Welcome !! A Call to Participants & "Faits Divers & Fate's Divers"

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This site is for any persons who are actively interested in and working in these areas
Theoretical letters are welcome, stories, photos, anything which
investigates the everyday all around one with a questioning Anarkeyological spirit & energy. Insight and Incite!
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Since to an American ear and reader the homophonic punning possibilities of the title "Faits Divers" in French are completely absent, IL Maestro di "PAROLE IN LIBERACE" Professore G-A Vidiamodopo suggests instead the use of an American homophonic translation, in order to keep alive the sense of
"Une Joie de Vivre qui se trouve a travers les Jeux du Mots."
(A Joy of Life found through Plays on Words)

--and now allow me to turn over the podium to our illustrious and well-beloved colleague, Il Maestro, Giulio Agosto di Vidiamodopo--

the Fondatore, who has given us the eternally generative legacy of his never-to-exhausted "Grand Song of the Open Piano" under the sign of his immortal


echoes of which one may find in all manifestations Visual Sonic Visceral which in their very most particulate, singular and also massed, on-flowing wave existences acknowledge the inspiring and influential, ceaselessly experimenting presence of Il Maestro among their notations of Found and Accidental scores . .

Then, with a magnificent flourish, Il Maestro di Parole in Liberace enters stage left and announces the entry into the world of the "Faits Divers--Fates' Divers"--

Special Forces' Lieutenant X announces the Vernissage of his "Celestial Snuff Films" at Galeria Gore,Friday, 19:00-24:00 hr. Combining his Fighter Jet's elegantly enhanced and edited videos with his own high powered zoom photos and infra red images, the young hero creates the "Theater of Certain Death" as seen by both the "Omniscient Eye's View from Above," and the "subjective focus on the Eroticism of the Subject's Snuffing on the ground."

Exactly at 8, the New American Extreme Experimental Fascist Poets' opening salvo of "Militarized Morphemes" created Pure Terror. Renditioning subjects from the audience using Chance Operations, the Poets undertook "Interrogations of Parole" via the branding of each Tongue as a Forbidden Langue. By making speech mute, projected words announced, the subject existed now only as name brands of material language.

Felix Feneon Editing La Revue Blanche --painted by Felix Vallotton

Felix Feneon Editing La Revue Blanche --painted by Felix Vallotton

from Nouvelles en trois lignes/Three Line News Items/ Short Stories

Feneon created the simultaneous "news/"stories" of his Nouvelles
with perhaps "more in mind" than his own punning use of the Faits Divers' Nouvelles en trois lignes--

he may have been thinking also of the example of Gusrave Flaubert
who several decades earlier had created out of a provincial journal’s Faits Divers the novel Madame Bovary:

“Delphine Delamare, 27, wife of a medical officer in Ry, displayed insufficient austerity. Worse, she ran up debts. To avoid paying them, she took poison.”

Nurse Elise Bachmann, whose day off was yesterday, put
on a public display of insanity.

A complaint was sworn by the Persian physician Djai Khan
against a compatriot who had stolen from him a tiara.

A dozen hawkers who had been announcing news of a
nonexistent anarchist bombing at the Madeleine have
been arrested.

A certain madwoman arrested downtown falsely claimed
to be nurse Elise Bachmann. The latter is perfectly sane.

On Place du Pantheon, a heated group of voters attempted
to roast an effigy of M. Auffray, the losing candidate. They
were dispersed.

Arrested in Saint-Germain for petty theft, Joël Guilbert
drank sublimate. He was detoxified, but died yesterday of
delirium tremens.

The photographer Joachim Berthoud could not get over the
death of his wife. He killed himself in Fontanay-sous-Bois.

Reverend Andrieux, of Roannes, near Aurillac, whom a
pitiless husband perforated Wednesday with two rifle
shots, died last night.

In political disagreements, M. Begouen, journalist, and
M. Bepmale, MP, had called one another "thief" and
"liar." They have reconciled.

