Étienne de La Boétie, 1530-1563

Portrait

Biographical note

French judge, writer, political philosopher and friend of Montaigne, author of the Discourse on Voluntary Servitude (Discours de la servitude volontaire). The essay asserts that tyrants have power because the people give it to them. Once Liberty has been abandoned by society, it remains corrupted and prefers the slavery of the courtesan to the freedom of one who refuses to dominate as he refuses to obey. Thus, La Boétie linked together obedience and domination, a relationship which would be later theorised by anarchist thinkers. By advocating a solution of simply refusing to support the tyrant, he became one of the earliest advocates of civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance.

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