There are two spirits abroad in the world,—the spirit of Caution, the spirit of Dare, the spirit of Quiescence, the spirit of Unrest; the spirit of Immobility, the spirit of Change; the spirit of Hold-fast-to-that-which-you-have, the spirit of Let-go-and-fly-to-that-which-you-have-not; the spirit of the slow and steady builder, careful of its labors, loathe to part with any of its achievements, wishful to keep, and unable to discriminate between what is worth keeping and what is better cast aside, and the spirit of the inspirational destroyer, fertile in creative fancies, volatile, careless in its luxuriance of effort, inclined to cast away the good together with the bad.
Society is a quivering balance, eternally struck afresh, betwe... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Image::1Introduction
"Nature has the habit of now and then producing a type of human being far in advance of the times; an ideal for us to emulate; a being devoid of sham, uncompromising, and to whom the truth is sacred; a being whose selfishness is so large that it takes the whole human race and treats self only as one of the great mass; a being keen to sense all forms of wrong, and powerful in denunciation of it; one who can reach in the future and draw it nearer. Such a being was Voltairine de Cleyre."
What could be added to this splendid tribute by Jay Fox to the memory of Voltairine de Cleyre?
The real biography of Voltairine de Cleyre is to be found in the letters she wrote to her comrades, friends and admires, for like many oth... (From: Anarchy Archives.) In the long sweep of seventeen hundred years which witnessed the engulfment of a moribund Roman civilization, together with its borrowed Greek ideals, under the red tide of a passionate barbarism that leaped to embrace the idea of Triumph over Death, and spat upon the Grecian Joys of Life with the superb contempt of the Norse savage, there was, for Europe and America, but one great animating Word in Art and Literature—Christianity. It boots not here to inquire how close or how remote the Christian ideal as it developed was in comparison with the teachings of the Nazarene. Distorted, blackened, almost effaced, it was yet some faint echo from the hillsides of Olivet, some indistinct vision of the Cross, some dull perception of the white... (From: Gutenberg.org.) I.
It is a long narrow pocket opening on a little street which runs like a tortuous seam up and down the city, over there. It was at the end of the summer; and in summer, in the evening, the mouth of the pocket is hard to find, because of the people, in it and about, who sit across the passage, gasping at the dirty winds that come loafing down the street like crafty beggars seeking a hole to sleep in—like mean beggars, bereft of the spirit of free windhood. Down in the pocket itself the air is quite dead; one feels oneself enveloped in a scum-covered pool of it, and at every breath long filaments of invisible roots, swamp-roots, tear and tangle in your floundering lungs.
I had to go to the very end, to the bottom of the pocket. Th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Why do you clothe me with scarlet of shame?
Why do you point with your finger of scorn?
What is the crime that you hissingly name
When you sneer in my ears, "Thou bastard born?"
Am I not as the rest of you,
With a hope to reach, and a dream to live?
With a soul to suffer, a heart to know
The pangs that the thrusts of the heartless give?"
I am no monster! Look at me --
Straight in my eyes, that they do not shrink!
Is there aught in them you can see
To merit this hemlock you make me drink?
This poison that scorches my soul like fire,
That burns and burns until love is dry,
And I shrivel with hate, as hot as a pyre,
A corpse, while its smoke curls up to the sky?
Will you touch my hand? It is flesh like y... (From: Anarchy Archives.) It is far, far down in the southland, and I am back again, thanks be, in the land of wind and snow, where life lives. But that was in the days when I was a wretched thing, that crept and crawled, and shrunk when the wind blew, and feared the snow. So they sent me away down there to the world of the sun, where the wind and the snow are afraid. And the sun was kind to me, and the soft air that does not move lay around me like folds of down, and the poor creeping life in me winked in the light and stared out at the wide caressing air; stared away to the north, to the land of wind and rain, where my heart was,—my heart that would be at home.
Yes, there, in the tender south, my heart was bitter and bowed, for the love of the singing wind ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Introduction
“Nature has the habit of now and then producing a type of human being far in advance of the times; an ideal for us to emulate; a being devoid of sham, uncompromising, and to whom the truth is sacred; a being whose selfishness is so large that it takes in the whole human race and treats self only as one of the great mass; a being keen to sense all forms of wrong, and powerful in denunciation of it; one who can reach into the future and draw it nearer. Such a being was Voltairine de Cleyre.”
What could be added to this splendid tribute by Jay Fox to the memory of Voltairine de Cleyre? These admirable words express the sentiments of all the friends and comrades of that remarkable woman whose whole life was dedicate... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) And Thou Too
At the Grave in Waldheim
Ut Sementem Feceris, Ita Metes
The Dirge of the Sea
Life or Death
The Toast of Despair
Mary Wollstone Craft
John P. Altgeld
The Feast of Vultures
The Suicide’s Defense
The Road Builders
Ave Et Vale
“Light Upon Waldheim”
Written — in — Red
And Thou Too
The moonlight rolls down like a river,
The silence streams out like a sea;
And far where the eastern winds quiver,
My farewell goes floating to thee.
