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Anarchism (from Greek ἀν (without) + ἄρχειν (to rule) + ισμός (from stem -ιζειν), "without archons", "without rulers") is often defined as a political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, or harmful. Some anarchists have argued that while anti-statism is central, it is inadequate to define anarchism. This traditional notion of anarchism entails opposition to all authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system. In particular, it includes opposition to religion and capital, resulting in the famous anarchist proclamations "Property is theft!" and "No gods, no masters!" Proponents of anarchism, known as "anarchists", advocate stateless societies based on non-hierarchical free associations.

Anarchism as a mass social movement has regularly endured fluctuations in popularity. The central tendency of anarchism as a social movement has been represented by anarcho-communism and anarcho-syndicalism, with individualist anarchism being primarily a literary phenomenon (which nevertheless did have an impact on the bigger currents, including the participation of individualists in large anarchist organizations). Many anarchists oppose all forms of aggression, supporting self-defense or non-violence (anarcho-pacifism), while others have supported the use of some coercive measures, including violent revolution and propaganda of the deed, on the path to an anarchist society.

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Emma Goldman, ca. 1910

Emma Goldman (June 27, 1869 – May 14, 1940) was a Lithuanian-born anarchist known for her political activism, writing, and speeches. She was lionized as a free-thinking "rebel woman" by admirers, and derided as an advocate of politically-motivated murder and violent revolution by her critics. Goldman played a pivotal role in the development of anarchist political philosophy in the United States and Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Although she distanced herself from first-wave feminism and its efforts toward women's suffrage, she developed new ways of incorporating gender politics into anarchism. She spoke and wrote on a wide variety of issues, including prisons, atheism, freedom of speech, militarism, capitalism, marriage, and free love. After decades of obscurity, Goldman's iconic status was revived in the 1970s, when feminist and anarchist scholars rekindled popular interest about her life.

Born to an Orthodox Jewish family which forbid her from further education, Goldman read voraciously and educated herself about the politics of her time. She moved to New York in the United States at the age of sixteen, married briefly in 1887, and moved to New York City. Attracted to anarchism after the Haymarket Riot, Goldman was trained by Johann Most in public speaking and became a renowned lecturer, attracting crowds of thousands. She also became the lover of Alexander Berkman, who became her lifelong intimate friend and comrade. Together they planned unsuccessfully to assassinate Henry Clay Frick, as an act of propaganda of the deed. Goldman herself was imprisoned several times in the years that followed, for "inciting to riot" and illegally distributing information about birth control. Goldman published an anarchist journal called Mother Earth. Following her deportation to Russia in 1919, Goldman lived in England, Canada, and France, before eventually traveling to Spain to participate in that nation's civil war. She died in Toronto on 14 May 1940. (read more...)

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Interior of Left Bank Books, Seattle
Credit: Adam

Interior of Left Bank Books, a Seattle-based worker-owned co-operative bookstore. Infoshops such as Left Bank Books are social centers that serve as a node for the distribution of anarchist information and as meeting spaces and resource hubs for local activist groups.

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Amilcare Cipriani

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Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Anniversaries for January 16

  • 1880 – Paulette Brupbacher lives (1880-1967), Pinsk (Pelta), Russia (today in Bielorussia). A physician, militant feminist, anarchist, author of numerous books & articles. An opponent of all conformisms & partisan disciplines. Partner & collaborator of Fritz Brupacher (also a doctor) (1874-1945), friend of James Guillaume, Pytor Kropotkin, et al. Translated The Confession of the Russian anarchist Michael Bakunin.
  • 1908 – France: Jean Bourguer lives. Textile worker, militant anarchist, antimilitarist, anticlérical & revolutionary syndicalist.
  • 1919 – Argentina: End of « Semaine Sanglante ». ("Bloody Week") in Buenos Aires. The General Strike begun a week ago, on the 7th, is crushed in blood, with as many as 700 dead & 2000 wounded. The militant Argentinean anarchist movement is decimated by the repression which follows & trade union reformists gain control of the workers' movement.
  • 1936 – Spain: Socialists / communists / anarchists form "Unidad Popular."
  • 1958 – Eusebio C. Carbó (b. 1883), militant Spanish anarchist, dies.
  • 1968 – The Youth International Party was founded in the USA by Abbie Hoffman and others.

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