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Second Congress of the Unione Anarchica Italiana

Bologna, Italy, July 1-4, 1920.

(Background: About this time a military revolt -- of soldiers refusing to be sent to Albania -- occurred at Ancona. It seemed rather that local energy was worn out and frittered away by isolated movements, but the effort to work collectively by demanding an amnesty, the liberation of the political and military prisoners were neither seconded by direct action nor did they meet with proper response from all the socialist and labor organizations which had to be consulted. Their leaders used procrastination and helped thus the government to overcome the difficult situation. They were far from responding to Malatesta's generous appeal for co-operation against the common enemy; their policy was to gain time, to let the local enthusiasm burn itself out, to isolate the Anarchists. In all this they acted fully in the interest of the government and the capitalist class, since they, the leaders naturally preferred the present system which values them so high as the born middlemen between capital and labor, to a revolutionary system which would find them out, sweep them away, nay, which might even have the audacity to expect them to work! So this aristocracy of labor made itself quite small when face to face with Malatesta and the people or the rank and file, but their obstruction and sabotage never ceased, and Giolitti, the new prime minister, was the man for whom their hearts were beating.)

The following text is by Max Nettlau:

"In this situation the second congress of the Unione Anarchica Italiana was held at Bologna, July 1-4, 1920, Malatesta being present. I must refer to "Umanita Nova" or other papers for detailed information. Malatesta reported on a declaration of principles, culminating in "expropriation of the possessors of the land and capital for the benefit of all and abolition of government" and until this can be brought about "propaganda of the ideal; organization of the popular forces; continuous struggle, pacific or violent, according to circumstances, against the government and the possessors to conquer as much possible of freedom and well-being for all."

In the discussion on a Patto d'alleanza fra gli anarchici, Malatesta finds the formula: "Individual autonomy limited by the obligation to hold given promises."

On the fronte unico he says that, if we want the revolution, we must look for the help of all who want the revolution, because Anarchism cannot be realized unless the ground is first cleared; we must seek to come nearer to the rank and file, not to the chiefs. In this connection it is resolved: "The congress approves and advises that -- outside of existing parties and organizations -- local groups (nuclei) of action be formed among all elements who pledge themselves on the first occasion that may be seen or foreseen to descend in the arena of facts to overthrow with all means the present institutions."

This approval to enter into local contact with others, as local vigilance committees and similar institutions did at all times, later on served as a charge against the arrested comrades. The idea of international anarchist relations like those formed at the Amsterdam Congress (1907) was approved and the question of an anarchist international national congress for the institution of an Internazionale Anarchica was proposed by Binazzi and Boldrin for examination. A resolution, by Boldrini and Malatesta, protests against what is done in certain localities, namely, that workers are forced to join organizations under the threat of not being permitted to work. This takes all idealistic conceptions and spirit of struggle from such organizations and permeates them with the germs of dissolution.

I must omit a discussion on syndicalist organizations in which Malatesta said that it was not true that the Anarchists were on cold terms with the Unione Sindicale Italiana; the contrary was the case. He personally was to a great part indebted to the action of the U. S. I., if he had been able to come to Italy. etc. (see "U. W' July 10). This is the large organization, dating from the Modena Congress of 1912, of which Armando Borghi, soon his fellow prisoner, was the secretary.

The corresponding commission of the Unione Anarchica Italiana resided at Bologna; the declaration of principles. etc., will be found in the pamphlet "Programma anarchico accettato al Congresso dell' U C. I. A."

On July 12 the offices of the paper, Malatesta's rooms and the premises of the Unione Anarchica Milanese, of which he is a member, were searched under pretext of a lottery -- which they had never in any form promoted "U. N.," July 15).

The conference of delegates from large organizations to liberate the political prisoners met at Florence, Aug. 15. Malatesta and Bonazzi representing the U. A. T. It is not worth while to record the tergiversations of the moderate parties and their leaders to frustrate all united efforts and to shelve the question. This conference refused to enter into any contact with the republican leaders because of their attitude during the war, while not refusing solidarity with individual republican workers; Malatesta explained this attitude in several articles. In the discussion the inefficiency of simple strikes was maintained and new methods of efficient action were to be studied. This question came soon to the front in a way that by a single stroke became world wide known, by the occupation of the factories by the metal workers. The questions of political prisoners and that of expressing solidarity with Revolutionary Russia were once more discussed at the Bologna conference, Aug. 28, Malatesta and Bonazzi being present as before. This time moderate leaders assisted also and a manifesto was signed by the Partito Socialista Italiano side by side with the Unione Anarchica Italiana, the moderate Confederazione Generale del Lavoro, and the Unione Syndicale Italiana, the Socialist "Avanti" and the "Umanita Nova" etc. ("U. N.," Aug. 31)."

--- Errico Malatesta: The Biography of an Anarchist; A Condensed Sketch, Max Nettlau (NY:Jewish Anarchist Federation,1924)

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