Moribund Society and Anarchy

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Moribund Society and Anarchy first appeared in France about a. decade since, published by P. V. Stock, printer of numerous works pertaining to Anarchy. The conscience (?) of the French army, which the Dreyfus affair has since revealed in all its delicate scrupulosity, was immediately incensed by the chapter entitled "Militarism," and the author was speedily arrested, tried, and sentenced to two years imprisonment. The book was suppressed, and the French army, presumably, breathed more freely.

A mistake! When persecution begins the gospel spreads. Men were anxious to know what it was that had so frightened the "free government" of France as to call forth such severe punishment of a poor shoemaker. The work was circulated, translated in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Jewish; only in English it .remained untranslated. ' Several times announcements that »we were about to have an English version appeared; still it was not forthcoming.

In 1897 the writer met Jean Grave at the residence of an exiled French comrade in London, and there engaged to undertake the work, the author concurring. Although originally prompted by the English comrades and their promise of a publisher, later developments have made it more expedient to get out an American edition. Among these the only one which really concerns the public is the gigantic stride toward militarism which this country has taken during the past year. Previous to that I was exceedingly dubious as to the effect of the famous prosecuted chapter, which was likely to fall flat on the unmilitary American public. But now that we have entered upon the manifest destiny " of " civilized nations; now that our government has resorted to the same tactics of colonization, protection, subjugation, and conquest; now that our standing army has been increased four-fold, and military place-hunting is the ambition of the hour; now that our workingmen are seizing the opportunity to barter their "free citizenship in the greatest country on earth" for the abject service of man-killing on foreign soils at the rate of $15.60 per month and keep, this proscribed Chapter XIII comes with its own note—a most discordant one indeed—into the war-chorus at present holding the public ear. And the translator devoutly prays that as in France the great sin was its distribution among the soldiery, the like offense may be repeated here, where the army is still in a nascent condition and the man not yet buried under the uniform. Look in the glass and see how you like the reflection, soldiers!

The P. V. Stock edition having been suppressed, E. Pouget, the daring publisher of Pere Peinard, brought out another, ostensibly published in London. Though inelegant in appearance it contains an additional chapter; and it is from this Pouget edition that the present translation has been made. I have adhered as strictly as possible to the text, being unwilling to make either additions or subtractions, though it has sometimes seemed to me that Mr. Grave is unnecessarily diffuse.

As to the principal object of the work, that of furnishing an inclusive criticism of the institutions of our moribund society and the necessity of its speedy dissolution, I think any fair- minded reader will be convinced that it has been pretty thoroughly done. As to the "What next?" it "is far less certain.

With this, however, Jean Grave,—sturdy, patient, indomitable Jean Grave, sitting today in his fifth-floor Parisian garret, untouched by his imprisonment, convinced as ever, steadily writing, writing to the workers of the world, casting forth images of the "Future Society,"—would not agree. He is sure of his remedy—Communism; I, of his criticism, Anarchy.



Moribund Society and Anarchy.


Anarchy signifies the negation of authority. Now, authority claims to justify its existence by the necessity of defending social institutions—the family, religion, property, etc.—and it has created a mass of tools to secure it in the exercise of its functions and its sanctioning privilege. Chief among these are the law, the magistracy, the army, the legislative and executive power, etc., so that, forced to reply to all these, the idea of Anarchy had to attack all social prejudices, go to the bottom of all human knowledge, in order to demonstrate that its conceptions were in conformity with the physiological and psychological nature of man and adequate to the observance of natural laws, whilst our present organization, established contrary to all logic and common sense, causes our societies to be unstable, overturned by revolutions, themselves occasioned by the accumulated hatred of those who are crushed under these arbitrary institutions.

In combating authority, then, the Anarchists had to attack even.- institution of which power had constituted itself the defender, and the necessity for which it seeks to demonstrate in order to justify its own existence. Thus the scope of Anarchistic ideas was widened. Starting out, with a simple political negation, the Anarchist has had to attack economic and social prejudices also, to find a formula which, while denying private property, the basis of our present economic order, should at the same time affirm our aspirations for a future organization. Hence the word Communism naturally came to be coupled with the word Anarchy.

Further on we shall see that certain lovers of the quintessence [2] of abstraction have sought to claim that, from the moment Anarchy signified complete expansion of individuality, the words Anarchy and Communism protested against such a coupling. Against this insinuation we shall prove that individuality cannot develop except in the community; that the latter cannot exist unless the former evolves freely; and that they mutually complement each other.

It is this diversity of problems to attack and to solve which has made the success of Anarchistic ideas, and contributed to their rapid growth; so much so that, launched forth by a group of unknown persons without means of propaganda, they today more or less invade art, science, and literature. Hatred of authority, social demands, date far back; they arise as soon as man is able to recognize that he is oppressed. But through how many phases and systems was it necessary that the idea should pass, before it could assume its present form!

One of the first who formulated it in its intuitional stage was Rabelais, in describing the life of the Abbey of Thelemes. But how obscure it still was! How little he believed it applicable to society in its entirety, since entrance into the community was reserved to a minority of privileged persons attended by a train of domestics attached to their person!

In 1793 the Anarchists were much talked of Jacques Roux and "the madmen" appear to us to have been the ones who, during the Revolution, saw most clearly, and sought the best means of turning it to the 'benefit of the people. Hence the bourgeois historians have left them in the shade. Their history is still to be written; the documents buried in the archives and the libraries still await him who shall have the time and the courage to dig them up, bring them to light, and reveal the secret of things still very incomprehensible to us, in that tragic period of history. We can therefore scarcely form any appreciation of their program. One must come down to Proudhon before he sees Anarchy positing itself as the adversary of authority and power, and beginning to take definite shape. But as yet it is but a theoretical enemy; practically, Proudhon, in his social organization, leaves in existence, under different names, the [3] administrative machinery which is the very essence of government. Up to the end of the empire Anarchy appears under the form of a vague mutualism, which, in France, during the first years that followed the Commune, foundered in the misled and misleading movement of co-operative associations for production and consumption. But before coming to this impotent solution, a sprout had detached itself from the springing tree. In Switzerland, the International had given birth to the "Jurassian Federation in which Bakounine propagated the idea of Proud- hon,—Anarchy the enemy of authority—but developing, enlarging, incarnating it in social demands. From this epoch dates the true dawn of the present Anarchist movement.

Certainly many prejudices still existed, many illogical notions appeared in the ideas promulgated. The propagandist organization still contained many of the germs of authoritarianism; many of the elements of the authoritarian conception still survived. But what of it? The movement was launched; the idea grew, purified itself, and became more and more defined. And when, not quite thirteen years ago, Anarchy was affirmed at the Congres du Centre, in France, though still very feeble, though the act of a very weak minority (having against it not only those satisfied with the present social order, but also those pseudo-revolutionaries who only see in popular demands a means of grasping at power) the idea contained sufficient expansive force to take root without any other means of propaganda than the fervor of its adherents. It had sufficient vigor to induce the supporters of the capitalistic regime to injure and persecute it, and men of good faith to discuss it,—a proof of strength and vitality. Hence, in spite of the crusade of those who could consider themselves, in some degree, leaders of any of the divers divisions of public opinion, in spite of calumnies, excommunications, condemnations, in spite of the prison, the idea of Anarchy has made headway. Groups have been founded, propagandist organs have been created in France, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, Norway, America, Australia, in the Slavic tongue, in German, Jewish, Tcheque, Armenian,—a little everywhere and in all idioms. But what is more important, from the little group [4] of mal-contents by whom they were formulated, Anarchistic ideas have radiated through all classes of society. Wherever man displays his cerebral activity they have infiltrated. Art, science, literature, are impregnated with the new ideas and serve as vehicles for them. These ideas commenced at first in unconscious formulas, in illy-defined aspirations, more often caprices than real convictions. Today not only are Anarchistic "aspirations formulated, but men know that it is Anarchy they are spreading, and boldly place the label on it.

The Anarchists are not, then, the only ones to find that things are bad, and to desire a change. These complaints, these aspirations, are expressed by the very persons who believe themselves defenders of the capitalistic order. Still more, men begin to feel that they ought not to confine themselves to sterile desires, but should work for the realization of what they demand. They begin to understand and proclaim action, propaganda by deed; that is to say, that having made the comparison between the pleasure which the satisfaction of acting as one thinks is bound to bring, and the annoyances which one must endure for the violation of a social law, they try, more and more, .to conform their life to their manner of conceiving things, according to the degree of resistance which the particular temperament may offer to the harassments of social prosecution.

That Anarchistic ideas have been able to develop with this energy and rapidity, is because, while running counter to accepted opinions and established prejudices, while frightening, at the first exposition, those to whom they were addressed, they were answers, on the other hand, to their secret sentiments, their undefined aspirations. They offered to humanity, in a concrete form, that ideal of well-being and liberty which it had scarcely dared to outline in its hopeful dreams. At first they frightened their opponents, because they preached hatred or contempt of a number of institutions believed to be necessary to the life of society; because they demonstrated, contrary to received ideas, that these institutions are bad in the very essence, and not because intrusted to the hands of weak or wicked individuals. They taught the people that not only must the latter not be con- [5] tented with changing the persons in power, with partially inpdi- fying the institutions which govern them, but that, before all,: the people must destroy that which makes men bad, which makes it possible for a minority to make use of social forces to oppress . the majority; ;they taught that what until now has been taken for the cause of the evils from which humanity suffers, is but the effect of a still more profound evil, that it is the very basis of society which must be attacked. Now, we have observed in the beginning that the basis of society is private property. Authority has but one excuse for existence: the defense of capital. Bureaucracy, the family, the army, the magistracy, flow directly from private property. The work of the Anarchists, then, has been to demonstrate the iniquity of the monopoly of the soil and of the fruits of the labor of past generations, by an idle minority; to sapvauthority by showing it to be detrimental to human development, by exposing it in its role of protector to the privileged, by proving the emptiness of the principles under cover of which it justifies its institutions.

That which contributed to alienate the ambitious and intriguing from Anarchistic teachings was just that which led the thinker to study them, to question himself as to their message, viz., that they offered no place to personal preoccupations or paltry ambitions, and could in no way serve as a stepping-stone to those who see, in the demands of the workers, nothing but a means of carving themselves a position among the exploiters. The butterflies of politics have nothing to do in the ranks of the Anarchists. Little or no chance for petty personal vanities, no procession of candidatures opening a career to all kinds of hopes, and all sorts of recantations. In the political and authoritarian Socialist parties an ambitious person can bring about his conversion" by insensible degrees; no one perceives that he has changed till long after the conversion is accomplished. Among the Anarchists this is impossible, because he who would consent to accept any office whatever in the present society, after having demonstrated that all those who are in office cannot remain there except on condition that they become defenders of the existing system, would at the same moment incur the epithet of rene- [6] -gade, for he could have no semblance of a reason to justify his ' 'evolution, Thus that which provoked the hatred of intriguers at the same time awakened the spirit of investigation in honest men; and this explains.the rapid progress of the Anarchistic idea.

What reply, indeed, can be made to those who prove to you that if you want a thing well done you must do it yourself, and delegate it to nobody? With what can you reproach those who make you see that if you wish to be free, you must commission no one to "direct" you? What answer is there to those who ' show you the causes of the ills from which you suffer, indicate the remedy to you, but do not make themselves the dispensers of it, —on the contrary, taking care to make people understand that the individual alone is able to comprehend his own needs, is the judge of what he should avoid?

Ideas strong enough to inspire men with a conviction which makes them fight and suffer for the propagation thereof, without expecting anything directly from those ideas, were, in the eyes of sincere men, worth being studied; and that is what has happened. Hence without heeding the clamors of some, the rancor of others, the attempts of governments, the idea grows and progresses without cessation, proving to the bourgeoisie that the truth can neither be suppressed nor silenced. Sooner or later it will be reckoned with.

Anarchy has its victims,—its dead, its imprisoned, its exiled; but it remains alive and strong, the number of its propagandists constantly increasing;—propagandists conscious of their acts, because they have understood all the beauty of the conception; accidental propagandists also, content with hurling their cries of hate against the institution which has clashed most with their secret sentiments and their instincts of justice and truth.

By its amplitude the Anarchistic idea shelters and draws to it all those who have the feeling of personal dignity, the thirst after the beautiful and true. Should not the ideal of man be released from all fetters, all constraint? Have not all the divers revolutions he has wrought, pursued this end? If he still submits to the authority of his exploiters, if the human mind still [7] struggles under the pressure of the vulgarities of capitalistic society, it is because accepted ideas, routine, prejudice, and ignorance, have been till now stronger than its dreams and desires for emanicipation, precipitating it, aftej it has driven away the reigning masters, into a fresh abandonment of them, at the very moment it expects to free itself. Anarchistic ideas have come to bring light into the minds not only of the workers, but also of thinkers of every category; helping them to analyze their own feelings, stripping bare the causes of misery and indicating the means of destroying them, showing to all the route to follow and the end to be attained, explaining why previous revolutions have been abortive. It is this close relation with the secret sentiments of individuals which explains their rapid extension, which gives them their strength and renders them irrepressible. Governmental fury, oppressive measures, the rage .of frustrated ambition, may set themselves against the ideas and their propagators; today the opening is made; they can no longer be prevented from making headway, from becoming the ideal of the disinherited, the motors of their attempts at emancipation.

Capitalistic society is so paltry, so narrow; large aspirations find themselves so cramped in it; it annihilates so many good intents, so many hopes, crushing and killing so many individualities that cannot stoop to its narrow views, that, could it succeed in stifling the voice of every living Anarchist, its oppressions would raise up new ones, equally implacable.


"Anarchy and Communism protest against being coupled together, declared certain dishonest adversaries, little anxious to throw light upon the question. Communism is an organization; an organization prevents the development of individuality;—we will have none of it!" "We are individualists, we are-Anarchists; nothing more!" exclaimed after them certain persons, sincere in the sense that they desired to appear more [8] advanced than all their comrades, and having no originality of their own. They entangled themselves in exaggerations, pushing the ideas to absurdity; and around them collected those whom the governing class has an interest in introducing among its adversaries, to divide or mislead them.

Now, behold those Anarchists launched into discussions of Anarchy, Communism, the initiative, organization; the harmful or useful influence of groups; egoism and altruism; in fine, a lot of things one more absurd than the other. For, after being thoroughly discussed by honest opponents, the end of it is that all want the same thing, though calling it by different names. As a matter of fact the Anarchists who demand Communism are the first to recognize that the individual has not been put into the world for society's sake; that, on the contrary, the latter has been formed solely for the purpose of furnishing the former greater facility for evolution. It is quite plain that when a certain number of persons group together and unite their forces, they have in view the obtaining of a greater sum of enjoyments with a less expenditure of energy. In nowise have they the intention of sacrificing their initiative, their will, their individuality, for the benefit of an entity which did not exist before their union, which will disappear with their dispersion. To economize their forces while continuing to wrest from nature the things necessary to their existence, and which they could not obtain but by the concentration of their efforts, was certainly the motive whiqh guided those human beings who first commenced to group themselves; or what, at least, must have been tacitly understood as such, if not completely reasoned out in their primitive associations, which associations might well be, even had to be, temporary and limited to the duration of the effort, falling apart when the result was once attained.

No Anarchist, therefore, thinks of subordinating the existence of the individual to the progress of society. Freedom of the people, complete freedom in all their modes of action, is all we ask. And if there be those who repudiate organization, who swear by the individual alone, who say that they despise the community, declaring that the egoism of the individual should [9] be his only rule of conduct, and that the adoration of his ego should come before and above all humanitarian considerations, —believing themselves to be therein more advanced than others — such people can never have studied the psychological and physiological nature of man, never have given themselves an account of their own feelings; they have no idea of what constitutes the real life of man, its physical, moral, and intellectual needs.

Our present society exhibits some of these perfect egoists: the Delobelles, the Hjalmar Eikdals, are not rare; they are found not only in romances. Without meeting any great number of them, it is sometimes given to us to run up against these types who think only of themselves, who see nothing in life but their own persons. If there is a tempting bit on the table they appropriate it without scruple. They live largely outside while their folks at home are dying of hunger. They accept the sacrifices of all who surround them,—father, mother, wife, children — as their due, while they shamelessly put on dignified airs and take their ease. The sufferings of others are not counted, provided that their own existence runs smoothly. Still worse, they do not even perceive that others suffer for them and through them. When they are fed and well-disposed, humanity is satisfied and refreshed! Behold the type of your perfect egoist in the absolute sense of the word! But we may also add it is the type of a very sorry individual. The most repugnant bourgeois does not even approach this type; he, at times, still has love for his own people, or at least something akin to it which takes its place. We do not believe that the sincere partisans of the most exaggerated individualism have ever had the intention of giving us this type as the ideal of future humanity; no more than the 'Communist-Anarchists have meant to preach abnegation and renunciation for the individual in the society which they anticipate. Disclaiming the entity "society," they equally disclaim that other entity, the "individual," which those who have carried-the theory to absurdity tend to create.

