Sunday, May 11, 2014

Change of address

The Great Destroying and Rebuilding is well underway! The New Labyrinth is emerging!

Actually, I'm sure that the details of all of this are more more exciting for me that for anyone else, as I'm getting a chance to fix a bunch of problems and transform my archive into something that actually resembles an archive, but there should be plenty of benefits for everyone who uses any of the sites. In general, I have attempted to maintain specialized collections where there seems to be some purpose or demand, while making it much easier to navigate between them. So it's time to shut the doors here and move on.

From now on, all of my sites can be reached from a single address:

That's pretty much all you need to know. Once in the new network of sites, the navigation tabs are fairly standard:
  • LABYRINTH takes you to the center of things and the general history/announcements BLOG.
  • LIBRARY takes you to the Omeka catalog.
  • WIKI lets you view the recently relocated Libertarian Labyrinth wiki without leaving the Wordpress interface, and WIKI (Direct) takes you straight to the wiki site.
  • TRANSLATIONS goes to the Index of Working Translations.
  • PROUDHON will take you to the Proudhon Library site, where there's a new blog for my most proudhonological efforts, plus a forum and access to the Proudhon Library wiki. Local navigation this is a little different, because of the forums and a separate PL WIKI, but all the familiar links ought to be there as well. Hint: some navigation menus pull down. 
  • BAKUNIN, as you might guess, links to an improved Bakunin Library site. 
  • ATERCRACY links to The Great Atercratic Revolution
A few tabs lead out of the network, to sites that will eventually be incorporated:
  • FRONDEUSE links the the La Frondeuse/Black and Red Feminist History site
  • BEER links to my neglected beer-review blog, Well-Aged & Slightly Bitter, with Just a Touch of Funk.
  • OSSAPY links to The High Hills of Ossapy, an even more neglected archive of material on the history of New Hampshire's White Mountains. 
  • And something will possibly soon point at a new merger of material from Splendors of the Combined Order and Possible and Impossible Worlds. All of these Blogger collections will eventually find a home in the new configuration, but perhaps primarily as index pages or collection in the Library, with the posts appearing on the main Libertarian Labyrinth blog.
Meanwhile, back in the main network
  • ALL leads to an aggregator of posts, pages and files from all the site. 
  • And CONTR'UN leads to the new home of this blog. 
That's right. Twice now, I've declared this particular project over and done with. And yet, after a lot of thinking, and shuffling, and pondering, and installing and uninstalling software, and thinking, and shuffling, and, rethinking, and... you get the picture... I've decided that the Contr'un project still has an place in my future work. There are important parts of the project that would be a little lost on the Proudhon blog and a little distracting on the general history blog. What I've done with the new site is to archive everything from this blog and several other related projects there. As for the content of the blog, expect a continuation of the material on the anarchic encounter, anarchist identity and such, with perhaps more Fourier in the mix in the near future.

However, since I hope that the new arrangement will be fairly intuitive, the main thing to remember is just one address:

I'll see you there.

New wiki address

A technical bump in the road means the transition from the old Libertarian Labyrinth wiki to the new won't be quite as smooth as I had hoped, but the new site is now online at

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Rebuilding the Labyrinth

Over the almost twenty years (!) since the first version of the Libertarian Labyrinth archive went online, the various elements of my decentralized archive have become truly labyrinthine, with bits and pieces spread over blogs and wikis, as well as the newish Omeka library. There was always a sort of exploratory method to my madness. I've never been entirely convinced that people surfing the web really pay that much attention to central portals and front pages, and I've also been curious to separate out certain elements of my work to see how they fared on their own. I have always suspected that my particular range of interests contains something to turn off nearly every sort of browser, and have been, until recently, a bit ill-prepared to clarify all the connections. But there are some obvious drawbacks to the particular kind of decentralized archive I've been building, and they have become more obvious as my overall project becomes clearer and more explicit. It still probably doesn't make sense to dump everything that I'm writing or translating into a single blog, but the time has probably come to at least bring the various projects and connections into a more explicit, browseable network. 

