Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What Iain said!

In response to the news of the Liberty archive's first-phase completion, my friend Iain commented, "now, if only someone could do that for Freedom between 1886 and 1926!"

Amen! And for Mother Earth, and for any number of other important anarchist papers and journals. I've started to work up a text archive of the six issues of The Rebel (Boston, 1895-6), an anarchist-communist paper, which had a few Voltairine de Cleyre items in it, in part because it looked like a simple job, and because I wanted to look at something other than issues of Liberty and Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly for a change. Partly, I tackled it because it was there, and we ought to do what we can to make locally available bits of our history available more universally.

I'm working on a proposal for the Liberty Site that suggests both a philosophy and some mechanisms for gathering up our scattered heritage, using Liberty and the debates within and around it as a focus, and our interest in those debates as an engine, for extending and improving the existing archive. If someone was willing to begin a similar scanning project with Freedom, Mother Earth, or any of the other significant social anarchist periodicals, we could, if nothing else, bring to bear that much more interest and, one would hope, labor. If anyone is interested in attempting such a thing, get in touch. Perhaps we can work out some way of making it happen.

Two scarce J. K. Ingalls pamphlets

Two of the hard-to-find pamphlets by Joshua King Ingalls have surfaced among the items digitized by the Labadie Collection staff. The Unrevealed Religion is listed in their index of titles, but the pamphlet scanned also includes Social Industry, the Sole Source of Increase, which was issued as an introduction to Ingalls' columns in Fair Play. I had read The Unrevealed Religion, but had not attempted to transcribe the faint, brittle interlibrary loan copy I had access to. The faintness of the scans suggests the difficulties involved. But access to this electronic version means I can get that transcription done at my leisure, without jeopardizing the integrity of any rarities. Slowly, but surely, all of Ingalls' work is surfacing.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Liberty archive: phase 1 complete!

It's all there in the archive, all 411 issues of Liberty and Libertas. It's a warts-and-all collection, with plenty of warts. So far, all I've proven is that an individual can produce a free archive almost as sketchy as the big commercial databases. (To really scramble things, however, seems to require much more capital than I have access to.)

Now comes the fun part, figuring out what software to use for the more formal archive, continuing the transformation into a searchable text archive, and starting to make use of all this material that has been so hard to access.

And download, download, download! Squirrel away copies of these things, so that there is never again any question of Liberty not being available to those who are interested in the anarchist tradition.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Liberty Site update

401 issues of Liberty and Libertas are now available in the archive. That leaves only 10 issues of Liberty to go! I should be able to complete this phase tomorrow.

Next up: A more complete proposal for The Liberty Site—a rather ambitious scheme to answer, hopefully in the positive, the question: Can Liberty be the mother of order?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

And you thought "Lucifer" was an unfortunate name...

Yes, Virginia, there are worse names for your radical journal than Lucifer the Light-Bearer, although that may not be immediately clear. When Lucifer changed its name and format, becoming the American Journal of Eugenics, it was considered by many a step in the right direction, towards a more staid, respectable image that would appeal to more Americans. Bolton Hall, for example, wrote in to express his approval of the changes. The masthead of the new journal was, like that of Lucifer, quite striking. What do think, shall I have some t-shirts made?

I'm afraid, however, that the American Journal of Eugenics only takes the First Runner-Up Prize for Worst Radical Journal name in an era obsessed with "race health." First Prize undoubtedly goes to The Swastika, a Magazine of Triumph, which advertised in the pages of our runner-up.

Wow! It's very hard to know precisely how to respond with justice to these periodicals. The Harmans were certainly most concerned with equal rights for women within marital and/or sexual relations. Their "eugenics" was, in most respects, consistent with their libertarianism. The concern with "breeding" in the more literal sense, of taking an active role in reproduction, goes back a long way in radical circles. Stephen Pearl Andrews was critical of some aspects of the earlier "stirpiculture," but did not reject it entirely. Unfortunately, we know that some apparently sincere libertarians of the late 19th century were equally earnest anti-semites in the early 20th. Morrison I. Swift, to take the most disturbing example, went from "the ablest critic of Anglo-saxonism" to a proponent of the sterilization of the Jews. And in 1909, when libertarians were talking perhaps too glibly about "the unfit" in the pages of their journals, the programs of forced sterilization were already underway in the United States, targeting groups like the Ishmaelites of Indiana.

