Category Archives: Emile Armand

Emile Armand, “Without amoralization, no anarchization” (1926)

I came across this article by Emile Armand in L’Insurgé while working on something entirely unrelated, but it was interesting enough that I went ahead and translated it. If there is nothing here that would convince anyone not already sympathetic, it is a clear statement of Armand’s position, with a few nice examples of his literary eccentricities.


Without amoralization, no anarchization

The Larousse dictionary defines the word morality as: the relation of an act, of the sentiments of a person, with the rule of morals. From this comes the expression “certificate of morality,” to designate an official confirmation of a clean criminal record. Each time that I hear morality spoken of in a publication that calls itself anarchist, to whatever degree, there comes to my mind, unbidden, the idea of a “certificate of good behavior,” delivered by the police chief of the district.

As I wrote in the last issue, the word morality would never have appeared in the anarchist or anarchist-friendly journals if the anarchist movement had not been swamped with people coming from bourgeoisie backgrounds, who have brought with them the notion that it is important to conform, in matters of morals, with the established rules.

An experience that is already great, a familiarity that does not date from yesterday, has shown me that a great number of people who declare themselves theoretically as advocates of anarchism have been seduced particularly by the teachings of Rousseau, humanitarianism, and the revolutionary aspiration to egalitarianism revealed by the writings of certain anarchist dogmatists. From that comes an all too obvious tendency to make pronouncements on the acts and movements of comrades, valuations and judgments like those issued by the representatives of bourgeois society and those chiefs of police who deliver certificates of good behavior.

When, in 1900, I entered into contact with the anarchists, I came from a Christian milieu; many times, I have been stupefied by comparing the materialist declarations of certain anarchist theorists with the judgments they passed on the conduct of comrades who had taken seriously formulas like “no gods, no masters” or “with neither faith nor law,” which makes concrete, in a brief and clear form, the whole individual anarchist idea of life. I could not understand how, after having battled the law and the prophets, both religious and secular, they could bring, with regard to certain kinds of individual behavior, condemnations that would not have been disapproved of by the judges in the criminal court. As I did not consider propaganda a profession and did not wish to make a vocation of it, I would have long since dumped these respectable folks, and that would have saved me some unpleasantness, if afterwards I had not been convinced that these judgments simply reflected the bourgeois education (primary and secondary) received by these theorists, of which they have never wished or been able to rid themselves. Later, fortunately, I met real anarchists, liberated and freed from the education of the schools, who avoided, in general, bringing judgment on the actions of their comrades. When they ventured to express an opinion on their manner of conducting themselves, they did so in relation to the anarchist conception of life and not some standard of morality established by the supporters of bourgeois society.

I meet old compagnons who tell me that they have withdrawn from the movement because of the disillusionment they have experienced, meeting too many anarchist theorists with bourgeois inclinations. Where they hoped to meet men who had abandoned social prejudices and moral preconceptions, they found only minds, so spineless as to be ridiculous, whose ethical mentality differed in no way from that of their porter and their housekeeper.

Not that, forced by circumstances, the anarchist individualists do not disguise themselves, but in the manner of the Calabrian brigand, who disguises himself as a carabineer in order to rob a stage-coach. Every concession that the anarchist individualist makes to the social milieu, every concession that seem to make to the State, they make amends by undermining the notion of the necessary power, by demonstrating to all those with whom they come into contact that there is no need for morals and moralists, for imposed, obligatory leaders and magistrates, in order to fulfill the organic individual functions and for humans to get along.

But where is the giant who will get on with the task of amoralizing and immoralizing the anarchist men and women, of making them catalysts of the amoralization and immoralization of the human milieu? For it is only then, O anarchy, that your advent could foreseen.

E. Armand.

L’Insurgé 2 no. 48 (April 3, 1926): 2.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

 

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Emile Armand, “Variations on Voluptuousness” (1922)

This short piece by Emile Armand appeared with his essay “On Sexual Liberty.”

VARIATIONS ON VOLUPTUOUSNESS
I know that sensual pleasure is a subject about which you do not like people to speak or to write. Dealing with it shocks you. Or it provokes a joke in bad taste among you. You have books in your libraries which embrace nearly all the branches of human activity. You possess dictionaries and encyclopedias. You count perhaps a hundred volumes on one specialty of manual production. And I do not speak of political or sociological books. But there is not on your shelves a single work consecrated to sensual pleasure. There are some journals concerned with numismatics, philately, heraldry, angling or lawn bowling. The least of the poetic or artistic tendencies has its organ. The tiniest chapel of an ism has its bulletin. The novels of love abound. And we find brochures and books concerned with free love or sexual hygiene. But not one periodical devoted to sensual pleasure frankly considered, without insinuations. As one of the sources of the effort to live. As a felicity. As a stimulant in the struggle for existence. Long studies unroll on the techniques of painting, and sculpture—on the working of wood, stone, and metals. But I search in vain for documented articles which consider sensual pleasure as an art—which exhibit its ancient refinements—which propose novel ones. It is not that pleasure leaves you indifferent. But it is only clandestinely, in the shadows, behind closed doors that you discuss or debate it. As if nature was not truly voluptuous. As if the heat of the sun and the scent of the meadows did not invite sensual pleasure?
I am not unaware, certainly, of the reasons for your attitude. And I know its origin. The Christian poison flows in your veins. The Christian virus infects you cerebrally. The kingdom of your Master is not of this world. And you are his subjects. Yes, you, socialists, revolutionaries, anarchists, who swallow without batting an eye a hundred columns of estimates for demolition or social construction, but that two hundred lines of appeal to voluptuous experience “obsess”—that is to say “scandalize.”
Oh, slaves! 
 [Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised 3/17/2012]

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Emile Armand, “Our Rule of Ideological Conduct” (1922)

OUR RULE OF IDEOLOGICAL CONDUCT
Manifesto of the journal L’En-Dehors
Émile Armand
1922

Everywhere, individualists of our tendency wish to establish — now and at all times — a human milieu founded on the individual act, in which, without any control, intervention, or intrusion of the State, all individuals can, whether isolated or associated, govern their affairs among themselves, by means of free agreements, voidable on notice, no matter what the activity, whether the association be the work of a single person or of a collectivity. Their voluntary associations are unions of comrades, based on the exercise of reciprocity or “equal liberty.”

The individualists of our sort consider as their adversaries all the institutions and all the individualities that, directly or by intermediaries, wish to subject them to their authority and use violence against them, in other words, all the partisans of imposed contracts. They reserve the right to defend themselves against them by all the means at their disposal, including deception.

