Sébastien Faure, “A Work of Immense Utility” (1925)

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A Work of Immense Utility

To gather all the material introduced in Anarchist Thought by the theorists and propagandists of the entire world; to present in a sweeping and luminous synthesis the essential elements of that Thought; to gather the facts through which that Thought is most clearly expressed; to summarize the events that have continued to justify it and to emphasize more and more forcefully its superiority over all the other social doctrines: this is the intended aim of those comrades who have decided to publish, as soon as possible, the Anarchist Encyclopedia.

The important and difficult thing was to show all this in an attractive and simple form, according to a plan methodically plotted and followed, making the research of the reader easy and quick.

That difficulty will be overcome.

1) The doctrinal exposition — theoretical and practical — of Anarchism will be developed in the form of a dictionary. This will include all the words — and they are very numerous, for the word is the clothing of the word that it dresses — that have different meanings from the anarchist and the authoritarian points of view. It will give, for each of these words, some glimpses and explanations that will clearly reveal the irreducible opposition between libertarian and authoritarian thought.

It will also include the words that the comrades commonly use and the exact meaning of which they sometimes misunderstand, making, as a result, a reckless or improper use.

The reader will only need to consult this anarchist dictionary to find, on the most important words, a meticulous, substantial, clear and organized study, accompanied by a designation of the sources from which they can obtain a more copious and more precise documentation.

2) The dictionary will be followed by a History of Anarchist Thought and Action, country by country (in alphabetical order).

The chronicle of the international anarchist movement is a drama of intense emotion and precious lessons. Drawn up by well informed comrades, that chronicle will make known, comrades, the magnificent efforts attempted by comrades everywhere. You could thus follow the progress that they have achieved, know the terrible persecutions to which they have been subject and the marvels of activity that they have accomplished; and the telling of that superb Epic of the Spirit of Revolt rising up, in the most diverse and heroic forms, against Authority and its crimes, will sharpen your own energies and decuple your courage, by the very fact that from this faithful and truthful account, packed with clarifications, facts and statistics, you can obtain the certainty that Anarchy develops around the world, despite persecutions and pitfalls, and provides Humanity the only doctrine that, sooner or later, will make it the mistress of its destinies and liberate it totally, definitively.

3) The third part will be dedicated to the Life and Work of the principal militants that have belonged to the anarchist movement: philosophers, theorists, writers, speakers, artists, agitators and men of action. (Alphabetical order.)

4) Life and Work of those who, without being anarchists, properly speaking, have nonetheless, in the domain of Philosophy, Science, Letters, Arts and Action, contributed to human emancipation through their struggle against mortifying routine, against paralyzing traditions, against the sterilizing methods and forces of their time. (Alphabetical order.)

5) Catalogue of books, pamphlets, newspapers, revues and publications of all sorts, of anarchist or anarchistic propaganda. (Ordered by country and by language.)


This plan, which will be methodically followed and — I ask you to trust me and my collaborators — carefully executed, should suffice to make you understand that the “Anarchist Encyclopedia” will be at once an enduring monument destined to shelter the Mother-Thought of all social emancipation and a work of incomparable interest incalculable utility.

* * *

At the urging of many comrades, I decided, in spite of my age and my insufficiency, to assume the material charge and the moral responsibility of this Encyclopedia of which I have, for a long time, recognized the necessity and considered the importance.

I have solicited and obtained the indispensable assistance of most of the comrades who, anarchists or near-anarchists, are, through their competence, their activity, their aptitudes and their specialization, apt to make the “Anarchist Encyclopediaa work worthy of the superb Ideal that we propose to make known and loved.

The composition of the Anarchist Encyclopedia will bring together more than sixty collaborators, forming a host of extremely brilliant thinkers, theorists and writers, where you will find gathered the best known and best love names from the anarchist milieus.

The Anarchist Encyclopedia will not be a definitive work. For the Anarchist, this is not, cannot be a definitive work: Life continues and anarchist thought does not stop any more than events. But this will be the fundamental work that it will suffice to continuously enrich, strengthen and enhance.

* * *

The first installment of the “Anarchist Encyclopedia” will appear in


It will be in the French language.

Three months later, the Spanish edition will begin.

Three months after that, the Italian edition will appear.

So that, when the first installment of the Spanish edition appears, the French edition will be in the fourth installment; and the appearance of the first installment in Italian will coincide with the publication of the fourth installment in Spanish and the seventh in French.

* * *

Allow me a personal word.

The publication of the Anarchist Encyclopedia will only be completed in 1929. It cannot be and will not be an individual work; it must be the work of all the comrades: of those who collaborate in its composition and those who, through their subscriptions and voluntary gifts, will make possible its publication.

I am conscious of the responsibility that I assume and the commitments I make in accepting the direction of this considerable labor and I trust that my strength will not betray me until I have fully accomplished the task I am imposing on myself.

It is good that the comrades know that I take responsibility without any remuneration. The effort I make will be largely paid by the unmixed joy that I will feel in making myself useful, until my last breath, to the Cause that, for forty years, I have never ceased to serve loyally and passionately.

In expressing myself in this way, I do not give in to a feeling of vanity, nor to an action of ostentation: from the day that I understood the splendor and justice of Anarchism, I have given myself to it entirely. I deserve nothing for it, for it would have been impossible to act in any other way.

If I dare, without foolish pride or false modesty, to say it, it is for this reason that I may be allowed to address to each comrade a fervent appeal in favor of the Anarchist Encyclopedia.

Dear Comrades, hear this appeal and respond.

For the Anarchist Encyclopedia:

Sébastien Faure.

* * *

The Anarchist Encyclopedia will only be sold by subscription.

As of August 10, 1925, the price of the subscription is thus fixed:

For 3 installments

— 6 —

— 12 —

— 18 —

— 24 —

— 38 —

F. 12

F. 24

F. 48

F. 72

F. 96

F. 144

F. 12.75

F. 25.50

F. 51

F. 76.50

F. 102

F. 153

NOTE. — It is absolutely necessary that the Administration of the Anarchist Encyclopedia can settle, by the month of september, the print run for this publication.

It is thus indispensable that the comrades who intend to subscribe forward their subscription to us without delay.

Address correspondence concerning the Composition and Administration to Sébastien Faure, 55, rue Pixérécourt, Paris (XXth). Postal check: Paris 733.91.

Sébastien Faure, “A Work of Immense Utility,” Revue Anarchiste 4 no. 35 (August 10, 1925): 16-18.


About Shawn P. Wilbur 2703 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.