Archive for November, 2012

Plutocracy

November 22, 2012

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Plutocracy (from the Greek Ploutus, wealth and Kratos, power)

Influence of the rich on the State. Government of the rich. Carthage was a plutocracy (Larousse). In fact, there has never been anything but plutocracies. Every so-called civilized State is the expression of the dominating class and this class is that which possesses the wealth (capital and instruments of production). It was plutocracy in the Middle Ages, in the feudal system, when the lord, the landowner, dictated his law to the peasants. It is plutocracy in modern nations when the capitalist imposes his will on the workers: “Capital is a lord who swallows all gains; and work is a slave that they force to move mountains” (Pecqueur). There is plutocracy everywhere because the concentration of capital ends up putting all accumulated wealth into the hands of a few influential privateers. And yet how many gullible people think they live in a democracy! How many believed in the “night of August 4 [1789]” and the “sovereignty of the people”, in the free “expression of the national will”! “No more privileges. The law is equal for all.” What a sham! But it must be said that people are less and less gullible: the increasing number of financial scandals and more and more frequent application of the adage:
“Depending on how much you have or lack, the court will judge you white or black”
have opened the eyes of the most naïve of our contemporaries. One must suffer the “law of the rich” everywhere. And citing S. Faure in La Douleur Universelle we can quote Necker who said, “All civil institutions have been made by owners.” And Turgot: “The most powerful have made the laws and devastated the weak everywhere.” Lamennais, too, wrote: “What pleased the masters to command they called Law and the laws have been, for the most part, only measures of private interest, means to increase or perpetuate the domination and abuse of the domination of a small minority over the majority” (The Book of the People). Etc. In the same book S. Faure has brilliantly shown show so-called democracy, in reality, ends up in a covert plutocracy. And everyone knows that behind the “sovereign people”, behind the hundreds of puppets who say they represent it, there is the “wall of money”: a handful of magnates from Banking and Industry who are the real masters of the people.
Whether the government be a monarchy or a republic; whether Alfonso XIII [of Spain] be replaced by a democracy; whether a bloc from the so-called “left” be put in power instead bloc from the so-called “right”; whether X be put where Z was… or vice versa; what will have changed for the proletariat? Tomorrow it will have to sacrifice its arms to live just like before and the red or white politicians who step on stage, one after another, are there to fool them with their acrobatics. While over the wretched life of the worker looms the crushing shadow of the safe. And in the wings are the plutocrats, the true kings of the moment, the powerful dictators whose hands hold the lives of millions of human beings.

–C.B.

Arthur Ranc

November 10, 2012

Arthur Ranc, “Anarchy”, in L’Encyclopédie générale, 1871.

D’Alembert, after defining anarchy as “a disorder in the State that has no one with enough authority to command and make the laws respected and consequently the people do as they want, without subordination and without police,” concludes thus: “We can be assured that every government generally tends to either despotism or anarchy.”

At first glance this thought, which seems to place political societies between two equally pitiful alternatives, is basically, on closer examination, just a careless conception of the theory formulated by Proudhon thus: “The first term of the governmental series being Absolutism and the final term, inevitably, is Anarchy.”

Alembert’s apparent error comes from the fact that he conceived Authority as a principle of order whereas in modern societies order can only result from the successive and carefully thought out elimination of Authority. “Anarchy, or the absence of masters and sovereigns,” Proudhon says, “such is the form of government that we are approaching every day and that an inveterate habit of mind makes us see as the height of disorder and the expression of chaos.” Thus Proudhon expresses himself in his first On Property. Later, developing his thought and formulating it with his customary rigor, he affirmed that the goal of the Revolution was the very suppression of Authority, that is of government.

Anarchy, therefore, is understood in two not only different but absolutely contradictory senses. On the one hand it is the absence of government, authority, principle, rule, and consequently it is disorder in thoughts and deeds. On the other hand it is the elimination of authority in its three political, social and religious aspects; it is the dissolution of the government in the natural organism; it is the contract substituted for sovereignty, arbitration for judicial power; it is labor not organized by an outside power but organizing itself; it is religion disappearing as a social function and becoming appropriate to the individual manifestations of free conscience; it is citizens entering freely into contracts not with the government but between themselves; it is, finally, freedom; it is order.
Proudhon said elsewhere, “Freedom that is adequate and identical with order, that is all that is real in power and politics.”
The problem is not to know how we will be better governed, but how we will most free.

