Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Corvus Editions/research polls

If you look at the side-bar of the blog, you'll find a poll, asking for input on what sorts of materials I should be giving priority in the Corvus Editions project. I've been running a similar poll on Facebook, but would like input from a broader audience. So far, translations seem to be the priority for my FB readers, and my own sense is that translations will continue to be a central focus of the project, so I've added another poll, directly below the first, about translation priorities.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Fundamental Principles of Socialism (1849)

Here's another translation from the work of Proudhon's associate, C.-F Chevé, the statement of principles from Le Socialiste : journal de l'égal-échange [The Socialist: Journal of Equal-Exchange], which he co-edited. This is taken from the first issue, July 1849. Some differences with Proudhon's position will be immediately obvious, not the least of which is his tendency to use "anarchy" in the sense of disorder (although, to be fair, Proudhon and nearly all the anarchists of his generation also did this from time to time.) This "general account" is actually fairly lengthy, and was serialized over multiple issues. I've provided this first section as an introduction, and will post additional sections as I finish them.

General account of the doctrines of

The Socialist

I.

FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OF SOCIALISM.

We are socialists.

That is to say that we do not want the present society because it is the expression of disorder and anarchy raised to their highest power.

Anarchy exists in contemporary society; for human sentiments, penchants, and faculties are in a state of constant antagonism and war.

Anarchy exists in contemporary society; for beliefs, ideas, opinions, and doctrines are in a permanent state of war and hostility.

Anarchy exists in contemporary society; for the wills, the personalities and all the manifestations of human activity and labor clash, combat and do their best to kill each other in a duel to the death, in a struggle without respite and without limits.

The war of man against man in all its aspects; inevitable, inexorable; war everywhere, for all, and always; war for the sake of war: that is our society. It can be depicted in a single word; it is permanent anarchy.

In the face of permanent anarchy, socialism comes to posit the principle of order.

Its name alone indicates it, for it is derived from socio, I associate: it comes to unite that which is divided.

The present society cannot persist, for it is written: "A kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or house that is divided against itself cannot survive." Socialism comes to save society by give it unity through liberty.

Socialism takes man at his root; and it posits as a basis the right to live by the right to labor.
 
The life of man is at once moral, intellectual and physical. The right to live is thus the right to sustain and to develop all the faculties of his heart, of his intelligence and of his will, as well as to nourish and preserve his body.

From this the right to a triple labor, at once moral, intellectual and physical destined to satisfy all the needs of these three aspects of his life.

The aim of socialism is thus the organization of labor, moral, intellectual and physical.

Man being mind and body, that organization must have, like him, two distinct parts; that relating to the mind, which is the spiritual order; that relating to the body, which is the temporal order. But just as man is simultaneously, at one and the same time body and mind in an undivided manner, so the temporal and spiritual orders can only be two parts of the same whole, which is the social order.

The right to labor is the right to the instrument of labor, in other words the right to free and reciprocal credit, to the free exchange on an equal footing of all the products of the physical, intellectual and moral world, for all are reciprocally instruments of labor.

Now, we can realize equal-exchange in the physical order only by the abolition of rent, which, by furnishing to each, without any interest or deduction, all the instruments of production, organizes thus the right to existence and the right to labor.

We can realize equal-exchange in the intellectual order only by the method of the identity of opposites which reconciles all ideas, all doctrines, or rather exchanges against one another, by showing that they are reciprocally only the points of view, the diverse terms, of one sole and single idea, identical everywhere beneath the infinite diversity of its modes.

We can realize equal-exchange in the moral order only by the practice of charity or universal love by which all beings living in the others, by the others and for the others, exchanging, in a way, even their will, even their personality, in order to be only one single mind in a single body.

We will lay out successively these three forms of equal-exchange in the physical, intellectual and moral orders, by taking for criterion, for rule of certainty, the facts, the assessment of sentiments by acts, of ideas by works, practical reason, in a word, and by conforming invariably to the evangelical precept: "Judge the tree by its fruits."

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Proudhon, What is Government? What is God?

Proudhon's essay "What is Government? What is God?" appeared first in the Voix du Peuple, November 5, 1849, then as the preface to The Confessions of a Revolutionary, as well as in the Melanges volumes of the Lacroix collected works. It was the occasion for one of the more important responses by Pierre Leroux—a response which seems to have influenced William Batchelder Greene.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Maxime Leroy, Stirner vs. Proudhon (1905)

I've posted a working translation of Maxime Leroy's essay,  "Stirner vs. Proudhon," which originally appeared in 1905 in La Renaissance latine. The essay is really not much about Proudhon, and is perhaps ambivalent in its approach to Stirner, but it is certainly interesting enough to have been worth the work.

