Against the Constituent Assembly as against the dictatorship

Everyone has the right to state and defend their ideas, but nobodyhas the right to misrepresent someone else's ideas to strengthentheir own.

After years without seeing the Martello, the issue of June 21 fellinto my hands. I found in it an article signed X., which talks, in amore or less imaginary way, about an insurrectionary project, whichwas allegedly promoted by myself, Giulietti and... D'Annunzio. Fromthe article it appears that someone else who writes under the name ofUrsus had previously written about such events, but I could notmanage to find his article.

Never mind. I cannot tell now how the events referred to by X. andUrsus actually happened, because this is not the right time to letthe public, and thus the police, know what one may have done orattempted to do. Also, I could not betray the trust that may havebeen put in me by persons, who would not like to be named now. I canbe surprised, though, that these X. and Ursus, moved by the desire tofind support to their tactical thesis, have not realized how tactlessit is to involve someone who usually does not receive newspapers, andthus does not know what is said about him and cannot reply - inaddition to their feeling no duty, in a personal matter, to take atleast responsibility for what they say and sign with their realnames.

What I care about - and what makes me take the trouble of pointingout said articles - is protesting the completely false statementthat, at any moment whatsoever of my political activity, I may havebeen a supporter of the Constituent Assembly. The issue bears such atheoretical and practical relevance, that it could become topical anymoment, and it cannot leave cold anyone who calls himself anarchistand wants to act like an anarchist in any given situation.

To be precise, at the time when the events badly recollected by X.and Ursus occurred, I was striving, with my words and writings, tofight the faith and hope put by many subversives (obviouslynon-anarchist) in the possibility of a Constituent Assembly.

At that time I claimed, as I have always done before and after,that a Constituent Assembly is the means used by the privilegedclasses, when a dictatorship is not possible, either to prevent arevolution, or, when a revolution has already broken out, to stop itsprogress with the excuse of legalizing it, and to take back as muchas possible of the gains that the people had made during theinsurrectional period.

The Constituent Assembly, with its making asleep and smothering,and the dictatorship, with its crushing and killing, are the twodangers that threaten any revolution. Anarchists must aim theirefforts against them.

Of course, since we are a relatively small minority, it is quitepossible, and even likely, that the next upheaval will end up in theconvocation of a Constituent Assembly. However, this would not happenwith our participation and co-operation. It would happen against ourwill, despite our efforts, simply because we will not have beenstrong enough to prevent it. In this case, we will have to be asdistrustful and inflexibly opposed to a Constituent Assembly as wehave always been to ordinary parliaments and any other legislativebody.


Let this be quite clear. I am not an advocate of the 'all ornothing' theory. I believe that nobody actually behaves in such a wayas implied by that theory: it would be impossible.

This is just a slogan used by many to warn about the illusion ofpetty reforms and alleged concessions from government and masters,and to always remind of the necessity and urgency of therevolutionary act: it is a phrase that can serve, if looselyinterpreted, as an incentive to a fight without quarter against everykind of oppressors and exploiters. However, if taken literally, it isplain nonsense.

The 'all' is the ideal that gets farther and wider as progressesare made, and therefore it can never be reached. The 'nothing' wouldbe some abysmally uncivilized state, or at least a supine submissionto the present oppression.

I believe that one must take all that can be taken, whether muchor little: do whatever is possible today, while always fighting tomake possible what today seems impossible.

For instance, if today we cannot get rid of every kind ofgovernment, this is not a good reason for taking no interest indefending the few acquired liberties and fighting to gain more ofthose. If now we cannot completely abolish the capitalist system andthe resulting exploitation of the workers, this is no good reason toquit fighting to obtain higher salaries and better workingconditions. If we cannot abolish commerce and replace it with thedirect exchange among producers, this is no good reason for notseeking the means to escape the exploitation of traders andprofiteers as much as possible. If the oppressors' power and thestate of the public opinion prevent now from abolishing the prisonsand providing to any defence against wrongdoers with more humanemeans, not for this we would lose interest in an action forabolishing death penalty, life imprisonment, close confinement and,in general, the most ferocious means of repression by which what iscalled social justice, but actually amounts to a barbarian revenge,is exercised. If we cannot abolish the police, not for this we wouldallow, without protesting and resisting, that the policemen beat theprisoners and allow themselves all sorts of excesses, oversteppingthe limit prescribed to them by the laws in force themselves...

I am breaking off here, as there are thousands and thousands ofcases, both in individual and social life, in which, being unable toobtain 'all', one has to try and get as much as possible.

At this point, the question of fundamental importance arises aboutthe best way of defending what one has got and fighting to obtainmore; for there is one way that weakens and kills the spirit ofindependence and the consciousness of one's own right, thuscompromising the future and the present itself, while there isanother way that uses every tiny victory to make greater demands,thus preparing the minds and the environment to the longed completeemancipation.

What constitutes the characteristic, the raison d'etre ofanarchism is the conviction that the governments - dictatorships,parliaments, etc. - are always instruments of conservation, reaction,oppression; and freedom, justice, well-being for everyone must comefrom the fight against authority, from free enterprise and freeagreement among individuals and groups.


One problem worries many anarchists nowadays, and rightly so.

As they find it insufficient to work on abstract propaganda andrevolutionary technical preparation, which is not always possible andis done without knowing when it will be fruitful, they look forsomething practical to do here and now, in order to accomplish asmuch as possible of our ideas, despite the adverse conditions;something that morally and materially helps the anarchists themselvesand at the same time serves as an example, a school, an experimentalfield.

Practical proposals are coming from various sides. They are allgood to me, if they appeal to free initiative and to a spirit ofsolidarity and justice, and tend to take individuals away from thedomination of the government and the master. And to avoid wastingtime in continuously recurring discussions that never bring new factsor arguments, I would encourage those who have a project to try toimmediately accomplish it, as soon as they find support from theminimal necessary number of participants, without waiting, usually invain, for the support of all or many: - experience will show whetherthose projects were workable, and it will let the vital ones surviveand thrive.

Let everyone try the paths they deem best and fittest to theirtemperament, both today with respect to the little things that can bedone in the present environment, and tomorrow in the vast ground thatthe revolution will offer to our activity. In any case, what islogically mandatory for us all, if we do not want to stop being trulyanarchist, is to never surrender our freedom in the hands of anindividual or class dictatorship, a despot or a Constituent Assembly;for what depends on us, our freedom must find its foundation in theequal freedom of all.

(Adunata, October 4, 1930)

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Jul 27 2005 09:20


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