The Philosophy of Progress/First Letter
Usus et impigra simnl riperimentia mentit
Paulatim docuit pedelentim progredientes.
Lucretius, De naturâ rerum, ib. v
FIRST LETTEROF THE IDEA OF PROGRESS
Before reporting to the public on my various publications, you wish, for greater exactness, to ask me how I envision the whole, how I understand the unity and the connections.
This desire on your part, sir, could not be more legitimate, and the question is as just as it is fair. There is no doctrine where there is no unity, and I would not merit an hour of investigation, as a thinker or as a revolutionary, it there was not something in the multitude of propositions, which are sometimes very disparate, which I have by turns sustained and denied, something which connects them and forms from them a body of doctrine. In times past, one asked a man,  wandering far from his home: What is your God? What is your religion?... It is the least that one could demand of a newcomer, to know what, in the last instance, is his principle.
I do not know how to thank you enough, sir, for that high impartiality, for that good faith in critique, which makes you seek before everything else, not the weakness of the writer, — it is only too apparent, — but his true thought, the exact value of his assertions. In all judicial operations it is necessary, before pronouncing the sentence, to listen to the defendant: the most just judgment is that which results from the testimony and confessions of the accused.
I am going, sir, to try to satisfy your demand, or, rather, I am going to give myself up, bound hands and feet, to your justice, by presenting to you here, not a defense, but a general confession. Take me then, if you can, by my testimony. I will not have the right to appeal your sentence.
That which dominates all my studies, its principle and end, its summit and base, in a word, its reason; that which gives the key to all my controversies, all my disquisitions, all my lapses; that which constitutes, finally, my originality as a thinker, if I may claim such, is that I affirm, resolutely and irrevocably, in all and everywhere, Progress, and that I deny, no less resolutely, the Absolute.
All that I have ever written, all that I have denied, affirmed, attacked, combated, I have written, I have denied or affirmed in the name of one single idea: Progress. My adversaries, on the contrary, and you will soon see if they are numerous,  are all partisans of the absolute, in omni génère, casu et numero, as Sganarelle said.
What then is Progress? — For nearly a century everyone has talked about it, without Progress, as a doctrine, having advanced a step. The word is mouthed: the theory is still at the point where Lessing left it.<ref>The idea of Progress is not new. It had not escaped the ancients. (See de l'Idée du Progrès, by Javery, 1 vol. in-8", Orléans, 1850.) Plato and the stoics, Aristotle, Cicero and a crowd of others, without counting the poets and mythologists, clearly understood it. Among the moderns, it was expressed by Pascal, and sung, as it were, by Bossuet, in his Discours sur l'histoire universelle, composed in the imitation of Daniel et de Florus. It was reproduced, with new force, by Lessing, served as motto for the sect of the Illuminati of Weisshaupt, and made, in the epoch of the French Revolution, the originality of Condorcet. But it is above all in our century that it has been posited with brilliance. All the socialistic schools have invoked it as the principle of their critique, and up to a certain point have made it a part of their systems. One knows the historical division of Saint-Simon: Theocracy, Feudalism or governmentalism, Industry; — that of August Comte, Religion, Metaphysics or philosophy, and Positivism; — that of Fourier, Édenism, Savagery, Patriarchy, Barbary, Civilization, Garanteeism, Harmony. Progress has served Pierre Leroux to rejuvenate the dogma of metempsychosis, and, an even stranger thing, Bûchez believes he has found there the last word of catholicism. It would be useless to enumerate, not just all the writers, but all the theories, all the sects and schools which are prevailed over by the idea of Progress. Democracy in its turn has taken hold of it, without suspecting that such an acquisition was as incompatible with its official doctrines as with theology itself. We have not forgotten the Revue du Progrès, that Louis Blanc composed until around 1840. Very recently, another democratic writer, Eugène Pelletan, has taken it for the subject of a publication which lacks, it is said, neither philosophy nor interest. Under the name of Liberté absolue, it is still Progress that is affirmed by the editor in chief of la Presse, M. de Girardin. Finally, there are none even among our most bitter conservatives who do not claim Progress: in their language, Progress, opposed to the Revolution, indicates a movement so slow that it is the equivalent of stasis.
Despite all these studies, it can be said that Progress remains within philosophy in the state of a simple phenomenon: as a principle, it has not entered into the speculation. It is yet neither a truth nor a mere error. As long as it had been conceived as the very being of beings, one had hardly seen there anything but an accident of creation, or a march of society towards a culminating and definitive state, that each had tried to predict or describe, according to his individual aspirations, in the fashion of the legislators and utopists in all eras.</ref> 
What is the Absolute, or, to better designate it, Absolutism? — Everyone repudiates it, nobody wants it anymore; and yet I can say that everyone is Christian, protestant, Jew or atheist, monarchist or democrat, communist or Malthusian: everyone, blaspheming against Progress, is allied to the Absolute.
If then I could once put my finger on the opposition that I put between these two ideas, and explain what I mean by Progress and what I consider Absolute, I would have given you the principle, secret and key to all my polemics. You would possess the logical link between all of my ideas, and you could, with that notion alone, become for you an infallible criterion with regard to me, not only estimate the ensemble of my publications, but forecast and signal in advance the propositions that sooner or later I must affirm or deny, the doctrines of which I will have to make myself the defender or adversary. You would be able, I say, to evaluate and judge all my theses by what I have said and by what I do not know. You would know me, intus et in cute, such as I am, such as I have been all my life, and such as I would find myself in a thousand years, if I could live a thousand years: the man whose  thought always advances, whose program will never be finished. And at whatever moment in my career you would come to know me, whatever conclusion you could come to regarding me, you would always have either to absolve me in the name of Progress, or to condemn me in the name of the Absolute.
Progress, in the purest sense of the word, which is the least empirical, is the movement of the idea, processus; it is innate, spontaneous and essential movement, uncontrollable and indestructible, which is to the mind what gravity is to matter. (I suppose with the vulgar that mind and matter, leaving aside movement, are something), and which manifests itself principally in the march of societies, in history.)
From this it follows that, the essence of mind being movement, truth, -- which is to say reality, as much in nature as in civilization, -- is essentially historical, subject to progressions, conversions, evolutions and metamorphoses. There is nothing fixed and eternal but the very laws of movement, the study of which forms the object of logic and mathematics.
The vulgar, that is the majority of the savants as well as the ignorant, understand Progress in an entirely utilitarian and material sense. The accumulation of discoveries, multiplication of machines, increase in general well-being, all by the greatest extension of education and improvement of methods; in a word, augmentation of material and moral wealth, the participation of an always greater number of men in the pleasures of fortune and of the mind: such is for them, more or less, Progress. Certainly, Progress is this as well, and the progressive philosophy would be short-sighted and bear little fruit, if in its speculations it began by putting aside the physical, moral and intellectual improvement of the most numerous  and poorest class, as Saint-Simon's formulas said. But all of that only gives us a restricted expression of Progress, an image, a symbol, (how shall I say it?) a product: philosophically, such a notion of Progress is without value.
Progress, once more, is the affirmation of universal movement, consequently the negation every immutable form and formula, of every doctrine of eternity, permanence, impeccability, etc., applied to any being whatever; it is the negation of every permanent order, even that of the universe, and of every subject or object, empirical or transcendental, which does not change.
The Absolute, or absolutism, is, on the contrary, the affirmation of all that Progress denies, the negation of all that it affirms. It is the study, in nature, society, religion, politics, morals, etc., of the eternal, the immutable, the perfect, the definitive, the unconvertible, the undivided; it is, to use a phrase made famous in our parliamentary debates, in all and everywhere, the status quo. <ref>Why is despotic government also called absolute? It is not only because the prince or despot puts his will above the will of the nation nation, his good pleasure in the place of the law.
Personality and arbitrariness in power are only a consequence of absolutism. Government is called absolute, first because it is in its nature to concentrate, either in a single man, in a committee or an assembly, a multiplicity of attributions, the essence of which is to be separated or seriated, according to a logical deduction; in the second place, because once that concentration is carried out, all movement or Progress becomes impossible in the State, and thus in the nation. Are the kings not called the representatives of God?... It is because they affect, like that alleged absolute being, universality, eternity and immutability. — The people, on the contrary, all division and movement, are the incarnation of Progress. This is why democracy is averse to authority: it returns to it only by delegation, middle term between liberty and absolutism.</ref>
Descartes, reasoning unconsciously according to the prejudices of the old metaphysics, and seeking an unshakable foundation for philosophy, an aliquid inconcussum, as it was said, imagined that he had found it in the self, and posited this principle: I think, therefore I am; Cogito, ergo sum. Descartes did not realize that his base, supposedly immobile, was mobility itself. Cogito, I think, these words express movement; and the conclusion, according to the original sense of the verb to be, sum, ειναι, ou חיח, (haïah), is still movement. He should have said: Moveor, ergo fio, I move, therefore I become!
From that double and contradictory definition of progress and the absolute is first deduced, as a corollary, a proposition quite strange to our minds, which have been shaped for so long by absolutism: it is that the truth in all things, the real, the positive, the practicable, is what changes, or at least is susceptible to progression, conciliation, transformation; while the false, the fictive, the impossible, the abstract, is everything that presents itself as fixed, entire, complete, unalterable, unfailing, not susceptible to modification, conversion, augmentation or diminution, resistant as a consequence to all superior combination, to all synthesis.
So the notion of Progress is provided to us immediately and before all experience, not what one calls a criterion, but, as Bossuet says, a favorable prejudice, by means of which it is possible to distinguish, in practice, that which it may be useful to undertake and pursue, from that which may become dangerous and deadly, — an important thing for the government of the State and of commerce. 
Indeed, among the many projects of amelioration and reform which are produced daily in society, it is unquestionable that some are found useful and desirable, while others are not. Now, before experience has decided, how can one recognize, a priori, the better from the worse, the practical thing from the false speculation? How do you choose, for example, between property and communism, federalism and centralization, direct government by the people and dictatorship, universal suffrage and divine right?... These questions are all the more difficult since there is no lack of examples of legislators and of societies that have taken for a rule one or the other of these principles, and since all the contraries find their justification equally in history.
For me, the response is simple. All ideas are false, that is to say contradictory and irrational, if one takes them in an exclusive and absolute sense, or if one allows oneself to be carried away by that sense; all are true, susceptible to realization and use, if one takes them together with others, or in evolution.
Thus, whether you take for the dominant law of the Republic, either property, like the Romans, or communism, like Lycurgus, or centralization, like Richelieu, or universal suffrage, like Rousseau, -- whatever principle you choose, since in your thought it takes precedence over all the others, -- your system is erroneous. There is a fatal tendency to absorption, to purification, exclusion, stasis, leading to ruin. There is not a revolution in human history which could not be easily explained by this.
On the contrary, if you admit in principle that every realization, in society and in nature, results from the combination of opposed elements and their movement,  your course is plotted: every proposition which aims, either to advance an overdue idea, or to procure a more intimate combination, a superior agreement, is advantageous for you, and is true. It is in-progress.
