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Joseph Déjacque, "The Revolutionary Question" (conclusion)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

 Here's the concluding section of Déjacque's "The Revolutionary Question," which undoubtedly contains a couple of the most fire-breathing footnotes in the literature:

The Revolutionary Question


Thus, as solution, liberty, equality and fraternity.

Liberty of thought,

Liberty of love,

Liberty of labor,

Liberty of action :

Liberty in everything and for everyone.

Equality of rights, equality of duties: social equality.

Fraternity, that is social character impressed by the simultaneous action of liberty and equality on the page of humanity; vignette which follows from the text; last syllable which concludes the formula according to the spelling out of two others; qualifier of solidarity and unity.

And, as means of operation, as transitional means, direct legislation.

And let no one repeat that the people are too ignorant; that it is to put into their hands an instrument of which they will no know how to make use; that they must wait, and wait for those who have the science to govern them. No, I would respond to these leather-breeches of the revolution, to these Decembraillards of the dictatorship. It is only by working at the forge that one learns to be a blacksmith; it is only by making law that the people will learn to make them well. I know well that the apprentice blacksmith strikes himself more than once on the fingers before knowing to forge well. That teaches him to pay more attention to what he does, and, as they say, “to make the trade enter the fingers.” The people, apprentice legislators, will also sometimes strike themselves by legislating, which will teach them to examine more closely the propositions and better manage their vote. And if, one day, it makes bad laws, the next day, it will be done with them, and put them on the scrap heap, ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Joseph Déjacque on Revolution (from The Revolutionary Question)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

Of the Revolution

Principles :

Liberty, equality, fraternity


Abolition of government in all its forms, monarchic or republican, the supremacy of one alone or of majorities;

But anarchy, individual sovereignty, complete, unlimited, absolute liberty of everyone to do everything which is in the nature of the human being.

Abolition of Religion, whether catholic or Israelite, protestant or any other sort. Abolition of the clergy and the altar, of the priest,–curate or pope, minister or rabbi;–of the Divinity, idol in one or three persons, universal autocracy or oligarchy;

But the human being,–at once creature and creator,–no longer having anything but nature for God, science for priest, and humanity for altar.

Abolition of private property, property in the soil, in buildings, in the workshop, in the shop, property in everything which is an instrument of labor, production or consumption;

But collective property, unified and indivisible, possession in common.

Abolition of the family, the family based on marriage, on paternal and marital authority, on heredity;

But the great human family, the family united and indivisible like property.

The enfranchisement of women, the emancipation of children.

Finally, the abolition authority, privilege, and antagonism;

But liberty, equality, fraternity incarnated in humanity;

But all the consequences of the triple formula, passed from theoretical abstraction into practical reality, into positivism.

That is to say Harmony, that oasis of our dreams, no longer fleeing like a mirage before the caravan of the generations and delivering to each and all, under the shade of fraternity and in universal unity, the sources of happiness, the fruits of liberty: a life of delights, finally, after an agony of more than eighteen centuries in the sandy desert of Civilization!

[From “The Revolutionary Question.” Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Joseph Déjacque, "The Universal Circulus" (revised translation)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

[This remarkable bit of libertarian philosophy by Joseph Déjacque poses all sorts of difficulties for the modern reader, not the least of which is it borrowings from, and reworkings of, the works of Charles Fourier and Pierre Leroux. And there are places where it ha been necessary to translate things rather literally, since terms are used suggestively, according to the established uses of none of the writers or schools that they were drawn from. There are also a couple of times when Déjacque's enthusiasm clearly ran away with the syntax: where catalogs of conditionals come to abrupt stops, without ever quite managing to form a sentence, I feel fairly confident that I have accurately replicated the structural shortcoming of the original. In any event, the difficulties of this experimental piece are, I think, outweighed by all that is intriguing about it—and for the light that it sheds on notions like Proudhon's dialectical play with individualities and collectivities.]

The Universal Circulus 


Joseph Déjacque


The universal circulus is the destruction of every religion, of all arbitrariness, be it elysian or tartarean, heavenly or infernal. The movement in the infinite is infinite progress. This being the case, the world can no longer be a duality, mind and matter, body and soul. It cannot be a mutable thing and an immutable one, which involves contradiction—movement excluding immobility and vice versa—but must be, on the contrary, an infinite unity of always-mutable and always-mobile substance, which implies perfectibility. It is through eternal and infinite movement that the infinite and eternal substance is constantly and universally transformed. It is by a fermentation at all instants; it is by passing through the filtering sieve of successive metamorphoses, by the progressive emancipation of species, from mineral to vegetable, from vegetable to animal and from instinct ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Steven T. Byington, "On Interference with the Environment"

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at From the Libertarian Library:




I WANT to start a discussion which may be of some length, especially if I get replies from those who disagree with me, as I hope I may, and I think it will pay if first I lay down, like Euclid, a few of the axioms and postulates with which I begin.

