This essay appears at the end of James J. Martin's Men Against the State: The Expositors of Individualist Anarchism in America, 1827-1908. Colorado Springs: Ralph Myles, 1970.
by James J. Martin
No full-scale study of the scope and significance of anarchistic writings and teachings in the United States has ever been undertaken by an American.1 The bulk of American references to anarchists and anarchism have been confined to three principal sources: (1) emotional polemics and frankly sensational accounts;2 (2) English translations of the works of German, French, and Italian writers, of varying merit; (3) the writings of anarchists themselves, either in the form of original source materials of wide circulation or books and articles of semi-objective nature. In view of this situation, it is not strange that in the main, the contributions of the American-born have either been almost wholly neglected, or have been attached to the tail of the European comet. With the exception of the works of Max Nettlau, comprehensive studies usually date from the first decade of the present century. These continue to be used almost exclusively, a situation partially due to the relative inactivity of the present day anarchist press, especially in the United States.
Little definitive work either by American writers or doing justice to Americans involved in anarchist groups is to be found in encyclopedias3 or in bibliographies of radical literature. The two outstanding students of anarchist bibliography, both of whose works are over forty years old, remain practically unused and uncited. The three volume compilation by the German Josef Stammhammer, Bibliographie des Socialismus und Communismus,4 contains the most comprehensive and systematic study of anarchist writings for the period before 1909. Ignored by students of anarchist thought because of its misleading title, it remains of great value, especially with regard to the contributions of the native Americans.
The only other work of merit in the field of bibliographical material is the one volume by Max Nettlau, Bibliographie de L'Anarchie.5 It is based in part on the first volume of Stammhammer but contains many items unlisted by the latter. Not only is Nettlau superior from the point of view of arrangement, in that only anarchist writings are listed, but additional helps have been provided through his effort to classify the authors according to country of origin and particular "school" of no-government thought.6 Later compilations have been fragmentary, incomplete, and disappointingly brief.7
European scholarship has been dominant not only in bibliographies but also in the field of general works. Inspired by the wave of assassinations and associated terroristic acts of the '80's and '90's, a torrent of books poured from the presses of western Europe, most of them ephemeral in nature, superficial in treatment, and generally embodying a violent and abusive approach. Few if any showed an acquaintance with anarchist literature,8 and the tendency to arraign all anarchists as criminals was widespread. Early observers, such as Augustin Frederic Hamon and the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso, investigated this direct action with particular attention to its alleged criminal and psychopathic implications.9
The first study of a general nature which showed an understanding of the scope of the source material of anarchism was the work of the German critic Ernst Victor Zenker, Der Anarchismus, Kritische Geschichte der Anarchistische Theorie, which appeared in 1895. 10 Although not sympathetic with the aims of the exponents of total abolition of the state, Zenker upbraided contemporaries for their failure to read the works of Proudhon and others before rushing into print. He recognized that there existed a cleavage between the European and American anarchist philosophies, even though he was unable to clearly state the principal differences. Zenker did deplore, however, the facile generalizations which placed all the protagonists of anarchism in the camp of the supporters of "propaganda by action." He observed, as did Lombroso and others, that the beginning of nearly all violent revolutions found criminals and other disreputable elements taking part, thus making worthy of examinations even the profession of anarchism on the part of participators in violence.11
Zenker's effort was followed by that of another German, the judge Dr. Paul Eltzbacher, whose Der Anarchismus (Berlin, 1900)12 was a trailbreaking historical analysis of anarchist ideology. It is noteworthy from the American point of view in that he selected the New England-born individualist anarchism. Eltzbacher, despite the meticulous scrutiny which he brought to the materials he used, gave no indication of knowledge of the bibliographical researches of Nettlau, nor an awareness of the vitality of Tucker's associates or predecessors, or the eclectic character of his ideas.
The only general account of anarchism by an objective observer which demonstrates a thorough mastery of the voluminous source material related to the subject remains that of the careful Italian scholar Ettore Zoccoli, L'Anarchia.13 Unfortunately, it has never appeared in an English translation. Documented in four languages, Zoccoli's formidable survey lists many additional anarchist writings mentioned in no other work before his time, and constitutes a valuable addition to the bibliography available to investigators. The reason for its obscurity remains unexplained. Like the essays of other Europeans, unfortunately his treatment of the Americans was weak, due mainly to the unavailability of most of their publications in overseas libraries.
