Home » A People’s Queering of 20th Century Counter Culture » Biographies (in alphabetical order)

Biographies (in alphabetical order)

Mikhail Bakunin

A Russian revolutionary generally regarded as the first philosopher of Collectivist Anarchism due to disputes which ended up defining the core differences between Anarchism and Marxism. Marxism calls for a dictatorship of the proletariat before evolving to a stateless society; however Bakunin and Anarchism advocated a more abolitionist perspective where the system, all states, power and capital are to be abolished and the universal rebellion advocated for. Bakunin also opposed Marx’s ideas as centralist and “predicted that if a Marxist party came to power, its leaders would simply take the place of the ruling class they had fought against.” Both Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman wrote about Bakunin’s predictions coming true in Russia with Soviet use of terror and the absurd amount of power Bolsheviks were able to exercise over people.

Alexander Berkman

(November 21 1870 – June 28 1936) A Jewish  writer and political activist born in the Russian Empire and moved to New York City in 1888. He was the lover and longtime friend of Emma Goldman, editor of Mother Earth from 1905-1917 and put out his own journal known as The Blast. For the attempted assassination of Henry Clay Frick as an act of the “Propaganda of the Deeds” and spent fourteen years in prison as a result. Shortly after he wrote his debut book Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist in 1912. After being found guilty of violating the Espionage act, both Berkman and Goldman were deported. Back in Russia, Berkman was initially supportive of the Bolsheviks in the times of the Russian Revolution, Berkman soon opposed Soviet use of terror after seizing power and their oppression of fellow anarchists. For both Berkman and Goldman, Mikhail Bakunin’s predictions about Marxists becoming the new elite group of the Socialist state proved itself to be very true. He wrote about his disappointing experiences in Russia in his second book, The Bolshevik Myth in 1925. He wrote his third, final and most known book in 1929 while living in France known as Now and After: The ABC of Communist Anarchism, later titled as The ABC of Anarchism.

Anthony Comstock
Another wretched politician who took it upon himself to police American morality. He is responsible for much of the homophobia, heteronormativity, and discrimination of displayed affection that has plagued people ever since his rise in the late 19th century, up until the present. In 1874, he enacted the Comstock Law, and was able to push through Congress via powerful protecters and political power that he gained from creating the “New York Society for the Suppression of Vice”(Loomis 2012). The term “comstockery” refers to Comstock’s advocation of withholding any type of sex-related information or objects.

Allen Ginsberg

 (June 3, 1926 – April 5, 1997) Born in Newark, New Jersey, Ginsberg was a poet and visionary who’s work and presence comprised one of the most powerful forces motivating the Beat Movement, as well as the counter-cultural bohemian revolution that ensued in the 1960’s. He released “Howl” in 1957, which depicted sexual acts of all kinds during a time when sodomy laws prohibited homosexuality in every states. It became the subject of an obscenity trial, but was ruled not to be considered obscene.

Allen Ginsberg (right) with Peter Orlovsky, New York City, December 30, 1963: Allen was discouraged by his publisher from using this picture in his book "Nothing Personal," as it was thought to be too controversial.

Allen Ginsberg (right) with Peter Orlovsky, New York City, December 30, 1963: Allen was discouraged by his publisher from using this picture in his book “Nothing Personal,” as it was thought to be too controversial.

 

Edna St. Vincent Millay

In 1923, Edna St. Vincent Millays massive body of three decades worth of work (including poetry, plays, politcal writings, and a libretto for an opera) awarded her the Pulitzer Prize. Millay was a crucial figure in the Lost Generation, emerging in the cultural life of Greenwich Village in NYC, which served as a mecca for the American literary, artistic, and political movement of the time. Her famous line, “My candle burns at both ends…” in context represents her role as a progressive, nonconforming  woman of the Jazz age.