Like night, when the sunset is fading
And starbea (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) “They say ‘She is dead; the Commune is dead’;
That ‘If she were living her earthquake tread
Would scatter the honeyless hornets’ hive.’
I am not dead, nor yet asleep;
Nor tardy, though my steps seem slow;
Nor feeble from the centuries’ sweep;
Nor cold, though chill the north winds blow.
My legions muster in all lands,
From field, from factory, from mine,
The workers of the world join hands
Across the centuries and brine.”
Never since those lines were sung by the great unknown poet, whose heart shone red through his words, has the pulse of the world beat so true a response as it is beating now. We do not stand to-day as mourners at the bier of a Dead Cause, but with the jo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Owing to a perhaps natural misunderstanding, it was stated in the American report to the Amsterdam Congress that I am a worker in the cause of Anarchist Communism. The report should have said Anarchism, simply, as I am not now, and never have been at any time, a Communist. I was for several years an individualist, but becoming convinced that a number of the fundamental propositions of individualistic economy would result in the destruction of equal liberty, I relinquished those beliefs. In doing so, however, I did not accept the proposed economy of Communism, which in some respects would entail the same result, destruction of equal freedom; always, of course, in my opinion, which I very willingly admit should not be weighed by others as of ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Men are of three sorts: the turn backs, the rush-aheads, and the indifferents. The first and second are comparatively few in number. The really conscientious conservative, eternally looking backward for his models and trying hard to preserve that which is, is almost as scarce an article as the genuine radical, who is eternally attacking that which is and looking forward to some indistinct but glowing vision of a purified social life. Between them lies the vast nitrogenous body of the indifferents, who go through life with no large thoughts or intense feelings of any kind, the best that can be said of them being that they serve to dilute the too fierce activities of the other two. Into the callous ears of these indifferents, nevertheless, th... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) The events of May 4, 1886 were a major influence on the oratory of Voltairine de Cleyre. Following the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs on November 11, 1887, she gave an annual address to commemorate the date of their sacrifice. The following memorial speech was first delivered in Chicago on November 11, 1901. It was subsequently published in Free Society, a Chicago periodical, November 24, 1901. It is reprinted, along with her other Haymarket Memorial speeches, in The First Mayday: The Haymarket Speeches 1895–1910 (Cienfuegos Press, Over-the-water, Sanday, Orkney, KWI7 2BL, UK), 1980.
* * *
Let me begin my address with a confession. I make it sorrowfully and with self-disgust; but in the presence of great sacrifice we learn h... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) From the standpoint of one who thinks himself capable of discerning an undeviating route for human progress to pursue, if it is to be progress at all, who, having such a route on his mind's map, has endeavored to point it out to others; to make them see it as he sees it; who in so doing has chosen what appeared to him clear and simple expressions to convey his thoughts to others, -- to such a one it appears matter for regret and confusion of spirit that the phrase "Direct Action" has suddenly acquired in the general mind a circumscribed meaning, not at all implied in the words themselves, and certainly never attached to it by himself or his co-thinkers.
However, this is one of the common jests which Progress plays on those who think them... (From: Anarchy Archives.) On everything that lives, if one looks searchingly, is limned the shadow line of an idea --- an idea, dead or living, sometimes stronger when dead, with rigid, unswerving lines that mark the living embodiment with the stern immobile cast of the non-living. Daily we move among these unyielding shadows, less pierceable, more enduring than granite, with the blackness of ages in them, dominating living, changing bodies, with dead, unchanging souls. And we meet, also, living souls dominating dying bodies-living ideas regnant over decay and death. Do not imagine that I speak of human life alone. The stamp of persistent or of shifting Will is visible in the grass-blade rooted in its clod of earth, as in the gossamer web of being that floats and sw... (From: Anarchy Archives.) The passions of men are actors, events are their motions, all history is their speech. In the long play of the ages a human being sometimes becomes an event; a nation’s passion takes a personnel. Such beings are the expression of the gathered mind-force of millions.
He only who keeps himself aloof from all feeling can remain the spectator of the hour. All that humanity which is held within the beating, coiling, surging tides of passion, has no individuality; it sinks its personality to become a vein in the limb of this giant, a pulse in the heart of that Titan. Only when out of the spirit of the times the event is born, only when the act is complete, the curtain rung down, only then does the intellectuality of the vein, the pulse, ri... (From: Gutenberg.org.) Dyer D. Lum
(February 15, 1839—April 6, 1893)
One of the silent martyrs whose graves are trodden to the level by their fellows’ feet, almost before it is seen that they have fallen, completed his martyrdom one year ago to-night.
