Anarchism/Anti-State

160 Years of Libertarian Writers

An interesting discussion of historic anarchism, including an interesting, occasionally insightful, but IMO overly negative critique of Murray Rothbard.

Anarchist Writers

Many men, I know, speak of liberty without understanding it; they know neither the science of it, nor even the sentiment. They see in the demolition of reigning Authority nothing but a substitution of names or persons; they don’t imagine that a society could function without masters or servants, without chiefs and soldiers; in this they are like those reactionaries who say: ‘There are always rich and poor, and there always will be. What would become of the poor without the rich? They would die of hunger!’ – Joseph Déjacque (Down with the Bosses!, 5)

 

Many men, I know, speak of liberty without understanding it; they know neither the science of it, nor even the sentiment. They see in the demolition of reigning Authority nothing but a substitution of names or persons; they don’t imagine that a society could function without masters or servants, without chiefs and soldiers; in this they are like those reactionaries who say: ‘There are always rich and poor, and there always will be. What would become of the poor without the rich? They would die of hunger!’ – Joseph Déjacque (Down with the Bosses!, 5)

In 2008, we marked the 150th anniversary of the use of the word “libertarian” by anarchists (“150 Years of Libertarian,” Freedom 69, 23-4). It recounted how, between 1858 and 1861, French exile and communist-anarchist Joseph Déjacque published the journal La Libertaire, Journal du Mouvement Social in New York. (Max Nettlau, A Short History of Anarchism, 75-6) It also sketched anarchist use of the term from that date onwards.

However, the previous year – 1857 – saw the first actual use of the word in the modern sense – libertaire – in an Open Letter he wrote to Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, the first person to self-proclaim as an anarchist in 1840’s seminal What is Property?. It is of note beyond the coining of libertarian. First, Déjacque’s challenging of Proudhon’s sexism and his argument that support for patriarchy is in contradiction to Proudhon’s own stated principles. Second, the extension of Proudhon’s critique of property beyond his market socialism to communist conclusions, predating the rise of anarchist-communism in the First International by over twenty years.

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Categories: Anarchism/Anti-State

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