Sunday, February 1, 2009








Italian Anarchism in America: An Historical Background to the Sacco-Vanzetti Case by Paul Avrich

A few years ago I received a phone call from a woman in New York City who told me that she was planning to write a book about Sacco and Vanzetti. She wanted to know what sources there were about their lives and activities. I asked her if she read Italian: I was going to recommend La Cronaca Sovversiva and other Italian anarchist journals. She said, "No, I don't." "In that case' " I said, "I think you ought to abandon the project, unless you are prepared to learn the language well enough to read it." She replied that she was not interested in the anarchist aspect of the case. I told her that it was essential for her to study the anarchist movement if she planned to do any serious work on Sacco and Vanzetti, to which she replied: "The anarchists are not serious people, and I prefer not to deal with that aspect of the case." At this point, I strongly urged her to embark on some other subject that was more congenial to her interests.

For one cannot deal with Sacco and Vanzetti without talking about anarchism; and, as Professor Pernicone pointed out, the greatest single shortcoming in the literature on the case-a literature that is vast, enormous-is its failure to come to grips with Sacco and Vanzetti as anarchists. Anarchism was a central feature of their lives. To write about Sacco and Vanzetti without talking about the anarchist connection, the anarchist dimension, is equivalent to writing about Eugene Victor Debs without talking about socialism, or to writing about Lenin and Trotsky without talking about communism. Anarchism was the passion, the great idea of Sacco and Vanzetti. It was the driving force of their lives. It was their obsession, their love, their chief interest on a day-to-day basis.

I'd like to read three quotations from their writings which illustrate this point. First, a quotation from Vanzetti's brief autobiography, The Story of a Proletarian Life:

I am and will be until the last instant (unless I should discover that I am in error) an anarchist communist, because I believe that communism is the most humane form of social contract, because I know that only with liberty can man rise, become noble, and complete.

We find a similar idea in Sacco's writings- for example, in one of his last letters to his son Dante, written on August 18, 1927, five days before the execution. He advises Dante to help the persecuted and oppressed "as your father and Bartolo fought and fell yesterday for the conquest of the joy of freedom for all and the poor workers." One final quotation we can find numerous statements of this kind in their manuscripts and published works - from a letter of Vanzetti to Virginia MacMechan, who was one of those Boston "Brahmins" of whom Professor Solomon spoke so eloquently yesterday, who helped to teach him English in prison. This letter dates from 1923, right in the middle of the case:

Oh friend, the anarchism is as beauty as a woman for me, perhaps even more, since it include all the rest and me and her. Calm, serene, honest, natural, vivid, muddy and celestial at once, austere, heroic, fearless, fatal, generous and implacable-all these and more it is.

Sacco and Vanzetti, then, were two of the many thousands of Italian anarchists in the United States. What I'd like to do for the remaining 15 or 20 minutes of my talk is to give you some general idea of what the Italian anarchist movement was like, the movement to which these two men dedicated their energies and ultimately their lives: its origins, its ideas, its chief figures, its activities. This is a very difficult thing to do in such a brief period of time, but in the afternoon session, when we discuss the case in greater detail, if anybody has specific questions about this or that aspect of the Italian anarchist movement, I and the other participants will be happy to try to answer them.

The first Italian anarchist groups in the United States appeared in the 1880s, at the same time as the beginnings of large-scale Italian immigration into this country. Most of these immigrants were of the peasant and working classes, and the anarchists came largely from these segments of Italian society. The initial group was formed in 1885 in New York City, which became a leading center of Italian anarchism in America. It was called the Gruppo Anarchico - Rivoluzionario Carlo Cafiero, Cafiero being one of the most famous of the anarchist leaders in Italy in the late nineteenth century. Another group of the same name was formed two years later in Chicago, the most important center of Italian anarchism in the midwest. The first newspaper published by the Italian anarchists in the United States appeared in 1888. It was called simply L'Anarchico, The Anarchist, and was issued by the Cafiero group in New York.


