Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), Revolutionary

Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), one of the leaders in the French Revolution, was murdered while taking a bath. He was already in poor health because for two years he had been kept on the run by anti-revolutionary forces and had to live in very bad surroundings.

“Revolution is a natural right of The People”, he said and in March 1789 he proclaimed the violent Revolution. “Violence by The People is legitimate, it remains always far inferior to the sum of all injustices by the despots over the centuries”.
He propagated that the “Revolution will be a kind of guerrilla in which we can attack the enemy in all places where the army cannot be used. This means that we can deprive the enemy of all his advantages”.
He edited the “L’ Ami du Peuple” , the “People’s Friend” a famous journal in the name of the sans-culottes, the  street-fighting French Revolutionaries. He trusted the masses because his basic idea was “to let the masses participate, the only people who really cheer freedom”.

He participated and stood behind the poor in the struggle against rich people. Later he was revered in leftist circles for his revolutionary attitude but his ideas were hardly used. He pointed to the importance of the struggle against powerful persons and introduced the idea of forming patriotic clubs to control representatives.  One of the clubs was the “Societé des Vengeurs dela Loi”, “the Club of Avengers of the Law”.
The clubs are a kind of Permanent Revolution because they  continuously control representatives (and the 1%) by a constant surveillance. It is direct democracy on leading persons when the clubs have means to their disposal to exercise pressure. “Their goal is to pursue the punishment of all crimes that attack the security and the liberty be it public or individual”.

His revolutionary “People’s Friend” was time and again disturbed by magazines with the same name, that propagated other policies. But Marat wrote that “it was easy to distinguish the sham magazines from the true “People’s Friend” because their authors (humbugs) always preached peace, tolerance, patience, submission to laws, obedience etc”.
“The ‘Friend of the People’ has never been directed against common citizens. It has only attacked people in the civil service, unreliable bookkeepers, magistrates who neglected their duties, representatives of the people who forgot their obligations and betrayed their principals. And its respect for justice was so high that the paper even found laudable exceptions in the most corrupt circles”.

Marat did not want to use only words against the people at the top. He proposed the formation of Patriotic Clubs that should analyse and examine the deeds of leading people:
“Patriotic Clubs will only pay attention to people in the civil services and unite the forces of the people in order to make up for the grievances of citizens. They will punish the agents of the authorities who are guilty, stop the continuation of their bad deeds and safeguard the well-being of the people …… but we will never be a club that is involved in the process of making decisions. That should be a serious mistake: a free union of citizens is not allowed to meddle in public affairs, to govern or to administrate. That must be clear: a club has only the simple and pure right to make propositions, to give advice and to ask questions. But when the freedom and the safety of the people is attacked it is not only advisor but also agitator, censor, punisher and even killer ……”
“The only goal is the punishment of the perpetrators of crimes against public and individual freedom and safety. Therefore the clubs are not open for people who are attached to the Royal Court, for Queens’ Commissioners, for members of leading academic clubs, for gentlemen of independent means, for captains of finance, for speculators on the bourse, for attorney-generals, for members of the Parisian military police and for members of the town council. And one should be very careful to admit noblemen, members of the judicature or high army officers…..”

Marat did not want the misdeeds of members of the leading class to be judged and tried by other members of that class as is normal in our present society. He did not limit the height of the punishments: “When now some heads are spared then in the future much more blood will have to ran in the streets….”. Because of this remark, Marat has been portrayed as one of the most bloodthirsty characters of the French Revolution. His goal was simple, “to stop corruption and other crimes of the leading class that caused too much misery and also too many dead common citizens from the lower regions of society”. He was very close to an idea common in many revolutionary movements: “punish one in order to educate a hundred”.

Marat proposed an attack on two fronts. “Between the clan of the privileged and The People, between the small number and the masses, reconciliation is not possible. But also is needed a fight against the apathetic people who are also called reasonable”. Marat claimed the right of the oppressed on violent actions.

In those turbulent times Marat wanted to protect the achievements of the French Revolution with his Patriotic Clubs. He wanted to prevent that the old leading class should regain the power they lost to The People. The current situation in the rich Western countries is not very turbulent. But the organisation of society in the time of Marat does not differ principally from the present situation. Our democracy has his roots in the French Revolution and the ideas of Montesquieu about the Trias Politica. There exists a deep separation between the 1% and the 99%. The Trias Politica regulates in the first place conflicts inside the 1%. The influence of the 99% was small and is two hundred years after the French Revolution still negligible.

