François-Noël "Gracchus" Babeuf
|Died||27 May 1797 36) (aged|
|School||"Babouvism" (precursor to anarchism and communism)|
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François-Noël Babeuf (French: [fʁɑ̃swa nɔɛl babœf] ; 23 November 1760 – 27 May 1797), known as Gracchus Babeuf, was a French political agitator and journalist of the French Revolutionary period. His newspaper, Le tribun du peuple ("the tribune of the people"), was best known for its advocacy for the poor and calling for a popular revolt against the Directory, the government of France. He was a leading advocate for democracy and the abolition of private property. He angered the authorities who were clamping down hard on their radical enemies. In spite of the efforts of his Jacobin friends to save him, Babeuf was executed for his role in the Conspiracy of the Equals.
The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution. On the other hand, according to the mainstream historiography - for example F. Furet and D. Richet in “French Revolution” - with the aforementioned terms is indicated also the regime and the period from the dissolution of the National Convention of Tuileries Palace on 26 October 1795, which was superseded by the two new elected Councils, and the coup d’état by Napoleon. Only in 1798 the Council of Five Hundred moved to the Palais Bourbon.
Private property is a legal designation for the ownership of property by non-governmental legal entities. Private property is distinguishable from public property, which is owned by a state entity; and from collective property, which is owned by a group of non-governmental entities. Private property can be either personal property or capital goods. Private property is a legal concept defined and enforced by a country's political system.
A Jacobin was a member of the Jacobin Club, a revolutionary political movement that was the most famous political club during the French Revolution (1789–99). The club was so called because of the Dominican convent in Paris in the Rue Saint-Jacques where they originally met.
The "Gracchus" nickname likened him to the ancient Roman tribunes of the people. Although the words " anarchist " and " communist " did not exist in Babeuf's lifetime, they have both been used by later scholars to describe his ideas. The word "communism" was first used in English by Goodwyn Barmby in a conversation with those he described as the "disciples of Babeuf".He has been called "The First Revolutionary Communist."
The Gracchi brothers, Tiberius and Gaius, were Romans who both served as tribunes of the plebs between 133 and 121 BC. They attempted to redistribute the occupation of the ager publicus—the public land hitherto controlled principally by aristocrats—to the urban poor and veterans, in addition to other social and constitutional reforms. After achieving some early success, both were assassinated by the Optimates, the conservative faction in the senate that opposed these reforms.
Anarchy refers to the state of a society being without authorities or a governing body, and the general confusion and chaos resulting from that condition. It may also refer to a society or group of people that totally rejects hierarchy.
In political and social sciences, communism is the philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.
Babeuf was born at St. Nicaise near the town of Saint-Quentin. His father, Claude Babeuf, had deserted the French Royal Army in 1738 for that of Maria Theresa of Austria, reportedly rising to the rank of major. Amnestied in 1755, he returned to France, but soon sank into poverty, and had to work as a casual labourer to support his wife and family. The hardships endured by Babeuf during his early years contributed to the development of his political opinions. His father gave him a basic education, but until the outbreak of the Revolution, he was a domestic servant, and from 1785 occupied the office of commissaire à terrier, assisting the nobles and priests in the assertion of their feudal rights over the peasants.Accused of abandoning the feudal aristocracy, he would later say that "the sun of the French Revolution" had brought him to view his "mother, the feudal system" as a "hydra with a hundred heads."
The French Royal Army served the Bourbon kings beginning with Louis XIV and ending with Charles X with an interlude from 1792 until 1814, during the French Revolution and the reign of the Emperor Napoleon I. After a second, brief interlude when Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, the Royal Army was reinstated. Its service to the direct Bourbon line was finished when Charles X was overthrown in 1830 by the July Revolution.
Major is a military rank of commissioned officer status, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces throughout the world.
The French nobility was a privileged social class in France during the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period to the revolution in 1790. The nobility was revived in 1805 with limited rights as a titled elite class from the First Empire to the fall of the July Monarchy in 1848, when all privileges were abolished for good. Hereditary titles, without privileges, continued to be granted until the Second Empire fell in 1870. They survive among their descendants as a social convention and as part of the legal name of the corresponding individuals.
Babeuf was working for a land surveyor at Roye when the Revolution began. His father had died in 1780, and he now had to provide for his wife and two children, as well as for his mother, brothers and sisters.
Roye is a commune in the Somme department in Hauts-de-France in northern France.