The Omeka-based Libertarian Labyrinth Library is, and will continue to be, the heart of the archive. I've been gradually changing my workflow so that most things are posted there, and from now on my goal is that everything, including blog posts, will be archived there as soon as it goes online. And I'm looking at establishing a separate Twitter account for the Library, for anyone who needs to know every little thing that is happening in the labyrinth. 

A new portal at will link to all the elements of the larger labyrinth, and probably host an aggregator of blog-feeds fairly soon as well. If you just want to remember one URL, that will be the one to pick, although the goal is to make navigation between most of the labyrinth fairly seamless. 

Networking the various blogs will mean moving most of them (and perhaps eventually all of them) off the Blogger platform. I started that process last year, but last years was... complicated... and things only went so far. I was too busy reinventing my understanding of things like anarchy and anarchism to spend much time tinkering with website. This year, however, I'm pushing to get a number of archiving and publishing projects really off the ground, and my little network of blogs hasn't been sufficient to the tasks. So, in preparation for the upcoming reading of What if Property? I put together the Proudhon Library blog and forum and figured, after a long day and night cobbling together a useable mass of Wordpress plugins and linking that site to my other WP blogs, that there was no point in stopping there. The Bakunin Library blog has moved (and I'll try to update and install the translation-index page later today) and La Frondeuse, Splendors of the Combined Order and Possible and Impossible Worlds will follow soon, though perhaps not exactly in their present form. Some other blogs (Travelling in Liberty, From the Libertarian Library and Working Translations) will be archived in the Library and their indexes both archived and attached to the Libertarian Labyrinth blog. Those few who follow my horribly-neglected beer review and White Mountains blogs don't have anything to worry about for a while at least. They won't move for now and the neglect will probably continue, although perhaps not at the same levels.

The "neo-Proudhonian" writing I've been doing at Contr'un and will largely move to the Proudhon Library site. I'll leave this site up, and do my best to update changed links as other things shift, but at some point in the near future I'll be making the leap. I've got some summary and transition posts I would like to make, so we'll just see how things go. Part of the process of wrapping things up here will be dusting off, completing and/or correcting some of the historical material here, so expect those posts to start appearing over on the Libertarian Labyrinth blog. For a while, I'll note here when new stuff is happening elsewhere. 

That leaves the wikis and an odd assortment of online documents, like the files of Liberty, tucked away on various servers. The odd assortments are all destined to become part of the Library, and I'll update indexes like the Liberty Index as the moves get made. It turns out that there is a fairly efficient bridge for integrating the wikis with the blogs, so, for example, much of the Proudhon Library wiki can now be browsed without leaving the Proudhon Library blog. Certain things break crossing the software bridge and certain features aren't accessible, so I'll be making some adjustments in the way that I organize the wikis (and direct links to the wikis will be available.) The biggest change will be a clean installation of the main Libertarian Labyrinth Wiki (which will let me fix some long-standing problems with the original installation) which will let me integrate that material with the linked blogs fairly seamlessly. The fate of the Collective Reason site is uncertain. I'm integrating some material from it into the other wiki collections, and it may or may not stick around as a sandbox for the few of us who use it. In any event, the most useful, and largely unused portions of it will get another shot in a new context. And I'm sure my love-hate relationship with Mediwiki will continue, but as long as my interests include large-scale bibliographical projects, there will probably always be one or two wikis in the mix. 

Moving the main wiki is the thing most likely to cause problems (mostly broken links) for others. But I don't really see a way around it. Some of the decisions I made when I originally set up the main wiki don't look as clever as they originally did, given other developments, and the software gremlins have done their work over years, upgrades and attacks. I'll be working at this slowly but surely, probably completing the metadata work I've been doing in the process. 

What's the bottom line? Since the vast major of readers here probably use the archives infrequently, the disruption will be minimal, and as they make the shift over to the New Labyrinth the number of resources that will be just a few clicks away at any time will vastly increase. And the same will be true for me, making it much easier to continue to develop the archive and the commentary on it.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Property? It's just a phase...

