Joseph Dejacque - looking for writings

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Anarchia's picture
Joined: 18-03-06
Jan 24 2008 00:32
Joseph Dejacque - looking for writings

Hey folks,

I've been flicking through Anarchism - A documentary history of libertarian ideas: Volume one: From anarchy to anarchism (300CE to 1939) editedby Robert Graham, which is waaaay too long a title. It's actually a really good anthology IMO, and once volume two (1940 - present) comes out in late Feb, I reckon it'll move ahead of No Gods No Masters edited by Daniel Guerin as the best of its kind.

Anyway, the book has two pieces by Joseph Dejacque, titled "The Revolutionary Question", written in 1854, and "On Being Human", written in 1857, and gives the following details:

Joseph Dejacque (1821 - 1864) was also active in the 1848 Revolution in France. Imprisoned in June 1848 and June 1849, he eventually escaped into exile around the time of Louis Napoleon's December 1851 coup d'etat. He spent several years living in poverty in the United States, where he nevertheless was able to publish an anarchist periodical, Le Libertaire, making him the first person to use the word "libertarian" as synonymous with "anarchist".
This section concludes with excerpts from an open letter from Joseph Dejacque to Proudhon in 1857, attacking him for his reactionary anti-feminism, which Dejacque rightly saw as inconsistent with anarchist ideals, and advocating a kind of anarchist communism.

There is only a couple of mentions of him on this site, unfortunately. The only bit I can find is the following:

LibCom wrote:
Joseph Déjacque was a man ahead of his time. He wrote poetry and songs putting forward his advanced anarchist ideas, an anarchism that he had evolved in advance of the birth of the anarchist movement. Fraternally criticising Proudhon for his failure to carry his thoughts through to their ultimate conclusion, his ideas were openly anarchist, revolutionary and communist, affirming the individual at the same time. In many ways he was the ancestor of both anarchist communism and of individualist anarchism. He was driven mad by grinding poverty, dying in Paris in 1864.

He seems like an interesting character who I'd love to find out a bit more about. Anyone know of any pamphlets or books about or by him?

"The Revolutionary Question" in the Graham book is only excerpted from a pamphlet of the same name - anyone have an English translation?

Joined: 20-07-06
Jan 24 2008 03:14

i dont suppose you can read french? if so, check this page out:

a page dedicated to him! it has some of his writings and all that.

they have a wee bit more info about him on the Daily Bleed:

when i read that book, i was similarly interested in the stuff concerning Dejacques. considering the time he was in, he really did seem to be rather ahead of his time.

... i was sure i'd seen writings by him somewhere else - online? in a book? - but i cant recall where. seemingly not in the Anarchy Archives, though.

Anarchia's picture
Joined: 18-03-06
Jan 24 2008 03:29

I learnt French in high school, and spoke it to a pretty good level once upon a time, but 7 years without using it have left it essentially non-existant unfortunately, but cheers for the link anyway....

Joined: 27-02-06
Jan 24 2008 12:16

"The 1848 upsurge produced other currents. Anselme Bellegarrigue published a pamphlet and series of articles followed by the first periodical that termed itself anarchist: L’Anarchie: journal de l’ordre which was first published in 1850. He was one of the first of that period to offer any criticisms of the dominant centralising and Statist trends within the radical movement. However, his rejection of communistic concepts meant that he put himself outside of that current, in his forthright statement that the free person: “ works and therefore he speculates; he speculates and therefore he gains; he gains and therefore he possesses; he possesses and therefore he is free. By possession he sets himself up in an opposition of principle to the State, for the logic of the State rigorously excludes individual possession.”
Joseph Dejacque also participated in the 1848 events as well as in the insurrection the following year. In often extremely violent and poetic language, he attacked religion, property, the family and the State, and advocated action by small groups who would hasten the end of the old hierarchical order. The massacres of June 1848 brought him not only to a rejection of exploitation and economic privilege, but equally to a rejection of all forms of authority. In exile in the States he produced a journal in French, Le Libertaire, the first recorded use of the term libertarian as an alternative to that of anarchist. He continued the trailblazing work of the Humanitaire Group in his development of a kind of anarchist communism –“the anarchist community”. Unlike Proudhon, he was able to reject the idea of the family. Indeed, he was able to offer fraternal criticisms of Proudhon himself, for his failure to carry his thoughts through to their ultimate conclusion. He rejects Proudhon’s mutualism as much as he rejects the Statism of the inheritors of the Jacobin tradition. It is true that he owed a great debt to Fourier, - and this becomes apparent in his pamphlet L’Humanisphere:utopie anarchique- but his Fourierism is one stripped of all its reformist and authoritarian traits and he often makes criticisms of the prophet of social harmony. Whilst he may be correctly cited as one of the grandfathers of anarchist communism, his project of collective class emancipation was linked to complete liberty for the individual, in some ways prefiguring the best within the individualist anarchist current, the elements that did not reject the establishment of an anarchist communist society.
Like Dejacque, Ernest Couerderoy died in appalling conditions of poverty. Again one of those moving from radical Jacobinism into Blanquism, he ended up rejecting the secret societies and conspiracies of these currents, and called for collective and mass insurrection as the means of bringing about a new civilisation.
The libertarian outlook of quarantehuitards like Bellegarrigue, Dejacque and Couerderoy owe a lot to the desperation and depression of the failed 1848 revolutions and the long and gloomy period of reaction that set in. At the same time just as after the defeat of the Enrages, the reversals of uprisings and insurrections of the 1830s, the collapse of 1848 engendered new waves of thinking.
But as Skirda points out: “To best measure the merit and the interest of these libertarian convictions, let us remember the context of the moment; the reaction of Louis Napoleon raged in France; black slavery continued in the United States; that of the Russian “white blacks” was not suppressed until 1861 in the Empire of the tsars; industrial mechanisation developed at a great pace, the prison of the factory too; the flattest academicism, and among the most advanced social doctrines, the church party and state socialism predominated.”(My translation- see Paul Sharkey’s translation of Skirda, Facing the Enemy)."
working text from a forthcoming book (subject to revision)