Proudhon's 1848 "Toast to the Revolution"

It is with more than a bit of fear and trepidation that I embark on a new phase of my mutualist researches, with a working translation of Proudhon's "Toast to the Revolution." I neglected my French studies for a good couple of decades, before returning a year or so back to tackle the untranslated portions of Proudhon and the writings of a few of his contemporaries. It has been an interesting year, bringing myself back up to speed, and learning to read at a level I had never really attempted as a student. There are undoubtedly some mistakes in the work, but I am fairly confident that there are no disastrous ones. Proudhon's prose can be a bit odd anyway. His metaphors and sense of humor require a little work in any language. (Look, for instance, for the moment where it is useful to answer the question: Why is the Revolution like a steeplechase?) Anyway, this will be my first and last apology for this translation project. The fact is that most of Proudhon's work has remained untranslated, despite Benjamin R. Tucker's ambitions, and despite Proudhon's importance to the anarchist tradition. I hope others will use these translations, refer to the originals, improve on them, and, ultimately, let this cup pass from me. In the meantime, though, I have to read this stuff, and I might as well share some of it, to the extent i can. Enjoy!

Toast to the Revolution

October 17, 1848


When our friends of the democratic republic, apprehensive of our ideas and our inclinations, cry out against the qualification of socialist which we add to that of democrat, of what do they reproach us?—They reproach us for not being revolutionaries.

Let us see then if they or we are in the tradition; whether they or we have the true revolutionary practice.

And when our adversaries of the middle class, concerned for their privileges, pour upon us calumny and insult, what is the pretext of their charges? It is that we want to totally destroy property, the family, and civilization.

Let us see then again whether we or our adversaries better deserve the title of conservatives.

Revolutions are the successive manifestation of justice in human history.—It is for this reason that all revolutions have their origins in a previous revolution.

Whoever talks about revolution necessarily talks about progress, but just as necessarily about conservation. From this it follows that revolution is always in history and that, strictly speaking, there are not several revolutions, but only one permanent revolution.

The revolution, eighteen centuries ago, called itself the gospel, the Good News. Its fundamental dogma was the Unity of God; its motto, the equality of all men before God. Ancient slavery rested on the antagonism and inequality of gods, which represented the relative inferiority of races, in the state of war. Christianity created the rights of peoples, the brotherhood of nations; it abolished simultaneously idolatry and slavery.

Certainly no one denies today that the Christians, revolutionaries who fought by testimony and by martyrdom, were men of progress. They were also conservatives.

The polytheist initiation, after civilizing the first humans, after converting these men of the woods, sylvestres homine, as the poet says, into men of the towns, became itself, through sensualism and privilege, a principle of corruption and enslavement. Humanity was lost, when it was saved by the Christ, who received for that glorious mission the double title of Savior and Redeemer, or as we put it in our political language, conservative and revolutionary.

That was the character of the first and greatest of revolutions. It renewed the world, and in renewing it conserved it.

But, supernatural and spiritual as it was, that revolution nevertheless only expressed the more material side of justice, the enfranchisement of bodies and the abolition of slavery. Established on faith, it left thought enslaved; it was not sufficient for the emancipation of man, who is body and spirit, matter and intelligence. It called for another revolution. A thousand years after the coming of Christ, a new upheaval began, within the religion the first revolution founded, a prelude to new progress. Scholasticism carried within it, along with the authority of the Church and the scripture, the authority of reason! In about the 16th century, the revolution burst out.

The revolution, in that epoch, without abandoning its first given, took another name, which was already celebrated. It called itself philosophy. Its dogma was the liberty of reason, and its motto, which follows from that, was the equality of all before reason.

Here then is man declared inviolable and free in his double essence, as soul and as body. Was this progress? Who but a tyrant could deny it? Was it an act of conservation? The question does not even merit a response.

The destiny of man, a wise man once said, is to contemplate the works of God. Having known God in his heart, by faith, the time had come for man to know him with his reason. The Gospel had been for man like a primary education; now grown to adulthood, he needed a higher teaching, lest he stagnate in idiocy and the servitude that follows it.

