Fair Use Blog

Max Eastman Is ‘Sorry’ For Today’s Rebels (Alden Whitman, New York Times, Jan. 9, 1969)

Here is an article on Max Eastman and his reflections on the New Left in his old age. This article appeared in The New York Times of January 9, 1969 (p. 33).

Max Eastman Is ‘Sorry’ For Today’s Rebels

By ALDEN WHITMAN.

One of the country’s reigning radical writers and agitators of a half-century ago looked this week at today’s young militants and found more to pity than to praise.

He is Max Eastman, editor of the Socialist periodical, The Masses, and its successor, The Liberator, in the years before and during World War I. Widely influential in left-wing and labor circles, these magazines printed articles by Mr. Eastman and by, among others, John Reed and Floyd Dell. Art Young and Robert Minor were among the cartoonists.

Twice Faced Trial

Because of antiwar articles in The Masses, Mr. Eastman was twice brought to trial amid nationwide publicity, charged with conspiracy to obstruct the draft. The charge was dropped after two Federal juries were unable to agree on a verdict.

I feel kind of sorry for these young rebels of today, he said in an interview last Saturday at his West 13th Street apartment that marked his 86th birthday. He was on his way from Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his wife spend their summers, to a winter home in Barbados.

They have an emotion not unlike ours, he continued, running his fingers through a shock of fine, snow-white hair. They want to make a revolution but they have no ultimate purpose.

I have a certain emotional sympathy for them, but they are rather pathetic because they have no plan. They just seek a revolution for its ow sake.

By contrast, said Mr. Eastman, glancing from his padded chair around a room festooned with Christmas and birthday cards, We had a program and a purpose, which was to make over capitalism into Socialism, and it was based on an ideal and on an ideal and on an ideology.

With a vigor that belied his years, the ruddy-faced Mr. Eastman categorized the radicals of the New Left as the bohemian wing of the bourgeoisie, sons and daughters of the well-to-do, who have no real class affiliation and no alliances with the working class.

It is not possible, he said in slow, measured tones, to bring about a revolution—except on a class basis—unless by some sort of fluke.

Asked why today’s rebels appeared to lack an ideology, he declared:

Socialism was once a plausible plan, but when Socialism failed completely and produced a totalitarian tyranny [in the Soviet Union under Stalin], it left social ideas without a theoretical basis.

Mr. Eastman stressed, though, that there were some similarities between rebels in 1969 and those of his era.

Mood Called the Same

The mood of militance is the same, he asserted, and so is the general rejection of convention. But many of today’s restive youth are caught up in trivialities. Obscenity, for example.

Having broken with the Socialist movement (but I never considered myself a Marxist, not even in The Masses days in 1913) when his friend Leon Trotsky was read out of the Communist party by Stalin in 1926-27, Mr. Eastman made his own transition from radicalism to the Reader’s Digest. He has been a roving editor for that publication since 1941.

The author and poet indicated hat his outlook for social change in the United States and the world was gloomy. He doubted, he said, that this country needs a revolution, or that one was possible either from the New Left or the Negro community. Negro militants, he said, are bound to raise hell, but they can’t make a revolution.

We have to patch up the world as it is and accept it, although I don’t feel very happy about it, Mr. Eastman said.

Like many writers, he has given no thought to retirement. Doubleday is to publish this spring a translation he made many years ago of Trotsky’s account of Lenin’s youth.

The manuscript, which Mr. Eastman had believed lost, turned up in the Harvard library a few years ago. It chronicles the Bolshevik leader’s life up to when he joined the Russian revolutionary movement after becoming a lawyer in St. Petersburg, now Leningrad.

In addition, Mr. Eastman is collecting a number of essays and portraits of his contemporaries for publication soon. These, he remarked with a twinkle in his bluish eyes, are to be entitled Bull in the Afternoon and Other Essays.

The lead essay, a criticism of Ernest Hemingway’s Death in the Afternoon, precipitated the famous set-to between the two authors.

Fresh in His Mind

That encounter, which took place in 1937 in the office of Max Perkins, an editor at Scribner’s, was still fresh in Mr. Eastman’s mind.

Hemingway shoved an open book against my nose, he recalled, and accused me of saying that he lacked virility. I grabbed him by the throat and threw him—or backed him up—over Perkins’s desk and onto his back on the floor.