With the success of fascist and communist regimes in Italy and Russia, the study of anarchism shifted to northwestern Europe. Germany became the center of a vigorous anarchist press for more than a decade. The process of going underground was repeated here after the emergence of the authoritarian National Socialist government in 1933. Highly centralized states have generally conducted intensive repression of anarchist writing and propaganda, regardless of their orientation.
If Max Nettlau had established himself as a prominent figure in anarchist bibliography, he was to become even more prominent as the historian of anarchism during the period 1925-35. By 1931 he had published a three volume account of its development from early beginnings to 1886.14 Four years later he rounded out his survey of the entire field in a fourth volume, La Anarquia a traves de los Tiempos (Barcelona, 1935).
Nettlau's interest in the subject was no ephemeral fancy. No other person has approached his almost fifty years of persistent scholarship in this particular field.15 Although sympathetic to the doctrines of Kropotkin and Bakunin, he devoted some part of his work to a consideration of the influence of the Americans in the delineation of world anarchist thought. The absence of non-partisan diligence equal to that displayed by Nettlau has established his productions as the definitive treatment of the subject to this time, despite the fact that his last two volumes remain almost unknown in the United States. Numerous other studies by various French, German and Russian observers, of varying merit, have appeared over a fifty year period but few contain anything of value to the student of American anarchism in its individualist manifestations.16
It is significant that the first person to deem the study of anarchism in the United States worthy of a separate examination was a French student of economic and social history, Paul Ghio, later a professor of political economy at the University of Brussels. His L'Anarchisme aux Etats-Unis is valuable less for its presentation of American anarchism and its sources than for its examination of American industrial conditions as a force productive of unrest.17 Ghio's knowledge of American anarchist progenitors was of the most rudimentary kind. Moreover, his personal acquaintance18 with the then current prominent anti-state protagonists in the United States served to distort his perspective. This was particularly true with respect to the origins of American mutualism and individualism then receiving considerable attention in the radical press. In the main, however, Ghio's account is hardly more than an introduction to the subject.19
Other European students of radicalism had shown some interest in the purely American aspects of anarchist activity before the time of Ghio's introductory study; yet, extensive investigations of the whole field remained unattempted. Zoccoli, undertaking an examination of the revived interest among the American individualists in the vigorously egoistic writing of Max Stirner,20 the first large-scale survey of a particular part of anti-statist thought in the United States, was the lone exception. Like his later comprehensive critique, his I Gruppi Anarchici degli Stati Uniti e L'Opera di Max Stirner remains practically unknown.21
Despite pioneer research of this type there remained a large twilight zone penetrated by no more than two or three scholars until well into the twentieth century. Included under this head were the anarchist and allied equitist communities of the period from 1830 to 1870, already a lost episode in American history. This was hardly due to neglect on the part of those outside the movement. Much of it was due to the uncommunicativeness of the participants, seeking to avoid the attention of sensationalist newspapers and a scandal-loving public. Another prominent reason was the paucity of literature concerning the functioning of these unique settlements, which contained few of the literati commonly associated with the various contemporary Fourierist colonies.22 Early historians were not able, therefore, to properly estimate the significance of native anti-statism in American history, and little written since their original efforts varies from the conclusions first arrived at. The works of Richard T. Ely,23 Herbert L. Osgood,24 Charles Edward Merriam,25 when supplemented by the more exhaustive researches of the group of investigators headed by John R. Commons26 and the previously mentioned contributions of Nettlau, constitute practically the whole body of secondary materials on the subject.27
Biographical work of definitive quality on any of the nearly fifty individual anarchists whose published works appeared during the period 1825-1925 has yet to be done. William Bailie's uncritical Josiah Warren, The First American Anarchist,28 remains the only full scale attempt of this kind. It is marred by eulogistic treatment and use of too few source materials.29 Recent essays of biographical nature dealing with two other prominent men in the movement have also appeared,30 but in the larger sense this group of radicals has received little attention.
