Monday, 27 January 2020

Ian Birchal on the Babeuf Bicentenary Conference (1998)

Babeuf Bicentenary Conference
Written By: Ian Birchall
Date: January 1998
Published In LSHG Newsletter Issue 2: Lent term 1998  

To celebrate the bicentenary of the death of Gracchus Babeuf, executed in 1797, a conference was held on 16-17 October 1997, in Saint-Quentin, Picardy, Babeuf’s birthplace.

In 1993 a group of admirers of Babeuf in Saint-Quentin - many of them socialists, trade unionists or local historians - founded ‘The Friends of Gracchus Babeuf’; this now has an international membership and publishes a regular bulletin. It was this body that called the conference; and although a number of academic historians participated - including Claude Mazauric and Jean Marc Schiappa, two of the most distinguished Babeuf scholars - the conference was held quite independently of any academic institution. It reflected the international interest in Babeuf, with speakers from Russia, the USA, Brazil and Britain, as France.

Ever since Victor Advielle’s study of Babeuf, published in 1884, local historians have played an important role in Babeuf studies, and the conference showed that this tradition is very much alive. Thus Didier Lemaire, from Vendōme, has worked extensively on the documents of the Vendōme trial, where Babeuf was sentenced to death in 1797.

There was also an international dimension. A scholar from Brazil discussed the application of an approach derived from E. P. Thompson to the study of Babeuf. My own paper dealt with the British response to Babeuf from Southey to Belfort Bax.

Other papers dealt with Babeuf’s campaigns against taxation in Picardy, with the social and political base of the Conspiracy, not just in Paris, but throughout France, and with the importance of Babeuf’s ideas and practice for the development of French socialism before 1848.

It is hoped to publish the papers presented to the conference. Anyone wishing to contact ‘Les Amis de Gracchus Babeuf’ can do so at: 30, rue des Patriotes, 02100 Saint-Quentin, France.

No comments:

Post a comment