David Andrade, (1859-1928)

Biography

In May 1886 David Andrade, his brother Will and half a dozen others formed the Melbourne Anarchist Club – as far as I am aware the first anarchist organization in Australia. Andrade became the MAC secretary and one of its main propagandists. The club produced the journal Honesty which gave club news as well as publishing theoretical articles and Andrade was a regular contributor.

Along with his brother, David Andrade followed the booksellers trade. In a news agency at Brunswick and later in Liberty Hall, Russell St. Melbourne the brothers operated the first anarchist book shops in Australia. Here they loaned and sold anarchist publications with their publicity noting that “Socialistic Literature of all kinds (both Communist, Collectivist and Anarchist) are well represented, both in books and pamphlets, and newspapers supplied from all parts of the world”.

Andrade was an energetic and flamboyant personality who deeply immersed himself in the anarchist activities of the day and was a writer, publisher, printer, distributor, organizer, general propagandist and activist for the anarchist cause. Aside from his contributions to Honesty Andrade’s writings were published in a “wide variety of local and overseas journals”. His main works include “Money: a study of the currency question” (1887), “Our Social System” (n.d.) which was an attack on monopoly in both land ownership and usury, and “An Anarchist Plan of Campaign “ (1888). In 1892 he published the “realistic” novel The Melbourne Riots and how Harry Holdfast and his friends emancipated the workers.

Both The Melbourne Riots and David Andrade have been recently described as “utopian”. Andrade was a major participant in the split in MAC in 1888 and was in conflict with J.A. Andrews and other anarcho-communists. The cause of the split in the MAC was over the “forcible reclamation and defense of liberty” – in other words violence. Andrade has been variously described as a “Proudhonist” and a “mutualist” and was at this time and afterwards vehemently opposed to any form of violence. He appears to have been isolated by the split and the publication of Honesty ceased with Andrade taking control of the plant. MAC member and anarcho-communist Larry Petrie later described the club as basically “Tolstoyan”.

After the split Andrade continued his work writing, publishing and bookselling. In the early 1890s he was the secretary of the Unemployed Workers Association in Richmond and in 1893 as an outspoken member of a deputation of the unemployed bitterly attacked the system of representative government:

“We are ruled by a lot of robbers, and when I see a man go into Parliament I feel sorry for him, for he only makes another of the nest of vermin… Our legislators are more degraded than a person who abuses a woman or a child and I have no confidence in them.”

Later that year he had taken up a small selection of 10 acres in the Dandenong Ranges where he began clearing the land, building a house and working as a storekeeper and a mailman. His second son Proudhon Andrade was born here in a rough shelter the same year. Andrade persisted in this lifestyle for five years but was burnt out in the disastrous 1898 fires. He appears to have been financially ruined and mentally broken by this event.

In 1903 he was admitted to the Yarra Bend Asylum and he lived for the rest of his life in asylums. He died in 1928 and in later years was described as a kind man with a smile on his face. In an article by B. Scates entitled “The Utopians – And Early Socialists Who Lost Their Way” (Journal, RHSV 54:4: 1983 ppl926) the career of Andrade is partly examined. Scates described him as “An energetic and versatile reformer, he launched several ambitious projects throughout the 1890s, among them a village settlement, a cooperative scheme, a radical bookshop and a vegetarian restaurant”. And of his anarchism,

“For David Andrade socialism was a matter of justice. It acknowledged the rights of the poor to dignity and self determination, promulgating co-operation as the cure for the wrongs of capitalism. It condemned also the oppression and exploitation of women by the family and social system as a whole. He sought to end not only the tyranny of man over woman, rich over poor, but also the tyranny of man over nature. He declared that animals had rights – a courageous enough statement even for today”.

Scates classified Andrade as a ‘Utopian’ and concluded,

“But those who never escaped Utopia suffered a still greater tragedy. David Andrade’s ambitious ventures threw him into bankruptcy. In 1894 he joined a village settlement in Kallista only to face greater hardships. Finally, after the death of his sons, that magnificent spirit was broken. David Andrade died in 1928 in the Ballarat mental asylum.”

While both Scates’ article, and his treatment of Andrade, is admirable his inclusion in an essay on ‘Utopianism’ seems unfair. Something ‘utopian’ is an ideal state or system that is both unattainable and impractical whereas almost all Andrade’s schemes were practical. These schemes he devoted more than 12 years of his life to with varying degrees of success and failure. Above all he was caught up with the various means by which the idea could be turned into practice. Andrade’s life was unfortunately complicated by tragic circumstance. This, more than anything else, most probably led to his mental collapse.

Despite all these seeming failures of so called ‘utopian’ projects and his apparent ‘insanity’ Andrade is one of only a small number of anarchists who are included in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. He was a pioneer in his chosen philosophy in many ways – as an anarchist propagandist, organiser, publisher and above all by practicing what he preached – and as one who, figuratively speaking, once flew the black flag over Brunswick.

— P.D. Gardner

Bibliography

Essay on Truth
Our Social System and how it affects those who work for their Living
Money: A study of the Currency Question
An Anarchist Plan of Campaign

Reading

David Andrade: Anarchy (excerpt)

Anarchy! There is no word which conjures up such feelings of terror to so many who hear it; nor is there one which so raises the hopes of those who ever see so little to hope for. It makes their eyes glisten, their blood course a little faster than usual, and they once more clutch at that almost forlorn hope of a “good time coming.”

