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Paule Mink, "Broken Arm"

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

"Bras cassé" originally appeared in La Revue socialiste in November, 1895.  The author was Paule Mink (sometimes "Minck," 1839–1901), born Adèle Paulina Mekarska, a French radical and feminist whose early political work seems to have been in the mutualist women's organizations that thrived at various times, despite Proudhon's severe and very public flounderings on questions of gender, sexuality and the family. I have a collection of Mink's political writings requested through interlibrary loan, and a couple of things, including a discussion of abortion rights from the 1890s, slated for translation for a future project. In the meantime, here's another lovely, if not cheerful, tale of proletarian woe. As someone who did a lot of work on formula fiction in a past academic life, the mix of romantic and coming-of-age conventions in this strike me as well-selected to tell the story of a strong man in a weak position.



Fruit of the sewer or flower of love, stream-scum or hedge-bud, result of a brutal crossroads passion or of naive tenderness: what was his origin? He did not know...

Picked up in the street, one morning, between a pile of rubbish and some rubble from demolition, abandoned like a small cat someone wants to be rid of, he was carried to the alms-house, and then placed among some farmers who raised him, giving him bread, in exchange, when he got to be a little bigger, for a labor that was very hard for a child, but who never had for him either affection or caresses.

He had a roof, under which he could lie down, and a portion of the soup, but not of the familial affection. Mama!... that word, cuddly and sweet, the first stammering of every little one, he had never murmured except in ...

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

Jules Allix, a most unusual Communard

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

I've been spending a lot of time this month working on the "Black and Red Feminism" project, trying to expand the pilot pamphlet into something a little more broadly representative, for release as a small hardcover volume. That's meant a lot of exploring, a few new figures of the "usual suspects" gallery here, and a little burst of new translations, like the Séverine story I just posted, and a Paule Mink story I hope to complete tomorrow. While I have not been looking as closely at the male feminists of the 1848 and Paris Commune periods, a few individuals have certainly caught my eye. Jules Allix is at the very top of that list, as much for his personal peculiarities as for his feminism. I have a women's rights address that I'm hoping to include in the "Black and Red Feminism" sampler, and I'm assembling the pieces for a collection of Allix's "scientific" writings for late-summer release, but here's a bit of (not entirely sympathetic) biography, to introduce Comrade Allix.



8th arrondissement. — 2,028 votes.

Allix (Jules) had one of the most curious physiognomies that we have studied. Born September 9, 1818, at Fontenay (Vendée), Allix called himself a professor; indeed, he formerly taught reading in fifteen lessons, and had occupied himself with universal physics. Allix was recognizable among all his colleagues for his eccentricities: he constantly held in his hand a pince-nez that he leveled, with an imperturbable aplomb, at those who found themselves in front of him. He also had a mania for always wanting to talk, and his colleagues tried in vain to cure him of that malady, a true calamity for those obliged to listen to him.

Allix stood, in 1848, as a candidate in Vendée for the Constituent ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Séverine, Liberty—Equality—Fraternity

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


Séverine (Caroline Rémy de Guebhard)



That night, on the asphalt beach that dominates the view from my window, some human wreckage, a father, mother, and two babies, had washed up on a bench. From the heights where, much despite myself, I glide, one could distinguish nothing but a pile of gray flesh and soiled rags, from which emerged, here and there, an arm, a leg, with a movement slow and painful as a crushed crab’s leg

They slept, clutching one another, huddled in one pile, from habit, as if they would die of cold — even on this warm summer night!

Some policemen had come who circled around, sniffing and staring at them, with that hostile curiosity of guard dogs and sergeants towards the poorly dressed — not too mean, however. They tapped on the shoulder of the man, who started, rubbed his eyes, and stood up with an effort, shifting the group where the kids, awakened suddenly, had begun to cry.

From his gestures, I understood that he was telling their story; I could sense the silent tears of the woman, wiping her eyes with the corner of her apron, while the other, by recalling them, revived her pains.

