Reading around / Dyer D. Lum’s Alarm

I’ve been reading pretty broadly lately, pulling together articles related to the Liberty archive project and Utopia, OH, the Josiah Warren anthology. That’s taken me into the pages of The Egoist, where Benjamin Tucker, Bolton Hall, and Stephen Byington shared pages with the likes of Ezra Pound, and fairly familiar debates about the nature of egoism and anarchism appeared alongside early reviews of Italian Futurism. It’s also taken me into the pages of Max Nettlau’s 1897 Bibliographie de l’Anarchie, which I had never tackled before, and which has been full of pleasant surprises. A steady regimen of Proudhon translation has been doing wonders for my French, but bibliographies don’t really take much reading knowledge anyway. Nettlau’s late 19th-century view of the early phases of anarchism is very interesting, and I’ve added quite a few names to my must-track-down list. One of those early figures, who I had been reading anyway, thanks to a partial reprint in Liberty, was Anselm Bellegarrigue, publisher/author of the two issues of Anarchie, Journal de l’Ordre and Au fait, au fait!!! (All available online in French.) The first issue of the Journal seems to have been issued in English by the Kate Sharpley Library, but I may try to find time to translate the second, which appears to continue some of the thought in Proudhon’s “Toast to the Revolution,” which I hope to have fully translated and online by Bastille Day. (Why is the Revolution like horseback riding? All will be revealed soon.) The Josiah Warren work has taken me through the run of Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, where I found the details about Warren’s short association with the IWA, and where a real treasure trove of information on Stephen Pearl Andrews’ “pantarchy” still awaits proper treatment. But one of the most interesting excursions of the past few weeks has been a trip through the pages of The Alarm, the newspaper edited first by Albert R. Parsons, and then by Dyer D. Lum, when Parsons was imprisoned and then executed following the Haymarket bombing. The print that I was working from was pretty awful, but the paper is fascinating reading. The early series is full of very militant material, largely connected with Chicago’s German anarchist-communist community. Lum’s second series is understandably less militant, but no less fascinating. During Lum’s tenure, The Alarm and Liberty featured a certain amount of back and forth, much of it relatively unfriendly, as Tucker and Co. aired their feelings about the prospects for libertarian communism. I made a working set of scans of the second series, knowing that a number of issues contain material that we’ll eventually want to connect to the Liberty archive. They are predictably unlovely, but mostly readable, and you can read them here. An interesting surprise: a defense, and several critiques, of mutual banking, starting in Issue 30.

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


  1. There should be more information about Dyer D. Lum available. He seems to have been an important bridge between individualist and social anarchism.

    His revolutionary mutualism seemed more in line with Proudhon’s ideas on co-operatives than the self-proclaimed Proudhonists around Tucker.

    Did Tucker not excommunicate Lum as well?

    Still, I can see Lum’s influence on De Cleyre as she moved from individualist to communist anarchism. It is a shame that there appears to be one an essay on him and that article in Parson’s book which are easily accessible.


  2. Hey, Iain. I’ve been collecting miscellaneous material by Lum for some time, and hope to make more of it available as time permits.

    I think nearly everyone who has borrowed from Proudhon has picked their particular period, and maybe that’s what you have to do. Proudhon’s philosophy was fairly consistent, but it allowed him to be active in quite a variety of ways. Tucker sounds very much like the Proudhon of the “Revolutionary Program.” Greene takes his cues from “The Solution of the Social Problem” and “System of Economic Contradictions.” Lum more closely resembles the Proudhon of “The General Idea of the Revolution.”

    Things broke down between Tucker and Lum early in 1888. E. C. Walker and Victor Yarros had a hand in keeping the conflict going. It will be nice, when the “Liberty” archive is together, to be able to include the related material in “The Alarm.”

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