Individualist anarchism in France

Individualist anarchism in France has developed a line of thought that starts from the pioneering activism and writings of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and Anselme Bellegarrigue in the mid 19th century. In the early 20th century it produced publications such as L'EnDehors, L'Anarchie and around its principles it found writers and activists such as Emile Armand, Han Ryner, Henri Zisly, Albert Libertad and Zo d'Axa. In the post-war years there appeared the publication L'Unique and activist writers such as Charles-Auguste Bontemps. In contemporary times it has found a new expression in the writings of the prolific philosopher Michel Onfray.

Individualist anarchism refers to several traditions of thought within the anarchist movement that emphasize the individual and his or her will over external determinants such as groups, society, traditions, and ideological systems.[1][2] French individualist anarchism was characterized by an eclectic set of currents of thought and practices which included freethought, naturism, free love, anti-militarism and illegalism.

Early developments

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon (1809–1865) was the first philosopher to label himself an "anarchist."[3] Some consider Proudhon to be an individualist anarchist,[4][5][6] while others regard him to be a social anarchist.[7][8] Some commentators reject this, noting his preference for association in large industries, rather than individual control.[9] Nevertheless, he was influential among American individualist anarchists; in the 1840s and 1850s, Charles A. Dana,[10] and William B. Greene introduced Proudhon's works to the United States. Greene adapted Proudhon's mutualism to American conditions and introduced it to Benjamin R. Tucker.[11]

Proudhon opposed government privilege that protects capitalist, banking and land interests, and the accumulation or acquisition of property (and any form of coercion that led to it) which he believed hampers competition and concentrates wealth. Proudhon favored the right of individuals to retain the product of their labor as their own property, but believed that all other property was illegitimate. Thus, he saw private property as both essential to liberty and a road to tyranny, the former when it resulted from labor and was required for labor and the latter when it resulted in/from exploitation (profit, interest, rent, tax). He generally termed the former "possession" and the latter "property." For large-scale industry, he supported workers associations to replace wage labor and opposed land ownership.

Proudhon maintained that workers should retain the entirety of what they produce, and that monopolies on credit and land are the forces that prohibit this. He advocated an economic system he called mutualism that included possession and exchange of private property but without profit. Joseph Dejacque explicitly rejected Proudhon's philosophy, instead preferring anarchist-communism, asserting directly to Proudhon in a letter that "it is not the product of his or her labor that the worker has a right to, but to the satisfaction of his or her needs, whatever may be their nature." An individualist rather than anarchist communist,[4][5][6] Proudhon said that " the very denial of society in its foundation..."[12] and famously declared that "property is theft!" in reference to his rejection of ownership rights to land being granted to a person who is not using that land.


Proudhon originated mutualism, an anarchist school of thought, envisioning a society where each person might possess a means of production, either individually or collectively, with trade representing equivalent amounts of labor in the free market.[13] Integral to the scheme was the establishment of a mutual-credit bank which would lend to producers at an interest rate only high enough to cover the costs of administration.[14] Mutualism is based on a labor theory of value which holds that when labor or its product is sold, in exchange, it ought to receive goods or services embodying "the amount of labor necessary to produce an article of exactly similar and equal utility".[15] Some mutualists believe that if the state did not intervene, as a result of increased competition in the marketplace, individuals would receive no more income than that in proportion to the amount of labor they exert.[16][17] Mutualists oppose the idea of individuals receiving income through loans, investments, and rent, as they believe these individuals are not laboring. Some of them argue that if state intervention ceased, these types of incomes would disappear due to increased competition in capital.[18][19] Though Proudhon opposed this type of income, he expressed: "... I never meant to ... forbid or suppress, by sovereign decree, ground rent and interest on capital. I believe that all these forms of human activity should remain free and optional for all."[20]

Insofar as they ensure workers' rights to the full product of their labor, mutualists support markets and private property. However, they argue for conditional title to land, whose private ownership is legitimate only so long as it remains in use or occupation (which Proudhon called "possession.")[21] Proudhon's Mutualism supports labor-owned cooperative firms and associations[22] for "we need not hesitate, for we have no choice. . . it is necessary to form an ASSOCIATION among workers . . . because without that, they would remain related as subordinates and superiors, and there would ensue two . . . castes of masters and wage-workers, which is repugnant to a free and democratic society" and so "it becomes necessary for the workers to form themselves into democratic societies, with equal conditions for all members, on pain of a relapse into feudalism."[23] Mutualist opinions differs on whether capital goods (man-made, non-land, "means of production)" should be commonly managed public assets or private property.

Mutualists originally considered themselves to be libertarian socialists. However, "some mutualists have abandoned the labor theory of value, and prefer to avoid the term "socialist." But they still retain some cultural attitudes, for the most part, that set them off from the libertarian right."[24] Mutualists have distinguished themselves from state socialism, and don't advocate social control over the means of production. Benjamin Tucker said of Proudhon, that "though opposed to socializing the ownership of capital, [Proudhon] aimed nevertheless to socialize its effects by making its use beneficial to all instead of a means of impoverishing the many to enrich the subjecting capital to the natural law of competition, thus bringing the price of its own use down to cost."[25]

Anselme Bellegarrigue

Anselme Bellegarrigue was a French individualist anarchist, born between 1820 and 1825 in Toulouse and presumed dead around the end of the 19th century in Central America.

Catalan historian of individualist anarchism Xavier Diez reports that during his travels in the United States "he at least contacted (Henry David) Thoreau and, probably (Josiah) Warren."[26] (see individualist anarchism in the United States).

He participated in the French Revolution of 1848, was author and editor of Anarchie, Journal de l'Ordre and Au fait ! Au fait ! Interprétation de l'idée démocratique. He participated in the French Revolution of 1848, was author and editor of Anarchie, Journal de l'Ordre and Au fait ! Au fait ! Interprétation de l'idée démocratique[27] and wrote the important early Anarchist Manifesto in 1850.

