At the Cafe: Conversations on Anarchism
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While Malatesta was hiding from the police he regularly went to a cafe in Ancona, Italy. He had shaved off his usual beard but he was still taking a risk. Especially as this wasn't an anarchist cafe, but had a variety of customers including the local policeman. The conversations he had in this café became the basis for the dialogues that make up this book. For the first time in English, Malatesta, in his usual commonsense and matter-of-fact style, sets out and critically analyses the arguments for and against anarchism. Translated by Paul Nursey-Bray, this is a classic defence of anarchism that anticipates the rise of nationalism, fascism and communism.
to consider life and human liberties sacred and when . . . there are no judges and no police force to provide examples of brutality; public services will be organised when the public feels the need for them . The State does not create anything: at best it is only other a superfluity, a worthless waste of energy. But if only it was j ust useless! A M B R O G I O : Leave it there. In any case I thi n k you have said enough . I want to reflect upon it. Until we meet again . . 87 TEN A M B R 0 G
yours is that you, through i ngrained habit, consider woman isation of society; after all they are historic formations that as an inferior being made and placed on this world to serve have changed many times and possibly will change agai n . as a domestic animal and as an i n strument of pleasure for B u t there ore s o m e sacred institutions, some profound emo the male sex, and so you speak of her as if she were a thing, tions of the human heart that you continually offend : the fam
not always recruited from the On the other hand, it only needs the smallest modification in the relations between proprietors and workers, or a change in the price of wheat and other vitally necessary foods, or a crisis that leaves workers without work, or the spreading of 1 28 best part of the population, but in general . . . G l O R G I 0 : Generally the background environment has an inexorable effect, and professional distortion strikes even those who call for i mprovement. 1 29 Tell me:
is carried out by con servatives; and your propaganda would always turn to the' advantage of social i sts, anarch ists or whatever else they call themselves. Go and persuade someone that is h u ngry that it is j u st th at they don't eat, the more so when it is they who produce the food ! So long as they don't think about it and continue to bless God and the boss for what IiHl e they receive, it's all right. But, from the moment they start to reflect on their posi tion it's over: they will
regulars, who was a becoming a refugee. The dialogues remained interrupted at num member of the police, used to engage Malatesta in conversation ber ten, and in this form they were published, both in journals and without, of course, as Fabbri notes, any idea that a real prize lay as a pamphlet. within his grasp. Anarchism would almost certainly been one of the topics of conversation since the anarchists of the city constant The chief propagandists of the first ten dialogues are