E. Armand (Lucien-Ernest Juin) (1872-1962)

E. Armand is one of those figures who may at first seem quite marginal, a sort of European alternative to figures like Benjamin R. Tucker, but who appears and reappears, often in the most unlikely times and places, when you begin to dig into the international literature of anarchism. Producing a bibliography of his works would be an enormous task although probably also a very useful one. For the time being, however, the goal here is much more modest: as I find Armand inserting himself into more and more of the stories I am trying to tell about anarchist history, I want to at least identify the sources I have consulted, the archives I have explored, the particular research threads that I have tugged on, etc. Some of this will obviously aid projects like my translation of the Initiation and a reader on anarchist synthesis (and related projects) that is in the early stages of organization. I also expect Armand to feature fairly prominently in the third and fourth part of Our Lost Continent.

Related posts:

PERIODICALS EDITED BY E. ARMAND:

 

E. Armand (Lucien-Ernest Juin) (1872-1962)


E. ARMAND — BIBLIOGRAPHY:


WORKING TRANSLATIONS:

TEXTS ONLINE:

MISC. WRITINGS:

  • E. Armand, “The Gulf,” The Conservator 21 no. 9 (November, 1910): 134.
  • E. Armand, “The Great Debacle,” Mother Earth 10, no. 1 (March 1915): 431-434. [Below]
  • E. Armand, “Letter from Orleans, France,” Mother Earth 9, no. 11 (January 1915): 349. [Below]
  • E. Armand, “What We Have Been, We Still Remain,” Mother Earth 10, no. 7 (September 1915): 229-232. [Below]
  • E. Armand, “To-morrow and To-day,” Freedom 38 no. 417 (May, 1924): 27.
  • E. Armand, “Revolutionary Opposites,” Freedom 41 no. 445 (September-October, 1927): 41.
  • E. Armand, “The Critical Activity of Individualists

 


MISC. WRITINGS:

THE GREAT DEBACLE

By E. Armand

I AM asked to write an article for Mother Earth for its tenth anniversary. I do it gladly, for since it first appeared I have followed its career with a lively interest. I do not write this as a compliment, such as one makes a person one wishes to please. The proof of my interest in Mother Earth is shown by the articles and extracts I have translated and published from it. I have before me, at this moment, a collection of the most recent numbers of the French publications which I have been editing the past fifteen years. I need only glance through them to find these articles. Here, taken at hazard, are “The Tragedy of Woman’s Emancipation,” by Emma Goldman; “The Dominant Idea,” by Voltarine de Cleyre—two remarkable essays; “Tendencies of Modern Literature,” by Zuckerman; “The Story of Annie,” by Elizabeth Boole; a study of “Moses Harmon,” by James F. Morton; another on “Manuel Pardinas,” by Pedro Esteve. Then again I find a “Proclamation,” by W. Curtis Swabey, and a poem, “The Revolt of the Ragged,” by Adolf Wolff. I pass by, I need hardly mention, numerous quotations, etc., I have made. I believe this is eloquent testimony to my interest in Mother Earth.

I confess that I would like to write at greater length, and put more of joy into this contribution. I know the struggles and difficulties and opposition that a publication like Mother Earth encounters. To have resisted and existed so long in a country like the United States is a victory to be acclaimed by songs of triumph. But my mind is too preoccupied and my heart too torn to express the joy this anniversary calls forth. One subject only haunts me and torments me: the unquestionable bankruptcy of the movement of advanced ideas in our old Europe.

I do not belong either to the Socialists, or the Anarchist Communists, and their attitude did not surprise me very much. I have already seen too many turncoats and apostates. And the Individualists are not exempt. Still I confess that my imagination did not come up to the reality.

I ask myself if I am not dreaming when I see this Revolutionist abandoning the class struggle for the time being to assist in the national defense; and that Anarchist, as a diplomat emissary to neutral States, to put before them a scheme that will precipitate a gigantic conflict between millions of men. On the billboard opposite is an official poster, on which appears the names of high ecclesiastical dignitaries, the most reactionary men in the public eye, fused with the most ardent of the Socialist Deputies and the most popular leaders of Syndicalism. One need only read the letter of resignation of Pierre Monatte, of the Council of the Confederation du Travail to see whether I exaggerate.

