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Dolgoff was born in the shtetl of Ostrovsky in Vitebsk, Russia, moving as a child to New York City in 1905 or 1906, where he lived in the Bronx and in Manhattan's Lower East Side where he died. His father was a house painter, and Dolgoff began house painting at the age of 11, a profession he remained in his entire life.
Sam joined the Industrial Workers of the World in the 1922 and remained an active member his entire life, playing an active role in the anarchist movement for much of the century. He was a co-founder of the Libertarian Labor Review magazine, which was later re-named Anarcho-Syndicalist Review to avoid confusion with America's Libertarian Party.
Dolgoff was a member of the Chicago Free Society Group in the 1920s, Vanguard Group member and editor of its publication Vanquard: A Journal of Libertarian Communism in the 1930s, and co-founded the Libertarian League in New York in 1954. He wrote articles for anarchist magazines as well as books as the editor of highly-acclaimed anthologies, some of which are listed below. He was active in many causes, and attended groups like New York's Libertarian Book Club regularly.
Dolgoff was perhaps best known for his book The Anarchist Collectives: Workers' Self-Management in the Spanish Revolution 1936-1939 and his anthology of Bakunin's writings, Bakunin on Anarchy. The latter volume has been criticized for creating a misleading picture of Bakunin's politics by omitting or explaining away Bakunin's virulent anti-Semitism and his top-down authoritarian model of revolutionary organization.
Dolgoff, and his wife Esther, served as a link to anarchism's past to young anarchists of the 1960s and 1970s living in New York. He focused upon anarchism's (specifically anarcho-syndicalism's) roots in workers' movements and served as a moderating counterbalance to the punk-era anarchists who tended towards 'monkeywrenching' and confrontations with the police. Although Dolgoff was friends with Murray Bookchin, a notable anarchist theorist of the period, he was opposed to Bookchin's theory of Social Ecology, rooted as he was in the classical anarchist traditions of Mikhail Bakunin and Peter Kropotkin.
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