For anarchist historian George Woodcock "Bellegarrigue stood near to Stirner at the individualist end of the anarchist spectrum. He dissociated himself from all the political revolutionaries of 1848, and even Proudhon, whom he resembled in many of his ideas and from whom he derived more than he was inclined to admit."[28] Bellegarrigue's "conception of revolution by civil disobedience suggests that in America Bellegarrigue may have made contact with at least the ideas of (Henry David) Thoreau".[28][29]

"At times Bellegarrigue spoke in the words of solipsistic egoism. "I deny everything; I affirm only myself.... I am, that is a positive fact. All the rest is abstract and falls into Mathematical X, into the unknown.... There can be on earth no interest superior to mine, no interest to which I owe even the partial sacrifice of my interests." Yet in apparent contradiction, Bellegarrigue adhered to the central anarchist tradition in his idea of society as necessary and natural and as having "a primordial existence".[28][29]

Late 19th century and early 20th century

Jean-Baptiste Louiche, Charles Schæffer and Georges Deherme edited the individualist anarchist publication Autonomie Individuelle that ran from 1887 to 1888.[30]

Intellectuals such as Albert Libertad, André Lorulot, Emile Armand, Victor Serge under the pseudonym "Le Retif", Zo d'Axa and Rirette Maitrejean extended the theory in France's main individualist anarchist journal, L'Anarchie[31] in 1905 and later in EnDehors. Outside this journal, Han Ryner wrote Petit Manuel individualiste (1903).

Henri Zisly, Emile Gravelle and Georges Butaud promoted anarchist naturism.[32] Butaud was an individualist "partisan of the milieux libres, publishing Flambeau ("an enemy of authority") in 1901 in Vienna. He focused on creating and participating in anarchist colonies.[33]

"In this sense, the theoretical positions and the vital experiences of french individualism are deeply iconoclastic and scandalous, even within libertarian circles. The call of nudist naturism, the strong defense of birth control methods, the idea of "unions of egoists" with the sole justification of sexual practices, that will try to put in practice, not without difficulties, will establish a way of thought and action, and will result in sympathy within some, and a strong rejection within others."[34]

Zo d'Axa and the first L'EnDehors

Alphonse Gallaud de la Pérouse, (28 May 1864, Paris – 30 August 1930) better known as Zo d'Axa (French pronunciation: [zo daksa]), was an adventurer, anti-militarist, satirist, journalist, and founder of two of the most legendary French magazines, L'EnDehors and La Feuille. A descendant of the famous French navigator Jean-François de Galaup, comte de Lapérouse, he was one of the most prominent French individualist anarchists at the turn of the 20th century.[35]

He founded the anarchist newspaper L'EnDehors in May 1891 in which numerous contributors such as Jean Grave, Louise Michel, Sébastien Faure, Octave Mirbeau, Tristan Bernard and Émile Verhaeren developed libertarian ideas.[36] D'Axa and L'EnDehors rapidly became the target of the authorities after attacks by Ravachol and d'Axa was kept in jail in Mazas Prison. An individualist and aesthete, d'Axa justified the use of violence as an anarchist, seeing propaganda of the deed as akin to works of art.[37] Anarchists, he wrote, "had no need to hope for distant better futures, they know a sure means of plucking the joy immediately: destroy passionately!"[38] "It is simple enough.", d'Axa proclaimed of his contemporaries, "If our extraordinary flights (nos fugues inattendues) throw people out a little, the reason is that we speak of everyday things as the primitive barbarian would, were he brought across them."[39] D'Axa was a bohemian who "exulted in his outsider status",[37] and praised the anti-capitalist lifestyle of itinerant anarchist bandit precursors of the French illegalists.[40] He expressed contempt for the masses and hatred for their rulers.[41] He was an important anarchist interpreter of the philosophy of individualist anarchist Max Stirner,[42] defender of Alfred Dreyfus and opponent of prisons and penitentiaries. D'Axa remains an influential anarchist theorist for anti-work sentiment.[43]


Illegalism[44] developed primarily in France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland during the early 1900s as an outgrowth of Stirner's Individualist anarchism.[45] Illegalists typically did not seek moral basis for their actions, recognizing only the reality of "might" rather than "right". They advocated illegal acts to satisfy personal needs and desires, not a larger ideal,[46] although some committed crimes as a form of direct action or propaganda of the deed .[44][47]

Influenced by Stirner's egoism as well as Proudhon's "property is theft", Clément Duval and Marius Jacob proposed the theory of individual reclamation.

Illegalism first rose to prominence among a generation of Europeans inspired by the unrest of the 1890s. Ravachol, Émile Henry, Auguste Vaillant, and Caserio committed daring crimes in anarchism's name.[48] France's Bonnot Gang was the most famous group to embrace illegalism.

The influence of Nietzsche and Stirner

German individualist philosophers Max Stirner and Friedrich Nietzsche were influential in French individualist anarchism. The influence of the thought of Max Stirner can be seen in this way: "The theoretical positions and the vital experiences of french individualism are deeply iconoclastic and scandalous, even within libertarian circles. The call of nudist naturism (see anarcho-naturism), the strong defense of birth control methods, the idea of "unions of egoists" with the sole justification of sexual practices, that will try to put in practice, not without difficulties, will establish a way of thought and action, and will result in sympathy within some, and a strong rejection within others."[34] Emile Armand 's stirnerist egoism (as well as his Nietzschetianism) can be appreciated when he writes in "Anarchist Individualism as Life and Activity (1907)" when he says anarchists "are pioneers attached to no party, non-conformists, standing outside herd morality and conventional 'good' and 'evil' 'a-social'. A 'species' apart, one might say. They go forward, stumbling, sometimes falling, sometimes triumphant, sometimes vanquished. But they do go forward, and by living for themselves, these 'egoists', they dig the furrow, they open the broach through which will pass those who deny archism, the unique ones who will succeed them."[49]