The individual has a right to his entire liberty, to the satisfaction of all his needs; that is understood. Only, as there exist [10] more than a billion of individuals on the earth, with equal rights if not with equal needs, it follows that all these rights must be :' - satisfied without encroaching on one another; otherwise there would be oppression, which would render the success of the revolution futile.

What tends greatly to befog our ideas is that this adulterate society which governs us, based upon the antagonism of interests, has made people prey upon one another, and forces them to tear each other to pieces in order to secure to themselves the possibility of living. In the existing society one must be either robber or robbed; there is no middle way. Today the one who helps a neighbor runs great risk of being duped; hence the belief, among those who do not reason, that men cannot live without fighting each other. The Anarchists, however, say that society should be based on the strictest solidarity. In that society which they wish to realize, it must not be that individual happiness, were it only in its very least important division, be attained at the expense of another individual. Personal well-being must flow from the general well-being; when an individual feels himself injured in his autonomy or in his belongings, all other individuals must feel the same injury in order that they may remedy it. ; So long as this ideal is not realized, so long as this goal is not reached, societies will be but arbitrary organizations, against which persons who feel themselves wronged will have the right to revolt. «

If men could live isolated, if they could return to the state of nature, there would be no discussion as .to how they should live: each would live as he pleased. The earth is big enough to accommodate everybody. But would the earth, if left to itself, furnish sufficient for all to live upon? This is less certain. It would probably mean ferocious war between individuals, the "struggle for existence" of the early ages, in all its fury. It would be the cycle of evolution already run through and recommencing,—the stronger oppressing the weaker until superseded by the cunning, until money-value should displace force-value., If we have had to traverse this period of blood, of misery and exploitation, which is called the history of humanity, it is [11] because man has been egoistic in the absolute sense of the word, without any corrective, without any mitigation. He has had. in view from the outset of all his associations, nothing but the satisfaction of his immediate desires. Whenever he has been able to enslave a weaker fellow he has done so without scruple, seeing only the amount of work to be got out of the victim, without reflecting that the necessity of surveillance, the revolts he will have to suppress, will end, in the long run, in compelling him to perform an equally onerous labor, and that it would be better to work side by side, lending each other mutual aid.

It is thus that authority and property have succeeded in establishing themselves. Now, if we wish to overturn them, it cannot be done by beginning our past evolution over again. /'If this theory that the motive of the individual should be egoism pure and simple,—the adoration and culture of the ego,—were admitted, one would necessarily declare that the individual should launch into the melee and work to gain the means of self-gratification without concerning himself as to whether he crushes others at his side.. To affirm this would be to confess that the coming revolution should be made Hy and for the strong, that the new society must be a perpetual conflict between individuals. If it were so we should have no reason to proclaim the idea of general enfranchisement. We should rebel against the existing society only because its capitalistic organization did not permit us likewise to possess.

It may be that among those calling themselves Anarchists there are some who regard the question from this standpoint. This would explain to us the defections and recantations of persons who, after having been most ardent, have deserted their principles to range themselves among the defenders of the existing society, because it offered them compensations. Certainly we do combat this society because it does not afford us satisfaction for all our aspirations; but we also comprehend that our own interests, rightly understood, would have this satisfaction of our needs extended to all the members of society. Man is always egoistic, he always tends to make of his ego the centre of the universe. But with the development of his intelligence [12] he comes to understand that if his ego wishes to be satisfied there are other egos that equally wish to be satisfied, (those that have not been have made it understood that they had a right to be) whence sentimentalists and mystics have come to preach renunciation, sacrifice, devotion to one's neighbor.

Social authority, while continuing to preach the oppression of the individual for the sake of the collectivity—this dogma has contributed to its maintenance even as much as force has— social authority has had to modify itself, to concede a larger share to individuality. For if narrow, badly understood egoism is opposed to the functioning of society, renunciation and the spirit of sacrifice are fatal to individuality. To sacrifice oneself for others, above all when they are indifferent to you, does not enter into every one's disposition. And besides it would, in the long run, be even prejudicial to humanity, for it would allow narrow minds, egoistic in the the bad sense of the word, to rule; that type of humanity farthest from perfect would come to absorb the others. Altruism, properly so-called, could not, therefore, take root either.

But though ^egoism or altruism, separately, each pushed to its extreme, is pernicious to the individual and society, united they are resolved into a third term, which is the law of future societies. This law is Solidarity.

Many of us will combine with the intention of realizing one of our aspirations. { This association having nothing forced in it, nothing arbitrary, prompted only by some need of our being, it is quite evident that the more pressing the need the more force and activity shall we contribute to the association. ) All having cooperated in production, we shall all have rights in comsumption; that is plain; but as the sum of needs will have been calculated (counting in those which must be foreseen) that the satisfaction of all may be attained, solidarity will have no trouble in securing to each his share. Is it not said that man's nature is to have his eyes bigger than his stomach? Now, the more intense his desire is the greater an amount of activity will he devote to its realization. Thus he will come to produce not only sufficient to satisfy the coparticipants, but also those in whom desire [13] would not have been awakened but for the sight of the thing produced. Man's needs being infinite, infinite will be his means of satisfying them, and it is this variety of needs which will concur in the establishment of general harmony.

In our present society, wherein we are accustomed to depend upon the toil of others to obtain the things necessary for existence, there is but one object: to procure money enough to enable one to buy what he wants. Now, as manual labor does not even enable one to keep himself from starving, he who has only this resource, seeks to obtain money by every means except work, becoming an official, journalist, or what-not, including blackmailer. He who has a start goes into commerce and increases his income by robbing his contemporaries; he gambles in stocks, he speculates, or makes others work for him. People engage in all sorts of occupations, more or less dishonorable, except the one thing necessary that all might have their share,—useful production. So that each one pulls the cover over himself without concerning himself about those whom he lays naked^ whence this unreasoned^ egoism which seems to have become the sole motive of human actions.

But as man grows refined, he comes also to live not only for himself and in himself. The type of the humane egoist, perfectly developed, is to suffer with the sufferings of those who surround him, to have his enjoyment spoiled by the reflection that others, owing to the vicious social organization in which we live, may suffer by it. Among the bourgeoisie there are persons whose sensitiveness is certainly highly developed; when the influences of environment, education, or heredity, leave them leisure to reflect upon social misery and turpitude; when they reckon up their existence, they try as much as possible to remedy misery with charity. Whence, philanthropic works! But the habit of believing society normally constituted, the habit of considering poverty eternal, the result of the laborer's misconduct, engenders an unfeeling character, inquisitorial in its philanthropy. Because for the man born, educated, brought up in the hothouses of wealth and luxury, it is very difficult, even impossible, save under exceptional circumstances, to come [14] to doubt the legitimacy of the situation he occupies. For the parvenu it is still more difficult, for he believes he owes his situation to his talent and his work. Religion, conceit, and the economists, have so reiterated that work is a punishment, -that poverty is the result of the improvidence of those who are a prey to it, that how can you expect him who has never had to struggle against adversity not to believe himself of a superior essence! From the day he begins to doubt it, sets himself to study the social organization, if he is sufficiently endowed to understand its viciousness, his pleasures will be poisoned at their fountain- head. This man will suffer when he says to himself that* his luxury necessitates the misery of a mass of workers, that every one of his possessions is purchased at the expense of the sufferings of those who are sacrificed to prodiice them. If this man's combativeness is developed equally with his sensitiveness he will make one more rebel against the social order which does not secure moral and intellectual satisfaction even to him. For it must not be forgotten that the social problem is not confined to a simple material question. We certainly do contend, and that before everything else, that all should have enough to eat. But our demands are not limited to this; we also contend that each should be able to develop himself according to his faculties, and to procure those intellectual gratifications which the needs of his brain create. True that for many Anarchists the question stops there; and that is what has brought about these divers interpretations and discussions of egoism, altruism, etc. Nothing more urgent than the stomach question! Only it would be dangerous to. the success of the revolution to stop there, for then one might just as well accept the Socialistic State, which could, and would, secure all in the satisfaction of their physical needs.

If the next revolution were to confine its objects to the sole problem of material life, it would greatly risk being arrested on the way, degenerating into a vast revel of gluttony, which, the orgy once over, would not be long in surrendering the insurgents to the blows of capitalistic reaction. Happily this problem, paramount today to the workingmen whose future is rendered uncertain by more and more prolonged periods of idleness, as {p|15}} we admit, is not the only one which will be solved in the next revolution. Without doubt the first work of the Anarchists towards making the revolution a success, will be to seize social wealth, to call upon the disinherited to take possession of stores, machinery, and the soil; to install themselves in healthy localities, destroying the rat-holes in which they are forced to remain today. The revolutionists should destroy all the old parchments which guarantee the functioning of property; the offices of bailiffs, notaries, register-of land surveys, register of deeds, the entire civil staff, should be visited and "cleaned out." But to do all this work something more than famishing people is needed, —individuals, conscious of their individuality, jealous of all their rights, determined to conquer them and capable of defending them once they are acquired. This is why a question of subsistence only would be powerless to effect such a transformation; and it is also why there rise up, together with the right to subsistence which the Anarchists demand, all these questions of art, science, and philosophy, which they are forced to study, to fathom, to elucidate, and which are the cause of Anarchistic ideas embracing every branch of human science. Everywhere have arguments in favor of these ideas been found, everywhere there have risen up adherents who furnished their quota of demands, and reenforced the principles with their special knowledge. The sum of human learning is so great that the most privileged brains can appropriate only a portion; likewise the conception of Anarchism though condensed by certain minds which outline its bases and trace its program, cannot be elucidated but by the collaboration of all, by the help of each one's knowledge. And this it is which gives it its strength, for it is the collaboration of all which enables it to sum up all human aspirations.


"You are too abstract!" This is an objection frequently raised against the Anarchists by many people. They say that [16] since we address ourselves to the workers we should make more fruitful propaganda if we should take up less elevated subjects. By the preceding chapters we have seen that it is the development of the ideas themselves which has drawn us into the treatment of questions not always within the scope of those whom we address; this is a fatality to which we submit and against which we can do nothing. To those who are just beginning to nibble at the social question our writings may often appear dry; this we do not deny. But can we alter the fact that the questions which we treat and which must be treated, are dry in themselves? Can we prevent the principles which we defend, linked together as they are, identified with every branch of human knowledge, from leading those who wish to elucidate them to study things they did not before deem necessary? And, moreover, has not all this preparatory work to which they would condemn us, been already performed by our predecessors, the Socialists? Do not the capitalistic classes themselves work for the demolition of their society? Are not all ambitious radicals, Socialists more or less deeply dyed, bent upon demonstrating to the workers that the present society can do nothing for them; that it must be changed?

The Anarchists therefore have only to analyze this enormous work, to coordinate it, to extract its essence. Their role is limited to proving that it is not by changing governors that the ills from which we suffer may be cured; that it is not by merely modifying the machinery of the social organism that we shall prevent it from producing those evil effects which the very bourgeois, desirous of getting into power, knows so well how. to show up. But our task is complicated precisely because the ideas which we advocate are abstract. If, indeed, we were willing to content ourselves with declamations and assertions, the task would be rendered easy, both for us and for our readers. The more difficult the problems to be solved the more need is- there to acquaint ourselves with arguments and logic. It is easy to say and write, "Comrades, the bosses rob us! The bourgeoisie are drunkards! Rulers are scoundrels! We must rebel, kill the capitalists, set fire to the factories!" Moreover, before any one [17] wrote it the exploited had sometimes killed their exploiters, the governed had revolted, the poor had rebelled against the rich; yet the situation was in nowise altered. They had changed rulers. In 1789 property changed hands; subsequently the people revolted, hoping thereby to force it to change hands again. Yet the governing continued to oppress the governed, the rich continued to live at the expense of the exploited; nothing was altered. Since it was written the people .have likewise revolted, and nothing is altered. Hence lit is not a question of saying or writing that the laborer is exploited; it is necessary to explain to him above all how in changing masters he does not cease to be exploited, and how, were he to put himself in his master's place, he would in turn become an exploiter, leaving behind him the exploited who would then make against him the same complaints he now makes against those he would like to have dispossessed. It is necessary to make him understand further how the capitalistic classes have interested him in the existing society, persuaded him to defend the privileges of his exploiters while he believes himself defending his own interests in an organization which, in fact, has nothing for him but promises never to be realized.

By its organization, based upon the antagonism of interests, our bourgeois society charges itself with the task of bringing the workers to a revolution. Now, the workers have always made revolutions, but have forever allowed the benefits thereof to be juggled away, because they "did not know." The role of the propagandist, then, is to teach the workers; and to teach them one must give demonstrations to them. Assertion makes believers, but not conscious ones. At the time when, even for the most advanced Socialists, authority was the basis of all organization, there was nothing wrong in having mere believers. On the contrary it facilitated the task of those who set themselves up as directors. One could go ahead with assertions; one was believed according to the degree of authority he had been clever enough to acquire; and as the directors did not exact of their proselytes a knowledge of why they were to act, but only to believe strongly enough to make them blindly obey re- [18] -ceived orders, they had no need of killing themselves to furnish arguments. Believing in providential men who were to think and act for them, the mass of proselytes did not need to learn much. Had not the leaders a plan of social organization already prepared in their heads, which they would hasten to execute once they were carried into power? To know how to fight and kill each other, that was all they asked the common herd to know and to do. The leaders once in power the dear people had nothing to do but wait; everything would come to them at the proper time without their troubling themselves about it.

But Anarchistic principles have come to overthrow all this. Denying the necessity of providential men, making war upon authority, and claiming for each individual the right and the duty to act under the pressure of his own impulses only, of submitting to no constraint or restriction of his autonomy; proclaiming individual initiative as the basis of all progress and of every truly libertarian association, Anarchism cannot content itself with making believers; it must, above all, aim to convince, that its converts may know why they beljeve, that the arguments with which they have been furnished ma}- have struck home, that they may have weighed, discussed and considered the value of these for themselves. Hence a propaganda more difficult, more arduous, more abstract, but also more effective.

From the moment the individual relies solely on his own initiative, he must be enabled to exercise it effectively. That such initiative may adapt itself freely to the action of other individuals, it must be conscious, reasoned, based upon the logic of the natural order of facts. That all these separate acts may converge to a common end, they must be animated by a common idea, well understood and clearly elaborated; whence it follows that nothing but a close, logical, and thoroughly denned discussion of the principles can open the minds of those who adopt them, and lead such to reflect for themselves. Hence our method of procedure, which, instead of causing us to get a lot of rhetorical fireworks out of any idea we take up, leads us to turn it over in all its aspects, to dissect it, even to its final [19] atoms, in order to extract from it the greatest possible amount of argument.

Ah, it is no small thing to overthrow a society as we talk of doing, above all when it is desired that this social upheaval shall be universal as we wish it to be! It is clear that the people who compose this society, however cruel it may be to them, are not going to see the necessity of its overthrow as we do, all in a moment, having been accustomed to look upon it as the palladium of their safety and the means of their well-being. They know very well that this society does not furnish them what it has promised, but they cannot understand the necessity for its total destruction. Has not every one his little reform to propose, which is to grease the wheels and make the machine run to the satisfaction of all? They want, therefore, to know whether this upheaval will be profitable or prejudicial to them, whence arise a mass of questions leading to the discussion of every branch of human knowledge, in order to know whether they will survive in the cataclysm we would provoke. And hence the perplexity of the worker who sees unfolding before him a multitude of questions which they took good care not to teach him at school, discussions which it is very hard for him to follow, subjects which for the most part he hears treated of for the first time;—questions, however, which he must study to the bottom and solve if he desires to be able to profit by this autonomy which he demands, if he does not want to use his initiative to his own detriment, and, more than all, if he wishes to get on without providential men.

When a question, however abstract it may be, presents itself to the investigations of the Anarchist propagandist, he cannot make it otherwise than abstract; nor can he pass it by in silence, under the pretext that those to whom he speaks have never heard of it. To explain it in plain, clear, precise, and concise language; to avoid "thousand-legged words," as one of our comrades puts it,—that is words which are understood only by the initiated;—to avoid burying one's thought in high-flown and redundant phraseology, or seeking after phrases and effects,— this is all that can be done by those who have it at heart to prop- [20] -agate the principles, to spread them and make them understood among the masses; but we cannot mutilate them with the excuse that they are not accessible to the people. If it were necessary to evade every question which the majority of readers are not able to understand upon first enunciation, we should be condemned to return to declamation, to the art of stringing out meaningless phrases one after the other, and saying nothing. This role is too well played by the bourgeois rhetoricians for us to attempt to supersede them in it. If the workers want to emancipate themselves they must understand that this emancipation will not come of itself; that they must obtain it; andrtnat self-education is one of the forms of the social struggle^ i The possibility and the continuance of their exploitation by the capitalistic class proceed from their ignorance. They must know how to free themselves intellectually if they wish to be able to free themselves materially. If they already recoil before the difficulties of mental emancipation, which depends solely upon their own willingness, what then will it be before the difficulties of a more active struggle in which it will be necessary to expend an altogether incommensurate force of character and amount of will! Useless and injurious as it is, the bourgeoisie has nevertheless succeeded in concentrating in the brains of a few all the scientific knowledge necessary to the present development of humanity. If we do not want the revolution to be a step backward, the worker must be able intellectually to replace the bourgeoisie which he wishes to overthrow; his ignorance must not be an obstacle to the development of sciences already acquired. If he does not know them thoroughly he must be able to comprehend them when he finds himself in their presence.