For example, moral philosophy and the experience of societies has not pronounced in a definitive manner on the question of whether or not, in a perfected legislation, divorce is allowed. One never fails to cite in this connection the examples of the Romans, the Greeks, and the Orientals, the sentiments of the Greek Church and the Reformed Church, the authority of Moses and of Jesus Christ himself. Before that mass of testimonies, one asks what the opinion of France, and of other countries ruled by catholic discipline, matters. — I admit, for myself, that I am not much moved by that argumentation, which it would be as easy to make serve in the defense of polygamy, indeed even of promiscuity. The ancient socialists, like several among the moderns, did not abstain from this. I do not ask myself what has been in past centuries, and what is still in most nations, the state of woman, in order to deduce by comparison what it would be suitable to bring about among us; I seek that which is on its way to becoming. Is the tendency to dissolution or to indissolubility? That is the question for me. Now, it appears obvious to me, independent of considerations of domestic interests, morals, dignity, justice, even happiness, that one can assert here that Latin monogamy, sustained and ennobled by Catholicism, shows a triumphant tendency to indissolubility; it appears to me that the Greek church has remained stationary on this point, that the Protestant church has been retrograde, and that the French code, with its exceptions for nullity, is still the most advanced expression of Progress.  Let us add that the question of divorce, resolved in the affirmative, would imply a similar retrogradation of the whole political and social order, since at the end of the question of divorce there is another question of inequality, as one has seen from the Saint-Simonian theory. It is this that I call a favorable prejudice; since, for me, to ask if we will introduce divorce into our laws, is to ask implicitly if we will return to feudalism by capitalism, if government will be despotic or liberal, in short, if we will be progressive or reactionary.
Such is then, in my opinion, the rule of our conduct and our judgments: it is that there are degrees to existence, to truth and to the good, and that the utmost is nothing other than the march of being, the agreement between the largest number of terms, while pure unity and stasis is equivalent to nothingness; it is that every idea, every doctrine that secretly aspires to prepotency and immutability, which aims to eternalize itself, which flatters itself that it gives the last formula of liberty and reason, which consequently conceals, in the folds of its dialectic, exclusion and intolerance; which claims to be true in itself, unalloyed, absolute, eternal, in the manner of a religion, and without consideration for any other; that idea, which denies the movement of mind and the classification things, is false and fatal, and more, it is incapable of being constituted in reality. This is why the Christian church, founded on an allegedly divine and immutable order, has never been able to establish itself in the strictness of its principle; why the monarchic charters, always leaving too much latitude to innovation and liberty, are always insufficient; why, on the contrary, the Constitution of 1848, in spite of the drawbacks with which it abounds, is still the best and  truest of all the political constitutions. While the others obstinately posit themselves in the Absolute, only the Constitution of 1848 has proclaimed its own revision, its perpetual reformability.<ref>Absolute government is thus, a priori, impossible. Also, the crime of the despots is much less in the perpetration of their idea than in their will to commit it: it is that powerless will which makes the liberticide.</ref>
With this understood, and the notion of Progress or universal movement introduced into the understanding, admitted into the republic of ideas, facing its antagonist the Absolute, everything changes in appearance for the philosopher. The world of mind, like that of nature, seems turned on its head: logic and metaphysics, religion, politics, economics, jurisprudence, morals, and art all appear with a new physiognomy, revolutionized from top to bottom. What the mind had believed true until this time becomes false; that which it had rejected as false become true. The influence of the new notion making itself felt by all, and more each day, there soon results a confusion which seems inextricable to superficial observers, and like the symptom of a general folly. In the interregnum which separates the new regime of Progress from the old regime of the Absolute, and during the period while intelligences pass from one to the other, consciousness hesitates and stumbles between its traditions and its aspirations; and as few people know how to distinguish the double passion that they obey, to separate what they affirm or deny in accordance with their belief in the Absolute from that which they deny or affirm in accordance with their support for Progress, there results for society, from that effervescence of all the fundamental notions, a pell-mell of opinions and interest, a battle of parties, where  civilization would soon be spoiled, if light did not manage to make itself seen in the void.
Such is the situation that France finds itself in, not only since the revolution of February, but since that of 1789; a situation for which I blame, up to a certain point, the philosophers, the publicists, all those who, having a mission to instruct the people and form opinion, have not seen, or have not wanted to see, that the idea of Progress being from now on universally accepted,-- having acquired rights from the bourgeoisie, not only in the schools, but even in the temples,--and raised finally to the category of reason, the old representations of things, natural as well as social, are corrupted, and that it is necessary to construct anew, by means of that new lamp of the understanding, science and the laws.
Dimsit lucem à tenebris! Separation of positive ideas, constructed on the notion of Progress, from the more or less utopian theories that suggest the Absolute: such is, sir, the general thought which guides me. Such is my principle, my idea itself, that which makes the base and the links in all my judgments. It will be easy for me to show how, in all my controversies, I have thought to obey it: you will say if I have been faithful.
Thus I maintain, and it is one of my most unshakable convictions, that with the notion of Progress all our old Aristotelian logic, all that school dialectic is valueless, and that we must rid ourselves of it most quickly, or else talk nonsense all our lives. What one takes for reasoning today, a melange of absolutist and progressive ideas,  is only a fortuitous or arbitrary association of ideas, a brilliant amphigory, a precious or sentimental phébus. I will not cite examples to you: our contemporary literature, from the point of view of ideas, and setting aside the question of form, is, in my judgment, only an immense waste. No one understands his neighbor or himself any more, and if sometimes, in party affairs particularly, some seem to enter into agreement, it is because some residue of prejudice makes them repeat the same words and phrases, without attaching the same meaning to them. Since the notion of Progress has slipped into minds, the Absolute having preserved most of the positions, chaos is in all heads; and as Progress, to some degree, imposes itself on all with an invincible force, the most insane is still the one who, in believing himself rid of it, pretends not to be mad.
I have done what I could, insofar as my strength allowed, no doubt with more goodwill that aptitude, to shed a bit of light on these darknesses: it is not up to me to say to what extent I have succeeded, but here is, more or less, how I have proceeded.
Movement exists: this is my fundamental axiom. To say how I acquired the notion of movement would be to say how I think, how I am. It is a question to which I have the right not to respond. Movement is the primitive fact that is revealed at once by experience and reason. I see movement and I sense it; I see it outside of me, and I sense it in me; if I see it outside of me, it is because I sense it in me, and vice versa. The idea of movement is thus given at once by the senses and the understanding; by the senses, since in order to have the idea of movement it is necessary to have seen it; by the understanding, since movement itself, though sensible, is nothing real,  and since all that the senses reveal in movement is that the same body which just a moment ago was in a certain place is at the next instant in another.
In order that I may have an idea of movement, it is necessary that a special faculty, what I call the senses, and another faculty that I call the understanding, agree in my consciousness to furnish it to me: this is all that I can say about the mode of that acquisition. In other words, I discover movement outside because I sense it inside; and I sense it because I see it: at base the two faculties are only one; the inside and the outside are two faces of a single activity, it is impossible for me to go further.
The idea of movement obtained, all the others are deduced from it, intuitions as well as conceptions. It is a wrong, in my opinions, that among the philosophers, some, such as Locke and Condillac, have claimed to account for all the ideas with the aid of the senses; others, such as Plato and Descartes, deny the intervention of the senses, and explain everything by innateness; the most reasonable finally, with Kant at their head, make a distinction between the ideas, and explain some by the relation of the senses, and the others by the activity of the understanding. For me, all our ideas, whether intuitions or conceptions, come from the same source, the simultaneous, conjoint, adequate, and at base identical action of the senses and the understanding.
Thus, every intuition or sensible idea is the apperception of a composition, and is itself a composition: now, every composition, whether it exists in nature or it results from an operation of the mind, is the product of a movement. If we were not ourselves a motive power and, at the same time, a receptivity, we would not see objects, because we would be incapable  of examining them, of restoring diversity to their unity, as Kant said.
Every conception, on the contrary, indicates an analysis of movement, which is itself still a movement, which I demonstrate in the following manner:
Every movement supposes a direction, A → B. That proposition is furnished, a priori, by the very notion of movement. The idea of direction, inherent in the idea of movement, being acquired, the imagination takes hold of it and divides it into two terms: A, the side from which movement comes, and B, the side where it goes. These two terms given, the imagination summarizes them in these two others, point of departure and point of arrival, otherwise, principle and aim. Now, the idea of a principle or aim is only a fiction or conception of the imagination, an illusion of the senses. A thorough study shows that there is not, nor could there be, a principle or aim, nor beginning or end, to the perpetual movement which constitutes the universe. These two ideas, purely speculative on our part, indicate in things nothing more than relations. To accord any reality to these notions is to make for oneself a willful illusion.
From that double concept, of commencement or principle, and of aim or end, all the others are deduced. Space and time are two ways of conceiving the interval which separates the two terms assumed from movement, point of departure and point of arrival, principle and aim, beginning and end. Considered in themselves, time and space, notions equally objective or subjective, but essentially analytic, are, because of the analysis which gave rise to them, nothing, less than nothing; they have value only according to the sum of movement or of existence that they are supposed to contain, so that, according to the proportion of movement or existence that it contains, a point can be worth an infinity, and an instant eternity.  I treat the idea of cause in the same way: it is still a product of analysis, which, after having made us suppose in movement a principle and a goal, leads us to conclude by supposing further, by a new illusion of empiricism, that the first is the generator of the second, much as in the father we see the author or the cause of his children. But it is always only a relation illegitimately transformed into reality: there is not, in the universe, a first, second, or last cause; there is only one single current of existences. Movement is: that is all. What we call cause or force is only, like that which we call principle, author or motor, a face of movement, the face A; while the effect, the product, the motive, the aim or the end, is face B. In the ensemble of existences, that distinction has no more place: the sum of causes is identical and adequate to the sum of effects, which is the very negation of both. Movement or, as the theologians say, creation, is the natural state of the universe.
From the idea of movement, I further deduce, and always by the same analytic method, the concepts of unity, of plurality, of same and of other, which in turn lead me to those of subject and object, of mind and matter, etc., to which I will return soon.
It is thus that with the help of a single notion, of which I admit, furthermore, the impenetrability, because it is existence itself and life, with the notion, I say, of movement and of Progress, I can account for the formation of ideas, and explain all intuitions and conceptions, the former by way of of composition, the latter by way of analysis. This is not, I imagine, the route that has been followed up to now by the philosophers who have speculated about movement: but for that, they would have long ago made an application of their method to social practice; a long time ago they  would have revolutionized the world. For such is the theory of ideas, and such is the economy of the human race.
The theory of ideas leads me to that of reasoning.
From the moment that I conceive of movement as the essence of nature and of mind, it follows first that reasoning, or the art of classifying ideas, is a certain evolution, a history, or, as I have sometimes called it, a series. From this it follows that the syllogism, for example, the king of arguments of the ancient school, has only a hypothetical, conventional and relative value: it is a truncated series, proper only to produce the most innocent babble about the world, by those who do not do not know how to return it to its fullness, by bringing about its full reconstruction.
What I say about the syllogism, must be said about the baconian induction, the dilemma, and all the ancient dialectic.
The induction, remaining sterile in the hands of the philosophers, despite the declaration of Bacon, would return as the instrument of invention and the happiest formula for truth, if it was conceived, no longer as a sort of syllogism taken in reverse, but as the complete description of a movement of the mind, inverse to that indicated by the syllogism, and traced, just as in the syllogism, by a small number of marks.
The dilemma, considered the strongest of arguments, would no longer be considered anything but a weapon of bad faith, the dagger of the brigand who attacks you in the shadow, from the back and from the front, to the extent that it has not been rectified  by the theory of the antinomy, the most elementary form and simplest composition of movement.
