Our Lost Continent: Episodes from an Alternate History of the Anarchist Idea, 1837–1936

Beginnings (1837–1865)

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, L’Humanitaire, Sylvain Maréchal, Pierre Leroux, William B. Greene, Charles Fourier, Etienne de la Boetie, Anselme Bellegarrigue, Ernest Cœurderoy, Joseph Déjacque, Eliphalet Kimball, Henriette (artiste), Jenny P. d’Héricourt, Calvin Blanchard, Henry Edger, Le Proletaire, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Josiah Warren, Mikhail Bakunin, Adin Ballou, Félix Pignal, César de Paepe, Flora Tristan, Jeanne Deroin, Ganneau (The Mapah), Walt Whitman

Introduction: Talk of Beginnings and Ends

Prologue: The Journey back from a World without Anarchists

The various journeys in search of what we might call the headwaters of the anarchist tradition have brought us deep into “our lost continent.”

1840:

Proudhon’s Barbaric Yawp

Every story has to start somewhere and this one begins with Proudhon’s declaration: je suis anarchiste. This is what we think of traditionally as “the first time” someone declared themselves “an anarchist” in the positive political sense. So perhaps, in the context of a book full of beginnings, it makes sense to linger for a while and consider what it means to be an anarchist for the first time.
Appendix: “Anarchy, in All its Senses”

“Property is Theft”

That first anarchist declaration occurred alongside, and to some extent in the shadow of, another scandalous declaration, the often misunderstood claim that “property is theft.” It is a famous phrase, while the arguments that it summarized remain curiously little-known, making this a logical occasion to talk about Proudhon’s rather contradictory position within anarchist history and tradition. Also, while it has seemed natural to talk about the first anarchist declaration in terms of its novelty, the declaration regarding property clearly falls within a kind of tradition, which requires some exploration (particularly of the immediate precedents in Proudhon’s Celebration of Sunday and in the work of Jules Leroux.)

Lost in Translation

[A first look at Proudhon’s social science, dealing specifically with the idea of justice and the “degrees of sociality.

1841:
  • L’Humanitaire, Sylvain Maréchal
1842:
1843:
1844:
1845:
1846:
1847:
1848:
1849:
1850:
1851:
1852:
1853:
1854:
1855:
  • “Urge and urge and urge”
1856:
1857:
1858:
1859:
  • How Business Goes in France
1860:
1861:
1862:
1863:
1864:
1865:
  • The Death of Proudhon

Epilogue:

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2247 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.