Sébastien Faure: French Freethinker, Secularist, and Proponent of Synthesis Anarchism

January 6, 1858 — July 14, 1942

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In 1927 he led a secession from the national Union Anarchiste, and in 1928 he helped to found the Association des Federalistes Anarchistes and to begin its paper, La Voix Libertaire (Libertarian Voice), which lasted from 1928 until 1939. He was reconciled with the national organization and Le Libertaire in 1934.

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From : "Raven," Freedom Press

"God is error, and I no longer believe in him; God is a lie and hypocrisy, and I combat him; God is religion, and not only does this not console me, but it is an affliction; not only does it not bring humanity tranquility and joy, but it has written the most painful and bloody pages of history, and this is why I fight against religion."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903


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About Sébastien Faure

 Sébastien Faure 1

Sébastien Faure 1

Auguste Louis Sebastien Faure was born in 1858 into a middle-class Catholic family in Saint-Etienne (near Lyon in central France). He was very well educated at Jesuit schools and intended for the priesthood, but after his father's death he went into the insurance business. After military service, he spent a year in England. He married and moved to Bordeaux (in south-western France). He soon lost his faith and became a socialist. He stood unsuccessfully as a candidate of the Parti Ouvrier (the Marxist Workers Party) in the Gironde in the 1885 election, but under the influence of Peter Kropotkin, Elise Reclus and Joseph Tortelier he moved towards anarchism.

In 1888 he broke with the socialists, settled in Paris, and devoted the rest of his life to a career as a full-time propagandist for anarchism. He and his wife separated, though they were reconciled many years later. He became a very active writer and speaker, earning a living from giving lectures all over the country.

He never pretended to be an original thinker, but he was an effective popularizer of other people's ideas. He took a moderate line in the movement, and advocated an eclectic approach which attempted to unite all tendencies. He wasn't convinced by the new syndicalist movement of the late 1890s, but was an active trade unionist himself. He wasn't an individualist, but took individualism seriously. He didn't support violent methods, but sympathized with those who used them. He was by no means a mere armchair theorist, but was frequently searched, arrested or prosecuted and occasionally imprisoned for his activities.

At first he was closely associated with Louise Michel, but he soon became a major figure in his own right, and one of the best-known anarchists in the country. In 1894 he was one of the defendants in the Trial of the Thirty, when the French authorities tried unsuccessfully to suppress the anarchist movement by implicating its leaders in criminal conspiracies, and was acquitted. He was involved in several papers at various times in several parts of France, the most important of which was Le Libertaire (The Libertarian), which he started with Louise Michel in November 1895 and which appeared weekly on and off until June 1914. He was active in the Dreyfusard movement, replacing Le Libertaire with the daily Journal du Peuple during 1899. He also produced Le Quotidien (The Daily) in Lyon during 1901-1902. From 1903 he was active in the birth-control movement. From 1904 to 1917 he ran a libertarian school called La Ruche (The Beehive) at Rambouillet (near Paris).

He was a moderate opponent of the First World War, and issued a manifesto Vers la Paix (Towards Peace) at the end of 1914. He produced a general left-wing weekly Ce qu'il faut dire (What Must Be Said) from April 1916 to December 1917. In 1918 and 1921 he served short prison sentences for sexual offenses involving young girls; this damaged but didn't destroy his career.

After the war he revived Le Libertaire, which continued from 1919 until 1939. In 1921 he led the reaction in the French anarchist movement against the growing Communist dictatorship in the Soviet Union. In January 1922 he began La Revue Anarchiste (Anarchist Review), the leading monthly magazine of the French anarchist movement between the world wars. In the late 1920s he opposed the sectarianism both of the authoritarian Platformists and of their critics, and advocated what he called an `Anarchist Synthesis' in which individualism, libertarian communism and anarcho-syndicalism could co-exist. In 1927 he led a secession from the national Union Anarchiste, and in 1928 he helped to found the Association des Federalistes Anarchistes and to begin its paper, La Voix Libertaire (Libertarian Voice), which lasted from 1928 until 1939. He was reconciled with the national organization and Le Libertaire in 1934. During the 1930s he took part in the peace movement as a prominent member of the International League of Fighters for Peace. In 1940 he took refuge from the war in Royan (near Bordeaux), where he died in 1942.