I must say that the attitude of the intellectuals is not more encouraging. Among literary men, until now known as anti-nationalists; among scholars, renowned for their pacificism, one can count on one’s fingers those who have protested against the war-fury let loose on Europe by the sinister International of War. Nearly all of them—the religious and the free thinkers, atheists and monks, those who incline toward the pen, and those who depend on speech—nearly all have joined the fighters. What a collapse!

I know well enough that revolutionists in neutral countries are writing and proclaiming the ideas of the old International of the workers, protesting against this stand of which I write, and are dreaming of revolution after the war. First of all, one may say, that it is not a great virtue to write like this in a neutral country, where one is quite sheltered, and one might ask what the attitude of the protestants would be if their country were drawn into the conflict. It is quite evident that those who favor the idea of insurrection ignore completely the state of mind of our opponents. One must be blind not to perceive that such a movement would have no chance of success. There exists a repression, worse perhaps, than that which crushed the Commune of 1871. It gives the governments an easy opportunity to impose silence—without a chance to reply—to the rare spirits who may have resisted in the first general disorder. It is on this handful of men that the mass of those who may escape from shot and sharpnel, excited by the paid press, will perhaps avenge themselves at the end of the war, for having been kept so long from home.

As it was impossible to prevent the massacre, and as it is impossible to stem it, much as we would, I believe that we ought to ask if we have not been deceiving ourselves until now about the value of our propaganda, as well as the way we have gone about it.

And here I wish, in all sincerity, to give the results of my experiences and my reflections.

I believe that the anti-authoritarian propaganda is at present incapable of touching and profoundly rousing a great number of men. I think that a movement of the masses has no chance to make itself felt without being strongly organized, disciplined like the military. I think that, generally speaking, human beings can not get along with authority. I think, too, that without a strongly centralized organization, it will be impossible to alter our economic conditions.

I am absolutely convinced that only a small minority, a very small minority, among men, are seriously reached and profoundly moved by our propaganda of criticism, of doubt, of rebellion, of free investigation, of independent research.

On the other hand, it is clear that our first interest lies always in seeking to increase this minority; to keep it, under all circumstances alive, active, refreshed. Our own happiness depends on it.

But we will not be able to keep alive a vigorous spirit of revolt in this small minority, if we give our propaganda a purely negative tendency, a tendency frankly destructive. Too often we do not stop to inquire where their preconceived ideas have disappeared when we give them a social morality of “a future society,” a mature economic system—all of which is more than remote. Too often we have wished “to reconstruct their minds, without waiting to see whether “the destruction” was complete. It is our greatest fault.

Many of those with whom we come in contact believe in extra-natural ideas, in abstract aspirations, in far off results, in joys, not based on the senses, many, who would not wish to make a clean sweep of notions of “rights” and “duties” against the State and Society in all its domains (social, moral, intellectual, economic, etc). One must expect that the first crisis will leave them bewildered and ready to give up.

The free man says to himself: “No duty binds me to my fellowman or to my world that oppresses and exploits me, or maintains or contributes to that which oppresses and exploits me. Nothing more will I give to the man or the world that I despise. I do not give him or them any right to my person, my life or my production. Neither do I recognize that I have any right over the person, the life or the production of another. I reject all imposed solidarity, all forced fraternity, all coerced equality. I do not accept any association, except that which I freely choose and freely consent to, and reserve the right to break it off whenever I feel it may injure me.” On the above must rest the existence of all enemies of authority. It is the raison d’etre of their existence. It would be on this basis that theory and practice would really be efficacious, and this is how we must carry our anti-authoritarian propaganda to those who are interested.

Life is never a conserved phenomenon. It comprises, on the contrary, many phenomena essentially destructive. It is negation itself of fixity, it is a continuous selection, an incessant wear and tear. Everything annihilates and consumes itself. That is why a rebellion accomplished by individuals, without much idea of social reconstruction, comes much nearer being a vital action, it seems to me, than a revolution made by allied conspirators, of an organization with a well defined theory of communal happiness. The latter is altogether conservative; a governmental conception that must impose itself even on those who have no desire for communal happiness. This conception has nothing anti-authoritarian in it.

