Friday, June 29, 2007

"Josiah Warren" (poem)

"Josiah Warren," Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, 8, 2 (June 14, 1874), 12.


Who gave the world the boldest thought,
That ever has by man been taught,
And set the pride of wealth at naught?

Josiah Warren.

Who gave the parlor lectures best,
From glowing love in his own breast,
Which is to be by nations blest?

Josiah Warren.

Who made the good of man his prayer,
And did to all around declare,
The glory of a millionaire?

Josiah Warren.

Who taught the best industrial law,
Which wit or wisdom ever saw,
That after him shall millions draw?

Josiah Warren.

Who set the usury laws aside,
And did for honest wealth provide,
By equity which must abide?

Josiah Warren.

Who taught the boys industrial plays,
While emulation was their praise,
To light their steps in pleasant ways?

Josiah Warren.

Who taught the lads in his own town
To set the court, and try the clown,
And thus put rowdy custom down?

Josiah Warren.

Who made a juvenile police,
And taught his class the power of peace,
And bade contentious strife to cease?

Josiah Warren.

Who used to give when he might call,
A friendly tract to great or small
Which said to us, “Swear not at all?”

Josiah Warren.

Who taught the faith that “works by love“—
And whose escutcheon was the dove
Which speaks his claim to realms above?

Josiah Warren.

And now, when thus his race is run—
His true existence just begun—
The Angel voices shout Well done!

Josiah Warren.

--The Millionaire, Boston, Mass.

Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist

Josiah Warren was, famously, not a joiner. He habitually quarreled with anyone who suggested that he had followers or had founded a school. By his own account, after his early adventures with Owenite socialism, he only ever joined one organization—but what an organization! It appears that, for roughly a month in the summer of 1873, Josiah Warren was affiliated with Section 26, of Philadelphia, of the International Workingmen's Association.

Warren was certainly not the only individualist anarchist who took an interest in the I. W. A., and participated to some extent in the activities of its American sections. William B. Greene has been the primary author of an Address of the Internationals, issued by Boston's French-speaking Section 1, and published by the Heywoods' Co-operative publishing Company. Various others, such as Joshua King Ingalls and Lewis Masquerier, are supposed to have been affiliated, and the faction around Victoria Woodhull and Stephen Pearl Andrews, pushing a typically andrusian mix of extreme individualism and integralist centralization, made enough of a nuisance of themselves that they were effectively purged from the International by Marx's faction even before he dealt with Bakunin. But Warren was not one of those conscious dialectical, or trialectical, or synthesist mutualists. At the end of his life, he showed no evidence that he had read Proudhon, bristling at the phrase "property is theft" like someone unacquainted with any of the subtleties involved. His aversion to connecting interests seems to have extended even to the various "reform leagues" organized by his fellow-radicals—organizations primarily characterized by their almost purely formal character.

Warren's brief romance with Section 26 began when this item appeared in Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly, in their regular "International" section:

The meeting of the American Federal Council on Sunday was well attended, and a vacancy was filled by the election of Thomas Lalor.

The following communication was received from Section 26 (American) in Philadelphia, Pa.:

At a meeting of Section No. 26, I. W. A., of Philadelphia, held June 16, 1837, was passed the following, by a unanimous vote, as declaratory of the views of the members of the Section touching the question of the fundamental basis of the body, and recommending their consideration to the Internationals everywhere; and in answer to the request of the American Federation, that we consider and act upon certain propositions submitted by the Corresponding Secretary of said body.

Declaration.—lst. That no movement can be permanently successful among progressive minds which stops short of a full and complete recognition of the entire liberty of the individual, so long as the action coming from such liberty trespasses upon neither the person or property of another.

2d. That the voluntary union and co-operation of the units of working bodies is the only sure and unobjectionable mode of attaining practical success, in the effort to establish the rightful position of the labor interest in the world, and thereby to secure the supremacy of production over capital.

3d. That the delegation of individual rights to men to perform other than assigned duties as agents is the fatal error from which has arisen all the tyranny of government, class-rule, and the subjugation of man the world over.