But that is not all that reform of the dialectical instruments bears upon. It is still necessary to know, and never to lose from view, that even the most authentic and most certain method of reasoning, cannot always, by itself, lead to a complete distinction of truth. It is, I have said elsewhere, in the classification of ideas as in that of animals and plants, as in the operations of mathematics themselves. In the two kingdoms, animal and vegetable, the genera and species are not everywhere and always susceptible to a precise determination; they are well defined only in the individuals placed at the extremities of the series; the intermediaries, compared to those, are often unclassifiable. The more one prolongs the analysis, the more one sees spring up, from the observation of characteristics, reasons for and against any given classification. It is the same in arithmetic, in those divisions where the dividend, extended to as many decimal places as you like, can never be resolved in an exact quotient. It is thus with ideas, and all those who have scanned the treatises of jurisprudence, who have occupied themselves with trials and with proceedings, have felt it; ideas, I say, are not always, whatever subtlety of dialectic we employ, completely determinable; there is a mass of cases where the elucidation will always leave something to be desired. And as if all kinds of difficulties come together to torment the dialectician and drive the philosopher to despair, it is never on the doubtful cases that the mass of humans hesitate and divide: by a strange caprice, they only battle and dispute the best demonstrated solutions...
In short, and to conclude this article, I say, I affirm that ancient method of ratiocination on  which philosophy has subsisted up to the present, and in which our generation has been raised, is from now on proven false, that it is all the more false and pernicious as it admits today, into its old arsenal, a new instrument of war, Progress: from which I conclude that our logic must as soon as possible be reformed by the construction of that new idea, under penalty of infamy and suicide.
If from logic and the dialectic we pass to ontology, we meet, after the introduction of the idea of Progress, impossibilities no less numerous and no less grave, which arise from analogous observations, and call for the same reform.
All that our treatises of physics, chemistry, and natural history contain of general ideas about the body, just as on the intelligence, is pulled from the speculations of Aristotle, Abelard, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, etc., what one called in the Middle Ages, universals and categories: Substance, cause, mind, matter, body, soul, etc. One single notion, the most important, has not furnished its contingent, Progress.
Doubtless, one no longer speaks to us of occult qualities, of entities, quiddities, of the horror of the void, etc. All of that has disappeared from ontology, but are we more advanced? Is it not true that all our scientists, without exception, the same as our psychologists, are still, willy-nilly, dualists, pantheists, atomists, vitalists, materialists, mystics even, partisans finally of all the systems, of all the dreams to which the old ontology gave birth?...
I cannot prevent myself from noting in passing the illusion  which, for so many centuries, has made the philosophers reel off so many ontological absurdities.
The condition of all existence, after movement, is unquestionably unity; but what is the nature of that unity? If we should consult the theory of Progress, it responds that the unity of all being is essentially synthetic, that it is a unity of composition.<ref>Protagoras says: There is nothing except in relation to something else. The one is thus only a hypothesis; the self is not a being: it is a fact, a phenomenon, and that is all.</ref> Thus the idea of movement, primordial idea of all intelligence, is synthetic, since, as we have just seen, it resolves itself analytically into two terms, that we have represented by this figure, A → B. Similarly, and for greater reason, all the ideas, intuitions or images that we receive from objects are synthetic in their unity: they are combinations of movements, varied and complicated to infinity, but convergent and single in their collectivity.
That notion of the one, at once empirical and intellectual, condition of all reality and existence, has been confused with that of the simple, which results from the series or algebraic expression of movement, and, like cause cause and effect, principle and aim, beginning and end, is only a conception of the mind, and represents nothing real and true.
It is from this simplism that all of the alleged science of being, ontology, has been deduced.
It has been said that the cause is simple; — consequently the subject is simple, and mind, the highest expression of the cause of the self, is equally simple.
But as Leibniz observed, if the cause is simple, the product of that cause must still be simple, there is  monad. If the subject is simple, the object that it creates to oppose to itself, it cannot not be simple, thus the matter is simple as well: this is the atom.
Let us draw the consequence: cause and the effect, the self and the non-self, mind and matter, all these speculative simplicities that analysis derives from the single and synthetic notion of movement, are pure conceptions of the understanding; neither bodies nor souls exist, neither creator nor created, and the universe is a chimera. If the author of the monadology had been in good faith, he would have concluded thus, with Pyrrho, Barclay, Hume and the others.
Thus the system of the monads, despite all the genius of its author, has remained without partisans: it was too clear. Witness the poverty, or cowardice, of human reason! We have preserved, as articles of faith, the simplicity of cause, the simplicity of the self, the simplicity of mind, but we have affirmed the composition of creatures and the divisibility of matter: it is on this strange compromise that rests the ontology of the moderns, their psychology, and their theodicy!...
With the idea of movement or progress, all these systems, founded on the categories of substance, causality, subject, object, spirit, matter, etc., fall, or rather explain themselves away, never to reappear again. The notion of being can no longer be sought in an invisible something, whether spirit, body, atom, monad, or what-have-you. It ceases to be simplistic and become synthetic: it is no longer the conception, the fiction of an indivisible, unmodifiable, intransmutable (etc.) je ne sais quoi: intelligence, which first posits a synthesis, before attacking it by analysis, admits nothing of the sort a priori. It knows what substance and force are, in themselves; it does not take its elements for realities, since, by the law of the constitution of the mind, the  reality disappears, while it seeks to resolve it into its elements. All that reason knows and affirms is that the being, as well as the idea, is a group.
Just as in logic the idea of movement or progress translates into that other, the series, so, in ontology, it has as a synonym the group. Everything that exists is grouped; everything that forms a group is one. Consequently, it is perceptible, and, consequently, it is. The more numerous and varied the elements and relations which combine in the formation of the group, the more centralizing power will be found there, and the more reality the being will obtain. Apart from the group there are only abstractions and phantoms. The living man is a group, like the plant or the crystal, but of a higher degree than those others; he is more living, more feeling, and more thinking to the degree that his organs, secondary groups, are in a more perfect agreement with one another, and form a more extensive combination. I no longer consider that self, what I call my soul,<ref>We know that the original meaning of the words soul and spirit is breath, respiration. It is according to this material image that the ancients conceived their pneumatology, which placed the soul in the lungs, and quite logically denied it to stones and plants, since they could not be seen to breathe. Later, in its turn, flame became the term of comparison, and the soul was lodged in the blood. The blood of an animal is its soul, says the Bible. Descartes put it in the pineal gland.
It is astonishing that the discoveries of modern physics have not led to a more radical revolution in pneumatology. All bodies radiating caloric, light and electricity, all are in a state of perpetual absorption and exudation, all are penetrated and enveloped by a fluid with it normally invisible, but which sometimes becomes apparent, as in combustion, electrical discharge, the aurora borealis, etc. It is by this fluid, that we like to consider the soul of the world, that bodies act on one another, attract, repulse and combine with one another, pass in to the solid, liquid or gaseous state.
What prevents us from saying that the human soul is also a fluid, formed from the combination of several others, as the flesh and bone are composed of various elements, which envelops and penetrates the body, courses through the nerves, makes the blood circulate, which puts us, at a distance, in more or less intimate relations with our fellows, and by that communication creates superior groups, or new natures?...
If we push that study as far as one would like, we will never see, ourselves, in all these fluid manifestations, -- even supposing them as free of error, of charlatanism and of superstition as the most rigorous science can demand, -- anything but analytic or symmetric speculations on being, its attributes and its faculties. The transcendent existence, to our eyes, is not that of supposed spirits or aromas which, separated from their bodies, are as chimerical as time or space would be separated from the idea of movement; it is the sensible, intelligent and moral man; it is above all the human group, Society.</ref>  as a monad, governing, from the sublimity of its so-called spiritual nature, other monads, injuriously considered material: these school distinctions seem senseless to me. I do not occupy myself with that caput mortuum of beings, solid, liquid, gas or fluid, that the doctors pompously call substance; I do not even know, as much as I am inclined to suppose it, if there is something which responds to the word substance. Pure substance, reduced to its simplest expression, absolutely amorphous, and which one could quite happily call the pantogene, since all things come from it, if I cannot exactly say that it is nothing, appears to my reason as if it was not; it is equal to nothing. It is the mathematical point, which has no length, no size, no depth, and which nonetheless gives birth to all geometric figures. I consider in each being only its composition, its unity, its properties, its faculties, so that I restore  all to a single reason,--variable, susceptible to infinite elevation,--the group.<ref>Modern science confirms that definition of being. The more that physics and chemistry advance, the more they dematerialize, and tend to constitute themselves on purely mathematical notions.</ref>
It is following that conception of being in general, and in particular of the human self, that I believe it possible to prove the positive reality, and up to a certain point to demonstrate the ideas (the laws) of the social self or humanitary group, and to ascertain and show, above and beyond our individual existence, the existence of a superior individuality of the collective man, an existence that philosophy could not even suspect before, because, following its ontological concepts, it was absolutely incapable of conceiving it.
According to some, society is the juxtaposition of similar individuals, each sacrificing a part of their liberty, so as to be able, without harming one another, to remain juxtaposed, and live side by side in peace. Such is the theory of Rousseau: it is the system of governmental arbitrariness, not, it is true, as that arbitrariness is the deed of a prince or tyrant, but, what is much more serious, in that it is the deed of the multitude, the product of universal suffrage. Depending on whether it suits the multitude, or those who prompt it, to tighten more or less the social ties, to give more or less development to local and individual liberties, the alleged Social Contract can go from the direct and fragmented government of the people all the way to caesarism, from  relations of simple proximity to the community of goods and gains, women and children. All that history and the imagination can suggest of extreme license and extreme servitude is deduced with an ease and logical rigor equal to the societary theory of Rousseau.
According to others, and these despite their scientific appearance seem to me hardly more advanced, society, the moral person, reasoning being, pure fiction, is only the development, among the masses, of the phenomena of individual organization, so that knowledge of the individual gives immediately knowledge of society, and politics resolves itself into physiology and hygiene. But what is social hygiene? It is apparently, for each member of society, a liberal education, a varied instruction, a lucrative function, a moderate labor, a comfortable regime: now, the question is precisely how to procure for ourselves all of that!
For me, following the notions of movement, progress, series and group, of which ontology is compelled from now on to take account, and the various findings that economics and history furnish on the question, I regard society, the human group, as a being sui generis, constituted by the fluid relations and economic solidarity of all the individuals, of the nation, of the locality or corporation, or of the entire species; which individuals circulate freely among one another, approaching one another, joining together, dispersing in turn in all directions; — a being which has its own functions, alien to our individuality, its own ideas which it communicates to us, its judgments which do not at all resemble ours, its will in diametrical opposition with our instincts, its life, which is not that of the animal or the  plant, although it finds analogies there; — a being, finally, who, starting from nature, seems the God of nature, the powers and laws of which it expresses to a superior (supernatural) degree. <ref>"Man is only a fragment of being: the true being is the collective being, Humanity, which does not die, which, in its unity, develops unceasingly, receiving from each of its members the product of its own activity, and communicating to it, according to the measure in which it can participate, the product of the activity of all: a body of which the growth has no assignable end, which, following the immutable laws of it conservation and evolution, distributes life to the various organs which perpetually renew it, by perpetually renewing themselves." (De la Société première et de ses lois, by Lamennais, 1848.)
Who would not believe, after having read this passage where the objective, organic, personal reality of the collective being is affirmed with all the energy and propriety of expression of which the language is capable, that the author was going to give the anatomy, physiology, psychology, etc., of society? But Lamennais is a great poet and not much of a naturalist. The metaphor returns to the divine; and while he believes he only makes an allegory, he posits, unknowningly, a real being of which he is unaware. After having spoken as a humanitary philosopher of the collective being, M.. de Lamennais returns to seeking the laws of society in theology; he analyzes the dogmas of the Trinity and of Grace, and falls again into the intellectual void, proper to the mystics and the phraseologists.
