Carlo Cafiero
Carlo Cafiero was an Italian anarchist and champion of Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a well-known Russian revolutionary and theorist of collectivist anarchism. He has also often been called the father of anarchist theory in general. Bakunin grew up near Moscow, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopedists,...

 during the second half of the 19th century.

Early years

Carlo Cafiero was born in Barletta
Barletta is a city and comune located in the north of Apulia in south eastern Italy. Its current population is 94,140.It is famous for the Colossus of Barletta, a bronze statue, representing a Roman Emperor...

, in the Apulia region of southern Italy, into a rich and noble family. His father was member of the Carboneria in 1821, one of his brothers and a brother-in-law were deputies, while Carlo Cafiero was always considered the 'black sheep' of the family.

In 1864 he moved to Naples, where he got a degree in law. He then went to Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

 to embark on a diplomatic career. At the beginning of 1870 he was in Paris, a guest to the painter Giuseppe De Nittis
Giuseppe De Nittis
Giuseppe De Nittis was an Italian painter whose work merges the styles of Salon art and Impressionism.De Nittis was born in Barletta, where he first studied under Giovanni Battista Calò...

, a fellow townsman who described him as a "beautiful young man, fascinating for women". He then went to London, where he matured, renouncing to his diplomatic career, wealth and family to join the revolution and socialism. It seems that hearing the enthralling rally of a shoemaker caused Cafiero to take conscience of the pitiful working class’ conditions. In London Cafiero made contacts with Marx and Engels.

He joined the International Workingmen's Association
International Workingmen's Association
The International Workingmen's Association , sometimes called the First International, was an international organization which aimed at uniting a variety of different left-wing socialist, communist and anarchist political groups and trade union organizations that were based on the working class...

 and was charged to conquer Italy to Marx’s ideology, in a country then under the strong influence of the Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

 of Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Bakunin
Mikhail Alexandrovich Bakunin was a well-known Russian revolutionary and theorist of collectivist anarchism. He has also often been called the father of anarchist theory in general. Bakunin grew up near Moscow, where he moved to study philosophy and began to read the French Encyclopedists,...

 and the Republicanism
Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

 of Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Mazzini
Giuseppe Mazzini , nicknamed Soul of Italy, was an Italian politician, journalist and activist for the unification of Italy. His efforts helped bring about the independent and unified Italy in place of the several separate states, many dominated by foreign powers, that existed until the 19th century...

. He restored the ancient section of L'Internazionale in Naples, with the help of the young Errico Malatesta
Errico Malatesta
Errico Malatesta was an Italian anarcho-communist. He was an insurrectionary anarchist early in his life. He spent much of his life exiled from his homeland of Italy and in total spent more than ten years in prison. He wrote and edited a number of radical newspapers and was also a friend of...

. There, during an assembly, he was imprisoned for the first time.

Conversion to Anarchism

Cafiero spent over a year in Italy as a representative of Marx and Engels to hinder the influence of anarchism. However, thanks to the contact he had had with Giuseppe Fanelli
Giuseppe Fanelli
Giuseppe Fanelli was a nineteenth century Italian revolutionary anarchist. Born in Naples, Italy, he visited Spain in 1868 on a journey planned by anarchist Mikhail Bakunin in order to recruit members for the First International...

, he passed on to the other side of the barricade, siding with Bakunin and his Italian followers. In early 1872 came the first issue of the newspaper La Campana and Cafiero wrote for, and gave money towards the publication. In the same year he met Bakunin in Locarno (Switzerland) spending a month with him discussing Bakunin’s ideas and objections to Marx and Engels’ authoritarianism, conquering Cafiero in the end to his cause. In the summer of 1873, with the help of Cafiero, an old project was realised: to create an international center for the revolution in Italy and the world. Cafiero, selling all his inherited lands, bought a farm in Switzerland where Bakunin could live. This center was called La Baronata, would also be a safe shelter for revolutionaries persecuted by their respective governments. In 1875 Cafiero went to Milan and joined the editorial staff of the first socialist daily paper, La Plebe, directed by Enrico Bignami. In April 1877, Cafiero, Malatesta , Ceccarelli, the Russian Stepniak and 30 other comrades began an insurrection in the province of Benevento. They took the village of Letino without a struggle where they were greeted with great enthusiasm. Arms and expropriated goods were distributed amongst the people, tax money was returned and official documents destroyed. Cafiero, in dialect, explained about anarchism, freedom, justice and the new society without the State, without masters, servants, soldiers and owners. His proclamations convinced even the parish priest who explained to his parishioners that the internationalists were 'the true apostles sent by the Lord'. The following day the village of Gallo was taken in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, as they were leaving Gallo the Internationalists were surprised and surrounded by government troops and all were arrested. Held in prison for over a year before being brought to trial all the accused were eventually acquitted in August 1878.

