Can the pioblem of the police be solved` e veiy question ieveals
itself to be absuid eie is no such thing as solving the pioblem of the
police. Yet fiom a demociatic point of view it would be possible to solve

some aspects by demociatising ceitain stiuctuies, changing policemens

aitudes and so on. Now, to think that this might be a solution to the
pioblem of contiol and iepiession would be as stupid as it is illogical.
ln actual fact, it is nothing othei than a way of iegulating iepiession in
keeping with the inteiests of powei, of the State. lf a demociatic politic is
eective today, a fai less demociatic stiuctuie of contiol and iepiession
might be eective in the futuie just as it has been in the past and any
iaie, maiginal minoiities who thought otheiwise on the subject would
be expelled oi eliminated fiom the ianks.
When l say police, l mean any iepiessive stiuctuie fiom militaiy
police to judiciaiy, all expiessions of the State that seive to contiol and
iepiess. So, as you can see, social pioblems cannot be solved. e swindle
opeiated by demociatic stiuctuies is piecisely theii claim to solve such
pioblems. is swindle shows how demociatic politics aie not based
on ieality oi even a minimum of concieteness. Eveiything is iigged
up on the implication that things can be impioved, can be iesolved in
time, can be set iight. lt is in this concept of seing things iight that the
stiength of powei lies, and it is on this impiovement that powei stands
and continues in the medium and long teim. Powei ielations change
as we wait foi what they piomised to come about but it nevei does.
Because these impiovements nevei mateiialise. Because powei changes
and tiansfoims itself thioughout histoiy, yet always iemains the same.
A handful of men, a minoiity of piivileged people who hold the leveis
of powei, look aei theii own inteiests and safeguaid the conditions of
supiemacy of whoevei happens to be in command.
Now, what instiuments do we have to combat this state of aaiis`
ey want to contiol us` So we iefuse contiol. Of couise we can do this.
We undoubtedly do, tiying to minimise the damage. But to iefuse contiol
in a social context is only valid up to a point. We can ciicumsciibe ceitain
aspects of it, yell when we aie stiuck unfaiily, but theie aie cleaily ceitain
aieas of powei wheie iules aie called laws, signposts indicate enclosuies
and men calling themselves policemen pievent us fiom enteiing. eie
is no doubt about it, tiy geing into Pailiament and see what happens. l
dont know. Ceitain levels cannot be gone beyond, ceitain contiols aie
So what do we do to oppose this situation` Simply dieam` Have an
idea of fieedom, which moieovei must be caiefully foimulated, because
we cannot say the fieedom anaichists want is simply a ieduction in
contiol. ln that case we would nd ouiselves faced with the pioblem
But wheie does this ieduction in contiol end` At a minimal level pei-
haps` loi example, would the State become legitimate foi anaichists if
instead of being the oppiessoi State of today, it weie to become, let us
say, the ideal minimal State of the libeials` No, ceitainly not. So that is
not the way to think. lt is not a question of tiying to limit contiol, but
of abolishing contiol altogethei. We aie not foi moie fieedom. Moie
fieedom is given to the slave when his chains aie lengthened. We aie
foi the abolition of the chain, so we aie foi fieedom, not moie fieedom.
lieedom means the absence of all chains, the absence of limits and all
that ensues fiom such a statement.
lieedom is a dicult, unknown concept. lt is a painful one, yet it
is peddled as something beautiful, sweet, ieposing. Like a dieam so
fai o that it makes us feel good, like all the things that, being fai o,
constitute hope and faith, a belief. ln othei woids, these intangibles
which appaiently solve todays pioblems do not in fact solve them but
simply mist them ovei, change them aiound, pieventing us fiom having
a cleai vision of all the woes of oui times. All iight, some day we will be
fiee. OK, things aie in a mess, but within this mess theie is a subteiianean
stiength, an involuntaiy oidei independent of ouiselves that woiks in
place of us, which will giadually change the conditions of sueiing which
we aie living in and take us to a fiee dimension wheie we will all live
happily evei aei. No, that is not fieedom, that is a swindle that tiagically
iesembles the old idea of God that oen helped us, and still helps many
people today in theii sueiing, because they say to themselves, veiy
well, we aie sueiing today, but well be beei o in the next woild. ln
fact, as the gospel says the last will be ist, heaitening the last of today
because they see themselves as the ist of tomoiiow.
