Emile Digeon, Rights and Duties in Rational Anarchy (1882)

Let’s be honest. I initially took a look at Emile Digeon’s Rights and Duties in Rational Anarchy because of its weird title. But it turns out that he was a fascinating individual, who played a key role in one of the other communes that rose with the Paris Commune. So I’ve already translated a couple of minor texts, and now I can add his most famous work to the file. There remains one major pamphlet to translate, Revolutionary Remarks, and then I’ll probably bind an edition of “Selected Works.”

Rights and Duties displays an interesting mix of tendencies. Digeon wants to carve out a space for anarchism free from the machinations of the governmentalists, but also from those who believe that anarchy involves no rules. His model is a sort of radical, direct democracy, complete with statute laws and elected representatives, subject to constant revision and recall, with a right of insurrection always present, if the representatives should get too cozy. It’s not the sort of thing generally proposed by the major anarchist thinkers or schools, but that’s really why it’s worth looking at.

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