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Response to white_wolf (Original post)

Wed Dec 21, 2011, 01:17 PM

15. Anarchism and American Traditions - Volairine de Cleyre

Words written by the famous "anarchist without adjectives," Volairine de Cleyre. These words can be found in her essay, "Anarchism & American Traditions," in which her mastery of language luminates the deep chasm separating the principles of our American Revolution from the practices of American policy.

To whit, you'll find a similar theme among today's "Tea Partiers" or American Libertarians, however, as she touches upon in the essay, their rhetoric may be just cheap patriatism or an ignorance of what transpired in 1776.

As an anarchist and socialist, she revered liberty to the point where she crucially examined the folly in what was taken for granted as "Government at best is a necessary evil, at worst an intolerable one." She never ceased being an advocate of individualism, of community (she admired the anarchist-communists), of sense of togetherness in which we should ever be able to use the land for our own use, and to use it freely, without interference from those that made themselves fortunes through enterprise or through government.

She was so unselfish, when the anarchists were blamed for the Haymarket Square fire (what the rest of the world celebrates as May Day - a genuine celebration of Labor), she wanted them hanged, but upon further examination, those words were an albatross to her until the day she died:

Reaction from repression and the cruel discipline of the Catholic Church helped to develop Voltairine's inherent tendency toward free thought; the five-fold murder of the labor leaders in Chicago in 1887 shocked her mind so deeply that from that moment dates her development toward Anarchism. When in 1886 the bomb fell in the Haymarket Square, and the Anarchists were arrested, Voltairine de Cleyre, who at that time was a free thought lecturer, shouted: "They ought to be hanged!" They were hanged, and now her body rests in Waldheim Cemetery, near the grave of those martyrs. Speaking at a memorial meeting in honor of those comrades, in 1901, she said: "For that ignorant, outrageous, blood-thirsty sentence I shall never forgive myself, though I know the dead men would have forgiven me, though I know those who loved them forgive me But my own voice, as it sounded that night, will sound so in my ears till I die--a bitter reproach and a shame I have only one word of extenuation for myself and the millions of others who did as I did that night-- ignorance."

Anarchism and American Traditions (1908)

by Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912)


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