The two men’s friendship, never thereafter the epitome of cordiality, is now largely a mellow memory for Mr. Eastman. In addition to the piece on Hemingway, Mr. Eastman plans to include his new book essays on H. L. Mencken, Bernard Berenson and Sherwood Anderson.

At 86, an author is still an author.

The article closes with a photo from
The New York Times (by Michael Evans)
Max Eastman, with his tabby Twiggy, during the interview at his home on West 13th Street.

Over My Shoulder # 49: Sic Semper

Here’s the rules.

  1. Pick a quote of one or more paragraphs from something you’ve read, in print, over the course of the past week. (It should be something you’ve actually read, and not something that you’ve read a page of just in order to be able to post your favorite quote.)

  2. Avoid commentary above and beyond a couple sentences, more as context-setting or a sort of caption for the text than as a discussion.

  3. Quoting a passage doesn’t entail endorsement of what’s said in it. You may agree or you may not. Whether you do isn’t really the point of the exercise anyway.

Here’s the quote. This is from my class readings, Herodotus (c. 449 BCE), The Histories (trans. G.C. Macaulay and Donald Lateiner); I read it during one of my study jags over at The Coffee Cat. It’s Herodotus’s version of the end of the life of Cyrus the Great, the first King of Kings of the Persian Empire. At this time in his life, Cyrus had gained supreme power over the Persians, taken power over the old Median Empire, and set out on decades of large-scale conquest, subjugating nearly all of the peoples in Asia Minor, the Levant, and Mesopotamia. He then went with his army to the river Aras, in the hopes of expanding his conquest onto the Central Asian plains.

201. When [Babylon] also had been subdued by Cyrus, he desired to bring the Massagetai into subjection to himself. This nation is reputed to be both great and warlike, and to dwell towards the East and the sunrise, beyond the river Araxes and over against the Issedonians. Some say that this nation is of the Scythian race.

. . . 205. Now the ruler of the Massagetai was a woman, who was queen after the death of her husband, and her name was Tomyris. To her Cyrus sent and wooed her, pretending that he desired to have her for his wife. Tomyris, understanding that he was wooing not herself but rather the kingdom of the Massagetai, rejected his approaches. Cyrus after this, as he made no progress by craft, marched to the Araxes and campaigned openly against the Massagetai, forming bridges of boats over the river for his army to cross, and building towers upon the vessels which gave them safe passage across the river.

[. . . The captive king Croesus advised Cyrus to leave behind part of his army, along with preparations for a feast with strong wine, as a snare for the Massagetai warriors, who had no experience with Persian drinks.]

211. . . . After this when Cyrus and the sound part of the army of the Persians had marched back to the Araxes, and those unfit for fighting had been left behind, then one-third of the army of the Massagetai attacked and proceeded to kill, not without resistance, those whom the army of Cyrus had left behind. Seeing the feast that was set forth, when they had overcome their enemies they lay down and feasted, and being satiated with food and wine they went to sleep. Then the Persians came upon them and slew many of them, and took alive many more even than they slew, and among these the son of the queen Tomyris, who was leading the army of the Massagetai; and his name was Sparagapises.

212. She then, when she heard that which had come to pass with the army and also the things concerning her son, sent a herald to Cyrus and said: Cyrus, insatiable of blood, do not celebrate too much what has come to pass, namely because with that fruit of the vine, with which you fill yourselves and become so mad that as the wine descends into your bodies, wicked words float up upon its stream,—because setting a snare, I say, with such a drug as this you overcame my son and not by valor in fight. Now therefore hear this my word, giving you good advice:—Restore to me my son and depart from this land without penalty, triumphant over a third part of the army of the Massagetai. If you shall not do so, I swear to you by the Sun, who is lord of the Massagetai, that surely I will give you your fill of blood, blood-thirsty though you are.

