Friday, July 22, 2011

Special "LeftLiberty+" Issue of "The Mutualist"

I'm both streamlining the Corvus Editions catalog a bit for upcoming bookfairs and trying to assemble a more focused body of materials to serve as a background for the next couple of issues of The Mutualist. With those goals in mind, I've combined the most useful bits of my own writing from the two issues of LeftLiberty with the blog posts I reference, or expect to reference, most often, as a special issue of The Mutualist. The contents are:
  • Mutualism: The Anarchism of Approximations 
  • Mutualist Musings on Property (including "The Gift Economy of Property, etc.) 
  • Note A (by Charles Fourier) 
  • The Lesson of the Pear-Growers' Series
  • Happy 200th, P.-J. Proudhon
  • The Heart of Proudhon's Thought
  • A Note on Bastiat and Double Inequality
  • and several additional posts on mutualist property theory
I am simultaneously writing the second and third regular issues of The Mutualist, which explore the property dynamic I've sketched out in much more depth, first from a roughly Stirnerian perspective, and then from a perspective rooted in the "communist" work of Charles Fourier, Pierre Leroux and Joseph Dejacque. Getting the Unique situated comfortably in the middle of the Universal Circulus, with some sense of "its Own" intact, has been a lot of fun (of a periodically maddening sort), but it's not a process that answers well to any pre-established timetable. My goal is to have one more significant piece of the "two-gun mutualist" puzzle ready for each of the upcoming bookfairs, but we'll all have to wait to see which pieces arrive for which fair.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Early uses of the term "capitalisme" in French

The accounts of the early uses of the term "capitalism" have not kept up at all with the sources now available for research. For example, on Wikipedia we find:
According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the term capitalism was first used by novelist William Makepeace Thackeray in 1854 in The Newcomes, where he meant "having ownership of capital." Also according to the OED, Carl Adolph Douai, a German-American socialist and abolitionist, used the term private capitalism in 1863.

The initial usage of the term capitalism in its modern sense has been attributed to Louis Blanc in 1850 and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1861. Marx and Engels referred to the capitalistic system (kapitalistisches System) and to the capitalist mode of production (kapitalistische Produktionsform) in Das Kapital (1867). The use of the word "capitalism" in reference to an economic system appears twice in Volume I of Das Kapital, p. 124 (German edition), and in Theories of Surplus Value, tome II, p. 493 (German edition).
We know, for example, that William Batchelder Greene used the term "capitalism" in its "modern sense" in Equality in 1849. And it turns out that there are French uses of the term "capitalisme," in that same sense, going clear back to 1834.

Many of the early references to "capitalism(e)" are undeveloped or off-hand. However, in an 1839 work by Pons Louis François de Villeneuve, "L'Agonie de la France," we find this rather lovely bit:
Capitalism and journalism : two new designations for two new scourges; the one dissipating the fortunes that is seems to strengthen; the other evaporating the instruction that it seems to extend; both valuable in their use, and formidable in their abuse.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

L. S. Bevington, "The Last Gasp of Propertyism"

It's not much fun to be in a debate where the participants consistently talk past one another, but it can be fairly instructive to observe them. The debate in Tochatti's Liberty is potentially instructive, while it certainly is not anything like a model for real meetings of minds. To recap: the communists of Liberty published the final section of Proudhon's Theory of Property, together with a provocative argument that Proudhon's stated personal preference for "Slavonic or Communal possession of land" somehow put "so-called Proudhonians" at odds with the master when they engage in "preaching Individualism and private appropriation." The claim was essentially that Proudhon only presented his "new theory" as a response to current difficulties, as a tactical reform and not as an anarchist model. I think there is a great deal in The Theory of Property, and in Proudhon's other mature work, that suggests there will always be some need to balance individual resource-claims against the claims of others, and the claims of various collectivities—and thus a need for some system of individual property—and there are certainly some damning historical statements about the relation between simple possession and freedom. No doubt, Proudhon has sincere in his statement. Those final paragraphs of The Theory of Property are particularly fine, and obviously heart-felt. But it is worth asking what else, beside any approximation of "private property," Proudhon felt himself willing to do without, personally, which he could not simply exclude from his social theory. In any event, Henry Seymour's response was a pretty mild sort of protest, with its attempts to clarify the Proudhonist position on the disposition of products, a sort of "two-gun" clarification of the mutualist position on individualism and communism, and the odd claim that Proudhon's followers "have always preached Communism in relation to land and natural products." This last claim seems simply incorrect to me. If it had been the case, the controversies with the collectivists over land tenure would certainly have been hard to account for. It seems like a rather large, and not well-justified concession to the communists, but, curiously, Louisa Sarah Bevington seems to have seen it primarily as another instance of propertarian illogic—or at least another occasion to rail against property. Her response is worth reading carefully:



What do the Individualists mean when they talk of the right of personal appropriation of their own labor-product? What is an “own” labor-product? What is “appropriation”? What is a “right”?