He was a prolific writer, and the signs of his future socialism are contained in a letter of 21 March 1787, one of a series mainly on literature and addressed to the secretary of the Academy of Arras. In 1789 he drew up the first article of the cahier of the electors of the bailliage of Roye, demanding the abolition of feudal rights. From July to October 1789, he lived in Paris, superintending the publication of his first work: Cadastre perpetuel, dedié a l'assemblée nationale, l'an 1789 et le premier de la liberté française ("National Cadastre or land register, Dedicated to the National Assembly, Year 1789 and the First One of French Liberty"), which was written in 1789 and issued in 1790. The same year he published a pamphlet against feudal aids and the gabelle (salt tax), for which he was denounced and arrested, but provisionally released.
Arras is the capital (chef-lieu/préfecture) of the Pas-de-Calais department, which forms part of the region of Hauts-de-France; prior to the reorganization of 2014 it was located in Nord-Pas-de-Calais. The historic centre of the Artois region, with a Baroque town square, Arras is located in Northern France at the confluence of the Scarpe river and the Crinchon River.
Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.
A cadastre is a comprehensive land recording of the real estate or real property's metes-and-bounds of a country.
In October, on his return to Roye, he founded the Correspondant Picard,a political journal that would have 40 issues. Babeuf used his journal to agitate for a progressive taxation system, and condemned the "census suffrage" planned for the 1791 elections to the Legislative Assembly in which citizen votes would be weighted by their social standing. Due to his political activities, he was arrested on 19 May 1790, but released in July before the Fête de la Fédération, thanks to pressure exerted nationally by Jean-Paul Marat. In November Babeuf was elected a member of the municipality of Roye, but was expelled.
A progressive tax is a tax in which the average tax rate increases as the taxable amount increases. The term "progressive" refers to the way the tax rate progresses from low to high, with the result that a taxpayer's average tax rate is less than the person's marginal tax rate. The term can be applied to individual taxes or to a tax system as a whole; a year, multi-year, or lifetime. Progressive taxes are imposed in an attempt to reduce the tax incidence of people with a lower ability to pay, as such taxes shift the incidence increasingly to those with a higher ability-to-pay. The opposite of a progressive tax is a regressive tax, where the average tax rate or burden decreases as an individual's ability to pay increases.
The Fête de la Fédération was a massive holiday festival held throughout France in honour of the French Revolution. It is the precursor of the Bastille Day which is celebrated every year in France on 14 July, celebrating the Revolution itself, as well as National Unity.
Jean-Paul Marat was a French political theorist, physician, and scientist. He was a journalist and politician during the French Revolution. He was a vigorous defender of the sans-culottes and seen as a radical voice. He published his views in pamphlets, placards and newspapers. His periodical L'Ami du peuple made him an unofficial link with the radical Jacobin group that came to power after June 1793.
In March 1791, Babeuf was appointed commissioner to report on the national property (biens nationaux) in the town, and in September 1792 was elected a member of the council-general of the département of the Somme. A rivalry with the principal administrator and later deputy to the Convention, André Dumont, forced Babeuf to transfer to the post of administrator of the district of Montdidier. There he was accused of fraud for having altered a name in a deed of transfer of national lands. The error was probably due to negligence; but, distrusting the impartiality of the judges of the Somme, he fled to Paris, and on 23 August 1793 was sentenced in contumaciam to twenty years' imprisonment. Meanwhile he had been appointed secretary to the relief committee (comité des subsistances) of the Paris Commune.
The judges of Amiens pursued him with a warrant for his arrest, which took place in Brumaire of the year II (1794). The Court of Cassation quashed the sentence, through defect of form, and sent Babeuf for a new trial before the Aisne tribunal,which acquitted him on 18 July 1794, only days before the Thermidorian Reaction.
Babeuf returned to Paris, and on 3 September 1794 published the first issue of his Journal de la Liberté de la Presse, whose title was changed on 5 October 1794 to Le Tribun du Peuple.The execution of Maximilien Robespierre on 28 July 1794 had ended the Reign of Terror and begun the White Terror. Babeuf – now self-styled Gracchus Babeuf – defended the fallen Terror politicians with the stated goal of achieving equality "in fact" and not only "by proclamation". However about the Terror, he said "I object to this particular aspect of their system." Babeuf attacked the leaders of the Thermidorian Reaction and, from a socialist point of view, the economic outcome of the Revolution. He also argued for the inclusion of women into the political clubs.
