Bibliography of Anarchy
BY MAX NETTLAU (1897)
The work that we publish today could only be attempted by an erudite bibliophile, having in addition the devoted collaboration of numerous friends. The friends have presented themselves and this unselfish convergence of forces appears to us to be one proof among a thousand that the anarchists, just by “doing as they wish,” know however how to unite their individual wills in a collective will. No leader, no elected or self-imposed council has given the that his book should appear.
The bibliographic essay composed by our friend Nettlau will certainly be very useful to the sincere seekers, to the conscientious historians of socialism, to all those who want to go back to the sources in order to study the problems of the contemporary movement. How many times have honest interlocutors have naively asked us if an anarchist literature existed. We can now respond to them: “Look!”
I admit for my part that I did not know we were so rich: the importance that this collection has assumed, though still incomplete, has greatly surprised me. Anarchist ideas, consciously developed in their present form, are of such recent origin that we willingly imagine that we still find ourselves in an undeveloped period of propaganda. Doubtless, the largest part of the documents cited in this collection are destined to disappear and even to hardly merit being preserved, but some of these works will certainly date in the history of the nineteenth century. Admittedly, if can be hard sometimes for the anarchists to say what they believe to be truth, but no one will be able to accuse them of “hiding their light under a bushel.” We have raised it as high as we can lift our hands, and from now one, no none in the world, let him love us or hate us, can’t pretend to ignore us.
Moreover, the anarchist literature properly speaking is only a tiny part of that which forms the vehicle of our idea. Now our adversaries themselves are responsible for spreading the seeds of revolt. There is hardly a word written, there is not even a single word worth reading, in which is not found a ferment of renewal, either with regard to the formerly conventional morals or traditional religion, or else with regard to the castes in power or orthodox political economy. What is the man of conviction who, in his statements, is not something of a revolutionary? If he can hope to have a certain influence, it is always through the new ideas, socialist or anarchist, of his teaching, for the rest is only a simple repetition, only pure reiteration of what thousands of individuals had reported before him. From their point of view as uncompromising conservatives, the fanatics of law or religion who do not want any book but the Code, the Koran or the Bible were absolutely right! “Every new work is useless if it corroborates the truth, and deadly if it differs from it.” That is to say that all contemporary literature is anarchist in some sense; our direct propaganda is joined by a thousand acts of indirect propaganda from the crowd of poets, novelists, philosophers and sociologists.
But there has been no book in the world to to set out our ideas as a whole or in their details, the great drama of contemporary society will suffice to show to all thinking people what movement carries us along and what ideal humanity steers towards. We see with how much impatience the individual now suffers the wills and whims of other individuals, noble, rich or constituted in dignity; it is recognized by all that authority no longer maintains itself by the gentle resignation of the weak to poorly understood duties, but that from now on it must be assured by more and more open force, constantly running the risk of breaking: the powers of this world have become the target off all derision and scorn, and their prestige is blown away into space like so many other misleading illusions. On the other hand, we note that the individual, while demanding most energetically what is considers as its individual right to live, associates more closely with all those who are animated by the same ideas and claim to the same extent the complete satisfaction of their needs. We have witnessed the birth of a Workers’ International, which some have constantly sought to destroy, and which has constantly rebuilt itself in greater numbers, promising to soon embrace the whole world, and proclaiming its will in eight, in a hundred different languages, from Europe to the Antipodes.
That is what we are taught by the great book of society open before us, and it is in order to make reading it simpler that Max Nettlau indicates to men of good will all the works of the anarchist propaganda.
NOTICE TO THE READER
This bibliography is not presented as definitive: it could not be, given the manner in which it was composed. For a long time I have been occupied, between other labors, with gathering the documents necessary for the elaboration of bibliography as complete as possible — that I hope to publish one day — when some comrades offered to publish a short, succinct selection. This is that selection.
I have neglected to insert here a large number of details of secondary interest, and, on the other hand, having composed it in two months, I have lacked the time to remove the gaps that, in some parts, or only too obvious. There results an inequality in it, a lack of proportion between the different details, that I am the first to recognize.
That inequality seemed inevitable as a result of the difficulties that opposes to the inventory of the majority of the anarchist publications. Those writings, written in more than twenty languages, scattered in more than thirty countries, spread across a whole century, vanished for the most part, literally lost, put out of reach by the great circulation necessary to the propaganda, when they have escaped the continuous prosecutions and police seizures; we must not count on them finding an asylum in the public libraries, which have almost all disregarded them and, as for the most active propagandists, it most often happens that they are least in a position for anyone to make collections of them, being most exposed to the poverty, prison and exile which bourgeois society liberally bestows on them.
However a considerable part of these publications, even of the oldest, has been preserved and I must thank the friends and comrades who have communicated them to me, along with those who have spared neither time nor labor to make this volume appear.
Following the program that I had first sketch out, I will continue to collect the materials for a more sizeable bibliography, which will also include the ephemeral publications, omitted in this attempt: the manifestos, placards, broadsheets, etc., as well as the most important articles from the different newspapers.
For it is especially in the papers that the constant progress of the elaboration of the anarchist idea can be followed. If the bibliographer does not want to only be a bibliophile, if he wants at the same time to see as a historian, his work is quite thankless and retain for him only paltry satisfactions: slave of the printed word, he must — in order to make a bibliography and not a history — resolve himself sometimes to appear to neglect some sympathetic and active militants who, by chance, have only left a few literary traces, while he will mention some mediocre writings which, also by chance, have happened to be printed.
To remedy this problem, I tried to arrange the material of this bibliography, as far as possible, in chronological order and according to the successive evolution of ideas.
I count on the comrades of all countries to help me make from this first attempt a work more worthy of our idea; I ask them to indicate to me the necessary corrections and additions, and to send me all the publications, old or new, that they want to confide in me. They will not be lost: I have taken measures to assure their preservation; let them not disdain to communicate to me even the most ephemeral documents, for they are those which are lost most quickly, and are the most difficult to find.
The reader is requested to take into consideration the corrections indicated in the Errata, placed at the end of the volume.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Precursors of Anarchy
- First works of Anarchist Literature in England
- Individualist anarchism
- P.-J. Proudhon
- Precursors of modern anarchism from 1840 to 1865 (in French)
- German anarchism from 1840 to 1880
- Mikhail Bakunin
- Collectivism in the International. — The Congress of the International. — Communist anarchism
- France before 1880
- Peter Kropotkin
- France (1880-1896)
- Bourgeois society faces the Anarchists. Persecutions, Trials, etc.
- The Americas (in Spanish)
- Portugal. — Brazil
- Germany et Switzerland (in German)
- United States of (North) America
- Scandinavian countries
- Anarchist literature in Yiddish
- Libertarian Utopias
- Libertarian colonies
- Authoritarian socialist criticism of Anarchy
- The bourgeois literature on Anarchy
- Modern libertarian literature.