To be sure we quite understand all this impatience; we can imagine that those who are hungry would like to see the dawning of the day when they will be able to appease their hunger; we are perfectly aware that those who submit to the yoke of authority only by suppressing their anger, are impatient to shake it off, desirous of listening to words in conformity with their condition of mind, reminding them of their hatreds, their desires, their aspirations, their thirst for justice. But however [21] great this impatience, however legitimate the demands and the need of realizing them, the idea advances only by degrees, penetrates the mind and lodges there only when matured and elaborated. When we consider that the bourgeoisie which we wish to overthrow took centuries of preparation before it overturned the royalty, it should cause us to reflect upon the work of elaboration which we have to do. In the fourteenth century, when Etienne Marcel attempted to seize the power for the benefit of the bourgeoisie, already organized in corporations, the bourgeois class already felt itself to be strong; for a long time it had been aspiring to authority and had organized itself for that purpose, had educated and developed itself, had worked for its enfranchisement by endeavoring to obtain from the baronage the freedom of the communes. It was not, however, till four centuries later that i,t succeeded in winning the long coveted boon.

Assuredly we hope not to have to wait so long for our enfranchisement and the overthrow of capitalistic exploitation. Its complete collapse at the end of so short a period of power is hurrying it on to a speedy fall, ^et if the bourgeoisie was able in 1789 to substitute itself for divine right," it was because it had prepared itself intellectually for such substitution; and the more rapid the downfall the more haste should we workers make to prepare ourselves intellectually-, not to replace the power which we must destroy but to organize ourselves so as to prevent any aristocracy's substituting itself for that which has given way^ \The idea of free individual 'initiative once being established, people should be enabled (we cannot repeat it too often) to learn how to reason and to combine their initiative. If they have not the will to deliver themselves from their own ignorance, how will they be able to make others understand when they themselves have not been able to learn? Let us have no fear, then, of discussing the most abstract questions; each solution obtained is a step forward on the pathway of emancipation. Leaders being discarded, the knowledge hitherto in their possession must be diffused among the masses; and there is but one means of bringing it within their reach, which is, that, while continuing to go forward we persuade them to interest them {{p|22} selves in questions which interest us.) Once more: Let us make ourselves as clear as possible; but let us not mutilate ourselves, for then, instead of bringing the masses to us we should be brought to them; instead of going forward we should go backward,—truly a queer way of understanding progress.


It is upon the contention that "man is too evil to know how to govern himself," that authoritarians base their justification of the power they wish to establish. "Power is necessary to reform mankind is the reply to the Anarchists when they speak of establishing a society based upon solidarity, entire equality, and absolute autonomy for the individual, without authority, rule, or constraint. "Man is evil." Undoubtedly! But may he become better, and may he become worse? Is any change in his present condition possible, either for good or ill? Can he be improved or deteriorated physiologically and morally? And if evolution in one sense or another be possible (as history proves that it is) does the heritage of ancient laws, the harness of old institutions, tend to make men better, or do they help to make him worse? The answer to this question will tell us which of the two, modern man or the social state, must be reformed first.

Nowadays no one denies that the physical environment has an enormous influence upon the physiological constitution of man; now, with still greater reason the intellectual and moral environment must influence his psychological constitution.

Upon what is our present society based? Does it tend to create harmony among men? Is it so managed that the adversity of one shall be felt by others, in order that all may be led to diminish or prevent it? Does personal well-being flow from general well-being, and is no one interested in disturbing the operation thereof? This society of kings, priests, merchants, and employers—does it permit all generous ideas to come forth, or does it not rather tend to stifle them? Has it not at its com- [23] -mand, for the purpose of crushing the weak, this brute force—. money—which puts the most generous and least egoistic at the mercy of the most greedy and least scrupulous?

To study the mechanism of capitalistic society is sufficient to discover that it can produce nothing good. Aspirations towards the good and the beautiful must be perennial in the human race, not to have been choked by the rapacity and narrow, unreasoning egoism which official society has inculcated in it from the cradle. This society, as we have observed in the preceding chapter, is based upon the antagonism of interests, and makes every individual the enemy of his neighbor. The seller's interest is opposed to.the buyer's; 'the stock-raiser and the agriculturist ask for nothing better than a good epidemic and a good hailstorm among their neighbors, in order to raise the price of their commodities, when they do not have recourse to the State -which protects them, while seizing, by virtue of superior right," the products of their competitors; the development of mechanical appliances tends to greater and greater division of the workers, throwing them out of employment and leading them to disputes among themselves for the chance to take each other's jobs, and the number of these is increasing laregely beyond the demand.. In fine,;everything in our traditional "society" tends to split up mankind.

Why is there idleness and misery at the present moment? Because the stores are glutted with products. How is it that it has not yet occurred to anybody to set them on fire or take possession of them, and thus procure that employment which is refused, by creating among the workers themselves the markets which their exploiters go so far to seek?—"Because we are afraid of the soldiers and militia," does some one say? This fear is real, but it does not of itself suffice to explain the apathy of the starving. How many occasions present themselves in the course of one's life to do wrong without the slightest risk, and yet one does not commit it for other reasons than for fear of the soldiery. And besides, the starving, if they should all unite, are numerous enough, in Paris, for'instance, not to be afraid of the troops, to hold the police-force in check for a whole day, [24] empty the stores, and have a good feast for once. In the case of those who go to prison for tramping and begging, is it in reality the fear of prison which makes them beg for that which it would cost them no more to take? It is because in addition to cowardice there is a sentiment 'of sociability which prevents people from returning evil for evil, and makes them submit to the heaviest shackles in the belief that these are necessary to the functioning of society. Does any one believe that force alone would suffice to insure respect for property, were it not mingled in the people's minds with a character of legitimacy which makes them accept it as the result of individual labor? Have the severest penalties ever prevented those who, without troubling themselves whether it were legitimate or not, have wished to live at the expense of others, from carrying out their intents? What would it be, then, if people, studying over their misery and discovering its cause in property, were of a nature so given to evil as is popularly alleged? Society would not endure another moment; there would then be "the struggle for existence " in its most ferocious expression, a return to pure barbarism. It is precisely because man has tended towards what is better, that he has allowed himself to be ruled, enslaved, deceived, exploited, and still repudiates violent measures to effect his final enfranchisement.

This declaration that man is born to evil, and that there is no change to hope for, means, when analyzed: "Man is bad; society is therefore bad, and there is nothing to hope for, either from one or the other. What is the use of losing one's time in seeking for a perfection which humanity cannot attain? Let us look out for ourselves as best we can. If the sum of gratifications we obtain is made up of the tears and blood of the victims we have sown along our route, what does it matter to us? One must crush others to escape being crushed himself. So much the worse for those who fall."—Well, let the privileged ones, who have thus far managed to bolster up their sway, to send the workers to sleep, to transform them into defenders of their masters' privileges, first by promising them a better life in the other world, then, when they ceased to believe in God, by preaching [25] to them morality, patriotism, social utility, etc., and today by making them hope to gain, through universal suffrage, a multitude of reforms and improvements impossible to effect, (for the ills which flow, from the very essence of the social organization cannot be prevented so long as we attack the effects only, without finding the caiise, so long as society itself be not transformed) —let the exploiters of the poor, then, proclaim the unadulterated right of force, and we shall see how long their sway will last! Force will balance force.

When man first began to group together with his fellows, he must still have been much more of an animal than a human being; ideas of morality and justice did not exist in him. Having had to struggle against other animals, against all nature, his first groups were formed out of the necessity for an association of forces, not by the desire for solidarity. No doubt these associations were, as we have already said, temporary at the start, limited to the capture of the game to be hunted or the overthrow of the obstacle to be conquered, later to the repulse or killing of an assailant. It was only by thus practicing association that men were brought to understand its importance; and the societies thus formed continued to live and became permanent. But on the other hand this life of continual struggle could not help developing the sanguinary and despotic instinct in people. The weaker had to submit to the rule of the stronger when they did not serve the latter as fpod. It could not have been till much later that cunning gained a precedence equal to that of force.

When we study man in his earliest appearance it must be admitted that he was then a wicked enough animal indeed; but since he has reached his present development and formed conceptions of which he was formerly incapable, what reason is there why he should stop and go no further? To attempt to deny that man may still progress is to be as much in error as if one had affirmed, at the time he dwelt in caves and had nothing but a club or a stone weapon as a means of defense, that he would not one day become capable of building the opulent cities of today, of utilizing electricity and steam. Why shall man, who has reached the point of guiding the selection of domestic [26] animals in the direction of his needs, not reach the point of guiding his own tastes in the direction of the good and beautiful of which he begins to have conceptions? Little by little man has evolved and does evolve every day. His ideas are constantly modified. Physical force, though sometimes thrusting itself upon him, is no longer admired in the same degree. Ideas of morality, of justice, of solidarity have developed; they have so much weight that the privileged, to succeed in maintaining their privileges, are obliged to make people believe themselves exploited and gagged in their own interest. This deception cannot last. People begin to feel themselves too cramped in this illy-balanced society. Aspirations which began to come to light centuries ago, at first isolated and incomplete, today begin to assume definite shape; they are found even among those who may be classed among the privileged of the present organization. There is not a single person who has not at times uttered his cry of revolt or indignation against this society, still governed by the dead, which seems to have undertaken the task of crushing all our sentiments, acts, aspirations, and from which we suffer the more in proportion to our development. Ideas of liberty and justice are becoming more defined; those who proclaim them are still in the minority, but a minority strong enough to make the possessing classes uneasy and afraid.

Man, then, like all other animals, is but the product of an evolution worked out under the influence of the environment in which he lives and the conditions of existence he is forced to submit to or combat; only, more than other animals, or at least in a higher degree, has he come to reason upon his origin, to formulate aspirations for his future. It depends upon him to conjure this fatality of "evil" alleged to be attached to his existence. T3y succeeding in creating for himself other conditions of life he will succeed in modifying himself also. For the rest, without going further the question may be summarized thus: "Has every individual, good or bad, the right to live as he likes, to revolt if exploited, or if others seek to bind him to conditions of existence repugnant to him?" The pets of fortune and those who are in power claim to be better than others; but it would [27] suffice that "the bad" should overthrow them and establish themselves in their place, thus inverting the roles, to have equal reason with the first for being "good." The system of private property, by putting all our social wealth in the hands of a few, has permitted these to live as parasites at the expense of the mass whom they have enslaved, and whose product only serves to keep up their show and idleness, or to defend their interests. This condition, recognized as unjust by those who submit to it, cannot last. The workers will demand free possession of what they produce, and will revolt if the denial of the request continues. Vainly does capitalism seek to intrench itself behind the' argument that "man is evil;" the revolution will come. Then it will appear either that man is indeed incapable of perfectibility, (we have just seen the contrary^) in which case there would be a war of appetites, and whatever theirs might be the capitalistic classes would be doomed in advance, since they are the minority,—or that man is evil because institutions help to make him such; in which case he' may elevate himself to a social state which will contribute to his moral, intellectual, and physical development, and manage to transform society in such a way as will effect the solidarity of all its interests. But however it be, the revolution zcill come! The sphynx interrogates us and we answer without fear, for we Anarchists, destroyers of laws and property, we know the key to the enigma.


Before proceeding with the exposition of our ideas it will be well to review the institutions which we wish to destroy, to discover upon what bases capitalistic society rests, the positive value of these bases, and why and how society is transformable only on condition that the entire organization be changed; why no improvement will be possible so long as this transformation is not wrought. From this study the reasons why we are Anarchists and revolutionists will naturally follow. [28]

Protection to private property and hereditary transmission of the same in families,—this is the principle upon which existing society rests. Authority, the family, the magistracy, the army, and every hierarchic and bureaucratic organization, which stifles and devours us, proceed from this principle. There is religion also, but we leave it aside, since science, bourgeois though it be, has filled that.

We do not propose to give the history of property. That has been done, again and again, by Socialists of all schools; all have shown that it is nothing else than the result of robbery, fraud, and the right of force. Here, therefore, we have only to .notice certain facts which demonstrate its iniquity and exhibit the evils which flow from it; which prove that proposed reforms are but snares to deceive th£ exploited, and that, to prevent the evils we wish to cure, we must attack their principal source, the present proprietary and capitalistic organization.

Science shows us today that the earth owes its origin to a nucleus of cosmic matter, primevally detached from the solar nebula. This nucleus, by the effect of its rotation upon its axis and around the central star, became condensed to such a degree that the compression of the gases led to their conflagration; and this globe, son of the sun, like that which had given it birth, must then have shone with its own light in the Milky Way like a very small star. The globe cooled, having passed from the gaseous to the liquid state, then to a slimy condition, then, becoming more and more dense, to complete solidification. But in this primitive furnace the association of different gases was effected in such a fashion that their various combinations had given birth to those fundamental materials which form the composition of the earth: minerals, metals, free gases suspended in the atmosphere. The operation of cooling progressing by degrees, the action of air and water upon the minerals helped to form a coating of vegetable earth. During this time the association of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen, begot in the depths of the waters, a species of organic jelly, without definite form, without organs, without consciousness, but already endowed with the faculty of changing place by pushing out pro- [29] -longations of its substance on the side towards which it wished to go, or rather on the side upon which some attraction made itself felt; endowed, too, with this additional faculty of assimilating foreign bodies taken into its substance and thereby nourishing itself. Finally, endowed with one last faculty: having reached a certain degree of development, the power of dividing itself in two and giving birth to a new organism, in every respect similar to its progenitor.

Behold the modest beginnings of humanity! So modest that it is only very much later, after a long series of evolutions, after the formation of a certain number of types in the chain of beings, that we come to distinguish the animal from the vegetable. To trace the whole series up to man would be to rewrite here the history of evolution, which modern science explains in a manner so clear and comprehensible to those who are willing to judge without prejudice, that we can only refer the reader to it, contenting ourselves with instancing merely the principal facts in support of our demonstration concerning the arbitrary monopolization of a part of the soil by a certain set of individuals, who take possession of it for their own profit and that of their descendants, to the injury of others less favored and of future generations. It is perfectly plain that this explanation of the appearance of man upon the earth destroys all the marvelous story of his creation. No more God, nor creative entity! Man is but the product of an evolution of terrestrial life which is itself but the product of a combination of gases which gases have in turn undergone an evolution before attaining the power of combining in the density and proportions necessary to the development of vital phenomena.

The theory of the supernatural origin of man being set aside, the idea that society, such as exists, with its divisions of rich and poor, governed and governing, proceeds from a divine will, no longer holds good. Authority, so long propped up by its "supernatural origin,"—a fable which has contributed at Ico as much as brute force to maintain it—was in its turn exhaustec under the discussion and menaced with ruin; today it entrenches itself behind universal suffrage and majority rule. But authority [30] could maintain itself intact only so long as it was not discussed. We shall see further that it no longer has any means to support itself save force. Hence we may say that property and authority, being placed under discussion, are on the highroad to extinction, for what is discussed is scarcely revered any longer; that which force alone sustains force can destroy.

The vegetable sustains itself at the expense of the mineral and the atmosphere, the animal at the expense of the vegetable and, later, at the expense of the animal itself. But there are no preconceived ideas in this, having in view the establishment of any hierarchy among beings, on the part of a creator, or of a nature-entity, who should have created the vegetable to serve as food for the animal, the animal and vegetable to feed man or to be slaves to the human race in order to create the happiness of the elect. There is only an evolving sequence of natural laws, which so resulted that the condensation of gases having formed minerals, there was nothing but vegetable life which could assimilate the mineral and transform it into an organic combination capable of hastening the birth of animal life.

The evolutional origin of man being admitted it becomes evident to all that, when the first thinking beings appeared upon the earth, there could no longer be any need of a tutelary providence to facilitate their development, and consequently nobody to assign to some a directing power over their fellows, to others property in the soil, and to the great mass misery and privation, respect for their masters, with the sole function of producing for the benefit of the latter. However the struggle for existence having begun as the sole law for individuals, to eat in order not to be eaten was their sole preoccupation. But when they commenced unconsciously to practice this other and higher vital law, assistance in struggle, heredity having developed in them the instincts of combativeness, of oppression towards the victim, (everything being a prey to man, even man himself) it follows according to all the evidence that this spirit of struggle and domination, stored up in the brain by past generations, sought to gain like precedence in the organized collectivity. Those persons who possessed it in the highest degree imposed their will [31] upon those who possessed it in a lesser degree. This authority, being established, followed the fluctuations of human intelligence, and transformations of the social organization were effected accordingly as force, the religious spirit, or commercialism, were triumphant. Authority under its divers modes of operation, therefore, has maintained itself up to the present time, and will maintain itself until man, freed from error and prejudice, reconquers himself entirely, renouncing the imposition of his will upon others in order not to have to submit to the will of those stronger than himself.