213. These words were reported to him, but Cyrus disregarded them; and the son of the queen Tomyris, Sparagapises, when he sobered up and he realized his plight, entreated Cyrus that he might be loosed from his chains and gained his request. So soon as his hands were free, he put himself to death. 214. He then ended his life in this manner; but Tomyris, as Cyrus did not listen to her, gathered together all her power and joined battle with Cyrus. This battle I judge to have been the fiercest of all the battles fought by Barbarians,[1] and I am informed that it happened thus:—first, it is said, they stood apart and shot at one another, and afterwards when their arrows were all shot away, they fell upon one another and engaged in close combat with their spears and daggers; and so they continued their fight with one another for a long time, and neither side would flee; but at last the Massagetai got the better in the fight. The greater part of the Persian army was destroyed there upon the spot, and Cyrus himself died there, after he had reigned twenty-nine years. Then Tomyris filled a skin with human blood and had search made among the Persian dead for the corpse of Cyrus. When she found it, she let his head down into the skin and doing outrage to the corpse she said this over it: Though I yet live and have overcome you in fight, nevertheless you have destroyed me by taking my son with craft. I nevertheless according to my threat will give you your fill of blood. There are many tales told about the end of Cyrus, but this one is to my mind the most worthy of belief.

— Herodotus (c. 449 BCE), The Histories, Book I §§ 212-213. (Trans. G.C. Macaulay and Donald Lateiner.)

  1. [1] [Sic. By Barbarians, Herodotus simply means nations that do not speak Greek. —CJ]

Bruce Levine, The Fall of the House of Dixie on Robert E. Lee and the whipping of the Norris slaves

This passage is from Bruce Levine’s 2013 study, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South (Random House, 2013). Levine’s text includes an error of misreading the sources: in reading descriptions of the escape and whipping, he seems to have mistakenly parsed my sister Mary, a cousin of ours, and I determined to run away as my sister, Mary (a cousin of ours), and I determined to run away, thus mistaking Mary Norris for the unnamed cousin of ours in Norris’s testimony (in fact, according to Pryor, inf., the cousin is George Parks).

Hundley was anxious to attribute such conduct to only the greediest and cruelest masters. In fact, however, cracking whips and piercing cries were heard throughout the South. Robert E. Lee liked to think of himself as a humane owner. But he could react as fiercely as any other when his power and authority were challenged. In 1859, three of Lee’s slaves—Wesley Norris, his sister, and a cousin named Mary—attempted to escape from the Arlington plantation. Recaptured in Maryland, the unfortunate people were jailed there for two weeks and then delivered back into Lee’s hands. Promising to teach them a lesson they would not soon forget, Lee had them taken to the barn, stripped to the waist, and whipped between twenty and fifty times each on their bare flesh by a local constable named Dick Williams. As the punishment proceeded, Wesley Norris later recalled, Lee stood by, and frequently enjoined Williams to lay it on well, which he did.44

44. Elizabeth Brown Pryor, Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee through His Private Letters (New York, 2007), 260-261.

—Bruce Levine, The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South (Random House, 2013). 11, 309n44.

Two more years of THE LIBERATOR now available! (Scanning Project, Week 1 update)

I’m happy to announce, as an update to the ongoing Liberator online archive project that two more volumes of The Liberator — Vol. XII and Vol. XIII — are now available, in full page-scan PDF facsimiles — at the Liberator online archive:

The early 1840s were eventful and contentious years in the American Abolitionist movement, with much of the controversy centered on Garrison, Abby Kelly and their radical allies — especially the ultras’ strident opposition to electioneering and political parties, and their principled defense of women’s freedom to participate equally in the Abolitionist movement. In May 1840, the American Anti-slavery Society underwent a schism in the conflict over both propositions; more conservative, politically-oriented and anti-feminist abolitionists attempted to purge Garrison from the AAS, and when they failed to run him out, they left to form a new, conervative American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. The pages of The Liberator in 1841-1842 were full not only of news about national events, slavery, war, but also internal debate within the movement over the AAS/AFAS split and the electoral campaigns of the recently-formed Liberty Party, as well as new reports and arguments over the Come-Outer religious movement, endorsed by Garrison, Abby Kelly, and others, which called on Christians to come out of mainline denominations that did not reflect their conscientious beliefs on spiritual practice or which refused to take a moral stand against slavery, alongside established features such as the Refuge of Oppression columns (in which Garrison quoted, verbatim, the words of defenders of slavery and racism, in order to demonstrate the inhumanity of their views), international updates on the Caribbean and on the speaking tours of British Abolitionists, reflections on religious and moral topics, and pages of bad moral reform poetry. To see it as it happened, you can now check out 104 more issues of The Liberator available online, in full, for free, from January 1841 to the end of December 1842.

