Sunday, April 27, 2008

Around the blogosphere

Check out Exploring American Anarchism and Herzschlag, for good anarchist material from some folks I know "in real life." And shout-outs as well to agorists Royce Christian, of The Guerrilla Capitalist, and Niccolo Adami, of The Kingdom of God is Within You. Last but certainly not least, "Anarcho" finally has a blog.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Unfinished business of Liberty

Benjamin Tucker, like a lot of us, took on a lot of projects, not all of which came to fruition. His "Proudhon Library" and the pamphlet version of Bellegarrigue's "Anarchy: Journal of Order" are among those announced, but never completed. In some other cases, what Tucker translated from his wide reading of libertarian literature was just the tip of the iceberg, where fascinating material was concerned.

It will take some time before anything like the "Proudhon Library" is possible, but one of the reasons for pursuing the updated Libertarian Labyrinth is precisely to pursue those kinds of projects. And some of the smaller tasks are decidedly doable. I'm working away at the remaining chapters of Bellegarrigue's journal, and am on the track of four more "Socialistic Letters" by Ernest Lesigne. Tucker translated six of the letters, including the oft-cited discussion of "two socialisms." I have added the first five of those to the archive, and may yet finish with the sixth tonight. All are very interesting reading. Lesigne was a consistent and articulate proponent of individualist anarchism. Look, in particular, for his predictions about the decentralization of production in the fifth letter:
During the last thirty years or more, but since Karl Marx constructed his conclusions, they have been inventing little motors, little tools which will deliver the victims of the mechanical monster; the little industry of the artisan, for a moment thrown into confusion is being reorganized; the machine is becoming democratic, portable, convenient, cheap, accessible, and shows its superiority over the monsters of the great factory in that it can wait without suffering at times when there is no work; it no longer holds the laborer at its disposition, it is becoming at the disposition of man.

In a near future all laborers, even the proletaires of today, each one by himself or in small groups of associates, will have their own machines, their own tools and the desert will be in the industrial fortresses of today, around the high chimneys extinct, between the walls become lamentable. The sons of the aristocracy of iron and silver will work for a living,—which will not be a great calamity,—and historians will relate how the industrious people recovered their liberty, compromised for an instant by the infancy of machinery and the first spread of industrialism.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"Les Révolutions du XIXe siècle"

A lot of my work right now is sifting through archives, trying to gather together links to the works of various key socialist writers: Proudhon, Leroux, Colins, Considerant, Fourier, Briancourt, Ott, etc., etc. Some of the sifting is easy: all 47(!) volumes of the Oeuvres de Saint-Simon et d'Enfantin are available at Gallica. In other cases, it's a matter of sorting through the rubble at Google Books. Of course, the difficulties involved mean that my searches have been a bit more inclusive than they might otherwise be, and that has paid some handsome dividends. For example:

Les Révolutions du XIXe siècle: 44 volumes of rare pamphlets from various French radical movements, 1830-1872, 43 of which are available for download ("Télécharger") from Gallica. The material is, of course, all in French, but at least it is available. While looking for the one missing volume, I also ran across the newspaper, La Révolution démocratique et sociale (1848-9), much of which is available to download, which features an extended polemic between the editors and Proudhon, along with some interventions by Colins.

A new sidebar feature on this blog should show the most recent articles added to the Libertarian Labyrinth, which is starting to shape up fairly nicely, though there is still a lot of text-editing to do before the "grand opening" in July.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

LeftLiberty: Proudhon on individualism and socialism

Bits of progress on LeftLiberty, including tweaks to the logo, the beginnings of a website and some responses to my call for contributions. I've been working to get the wiki archive working smoothly, with prettier urls and interwiki linking with the Distributive Passions site. The material for the "classics" section looks like it will include works by Proudhon, Leroux, Bastiat, Molinari, Tucker, and several others. In the early works, there is a lot of belligerent agreement that a simple opposition between "individualism" and "socialism" doesn't quite get the work done. Here's a bit of a letter from Proudhon:

Paris, January 24, 1856.


In my Contradictions, I scoffed equally at the Socialist and the Economists; since 1848, I have affirmed Socialism. That variance preoccupies you, and you ask for an explanation.

Every word in a language is subject to meanings that are very different, even sometimes opposed.

By Socialism, do you mean the philosophy which teaches the theory of society or the social science? I affirm that Socialism.

Do you want to designate, not the philosophy or the science, but the school, the sect, or the party which admits that science, believes it possible and searches for it? I am of that opinion. It is in that sense that the Peuple and Représentant du peuple in 1848, were two organs of Socialism.

Even today, I strongly profess my belief in Socialism, and more than ever believe in its triumph.

But, in the economic discussions, it happens that one calls Socialism the theory which tends to sacrifice individual rights to the social, as one calls Individualism the theory which tends to sacrifice society to the individual. In that case, I deny Socialism and Individualism alike; in this, I only follow the example of Pierre Leroux, who, for all that he, like me, declared himself a Socialist in 1848, has none the less combatted Socialism in his books, and demanded the individual prerogative.

from Correspondence, V. 7

Friday, April 04, 2008

LeftLiberty 1-2: Individualism, Socialism, and Solidarity

Starting in July, I'll be producing a new journal/zine, called "LeftLiberty," and dedicated to "the left-libertarian conversation in all its phases and ages." It's connected to the project of the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and focuses on clarifying what is really at stake in some of the messier debates in the broad anarchist movement.

Issues will be arranged around key concepts with the first two issues addressing "Individualism, Socialism, and Solidarity." I'm finishing up a translation of Pierre Leroux's 1834 "Individualism and Socialism" for the first issue, which will also include a "miscellany" of early anarchist texts on individualism and socialism, from Proudhon, Dejacque, Greene, Tucker, Warren, and others.

But one of the goals is to also canvas contemporary anarchists, libertarians and fellow-travellers for their thoughts on these concepts, in order to get a picture of the actual "state of the debates." With that in mind, I'm throwing out a general call for answers to these questions:

* What is "socialism"?
* What is "individualism"?
* What is "solidarity"?
* What role, if any, do these concepts have in anarchism?

I'll try to stitch together an overview from the contributions, and will credit everyone who responds. All contributions will appear in the electronic version of the issue, in the new wiki-based "Labyrinth" archive. The print version will include representative excerpts.

More details at the "Labyrinth."

Thanks in advance to all contributors.

libertatialabs at yahoo dot com