Théodore Dézamy

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Alexandre Théodore Dézamy (4 March 1808 24 July 1850) was a French socialist, a representative of the Neo-Babouvist tendency in early French communism, along with Albert Laponneraye, Richard Lahautière, Jacques Pillot and others. He was also an early associate of Louis-Auguste Blanqui. He and his colleagues formed a link between the extreme left wing of the French Revolution (Babeuf) and Marxism.

Neo-Babouvism is a term commonly used to designate a revolutionary communist current in French political theory and action in the nineteenth century.

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.

Richard Lahautière French writer

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.

Contents

Life

Alexandre Théodore Dézamy was born in Luçon (Vendée). He worked as a schoolteacher in Luçon before moving to Paris in the 1830s, where he became superintendent of a rooming house. Dézamy had already been developing ideas for a reorganisation of society on republican, communalistic and collectivist principles. He admired Gracchus Babeuf and Philippe Buonarroti and was influenced by the writing of the utopian communist Étienne Cabet. In Paris he joined Cabet's association and for a time worked as his secretary. He also contributed to Cabet's journal Le Populaire. Dézamy also made contact with several revolutionary secret societies. In particular, he joined the 'Society of the Season' of Auguste Blanqui and Armand Barbès, which carried out an unsuccessful insurrection in 1839. Blanqui and Barbès went to prison, where they became enemies. Dézamy was arrested but in 1840, he was free and collaborated with Jacques Pillot and others in organising the first communist banquet at Belleville. (Banquets were a common way of circumventing prohibitions against political demonstrations, with oppositional speeches disguised as toasts; in the 1840s, republican opponents of the Orléanist monarchy organised a nationwide campaign of banquets, but most were liberal in orientation.)

Philippe Buonarroti Italian utopian socialist (1761-1837)

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.

Étienne Cabet French philosopher

Étienne Cabet was a French philosopher and utopian socialist who founded the Icarian movement. Cabet became the most popular socialist advocate of his day, with a special appeal to artisans who were being undercut by factories, and his commutarian ideals later influenced Karl Marx and others. Cabet published Voyage en Icarie in French in 1839, in which he proposed replacing capitalist production with workers' cooperatives. Recurrent problems with French officials, led him to emigrate to the United States in 1848. Cabet founded utopian communities in Texas and Illinois, but was again undercut, this time by recurring feuds with his followers.

Armand Barbès French Republican revolutionary

Armand Barbès was a French Republican revolutionary and a fierce and steadfast opponent of the July monarchy (1830–1848). He is remembered as a man whose life centers on two days:

Dézamy subsequently broke with Cabet, whom he considered too opportunistic and reformist; instead of appealing to the bourgeoisie for sympathy with the proletariat, as Cabet was doing, Dézamy thought the workers should organise themselves and achieve their own liberation. Instead of hoping for reforms from a benevolent monarch, workers should support a revolution and the establishment of a unitary, centralised, egalitarian republic. Dézamy also deplored Cabet's religiosity, seeing the Church as an enemy of the people. He envisaged a republic of federated communes, each comprising about 10,000 people and combining industrial, agricultural and cultural work. Private property was to be abolished; work was to be assigned on the basis of ability; goods were to be distributed on the basis of need. Dézamy combined this social system with militant anti-clericalism, atheism and a materialist metaphysics derived from d'Holbach. Dézamy called his system 'unitary communism' and propagated it in his own journal, L'Égalitaire. In 1842 he published his best-known book, Code de la Communauté. In The Holy Family (1844), Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote that 'the more scientific French Communists, Dézamy, Gay and others, developed the teaching of materialism as the teaching of real humanism and the logical basis of communism.' [1]

Karl Marx Revolutionary socialist

Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, historian, sociologist, political theorist, journalist and socialist revolutionary.

Friedrich Engels German social scientist, author, political theorist, and philosopher

Friedrich Engels was a German philosopher, communist, social scientist, journalist and businessman. His father was an owner of large textile factories in Salford, England and in Barmen, Prussia.

In 1846, Dézamy founded his own association, the 'Egalitarian Communists'. They devoted themselves to revolutionary propaganda and education among workers, in preparation for a revolution and the establishment of a communitarian society. They also tried to combat the influence of religious and reformist communists like Cabet and Lamennais. When the Revolution of 1848 occurred, Dézamy joined the newly liberated Blanqui in founding the 'Central Republican Society', one of the most radical republican socialist clubs of the period. Dézamy also launched a new journal, Les Droits de l'Homme, with the slogan: 'Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Association, Alliance of Peoples'. He also stood for elections to the National Assembly.

Louis Bonaparte became President in 1849 and the Second Republic took an increasingly conservative turn, with the Second Empire looming on the horizon. Dézamy returned to Luçon, where he died, aged 42. Besides Babeuf and Cabet, his ideas were also influenced by the eighteenth-century utopians Morelly and Mably and by Charles Fourier.

Louis Bonaparte King of Holland, brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, member of the House of Buonaparte

Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was a younger brother of Napoleon I, Emperor of the French. He was a monarch in his own right from 1806 to 1810, ruling over the Kingdom of Holland. In that capacity he was known as Louis I.

French Second Republic government of France between 1848-1852

The French Second Republic was a short-lived republican government of France under President Louis-Napoléon Bonaparte. It lasted from the 1848 Revolution to the 1851 coup by which the president made himself Emperor Napoleon III and initiated the Second Empire. It officially adopted the motto of the First Republic, Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité. The Second Republic witnessed the tension between the "Social and Democratic Republic" and a liberal form of republicanism, which exploded during the June Days uprising of 1848.

Second French Empire government of France under Napoleon III, from 1852 to 1870

The Second French Empire, officially the French Empire, was the regime of Napoleon III from 1852 to 1870, between the Second Republic and the Third Republic, in France.

Works

Dézamy's works are not generally available in English. His French works include:

Question proposée par l'Académie des sciences morales et politiques : les nations avancent plus en connaissances, en lumières qu'en morale pratique... Paris, L.-E. Herhan et Bimont, 1839.

Conséquences de l'embastillement et de la paix à tout prix, dépopulation de la capitale, trahison du pouvoir. Paris, 1840.

M. Lamennais réfuté par lui-même, ou Examen critique du livre intitulé "Du passé et de l'avenir du peuple". Paris, 1841.

Code de la communauté. Paris, Prévost, Rouannet, 1842.

Calomnies et politique de M. Cabet. Réfutation par des faits et par sa biographie. Paris, Prévost, 1842.

Dialogue sur la réforme électorale entre un communiste, un réformiste, un doctrinaire, un légitimiste. Paris, Prévot, 1842.

Le Jésuitisme vaincu et anéanti par le socialisme, ou les Constitutions des Jésuites et leurs instructions secrètes en parallèle avec un projet d'organisation du travail. Paris, 1845.

Examen critique des huit discours sur le catholicisme et la philosophie, prononcés à Notre-Dame, en décembre 1844 et en janvier 1845, par M. l'abbé Lacordaire ; précédé d'une notice historique sur l'ordre des Dominicains et de la biographie de M. l'abbé Lacordaire, Paris, les libraires, 1845, 35 pages Organisation de la liberté et du bien-être universel... Paris, Guarin, 1846.

Sources

Billington, J.H., Fire in the minds of men: origins of the revolutionary faith. New Jersey, 2009.

The great Soviet Encyclopedia. Moscow, 1979.

Bravo, G.M., Les Socialistes avant Marx. Paris, Éditions Maspero, Petite collection Maspero, 1979.

Tumminelli, R., Dézamy e l'utopia sociale. Milan, A. Giuffrè, 1984.

Maillard, A., La communauté des Égaux. Le communisme néo-babouviste dans la France des années 1840. Paris, Kimé, 1999.

Angenot, C., Les Grands récits militants du XIXe et XXe siècles. Religions de l'humanité et sciences de l'histoire. Paris, L'Harmattan, 2000.

Garaudy, R., Les Sources françaises du Socialisme scientifique. Paris, 1948.

Notes

  1. Marx, K., and F. Engels, The Holy Family:Critique of Critical Criticism. Ch. VI 3. Online at: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1845/holy-family/ch06_3_d.htm.

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