I am convinced that that only logical attitude that the enemy of authority and exploitation can adopt—practiced by one like the other—is an attitude of resistance, of objection and of opposition to all that threatens him—environment, institutions, individuals—that limit his development, and crush his personality. I think it is because the communist, revolutionist, or individualist propaganda neglected to insist on this essential attitude that we are the witnesses of the great debacle which is saddening all of us.

  • E. Armand, “The Great Debacle,” Mother Earth 10, no. 1 (March 1915): 431-434.

Orleans, France, November 8th.

Dear Comrade:

I read in The Spur your few lines to Guy Aldred. A large number of our comrades, especially the Individualist Anarchists, have withstood the jingo contagion.

Others have enlisted as volunteers, it is true, but they are a small minority. On the other hand, I am literally terrified by the ideas revealed by the communists and the syndicalists.

As an Individualist Anarchist, I am against war, ever and forever. First of all, because, in a country at war, what few liberties an individual possessed are taken from him. Everything under the arbitary control of the military administration; every plan of meeting, all literature, every newspaper, must pass the military censor. You no longer belong to yourself, neither your person nor your property. Not only this, but Nationalism and Clericalism develop into frightful proportions. Under the pretext of “unity,” the advanced parties give up hard won liberties to the reactionaries, who always profit from times such as these. The military caste, and the clerical caste are the masters of the day. How much of our propaganda can we restore the moment war is over is what I ask? And what will the reactionaries not dare to do against us?

I know well enough that the problem is complex. The victory of “Kaiserism” will not profit our propaganda. But neither do I believe that French jingoism, English imperialism and Tzarism will be favorable for the spread of our ideas. It seems to me that, though I am not a Communist, Kropotkin, Malato, Cornelissen and others could have shown another point of view.

We live in sad days and the future does not appear very clear to me.

I have read with pleasure “The Social Significance of the Modern Drama.” You know that “Chanticler” made rather (from a literary standpoint) an unfavorable impression on us.

Sincerely,

E. Armand.

  • E. Armand, “Letter from Orleans, France,” Mother Earth 9, no. 11 (January 1915): 349.

WHAT WE HAVE BEEN, WE STILL REMAIN

By E. Armand

IT is not from a vague humanitarian sensibility, nor from a hazy and mystic pity that we are proclaiming our horror of war. We know very well that life is a continual selection, in which only the most able and gifted triumph.

What causes our hatred for war, i. e., for the state of war and all that follows in its train, is that while it reigns self-assertion and individual determinism are more than ordinarily restrained, constrained, repressed, not to say reduced to naught. It substitutes in place of the individual struggle for existence and happiness a collective struggle profitable to a small number of the governing and the large exploiters of all countries. It places the individual in a humiliating position of subordination and dependence in face of the administrative and military authorities.

The non-combatant is deprived of the ability to express and expand his thoughts, if not also of free movement. His product is at the mercy of the first requisition. On the field of carnage, a prey of the atmosphere of brutishness and savagery, he is but an inanimate object, like a piece of baggage, at the disposal of others, who in their turn obey orders that they dare not discuss.

This was our standpoint before the actual events; such it still remains. We did not have to renounce our opinions, for they are confirmed. The most convincing proof that we had not erred is seen in the attitudes of the Collectivists, Syndicalists, Communists called Anarchists and others who suddenly turned into ardent defenders of civilizations and politics based upon maintaining mankind in subjection and ignorance; we have observed “adjustments of aim” which the tragic circumstances alone prevent us from qualifying as buffooneries. This sort of socialist recognized the necessity of temporarily abandoning the “class-struggle” to participate in the “national defense.” This ilk of Anarchist proposes to change neutral diplomats to terminate the gigantic struggle. The strangest medley of names are to be found in conjunction, the highest dignitaries of the church, the most accredited representatives of the conservative bourgeoisie, the flamboyant “fifteen thousand” Socialists and the Syndicalist divinities!