This was an attitude which had few supporters, even in the Jacobin Club, and in October Babeuf was arrested and imprisoned at Arras. Here he was influenced by political prisoners, notably Philippe Buonarroti, Simon Duplay, and René-François Lebois, editor of the Journal de l'Égalité and afterwards of the L'Ami du peuple papers of Leclerc which carried on the traditions of Jean-Paul Marat. Babeuf emerged from prison a confirmed advocate of revolution and convinced that his project, fully proclaimed to the world in Issue 33 of his Tribun, could only come about through the restoration of the Constitution of 1793.That constitution had been ratified by a national referendum by universal male suffrage but never implemented.
In February 1795, Babeuf was arrested again, and the Tribun du peuple was solemnly burnt in the Théatre des Bergeres by the jeunesse dorée , young men whose mission was to root out Jacobinism. Babeuf might have faded into obscurity like other agitators, but for the appalling economic conditions caused by the fall in the value of assignats .
The attempts of the Directory to deal with the economic crisis gave Babeuf his historical importance. The new government wanted to abolish the system which benefitted Paris at the expense of all France. To this goal, the government planned to abolish the sale of bread and meat at nominal prices, on 20 February 1796. The announcement caused widespread consternation. Workers and the large class of proletarians attracted to Paris by the system, as well as rentiers and government officials, whose incomes were paid in assignats arbitrarily set by the government, felt threatened with starvation. The government yielded to the outcry, and tried to mitigate the problem by dividing people entitled to relief into classes, but this only increased alarm and discontent.
The universal misery gave point to Babeuf's virulent attacks on the existing order and gained him a hearing. He gained a small circle of followers known as the Societé des égaux, soon merged with the rump of the Jacobin Club, who met at the Panthéon. In November 1795, police reported that Babeuf was openly preaching "insurrection, revolt and the Constitution of 1793".The group was influenced by Sylvain Maréchal, the author of Le Manifeste des Egaux and a sympathiser of Babeuf.
For a time, the government left Babeuf alone but observed his activities. The Directory benefitted from the socialist agitation because it counteracted royalist movements for overthrowing the Directory. Most workers, even of extreme views, were repelled by Babeuf's bloodthirstiness; and police reported that his agitation increased support for the government. The Jacobin Club refused to admit Babeuf and Lebois, on the ground that they were "throat-cutters" ("égorgeurs").
However, the economic crisis increased Babeuf's influence. After Napoleon Bonaparte closed the club of the Panthéon on 27 February 1796, Babeuf increased his activity. In Ventôse and Germinal (late winter and early spring) under the pseudonym Lalande, soldat de la patrie, Babeuf published the paper "Scout of the People, or Defender of Twenty-Five Million Oppressed" (Eclaireur du Peuple, ou le Défenseur de Vingt-Cinq Millions d'Opprimés), which was passed from group to group secretly in the streets of Paris.
At the same time, Issue 40 of Babeuf's Tribun caused immense sensation as it praised the authors of the September Massacres as "deserving well of their country" and declared that a more complete "2 September" was needed to destroy the government, which consisted of "starvers, bloodsuckers, tyrants, hangmen, rogues and mountebanks".
Distress among all classes continued. In March, the Directory tried to replace assignats by a new issue of mandats and this raised hopes, but they were soon dashed. A rumour that national bankruptcy had been declared caused thousands of the lower class of workers to rally to Babeuf's ideas. On 4 April 1796, the government received a report that 500,000 Parisians needed relief. From 11 April, Paris was placarded with posters headed "Analysis of Babeuf's Teaching" (Analyse de la Doctrine de Baboeuf) [ sic ], Tribun du Peuple, which began with the sentence "Nature has given to every man the right to the enjoyment of an equal share in all property", and ended with a call to restore the Constitution of 1793.
Babeuf's song "Dying of Hunger, Dying of Cold" (Mourant de faim, mourant de froid), set to a popular tune, began to be sung in cafés , with immense applause. Reports circulated that the disaffected troops of the French Revolutionary Army in the camp of Grenelle were ready to join an insurrection against the government. The bureau central had accumulated through its agents (notably ex-captain Georges Grisel, who was initiated into Babeuf’s society) evidence of a conspiracy (later called the "Conspiracy of Equals") for an armed uprising fixed for 22 Floréal, year IV (11 May 1796),which involved Jacobins and socialists.