Anarchist naturism appeared in the late 19th century as the union of anarchist and naturist philosophies.[50][51][50][52] Mainly it had importance within individualist anarchist circles[53][54] [55][56] in Spain,[51][50][57][58] France,[57][59] Portugal.[60] and Cuba.[58][61]

Anarcho-naturism advocated vegetarianism, free love, nudism, hiking and an ecological world view within anarchist groups and outside them.[51][56] Anarcho-naturism promoted an ecological worldview, small ecovillages, and most prominently nudism as a way to avoid the artificiality of the industrial mass society of modernity.[51] Naturist individualist anarchists saw the individual in his biological, physical and psychological aspects and tried to eliminate social determinations.[62]

For the influential French anarchist Élisée Reclus naturism "was at the same time a physical means of revitalization, a report with the body completely different from hypocrisy and taboos which prevailed at the time, a more convivial way to see life in society, and an incentive to a respect of the planet. Thus naturism develops in France, in particular under the influence of Elized Reclus, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, among anarchistic communities resulting from utopian socialism."[63] n France later important propagandists of anarcho-naturism Henri Zisly[64] and Emile Gravelle who collaborated in La Nouvelle Humanité followed by Le Naturien, Le Sauvage, L'Ordre Naturel, & La Vie Naturelle [32] Their ideas were important in individualist anarchist circles in France but also in Spain where Federico Urales (pseudonym of Joan Montseny), promotes the ideas of Gravelle and Zisly in La Revista Blanca (1898–1905).[65]

The influence of naturist views in the wider French anarchist movement could be seen in this way. "In her memoir of her anarchist years that was serialized in Le Matin in 1913, Rirette Maîtrejean made much of the strange food regimens of some of the compagnons...She described the "tragic bandits" of the Bonnot gang as refusing to eat meat or drink wine, preferring plain water. Her humorous comments reflected the practices of the "naturist" wing of individualist anarchists who favored a simpler, more "natural" lifestyle centered on a vegetarian diet. In the 1920s, this wing was expressed by the journal Le Néo-Naturien, Revue des Idées Philosophiques et Naturiennes. Contributors condemned the fashion of smoking cigarettes, especially by young women; a long article of 1927 actually connected cigarette smoking with cancer! Others distinguished between vegetarians, who foreswore the eating of meat, from the stricter "vegetalians," who ate nothing but vegetables. An anarchist named G. Butaud, who made this distinction, opened a restaurant called the Foyer Végétalien in the nineteenth arrondissement in 1923. Other issues of the journal included vegetarian recipes. In 1925, when the young anarchist and future detective novelist Léo Malet arrived in Paris from Montpellier, he initially lodged with anarchists who operated another vegetarian restaurant that served only vegetables, with neither fish nor eggs. Nutritional concerns coincided with other means of encouraging health bodies, such as nudism and gymnastics. For a while in the 1920s, after they were released from jail for antiwar and birth-control activities, Jeanne and Eugène Humbert retreated to the relative safety of the "integral living" movement that promoted nude sunbathing and physical fitness, which were seen as integral aspects of health in the Greek sense of gymnos, meaning nude. This back-to-nature, primitivist current was not a monopoly of the left; the same interests were echoed by right-wing Germans in the interwar era. In France, however, these proclivities were mostly associated with anarchists, insofar as they suggested an ideal of self-control and the rejection of social taboos and prejudices."[66]

Henri Zisly and Emile Gravelle

Henri Zisly (born in Paris, November 2, 1872 died in 1945)[67] was a french individualist anarchist and naturist.[68] He participated alongside Henri Beylie and Emile Gravelle in many journals such as La nouvelle humanité and La Vie naturelle, which promoted anarchist-naturism. In 1902 he is one of the main initiators along Georges Butaud and Sophie Zaïkowska of the cooperative Colonie de Vaux established in Essômes-sur-Marne, in l'Aisne. Zisly dedicated "His political activity, supporting a return to "natural life" through writing and practical involvement, stimulated lively confrontations within and outside the anarchist environment. Zisly vividly criticized progress and civilization, which he regarded as "absurd, ignoble, and filthy." He openly opposed industrialization, arguing that machines were inherently authoritarian, defended nudism, advocated a non-dogmatic and non-religious adherence to the "laws of nature," recommended a lifestyle based on limited needs and self-sufficiency, and disagreed with vegetarianism, which he considered "anti-scientific." [64]

Albert Libertad and L'Anarchie

Joseph Albert (known as Albert Libertad or Libertad)[69] was an individualist anarchist militant and writer from France who edited the influential anarchist publication L'Anarchie.[70] During the Dreyfus affair, he founded the Anti-Militarist League (1902) "and, along with Paraf-Javal, founded the "Causeries populaires", public discussions that met with great interest throughout the country, contributing to the opening of a bookstore and various clubs in different quarters of Paris".[71] L'Anarchie(French pronunciation: [lanaʁʃi], anarchy) along with Libertad had as contributors to the journal Émile Armand, André Lorulot, Émilie Lamotte, Rirette Maitrejean, Raymond Callemin, and Victor Serge (who wrote unde the pseudonym "Le Retif"). 484 editions were published between April 13, 1905 and July 22, 1914

