Art and the People

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(1830 - 1905) ~ Exiled Anarchist Geographer, Environmentalist, and Animal Rights Activist : Reclus was also actively involved in a number of societies during this time, including the Freemasons, the Freethinkers, the International Brotherhood of Michael Bakunin, and a number of anarchist cooperatives. In 1864, Elisée and Elie even helped to co-found the first Rochdale-type cooperative in Paris... (From : Samuel Stephenson Bio.)
• "The possession of power has a maddening influence; parliaments have always wrought unhappiness. In ruling assemblies, in a fatal manner, the will prevails of those below the average, both morally and intellectually." (From : "Why Anarchists Don't Vote," by Élisée Reclus.)
• "Everything that can be said about the suffrage may be summed up in a sentence. To vote is to give up your own power. To elect a master or many, for a long or short time, is to resign one's liberty." (From : "Why Anarchists Don't Vote," by Élisée Reclus.)
• "How can a worker, enrolled by you among the ruling class, be the same as before, since now he can speak in terms of equality with the other oppressors?" (From : "Why Anarchists Don't Vote," by Élisée Reclus.)


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Art and the People

At the closing of the Salon, one of my friends, an amateur connoisseur of beautiful things, came to me quite desolate. He had been ill and had taken a journey away from Paris. Now he returned too late for the Exhibition and so he lamented not having been able to see these multitudes of marbles and paintings which special reviews kept him conversant with.

The dear comrade may reassure himself. A walk upon forest-paths, on fallen leaves, or one moment of repose upon the brink of a pure fountain-if he can find one still fifteen or twenty leagues from the boulevard-will console him for having missed his visit to the habitual museum where there is shut up every year temporarily that which is called the “belles arts”.

Certainly I do not want to decry the fine arts. In my childhood I have always admired the wonders of the fairs, the beautiful rope-dancers, the jugglers around whom whirled plates, the tricksters who broke watches and changed them into bouquets of flowers. At the Salon I continue to admire in all naivete like a very ninny. There also do I see the artist prestidigitators who manipulate and mix colors with an incomparable dexterity, who blend in a thousand ways lights and shadows in a hash which is entirely unexpected and who succeed in making a stunning light spring up from the darkest depths. All this seems to be very fine, or rather surprising, and I applaud the virtuosi of the pencil in all sincerity.

Nevertheless, I am not at all satisfied. Is it this indeed which is true art? Do I find therein the consolation of sorrows, the respites from the weariness of daily life and profound woes which accompany us for all our lives ? Can all these paintings, sculptures, engraved or embroidered objects make me forget the sordid misery outside and the presence of the armed policeman who,-yonder, near the door, or in the room itself, can crash his weapon upon a peaceful citizen and fracture his skull? No, all this multi-colored art that accumulates its incongruous products in rooms lent by the State can only be a false and lying art, for it is not the work of a free people.

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January 10, 2021 ; 5:25:15 PM (America/Los_Angeles) :
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