Apart from innumerable articles and lectures (many of which were printed as pamphlets and some of which were collected as books), several anarchist and atheist pamphlets (a few of which were translated into English), and accounts of La Ruche, his main work was an ambitious trilogy of books La Douleur universelle: Philosophie libertaire (Universal Sorrow: Libertarian Philosophy), an account of the problems caused by authority, which was published in 1895; Medicastres: Philosophie libertaire (Quacks: Libertarian Philosophy), an account of false solutions to the problems caused by authority, which was not published; and Mon communisme: Le bonheur universel (My Communism: Universal Happiness), a fictional account of libertarian revolution, which was published in 1921. In 1923 he published L'Imposture religieuse (Religious Imposture), a full-length attack on religion (of which a revised edition appeared in 1948). In 1926 he began his most ambitious project the preparation of the Encyclopedie Anarchiste, one of the most impressive and valuable libertarian publications ever produced. This appeared from 1927 as a series of separate parts and then in 1932 in a set of massive volumes. The whole work, containing nearly 3,000 large pages, consisted of a general alphabetical reference-book with entries contributed by leading anarchist writers from all over the world. Faure was the editor-in-chief, and also the author of many of the most important articles.

The pamphlet Douze preuves de l'inexistence de Dieu, ("Twelve Proofs of the Non-Existence of God") which was based on a lecture he gave many times, was first published in Paris in 1914. It was frequently reprinted, and also occasionally translated. Just before his death a translation by Aurora Alleva and D. S. Menico was published in the United States as Does God Exist?. The present translation has been made by Nicolas Walter.

As can be seen in the pamphlet, Faure directs his arguments against the God of the theologians, especially the Roman Catholic fathers and doctors of the Church, rather than against the God of the philosophers, and his case was fitted to his audience of French working people a century ago.

Text originally from "The Raven", Freedom Press

From : "The Raven," published by Freedom Press

Works

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This person has authored 13 documents, with 30,427 words or 190,103 characters.