If they could not or would not oppose or halt the massacre it behooved Socialists of all persuasions, with the feeling of elementary shame, to hold their peace. The interval of silence would have furnished an occasion to meditate on the frailty of dogmas. The attitude of the “intellectuals” is no less disgusting. Anti-nationalists and pacificists, religionists and free-thinkers, atheists and monists, all, or nearly all, have kept pace with the government. Such a downfall!

If, comrades, we break the silence imposed by circumstances beyond our control it is not merely to deliver into space hollow recriminations. It is above all and essentially to put you on guard against incitations emanating from persons boasting of conceptions of the old International, urging to insurrection or revolution after the war those of you who shall have survived the butchery.

Note, in the first place, that these doctrinaires write safely esconced in neutral countries where at this moment it is the interest of the governments to see a flourishing pacificist and anti-militarist propaganda. In the second place, what passes under our eyes obliges us to inquire what would have been the attitude of these theoreticians if the States in which they reside had been engulfed in the conflagration?

In reality, as before the war, we remain the resolute adversaries of revolutionary or insurrectionary attempts.

One must be blind not to perceive that a movement of this kind has no chance of success; it would result in a repression probably worse than that following the Commune of 1871; it would give the authorities an occasion to silence permanently those rare spirits who have known how to resist the general disorder. It is this handful of men that will be attacked by the mass escaped from bullets and shrapnel, urged on by the masters, exploiters and servile press, avenging their long absence from their firesides. Moreover, only one gesture can interest us— that which recoils directly and personally upon the guilty ones.

Doubtless, the war, no matter who triumphs, will produce numerous causes of discontent. They are already fermenting. These germs of dissatisfaction our propaganda ought to utilize.

But before passing this question it would be well to glance at the past. We must recognize that but too often we neglected to erase preconceived notions from the minds of those whom we wished to accept “future societies” or economic systems to come. Too often we had wanted to reconstruct ideas in brains before the complete demolition of the old. We have not criticized vehemently enough the enrollment in leagues, unions, syndicates and other bodies where individual autonomy and initiative are sacrificed to the common weal. Some of us have listened complacently to hypocritical justifications of “social constraints” or “solidarities” which are not disputed because their end is alleged to be the general or collective interest! The awakening was rude.

Even without decided advantage on either side, the simultaneous exhaustion of military and financial resources of the belligerents, the intervention of large capitalists, existing pressure upon the head of some neutral State, the inquietude of politicians fearing the electoral effect upon their parties, will hasten the end of the conflict.

The war concluded, it will be necessary for us to resume with vim and zeal the education of the individual. More than formerly and with all means at our disposal it devolves upon us to awaken the desire and will to annihilate all notions that enthral men to the State, Society, institutions or men representing them.

In other words, according to the temperaments of those we encounter, making appeal to sentiment or reason, to interest or sensibility we must:

Denounce relentlessly the peril of what places the individual, voluntarily or forcibly, in solidarity with the social ensemble;

Demonstrate irrefutably the negation of super-personal ideals, belief in the invisible, abstract aspirations, happiness not subject to the senses;

Destroy radically belief in chiefs and leaders, parliaments and public unions, newspapers and workers’ federations, exploiters and exploited;

See to it, in a word, without relaxation, that those to whom our propaganda is addressed are turned into irreconcilable enemies, theoretical and practical, of all domination and exploitation of man by man or by his environment.

Comrades, we are not calling you to insurrection or revolution on the “morrow of the war.” We know that no society is superior to the sum of those composing it, and if, by chance, a popular movement were successful, it would only effect a change of rulers. It is for a more profound task that you are to prepare henceforth, to sap and undermine all vestiges of respect for Society, State, rules, and rulers. We are so few in number that we can- not afford to have even a single one misled by the dialectics of the fossils of the International. Let us recollect that distrust and suspicion is on the increase for all those who wish to govern, direct, lead or conduct; that people are more and more inclined to think for themselves, to identify themselves with their own interest only, to lend a deaf ear to all except what is conducive of their own development. Moreover, they are opposed to the social usurpation of the individual.

Thus we can realize, for ourselves, the opportunity to live our own lives.

  • E. Armand, “What We Have Been, We Still Remain,” Mother Earth 10, no. 7 (September 1915): 229-232.
About Shawn P. Wilbur 2195 Articles
Independent scholar, translator and archivist.