Not louts, nor bohemians — but workers! Workers brought to the most extreme limits of distress; having committed everything, sold everything, and lost everything!

Only one consolation could remain for this unfortunate: that of having lived as a free man in a free century; and the flags decorating the inn of La Belle Étoile (his last home!) recalled eloquently how fortunate it was, for him and his, to have been “delivered” a century before!

He was miserable, yes — but a voter and a citizen! How very ...

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

Proudhon clears things up

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

Proudhon was fond of scandal and provocation—and it got him, and his friends, into hot water. In his System of Economic Contradictions, he wrapped his already provocative thesis about the evolution of institutions around a scandalous narrative about "the hypothesis of God." Proudhon was fascinated with Christianity, and wrote about it from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of tones, but he is probably best remembered for writings like his "Hymn to Satan" and the final chapter of the first volumes of the Economic Contradictions, where he worked himself up to a sort of declaration of war against the very idea of God:
"If God did not exist"— it is Voltaire, the enemy of religions, who says so, — "it would be necessary to invent him." Why? "Because," adds the same Voltaire, "if I were dealing with an atheist prince whose interest it might be to have me pounded in a mortar, I am very sure that I should be pounded." Strange aberration of a great mind! And if you were dealing with a pious prince, whose confessor, speaking in the name of God, should command that you be burned alive, would you not be very sure of being burned also? Do you forget, then, anti-Christ, the Inquisition, and the Saint Bartholomew, and the stakes of Vanini and Bruno, and the tortures of Galileo, and the martyrdom of so many free thinkers? Do not try to distinguish here between use and abuse: for I should reply to you that from a mystical and supernatural principle, from a principle which embraces everything, which explains everything, which justifies everything, such as the idea of God, all consequences are legitimate, and that the zeal of the believer is the sole judge of their propriety.


Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Joseph D̩jacque РThe Humanisphere (Preface)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

The Humanisphere:
Anarchic Utopia

Joseph Déjacque

UTOPIA: "A dream not realized, but not unrealizable."

ANARCHY: "Absence of government."

Revolutions are conservations. (P. J. PROUDHON)

The only true revolutions are the revolutions of ideas. (JOUFFROY)

Let us make customs, and no longer make laws. (EMILE DE GIRARDIN)

So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty…. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (SAINT PAUL THE APOSTLE)

What is this Book!

This book is not a literary work, it is an infernal labor, the cry of a rebel slave.

Being, like the cabin boy of the Salamander, unable, in my individual weakness, to strike down all those who, on the ship of the legal order, dominate and mistreat me, when my day is done at the workshop, when my watch is finished on the bridge, I descend by night to the bottom of the hold, I take possession of my solitary corner and, there, with teeth and claws, like a rat in the shadows, I scratch and gnaw at the worm-eaten walls of the old society. By day, as well, I use my hours of unemployment, I arm myself with a pen like a borer, I dip it in bile for grease, and, little by little, I open a way, each day larger, to the flood of the new; I relentless perforate the hull of Civilization. I, a puny proletarian, on whom the crew, the horde of exploiters, daily inflict the torment of the aggravated misery of the ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Jeanne Deroin, "Letter … on the Organization of Credit" (1851) – 3

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

Letter to the Associations on the Organization of Credit

[Conclusion; continued from Part I — Part II]

Revolutions cannot produce the well-being toward which the suffering classes aspire, they almost always serve as stepping stones for a few ambitious types to come to power.

And when they are achieved, they continue the habits of the past. They find no other means to combat poverty, when the sufferers grow weary and irritated, than the compression which provokes resistance and prepare new battles.

And when the sufferers resign themselves, alms, which adds moral degradation to poverty, and which is an outrage to human dignity.

It is because the rights of the disinherited are misunderstood that revolutions are providentially necessary; and, in that case, the justice of the people is the justice of God.

And it is the disagreement on the choice of means to combat poverty and constitute well-being which has caused reactions up to the present.

But social science had come to bring the light.

Socialism is the synthesis of all the social truths taught by the reformers.