1891
[On May 1, 1891, after a Labor Day demonstration, police attacked protesters in Clichy. A violent battle ensued and gunfire was exchanged. Three anarchists were arrested. Henri Louis Decamps was sentenced to five years in prison, Charles Auguste Dardare to three and Louis Léveillé (who was wounded in the fight) was acquitted. Ravachol would later take revenge for the injustice in March the following year.] * * * * * Members of the Jury, I asked my comrade and friend, Sébastien Faure, to present my defense. Even though the law, by special arrangement, allows the accused to choose his defender, either a relative or friend outside the profession of lawyers, Your Honor has clearly refuse... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1927
This is, we believe, the first English translation of Faure’s article on the “anarchist synthesis”, the response by a certain sector of anarchism to the theories set out in the “Draft Organization Platform for a General Union of Anarchists” published by the “Delo Truda” group in France in 1926. We are unsure as to the exact publiction details of this text (some sources say 1927, others 1928), but this has been translated using the text given in “Volonté Anarchiste”, No. 12, 1980, Edition du Groupe Fresnes-Antony de la Fédération Anarchiste. * * * The three anarchist currents In France, as in most other countries, three main anarchist currents... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
ANARCHY n. (from the Greek: a privative and archè, command, power, authority) Preliminary observation. The object of this Anarchist Encyclopedia being to make known the full range of conceptions—political, economic, philosophical, moral, etc.—that arise from the anarchist idea or lead there, it is in the course of this work and in the very place that each of them must occupy within it, that the multiples theses contained in the exact and complete study of this subject will be explained. So it is only by drawing and joining together, methodically and with continuity, the various parts of this Encyclopedia that it will be possible for the reader to achieve the complete understanding of Anarchy, Anarchism and the Anar... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Deify: verb. Put at the rank of a god. Attribute to an animal or an object a supernatural power. Deification is a sign of ignorance and it is understandable only in the backward ages of humanity, when man had not yet pierced the mysteries of nature and was inclined to deify that which he didn’t understand. It is thus that through ignorance or terror the first men adored the thunder and in order to demonstrate their joy or their recognition they glorified the sun and the stars that brought them light. Afterwards, when humanity had left the darkness into which it had been plunged and when man, through seeking, arrived at determining the causes of certain phenomena, it elevated itself from the deification of objects, of things to ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1908
There are two ways of studying and trying to solve the problem of the inexistence of God. One way is that of eliminating the hypothesis God from the field of plausible and necessary conjectures by a clear precise explanation through the exposition of a positive system of the universe, its origin, its successive evolutions and its final scope. But such an exposition would make the idea of God useless and would destroy beforehand the whole metaphysical edifice upon which it has been placed by spiritual philosophers and theologians. However, taking in consideration the present status of human knowledge and duly confining ourselves to that which is demonstrable and has been demonstrated, verifiable and has been verified, we have to admit t... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
Heresy: (from the Greek hairesis; from hairen to choose.) Doctrine condemned by the Catholic Church As soon as it was in possession of a certain power thanks to its recognition by kings and emperors, the Roman church forgot all of the persecutions suffered by its founders. As soon as it was armed with its redoubtable influence over monarchs and lords, it delivered a pitiless and bloody war against those men who didn’t bow to its commands. The fifteen centuries during which it reigned as the uncontested master in Europe are nothing but a long series of crimes that it perpetrated and committed in the name of religion. There were veritable massacres of entire populations. The most famous are: the massacre of the Albi... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
Iconoclast: Means breaker of images (the name image in antiquity applied to all figures, either painted or sculpted). It particularly designates those persons or sects opposed to the adoration of images and pursuing their destruction. Due to this iconoclasm belongs to the history of those religions which admitted and practiced the cult of images. Around the first quarter of the 8th Century a religious sect was founded which had as its objective the smashing of all the images of saints and the banning of the their cult, This sect of “iconoclasts” was at first approved by the Council of Constantinople in 754. Approving these acts meant making in large part impossible the task of the Roman church, which has a whole ar... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1911
OUR SURVEYS In the first issue, the “Revue Anarchiste” had announced the opening of a survey on the following subject: Is the Anarchist Ideal Achievable? Can man live without authority, at present and in the future? Will the elimination of all coercion ever be anything but the prerogative of minuscule minorities? We called upon individuals having quite different philosophical ideas and political opinions. Today, we reproduce the responses, in the order that they reached us, refraining — as we had agreed — from all commentary, allowing ourselves only to express our thanks to the authors. The Editors. Henri Barbusse. Dear comrades, I very willingly defer to the friendly invitation ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1903
Your heart is filled with pity and sadness by the spectacle of the miseries that overwhelm humanity, by the perplexities and vicissitudes that torment it. Mine is as well. What, then, are you doing about it, Mademoiselle? Like all those who believe in the necessity and the fatedness of the institutions that rule us, you don’t think of questioning whether or not this collection of evils under the weight of which humans groan can be imputed to these same institutions. And without reflecting you doubtless address yourself to those who combat them, who condemn them and work to substitute other social arrangements, and you call on them to renounce the evil work they are accomplishing. I am, Mademoiselle, one of these evil wor... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
When it comes into the world, when its existence is like a blank sheet upon which nothing has yet be written, the child is neither good nor bad. He is both. The heir to all preceding generations, he carries within himself, in germ, all the qualities and all the shortcomings of his ancestors; all their virtues and all their vices, all their strengths and all their weaknesses, all their ignorance and all their learning, all their savagery and all their indulgence, all their defeats and all their victories, all their greatness and all their pettiness, all their courage and all their cowardice, all their rebelliousness and all their subservience, all their advances and all their set-backs, all their sublimity and all their wretchedness. ... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1934
Reformism: “Reformism” is the doctrine of those who, while saying they are in favor of a social transformation having as it objective establishing society on principles and foundations opposed to that which exist, propose to arrive at this result by a more or less considerable series of more or less important partial reforms realized within the framework of legality. “Reformist” is the name that serves to designate a person, group, organization or party that considers the whole of these successive and legal reforms as the best, if not the only means of transforming the social milieu, let us more precisely say, for substituting the collectivist or communist world for the capitalist world. Those political... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)
1921
Translated by Larry Gambone Comrades, I explained - quickly, but in a sufficient way - the first part of libertarian Communism, the critical, negative part and, I hope that I managed to convince you that misery, ignorance, hatred, repression, suffering in all its forms, is the fatal result of the social background in which we live. If, as I hope, you arrived at this conviction, you must also be convinced of the need and the urgency to put an end to a social system which generates such pains. It is precisely what we will begin to study this evening. It is necessary to destroy the established social order since it is generating sufferings, inequalities, injustices and miseries. It should be destroyed at all costs; it should be destro... (From: Anarchy Archives.)
1934
Violence: The anarchists are tender, affectionate, sensitive. As such, they hate violence. If it were possible for them to hope that they would realize through gentleness and persuasion their concept of universal peace, mutual aid and free agreement, they would repudiate all recourse to violence and would energetically combat even the idea of having recourse to it. But being practical and realistic — whatever their interested or ignorant detractors might say — the anarchists don’t believe in the magical virtue, the miraculous power of persuasion and gentleness. They have the well thought out certainty that in order to make a living reality of their admirable dream, they must before anything else have done with the w... (From: TheAnarchistLibrary.org.)