The individualists of our sort oppose sentimental-sexual jealousy, bodily propertarianism and exclusivism in love, which they regard as authoritarian manifestations, if not psychopathic behavior. They propagate the thesis of “amorous camaraderie.” They claim every sexual freedom (as long as they are not sullied by violence, misrepresentation, fraud or venality) including the rights of education, publicity, variation, fancy and association.

E. ARMAND

Manifesto of the journal L’En-Dehors

Originally published as “Notre ligne de conduite idéologique.”

Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur (revised 12/14/2011)

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Emile Armand, “On Sexual Liberty” (1916)

ON SEXUAL LIBERTY
 
Emile Armand
Before explaining our notion of “sexual liberty,” I think it is necessary to define liberty itself. We all know that liberty could not be an end, for there is no absolute liberty. Just as there is no general truth, practically speaking, except what exists in particular verities, there is no general liberty. There are only particular, individual liberties. It is not possible to escape certain contingencies. One cannot be free, for example, to not breathe or digest… Liberty is only a abstraction, like Truth, Purity, Goodness, Equality, etc. And an abstraction cannot be an end.
Considered, instead, from the particular point of view, liberty ceases to be an abstraction, and becomes a way, a means, and will be understood. It is thus that we call for the freedom of thought, which is to say the power, without external hindrance, to express thoughts in speech or in writing, in the manner in which they present themselves in the mind. It is the complete expression of thought which is the goal we pursue, and not liberty.
It is precisely because there are only particular liberties that we can, departing from the realm of the abstract, place ourselves on solid ground and affirm “our needs and our desires”—much better than “our rights,” which is an abstract and arbitrary expression—stifled, mangled or distorted by various sorts of authorities.
Intellectual life, artistic life, economic life, sexual life—we demand for all these the liberty to manifest themselves freely, in individuals, with an eye to the liberty of individuals, apart from the legalistic conceptions and prejudices of religious or civil order. We demand for them, these great rivers where human activity flows, the freedom to run without obstacles,—without the locks of “moralityism” or the dams of “traditionalism” troubling or miring their course. All in all, it is better to have the liberties, with their impetuous errors, their nervous jolts, their impulsive “lack of perspective,” than the authorities, immobile façades, frozen gates before which we wilt and die. Between life out of doors and life in the cellar, we choose the outdoor life.
*
*    *
When we call for “sexual liberty”—what do we mean? Do we mean “freedom to rape” or debauchery? Do we desire the annihilation of sentiment in love-lives, the disappearance of attachment, tenderness and affection? Do we glorify unthinking promiscuity or animalistic sexual satisfaction, at any time and place? Not at all. In calling for sexual liberty, we simply demand the possibility for every individual to dispose, as they wish and in all the circumstances of their sexual lifeaccording to the variations of temperament, sentiment, and reason which are peculiar to them.
Thus we do not demand the liberty to “rape.” Attention: their sexual life does not imply the sexual life of another. Neither do we demand a liberty of sexual life which would precede any sexual education. On the contrary, we believe that, gradually, in the period preceding puberty, the human being should be left ignorant of nothing that concerns sexual life,—the inevitable attraction of the sexes—whether that sexual life is considered from the sentimental, emotional or physiological point of view. We believe that advanced minds should take it to heart to recommend and propagate that education, to never let an occasion escape to engage in it; we think that from the moment that we have just indicated, not only should the human being know what delights—sentimental, emotional, and physical—the sexual life holds, but also what responsibilities it leads to. Both sexes should be led to understand, for example, that it is up to the woman to choose the hour of conception. And neither sex should be ignorant of the means of contraception. Following my thought to its logical conclusions, I would say that in a society which had not made it possible for its female constituents to refuse or avert an undesired pregnancy, those constituents would be perfectly justified in leaving their progeny to the care of the collectivity.
We do not separate the “liberty of the sexual life” from “sexual education.”
*
*    *
Contrary to the prejudices of the religious or civil orders, we treat the sexual question like the intellectual question, like all the questions raised by human activity. Just as the experiences of life, taken as a whole, appear necessary to us, so do experiences in that particular phase of life that is sexual life seem indispensible. We declare it an “absurdity” for a young boy or girl of sixteen years to be bound for life in marriage, and yet nothing appears more natural than a being of that age maintaining sexual relations with another, of the emotional or physical sort. Moreover, the sexual life from fifteen to twenty years of age differs from the sexual life consider at thirty-five or in the autumn of life. Sexual life is so complicated that the existence of multiple simultaneous experiences of sexual life is easily comprehensible, since in each experience, sometimes it is the sentimental or emotional side which dominates, sometimes the emotional or sensual side, and sometimes is the element of pure physical satisfaction. From experience to experience, the degrees of moral, emotional or voluptuous sensations vary so strangely that we can conclude from it that no experience resembles that which preceded it, or is pursued similarly.
We do not normally pursue identical experiences.
We do not exclude intense, voluptuous, sensual pleasure from those experiences; we put it on the same plane as intense intellectual pleasure (artistic, literary, etc.), moral pleasure, and economic pleasure. We consider those who place it on some lesser plane to be paltry moralists, morally mutilated. None of the experiences of life are inferior, except those caused by the fear of life or the imbalance of the will. Now, normal voluptuousness—whether it is the enjoyment of a splendid landscape or an intensely lived sensual experience—engenders, on the contrary, love of life and exercise of the will.
*
*    *
Thus “liberty of sexual life” is not synonymous with “debauchery,” otherwise known as “loss of moral equilibrium.” Sexual liberty is exclusively of the individual order. It presupposes an education of the will, which permits each to determine for themselves the point where they will cease to be master of their passions or penchants, an education perhaps much more instinctive than it appears at first look. Like all liberties, that of the sexual life involves an effort, not of abstinence—(in fact, abstention from the experiences of life is a mark of moral insufficiency, as debauchery is a sign of moral weakness)—but of judgment, discernment, and classification. In other words, it is not so much a question of the quantity or number of experiments as of the quality of the experimenter. To conclude, liberty of the sexual life remains united, in our mind, with a preparatory sexual education and a power of individual determination.
Liberty of sexual life in all circumstances, of course: in or out of union… If it is true that sexual experiences differ from one another, how can jealousy—a morbid attitude of love—exist? Can an individual, subject or object of an experience, reasonably bemoan the lack of necessary qualifications which makes one of their fellows the subject or object of another experience? Sentimental experience is one thing, sensual experience another, and the choice of a procreator yet another. It could be that the individual that a woman chooses as a procreator would not be the one for whom she feels the most affection, and that she seeks in the one certain physical qualities to which she is indifferent in the other. Could the one be reasonably jealous of the other?…
*
*    *
Let’s finish. By replacing the emotional phenomena among the experiences of ordinary life, we do not at all wish to diminish the importance of the factor “love” in human existence. We think that an experience can be experienced seriously, profoundly, intensely, but that we would be spared many disenchantments and sufferings if a number of the facts of life, instead of being considered as definitive, appeared as temporary, modifiable, revisable— essentially variable. This is accepted from the scientific point of view—from the intellectual point of view—from all points of view,—and we can’t comprehend how it would be otherwise from the sentimental, emotional or sexual point of view. It is not enough for us that this idea be adopted hypocritically and practiced clandestinely. We demand for the research and practice of sexual liberty the same broad daylight as for those of other liberties, persuaded that its development and evolution are linked not only to the increase of individual and collective happiness, but also in large part to the disappearance of the present state of things.
Moreover, we do not declare ourselves more in favor of unicity or plurality in love than we are against either; and it could well be that, in a given couple, one of the partners will practice unicity while the other practices plurality. And it could be that, after some time, unicity could appear preferable to plurality or vice-versa. These are individual questions. What we are asking is that we cease to qualify experience as more or less legitimate, depending on whether it is simple or unique. We also ask that we instruct all individuals on these things, and that fathers, mothers, or partners not profit from their privileged situation, to keep their knowledge hidden from those who are obliged to trust them. To each then, education, to determine their sexual life as they intend, to vary its experiences or to hold themselves to one alone: in a word, to proceed “at will.”
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised 3/17/2012]

