Anarchism in the United States

Anarchism in the United States

Anarchism in the United States spans a wide range of anarchist philosophy, from individualist anarchism to anarchist communism and other less known forms. America has two main traditions, native and immigrant, with the native tradition being strongly individualist and the immigrant tradition being collectivist and anarcho-communist.[1] Influential American anarchists include Josiah Warren, Henry David Thoreau, Lysander Spooner, Lucy Parsons, Murray Rothbard, Benjamin Tucker, Voltairine de Cleyre, Johann Most, Luigi Galleani, Emma Goldman, Alexander Berkman, social ecologist Murray Bookchin, Paul Goodman, linguist Noam Chomsky and John Zerzan.

The first American anarchist publication was The Peaceful Revolutionist, edited by Josiah Warren, whose earliest experiments and writings predate Pierre Proudhon.


Indigenous anarchism

In general, Indigenous anarchism describes the majority of pre-Columbian native North American societies as anarchist in structure and function. Such claims are easiest to document among Indigenous peoples in some parts of what is now California, but the Iroquois League, the Mohawk Federation, and many other indigenous tribal governing structures throughout North America have been described as anarchist in structure. Despite this, some Native groups were far from an anarchist ideal; the Mississippian[citation needed], Aztec, Inca, and Maya cultures were clearly statist.

More recently, many participants in the American Indian Movement have described themselves as anarchist and cooperation between anarchist and Indigenous groups has been a key feature of movements such as the Minnehaha Free State in Minneapolis, Minnesota - (which is built on an Ojibwa Reservation) - and at Big Mountain.

Outside of indigenous communities, green anarchists have been the most vocal in declaring solidarity with ongoing indigenous struggles, but social anarchists in general are supportive as well.[citation needed]

Individualist anarchism

Native anarchism in the United States has a long pedigree that begins with the antinomian controversy in Puritan New England.[2] Some consider the first anarchist in America to be Anne Hutchinson (1591–1643), a proto-feminist individualist.[3][4]

The U.S., with its tradition of radical individualism, which is "enshrined in the Declaration of Independence", was a congenial environment for individualist anarchism.[5] Josiah Warren cited the Declaration of Independence and Benjamin Tucker said that "Anarchists are simply unterrified Jeffersonian Democrats." In 1833 Josiah Warren began publishing "the first explicitly anarchist newspaper in the United States",[6] called "The Peaceful Revolutionist." According to Rudolph Rocker, the American individualist anarchists were "influenced in their intellectual development much more by the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence than by those of any of the representatives of libertarian socialism in Europe. They were all 'one hundred percent American' by descent, and almost all of them were born in the New England states. As a matter of fact, this school of thought had found literary expression in America before any modern radical movements were even thought of in Europe."[7]

Beginning in 1881, Benjamin Tucker began publishing "Liberty," which was a forum to propagate individualist anarchist ideas. By that time, anarcho-communism and propaganda by the deed was arriving in America, "both of which Tucker detested."[8] Tucker criticized the immigrant anarcho-communist Alexander Berkman's attempt to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, saying "The hope of humanity lies in the avoidance of that revolution by force which the Berkmans are trying to precipitate. No pity for Frick, no praise for Berkman such is the attitude of Liberty in the present crisis."[9]

By the twentieth century, individualist anarchism in America was in decline. It was later revived by Murray Rothbard and the anarcho-capitalists in the mid-twentieth century.[10][11]

According to Carlotta Anderson:

" is logical that the concept of individualist anarchism reached its fullest expression in the United States, where individual rights and liberty were valued as never before. Developing from these values came a pervasive suspicion, even hostility toward centralized authority, and anti-statism of an intensity found nowhere else in the world."[12]

Social anarchism

Social anarchism in the contemporary United States has roots tracing back to well before the American Civil War. Early leaders included Albert Parsons, his wife Lucy Parsons, along with many immigrants who brought their radicalism with them such as Johann Most, Emma Goldman, and Big Bill Haywood,[citation needed] and many others. Their influence on the early American labor movement was dramatic, with the execution of Albert Parsons and the other Haymarket Martyrs providing a key rallying cry for the early American labor movement and spurring the creation of radical unions throughout the country. The largest - the Industrial Workers of the World, was founded in 1905.[13] Swedish-American musician Joe Hill is also one of the most famous social anarchist protest singers to have ever lived.

Social anarchism includes anarcho-communism, anarcho-syndicalism, libertarian socialism, and other forms of anarchism that take the creation of social goods as their first priority.[citation needed]

Insurrectionary anarchism

Insurrectionary anarchism is a revolutionary theory, practice, and tendency within the anarchist movement that opposes formal anarchist organizations such as labor unions and federations that are based on a political program and periodic congresses. Instead, insurrectionary anarchists advocate direct action (violent or otherwise), informal organization, including small affinity groups and mass organizations that include non-anarchist individuals of the exploited or excluded class.

Many anarchist communists, such as the publishers of Barricada magazine in the United States and foreign immigrants to the US such as Luigi Galleani and Johann Most have been insurrectionary anarchists.[14]

Re-emergence of anarchism in the U.S.

Anarchism dwindled into obscurity until the 1960s when it resurfaced and then "shattered into various anarchist splinters. These ranged from Anarcho-Capitalists who desired the organization of society solely on the basis of a free market to Anarcho-Communists who sought an individualized society of decentralized communes."[15] Anarchism started making a comeback in the United States in the early 1960s, primarily through the influence of the Beat artists.[16] Later in the 1960s, activists such as Abbie Hoffman and the Diggers identified with anarchism and were notable for the spectacular ways they put anarchist ideas into practice.[citation needed] In the late 60s, Murray Rothbard and Karl Hess began to call themselves anarchists and published Left and Right: A Journal of Libertarian Thought. In 1969, The Match!, which bills itself as a "Journal of Ethical Anarchism" began publication by anarchist without adjectives Fred Woodworth and has published continuously since then.