Image Gallery of Sébastien Faure

Quotes by Sébastien Faure

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"God is error, and I no longer believe in him; God is a lie and hypocrisy, and I combat him; God is religion, and not only does this not console me, but it is an affliction; not only does it not bring humanity tranquility and joy, but it has written the most painful and bloody pages of history, and this is why I fight against religion."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"Patriotism is the new dogma. On the ruins of the old Credos that are collapsing, it is the new faith; necessary to the masters so they can preserve the chains they've forged for the slaves."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"Patriotism is an unreasoning and stupid hatred of everything that isn't part of the fatherland."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"Patriotism is the barracks, it's the army, and it's the proletariat in uniform massacring, for the benefit and under the orders of the capitalist class, the proletariat in work shirts."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"Patriotism is the need for revenge imposing itself on vanquished nations and converting our planet into a gigantic battlefield where the combat will never end."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"This is why I make war on war; this is why, worker for life and not for death, I am an internationalist and call for the dismissal of armies and preach universal peace."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"Love is, by its very nature subject to whims; it's capricious, electric. It is madness to want to submit it to fixed rules applicable to all. Philosophically, liberty is the sole regime to which it can adapt itself."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"In practice marriage gives deplorable results. Far from being a guarantee of concord and happiness, it gives birth to the worst forms of hypocrisy and the most sorrowful situations."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"A chain always useless and dangerous; a chain always intolerable, it must be smashed."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

"All children suffer because of the family, some because they have one, others because they don't."

From : "Libertarian Communism," by Sebastien Faure, 1903

Chronology

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An icon of a baby.
January 6, 1858
Birth Day.

An icon of a gravestone.
July 14, 1942
Death Day.

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November 15, 2016; 5:14:57 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Added to https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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April 21, 2019; 4:59:39 PM (America/Los_Angeles)
Updated on https://www.RevoltLib.com.

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