Let us go towards life


Image from the Partido Liberal Mexicano’s newspaper, Regeneración

By Ricardo Flores Magón

Translated by Duncan Riley

Originally published June of 1907 in Revolución

We, the revolutionaries, do not go in search of an illusion: we go in search of reality. The peoples do not take up arms now to impose a god or a religion; the gods rot in the holy books; the religions dissolve in the shadows of indifference. The Quran, the Vedas, the Bible, do not shine now: in their yellowing sheets the sad gods fade like the sun in winter twilight.

We go towards life. Yesterday the heavens were the objective of the peoples: now it is the earth. Now there are no hands that take up the lances of the knights. The scimitar of Allah lies in the glass cases of museums. The times of the god of Israel are made atheist. The dust of the dogmas disappears at the blowing of the years.

The great social commotions that had their genesis in religions have been left petrified in history. The French Revolution conquered the right to think, but it did not conquer the right to live, and the conscious men of all countries and races ready themselves to take that right.

We all have the right to live, say the philosophers, and this human doctrine has arrived at the heart of the clod like a beneficial dew. To live, for the man, does not mean to vegetate. To live means to be free and happy. We all have, more, the right to liberty and happiness.

Social inequality died in theory when it died metaphysically through the rebelliousness of thought. It is necessary that it dies in practice. To this end all the free men of the Earth direct their efforts.

Herein lies why, as revolutionaries, we do not go in search of an illusion. We do not fight for abstractions, but for material gains. We want the land to be for all, and for all, bread. By force blood must run, so that the conquests that are obtained benefit all and not an established social class.

For that reason, the multitudes listen to us; for that our voices arrives to the masses and awakes them, and, poor as we are, we can raise a people.

We are the plebe; but not the plebe of the pharaohs, withered and sick; nor the plebe of the Caesars, abject and servile; nor the plebe that waves palms at the passing of Porfirio Díaz. We are the rebel plebe against the yoke; we are the plebe of Spartacus, the plebe with which Munzer proclaims equality, the plebe that with Camille Desmoulins overwhelms the Bastille, the plebe that with Hidalgo sets fire to Granaditas,[1] we are the plebe that with Juárez sustains la Reforma.

We are the plebe that wakes in the midst of the party of the fed up and throws to the four winds like a thunderclap this unforgettable phrase: “All have the right to be free and happy!” And the people, that now do not await the word of God to come down from some Sinai graven in some tablets, listen to us. Underneath course fabrics the hearts of the loyal are set alight. In those black pigsties, where those that produce the happiness of the upper class are piled up and rot, enters a ray of hope. In the furrows the peon meditates. In the belly of the earth repeats the phrase to his comrades in chains. Over all parts one hears the anxious respiration of those that are going to rebel. In the darkness, a thousand nervous hands caress their weapons and a thousand impatient chests consider the days that pass like centuries, until one hears this cry of men: rebellion!

Fear flees from chests. Only the vile keep it. Fear is a heavy bale, which undress the valiant that are ashamed to be beasts of burden. The bales obligate them to stoop but the valiant want to walk upright. If one must support some weight, let it be a dignified weight of titans. Let it be the weight of a world or of a universe of responsibilities.

Submission is the cry of the vile; rebellion is the cry of men.

We go towards life; for that reason, the clod improves, for that reason the giant has awoken, and for that reason the brave ones do not retreat. From his Olympus, built from the rocks of Chapultepec,[2] a Jupiter of Zarzuela puts a price on the heads of those that struggle. His old hands sign savage sentences, his dishonored grey hairs curl like the hairs of a rabid wolf. Dishonor of old age, this perverse old man clings to life with the desperation of shipwrecked man. He has taken the life of thousands of men and fights with tooth and nail with death not to lose his own.

It does not matter. We, the revolutionaries, go forward. The abyss does not stop us: the water is more beautiful falling over a cliff.

If we die, we will die like suns, giving off light.

Translator’s notes

[1] Granaditas is the name of a grain exchange building in Guanajuato that was burned down by the patriot armies at the outset of the Mexican War of Independence.

[2] At that time, the residence of the Mexican president.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s