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Archive for August, 2010

A socialist-feminist document from 1849

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

FRATERNAL ASSOCIATION

OF THE

SOCIALIST DEMOCRATS

OF BOTH SEXES

FOR THE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN

1849

----------------

DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES

In the name of God and the solidarity which links all the member of the great human family;

We affirm that women have the same right as men to liberty, equality and fraternity.

Liberty, for woman as for man, is the right and the power to develop and exercise freely and harmoniously all his physical, intellectual and moral faculties, without any limit but the respect of the rights of each. All liberties are solidary; one cannot undermine any without damaging the others.

Equality is, for man as for woman, he right and power to take part in all the acts of social life, to the degree that one’s faculties and aptitudes allow.

To split humanity into two unequal parts, to refuse to woman here rights to liberty and equality, is to undermine principle and sanction the right of the strongest and of privilege.

Fraternity is the practice and liberty and equality for all, male and female; it is the respect of the rights of all the members of the great human family, the dedication of all to each and each to all.

To refuse to woman her rights of liberty and equality is to perpetuate antagonism, to mistake the respect for human dignity and the principles of fraternity and solidarity which are the basis of universal harmony.

Humanity is male and female; the law formulated by man alone cannot satisfy the needs of humanity.

The law of God, the rights of the people and of woman are misunderstood; the woman, the child, the laborer are oppressed and exploited by incomplete, oppressive and foolish laws, to the profit of the strongest and of those privileged by birth or fortune.

We affirm, in the name of the holy law of solidarity, that no one has the right to be completely free and happy as long as there is one single being that is oppressed and suffering.

We affirm that social reform cannot be accomplished without the assistance of woman, of half of humanity. And just as the political emancipation of the proletarian is the first step towards his physical emancipation, just so the political emancipation of woman is the first step towards the complete liberation of all the oppressed.

That is why we appeal to all women and to all men of heart and intelligence, to all those (male and female) who have the courage of their opinions, respect for principles, and who never recoil from practice, to come to our aid, to enter into the real path of social reform, opening the gates of the city to the last of the pariahs, to woman, without whom we cannot accomplish the work of our social redemption.

1˚. The adherents of the association are all women and all men who accept our declaration of principles, and who commit themselves to assist, to the degree enabled by their faculties and aptitudes, in the propagation, teaching and realization of these principles.

2˚. The members of the association are either apostles, propagators or subscribers.

3˚. Three commissioners direct the labors of the association: an apostolic commission, a commission of propaganda, and a commission of administration.

4˚. The apostolic commission is composed of men and women who dedicate themselves to develop, teach and sustain by speech, in all the public meetings, and by their writings, the principles contained in our declaration.

5˚. The propaganda commission is composed of all the men and women who have for mission to collect the memberships, and to establish a center of correspondence in all the arrondissements of Paris and all the departments.

6˚. The administrative commission is composed of twelve members elected by he subscribers; it is occupied with all the details of administration; a regulation will fix its allocations.

7˚. The subscriptions will have for aim: to transform our monthly journal into a weekly journal, the publication of writings approved by the apostolic Pommission, the payment of travel expenses and of all the expenditures necessary for the propagation of principles.

For the members of the Apostolic Commission,

JEANNE DEROIN.
JEAN MACÉ.
HENRIETTE, ARTISTE.
DELBROUCK.
ANNETTE LAMY.
EUGÈNE STOURM.

The members of the Propaganda Commission send the lists of membership and subscription the first of each month to the seat of the Apostolic Commission, at the office of the journal l’Opinion des femmes, 29, grande rue verte.

[translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

Responses to Anarchism: the Rhyme of Ravachol Needham

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

[From P. R. Bennett, Ducdame; a book of verses. 1912.]

The Anarchist

[A critic in the New Age suggests that modern thought can
submit no longer to the tyranny of rhyme and metre.]

Ravachol Needham was a man of letters,
Who refused to submit to the wretched fetters
That sought by rules of rhyme and scansion
To prevent his soaring soul's expansion.

He had languished long on a dismal sonnet
And wasted his eagle spirit on it,
Till the poor old bird had been imprisoned
So long that it grew depressed and wizened,
Drooped its feathers and nearly moulted,
Could stand it no longer — and then revolted.

