E. Armand, “Revolutionary Opposites” (1927)

Revolutionary Opposites.

The French Revolution institutionalized, successively or simultaneously, the despotism of the majority, the law as an expression of the general will, the Republic one and indivisible, Jacobinism, the Terror, the guillotine as a permanent factor, the Committee of Public Safety, the Tenth of August, the September Days, the drownings at Nantes, the machine-gun massacres at Lyons, etc., etc.—things that had not even the attraction of novelty, having all been practiced previously under one form or another. The French Revolution, therefore, led directly to Napoleon the Great and Napoleon the Little, to Lenin, Mussolini and the others. When our one-time crony Mussolini tells us his course of action is a reversal of the spirit and principles that actuated those who directed the French Revolution he lies—for he is not an imbecile. On the contrary, Lenin, Mussolini, their rivals or those who are continuing their policies, are entirely within the spirit and tradition of the French Revolution’s leaders, even when they do not perceive it, or pretend they do not. Their brain has been too long shaped by their revolutionary cult to be able to erase the impression it has received.

What does the Fourth of July actually symbolize? The confiscation of power for the profit of a class, party, or faction, other than the class, party, or faction then in possession of the governing power. To maintain themselves in power the Revolutionists have used all kinds of means—the sovereignty of the people, dictatorship, the quashing of elections unfavorable to them. Sometimes they have got the people to intervene, and sometimes they have resorted to the army; sometimes to those who are only military men on occasion, and sometimes to those with whom militarism is a trade. All the governmental methods employed by revolutionists from 1789 to 1900 have been resorted to by Sovietism and Fascism, in their different incarnations. The French Revolution has evolved within a framework of patriotism, one-side social contract, exclusivism, preponderance of class, imperialism, and the silencing of rebellious minorities. To deny this is to ignore its history.

The French Revolution having plunged Humanity more deeply than ever into the abyss of Authority, what will come out of it? I hope—I say nothing further—it will be the Anarchist Revolution. What is the “Anarchist Revolution”? It is a revolution that does not look to establishing the supremacy, hegemony, or superiority of the law or nation, any more than that of any one doctrine, class, élite, practice, system, or method which shall be one and the same for all human beings. On the contrary, it wishes all human being to understand that liberty can function positively only through emulative competition; that is to say, when all individuals and all associations are able to live in their own way, according to their particular understanding of happiness, whether from the ethical, the economic, or any other point of view.

E. Armand, in L’en Dehors.


E. Armand, “Revolutionary Opposites,” Freedom 41 no. 445 (September-October, 1927): 41.

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Independent scholar, translator and archivist.