Joined: 5-05-08
May 5 2008 02:31

I have made an English translation pdf file of Dejacque's Humanisphere.

write to me at

if you would like a copy.
Neil (Australia )

dave c
Joined: 4-09-07
May 5 2008 02:54

There is an essay by Alain Pengam called "Anarcho-Communism" that appeared in the collection Non-Market Socialism in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries edited by Rubel and Crump, which talks about Dejacque quite a bit. It is online here as a pamphlet (lacking endnotes):

Anarchia's picture
Joined: 18-03-06
May 5 2008 07:35

Awesome, both of you. Have sent you an email, stormwrecker.

David in Atlanta
Joined: 21-04-06
May 7 2008 14:32

It would be really useful to have more of Dejacque's writings translated, particularly those dealing directly with US affairs. Amateur historians of abolitionism and the early workers movement would be highly appreciative

David in Atlanta
Joined: 21-04-06
May 7 2008 14:35


Potemkin's picture
Joined: 29-04-07
Jul 29 2008 19:57

Greetings all,

Sorry for the late addition to this conversation, but I am very interested in Dejacque, as well. Unfortunately, I can't read French, and there seems to be hardly anything of his is English. I've been working with a few people to get some of his stuff translated. The first result of this is a letter he wrote while in the United States - very interesting! I'm trying to get an archive of his stuff (in English) going, and the letter, to Pierre Vésinier, can be viewed here: (an)archive - Joseph Dejacque.


David in Atlanta
Joined: 21-04-06
Aug 12 2008 22:41

Well I'm glad he approved of Brown at any rate!

gatito negro
Joined: 23-01-08
Aug 13 2008 11:46

Dejacque's text "Against the dictadure" (Spanish version):

Reddebrek's picture
Joined: 4-01-12
Feb 26 2018 20:08

Hey there, I'm bumping this to say there has been a bit more English language Dejacque writing online, both here and at the anarchist library.

I'm also interested if there are any more english translations of his works. I've created a twitter bot to encourage interest in his writing and would love to add more to it.

Joined: 11-10-06
Feb 28 2018 01:16

I think most of those translations are by Shawn Wilbur - he seems to have removed and consolidated some of his blogs recently but in addition to those texts links to his draft versions of various Dejacque texts can be found on this page :

and a PDF of (presumably final versions) of others from this link

Given his fondness for moving texts around I'd grab what you can - I'd previously archived a bunch of links but found they were all dead and had to start again.

Serge Forward's picture
Serge Forward
Joined: 14-01-04
Feb 28 2018 09:58

^^^ There are some ace texts on there! Thanks for the link.

Reddebrek's picture
Joined: 4-01-12
Feb 28 2018 13:31

Thanks Lurdan those do look very interesting.

Method of Freedom's picture
Method of Freedom
Joined: 17-02-17
Mar 1 2018 21:22

In addition to what has already been posted

His utopian novel L'Humanisphere (in english) with introduction and an appendix on slavery

to the machine-breakers

Robert Graham anthology, Anarchism A documentary history of Libertarian Ideas vol.1 has a section from Déjacque Revolutionary question, Of Government (page 61) not included in the Down with the Bosses pdf

There are two by/about him in the collection IN WHICH THE PHANTOMS
ON THE TOMB OF LOUISE JULIEN, EXILE (page 7) and his trial (page 10))

Shawn Willbur's essay on his use of anarchism rather than anarchy

There are sections of him in Nick Heath's pre-history of the idea (The picture of the essay is not actually of him, but Imre Madách)

Ther is also some Information of him in Ch.1 in Robert Graham's We Do Not Fear Anarchy We InvokeIt: The First International and the Origins of the Anarchist Movement and Ch.6 of Max Nettlau's A Short History of Anarchism

Joined: 22-10-06
Mar 5 2018 21:59

Here is my recent translation of his letter to Proudhon:

On the Male and Female Human-Being

It is at the end of my 160 Years of Libertarian which recounts anarchist use of the term since Déjacque coined the term.

Joaos's picture
Joined: 25-02-10
Mar 20 2018 22:57

Here are some excerpts gathering some of the most impressive ideas from L'humanisphere: