The Roots of Anarchist Environmentalism: Louis Rimbault and Vegan Communities in France in the First Half of the 20th Century
Though apparently obvious, the commitment of French anarchism to political ecology is a recent phenomenon. It is known, however, that as early as the beginning of the 20th century, some libertarian activists were favourable to the theses formed by naturist physicians and presented a return to nature as a necessary step towards the regeneration of individuals in society. One may thus wonder whether the positions of naturist anarchists constitute one of the sources of contemporary libertarian ecology and whether their realisations allowed to establish the bases of a social organisation project founded on the respect for a natural environment and the refusal of man’s domination over it. This article seeks to bring this issue to light by studying the singular case of Louis Rimbault and of his diverse life experiences in libertarian communities until his death in 1949. The vegan city Terre libérée, which he founded near Tours in 1923, and the positions he defended in his writings reveal him as an avant-garde figure of anarchist ecology, if not a pioneer.