Medicine... And Anarchism

By Errico Malatesta (1924)

Entry 97


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


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(1853 - 1932)

Italian, Anarchist Intellectual, Anti-Capitalist, and Anti-Fascist

: There have almost certainly been better anarchist writers, more skilled anarchist organizers, anarchists who have sacrificed more for their beliefs. Perhaps though, Malatesta is celebrated because he combined all of these so well, exemplifying thought expressed in deed... (From: Cunningham Bio.)
• "Our task then is to make, and to help others make, the revolution by taking advantage of every opportunity and all available forces: advancing the revolution as much as possible in its constructive as well as destructive role, and always remaining opposed to the formation of any government, either ignoring it or combating it to the limits of our capacities." (From: "The Anarchist Revolution," by Errico Malatesta.)
• "Government is the consequence of the spirit of domination and violence with which some men have imposed themselves on other, and is at the same time the creature as well as the creator of privilege and its natural defender." (From: "Anarchist Propaganda," by Errico Malatesta.)
• "...the oppressed are always in a state of legitimate self-defense, and have always the right to attack the oppressors." (From: "Anarchists Have Forgotten Their Principles," by E....)

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Medicine... And Anarchism

Errico Malatesta
(Pensiero e Volontà, n. 9, May 10, 1924)

 Photo by Daniel Go, CC BY-NC License

Photo by Daniel Go,
CC BY-NC License

MEDICINE... AND ANARCHISM. — Under this title, in the editorial mail of our issue n. 5, we published a note by which we refused the invitation of some comrades to make propaganda in favor of certain methods of treatment conflicting with science and the commonly accepted medical practice.

This fact upset comrade N. Cuneo from New York. Though acknowledging that Pensiero e Volontà is not the right place for medical discussions (in fact, he is not among those who urged us to that propaganda), in the April 15 issue of Libero Accordo he stands up for the “natural treatment”, i.e. a treatment without drugs, which is said to be making great progress, and to have been acknowledged and legalized in many states of the american Union.

Evidently we could not make ourselves understood.

We did not mean to ban any method; we only wanted to declare our incompetence, our ignorance... and also, to some extent, to remind some comrades of their own ignorance.

There is among us a tendency to consider true, good and fine everything that appears under the agreeable cloak of revolt against the accepted “truths”, especially if supported by people who are, or call themselves, anarchists. This shows a deficiency of that spirit of investigation and criticism that should be maximally developed in anarchists.

It is alright to regard none of the achievements of human intelligence as definitive, and to aspire always to new discoveries, new advances; however, one has to mind that the new is not always better than the old, and that being anarchist does not involve being gifted with infallibility.

Medicine is an eminently experimental science, and a young science still at its beginning, so to speak. Therefore it is good to look with sympathy upon any honest and enlightened attempt to open new avenues. However, it does not seem exaggerated to require that those who want to criticize and oppose the old methods know what such methods are and what facts are known in their favor or against them. In other words, we simply require that those who want to talk about a subject take first the trouble of studying it. Therefore, if there are comrades who feel they have enough competence to discuss medical subjects, let them do so, but do not let them ask us to talk about what we ignore.

After all, we know good doctors who profess anarchist ideas; however, they do not talk about anarchy when they do science, or they only talk about it when a scientific issue becomes a social issue, i.e. when they note that the present social organization hinders the advances of medicine, and prevents them from being applied for the benefit of all mankind.

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May 10, 1924
Medicine... And Anarchism — Publication.

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