In the 1970s, anarchist ideas caught on in the anti-nuclear, feminist, and environmental movements. Murray Bookchin was a widely read anarchist thinker whose books on the environment were influential on the environmental movement. Anarchist tactics such as the affinity group were adopted by women involved in the radical feminist movement.

Anarchists became more visible in the 1980s, as a result of publishing, protests and conventions. In 1980, the First International Symposium on Anarchism was held in Portland, Oregon.[17] In 1986, the Haymarket Remembered conference was held in Chicago,[18] to observe the centennial of the infamous Haymarket Riot. This conference was followed by annual, continental conventions in Minneapolis (1987), Toronto (1988), and San Francisco (1989).

Recently there has been a resurgence in anarchist ideals in the United States.[19] In the 1990s, a group of anarchists formed the Love and Rage Network, which was one of several new groups and projects formed in the U.S. during the decade.[19] American anarchists increasingly became noticeable at protests, especially through a tactic known as the Black bloc. U.S. anarchists became more prominent in 1999 as a result of the anti-WTO protests in Seattle.[19]

In the wake of hurricane Katrina, anarchist activists have been visible as founding members of the Common Ground Collective.[20][21]

Notable anarchists

Josiah Warren

Josiah Warren published a periodical called The Peaceful Revolutionist in 1833, which some believe to be the first anarchist newspaper. Warren had participated in a failed collectivist experiment headed by Robert Owen called "New Harmony," but was disappointed in its failure. He stressed the need for individual sovereignty. In True Civilization Warren equates "Sovereignty of the Individual" with the Declaration of Independence's assertion of the inalienable rights. He claims that every person has an "instinct" for individual sovereignty, making individual rights inalienable and inviolate.

Basing his economics on the labor theory of value, Warren's economic principle was "cost the limit of price," with "cost" referring to the amount of labor incurred in producing a commodity and bringing it to market. He opposed what he called "value the limit of price," where prices paid are determined simply by subjective valuation irrespective of labor costs, as being inequitable or unfair.[22] In 1827, Warren put his theories into practice by starting a business called the Cincinnati Time Store where the trade of goods was facilitated by private currency denominated in hours of labor. Warren was a strong supporter of the right of individuals to retain the product of their labor as private possessions. This position was shared by fellow anarchist Stephen Pearl Andrews.

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau (July 12, 1817– May 6, 1862; was an American author, development critic, naturalist, transcendentalist, pacifist, tax resister and philosopher who is famous for Walden, on simple living amongst nature, and Civil Disobedience.[23] In 1849, Henry David Thoreau wrote "I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least'; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe– 'That government is best which governs not at all'; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which we will have." Although Thoreau never labeled himself an "anarchist," he has been regarded to be an individualist anarchist.[24][25]

William B. Greene

William Batchelder Greene (1819–1878) was an author, soldier, currency reformer, individualist anarchist, Unitarian minister and philosopher, active in transcendentalist circles. In works such as Equality (1849) and Mutual Banking (1850) he synthesized the work of French socialists such as P.-J. Proudhon and Pierre Leroux with that of American currency reformers such as William Beck and Edward Kellogg. The result was a unique form of Christian mutualism, which attempted to harmonize elements of capitalism, communism and socialism. Greene was later involved with the New England Labor Reform League, and with the anti-death penalty work of The Prisoner's Friend. He was a regular contributor to Ezra Heywood's The Word until his death. William B. Greene's mutualistic economic philosophy resembles the economic philosophy of the earlier French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the economic system of the land banks that existed in the United States during the colonial period.[26][27]

Albert and Lucy Parsons

Lucy Parsons.

Albert Richard Parsons (June 20, 1848 - November 11, 1887) was an anarchist labor activist, who was convicted of conspiracy and hanged following a bomb attack on police at the Haymarket Riot. It was in Chicago that Parsons developed his anarchist ideas, became a labor activist, and eventually became a founding member of the International Working People's Association (IWPA). When he first came to Chicago, he found a job as a writer for the Times. Later in 1877, as a result of his becoming an outspoken supporter of worker's rights, he lost his position at the Times and was blacklisted by the industry altogether. Police Superintendent Michael Hickey told Parsons to leave Chicago during this time because his life was in danger. He then became devoted completely to his new anarchist ideas in favor of workers' rights and especially the eight-hour work day labor movement.

In addition to his involvement in the IWPA, Parsons was also involved with the Knights of Labor during its embryonic period. Parsons joined the Knights of Labor, known then as "The Noble and Holy Order of the Knights of Labor," on July 4, 1876. At the time Parsons joined, the Knights of Labor was just a small fraternal organization with elaborate rituals, most of them copied from the Masons.

Lucy Parsons (1853-March 7, 1942), the widow of Albert Parsons, was a radical American labor organizer, anarchist communist, and is remembered as a powerful orator. A founder of the Industrial Workers of the World in 1905, Parsons was described by the Chicago Police Department as "more dangerous than a thousand rioters" in the 1920s, Lucy Parsons and her husband had become highly effective anarchist organizers primarily involved in the labor movement in the late 19th century, but also participating in revolutionary activism on behalf of political prisoners, people of color, the homeless and women. She began writing for The Socialist and The Alarm, the journal of the International Working People's Association (IWPA), which she and Parsons, among others, founded in 1883. In 1892 she briefly published Freedom: A Revolutionary Anarchist-Communist Monthly, and was often arrested for giving public speeches or distributing anarchist literature. While she continued championing the anarchist cause, she came into ideological conflict with some of her contemporaries, including Emma Goldman, over her focus on class politics over gender and sexual struggles.