4th. That the practical observance of these principles is a sure guarantee against any and all internal dissentions, which more than all else have embarrassed the progressive movement of the age, and especially the organized bodies of workers in their efforts at emancipation.

5th. Earnestly hoping that for the future the industrial armies of the earth may move on the basis of inalienable right, and that we may practice that justice to each other we seek to establish everywhere, to the end that despotism under every name and in every climate may be extinguished, and that Liberty, Order, Justice and Truth may be enthroned in every heart, and gain a practical expression in all human relations, Section No. 26 most fraternally recommends the above as a basis of unity, which, while preserving the liberty of the individual, must tend to an efficient consolidation of the working bodies, and make us an irresistible power against all who seek the continuation of the enslavement.

Jesse B. Beune, President.

John Mills, Recording Secretary.

Isaac Rehn, Corres. Secretary.

By and with the advice of the members.

["The International," Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly," 6, 5 (July 5, 1873), 3.]

Warren, who was somewhat unsympathetic to at least some of the projects of Woodhull, Claflin, and Andrews, appears to have followed their paper anyway. Two weeks later, he wrote the following letter to the paper:

To Jesse B. Beune, John Mills, Isaac Rehn and other Members of Section 26, I. W. A. opf Philadelphia:

Ladies and Gentlemen—After having seen the decided defeat of every kind of organization which subordinates some persons to other persons through the interpretation of verbal formulas, I have for forty-five years persistently refrained from joining any organization whatever; but having just read your wise, simple and deep-reaching programme, I see that it is exempt from this fatal defect, and I wish to express my hearty sympathy with you and my readiness and desire to work with you according to my best judgment.

I should rather prefer to see the words after the word "world" (in your 2d article or section) omitted, as I don’t think that, you wish, any more than I do, to have it understood that we aim at subordinating capital to labor any more than we do the enslaving of labor by capital.

I should also be glad to see the word reputation inserted after the word “property” in the first section of our Declaration.

One other little item. Your programme, in my view, is entirely superior to that which has heretofore borne the same name, I should think a change of name almost a necessity.

With much sympathy and respect, yours,

Josiah Warren,

Princeton. Mass.

[Josiah Warren, [letter], Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly," 6, 7 (July 19, 1873), 13.]

It's not hard to see the elements of the communication which appealed to Warren. Apparently, he pursued the connection, or it was pursued by Sec. 26, with enough speed and seriousness that Warren quickly came to reevaluate his new allies. Less than a month later, another letter from Warren appeared, this time at the head of the "International" column, which led off the paper:

To Section No. 26 (American) of I. W. A. of Philadelphia:

Gentlemen—When I expressed my hearty concurrence in your views, I had in contemplation only what I had just read in the Weekly of July 5, particularly the 1st and 3d sections of your programme there announced; but by documents since received, I perceive that you propose measures and modes which, I regret to say, I cannot approve, and feel impelled to withdraw from connection with them.


Josiah Warren.

[Josiah Warren, [letter], Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly," 6, 10 (August 9, 1873), 3.]

And that, as they say, was pretty much that. Warren, who would live less than a year more, appeared a couple more times in the pages of the Weekly, in reprints from The Index, reports of his failing health, a rather backhanded obituary tribute by Andrews, and a more straightforward tribute in song. Woodhull and Claflin remained warm to him. The American I. W. A. conflict deepened. Andrews' comments were simply really just characteristic of his rather enormous ego. But at least one Internationalist, probably Joseph Treat, took umbrage at Warren's brief affiliation and subsequent defection.