Octave Mirbeau, Preface to Moribund Society and Anarchy

Voltairine de Cleyre translated Jean Grave's Moribund Society and Anarchy (1899; first published in French in 1893 as La Société mourante et l'Anarchie), though she admitted she was not in complete agreement with it.

"As to the principal object of the work," she said in her Preface, "that of furnishing an inclusive criticism of the institutions of our moribund society and the necessity of its speedy dissolution, I think any fair-minded reader will be convinced that it has been pretty thoroughly done. As to the “What next?” it is far less certain. With this, however, Jean Grave,—sturdy, patient, indomitable Jean Grave, sitting today in his fifth-floor Parisian garret, untouched by his imprisonment, convinced as ever, steadily writing, writing to the workers of the world, casting forth images of the “Future Society,”—would not agree. He is sure of his remedy—Communism; I, of his criticism, Anarchy."

I have a similar response to Grave's work, but my admiration for the critical elements of the work have made Moribund Society something of a priority for a Corvus reprint edition. For various reasons, I hadn't got around to completely preparing the text until last night—when, while constructing the table of contents, I noticed that the original preface by Octave Mirbeau, had not been included in the translated edition. A quick skim made it clear that it was worth the time to work through, and here's a working translation (which I'll probably give a week or so of tinkering before I get back to printing and binding the work.)

PREFACE
[to Jean Grave,  Moribund Society and Anarchy]

I have a friend who shows a strong desire, a truly touching desire, to understand things. Naturally, he aspires to that which is simple, great and beautiful. But his education, fouled with the prejudices and lies inherent in all the education called "higher," almost always stops him in his dash towards spiritual deliverance. He would like to free himself completely from traditional ideas, from the ancient routines where his mind is bogged down, despite himself, but he cannot. Often, he comes to see me and we have long talks. The doctrines of anarchism, so maligned by some, so misunderstood by others, greatly concern him; and his honesty is great enough, if not to embrace them all, at least to understand them. He does not believe, as so many people believe in his circles, that those doctrines consist solely in blowing up houses. He glimpses, on the contrary, in a fog that will perhaps dissipate, some beauties and harmonic forms; and he takes an interest in them as we do in a thing that we like, but which seems still a bit terrible to us, and which we dread because we do not understand it well.

My friend has read the admirable books of Kropotkin, and the eloquent, fervent and wise protestations of Elisée Reclus, against the impiety of governments and societies based on crime. Of Bakunin, he knows what the anarchist journals, here and there, have published. He has labored through the uneven Proudhon and the aristocratic Spencer. And recently, the declarations of Etiévant have moved him. All of that sweeps him along, for a moment, toward those heights where the intelligence is purified. But from those brief excursions through the realm of the ideal, he returns more troubled than ever. A thousand obstacles, purely subjective, detain him; he loses himself in an infinity of ifs, ands and buts, an inextricable forest, from which he sometimes asks me to extricate him.

Just yesterday, he confided in me the torment of his soul, and I said to him:

— Grave, whose judicious and manly spirit you know, is going to publish a book: Moribund Society and Anarchy. This book is a masterpiece of logic. It is full of light. This book is not the cry of a blind and narrow-minded sectarian; nor is it the tom-tom beat of an ambitious propagandist; it is the considered, reflective, reasoned work of one who is passionate, it is true, of one "who has faith," but who knows, compares, questions, analyzes, and who, with a singular lucidity of critique, glides among the facts of social history, the lessons of science, the problems of philosophy, in order to reach those infrangible conclusions of which you are aware, and of which you can deny neither the greatness nor the justice.

My friend sharply interrupted me:

— I deny nothing... I understand, indeed, that Grave, whose ardent campaigns I have followed in La Révolte, dreams of the suppression of the State, for example. Myself, I do not have all his boldness, but I dream of it too. The State bears down on the individual with a weight that is greater, more intolerable each day. Of the man it unnerves and exhausts, it makes only a bundle of flesh to tax. His sole mission is to live for it, as a louse lives on the beast on which it has fixed its suckers. The State takes from the man his money, pitifully acquired in this prison: work; it filches from him at every minute his liberty, already shackled by the laws; from his birth, it kills his individual and administrative faculties, or it distorts them, which amounts to the same thing. Assassin and thief—yes, I am convinced that the State is indeed this sort of double criminal. As soon as a man walks, the State breaks his legs; as soon as he stretches out his arms, the State busts them; as soon as he dares think, the State takes his head, and tells him: "Walk, take, and think."