He rent his regular rhymes asunder
And cried to Heaven in a voice of thunder:
"From now henceforth I intend to go it
As a go-as-I-jolly-well-please prose poet."
He spread his wings as he gaily rose
On the relatively free fresh winds of prose,
And revelled in the rapture of rhymeless reason,
Soaking his soul in the same for a season.

He offered to match his prose style any day
Against such masters as Mr. Bart Kennedy,
And even modelled a few of his speeches
On an English translation of a book of Nietzsche's.
But a man's no better than a servile helot if
He doesn't understand that Freedom's relative,
And Liberty's a man-destroying ogress
If she isn't prepared for continual progress.

He soon discovered that the chains of syntax
Were chafing his mind like a thousand tin-tacks.
So he set to work with tongs and hammer
And freed himself from the gyves of grammar;
He expressed his message with astonishing rapidity;
What he lost in form he gained in fluidity.

But after a time it seemed absurd
To imprison his meaning in a wooden word ;
For what are words, after all, but traps
Set by the tyranny of other chaps, —
Cages from which they refuse to free us,
Ready-made coffins for dead ideas.

So he started on a course of total abstention
From any such cut-and-dried convention,
And poured out his soul in a gorgeous brand —
New language that none could understand.

And that was the way that Ravachol Needham
Attained in the end to perfect freedom.

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

Max Nettlau, Anarchism: Communist or Individualist?—Both

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:


ANARCHISM: COMMUNIST OR INDIVIDUALIST?—BOTH

By Max Nettlau.

ANARCHISM is no longer young, and it may be time to ask ourselves why, with all the energy devoted to its propaganda, it does not spread more rapidly. For even where local activity is strongest, the results are limited, whilst immense spheres are as yet hardly touched by any propaganda at all. In discussing this question, I will not deal with the problem of Syndicalism, which, by absorbing so much of Anarchist activity and sympathies, cannot by that very fact be considered to advance the cause of Anarchism proper, whatever its other merits may be. I will also try not to repeat what I put forward in other articles in years gone by as possible means of increasing the activity of Anarchists. As my advice was not heeded, it cannot, in any case, be considered to have hampered the progress of our ideas.

I will consider the theories of Anarchism only; and here I have been struck for a long time by the contrast between the largeness of the aims of Anarchism—the greatest possible realization of freedom and well-being for all—and the narrowness, so to speak, of the economic program of Anarchism, be it Individualist or Communist. I am inclined to think that the feeling of the inadequacy of this economic basis—exclusive Communism or exclusive Individualism, according to the school—hinders people from acquiring practical confidence in Anarchism, the general aims of which appeal as a beautiful ideal to many. I feel myself that neither Communism nor Individualism, if it became the sole economic form, would realize freedom, which always demands a choice of ways, a plurality of possibilities. I know that Communists, when asked pointedly, will say that they should have no objection to Individualists who wished to live in their own way without creating new monopolies or authority, and vice versa. But this is seldom said in a really open and friendly way; both sections are far too much convinced that freedom is only possible if their particular scheme is carried out. I quite admit that there are Communists and Individualists to whom their respective doctrines, and these alone, give complete satisfaction and leave no problem unsolved (in their opinion); these would not be interfered with, in any case, in their lifelong constancy to one economic ideal. But they must not imagine that all people are constituted after their model and likely to come round to their views or remain "unreclaimed" adversaries on whom no sympathy is to be wasted. Let them but look on real life, which is bearable at all only by being varied and differentiated, in spite of all official uniformity. We all see the survivals of earlier Communism, the manifold workings of present-day solidarity, from which new forms of future Communism may develop—all this in the teeth of the cut-throat capitalist Individualism which predominates. But this miserable bourgeois Individualism, if it created a desire for solidarity, leading to Communism, certainly also created a desire for a genuine, free, unselfish Individualism, where freedom of action would no longer be misused to crush the weaker and to form monopolies, as to-day.

Neither Communism nor Individualism will ever disappear; and if by some mass action the foundations of some rough form of Communism were laid, Individualism would grow stronger than ever in opposition to this. Whenever a uniform system prevails, Anarchists, if they have their ideas at heart, will go ahead of it and never permit themselves to become fossilised upholders of a given system, be it that of the purest Communism.