Stephen Pearl Andrews

Stephen Pearl Andrews

Stephen Pearl Andrews was an individualist anarchist and close associate of Josiah Warren. Andrews was formerly associated with the Fourierist movement, but converted to radical individualism after becoming acquainted with the work of Warren. Like Warren, he held the principle of "individual sovereignty" as being of paramount importance.

Andrews said that when individuals act in their own self-interest, they incidentally contribute to the well-being of others. He maintained that it is a "mistake" to create a "state, church or public morality" that individuals must serve rather than pursuing their own happiness. In Love, Marriage and Divorce, and the Sovereignty of the Individual he says: "Give up...the search after the remedy for the evils of government in more government. The road lies just the other way--toward individualism and freedom from all government...Nature made individuals, not nations; and while nations exist at all, the liberties of the individual must perish."

Warren and Andrews established the individualist anarchist colony called "Modern Times" on Long Island, NY. In tribute to Andrews, Benjamin Tucker said: "Anarchist especially will ever remember and honor him because he has left behind him the ablest English book ever written in defense of Anarchist principles" (Liberty, III, 2).

Lysander Spooner

Lysander Spooner was an individualist anarchist who apparently worked with little association with the other individualists of the time, but came to approximately the same conclusions. In this time, his philosophy evolved from appearing to support a limited role for the state to opposing its existence altogether. Spooner was a staunch advocate of "natural law," maintaining that each individually has a "natural right" to be free to do as one wishes as long as he refrains from initiating coercion on others or their property.

With this natural law came the right of contract, which Spooner found of extreme importance. He holds that government cannot create law, as law already exists naturally; anything government does that is not in accordance with natural law (coercion) is illegal. Maintaining that government does not exist by contract of every individual it claims to govern, he came to believe that government itself is in violation of natural law, as it finances its activities through taxation of those who have not contracted with it. He rejected the popular idea that a majority, in the case of democracy, can consent on behalf of a minority; as a majority is bound to the same natural law against coercion to which individuals are bound: "...if the majority, however large, or the people enter into a contract of government called a constitution by which they...destroy or invade the natural rights of any person or persons whatsoever, this contract of government is unlawful and void" (The Unconstitutionality of Slavery). Spooner was also a strong advocate of entrepreneurship, advising others to start their own businesses to avoid sharing profits with an employer. He believed this could be made easier if the government de-regulated banking and money, which he believed would keep interest rates low except for high risk borrowers.

Ezra Heywood

Ezra Heywood was another individualist anarchist influenced by Warren, who was an ardent slavery abolitionist and feminist. Heywood saw what he believed to be a disproportionate concentration of capital in the hands of a few as the result of a selective extension of government-backed privileges to certain individuals and organizations.

He said: "Government is a northeast wind, drifting property into a few aristocratic heaps, at the expense of altogether too much democratic bare ground. Through cunning legislation, ... privileged classes are allowed to steal largely according to law."

He believed that there should be no profit in rent of buildings. He did not oppose rent, but believed that if the building was fully paid for that it was improper to charge more than what is necessary for transfer costs, insurance, and repair of deterioration that occurs during the occupation by the tenant. He even asserted that it may be encumbent on the owner of the building to pay rent to the tenant if the tenant keeps his residency in such a condition that saved it from deterioration if it was otherwise unoccupied. Whereas, Warren, Andrews, and Greene supported ownership of unused land, Heywood believed that title to unused land was a great evil. Heywood's philosophy was instrumental in furthering individualist anarchist ideas through his extensive pamphleteering and reprinting of works of Warren and Greene.

Benjamin Tucker

Benjamin Tucker, being influenced by Warren (whom he credits as being his "first source of light"), Greene, Heywood, Proudhon's mutualism, and Stirner's egoism, is probably the most famous of the American individualists. Tucker defined anarchism as "the doctrine that all the affairs of men should be managed by individuals or voluntary associations, and that the State should be abolished" (State Socialism and Anarchism).

Like the individualists he was influenced by, he rejected the notion of society being a thing that has rights, insisting that only individuals can have rights. And, like all anarchists, he opposed the governmental practice of democracy, as it allows a majority to decide for a minority. Tucker's main focus, however, was on economics. He opposed profit, believing that it is only made possible by the "suppression or restriction of competition" by government and vast concentration of wealth.

He believed that restriction of competition was accomplished by the establishment of four "monopolies": the banking/money monopoly, the land monopoly, the tariff monopoly, and the patent and copyright monopoly - the most harmful of these, according to him, being the money monopoly. He believed that restrictions on who may enter the banking business and issue currency, as well as protection of unused land, were responsible for wealth being concentrated in the hands of a privileged few.

Johann Most

Johann Most (February 5, 1846 – March 17, 1906) was a German-American anarchist and orator, who in the late 19th century began to advocate the use of violence to achieve revolutionary political and social change. He is best known for popularizing the strategy of "propaganda of the deed," which promoted direct action against individuals or institutions (including the use of violence) to force revolutionary change and inspire further action by others.

Encouraged by news of labor struggles and industrial disputes in the United States, Most emigrated himself, and promptly began agitating in his adopted land among other German émigrés. He resumed the publication of Die Freiheit in New York. He was imprisoned in 1886, again in 1887, and in 1902, the last time for two months for publishing after the assassination of President McKinley an editorial in which he argued that it was no crime to kill a ruler.

Most was famous for stating the concept of the Attentat: "The existing system will be quickest and most radically overthrown by the annihilation of its exponents. Therefore, massacres of the enemies of the people must be set in motion."[28] Most is best-known for a pamphlet published in 1885: The Science of Revolutionary Warfare: A Little Handbook of Instruction in the Use and Preparation of Nitroglycerine, Dynamite, Gun-Cotton, Fulminating Mercury, Bombs, Fuses, Poisons, Etc., Etc. This earned him the moniker "Dynamost." A gifted orator, Most propagated these ideas throughout Marxist and anarchist circles in the United States and attracted many adherents, most notably Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman.

