Georges Sorel

Sorel, Georges (zhôrzh sôrĕlˈ) [key], 1847–1922, French social philosopher. An engineer before he devoted himself to writing, Sorel found in the political and social life of bourgeois democracy the triumph of mediocrity and espoused various forms of socialism, chiefly revolutionary syndicalism. In his best-known work, Reflections on Violence (1908, tr. 1912), which became the basic text of syndicalism, Sorel expounded his theory of "violence" as the creative power of the proletariat that could overcome "force," the coercive economic power of the bourgeoisie. He supported belief in myths about future social developments, arguing that such belief promoted social progress. Sorel supported at various times such disparate alternatives to the existing order as extreme French monarchism and the Bolshevik Revolution.

See J. J. Roth, The Cult of Violence: Sorel and the Sorelians (1980); J. R. Jennings, Georges Sorel (1985).

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