Source: l'Encyclopédie Anarchiste, Paris, Librairie international, 1934 ;
Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor.
According to the bourgeois definition of the word a bandit is an individual in open revolt against the law and who lives off armed attacks. The bourgeoisie doesn’t fail to catalogue under the epithet of bandit all rebels, all those who don’t bend their necks under its yoke. This is done to attract public reprobation on rebels and to discredit them in the eyes of the unthinking mass. Among the individuals designated under the name of bandits a distinction must be made. There are those who attack bourgeois property with the sole goal of appropriating this property to themselves without expending any effort and are animated by the same vices and the same egoism as the owning class. These bandits do not interest us very much. Only the means employed to enjoy wealth are changed, but the mentality remains the same. But there is another category of bandits we are prepared to defend come what may: these are the unfortunates who, in order to have something to eat or to escape intolerable tyranny, wage war on society. The latter are victims of the current state of affairs and they cannot be blamed for resorting to extreme solutions.
For anarchists they are no longer bandits but rather unfortunates who defend their right to live, their share of sunshine and light. They are victims who rebel and no longer want to accept the burden of poverty. They should be pitied and assisted and not condemned like wild beasts. Does this mean there are no bandits on this earth, true bandits? Not at all. Society is unfortunately infested with unscrupulous vultures who spread poverty and death: these are the exploiters of all kinds, legal bandits who steal from their contemporaries under the complicitous eye of the gendarmes. Bandit: The factory manager who enriches himself on the backs of the workers who toil their lives away and who they allow die like dogs the day when, old and worn out, they can no longer resist the fatigue of the workshop. Bandit: The banker who tricks poor devils, takes their hard-earned savings from them and ruins them through stock market speculation. Bandit: The statesman who unleashes a war in which naïve workers will be massacred. These are the real bandits, those we must never cease unmaking.