In his letter to Liberty on “Proudhon and Communism,” Mr. Seymour takes for granted that these three words stand for universally discernable things, and stand in an indisputable relation to one another; and from a little three-legged platform so based, he puts a poser: “If the man who conceives and carries out the production of a commodity has no right to consume (sic) or appropriate what he has produced, how can some other men (the community so-called) have a right to consume or appropriate it who have not produced it?” In this conundrum several open questions are begged outright. My answer to it would be as follows: Supposing you could find a man who had, all by himself, “conceived or carried out the production of a commodity,” and suppose you could find something other and more than his need or fitness to be the consumer or user of that commodity binding him to it when it is produced; and suppose you could further find this extra bond to be something other or more than a legal, conventional, and removable concession on the part of other people, then I will accept the term “right” as designating this bond. But the first step towards bringing my mind up to a level from which I might see and so have a chance of disposing of the aforesaid poser as it stands, is to find your individual conceiver or carrier-out of production. (And by the way, which of these two wonderful persons, when found, is to have precedence as a more-than-consumer of the of the finished product?)

I am not quibbling. It is at this very point—the supposed “right” to the supposed “owning” of supposed “individually produced” wealth, that the not-so-very-ancient property superstition is to draw its last gasp. The air is noisy and heavy with the gasping already. I wish for all our sakes it were over, so that economic sanity might bless us all at last, and make our planet our home instead of our purgatory.

That conventional “article” of a transient economic creed which binds surplus goods (consequently opportunities) to the will or whim of individual “owners” is after all as irrelevant as it is dogmatic. It has, like most man-imposed dogmas, a sorry and shady history; and it has no logical basis in actual relations between men and things.

To me it seems that there exists, to begin with, no individual producer. No one does, or can do more than put a finishing touch to something which the labors of countless others had brought into position for his hand, having provided him also with tools to work with, to say nothing of having fed, educated, and protected him up to the stage of ability required for his job. The job when finished, is a many men’s job every time. Say it is a specially original and prophetic book; it is then a more men’s job than if it is a wild fruit gathered in a jungle. The wild fruit, too, which one hand gathers, can be consumed by the owner of the hand. But the book that has taken the mental work of generations and the manual work of a great crowd to bring it into existence, will serve a great crowd and many generations, and will the more widely and easily fulfil its end and function of instruction the less its production and distribution get hitched on the thorn of the property hedge.

Thinker, inventor, able mechanician or husbandman, it is not for you to say who has not had part in the making of your finished product. “How can some other men (the community so-called) have a right to consume or appropriate it who have not produced it?” “Right to consume” means actual need and natural ability to consume, or it means nothing. “Right to appropriate” means law-protected ability to withhold at will; or it means nothing. The first—the title to consumption, may exist on the part of the finisher of the product, when it is good economy all round for him to put it to use as first comer; or it may not exist, when it is poor economy not to let anyone have it who does need it for immediate consumption. In the case of appropriation the right is spurious, and exists nowhere. There are only three real terms—Men; goods; use. Men make goods. Goods belong where they are useful as goods; not as wares; not as merchandise; not as speculations; not as instruments, for profit making or for bribing. These uses are all wasteful of wealth and of time.

Proudhonians, says Mr. Seymour, “preach Communism in relation to land and natural products, for the reason that such are in no wise due to the efforts of individual; and emphasize the right of personal appropriation of labor-products, for the reason that they are due to personal effort.” “Reason”? Why, reason? It seems to me that it is a dogma rather than reason which speaks here. Surely the true reason for general and free access to natural products is general need. There is a positive reason for my drinking at yonder spring. I drink because I am thirsty, not because I did not make the water. I do not think a new principle comes in with regard to human products. I have made a walking stick. I keep it instead of giving it to my brother, because he has one already, and I have none; not because I cut the stick, and he did not. If I have another stick, and he has none, and wants one, my work is better rewarded in his fit use of it than in my unfit custody of it. Nor need he pay me “damage” for it.

