I do not want to be a tyrant


Drawing by Thea Gar

By Ricardo Flores Magón

Translated by Duncan Riley

Originally published in Regeneración, no date given


I do not fight for government posts. I have received insinuations from many maderistas of good faith, those that there are, and there are quite enough, asking me to accept a position in the so-called “provisional” government, and the position they ask me to accept is that of the Vice-president of the Republic.[1] Above all I must say that I loathe governments. I am firmly convinced that that there is not, and cannot be, a good government. All are bad, whether called absolute monarchies or constitutional republics. Government is tyranny because it restricts the free initiative of individuals and only serves to sustain a social state improper for the integral development of human beings. Governments are the guardians of the interests of the rich and educated classes, and the executioners of the holy rights of the proletariat. I do not want, as such, to be a tyrant. I am a revolutionary and I will be until I breathe my last breath. I want to always be at the side of my brothers, the poor, to fight for them, not at the side of the rich nor the politicians, the oppressors of the poor. In the ranks of the working people I am more useful to humanity than seated on a throne, surrounded by lackeys and bad politicians. If the people one day had the dreadful whim to acclaim me as their ruler, I would tell them: “I was not born to be an executioner. Look for another.”

I fight for the economic freedom of the workers. My ideal is that man come to possess all that is necessary to live without having to depend on any master, and I believe, like all the Liberals of good faith believe, that the moment for all men of good will to take a step towards true liberty, seizing the land from the claws of the rich, including Madero, in order to give it to its legitimate owner, the working people, has arrived.[2] This achieved, the people will be free. But this will not be if Madero is elevated to the Presidency of the Republic, for neither Madero, nor any ruler, will dare to make a step of that nature, and if they did, the rich would rise up in arms and a new revolution would follow the present one. In this revolution, the one which we are contemplating and trying to foment, we must take the land from the rich.

Translator’s notes

[1] Maderistas were the followers of Francisco I. Madero, a liberal reformist who led the initial effort to depose the Porfirio Díaz regime in 1910.

[2] Liberals, here, refers to Magón’s “Mexican Liberal Party,” which by this time had adopted an anarcho-communist position.

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