you know, research can be amazingly stimulating and fun. just had a nice moment with regard to the new pantheon (see entry immediately below). so, one thing i am doing is putting emerson and thoreau (as well as alcott and fuller) in this group as a single political movement. now i think my best score up to this point has been documenting lucretia mott's anarchism; she is emerging as an important inspiration and directly linking figure. i think you could say that anarchism arises out of feminism as well as vice versa (cf. godwin and wollstonecraft). i notice that a number of thoreau's formulations in 'civil disobedence' resemble mott.
as it happens, we can document that thoreau saw lucretia mott preach, and can even more or less know the sermon she preached. he actually calls her a transcendentalist. she was born a decade before emerson.
from the emerging paper:
Indeed, the influence was direct. Thoreau saw Lucretia Mott preach in 1843, and wrote to his sister about it.
I believe I have not told you about Lucretia Mott. It was a good while ago I heard her at the Quaker Church in Hester St. She is a preacher, and it was advertised that she would be present on that day. I liked all the proceedings very well. . . At length, after a long silence, waiting for the spirit, Mrs. Mott rose, took off her bonnet, and began to utter very deliberately what the spirit suggested. Her self-possession was something to say [see?], if all else failed - but it did not. Her subject was the abuse of the Bible - and thence she straightaway digressed to slavery and the degradation of woman. It was a good speech - transcendentalism in its mildest form. (July 21, 1843, The Correspondence, 128)
'Mildest' here I believe is used in a somewhat Christian, lamb-of-God-type sense, because there is no doubt that Mott's preaching was fierce; we have a fair example of what Thoreau heard in her sermon of the same year "Righteousness Gives Strength to its Possessor" (Complete Speeches and Sermons, 35-52). But it is certainly significant that he regards her as preaching transcendentalism, throughout.
i am going to try to type in part of mott's 1843 sermon and post a link.
"It is always unsafe to invest man with power over his fellow being. Call no man master - that is the true doctrine." -- Lucretia Mott
ain't been blogging because i have been working on this paper about abolitionist saints, feminist ass-kickers, and anarchist freaks, essentially emerging out of abolitionism and post-puritan protestantism, say 1810-1840. these figures are unimaginably - incomparably - radical. they are anti-sexists, anti-racists, freaks for peace, anti-statists, and opponents of animal cruelty, for example. and i think you can associate them with emerson and thoreau - they were all well-known to one another - and with american anarchists such as josiah warren and lysander spooner, as soon as you don't let the fact that they are extremely christian blind you to the massive commonalities.
the figures listed below are anarchists in the sense that they are opposed to all forms of hierarchical power, including the state and capital. they are radical individualists: this is the most individualistic political movement in human history. but 'individualism' here does not at all mean self-seeking (indeed, all of these people conducted lives of tremendous self-sacrifice in service to oppressed people); rather it picks out a sense of the sacred inviolability of each human person and the source of moral authority in each human conscience. this is invariably represented as a condition of real union among persons, which is voluntary and incompatible with coercion. the abolitionists and non-resistants such as garrison and may, the transcendentalists such as emerson and alcott, the feminists such as mott and stanton: they all draw their conclusions from individualism.
one thing greatly to the credit of this group: it is the origin of american feminism. i am documenting that in the paper. figures as lucretia mott, sarah grimké, and maria weston chapman emerged out of this movement: these are the very earliest american public proponents of feminism, and they are among the first american women to insist on a voice in public affairs. but they are no less anarchistic than garrison or thoreau. this is where feminism and transcendentalism come from.
if i had to flourish one text to epitomize this group's political philosophy, it would be thoreau's 'civil disobedience' (1849), also the best statement of my political philosophy. this text also has the little advantage that it was written by the best american prose stylist of the 19th century. i believe the entire orientation is influenced by lucretia mott and other radical reformers.
but what i want to emphasize is that we should regard the feminists, abolitionists, pacifists, transcendentalists, and anarchists - whether religious or secular in orientation - as a single political movement, one of the most radical and inspiring in world history.