No. Let us all say what we mean. There is no fitness in the property-idea; it is not good logic; it is not good economy; it is, in our day, awfully difficult, and disturbing, and dangerous, and morally disastrous to keep it enforced, and in working-order. To take away its grab-title, and its pedigree-title, and its business-title, and to give it a brand new labor-title won’t alter the nature of its tenure, as an instrument of rulership and power over the opportunities of others; but, say some, keep it intact as an idea, we must; or else the drone and the dunce, our moral and intellectual weaklings and inferiors, will live upon us, and eat us clever and industrious ones out of house and home! How on earth am I to punish my inert or imbecile fellow creatures, if I let them have what I don’t want for my own use, without fining them? Well, to begin with, I think ninety-nine per cent of the drones are only drones because we have poisoned the honey to such an extent that is has, for a large number, becomes not worth the trouble of gathering. I do not despair of the average drone, even when sure that he is a drone, by preference, and not merely a badly-circumstanced, ill-placed bee. And the dunce? Poor, stupid, or semi-stupid blunderer and cumberer! Nature has fined the dunce already. Human law has often cancelled the fine. Look at Royal Families. But shall we withhold from the powerless dunce of the future his mere bread and cheese only because, for lack of wits or briskness, he cannot help us to produce them? I fear nothing from the inferior. When access is free, and powers all freely engaged in co-operative production or in healthy emulation, neither the dunce nor the drone will rule over us, as at present, take tribute of us as at present, or deprive our children of like opportunities with their own, as at present; and surely that is all that matters.

I hate almost murderously the parasitic drone and the dunce in office; but I declare that I could make them both most kindly and pitifully welcome to my superfluous food and clothing, (even though I personally had been the busy and clever part-producer of either form of wealth), so soon as it should become a clear fact to me that both drone and dunce were my powerless pensioners, and not my masters.

Next: Henry Seymour, "The Prejudice Against Property."

"I hope to do some work for the Labor Cause..."

One of the bits of Liberty's prehistory that undoubtedly needs to be better documented is Tucker's entry into the anarchist movement. I recently purchased microfilm of The Word, Ezra Heywood's paper, and just ran across this in the Nov. 1872 issue:

"B. R. Tucker, New Bedford, Mass. 'I hope to do some work for the Labor Cause but first wish to study the question that I may thoroughly understand it. For this reason I send for your publications. I wish you would hold a Convention in New Bedford. The conservatives here need a little stirring up. They have not been shocked in a long time.'"

 Tucker was a regular correspondent of The Word, and contributed a number of interesting accounts of current events, meetings of the various reform leagues, etc. And alongside one of his letters is a poem that suggests that perhaps someone in the movement was as taken with him as he was with his new-found anarchism:

To B. R. T.

O youth with blood as noble, free,
As e'er did course in kingly veins,
With high resolve so early fixed,
With mind and heart attuned!

No peril threatens thee or thine,
While to thy soul thou lend'st the sway,
While loyal thought to deeds conspire,
While thou remain'st in love's enthrall!

Oh love that shrines a Universe!
What trustful charity it lends,
What wise forbearing with the race,—
Thy pure ideal blazoned still!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Exploring intellectual history with Benjamin R. Tucker

There is probably no figure in the history of anarchism about whom I am as, well, "passionately ambivalent" as Benjamin R. Tucker. He was the great popularizer of Proudhon, Greene and Warren, and an important partisan of Stirner, but also, in each case, something of a bowdlerizer. The plumb-line approach was worlds away from Proudhon's notion of truth-in-relations, and his wholly "negative" understanding of anarchism ultimately at odds, to some degree at least, with the projects of all of his mutualist predecessors. He was the prototype for every left-libertarian who has trouble "reaching left" but somehow manages to find common ground in the most unlikely sectors of the right. His ambivalent embrace and very partial understanding of the generation that came before him is the basis of nearly all the contemporary confusions about "mutualism," "individualist anarchism," and the relations of those currents to each other and to the anarchist tradition as a whole. Hardly a day goes by that I don't curse old Ben Tucker for some roadblock he unwittingly set in the path of latter-day Proudhonians.