Labor historians have been aware of the existence and contributions of Warren and his associates in the field of radical economic reform proposals and experiments for some time, but rarely from a first-hand examination of his writings.31 John R. Commons has no doubt conducted the closest study of the influence of the ideas of the New England-born dissidents upon the American labor movement from the time of Andrew Jackson down to the end of Reconstruction. The results of his evaluations and those of his co-workers in the valuable History of Labor in the United States32 are useful but incomplete.
Observation of anarchism in the United States by students of and spokesmen for other segments of the radical movement has often been less objective than that of the more orthodox and conventional. The socialist Morris Hillquit offers an opportunity for scrutiny on this point. In his History of Socialism in the United States,33 Hillquit, as did the majority of his contemporaries, exaggerated the importance of Johann Most. The ideals and objectives of Most and the Germans for whom he was the spokesman have been uncritically accepted as those for which all American anarchists stood. It was as plain then as now, however, that Most could reach a limited audience at best, since he was limited to his native tongue in directly communicating ideas. The prominence of the Germans in the Haymarket affair tended to cloud over other considerations, and Hillquit, in a manner to the non-radical critics, participated in accepting and promoting this generalization. Anarchist membership and thought beyond the narrow scope of the struggle for power in the labor movement was something which he considered hardly worth a cursory glance. Heavy reliance on John Humphrey Noyes' History of American Socialisms for the beginnings of the non-political socialist communities had acquainted him with Robert Owen, the early group of equitists, and their labor exchange ideas. But Warren, the later group of mutualists and Tuckerite school of anarchist intellectuals were completely ignored.34 American individualist anarchism has received little sympathy or consideration from advocates of collectivism.35
Cultural and industrial integration have proceeded together in the United States. One of the principal non-material results has been a growing standardization of thought. This has been fostered by the centralized flow of information and communication, promoting an uniformity of response which has steadily grown more and more hostile to nonconformitism. The end product has been, in time of stress, a tendency to widespread hysteria, followed by castigation and persecution of all deviates. This blanket apprehension of divergence has an uncritical character which has had curious and lamentable implications.36 It is certain, nevertheless, that despite the tendency to accept the tastes and judgements of the majority without challenge as to evidence of superiority,37 an examination of American radicalism from other vantage points than that of purely external effect is worthy of effort. Most writers have taken this latter approach toward the less sensational phases of the radical movement, one of these being the origins and development of native American anarchist thought.38
Of considerable value from an internal viewpoint in understanding anarchism is the four volume L'Encyclopedie Anarchiste, edited by Sebastien Faure (Paris, n.d.). Some anarchist entries are contained in the following: Frederick B. Adams, Jr., Radical Literature in America (Stamford, Conn., 1939); Rena Reese, List of Books and Pamphlets in a Special Collection in the Library of the Workingmen's Institute, New Harmony, Ind. (New Harmony, Ind., 1909); Savel Zimand, Modern Social Movements; Descriptive Summaries and Bibliographies (New York, 1921). Some entries of interest to researchers in anarchist literature are to be found in Harold Lasswell, Ralph D. Casey, and Bruce Smith, Propaganda and Promotional Activities (Minneapolis, 1935). For a partial list of anarchist literature but valuable also as an indicator of allied sentiments found in contemporary poetry, drama and fiction, see B.R. Tucker's Unique Catalog of Advanced Literature (New York, 1906). See the statement by Zenker on this matter in Anarchism, 49. See note 4. Hamon's Psychologie de l'Anarchiste-Socialiste (Paris, 1895) should be used with caution. The greater part of Lombroso has been vitiated by recent research as well. Published originally in Jena, an English translation two years later had wide circulation. All citations are from this later edition. Zenker, Anarchism, 6, 211-141; Ernest C. F. Babelon, Encyclopedia Britannica, XI ed., I, 916-917, note. A French edition appeared in Paris in 1902, but no English translation was available until that of Steven T. Byington was published by Tucker (New York, 1908). Originally published in Turin in 1907, another Italian edition was published as recently as 1944 in Milan. A German translation of the first edition was available in Leipzig and Amsterdam in 1908 as Die Anarchie. Ihre Verkunden. Ihre Ideen. Ihre Taten.