Anti-Authoritarian American Reformers, active circa 1820-1850
Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888) Transcendentalist, educational reformer, non-resistant, anti-capitalist, proponent of a vegan diet, and abolitionist. Lionized as a genius by Emerson and Thoreau, his reputaton has been waning since before he died. Samuel J. May's brother-in-law and Louisa May Alcott's father. Highly influenced by the feminists of his era. including Chapman, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, and Lucretia Mott. Co-founder with Garrison of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1830.
Adin Ballou (1803-1890) Universalist/Restorationist minister, abolitionist, absolute non-resistant. Ballou founded the Hopedale religious Community in Worcester County, Massachusetts in 1842. His book Christian Non-Resistance is an under-read but fundamentally influential scriptural argument for pacifism. Ballou corresponded with Tolstoy on this subject. One of the few abolitionist non-resistants to condemn John Brown's raid unambiguously and to remain a pure pacifist through the Civil War.
Maria Weston Chapman (1806-1887) Radical abolitionist, feminist, non-resistant, and educational reformer; opposed to all coercive social arrangements. Editor of a number of radical periodicals, including the Non-Resistant and The National Anti-Slavery Standard. Later reversed course on some issues and supported political abolitionism and freeing slaves by military force. Grandmother of the writer John Jay Chapman.
Lydia Maria Child (1802-1880): Pioneering author, feminist, abolitionist, advocate of Indian rights, and non-resistant. Associated in many of these capacities with Maria Weston Chapman, Angelina Grimké, Margaret Fuller and Bronson Alcott. Wrote perhaps the first book urging immediate, uncompensated emancipation in 1833. Helped Harriett Jacobs compose one of the most extreme and moving slave narratives, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Like Chapman, Angelina Grimké and others, qualified her non-resistance and associated anti-statism in the 1850s as Kansas exploded and John Brown geared up for a paroxysm of violence.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1886) Unitarian minister, like his father, and then beloved essayist, lecturer, and sage of transcendentalism. Like Thoreau, he despised fanaticism and stood to some extent aloof from reform movements. Yet he was certainly an abolitionist. He saw Mott speak and expressed his admiration. He endorsed (at least on occasion) non-resistance, and drew anarchist conclusions immediately. Knew and admired Garrison, though also worried about his tendencies toward fanaticism. Connected also to other figures through Samuel J. May. "Self-Reliance' and 'Politics', among many other essays, show his development of the radical individualism and vision of freedom common to al these figures, religious and secular.
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850): Central figure of transcendentalism and pioneering feminist. Wrote the key text "The Great Lawsuit: Man vs. Woman" in the early 1840s (later expanded into Woman in the Nineteenth Century (1845)), secularizing the individualist feminism of Mott and the Grimkés. Supporter of a variety of reforms. The first professional book critic in America. Connected to the Italian and European revolutionaries of the 1848 wave, such as Mazzini.
William Lloyd Garrison (b. 1805-1879): Garrison was the leader of the radical wing of American abolitionism, arguing from a radical Protestant Christianity for the immediate abolition of slavery and the secession of the non-slave from the slave states. He was also an advocate of feminism and non-resistance, the latter on Biblical grounds. From his radical pacifism, Garrison concluded that human governments, all of which rest on force, are entirely illegitimate. Publisher of The Liberator, America’s anti-slavery and anti-war conscience. He burned copies of the Constitution, calling it “a pact with the devil.”
Sarah (1792-1873) and Angelina (1805-1879) Grimké: Sisters raised in South Carolina in a slaveholding family (their father was the Chief Justice of the state), but Sarah found herself disgusted by slavery. Converted to Quakerism on a trip to Philadelphia in 1819 (especially by Woolman's writings). The sisters' abolitionist lectures of the late 1820s were among the very first acts of public advocacy by American women. Sarah's Letters on the Equality of the Sexes (1837) is among the earliest American feminist texts, approaching the matter from a deeply religious individualism. Angelina married Theodore Dwight Weld in an egalitarian ceremony in 1838.
