Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/15

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PREFACE.


"Instead of a book!" I hear the reader exclaim, as he picks up this volume and glances at its title; "why, it is a book." To all appearance, yes; essentially, no. It is, to be sure, an assemblage within a cover of printed sheets consecutively numbered; but this alone does not constitute a book. A book, properly speaking, is first of all a thing of unity and symmetry, of order and finish; it is a literary structure, each part of which is subordinated to the whole and created for it. To satisfy such a standard this volume does not pretend; it is not a structure, but an afterthougnt, a more or less coherent arrangement, each part of which was created almost without reference to any other. Yet not quite so, after all; otherwise even the smallest degree of coherence were scarcely possible.

The facts are these. In August, 1881, I started in Boston, in a very quiet way, a little fortnightly journal called Liberty. Its purpose was to contribute to the solution of social problems by carrying to a logical conclusion the battle, against authority,—to aid in what Proudhon had called "the dissolution of government in the economic organism." Beyond the opportunity of thus contributing my mite I looked for little from my experiment. But, almost before I knew it, the tiny paper had begun to exert an influence of which I had not dreamed. It went the wide world over. In nearly every important city, and in many a country town, it found some mind ripe for its reception. Each of these minds became a centre of influence, and in considerably less than a year a specific movement had sprung into existence, under Proudhon's happily chosen name, Anarchism, of which Liberty was generally recognized as the organ. Since that time, through varying fortunes, the paper has gone on, with slow but steady growth, doing its quiet work. Books inspired by it, and other journals which it called into being, have made their appearance, not only in various parts of the United States, but in England, France, Germany, and at the antipodes. Anarchism is now one of the forces of the world. But its literature, voluminous as it already is, lacks a systematic text-book. I

have often been urged to attempt the task of writing one. Thus far,