lf we weie to fob o such an idea of fieedom as ieal we would be doing
no moie than ciadling todays sueiing by medicating social wounds
in exactly the same way as the piiest heals those of the pooi who listen
to his seimon, deceiving themselves that the kingdom of God will save
them fiom theii pain. Anaichists cannot think this way. lieedom is a
destiuctive concept that involves the absolute elimination of all limits.
Now fieedom is an idea we must hold in oui heaits, but at the same time
we need to undeistand that if we desiie it we must be ieady to face all the
iisks that destiuction involves, all the iisks of destioying the constituted
oidei we aie living undei. lieedom is not a concept to ciadle ouiselves
in, in the hope that impiovements will develop independently of oui ieal
capacity to inteivene.
ln oidei to undeistand such concepts, become awaie of the iisks one
iuns by wielding such dangeious concepts, we must be able to foim the
idea within us.
eie is also consideiable confusion on this point. lt is customaiy to
considei that anything that passes thiough oui minds is an idea. One
says l have an idea then tiies to undeistand what that means. at
is the Caitesian concept of idea as opposed to the Platonic one which
is an abstiact fai o point of iefeience. But that is not what we aie
iefeiiing to when we say idea. e idea is a point of iefeience, an
element of stiength that is capable of tiansfoiming life. lt is a concept
chaiged with value that becomes a concept of stiength, something that
can develop and make oui ielationship with otheis dieient. All that is
an idea. But what is the souice that the elements that make it possible to
elaboiate such ideas spiing fiom` School, univeisity, newspapeis, books,
teacheis, technicians, television and so on` What ieaches us fiom these
instiuments of infoimation and cultuial elaboiation` A consideiable
accumulation of infoimation cascades down on us, boils inside us like a
cauldion, making us pioduce opinions. We tend not to have ideas, but
at is the tiagic conclusion. What is an opinion` lt is a aened idea,
an idea that has been made unifoim in oidei to make it acceptable to the
laigest numbei of people. Opinions aie massied ideas. lt is impoitant
foi powei that these opinions be maintained because it is thiough opin-
ion, the contiol of opinion, that they obtain given iesults, not least the
mechanisms of piopaganda and electoial pioceduies thiough the use of
the media. e foimation of new powei elites comes not fiom ideas but
fiom opinions.
What does opposing oneself to opinion-making mean then` Does it
mean acquiiing moie infoimation` at is, opposing countei-infoima-
tion to infoimation` No, that is not possible because no maei how you
look at it you cannot possibly oppose the vast amount of infoimation
we aie bombaided with daily with countei-infoimation capable of un-
masking thiough a piocess of investigating hidden causes, the ieality
that has been coveied up by all that infoimative chaei. No, we cannot
opeiate in that diiection. Whenevei we aempt to do so we iealise that
it is pointless, that we aie not able to convince people.
at is why anaichists always considei the pioblem of piopaganda
ciitically Yes, of couise, as you see theie is a well-stocked table heie as
is always the case at initiatives oi confeiences of this kind. eie aie
always oui pamphlets, oui books. We aie laden with papeis and aie veiy
good at biinging out such publications. But that is not the only kind
of woik we need to do, and in any case they do not contain elements
of countei-infoimation, oi if they do it is puiely accidental. is woik
is aimed essentially, oi should be, at building an idea oi a numbei of
leading ideas, a numbei of stiong ideas.
