Critical assessments

Patrick Hutton

Patrick H. Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition: The Blanquists in French Politics, 1864-1893. Berkeley CA: University of California Press, 1981

‘The Blanquist youth movement of the 1860s was formed out of a nucleus of student admirers who first became acquainted with Blanqui at Sainte-Pélagie. It was their interest in the legends of the revolutionary tradition which first drew these students to him. Just as Filippo Buonarroti, the companion of Babeuf in the conspiracy of 1796, had once acquainted the young Blanqui with the traditions of the French Revolution, so Blanqui served these aspiring revolutionaries of a new generation, who were intent upon re-establishing lines of continuity with the revolutionary underground of the early nineteenth century. In the mythology of the young Blanqui, his admirers saw the model of a life they wished to imitate. They were moved by his rejection of a comfortable career in order to pursue a higher moral calling. His willing acceptance of the image of the political outlaw dramatized for them the direct relationship between values and action in authentic political behaviour. Blanqui’s legend was an emblem of revolutionary courage and his life a vital link with the secret history of the popular revolution of 1792-1794 which the political elites of the nineteenth century had tried to sever. Thus “the old one” (Le Vieux), as they came to call Blanqui affectionately, became a mentor for youth, as these students looked back upon his secret societies as asylums in which the values of the popular revolution had been preserved.

But Blanqui was for his disciples more than a living archive of past revolutionary glories. He was a model of revolutionary asceticism. His followers stood in awe of the patience with which he endured imprisonment for most of his adult life. Those who shared his confinement pointedly comment upon the quasi-monastic regimen of work, conversation, and exercise from which he never permitted himself the slightest departure. Even out of prison, whether in seclusion abroad or in hiding in Paris, Blanqui displayed the same steadfast self-discipline. In his dedication to the economy of experience in every aspect of his personal style of life, he conveyed a sense of the great style of simplicity and courage to which a revolutionary must commit himself. For this reason, he did not build an organization, but called a following. His appeal to the youth movement which assumed his name in the latter half of the nineteenth century was in the authenticity of a way of life grounded in moral passion. […]

Because of Blanqui’s ability to identify his life with remembrance of the revolutionary tradition his legend assumed grand proportions. For his student followers of the Second Empire, the legend focused on his specific contribution to the revolutionary movement. For them, the name Blanqui inspired the awe of authority. To his rare commands, they were prepared to give unquestioning obedience. During the civil war of 1871, they lamented his absence as the loss of a lawgiver who might have provided the energy and direction needed to save the Commune of Paris from defeat by the national government at Versailles. But as the legend of Blanqui was reformulated in grandiose images during the early years of the Third Republic, it lost its power to inspire commitment.

In the years following the Commune, respect for Blanqui broadened to include many sympathizers who had had no previous connection with him and who rejected his specific strategies for revolution. The image of the rebellious youth, the essence of the early legend, was gradually discarded in favour of one of the aging sage of the revolutionary tradition. By 1879, his name had become the emblem of republican unity in the campaign for the amnesty of the Communards. In that year, he even won election to the Chamber of Deputies as a candidate symbolizing that cause.1° With heightened respectability came recognition for attributes thitherto unnoticed. Arthur Ranc, once Blanqui’s comrade in the revolutionary days of 1848, now likened Blanqui to Léon Gambetta, the moderate republican spokesman, as one of the few genuine statesmen of the age. […]

The fact that the legend of Blanqui exhibited so many faces and exerted such a diverse appeal suggests why it is difficult to define the extent of the man’s following. As a political movement, Blanquism was complex. Its influence was felt in different ways by different constituencies. Never a political party in the modern sense, it was something more than a coterie of professional revolutionaries. Its character has perhaps best been defined by Arthur Ranc, who drew a distinction between Blanquists of the first and second degree. The first group was composed of a relatively small number of conspirators-militants dedicated to the overthrow of the existing political order. The second designated a much larger group of sympathizers-politicians who looked upon Blanqui as a symbol of the republican cause. The conspirators were sectarian, given to intrigue and clandestine agitation. But the sympathizers, while occasionally willing to be demonstrative, were reluctant to be subversive. That is why the Blanquist movement cannot be regarded as a single political party. It is better described as two networks of followers, each employing different methods, yet reinforcing one another in their common identification of the values of the revolutionary tradition with the legend of Blanqui. The distinction between these two elements of Blanquism endures throughout the thirty-year history of the movement.