Edward Carpenter

Edward Carpenter 1905
Edward Carpenter 1905

Edward Carpenter is known for the homosexual themes in his work.  In 1898, he and his lover George Merrill began living together. Inspired by John Addington Symonds early work on homosexuality in the 1880’s, Carpenter privately publishes a pamphlet entitled Homogenic Love, which was negatively affected by Oscar Wilde’s trial and thus not included in his 1896 collected writings on sex and marriage called “Love’s Coming-of-Age.” In 1908 he publishes The Intermediate Sex which is one of the first literary occurrences of homosexuality being portrayed in a positive light. His 1911 Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk discusses the special spiritual roles reserved in indigenous cultures for those who exhibit what he identifies as homosexual behaviors:

“Anyhow it is certain that among primitive folk the prophet, the priest, the wizard, and the witch-doctor largely unite their functions, and are not easily distinguishable from one another; and therefore, from what has already been said, we may naturally expect to find an association between homosexuality and sorcery…It is easy to see that certain individuals, whose interests or abilities were turned in special or unusual directions, would seem to the general herd as having supernatural intuitions or powers…I believe that the blending of the masculine and feminine temperaments would in some of these cases produce persons whose perceptions would be so subtle and complex and rapid as to come under the head of genius, persons of intuitive mind who would perceive things without knowing how, and follow far concentrations of causes and events without concerning themselves about the why – diviners and prophets in the real sense.” (Click for a Full Version of Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk)

Carpenter has large body of work dating from 1870 to 1925.

The Edward Carpenter Community of Gay men formed in the 1980’s, and still exists today, committed to “principles of caring, trusting, personal growth, sharing, and creativity,” and aiming to “nurture ‘community’ as an alternative to the commercial gay scene.” On their website, it states, “We chose our name in honour of Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) a socialist, critic, writer, poet, thinker, vegetarian, and mystic. He was a pioneering supporter of many progressive causes we take for granted today, including women’s rights and sexual reform. His radically different lifestyle became a symbol of liberation from the oppressive middle class values of late Victorian England and his writings were an important contribution to the development of the English socialist movement and much later, to the gay liberation movement.”

Michel Foucault

William Godwin

Godwin lived during and influenced very much The Age of Enlightenment (late 1700s) and was generally regarded as founder of philosophical Anarchism. Sensing as well as predicting the horrors, brutal beatings and killings of our people to come, in attempt to normalize and neutralize them, Godwin advocated for change via a “peaceful evolution” rather than resorting to “the use of revolutionary tactics for removing the government from power.” This belief specifically is what is powerful to modern anarchism, as most modern anarchists truly believe that a revolution will never take place if it is not already taking place now, every day, and that we can all live by our ideals the way we want to right now, without having to wait for any revolution or mass change. Living how one wants will ultimately bring on the mass change, as if most were just living how they pleased the system and capitalism would crumble under its own weight without anyone supporting and working to uphold it any longer. He regarded law, property rights and the marriage institution to be “a manifestation of the people’s mental enslavement” and was very adomant that “government and its institutions are shown to constrain the development of our capacity to live wholly in accordance with the full and free exercise of private judgment.” Seems to have influenced Foucaultian thought as he heavily emphasizes the inherent constraint society places on “the natural development of individuals.”

Emma Goldman

200px-Mother_Earth_1912
Goldman (1869 – 1940) was the first and only American woman of her time to advocate for the defense of gay love and queer people in the public eye. “Free love? As if love is anything but free! Love is free. It can dwell in no other atmosphere”(Goldman 1911). She was a Russian-born, American writer, anarchist and feminist who lived in New York during the time she spent in the US. Shortly after the Haymarket Riot, Goldman began writing and lecturing on anarchist philosophy, women’s rights, and social issues, attracting large crowds often drawing over thousands. Goldman was Alexander Berkman’s closest associate who was her lover as well as her lifelong friend. She created, contributed to and edited a feminist and anarchist journal called Mother Earth which described itself as “A Monthly Magazine Devoted to Social Science and Literature.” After a 1917 journal of Mother Earth publicly released writings of opposition to World War I, encouraging others who felt the same to oppose the war via refusing drafting, ect. Months later in June 1917 Congress passed the Espionage act which sentenced “prison terms of up to 20 years for anyone who obstructed the military draft or encouraged ‘disloyalty’ to the U.S. gov.” Both her and Berkman, who was the editor of Mother Earth from 1905-1917, were found guilty of violating the Espionage act and were deported after authorities raided Goldman’s office and acquired a literal ‘roledex’ of American Anarchists. Many of Goldman’s original followers were targeted by authorities, however she has continued to influence anarchist and feminists immensely to this day. Goldman published a number of books such as Anarchism and Other Essays in 1910, The Social Significance of the Modern Drama in 1914, My Disillusionment in Russia in 1923, My Further Disillusionment in Russia in 1924, and Living My Life in 1931.