Let us give just one example. Ovei the past thiee oi foui yeais an aaii
has developed that the newspapeis have iepoited using hoiiible teims
like tangentopoli oi clean hands [legal pioceduies in couise wheie
many politicians have been sentenced foi having accepted money fiom
the capitalists in exchange foi contiacts in the public woiks sectois]
and so on. Now what has this opeiation instilled in peoples minds`
lt has built the opinion that the law is capable of seing things iight,
of sentencing politicians, changing conditions, so can take us fiom the
old concepts typical of the ist ltalian Republic to the new ones of the
Second Republic. is opinion, this piocess, is cleaily veiy useful. loi
example it has allowed the emeigence of a new powei elite to take
the place of the old. New up to a point, but with ceitain chaiacteiistics
and sad iehashes of old habits and peisonages. is is the way opinion
Now, considei compaiing this piocess of opinion-making, which is of
consideiable advantage to powei alone, to the constiuction of an idea-
foice that might be an in-depth analysis of the concept of justice. e
dieience is abyssal. But what is iight` loi example, it was ceitainly
iight foi many, and we also consideied it iight ouiselves, foi ex-socialist
paity leadei Ciaxi to be foiced to iemain locked up in his villa in Tunisia.
e whole thing has been quite amusing, it even made us laugh, made
us feel good because it is quite nice when pigs at that level end up being
put out of ciiculation. But is that ieal justice` loi example, Andieoi is
in diculty. lt seems he kissed Riina [maa boss] on the cheek.
Such news ceitainly makes us smile, makes us feel beei, because a
pig like Andieoi was annoying even at a simple physical level, just
seeing him on TV was enough. But what is this idea of justice` Judges
foi the piosecution Di Pietio and Boiielli have a hoide of suppoiting
fans. Millions of people have been diawn into this piocess of unifoiming
ls the concept of justice we need to pondei on any dieient` What
should it lead to` lt should lead us to iecognising that if Ciaxi oi An-
dieoi aic iesponsible then people like Di Pietio oi Boiielli aie iesponsi-
ble to the same extent. Because if the foimei aie politicians, the otheis
aie all magistiates. e concept of justice means xing a demaication
line between those who suppoit and defend powei and those who aie
against it. lf the veiy existence of powei is unjust and if all aempts,
some of which we have just seen, ieveal themselves to be no moie than
self-justifying swindles, any man of powei, moie oi less demociatic as
he might be, always stands on the wiong side of justice no maei what
he does.
To build such a concept of justice obviously means to foim an idea,
an idea you dont nd in the newspapeis, that isnt gone into in the
classiooms oi univeisity auditoiiums, which cannot become an element
of opinion oi lead people to vote. ln fact, such an idea leads to inteinal
conict. Because befoie the tiibunal of ones self one asks, But l, with
my idea of social justice, how do l see it when what Di Pietio does
seems good` Am l being taken foi a iide too` Am l also an instiument
of opinion, a teiminal of the gieat piocesses foi maintaining powei,
becoming not just theii slave but also theii accomplice`
We have nally got theie. We have ieached the point of oui own ie-
sponsibility. Because if it is tiue that foi anaichists theie is no dieience
between theoiy and action, as soon as the idea of social justice lights
up in us, illuminates oui biain even foi a split second, it will nevei be
able to extinguish itself again. Because no maei what we think we
will feel guilty, will feel we aie accomplices, accomplices to a piocess
of disciimination, iepiession, genocide, death, a piocess we will nevei
be able to feel detached fiom again. How could we dene ouiselves
ievolutionaiies and anaichists otheiwise` What fieedom would we be
suppoiting if we weie to give oui complicity to the assassins in powei`
You see howdieient and ciitical the situation is foi whoevei succeeds,
thiough deep analysis of ieality oi simply by chance oi misfoitune, in
leing an idea as cleai as the idea of justice penetiate theii biain` eie
aie many such ideas. loi example, the idea of fieedom is similai. Anyone
who thinks about what fieedom actually is even foi a moment will nevei
again be able to content themselves by simply doing something to slightly
extend the fieedomof the situations they aie living in. liomthat moment
on they will feel guilty and will tiy to do something to alleviate theii
sense of sueiing. ey will feai they have done wiong by not having
done anything till now, and fiom that moment on theii lives will change
Basically, what does the State want fiom the foimation of opinion`
What does powei want` Yes, of couise, it wants to cieate mass opinion
because fiom that they aie able to iealise ceitain opeiations such as
voting, the foimation of powei gioups and so on. But that is not all
they want. ey want oui consensus. ey want oui appioval. And
consensus is gained thiough piecise instiuments, especially those of a
cultuial natuie. loi example, school is one of the ieseivoiis fiom which
consensus is iealised and the futuie intellectual, and not just intellectual,
woikfoice is built.
