|author||Josias <email@example.com>||2021-12-28 12:20:13 -0800|
|committer||Josias <firstname.lastname@example.org>||2021-12-28 12:20:13 -0800|
economy: add Conquest of Bread
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+# The Conquest of Bread
+by Peter Kropotkin
+One of the current objections to Communism, and Socialism altogether, is
+that the idea is so old, and yet it has never been realized. Schemes of
+ideal States haunted the thinkers of Ancient Greece; later on, the early
+Christians joined in communist groups; centuries later, large communist
+brotherhoods came into existence during the Reform movement. Then, the
+same ideals were revived during the great English and French
+Revolutions; and finally, quite lately, in 1848, a revolution, inspired
+to a great extent with Socialist ideals, took place in France. "And yet,
+you see," we are told, "how far away is still the realization of your
+schemes. Don't you think that there is some fundamental error in your
+understanding of human nature and its needs?"
+At first sight this objection seems very serious. However, the moment we
+consider human history more attentively, it loses its strength. We see,
+first, that hundreds of millions of men have succeeded in maintaining
+amongst themselves, in their village communities, for many hundreds of
+years, one of the main elements of Socialism--the common ownership of
+the chief instrument of production, the land, and the apportionment of
+the same according to the labour capacities of the different families;
+and we learn that if the communal possession of the land has been
+destroyed in Western Europe, it was not from within, but from without,
+by the governments which created a land monopoly in favour of the
+nobility and the middle classes. We learn, moreover, that the medieval
+cities succeeded in maintaining in their midst, for several centuries in
+succession, a certain socialized organization of production and trade;
+that these centuries were periods of a rapid intellectual, industrial,
+and artistic progress; while the decay of these communal institutions
+came mainly from the incapacity of men of combining the village with the
+city, the peasant with the citizen, so as jointly to oppose the growth
+of the military states, which destroyed the free cities.
+The history of mankind, thus understood, does not offer, then, an
+argument against Communism. It appears, on the contrary, as a succession
+of endeavours to realize some sort of communist organization, endeavours
+which were crowned here and there with a partial success of a certain
+duration; and all we are authorized to conclude is, that mankind has not
+yet found the proper form for combining, on communistic principles,
+agriculture with a suddenly developed industry and a rapidly growing
+international trade. The latter appears especially as a disturbing
+element, since it is no longer individuals only, or cities, that enrich
+themselves by distant commerce and export; but whole nations grow rich
+at the cost of those nations which lag behind in their industrial
+These conditions, which began to appear by the end of the eighteenth
+century, took, however, their full development in the nineteenth century
+only, after the Napoleonic wars came to an end. And modern Communism has
+to take them into account.
+It is now known that the French Revolution, apart from its political
+significance, was an attempt made by the French people, in 1793 and
+1794, in three different directions more or less akin to Socialism. It
+was, first, _the equalization of fortunes_, by means of an income tax
+and succession duties, both heavily progressive, as also by a direct
+confiscation of the land in order to sub-divide it, and by heavy war
+taxes levied upon the rich only. The second attempt was a sort of
+_Municipal Communism_ as regards the consumption of some objects of
+first necessity, bought by the municipalities, and sold by them at cost
+price. And the third attempt was to introduce a wide _national system of
+rationally established prices of all commodities_, for which the real
+cost of production and moderate trade profits had to be taken into
+account. The Convention worked hard at this scheme, and had nearly
+completed its work, when reaction took the upper hand.
+It was during this remarkable movement, which has never yet been
+properly studied, that modern Socialism was born--Fourierism with
+L'Ange, at Lyons, and authoritarian Communism with Buonarroti, Babeuf,
+and their comrades. And it was immediately after the Great Revolution
+that the three great theoretical founders of modern Socialism--Fourier,
+Saint Simon, and Robert Owen, as well as Godwin (the No-State
+Socialism)--came forward; while the secret communist societies,
+originated from those of Buonarroti and Babeuf, gave their stamp to
+militant, authoritarian Communism for the next fifty years.
+To be correct, then, we must say that modern Socialism is not yet a
+hundred years old, and that, for the first half of these hundred years,
+two nations only, which stood at the head of the industrial movement,
+i.e., Britain and France, took part in its elaboration. Both--bleeding
+at that time from the terrible wounds inflicted upon them by fifteen
+years of Napoleonic wars, and both enveloped in the great European
+reaction that had come from the East.
+In fact, it was only after the Revolution of July, 1830, in France, and
+the Reform movement of 1830-1832 in this country, had begun to shake off
+that terrible reaction, that the discussion of Socialism became possible
+for a few years before the revolution of 1848. And it was during those
+years that the aspirations of Fourier, St. Simon, and Robert Owen,
+worked out by their followers, took a definite shape, and the different
+schools of Socialism which exist nowadays were defined.
+In Britain, Robert Owen and his followers worked out their schemes of
+communist villages, agricultural and industrial at the same time;
+immense co-operative associations were started for creating with their
+dividends more communist colonies; and the Great Consolidated Trades'
+Union was founded--the forerunner of both the Labour Parties of our
+days and the International Working-men's Association.
+In France, the Fourierist Considérant issued his remarkable manifesto,
+which contains, beautifully developed, all the theoretical
+considerations upon the growth of Capitalism, which are now described as
+"Scientific Socialism." Proudhon worked out his idea of Anarchism and
+Mutualism, without State interference. Louis Blanc published his
+_Organization of Labour_, which became later on the programme of
+Lassalle. Vidal in France and Lorenz Stein in Germany further developed,
+in two remarkable works, published in 1846 and 1847 respectively, the
+theoretical conceptions of Considérant; and finally Vidal, and
+especially Pecqueur, developed in detail the system of Collectivism,
+which the former wanted the National Assembly of 1848 to vote in the
+shape of laws.
+However, there is one feature, common to all Socialist schemes of that
+period, which must be noted. The three great founders of Socialism who
+wrote at the dawn of the nineteenth century were so entranced by the
+wide horizons which it opened before them, that they looked upon it as a
+new revelation, and upon themselves as upon the founders of a new
+religion. Socialism had to be a religion, and they had to regulate its
+march, as the heads of a new church. Besides, writing during the period
+of reaction which had followed the French Revolution, and seeing more
+its failures than its successes, they did not trust the masses, and they
+did not appeal to them for bringing about the changes which they thought
+necessary. They put their faith, on the contrary, into some great ruler,
+some Socialist Napoleon. He would understand the new revelation; he
+would be convinced of its desirability by the successful experiments of
+their phalansteries, or associations; and he would peacefully accomplish
+by his own authority the revolution which would bring well-being and
+happiness to mankind. A military genius, Napoleon, had just been ruling
+Europe. Why should not a social genius come forward, carry Europe with
+him and translate the new Gospel into life? That faith was rooted very
+deep, and it stood for a long time in the way of Socialism; its traces
+are even seen amongst us, down to the present day.
+It was only during the years 1840-48, when the approach of the
+Revolution was felt everywhere, and the proletarians were beginning to
+plant the banner of Socialism on the barricades, that faith in the
+people began to enter once more the hearts of the social schemers:
+faith, on the one side, in Republican Democracy, and on the other side
+in _free_ association, in the organizing powers of the working-men
+But then came the Revolution of February, 1848, the middle-class
+Republic, and--with it, shattered hopes. Four months only after the
+proclamation of the Republic, the June insurrection of the Paris
+proletarians broke out, and it was crushed in blood. The wholesale
+shooting of the working-men, the mass deportations to New Guinea, and
+finally the Napoleonian coup d'êtat followed. The Socialists were
+prosecuted with fury, and the weeding out was so terrible and so
+thorough that for the next twelve or fifteen years the very traces of
+Socialism disappeared; its literature vanished so completely that even
+names, once so familiar before 1848, were entirely forgotten; ideas
+which were then current--the stock ideas of the Socialists before
+1848--were so wiped out as to be taken, later on, by our generation, for
+However, when a new revival began, about 1866, when Communism and
+Collectivism once more came forward, it appeared that the conception as
+to the means of their realization had undergone a deep change. The old
+faith in Political Democracy was dying out, and the first principles
+upon which the Paris working-men agreed with the British trade-unionists
+and Owenites, when they met in 1862 and 1864, at London, was that "the
+emancipation of the working-men must be accomplished by the working-men
+themselves." Upon another point they also were agreed. It was that the
+labour unions themselves would have to get hold of the instruments of
+production, and organize production themselves. The French idea of the
+Fourierist and Mutualist "Association" thus joined hands with Robert
+Owen's idea of "The Great Consolidated Trades' Union," which was
+extended now, so as to become an International Working-men's
+Again this new revival of Socialism lasted but a few years. Soon came
+the war of 1870-71, the uprising of the Paris Commune--and again the
+free development of Socialism was rendered impossible in France. But
+while Germany accepted now from the hands of its German teachers, Marx
+and Engels, the Socialism of the French "forty-eighters" that is, the
+Socialism of Considérant and Louis Blanc, and the Collectivism of
+Pecqueur,--France made a further step forward.
+In March, 1871, Paris had proclaimed that henceforward it would not wait
+for the retardatory portions of France: that it intended to start within
+its Commune its own social development.
+The movement was too short-lived to give any positive result. It
+remained communalist only; it merely asserted the rights of the Commune
+to its full autonomy. But the working-classes of the old International
+saw at once its historical significance. They understood that the free
+commune would be henceforth the medium in which the ideas of modern
+Socialism may come to realization. The free agro-industrial communes, of
+which so much was spoken in England and France before 1848, need not be
+small phalansteries, or small communities of 2000 persons. They must be
+vast agglomerations, like Paris, or, still better, small territories.
+These communes would federate to constitute nations in some cases, even
+irrespectively of the present national frontiers (like the Cinque Ports,
+or the Hansa). At the same time large labour associations would come
+into existence for the inter-communal service of the railways, the
+docks, and so on.
+Such were the ideas which began vaguely to circulate after 1871 amongst
+the thinking working-men, especially in the Latin countries. In some
+such organization, the details of which life itself would settle, the
+labour circles saw the medium through which Socialist forms of life
+could find a much easier realization than through the seizure of all
+industrial property by the State, and the State organization of
+agriculture and industry.
+These are the ideas to which I have endeavoured to give a more or less
+definite expression in this book.
+Looking back now at the years that have passed since this book was
+written, I can say in full conscience that its leading ideas must have
+been correct. State Socialism has certainly made considerable progress.
+State railways, State banking, and State trade in spirits have been
+introduced here and there. But every step made in this direction, even
+though it resulted in the cheapening of a given commodity, was found to
+be a new obstacle in the struggle of the working-men for their
+emancipation. So that we find growing amongst the working-men,
+especially in Western Europe, the idea that even the working of such a
+vast national property as a railway-net could be much better handled by
+a Federated Union of railway employés, than by a State organization.
+On the other side, we see that countless attempts have been made all
+over Europe and America, the leading idea of which is, on the one side,
+to get into the hands of the working-men themselves wide branches of
+production, and, on the other side, to always widen in the cities the
+circles of the functions which the city performs in the interest of its
+inhabitants. Trade-unionism, with a growing tendency towards organizing
+the different trades internationally, and of being not only an
+instrument for the improvement of the conditions of labour, but also of
+becoming an organization which might, at a given moment, take into its
+hands the management of production; Co-operation, both for production
+and for distribution, both in industry and agriculture, and attempts at
+combining both sorts of co-operation in experimental colonies; and
+finally, the immensely varied field of the so-called Municipal
+Socialism--these are the three directions in which the greatest amount
+of creative power has been developed lately.
+Of course, none of these may, in any degree, be taken as a substitute
+for Communism, or even for Socialism, both of which imply the common
+possession of the instruments of production. But we certainly must look
+at all these attempts as upon _experiments_--like those which Owen,
+Fourier, and Saint Simon tried in their colonies--experiments which
+prepare human thought to conceive some of the practical forms in which a
+communist society might find its expression. The synthesis of all these
+partial experiments will have to be made some day by the constructive
+genius of some one of the civilized nations. But samples of the bricks
+out of which the great synthetic building will have to be built, and
+even samples of some of its rooms, are being prepared by the immense
+effort of the constructive genius of man.
+ January, 1913.
+## CHAPTER I - OUR RICHES
+The human race has travelled a long way, since those remote ages when
+men fashioned their rude implements of flint and lived on the precarious
+spoils of hunting, leaving to their children for their only heritage a
+shelter beneath the rocks, some poor utensils--and Nature, vast,
+unknown, and terrific, with whom they had to fight for their wretched
+During the long succession of agitated ages which have elapsed since,
+mankind has nevertheless amassed untold treasures. It has cleared the
+land, dried the marshes, hewn down forests, made roads, pierced
+mountains; it has been building, inventing, observing, reasoning; it has
+created a complex machinery, wrested her secrets from Nature, and
+finally it pressed steam and electricity into its service. And the
+result is, that now the child of the civilized man finds at its birth,
+ready for its use, an immense capital accumulated by those who have gone
+before him. And this capital enables man to acquire, merely by his own
+labour combined with the labour of others, riches surpassing the dreams
+of the fairy tales of the Thousand and One Nights.
+The soil is cleared to a great extent, fit for the reception of the best
+seeds, ready to give a rich return for the skill and labour spent upon
+it--a return more than sufficient for all the wants of humanity. The
+methods of rational cultivation are known.
+On the wide prairies of America each hundred men, with the aid of
+powerful machinery, can produce in a few months enough wheat to maintain
+ten thousand people for a whole year. And where man wishes to double his
+produce, to treble it, to multiply it a hundred-fold, he _makes_ the
+soil, gives to each plant the requisite care, and thus obtains enormous
+returns. While the hunter of old had to scour fifty or sixty square
+miles to find food for his family, the civilized man supports his
+household, with far less pains, and far more certainty, on a thousandth
+part of that space. Climate is no longer an obstacle. When the sun
+fails, man replaces it by artificial heat; and we see the coming of a
+time when artificial light also will be used to stimulate vegetation.
+Meanwhile, by the use of glass and hot water pipes, man renders a given
+space ten and fifty times more productive than it was in its natural
+The prodigies accomplished in industry are still more striking. With the
+co-operation of those intelligent beings, modern machines--themselves
+the fruit of three or four generations of inventors, mostly unknown--a
+hundred men manufacture now the stuff to provide ten thousand persons
+with clothing for two years. In well-managed coal mines the labour of a
+hundred miners furnishes each year enough fuel to warm ten thousand
+families under an inclement sky. And we have lately witnessed the
+spectacle of wonderful cities springing up in a few months for
+international exhibitions, without interrupting in the slightest degree
+the regular work of the nations.
+And if in manufactures as in agriculture, and as indeed through our
+whole social system, the labour, the discoveries, and the inventions of
+our ancestors profit chiefly the few, it is none the less certain that
+mankind in general, aided by the creatures of steel and iron which it
+already possesses, could already procure an existence of wealth and ease
+for every one of its members.
+Truly, we are rich--far richer than we think; rich in what we already
+possess, richer still in the possibilities of production of our actual
+mechanical outfit; richest of all in what we might win from our soil,
+from our manufactures, from our science, from our technical knowledge,
+were they but applied to bringing about the well-being of all.
+In our civilized societies we are rich. Why then are the many poor? Why
+this painful drudgery for the masses? Why, even to the best paid
+workman, this uncertainty for the morrow, in the midst of all the wealth
+inherited from the past, and in spite of the powerful means of
+production, which could ensure comfort to all, in return for a few hours
+of daily toil?
+The Socialists have said it and repeated it unwearyingly. Daily they
+reiterate it, demonstrating it by arguments taken from all the sciences.
+It is because all that is necessary for production--the land, the mines,
+the highways, machinery, food, shelter, education, knowledge--all have
+been seized by the few in the course of that long story of robbery,
+enforced migration and wars, of ignorance and oppression, which has been
+the life of the human race before it had learned to subdue the forces of
+Nature. It is because, taking advantage of alleged rights acquired in
+the past, these few appropriate to-day two-thirds of the products of
+human labour, and then squander them in the most stupid and shameful
+way. It is because, having reduced the masses to a point at which they
+have not the means of subsistence for a month, or even for a week in
+advance, the few can allow the many to work, only on the condition of
+themselves receiving the lion's share. It is because these few prevent
+the remainder of men from producing the things they need, and force them
+to produce, not the necessaries of life for all, but whatever offers the
+greatest profits to the monopolists. In this is the substance of all
+Take, indeed, a civilized country. The forests which once covered it
+have been cleared, the marshes drained, the climate improved. It has
+been made habitable. The soil, which bore formerly only a coarse
+vegetation, is covered to-day with rich harvests. The rock-walls in the
+valleys are laid out in terraces and covered with vines. The wild
+plants, which yielded nought but acrid berries, or uneatable roots, have
+been transformed by generations of culture into succulent vegetables or
+trees covered with delicious fruits. Thousands of highways and railroads
+furrow the earth, and pierce the mountains. The shriek of the engine is
+heard in the wild gorges of the Alps, the Caucasus, and the Himalayas.
+The rivers have been made navigable; the coasts, carefully surveyed, are
+easy of access; artificial harbours, laboriously dug out and protected
+against the fury of the sea, afford shelter to the ships. Deep shafts
+have been sunk in the rocks; labyrinths of underground galleries have
+been dug out where coal may be raised or minerals extracted. At the
+crossings of the highways great cities have sprung up, and within their
+borders all the treasures of industry, science, and art have been
+Whole generations, that lived and died in misery, oppressed and
+ill-treated by their masters, and worn out by toil, have handed on this
+immense inheritance to our century.
+For thousands of years millions of men have laboured to clear the
+forests, to drain the marshes, and to open up highways by land and
+water. Every rood of soil we cultivate in Europe has been watered by the
+sweat of several races of men. Every acre has its story of enforced
+labour, of intolerable toil, of the people's sufferings. Every mile of
+railway, every yard of tunnel, has received its share of human blood.
+The shafts of the mine still bear on their rocky walls the marks made by
+the pick of the workman who toiled to excavate them. The space between
+each prop in the underground galleries might be marked as a miner's
+grave; and who can tell what each of these graves has cost, in tears, in
+privations, in unspeakable wretchedness to the family who depended on
+the scanty wage of the worker cut off in his prime by fire-damp,
+rock-fall, or flood?
+The cities, bound together by railroads and waterways, are organisms
+which have lived through centuries. Dig beneath them and you find, one
+above another, the foundations of streets, of houses, of theatres, of
+public buildings. Search into their history and you will see how the
+civilization of the town, its industry, its special characteristics,
+have slowly grown and ripened through the co-operation of generations of
+its inhabitants before it could become what it is to-day. And even
+to-day, the value of each dwelling, factory, and warehouse, which has
+been created by the accumulated labour of the millions of workers, now
+dead and buried, is only maintained by the very presence and labour of
+legions of the men who now inhabit that special corner of the globe.
+Each of the atoms composing what we call the Wealth of Nations owes its
+value to the fact that it is a part of the great whole. What would a
+London dockyard or a great Paris warehouse be if they were not situated
+in these great centres of international commerce? What would become of
+our mines, our factories, our workshops, and our railways, without the
+immense quantities of merchandise transported every day by sea and land?
+Millions of human beings have laboured to create this civilization on
+which we pride ourselves to-day. Other millions, scattered through the
+globe, labour to maintain it. Without them nothing would be left in
+fifty years but ruins.
+There is not even a thought, or an invention, which is not common
+property, born of the past and the present. Thousands of inventors,
+known and unknown, who have died in poverty, have co-operated in the
+invention of each of these machines which embody the genius of man.
+Thousands of writers, of poets, of scholars, have laboured to increase
+knowledge, to dissipate error, and to create that atmosphere of
+scientific thought, without which the marvels of our century could never
+have appeared. And these thousands of philosophers, of poets, of
+scholars, of inventors, have themselves been supported by the labour of
+past centuries. They have been upheld and nourished through life, both
+physically and mentally, by legions of workers and craftsmen of all
+sorts. They have drawn their motive force from the environment.
+The genius of a Séguin, a Mayer, a Grove, has certainly done more to
+launch industry in new directions than all the capitalists in the world.
+But men of genius are themselves the children of industry as well as of
+science. Not until thousands of steam-engines had been working for years
+before all eyes, constantly transforming heat into dynamic force, and
+this force into sound, light, and electricity, could the insight of
+genius proclaim the mechanical origin and the unity of the physical
+forces. And if we, children of the nineteenth century, have at last
+grasped this idea, if we know now how to apply it, it is again because
+daily experience has prepared the way. The thinkers of the eighteenth
+century saw and declared it, but the idea remained undeveloped, because
+the eighteenth century had not grown up like ours, side by side with the
+steam-engine. Imagine the decades that might have passed while we
+remained in ignorance of this law, which has revolutionized modern
+industry, had Watt not found at Soho skilled workmen to embody his ideas
+in metal, bringing all the parts of his engine to perfection, so that
+steam, pent in a complete mechanism, and rendered more docile than a
+horse, more manageable than water, became at last the very soul of
+Every machine has had the same history--a long record of sleepless
+nights and of poverty, of disillusions and of joys, of partial
+improvements discovered by several generations of nameless workers, who
+have added to the original invention these little nothings, without
+which the most fertile idea would remain fruitless. More than that:
+every new invention is a synthesis, the resultant of innumerable
+inventions which have preceded it in the vast field of mechanics and
+Science and industry, knowledge and application, discovery and practical
+realization leading to new discoveries, cunning of brain and of hand,
+toil of mind and muscle--all work together. Each discovery, each
+advance, each increase in the sum of human riches, owes its being to
+the physical and mental travail of the past and the present.
+By what right then can any one whatever appropriate the least morsel of
+this immense whole and say--This is mine, not yours?
+It has come about, however, in the course of the ages traversed by the
+human race, that all that enables man to produce and to increase his
+power of production has been seized by the few. Some time, perhaps, we
+will relate how this came to pass. For the present let it suffice to
+state the fact and analyze its consequences.
+To-day the soil, which actually owes its value to the needs of an
+ever-increasing population, belongs to a minority who prevent the people
+from cultivating it--or do not allow them to cultivate it according to
+The mines, though they represent the labour of several generations, and
+derive their sole value from the requirements of the industry of a
+nation and the density of the population--the mines also belong to the
+few; and these few restrict the output of coal, or prevent it entirely,
+if they find more profitable investments for their capital. Machinery,
+too, has become the exclusive property of the few, and even when a
+machine incontestably represents the improvements added to the original
+rough invention by three or four generations of workers, it none the
+less belongs to a few owners. And if the descendants of the very
+inventor who constructed the first machine for lace-making, a century
+ago, were to present themselves to-day in a lace factory at Bâle or
+Nottingham, and claim their rights, they would be told: "Hands off! this
+machine is not yours," and they would be shot down if they attempted to
+take possession of it.
+The railways, which would be useless as so much old iron without the
+teeming population of Europe, its industry, its commerce, and its marts,
+belong to a few shareholders, ignorant perhaps of the whereabouts of
+the lines of rails which yield them revenues greater than those of
+medieval kings. And if the children of those who perished by thousands
+while excavating the railway cuttings and tunnels were to assemble one
+day, crowding in their rags and hunger, to demand bread from the
+shareholders, they would be met with bayonets and grapeshot, to disperse
+them and safeguard "vested interests."
+In virtue of this monstrous system, the son of the worker, on entering
+life, finds no field which he may till, no machine which he may tend, no
+mine in which he may dig, without accepting to leave a great part of
+what he will produce to a master. He must sell his labour for a scant
+and uncertain wage. His father and his grandfather have toiled to drain
+this field, to build this mill, to perfect this machine. They gave to
+the work the full measure of their strength, and what more could they
+give? But their heir comes into the world poorer than the lowest savage.
+If he obtains leave to till the fields, it is on condition of
+surrendering a quarter of the produce to his master, and another quarter
+to the government and the middlemen. And this tax, levied upon him by
+the State, the capitalist, the lord of the manor, and the middleman, is
+always increasing; it rarely leaves him the power to improve his system
+of culture. If he turns to industry, he is allowed to work--though not
+always even that--only on condition that he yield a half or two-thirds
+of the product to him whom the land recognizes as the owner of the
+We cry shame on the feudal baron who forbade the peasant to turn a clod
+of earth unless he surrendered to his lord a fourth of his crop. We
+called those the barbarous times. But if the forms have changed, the
+relations have remained the same, and the worker is forced, under the
+name of free contract, to accept feudal obligations. For, turn where he
+will, he can find no better conditions. Everything has become private
+property, and he must accept, or die of hunger.
+The result of this state of things is that all our production tends in a
+wrong direction. Enterprise takes no thought for the needs of the
+community. Its only aim is to increase the gains of the speculator.
+Hence the constant fluctuations of trade, the periodical industrial
+crises, each of which throws scores of thousands of workers on the
+The working people cannot purchase with their wages the wealth which
+they have produced, and industry seeks foreign markets among the monied
+classes of other nations. In the East, in Africa, everywhere, in Egypt,
+Tonkin or the Congo, the European is thus bound to promote the growth of
+serfdom. And so he does. But soon he finds that everywhere there are
+similar competitors. All the nations evolve on the same lines, and wars,
+perpetual wars, break out for the right of precedence in the market.
+Wars for the possession of the East, wars for the empire of the sea,
+wars to impose duties on imports and to dictate conditions to
+neighbouring states; wars against those "blacks" who revolt! The roar of
+the cannon never ceases in the world, whole races are massacred, the
+states of Europe spend a third of their budgets in armaments; and we
+know how heavily these taxes fall on the workers.
+Education still remains the privilege of a small minority, for it is
+idle to talk of education when the workman's child is forced, at the age
+of thirteen, to go down into the mine or to help his father on the farm.
+It is idle to talk of studying to the worker, who comes home in the
+evening wearied by excessive toil, and its brutalizing atmosphere.
+Society is thus bound to remain divided into two hostile camps, and in
+such conditions freedom is a vain word. The Radical begins by demanding
+a greater extension of political rights, but he soon sees that the
+breath of liberty leads to the uplifting of the proletariat, and then he
+turns round, changes his opinions, and reverts to repressive legislation
+and government by the sword.
+A vast array of courts, judges, executioners, policemen, and gaolers is
+needed to uphold these privileges; and this array gives rise in its turn
+to a whole system of espionage, of false witness, of spies, of threats
+The system under which we live checks in its turn the growth of the
+social sentiment. We all know that without uprightness, without
+self-respect, without sympathy and mutual aid, human kind must perish,
+as perish the few races of animals living by rapine, or the
+slave-keeping ants. But such ideas are not to the taste of the ruling
+classes, and they have elaborated a whole system of pseudo-science to
+teach the contrary.
+Fine sermons have been preached on the text that those who have should
+share with those who have not, but he who would carry out this principle
+would be speedily informed that these beautiful sentiments are all very
+well in poetry, but not in practice. "To lie is to degrade and besmirch
+oneself," we say, and yet all civilized life becomes one huge lie. We
+accustom ourselves and our children to hypocrisy, to the practice of a
+double-faced morality. And since the brain is ill at ease among lies, we
+cheat ourselves with sophistry. Hypocrisy and sophistry become the
+second nature of the civilized man.
+But a society cannot live thus; it must return to truth, or cease to
+Thus the consequences which spring from the original act of monopoly
+spread through the whole of social life. Under pain of death, human
+societies are forced to return to first principles: the means of
+production being the collective work of humanity, the product should be
+the collective property of the race. Individual appropriation is neither
+just nor serviceable. All belongs to all. All things are for all men,
+since all men have need of them, since all men have worked in the
+measure of their strength to produce them, and since it is not possible
+to evaluate every one's part in the production of the world's wealth.
+All things for all. Here is an immense stock of tools and implements;
+here are all those iron slaves which we call machines, which saw and
+plane, spin and weave for us, unmaking and remaking, working up raw
+matter to produce the marvels of our time. But nobody has the right to
+seize a single one of these machines and say: "This is mine; if you
+want to use it you must pay me a tax on each of your products," any more
+than the feudal lord of medieval times had the right to say to the
+peasant: "This hill, this meadow belong to me, and you must pay me a tax
+on every sheaf of corn you reap, on every brick you build."
+All is for all! If the man and the woman bear their fair share of work,
+they have a right to their fair share of all that is produced by all,
+and that share is enough to secure them well-being. No more of such
+vague formulas as "The right to work," or "To each the whole result of
+his labour." What we proclaim is THE RIGHT TO WELL-BEING: WELL-BEING FOR
+## CHAPTER II - WELL-BEING FOR ALL
+Well-being for all is not a dream. It is possible, realizable, owing to
+all that our ancestors have done to increase our powers of production.
+We know, indeed, that the producers, although they constitute hardly
+one-third of the inhabitants of civilized countries, even now produce
+such quantities of goods that a certain degree of comfort could be
+brought to every hearth. We know further that if all those who squander
+to-day the fruits of others' toil were forced to employ their leisure in
+useful work, our wealth would increase in proportion to the number of
+producers, and more. Finally, we know that contrary to the theory
+enunciated by Malthus--that Oracle of middle-class Economics--the
+productive powers of the human race increase at a much more rapid ratio
+than its powers of reproduction. The more thickly men are crowded on the
+soil, the more rapid is the growth of their wealth-creating power.
+Thus, although the population of England has only increased from 1844 to
+1890 by 62 per cent., its production has grown, even at the lowest
+estimate, at double that rate--to wit, by 130 per cent. In France, where
+the population has grown more slowly, the increase in production is
+nevertheless very rapid. Notwithstanding the crises through which
+agriculture is frequently passing, notwithstanding State interference,
+the blood-tax (conscription), and speculative commerce and finance, the
+production of wheat in France has increased four-fold, and industrial
+production more than tenfold, in the course of the last eighty years. In
+the United States this progress is still more striking. In spite of
+immigration, or rather precisely because of the influx of surplus
+European labour, the United States have multiplied their wealth tenfold.
