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Dear Comrades, It is our usual habit to exaggerate both our strengths and our weaknesses. During revolutionary periods, it seems that the least of our actions has incalculably great consequences. On the other hand, during times of stagnation, even though we have dedicated ourselves completely to the cause, our lives seem barren and useless. We may even feel swept away by the winds of reaction. What then should we do to maintain our intellectual vigor, our moral energy, and our faith in the good fight? You come to me hoping to draw on my long experiences of people and things. So as an old man I give you the following advice. Do not quarrel or deal in personalities. Listen to opposing arguments after you have presented your own. Learn how... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
We were overwhelmed with emotions when the telegraph brought us the news: striking workers have taken control of Pittsburg. We did not even know there was an insurrection, and suddenly we learn that workers are holding the official and bourgeois world of the United States in check. For the conservatives of Europe, it was a day of dread; for all of us, men of the revolution, it was a great day of hope. But, it must be said, the fearful of Europe were soon reassured and reality did not meet our sudden hopes. The strike of American workers was not a revolution; it was only partial and the great mass of workers remained separated from the movement. After twelve days of emotion, business seems to have resumed its usual course; the slave again g... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
(Originally published in the Contemporary Review, and then reprinted as a pamphlet by Benjamin R. Tucker, 1884) An Anarchist on Anarchy by Elisée Reclus “It is a pity that such men as Elisée Reclus cannot be promptly shot.” – Providence Press To most Englishmen, the word Anarchy is so evil-sounding that ordinary readers of the Contemporary Review will probably turn from these pages with aversion, wondering how anybody could have the audacity to write them. With the crowd of commonplace chatterers we are already past praying for; no reproach is too bitter for us, no epithet too insulting. Public speakers on social and political subjects find that abuse of Anarchists is an unfailing passport to public fa... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
By definition, the anarchist is the free man, the one who has no master. The ideas that he professes are indeed his own through reasoning. His will, springing from the understanding of things, focuses on a clearly defined aim; his acts are the direct realization of his individual intent. Alongside those who devoutly repeat the words of others or the traditional saying, who make their being bend and conform to the caprice of a powerful individual, or, what is still more grave, to the oscillations of the crowd, he alone is a man, he alone is conscious of his value in the face of all these spineless and inconsistent things that dare not live their own lives. But this anarchist who has morally rid himself of the domination of others and who is... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Anarchy is not a new theory. The word itself taken in its meaning “absence of government”, of “society without leaders”, is of ancient origin and was used well before Proudhon. Besides, what do the words matter? There were “acrates” before the anarchists, and the acrates had not yet imagined the name of their learned formation that countless generations would succeed. In all ages there have been free men, those contemptuous of the law, men living without any master and in accordance with the primordial law of their own existence and their own thought. Even in the earliest ages we find everywhere tribes made up of men managing their own affairs as they wish, without any externally imposed law, having no r... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
YOU know that we, the Anarchists, are considered as a set of most desperate and wicked men; and recently, perusing by mere chance an English review which had already published some of my scientific papers, I found, to my surprise, that I was spoken of by name as belonging to a “gang of ruffians.” Now, this is indeed a very bad introduction to you; still I hope you will not condemn me at once. If you have read and heard the attacks, you are bound by fair play to hear also the defense, and even a counter-attack. Our name explains perfectly what our aim is — at least our negative aim. We wish to do away with government because every organization from the outside prevents the free working of spontaneous organization. Governme... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
18: Advice to My Anarchist Comrades (1901) Reclus wrote the following letter on the occasion of the opening of an anarchist congress. It was subsequently published in Il Pensiero (June 16, 1907), in Réveil de Genève (January 7, 1911), and in volume 3 of Correspondance, 238–40. To the Editors of la Huelga General in Barcelona Brussels, December 4, 1901 Dear comrades, It is our usual habit to exaggerate both our strengths and our weaknesses. During revolutionary periods, it seems that the least of our actions has incalculably great consequences. On the other hand, during times of stagnation, even though we have dedicated ourselves completely to the cause, our lives seem barren and useless. We may even feel s... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
At the closing of the Salon, one of my friends, an amateur connoisseur of beautiful things, came to me quite desolate. He had been ill and had taken a journey away from Paris. Now he returned too late for the Exhibition and so he lamented not having been able to see these multitudes of marbles and paintings which special reviews kept him conversant with. The dear comrade may reassure himself. A walk upon forest-paths, on fallen leaves, or one moment of repose upon the brink of a pure fountain-if he can find one still fifteen or twenty leagues from the boulevard-will console him for having missed his visit to the habitual museum where there is shut up every year temporarily that which is called the “belles arts”. Certainly I do... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
