Italian Anarchism, 1864-1892 by Nunzio Pernicone [Review]

After this reprint, the fascinating story of Italian anarchism will be better known. In fact, it’s a shame it stops and only mentions the twentieth century in passing.

It’s a pleasure to read someone who’s writing about anarchism and really knows their stuff. For example, the famous quote ‘Everything is good for us that is not legal’ which usually gets credited to Kropotkin actually comes from Carlo Cafiero (p187). Also, Pernicone notices and criticises Kropotkin’s ‘revolutionary fatalism’ (p242.)

The main thrust of the book is to deplore the anti-organisational tendencies in Italian anarchism, encouraged by repression, which led to isolation.

As Malatesta discovered, the peasants didn’t need to be told about exploitation, but weren’t up for heroic self-sacrifice either (p126). The question of revolutionary tactics make this a book worth reading alongside Chris Ealham’s Anarchism and the City, to see what a difference it made when the anarchist movement was embedded within working class life.

It would’ve been nice to have a map to find the different Italian regions, and maybe even an afterword on what’s been written since the hardback came out in 1993. But even without them, this is full of information and thought-provoking.

Italian Anarchism, 1864-1892 by Nunzio Pernicone
AK Press, 2009. ISBN 9781904859970