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(en) Italy, FDCA - Il Cantiere #10-11: 150th anniversary of the "Rimini Conference" BY Giulio Angeli (ca, de, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Fri, 23 Sep 2022 09:39:50 +0300


From 4 to 6 August 1872 the conference was held in Rimini which saw the foundation of the "Italian Section of the International Association of Workers" (AIL), already founded at the London congress on 4 October 1864 and known as the "First International". ---- The Rimini Conference opened with the cry of "long live the International" and took place in an enthusiastic context, effectively described by Errico Malatesta: ---- I said that it was hoped that the revolution would break out from one moment to the next. other. It will be useful to mention the ideological and psychological reasons which explain those too early hopes, and which also partly explain the nature of the anarchist movement into which the International was resolved. ---- Given the Italian environment still vibrant with memories of Mazzinian conspiracies and Garibaldi expeditions, given the excitement produced by the Paris Commune, given the predominant influence of Bakunin, given the temperament and convictions of the first initiators, the International in Italy could not to be a simple federation of workers' resistance leagues, albeit to radical tendencies as it was elsewhere. From the beginning it assumed a decidedly subversive character, which finds a certain confirmation only in Spain, where the character of the inhabitants and the political situation were almost like in Italy, and where, moreover, the internationalist movement was initiated by Fanelli, sent there on a mission. by the Bakunist Alliance. Bakunin's predominant influence, given the temperament and convictions of the first initiators, the International in Italy could not be a simple federation of workers' resistance leagues, albeit with radical tendencies as it was elsewhere. From the beginning it assumed a decidedly subversive character, which finds a certain confirmation only in Spain, where the character of the inhabitants and the political situation were almost like in Italy, and where, moreover, the internationalist movement was initiated by Fanelli, sent there on a mission. by the Bakunist Alliance. Bakunin's predominant influence, given the temperament and convictions of the first initiators, the International in Italy could not be a simple federation of workers' resistance leagues, albeit with radical tendencies as it was elsewhere. From the beginning it assumed a decidedly subversive character, which finds a certain confirmation only in Spain, where the character of the inhabitants and the political situation were almost like in Italy, and where, moreover, the internationalist movement was initiated by Fanelli, sent there on a mission. by the Bakunist Alliance.

The international was born in socialist, anarchist, revolutionary Italy, and consequently antiparlamenta re ". (1)

Delegates representing 21 sections participate in the Rimini conference (the sections of the newly formed Italian Section of the AIL were actually about fifty), including the anarchists Carlo Cafiero and Andrea Costa, respectively president and secretary of the Conference; the anarchist Giuseppe Fanelli; a very young Errico Malatesta and the internationalists Celso Ceretti, Ludovico Nabruzzi, Saverio Friscia.

The conference took some important decisions among which were distinguished those to interrupt any ideological and political relationship with "authoritarian communism" and with the London General Council of the AIL following its centralizing role decided at the previous London Conference (17 / 23 September 1871); not to participate in the AIL congress held from 2 to 7 September 1872 in The Hague at the same time indicating, instead, for the following 2 September in Neuchatel, an "anti-authoritarian" international congress, open to all AIL federations that did not recognize themselves in the decisions taken at the aforementioned London Conference.

In Rimini, where Bakunin's influence was very evident, the differences that have matured and persisted within the AIL between the components referring to the positions of Marx (Engels) and Bakunin reach an irreversible breaking point, which will culminate with the decisions that will be taken at the forthcoming Hague congress.

It must be said that in the preparatory stages of the London Conference of September 1871, held in place of the Fifth Congress of the AIL which had not taken place due to the international situation (Franco-Prussian War; Paris Commune; climate of generalized repression) , Marx and Engels had worked effectively in order to obtain a majority of the delegates to ratify an important "strategic" decision with respect to the "political struggle" (resolution IX), which transformed the ILA into an independent party of the proletariat for the conquest of political power (proletarian state) according to the intentions tenaciously pursued by Marx and Engels, in addition to the further centralized role of the General Council which, in fact, greatly limited the autonomy of the sections of the ILA.