— Well? said I.

My friend continued:

— Anarchy, on the contrary, is the winning back of the individual, it is liberty of development for the individual, in a normal and harmonic sense. We can define it, in short, as the spontaneous utilization of all the human energies, criminally squandered by the State! I know that... and understand why all sorts of young artists and thinkers, — the contemporary elite — look forward impatiently to rising to that long-awaited dawn, where they glimpse not only an ideal of justice, but an ideal of beauty.

— Well? said I anew.

— Well, one thing concerns and troubles me, the terrorist side of Anarchy. I detest violent means; I have a horror of blood and death, and I want anarchy to await its triumph from the coming justice alone.

— Do you believe then, I replied, that the anarchists are drinkers of blood? Don't you feel, on the contrary, all the immense tenderness, the immense love of life, with which the heart of a Kropotkin swells. Alas! Those are struggles inseparable from all human struggles, and against which we can do nothing... So!... do you want me to give you a classical comparison? The earth is parched; all the little plants, all the little flowers are burned by a blazing, by a persistent, deadly sun; they blanch, wilt, and they will die... But then a single cloud darkens the horizon, it advances and covers the blazing sky. Lightning and thunder burst forth, and the waters stream over the shaken earth. What matter if the lightning has broken, here and there, an oak grown too tall, if the little plants that would have died, the little plants watered and refreshed, straighten their stems, and again raise their flowers in the newly calm air?... We should not, you see, be moved too much by the death of the ravenous oaks... Read Grave’s book... Grave has said, in this regard, some excellent things. And if, after having read this book, where so many ideas are turned over and clarified, if after having thought through it, as befits a work of such intellectual stature, you cannot manage to reach a stable and calm opinion, you would be better off, I warn you, to give up becoming the anarchist that you want to be, and remain the good bourgeois, the inveterate and hopeless bourgeois, the bourgeois “despite himself,” that perhaps you are. . .

OCTAVE MIRBEAU. 

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

The Manifesto of the Sixteen (1916)

[Here is a translation of the controversial "Manifesto of the Sixteen," the document issued by Peter Kropotkin, Jean Grave and others, advocating support for the Allies and opposition to Germany in World War I. I had promised this to members of the Anarchist Task Force on Wikipedia quite awhile back, to go with their article on the Manifesto.]

The Manifesto of the Sixteen

From various sides, voices are raised to demand immediate peace. There has been enough bloodshed, they say, enough destruction, and it is time to finish things, one way or another. More than anyone, and for a long time, we and our journals have been against every war of aggression between peoples, and against militarism, no matter what uniform, imperial or republican, it dons. So we would be delighted to see the conditions of peace discussed—if that was possible—by the European workers, gathered in an international congress. Especially since the German people let itself be deceived in August 1914, and if they really believed that they mobilized for the defense of their territory, they have since had time to realize that they were wrong to embark on a war of conquest.

Indeed, the German workers, at least in their more or less advanced associations, must understand now that the plans for the invasion of France, Belgium, and Russia had long been prepared and that, if that war did not erupt in 1875, 1886, 1911, or in 1913, it was because international relations did not present themselves then as favorably, and because the military preparations were not sufficiently complete to promise victory to Germany. (There were strategic lines to complete, the Kiel canal to expand, and the great siege guns to perfect). And now, after twenty months of war and dreadful losses, they should realize that the conquests made by the German army cannot be maintained, especially as they must recognize the principle (already recognized by France in 1859, after the defeat of Austria) that it is the population of each territory which must express its consent with regard to annexation.

If the German workers began to understand the situation as we understand it, and as it is already understood by a weak minority of their social-democrats—and if they could make themselves heard by their government—there could be common ground for beginning discussions about peace. But then they should declare that they absolutely refuse to make annexations, or to approve them; that they renounce the claim to collect “contributions” from the invaded nations, that they recognize the duty of the German state to repair, as much as possible, the material damages caused by its invasion of neighboring states, and that they do not purport to impose conditions of economic subjection, under the name of commercial treaties. Sadly, we do not see, thus far, symptoms of an awakening, in this sense, of the German people.

