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Down with the Bosses!

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth:

Here's a translation of an article from Le Libertaire, originally published as "L’autorité. — La Dictature," April, 1859. I've also recently translated his poem, "To the Ci-Devant Dynastics." I think the difficulties, and the resulting rough spots, in both translations will be fairly obvious.

Down with the Bosses!

by Joseph Déjacque

April, 1859

We are no longer in the fabled times of Saturn, when the father devoured his children, nor in the times of Herod, when one massacred an entire generation of frail innocents—which, after all, did not prevent Jesus from escaping the massacre, or Jupiter the devouring. We live in an era where we no longer kill children much by the sword or the teeth, and where it appears natural enough that the young bury the old. Hercules is dead; why seek to resuscitate him? One can at the most only galvanize him. The club is less mighty than saltpeter, saltpeter is less mighty than the electric battery, and the electric battery is less mighty than the idea.

To every idea, present and to come, welcome! Authority had reigned so long over men, that it has taken such possession of humanity. It has left garrisons everywhere in the mind. Even today, it is difficult, other than in thought, to chip it away from top to bottom. Each civilizée is a fortress for it, which, under the guard of prejudices, stands hostile to the passage of that invading Amazon, Liberty. Thus, those who believe themselves revolutionaries and swear only by liberty, proclaim nonetheless the necessity of dictatorship, as if dictatorship did not exclude liberty, and liberty dictatorship. What big babies there are, truth be told, among the revolutionaries!—and big babies who cling to their daddy—for whom the democratic and social Republic is necessary, doubtless, but with an emperor or a dictator—it's all one—for the governor; people mounted sidesaddle, and faced towards the rump, on their donkey's carcass, and who, their eyes fixed on the perspective of progress, move away from it as fast as they approach it,—the feet in this position galloping in the opposite direction ahead of the head. These revolutionaries, bare-necked politickers, have preserved with the imprint of the collar, the moral stain of servitude, the stiff neck of despotism. Alas! They are only too numerous among us. They call themselves republicans, democrats and socialists, and they have fondness, they have love only for authority in the arms of iron: more monarchistic in reality than the monarchists, who beside them could nearly pass for anarchists.

Dictatorship, whether it is a hydra with a hundred heads or a hundred tails, whether they are autocratic or demagogic, can certainly do nothing for liberty: it can only perpetuate slavery, morally and physically. It is not by regimenting a people of helots under a yoke of iron, since there is iron, by imprisoning them in a uniform of proconsular wills, that intelligent and free men can result. All that which is not liberty is against liberty. Liberty is not a thing that can be allocated. It does not pertain at the whim of whatever personage or committee of public safety that orders it, that makes a gift of it. Dictatorship can cut off the heads of men, but it cannot make them increase and multiply; it can transform intelligences into corpses, but it cannot transform cadavers into intelligences; it can make the slaves creep and crawl under its boots, like maggots or caterpillars, flattening them under his heavy tread,—but only Liberty can give them wings. It is only through free labor, intellectual and moral labor, that our generation, civilization or chrysalis, will be metamorphosed into a bright and shiny butterfly, will take on the human type and continue its development in Harmony.

Many men, I know, speak of liberty without understanding it; they have neither the science of it nor even the sentiment. They never see in the demolition of the reigning Authority anything but a substitution of names or persons; they don't imagine that a society could function without masters or servants, without chiefs and soldiers; in this they are like those reactionaries who say: "There are always rich and poor, and there always will be. What would become of the poor without the rich? They would die of hunger!" The demagogues do not say exactly that, but they say: "There have always been governors and governed, and there always will. What would become of the people without government? They would rot in bondage!" All these antiquarians, the reds and the whites, are just partners and accomplices; anarchy, libertarianism disrupts their miserable understanding, an understanding encumbered with ignorant prejudices, with asinine vanity, with cretinism. Plagiarists of the past, the revolutionaries retrospective and retroactive, the dictatorists, those subservient to brute force, all those crimson authoritarians who call for a saving power, will croak all their lives without finding what they desire. Fellows to the frogs who asked for a king, we see them and will always see them change their Soliveau for a Grue, the government of July for the government of February, the perpetrators of the massacres of Rouen for those of the massacres of June, Cavaignac for Bonaparte, and tomorrow, if they can, Bonaparte for Blanqui... If one day they cry: "Down with the municipal guard!" it is in order to cry at the next instant: "Long live the guard mobile!" Or they swap the guard mobile for the imperial guard, as they would swap the imperial guard for the revolutionary battalions. Subjects they were; subjects they are; subjects they will be. They neither know what they want nor what they do. They complained yesterday that they did not have the man of their choice; they complain the next day of having too much of him. Finally, at every moment and every turn, they invoke Authority "with his long, sharp beak, helved on his slender neck" [au long bec emmanché d’un long cou], and they find it surprising that it crunches them, that it kills them!

Whoever calls himself revolutionary and speaks of dictatorship is only a dupe or a rogue, an imbecile or a traitor: imbecile and dupe if he advocates it as the auxiliary of the social Revolution, as a mode of transition from the past to the future, for it is always to conjugate Authority in the present indicative; rogue and traitor if he only envisions it as a means of taking their place in the budget and of playing the representative in all modes and at all times.