The conspirators emerged out of a network of friends and acquaintances formed in the Latin Quarter in the 1860. At its inception in 1864, this first Blanquist coterie numbered about fifteen. Nearly all were students at the University of Paris. Hailing from middle-class backgrounds, graduates of provincial lycées, they were young men of talent, sometimes of wealth, who were preparing for careers in the liberal professions. Among the first disciples of Blanqui were several medical students: Emile Villeneuve, Victor Jaclard, Léonce Levraud, Paul Dubois, and Pierre Vaissier. The group also included a number of aspiring lawyers, among them Edouard Losson, Eugène Protot, and Gustave Tridon. Louis Marchand and Germain Casse were journalists, testing their talents in the ephemeral newspapers of the Latin Quarter, while Edmond Levraud, a wine dealer, was the sole representative of the world of commercial affairs. Most of them had come to the university with distinguished records of academic achievement; yet they found their formal studies stultifying and soon drifted from their classes to the bohemias of the Left Bank. Like many Parisian students in that era, they were caught up in the ferment of this intellectual underground, in which interest in the revolutionary tradition was being rekindled after a decade of silence. They were attracted as well to the positivist philosophy of Auguste Comte, which taught that religion was a myth to be dispelled in the modern age. Blanqui’s future followers complained bitterly of the obscurantist influence of Catholic teaching on educational policies. The medical students, especially, regarded religious dogmas as an impediment to scientific research.

Hostile to a clericalism they associated with the Napoleonic regime, inspired by the history of the revolutionary movement in France, these young men joined the republican opposition, a rising force in the early 1860s. For a time, political conversations in the cafés of the Latin Quarter, together with occasional forays into the streets to heckle the imperial family on its official outings, constituted their most dangerous pursuits. Their encounter with Blanqui turned them toward a more serious style of political opposition. In following him, they chose to identify with the “damned of history,” his phrase for those who chose to be pariahs for justice’s sake. Was it not the choice, they argued, which Blanqui had made when he was a student some thirty-five years before? With Blanqui as their mentor, these students began to think of themselves as an elite circle of the revolutionary avant-garde, a self-conception considerably enhanced once they had successfully arranged Blanqui’s escape from the prison wing of the Necker hospital in 1865. Blanqui remained at liberty until the eve of the Commune. His followers, accepting conviction for political dissent as a badge of merit, passed in and out of Louis Napoleon’s prisons for the remaining years of the Second Empire. Confinement, then, was both a rite of initiation into, and a training ground for, the Blanquist conspiracy of the 1860s. During the decade, virtually all Blanqui’s followers were imprisoned at least once, and a few, such as Casse, Humbert, and Rigault, compiled impressive records of prosecution and imprisonment. […]

The character of the Blanquist conspiracy was shaped as well by Blanqui’s didactic yet distant relationship with his followers. A group of five or six young men enjoyed a privileged relationship with him and interceded for him with the rest of the entourage. In this way, the Blanquist coterie, while seeking recruits for a wider conspiracy, created an inner circle-a kind of elite within the elite Blanquist comradeship. Edmond Levraud, Edouard Losson, Victor Jaclard, Eugène Protot, Gustave Tridon, and Emile Villeneuve corresponded regularly with Blanqui and relied upon him heavily for advice and moral support. Acting as their tutor in revolutionary politics, Blanqui asked them to prepare biographical sketches of prominent historical personalities so that they would better understand the nature of the contemporary struggle. Edouard Losson wrote an essay on Anacharsis Cloots (for whom the Blanquists showed surprising sympathy), and Emile Villeneuve composed a sketch describing the treachery of Louis XVI. Gustave Tridon prepared detailed studies of the historical origins of the neo-Girondin ideology of such contemporary republican politicians as Jules Simon and Emile Garnier.

Such exercises were designed by Blanqui to provide his disciples with a theoretical grounding in the deep sources of the cause to which they had committed themselves; in moving from the theoretical to the practical plane, however, Blanqui played a more cautious role. His scrupulous attention to detail and his sensitivity to the timing of political strategies prompted him to restrain rather than encourage his disciples in their enthusiasm for direct action. Thus Blanqui expressed exasperation over Emile Villeneuve’s premature and clumsy efforts to expand Blanquist activities in 1866. His refusal to permit his disciples to intervene in the proceedings of the congress of the First Workingmen’s International at Geneva in September 1866 provoked a confrontation between those who obeyed and those who defied his order. It was with many reservations that he helped his followers plan the storming of the arsenal at La Villette in August 1870, an adventure conceived and executed in imitation of the uprising he had led in 1839 (and equally disastrous in its consequences). During the one demonstration of the Siege of Paris which might have taken an insurrectionary turn, that of October 31, 1870, he abandoned any design he might have had to overthrow the provisional government, once he had been reassured about its intentions to continue the war against the Prussians.