I could cite still other writers who, like Lamennais, seem to have touched the reality of the social being, and speak in the finest terms of its soul, of its genius, of its passions, of its ideas, of its acts, etc. But one quickly perceives that all of that is only figure and verbiage on their part; there is not a fact, not an observation, which testifies that they have understood their own words. It is like the style of those economists, whom one would judge, to read them, disciples of Babœuf or of Cabet, but that one soon recognizes, by their anti-socialist protestations, for the most hypocritical and most insipid of chatterboxes.</ref>
Similar doctrines, I know, when they  do not claim a revelation from on high, can establish themselves on the facts alone. Also, it is with the aid of the facts, nothing but the facts, not arguments, that I think I can demonstrate that superior existence, true incarnation of the universal soul... But, while waiting for the facts to be produced, it can be useful to recall certain consequences which have already been produced, concerning the questions, insoluble in the previous state of philosophy, which agitate at this moment the consciousness of the peoples.
Let us speak then of religion, of that respectable faith, towards which the unbelieving still know only how to express contempt, the believer to form only wishes, and in order to summarize in a word all that matter, tackle the problem of Divinity. Here again I find myself placed on new terrain, where the idea of Progress comes to reform all that which has been written and taught by the learned, in the name of the Absolute.
I observe first, something which everyone knows today, that is it with the theological question as with the question of politics; that it is essentially mobile and oscillating by nature, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller in its variations, without, in any of its positions, ever being able to settle or satisfy the mind. The philosopher launched in the pursuit of the divine being is continually led from one hypothesis to another, from fetishism to polytheism, from that to monotheism, from monotheism to deism, then to pantheism, then to idealism, to nihilism, in order to begin again with materialism, fetishism, etc. It is thus that for the man who seeks social order by way of authority, reason is  drawn invincibly from absolute monarchy to constitutional monarchy, from that to an oligarchic or qualified republic, from oligarchy to democracy, from democracy to anarchy, from anarchy to dictatorship, to begin again with absolute monarchy, and thus in succession, perpetually. That necessity of transitions without end, which had been so clearly perceived, with regard to the political question, by Aristotle, and which has been established in our own day, with regard to the religious question, by the German philosophy, is perhaps the only positive conquest of philosophy, forced to recognize, by the testimony of its greatest writers, that even in the circle of its absolutist categories, the mind is always in movement.
That circular course of the mind on the two questions which interest society to the highest degree, religion and government, established beyond doubt, I ask myself if this does not come from some metaphysical illusion, and in that case, what correction is it necessary to make?
Now, in looking more closely, I find that all that has been written about the Supreme Being, from Orpheus up to Dr. Clarke, is only a labor of the imagination on the categories, that is to say on the analytic (simplistic and negative) conceptions, that the understanding has the ability to pull from the primordial (synthetic and positive) idea of movement; a work which consists, as I observed earlier, in giving a reality to algebraic signs, in affirming as a living being, -- active, intelligent and free, -- that which is nonetheless neither man, nor animal, nor plant, nor star, nor anything known or sensible, defined or definable, let alone anything grouped or seriated. This being would be pure substance, pure cause, pure will, pure mind, the pure essence, in short, of the entire series of abstractions which are deduced from face A of the idea of movement, by the exclusion of face B. And all that, according to the learned,  would become being conceived in a superior degree, an infinite power, an eternal duration, in the absolute of absolutes.
I reject that line of deduction, first as marred by ignorance, since God, the being of beings, ens realissimum, according to the idea that we have made of it, must embrace all the attributes, all the conditions of existence, and since he lacks here the most essential element of the definition, Progress. And then I deny that same deduction as destructive of the being that its object is to prove, and consequently as contradictory, precisely because it rests on a series of analyses which, prolonged as long as you like, can only lead to a split, to a negation of that being. And I conclude in my turn, by taking the affirmative, assumens parabolam, as Job said, that if the idea of movement and of progress, so long kept in the shadows by the metaphysicians, is reintegrated in its right, the God that we seek can no longer be such as the old theology taught; it must be entirely different than the theologians have made it. In fact, if we apply to the Supreme Being the condition of movement, of progress, and we cannot not apply them to it, since without them it would not be supreme, it will come to pass that that being will no longer be, as before, simple, absolute, immutable, eternal, infinite, in every sense and every faculty, but organized, progressive, evolving, consequently perfectible, susceptible to learning in science, virtue, etc., to infinity. The infinity or absolute of that being is no longer in the actual, it is in the potential... The god of Kant, of Aristotle, of Moses and of Jesus, is thus not true, at least according to the documents produced, since it excludes the most essential condition of existence in nature and humanity, and that exclusion implies a contradiction with the life that one nevertheless accords to it. I swear by the living God, says  the Church in its exorcisms. God, in a word, is not, and cannot be in the sense that the metaphysicians give to that word, since the deprivation of all conditionality, or simplicity, far from indicating the highest power of being, marks, on the contrary, the lowest degree; God can only become, and it is on this condition alone that it is.<ref>"Is God, the substance-cause, simple or multiple? If he is simple as Spinoza thought, by what means, by what action, by what law, can he pass from his mode of metaphysical action to the mode of finite existence, and manifest himself physically by form, variety and succession, in space and time, without dividing himself? There is the crux of the difficulty. Spinoza did not, and could not, resolve it.
"With the simple and individual constitution given to the substance-cause, God, endowed moreover with all the other theological attributes, is, in Spinozism, nothing other than a solitary atom of which the extent is infinite. That atom, infinitely extended, occupies by itself all space, or rather there is no space, and the indivisible expanse of God, in its infinity, is nothing other than what we mean by space.
"Now, in that simple and indivisible being, in that God-atom, infinite in extension, the property of extent being indivisible, since the subject which possesses it is simple, it is not possible, number not existing in it, to find the reason nor the means of any action whatsoever by which God produces the multitude of extended and finished beings which constitute the phenomena of the universe: his constitution is opposed to it. As he is infinite in his simple and indivisible extent, and there is nothing outside of him, he cannot have in himself anything but himself, that is to say a simple atom, infinite in extent." (Ch. Lemaire, Initiation à la philosophie de la Liberté, t. II.)
M. de Lamennais, Esquise d'une philosophie, has sensed the difficulty, and he has attempted to resolve it, after the example of the gnostics and kabbalists, by making use of divine hypostases, Love, Will, Intelligence, in order to make them produce in God, according to their categories, all beings. M. Ch. Lemaire refutes that system in this way: "With the constitutional simplicity of God, the condition which necessarily dominates that one of his attributes that we call the understanding, whatever, moreover, the number and variety of other attributes that we have given to God in order to make it come out from its inaction and its powerless to form from its own substance united beings, all these attributes, such as Power, Science, Love even, can only serve to form mythological or abstract personifications; but they are without efficacy to generate the smallest finished being, the smallest form, the smallest distinct personality in God or apart from God, and they come logically to fail before the simplicity and indivisibility of that God, being infinite and incommensurable with respect to extent.
"With regard to effects, God, simple and indivisible substance, cannot then be the cause of finished beings. If one supposes, in order to get out of that difficulty, that the other attributes of God, such as power and science, could change his original constitution, and divide that which is declared to be simple and indivisible, one falls into contradiction, and says that the God which one has declared to be simple would himself destroy the condition of his existence."</ref>
What if now, after having dispelled the clever chimeras of theology, I should consult the spontaneous testimonies of the human races on the essence and function of the divine being, I find first that the idea of Progress,  inadvertently left off the list of the categories of the school, has not been forgotten by the masses; that by virtue of that idea, the people, reasoning in the freedom of their instincts, speaking in their own name, without the medium of the Academy, of the Portico, nor of the Church, has constantly taken God for a being that is active, mobile, progressive, sensible finally; that only, to the degree that their intelligence has developed, they have ennobled their idol, and that the highest perfection that they have thought to give to it, has been to make it a man. I see that at all times Humanity has tended, across its religious evolutions, to anthropomorphize or rather  to socialize the ineffable being; that everywhere and always, in popular consciousness, the problem of the religions has resolved itself in the identity of social nature and divine nature; that if, from one side, the people have loaned to God the faculties, passions, virtues and miseries of humanity,--since it is necessary to be born, to speak, act, suffer and die like a man,--from the other, it has conferred to him attributes of society, rulership, legislation and justice; it has proclaimed him holy like society, and free from death like society, which is immortal.
Thus, what we affirm, seek and worship as God, is nothing but the pure essence pure of Humanity, social nature and individual nature indivisibly united, but distinct, like the two natures in Jesus Christ. This is what is attested to by popular consciousness and the series of religions, in accord with a rectified and complete metaphysics.
That is not all: while that movement of the humanization of the divine being was pursued in the masses, another operated, always unbeknownst to the theologians and the philosophers, in the intellectual discipline: it was the progressive renunciation of the ontological mysticities, the relinquishment of the categories, recognized as useless, for the explication of nature and society as revelations and miracles. In one sense, the human race, by its anthropomorphic tendencies, came into contact and identified itself with Divinity; in another sense, by its growing positivism, it moved away from God, and, so to speak, made it retreat. It is thus that where Newton, stopped by a difficulty that seemed insoluble to him, made Divinity intervene for the equilibrium of the world, Laplace, with a higher science, rendered that intervention useless, and dismissed the god and his machine to the attic.
Summarizing all these facts and all these  concepts, it remains thus for me on the religious question: what Humanity seeks in religion, under the name of God, is its own constitution, itself; nonetheless God, according to the theological dogma, being infinite in its attributes, perfect, immutable and absolute, and Humanity, on the contrary, being perfectible, progressive, mobile and changing, the second term would never be known adequate to the first; there remains then an antithesis, one term always being the reversed expression of the other, and the consequence of that antithesis or antitheism, as I have called it, is to abolish all religion or adoration, idolatry, pneumatolatry, christolatry, anthropolatry, since on one side the idea of God, opposed to that of movement, group, series, progress, does not represent any possible reality, and on the other Humanity, essentially perfectible, never perfect, remains constantly below its own proper idea, remains consequently always below worship. This I summarize in a formula at once positive and negative, and perfectly clear in our language: Replacement of the cult of the alleged Supreme Being by the culture of Humanity.<ref>Every social theory necessarily begins with a theory of reason and a solution of the cosmo-theological problem. No philosophy has lacked that requirement. This is what explains why the partisans of political and social hierarchy all begin from a theosophic idea, while the democrats generally incline towards an absolute emancipation of reason and conscience. In order to democratize the human race, insists Charles Lemaire, it is necessary to demonarchize the Universe.</ref> 
Is it worthwhile now, sir, for me to recall those of my propositions, which, in politics, political economy, morals, etc., have made the most noise, and caused the most scandal? Must I show how they all resulted from the notion of Progress, which is identical in my mind to that of order?
I wrote in 1840 that profession of political faith, as remarkable for brevity as for energy: I am an anarchist. I posited with that word the negation, or rather the insufficiency of the principle of authority... That was to say, as I later showed, that the notion of authority is only, like the notion of an absolute being, an analytic idea, powerless, from whatever direction one might come at authority, and in whatever manner it is exercised, to give a social constitution. For authority, for politics, I then substituted economy, a synthetic and positive idea, alone capable, in my opinion, of leading to a rational and practical conception of the social order. However, I did nothing in this but to repeat the thesis of Saint-Simon, so strangely disfigured by his disciples, and combated today, for tactical reasons that I cannot work out, by M. Enfantin. It consists in saying, based on history and the incompatibility of the ideas of authority and progress, that society is on the way to accomplishing for the last time the governmental cycle; that the public reason has gained certainty of the powerlessness of politics, with regard to the improvement of the condition of the masses; that the predominance of the ideas of power and authority has begun to be succeeded, in opinion as in history, by the predominance of the ideas of labor and  exchange; that the consequence of that substitution is to replace the mechanism of the political powers by the organization of economic forces, etc., etc.
