Study 7 : Absorption of Government by the Economic Organism
Revolt Library >> Anarchism >> General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century >> Study 00007
(1809 - 1865) ~ Father of Anarcho-Mutualism : ...he turned his talents instead to the printer's trade, a profession which gave birth to many anarchists, but the first to call himself an anarchist was Proudhon. By mid-century, Proudhon was the leading left intellectual in France or for that matter, all of Europe, far surpassing Marx's notoriety or Bakunin's. Proudhon... (From : Dana Ward Bio.)
• "What is your flag? Association! And your motto? Equality before fortune! Where are you taking us? To Brotherhood!" (From : "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)
• "The revolution, in that epoch, without abandoning its first given, took another name, which was already celebrated. It called itself philosophy." (From : "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)
• "Revolutions are the successive manifestation of justice in human history. — It is for this reason that all revolutions have their origins in a previous revolution." (From : "Toast to the Revolution," by Pierre-Joseph Proudh....)
Man, The Family, Society.
An individual, sexual and social being, endowed with reason, love and conscience, capable of learning by experience, of perfecting himself by reflection, and of earning his living by work.
The problem is to so organize the powers of this being, that he may remain always at peace with himself, and may extract from Nature, which is given to him, the largest possible amount of well-being.
We know how previous generations have solved it.
They borrowed from the Family, the second component part of Humanity, the principle which is proper to it alone, Authority, and by the arbitrary use of this principle, they constructed an artificial system, varied according to periods and climates, which has been regarded as the natural order and necessary for humanity.
This system, which may be called the system of order by authority, was at first divided into spiritual and temporal authority.
After a short period in which it preponderated, and long centuries of struggle to maintain its supremacy, sacerdotalism seems at last to have given up its claim to temporal power: the Papacy, with all its soldiery, which the Jesuits and lay brothers of to-day would restore, has been cast out and set below matters of merely human interest.
For two years past the spiritual power has been in a way to again seize supremacy. It has formed a coalition with secular power against the Revolution, and bargains with it upon a footing of equality. Both have ended by recognizing their differences arose from a misunderstanding; that their aim, their principles, their methods, their dogmas, being absolutely identical, Government should be shared by them; or rather, that they should consider themselves the completements of each other, and should form by their union a one and indivisible Authority.
Such at least would have been the conclusion which Church and State would have perhaps reached, if the laws of the progress of Humanity rendered such reconciliations possible; if the Revolution had not already marked their last hour.
However that may be, it is desirable, in order to convince the mind to set alongside each other the fundamental ideas of, on the one hand, the politico-religious system (Philosophy, which has for so long drawn a line between the spiritual and the temporal, should no longer recognize any distinction between them); on the other hand, the economic system.
Government, then, that is to say, Church and State indivisibly united, has for its dogmas:
Whence it is deduced:
These principles admitted, as they still are, almost universally, the forms of authority are already settled. They are:
Add to the above, in countries in which the democratic principle has become preponderant:
Such is broadly the plan of construction of Power, independently of the modifications which each of its component party may receive; as, for example, the central Power, which may be in turn monarchical, aristocratic or democratic; which once furnished publicists with a ground for classification, according to superficial character.
It will be observed that the governmental system tends to become more and more complicated without becoming on that account more efficient or more moral, and without offering any more guaranties to person or property. This complication springs first from legislation, which is always incomplete and insufficient; in the second place, from the multiplicity of functionaries; but most of all, from the compromise between the two antagonistic elements, the executive initiative and popular consent. It has been left for our epoch to establish unmistakably that this bargaining, which the progress of centuries renders inevitable is the surest index of corruption, of decadence, and of the approaching dissolution of Authority.
What is the aim of this organization?
To maintain order in society, by consecrating and sanctifying obedience of the citizen to the State, subordination of the poor and to the rich, of the common people to the upper class, of the worker to the idler, of the layman to the priest, of the business man to the soldier.
As far back as the memory of humanity extends, it is found to have been organized on the above system, which constitutes the political, ecclesiastical or governmental order. Every effort to give Power a more liberal appearance, more tolerant, more social, has invariably failed; such efforts have been even more fruitless when they tried to give the People a larger share in Government; as if the words, Sovereignty and People, which they endeavored to yoke together, were as naturally antagonistic as these other two words, Liberty and Despotism.
Humanity has had to live, and civilization to develop, for six thousand years, under this inexorable system, of which the first term is Despair and the last Death. What secret power has sustained it? What force has enabled it to survive? What principles, what ideas, renewed the blood that flowed forth under the poniard of authority, ecclesiastical and secular?
This mystery is now explained.
Beneath the governmental machinery, in the shadow of political institutions, out of the sight of statesmen and priests, society is producing its own organism, slowly and silently; and constructing a new order, the expression of its vitality and autonomy, and the denial of the old politics, as well as of the old religion.
This organization, which is as essential to society as it is incompatible with the present system, has the following principles:
The indefinite perfectibility of the individual and of the race;
The honorableness of work;
The equality of fortunes;
The identity of interests;
The end of antagonisms;
The universality of comfort;
The sovereignty of reason;
The absolute liberty of the man and of the citizen.
I mention below its principal forms of activity:
Division of labor, through which classification of the People by industries replaces classification by caste;
Collective power, the principle of workmen's associations, in place of armies;
Commerce, the concrete form of contract, which takes the place of Law;
Equality in exchange;
Credit, which turns upon interests, as the governmental hierarchy turns upon Obedience;
The equilibrium of values and of properties.
The old system, standing on Authority and Faith, was essentially based on Divine Right. The principle of the sovereignty of the People, introduced later, did not change its nature; and it is a mistake to-day, in the face of the conclusions of science, to maintain a distinction which does not touch underlying principles, between absolute monarchy and constitutional monarchy, or between the latter and the democratic republic. The sovereignty of the People has been, is I may say so, for a century past, but a skirmishing line for Liberty. It was either an error, or a clever scheme of our fathers to make the sovereign people in the image of the king-man: as the Revolution becomes better understood, this mythology vanishes, all traces of government disappear and follow the principle of government itself to dissolution.
The new system, based upon the spontaneous practice of industry, in accordance with individual and social reason, is the system of Human Right. Opposed to arbitrary command, essentially objective, it permits neither parties nor sects; it is complete in itself, and allows neither restriction nor separation.
There is no fusion possible between the political and economic systems, between the system of laws and the system of contracts; one or the other must be chosen. The ox, while it remain an ox, cannot be an eagle, nor can the bat be at the same time a snail. In the same way, while Society maintains the slightest degree of political form, it cannot become organized according to economic law. How harmonize local initiative with the preponderance of a central authority, or universal suffrage with the hierarchy of officials; the principle that no one owes obedience to a law to which he has not himself consented, with the right of majorities?
If a writer who understood these contradictions should undertake to reconcile them, it would prove him, not a bold thinker, but a wretched charlatan.
This absolute incompatibility of the two systems, so often proved, still does not convince writers who, while admitting the dangers of authority, nevertheless hold to it, as the sole means of maintaining order, and see nothing beside it but empty desolation. Like the sick man in the comedy, who is told that the first thing he must do is to discharge his doctors, if he wants to get well, they persist in asking how can a man get along without a doctor, or a society without a government. They will make the government as republican, as benevolent, as equal as possible; they will set up all possible guaranties against it; they will belittle it, almost attack it, in support of the majesty of the citizens. They tell us: You are the government! You shall govern yourselves, without president, without representatives, without delegates. What have you then to complain about? But to live without government, to abolish all authority, absolutely and unreservedly, to set up pure anarchy, seems to them ridiculous and inconceivable, a plot against the Republic and against the nation. What will these people who talk of abolishing government put in place of it? they ask.
We have no trouble in answering.
It is industrial organization that we will put in place of government, as we have just shown.
In place of laws, we will put contracts.—No more laws voted by a majority, nor even unanimously; each citizen, each town, each industrial union, makes its own laws.
In place of political powers, we will put economic forces.
In place of the ancient classes of nobles, burghers, and peasants, or of business men and working men, we will put the general titles and special departments of industry: Agriculture, Manufacture, Commerce, &c.
In place of public force, we will put collective force.
In place of standing armies, we will put industrial associations.
In place of police, we will put identity of interests.
In place of political centralization, we will put economic centralization.
Do you see now how there can be order without functionaries, a profound and wholly intellectual unity?
You, who cannot conceive of unity without a whole apparatus of legislators, prosecutors, attorneys-general, custom house officers, policemen, you have never known what real unity is! What you call unity and centralization is nothing but perpetual chaos, serving as a basis for endless tyranny; it is the advancing of the chaotic condition of social forces as an argument for despotism—a despotism which is really the cause of the chaos.