Blanqui’s directives, like his intellectual direction, were generally given from afar. During the late 1860s, he was rarely visible even to his favoured disciples. Living for the most part in seclusion in Brussels at the home of his old friend Dr. Louis Watteau, he visited Paris only on rare occasions and always in disguise. Some Blanquist militants claim never to have seen him at all, and within the inner circle only Tridon had frequent, direct contact with him.’ (Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition, 21-6)


‘There were many similarities between Bakunin’s anarchism and Blanqui’s Jacobinism. Both stressed the elemental, creative power of the popular will to revolt, and both attached considerable importance to the role of secret societies in catalyzing it. Their differences over the use of political power in the wake of a popular revolt did not present themselves until the Paris Commune. As personalities, Blanqui and Bakunin provide a study in contrasts. Blanqui was aloof, tiny in stature, and self-contained, whereas Bakunin was gregarious, physically imposing, and exuberant. Yet Bakunin, like Blanqui, was legendary for the adversity he had overcome in his single-minded commitment to revolution; hence he drew admirers for many of the same reasons Blanqui did. It was their rivalry for the affections of radical youth, as much as their ideological differences, which set them at odds in the late 1860s and which prompted some Blanquist youths to shift their allegiance.

Despite the rivalry of the International in the last years of the Second Empire, the Blanquist conspiracy began to assume the proportions of a better disciplined and more elaborate organization with specific revolutionary objectives. Beginning in 1867, and with increasing seriousness of purpose until 1870, Blanquist militants created a secret network of paramilitary cells, each of ten members and each unaware of the personnel in other groupings and of the size of the larger membership. These units mustered regularly for nocturnal training exercises, sessions at which, one former militant claims, they were often inspected by Blanqui, who loitered nearby in disguise. Inspector Lagrange, the police official responsible for the surveillance of subversives at Paris during the Second Empire, claims that this secret society possessed a combined membership of nearly three thousand by 1870. Historians sympathetic to the Blanquists generally accept this estimate. But the reliability of the figure is questionable, since Lagrange, who offered it in testimony before the military court of inquiry which was investigating the origins of the Commune, had good reason to exaggerate. The Blanquists themselves vaunt the fact that they escaped police detection by avoiding written records and by passing all orders verbally.’ (Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition, 30-1)


‘[The Blanquists’] discipleship was to the man Blanqui, but even more so to his legend, a legend which enabled them to participate vicariously in the historical creation of the revolutionary tradition. Their goal was to translate the ideal of fraternity which they had experienced in their own circle into a wider vision of community, first for the people of Paris, eventually for the people of France. The source of their inspiration was the Revolutionary Commune of 1793, cast in their memories as a community forged through heroic struggle.

In the experience of Hébert, Chaumette, Ronsin, and their followers, the Blanquists discovered an ideal of revolutionary solidarity to which they were determined to return. The revolutionary tradition for these militants was not a historical experience upon which to build but a timeless consciousness waiting to be reawakened. The Blanquists’ return to revolutionary precedent, therefore, was also a return to archaic time, where change was measured in terms of recurrent cycles of consciousness recalled out of a primordial golden age. The past, the Blanquists believed, could be relived as well as remembered. The task was to re-enter the passions, hopes, and anxieties of revolutionaries who had gone before. To the extent that these emotions could be recaptured, timebound experience could be transcended. More than a method for fomenting popular insurrection, Blanquism was a commitment to revolutionary struggle as a means of consciousness-raising to this timeless plane. […]