+However, these figures give but a very faint idea of what our wealth
+might become under better conditions. For alongside of the rapid
+development of our wealth-producing powers we have an overwhelming
+increase in the ranks of the idlers and middlemen. Instead of capital
+gradually concentrating itself in a few hands, so that it would only be
+necessary for the community to dispossess a few millionaires and enter
+upon its lawful heritage--instead of this Socialist forecast proving
+true, the exact reverse is coming to pass: the swarm of parasites is
+In France there are not ten actual producers to every thirty
+inhabitants. The whole agricultural wealth of the country is the work of
+less than seven millions of men, and in the two great industries, mining
+and the textile trades, you will find that the workers number less than
+two and one-half millions. But the exploiters of labour, how many are
+they? In the United Kingdom a little over one million workers--men,
+women, and children, are employed in all the textile trades; less than
+nine hundred thousand work the mines; much less than two million till
+the ground, and it appeared from the last industrial census that only a
+little over four million men, women and children were employed in all
+the industries. So that the statisticians have to exaggerate all the
+figures in order to establish a maximum of eight million producers to
+forty-five million inhabitants. Strictly speaking the creators of the
+goods exported from Britain to all the ends of the earth comprise only
+from six to seven million workers. And what is the number of the
+shareholders and middlemen who levy the first fruits of labour from far
+and near, and heap up unearned gains by thrusting themselves between
+the producer and the consumer?
+Nor is this all. The owners of capital constantly reduce the output by
+restraining production. We need not speak of the cartloads of oysters
+thrown into the sea to prevent a dainty, hitherto reserved for the rich,
+from becoming a food for the people. We need not speak of the thousand
+and one luxuries--stuffs, foods, etc., etc.--treated after the same
+fashion as the oysters. It is enough to remember the way in which the
+production of the most necessary things is limited. Legions of miners
+are ready and willing to dig out coal every day, and send it to those
+who are shivering with cold; but too often a third, or even one-half, of
+their number are forbidden to work more than three days a week, because,
+forsooth, the price of coal must be kept up! Thousands of weavers are
+forbidden to work the looms, although their wives and children go in
+rags, and although three-quarters of the population of Europe have no
+clothing worthy the name.
+Hundreds of blast-furnaces, thousands of factories periodically stand
+idle, others only work half-time--and in every civilized nation there is
+a permanent population of about two million individuals who ask only for
+work, but to whom work is denied.
+How gladly would these millions of men set to work to reclaim waste
+lands, or to transform ill-cultivated land into fertile fields, rich in
+harvests! A year of well-directed toil would suffice to multiply
+fivefold the produce of those millions of acres in this country which
+lie idle now as "permanent pasture," or of those dry lands in the south
+of France which now yield only about eight bushels of wheat per acre.
+But men, who would be happy to become hardy pioneers in so many branches
+of wealth-producing activity, must remain idle because the owners of the
+soil, the mines and the factories prefer to invest their capital--taken
+in the first place from the community--in Turkish or Egyptian bonds, or
+in Patagonian gold mines, and so make Egyptian fellahs, Italian
+emigrants, and Chinese coolies their wage-slaves.
+This is the direct and deliberate limitation of production; but there
+is also a limitation indirect and not of set purpose, which consists in
+spending human toil on objects absolutely useless, or destined only to
+satisfy the dull vanity of the rich.
+It is impossible to reckon in figures the extent to which wealth is
+restricted indirectly, the extent to which energy is squandered, while
+it might have served to produce, and above all to prepare the machinery
+necessary to production. It is enough to cite the immense sums spent by
+Europe in armaments, for the sole purpose of acquiring control of
+markets, and so forcing her own goods on neighbouring territories, and
+making exploitation easier at home; the millions paid every year to
+officials of all sorts, whose function it is to maintain the "rights" of
+minorities--the right, that is, of a few rich men--to manipulate the
+economic activities of the nation; the millions spent on judges,
+prisons, policemen, and all the paraphernalia of so-called
+justice--spent to no purpose, because we know that every alleviation,
+however slight, of the wretchedness of our great cities is always
+followed by a considerable diminution of crime; lastly, the millions
+spent on propagating pernicious doctrines by means of the press, and
+news "cooked" in the interest of this or that party, of this politician
+or of that group of speculators.
+But over and above this we must take into account all the labour that
+goes to sheer waste,--here, in keeping up the stables, the kennels, and
+the retinue of the rich; there, in pandering to the caprices of society
+and the depraved tastes of the fashionable mob; there again, in forcing
+the consumer to buy what he does not need, or foisting an inferior
+article upon him by means of puffery, and in producing on the other hand
+wares which are absolutely injurious, but profitable to the
+manufacturer. What is squandered in this manner would be enough to
+double the production of useful things, or so to plenish our mills and
+factories with machinery that they would soon flood the shops with all
+that is now lacking to two-thirds of the nation. Under our present
+system a full quarter of the producers in every nation are forced to be
+idle for three or four months in the year, and the labour of another
+quarter, if not of the half, has no better results than the amusement of
+the rich or the exploitation of the public.
+Thus, if we consider on the one hand the rapidity with which civilized
+nations augment their powers of production, and on the other hand the
+limits set to that production, be it directly or indirectly, by existing
+conditions, we cannot but conclude that an economic system a trifle more
+reasonable would permit them to heap up in a few years so many useful
+products that they would be constrained to say--"Enough! We have enough
+coal and bread and raiment! Let us rest and consider how best to use our
+powers, how best to employ our leisure."
+No, plenty for all is not a dream--though it was a dream indeed in those
+days when man, for all his pains, could hardly win a few bushels of
+wheat from an acre of land, and had to fashion by hand all the
+implements he used in agriculture and industry. Now it is no longer a
+dream, because man has invented a motor which, with a little iron and a
+few sacks of coal, gives him the mastery of a creature strong and docile
+as a horse, and capable of setting the most complicated machinery in
+But, if plenty for all is to become a reality, this immense
+capital--cities, houses, pastures, arable lands, factories, highways,
+education--must cease to be regarded as private property, for the
+monopolist to dispose of at his pleasure.
+This rich endowment, painfully won, builded, fashioned, or invented by
+our ancestors, must become common property, so that the collective
+interests of men may gain from it the greatest good for all.
+There must be EXPROPRIATION. The well-being of all--the end;
+Expropriation, such then is the problem which History has put before the
+men of the twentieth century: the return to Communism in all that
+ministers to the well-being of man.
+But this problem cannot be solved by means of legislation. No one
+imagines that. The poor, as well as the rich, understand that neither
+the existing Governments, nor any which might arise out of possible
+political changes, would be capable of finding such a solution. They
+feel the necessity of a social revolution; and both rich and poor
+recognize that this revolution is imminent, that it may break out in a
+A great change in thought has taken place during the last half of the
+nineteenth century; but suppressed, as it was, by the propertied
+classes, and denied its natural development, this new spirit must now
+break its bonds by violence and realize itself in a revolution.
+Whence will the revolution come? how will it announce its coming? No one
+can answer these questions. The future is hidden. But those who watch
+and think do not misinterpret the signs: workers and exploiters,
+Revolutionists and Conservatives, thinkers and men of action, all feel
+that a revolution is at our doors.
+Well, then,--What are we going to do when the thunderbolt has fallen?
+We have all been bent on studying the dramatic side of revolutions so
+much, and the practical work of revolutions so little, that we are apt
+to see only the stage effects, so to speak, of these great movements;
+the fight of the first days; the barricades. But this fight, this first
+skirmish, is soon ended, and it only after the breakdown of the old
+system that the real work of revolution can be said to begin.
+Effete and powerless, attacked on all sides, the old rulers are soon
+swept away by the breath of insurrection. In a few days the middle-class
+monarchy of 1848 was no more, and while Louis Philippe was making good
+his escape in a cab, Paris had already forgotten her "citizen king." The
+government of Thiers disappeared, on the 18th of March, 1871, in a few
+hours, leaving Paris mistress of her destinies. Yet 1848 and 1871 were
+only insurrections. Before a popular revolution the masters of "the old
+order" disappear with a surprising rapidity. Its upholders fly the
+country, to plot in safety elsewhere and to devise measures for their
+The former Government having disappeared, the army, hesitating before
+the tide of popular opinion, no longer obeys its commanders, who have
+also prudently decamped. The troops stand by without interfering, or
+join the rebels. The police, standing at ease, are uncertain whether to
+belabour the crowd, or to cry: "Long live the Commune!" while some
+retire to their quarters to "await the pleasure of the new Government."
+Wealthy citizens pack their trunks and betake themselves to places of
+safety. The people remain. This is how a revolution is ushered in.
+In several large towns the Commune is proclaimed. In the streets wander
+scores of thousands of men, and in the evening they crowd into
+improvised clubs, asking: "What shall we do?" and ardently discuss
+public affairs. All take an interest in them; those who yesterday were
+quite indifferent are perhaps the most zealous. Everywhere there is
+plenty of good-will and a keen desire to make victory certain. It is a
+time when acts of supreme devotion are occurring. The masses of the
+people are full of the desire of going forward.
+All this is splendid, sublime; but still, it is not a revolution. Nay,
+it is only now that the work of the revolutionist begins.
+Doubtless there will be acts of vengeance. The Watrins and the Thomases
+will pay the penalty of their unpopularity; but these are mere incidents
+of the struggle--not the revolution.
+Socialist politicians, radicals, neglected geniuses of journalism, stump
+orators--both middle-class people and workmen--will hurry to the Town
+Hall, to the Government offices, to take possession of the vacant seats.
+Some will decorate themselves with gold and silver lace to their hearts'
+content, admire themselves in ministerial mirrors, and study to give
+orders with an air of importance appropriate to their new position. How
+could they impress their comrades of the office or the workshop without
+having a red sash, an embroidered cap, and magisterial gestures! Others
+will bury themselves in official papers, trying, with the best of
+wills, to make head or tail of them. They will indite laws and issue
+high-flown worded decrees that nobody will take the trouble to carry
+out--because revolution has come.
+To give themselves an authority which they have not they will seek the
+sanction of old forms of Government. They will take the names of
+"Provisional Government," "Committee of Public Safety," "Mayor,"
+"Governor of the Town Hall," "Commissioner of Public Safety," and what
+not. Elected or acclaimed, they will assemble in Boards or in Communal
+Councils, where men of ten or twenty different schools will come
+together, representing--not as many "private chapels," as it is often
+said, but as many different conceptions regarding the scope, the
+bearing, and the goal of the revolution. Possibilists, Collectivists,
+Radicals, Jacobins, Blanquists, will be thrust together, and waste time
+in wordy warfare. Honest men will be huddled together with the ambitious
+ones, whose only dream is power and who spurn the crowd whence they are
+sprung. All coming together with diametrically opposed views,
+all--forced to enter into ephemeral alliances, in order to create
+majorities that can but last a day. Wrangling, calling each other
+reactionaries, authoritarians, and rascals, incapable of coming to an
+understanding on any serious measure, dragged into discussions about
+trifles, producing nothing better than bombastic proclamations; all
+giving themselves an awful importance while the real strength of the
+movement is in the streets.
+All this may please those who like the stage, but it is not revolution.
+Nothing has been accomplished as yet.
+And meanwhile the people suffer. The factories are idle, the workshops
+closed; trade is at a standstill. The worker does not even earn the
+meagre wage which was his before. Food goes up in price. With that
+heroic devotion which has always characterized them, and which in great
+crises reaches the sublime, the people will wait patiently. "We place
+these three months of want at the service of the Republic," they said in
+1848, while "their representatives" and the gentlemen of the new
+Government, down to the meanest Jack-in-office received their salary
+The people suffer. With the childlike faith, with the good humour of the
+masses who believe in their leaders, they think that "yonder," in the
+House, in the Town Hall, in the Committee of Public Safety, their
+welfare is being considered. But "yonder" they are discussing everything
+under the sun except the welfare of the people. In 1793, while famine
+ravaged France and crippled the Revolution; whilst the people were
+reduced to the depths of misery, although the Champs Elysées were lined
+with luxurious carriages where women displayed their jewels and
+splendour, Robespierre was urging the Jacobins to discuss his treatise
+on the English Constitution. While the worker was suffering in 1848 from
+the general stoppage of trade, the Provisional Government and the
+National Assembly were wrangling over military pensions and prison
+labour, without troubling how the people managed to live during the
+terrible crisis. And could one cast a reproach at the Paris Commune,
+which was born beneath the Prussian cannon, and lasted only seventy
+days, it would be for this same error--this failure to understand that
+the Revolution could not triumph unless those who fought on its side
+were fed: that on fifteen pence a day a man cannot fight on the ramparts
+and at the same time support a family.
+The people will suffer and say: "How is a way out of these difficulties
+to be found?"
+It seems to us that there is only one answer to this question: We must
+recognize, and loudly proclaim, that every one, whatever his grade in
+the old society, whether strong or weak, capable or incapable, has,
+before everything, THE RIGHT TO LIVE, and that society is bound to share
+amongst all, without exception, the means of existence it has at its
+disposal. We must acknowledge this, and proclaim it aloud, and act up to
+Affairs must be managed in such a way that from the first day of the
+revolution the worker shall know that a new era is opening before him;
+that henceforward none need crouch under the bridges, while palaces are
+hard by, none need fast in the midst of plenty, none need perish with
+cold near shops full of furs; that all is for all, in practice as well
+as in theory, and that at last, for the first time in history, a
+revolution has been accomplished which considers the NEEDS of the people
+before schooling them in their DUTIES.
+This cannot be brought about by Acts of Parliament, but only by taking
+immediate and effective possession of all that is necessary to ensure
+the well-being of all; this is the only really scientific way of going
+to work, the only way which can be understood and desired by the mass of
+the people. We must take possession, in the name of the people, of the
+granaries, the shops full of clothing and the dwelling houses. Nothing
+must be wasted. We must organize without delay a way to feed the hungry,
+to satisfy all wants, to meet all needs, to produce not for the special
+benefit of this one or that one, but so as to ensure to society as a
+whole its life and further development.
+Enough of ambiguous words like "the right to work," with which the
+people were misled in 1848, and which are still resorted to with the
+hope of misleading them. Let us have the courage to recognise that
+_Well-being for all_, henceforward possible, must be realized.
+When the workers claimed the right to work in 1848, national and
+municipal workshops were organized, and workmen were sent to drudge
+there at the rate of 1s. 8d. a day! When they asked the "Organization of
+Labour," the reply was: "Patience, friends, the Government will see to
+it; meantime here is your 1s. 8d. Rest now, brave toiler, after your
+life-long struggle for food!" And in the meantime the cannons were
+overhauled, the reserves called out, and the workers themselves
+disorganized by the many methods well known to the middle classes, till
+one fine day, in June, 1848, four months after the overthrow of the
+previous Government, they were told to go and colonize Africa, or be
+Very different will be the result if the workers claim the RIGHT TO
+WELL-BEING! In claiming that right they claim the right to take
+possession of the wealth of the community--to take houses to dwell in
+according to the needs of each family; to socialize the stores of food
+and learn the meaning of plenty, after having known famine too well.
+They proclaim their right to all social wealth--fruit of the labour of
+past and present generations--and learn by its means to enjoy those
+higher pleasures of art and science which have too long been monopolized
+by the rich.
+And while asserting their right to live in comfort, they assert, what is
+still more important, their right to decide for themselves what this
+comfort shall be, what must be produced to ensure it, and what discarded
+as no longer of value.
+The "right to well-being" means the possibility of living like human
+beings, and of bringing up children to be members of a society better
+than ours, whilst the "right to work" only means the right to be always
+a wage-slave, a drudge, ruled over and exploited by the middle class of
+the future. The right to well-being is the Social Revolution, the right
+to work means nothing but the Treadmill of Commercialism. It is high
+time for the worker to assert his right to the common inheritance, and
+to enter into possession of it.
+ 4,013,711 now employed in all the 53 branches of different
+industries, including the State Ordnance Works, and 241,530 workers
+engaged in the Construction and Maintenance of Railways, their aggregate
+production reaching the value of £1,041,037,000, and the net output
+## CHAPTER III - ANARCHIST COMMUNISM
+Every society, on abolishing private property will be forced, we
+maintain, to organize itself on the lines of Communistic Anarchy.
+Anarchy leads to Communism, and Communism to Anarchy, both alike being
+expressions of the predominant tendency in modern societies, the pursuit
+Time was when a peasant family could consider the corn it sowed and
+reaped, or the woolen garments woven in the cottage, as the products of
+its own soil. But even then this way of looking at things was not quite
+correct. There were the roads and the bridges made in common, the swamps
+drained by common toil, the communal pastures enclosed by hedges which
+were kept in repair by each and all. If the looms for weaving or the
+dyes for colouring fabrics were improved by somebody, all profited; and
+even in those days a peasant family could not live alone, but was
+dependent in a thousand ways on the village or the commune.
+But nowadays, in the present state of industry, when everything is
+interdependent, when each branch of production is knit up with all the
+rest, the attempt to claim an Individualist origin for the products of
+industry is absolutely untenable. The astonishing perfection attained by
+the textile or mining industries in civilized countries is due to the
+simultaneous development of a thousand other industries, great and
+small, to the extension of the railroad system, to inter-oceanic
+navigation, to the manual skill of thousands of workers, to a certain
+standard of culture reached by the working class as a whole--to the
+labours, in short, of men in every corner of the globe.
+The Italians who died of cholera while making the Suez Canal, or of
+anchylosis in the St. Gothard Tunnel, and the Americans mowed down by
+shot and shell while fighting for the abolition of slavery, have helped
+to develop the cotton industry of France and England, as well as the
+work-girls who languish in the factories of Manchester and Rouen, and
+the inventor who (following the suggestion of some worker) succeeds in
+improving the looms.
+How then, shall we estimate the share of each in the riches which ALL
+contribute to amass?
+Looking at production from this general, synthetic point of view, we
+cannot hold with the Collectivists that payment proportionate to the
+hours of labour rendered by each would be an ideal arrangement, or even
+a step in the right direction.
+Without discussing whether exchange value of goods is really measured in
+existing societies by the amount of work necessary to produce
+it--according to the teaching of Adam Smith and Ricardo, in whose
+footsteps Marx has followed--suffice it to say here, leaving ourselves
+free to return to the subject later, that the Collectivist ideal appears
+to us untenable in a society which considers the instruments of labour
+as a common inheritance. Starting from this principle, such a society
+would find itself forced from the very outset to abandon all forms of
+The migrated individualism of the Collectivist system certainly could
+not maintain itself alongside a partial communism--the socialization of
+land and the instruments of production. A new form of property requires
+a new form of remuneration. A new method of production cannot exist side
+by side with the old forms of consumption, any more than it can adapt
+itself to the old forms of political organization.
+The wage system arises out of the individual ownership of the land and
+the instruments of labour. It was the necessary condition for the
+development of capitalist production, and will perish with it, in spite
+of the attempt to disguise it as "profit-sharing." The common
+possession of the instruments of labour must necessarily bring with it
+the enjoyment in common of the fruits of common labour.
+We hold further that Communism is not only desirable, but that existing
+societies, founded on Individualism, _are inevitably impelled in the
+direction of Communism_. The development of Individualism during the
+last three centuries is explained by the efforts of the individual to
+protect himself from the tyranny of Capital and of the State. For a time
+he imagined, and those who expressed his thought for him declared, that
+he could free himself entirely from the State and from society. "By
+means of money," he said, "I can buy all that I need." But the
+individual was on a wrong track, and modern history has taught him to
+recognize that, without the help of all, he can do nothing, although his
+strong-boxes are full of gold.
+In fact, along this current of Individualism, we find in all modern
+history a tendency, on the one hand to retain all that remains of the
+partial Communism of antiquity, and, on the other, to establish the
+Communist principle in the thousand developments of modern life.
+As soon as the communes of the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries
+had succeeded in emancipating themselves from their lords,
+ecclesiastical or lay, their communal labour and communal consumption
+began to extend and develop rapidly. The township--and not private
+persons--freighted ships and equipped expeditions, for the export of
+their manufacture, and the benefit arising from the foreign trade did
+not accrue to individuals, but was shared by all. At the outset, the
+townships also bought provisions for all their citizens. Traces of these
+institutions have lingered on into the nineteenth century, and the
+people piously cherish the memory of them in their legends.
+All that has disappeared. But the rural township still struggles to
+preserve the last traces of this Communism, and it succeeds--except when
+the State throws its heavy sword into the balance.
+Meanwhile new organizations, based on the same principle--_to every man
+according to his needs_--spring up under a thousand different forms; for
+without a certain leaven of Communism the present societies could not
+exist. In spite of the narrowly egoistic turn given to men's minds by
+the commercial system, the tendency towards Communism is constantly
+appearing, and it influences our activities in a variety of ways.
+The bridges, for the use of which a toll was levied in the old days,
+have become public property and are free to all; so are the high roads,
+except in the East, where a toll is still exacted from the traveller for
+every mile of his journey. Museums, free libraries, free schools, free
+meals for children; parks and gardens open to all; streets paved and
+lighted, free to all; water supplied to every house without measure or
+stint--all such arrangements are founded on the principle: "Take what
+The tramways and railways have already introduced monthly and annual
+season tickets, without limiting the number of journeys taken; and two
+nations, Hungary and Russia, have introduced on their railways the zone
+system, which permits the holder to travel five hundred or eight hundred
+miles for the same price. It is but a short step from that to a uniform
+charge, such as already prevails in the postal service. In all these
+innovations, and in a thousand others, the tendency is not to measure
+the individual consumption. One man wants to travel eight hundred miles,
+another five hundred. These are personal requirements. There is no
+sufficient reason why one should pay twice as much as the other because
+his need is twice as great. Such are the signs which appear even now in
+our individualist societies.
+Moreover, there is a tendency, though still a feeble one, to consider
+the needs of the individual, irrespective of his past or possible
+services to the community. We are beginning to think of society as a
+whole, each part of which is so intimately bound up with the others that
+a service rendered to one is a service rendered to all.
+When you go to a public library--not indeed the National Library of
+Paris, but, say, into the British Museum or the Berlin Library--the
+librarian does not ask what services you have rendered to society before
+giving you the book, or the fifty books, which you require; he even
+comes to your assistance if you do not know how to manage the catalogue.
+By means of uniform credentials--and very often a contribution of work
+is preferred--the scientific society opens its museums, its gardens, its
+library, its laboratories, and its annual conversaziones to each of its
+members, whether he be a Darwin, or a simple amateur.
+At St. Petersburg, if you are elaborating an invention, you go into a
+special laboratory, where you are given a place, a carpenter's bench, a
+turning lathe, all the necessary tools and scientific instruments,
+provided only you know how to use them; and you are allowed to work
+there as long as you please. There are the tools; interest others in
+your idea; join with fellow workers skilled in various crafts, or work
+alone if you prefer it. Invent a flying machine, or invent nothing--that
+is your own affair. You are pursuing an idea--that is enough.
+In the same way, those who man the lifeboat do not ask credentials from
+the crew of a sinking ship; they launch their boat, risk their lives in
+the raging waves, and sometimes perish, all to save men whom they do not
+even know. And what need to know them? "They are human beings, and they
+need our aid--that is enough, that establishes their right---- To the
+Thus we find a tendency, eminently communistic, springing up on all
+sides, and in various guises, in the very heart of theoretically
+Suppose that one of our great cities, so egotistic in ordinary times,
+were visited to-morrow by some calamity--a siege, for instance--that
+same selfish city would decide that the first needs to satisfy were
+those of the children and the aged. Without asking what services they
+had rendered, or were likely to render to society, it would first of all
+feed them. Then the combatants would be cared for, irrespective of the
+courage or the intelligence which each had displayed, and thousands of
+men and women would outvie each other in unselfish devotion to the
+This tendency exists, and is felt as soon as the most pressing needs of
+each are satisfied, and in proportion as the productive power of the
+race increases. It becomes an active force every time a great idea comes
+to oust the mean preoccupations of everyday life.
+How can we doubt, then, that when the instruments of production are
+placed at the service of all, when business is conducted on Communist
+principles, when labour, having recovered its place of honour in
+society, produces much more than is necessary to all--how can we doubt
+that this force (already so powerful), will enlarge its sphere of action
+till it becomes the ruling principle of social life?
+Following these indications, and considering further the practical side
+of expropriation, of which we shall speak in the following chapters, we
+are convinced that our first obligation, when the revolution shall have
+broken the power upholding the present system, will be to realize
+Communism without delay.
+But ours is neither the Communism of Fourier and the Phalansteriens, nor
+of the German State Socialists. It is Anarchist Communism, Communism
+without government--the Communism of the Free. It is the synthesis of
+the two ideals pursued by humanity throughout the ages--Economic and
+In taking "Anarchy" for our ideal of political organization we are only
+giving expression to another marked tendency of human progress. Whenever
+European societies have developed up to a certain point, they have
+shaken off the yoke of authority and substituted a system founded more
+or less on the principles of individual liberty. And history shows us
+that these periods of partial or general revolution, when the old
+governments were overthrown, were also periods of sudden, progress both
+in the economic and the intellectual field. So it was after the
+enfranchisement of the communes, whose monuments, produced by the free
+labour of the guilds, have never been surpassed; so it was after the
+great peasant uprising which brought about the Reformation and
+imperilled the papacy; and so it was again with the society, free for a
+brief space, which was created on the other side of the Atlantic by the
+malcontents from the Old world.
+And, if we observe the present development of civilized nations, we see,
+most unmistakably, a movement ever more and more marked tending to limit
+the sphere of action of the Government, and to allow more and more
+liberty to the individual. This evolution is going on before our eyes,
+though cumbered by the ruins and rubbish of old institutions and old
+superstitions. Like all evolutions, it only waits a revolution to
+overthrow the old obstacles which block the way, that it may find free
+scope in a regenerated society.
+After having striven long in vain to solve the insoluble problem--the
+problem of constructing a government "which will constrain the
+individual to obedience without itself ceasing to be the servant of
+society," men at last attempt to free themselves from every form of
+government and to satisfy their need for organization by free contacts
+between individuals and groups pursuing the same aim. The independence
+of each small territorial unit becomes a pressing need; mutual agreement
+replaces law in order to regulate individual interests in view of a
+common object--very often disregarding the frontiers of the present
+All that was once looked on as a function of the Government is to-day
+called in question. Things are arranged more easily and more
+satisfactorily without the intervention of the State. And in studying
+the progress made in this direction, we are led to conclude that the
+tendency of the human race is to reduce Government interference to zero;
+in fact, to abolish the State, the personification of injustice,
+oppression, and monopoly.
+We can already catch glimpses of a world in which the bonds which bind
+the individual are no longer laws, but social habits--the result of the
+need felt by each one of us to seek the support, the co-operation, the
+sympathy of his neighbours.
+Assuredly the idea of a society without a State will give rise to at
+least as many objections as the political economy of a society without
+private capital. We have all been brought up from our childhood to
+regard the State as a sort of Providence; all our education, the Roman
+history we learned at school, the Byzantine code which we studied later
+under the name of Roman law, and the various sciences taught at the
+universities, accustom us to believe in Government and in the virtues of
+the State providential.
+To maintain this superstition whole systems of philosophy have been
+elaborated and taught; all politics are based on this principle; and
+each politician, whatever his colours, comes forward and says to the
+people, "Give my party the power; we can and we will free you from the
+miseries which press so heavily upon you."
+From the cradle to the grave all our actions are guided by this
+principle. Open any book on sociology or jurisprudence, and you will
+find there the Government, its organization, its acts, filling so large
+a place that we come to believe that there is nothing outside the
+Government and the world of statesmen.
+The Press teaches us the same in every conceivable way. Whole columns
+are devoted to parliamentary debates and to political intrigues; while
+the vast everyday life of a nation appears only in the columns given to
+economic subjects, or in the pages devoted to reports of police and law
+cases. And when you read the newspapers, your hardly think of the
+incalculable number of beings--all humanity, so to say--who grow up and
+die, who know sorrow, who work and consume, think and create outside the
+few encumbering personages who have been so magnified that humanity is
+hidden by their shadows, enlarged by our ignorance.
+And yet as soon as we pass from printed matter to life itself, as soon
+as we throw a glance at society, we are struck by the infinitesimal part
+played by the Government. Balzac already has remarked how millions of
+peasants spend the whole of their lives without knowing anything about
+the State, save the heavy taxes they are compelled to pay. Every day
+millions of transactions are made without Government intervention, and
+the greatest of them--those of commerce and of the Exchange--are carried
+on in such a way that the Government could not be appealed to if one of
+the contracting parties had the intention of not fulfilling his
+agreement. Should you speak to a man who understands commerce, he will
+tell you that the everyday business transacted by merchants would be
+absolutely impossible were it not based on mutual confidence. The habit
+of keeping his word, the desire not to lose his credit, amply suffice to
+maintain this relative honesty. The man who does not feel the slightest
+remorse when poisoning his customers with noxious drugs covered with
+pompous labels, thinks he is in honour bound to keep his engagements.
+But if this relative morality has developed under present conditions,
+when enrichment is the only incentive and the only aim, can we doubt its
+rapid progress when appropriation of the fruits of others' labour will
+no longer be the basis of society?
+Another striking fact, which especially characterizes our generation,
+speaks still more in favour of our ideas. It is the continual extension
+of the field of enterprise due to private initiative, and the prodigious
+development of free organizations of all kinds. We shall discuss this
+more at length in the chapter devoted to _Free Agreement_. Suffice it to
+mention that the facts are so numerous and so customary that they are
+the essence of the second half of the nineteenth century, even though
+political and socialist writers ignore them, always preferring to talk
+to us about the functions of the Government.