Well, in our turn, let us ask, what need have we of government when we have made an agreement? Does not the National Bank, with its various branches, achieve centralization and unity? Does not the agreement among farm laborers for compensation, marketing, and reimbursement for farm properties create unity? From another point of view, do not the industrial associations for carrying on the large-scale industries bring about unity? And the constitution of value, that contract of contracts, as we have called it, is not that the most perfect and indissoluble unity?
And if we must show you an example in our own history in order to convince you, does not that fairest monument of the Convention, the system of weights and measures, form, for fifty years past, the corner-stone of that economic unity which is destined to replace political unity?
Never ask again then what we will put in place of government, nor what will become of society without government, for I assure you that in the future it will be easier to conceive of society without government, than of society with government.
Society, just now, is like the butterfly just out of the cocoon, which shakes its gilded wings in the sunlight before taking flight. Tell it to crawl back into the silken covering, to shun the flowers and to hide itself from the light!
But a revolution is not made with formulas. Prejudice must be attacked at the foundation, overthrown, hurled into dust, its injurious effects explained, its ridiculous and odious nature shown forth. Mankind believes only in its own tests, happy if these tests do not addle its brains and drain its blood. Let us try then by clear criticism to make the test of government so conclusive, that the absurdity of the institution will strike all minds, and Anarchy, dreaded as a scourge, will be accepted as a benefit.
The old revolution did not attack public worship: it was content with threatening it: a double error, which has been repeated in our day, and which is explained, on both occasions, as a surviving desire for reconciliation between the powers, temporal and spiritual.
There lurks the enemy nevertheless. God and King, Church and State; these have ever been the soul and body of conservatism. The triumph of liberty in the Middle Ages lay in separating them, and even in accepting their separation as a principle, showing the stupidity of both. Nowadays we can confess it without danger; but philosophically this separation is inadmissible. He who denies the king, denies his God, and vise versa; hardly anybody but the republicans of yesterday refuses to understand this. But let us grant this compliment to our enemies, the Jesuits know it; for while, since '89, real revolutionaries have not ceased to combat both the Church and the State, and to array them against each other, the Holy Congregation has always had it in mind to reunite them, as if faith could rejoin what reason has separated.
Robespierre was the first who in 1794, gave the signal for the return to God by society. This despicable rhetorician, in whom the soul of Calvin seemed to be born again, and whose virtue has done us more harm than all the vises of the Mirabeaus, the Dumouriezs, the Dantons, the Barras, put together, had all his life but one thought, the restoration of Power and of Worship. He prepared quietly for this great work, sometimes by sending to the guillotine unfortunate atheists or harmless Anarchists, sometimes by giving serenades to the Supreme Being, and teaching the people the catechism of authority. He deserved what the Emperor, who understood him, said about him: That man has more method than you think! Robespierre's method was simply to reestablish authority by religion and religion by authority. Eight years before the First Consulate, Robespierre, celebrating auto-da-fe's To the Glory of the Great Architect of the Universe, reopened the churches and paved the way for the Concordat. Bonaparte only revived the politics of the pontiff of Prairial. But as the Victor of Arcola had little faith in the efficacy of Masonic dogmas, and besides, did not feel that he was strong enough to found a new religion, like Mahomet, he confined himself to reestablishing the old; and, with this object, made a treaty with the Pope.
From that time the fortunes of the Church were restored: its acquisitions, its encroachments, its influence advanced at the same pace as did the usurpations of power. That was natural: religion is unquestionably the oldest manifestation of government and the highway for authority. Finally, the Revolution of February raised the pride of pretensions of the clergy to the highest point. Certain disciples of Robespierre, following the example of their master, invoked his benediction of God upon the Republic, and handed it over, for the second time, to the priests. Despite the murmurs of the public conscience, one does not know to-day whether the Jesuits or the Representatives have most influence.
Nevertheless Catholicism must submit: the supreme work of the Revolution in the nineteenth century is to do away with it.
I say this, not in a spirit of incredulity nor of malice: I was never a mocker, and I hate no one. I merely express a logical conclusion. Since the subject permits, I will even make a prediction. Everything is in one conspiracy against the priest, even M. Foucault's pendulum. Unless conservatism succeeds in rehabilitating society from bottom to top, in its body, its soul, its ideas, its tendencies, Christianity has not twenty-five years to live. Perhaps in half a century the priest will be chased out of his profession as a swindler.
M. Odilon Barrot disclaimed having said that the law in France was atheistic: he gave a different turn to his thought. M. Odilon Barrot made a mistake in retracting: atheism is the first article of our law. As soon as the State fails to openly accept a doctrine, it has no longer any faith: it denies God and religion. I know that it is a contradiction that this should be so; but it is so, despite the contradiction; and that it should be so is not the least of the triumphs of the Revolution. Religion cannot exist as mere vague and indefinite sentiment of piety: it is positive, dogmatic, definite, or it is nothing. That is why Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Bernadine de St. Pierre, Jacobi, no matter what they say, are as much atheists as Hegel, Kant, and Spinoza. Is not this indifference atheism, or better, anti-theism, which causes us to protect equally both Jew and Christian, Mahometan, Greek Catholic, Papist, and Protestant? Is not this philosophic spirit atheism, and the most refined atheism, which considers facts by themselves, in their evolution, their series, their relations, without giving a thought to a first principle, or to the cause of causes? If one may join two such words, is it not atheistic theology, this rational criticism, which classes ideas of cause, substance, spirit, god, future life, &c., &c., as forms of our understanding, or symbols of our consciousness; and which consequently explains in a way that compels our assent, all religious manifestations, theologies and theogonies, as the unfolding of concepts?
We ask in vain what sphere in this world can be found for a religion of which the doctrines are all diametrically opposed to the most legitimate and approved tendencies of society, of which the morality is founded upon expiation, absolutely at variance with our ideas of liberty, equality, perfectability, and happiness; of which the revelations, long since proved false, would be beneath contempt, were it not that philosophy, in explaining their legendary origin, shows us the primitive form of the intuitive ideas of the human mind. In vain we seek a reason for public worship, a function for the priest, a pretext for the faith: it is impossible to obtain any answer, however slightly favorable, unless we voluntarily blind ourselves. Certainly religion would long ago have been nothing in society, nothing even in our private consciences, if our tolerance had not been greater than our belief, if our practice had not been broader than our reason. Public worship antagonizes our ideas, our morals, our laws, our nature: it would have been done away with, if the first Constituent Assembly, which ordered the sale of the property of the clergy, had not, by an incomprehensible scruple, conceived itself under obligation to pension them as compensation.
What supports the Church among us, or rather what serves as a pretext for keeping it, is the cowardice of self-styled republicans, who are almost all of the religion of the Savoyard vicar. Like the Abyssinians, of whom Doctor Aubert told me, who, when they are troubled with tape-worm, get rid of a portion, but are careful to retain the head, our deists cut off from religion whatever discommodes or shocks them: they would not for the world upset the principle of religion, the eternal source of superstition, robbery, and tyranny. No worship, no mysteries, no revelations; that suits them well enough. But don't touch their God: they would accuse you of parricide. So superstition, usurpation, pauperism, grow again unceasingly, like the likes of the tape-worm. And such people pretend to govern the Republic! General Cavaignac, whose remnant of piety offered to the Pope the hospitality of the nation, is a candidate for the Presidency! Would you give your daughter to a man who carries such a monster in his bosom?
More than eighteen centuries ago a man tried, as we are trying to-day, to regenerate humanity. In the sanctity of his life, in his prodigious intelligence, in his bursts of indignation, the Genius of Revolutions, the Adversary of the Eternal, thought that he recognized a son. He appeared to him and said, while pointing to all the kingdoms of the earth: All these I will give thee, if thou wilt recognize me as thy father and adore me. No, replied the Nazarene, I adore God and serve him only. The illogical reformer was crucified. After him again came Pharisees, publicans, priests, and kings, more oppressive, more rapacious, more infamous than ever; and the Revolution, twenty times begun, twenty times abandoned, still remains in doubt. Aid me, Lucifer, Satan, whoever you are, demon opposed to God according to the faith of my fathers! I will speak for you; and I ask nothing from you.
I know very well that it is with religion as it is with the State, that it does not suffice to show its emptiness and incapacity; that we must offer something to fill the place left vacant by it. I know that they who ask what we offer in place of government will not fail to ask what we will give in place of God.
I do not draw back in the face of any difficulty. I even admit with sincere conviction, what the atheists of former days did not admit, that such should be the task of philosophy. I grant that, just as it does not suffice to do away with government, without replacing it with something else, so we cannot entirely dislodge God, without showing the unknown which is to succeed him in the order of human conceptions and social developments.
