Fredy Perlman

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Fredy Perlman
BornAugust 20, 1934
DiedJuly 26, 1985(1985-07-26) (aged 50)
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Occupationauthor, publisher and activist

Fredy Perlman (1934–1985) was an American author, publisher, and activist. His best-known work, Against His-Story, Against Leviathan!, retells the historical rise of state domination through the Hobbesian metaphor of the Leviathan.

Early life[edit]

Perlman was born August 20, 1934, in Brno, Czechoslovakia, to Henry and Martha Perlman. His family immigrated to the United States when he was young. Perlman received a master's degree from Columbia University and a doctorate from University of Belgrade. He married Lorraine Nybakken in January 1958.[1]

Professional life[edit]

His best-known work,[2] Against His-Story, Against Leviathan (1983) rewrites the history of humanity as a struggle of free people ("zeks") resisting the sovereign nation-state (Leviathan).[3] The book influenced ecophilosopher John Zerzan.[4] Philosopher John P. Clark states that Against His-Story, Against Leviathan! describes Perlman's critique of what he saw as "the millennia-long history of the assault of the technological megamachine on humanity and the Earth." Clark also notes the book discusses "anarchistic spiritual movements" such as the Yellow Turban movement in ancient China and the Brethren of the Free Spirit in medieval Europe.[5]

In 1984 Perlman wrote a work on the subject of nationalism called The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism.[6] In it he argues that "Leftist or revolutionary nationalists insist that their nationalism has nothing in common with the nationalism of fascists and national socialists, that theirs is a nationalism of the oppressed, that it offers personal as well as cultural liberation."[6] And so "To challenge these claims, and to see them in a context,"[6] he asks "what nationalism is – not only the new revolutionary nationalism but also the old conservative one."[6] And so he concludes that nationalism is an aid to capitalist control of nature and people regardless of its origin. Nationalism thus provides a form through which "Every oppressed population can become a nation, a photographic negative of the oppressor nation" and that "There's no earthly reason for the descendants of the persecuted to remain persecuted when nationalism offers them the prospect of becoming persecutors. Near and distant relatives of victims can become a racist nation-state; they can themselves herd other people into concentration camps, push other people around at will, perpetrate genocidal war against them, procure preliminary capital by expropriating them."[6]

During 1985, Perlman wrote two essays on Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom Perlman regarded – along with Hawthorne's contemporaries Thoreau and Melville – as a critic of technology and imperialism.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Perlman died on July 26, 1985, while undergoing heart surgery in Detroit's Ford Hospital. He was survived by his wife and a brother.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Fredy Perlman (1962), Plunder, New York: Living Theatre
  • "Essay on Commodity Fetishism". Telos 6 (Fall 1970). New York: Telos Press.
  • "The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism"
  • "The Reproduction of Daily Life"
  • Against His-story! Against Leviathan!
  • Worker-Student Action Committees, France May '68 with Roger Gregoire
  • Manual for Revolutionary Leaders
  • Manual for Revolutionary Leaders Second Edition Including The Sources of Velli's Thoughts (Black & Red, Detroit, 1974)
  • "Ten Theses on the Proliferation of Egocrats"
  • "Obituary for Paul Baran"
  • "The Machine Against the Garden: Two Essays on American Literature and Culture"
  • "Chicago, 1968"
  • "Anything can happen"
  • Illyria Street Commune 1979 (AudioPlay)
  • Illyria Street Commune 1979 (Playscript on The Anarchist Library)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Deaths: Fredy Perlman". Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City, Iowa. July 29, 1985. p. 3.
  2. ^ Purkis, Jonathan; Bowen, James, eds. (2005). Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age. Manchester: Manchester University Press. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-7190-6694-8.
  3. ^ Marcus, Daniel (April 2020). "Information War". Artforum. Vol. 58, no. 8. ISSN 0004-3532.
  4. ^ Purkis, Jonathan (2004). "Anarchy Unbound: A Tribute to John Moore". In Moore, John; Sunshine, Spencer (eds.). I Am Not a Man, I Am Dynamite! Friedrich Nietzsche and the Anarchist Tradition. New York: Autonomedia. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-57027-121-2. OCLC 249155584.
  5. ^ John P. Clark, "Anarchism" in Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature, edited by Bron Taylor; New York : Continuum, 2008, pp.49–56. ISBN 978-1-84706-273-4
  6. ^ a b c d e The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism by Fredy Perlman
  7. ^ Having Little, Being Much

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]