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Joseph Déjacque or Imre Madách?

The internet is often much better at creating and perpetuating mistakes than it is at correcting them. An exemplary case is the confusion that has grown around the question of whether or not a portrait existed of Joseph Déjacque. For a long time, it appeared that Déjacque was among those important early anarchist figures for whom we could not put a face to the name. And then a portrait appeared on Wikimedia Commons—and what a portrait! Perhaps we should have know that mustache was simply too good to be true. […]

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Anarchist History: A Mutualist’s-Eye-View

My understanding of anarchist history is clearly—and quite consciously—the product of certain trajectories through the field of anarchist studies and through the sectarian landscape of the anarchist milieus. It is perhaps important to underline this fact, particular as it is such a central point of my analysis that the dominant narratives regarding anarchist history have a similar character—and that “anarchist history” might, through relatively small changes in the times and places where it was told, have looked very different and perhaps gone by different names. […]

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Anarchism as a Fundamentally Unfinished Project

My argument about the anarchist tradition, in its most modest form, is that there is nothing about the history of variously “anarchist” ideas—particularly when the tale begins in 1840 or before—that precludes a real, future convergence toward an anarchism that both focuses on anarchy (in its strongest senses) and provides a vehicle for the sort of social reforms that have most often been promoted in the name of “anarchism.” […]

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The Shape of Anarchist History

Retracing steps I took in my research 20-25 years ago is a fascinating and frequently rewarding experience, particularly now that I’m working with some figures who are perhaps marginal even to the rather loose, broad account of the anarchist and near-anarchist traditions that I’ve been constructing. Most recently, I’ve been working my way back through the writings of Calvin Blanchard (“Announcer of the Religion of Science, Professor of Religio-Political Physics, Expositor of the Statics and Dynamics of God Almighty, Advocate for the Constitution Manifest in Human Nature, and Head Member of the Society for Abolishing Utopia, and Humbug, and Failure,” etc.), the libertarian Comtean who, perhaps even more than Stephen Pearl Andrews, made a practice of expressing anarchistic ideas in a language far more directly suited to the promotion of regimes of authority. […]

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Escheat and Anarchy

One of the difficulties in explaining the anarchist critique—and of distinguishing anarchist tendencies from those that propose only partial breaks with authority—has been the fact that the two fundamental critiques associated with anarchist thought—anti-capitalism and anti-governmentalism—have been difficult to unite, despite indications that they emerged together as part of a single critique in the work of Proudhon. […]

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What I Did on My Summer Vacation

It wasn’t really a vacation, but I did take about ten days off Facebook and I shirked some other social media responsibilities while I cleared my head a bit and reworked some projects. It’s satisfying to at least challenge the inevitability of those connections once in a while and to get a clearer sense of just what they are contributing to the ongoing work. And it was past time for me to look back through my stack of nearly completed book projects and see which of them still made sense to me, as a step toward deciding if they are likely to make sense to anyone else. […]