Without attempting at present to concern myself with this substitution, who does not see that it would already be well advanced, if the theoretical and practical insufficiency of the divine principle, if its economic unfitness, if its incompatibility with the present revolution had become plain to everybody? Who does not see that the new thesis would be comprehended so much the better and so much the more quickly, as its analog should be generally understood; that is to say, that the theory of free contract, which takes the place of the governmental theory, should the sooner become common property, and consequently the necessity of the following equation rendered more striking: The Supreme Being is to X as the governmental system is to the industrial system. As every negation in society implies a subsequent affirmation, the contrary also obtains, and every affirmation implies a preliminary elimination. Do you want to bring down the new principle, called by the Socialists of every age, and announced by Jesus Christ himself under the name of the Paraclete? Begin by sending the Eternal Father back to heaven. His presence among us holds by but a single thread, the budget. Cut that thread, and you will find out what the Revolution should put in place of God.
Moreover I cannot understand the delicacy of certain democrats in matters that touch the ecclesiastical budget. The example of the old Constituent Assembly paralyzes them. The civil list of the clergy was established in 1799, they think, to replace the Church property, which was to pay for the needs of the nation. Would it not be confiscation to abolish the ecclesiastical budget?
There is a misunderstanding here which it is desirable to clear up; not only on account of the intriguers who make use of it, but above all for the sake of the timorous souls who are misled by it.
During the centuries of faith, when there was neither centralized government nor budget, when money was scarce, and the only guaranty of a living was immovable property, the priests received their property from the piety of the faithful, not as mere individuals, but as the ministers of public worship. It was the religious institution that was endowed; the sacerdotal body was but a usufructuary. This usufruct it naturally ought to lose, when public finances permitted the cost of public services to be otherwise defrayed, or when the endowment became purposeless, the religious institution being about to perish. In '89, it was with the Church as with the secular power: it had become corrupt, and faith in it was shaken. The piety of the people, who thought that they could purchase heaven, enriched a multitude of do-nothings. The sovereign, willing to meet the wishes of those who gave, but not desiring to enter into the question of the utility or inutility of religion at the moment, decided that the revnue of the Church in future should be in proportion to services rendered; that only those among the clergy who performed parochial functions should be remunerated. Certainly the Constituent Assembly would have done right to show itself more rigorous. The Church, having put itself outside of the Revolution, as it has done since 1848, there were good grounds to take from it both its property and its stipends. Far from indemnifying the clergy, it would have been but just to sue it for damages for its underhand opposition to the revolution. The Constituent Assembly trated it with moderation, holding, though mistakenly, that public worship was still a necessary institution. It needed it for its own government.
We are impelled to say mor by the progress of thought which took place when public feeling had been calmed, and by the more and more openly declared hostility of a sacerdotalism which permits neither philosophic reasoning, nor political freedom, nor social progress; which knows only alms-giving as an alleviation of poverty, thereby adding insult by Providence to injury by Hard Luck; a sacerdotalism which is destroyed by the diffusion of science and the increase of prosperity.
I grant that worship should be free, and that he who serves at the altar should live from the altar. But I add that to do exact justice, the participants in the sacrifice should pay the sacrificial priest. When the tax for public worship shall have been remitted, and the 8 million dollars which it requires shall have been deducted from the township assessments, and when perpetual and inalienable endowments shall have been prohibited, and the acquisitions made by the clerical body since 1789 sequestrated, order will again prevail. The townships, perhaps, or religious associations, will provide for their priests as they choose. Why should the State be the banker for the towns in respect to the clergy? Why interfere between pastors and their parishioners? Does the Government take account of pious works; does it concern itself about holy images, about the heart of Mary, about the holy sacrament; does it need masses and Te Deums?
If public worship really has any material or moral value; if it is a service that the public needs and demands; I have no objection. Let it alone, let it go. Let public worship, like industry, be free. I only mention that traffic in holy things, like any other traffic, should be subject to demand and supply, and not be coddled and subsidized by the State; that it is a matter of exchange, not of government. In this, as in everything else, the free contract should be the supreme law. It is all right that each one should pay to be baptized, to be married, to be buried. Let them who would adore assess themselves for the cost of their adorations, nothing is more just. The right to assemble for prayer is equal to the right to assemble to talk politics or economics; the oratory, as well as the club, is inviolable.
But talk no more to us of the religion of the State, nor of the religion of the majority, nor of salaried Public Worship, nor of the neo-Christian Republic. These are so many apostasies from reason and right: the Revolution cannot compound with Divinity. Above all, propound to the people no more questions such as the following, under the pretext of direct legislation; to which I am sure they will answer by a thundering Yes, and the most conscientious Yes in the world:
Shall God be recognized?
Shall there be a Religion?
Shall this Religion be administered by priests?
Shall these priests be paid by the State?
Do you want the counter-revolution to be finished in two days,—complete—replete? Talk to the people not of King nor Emperor nor Republic, nor of land reform, nor free banking, nor universal suffrage: the People knows pretty nearly what these things mean: they know what they want, and what they don't want. Do as Robespierre did: talk to them about the Supreme Being and the immortality of the soul.
Justice — Authority, incompatible terms, which nevertheless the ordinary man persists in regarding as synonymous. He talks of the authority of the law, just as he talks of a government of the people; phrases instilled into him by the powers that be; so that he does not perceive the contradictions involved. Whence arises this distortion of ideas?
Justice, like order, began with force. At first it was the law of the prince, not of the conscience. Obeyed through fear rather than through love, it is enforced, rather than explained: like the government, it is the more or less intelligent use of arbitrary power.
Without going farther back than the history of France, justice, in the Middle Ages, was a privilege of the lords, and was administered sometimes by him in person, sometimes by a tenant farmer, or by a superintendent. One was amenable to the justice of the lord, just as one was liable to him for certain days of labor, just as one is still liable for taxes. One had to pay for a judgment, just as he had to pay to have his grain ground or his bread baked; and he who paid the most, had the best chance of winning. Two peasants, convicted of having settled their difference through an arbiter, would have been treated as rebels, and the arbiter prosecuted as a usurper. Administer another man's justice? what an abominable crime!
Little by little, the Nation grouped itself about the chief baron, who was the king of France, and all justice was deemed to spring from him, whether granted as a concession of the Crown to feudatories, or delegated to guilds for the administration of justice, of which the members paid for their privileges in hard cash, as still is done by registrars and attorneys.
At last, since 1789, justice has been exercised directly by the State, which alone gives enforceable judgments, and which receives as pin-money, not counting fines, an appropriation fixed at $5,400,000. What have the people gained by this change? Nothing. Justice remains what it was before, an emanation from authority; that is to say, a formula for coercion, fundamentally void, and open to challenge in all its decisions. We do not even know what real justice is.
I have often heard this question discussed: Has Society the right to punish with death? Beccaria, an Italian of no great talent, made himself a reputation in the last century by the eloquence with which he refuted the advocates of the death penalty. And in 1848 the people thought that they were doing a wonderful thing, while waiting for better, in abolishing the death penalty for political offenses.
But neither Beccaria nor the revolutionaries of February have touched even the first word of the question. the use of the death penalty is olny one special manifestation of criminal justice. The real question is not whether society has a right to inflict the death penalty, or to inflict any penalty at all, however trifling, or even to acquit or to pardon, but whether it has any right to pronounce judgment at all.
Let society defend itself if attacked: that is within its right.
Let it avenge itself, taking the risk of reprisals, if that seem for its advantage.
But that it should judge, and after judging should punish, this is what I deny, that is what I refuse to grant to any authority.
The individual alone has the right to judge himself, and, if he thinks expiation would be good for him, to demand punishment. Justice is an act of conscience, essentially voluntary, as the conscience cannot be judged, condemned, or acquitted but by itself: all else is war, the rule of authority, and barbarism, the abuse of force.
I live in the company of unfortunates, that is the name they call themselves, whom Justice drags before it for theft, counterfeiting, bankruptcy, indecent assault, infanticide, assassination.
Most of them, as far as I can learn, are three-quarters convicted, without any admission on their part, rei sed non confessi; and I think that I do not slander them in saying that in general they do not seem to be above reproach.
I understand that these men who are at war with their fellows should be summoned and compelled to repair the damage they have caused, to bear the cost of the injury which they have occasioned; and, up to a certain point, to pay a fine in addition, for the reproach and insecurity of which they are one of the causes, with mor or less premeditation. I understand, I say, this application of the laws of war between enemies. War also may have, let us not say its justice, that would be to profane the word, but its rules.