But the divine origin of authority and property being denied by bourgeois science itself, the bourgeoisie have sought to give them solid and natural bases. The economists have taken social facts resulting from a bad organization, and setting them up as natural laws, making them the cause of what exists while they are but the effects, decorating these absurdities with the name of science, they have pretended to legitimize the most monstrous social crimes, the most heinous piracies of capitalism, blaming the causes of poverty upon the poor themselves, setting up the most monstrous egoism as a law of social conservation, when, on the contrary, as we have seen in one of the preceding chapters, egoism is but a cause of conflict, of loss of energy, and retrogression, if it be not tempered and softened by this other more evolved and humane law of solidarity.

Bourgeois society being founded upon capital, and this being represented by money, the economists, in order to mask the peculiar role it plays in the work of production and exchange, have reduced everything to capital. The man who impregnates his wife and begets children, expends capital; but he creates some also, for the child, become a man, will be—capital! The muscular power which the workman spends in production—capital ! (Observe, by the way, that besides their arms the workmen, in the performance of no matter what sort of work, bring to bear an amount of intelligence often superior to that of the contractor; but as it would then be necessary to count two portions of capital for the workman, and as that would embarrass the economists in their calculations, they pass this over in [32] silence). Yet as all this reduction of human activity to capital does not explain the origin of money-capital, the economists have discovered that "money-capital is that portion of labor which industrious and provident persons have not immediately consumed and have held in reserve for future needs." Right here the calculation becomes interesting. All capital put into use, the economists dogmatically affirm:—

1. It ought to produce a sum equal to its own value, that it may reconstituteitself completely;

2. As this employed capital runs risks, it should produce a surplus value, which represents an insurance-premium to cover the said risks.

Now, the workman, who is paid right along for his labor and consequently runs no risks, has a right to the first claim only, permitting him to replace his capital expended; that is to say, to feed, clothe, and lodge himself and finally to repair the strength which he has depleted. He should not produce more children than the excess of his wages permits him to bring up.

But the employer—Oh! it is a different affair with him! In the first place he invests an original capital, the money necessary to pay the workmen, settle for purchases, etc., which represents the pleasures of which he has deprived himself. This capital, like that of the workman, ought to bring in sufficient to replace itself, but in addition the insurance premium for the risks it runs, which constitutes the profit of the exploiter. Secondly, if it be an industrial enterprise, there are buildings and machines for the employees,—still more capital to be reproduced and to bring in its insurance premium. But this is not all. The exploiter's intelligence is capital, too, and none of the least. A capitalist must know how to make judicious employment of his capital, how to manage his business and himself; he must inquire as to what products it is advantageous to produce, where they are in demand, etc. This third capital must be restored out of the enterprise. Observe that if the investor be an engineer, a scholar, or a doctor, the premium must be much greater, because, costing more dearly to establish, they consequently cost much more dearly to repair. [33] a myth, and, instead of hoping to get out of his misery, the worker must expect, if capitalistic society endures much longer, to sink still deeper in it.

Now, let us suppose that the well-situated workman, instead of continuing to invest his savings in values of any kind, sets himself up in business on his own account after he has gathered together a certain amount. This is becoming more and more impossible, thanks to machinery, which requires the concentration of enormous capital and leaves no room for the isolated workman; but we will assume its possibility and suppose that this workman-employer works alone. If the postulate of political economy be true, that every faculty of man is employed capital, and that it produces a fortune for him who puts it into use, here is an individual who invests money-capital, force-capital, and intelligence-capital; having to divide with nobody it will not be long till he sees his money-capital increase ten-fold in his hands, and becomes in his turn a millionaire.

In practice the workman who works alone on his own account is rarely to be found. The small employer, with two or three workmen, lives perhaps a little better than those he employs, but he must work as hard, if not harder, constantly pressed as he is to meet his obligations; he can expect no improvement, happy if he manage to maintain himself in his comparative comfort and escape failure. Big profits, big fortunes, life driven four-in-hand, are reserved to the big proprietors, big share-holders, big manufacturers, big speculators, who do not work themselves but employ workmen by hundreds; which proves that capital is indeed accumulated labor, but the labor of others accumulated in the hands of one person—a robber! For the rest the best proof that there is something fundamentally vicious in the social organization, is that machinery, a development begotten by all our acquired knowledge transmitted from generation to generation, and which consequently ought to benefit every human being, rendering all lives broader and easier by the fact that it increases their power of production and furnishes them the means of producing much more while working fewer hours,—machinery has brought nothing but an increase [35] of misery and privation to the workers. The capitalists are the only ones to benefit by the advantages of mechanical inventions, which enable them to reduce the number of their employees, and with the help of the antagonism thus established, competition between the unemployed and the employed, they profit by lowering the wages of the latter, poverty forcing the former to accept the price offered, even though it be less than the amount N necessary to their maintenance and restoration of energy; which proves that the pretended natural laws are violated by their own operation, and that consequently if they be laws they are far from being natural. ,.

On the other hand it is certain that the capitalists, with all their capital, all their machinery, could produce nothing without the co-operation of the workers, whilst the latter, by coming to an understanding among themselves and uniting their forces, could produce very well without the assistance of capital. But setting that aside the conclusion we want to draw is this:—From the moment it is admitted that the capitalists cannot put their capital into use without the co-operation of the worker, the latter becomes the most important factor in production, and in all logic ought to receive the greater share of the product. Now, how comes it that it is the capitalists, on the contrary, who absorb the greater share of the product? The less they produce the more they get! And the more the workers produce the more they increase their chances of idleness, and have consequently less chances to consume! How comes it that the more the stores are crammed with products the more the producers die of hunger, and what ought to be a source of general wealth and enjoyment becomes a source of misery for those who labor?

From all this it follows clearly that private property is accessible only to those who exploit their fellows. The history of humanity shows that this form of property was not that of the first human associations; that it was only at a much later period of their evolution, when the family commenced to emerge from promiscuity, that private property begins to be seen in property common to the clan or tribe. This would prove nothing against its legitimacy if such appropriation had operated otherwise than [36] arbitrarily; we speak of it merely to prove to the bourgeoisie, who have tried to make an argument in its favor by claiming that property has always been what it now is, that that argument no longer has any value in our eyes. For the rest, did those who declaim so much against the Anarchists for demanding expropriation by force distress themselves very much about expropriating the nobility in 1789, and frustrating the peasantry who had made themselves useful by hanging country squires, destroying charter-houses, and seizing seignorial wealth? Did not the confiscations and sales, either fictitious or at absurd prices, which were made, have for their object the spoliation of the former possessors and the peasants who hoped for a share, in order that the bourgeoisie might monopolize the spoil to their own profit? Did they not make use of the out-and-out right of force, which they masked and sanctioned by legal comedies? Was not this spoliation iniquitous, (admitting that which we demand to be so, which it is not) seeing that it was not done for the benefit of the collectivity, but helped solely to enrich certain traffickers, who straightway hastened to make war upon the peasants that had thrown themselves into the assault upon the castles, by shooting them or treating them as brigands? The bourgeoisie, then, are badly out of place in crying out against robbery when we want to force them to make restitution, for their property is itself but the fruit of robbery.


Property, the family, authority, have developed along parallel lines; of this there is no doubt. Granting that men united their efforts under the pressure of a common need, of some obstacle to be overcome against which individual efforts had exhausted themselves in vain, it follows that the benefits resulting from this co-operation of forces were shared in common. These associations being temporary, confined to the immediate result to be obtained, there is likewise no doubt that the first [37] human association must have been, as it still is among certain mammiferous animals,—some of the anthropoid apes—the nucleus of the family; that is to say, a group of one or a number of females and their young around the strongest male, who, in order to preserve his authority, expelled from the horde all the young males that had become old enough to give him umbrage. But as to whether this authority of the male was complete and assumed sway over every group from the start, it would be rash to decide; for though we find, among savages, examples in which the association having increased in numbers, by the grouping together of several family centers the authority of the male is preponderant, yet by a number of very convincing examples, by a number of customs such as that of couvade it would seem that the mother-right of primogeniture was the first recognized.<ref>We shall not cite the facts in question here, having no intention of making a resume of them and more particularly desiring to explain how we understand the family of the future. Those readers who wish to study the question more deeply may refer to the works of Letourneau: "Sociology" and "Evolution of the Family;" and to that of Elie Reclus: " Primitive Folk," in which they will also find references to the sources from which these authors have drawn.</ref> Certain peoples exist in which the children belong to the tribe of the mother; others in which the authority of the male is already recognized, but in which his sister's children inherit his possessions to the exclusion of his own. This would go to establish a transition from maternal to paternal authority. Another transitional characteristic is this custom of couvade, by which, when the woman is in confinement, it is the man who goes to bed, swallows drugs, and receives congratulations upon his delivery. In this one feels that the man, in order to affirm his authority over his progeny, needs facts to prove his paternity. He would not need them if it were not contested by anterior customs, which have perhaps disappeared, but the memory of which is perpetuated by the practice of retroactive customs that the former gave rise to.

As to the union of men and women, how many times has its form not been changed? At the outset, the very beginnings of humanity, there is no form of marriage; the most complete [38] promiscuity reigns between the sexes; the male cohabits with the first female that comes in his way, who on the other hand accepts or submits to the caresses of all the males that take her. As men develop and become a little less brutal, though a great amount of promiscuity still reigns, they commence to distinguish a primitive sort of relationship. They have not yet learned to distinguish the terms father, mother, brother, sister, very definitely, but unions between tribes having £he same totem, or the same common origin, are forbidden; the women, however, continue to belong to all the men, and the latter to all the women, of the tribe. Later on, the male having been acknowledged, the latter begins to recognize certain degrees of consanguinity and affiliation; but marriages continue to take place between brothers and sisters, the son inherits any member of his father's harem without scruple. A still further step in evolution must be taken before the mother of the heir ceases to be included in the inheritance.

Observe also that if there be peoples among whom a single male may possess several females, on the other hand there exist some among whom the females possess several males. But these progressive steps, these changes of custom, do not follow logically, one after the other, mutually eliminating each other, as a more complex one appears. Rather these customs are founded one upon the other, fused and confused in such a manner that they can no longer be recognized. Their combinations are so multiplied, customs are so superimposed upon each other, eliminating one here, another there, that it is only by studying the observations of former travelers and still existing tribes that we are enabled to form an approximate idea of human evolution.

From all this, then, it follows that property has rested upon other bases than those upon which it is today supported, has had another method of division, and owes its present destiny only to force, cunning and robbery; for it is quite clear that the family having begun in common association, individual property could not then exist, and, consequently, that what originally belonged to all could not become the property of individuals without some [39] sort of spoliation. In like.manner the family has been quite different from what it now is. And the bourgeoisie, which claims that these two institutions rest upon unassailable and immovable bases do not know what they are talking about, since there is no reason why that which has evolved at all should not evolve further. Their affirmation would prove only one thing, which is that if these two institutions were not to progress any more, they must be very near their decadence. For it is a law of life that that which no longer advances, perishes and disintegrates, in order to give birth to other organisms having a period of evolution to run through. And the truth of this axiom is so apparent that the bourgeoisie have been forced to recognize it by admitting divorce as a corrective to marriage, which they would have preferred to maintain indissoluble. True, divorce is applicable only in special cases, can be obtained only by means of a lawsuit, of proceedings without number, and requires the expenditure of a great deal of money; but it is none the less an argument against the stability of the family, since, after having so long repudiated it, they have at length recognized it as necessary, and since it has so powerfully shaken the family by breaking up marriage, which sanctions the family. What more candid confession in favor of free unions could be asked? Does it not become plainly evident that it is useless to seal with a ceremony what another ceremony may unseal? Why have an old woman in pants with a belt around his waist to consecrate a union which three other old women in gowns and caps can declare null and void?

^ The Anarchists, therefore, reject the institution of marriage. They say that two beings who love each other have no need of the permission of a third in order to go to bed together. From the moment that their wishes so incline them, society has no reason to spy upon them and still less to intervene in the matter. Further the Anarchists say this: " By the mere fact that they have given themselves to each other, the union of a man and a woman is not therefore indissoluble; they are not condemned to finish their days together if they become antipathetic to each other. What they have made of their own free will they can [40] unmake of their own free will. Under the empire of passion, the pressure of desire, they saw each other's good qualities only; they shut their eyes to each other's defects; they became united; and behold, their life in common effaces the good qualities, brings out the defects, sharpens the angles which they cannot round off. Is it necessary that these two beings, because in a moment of passionate effervescence they deceived themselves with illusions, should pay a whole lifetime of suffering for the error of a moment, which made them take for a profound and eternal passion what was but the result of an over-excitation of the senses? Nonsense! It is time to return to more healthy notions!"

Has not the love of man and woman always been stronger than all laws, all prudery, all the reprobation, which men have sought to attach to the performance of the sexual act? In spite of the blame cast upon the woman who deceives her husband— we do not here speak of the man, who has always known how to take the biggest half in matters of morals,—in spite of the role of Pariah which our modest society reserves for the unmarried mother, has it ever, for a single moment, prevented women, from making cuckolds of their husbands, or girls from giving themselves to whoever pleases them, or knows how to profit by a moment when the senses speak louder than reason? History and literature talk of nothing else than men and women cuckolded and girls seduced! The creative impulse is the prime motor of man; we hide it, but we yield to its pressure. For the few passionate souls who, weak and timorous, commit suicide together with the beloved being, (sometimes not daring to break with prejudices or not having the moral force to struggle against the obstacles put in their way by custom and the idiocy of imbecile parents), there are countless numbers who mock at prejudices—in secret. All these prejudices have only helped to make us frauds and hypocrites; that is all.

Why be stubborn in seeking to regulate what has escaped long centuries of oppression? Rather let us recognize, once for all, that the feelings of mankind elude all regulations, and that [41] entire liberty is necessary in order that they may unfold completely and normally. Let us be less puritanic and we shall be more candid, more moral.

The man who owns property, wishing to transmit the fruit of his rapine to his descendants, (the woman 'having been considered up till now as inferior, and rather as property than as an associate) it is evident that man has fashioned the family with a view to insuring his supremacy over woman; and to be able to transmit his possessions to his descendants at his death, he had to make the family indissoluble. Based upon interests, and not upon affection, it is plain that some force and sanction were necessary to prevent separations under the shocks occasioned by the antagonism of interests. Now, the Anarchists, who have been accused of wanting to destroy the family, want only to destroy this antagonism; to base the family upon affection in order to render it more permanent. We have never set it up as a principle that a man and woman who desire to finish their days together shall not do so, for the reason that we want unions to be free. We have never said that the father and mother should not bring up their children, because we demand that the liberty of the latter shall be respected, and that they shall no longer be considered as things—property—by their progenitors. Certainly we do want to abolish the legal family; we want men and women to be free to give themselves and take themselves back whenever they please. We want no more of a stupid and uniform law, regulating relations in regard to feelings so complex and varied as those which result from love. If a human being's feelings be inclined to inconstancy, if his love cannot fix itself upon one object, as those who want to regulate sexual relations pretend, what does it matter to us? What can we do about it? Since up to the present hour repression has succeeded in preventing nothing and has only given us new vices, let us leave human nature free; let it evolve in whatever direction its tendencies and aspirations incline it. It is intelligent enough today to find out what is useful or harmful to it, to discover by experience its proper line of evolution. The law of evolution acting freely, we are certain that it will be the fittest, the [42] best endowed, who will have the chance to survive and reproduce themselves. If, on the other hand, the human tendency be, as we think, inclined to monogomy, the permanent union of two beings who, having met each other, having learned to know and esteem each other, end by becoming one, their union growing intimate and complete, their wills, thoughts, and desires being identical, such will have still less need of laws to constrain them to live together. Will not their own desires be the surest guarantee of the indissolubility of their union?

When men and women no longer feel themselves riveted to each other, if they truly love each other, this love will result in leading them reciprocally to seek to merit the love of the being they have chosen. Feeling that the beloved companion may fly away from the nest the day that he or she no longer finds in it the satisfaction once dreamed of, each will try all means to attach the other completely to him or herself. As with those species of birds, in which, during the mating season, the male arrays himself in new and splendid plumage, in order to appear seductive to the female whose favors he wishes to attract, human creatures will cultivate those moral qualities which will make them beloved and render their society agreeable. Based upon such sentiments, unions will become more indissoluble than the most severe laws or the most violent repression could make them.