How many dwarves are there, indeed, who would like nothing better than to have official stilts: a title, a salary, some representation to pull themselves out of the quagmire where ordinary mortals flounder and give themselves the airs of giants. Will the common people always be stupid enough to provide a pedestal for these pygmies? Will they always be told: “You speak of suppressing those elected by universal suffrage, to throw the national and democratic representation out the windows, but what will you put in its place? For finally, something is necessary, and someone must command: a committee of public safety, then? You do not want an emperor, a tyrant, this is understood, but who will replace it: a dictator?... because everyone can not drive, and there must be one who devotes himself to govern others..." Eh! Gentlemen or citizens, what good is it to replace it if it is only to replace it? What is needed is to destroy evil and not displace it. What does it matter to me whether he bears one name or another, whether he is here or there, if, under this mask or that appearance, he is still and always in my way.—One removes an enemy; one does not replace it.

Dictatorship, the sovereign magistracy, the monarchy, so to speak,—for to recognize that the Authority which is evil can do good, is this not to declare oneself monarchist, to sanction despotism, to renounce the Revolution?—If one asks them, these absolute partisans of brutal force, these advocates of demagogic and compulsory authority, how they would exercise it, in what manner they will organize this strong power: some will respond to you, like the late Marat, that they want a dictator in ball and chains, and sentenced by the people to work for the people. First let us distinguish: either the dictator acts by the will of the people, and thus will not really be a dictator, and will only be like a fifth wheel on a carriage; or else he will really be a dictator, will have he leads and whip in his hands, and he will act only according to his own good pleasure, which is to say for the exclusive profit of his divine person. To act in the name of the people is to act in the name of everyone, isn't it? And everyone is not scientifically, harmonically, intelligently revolutionary. But I admit, in order to conform to the thought of the blanquists, for example—that tail of carbonarism, that ba-be-bou-vist freemasonry, those invisibles of a new species, that society of secret...intelligences,—that there is a people and a people, the people of the initiated brothers, the disciples of the great popular architect, and the uninitiated. These affiliates, these outstanding characters, do they always agree among themselves? Let one decree be issued on property, or the family—or you-name-it—some will find it too radical, and others not radical enough. A thousand daggers, for the moment, are raised a thousand times a day against the dictatorial slavery. Whoever would accept a similar role would not have two minutes to live. But he would not accept it seriously, he would have his coterie, all the men scrabbling for gain who will squeeze around him, and would be for him a consecrated battalion of manservants in order to have the left-overs of his authority, the crumbs of power. Then perhaps he can indeed command in the name of the people, I do not deny it, but without fail, against the people. He will deport or have shot all those who have libertarian impulses. Like Charlemagne or whatever other king, who measured men by the height of his sword, he would decapitate all the intelligences that surpassed his level, he would forbid all progress which goes further than him. He will be like all men of public safety, like the politicals of 93, followers of the Jesuits of the Inquisition, and he will propagate the general dumbing-down, he will crush individual initiative, he will make the night of the dawning day, cast shadows on the social idea. He will plunge us back, dead or alive, into the charnel house of Civilization, and will make for the people, instead of intellectual and moral autonomy, an automatism of flesh and bone, a body of brutes. Because, for a political dictator as for a Jesuit director, what is best in man, what is good, is the corpse!...

Others, in their dream of dictatorship, differ somewhat from these, in that they do not want the dictatorship of one alone, of a one-headed Samson, but the jawbones of a hundred or a thousand donkeys, a dictatorship of the small wonders of the Proletariat, deemed intelligent by them because they have reeled off one day or another some banalities in prose or verse, because they have scribbled their names on the polling lists or on the registers of some small politico-revolutionary chapel; the dictatorship finally of heads and arms hairy enough to compete with the Ratapoils, and with the mission, as usual, to exterminate the aristocrats or the philistines? They think like the others, that the evil is not so much in the liberticidal institutions as in the choice of tyrants. Egalitarians in name, they are for castes in principle. And by putting the workers in power, in the place of the bourgeois, they do not doubt that all will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds.

Put the workers in power! In truth, we need only to think back. Haven’t we had Albert in the provisional government? Is it possible to see anything more idiotic? What was he, if not a plastron? In the constituent or legislative assembly we have had the delegates from Lyons; if it was necessary to judge the represented by the representatives, that would be a sad specimen of the intelligence of the workers of Lyon. Paris gave us Nadaud, a dull nature, intelligent enough for a porter, who dreamed of transforming his trowel into a presidential scepter,—the imbecile! Then also Corbon, the reverend of the Atelier, and perhaps much the least Jesuitical, for he, at least, was not slow to cast off the mask and to take his place in the midst of, and side by side with, the reactionaries.—As on the steps of the throne the lackeys are more royalist than the king, so in the echelons of official or legal authority the republican workers are more bourgeois than the bourgeoisie. And that is understood: the freed slave who becomes master always exaggerates the vices of the planter who has trained him. He is a disposed to abuse his command just to the extent that he has been prone or forced into submission and baseness by his commanders.

A dictatorial committee composed of workers is certainly the thing one could find most inflated with self-importance and nullity and, consequently, the most anti-revolutionary. If one could take seriously the notion of public safety, it is first and in every occasion to unseat the workers from all governmental authority, and then and always to oust as much as possible from society governmental authority itself. (Better for power to have suspected enemies than doubtful friends.)

Official or legal authority, by whatever name one decorates it, is always false and harmful. Only natural or anarchic authority is true and beneficial.