If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository. You can read more about the fundraiser and the archive project in the introductory post here at Fair Use Blog.

Read, cite, and enjoy!

The Liberator in Full Online for Free: Scanning Project, Week 1

From time to time I have mentioned my ongoing project of making full issues of William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator available here at fair-use.org. The Liberator is big (52-53 issues every year, for 35 years!) and the project has progressed at a slow pace. But I’m happy to announce that, thanks to a break from other obligations, a sponsorship from the Molinari Institute, and generous contributions from supporters all over the Internet, the project will be able to proceed much more quickly and steadily from here on out — hopefully with every issue of The Liberator available in full, online, for free, by the beginning of August 2014. But we need your support to make it happen!

Here’s the deal. When the fundraiser project started, thanks to occasional scanning when I had the time to volunteer, fair-use.org had ten years’ worth of The Liberator online: Volumes I.-IX. (1830-1839) and Volume XXI. (Jan.-Dec. 1851). In order to finish the remaining 25 years’ worth of issues this summer — instead of sometime around 2019 — we’re raising funds through our fiscal sponsor, the Molinari Institute — in order to get the scans online and begin to prepare an extensive, open, free and researcher-friendly archive and index for anyone who wants to learn more about radical abolitionism and the history of American social movements. The fundraiser will cover the labor costs for the scanning and the increased web hosting costs for what’s likely to become a very widely used web resource.

We started the fundraiser with a soft, quietly circulated launch last week. And I’m happy to announce to-day that, thanks to generous donations from 8 donors, we’ve already raised over 10% of our goal — $246 out of the projected $2,000 budget. And also that thanks to the donations, we’ve already been able to add two new volumesVolume X. and Volume XI. of The Liberator (1840-1841) are now available online. We’re on track to add the next two volumes (XII. and XIII.) by the end of this week.

About the project:

Our goal is to make every issue of The Liberator, from 1831-1865, available in full, online, for free, and to add free tools to aid students and researchers in searching through the archives of the paper.

  • Phase I. is to scan every issue from every year of The Liberator from microfilm sources and to make facsimile PDFs available online for free at fair-use.org/the-liberator. If the fundraiser is fully funded, we should be able to add about two new volumes’ worth of facsimile PDFs each week, and complete Phase I by August 2014.
  • Phase II. is to prepare a free, online hypertext index of The Liberator, similar to the Individuals and Titles and Periodicals sections of Wendy McElroy’s indispensable Comprehensive Index to LIBERTY. The index will provide an easily searchable, easily browseable and interlinked complete table of contents for every issue of The Liberator and an index of names, book titles and periodical titles appearing in its pages. If we reach our stretch goals for the fundraiser, then the fundraiser will cover most of the labor cost for Phase II as well as for the scanning project. After Phase I is complete, I should be able to work out a plausible timeline for completing Phase II, but my guess at this point is that it could possibly be completed by the end of the year.
  • Phase III. would be to begin to transcribe individual articles and columns from the PDF facsimiles into lightweight, standards-based, linkable searchable HTML. This will be an immense amount of work and systematic effort to complete it will be a bit down the road. We’ll do another round of fundraising to support the Phase III transcriptions once Phase I. is complete and Phase II. is in progress.

About The Liberator

Garrison’s Liberator, running from 1831–1865, was the most prominent periodical of radical Abolition in the united states. Proclaiming, in the first issue, that:

… I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.

Together with the circle of black and white radicals that his paper attracted, Garrison’s Liberator helped to organize, and offered a forum for, the Abolitionist movement that spent the next 35 years working for the immediate emancipation of all slaves, condemning racial prejudice and “American Colorphobia,” and insisting that emancipation could only truly come about by inspiring a radical moral and social transformation. It urged a politics of radicalizing conscience, and denied that electoral gamesmanship, partisan politics, or political compromise would ever bring about liberation on their own. In the age of the Fugitive Slave Acts, the Garrisonians denounced the united states Constitution as a weapon of the slavers, “A Compromise with Death and an Agreement with Hell.” Rejecting the use of either political or military power as a means of overcoming the slave system, they argued for Disunion (“No Union with Slaveholders, religiously or politically”), holding that the Northern free states should secede from the Union, thus peacefully withdrawing the Federal economic, political and military support that the Slave Power depended on, and (they argued) driving the slave system to collapse, by kicking out the Constitutional compromises that propped it up. Garrison and his circle, in the face of condemnation from more conservative anti-slavery activists, also constantly drew parallels and connections between the struggle against slavery and other struggles for social liberation, taking early and courageous stances in defense of women’s rights and international peace.