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Emile Armand, “A Little Manual of the Individualist Anarchist” (1911)

A LITTLE MANUAL OF THE 
INDIVIDUALIST ANARCHIST
Emile Armand
(1911)
I
To be an anarchist is to deny authority and reject its economic corollary: exploitation—and to reject it in every domain of human activity. The anarchist wishes to live without gods or masters; without bosses or directors; a-legal, without laws and without prejudices; amoral, without obligations and without collective morality. He wants to live freely, to live his own idea of life. In his heart of hearts, he is always asocial, insubordinate, an outsider, marginal, an exception, a misfit. And obliged as he is to live in a society the constitution of which is repugnant to his temperament, he dwells there as a foreigner. If he makes unavoidable concessions to his environment—always with the intention of taking them back—in order to avoid risking or sacrificing his life foolishly or uselessly, it is because he considers these concessions weapons of personal defense in the struggle for existence. The anarchist wishes to live his life, as much as possible—morally, intellectually, and economically—without concerning himself with the rest of the world, exploiters or exploited, without wanting to dominate or to exploit others, but ready to respond by all means against whomever would interfere in his life or would prevent him from expressing his thought by the pen or by speech.
The anarchist’s enemies are the State and all its institutions, which tend to maintain or to perpetuate its stranglehold on the individual. There is no possibility of conciliation between the anarchist and any form whatever of society resting on authority, whether it emanates from an autocrat, from an aristocracy, or from a democracy. No common ground is possible between the anarchist and any environment regulated by the decisions of a majority or the wishes of an elite. The anarchist combats, for the same reasons, the teaching furnished by the State and that dispensed by the Church. He is the adversary of monopolies and of privileges, whether they are of the intellectual, moral or economic order. In a word, he is the irreconcilable antagonist of every regime, of every social system, of every state of things that involves the domination of other men or the environment over the individual, and of the exploitation of the individual by another or by the group.
The work of the anarchist is above all a work of critique. The anarchist goes, sowing revolt against that which oppresses, obstructs, or opposes itself to the free expansion of the individual being. It is proper first to rid brains of preconceived ideas, to put at liberty temperaments enchained by fear, to give rise to mindsets free from popular opinion and social conventions; it is thus that the anarchist will push all comers to go along with him to rebel practically against the determinism of the social environment, to affirm themselves individually, to sculpt their internal image, to render themselves, as much as possible, independent of the moral, intellectual and economic environment. He will urge the ignorant to instruct themselves, the nonchalant to react, the feeble to become strong, the bent to straighten. He will push the poorly endowed and less apt to draw from themselves all the resources they can and not to rely on others.
In these regards, an abyss separates anarchism from all forms of socialism, including syndicalism.
The anarchist places at the base of all his conceptions of life: the individual act. And that is why he willingly calls himself anarchist-individualist.
He does not believe that the evils men suffer come exclusively from capitalism or from private property. He believes that they are due above all to the defective mentality of men, taken as a bloc. There are only masters because there are slaves and the gods only remain because the faithful kneel. The individualist anarchist has little interest in a violent revolution, aiming for a transformation of the mode of distribution of products in the collectivist or communist sense, which would hardly bring about a change in the general mentality and which would not bring about the emancipation of the individual being at all. In a communist regime the individual would be as subordinate as he is presently to the good will of those surrounding him: he would find himself as poor, as miserable as he is now; instead of being under the thumb of the small capitalist minority of the present, he would be dominated by the whole of the economy. Nothing would properly belong to him. He would be a producer or a consumer, put a little or take a bit from the communal heap, but he would never be autonomous.
II
The individualist-anarchist differentiates himself from the anarchist-communist in the sense that he considers (apart from property in some objects of enjoyment extending from the personality) property in the means of production and the free disposition of products as essential guarantees of the autonomy of the person. It is understood that this property is limited by the possibility of putting to work (individually, by couples, by familial groups, etc.) the expanse of soil or the engines of production required to meet the necessities of the social unit; with the condition that the possessor not rent it to anyone or turn to someone in his service to put it into use.
The individualist-anarchist no more intends to live at any price—as an individualist exploiter, for example—than he would live under regulation, provided that he was assured a bowl of soup, and guaranteed a dwelling and some clothing.
The individualist-anarchist, moreover, does not claim any system which would bind future relations. He claims to place himself in a state of legitimate defense against every social atmosphere (State, society, milieu, grouping, etc.) which would allow, accept, perpetuate, sanction or render possible:
a) the subordination of the individual being to the environment, placing the individual in a state of obvious inferiority, since he cannot treat with the collective totality as equal to equal, and power to power;
b) the obligation (in whatever domain) of mutual aid, of solidarity, or of association;
c) the deprivation of the individual of the inalienable possession of the means of production and the complete and unrestricted disposition of the product of his labors;
d) the exploitation of anyone by any one of his fellows, who would make him labor on his account and for his profit;
e) monopolization, i.e. the possibility of an individual, a couple, a familial group possessing more than is necessary for its normal upkeep;
f) the monopoly of the State or of any executive form replacing it, i.e., its intervention—in its role as centralizer, administrator, director, or organizer—in the relations between individuals, in whatever domain;
g) the loan at interest, usury, agio, money-changing, inheritance, etc., etc.
III
The individualist-anarchist makes “propaganda” in order to highlight individualist-anarchist dispositions which have been ignore, or at the very least to bring about an intellectual atmosphere favorable to their appearance. Between individualist-anarchists relations are established on the basis of “reciprocity.” “Camaraderie” is essentially of the individual order[ it is never imposed. Those “comrade” whom it pleases him to associate with, will be those who make an appreciable effort to feel life in themselves, who share in his propaganda of educational critique and his choice of persons; who respect the mode of existence of each individual, and do not interfere with the development of those who march forward with him and who touch him the most closely.
The individualist-anarchist is never the slave of a formula-type or of a received text. He admits only opinions. He proposes only theses. He does not impose an end on himself. If he adopts one method of life on one point of detail, it is in order to assure himself more liberty, more happiness, more well-being, but certainly not order to sacrifice himself to it. And he modifies it, and transforms it when it appears to him that to continue to remain faithful to it would diminish his autonomy. He does not want to let himself be dominated by principles established a priori; it is a posteriori, on his experiences, that he bases his rule of conduct, never definitive, always subject to the modifications and to the transformations that new experiences can suggest, and to the necessity of acquiring new weapons in his struggle against the environment—without making an absolute of the a priori.
The individualist-anarchist is never accountable to anyone but himself for his acts and deeds.
The individualist-anarchist considers association only as an expedient, a makeshift. Thus, he wants to associate only in cases of urgency—and always voluntarily. And he only desires to contract, in general, for the short term, it being always understood that every contract can be voided as soon as it harms either one of the contracting parties.
The individualist-anarchist decrees no fixed sexual morality. It is up to each to determine his sexual, affective or sentimental life, as much for one sex as for the other. What is essential is that in intimate relations between anarchists of differing sexes neither violence nor constraint take place. He thinks that economic independence and the possibility of being a mother as she pleases are the initial conditions for the emancipation of woman.
The individualist-anarchist wants to live, wants to be able to appreciate life individually—life considered in all its manifestations. He remains meanwhile master of his will, considering his knowledge, his faculties, his senses, and the multiple organs of perception of his body as so many servitors put at the disposition of his self. He is not a coward, but he does not want to diminish himself. And he knows well that he who allows himself to be led by his passions or dominated by his penchants is a slave. He wants to maintain “the mastery of the self” in order to advance towards the adventures to which independent research and free study lead him. He will willingly advocate a simple life, the renunciation of false, enslaving, useless needs; avoidance of the large cities; a rational diet and bodily hygiene.
The individualist-anarchist will interest himself in the associations formed by certain comrades with an eye to ridding themselves of obsession with a milieu which disgusts them. The refusal of military service, or of paying taxes will have all his sympathy; free unions, single or plural, as a protestation against ordinary morals; illegalism as the violent rupture (and with certain reservations) of an economic contract imposed by force; abstention from every action, from every labor, from every function involving the maintenance or consolidation of the imposed intellectual, ethical or economic regime; the exchange of vital products between individualist-anarchist possessors of the necessary engines of production, apart from every capitalist intermediary; etc., are acts of revolt agreeing essentially with the character of individualist-anarchism.
[Revised translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Emile Armand’s Individualist Anarchist Initiation