The Directory thought it time to react. [ citation needed ]On 10 May Babeuf, who had taken the pseudonym Tissot, was arrested. Many of his associates were gathered by the police on order from Lazare Carnot: among them were Augustin Alexandre Darthé and Philippe Buonarroti, the ex-members of the National Convention, Robert Lindet, Jean-Pierre-André Amar, Marc-Guillaume Alexis Vadier and Jean-Baptiste Drouet, famous as the postmaster of Sainte-Menehould who had arrested Louis XVI during the latter's Flight to Varennes, and now a member of the Directory's Council of Five Hundred.
The government crackdown was extremely successful. The last issue of the Tribun appeared on 24 April, although René-François Lebois in the L'Ami du peuple tried to incite the soldiers to revolt, and for a while there were rumours of a military uprising.
Babeuf and his accomplices were to be tried at the newly created high court at Vendôme. When the prisoners were removed from Paris on 10 and 11 Fructidor (27 August and 28 August 1796), there were tentative efforts at a riot hoping to rescue the prisoners, but these were easily suppressed. On 7 September 1796, 500 or 600 Jacobins tried to rouse the soldiers at Grenelle but also failed.
The trial was held at Vendôme beginning on 20 February 1797. Although more important people were involved in the conspiracy, the government depicted Babeuf as the leader. His own vanity played into their hands. On 7 Prairial (26 May 1797) Babeuf and Darthé were condemned to death; some of the prisoners, including Buonarroti, were deported; the rest, including Vadier and his fellow-conventionals, were acquitted. Drouet managed to escape, according to Paul Barras, with the connivance of the Directory. Babeuf and Darthé were guillotined the next day at Vendôme, 8 Prairial (27 May 1797), without appeal.
Babeuf's body was transported and buried in a mass grave in the Vendôme's old cemetery of the Grand Faubourg, in Loir-et-Cher.
— "Society must be made to operate in such a way that it eradicates once and for all the desire of a man to become richer, or wiser, or more powerful than others."
— "The French Revolution was nothing but a precursor of another revolution, one that will be bigger, more solemn, and which will be the last."
you accuse them of not having prevented the corrupting books of a Mably, a Helvétius, a Diderot, or of a Jean Jacques Rousseau, from falling into my bands. All those who govern should be considered responsible for the evils that they do not prevent. Philanthropists of today! It is above all to you that I address myself. It is because of these philosophical poisons that I am lost. Without them, I would perhaps have bad your morality, your virtues. Like you, I would have detested brigandage and the overthrow of the existing social institutions above all things; I would have bad the tenderest solicitude for the small number of powerful men of this world; I would have been pitiless toward the suffering multitude. But no, I will not repent of having been educated at the school of the celebrated men whom I have just named. I will not blaspheme against them, or become an apostate against their dogmas. If the axe must fall upon my neck, the lictor will find me ready. It is good to perish for the sake of virtue.
Jean-François Reubell or Rewbell was a French lawyer, diplomat, and politician of the Revolution.
The following is a timeline of the French Revolution.
The Thermidorian Reaction is the common term, in the historiography of the French Revolution, for the period between the ousting of Maximilien Robespierre on 9 Thermidor II, or 27 July 1794, to the inauguration of the French Directory on 1 November 1795. The "Thermidorian Reaction" was named after the month in which the coup took place, and was the latter part of the National Convention's rule of France. It was marked by the end of the Reign of Terror, decentralization of executive powers from the Committee of Public Safety, and a turn from the radical leftist policies of the Montagnard Convention to more conservative and moderate positions. Economic and general populism, Dechristianization and harsh wartime measures were largely abandoned, as the members of the Convention, disillusioned and frightened of the centralized government of the Terror, preferred a more stable political order, aimed to assuage the affluent classes. The Reaction saw the Left suppressed by brutal force, including lynch acts which the authorities turned a blind eye to, the Jacobin Club disbanded, the sans-culottes dispersed and Montagnard ideology renounced.
Jean-Baptiste Robert Lindet was a French politician of the Revolutionary period. His brother, Robert Thomas Lindet, became a constitutional bishop and member of the National Convention. Although his role may not have been spectacular, Jean-Baptiste Lindet came to be the embodiment of the growing middle class that came to dominate French politics during the Revolution.
Augustin Alexandre Darthé was a French revolutionary.