I trust you, sir, to tell me if I have been logical in my deductions, if truly, as I think, the idea of progress, the synonym of which is liberty, leads there.
It is in the economic questions that I have pushed the development and application of my principle the farthest. I have demonstrated, and with some success, it seems to me, that most of the notions on which industrial practice rests at this moment, and thus all the economies of modern societies, are still, like the notions of power, authority, God, devil, etc., analytic conceptions, parts mutually deduced from one another by means of opposition, from the societary group, from its idea, from its law, and each developed separately without restraint and without limits. As a result, society, instead of resting on harmony, is seated on a throne of contradictions, and instead of progressing towards wealth and virtue, as is its destiny, it presents a parallel and systematic development in misery and crime.
Thus I have shown, or I believe I have shown, that the malthusian theory of the productivity of capital, justifiable as a means of mercantile order, and to a certain degree favorable to economic movement, becomes, if one applies it on a grand scale, if one claims to generalize it and make of it a law of society, incompatible with exchange, with circulation, and consequently with social life itself; that in order to make that incompatibility cease, it is necessary to reconstruct the integral idea, to make it so that each borrower is a lender, each lender a borrower, and so that all accounts, to the debit and to the credit,  balance; that if the circulation is not today regular, if the return of values by sale is not made by each producer with the same ease as their outflow by purchase; if the stagnations, crises and unemployments, are for the bankrupt a permanent means of equilibrium, it is first because the valorization of products ceases with gold and silver, because all merchandise is not, like gold or silver, taken for currency, which constitutes within the general wealth a destructive inequality; — in the second place, because of the capitalist prelibation [offering of the first fruits], a consequence of money's prerogatives; — thirdly, because of land rent, which is the keystone, sanction and glorification of the whole system.
I have said that the right of the capitalist, proprietor or master,--who stops the economic movement and hinders the circulation of products, who makes a civil war of competition, the machine an instrument of death, the division of labor a system of exhaustion for the worker, taxation a means of popular extenuation and possession of the soil a ferocious and unsociable domain,--was nothing other than the right of force, royal or divine right, such as the barbarians conceived and as it results from the definitions of politics and of the casuists, the highest expression of the absolute, the most complete negation of the ideas of equality, order and progress.
If something has surprised me, in the course of this socialist polemic, it is much less the irritation produced by my ideas than the contradictions that have been raised against them. I could understand egoism; I do not understand argument in the presence of truth and the facts. In order to pull society from the vicious circle where it has suffered death and passion for so many centuries, it is necessary, I insist, to enter resolutely on the path of progression and of association; to pursue the reduction of rent and interest  to zero; to reform credit, by raising it from the entirely individualist notion of loan to the thoroughly social one of reciprocity or exchange; to liquidate, according to that principle, all public and private debts; to purge all the mortgages, to unify taxation, abolish octrois and duties, to create the patrimony of the people, to insure inexpensive products and rents, to determine the rights of the laborer, to remake corporate and communal administration, to reduce and simply the allocations of the State. Then, I continued, economic phenomena would occur in an opposite mode; while today the market lacks production, it will be production which will lack for a market; while wealth grows in arithmetic fashion and the population geometrically, we will see that relation inverted, and production become more rapid than population, because it is a law of our moral and aesthetic nature morale that the more intensity acquired by labor and the more perfection by man, the less fecundity is possessed by the genetic faculty, etc.
I have remarked, in the interim, that society is already engaged, on all points, with the concept of industrial progress; that thus the definition of property, following the constitution of 1848, is in complete contradiction with the Code, and at base justifies my own definition; that under the influence of the same causes all jurisprudence tends to approach more and more the idea of commutative justice and to desert the civil tribunal for the tribunal of commerce, etc., etc.
There is not a critique on my part, not an affirmation or a negation which, in that order of ideas as in all the others, is not explained, justified or excused, however you want to put it, by the same law. All that I have said of centralization, of the police, of justice, of association, of worship, etc., follow from that. 
I have done more: after dispelling any pretext of irritation and hatred, I have taken care to distinguish in Progress acceleration from movement. I have repeated ad nauseam that the question of speed could be left to the estimation of the majorities, and that I did not regard as adversaries, or as enemies of Progress, those who, accepting with me the idea of movement and the sense of its general direction, different perhaps on the details and on the time involved. Must we race or crawl? This is a practical affair, not for the consideration of the philosopher, but of the statesman. What I maintain is that we cannot preserve the status quo.
Many times it has been said to me: Tell it like it is. You are a man of order: do you, or do you not want government? You seek justice and liberty, and you reject the communitarian theories: are you for or against property? You have defended, in every circumstance, morals and the family: do you have no religion?
Well, I maintain completely all my negations of religion, government and property; I say that not only are these negations in themselves irrefutable, but that already the facts justify them; what we have seen burgeon and develop, for several years, under the ancient name of religion, is no longer the same thing that we have been accustomed to understand under that name; that which agitates in the form of empire or caesarism, will sooner or later no longer be empire nor caesarism, nor government; and finally, that which modifies and reorganizes itself under the rubric of property, is the opposite of property.
I add, nonetheless, that I will retain, with the common folk, these three words: religion, government, property, for reasons of which I am not the master, which partake  of the general theory of Progress, and for that reason seem to me decisive: first, it is not my place to create new words for new things and I am forced to speak the language of everyone; second, there is no progress without tradition, and the new order having for its immediate antecedents religion, government and property, it is convenient, for the very guarantee of that evolution, to preserve for the new institutions their patronymic names, in the phases of civilization, because there are never well-defined lines, and to want to accomplish the revolution by a jump, that would be beyond our means.
I believe it useless, with a judge as well-informed as you, sir, to prolong this exposition. I affirm Progress, and, as the incarnation of Progress, the reality of the Collective Man, and, finally, as a consequence of that reality, an economic science: that is my socialism. Nothing more, and nothing less.
Allow me, sir, before passing on, to summarize the different meanings of that generic term Progress. In logic, it is translated by series, the general form of reasoning, which is nothing other, it seems to me, than the art of classifying ideas and beings. — If the series is reduced to two terms in essential opposition, in necessary and reciprocal contradiction, as takes place, for example, in the formation of concepts, it indicates an analysis and takes the name of antinomy. The antinomic dualism, reduced by  the equation or fusion of the two terms into one, produces the synthetic and true idea, the synthesis, celebrated among the mystics under the name of trinity or triad.
In ontology, Progress is group, that is being, as opposed to all the chimeras, whether substantial, causative, animistic, atomistic, etc.
From the idea of being, conceived as group, I deduce, by one sole and single argument, this double proposition: that the simplistic, immutable, infinite, eternal and absolute god of the metaphysicians, not becoming, is not and cannot be; while the social being, which is grouped, organized, perfectible, progressive, and which by its essence always becomes, is. Comparing then the facts of religious consciousness with those of metaphysics and economics, I arrive at this decisive conclusion, that the idea of God, with regard to its content, is identical and adequate to that of Humanity, while, with regard to its form, it is antagonistic.
In the political order, the synonym of Progress is liberty, that is to say collective and individual spontaneity, evolving without obstacles, by the gradual participation of citizens in sovereignty and government. But that participation remains forever illusory, and the political movement would realize itself in an invariable cycle of revolutions without end, and of uniform tyrannies, if political reason, recognizing finally that the true object of government is to guarantee the liberty of the producer and trader, by insuring the just distribution of wealth, did not end, after having separated the contents from the political idea, by changing its organization. Authority has then for its organic formula economy, and the correlative of liberty is equality, not a real and immediate equality, as communism intends, nor a personal equality, as the theory of Rousseau supposes,  but a commutative and progressive equality, which gives a completely different direction to Justice.
Let us admit, indeed, for a moment, the principle of the a priori equality of goods and of persons. What a singular thing! The consequence of that alleged equality would be stasis, the absolute, consequently misery. Society would doubtless continue to stagnate or to agitate; it would no longer progress. The human species, constituted on an anticipation, taking its end for its means, instead of being itself, would no longer be anything but an analog of certain animals, such as ants, beavers, etc., societies of which have existed since creation, but which do not advance at all. For a society thus made, the principle of order, or, to put it better, of station, would find itself, as in societies founded on inequality or caste, an imperative power, dominating all wills, subordinating all energies, absorbing in its collective virtuality all spontaneous individualities. It is according to this system of absolutism that the first States were organized; it is thus that by yielding always a little under the invisible pressure of liberty, across a thousand contradictions and a thousand inconsequences, they have maintained themselves in the old spirit of their institution.
But let a revolution, like that of 89, proclaim all at once industrial liberty and by that single word the notion of equality changes: then civilization can no longer encounter obstacles in its advance, at the same blow the old political form is left inapplicable. With the principle of liberty in work and of equality in exchange, which implies the acceptance of taxation and monitoring, the equilibrium of society can no longer depend, in principle, on sovereign commandment, king or people; it results virtually from the synallagmatic, quotidian determination  of the rights and of the holdings of the members. Governmental centralization is thus succeeded by contractual solidarity; the constitution of political powers is replaced by the organization of the economic forces. It is because of this that socialism was right to say, in 1848, that all the declarations of rights and duties, all the charters and all the codes promulgated previously or to be promulgated in the future, have reduced themselves to two articles, the right to work and the right to exchange: labor and exchange are the alpha and the omega of the revolution.
Thus, from one side, the suppression of the political forms is nothing other than the suppression of the hindrances imposed on Progress by political tyranny; from the other, it is the emancipation of the laborer or the exact compensation of products, which is the decisive and solemn act by which Humanity, breaking the chain of privilege, enters into the endless career of Justice.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, said the author of the Gospel, Jesus Christ, following all the ancient sages. A good maxim, but vague, and its uncertain glow has not hindered for thirty centuries the servitude of the human race. For what is it that I should want others to do to me?... As long as a precise answer is not made to that question, justice collapses. Economic science puts an end to that indecision by declaring that for each able-bodied citizen, the revenue must be equal to the product. The formula, this time, is categorical and concrete; it aims neither at the sublime nor at the sentimental; it has no more pretension to astonish the learned than to make the frivolous caillettes swoon. But find me a formula which is more crushing of pride, more hopeless for bad faith, which better removes the excuse for cowardice and envy, which insures in addition the right of all by leaving more liberty to each? 
By giving to Justice a more practical and precise formula, the theory of economic progress has posited the foundation of morals.
