O. A Verity, “Why I am An Anarchist” (1897)

A friend shared some scans of The New Era, one of the periodicals from the Home, Washington colony that I had not yet seen, and this example of the “declarations and professions of faith” genre struck me as good enough that I typed it in immediately. While it is unsigned, virtually the whole paper was written at this time by Olivar A. Verity, so I feel fairly confident about the attribution.

WHY I AM AN ANARCHIST.

We find ourselves in a world of conflicting ideas, and every person who has individuality enough developed to be more, in human life, than a domestic animal or lifeless machine, must align himself with others who hold the same oppinion, whether he will or not, and then he is in the view of other, and perhaps in his own view, labeled with the name of the idea he holds, so we find that nearly every person is labeled and some persons who have a number of labels.

Finding that we must be something—must hold to certain ideas and work for certain ends—if we work at all, or amount to any more in human life than an ox, or an ax, it very naturally follows that we will adapt and work for the prevalence of such ideas as will bring us the greatest happiness, now or bye and bye. That is why I am an Anarchist. I am convinced that to work for the realization of the Anarchist ideal will bring me more satisfaction than an adherence to, or working for any other ideal would bring me.

But every one should be able and willing to give a reason for the “faith that is within him,” and I will try to do so.

I find myself in a world of sunshine and shade; of joy and sorrow; of happiness and woe. All around me I see fellow being; beings that are constituted very much as I am, have similar desires, hopes and aspirations. I find that they are constantly trying to gratify these desires; to realize their hopes and attain to that for which they aspire. I find further that they can do these things only by exploiting inorganic nature, and by assisting each other. I find that as things are now, these beings instead of mutually assisting each other are constantly striving to injure each other, not that they take delight in the suffering of a fellow, but because they see no other way of satisfying their desires and aspirations. They think this state of affairs wrong, and are constantly clamoring for a change, but have not yet learned the great fundamental fret [sic] human solidarity—of our interdependence.

Long have the various members of the human family sought to adjust themselves to environment, and of late have begun to endeavor to adjust the environment to suit themselves. All mankind craves for freedom, but most of the people have sought to gain freedom by subjugating others, or by restricting all alike. They have not learned that they cannot be free while they are holding others, or while they seek to restrict the freedom of others.

No one desires to be injured, and yet no one can be secure from injury as long as they injure others.

We all wish to be free from injury.

I crave freedom. I see that others want the same conditions, and I know that my freedom can be made secure only by the freedom of all others.

I know of no other ideal but Anarchy that if realized, would secure freedom to me, and to all others, therefore I am an Anarchist.

I long for plenty; for a sufficiency of the material necessities of life to make it possible for me to satisfy all my physical cravings, and I know that all others want the same thing. I see that the earth yields abundantly; that it is possible for all human beings to produce all the material necessities required to satisfy their physical cravings, and that if they would stop restricting and interfering with each other and turn their attention to production and mutual assistance, they could have every material comfort they desire.

Anarchy is the only theory that, if put into practice, would secure this abundance and at [the] same time secure full liberty. Consequently I am an Anarchist.


The New Era (Lakebay, WA) 1 no. 2 (April, 1897): 2.

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2056 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.

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