On the occasion of the July 14 anniversary, L'Anarchie "printed and distributed the manifesto "The Bastille of Authority" in one hundred thousand copies. Along with feverish activity against the social order, Libertad was usually also organizing feasts, dances and country excursions, in consequence of his vision of anarchism as the "joy of living" and not as militant sacrifice and death instinct, seeking to reconcile the requirements of the individual (in his need for autonomy) with the need to destroy authoritarian society. In fact, Libertad overcame the false dichotomy between individual revolt and social revolution, stressing that the first is simply a moment of the second, certainly not its negation. Revolt can only be born from the specific tension of the individual, which, in expanding itself, can only lead to a project of social liberation. For Libertad, anarchism doesn't consist in living separated from any social context in some cold ivory tower or on some happy communitarian isle, nor in living in submission to social roles, putting off the moment when one puts one's ideas into practice to the bitter end, but in living as anarchists here and now, without any concessions, in the only way possible: by rebelling. And this is why, in this perspective, individual revolt and social revolution no longer exclude each other, but rather complement each other."[71]


Freethought as a philosophical position and as activism was important in french individualist anarchism. "Anticlericalism, just as in the rest of the libertarian movement, is another of the frequent elements which will gain relevance related to the measure in which the (French) Republic begins to have conflicts with the church...Anti-clerical discourse, frequently called for by the french individualist André Lorulot, will have its impacts in Estudios (a Spanish individualist anarchist publication). There will be an attack on institutionalized religion for the responsibility that it had in the past on negative developments, for its irrationality which makes it a counterpoint of philosophical and scientific progress. There will be a criticism of proselitism and ideological manipulation which happens on both believers and agnostics.".[72] This tendencies will continue in French individualist anarchism in the work and activism of Charles-Auguste Bontemps and others.

Émile Armand and the second L'EnDehors

Emile Armand was an influential French individualist anarchist, free love/polyamory and pacifist/antimilitarist propagandist and activist. He wrote for such anarchist magazines as L'Anarchie and EnDehors. His thought was mainly influenced by such thinkers as Stirner, Benjamin Tucker, and American Transcendentalism. Outside France he was an important influence in Spanish anarchist movements, above all in the individualist publications Iniciales, Al Margen and Nosotros.[73] He defended the Ido constructed language over Esperanto with the help of José Elizalde.

In 1922, Armand established another publication with the title EnDehors just as the one published before by Zo d'Axa Armand promoted individual freedom, feminism, free love and anarchism. Because of World War II the publication of the En-Dehors was stopped in October 1939.

Armand contrasted his IA with social anarchist currents, rejecting revolution. He argued that waiting for revolution meant delaying the enjoyment of liberty until the masses gained awareness and will. Instead he advocated living under one's own conditions in the present time, revolting against social conditioning in daily life and living with those with an affinity to oneself in accord to the values and desire they share.[74] He says the individualist is a "presentist" and "he could not, without bad reasoning and illogic, think of sacrificing his being, or his having, to the coming of a state of things he will not immediately enjoy".[75] He applies this rule to friendship, love, sexual encounters and economic transactions. He adheres to an ethics of reciprocity and advocated propagandizing one's values to enable association with others to improve the chances of self-realization.[74]

Armand advocated free love, naturism and polyamory in what he termed la camaraderie amoureuse.[76] He wrote many propagandist articles on this subject advocating not only a vague free love but also multiple partners, which he called "plural love."[76] "'The camaraderie amoureuse thesis,' he explained, 'entails a free contract of association (that may be annulled without notice, following prior agreement) reached between anarchist individualists of different genders, adhering to the necessary standards of sexual hygiene, with a view toward protecting the other parties to the contract from certain risks of the amorous experience, such as rejection, rupture, exclusivism, possessiveness, unicity, coquetry, whims, indifference, flirtatiousness, disregard for others, and prostitution.'".[76]

Gérard de Lacaze-Duthiers

Gérard de Lacaze-Duthiers (26 January 1876 - 3 May 1958) was a French writer, art critic, pacifist and anarchist. Lacaze-Duthiers, an art critic for the Symbolist review journal La Plume, was influenced by Oscar Wilde, Nietzsche and Max Stirner. His (1906) L'Ideal Humain de l'Art helped found the 'Artistocracy' movement - a movement advocating life in the service of art.[77] His ideal was an anti-elitist aestheticism: "All men should be artists".[78] Together with André Colomer and Manuel Devaldes, he founded L'Action d'Art, an anarchist literary journal, in 1913.[79] He was a contributor to the Anarchist Encyclopedia. After World War II he contributed to the journal L'Unique.[80]

Han Ryner

Han Ryner was a French individualist anarchist philosopher and activist and a novelist. He wrote for publications such as L'Art social, L'Humanité nouvelle, L'Ennemi du Peuple, L'Idée Libre de Lorulot; and L'En dehors and L'Unique. His thought is mainly influenced by stoicism and epicureanism.

He defines individualism as "the moral doctrine which, relying on no dogma, no tradition, no external determination, appeals only to the individual conscience.".[81] He distinguishes "conquering and aggressive egoists who proclaim themselves to be individualists" from what he called "harmonic individualists" who respected others. He admired Epicurus' temperance and that "he showed that very little was needed to satisfy hunger and thirst, to defend oneself against heat and the cold. And he liberated himself from all other needs, that is, almost all the desires and all the fears that enslave men.".[81] He celebrated how Jesus "lived free as a wanderer, foreign to any social ties. He was the enemy of priests, external cults and, in general, all organizations."[81]

Postwar and contemporary times

French individualist anarchists grouped behind Emile Armand, published L'Unique after World War II. L'Unique went from 1945 to 1956 with a total of 110 numbers.[82][83] Apart from Armand other writers in it included Gérard de Lacaze-Duthiers, Manuel Devaldès, Lucy Sterne, Thérèse Gaucher and others.[84] Within the synthesist anarchist organization, the Fédération Anarchiste, there existed an individualist anarchist tendency alongside anarcho-communist and anarchosyndicalist currents.[85] Individualist anarchists participating inside the Fédération Anarchiste included Charles-Auguste Bontemps, Georges Vincey and André Arru.[86] The new base principles of the francophone Anarchist Federation were written by Charles-Auguste Bontemps and the anarcho-communist Maurice Joyeux which established an organization with a plurality of tendencies and autonomy of federated groups organized around synthesist principles.[87] Charles-Auguste Bontemps was a prolific author mainly in the anarchist, freethinking, pacifist and naturist press of the time.[87] Jean-René Saulière (also René Saulière) (Bordeaux, September 6, 1911- January 2, 1999) was a French anarcho-pacifist, individualist anarchist[86] and freethought writer and militant who went under the pseudonym André Arru.[88][89][90] During the late 1950s he establishes inside the Fédération des Libres Penseurs des Bouches du Rhône, the Group Francisco Ferrer[91] and in 1959 he joins the Union des Pacifistes de France (Union of Pacifists of France).[91] From 1968 to 1982, Arru alongside the members of the Group Francisco Ferrer publishes La Libre Pensée des Bouches du Rhône.