We have not attempted a criticism of existing marriage, which is equivalent to the most shameless prostitution:—Business marriages in which affectionate sentiments play no part; marriages of accommodation, arranged, especially among bourgeois families, by the parents, without consulting those who are to be united; unequal marriages in which we see aged semi-paralytics, thanks to their money, uniting their old, decaying carcasses with the freshness and beauty of very young girls, or old hags purchasing with a pile of dollars the complaisance of young pimps, who pay with their skins and a little shame for their thirst of getting rich. Such criticism has been made again and again; what is the use of reverting to it? It suffices to have demonstrated that sexual union has not always been arrayed in [43] the same formalities, and that it cannot attain its greatest dignity save by ridding itself of all fetters. What is the use of seeking for anything else? <ref>Logically, the explanation of the manner of raising children in future society as we understand it, should be inserted here; but this question being treated in "Society on the Morrow of the Revolution," we refer the reader to the article: "Children in the New Society."</ref>


The question of property is so mixed up with that of authority that in treating of the former in its special chapter we could not do otherwise than treat of the origin and evolution of the latter. We shall not therefore return to these, but shall concern ourselves only with the present period, with the authority which is claimed to be based upon universal suffrage, the law of the majority. As we have seen, the divine origin of property and authority being sapped, the bourgeoisie has had to seek a new and more solid basis for them. Having themselves destroyed the basis of divine right, and helped to combat that of the right of force, they sought to substitute therefor that of money, by causing the chambers to be elected Under the quit-rent regime, that is to say by a certain category of individuals who paid the highest taxes. Later there was some question of including "qualifications;" this came from the excluded fraction of the bourgeoisie. But all that could be of no long duration. From the moment that authority was put under discussion it lost its strength, and those who had hitherto taken no part in the choice of their masters, were not slow to demand the right to give their opinion upon this choice. The bourgeoisie, who feared the people, did not want to make any concession; they had the power, they wanted to keep it. In order to obtain universal suffrage the workers had to revolt. The bourgeois members whom they carried into power were eager to trick them out of this newly- acquired right, to cut the claws of the monster which they [44] thought would devour them. It was only in the long, run, through seeing it in operation, that they came to understand that it was not dangerous to their privileges, that it was but a fiddle upon which one must know how to play, and that this famous weapon for enforcing demands, which the workers believed themselves to have acquired, (they had paid for it with their blood) was but a perfected instrument of authority, which enslaved those who made use of it at the very moment they expected to emancipate themselves.

Indeed what is universal suffrage if not the right of the governed to choose their master, the right of choosing the rod to be whipped with? The voter is sovereign—so far as to be able to choose his master! But he has not the right to dispense with him; for the one that his neighbor will have chosen will be his. From the moment he deposits his ballot in the box he has signed his abdication; he has no more to do but bend to the caprices of the masters of his choice; they will make the laws, will apply them to him, and throw him into prison if he resist.

We do not wish to institute a trial of universal suffrage at this point, nor to examine all the correctives, all the improvements that different people have wished to bring to bear upon it, to obviate the caprices of the elected and secure the sovereignty of the voter by giving him the means of forcing the former to keep his promises. It would lead us too far, and is, besides, of no importance to us, since we wish to prove that there ought not to be a majority-law any more than a divine right, and that the individual ought not to be subjected to any other rule than that of his own will. And, moreover, in analyzing the operation of universal suffrage we shall come to the proof that it is not even the majority that governs, but a very small minority, issuing from a second minority, which is itself but a minority chosen from among the governed masses. That women and children, who submit equally to the laws, should be excluded from the right of sharing in the vote, is purely arbitrary. If we deduct further those who for one reason or another do not make use of this right, we find ourselves in the presence of a first minority, recognized most arbitrarily as the only ones fit to [45] choose masters for all. In the second place, it is theoretically the majority which on election day decides who is elected out of this original circumscription; but practically the choice of the voters is divided among six, eight, ten, and often more candidates, not counting those who, not finding their opinions represented among the crowd of candidates, vote contrary to their ideas. The successful candidate is, therefore, once more but . the product of a second minority. In the third place, those elected being once assembled, it is again the majority which, theoretically always, is supposed to decide among them; but here again opinions being divided into groups and sub-groups innumerable, it follows in practice that small cliques of ambitious persons, standing between the extreme parties, decide the vote by lending their voices to those that offer them the most for it. From the little just said it is apparent that the pretended sovereignty of the voter comes down to a very small affair; but it must be observed that in order not to befog the reader we have simplified our criticism, and supposed that every voter acted logically and conscientiously. But if we include in the account all the intrigues, jobbing, ambitious calculations; if we take note that before being ratified the laws must come before another assembly, the senate, which in turn is elected by another category of voters; if we take into account that the legislative power is composed of five hundred and some odd deputies, and that each voter casts his ballot for only one, and that consequently his will goes for less than one five-hundredth of the general will, still further reduced by the veto of the senate, we shall end by perceiving that individual sovereignty enters in so infinitesimal a quantity into the national sovereignty that at last we do not find it at all.

Yet all this is still of minor importance. Universal suffrage has a still more disastrous effect, viz: that it gives birth to the reign of nonentities and mediocrities, as we shall prove. Every new idea in advance of its epoch is, by the very fact of such. advance, always in the minority at the start. Very few and far between are the minds open enough to adopt and defend it. This is an acknowledged truth, and the conclusion is that people [46] with truly broad and intelligent ideas are always in the minority. The bulk of the masses professes average current ideas; it is they who compose the majority; it is they who will choose the representative, who, in order to be elected, will take good care not to offend the prejudices of his constituents or to shock received opinions. On the contrary, in order to succeed in collecting as many people as possible under his banner, he must round off his sharp corners and select a stock of commonplaces to get off before those whose suffrages he covets. That he may not frighten them, he must outdo them in stupidity. The more flat, mediocre, and insipid he is, the more chance he has of being elected.

If the workings of all manner of groups be thoroughly examined,—committees, representative congresses, associations for mutual help, societies of artists, litterateurs, etc.,—you will always see the offices in these hierarchic organizations, elected by universal suffrage, held by persons who, setting aside their ambitious desire of showing themselves off, getting themselves talked about, or creating a situation at the expense of their colleagues, and a certain capacity for intrigue, are the most mediocre of the lot. For no original mind that occupies itself solely with the realization of its ideal, can do otherwise than clash with all those—and they are legion—who follow the laws of holy routine. Everybody cries out, "Look at the jackass!" He who seeks the truth and would make it prevail, has no time to stoop to the shabby wire-pulling behind the scenes. He will surely be beaten in the electoral lists by him who, having no original ideas, accepting those received by the greater number, will have less trouble in insinuating his projecting angles (which he has not) in a manner to offend no one. The more one wishes to please people the more the average line of ideas adopted must be disembarrassed of new and original conceptions, and consequently the aforesaid line will be found trite, tame, and mediocre. This is all there is of universal suffrage, —a sonorous ass's skin, giving out nothing but noise under the blows of those who wish to make it speak!

But though authority is discussed, jeered at, lashed, it is, unfortunately, far from having disappeared from our customs. [47] People are so used to being led by a string that they would imagine themselves lost the moment there was no longer anybody to keep them tied. They are so accustomed to seeing the gendarme's cap, the belted paunch of the mayor, the meddling and official insolence of the bureaucracy, the sorry-looking countenances of judge and policeman, appear in their lives at every turn, that they have reached the point of becoming accustomed to these filthy promiscuities, considering them-as things which are certainly disagreeable, on which, when occasion offers, they never miss playing a dirty trick with satisfaction, but which they cannot imagine disappearing without humanity's being dislocated at once! Strange contradiction of the human mind! Men submit to this authority with reluctance, they scoff at it, violate it when they can, and believe themselves lost when any one talks of doing away with it. A matter of habit, it seems!

But this prejudice is so much the more illogical, if we may use the term, so much the more stupid, when the ideal of each individual in regard to "good" government, is to have one which he would have the chance to cashier the moment it tried to prevent him from acting as he pleased. It was to natter this ideal that the bourgeoisie invented universal suffrage.

If the republic has enjoyed so much credit among the workers; if, after so many deceptions, universal suffrage is still considered by the governed as a means of enfranchisement, it is because they have been made to believe that by changing the men in power they could change the system of exploitation which oppresses us into a system from which welfare and felicity for all would result. Profound error, which allows the intriguing to lead the workers astray, in pursuit of illusory reforms, incapable of bringing about any change in their situation, and accustoming them to expect everything from a change of personnel in this machine for oppression called the State;—an error which, in every revolution, has permitted schemers to juggle away popular victories, to install themselves in the sinecures of those who have been swept away by the revolutionary tempest, and to form a new caste of exploiters by creating around them new interests, which, once established, have succeeded in impo- [48] - sing their authority, reducing to silence those who had had the naivete to carry them to the pinnacle of power!

What an abyss of contradictions is the human mind! If one discusses with individuals even slightly intelligent, they will readily agree that if all men were reasonable there would be no need of government. They themselves could get along easily without it. But unfortunately all men are not reasonable; some would abuse their strength to oppress others, to live at others' expense and do nothing. To guard against these inconveniences some authority is necessary "to keep them straight." Which in concrete terms comes back to saying that, taken in a lump, people are too bad to come to an understanding among themselves, but that, taken individually or in fractions, they know how to govern others, and that we must make haste to put the power into their hands, in order that they may enforce their will upon all. O unhappy logic! How human reasoning doth trip thee up!

So long as there are persons to give commands, will they not necessarily be in antagonism with those they command? Will not those in power, if they be sincere, have ideas of their own to further? And these ideas, though they may be good, may also be very bad. Drowned in the mass, they will remain without power; with authority in the hands of those who profess them, they will be thrust upon those who reject them. And the more sincere the individuals in power the more pitiless would they be against those who should revolt against their way of seeing things, being convinced that they were working for the good of humanity.

In the preceding chapter we saw that our political slavery is determined by our economic situation. We have soldiers, judges, ministers, etc., because we have bankers and proprietors; the one entails the other. If we succeed in overthrowing those who exploit us in the workshop, if we succeed in ridding ourselves of those who have got us by the entrails, there will no longer be any need of the force which protects them; it will have no more reason for existence. In fact there is a necessity for government, for laws, for deputies to make these laws and a magistracy to apply them, for a police-force to maintain the [49] decisions of the magistracy, because those who possess need some force to defend what they have seized against the claims of those they have dispossessed.

But The Worker—what has he to defend? What matters to him all this governmental paraphernalia, the expense for whose maintenance he alone bears, without deriving any profit therefrom, and which is there solely to teach him that he has no rights save that of starving in the midst of the abundance he has created? In the sombre days of revolt, when misery grown more intense urges the workers into the street en masse, it is again these social institutions which stand before them and bar their route to the future. We must, therefore, destroy them, and take good care to reconstitute no new aristocracy, which could have but one purpose: to enjoy the most and the quickest at the expense of its proteges. What matters the choice of the hand that strikes you? It is not to be struck at all, that one should aim at! Let us not forget that whatever the name in which the new authority clothes itself, however benign it may seek to appear, whatever be the amendments it proposes, whatever be the mode of recruiting its personnel, we shall none the less have to encounter the following dilemma: Either its decisions will have the force of law and be obligatory upon all, in which case all our existing institutions will be needed to apply them and enforce respect for them,—hence renunciation of liberty,—or people will remain free to discuss governmental decisions, conform to them if they please, or send authority hunting a job if it annoys them,—in which case liberty remains intact, but the government is useless though remaining a fetter and a menace!

Conclusion: No Government.


Authority, as we have seen, springs from that right which arrogates force to itself. But man having widened the field of [50] his thought it became necessary for this authority to justify its existence. Combining with religious sentiment and the support of the priests, it claimed to be of divine origin, assumed the form of an exclusive caste, and eventually succeeded in resisting the brutal power of the king and the nobles: thus the magistracy was founded. And when the bourgeoisie seized the power, in 1789, they took care not to destroy this pillar of social order. (Moreover, did not the nobility of gowns belong much more properly to the bourgeoisie than to the nobility of the sword?) They were thus relieved of the task of searching for a mode of recruit more in accord with the new aspirations.

Divine right having gotten a powerful shock in the decapitation of Louis XVI, the magistracy could not continue to lean upon the said right without the risk of likewise passing under this equalizing leveler. Hence they invented, or rather deified, the law. The magistracy was constituted its guardian and incorruptible administrator, so-called. The trick was done; the most redoubtable and necessary institution for the defense of privilege succeeded in preserving itself, and becoming the priestess of this new entity, the law, created by the new masters. The submission of France to the regime of the law is, in fact, one of the conquests of ' 89 whose benefits the bourgeois historians are exceedingly fond of setting forth. The codification of authority, according to these, its censer-bearers, had the immediate effect of legitimizing the most shameless arbitrariness. From then on Frenchmen were all to be equal; the people no longer had anything to demand. Thereafter there was to be but one master, before whom, it is true, all had to bow, which had the effect of equalizing their situations. This master was the law. But we who are not satisfied with words, when we try to find out what the workers have gained by this transformation, see that they have got just one more duping. In fact, in the time of the absolute monarchy, when the king and the nobles constrained the peasant to serve them, there was no way of deceiving oneself about it; the formula for such is our good pleasure showed whence they derived their rights: they claimed them by the right of the sword only, counting much more upon that [51] than the divine will; consequently it was upon force that their claim was based. Their orders were obeyed, their claims were submitted to; but because the people were in no condition to resist them. There were at least no imbeciles to come and say to us—repeating the phrases of the interested—that we must obey because it is " the law, and it is the duty of every one to conform thereto until it be changed.

If it be admitted that the law may change it is thereby presumed that the law may become retrogressive; and to acknowledge that, is to admit that from its very nature it may injure some one, for there are always individuals in advance of their generation. The law, then, is not just; it has not that respectable character with which men have sought to invest it. If this law injures my interests or violates my liberty why should I be compelled to obey it, and what is the unalterable compact which can justify these abuses? In scientific matters when the savants after great research and labor at length formulate what is called a natural law, it is not because a majority or "chamber," composed of persons believing themselves superior to the rest of mortals, has decided, by virtue of its members' will, that natural forces were ordered to conform to such or such a mode of evolution. We should laugh in the face of the imbecile who would make such a pretense. When a natural law is proclaimed, it is because it has been discovered that if a certain phenomenon be produced, if a certain chemical combination had been effected, it is by virtue of such and such a force, or the existence of such and such affinities; the environment in which the phenomenon took place being given, it was impossible for it to be otherwise. Given forces set in motion under given conditions produce given results; this is mathematical. Therefore the newly-discovered law does not come upon the scene to govern the phenomenon, but to explain its causes. These laws may be discovered, doubted, and even denied; the divers substances which compose our earth will none the less continue to combine according to their properties or affinities, the earth will turn, without any force being needed to protect the evolution thereof, or punish, those who might want to "violate the laws." [52]

In our society it is otherwise. These laws seem to be made to be violated; because those who made them consulted only their personal preferences, the interests of those whom they represented, and the average degree of moral evolution in their epoch, without taking into account the character, tendencies, and affinities of those who were to submit to them,—which, moreover, would be impossible, the diversity of individual character and tendencies being given. Each estate has its laws; nor can there be any single and universal law in sociology, as there is in physics, under penalty of its becoming arbitrary and inapplicable. In fact there is not, in our society, a single law which does not injure some of its members, either in their material interests or their ideas; not a single law which each triumphant party has not been able to turn against its adversaries. Power once obtained, every illegal party becomes legal, for it is that party which, through its creatures, administers the "law." We may then conclude that the law being nothing but the will of the strongest, one is obliged to obey it only when too weak to resist it; that nothing really legitimizes it, and that this famous legality is only a question of more or less force.% So when these rogues oppose the workers with their supreme argument, "legality," the latter may laugh in their faces and ask if any one ever came to consult the toilers about the making of those laws. And even if the people should have adhered to these laws for a time, the latter could have no effectiveness except so long as those who accepted them continued to believe them useful, and were willing to conform to them. It would be funny if, under the pretext that at a given moment of our life we had agreed to a certain line of conduct, we were forced to adopt it for the rest of our existence, without being able to modify it, because to do so would be to displease a certain number of persons who, for one cause or another finding profit for themselves in the existing order, would like to crystalize their present condition. But what is more ridiculous still, is the desire to subject us to the laws of past generations, the pretense that we should believe we owe respect and obedience to the fancies which it pleased certain nincompoops to codify and set up as laws fifty years ago! The presumption of wanting to enslave the present to the conceptions of the past!

At this point we hear the recriminations of all the makers of laws and those that get their living out of them; they naively fall into line and cry out with the others that society could not exist if there were no longer any laws; that people would be cutting each other's throats if they had no tutelary authority to keep them in fear and respect of acquired rank and condition. Later we shall see that, in spite of law and coercion, crimes continue to be committed; that the laws are powerless to repress or prevent them, since they are the result of the vicious organization which governs us; and that, consequently, we must not seek to maintain or to modify the laws, but to change the social system.

