Bibliography of Anarchy — I — Precursors of Anarchy

CHAPTER I

Precursors of Anarchy.

The anarchist literature has no determined origin, not being the expression of a system invented and progressively elaborated, but the very of systems. It is born of the need to demolish arbitrary power in all its forms, the rules and duties imposed by prejudices or by force, and to give rise to the free development of humanity. Therefore every act that was accomplised and every word that was spoken in hatred of that constraint and in favor of that liberty are conscious or unconscious works of anarchy.

Not having made detailed studies in the ancient literatures, my labor will necessarily be incomplete. Moreover, it is not my intention here to give a list of all the works of libertarian tendencies which, most often, only touch upon the question without seeking its deep roots, but to rediscover the traces of some thinkers who have glimpsed a state of society beyond laws and government, something bolder, in a time when superstition and authority allows to be discussed, only the act of imagining a society, communist perhaps, but still authoritarian as we see so often emerge.

Without going back to the fabulous, evocative tales of the legends, like those of Prometheus, Cain and so many others, History, from its origins, always shows us here and there, and often from all sides at one, some deniers of the principle of authority. In the Middle Ages, we see it attached, in Germany and in all of western Europe, by some heretical sects, formulating with regard to religion their social aspirations, and of which we will only mention the Association of the Brothers and Sisters of the Free Spirit. François Rabelais enumerated the precepts of the Abbey of Thélème, which the practitioners of anarchy could still claim. In the Mondo Savio (V. Mondi celesti, terrestri ed infernali degli Academici Pellegnni…. Vinegia, 1562, irr-8″, pp. 172-184), A. F. Doni presents a theory that would not deny libertarian communism. The peasants of the Bétique (chap. VII of Télémaque) live in communitarian society along with the indigenous people of the Southern Land [Terre australe], in the customs of which the Aventures de Jacques Sadeur…. (1676) have initiated us. Without entering into more details, the descriptions of the golden age in every country and in all the literatures described essentially libertarian customs, but that golden age, relegated to a past so remote that even the memory of it is erased, how few have understood that it is in the future and that it depends on us to realize it; how many invoked Liberty without seeing anything there but an ideal of perfectible democracy!



Let us cite Etienne de la Boëtie with his work: la Servitude Volontaire ou le Contr’un [Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, aka Slaves to Duty](reprinted from the manuscript of Henry de Mesmes by D. Jouaust, Paris, Librairie des Bibliophiles, 1872, XII-66 pp.; many other editions, one of which had a preface by A. Vermorel).



The French literature of the XVIth century has been studied from our point of view by comrade Körner, recently dead, who has recovered, among other interesting works, the Apophthegmes et Discours notables recueillis de divers auteurs: contre la Tyrannie et les Tyrans, fol. 522-554 of Mémoires de l’Estât de France sous Charles IX, vol. II, 1578, s. 1., 12°, second edition (Simon Goulart).

It would be necessary to scour the works of the English socialists anglais of the era of Cromwell and those, incomparably more numerous, fo the French writers of the 18th century, among them Dom Dèschamps (see Emile Beausdre, Antécédents de l’Hégélianisme.., Paris, 1863, in-8° and B. Malon: Dom Deschamps. Un Bénédictin du XVIIIe siècle, précurseur de l’Hegelianisme, du Transformisme et du Communisme Anarchiste, Revue Socialiste, Sept. 1888, pp. 256-266), but especially Diderot (see, for example, the Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville et Les Eleutheromanes, edition of the Centenaire, Paris, 1884, pp. 87-101, 16°; pp. 5-83: commentaire); cf. I costumi del Popolo di Taiti…, Venezia, 1892, 17 pp. (brochure of propaganda published by Carlo Monticelli); with long extracts in Le Glaneur Anarchiste, 1, 2, in the supplement to La Révolte and in El Productor.


  • Emile Beausdre, Antécédents de l’hégélianisme dans la philosophie française Dom Deschamps: son système et son école [Archive.org]
  • Benoit Malon, “Dom Deschamps. Un Bénédictin du XVIIIe siècle, précurseur de l’Hegelianisme, du Transformisme et du Communisme Anarchiste” [Google Books]
  • Denis Diderot, Supplément au Voyage de Bougainville [Wikisource]
  • Denis Diderot, Les Eleutheromanes [Google Books]

From the literature of the Revolution, I will only cite: Dame Nature àsylvain_marechal la Barre de l’Assemblée Nationale (Mother Nature at the Bar of the National Assembly) by Sylvain Maréchal (1791, 46pp., in-8″), asking the Assembly to declare that Nature imposes neither god nor laws on man. But I must say that not having read this lampoon, I cannot affirm the accuracy of the information. The Adresse of Jacques Roux, presented to the National Convention (1793, in-8°) and the Vœux formés par des Français libres…., by Jean Varlet (1791 ? in-4″) could be claimed by the socialists, but not by the libertarians. The Hébertists have still not been sufficiently studied in this regard (See G. Tridon, les Hébertistes, plainte contre une calomnie de l’Histoire, 48 pp.; lre édit. dans “Candide,” end of 1864; Anacharsis Clootz…, of G. Avenel, 1805). Les Enragés, etc.


  • Sylvain Maréchal, Dame Nature à la Barre de l’Assemblée Nationale [Google Books]
  • Jacques Roux, Manifesto of the Enragés [Marxists.org]
  • Jean Varlet, Voeux formés par des Français libres, ou Pétition manifeste d’une partie du souverain à ses délégués pour être signée sur l’autel de la patrie et présenté [sic] le jour où le peuple se lèvera en masse pour résister à l’oppression avec les seules armes de la raison [Gallica]
  • Gustave Tridon, les Hébertistes, plainte contre une calomnie de histoire [Archive.org]
  • Georges Avenel, Anacharsis Cloots, l’orateur du genre humain [Archive.org]

The German literature of the 18th century, represented by Schiller, Lessing, etc., is crossed by a strong libertarian current. (V. Siurm und Drang, die Räuber [The Robbers], etc.; see also E. Weller: Die Freiheitsbestrebungen der Deutschen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, dargestellt in Zeugnissen ihrer Literatur [German Aspirations to Freedom in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Represented in their Literary Testimonies], Leipzig, 1847, 344 pp. in-8″). Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen by Wilhelm von Humboldt, 1792, is a curious mixture of essentially anarchist ideas and authoritarian prejudices (edition of 1851, Œuvres de W. v. Humboldt, and that of Leipzig 189?, 206 pp., in16°);—French translation: Essai sur les limites de l’Action d’Etat, two editions, 1866 and 1867;—English translation: The Sphere and Duties of Government,…. (London 1854, new edition 1870).


  • Friedrich Schiller, The Robbers [Gutenburg]
  • Emil Weller, Die Freiheitsbestrebungen der Deutschen im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, dargestellt in Zeugnissen ihrer Literatur [Google Books]
  • Wilhelm von Humboldt, Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Grenzen der Wirksamkeit des Staates zu bestimmen [Archive.org]; The Sphere and Duties of Government [Archive.org]

 

About Shawn P. Wilbur 2283 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.