Joseph Labadie

Joseph Labadie was an American labor organizer, individualist anarchist, social activist, printer, publisher, essayist, and poet. He first joined the Socialist Labor Party in Detroit at the age of 27. In 1883, disenchanted with socialism, Labadie embraced individualist anarchism. He became closely allied with Benjamin Tucker, the country's foremost exponent of that doctrine, and frequently wrote for the latter's publication, "Liberty." Without the oppression of the state, Labadie believed, humans would choose to harmonize with "the great natural laws...without robbing [their] fellows through interest, profit, rent and taxes." However, his opposition to the State was not complete, as he supported government control of water utilities, streets, and railroads (Martin). Although he did not support the militant anarchism of the Haymarket anarchists, he fought for the clemency of the accused because he did not believe they were the perpetrators.

In 1888, Labadie organized the Michigan Federation of Labor, became its first president, and forged an alliance with Samuel Gompers. At age fifty he began writing verse and publishing artistic hand-crafted booklets. In 1908, the city postal inspector banned his mail because it bore stickers with anarchist quotations. A month later the Detroit water board, where he was working as a clerk, dismissed him for expressing anarchist sentiments. In both cases, the officials were forced to back down in the face of massive public protest for the person well-known in Detroit as its "Gentle Anarchist".

Voltairine de Cleyre

Voltairine de Cleyre (November 17, 1866–June 20, 1912) was an individualist anarchist for several years before rejecting that label to embrace the philosophy of anarchism without adjectives. In explaining her views on anarchism she said: "Anarchism...teaches the possibility of a society in which the needs of life may be fully supplied for all, and in which the opportunities for complete development of mind and body shall be the heritage of all... teaches that the present unjust organization of the production and distribution of wealth must finally be completely destroyed, and replaced by a system which will insure to each the liberty to work, without first seeking a master to whom he must surrender a tithe of his product, which will guarantee his liberty of access to the sources and means of production... Out of the blindly submissive, it makes the discontented; out of the unconsciously dissatisfied, it makes the consciously dissatisfied... Anarchism seeks to arouse the consciousness of oppression, the desire for a better society, and a sense of the necessity for unceasing warfare against capitalism and the State."[29]

De Cleyre was held in high esteem by many anarchists. Emma Goldman called her "the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced", and de Cleyre argued in Goldman's defense after Goldman was imprisoned for urging the hungry to expropriate food. In this speech, she condoned a right to take food when hungry but stopped short of advocating it: "I do not give you that advice... not that I do not think one little bit of sensitive human flesh is worth all the property rights in New York City... I say it is your business to decide whether you will starve and freeze in sight of food and clothing, outside of jail, or commit some overt act against the institution of property and take your place beside Timmermann and Goldman."

Her stance as an individualist versus a collectivist is controversial, with both sides claiming her as an adherent. In an 1894 article defending Emma Goldman, she states, "Miss Goldman is a communist; I am an individualist." Conversely, in a 1911 article entitled "The Mexican Revolution" she wrote that "The communistic customs of these people are very interesting and very instructive too...," in regards to Mexican Indian revolutionaries. Similarly, she instructs in "Why I am an Anarchist," that "the best thing ordinary workingmen or women could do was to organize their industry to get rid of money altogether . . . Let them produce together, co-operatively rather than as employer and employed; let them fraternize group by group, let each use what he needs of his own product, and deposit the rest in the storage-houses, and let those others who need goods have them as occasion arises." When she embraced "anarchism without adjectives", de Cleyre reasoned that: "Socialism and Communism both demand a degree of joint effort and administration which would beget more regulation than is wholly consistent with ideal Anarchism; Individualism and Mutualism, resting upon property, involve a development of the private policeman not at all compatible with my notion of freedom."

Luigi Galleani

Luigi Galleani

Luigi Galleani (1861 – November 4, 1931) was a 20th century anarchist best known for inspiring and advocating series of deadly bombings in the United States in 1919. Galleani is best described as an anarchist communist and an insurrectionary anarchist.

The activities of Galleani and his group centered around the promotion of a radical and violent form of anarchism, ostensibly by speeches, newsletters, labor agitation, political protests, and secret meetings. However, many of Galleani's followers used bombs and other violent means, practices Galleani encouraged, but never participated in. With the assistance of a friendly chemist and explosives expert, Professor Ettore Molinari, Galleani authored the booklet La Salute è in voi! (Health is in You!) a 46-page explicit guide to on bomb-making. The New York City Bomb Squad considered it accurate and practical, though Galleani made an error, corrected only in 1908, that resulted in one or more premature explosions.

Emma Goldman

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869– May 14, 1940) was Lithuanian born, but she immigrated to the United States at seventeen. Goldman played a pivotal role in the development of anarchism in the US and Europe throughout the first half of the twentieth century, and was a major contributor to the contemporary trade union and feminism movements in the US. She was imprisoned in 1893 at Blackwell's Island penitentiary for publicly urging unemployed workers that they should "Ask for work. If they do not give you work, ask for bread. If they do not give you work or bread, take bread."

Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman in 1917

She was convicted of "inciting a riot" by a criminal court of New York, despite the testimonies of twelve witnesses in her defense. The jury based their verdict on the testimony of one individual, a Detective Jacobs. Voltairine de Cleyre gave the lecture In Defense of Emma Goldman as a response to this imprisonment. She was later deported to Russia for criticizing the US government during World War I (especially for the draft), where she witnessed the results of the Russian Revolution. Emma Goldman became one of the most prominent and respected representatives of anarchist communism worldwide.