But that beyond this, these same people should be shut up, under the pretext of reforming them, in one of those dens of violence, stigmatized, put in irons, tortured in body and soul, guillotined, or, what is even worse, placed, at the expiration of their term, under the surveillance of the police, whose inevitable revelations will pursue them wherever they may have taken refuge; once again I deny, in the most absolute manner, that anything in society or in conscience or in reason can authorize such tyranny. The Code is constructed, not for justice, but for the most iniquitous and atrocious vengeance; the last vestige of the ancient hatred of the patrician for the servile classes.
What agreement have you made with these men, that you arrogate the right to hold them accountable for their misdeeds by chains, by violence, by public stigma? What promises have you made them of which you can avail yourself? What conditions have they accepted which they have violated? What limit placed upon the overflow of their passions, and recognized by them, have they overpassed? What have you done for them that they should do anything for you; what do they owe you? I am looking for the free and voluntary contract which binds them; and I see only the blade of justice, the sword of power, suspended over their heads. I ask for the written, reciprocal obligation, signed by their hand, which proclaims their default; and I find only threatening and one-sided prohibitions of a self-styled legislator, who needs the aid of the executioner to have any authority.
Where there has been no contract there can be neither crime nor misdemeanor before a court. And here I hold you by your own maxims: All that is not prohibited by law is permitted, and The law applies to the future only, it has no retroactive force.
Well then, the law (and this is written after sixty years under your institutions)—the law is the expression of the sovereignty of the People; that is to say, if I am not much mistaken, it is the social contract, the personal obligation of the man and the citizen. In so far as I have not wanted the law, in so far as I have not consented to it, voted for it, signed it, I am under no obligation to it; it has no existence. To use it before I have recognized it, and to avail yourself of it against me, despite my protest, is virtually to give it retroactive effect and to violate the law itself. Every day it happens that a decision is reversed for an error in form. But there is not one of your acts which is not marked by invalidity, and by the most monstrous of invalidities, the assumption that the accused knew the law. Soufflard, Lacenaire, and all the criminals whom yuo have sent to execution, turn in their graves and accuse you of false judgment. What have you to reply?
Talk not of tacit consent, of the eternal principles of society, of the moral standard of nations, of the religious conscience. It is precisely because the universal conscience does recognize right, morality, the claims of society, that you should have explained its principles, and asked for the acquiescence of all. Did you do this? No, you enacted whatever you chose, and you called this edict of yours the rule of conscience, and the expression of general consent. There is too much partiality in your laws, too many implications and equivocations, upon which we are not agreed. We protest against both your laws and your justice.
General consent! That recalls another pretended principle, which you present to us as another of your triumphs, that every accused person should be tried by his equals, who are his natural judges. Ridiculous! Has this man who has never been asked to take part in the discussion of the law, who has never voted for it, never even read it, who would not understand it if he should read it, who has not been consulted upon the choice of a legislator,—has he any natural judges? Are these capitalists, these proprietors, these rich men, who are in touch with the government, who enjoy its protection and favor, are they the natural judges of the poor? Are these the
honest and free men, who will declare him guilty,
on their honor and conscience (what a guaranty for the culprit!),
before God (of whom the accused has never heard),
before men (among whom he is not counted); and if he advances in protest the wretched condition to which society has reduced him, if he reminds them of the poverty of his life and all the hardships of his existence, will reply by bringing up the tacit consent and the conscience of the human race?
No, no, magistrates, you shall no longer enact this part of violence and hypocrisy. It is enough that there is nothing that calls your good faith in question; and that, because of that good faith, the future will pardon you; but you shall go no further. You have no right to judge; and this lack of right, this invalidity of yuor tenure, was implicitly asserted on the day when, in the face of the world, in a federation of all France, the principle of the sovereignty of the People was proclaimed, which is nothing else than individual sovereignty.
Remember, there is but one way to do justice; it is that the culprit, or merely the defendant, should do it himself. And he will do it when each citizen shall have appeared at the social compact; when, at this solemn assemblage, the rights, the obligations, and the functions of each shall have been defined, guaranties exchanged, and assent signed.
Then justice, springing from liberty, will no longer be vengeance; it will be reparation. As there will be no more opposition between social law and the will of the individual, litigation will be cut off, there will be nothing for it but acknowledgment.
Moreover the machinery of lawsuits then will reduce itself to a simple meeting of witnesses; no intermediary between the plaintiff and defendant, between the claimant and the debtor, will be needed except the friends whom they have asked to arbitrate.
Then indeed, according to the democratic principle that the judge should be elected by the litigants, the State will have no more to do with judicial matters than the duel: the right to justice granted to everybody is the best guaranty of the judgments.
The complete, immediate, abolition of courts and tribunals, without any substitution or transition, is one of the prime necessities of the Revolution. Whatever delay may occur in other reforms, if social liquidation, for example, should not take place for twenty-five years, or the organization of economic forces for half a century, in any case the suppression of judicial authority cannot be postponed.
As for the principle involved, justice as now established is never anything but a formula for despotism, and the negation of liberty and right. Wherever you allow a jurisdiction to survive, you erect a monument to counter-revolution, whence, sooner or later, will arise a new political or religious autocracy.
As for the policy, it would risk everything to leave the interpretation of the new social compact to the ancient magistracies, saturated as they are with baneful ideas. We see but too clearly that if the administrators of justice are pitiless towards Socialists, it is because Socialism is the negation of the juridical function, as well as of the law that stands behind it. When the judge pronounces the fate of a citizen, arrested for revolutionary thoughts, words or writings, it is not a culprit but an enemy whom he strikes. For the sake of justice, suppress this official, who, administering justice, is fighting for his robe and fireside.
Moreover, the way has been mapped out: the commercial tribunals, the councils of arbiters, the recognition of arbitration, and the appointment of experts, so frequently ordered by the courts, are so many steps already made toward the democratization of justice. To carry the movement to completion, nothing is needed but a decree giving authority to all arbiters, appointed at the request of any one whomsoever, to send for witnesses, and to put their decisions into execution.
Everything in our society is contradictory: that is why we can never come to an understanding, are always ready to fight. Public administration and the police will afford us another proof.
If there is anything to-day which seems improper, sacrilegious, a direct attack upon liberty of Reason and of Conscience, it is a government which, usurping the domain of faith, pretends to control the spiritual duties of its subjects. Even in the eyes of Christians, such tyranny would be intolerable; if there were not insurrection, martyrdoms would reply. The Church, instituted and inspired from above, asserts its own right to govern souls, but refuses this right to the State; which is noteworthy, and constitutes of itself a beginning of liberalism. You are the guardians of the outward: we are the guardians of the inward. Before you, faith is free: religion does not derive from your authority.
On this point opinion, at least in France, is unanimous. The State may still be willing to pay for public worship, and the Church to accept the subsidy, but the State does not interfere at all with dogmas and ceremonies. Believe or not; worship or not; that is your affair. The Government has decided not to enter any more into matters of conscience.
Of two things one: either the Government, in making this sacrifice of its right of initiative, has committed a grevious error; or it has intended to take a step backward, and to give us a pledge of its retreat. Why indeed, if the Government does not think that it has the right to force religion upon us, should it think that it has the right to force law upon us? Why, not content with legislative authority, should it exercise judicial authority in addition? Why police authority? Why administrative authority?
What indeed! does the Government leave to us the care of our souls, the most important part of us, upon the control of which hangs order in this life, together with our happiness in the other, but intervenes in our material affairs, commercial business, relations with our neighbors, the most ordinary matters? Power is like the curate's maid; it leaves souls to the devil; all it wants is the body. If it can get its hands into our purses, it scorns our thoughts. What a disgrace! Can we not take care of our possessions, arrange our accounts, settle our differences, provide for our common needs, at least as well as we can look after our salvation and care for our souls? What business have we with the legislation of the State, with the administration of the State, any more than with the religion of the State? What reason, what pretext even, can the State advance for this exception to local and individual liberty?
Will it be said that the contradiction is only apparent; that the authority of the State is universal and excepts nothing; but that for its more complete operation, it has had to divide itself into two equal and independent powers; the one the Church, to which is confided the care of souls, the other the State, to which belongs the government of bodies?
To this I reply, in the first place, that the separation of the State from the Church was not made for better organization, but on account of the incompatibility of the interests which they control; in the second place, that the results of this separation have been most deplorable; seeing that the Church, having lost its power over temporal matters, is no longer listened to in spiritual matters; while the State, assuming to interfere only in material questions, and solving them only by force, has lost the respect and aroused the condemnation of all. And it is precisely for that reason that the State and the Church, convinced too late of their inseparability, are now trying to reunite themselves in an impossible fusion, at the moment when the Revolution has pronounced the downfall of both.
But neither can the Church, lacking political sanction, maintain its control of thought; nor can the State, deprived of higher principles, aspire to the control of material interests; while, as for their fusion, it is even more chimerical than that of an absolute monarchy with a constitutional monarchy. What liberty has separated, authority cannot reunite.
