Call to Socialism : Part 1: For Socialism - Chapter 3

Revolt Library >> Anarchism >> Call to Socialism >> Part 1: For Socialism - Chapter 00003

1911

People

(1870 - 1919) ~ German Social Anarchist, Pacifist, and Leader of the Bavarian Soviet Republic : He dies "In a prison courtyard an officer stepped up and struck him across the face, the signal for a savage massacre. Set upon by the troops, Landauer was beaten with trutcheons and rifle butts, kicked, stomped and trampled upon. 'Kill me, then!' he exclaimed, 'to think that you are human beings!" At that he was shot to death. (From : Anarchist Portraits, Arvich.)
• "Anarchism is the goal that we pursue: the absence of domination and of the state; the freedom of the individual. Socialism is the means by which we want to reach and secure this freedom: solidarity, sharing, and cooperative labor." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)
• "Leaving allegories aside, what we need is the following: associations of humankind in affairs that concern the interests of humankind; associations of a particular people in affairs that concern the interests of a particular people; associations of particular social groups in affairs that concern particular social groups; associations of two people in affairs that concern the interests of two people; individualization in affairs that concern the interests of the individual." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)
• "True cooperative labor and true community can only exist where individuals are free, and free individuals can only exist where our needs are met by brotherly solidarity." (From : "Anarchism -- Socialism," by Gustav Landauer.)

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Part 1: For Socialism - Chapter 3

3

So our time stands between two ages. What does it look like?

A cohesive spirit — yes! yes! the word spirit does occur often in this book. Perhaps it happens because the men of our time, especially the so-called socialists, say “spirit” so seldom and act correspondingly. They do not act spiritually and so they do nothing real and practical; and how could they do anything real if they think so little! There is no cohesive spirit that impels men to spontaneously collaborate in matters of common interest, in the production and distribution of consumer goods. There is no spirit hovering above all work above every industrious impulse like the song of the lark out of the skies or the far-away song of invisible choruses, the spirit of art transfiguring earthly activity. There is no spirit that would impart necessity and freedom to natural drives, satisfactions, festivities. There is no spirit linking all life with eternity, sanctifying our senses, making all bodily functions heavenly, every activity a joy, a cause for exuberance and exhilaration.

What is there? God, who created the world; whose son redeems this world from sin... enough of that, of these misunderstood remnants of a symbolism that once made sense, remnants that are now taken literally and held up for belief down to the last dot and letter and miraculous tale, so that the so-called soul or even the body too can attain bliss after rotting in the grave. Enough of this. This spirit is an unspirit, has nothing to do with either truth or life. If anything is probably false, then it is these ideas as a whole.

And our scholars know it. If the people, a very large part of the people, are caught in the spirit of wrong and ruinous falsehood, then how many of our scholars are entangled in the spirit of deceit and cowardice.

And how many again, among the people and scholars, no longer are concerned with any spirit and think that there is nothing more superfluous than to bother with such things.

In school, children are educated in false teachings and their parents are forced to let their children’s thinking be distorted. A horrible gap is opened between the children of the poor, who are kept in the old religion by force, and children of the rich, who are provided with all sorts of semi-enlightenment and mild doubt. The children of the poor are supposed to stay stupid, docile, timid, while the children of the rich become semi-educated and frivolous.

How is work done in our time? Why is work done?

What is — work?

Only a few animal species know what we call work: bees, ants, termites and men. The fox in his lair and on the hunt, the bird in its nest and catching insects or seeking grains — they all must strive, in order to live, but they do not work. Work is technique; technique is a common spirit and forethought. There is no work without spirit, forethought and communality.

What does the spirit governing our work look like? What is our forethought like? What is the nature of the communality that regulates our work?

It looks and is as follows:

A few men own the earth, and consequently the possibility of habitation, industry, and activity; the earth, and consequently the raw materials; the earth, and consequently the means of labor inherited from the past. These few men seek economic and personal power in the form of land ownership, monetary wealth, and domination over men.

They cause things to be produced, which they believe, according to the respective situation, the market will accept with the help of a great army of agents and sales representatives, or, in plain language, persuasive chatterers, wholesalers, retailers, newspaper advertisements and posters, fireworks and attractive packaging.