In 2002, an anarchist, Libertad organized a new version of the L'EnDehors, collaborating with Green Anarchy and including contributors such as Lawrence Jarach, Patrick Mignard, Thierry Lodé, Ron Sakolsky, and Thomas Slut. Articles about capitalism, human rights, free love and social fights were published. The EnDehors continues now as a website,

Charles-Auguste Bontemps

Charles-Auguste Bontemps (1893–1981) was a French individualist anarchist, pacifist, freethinker and naturist activist and writer.[87][92] He was an important personality in the foundation of the francophone Anarchist Federation.[92] The new base principles of the francophone Anarchist Federation were written by Bontemps and Maurice Joyeux which established an organization with a plurality of tendencies and autonomy of federated groups organized around synthesist principles.[92] He also participates in the refoundation of the francophone Anarchist Federation in 1953.[87] Around 1967 Bontemps alongside Maurice Joyeux and Guy Bodson on the francophone Anarchist Federation's journal Le Monde libertaire had an exchange of criticism with the Situationist International to which he was responded by Guy Debord and others on that organization.[93][94][95]

He was a prolific author mainly in the anarchist, freethinking, pacifist and naturist press of the time.[87] His view on anarchism was based around his concept of "Social Individualism" on which he wrote extensively. He defended an anarchist perspective which consisted on "a collectivism of things and an individualism of persons."[96]

Michel Onfray

The prolific contemporary French philosopher Michel Onfray has been writing from an individualist anarchist[97][98] perspective influenced by Nietzsche, French post-structuralists thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze; and Greek classical schools of philosophy such as the Cynics and Cyrenaics. Among the books which best expose Onfray's individualist anarchist perspective include La sculpture de soi : la morale esthétique (The sculpture of oneself: aesthetic morality), La philosophie féroce : exercices anarchistes, La puissance d'exister and Physiologie de Georges Palante, portrait d'un nietzchéen de gauche which focuses on French individualist philosopher Georges Palante.

For him, "There is in fact a multitude of ways to practice philosophy, but out of this multitude, the dominant historiography picks one tradition among others and makes it the truth of philosophy: that is to say the idealist, spiritualist lineage compatible with the Judeo-Christian world view. From that point on, anything that crosses this partial – in both senses of the word – view of things finds itself dismissed. This applies to nearly all non-Western philosophies, Oriental wisdom in particular, but also sensualist, empirical, materialist, nominalist, hedonistic currents and everything that can be put under the heading of "anti-Platonic philosophy""[99] "His mission is to rehabilitate materialist and sensualist thinking and use it to re-examine our relationship to the world. Approaching philosophy as a reflection of each individual's personal experience, Onfray inquires into the capabilities of the body and its senses and calls on us to celebrate them through music, painting, and fine cuisine."[100]

He adheres to an ethics based on hedonism which he views "as an introspective attitude to life based on taking pleasure yourself and pleasuring others, without harming yourself or anyone else."[101] "Onfray's philosophical project is to define an ethical hedonism, a joyous utilitarianism, and a generalized aesthetic of sensual materialism that explores how to use the brain's and the body's capacities to their fullest extent -- while restoring philosophy to a useful role in art, politics, and everyday life and decisions."[102] His philosophy aims "for "micro-revolutions, " or revolutions of the individual and small groups of like-minded people who live by his hedonistic, libertarian values."[103] Recently Michel Onfray has embraced the term postanarchism to describe his approach to politics and ethics.[104] He advocates for an anarchism in line with such intellectuals as "Orwell, la philosophe Simone Weil, Jean Grenier, la French Theory avec Foucault, Deleuze, Bourdieu, Guattari, Lyotard, le Derrida de Politiques de l'amitié et du Droit à la philosophie, mais aussi Mai 68" which for him was "a nietzschean revolt in order to put an end to the "One" truth, revealed, and to put in evidence the diversity of truths, in order to make disappear ascetic Christian ideas and to help arise new possibilities of existence" [105]

Onfray also continues the tradition of freethought and atheism within French individualist anarchism. He wrote the best seller Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. "It is divided into four parts: atheology, monotheisms, Christianity and theocracy...As Onfray details the myth and bloody history of monotheistic religions, he concludes that monotheism in general, and the religious beliefs of the major players on the Middle Eastern and Western stages in particular, have two ideologies in common: extinguishing the light of reason and total investment in death".[106]



  • Parry, Richard. The Bonnot Gang: The Story Of The French Illegalists . Rebel Press, 1987.
  • Perraudeau, Michel. Dictionnaire de l'individualisme libertaire. éditions Libertaires. 2011. ISBN 9782919568062
  • Sonn, Richard D. Sex, Violence, and the Avant-Garde: Anarchism in Interwar France. Penn State Press. 2010.
  • Steiner, Anne. Les en-dehors: Anarchistes individualistes et illégalistes à la « Belle époque ». L'Echappée, 2008.
  • Various Authors. Enemies of Society: An Anthology of Individualist & Egoist Thought. Ardent Press. 2011