My question thus stands untouched: by what right does the State, which cares nothing for thought nor for public worship, the State, which is as godless as the law, assume to rule material interests?
To this question, which is entirely one of law and morality, reply is made:
1st. That individuals and communities, not being able to look at general interest, seeing their own interests are opposed, need some sovereign ruler.
2nd. That as affairs cannot be carried on harmoniously if each locality, each association, each group of interests, is left to its own individual impulse; if public functionaries receive as many different and contradictory orders as there are individual interests, it is essential that a single power should give the orders, and consequently that functionaries should be appointed by the Government.
You cannot get out of it: there is inevitable and fatal antagonism of interests; that is the premise; there must be centralized, official command; that is the conclusion.
It was from such reasoning that our fathers, in '93, after having destroyed divine right, feudal rule, distinction of classes, baronial courts, &c., reestablished a government based upon electoral mandate, and disagreed with the Girondists, who, without being able to say how they expected to secure unity, nevertheless, it is said, opposed centralization.
We now see the fruits of this policy.
According to M. Raudot, the total number of Government officials for the State and municipalities is 568,365. The army is not included in this figure. There is therefore, in addition to the soldiers, whose number varies from 400,000 to 500,000, a mass of 568,365 agents, supervisors, inspectors, &c., who enmesh the country, whom the Government supports at the expense of the nation, and of whom it makes use perhaps to watch over the morals of the people, perhaps to defend itself against the attacks of the discontented, or, more terrible still, the assaults of antagonistic thought.
This is the Rule that centralization inflicts upon us. Do you not think that complete Anarchy would be better for our peace of mind, our labor and our prosperity, than this million of parasites armed to attack our liberties and our interests?
And this is not all.
As there are 568,365 employes of the State at the command of the ministry, the opposition, whether monarchical or democratic matters little, has on its side an army twice, thrice, four times as numerous, composed of men who are without employment, discontented with their position, who covet government situations; and who, in order to obtain them, work as hard as they can, under their distinct leaders, to overthrow the Government heads of departments. Thus on the one hand war between officialdom and industry; on the other, war between the ministry and the opposition. What do you think of this kind of order?
At this game of puss-in-the-corner our unhappy country has passed its life since '93, and the end is not yet. If I may tell what is known to everybody, Republican Solidarity, a society established to assert, propagate, and defend the Revolution, at the same time aimed, not at overthrowing the Government, but at having ready a complete staff, which if the exigency required could take the places of the old employes, and carry on the work without crippling the service. That is the way in which revolutionaries of to-day understand their part. What a good thing it was for the Revolution that the government of Louis Bonaparte dissolved the Republican Solidarity.
As a State religion is the rape of the conscience, so a State political administration is the castration of liberty. Deadly devices, wrought by the same madness for oppression and intolerance; whose poisonous fruits show their identity. State religion produced the Inquisition; State administration produced the police.
It is easily understood that the priesthood, at first, like the Chinese mandarins, only a scientific and literary caste, may have nursed thoughts of religious control, while science, intolerant of error, has legitimate aspirations to instruct the reason. The priesthood enjoyed this prerogative, as long as it taught science, of which the characteristic is to be experimental and progressive: it lost it when it placed itself in opposition to progress and experience.
But that the State, whose only science is force, and whose only doctrine, along with its etiquette and its lackeys, is the theory of the platoon and battalion—that the State, I say, treating the Nation forever as a child, should undertake, at the nation's expense and against its will, under pretext of discordance between its desires and its needs, to administer its property, to judge what is suitable for its interests, to dole out to it the power of movement, liberty, life; that would indeed be inconceivable, would indicate some infernal machination did we not know, through the history of all governments, that if power has always ruled the people, it is because through all time the People, ignorant of the laws of order, has been the accomplice of Power.
If I were talking to men who had love of liberty and respect for themselves, and I wanted to excite them to revolt, I should confine myself in my speech to reciting the powers of a prefect.
According to their authors:
The prefect is the agent of the central power: he is also the intermediary between the Government and the Department: he procures administrative action: he provides for the public service directly, by his own action.
As the agent of the central power, the prefect performs those acts that relate to the property of the State or of the Department; and fulfills the functions of police.
As intermediary between the Government and the Department, he causes the laws sent to him by the ministers to be published and put into execution, and gives executive force to the taxrolls; vise versa, he forwards claims, information, &c., to the central Government.
As procurer of administrative action, he fulfills diverse functions towards those in his charge and towards his subordinates: these are, instruction, direction, initiation, inspection, supervision, estimation, or appreciation, control, censorship, reformation, redress, finally, correction or punishment.
As provider for the needs of the public service, the prefect acts somtimes as clothed with guardianship, sometimes as with military command, sometimes as having judicial jurisdiction.
In charge of the business of the Department and the State, officer of the judicial, intermediary and plenipotentiary police, instructor, director, initiator, inspector, supervisor, estimator, controller, censor, reformer, redresser, corrector, guardian, commander, superintendent, edile, judge—that is the prefect, that is the Government. And you tell me that a people that will submit to such a rule, a people thus held in leading strings, under collar and bridle, under rod and whip, is a free people! that such a people understands liberty, that it is capable of tasting liberty and receiving it! No, no, such a people is less than a slave; it is nothing but a war-horse. Before freeing it, it must be raised to the dignity of a man, by reconstructing its understanding. It will say to you itself, in the simplicity of its belief: What would become of me without saddle or bridle! I have never known any other rule of life nor any other condition. Clear up my ideas, gratify my affections, balance my interests, then I shall need no master, I can get along without a rider.
Thus society, by its own confession, turns in a circle. This government, which society holds up as a guiding principle, it admits is nothing but the supplement of its reason. Just as between the guidance of his conscience and the tyranny of his instincts, man has given himself a mystical controller—the priests; just as between his own and his neighbor's liberty he has placed as arbiter the judge; just so between his own and the public interest, supposed by him to be as irreconcilable as his reason and his instinct, he has sought another mediator, the prince. Man has thus deprived himself of his moral character, and of his judicial dignity, and he has cast away his right of initiative; by this loss of his powers he has made himself the poor slave of impostors and tyrants.
But since Jesus Christ, Isaiah, David, Moses himself, it has been admitted that the just man has need neither of sacrifice nor of priest; and we have but now proved that the setting up of a judge superior to the judged is a contradiction in principle and a violation of the social compact. Would it be more difficult, for the accomplishment of our social and civic duties, to dispense with the lofty intervention of the State?
We have shown that the industrial system is the harmony of interests resulting from social liquidation, free currency and credit, the organization of economic forces, and the constitution of value and property.
When that is accomplished, what use will there be any more for government; what use punishment; what use judicial power? The contract solves all problems. The producer deals with the consumer, the member with his society, the farmer with his township, the township with the province, the province with the State, &c., &c. It is still the same interest which passes along, transforms itself, balances itself, is reflected to infinity: still the same idea which issues from each faculty of the soul as a center toward the periphery of its attractions.
The secret of this equalizing of the citizen and the State, as well as of the believer and the priest, the plaintiff and the judge, lies in the economic equation which we have hereinbefore made, by the abolition of capitalist interest between the worker and the employer, the farmer and the proprietor. Do away with this last remnant of the ancient slavery by the reciprocity of obligations, and both citizens and communities will have no need of the intervention of the State to carry on their business, take care of their property, build their ports, bridges, quays, canals, roads, establish markets, transact their litigation, instruct, direct, control, censor their agents, perform any acts of supervision or police, any more than they will need its aid in offering their adoration to the Most High, or in judging their criminals and putting it out of their power to do injury, supposing that the removal of motive does not bring the cessation of crime.
Let us make an end of it. Centralized government can be understood under the old monarchy, when the king, called the first baron of the realm, was the fountain, in virtue of his divine right, of all justice, all power of action, all property. But after the declarations of the Constituent Assembly, after the still more explicit and positive amplifications made by the Convention, to pretend that the Country, that is to say each locality for its own concerns, has not the right to rule, administer, judge and govern itself; to take from the people the disposition of their forces, under the pretext that the Republic is one and indivisible; to reestablish despotism by metaphysics, after having overthrown it by insurrection; to treat as Federalists, and as such to mark for proscription, all who speak in favor of liberty and local sovereignty; all this is to be false to the true spirit of the French Revolution and its most assured intentions; it is to deny progress.
I have said, and I cannot repeat too often, that the system of centralized government which prevailed in '93, thanks to Robespierre, and the Jacobins, was nothing but feudalism transformed; it was the application of algebra to tyranny. Napoleon, who gave the last touch to it, bore witness to this.
