Posts Tagged ‘Gracchus Babeuf’

Elections and the Communist Democracy of Gracchus Babeuf

April 30, 2016

On Thursday we go to the polls again. In Bristol, the elections are partly about deciding who is to be the new elected mayor. The Tories were very keen to introduce this idea from America into Britain, along with elected Police and Crime Commissioners. I find the name of the latter post rather amusing, rather like the term ‘solicitor’ for a type of lawyer, when the term ‘soliciting’ is also used to describe the attempt to procure sexual favours illegally. A Crime Commissioner sounds exactly the opposite of the job it describes. The term ‘commission’ is, after all, used to describe the process by which someone or an organisation hires someone else to perform a task. Like a government or company may commission a report. A Police and Crime Commissioner therefore sounds like someone, who not only hires the police, but also arranges to hire the criminals to commit the crimes.

Of course, this was all part of the Tories’ localism campaign, which was ostensibly about extending democracy and creating a quasi-anarchistic society through privatising everything, and trying to get volunteers to run local services, like libraries, unpaid. While throwing the unemployed and disabled off social security for the sake of giving tax cuts to billionaires.

I doubt somehow the Tories would be quite so keen on democracy if it came in the totalitarian form envisaged by ‘Gracchus’ Babeuf. Babeuf was a French Revolutionary, who was executed, along with his comrades, for trying to organise a Communist revolution, the ‘Conspiracy of Equals’, to overthrow the liberal regime of the Revolutionary state. Babeuf wanted the state to own all property, but unlike the later Marxist Communist states, elections would still be held. These would include not only political authorities, like the local and national governments, but also for the posts running businesses, including local shops.

The Tories aren’t keen on democracy at the best of times. Their electoral reforms, which were supposed to be passed to prevent voter fraud, are modelled on American legislation, which one Southern US government admitted was to stop the Democrats’ supporters – young people, the poor and Blacks, from voting. They really wouldn’t want democracy if that meant people could elect everything, including who ran the local corner shop. And they definitely don’t the workers having anything to do with the way their businesses are run.

Dodgy Aristocratic Land Titles and the Origins of Communism

March 17, 2014

140117democracy

David Cameron: The pukka Eton-educated leader of a government of Toffs.

As has already been remarked very frequently, this is a government dominated by aristos, whose policies very much favour the upper classes. David Cameron is a cousin of the Queen, who went to Eton and then Oxford University. When he was 11, he jetted across the Atlantic to go to the birthday party of the son of the American billionaire, John Paul Getty. Nick Clegg is also a true, blue-blooded aristo, while George Osborne is the son of an Anglo-Irish baronet. Under them working conditions have become much worse, the mass of the population much poorer, while the wealthy have become massively richer. I’ve already pointed out that the present government is doing its level best to prove Karl Marx right about the state being an instrument of oppression by the ruling class. It also reminded me of the origins of Communism right back in the late 18th century with one of the officials charged with tracing aristocratic entitlement to land.

I was talking to a friend of mine a little while ago about some of the historical discoveries made in the family archives of some of the aristocracy. One of the historians at Uni had been delighted when one of the local aristocratic families had allowed him access to their private records going back centuries. He had remarked that this was a rare privilege, and it was extremely difficult to be allowed access by the aristocracy to their private archives. They are frequently afraid that if they open it up to one researcher, they’ll have to open it to others, with the consequence nuisance and inconvenience. So consequently, they can’t be bother and generally, with some notable exceptions, do their best to discourage such inquiries.

My friend took a rather different view. He felt the real reason was that many of the titles the aristocracy holds on its lands are very dubious. They therefore want to discourage investigation into their archives in case people actually discover that it’s all spurious, and that they have no good claim to their massive properties at all.

Gracchus Babeuf pic

Gracchus Babeuf: Became Revolutionary through looking too much into aristocratic land claims.

This remark actually bears out one of the statements of the French Revolutionary Communist, Gracchus Babeuf, about how he ended up becoming a revolutionary. Babeuf was the leader of a group of Communists, who attempted to overthrow the Revolutionary government through a Conspiracy of Equals. They believed in absolute equality. As humans were equal, so everyone should have an equal right to property, which should thus be held in common. He had come to this extreme view partly as a result of the increasing control of the economy by the Revolutionary regime, and the actions the Jacobins took against aristocrats and others they considered to be counter-revolutionaries, hoarding grain and other food supplies. Babeuf had started his career not as a revolutionary, but as a feudaliste. This was a clerk specialising in tracing aristocratic land claims through the records. This had a radicalising effect on Babeuf. He said at his trial that it amongst the dusty bits of paper in the archives that he found that the aristocracy had in fact absolutely no good title to their lands whatsoever.

Which certainly bears out what my friend said about the English aristocracy not wishing people to inquire too much into the legitimacy of their own land claims. Perhaps if people look a bit too hard, they’re afraid that not only will they lose their lands, but the hoi polloi will once again start wearing droopy red caps, sing the Marseillaise, and the tumbrils will start rumbling along Belgravia, Kensington, and Knightsbridge bringing fresh victims to the guillotines outside Parliament.

And perhaps that’s the real fear at the heart of this government of aristos. Perhaps Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and IDS are afraid that if people look just a bit too closely, they’ll find that they have no good claim to their privileged position either. To them proles are getting a bit to uppity. Best to keep them in their place, with the aristocracy firmly enthroned above.