+These organizations, free and infinitely varied, are so natural an
+outcome of our civilization; they expand so rapidly and federate with
+so much ease; they are so necessary a result of the continual growth of
+the needs of civilized man; and lastly, they so advantageously replace
+governmental interference, that we must recognize in them a factor of
+growing importance in the life of societies. If they do not yet spread
+over the whole of the manifestations of life, it is that they find an
+insurmountable obstacle in the poverty of the worker, in the divisions
+of present society, in the private appropriation of capital, and in the
+State. Abolish these obstacles, and you will see them covering the
+immense field of civilized man's activity.
+The history of the last fifty years furnishes a living proof that
+Representative Government is impotent to discharge all the functions we
+have sought to assign to it. In days to come the nineteenth century will
+be quoted as having witnessed the failure of parliamentarianism.
+This impotence is becoming so evident to all; the faults of
+parliamentarianism, and the inherent vices of the representative
+principle, are so self-evident, that the few thinkers who have made a
+critical study of them (J. S. Mill, Leverdays), did but give literary
+form to the popular dissatisfaction. It is not difficult, indeed, to see
+the absurdity of naming a few men and saying to them, "Make laws
+regulating all our spheres of activity, although not one of you knows
+anything about them!"
+We are beginning to see that government by majorities means abandoning
+all the affairs of the country to the tide-waiters who make up the
+majorities in the House and in election committees; to those, in a word,
+who have no opinion of their own.
+Mankind is seeking and already finding new issues. The International
+Postal Union, the railway unions, and the learned societies give us
+examples of solutions based on free agreement in place and stead of law.
+To-day, when groups scattered far and wide wish to organize themselves
+for some object or other, they no longer elect an international
+parliament of Jacks-of-all-trades. They proceed in a different way.
+Where it is not possible to meet directly or come to an agreement by
+correspondence, delegates versed in the question at issue are sent, and
+they are told: "Endeavour to come to an agreement on such or such a
+question, and then return, not with a law in your pocket, but with a
+proposition of agreement which we may or may not accept."
+Such is the method of the great industrial companies, the learned
+societies, and numerous associations of every description, which already
+cover Europe and the United States. And such will be the method of a
+free society. A society founded on serfdom is in keeping with absolute
+monarchy; a society based on the wage system and the exploitation of the
+masses by the capitalists finds its political expression in
+parliamentarianism. But a free society, regaining possession of the
+common inheritance, must seek in free groups and free federations of
+groups, a new organization, in harmony with the new economic phase of
+Every economic phase has a political phase corresponding to it, and it
+would be impossible to touch private property unless a new mode of
+political life be found at the same time.
+## CHAPTER IV - EXPROPRIATION
+It is told of Rothschild that, seeing his fortune threatened by the
+Revolution of 1848, he hit upon the following stratagem: "I am quite
+willing to admit," said he, "that my fortune has been accumulated at the
+expense of others; but if it were divided to-morrow among the millions
+of Europe, the share of each would only amount to four shillings. Very
+well, then, I undertake to render to each his four shillings if he asks
+me for it."
+Having given due publicity to his promise, our millionaire proceeded as
+usual to stroll quietly through the streets of Frankfort. Three or four
+passers-by asked for their four shillings, which he disbursed with a
+sardonic smile. His stratagem succeeded, and the family of the
+millionaire is still in possession of its wealth.
+It is in much the same fashion that the shrewed heads among the middle
+classes reason when they say, "Ah, Expropriation! I know what that
+means. You take all the overcoats and lay them in a heap, and every one
+is free to help himself and fight for the best."
+But such jests are irrelevant as well as flippant. What we want is not a
+redistribution of overcoats, although it must be said that even in such
+a case, the shivering folk would see advantage in it. Nor do we want to
+divide up the wealth of the Rothschilds. What we do want is so to
+arrange things that every human being born into the world shall be
+ensured the opportunity, in the first instance of learning some useful
+occupation, and of becoming skilled in it; and next, that he shall be
+free to work at his trade without asking leave of master or owner, and
+without handing over to landlord or capitalist the lion's share of what
+he produces. As to the wealth held by the Rothschilds or the
+Vanderbilts, it will serve us to organize our system of communal
+The day when the labourer may till the ground without paying away half
+of what he produces, the day when the machines necessary to prepare the
+soil for rich harvests are at the free disposal of the cultivators, the
+day when the worker in the factory produces for the community and not
+the monopolist--that day will see the workers clothed and fed, and there
+will be no more Rothschilds or other exploiters.
+No one will then have to sell his working power for a wage that only
+represents a fraction of what he produces.
+"So far, so good," say our critics, "but you will have Rothschilds
+coming in from the outside. How are you to prevent a person from
+amassing millions in China, and then settling amongst you? How are you
+going to prevent such a one from surrounding himself with lackeys and
+wage-slaves--from exploiting them and enriching himself at their
+"You cannot bring about a revolution all over the world at the same
+time. Well, then--are you going to establish custom-houses on your
+frontiers to search all who enter your country and confiscate the money
+they bring with them?--Anarchist policemen firing on travellers would be
+a fine spectacle!"
+But at the root of this argument there is a great error. Those who
+propound it have never paused to inquire whence come the fortunes of the
+rich. A little thought would, however, suffice to show them that these
+fortunes have their beginnings in the poverty of the poor. When there
+are no longer any destitute, there will no longer be any rich to exploit
+Let us glance for a moment at the Middle Ages, when great fortunes began
+to spring up.
+A feudal baron seizes on a fertile valley. But as long as the fertile
+valley is empty of folk our baron is not rich. His land brings him in
+nothing; he might as well possess a property in the moon.
+What does our baron do to enrich himself? He looks out for peasants--for
+If every peasant-farmer had a piece of land, free from rent and taxes,
+if he had in addition the tools and the stock necessary for farm
+labour--Who would plough the lands of the baron? Everyone would look
+after his own. But there are thousands of destitute persons ruined by
+wars, or drought, or pestilence. They have neither horse nor plough.
+(Iron was very costly in the Middle Ages, and a draught-horse still more
+All these destitute creatures are trying to better their condition. One
+day they see on the road at the confines of our baron's estate a
+notice-board indicating by certain signs adapted to their comprehension
+that the labourer who is willing to settle on his estate will receive
+the tools and materials to build his cottage and sow his fields, and a
+portion of land rent free for a certain number of years. The number of
+years is represented by so many crosses on the sign-board, and the
+peasant understands the meaning of these crosses.
+So the poor wretches come to settle on the baron's lands. They make
+roads, drain the marshes, build villages. In nine or ten years the baron
+begins to tax them. Five years later he increases the rent. Then he
+doubles it, and the peasant accepts these new conditions because he
+cannot find better ones elsewhere. Little by little, with the aid of
+laws made by the barons, the poverty of the peasant becomes the source
+of the landlord's wealth. And it is not only the lord of the manor who
+preys upon him. A whole host of usurers swoop down upon the villages,
+multiplying as the wretchedness of the peasants increases. That is how
+these things happened in the Middle Ages. And to-day is it not still the
+same thing? If there were free lands which the peasant could cultivate
+if he pleased, would he pay £50 to some "shabble of a Duke" for
+condescending to sell him a scrap? Would he burden himself with a lease
+which absorbed a third of the produce? Would he--on the métayer
+system--consent to give half of his harvest to the landowner?
+But he has nothing. So he will accept any conditions, if only he can
+keep body and soul together, while he tills the soil and enriches the
+So in the nineteenth century, just as in the Middle Ages, the poverty of
+the peasant is a source of wealth to the landed proprietor.
+The landlord owes his riches to the poverty of the peasants, and the
+wealth of the capitalist comes from the same source.
+Take the case of a citizen of the middle class, who somehow or other
+finds himself in possession of £20,000. He could, of course, spend his
+money at the rate of £2,000 a year, a mere bagatelle in these days of
+fantastic, senseless luxury. But then he would have nothing left at the
+end of ten years. So, being a "practical person," he prefers to keep his
+fortune intact, and win for himself a snug little annual income as well.
+This is very easy in our society, for the good reason that the towns and
+villages swarm with workers who have not the wherewithal to live for a
+month, or even a fortnight. So our worthy citizen starts a factory. The
+banks hasten to lend him another £20,000, especially if he has a
+reputation for "business ability"; and with this round sum he can
+command the labour of five hundred hands.
+If all the men and women in the countryside had their daily bread
+assured, and their daily needs already satisfied, who would work for our
+capitalist at a wage of half a crown a day, while the commodities one
+produces in a day sell in the market for a crown or more?
+Unhappily--we know it all too well--the poor quarters of our towns and
+the neighbouring villages are full of needy wretches, whose children
+clamour for bread. So, before the factory is well finished, the workers
+hasten to offer themselves. Where a hundred are required three hundred
+besiege the doors, and from the time his mill is started, the owner, if
+he only has average business capacities, will clear £40 a year out of
+each mill-hand he employs.
+He is thus able to lay by a snug little fortune; and if he chooses a
+lucrative trade, and has "business talents," he will soon increase his
+income by doubling the number of men he exploits.
+So he becomes a personage of importance. He can afford to give dinners
+to other personages--to the local magnates, the civic, legal, and
+political dignitaries. With his money he can "marry money"; by and by he
+may pick and choose places for his children, and later on perhaps get
+something good from the Government--a contract for the army or for the
+police. His gold breeds gold; till at last a war, or even a rumour of
+war, or a speculation on the Stock Exchange, gives him his great
+Nine-tenths of the great fortunes made in the United States are (as
+Henry George has shown in his "Social Problems") the result of knavery
+on a large scale, assisted by the State. In Europe, nine-tenths of the
+fortunes made in our monarchies and republics have the same origin.
+There are not two ways of becoming a millionaire.
+This is the secret of wealth: find the starving and destitute, pay them
+half a crown, and make them produce five shillings worth in the day,
+amass a fortune by these means, and then increase it by some lucky
+speculation, made with the help of the State.
+Need we go on to speak of small fortunes attributed by the economists to
+forethought and frugality, when we know that mere saving in itself
+brings in nothing, so long as the pence saved are not used to exploit
+Take a shoemaker, for instance. Grant that his work is well paid, that
+he has plenty of custom, and that by dint of strict frugality he
+contrives to lay by from eighteen pence to two shillings a day, perhaps
+two pounds a month.
+Grant that our shoemaker is never ill, that he does not half starve
+himself, in spite of his passion for economy; that he does not marry or
+that he has no children; that he does not die of consumption; suppose
+anything and everything you please!
+Well, at the age of fifty he will not have scraped together £800; and
+he will not have enough to live on during his old age, when he is past
+work. Assuredly this is not how fortunes are made. But suppose our
+shoemaker, as soon as he has laid by a few pence, thriftily conveys them
+to the savings bank and that the savings bank lends them to the
+capitalist who is just about to "employ labour," i.e., to exploit the
+poor. Then our shoemaker takes an apprentice, the child of some poor
+wretch, who will think himself lucky if in five years' time his son has
+learned the trade and is able to earn his living.
+Meanwhile our shoemaker does not lose by him, and if trade is brisk he
+soon takes a second, and then a third apprentice. By and by he will take
+two or three working men--poor wretches, thankful to receive half a
+crown a day for work that is worth five shillings, and if our shoemaker
+is "in luck," that is to say, if he is keen enough and mean enough, his
+working men and apprentices will bring him in nearly one pound a day,
+over and above the product of his own toil. He can then enlarge his
+business. He will gradually become rich, and no longer have any need to
+stint himself in the necessaries of life. He will leave a snug little
+fortune to his son.
+That is what people call "being economical and having frugal, temperate
+habits." At bottom it is nothing more nor less than grinding the face of
+Commerce seems an exception to this rule. "Such a man," we are told,
+"buys tea in China, brings it to France, and realizes a profit of thirty
+per cent. on his original outlay. He has exploited nobody."
+Nevertheless the case is quite similar. If our merchant had carried his
+bales on his back, well and good! In early medieval times that was
+exactly how foreign trade was conducted, and so no one reached such
+giddy heights of fortune as in our days. Very few and very hardly earned
+were the gold coins which the medieval merchant gained from a long and
+dangerous voyage. It was less the love of money than the thirst of
+travel and adventure that inspired his undertakings.
+Nowadays the method is simpler. A merchant who has some capital need not
+stir from his desk to become wealthy. He telegraphs to an agent telling
+him to buy a hundred tons of tea; he freights a ship, and in a few
+weeks, in three months if it is a sailing ship, the vessels brings him
+his cargo. He does not even take the risks of the voyage, for his tea
+and his vessel are insured, and if he has expended four thousand pounds
+he will receive more than five or six thousand; that is to say, if he
+has not attempted to speculate in some novel commodities, in which case
+he runs a chance of either doubling his fortune or losing it altogether.
+Now, how could he find men willing to cross the sea, to travel to China
+and back, to endure hardship and slavish toil and to risk their lives
+for a miserable pittance? How could he find dock labourers willing to
+load and unload his ships for "starvation wages"? How? Because they are
+needy and starving. Go to the seaports, visit the cook-shops and taverns
+on the quays, and look at these men who have come to hire themselves,
+crowding round the dock-gates, which they besiege from early dawn,
+hoping to be allowed to work on the vessels. Look at these sailors,
+happy to be hired for a long voyage, after weeks and months of waiting.
+All their lives long they have gone to the sea in ships, and they will
+sail in others still, until they have perished in the waves.
+Enter their homes, look at their wives and children in rags, living one
+knows not how till the father's return, and you will have the answer to
+Multiply examples, choose them where you will, consider the origin of
+all fortunes, large or small, whether arising out of commerce, finance,
+manufacturers, or the land. Everywhere you will find that the wealth of
+the wealthy springs from the poverty of the poor. This is why an
+anarchist society need not fear the advent of a Rothschild who would
+settle in its midst. If every member of the community knows that after a
+few hours of productive toil he will have a right to all the pleasures
+that civilization procures, and to those deeper sources of enjoyment
+which art and science offer to all who seek them, he will not sell his
+strength for a starvation wage. No one will volunteer to work for the
+enrichment of your Rothschild. His golden guineas will be only so many
+pieces of metal--useful for various purposes, but incapable of breeding
+In answering the above objection we have at the same time indicated the
+scope of Expropriation. It must apply to everything that enables any
+man--be he financier, mill-owner, or landlord--to appropriate the
+product of others' toil. Our formula is simple and comprehensive.
+We do not want to rob any one of his coat, but we wish to give to the
+workers all those things the lack of which makes them fall an easy prey
+to the exploiter, and we will do our utmost that none shall lack aught,
+that not a single man shall be forced to sell the strength of his right
+arm to obtain a bare subsistence for himself and his babes. This is what
+we mean when we talk of Expropriation; this will be our duty during the
+Revolution, for whose coming we look, not two hundred years hence, but
+soon, very soon.
+The ideas of Anarchism in general and of Expropriation in particular
+find much more sympathy than we are apt to imagine among men of
+independent character, and those for whom idleness is not the supreme
+ideal. "Still," our friends often warn us, "take care you do not go too
+far! Humanity cannot be changed in a day, so do not be in to great a
+hurry with your schemes of Expropriation and Anarchy, or you will be in
+danger of achieving no permanent result."
+Now, what we fear with regard to Expropriation is exactly the contrary.
+We are afraid of not going far enough, of carrying out Expropriation on
+too small a scale to be lasting. We would not have the revolutionary
+impulse arrested in mid-career, to exhaust itself in half measures,
+which would content no one, and while producing a tremendous confusion
+in society, and stopping its customary activities, would have no vital
+power--would merely spread general discontent and inevitably prepare the
+way for the triumph of reaction.
+There are, in fact, in a modern State established relations which it is
+practically impossible to modify if one attacks them only in detail.
+There are wheels within wheels in our economic organization--the
+machinery is so complex and interdependent that no one part can be
+modified without disturbing the whole. This becomes clear as soon as an
+attempt is made to expropriate anything.
+Let us suppose that in a certain country a limited form of expropriation
+is effected. For example, that, as it has been suggested more than once,
+only the property of the great landlords is socialized, whilst the
+factories are left untouched; or that, in a certain city, house property
+is taken over by the Commune, but everything else is left to private
+ownership; or that, in some manufacturing centre, the factories are
+communalized, but the land is not interfered with.
+The same result would follow in each case--a terrible shattering of the
+industrial system, without the means of reorganizing it on new lines.
+Industry and finance would be at a deadlock, yet a return to the first
+principles of justice would not have been achieved, and society would
+find itself powerless to construct a harmonious whole.
+If agriculture were freed from great landowners, while industry still
+remained the bond-slave of the capitalist, the merchant, and the banker,
+nothing would be accomplished. The peasant suffers to-day not only in
+having to pay rent to the landlord; he is oppressed on all hands by
+existing conditions. He is exploited by the tradesman, who makes him
+pay half a crown for a spade which, measured by the labour spent on it,
+is not worth more than sixpence. He is taxed by the State, which cannot
+do without its formidable hierarchy of officials, and finds it necessary
+to maintain an expensive army, because the traders of all nations are
+perpetually fighting for the markets, and any day a little quarrel
+arising from the exploitation of some part of Asia or Africa may result
+Then again the peasant suffers from the depopulation of country places:
+the young people are attracted to the large manufacturing towns by the
+bait of high wages paid temporarily by the producers of articles of
+luxury, or by the attractions of a more stirring life. The artificial
+protection of industry, the industrial exploitation of foreign
+countries, the prevalence of stock-jobbing, the difficulty of improving
+the soil and the machinery of production--all these agencies combine
+nowadays to work against agriculture, which is burdened not only by
+rent, but by the whole complex of conditions in a society based on
+exploitation. Thus, even if the expropriation of land were accomplished,
+and every one were free to till the soil and cultivate it to the best
+advantage, without paying rent, agriculture, even though it should
+enjoy--which can by no means be taken for granted--a momentary
+prosperity, would soon fall back into the slough in which it finds
+itself to-day. The whole thing would have to be begun over again, with
+The same holds true of industry. Take the converse case: instead of
+turning the agricultural labourers into peasant-proprietors,
+make over the factories to those who work in them. Abolish the
+master-manufacturers, but leave the landlord his land, the banker his
+money, the merchant his Exchange; maintain the swarm of idlers who live
+on the toil of the workmen, the thousand and one middlemen, the State
+with its numberless officials,--and industry would come to a standstill.
+Finding no purchasers in the mass of peasants who would remain poor; not
+possessing the raw material, and unable to export their produce, partly
+on account of the stoppage of trade, and still more so because
+industries spread all over the world, the manufacturers would feel
+unable to struggle, and thousands of workers would be thrown upon the
+streets. These starving crowds would be ready and willing to submit to
+the first schemer who came to exploit them; they would even consent to
+return to the old slavery, under promise of guaranteed work.
+Or, finally, suppose you oust the landowners, and hand over the mills
+and factories to the worker, without interfering with the swarm of
+middlemen who drain the product of our manufacturers, and speculate in
+corn and flour, meat and groceries, in our great centres of commerce.
+Then, as soon as the exchange of produce is slackened; as soon as the
+great cities are left without bread, while the great manufacturing
+centres find no buyers for the articles of luxury they produce,--the
+counter-revolution is bound to take place, and it would come, treading
+upon the slain, sweeping the towns and villages with shot and shell;
+indulging in orgies of proscriptions and deportations, such as were seen
+in France in 1815, 1848, and 1871.
+All is interdependent in a civilized society; it is impossible to reform
+any one thing without altering the whole. Therefore, on the day a nation
+will strike at private property, under any one of its forms, territorial
+or industrial, it will be obliged to attack them all. The very success
+of the Revolution will impose it.
+Besides, even if it were desired, it would be impossible to confine the
+change to a partial expropriation. Once the principle of the "Divine
+Right of Property" is shaken, no amount of theorizing will prevent its
+overthrow, here by the slaves of the field, there by the slaves of the
+If a great town, Paris for example, were to confine itself to taking
+possession of the dwelling houses of the factories, it would be forced
+also to deny the right of the bankers to levy upon the Commune a tax
+amounting to £2,000,000, in the form of interest for former loans. The
+great city would be obliged to put itself in touch with the rural
+districts, and its influence would inevitably urge the peasants to free
+themselves from the landowner. It would be necessary to communalize the
+railways, that the citizens might get food and work, and lastly, to
+prevent the waste of supplies; and to guard against the trusts of
+corn-speculators, like those to whom the Paris Commune of 1793 fell a
+prey, it would have to place in the hands of the City the work of
+stocking its warehouses with commodities, and apportioning the produce.
+Some Socialists still seek, however, to establish a distinction. "Of
+course," they say, "the soil, the mines, the mills, and manufacturers
+must be expropriated, these are the instruments of production, and it is
+right we should consider them public property. But articles of
+consumption--food, clothes, and dwellings--should remain private
+Popular common sense has got the better of this subtle distinction. We
+are not savages who can live in the woods, without other shelter than
+the branches. The civilized man needs a roof, a room, a hearth, and a
+bed. It is true that the bed, the room, and the house is a home of
+idleness for the non-producer. But for the worker, a room, properly
+heated and lighted, is as much an instrument of production as the tool
+or the machine. It is the place where the nerves and sinews gather
+strength for the work of the morrow. The rest of the workman is the
+daily repairing of the machine.
+The same argument applies even more obviously to food. The so-called
+economists, who make the just-mentioned distinction, would hardly deny
+that the coal burnt in a machine is as necessary to production as the
+raw material itself. How then can food, without which the human machine
+could do no work, be excluded from the list of things indispensable to
+the producer? Can this be a relic of religious metaphysics? The rich
+man's feast is indeed a matter of luxury, but the food of the worker is
+just as much a part of production as the fuel burnt by the steam-engine.
+The same with clothing. We are not New Guinea savages. And if the dainty
+gowns of our ladies must rank as objects of luxury, there is
+nevertheless a certain quantity of linen, cotton, and woolen stuff which
+is a necessity of life to the producer. The shirt and trousers in which
+he goes to his work, the jacket he slips on after the day's toil is
+over, are as necessary to him as the hammer to the anvil.
+Whether we like it or not, this is what the people mean by a revolution.
+As soon as they have made a clean sweep of the Government, they will
+seek first of all to ensure to themselves decent dwellings and
+sufficient food and clothes--free of capitalist rent.
+And the people will be right. The methods of the people will be much
+more in accordance with science than those of the economists who draw so
+many distinctions between instruments of production and articles of
+consumption. The people understand that this is just the point where the
+Revolution ought to begin; and they will lay the foundations of the only
+economic science worthy the name--a science which might be called: "_The
+Study of the Needs of Humanity, and of the Economic Means to satisfy
+ "Shabble of a Duke" is an expression coined by Carlyle; it is a
+somewhat free rendering of Kropotkine's "Monsieur le Vicomte," but I
+think it expresses his meaning.--_Trans._
+## CHAPTER V - FOOD
+If the coming Revolution is to be a Social Revolution, it will be
+distinguished from all former uprisings not only by its aim, but also by
+its methods. To attain a new end, new means are required.
+The three great popular movements which we have seen in France during
+the last hundred years differ from each other in many ways, but they
+have one common feature.
+In each case the people strove to overturn the old regime, and spent
+their heart's blood for the cause. Then, after having borne the brunt of
+the battle, they sank again into obscurity. A Government, composed of
+men more or less honest, was formed and undertook to organize a new
+regime: the Republic in 1793, Labour in 1848, the Free Commune in 1871.
+Imbued with Jacobin ideas, this Government occupied itself first of all
+with political questions, such as the reorganization of the machinery of
+government, the purifying of the administration, the separation of
+Church and State, civic liberty, and such matters. It is true the
+workmen's clubs kept an eye on the members of the new Government, and
+often imposed their ideas on them. But even in these clubs, whether the
+leaders belonged to the middle or the working classes, it was always
+middle-class ideas which prevailed. They discussed various political
+questions at great length, but forgot to discuss the question of bread.
+Great ideas sprang up at such times, ideas that have moved the world;
+words were spoken which still stir our hearts, at the interval of more
+than a century. But the people were starving in the slums.
+From the very Commencement of the Revolution industry inevitably came to
+a stop--the circulation of produce was checked, and capital concealed
+itself. The master--the employer--had nothing to fear at such times, he
+fattened on his dividends, if indeed he did not speculate on the
+wretchedness around; but the wage-earner was reduced to live from hand
+to mouth. Want knocked at the door.
+Famine was abroad in the land--such famine as had hardly been seen under
+the old regime.
+"The Girondists are starving us!" was the cry in the workmen's quarters
+in 1793, and thereupon the Girondists were guillotined, and full powers
+were given to "the Mountain" and to the Commune. The Commune indeed
+concerned itself with the question of bread, and made heroic efforts to
+feed Paris. At Lyons, Fouché and Collot d'Herbois established city
+granaries, but the sums spent on filling them were woefully
+insufficient. The town councils made great efforts to procure corn; the
+bakers who hoarded flour were hanged--and still the people lacked bread.
+Then they turned on the royalist conspirators and laid the blame at
+their door. They guillotined a dozen or fifteen a day--servants and
+duchesses alike, especially servants, for the duchesses had gone to
+Coblentz. But if they had guillotined a hundred dukes and viscounts
+every day, it would have been equally hopeless.
+The want only grew. For the wage-earner cannot live without his wage,
+and the wage was not forthcoming. What difference could a thousand
+corpses more or less make to him?
+Then the people began to grow weary. "So much for your vaunted
+Revolution! You are more wretched than ever before," whispered the
+reactionary in the ears of the worker. And little by little the rich
+took courage, emerged from their hiding-places, and flaunted their
+luxury in the face of the starving multitude. They dressed up like
+scented fops and said to the workers: "Come, enough of this foolery!
+What have you gained by your Revolution?"
+And, sick at heart, his patience at an end, the revolutionary had at
+last to admit to himself that the cause was lost once more. He retreated
+into his hovel and awaited the worst.
+Then reaction proudly asserted itself, and accomplished a
+counter-revolutionary stroke. The Revolution dead, nothing remained but
+to trample its corpse under foot.
+The White Terror began. Blood flowed like water, the guillotine was
+never idle, the prisons were crowded, while the pageant of rank and
+fashion resumed its old course, and went on as merrily as before.
+This picture is typical of all our revolutions. In 1848 the workers of
+Paris placed "three months of starvation" at the service of the
+Republic, and then, having reached the limit of their powers, they made,
+in June, one last desperate effort--an effort which was drowned in
+blood. In 1871 the Commune perished for lack of combatants. It had taken
+measures for the separation of Church and State, but it neglected, alas,
+until too late, to take measures for providing the people with bread.
+And so it came to pass in Paris that élégantes and fine gentlemen
+could spurn the confederates, and bid them go sell their lives for a
+miserable pittance, and leave their "betters" to feast at their ease in
+At last the Commune saw its mistake, and opened communal kitchens. But
+it was too late. Its days were already numbered, and the troops of
+Versailles were on the ramparts.
+"Bread, it is bread that the Revolution needs!"
+Let others spend their time in issuing pompous proclamations, in
+decorating themselves lavishly with official gold lace, and in talking
+about political liberty!...
+Be it ours to see, from the first day of the Revolution to the last, in
+all the provinces fighting for freedom, that there is not a single man
+who lacks bread, not a single woman compelled to stand with the wearied
+crowd outside the bakehouse-door, that haply a coarse loaf may be
+thrown to her in charity, not a single child pining for want of food.
+It has always been the middle-class idea to harangue about "great
+principles"--great lies rather!
+The idea of the people will be to provide bread for all. And while
+middle-class citizens, and workmen infested with middle-class ideas
+admire their own rhetoric in the "Talking Shops," and "practical people"
+are engaged in endless discussions on forms of government, we, the
+"Utopian dreamers"--we shall have to consider the question of daily
+We have the temerity to declare that all have a right to bread, that
+there is bread enough for all, and that with this watchword of _Bread
+for All_ the Revolution will triumph.
+That we are Utopians is well known. So Utopian are we that we go the
+length of believing that the Revolution can and ought to assure shelter,
+food, and clothes to all--an idea extremely displeasing to middle-class
+citizens, whatever their party colour, for they are quite alive to the
+fact that it is not easy to keep the upper hand of a people whose hunger
+All the same, we maintain our contention: bread must be found for the
+people of the Revolution, and the question of bread must take precedence
+of all other questions. If it is settled in the interests of the people,
+the Revolution will be on the right road; for in solving the question of
+Bread we must accept the principle of equality, which will force itself
+upon us to the exclusion of every other solution.
+It is certain that the coming Revolution--like in that respect to the
+Revolution of 1848--will burst upon us in the middle of a great
+industrial crisis. Things have been seething for half a century now, and
+can only go from bad to worse. Everything tends that way--new nations
+entering the lists of international trade and fighting for possession
+of the world's markets, wars, taxes ever increasing. National debts,
+the insecurity of the morrow, and huge colonial undertakings in every
+corner of the globe.
+There are millions of unemployed workers in Europe at this moment. It
+will be still worse when Revolution has burst upon us and spread like
+fire laid to a train of gunpowder. The number of the out-of-works will
+be doubled as soon as the barricades are erected in Europe and the
+United States. What is to be done to provide these multitudes with
+We do not know whether the folk who call themselves "practical people"
+have ever asked themselves this question in all its nakedness. But we do
+know that they wish to maintain the wage system, and we must therefore
+expect to have "national workshops" and "public works" vaunted as a
+means of giving food to the unemployed.
