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The Politics Of Obedience The Discourse Of Voluntary Servitude [Paperback]

Etienne De La Boetie
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 17, 2004 1419178091 978-1419178092
This scarce antiquarian book is a facsimile reprint of the original. Due to its age, it may contain imperfections such as marks, notations, marginalia and flawed pages. Because we believe this work is culturally important, we have made it available as part of our commitment for protecting, preserving, and promoting the world's literature in affordable, high quality, modern editions that are true to the original work.

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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (June 17, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1419178091
  • ISBN-13: 978-1419178092
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 7.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,135,407 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Astonishing Expose of Political Power March 21, 1997
By A Customer
"The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude" has influencedsome of the world's greatest social thinkers; from Leo Tolstoy toMohandus Gandhi to Ayn Rand. Written in the 1550s, as something of an underground tract or pamphlet by a young French student and friend of essayist Michelle de Montaigne, this short work remains a timeless expose of the psychology and inherent corruption involved in social or political power. The work has been in and out of print in English (Some of its various titles over the years were "Slaves By Choice," "Anti-Dictator," "The Will To Bondage," and "The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude"). In North America it has been out of print for some time now, unfortunately.
Since its original circulation in the early 1550s as "de la servitude volontaire ou contr'un," this short but powerful work seems to find its way back into print whenever the winds of social change began blowing toward tyranny.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
"The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude," written by the young French student
and friend of Michelle de Montaigne, Etienne de la Boetie
during the 1550s, is now a much neglected work (in English).
The work's importance and timeless quality is comparable to that
of Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince." It is a very brief work of
about 40 pages in length. This brevity is part of the work's power.
In these few pages, the author is able to explain the origin and
inherent corruption of the tyranny of all government.
The work is a classic in civil disobedience; I suppose you could say
it defined the term. It should be read by all who value their freedom
and view tyranny -- in any form -- as an abomination.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Resolve To Serve No More May 18, 2000
"...And you are at once free. I do not ask that you place hands on the tyrant, but merely cease to obey him, and you will see him, like a colossus, fall of his own weight and break into pieces." So begins this short classic. It reads as if written with words of fire. Astonishing clarity and moral certitude bathe the ideas expressed. There is no room for temporarizing in La Boiete; the breathtaking clarity of his ideas blew cobwebs from my mind. It was like learning to walk on two legs instead of four. Some toung in cheek references to how his rhetoric does not apply to the France of the Capetian dynasty merely add flavor and wit to his insights. Non-violent resistance and civil disobedience both trace their modern pedigrees to this work. This is a book for the ages, and it is a shame that it is not widely available in English. (Knowledge Products excerpts it on tape in their, "Giants of Political Thought" cassette series.) I wish every student could be given a copy of this book; then, our liberty would face a brighter future than now appears to be the case. -Lloyd A. Conway
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Timeless Call to Resist Tyranny December 31, 2005
Boetie wrote his "Discourse" around 1553 when he was about 22 years of age and a student at the University of Orleans. This libertarian essay, two centuries ahead of its time, was never published by the Catholic and soon-to-be conservative Boetie. Huguenots published it anonymously in 1574 and fully credited it in 1576 (Boetie died in 1563 at 32 years of age).

The "Discourse" is an abstract, universal, naturally reasoned argument passionately calling for widespread civil disobedience to tyranny. Harold Laski later made the observation that "A sense of popular right such as the Friend of Montaigne [Boetie] depicts is, indeed, as remote from the spirit of the time as the anarchy of Herbert Spencer in an age committed to government interference" (see his "A Defence of Liberty Against Tyrants, p 11). Boetie appealed to man's universal nature rather than presumed or real historical precedents resulting in a timeless document that speaks to all ages.

Boetie begins "I should like merely to understand how it happens that so many men, so many villages, so many cities, so many nations, sometimes suffer under a single tyrant who has no other power than the power they give him; who is able to harm them only to the extent to which they have the willingness to bear with him . . .". He asks "Shall we call subjection to such a leader cowardice? . . . If a hundred, if a thousand endure the caprice of a single man, should we not rather say that they lack not the courage but the desire to rise against him, and that such an attitude indicates indifference rather than cowardice? . . . What monstrous vice, then, is this which does not even deserve to be called cowardice, a vice for which no term can be found vile enough?
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Will to Bondage and the Refusal to Think February 25, 2006
Etienne de la Boetie's THE POLITICS OF OBEDIENCE has also been named THE WILL TO BONDAGE edited by James J. Martin. The focus of the Boetie's book is the fact that the "Terrible Tyrant" is often a wimp and a coward and only survives because of the sychophants who readily obey him and betray each other to prove their loyalty.

Boetie cites historical examples of tyrants who ruled large populations due to the fact that their immediate supporters and the masses of people were immune to thinking that they could do better if their leaders change or regime changes. Yet, history provided very few examples up to the time of Boetie(the 16th. century). Boetie witnessed some of the excesses of the Reformation and Counter Reformation and the fact that tyrants were only too willing to take advantage of religious hatred to exploit their subjects.

Boetie's work is relevant in the 21st. century. The game of politics has not changed much except for the fact that The State has expanded exponentially since the 16th century. Boetie's argument that thinking people only have to withdraw their support to bring the State to its knees which Ghandi did in India. Yet, there are so few surviving examples of this political ploy to expect too much except to write for the record.

What has made the situation worse is that the State has layers of burcaucracy with brainless bureaucrats who staff these powerful offices. These bureaucrats are basically useless and stupid and easily fit James J. Martin's description as "The New Stupid." They are useless which is why the State has made them indespensible.

This book has been reissued only a few times since it was first published in 1577. Yet, the reappearence of this book is a good sign that some people still consider it an important study in understanding the State
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Required readibg
This discourse should be required reading for everyone. It would solve so very much that's wrong with world and their governments.
Published 3 months ago by Sybil Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Age-old Wisdom, Ignored
Boetie lived in the first half of the sixteenth century, but his wisdom is as fresh as today, and useful. Read more
Published 20 months ago by RightStuff
5.0 out of 5 stars Nature , origin and use of power
When I read this extraordinary book "The Politics Of Obedience:The Discourse Of Voluntary Servitude" by Etienne De La Boetie , I was stunned. Read more
Published 23 months ago by vidyanand
5.0 out of 5 stars An Expose On Voluntary Servitude
The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude by Etienne De La Boetie is a really interesting short essay on political philosophy from the 16th century. Read more
Published 23 months ago by S. Moss
4.0 out of 5 stars The Politics of Obedience
The Politics of Obedience, an essay by Etienne de la Boetie, a 16th century contemporary of Montaigne, begins by asking a question. Read more
Published on August 13, 2010 by -_Tim_-
4.0 out of 5 stars Increible lectura antigua de valor muy presente
Un ensayo del siglo 16 intitulado Discourse of Voluntary Servitude del jurista francés Étienne de La Boétie (1530-1563) discurre acerca de una cuestión... Read more
Published on September 30, 2009 by Luis Perez Benedetti
5.0 out of 5 stars The Politics of Obedience
Before MLK, Gandhi, Tolstoy, or Thoreau, there was the brilliant Etienne de La Boetie, who explored civil disobedience, resistance to tyranny, and the brutal exploitative nature of... Read more
Published on April 18, 2008 by anarchteacher
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