Today capitalismiequiies a dieient kind of peison to those it iequiied
in the past. Up until iecently theie was a need foi people with piofes-
sional capacities, a piide in this capacity and paiticulai qualications.
e situation is quite dieient now. e woild of woik iequiies a veiy
modest qualication level wheieas qualities that did not exist and weie
even inconceivable in the past such as exibility, adaptability, toleiance,
the capacity to inteivene at meetings, etc. aie iequiied in theii place.
Huge pioduction units based on assembly lines foi example now use
iobots oi aie built on the conceptual basis of islands, small gioups woik-
ing togethei who know each othei and contiol each othei and so on.
is kind of mentality is not only found in the factoiy. lt is not just a
new woikei they aie building, but a new man, a exible peison with
modest ideas, iathei opaque in theii desiies, with consideiably ieduced
cultuial levels, impoveiished language, standaidised ieading, a limited
capacity to think and a gieat capacity to make quick yes oi no decisions.
ey know how to choose between two possibilities a yellow buon, a
ied buon, a black buon, a white buon. is is the kind of mentality
they aie building. And wheie aie they building it` At school, but also in
eveiyday life.
What will they do with such a peison` ey will use them to biing
about all the modications that aie necessaiy foi iestiuctuiing capital.
ey will be useful foi a beei management of the conditions and iela-
tions of the capitalism of tomoiiow. And what will these ielations be`
ey will be based on fastei and fastei change, a call to satisfying non-
existent desiies, desiies that aie piloted, deteimined by small gioups that
aie becoming moie and moie numeious. is new peison is quite the
opposite of what we aie capable of imagining oi desiiing, the opposite of
quality, cieativity, the opposite of ieal desiie, the joy of life, the opposite
of all this. How can we ght against the iealisation of this technological
man` How can we stiuggle against this situation` Can we wait foi a day
to come, a gieat day that will tuin the woild upside down` What the
anaichists of the last centuiy called MB HSBOEF TPJSF` e gieat evening
oi the gieat day MF HSBOE KPVS in which foices no one could foiesee
would end up taking ovei, exploding into that social conict we aie all
waiting foi, called ievolution` So eveiything will change and theie will
be a woild of peifection and joy`
is is a millenaiian idea. Now that we aie ieaching the end of the
millennium it could take ioot again. But conditions have changed. is
is not ieality, it is not this waiting that inteiests us. What does inteiest
us is anothei kind of inteivention, a fai moie modest one, but one that
is capable of achieving something. As anaichists we aie called to do
something. We aie called by oui own individual iesponsibility and by
what we said eailiei. liom the moment the idea lights up oui mind, not
the idea of anaichy, but of justice, fieedom, when these ideas illuminate
oui minds and we see the swindle befoie us which today moie than
evei befoie we can dene a demociatic swindle what can we do`
We must set to woik, and this seing to woik also means oiganising
ouiselves. lt means cieating the conditions of iefeience and ielating
between anaichists, conditions that must be othei than those of the past.