From New York and Chicago the movement began to spread as the immigrants increased in number. At first, it was concentrated mainly in the large port cities on the eastern seaboard, where the immigrants tended to settle when they arrived. Consequently, by the early 1890s we find Italian anarchist groups in such places as Boston and Philadelphia besides New York. From the east, the movement gradually filtered westward, with small groups appearing in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Detroit. Finally, by the mid-1890s we have groups as far west as the Pacific coast, the first Italian anarchist group in San Francisco being founded in 1894.

Among the events which gave an impetus to the formation of these groups was the Haymarket Affair of 1886 and 1887. It is often said in history books that the explosion in Chicago's Haymarket Square on May 4, 1886, which caused the death of seven policemen and led to the hanging of four anarchists and the suicide of a fifth in his cell, precipitated the downfall of the anarchist movement in the United States, because the authorities proceeded to crush the movement in Chicago and to suppress it in New York and other cities around the country. Precisely the opposite was the case. The Haymarket executions stimulated the growth of the anarchist movement both among native Americans and immigrants, and there was a rapid rise in the number of Italian anarchist groups after 1887. November 11, 1887, marks a key date in the history of anarchism in the United States and around the world. That was the date of the hanging of the four anarchists , who were demonstrably innocent of any connection with the bomb-throwing. The fact that these men were ready to sacrifice their lives for their fellow workers was so moving to many young people around the country, some of them newly arrived, that they began to read anarchist literature and to join anarchist groups.

A second important event was the arrival from Italy of a series of distinguished anarchist writers and speakers. Beginning in the 1890s, virtually every famous Italian anarchist visited our shores. Some stayed only three or four weeks, some several years, and a few, like Luigi Galleani and Carlo Tresca, remained for much longer periods of time. I'd like to tell you a little bit about them and about their impact on the anarchist movement.

The first major figure to arrive here was Francesco Saverio Merlino, who came to New York City in 1892, at a very early phase of the movement. Merlino had not only a beautiful command of his native Italian, but he also spoke English quite fluently, having lived in London for a number of years before coming to the United States. This, by the way, was not always the case with the leading Italian anarchists in America, to say nothing of the rank and file, whose English often left much to be desired. But Merlino, had this great advantage. As a result, he was not only able to found one of the earliest Italian anarchist journals in this country, Il Grido degli Oppressi (The Cry of the Oppressed), but he also founded an English-language anarchist journal called Solidarity, which appealed to native Americans as well as to Italians who were beginning to learn the language of their adopted land. In addition to founding these papers, Merlino conducted a speaking tour through the United States, remaining for some months in Chicago. Hi s propaganda, both oral and written, gave anarchism another strong impetus, and so it was unfortunate for the movement that he should have returned to London in 1893.

But Merlino was only the first of a whole series of anarchist spokesmen. The second, Pietro Gori, who arrived in New York in 1895, had an even greater impact on the growth of the movement. Gori spent a whole year in the United States. Like Merlino, he was trained in the law, as was Luigi Galleani. (The rank and file, as I have noted, were virtually all working people) These leaders, coming from middle-class and upper middle-class families, were akin to the Russian Populists, those conscience-stricken noblemen, Bakunin and Kropotkin among them, who felt that they had a debt to the people and went to teach the people about revolution. Gori too was from a prosperous family, a university graduate, a lawyer by profession, who cast his lot among the working people. He was a magnetic speaker, a poet and playwright, whose poems were often recited and plays often performed at Italian anarchist gatherings in North and South America as well as Europe.

During his stay in the United States Gori held between 200 and 400 meetings- estimates vary - the space of a single year. This meant that he held a meeting almost every day. He would bring along his mandolin and begin to sing songs, and this would attract a crowd who would stay to listen to what he had to say about anarchism. In this way he won numerous converts and started many new anarchist groups. He resembled a religious evangelist, a wandering minstrel, going from town to town between Boston and San Francisco, preaching the gospel of anarchism, which to some became a kind of secular religion. Gori, unfortunately for the movement, fell ill after his return to Europe, and died in 1911, at the age of 45, depriving anarchism of one of its most capable and beloved apostles.