Samuel J. May (1797-1871): Schoolteacher at Concord, MA and then an eminent Unitarian minister. Preached reforms - including peace, feminism, and abolitionism - from Emerson's pulpit in 1831. Educational reformer advocating racially integrated and co-educational classrooms. Converted to the cause of peace by Noah Worcester. Founder with Garrison of the New England Anti-Slavery Society and the Non-Resistance Society. His Rights and Condition of Women in 1846 advocated total equality of the sexes. His sister married Bronson Alcott, so he was Louisa May's uncle.
Nathaniel Peabody Rogers (1794-1846), radical abolitionist and anti-statist or even 'no-organizationist', publisher of the New Hampshire abolitionist paper Herald of Freedom, subject of essays by Thoreau and Whittier. Began as a Christian non-resistant (and an anarchist on those grounds), but expressed more and more religious skepticism as his life went on. “Men better be without tongues and organs and powers, than not use them sovereignly. If it be not safe to entrust self-government of speech to mankind, there had better not be any mankind. Slavery is worse than non-existence. A society involving it is worse than none. The earth had better go unpeopled than inhabited by vassals.” nathaniel peabody rogers site
Lysander Spooner (1808-1887): Spooner was a deist, abolitionist, and individualist anarchist. His work The Unconstitutionality of Slavery (1846) was an amazingly accomplished exercise in legal interpretation, taking a position rejected by the Garrisonians, who held that the Constitution recognized slavery, and thus that the American government was illegitimate (Spooner agreed with the l;atter bit on independent grounds). In his time, he set up a private competitor to the Post Office, and tried to organize an incursion to free John Brown after the Harper's Ferry raid. Such works as No Treason (1867-70) and Vices Are Not Crimes (1875) are classics of libertarian thought. The central idea (as it was not for Warren or the transcendentalists) is concept of natural rights. lysanderspooner.org
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) American ecccentric, radical, naturalist and genius. I would suggest that 'Civil Disobedience' (1849) is the best statement of this movement as a political philosophy. Saw Lucretia Mott preach in 1843, an experience which I believe is reflected in that essay and elsewhere. He expressed anti-statist sentiments in many places, including A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, "Life Without Principle," and so on. Cooperated with Garrison in helping escaped slaves hide and make their way to Canada.
Josiah Warren (1798-1874) Often held to be the founder of individualist anarchism, but also an anti-capitalist. Warren joined Robert Owen’s New Harmony Community (probably the first secular American ideal community) in the 1820s, rejected what he called its “communism,” and spent the rest of his career setting out and founding communities based on a radically individualistic metaphysics, in some ways similar to Thoreau and Emerson’s. He rejected the profit motive and yet insisted on the sanctity of property and conscience. Published “the first anarchist periodical” – The Peaceful Revolutionist – in 1833. Projects included the Time Stores; Utopia, Ohio; and Modern Times, New York, perhaps the wildest Temporary Autonomous Zone in American history. the josiah warren project
Theodore Dwight Weld (1803-1895) Weld served as assistant pastor to Charles Grandison Finney in the revivals beginning in 1825 that became known as the Second Great Awakening. Leader of the "Lane Rebels," a group of young radical preachers advocating free speech, free inquiry and abolitionism originating at the Lane Theological Seminary in Ohio. Advocate and agitator and preacher of abolitionism, feminism, temperance, and peace (but not anti-statism). Assisted John Quincy Adams in the petition controversy before Congress. Married Angelina Grimké in a ceremony without a clergyman, in which she did not promise to obey him. Author of American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses (1839).