In this way, the likes of Galileo, Arnaud de Bresce, Giordano Bruno, Descartes, Luther—all that elite of thinkers, wise men and artists, who shone in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries as great revolutionaries—were at the same time the conservatives of society, the heralds of civilization. They continued, in opposition to the representatives of Christ, the movement started by Christ, and for it suffered no lack of persecution and martyrdom!

Here was the second great revolution, the second great manifestation of justice. It too renewed the world—and saved it.

But philosophy, adding its conquests to those of the Gospel, did not fulfill the program of that eternal justice. Liberty, called forth from the heart of God by Christ, was still only individual: it had to be established in the tribunal. Conscience was needed to make it pass into law.

About the middle of the last century then a new development commenced and, as the first revolution had been religious and the second philosophical, the third revolution was political. It called itself the social contract.

It took for its dogma the sovereignty of the people: it was the counterpart of the Christian dogma of the unity of god.

Its motto was equality before the law, the corollary of those which it had previously inscribed on its flag: equality before God and equality before reason.

Thus, with each revolution, liberty appeared to us always as the instrument of justice, with equality as its criterion. The third term—the aim of justice, the goal it always pursues, the end it approaches—is brotherhood.

Never let us lose sight of this order of revolutionary development. History testifies that brotherhood, supreme end of revolutions, does not impose itself. It has as conditions first liberty, then equality. It is as if just said to us all: Men, be free; citizens, become equal; brothers, embrace one another.

Who dares deny that the revolution undertaken sixty years ago by our fathers, and which the heroic memory makes our hearts beat with such force that we almost forget our own sense of duty—who denies, I ask, that that revolution was a progress? Nobody. Very well, then. But was it not both progressive and conservative? Could society have survived with its time-worn despotism, its degraded nobility, its corrupt clergy, with its egotistical and undisciplined parliament, so given to intrigue, with a people in rags, a race which can be exploited at will?

Is it necessary to blot out the sun, in order to make the case? The revolution of ’89 was the salvation of humanity; it is for that reason that it deserves the title of revolution.

But, citizens, if our fathers have done much for liberty and fraternity, and have even more profoundly opened up the road of brotherhood, they have left it to us to do even more.

Justice did not speak its last word in ’89, and who knows when it will speak it?

Are we not witnesses, our generation of 1848, to a corruption worse than that of the worst days of history, to a misery comparable to that of feudal times, an oppression of spirit and of conscience, and a degradation of all human faculties, which exceeds all that was seen in the epochs of most dreadful cruelty? Of what use are the conquests of the past, of religion and philosophy, and the constitutions and codes, when in virtue of the same rights that are guaranteed to us by those constitutions and codes, we find ourselves dispossessed of nature, excommunicated from the human species? What is politics, when we lack bread, when even the work which might give bread is taken from us? What to us is the freedom to go or to become, the liberty to think or not to think, the guarantees of the law, and the spectacles of the marvels of civilization? What is the meager education which is give to us, when by the withdrawal of all those objects on which we might practice human activity, we are ourselves plunged into an absolute void; when to the appeal of our senses, our hearts, and our reason, the universe and civilization reply: Néant! Nothing!

Citizens, I swear it by Christ and by our fathers! Justice has sounded its fourth hour, and misfortune to those who have not heard the call!

—Revolution of 1848, what do you call yourself?

—I am the right to work!

—What is your flag?


—And your motto?

Equality before fortune!

—Where are you taking us?

To Brotherhood!

Salut to you, Revolution! I will serve you as I have served God, as I have served Philosophy and Liberty, with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my intelligence and my courage, and will have no other sovereign and ruler than you!

Thus the revolution, having been by turns religious, philosophical and political, has become economic. And like all its predecessors it brings us nothing less than a contradiction of the past, a sort of reversal of the established order! Without this complete reversal of principles and beliefs, there is no revolution; there is only mystification. Let us continue to interrogate history, citizens.

Within the empire of polytheism, slavery had established and perpetuated itself in the name of what principle? In the name of religion.—Christ appeared, and slavery was abolished, precisely in the name of religion.

Christianity, in its turn, made reason subject to faith; philosophy reversed that order, and subordinated faith to reason.

Feudalism, in the name of politics, controlled everything, subjecting the laborer to the bourgeois, the bourgeois to the noble, the noble to the king, the king to the priest, and the priest to a dead letter.—In the name of politics again, ’89 subjected everyone to the law, and recognized among men only citizens.