There are thousands of such, why then commemorate this one?
Let our answer be that in this one we commemorate all the others, and if we have chosen his day and name, it is because his genius, his work, his character was one of those rare gems produced in the great mine of suffering and flashing backward with all its changing lights the hopes, the fears, the gaieties, the griefs, the dreams, the doubts, the loves, the hates, the sum of that which is buried, low down there, in the human mine.
No mor... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) To the Editor of The Open Court:
Possessed of rather more than ordinary interest in the sex question, and agreeing with Professor Cope that any proposition for the amelioration of the condition of women should be discussed and decided by women, I am moved to certain remarks suggested by his article on “The Material Relations of Sex” in the first number of The Monist.
All through its perusal I was impressed by his unconscious recognition of an underlying question, which, apart from woman’s inferiority, determines the relations of the sexes. This is plainly apparent in the paragraph alluding to the communistic system of wealth production and distribution, in which he admits the possibility of promiscuous sex-relations. Whi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) If Dyer D. Lum were living I doubt whether the articles of Mr. Black, recently copied by the Twentieth Century from the “Australian Workman,” would elicit anything further from him than a hearty laugh. Mr. Lum had a very keen appreciation of the ludicrous and the richness of being classed in company with Victor Yarros as a Communist would have touched what he called his “Sense of ticklety” sufficiently to have compensated him for being subjected to the treatment of such a reviewer. He can, indeed, well afford to be accounted as “lacking in understanding” by this “turgid and tangled” gentleman from New South Wales. It is better to be praised by such a critic’s damnation than damned by his... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Freethought in America was an anti-clerical, anti-Christian movement which sought to separate the church and state in order to leave religious matters to the conscience and reasoning ability of the individual involved. Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912) was prominent both as a feminist and as a freethinker. The following article, reprinted from Benjamin Tucker's periodical Liberty, was originally delivered by de Cleyre as a lecture before the Boston Secular Society. It is an excellent example of the interrelationship between the individualist-feminist view of the church and of the state. In her essay "Sex Slavery," de Cleyre reiterated this two-pronged attack. She wrote: "Let every woman ask herself, 'Why am I the Slave of Man?' . . . There a... (From: Anarchy Archives.) Let me begin my address with a confession. I make it sorrowfully and with self-disgust; but in the presence of great sacrifice we learn humility, and if my comrades could give their lives for their belief, why, let me give my pride. Yet I would not give it, for personal utterance is of trifling importance, were it not that I think at this particular season it will encourage those of our sympathizers whom the recent outburst of savagery may have disheartened, and perhaps lead some who are standing where I once stood to do as I did later.
This is my confession: Fifteen years ago last May when the echoes of the Haymarket bomb rolled through the little Michigan village where I then lived, I, like the rest of the credulous and brutal, read one ... (From: Anarchy Archives.) I count it as one of the best fortunes of my life that in my early days as an anarchist it was my privilege to know Dyer D. Lum. These thirteen years he is in his grave, and yet whenever editors and contributors of anarchist journals fall to denouncing the actions of the unwise, the ebullitions of the mass, I hear his voice, as yesterday, saying in his short, brusque way: “Events are the true schoolmasters.”
There was in his day, as there is now, a certain percentage of propagandists who think that they possess the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (a perhaps enviable condition of mind, but certainly an intolerant one). They appear to think that by the application of certain abstract principles they have been ab... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) In all unsuccessful social upheavals there are two terrors: the Red--that is, the people, the mob; the White--that is, the reprisal.
When a year ago to-day the lightning of the White Terror shot out of that netherest blackness of Social Depth, the Spanish Torture House, and laid in the ditch of Montjuich a human being who but a moment before had been the personification of manhood, in the flower of life, in the strength and pride of a balanced intellect, full of the purpose of a great and growing undertaking,-- that of the Modern Schools,--humanity at large received a blow in the face which it could not understand.
Stunned, bewildered, shocked, it recoiled and stood gaping with astonishment. How to explain it ? The average individual-... (From: Anarchy Archives.) ldquo;Cast thy bread upon the waters,
Find it after many days.”
Two years ago, in a little uptown parlor, the home of a Philadelphia weaver, a group of inquirers after truth were wont to assemble bi-weekly for the discussion of “Communism vs. Individualism.” There were generally present some fifteen Communists and five or six Individualists. Let it be here admitted that while all were earnestly seeking truth, each side was pretty thoroughly convinced that the other was searching in the wrong direction, and as near as I am able to ascertain we are all of the same opinion still. However, in the course of a year some crumbs of the bread floated into sight in the shape of a dialogue presenting the substance of those discussi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) by Voltairine de Cleyre
What have you done, O skies,
That the millions should kneel to you?
