Georges Sorel

Georges Sorel (zhôrzh sôrĕl´), 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).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Reflections on Violence
Jeremy Jennings; Georges Sorel.
Cambridge University Press, 1999
Radicalism and the Revolt against Reason: The Social Theories of Georges Sorel
Irving Horowitz Louis; George Sorel.
Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1961
The Genesis of Georges Sorel: An Account of His Formative Period followed by a Study of His Influence
James H. Meisel.
G. Wahr, 1951
The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin
Murray Forsyth; Maurice Keens-Soper.
Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 2 "Georges Sorel: Reflections on Violence"
Social Reformers: Adam Smith to John Dewey
Donald O. Wagner.
Macmillan, 1934
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XXV "Georges Sorel 1847 - 1922"
Politics and Opinion in the Nineteenth Century: An Historical Introduction
John Bowle.
Oxford University Press, 1954
Librarian’s tip: Chap. X "Georges Sorel: Myth and Anarchy"
Political Thought in France from the Revolution to the Fourth Republic
J. Mayer P.
Routledge & Paul, 1949 (Revised edition)
Librarian’s tip: "Georges Sorel: Beyond Marxism" begins on p. 115
Political Theorists in Context
Chris Sparks; Stuart Isaacs.
Routledge, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Anarcho-Syndicalism: Georges Sorel (1847-1922)" begins on p. 248
The French Revolution of 1789 and Its Impact
Gail M. Schwab; John R. Jeanneney.
Greenwood Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 13 "Georges Sorel and the Dreyfusard Revolution"
The New Inquisitions: Heretic-Hunting and the Intellectual Origins of Modern Totalitarianism
Arthur Versluis.
Oxford University Press, 2006
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 5 "Georges Sorel and Charles Maurras: The Emergence of Secular State Corporatism"
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