Today labor is at the discretion of capital. Well, then! The revolution tells you to change that order. It is time for capital to recognize the predominance of labor, for the tool to put itself at the disposition of the worker.

Such is this revolution, which has suffered sarcasm, calumny and persecution, just like any other. But, like the others, the Revolution of 1848 becomes more fertile by the blood of its martyrs. Sanguis martyrun, semen christianorum! exclaimed one of the greatest revolutionaries of times past, the indomitable Tertullien. Blood of republicans, seed of republicans.

Who does not dare to acknowledge this faith, sealed with the blood of our brothers, is not a revolutionary. The failure is an infidelity. He who dissembles regarding it is a renegade. To separate the Republic from socialism is to willfully confuse the freedom of mind and spirit with the slavery of the senses, the exercise of political rights with the deprivation of civil rights. It is contradictory, absurd.

Here, citizens, is the genealogy of social ideas: are we, or are we not, in the revolutionary tradition? It is a question of knowing if at present we are also engaged in revolutionary practice, if, like our fathers, we will be at once men of conservation and of progress, because it is only by this double title that we will be men of revolution.

We have the revolutionary principle, the revolutionary dogma, the revolutionary motto. What is it that we lack in order to accomplish the work entrusted to our hands by Providence? One thing only: revolutionary practice!

But what is that practice which distinguishes the epochs of revolution from ordinary times?

What constitutes revolutionary practice is that it no longer proceeds by technicality and diversity, or by imprescriptible transitions, but by simplifications and enjambments. It passes over, in broad equations, those middle terms which suggest the spirit of routine, whose application should normally have been made during the former time, but that the selfishness of the privilege or the inertia of the governments pushed back.

These great equitations of principles, these enormous shifts in mores, they also have their laws, not at all arbitrary, no more left to chance than the practice of revolutions.

But what, in the end, is that practice?

Suppose that the statesmen we have seen in power since February 24, that these short-sighted politicians of small means, of narrow and meticulous routines, had been in the place of the apostles. I ask you citizens, what would they have done?

They would have fallen into agreement with the innovators of the individual conferences, in secret consultations, that the plurality of gods was an absurdity. They would have said, like Cicero, that it is inconceivable that two augurs could look at one another without laughter; they would have condemned slavery very philosophically, and in a deep voice.

But they would have cried out against the bold propaganda which, denying the gods and all that society has sanctified, raised against it superstition and all the interests; they would have trusted in good policy, rather than tackling the old beliefs, and interpreting them; they would have knelt before Mercury the thief, before impudent Venus and incestuous Jupiter. They would have talked with respect and esteem of the Floralia and the Bacchanalia. They would have made a philosophy of polytheism, retold the history of the gods, renewed the personnel of the temples, published the payments for sacrifices and public ceremonies, according, as far as it was in them, reason and morality to the impure traditions of their fathers, by dint of attention, kindness and human respect; instead of saving the world, they would have caused it to perish.

There was, in the first centuries of the Christian era, a sect, a party powerful in genius and eloquence, which, in the face of the Christian revolution, undertook to continue the idolatry in the form of a moderate and progressive republic; they were the Neo-Platonists, to whom Apollonius of Tyana and the Emperor Julian attached themselves. It is in this fashion that we have seen with our own eyes certain preachers attempt the renovation of Catholicism, by interpreting its symbols from the point of view of modern ideas.

A vain attempt! Christian preaching, which is to say revolutionary practice, swept away all the gods and their hypocritical admirers; and Julian, the greatest politician and most beautiful spirit of his time, bears in the histories the name of apostate, for having been madly opposed to evangelical justice.

Let us cite one more example.

Let us suppose that in ’89, the prudent counselors of despotism, the well-advised spirits of the nobility, the tolerant clergy, the wise men of the middle class, the most patient of the people—let us suppose, I say, that this elite of citizens, with the most upright vision and the most philanthropic views, but convinced of the dangers of abrupt innovations, had agreed to manage, following the rules of high policy, the transition from despotism to liberty. What would they have done?

