In Volume One of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas, I included excerpts from the historic debate between Errico Malatesta and Pierre Monatte on revolutionary syndicalism at the 1907 International Anarchist Congress in Amsterdam. Also debated at the Congress was the relationship between anarchism and organization. Two of the most eloquent speakers were the anarcho-syndicalist, Amédée Dunois (1878-1945), and Malatesta.
At the time of the Congress, Dunois was a member of the French revolutionary syndicalist organization, the CGT, and a contributor to Jean Grave’s anarchist communist paper, Les Temps Nouveaux. A mere five years later, he was to renounce anarchism, joining the French Section of the Workers’ International (SFIO), the French socialist party affiliated with the Second International, which was dominated by the Marxist social democrats Dunois criticizes in his speech (the anarchists had been excluded from the Second International in 1896 because they refused to recognize “participation in legislative and parliamentary activity as a necessary means” for achieving socialism). Unlike the majority of the SFIO and the other political parties affiliated with the Second International, Dunois opposed the First World War. After the war, he helped found the French Communist Party (PCF), which he left in 1927 after it came under the control of Stalinists, rejoining the SFIO in 1930. He remained in France during the Second World War, where he worked in the Resistance. In 1944, he was captured by the Gestapo, eventually being sent to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where he perished in 1945, a few months before the war ended.
The translation is by Nestor McNab and is taken from Studies for a Libertarian Alternative: The International Anarchist Congress, Amsterdam, 1907, published by the Anarchist Communist Federation in Italy (Federazione dei Comunisti Anarchici – FdCA); paperback edition available from AK Press.
Anarchism and Organization
It is not long since our comrades were almost unanimous in their clear hostility towards any idea of organization. The question we are dealing with today would, then, have raised endless protests from them, and its supporters would have been vehemently accused of a hidden agenda and authoritarianism.
They were times when anarchists, isolated from each other and even more so from the working class, seemed to have lost all social feeling; in which anarchists, with their unceasing appeals for the spiritual liberation of the individual, were seen as the supreme manifestation of the old individualism of the great bourgeois theoreticians of the past.