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Mella, Ricardo (1861–1925)

Rady Roldan-Figueroa


Ricardo Mella is widely recognized as an original theoretician of anarchism and founding figure of Spanish anarchist thought. Born in Galicia, Mella came from an artisanal background. His father was a federalist who introduced him to the political ideas of Francisco Pi y Margall. In 1887 Mella married Esperanza Serrano, daughter of his intellectual mentor Juan Serrano y Oteiza. His early encounter with the federalism of Proudhon proved to be decisive for his career. Like other federalists such as Fermín Salvochea, Farga Pellicer, and Fernando Tárrida the disillusionment caused by the many failures of federal republicanism led him to embrace anarchism. Mella approached anarchism from a scientific perspective, making use of the conceptual framework of Herbert Spencer, and espoused a non-dogmatic “anarchism without adjectives,” exemplified in his fictional work La Nueva Utopia (The New Utopia, 1890). Nonetheless, he was an anarchist collectivist, and his writings reflect his distrust of communism. Mella's sociological positivism led him to confront the pseudoscientific views of Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who argued that anarchists had defective personalities similar to those of criminals, in Lombroso y los anarquistas. Refutación (Lombroso and the Anarchists: A Refutation, 1896). Mella (1998) also made important contributions to a theory of anarchist pedagogical practice. ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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