But what makes us still more indignant is that certain persons are audacious enough to set themselves up as judges of others. So long as authority leaned upon its divine source, so long as justice passed for an emanation from God, we can understand that those invested with authority should have believed themselves peculiar beings, endowed by the divine will with a portion of its omnipotence and infallibility, and should have imagined themselves fit to distribute rewards and punishments to the herd of vulgar mortals. But in our century of science and free criticism, when it is recognized that all men are kneaded out of the same dough, subject to the same passions, the same caprices, the same mistakes, today when an agonizing divinity no longer comes to animate with its breath the ever fallible reason of mortals, we ask ourselves how it comes that there are men ignorant enough, or presumptuous enough, to dare to assume in cold blood and with deliberate intent the terrible responsibility of taking away another man's life or any portion of his liberty. When in the most ordinary affairs of daily life we are most of the time unable to succeed in analyzing not only the causes which prompt our immediate neighbors to act but very often the true motives of our own acts, how can anybody have the self-sufficiency to believe himself capable of disentangling the truth in an affair of which he knows neither the beginning, nor the actors, nor the motives which prompted their actions, and which comes before the tribunal only after being magnified, commented upon, distorted by the misrepresentations of those who participated in it in any way whatsoever or, more frequently, have heard of it only through the repetitions of others?

You, who pose as severe and infallible judges of this man who has killed or robbed, do you know the motives which prompted him? Do you know the circumstances of environment, heredity, or even chance, which influenced his mind and led him to commit the act with which you reproach him? You, the implacable men that hurl your anathema against the accused whom public force has brought before your bar, have you ever asked yourselves whether, if placed in the same circumstances and surroundings under which this man acted, you would not have done worse? If, even, you were the impeccable, austere, and stainless men you are supposed to be, you, who with a word pitilessly cut off human life and liberty, you would not dare to utter your decisions if you had thoroughly reflected on human frailty; were you conscious of what you are doing, you would recoil appalled before your task! How could you help being troubled with nightmares! How could your dreams help being peopled with spectres of the victims which your pretended justice creates every day! Were it not for that official unconsciousness which stupidity and habit give, you would end by succumbing to the weight of remorse and the haunting of phantoms evoked by your judgments. Our epoch of criticism and positive science no longer admits the principle of distributive justice, nor recognizes the legitimacy of a superior authority rewarding the good and chastising the wicked. Against this ancient doctrine, which the conceptions of the age during one period of humanity's evolution rendered logical, we promulgate the opposite idea. We no longer see actions as good or bad, except as they are agreeable or disagreeable to us, and in consequence act accordingly. We approve or become enthusiastic, defend or attack, according to the benefit or injury received by our interests, our passions, and our conceptions of the ideal. The common need of solidarity which leads people subjected to the same attacks to unite for their defense is to us the guarantee of a future social order less troubled than our own. We do not judge, but work and struggle; and we believe that universal harmony will result from the free action of all men, when once the suppression of private property no longer permits a handful of persons to enslave their fellows. Hence we cannot admit that, six weeks or six years after an act has been committed, a group of persons supported by armed force should assemble to judge, in the name of some entity or other, and reward or punish the author of the act. That is hypocrisy and cowardice. You reproach a man with having killed, and to teach him that he was wrong you have him killed by the executioner, society's hired assassin! The. executioner and you have not even the excuse of having risked your own necks, since you proceed under cover of an armed force which protects you. We are at war with the ruling caste: recognize, gentlemen of the magistracy, that you are its retainers, and let us alone with your big words and fine phrases. Maintain the privileges whose care is confided to you, use the force which ignorance concedes to you, but leave justice in peace; she has nothing to do with you!

That you might be able to judge appreciatively of the ignominy of your role in beating down others, we would like, O judges, that it might happen to you that, being innocent, you' should fall into the clutches of your fellows, to be judged in your turn. In such a situation you might learn what anguish and terror they have had to pass through who have filed before your bar, and whom you have tortured, you, magistrates, as the cat tortures the mouse. With the floods of eloquence from the prosecuting attorney pleading against you rolling about your ears, you might see passing before your eyes the spectres of those unfortunates that, during your career, you have immolated upon . the altar of social vengeance; you might ask yourselves then, with terror, if they also were not innocent. O yes, we would heartily wish that there might be one among you falsely accused, who should go through the terrors of those that come before your bar. For if, his innocence being one day admitted, he were reinstated in his functions, it is strongly to be presumed that he would re-enter his place in the tribunal only to tear his robe and apologize for his criminal life as magistrate, judging haphazard and trafficking in human lives. ,



Science, today, admits without dispute that man is the sport of a multitude of forces to whose play he is subjected, and that free will does not exist. Environment, heredity, education, climatic and. atmospheric influences, act upon man in turn, now clashing with each other, now combining, but exercising an undeniable influence upon his brain, and whirling him about under their impact as the teetotum spins under the gyratory motion of the fingers of the player who sets it agoing. According to his heredity, his education and environment in which he lives, the individual will be more or less docile to the stimulus of certain forces, more or less refractory to certain others; but it is none the less sure that his personality is but the product of these forces. Having stated these facts, a number of savants, whose acknowledged chief is C. Lombr'oso, tried to establish a criminal type. They applied themselves to a search for anomalies that should characterize this type, which they claim to have discovered; and after having wrangled a good deal over the aforesaid type, created by themselves, they decide for energetic repression, life imprisonment, etc.—Man acts under the influence of causes external to himself; hence he is not responsible for his acts. The savants recognize this, and therefore decide for— repression!

Hereafter we shall have occasion to explain this contradiction. For the present let us examine the principal anomalies designated by the criminologists as the characteristic of criminality:

Old wounds;

Anomalies of the skin;

Anomalies of the ears and nose;


There are many others which seem to us to have no more relation to a person's mentality than the. foregoing, but our ignorance of anatomy does not permit us to discuss them thoroughly. Let us rest content with those we have just enumerated. Wounds:—It is quite evident that a'person who bears the marks of old wounds may be something else than a regular criminal, especially if he received those wounds in an accident, while at work, or in risking his life to save one of his fellows. Until now we had believed that criminality consisted rather in giving blows than receiving them; it appears that the contrary is the case,—that it is he who gets wounded! Brothers, let us bow! As to anomalies of the nose and ears, we have sought in vain for what relation they could have to the brain; we have not found it. But there is better to follow. Lombroso concedes that many cases which he instances as anomalies are frequently found among those whom he calls honest people. These, then, are anomalies tending to become generalities! Till now we had been'inclined to believe that an anomaly was a case of departure from the generality. Lombroso's science tends to prove the contrary. Sad inconsequence, which proves, more than anything else, that men who have gotten astride a hobbyhorse, shut themselves in one corner of science, finish by losing a proper conception Of things in their entirety, and have but one object: to include all things under those particular studies which they have embraced.

To have an ear or a nose badly shaped,—the nose especially! Nothing can be more disagreeable,—above all if this defective conformation is carried to the extreme limit of the ludicrous! There is nothing very gratifying in carrying around a sack of lard on one's face, or a wine-spot on one side of it; it is often unpleasant enough both to those who look at them and those who have them; however, we should have thought that persons so afflicted were affected painfully enough, without being regarded as criminals besides! But since Lombroso says so, stretching his theory to its furthest consequences, we are led to demand that midwives and accoucheurs be obliged to put to death all the newly born who shall come into the world [ocr errors]

with a pug-nose or a deformed ear. Every pigmentary spot, evidently, can be naught else but an indication of our black perversity. Tlv^s I, too, (it seems to me I remember having some of these spots — somewhere — I am an Anarchist, which is by some people considered an indication of criminality to begin with) — I — the thing fits! I am destined to be but a common criminal! Death to him, death to him! The theory predicts that I shall die on the scaffold!

After applying the theory to all amenable thereto, there would probably be but very few survivors; but how perfect would humanity be, morally and physically! We should never recoil before the consequences of a theory founded upon observation as this is !

As to tattooing, we had not up to the present taken it as an indication of very elevated aesthetics. O no. It is a remnant of atavism which leads certain men ' ' to highten their natural beauty ' ' by means of embellishments pricked into the skin, precisely as our ancestors of the stone age might have done. This same atavism still leads many women to have their ears pierced in order to hang pieces of metal or brilliant pebbles from them, exactly as the Botocudos of Brazil, or certain Australian and African tribes, cut their lips, the cartilage of the nose, or the lobes of the ears, in order to insert wooden or metal rings, which, so at least it seems to them, have the effect of bestowing unequaled beauty upon them. We decidedly look upon such proceedings as a trifle primitive; but we had not seen any character of ferocity in the custom. However, since Lombroso informs us that there is, we certainly hope that we shall get rid not only of those who tattoo themselves, but of those who have their ears pierced and dye their hair!

Lombroso has also tried very hard to discover a type of the political criminal, supporting the theory upon information quite as imaginary;<ref>I do not know whether Jean Grave had seen Prof. Lombroao's article on the "Physiognomy of the Chicago Anarchists," one of a series on "Criminal Anthropology," published in the Monist, Chicago, April, 1891, wherein he admits in a foot-note that his analysis was based upon portraits in Capt. Schaack's book, which, ae he had learned later, were incorrect I — Translator.</ref> but to follow him into this region would carry us too far away from our subject: we shall keep to the criticism of criminalism properly so-called.

For that matter, some few more enlightened savants themselves have not been slow to offer criticism upon the by far too fanciful theories of the criminalistic school, and have victoriously demonstrated the lack of consistency in the pretended criminal characters sought to be attributed to those designated by that label. Among others Dr. Manouvrier, in his course on Criminal Anthropology," before the Anthropological Society in 1890, '91, refuted, in an admirable manner, the theories of Lombroso and the criminalistic school concerning the alleged born criminal. After having demonstrated the falsity of the observations upon which the Italian savant and his imitators depended in creating the criminal type, by taking as subjects of observation only individuals already deformed by prison life or by an abnormal existence, Manouvrier declared that persons might have such or such aptitudes as would adapt them to such or such acts, but that they are not, by the conformation of their brain or their skeleton, predestined to accomplish those acts and become what are called criminals. A certain sort of aptitudes might indifferently, according to the circumstances, prompt the person to do an act reputed honorable, as well as one reputed criminal. For instance a powerful muscular organization may, in a moment of fury, make a vigorous man a strangler; but quite as easily it may make one of the officers who arrest the criminal. Violent instincts, contempt of danger, carelessness of death, whether it be give or take, are indifferently the vices of the criminal or the virtues demanded of the soldier. A crafty disposition, inclined to deceit, cunning, and insinuating, may make the swindler who thinks of nothing but schemes for robbery and fraud; but they are also the qualities required to make an admirable detective or examining magistrate.

Drawn on by the truth of his argument the doctor did not, moreover, hesitate to acknowledge that, very often, it is difficult to distinguish the alleged criminal from the alleged honest man; and that many an individual out of prison ought to be in it, and vice versa. And after having, with the other savants, admitted that man is but the sport of circumstances, according to the sum total of which he acts at any given moment; after having denied free will; after having recognized that justice is but a figment, and is, in fact, nothing but revenge exercised by society, which substitutes itself for the individual wronged, the doctor unfortunately, stops short; after having given utterance to perceptions which bring him very nearly in touch with the Anarchists, he thence comes to the conclusion that present penalties are not severe enough and that they must be increased. He intrenches himself, it is true, behind social preservation. Those acts reputed criminal, he says, shake society; society has the right to defend itself, by substituting itself for individual revenge, and smiting those who trouble it with a penalty severe enough to take away from them any desire to continue. Whence comes this flagrant contradiction between perceptions so broad and conclusions so narrow, since the latter demand the maintenance of what is shown by the premises to be absurd? This contradiction, alas, is not to be ascribed to their authors; it is essentially in the nature of human imperfection. Man cannot be universal. The savant who devotes himself passionately to a study attains prodigies of sagacity in that particular groove of science which he has hollowed out. By deduction after deduction he succeeds in solving the most arduous problems coming under that domain, which he has undertaken the task of cultivating; but as he has not been able to keep abreast in the study of all the sciences, of all social phenomena, the result is that he remains behind the progress of the other sciences; therefore, when he seeks to apply the admirable discoveries which he has made to other human conceptions, it follows that he most frequently applies them wrongly and draws an erroneous conclusion from a truth which he has demonstrated. In fact if the anthropologists who have studied man, analyzed him, and reached some comprehension of his true nature, had studied sociology with equal success, passed all the social institutions which govern us through the sieve of reason, no doubt their conclusions would have been different. Since they have admitted that man acts under the impulse of external influences, they should be led to seek what these influences are. In considering the reputed criminal and his acts, the study of the nature of these acts should necessarily force itself upon their minds and make them seek to find out why they are in antagonism to the laws of society. Here it is that the influence of environment, the prejudices of education, comparative ignorance of scientific questions which they have not studied, unknown to themselves combine to dictate to them conclusions so favorable to the existing order of things. These make it impossible for them, though they recognize that order as bad, though they demand some ameliorations in favor of the disinherited, to conceive anything better outside of authority. Accustomed to stir only with the chain around their necks and under the stings of the whip of power, it seems the more independent ones should certainly like to be rid of these themselves, or that a small minority should; but their conceptions cannot allow that humanity is able to go forward without leadingstrings, dungeons, and chains.

If we study what crimes are the most anti-social, most common, and against which the code is chiefly directed, we shall soon discover that outside of crimes of passion, which are very rare, and concerning which judges and physicians agree that leniency should be used, attacks upon property furnish the largest contingent of crimes or misdemeanors. Hence arises the question to which only those who have studied society in its nature and effects can reply: "Is property just? Is an organization which creates such a number of crimes defensible?" If this regime involves so many crimes as an inevitable reaction it must be very illogical, it must crush out many interests; and the social compact, far from having been freely and unanimously agreed to, must be distorted by arbitrariness and oppression. This is what we have undertaken to prove in this work; and the fundamental vice of the social organization being recognized, we shall show by the evidence that in order to destroy criminals we must destroy the social conditions which beget them. Let society once be so arranged that every individual shall be assured of the satisfaction of all his needs; that nothing shall fetter his free evolution; that in the social organization there shall be no more institutions of which he may avail himself to enslave his fellows, and you will see crime disappear. . If there remain a few isolated natures so corrupted or degenerated through our existing society as tp commit crimes for which no other cause than folly can be assigned, such cases will be taken up by science and not by the executioner, the paid assassin of capitalistic and authoritarian society.

You say you make war upon thieves and assassins; but what is a thief, or an assassin? Persons who claim the right to live without being useful, at the expense of society, you will say. But cast a glance over your society and you will discover that it is swarming with thieves, and that, far from punishing them, your laws are made for the express purpose of protecting them. Far from punishing laziness, society holds it up as an ideal, and awards the pleasure of doing nothing to those who can, by no matter what means, succeed in living well without being useful. You punish as a thief the unfortunate who, having no work, risks imprisonment to get hold of a piece of bread to appease his hunger; but you take off your hat and bow to the millionaire monopolist who by the help of his capital has cornered at a bargain those things necessary for the consumption of all, that he may sell them back at an enormous profit! You are eager to present yourselves, very humbly and submissively, in the ante-chamber of the financier who, by a stroke on the bourse, has ruined hundreds of families to enrich himself from the spoil! You punish the criminal who, to gratify his taste for idleness and debauchery, victimizes somebody, but who inculcated in him this idleness and debauchery, if not your society? You punish him who operates on a smale scale, but you support whole armies that you may send them over-sea to operate on a large scale against peoples unable to defend themselves. And the exploiters who kill not only a few persons, but exhaust entire generations, crushing them with overwork, cutting down their wages day by day, driving them into a corner with the most sordid poverty,—Oh, for such exploiters you reserve your sympathies, and will, if need be, put all the forces of your society at their service. And the law, whose timid guardians you are, [ocr errors]


—when the exploited, tired of suffering, lift up their heads and demand a little more bread, a little more rest, you make that law the hximble servant of the privileged against the untimely demands of the barefooted mob. You punish the imbecile caught in your nets, but the adventurer strong enough to break through their meshes,—him you let go in peace! You imprison the tramp who steals an apple in passing, but you put at the disposal of the proprietor all the machinery of your law, that he may be enabled to rob the poor devil who owes him a few cents on the article which has cost him hundreds in labor, and which represents a part of his very life! Your justice cannot find rigors enough for the thieves in rags, but it protects those who operate upon a class, an entire nation! Have not all your institutions been established to assure to the possessors undisputed possession of what they have taken from the dispossessed?

