Communal Anarchy

By Dyer Lum (1886)

Entry 3335


From: holdoffhunger [id: 1]


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(1839 - 1893)

Anarchist Writer for the Black International

: His career as a participant in the labor movement grew out of his reflections on the Pittsburgh riots during the 1877 railroad strike, but before Haymarket had swung over to the extreme left position of the anarchists and mutualists, impressed with the possibilities of cooperation in economics. (From: James Martin Bio.)
• "Force, however used, can teach no economic truth, yet events flowing from it often awaken consciousness of what equity demands." (From: "The Economics of Anarchy: A Study Of The Industri....)
• "The renaissance of mind from scholastic tyranny; the revolt of Luther and his followers against mental dictation; the temporary compromise in religious toleration; the insurrection against kingcraft leading in its triumph to the toleration of political opinions; -- have now logically led to an insurrection against economic subjection to the privileges usurped and hotly defended by capital in its alliance with labor..." (From: "The Economics of Anarchy: A Study Of The Industri....)
• "Let us beware the militant assumption that man exists for the State, and trust to theoretical brakes to check the momentum of a body moving with increasing velocity. The social aggregate is not something over and above the units which constitute it." (From: "The Economics of Anarchy: A Study Of The Industri....)

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Communal Anarchy

 Photo by Natalie Tsang, CC BY-NC-ND License

Photo by Natalie Tsang,
CC BY-NC-ND License

A distinction has been sought between what has been termed “Mutualistic Anarchy” and communistic anarchy, but it is one we fail to recognize. Anarchy, or the total cessation of force government, is the fundamental principle upon which all our arguments are based. Communism is a question of administration in the future, and hence must be subordinate to and in accord with the principles of Anarchy and all of its logical deductions. Anarchy proclaims that sovereignty of the individual, the abrogation of all artificial inequalities, and the total cessation of coercion over a minority, even if that minority be a single individual. To secure this end it demands the abolition of the State. This involves the destruction of the privileges now legalized and which are the cause of our social discord. To abolish the state is at one blow to destroy special privilege. With the fall of the legal scaffolding property ceases to be a ravenous beast and is converted into a useful domesticated auxiliary to individual effort. Government exists merely for the protection of special privileges their laws confer upon property.

Anarchy being our fundamental principle, no scheme of social administration we may advocate, must be contrary thereto. In using the word communism, therefore, we in no wise abridge the rights of the individual. But why use the word at all? it may be asked. For this reason: In speaking of the individual we believe Anarchy covers the whole ground; but in speaking of society in its associative phase, forming into groups for the purposes of production and distribution, we prefer to use this old term, and by associating it with the qualifying word Anarchy, rescue it from the abuse into which it has fallen.

Each writer in The Alarm is responsible for his own articles, but in giving them editorial space they become representative of principles inculcated by this paper. We would therefore say that The Alarm does not advocate the institution of any system whereby individual right can be invaded. We demand the abolition of the legal sanction to property, believing the destruction of exclusive claim to products for speculative purposes will leave property communal. We recognize the right of each to own and possess the result of his own labor; he may make a machine if he wish and call it his “private property” and no one can object, for under communal anarchy his claim would involve no infringement upon others’ rights. But where the claim has no sanction in law it becomes harmless. In attaching private property we are combating the legalization of privilege. In using the word State we refer to any alleged source of authority and hold the principle to be as operative in the Social Communes of the future as in the political republic of the present. In brief, the only use of force, in any manner whatever, an Anarchist can justify is that used in attaining and defending his natural rights as an individual. Communal Anarchy rejects all assumed “divine rights” to authority of man over man, whether it be asserted by a monarch, priest, or the majority of the people. The destruction of privilege is our sole object.

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