Daniel Guérin Quotes
“The form of coercion that the proletarian vanguard finds itself forced to exercise against counter-revolutionaries is of so fundamentally different a nature from the past forms of oppression, and it is compensated for by so advanced a degree of democracy for the formerly oppressed, that the word dictatorship clashes with that of proletariat.”
“In my opinion the basic cause for the relative failure of the two greatest revolutions in history resides not, to borrow again from Voline, in "historic inevitability," or simply in the subjective "errors" of revolutionary actors. The revolution bears within itself a serious contradiction (a contradiction which fortunately—and we will return to the subject —is not irremediable and is attenuated with time): it can only arise, it can only vanquish if it issues from the depths of the popular masses, from their irresistible spontaneous uprising; but although the class instinct drives the popular masses to break their chains, they are yet lacking in education and consciousness. And since, in their formidable but tumultuous and blind drive towards liberty, they run up against privileged, conscious, educated, organized, and tested social classes, they can only vanquish the resistance they meet if they succeed in obtaining in the heat of the struggle, the consciousness, the science, the organization, and the experience they lack. But the very fact of forging the weapons I have just listed summarily, and which alone can ensure their superiority over the enemy, bears an immense peril within it: that of killing the spontaneity that is the very spirit of the revolution; that of compromising freedom through organization; that of allowing the movement to be confiscated by an elite minority of more educated, more conscious, more experienced militants who, to begin with, offer themselves as guides in order, in the end, to impose themselves as chiefs and to subject the masses to new forms of the oppression of man by man.”
“Libertarian communism is a communism that rejects determinism and fatalism, which gives space to individual will, intuition, imagination, the rapidity of reflexes, the profound instinct of the large masses, who are wiser at moments of crisis than the reasonings of the "elite," who believe in the element of surprise and provocation, in the value of audacity, who do not allow themselves to be encumbered and paralyzed by a weighty, supposedly "scientific" ideological apparatus, who do not prevaricate or bluff, who avoid both adventurism and fear of the unknown.
Libertarian communists have learned from experience how to set about things: they hold in contempt the impotent shambles of disorganization as much as the bureaucratic ball and chain of over-organization.”
“Libertarian communists shun any particularist atomization into small units, communes, and workers' councils, and aspire to a federalist coordination, one which is both close-knit and freely consented to. Rejecting bureaucratic and authoritarian planning, they believe in the need for coherent and democratic planning, inspired from the bottom up.”
“When it (Self-management in revolutionary Spain) was not sabotaged by its enemies or hindered by the war, agricultural self-management was an unquestionable success. The land was united into one holding and cultivated over great expanses according to a general plan and the directives of agronomists. Small landowners integrated their plots with those of the community. Socialization demonstrated its superiority both over large absentee landholdings, which left a part of the land unplanted, and over smallholdings, cultivated with the use of rudimentary techniques, inadequate seeding, and without fertilizer. Production increased by 30—50 percent. The amount of cultivated land increased, working methods were improved, and human, animal, and mechanical energy used more rationally. Farming was diversified, irrigation developed, the countryside partially reforested, nurseries opened, pigsties constructed, rural technical schools created, Pilot farms set up, livestock selected and increased, and auxiliary industries set in motion, etc.”
“The socialized factories (In revolutionary Catalonia) were led by a management committee with between five and thirteen members, representing the various services, elected by the workers in a general assembly, with a two- year term, half of them to be renewed every year. The committee selected a director to whom it delegated all or part of its powers. In the key factories the selection of the director had to be approved by the regulatory body. In addition, a government inspector was placed on every management committee. The management committee could be revoked either by the general assembly or by a general council of the branch of industry (composed of four representatives of the management committees, eight from the workers' unions, and four technicians named by the regulatory body). This general council planned the work and deter- mined the distribution of profits. Its decisions were legally binding.”
“What is more, thanks notably to Rosa Luxemburg, the idea has penetrated socialist thought that even if the masses are not yet completely mature, even if the fusion of science and the working class dreamed of by Lassalle has not yet taken place, the only way to catch up and to remedy this deficiency is to assist the masses in doing their apprenticeship in direct democracy from the bottom up. It is in developing, encouraging, and stimulating their free initiatives; it is in inculcating in them the sense of their responsibilities instead of maintaining in them, as state "communism" does (whether in power or in opposition), the age-old habits of passivity, submission, and feeling of inferiority passed on to them by a past of oppression. Even if this apprenticeship is at times difficult, even if the rhythm is at times slow, even if it cripples society with supplementary costs, even if it can only be effected at the cost of some "disorder," these difficulties, these delays, these supplementary costs, these growing pains, are infinitely less harmful than the false order, the false brilliance, the false "efficiency" of state "communism," which obliterate man, kill popular initiative, and finally dishonor the very idea of communism.”
“reality represents nothing more than the privilege of some founded on the slavery of the rest; not the individualistic, egoistic, shabby, and fictitious liberty extolled by the school of J-J. Rousseau and the other schools of bourgeois liberalism, which considers the would-be rights of all men, represented by the State which limits the rights of each—an idea that leads inevitably to the reduction of the rights of each to zero.”
- Date of birth: May 19, 1904
- Died: April 14, 1988
- Born: in Paris, France.
- Description: Daniel Guérin was a French anarcho-communist author, best known for his work 'Anarchism: From Theory to Practice', as well as his collection 'No Gods No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism' in which he collected writings on the idea and movement it inspired, from the first writings of Max Stirner in the mid-19th century through the first half of the 20th century. He is also known for his opposition to Nazism, fascism, Stalinism and colonialism, in addition to his support for the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT) during the Spanish Civil War, and his revolutionary defence of free love and homosexuality.