In this volume Zoccoli dismissed Eltzbacher as a serious student of anarchism from the point of view of comprehension of source materials. He was unable to understand the latter's failure to know of Nettlau's exhaustive bibliographical work, nor why he referred to a sixteen page pamphlet as the only work "based on a comprehensive knowledge of the sources." L'Anarchia, introd., xxii; Eltzbacher, Anarchism, (1908 English transl.), 5. For the work of another Italian scholar in this field, see E. Sernicoli, L'Anarchia e gli Anarchici; Studio Storico e Politico (2 vols. Milan, 1894). Der Forfruhling der Anarchie, Ihre Historische Entwicklung den Anfangen bis zum Jahre 1864 (Berlin, 1925); Der Anarchismus von Proudhon zu Kropotkin; Seine Historishe Entwicklung in den Jahre 1859-1880 (Berlin, 1927); Anarchisten und Sozial-Revolutionare; die Historische Entwicklung des Anarchismus in den Jahren 1880-1886 (Berlin, 1931). Nettlau died in Amsterdam July 23, 1944. He lived in retirement, unmolested by the Nazis, although his anarchist writings were part of the literature proscribed by the Hitler regime. For details of his last days, see Nettlau MSS, Labadie Collection, General Library, University of Michigan, Annie Adama van Scheltema to Agnes Inglis, November 2, 1946. The former is the librarian of the International Institute for Social History in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Rudolf Stammler, Die Theorie des Anarchismus (Berlin, 1894); Georgii Valentinovich Plekhanov, Anarchism and Socialism (Chicago, 1908), a socialist critique; Felix Dubois, Le Peril Anarchiste (Paris, 1894); Alfred Naquet, L'Anarchie et le Collectivisme (Paris, 1904); Gustave de Lamarzelle, L'Anarchie dans le Monde Moderne (Paris, 1919). For others consult Nettlau, Bibliographie, 211-143; same author, Esbozo, 7; Zoccoli, L'Anarchia, introd., xvii-xxix. Ghio, L'Anarchisme, 21-55; same author, La Formation Historique de L'Economie Politique (Paris, 1923), 163. Ghio became acquainted with Tucker in New York. See his description of Tucker in L'Anarchisme, 80-81, 101-103.
Ghio later sent Tucker a copy of his book from Paris, including a warm note of appreciation on the fly-leaf. This particular volume was loaned to the writer for examination by the late Pearl Johnson Tucker. Nettlau went much further than Ghio in his delineation of American anarchist activity, although he never considered the individualist variety worthy of separate consideration in an extended work. The pseudonym of Johann Caspar Schmidt (1806-1856), whose Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (Leipzig, 1845), is doubtless the most vigorous statement of individualism in the Western literature. Translated by Byington, as was Eltzbacher's book, and published by Tucker (New York, 1907), under the title The Ego and His Own, it had a profound influence on many of the group. There is a revived interest in Stirner in post-war Europe. A French translation by Henri Lasvignes, L'Unique et Sa Propriete, appeared in Paris in 1948, while Zoccoli's study of Stirner was reprinted in Italy in 1944. Modena, 1901. For recent scholarship on the relations between American anarchists, Stirner, and Stirner's biographer, John Henry Mackay, see Thomas A. Riley, "New England Anarchism in Germany," in New England Quarterly, XVIII (March, 1945), 25-38; same author, "Anti-Statism in German Literature," in Modern Language Association of America Publications, LXII (September, 1947), 828-843. Josiah Warren was so apprehensive of publicity that he refused to state the location of the Ohio colony at Clermont, near Cincinnati, in his own publications. Eight and a half years after its founding he saw fit to remark, "Equity demands that every one have the disposal of his or her time, and the choice of their visitors and associates, but public notoriety to this place and the people would render both impossible. . . . I do not feel free to give publicity at present, to the name or locality of this place; but each citizen can invite such friends to his own house as he may see fit." The Periodical Letter on the Principles and Progress of the "Equity Movement," II (March, 1856), 46-47. The Labor Movement in America (New York, 1886). "Scientific Anarchism," in Political Science Quarterly, IV (March, 1889), 1-36. The Merriam thesis applying to anarchism in the United States described in the introduction can be found in a number of his representative works; see for example his A History of American Political Theories (New York, 1903); American Political Theories (New York, 1920); American Political Ideas; Studies in the Development of American Political Thought 1865-1917 (New York, 1920), and also Paul H. Douglas, "Proletarian Political Theory," in Charles Edward Merriam and Harry Elmer Barnes, eds., History of Political Theories (New York, 1924), 197-100. History of Labor in the United States (4 vols. New York, 1918-1935). Schuster, "Native American Anarchism," in Smith College Studies in History, cited above, draws heavily upon these authorities with respect to theory and documentation. Supplemented by original research, it remains, despite several errors, the only work of merit by an American on native anarchism.
