The Corner

Bleg — Activism

Does anyone know when and where the word “activist” came into the language? I don’t have access to the OED and the like out here in the Pacific Northwest. Serious, informed, answers only please.

Update: Okay, plenty of email from the OED already. Thanks much (Thomas at U. Iowa was first, by the way). The OED entry is useful, but it prompts more questions. I’m particularly intrigued by this passage:

1907 W. R. B. GIBSON Eucken’s Philos. of Life (ed. 2) App. 170 Eucken deliberately adopts the activistic label as a distinctive philosophical badge. 1909 Athenæum 17 Apr. 469/3 Pragmatism..is tainted with the characteristic activist fallacy of making process as active account for the structural form of process which it implies. 1913 E. UNDERHILL Mystic Way 31 The positive and activistic mysticism of the West. 1915 Times 7 Aug. 7/6 For some, neutrality simply means a passive aloofness. For others, neutrality should be active, and these are divided, in the current jargon, with active and passive ‘activists’. 1949 Theology LII. 363 American Christianity has tended traditionally to express itself in an activist form. 1954 KOESTLER Invisible Writing 206 He was not a politician but a propagandist, not a ‘theoretician’ but an ‘activist’.

I’d still like a better take-out on the etymology if there is one. But I’m also interested in the philosophical ties with Pragmatism. Any serious feedback on this would be greatly appreciated.

Most Popular

Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Culture

Our Real Systemic Problem

America’s got a problem that’s systemic in nature. This problem has less to do with individual intentions than the structure within which our intentions are formed. That structure explains a great deal about observed disparities in wealth, and other advantages, between various racial and ethnic groups. It ... Read More
Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
Elections

The Stolen-Election Narrative Needs to End

Happy Cyber Monday! On the menu today: The president speculates that the U.S. Department of Justice and FBI may be involved in the effort to steal the election from him; China hopes that you and the rest of the world forget how the pandemic started; and the 2020 edition of the annual NR Cyber Monday shopping ... Read More
Film & TV

Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans

Ever spent much time in England? I have. Spring of 2012, it rained for a month. I don’t mean intermittently. The clouds opened on April 1, and they didn’t close until May. It was like living under a waterfall. Ever notice that rain makes people a tad grumpy? I began to suspect a connection between the ... Read More
Film & TV

Ted Lasso Nails Brits and Americans

Ever spent much time in England? I have. Spring of 2012, it rained for a month. I don’t mean intermittently. The clouds opened on April 1, and they didn’t close until May. It was like living under a waterfall. Ever notice that rain makes people a tad grumpy? I began to suspect a connection between the ... Read More