Will they, then, be always dissatisfied, always struggling, never enjoying rest? They might feel at ease in a state of society where all economic possibilities had full scope, and then their energy might be applied to peaceful emulation and no longer to continuous struggle and demolition. This desirable state of things could be prepared from now, if it were once for all frankly understood among Anarchists that both Communism and Individualism are equally important, equally permanent; and that the exclusive predominance of either of them would be the greatest misfortune that could befall mankind. From isolation we take refuge in solidarity, from too much society we seek relief in isolation: both solidarity and isolation are, each at the right moment, freedom and help to us. All human life vibrates between these two poles in endless varieties of oscillations.

Let me imagine myself for a moment living in a free society. I should certainly have different occupations, manual and mental, requiring strength or skill. It would be very monotonous if the three or four groups with whom I would work (for I hope there will be no Syndicates then!) would be organized on exactly the same lines; I rather think that different degrees or forms of Communism will prevail in them. But might I not become tired of this, and wish for a spell of relative isolation, of Individualism? So I might turn to one of the many possible forms of "equal exchange" Individualism. Perhaps people will do one thing when they are young and another thing when they grow older. Those who are but indifferent workers may continue with their groups; those who are efficient will lose patience at always working with beginners and will go ahead by themselves, unless a very altruist disposition makes it a pleasure to them to act as teachers or advisers to younger people. I also think that at the beginning I should adopt Communism with friends and Individualism with strangers, and shape my future life according to experience. Thus, a free and easy change from one variety of Communism to another, thence to any variety of Individualism, and so on, would be the most obvious and elementary thing in a really free society; and if any group of people tried to check this, to make one system predominant, they would be as bitterly fought as revolutionists fight the present system.

Why, then, was Anarchism cut up into the two hostile sections of Communists and Individualists? I believe the ordinary factor of human shortcomings, from which nobody is exempt, accounts for this. It is quite natural that Communism should appeal more to some, Individualism to others. So each section would work out their economic hypothesis with full ardour and conviction, and by-and-by, strengthened in their belief by opposition, consider it the only solution, and remain faithful to it in the face of all. Hence the Individualist theories for about a century, the Collectivist and Communist theories for about fifty years, acquired a degree of settledness, certitude, apparent permanency, which they never ought to have assumed, for stagnation—this is the word—is the death of progress. Hardly any effort was made in favor of dropping the differences of schools; thus both had full freedom to grow, to become generalized, if they could. With what result?

Neither of them could vanquish the other. Wherever Communists are, Individualists will originate from their very midst; whilst no Individualist wave can overthrow the Communist strongholds. Whilst here aversion or enmity exists between people who are so near each other, we see Communist Anarchism almost effacing itself before Syndicalism, no longer scorning compromise by accepting more or less the Syndicalist solution as an inevitable stepping-stone. On the other hand, we see Individualists almost relapse into bourgeois fallacies —all this at a time when the misdeeds of authority, the growth of State encroachments, present a better occasion and a wider field than ever for real and outspoken Anarchist propaganda.

It has come to this, that at the French Communist Anarchist Congress held in Paris last year Individualism was regularly stigmatised and placed outside the pale of Anarchism by a formal resolution. If ever an international Anarchist Congress was held on these lines, endorsing a similar attitude, I should say good-bye to all hopes placed in this kind of sectarian Anarchism.

By this I intend neither to defend nor to combat Communism or Individualism. Personally, I see much good in Communism; but the idea of seeing it generalized makes me protest. I should not like to pledge my own future beforehand, much less that of anybody else. The Question remains entirely open for me; experience will show which of the extreme and of the many intermediate possibilities will be the best on each occasion, at each time. Anarchism is too dear to me that I should care to see it tied to an economic hypothesis, however plausible it may look to-day. Unique solutions will never do, and whilst everybody is free to believe in and to propagate his own cherished ideas, he ought not to feel it right to spread them except in the form of the merest hypothesis, and every one knows that the literature of Communist and Individualist Anarchism is far from keeping within these limits; we have all sinned in this respect.

In the above I have used the terms "Communist" and "Individualist" in a general way, wishing to show the useless and disastrous character of sectional exclusiveness among Anarchists. If any Individualists have said or done absurd things (are Communists impeccable?), to show these up would not mean to refute me. All I want is to see all those who revolt against authority work on lines of general solidarity instead of being divided into little chapels because each one is convinced he possesses a correct economic solution of the social problem. To fight authority in the capitalist system and in the coming system of State Socialism, or Syndicalism, or of both, or all the three combined, an immense wave of real Anarchist feeling is wanted, before ever the question of economic remedies comes in. Only recognize this, and a large sphere of solidarity will be created, which will make Communist Anarchism stand stronger and shine brighter before the world than it does now.

