Discours de la servitude volontaire. Are we unconscious servants?


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 essay argues that any tyrant remains in power while 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 And that consent can be non-violently withdrawn.

You can read it here [ENG], enjoy!

PS: the “tyrant” concept here can be applied to modern corporations, or every kind of system 😉 Growl!

Hilsen fra Nanook, tidspunktet banen for nordområdene