These resolutions, resolutely opposed by Bakunin, would in any case have constituted a total victory for Marx and the General Council hegemonized by them but would, at the same time, lay the foundations for the imminent split and for the end of the AIL, as it would have matured at the next V Congress of The Hague (from 2 to 7 September 1872) where, with a majority artfully constructed by Marx and Engels, the resolutions of the previous London conference would have been fully implemented: centralization of the powers of the General Council which became "the state greater than the AIL "greatly limiting the autonomy of the sections; the resolution on "Political Action of the Working Class", which transformed the AIL into a political party for the seizure of power; the transfer of the General Council to New York, which meant the end of the AIL; the expulsion of Bakunin and Guillame from the AIL.

We have seen that the Rimini Conference had decided to celebrate an "anti-authoritarian" congress in Neuchatel, which instead took place from 15 to 16 September 1872 in Saint Imier where the Hague resolutions were rejected by opposing them, in the three points that followed the "recitals":

-that the destruction of political power is the "first duty of the proletariat";

- that any organization of a self-styled provisional and revolutionary political power can only be a deception for the proletariat;

-that the proletarians of every country must establish the solidarity of revolutionary action outside of bourgeois politics.

But, as Victor Garcia acutely writes: "Things, having reached this point" show that the organization, founded by the British and French in London in 1864, and whose existence could be justified by the understanding of the working masses, was over. . In its place stood, on the one hand, a General Council without a base, more than 6000 km away from its real field of action and, on the other, a different International, in the sense that it was more revolutionary than worker, more social than economic, more specific than class ". (2)

In this striking contradiction, the Hague International will continue its ephemeral and buroctatic existence until the Philadelphia congress of 1876 which will sanction its definitive dissolution.

While the "anti-authoritarian" International founded in S. Imier will begin its path, formally interrupting itself with the last congress held from 6 to 8 September 1877 in Verviers, making a fundamental contribution to the definition of the theoretical, strategic and organizations that will orient anarchism for over half a century.

Analyzing the controversy between Marx and Bakunin is a question that goes beyond this commemoration but, for the sake of clarity, it is still useful to highlight one of its characteristics with the beautiful words of PC Masini, written in reference to the work of the German Marxist Franz Mehring: (3)

It is known what the current opinion on Bakunin and on anarchism, borrowed from the liberalism of the Bismarkian period, was among the philistines of the German Social Democracy: Bakunin as a conscious enemy of the working class, the anarchist movement an extraneous infiltration into the workers' movement.

Mehring rejects this current opinion as fantastic and absurd, easily deflates it by opposing a sound materialistic conception and replacing it with an objective evaluation. Bakunin, according to Mehring, interpreted certain instances of the workers' movement, and anarchism constituted the political formulation of these instances.

At the very source of these complications, in the Geneva dispute between the fabrique and the gros métiers, the real antagonists were revealed.

Here a well-paid working class, with political rights which allowed him to participate in the parliamentary struggle, but which also attracted him into all sorts of questionable alliances with bourgeois parties; there a poorly paid working class, deprived of political rights, which could only count on its bare strength. It was a question of these practical antagonisms and not, as the legendary tradition tells us, of a theoretical antagonism: here the reason, there the lack of reason! ...

These considerations cut off the head of the qualifications of "bourgeois" or "petty-bourgeois" attached to the movement inspired by Bakunin and place the divergence between Marx and Bakunin on the level of the material, objective differences that weighed on the development of the workers' movement of a hundred years ago " . (4)

Up to now much has been said and written on the subject, but the distorting opinion consciously matured "among the philistines of social democracy" in order to discredit Bakunin and anarchism and which is still very much alive, refers to other and necessary insights, critics and above all self-critics, whom we want to remember and wish for with the very topical words of our Errico Malatesta:

It is enough for me to note that all our predictions on the degeneration into which socialism which became legalistic and parliamentarian would fall have unfortunately been verified, and beyond what we ourselves thought.

We have made many mistakes, we have seen many illusions vanish, we have grossly deceived ourselves about the time necessary for the penetration of our ideas among the masses, but in short, our work was not in vain. Many of the seeds we have scattered have fallen on the bare rock and been lost, but many have found the soil fertile.
---
Taken from Il Cantiere n. September 10, 2022

Libertarian Alternative / Federation of Anarchist Communists

To request a copy of the magazine, send an article or a comment you can write to ilcantiere@autistici.org

Il Cantiere n. 10 Settembre 2022
Alternativa Libertaria/Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici
ilcantiere@autistici.org
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