Archive for the ‘Anarchist Encyclopedia’ Category


December 9, 2012

Hermann Paul2 from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

One who cannot be satisfied, sated. “There are two hungers that are never sated: that for knowledge and that for riches.” (Oriental saying)

The Insatiable, in the literal sense of the word, the “great eater”, no longer seems to enjoy the high regard he once had. History tells us, in fact, that the great festivities, even among the most “cultivated” of the monarchs, were never held without gargantuan meals and their majesties themselves took naïve pride in the huge quantities of food that they wolfed down while under the tables the few lucky hungry waited for a bone. The race of gluttons is certainly far from being extinct, but at least it has lost a great deal of its prestige.

The fashion now is for those insatiable for glory and riches. Let’s skip the butchers—they are judged and history proves that they are replete with glory only after their massacres, when they hypocritical say something like “I loved war too much…” and posterity will be indulgent and just wipe the slate clean.

As for the financiers, we know that it is their insatiability that cost us a war yesterday, that costs us a war today and that will cost us a war tomorrow. But what can we do? Who is powerful enough to rein in their appetites? “They people,” you might say, “if…”
Certainly if… but let’s not deal with assumptions. Right now the financiers rule everywhere, in the political parties just like in the temples of all faiths.

The real needs of a man are, however, minimal and the riches accumulated by the maniacs of gold are totally out of proportion. Fortune is desirable only in so far as it satisfies our needs; it is only a means of exchange… but the sages have cried out in vain for centuries that happiness lies not in things but in pleasure: turning their back on the goal, our insatiable pot-bellies frantically pursue the means! Poor people, basically, but… poor us!



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.



November 26, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Caiman (from Caribbean acayouman)
The caiman is a species of crocodile with a long snout from the rivers of America and China. Figuratively, we call someone a caiman who is greedy and without scruples and stops at nothing to exploit his fellowmen in the most disgraceful way. Thus, a caiman is the boss who makes his employees work 10 or 12 hours a day at famine wages in order to increase his fortune. The working class today is the unfortunate victim of countless caimans of this kind who grow fat on the blood and sweat of the workers. No pity is to be expected from these monsters. Just as with the caimans in exotic countries, only force can overcome human caimans (really only human in form since all noble sentiments of humanity are unknown to them). That’s why the anarchists just shrug their shoulders when reformists talk about reaching agreements with their executioners. You can’t negotiate with wild beasts!


November 23, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Slaughter: Literally: the place where they cut up meat. Figuratively: a massacre. Example: the “Great War of Rights” of 1914-1918 was a horrific slaughter. The sparkling, shining officers have always led their wretched victims into useless bloodbaths. Sometimes under one pretext, sometimes under another, the rulers, to satisfy their ambitions and their hatred, have unleashed international slaughters. In the past, they gave no reason to those they send to their deaths. Today, being more prudent, they try to camouflage their infamy with high-flown speeches: “The slaughter that they started will be the last. It will save humanity. It will save people’s rights, etc. etc.” and the wretched victims believe them and march straight into the slaughterhouse. But day by day, the people are starting to wake up. Men are beginning to wonder why they have to get themselves killed by the millions and why they have to kill those poor guys who never did anything to them. Day by day there are more and more rebels who refuse this bloody comedy. Eyes are opening. And the anarchists won’t be the last to arouse this healthy vision of coming generations. Let’s hope that the slaughters will soon be extinct, for lack of victims. If the rulers figure that they are still necessary, let them fight among themselves and leave the others in peace. If they kill each other, all the better for the people. But let’s not be fool ourselves. Though the rulers love to send their subjects to slaughter, they have never loved to send themselves. The day the soldiers rebel, the enemy leaders will run away together like flushed out thieves.


November 19, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Avatar: (n.m. sanscrit avatâra) Avatar is the name given in India to the incarnations of a god, particularly of Vishnu. By analogy the word avatar has come to designate a transformation, a metamorphosis. Ex: the avatars of a politician.
Like apostasy, the avatar is a very popular in politics—what politician doesn’t have an avatar? In general, it is enough just to call upon them—a promotion or a cushy job somewhere. Those are the things that politicians care about—in fact, that will usually get them moving.
Anarchists don’t recognize avatars in politics and they know how to castigate them when the time comes.


