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.