Many of as have thought, for over twenty years, that friend Warren was running Individualism into the ground. We were only surprised that he lately gave in his adhesion to the International of Philadelphia, and now we are not surprised that he recants that act. He makes the mistake of supposing that it is against individualism to work with others. But I doubt that he is as individual as I, for I differ from all the Doctors, all the Scientists, supersede Universal Gravitation, have no Religion, no Conscience, believe in no Duty, but only in nature and pleasure, know there is no God nor Immortality, am satisfied and glad to go out, and can not love any one (much) who is not, thus all my life departing from, departed from,

Lone and lonely, all alone,

even till I have to pray, Let me go to the Future, Oh! let me go home: they will greet me there as their own, and I shall then be with the many and the strong!—and yet I am a Communist, an Absolute Communist, and know that Josiah Warren can never begin to be so Individual, standing alone, as be could and would be if he were member of a Community, for then, what every other one owned would be his, to enjoy, to use, to be greatened and Individualized by—the same piano which no man could purchase alone, would serve and satisfy twenty, as if each owned it exclusively. But even if friend Warren could own all things, standing apart, yet being himself in solitude, with nobody to act upon him, would be no Individualism at all, compared with being himself in Community, with everybody to act upon him—which is like a flash of lightning! I am a Communist to achieve that intense individualism.

J. T.

[J. T., "Josiah Warren's Mistake," Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly," 6, 11 (August 16, 1873), 15.]

We don't need to speculate much about the reasons why an "Absolute Communist" might have been ill-disposed towards Warren. The veteran radical had, just the year before, contributed an 11-part series to the Weekly, on "The Motive for Communism, and What It Led To." If J. T.'s claim that Warren was against working with others sounds a bit overblown—and it should—there is good evidence in those articles that Warren had come to think of "communism" in terms that were probably as frustrating as they were unflattering to its adherents.

[to be continued in the next number]

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Liberty Archive - update

The archive of Liberty is growing steadily. I passed the 1000-page mark today, which is about 1/3 of the run, in terms of actual pages; about 1/4 in terms of difficulty of scanning the material; and about 1/2 of the way in terms of the actual content of the paper. The response has been very encouraging. Wendy McElroy has offered her Index To Liberty as a means of wading into the archive in a more systematic manner, and it looks like we will be incorporating that index into the archive as it becomes more than just a pile of pdfs. I would encourage those who want to keep more thoroughly in touch with the progress of the archive to keep an eye on my Travelling in Liberty blog, and, once again, those who wish to participate in the project, even if just to kibitz, should get in touch with me, as I hope to launch the all-archivists list yet this evening.

Lysander Spooner petitions Congress, 1839

In the late 1830s, a young Lysander Spooner was involved in real estate speculation in the Maumee River basin of Ohio. In 1837, he purchased 80 acres along the Maumee, including the town of Gilead, now know as Grand Rapids. Charles Shively's biography tells some of the story of Spooner's adventures. Gilead was not ultimately destined to become the great trading city between Toledo and Fort Wayne. The effects of the Panic of '37, and plans by the State of Ohio to build a dam above Gilead, doomed Spooner's plans. But it appears that he continued to fight until at least early 1839, when he presented a memorial to the U. S. Senate, seeking rights to improve navigation in the region of the "grand rapids" of the Maumee.

Grand Rapids, Ohio, is about 10 miles down the road from the town where I currently live, so for me this is local history as well as anarchist biography. And this particular episode in Spooner's Ohio endeavors seems mostly undocumented. I'll have to see if the archive here at BGSU has any more pieces of the puzzle.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A musical tribute to SEK3, anyone?

My friends probably figure I'm the head of the fanclub by now, but really this is just too much fun.

We get some interesting contacts on the MySpace page for the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, but a few stand out. Check out The Konkin Experience. I'm not sure if the world is ready for agorist IDM, but there it is. Enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Left-libertarian archive task-force

I've just been contacted by a library student and market anarchist who is interested in joining forces on archiving public domain material from the market anarchist traditions. And I'm feeling like there is sufficient interest (based on the reception of the Lucifer and Liberty issues I have posted) to make some better organized and more accessible archive a present priority. A couple of folks here have expressed interest interest in helping with technical matters, hosting, scanning, kibitzing, etc. I'm probably going to set up a "task force" mailing list this weekend to start hashing out some kind of plan. If you're interested in participating, let me know. Otherwise, I'll keep folks posted through the usual channels as things come together.

Questions on anarchism and ecology, roughly. . .