French individualist anarchists writings

La sculpture de soi : la morale esthétique (1991) Politique du rebelle : traité de résistance et d'insoumission (1997) Théorie du corps amoureux : pour une érotique solaire (2000) L'invention du plaisir : fragments cyréaniques (2002) Traité d'athéologie : Physique de la métaphysique, Paris, Grasset, (2005); English translation by Jeremy Leggatt as Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (New York: Arcade Publishing, 2007) La puissance d'exister, (2006) Grasset, ISBN 2-246-71691-8

See also


  1. "What do I mean by individualism? I mean by individualism the moral doctrine which, relying on no dogma, no tradition, no external determination, appeals only to the individual conscience."Mini-Manual of Individualism by Han Ryner
  2. "I do not admit anything except the existence of the individual, as a condition of his sovereignty. To say that the sovereignty of the individual is conditioned by Liberty is simply another way of saying that it is conditioned by itself.""Anarchism and the State" in Individual Liberty
  3. "Anarchism", BBC Radio 4 program, In Our Time, Thursday December 7, 2006. Hosted by Melvyn Bragg of the BBC, with John Keane, Professor of Politics at University of Westminster, Ruth Kinna, Senior Lecturer in Politics at Loughborough University, and Peter Marshall, philosopher and historian.
  4. George Edward Rines, ed. (1918), Encyclopedia Americana, New York: Encyclopedia Americana Corp., p. 624, OCLC 7308909
  5. Hamilton, Peter (1995), Emile Durkheim, New York: Routledge, p. 79, ISBN 0-415-11047-5
  6. Faguet, Emile (1970), Politicians & Moralists of the Nineteenth Century, Freeport: Books for Libraries Press, p. 147, ISBN 0-8369-1828-2
  7. Bowen, James & Purkis, Jon. 2004. Changing Anarchism: Anarchist Theory and Practice in a Global Age. Manchester University Press. p. 24
  8. Knowles, Rob. "Political Economy from below : Communitarian Anarchism as a Neglected Discourse in Histories of Economic Thought". History of Economics Review, No.31 Winter 2000.
  9. Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, Broadview Press, 2004, p. 20
  10. Dana, Charles A. Proudhon and his "Bank of the People" (1848).
  11. Tucker, Benjamin R., "On Picket Duty", Liberty (Not the Daughter but the Mother of Order) (18811908); 5 January 1889; 6, 10; APS Online pg. 1
  12. Proudhon, Pierre-Joseph. The Philosophy of Misery: The Evolution of Capitalism. BiblioBazaar, LLC (2006). ISBN 1-4264-0908-7 pp. 217
  13. Introduction
  14. Miller, David. 1987. "Mutualism." The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought. Blackwell Publishing. p. 11
  15. Tandy, Francis D., 1896, Voluntary Socialism, chapter 6, paragraph 15.
  16. Tandy, Francis D., 1896, Voluntary Socialism, chapter 6, paragraphs 9, 10 & 22.
  17. Carson, Kevin, 2004, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, chapter 2 (after Meek & Oppenheimer).
  18. Tandy, Francis D., 1896, Voluntary Socialism, chapter 6, paragraph 19.
  19. Carson, Kevin, 2004, Studies in Mutualist Political Economy, chapter 2 (after Ricardo, Dobb & Oppenheimer).
  20. Solution of the Social Problem, 1848-49.
  21. Swartz, Clarence Lee. What is Mutualism? VI. Land and Rent
  22. Hymans, E., Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, pp. 190-1,
    Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements, Broadview Press, 2004, pp. 110 & 112
  23. General Idea of the Revolution, Pluto Press, pp. 215-216 and p. 277
  24. A Mutualist FAQ: A.4. Are Mutualists Socialists? Archived 2009-06-09 at the Wayback Machine
  25. Tucker, Benjamin, State Socialism and Anarchism, State Socialism and Anarchism Archived 1999-01-17 at the Wayback Machine
  26. Xavier Diez. El anarquismo individualista en España (1923–1938). Virus editorial. Barcelona. 2007. pg. 60
  27. To the Point! To Action!! An Interpretation of the Democratic Idea by Anselme Bellegarrigue
  28. George Woodcock. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements (1962) pg. 276
  29. "Anselme Bellegarrigue" by George Woodcock (1912–1995)
  30. Autonomie Individuelle (1887 — 1888)
  31. "On the fringe of the movement, and particularly in the individualist faction which became relatively strong after 1900 and began to publish its own sectarian paper, -315- L'Anarchie ( 1905-14), there were groups and individuals who lived largely by crime. Among them were some of the most original as well as some of the most tragic figures in anarchist history." Woodcock, George. Anarchism: A History of Libertarian Ideas and Movements. 1962
  32. The daily bleed Archived July 1, 2016, at the Wayback Machine
  33. "1926 -- France: Georges Butaud (1868–1926) dies, in Ermont."
  34. "La insumisión voluntaria. El anarquismo individualista español durante la dictadura y la Segunda República" by Xavier Díez
  35. S., R. (1900-08-19). "WHAT PARIS THINKS ABOUT; The Shah of Persia Contrasted with His Father. FRENCH ANARCHIST VIEWS Curiosity as to Policy of Italy's New King– Ravages of Yellow Fever in French Senegal". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-26.
  36. Bertaut, Jules (2007). Paris 1870-1935. Vincent Press. p. 131. ISBN 1-4067-4366-6.
  37. Weisberg, Gabriel (2001). Montmartre and the Making of Mass Culture. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0-8135-3009-1.
  38. Sonn, Richard (1989). Anarchism and Cultural Politics in Fin-De-Siècle France. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 0-8032-4175-5.
  39. Grand, Sarah (2000). Sex, Social Purity, and Sarah Grand. New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-21411-4.
  40. Parry, Richard (1987). The Bonnot Gang. London: Rebel Press. pp. 53. ISBN 0-946061-04-1.
  41. Patsouras, Louis (2003). The Anarchism of Jean Grave. Montreal: Black Rose Press. p. 86. ISBN 1-55164-184-4.
  42. Cohn, Jesse (2006). Anarchism and the Crisis of Representation. Selinsgrove Pa.: Susquehanna University Press. ISBN 1-57591-105-1.
