I recently read a review of a newly published collection of de Clayre’s work, in which the reviewer made the claim that she wasn’t an original thinker; that what she did was take the ideas of others and redraft them in a more easily digestible form. That is to say, she was a parrot, albeit a very prettily worded one. To me, nothing could seem further from the truth, and to suggest so really only illustrates the reviewer’s lack of understanding of her depth of it.
She is one of the few people I have read who enumerates genuine compassion and common sense* as essential virtues necessary for the development and furtherance of an anarchist society. Without the former, it would be a hateful thing; without the latter,it simply cannot be.
Others have their pet theories as to the best economic system and abstract ideas as to how things must be, replete with jargon resplendent in its complexity and disdain for those of the out-group (that they write endlessly about), often seeming far more interested in proving themselves correct than they are in being right. Others, indeed, have compassion as their Cause, engaging in recreational rebellion and conspicuous pappier-mache concern. Yet others engage in the common-sense** exaltation of the postmodernist freedoms-from of the individual, railing against The Man–yet ironically, in doing so, joining in a movement fostered by neoliberalism and ultimately more beneficial to its cause than that of the disenfranchised classes.
Few however, really dare see the shape of things with the humility without which it can never be much more than a petty projection of preconceptions and dreams.
* As the term is normally understood, not Gramsci’s definition.
** This time I do mean Gramsci’s one.