But even when they know that the market can absorb their commodities only with difficulty or not at all, or at least not at the desired price, they must continue to bombard it with their products: for their production plants and enterprises are not guided by the needs of a coherent organic class of men of a community or a larger association of consumers or of a people, but by the demands of their production machinery, to which thousands of workers are harnessed like Ixion on the wheel, because they can do nothing except perform small partial labors at these machines.

Whether they make cannons to exterminate men, or stockings out of spun dust or mustard out of ground peas, is irrelevant. Whether their commodities are used, whether they are useful or senseless, beautiful or ugly, fine or crude, of good quality or poor, is irrelevant. As long as they are bought, and bring in money.

The great mass of men is separated from the earth and its products, from the earth and the means of labor. They live in poverty and insecurity. There is no joy and meaning in their life. They work at things that have no connection with their life. They work in a way that makes them dull and joyless. Many, entire masses of men, often have no roof over their head. They freeze, starve, and die miserably.

Because they are undernourished and have inadequate housing, they catch tuberculosis or other diseases and die before their time. And those whose health survives the effects of poor housing and hardship, air pollution and disease-infected houses, are often destroyed by over-exertion, acrid dust, poisonous substances and vapors in the factory.

Their life has no links to nature, or onlv diminished ones. They do not know what pathos, joy, seriousness, interiority, what ecstasy and tragedy are. They do not experience themselves. They cannot smile or be childlike. They endure themselves and do not know how unbearable they are, for even mentally they live in dirt and polluted air, in a dense smoke of ugly words and repulsive pleasures.

The place where they congregate and foster their type of communality is not the free marketplace under the open sky and not a high cupola symbolizing closed coherence under the freedom and infinity of the sky, and no community hall and no guild hall and no bathhouse: their common meeting place is the tavern.

There they succumb to drink and can often no longer live without being intoxicated. They get drunk because nothing is so essentially alien to them as sobriety.

It is necessary to the system and predetermined that very many want to work and cannot, while many who could work no longer muster the will to do so; that many seeds are killed in the womb and very many children are killed after birth; that very many spend long years of life in prison or workhouse.

Prisons, jails, and gallows have had to be built. Property and life, health, a sound body and sexual freedom of choice are always threatened by the violence of miserable and depraved men. Rebels and violent felons are now generally not a threat and robbers are now less bold than formerly. Instead there are countless thieves, burglars and swindlers, and contracted killers called murderers.

Priests and middle class citizens who submit to moral restraint have introduced the practice of speaking of these poor wretches as if they were animals, though they are innocently guilty for our despicable innocence. They are called beasts, swine, goats and animals. You men, however, behold how they are like children: look at them and stare at their features, when they lie in the morgue. You have spared yourself too long and you have too long thought only of good clothes, your own flesh, and your notoriously sensitive hearts! Look at the poor, the miserable, the sunken, the criminals and whores, you good citizens, you withdrawn and reserved youths, you chaste girls and honorable women. Look and learn: your innocence is your guilt; your guilt is your life.

Their guilt is the life of prosperous men, except that they too have long since no longer been innocent and pleasant to contemplate. Hardship and unspirit create screaming ugliness, deprivation and desolation. Prosperity and unspirit beget desolation, emptiness and deceit.

And there is a point, a place where the two meet: the poor and the pitifully rich. The two meet in sexual distress. The very poorest are the young women who have nothing to sell but their bodies. The most pitiful are the young men who roam the streets and don’t know where their sexuality comes from and what they are to do with it. No market and no cathedral dome, no temple and community house is now the communal place for all. Only where power and money dwell, where spirit would like to be at home, has pleasure so totally disappeared that there are people who seek to sell it and others who must buy their disgusting surrogate. When pleasure becomes a commodity, there is no longer any difference between the souls of the uppermost and of the lowermost; and the house of prostitution is the house of representatives of our time.

And the state exists to create order and the possibility to continue living amid all this spiritless nonsense, confusion, hardship and degeneracy. The state, with its schools, churches, courts, prisons, workhouses, the state with its army and its police; the state with its soldiers, officials and prostitutes.