The various schools differ in the means of organization, but, deep down, they all have the same basis: SOLIDARITY;

The same principal means: ORGANIZATION OF LABOR;

The same goal: WELL-BEING FOR ALL.

They differ on the degree of solidarity;

On the mode of organization;

On the nature and enlargement of well-being that suits the human being.

These differences manifest the wisdom of the ways of Providence, which intended that the teaching of social verities should simultaneously penetrate the various classes of society, in the forms most in harmony with their various needs and aspirations.

And the discussions that rise from these differences must cast light on the great questions of social economy.

But practice alone can give a certain solution to these ...

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

Jeanne Deroin, "Letter … on the Organization of Credit" (1851) – 2

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

Letter to the Associations on the Organization of Credit

[continued from Part I]

The circulation of these bills of credit assuring to each of the associations adhering to the mutual credit the business of all the other subscribing associations.

In order to form a mutual credit bureau, it is not necessary to form public gatherings. All that is required, to give the first impetus, is a few associations of various professions which have understood all the present advantages and all the possible results of this mode of credit.

The bills of credit should have a character of unity, and come from a common center, in order to give the mutual credit a more powerful guarantee, and to avoid making an emission of bills surpassing the resources of the credit.

But when two or three associations of different professions resolve to establish the mutual credit, and take the initiative to establish a credit bureau, no discussion will be necessary to lead the other associations: those who do not want to take part will not receive the bills, and they will await the results.

There will be nothing to discuss; it is not a question of a theory, but of a practical fact, and practical means are the best means of propaganda; the least fait accompli often has more value than an axiom.

The associations that wish to subscribe at the founding of the Bureau of Mutual Credit, will make a loan to that bureau, by subscribing an emission of bills of credit which cannot surpass the amount of consumption that they can make of the products and labors of the other adherent associations for three or six months.

That loan must be based on consumption, because it is an advance made in proportion to the consumptive needs of the lenders.


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

Jeanne Deroin, "Letter to the Associations on the Organization of Credit" (1851)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

The radical literature that any of us are actually familiar with always seems to be just a drop in the bucket. There are masses of largely ephemeral publications in every language, and all of the advances in digital archiving have only really begun to make any sort of dent in the work to be done. We can't ignore all that ephemera, unless we're content with a sort of abstract, top-down understanding of our traditions. After all, for every Proudhon, there were a dozen Greenes and Langlois, and for every one of them there were dozens of Junquas and Blackers, and for every one of them there were hundreds and thousands of rank-and-file radicals, many of them with ideas all their own. When we scour all the radical papers, we'll still only get a sample of the real history of the radical movements—but at least it will be a start.

In the meantime, a lot of the work to do involves relatively "big names" in radicalism. Some of that is, of course, translation. There's still a lot of work to do on Proudhon, and we've hardly started on his collaborators. We've also hardly started on his critics—and the literature of direct responses to Proudhon is huge by itself. This last weekend, while I was tabling the Portland Anarchist Bookfair, I dedicated my transit time to a pair of pamphlets debating the merits of Proudhon's work: "Histoire de M. Proudhon et de ses principes," by "Satan" and "Réponse à Satan au sujet de M. Proudhon" by "l'Archange Saint-Michel." "Satan" was apparently Georges-Marie Dairnvæll, the author of a number of other works, and the "Response" was published by the Société d'Education Mutuelle des Femmes, a group founded by Jeanne Deroin and Desirée Gay. I recently translated the manifesto ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Proudhon's "New Theory" (1 of 3)

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

[Note: For some general thoughts on The Theory of Property, see "property must justify itself or disappear"]

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, The Theory of Property, Chapter VI: "The New Theory" (1865)

New theory: that the motives, and thus the legitimacy of property, must be sought, not in its principle or origin, but in its aims. Presentation of these motives.

