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Cafiero, Carlo (1846–1892)

Jeff Shantz

Subject History » Political History
Legal and Political » Political Philosophy

Place Southern Europe » Italy

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1800-1899

People Bakunin, Mikhael

Key-Topics anarchism, bibliography, revolution, socialism

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184649.2009.00287.x


Carlo Cafiero was an Italian anarchist who advocated insurrectionary actions until his conversion to social democracy later on in life. Cafiero was born into a wealthy, noble family in Barletta, Italy. His life was transformed through his encounter with the horrible conditions facing the working class of London. Renouncing his diplomatic career and wealth, he joined the International Workingmen's Association, becoming an associate of Marx and Engels in 1871. Sent to Italy to win the Italian working class to Marxism, Cafiero was soon won to anarchism by Mikhail Bakunin (1814–76) and Errico Malatesta (1853–1932). Cafiero and Malatesta became powerful advocates of insurrectionary anarchism, using the pages of the Bulletin of the Jura Federation to present an effective defense of propaganda of the deed: “The Italian federation believes that the insurrectional fact, destined to affirm socialist principles by deeds, is the most efficacious means of propaganda.” Their position gained much support within European anarchist circles, particularly in Spain and France. In 1877 Cafiero, Malatesta, and Andrea Costa took part in two armed uprisings in the villages of Letino and Gallo. In both cases the insurrectionists and their messages of anarchy, freedom, and justice were enthusiastically received. The reign of King Victor Emmanuel was declared over, taxes were returned, tax registers were ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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