All that said, Tucker remains one of my favorite figures in the tradition as well. If he did not precisely share the ideas of Proudhon or Greene or Warren, he shared a lot—including their sometimes eccentric individuality, their curiosity, their ability and willingness to draw from unexpected and unconventional sources, and, of course, their combative tendencies. Tucker was at his best and worst as a controversialist, but the same might well have been said of all his major influences. Tucker was a real, live anarchist, with all the merits and defects that tend to come with that distinction. And, of course, he was among the most productive workers in anarchism of his, or most any other, generation.

It's Tucker the worker-in-anarchism that keeps me coming back to him, not least because his various projects brought him into contact with a remarkably large portion of the anarchist movement as a whole. In his day, two or three degrees of separation from Benjamin Tucker would take you a long way across the ideological landscape. As a mutualist theorist, Tucker confronts me with problems, but as an intellectual historian, he constantly provides pathways and connections. Sometimes they are negative connections, as the personally genial Tucker was as often as not a fighter in public, but there is no denying that one of the most gratifying aspects of my work on Tucker, his periodicals and his circle has been that the line of his career has served, again and again, as a kind of "spine" around which I've been able to build a much more coherent account of "radical American culture" than I had previously.

The unfinished nature of my archives of Liberty and The Radical Review—though understandable, given my current economic precarity and lack of institutional support—has been gnawing at me a bit more insistently lately, in part because, whatever my ideological beefs with Tucker, I still feel strongly that there is a wealth of material largely trapped in hard-to-navigate pdfs. Wendy McElroy was generous enough to lend me the use of her indexes, but it's been hard to steal the time from other projects to complete the translation to wikitext—and preparing the text-archive is long, slow, relatively boring work, with no compensation on the horizon. And, honestly, my passion (the sort of passion that gets you through major volunteer projects) has largely been drawn elsewhere, to the parts of the anarchist tradition still unexplored by me (and in some cases, still largely unexplored by much of anyone very recently.) From the first, the primary purpose of the Libertarian Labyrinth archives has been to illuminate the margins of the tradition, to deal with the figures and ideas I was pretty sure nobody else would get around to. Benjamin Tucker has become a surprisingly mainstream figure in recent years, and, for me, some of the urgency regarding his work has waned. Still, the basic work of full-text digitization hasn't happened...

A lot of passion and urgency flooded back recently, as I discovered that a fairly obscure, but also key, Tucker-related source had become available online. Volumes of The Index: A Weekly Paper Devoted to Free Religion, have appeared at both Google Books and the HathiTrust Digital Library. Between the two archives you can piece together a fairly complete run of the paper. Long-time readers of this blog may remember a series of posts from late 2006, documenting my first looks at The Index, and presenting a series of texts from the paper:
Since discovering the online archives, and being able to fill a couple of holes in the collection of 11"x17" photocopies I've been dragging around for years, I've been able to add Dyer D. Lum's "Buddhism Notwithstanding" to the archive, and assemble all 36 chapters of Stephen Pearl Andrews' bizarre "The Science of Universology." There are still some anarchist contributions not available, but I know what is missing at this point, and it is simply a matter of making the interlibrary loan requests or convincing friends and colleagues to photocopy a few things.

Given that "free religionism" is no longer a term that conjures up much of anything for most people, it is a little odd to recall that, not only was The Index the place where Benjamin Tucker got his first experience as a published controversialist, but it was a paper filled with familiar names: Sidney H. Morse, E. D. Linton, Austin Kent, J. Wm. Lloyd, Henry Appleton, Rev. Jesse H. Jones, Burnette G. Haskell, Dyer D. Lum, Ezra Heywood, William B. Greene, C. L. James, and almost everyone who wrote for The Radical Review appeared in its pages. Tucker's first Proudhon translations appeared there. And anyone who has read the early issues of Liberty will have encountered Tucker's sniping at The Index, which he felt has taken a real turn for the worse. Encountering all of that again reminded me why I went to the trouble of scanning Tucker's periodicals in the first place.