Alexander Berkman

Alexander Berkman (21 November 1870 - 28 June 1936) was a Russian writer and activist who, in 1892, attempted to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, a wealthy industrialist involved in a bitter dispute with steelworkers in Homestead, Pennsylvania, in the belief that a violent act was needed to electrify the anarchist movement. He was arrested, convicted of attempted murder and sentenced to twenty-two years' imprisonment, of which he served fourteen years, many of them in solitary confinement (an account of which is contained in his book Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist).

Upon regaining his freedom, Berkman– shattered and physically broken– joined Emma Goldman as one of the leading figures of the anarchist movement in the US. He was deported alongside Goldman and, with her, led the libertarian critique of the Soviet Communist Party, denouncing what they saw as the betrayal of the revolution. While they helped persuade the main organizations of the international anarchist and anarcho-syndicalist movement not to participate in the Third International controlled by the Russians, their impact on the wider world was only partially successful.

Albert Jay Nock

Albert Jay Nock (October 13, 1870 - August 19, 1945) was an influential American individualist anarchist, libertarian author, educational theorist, and social critic of the early and middle 20th century. He was editor of the first version of The Freeman magazine, and author of many works, including Our Enemy, the State, often cited by modern intellectuals and pundits like Murray Rothbard as a pivotal example of the ideology of individual liberty. Albert Jay Nock, a self described "philosophical anarchist", called for a laissez faire vision of society free from the influence of the political state. He described the state as that which "claims and exercises the monopoly of crime". He opposed centralization, regulation, the income tax, and mandatory education, along with what he saw as the degradation of society. He denounced in equal terms all forms of totalitarianism, including "Bolshevism, Fascism, Hitlerism, Marxism, [and] Communism", but was also harshly critical of democracy. Nock argued instead that, "[t]he practical reason for freedom is that freedom seems to be the only condition under which any kind of substantial moral fiber can be developed– we have tried law, compulsion and authoritarianism of various kinds, and the result is nothing to be proud of."[30]

Sacco and Vanzetti

Bartolomeo Vanzetti (left) and Nicola Sacco (right)

Nicola Sacco (April 22, 1891– August 23, 1927) and Bartolomeo Vanzetti (June 11, 1888– August 23, 1927) were two Italian-born American anarchists, influenced by Luigi Galleani, who were arrested, tried, and executed by electrocution in the American state of Massachusetts. Sacco and Vanzetti were accused of killing Frederick Parmenter, a shoe factory paymaster, and Alessandro Berardelli, a security guard, and of robbery of $15,766.51 from the factory's payroll on April 15, 1920. Both Sacco and Vanzetti had alibis, but they were the only people accused of the crime. As a result of what many historians feel was a blatant disregard for political civil liberties and strong anti-Italian prejudice, Sacco and Vanzetti were denied a retrial. Judge Webster Thayer, who heard the case, allegedly described the two as "anarchist bastards". The song "Two good men" by Woody Guthrie recounts the tale.

Ammon Hennacy

Ammon Hennacy (July 24, 1893 – January 14, 1970) was an American pacifist, Christian anarchist, vegetarian, social activist, member of the Catholic Worker Movement and a Wobbly. He established the "Joe Hill House of Hospitality" in Salt Lake City, Utah and practiced tax resistance.

Enrico Arrigoni

Enrico Arrigoni (pseudonym: Frank Brand) was an Italian American individualist anarchist Lathe operator, house painter, bricklayer, dramatist and political activist influenced by the work of Max Stirner[31][32]. He took the pseudonym "Brand" from a fictional character in one of Henrik Ibsen´s plays[33]. In the 1910s he started becoming involved in anarchist and anti-war activism around Milan[34]. From the 1910s until the 1920s he participated in anarchist activities and popular uprisings in various countries including Switzerland, Germany, Hungary, Argentina and Cuba[35]. He lived from the 1920s onwards in New York City and there he edited the individualist anarchist eclectic journal Eresia in 1928. He also wrote for other american anarchist publications such as L' Adunata dei refrattari, Cultura Obrera, Controcorrente and Intessa Libertaria[36]. During the Spanish Civil War, he went to fight with the anarchists but was imprisoned and was helped on his release by Emma Goldman[37][38]. Afterwards Arrigoni became a longtime member of the Libertarian Book Club in New York City[39]. He died in New York City when he was 90 years old on December 7, 1986[40].

Paul Goodman

Paul Goodman (September 9, 1911 – August 2, 1972) was an American sociologist, poet, writer, anarchist, and public intellectual. Goodman is now mainly remembered as the author of Growing Up Absurd (1960) and an activist on the pacifist Left in the 1960s and an inspiration to that era's student movement. He is less remembered as a co-founder of Gestalt Therapy in the 1940s and '50s. In the mid-1940s, together with C. Wright Mills, he contributed to Politics, the journal edited during the 1940s by Dwight Macdonald.[41] In 1947, he published two books, Kafka's Prayer and Communitas, a classic study of urban design coauthored with his brother Percival Goodman. Fame came only with the 1960 publication of his Growing Up Absurd: Problems of Youth in the Organized System. Goodman wrote on a wide variety of subjects; including education, Gestalt Therapy, city life and urban design, children's rights, politics, literary criticism, and many more.