They would have passed, after long discussion and mature deliberation, letting at least ten years elapse between each article, the promised charter; they would have negotiated with the pope, and with all manner of submissiveness, the civil constitution of the clergy; they would have negotiated with the convents, by amicable agreement, the repurchase of their goods; they would have opened an investigation into the value of feudal rights, and on the compensation to be accorded to the lords; they would have sought compensation to the privileged for the rights accorded to the people. They would have made the work of a thousand years what revolutionary practice might accomplish overnight.

All of this is not just empty talk: there was no lack of men in ’89 willing to connect themselves to this false wisdom of revolution. The first of all was Louis XVI, who was as revolutionary at heart and in theory as anyone, but who did not understand that the revolution must also be practiced. Louis XVI set himself to haggle and quibble over everything, so much and so well, that they revolution, growing impatient, swept him away!

Here then is what I mean, today, by revolutionary practice.

The revolution of February proclaimed the right to work, the predominance of labor over capital.

On the basis of that principle, I say that before overriding all reforms, we have to occupy ourselves with a generalizing institution, which expresses, on all the points of social economy, the subordination of capital to labor; which, in lieu of making, as it has been, the capitalist the sponsor of the laborer, makes the laborer the arbiter and commander of the capitalist, an institution which changes the relation between the two great economic powers, labor and property, and from which follows, consequently, all other reforms.

Will it then be revolutionary to propose an agricultural bank serving, as always, the monopolizers of money; there to create a certified loan office, monument to stagnation and unemployment; elsewhere, to found an asylum, a pawn-shop, a hospital, a nursery, a penitentiary, or a prison, to increase pauperism by multiplying its sources?

Will it be a work of Revolution to finance a few millions, sometimes a company of tailors, sometimes of masons; to reduce the tax on drink and increase it on properties; to convert obligations into losses; to vote seeds and pick-axes for twelve thousand colonists leaving for Algeria, or to subsidize a trial phalanstery?

Will it be the speech or act of a revolutionary to argue for four months whether the people will work or will not, if capital hides or if it flees the country, if it awaits confidence or if it is confidence that awaits it, if the powers will be divided or only the functions, if the president will be the superior, the subordinate or the equal of the national assembly, if the first who will fill this role will be the nephew of the emperor or the son of the king, or if it would not be better, for that good use, to have a soldier or a poet; if the new sovereign will be named by the people or by the representatives, if the ministry of reaction which goes out merits more confidence than the ministry of conciliation which comes, if the Republic will be blue, white, red, or tricolor?

Will it be revolutionary, when it is a question of returning to labor the fictive production of capital, to declare the net revenue inviolable, rather than to seize it by a progressive tax; when it is necessary to organize equality in the acquisition of goods, to lay the blame on the mode of transmission; when 25,000 tradesmen implore a legal settlement, to answer them by bankruptcy; when property no longer receives rent or farm rent, to refuse it further credit; when the country demands the centralization of the banks, to deliver that credit to a financial oligarchy which only knows how to make a void in circulation and to maintain the crisis, while waiting for the discouragement of the people to bring back confidence?

Citizens, I accuse no one.

I know that to all except for us social democrats, who have envisioned and prepared for it, the Revolution of February has been a surprise; and if it is difficult for the old constitutionals to pass in so short a time from the monarchical faith to republican conviction, it is still more so for the politicians of the other century to comprehend anything of the practice of the new Revolution. Other times have other ideas. The great maneuvers of '93, good for the time, do not suit us now any more than the parliamentary tactics of the last thirty years; and if we want to abort the revolution, you have no surer means than to take up again these errors.

Citizens, you are still only a minority in this country. But already the revolutionary flood grows with the speed of the idea, with the majesty of the ocean. Again, some of that patience that made your success, and the triumph of the Revolution is assured. You have proven, since June, by you discipline, that you are politicians. From now on you will prove, by your acts, that you are organizers. The government will be enough, I hope, with the National Assembly, to maintain the republican form: such at least is my conviction. But the revolutionary power, the power of conservation and of progress, is no longer today in the hands of the government; it is not in the National Assembly: it is in you. The people alone, acting upon themselves without intermediary, can achieve the economic Revolution begun in February. The people alone can save civilization and advance humanity!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Proudhon at Google Books