Reality has changed. As l said befoie, they aie building a dieient
man, a de-qualied man, and they aie building him because they need to
build a de-qualied society. ey have iemoved the guie of the woikei
fiom the centie of the conception of the political society as it was, aei
de-qualifying him. ln the past the woikei boie the gieatest biunt of
exploitation. at is why it was thought that this social guie would
necessaiily give biith to the ievolution. lt is sucient to think of the
Maixist analysis. Maixs Capital is dedicated to the libeiation of the
woikei. When Maix speaks of man, he means the woikei. ln his analysis
of value, he is talking of the woik pace, in his analysis of alienation, he
is talking about woik. eie is nothing that does not concein woik. But
that is because the woikei was cential to the Maixist analysis at the time
when it was developed. e woiking class could be seen to be the centie
of the social stiuctuie.
Using dieient analyses, anaichists also came close to a consideiation
that the woikeis position was the centie of the social woild. ink of
the anaicho-syndicalist analyses. loi the anaichosyndicalists it was a
question of taking the concept of tiades union stiuggle to its extieme
consequences, fieeing it fiom the naiiowei dimension of tiades union
baigaining and developing it iight to the iealisation of the ievolution
thiough the geneial stiike. So accoiding to the anaicho-syndicalists the
Society of the futuie, the fiee anaichist Society, was to be nothing othei
than the piesent Society fieed fiom powei but with the same pioductive
stiuctuies, no longei in the hands of the capitalists but in the hands of
the collective which would manage them in common.
is concept is quite impiacticable today foi vaiious ieasons. liist
of all, because technological tiansfoimation has made it impossible foi
theie to be a simple passage fiom the piesent society to the futuie one
we desiie to live in. A diiect passage would be impossible foi the simple
ieason that it is not possible to use infoimation technology in libeiated
foims, in a libeiatoiy way. e new technologies and computei technol-
ogy applications have not limited themselves to biinging about ceitain
modications in paiticulai instiuments, they have tiansfoimed all the
othei technologies as well. e factoiy, foi instance, is not simply a
stiuctuie of the past with the addition of computei technology but has
become a computeiised factoiy, which is quite dieient. Beaiing this in
mind we can only mention these concepts in a veiy geneial way because
it would take time to go into them adequately. So we must iecognise
that it is not possible to use this patiimony. is passage iuns paiallel to
the end of the myth of the centiality of the woiking class.
Now, in a situation wheie the woiking class has piactically disinte-
giated, the possibility of an expiopiiation of the means of pioduction
no longei exists. So what is the conclusion` e only possible conclu-
sion is that this set of instiuments of pioduction we have befoie us be
destioyed. e only possible way is to pass thiough the diamatic ieality
of destiuction. lf the ievolution we imagine and which moieovei we
cannot be ceitain will evei come about, it will not be the ievolution of
the past that saw itself as one single event that might even take place in a
day oi one ne evening but will be a long, tiagic, bloody aaii that could
pass thiough inconceivably violent, inconceivably tiagic piocesses.
All this is the kind of ieality we aie moving towaids. Not because
that is what we desiie, not because we like violence, blood, destiuction,
civil wai, death, iape, baibaiity. lt is not that, but because it is the only
plausible ioad, the ioad that the tiansfoimation wanted by those iuling
us and who aie in command have made necessaiy. ey have moved on
to this ioad. We cannot change all that with a simple ight of fancy, a
simple dieam. ln the past hypothesis wheie a stiong woiking class ex-
isted, one could fool oneself about this passage and oiganise accoidingly.
loi example, the oiganisational pioposal of anaicho-syndicalism saw a
stiong syndicalist movement which, penetiating the woiking class and
oiganising almost the whole of it, was to biing about this expiopiiation
and passage. is collective subject, who was piobably mythical fiom
the stait, no longei exists even in its mythical veision so what sense
would theie be in a syndicalist movement of a ievolutionaiy natuie`
What sense would theie be in an anaicho-syndicalist movement` None
at all.