Murray Rothbard

Murray Rothbard (March 2, 1926 – January 7, 1995) was an American economist and political philosopher who is best known for theorizing anarcho-capitalism, which opposes the state and supports a free market. The relationship between anarcho-capitalism and the forms of free-market anarchism that preceded it is controversial.[42][43] Rothbard was "a student and disciple of the Austrian economist Ludwig von Mises, [who] combined the laissez-faire economics of his teacher with the absolutist views of human rights and rejection of the state he had absorbed from studying the individualist American anarchists of the nineteenth century such as Lysander Spooner and Benjamin Tucker."[44] In The Ethics of Liberty, Rothbard asserted the right of 100 percent self-ownership, as the only principle compatible with a moral code that applies to every person - a "universal ethic" - and that it is a natural law by being what is naturally best for man.[45]

Like the nineteenth century individualists, Rothbard believed that security should be provided by multiple competing businesses rather than by a tax-funded central agency.[46] However, he rejected their labor theory of value in favor of the modern neo-classical marginalist view. Thus, like most modern economists, he did not believe that prices in a free market would, or should be, proportional to labor, or that "usury" or "exploitation" necessarily occurs where they are disproportionate. Instead, he believed that different prices of goods and services in a free market are ultimately the result of goods and services having different marginal utilities and that there is nothing unjust about this. Rothbard also disagreed with Tucker that interest would disappear with unregulated banking and money issuance. Rothbard believed that people in general do not wish to lend their money to others without compensation, so there is no reason why this would change where banking is unregulated. Nor, did he agree that unregulated banking would increase the supply of money because he believed the supply of money in a truly free market is self-regulating. And, he believed that it is good that it would not increase the supply or inflation would result. - Rothbard, Murray. The Spooner-Tucker Doctrine: An Economist's View[47]

According to mutualist Kevin Carson, "most people who call themselves 'individualist anarchists' today are followers of Murray Rothbard's Austrian economics."[48] Some contemporary individualists are not anarcho-capitalists.[49] Rothbard strongly opposed communism in all its forms and other related ideologies that demand that wealth be distributed collectively instead of held individually. In anarcho-capitalism, the individual has no obligation to any other member of the community other than to refrain from aggressing against others or defrauding them (the Non-aggression principle.)

Murray Bookchin

Murray Bookchin (January 14, 1921 – July 30, 2006)[50] was an American anarchist, political and social philosopher, environmentalist/conservationist, atheist, speaker, and writer. For much of his life he called himself an anarchist, although as early as 1995 he privately renounced his identification with the anarchist movement.[51] A pioneer in the ecology movement,[52] Bookchin was the founder of the social ecology movement within libertarian socialist and ecological thought. He was the author of two dozen books on politics, philosophy, history, and urban affairs as well as ecology.

Bookchin was an anti-capitalist and vocal advocate of the decentralisation as well as partial deindustrialization and deurbanization of society. His writings on libertarian municipalism, a theory of face-to-face, grassroots democracy, had an influence on the Green movement and anti-capitalist direct action groups such as Reclaim the Streets. He was a staunch critic of biocentric philosophies such as deep ecology and the biologically deterministic beliefs of sociobiology, and his criticisms of "new age" Greens such as Charlene Spretnak contributed to the divisions that affected the North American Green movement in the 1990s.

Noam Chomsky

Noam Chomsky speaking at the World Social Forum of 2003

Noam Chomsky (play /ˌnm ˈɒmski/; born December 7, 1928) is an American linguist, philosopher,[53][54][55][56] cognitive scientist, political activist, author, and lecturer. He is an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[57] Chomsky is well known in the academic and scientific community as one of the fathers of modern linguistics.[58][59][60] Since the 1960s, he has become known more widely as a political dissident, an anarchist,[61] and a libertarian socialist intellectual. Chomsky is often viewed as a notable figure in contemporary philosophy.

Chomsky has stated that his "personal visions are fairly traditional anarchist ones, with origins in The Enlightenment and classical liberalism"[62] and he has praised libertarian socialism.[63] He is a sympathizer of anarcho-syndicalism[64] and a member of the IWW union.[65] He wrote a book on anarchism titled, "Chomsky on Anarchism," which was published by the anarchist book collective, AK Press, in 2006. Noam Chomsky has been engaged in political activism all his adult life and expressed opinions on politics and world events that are widely cited, publicized, and discussed. Chomsky in turn argues that his views are those which the powerful do not want to hear, and for this reason considers himself an American political dissident.

John Zerzan

John Zerzan

John Zerzan (born 1943) is an American anarchist and primitivist philosopher and author. His works criticize agricultural civilization as inherently oppressive, and advocate drawing upon the ways of life of prehistoric humans as an inspiration for what a free society should look like. Some of his criticism has extended as far as challenging domestication, language, symbolic thought (such as mathematics and art) and the concept of time. His five major books are Elements of Refusal (1988), Future Primitive and Other Essays (1994), Running on Emptiness (2002), Against Civilization: Readings and Reflections (2005) and Twilight of the Machines (2008).

On May 7, 1995, a full-page interview with Zerzan was featured in The New York Times.[66] Another significant event that shot Zerzan to celebrity philosopher status was his association with members of the Eugene, Oregon anarchist scene that later were the driving force behind the use of black bloc tactics at the 1999 anti-World Trade Organization protests in Seattle, Washington. Anarchists using black bloc tactics were thought to be chiefly responsible for the property destruction committed at numerous corporate storefronts and banks.

Bob Black

Bob Black is an American anarchist and lawyer. He is the author of The Abolition of Work and Other Essays, Beneath the Underground, Friendly Fire, Anarchy After Leftism, and numerous political essays. Kenn Thomas hailed Black in 1999 as a "defender of the most liberatory tendencies within modern anti-authoritarian thought".[67]

Michael Albert

Michael Albert (born April 8, 1947) is an American activist, speaker, and writer. He is co-editor of ZNet, and co-editor and co-founder of Z Magazine. He also co-founded South End Press and has written numerous books and articles. He developed along with Robin Hahnel the economic vision called participatory economics.

Albert identifies himself as a market abolitionist[68] and favors democratic participatory planning as an alternative.[69]

During the 1960s, Albert was a member of Students for a Democratic Society, and was active in the anti-Vietnam War movement. Albert's memoir, Remembering Tomorrow: From SDS to Life After Capitalism (ISBN 1583227423), was published in 2007 by Seven Stories Press.