We can see now that the theory of d’Alembert was perfectly just. Yes, every government must necessarily end up in despotism or anarchy, either in the common sense of the word or in the philosophical meaning. Between absolutism and freedom there is no possible reconciliation, no middle ground, such is the conclusion we are forced to accept through theory and practice, through philosophy and history. Disorder is an act of rulers; trouble in society, turmoil in the State comes from the unjust resistance that the two-pronged temporal and spiritual power oppose, with the help and support of the privileged, to the legitimate demands of the citizens, of free thinkers and the proletariat.

For the idle, for the exploiters, for the privileged, for the gluttons, every idea of justice is an idea of disorder; every attempt against their privilege is an anarchist act. Just the thought of escaping exploitation is a guilty thought. The idle and the privileged want to enjoy their peace and quiet. The best government is the one that guarantees the most security for their pleasures. Speculators, golden boys, dandies, friends of order, business sharks—this is the cursed race that for almost eighty years has surrendered to despotism, a race of prostitutes that needs pimps. The ideal Paris for them is a city of pleasures, a huge Corinth, with very expensive girls, since they have a lot of money, and an obedient police force. They are the ones who after 9 Thermidor [27 July 1794] whipped the women and clubbed the patriots—ten against one—on the public square. They are the ones who in June after the battle shot the vanquished in the broken streets. They are the true anarchists, if by anarchists you mean creators of disorder. They are the ones who, to satisfy their base passions in peace, to wallow carefree in the orgy of revelers, terrifying the common interests, inflaming the bourgeois with fear, organizing panic and finally dragging with them the unconscious masses and prostrating themselves before the absolute power.

Now, Despotism is powerless even to guarantee the security of common interests. What did we see during the first Empire? A few months of prosperity that we paid dearly for and then the tyranny fell silent, the despotism became cunning; the police were the absolute masters over the lives and freedoms of the citizens; the survivors of the revolutionary ideal were hunted down by an implacable hatred; the ancient regime was reestablished; France was given over to the clergy; the aristocracy reconstructed; patriotic customs destroyed in the army; the republican cohorts sent to [the colony of] Saint Domingue as if to their death; “lettres de cachet” [royal orders] resumed; State prisons filled up; three million men turned into cannon fodder; commerce destroyed; agriculture ruined; the countryside surrendering its last man; and after all this to crown it all off, the invasion!

Yes, if by anarchy we understand disorder pushed to its limits, despotism and anarchy are the same thing because despotism cuts off the best part of human nature, stops social development, sacrifices everything to the material order, creates a conflict of interests and keeps society in a state of latent war.

Is there not, for example, disorder and anarchy in a country where the civil servants are set outside the common law and cannot be brought to trial, where the principle of equality before the law is unrecognized, where the judicial and executive power are mixed up? Is there not anarchy when the legislative power, reduced to a advisory body, does not have the ability to introduce laws and can only amend those that have been drawn up by a council whose members have been nominated by the executive power? When the Constitution can only be modified with the consent of the executive, which alone has the right to appeal to the nation while the nation has no legal or constitutional means to make their will known ex tempore without being asked by the executive? When the principle of executive responsibility has no sanction and when no procedure exists whereby action for damages can be constitutionally introduced?
Is there not anarchy, trouble and disorder when the electoral body is organized so that the urban groups are divided into sections, each of which is arbitrarily united to a larger group of voters in the countryside, when through this system their votes are canceled out and the cities and countryside are violently opposed to each other?

Therefore, absolutism is synonymous with disorder and also synonymous with anarchy in the common sense of the word.
Likewise, freedom and order are two correlative terms that transform into a third more general term, that of anarchy, such as Proudhon defined it, that is in the radical elimination of the principle of authority in all its forms.

Also available at The Anarchist Library

Robert Darvel

November 6, 2012

The Man With The Double Heart by Robert Darvel (translated by Michael Shreve) starring The Nyctalope in Tales of the Shadowmen: La Vie En Noir, Black Coat Press, 2012.

If Edith Piaf liked to sing about la vie en rose, this volume of Tales of the Shadowmen, the first and only international anthology devoted to paying homage to the world’s most fantastic heroes and villains, is dedicated to la vie en noir, the darker side of life.

And what could be darker than the sinister brotherhood of criminals known as the Black Coats and their legendary treasure, a malignant self-aware entity that is the embodiment of greed and avarice?

You will also find gathered here stories about the evil Fantômas and the mysterious Yellow Shadow, the crafty Doctor Cornelius and the megalomaniacal Sun Koh, the ruthless Irma Vep and the frightful Bride of Frankenstein; in these pages, you will read tales of creatures and zombies, and things from otherworldly reals, and likely gasp at the most monstrous couple of parents ever imagined…

Available at Black Coat Press


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