Who had authority in fact and in law, in 48? Was it the provisional government, the executive commission, Cavaignac or Bonaparte? None of the above. For, if they had violent force in hand, they were themselves only instruments, the meshed gears of the reaction; thus, they were not motors, but machines. All the governmental authorities, even the most autocratic, are only that. They function at the will of a faction and in the service of that faction, except for the accidents of intrigues, and the explosions of compromised ambition. The true authority in 48, the authority of universal safety cannot be thus not in the government, but, as always, outside the government, in individual initiative: Proudhon was its most eminent representative (among the people, I mean, not in the Chamber). It was in him that was personified the revolutionary agitation of the masses. And for that representation, he had no need of legalized title or mandate. His sole title came to him from his work, his science, his genius. His mandate, he did not hold it from another, from the arbitrary suffrages of brute force, but from itself alone, from conscience/consciousness and from the spontaneity of his intellectual force. Natural and anarchic authority had any share of influence to which it was entitled. And that is an authority which has only to make de prétoriens, for it is the dictatorship of the Intelligence: it stirs and it invigorates. Its mission is not to garrotter or to shorten men, but to but to grow them all the height of the head, but to develop in all of them the force of expansion of their mental nature. It does not produce, like the other, slaves in the name of public liberty, it destroys slavery in the name of private authority. It does not impose itself on the plebs by crenellating itself in a palace, by armoring itself with iron mail, by riding among its archers, like the feudal barons;—it is asserted in the people, as stars become apparent in the firmament, by shining on its satellites!!

What greater power would Proudhon have had being a governor? Not only would he have not had more of it, but he would have had much less, supposing even that he could have preserved in power his revolutionary passions. His power coming to his from his brain, all that which would have been of a nature to impede the labor of his brain would have been an attack on his power. If he had been a dictator, in boots and spurs, armed from head to toe, invested with the suzerain sash and cockade, he would have lost to politicking with his entourage all the time that he employed to socialize the masses. He would have made reaction instead of revolution. See instead the chatelaine of the Luxembourg, Louis Blanc, perhaps the best-intentioned in all the provisional government, and yet the most perfidious, the one who has delivered the sermonized workers to the armed bourgeois; he has done all the preachers in vestments or authoritarian badges have done, preached Christian charity to the poor in order to save the rich.

The titles, the government mandates are only good for the non-entities who, too cowardly to be anything by themselves, want to be seen. They have no reason to be, except for the reason of these runts. The strong man, the man of intelligence, the man who is everything by labor and nothing by intrigue, the man who is the son of his works and not the son of his father, of his uncle or of any patron, has nothing to sort out with these carnivalesque attributions; he despises and hates them as a travesty which will sully his dignity, as something obscene and infamous. The weak man, the ignorant man, who still has the feeling for Humanity, must also fear them; he needs for that only a little common sense. For if every harlequinade is ridiculous, it is more horrible when it carries a stick!

Every dictatorial government, whether it be understood in the singular or the plural, every demagogic Power could only delay the coming of the social Revolution by substituting its initiative, whatever it may be, its omnipotent reason, its civic and inevitable will to anarchic initiative, to the reasoned will, to the autonomy of each. The social revolution can be made only by the organ of all individually; otherwise it is not the social revolution. What is necessary then, that towards which it must tend, is to give each and everyone the possibility, that is to say in the necessity of acting, in order that the movements, communicating with each other, give and receive the impetus of progress and thus increase the force tenfold and a hundredfold. What is necessary in the end, is as many dictators as there are thinking beings, man or women, in the society, in order to shake it, to rise up against it, to pull it from its inertia,—and not a Loyola in red hat, a general politics to discipline, that is immobilize one another, to settle on their chests, on their hearts, like a nightmare, in order to suppress the pulsations, and on their forehead, on their brain, as an compulsory or catechismal instruction, in order to torment its understanding.

Governmental authority, dictatorship, whether it is called empire or republic, throne or chair, savior of order or committee of public safety; whether it exists today under the name of Bonaparte or tomorrow under the name of Blanqui; whether it comes out of Ham or Belle-Ile; whether it has in its insignias an eagle or a stuffed lion... dictatorship is only the violation of liberty by a corrupted virility, by the syphilitic; it is a cesarian sickness innoculated with the seeds of reproduction in the intellectual organs of popular generation. It is not a kiss of freedom, a natural and fruitful manifestation of puberty, it is a fornication of virginity with decrepitude, an assault on morals, a crime like the abuse of the tutor towards his pupil, it is a humanicide!

There is only one revolutionary dictatorship, only one humanitary dictatorship: it is the intellectual and moral dictatorship. Is not everyone free to participate there? It is enough to want it to be able to do it. There is no need apart from it, and no need, in order to make it recognized, for battalions of lictors nor of trophies of bayonets; it advances escorted only by its free thoughts, and has for scepter only its beam of enlightenment. It does not make the Law, it discovers it; it is not Authority, but it makes it. It exists only by the will of labor and the right of science. He who denies it today will affirm it tomorrow. For it does not command the maneuver by buttoning itself up in inactivity, like the colonel of a regiment, but it orders the movement by preaching by example, and demonstrates progress by progress.

— Everyone marching in step! says the one, and it is the dictatorship of brute force, the animal dictatorship.

— Let he who loves me follow me! says the other, it is the dictatorship of force intellectualized, the hominal dictatorship. One has the support of all the shepherds, all the herders, all those who command or obey in the fold, all that which is domiciled in Civilisation. The other has for it individualities made men, decivilized intelligences. One is the last representation of the modern Paganism, the eve of final closure, its farewells to the public. The other is the debut of a new era, its entry onto the scene, the triumph of Socialism. The one is so old that it touches the tomb; the other is so young that it touches the cradle.

— Old one! It is the Law, — it is necessary to perish!

— It is the law of nature, child! — you will grow!!

New York, April 1859

Read the whole thing at Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth.