 

Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton was a front-running member of the Black Panther Party (BPP) along with Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, and was the head of the Chicago chapter of the Panthers. Hampton was perhaps the most vocal of the panthers, constantly drawing crowds and making powerful speeches around Chicago. Fred was always said to have a knack for getting people together, helping them to feel empowered and helping to establish tight-knit communities amongst the African American  population of Chicago. Fred firmly advocated for himself and fellow panther members to omit the usage of drugs for survival reasons. The 60’s were crucial for revolutionary people as disciplinary mechanisms were constantly out to get you and one had to constantly be on their toes is they wanted to thrive. Chicago police and FBI had been watching Hampton since he was 16, as well as surveiling the BPP as a whole, in general for years. Hampton was shot on December 4, 1969 at 4am in his bed in his apartment, laying next to his pregnant and long-time girlfriend, Deborah Johnson. Fred was only 21 years of age and was absolutely considered a rising star amongst the people, and the glue that held together the BPP, which is exactly what COINTELPRO targeted. Countless court cases and decades of lies passed surrounding Hampton’s death before evidence of his death being COINTELPRO orders surfaced. The FBI held records and information from Hampton’s family and lawyers as well as the public. For a long time, Fred’s death was attempted to be played off as his fault for talking about treating police violently, making police feel threatened him. It was a long, brutal fight before the truth came out but with the help of the People’s Law Office (PLO) who tirelessly worked as The Hampton family’s lawyer, it finally did. Fred was drugged by an FBI informant who was surveilling the Chicago chapter of the BPP and Fred for about two years. At Fred and Deborah’s apartment the night of December 3rd, the informant William O’Neale drugged Hampton with a strong barbituate called Seconal. When the police raided the apartment the following morning at 4am, they forced their way in, shot all panther members and security for Fred and Deborah in sight. After making their way through the living room and turning to go back into Fred and Deborah’s bedroom, the police began shooting through the bedroom door, as well as shots pouring into the bedroom coming from outside, in all directions. A panther member who was sleeping in Fred’s bedroom yelled “We have a pregnant sister in here!” and the shooting seized momentarily. Two police knocked the bedroom door down and grabbed Deborah who was attempting to cover Fred with her own pregnant body, trying to guard him from the hundreds of shots coming from all windows. There were so many shots being fired and bullets piercing the bed, Deborah recalled the mattress feeling as though it was vibrating. Fred was completely unconscious, and no matter what Deborah did he would not wake up. So her last resort was to try to guard him from the shots. The two police grabbed Deborah off of Fred and put her and the other panther member in the bedroom into the living room, and started back for the bedroom. Saergent Daniel Groth shot Hampton twice in the head, dragged his body onto the broken down door of his bedroom laying on the floor and carried his corpse out like that for all the panthers to see. The police could not have been prouder of themselves, as the picture below will reveal. This is a real, literal example of a modern day “lynching,” ordered by the president and executed by FBI and police. COINTELPRO’s purpose was to eradicate “rising messiah’s in the black power movement” and “neutralize” (to make ineffective or disband) groups such as the BPP and were under the President’s orders. (Haas 2010).

Chicago Police removing Hampton's body from his apartment.

Chicago Police removing Hampton’s body from his apartment.

