Freedom News

Ciao, Alfredo 1937-2023

In commemoration of Alfredo Bonanno, who died earlier this month, we publish a translation of this text written by his younger comrades. 

For over fifty years, Alfredo made a major contribution to revolutionary anarchism as an editor, a theorist, a man of action, and an experimenter in organisational methods based on affinity and informality. What radically differentiated him from any intellectual was not only his rejection of all academic careers and media representation but the fact that analysing the state and capitalism did not serve for him to go to sleep with clearer ideas but to draw precise consequences – ethical, practical, organisational – in everyday life. Within certain invariants of anarchism – Bakunin, first and foremost, whom Alfredo did not mummify in learned historical manuals but dragged into the battles of the present – his constant endeavour was to think up and practise an insurrectional model suited to the era of the technological restructuring of capitalism. Not insurrection as waiting for the ‘X’ hour, but as an attempt to attack specific projects of power here and now with a very precise methodology: the affinity group as the propeller, the informal structure independent of parties and trade unions as the proposal. From the individual to the group to more or less substantial pieces of the excluded class, a qualitative concept of power (and life) was articulated for Alfredo in the anarchist revolutionary intervention.

But it is not of his theoretical contribution that we want to talk about today, nor of his stubborn determination as a publisher, organiser, robber, prisoner, but of what it meant for some of us, very young comrades at the time, to know him. And to get to know him not only in the debates and initiatives of the struggle but also in his daily commitment, where, along with his impressive capacity for work, his openness to confrontation, and his overabundance of life, his thunderous laughter emerged. Today, our thoughts do not turn to the tomes, pamphlets, or rallies but to the agnolotti that Alfredo would prepare in the middle of the night after we had finished writing, paging and printing a weekly, to the improbable outfit – pyjamas, leather shoes, scarf and cap – with which he presented himself to the press technicians or Digos agents, to the way he knew how to reconcile an undoubtedly cumbersome ego with an unmistakable self-irony.

Two aspects of Alfredo really shaped us. The tension towards consistency and the spirit of design adventure. In contrast to the prolixity of some of his texts, some of his formulas were short and strong, as only reasons for living can be.

Why consistency? Because when we don’t react to injustice, we feel like shit, and we don’t want to live feeling like shit. Need I say more?

And then the most precious of his suggestions, which resonates with us now that we are witnessing unspeakable horror in his beloved Palestine: we must conceive of ourselves as having no limits, letting reality smash them in front of us, something he all too generously does, without ever anticipating it.

Because the quality of our lives is stronger than everything. Even death.

Thank you, Alfredo.

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