The Anarchist Encyclopedia — B



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BABEL (tour de) (FR/EN)

BABEL (Tower of). The Tower of Babel was an immense tower that, according to the Bible, the sons of Noah wanted to raise in order to reach the heavens. God then annihilated this mad enterprise by the confusion of tongues. The word Babel or Tower of Babel has entered the language to designate either a gigantic construction, a confused mass of objects, a rash idea or enterprise, or a place where many languages are spoken, etc… ― There have been attempts to identify the Tower of Babel with different ruins, like that of Babil, north of Babylon, or that of Borsippa, to the south of Hillah, but nothing has come to confirm these conjectures. ― As it has come down to us, the legend of the Tower of Babel can be a lesson to us. It shows us that it is necessary, above all else, that the peoples regard one another fraternally. And it is less their different languages that are an obstacle to that, than the shifty diplomacy of their leaders. The peoples must learn to commune in a common ideal, that they strive to understand each other, and that they banish or punish all those who would ignite national discords. This is why an international language would be useful, and serve to suppress many misunderstandings between the peoples. (See Esperanto, Ida, International language.)


BACCHANALIA n. pl. The Bacchanalia, pagan feasts in honor of Bacchus, analogous to the Dionysia of Greece, were mostly practiced in Etruria and Rome. They rapidly became pretexts for debauchery and crimes. Following a monstrous trial, in which more than seven thousand persons were implicated and a large number were condemned to death or to prison (186 B.-C.), the bacchanalia were forbidden by a sénatus-consulte, the text of which has been preserved. ― In the singular and in familiar language, one designates under the name of bacchanalia, a noisy orgy.


FOGEY n. Said, with scorn, of a person whose old age, health or lack of intelligence make them incapable of rendering services. We find old fogies everywhere, in the army, in the administrations, in the arts, etc… No only can the fogies render no service, but they are also destructive through their pretentious inanity, their perpetual lack of understanding, their love of routine, etc… Everywhere that there are fogies, we must not count of seeing progress establish itself, and everywhere that there are fogies, we must not hope to see humanitarian ideas triumph. It is precisely for this reason that the fogies are useful to those in power: they are good tools, without conscience or personality, who obey the most arbitrary order at the drop of a hat.


BAGNE n. m. (from the Italian bagno: bath) Place where convicts were confined, in a port. Place where, today, the condemned still suffer the punishment of forced labor: Guiana, New Caledonia. — Let us note here some principal details from the history of the bagnes. In the 17th century and during the first part of the 18th, one of the criminal punishments was that of the galleys, which consisted of rowing the State galleys. But the progress of the sailing ship marine caused oared vessels to be abandoned, and the galley slaves were detained in certain ports. There were bagnes at Toulon, Brest, Rochefort and Lorient, with the last reserved for soldiers and sailors. The convict was marked with a hot iron on the shoulder, and dressed in a special livery: red smock, dark yellow pants, red or green bonnet, depending on whether they were condemned for a time or in perpetuity. In addition, a shackle or iron ring, with a chain, was placed on their feet. These prisons were eliminated between 1830 (Lorient) and 1873 (Toulon). And the convicts were transported to the colonies. All generous spirits have many time risen up against the infamy of the bagnes. In the older form, they have been described and denounced by Victor Hugo in pages that will endure. In the new, they have outraged all those who have witnessed the atrocities that unfolded there. There is, in fact, no torture that the guards have not invented in order to exercise their sadistic cruelty on the wretches abandoned to their brutish natures. The most shameful injustice has been given free rein in the penal colonies.

In resounding press campaigns, two journalists — Jacques Dhur, before the global slaughter of 1914–1918, then Albert Londres — have striven to stir public opinion. In the face of that attitude, the government has had to yield, and it has done away with the penal colonies. From now on, the convicts will serve their sentences in France, in the maisons centrales. Certainly, in that way, they will no longer be given over to the horrible whims of the guards, and that is already a result. But it is far from sufficient and the anarchists will only have a respite when the doors of the prisons — of all the prisons — are opened wide.

BAGUETTE (magique)


GAG n. Wad or other object that is put in someone’s mouth, in order to prevent them from crying out. The word gag is also used figuratively, to designate the reasons that have imposed silence on someone. Example: The politicians threaten the powers of the day with the hope that they will have a golden gag put on their mouth. There exist as many moral gags as material gags. The fear of finding themselves without work is, for the worker ready to rebel, a gag: in order not to plunge their families into poverty, they hold their tongues. And there are many of these gags that the bosses and rulers use and abuse patrons: notably prison, which is tasked with stifling the cries of the rebels, if the threat of it has not been enough to impose silence on them. The anarchists have had the courage to scorn all the gags and have not been afraid to pay with their liberty or their lives, an unswerving outspokenness. On them, golden gag has no more hold then the gag of iron. It is for this reason that the governments, whatever their character, from the monarchist governments to the Bolshevik governments, have tried, by every means, to rid themselves of the tenacious adversaries that the anarchist have been.


BALLOTTAGE n. Negative result obtained in an election where none of the candidates has gathered the absolute majority: second round of voting. ― Legislative elections produce a second ballot-count if the number of voter is less than half of those registered or if no list obtains the electoral quota. The second round of voting takes place fifteen days after the first round of voting; if no list reaches the quota, the seats are assigned to the candidates who obtained the most votes. ― In the departmental and municipal elections, there is a second ballot when in the first round of voting, none of the candidates gather the absolute majority of the votes cast and the number of votes cast is equal to one quarter of the number of registered voters.
The second counting of ballots takes place on the Sunday following that of the first round of voting. In the second round, the election goes to the relative majority and, in the case of equal numbers of votes among several candidates, it is granted to the eldest.

The anarchists take no part in this sterile struggle of the ballot-boxes, unless it is to give the reasons for their abstention and invite the voters to abstain. (See Abstentionism.)


BAN n. In past times, we designated by the name of ban, an order made known or proclaimed in public, or the l’ensemble des vassaux immédiats du roi ou bien la convocation de ces vassaux. Today, the word ban still has several senses: 1) proclamations, publications. Example: banns of marriage, a promise of marriage made in church over three consecutive Sundays, which must not be confused with the publications imposed by civil law; 2) judgement that forbids or assigns certain residences to one condemned after their liberation. Example: to break his ban; 3) a drum roll and sounding of the bugle or trumpet preceding or following a proclamation to the troops. Example: to open, to close the ban; 4) rhythmic applause of a particular sort. Example: We performed a ban for the speaker. The practice of applause in the form of a ban is very common.




BANISHMENT n. Banishment is a punishment that consists of forbidding a national to remain in their own country. Banishment cannot last for less than five year or more than ten years. It carries with it “civic degradation.” The bourgeois laws punish with banishment: the “crimes” against the homeland; the attacks of ministers against individual liberty; the coalitions of civil servants to resist the execution of the law; the “crimes” committed by those who, condemned to an “afflictive and dishonoring” punishment, have committed a second “crime” bearing civic degradation as its principal punishment. Banishment carries a prohibition against reentering the territory (the contravention of that prohibition is called breach or breaking of the ban), then an interdiction on residence in the places designated by the government for a time equal to the duration of the punishment suffered, unless things have been arranged otherwise during the judgement or the sentencing. The law of June 22, 1886 banished the heads of families having reigned in France, as well as their direct heirs in the order of primogeniture, authorizes the government to expel, by decree in council of the ministers, the other members of the same families and forbids them the exercise of civil and military employment as well as elective mandates.


















BERGER (mauvais)







BIBLE (La valeur historique de la).














































About Shawn P. Wilbur 2702 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.