The first commentator to view their ideology with more critical insight was the German Marxist theoretician Eduard Bernstein, who wrote about the Blanquist movement in 1893, around the time of its demise. Bernstein […] explained that elemental combativeness for the Blanquists was a source of creativity and praised this capacity in them. In taking advantage of any potentially explosive situation, he claimed, the Blanquists believed they were stimulating an infectious awareness that a sense of community is given to those who engage in revolutionary struggle. Bernstein accurately appraised Blanquist intentions, but with a certain condescension. Like Vaillant, he believed that wilfulness counted for little in comparison with larger historical trends. As a paradigm of history, Blanquism in Bernstein’s view was theoretically deficient in its neglect of economic considerations. Other facets of the model -the need for some decisive turning point, for example-were for him obviated by the practices of mass politics. The Blanquists might claim to espouse a perennial philosophy, but their doctrine had in fact been rendered obsolete by changing historical necessities. [Edouard Bernstein, Socialisme théorique et social-démocratie pratique, trans. Alexandre Cohen (Paris, 1900), pp. 47-63]

Bernstein dismissed Blanquist ideology because it failed to conform to the requirements of the Marxist model of development. Yet the Blanquist conception of revolutionary creativity invites an interesting comparison with the young Marx’s conception of praxis, a conception with which Bernstein was unfamiliar but which has attracted much attention on the part of Marxist intellectuals in the twentieth century. These theorists have reintroduced into their discussions the heroic dimension of Marx’s early writings, carefully excised by nineteenth-century admirers who wanted to make of his doctrine a science of society. The Blanquists never grasped the Hegelian principle of dialectical change upon which Marx’s theory of revolution was based, but they were close to the young Marx in their interest in the relationship between wilfulness and creativity. Both Marxists and Blanquists shied away from provisional statements about the specific characteristics of the good society toward which they were striving, preferring instead to depict their hopes for its coming in aesthetic images. Hence, the problem of aesthetics counted for a great deal in both ideologies.

It is in their contrasting conceptions of the use of aesthetics that the differences of the two groups concerning the role of creativity in revolutionary change become clear. Whereas the Marxists stressed the importance of creative improvisation in the formation of social consciousness, the Blanquists ascribed to creative endeavour the task of objectifying a pre-existing ideal of social harmony. For the Blanquists believed they had discovered the principles governing the social order in the interplay between energy and matter in the natural order. For this reason, they were especially concerned with aesthetic effect as the leaven of revolutionary agitation. Intellectual statement alone was insufficient. The need was to move men to a deeper awareness of the meaning of an idea. Tridon was revered by his companions not because of the force of his intellectual argument (which they believed had been developed’ by the eighteenth-century materialists), but because of the power of his style. His essay Les Hébertistes they judged a masterpiece of literature as well as history because of his ability to create a poetic image of radical revolution which could draw readers to sense its reality. In his friend Regnard’s mind, Tridon’s greatest achievement was the success of his hard-won striving after stylistic effect. His benefactor, Louis Watteau, likened him to the sixteenth-century critic La Boétie for his capacity to write history in a classical literary idiom.

The Blanquists’ passion for great style was not limited to literature. The idea of style was more broadly conceived as an ability to give aesthetic definition to one’s values through the quality of one’s life experience. Blanqui’s life was valued not for his specific accomplishments, but for the authenticity of the style in which he had pursued his ideological commitments. His lifestyle was likened by his followers to a work of art. Herein lies the deeper meaning of his legend, which enshrined his pilgrimage through life as a way of life worthy of imitation. In this sense, revolution for Blanqui’s followers was a calling to change the world by first changing themselves. Duval, Ferré, Rigault, and Eudes, the “immortals” of the Blanquist circle, were honoured by their comrades for the style with which they had persevered in their commitments, even in the face of death. Because of their reverence for style, the Blanquists needed not only to project their vision whole, but also to experience it concretely. This accounts for their determination through the years to give their ideology a ritual expression: ritual was a means of making explicit in aesthetic images the style of their revolutionary calling. The Blanquists engaged in rituals from the outset of their association, at first in simple ceremonies almost unknowingly, in time in elaborate festivals quite self-consciously. The forms varied, depending upon the occasion. But in the ensemble of their imagery they provided a typology of revolutionary experience. Whether associated with festivals of victory, the pageantry of revolutionary combat, or the elegy of martyrdom and defeat, all were designed to satisfy their unstated need for graphic tableaux with which to appeal to popular emotions. […]

The Blanquists’ conception of revolution assumed many forms as their interests changed and as new realities forced new considerations upon them. With some ingenuity, they transformed their initial philosophical interest (radical atheism) into a political interest (Communard nationalism), then into a socioeconomic interest (Boulangist populism), and finally into a biological interest (vitalist determinism). Through each metamorphosis, the Blanquist paradigm of the revolutionary struggle conformed to the same conceptual structure; but each time it was adorned with a fresh vocabulary and publicized with diminished confidence. By the 1870s, Blanquist ideology had acquired a decorative appeal for a substantial portion of the French Left. But as the Vocabulary of the Blanquists grew ever more remote from their initial insight into the revolutionary implications of atheism, their model of revolution became less useful as a basis for practical action in the world. Hence they retreated from enthusiastic participation in the present world to the formalized imitation of past experience in an artificial world of their own making.