I’ve started posting consecutive sections from Emile Armand’s The Individualist Anarchist Initiation on the Libertarian Library blog. I started translating back in October, with the section on reciprocity, and promised at that point to begin at the beginning and work my way through the book. A number of things have intervened, most of them exciting and worthwhile, like the Bakunin project (about which there should be more news soonish), but here we go:
It’s a big book, with 279 numbered sections, and an introduction, which range from a paragraph to several pages in length. I’ll undoubtedly be skipping around a bit, just to keep up the translation pace, but at least for the time being I’ll be posting completed sections to the blog in order.

It’s been nice to see the enthusiasm with which the translations of Armand have been met. A friend and fellow-translator informs me that a short collection of Armand translations is due out soon, and Armand’s name was at the center of several recent conversations about collaborative translation, so perhaps we can finally start to make a real start at making his extensive body of writing available in English.

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E. Armand’s “Little Manual of the Individualist Anarchist” (revised)

My translation of Emile Armand’s “Mini-Manual” was a fairly early effort, and I’ve been meaning to get a revised translation posted for some time now. I originally tackled the sections that had not been published by Larry Gambone much more out of curiosity than deep interest. As I’ve mentioned, I’ve done a number of translations of Armand’s work without quite convincing myself of his importance. But, having finally dipped into his Individualist Anarchist Initiation, and finding it extremely interesting, I decided it was time to take a few hours to work over the “Mini-Manual.” There are a couple of real awful errors fixed, and I think the article now more closely reflects the approach and language of Armand’s more developed work.
A LITTLE MANUAL OF THE 
INDIVIDUALIST ANARCHIST
Emile Armand
(1911)
I
To be an anarchist is to deny authority and reject its economic corollary: exploitation—and to reject it in every domain of human activity. The anarchist wishes to live without gods or masters; without bosses or directors; a-legal, without laws and without prejudices; amoral, without obligations and without collective morality. He wants to live freely, to live his own idea of life. In his heart of hearts, he is always asocial, insubordinate, an outsider, marginal, an exception, a misfit. And obliged as he is to live in a society the constitution of which is repugnant to his temperament, he dwells there as a foreigner. If he makes unavoidable concessions to his environment—always with the intention of taking them back—in order to avoid risking or sacrificing his life foolishly or uselessly, it is because he considers these concessions weapons of personal defense in the struggle for existence. The anarchist wishes to live his life, as much as possible—morally, intellectually, and economically—without concerning himself with the rest of the world, exploiters or exploited, without wanting to dominate or to exploit others, but ready to respond by all means against whomever would interfere in his life or would prevent him from expressing his thought by the pen or by speech.
The anarchist’s enemies are the State and all its institutions, which tend to maintain or to perpetuate its stranglehold on the individual. There is no possibility of conciliation between the anarchist and any form whatever of society resting on authority, whether it emanates from an autocrat, from an aristocracy, or from a democracy. No common ground is possible between the anarchist and any environment regulated by the decisions of a majority or the wishes of an elite. The anarchist combats, for the same reasons, the teaching furnished by the State and that dispensed by the Church. He is the adversary of monopolies and of privileges, whether they are of the intellectual, moral or economic order. In a word, he is the irreconcilable antagonist of every regime, of every social system, of every state of things that involves the domination of other men or the environment over the individual, and of the exploitation of the individual by another or by the group.
The work of the anarchist is above all a work of critique. The anarchist goes, sowing revolt against that which oppresses, obstructs, or opposes itself to the free expansion of the individual being. It is proper first to rid brains of preconceived ideas, to put at liberty temperaments enchained by fear, to give rise to mindsets free from popular opinion and social conventions; it is thus that the anarchist will push all comers to go along with him to rebel practically against the determinism of the social environment, to affirm themselves individually, to sculpt their internal image, to render themselves, as much as possible, independent of the moral, intellectual and economic environment. He will urge the ignorant to instruct themselves, the nonchalant to react, the feeble to become strong, the bent to straighten. He will push the poorly endowed and less apt to draw from themselves all the resources they can and not to rely on others.
In these regards, an abyss separates anarchism from all forms of socialism, including syndicalism.
The anarchist places at the base of all his conceptions of life: the individual act. And that is why he willingly calls himself anarchist-individualist.
He does not believe that the evils men suffer come exclusively from capitalism or from private property. He believes that they are due above all to the defective mentality of men, taken as a bloc. There are only masters because there are slaves and the gods only remain because the faithful kneel. The individualist anarchist has little interest in a violent revolution, aiming for a transformation of the mode of distribution of products in the collectivist or communist sense, which would hardly bring about a change in the general mentality and which would not bring about the emancipation of the individual being at all. In a communist regime the individual would be as subordinate as he is presently to the good will of those surrounding him: he would find himself as poor, as miserable as he is now; instead of being under the thumb of the small capitalist minority of the present, he would be dominated by the whole of the economy. Nothing would properly belong to him. He would be a producer or a consumer, put a little or take a bit from the communal heap, but he would never be autonomous.
II
The individualist-anarchist differentiates himself from the anarchist-communist in the sense that he considers (apart from property in some objects of enjoyment extending from the personality) property in the means of production and the free disposition of products as essential guarantees of the autonomy of the person. It is understood that this property is limited by the possibility of putting to work (individually, by couples, by familial groups, etc.) the expanse of soil or the engines of production required to meet the necessities of the social unit; with the condition that the possessor not rent it to anyone or turn to someone in his service to put it into use.
