MORAL COERCION by Ricardo Mella. Translated by Paul Sharkey. eBook £1.50/€1.25 (see eBookshelf)

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Galician-born surveyor Ricardo Mella (1861-1925) is regarded by many as one of the major theorists of anarchism in Spain. His moderate tone and outlook set the keynote for fellow-anarchists in Galicia and Asturias as he oposed jacobinism, regionalism, political socialism and extremism of any hue. While many embraced Ferrer’s rationalist educational methods, Mella campaigned for “neutral” education. Himself an anarcho-collectivist by inclination, he was one of those who brought Spanish anarchism out of the ghetto and into the workplace. His wide reading, incisive mind and preparedness to tackle the big subjects without going for extremist position has left a lasting imprint on the libertarian movement in Spain. In this work he considers the question — Can society really cope without law and government? What is the nature of moral coercion? How does it manifest itself in human relationships? What is its role in a free and egalitarian society? and how modern capitalist society turns moral coercion on its head.

“Whenever we posit that in a free society founded upon equality of condition moral coercion will be enough to maintain the harmony and peace between men, we are stating something that cries out for clear and precise proof.

“Folk being used to the belief that everything that happens in the world happens by the efforts and grace of governments, and persuaded that they themselves count for nothing in the life of society, so much so that they think of themselves are mere cogs in the machinery of government, it is going to be hard to explain to them how human society might function with no compulsion other than that deployed naturally and mutually by the members of society. So, even though the impact of moral coercion may be a self-evident fact today, we need to show that the world dances to the tune of said mutually suggestive force and that it, on its own, is enough to ensure that human groups with sound foundations can develop and survive.

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MY DISILLUSIONMENT IN RUSSIA by Emma Goldman. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

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“Deported American anarchist Emma Goldman travels to Russia for the first time in 30 years. She provides a revealing picture on the rampant oportunism throughout the Soviet government and its steady roots throughout the bureacracy. In addition she focuses on how the Soviet government began to open its arms after the Civil War to those who once had fought against it: the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and even the old tsarists. While these forces of the right were now coming into cooperation with the Soviet government, those on the extreme left saw an utter betrayal of revolutionary principles. At the one hand, during the Civil War, the Bolsheviks were much too brutal to the rightists, now they were much too nice. The extreme left then began to adamantly push for the overthrow of the Soviet government. Goldman explains life in Soviet Russia from the viewpoint of the extreme left revolutionaries, and charts the undemocratic injustices that occur to them as a result.

“Goldman was dismayed when she discovered that Doubleday, Page & Company had, without informing her, changed the title of her work from “My Two Years in Russia” to “My Disillusionment in Russia.” Even worse, the publisher cut the last twelve chapters of the manuscript (starting with Chapter 22: Odessa), omitting her account of crucial events such as the Kronstadt rebellion and the afterword in which she reflected on the trajectory of the revolution after the Bolsheviks seized power. At Goldman’s insistence, the omitted chapters were published as a separate volume: My Further Disillusionment in Russia (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1924). The complete text in one volume, with an introduction by Rebecca West, appeared the following year: My Disillusionment in Russia (London: C. W. Daniel Company, 1925).”

MEMOIRS OF A REVOLUTIONIST by Peter Kropotkin. eBook £1.50/€2.00 (see eBookshelf)

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Peter Kropotkin’s (1842-1921) autobiographical account of his journey from privileged childhood, through military service and two years in prison to anarchist thinker and activist; it was originally serialised in The Atlantic Monthly from September 1898 to September 1899, and provides a fascinating account of his intellectual development and radicalisation, of life under tsarist rule, and of the early European socialist movement.

The following footage is of Kropotkin’s funeral procession from the village of Dmitrov, where he died, to Moscow on 13 February 1921. It turned into a protest — the last anarchist demonstration in Russia until the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The accompanying sound track is a choral rendition of a traditional Russian folk song: ‘The Sun Descends Over the Steppe’.

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ANARCHISM Kropotkin’s entry on ‘anarchism’ for the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. First published 1910. eBook £1.50/€1.30 (see eBookshelf ).

AnarchismKropotkinsmallKropotkin’s entry on ‘anarchism’ for the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica (1910).

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Anarchism is “the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being.”

“ANARCHISM (from the Gr…., and …., contrary to authority), the name given to a principle or theory of life and conduct under which society is conceived without government – harmony in such a society being obtained, not by submission to law, or by obedience to any authority, but by free agreements concluded between the various groups, territorial and professional, freely constituted for the sake of production and consumption, as also for the satisfaction of the infinite variety of needs and aspirations of a civilized being. In a society developed on these lines, the voluntary associations which already now begin to cover all the fields of human activity would take a still greater extension so as to substitute themselves for the state in all its functions. They would represent an interwoven network, composed of an infinite variety of groups and federations of all sizes and degrees, local, regional, national and international temporary or more or less permanent – for all possible purposes: production, consumption and exchange, communications, sanitary arrangements, education, mutual protection, defence of the territory, and so on; and, on the other side, for the satisfaction of an ever-increasing number of scientific, artistic, literary and sociable needs. Moreover, such a society would represent nothing immutable. On the contrary – as is seen in organic life at large – harmony would (it is contended) result from an ever-changing adjustment and readjustment of equilibrium between the multitudes of forces and influences, and this adjustment would be the easier to obtain as none of the forces would enjoy a special protection from the state.

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ANARCHY Élisée Reclus. First published 1894. eBook £1.50 (see eBookshelf ).

ReclusAnarchysmallANARCHY by Élisée Reclus. First published 1894. 

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The anarchist ideas of renowned French geographer, writer and activist Élisée Reclus (5 March 1830 – 4 July 1905) who produced his 19-volume masterwork, La Nouvelle Géographie universelle, la terre et les hommes (“Universal Geography“), over a period of nearly 20 years (1875–1894). In 1892 he was awarded the prestigious Gold Medal of the Paris Geographical Society for this work, despite having been banished from France because of his role in the Paris Commune of 1871. The text is based on a talk originally delivered to the Brussels Masonic Lodge ,“The Philanthropic Friends,” on June 18, 1894. It was later published as l’Anarchie in Les Temps Nouveaux 18 (May 25-June 1,1895).

An Anarchist on Anarchy

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 favor. Every conceivable crime is laid to our charge, and opinion, too indolent to learn the truth, is easily persuaded that Anarchy is but another name for wickedness and chaos. Overwhelmed with opprobrium and held up with hatred, we are treated on the principle that the surest way of hanging a dog is to give it a bad name.

 

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