All-American Anarchist: Joseph A. Labadie and the Labor Movement

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While I am not a huge fan of biographies, I picked this book up because I am interested in learning more about anarchism in America. It seems that with the exception of Emma Goldman and occasionally Alexander Berkman (although he does not get much mention except for his shooting of Henry Clay Frick or his relationship to Emma Goldman), anarchists in the United States have been largely left out of both history books and studies on anarchism. Perhaps such an exclusion is due to the weakness of the anarchist movement in the United States compared to Europe and Russia, but I still believe it is worth studying.

Joseph A. Labadie was involved in the struggle for socialism, labor rights, and eventually anarchism, along the way working with the Knights of Labor and various other labor organizations both in Michigan and on the national level. There are certainly many contradictory aspects in Labadie’s thought, and while some of those contradictions may be addressed if one was to read his writings rather than rely on this biography, this book presents a man with conflicted positions on several issues. Many of the contradictions seem to be a result of his “individualist anarchism,” a type of anarchism favored by Labadie and many other American anarchists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Nevertheless, I found this book to be worth reading, as there are currently no titles in publication containing Labadie’s writings and there are relatively few books on anarchists in the United States compared to the literature available on the European movement.

Carlotta R. Anderson, All-American Anarchist: Joseph A. Labadie and the Labor Movement, (Wayne State University Press, 1998).

Author: mediamouse

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