There is not a single European country in which the traditions of the old communal property have entirely disappeared. In certain areas, notably in the Ardennes and in the steep mountainous regions of Switzerland, where the peasants did not have to submit to the kind of oppression to which the German villagers were subjected after the wars of the Reformation, communal property is still widespread enough to constitute a considerable part of the territory. In the Belgian Ardennes, the collective lands are composed of three parts: the woods, the freshly cleared ground [sart], and the pastures. They also often include arable land and quarries. The woods, which form the largest part of the property, are divided into a certain number of sections... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
DAR-FÔR. DAR-FÔR, or the “Country of Fûr," more commonly called Darfur, by fusing the two words in a similar fashion to that in which the French say "Angleterre," instead of "Pays des Anglais," is the region which stretches west of Kordofân on the route to the river Niger. Dar-Fôr does not entirely belong to the Nile basin. Its western slope, which has as yet been explored but by few travelers, appears to lose its waters in depressions with no outlet; but if the rainfall were sufficiently abundant the wadies of this region, changed into permanent watercourses, would ultimately reach Lake Tsad. The streams draining in the direction of the Nile also run dry in the plains, except in the season of the kha... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
The Death Penalty La Peine de Mort Translated by Natalya Ratan and Virginia Anton. By Elisée Reclus I do not have the honor of being a Swiss Citizen and know only imperfectly the means to petition the removal of an article, but it is an issue of human agitation in all civilized countries As an international citizen I have the right to address this issue. Unfortunately I also am French and my motherland is also a country of executioners and the guillotine, that we have invented and use everyday Enemies of the death penalty. I must try to find their origins. Is if justifiable that it takes away from the right to self defense? If it is, it will be difficult to oppose it because we all have the right to self defense, against b... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
I. In past centuries, peoples only fought for their passions or their immediate interests; it was without remorse, it was even with gladness that, in order to satisfy their ambition or greed, they exterminated entire nations and dragged behind them multitudes of slaves. Without any link of solidarity between them, men stole their selfish well-being from the well-being of their neighbors, and the world, given over to chance, was sometimes the prey of the stronger, sometimes that of the most skillful. However, from the beginnings of humanity, some noble spirits rose up, discontented with reality and dreaming of a better future; some, like the old patriarch Abraham, left their country and their kin to live in isolation far from the selfish... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
I ON the surface of this round earth the cardinal points have no precise meaning except in relation to particular places. The Greenwich observer may point to his north and his south, his east and his west; but the astronomers of Paris, of Washington, of Santiago, and direction-seeking mankind generally, will look for theirs in other directions. The lines traced by the meridians and the equator are purely artificial. Nevertheless the attempt has been made to give to the geographical terms of orientation a common neaning that should be accepted by all. Thus Carl Ritter, taking into account the idea of heat and of blinding light which Europeans associate with the “South,” reserved the name of “South” for the Sahara a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
From Elisée Reclus (1891), Evolution and Revolution, London: W. Reeves, Seventh Edition EVOLUTION AND REVOLUTION By Elisée Reclus THESE two words, Evolution and Revolution, closely resemble one another, and yet they are constantly used in their social and political sense as though their meaning were absolutely antagonistic. The word Evolution, synonymous with gradual and continuous development in morals and ideas, is brought forward in certain circles as though it were the antithesis of that fearful word, Revolution, which implies changes more or less sudden in their action, and entailing some sort of catastrophe. And yet is it possible that a transformation can take place in ideas without bringing about some abrupt... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
To look at our enormous cities, expanding day by day and almost hour by hour, engulfing year by year fresh colonies of immigrants, and running out their suckers, like giant octopuses, into the surrounding country, one feels a sort of shudder come over one, as if in presence of a symptom of some strange social malady. One could almost take up one’s parable against these prodigious agglomerations of humanity and prophesy against them as Isaiah prophesied against Tire, «full of wisdom and perfect in beauty», or against Babylon, «the son of the morning». Yet it is easy to show that this monster growth of the city, the complex outcome of a multiplicity of causes, is not altogether a morbid growth. If, on the one han... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Evolution encompasses the entirety of human affairs. We ought to recognize that revolution does also, even though this parallelism is not always evident from the individual events that make up the whole of the life of societies. All advancements are interdependent, and in proportion to our knowledge and power, we desire them all—social and political progress, moral and material progress, and progress in science, art, and industry. In every sphere we are not only evolutionists, but just as much revolutionists, since we realize that history itself is but a series of achievements that follows a series of preparations. The great intellectual evolution that emancipates minds has a logical consequence in the emancipation of individuals in a... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Man likes to live in a dream world. The mental effort required to grasp reality seems too demanding, and he tries to avoid this struggle by resorting to ready-made opinions. If “doubt is the pillow of the wise,” then blissful faith is the pillow of the simpleminded. Once there was a supreme God who did our thinking for us, willed and acted from on high, and guided human destiny according to his whims. His power was all that we needed, and it caused us to accept our inevitable fate with resignation or even gratitude. This personal God, on whom the meek could depend, is now perishing in his own temples, and men have to find a substitute for him. No longer do they have the All-Powerful at their service. They have only a few words t... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
It becomes ever more essential to expand and refine our feeling for nature as the multitude of men who are exiled from the countryside by force of circumstances increases daily. Pessimists have long feared the ceaseless growth of large cities. Still, they seldom realize how rapidly future populations will be able to move toward preferred centers. It is true that the colossal Babylons of the past also gathered within their walls hundreds of thousands or even millions of inhabitants. The natural interests of commerce, the despotic centralization of all power, the scrambling for favors, and the pursuit of pleasure made these powerful cities as populous as entire provinces. But factors such as slow transportation, the flooding of a river, bad ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Elisée Reclus' "Fragment of a Voyage to New Orleans (1855)" The following introduction to and translation of Reclus' "Voyage" was published in Mesechabe #11 (Winter 1993), pp. 14-17 and #12 (Spring 1994), pp. 17-22. A revised version, with illustrations and a much expanded introduction is forthcoming as a pamphlet from Glad Day Books. The editors and translators have also completed a collection of Reclus' writings, with extensive commentary on his ideas, entitled Liberty, Equality, Geography: The Social Thought of Elisée Reclus. They are at work on another Reclus collection entitled An Anarchist in the Old South: Elisée Reclus on Slavery and Antebellum Society. This work appears in Anarchy Archives with permission... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Foreword: On the context of “Free Union” Perhaps most important for posterity regarding Reclus family’s feminism and its members’ commitment to the idea that “personal is political” was their practice of the Union libre (Free Union), which had a broad impact on the French and international press. Free union consisted of a simple ceremony where a couple invited friends and relatives to announce their “marriage” with neither religious nor civil sanction, “without priests and mayors,” in name of the freedom of the individual sentimental sphere from social and institutional conventions. In France, oficial marriages entailed the stipulation of an official contract, harshly criticized... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Recently being in conversation here in London with a traveler and discoverer, I mentioned the great geographical importance of accurate representations of our planet in the shape of globes; suddenly he interrupted me, and said with a smile, "What is the use of your Lilliputian globes, ten, a hundred, or a thousand yards thick, when you have the very globe itself, our good and beneficent Earth, to walk over, to look at, to study, and to love?" Of course I laughed, and thought with him that all representations and symbols of life are very little in comparison with life itself: our works are small when contrasted with nature. But the great man who thus spoke in joke knew as well as I do, the value of scrupulous effects in geographical work. He... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Man loves to live in dreams. The effort which Thought must put forth in order to seize hold of realities seems to him too hard, and he tries to escape the task by taking refuge in opinions ready-made. If “doubt is the pillow of the wise,” we may say that blissful faith is the pillow of the weak in mind. There was a time when the power of a supreme God, who thought for us, who willed and acted over our heads, and directed human destiny in accordance with his own caprice, was amply sufficient for us, and caused us to accept our mortal lot with resignation or even with gratitude. Now this personal God, in whom the meek reposed their confidence, is perishing in his own temples, and men have to find a substitute for him. But there ex... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
THE HISTORY OF A MOUNTAIN ILLUSTRATED BY L. BENNETT RANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH NEW YORK HARPER & BROTHERS, FRANKLIN SQUARE 1881 Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1881, by HARPER & BROTHERS, In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. CONTENTS. I. THE RETREAT II. PEAKS AND VALLEYS III. ROCKS AND CRYSTALS IV. THE ORIGIN OF THE MOUNTAIN V. FOSSILS VI. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE PEAKS VII. LANDSLIPS VIII. CLOUDS IX. FOGS AND STORMS X. SNOW "XL AVALANCHES XII. GLACIERS XIII. MORAINES AND TORRENTS XIV. FORESTS AND PASTURES XV. THE ANIMALS OF THE MOUNTAIN XVI. GRADATIONS OF CLIMATE XVII. THE FREE MOUNTAINEER XVIII. CRETINS XIX. MOUNTAIN-WORSHIP XX. OLYMPUS AND THE GODS XXI. GENII XXII.... (From: Archive.org.)