Noah Worcester (1758-1837) A fifer in the Revolutionary Army, he fought at Bunker Hill. Worcester was a Unitarian minister in New Hampshire and founder of the American peace movement. Published A Solemn Review of the Custom of War, a fundamental text in the history of pacifism and opposition to war, in 1814. Founded the Massachusetts Peace Society in 1815.
Henry Clarke Wright (1797-1870) Associate of Garrison’s for much of his career and among the most unequivocal anarchists of the period. Co-Founder of the New England Non-Resistance Society. Began as a Christian non-resistant and wrote such tracts as Ballot Box and Battle Field, which condemned all human government as violence and claimed that voting itself was an act of violence as expressing cooperation with the state. Later at least qualified his Christianity and advocated a host of reforms.
Lewis Perry, Radical Abolitionism: Anarchy and the Government of God in Antislavery Thought (Cornell University Press, 1973)
Valerie Ziegler, The Advocates of Peace in Antebellum America (Indiana University Press, 1992)
Kraditor, Means and Ends in American Abolitionism: Garrison and His Critics on Strategy and Tactics, 1834-1850 (Pantheon, 1969)
Some primary texts
Lucretia Mott, Her Complete Speeches and Sermons, Dana Green, ed. (Mellen, 1980)
Letters of Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimké Weld and Sarah Grimké, Gilbert Barnes and Dwight Dumons, eds. (De Capo, 1970)
The Practical Anarchist: Writings of Josiah Warren, Crispin Sartwell, ed. (Fordham, 2010)
In which Crusader AXE muses on the positive aspects of moonshining, rumrunning, beer brewing , and marijauna over Chrystal METH and tobacco; and, on being a craft brewer, craft distiller, moonshiner or herbal remedy distributor as opposed to a regular job...and advocates bounties for METH COOKERS and Hookah lounge operators, both on aesthetic grounds.
In which Crusader AXE is inspired by Crispin, Martin Luther King and Adam Smith to use the axe to sharpen his pen and gets ink all over every goddamned thing...but, with some good videos, the Jefferson Bible and the whole City on a Hill thing in context...and channels Ronald Reagan on Ayn Rand...well, about Ayn Rand. The alternative is too gruesome to consider.
12:22 well obama was notably wooden.
12:15 have to say, no matter what your view, there is something hopeful about roberts the turncoat. sometimes you wonder whether anyone is capable of independent ratiocination. it's just possible that scalia managed to alienate the chief justice.
10:21 it would be funny if roberts upheld on the grounds of the power to tax. the obama administration wasn't going to make that argument because then they would be portrayed as raising taxes. in other words, they precluded themselves from making the winning argument for reasons of political vocabulary. then they got bailed out: well, then we'll make the argument for you.
10:18 cnn has reported that the individual mandate has been struck down, that the whole thing has been upheld, and that parts have been struck down, parts upheld. geez y'all.
10 am: pretty wild counting down moment by moment to a supreme court decision, like a space launch. msnbc is still running paired political consultants, the last people you want to hear parse something like this.
Making entirely too much of a Huff Post piece on the Pope and Fox collaborating, Crusader AXE enlists the unelected legislators of manking to make sense of it all...and Joni, Marlon, Tommy E and WEB answer the call...and poetry ensues.
However, as I dare say you - like Jean-Paul Sartre - have noticed, people can be annoying. We need distance from, as much as we need association with, one another. Thoreau tried for both: he would walk from Walden Pond to Concord, hang out with his dear friends the Emersons and the Alcotts, and then retreat to his hovel to be fairly happily alone. Walmart is no Concord. And if Greg will pardon my saying so, he is no Emerson or Alcott, though possibly he is a better golfer than either. Then again, he is also not my dear friend...