I hope this clears things up…

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth:

Johnson's (Revised) Universal Cyclopaedia (1886) contained the following explanation, by its creator, of the science of "universology:"

Universol´ogy is the name given to a universal science covering the whole ground of philosophy, of the sciences in their general aspects—in which sense it is called “sciento-philosophy”—and of social polity, or the collective life of the human world. As a philosophy, in the more common and general or less precise use of that term, the system is called “integralism,” as that of Comte is called “positivism;” as a new science—in the exact sense as a new scientific method and as the philosophy of science—it is especially known as “universology;” and as a social polity—”the universal institute of humanity” (universal government, universal religion, universal social organization, etc.)—it is called the “pantarchy.” Sciento-philosophy is the name which applies to the system especially in so far as it is a philosophy of the sciences, or a new philosophical system based on and derived from the objective point of view of the special sciences.

Universology claims to be reconciliative of all systems of philosophy, by virtue of positive new discovery and of the unity which it, for the first time, establishes between philosophy and science, and between both of these and the domains of art, religion, and practical life. Universology claims to be “a single and central science among the sciences, and that from which the integral education of mankind should hereafter take its departure. It embraces those laws of being which are common to all sciences and to all departments or domains of being, and which, when known and systematized, constitute the unity of the sciences in a sense alike new, peculiar, and important. Universology is based on analogy, resting in turn on the discovery and demonstration of a unific element in things otherwise diverse from each other through all spheres— not, therefore, analogy in a vague poetic sense, as mere superficial resemblance, nor in an occult and mystical sense, nor, in fine, in the narrow technical sense to which it has been confined in comparative anatomy as contrasted with homology. It is analogy in that essential sense in which it underlies all other possible analogies. Analogy, in the broad or universological sense, includes both homology and analogy in the narrow scientific sense, together with nil resemblances which are fundamental, or such as grow out of an underlying unity of system (of outlay, organotaxis or functions) in all spheres of being; or such, in other words, as rest upon the existence of a real, permanent, and traceable unific clement in the midst of the overlying diversity of phenomena. The universologist is, therefore, by no means, one who claims to know everything, as is sometimes mistakenly supposed, but merely one who known certain newly-discovered principles and laws of science which are common to all the sciences, and which serve to systematize and harmonize the sciences and the details within the several sciences, as well as—when applied in the practical sphere—to regulate the affairs of human life.”

The three fundamental principles of universology, from which the whole logical and actual evolution of being is then to be rigorously deduced, furnishing all the sciences and the details within the sciences, are unism, duism, and trinism, defined as follows; Unism is the principle or spirit of the number one, duism of the number two, and trinism of the number three. Unism is not mere unity, nor duism mere duality, nor trinism mere trinity. If we were to consider a handful of printer's types, unity in respect to this collection of objects would mean either the handful as one, or a single one among the types, or each of the types in turn as a single one: and duality, in this connection, would mean either some two among the types, or any two among the types, until the whole was exhausted by these couplings, unism, as relating to this same collection of objects, would, on the contrary, mean no one of the ideas above attributed to unity, but a different idea, still related to unity—namely, the capacity of these types to be united into printer's forms which produce the printed page; so duism does not mean either of the ideas above attributed to duality, but another idea, which is, however, also related to or allied with two-ness—namely, the capacity of these types for being separated and distributed, each one apart from every other one, as a preparation, it may be, for other new combination or unity. So, again, trinism does not mean a mere trinity, which would consist of any three types united, but it means another idea, compounded of the unism and the duism, and related, therefore, to one and two, and indirectly therefore to three. Trinism is, in other words, the new and higher unity of the unism and the duism; that is to say, of the capacity of the types to be united for a unitary purpose, and to be separated or distributed for a dispartive purpose—the compound character, in other words, of this collection of objects enabling them to act in two opposite and contradictory methods, hinging, nevertheless, upon the inherent unity in the constitution of each type, Unism, duism, and trinism are, therefore, three qualities which inhere in. or pertain to, every typo individually, and the sum of which qualities is the total character of the type. They are, nevertheless, qualities which are derived from quantitative discriminations, and specifically from one, two, and three; but they must by no means be confounded with the common ideas of unity, duality, and trinity.

Duism has a close relationship with Spencer's “differentiation,” but it differs from it in the fact that it is the lowest or most elementary term of differentiation; that it offers, for that reason, the broadest generalization of the idea; and that it is, at the same time, more fundamentally exact. Unism and trinism are confusedly represented by Spencer's “integration.”

Unism and duism crop out and reappear under many forms, and in the absence, heretofore, of any sufficiently compendious generalization, they have received a variety of namings; thus, unism is called unity, sameness, centralizing or centripetal tendency, gravitation, arrival, conjunction, thesis or synthesis, integration, combination, contraction, generality, simplicity, etc. It is the tendency to unite or toward unity, or the manifestation of the presence or results of that tendency, in thousands of modes in every sphere of being. Duism is called diversity, difference or variety, decentralizing or centrifugal tendency, repulsion, departure, separation, antithesis, analysis, differentiation, diffusion, expansion, specialty, complexity, etc. It is the tendency to disparting or dividing, or the manifestation of the presence or results of that tendency in thousands of modes in every sphere of being. Trinism is the principle symbolized by the totality of being, or of any particular being. It is compounded of unism and duism as its factors, constituents, or elements. Hence it is a cardinated or hingewise principle, entity, or manifestation, the type or representative of all-concrete or real being, unism and duism being abstract elements of being merely.