Only masspeople, people without power, can belong to the Autonomous Clubs of Marat. A multitude of such clubs will form a new controlling fourth power next to the existing Trias Politica. The 1% may not have any influence on this new power. The three separated powers of Montesquieu increased the freedom of the leading class, the new autonomous fourth power will increase the freedom of the common citizen.

Joost van Steenis

Free Download of my latest book “From Chaos to Change, entering a New Era”:  “Down with any elite”  ,
Facebook Group “Occupy the 1%”

12 Responses to Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), Revolutionary

  1. Pingback: How to get success with an Autonomous Club | downwithelite

  2. Stan says:

    Thanks for reply. Could you find a time to read this writing:
    I think it is a very good knowlege that could help in a future organization.
    Best regards,

    • Hello Stan,

      I have skipped through Ortegrety and I am sorry to say but I am not impressed.
      You start with putting violence in front of everything while I am the opinion that violence is only a means, an instrument in the communication of humans and not a central aspect. Violence is a result of the skewed power relations between humans in our present world. In actions it is only a means to achieve something. When you want change you must not abandon the use of one of the means then you are fighting with one hand tied to your back. Btw, you have to define what is violence. Killing someone or putting psychological pressure on someone (to name only two aspects).

      Violence in our society can often been described as violence from powerful people (higher up in the hierarchical power pyramid) against people in lower echelons. The power structure has to be destroyed (a violent word!) and then relations between humans will change. The more the present system cannot be changed by only using some kind of violence. I propose to change the basic foundation of the present system and not a new kind of system. The present system is built on money (money and power are two sides of the same thing). Any decision taken is dominated by money and I propose a paradigm shift of this fundamentals (that are the cause of violence and the hierarchical society) by the idea that all people have the same status (see my latest book From Chaos to Change, free to download from my site )

      I do also not agree with giving so much weight to relations between dead entities (iron, chromium nickel). It is an example of reductionism and hardly useful because human society has living entities and not dead mechanical things. At the most it can give some ideas but these ideas have to be applied to a living world and not a mechanical world.

      Systems are neutral and should not be emphasized because than the individual role of humans is disappearing. The more by introducing a new system this system has to be enforced on humans and that includes violence and hierarchies (systems is advanced by some people who have a different role in society. Any system can be used by people with power for their own benefit. It is necessary that all people get an autonomous power (that includes again the use of some violence). That is my idea of Autonomous Clubs that control and veto decisions of decision-makers and when necessary punish them (again a word in the realm of violence).

      But without a change of paradigms, the basis of our society will not really change and for example racism can never be solved in the present structure. It is the use of power and violence against people on a lower echelon in the power pyramid (by using the mechanical argument of colour). When all people are not considered having the same status but when money rules the world, racism is used to defend the own position (as with many other inhuman arguments).

      In the end I am not interested in a new system, a new kind of society but on the road towards a new society – and I will see when we proceed on that road how that new society will look like. It will be very different from the present one because we cannot see now how a new society will be. To quote Thomas S. Kuhn about the small world of science in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: “….when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. Led by a new paradigm scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. Even more important, during revolutions scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before.”

      That is one of the basic foundations of my thinking, we cannot foresee the future so why should I think about the future. The road to that future is important, the future itself will be organised by the people who live then. We can only proceed on the road by beginning to change the fundamentals of the present human society.

      Thanks for the reaction, it helps me to formulate my thoughts better.

      Friendly greetings, Joost

  3. Pingback: The Fourth People’s Power and Autonomous Clubs | downwithelite

  4. Stan says:

    “…That should be a serious mistake: a free union of citizens is not allowed to meddle in public affairs, to govern or to administrate. That must be clear: a club has only the simple and pure right to make propositions, to give advice and to ask questions…”


    This is very a wise restriction.

    “…Only masspeople, people without power, can belong to the Autonomous Clubs of Marat. A multitude of such clubs will form a new controlling fourth power next to the existing Trias Politica…”


    Unfortunately restriction to “Only masspeople, people without power” is a very serious weakness of Marat proposal for “the Autonomous Clubs of Marat”.

    In masspeople there are people that often much worse than the worse one in 1% elites.

    There has to be very vigilant way to eliminate those very dangerous weeds from 99% who wants to participate in “the Autonomous Clubs of Marat” and who are often agents of the 1% elites.

