Anything that might have been said then about anarchism’s internal diversity and anarchists’ uneven knowledge almost certainly falls far short of the present reality. So it is worth asking whether it is once again time to make the attempt to consult among ourselves regarding some basic aspects of our present anarchist reality. My own sense is that the time is indeed again ripe, so I want to simply push forward and propose a first set of basic questions, which might be expanded or amended, then distributed and translated, so that the collected responses might serve as a resource. […]
At the center of this pamphlet is a disagreement about the use of the terms anarchy and anarchism—a topic that has grown in interest for me in recent years. W. H. Tillinghast accuses Tucker of “misusing words” when he uses the term anarchism to describe anarchist beliefs. The proper word, he claims, would be anarchy—or, more specifically, an-archy (from Proudhon’s occasional spelling, an-archie.) He would seem, from a modern perspective, to be a bit confused and Tucker’s response would be correct, if perhaps a bit excessive. It is easy to forget that in 1881 anarchism was still a “rare” word, whether in English or French. […]
Supposing that all man-made laws in the United States were abolished at once, disturbance and violence would take place only where they were needed. In parts of the country cursed with luxury, monopoly and rich men, society could be equalized and purified without violence. In neighbor hoods where the people were plain and none very rich, things would go on as they did before. If any undertook to commit crimes they would soon be straightened. Society would ferment and work itself clear like a barrel of new cider. Habitual rum-drinkers and opium-takers experience great distress when they undertake to leave off the habit. If they persevere in their abstinence they come right at last. Just so with law-drunken society. Within ten or fifteen years after the reign of natural law commenced, everything would be right. […]
Despite the potentially daunting number of research and publishing projects I have in progress, I really don’t get overwhelmed by the variety.
That’s not to say, of course, that I don’t get overwhelmed. I do, at fairly frequent intervals, but what is truly daunting about the project-load that I’ve accumulated over the last decade or so is the fact that it is all really just one big project.
Somehow — for my sins, as like as not — I’ve found myself committed to some deep explorations of just how the anarchist tradition developed in its earliest, formative years […]
The more we learn about the history of mutualism, the clearer it becomes that the conception we have inherited was conceived—primarily by rivals of Proudhon’s thought—as a sort of theoretical foil for the communist “modern anarchism” of the late 19th century. It’s a rather complicated tale, since what Kropotkin called “modern anarchism” was, in fact, anarchism emerging for the first time, unless we count the purely literary emergence of the term in the works of Joseph Déjacque. There had, of course, been anarchists and theories of anarchy. […]
My dear Villiaumé, it is too warm for me to venture, with my sick head, all the way to Rue Marsollier. I am thinking instead of fleeing for ten or twelve days to some hole in Franche-Comté, where the devil may perhaps not come to torment me with his pomps and work. But you, who are spry, come some evening after your dinner and we will have a mug at the local cabaret, which will do you as much good as an ample banquet. Friendship, and understanding as well, is surely found in a modest “to your health.” […]