Moral science is the ensemble of the precepts which have for their object perseverance in justice. It is, in other words, the system of justification, the art of rendering oneself holy and pure by works, which is to say, still and always, Progress. Happy are the pure of heart, it was said at the Sermon on the Mount, because they shall see God! These words, so much better than the theory of charity, summarize the whole law. They signify that holiness, the apogee of justice, is the very basis of religion, and that the beautific vision, the sovereign good of the ancient philosophers, happiness, as the modern socialists say, is its fruit. To see God, in the language of the myths, is to have consciousness of one's own virtue; it is to enjoy it and thereby collect the prize. Thus, morals has no sanction but itself: it would infringe on its dignity, it would be immoral, if it drew its cause and its end from some other source. That is why morals has tended at all times to separate itself from theological dogmatism, and the essence of religion has tended to separate itself from the religious envelope, the vain figures of which could only compromise it. In Rome, the formulas of religion were all, like the articles of the Decalogue, juridical formulas. In China and Japan, where all theology had been rejected early, it was precisely the practice of sanctification, or cult of purity, which was preserved. Purity or clarity of reason, purity or innocence of heart, purity or health of the body, purity or justice in action and sincerity in speech,  purity even in justice, which is to say, modesty in virtue: these are the morals of Progress, this is my religion. It supposes a continual effort on itself, and it allows all the transitions, it suits all places and times. The moral law, sir, remark it well, is the one thing that I regard as absolute, not as to the form of the precept, always variable, but as to the obligation that it imposes: and yet, that Absolute is still only a transcendent idea, having for aim the ideal perfection of the human being, by fidelity to the law and to progress.
But, you will ask me, who is holy? And if no man can boast of being holy, how, with the theory of Progress, will you resolve the problem of man's destiny? Sin exists, and it is a great question among the wise, to know if it diminishes, or if on the contrary it does not, with civilization itself, extend its empire. All the centuries have resounded with laments of the growing malice of the generations. The orator denounces to the tribunal the decadence of the century: O tempora, o mores! he cries. And the poet, in his misanthropy, sings the progress of vice and crime:
Ætas majorum, pejor avis, tulit
Nos nequiores, mox daturos
If then sanctity exists nowhere on the earth, if sanctification does not succeed among mortals, Progress remains without a conclusion. It is necessary to consider the longer term, and after having freed militant humanity from the Absolute, to make it return there for its coronation. What use, consequently, is the idea of Progress, if Progress, like the fall, calls for a transmundane solution, something  like immortality? What can the theory be which, after having posited Progress as the condition sine qua non of nature and mind, is forced to admit that it finds for that Progress neither term nor object, and which would contradict itself if it admitted either?...
Here is my response to that objection.
First, in that which no longer concerns the moral law, henceforth unassailable, but human morality, I define Progress as a knowledge of good and evil, consequently an always growing imputability.<ref>It is not knowledge alone which is augmented, any more than morality; the work of the reason reacts on the reason, and is also reason. Our faculties, taken in the average of their ensemble, are no longer of the same degree nor of the same quality as the were among our fathers: there also there is movement.</ref> So that, whatever is in each generation the proportion of offence, the merit and demerit, subject to a perpetual oscillation, becomes also always greater.
This is demonstrated by history.
It is proven, 1) that the sciences, the arts, commerce, politics, etc., are in continual progress; 2) that by virtue of that progress the juridical relations are multiplied more and more among men. From this double progress, which is accomplished apart from the will, it nonetheless results for the will, on the one hand, that its passional attractions are more and more exalted, and, on the other, that the sentiment of the just is increased in it proportionally. From these two points of view, it is certain that an immense difference exists between modern civilization and primitive society: just as among us sensibility, by shedding its brutal forms, has become more lively, so the respect for right has become more profound. Honest people  of the nineteenth century are worth more than those of the times of Scipio or Pericles; for the same reason, the vicious have become more villainous. The conformity of the will to moral law is thus today more meritorious, and its resistance more criminal. The progress of our morality, I say, consists in this.
To know now if the sum of culpable deeds diminishes, if that of virtuous acts increases, is a question about which we can dispute at leisure, but of which the solution appears to me in fact impossible, and in any case useless. What is true is that there is an off-setting in all eras between good and evil, as between merit and demerit, and that the most favorable condition for society is that where the movement in justice is accomplished with the least oscillation, in an equilibrium which excludes equally great sacrifices and great crimes. Et ne nos inducas in tentationem! Jesus Christ has said: "Do not expose us, oh God, to proofs too difficult!" One could not characterize more sadly human morality and its timid advance.
Let our conscience, more and more enlightened, acquire thus more and more energy: there is our glory, and there also is our condemnation. Let the idea of good be realized in all our actions, if it is possible, and let the idea of evil remain deep in our hearts, like an enchained power: that is all that we can promise ourselves. To pretend that the works of virtue becoming each day more abundant, the principle of sin, which is nothing other than the spontaneity of our animal nature, weakens, would be a contradiction.
Virtuous or culpable, man, in short, becomes always more human: that is the law of his genius and of his morals.
But, you insist, and here is the stumbling block  of our poor reason, what is the term of that ascension in Justice? "I have run the race, cried the Apostle. "I have reached the end. Where is my recompense?" There where religion makes us glimpse immortality, what says Progress?
To this final question, where every thought is troubled, where philosophy is confounded, I am forced to cut short my words, and to leave despite myself some obscurity. The social facts, which must serve the constitution of morals, being still unknown, I cannot argue from these facts as if they were known: I must limit myself to these sententious assertions.
The immortality of the soul is nothing other than the elevation of man by thought to the ideality of his nature, and the taking of possession that he makes of his own divinity.
The radiant face of Moses, the assumption of Elijah, the transfiguration of Christ, and even the apotheosis of the Caesars, are so many myths which once served to express that idealization.
Art and religion aim to make us labor without ceasing, by the excitations that belong to them, toward the apotheosis of our souls.
Thus the theory of Progress does not promise us immortality, like religion; it gives it to us. It makes us enjoy it in this life. It teaches us to conquer it and to know it.
To be immortal is to possess God in oneself, says the prophet Isaiah, which he expressed in a single word, of which he made a proper name: Immanuel. Now, we possess God by justice.
That possession is for all times, for all places, for all conditions: to obtain it, it is enough to know, want and exercise justice.
Justice is thus at the same time beatitude, as  the Portico taught it: its presence makes our happiness, its privation our torment. The idea of a subsequent happiness merited by justice is an illusion of our understanding which, instead of making us conceive movement as a series in ensemble, having its reason in itself and its essential object, persists in seeing there a point of departure and another of arrival, as if justice, as well as life, was for us only a transformation of our being from one state to another state. But that is a palpable error, refuted in advance by the theory of movement and of the formation of concepts, and moreover it constitutes, as we have just proven, an offense to morals: just as movement is the state of matter, justice is the state of humanity.
The possession of justice is thus equivalent to the possession of God, apart from which there is, and it is religion which declares it, no longer anything for man. It remains to know the character of that possession, relative to the conditions of space and time.
Space and time are nothing by themselves: they are valued only by their content. If an existence, of whatever duration, is raised up to the sublime, if, by the conception of its own ideal and the will to express it, it comes so to speak to touch the absolute, then that existence can be called consummated. It falls into infinity: reaching its apogee, it no longer has anything to do among the living. There is nothing for a being apart from its plenitude, which is its glorification, any more than there is a complement to the universe. Just like the insect, at the highest point in its ephemeral life, is worth as much and more than the sun in the splendor of its rays, so for man just an instant of ecstasy is worth an eternity of paradise. An eternity and an instant, it is the same thing, said St. Augustine. Now, eternity does not repeat itself: and when one has seen  God once, it is forever. Duration in the absolute is a contradiction.<ref>The death of the just, celebrated in the Scriptures, and the annihilation in God, which forms the basis of buddhism, are nothing other than that. The mysticism of Gerson, St. Theresa, Francis de Sales and Fenelon, still leads there. The Church of Rome, in condemning the latter, has rather blamed the revelation of the secret than the corruption of the doctrine.</ref>
Thus, the one who has been illuminated by the ideas of the beautiful, the just and the holy; who has admired, who has loved, who, at one moment in his life, concentrating the effort of all his powers, has sensed in it the ineffable exaltation: that one is reassured, immortality will not escape him. He has lived: that is more comforting for him than to hear it said that he will live.
The one, on the contrary, whose heart is eaten up by vice, rots in ignorance and laziness. He who has made a law for himself from iniquity, who has put his human intelligence in the service of his brute passions: that one has betrayed his destiny. He will come to the end, without having understood existence. If he calls the priest on his death bed: he has need of him. The priest, by his allegories, will perhaps succeed in touching that savage soul. At the last moment, he will inspire in him a sublime idea, and it will communicate to him, to his agony, a spark of moral sense. Then alone the sinner will have glimpsed life, and for the little that he had in him of repentance, he will die in peace...<ref>The academics, by their lack of frankness, have produced a generation of libertines; the Jesuits, with their bigotry, have created a generation of atheists. While making souls despair during life, they handle gently the benefit of testimonies in extremis. Ask, after that, why the people need religion!</ref> 
I said before that the object of art, like that of worship, is to elevate us to immortal beatitude by the stimulation of its pleasures. Permit me to enter into that subject with some explanations. It is above all from the point of view of art that socialism is accused of barbarity, and progress of falsity: it is necessary to know to what extent that double reproach is merited.
Someone says to us: What superiority have the moderns achieved over the ancients, in that which concerns works of art? None. From the first leap, human genius, applying itself to the representation of the sublime and the beautiful, was raised to such a height, that is has been impossible to surpass it since. Let us admit that the idea of progress, becoming fundamental to philosophy and the political sciences, regenerates them: of what use can it be for painting and statuary? Will it be enough to say to the artists that by virtue of progress they must, like the mathematicians, be always more profound and more skillful, in order for them to indeed become so?... What if the expression, and consequently the conception of the sublime weakened or remained stationary in humanity? Who would dare to say that the idea of the good or the true grew and strengthened? The theory of progress, after having obtained a more or less genuine triumph in the previous questions, runs aground on the last, the most seductive and pitiless: more unfortunate than Ulysses, it is devoured by the Sirens; it can do nothing for Beauty!...
Such is the objection, which differs very little  from my own judgment, that art, setting aside the period of apprenticeship, is by nature always equal to itself, on a level inferior to its greatest sublimities. In what then and how does it fit into the theory of progress? How does it serve it? How does it furnish its last proof? I am going to try to say.
What morals have revealed to consciousness, in the form of precepts, aesthetics aims to show the senses in the form of images. The lesson expressed by the Logos is imperative in its tenor, and refers to an absolute law; the figure presented to the senses, explicit in its meaning, positive and realistic in its type, refers equally to an absolute. These are two modes of our education, at once sensible and intellectual, which touch in consciousness, differing between them only in the organ or faculty which serves as their vehicle.
To perfect oneself by justice or to make oneself holy, by observing the temporal law, and by developing it in its entire truth, such is the end indicated to man by morals; — to perfect himself by art, or, if I dare to make use of that familiar expression, to make himself beautiful, by purifying unceasingly, following the example of our soul, the forms which surround us, such is the object of the aesthetic. One teaches us temperance, courage, modesty, brotherhood, devotion, labor and justice; the other purifies us, protects us, surround us with splendor and elegance: is it not always the same function, proceeding from the same principle, and tending to the same end? — It is to start low, you say, to make art begin in the bath, with the cutting of the nails and hair! There is nothing small and despicable is all that which relates to the improvement of humanity. Didn't morals commence with the defense of human flesh and bestial love?...
It is a question at present of knowing how that theory of  art has been understood and practiced, and how it would be suitable for it to be practiced from now on.
