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Distributaries: “Modern Anarchism”

Our fast-moving mountain current has spread out across the a decade’s worth of terrain, splitting off into various distributary currents. We know—or at least the driving metaphor of this work suggests—that the various currents will never unite as fully as perhaps they were mingled before Proudhon’s death. We can certainly point to instances where some form of direct influence seems to carry forward from the earliest period examined through to the anarchism of the 1880s—but we have also inherited narratives that at least flirt with the notion of a rather complete reinvention of anarchist thought in what Kropotkin called “modern anarchism.” […]

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Distributaries: The Reform Leagues and Anarchist Individualism

There are important individual stories to be told. We’ll track the journey of Dyer D. Lum to anarchism and the post-war exploits of William Batchelder Greene. Ezra and Angela Heywood will feature prominently, as we account for the relationship between The Word and the emerging anarchist movement in the 1870s. There will be a lot of apparent diversions into the spiritualist press, adventures among the free religionists and free lovers, as well as plenty of exploration of the “Yankee International” and the associated organizations. We’ll say goodbye to figures like Calvin Blanchard. […]

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Distributaries: Atercracy

Some of our distributary channels really diverged early, as anarchist ideas spread through the export of the European press and through the exile of European revolutionaries. So, for example, there are individuals and incidents to be explored in the context of the French exile communities in North America. […]

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Distributaries: Anti-Authoritarian Collectivism

Let’s review our position just a bit, in the context of our riverine metaphor. Discussing the first leg of our journey, we were unlikely to go too far wrong talking about stages in the development of a single waterway or simple river system. We could talk about stages of anarchist development and stages in our journey back from the sources of the anarchist tradition in roughly parallel ways. But, as I’ve already noted, each of the long legs of the journey—each volume of the study—because more complicated than the last, which makes the metaphor even more useful in some ways, but also less obvious in others. […]

Our Lost Continent

Sources: Note on Critics and Collaborators

One of the reasons for taking the time to write out these summary and rationale sections is that, even after we have dismissed the notion that the result will be “representative” in any very complete sense, there are still a lot of elements to incorporate into each volume. And it is important that the material necessary to support investigations in later volumes is—as much as possible—presented in earlier volumes. Given the extent to which the research for each volume is likely to raise new concerns, we can expect to miss some things, necessitating some long instances of backtracking. But those can at least be minimized by careful planning now. […]

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Sources: The End of an Era

The first leg of the journey ends with the death of Proudhon—and the interruption of his particular investigation of “the anarchist idea.” The end of that segment will be an occasion to try to sum up the contributions of Proudhon and his contemporaries in a variety of ways. […]

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Sources: The Era of Proudhon

Our Lost Continent and the Journey Back: I. — Sources (1837–1865) Project Page: Our Lost Continent: Episodes from an Alternate History of the Anarchist Idea, 1837–1936 RELATED: P.-J. Proudhon, “Determination of the Third Social Form” […]

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Sources: Over the Roofs of the World

We know that there has hardly been a moment in the history of “the anarchist idea” at which it has not been contested—and often hotly contested. This is the reason that, at this phase of the project, it seem necessary to make heavy use of scare quotes around terms that are ultimately the subject of much of the exploration here. My hope is that, in the course of the research, some less awkward means of addressing the definitional difficulties will emerge. For now, however, it seems most useful to underline the potential problems, particularly as one of the recurring tasks of this exploration will be to see if there are perhaps periods during which phrase like “anarchist history,” “the anarchist idea” and “the anarchist tradition” simply cannot cover the diversity of nominally “anarchist” positions and ideas simultaneously expressed. […]