+Because national workshops were opened in 1789 and 1793; because the
+same means were resorted to in 1848; because Napoleon III. succeeded in
+contenting the Parisian proletariat for eighteen years by giving them
+public works--which cost Paris to-day its debt of £80,000,000 and its
+municipal tax of three or four pounds a-head; because this excellent
+method of "taming the beast" was customary in Rome, and even in Egypt
+four thousand years ago; and lastly, because despots, kings, and
+emperors have always employed the ruse of throwing a scrap of food to
+the people to gain time to snatch up the whip--it is natural that
+"practical" men should extol this method of perpetuating the wage
+system. What need to rack our brains when we have the time-honoured
+method of the Pharaohs at our disposal?
+Yet should the Revolution be so misguided as to start on this path, it
+would be lost.
+In 1848, when the national workshops were opened on February 27, the
+unemployed of Paris numbered only 8,000; a fortnight later they had
+already increased to 49,000. They would soon have been 100,000, without
+counting those who crowded in from the provinces.
+Yet at that time trade and manufacturers in France employed half as many
+hands as to-day. And we know that in time of Revolution exchange and
+industry suffer most from the general upheaval. We have only to think,
+indeed, of the number of workmen whose labour depends directly or
+indirectly upon export trade, or of the number of hands employed in
+producing luxuries, whose consumers are the middle-class minority.
+A revolution in Europe means, then, the unavoidable stoppage of at least
+half the factories and workshops. It means millions of workers and their
+families thrown on the streets. And our "practical men" would seek to
+avert this truly terrible situation by means of national relief works;
+that is to say, by means of new industries created on the spot to give
+work to the unemployed!
+It is evident, as Proudhon had already pointed out more than fifty years
+ago, that the smallest attack upon property will bring in its train the
+complete disorganization of the system based upon private enterprise and
+wage labour. Society itself will be forced to take production in hand,
+in its entirety, and to reorganize it to meet the needs of the whole
+people. But this cannot be accomplished in a day, or even in a month; it
+must take a certain time to reorganize the system of production, and
+during this time millions of men will be deprived of the means of
+subsistence. What then is to be done?
+There is only one really _practical_ solution of the problem--boldly to
+face the great task which awaits us, and instead of trying to patch up a
+situation which we ourselves have made untenable, to proceed to
+reorganize production on a new basis.
+Thus the really practical course of action, in our view, would be that
+the people should take immediate possession of all the food of the
+insurgent communes, keeping strict account of it all, that none might be
+wasted, and that by the aid of these accumulated resources every one
+might be able to tide over the crisis. During that time an agreement
+would have to be made with the factory workers, the necessary raw
+material given them, and the means of subsistence assured to them, while
+they worked to supply the needs of the agricultural population. For we
+must not forget that while France weaves silks and satins to deck the
+wives of German financiers, the Empress of Russia, and the Queen of the
+Sandwich Islands, and while Paris fashions wonderful trinkets and
+playthings for rich folk all the world over, two-thirds of the French
+peasantry have not proper lamps to give them light, or the implements
+necessary for modern agriculture. Lastly, unproductive land, of which
+there is plenty, would have to be turned to the best advantage, poor
+soils enriched, and rich soils, which yet, under the present system, do
+not yield a quarter, no, nor a tenth of what they might produce, would
+be submitted to intensive culture, and tilled with as much care as a
+market garden or a flower pot. It is impossible to imagine any other
+practical solution of the problem; and, whether we like it or not, sheer
+force of circumstances will bring it to pass.
+The most prominent characteristic of our present capitalism is _the wage
+system_, which in brief amounts to this:--
+A man, or a group of men, possessing the necessary capital, starts some
+industrial enterprise; he undertakes to supply the factory or workshops
+with raw material, to organize production, to pay the employes a fixed
+wage, and lastly, to pocket the surplus value or profits, under pretext
+of recouping himself for managing the concern, for running the risks it
+may involve, and for the fluctuations of price in the market value of
+To preserve this system, those who now monopolize capital would be ready
+to make certain concessions; to share, for example, a part of the
+profits with the workers, or rather to establish a "sliding scale,"
+which would oblige them to raise wages when prices were high; in brief
+they would consent to certain sacrifices on condition that they were
+still allowed to direct industry and to take its first fruits.
+Collectivism, as we know, does not abolish the wage system, though it
+introduces considerable modifications into the existing order of things.
+It only substitutes the State, that is to say, some form of
+Representative Government, national or local, for the individual
+employer of labour. Under Collectivism it is the representatives of the
+nation, or of the Commune, and their deputies and officials who are to
+have the control of industry. It is they who reserve to themselves the
+right of employing the surplus of production--in the interests of all.
+Moreover, Collectivism draws a very subtle but very far-reaching
+distinction between the work of the labourer and of the man who has
+learned a craft. Unskilled labour in the eyes of the collectivist is
+_simple_ labour, while the work of the craftsman, the mechanic, the
+engineer, the man of science, etc., is what Marx calls _complex_ labour,
+and is entitled to a higher wage. But labourers and craftsmen, weavers
+and men of science, are all wage-servants of the State--"all officials,"
+as was said lately, to gild the pill.
+Well, then, the coming Revolution could render no greater service to
+humanity than by making the wage system, in all its forms, an
+impossibility, and by rendering Communism, which is the negation of
+wage-slavery, the only possible solution.
+For even admitting that the Collectivist modification of the present
+system is possible, if introduced gradually during a period of
+prosperity and peace--though for my part I question its practicability
+even under such conditions--it would become impossible in a period of
+Revolution, when the need of feeding hungry millions would spring up
+with the first call to arms. A political revolution can be accomplished
+without shaking the foundations of industry, but a revolution where the
+people lay hands upon property will inevitably paralyse exchange and
+production. The millions of public money flowing into the Treasury
+would not suffice for paying wages to the millions of out-of-works.
+This point cannot be too much insisted upon; the reorganization of
+industry on a new basis (and we shall presently show how tremendous this
+problem is) cannot be accomplished in a few days; nor, on the other
+hand, will the people submit to be half starved for years in order to
+oblige the theorists who uphold the wage system. To tide over the period
+of stress they will demand what they have always demanded in such
+cases--communization of supplies--the giving of rations.
+It will be in vain to preach patience. The people will be patient no
+longer, and if food is not forthcoming they will plunder the bakeries.
+Then, if the people are not strong enough to carry all before them, they
+will be shot down, to give Collectivism a fair field for experiment. To
+this end "_order_" must be maintained at any price--order, discipline,
+obedience! And as the capitalists will soon realize that when the people
+are shot down by those who call themselves Revolutionists, the
+Revolution itself will become hateful in the eyes of the masses, they
+will certainly lend their support to the champions of _order_--even
+though they are collectivists. In such a line of conduct, the
+capitalists will see a means of hereafter crushing the collectivists in
+their turn. And if "order is established" in this fashion, the
+consequences are easy to foresee. Not content with shooting down the
+"marauders," the faction of "order" will search out the "ringleaders of
+the mob." They will set up again the law courts and reinstate the
+hangman. The most ardent revolutionists will be sent to the scaffold. It
+will be 1793 over again.
+Do not let us forget how reaction triumphed in the last century. First
+the "Hébertists" and "the madmen," were guillotined--those whom Mignet,
+with the memory of the struggle fresh upon him, still called
+"Anarchists." The Dantonists soon followed them; and when the party of
+Robespierre had guillotined these revolutionaries, they in their turn
+had to mount the scaffold; whereupon the people, sick of bloodshed, and
+seeing the revolution lost, threw up the sponge, and let the
+reactionaries do their worst.
+If "order is restored," we say, the social democrats will hang the
+anarchists; the Fabians will hang the social democrats, and will in
+their turn be hanged by the reactionaries; and the Revolution will come
+to an end.
+But everything confirms us in the belief that the energy of the people
+will carry them far enough, and that, when the Revolution takes place,
+the idea of anarchist Communism will have gained ground. It is not an
+artificial idea. The people themselves have breathed it in our ear, and
+the number of communists is ever increasing, as the impossibility of any
+other solution becomes more and more evident.
+And if the impetus of the people is strong enough, affairs will take a
+very different turn. Instead of plundering the bakers' shops one day,
+and starving the next, the people of the insurgent cities will take
+possession of the warehouses, the cattle markets,--in fact of all the
+provision stores and of all the food to be had. The well-intentioned
+citizens, men and women both, will form themselves into bands of
+volunteers and address themselves to the task of making a rough general
+inventory of the contents of each shop and warehouse.
+If such a revolution breaks out in France, namely in Paris, then in
+twenty-four hours the Commune will know what Paris has not found out
+yet, in spite of its statistical committees, and what it never did find
+out during the siege of 1871--the quantity of provisions it contains. In
+forty-eight hours millions of copies will be printed of the tables
+giving a sufficiently exact account of the available food, the places
+where it is stored, and the means of distribution.
+In every block of houses, in every street, in every town ward, groups of
+volunteers will have been organized, and these commissariat volunteers
+will find it easy to work in unison and keep in touch with each other.
+If only the Jacobin bayonets do not get in the way; if only the
+self-styled "scientific" theorists do not thrust themselves in to
+darken counsel! Or rather let them expound their muddle-headed theories
+as much as they like, provided they have no authority, no power! And
+that admirable spirit of organization inherent in the people, above all
+in every social grade of the French nation, but which they have so
+seldom been allowed to exercise, will initiate, even in so huge a city
+as Paris, and in the midst of a Revolution, an immense guild of free
+workers, ready to furnish to each and all the necessary food.
+Give the people a free hand, and in ten days the food service will be
+conducted with admirable regularity. Only those who have never seen the
+people hard at work, only those who have passed their lives buried among
+the documents, can doubt it. Speak of the organizing genius of the
+"Great Misunderstood," the people, to those who have seen it in Paris in
+the days of the barricades, or in London during the great dockers'
+strike, when half a million of starving folk had to be fed, and they
+will tell you how superior it is to the official ineptness of Bumbledom.
+And even supposing we had to endure a certain amount of discomfort and
+confusion for a fortnight or a month, surely that would not matter very
+much. For the mass of the people it would still be an improvement on
+their former condition; and, besides, in times of Revolution one can
+dine contentedly enough on a bit of bread and cheese while eagerly
+In any case, a system which springs up spontaneously, under stress of
+immediate need, will be infinitely preferable to anything invented
+between four walls by hide-bound theorists sitting on any number of
+The people of the great towns will be driven by force of circumstances
+to take possession of all the provisions, beginning with the barest
+necessaries, and gradually extending Communism to other things, in order
+to satisfy the needs of all the citizens. The sooner it is done the
+better; the sooner it is done the less misery there will be and the less
+But upon what basis must society be organized in order that all may have
+their due share of food produce? This is the question that meets us at
+We answer that there are no two ways of it. There is only one way in
+which Communism can be established equitably, only one way which
+satisfies our instincts of justice and is at the same time practical;
+namely, the system already adopted by the agrarian communes of Europe.
+Take for example a peasant commune, no matter where, even in France,
+where the Jacobins have done their best to destroy all communal usage.
+If the commune possesses woods and copses, then, so long as there is
+plenty of wood for all, every one can take as much as he wants, without
+other let or hindrance than the public opinion of his neighbours. As to
+the timber-trees, which are always scarce, they have to be carefully
+The same with the communal pasture land; while there is enough and to
+spare, no limit is put to what the cattle of each homestead may consume,
+nor to the number of beasts grazing upon the pastures. Grazing grounds
+are not divided, nor is fodder doled out, unless there is scarcity. All
+the Swiss communes, and scores of thousands in France and Germany,
+wherever there is communal pasture land, practise this system.
+And in the countries of Eastern Europe, where there are great forests
+and no scarcity of land, you will find the peasants felling the trees as
+they need them, and cultivating as much of the soil as they require,
+without any thought of limiting each man's share of timber or of land.
+But the timber will be allowanced, and the land parcelled out, to each
+household according to its needs, as soon as either becomes scarce, as
+is already the case in Russia.
+In a word, the system is this: no stint or limit to what the community
+possesses in abundance, but equal sharing and dividing of those
+commodities which are scarce or apt to run short. Of the 350 millions
+who inhabit Europe, 200 millions still follow this system of natural
+It is a fact worth remarking that the same system prevails in the great
+towns in the distribution of one commodity at least, which is found in
+abundance, the water supplied to each house.
+As long as there is no fear of the supply running short, no water
+company thinks of checking the consumption of water in each house. Take
+what you please! But during the great droughts, if there is any fear of
+the supply failing, the water companies know that all they have to do is
+to make known the fact, by means of a short advertisement in the papers,
+and the citizens will reduce their consumption of water and not let it
+run to waste.
+But if water were actually scarce, what would be done? Recourse would be
+had to a system of rations. Such a measure is so natural, so inherent in
+common sense, that Paris twice asked to be put on rations during the two
+sieges which it underwent in 1871.
+Is it necessary to go into details, to prepare tables, showing how the
+distribution of rations may work, to prove that it is just and
+equitable, infinitely more just and equitable than the existing state of
+things? All these tables and details will not serve to convince those of
+the middle classes, nor, alas, those of the workers tainted with
+middle-class prejudices, who regard the people as a mob of savages ready
+to fall upon and devour each other, as soon as the Government ceases to
+direct affairs. But those only who have never seen the people resolve
+and act on their own initiative could doubt for a moment that if the
+masses were masters of the situation, they would distribute rations to
+each and all in strictest accordance with justice and equity.
+If you were to give utterance, in any gathering of people, to the
+opinion that delicacies--game and such-like--should be reserved for the
+fastidious palates of aristocratic idlers, and black bread given to the
+sick in the hospitals, you would be hissed. But say at the same
+gathering, preach at the street corners and in the market places, that
+the most tempting delicacies ought to be kept for the sick and
+feeble--especially for the sick. Say that if there are only five brace
+of partridge in the entire city, and only one case of sherry, they
+should go to sick people and convalescents. Say that after the sick come
+the children. For them the milk of the cows and goats should be reserved
+if there is not enough for all. To the children and the aged the last
+piece of meat, and to the strong man dry bread, if the community be
+reduced to that extremity.
+Say, in a word, that if this or that article of consumption runs short,
+and has to be doled out, to those who have most need most should be
+given. Say that and see if you do not meet with universal agreement.
+The man who is full-fed does not understand this, but the people do
+understand, and have always understood it; and even the child of luxury,
+if he is thrown on the street and comes into contact with the masses,
+even he will learn to understand.
+The theorists--for whom the soldier's uniform and the barrack mess table
+are civilization's last word--would like no doubt to start a regime of
+National Kitchens and "Spartan Broth." They would point out the
+advantages thereby gained, the economy in fuel and food, if such huge
+kitchens were established, where every one could come for their rations
+of soup and bread and vegetables.
+We do not question these advantages. We are well aware that important
+economies have already been achieved in this direction--as, for
+instance, when the handmill, or quern, and the baker's oven attached to
+each house were abandoned. We can see perfectly well that it would be
+more economical to cook broth for a hundred families at once, instead of
+lighting a hundred separate fires. We know, besides, that there are a
+thousand ways of preparing potatoes, but that cooked in one huge pot for
+a hundred families they would be just as good.
+We know, in fact, that variety in cooking being a matter of the
+seasoning introduced by each cook or housewife, the cooking together of
+a hundredweight of potatoes would not prevent each cook or housewife
+from dressing and serving them in any way she pleased. And we know that
+stock made from meat can be converted into a hundred different soups to
+suit a hundred different tastes.
+But though we are quite aware of all these facts, we still maintain that
+no one has a right to force a housewife to take her potatoes from the
+communal kitchen ready cooked if she prefers to cook them herself in her
+own pot on her own fire. And, above all, we should wish each one to be
+free to take his meals with his family, or with his friends, or even in
+a restaurant, if it seemed good to him.
+Naturally large public kitchens will spring up to take the place of the
+restaurants, where people are poisoned nowadays. Already the Parisian
+housewife gets the stock for her soup from the butcher, and transforms
+it into whatever soup she likes, and London housekeepers know that they
+can have a joint roasted, or an apple or rhubarb tart baked at the
+baker's for a trifling sum, thus economizing time and fuel. And when the
+communal kitchen--the common bakehouse of the future--is established,
+and people can get their food cooked without the risk of being cheated
+or poisoned, the custom will no doubt become general of going to the
+communal kitchen for the fundamental parts of the meal, leaving the last
+touches to be added as individual taste shall suggest.
+But to make a hard and fast rule of this, to make a duty of taking home
+our food ready cooked, that would be as repugnant to our modern minds as
+the ideas of the convent or the barrack--morbid ideas born in brains
+warped by tyranny or superstition.
+Who will have a right to the food of the commune? will assuredly be the
+first question which we shall have to ask ourselves. Every township will
+answer for itself, and we are convinced that the answers will all be
+dictated by the sentiment of justice. Until labour is reorganized, as
+long as the disturbed period lasts, and while it is impossible to
+distinguish between inveterate idlers and genuine workers thrown out of
+work, the available food ought to be shared by all without exception.
+Those who have been enemies to the new order will hasten of their own
+accord to rid the commune of their presence. But it seems to us that the
+masses of the people, which have always been magnanimous, and have
+nothing of vindictiveness in their disposition, will be ready to share
+their bread with all who remain with them, conquered and conquerers
+alike. It will be no loss to the Revolution to be inspired by such an
+idea, and, when work is set agoing again, the antagonists of yesterday
+will stand side by side in the same workshops. A society where work is
+free will have nothing to fear from idlers.
+"But provisions will run short in a month!" our critics at once exclaim.
+"So much the better," say we. It will prove that for the first time on
+record the people have had enough to eat. As to the question of
+obtaining fresh supplies, we shall discuss the means in our next
+By what means could a city in a state of revolution be supplied with
+food? We shall answer this question, but it is obvious that the means
+resorted to will depend on the character of the Revolution in the
+provinces, and in neighbouring countries. If the entire nation, or,
+better still, if all Europe should accomplish the Social Revolution
+simultaneously, and start with thorough-going Communism, our procedure
+would be simplified; but if only a few communities in Europe make the
+attempt, other means will have to be chosen. The circumstances will
+dictate the measures.
+We are thus led, before we proceed further, to glance at the State of
+Europe, and, without pretending to prophesy, we may try to foresee what
+course the Revolution will take, or at least what will be its essential
+Certainly it would be very desirable that all Europe should rise at
+once, that expropriation should be general, and that communistic
+principles should inspire all and sundry. Such a universal rising would
+do much to simplify the task of our century.
+But all the signs lead us to believe that it will not take place. That
+the Revolution will embrace Europe we do not doubt. If one of the four
+great continental capitals--Paris, Vienna, Brussels, or Berlin--rises in
+revolution and overturns its Government, it is almost certain that the
+three others will follow its example within a few weeks' time. It is,
+moreover, highly probable that the Peninsulas and even London and St.
+Petersburg would not be long in following suit. But whether the
+Revolution would everywhere exhibit the same characteristics is highly
+It is more than probable that expropriation will be everywhere carried
+into effect on a larger scale, and that this policy carried out by any
+one of the great nations of Europe will influence all the rest; yet the
+beginnings of the Revolution will exhibit great local differences, and
+its course will vary in different countries. In 1789-93, the French
+peasantry took four years to finally rid themselves of the redemption of
+feudal rights, and the bourgeois to overthrow royalty. Let us keep that
+in mind, and therefore be prepared to see the Revolution develop itself
+somewhat gradually. Let us not be disheartened if here and there its
+steps should move less rapidly. Whether it would take an avowedly
+socialist character in all European nations, at any rate at the
+beginning, is doubtful. Germany, be it remembered, is still realizing
+its dream of a United Empire. Its advanced parties see visions of a
+Jacobin Republic like that of 1848, and of the organization of labour
+according to Louis Blanc; while the French people, on the other hand,
+want above all things a free Commune, whether it be a communist Commune
+There is every reason to believe that, when the coming Revolution takes
+place, Germany will go further than France went in 1793. The
+eighteenth-century Revolution in France was an advance on the English
+Revolution of the seventeenth, abolishing as it did at one stroke the
+power of the throne and the landed aristocracy, whose influence still
+survives in England. But, if Germany goes further and does greater
+things than France did in 1793, there can be no doubt that the ideas
+which will foster the birth of her Revolution will be those of 1848;
+while the ideas which will inspire the Revolution in Russia will
+probably be a combination of those of 1789 with those of 1848.
+Without, however, attaching to these forecasts a greater importance than
+they merit, we may safely conclude this much: the Revolution will take a
+different character in each of the different European nations; the point
+attained in the socialization of wealth will not be everywhere the same.
+Will it therefore be necessary, as is sometimes suggested, that the
+nations in the vanguard of the movement should adapt their pace to those
+who lag behind? Must we wait till the Communist Revolution is ripe in
+all civilized countries? Clearly not! Even if it were a thing to be
+desired, it is not possible. History does not wait for the laggards.
+Besides, we do not believe that in any one country the Revolution will
+be accomplished at a stroke, in the twinkling of an eye, as some
+socialists dream. It is highly probable that if one of the five or
+six large towns of France--Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Lille,
+Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux--were to proclaim the Commune, the others would
+follow its example, and that many smaller towns would do the same.
+Probably also various mining districts and industrial centres would
+hasten to rid themselves of "owners" and "masters," and form themselves
+into free groups.
+But many country places have not advanced to that point. Side by side
+with the revolutionized communes such places would remain in an
+expectant attitude, and would go on living on the Individualist system.
+Undisturbed by visits of the bailiff or the tax-collector, the peasants
+would not be hostile to the revolutionaries, and thus, while profiting
+by the new state of affairs, they would defer the settlement of accounts
+with the local exploiters. But with that practical enthusiasm which
+always characterizes agrarian uprisings (witness the passionate toil of
+1792) they would throw themselves into the task of cultivating the land,
+which, freed from taxes and mortgages, would become so much dearer to
+As to other countries, revolution would break out everywhere, but
+revolution under divers aspects; in one country State Socialism, in
+another Federation; everywhere more or less Socialism, not conforming to
+any particular rule.
+Let us now return to our city in revolt, and consider how its citizens
+can provide foodstuffs for themselves. How are the necessary provisions
+to be obtained if the nation as a whole has not accepted Communism? This
+is the question to be solved. Take, for example, one of the large French
+towns--take the capital itself, for that matter. Paris consumes every
+year thousands of tons of grain, 400,000 head of oxen, 300,000 calves,
+400,000 swine, and more than two millions of sheep, besides great
+quantities of game. This huge city devours, besides, more than 20
+million pounds of butter, 200 million eggs, and other produce in like
+It imports flour and grain from the United States and from Russia,
+Hungary, Italy, Egypt, and the Indies; live stock from Germany, Italy,
+Spain--even Roumania and Russia; and as for groceries, there is not a
+country in the world that it does not lay under contribution.
+Now, let us see how Paris or any other great town could be revictualled
+by home-grown produce, supplies of which could be readily and willingly
+sent in from the provinces.
+To those who put their trust in "authority" the question will appear
+quite simple. They would begin by establishing a strongly centralized
+Government, furnished with all the machinery of coercion--the police,
+the army, the guillotine. This Government would draw up a statement of
+all the produce contained in France. It would divide the country into
+districts of supply, and then _command_ that a prescribed quantity of
+some particular foodstuff be sent to such a place on such a day, and
+delivered at such a station, to be there received on a given day by a
+specified official and stored in particular warehouses.
+Now, we declare with the fullest conviction, not merely that such a
+solution is undesirable, but that it never could by any possibility be
+put into practice. It is wildly Utopian!
+Pen in hand, one may dream such a dream in the study, but in contact
+with reality it comes to nothing,--this was proved in 1793; for, like
+all such theories, it leaves out of account the spirit of independence
+that is in man. The attempt would lead to a universal uprising, to three
+or four Vendées, to the villages rising against the towns, all the
+country up in arms defying the city for its arrogance in attempting to
+impose such a system upon the country.
+We have already had too much of Jacobin Utopias! Let us see if some
+other form of organization will meet the case.
+During the great French Revolution, the provinces starved the large
+towns, and killed the Revolution. And yet it is a known fact that the
+production of grain in France during 1792-3 had not diminished; indeed,
+the evidence goes to show that it had increased. But after having taken
+possession of the manorial lands, after having reaped a harvest from
+them, the peasants would not part with their grain for paper-money. They
+withheld their produce, waiting for a rise in the price, or the
+introduction of gold. The most rigorous measures of the National
+Convention were without avail, and her executions failed to break up the
+ring, or force the farmers to sell their corn. For it is a matter of
+history that the commissaries of the Convention did not scruple to
+guillotine those who withheld their grain from the market, and
+pitilessly executed those who speculated in foodstuffs. All the same,
+the corn was not forthcoming, and the townsfolk suffered from famine.
+But what was offered to the husbandman in exchange for his hard toil?
+_Assignats_, scraps of paper decreasing in value every day, promises of
+payment, which could not be kept. A forty-pound note would not purchase
+a pair of boots, and the peasant, very naturally, was not anxious to
+barter a year's toil for a piece of paper with which he could not even
+buy a shirt.
+As long as worthless paper-money--whether called assignats or labour
+notes--is offered to the peasant-producer it will always be the same.
+The country will withhold its produce, and the towns will suffer want,
+even if the recalcitrant peasants are guillotined as before.
+We must offer to the peasant in exchange for his toil not worthless
+paper-money, but the manufactured articles of which he stands in
+immediate need. He lacks the proper implements to till the land, clothes
+to protect him from the inclemencies of the weather, lamps and oil to
+replace his miserable rushlight or tallow dip, spades, rakes, ploughs.
+All these things, under present conditions, the peasant is forced to do
+without, not because he does not feel the need of them, but because, in
+his life of struggle and privation, a thousand useful things are beyond
+his reach; because he has not money to buy them.
+Let the town apply itself, without loss of time, to manufacturing all
+that the peasant needs, instead of fashioning geegaws for the wives of
+rich citizens. Let the sewing machines of Paris be set to work on
+clothes for the country folk workaday clothes and clothes for Sunday
+too, instead of costly evening dresses for the English and Russian
+landlords and the African gold-magnates' wives. Let the factories and
+foundries turn out agricultural implements, spades, rakes, and
+such-like, instead of waiting till the English send them to France, in
+exchange for French wines!
+Let the towns send no more inspectors to the villages, wearing red,
+blue, or rainbow-coloured scarves, to convey to the peasant orders to
+take his produce to this place or that, but let them send friendly
+embassies to the countryfolk and bid them in brotherly fashion: "Bring
+us your produce, and take from our stores and shops all the manufactured
+articles you please."--Then provisions would pour in on every side. The
+peasant would only withhold what he needed for his own use, and would
+send the rest into the cities, feeling _for the first time in the course
+of history_ that these toiling townsfolk were his comrades--his
+brethren, and not his exploiters.
+We shall be told, perhaps, that this would necessitate a complete
+transformation of industry. Well, yes, that is true of certain
+departments; but there are other branches which could be rapidly
+modified in such a way as to furnish the peasant with clothes, watches,
+furniture, and the simple implements for which the towns make him pay
+such exorbitant prices at the present time. Weavers, tailors,
+shoemakers, tinsmiths, cabinet-makers, and many other trades and crafts
+could easily direct their energies to the manufacture of useful and
+necessary articles, and abstain from producing mere luxuries. All that
+is needed is that the public mind should be thoroughly convinced of the
+necessity of this transformation, and should come to look upon it as an
+act of justice and of progress, and that it should no longer allow
+itself to be cheated by that dream, so dear to the theorists--the dream
+of a revolution which confines itself to taking possession of the
+profits of industry, and leaves production and commerce just as they are
+This, then, is our view of the whole question. Cheat the peasant no
+longer with scraps of paper--be the sums inscribed upon them ever so
+large; but offer him in exchange for his produce the very _things_ of
+which he, the tiller of the soil, stands in need. Then the fruits of the
+land will be poured into the towns. If this is not done there will be
+famine in our cities, and reaction and despair will follow in its train.
+All the great towns, we have said, buy their grain, their flour, and
+their meat, not only from the provinces, but also from abroad. Foreign
+countries send Paris not only spices, fish, and various dainties, but
+also immense quantities of corn and meat.
+But when the Revolution comes these cities will have to depend on
+foreign countries as little as possible. If Russian wheat, Italian or
+Indian rice, and Spanish or Hungarian wines abound in the markets of
+western Europe, it is not that the countries which export them have a
+superabundance, or that such a produce grows there of itself, like the
+dandelion in the meadows. In Russia for instance, the peasant works
+sixteen hours a day, and half starves from three to six months every
+year, in order to export the grain with which he pays the landlord and
+the State. To-day the police appears in the Russian village as soon as
+the harvest is gathered in, and sells the peasant's last horse and last
+cow for arrears of taxes and rent due to the landlord, unless the victim
+immolates himself of his own accord by selling the grain to the
+exporters. Usually, rather than part with his livestock at a
+disadvantage, he keeps only a nine-months' supply of grain, and sells
+the rest. Then, in order to sustain life until the next harvest, he
+mixes birch-bark and tares with his flour for three months, if it has
+been a good year, and for six months if it has been bad, while in London
+they are eating biscuits made of his wheat.
+But as soon as the Revolution comes, the Russian peasant will keep bread
+enough for himself and his children; the Italian and Hungarian peasants
+will do the same; the Hindoo, let us hope, will profit by these good
+examples; and the farmers of America will hardly be able to cover all
+the deficit in grain which Europe will experience. So it will not do to
+count on their contributions of wheat and maize satisfying all the
+Since all our middle-class civilization is based on the exploitation of
+inferior races and countries with less advanced industrial systems, the
+Revolution will confer a boon at the very outset, by menacing that
+"civilization," and allowing the so-called inferior races to free
+But this great benefit will manifest itself by a steady and marked
+diminution of the food supplies pouring into the great cities of western
+It is difficult to predict the course of affairs in the provinces. On
+the one hand the slave of the soil will take advantage of the Revolution
+to straighten his bowed back. Instead of working fourteen or fifteen
+hours a day, as he does at present, he will be at liberty to work only
+half that time, which of course would have the effect of decreasing the
+production of the principal articles of consumption--grain and meat.
+But, on the other hand, there will be an increase of production as soon
+as the peasant realizes that he is no longer forced to support the idle
+rich by his toil. New tracts of land will be cleared, new and improved
+machines set a-going.
+"Never was the land so energetically cultivated as in 1792, when the
+peasant had taken back from the landlord the soil which he had coveted
+so long," Michelet tells us speaking of the Great Revolution.
+Of course, before long, intensive culture would be within the reach of
+all. Improved machinery, chemical manures, and all such matters would
+soon be supplied by the Commune. But everything tends to indicate that
+at the outset there would be a falling off in agricultural products, in
+France and elsewhere.
+In any case it would be wisest to count upon such a falling off of
+contributions from the provinces as well as from abroad.--How is this
+falling off to be made good?
+Why! by setting to work ourselves! No need to rack our brains for
+far-fetched panaceas when the remedy lies close at hand.
+The large towns, as well as the villages, must undertake to till the
+soil. We must return to what biology calls "the integration of
+functions"--after the division of labour, the taking up of it as a
+whole--this is the course followed throughout Nature.
+Besides, philosophy apart, the force of circumstances would bring about
+this result. Let Paris see that at the end of eight months it will be
+running short of bread, and Paris will set to work to grow wheat.
+Land will not be wanting, for it is round the great towns, and round
+Paris especially, that the parks and pleasure grounds of the landed
+gentry are to be found. These thousands of acres only await the skilled
+labour of the husbandman to surround Paris with fields infinitely more
+fertile and productive than the steppes of southern Russia, where the
+soil is dried up by the sun. Nor will labour be lacking. To what should
+the two million citizens of Paris turn their attention, when they would
+be no longer catering for the luxurious fads and amusements of Russian
+princes, Roumanian grandees, and wives of Berlin financiers?
+With all the mechanical inventions of the century; with all the
+intelligence and technical skill of the worker accustomed to deal with
+complicated machinery; with inventors, chemists, professors of botany,
+practical botanists like the market gardeners of Gennevilliers; with all
+the plant that they could use for multiplying and improving machinery;
+and, finally, with the organizing spirit of the Parisian people, their
+pluck and energy--with all these at its command, the agriculture of the
+anarchist Commune of Paris would be a very different thing from the rude
+husbandry of the Ardennes.
+Steam, electricity, the heat of the sun, and the breath of the wind,
+will ere long be pressed into service. The steam plough and the steam
+harrow will quickly do the rough work of preparation, and the soil, thus
+cleaned and enriched, will only need the intelligent care of man, and of
+woman even more than man, to be clothed with luxuriant vegetation--not
+once but three or four times in the year.
+Thus, learning the art of horticulture from experts, and trying
+experiments in different methods on small patches of soil reserved for
+the purpose, vying with each other to obtain the best returns, finding
+in physical exercise, without exhaustion or overwork, the health and
+strength which so often flags in cities,--men, women and children will
+gladly turn to the labour of the fields, when it is no longer a slavish
+drudgery, but has become a pleasure, a festival, a renewal of health and
+"There are no barren lands; the earth is worth what man is worth"--that
+is the last word of modern agriculture. Ask of the earth, and she will
+give you bread, provided that you ask aright.
+A district, though it were as small as the two departments of the Seine
+and the Seine-et-Oise, and with so great a city as Paris to feed, would
+be practically sufficient to grow upon it all the food supplies, which
+otherwise might fail to reach it.
+The combination of agriculture and industry, the husbandman and the
+mechanic in the same individual--this is what anarchist communism will
+inevitably lead us to, if it starts fair with expropriation.
+Let the Revolution only get so far, and famine is not the enemy it will
+have to fear. No, the danger which will menace it lies in timidity,
+prejudice, and half-measures. The danger is where Danton saw it when he
+cried to France: "De l'audace, de l'audace, et encore de l'audace." The
+bold thought first, and the bold deed will not fail to follow.
+ The municipal debt of Paris amounted in 1904 to 2,266,579,100
+francs, and the charges for it were 121,000,000 francs.
+ No fallacy more harmful has ever been spread than the fallacy of a
+"One-day Revolution," which is propagated in superficial Socialist
+pamphlets speaking of the Revolution of the 18th of March at Berlin,
+supposed (which is absolutely wrong) to have given Prussia its
+representative Government. We saw well the harm made by such fallacies
+in Russia in 1905-1907. The truth is that up to 1871 Prussia, like
+Russia of the present day, had a scrap of paper which could be described
+as a "Constitution," but it had no representative Government. The
+Ministry imposed upon the nation, up till 1870, the budget it chose to
+## CHAPTER VI - DWELLINGS
+Those who have closely watched the growth of Socialist ideas among the
+workers must have noticed that on one momentous question--the housing of
+the people--a definite conclusion is being imperceptibly arrived at. It
+is a fact that in the large towns of France, and in many of the smaller
+ones, the workers are coming gradually to the conclusion that
+dwelling-houses are in no sense the property of those whom the State
+recognizes as their owners.
+This idea has evolved naturally in the minds of the people, and nothing
+will ever convince them again that the "rights of property" ought to
+extend to houses.
+The house was not built by its owner. It was erected, decorated and
+furnished by innumerable workers in the timber yard, the brick field,
+and the workshop, toiling for dear life at a minimum wage.
+The money spent by the owner was not the product of his own toil. It was
+amassed, like all other riches, by paying the workers two-thirds or only
+a half of what was their due.
+Moreover--and it is here that the enormity of the whole proceeding
+becomes most glaring--the house owes its actual value to the profit
+which the owner can make out of it. Now, this profit results from the
+fact that his house is built in a town--that is, in an agglomeration of
+thousands of other houses, possessing paved streets, bridges, quays, and
+fine public buildings, well lighted, and affording to its inhabitants a
+thousand comforts and conveniences unknown in villages; a town in
+regular communication with other towns, and itself a centre of
+industry, commerce, science, and art; a town which the work of twenty or
+thirty generations has made habitable, healthy, and beautiful.
+A house in certain parts of Paris is valued at many thousands of pounds
+sterling, not because thousands of pounds' worth of labour have been
+expended on that particular house, but because it is in Paris; because
+for centuries workmen, artists, thinkers, and men of learning and
+letters have contributed to make Paris what it is to-day--a centre of
+industry, commerce, politics, art, and science; because Paris has a
+past; because, thanks to literature, the names of its streets are
+household words in foreign countries as well as at home; because it is
+the fruit of eighteen centuries of toil, the work of fifty generations
+of the whole French nation.
+Who, then, can appropriate to himself the tiniest plot of ground, or the
+meanest building in such a city, without committing a flagrant
+injustice? Who, then, has the right to sell to any bidder the smallest
+portion of the common heritage?
+On that point, as we have said, the workers begin to be agreed. The idea
+of free dwellings showed its existence very plainly during the siege of
+Paris, when the cry was for an abatement pure and simple of the terms
+demanded by the landlords. It appeared again during the Commune of 1871,
+when the Paris workmen expected the Council of the Commune to decide
+boldly on the abolition of rent. And when the New Revolution comes, it
+will be the first question with which the poor will concern themselves.
+Whether in time of revolution or in time of peace, the worker must be
+housed somehow or other; he must have some sort of roof over his head.
+But, however tumble-down and squalid his dwelling may be, there is
+always a landlord who can evict him. True, during the Revolution the
+landlord cannot find bailiffs and police-sergeants to throw the
+workman's rags and chattels into the street, but who knows what the new
+Government will do to-morrow? Who can say that it will not call coercion
+to its aid again, and set the police pack upon the tenant to hound him
+out of his hovels? Have we not seen the commune of Paris proclaim the
+remission of rents due up to the first of April only! After that,
+rent had to be paid, though Paris was in a state of chaos, and industry
+at a standstill; so that the "federate" who had taken arms to defend the
+independence of Paris had absolutely nothing to depend upon--he and his
+family--but an allowance of fifteen pence a day!
+Now the worker must be made to see clearly that in refusing to pay rent
+to a landlord or owner he is not simply profiting by the disorganization
+of authority. He must understand that the abolition of rent is a
+recognized principle, sanctioned, so to speak, by popular assent; that
+to be housed rent-free is a right proclaimed aloud by the people.
+Are we going to wait till this measure, which is in harmony with every
+honest man's sense of justice, is taken up by the few socialists
+scattered among the middle class elements, of which the Provisionary
+Government will be composed? If it were so, the people should have to
+wait long--till the return of reaction, in fact!
+This is why, refusing uniforms and badges--those outward signs of
+authority and servitude--and remaining people among the people, the
+earnest revolutionists will work side by side with the masses, that the
+abolition of rent, the expropriation of houses, may become an
+accomplished fact. They will prepare the ground and encourage ideas to
+grow in this direction; and when the fruit of their labours is ripe, the
+people will proceed to expropriate the houses without giving heed to the
+theories which will certainly be thrust in their way--theories about
+paying compensation to landlords, and finding first the necessary funds.
+On the day that the expropriation of houses takes place, on that day,
+the exploited workers will have realized that new times have come, that
+Labour will no longer have to bear the yoke of the rich and powerful,
+that Equality has been openly proclaimed, that this Revolution is a
+real fact, and not a theatrical make-believe, like so many others
+If the idea of expropriation be adopted by the people it will be carried
+into effect in spite of all the "insurmountable" obstacles with which we
+Of course, the good folk in new uniforms, seated in the official
+arm-chairs of the Hôtel de Ville, will be sure to busy themselves in
+heaping up obstacles. They will talk of giving compensation to the
+landlords, of preparing statistics, and drawing up long reports. Yes,
+they would be capable of drawing up reports long enough to outlast the
+hopes of the people, who, after waiting and starving in enforced
+idleness, and seeing nothing come of all these official researches,
+would lose heart and faith in the Revolution and abandon the field to
+the reactionaries. The new bureaucracy would end by making expropriation
+hateful in the eyes of all.
+Here, indeed, is a rock which might shipwreck our hopes. But if the
+people turn a deaf ear to the specious arguments used to dazzle them,
+and realize that new life needs new conditions, and if they undertake
+the task themselves, then expropriation can be effected without any
+"But how? How can it be done?" you ask us. We shall try to reply to this
+question, but with a reservation. We have no intention of tracing out
+the plans of expropriation in their smallest details. We know beforehand
+that all that any man, or group of men, could suggest to-day would be
+far surpassed by the reality when it comes. Man will accomplish greater
+things, and accomplish them better and by simpler methods than those
+dictated to him beforehand. Thus we shall merely indicate the manner by
+which expropriation _might_ be accomplished without the intervention of
+Government. We do not propose to go out of our way to answer those who
+declare that the thing is impossible. We confine ourselves to replying
+that we are not the upholders of any particular method of organization.
+We are only concerned to demonstrate that expropriation _could_ be
+effected by popular initiative, and _could not_ be effected by any other
+It seems very likely that, as soon as expropriation is fairly started,
+groups of volunteers will spring up in every district, street, and block
+of houses, and undertake to inquire into the number of flats and houses
+which are empty and of those which are overcrowded, the unwholesome
+slums, and the houses which are too spacious for their occupants and
+might well be used to house those who are stifled in swarming tenements.
+In a few days these volunteers would have drawn up complete lists for
+the street and the district of all the flats, tenements, family mansions
+and villa residences, all the rooms and suites of rooms, healthy and
+unhealthy, small and large, foetid dens and homes of luxury.
+Freely communicating with each other, these volunteers would soon have
+their statistics complete. False statistics can be manufactured in board
+rooms and offices, but true and exact statistics must begin with the
+individual and mount up from the simple to the complex.
+Then, without waiting for anyone's leave, those citizens will probably
+go and find their comrades who were living in miserable garrets and
+hovels and will say to them simply: "It is a real Revolution this time,
+comrades, and no mistake about it. Come to such a place this evening;
+all the neighbourhood will be there; we are going to redistribute the
+dwelling-houses. If you are tired of your slum-garret, come and choose
+one of the flats of five rooms that are to be disposed of, and when you
+have once moved in you shall stay, never fear. The people are up in
+arms, and he who would venture to evict you will have to answer to
+"But every one will want a fine house or a spacious flat!" we are
+told.--No, you are quite mistaken. It is not the people's way to clamour
+for the moon. On the contrary, every time we have seen them set about
+repairing a wrong we have been struck by the good sense and instinct for
+justice which animates the masses. Have we ever known them demand the
+impossible? Have we ever seen the people of Paris fighting among
+themselves while waiting for their rations of bread or firewood during
+the two sieges or during the terrible years of 1792-1794? The patience
+and resignation which prevailed among them in 1871 was constantly
+presented for admiration by the foreign Press correspondents; and yet
+these patient waiters knew full well that the last comers would have to
+pass the day without food or fire.
+We do not deny that there are plenty of egotistic instincts in isolated
+individuals. We are quite aware of it. But we contend that the very way
+to revive and nourish these instincts would be to confine such questions
+as the housing of the people to any board or committee, in fact, to the
+tender mercies of officialism in any shape or form. Then indeed all the
+evil passions spring up, and it becomes a case of who is the most
+influential person on the board. The least inequality causes wranglings
+and recriminations. If the smallest advantage is given to any one, a
+tremendous hue and cry is raised--and not without reason.
+But if the people themselves, organized by streets, districts, and
+parishes, undertake to move the inhabitants of the slums into the
+half-empty dwellings of the middle classes, the trifling inconveniences,
+the little inequalities will be easily tided over. Rarely has appeal
+been made to the good instincts of the masses--only as a last resort, to
+save the sinking ship in times of revolution--but never has such an
+appeal been made in vain; the heroism, the self-devotion of the toiler
+has never failed to respond to it. And thus it will be in the coming
+But, when all is said and done, some inequalities, some inevitable
+injustices, undoubtedly will remain. There are individuals in our
+societies whom no great crisis can lift out of the deep mire of egoism
+in which they are sunk. The question, however, is not whether there will
+be injustices or no, but rather how to limit the number of them.
+Now all history, all the experience of the human race, and all social
+psychology, unite in showing that the best and fairest way is to trust
+the decision to those whom it concerns most nearly. It is they alone who
+can consider and allow for the hundred and one details which must
+necessarily be overlooked in any merely official redistribution.
+Moreover, it is by no means necessary to make straightway an absolutely
+equal redistribution of all the dwellings. There will no doubt be some
+inconveniences at first, but matters will soon be righted in a society
+which has adopted expropriation.
+When the masons, and carpenters, and all who are concerned in house
+building, know that their daily bread is secured to them, they will ask
+nothing better than to work at their old trades a few hours a day. They
+will adapt the fine houses, which absorbed the time of a whole staff of
+servants, for giving shelter to several families, and in a few months
+homes will have sprung up, infinitely healthier and more conveniently
+arranged than those of to-day. And to those who are not yet comfortably
+housed the anarchist Commune will be able to say: "Patience, comrades!
+Palaces fairer and finer than any the capitalists built for themselves
+will spring from the ground of our enfranchised city. They will belong
+to those who have most need of them. The anarchist Commune does not
+build with an eye to revenues. These monuments erected to its citizens,
+products of the collective spirit, will serve as models to all humanity;
+they will be yours."
+If the people of the Revolution expropriate the houses and proclaim free
+lodgings--the communalizing of houses and the right of each family to a
+decent dwelling--then the Revolution will have assumed a communistic
+character from the first, and started on a course from which it will be
+by no means easy to turn it. It will have struck a fatal blow at
+For the expropriation of dwellings contains in germ the whole social
+revolution. On the manner of its accomplishment depends the character of
+all that follows. Either we shall start on a good road leading straight
+to anarchist communism, or we shall remain sticking in the mud of
+It is easy to see the numerous objections--theoretic on the one hand,
+practical on the other--with which we are sure to be met. As it will be
+a question of maintaining iniquity at any price, our opponents will of
+course protest "in the name of justice." "Is it not a crying shame,"
+they will exclaim, "that the people of Paris should take possession of
+all these fine houses, while the peasants in the country have only
+tumble-down huts to live in?" But do not let us make a mistake. These
+enthusiasts for justice forget, by a lapse of memory to which they are
+subject, the "crying shame" which they themselves are tacitly defending.
+They forget that in this same city the worker, with his wife and
+children, suffocates in a noisome garret, while from his window he sees
+the rich man's palace. They forget that whole generations perish in
+crowded slums, starving for air and sunlight, and that to redress this
+injustice ought to be the first task of the Revolution.
+Do not let these disingenuous protests hold us back. We know that any
+inequality which may exist between town and country in the early days of
+the Revolution will be transitory and of a nature that will right itself
+from day to day; for the village will not fail to improve its dwellings
+as soon as the peasant has ceased to be the beast of burden of the
+farmer, the merchant, the money-lender, and the State. In order to avoid
+an accidental and transitory inequality, shall we stay our hand from
+righting an ancient wrong?
+The so-called practical objections are not very formidable either. We
+are bidden to consider the hard case of some poor fellow who by dint of
+privation has contrived to buy a house just large enough to hold his
+family. And we are going to deprive him of his hard-earned happiness,
+to turn him into the street! Certainly not. If his house is only just
+large enough for his family, by all means let him stay there. Let him
+work in his little garden, too; our "boys" will not hinder him--nay,
+they will lend him a helping hand if need be. But suppose he lets
+lodgings, suppose he has empty rooms in his house; then the people will
+make the lodger understand that he need not pay his former landlord any
+more rent. Stay where you are, but rent free. No more duns and
+collectors; Socialism has abolished all that!
+Or again, suppose that the landlord has a score of rooms all to himself,
+and some poor woman lives near by with five children in one room. In
+that case the people would see whether, with some alterations, these
+empty rooms could not be converted into a suitable home for the poor
+woman and her five children. Would not that be more just and fair than
+to leave the mother and her five little ones languishing in a garret,
+while Sir Gorgeous Midas sat at his ease in an empty mansion? Besides,
+good Sir Gorgeous would probably hasten to do it of his own accord; his
+wife will be delighted to be freed from half her big, unwieldy house
+when there is no longer a staff of servants to keep it in order.
+"So you are going to turn everything upside down," say the defenders of
+law and order. "There will be no end to the evictions and removals.
+Would it not be better to start fresh by turning everybody out of doors
+and redistributing the houses by lot?" Thus our critics; but we are
+firmly persuaded that if no Government interferes in the matter, if all
+the changes are entrusted to these free groups which have sprung up to
+undertake the work, the evictions and removals will be less numerous
+than those which take place in one year under the present system, owing
+to the rapacity of landlords.
+In the first place, there are in all large towns almost enough empty
+houses and flats to lodge all the inhabitants of the slums. As to the
+palaces and suites of fine apartments, many working people would not
+live in them if they could. One could not "keep up" such houses without
+a large staff of servants. Their occupants would soon find themselves
+forced to seek less luxurious dwellings. The fine ladies would find that
+palaces were not well adapted to self-help in the kitchen. Gradually
+people would shake down. There would be no need to conduct Dives to a
+garret at the bayonet's point, or install Lazarus in Dives's palace by
+the help of an armed escort. People would shake down amicably into the
+available dwellings with the least possible friction and disturbance.
+Have we not the example of the village communes redistributing fields
+and disturbing the owners of the allotments so little that one can only
+praise the intelligence and good sense of the methods they employ? Fewer
+fields change hands under the management of the Russian Commune than
+where personal property holds sway, and is for ever carrying its
+quarrels into courts of law. And are we to believe that the inhabitants
+of a great European city would be less intelligent and less capable of
+organization than Russian or Hindoo peasants?
+Moreover, we must not blink at the fact that every revolution means a
+certain disturbance to everyday life, and those who expect this
+tremendous climb out of the old grooves to be accomplished without so
+much as jarring the dishes on their dinner tables will find themselves
+mistaken. It is true that Governments can change without disturbing
+worthy citizens at dinner, but the crimes of society towards those who
+have nourished and supported it are not to be redressed by any such
+political sleight of parties.
+Undoubtedly there will be a disturbance, but it must not be one of pure
+loss; it must be minimized. And again--it is impossible to lay too much
+stress on this maxim--it will be by addressing ourselves to the
+interested parties, and not to boards and committees, that we shall best
+succeed in reducing the sum of inconveniences for everybody.
+The people commit blunder on blunder when they have to choose by ballot
+some hare-brained candidate who solicits the honour of representing
+them, and takes upon himself to know all, to do all, and to organize
+all. But when they take upon themselves to organize what they know, what
+touches them directly, they do it better than all the "talking-shops"
+put together. Is not the Paris Commune an instance in point? and the
+great dockers' strike? and have we not constant evidence of this fact in
+every village commune?
+ The decree of the 30 March: by this decree rents due up to the terms
+of October, 1870, and January and April, 1871, were annulled.
+## CHAPTER VII - CLOTHING
+When the houses have become the common heritage of the citizens, and
+when each man has his daily supply of food, another forward step will
+have to be taken. The question of clothing will of course demand
+consideration next, and again the only possible solution will be to take
+possession, in the name of the people, of all the shops and warehouses
+where clothing is sold or stored, and to throw open the doors to all, so
+that each can take what he needs. The communalization of clothing--the
+right of each to take what he needs from the communal stores, or to have
+it made for him at the tailors and outfitters--is a necessary corollary
+of the communalization of houses and food.
+Obviously we shall not need for that to despoil all citizens of their
+coats, to put all the garments in a heap and draw lots for them, as our
+critics, with equal wit and ingenuity, suggest. Let him who has a coat
+keep it still--nay, if he have ten coats it is highly improbable that
+any one will want to deprive him of them, for most folk would prefer a
+new coat to one that has already graced the shoulders of some fat
+bourgeois; and there will be enough new garments, and to spare, without
+having recourse to second-hand wardrobes.
+If we were to take an inventory of all the clothes and stuff for
+clothing accumulated in the shops and stores of the large towns, we
+should find probably that in Paris, Lyons, Bordeaux, and Marseilles,
+there was enough to enable the commune to offer garments to all the
+citizens, of both sexes; and if all were not suited at once, the
+communal outfitters would soon make good these shortcomings. We know how
+rapidly our great tailoring and dressmaking establishments work
+nowadays, provided as they are with machinery specially adapted for
+production on a large scale.
+"But every one will want a sable-lined coat or a velvet gown!" exclaim
+Frankly, we do not believe it. Every woman does not dote on velvet nor
+does every man dream of sable linings. Even now, if we were to ask each
+woman to choose her gown, we should find some to prefer a simple,
+practical garment to all the fantastic trimmings the fashionable world
+Tastes change with the times, and the fashion in vogue at the time of
+the Revolution will certainly make for simplicity. Societies, like
+individuals, have their hours of cowardice, but also their heroic
+moments; and though the society of to-day cuts a very poor figure sunk
+in the pursuit of narrow personal interests and second-rate ideas, it
+wears a different air when great crises come. It has its moments of
+greatness and enthusiasm. Men of generous nature will gain the power
+which to-day is in the hand of jobbers. Self-devotion will spring up,
+and noble deeds beget their like; even the egotists will be ashamed of
+hanging back, and will be drawn in spite of themselves to admire, if not
+to imitate, the generous and brave.
+The great Revolution of 1793 abounds in examples of this kind, and it is
+always during such times of spiritual revival--as natural to societies
+as to individuals--that the spring-tide of enthusiasm sweeps humanity
+We do not wish to exaggerate the part played by such noble passions, nor
+is it upon them that we would found our ideal of society. But we are not
+asking too much if we expect their aid in tiding over the first and most
+difficult moments. We cannot hope that our daily life will be
+continuously inspired by such exalted enthusiasms, but we may expect
+their aid at the first, and that is all we need.
+It is just to wash the earth clean, to sweep away the shards and refuse,
+accumulated by centuries of slavery and oppression, that the new
+anarchist society will have need of this wave of brotherly love. Later
+on it can exist without appealing to the spirit of self-sacrifice,
+because it will have eliminated oppression, and thus created a new world
+instinct with all the feelings of solidarity.
+Besides, should the character of the Revolution be such as we have
+sketched here, the free initiative of individuals would find an
+extensive field of action in thwarting the efforts of the egotists.
+Groups would spring up in every street and quarter to undertake the
+charge of the clothing. They would make inventories of all that the city
+possessed, and would find out approximately what were the resources at
+their disposal. It is more than likely that in the matter of clothing
+the citizens would adopt the same principle as in the matter of
+provisions--that is to say, they would offer freely from the common
+store everything which was to be found in abundance, and dole out
+whatever was limited in quantity.
+Not being able to offer to each man a sable-lined coat and to every
+woman a velvet gown, society would probably distinguish between the
+superfluous and the necessary, and, provisionally at least class sable
+and velvet among the superfluities of life, ready to let time prove
+whether what is a luxury to-day may not become common to all to-morrow.
+While the necessary clothing would be guaranteed to each inhabitant of
+the anarchist city, it would be left to private activity to provide for
+the sick and feeble those things, provisionally considered as luxuries,
+and to procure for the less robust such special articles, as would not
+enter into the daily consumption of ordinary citizens.
+"But," it may be urged, "this means grey uniformity and the end of
+everything beautiful in life and art."
+"Certainly not," we reply. And, still basing our reasonings on what
+already exists, we are going to show how an Anarchist society could
+satisfy the most artistic tastes of its citizens without allowing them
+to amass the fortunes of millionaires.
+## CHAPTER VIII - WAYS AND MEANS
+If a society, a city or a territory were to guarantee the necessaries of
+life to its inhabitants (and we shall see how the conception of the
+necessaries of life can be so extended as to include luxuries), it would
+be compelled to take possession of what is absolutely needed for
+production; that is to say--land, machinery, factories, means of
+transport, etc. Capital in the hands of private owners would be
+expropriated, to be returned to the community.
+The great harm done by bourgeois society, as we have already mentioned,
+is not only that capitalists seize a large share of the profits of each
+industrial and commercial enterprise, thus enabling themselves to live
+without working, but that all production has taken a wrong direction, as
+it is not carried on with a view to securing well-being to all. There is
+the reason why it must be condemned.
+It is absolutely impossible that mercantile production should be carried
+on in the interest of all. To desire it would be to expect the
+capitalist to go beyond his province and to fulfil duties that he
+_cannot_ fulfil without ceasing to be what he is--a private manufacturer
+seeking his own enrichment. Capitalist organization, based on the
+personal interest of each individual employer of labour, has given to
+society all that could be expected of it: it has increased the
+productive force of Labour. The capitalist, profiting by the revolution
+effected in industry by steam, by the sudden development of chemistry
+and machinery, and by other inventions of our century, has worked in his
+own interest to increase the yield of human labour, and in a great
+measure he has succeeded so far. But to attribute other duties to him
+would be unreasonable. For example, to expect that he should use this
+superior yield of labour in the interest of society as a whole, would be
+to ask philanthropy and charity of him, and a capitalist enterprise
+cannot be based on charity.
+It now remains for society, first, to extend this greater productivity,
+which is limited to certain industries, and to apply it to the general
+good. But it is evident that to utilize this high productivity of
+labour, so as to guarantee well-being to all, Society must itself take
+possession of all means of production.
+Economists, as is their wont, will not fail to remind us of the
+comparative well-being of a certain category of young robust workmen,
+skilled in certain special branches of industry which has been obtained
+under the present system. It is always this minority that is pointed out
+to us with pride. But even this well-being, which is the exclusive right
+of a few, is it secure? To-morrow, maybe, negligence, improvidence, or
+the greed of their employers, will deprive these privileged men of their
+work, and they will pay for the period of comfort they have enjoyed with
+months and years of poverty or destitution. How many important
+industries--the textiles, iron, sugar, etc.--without mentioning all
+sorts of short-lived trades, have we not seen decline or come to a
+standstill on account of speculations, or in consequence of natural
+displacement of work, or from the effects of competition amongst the
+capitalists themselves! If the chief textile and mechanical industries
+had to pass through such a crisis as they have passed through in 1886,
+we hardly need mention the small trades, all of which have their periods
+What, too, shall we say to the price which is paid for the relative
+well-being of certain categories of workmen? Unfortunately, it is paid
+for by the ruin of agriculture, the shameless exploitation of the
+peasants, the misery of the masses. In comparison with the feeble
+minority of workers who enjoy a certain comfort, how many millions of
+human beings live from hand to mouth, without a secure wage, ready to
+go wherever they are wanted; how many peasants work fourteen hours a day
+for a poor pittance! Capital depopulates the country, exploits the
+colonies and the countries where industries are but little developed,
+dooms the immense majority of workmen to remain without technical
+education, to remain mediocre even in their own trade.
+This is not merely accidental, it is a _necessity_ of the capitalist
+system. In order well to remunerate certain classes of workmen, peasants
+_must_ become the beasts of burden of society; the country _must_ be
+deserted for the town; small trades must agglomerate in the foul suburbs
+of large cities, and manufacture a thousand little things for next to
+nothing, so as to bring the goods of the greater industries within reach
+of buyers with small salaries. That bad cloth may be sold to ill-paid
+workers, garments are made by tailors who are satisfied with a
+starvation wage! Eastern lands in a backward state are exploited by the
+West, in order that, under the capitalist system, workers in a few
+privileged industries may obtain certain limited comforts of life.
+The evil of the present system is therefore not that the "surplus-value"
+of production goes to the capitalist, as Rodbertus and Marx said, thus
+narrowing the Socialist conception and the general view of the
+capitalist system; the surplus-value itself is but a consequence of
+deeper causes. The evil lies _in the possibility of a surplus-value
+existing_, instead of a simple surplus not consumed by each generation;
+for, that a surplus-value should exist, means that men, women and
+children are compelled by hunger to sell their labour for a small part
+of what this labour produces, and still more so, of what their labour is
+capable of producing: But this evil will last as long as the instruments
+of production belong to the few. As long as men are compelled to pay a
+heavy tribute to property holders for the right of cultivating land or
+putting machinery into action, and the owners of the land and the
+machine are free to produce what bids fair to bring them in the largest
+profits--rather than the greatest amount of useful
+commodities--well-being can only be temporarily guaranteed to a very
+few; it is only to be bought by the poverty of a large section of
+society. It is not sufficient to distribute the profits realized by a
+trade in equal parts, if at the same time thousands of other workers are
+exploited. It is a case of PRODUCING THE GREATEST AMOUNT OF GOODS
+NECESSARY TO THE WELL-BEING OF ALL, WITH THE LEAST POSSIBLE WASTE OF
+This generalized aim cannot be the aim of a private owner; and this is
+why society as a whole, if it takes this view of production as its
+ideal, will be compelled to expropriate all that enhances well-being
+while producing wealth. It will have to take possession of land,
+factories, mines, means of communication, etc., and besides, it will
+have to study what products will promote general well-being, as well as
+the ways and means of an adequate production.
+How many hours a day will man have to work to produce nourishing food, a
+comfortable home, and necessary clothing for his family? This question
+has often preoccupied Socialists, and they generally came to the
+conclusion that four or five hours a day would suffice, on condition, be
+it well understood, that all men work. At the end of last century,
+Benjamin Franklin fixed the limit at five hours; and if the need of
+comfort is greater now, the power of production has augmented too, and
+far more rapidly.
+In speaking of agriculture further on, we shall see what the earth can
+be made to yield to man when he cultivates it in a reasonable way,
+instead of throwing seed haphazard in a badly ploughed soil as he mostly
+does to-day. In the great farms of Western America, some of which cover
+30 square miles, but have a poorer soil than the manured soil of
+civilized countries, only 10 to 15 English bushels per English acre are
+obtained; that is to say, half the yield of European farms or of
+American farms in the Eastern States. And nevertheless, thanks to
+machines which enable 2 men to plough 4 English acres a day, 100 men can
+produce in a year all that is necessary to deliver the bread of 10,000
+people at their homes during a whole year.
+Thus it would suffice for a man to work under the same conditions for
+_30 hours, say 6 half-days of five hours each, to have bread for a whole
+year_; and to work 30 half-days to guarantee the same to a family of 5
+We shall also prove by results obtained nowadays, that if we took
+recourse to intensive agriculture, less than 6 half-days' work could
+procure bread, meat, vegetables, and even luxurious fruit for a whole
+Again, if we study the cost of workmen's dwellings, built in large towns
+to-day, we can ascertain that to obtain, in a large English city, a
+semi-detached little house, as they are built for workmen for £250, from
+1400 to 1800 half-days' work of 5 hours would be sufficient. And as a
+house of that kind lasts 50 years at least, it follows that 28 to 36
+half-days' work a year would provide well-furnished, healthy quarters,
+with all necessary comfort for a family. Whereas when hiring the same
+apartment from an employer, a workman pays from 75 to 100 days' work per
+Mark that these figures represent the maximum of what a house costs in
+England to-day, being given the defective organization of our societies.
+In Belgium, workmen's houses in the cités ouvrières have been built at
+a much smaller cost. So that, taking everything into consideration, we
+are justified in affirming that in a well-organized society 30 or 40
+half-days' work a year will suffice to guarantee a perfectly comfortable
+There now remains clothing, the exact value of which is almost
+impossible to fix, because the profits realized by a swarm of middlemen
+cannot be estimated. Let us take cloth, for example, and add up all the
+tribute levied on every yard of it by the landowners, the sheep owners,
+the wool merchants, and all their intermediate agents, then by the
+railway companies, mill-owners, weavers, dealers in ready-made clothes,
+sellers and commission agents, and we shall get then an idea of what we
+pay to a whole swarm of capitalists for each article of clothing. That
+is why it is perfectly impossible to say how many days' work an overcoat
+that you pay £3 or £4 for in a large London shop represents.
+What is certain is that with present machinery it is possible to
+manufacture an incredible amount of goods both cheaply and quickly.
+A few examples will suffice. Thus in the United States, in 751 cotton
+mills (for spinning and weaving), 175,000 men and women produce
+2,033,000,000 yards of cotton goods, besides a great quantity of thread.
+On the average, more than 12,000 yards of cotton goods alone are
+obtained by a 300 days' work of nine and one-half hours each, say 40
+yards of cotton in 10 hours. Admitting that a family needs 200 yards a
+year at most, this would be equivalent to 50 hours' work, say _10
+half-days of 5 hours each_. And we should have thread besides; that is
+to say, cotton to sew with, and thread to weave cloth with, so as to
+manufacture woolen stuffs mixed with cotton.
+As to the results obtained by weaving alone, the official statistics of
+the United States teach us that in 1870, if workmen worked 13 or 14
+hours a day, they made 10,000 yards of white cotton goods in a year;
+sixteen years later (1886) they wove 30,000 yards by working only 55
+hours a week.
+Even in printed cotton goods they obtained, weaving and printing
+included, 32,000 yards in 2670 hours of work a year--say about 12 yards
+an hour. Thus to have your 200 yards of white and printed cotton goods
+_17 hours' work a year_ would suffice. It is necessary to remark that
+raw material reaches these factories in about the same state as it comes
+from the fields, and that the transformations gone through by the piece
+before it is converted into goods are completed in the course of these
+17 hours. But to _buy_ these 200 yards from the tradesman, a well-paid
+workman must give _at the very least_ 10 to 15 days' work of 10 hours
+each, say 100 to 150 hours. And as to the English peasant, he would
+have to toil for a month, or a little more, to obtain this luxury.
+By this example we already see that by working _50 half-days per year_
+in a well-organized society we could dress better than the lower middle
+classes do to-day.
+But with all this we have only required 60 half-days' work of 5 hours
+each to obtain the fruits of the earth, 40 for housing, and 50 for
+clothing, which only makes half a year's work, as the year consists of
+300 working-days if we deduct holidays.
+There remain still 150 half-days' work which could be made use of for
+other necessaries of life--wine, sugar, coffee, tea, furniture,
+transport, etc., etc.
+It is evident that these calculations are only approximative, but they
+can also be proved in another way. When we take into account how many,
+in the so-called civilized nations, produce nothing, how many work at
+harmful trades, doomed to disappear, and lastly, how many are only
+useless middlemen, we see that in each nation the number of real
+producers could be doubled. And if, instead of every 10 men, 20 were
+occupied in producing useful commodities, and if society took the
+trouble to economize human energy, those 20 people would only have to
+work 5 hours a day without production decreasing. And it would suffice
+to reduce the waste of human energy which is going on in the rich
+families with the scores of useless servants, or in the administrations
+which occupy one official to every ten or even six inhabitants, and to
+utilize those forces, to augment immensely the productivity of a nation.
+In fact, work could be reduced to four or even three hours a day, to
+produce all the goods that are produced now.
+After studying all these facts together, we may arrive, then, at the
+following conclusion: Imagine a society, comprising a few million
+inhabitants, engaged in agriculture and a great variety of
+industries--Paris, for example, with the Department of Seine-et-Oise.
+Suppose that in this society all children learn to work with their hands
+as well as with their brains. Admit that all adults, save women, engaged
+in the education of their children, bind themselves to work _5 hours a
+day_ from the age of twenty or twenty-two to forty-five or fifty, and
+that they follow occupations they have chosen themselves in any one of
+those branches of human work which in this city are considered
+_necessary_. Such a society could in return guarantee well-being to all
+its members, a well-being more substantial than that enjoyed to-day by
+the middle classes. And, moreover, each worker belonging to this society
+would have at his disposal at least 5 hours a day which he could devote
+to science, art, and individual needs which do not come under the
+category of _necessities_, but will probably do so later on, when man's
+productivity will have augmented, and those objects will no longer
+appear luxurious or inaccessible.
+## CHAPTER IX - THE NEED FOR LUXURY
+Man is not a being whose exclusive purpose in life is eating, drinking,
+and providing a shelter for himself. As soon as his material wants are
+satisfied, other needs, which, generally speaking, may be described as
+of an artistic character, will thrust themselves forward. These needs
+are of the greatest variety; they vary with each and every individual;
+and the more society is civilized, the more will individuality be
+developed, and the more will desires be varied.
+Even to-day we see men and women denying themselves necessaries to
+acquire mere trifles, to obtain some particular gratification, or some
+intellectual or material enjoyment. A Christian or an ascetic may
+disapprove of these desires for luxury; but it is precisely these
+trifles that break the monotony of existence and make it agreeable.
+Would life, with all its inevitable drudge and sorrows, be worth living,
+if, besides daily work, man could never obtain a single pleasure
+according to his individual tastes?
+If we wish for a Social Revolution, it is no doubt, first of all, to
+give bread to everyone; to transform this execrable society, in which we
+can every day see capable workmen dangling their arms for want of an
+employer who will exploit them; women and children wandering shelterless
+at night; whole families reduced to dry bread; men, women, and children
+dying for want of care and even for want of food. It is to put an end to
+these iniquities that we rebel.
+But we expect more from the Revolution. We see that the worker,
+compelled to struggle painfully for bare existence, is reduced to
+ignore the higher delights, the highest within man's reach, of science,
+and especially of scientific discovery; of art, and especially of
+artistic creation. It is in order to obtain for all of us joys that are
+now reserved to a few; in order to give leisure and the possibility of
+developing everyone's intellectual capacities, that the social
+revolution must guarantee daily bread to all. After bread has been
+secured, leisure is the supreme aim.
+No doubt, nowadays, when hundreds and thousands of human beings are in
+need of bread, coal, clothing, and shelter, luxury is a crime; to
+satisfy it, the worker's child must go without bread! But in a society
+in which all have the necessary food and shelter, the needs which we
+consider luxuries to-day will be the more keenly felt. And as all men do
+not and cannot resemble one another (the variety of tastes and needs is
+the chief guarantee of human progress) there will always be, and it is
+desirable that there should always be, men and women whose desire will
+go beyond those of ordinary individuals in some particular direction.
+Everybody does not need a telescope, because, even if learning were
+general, there are people who prefer to examine things through a
+microscope to studying the starry heavens. Some like statues, some like
+pictures. A particular individual has no other ambition than to possess
+a good piano, while another is pleased with an accordion. The tastes
+vary, but the artistic needs exist in all. In our present, poor
+capitalistic society, the man who has artistic needs cannot satisfy them
+unless he is heir to a large fortune, or by dint of hard work
+appropriates to himself an intellectual capital which will enable him to
+take up a liberal profession. Still he cherishes the _hope_ of some day
+satisfying his tastes more or less, and for this reason he reproaches
+the idealist Communist societies with having the material life of each
+individual as their sole aim. "In your communal stores you may perhaps
+have bread for all," he says to us, "but you will not have beautiful
+pictures, optical instruments, luxurious furniture, artistic jewelry--in
+short, the many things that minister to the infinite variety of human
+tastes. And you suppress the possibility of obtaining anything besides
+the bread and meat which the commune can offer to all, and the drab
+linen in which all your lady citizens will be dressed."
+These are the objections which all communist systems have to consider,
+and which the founders of new societies, established in American
+deserts, never understood. They believed that if the community could
+procure sufficient cloth to dress all its members, a music-room in which
+the "brothers" could strum a piece of music, or act a play from time to
+time, it was enough. They forgot that the feeling for art existed in the
+agriculturist as well as in the burgher, and, notwithstanding that the
+expression of artistic feeling varies according to the difference in
+culture, in the main it remains the same. In vain did the community
+guarantee the common necessaries of life, in vain did it suppress all
+education that would tend to develop individuality, in vain did it
+eliminate all reading save the Bible. Individual tastes broke forth, and
+caused general discontent; quarrels arose when somebody proposed to buy
+a piano or scientific instruments; and the elements of progress flagged.
+The society could only exist on condition that it crushed all individual
+feeling, all artistic tendency, and all development.
+Will the anarchist Commune be impelled by the same direction?--Evidently
+not, if it understands that while it produces all that is necessary to
+material life, it must also strive to satisfy all manifestations of the
+We frankly confess that when we think of the abyss of poverty and
+suffering that surrounds us, when we hear the heartrending cry of the
+worker walking the streets begging for work, we are loth to discuss the
+question: How will men act in a society, whose members are properly fed,
+to satisfy certain individuals desirous of possessing a piece of Sèvres
+china or a velvet dress?
+We are tempted to answer: Let us make sure of bread to begin with, we
+shall see to china and velvet later on.
+But as we must recognize that man has other needs besides food, and as
+the strength of Anarchy lies precisely in that that it understands _all_
+human faculties and _all_ passions, and ignores none, we shall, in a few
+words, explain how man can contrive to satisfy all his intellectual and
+We have already mentioned that by working 4 or 5 hours a day till the
+age of forty-five or fifty, man could easily produce _all_ that is
+necessary to guarantee comfort to society.
+But the day's work of a man accustomed to toil does not consist of 5
+hours; it is a 10 hours' day for 300 days a year, and lasts all his
+life. Of course, when a man is harnessed to a machine, his health is
+soon undermined and his intelligence is blunted; but when man has the
+possibility of varying occupations, and especially of alternating manual
+with intellectual work, he can remain occupied without fatigue, and even
+with pleasure, for 10 or 12 hours a day. Consequently, the man who will
+have done the 4 or 5 hours of manual work that are necessary for his
+existence, will have before him 5 or 6 hours which he will seek to
+employ according to his tastes. And these 5 or 6 hours a day will fully
+enable him to procure for himself, if he associates with others, all he
+wishes for, in addition to the necessaries guaranteed to all.
+He will discharge first his task in the field, the factory, and so on,
+which he owes to society as his contribution to the general production.
+And he will employ the second half of his day, his week, or his year, to
+satisfy his artistic or scientific needs, or his hobbies.
+Thousands of societies will spring up to gratify every taste and every
+Some, for example, will give their hours of leisure to literature. They
+will then form groups comprising authors, compositors, printers,
+engravers, draughtsmen, all pursuing a common aim--the propagation of
+ideas that are dear to them.
+Nowadays an author knows that there is a beast of burden, the worker, to
+whom, for the sum of a few shillings a day, he can entrust the printing
+of his books; but he hardly cares to know what a printing office is
+like. If the compositor suffers from lead-poisoning, and if the child
+who sees to the machine dies of anæmia, are there not other poor
+wretches to replace them?
+But when there will be no more starvelings ready to sell their work for
+a pittance, when the exploited worker of to-day will be educated, and
+will have his _own_ ideas to put down in black and white and to
+communicate to others, then the authors and scientific men will be
+compelled to combine among themselves and with the printers, in order to
+bring out their prose and their poetry.
+So long as men consider fustian and manual labour a mark of inferiority,
+it will appear amazing to them to see an author setting up his own book
+in type, for has he not a gymnasium or games by way of diversion? But
+when the opprobrium connected with manual labor has disappeared, when
+all will have to work with their hands, there being no one to do it for
+them, then the authors as well as their admirers will soon learn the art
+of handling composing-sticks and type; they will know the pleasure of
+coming together--all admirers of the work to be printed--to set up the
+type, to shape it into pages, to take it in its virginal purity from the
+press. These beautiful machines, instruments of torture to the child who
+attends on them from morn till night, will be a source of enjoyment for
+those who will make use of them in order to give voice to the thoughts
+of their favourite author.
+Will literature lose by it? Will the poet be less a poet after having
+worked out of doors or helped with his hands to multiply his work? Will
+the novelist lose his knowledge of human nature after having rubbed
+shoulders with other men in the forest or the factory, in the laying out
+of a road or on a railway line? Can there be two answers to these
+Maybe some books will be less voluminous; but then, more will be said on
+fewer pages. Maybe fewer waste-sheets will be published; but the matter
+printed will be more attentively read and more appreciated. The book
+will appeal to a larger circle of better educated readers, who will be
+more competent to judge.
+Moreover, the art of printing, that has so little progressed since
+Gutenberg, is still in its infancy. It takes two hours to compose in
+type what is written in ten minutes, but more expeditious methods of
+multiplying thought are being sought after and will be discovered.
+What a pity every author does not have to take his share in the printing
+of his works! What progress printing would have already made! We should
+no longer be using movable letters, as in the seventeenth century.
+Is it a dream to conceive a society in which--all having become
+producers, all having received an education that enables them to
+cultivate science or art, and all having leisure to do so--men would
+combine to publish the works of their choice, by contributing each his
+share of manual work? We have already hundreds of learned, literary, and
+other societies; and these societies are nothing but voluntary groups of
+men, interested in certain branches of learning, and associated for the
+purpose of publishing their works. The authors who write for the
+periodicals of these societies are not paid, and the periodicals, apart
+from a limited number of copies, are not for sale; they are sent gratis
+to all quarters of the globe, to other societies, cultivating the same
+branches of learning. This member of the Society may insert in its
+review a one-page note summarizing his observations; another may publish
+therein an extensive work, the results of long years of study; while
+others will confine themselves to consulting the review as a
+starting-point for further research. It does not matter: all these
+authors and readers are associated for the production of works in which
+all of them take an interest.
+It is true that a learned society, like the individual author, goes to a
+printing office where workmen are engaged to do the printing. Nowadays,
+those who belong to the learned societies despise manual labour which
+indeed is carried on under very bad conditions; but a community which
+would give a generous philosophic and _scientific_ education to all its
+members, would know how to organize manual labour in such a way that it
+would be the pride of humanity. Its learned societies would become
+associations of explorers, lovers of science, and workers--all knowing a
+manual trade and all interested in science.
+If, for example, the Society is studying geology, all will contribute to
+the exploration of the earth's strata; each member will take his share
+in research, and ten thousand observers, where we have now only a
+hundred, will do more in a year than we can do in twenty years. And when
+their works are to be published, ten thousand men and women, skilled in
+different trades, will be ready to draw maps, engrave designs, compose,
+and print the books. With gladness will they give their leisure--in
+summer to exploration, in winter to indoor work. And when their works
+appear, they will find not only a hundred, but ten thousand readers
+interested in their common work.
+This is the direction in which progress is already moving. Even to-day,
+when England felt the need of a complete dictionary of the English
+language, the birth of a Littré, who would devote his life to this work,
+was not waited for. Volunteers were appealed to, and a thousand men
+offered their services, spontaneously and gratuitously, to ransack the
+libraries, to take notes, and to accomplish in a few years a work which
+one man could not complete in his lifetime. In all branches of human
+intelligence the same spirit is breaking forth, and we should have a
+very limited knowledge of humanity could we not guess that the future is
+announcing itself in such tentative co-operation, which is gradually
+taking the place of individual work.
+For this dictionary to be a really collective work, it would have been
+necessary that many volunteer authors, printers, and printers' readers
+should have worked in common; but something in this direction is done
+already in the Socialist Press, which offers us examples of manual and
+intellectual work combined. It happens in our newspapers that a
+Socialist author composes in lead his own article. True, such attempts
+are rare, but they indicate in which direction evolution is going.
+They show the road of liberty. In future, when a man will have something
+useful to say--a word that goes beyond the thoughts of his century, he
+will not have to look for an editor who might advance the necessary
+capital. He will look for collaborators among those who know the
+printing trade, and who approve the idea of his new work. Together they
+will publish the new book or journal.
+Literature and journalism will cease to be a means of money-making and
+living at the cost of others. But is there any one who knows literature
+and journalism from within, and who does not ardently desire that
+literature should at last be able to free itself from those who formerly
+protected it, and who now exploit it, and from the multitude, which,
+with rare exceptions, pays for it in proportion to its mediocrity, or to
+the ease with which it adapts itself to the bad taste of the greater
+Letters and science will only take their proper place in the work of
+human development when, freed from all mercenary bondage, they will be
+exclusively cultivated by those who love them, and for those who love
+Literature, science, and art must be cultivated by free men. Only on
+this condition will they succeed in emancipating themselves from the
+yoke of the State, of Capital, and of the bourgeois mediocrity which
+What means has the scientist of to-day to make researches that interest
+him? Should he ask help of the State, which can only be given to one
+candidate in a hundred, and which only he may obtain who promises
+ostensibly to keep to the beaten track? Let us remember how the Academy
+of Sciences of France repudiated Darwin, how the Academy of St.
+Petersburg treated Mendeléeff with contempt, and how the Royal Society
+of London refused to publish Joule's paper, in which he determined the
+mechanical equivalent of heat, finding it "unscientific."
+It was why all great researches, all discoveries revolutionizing
+science, have been made outside academies and universities, either by
+men rich enough to remain independent, like Darwin and Lyell, or by men
+who undermined their health by working in poverty, and often in great
+straits, losing endless time for want of a laboratory, and unable to
+procure the instruments or books necessary to continue their researches,
+but persevering against hope, and often dying before they had reached
+the end in view. Their name is legion.
+Altogether, the system of help granted by the State is so bad that
+science has always endeavoured to emancipate itself from it. For this
+very reason there are thousands of learned societies organized and
+maintained by volunteers in Europe and America,--some having developed
+to such a degree that all the resources of subventioned societies, and
+all the wealth of millionaires, would not buy their treasures. No
+governmental institution is as rich as the Zoological Society of London,
+which is supported by voluntary contributions.
+It does not buy the animals which in thousands people its gardens: they
+are sent by other societies and by collectors of the entire world. The
+Zoological Society of Bombay will send an elephant as a gift; another
+time a hippopotamus or a rhinoceros is offered by Egyptian naturalists.
+And these magnificent presents are pouring in every day, arriving from
+all quarters of the globe--birds, reptiles, collections of insects, etc.
+Such consignments often comprise animals that could not be bought for
+all the gold in the world; thus a traveller who has captured an animal
+at life's peril, and now loves it as he would love a child, will give it
+to the Society because he is sure it will be cared for. The entrance fee
+paid by visitors, and they are numberless, suffices for the maintenance
+of that immense institution.
+What is defective in the Zoological Society of London, and in other
+kindred societies, is that the member's fee cannot be paid in work; that
+the keepers and numerous employes of this large institution are not
+recognized as members of the Society, while many have no other incentive
+to joining the society than to put the cabalistic letters F.Z.S (Fellow
+of the Zoological Society) on their cards. In a word, what is needed is
+a more perfect co-operation.
+We may say the same about inventors, that we have said of scientists.
+Who does not know what sufferings nearly all great inventions have cost?
+Sleepless nights, families deprived of bread, want of tools and
+materials for experiments, this is the history of nearly all those who
+have enriched industry with inventions which are the truly legitimate
+pride of our civilization.
+But what are we to do to alter the conditions that everybody is
+convinced are bad? Patents have been tried, and we know with what
+results. The inventor sells his patent for a few pounds, and the man who
+has only lent the capital pockets the enormous profits often resulting
+from the invention. Besides, patents isolate the inventor. They compel
+him to keep secret his researches which therefore end in failure;
+whereas the simplest suggestion, coming from a brain less absorbed in
+the fundamental idea, sometimes suffices to fertilize the invention and
+make it practical. Like all State control, patents hamper the progress
+of industry. Thought being incapable of being patented, patents are a
+crying injustice in theory, and in practice they result in one of the
+great obstacles to the rapid development of invention.
+What is needed to promote the spirit of invention is, first of all, the
+awakening of thought, the boldness of conception, which our entire
+education causes to languish; it is the spreading of a scientific
+education, which would increase the number of inquirers a hundredfold;
+it is faith that humanity is going to take a step forward, because it is
+enthusiasm, the hope of doing good, that has inspired all the great
+inventors. The Social Revolution alone can give this impulse to thought,
+this boldness, this knowledge, this conviction of working for all.
+Then we shall have vast institutes supplied with motor-power and tools
+of all sorts, immense industrial laboratories open to all inquirers,
+where men will be able to work out their dreams, after having acquitted
+themselves of their duty towards society; machinery palaces where they
+will spend their five or six hours of leisure; where they will make
+their experiments; where they will find other comrades, experts in other
+branches of industry, likewise coming to study some difficult problem,
+and therefore able to help and enlighten each other,--the encounter of
+their ideas and experience causing the longed-for solution to be found.
+And yet again, this is no dream. Solanóy Gorodók, in Petersburg, has
+already partially realized it as regards technical matters. It is a
+factory well furnished with tools and free to all; tools and motor-power
+are supplied gratis, only metals and wood are charged for at cost price.
+Unfortunately workmen only go there at night when worn out by ten hours'
+labour in the workshop. Moreover, they carefully hide their inventions
+from each other, as they are hampered by patents and Capitalism--that
+bane of present society, that stumbling-block in the path of
+intellectual and moral progress.
+And what about art? From all sides we hear lamentations about the
+decadence of art. We are, indeed, far behind the great masters of the
+Renaissance. The technicalities of art have recently made great
+progress; thousands of people gifted with a certain amount of talent
+cultivate every branch, but art seems to fly from civilization!
+Technicalities make headway, but inspiration frequents artists' studios
+less than ever.
+Where, indeed, should it come from? Only a grand idea can inspire art.
+_Art_ is in our ideal synonymous with creation, it must look ahead; but
+save a few rare, very rare exceptions, the professional artist remains
+too philistine to perceive new horizons.
+Moreover, this inspiration cannot come from books; it must be drawn from
+life, and present society cannot arouse it.
+Raphael and Murillo painted at a time when the search of a new ideal
+could be pursued while retaining the old religious traditions. They
+painted to decorate churches which themselves represented the pious work
+of several generations of a given city. The basilic with its mysterious
+aspect, its grandeur, was connected with the life itself of the city,
+and could inspire a painter. He worked for a popular monument; he spoke
+to his fellow-citizens, and in return he received inspiration; he
+appealed to the multitude in the same way as did the nave, the pillars,
+the stained windows, the statues, and the carved doors. Nowadays the
+greatest honour a painter can aspire to is to see his canvas, framed in
+gilded wood, hung in a museum, a sort of old curiosity shop, where you
+see, as in the Prado, Murillo's Ascension next to a beggar of Velasquez
+and the dogs of Philip II. Poor Velasquez and poor Murillo! Poor Greek
+statues which _lived_ in the Acropolis of their cities, and are now
+stifled beneath the red cloth hangings of the Louvre!
+When a Greek sculptor chiseled his marble he endeavored to express the
+spirit and heart of the city. All its passions, all its traditions of
+glory, were to live again in the work. But to-day the _united_ city has
+ceased to exist; there is no more communion of ideas. The town is a
+chance agglomeration of people who do not know one another, who have no
+common interest, save that of enriching themselves at the expense of one
+another. The fatherland does not exist.... What fatherland can the
+international banker and the rag-picker have in common? Only when
+cities, territories, nations, or groups of nations, will have renewed
+their harmonious life, will art be able to draw its inspiration from
+_ideals held in common_. Then will the architect conceive the city's
+monument which will no longer be a temple, a prison, or a fortress;
+then will the painter, the sculptor, the carver, the ornament-worker
+know where to put their canvases, their statues, and their decoration;
+deriving their power of execution from the same vital source, and
+gloriously marching all together towards the future.
+But till then art can only vegetate. The best canvases of modern artists
+are those that represent nature, villages, valleys, the sea with its
+dangers, the mountain with its splendours. But how can the painter
+express the poetry of work in the fields if he has only contemplated it,
+imagined it, if he has never delighted in it himself? If he only knows
+it as a bird of passage knows the country he soars over in his
+migrations? If, in the vigour of early youth, he has not followed the
+plough at dawn, and enjoyed mowing grass with a large sweep of the
+scythe next to hardy haymakers vying in energy with lively young girls
+who fill the air with their songs? The love of the soil and of what
+grows on it is not acquired by sketching with a paint-brush--it is only
+in its service; and without loving it, how paint it? This is why all
+that the best painters have produced in this direction is still so
+imperfect, not true to life, nearly always merely sentimental. There is
+no _strength_ in it.
+You must have seen a sunset when returning from work. You must have been
+a peasant among peasants to keep the splendour of it in your eye. You
+must have been at sea with fishermen at all hours of the day and night,
+have fished yourself, struggled with the waves, faced the storm, and
+after rough work experienced the joy of hauling a heavy net, or the
+disappointment of seeing it empty, to understand the poetry of fishing.
+You must have spent time in a factory, known the fatigues and the joys
+of creative work, forged metals by the vivid light of a blast furnace,
+have felt the life in a machine, to understand the power of man and to
+express it in a work of art. You must, in fact, be permeated with
+popular feelings, to describe them.
+Besides, the works of future artists who will have lived the life of
+the people, like the great artists of the past, will not be destined for
+sale. They will be an integral part of a living whole that would not be
+complete without them, any more than they would be complete without it.
+Men will go to the artist's own city to gaze at his work, and the
+spirited and serene beauty of such creations will produce its beneficial
+effect on heart and mind.
+Art, in order to develop, must be bound up with industry by a thousand
+intermediate degrees, blended, so to say, as Ruskin and the great
+Socialist poet Morris have proved so often and so well. Everything that
+surrounds man, in the street, in the interior and exterior of public
+monuments, must be of a pure artistic form.
+But this can only be realized in a society in which all enjoy comfort
+and leisure. Then only shall we see art associations, of which each
+member will find room for his capacity; for art cannot dispense with an
+infinity of purely manual and technical supplementary works. These
+artistic associations will undertake to embellish the houses of their
+members, as those kind volunteers, the young painters of Edinburgh, did
+in decorating the walls and ceilings of the great hospital for the poor
+in their city.
