My intention is to spend quite a bit of my blogging time, and whatever free translating time I can muster, addressing the period from just before Proudhon’s death in 1865, though the First International and the Paris Commune. I’ll be translating more of Proudhon’s Political Capacity of the Working Classes and material relating to the workers associated with the “Manifesto of the Sixty,” as well as some texts by and about the group of Proudhon’s friends who saw to the publication of his posthumous works. (See, regarding the last group, The Execution of Gustave Chaudey and Three Gendarmes.) I’ll also be working away at some of the primary documents of anarchist collectivism, which I’ve started to assemble for a Collectivist Reader, as part of the Bakunin Library project. The focus here will be split in a familiar way, between concern for the details of history and attention to the ways in which the management of anarchist history has shaped anarchism itself. But an important part of what will be at stake for me in this segment of the journey will be a return to mutualism as a keyword, armed now with the lessons of the last year, and an attempt to address what I have recently identified as “the challenge in Proudhon’s thought,” that is, the urgency of making what seems promising about mid-19th century anarchism take its place as a means of addressing our own struggles and concerns in the 21st century.
For readers of the blog, I would like to encourage you, as we move deeper into this particular phase, which I launched with the post on “scraping some rust off the “two guns” of mutualism,” to take the challenge seriously. There is, it seems to me, plenty in “mutualism” that speaks very directly to our current conditions, but only if we are ready and willing to do a significant work of adaptation and translation. I can suggest some of the directions for that, but ultimately it’s a work that has to be done by anyone who wants to take up any of these old labels.