As I mentioned in the last post, Google Books' search engines do miraculous things sometimes, the sort of miraculous things that make finding anything an iffy proposition. I make no claims for the completeness of the list that follows. Finding what I did find was something of an adventure. However, I can happily announce that most of Proudhon's major work is available, if not obviously so, on Google Books. Volumes undoubtedly lack pages, have text obscured by the fingers of workers, are blurred or bleed of the edge of the screen, but these are just the things we are learning to deal with in the brave new world of digital libraries. For now, let's enjoy the sensation of having a pretty good chunk of Proudhon relatively accessible:

Melanges I (1871)

Melanges II (1871)

Melanges III (1871)

Solution du problème social (1849)

Idees revolutionnaires (1849)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon I (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon II (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon III (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon IV (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon V (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon VI (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon VII (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon VIII (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon IX (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon X (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon XI (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon XII (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon XIII (1875)

Correspondance de P.-J. Proudhon XIV (1875)

De la capacité politique des classes ouvrières (1868)

De la creation de l’ordre dans l’humanite (1873)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise I (1868)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise II (1868)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise III (1868)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise IV (1869)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise V (1870)

De la justice dans la revolution et dans l‘eglise VI (1870)

Du principe de l'art et de sa destination sociale (1865)

Du principe federative (1868)

Si les Traités de 1815 ont cessé d'exister

La guerre et la paix I (1869)

La guerre et la paix II (1869)

Les confessions d’un revolutionnaire (1876)

Les majorats litteraires (1868)

La federation et l’unite en italie

Nouvelle observations sur l’unte italienne

Les democrats assermentes et les refractaires

Système des contradictions économiques I (1846)

Système des contradictions économiques II (1846)

Qu'est-ce que la propriété? (1848)

Qu’est-ce que la propriete? (1867)

La révolution sociale démontrée par le coup d'état du 2 décembre (1852)

La révolution sociale démontrée par le coup d'état (1868)

Le droit au travail et le droit de propriété.
Proposition relative a l'impôt sur le revenu.

Rapport sur la réorganisation de l'impôt et du credit.

Discours prononcé a l'assemblée nationale.

Théorie de la propriété
Contradictions politique

Les actes des apotres

Eugène de Mirecourt, Lettres à Monsieur P.-J. Proudhon

Friday, July 13, 2007

Google Books is hiding things again

More stupid search engine tricks. Back in May, I noted some peculiarities of Google Books' search engines. If you follow the links from that original post, you will notice some new peculiarities, including the disappearance of the 1849 Amos E. senter edition of Equitable Commerce from the results for: inauthor:josiah inauthor:warren. That important edition is still available from Google Books; you can follow the link above to see what Equitable Commerce looked like before Stephen Pearl Andrews edited it. But it, and one other listing, no longer show up in a general search for Warren's work. There are still five listings for Warren, but two are empty placeholders, referring to editions that are unlikely to be available in the archive anytime soon. It's puzzling.

Equally puzzling is the fact that you can now view the plain text for individual pages on Google Books, but cannot easily print that text, or individual page-images, from the standard viewer. Presumably, this is to protect the value of Google Books' investment in scanning and OCR work. It strikes me that a better strategy would be to do the scanning and OCR work well, rather than accumulating an archive half-full of corrupt texts. There is quite simply nobody out there who can compete with Google's ability to accumulate and store searchable data. As bad as it is, Google Books is still one of those must-use resources. But that won't necessarily always be the case, and the real threat to Google's supremacy is probably not the next Google, but the various projects that will inevitably spring up to do efficiently, for some particular audience, what Google Books has done in such a slipshod manner.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Bits of Liberty's History

Labors of love are notoriously bad at paying the rent, and other work has been a little slow, so I'm digging into my personal archive a bit to keep a roof over my head while I work on the Josiah Warren book and Liberty archive. I was fortunate enough, some years ago, to pick up a lot of original issues of Liberty, along with a few related items: letterhead stationary from the Liberty offices and the portrait of Michael Bakunin which Tucker claimed was the first faithful likeness published in the United States.

I have put one each of the stationary and portrait up for auction on eBay, in the hopes of making up for the month's shortfalls in other gainful employment. Have a look and place a bid, if owning a bit of authentic individualist anarchist history appeals to you.