Wolfi Landstreicher

Wolfi Landstreicher is the former nom de plume ("Landstreicher" is the German word for vagabond, tramp) of a contemporary anarchist philosopher involved in theoretical and practical activity, who now goes by the name Apio Ludd. He edited the anarchist publication Willful Disobedience, which was published from 1996 until 2005, and currently publishes a variety of anarchist, radical, surrealist and poetic pamphlets and booklets through his project, Venomous Butterfly Publication. His ideas are influenced by insurrectionary anarchism, Max Stirner's egoism, surrealism, the Situationist International and non-primitivist critiques of civilization. He previously published under the pen name Feral Faun.

Notable American anarchists

See also


  1. ^ George Woodcock, Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, Broadview Press, 2004, p. 389
  2. ^ Erik P. Kaufmann, The Rise and Fall of Anglo-America. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004; pg. 85
  3. ^ Frederick Baldwin Adams. Radical Literature in America. Overbrook Press. 1939
  4. ^ Murray Rothbard. The Origins of Individualist Anarchism in the US.
  5. ^ William M. Phillips, Nightmares of Anarchy: Language and Cultural Changes 1870-1914. Bucknell University Press, pg. 58
  6. ^ Frank H. Brooks, The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty (1881–1908), Transaction Publishers (1994), p. 4
  7. ^ Rudolf Rocker, Paul Avrich Collection (Library of Congress). Rocker Publications Committee, 1949. Original from the University of Michigan. p. xx
  8. ^ Adams, Ian. Political Ideology Today, Manchester University Press, (2002), p. 119
  9. ^ Lillian Symes and Travers Clement, Rebel America: The Story of Social Revolt in the United States. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1934; pg. 156
  10. ^ Levy, Carl. Anarchism. Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2007. Archived 2009-10-31.
  11. ^ David Miller, "Anarchism" in The Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought. 1987; pg. 11
  12. ^ Anderson, Carlotta R. All-American Anarchist. Wayne State University Press, 1998. p. 93
  13. ^ Minutes of the IWW Founding Convention | Industrial Workers of the World Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  14. ^ [1] Archived October 11, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ DeLeon, David. The American as Anarchist: Reflections of Indigenous Radicalism, Chapter: The Beginning of Another Cycle, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1979, p. 117
  16. ^ James Patrick Brown, "The Zen of Anarchy: Japanese Exceptionalism and the Anarchist Roots of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance," Religion and American Culture: A Journal of Interpretation, Vol. 19, No, 2
  17. ^ Anarchism in America[dead link]
  18. ^ Mob Action Against The State: Haymarket Remembered Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  19. ^ a b c Sean Sheehan Published 2004 Reaktion Books Anarchism 175 pages ISBN 978-1-86189-169-3
  20. ^ What Lies Beneath: Katrina, Race, And The State Of The Nation :: AK Press Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  21. ^ Scott Crow: Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective - Infoshop News
  22. ^ Josiah Warren, Equitable Commerce (1849), p. 11.
  23. ^ Civil Disobedience ISBN 978-1-55709-417-9 (1849)
  24. ^ Johnson, Ellwood. The Goodly Word: The Puritan Influence in America Literature, Clements Publishing, 2005, p. 138.
  25. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, edited by Edwin Robert Anderson Seligman, Alvin Saunders Johnson, 1937, p. 12.
  26. ^ Mutual Banking. West Brookfield, Mass.: O.S. Cooke, 1850 Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  27. ^ "Mutuellisme et fédéralisme" Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  28. ^ Wendy McElroy, "Liberty on Violence". Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  29. ^ de Cleyre, Voltairine (1907) McKinley's Assassination from the Anarchist Standpoint"
  30. ^ "On Doing the Right Thing", The American Mercury, 1925
  31. ^ Enrico Arrigoni at the Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia
  32. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  33. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  34. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  35. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  36. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  37. ^ Enrico Arrigoni at the Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia
  38. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  39. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  40. ^ Paul Avrich. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America
  41. ^ TIME April 4, 1994 Volume 143, No. 14 - "Biographical sketch of Dwight Macdonald" by John Elson (Accessed 4 December 2008)
  42. ^ Sources explicitly saying it is a type of individualist anarchism:
    • Alan and Trombley, Stephen (Eds.) Bullock, The Norton Dictionary of Modern Thought, W. W. Norton & Company (1999), p. 30
    • Outhwaite, William. The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought, Anarchism entry, p. 21, 2002.
    • Bottomore, Tom. Dictionary of Marxist Thought, Anarchism entry, 1991.
    • Barry, Norman. Modern Political Theory, 2000, Palgrave, p. 70
    • Adams, Ian. Political Ideology Today, Manchester University Press (2002) ISBN 978-0-7190-6020-5, p. 135
    • Grant, Moyra. Key Ideas in Politics, Nelson Thomas 2003 ISBN 978-0-7487-7096-0, p. 91
    • Heider, Ulrike. Anarchism: Left, Right, and Green, City Lights, 1994. p. 3.
    • Ostergaard, Geoffrey. Resisting the Nation State - the anarchist and pacifist tradition, Anarchism As A Tradition of Political Thought. Peace Pledge Union Publications
    • Avrich, Paul. Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Abridged Paperback Edition (1996), p. 282
    • Sheehan, Sean. Anarchism, Reaktion Books, 2004, p. 39
    • Tormey, Simon. Anti-Capitalism, One World, 2004. pp. 118-119
    • Raico, Ralph. Authentic German Liberalism of the 19th Century, Ecole Polytechnique, Centre de Recherce en Epistemologie Appliquee, Unité associée au CNRS, 2004.