Philosophy has had, for three centuries, many institutions and many beliefs: will it be the same for property? If my opinion is of any weight here, I dare to respond that it will not. Jurisprudence has not grasped thus far the causes or the reasons for property, because property, as it has come to reveal itself to us in its principle and in its history, is a fact of collective spontaneity of which nothing would have been able a priori to detect the spirit and the reason; because, on the other hand, it is still in the process of formation, and in this regard experience is incomplete; because, until the last few years, philosophical doubt has struck it only timidly, and because it is necessary, beforehand, to destroy its religion; because in this moment it appears to us rather as a revolutionary force than as an inspiration of universal conscience, and that if it has reversed many despotisms, overcame many aristocracies, one cannot finally say that it has founded anything at all.

The moment has come when property must justify itself or disappear: if I have obtained, these last ten years, some success for the critique that I have made of it, I hope that the reader will not show themselves less favorable today to this exegesis.

I will first observe that if we want to be successful in our research, it is completely necessary that we abandon the road where our predecessors became lost. In order to make sense of property, they returned to the origins; they scrutinized and analyzed the principle; they invoked the needs of personality and the rights of labor, and appealed to the sovereignty of the legislator. That was to place oneself on the terrain of possession. We have seen in Chapter IV, in the summary critique that we have made of all the controversies, into what paralogisms the authors were thrown. Only skepticism could be the fruit of their efforts; and skepticism is today the only serious opinion which exists on the subject of property. It is necessary to change methods. It is neither in its principle and its origins, nor in its materials that we must seek the reason of property; in all those regards, property, I repeat, has nothing more to offer us than possession; it is in its AIMS.

But how to discover the purpose of an institution of which one has declared it useless to examine the principle, the origin and the material? Is it not, to lightheartedly pose an insoluble problem? Property, indeed, is absolute, unconditional, jus utendi et abutendi, or it is nothing. Now, who says absolute, says indefinable, says a thing which one can recognize neither by its limits nor its conditions, neither by its material, nor by the date of its appearance. To seek the aims of property in what we can know of it beginnings, of the animating principle on which it rests, of the circumstances under which it manifests itself, that would be always to go in circles, and to disappear into contradiction. We cannot even bring to testimony the services that it is supposed to render, since those services are none other than those of possession itself; because we only know them imperfectly; because nothing proves besides that we cannot obtain for ourselves the same guarantees, and still better ones, by other means.

Here again, and for the second time, I say that it is necessary to change methods and to start ourselves on an unknown road. The only thing that we can know clearly about property, and by which we can distinguish it from possession, is that it is absolute abusive; Very well! It is in its absolutism, in its abuses that we must seek the aim.

Do not let these odious names of abuse and absolutism, dear reader, frighten you unnecessarily. It is not a question of legitimating what your incorruptible conscience condemns, nor or misleading your own reason in the transcendental regions. This is an affair of pure logic, and since the Collective Reason, the sovereign of us all, is not at all frightened of proprietary absolutism, why should it scandalize you any more? Should we be ashamed, perhaps, of ourselves? Certain minds, from an excess of puritanism, or perhaps a feebleness of comprehension, have posed individualism as the antithesis of revolutionary thought: it was simply to drive the citizen and man from the republic. Let us be less timid. Nature has made man individual, which means rebellious; society in its turn, doubtless in order not to remain at rest, has instituted property; in order to achieve the triad, since, according to Pierre Leroux, every truth is manifested in three terms, man, rebellious and egoistic subject, has dedicated himself to all the fantasies of his free will. It is with these three great enemies, Revolt, Egoism and Good Pleasure that we must live; it is on their shoulders, as on the back of three caryatids, that we will raise the temple of Justice.

All the abuses of which property can make itself guilty, and they are as numerous as profound, can be reduced to three categories, according to the point of view from which one considers property: political abuses, economic abuses, moral abuses. We will examine one after another these different categories of abuse, and, concluding à mesure, we will deduce the AIMS of property, in other words its function and social destiny.

[section 2] 

[translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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

A socialist-feminist document from 1849

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









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.

1Ëš. 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.

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

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

4Ëš. 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.

5Ëš. 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.

6Ëš. 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.

7Ëš. 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,


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.