Alfredo Maria Bonanno (born 1937 in Catania, Italy) is a main theorist of contemporary insurrectionary anarchism.[1][2] A long-time anarchist, he has been imprisoned multiple times. Bonanno is an editor of Anarchismo Editions and many other publications, only some of which have been translated into English. He has been involved in the anarchist movement for over four decades.

Political life

In the 1960s a tendency within Italian anarchism which did not identify either with the more classical synthesist Italian Anarchist Federation or with the platformist inclined GAAP (Anarchist Groups of Proletarian Action) started to emerge as local groups. These groups emphasized direct action, informal affinity groups and expropriation for financing anarchist activity.[3] It is from within these groups that Bonanno emerged, particularly influenced by the practice of the Spanish exiled anarchist Josep Lluís i Facerias.[3]

The Magazine Do or Die reports that "Much of the Italian insurrectionary anarchist critique of the movements of the '70s focused on the forms of organisation that shaped the forces of struggle and out of this a more developed idea of informal organisation grew. A critique of the authoritarian organisations of the '70s, whose members often believed they were in a privileged position to struggle as compared to the proletariat as a whole, was further refined in the struggles of the '80s, such as the early 1980s struggle against a military base that was to house nuclear weapons in Comiso, Sicily. Anarchists were very active in that struggle, which was organised into self-managed leagues."[4] A main theorizer of these ideas was Bonanno and his publication Anarchismo.[2]

In 1993 Bonanno wrote For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International in which he proposes coordination between Mediterranean insurrectionists after the period of the dissolution of the Soviet Union and civil war in the former Yugoslavia.[5]

Bonanno was one of hundreds of Italian anarchists arrested on the night of June 19, 1997, when Italian security forces carried out raids on anarchist centres and private homes all over Italy. The raids followed the bombing of Palazzo Marino in Milan, Italy on April 25, 1997. On February 2, 2003 Bonanno was sentenced to 6 years in prison plus a €2000 fine (first degree 3 years, 6 months) for armed robbery and other crimes. These charges were related to the "Marini Trial", in which Italian anarchists were convicted of belonging to a subversive armed group whose ideological leader was Bonanno.

He spent a year and a half in jail for publishing Armed Joy.[6]

On October 4, 2009, Bonanno was arrested with Greek anarchist Christos Stratigopolous in Trikala, central Greece on suspicion of having carried out an armed robbery in a local bank. 46,900 euros in cash were found in the car. [7]

Bonanno was denied entry into Chile in December 13, 2013. Bonanno had planned to participate in a series of conferences in Chile. Having arrived to Chile with Sky Airlines from Argentina he was flown back to Argentina by the same airline two hours after arrival.[8] The Investigations Police of Chile said the denial of entry was indebted to the penal record of Bonanno.[8]


Regarding national liberation struggles, he said that anarchists:

...refuse to participate in national liberation fronts; they participate in class fronts which may or may not be involved in national liberation struggles. The struggle must spread to establish economic, political and social structures in the liberated territories, based on federalist and libertarian organisations.[9]

Bonanno rejects formal organizations in favour of affinity groups, this should however not be confused with a rejection of large groups of people working together to achieve a goal. Regarding this, Bonanno has said:

"One single affinity group cannot necessarily carry out such an intervention on its own. Often, at least according to the (few and controversial) experiences to date, the nature of the problem and complexity of intervention, including the extent of the area as well as the means required to develop the project and the ideas and needs of the people involved, require something more. Hence the need to keep in contact with other affinity groups so as to increase the number of comrades and find the means and ideas suited to the complexity and dimension of the problem that is being faced."[10]

Bonanno also rejects syndicalism, and contrasts his critique to that of Errico Malatesta, rejecting it not just as an end, but also as a means:

As we shall see further on, Malatesta’s position is a radical one, but we do not agree with him completely. There can be no doubt that syndicalism is not an end in itself but the fact that it can be considered a means must imply a means for preparing the revolution, not for continuing exploitation, or worse still, preparing the counter-revolution. That is the problem. [11]

While he rejects formal organization, he does not think praxis should be restricted to merely anarchists. For this, he uses the term 'autonomous base nuclei', which includes anarchists and non-anarchists struggling together:

The essential element in the insurrectional project is therefore mass participation. And, as we started off from the condition of affinity among the single anarchist groups participating in it, it is also an essential element of this affinity itself. It would be no more than mere camaraderie d’elite if it were to remain circumscribed to the reciprocal search for deeper personal knowledge between comrades.

But it would be nonsense to consider trying to make other people become anarchists and suggest that they enter our groups during the struggle. Not only would it be nonsense, it would be a horrible ideological forcing of things that would upturn the whole meaning of affinity groups and the eventual informal organisation that might ensue in order to face the specific repressive attack.

But here we are faced with the need to create organisational structures that are capable of regrouping the excluded in such a way as to begin the attack on repression. So we come to the need to give life to autonomous base nuclei, which can obviously give themselves any other name that indicates the concept of self-organisation.

We have now reached the crucial point of the insurrectional project: the constitution of autonomous base nuclei (we are using this term here to simplify things).

The essential, visible and immediately comprehensible characteristic of the latter is that they are composed of both anarchists and non-anarchists.[10]


Some of Bonanno's published essays translated into English include:


  1. ^ "Modern illegalism is commonly associated and championed by proponents of ‘insurrectional anarchism’ of which Bonnano [sic] is seen as a main theoretician.""Illegalism" by Freedom Press
  2. ^ a b Miguel Amorós. "Anarquía profesional y desarme teórico. Sobre insurrecionalismo"
  3. ^ a b "Vivir la Anarquía .Artículo en solidaridad con Alfredo Bonanno y Christos Stratigopoulos" Archived 2015-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ ""Insurrectionary Anarchy: Organising for Attack! " by Do or Die Issue 10. page(s) 258-266". Archived from the original on February 8, 2017. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  5. ^ For An Anti-authoritarian Insurrectionalist International by Alfredo Bonanno
  6. ^ Piccolillo, Virginia (November 4, 2010). "Una pista italiana per i pacchi-bomba". Corriere della Sera (in Italian). Archived from the original on January 1, 2016.
  7. ^ Βουνάτσος Γιώργος, Νεσφυγέ Λία (October 6, 2009). "Αναρχικός στην Ιταλία, ληστής στα Τρίκαλα". Ta Nea (in Greek). Retrieved November 15, 2021.
  8. ^ a b PDI impide ingreso a Chile a reconocido pensador anarquista italiano
  9. ^ Alfredo M. Bonanno, Anarchism and the National Liberation Struggle, 1977
  10. ^ a b Alfredo M. Bonanno, Insurrectionalist Anarchism
  11. ^ Alfredo M. Bonanno, A Critique of Syndicalist Methods'

Further reading