Crispin Sartwell is a friend of mine. We are supposedly charter members of the Defeatists as well as my being an occasional commentator here. As you most be aware if you're reading this, Crispy is a philosophy professor for Dickinson College, a former rock and roll critic, a retired environmental terrorist and a fairly interesting guy for a lot of reasons, including his part time job as a blackjack and three card monte dealer in an alley in back of Trump's in Atlantic City. He has kids, college looming and teaches philosophy at a private college. Cut the man some slack, OK! Selling a piece to the NY Times is a big fucking deal -- he can afford new socks, and some actual hamburger now.
This is an interesting piece for a lot of reasons. Although some of the Defeatist-Malcontent collective and carp fishing gang professed confusion at what he was saying, I think he was being cynically lyrical. Crispin appears to be going through a phase, sort of a male menopause thing...I kind of like the idea of Walmart as our Walden, since except for pithy phrases here and there, I despise Walden...The Transcendentalists were smug, self-satisfied bourgeois Babbits who inflicted themselves on us ever since. Emerson, Longfellow, Thoreau are not and never were Tinker, Evers and Chance. Or, Burroughs, Kerouac and Ginsberg. The insufferable rightness of the Yankee ascendency irritates me -- concepts do have dates, citing another philosophical friend of mine, Mary Hunt.
Hey, baby, Crusader AXE here. I know I owe a follow-up and I'm working away at it in between playing the guitar poorly and corresponding with my Russian ballerina stalker from the Kalashnikov factory, but somethings take precedence. Allen West has gone the full McCarthy down in Florida, claiming that he's heard that 80 members of the Democratic Congressional Delegation are card carrying communists. How quaint...while duelling pistols would have been in order back in the day these clowns long for, West should remember that Burr and Jackson won their duels. Anyway, congratulations to Crispin on winning the coveted Duns Scrotus Award for Philosophical Magic and enjoy. In the spirit of full disclosure, I should point out that the Defeatists did endorse Gus Hall, long time chair of the American Communist Party, back in 2008. Mr. Hall was very pleased, but couldn't make the nominating convention because Satan wouldn't let him out of hell, where he'd resided since 2000. Previously, we had endorsed a ticket of Cthulhu and Crispin. I'm kind of thinking Allen West and Levi Johnson's mom for this year's ticket, but we're open as always for suggestions. I gotta say, as I get older, Roger Miller gets A. Deader and B. Far More Profound...
I've been quiet even though there have been a lot of things I've wanted to chime in on. However, the murder of Trayvon Martin has provoked a response. When exactly did behavior by self-appointed guardians of the people as lousy as the B-Specials in Ulster in 1968, the Klan in 1954, or the Security Forces in South Africa become legal in Florida? Self-defense is a universal defense if there actually is a threat...a black teen armed with skittles doesn't cut it as a defense for murder or Manslaughter 1. Florida is now less civilized than South Africa -- hell, the stats would probably bear us out on this. Sad -- we're less a civil society than we were in 1980...but then, why does that surprise me?
Slante' friends, we need it.
if mitt romney gets elected president this year, i propose that that is a reductio ad absurdum of our political culture and procedures. he will be elected as a servant of the wealthy, and he will be elected by means of their wealth, at a moment when the hierarchy of wealth has grown excruciating. he is a person of no visible convictions whose whole procedure is to purchase the presidency by means of an infinite barrage of mindless attack ads. the idea at that point would be to move from occupy to destroy. but let me say again: a television commercial does not actually constrain anyone to do anything, and we'd need not only resistance, but some kind of universal self-examination. an american people who can be manipulated this thoroughly by money needs some kind of intellectual or spiritual awakening; folks with so little epistemic autonomy need to change their minds. an endless repetition of the same message ought to have the effect of making people loathe and reject it, not agree or vote for it. the last thing you want to do is prove professors of communication right.
after an exhaustive and of course irrefutable quantitative analysis, our research team has arrived at the following strictly scientific conclusions: the united states of america is the 741st-greatest nation the world has ever known, with the 876th-most-heroic military. as you might expect, the hittites finished first, followed closely by the mongol khanate. the latter got bonus points for being the funnest nation in history, which admittedly is not saying much.