The natural attractive force of the soil tends normally to distribute human beings rhythmically across the entire earth. In the modern period, we encounter a seemingly opposing force that concentrates hundreds of thousands or even millions of people in certain circumscribed areas surrounding markets, palaces, forums, and parliaments. Towns were already of considerable size at the outset of the age of railroads. Now, they develop into immense cities, vast agglomerations of aligned houses, crisscrossed by an infinite network of streets, alleyways, boulevards, and avenues. During the day, a grayish dome of smoke hangs over them, while at night a glow radiates outward, illuminating the sky. People were astounded by the Babylons and Ninevehs of ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
This work appears in Anarchy Archives courtesy of International Institute for Social History. Reclus, Elisée. The Ideal and Youth. Liberty Press, London, 1895. The Ideal and Youth. By ELISÉE RECLUS. If the word "Ideal" has really any meaning, it signifies far more than a vague yearning for better things, wearisome search for happiness, or a fitful and sad longing for an environment less hateful than the society of to-day; ah yes, we must give to the term an exact value, we must settle resolutely and intelligently what is the ostensible end of our ceaseless aspirations. Let us investigate then that Ideal. For some it would be no more than a return to the ages of the past, to the childhood of humanity; it wou... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
[Note from the 1895 reprint] This brochure is the reproduction, slightly modified, of a letter written to a companion in exile, a refugee in Buenos Aires. This excellent friend, Baux, still believed in the virtue of laws to improve men and in that of representatives to make law triumph. Having written to this effect to the editors of “Le Travailleur” [” The Worker “], a monthly anarchist journal which appeared in Geneva, {1} he was answered by these few pages which, since the time of publication, in February 1878, are reprinted today for the first time. Legal Evolution and Anarchy Friends, the word “Anarchy” scares you. You blame us for using it and preventing well-meaning but timid people from com... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Letter to Nadar, founder of the aerostatic observatory No date (1870) Monsieur: I had the honor of being registered on M. Rampont’s list as an aspirant aeronaut. I request that you let me know when and where I can meet you and receive your instructions and begin my studies. I believe I can be useful to you. I add to the advantage of being “heavier than air” that of being a geographer and something of a meteorologist. Aside from this, I have determination. Yours, To his sister Louise February 9, 1871 My dear sister; Amid this immense misfortune it is painful to speak of oneself and one’s family. Nevertheless, though we might be made nauseous when we think about existence, we can’t allow ourselv... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The motive, that is to say the desire to please, which solicits each primitive individual to adorn his person, had the union of the sexes as a natural sanction, and, consequently, was to lead to the constitution of family groups. But, just as the ornaments varied according to the environments and the materials available to man, so the social forms determined by the union between the sexes have singularly changed in different places and in successive periods. In animals of various species, we find all modes of union; we also find them in the world of primitive men, in protohistory and in history itself: promiscuity without precise rule, practical community [communauté pratique] according to certain conditions, polygamy and polyandry, ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
The world is very close to unification. All lands, including even the small islands scattered across the vast ocean, have entered into the field of attraction of one common culture, in which the European type predominates. Only in a few rare enclaves—in lands of caves where men flee the light, or in very secluded places protected by walls of rock, forests, or marshlands—have some tribes been able to remain completely isolated, living their lives outside the rhythm of the great universal life. However, as jealously as these peoples have hidden themselves, forming small, selfsufficient hereditary circles, scientific researchers have discovered them and integrated them into the whole of humanity by studying their forms, their ways ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
On Vegetarianism First printed in the HUMANE REVIEW, January, 1901 MEN of such high standing in hygiene and biology having made a profound study of questions relating to normal food, I shall take good care not to display my incompetence by expressing an opinion as to animal and vegetable nourishment. Let the cobbler stick to his last. As I am neither chemist nor doctor, I shall not mention either azote or albumen, nor reproduce the formulas of analysts, but shall content myself simply with giving my own personal impressions, which, at all events, coincide with those of many vegetarians. I shall move within the circle of my own experiences, stopping here and there to set down some observation suggested by the petty incidents of life. ... (From: Anarchy Archives.)

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