All orderly numbers capable of count or of falling into regular scries constitute collectively unismal number, being characterized by unity in the sense in which we speak of the unity of a poem, a play, or other work of art. All chaotic and irregular numbers are then duismal, and the totality of number, embracing these two opposite aspects under one head or in one domain, is trinismal. Within the unismus of number—that is to say, within the domain of orderly numbers—the odd numbers, headed by the number one, are unismal; the even numbers, headed by the number two, duismal; and the combined series of odd and even numbers, headed by the number three, is trinismal. So all orderly, regular, or commensurable form is unismal; all disorderly, irregular, and incommensurable form is duismal; and the total domain of form as constituted of these two is trinismal. But within the proper unisma or domain of regular form, all round form, that which is constituted around one centre or regulative point, is unismal; all elongated form, the lowest term and type of which is the straight line, as that which is constituted with reference to two regulative points (the ends of the line), is duismal; and regularly modulated form, as Hogarth's line of beauty, triangular forms, and the like, as being constituted by reference to three regulative points, is trinismal form. To these elementary varieties all other forms are reducible.

In respect to position, the perpendicular, as central and uniaxial, is again unismal: the horizontal, measured by two axes, is duismal; and the incline from perpendicularity to horizontality, as relating at the same time to the one axis and to the two axes, is trinismal. As all these, however, are orderly, they are within the larger unismus of position, the corresponding duismus then being disorderly or chaotic position, and the larger trinismus being the totality of this domain of being.

It results from what has been said that orderly numeration, orderly form, and orderly position are three special instances of unism, and fall together into a new class or domain of being, which is the general unismus: that disorderly or chaotic numbers, disorderly or chaotic form, and disorderly or chaotic position are special instances of duism, and fall together into another special class or domain, which is the duismus of being at large; and that the conjunction of orderly and disorderly number, the conjunction of orderly and disorderly form, and the conjunction of orderly and disorderly position are special instances of trinism, and fall, in like manner, into a new class or domain, which is the trinismus of being at large. Unism, duism, and trinism become, therefore, the basis of a new and crosswise distribution and classification, taking in, as in this instance, a part of each particular sphere of being, as of number, of form, and of position, and uniting it with a corresponding part or portion of each of the other related spheres or departments of being.

And, again: within the unismus, odd numbers, round forms, and perpendicular positions are thrown together as allied analogically with each other; oven or regular numbers, even or regular forms, and horizontal postures or positions (also called “even,” then meaning level), are thrown in like manner into a special class as related analogically with each other; and finally, the combined series of numbers, odd and even, modulated form, partly round and partly elongated, and pyramidal or dome-like position, convergent from base to apex, are likewise thrown into a new special class or domain, as also analogously related to each other. This cross-division, as allied with classification, is analogous with comparative science, which takes a part out of each of the sciences compared, and classifies anew with reference to the relationship of these parts. The further signification and importance of this new basis of universological classification can only be exhibited in the special treatises devoted to the subject.

Abstract morphology is to universology, and to the rectified classification of all spheres, what the mathematical element is in geography, establishing definite lines of latitude and longitude, or what Mercator's projection is to navigation. It furnishes types and models for every variety of conception, and maps them out with a wonderful precision. Uprightness of character and the inclinations of the mind are no longer figures of speech, but scientific verities relating the phenomena of mind to the domain of form. Ethics, the science of government, sociology at large, and even theology and religion, are by this new method rendered rigorously amenable to scientific treatment. In a word, universology claims to be literally the science of the universe, or of all possible departments of thought, fully in accordance with the idea implied in its name.


Read the whole thing at Out of the Libertarian Labyrinth.

“The Mexican Revolution (Continuation),” by Voltairine de Cleyre (1912)

This article on the progress of the Mexican Revolution, by the American Anarchist writer and speaker Voltairine de Cleyre, appeared in Mother Earth, Vol. VI No. 11 (January, 1912).

This law of unappropriated lands, says Wm. Archer, has covered the country with Naboth’s Vineyards. I think it would require a Biblical prophet to describe the abomination of desolation it has made.

It was to become lords of this desolution that the men who play the game,–landlords who are at the same time governors and magistrates, enterprising capitalists seeking investments–connived at the iniquities of the Diaz régime; I will go further and say devised them.

The Madero family alone owns some 8,000 square miles of territory; more than the entire state of New Jersey. The Terrazas family, in the state of Chihuahua, owns 25,000 square miles; rather more than the entire state of West Virginia, nearly one-half the size of Illinois. What was the plantation owning of our southern states in chattel slavery days compared with this? And the peon’s share for his toil upon these great estates is hardly more than was the chattel slave’s–wretched housing, wretched food, and wretched clothing.

It is to slaves like these that Madero appeals to be frugal.

It is of men who have thus been disinherited that our complacent fellow citizens of Anglo-Saxon origin say: Mexicans! What do you know about Mexicans? their whole idea of life is to lean up against a fence and smoke cigarettes. And pray what idea of life should a people have whose means of life in their own way have been taken from them? Should they be so mighty anxious to convert their strength into wealth for some other man to loll in?

It reminds me very much of the answer given by a negro employee on the works at Fortress Monroe to a companion of mine who questioned him good-humoredly on his easy idleness when the foreman’s back was turned: Ah ain’t goin’ to do no white man’s work, fo’ Ah don’ get no white man’s pay.

But for the Yaquis, there was worse than this. Not only were their lands seized, but they were ordered, a few years since, to be deported to Yucatan. Now Sonora, as I said, is a northern state, and Yucatan one of the southernmost. Yucatan hemp is famous, and so is Yucatan fever, and Yucatan slavery on the hemp plantations. It was to that fever and that slavery that the Yaquis were deported, in droves of hundreds at a time, men, women and children–droves like cattle droves, driven and beaten like cattle. They died there, like flies, as it was meant they should. Sonora became desolated of her rebellious people, and the land became pacific in the hands of the new landowners. Too pacific in spots. They had not left people enough to reap the harvests.

Then the government suspended the deportation act, but with the provision that for every crime committed by a Yaqui, five hundred of his people be deported. This statement is made in Madero’s own book.

