Epilogue to the Revolution

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The “Epilogue” to the General Idea of the Revolution in the 19th Century is one of Proudhon’s most striking statements of Anarchism and the ideal of Revolution, including the famous passage “To be GOVERNED. . .”

“TO BE GOVERNED is to be kept in sight, inspected, spied upon, directed, law-driven, numbered, enrolled, indoctrinated, preached at, controlled, estimated, valued, censured, commanded by creatures who have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue to do so. . . . TO BE GOVERNED is to be at every operation, at every transaction, noted, registered, enrolled, taxed, stamped, measured, numbered, assessed, licensed, authorized, admonished, forbidden, reformed, corrected, punished. It is, under pretext of public utility, and in the name of the general interest, to be placed under contribution, trained, ransomed, exploited, monopolized, extorted, squeezed, mystified, robbed; then, at the slightest resistance, the first word of complaint, to be repressed, fined, despised, harassed, tracked, abused, clubbed, disarmed, choked, imprisoned, judged, condemned, shot, deported, sacrificed, sold, betrayed; and to crown all, mocked, ridiculed, outraged, dishonored. That is government; that is its justice; that is its morality. . . . With the Revolution it is another matter.

“The fundamental, decisive idea of this Revolution, is it not this: NO MORE AUTHORITY, neither in the Church, nor in the State, nor in land, nor in money? No more authority! That means something we have never seen, something we have never understood; the harmony of the interest of one with the interest of all; the identity of the collective sovereignty and individual sovereignty. No more Authority! That means
debts paid, servitude abolished, mortgages lifted, rents reimbursed; free credit, equal exchange, free association: no more antagonism, no more war, no more centralization, no more governments, no more priests. Free contract in place of arbitrary law; voluntary transactions in place of the control of the State; equilibrium of forces instead of equilibrium of powers; economic unity in place of political centralization. Is not this what I may venture to call a complete reversal, a turn-over, a Revolution?”

June 2012

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