Alternately, if the various new archives have been of some value to you, I'll never turn down a little voluntary support. You can make a donation through PayPal.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Burke + Warren, 1850

In an article on "Anarchism in England Fifty Years Ago," reprinted in the February 1906 issue of Liberty, Max Nettlau discussed two very early anarchist publications printed in England. One of these was an edition of Edmund Burke's Vindication of Natural Society, published By Holyoake and Co., in 1850, under the title The Inherent Evils of all State Governments Demonstrated. The particular interest in this edition of Burke's work comes from the Appendix which followed it, probably the work of Ambrose C. Cuddon, in which Josiah Warren's "system" (he hated the word but...) of equitable commerce is presented as an alternative to all those inherently evil state governments.

Cuddon was one of the few people that Warren seems to have treated as something like a partner in reform. Cuddon was Warren's contact in England, and Tucker remarks that he remained involved in the promotion of equitable commerce into his old age. It would be interesting to get a look at the issues of Cuddon's 1861 Cosmopolitan Review, which appears to be scarce, if available at all, in the U. S.

Nettlau's article is very interesting, and contains some leads to be followed with regard to Henry Edger, though it is also probably, as some readers may remember, the source of possible misinformation about John Gray.

Liberty Archive update: 303 of the 411 issues of Liberty and Libertas are now available as pdfs. That's about 1980 pages, out of 3610. Another two issues, 120 or so pages, have been transcribed, and posted at From the Libertarian Library. That puts the archive over the 2000 page mark: not quite the home stretch yet, but getting there.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Reading around / Dyer D. Lum's Alarm

I've been reading pretty broadly lately, pulling together articles related to the Liberty archive project and Utopia, OH, the Josiah Warren anthology. That's taken me into the pages of The Egoist, where Benjamin Tucker, Bolton Hall, and Stephen Byington shared pages with the likes of Ezra Pound, and fairly familiar debates about the nature of egoism and anarchism appeared alongside early reviews of Italian Futurism. It's also taken me into the pages of Max Nettlau's 1897 Bibliographie de l'Anarchie, which I had never tackled before, and which has been full of pleasant surprises. A steady regimen of Proudhon translation has been doing wonders for my French, but bibliographies don't really take much reading knowledge anyway. Nettlau's late 19th-century view of the early phases of anarchism is very interesting, and I've added quite a few names to my must-track-down list. One of those early figures, who I had been reading anyway, thanks to a partial reprint in Liberty, was Anselm Bellegarrigue, publisher/author of the two issues of Anarchie, Journal de l’Ordre and Au fait, au fait!!! (All available online in French.) The first issue of the Journal seems to have been issued in English by the Kate Sharpley Library, but I may try to find time to translate the second, which appears to continue some of the thought in Proudhon's "Toast to the Revolution," which I hope to have fully translated and online by Bastille Day. (Why is the Revolution like horseback riding? All will be revealed soon.) The Josiah Warren work has taken me through the run of Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, where I found the details about Warren's short association with the IWA, and where a real treasure trove of information on Stephen Pearl Andrews' "pantarchy" still awaits proper treatment. But one of the most interesting excursions of the past few weeks has been a trip through the pages of The Alarm, the newspaper edited first by Albert R. Parsons, and then by Dyer D. Lum, when Parsons was imprisoned and then executed following the Haymarket bombing. The print that I was working from was pretty awful, but the paper is fascinating reading. The early series is full of very militant material, largely connected with Chicago's German anarchist-communist community. Lum's second series is understandably less militant, but no less fascinating. During Lum's tenure, The Alarm and Liberty featured a certain amount of back and forth, much of it relatively unfriendly, as Tucker and Co. aired their feelings about the prospects for libertarian communism. I made a working set of scans of the second series, knowing that a number of issues contain material that we'll eventually want to connect to the Liberty archive. They are predictably unlovely, but mostly readable, and you can read them here. An interesting surprise: a defense, and several critiques, of mutual banking, starting in Issue 30.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Days

Happy 4th of July! May we celebrate independence in all its best senses. All these days seem to get overrun by commercial and governmental concerns, which obscures what is radical and oppositional about the events they celebrate, what, for example, was really revolutionary about the American Revolution and the Declaration.

Perhaps this is the time to think about a lost tradition of radical celebrations, the celebration of Tom Paine's birthday, January 29. The Thomas Paine Institute has a birthday celebration page. It's not too early to start planning an event!