Rough notes in response to this week's Carnival of Anarchy:

I had a rare chance to sit and talk with my father face to face a couple of weeks ago. He's a retired civil servant, who in a career with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service worked on a range of environmental issues from game management to endangered species recovery. We were talking about the weakening of endangered species protection and about the environmental damage likely to be done in the Rio Grande Valley by the immigration "fence," and he challenged me a bit about how anarchism of the individualist, market-centered variety could respond to problems that are really ecological in nature. While decentralization and individualization of interests may reduce environmental impacts in some ways, it is certainly not guaranteed to solve problems where a big-picture approach and some degree of coordination seem called for.

I'm sympathetic to the concern, however much talk of "coordination" rubs my individualism the wrong way, and however little faith I have in "resource management" on current governmental models. I don't think that any form of anarchism has really explained how it will deal with these sorts of problems. Primitivism seems like a denial of present realities at best, and at worst to harbor a nasty assumption that maybe the best thing to hope for is a massive human die-off. It probably is an anti-humanism in a way that even a good poststructuralist mutualist like myself can object to, in that primitivism seems to deny the ability of the human species to solve its own problems. I'm not for recklessly plunging ahead; there really do seem to be environmental crises facing us. But I'm guessing we can do better than a retreat to the "primitive." Bioregionalism still seems like not much more than a slogan in anarchist circles. Market-anarchist denials of the need to concern ourselves too much, since presumably the market will sort things out, don't convince me much. There's just too much we don't have a clear picture of. We don't know what we're losing with the loss of biodiversity, except in a general (generally disturbing) sense. Maybe global climate change is significantly impacted by human factors, and maybe not. The difficulties in that debate shouldn't blind us to all the ways in which human action obviously is shaping our enviroment.

So many cans, full of so many worms. I don't want to deal with much of that mess right now. I don't have answers, and I'm guessing you don't either. I do, however, have a few questions which strike me, right now, as of some interest.

On the leftlibertarian2 list, in another context, J. Neil Schulman raised the question of how individualists are to behave as individualists in the midst of conflicts, like the "war on terror," where the actors seem to be collectivities, particularly where actors seem to be immersing their identities in these collective entities. It seems to me that, for individualists, it's no easy task, but that, for individualists, there also isn't any escape hatch. If we're committed to the principles of individual liberty and responsibility, then we just have to do the best we can to uphold in individualist ethics, and this is perhaps most important where it is most difficult.

In the context of some writing I have been doing on mutualist economic theory, something like this same question resurfaced, and my answer, which had seemed relatively simple in the first context, came back to haunt me. The notion of the individual is not necessarily simple in mutualist theory. The mutualist agnosticism about property begins with some thorny questions about he degree to which the self is separable from other selves, from solidarity. William B. Greene wrote persuasively about what we might now call the social construction of the self, and borrowed from Pierre Leroux the notion that life itself involved relations with others. But the essentially prosthetic theory of property in Locke had already complicated the notion of the inside and the outside of the self in ways that we might not be faulted for considering ecological, even if the treatment of nature as "the passive element" in much liberal and libertarian property theory does not exactly lend itself to environmental concern. Anyway. . .

The question I've been wrestling with is this: how, given the involvement of the individual in complex, far-flung economic and social networks, is it possible to act as an individual in an ecological sense? What would than entail? Individualists who wish to act only at their own cost can't stop exploring the costs when they find their "footprint" extends, in however dispersed a fashion, over the horizon. Michel Serres, in The Natural Contract, has asserted that human beings now act upon the planet in the form of a collective actor, call it Humanity, and that this has forced upon us the question of the rights, if there are any, of an-other, Nature or Environment, equally unsatisfactory from the perspective of libertarian philosophy, but perhaps equally real in its impacts.

It is a point of pride among individualist anarchists not to be "collectivist," not to allow oneself to be submerged in mass-actors, to be driven by abstractions and spooks. But it isn't always clear how, from this perspective, we account for those parts of our individualities that are at the very least strongly conditioned by external actors and forces, by others human and nonhuman, abstract and concrete. We're not so good at accounting for our social contexts, for solidarity, for ecology. But unless these notions are simply fictions, our ideological and ethical commitments seem to call for some serious engagement with these broadly ecological concerns.