What You Can Do To Help

If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository. We can accept credit card donations through GoFundMe.com and we can also accept Bitcoin donations to bitcoin:18Bojnp2UG3iDpXT9CxjutjsXQjWgbmSCW. (If you send us a BTC contribution, please contact us to let us know who you are, what you donated and where we can reach you, so that we can send you a thank-you and, if you want, keep you up to date with the progress of the project!) Contributors have the option of having their names appear, with our thanks, on the archive page at fair-use.org/the-liberator/, or remaining anonymous if they’d prefer. You can also get periodic updates (no more than one e-mail a week) about both the progress of the fundraiser and the progress of the scanning project.

Please share this notice far and wide! We can finish this project on a small budget, but we need your help in getting the word out. A link here will work fine; or you can link directly to the GoFundMe.com fundraiser page at www.gofundme.com/8tb288

If you have access to microfilm and scanning equipment, you could also help the project immensely by contacting us at fair-use.org about hosting any alternative page-scans of some issues — as with any 19th century periodical, many of the issues that we are scanning already had blemishes, tears or folds on the pages when they were preserved in microfilm, and if any parts of the text are illegible in our edition (the American Periodical Series microfilm collection, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich., as found in the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Ala.) we’d love to have alternative page-scans of those issues from other sources.

Thanks for anything you can do. And as always, read, cite, and enjoy!

S. E. Parker, “Anarchism versus Socialism” (1966)

This essay, by Sidney Parker, first appeared in Minus One, No. 14 (July-August 1966). It has since been reprinted in Enemies of Society (Ardent Press), pp. 150-3, and in The Sovereign Self No. 4 (Jan 2012) pp. 6-8.

Anarchism versus Socialism

S.E. Parker

The trouble with discussing socialism is that the word is such a vague one. Anarchism, in comparison, is clear and precise. An anarchist is someone who is without belief in authority—an individual who wants to live his life without having to submit to a will external to him. Anarchism is therefore the philosophy of living without authority, as its etymology suggests.

But what is socialism?

The Little Oxford Dictionary is blunt: “Socialism: the principle that individual liberty should be completely subordinated to the community.” Professed socialists themselves, however, have eschewed such bluntness and the most contradictory doctrines have been labeled “socialist”. There have been and are, national socialists, Christian socialists, libertarian socialists, state socialists, Marxist socialists, spiritual socialists, idealist socialists and so forth and so on. The only way one can get any sense out of the bewildering confusion of “true interpretations” is to find some belief or principle common to all socialists which distinguishes them from other people.

Since, for socialists in general, the economic question is paramount—every problem tending to be reduced to the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism—there is one belief which all socialists, from Statists to libertarian communists, share, and that is the belief in the need to put the ownership or control of the means of production into the hands of some collective body, be it the government or “society”. Socialism above all is, as Auguste Hamon has said, a “social system in which — a social doctrine by which — the means of production are socialized”. It is my argument that this wish to make society the owner and provider of the means of life is to put new authority over the individual in place of the old and is therefore not anarchism. Anarchism stands for leaving each individual free to provide for himself what he needs and is therefore not a complement of socialism but its opposite. It follows that those anarchists who think that anarchism is a form of socialism are deluding themselves and sooner or later will have to choose between them, for they cannot logically be both.

Undoubtedly there are some socialists who are genuinely concerned for the freedom of the individual and believe that by taking the means of production away from the capitalists and giving them to society, or the State as representative of society, they will abolish the subjection of the many to the privileged few and so secure the liberty of each individual. But how would this alter the position of the individual producer? Under capitalism he has to submit to the will of a handful of monopolists. Under socialism he would have to submit to the will of the collective. He would have no freedom to produce and exchange as he wishes and without this his individual freedom cannot exist.