Determined initially to project the Parisian revolution outward upon France and Europe, the Blanquists finally internalized their conception of revolution to such an extent that it hardly touched anyone beyond their own circle. At the time of the Boulangist crisis, a major faction of the party decided to discard Blanquist ideology altogether because of the illusionary spell with which it obscured present problems. In keeping with the Blanquists’ fondness for cyclical history, it was appropriate for them to hope that 1893, the centennial of the birth of Hébertist ideology, would also mark its revival. But by the turn of the century, the power of the legend of Blanqui to command respect for the revolutionary tradition appears to have been spent. The new socialism, the issue of a new paradigm, had clearly won the day. […]

The Blanquists’ journey through a generation of revolutionary activism was a passage from faith in their revolutionary calling to scepticism about its efficacy. Its stages are easily plotted: from the enthusiastic convictions of the youth of the 1860s, to the piety of the young men of the 1870s, to the ceremonial formalism of the middle-aged men of the 1880s, to the doubts of the old men of the 1890s. In the beginning, the Blanquists spoke as sceptics yet silently behaved as believers in the revolutionary power of their materialist cosmology; in the end, they vaunted their belief in the coming of revolution yet in their hearts questioned their own power to achieve even reformist ends. In this way, they did live out their cyclical vision of history. It was not in the logic of a law of history, but in the logic of their self-conceptions that their revolutionary activity came full circle; for their vision of revolution evoked not a state of affairs but a state of mind. In the ideal of fraternity to which they held fast through all the transmutations of their doctrine, they sought a timeless ground of revolutionary consciousness which it would always be possible, given the will and the courage, to recall. Their quest for community was at its deepest level a quest for immortality. This quest reveals the essentially religious character of the Blanquists’ revolutionary endeavour. A group which dedicated itself to such a complete and unrelenting attack on Christian religious doctrine could not avoid imitating its conceptual structure. Blanquist atheism in Tridon’s writings was not unlike a profane inversion of the Augustinian doctrine of grace and election. The rituals of the politics of anniversary remembrance, especially the rites of passage, were strikingly close in format to those of Catholic religious observance. Yet not only in its rituals and dogmas did the religious character of Blanquist ideology reside. It was derived especially from the call to courage-the risk toward self-transcendence-which was the inspiring purpose behind the legend of Blanqui. The appeal of Blanqui to the republican youth of the 1860s who chose to follow him was in the challenge of a heroic and idealistic way of life and accounts for the martial tone in which they tried to convey its meaning. The revolutionary commitment, however, proved to be an especially difficult act of faith, with its open-ended demands for perseverance in a relentless crusade.

Herein lies the source of the erosion of the Blanquists’ revolutionary conviction. The problem was not their disenchantment with their model of revolution considered as an intellectual construct. To the contrary, they proved resilient in their capacity to restate their conception of revolution in new vocabularies designed to address new problems. Bernstein’s charge that the Blanquist model lacked a basis for theoretical elaboration underestimated its possibilities. Rather, it was the Blanquist goal of inspired community which was extreme and unyielding. In their claim that revolutionary will alone could make such a community a reality, the Blanquists set themselves a task which promised adventure in a high calling but which was vulnerable to great disappointment. The crucial test for the Blanquists in this respect was the Siege of Paris of 1870, in which they and other advocates of a staunch defense were overwhelmingly outmatched militarily by the Prussians and excluded politically by moderates within the provisional government.

