Historians have frequently portrayed Italian anarchism as a marginal social movement that was doomed to succumb to its own ideological contradictions once Italian society modernized. Challenging such conventional interpretations, Nunzio Pernicone provides a sympathetic but critical treatment of Italian anarchism that traces the movement's rise, transformation, and decline from 1864 to 1892. Based on original archival research, his book depicts the anarchists as unique and fascinating revolutionaries who were an important component of the Italian socialist left throughout the nineteenth century and beyond.
Anarchism in Italy arose under the influence of the Russian revolutionary Bakunin, triumphed over Marxism as the dominant form of early Italian socialism, and supplanted Mazzinianism as Italy's revolutionary vanguard. After forming a national federation of the Anti-Authoritarian International in 1872, the Italian anarchists attempted several insurrections, but their organization was suppressed. By the 1880s the movement had become atomized, ideologically extreme, and increasingly isolated from the masses. Its foremost leader, Errico Malatesta, attempted repeatedly to revitalize the anarchists as a revolutionary force, but internal dissension and government repression stifled every resurgence and plunged the movement into decline. Even after their exclusion from the Italian Socialist Party in 1892, the anarchists remained an intermittently active and influential element on the Italian socialist left. As such, they continued to be feared and persecuted by every Italian government.
Originally published in 1993.
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"Nunzio Pernicone's book is the most comprehensive and balanced study to date of the Italian anarchist movement."--American Historical Review
"[This book] fills a conspicuous gap in the histiography of both anarchism and nineteenth-century Italy. . . . Pennicone writes with an eye for the apt quotation and telling detail, and has organized a complex subject into a coherent and effective narrative."--Paul Avrich, Queens College, City University of New York
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