Three important anarchist thinkers and activists

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly version

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 would also suggest looking at the section on Anarcha-Feminism in An Anarchist FAQ for more on these wonderful women.

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.

Comments

I'd suggest you don't repeat

I'd suggest you don't repeat the title in the HTML and the subject field and that if its a review you paste the first actual paragraph into the summary field and then click on the button that doesn't republish the summary in the main article view but only uses it for the index. This would make them look a lot better on both the index view and in RSS feeds which would probably result in more people clicking through.

Hopefully that is a bit

Hopefully that is a bit better now! now, just have to work out the next set of articles to transfer. Any suggestions, anyone?

Post new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

AddThis

  


Like what you are reading?  Get a notification whenever we post a new article to

Anarchist Writers via Facebook or Twitter

where you can also like and comment on our articles


 

Posting comments

 Like most sites we have a major problem with bots trying to post spam into the comments section.  While looking for a better solution we are reduced to only on turning on the ability to anonymously comment for brief periods around the posting of new articles.  But if you are a regular visitor you can comment at any time by creating an account on the site and logging in before posting. But the Spammers also set up accounts so to reduce the workload of deleting those we only turn on the ability to create accounts for brief periods which we announce on our Twitter & Facebook accounts so follow those to hear when we have that turned on.  We do want you to be able to engage with us via the comments and we are very sorry for the fact that we can't find a better way of dealing with spam.