Writings by Emile Armand



Fifth Estate # 401, Summer 2018

a review of
Individualist Anarchism/Revolutionary Sexualism: Writings by Emile Armand. Pallaksch Press 2012 littleblackcart.com/books

This is a nice selected edition of mostly shorter tracts by the French sexpol individualist, Emile Armand (1872-1963). Alejandro De Acosta’s translations are excellent. Most informative are the essays “Life as Experiment,” “The Sexual Fantasists,” and “Revolutionary Sexualism.”

The gist: life is a series of experiments through which we extend our social, intellectual, and emotional horizon by seeking out or provoking new encounters and situations. Every obstacle that interferes with this project—cops, monogamy, work, etc.—must be overcome or destroyed. This puts our bodies into conflict with the law and with morality, a conflict which has the potential to open us to even greater experiences of freedom and joy.

For Armand, the most insidious controls are those that attempt to take command over, anesthetize, capture, and discipline our erotic bodies. On the question of sexual liberty he does not equivocate: to call oneself an anarchist, but to limit one’s “struggle” to economic, political, or intellectual arenas alone, is an “indefensible inconsistency.”

If we can’t maintain a practice of freedom with our bodies through our intimate relationships, we will remain profoundly compromised in our other commitments and associations: “one may say of a man or a woman that he or she is not liberated, or that his or her liberation is incomplete, when he or she sets up a watertight division between the search for pleasures of the sexual order and the search for pleasures of other sorts.”