George's Reviews > The Politics of Obedience and Etienne de La Boetie: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude

The Politics of Obedience and Etienne de La Boetie by Étienne de La Boétie
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Aug 22, 2009

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“Tyrants would distribute largess, a bushel of wheat, a gallon of wine, and a sesterce: and then everybody would shamelessly cry, “Long live the King!” The fools did not realize that they were merely recovering a portion of their own property, and that their ruler could not have given them what they were receiving without having first taken it from them.” ---Pg (70)

I found this little book, unread, at the bottom of a draw; buried probably for more than thirty years. (My copy’s copyrighted in 1975.) I’m glad I found it, and I’m glad to have read it.

La Boetie speaks well of liberty and ill of tyranny. Who doesn’t? Those who’d eagerly trade your liberty for the chance to scatter a few unearned crumbs on your neighbor’s plate, probably louder than most.

La Boetie, however, was honest and perceptive enough to recognize the elephant in the room. What one eloquent novelist/philosopher, four centuries after ‘The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude’ was written, would refer to as, “the sanction of the victim”. [See: ‘Atlas Shrugged’, Part II, Chapter 4.]

Recommendation: For the libertarian, non-violent anarchist, streak in all of us who haven’t conceded defeat.

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