[This response by Proudhon to the Academy of Besançon fills in a bit of the story told in the introduction to What is Property? I've been tracking down some of these bits and pieces in order to establish more of the context for that work, as we get ready to do a group reading of the text. This letter has at least one unintentionally funny bit, when Proudhon explains that this property stuff is just a passing interest.]

Besançon, August 3, 1840


Gentlemen, I have learned through the confidences of some of my friends that the publication of my Memoir on Propriété, and especially the preface addressed to the Academy of Besançon, which appears at the beginning of that Memoir, have roused your displeasure, not to mention you indignation, against me. That is the motive that enlists me to explain to you here, in few words and in all their simplicity, my conduct and my intentions.
First of all, what has been taken for a dedication is only a simple report, which my condition as the Suard pensionnaire and the obligation imposed on me to make known each year the progress of my studies seemed to me to explain sufficiently. I knew that a dedication is a certification of patronage of the person or the body to which one has dedicated it, so that it must be agreed to or even planned between the parties involved; I did not wish to free myself from that rule of decorum. On the other hand, a report is necessarily determined in form and content by the work on which one reports; that, Gentlemen, is what explains the silence that I have kept with regard to you, concerning the work, and concerning the address that precedes it.
As for the book itself, I would not argue here the cause that I have embraced; I had no desire to place myself before you as an adversary, no than as an accused; my conviction, what I am saying? my certainty concerning the truths that I have elaborated is invincible, and I respect your opinion to much, Gentlemen, to ever combat it directly. But, if I advance some unheard of paradoxes concerning Property, that basis of our present political state, does it follow that I am an implacable revolutionary, a secret conspirator, an enemy of society? No, Gentlemen; in admitting my doctrines without reservation, all that you could conclude from it, and all that I conclude myself, is that there exists a natural, inalienable right of possession and labor, for the enjoyment of which the proletarian must be prepared, just like the black of the colonies, before receiving the liberty of which no one today contests the right, must be prepared for liberty. That education of the proletarian is the mission confided today to all the men powerful in intelligence and fortune, under pain of being sooner or later crushed under an deluge of those barbarians to whom we are accustomed to give the name of proletarians.
Should I respond to another sort of accusation? Some have seen in my conduct toward my academic tutor, to whom I have never made any communication, a sort of ingratitude.
My conduct with regard to Mr. Droz has been dictate to me by a sentiment of decorum; could I enter with that venerable writer into some conferences on moral science and political economy, when those conferences must have, in my opinion, the result of calling into doubt the value of the moral and economic writings of Mr. Droz? Should I put myself in a state of argumentativeness and, so to speak, permanent disobedience with him? No one loves and admires the talent of Mr. Droz more than me; no one can ever demonstrate a more profound veneration for his character. Now, these sentiments were precisely so many reasons that that forbade a polemic that would have been awkward and too perilous for me.
Gentlemen, the publication of that work was commanded of me by the order of my philosophical studies. This is what the future will demonstrate to you. One last Memoir remains for me to compose on the question of Property; that work accomplished, I would pursue, without turning aside from my path, my studies in philology, metaphysics and moral science.
Gentlemen, I belong to no party, to no coterie; I am without advocates, without partners, without associates. I make no sect, and I would reject the role of tribune, were it ever offered to me, for the simple reason that I do not wish to enslave myself! I have only you, Gentlemen. I only have hope in you. I await favor and a solid reputation only from you. I know that you propose to condemn what you call my opinions, and to reject all solidarity with my ideas. I will nonetheless persist in believing that the time will come when you will give me as much praise as I have caused you irritation. Your first emotion will pass, the distress born among you by the bold expression of a still unperceived physical and economic truth will ease, and with time and reflection, I am sure, you will arrive at the enlightened consciousness of your own sentiments, which you do not known, which you combat and I defend.

I am, Gentlemen, with the most perfect confidence in your understanding and in your justice, your very humble and devoted pensionnaire.

P.-J. Proudhon
[Working Translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]