I must proceed more quickly now, because I could go on and on about each of these fascinating figures. One of the most impressive, yet least well known, of these speakers and writers was Giuseppe Ciancabilla, who had been born in Rome. (Gori, incidentally, hailed from Messina, Merlino from Naples, Galleani from the Piedmont, and Tresca from the Abruzzi, and the rank and file similarly came from all parts of Italy.) Ciancabilla arrived in America in 1898 and settled in Paterson, New Jersey, a major stronghold of Italian anarchism in the east. He became the editor of La Questione Sociale (The Social Question), a paper which

Gori had helped to establish in 1895 and which was now one of the leading organs of Italian anarchism in the United States. Ciancabilla eventually moved westward, settling among the Italian miners of Spring Valley, Illinois. After the assassination of President McKinley in 1901, the anarchist groups were raided by the police, and Ciancabilla was driven from pillar to post, arrested, manhandled, and evicted. All this happened long before the Sacco-Vanzetti affair, but already the Italian anarchists were victims of police persecution. Driven out of Spring Valley, driven in turn out of Chicago, Ciancabilla wound up in San Francisco, where Pietro Gori had lectured in 1895. He was editing a journal there called La Protesta Umana when he suddenly took ill and died in 1904 at the age of 32, one of the most intelligent and capable of the Italian anarchists in America. More needs to be said about Ciancabilla, and I would hope that some graduate student in the audience will take up this subject and produce a study of the man and his influence in the movement.

Two of the most celebrated of the Italian anarchist leaders - and I put the word "leaders" in quotes, because the anarchists recognized no leaders in their movement but only guides and spokesmen -were Errico Malatesta and Luigi Galleani. (A third was Carlo Tresca, about whom Professor Pernicone will tell you this afternoon.) Malatesta, also from a middle-class family, arrived here in 1899. But, again unfortunately for the movement, he remained only a few months. He too took up the editorship of La Questione Sociale, addressed numerous audiences throughout the east, and helped increase the size of the movement. During one of his lectures, in West Hoboken, New Jersey, the representative of a rival faction, or an individual with some private grudge -the motives of this man, Domenico Pazzaglia by name, remain unclear - pulled out a pistol and shot Malatesta in the leg. Malatesta was not severely wounded, and he refused to press charges against his assailant. I might add that the man who subdued Pazzaglia and took away his gun was none other than Gaetano Bresci, the anarchist from Paterson who went to Italy in 1900 to assassinate King Umberto at Monza, and another figure who deserves further study. On leaving America, Malatesta stopped briefly in Cuba before returning to London. A few years later, he went back to his native country, only to be placed under house arrest by Mussolini-but that is another story.

Finally, we come to Luigi Galleani, who was without doubt the most important figure in the Italian anarchist movement in America, winning more converts and inspiring greater devotion than any other single individual. Galleani, as I have said, was born in the extreme north of Italy, near Torino, and, like Merlino and Gori, was trained as a lawyer, although he never practiced law, having transferred his talents and energies to the anarchist cause. Soon after arriving in America, Galleani became involved in a strike at Paterson, not the great strike of 1913 but an earlier one of 1902, in which he made eloquent and fiery speeches to the workers. Arrested for inciting to riot, he managed to escape to Canada, and then, under an assumed name, took refuge for several years in Barre, Vermont, another Italian anarchist stronghold.

The Barre anarchist group, one of the earliest in New England, had been established in 1894. Here we have a case where anarchists in Italy, the Carrara stone and marble cutters, virtually transplanted their movement in the United States, pursuing their same occupations and beliefs as in the old country. It was among these dedicated men and women that Galleani launched his celebrated Cronaca Sovversiva (Subversive Chronicle), one of the best anarchist journals in any language. Galleani edited his magazine on a weekly basis, moving it from Barre to Lynn, Massachusetts, where it continued to appear from 1912 until its suppression by the United States government in 1918.