+A painter or sculptor who has produced a work of personal feeling will
+offer it to the woman he loves, or to a friend. Executed for love's
+sake,--will his work, inspired by love, be inferior to the art that
+to-day satisfies the vanity of the philistine, because it has cost much
+The same will be done as regards all pleasures not comprised in the
+necessaries of life. He who wishes for a grand piano will enter the
+association of musical instrument makers. And by giving the association
+part of his half-days' leisure, he will soon possess the piano of his
+dreams. If he is fond of astronomical studies he will join the
+association of astronomers, with its philosophers, its observers, its
+calculators, with its artists in astronomical instruments, its
+scientists and amateurs, and he will have the telescope he desires by
+taking his share of the associated work, for it is especially the rough
+work that is needed in an astronomical observatory--bricklayer's,
+carpenter's, founder's, mechanic's work, the last touch being given to
+the instrument of precision by the artist.
+In short, the five or seven hours a day which each will have at his
+disposal, after having consecrated several hours to the production of
+necessities, would amply suffice to satisfy all longings for luxury,
+however varied. Thousands of associations would undertake to supply
+them. What is now the privilege of an insignificant minority would be
+accessible to all. Luxury, ceasing to be a foolish and ostentatious
+display of the bourgeois class, would become an artistic pleasure.
+Everyone would be the happier for it. In collective work, performed with
+a light heart to attain a desired end, a book, a work of art, or an
+object of luxury, each will find an incentive and the necessary
+relaxation that makes life pleasant.
+In working to put an end to the division between master and slave, we
+work for the happiness of both, for the happiness of humanity.
+ They _have_ already been discovered since the above lines were
+ We know this from Playfair, who mentioned it at Joule's death.
+## CHAPTER X - AGREEABLE WORK
+When Socialists maintain that a society, freed from the rule of the
+capitalists, would make work agreeable, and would suppress all repugnant
+and unhealthy drudgery, they are laughed at. And yet even to-day we can
+see the striking progress that is being made in this direction; and
+wherever this progress has been achieved, employers congratulate
+themselves on the economy of energy obtained thereby.
+It is evident that a factory could be made as healthy and pleasant as a
+scientific laboratory. And it is no less evident that it would be
+advantageous to make it so. In a spacious and well-ventilated factory
+the work is better; it is easy to introduce many small ameliorations, of
+which each represents an economy of time or of manual labour. And if
+most of the workshops we know are foul and unhealthy, it is because the
+workers are of no account in the organization of factories, and because
+the most absurd waste of human energy is the distinctive feature of the
+present industrial organization.
+Nevertheless, now and again, we already find, even now, some factories
+so well managed that it would be a real pleasure to work in them, if the
+work, be it well understood, were not to last more than four or five
+hours a day, and if every one had the possibility of varying it
+according to his tastes.
+There are immense works, which I know, in one of the Midland counties,
+unfortunately consecrated to engines of war. They are perfect as regards
+sanitary and intelligent organization. They occupy fifty English acres
+of land, fifteen of which are roofed with glass. The pavement of
+fire-proof bricks is as clean as that of a miner's cottage, and the
+glass roof is carefully cleaned by a gang of workmen who do nothing
+else. In these works are forged steel ingots or blooms weighing as much
+as twenty tons; and when you stand thirty feet from the immense furnace,
+whose flames have a temperature of more than a thousand degrees, you do
+not guess its presence save when its great doors open to let out a steel
+monster. And the monster is handled by only three or four workmen, who
+now here, now there, open a tap causing immense cranes to move one way
+or another by the pressure of water.
+You enter these works expecting to hear the deafening noise of stampers,
+and you find that there are no stampers. The immense hundred-ton guns
+and the crank-shafts of transatlantic steamers are forged by hydraulic
+pressure, and the worker has but to turn a tap to give shape to the
+immense mass of steel, which makes a far more homogeneous metal, without
+crack or flaw, of the blooms, whatever be their thickness.
+I expected an infernal grating, and I saw machines which cut blocks of
+steel thirty feet long with no more noise than is needed to cut cheese.
+And when I expressed my admiration to the engineer who showed us round,
+"A mere question of economy! This machine, that planes steel, has been
+in use for forty-two years. It would not have lasted ten years if its
+parts, badly adjusted, 'interfered' and creaked at each movement of the
+"And the blast-furnaces? It would be a waste to let heat escape instead
+of utilizing it. Why roast the founders, when heat lost by radiation
+represents tons of coal?
+"The stampers that made buildings shake five leagues off were also
+waste. Is it not better to forge by pressure than by impact, and it
+costs less--there is less loss.
+"In these works, light, cleanliness, the space allotted to each bench,
+are but a simple question of economy. Work is better done when you can
+see what you do, and have elbow-room.
+"It is true," he said, "we were very cramped before coming here. Land
+is so expensive in the vicinity of large towns--landlords are so
+It is even so in mines. We know what mines are like nowadays from Zola's
+descriptions and from newspaper reports. But the mine of the future will
+be well ventilated, with a temperature as easily regulated as that of a
+library; there will be no horses doomed to die below the earth:
+underground traction will be carried on by means of an automatic cable
+put into motion at the pit's mouth. Ventilators will be always working,
+and there will never be explosions. This is no dream, such a mine is
+already to be seen in England; I went down it. Here again the excellent
+organization is simply a question of economy. The mine of which I speak,
+in spite of its immense depth (466 yards), has an output of a thousand
+tons of coal a day, with only two hundred miners--five tons a day per
+each worker, whereas the average for the two thousand pits in England at
+the time I visited this mine in the early 'nineties, was hardly three
+hundred tons a year per man.
+If necessary, it would be easy to multiply examples proving that as
+regards the material organization Fourier's dream was not a Utopia.
+This question has, however, been so frequently discussed in Socialist
+newspapers that public opinion should already be educated on this point.
+Factory, forge and mine _can_ be as healthy and magnificent as the
+finest laboratories in modern universities, and the better the
+organization the more will man's labour produce.
+If it be so, can we doubt that work will become a pleasure and a
+relaxation in a society of equals, in which "hands" will not be
+compelled to sell themselves to toil, and to accept work under any
+conditions? Repugnant tasks will disappear, because it is evident that
+these unhealthy conditions are harmful to society as a whole. Slaves can
+submit to them, but free men will create new conditions, and their work
+will be pleasant and infinitely more productive. The exceptions of
+to-day will be the rule of to-morrow.
+The same will come to pass as regards domestic work, which to-day
+society lays on the shoulders of that drudge of humanity--woman.
+A society regenerated by the Revolution will make domestic slavery
+disappear--this last form of slavery, perhaps the most tenacious,
+because it is also the most ancient. Only it will not come about in the
+way dreamt of by Phalansterians, nor in the manner often imagined by
+Phalansteries are repugnant to millions of human beings. The most
+reserved man certainly feels the necessity of meeting his fellows for
+the purpose of common work, which becomes the more attractive the more
+he feels himself a part of an immense whole. But it is not so for the
+hours of leisure, reserved for rest and intimacy. The phalanstery and
+the familystery do not take this into account, or else they endeavour to
+supply this need by artificial groupings.
+A phalanstery, which is in fact nothing but an immense hotel, can please
+some, and even all at a certain period of their life, but the great mass
+prefers family life (family life of the future, be it understood). They
+prefer isolated apartments, Anglo-Saxons even going as far as to prefer
+houses of from six to eight rooms, in which the family, or an
+agglomeration of friends, can live apart. Sometimes a phalanstery is a
+necessity, but it would be hateful, were it the general rule. Isolation,
+alternating with time spent in society, is the normal desire of human
+nature. This is why one of the greatest tortures in prison is the
+impossibility of isolation, much as solitary confinement becomes torture
+in its turn, when not alternated with hours of social life.
+As to considerations of economy, which are sometimes laid stress on in
+favour of phalansteries, they are those of a petty tradesman. The most
+important economy, the only reasonable one, is to make life pleasant for
+all, because the man who is satisfied with his life produces infinitely
+more than the man who curses his surroundings.
+Other Socialists reject the phalanstery. But when you ask them how
+domestic work can be organized, they answer: "Each can do 'his own
+work.' My wife manages the house; the wives of bourgeois will do as
+much." And if it is a bourgeois playing at Socialism who speaks, he will
+add, with a gracious smile to his wife: "Is it not true, darling, that
+you would do without a servant in the Socialist society? You would work
+like the wife of our good comrade Paul or the wife of John the
+Servant or wife, man always reckons on woman to do the house-work.
+But woman, too, at last claims her share in the emancipation of
+humanity. She no longer wants to be the beast of burden of the house.
+She considers it sufficient work to give many years of her life to the
+rearing of her children. She no longer wants to be the cook, the mender,
+the sweeper of the house! And, owing to American women taking the lead
+in obtaining their claims, there is a general complaint of the dearth of
+women who will condescend to domestic work in the United States. My lady
+prefers art, politics, literature, or the gaming tables; as to the
+work-girls, they are few, those who consent to submit to apron-slavery,
+and servants are only found with difficulty in the States. Consequently,
+the solution, a very simple one, is pointed out by life itself.
+Machinery undertakes three-quarters of the household cares.
+You black your boots, and you know how ridiculous this work is. What can
+be more stupid than rubbing a boot twenty or thirty times with a brush?
+A tenth of the European population must be compelled to sell itself in
+exchange for a miserable shelter and insufficient food, and woman must
+consider herself a slave, in order that millions of her sex should go
+through this performance every morning.
+But hairdressers have already machines for brushing glossy or woolly
+heads of hair. Why should we not apply, then, the same principle to the
+other extremity? So it has been done, and nowadays the machine for
+blacking boots is in general use in big American and European hotels.
+Its use is spreading outside hotels. In large English schools, where the
+pupils are boarding in the houses of the teachers, it has been found
+easier to have one single establishment which undertakes to brush a
+thousand pairs of boots every morning.
+As to washing up! Where can we find a housewife who has not a horror of
+this long and dirty work, that is usually done by hand, solely because
+the work of the domestic slave is of no account.
+In America they do better. There are already a number of cities in which
+hot water is conveyed to the houses as cold water is in Europe. Under
+these conditions the problem was a simple one, and a woman--Mrs.
+Cochrane--solved it. Her machine washes twelve dozen plates or dishes,
+wipes them and dries them, in less than three minutes. A factory in
+Illinois manufactures these machines and sells them at a price within
+reach of the average middle-class purse. And why should not small
+households send their crockery to an establishment as well as their
+boots? It is even probable that the two functions, brushing and washing
+up, will be undertaken by the same association.
+Cleaning, rubbing the skin off your hands when washing and wringing
+linen; sweeping floors and brushing carpets, thereby raising clouds of
+dust which afterwards occasion much trouble to dislodge from the places
+where they have settled down, all this work is still done because woman
+remains a slave, but it tends to disappear as it can be infinitely
+better done by machinery. Machines of all kinds will be introduced into
+households, and the distribution of motor-power in private houses will
+enable people to work them without muscular effort.
+Such machines cost little to manufacture. If we still pay very much for
+them, it is because they are not in general use, and chiefly because an
+exorbitant tax is levied upon every machine by the gentlemen who wish to
+live in grand style and who have speculated on land, raw material,
+manufacture, sale, patents, and duties.
+But emancipation from domestic toil will not be brought about by small
+machines only. Households are emerging from their present state of
+isolation; they begin to associate with other households to do in common
+what they did separately.
+In fact, in the future we shall not have a brushing machine, a machine
+for washing up plates, a third for washing linen, and so on, in each
+house. To the future, on the contrary, belongs the common heating
+apparatus that sends heat into each room of a whole district and spares
+the lighting of fires. It is already so in a few American cities. A
+great central furnace supplies all houses and all rooms with hot water,
+which circulates in pipes; and to regulate the temperature you need only
+turn a tap. And should you care to have a blazing fire in any particular
+room you can light the gas specially supplied for heating purposes from
+a central reservoir. All the immense work of cleaning chimneys and
+keeping up fires--and woman knows what time it takes--is disappearing.
+Candles, lamps, and even gas have had their day. There are entire cities
+in which it is sufficient to press a button for light to burst forth,
+and, indeed, it is a simple question of economy and of knowledge to give
+yourself the luxury of electric light. And lastly, also in America, they
+speak of forming societies for the almost complete suppression of
+household work. It would only be necessary to create a department for
+every block of houses. A cart would come to each door and take the boots
+to be blacked, the crockery to be washed up, the linen to be washed, the
+small things to be mended (if it were worth while), the carpets to be
+brushed, and the next morning would bring back the things entrusted to
+it, all well cleaned. A few hours later your hot coffee and your eggs
+done to a nicety would appear on your table. It is a fact that between
+twelve and two o'clock there are more than twenty million Americans and
+as many Englishmen who eat roast beef or mutton, boiled pork, potatoes
+and a seasonable vegetable. And at the lowest figure eight million fires
+burn during two or three hours to roast this meat and cook these
+vegetables; eight million women spend their time preparing a meal which,
+taking all households, represents at most a dozen different dishes.
+"Fifty fires burn," wrote an American woman the other day, "where one
+would suffice!" Dine at home, at your own table, with your children, if
+you like; but only think yourself, why should these fifty women waste
+their whole morning to prepare a few cups of coffee and a simple meal!
+Why fifty fires, when two people and one single fire would suffice to
+cook all these pieces of meat and all these vegetables? Choose your own
+beef or mutton to be roasted if you are particular. Season the
+vegetables to your taste if you prefer a particular sauce! But have a
+single kitchen with a single fire and organize it as beautifully as you
+are able to.
+Why has woman's work never been of any account? Why in every family are
+the mother and three or four servants obliged to spend so much time at
+what pertains to cooking? Because those who want to emancipate mankind
+have not included woman in their dream of emancipation, and consider it
+beneath their superior masculine dignity to think "of those kitchen
+arrangements," which they have put on the shoulders of that
+To emancipate woman, is not only to open the gates of the university,
+the law courts, or the parliaments to her, for the "emancipated" woman
+will always throw her domestic toil on to another woman. To emancipate
+woman is to free her from the brutalizing toil of kitchen and washhouse;
+it is to organize your household in such a way as to enable her to rear
+her children, if she be so minded, while still retaining sufficient
+leisure to take her share of social life.
+It will come. As we have said, things are already improving. Only let us
+fully understand that a revolution, intoxicated with the beautiful
+words, Liberty, Equality, Solidarity, would not be a revolution if it
+maintained slavery at home. Half humanity subjected to the slavery of
+the hearth would still have to rebel against the other half.
+ It seems that the Communists of Young Icaria had understood the
+importance of a free choice in their daily relations apart from work.
+The ideal of religious Communists has always been to have meals in
+common; it is by meals in common that early Christians manifested their
+adhesion to Christianity. Communion is still a vestige of it. Young
+Icarians had given up this religious tradition. They dined in a common
+dining room, but at small separate tables, at which they sat according
+to the attractions of the moment. The Communists of Anama have each
+their house and dine at home, while taking their provisions at will at
+the communal stores.
+## CHAPTER XI - FREE AGREEMENT
+Accustomed as we are by heredity prejudices and our unsound education
+and training to represent ourselves the beneficial hand of Government,
+legislation and magistracy everywhere, we have come to believe that man
+would tear his fellow-man to pieces like a wild beast the day the police
+took his eye off him; that absolute chaos would come about if authority
+were overthrown during a revolution. And with our eyes shut we pass by
+thousands and thousands of human groupings which form themselves freely,
+without any intervention of the law, and attain results infinitely
+superior to those achieved under governmental tutelage.
+If you open a daily paper you find that its pages are entirely devoted
+to Government transactions and to political jobbery. A man from another
+world, reading it, would believe that, with the exception of the Stock
+Exchange transactions, nothing gets done in Europe save by order of some
+master. You find nothing in the paper about institutions that spring up,
+grow up, and develop without ministerial prescription! Nothing--or
+almost nothing! Even where there is a heading, "Sundry Events" (_Faits
+divers_, a favorite column in the French papers), it is because they are
+connected with the police. A family drama, an act of rebellion, will
+only be mentioned if the police have appeared on the scene.
+Three hundred and fifty million Europeans love or hate one another,
+work, or live on their incomes; but, apart from literature, theatre, or
+sport, their lives remain ignored by newspapers if Governments have not
+intervened in it in some way or other. It is even so with history. We
+know the least details of the life of a king or of a parliament; all
+good and bad speeches pronounced by the politicians have been preserved:
+"speeches that have never had the least influence on the vote of a
+single member," as an old parliamentarian said. Royal visits, the good
+or bad humour of politicians, their jokes and intrigues, are all
+carefully recorded for posterity. But we have the greatest difficulty to
+reconstitute a city of the Middle Ages, to understand the mechanism of
+that immense commerce that was carried on between Hanseatic cities, or
+to know how the city of Rouen built its cathedral. If a scholar spends
+his life in studying these questions, his works remain unknown, and
+parliamentary histories--that is to say, the defective ones, as they
+only treat of one side of social life--multiply; they are circulated,
+they are taught in schools.
+In this way we do not even perceive the prodigious work, accomplished
+every day by spontaneous groups of men, which constitutes the chief work
+of our century.
+We therefore propose to point out some of these most striking
+manifestations, and to show how men, as soon as their interests do not
+absolutely clash, act in concert, harmoniously, and perform collective
+work of a very complex nature.
+It is evident that in present society, based on individual
+property--that is to say, on plunder, and on a narrow-minded, and
+therefore foolish individualism--facts of this kind are necessarily
+limited; agreements are not always perfectly free, and often they have a
+mean, if not execrable aim.
+But what concerns us is not to give examples which might be blindly
+followed, and which, moreover, present society could not possibly give
+us. What we have to do is to show that, in spite of the authoritarian
+individualism which stifles us, there remains in our life, taken as a
+whole, a very great part in which we only act by free agreement; and
+that therefore it would be much easier than is usually thought, to
+dispense with Government.
+In support of our view we have already mentioned railways, and we will
+now return to them.
+We know that Europe has a system of railways, over 175,000 miles long,
+and that on this network you can nowadays travel from north to south,
+from east to west, from Madrid to Petersburg, and from Calais to
+Constantinople, without delays, without even changing carriages (when
+you travel by express). More than that: a parcel deposited at a station
+will find its addressee anywhere, in Turkey or in Central Asia, without
+more formality needed for sending it than writing its destination on a
+bit of paper.
+This result might have been obtained in two ways. A Napoleon, a
+Bismarck, or some potentate having conquered Europe, would from Paris,
+Berlin, or Rome, draw a railway map and regulate the hours of the
+trains. The Russian Tsar Nicholas I. dreamt of such a power. When he was
+shown rough drafts of railways between Moscow and Petersburg, he seized
+a ruler and drew on the map of Russia a straight line between these two
+capitals, saying, "Here is the plan." And the road was built in a
+straight line, filling in deep ravines, building bridges of a giddy
+height, which had to be abandoned a few years later, after the railway
+had cost about £120,000 to £150,000 per English mile.
+This is one way, but happily things were managed differently. Railways
+were constructed piece by piece, the pieces were joined together, and
+the hundred different companies, to whom these pieces belonged,
+gradually came to an understanding concerning the arrival and departure
+of their trains, and the running of carriages on their rails, from all
+countries, without unloading merchandise as it passes from one network
+All this was done by free agreement, by exchange of letters and
+proposals, and by congresses at which delegates met to discuss well
+specified special points, and to come to an agreement about them, but
+not to make laws. After the congress was over, the delegates returned to
+their respective companies, not with a law, but with the draft of a
+contract to be accepted or rejected.
+Of course difficulties were met in the way. There were obstinate men
+who would not be convinced. But a common interest compelled them to
+agree in the end, without invoking the help of armies against the
+This immense network of railways connected together, and the enormous
+traffic it has given rise to, no doubt constitutes the most striking
+trait of the nineteenth century; and it is the result of free agreement.
+If somebody had foretold it eighty years ago, our grandfathers would
+have thought him idiotic or mad. They would have said: "Never will you
+be able to make the shareholders of a hundred companies listen to
+reason! It is a Utopia, a fairy tale. A central Government, with an
+'iron' dictator, can alone enforce it."
+And the most interesting thing in this organization is, that there is no
+European Central Government of Railways! Nothing! No minister of
+railways, no dictator, not even a continental parliament, not even a
+directing committee! Everything is done by free agreement.
+So we ask the believers in the State, who pretend that "we can never do
+without a central Government, were it only for regulating the traffic,"
+we ask them: "But how do European railways manage without them? How do
+they continue to convey millions of travellers and mountains of luggage
+across a continent? If companies owning railways have been able to
+agree, why should railway workers, who would take possession of
+railways, not agree likewise? And if the Petersburg-Warsaw Company and
+that of Paris-Belfort can act in harmony, without giving themselves the
+luxury of a common commander, why, in the midst of our societies,
+consisting of groups of free workers, should we need a Government?"
+When we endeavour to prove by examples that even to-day, in spite of the
+iniquitous organization of society as a whole, men, provided their
+interests be not diametrically opposed, agree without the intervention
+of authority, we do not ignore the objections that will be put forth.
+All such examples have their defective side, because it is impossible
+to quote a single organization exempt from the exploitation of the weak
+by the strong, the poor by the rich. This is why the Statists will not
+fail to tell us with their wonted logic: "You see that the intervention
+of the State is necessary to put an end to this exploitation!"
+Only they forget the lessons of history; they do not tell us to what
+extent the State itself has contributed towards the existing order by
+creating proletarians and delivering them up to exploiters. They forget
+to prove us that it is possible to put an end to exploitation while the
+primal causes--private capital and poverty, two-thirds of which are
+artificially created by the State--continue to exist.
+When we speak of the accord established among the railway companies, we
+expect them, the worshippers of the bourgeois State, to say to us: "Do
+you not see how the railway companies oppress and ill-use their
+employees and the travellers! The only way is, that the State should
+intervene to protect the workers and the public!"
+But have we not said and repeated over and over again, that as long as
+there are capitalists, these abuses of power will be perpetuated? It is
+precisely the State, the would-be benefactor, that has given to the
+companies that monopoly and those rights upon us which they possess
+to-day. Has it not created concessions, guarantees? Has it not sent its
+soldiers against railwaymen on strike? And during the first trials
+(quite lately we saw it still in Russia), has it not extended the
+privilege of the railway magnates as far as to forbid the Press to
+mention railway accidents, so as not to depreciate the shares it
+guaranteed? Has it not favoured the monopoly which has anointed the
+Vanderbilts and the Polyakoffs, the directors of the P.L.M., the C.P.R.,
+the St. Gothard, "the kings of our days"?
+Therefore, if we give as an example the tacit agreement come to between
+railway companies, it is by no means as an ideal of economical
+management, nor even an ideal of technical organization. It is to show
+that if capitalists, without any other aim than that of augmenting
+their dividends at other people's expense, can exploit railways
+successfully without establishing an International
+Department,--societies of working men will be able to do it just as
+well, and even better, without nominating a Ministry of European
+Another objection is raised that is more serious at first sight. We may
+be told that the agreement we speak of is not perfectly _free_, that the
+large companies lay down the law to the small ones. It might be
+mentioned, for example, that a certain rich German company, supported by
+the State, compel travellers who go from Berlin to Bâle to pass via
+Cologne and Frankfort, instead of taking the Leipzig route; or that such
+a company carries goods a hundred and thirty miles in a roundabout way
+(on a long distance) to favour its influential shareholders, and thus
+ruins the secondary lines. In the United States travellers and goods are
+sometimes compelled to travel impossibly circuitous routes so that
+dollars may flow into the pocket of a Vanderbilt.
+Our answer will be the same: As long as Capital exists, the Greater
+Capital will oppress the lesser. But oppression does not result from
+Capital only. It is also owing to the support given them by the State,
+to monopoly created by the State in their favour, that the large
+companies oppress the small ones.
+The early English and French Socialists have shown long since how
+English legislation did all in its power to ruin the small industries,
+drive the peasant to poverty, and deliver over to wealthy industrial
+employers battalions of men, compelled to work for no matter what
+salary. Railway legislation did exactly the same. Strategic lines,
+subsidized lines, companies which received the International Mail
+monopoly, everything was brought into play to forward the interests of
+wealthy financiers. When Rothschild, creditor to all European States,
+puts capital in a railway, his faithful subjects, the ministers, will do
+their best to make him earn more.
+In the United States, in the Democracy that authoritarians hold up to us
+as an ideal, the most scandalous fraudulency has crept into everything
+that concerns railroads. Thus, if a company ruins its competitors by
+cheap fares, it is often enabled to do so because it is reimbursed by
+land given to it by the State for a gratuity. Documents recently
+published concerning the American wheat trade have fully shown up the
+part played by the State in the exploitation of the weak by the strong.
+Here, too, the power of accumulated capital has increased tenfold and a
+hundredfold by means of State help. So that, when we see syndicates of
+railway companies (a product of free agreement) succeeding in protecting
+their small companies against big ones, we are astonished at the
+intrinsic force of free agreement that can hold its own against
+all-powerful Capital favoured by the State.
+It is a fact that little companies exist, in spite of the State's
+partiality. If in France, land of centralization, we only see five or
+six large companies, there are more than a hundred and ten in Great
+Britain who agree remarkably well, and who are certainly better
+organized for the rapid transit of travellers and goods than the French
+and German companies.
+Moreover, that is not the question. Large Capital, favoured by the
+State, can always, _if it be to its advantage_, crush the lesser one.
+What is of importance to us is this: The agreement between hundreds of
+capitalist companies to whom the railways of Europe belong, _was
+established without intervention of a central government_ to lay down
+the law to the divers societies; it has subsisted by means of congresses
+composed of delegates, who discuss among themselves, and submit
+_proposals_, not _laws_, to their constituents. It is a new principle
+that differs completely from all governmental principle, monarchical or
+republican, absolute or parliamentarian. It is an innovation that has
+been timidly introduced into the customs of Europe, but has come to
+How often have we not read in the writings of State-loving Socialists:
+"Who, then, will undertake the regulation of canal traffic in the
+future society? Should it enter the mind of one of your Anarchist
+'comrades' to put his barge across a canal and obstruct thousands of
+boats, who will force him to reason?"
+Let us confess the supposition to be somewhat fanciful. Still, it might
+be said, for instance: "Should a certain commune, or a group of
+communes, want to make their barges pass before others, they might
+perhaps block the canal in order to carry stones, while wheat, needed in
+another commune, would have to stand by. Who, then, would regulate the
+traffic if not the Government?"
+But real life has again demonstrated that Government can be very well
+dispensed with here as elsewhere. Free agreement, free organization,
+replace that noxious and costly system, and do better.
+We know what canals mean to Holland. They are its highways. We also
+know how much traffic there is on the canals. What is carried along our
+highroads and railroads is transported on canal-boats in Holland. There
+you could find cause to fight, in order to make your boats pass before
+others. There the Government might really interfere to keep the traffic
+Yet it is not so. The Dutch settled matters in a more practical way,
+long ago, by founding guilds, or syndicates of boatmen. These were free
+associations sprung from the very needs of navigation. The right of way
+for the boats was adjusted by the order of inscription in a navigation
+register; they had to follow one another in turn. Nobody was allowed to
+get ahead of the others under pain of being excluded from the guild.
+None could station more than a certain number of days along the quay;
+and if the owner found no goods to carry during that time, so much the
+worse for him; he had to depart with his empty barge to leave room for
+newcomers. Obstruction was thus avoided, even though the competition
+between the private owners of the boats continued to exist. Were the
+latter suppressed, the agreement would have been only the more cordial.
+It is unnecessary to add that the shipowners could adhere or not to the
+syndicate. That was their business, but most of them elected to join it.
+Moreover, these syndicates offered such great advantages that they
+spread also along the Rhine, the Weser, the Oder, and as far as Berlin.
+The boatmen did not wait for a great Bismarck to annex Holland to
+Germany, and to appoint an Ober Haupt General Staats Canal Navigation's
+Rath (Supreme Head Councillor of the General States Canal Navigation),
+with a number of gold stripes on his sleeves, corresponding to the
+length of the title. They preferred coming to an international
+understanding. Besides, a number of shipowners, whose sailing-vessels
+ply between Germany and Scandinavia, as well as Russia, have also joined
+these syndicates, in order to regulate traffic in the Baltic, and to
+bring about a certain harmony in the chassé-croisé of vessels. These
+associations have sprung up freely, recruiting volunteer adherents, and
+have nought in common with governments.
+It is, however, more than probable that here too greater capital
+oppresses lesser. Maybe the syndicate has also a tendency to become a
+monopoly, especially where it receives the precious patronage of the
+State that surely did not fail to interfere with it. Let us not forget
+either, that these syndicates represent associations whose members have
+only private interests at stake, and that if at the same time each
+shipowner were compelled--by the socializing of production, consumption,
+and exchange--to belong to federated Communes, or to a hundred other
+associations for the satisfying of his needs, things would have a
+different aspect. A group of shipowners, powerful on sea, would feel
+weak on land, and they would be obliged to lessen their claims in order
+to come to terms with railways, factories, and other groups.
+At any rate, without discussing the future, here is another spontaneous
+association that has dispensed with Government. Let us quote more
+As we are talking of ships and boats, let us mention one of the most
+splendid organizations that the nineteenth century has brought forth,
+one of those we may with right be proud of--the English Lifeboat
+It is known that every year more than a thousand ships are wrecked on
+the shores of England. At sea a good ship seldom fears a storm. It is
+near the coasts that danger threatens--rough seas that shatter her
+stern-post, squalls that carry off her masts and sails, currents that
+render her unmanageable, reefs and sand banks on which she runs aground.
+Even in olden times, when it was a custom among inhabitants of the
+coasts to light fires in order to attract vessels on to reefs, in order
+to plunder their cargoes, they always strove to save the crew. Seeing a
+ship in distress, they launched their boats and went to the rescue of
+shipwrecked sailors, only too often finding a watery grave themselves.
+Every hamlet along the sea shore has its legends of heroism, displayed
+by woman as well as by man, to save crews in distress.
