Fernando Pessoa

The Anarchist Banker



“As I explained, there can be no material adaptation to something that does not exist materially. However, were there suddenly to be a social revolution, there would exist, not a free society (because humanity is not as yet prepared for that), but the kind of dictatorship that wishes to institute a free society. Something like a free society would then already exist, albeit in a very sketchy, rudimentary form. There would then be something in material existence to which humanity could adapt itself. Were they capable of argument or thought, that is the argument that would be used by the fools who defend a dictatorship of the proletariat. That argument is, of course, not theirs but mine. I propose it as an objection to myself. And, as I will show you, it is false.
While it exists and whatever its aims or its main ideas, a revolutionary regime is materially only one thing, a revolutionary regime. Now a revolutionary regime means a dictatorship of war or, to be blunt, a despotic military regime, because a state of war is imposed on society by a part of that same society, the part that took power by revolutionary means. And what happens? Anyone adapting themselves to that regime, to its immediate, material reality, that of a despotic military regime, is becoming adapted to just that: a despotic military regime.The idea that inspired the revolutionaries the aims they espoused, have vanished completely from the social reality which is now occupied exclusively by a warrior mentality. So what emerges from a revolutionary dictatorship – and will emerge more fully the longer that dictatorship lasts – is a dictatorial warrior society, that is, military despotism. It couldn’t be anything else . And it has always been like that. I don’t know a lot about history but what I do know only confirms my theory; how could it not? What emerged from the political troubles in Rome? The Roman Empire and its military despotism. What emerged from the French revolution? Napoleon and his military despotism. And you just wait and see what emerges from the Russian revolution… something that will set back the creation of a free society by decades, but then what can you expect from a country of illiterates and mystics?
Anyway, that’s beside the point. Do you understand what I’m saying?”


“You’ll understand then how I reached this conclusion – Aim: an anarchist society, a free society; Means: a seamless change from a bourgeois society to a free society. That change will be prepared for and made possible by an intense, comprehensive, global propaganda campaign intended to predispose all minds to the idea of a free society and to weaken any resistance. Obviously, by propaganda I don’t just mean the written and spoken word, I mean everything, direct and indirect action, anything that might predispose people to a free society and weaken their resistance to its coming. Thus, having almost no resistance to overcome, the social revolution, when it happens, will be fast, easy and preclude any need to set up a revolutionary dictatorship because there will be no one to repress. If that is not possible, then neither is anarchism; and if anarchism is impossible then, as I’ve just proved, the only defensible, fair society is bourgeois society.
That’s why I became an anarchist and why and how I rejected as false and unnatural all other, less daring social doctrines.”


Posted: September 2018
Category: Essays