“Direct Action” by Voltairine de Cleyre

The power of ideas to withstand the passage of times is amazing. So many philosophers have contributed to the understanding and improving of our world.  Socrates, Augustine, Locke, DesCartes, Rousseau and so many others have made great contributions that most of us ignore. One forgotten spirit who pioneered Anarchist and Feminist thought in the 1800s is Voltairine de Cleyre.  Many of her writings would be viewed by today’s reader in Canada as fairly reasonable rather than radical. Other works of hers would still be quite radical to a 21st century North American audience.

Her following essay on ‘Direct Action‘ could have been written today.  Many of the challenges facing her and her audience persist today and we can see them on the NEWS.  Here are some questions you may want to ask yourself when reading this article.

Are her proposed solutions applicable or naive?

What do you think of her historical examples?

What are some examples of Direct Action that you can think of from your life experience, or that you’ve witnessed in the news media or explored in your twentieth century history course?

Is non-violent Direct Action as explored by de Cleyre still relevant today?


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