The individualist-anarchist no more intends to live at any price—as an individualist exploiter, for example—than he would live under regulation, provided that he was assured a bowl of soup, and guaranteed a dwelling and some clothing.
The individualist-anarchist, moreover, does not claim any system which would bind future relations. He claims to place himself in a state of legitimate defense against every social atmosphere (State, society, milieu, grouping, etc.) which would allow, accept, perpetuate, sanction or render possible:
a) the subordination of the individual being to the environment, placing the individual in a state of obvious inferiority, since he cannot treat with the collective totality as equal to equal, and power to power;
b) the obligation (in whatever domain) of mutual aid, of solidarity, or of association;
c) the deprivation of the individual of the inalienable possession of the means of production and the complete and unrestricted disposition of the product of his labors;
d) the exploitation of anyone by any one of his fellows, who would make him labor on his account and for his profit;
e) monopolization, i.e. the possibility of an individual, a couple, a familial group possessing more than is necessary for its normal upkeep;
f) the monopoly of the State or of any executive form replacing it, i.e., its intervention—in its role as centralizer, administrator, director, or organizer—in the relations between individuals, in whatever domain;
g) the loan at interest, usury, agio, money-changing, inheritance, etc., etc.
III
The individualist-anarchist makes “propaganda” in order to highlight individualist-anarchist dispositions which have been ignore, or at the very least to bring about an intellectual atmosphere favorable to their appearance. Between individualist-anarchists relations are established on the basis of “reciprocity.” “Camaraderie” is essentially of the individual order[ it is never imposed. Those “comrade” whom it pleases him to associate with, will be those who make an appreciable effort to feel life in themselves, who share in his propaganda of educational critique and his choice of persons; who respect the mode of existence of each individual, and do not interfere with the development of those who march forward with him and who touch him the most closely.
The individualist-anarchist is never the slave of a formula-type or of a received text. He admits only opinions. He proposes only theses. He does not impose an end on himself. If he adopts one method of life on one point of detail, it is in order to assure himself more liberty, more happiness, more well-being, but certainly not order to sacrifice himself to it. And he modifies it, and transforms it when it appears to him that to continue to remain faithful to it would diminish his autonomy. He does not want to let himself be dominated by principles established a priori; it is a posteriori, on his experiences, that he bases his rule of conduct, never definitive, always subject to the modifications and to the transformations that new experiences can suggest, and to the necessity of acquiring new weapons in his struggle against the environment—without making an absolute of the a priori.
The individualist-anarchist is never accountable to anyone but himself for his acts and deeds.
The individualist-anarchist considers association only as an expedient, a makeshift. Thus, he wants to associate only in cases of urgency—and always voluntarily. And he only desires to contract, in general, for the short term, it being always understood that every contract can be voided as soon as it harms either one of the contracting parties.
The individualist-anarchist decrees no fixed sexual morality. It is up to each to determine his sexual, affective or sentimental life, as much for one sex as for the other. What is essential is that in intimate relations between anarchists of differing sexes neither violence nor constraint take place. He thinks that economic independence and the possibility of being a mother as she pleases are the initial conditions for the emancipation of woman.
The individualist-anarchist wants to live, wants to be able to appreciate life individually—life considered in all its manifestations. He remains meanwhile master of his will, considering his knowledge, his faculties, his senses, and the multiple organs of perception of his body as so many servitors put at the disposition of his self. He is not a coward, but he does not want to diminish himself. And he knows well that he who allows himself to be led by his passions or dominated by his penchants is a slave. He wants to maintain “the mastery of the self” in order to advance towards the adventures to which independent research and free study lead him. He will willingly advocate a simple life, the renunciation of false, enslaving, useless needs; avoidance of the large cities; a rational diet and bodily hygiene.
The individualist-anarchist will interest himself in the associations formed by certain comrades with an eye to ridding themselves of obsession with a milieu which disgusts them. The refusal of military service, or of paying taxes will have all his sympathy; free unions, single or plural, as a protestation against ordinary morals; illegalism as the violent rupture (and with certain reservations) of an economic contract imposed by force; abstention from every action, from every labor, from every function involving the maintenance or consolidation of the imposed intellectual, ethical or economic regime; the exchange of vital products between individualist-anarchist possessors of the necessary engines of production, apart from every capitalist intermediary; etc., are acts of revolt agreeing essentially with the character of individualist-anarchism.
[Revised translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Solidarity – from Emile Armand’s “Individualist Anarchist Initiation”

Emile Armand’s Individualist Anarchist Initiation has jumped to the front of the translating queue, and I was fortunate enough to track down a 2nd edition bound copy (Editions de L’En Dehors, 1923) through a bookseller in France, so I’ll be able to double-check transcription, formatting, etc. It pains me a little to push back work on Joseph Déjacque’s L’Humanisphère, Utopie anarchique again, just as I was starting to settle back into it. It’s a wonderful work, in many ways, but probably, for better or worse, much further from the concerns of most contemporary readers than Armand’s book. Also, as I am gradually shifting the emphasis of my own research from individualism to association, it seems useful to make more broadly available another example (comparable in that sense to James L. Walker’s Philosophy of Egoism) of a very social sort of individualism, based in large part on Stirner’s egoism.