So the stiuggle must begin elsewheie, with othei ideas and methods.
at is why we have been developing a ciitique of syndicalism and anai-
cho-syndicalism foi about een yeais. at is why we aie, and dene
ouiselves, insuiiectionalist anaichists. Not because we think the solu-
tion is the baiiicades the baiiicades could be a tiagic consequence of
choices that aie not oui own but we aie insuiiectionalists because we
think that anaichist action must necessaiily face veiy seiious pioblems.
ese pioblems aie not desiied by anaichism but aie imposed by the
ieality that those in powei have built, and we cannot obliteiate them
simply by wishing them away.
An anaichist oiganisation that piojects itself into the futuie should
theiefoie be agile. lt cannot piesent itself with the cumbeisome chai-
acteiistics and quantitative heaviness of the stiuctuies of the past. lt
cannot piesent itself in a dimension of synthesis like oiganisations of
the past wheie the anaichist stiuctuies claimed to sum up ieality in
commissions that tieated all the vaiious pioblems, making decisions at
peiiodical congiesses on the basis of theses that even went back to the
last centuiy. All this has seen its day, not because a centuiy has passed
since it was thought out, but because ieality has changed.
at is why we maintain theie is a need foi the foimation of small
gioups based on the concept of anity, even tiny gioups made up of veiy
few comiades who know each othei and deepen this knowledge because
theie cannot be anity if one does not have knowledge of the othei.
One can only iecognise ones anities by going into the elements that
deteimine ones dieiences, by fiequenting each othei. is knowledge
is a peisonal fact, but it is also a question of ideas, debate, discussions.
But in ielation to the ist points we made this evening, if you iemembei,
theie can be no going into ideas if theie is not also a piactice of biinging
about actions. So, theie is a continual iecipiocal piocess of going into
ideas and iealising actions.
A small gioup of comiades, a small gioup who simply meet in the
evening to have a chat would not be an anity gioup but a gioup of
fiiends, pub-mates who meet in the evenings to talk about anything
undei the sun. On the contiaiy, a gioup that meets to discuss things
and in discussing piepaies itself foi doing and thiough that doing con-
tiibutes to developing discussion that tiansfoims itself into discussion
about things to be done, this is the mechanism of the anity gioup. So
how then can anity gioups entei into contact with otheis wheie the
deepened knowledge that exists in the single gioup does not necessaiily
exist` is contact can be assuied by infoimal oiganisation.
But what is an infoimal oiganisation` eie could be ielationships
of an infoimal kind between the vaiious anity gioups that entei into
contact with each othei in oidei to exchange ideas and do things to-
gethei, and consequently the existence of an oiganisation, also veiy
widespiead thioughout the countiy, compiised of even tens, oi why not,
hundieds of oiganisations, stiuctuies, gioups of an infoimal chaiactei
based on discussion, peiiodic analyses, things to be done togethei, etc.
e oiganisational logic of insuiiectional anaichism is dieient to the
oiganisations we mentioned eailiei conceining anaicho-syndicalism.e
oiganisational foims iefeiied to heie in a few woids meiit going into,
something l cannot do now in the dimension of a confeience. But such
a way of oiganising would, in my opinion, iemain simply something
within the anaichist movement weie it not also to iealise ielations be-
yond it, that is thiough the constiuction of exteinal gioups, exteinal
nuclei, also with infoimal chaiacteiistics. ese gioups should not be
composed of anaichists alone, anyone who intends to stiuggle to ieach
given objectives, even ciicumsciibed ones, could paiticipate so long as
they take a numbei of essential conditions into account. liist of all pei-
manent conict, that is gioups with the chaiacteiistic of aacking the
ieality in which they nd themselves without waiting foi oideis fiom
anywheie else. en the chaiacteiistic of being autonomous, that is
of not depending on oi having any ielations at all with political pai-
ties oi tiade union oiganisations. linally, the chaiacteiistic of facing
pioblems one by one and not pioposing platfoims of geneiic claims that
would inevitably tiansfoim themselves into administiation along the
lines of a mini-paity oi a small alteinative tiades union. e summaiy
of these ideas might seem iathei abstiact and that is why befoie ending
l would like to give an example, because some of these things can be
beei undeistood in piactice.
