Author

Rudolf Rocker cover

photo credits: Wikimedia Commons

Rudolf Rocker

anarcho-syndicalist writer and activist

1873   -   1958

movement: anarcho-syndicalism, social anarchism
country of citizenship: Germany
native language: German
language of expression: Yiddish, German
occupation: historian, writer, economist, journalist, trade unionist

Johann Rudolf Rocker (March 25, 1873 – September 19, 1958) was a German anarchist writer and activist. Though often described as an anarcho-syndicalist, he was a self-professed anarchist without adjectives, believing that anarchist schools of thought represented "only different methods of economy" and that the first objective for anarchists was "to secure the personal and social freedom of men".Rocker's father died in 1877. In October 1884, the Rocker household was joined by his mother's new husband Ludwig Baumgartner. This marriage presented Rudolf with a half brother, Ernest Ludwig Heinrich Baumgartner, with whom Rocker did not maintain close contact. Rocker was shocked once again as his mother died in February 1887. After his stepfather remarried soon thereafter, Rocker was put into an orphanage. Rudolf Rocker initially raised to be a priest however was repulsed by the unconditional obedience demanded by the Catholic orphanage and drawn by the prospect of adventure, Rocker ran away from the orphanage twice. The first time he just wandered around in the woods around Mainz with occasional visits to the city to forage for food and was retrieved after three nights. Under the influence of his uncle, he joined the SPD and became active in the typographers' labor union in Mainz. He volunteered in the 1890 electoral campaign, which had to be organized in semi-clandestinity because of continuing government repression, helping the SPD candidate. Rocker became convinced that the source of political institutions is an irrational belief in a higher authority, as Bakunin claimed in God and the State. However, Rocker rejected the Russian's rejection of theoretical propaganda and his claim that only revolutions can bring about change. Nevertheless, he was very much attracted by Bakunin's style, marked by pathos, emotion, and enthusiasm, designed to give the reader an impression of the heat of revolutionary moments. He was both a radical leftist and anti-Marxist. Returning to Germany in May 1926, he became increasingly worried about the rise of nationalism and fascism, he would later be exiled from Nazi Germany. In the following years, Rocker became one of the most regular writers in the FAUD organ Der Syndikalist. In 1920, the FAUD hosted an international syndicalist conference, which ultimately led to the founding of the International Workers Association (IWA) in December 1922. Rocker published another well-known work. In Pioneers of American Freedom, a series of essays, he details the history of liberal and anarchist thought in the United States, seeking to debunk the idea that radical thought was foreign to American history and culture and had merely been imported by immigrants. On September 10, 1958, Rocker died in the Mohegan Colony.
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Series

1

Works

9

Nationalism and Culture

book by Rudolf Rocker

author: Rudolf Rocker

1937

Anarcho-Syndicalism

book by Rudolf Rocker

author: Rudolf Rocker

1947

Pioneers of American Freedom

book by Rudolf Rocker

author: Rudolf Rocker

1949

14. Anarchismus und Organisation

author: Rudolf Rocker

1981

Max Nettlau

author: Rudolf Rocker

The London Years

author: Rudolf Rocker

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