Let M. Ledru-Rollin consider this: his last statement in favor of direct government is a first step beyond Jacobin tradition, back to the true revolutionary tradition; just as the protest of M. Louis Blanc against what he calls Girondism, is the first note of governmental reaction. The Constitution of '93 is the Gironde and Danton; the representative system is the Jacobin Club and Robespierre. But Robespierre and the Jacobins are discredited: sixty years of experience have taught us what the unity and indivisibility of their republic was worth.
As for the Constitution of '93, even if it did mark the movement toward a new order of ideas, it cannot serve as an example to us now, although it may be well to recall its terms and its tendencies. The revolutionary spirit has advanced since then: we are indeed in harmony with that Constitution, but we have lived sixty years beyond it.
Propose the following questions to the people, and you can be quite sure of the replies in advance.
Question. Shall instruction be free and compulsory?
Q. Who shall give the instruction? A. The State.
Q. Who shall bear the cost? A. The State.
Q. Shall there be a Minister of Public Instruction?
Nothing easier, you see, than to make the People legislate. Everything depends on the way in which the questions are put. It is the method of Socrates, arguing against the Sophists.
Q. Shall there be also a Minister of Public Works?
A. Certainly, since there will be public works.
Q. Also a Minister of Agriculture and Commerce?
Q. A Minister of Finance? A. Yes.
How marvelous! The People talks like the child Jesus in the midst of the elders. However little you may like it, I am going to make it say that it wants tithes, the right of the first night, and the kingdom of Dagobert.
Let us once more examine the plea which serves as a pretext for the existence of the State.
The People, because they are so many, are supposed not to be able to carry on their own affairs, neither instruction, nor proper behavior, nor protection; like a great lord who does not know what his fortune is, and who is not quite right in his mind; but who pays for the management of his property, for his domestic economy, and for the care of his person, agents, subordinates and superintendents of all kinds; some who take account of his revenues and regulate his expenses, others who deal in his name with supply merchants and bankers, still others who watch over the safety of his person, &c., &c..
Thus the budget of expenses of the sovereign is composed of two parts: 1st. Real services and actual materials of which are composed his support, his pleasures and his luxuries. 2nd. The remuneration of servants, aids, commissioners, representatives, assistants, almoners, solicitors, guards, who act for him.
The second part of the budget is much the largest: it is composed:
1st. Of interest due to bankers with whom the People hold a current account; interest which to-day, together with the sinking fund, amounts to $69,200,000, and constitutes the public debt.
2nd. Salaries of the important officers, direct representatives of the sovereign, and heads of each branch. These amount to $1,800,000.
3rd. Salaries of employes, clerks, assistants, menials of every grade and degree. Of $161,000,000 allowed for the various ministers, at least three-quarters are used for such payments.
4th. Cost of excise, assessment, and collection of the public revenues. These come to $29,800,000.
5th. Pensions paid by the public to old employes, after thirty-five years of service, of which the total is $9,000,000.
6th. Finally, unexpected expenditures, uncollected returns, nominal receipts, all charged to the account of profit and loss, $16,000,000.
Thus, for from forty to sixty millions, at most, of real servies and actual materials of which the yearly expenditure of the People is composed, the governmental system makes them pay $286,800,000, say 200 to 240 millions of profit, that the servants of the People draw from their appointments. And in order to assure themselves forever of this immense prey, in order to prevent any notion of reform and emancipation from entering their master's head, the said servants have made their master declare himself in perpetual minority, and incapable of executing his civil and political rights.
The worst of this system is not so much the inevitable ruin of the master, as the hatred and scorn which his servants bear toward him; not knowing him, knowing only his head superintendents, from whom they receive their appointments and take their orders, and whose part they always take against the sovereign People.
Attacking this system on the front, we have said:
The People is a collective entity.
They who have exploited the People from time immemorial still hold it in servitude, stand upon this collectivity of its nature, and deduce from this its legal incapacity, which requires their personal control. We, on the contrary, from that collectivity of the People, draw proof that it is completely and perfectly capable, that it can do anything, and needs no one to restrain it. The only question is how to give full play to its powers.
Thus, in speaking of the public debt, we have shown that the People precisely because it is multiple, could organize its own credit very well, and has no need to enter into relations with money lenders. And we have done away with debts: no more loans, no more ledger account, no more intermediaries, no more State, between the capitalists and the People.
Public worship has been disposed of in the same way. What is the priest? we have asked. An intermediary between the People and God. What is God himself? Another supernatural and imaginary intermediary between the natural instincts of man and his reason. Cannot man do what his reason points to, without being constrained by respect for a Creator? That would be a contradiction. In any case, faith being free and optional, and each one constructing his own religion, worship becomes a matter for the inward tribunal an affair of conscience, not of material use. Almsgiving has been suppressed.
The judiciary too has gone. What is Justice? Mutual guaranties; that which for two hundred years we have called the Social Contract. Every man who has signed this contract is fit to be a judge: justice for all; authority for none. As for procedure, the shortest is the best. Down with tribunals and jurisdictions!
Last came administration, accompanied by the police. Our decision was taken quickly. Since the People is multiple and unity of interest constitutes its collectivity, centralization comes about through this unity; there is no need of centralizers. Let each household, each factory, each association, each municipality, each district, attend to its own police, and administer carefully its own affairs, and the nation will be policed and administered. What need have we to be watched and ruled, and to pay, year in and year out, 25 millions? Let us abolish prefects, commissioners, and policemen too.
The next question is of schools. This time there is no idea of suppression, but only of converting a political institution into an economic one. If we preserve the methods of teaching now in use, why should we need the intervention of the State?
A community needs a teacher. It chooses one at its pleasure, young or old, married or single, a graduate of the Normal School or self-taught, with or without a diploma. The only thing that is essential is that the said teacher should suit the fathers of families, and that they should be free to entrust their children to them or not. In this, as in other matters, it is essential that the transaction should be a free contract and subject to competition; something that is impossible under a system of inequality, favoritism, and university monopoly, or that of a coalition of Church and State.
As for the so-called higher education, I do not see how the protection of the State is needed, any more than in the former case. Is it not the spontaneous result, the natural focus of lower instruction? Why should not lower instruction be centralized in each district, in each province, and a portion of the funds destined for it be applied to the support of higher schools that are thought necessary, of which the teaching staff should be chosen from that of the lower schools. Every soldier, it is said, carries a marshal's baton in his knapsack. If that is not true, it ought to be. Why should not every teacher bear in his diploma the title of university professor? Why, after the example of what is done in workingmen's associations, as the teacher is responsible to the Academic Council, should not the Academic Council be appointed by the teachers?
Thus even with the present system of instruction, the university centralization in a democratic society is an attack upon paternal authority, and a confiscation of the rights of the teacher.
But let us go to the bottom of the matter. Governmental centralization in public instruction is impossible in the industrial system, for the decisive reason that instruction is inseparable from apprenticeship, and scientific education is inseparable from professional education. So that the teacher, the professor, when he is not himself the foreman, is before everything the man of the association of the agricultural or industrial group which employs him. As the child is the pledge, pignus, between the parents, so the school becomes the bond between the industrial associations and families: it is unfitting that it should be divorced from the workshop, and, under the plea of perfecting it, should be subjected to external power.
To separate teaching from apprenticeship, as is done to-day, and, what is still more objectionable, to distinguish between professional education and the real, serious, daily, useful practice of the profession, is to reproduce in another form the separation of powers and the distinction of classes, the wo most powerful instruments of governmental tyranny and the subjection of the workers.
Let the working class think of this.
If the school of mines is anything else than the actual work in the mines, accompanied by the studies suitable for the mining industry, the school will have for its object, to make, not miners, but chiefs of miners, aristocrats.
If the school of arts and crafts is anything but the art or craft taught, its aim will soon be to make, not artisans, but directors of artisans, aristocrats.
If the school of commerce is anything but the store, the counting house, it will not be used to make traders, but captains of industry, aristocrats.
If the naval school is anything but actual service on board ship, including even the service of the cabin boy, it will serve only as a means of marking two classes, sailors and officers.
Thus we see things go under our system of political oppression and industrial chaos. Our schools, when they are not establishments of luxury or pretexts for sinecures, are seminaries of aristocrac. It was not for the People that the Polytechnic, the Normal School, the military school at St. Cyr, the School of Law, were founded; it was to support, strengthen, and fortify the distinction between classes, in order to complete and make irrevocable the split between the working class and the upper class.
In a real democracy, in which each member should have instruction, both ordinary and advanced, under his control in his home, this superiority from schooling would not exist. It is contradictory to the principle of society. But when education is merged in apprenticeship; when it consists, as for theory, in the classification of ideas; as for practice, in the specialization of work; when it becomes at once a matter of training the mind and of application to practical affairs in the workshop and in the house, it cannot any longer depend upon the State: it is incompatible with government. Let there be in the Republic a central bureau of education, another of manufactures and arts, as there is now an Academy of Sciences and an Office of Longitude. I see no objection. But again, what need for authority? Why such an intermediary between the student and the schoolroom, between the shop and the apprentice, when it is not admitted between the workman and the employer?