The attempt to see anarchist thought in seventeenth century religious unorthodoxy is unsound. Anarchism, categorically rejecting arbitrary authority, is by nature an atheistic doctrine. For another theory of the origins of anarchism as understood by modern standards, see Gaetano Mosca, The Ruling Class, 271-173. Mosca sees anarchist and socialist thought and reform movements as developments from eighteenth and nineteenth century rationalism, not from any recognized religious emanations. Boston, 1906. See also Dorothy W. Douglas, article "Josiah Warren," in Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, XV, 364-365, based heavily upon Bailie. It remains virtually unrecognized that this book is the product of the research of an anarchist. Bailie, one of the group of literary philosophical egoists who made Liberty the best-known anarchist periodical in the English language at the turn of the century, was a pamphleteer of considerable merit in the cause. For example, see his essay, "The Anarchist Spirit," the introduction to his brief study of Warren's life, Josiah Warren, xi-xxxviii.
Bailie is also the author of the chapter dealing with Warren in George Browning Lockwood, The New Harmony Movement (Marion, Ind., 1902), an accomplishment which he is almost never credited with. Harvey Wish, "Stephen Pearl Andrews, American Pioneer Sociologist," in Social Forces, XIX (May, 1941), 477-482; Charles A. Madison, "Benjamin R. Tucker; Individualist and Anarchist," in New England Quarterly, XVI (September, 1943), 444-467. Minor treatments occur in Mary Ritter Beard, A Short History of the American Labor Movement (New York, 1928), and Selig Perlman, A History of Trade Unionism in the United States (New York, 1923). John R. Commons, Introduction, I, 14-11; David J. Saposs, "Colonial and Federal Beginnings to 1827," I, 95-99; Henry E. Hoagland, "Humanitarianism (1840-1860)," I, 494-556; John B. Andrews, "Nationalism (1860-1877)," II, 126-138; Selig Perlman, "Upheaval and Reorganization (Since 1876)," II, 204, 210.
The pre-occupation of most native political scientists with the externals of practical politics has caused them, as a rule, to ignore the growth of anarchist doctrines which have been the product of conditions distinctively American. The most able and original among a number of brief considerations are those of Charles Edward Merriam previously noted, and Raymond G. Gettell, History of American Political Thought (New York, 1928), 584-586.
The evaluation of anarchist beliefs from a political point of view results in the interpretation of paucity of numbers and political impotence as direct evidence of inferiority. This approach, along with the charge of visionary intellectualism, constitute the methods of which such un-ordinary thinking is consigned to obscurity. No satisfactory method has yet been employed to correctly determine the worth of the propositions which constitute what Herbert Read calls "the politics of the unpolitical." New York, 1906 Hillquit, History of Socialism, 230-152. The probable reason may have been the assumption that the individualist and Fourierite communities had an identical mode of operation. Harry W. Laidler, A History of Socialist Thought (New York, 1927), contains no development of anarchism in the United States, but does present a fair evaluation of the difference between anarchism and socialism. Of special value with reference to anarchist bibliography in works devoted primarily to socialism is Donald D. Egbert and Stow Persons, Socialism and American Life (2 vols. Princeton, 1952), II. This includes mention of a considerable number of standard works applying to anarchism in the United States, but includes no significant additions not mentioned in Stammhammer and Nettlau, and suffers from the lack of inclusion of the numerous small periodicals of the anarchist press.
