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The Anarchist Encyclopedia:
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Johann Most, anarchist

Bavarian-born anarchist active in 19th-century America

Initially a social democrat (in 1870), Most was sentenced to five years prison in Austria for one of his famously fiery speeches.

Amnestied on 9 February 1871, then expelled, Most re-entered Germany & continued as an agitator & journalist. Elected to the Reichstag in 1874, nevertheless he was sent to jail many times for his speeches.

In 1878, Most exiled himself to England, publishing the newspaper "Freiheit" (Freedom). An article glorifying an attack against Tsar Alexander II landed him in jail for 16 months hard labor. Upon release Most went to the United States in 1882.

Under the influence of Peter Kropotkin's ideas, Johann Most now became an anarchist, along with his advocacy of propaganda by the deed (Most published a small how-to guide for making bombs, after having worked in a dynamite factory).

After 1886, he shifted from his advocay of violence towards anarcho-syndicalism & the journal "Freiheit" remained the focus for the rest of his life. He remained a famed orator for his "incendiary speeches".

Daily Bleed Saint February 5:

Herr Johann Most, anarchisten


Most's most famous speech is "The Beast of Property":

  • -- The German anarchist Johann Neve, was Johann Most's best comrade in the 1880s (Most was in an English prison (1881); Neve himself died ten years later in a German penitentiary).

  • September 29, 1883 -- English language publication of anarchist Johann Most's song The Hymn of the Proletariat.

  • November 17, 1887 -- Johann Most, "anarchist," is arrested for "incendiary language," & sentenced to one year in prison in the land of free speech.

  • March 17, 1906 -- Johann Most (1846-1906) dies, Cincinnati, Ohio. German-American anarchist, propagandist, bookbinder, publisher of "Freiheit."

    "Anarchism was a movement of poor immigrants," observes a French anarchist who lived at the Mohegan Colony in Westchester. "As soon as the children made money, they lost anarchism" (p. 260).

    John J. Most, Jr., a Boston dentist & son of the famous German-American anarchist Johann Most, points out that his son, the legendary Boston Celtics broadcaster Johnny Most, "has no interest in anarchism whatever" (p. 19).

    In his introductions, Avrich himself notes the passing of anarchism from "movement" to "sect" to distant memory.

    — excerpt from a review of Paul Avrich's book, Anarchist Voices

  • Emma Goldman, anarchist
    8/15/1889 -- Emma Goldman arrives in New York City...

    Emma meets Johann Most, editor of Die Freiheit, & Alexander Berkman; gains employment doing piece work for a silk waist factory. Emma's's political activities include support work at the office of Die Freiheit, & help with the organization of the second anniversary commemoration of the hanging of the Haymarket martyrs.

    "I insisted that our cause could not expect me to behave as a nun & that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. I want freedom, the right to self expression, everybody's right to beautiful, radiant things."

    //3002 --

    Johann Most -- German Social-Democrat. In 1880, at the Baden Congress, he was expelled from the Party on account of his disorganising behaviour. In the eighties he became an adherent of anarchism (see Marx & Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 375-76).

    newspaper clipping on using dynamite
    //3003 --

    Johann Most was the model for the protagonist Yundt in Joseph Conrad's unsympathetic novel, The Secret Agent. Conrad portrayed Most as a degenerate & a cheat (because Most, often imprisoned, never actually used dynamite — he just talked about it).

    newspaper clipping on using dynamite

    Most, front
    //3004 --

    Johann Most Links

    (Page created in 1999; updated Feb 2002, Sept 2002, January 2008)

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