The three bureaus, of Public Works, of Agriculture and Commerce, and of Finance, will all disappear in the economic organism.
The first is impossible, for two reasons: 2st, the control undertaking such works will belong to the municipalities, and to districts within their jurisdiction. 2nd, the control of carrying them out will rest with the workmen's associations.
Unless democracy is a fraud, and the sovereignty of the People a joke, it must be admitted that each citizen in the sphere of his industry, each municipal,district or provincial council within its own territory, is the only natural and legitimate representative of the Sovereign, and that therefore each locality should act directly and by itself in administering the interests which it includes, and should exercise full sovereignty in relation to them. The People is nothing but the organic union of wills that are individually free, that can and should voluntarily work together, but abdicate never. Such a union must be sought in the harmony of their interests, not in an artificial centralization, which, far from expressing the collective will, expresses only the antagonisms of individual wills.
The direct, sovereign initiative of localities, in arranging for public works that belong to them, is a consequence of the democratic principle and the free contract: their subordination to the State is an invention of '93, and a return to feudalism. This was the especial work of Robespierre and the Jacobins, and the most deadly blow at popular liberty. The fruits of it are well known: without centralized Power, we should never have had the absurd competition of two roads from Paris to Versailles; without centralized Power, we should never have had the fortifications of Paris and of Lyons, with detached forts; without centralized Power, the radial system of railroads would never have obtained the preference; without centralized Power, which always draws to itself the most important matters, in order to use them, to work them, in the interest of its creatures and hangers-on, we should not see every day public property given away, public service monopolized, taxes wasted, squandering remunerated, the fortune of the people eagerly sacrificed by their legislators and ministers.
I may add that, contrary as is the supremacy of the State to democratic principles in the matter of public works, it is also incompatible with the rights of workers created by the Revolution.
We have already had occasion to show, especially in connection with the establishment of a National Bank and the formation of workers' societies, that in the economic order labor subordinated to itself both talent and capital. This the more, because that under the operation, sometimes simultaneous, sometimes independent, of the division of labor and of collective power, it becomes necessary for the workers to form themselves into democratic societies, with equal conditions for all members, on pain of a relapse into feudalism. Among the industries which demand this form of organization, we have already mentioned railroads. We may add to these the construction and support of roads, bridges and harbors, and the work of afforestation, clearing, drainage, &c., in a word, all that we are in the habit of considering in the domain of the State.
If it becomes thenceforth impossible to regard as mere mercenaries the workmen who are closely or distantly connected with the associations for buildings, for waters and forests, for mines; if we are to be forced to see this low mob as sovereign societies; how can we maintain the the hierarchical relations of the minister to the heads of departments, of heads of departments to engineers, and of engineers to workers; how, in short, preserve the supremacy of the State?
The workmen, much elated by the use of the political rights conferred upon them, will desire to exercise them in their fullness. Associating themselves, they will first choose leaders, engineers, architects, accountants; then they will bargain directly, as one power with another, with municipal and district authorities for the execution of public works. Far from submitting to the State, they will themselves be the State; that is to say, in all that concerns their industrial specialty, they will be the direct, active representative of the Sovereign. Let them set up an administration, open credit, give pledges, and the Country will find in them a guaranty superior to the State; for they will be responsible at least for their own acts, while the State is responsible for nothing.
Shall I speak of the Ministry of Agriculture and Commerce? The budget for this department amounts to $5,500,000, which is squandered in subsidies, bonuses, allowances, premiums, remittances, secret funds, supervision, central service, &c. Translated, this means, favors, corruptions, sinecures, parasitism, robbery.
Thus for instruction in agriculture and its various aids, I find $640,000. It is safe to say, notwithstanding my respect for the estimable professors, that $640,000 worth of guano would be of more use to the peasants than their lessons.
For the veterinary school and the stud, I find $685,000. Despite these, the horses in France are continually deteriorating, and there are not enough of them. We can let the Jockey Club go then, and let the breeders alone.
For the manufactures of Sevres, Gobelins, Beauvais, for the Conservatory, the Schools of Arts and Crafts, the subsidies to commerce and manufactures, $759,615. What do these manufactures produce? Nothing, not even masterpieces. What progress do our schools effect in industry? None. They do not even teach there the true principles of international economics. What end do these encouragements to commerce serve? None, evidently. The portfolio of the Bank empties itself every day!
For sea fishing, $800,000, intended to encourage the sailor population. There is moreover in the budget $800,000 received for licenses levied upon these same fisheries: it follows that we are paying $1,600,000 extra that we may eat sea fish, and that without this we could not meet the competition of foreign fishing fleets! Would it not be easier to remove the $1,600,000 of taxes and expenses of every sort, which weigh down the owners of the vessels; that is to say, to abolish ministerial action as far as they are concerned?
The most curious of the articles of this department is that which deals with workmen's associations. I am not joking: since 1848, the Government has set itself to pay a license for Socialism. For the supervision of associations, $15,400.
Let the Government give as much to them instead. They will be glad to get it, and the Government will have so much the less trouble.
Finally, to support, direct, supervise, pay for, all this parasitism, $142,630, for what is called the central administration. Double that sum: double the budget for Agriculture and Commerce, and let the State refrain from interfering with agriculture, commerce, industry, horse-raising, and fisheries, and let it turn them over to workmen's associations, who will make them worth something, under the direction of men of science and artists; and the State, paid for doing nothing, will for the first time have aided order.
As for the Ministry of Finance, it is evident that its functions are entirely confined to the other Ministries. The finances are to the State what the hayrack is to the ass. Suppress the political machine, and you will have left an administration of which the sole object is to procure and distribute subsistence. Districts and municipalities, resuming the control of their public works, are as capable of paying their own expenses as of planning them: the financial intermediary disappears: at the most we might retain, as a general bureau of statistics, the Chamber of Accounts.
He that is guilty of one is guilty of all, says the Gospel. If the Revolution allows any portion of government to remain, it will soon return in its entirety. But how can we dispense with government in dealing with foreign affairs?
A nation is a collective being which continually deals with other collective beings like itself; which therefore must establish an organ, a representative, in short, a government for its international relations. Here at least, then, is not the Revolution about to be false to its own principle; and to justify its lapse by quoting the stupid pretense that the exception proves the rule? That would be deplorable, and moreover is inadmissible. If the government is indispensable for diplomacy, it is as much so for war and for the navy; and, as all is comprised in power and society, we should soon see governmentalism reestablish itself in the police, then in the administration, then in the judiciary, and then where would the Revolution be?
This dwelling upon foreign politics is what best shows how weak is still the conception of the Revolution among us. It shows a prejudiced fidelity to the traditions of despotism, and a dangerous leanin toward counter-revolution in European democracy, unceasingly busy in maintaining the balance of power among the nations.
Let us try, in this as in other matters, to reconstruct our ideas, and to free ourselves from habit.
After the Revolution has been accomplished at home will it also be accomplished abroad?
Who can doubt it? The Revolution would be vain if it were not contagious: it would perish, even in France, if it failed to become universal. Everybody is convinced of that. The least enthusiastic spirits do not believe it necessary for revolutionary France to interfere among other nations by force of arms: it will be enough for her to support, by her example and her encouragement, any effort of the people of foreign nations to follow her example.
What then is the Revolution, completed abroad as well as at home?
Capitalistic and proprietary exploitation stopped everywhere, the wage system abolished, equal and just exchange guaranteed, value constituted, cheapness assured, the principle of protection changed, and the markets of the world opened to the producers of all nations; consequently the barrier struck down, the ancient law of nations replaced by commercial agreements; police, judiciary administration, everywhere committed to the hands of the workers; the economic organization replacing the governmental and military system in the colonies as well as in the great cities; finally, the free and universal commingling of races under the law of contract only: that is the Revolution.
Is it possible that in this state of affairs, in which all interests, agricultural, financial and industrial, are identical and interwoven, in which the governmental protectorate has nothing to do, either at home or abroad, is it possible that the nations will continue to form distinct political bodies, that they will hold themselves separate, when their producers and consumers are mingled, that they will still maintain diplomacy, to settle claims, to determine prerogatives, to arrange differences, to exchange guaranties, to sign treaties, &c., without any object?
To ask such a question is to answer it. It needs no demonstration; only some explanations from the point of view of nationalities.