    • Offer, John. Herbert Spencer: Critical Assessments, Routledge (UK) (2000), p. 243
    • Levy, Carl. Anarchism. MS Encarta (UK).
    • Heywood, Andrew. Politics: Second Edition, Palgrave (2002), p. 61
  43. ^ Sources denying that anarcho-capitalism is a form of anarchism
    • Marshall, Peter. Demanding the Impossible, London: Fontana Press, 1992 (ISBN 0-00-686245-4) Chapter 38
    Sources denying any compatibility between capitalism and anarchism in general
    • Peikoff, Leonard. 'Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand' Dutton Adult (1991) Chapter "Government"
    • Doyle, Kevin. 'Crypto Anarchy, Cyberstates, and Pirate Utopias' New York: Lexington Books, (2002) p.447-8
    • Sheehan, Seán M. 'Anarchism' Reaktion Books, 2003 p. 17
    • Kelsen, Hans. The Communist Theory of Law. Wm. S. Hein Publishing (1988) p. 110
    • Egbert. Tellegen, Maarten. Wolsink 'Society and Its Environment: an introduction' Routledge (1998) p. 64
    • Jones, James 'The Merry Month of May' Akashic Books (2004) p. 37-38
    • Sparks, Chris. Isaacs, Stuart 'Political Theorists in Context' Routledge (2004) p. 238
    • Bookchin, Murray. 'Post-Scarcity Anarchism' AK Press (2004) p. 37
    • Berkman, Alexander. 'Life of an Anarchist' Seven Stories Press (2005) p. 268
  44. ^ Blackwell Encyclopaedia of Political Thought, 1987, ISBN 978-0-631-17944-3, p. 290
  45. ^ Rothbard, Murray Newton. The Ethics of Liberty. NYU Press. 2003. pp. 45 - 45
  46. ^ William Outhwaite, ed (2002). The Blackwell Dictionary of Modern Social Thought (2nd ed.). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 978-0-631-22164-7. 
  47. ^ THE SPOONER-TUCKER DOCTRINE: AN ECONOMIST’S VIEW on accessed at December 12, 2007 Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  48. ^ Carson, Kevin. Mutualist Political Economy, Preface Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  49. ^ Peacott, Joe 'An Overview of Individualist Anarchist Thought' Libertarian Alliance (2003)
  50. ^ Small, Mike. Murray Bookchin The Guardian August 8, 2006
  51. ^ [2] Biehl, Janet. ‘’Bookchin Breaks with Anarchism’’. ‘’’Communalism’’’ October 2007: 1. Archived November 28, 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  52. ^ John Muir Institute for Environmental Studies, University of New Mexico, Environmental Philosophy, Inc, University of Georgia, ‘‘'Environmental Ethics’’’ v.12 1990: 193.
  53. ^ Noam Chomsky: The Stony Brook Interviews Part Two, a video interview on philosophical topics Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  54. ^ "Noam Chomsky", by Zoltán Gendler Szabó, in Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers, 1860-1960, ed. Ernest Lepore (2004). "Chomsky's intellectual life had been divided between his work in linguistics and his political activism, philosophy coming as a distant third. Nonetheless, his influence among analytic philosophers has been enormous because of three factors. First, Chomsky contributed substantially to a major methodological shift in the human sciences, turning away from the prevailing empiricism of the middle of the twentieth century: behaviorism in psychology, structuralism in linguistics and positivism in philosophy. Second, his groundbreaking books on syntax (Chomsky (1957, 1965)) laid a conceptual foundation for a new, cognitivist approach to linguistics and provided philosophers with a new framework for thinking about human language and the mind. And finally, he has persistently defended his views against all takers, engaging in important debates with many of the major figures in analytic philosophy..." Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  55. ^ "Noam Chomsky", in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998), Norbert Hornstein. Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  56. ^ The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (1999), "Chomsky, Noam," Cambridge University Press, pg. 138. "Chomsky, Noam (born 1928), preeminent American linguist, philosopher, and political activist...Many of Chomsky's most significant contributions to philosophy, such as his influential rejection of behaviorism...stem from his elaborations and defenses of the above consequences..."
  57. ^ MIT Faculty website Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  58. ^ Clark, Neil (2003-07-14). "Great thinkers of our time - Noam Chomsky". New Statesman. Archived from the original on 2010-12-21. Retrieved 2008-08-02. "Regarded as the father of modern linguistics, founder of the field of transformational-generative grammar, which relies heavily on logic and philosophy." 
  59. ^ Fox, Margalit (1998-12-05). "A Changed Noam Chomsky Simplifies". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-08-02. "… Noam Chomsky, father of modern linguistics and the field's most influential practitioner; …" 
  60. ^ Thomas Tymoczko, Jim Henle, James M. Henle, Sweet Reason: A Field Guide to Modern Logic, Birkhäuser, 2000, p. 101.
  61. ^ Noam Chomsky, Chomsky on Anarchism (2005), AK Press, pg. 5
  62. ^ Chomsky (1996), pp. 71.
  63. ^ Chomsky, Noam, "Notes on Anarchism" [3] … "Libertarian socialism is properly to be regarded as the inheritor of the liberal ideals of the Enlightenment." Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  64. ^ Chomsky wrote the preface to an edition of Rudolf Rocker's book Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice. In it Chomsky wrote: "I felt at once, and still feel, that Rocker was pointing the way to a much better world, one that is within our grasp, one that may well be the only alternative to the 'universal catastrophe' towards which 'we are driving on under full sail'…" Book Citation: Rudolph Rocker. Anarcho-Syndicalism: Theory and Practice. AK Press. p. ii. 2004.
  65. ^ Industrial Workers of the World IWW Member Biographies Archived 21 December 2010 at WebCite
  66. ^ Prominent Anarchist Finds Unsought Ally in Serial Bomber (New York Times article)
  67. ^ Thomas, Kenn (1999). Cyberculture Counterconspiracy. Book Tree. p. 15. ISBN 1585091251. 
  68. ^ Market Madness. Z-Mag, 13 July 2004.
  69. ^ Albert, Michael There Is An Alternative. ZNet, July 27, 2005.

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