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Anarchism A Criticism and History of the Anarchist Theory   By: (1865-)

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G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS NEW YORK AND LONDON The Knickerbocker Press 1897


The Knickerbocker Press, New York


On the day of the bomb outrage in the French Parliament I gave an impromptu discourse upon Anarchism to an intelligent audience anxious to know more about it, touching upon its intellectual ancestry, its doctrines, propaganda, the lines of demarcation that separate it from Socialism and Radicalism, and so forth. The impression which my explanations of it made upon my audience was at the same time flattering and yet painful to me. I felt almost ashamed that I had told these men, who represented the pick of the middle class political electorate, something entirely new to them in speaking of matters which, considering their reality and the importance of the question, ought to be familiar to every citizen. Having thus had my attention drawn to this lacuna in the public mind, I was induced to make a survey of the most diverse circles of the political and Socialist world, both of readers and writers, and the result was the resolve to extend my previous studies of Anarchism (which had not extended much beyond the earliest theorists), and to develop my lecture into a book. This book I now present to my readers.

The accomplishment of my resolve has been far from easy. What little literature exists upon the subject of Anarchism is almost exclusively hostile to it, which is a great drawback for one who is seeking not the objects of a partisan, but simply and solely the truth. One had constantly to gaze, so to speak, through a forest of prejudices and errors in order to discover the truth like a little spot of blue sky above. In this respect I found it mattered little whether I applied to the press, or to the so called scientific Socialists, or to fluent pamphleteers.

"In vielen Worten wenig Klarheit, Ein Fünkchen Witz und keine Wahrheit."[1]

[1] Many words, but little light; a spark of wit, but no truth.

Laveleye, for instance, does not even know of Proudhon; for him Bakunin is the only representative of Anarchism and the most characteristic; Socialism, Nihilism, and Anarchism mingle together in wild confusion in the mind of this social historian. Garin, who wrote a big book, entitled The Anarchists , is not acquainted with a single Anarchist author, except some youthful writings of Proudhon's and a few agitationist placards and manifestoes of the modern period. The result of this ignorance is that he identifies Anarchism completely with Collectivism, and carries his ridiculous ignorance so far as to connect the former Austrian minister Schäffle, who was then the chief adviser of Count Hohenwart, in some way or other with the Anarchists. Professor Enrico Ferri, again, exposes his complete ignorance of the question at issue sufficiently by branding Herbert Spencer as an Anarchist. In fact, the only work that can be called scientifically useful is the short article on "Anarchism" in the Cyclopædia of Political Science , from the pen of Professor George Adler. All pamphlets, articles, and essays which have since appeared on the same subject are, conveniently but uncritically, founded upon this short but excellent essay of Adler's. Since the extraordinary danger of Anarchist doctrines is firmly fixed as a dogma in the minds of the vast majority of mankind, it is apparently quite unnecessary to obtain any information about its real character in order to pronounce a decided, and often a decisive, judgment upon it... Continue reading book >>

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