Why should they lift wet eyes,
Grateful with human dew?
Why should they clasp their hands,
And bow at thy shrines, O heaven,
Thanking thy high commands
For the mercies that thou hast given?
What have those mercies been,
O thou who art called the Good?
Who trod through a world of sin,
And stood where the felon stood
What is that wondrous peace
Vouchsafed to the child of dust
For whom all doubt shall cease
In the light of thy perfect trust?
How hast Thou heard their prayers
Smoking up from the bleeding sod,
Who, crushed by their weight of cares,
Cried up to thee, Most High God
... ... .... ... ... ... ... ... ...
Wh... (From: Anarchy Archives.) Some women are born to love stories as the sparks fly upward. You see it every time they glance at you, and you feel it every time they lay a finger on your sleeve. There was a party the other night, and a four-year old baby who couldn’t sleep for the noise crept down into the parlor half frightened to death and transfixed with wonderment at the crude performances of an obtuse visitor who was shouting out the woes of Othello. One kindly little woman took the baby in her arms and said: “What would they do to you, if you made all that noise.”—“Whip me,” whispered the child, her round black eyes half admiration and half terror, and altogether coquettish, as she hid and peered round the woman’s neck. An... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) "A STARVING MAN HAS A NATURAL RIGHT TO HIS NEIGHBOR'S BREAD".
"I HAVE NO IDEA OF PETITIONING FOR RIGHTS. WHATEVER THE RIGHTS OF THE PEOPLE ARE, THEY HAVE A RIGHT TO THEM, AND NONE HAVE A RIGHT TO EITHER WITHHOLD OR GRANT THEM".
PAINE'S "Rights of Man".
"ASK FOR WORK; IF THEY DO NOT GIVE YOU WORK ASK FOR BREAD; IF THEY DO NOT GIVE YOU WORK OR BREAD THEN TAKE BREAD".
Delivered in New York, Dec. 16. 1894.
BY VOLTAIRINE DE CLEYRE.
The light is pleasant, is it not my friends? It is good to look into each other's faces, to see the hands t (From: Anarchy Archives.) INDIVIDUALIST: “Our host is engaged and requests that I introduce myself to. I beg your pardon, sir, but have I not the pleasure of meeting the Communist speaker who addressed the meeting on Blank street last evening?”
COMMUNIST: “Your face seems familiar to me, too.”
INDIVIDUALIST: “Doubtless you may have seen me there, or at some kindred place. I am glad at the opportunity to talk with you as your speech proved you to be somewhat of a thinker. Perhaps—”
COMMUNIST: “Ah, indeed, I recognize you now. You are the apostle of capitalistic Anarchism!”
INDIVIDUALIST: “Capitalistic Anarchism ? Oh, yes, if you choose to call it so. Names are indifferent to me; I am not afraid of bugabo... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Perhaps I had better say the Mirror-reflection,—the reflection of all that he has been and is, the hinting fore-flashing of something of what he may become. In so considering it, let it be understood that I speak of no particular form of literature, but the entire body of a people’s expressed thought, preserved either traditionally, in writing, or in print.
The majority of lightly thinking, fairly read people, who make use of the word “literature” rather easily, do so with a very indistinct idea of its content. To them it usually means a certain limited form of human expression, chiefly works of the imagination—poetry, drama, the various forms of the novel. History, philosophy, science are rather frowning name... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.) Here was one guard, and here was the other at this end. I was here opposite the gate. You know those problems in geometry of the hare and the hounds, they never run straight, but always in a curve, so, see? And the guard was no smarter than the dogs. If he had run straight he would have caught me.
It was Peter Kropotkin telling of his escape from the Petro-Paulovsky fortress. Three crumbs on the table marked the relative position of the outwitted guards and the fugitive prisoner; the speaker had broken them from the bread on which he was lunching and dropped them on the table with an amused grin. The suggested triangle had been the starting point of the life long exile of the greatest man, save Tolstoy alone, that Russia has produced: fro... (From: Anarchy Archives.) Six years have passed since William McKinley met his doom at Buffalo and the return stroke of justice took the life of his slayer, Leon Czolgosz. The wild rage that stormed through the brains of the people, following that revolver shot, turning them into temporary madmen, incapable of seeing, hearing, or thinking correctly, has spent itself. Figures are beginning to appear in their true relative proportions, and there is some likelihood that sane words will be sanely listened to. Instead of the wild and savage threats, “Brand the Anarchists with hot iron,” “Boil in oil,” “Hang to the first lamp-post,” “Scourge and shackle,” “Deport to a desert island,” which were the stock phrases ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)