Never in modern times has an idea, of such revolutionary nature and such weighty import, so seized upon the mind of man, as that which the great French philosopher first promulgated less than a half century ago. Never have humanity’s oppressors been so bewildered as to the course to adopt to shut out this light which has so suddenly burst on the mental vision of the world’s proletariat. Armies cannot rout its adherents; spies cannot distort its open secrets; exile cannot banish the hopes it brings; courts and tribunals, laws and special commissions, cannot combine to check its enormously extending popularity; and even the hanging of its adherents cannot silence their sympathizers, but only adds to their numbers and stimulates their courage.

And what is Anarchy?

Professional liars of every station, and fools of every bias, have been telling the people that Anarchy is destruction, rapine, and murder, and that the Anarchist is the most dangerous foe to all that is good in civilization. But even these perjurers are losing their influence as instructors of the people, and the multitude are beginning to enquire of the ideas of the Anarchists from the Anarchists themselves.

Anarchy is nothing more nor less than human liberty. It is that principle in humanity for which man has been striving, but has seldom perceived. We Anarchists contend that life without liberty is slavery, and that slavery is wrong and must be banished from the earth. Why should man seek to govern his fellow? Why seek to restrict his liberty and make him hate his brief existence? Why add to the inequalities of nature, the harsher inequalities which spring from man made law? We say, and say again, that “the government of man by man is oppression.” We appeal to history, to science, to reason, to every-day experience, for testimony in support of our position; and everywhere we are successful. Do our opponents do likewise? Do they appeal to fact, to reason, to argument, to show that we are wrong? No! they denounce us unheard, and cry as of yore, “Crucify him!” They appeal to the bullying State -that low disgraceful institution, which never reasons with its victims, but silences and then destroys them-and ask that we be suppressed.

Ye who ask for our suppression, learn what it is ye vainly hope to suppress.

To be an Anarchist is to believe that no man has a right to govern another, that is, to arbitrarily restrict his liberty; that the robbery of another is wrong, no matter what the pretext or the method may be; that discord, warfare, and strife of every kind are not essential to human intercourse; that the world is wide and fruitful enough for us to live together harmoniously, and that we should do so did we but cease to aggress upon each other, and we accordingly affirm that every individual must be sovereign over his own personality; that he shall have equal opportunity with every other man to work out his own salvation without begging for existence at the feet of privilege; that he shall enjoy that which his labor brings him; and that recognizing there is room in the world for all, he shall be free to voluntarily perform those actions which are most conducive to his comfort, and to live on terms of equity, peace, and fraternity with his fellow-men. In short the Anarchist does not wail for ever, “Is life worth living?” but sets about o make it worth living.

No man can suppress Anarchism. They may kill off its adherents one after another but only to find their places filled with others, who have reached the same mental elevation. All the studies of the greatest thinkers are strongly marked with the Anarchistic tendency. No one can study the writings of the most advanced sociological writers without coming to the general conclusion that the only social solution is the freedom of every individual.

David Andrade: What is Anarchy? (excerpt)

“. . Anarchy is Individualism consistently carried out and put into practice. It is the doctrine of autonomy, laissez-faire, independence and liberty. It is the doctrine which accepts all the social principles of that most advanced school of thinkers of which Herbert Spencer is at the head, and does not fear to carry them to their logical conclusions, even though the greatest expounders of those principles may fail to do so themselves. Anarchy, in short, is to politics what atheism is to theology. Atheism says: we shall have no divine rulers; Anarchy says: we shall have no temporal ones either. Atheism says: be not a slave to a god; Anarchy says: be not a slave to god or ruler either. Atheism says: cast off all allegiance to all laws divine; Anarchy says: cast off all allegiance to all laws both divine and human. Atheism says: defy the priest, who robs you under the authority of a god; Anarchy says: defy the ruler who robs you under the authority of a State, as well. Atheism says: be free in your thoughts; Anarchy says be free in your thoughts and actions too. Atheism says: face the gods like a man; Anarchy says: face all existence like a man; Atheism says: from the gods be free; Anarchy simply says: BE FREE!

As Atheism means “without God,” so Anarchy means “without Government”. It rejects all authority, whether emanating from gods, goddesses, kings, queens, popes, priests, presidents or parliaments. It refuses to be crushed out by the rule of majorities or minorities, by monarchies or republics, by aristocracies or democracies, and by law-makers and law-executors of all kinds whatsoever. The only authority it recognizes (if it can be called authority) is the authority of the individual conscience. The only law it recognizes is the law of equal freedom. The only right it recognizes is the right to live – the right of self-preservation – the right to live as best the intelligence dictates, exercising every function of one’s nature to one’s best ability, and taking upon one’s self the necessary responsibility of every action so performed. Its watchword is: “The equal liberty of each, limited by the equal liberty of all”. And all the tyrannies which have so cursed this world in the course of its painful development it wages war with to the death . . . ”

Compiled by Romano Krauth

This page from anarchy-movement.org which went offline in 2006

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