Now what in all conscience would any one with decent human feeling expect a Yaqui to do? Fight? As long as there was powder and bullet to be begged, borrowed, or stolen; as long as there is a garden to plunder, or a hole in the hills to hide in!

When the revolution burst out, the Yaquis and other Indian people said to the revolutionists: Promise us our lands back, and we will fight with you. And they are keeping their word magnificently. All during the summer they have kept up the warfare. Early in September, the Chihuahua papers reported a band of 1,000 Yaquis in Sonora about to attack El Anil; a week later 500 Yaquis had seized the former quarters of the federal troops at Pitahaya. This week it is reported that federal troops are dispatched to Ponoitlan, a town in Jalisco, to quell the Indians who have risen in revolt again because their delusion that the Maderist government was to restore their land has been dispelled. Like reports from Sinaloa. In the terrible state of Yucatan, the Mayas are in active rebellion; the reports say that The authorities and leading citizens of various towns have been seized by the malcontents and put in prison. What is more interesting is, that the peons have seized not only the leading citizens, but still more to the purpose have seized the plantations parceled them, and are already gathering the crops for themselves.

Of course, it is not the pure Indians alone who form the peon class of Mexico. Rather more than double the number of Indians are mixed breeds; that is, about 8,000,000, leaving less than 3,000,000 of pure white stock. The mestiza, or mixed breed population, have followed the communistic instincts and customs of their Indian forbears; while from the Latin side of their make-up, they have certain tendencies which work well together with their Indian hatred of authority.

The mestiza, as well as the Indians, are mostly ignorant in book knowledge, only about sixteen per cent. of the whole population of Mexico being able to read and write. It was not within the program of the civilizing regime to spend money in putting the weapon of learning in the people’s hands. But to conclude that people are necessarily unintelligent because they are illiterate, is in itself a rather unintelligent proceeding.

Moreover, a people habituated to the communal customs of an ancient agricultural life do not need books or papers to tell them that the soil is the source of wealth, and they must get back to the land!–even if their intelligence is limited.

Accordingly, they have got back to the land. In the state of Morelos, which is a small, south-central state, but a very important one,–being next to the Federal District, and by consequence to the City of Mexico,–there has been a remarkable land revolution. General Zapata, whose name has figured elusively in newspaper reports now as having made peace with Madero, then as breaking faith, next wounded and killed, and again resurrected and in hiding, then anew on the war path and proclaimed by the provisional government the arch-rebel who must surrender unconditionally and be tried by court martial; who has seized the strategic points on both the railroads running through Morelos, and who just a few days ago broke into the federal district, sacked a town, fought successfully at two or three points with the federals, blew out two railroad briadges and so frightened the deputies in Mexico City that they are all clamoring for all kinds of action; this Zapata, the fires of whose military camps are springing up now in Guerrero, Oaxaca and Pueblo as well, is an Indian with a long score to pay, and all an Indian’s satisfaction in paying it. He appears to be a fighter of the style of our revolutionary Marion and Sumter; the country in which he is operating is mountainous and guerrilla bands are exceedingly difficult of capture; even when they are defeated, they have usually succeeded in inflicting more damage than they have received, and they always get away.

Zapata has divided up the great estates of Morelos from end to end, telling the peasants to take possession. They have done so. They are in possession, and have already harvested their crops. (Morelos has a population of some 212,000.)

In Pueblo reports in September told us that eighty leading citizens had waited on the governor to protest against the taking possession of the land by the peasantry. The troops were deserting, taking horses and arms with them.

It is they, no doubt, who are now fighting with Zapata. In Chihuahua, one of the largest states, prisons have been thrown open and the prisoners recruited as rebels; a great hacienda was attacked and the horses run off, whereupon the peons rose and joined the attacking party.

In Sinaloa, a rich northern state,–famous in the southwestern United States some years ago as the field of a great co-operative experiment in which Mr. C.B. Hoffman, one of the former editors of the Chicago Daily Socialist, was a leading spirit,–this week’s paper reports that the former revolutionary general Juan Banderas is heading an insurrection second in importance only to that lead by Zapata.

In the southern border state of Chiapas, the taxes in many places could not be collected. Last week news items said that the present government had sent General Paz there, with federal troops, to remedy that state of affairs. In Tabasco, the peons refused to harvest the crops for their masters; let us hope they have imitated their brothers in Morelos and gathered them for themselves.

The Maderists have announced that a stiff repressive campaign will be inaugurated at once; if we are to believe the papers, we are to believe Madero guilty of the imbecility of saying, Five days after my inauguration the rebellion will be crushed. Just why the crushing has to wait till five days after the inauguration does not appear. I conceive there must have been some snickering among the reactionary deputies, if such an announcement was really made; and some astonished query among his followers.

What are we to conclude from all these reports? That the Mexican people are satisfied? That it’s all good and settled? What should we think if we read that the people, not of Lower but of Upper, California had turned out the ranch owners, had started to gather in the field products for themselves, and that the Secretary of War had sent U.S. troops to attack some thousands of armed men (Zapata has had 3,000 under arms the whole summer and that force is now greatly increased) who were defending that expropriation? If we read that in the state of Illinois that farmers had driven off the tax-collector? that the coast states were talking of secession and forming an independent combination? that in Pennsylvania a division of the federal army was to be dispatched to overpower a rebel force of fifteen hundred armed men doing guerrilla work from the mountains? that the prison doors of Maryland, within hailing distance of Washington City, were being thrown open by armed revolutionaries?

Should we call it a condition of peace? regard it as proof that the people were appeased? We should not: we would say the revolution was in full swing. And the reason you have thought it was all over in Mexico, from last May till now, is that the Chicago press, like the eastern, northern, and central press in general, has said nothing about this steady march of revolt. Even The Socialist has been silent. Now that the flame has shot up more spectacularly for the moment, they call it a new revolution.