But still more revolting to us are all these hypocritical forms employed to make us consider sacred the theatrical buffooneries, with which the bourgeoisie surround their sinister motives, and which they have not the courage to avow frankly. And what % is most revolting to us is the attitude of all these mountebanks who, under pretense of attacking the existing regime, attack only the men who apply its texts and the manner in which they apply them, but take good care to respect the essence itself, making believe that there may be a number of methods of applying the law and that among that number there is but one good one; that among the men who climb into power some may be found honest enough, broad enough in their views, men, in short, the like of whom does not exist, who will be able to disentangle this one good method and make use of it to the satisfaction of all. Truly, we know not which to admire most: the knavery of those who utter these stupidities, or the naivete of those who continue to look up to this farce, the entire weight of which they alone support. It is hard to understand that, amongst the countless number of persons who have undergone the examinations of "justice," not one has yet been found sufficiently free from prejudice to go and lift up the robes of those who had struck him and show the public that all these [ocr errors]

togs serve but to mask men subject to the same weaknesses and errors as the rest of humanity, not counting the crimes inspired by their class interests.

Hence for us Anarchists, who attack authority, legality is one of those hypocritical forms which we must most energetically assail, in order to tear off the tinsel which serves to hide the recantations and the shames of those who govern us. Too long have these mummeries been respected; too long have the people believed that these institutions emanated from some superior essence which, causing them to float in an ethereal sphere, enabled them to soar above human passions. Too long have people believed in men distinct from their fellows, men of a special mould, charged with distributing here below—"trom each according to his necessities, to each according to his needs"— that ideal justice which each regards from his own point of view, according to the condition in which he is placed; justice which these men filled as they are with the most backward and superannuated ideas, have codified in order to defend the exploitation ••and enslavement of the weak by those who have managed to create and force upon others their own predominance. It is time to break with these absurdities and openly attack these wormeaten institutions whose aim is to lessen human personality; the free man does not admit this claim of individuals arrogating to themselves the right to judge and condemn other individuals. The idea of justice, such as existing institutions imply, has fallen with that of divinity; the one involved the other. The idea of God's inspiring magistrates with the verdict to be pronounced caused the infallibility of man's justice to be accepted, as long as the masses were backward enough to believe in a super-terrestrial existence, in some benevolent being existing outside of the material world, busying itself with what went on on our planet, and regulating the actions of all the people who inhabited it. But the belief in God being destroyed, faith in the supernatural having disappeared, human personality alone remaining with all its defects and passions, this inviolability and supreme character which are the essence of divinity, and with which the magistracy re-invested itself in order to keep itself above society, must likewise disappear, and allow those whose eyes have been opened to see what is really hidden by these,— oppression and exploitation of one class by another, fraud and violence elevated into a principle and transformed into social institutions.

Science has helped us to lift the veil; it has furnished us with the weapons which have assisted to strip the colossus; It is too late for it to be able effectually to turn backward and endeavor to reconstitute in the name of the metaphysical entity, society, what it has wrested from the metaphysical entity, divinity. The savants must manage to eliminate from themselves, completely, the bourgeois education they have received, and study social phenomena with the same strictness and disinterestedness with which they have approached the study of any special science. Then, when they are no longer influenced by considerations or prejudices foreign to science, they will no longer conclude in favor of the condemnation of criminals, but like we, rather, in favor of the destruction of a social state which makes it possible that there should be within its bosom, and because of- its own vicious organization, some persons reputed honest, and others reputed criminal.




This is a truth which is beginning to be recognized and is making its way in the scientific world; the modifying influence of environments upon organized beings is no longer combated save by the old fogies of official science. It is acknowledged today that the soil and climate, the obstacles or advantages in the way of living found by the organisms of a continent, have an influence upon their development as great as the other laws by which, exclusively, their adaptation or their tendencies to variability have heretofore been sought to be explained, if not indeed, greater. As to man, who has always been made a separate and distinct being, the new truth was harder to admit; the more so that he, also, is able to transform tie environment by which evolved. But at length it was admitted that man, like all other animals, is subject to the same influences and evolved under the pressure of the same original causes. When it became necessary to explain his moral evolution according to the same laws, the task was still more difficult; and even some of those who deny free will, who recognize that man acts only under the pressure df external circumstances—even some of those cannot accept the law in all its consequences,—that is to say, so far as to trace the causes of man's criminality to the entire social organization and to demand the transformation of the latter. The boldest—and they are rare—admit indeed in principle, that the social organization is bad, that it needs reforms, that some of its institutions beget misdemeanors; but to them the grand culprit is still the evil nature of mankind which necessitates a bridle upon their passions, and which society, defective as it is, can alone succeed in repressing. • Moreover, in order to minimize the responsibility of society as a whole, they cut up the social environment into several slices, which they likewise baptize with the name of environments, and upon which they saddle the evil effects of the influence produced. As to society,- they say, it does, perhaps, leave something to be desired; but such as it is, it protects the weak against the wicked, guarantees individuals in the free exercise of their right to labor, and furnishes them a surer, more effective, and cheaper protection than as if they were forced to defend themselves. In a word, they conclude, society is a contract of mutual insurance established between individuals; if misdemeanors occur, they are much more attributable to the evil nature of man than to the social organization itself.

Certainly we are far from pretending that man is a model of perfection: indeed he is a sorry animal enough, who, when he is not crushing his fellows under his heel, licks the heels of those who crush him; but summing it all up, man does not act exclusively under the influence of bad instincts, and the beautiful sentiments of love, charity, fraternity, devotion, and solidarity, sung and exalted by poets, religionists, and moralists, prove to us that, though he sometimes act under the impulse of evil sentiments/he has a fund of idealism, a yearning after perfection; and it is this yearning which society represses and prevents from developing. >

Man is not created unique, either morally or physically. Like other animals, of which he is but a superior specimen, he is the product of a concourse of circximstances, of combination and association of matter. He has struggled to develop himself, and if he has contributed in a large measure to the transformation of the environment wherein he is situated, the latter has in turn influenced the customs he has adopted, his manner of living, thinking, and acting. Under the empire of his character and passions, therefore, he established society, and continues to have a certain amount of influence upon its operations. ' But it must not be forgotten that he has continued to evolve since the establishment of society, while the latter, after being organized in various groups, has always remained based upon authority and property. Changes of detail have been brought about by revolutions; power and property have changed hands, passed from one caste to another; but society itself has not ceased to be based upon the antagonism of individuals, the competition of their interests; nor has it ceased to press down with all its weight upon the development of their minds. Surrounded by society they are born into the world, within the environment it offers them they acquire their first ideas, and learn a mass of prejudices and lies which they come to recognize as false only after many centuries of criticism and discussion. Hence we are bound to acknowledge that the influence of the social environment upon the individual is immense, that it weighs upon him with all the heft of its institutions, with the collective strength of its members and that acquired by the long duration of its existence, whilst the individual, in reacting upon it, is reduced solely to his unaided strength.

Society, which is a first essay at solidarity, should have for its object the betterment of individuals, teaching them to practice this solidarity in view of which they have come together, to love each other as brothers, leading them to put all things in common: joys, pleasures, gratifications, pains, sorrows, and


sufferings, toil and production. Society has, on the contrary, found nothing better to do than to divide them into a number of castes, which may be resolved into two principle ones: the governors and possessors on the one side, the governed and nonpossessors on the other. On the side of the first contentment and plethora; on the side of the second misery, privation, and ansemia; the result of which division is to pose these two categories of individuals as enemies, between whom a ferocious war is perpetuated,—a war which can end only in the irretrievable enslavement of the second or the complete destruction—so far as concerns class privilege at least—of the first.

But the defective and Vill-conceived organization of society into two disfinct classes does not stop here in its pernicious effects.,- Based upon antagonism of interests it opposes individual against individual within each class; it sows warfare among them by its institution of private property which forces people to hoard in order to secure themselves against the morrow in those necessaries which society cannot guarantee to them. Private competition is the great actuating force of the present society; whatever be the business, profession, or kind of work to which people devote themselves, they have to fear the competition of those who choose the same department of activity. To increase their incomes, their chances of success, or sometimes simply not to go under themselves, they are forced to speculate in the ruin of their competitors. Even when they league together it is always only to the detriment of those dependent upon their special occupation. Founded upon this struggle between individuals, society makes of every creature the enemy of all others; it provokes war, crime, theft, and all the misdemeanors which are attributed to the evil nature of man, though they are but the consequence of the social order, and which society helps to perpetuate, though under the new moral notions acquired by humanity they would totally disappear.

This struggle between individuals has the effect of leading the possessors to make war upon each other, to divide them and prevent them from seeing their caste interest, which would be to work to insure their powers of exploitation by avoiding and forestalling everything which would open the eyes of the exploited,—a war which causes them to commit a multitude of mistakes that contribute largely to their downfall. If-the capitalistic classes were truly united among themselves, if their members no longer had private interests and were moved solely by the interests of caste, given the power which the possession of fortune, authority, and all the administrative machinery, coercive and executive, secures to them, given their intellectual development, necessarily superior to that of the workers the nourishment of whose brains they apportion to the nourishment of their bodies, the bourgeoisie might, for an indefinite period, rivet upon the exploited the yoke of poverty and dependence under which it now holds them. Happily the thirst to own, to shine, to parade, and to amass, makes them give themselves up to a warfare among themselves not less cruel than that in which they engage the workers. Eager to possess, they heap error upon error; the workers finally take an account of things, become acquainted with the causes whence flows their misery, and conscious of the subjection in which they are held.

But the same war which goes on among the capitalists goes on also among the workers; and while the first compromises the stability of the bourgeois edifice, the second helps to secure its continued existence. I Forced to struggle among themselves in order to snatch the vacancies in these dungeons which the' capitalists offer them, the workers regard each other as so many enemies while they are led to consider him who exploits them as a benefactor. Starved by the bourgeoisie, who in exchange for their toil give them just enough to keep them from dying of hunger, they are, at the very start, led to treat as an enemy the one who comes into the workshop to compete with them for the place they have had so much trouble to obtain. The scarcity of these vacancies again sharpens the competition, causing them to offer themselves at a lower price than their competitors. So that the anxiety of the daily struggle for daily bread makes them forget that their worst enemies are their masters. For the bourgeoisie, strengthened, it is true, by fortune, intellectual supremacy, and the possession of the governmental forces, are, after all, but a feeble minority in comparison with the multitude of workers; nor would the former be long in surrendering to the more numerous class, had they not found means for dividing the latter and making the same contribute to the defense of their privileges.

All this, therefore, certainly shows us that man is far from being an angel. He has even been a brute in the fullest acceptation of the word; this is true enough also. 'When men first became organized into societies they based these societies upon ~ f * their instincts for struggle and mastery; and this explains why society is so badly constructed. Only, society has remained bad. Its authority resting in the hands of a minority, the latter have turned it to their own profit; and the more society has evolved the more this concentration of power in the hands of a few has tended to increase and develop the evil effects of these ill-omened institutions. Man, on the contrary, in proportion as his brain » has developed, as facilities for procuring the means of subsistence have increased, has felt evolving within him that sentiment of solidarity which he had already obeyed in founding the first groups. This sentiment of solidarity has become such a necessity that religions have carried it to the extreme of sacrifice, preaching charity and self-renunciation, and therein finding a new element for exploitation. To what dreams of social reorganization, of plans for the happiness of humanity has the longing to live harmoniously with our fellows not given birth! But society was there, stifling with all its weight the good instincts ' of man, reviving in him his savage primitive egoism, forcing him to consider other people as so many enemies whom he must overthrow in order not to be overthrown himself, accustoming him to look with a dry eye upon those who .disappear, ground I* up in the monstrous gearing of the social mechanism, he being powerless to help them under pain of being caught himself in the same insatiable jaws, which mainly devour the good and the innocent who yield to their humanitarian sentiments, allowing the survival only of the malicious who have learned how to push others into those jaws in order to delay their own fall.

You make a great outcry against the lazy, against thieves and assassins; you berate the "fundamentally evil" side of human nature; and you do not perceive that these vices would most naturally disappear were they not supported and developed by the social organization. How can you expect,. , a man to be a worker when,'in the organization which governs us, work is considered degrading, reserved for the Pariahs of society, and since the cupidity of those who exploit him has fcl(/ made it a torture and a slavery? How can you expect to be free from lazy people when the ideal, the goal of attainment for everybody who wants to rise in the world is to succeed in amassing", by no matter what means, money enough to live without doing anything or by making others work? The greater the number of slaves a person manages to exploit, the higher his situation and the more respect he receives; the greater, likewise* the amount of income he gets out of it. You have made society a hierarchy, with the top of the social scale (considered as a reward . for merit, intelligence, and industry) reserved precisely for those who have never done anything! Those who by one means or another have succeeded in perching on the summit, eat, drink, and wanton, without the slightest employment for their ten fingers. They offer the spectacle of their idleness and indulgence to the exploited, who, at the bottom of the ladder, sweat, suffer, and produce for them, receiving in exchange just enough to keep from starving to death, without being able to hope to get out of their condition but by some stroke of chance. And you are astonished that people have a tendency to want to live without doing anything! For our own part (we are astonished at one thing only: that there are still people stupid enough to work! In the presence of the example furnished him by society, the individual's ideal cannot be anything else but to succeed ; in making other people work, in exploiting others in order not to be exploited himself. And when the means of legally exploiting him of his labor fail, other devices are sought. Commerce and finance are also licit methods, accepted by the law, yielding enormous incomes when followed on a big scale, but to which, when one is able to go in only on a small scale, are added certain proceedings which enable one to walk between

the borders of the code and even excuse one for stepping on them a little if one can do it without getting caught. Fraud and deceit are the exceedingly useful auxiliaries which enable one to increase his income manifold.

For those who cannot operate under these conditions another resource is left: the exploitation of human credulity, swindling, and other analogous methods. Lower still there remain brutal robbery and assassination. According to the means at one's disposal, according to the environment in which one has grown up, one or another of the methods just enumerated is made use of, or they may perhaps be combined in order to escape as long as possible, the severities of the code which is supposed to defend society. ^Poverty and suffering, this is the lot of the workers; leisure and all sorts of indulgence to those who by force, cunning, or the right of birth, have become their parasites. Here is solidarity for you!

How can you expect people not to tear each other in pieces, when they must ask themselves how they and theirs are to eat on the morrow if their competitor obtain the place in the workshop which they themselves covet? How can you expect solidarity in them when they reflect that the mouthful of bread which they sometimes give to the beggar passing by, may fail them later? How could they think about solidarity when they are forced to struggle every day for the conquest of bread; when there are a multitude of enjoyments which will ever remain a closed paradise to them? It may be, perhaps this necessity for locking elbows in the struggle which has brought them nearer together, little by little transformed this sentiment into the desire to love one's neighbor; but however that may be, it is to society that we must trace the responsibility for the survival of the war between individuals* -and the animosities which flow from it. How can you expect that men will not desire what is bad, when they know that the disappearance of such or such a person will allow them to go up another round of the ladder, that the disappearance of such another is a chance in favor of their getting the place they covet, the elimination of a dangerous competitor? How should a man resist the evil instigations of his nature, when he knows to a certainty that what will be an injury to his neighbor must be a benefit to himself? You say that man is evil! We say that he must have strong tendencies to become good or society would get on worse than it dpes, and crimes and disasters would be of more frequent occurrence.

In spite of all the stimulus of evil surroundings, man has been able to develop aspirations towards solidarity, harmony, and justice; and even these good sentiments have been exploited by those who live at his expense. These dreams of happiness, these tendencies towards something better, have given rise to a class of parasites who have speculated upon such aspirations by promising their realization. Still worse, these good sentiments have been punished as subversive of the social order; and in spite of all, the tendency of humanity is to move in the direction of their realization. And you dare to talk about the evil nature of man! The noble sentiments of humanity, its aspirations after liberty and justice have been hunted down and punished, because those who had succeeded in ridding themselves of the narrow and ferocious egoism which helps to perpetuate the present society, having begun to dream of an era of contentment and general harmony, ended by asking themselves how it happens that society, having been constituted for the advantage of all, turns out only to secure the privileges of the few. The unavoidable conclusion was that society is badly organized, that its institutions are vicious, that they must disappear in order to give place to a more equitable and rational organization. But, as those who are in possession do not wish to abandon their privileges, they have prohibited these aspirations as subversive; whence new struggles, new causes for the development of bad instincts.

The pernicious influence of society upon the morals of the individual being discovered, it is easy to suppress the bad instincts and develop the good. Your society based on antagonism of interests having produced the struggle between individuals, procreates the malevolent beast called "civilized man." Conceive, then, an organization based, on the contrary, upon the strictest solidarity. Make it so that private interests shall no longer be opposed to each other, nor contrary to public interests. Make it so that personal well-being shall flow from the general well-being, or produce it. Make it so that, in order to live and to enjoy, people need not fear the competition of their fellows. Make it so that by associating their energies and aspirations they may find their expectations realized thereby. Make it so that this association shall not be turned to the detriment of neighboring groups.

You are afraid of the lazy! (Make work attractive. , Instead of riveting it upon a small minority of society to whom it becomes a torture, do away with all your State machinery, your useless offices, and organize your society in such a way that each shall be led, by mere force of circumstances and not by any authority whatever, to co-operate in social production. Make work useful, necessary, and so that it may be a hygienic exercise instead of a torture. From the present organization you reap a harvest of wars, crimes, thefts, fraud, and misery. This is the result of private property and authority, it is the influence of environment making itself felt. If you would have a society in which reign confidence, solidarity, and well-being for all, base it upon liberty, reciprocity, and equality.


