Libertia Society Featured Author Series: #4 Voltairine de Cleyre

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March 26, 2015 by Racheltd

DeCleyreQuote1-3Voltairine de Cleyre (1866-1912)

Who was she?

An American political philosopher, anarchist, feminist, and poet, Voltairine de Cleyre was a prolific writer and speaker. One of the least well known of the individualist anarchist philosophers, her passionate and eloquent political writings focused on the opposing the state and the subjugation of women in marriage and religion. A close friend of Emma Goldman, de Cleyre once said: “Miss Goldman is a communist; I am an individualist. She wishes to destroy the right of property, I wish to assert it.” Ms Goldman said of de Cleyre in turn, “[She is] the most gifted and brilliant anarchist woman America ever produced.”

There is a very comprehensive website with links to essays, a biography and additional resources here:

Where should I start?

Why I am an Anarchist This brilliant essay explores the de Cleyre’s fundamental arguments for anarchism from an individualist perspective and her logical process in coming to her conclusions.

The Selected Works of Voltairine de Cleyre Her only book, published posthumously, explores a variety of political topics in essay and includes many of her poems as well.

Exquisite Rebel: The Essays of Voltairine de Cleyre: Feminist, Anarchist, Genius Part biography, part collection of essays, this book curates and comments on some of the most important of de Cleyre’s writings.

What are some awesome quotes by her?

That indeed is the triumphant word of Anarchism: it comes as the logical conclusion of three hundred years of revolt against external temporal and spiritual authority – the word which has no compromise to offer, which holds before us the unswerving ideal of the Free Man.  -“Why I Am an Anarchist” (1908)

Now for the remedy. It is in one word, the only word that ever brought equity anywhere – LIBERTY! Centuries upon centuries of liberty is the only thing that will cause the disintegration and decay of these pestiferous ideas. Liberty was all that calmed the bloodwaves of religious persecution! You cannot cure serfhood by any other substitution. -“Sex Slavery” (1890)

I believe that children may be as well brought up in an individual home, or in a communal home, as in a dual home; and that impressions of life will be far pleasanter if received in an atmosphere of freedom and independent strength than in an atmosphere of secret repression and discontent. I have no very satisfactory solutions to offer to the various questions presented by the child-problem; but neither do the advocates of marriage.  -“They Who Marry Do Ill” (1908)

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