Friday, September 04, 2009

SOCIALISM AND ANARCHISM BY WILL DURANT (1914)

Part 1

It is almost two years now since Lola Ridge, on
behalf of the executive board of the Francisco
Ferrer Association, honored me with the proposal
that I become the teacher of the Ferrer Modern
School. I remember very distinctly part of the conversation
we had.
“But you are almost all Anarchists here,” I said ;
“are you sure that you want a Socialist to come and
take charge of your school?”
I do not remember that Miss Ridge was entirely
sure of this. But she was quite confident on another
point.
“I’m sure,” she said, her eyes all aglow with her
own firm faith, “that when you get to know more
about anarchism you will become an anarchist too.”
It was then less than a year since I had escaped
from a Catholic seminary (I had almost said
cemetery,- which would have been a very trivial
error) ; and I could forgive Miss Ridge for implying
that my ignorance of anarchism was quite
encyclopedic. Touched to the marrow of my egotism,
I resolved that so far as my work should permit
I would study anarchism and anarchists until
blue in the face. I proceeded at once to make the
acquaintance of anarchist theory from Zeno to Kropotkin,
and revelled for quite a year in the exhila-
rating iconoclasm of Stirner and Nietzsche, Tolstoi
and Whitman. Incidentally, I made the acquaintance
of anarchist men and women, and found them,
for the most part, actuated by such honest revolutionary
ardor as went straight to my heart (not
to my head). Some of them were narrow-minded
in their attitude towards socialism, just as some of
us-let us tell the truth and shame the devil- have
been narrow-minded in our attitude towards
anarchism; but I found others, too, who were sincere
students and who met my scepticism not with
the futile reiterations of bigotry but with the earnest
discussion of the honest seeker after truth. I owe
much to these men.
Now, after two years of listening and reading and
thinking, I feel that I may warrantably set down my
conclusions ,-not with any delusion as to their permanence
in the face of further mental acquisition
and development, but with the hope that this brief
self-expression will help to clarify my own thought,
and incidentally, perhaps, to clarify if only by disagreement
the thought of such friends as may care
to read.

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