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Josiah Warren, a Most Unlikely Internationalist

Fri, 05/04/2018 - 16:22

By Shawn P. Wilbur
www.libertarian-labyrinth.org

Josiah Warren was, famously, not a joiner. He habitually quarreled with anyone who suggested that he had followers or had founded a school. By his own account, after his early adventures with Owenite socialism, he only ever joined one organization—but what an organization! It appears that, for roughly a month in the summer of 1873, Josiah Warren was affiliated with Section 26, of Philadelphia, of the International Workingmen’s Association.

Warren was certainly not the only individualist anarchist who took an interest in the I. W. A., and participated to some extent in the activities of its American sections. William B. Greene has been the primary author of an Address of the Internationals, issued by Boston’s French-speaking Section 1, and published by the Heywoods’ Co-operative publishing Company. Various others, such as Joshua King Ingalls and Lewis Masquerier, are supposed to have been affiliated, and the faction around Victoria Woodhull and Stephen Pearl Andrews, pushing a typically Andrusian mix of extreme individualism and integralist centralization, made enough of a nuisance of themselves that they were effectively purged from the International by Marx’s faction even before he dealt with Bakunin. But Warren was not one of those conscious dialectical, or trialectical, or synthesist mutualists. At the end of his life, he showed no evidence that he had read Proudhon, bristling at the phrase “property is theft” like someone unacquainted with any of the subtleties involved. His aversion to connecting interests seems to have extended even to the various “reform leagues” organized by his fellow-radicals—organizations primarily characterized by their almost purely formal character.

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