Let us recall the principle. The reason for the institution of government, as we have said, is the economic chaos. When the Revolution has regulated this chaos, and organized the industrial forces, there is no further pretext for political centralization; it is absorbed in industrial solidarity, a solidarity which is based upon general reason, and of which we may say, as Pascal said of the universe, that its center is everywhere, its circumference nowhere.
When the institution of government has been abolished, and replaced by the economic organization, the problem of the universal Revolution is solved. The dream of Napoleon is realized, and the chimera of the Dean of St. Peter's becomes a necessity.
It is the governments who, pretending to establish order among men, arrange them forthwith in hostile camps, and as their only occupation is to produce servitude at home, their art lies in maintaining war abroad, war in fact or war in prospect.
The oppression of peoples and their mutual hatred are two correlative, inseparable facts, which reproduce each other, and which cannot come to an end except simultaneously, by the destruction of their common cause, government.
This is why nations will inevitably remain at war, as long as they remain under the rule of kings, tribunes, or dictators; as long as they obey a visible authority, established in their midst, from which emanate the laws which govern them: no Holy Alliance, Democratic Congress, Amphictyonic Council, nor Central European Committee can help the matter. Great bodies of men thus constituted are necessarily opposed in interests; as they cannot merge, they cannot recognize justice: by war or by diplomacy, not less deadly than war, must quarrel and fight.
Nationality, aroused by the State, opposes an invincible resistance to economic unity: this explains why monarchy was never able to become universal. Universal monarchy is, in politics, what squaring the circle or perpetual motion are in mathematics, a contradiction. A nation can put up with a government as long as its economic forces are unorganized, and as long as the government is its own, the nationalism of the power causing an illusion as to the validity of the principle; the government maintains itself through an interminable succession of monarchies, aristocracies, and democracies. But if the Power is external, the nation feels it as an insult: revolt is in every heart, it cannot last.
What no monarchy, not even that of the Roman emperors, has been able to accomplish; what Christianity, that epitome of the ancient faiths, has been unable to produce, the universal Republic, the economic Revolution, will accomplish, cannot fail to accomplish.
It is indeed with political economy as with other sciences: it is inevitably the same throughout the world: it does not depend upon the fancies of men or a Russian, English, Austrian, Tartar, or Hindoo political economy, any more than there is a Hungarian, German, or American physics or geometry. Truth alone is equal everywhere: science is the unity of mankind.
If then science, and no longer religion or authority, is taken in every land as the rule of society, the sovereign arbiter of interests, government becoming void, all the legislation of the universe will be in harmony. There will no longer be nationality, no longer fatherland, in the political sense of the words: they will mean only places of birth. Man, of whatever race or color he may be, is an inhabitant of the universe; citizenship is everywhere an acquired right. As in a limited territory the municipality represents the Republic, and wields its authority, each nation on the globe represents humanity, and acts for it within the boundaries assigned by Nature. Harmony reigns, without diplomacy and without council, among the nations: nothing henceforward can disturb it.
What purpose could there be for entering into diplomatic relations among nations who had adopted the revolutionary program:
No more governments,
No more conquests,
No more international police,
No more commercial privileges,
No more colonial exclusions,
No more control of one people by another, one State by another,
No more strategic lines,
No more fortresses?
Russia wants to establish herself at Constantinople, as she is established at Warsaw; that is to say, she wants to include the Bosphorus and the Caucasus in her sphere. In the first place, the Revolution will not permit it; and to make sure, it will begin by revolutionizing Poland, Turkey, and all that it can of the Russian provinces, until it reaches St. Petersburg. That done, what becomes of the Russian relations at Constantinople and at Warsaw? They will be the same as at Berlin and Paris, relations of free and equal exchange. What becomes of Russia itself? It becomes an agglomeration of free and independent nationalities, united only by identity of language, resemblance of occupations, and territorial conditions. Under such conditions conquest is meaningless. If Constantinople belonged to Russia, once Russia was revolutionized Constantinople would belong to it neither more nor less than if it had never lost its sovereignty. The Eastern question from the North ceases to exist.
England wants to hold Egypt as she holds Malta, Corfu, Gibraltar, &c. The same answer from the Revolution. It notifies England to refrain from any attempt upon Egypt, to place a limit upon her encroachments and monopoly; and to make sure, it invites her to evacuate the islands and fortresses whence she threatens the liberty of the nations and of the seas. It would be truly a strange misconception of the nature and the scope of the Revolution to imagine that it would leave Australia and India the exclusive property of England, as well as the bastions with which she hems in the commerce of the continent. The mere presence of the English in Jersey and Guernsey is an insult to France; as their exploitation of Ireland and Portugal is an insult to Europe; as their possession of India and their commerce with China is an outrage upon humanity. Albion, like the rest of the world, must be revolutionized. If necessary to force her, there are people here who would not find it so hard a task. The Revolution completed at London, British privilege extirpated, burnt, thrown to the winds, what would the possession of Egypt mean to England? No more than that of Algiers is to us. All the world could enter, depart, trade at will, arrange for the working of the agricultural, mineral and industrial resources: the advantages would be the same for all nations. The local power would extend only to the cost of its police, which colonists and natives would defray.
There are still among us the chauvinists who maintain absolutely that France must recapture her natural frontiers. They ask too much or too little. France is everywhere that her language is spoken, her Revolution followed, her manners, her arts, her literature adopted, as well as her measures and her money. Counting thus, almost the whole of Belgium, and cantons of Neufchatel, Vaud, Geneva, Savoy, and part of Piedmont belong to her; but she must lose Alsace, pehraps even a part of Provence, Gascony and Brittany, whose inhabitants do not speak French, and some of them have always been of the kings' and priests' party against the Revolution. But of what use are these repetitions? It was the mania for annexations which, under the Convention and the Directory, aroused the distrust of other nations against the Republic, and which, giving us a taste for Bonaparte, brought us to our finish at Waterloo. Revolutionize, I tell you. Your frontiers will always be long enough and French enough if they are revolutionary.
Will Germany be an Empire, a unitary Republic, or a Confederation? This famous problem of Germanic unity, which made so much noise some years ago, has no meaning in the face of the Revolution; which proves indeed that there has never been a Revolution. What are the States, in Germany, as elsewhere? Tyrannies of different degrees of importance, based on the invariable pretexts, first, of protecting the nobility and upper class against the lower classes; second, of maintaining the independence of local sovereignty. Against these States the German democracy has always been powerless, and why? Because it moved in the sphere of political rights. Organize the economic forces of Germany, and immediately political circles, electorates, principalities, kingdoms, empires, all are effaced, even the Tariff League: German unity springs out of the abolition of its States. What the ancient Germany needs is not a confederation but a liquidation.
Understand once for all: the most characteristic, the most decisive result of the Revolution is, after having organized labor and property, to do away with political centralization, in a word, with the State, and as a consequence to put an end to diplomatic relations among nations, as soon as they subscribe to the revolutionary compact. Any return to the traditions of politics, any anxiety as to the balance of power in Europe, based on the pretext of nationality and of the independence of States, any proposition to form alliances, to recognize sovereignties, to restore provinces, to change frontiers, would betray, in the organs of the movement, the most complete failure to understand the needs of the age, scorn of social reform, and a predilection for counter-revolution.
The kings may sharpen their swords for their last campaign. The Revolution in the Nineteenth Century has for its supreme task, not so much the overthrow of their dynasties, as the dstruction to the last root of their institution. Born as they are to war, educated for war, supported by war, domestic and foreign, of what use can they be in a society of labor and peace? Henceforth there can be no more purpose in war than in refusal to disarm. Universal brotherhood being established upon a sure foundation, there is nothing for the representatives of despotism to do but to take their leave. How is it that they do not see that this always increasing difficulty of existence, which they have experienced since Waterloo, arises, not as they have been made to think, from the Jacobin ideas, which since the fall of Napoleon have again begun to beset the middle classes, but from a subterranean working which has gone on throughout Europe, unknown to statesmen, and which, while developing beyond measure the latest forces of civilization, has made the organization of those forces a social necessity, an inevitable need of revolution?
As for those who, after the departure of kings, still dream of consulates, of presidencies, of dictatorships, of marshalships, of admiralties and of ambassadorships, they also will do well to retire. The Revolution, having no need for their services, can dispense with their talents. The people no longer want this coin of monarchy: they understand that, whatever phraseology is used, feudal system, governmental system, military system, parliamentary system, system of police, laws and tribunals, and system of exploitation, corruption, lying and poverty, are all synonymous. Finally they know that in doing away with rent and interest, the last remnants of the old slavery, the Revolution, at one blow, does away with the sword of the executioner, the blade of justice, the club of the policeman, the gauge of the customs officer, the erasing knife of the bureaucrat, all those insignia of government which young Liberty grinds beneath her heel ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ....
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