Ahrne Thorne (1904-1985)

Arne Thorne (originally Thorenberg) was born on 26 December 1904 into a Hasidic family in the Polish city of Lodz. As a teenager he broke with the family’s traditionalist ways and moved to Paris where he became an anarchist during the campaign on favour of Sacco and Vanzetti. Moving to Toronto in 1930 he worked as a labourer and was active in the Libertarian Group, becoming friendly with Emma Goldman and he started to write for the Freie Arbeiter Stimme, a collaboration that was to endure for nearly half a century. From 1940 onwards – having moved to New York where he was among the founders of the Libertarian Book Club – he worked as a type-setter for various Yiddish publications. A type-setter by trade and an amateur journalist, he was to be deputy editor of Freie Arbeiter Stimme from 1952 to 1957 and editor from 1957 to 1977. Under his leadership the paper regained its prestigious ‘niche’ position in Yiddish intellectual and cultural circles. In December 1977 the Freie Arbeiter Stimme ceased publication after 87 years; aside from Freedom, founded in 1886, it was the longest-lived anarchist newspaper ever. And, after its Italian equivalent L’Adunata dei Refrattari closed in 1971. Thorne always pushed a positive view of anarchy as a fraternal community made up of cooperatives, unions, and educational and cultural organisations freed from the dominance of religion, capital and the State. He was particularly fond of quoting a passage from the Bible, from the Book of Judges, because it spoke of a time when the Jews were governed only by a simple confederation. It reads: ‘In those days Israel was without a king; everyone did what was just in his eyes.’ Ahrne died in New York on 13 December 1985 at the age of 81.

From: Bollettino Archivio G. Pinelli No 15, Milan, April 2000 . Translated by: Paul Sharkey.