November 18, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Automaton: An engineered machine that, by means of springs, imitates the movements of a living body. By extension we call automatons people who cannot think or act by themselves. Example: many citizens are simple automatons who obey the suggestions and orders coming from on high; they vote, they work and they cheer on those who rob them. The dream of those in charge is to rule over a nation of automatons. That is why governments ruthlessly hunt down whoever tries to open the eyes of the masses and transform these automatons into conscious individuals—exactly what the anarchists try to do. The future society will be a society of men and not a society of automatons.


November 13, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

The disgust you feel at the approach of certain beings. Something that tells you “Get away.” Some handshakes, some looks are extremely unpleasant. We experience a justified repulsion for journalists who are more or less compromised, for filthy, envious colleagues, for selfish, ambitious comrades, for the young old men. And the middle-class louts are repulsive, the bourgeois, the pedantic, the prigs, the false artists, the turncoats, the pontiffs, and don’t forget the censors and police—everyone who represents regression, retreat and a reaction—everyone contrary or “our” dreams, “our” ideals, “our” aspirations—everyone who is not “ours.”


August 17, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Anastasie: Nickname given to censorship, which caricaturists usually draw as an old hag with a long nose on which glasses are perched. In her hand are huge scissors that she uses to cut out without mercy whatever is not acceptable to the rules and regulations. Symbol of ridicule and decrepitude.


August 13, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Agitator: An agitator is one who, in word or writing, wakes up the popular masses, denounces the iniquities that they are victims of and teaches them conscious revolt. A real agitator must often be like an apostle. He cannot fear poverty or persecution. He has to be ready to be humiliated and bullied at every turn. He cannot be afraid to risk his freedom and life in the service of the oppressed. That is where we see it is a harsh mission. The agitator should know how to spread the good word in the cities and the country, in the workshops and the fields, everywhere where the labor class is struggling. Amidst the anonymous mass of workers, he has to arouse in some of them the desire for freedom and in others stir up their fighting spirit. He has to spend his energy in awakening and developing new consciences. He has to suffer the righteous indignation of the humble and constantly defend the rights of the worker. The action of a true agitator can, in certain situations, be far-reaching because his role does not stop at publicly denouncing the iniquities of the Government, of the Justice System or of the Church, which, openly and hypocritically, are always accomplices of the Powerful Rich and the servants of the Political Masters. When the turmoil, which he has inflamed with his furious outrage, takes a more serious turn, when it breaks out in the form of a strike, a public demonstration, a riot or insurrection, it is his duty to make a personal effort, to set the example, to spur on the faltering energies, to drag the hesitant into the fight, to lift up the weakening courage and be one among the brave even in the heart of the battle.

The agitator who, when the time comes to put into practice his advice to his comrades and brothers in misery, shirks his responsibility, avoids risks and flees from danger disqualifies himself and dishonors himself forever.

Such is the task that revolutionary agitators must take on. Whoever does not feel strong enough to go all the way should not think about becoming an agitator.

There are a large number of anarchists who are powerful agitators; many have had a great influence on the people. A brave heart allied with a cool head, swift in making decisions and a keen eye that quickly recognizes the action that the events and the state of mind of the masses demand are the essential qualities of the agitator during a revolutionary period of action.

The working class has no better friends or more ardent defenders than the anarchist agitators.

—Georges Vidal

Action of Art

August 7, 2011

from Sébastien Faure, The Anarchist Encyclopedia, 1934.

Action of Art: Selfless and living action, resulting not only in the creation of works of art as such, but in the manifestation of beauty in every act of life for the independence of the individual in every walk of life; action of protest and revolt—useful, not utilitarian, human, not humanitarian. Every sincere action is an action of art (Opp.: political action, military action, religious action, etc.—forms of inaction).

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