Paul Brousse, 1877

Propaganda by the deed is often wrongly equated with terrorism, when it really means is nothing more than leading by example, on the basis that actions speak louder than words. While this concept was articulated by earlier revolutionaries, such as Carlo Pisacane and Bakunin, it was made current by Paul Brousse ( 1844- 1912), at the time one of the most militant members of the anti-authoritarian International, whose article on the subject was printed in the Bulletin of the Jura Federation in August 1877, translated here by Paul Sharkely. The events referred to involved a demonstration in Berne, Switzerland. ill which Brousse took part, where the workers showed the revolutionary red flag. and an abortive uprising in Benevento, Italy, in which Cafiero and Malatesta participated. 

The Swiss bourgeoisie nurtures in the mind of the Swiss workingman a prejudice that he enjoys every possible freedom. We never weary of repeating to him: “No serious public freedom without economic equality. And what is it that underpins inequality? The State!” The people has little grasp of such abstractions; but offer it a tangible fact and it gets the point. Show it the article in the constitution allowing him to bring out the red flag, then bring out that flag: the State and the police will attack him; defend him: crowds will show up for the ensuing meeting; a few words of plain talk, and the people get the point. 18 March 1 877 was a practical demonstration laid on for Swiss working folk in the public square, that they do not, as they thought they did, enjoy freedom.

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