An excerpt from “Confessions of an Anarchist” | W.C Hart | 1906

1845-1945, Benjamin R. Tucker, Book, Liberty, Max Stirner, Ragnar Redbeard / Monday, June 25th, 2018

Confessions of an Anarchist is a 1906 expose of anarchism, and appears to be written by someone very much involved in the British anarchist milieu at the turn of the century, The book is prefaced:

The author of this work has spent some ten years among Anarchists, and in the study of Anarchist publications. He was for some time secretary to two Anarchist “groups,” and a well-known figure in Anarchist circles. Besides this, he was an occasional contributor with his pen to the Torch of Anarchy, Freedom, The Commonweal, Liberty, and The Alarm. He has, consequently, some claim to be considered an authority on the subject of which he treats.

William Hart is writing as an ex-Anarchist, and moreso one that believes Anarchism needs to be officially suppressed.

Chapter thirteen, titled “Anarchist Precepts”, we find a list of 25 concepts that define, according to the author, the fundamentals of Anarchism. Among this list is: Repudiation of just debts, Abortion, Burglary, Prostitution, and Indiscriminate Murder. Each precept is illustrated with quotes by individuals or publications in the anarchist milieu to reinforce the notion that this is anarchist dogma.

Below, we’ve excerpted number twelve, “might is right”, where the author quotes, Max Stirner, Ragnar Redbeard, Benjamin Tucker and the British journal Freedom. One thing to note is that since the book came out in 1906, the Stirner quote is before a full translation of the book had been published in English, so it shows that Stirner’s reputation and ideas preceded his comprehension. Indeed, it is common that most people who critically read Stirner believe that he has hardly been interpreted correctly in the 110 years since he was published in English.

12. Might is Right.—”Whoever has might, has right; if you have not the former you have not the latter.” (Max Stirner, “Der Einzige und sein Eigenthum,” 2nd ed., Leipzig, 1882, pp. 196-197.)

“The strong must ever rule the weak, is grim primordial law—
On earth’s broad racial threshing floor, the meek are beaten straw—
Then ride to Power o’er foemen’s necks; let nothing bar your way.
If you are fit you’ll rule and reign, is the logic of to-day.”
—Ragnar Redbeard.

“So far as inherent right is concerned, might is its only measure. Any man, be his name Bill Sykes or Alexander Romanoff, or any set of men, whether the Chinese highbinders or the Congress of the United States, have the right, if they have the power, to kill or coerce other men and to make the entire world subservient to their ends. Society’s right to enslave the individual and the individual’s right to enslave society are unequal only because their powers are unequal.” (Benj. R. Tucker, in Liberty, New York, November 15, 1890.)

“The natural law concerning possessions is this: ‘That they should take who have the power, and they should keep who can.'” (Freedom, August, 1889.)

What this entry does show is that Redbeard’s book was explicitly connected to anarchism and explicitly to Max Stirner very early on, by those inside the milieu. Because Redbeard has been adopted by the “right” today, many don’t know that he came from the “left” and was himself a labor leader and advocate for many years, literally fighting in the street. His book Might is Right was read by Wobblies and Egoists alike, and not just at the turn of the century, but through the 20th.

Become a patron at Patreon!