John P. Clark
John Clark is a native of the Island of New Orleans, where his family has lived for twelve generations, and where he and all of his children and grandchildren continue to reside. He works with Common Knowledge: The New Orleans Cooperative Education Exchange and the Institute for the Radical Imagination. He was formerly Gregory F. Curtin Distinguished Professor of Humane Letters and the Professions, Professor of Philosophy, and a member of the Environment Program faculty at Loyola University. He continues to teach in the Loyola Summer Program in Dharamsala, India. His books include Max Stirner’s Egoism, The Philosophical Anarchism of William Godwin, The Anarchist Moment, Anarchy, Geography, Modernity, The Impossible Community: Realizing Communitarian Anarchism, and The Tragedy of Common Sense (forthcoming). He edited Renewing the Earth: The Promise of Social Ecology and Elisée Reclus’ Voyage to New Orleans, and co-edited Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology and Les Français des Etats-Unis. Works under his pseudonym, Max Cafard, include The Surregionalist Manifesto and Other Writings, FLOOD BOOK, Surregional Explorations, and Lightning Storm Mind (forthcoming). He is at work on a second volume of The Anarchist Moment, Between Earth and Empire, a comprehensive reformulation of the philosophy of social ecology, The Nuclear Thing, an analysis of the radioactive object of the social imagination, The Trail of the Screaming Forehead, a critique of egoism and nihilism, and Bitter Heritage, a historico-philosophical reflection on culture and crisis in nineteenth-century New Orleans, based in part on his translation of four hundred pages of family correspondence from the mid-nineteenth century. He writes a column, "Imagined Ecologies," for the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism, and edits the cyberjournal Psychic Swamp: The Surregional Review. His interests include dialectical thought, ecological philosophy, environmental ethics, anarchist and libertarian thought, the social imaginary, cultural critique, Buddhist and Daoist philosophy, and the crisis of the Earth. An archive of nearly three-hundred of his texts can be found at http://loyno.academia.edu/JohnClark. Information on his work can also be found at http://www.johnpclark.info/, http://www.maxcafard.info/, and http://www.psychicswamp.info/. He has long been active in the radical ecology and communitarian anarchist movements. He works on ecological restoration and eco-communitarianism, which he is striving to put into practice on an 83-acre land project on Bayou LaTerre, in the forest of coastal Mississippi. He is a member of the Education Workers’ Union of the Industrial Workers of the World.
William Godwin: Philosopher, Novelist, Revolutionary
Author: Peter Marshall • Foreword: John P.Clark
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 544 pages
William Godwin has long been known for his literary connections as the husband of Mary Wollstonecraft, the father of Mary Shelley, the friend of Coleridge, Lamb, and Hazlitt, the mentor of the young Wordsworth, Southey, and Shelley, and the opponent of Malthus. Godwin has been recently recognized, however, as the most capable exponent of philosophical anarchism, an original moral thinker, a pioneer in socialist economics and progressive education, and a novelist of great skill.
His long life straddled two centuries. Not only did he live at the center of radical and intellectual London during the French Revolution, he also commented on some of the most significant changes in British history. Shaped by the Enlightenment, he became a key figure in English Romanticism.
Basing his work on extensive published and unpublished materials, Peter Marshall has written a comprehensive study of this flamboyant and fascinating figure. Marshall places Godwin firmly in his social, political, and historical context; he traces chronologically the origin and development of Godwin’s ideas and themes; and he offers a critical estimate of his works, recognizing the equal value of his philosophy and literature and their mutual illumination.
The picture of Godwin that emerges is one of a complex man and a subtle and revolutionary thinker, one whose influence was far greater than is usually assumed. In the final analysis, Godwin stands forth not only as a rare example of a man who excelled in both philosophy and literature but as one of the great humanists in the Western tradition.
“The most comprehensive and richly detailed work yet to appear on Godwin as thinker, writer, and person.”
—John P. Clark, The Tragedy of Common Sense
“An ambitious study that offers a thorough exploration of Godwin’s life and complex times.”
“Marshall steers his course . . . with unfailing sensitivity and skill. It is hard to see how the task could have been better done.”
—Michael Foot, The Observer
“It brings back a thinker who was at once visionary and confident, and who had the good fortune to write when utopian ideas did not seem utopian.”
—David Bromwich, New York Times
“An absorbing biography . . . presenting a sympathetic portrait of a principled, embattled humanist. Peter Marshall describes these voluminous and multifaceted writings discerningly.”