In the beginning, man posited his ideal far from himself; he made it concrete, personified it, and called himself the image of a sublime and beautiful being that he named God. At that moment religion, morals, worship, art and the marvelous were all confounded: and one could predict, the gods having been so conceived, how the artists and poets would be later. Among the Greeks, the first images carved were those of divine persons; the first poetry sung was inspired by religion. The gods were beautiful, of a finished beauty; their images had to be beautiful, and all the efforts of the sculptors would tend to give them a typical perfection, which, in approaching Divinity, ended by having nothing of man in it. Worship and art identified themselves to the point that for a time statues were only made for the gods; it would have been almost a sacrilege to make ugly mortals partake of the honors reserved for eternal beauties. All the rest was dealt with as a consequence. Poetry was called the language of the gods; until their last days the oracles were rendered in verse: to speak in prose, that is in a profane language, in the temples, would have been a great impropriety.
The theory of art among the Greeks resulted entirely then from religion. It imposed itself on their successors; it has reigned until our day. The artist, according to that religious theory, sought in everything the most beautiful, at the risk of leaving nature and missing reality. Its aim, as Raphael expressed it, was to make things, not such as nature produces, but as it should produce them, but does not know how and cannot. It was not enough for him to reveal, by his work, the thought of the Absolute, he tended to reproduce it, to realize it. It is  thus that, the imagination the imagination always tending towards their ideal, the Greeks arrived, in the expression of the beautiful, at a point that has never been equaled, that perhaps will never be equaled. It would be necessary, to equal and surpass the Greeks, that after their example we should believe in the gods, that we should believe in them more than the Greeks: and it is that which is impossible.
The people shared the ideas and the sentiment of the artists: it is this which explains how in that profoundly idolatrous society, amorous of the form on religious principle, everyone was competent in matters of literature and art. Religion imprinted the same direction on the minds, and the same physiognomy on the characters; the aesthetic sentiment developed in unison, and while among us literature, music, and all the arts are the perpetual object of contradiction, among the Greeks it was the things of taste that were the least disputed. Never has democracy shown itself more sovereign, and popular judgment more incorruptible. The Athenians had only to consult the philosophers of the Academy, the aristarques of the feuilleton, on the beauty of the statues and temples; they knew all about it, so to speak, from birth, as they knew battles and feasts. The masterworks of Phidias, those of Sophocles and Aristophanes were received without commission and without jury, in the full assembly of the people, who having learned to read in Homer, speaking the language better than Euripides, would not have allowed a directorate of fine arts, appointed by Aspasia, to choose for them their goddesses and courtesans.
Does it follow that the Greeks and their imitators had fulfilled the aim of art, to the point that, despairing of equaling them, there remains for us only to copy and translate them, at the risk of a continued and inevitable decadence?
I am so far from thinking so, that I accuse precisely the Greeks, in the course of seeking the ideal, of having weakened  the use of it and misunderstood its role, and that I trace back to them the cause of that anarchy, that anti-aesthetic which desolates out civilization, superior though it is in so many ways.
Even in the production of the beautiful, the the tendency of the Absolute leads to exclusion, uniformity and stasis. From there to ennui, to disgust, and finally to dissolution: the slope is irresistible.
Once the god and heroes, goddesses and nymphs, the sacred pomps and scenes of battles, had been figured, rendered with their celestial types and their homeric physiognomies, everything was finished for the Greek artist: he could only repeat himself. He had idealized in his god the ages, the sexes, all the conditions of humanity: the young man, the virgin, the mother, the priest, the singer, the athlete, the king; everyone had their idol, or as they said in the Middle Ages, his saint. What more could one ask for! There was only one step left to overcome: by a last effort of idealization, the artist would return those divine effigies to a supreme form, a bit like the philosopher accomplished the reduction of the divine attributes, and made of all the immortal personalities an invisible, unfathomable, eternal, infinite and absolute subject. But a similar masterwork was quite simply a chimera: it would have been to fall into allegory, into nothingness. An infinite and unique God, the Absolute, in short, is not represented: nothing that is in the heavens, on the earth, or in the sea knows how to represent it, said the Hebrew Moses. From the point of view of art, the unity of God is the destruction of the beautiful and the ideal: it is atheism.
Thus, the theory of art, as the Greeks conceived it, led, from ideality to ideality, that is from abstraction to abstraction, straight to the absurd: it could avoid it only by inconsequence. How this would have surprised the philosopher of the ideal, Plato, if it had been demonstrated to him, by  socratic reasoning, that all of his philosophy rested on one or the other of these two negations, the negation of God or the negation of Beauty!
Divine Plato, these gods that you dreamed do not exist. There is nothing in the world greater and more beautiful than man.
But man, rising from the hands of nature, is miserable and ugly; he can only become sublime and beautiful through gymnastics, politics, philosophy, music, and especially, something which you hardly appear to doubt, the ascetic.<ref>By ascetic, it is necessary to understand here industrial exercise, or labor, considered servile and ignoble among the ancients.</ref>
What is the beautiful? You have said it yourself: it is the pure form, the typical idea of the true. The idea, as idea, exists only in the understanding; it is represented or realized with more or less fidelity and perfection by nature and art.
Art is humanity.
Insofar as we live we are artists, and our craft is to raise in our persons, in our bodies and in our souls, a statue to Beauty. Our model is in ourselves; those gods of marble and bronze that the vulgar adore are only standards of it.
Gymnastics includes dance, fencing, wrestling, running, equitation, and all the exercises of the body. It develops the muscles, increases flexibility, agility and strength, gives grace and prevents excess weight and illness.
Politics embraces civil right, public right and the right of peoples; administration, legislation, diplomacy and war. It is that which, pulling man from  barbarity, gives him true liberty courage and dignity.
Philosophy teaches logic, morals and history: it is the path of science, the mirror of virtue, the antidote of superstition.
Music, or the cult of the muses, has for its object poetry, oratory, song, the playing of instruments, the plastic arts, painting and architecture.
Its end is not, as you suppose, oh wise Plato, to sing hymns to the gods, to raise temples to them, to erect their statues, to make sacrifices and processions. It is to work at the deification of men, sometimes by the celebration of their virtues and beauties, sometimes by the execration of their ugliness and their crimes.
It is necessary then that the sculptor and the painter, like the singer, cover a wide diapason, that they show beauty by turns radiant and shadowed, in the whole extent of the social scale, from the slave to the prince, and from the plebs to the senate. You have only known how to paint the gods: it is necessary to represent the demons as well. The image of vice, like that of virtue, is as much within the domain of painting as of poetry: according to the lesson that the artist wants to give, every figure, beautiful or ugly, can carry out the aim of art.
Let the people, recognizing itself in its misery, learn to blush for its cowardice and to detest its tyrants; let the aristocracy, exposed in its oily, obscene nakedness, be lashed on each of its muscles for its parasitism, its insolence and its corruptions.<ref>Our conservative public is not of that opinion. It is enough for it to be called honest and moderate; it wants to be made beautiful and to be believed such. An artist, who in their studio practice followed the principles of aesthetics formulated here, would be treated as seditious, driven from the ranks, deprived of State commissions, and condemned to die of hunger.</ref> Let the magistrate, the military man, the merchant, the peasant, let men of all the conditions of society, seeing themselves by turns in the idealism of their dignity and their baseness, learn, by the glory and shame, to rectify their ideas, to correct their mores, and to perfect their institutions. And let each generation, registering thus on canvas and in marble the secret of its genius, arrive at posterity with no other blame nor apology than the works of its artists.
This is how art must participate in the movement of society, how it must provoke it and follow it.
And it is for having misunderstood that goal of art, for having reduced it to nothing but an expression of a chimerical ideal, that Greece, elevated by fiction, would lose the intelligence of things and the scepter of ideas.
A time would come, oh Plato, when the Greeks, having put all beauty in the gods, would find themselves totally without it, and forget even the sentiment of it. A sad, coarse superstition taking hold then of their minds, one would see the descendants of those who had once worshiped such beautiful deities, prostrate themselves before a hoary and deformed god, covered in rags, the type of misery and ignominy;<ref>The Greeks, converted to Christianity, represent the Man-God as old, thin, suffering and ugly, in conformance with the text of Isaiah, ch. 53.</ref> one would see them, from love of that idol, hate beauty, and make themselves ignoble and ugly according to the principle of religion. The pious and holy would be recognized by filth and vermin. Instead of poetry and the arts, inventions of sin, they would practice poverty, making a glory of begging. Gymnasiums, schools, libraries, theaters, academies,  works and pomps of Satan, would be devastated and delivered to the flames: the image of a tortured martyr hanging on a gibbet would become for women the most precious of jewels. To be covered in ashes, to mortify oneself with abstinences, to exhaust oneself in prayers, to flee from study as profane and love as impure, that is what they would call the xercise (ascetism) of piety and penitence.
And that religion, that liturgy, those mysteries, oh Plato, that would be the religion of the Logos; and in the name of the Logos, reason would be detested, beauty cursed, art anathematize, philosophy and philosophers thrown in the flames, and dedicated to the infernal gods.
Humanity then, bent under an infamous superstition, and believing itself odious and fallen, would be afflicted with a systematic and fatal degradation. There would be no more ideal, neither within man or outside him: therefore no more poetry, no more oratory, no more art, and especially no more science. As much as Greece had elevated itself with the worship of its first gods, so much, under the yoke of its new Lord, would it be abased. For man does not raise himself up in reason and virtue, except as attracted by beauty: and his faith would consist of denying that beauty, which should make his joy and his triumph. An absolute and inexpressible god, manifested in a sickly and dishonored incarnation; man declared impure, deformed and vile from birth: once again, what aesthetic, what civilization could arise from that horrible dogma?
However, the decadence would not be eternal. These degenerate men would have learned two things, which would one day make them greater and better than their fathers: the first is that before God all men are equal; consequently that by nature and Providence there are not slaves; the second is that their duty and their honor is to labor. 
What neither gymnastics, nor politics, nor music, nor philosophy, bringing together their efforts, knew how to do Labor will accomplish. As in the ancient ages the initiation to beauty came by way of the gods, so, in a remote posterity, beauty will be revealed anew by the laborer, the true ascetic, and it is from the innumerable forms of industry that it will demand its changing expression, always new and always true. Then, finally, the Logos will be manifested, and the human laborers, more beautiful and more free than ever were the Greeks, without nobles and without slaves, without magistrates and without priests, will form all together, on the cultivated earth, one family of heroes, thinkers and artists.<ref>For art, there are, and really only can have been only two eras: the religious or idolatrous epoch, of which the Greeks furnished the highest expression, and the industrial or humanitary epoch, which hardly seems to have begun.
The century of Augustus was only a continuation of that of Pericles: art, passing from the service of the gods to that of the conquerors, began to decline, not with regard to finish or execution, but with regard to the conception of beauty. Such models as the emperors, the patricians and their wives! Such types as the lazy and ferocious plebs, the gladiators and praetorians!
The Renaissance was in its turn, as the name indicates, only a pastiche. This is not, and there could never be a Christian art. Antiquity having been suddenly exhumed, one gave up the emaciated Christs, the angular and pale Madonnas for the Jupiters, Apollos and Venuses: the artists of Jules II and Léon X had no other inspirations. Also, that movement of an imitative art, a reversal for the tradition, without possible intelligence for the future, could not sustain itself: a scandal of luxury and curiosity. As one hardly believed anymore in Jesus and the Virgin, and today we no longer believe at all, one soon came to lose interest in their images; and that catholic carnival having passed, art found itself again completely empty, without principle, without object and without aim.
The century of Louis XIV has been for us like that of Leo X had been for Italy, a classical exercise. It has passed quickly; and the more we see it move away, the more it seems to us below its reputation.
