Monday, October 17, 2005


A Political Programme

Émile Zola, Germinal, IV, 4 (tr. L.W. Tancock):
'But why don't you explain? What's your object?'

'To destroy everything. No more nations, no more government, no more property, no more God or religion.'

'Yes, I gather that. Only where is it going to lead you?'

'To the primitive and formless community, to a new world, a fresh start.'

'And how are you going to carry it out? How do you propose to set about it?'

'By fire, poison, and the dagger. The real hero is the murderer, for he is the avenger of the people, the revolutionary in action, not someone just trotting out phrases out of books. We must have a series of appalling cataclysms to horrify the rulers and awaken the people.'


'Tell me what your programme is? We want to know where we are going.'

Then Souvarine, gazing with misty eyes into space, peacefully concluded:

'Any reasoning about the future is criminal, for it prevents pure destruction and holds up the march of the revolution.'
Souvarine's ideas are still alive and flourishing. But today, instead of fire, poison, and the dagger, the preferred means of destruction are suicide bombers and improvised roadside devices.

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