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( => ( => ( => Discourse on Voluntary Servitude [pageid] => 44507849 ) =>
Discourse on Voluntary Servitude,
or the Against-One
""LaBoétie001.jpg
Author "Étienne de La Boétie
Original title Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un
Country "Kingdom of France
Language "Middle French
Genre "Essay
Publication date
1576

The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude, or the Against-One ("French: Discours de la servitude volontaire ou le Contr'un) is the most famous work of "Étienne de La Boétie. The text was written probably around 1549 and published "clandestinely in 1576 under the title of Le Contr'un ("The Against-One"). "One" here means 'single ruler'.

The date of preparation of the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude is uncertain: according to recent studies it was composed by Étienne de La Boétie during his university education. According to his closest friend "Michel de Montaigne, the speech was written when La Boétie was about 18 years old.[1]

Contents

Content[edit]

The essay argues that any "tyrant remains in power until his subjects grant him that, therefore delegitimizing every form of power. The original freedom of men would be indeed abandoned by society which, once corrupted by the "habit, would have preferred the servitude of the courtier to the freedom of the free man, who refuses to be submissive and to obey.

This relation between domain and obedience would be resumed later by "anarchist thinkers. "Lew Rockwell summarizes La Boétie’s political philosophy as follows:

To him, the great mystery of politics was obedience to rulers. Why in the world do people agree to be looted and otherwise oppressed by government overlords? It is not just fear, Boetie explains in “The Discourse on Voluntary Servitude,” for our consent is required. And that consent can be non-violently withdrawn.[2]

Influence[edit]

The thought of La Boétie was also taken up by many movements of "civil disobedience, which drew from the concept of rebellion to voluntary servitude the foundation of its instrument of struggle. Étienne de La Boétie was one of the first to theorize and propose the strategy of "non-cooperation, and thus a form of nonviolent disobedience, as a really effective weapon.

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rockwell, Lew (11 February 2011), p. 38. n. 2. "Having remained long in manuscript, the actual date of writing the Discourse of Voluntary Servitude remains a matter of dispute. It seems clear, however, and has been so accepted by recent authorities, that Montaigne's published story that La Boétie wrote the Discourse at the age of eighteen or even of sixteen was incorrect. Montaigne's statement, as we shall see further below, was probably part of his later campaign to guard his dead friend's reputation by dissociating him from the revolutionary Huguenots who were claiming La Boétie's pamphlet for their own. Extreme youth tended to cast the Discourse in the light of a work so youthful that the radical content was hardly to be taken seriously as the views of the author. Internal evidence as well as the erudition expressed in the work make it likely that the Discourse was written in 1552 or 1553, at the age of twenty-two, while La Boétie was at the university." See Paul Bonnefon (1892), pp. 390–1; and Donald Frame, Montaigne: A Biography (New York: Harcourt Brace, & World, 1965), p. 71 (37–38 n. 2).
  2. ^ "Rockwell, Lew (11 February 2011), Étienne de la Boetie and Egypt["permanent dead link], "LewRockwell.com

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

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