Filippo Giuseppe Maria Ludovico Buonarroti, more usually referred to under the French version Philippe Buonarroti, was an Italian utopian socialist, writer, agitator, freemason, and conspirator; he was active in Corsica, France, and Geneva. His History of Babeuf’s 'Conspiracy of Equals' (1828) became a bible for revolutionaries, inspiring such leftists as Blanqui and Marx. He proposed a mutualist strategy that would revolutionize society by stages, starting from monarchy to liberalism, then to radicalism, and finally to communism.
The Conspiracy of the Equals of May 1796 was a failed coup d'Etat during the French Revolution. It was led by François-Noël Babeuf, who wanted to overthrow the Directory and replace it with an egalitarian and proto-socialist republic, inspired by Jacobin ideals.
Jean-Pierre-André Amar or Jean-Baptiste-André Amar was a French political figure of the Revolution and Freemason.
Sylvain Maréchal was a French essayist, poet, philosopher and political theorist, whose views presaged utopian socialism and communism. His views on a future golden age are occasionally described as utopian anarchism. He was editor of the newspaper Révolutions de Paris.
Mandats territoriaux were paper bank notes issued as currency by the French Directory in 1796 to replace the assignats which had become virtually worthless. They were land-warrants supposedly redeemable in the lands confiscated from royalty, the clergy and the church after the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789. In February 1796, 800,000,000 francs of mandats were issued as legal tender to replace the 24,000,000,000 francs of assignats then outstanding. In all about 2,500,000,000 francs of mandats were issued. They were heavily counterfeited and their value depreciated rapidly within six months. In February 1797, they lost their legal tender quality and by May were worth virtually nothing.
The White Terror was a period during the French Revolution in 1795, when a wave of violent attacks swept across much of France. The victims of this violence were people identified as being associated with the Reign of Terror – followers of Robespierre and Marat, and members of local Jacobin clubs. The violence was perpetrated primarily by those whose relatives or associates had been victims of the Great Terror, or whose lives and livelihoods had been threatened by the government and its supporters before the Thermidorean Reaction. Principally these were, in Paris, the Muscadins, and in the countryside, monarchists, supporters of the Girondins, those who opposed the Civil Constitution of the Clergy and those otherwise hostile to the Jacobin political agenda. The Great Terror had been largely an organised political programme, based on laws such as the Law of 22 Prairial, and enacted through official institutions such as the Revolutionary Tribunal, but the White Terror was essentially a series of uncoordinated attacks by local activists who shared common perspectives but no central organisation. In particular locations, there were however more organised counter-revolutionary movements such as the Companions of Jehu in Lyon and the Companions of the Sun in Provence. The name 'White Terror' derives from the white cockades worn in the hats of royalists.
Jean-Jacques Pillot was a French revolutionary and republican communist. He participated in the Revolution of 1848 and in the Paris Commune of 1871.
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Auguste-Richard Lahautière (1813–1882) was a French socialist, journalist and lawyer. He is commonly grouped with Théodore Dézamy, Albert Laponneraye, Jean-Jacques Pillot and others as belonging to the Neo-Babouvist tendency in French nineteenth-century socialism, which formed a link from the utopian communism of Gracchus Babeuf to Marxism.
Albert Laponneraye was a French republican socialist and a journalist, popular historian, educator and editor of Robespierre's writings. He was a representative of the Neo-Babouvist tendency in the 1840s, along with Richard Lahautière, Jean-Jacques Pillot and others. He combined Jacobin republicanism with egalitarian communism and anti-clericalism. He was influenced by the doctrines of Philippe Buonarroti and Étienne Cabet. In the 1830s and 40s Laponneraye was one of the best known advocates of republican communism. He is viewed as a forerunner of Karl Marx.
Pierre-Antoine Antonelle was a French journalist, politician, president of the Jacobin Club and revolutionary. He was the first democratically elected mayor of Arles. Although he came from an aristocratic family, he was a strong supporter of the French Revolution, initially in the south of France, particularly Arles and Provence, and ultimately in Paris. Called the single most influential figure of the French Revolution in Arles, Antonelle was heavily involved in the reunion of the Comtat Venaissin with France and was one of the leading figures in Gracchus Babeuf's Conspiracy of the Equals.
The Panthéon club was a French revolutionary political club founded in Paris the 6 November 1795. Its official name was Reunion of Friends of the Republic. It was composed of former terrorists and inconditional Jacobins coming from the petite bourgeoisie.
François Jean-Baptiste Topino-Lebrun was a French painter and revolutionary. He worked in the Neo-Classical style and was said to be the favorite student of Jacques-Louis David.
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