I hope to return to these questions soonish...

Monday, June 18, 2007

"In the Libertarian Labyrinth" now on anarchoblogs

I'm pleased to report that In the Libertarian Labyrinth is now among the feeds on anarchoblogs, a nice aggregator site featuring more conventionally leftish anarchist blogs. We're working out some feed incompatibility issues, but it's nice to be on board. Nice to see a range of familiar faces as well, from Rad Geek to Chuck0 and Aragorn.

Half a hundred Libertys

I stole a couple of hours today to work on the pdf archive of Liberty. No indexes, bells, or whistles yet, but the first fifty issues are now there for your enjoyment and edification.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Swartz and Bailie on Warren

When William Bailie's Josiah Warren, the First American Anarchist was released in 1906, it was the occasion for others of the Liberty group to comment on Warren's legacy. Clarence Lee Swartz, best known for What Is Mutualism?, was the most prominent commentator, contributing three articles in a short period of time, including a review of Bailie's biography which includes some very interesting biographical details itself.Bailie had also contributed a chapter on Warren to George B. Lockwood's The New Harmony Movement in 1905.

More Lucifer, plus some Liberty

Thanks to Jesse Walker at Reason Hit & Run and the folks at boing boing for making my rather off-hand announcement of the budding Lucifer the Light-Bearer archive something of a hit in the blogosphere. Apparently the interest is out there, so I've been adding to the archived issues as time allows: 52 down, and only 1057 issues to go!

I've also begun an archive of Benjamin R. Tucker's Liberty in pdf form, scanning from John Zube's microfilm edition. Again, the quality is not perfect, and in some cases is not even particularly good, but hopefully I can put something together to tide folks over until we can arrange a better quality archive. This one will at least be complete, which is more than can be said for at least one of the commercial collections of the paper. You can find text for some of these early issues at Travelling in Liberty. I will be resuming that project shortly, probably with a transcription of John Zube's contents listing and a proposal for a more collaborative approach to the study which I've begun.

With both collections, if you are having trouble reading text make use of the magnification features in your pdf viewer. All of these issues have been scanned at at least 400dpi resolution. As always, if others are interested in helping with scanning or transcription, please let me know. This is our heritage, and the archive of many of the previous attempts to grapple with our basic problems. A comprehensive archive of these old debates might be among the best aids to better quality is our present ones.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Left-Libertarian Library Proposal

I'm in the midst of putting together a first-stage proposal for a digital library of left-libertarian and related material, a more "walkable" version of my Libertarian Labyrinth. I would be interested in input at this stage from folks who see themselves using, or perhaps contributing to, such an archive. For those unfamiliar with my general archiving project, I've been amassing public domain anarchist texts, with a heavy emphasis on William B. Greene and the mutualist tradition, in the Labyrinth archive and at the From the Libertarian Library blog. My collection strategy has been to ignore questions of ideological purity and orthodoxy as much as practicable, and follow connections from work to work, building contexts and, hopefully, some fuller picture of just what it is we inherit when we claim connection to the anarchist and libertarian movements. I've experimented with document formats, index types, hyperlinking strategies, and the like. I feel like I have probably taken the ad hoc organization of the current archive+blogs arrangement about as far as it will usefully go, and am now looking at the transition to a standardized archive, probably using the Greenstone Digital Library Software.

My goals for that next phase are to:
  • promote knowledge of broadly "left-libertarian" traditions
  • preserve scarce texts, images, etc in digital form
  • encode the material in formats likely to survive changes in standards and technology
  • provide tools for full text search
  • provide hypertext links so that, for example, debates can be followed from source to source
  • provide annotation and commentary
  • generate texts which can be easily published in print
  • generate resources which can easily be incorporated into self-study courses, etc
  • facilitate new translations of untranslated work
  • produce, encourage, and/or host works demonstrating the usefulness of digital archives
  • produce a digital library of a quality sufficient to enter into partnership with other institutions to further the above goals
I'm imagining combining a standards-compliant upgrade of the archive I'm already compiling, together with the construction of a "virtual library" of links to other resources, with the whole thing available both online and on CD-ROM. I'm exploring software options for related projects: MediaWiki for cooperative translation work; self-study software; etc.