A theoietical model of this kind was used in an aempt to pievent the
constiuction of the Ameiican missile base in Comiso in the eaily 80s.
e anaichists who inteivened foi two yeais built self-managed leagues.
ese self-managed leagues weie piecisely non-anaichist gioups that
opeiated in the aiea with the unique aim of pieventing the constiuction
of the base by destioying the pioject in the couise of iealisation.
e leagues weie autonomous nuclei chaiacteiised by the fact that
theii only aim was to aack and destioy the base. ey did not take
on a whole seiies of pioblems, because if they had done they would
have become gioups of syndicalists with the aim of, let us say, defending
jobs oi nding woik oi iesolving othei immediate pioblems. lnstead,
theii sole aim was to destioy the base. e second chaiacteiistic was
peimanent conict, i.e., fiom the moment these gioups weie foimed
(they weie not specically anaichist gioups, but theie weie people in
them who weie anaichists), they went into conict with all the foices
involved in building the base, without this conict being deteimined
oi declaied by any iepiesentative oiganism oi by the anaichists who
had piomoted the initiative. e thiid chaiacteiistic was the complete
autonomy of these gioups, that is to say they did not have links with
any paities oi unions, etc. e stiuggle against the base is known in pait,
and in pait not. And l dont know if it is the case to take up the stoiy
again heie, l just wanted to mention it as an example.
So insuiiectionalist anaichism must oveicome one essential pioblem.
lt must go beyond a ceitain limit otheiwise it will iemain no moie than
the idea of insuiiectionalist anaichism at is the comiades who have
lived that insuiiection of a peisonal natuie we mentioned eailiei, that
illumination which pioduces an idea-foice inside us in opposition to
the chaei of opinion, and foim anity gioups, entei into ielationships
with comiades fiom othei places thiough an infoimal kind of stiuctuie,
only iealise a pait of the woik. At a ceitain point they must decide,
must go beyond the demaication line, take a step that it is not easy to
tuin back fiom. ey must entei into a ielationship with people that aie
not anaichists conceining a pioblem that is inteimediate, ciicumsciibed
(such as, foi example the destiuction of the base in Comiso). No maei
how fantastic oi inteiesting this idea might have been it ceitainly wasnt
the iealisation of anaichy. What would have happened if one had ie-
ally managed to entei the base and destioy it` l dont know. Piobably
nothing, possibly eveiything. l dont know, no one can tell. But the
beauty of iealising the destiuctive event is not to be found in its possible
Anaichists guaiantee none of the things they do. ey point out the
iesponsibility of peisons and stiuctuies on the basis of the decision that
they aie deteimined to act, and fiom that moment on they feel suie of
themselves because theii idea of justice illuminates theii action. lt points
at one peisons iesponsibility, oi that of moie people, one stiuctuie oi
moie stiuctuies, and the consequences that such iesponsibility leads to.
lt is heie that we nd anaichists deteimination to act.
But once they act along with othei people, they must also tiy to
build oiganisms that aie capable of holding togethei and cieating conse-
quences in the stiuggle against powei. We must nevei foiget this. And
this is an impoitant point to ieect upon powei iealises itself in time
and space, it is not something abstiact. Contiol would not be possible if
police stations did not exist, if piisons did not exist. Legislative powei
would not be possible if pailiament did not exist, oi if theie weie no
lile iegional pailiaments. e cultuial powei that oppiesses us, that
fabiicates opinion, would not be possible if theie weie no schools and
univeisities. Now, schools, univeisities, police stations, piisons, indus-
tiies, factoiies, aie all things that iealise themselves in specic places,
in ciicumsciibed aieas which we can only move aiound in if we accept
given conditions and play the game. We aie heie at the moment because
we agieed to play the game. We would not have been able to entei the
building otheiwise. is is inteiesting. We can use stiuctuies of this
kind. But at the time of aack such places aie foibidden to us. lf we
weie to have come in heie with the intent of aacking, the police would
obviously have pievented us.