At some point this week, I’ll head back to the start of Armand’s text and begin to translate the sections roughly in order, but since I am overdue to make some clarifications about “reciprocity” and the Golden Rule, I thought it would be useful to first introduce Armand’s discussions of “solidarity” and “reciprocity.” This installment covers about half of the section on “solidarity.”


16. Solidarity. Sociability. Camaraderie.


165) Obligatory solidarity.
Mystics, legalists, socialists, and communists, write and hold forth about a solidarity which would link all people: these because they accept the unwarranted affirmation that “God” is the father of the human race, those because the law is the bond which unites men since it allows them to live in society, and others because production and consumption are so inextricably linked that the producer is indispensable to the consumer and vice-versa. “God”, the law or economic fact, it is always necessary to bow and obey.

166) The individualists and imposed solidarity.
The individualist anarchist does not bow and, coldly, faithfully, they submit this formidable argument to critique: compulsory solidarity amounts to no solidarity at all.

“I have discovered,” he says, “that, come through the play of a natural phenomena, in the society of men, I found myself, from the beginning, faced with moral, intellectual, and economic conditions to which I had to submit without being able to dispute them. I did not ask to be born, which did not prevent that from my most tender infancy, institutions and persons, everything has been in league to condition me to be a resigned and solidary component of the social environment. In the family, at school, in the barracks and the factory, everyone told me that I should be in solidarity with my fellows. In solidarity with my parents, even when they prevented me by force from going to meet the girl towards whom I felt myself attracted; in solidarity with the school teacher who held me in the classroom for long hours in the summer, while outside the flowers bloomed and the birds twittered; in solidarity with the corporal or sergeant who imposed on me painful drudgery, repulsive exercises; in solidarity with the boss for whom each our of my labor increases the income along with the well-being… Thus I understand that “solidarity” means “slavery”.

“Later, a little more reflection taught me that I was as much a slave to those that chance had placed in circumstances better than mine as I was to those whose conditions we worse. The penniless person who cheers the passing regiment, the guard who keeps the unfortunate in prison, the worker who informs on his comrades in order to make foreman, the police officer who uses all sorts of ruses to deprive his fellows of freedom, the peasant who eyes me with contempt because I prefer to stroll along the byways rather than breathe the stinking air of the factories, the syndicalist who would willingly expel me from my work because I refuse to register with the workerist association to which he belongs – all these beings maintained that I was solidary with them, that it is for them and with them that I should think, work, produce, that is to say, devote the best of my faculties.

“I have reacted. To that terrifying determinism of the social environment, I have opposed my personal determinism. I refuse to accept gladly a solidarity of which it would be impossible for me to feel the bases, to negotiate the conditions or to foresee the consequences. I maintain that where solidarity is imposed on me, it is null, and that I am not required to observe it. In vain the “excessive” solidarists will object to me that the devout peasant, the radical tailor, the socialist postal employee, the bonapartist baker, the communist laborer, the jingoistic sailor are are necessary to my life: that they contribute, anonymously or not, directly or not, to furnish me the utilities without which I could not subsist. I respond to them that in the conditions under which society currently evolves, these different members of the social milieu social are not only producers, they are voters or members of political parties, sometimes members of juries, often progenitors of magistrates, and officials; of exploiters each time that they can; they are partisans of authority who employ their own moral or intellectual authority to maintain or cause to be maintained, by delegation, the regime of forced solidarity.

“I do not feel myself at all in solidarity with those who contribute to maintain domination and exploitation, I am not more in solidarity with whoever perpetuates the survival of prejudices which hinder individual development; I am not in solidarity with the harmful consumers nor useless producers; I am presently in solidarity with them only because I have been forced to be and each time that I find the occasion to escape from that constraint, take advantage of it.

“No, I am not in solidarity with those who, by their approval, silence or resignation, continues to maintain conditions of being or doing involving coercion or exploitation, little matter in what form. Those who differ from me in this regard are not individualists.

“I do not reject all solidarity a priori and stubbornly. I simply refuse solidarity with those whose efforts run counter to my plan: to live the present moment in full liberty, without infringing on the liberty of others. I would reject a priori solidarity even even with those of my dearest friends accomplishing deeds about which they have not consulted me and results of which I have had no part. It is a posteriori – having all the background information in hand – that I want to declare myself in solidarity with beings who do not live by my side or acts which are committed without my participation, near or far.

“That does not mean that I do not feel myself generally in solidarity with all the deniers of authority, with all the rebels, against exploitation, with all the critics of established facts and res judicata: with the individualist anarchists, finally. Where I will separate myself from them, is if they want to compel me to accept responsibility for forms of struggle or propaganda which are not my own. Of solidarity, I only know what I have accepted, debated, and consented to, having first examined it consciously. I am in solidarity only with those who think about solidarity as I do.”

History shows us that the concept of imposed “solidarity” has particularly served to create dogmas or to give rise to despots. To render solidarity concrete and effective between beings that are not associated by temperament, or interest, requires Religion or Law; in order that the relations that they determine between persons do not remain a dead letter, there must be executives of religion of of law, priests or magistrates. Whoever voluntarily accepts the obligation of solidarity or the constraint of mutual aid belongs to the world of authority.

167) Voluntary Solidarity.
In summary, the individualists tend to accept no solidarity but what they have weighed, desired, examined, discussed. They will attempt to make it so that the solidarity that they accept never binds them. And free themselves from it as soon as they perceive that its practice leads them to accomplish acts which do not suit them, or to take on responsibilities for which they have no taste. In all domains, a single preoccupation dominates their thought: will I personally gain, from the path on which I am engaged, more liberty to be and to do, without depriving another of their liberty to think or act? The manner in which they will tend to determine their lives, and all the acts existence, will depend on the answer to this question.