  43. Beauzamy, Brigitte. "Danger : Work Archived 2011-06-08 at the Wayback Machine". European Consortium for Political Research, 2nd general conference. Marburg, Germany, September 18–21, 2003
  44. The "Illegalists" Archived September 8, 2015, at the Wayback Machine, by Doug Imrie (published by Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed)
  45. "Parallel to the social, collectivist anarchist current there was an individualist one whose partisans emphasized their individual freedom and advised other individuals to do the same. Individualist anarchist activity spanned the full spectrum of alternatives to authoritarian society, subverting it by undermining its way of life facet by facet." Thus theft, counterfeiting, swindling and robbery became a way of life for hundreds of individualists, as it was already for countless thousands of proletarians. The wave of anarchist bombings and assassinations of the 1890s (Auguste Vaillant, Ravachol, Emile Henry, Sante Caserio) and the practice of illegalism from the mid-1880s to the start of the First World War (Clément Duval, Pini, Marius Jacob, the Bonnot gang) were twin aspects of the same proletarian offensive, but were expressed in an individualist practice, one that complemented the great collective struggles against capital."
  46. Parry, Richard. The Bonnot Gang. Rebel Press, 1987. p. 15
  47. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved August 11, 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  48. "Pre-WWI France was the setting for the only documented anarchist revolutionary movement to embrace all illegal activity as revolutionary practice. Pick-pocketing, theft from the workplace, robbery, confidence scams, desertion from the armed forces, you name it, illegalist activity was praised as a justifiable and necessary aspect of class struggle.""Illegalism" by Rob los Ricos Archived 2008-11-20 at the Wayback Machine
  49. The Anarchism of Émile Armand by Emile Armand
  50. "Anarchism and the different Naturist views have always been related.""Anarchism - Nudism, Naturism" by Carlos Ortega at Asociacion para el Desarrollo Naturista de la Comunidad de Madrid. Published on Revista ADN. Winter 2003
  51. EL NATURISMO LIBERTARIO EN LA PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA (1890–1939) by Jose Maria Rosello Archived 2016-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  52. "In many of the alternative communities established in Britain in the early 1900s nudism, anarchism, vegetarianism and free love were accepted as part of a politically radical way of life. In the 1920s the inhabitants of the anarchist community at Whiteway, near Stroud in Gloucestershire, shocked the conservative residents of the area with their shameless nudity.""Nudism the radical tradition" by Terry Phillips Archived 2012-09-11 at
  53. "From the 1880s, anarcho-individualist publications and teachings promoted the social emancipatory function of naturism and denounced deforestation, mechanization, civilization, and urbanization as corrupting effects of the consolidating industrial-capitalist order." "Naturism" by Stefano Boni in The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest Edited by Immanuel Ness. Wiley-Blackwell. 2009
  54. "Los anarco-individualistas, G.I.A...Una escisión de la FAI producida en el IX Congreso (Carrara, 1965) se pr odujo cuando un sector de anarquistas de tendencia humanista rechazan la interpretación que ellos juzgan disciplinaria del pacto asociativo" clásico, y crean los GIA (Gruppi di Iniziativa Anarchica) . Esta pequeña federación de grupos, hoy nutrida sobre todo de veteranos anarco-individualistas de orientación pacifista, naturista, etcétera defiende la autonomía personal y rechaza a rajatabla toda forma de intervención en los procesos del sistema, como sería por ejemplo el sindicalismo. Su portavoz es L'Internazionale con sede en Ancona. La escisión de los GIA prefiguraba, en sentido contrario, el gran debate que pronto había de comenzar en el seno del movimiento""El movimiento libertario en Italia" by Bicicleta. REVISTA DE COMUNICACIONES LIBERTARIAS Year 1 No. Noviembre, 1 1977 Archived October 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  55. "Proliferarán así diversos grupos que practicarán el excursionismo, el naturismo, el nudismo, la emancipación sexual o el esperantismo, alrededor de asociaciones informales vinculadas de una manera o de otra al anarquismo. Precisamente las limitaciones a las asociaciones obreras impuestas desde la legislación especial de la Dictadura potenciarán indirectamente esta especie de asociacionismo informal en que confluirá el movimiento anarquista con esta heterogeneidad de prácticas y tendencias. Uno de los grupos más destacados, que será el impulsor de la revista individualista Ética será el Ateneo Naturista Ecléctico, con sede en Barcelona, con sus diferentes secciones la más destacada de las cuales será el grupo excursionista Sol y Vida.""La insumisión voluntaria: El anarquismo individualista español durante la Dictadura y la Segunda República (1923–1938)" by Xavier Díez Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  56. "Les anarchistes individualistes du début du siècle l'avaient bien compris, et intégraient le naturisme dans leurs préoccupations. Il est vraiment dommage que ce discours se soit peu à peu effacé, d'antan plus que nous assistons, en ce moment, à un retour en force du puritanisme (conservateur par essence).""Anarchisme et naturisme, aujourd'hui." by Cathy Ytak Archived February 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  57. "La insumisión voluntaria: El anarquismo individualista español durante la Dictadura y la Segunda República (1923–1938)" by Xavier Díez Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  58. "La Cultura de la naturaleza en el anarquismo ibérico y cubano" by Eduard Masjuan Bracons Archived 2012-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  59. Recension des articles de l'En-Dehors consacrés au naturisme et au nudisme Archived October 14, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  60. ["Anarchisme et naturisme au Portugal, dans les années 1920" in Les anarchistes du Portugal by João Freire]