The time seems right for a serious return to the Tucker archive project. I've been working slowly on the text of The Radical Review for six months or so, but filling the gaps in the anarchist material from The Index means I can give that text the context it both needs and deserves, and, together, the material from the two earlier periodicals can provide an important part of the context for Liberty. There are other concerns as well: members of the North American Anarchist Studies Network have begun a sort of distributed library project, and I have been designing new versions of the Libertarian Labyrinth archive and still-newborn Proudhon Library site in Omeka and Semantic Mediawiki, so that I can incorporate adequate metadata, accommodate Open Archive Initiative projects and generally improve the presentation of the archives, which have always pretty much been an online version of my file cabinets and not much more. I want to be able to contribute more to projects like The Anarchist Library, and absolutely need to establish a little different focus for Corvus Editions, which has been a great occasion for me to learn a whole bunch of new skills, but always hovers somewhere just below the level where it could be said to be sustaining either me or itself.

My plan is to propose a crowd-funded project in the fairly near future, to complete the first stage of a Benjamin R. Tucker archive, covering The Radical Review, related material from The Index, Index-related material from Liberty, and a few related odds and ends, with the online result (after six months or so) being a nice Omeka-based exhibit and no-frills Mediawiki-based text archive, and the premiums being reprints of The Radical Review and a variety of related materials. (There are a variety of other materials that are part of the "prehistory of Liberty" that it would be useful to assemble at this point.) If this first stage is successful, then it would be possible to move on into the run of Liberty. Starting largely from scratch with the new archives, I would like to gradually do the thing that I didn't have all the pieces to do ten years ago—to construct the anarchist-history frame around which could be built a much more inclusive intellectual history, within which characters like Benjamin Tucker, William B. Greene, Josiah Warren, J. K. Ingalls, etc., could appear in more than just their roles as anarchist ideologues.

At this stage, any feedback would be welcome.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Proudhon and Communism — II

It didn't take long for the communism-friendly interpretation of Proudhon's "Theory of Property" to draw criticism from Henry Seymour. Or, rather, the charge that Proudhonians "so-called Proudhonians" (nice touch, that) don't follow Proudhon "in preaching Individualism and private appropriation" drew some minor counter-criticisms.

"Proudhon and Communism"

In the August issue of Liberty you print an excerpt from Proudhon's posthumous work "The Theory of Property," prefaced by a statment that "the so-called Proudhonians like to tell us that in preaching Individualism and private appropriation they follow his teachings. ... To private property he personally preferred Slavonic or Communal possession of land." I do not see anything to warrant the charge of inconsistency on the part of the disciples of Proudhon. In the first place, they rigorously renounce Individualism, no less than Communism, considered exclusively. But they have always preached Communism in relation to land and natural products, for the reason that such are in nowise due to the efforts of individuals; on the other hand they have simply emphasized the right of personal appropriation of labor-products, for the reason that they are due to personal effort. Now, the denial of the right to personal appropriation of labor-products, carries with it the denial of Communism in this particular, for, if the man who conceives and carries out the production of a commodity has no right to consume or appropriate what he has produced, how can some other men (the community so-called) have a right to consume or appropriate it who have not produced it?—Yours truly, Henry Seymour.

[Source: Liberty (Chiswick), September 1894.] 


It's an interesting response, if not entirely on point all the time. The bit about rejecting "individualism" and "communism" considered separately would certainly have been true of some of Proudhon's disciples at the time, though clearly not true of some of them, but the claim that Proudhonians "have always preached Communism in relation to land and natural products" strikes me as fairly bizarre. But, in what followed, that strange claim was glossed over almost completely, as Bevington took off on something of a tangent of her own.

Next: Louisa Sarah Bevington, "The Last Gasp of Propertyism"

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Proudhon and Communism — I

I've long admired the "other" Liberty, the anarchist-communist paper published in England by James Tochatti in the 1890s. (You can admire some of the later issues here.) But I hadn't had an opportunity to sit down with more than just scattered issues until last week, when I spent several hours going through the microfilm of the run. There are a number of articles that I'll be reproducing here, or in the Labyrinth archive, but the material that is probably of most immediate interest to the readership of this blog is an exchange between anarchist-communist Louisa Sarah Bevington and individualist-anarchist Henry Seymour, on the question of property. The exchange, which is probably not worth glorifying with the name "debate," ran from August 1894 through about November 1895, at which point Bevington bowed out — and then died almost immediately. Seymour contributed a related piece to the December 1895 issue, without comment from the communist faction. The exchange was a fairly classic example of different anarchist schools talking past one another, but in this case the talking was at least very articulate, if often misdirected or even just petty, and the contributors revealed a lot about themselves, however little they may have understood their opponents. I'll be posting the whole debate here on the blog, probably with quite a bit of commentary, as I work up a sort of "critical edition" for Corvus Editions.