The socialist might reply that when the means of production belong to all then everyone will be an owner. But of what use is it to me to be an owner of something in common with, say, 1,000,000 people? To own one millionth of something is in effect to own nothing. Under socialism, therefore, the individual would be a proletarian—that is, a property-less person—and control of the means of production would be in the hands of an abstraction called “society”, and the interests of this abstraction would be superior to the interests of the individual. Everything would be for the “common good”.

It is not enough to say that the individual would still own his clothing or his toothbrush, and that only the means of producing these things would be owned in common. As Benjamin Tucker pointed out this means “the liberty to eat, but not to cook; to drink, but not to brew; to wear, but not to spin; to dwell, but not to build; to give, but not to sell or buy; to think, but not to print; to speak, but not to hire a hall; to dance, but not to pay the fiddler.”

Socialism, being a species of humanism, is a doctrine of indiscriminate solidarity. It suppresses direct exchange between the producer and the consumer and has for its ethic the obligation of each to work for the benefit of all. It assumes that since each individual will have the right to a guaranteed living, he must all have the duty to put all he produces at the disposal of the collectivity. The producer cannot choose who will benefit from this production; the consumer cannot choose who will be his producer. Socialism is thus a herd-philosophy, the practice of the bee-hive. Its consistent application would deny all freedom of choice and it is therefore a totalitarian system. Even if in theory there would be no laws in a socialist society to enforce the subordination of the individual to the mass, there would be a socially sanctioned system of moral coercion to achieve the same end.

Economic freedom — any kind of freedom — for the individual can only exist where there is a choice of alternatives. Anarchism can only be pluralist, allowing any kind of economic relationship that will satisfy the individuals involved. To tie the individual to collective ownership is not anarchism, for anarchism can only exist where there is the possibility for infinite change and variety.

The fundamental issue between anarchism and socialism was well put some time ago by Francis Ellingham when writing of the difference between individualist anarchism and libertarian communism. He wrote that this difference concerned:

… who is to be the subject of the process of production, consumption and accumulation?

Is it to be the individual, working as an independent economic unit—either alone or, if he chooses, in association with other individuals? Or is it to be the community as a whole, working as a sort of super-family, and necessarily incorporating the individual, who thus becomes a cell in a larger economic organism?

Either the economy could be of such a nature that it necessitated association (and let us never forget that economic necessity can be at least as tyrannical as any government), or it could be based on the individual unit, leaving each individual free to associate, but never submerging him in any group from which he could not withdraw without economic ruin.

The libertarian communist ideal is, he continues,

… only a variation on the Marxist ideal that the State will ‘wither away’. there are no rulers in the Marxist paradise, which, in that sense, is an anarchist world. But the supposedly ‘free’ individual is merely a cog in a gigantic social machine, held together by sheer force of economic necessity.

Where socialists go wrong in this matter is in their assumption that the individual can only be free—i.e. self-governing, self-owning—when his interests are combined with those of all other individuals. They believe in the collectivization of interests. But I am not free if my interests are inseparable from yours. My freedom lies in my opportunity to differ, in dis-unity, dis-connection, dis-sent. I am freest when interests are individualized, when I can be sole sovereign over my person and can dispose of the things I produce, or the services I can offer, as I see fit.

Anarchism lies in the direction of the individualization of interests, economic or any other, not their socialization.

Socialism is a religion of Society—it is the sacrifice of the individual to the Collective.

Anarchism is the philosophy of the individual—it is the affirmation of individuality, the proud denial of legitimacy to any institution, group or idea that claims authority over the ego.

—From Minus One, No. 14 (July-August 1966).

Six more volumes of The Liberator (Jan. 1835 – Dec. 1839, Jan. 1851 – Dec. 1851) now available in PDF

To-day I am happy to announce that facsimile PDFs of six new volumes of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison’s radical Abolitionist newspaper, are now available online in the Fair Use Repository. 52 full issues per year, 4pp each, in PDF facsimiles of the microfilmed original papers. A few articles have been transcribed into HTML, with more to come in coming months. The new issues are from volumes V., VI., VII., VIII., IX., and XXI. (1835–1839, 1851):

See Vols. V.-IX., and Vol. XXI (1835–1839, 1851) of The Liberator online at the Fair Use Repository.

