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At the Cafe: Conversations on Anarchism Paperback – 1 Jan 2005


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While Malatesta was hiding from the police he regularly went to a cafe in Ancona, Italy. He had shaved off his usual beard but he was still taking a risk. Especially as this wasn't an anarchist cafe, but had a variety of customers including the local policeman. The conversations he had in this cafe became the basis for the dialogues that make up this book. For the first time in English, Malatesta, in his usual commonsense and matter-of-fact style, sets out and critically analyses the arguments for and against anarchism. Translated by Paul Nursey-Bray, this is a classic defence of anarchism that anticipates the rise of nationalism, and communism.

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PROSPERO [A plump member of the bourgeoisie, full of political economy and other sciences]: But of course... of course... we know all about it. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A clear and easy-to-read look at anarchism 3 May 2008
By Andrea Gibbons - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Malatesta began writing this in 1897 but it remains entirely relevant today...it was intended as a primer to anarchist ideas and was based on conversations he himself had over a period of years in a cafe while he was officially in hiding. It explores questions commonly raised when thinking about what the world could look like without government, and is a self reflective and self-critical piece.

This is quite a good exposition of what could be, and how we could get there...it is rather theoretical of course but in simple language. And I liked the format of question and answer, although I do doubt that anyone sitting in an Italian cafe would have such a courteous and expository dialog. It certainly makes it easier to read and highlights the common questions that come up in any discussion of a better future. The fundamental one being human nature of course, but surrounding that the need for a government (or not), the need for police and soldiers, the meaning of patriotism, the nature of private property and its role in producing inequality, the meaning of freedom...and there is a wee bit in there about how we can get to the world we want, the role of organizers in preparing the way to a better future. And it touches on the role of violence as well, but only a little which is not surprising given when and where Malatesta was writing and publishing this. It's a quick and very clear read that is thought provoking and which I found incredibly interesting and useful in thinking about social change.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
malatesta 7 Sept. 2012
By anarchy al - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have always found Malatesta to be the most accessible and down to earth of the anarchists and this little reader is an easy and fun starter.
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