I observe that men universally hold that certain types of action are to be approved and certain others are to be disapproved. They differ as to what actions should be put in either class: Herodotus noted this in the case of the nation where it was a disgrace to eat one's father, and the other nation where it was a disgrace not to eat one's father. They differ as to what names should be used for the classes: most people say right and wrong or good and bad, but some object most strenuously to these terms and prefer to say high and low, noble and base, fine and sordid, and I know not what. But everybody has some name for some sorts of actions that he thinks well of, and another name for those of which he thinks ill. The question whether it is well to speak of "right" or "wrong" is a very dry dispute about words; but the question whether a given action belongs in the black class or in the white class is a question of intense interest wherever there is a difference of opinion about it. Look at any book that has been written to prove that there is no such thing as moral good or evil, and see with what a relish the author will stigmatise the moralist's attitude by the names of such vices as he recognises ...

Read the whole thing at From the Libertarian Library.

Tucker on "fake" translations

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

Here's a bit of fun from the 1891 volume of The Bookseller and Newsman, where Benjamin R. Tucker got very actively involved in the debate about translations of Emile Zola's "Money." It's classic Tucker.

The American Edition of “Money.”


The editorial notice of The Nile Publishing Company’s edition of “Money,” by Emile Zola, in the March Newsman, was the cause of much comment in trade circles. The following correspondence from the publishers of this book will interest The Newsman readers and throw much light on the matter of translating and publishing foreign works:

The Nile Publishing Company.
Chicago, March 26, 1891.
Editor The Newsman —We are in receipt of your last issue of the Newsman, and note what you say regarding our edition of “Money.” In reply we only say we seriously regret that you should accept such a statement as true from a competing publisher and publish it before at least allowing us to make a true statement concerning our translation.
It is true that we placed “Money” on the market on the 11th of March, but we were not enabled to complete it on that date by “drawing from the scant imagination fund of our translator.” We were enabled to do so by the expenditure of several hundred dollars in having the last fifteen pages cabled to us. We acknowledge that the last few pages were not literally translated, but Zola’s sentiments were expressed.
Do you not know that not one of Zola’s novels that have been published in the United States is complete? Publishers in this country are compelled to expurgate them, for our people will not tolerate his superlative degree of realism. Then why should we be so unjustly treated when we have ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

Feminism in Lyon before 1848 — Eugénie Niboyet

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

This short account of the life of Eugénie Niboyet is the first part of an article that appeared in the Revue d'histoire de Lyon (Vol. 7, 1908, pp. 348-358). The second half of the article focuses on Flora Tristan in Lyon in 1844—which will be at least slightly more familiar subject-matter for most people—but the lesser-known Mme. Niboyet was really one of the most formidable figures of feminism in the 19th century. She was a prolific writer, editor, and translator. She organized around women's issues, pacifism and the abolition of the death penalty. She had close ties to most of the prominent radical feminists of her day, as well as to many other prominent radicals. This biographical account really only scratches the surface with regard her various publications, but does give a nice introduction to her early career.


Maximilien Buffenoir

I. —Feminist Tendencies before 1834. Mme. Niboyet.

When Fourier and, after him, the Saint-Simonians denounced the inequality of the sexes as a denial of justice, they revived a long-interrupted tradition. After Condorcet, the ardent forerunner of feminism, who was concerned with the role of woman? The Revolution, accustomed to find in her an enemy more often than an ally, had neglected to take her part after the assassination of Marat by Charlotte Corday. Napoleon was not the man to make her a part of his plans; she herself seemed disinterested in her own cause. Enfantin and Fourier returned her to the consciousness of her rights. The former showed her a new society, where every function will be fulfilled by a couple; the latter claimed to free her, to revise the law of marriage, to raise the anathema pronounced against love by Christianity. Without accepting all these ideas, some women, already distinctly detached from catholic dogma, ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.

The Manifesto of the Sixteen (1916)

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

[Here is a translation of the controversial "Manifesto of the Sixteen," the document issued by Peter Kropotkin, Jean Grave and others, advocating support for the Allies and opposition to Germany in World War I. I had promised this to members of the Anarchist Task Force on Wikipedia quite awhile back, to go with their article on the Manifesto.]

The Manifesto of the Sixteen

From various sides, voices are raised to demand immediate peace. There has been enough bloodshed, enough destruction, they say, and it is time to finish things, one way or another. More than anyone and for a long time, we and our journals have been against every war of aggression between peoples and against militarism, whatever uniform, imperial or republican, it dons. So we would be delighted to see the conditions of peace discussed—if that was possible—by the European workers, gathered in an international congress. Especially since the German people let itself be deceived in August 1914, and if they had really believed that they mobilized for the defense of their territory, they have since had time to realize that they were wrong to embark on a war of conquest.