—M.B. Freidman, Choice
Romantic Rationalist: A William Godwin Reader
Author: William Godwin • Editor: Peter Marshall • Foreword: John P. Clark
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 192
Subjects: Political Theory/Anarchism
William Godwin (1756–1836) was one of the first exponents of utilitarianism and the first modern proponent of anarchism. He was not only a radical philosopher but a pioneer in libertarian education, a founder of communist economics, and an acute and powerful novelist whose literary family included his partner, pioneering feminist writer Mary Wollstonecraft, and his daughter Mary Godwin (later Mary Shelley), who would go on to write Frankenstein and marry the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.
His long life straddled two centuries. Not only did he live at the center of radical and intellectual London during the French Revolution, he also commented on some of the most significant changes in modern history. Shaped by the Enlightenment, he became a key figure in English Romanticism.
This work offers for the first time a handy collection of Godwin’s key writings in a clear and concise form, together with an assessment of his influence, a biographical sketch, and an analysis of his contribution to anarchist theory and practice. The selections are taken from all of Godwin’s writings including his groundbreaking work during the French Revolution, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and arranged by editor Peter Marshall to give a coherent account of his thought for the general reader.
Godwin’s work will be of interest to all those who believe that rationality, truth, happiness, individuality, equality, and freedom are central concerns of human enquiry and endeavor.
“Peter Marshall has produced the most useful modern account of Godwin’s life and now the most useful modern anthology of his writings. Marshall’s selection is sensible and valuable, bringing out the important points. . . . His introduction is a good summary of Godwin’s life and work. . . . Marshall is right to see him as ‘the most profound exponent of philosophical anarchism.’”
—Nicolas Walter, New Statesman
“A handsome and handy little book, excavating nuggets of Godwinian wisdom from the whole range of his writings.”
—Colin Ward, Times Educational Supplement
“An anarchist classic . . . with a valuable sketch of Godwin’s life and an interpretation of his work. Much of what Godwin says is obvious common sense.”
—Henry Geiger, Manas Journal
Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus
Author: Elisée Reclus
Edited by John P. Clark and Camille Martin
Publisher: PM Press
Page count: 304 Pages
Subjects: Philosophy-Anarchism/Social Science-Geography
Anarchy, Geography, Modernity is the first comprehensive introduction to the thought of Elisée Reclus, the great anarchist geographer and political theorist. It shows him to be an extraordinary figure for his age. Not only an anarchist but also a radical feminist, anti-racist, ecologist, animal rights advocate, cultural radical, nudist, and vegetarian. Not only a major social thinker but also a dedicated revolutionary.
The work analyzes Reclus' greatest achievement, a sweeping historical and theoretical synthesis recounting the story of the earth and humanity as an epochal struggle between freedom and domination. It presents his groundbreaking critique of all forms of domination: not only capitalism, the state, and authoritarian religion, but also patriarchy, racism, technological domination, and the domination of nature. His crucial insights on the interrelation between personal and small-group transformation, broader cultural change, and large-scale social organization are explored. Reclus’ ideas are presented both through detailed exposition and analysis, and in extensive translations of key texts, most appearing in English for the first time.
"For far too long Elisée Reclus has stood in the shadow of Godwin, Proudhon, Bakunin, Kropotkin, and Emma Goldman. Now John Clark has pulled Reclus forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with Anarchism's cynosures. Reclus' light brought into anarchism's compass not only a focus on ecology, but a struggle against both patriarchy and racism, contributions which can now be fully appreciated thanks to John Clark's exegesis and [his and Camille Martin's] translations of works previously unavailable in English. No serious reader can afford to neglect this book."
—Dana Ward, Pitzer College
"Finally! A century after his death, the great French geographer and anarchist Elisée Reclus has been honored by a vibrant selection of his writings expertly translated into English."
—Kent Mathewson, Louisiana State University
"Maintaining an appropriately scholarly style, marked by deep background knowledge, nuanced argument, and careful qualifications, Clark and Martin nevertheless reveal a passionate love for their subject and adopt a stance of political engagement that they hope does justice to Reclus' own commitments."
"Clark and Martin have opened the door, through their deep introduction and selected reprints, to one of the great thinkers of 19th century anarchist thought."
"This inspiring analysis and anthology does an excellent job of placing Reclus in his anarchist and social context.”
For a calendar of speaking events, please click here
- Lessons from the School of Radical Change: Notes of a Slow Learner
In this expanded version of a presentation at a PM Press authors session at the Left Forum, I try to summarize some of the lessons I’ve learned about radical change over the past fifty years.
- Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: EarthFirst! Newswire
- Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: The Chartist
- Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Publishers Weekly
- Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Antipode
Anarchy, Geography, and Modernity: A Glimpse into the Depth of Anarchism
Earth First! Newswire
October 18th, 2014
"A new edition of Elisée Reclus’s works, Anarchy, Geography, Modernity, edited by the illustrious duo of John Clark and Camille Martin, provides a captivating introduction to the great anarchist’s life and works. This book will drive its readers into the most solitary spaces of reflection—whether the ocean’s rocky shoreline, the forest’s wild expanse, or the deepest reaches of the imagination. It provides a vital touchstone of time and place, a refraction that sheds light on our own ways of seeing the world.
Reclus has long been an understudied figure in the history of anarchism, so the first part of the book, taken up by Clark’s biography of Reclus, seems a welcome first step..."
Green Pioneer: Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus: A Review
by Duncan Bowie
"Elisee Reclus has been due for greater recognition. He was a leading French anarchist and one of the founders of human geography. Unlike his friend and fellow anarchist geographer, Petr Kropotkin, most of his works have never been trans- lated into English (though I do have an 1871 translation of his first major study- The Earth and a Bellamy library edition of his 1891 pamphlet Evolution and Revolution) and this new collection provides for the first time substantial extracts from his major political and geographical works. The editors, academics in New Orleans and Mississippi, also provide a 100 page introduction to Reclus’ thought, which complements Marie Fleming’s 1979 biography - The Anarchist Way to Socialism, which to my knowledge is the only previous substantive work on Reclus in English..."
Liberty, Equality, Georgrapghy: An Interview with John P. Clark on the Revolutionary Eco-Anarchism of Elisée Reclus
by Alyce Santoro
March 4th, 2014
JPC: The spirit of the strike, which means essentially the spirit of active and creative resistance, has enormous significance in the everyday life of any person who is committed to liberatory social transformation. In our present epoch of looming ecocidal and genocidal catastrophe, each person must make a basic decision. It is a “living, forced, momentous option,” to use William James's famous terms. Each must answer the question, “Am I a resister or am I collaborator?” This is as true for us today as it was for anyone living in Vichy France in the early 40s. We must decide either for solidarity with humanity and nature or for betrayal of both in the struggle against domination. For this reason we might say that authentic anarchists are not merely an-archists but anti-archists. To be an “an-archist,” one who is “not an archist,” might imply something like “domination just isn’t my thing,” or “I’m not comfortable with domination.” But the true spirit of anarchism, that is, anti-archism, implies that “domination is an intolerable thing,” that “when I see domination in any form I become indignant.”
I agree with Reclus’ contention that “small, loving and intelligent associations” are th ekey to breaking out of the cycle of social determination and regenerating free community on the larger social level.
Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus: A Review
This collection, edited by theorist and activist Clark (The Impossible Community) and poet Martin (Looms and Sonnets), focuses on Reclus (1830–1905), the largely-forgotten French writer, geographer, and anarchist, author of the 19-volume tome, The Earth and Its Inhabitants. The first section summarizes Reclus's life and thought, while the second contains excerpts from his writings, many of which appear here for the first time in English. Having spent time in a Louisiana plantation, Reclus witnessed the brutality of slavery first-hand, which resolved his feelings towards racism and "strengthened his belief in the inhumanity of capitalism." After returning to Europe, he dedicated himself to political writing and activism, becoming well-known in anarchist circles. Despite his new fame, he rejected the idea of taking a position of superiority, and advocated for "complete justice and equality" for women. Railing against "all forms of the state," he held that anyone who gains power in the state, even if it is with the intention of improving conditions, inevitably becomes corrupted by its mechanisms. This illuminating, extensive collection provides a worthwhile introduction to a progressive thinker who was ahead of his time.
Anarchy, Geography, Modernity: Selected Writings of Elisée Reclus: A Review
By Federico Ferretti
Antipode: A Radical Journal of Georgraphy
On the one side, it is clear that there is a high risk of anachronism in associating, like Clark and Martin do, an author who lived between 1830 and 1905 to very present concepts and problems like ‘ecofeminism’ (p.vii), ‘resilience’ (p.viii) or ‘climate change’ (p.viii): problems, categories and concepts simply did not existed, or conceived in a radically different way, in Reclus’ time. Nevertheless, considering the wide circulation of Reclus’ ideas, during his lifetime as well as more recently, beyond both the disciplinary borders of geography and the political borders of anarchism, I agree with the picture Clark paints of him as “a significant figure in modern European social and political theory in general” (p.73), whose ideas are still useful (and, indeed, used) in several urgent debates on present problems. Clark and Martin’s collection deserves praise, to my mind, for making available in the Anglophone world important texts by Elisée Reclus.
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