At present, the world of arts and letters is, like the political world, given over to dissolution. We have had successively, under Louis XIV, the dispute of the ancients and the moderns; under Louis XV, that of the Piccinistes, and the Gluckistes; under the restoration, that of the classicals and the romantics; at the same time, the battles of faith and reason, of authority and liberty, the economic and constitutional controversies. In sixty-four years, there has been in the French government a dozen revolutions and sixteen coups d'Etat executed sometimes by power, and sometimes by the people. This certainly does not testify to a great political genius. What could literature and the arts be, alongside that anarchy?
In 93, we were still sensible; today we are only sensual. I had intended to make that definition of woman. A jaded youth, without appetite and without heart, says to you: Woman is an object of art. So painting and sculpture are no longer anything but specialties in the pornocracy of the day. But the artist can do what he likes: he cannot fight against the model, the tableau vivant! Woman an object of art! It is not socialism which found that... I would like, for our more rapid regeneration, that the museums, cathedrals, palaces, salons and boudoirs, with all their ancient and modern furnishings, were thrown in the flames, with a prohibition of twenty years against the artists occupying themselves with their art. The past forgotten, we could make something.</ref> 
Thus, sir, a single notion, the notion of Progress, restored to its rank on the intellectual clavier, is sufficient for me to demonstrate the reason of my doctrines and to reform from  top to bottom all that our classical, domestic and religious education makes us consider as indubitable, definitive and sacred. Of all that we have learned, you and I, at the College, the Church, the Academy, the Palace, the Bourse, and the National Assembly, nothing persists, as soon as we examine it in the light of that inevitable notion, prior to every other, and for that reason least sensed and least perceived, movement or Progress.
What if now, after having, with the aid of that notion of Progress, purged my brain, remade my judgment and renewed my soul, looking around me and considering the figures that surround me, I no longer find in other men, yesterday my counterparts, anything but contradictors, (I would almost say enemies)? Here, sir, you have to take account of that bellicose, aggressive style, for which many have reproached me, but of which I have not always been conscious, and about which I insist only that my adversaries and myself, penetrated as we have been by different ideas, have not bee able to understand each other. Someone said long ago that I have written only one line: There are in society only two parties, the party of movement and the party of resistance, the progressives and the absolutists. And yet, how few of the former do you know! How many, on the contrary do you not know of the second!
Asolutists of the first rank, the false skeptics who, misunderstanding the law of intellectual movement and the essentially historical nature of truth, can see in human opinions only a heap of uncertainties, who unceasingly accuse philosophy of contradiction and society of inconsequence, and from the alleged impossibility of discovering truth and making it men accept it, conclude indifferently, some for laissez-faire, and others for whim, recognizing as seditious and  culpable only discussion and liberty! As if truth, in philosophy and politics, could be anything but the chain of glimpses of the reason, and as if that chain, even if we manage to embrace it with the mind, can realize itself any way but in time and the series of institutions! As if the work of the philosopher and reformer, after having recognized the progression of ideas, did not consist solely in indicating by turns the various moments of the law, to posit each day a new milepost on the great road of Humanity!... Pascal, who was so greatly scandalized if the formula of right was made to vary even a degree from the meridian, and who wanted to render juridical reason uniform on the two sides of the Pyrenees, -- Pascal, much more than Pyrrho, who is too maligned, -- was the type of these absolutists.
Even more absolutist are those who, impatient with that perpetual mobility, want to settle civilization in a system, logic in a formula, right in a plebiscite; who, taking conceptions for principles, claim to link all human activity exclusively to these principles, and, outside of their passionnal, hierarchic, dualist, trinitarian and communitarian fantasies, no longer perceive at all society, or morals, or common sense. As if each affirmation of the philosopher did not raise an equivalent negation; as if each decree of the sovereign, repealing the prior decree, did not posit in advance the decree that would repeal it!...
Abolutists, those would-be politicians who impose on society, like a yoke, their inflexible axioms, and order it to obey, whatever the cost, without taking more account of the advance of ideas than the backwardness of populations. Nothing is more ordinary, indeed, than a society which, at the very moment when it seeks certain reforms, lags  behind the institutions that it is a question of abolishing. It is thus that the rigorists become as dreadful for it as the retrogrades.
The unity and perpetuity of power, says one, is the first of social laws. No salvation apart from a legitimate monarchy!
The kings are made for the people, responds another, not the people for the kings. No salvation apart from constitutional monarchy!
All reason in the same way: No salvation apart from the prorogation of the president, adds this one. No salvation apart from the constitution, adds that one. If but an accent is removed or added to it, all is lost!
Others, full of their theories on sovereignty, exclaim: The interests alone reign and govern. No salvation apart from the law of May 31! If there are more than seven million electors, should they vote for serfdom and birthright, all is lost! -- To which the reply is not long in coming: The right to suffrage is a natural and inalienable right. No salvation apart from the law of March 1849! If there are less than ten million registered voters, should they vote for community or empire, all is lost!...
These are the contradictions of absolutism! These are the debates with which the seven hundred fifty representatives occupy their days, those whom the people have chosen to oversee the maintenance of peace, to rule and compromise amicably to the satisfaction of many, if not all, of the general interests, to organize a system of concessions and reforms, the practice of freedom! The ignorant people is driven to civil war by its own representatives! Woe to us if it is saved by someone! Woe if it comes to save itself!... 
Absolutists, finally, those who, while proclaiming a general law of progress and the need for transitions, were entirely unable to discern its direction, abusing words and ideas in order to change minds, and alternately lulling public opinion to sleep with their self-interested compromises or whipping up popular ardor, sometimes complaining that the century was below their genius, sometimes pushing it according to their impatience, and by their inability to lead it, driving it over precipices.
Thus, romantic literature, revolutionary in form, ultimately issued in a retrograde result. It could be useful to rescue from oblivion the poetry of the Middle Ages, to render some measure of esteem to the architecture of dungeons and cathedrals, but by reviving feudalism as a literary element, the romantics nullified, so far as they were able, the philosophical movement of the eighteenth century, and rendered the nineteenth century unintelligible. We owe them the better part of the reaction that greeted the Republic.
Thus eclecticism, with such honest intentions, with such an impartial critique, but with such timid views, so jealous in its nullity, after having given a strong impetus to study, ended up in intolerance. With its psychology borrowed from the Scots, and its theism a bit of renovated Plato, it had established a cordon sanitaire around the status quo. Catholicism owes to it the extension of its lease on life, and pays back the debt by eliminating it: is this not justice?
Thus, since 1830, while the publication of the theories of Saint-Simon, Fourier, Owen, and the resurrection of ideas Babœuf have posed so powerfully the social question, the real question of the century, we have been distracted, led astray, deceived by a false democratic and doctrinaire liberalism. Under the pretext of loyalty to the traditions  of 89 and 93, we had cast as much discredit as we could on the socialist theories; instead of aiding the investigation, we have suppressed it. Doubtless it was necessary to to redeem and avenge the men of the grand epoch; the progress of our generation accelerated from all the Justice which was rendered to them. But was it necessary to take them for models, to impose on us their practices and prejudices? In this moment, it is socialism that the so-called revolutionary coteries, who are all most insurrectionary, blame all the evil since 1848 on la revolution. If socialism, they say, which is to say if the revolution had not existed, the revolution would not have brought about the counter-revolution!... Also, and do not mistake it doesn't that old democracy aspire only to save society one last time from socialism, and regrets not having saved it better in 1848. Thanks to that absurd distinction between the socialist party and the revolutionary party a handful of dictators have sworn, as one says in his patriotic zeal, the extermination of socialism, the suppression of Progress! Do you know where this blindness of the neo-jacobins would push us? To a reaction without limits, of which they would not be the heroes, but the victims, but of which, also, to top off their misery, they would not have the right to complain, since they would have been its accomplices...<ref>I have allowed this passage to remain, not in order to insult the misfortunes that I shared when it was written, but in order to respond to tireless calumnies.
The thing that is especially pathetic about the coup d'état of December 2 is that the men it has most cruelly struck are exactly those who appear to understand it the least. We want to see only the instrument, occasion, the pretext, if I dare put it this way, the strings: we obstinately refuse to recognize the cause. The cause is the terror caused by a revolution of which the character, the measure and the end was distorted; it is the retrograde direction of opinion, the obstinate resistance of the parties, the machiavellianism of the Legislative, the division of the republicans, of which some, in the majority, wanted the republic without the revolution, or the revolution without socialism, the word without the thing, and the others were forced to protest against that absurd politics, or else suicide.</ref> 
Progress is to know, to foresee. Those who were charged with realizing progress in 1848 were all, for various reasons, men of the old: it is surprising that they have not know how to make tomorrow? Convinced today by their own confessions of having seen in the revolution only a change of functionaries, the have brought on themselves a fatal decline. Any attempt to return, that would not justify an explicit conversion, would be a crime on their part.
Liberty is wealth; it is nobility. We have cast the electoral right to the meurt-de-faim, as Bridaine said; they have responded as slaves. What is astonishing? Let the proletariat vote in 52 as it did in 48, on an empty stomach, and soon we will all be in servitude, and the French democracy, refuted by its own principle, without flag, without program, will have ceased for a time to be a truth
Forced in 1848 to fight for my defense and for the revolutionary affirmation, I soon recognized, by the annoyance  that new ideas raised in the democratic party, that the moment had not come; and I have made all my efforts to conceal an antagonism which from now on serves no purpose, and work between the laboring class and the bourgeois a necessary reconciliation. I believe by that to have made an act of good politics, above all of progress. When the parties show themselves unanimously refractory, they can only be revolutionized by a mean, fusion...
You have, sir, my profession of faith. I have never written it; I confess even that I have rarely reflected on it. I have been carried by the current of my century, I have gone forward without ever turning around, affirming movement, seeking the totality of my ideas, denying the analytic conceptions, sustaining the identity of ontology and logic, showing liberty to be above even religion,<ref>A Voltairean who had great fear of the devil, the prince of Ligne, said fifty years ago: “Atheism lives in the shadow of religion.”--Since then, things have advanced, and the roles are reversed: religion lives in the shadow of the State. Now, ask Odilon Barrot what is the doctrine of the State in matters of faith? His response, better than any I could give, will demonstrate to the urgency of a principle which could serve at once as the foundation of religion, that is of morals, and of the State.</ref> pleading in the name of justice the cause of the waged and the poor, defending equality, or rather the progressive equation of functions and destinies; in addition, believing little in disinterestedness, holding martyrdom in low esteem despite my imprisonment, thinking that amity is fragile, reason vacillating, conscience doubtful, and regarding charity, brotherhood, attractive labor, women's liberation, legitimate government, divine right, perfect love and happiness, as travesties of the Absolute. 
If I have, unbeknownst to me, in the heat of polemic, in bad faith from party spirit, or in any other way, been in any way unfaithful to this doctrine, it is a lapsus calami on my part, an argument ad hominem, a failure of mind or of heart, that I disavow and retract.
Besides, that philosophical humility costs me little. The idea of progress is so universal, so flexible, so fecund, that he who has taken it for a compass almost no longer needs to know if his propositions form a body of doctrine or not: the agreement between them, the system, exists by the mere fact that they are in progress. Show me a philosophy where a similar security is to be found!... I never reread my works, and those that I wrote first I have forgotten. What does it matter, if I moved for twelve years, and if today I still advance? What could could some lapses, some false steps, do to the rectitude of my faith, to the kindness of my cause?... You will please me, sir, to learn for yourself what road I have traveled, and how many times I have fallen along the way. Far from blushing at so many spills, I would be tempted to boast of them, and to measure my valor by the number of my contusions.
I am, sir, etc.