Now, because powei iealises itself in physical space, anaichists iela-
tion to this is impoitant. Of couise insuiiection is an individual fact and
so in that place deep inside us, at night as we aie about to go to sleep,
we think X X X well, in the last analysis things aient too bad, one feels at
peace with oneself and falls asleep. eie, in that paiticulai place inside
us, that piivate space, we can move about as we please. But then we
must tiansfei ouiselves into the physical space of social ieality. And
physical space, when you think about it, is almost exclusively undei the
contiol of powei. So, when we move about in this space we caiiy this
value of insuiiection with us, these ievolutionaiy values, and measuie
them in a clash in which we aie not the only ones piesent.
We must theiefoie individuate signicant objectives and veiify theii
existence and as luck would have it these objectives exist peipetually,
eveiywheie ,contiibute to cieating the conditions so that people, the
exploited on whose backs these objectives aie iealised, do something to
destioy them.
l believe this ievolutionaiy piocess is of an insuiiectional natuie. lt
does not have aims (and this is impoitant) of a quantitative natuie, be-
cause the destiuction of an objective oi the pievention of a pioject cannot
be measuied in quantitative teims. lt sometimes happens that someone
says to me, But what iesults have we obtained` When something is
done, people dont even iemembei the anaichists aeiwaids. Anai-
chists` Who aie these anaichists` Monaichists` Aie they these people
who suppoit the king` People dont iemembei veiy well. But what does
it maei` lt is not us that they must iemembei, but theii stiuggle, be-
cause the stiuggle is theiis, we aie simply an oppoitunity in that stiuggle.
We aie something extia.
ln the fieed society wheie anaichy has been ieached in a quite ideal
dimension, anaichists, who aie indispensable in the social stiuggle at
all levels, would simply have the iole of pushing stiuggles fuithei and
fuithei, eliminating even the even the smallest tiaces of powei and al-
ways peifecting the tension towaids anaichy. Anaichists inhabit an
uncomfoitable planet in any case because when the stiuggle is going
well they aie foigoen about and when the stiuggle goes badly they aie
accused of being iesponsible, of having appioached it the wiong way, of
having taken it to the wiong conclusions. No illusion then conceining
any quantitative iesults if the stiuggle iealised fiom an insuiiectional
point of view is coiiect, has gone well, the iesults if any might be useful
to the people who biought it about, ceitainly not to the anaichists. lt is
impoitant not to fall piey to the illusion that many anaichists unfoitu-
nately do, of believing that the positive outcome of a stiuggle can iesult
in a giowth in oui gioups, because that is not so and this systematically
leads to disillusion. e giowth of oui gioups and an inciease in the
numbei of comiades is impoitant but that does not come about fiom
the iesults obtained so much as thiough the building, the foimation, of
these idea-foice, the claiication we talked about eailiei. e positive
iesults of stiuggles and the numeiical giowth in anaichist gioups aie
two things that cannot be seen as a piocess of cause and eect. ey
might be connected, they might not.
Just a couple of woids to wind up l have talked about what anaichism
is, what demociacy is and the incompiehension we aie constantly being
faced with, of the ways the stiuctuies of powei we call modein capital-
ism, post industiial capitalism, aie being tiansfoimed, of some anaichist
stiuctuies of stiuggle that aie no longei acceptable today and the way
one can oppose oneself to the ieality of powei and, nally, l mentioned
the dieience between tiaditional anaichism and the insuiiectional an-
aichism of the piesent day.
ank you.
5 " -
Maich 12, 2011
Alfiedo M. Bonanno
e Anaichist Tension
Oiiginal Title, La Tensione anaichica. Tianslated by Jean Weii.
199, Edizioni Laboiatoiio, Cuneo. 1998, Elephant Editions,
London, Elephant Editions, B.M. Elephant, London WC1N3XX
Retiieved on Apiil , 2009 fiom