  61. "Introduction to Anarchism and countercultural politics in early twentieth-century Cuba by Kirwin R. Shaffer". Archived from the original on 2013-10-12. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  62. "el individuo es visto en su dimensión biológica -física y psíquica- dejándose la social."EL NATURISMO LIBERTARIO EN LA PENÍNSULA IBÉRICA (1890–1939) by Jose Maria Rosello Archived 2016-01-02 at the Wayback Machine
  63. "The pioneers" Archived October 25, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  64. "Zisly, Henri (1872–1945)" by Stefano Boni
  65. "Los origenes del naturismo libertario" por Agustín Morán
  66. "Sex, Violence, and the Avant-Garde" by Richard D. Sonn. 2010. Penn State University
  67. Henri Zisly page; from the Daily Bleed's Anarchist Encyclopedia Archived October 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  68. "Henri Zisly, self-labeled individualist anarchist , is considered one of the forerunners and principal organizers of the naturist movement in France and one of its most able and outspoken defenders worldwide.""Zisly, Henri (1872–1945)" by Stefano Boni
  69. Libertad, Le Culte de la charogne. Anarchisme, un état de révolution permanente (1897–1908), Éditions Agone, 2006. ISBN 2-7489-0022-7 (see also .
  70. "Libertad (1875–1908)" at
  71. "Machete" #1. "Bonnot and the Evangelists"
  72. Díez, Xavier (2007). El anarquismo individualista en España 1923-1938. Barcelona: Virus Editorial. p. 143. ISBN 978-84-96044-87-6.
  73. "Voluntary non-submission. Spanish individualist anarchism during dictatorship and the second republic (1923–1938)" by Xavier Diez Archived May 26, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  74. "Anarchist Individualism as a Life and Activity" by Emile Armand
  75. "The future society" by Emile Armand
  76. Emile Armand and la camaraderie amourouse. Revolutionary sexualism and the struggle against jealousy." by Francis Rousin
  77. Peterson, Joseph (August 1, 2010). "Gérard De Lacaze-Duthiers, Charles Péguy, and Edward Carpenter: An Examination of Neo-Romantic Radicalism Before the Great War" (M.A. thesis). Clemson University: 8, 15–30. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  78. Lacaze-Duthiers, L'Ideal Humain de l'Art, pp.57-8.
  79. Richard David Sonn (2010). Sex, Violence, and the Avant-Garde: Anarchism in Interwar France. Penn State Press. p. 199. ISBN 978-0-271-03663-2. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  80. L'Unique (1945-1956)
  81. "Mini-Manual of Individualism" by Han Ryner
  82. "Émile Armand in A las". Archived from the original on 2012-02-14. Retrieved 2011-10-03.
  83. Unique, L' (1945 - 1956)
  84. Unique, L' (1945 - 1956)
  85. "Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950-1970" by Cédric GUÉRIN
  86. "Le courant individualiste, qui avait alors peu de rapport avec les théories de Charles-Auguste Bontemps, est une tendance représentée à l'époque par Georges Vincey et avec des nuances par A.Arru""Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950–1970" by Cédric GUÉRIN
  87. "Charles-Auguste Bontemps" at Ephemeride Anarchiste
  88. "ARRU, André (SAULIÈRE Jean, René, Gaston dit)" at Dictionnaire des Militants Anarchistes
  89. ""André Arru (aka Jean-René Sauliere)" at "The Anarchist Encyclopedia: A Gallery of Saints & Sinners"". Archived from the original on 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  90. "Courte biographie (1ère partie)". 1948-08-27. Archived from the original on 2014-01-01. Retrieved 2012-09-29.
  91. "Courte biographie (2ème partie)"
  92. Cédric Guerin. "Pensée et action des anarchistes en France : 1950-1970"
  93. "To the editorial committee of Le Monde Libertaire" by [Michele] Bernstein, [Guy] Debord, [Herbert] Holl, [Mustapha] Khayati, [Donald] Nicholson-Smith
  94. "Subversive Remarks Tough Customers!" by Maurice Joyeux
  95. "What is 'Situationism'?" by Guy Bodson
  96. "BONTEMPS Auguste, Charles, Marcel dit « Charles-Auguste » ; « CHAB » ; « MINXIT »" at Dictionnaire International des Militants Anarchistes
  97. Onfray says in an interview "L'individualisme anarchiste part de cette logique. Il célèbre les individualités...Dans cette période de libéralisme comme horizon indépassable, je persiste donc à plaider pour l'individu."Interview des lecteurs : Michel Onfray Par Marion Rousset| 1er avril 2005 Archived 2012-04-04 at the Wayback Machine
  98. "Au-delà, l'éthique et la politique de Michel Onfray font signe vers l'anarchisme individualiste de la Belle Epoque qui est d'ailleurs une de ses références explicites.""Individualité et rapports à l'engagement militant Individualite et rapports a l engageme".. par : Pereira Irène
  99. "Michel Onfray: A philosopher of the Enlightenment". Archived from the original on 2009-09-10. Retrieved 2018-10-07.
  101. "Atheism à la mode"
  102. Ireland, Doug (Winter 2006). "Introductory Note to Onfray". New Politics. X (4). Archived from the original on 2011-07-20. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
  103. (en) France, Media, Michel Onfray, A self labeled Anarchist Philosopher
  104. Michel Onfray : le post anarchisme expliqué à ma grand-mère
  105. "qu'il considère comme une révolte nietzschéenne pour avoir mis fin à la Vérité "Une", révélée, en mettant en évidence la diversité de vérités, pour avoir fait disparaître les idéaux ascétiques chrétiens et fait surgir de nouvelles possibilités d'existence."Michel Onfray : le post anarchisme expliqué à ma grand-mère
  106. Cornwell, J. M. (2007-01-24). "Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism and Islam". The Celebrity Cafe. Archived from the original on 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2010-06-01.
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