The opening shot was the publication of a short translation from Proudhon's The Theory of Property, the final section (also available in my translation), where he admits that, if it was simply a question of his personal preferences, his mature work on property might have taken a different turn. That passage is, of course, one of my touchstones for the work I have done in expanding on Proudhon's property theory, since "a different turn" is precisely what I think is needed. But, that said, it is hard to quite get on board with the argument made in Liberty:

Proudhon and Communism

The so-called Proudhonians like to tell us that in preaching Individualism and private appropriation they follow his teachings. This is what Proudhon wrote in his last work on Property, the "Theory of Property," published in 1866, after his death. After having developed in that work the ideas that, with the present development of the State, private property is the only means of defending man's liberty against the State,—he wrote the following characteristic conclusion to his work (pp. 244-246). To private property he personally preferred Slavonic or Communal possession of land.

I have unfolded the considerations which render the idea of private property intelligible, rational, justifiable, without which it would be usurpatory and hateful. And yet, even on those terms, it contains something of that selfishness which is always antipathetic to me. My levelling reason, always against being governed, and an enemy to the rage and abuses of power, is prepared to allow proprietorship to be kept up as a shield and position of safety for the weak: but my heart will never be with it. As far as I am concerned, I feel no necessity for this concession either for the purpose of gaining my own bread, or to fulfil my civic duties, or for my own happiness. I have no need to meet it with others that I may aid their weakness and respect their rights. I have sufficient energy of conscience and intellectual force to suitably maintain all my relations with my neighbours, without it, and if the majority of my fellow citizens resembled me—what need would there be of that institution? Where would be the danger for the little man the pupil, or the workman? Where would be the need of pride, ambition, and greed which cannot satisfy itself except by the immensity of appropriation?

A small house, held on hire, the use of a garden would be amply sufficient for me: my occupation not being to cultivate the soil, the vine, or a meadow, I do not require a park or a large inheritance, and even if I were a husbandman and vine-dresser, Slavonic form of possession would satisfy me, viz., the share falling to each head of a family in each commune. I cannot tolerate the insolence of the man who with his foot on land which he merely holds by a free concession, forbids us to pass over it, and prevents our gathering a flower in his field or to walk over a foot path.

When I see all these fences in the suburbs of Paris which take away a view of the country and the enjoyment of the soil from the poor pedestrian, my blood fairly boils. I ask myself whether such proprietorship which thus ties up each person within his own house is not rather expropriation and expulsion form the land. Private Property! I sometimes met with these words written in large letters at the entrance to an open road and which resembles a sentinel forbidding you to advance any farther. I confess, my manly dignity fairly bristles up in disgust. Oh! I remain with regard to this on the standpoint of the Christian religion, which recommends abnegation, preaches modesty, simplicity of mind, and poverty of heart. Away with the ancient patrician, unmerciful and covetous; away with the insolent baron, the greedy bourgeois, and the harsh peasant, durus arator. These people are odious to me! I can neither like them nor look at them. If I should ever find myself a proprietor I should be one of the that kind whom God and men, especially the poor forgive!

[Source: Liberty (Chiswick), August 1894, p. 62.] 

Obviously, the key to the argument is this business of "the present development of the State," which is presumably what forces the embrace of property on Proudhon. For the moment, I'll leave readers to consider whether that is an adequate reading of "The New Theory."

Next up: Henry Seymour responds

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Ezra Heywood to "The Revolution,"

This letter from Ezra H. Heywood is the first fruits of several days spent researching in Eugene, OR and Berkeley, CA, over the last couple of months. When I discovered that both André Léo and Jenny d'Héricourt had corresponded with the American women's rights papers The Revolution and The Agitator, and that both papers had published partial translations of André Léo's La femme et les mœurs, it became obvious that I needed to track those papers down. I was already familiar with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Parker Pillsbury's paper, The Revolution, which contained contributions by Ezra Heywood, Josiah Warren, C. L. James and Joshua King Ingalls. But I was unfamiliar with André Léo, and only vaguely family with Jenny d'Héricourt, the last time I looked at The Revolution, some years back, and The Agitator was entirely new territory for me. I found The Agitator in Eugene, and when the complications of traveling over the 4th of July weekend made a couple of days in Berkeley make good sense, I consulted The Revolution at the UC campus there. There is a lot of interest to share from both papers. This communication from Heywood addresses a number of controversies surrounding The Revolution. The range of reforms embraced was a concern to some people, and the fact that the eccentric George Francis Train was the paper's chief financier and promoter scandalized others.

