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(en) Freedom 6320 19th Oct. 2002 - Reviews

From FreedomCopy@aol.com
Date Fri, 1 Nov 2002 02:23:40 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

The World's First Anarchist Manifesto
by Anselme Bellegarrigue
Kate Sharpley Library, £2

There are countless anarchist manifestos, primers and
beginners' ABCs. Not all of them are particularly good.
Anselme Bellegarrigue's Anarchist Manifesto, written some
time in May or June 1850, is a piece of work not all of us
will relate to but which ultimately serves as an interesting
addition to the body of anarchist history. Bellegarrigue
couldn't be considered as an anarchist from the socialist
school of thought, as Bakunin, Kropotkin and Malatesta
were (none of whose anarchist work had been written at that
time, of course). His inspiration was drawn more from the
liberalist ideas of Godwin, and of course from Proudhon.
The essential approach of his manifesto is to say that
anarchy is order and government civil war, because
government by default means society is divided into those in
power and those who aren't. In other words, the existence of
government implies social division and inequality. I doubt
many anarchists would disagree with this, but ultimately his
writing is of a personal nature, and highly individualist. "I
deny everything and affirm naught but myself", he writes.
He does talk, though, of a collective will of the people and
believes that what's best for the individual is best for the
people as a whole.
This early outline of anarchist ideas is also tainted by a
strong element of moral thinking, and his opposition to
government could be seen as being based purely on this. He
argues, for example, that government creates slaves rather
than citizens, subordinating them to a corrupt will. His
argument isn't based on ideas of class or on the economic
relationships of capitalism, as its 1848 Marxist cousin was.
If you're a class struggle anarchist, you probably won't like
this. But for anyone who's interested in the origins and
development of anarchist ideas, it's a vital text.
Callum Berlin
Available from Freedom Press at £2 (plus 50p p&p in the
UK, £1 elsewhere).

The Story of a Proletarian Life
by Bartolomeo Vanzetti
Kate Sharpley Library, £1.50

In April 1920 two Massachusetts payroll clerks were gunned
down in a wages snatch. The following year Nicola Sacco
and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were found guilty of being
anarchists and poor immigrants too, and sentenced to death
for murder. They went to the chair in 1927, four years after
Vanzetti's autobiographical essay (now reissued by Kate
Sharpley Library) was first published.
Vanzetti's courage and sharp intelligence did him no more
favours in the 1920s than his political convictions. But now,
75 years later, they emerge again in his account of what was
an unremarkable man's unremarkable life - until the day of
his arrest. But for that, in his most quoted words (contained
in this essay), "I might have lived out my life talking at
street corners to scorning men. I might have died
unmarked, unknown, a failure. Now we are not a failure.
This is our career and our triumph".
This pamphlet is an account of what was simultaneously a
gross miscarriage of justice, a mark of shame the American
state still bears, a defining moment in the development of
the twentieth century's labour movement and a personal
victory for its author. Read it and salute his memory.
Johnny M.
Available from Freedom Press at £1.50 (plus 50p p&p in the
UK, £1 elsewhere).

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