Historians have praised Blanqui’s daily call to battle in the columns of La patrie en danger and have not ceased to speculate about the difference his participation in the Commune might have made in promoting more energetic combat and in inspiring moral courage. But there is a point at which the call to courage becomes a temptation to fantasy. In clinging to a myth of the Commune’s enduring viability in the face of its obvious failings, the Blanquists passed the frontier into that imaginary land wherein they could fulfil the aspirations of their aesthetic reverie free of the intrusion of harsh realities. Such fantasies were far from innocuous, as the arbitrary and capricious looting and executions carried out in the name of the Hébertist ideal by Rigault, Ferré, and their subordinates in the last days of the Commune attest. The evil worked by the pursuit of religious illusion had been a cardinal tenet of the Blanquists’ indictment of Christianity. The fact that they failed to recognize evil’s presence in their pursuit of their own illusions does not lessen its reality. What had begun as a risk toward self-transcendence eventually became a denial of its possibility. It was this glorification of violence in the name of highly abstract, internalized ideals which provides the analogy between Blanquist ideology and fascist doctrines in the twentieth century — as much as the specific points of “national socialist” doctrine which the Blanquists extolled in their declining years.

The nature of the Blanquists’ pursuit placed them not only on the extreme fringe of revolutionary politics, but also on the extreme fringe of social understanding. It is in this context that their ideal of fraternity must be evaluated. In their conceptions of the good society, most men settle for the comic mean of sociable relations, where obligations are often ambiguously understood yet easily satisfied. The Blanquists preferred the tragic extreme of social virtue, where commitments are clearly defined but difficult to fulfil. Like the artist David, whose sketches of 1793 they valued so much, the Blanquists wanted images which were pure and sharply etched. Whereas such images seemed a sound basis for comradeship in the well-defined world of Second Empire realism, they became an impossible foundation for community amid the blurred forms of Third Republic impressionism, where political realities were more complex and ideological issues more confusing. […]

Blanquist ideology, therefore, has bequeathed a mixed legacy to the present age. Yet the lasting significance of Blanquist thought is derived not only from its legacy but also from the insights it offers into the workings of the archaic revolutionary mentality. That mentality, as shown here, exhibited a profound fascination with pristine origins and hence drew deeply upon the values identified with the birth of the revolutionary movement in France in the late eighteenth century. As long as these values remained a vital resource for the revolutionary movement, as they did well into the nineteenth century, the Blanquists were able to identify with forces seeking to change French political institutions. But as the French revolutionary tradition ceased to inspire revolutionary action in a practical way after the fall of the Commune, the Blanquists were obliged to internalize these values in the rituals of anniversary remembrance, and to pursue a politics which depended less upon changing political institutions than upon manipulating mass emotions. The Blanquist conception of revolution, therefore, passed from a creative to a destructive expression in the midst of the changing realities of the late nineteenth century. As the French Left lost interest in its revolutionary heritage as a model for change, the Blanquists lost sight of the essential insight of their youth into the paradox of revolutionary leadership: that the authentic leader must serve rather than direct the people he hopes to inspire.

Despite the declining influence of the Blanquists in French revolutionary politics, their very effort to resist that decline accounts for the enduring relevance of their conception of revolution in the contemporary age beyond the French frontier. For Blanquist politics was intimately tied to the problem of renewing and sustaining revolutionary zeal, and, in the twentieth century, this has often been the most pressing problem facing revolutionary leaders. The need to keep alive the élan of the revolutionary experience in the aftermath (or sometimes the absence) of the revolutionary event has prompted many twentieth-century revolutionaries to revisit the historical circumstances which first defined their struggle. The Cultural Revolution of Mao Tse-Tung is a conspicuous example of such endeavour, as are the attempts of leaders of various nations of the Third World to resurrect their deep cultural heritage as a foundation, first for revolt against colonialism, and subsequently for post-revolutionary reconstruction.

From this perspective, the movement of national liberation of the “real country” from the “legal country” championed by the Blanquists in nineteenth-century France has prefigured the movements of national liberation of the peoples of Africa and Asia from their colonial overlords in the twentieth century. The power of such movements to appeal to tradition as a basis for change belies the argument that Blanquist conceptions, in the longings they express for a past of primordial simplicity, have since been transcended by more sophisticated ones. Blanquist attitudes were derived from an archaic revolutionary mentality; but they have nonetheless been restated in the contemporary world in even more strident terms. The Blanquists, like many of their present-day counterparts, were idealists — at once simple, naive, and credulous — driven to despair by their experiences with the complexities of the modern world. If the archaic revolutionary mentality from which such idealism was derived is destined eventually to disappear from the earth, it promises to do so slowly, and with the same determined resistance once exhibited by the followers of Blanqui.’ (Hutton, The Cult of the Revolutionary Tradition, 161-73).