During the imprisonment they never ceased contact with the International and Cafiero wrote his most important work: The Compendium of The Capital, later published by La Plebe Editions in Milan. The work was appreciated and praised even by Marx who found it superior to other similar works. The Compendium was written to let the Capital theory be known among students, instructed workmen and little owners. In 1878, Cafiero was living in Marseilles working as cook and docker. In October he was arrested with Malatesta, then released and expelled from France. He rested in Switzerland, meeting with Kropotkin, and with the collaboration of Élisée Reclus
Élisée Reclus
Élisée Reclus , also known as Jacques Élisée Reclus, was a renowned French geographer, writer and anarchist. He produced his 19-volume masterwork La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes , over a period of nearly 20 years...

 promoted the publication of the Bakunin's essay God and the State. Andrea Costa
Andrea Costa
Andrea Costa was an Italian socialist activist, born in Imola.He co-founded the Partito dei Lavoratori Italiani in 1892 after renouncing his anarchist principles in 1879. It is probable that this happened due to his marriage to Russian Socialist Anna Kulischov...

, joining legalitary and parliamentary socialism, disappointed Cafiero who had described him as "an apostate, a renegade of the revolutionary faith and the people." After being arrested and soon released, in 1881 Cafiero went to London, where he remained for a long time. There he was the victim of a strange disease, bringing him to feel persecuted, seeing everywhere spies and being frightened by the telephone, just appeared in the world. In March 1882 he returned to Italy, expressing the will to take part in the imminent electoral campaign. On April 5 he was arrested without any charge but, on May 2, while imprisoned, he was the victim of a strong mental crisis and attempted to kill himself. The scandal of a man imprisoned without reason and crazy exploded and Cafiero was released with only the choice between forced residence in Barletta, his birth town, or exile to Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....


Exile in Switzerland

Emaciated and feverish, he chose exile in Chiasso
Chiasso is a municipality in the district of Mendrisio in the canton of Ticino in Switzerland.As the southernmost of Switzerland's municipalities, Chiasso is located at the border with Italy, in front of Ponte Chiasso...

, where he again attempted suicide. Emilio Bellerio took Cafiero to his house in Locarno
Locarno is the capital of the Locarno district, located on the northern tip of Lake Maggiore in the Swiss canton of Ticino, close to Ascona at the foot of the Alps. It has a population of about 15,000...

  and Errico Malatesta wrote about him "if his mind is ill, his heart is still healthy..." In February 1883 Cafiero left for Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

, but was found in a grotto all chilled. After being assisted by a doctor and by police he was transferred to a lunatic asylum in Florence. Olimpia Kutusoff, mate of Cafiero, returned from Russia in September 1883 to assist him in the asylum of Imola
thumb|250px|The Cathedral of Imola.Imola is a town and comune in the province of Bologna, located on the Santerno river, in the Emilia-Romagna region of north-central Italy...

. Olimpia left him after one and a half years because Cafiero in his crises was violent with her. Carlo expressed the will to return in Barletta where he arrived in the second half of ’89. However his brothers turned him away and after living some time in a hotel he was taken in by his brother Pietrantonio. Cafiero's mental conditions improved, but one day, returning home, he saw a group of peasants eating a piece of black, hard bread which revived his revolutionary spirit and he entered home screaming against his family. In 1891, following another crisis, Carlo Cafiero was confined in the asylum of Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore
Nocera Inferiore, formerly Nocera dei Pagani, is a town and comune in Campania, Italy, in the province of Salerno, at the foot of Monte Albino, 20 km east-south-east of Naples by rail.-History:...

. In a section of Nocera’s asylum, Carlo Cafiero died on Sunday July 17, 1892.


"Friends, let’s hurry the revolution. Because, you see, our friends let themselves die, in jail, in exile, or go crazy because of strong sorrows" - Spoken by Cafiero at Fanelli’s funeral.

"The common wealth being scattered right across the planet, while belonging to the whole of humanity, those who happen to be within reach of that wealth and in a position to make use of it will utilise it in common. . . . As part of humanity, they will exercise here, in fact and directly, their rights over a portion of mankind's wealth. But should an inhabitant of Peking visit this country, he would enjoy the same rights as the rest, in common with the others, he would enjoy all the wealth of the country, just as he would have in Peking." [No Gods, No Masters, vol. 1, p. 250]

About Cafiero

"Carlo was first of all great for his inner nature, for the affect treasure, for the ingenuousness of his faith. These memories must not be lost, even today that there is the need to elevate the moral level of anarchists, that must react against egoism and brutality that invade us, to return to unselfishness, to sacrificial spirit, to the sentiment of love of what Carlo was a so splendid example". - Errico Malatesta, in a letter to Serafino Mazzotti

External links

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