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Kropotkin on the real French Revolution

Those of you who watch the front page may have noticed a new epigraph added to the rotation. It’s from Peter Kropotkin’s book on the French Revolution; I encountered it recently thanks to a post at The Picket Line. Thus:

After the night of August 4, these urban insurrections spread still more. Indications of them are seen everywhere. The taxes, the town-dues, the levies and excise were no longer paid. The collectors of the taille are at their last shift, said Necker, in his report of August 7. The price of salt has been compulsorily reduced one-half in two of the revolted localities, the collection of taxes is no longer made, and so forth. An infinity of places was in revolt against the treasury clerks. … In this way the people, long before the Assembly, were making the Revolution on the spot; they gave themselves, by revolutionary means, a new municipal administration, they made a distinction between the taxes that they accepted and those which they refused to pay, and they prescribed the mode of equal division of the taxes that they agreed to pay to the State or to the Commune.

It is chiefly by studying this method of action among the people, and not by devoting oneself to the study of the Assembly??s legislative work, that one grasps the genius of the Great Revolution ?? the Genius, in the main, of all revolutions, past and to come.

–Pyotr Alexeyevich Kropotkin (1909) The Great French Revolution 1789–1793, p. 108. Trans. by N. F. Dryhurst.

Besides being good on its own merits, the quotation is also a natural complement to one of my other epigraphs, a quotation from Proudhon on parliamentarism and social economy.

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