Anarchism was by no means ignored by the socialist, however. A vast amount of criticism can be observed in the press of the socialist groups after 1880 in particular, with Laurance Gronlund and the Christian Socialist William D. P. Bliss prominent among the critics. Albert Weisbord, Communist labor leader of the 1920's, saw little difference between the advocacy of Warren's principles and the arrangements existing in the conventional capitalist economy. See his extensive Conquest of Power (2 vols. New York, 1937), I, 225-136. This was substantially the verdict of Marx in condemning the teachings of Proudhon, Warren's French contemporary, as the outlook of the "petty bourgeois." A current sympathetic survey incorporating this approach is Jacob Salwyn Schapiro, "Pierre Joseph Proudhon, Harbinger of Fascism," in American Historical Review, L (July, 1945), 714-737, and the same author's Liberalism and the Challenge of Fascism (New York, 1949), 332-369. See as well the severely critical review of Schapiro's article by Nicola Chiaromonte, "P. J. Proudhon an Uncomfortable Thinker," in Politics, III (January, 1946), 27-19, and the unfavorable evaluation of the Schapiro thesis by Philip Taft, Movements for Economic Reform (New York, 1950), 109. An early defense of Proudhon against such charges is Arthur Mulberger, "Karl Marx, Das Elend der Philosophie," in Jahrbucher fur Nationalokonomie und Statistik, LIX (Jena, 1892), 536-545. This article was translated by George Schumm and published under the title "Marx vs. Proudhon," in Liberty, IX (April 29, 1893), 1-3. Anarchist circles have tended to regard Marxism in its political manifestations as deeply reactionary, including in this matter the Communist Manifesto itself. Of considerable interest relating to this is G. P. Maximov, The Guillotine at Work, Twenty Years of Terror in Russia (Chicago, 1940), 19-10. The deportations of anarchists to Soviet Russia, where hostility to their doctrines was even more extreme than in the United States, is one incident that stands out. For their subsequent mistreatment, imprisonment and execution see Andre Gide, Communist and Co-Operative Colonies (New York, 1928), 155-157, the previously cited work of Maximov, and the celebrated autobiography of Emma Goldman, Living My Life (2 vols. New York, 1931). For other aspects of this matter as dealt with by generally ignored anarchist writers, consult Emma Goldman, My Disillusionment in Russia (New York, 1923); same author, My Further Disillusionment in Russia (New York, 1924); Alexander Berkman, The Bolshevik Myth (New York, 1925); and the voluminous La Revolution Inconnue (1917-1921), Documentation Inedite sur la Revolution Russe (Paris, 1947). This was written by Vsevolod Mikhailovitch Eichenbaum, better known as Voline in anarchist circles, and published through the efforts of his friends after his death in 1945. (Now in English translation; 2 vols., New York, 1954-55). For a provocative discussion of ochlocratic tendencies in aspects of majority rule, despite its aristocratic bias, see Francis Stuart Campbell, The Menace of the Herd (Milwaukee, 1943). Ralph H. Gabriel, The Course of American Democratic Thought (New York, 1940); Merle Curti, The Growth of American Thought (New York, 1943); Herbert W. Schneider, A History of American Philosophy (New York, 1946), contain faint references to the presence of native anarchist tendencies. The highly regarded work of Alice Felt Tyler, Freedom's Ferment, Phases of American Social History to 1860, omits accounts of the anarchist colonies in Ohio and New York. The numerous publications of New England anarchists find no mention in major studies by Vernon Lewis Parrington and Van Wyck Brooks, although the highly original character of the early efforts of Warren and Spooner has been observed by Edwin R. A. Seligman; see "Economists," The Cambridge History of American Literature (3 vols. New York, 1921), III, 437. A partial survey of the economic propositions of the American anarchists can be found in Joseph Dorfman, The Economic Mind in American Civilization (3 vols. New York, 1946-1949), II, 671-678. The bibliography of books concerned with American political theory or with the social, economic, or intellectual history of the United States which fail to deal with anarchism is impressive.
The place and date of publication of most recent editions of individualist anarchist books have been noted in either the bibliography or in appropriate notes in this edition; the stepped-up interest in these works is especially noticeable in the 1960s.
Of recent works not mentioned elsewhere but of substantial bibliographical merit is Leonard Krimerman and Lewis Perry (eds.), Patterns of Anarchy (New York, 1966).
The London journals Anarchy (1961- ) and Minus One (1961- ) and of course the London weekly Freedom are exceptional for bibliographical assistance for the most recent decade. A file of such journals as Individual Action and The Struggle would be extremely useful for the years following the first edition of this book.
The most substantial bibliographical help undoubtedly would be the Bulletins of the Centre International de Rechereches sur l'Anarchisme located in Geneva, Switzerland.
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