Karl Marx

Marx (May 5, 1818-March 14, 1883) is a socialist philosopher born in Germany, who is often inaccurately encompassed within anarchist perspectives. Marxism and Anarchism are two completely separate ideologies, even though they may share certain common traits, their core policies contradict one another.(bakunin and marx clash)  Anarchists believe that power seeks to sustain itself, and anyone who possesses power will be corrupted by it eventually.  Marxism does call for an abolition of state power, however in order for this to happen, Marx claims a “dictatorship of the proletariat” needs to be established first, so the people can understand and get used to ordering themselves. In fact Mikhail Bakunin and Marx, former close associates, clashed when Bakunin predicted a dictatorship of the proletariat would lead to a new ruling class of the marxist socialists and would not get to a place of stateless society. Anarchists such as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman lived to see Bakunin’s predictions prove true when Bolsheviks around the Russian Revolution exercised a great amount of power over the people and the Soviet Union used terror tactics to maintain “the new elites” control. This is a large difference between the two philosophies, making them not to be encompassed in one another as Anarchist strongly believe, rightly so, that power seeks to sustain itself, and anyone who possesses power will be corrupted by it eventually. This is not to say that Marxism is a great foundation of philosophy to work off of and push further. Marxism is essential to be taught in our history and education systems and is often left out and discredited. Some core principles of Marxism are as follows: capitalism is the destructor of the people, nature, communities, dehumanizing people and making them conspirators in their own exploitation. He claims to be for abolition of the state however he claims we need a dictatorship of the proletariat first, in order to do so, which many who have actually studied marxism believe that this would not end in abolition but a type reorganized ruling class. He claims the goal of abolition to implement communism which is an economic philosophy where labor is distributed amongst the community based on peoples abilities, interest and talents and the resources are pooled together and free amongst the community. This type of living would ensure no one was in poverty, if everyone contributed to the community doing something they were good at and liked doing, the resources would be plentiful therefore, having every reason to share amongst each other. Each person in the community rely’s on each other as much as they next person, joining together the efforts and rewards. Communities would form freely and provide for each other, with each other. Prior “communistic” attempts have resulted in capitalistic monopolies or dictatorships, because of new ruling classes arising (as Bakunin predicted) which is actually not the philosophy of communism at all.

Erich Muhsam

A German, Jewish Anarchist active during the time of World War II. He was arrested on unknown charges then transferred to Nazi concentration camps where he was brutally beaten for over 15 months and then beaten to death by guards. His death was ruled a suicide while in protective custody at Oranienburg, but his spouse knew better and had this to say:

“His widow declared this evening that, when she was first allowed to visit her husband after his arrest, his face was so swollen by beating that she could not recognise him. He was assigned to the task of cleaning toilets and staircases and Storm Troopers amused themselves by spitting in his face, she added. On 8 July, last, she saw him for the last time alive. Despite the tortures he had undergone for fifteen months, she declared, he was cheerful, and she knew at once when his “suicide” was reported to her three days later that it was untrue. When she told the police that they had “murdered” him, she asserted they shrugged their shoulders and laughed. A post mortem examination was refused, according to Frau Mühsam, but Storm Troopers, incensed with their new commanders, showed her the body which bore unmistakable signs of strangulation, with the back of the skull shattered as if Herr Mühsam had been dragged across the parade ground.”

George Sterling

George Sterling 1907Sterling is often referred to as the King of Bohemia, and played a critical role in the Californian literary scene of the early 20th Century. He is known for having a presence at almost every literary circle in the Bay area between 1895 and 1925. Sterling’s Villa was the most popular meeting site of the Piedmont crowd. By 1907 a literary colony had formed. Journalist and poet of the time, Nora May French, stated in 1905, “I have an idea that all sensible people will be ultimately damned.” The year after, she took her own life, a trend that grew among the bohemian generation. Sterling took his life by ingesting cyanide in 1926, following in the footsteps of Jack London (1916), Carolyn Sterling (1918), David Lezinsky (1921), Richard Reaf (1922) and HErman Sheffaur (1926).  (Click to read some of Sterling’s writings)

 

Jim Rickards

Jim Rickards is Senior Managing Director for Market Intelligence at Omnis, Inc. and has been a direct participant in many of the most significant financial events over the past 30 years including the 1981 release of hostages from Iran and was also the principal negotiator for the government sponsored bailout of LTCM. His clients include private investment funds, investment banks and government directorates in national security and defense. He is an advisor to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and Support Group of the Director of National Intelligence and recently testified before Congress on the causes of the financial crisis.


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