* * *

P. S.—Since writing the above I have found an early French Anarchist pamphlet, from which I translate the following:

"Thus, those who feel so inclined will unite for common life, duties, and work, whilst those to whom the slightest act of submission would give umbrage will remain individually independent. The real principle [of Anarchism] is this far from demanding integral Communism. But it is evident that for the benefit of certain kinds of work many producers will unite, enjoying the advantages of co-operation. But I say once more, Communism will never be a fundamental [meaning unique and obligatory] principle, on account of the diversity of our intellectual faculties, of our needs, and of our will."

This quotation (the words in brackets are mine) is taken from p. 72 of what may be one of the scarcest Anarchist publications, on which my eye lit on a bookstall ten days after writing the above article: "Philosophie de l'lnsoumission ou Pardon a Cain," par Felix P. (New York, 1854, iv. 74 pp., 12mo)—that is, "Philosophy of Non-Submission," the author's term for Anarchy. I do not know who Felix P. was; apparently one of the few French Socialists, like Dejacque, Bellegarrigue, Coeurderoy, and Claude Pelletier, whom the lessons of 1848 and other experiences caused to make a bold step forward and arrive at Anarchism by various ways and independent of Proudhon. In the passage quoted he put things into a nutshell, leaving an even balance between the claims of Communism and Individualism. This is exactly what I feel in 1914, sixty years after. The personal predilections of everybody would remain unchanged and unhurt, but exclusivism would be banished, the two vital principles of life allied instead of looking askance at each other.

[Source: Mother Earth. 9, 5 (July 1914) 170-175.]

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

E. Armand, "The Gulf"

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

This short piece by Emile Armand appeared in Horace Traubel's The Conservator in 1910. It's an interesting piece to have appeared in a magazine dominated by the shadow of Walt Whitman—and an interesting example of Armand's thought.

THE GULF

All the societies of the vanguard—Social Democrats, revolutionaries of all shades, various communists—say that the individual is a "product of his environment." It would be more exact to say that individuals are products of their environment, adding that the individual person, more especially, is the end of an ancestral line, which traces its origin back into animal darkness, holding this fact accountable for certain individuals in whom essentially predominate the characteristics of temperament and disposition of a particular ancestry. All societies—religious, lay, collectivist revolutionaries or not—say that the individual is a composite, therefore a dependent upon his environment. The anarchist individualists wish to make the individual person an independent, therefore a decomposite of his environment. The societies see in the individual a stone of the structure, a member of the body. The anarchists aim to make each individual person a distinct organism, a unified freeman. Whence two conceptions of education and propaganda:

1st. The social conception, which regards the individual as a wheelwork of society, and in its most audacious dreams does not go beyond the idea of the tremendous final transformation or revolution of the environment. It regards evolution as a quantitative result, a question of numbers. It takes the child or the adult, and, a priori, fills him with the concept of binding solidarity, of necessary harmony, of a communal organization inevitable and universal. It proceeds by shaping the brain after a pattern arranged in advance. It prescribes a special education.

2nd. The anarchistic conception, which regards the individual as detached—as the cause or reason of all association—who opposes it to society, and who would daringly like to make each personal life a ferment destructive to the prescribed or submissive life of the environment. It considers that all emancipation is due to quality, to individual effort. It seeks to make the child or the adult more competent for resistance, better endowed, a being deciding for himself as much as he can his own needs, and supplying them as much as possible; a union now or to come of others more capable or better endowed in one way or another. Outside of all intervention, of all guardianship, of all protection of the state or the community. Anarchistic education does not proceed by force, but by free examination, by approved elimination. It suggests, it selects.

And these two points of view are irreconcilable.

E. Armand.

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

Corneille on Corporatism

Now available thanks to Roderick at Austro-Athenian Empire:

Pierre Corneille

The great, ensuring power by purchased votes,
richly their so-called masters subsidise,
who, willingly enchained in gilded bonds,
are ruled by those they think that they control.

— Pierre Corneille, Cinna

Read the whole thing at Austro-Athenian Empire.