Galleani was an uncompromising internationalist, who opposed the First World War with all the strength and eloquence at his command. He was, by the way, a great speaker in addition to being a first-rate editor. I would say that he ranks among the half-dozen leading orators of the anarchist movement, along with Johann Most, Emma Goldman, and Sébastien Faure. A moving speaker, he had a lilting voice with a tremolo that held his audience captive. He spoke easily, powerfully, spontaneously, and his bearing was of a kind that made his followers revere him as a kind of patriarch of the movement. But after his paper was shut down by the government, he himself was arrested on charges of obstructing the way effort. "Contro la guerra, contro la pace, per la rivoluzione sociale", was his slogan, "Against the war, against the peace, and for the social revolution" He was deported to Italy in 1918. After Mussolini's accession to power, he was banished to a remote island, where he died in 1931 in his 71 st year. I might add that it was to the Galleani wing of the movement that both Sacco and Vanzetti belonged, something which Robert D'Atillio will speak about in greater detail.


I have said that nearly all of the Italian anarchists in the United States were working people. It might be useful to tell you a little bit about the kinds of jobs that they had, before moving on to their radical ideas and activities. In New York City they were well represented among the garment and construction workers, and in Paterson among the workers in the great silk factories. We find them among the quarry workers of Barre, the shoemakers of Lynn, the construction and garment workers of Boston, and the cigar workers of Philadelphia. Speaking of cigar workers, there was a whole community of anarchist cigar workers, both Spanish and Italian, in Tampa, Florida, dating back to the 1880s and 1890s. An indication of the type of people they were is that while they were rolling cigars they had a reader sitting on an elevated platform reading anarchist and socialist literature to them, so that their minds would be developed along with their work skills. Going back north, Italian anarchists were very numerous among the miners of southern Pennsylvania and southern Illinois; and in Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit they were heavily represented in a variety of trades, as they were in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Ideologically, the Italian anarchists fell into four categories: Anarchist-Communist, Anarcho-Synclicalist, Anarchist-Individualist, and just plain anarchist, without the hyphen. These categories overlapped; there were no hard- and-fast divisions between them. Vanzetti, for example, considered himself an Anarchist-Communist, which meant that he not only rejected the state but also rejected the private ownership of property in favor of communal ownership. The Anarcho-Syndlicalists, among whom Carlo Tresca was a powerful influence, placed their faith in the trade-union movement, a movement which the Anarchist-Communists generally shunned because they feared that a padrone, a boss, would emerge within the union with special privileges and authority. They detected the kind of "iron law of oligarchy" which a number of European sociologists, notably Robert Michels, were evolving after the turn of the century. The third group were individualist anarchists, who were suspicious of both the communal arrangements of the Anarchist-Communists and the labor organizations of the Anarcho-Syndi calists, and who relied instead on the actions of autonomous individuals. Some of the most interest ing, not to say exotic, Italian anarchist periodicals were published by individualists, such as Nihil and Cogito, Ergo Sion ("I think, therefore I am, " with emphasis always on the "I"), both appearing in San Francisco early in the century, and Eresia (Heresy) in New York some twenty years later. Their chief prophet was the nineteenth-century German philos opher Max Stirner, whose book The Ego and His Own served as their testament.

There was also a fourth group that I think deserves to be mentioned, if only because it is so often neglected. This group consisted of anarchists who refused to attach any prefix or suffix to their name, but who called for anarchism pure and simple. They sometimes called themselves "anarchists without adjectives' " not communist anarchists or syndicalist anarchists or individualist anarchists; and the figure whom they most admired was Malatesta, an out standing personality and thinker who, like Galleani, is crying out for a student to come along and write his biography. (Professor Pernicone, it might be mentioned, is completing a biography of that third great Italian anarchist, Carlo Tresca.) In this very audience, one hopes, someone is already burrowing away in the archives and doing the necessary work.

I have said that many of the Italian anarchists, especially of the Galleani school, tended to shun the trade unions. Because of this, the Italian anarchists did not play a conspicuous role in the organized American labor movement, differing in this respect from the Jewish anarchists, who were so prominent in the textile unions, above all the International Ladies' Garment Workers' Union and the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. Not that the Italian anarchists were absent from these unions, but their role was not a major one because of their suspicion of formal organizations that might harden into hierarchical and authoritarian shape, with their own officials, bureaucrats, and bosses. The Russian anarchists, by contrast, organized a Union of Russian Workers in the United States and Canada which boasted nearly 10,000 members. Avoiding this type of activity, the Italian anarchists contented themselves with participation in strikes and demonstrations. We have mentioned the Paterson strikes of 1902 and 1913, to which we might add the Lawrence strike of 1912; and we know that Sacco and Vanzetti both took part in strikes in Massachusetts, Sacco at Hopedale and Vanzetti at Plymouth.