Where there is no spirit and no inner compulsion, there is external force, regimentation, the state.

Where spirit is, there is society. Where unspirit is, there is the state. The state is the surrogate for spirit.

It is this in another sense as well.

Something that looks and acts like spirit must exist. Living men cannot for even a moment live without spirit. Materialists may be quite decent and proper, but they have no idea of what constitutes the world and life. What sort of spirit is it that permits us to stay alive? The spirit regulating our work is, on the one hand, money, and on the other, hardship as we have seen. The spirit that raises us above body and individuality among the lower classes is superstition, whore-mongering and alcohol; among the upper classes it is alcohol, whore-mongering and luxury. And so there are all sorts of spirits — away with them! Away with them! And the spirit that elevates the individuals into a totality, into a people, is called today the nation. Nation as natural coercion of the biological community is a primevally beautiful and ineradicable spirit. Nation in amalgamation with the state and with outrageous violence is an artificial crudity and malignant stupidity — and yet it is an ersatz for spirit, a psychic equivalent to the intoxicating alcoholic spirits that have become the habitual poison of men living today.

The state with its boundaries and the nations with their conflicts are substitutes for a non-existent spirit of the people and of community. The idea of the state is an artificial imitation of spirit, a false illusion, it couples purposes that have nothing to do with one another, that have no roots in the soil such as the beautiful interests of a common language and customs, the interests of economic life (and we have seen what economic life is today!) with a certain territory. The state, with its police and all its borders and institutions governing private property, exists for men’s sakes as a miserable substitute for spirit and purposeful groups. Moreover the next step is to treat men as if they existed for the state which pretends to be a sort of ideal structure and self-purpose, i.e., once again, spirit. Spirit is something that dwells equally in the hearts and animated bodies of all individuals, which erupts out of them with natural compulsion as a binding quality and leads them to associate together. The state is never established inside the individual. It has never become an individual quality, never been voluntary. It resides rather in the centralism of command and discipline instead of in the center that rules the world of spirit: that is the heartbeat and free, independent thinking in the living body of the person. Once long ago there were communities, tribal groups, guilds, brotherhoods, corporations, societies, and they were all stratified into a society. Today there is force, the letter of the law, and the state.

And the state — which moreover is nothing, and in order to conceal this nothingness, is clad deceitfully in the mantle of nationality and deceitfully connects this nationality, which is a delicate spiritual bond between men, with a community occupying one geographical territory which has nothing to do with it and does not exist — this state thus seeks to be a spirit and ideal, an incomprehensible transcendental, as it were, for which millions slaughter one another with bloodthirsty enthusiasm. That is the extreme, the epitome of unspirit that has been introduced because the true spirit of unity has perished and ceased to exist. Yet let it be said: if men did not have this horrid superstition instead of the living truth of natural spiritual unity, they would be unable to live, for they would suffocate in the shame and degradation of this unlife and this disunity; they would crumble to dust like dry filth.

That is what our time looks like. There it stands between the ages. Do you who hear my words with your ears as whole men, do you feel that I could hardly proclaim this description? Do you feel I was compelled to speak of this terrible thing for your sake and that I called to your attention that which I no longer need discover myself, since this entire damnable environment has long since been a part of my basis in life, even of my physical stance and facial expression? Do you feel that I was bent under too ponderous a burden, that I was short-breathed and my heart pounded in my chest?

You people, one and all, who suffer under this outrage: let not only my voice reach you and the tone of my words. Hear also my silence and atonality, my choking anxiety. And see my clenched fist, my twisted features and the pale decisiveness of all my bearing. Grasp, above all, the inadequacy of this description and my inexpressible incapacity, for I want people to hear me, stand by me, walk with me, people who, like me, can no longer bear it.

From : TheAnarchistLibrary.org

Chronology

November 30, 1910 :
Part 1: For Socialism - Chapter 3 -- Publication.

July 13, 2019 17:43:36 :
Part 1: For Socialism - Chapter 3 -- Added to http://www.RevoltLib.com.

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