Some have spoken of the conference of Zimmerwald, but that conference lacked the essential element: the representation of the German workers. Much has been made of the case of some riots which have taken place in Germany, because of the high cost of food. But we forget that such events have always taken place during the great wars, without influencing their duration. Also, all the arrangements made, at this moment, by the German government, prove that it is preparing new aggressions at the return of spring. But as it knows also that in the spring the Allies will oppose it with new armies, fitted out with new equipment, and with an artillery much more powerful that before, it also works to sow discord within the allied populations. And it employs for this purpose a means as old as war itself: that of spreading the rumor of an imminent peace, to which, among the adversaries, only the military and the suppliers of the armies are opposed. This is what Bülow, with his secretaries, was up to during his last stay in Switzerland.

But under what conditions does he suggest the peace be concluded?

The Neue Zuercher Zeitung believes it knows—and the official journal, the Nord-deutsche Zeitung does not contradict it—that the majority of Belgium will be evacuated, but on the condition of giving pledges that it will not repeat what it did in August 1914, when it opposed the passage of German troops. What will these pledges be? The Belgian coal mines? The Congo? No one is saying. But a large annual contribution is already demanded. The territory conquered in France will be restored, as well as the part of Lorraine where French is spoken. But in exchange, France will transfer to the German state all the Russian loans, the value of which amounts to eighteen billions. That is a contribution of eighteen billion that the French agricultural and industrial workers will have to repay, since they are the ones who pay the taxes. Eighteen billion to buy back ten departments, which, by their labor, they have made so rich and opulent, but which will been returned to them ruined and devastated.

As to what is thought in Germany of the conditions of the peace, one fact is certain: the bourgeois press prepares the nation for the idea of the pure and simple annexation of Belgium and of the departments in the north of France. And, there is not, in Germany, any force capable of opposing it. The workers who should have been raising their voices against the conquest, do not do it. The unionized workers let themselves be led by the imperialist fever, and the social-democratic party, too weak to influence the decisions of the government concerning the peace—even if it represented a compact mass—finds itself divided, on that question, into two hostile parties, and the majority of the party marches with the government. The German empire, knowing that its armies have been, for eighteen months, 90 km from Paris, and supported by the German people in its dreams of new conquests, does not see why it should not profit from conquests already made. It believes itself capable of dictating conditions of peace that will enable it to use the new billions in contributions for new armaments, in order to attack France when it sees fit, to take its colonies, as well as other provinces, and no longer have to fear its resistance.

To speak of peace at this moment, it precisely to play the game of the German ministerial party, of Bülow and his agents. For our part, we absolutely refuse to share the illusions of some of our comrades concerning the peaceful dispositions of those who direct the destinies of Germany. We would prefer to look the danger in its face and seek what we can do to ward it off. To ignore this danger would be to increase it.

We have been deeply conscience that German aggression was a threat—a threat now carried out—not only against our hopes for emancipation, but against all human evolution. That is why we, anarchists, anti-militarists, enemies of war, passionate partisans of peace and the fraternity of peoples, are ranged on the side of the resistance, and why we have not felt obliged to separate our fate from that of the rest of the population. We don't believe it necessary to insist that we would have preferred to see that population take the care for its defense in its own hands. This having been impossible, there was nothing but to suffer that which could not be changed. And with those who fight we reckon that, unless the German population, coming back to the sanest notions of justice and of right, finally refuses to serve any longer as an instrument of the projects of pan-German political domination, there can be no question of peace. Without doubt, despite the war, despite the murders, we do not forget that we are internationalists, that we want the union of peoples and the disappearance of borders. But it is because we want the reconciliation of peoples, including the German people, that we think that they must resist an aggressor who represents the destruction of all our hopes of liberation.

To speak of peace while the party who, for forty-five years, have made Europe a vast, entrenched camp, is able to dictate its conditions, would be the most disastrous error that we could commit. To resist and to bring down its plans, is to prepare the way for the German population which remains sane and to give it the means to rid itself of that party. Let our German comrades understand that this is the only outcome advantageous to both sides and we are ready to collaborate with them.

