Comrades, accomplices, friends.
I write this to reflect on and share how the passing of Alfredo Bonanno is affecting me this evening. Though his spirit has left his body, the spark he carried through his life continues to catch new kindling, burning away what he hoped we could live without, and illuminating the worlds that would be possible.
Born in 1937, Alfredo Bonanno was an Italian anarchist philosopher and writer. He is best known as a prominent theorist and proponent of contemporary insurrectionary anarchism. This branch of anarchism emphasizes the importance of direct action and violence in the struggle against authority and oppression.
In his seminal work, Armed Joy, Bonanno critiques work as a tool of capitalist domination, advocating for a joyful insurrection that reclaims control and pursues individual passions. Anarchy and Insurrection expands this vision, outlining a strategy for dismantling the current system and building a new society based on individual autonomy, mutual aid, and direct action, rejecting traditional revolutionary movements in favor of a decentralized and spontaneous approach to achieving liberation.
Bonanno's writings were deeply influenced by the work of Max Stirner, an individualist anarchist who argued that individuals should create their values and norms, rather than submit to the authority of the State or any other external force. Bonanno also drew inspiration from the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, whose ideas about the will to power resonated with Bonanno's own belief in the potential for human beings to overcome oppression and create a new world.
For many of us, Bonanno's writings were more than mere words on paper – they were a call to arms, a defiant scream against the shackles of work, authority, and the State. His words resonated deeply with me, growing a smoldering fire that had been smothered by the ashes of colonialism and oppression.
Bonanno's anti-work perspective became a cornerstone of my praxis. His critique of capitalism, with its insatiable hunger for profit and its relentless assault on the Earth, resonated deeply with my own experiences of dispossession and environmental degradation. He showed me that work, as it is currently conceived, is not merely an economic necessity, but a tool of domination used to control our bodies, our minds, and our very lives.
But Bonanno was not simply a critic of the existing order. He was also a dreamer, a visionary who dared to imagine a world beyond work, beyond domination, beyond the artificial constraints imposed upon us by the State and its institutions. He spoke of a world of joy, where creativity and human connection flourished, where we were free to define our own lives and pursue our passions.
This vision of joy was particularly potent for me as an Indigenous person. For centuries, our cultures have been subjected to a relentless assault on our languages, our traditions, and our very way of life. Bonanno's words reminded me that the pursuit of joy is not a frivolous indulgence, but a form of resistance, a way of reclaiming our humanity and fighting back against the forces that seek to extinguish our spirit.
Bonanno helped inspire me to explore ways to live my life following my principles. This led me to participate in direct action against oppressive institutions, but also to dive deeply into regenerative horticulture, learning to grow food in a way that nourishes both the body and the Earth.
These seemingly disparate activities are two sides of the same coin - something Bonanno's writing helped me make clearer to comrades and opponents. Through direct action, I antagonise the structures that uphold the system of work and domination. Through regenerative horticulture, I create a space of autonomy and self-sufficiency, a living testament to the possibility of a world beyond work.
His words continue to inspire me to live how I want, and I can see how that inspires others to do the same. He taught us to live with courage, with passion, and with a deep-seated love for freedom. He showed us that in the depth of darkness, a single spark has the freedom to spread. I hope to continue living out the type of life Bonanno sought to inspire, so I can inspire others to do the same.
Armed with joy,