168) Imposed solidarity.
The human is a sociable being and the individualist, who is part of the human race, is no exception. The human being is not sociable by accident, since its physiological organization constrains it to seek, in order to complete itself, to reproduce, one of its fellows of a different sex. In a general manner, we can however state that humans practice sociability without reflection or under duress: at school, in the barracks, and later at the factory, they live a large part of their existence in common with individuals towards whom no affinity attracts them, beside whom no sympathy holds them. In the cities, they gîtent in immense edifices, another sort of barracks, door to door with neighbors to whom no intellectual or moral tie links them. We even marry without knowing one another, without any knowledge of our respective needs.

169) The individualist anarchists considered as a “species.”
Now, that is not what the individualist anarchists want. They no more intend to be slaves of imposed sociability than they do of placing themselves under the yoke of forced solidarity. They can associate with their comrades, with the individualists, with those of their world, of their “species.” “With those of their species” is certainly the appropriate expression, for we would not deny that the individualists form a species within the human race recognizable by well determined psychological traits. The individuals who, consciously, reject domination and exploitation of all sorts, live or tend to live without gods or masters, seeking to reproduce themselves in other beings in order to perpetuate their species and continue their intellectual or practical labor, their work of simultaneous emancipation and destruction; these individuals form a separate species, in the human race, a species as different from the other human species as, in the canine tribe, the Newfoundland is from the pug.

Listen to us well, it is not a question of making the individualist anarchist a “superman” among humans, any more than it is a question of making the Newfoundland a “superdog” among dogs. There is a difference, however: the Newfoundland is a fixed type which will not evolve; the individualist type will evolve: it fulfills, in the human race, the role that the prophetic species have played in the evolution of living beings. We can compare it to those more gifted and vigorous types, more fit for the struggle for life, that appear at a certain moment within a species and end up determining the future of that species. With their imperfections, their shortcomings, their errors, the individualist anarchists constitute, we believe, in the latent state, the type of the future human: the individual of free spirit, sound body, educated will, ready for adventure, inclined to experiment, living life fully, but not wanting to be either dominated or a dominator.

170) Mutual aid within the species. Camaraderie.
The individualist is not then isolated within his species. Among themselves, the individualists practice “camaraderie;” like all species in constant peril of being attacked, they tend instinctively to the practice of “mutual aid within the species.” We will return later to certain of the forms that this “mutual aid” can assume. The tendency is toward the disappearance of avoidable suffering within the species: there is not any comrade who, on the contrary, would tend to prolong or increase the suffering among their fellows.

The individualists urge whoever will to go along with them to rebel practically against the determinism of the social environment, to assert themselves individually, to sculpt their internal statue, to render themselves as independent of the moral, intellectual and economic environment as possible. They will press the ignorant to educate themselves, the apathetic to respond, the weak to become strong, the bent to raise themselves up. They will push the poorly endowed and less able to draw to themselves all possible resources and not to relay on others.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Emile Armand on Sensual Pleasure

This short piece by Emile Armand appeared with his essay “On Sexual Liberty.”

VARIATIONS ON VOLUPTUOUSNESS
I know that sensual pleasure is a subject about which you do not like people to speak or to write. Dealing with it shocks you. Or it provokes a joke in bad taste among you. You have books in your libraries which embrace nearly all the branches of human activity. You possess dictionaries and encyclopedias. You count perhaps a hundred volumes on one specialty of manual production. And I do not speak of political or sociological books. But there is not on your shelves a single work consecrated to sensual pleasure. There are some journals concerned with numismatics, philately, heraldry, angling or lawn bowling. The least of the poetic or artistic tendencies has its organ. The tiniest chapel of an ism has its bulletin. The novels of love abound. And we find brochures and books concerned with free love or sexual hygiene. But not one periodical devoted to sensual pleasure frankly considered, without insinuations. As one of the sources of the effort to live. As a felicity. As a stimulant in the struggle for existence. Long studies unroll on the techniques of painting, and sculpture—on the working of wood, stone, and metals. But I search in vain for documented articles which consider sensual pleasure as an art—which exhibit its ancient refinements—which propose novel ones. It is not that pleasure leaves you indifferent. But it is only clandestinely, in the shadows, behind closed doors that you discuss or debate it. As if nature was not truly voluptuous. As if the heat of the sun and the scent of the meadows did not invite sensual pleasure?
I am not unaware, certainly, of the reasons for your attitude. And I know its origin. The Christian poison flows in your veins. The Christian virus infects you cerebrally. The kingdom of your Master is not of this world. And you are his subjects. Yes, you, socialists, revolutionaries, anarchists, who swallow without batting an eye a hundred columns of estimates for demolition or social construction, but that two hundred lines of appeal to voluptuous experience “obsess”—that is to say “scandalize.”
Oh, slaves! 
 [Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised 3/17/2012]

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Emile Armand, “On Sexual Liberty”

In the past, I’ve translated a number of short essays by Emile Armand, and thoroughly enjoyed reading several more, without entirely convincing myself that Armand is an important anarchist figure. The brand of Nietzschean individualism featured in the “Mini-Manual of the Individualist Anarchist” is interesting and sometimes suggestive. His writings on naturism and “amorous camaraderie” really do illuminate aspects of European individualist anarchism that are largely unknown to American anarchists. When I ran across his “De la liberté sexuelle” (published in 1916 in the corrected 2nd edition I worked from), it struck me as a useful bit of anarchist theory, but as I began to check some possible errors in my copy of the French text, I found something a lot more exciting—a version of the essay incorporated into Armand’s L’Initiation individualiste anarchiste, a lengthy 1923 account of individualist anarchism in all its facets. I spent part of today reading through chapters on reciprocity, contract, guarantyism, and equal liberty. On the basis of a quick survey, I’m inclined to think the this Individualist-Anarchist Initiation may well be a rather important text from the individualist anarchist tradition. I’ll start presenting some other sections in translation soon. For now, here is Armand’s essay:

 

