Paul Brousse, “Propaganda by the Deed,” 1877:
Of what do the masses consist? Of peasants, workers, most of the time toiling eleven and twelve hours per day. They make their way home worn out from fatigue and have little inclination to read socialist pamphlets or newspapers: they sleep, they go for a stroll or devote their evenings to the family.
Well, what if there is a way of grabbing these people’s attention, of showing them what they cannot read, of teaching them socialism by means of actions and making them see, feel. touch? .. When one resorts to that line of reasoning one is on the trail that leads, beside theoretical propaganda, to propaganda by the deed.
Propaganda by the deed is a mighty means of rousing the popular consciousness. Let us take an example. Prior to the Paris Commune, who in France was conversant with the principle of communal autonomy? No one. Yet Proudhon had written magnificent books. Who read those books? A handful of literati. But once the idea was brought out into the open air, in the heart of the capital, onto the steps of the City Hall, when it took on flesh and life, it shook the peasant in his cottage, the worker at his fireside, and peasants and workers alike had to reflect on this huge question mark posted in the public square. Now that idea made inroads. In France, right around the world, for or against, everybody has picked his side … Continue reading “Propaganda by the Deed, original documents”