François Noël Babeuf (1760–1797), known as “Gracchus,” was a French revolutionary and social incendiary. He was the instigator of Babouvism, an ideology of ferocious, leveling terrorism to bring about radical equality. He was guillotined by the French Directorate. Babeuf is honored as a hero by Communists of all stripes.

Take this head from off my shoulders—
Let my blood make red the blade!
A landslide of resistless boulders
Rolls down towards you. And my shade

Will laugh to see your world in ashes,
Broken, shattered, swept aside!
Your corpses, all decked out with gashes,
Will line the streets on either side.

All divisions, grades, and orders
Annihilated in one stroke!
Among the mob, no lines or borders,
Ranks, distinctions, or the yoke

Of less to greater, poor to wealthy,
Fool to wise man, or the like
Will oppress a world made healthy
By the death-blows I shall strike!

Babeuf shall return, more ghastly,
In Ravachol, Proudhon, Sorel—
To fight once more, to win, and lastly
To drag you downwards into hell!

Articles by Joseph S. Salemi