ON SEXUAL LIBERTY
Before explaining our notion of “sexual liberty,” I think it is necessary to define liberty itself. We all know that liberty could not be an end, for there is no absolute liberty. Just as there is no general truth, practically speaking, except what exists in particular verities, there is no general liberty. There are only particular, individual liberties. It is not possible to escape certain contingencies. One cannot be free, for example, to not breathe or digest… Liberty is only a abstraction, like Truth, Purity, Goodness, Equality, etc. And an abstraction cannot be an end.
Considered, instead, from the particular point of view, liberty ceases to be an abstraction, and becomes a way, a means, and will be understood. It is thus that we call for the freedom of thought, which is to say the power, without external hindrance, to express thoughts in speech or in writing, in the manner in which they present themselves in the mind. It is the complete expression of thought which is the goal we pursue, and not liberty.
It is precisely because there are only particular liberties that we can, departing from the realm of the abstract, place ourselves on solid ground and affirm “our needs and our desires”—much better than “our rights,” which is an abstract and arbitrary expression—stifled, mangled or distorted by various sorts of authorities.
Intellectual life, artistic life, economic life, sexual life—we demand for all these the liberty to manifest themselves freely, in individuals, with an eye to the liberty of individuals, apart from the legalistic conceptions and prejudices of religious or civil order. We demand for them, these great rivers where human activity flows, the freedom to run without obstacles,—without the locks of “moralityism” or the dams of “traditionalism” troubling or miring their course. All in all, it is better to have the liberties, with their impetuous errors, their nervous jolts, their impulsive “lack of perspective,” than the authorities, immobile façades, frozen gates before which we wilt and die. Between life out of doors and life in the cellar, we choose the outdoor life.
*
*    *
When we call for “sexual liberty”—what do we mean? Do we mean “freedom to rape” or debauchery? Do we desire the annihilation of sentiment in love-lives, the disappearance of attachment, tenderness and affection? Do we glorify unthinking promiscuity or animalistic sexual satisfaction, at any time and place? Not at all. In calling for sexual liberty, we simply demand the possibility for every individual to dispose, as they wish and in all the circumstances of their sexual lifeaccording to the variations of temperament, sentiment, and reason which are peculiar to them.
Thus we do not demand the liberty to “rape.” Attention: their sexual life does not imply the sexual life of another. Neither do we demand a liberty of sexual life which would precede any sexual education. On the contrary, we believe that, gradually, in the period preceding puberty, the human being should be left ignorant of nothing that concerns sexual life,—the inevitable attraction of the sexes—whether that sexual life is considered from the sentimental, emotional or physiological point of view. We believe that advanced minds should take it to heart to recommend and propagate that education, to never let an occasion escape to engage in it; we think that from the moment that we have just indicated, not only should the human being know what delights—sentimental, emotional, and physical—the sexual life holds, but also what responsibilities it leads to. Both sexes should be led to understand, for example, that it is up to the woman to choose the hour of conception. And neither sex should be ignorant of the means of contraception. Following my thought to its logical conclusions, I would say that in a society which had not made it possible for its female constituents to refuse or avert an undesired pregnancy, those constituents would be perfectly justified in leaving their progeny to the care of the collectivity.
We do not separate the “liberty of the sexual life” from “sexual education.”
*
*    *
Contrary to the prejudices of the religious or civil orders, we treat the sexual question like the intellectual question, like all the questions raised by human activity. Just as the experiences of life, taken as a whole, appear necessary to us, so do experiences in that particular phase of life that is sexual life seem indispensible. We declare it an “absurdity” for a young boy or girl of sixteen years to be bound for life in marriage, and yet nothing appears more natural than a being of that age maintaining sexual relations with another, of the emotional or physical sort. Moreover, the sexual life from fifteen to twenty years of age differs from the sexual life consider at thirty-five or in the autumn of life. Sexual life is so complicated that the existence of multiple simultaneous experiences of sexual life is easily comprehensible, since in each experience, sometimes it is the sentimental or emotional side which dominates, sometimes the emotional or sensual side, and sometimes is the element of pure physical satisfaction. From experience to experience, the degrees of moral, emotional or voluptuous sensations vary so strangely that we can conclude from it that no experience resembles that which preceded it, or is pursued similarly.
We do not normally pursue identical experiences.
We do not exclude intense, voluptuous, sensual pleasure from those experiences; we put it on the same plane as intense intellectual pleasure (artistic, literary, etc.), moral pleasure, and economic pleasure. We consider those who place it on some lesser plane to be paltry moralists, morally mutilated. None of the experiences of life are inferior, except those caused by the fear of life or the imbalance of the will. Now, normal voluptuousness—whether it is the enjoyment of a splendid landscape or an intensely lived sensual experience—engenders, on the contrary, love of life and exercise of the will.
*
*    *
Thus “liberty of sexual life” is not synonymous with “debauchery,” otherwise known as “loss of moral equilibrium.” Sexual liberty is exclusively of the individual order. It presupposes an education of the will, which permits each to determine for themselves the point where they will cease to be master of their passions or penchants, an education perhaps much more instinctive than it appears at first look. Like all liberties, that of the sexual life involves an effort, not of abstinence—(in fact, abstention from the experiences of life is a mark of moral insufficiency, as debauchery is a sign of moral weakness)—but of judgment, discernment, and classification. In other words, it is not so much a question of the quantity or number of experiments as of the quality of the experimenter. To conclude, liberty of the sexual life remains united, in our mind, with a preparatory sexual education and a power of individual determination.
Liberty of sexual life in all circumstances, of course: in or out of union… If it is true that sexual experiences differ from one another, how can jealousy—a morbid attitude of love—exist? Can an individual, subject or object of an experience, reasonably bemoan the lack of necessary qualifications which makes one of their fellows the subject or object of another experience? Sentimental experience is one thing, sensual experience another, and the choice of a procreator yet another. It could be that the individual that a woman chooses as a procreator would not be the one for whom she feels the most affection, and that she seeks in the one certain physical qualities to which she is indifferent in the other. Could the one be reasonably jealous of the other?…
*
*    *
Let’s finish. By replacing the emotional phenomena among the experiences of ordinary life, we do not at all wish to diminish the importance of the factor “love” in human existence. We think that an experience can be experienced seriously, profoundly, intensely, but that we would be spared many disenchantments and sufferings if a number of the facts of life, instead of being considered as definitive, appeared as temporary, modifiable, revisable— essentially variable. This is accepted from the scientific point of view—from the intellectual point of view—from all points of view,—and we can’t comprehend how it would be otherwise from the sentimental, emotional or sexual point of view. It is not enough for us that this idea be adopted hypocritically and practiced clandestinely. We demand for the research and practice of sexual liberty the same broad daylight as for those of other liberties, persuaded that its development and evolution are linked not only to the increase of individual and collective happiness, but also in large part to the disappearance of the present state of things.
Moreover, we do not declare ourselves more in favor of unicity or plurality in love than we are against either; and it could well be that, in a given couple, one of the partners will practice unicity while the other practices plurality. And it could be that, after some time, unicity could appear preferable to plurality or vice-versa. These are individual questions. What we are asking is that we cease to qualify experience as more or less legitimate, depending on whether it is simple or unique. We also ask that we instruct all individuals on these things, and that fathers, mothers, or partners not profit from their privileged situation, to keep their knowledge hidden from those who are obliged to trust them. To each then, education, to determine their sexual life as they intend, to vary its experiences or to hold themselves to one alone: in a word, to proceed “at will.”
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised 3/17/2012]

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