DEAR MRS. STANTON: I meant long ago to have written you how much we enjoy “THE REVOLUTION,” which has come regularly since Miss Anthony’s announcement gave us the privilege of subscribing to this expression and answer to a great public want. It is not only a revolution which will make politicians and even reformers and philosophers dance to new music, but a revelation of light and hope to multitudes sitting in darkness and despair. What a woman said, “many times in the past, I have desired and prayed to die, but since “THE REVOLUTION” appeared, I want to live,” utters the profound welcome your paper receives among those common people, who always hear truth gladly, and indicates the dumb, aching, unutterable yearnings of myriads, yet living almost without hope, and without good in the world.

During the thousands of millions of years since creation, men have patched and botched the world with their male governments, their male literature, their male theologies, philosophies, philanthropies, until looking at the savage inanity of war, the tragic life of woman, the degradation of labor, the ravages of intemperance, and the thousand other evils which afflict society, one does not wonder that Second Adventists think the resources of Providence spent, and the Messiah is to come again “in flowing flame” to burn the whole thing up and try again, But Deity, incarnating himself under new forms, in each age, to redeem it, now commissions daughters as well as sons of men to be saviors, and embodies his most redeeming grace in woman. In America, where all classes, sexes, races, interests, were intended to stand on their good behavior, on their merits, woman should have broken loose before from the imprisoning conditions within which the ages have bound her. But now she is loose and speaking her mind in a newspaper of her own, we must expect startling facts, prepare for Revolutions in all directions, a general breaking up of indecent styles in the world’s housekeeping, that we live in a more orderly and sensible manner. Some anti-slavery believers in Woman’s Rights seem alarmed at you exercising more liberty than they bargained for; but evidently these new-comers, so much objected to in certain quarters, were foreordained to play their present part. Had it been possible or desirable to establish a woman’s paper, under abolition auspices alone, the superior abilities of Lucy Stone would have done it. But Providence desiring to give democrats a chance to be saved, in being saviors, invoked their aid. As the accomplished daughter of Francis Jackson, Mrs. E. F. Eddy who inherits much of the insight and courage of her noble father, and has herself done resolute service for her sex, said of your last meeting in Music Hall, Boston: “We went at half-past seven and staid till eleven, and you can imagine something kept us. To see such different materials combined to do the Lord’s work was proof to my mind that the Lord sent Mr. Train to help it along. He was so free and easy, so witty, so funny, and impressive withal, that we forgave him all his sins, though he made it out that he had none.”

Reform, like Deity, is no respecter of persons; the latest comer and the humblest believer is of infinitely more importance than the greatest past advocate who evades the logical duty of the hour. When “good” men have served a cause so long that they think themselves entitled to betray or ignore it, it is high time “bad” men took their places. In the advocacy of peace and labor reform, I have learned that every cause must create its own supporters and welcome assistance from any quarter; and that when reformers become so wise as to think it dangerous to cast out devils, except in their name, it is well to ask if the adversary has not taken stock in their kind of “reform.” I rejoice, therefore, that there are women among us gifted with wisdom and courage enough to know their time and accept its duties; and am confident you will achieve a great and beneficent success in your present line of action. Many other things flow to one’s pen to get themselves written about the various other questions you have opened, but must not be permitted to fill more space now. The degraded condition of our workingmen, already voters, shows how little the ballot has done of what that potent agent is capable. Nevertheless, “By this sign we shall conquer” is a good motto for your banner; while the appearance of labor, finance, commerce, marriage, culture, peace, and other issues in the same columns which claim the right of woman to vote, so well indicates the other necessary means to reach that fair play and practical justice towards which the race is struggling, that we are glad to say to all concerned to aid the general welfare, take “THE REVOLUTION.”


Worcester, Mass., May 30, 1868.