Initially, the collections in the new library would probably be those already underway:
  • works by and about William B. Greene
  • works by and about Joshua King Ingalls
  • works related to the land bank and mutual bank movements
  • a Josiah Warren archive (in cooperation with Crispin Sartwell's project)
  • an archive of articles from Benjamin R. Tucker's Liberty and Radical Review
I would also love to hear from folks about their preferences and priorities, with regard to which public domain materials they consider most important to archive.

This is a long-term project, which I will pursue as time and other factors allow, but it is one to which I am entirely committed. Let me know how I can develop the most useful resource possible.

Friday, June 08, 2007

A Taste of Lucifer

Lucifer the Lightbearer, aside from having one of the more provocative and wonderful names ever, was an important anarchist newspaper. Originally the Kansas Liberal of Valley Falls, and eventually the American Journal of Eugenics, it was, throughout its incarnations, it was concerned with marital and sexual freedom, as well as more strictly political aspects of anarchism.

I have made a number of issues available in scanned pdf form. [Now in a new location in the Libertarian Labyrinth library catalog. There's a nice batch at] They are unlovely, multi-generation reproductions, but scanned at a resolution where they are at least usable. Dana Ward's Anarchy Archives also includes some transcriptions from Lucifer.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BLL: My, how we've grown!

KN@PPSTER recently updated the roster of the Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left (BLL), and it's a pretty impressive update indeed! There's lots of diversity of opinion here. Everyone should be able to find something to both please and appall them. Here's the list, for you to explore, post on your own site, etc.

I should also mention once again the blog aggregator at, which has gone straight to the top of my Most Frequently Visited list. Aside from syndicating a collection of very good blogs, it provides a linkroll of other articles tagged for their left-libertarian appeal.

  1. Blogosphere of the Libertarian Left Home
  2. Austro-Athenian Empire
  3. The Osterley Times
  4. Leave Us Alone!
  5. Free Association
  6. Freeman's Journal
  7. CLASSical Liberalism
  8. A Pox On All Their Houses
  9. Eternal Vigilance
  10. Anarcho Akbar
  12. Fairly Informed
  13. freeman, libertarian critter
  14. out of step
  15. The Porcupine
  16. After:All
  17. Independent Country
  18. Just Things
  19. How the NeoCons Stole Freedom
  20. karmalised
  21. Into the Libertarian Labyrinth
  22. To the Black Rose upon the Rood of Time
  23. Mutualist Blog: Free Market Anti-Capitalism
  24. the view from below
  25. Upaya: Skillful Means to Liberation
  26. ACLJew
  27. Freedom Democrats
  28. Presto's Ramblings
  29. Against The State
  30. Le Revue Gauche
  31. Crash Landing
  32. Scottish Nous
  33. Tor's Rants
  34. Joel's Humanistic Blog
  35. Rational Review
  36. Titanium Thoughts
  37. Liberated Space
  39. James Landrith is...Taking The Gloves Off
  40. Life, Love, and Liberty
  41. Little Red Blogger
  42. Devizes Melting Pot
  43. Black Guile
  44. The Liberator
  45. Bully Pulpit
  46. Something Different
  47. progressive voice of the pacific northwest
  48. shagya blog
  49. Carnival of Anarchy
  50. A Writer Gone Sane
  51. Travelling in Liberty
  52. The Thing Itself is the Abuse!
  53. Decentralist
  54. freeman's NO POLITICS
  55. The Minimum Wage Philosopher
  56. insultadarity
  57. eyeofthestorm
  58. The Jeffersonian Libertarian
  59. theConverted
  60. Liberal Values
  61. Dreaming Neon Black
  62. The Liberator Reloaded
  63. the 50 percent
  64. Revolt Today
  65. One Tenacious Baby Mama
  66. Anarchist Philosophy Blog
  67. Writings of J. Todd Ring
  68. Rottrådar & grönröd politik idag
  69. Iamcuriousblue
  70. Love and Terrorism