That the papers pursue this course is partly due to the generally acting causes that produce our northern indifference, which I shall presently try to explain, and partly to the settled policy of capitalized interest in controlling its mouthpieces in such a manner as to give their present henchmen, the Maderists, a chance to pull their chestnuts out of the fire. They invested some $10,000,000 in this bunch, in the hope that they may be able to accomplish the double feat of keeping capitalist possessions intact and at the same time pacifying the people with specious promises. They want to lend them all the countenance they can, till the experiment is well tried; so they deliberately suppress revolutionary news.

Among the later items of interest reported by the Los Angeles Times are those which announce an influx of ex-officials and many-millioned landlords of Mexico, who are hereafter to be residents of Los Angeles. What is the meaning of it? Simply that life in Mexico is not such a safe and comfortable proposition as it was, and that for the present they prefer to get such income as their agents can collect without themselves running the risk of actual residence.

Of course, it is understood that some of this notable efflux (the supporters of Reyes, for example, who have their own little rebellions in Tabasco and San Luis Potosi this week), are political reactionists, scheming to get back the political loaves and fishes into their own hands. But most are simply those who know that their property right is safe enough to be respected by the Maderist government, but that the said government is not strong enough to put down the innumerable manifestations of popular hatred which are likely to terminate fatally to themselves if they remain there.

Nor is all this fighting revolutionary; not by any means. Some is reactionary, some probably the satisfaction of personal grudge, much no doubt the expression of general turbulency of a very unconscious nature. But granting all that may be thrown in the balance, the main thing, the mighty thing, the regenerative revolution is the reappropriation of the land by the peasants. Thousands upon thousands of them are doing it.

Ignorant peasants: peasants who know nothing about the jargon of land reformers or of Socialists. Yes: that’s just the glory of it! Just the fact that it is done by ignorant people; that is, people ignorant of book theories; but not ignorant, not so ignorant by half, of life on the land, as the theory-spinners of the cities. Their minds are simple and direct; they act accordingly. For them, there is one way to get back to the land; i.e., to ignore the machinery of paper land-holding (in many instances they have burned the records of the title-deeds) and proceed to plough the ground, to sow and plant and gather, and keep the product themselves.

Economists, of course, will say that these ignorant people, with their primitive institutions and methods, will not develop the agricultural resources of Mexico, and that they must give way before those who will so develop its resources; that such is the law of human development.

(To be Concluded)

Voltairine de Cleyre (1912)

“The Personal Is Political,” by Carol Hanish (1969)

One of the most influential slogans that radical feminists contributed to revolutionary politics in the late 1960s and 1970s was the slogan The personal is political! which profoundly challenged the narrow limits that Marxism, National Liberation movements, and other popular ideologies had set on what topics could be discussed as real political issues, which people’s problems were or were not counted as serious problems to be addressed by organized movements, and what sorts of strategies might be seriously considered as means to liberation. The phrase quickly spread throughout the women’s movement during the 1970s, and was soon being widely discussed without any reference back to the original source of the idea. But originally the phrase came about as the title of a 1969 position paper by Carol Hanish — a radical feminist who played a founding role in the formation of New York Radical Women and later the Redstockings — in which she defended the Women’s Liberation movement’s practice of small-group consciousness-raising meetings, against Left-wing criticisms that c.r. groups were doing therapy rather than politics, and complaints from movement politicos that feminist groups should spend less time talking about problems amongst themselves and more time taking public protest actions.

Hanisch’s paper was printed as part of the movement anthology Notes from the Second Year. The text for this edition is taken from the reprinting of the paper in the Appendix to the Redstockings anthology, Feminist Revolution (1975/1978), pp. 204-205.

The Personal Is Political

For this paper I want to stick pretty close to an aspect of the Left debate commonly talked about–namely therapy vs. therapy and politics. Another name for it is personal vs. political and it has other names, I suspect, as it has developed across the country. I haven’t gotten over to visit the New Orleans group yet, but I have been participating in groups in New York and Gainesville for more than a year. Both of these groups have been called therapy and personal groups by women who consider themselves more political. So I must speak about so-called therapy groups from my own experience.

The very word therapy is obviously a misnomer if carried to its logical conclusion. Therapy assumes that someone is sick and that there is a cure, e.g., a personal solution. I am greatly offended that I or any other woman is thought to need therapy in the first place. Women are messed over, not messed up! We need to change the objective conditions, not adjust to them. Therapy is adjusting to your bad personal alternative.

We have not done much trying to solve immediate personal problems of women in the group. We’ve mostly picked topics by two methods: in a small group it is possible for us to take turns bringing questions to the meeting (like, Which do/did you prefer, a girl or a boy baby or no children, and why? What happens to your relationship if your man makes more money than you? Less than you?). Then we go around the room answering the questions from our personal experiences. Everybody talks that way. At the end of the meeting we try to sum up and generalize from what’s been said and make connections.

I believe at this point, and maybe for a long time to come, that these analytical sessions are a form of political action. I do not go to these sessions because I need or want to talk about my personal problems. In fact, I would rather not. As a movement woman, I’ve been pressured to be strong, selfless, other-oriented, sacrificing, and in general pretty much in control of my own life. To admit to the problems in my life is to be deemed weak. So I want to be a strong woman, in movement terms, and not admit I have any real problems that I can’t find a personal solution to (except those directly related to the capitalist system). It is at this point a political action to tell it like it is, to say what I really believe about my life instead of what I’ve always been told to say.