In forming groups, publishing newspapers, and agitating and striking for better working conditions, the Italian anarchists were creating a kind of alternative society which differed sharply from the capitalist and statist society that they deplored. They had their own clubs, their own beliefs, their own culture; they were building their own world in the midst of a system which they opposed. Rather than wait for the millennium to arrive, they tried to live the anarchist life on a day-to-day basis within the interstices of American capitalism. They formed little enclaves, little nuclei of freedom, which they hoped would spread and multiply and eventually engulf the entire country and the entire world. After ten or twelve hours in the factory or mine, they would come home, eat supper, then go to their anarchist club and begin to churn out their pamphlets and newspapers on makeshift printing presses. Aldino Felicani is just one example of such an anarchist, and the amount of literature in his possession that Norman di Giovanni described to us last night was only a small fraction, large as it was, of the total output of literature produced by these self-educated workingmen, a token of their dedication and idealism. I would estimate, from my own research, that there were in the neighborhood of 500 anarchist newspapers and journals published in the United States between 1880 and 1940, in a dozen or so different languages. Of these, the number of Italian papers-and this would include the numeri unici, the single numbers issued for special occasions-approached 90 or 100 titles, an astonishing figure when you consider that they were produced by ordinary workers in their spare time, mainly on Sunday and in the evening. And in addition to newspapers and journals, a flood of books and pamphlets rolled off the presses, comprising an enormous alternative literature, the literature of anarchism.


Beyond their publishing ventures, the Italian anarchists engaged in a whole range of social activities. Life was hard for these working-class immigrants, but there were many moments of happiness and laughter. They had their orchestras and theater groups, their picnics and outings, their lectures and entertainments. Hardly a week went by that there was not some traditional social activity, but with a new radical twist. Leafing through one of the old newspapers, I recently came across a picnic at the restaurant of Mrs. Bresci, the widow of Gaetano Bresci. Mrs. Bresci was holding a picnic in her restaurant in Cliffside Park, New Jersey. (The police later drove her out of town, and she drifted westward with her two daughters, who may still be alive in California.) Picnics were very important occasions, not merely to dance and drink wine and have fun, all of which was done, but also to collect money for the anarchist press in order to turn out all those pamphlets and journals that I was talking about. New York and New Jersey anarchists made excursions up the Hudson in rented boats, and when they got up to Bear Mountain, or wherever they were going, they would have a picnic, and out would come the food and the mandolins, and then of course the collection.

Lectures were another frequent activity for the Italian anarchists, and especially the lectures of Galleani, whom they prized above all other speakers. The lectures were held in rented halls and in anarchist clubhouses - of the Gruppo Autonomo of East Boston, for example, or of the Gruppo Diritto all'Esistenza of Paterson or the Gruppo Gaetano Bresci of East Harlem, or perhaps of a Circolo di Studi Sociali, a "circle of social studies:' hundreds of which existed throughout the country. How do we know about these groups? Look at any anarchist paper, and you will see them listed, with the weekly or monthly contributions of their members, 25 cents, fifty cents, a dollar, and it all added up. In fact, it was these very contributions that kept the Sacco-Vanzetti Defense Committee going though seven years of struggle on behalf of the two victims. That's why there was some point to the voice raised in the front row yesterday. Everybody was talking about Felicani -Felicani did this and Felicani did that, and indeed he did do all those things and was a great, a wonderful man, without whom there would have been no defense effort. But the activity of the rank-and-file anarchists in all those mining towns of Pennsylvania, and all the quarters and half-dollars that they sent in which made up the defense fund, should not be forgotten.

