Errico Malatesta Democracy and Anarchy a4

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Errico Malatesta Democracy and Anarchy March 1924 The rampant dictatorial governments in Italy, Spain and Russia, which arouse such envy and longing among the more reactionary and timid parties across the world, are supplying dispossessed ‘democracy’ with a sort of new virginity. Thus we see the creatures of the old regimes, well-accustomed to the wicked art of politics, responsible for repression and massacres of working people, re-emerging — where they do not lack the courage — and presen
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  Errico Malatesta  Democracy and Anary March 1924  1 e rampant dictatorial governments in Italy, Spain and Russia, which arouse such envy and longing among the more reactionary and timidparties across the world, are supplying dispossessed ‘democracy’ witha sort of new virginity. Tus we see the creatures of the old regimes, well-accustomedtothe wicked artof politics, responsiblef or repressionand massacres of working people, re-emerging—wheretheydo not lack the courage—and presentingthemselves as men of progress,seekingto capture the near future in the name of liberation. A nd, given the situation, they could even succeed. Tere is something to be said for the criticisms made of democracyby dictatorial regimes, and the way they expose the vices and lies of democracy. A nd I remember that anarchist, Hermann Sandomirski, a Bolshevik fellowtraveller with whom we had biersweet contact at the time of the Geneva conference, and who is now trying to couple Lenin with Bakunin,noless; Isay I rememberSandomirskiwhoin order todefend the Russian regime dragged out his Kropotkin to demonstrate that democracy is not the best imaginable form of social structure. His method of reasoning, as a Russian, put me in mind and I think I toldhim so — of the reasoning made by some of his compatriots when, in responsetotheindignation of the civilised world at theTsar’s stripping, flogging and hanging of women, they argued that if men and women were to have equal rights they should also accept equal responsibilities. Tose supporters of prison andthe scaff oldrememberedtherights of  women only when they could serve as a pretext for new outrages ! usdictatorships oppose democratic governments only when they discover that thereis af orm of governmentwhichleaves even greater roomf or despotism and tyranny for those who manage to seize power. For me there is no doubt that the worst of democracies is alwayspreferable, if only from the educational point of view, than the best of  dictatorships. Of course democracy, so-called government of the people, is alie;but thelie always slightlybindstheliarandlimitsthe extent of his arbitrary power. Of course the ‘sovereign people’ is a clown of a sovereign, a slave with a papier-maché crown and sceptre. But to believe oneself free, even when one is not, is always beer than to know oneself to be a slave, and to accept slavery as something just and inevitable.  2 Democracy is a lie, it is oppression and is in reality, oligarchy; that is, government by the few to the advantage of a privileged class. But we can still fight it in the name of freedom and equality, unlike those who have replaced it or want to replace it with something worse. We are not democrats for, among other reasons, democracy sooneror later leadsto warand dictatorship. J ustas we are notsupportersof dictatorships,among other things,because dictatorship arouses a desire for democracy, provokes a return to democracy, and thus tends to perpetuate a vicious circle in which human society oscillates between open and brutal tyranny and a the and lying freedom. So, we declare war on dictatorship and war on democracy. But what do we put in their place? Not all democrats are like those described above — hypocrites who aremore or less awarethat inthe name of the peopletheywishto dominate the people and exploit and oppress them. ere are many, especially among the young republicans, who have aserious belief in democracy and see it as the means of obtaining full and complete freedom of development for all. Tese are the young people we should like to disabuse, persuade not to mistake an abstraction, ‘the people’, for the living reality, which is men and women with all their different needs, passions and oen contradictory aspirations. It is not theintention heretorepeatourcritique of the parliament system and all the meansthoughtupto have deputies whoreallydorep-resent the will of the people; a critique which, aer fiy years anarchist propaganda is at last accepted and even repeated by those writers whomos t a ff  ec t t o desp i se ou r i deas ( e . g . Po liti ca l Sc i ence Sena t o r Gae t ano Mosca). We will limitourselves to inviting our young friends to use greater pre-cision of language, inthe convictionthatoncethe phrases are dissected they themselves will see how vacuous they are. ‘ Go v e r nmen t o f t he peop l e ’ no , because t h i s p r esupposes wha t cou l d never happen — complete unanimity of will of all the individuals that make up the people.It would be closer to the truth to say, ‘government of the majority of  the people.’ Tis implies a minority that must either rebel or submit to the will of others.
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