Garrison’s Liberator, running from 1831–1865, was the most prominent periodical of radical Abolition in the united states. Proclaiming, in the first issue, that:

… I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.

… Garrison, together with the circle of black and white radicals that his paper attracted, helped organize, and offered a forum for, spent the next 35 years arguing for the immediate abolition of slavery, the end of racial prejudice and “American Colorphobia,” and insisting that emancipation could only truly come about by inspiring a radical moral and social transformation — urging a politics of radicalizing conscience, and denying that electoral gamesmanship, partisan politics, or political compromise would ever bring about liberation on their own. In the age of the Fugitive Slave Acts, the Garrisonians denounced the united states Constitution as a weapon of the slavers, “A Compromise with Death and an Agreement with Hell.” Rejecting the use of either political gamesmanship or military force as a means of overcoming the slave system, they argued for Disunion (“No Union with Slaveholders, religiously or politically”), holding that the Northern free states should secede from the Union, thus peacefully withdrawing the Federal economic, political and military support that the Slave Power depended on, and (they argued) driving the slave system to collapse, by kicking out the Constitutional compromises that propped it up. Garrison and his circle, against the condemnation of more conservative anti-slavery activists, also constantly drew parallels and connections between the struggle against slavery and other struggles for social liberation, taking early and courageous stances in defense of women’s rights and international peace.

As I mentioned when I began this project last year, these newly-available volumes are part of a work in progress — the ultimate aim is to make all 35 years of The Liberator available in full on the web. The full-issue PDFs are scanned from the reproductions available on microfilm (American Periodical Series, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich.) through the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Alabama. The reproductions of the issues in the microfilm that I used as my source were of varying quality. I hope to be able to run through soon and mark the issues whose reproductions have significant defects. Scans from other sources are welcome, if available, in order to supplement the collection when reproductions from the Auburn microform are illegible or defective — if you have access to these, please feel free to contact me; I’d be glad to put them up as alternate versions. All the issues made available so far in Vols. I through IX and in Vol. XXI. were scanned by Charles W. Johnson from January 2013–February 2014.

If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository.

Read, cite, and enjoy!

Us, the Unnoticed

This is from Bernardo Soares’s (or Fernando Pessoa’s, as you like)[1] Book of Disquiet, text 24. In the context of the book, the passage is contextually even more striking because it contains only the second time (after dozens of pages) that anything appears in the text that was said by another human voice besides the narrator’s. And the first that what someone else said is actually breaks through, or alters Soares’s train of thought.

Today, feeling almost physically ill because of that age-old anxiety which sometimes wells up, I ate and drank rather less than usual in the first-floor dining room of the restaurant responsible for perpetuating my existence. And as I was leaving, the waiter, having note that the bottle of wine was still half full, turned to me and said: So long, Senhor Soares, and I hope you feel better.

The trumpet blast of this simple phrase relieved my soul like a sudden wind clearing the sky of clouds. And I realized something I had never really thought about: with these café and restaurant waiters, with barbers and with the delivery boys on street corners I enjoy a natural, spontaneous rapport that I can’t say I have with those I supposedly know more intimately.

Camaraderie has its subtleties.

Some govern the world, others are the world. Between an American millionaire, a Caesar or Napoleon, or Lenin, and the Socialist leader of a small town, there’s a difference in quantity but not of quality. Below them there’s us, the unnoticed: the reckless playwright William Shakespeare, John Milton the schoolteacher, Dante Alighieri the tramp, the delivery boy who ran an errand for me yesterday, the barber who tells me jokes, and the waiter who just now demonstrated his camaraderie by wishing me well, after noticing I’d drunk only half the wine.

— Bernardo Soares, The Book of Disquiet text 24 (pp. 27-28)
New York: Penguin. trans. Richard Zenith.

  1. [1] Pessoa wrote almost all of his mature literary work under a number of heteronyms, that is, signatures that represented not only an alternate name, but actually a complex set of interacting characters that Pessoa invented and set into the Portuguese literary scene of his day.