The Italian anarchists also had their dramatical societies, a particularly interesting aspect of the "counter-culture' I have been speaking about. Amateur theater groups in the small towns and large cities put on hundreds of plays, some of them by Pietro Gori, such as The First of May. Another play that was frequently performed was called The Martyrs of Chicago and dealt with the Haymarket Affair of the 1880s. There was a Pietro Gori Dramatical Society in New York City that lasted until the 1960s and was dissolved only because of the death and old age of its members.

Anarchist schools formed another part of this alternative culture, schools named after the Spanish educator and martyr Francisco Ferrer, who was shot in the trenches of Montjuich Fortress in October 1909. There were Italian and non-Italian Ferrer Schools in the United States, called Modern Schools, a name which suggests what they were aiming for a school to match the modern, scientific age of the twentieth century, in contrast to the parochial schools, which the anarchists saw as drenched with the spirit of religious dogma and superstition, or the public schools, in which leaders and generals and presidents were glorified. The Modern Schools were schools in which the children were educated in an atmosphere of freedom and spontaneity, in which they would learn about the working-class movement and about revolutions, as well as how to think and live freely. There were at least two Italian anarchist schools that I know about - I'm sure there were more that I don't t know about-one of them in Paterson and the other in Philadelphia. Both were Sunday and evening schools attended by adults and children alike.

Finally, a word about celebrations, another example of how traditional modes of life were transmuted into radical occasions and expressions. Instead of celebrating Christmas or Easter or Thanksgiving, the three great holidays for the anarchists were the working-class day on May First, the anniversary of the Paris Commune on March 18th, and the anniversary of the Haymarket executions on November I I th. Every year, in every part of the country, hundreds of meetings were held to commemorate these occasions. In the same connection, one more point might be noted, namely baptisms. One reads of Emma Goldman, for example, making a coast-to-coast lecture in 1899 and stopping in Spring Valley, Illinois, among the Italian and French miners, who bring their babies to her so she can baptize them, not with the names of saints, but with the names of great rebels or of Zola's novel Germinal, which was so popular among the radicals of that period.

This, then, is a brief description of the Italian anarchist movement in the United States. I would like, however, to repeat something that I said at the beginning, that Sacco and Vanzetti were merely two rank-and-file members of this extensive movement. They did everything that the others did. They subscribed to the newspapers -one finds in the columns of La Cronaca Sovversiva their 25-cent and 50-cent contributions. They attended -religiously, one might almost say - the lectures of Luigi Galleani. They passed out the announcements of these lectures and circulated the literature of their movement, the pamphlets, the leaflets, the journals. They attended the concerts and picnics; one need only read Upton Sinclair's remarkable novel Boston, still a valuable source on Sacco and Vanzetti, to see the importance of the "pic-a-nic,' as he spells it in his not entirely successful attempt to convert Italian-American English into the printed word. They also acted in the theater groups. Both Sacco and his wife Rosina took part in anarchist plays, as did their friend Vanzetti. They agitated during strikes, something I've already mentioned. They took part in demonstrations. Vanzetti, when he was arrested, had in his pocket an announcement of a protest meeting which he had drafted, and which, I was happy to see, appears in the exhibition of materials on display upstairs from the Felicani Collection. He also, in prison, wrote articles for the anarchist press, some of which appeared in L'Adunata dei Refrattari, a successor to La Cronaca Sovversiva, which ceased publication as recently as 1971 after fifty years of existence.

To the very end, then, Sacco and Vanzetti remained active anarchists, continuing their work even in prison. Through their articles and letters, through their speeches in court, they were carrying on their agitation, propagating the ideas of their creed. To ignore the anarchist dimension is to ignore the most cherished part of their lives. Let me conclude with a quotation from Malatesta which goes far to explain their tireless endeavors. "The point" Malatesta wrote in A Conversation Between Two Workers, "is not whether we accomplish anarchism today, tomorrow, even within ten centuries, but that we walk towards anarchism today, tomorrow, and always."



Sacco Vanzetti Project Web Site ©2002 PhotoArk Digital Archiving, Woodstock, Vermont


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