Ends and Means

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

THE END JUSTIFIES THE MEANS. THIS SAYING HAS BEEN MUCH abused; yet it is in fact the universal guide to conduct. It would, however, be better to say: every end needs its means. Since morality must be sought in the aims, the means is determined.

Once the goal one is aiming at has been established, consciously or through necessity, the big problem of life is to find the means which, in the circumstances, leads to that end most surely and economically. In the way this problem is solved will depend, so far as it can depend on human will, whether the individual (or party) reaches or fails to achieve his ends, whether he is useful to his cause or unwittingly serves that of the enemy. To have found the right means, herein lies the whole secret of great men and parties that have left their mark on history. Continue reading “Ends and Means”

Anarchism and Anarchy

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

Anarchism in its origins, its aspirations, and its methods of struggle, is not necessarily linked to any philosophical system. Anarchism was born of a moral revolt against social injustice. When men were to be found who felt as if suffocated by the social climate in which they were obliged to live; who felt the pain of others as if it were their own; who were also convinced that a large part of human suffering is not the inevitable consequence of inexorable natural or supernatural laws, but instead, stems from social realities dependent on human will and can be eliminated through human effort – the way was open that had to lead to anarchism.

The specific causes of social ills and the right means to destroy them had to be found. When some thought that the fundamental cause of the disease was the struggle between men which resulted in domination by the conquerors and the oppression and exploitation of the vanquished, and observed that the domination by the former and this subjection of the latter had given rise to capitalistic property and the State, and when they sought to overthrow both State and property – then it was that anarchism was born.[1] Continue reading “Anarchism and Anarchy”

An Anarchist Programme

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

1. Aims and Objectives

We believe that most of the ills that afflict mankind stem from a bad social organisation; and that Man could destroy them if he wished and knew how.

Present society is the result of age-long struggles of man against man. Not understanding the advantages that could accrue for all by cooperation and solidarity; seeing in every other man (with the possible exception of those closest to them by blood ties) a competitor and an enemy, each one of them sought to secure for himself, the greatest number of advantages possible without giving a thought to the interests of others. Continue reading “An Anarchist Programme”

Defence of the Revolution

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

THE REVOLUTION WE WANT CONSISTS IN DEPRIVING THE PRESENT holders of their power and wealth and in putting the land and the means of production and all existing wealth at the disposal of the workers, that is of everybody, since those who are not, will have to become, workers. And the revolutionaries must defend this revolution by seeing to it that no individual, party or class finds the means to constitute a government and restore privilege in favour of new or old bosses….

To defend, to save the revolution there is only one means: that of pushing the revolution as far as it will go. So long as there are those who will be in a position to oblige others to work for them; so long as there are those who are in a position to violate the freedom of others, the revolution will not be complete, and we will be still in a state of legitimate defence and to the violence which oppresses we will oppose the violence that liberates. Continue reading “Defence of the Revolution”

The Insurrection

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.


Naturally one must begin with the insurrectionary act which sweeps away the material obstacles, the armed forces of the government which are opposed to any social transformation.

For the insurrection it is desirable, and it may well be indispensable, that all the anti-monarchical forces, since we are living under a monarchist regime, should be united. It is necessary to be as prepared as possible, morally and materially; and it is above all necessary to profit by all agitations and to seek to extend them and transform them into resolutive movements, to avoid the danger that while the organisations are getting ready the popular forces exhaust themselves in isolated actions.[1] Continue reading “The Insurrection”


Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

I remember that on the occasion of a much-publicised anarchist attentat a socialist of the first rank just back from fighting in the Greco-Turkish war, shouted from the housetops with the approval of his comrades, that human life is always sacred and must not be threatened, not even in the cause of freedom. It appeared that he excepted the lives of Turks and the cause of Greek independence. Illogicality, or hypocrisy? [1]

Anarchist violence is the only violence that is justifiable, which is not criminal. I am of course speaking of violence which has truly anarchist characteristics, and not of this or that case of blind and unreasoning violence which has been attributed to anarchists, or which perhaps has been committed by real anarchists driven to fury by abominable persecutions, or blinded by over-sensitiveness, uncontrolled by reason, at the sight of social injustices, of suffering for the sufferings of others. Continue reading “Attentats”

Anarchism and Violence

Various publications and dates (see footnotes).
Published in Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press, 1965.

Anarchists are opposed to violence; everyone knows that. The main plank of anarchism is the removal of violence from human relations. It is life based on the freedom of the individual, without the intervention of the gendarme. For this reason we are enemies of capitalism which depends on the protection of the gendarme to oblige workers to allow themselves to be exploited – or even to remain idle and go hungry when it is not in the interest of the bosses to exploit them. We are therefore enemies of the State, which is the coercive, violent organisation of society.

But if a man of honour declares that he believes it stupid and barbarous to argue with a stick in his hand and that it is unjust and evil to oblige a person to obey the will of another at pistol point, is it, perhaps, reasonable to deduce that that gentleman intends to allow himself to be beaten up and be made to submit to the will of another without having recourse to more extreme means for his defence?

Violence is justifiable only when it is necessary to defend oneself and others from violence. It is where necessity ceases that crime begins… Continue reading “Anarchism and Violence”

The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Articles 1924-1931, Vernon Richards (ed.), Freedom Press

PDF of The Anarchist Revolution: Polemical Articles 1924-1931, Vernon Richards (ed.), Freedom Press



  • Comments on the Article ‘Science and Anarchy’

  • Note on Hz’s article ‘Science and Anarchy’

  • Pseudo-Scientific Aberrations

  • Further Thoughts on Science and Anarchy


  • Anarchy and Violence

  • Revolutionary Terror

  • Let’s Demolish – and then?

  • Postscript to Let’s Demolish – and then?



See also the Writings page


Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Vernon Richards (ed.), Freedom Press

PDF of Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Vernon Richards (ed.), Freedom Press


  • Editor’s Foreword

Part One


1. Anarchist Schools of Thought

2. Anarchist-Communism

3. Anarchism and Science

4. Anarchism and Freedom

5. Anarchism and Violence

6. Attentats


7. Ends and Means

8. Majorities and Minorities

9. Mutual Aid

10. Reformism

11. Organisation


12. Production and Distribution

13. The Land

14. Money and Banks

15. Property

16. Crime and Punishment


17. Anarchists and the Working Class Movements

18. The Occupation of the Factories

19. Workers and Intellectuals

20. Anarchism, Socialism and Communism

21. Anarchists and the Limits of Political Co-Existence


22. The Anarchist Revolution

23. The Insurrection

24. Expropriation

25. Defence of the Revolution


26. Anarchist Propaganda

27. An Anarchist Programme

Part Two

  • Notes for a Biography (V.R.)
  • Source Notes


I. Anarchists have forgotten their Principles (E.M. 1914)

II. Pro-Government Anarchists (E.M. 1916)

III. Fact and Fiction on the Shooting Incident in West Hoboken in 1899 (V.R.)

IV. Peter Kropotkin: Recollections and Criticisms of an Old Friend (E.M. 1931)

Part Three

  • Malatesta’s Relevance for Anarchists Today: An Assessment (V.R.)

Source: Vernon Richards (ed.), Malatesta: Life and Ideas, Freedom Press 1966.