    There is a way to eliminate some of them but never all of them.

    The second very important thing is to describe how to get the best decision of “the Autonomous Clubs of Marat”…I think never by so call majority decision!!! It would be the repetition of so called democratic decisions which are in practice a mob terror that is cleverly manipulated by the 1% elite.

    Best regards,


    • Hello Stan, Autonomous Clubs are small clubs of people who know each other. to a certain height. Of course there is always the danger of agents but when you become active there is always some risk. Most actions will stay within the existing laws so agents can hardly damage the group. The action targets will be simple. One or two leading people who are going to be pressured, so there is no need to have a “democratic” process of voting. When you do not want to pressure someone you do not enter the Club. And in actions no voting process is needed. Even within a club individuals can carry out actions that are not known to other members. It is very informal Sometimes unknown people will join the actions (that I have experienced in practice) and you could say that they have become members because they pressure the same target while these members do not even know other members. Do have some trust in the 99%. They will of course sometimes be obedient to the 1% but when the movement grows they will change their mind. Many revolutionaries of the past have changed their minds. One of the top-generals in the Chinese Revolution was in his youth a notorious drugs dealer. But just because of the splintered nature of the Clubs, rotten apples cannot do much harm. That is different when you have a fixed organisation. Then you have to weed out. An Autonomous Clubs is not a real organisation so nobody can weed out. The members are tied together because of the (restricted) target and only for a reasonable short time. The Clubs are temporary.

      Friendly greetings, Joost van Steenis

  5. Pingback: Jean-Paul Marat, revolutionary! | downwithelite

  6. No I* do not think there is and should be a leader of thought in a movement. Movements are based on ideas that are already present in society. Nobody ever started the idea of squatting houses but suddenly it was a movement. So we do not have to ngive it merit because the underlying idea of a movement is already alive. Before Marx there were already many ideas about a new world and Marat was one of them who phrased ideas about a new world, a communist avant le lettre. And suddenly The People are standing behind that vague idea. But then petrification can start when self-appointed leaders are giving details about the future and implement ideas about the way how to reach that future. Therefore the communist movement was not lasting. Too many details.With Occupy something else happeend, some leaders started to rephrase the goals and while the start of Occupy – that drew a lot of enthusiasm – was directed against the Financial Powers (Occupy the Financial Centres was the first slogan), the goal was changed in challenging the political power and the means were changed from pressuring the 1% to having partial political demands (e.g. more jobs, no foreclosures etc.) That is the reason the movement that started eight month ago is now dying. The new goal is not living under The People (as was the goal to do something against the greedy rich that caused the crisis for their own benefit) and the means are not in accordance to that goal (and there are harldy any successes). So it is not important who launched the vague goal, but what happens thereafter. The goal was changed and so the road towards the new future was also not clear anymore. The 1% is hardly mentioned in on the sites of Occupy and many people who were active in the beginning have left. So you can indeed wonder if Occupy is still a movement but has been changed in a leftist organisation comparable with organisation of the past that did not have much success in changing the world.

  7. Cole Rayne says:

    So who came up with the great “Occupy” idea anyway? If its a movement, there is usually a leader of thought, before we can justify giving it merit?

    • occupy says:

      Just so you know, there have been leaderless movements before. Occupy is not a leaderless movement, it is a leaderful movement. Everyone is a leader, whether they want to admit it or not. For Margaret Mead said:
      Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.

      • Occupy should indeed be a leaderless movement because leaders tend to have a narrow view of the world and force other people – with different ideas and experiences – to follow them. That is one of the reasons to promote the idea of Autonomous Clubs of interested and involved citizens so people can decide what, where, how and against whom they want to become active. Together these groups form the movement. It is not a new idea and sometimes tried out, e.g. in the Squatters Movement when small groups squatted houses and there was only a vague leadership (or even several leading centres) that had a say in biog actions. In Occupy most attention is concentrated on big actions and the pressure exercised by small groups on important powerful people is neglected. The state can cope with mass actions but not with the activity of many small temporary and difficult to trace autonomous groups who carry out unexpected actions. The big movement is a sound-board for discussions about the big goals of the Movement, in my words, the common goal: Taking the power and the money away from the 1%. See about the necessity of a leaderless movement

  8. Cole Rayne says:

    Who ever came up with the Occupy movement anyway?

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