Religion, property, authority, the family, having slowly evolved from human aspirations, became gradually defined; but as they became precise in conception, as their purposes grew clear, they became the nucleus of an evolution which, as it developed, led them to concentrate more within themselves, and gradually transformed them into well-defined castes, each having its attributes and privileges. Of these the military caste was not the last to form, develop, and become preponderant everywhere. For wherever it was compelled to cede the foremost rank to the sacerdotal caste, it yielded merely an honorary precedence. Was it not at bottom the military caste which could, by its co-operation, insure stability of power in the hands of those who held that power? Did it not furnish the nominal or real chiefs in whom was summed up the omnipotence of caste?

In all this conflict of interests the idea of "the country" held very little place. Group fought against group, tribe against tribe, and, in historic times, city against city; whole peoples, even, sought to enslave other peoples; nations, indeed, commenced to be distinguished; but the notion of a "'fatherland" was still very vague and uncertain. We must come down to modern times before we see the idea of the country formulated, exact, and setting its authority above that of kings, priests, or warriors, who are no more than servants of this new metaphysical entity, "the country," priests of the new religion. In France it was in 1789 that the idea of the country, together with that of the law, revealed itself in all its potency. I{ was an idea congenial to the bourgeoisie to substituted the authority of the nation for that of divine right!, to present it to the workers as a synthesis of all rights, and to lead them to defend the new order of things by affording them the belief that they were struggling for the defense of their own rights. (For it is well to observe that the idea of the country, the nation, as it is called, •»•<• summed up the whole of the people, their rights and institutions, rather than the soil itself. [ It was only little by little, and under the influence of ulterior causes, that the idea of the country shrunk and shriveled to the narrow sense taught today, of love of the soil without concern for those who live upon it or the institutions in operation among them.) But whatever the prevalent idea of the country,' the bourgeoisie found it too much to their interest to cultivate that idea not to seek to develop it in men's minds and make a religion of it, in the shelter of which they could preserve their sturdily contested authority. At all events (the defense of the soil was but too good a pretext for maintaining the army necessary to the support of their privileges, and the collective interest an invincible argument for compelling the workers to contribute to the defense of said privileges. Happily the spirit of criticism grows and spreads day by day, and man no longer content with words wants to know their meaning. If he does not grasp it at the first attempt, his [ocr errors][ocr errors]

memory is capable of storing up the facts, deducing consequences and drawing a logical conclusion from them.

What, in reality, does the word country represent, beyond the natural affection one has for his family and his neighbors, and the attachment engendered by the habit of living upon one's native soil? Nothing, less than nothing, to the major portion of those whb go off to get their heads broken in wars of whose causes they are ignorant and whose cost they alone pay, as workers and combatants! Successful or disastrous, these wars cannot alter their situation in the least. Conquerors or conquered they are the ever-to-be-exploited, submissive cattle, subject to impress, which the capitalist class is anxious to keep under its thumb.

If. we agree to the interpretation given it by those who talk the most about it, "the country" is the soil, the territory belonging to the State of which one is a subject. But States have only arbitrary limits; such limitation most frequently depends upon the issue of battles. Political groups were not always constituted in the same manner as they exist today, and tomorrow, if it pleases those who exploit us to make war, the issue of another battle may cause a portion of the country to pass under the yoke of another nationality. Has it not always been the same throughout the ages? As, in consequence of the wars they have made upon each other, nations have appropriated, then lost again or retaken the provinces which separated their frontiers, it follows that the patriotism of these provinces, tossed first to this side then to that, consisted in fighting sometimes under one flag, sometimes under another, in killing their allies of the day before, in struggling side by side with their enemies of the day after:—first proof of the absurdity of patriotism!

And, moreover, what can be more arbitrary than frontiers? For what reason do men located on this side of a fictitious line belong to a nation more than those on the other side? The arbitrariness of these distinctions is so evident that nowadays the racial spirit is claimed as the justification for parceling peoples into distinct nations. But here again the distinction is of no value and rests upon no serious foundation, for every nation is itself but an amalgamation of races quite different from each other, not to speak of the interminglings and crossings which the relations operating among nations, more and more developed, more and more intimate, bring about every day. According to such a method of calculation, the ancient division of France into provinces was more logical, for it took into account the ethnic differences of the populations. Yet today even this consideration would no longer have any value; for the human race is moving too rapidly towards unification and the absorption of the variations which divide it, to leave any distinctions remaining save those of climate and environment which will have been too profound to be completely modified. [graphic]

But wherein the inconsistency is still greater, on the part of the major portion of those who go to get themselves killed without having any motive for hatred against those designated to them as their enemies, is that this soil which they thus go forth to defend or to conquer does not and will not belong to them. This soil belongs to a minority of property-owners, who, sheltered from all danger, bask tranquilly in their chimney-corners, while the workers foolishly go out to slay each other, stupidly permitting themselves to take up arms for the purpose of wresting from others the soil which will serve—their masters, as a means to exploit themselves—the workers—still further. We have seen in fact that property does not belong to those who possess it: robbery, pillage, assassination, disguised under the pompous names of conquest, colonization, civilization, patriotism, have been its not least important factors. We shall not, therefore, repeat what we have already said concerning its formation; but if the workers were logical, instead of defending "the country" by fighting—other workers, they would begin by getting rid of those who command and exploit them; they would invite all the workers, of whatever nationality, to do the same, and would all unite in production and consumption at their ease. The earth is vast enough to support everybody. It is not lack of room nor the scarcity of provisions that has brought about these bloody wars in which thousands of men have cut each other's throats for the greater glory and profit of a few; on the contrary, it is these iniquitous wars to which the desires of rulers, the rivalries of the ambitious, the commercial competition of the great capitalists have given birth, which have fenced off the peoples as distinct nations, and which, in the middle ages, brought about those plagues and famines that mowed down those whom the wars had spared. [graphic]

Just at this point, however, the capitalist, and with him the gullible patriot, interrupt, exclaiming: "But if we no longer had an army the other great powers would come in and make laws for us, massacre us and impose conditions upon us still harder than those we are now subjected to." Some, even though not believing in patriotism, exclaim: " We are not patriots; certainly property is badly divided, society does need reformation; but admit with us at least that France is in the vanguard of progress. To let it be dismembered would be to permit a step backward, to lose the fruit of past struggles; for, vanquished by a despotic power, what would become of our liberties?"

Most assuredly we have -no intention at this time of tracing a line of conduct for Anarchists in case of war. Such conduct must depend upon circumstances, condition of mind, and a multitude of things which it is impossible to foresee; we desire only to treat the question from the standpoint of logic, and logic tells us that wars being enterprises for the profit of our exploiters solely, we can take no part in them.

We have seen that no matter whence authority proceeds, he who is subjected to it is always a slave. The history of the proletariat proves to us that national governments are not afraid to shoot down their "subjects" when the latter demand a few liberties. What more, then, could foreign exploiters do? Our enemy is the master, no matter to what nationality he belongs! Whatever the excuse with which a declaration of war be decorated or disguised, there can be nothing in it at bottom but a question of bourgeois interest: whether it be disputes on the subject of political precedence, commercial treaties, or the annexation of colonial countries, it is the advantage of the privileged alone—of rulers, merchants, or manufacturers,—which is at stake. The republicans of today humbug us nicely when [graphic]

they congratulate us upon the fact that their wars are no longer made in the interest of dynasties, the republic having replaced kings. Caste interest has replaced dynastic interest,—that is all; what difference does it make to the worker? Conquerors, or conquered, we shall continue to pay the tax, to die of hunger when out of work; the almshouse or the hospital will continue to be our refuge at old age. And the capitalistic class would like us to interest ourselves in their quarrels! What have we to gain by it?

As to fearing a worse condition, the stoppage of progress in case a nation should disappear, this is failing to take into account what international relations are nowadays, and the general diffusion of ideas. A nation, today, might be divided, parceled out, dismembered, its name taken away, yet you could not succeed, short of utter extermination, in changing its proper foundation, which is diversity of character and temperament, the very nature of the races composing it. And if war were declared, all these liberties, real or pretended, which are claimed as our especial lot, would be speedily suspended, the Socialist propaganda muzzled, authority reinstated in the hands of the military power; and we should no longer have anything for the most thorough absolutism to envy.

War, consequently, can bring no good to the workers; we have no interests engaged in it, nothing to defend but our skins; it is our lookout to defend them still better by not exposing ourselves to get holes put through them, for the greater profit of those who exploit and govern us. The bo2irgeoisie, on the other hand, have an interest in war; it enables them to preserve the armies which keep the people respectful, and defend their institutions; through it they can succeed in forcing the products of "their industry" on others, opening up new markets with cannon shots. They alone subscribe to the loans which war necessitates, the interest upon which we, the workers, alone pay. Let the capitalists fight themselves, then, if they want to; once more: it is no concern of ours. And, moreover, let us revolt once for all; let us endanger the privileges of the bourgeoisie, and it will not be long till we see those who preach patriotism to «j, appealing to the armies of their conquerors, be they German, Russian, or of no matter what country. They are like Voltaire, their patron: he did not believe in God, but judged that some religion was necessary to the common people; they have frontiers between their slaves, but for themselves they mock at such when their interests are at stake.

There is no " country for the man truly worthy of the name; or 'at least there is but one,—that in which he struggles for true right, in which he lives and has his affections; but it may extend over the whole earth! Humanity is not to be chucked into little pigeon-holes, wherein each is to shut himself up in his corner, regarding the rest as enemies. To the genuine individual all men are brothers and have equal rights to live and to evolve according to their own wills, upon this earth which is large enough and fruitful enough to nourish all. As to your countries by convention, the workers have no interest in them, and nothing in them to defend, consequently, on whichever side of the frontier they may chance to have been born, they should not, on that account, have any motive for mutual hatred. Instead of going on cutting each other's throats, as they have done up to the present, they ought to stretch out their hands across the frontiers and unite all their efforts in making war upon their real, their only, enemies: authority and capital.



We have shown that "the country" is a sonorous word designed to induce the workers to defend an order of things which oppresses them. We shall see now if the "love of country, this holy sentiment, this love of the soil which is born in every one," is so deeply rooted in those who nlake the declaration; whether it rises from purely subjective causes, as among the workers, or from purely material causes, from vulgar preoccupations of mercantile interests. It is among the writings especially published by themselves for their own use that we


must search for their innermost conviction. It is edifying.

To hear them when they are addressing the workers there is nothing so sacred as the country; every citizen should be ready to sacrifice his life or his liberty for the defense of the country. In fine, according to them the country represents the highest degree of the general interest; to make sacrifices for it is to sacrifice for one's own and one's self. We have only to rummage among their treatises on political economy to convict them of lying; to see that all these high-sounding phrases, these sentiments which they parade, are nothing but bluffs for the benefit of the simpletons who let themselves be duped by the like, masks which they take care to leave in the dressing-room when among their intimates. Here is what one of their political doctors, whose authority is officially recognized, says:

"It is the interest of (the governing classes, of the preponderance which they hold and for which they are indebted precisely to a continuation of the state of war, which artificially maintains that state among civilized peoples. *

> Could anything be neater? And our good capitalists, who declaim so loudly against the frightful Anarchists that have the audacity to demonstrate to the workers how their interest is antagonistic to the interests of the bourgeois class, make no mistake among themselves in properly defining this antagonism, in order to find a basis for their governmental system. But here is a still more damaging admission:

Motives or pretexts are no more lacking under the new regime than they were under the old; but under the one as under the other, the true motive of every war is always the interest of the class or party in possession of the government,—an interest which must not be confounded with that of the nation or the mass of consumers in the body politic; for as much as the governing class or party is interested in the continuation of a state of war, so much is the nation governed interested in the

maintenance of peace. f

—•-——•••—.^——• /

  • G de M'dinari, Political Evolution in the Nineteenth Century." This work must have appeared in book form since its publication in the Journal <fe» Economistes. t The name, page 70


As to the advantage which the governing class finds in the continuation of a state of war, the same author goes on to tell us:

War without implies peace within; that is to say, a period of easy government, during which the opposition is reduced to silence under pain of being accused of complicity with the enemy. And what is more desirable, above all when the opposition is troublesome and its forces nearly balance those of the government? In fact if a war be unsuccessful, it inevitably involves the downfall of the party which undertook it; but if, on the other hand, it be successful, (and it is not undertaken unless some favorable chances are assured) the party which engaged in it and carried it to a satisfactory issue, acquires, for a time, a crushing preponderance. How many motives are there, not to speak of the small profits to which it opens the way, for not letting a favorable opportunity to make war escape!" *

As to the "small profits," here is an enumeration of them:

"But, up to our own day, it has been the inferior classes, those whose influence counts the least, who have generally furnished the common soldiers. The wealthy classes have escaped by a money sacrifice; and this sacrifice, ordinarily very moderate, has been more than compensated for by the market which the state of war offered to members of the said classes, upon whom the proscription of foreigners and the obligation of passing through the military schools (access to which was, in fact, impossible to the poorer classes) ' conferred the monopoly of the remunerative offices' of the military profession. Finally if war be cruel to the conscripts who, according to the forcible popular expression, furnish ' meat for the cannon,' the departure of these impressed troops, brought up to farm labor or in the workshop, by diminishing the supply of hands has the effect of increasingwages, and thus palliating the horrors of war to those who escape military service." f

This is categorical. We see that the "sacred love" of the metaphysical entity, ' 'country, is nothing more than exploitation and "small profits; " but the avowal is complete; it is a triumphant retort to those who would object that "there is a public opinion of which the governing are forced to take account," that "a war may be just and obtain the assent of the public," that "it is wrong to declaim against war in general," that "there may be cases into which rulers are dragged in spite of themselves, and moreover that war is a consequence of the existing social state, that one may declaim against it or deplore its necessity, but that we are compelled to submit to it."

  • The same, page 63. t The same, page 68


Let us continue to quote:

Nevertheless, whatever be the power of the men who decide peace or war, and the influence of the class from which the political, administrative, and military staff is recruited, they are, as we have just observed, obliged to reckon, in a certain measure, with the much more numerous class whose interests are involved in the various branches of production, to whom war is a nuisance. Experience all the time demonstrates that the resisting force of this pacific element is in nowise proportionate to its mass. The vast majority of the men who compose it are absolutely ignorant, and ' nothing is easier than to excite their passions or lead them astray as to their interests.' The enlightend minority is less numerous; and besides, what means would these latter have of getting their opinions to prevail, in the presence of the powerful organization of the centralized State? *

Thus our capitalists do not hide from themselves the fact that they see nothing in war but a means of continuing their exploitation of the workers; the massacres which they organize serve to rid them of the surplus which encumbers the market. To them armies are created with the sole view of furnishing place and rank to those of their dependents by whom they would otherwise be importuned. To them, finally, these wars which they pompously call national, making the hollow, sounding words "country," "patriotism," "national honor," vibrate in the ears of the naive,—to them these wars are but pretexts for "small profits."

War upon small profits! War upon all the wars undertaken in the name of the country " or " civilization "!! For now that patriotism is beginning to decline, this new mockery— "civilization"—is used a great deal in launching the workers

  • The same, page 68.


on a crusade against inoffensive peoples whom the capitalists would exploit and whose sole offense consists in being behindhand in reaching that degree of development which we have agreed to call present civilization.

Ostensibly it is to punish a band of imaginary marauders and secure our national preponderance that wars like the expedition to Tunis are undertaken, while the real object is to open up a new country to the rotten financial operations of a few dubious schemers; it is to secure a free field to these parasites upon the social revenue that the money wrung from the workers by taxation is expended in armaments; it is to realize "small profits" from the offices created in the conquered countries that these new markets, which enable the capitalists to get rid of their stale products, are opened with cannon shots, that a robust youth is impoverished, that a multitude of young men is sent to perish in an unaccustomed climate or be massacred by people who, after all, are at home, and are only defending what belongs to them.

War upon these "small profits," these expeditions to Senegal, Tonquin, the Congo, Madagascar, forever being undertaken in the name of civilization, which has nothing to do with such expeditions, that are brigandage, pure and simple! We exalt patriotism at home, and shoot or decapitate, as brigands or pirates, those who are guilty of nothing but defending the soil on which they live, or of having revolted against those who have imposed their rulership upon them in order to exploit and enslave them! *

But we shall have to return to this question in a special chapter upon colonization; let us confine ourselves for the moment to the patriotism of the governing classes. Recent events have laid it bare in all its hideous reality. The secrets of our armaments and defenses betrayed, through the complicity of the employees of the bureau of the minister of war; the most disgraceful intrigues, operating with this whirlpool of billions to the detriment of the taxpayers' pocketbooks and the security of

  • These exploits have a worthy counterpart in the present brutal war of the Americans against the Filipinos.—Pboofreadeb.