28 February 1916

Pressed by events to publish this declaration, when it was communicated to the French and foreign press, only fifteen comrades, whose names follow, had approved the text of it: Christian Cornelissen, Henri Fuss, Jean Grave, Jacques Guérin, Pierre Kropotkine, A. Laisant. F. Le Lève (Lorient), Charles Malato, Jules Moineau (Liège), A. Orfila, Hussein Dey (Algérie), M. Pierrot, Paul Reclus, Richard (Algeria), Tchikawa (Japan), W. Tcherkesoff.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised 3/22/2012] 

Monday, May 16, 2011

From "L'Opinion des Femmes," August 1848

These two short articles by Désirée Gay (Jeanne Desirée Véret Gay, 1810-1891) appeared in the August 1848 issue of L'Opinion des Femmes, which seems to have been a kind of testing of the waters before the launch of the official "First Year" of the paper. That issue had been preceded by a 4-page "Prospectus," written by Jeanne Deroin, and the paper was essentially a continuation of La Politique des Femmes, but there was still a certain amount of work to do setting the tone for the project, and Gay seems to have taken on much of that work in the one issue that appeared in 1848. These two pieces are particularly interesting because they give us a clear sense of how Gay and Deroin understood their relation to the broader radical movement, and to Proudhon, whose increasingly hostile relations with Deroin and other socialist feminists would be documented in the paper.

--------

Socialism

It is the modern Proteus.—It is the hydra with innumerable heads.—You fall upon the communists!—Socialism rises up behind you in another form.—Socialism is the crucible into which all those touched by misery inevitably fall, one by one.—Socialism, which a few years ago was the meeting of several systems, is today a militant army, peaceful in its spirit, but marching with the blind force of the providential legions, which have at all times led the people towards their new destinies! — Désirée Gay

The Malthusians.

As women and as Christians, we embrace with all our hearts the opinions expressed by M. Proudhon, against the system of Malthus; we have seen, not without pain, over the last few years, Miss Martineau and several intelligent women of England, declare themselves partisans of a doctrine that simple and honest spirits reject as immoral and anti-religious. — Désirée Gay

-----

For those who know even the outlines of the subsequent battles, this phrase—"As women and as Christians, we embrace with all our hearts the opinions expressed by M. Proudhon..."—is as priceless as it is perhaps unexpected. But the truth is that socialist feminists were among Proudhon's most ardent defenders early on, and remained active on the practical side of mutualism long after his death.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

L'Opinion des Femmes, 1848-1849

The letter from Jeanne Deroin to Proudhon that I just posted appeared in French in L'Opinion de Femmes, a radical feminist journal edited by Deroin and Désirée Gay. The entire run of the paper can be found at Gallica, tucked away in one of the volumes of Les Révolutions du XIXe Siècle. L'Opinion des Femmes is great stuff, with material by Deroin, Gay, Jean Macé, C. F. Chevé, and "Jeanne Marie" (probably Jeanne-Marie-Fabienne Poinsard, aka Jenny d'Héricourt.) The beginnings of the feud between Deroin and Proudhon is documented.

Expect to see a lot of translations from this paper over the next year or so.

Jeanne Deroin to Proudhon, January 1849

[Jeanne Deroin. "Lettre a M. Proudhon." L'Opinion des Femmes. No. 1, Year 1. January 28, 1849.]

Letter to Proudhon.

Monsieur,

I know that, preoccupied most especially with questions of political economy, you have not accepted all the consequences of the principles on which our social future rests.

You are one of the most formidable adversaries of the principle of equality—a principle which does not allow unjust exclusion and privileges of sex.

I know that you do not wish to recognize the right of women to civil and political equality. This right, which contain in it the abolition of all social inequalities, of all oppressive privileges.

But I also know that this opposition on your part is founded on a respectable motive. You fear that the application of this principle seriously undermines the holy laws of morality.

If it was demonstrated to you that you are in error, I believe, Monsieur, in your honesty, in your sincere love for truth, and I do not doubt that you would use all your influence on the minds of the people, to destroy the direst of prejudices which hinder the march of humanity on the road of progress.

You will yourself be the firmest supporter, the most ardent defender that holy cause—that of all the weak, and all the oppressed.

I appeal to you, Monsieur, to examine more seriously all the aspects of this great question, so important in this epoch of transition where our social regeneration is prepared.

Permit me to present to you some observations on this subject. The superiority of your knowledge and intelligence is one more reason for me to hope that they will be received with kindness.

As a Christian socialist, I would say, like you, Monsieur, rather housewives than courtesans, if I wasn’t certain that a great number of women become courtesans only to escape the necessity of being housewives.

Poor women, who would perhaps be preserved from shame if we found for them a place between the necessity of being housewives or courtesans, which would have favored the right to work over the run of the household

To your dilemma, Monsieur, I will oppose another which is an axiom for me: slave and prostitute, or free and chaste, for woman there is no middle ground.

Prostitution is the result of the slavery of women, of ignorance and poverty.