Indeed, the German workers, at least in their associations, more or less advanced, must understand now that the plans for the invasion of France, of Belgium, and of Russian had long been prepared and that, if that war did not erupt in 1875, 1886, 1911 or in 1913, it was because international relations did not present themselves then as favorably and because the military preparations were not complete enough to promise victory to Germany. (There were strategic lines to complete, the Kiel canal to expand, the great siege guns to perfect). And now, after twenty months of war and dreadful losses, they should realize that the conquests ...

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

From "L'Opinion des Femmes," August 1848

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

These two short articles by Désirée Gay (Jeanne Desirée Véret Gay, 1810-1891) appeared in the August 1848 issue of L'Opinion des Femmes, which seems to have been a kind of testing of the waters before the launch of the official "First Year" of the paper. That issue had been preceded by a 4-page "Prospectus," written by Jeanne Deroin, and the paper was essentially a continuation of La Politique des Femmes, but there was still a certain amount of work to do setting the tone for the project, and Gay seems to have taken on much of that work in the one issue that appeared in 1848. These two pieces are particularly interesting because they give us a clear sense of how Gay and Deroin understood their relation to the broader radical movement, and to Proudhon, whose increasingly hostile relations with Deroin and other socialist feminists would be documented in the paper.



It is the modern Proteus.—It is the hydra with innumerable heads.—You fall upon the communists!—Socialism rises up behind you in another form.—Socialism is the crucible into which all those touched by misery inevitably fall, one by one.—Socialism, which a few years ago was the meeting of several systems, is today a militant army, peaceful in its spirit, but marching with the blind force of the providential legions, which have at all times led the people towards their new destinies! — Désirée Gay

The Malthusians.

As women and as Christians, we embrace with all our hearts the opinions expressed by M. Proudhon, against the system of Malthus; we have seen, not without pain, over the last few years, Miss Martineau and several intelligent women of England, declare themselves partisans of a doctrine that simple and honest spirits reject as immoral and ...

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

Jeanne Deroin to Proudhon, January 1849

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule:

[Jeanne Deroin. "Lettre a M. Proudhon." L'Opinion des Femmes. No. 1, Year 1. January 28, 1849.]

Letter to Proudhon.


I know that, preoccupied most especially with questions of political economy, you have not accepted all the consequences of the principles on which our social future rests.

You are one of the most formidable adversaries of the principle of equality—a principle which does not allow unjust exclusion and privileges of sex.

I know that you do not wish to recognize the right of women to civil and political equality. This right, which contain in it the abolition of all social inequalities, of all oppressive privileges.

But I also know that this opposition on your part is founded on a respectable motive. You fear that the application of this principle seriously undermines the holy laws of morality.

If it was demonstrated to you that you are in error, I believe, Monsieur, in your honesty, in your sincere love for truth, and I do not doubt that you would use all your influence on the minds of the people, to destroy the direst of prejudices which hinder the march of humanity on the road of progress.

You will yourself be the firmest supporter, the most ardent defender that holy cause—that of all the weak, and all the oppressed.

I appeal to you, Monsieur, to examine more seriously all the aspects of this great question, so important in this epoch of transition where our social regeneration is prepared.

Permit me to present to you some observations on this subject. The superiority of your knowledge and intelligence is one more reason for me to hope that they will be received with kindness.

As a Christian socialist, I would say, like you, Monsieur, rather housewives that courtesans, if I wasn’t certain that ...

Read the whole thing at Two-Gun Mutualism & the Golden Rule.

Paule Mink, "Broken Arm"

Now available thanks to Shawn P. Wilbur at Contr'un:

"Bras cassé" originally appeared in La Revue socialiste in November, 1895.  The author was Paule Mink (sometimes "Minck," 1839–1901), born Adèle Paulina Mekarska, a French radical and feminist whose early political work seems to have been in the mutualist women's organizations that thrived at various times, despite Proudhon's severe and very public flounderings on questions of gender, sexuality and the family. I have a collection of Mink's political writings requested through interlibrary loan, and a couple of things, including a discussion of abortion rights from the 1890s, slated for translation for a future project. In the meantime, here's another lovely, if not cheerful, tale of proletarian woe. As someone who did a lot of work on formula fiction in a past academic life, the mix of romantic and coming-of-age conventions in this strike me as well-selected to tell the story of a strong man in a weak position.



Fruit of the sewer or flower of love, stream-scum or hedge-bud, result of a brutal crossroads passion or of naive tenderness: what was his origin? He did not know...

Picked up in the street, one morning, between a pile of rubbish and some rubble from demolition, abandoned like a small cat someone wants to be rid of, he was carried to the alms-house, and then placed among some farmers who raised him, giving him bread, in exchange, when he got to be a little bigger, for a labor that was very hard for a child, but who never had for him either affection or caresses.

He had a roof, under which he could lie down, and a portion of the soup, but not of the familial affection. Mama!... that word, cuddly and sweet, the first stammering of every little one, he had never murmured except in ...

Read the whole thing at Contr'un.