So the reason I participate in these meetings is not to solve any personal problem. One of the first things we discover in these groups is that personal problems are political problems. There are no personal solutions at this time. There is only collective action for a collective solution. I went, and I continue to go to these meetings because I have gotten a political understanding which all my reading, all my political discussions, all my political action, all my four-odd years in the movement never gave me. I’ve been forced to take off the rose-colored glasses and face the awful truth about how grim my life really is as a woman. I am getting a gut understanding of everything as opposed to the esoteric, intellectual understandings and noblesse oblige feelings I had in other people’s struggles.

This is not to deny that these sessions have at least two aspects that are therapeutic. I prefer to call even this aspect political therapy as opposed to personal therapy. The most important is getting rid of self-blame. Can you imagine what would happen if women, blacks, and workers (my definition of worker is anyone who has to work for a living as opposed to those who don’t. All women are workers) would stop blaming ourselves for our sad situations? It seems to me the whole country needs that kind of political therapy. That is what the black movement is doing in its own way. We shall do it in ours. We are only starting to stop blaming ourselves.

We also feel like we are thinking for ourselves for the first time in our lives. As the cartoon in Lilith puts it, I’m changing. My mind is growing muscles. Those who believe that Marxd, Lenin, Engels, Mao, and Ho have the only and last good word on the subject and that women have nothing more to add will, of course, find these groups a waste of time.

The groups that I have been in have also not gotten into alternative life-styles or what it means to be a liberated woman. We came early to the conclusion that all alternatives are bad under present conditions. Whether we live with or without a man, communally or in couples or alone, are married or unmarried, live with other women, go for free love, celibacy, or lesbianism, or any combination, there are only good and bad things about each bad situation. There is no more liberated way; there are only bad alternatives.

This is part of one of the most important theories we are beginning to articulate. We call it the pro-woman line. What it says basically is that women are really neat people. The bad things that are said about us as women are either myths (women are stupid), tactics women use to struggle individually (women are bitches), or are actually things we want to carry into the new society and want men to share too (women are sensitive, emotional). Women as oppressed people act out of necessity (act dumb in the presence of men), not out of choice. Women have developed great shuffling techniques for their own survival (look pretty and giggle to get or keep a job or man) which should be used when necessary until such time as the power of unity can take its place. Women are smart not to struggle alone (as are blacks and workers). It is no worse to be in the home than in the rat race of the job world. They are both bad. Women, like blacks, workers, must stop blaming ourselves for our failures.

It took us some ten months to get to the point where we could articulate these things from the standpoint of what kind of action we are going to do. When our group first started, going by majority opinion, we would have been out in the streets demonstrating against marriage, against having babies, for free love, against women who wore makeup, against housewives, for equality without recognition of biological differences, and god knows what else. Now we see all these things as what we call personal solutionary. Many of the actions taken by action groups have been along these lines. The women who did the anti-woman stuff at the Miss America Pageant were the ones who were screaming for action without theory. The members of one group want to set up a private day-care center without any real analysis of what could be done to make it better for little girls, much less any analysis of how that center hastens the revolution.

That is not to say, of course, that we shouldn’t do action. There may be some very good reasons why women in the group don’t want to do anything at the moment. One reason that I often have is that this thing is so important to me that I want to be very sure that we’re doing it the best way we know how, and that it is a right action that I feel sure about. I refuse to go out and produce for the movement. We had a lot of conflict in our New York group about whether or not to do action. When the Miss America Protest was proposed there was no question but that we wanted to do it. I think it was because we all saw how it related to our lives. We felt it was a good action. There were things wrong with the action, but the basic idea was there.

This has been my experience in groups that are accused of being therapy or personal. Perhaps certain groups may well be attempting to do therapy. Maybe the answer is not to put down the method of analyzing from personal experiences in favor of immediate action, but to figure out what can be done to make it work. Some of us started to write a handbook about this at one time and never got past the outline. We are working on it again.

It’s true we all need to learn how to better draw conclusions from the experiences and feelings we talk about and how to draw all kinds of connections. Some of us haven’t done a very good job of communicating them to others.

One more thing: I think we must listen to what so-called apolitical women have to say–not so we can do a better job of organizing them but because together we are a mass movement. I think we who work full-time in the movement tend to become very narrow. What is happening now is that when nonmovement women disagree with us, we assume it’s because they are apolitical, not because there might be something wrong with our thinking. Women have left the movement in droves. The obvious reasons are that we are tired of being sex slaves and doing shitwork for men whose hypocrisy is so blatant in their political stance of liberation for everybody (else). But there is really a lot more to it than that. I can’t quite articulate it yet. I think apolitical women are not in the movement for very good reasons, and as long as we say, You have to think like us and live like us to join the charmed circle, we will fail. What I am trying to say is that there are things in the consciousness of apolitical women (I find them very political) that are as valid as any political consciousness we think we have We should figure out why many women don’t want to do action. Maybe there is something wrong with the action or something wrong with why we are doing the action or maybe the analysis of why the action is necessary is not clear enough in our minds.

Carol Hanish (March, 1969)

The themes that Hanisch develops in this position paper are very similar to, but apparently were not directly influenced by, ideas developed in the earlier work of Claudia Jones, an black American Communist, whose 1949 essay “An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman!” similarly challenged the male Left’s attempt to exclude personal issues like marriage, social life, and family relationships from political organizing. Although the title of Hanisch’s paper is the original source of the slogan, and the discussion in the paper is an early major source for the analysis that the slogan represented, Hanisch does not take credit for coining the slogan itself; she made clear in later interviews that the title The Personal Is Political was given to the paper by Shulamith Firestone and Anne Koedt, as editors of Notes from the Second Year.