Do not suppress any more the development of their most noble faculties; promote the free development of heir intelligence; give a noble aim to their activity, the weaknesses of the heart and the digressions of the imagination will no longer be anything to fear.

You want to strengthen the links of the family, and you divide it: man in the forum or the workshop, woman at home by the hearth. Separated from their husbands and children, from their father and brothers, women, as in the past, will be consoled in their isolation and servitude by dreaming of the celestial homeland, where they would have the freedom of the city, where there would no longer be inequality or unjust privileges. Abandoned by you to the influence of the confessional, they will entwine you in a mysterious, and all your efforts towards progress will be vain; you will fight without success for liberty like those Polish barons who refused to free their serfs. You will try uselessly to establish equality between citizens: society is based on the family, and if the family remains based on inequality, society will always go back to its rut, and reenter, as you say, the natural order of things. Since the origin of the world there have been slaves and masters, oppressed and tyrants, privileges of sex, of race, of birth, caste and fortune, and it always will be as long as you refuse to practice fraternity towards those that God has given you as sisters and companions.

You ask what the mission of woman will be outside of the family? She will come to help you reestablish order in that great, but badly administered household that we call the State, and to substitute a just division of the products for the permanent spoliation of the severe labors of the proletarian. The mother worthy of that name is predisposed to love the weak and suffering, but she is occupied with solicitude to preserve equally all her children from cold and hunger, and to give rise to a mutual sympathy in their heats; she will do for the great social family what she does in her home when she will widen the egoistic circle of domestic affections by rising to the height of humanitarian questions.

I strongly desire, Monsieur, for you to share my profound conviction, that no serious reform can be accomplished in an enduring manner without the application of that great principle of the right of women to civil and political equality, which is the basis of our social redemption.

Please accept, Monsieur, the assurance of my highest consideration.

JEANNE DEROIN.


[Working translation, by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Friday, May 06, 2011

Mutual aid opportunity

You'll find a new ChipIn widget in the sidebar of the blog (or on ChipIn), to support Laughing Horse Books, one of Portland, Oregon's few remaining independent bookstores, and a radical, collective-run bookstore/music venue/meeting space for 25 years now. All the little things that tend to snowball when a business gets behind have done so lately—and then some—and it seems very likely that the doors will be closing early this summer. Nothing is written in stone. The collective is in the midst of the hardest sorts of deliberations. But things are to the point where it's not clear if all the utilities will still be on by the time the decisions are made next week.

Any radical bookstore collective (any business, really) that has lasted 25 years has undoubtedly led a bit of a charmed life, but, of course, even the most charmed of collectives accumulate their share of operational and reputational baggage—and there are few things that are harder to battle than the kinds of internal and external inertias that tend to be brought to bear. From inside or outside—and I've been in both positions, more than once or twice, with this particular collective—it's sometimes hard to know if you're looking at a venerable institution or a ragged old hand-me-down. But, even for those who have fairly strong opinions about that particular question, the issue at the moment is less the last 25 years than it is the immediate consequences of a sudden, catastrophic closure of the bookstore. The people and projects who stand to lose, in terms of finances, time, morale, etc., are primarily allied, radical projects who can't afford losses and activists in exactly the same position.

There's a lot of serious reinventing that is necessary to give radical bookstores the sort of fighting chance they deserve. I don't think any of us know exactly what it is. But in cases where old models are collapsing, we can at least attempt to see that whatever expertise remains in our institutions isn't simply buried in demoralization and debt. There are over 16,000 people who have "liked" the Anarchism "cause" page on Facebook. If each one of those people chipped in a dollar, Laughing Horse could easily pay vendors and creditors, and get a strong start on rebuilding something leaner and more sustainable, and have more than a bit left over. Less than half of that would do the work of freeing the activists involved from the sorts of small debts that can cripple the lives of people with small incomes.

Unfortunately, we don't seem to be able to mobilize the large numbers of fairly negligible donations that would make it possible to sustain and expand radical projects. But please consider donating 5 or 10 bucks, to help an embattled old radical institution end with a bit of dignity, if not to give it a chance at rebirth.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Two Chapters from "The Last Word of Socialism"

I've transcribed the two chapters translated from Charles-François Chevé's Le Dernier Mot du Socialisme, par un catholique (1848), and published in The Spirit of the Age. They are "Capital and Interest" and "The Landlord and His Tenants: A Dialogue." Chevé was an associate of Proudhon, and the author of the "Socialist Catechism" that I recently translated.