Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Two texts by Emile Digeon

Anarchist history is just full to overflowing with characters who seldom receive more than a footnote in the histories, but were major players in some aspect of the history of anarchist struggle. And it's no secret that I am very fond of these lesser-known figures. Sometimes, though, it's hard to justify taking the time to translate texts which do not have some fairly general application to contemporary issues. Even when dealing with the "big names" of the movement there are frequently lots of writings, or parts of writings, which are hard to make much sense of without delving fairly deeply into the details of history. But one of the reasons for doing the translation work is to present the style and preoccupations of the writers, whether or not those preoccupations focused on particularly timeless themes. Part of what I get out of doing the work is a chance to get to know a wide variety of anarchists, and I'm trying to allot a certain amount of my time to doing work which allows others to get acquainted with a broader range of anarchist types as well. That's why someone like Eliphalet Kimball would be important, even if he wasn't one of the earliest explicit anarchists in the United States, and it's part of why I'm dedicating some time over the next month or so to try to complete translations of the major works of Emile Digeon, one of the leaders of the Narbonne Commune, one of the outlying uprisings in sympathy with the Commune of Paris. Digeon's major works were "Revolutionary Remarks" and "Rights and Duties in Rational Anarchism," which make an interesting case for a sort of radical democracy as the proper form for anarchistic government. A similar concern with governmental process marks two other works by Digeon: "The Voice of One Hoodwinked, December 2," the title which refers to Louis Napoleon's coup d'etat, but the text of which consists largely of a response to Emile Ollivier's book, Le 19 Janvier, and a series of comments on imperative mandate and the loyalty oath; and "Proposal for Indictment of Gambetta and the Ministers," which takes the form of a legal document calling for the impeachment of Gambetta and others, based on the fact that they had exceeded their mandate with regard to events in Tunisia. I've translated these latter two texts, and they're available in pdf form, together with the obituary I posted awhile back. This is a rough translation, pulled together to share at the bookfair this weekend. With a little luck, I'll be able to compile a more complete compilation within a month or so.

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