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enragés

enragés (äNräzhāˈ), term applied to a small group of Parisian radical extremists in the French Revolution. Rising prices and food shortages provoked them in Feb.–Mar., 1793, to pillage the city's food stores. Led by Jacques Roux, they demanded strict economic controls and successfully agitated for the overthrow of the Girondists. To maintain popular support in a time of crisis, the government granted many of their demands in the early months of the Reign of Terror, but arrested them. After Roux's arrest (Aug., 1793) Jacques René Hébert supported them.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Enragés

 

the name applied to the representatives of the political current farthest to the left in the Great French Revolution. The Enragés were ideologists of the urban plebeians (J. Roux, T. Leclerc, J. Varlet, and others).

Between spring and autumn 1793, the Enragés and other agitators of the people—the leaders of the districts of Paris—held the most advanced views on the introduction of revolutionary terror and on intervention by the revolutionary government in socioeconomic relations in order to benefit the masses. Above all, they tried to curtail specu-lation and provide bread and other necessities for the urban lower classes.

The Enragés participated actively in organizing the uprising of May 31 to June 2, 1793, which put an end to the rule of the Girondists. However, the accession to power of the Jacobins did not satisfy the Enragés, who demanded immediate measures to improve the living conditions of the lower classes. They sharply criticized the Jacobin Constitution of 1793 and insisted on the addition of clauses to limit private property and institute the death penalty for speculation. “Freedom is an empty shadow when one class can oppress another with impunity and starve it to death,” declared Roux, emphasizing the dissatisfaction of the masses with the achievement of mere political democracy.

The uprising of the Parisian lower classes on Sept. 4–5, 1793, which was inspired to a certain degree by the propaganda of Roux, Leclerc, and other popular agitators, resulted in the satisfaction of the basic demands of the masses. (For example, fixed prices were put on necessities, and revolutionary terror was introduced.) This laid the basis for a revolutionary democratic dictatorship. The bourgeois limitations of the Jacobin dictatorship led to a break between the Enragés and the Jacobins and a struggle between them. Since the Enragés were not a formally organized group, they were unable to resist the organized Jacobin dictatorship, which crushed them in autumn 1793. The Enragés did a great service by establishing the plebeian methods of struggle for which the Jacobin dictatorship became known in history. The anticapitalist features of their views and activities played a certain role in the formation of proletarian ideology.

REFERENCES

Zakher, Ia. M. Dvizhenie “beshenykh.” Moscow, 1961.
Soboul, A. Parizhskie sankiuloty vo vremia iakobinskoi diktatury. Moscow, 1966. (Translated from French.)
Sytin, S. L. “Bor’ba plebeiskikh mass Parizha . . . ν iiule—sent. 1793.” Uch. zap. Ul’ianovskogo pedinstituta, 1956, issue 8.
Markov, W. Die Freiheiten des Priesters Roux. Berlin, 1967.
Rose, R. B. The Enrages: Socialists of the French Revolution? Carlton, 1965.

A. V. GORDON

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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