Volumes 3 and 4 (Jan. 1833 – Dec. 1834) of The Liberator now available in facsimile PDFs

To-day I am happy to announce that facsimile PDFs of the entire third and fourth volumes (1833–1834) of The Liberator, William Lloyd Garrison’s radical Abolitionist newspaper, are now available in the Fair Use Repository. 52 full issues per year, 4pp each, in PDF facsimiles of the original papers. A few articles have been transcribed into HTML, with more to come over time.

See Vol. III and Vol. IV (1833–1834) of The Liberator online at the Fair Use Repository.

As I mentioned in January, these newly-available volumes are part of a project in progress — the ultimate aim is to make all 35 years of The Liberator available in full on the web. The full-issue PDFs are scanned from the reproductions available on microfilm (American Periodical Series, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich.) through the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Alabama. The reproductions of the issues in the microfilm that I used as my source were of varying quality. I hope to be able to run through soon and mark the issues whose reproductions have significant defects. Scans from other sources are welcome, if available, in order to supplement the collection when reproductions from the Auburn microform are illegible or defective — if you have access to these, please feel free to contact me; I’d be glad to put them up as alternate versions. All the issues made available so far in Vols. III and IV were scanned by Charles W. Johnson from January–February 2013.

If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository.

Read, cite, and enjoy!

J.M. Clarke, “Who are the Philosophers?” from FREE SOCIETY IX.18 (May 4, 1902)

During the early 1900s, partly as a result of intense government scrutiny in the wake of the assassination of William McKinley, a number of anarchist journals featured heated debates over questions of methods, as well as the different meanings of “philosophic,” “revolutionary,” and other sorts of Anarchism. During 1902, some of that heat was concentrated in debates between writers in Free Society (a leading movement paper published in Chicago) and in Discontent (one of the anarchist papers published from the Home colony in northwest Washington). Here is a letter from that exchange, in which J. M. Clarke (in Free Society) calls J. F. Morton (of Discontent) to task for his articles claiming the title of “philosophic Anarchism.” This letter appeared in Free Society, Volume IX, No. 18, Whole No. 360 (May 4, 1902), p. 3.

Who are the Philosophers?

I observe that there is no little friction just now among those designated under the general name Anarchists as to whom the designation properly applies. J. F. Morton, editor of Disconent, has defined the matter down to a very plain thing! Some of us more rudimentary ones have supposed that Anarchy was a social state in which there would be in all our social and personal conditions absolute individual liberty—at least as far as the possibilities of humanity would permit. We had supposed that all that stood in the way of this, law, Church, custom, or government, any restraint by any other person is contrary to Anarchist theory; that the means taken to attain this end, either the passive resistance methods of Tolstoy, the revolutionary theories of the “reds,” as commonly called, the assassinatory violence of a Bresci or a Czolgosz, have nothing to do with the question of whether a person is an Anarchist or not. Some of us too had the temerity to suppose that as individuals, we were philosophic to a degree at least in maintaining our separate ideals, differing tho they might, each with the other. But now it seems we were all mistaken, we rudimentary ones: there is a cut-and-dried “philosophical” that just fits to real Anarchy and all other kinds are “no good.” Love, taffy, goody-goody non-resistance, gentle cooing with our opponents as a whole, who are “obeying their convictions of duty,” etc. Anarchism is also, we have found out, to “obey the law while it exists”! O wonderful philosophic Anarchy! This kind is doubtless simon pure, it out-Tuckers Tucker himself. It relegates “Instead of a Book” to a back seat, and in its stead places absolute, unquestioning obedience to law, for when it does not “exist” is the only time that we must not obey!

Seriously, is it not about time for us Anarchists to have done with such quibbling evasions? Let us manfully acknowledge there are Anarchists and Anarchists; that some do believe in assassinating tyrants, some in non-resistance, some in self-defense, some in collective effort, some in purely individual effort; but all in absolute individual liberty, believing that results will be the best guide to a normal use of the same. I am a believer in such action as shall in the light of my own reason, aided by my own instinctive expression, seem the truly advisable in the conditioning of the hour. One cannot say one method or another is best independently of circumstances of the case. Anarchists acknowledge no pronunciamento. We have certain ideas: we propose to live them each for himself. We do not propose to have anybody, not even a comrade, define us out of our individuality by allowing anybody to judge for us whether we are “philosophical” or not!

J. M. Clarke