Archive of Why?, an anarchist publication produced out of New York City from 1942-1947.

In 1942, after 3 years with no English-language anarchist publication published in the U.S., a group of people, most of who had been associated with the youth group surrounding Vanguard, started Why?.

Founded by Audrey Goodfriend, David Koven, Sam & Esther Dolgoff, Franz Fleigler and Dorothy Rogers, Why?was initially similar in content as Vanguard, the Second World War proved to be a contentious issue among the group that published Why?. Sam and Esther Dolgoff, as well as Fliegler and his wife, Bessie, advocated critical support for the Allied war effort, while most of the rest of the group took an antiwar stance.

Initially influenced by the 'revolutionary defeatism' type of war position by the the Italian-American, and insurrectionary anarchist leaning publication, L' Adunata dei refrattari, members of the Why? group increasingly moved towards pacifism. Rejecting both the draft and the state-run labor camps for religious conscientiousness objectors, most of the men involved with the group ended up in prison or on the run.

The publication developed strong personal and political ties with Retort, another anarchist publication that leaned towards pacifism during the war years.

Why? went on to be produced until 1947, when it was replaced by Resistance.


-Anarchist voices: an oral history of anarchism in America (Abridged) edited by Paul Avrich

-Unruly equality: U.S. anarchism in the 20th century by Andrew Cornell

Posted By

Juan Conatz
Jul 24 2016 06:56


Attached files


Juan Conatz
Aug 1 2016 22:07

Have 8 more issues scanned. Will upload as the week goes on. Switched to black and white because it is a lot faster and since this publication is entirely text, not much is lost.

Juan Conatz
Aug 6 2016 21:00

Scanned the rest of the issues I have and wrote a short intro.

Jul 27 2018 03:05

David Koven, who was part off this publishing group, was a "silent" member of WSA. In all the years he was a member, I never knew about his back story.

Juan Conatz
Jul 30 2018 13:14
syndicalist wrote:
David Koven, who was part off this publishing group, was a "silent" member of WSA. In all the years he was a member, I never knew about his back story.

That's interesting considering that Why was a split from the more "orthodox" anarcho-syndicalist Vanguard.

Jul 30 2018 15:11

Perhaps he was "home sick". No clue. At the time he joined, we were very active, published a sorta regular publication (ideas&action) and maybe attracted to the seriousness and quality of our efforts. Maybe cause we knew many old timers and he was comfortable with that. Really hard to say. I basically remember (or think I do) the few letters being "hello, thanks for keeping me posted" sorta letters. And few at that. One of those mysteries well never have can answer to, I suppose.