Our Lost Continent: 1840

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Our Lost Continent: Chronology:


In the history of “the anarchist idea,” 1840 is not the beginning, but it is clearly one of those moments when something begins, conjured up with what has been a remarkably durable power by P.-J. Proudhon’s anarchist declaration, his barbaric yawp: je suis anarchiste.

The fact that historical beginnings and endings are, at least in part, a matter of choice, often with significant consequences, is central to the argument about “anarchist history” that drives Our Lost Continent and the Journey Back. And it is highlighted by the structure of the work, in which the narrative concerning the primary period to be covered, 1840-1934, is extended “externally” at each end with discussions of where else things might have begun or ended, interrupted by the incorporation at various points of elements from outside that primary period, and then divided internally into segments, each of which will have its own lessons to teach, while also contributing to the overall narrative.

In this history, Proudhon’s What is Property? — and a few related events — will inevitably overshadow nearly everything else that occurred in 1840. But it will be necessary to account for a few key works, such as Pierre Leroux’s De l’humanité, de son principe, et de son avenir, où se trouve exposée la vraie définition de la religion et où l’on explique le sens, la suite et l’enchaînement du Mosaïsme et du Christianisme, which would be an influence on a number of figures who will feature in later episodes.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.