I’ve started the process of transferring files from my old webpage to this one. I’ve decided to put three review/reply essays about three very impressive anarchist thinkers and agitators: Emma Goldman, Voltairine de Cleyre and Louise Michel.
The Emma Goldman one is a lengthy reply to a terrible diatribe against her by an American Leninist (a member of the American branch of the British SWP, so no surprise there). There is the usual selective quoting and distortions you would expect. I’ve taken the opportunity to update the links to An Anarchist FAQ as well as correcting the reference to Lucy Parsons (she never joined the Communist Party as claimed by the Leninist, although she did work with the Stalinists). As before, I dedicate this to my eldest daughter, Sophie Emma. An edited version appeared in issue 45 (Winter 2007) of Anarcho-Syndicalist Review.
The Voltairine de Cleyre article is a long review of three books about her. She feel into relative obscurity since her death in 1912, which is a shame as she was an important thinker who should be remembered. So it is good to have these books available. Unfortunately, one of them was edited by “anarcho”-capitalists and so marred by terrible introductions and a tendency to lump individualist anarchism with “anarcho”-capitalism. So the review shows that this cannot be done, and also shows that Voltairine moved from individualist anarchism to revolutionary mutualism to, finally, communist-anarchism. Again, this is for my daughter. Fiona Lucy. An edited version appeared in issue 44 (Summer 2007) of Anarcho-Syndicalist Review.
Finally, there is a shorter review of a book about Louise Michel, heroine of the Paris Commune. It was provoked by the fact that a book about Louise should concentrate far more on anarchism than Marxism (never mind Leninism!) if it is to be taken seriously and do justice to her life and ideas. Marx is not the centre of the universe – in the case of the Commune, if he had been as influential as Marxists like to think then the insurrection of March 18th would never have happened! This one I belatedly dedicate to my partner. It was published in Black Flag
I do spend some time replying to Marxist attacks on anarchism, such as the one on Emma Goldman. I do so simply because this kind of nonsense has to refuted otherwise radicals may think it is an accurate portrayal of their ideas and life. It also shows how often Leninists abuse the facts to present their version of radical history. Showing that, say, a Leninist selectively quotes from a book by Emma shows that everything they write or say should be checked for accuracy. If more radicals do that then, perhaps, the Leninist approach to the true may be improved.