An Important Work
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|Benjamin Ricketson Tucker|
An Important Work.
The series of articles from the pen of William Bailie, begun in this number under the general title of "Problems of Anarchism," will probably continue for many months and will deal with most of the sociological questions with which the Anarchistic movement is concerned. I have seen but a small part of the manuscript as yet, but, knowing Comrade Bailie as I do and the excellent articles that he has previously written for Liberty, I feel justified in beginning its publication, regardless of any deviations from Liberty's chosen path that future chapters may show. I do not expect that his views will differ materially from Liberty's, but in any case Comrade Bailie's earnestness and ability furnish a perfect guarantee that the differences which may develop will be worth considering.
Perhaps Liberty's readers would like to know something of this new contributor. He is a young Irish workingman, who for some years past has lived in Manchester, England There he was a Communist of the Kropotkine school, one of the most ardent workers for that cause in England, and a frequent writer for the "Commonweal." Coming to this country a year and a half ago, he made Boston his home and became intimately acquainted with Liberty, of whose teachings he, like most Communists, had a very hazy conception. The closer contact with Anarchistic thought soon inspired him with great interest in it, and he frequently sought interviews with me and with other comrades for the discussion of knotty points. The result is that he has thrown his Communism overboard and is today as good an Anarchist as one would care to see.
Regarding the series of articles now begun, he writes us as follows:
Strictly speaking, anarchism is a political rather than an economic doctrine, but it is found in practice to involve the economic aspect of society even as fundamentally as it does the political. I have long felt that Anarchist literature—at least such of it as I am acquainted with—is lacking in a connected and scientific presentation of its economic conceptions. A correlation of the main results, accepted by competent Anarchists, of what is and is not economic truth, including the special characteristics of Anarchist economics, seems to me to be a work worthy of being accomplished.
That the articles I am engaged upon will perform this function I certainly do not claim. Too well do I know my unfitness and want of preparation for such a task. Moreover, I should not care to assert that there exists the needful harmony among the believers in our doctrine in the field of economics to render such a standard work possible. One thing, however, I make bold to undertake Anarchists of some schools and nearly all other Socialists present the most hopeless confusion in their economic ideas. To dissipate some of these fallacies and endeavor to establish some principles that are sound would prove not without value. This attempt I have the temerity to make. If the effort should succeed even partially, socialist economics will decidedly gain, and the ground would be cleared somewhat for the above-mentioned task.
The preliminary part of the series is a brief and necessarily rough outline of the political attitude of Anarchy. Forming an introduction to the economic inquiry, it is doubtless likely to prove trite enough in subject matter to the renders of Liberty. I could not avoid this risk while making the scope of my subject clear.
I hope that this too modest announcement of Mr. Bailie's purpose will insure attentive consideration of what he has to offer.
- Benjamin R. Tucker, “An Important Work,” Liberty 9, no. 19 (January 7, 1893): 2.