A while ago, in an issue of Umanitá Nova, there was a debate between comrades Enzo Martucci and Malatesta. They topic was individualism. The one who is writing this understands anarchism from an individualistic perspective and is therefore jumping in.
And I will immediately declare that I don’t even agree with Martucci. For example, where he maintains: “if there are individuals who have to cooperate with others to satisfy their needs, there are also strong individuals who are sufficient in themselves for the preservation and development of their personality.” This, I repeat, I do not believe. I think that, by character and temperament, I am one of those who tries to be as sufficient in myself as possible. But I am not able to do this. The material needs of life are so numerous that I still have need of others for some things.
And spiritual needs? Intellectual satisfaction and amusement? If, for instance, I would like to make love to one or more women? If I want to go to the theater? If I want to ride in an airplane? And then, when I might do any of these things, what if I don’t want to do it by myself? What is left of my satisfied I?
For me, the logic of my I is what preserves it from concern for others. Privates and generals aren’t supposed to exist for me, contact counts for nothing to me, I serve myself with them here even when materially instead I serve them. It is either because my concept of slavery is so low and vulgar or because my instinct for rebellion doesn’t have the force of those whom I detest and who enslave me.
However, I can’t conceive of the realization of any anarchist communism like Malatesta yearns for. If the thing remains a desire and aspiration that everyone else does it as I still remain to do it… this is fine. And here perhaps we are in agreement, I—individualist… at least, I think—and communist Malatesta. But why did Malatesta complain in an article a while ago that anarchists were “not organized enough”? Then, how did he come to write in this debate: “We say, and we say it with doubts, that, in our opinion, a communist way of life would respond best to the needs of individualists, but we have never dreamed of imposing our ideas on others and even less concrete way of life”? But the organization you demand to make? To bring down current and coming governments and carry out expropriation? This is logical. But communism would only occur through “the free adherence of human beings.”
I ask, dear Malatesta, if I could consider the anarchist communist form of society to be the best… because it would a society of angels as opposed to today’s society of demons, but I don’t know if it would satisfy me and I don’t know if it would be practical. Is it true, are we pounding a nail back in, one that might be rusty? And what if I want to live without producing anything for you? And what if, by instinct, I don’t particularly want with living together in such a society? It is true, I could by asked: “and what do you do now?” If I make myself strong, I rebel, and society strikes me with… law. But with what will communist society strike me?
But I am aware that I’ve gone on about other people’s anarchism, and my own? I understand anarchism from the side of destruction. Its aristocratic logic lies in this. Destruction! Here is the real beauty of anarchism. I want to destroy everything that enslaves me, weakens me and suppresses my desires and I would like to step over the corpses I make of them. When remorse, scruples, conscience exist in me and make me their non-christian slave, my iconoclastic spirit destroys them. And when I don’t feel them, one sees that they don’t exist in me. Yes, iconoclastic negation is the most practical.
And when you realize your communist society tomorrow, would I be satisfied contemplating my navel? Furthermore, I don’t offer a better aspiration where you all would come with us, oh today’s prophecies of tomorrow’s communist society.
The masses? But then, they will never be able to conceive of the individual!
In fact, the singular is what makes the great secrets that are not even conceived by those who enjoy and exploit them, the singular will of the individual is what accelerates progress, the individual is what is emerging and prevailing, the great mass is mediocrity, litter, feed for the ravenous desires of governors and politicians. The lone nihilist is the one who demolishes all the powerful, the iconoclast is the one who destroys all absurd beliefs with his negation. There can be nothing truly free in reconstruction. And this is why all that is not free and destructive is not anarchist. Stirner’s destructive philosophy is undeniably more real that Kropotkin’s reconstruction, no matter how mathematical.
Proletario # 3, August 15, 1922