The Bonnot Gang: The story of the French illegalists - Richard Parry

The Bonnot Gang: The story of the French illegalists - Richard Parry

This is the story of the infamous Bonnot Gang: the most notorious French anarchists ever, and the inventors of the motorized get-away. It is the story of how the anarchist taste for illegality developed into illegalism - the theory that theft is liberating. And how a number of young anarchists met in Paris in the years before the first world war, determined to live their lives to the full, regardless of the inevitable - and tragic - consequences.

A gripping historical thriller, Parry narrates their lives and background - a Paris of riots, strikes and savage repression. A stronghold of foreign exiles and home-grown revolutionaries. Victor Serge and 'l'anarchie' the individualist weekly. Their robberies, daring and violent, would give them a lasting notoriety in France. Their deaths, as spectacular as their lives, would make them a legend amongst revolutionaries the world over. Not only that, but they were all vegetarians, who drank only water!

It is also available for purchase here.

Richard Parry - The Bonnot Gang.pdf3.8 MB


Apr 22 2012 11:11

Hey, thanks for posting this, this book is excellent. Even if of course we don't agree with the politics. This book is exciting, gripping and tragic in equal measure. Not for serious politics but for human stories about people who refused to submit. Good stuff.

steve y
Jul 18 2012 16:59

I do not see how we can call them anarchists. Notorious, exciting or daring, maybe? Libertarian revolutionary catalysts, no! They are opposed to libcom.

steve y
Jul 18 2012 20:13

Now I've read even more about the Bonnot Gang, I'm even more disappointed that libcom gives these individual life-style 'anarchists' any credibility when it should be denunciation for using the label anarchist.

So 20 of the gang of all men last a few months of living it up, robbing banks, blowing up buildings, robbing a rich man Moreau and murdering him, but also shooting his working class maid - great heroes, yeh. Shoot-outs with the police and the gang is in my mind fortunately finished off. Such counter-revolutionaries in practice allowing the state to increase its armed police forces and laws, and what for, a bit of fun from the boredom of being frustrated petty 'narchists'.

Wiki states,

"In the aftermath of the collapse of the Bonnot Gang, French authorities used the threat of anarchist violence as the pretext for a substantial expansion in law enforcement power. Hundreds of raids were carried out against known anarchists and sympathizers (similar in scale to the Palmer Raids in the United States). Although the actions of the gang were not widely supported, even within the anarchist milieu, the mainstream press called for a general crackdown on left-wing revolutionary activity.
French anarchist communists attempted to distance themselves from illegalism and anarchist individualism as a whole. In August 1913, the Fédération Communiste-Anarchistes (FCA) condemned individualism as bourgeois and more in keeping with capitalism than communism. An article believed to have been written by Peter Kropotkin, in the British anarchist paper Freedom, argued that "Simple-minded young comrades were often led away by the illegalists' apparent anarchist logic; outsiders simply felt disgusted with anarchist ideas and definitely stopped their ears to any propaganda."

Get this 'bad stuff' crap glorification off libcom and the prominence that has been given to it. Otherwise other young anarchists, who are frustrated at the down periods of the revolution may think it a way out, and do a lot of harm to working class fighters and real anarchists.

for global revolution - stevey

Redwinged Blackbird
Jul 29 2012 19:24

Quiet, you bookburner...

steve y
Aug 5 2012 11:34

RB - I asked not for it to be removed, but not glorified and given such continual prominence on the front page of libcom. Read my last para above. Libcom admin seem to have seen the point of the danger to young impatient anarchists and the anarchist movement in general by removing the prominence of the story. RB, you say more about yourself than of me.

Aug 5 2012 11:46

Steve, we haven't changed the prominence of the story, it was on the front page for about a day or two which is generally how long new content we post stays on the front page. Then featured articles display randomly in the right-hand column.

steve y
Aug 5 2012 18:56

So, Steven - as I said "Libcom seem to have seen the point", and except for the first few days after I asked for it to be de-prioritised. The Bonnot Gang story has been upfront every two or three days since at least April, not just "a day or two" and I haven't seen the Bonnot story up front except for the first two days since I wrote the above in July. You think I am wrong on that, though I have quickly checked everyday.

However, considering the influence of libcom on young fresh anarchists nowadays, what happens if there is a sort-of-repeat of this anti-anarchism in say a period of downturn, of deepening crisis, of deepening state oppression; which is likely to happen before long as the global economic crisis deepens - will you be happy with the prominent prominence you have played in this? Don't you feel responsibility? Freedom and responsibility are not separate things you know, but have a dialectical relation.

We libertarian revolutionaries of all brands should reflect the new growing within the old, the way development in nature works as Kropotkin would have it, a future human harmonious/ordered society where love and cooperation, mutual-aid, etc, are the new way.

We know violence will be a part of the transition to a new truly human society because of the character of the ruling class. But we should glorify not the bourgeois way, but mutual solidarity.

Just like a minority of the youth in England's riots last summer held up a mirror to the bourgeoisie and said, "if the bankers and politicians can take what they want, then so can we, whoever it hurts"; and whilst some more aware youth focused on the police, banks, McDonald's, etc; many attacked ordinary people, looted corner shops, some died, etc - you defend this bourgeois mirror?!*?

And of course the crackdown was much bigger than against Occupy of the same year - the side of the riots that capitalism welcomed as cctv, police, courts and the media was used to spend much of the last year hounding not just these youth, but many innocent ones too. Get serious!

Aug 5 2012 20:43

No Steve, as I said it was on the front page for a couple of days after it was posted, then after that articles in the featured column on the right hand side of the page (which is what I assume you're talking about although you have not clarified) are chosen at random out of the few thousand featured articles. If this one showed up often for you then that is just by chance. And this is still a featured article and so will occasionally by chance end up in the featured column.

You may have noticed that elsewhere in the library we have a lot of articles about the CNT in Spain prior to the Spanish Civil War. Now of course the CNT ended up joining the government and ultimately helping put down the revolution.

If there is an anarchist revolution in the future in which a sizeable anarcho-syndicalist union decides to join the government then no, I will not feel a sense of responsibility for the role we have played in this, by virtue of having a couple of articles amongst thousands about the CNT being "featured" and so randomly showing up in the right-hand column of the site.

steve y
Aug 6 2012 08:35

We'll just have to agree to disagree on this Steven.

Black Badger
Aug 6 2012 14:41
We'll just have to agree to disagree on this Steven.

Translation: I'm right and you suck. Worrying about how the minds of fresh anarchists might be improperly influenced by the history of their forebears requires that you believe them to be stupider than we were when we started out. A very adult, very patronizing, very authoritarian, worry. Since when have proper anarchists been so self-righteous that we cannot allow people to make - and learn from - their own history, warts and all? Oh yeah, I remember now, we're on Libcom...

Sep 17 2012 07:12

Christ this a bunch of goddam nonsense and should be yanked off. It's like if a stirnerite became a robber. It's the same damn capitalist mentality, it serves to justify petty theft as a revolutionary act. It's just dumb, and shit politics as well.

Sep 17 2012 08:49

Would probably help to have read some Stirner or about illegalism first before making assertions, because you obviously don't know what you're talking about.