Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stephen Pearl Andrews vs. Benjamin Tucker (and Proudhon, and William B. Greene)

The Index, the free religionist paper, continues to be a source of interesting material by individualist anarchists and their associates. The 1875 volume contains bits and pieces of interest, including some additional "cost the limit of price" discussion by Edward Linton, notices of the death of Susan Dimock, and contributions by Dyer Lum—all of which suggests that the 1874 volume, which I have not yet seen, is probably worth tracking down. The 1876 volume, however, is pure paydirt. Lum and Henry Appleton appear. Ezra H. Heywood debates Elizur Wright about something called "The Family Bank." And Stephen Pearl Andrews' review of Benjamin Tucker's translation of Proudhon's What Is Property? starts a short, somewhat heated debate on the merits of Proudhon's work vs. Andrews' universology. Tucker is more self-assured in this exchange than in his debate with Abbot in 1873. And William B. Greene makes an appearance, via a letter to Tucker, and challenges Andrews to clarify the nature of his "great discovery. Andrews then takes up the challenge in a series of three remarkably clear bits of universological explanation.

(As it appears that Andrews' series of articles continues on into 1877, I'll wait to see that volume before collecting the series. Heywood's debate with Wright formed an early episode in Wright's advocacy of life insurance, and it should be possible to gather up Wright's "Life Insurance for the Poor," as well as some of the surrounding debate. I'll be travelling to get another look at the microfilm of The Word next week, so I can also check to see if any of these debates spilled over into the pages of that publication.)

Much of the debate in The Index in this period was related to religious influence in schools and the relative threat levels of Catholic and Protestant sects to liberty and free religion. Into the midst of all this, Stephen Pearl Andrews dropped a short missive, memorable as a near-perfect example of the Pantarch's style:



Doubtless, when the Pope is truly fulfilling his function of Supreme Pontifex, of Pontifex Maximus, he is infallible; for it is only when he makes no mistakes that he is fulfilling that function. So every other man, when doing rightly his supreme devoir, is infallible, for the same reason. It is only when a man is off the tripod that he makes mistakes, because to make mistakes is to be off the tripod.

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