+No doubt the State and men of science have done something to diminish
+the number of casualties. Lighthouses, signals, charts, meteorological
+warnings have diminished them greatly, but there remains a thousand
+ships and several thousand human lives to be saved every year.
+To this end a few men of goodwill put their shoulders to the wheel.
+Being good sailors and navigators themselves, they invented a lifeboat
+that could weather a storm without being torn to pieces or capsizing,
+and they set to work to interest the public in their venture, to collect
+the necessary funds for constructing boats, and for stationing them
+along the coasts, wherever they could be of use.
+These men, not being Jacobins, did not turn to the Government. They
+understood that to bring their enterprise to a successful issue they
+must have the co-operation, the enthusiasm, the local knowledge, and
+especially the self-sacrifice of the local sailors. They also understood
+that to find men who at the first signal would launch their boat at
+night, in a chaos of waves, not suffering themselves to be deterred by
+darkness or breakers, and struggling five, six, ten hours against the
+tide before reaching a vessel in distress--men ready to risk their lives
+to save those of others--there must be a feeling of solidarity, a spirit
+of sacrifice not to be bought with galloon. It was therefore a perfectly
+spontaneous movement, sprung from agreement and individual initiative.
+Hundreds of local groups arose along the coasts. The initiators had the
+common senses not to pose as masters. They looked for sagacity in the
+fishermen's hamlets, and when a rich man sent £1,000 to a village on the
+coast to erect a lifeboat station, and his offer was accepted, he left
+the choice of a site to the local fishermen and sailors.
+Models of new boats were not submitted to the Admiralty. We read in a
+Report of the Association: "As it is of importance that life-boatmen
+should have full confidence in the vessel they man, the Committee will
+make a point of constructing and equipping the boats according to the
+life-boatmen's expressed wish." In consequence every year brings with it
+The work is wholly conducted by volunteers organizing in committees and
+local groups; by mutual aid and agreement!--Oh, Anarchists! Moreover,
+they ask nothing of the ratepayers, and in a year they may receive
+£40,000 in spontaneous subscriptions.
+As to the results, here they are: In 1891 the Association possessed 293
+lifeboats. The same year it saved 601 shipwrecked sailors and 33
+vessels. Since its foundation it has saved 32,671 human beings.
+In 1886, three lifeboats with all their men having perished at sea,
+hundreds of new volunteers entered their names, organized themselves
+into local groups, and the agitation resulted in the construction of
+twenty additional boats. As we proceed, let us note that every year the
+Association sends to the fishermen and sailors excellent barometers at a
+price three times less than their sale price in private shops. It
+propagates meteorological knowledge, and warns the parties concerned of
+the sudden changes of weather predicted by men of science.
+Let us repeat that these hundreds of committees and local groups are
+not organized hierarchically, and are composed exclusively of
+volunteers, lifeboatmen, and people interested in the work. The Central
+Committee, which is more of a centre for correspondence, in no wise
+It is true that when a voting on some question of education or local
+taxation takes place in a district, these committees of the National
+Lifeboat Association do not, as such, take part in the deliberations--a
+modesty, which unfortunately the members of elected bodies do not
+imitate. But, on the other hand, these brave men do not allow those who
+have never faced a storm to legislate for them about saving life. At the
+first signal of distress they rush to their boats, and go ahead. There
+are no embroidered uniforms, but much goodwill.
+Let us take another society of the same kind, that of the Red Cross. The
+name matters little; let us examine it.
+Imagine somebody saying fifty years ago: "The State, capable as it is of
+massacring twenty thousand men in a day, and of wounding fifty thousand
+more, is incapable of helping its own victims; consequently, as long as
+war exists private initiative must intervene, and men of goodwill must
+organize internationally for this humane work!" What mockery would not
+have met the man who would have dared to speak thus! To begin with, he
+would have been called a Utopian, and if that did not silence him he
+would have been told: "What nonsense! Your volunteers will be found
+wanting precisely where they are most needed, your volunteer hospitals
+will be centralized in a safe place, while everything will be wanting in
+the ambulances. Utopians like you forget the national rivalries which
+will cause the poor soldiers to die without any help." Such
+disheartening remarks would have only been equalled by the number of
+speakers. Who of us has not heard men hold forth in this strain?
+Now we know what happened. Red Cross societies organized themselves
+freely, everywhere, in all countries, in thousands of localities; and
+when the war of 1870-1 broke out, the volunteers set to work. Men and
+women offered their services. Thousands of hospitals and ambulances
+were organized; trains were started carrying ambulances, provisions,
+linen, and medicaments for the wounded. The English committees sent
+entire convoys of food, clothing, tools, grain to sow, beasts of
+draught, even steam-ploughs with their attendants to help in the tillage
+of departments devastated by the war! Only consult _La Croix Rouge_, by
+Gustave Moynier, and you will be really struck by the immensity of the
+As to the prophets ever ready to deny other men's courage, good sense,
+and intelligence, and believing themselves to be the only ones capable
+of ruling the world with a rod, none of their predictions were realized.
+The devotion of the Red Cross volunteers was beyond all praise. They
+were only too eager to occupy the most dangerous posts; and whereas the
+salaried doctors of the Napoleonic State fled with their staff when the
+Prussians approached, the Red Cross volunteers continued their work
+under fire, enduring the brutalities of Bismarck's and Napoleon's
+officers, lavishing their care on the wounded of all nationalities.
+Dutch, Italians, Swedes, Belgians, even Japanese and Chinese agreed
+remarkably well. They distributed their hospitals and their ambulances
+according to the needs of the occasion. They vied with one another
+especially in the hygiene of their hospitals. And there is many a
+Frenchman who still speaks with deep gratitude of the tender care he
+received from the Dutch or German volunteers in the Red Cross
+ambulances. But what is this to an authoritarian? His ideal is the
+regiment doctor, salaried by the State. What does he care for the Red
+Cross and its hygienic hospitals, if the nurses be not functionaries!
+Here is then an organization, sprung up but yesterday, and which reckons
+its members by hundreds of thousands; possesses ambulances, hospital
+trains, elaborates new processes for treating wounds, and so on, and is
+due to the spontaneous initiative of a few devoted men.
+Perhaps we shall be told that the State has something to do with this
+organization. Yes, States have laid hands on it to seize it. The
+directing committees are presided over by those whom flunkeys call
+princes of the blood. Emperors and queens lavishly patronize the
+national committees. But it is not to this patronage that the success of
+the organization is due. It is to the thousand local committees of each
+nation; to the activity of individuals, to the devotion of all those who
+try to help the victims of war. And this devotion would be far greater
+if the State did not meddle with it.
+In any case, it was not by the order of an International Directing
+Committee that Englishmen and Japanese, Swedes and Chinamen, bestirred
+themselves to send help to the wounded in 1871. It was not by order of
+an international ministry that hospitals rose on the invaded territory
+and that ambulances were carried on to the battlefield. It was by the
+initiative of volunteers from each country. Once on the spot, they did
+not get hold of one another by the hair as was foreseen by the
+Jacobinists of all nations; they all set to work without distinction of
+We may regret that such great efforts should be put to the service of so
+bad a cause, and we may ask ourselves like the poet's child: "Why
+inflict wounds if you are to heal them afterwards?" In striving to
+destroy the power of capitalist and middle-class authority, we work to
+put an end to the massacres called wars, and we would far rather see the
+Red Cross volunteers put forth their activity to bring about (with us)
+the suppression of war; but we had to mention this immense organization
+as another illustration of results produced by free agreement and free
+If we wished to multiply examples taken from the art of exterminating
+men we should never end. Suffice to quote the numerous societies to
+which the German army owes its force, that does not only depend on
+discipline, as is generally believed. I mean the societies whose aim is
+to propagate military knowledge.
+At one of the last congresses of the Military Alliance (Kriegerbund),
+delegates from 2,452 federated societies, comprising 151,712 members,
+were present. But there are besides very numerous Shooting, Military
+Games, Strategical Games, Topographical Studies Societies--these are the
+workshops in which the technical knowledge of the German army is
+developed, not in regimental schools. It is a formidable network of all
+kinds of societies, including military men and civilians, geographers
+and gymnasts, sportsmen and technologists, which rise up spontaneously,
+organize, federate, discuss, and explore the country. It is these
+voluntary and free associations that go to make the real backbone of the
+Their aim is execrable. It is the maintenance of the Empire. But what
+concerns us, is to point out that, in spite of military organization
+being the "Great Mission of the State," success in this branch is the
+more certain the more it is left to the free agreement of groups and to
+the free initiative of individuals.
+Even in matters pertaining to war, free agreement is thus appealed to;
+and to further prove our assertion let us mention the Volunteer
+Topographers' Corps of Switzerland who study in detail the mountain
+passages, the Aeroplane Corps of France, the three hundred thousand
+British volunteers, the British National Artillery Association, and the
+Society, now in course of organization, for the defence of England's
+coasts, as well as the appeals made to the commercial fleet, the
+Bicyclists' Corps, and the new organizations of private motorcars and
+Everywhere the State is abdicating and abandoning its holy functions to
+private individuals. Everywhere free organization trespasses on its
+domain. And yet, the facts we have quoted give us only a glimpse of what
+free government has in store for us in the future when there will be no
+## CHAPTER XII - OBJECTIONS
+Let us now examine the principal objections put forth against Communism.
+Most of them are evidently caused by a simple misunderstanding, yet they
+raise important questions and merit our attention.
+It is not for us to answer the objections raised by authoritarian
+Communism--we ourselves hold with them. Civilized nations have suffered
+too much in the long, hard struggle for the emancipation of the
+individual, to disown their past work and to tolerate a Government that
+would make itself felt in the smallest details of a citizen's life, even
+if that Government had no other aim than the good of the community.
+Should an authoritarian Socialist society ever succeed in establishing
+itself, it could not last; general discontent would soon force it to
+break up, or to reorganize itself on principles of liberty.
+It is of an Anarchist-Communist society we are about to speak, a society
+that recognizes the absolute liberty of the individual, that does not
+admit of any authority, and makes use of no compulsion to drive men to
+work. Limiting our studies to the economic side of the question, let us
+see if such a society, composed of men as they are to-day, neither
+better nor worse, neither more nor less industrious, would have a chance
+of successful development.
+The objection is known. "If the existence of each is guaranteed, and if
+the necessity of earning wages does not compel men to work, nobody will
+work. Every man will lay the burden of his work on another if he is not
+forced to do it himself." Let us first note the incredible levity with
+which this objection is raised, without even realizing that the real
+question raised by this objection is merely to know, on the one hand,
+whether you effectively obtain by wage-work, the results that are said
+to be obtained, and, on the other hand, whether voluntary work is not
+already now more productive than work stimulated by wages. A question
+which, to be dealt with properly, would require a serious study. But
+whereas in exact sciences men give their opinion on subjects infinitely
+less important and less complicated after serious research, after
+carefully collecting and analyzing facts--on this question they will
+pronounce judgment without appeal, resting satisfied with any one
+particular event, such as, for example, the want of success of some
+communist association in America. They act like the barrister who does
+not see in the counsel for the opposite side a representative of a
+cause, or an opinion contrary to his own, but a simple nuisance,--an
+adversary in an oratorical debate; and if he be lucky enough to find a
+repartee, does not otherwise care to justify his cause. Therefore the
+study of this essential basis of all Political Economy, _the study of
+the most favourable conditions for giving society the greatest amount of
+useful products with the least waste of human energy_, does not advance.
+People either limit themselves to repeating commonplace assertions, or
+else they pretend ignorance of our assertions.
+What is most striking in this levity is that even in capitalist
+Political Economy you already find a few writers compelled by facts to
+doubt the axiom put forth by the founders of their science, that the
+threat of hunger is man's best stimulant for productive work. They begin
+to perceive that in production a certain _collective element_ is
+introduced, which has been too much neglected up till now, and which
+might be more important than personal gain. The inferior quality of
+wage-work, the terrible waste of human energy in modern agricultural and
+industrial labour, the ever-growing quantity of pleasure-seekers, who
+shift their burden on to others' shoulders, the absence of a certain
+animation in production that is becoming more and more apparent; all
+this is beginning to preoccupy the economists of the "classical" school.
+Some of them ask themselves if they have not got on the wrong track: if
+the imaginary evil being, that was supposed to be tempted exclusively by
+a bait of lucre or wages, really exists. This heresy penetrates even
+into universities; it is found in books of orthodox economy.
+But this does not prevent a great many Socialist reformers from
+remaining partisans of individual remuneration, and defending the old
+citadel of wagedom, notwithstanding that it is being delivered over
+stone by stone to the assailants by its former defenders.
+They fear that without compulsion the masses will not work.
+But during our own lifetime, have we not heard the same fears expressed
+twice? Once, by the anti-abolitionists in America before the
+emancipation of the Negroes, and, for a second time, by the Russian
+nobility before the liberation of the serfs? "Without the whip the Negro
+will not work," said the anti-abolitionist. "Free from their master's
+supervision the serfs will leave the fields uncultivated," said the
+Russian serf-owners. It was the refrain of the French noblemen in 1789,
+the refrain of the Middle Ages, a refrain as old as the world, and we
+shall hear it every time there is a question of sweeping away an
+injustice. And each time actual facts give it the lie. The liberated
+peasant of 1792 ploughed with an eager energy, unknown to his ancestors;
+the emancipated Negro works more than his fathers; and the Russian
+peasant, after having honoured the honeymoon of his emancipation by
+celebrating Fridays as well as Sundays, has taken up work with an
+eagerness proportionate to the completeness of his liberation. There,
+where the soil is his, he works desperately; that is the exact word for
+it. The anti-abolitionist refrain can be of value to slave-owners; as to
+the slaves themselves, they know what it is worth, as they know its
+Moreover, who but the economists themselves taught us that while a
+wage-earner's work is very often indifferent, an intense and productive
+work is only obtained from a man who sees his wealth increase in
+proportion to his efforts? All hymns sung in honour of private property
+can be reduced to this axiom.
+For it is remarkable that when economists, wishing to celebrate the
+blessings of property, show us how an unproductive, marshy, or stony
+soil is clothed with rich harvests when cultivated by the peasant
+proprietor, they in nowise prove their thesis in favour of private
+property. By admitting that the only guarantee not to be robbed of the
+fruits of your labour is to possess the instruments of labour--which is
+true--the economists only prove that man really produces most when he
+works in freedom, when he has a certain choice in his occupations, when
+he has no overseer to impede him, and lastly, when he sees his work
+bringing in a profit to him and to others who work like him, but
+bringing in little to idlers. Nothing else can be deducted from their
+argumentation, and this is what we maintain ourselves.
+As to the form of possession of the instruments of labour, the
+economists only mention it _indirectly_ in their demonstration, as a
+guarantee to the cultivator that he shall not be robbed of the profits
+of his yield nor of his improvements. Besides, in support of their
+thesis in favour of _private property_ against all other forms of
+_possession_, should not the economists demonstrate that under the form
+of communal property land never produces such rich harvests as when the
+possession is private? But this they could not prove; in fact, it is the
+contrary that has been observed.
+Take for example a commune in the canton of Vaud, in the winter time,
+when all the men of the village go to fell wood in the forest, which
+belongs to them all. It is precisely during these festivals of labour
+that the greatest ardour for work and the most considerable display of
+human energy are apparent. No salaried labour, no effort of a private
+owner can bear comparison with it.
+Or let us take a Russian village, when all its inhabitants mow a field
+belonging to the commune, or farmed by it. There you will see what man
+_can_ produce when he works in common for communal production. Comrades
+vie with one another in cutting the widest swathe, women bestir
+themselves in their wake so as not to be distanced by the mowers. It is
+a festival of labour, in which a hundred people accomplish in a few
+hours a work that would not have been finished in a few days had they
+worked separately. What a miserable contrast compared to them is offered
+by the work of the isolated owner!
+In fact, we might quote scores of examples among the pioneers of
+America, in Swiss, German, Russian, and in certain French villages; or
+the work done in Russia by gangs (_artels)_ of masons, carpenters,
+boatmen, fishermen, etc., who undertake a task and divide the produce or
+the remuneration among themselves without it passing through an
+intermediary of middlemen; or else the amount of work I saw performed in
+English ship-yards when the remuneration was paid on the same principle.
+We could also mention the great communal hunts of nomadic tribes, and an
+infinite number of successful collective enterprises. And in every case
+we could show the unquestionable superiority of communal work compared
+to that of the wage-earner or the isolated private owner.
+Well-being--that is to say, the satisfaction of physical, artistic, and
+moral needs, has always been the most powerful stimulant to work. And
+where a hireling hardly succeeds to produce the bare necessities with
+difficulty, a free worker, who sees ease and luxury increasing for him
+and for others in proportion to his efforts, spends infinitely far more
+energy and intelligence, and obtains products in a far greater
+abundance. The one feels riveted to misery, the other hopes for ease and
+luxury in the future. In this lies the whole secret. Therefore a society
+aiming at the well-being of all, and at the possibility of all enjoying
+life in all its manifestations, will give voluntary work, which will be
+infinitely superior and yield far more than work has produced up till
+now under the goad of slavery, serfdom, or wagedom.
+Nowadays, whoever can load on others his share of labour indispensable
+to existence does so, and it is believed that it will always be so.
+Now, work indispensable to existence is essentially manual. We may be
+artists or scientists; but none of us can do without things obtained by
+manual work--bread, clothes, roads, ships, light, heat, etc. And,
+moreover, however highly artistic or however subtly metaphysical are our
+pleasures, they all depend on manual labour. And it is precisely this
+labour--the basis of life--that everyone tries to avoid.
+We understand perfectly well that it must be so nowadays.
+Because, to do manual work now, means in reality to shut yourself up for
+ten or twelve hours a day in an unhealthy workshop, and to remain
+chained to the same task for twenty or thirty years, and maybe for your
+It means to be doomed to a paltry wage, to the uncertainty of the
+morrow, to want of work, often to destitution, more often than not to
+death in a hospital, after having worked forty years to feed, clothe,
+amuse, and instruct others than yourself and your children.
+It means to bear the stamp of inferiority all your life; because,
+whatever the politicians tell us, the manual worker is always considered
+inferior to the brain worker, and the one who has toiled ten hours in a
+workshop has not the time, and still less the means, to give himself the
+high delights of science and art, nor even to prepare himself to
+appreciate them; he must be content with the crumbs from the table of
+We understand that under these conditions manual labour is considered a
+curse of fate.
+We understand that all men have but one dream--that of emerging from, or
+enabling their children to emerge from this inferior state; to create
+for themselves an "independent" position, which means what?--To also
+live by other men's work!
+As long as there will be a class of manual workers and a class of
+"brain" workers, black hands and white hands, it will be thus.
+What interest, in fact, can this depressing work have for the worker,
+when he knows that the fate awaiting him from the cradle to the grave
+will be to live in mediocrity, poverty, and insecurity of the morrow?
+Therefore, when we see the immense majority of men take up their
+wretched task every morning, we feel surprised at their perseverance, at
+their zeal for work, at the habit that enables them, like machines
+blindly obeying an impetus given, to lead this life of misery without
+hope for the morrow; without foreseeing ever so vaguely that some day
+they, or at least their children, will be part of a humanity rich in all
+the treasures of a bountiful nature, in all the enjoyments of knowledge,
+scientific and artistic creation, reserved to-day to a few privileged
+It is precisely to put an end to this separation between manual and
+brain work that we want to abolish wagedom, that we want the Social
+Revolution. Then work will no longer appear a curse of fate: it will
+become what it should be--the free exercise of _all_ the faculties of
+Moreover, it is time to submit to a serious analysis this legend about
+superior work, supposed to be obtained under the lash of wagedom.
+It would be sufficient to visit, not the model factory and workshop that
+we find now and again, but a number of the ordinary factories, to
+conceive the immense waste of human energy that characterizes modern
+industry. For one factory more or less rationally organized, there are a
+hundred or more which waste man's labour, without any more substantial
+motive than that of perhaps bringing in a few pounds more per day to the
+Here you see youths from twenty to twenty-five years of age, sitting all
+day long on a bench, their chests sunken in, feverishly shaking their
+heads and bodies, to tie, with the speed of conjurers, the two ends of
+worthless scraps of cotton, the refuse of the lace-looms. What progeny
+will these trembling and rickety bodies bequeath to their country? "But
+they occupy so little room in the factory, and each of them brings me in
+sixpence net every day," will say the employer.
+In an immense London factory we saw girls, bald at seventeen from
+carrying trays of matches on their heads from one room to another, when
+the simplest machine could wheel the matches to their tables. But "It
+costs so little, the work of women who have no special trade! Why should
+we use a machine? When these can do no more, they will be easily
+replaced, there are so many of them in the street!"
+On the steps of a mansion on an icy night you will find a bare-footed
+child asleep, with its bundle of papers in its arms ... child-labour
+costs so little that it may be well employed, every evening, to sell
+tenpenny-worth of papers, of which the poor boy will receive a penny, or
+a penny halfpenny. And continually in all big cities you may see robust
+men tramping about who have been out of work for months, while their
+daughters grow pale in the overheated vapours of the workshops for
+dressing stuffs, and their sons are filling blacking-pots by hand, or
+spend those years during which they ought to have learned a trade, in
+carrying about baskets for a greengrocer, and at the age of eighteen or
+twenty become regular unemployed.
+And so it is everywhere, from San Francisco to Moscow, and from Naples
+to Stockholm. The waste of human energy is the distinguishing and
+predominant trait of our industry, not to mention trade where it attains
+still more colossal proportions.
+What a sad satire is that name, Political _Economy_, given to the
+science of waste and energy under the system of wagedom!
+This is not all. If you speak to the director of a well-organized
+factory, he will naively explain to you that it is difficult nowadays to
+find a skilful, vigorous, and energetic workman, who works with a will.
+"Should such a man present himself among the twenty or thirty who call
+every Monday asking us for work, he is sure to be received, even if we
+are reducing the number of our hands. We recognize him at the first
+glance, and he is always accepted, even though we have to get rid of an
+older and less active worker the next day." And the one who has just
+received notice to quit, and all those who will receive it to-morrow, go
+to reinforce that immense reserve-army of capital--workmen out of
+work--who are only called to the loom or the bench when there is
+pressure of work, or to oppose strikers. And those others--the average
+workers who are sent away by the better-class factories as soon as
+business is slackened? They also join the formidable army of aged and
+indifferent workers who continually circulate among the second-class
+factories--those which barely cover their expenses and make their way in
+the world by trickery and snares laid for the buyer, and especially for
+the consumer in distant countries.
+And if you talk to the workmen themselves, you will soon learn that the
+rule in such factories is--never to do your best. "Shoddy pay--shoddy
+work!" this is the advice which the working man receives from his
+comrades upon entering such a factory.
+For the workers know that if in a moment of generosity they give way to
+the entreaties of an employer and consent to intensify the work in order
+to carry out a pressing order, this nervous work will be exacted in the
+future as a rule in the scale of wages. Therefore in all such factories
+they prefer never to produce as much as they can. In certain industries
+production is limited so as to keep up high prices, and sometimes the
+pass-word, "Go-canny," is given, which signifies, "Bad work for bad
+Wage-work is serf-work; it cannot, it must not, produce all that it
+could produce. And it is high time to disbelieve the legend which
+represents wagedom as the best incentive to productive work. If industry
+nowadays brings in a hundred times more than it did in the days of our
+grandfathers, it is due to the sudden awakening of physical and chemical
+sciences towards the end of last century; not to the capitalist
+organization of wagedom, but _in spite_ of that organization.
+Those who have seriously studied the question do not deny any of the
+advantages of Communism, on condition, be it well understood, that
+Communism be perfectly free, that is to say, Anarchist. They recognize
+that work paid with money, even disguised under the name of "labour
+cheques," to Workers' associations governed by the State, would keep up
+the characteristics of wagedom and would retain its disadvantages. They
+agree that the whole system would soon suffer from it, even if Society
+came into possession of the instruments of production. And they admit
+that, thanks to an "integral" complete education given to all children,
+to the laborious habits of civilized societies, with the liberty of
+choosing and varying their occupations and the attractions of work done
+by equals for the well-being of all, a Communist society would not be
+wanting in producers who would soon make the fertility of the soil
+triple and tenfold, and give a new impulse to industry.
+This our opponents agree to. "But the danger," they say, "will come from
+that minority of loafers who will not work, and will not have regular
+habits, in spite of the excellent conditions that would make work
+pleasant. To-day the prospect of hunger compels the most refractory to
+move along with the others. The one who does not arrive in time is
+dismissed. But one black sheep suffices to contaminate the whole flock,
+and two or three sluggish or refractory workmen would lead the others
+astray and bring a spirit of disorder and rebellion into the workshop
+that would make work impossible; so that in the end we should have to
+return to a system of compulsion that would force such ringleaders back
+into the ranks. And then,--Is not the system of wages, paid in
+proportion to work performed, the only one that enables compulsion to be
+employed, without hurting the feelings of independence of the worker?
+All other means would imply the continual intervention of an authority
+that would be repugnant to free men." This, we believe, is the objection
+To begin with, such an objection belongs to the category of arguments
+which try to justify the State, the Penal Law, the Judge, and the
+"As there are people, a feeble minority, who will not submit to social
+customs," the authoritarians say, "we must maintain magistrates,
+tribunals and prisons, although these institutions become a source of
+new evils of all kinds."
+Therefore we can only repeat what we have so often said concerning
+authority in general: "To avoid a possible evil you have recourse to
+means which in themselves are a greater evil, and become the source of
+those same abuses that you wish to remedy. For, do not forget that it is
+wagedom, the impossibility of living otherwise than by selling your
+labour, which has created the present Capitalist system, whose vices you
+begin to recognize." Besides, this way of reasoning is merely a
+sophistical justification of the evils of the present system. Wagedom
+was _not_ instituted to remove the disadvantages of Communism; its
+origin, like that of the State and private ownership, is to be found
+elsewhere. It is born of slavery and serfdom imposed by force, and only
+wears a more modern garb. Thus the argument in favour of wagedom is as
+valueless as those by which they seek to apologize for private property
+and the State.
+We are, nevertheless, going to examine the objection, and see if there
+is any truth in it.
+First of all,--Is it not evident that if a society, founded on the
+principle of free work, were really menaced by loafers, it could protect
+itself without the authoritarian organization we have nowadays, and
+without having recourse to wagedom?
+Let us take a group of volunteers, combining for some particular
+enterprise. Having its success at heart, they all work with a will, save
+one of the associates, who is frequently absent from his post. Must they
+on his account dissolve the group, elect a president to impose fines,
+and work out a code of penalties? It is evident that neither the one nor
+the other will be done, but that some day the comrade who imperils their
+enterprise will be told: "Friend, we should like to work with you; but
+as you are often absent from your post, and you do your work
+negligently, we must part. Go and find other comrades who will put up
+with your indifference!"
+This way is so natural that it is practiced everywhere, even nowadays,
+in all industries, in competition with all possible systems of fines,
+docking of wages, supervision, etc.; a workman may enter the factory at
+the appointed time, but if he does his work badly, if he hinders his
+comrades by his laziness or other defects, if he is quarrelsome, there
+is an end of it; he is compelled to leave the workshop.
+Authoritarians pretend that it is the almighty employer and his
+overseers who maintain regularity and quality of work in factories. In
+reality, in every somewhat complicated enterprise, in which the goods
+produced pass through many hands before being finished, it is the
+factory itself, the workmen as a unity, who see to the good quality of
+the work. Therefore the best factories of British private industry have
+few overseers, far less on an average than the French factories, and
+less than the British State factories.
+A certain standard of public morals is maintained in the same way.
+Authoritarians say it is due to rural guards, judges, and policemen,
+whereas in reality it is maintained _in spite_ of judges, policemen, and
+rural guards. "Many are the laws producing criminals!" was said long
+Not only in industrial workshops do things go on in this way; it happens
+everywhere, every day, on a scale that only bookworms have as yet no
+notion of. When a railway company, federated with other companies, fails
+to fulfil its engagements, when its trains are late and goods lie
+neglected at the stations, the other companies threaten to cancel the
+contract, and that threat usually suffices.
+It is generally believed, at any rate it is taught in State-approved
+schools, that commerce only keeps to its engagements from fear of
+lawsuits. Nothing of the sort; nine times in ten the trader who has not
+kept his word will not appear before a judge. There, where trade is very
+active, as in London, the sole fact of having driven a creditor to bring
+a lawsuit suffices for the immense majority of merchants to refuse for
+good to have any dealings with a man who has compelled one of them to go
+This being so, why should means that are used to-day among workers in
+the workshop, traders in the trade, and railway companies in the
+organization of transport, not be made use of in a society based on
+Take, for example, an association stipulating that each of its members
+should carry out the following contract: "We undertake to give you the
+use of our houses, stores, streets, means of transport, schools,
+museums, etc., on condition that, from twenty to forty-five or fifty
+years of age, you consecrate four or five hours a day to some work
+recognized as necessary to existence. Choose yourself the producing
+groups which you wish to join, or organize a new group, provided that it
+will undertake to produce necessaries. And as for the remainder of your
+time, combine together with whomsoever you like, for recreation, art, or
+science, according to the bent of your taste.
+"Twelve or fifteen hundred hours of work a year, in one of the groups
+producing food, clothes, or houses, or employed in public sanitation,
+transport, and so on, is all we ask of you. For this amount of work we
+guarantee to you the free use of all that these groups produce, or will
+produce. But if not one, of the thousands of groups of our federation,
+will receive you, whatever be their motive; if you are absolutely
+incapable of producing anything useful, or if you refuse to do it, then
+live like an isolated man or like an invalid. If we are rich enough to
+give you the necessaries of life we shall be delighted to give them to
+you. You are a man, and you have the right to live. But as you wish to
+live under special conditions, and leave the ranks, it is more than
+probable that you will suffer for it in your daily relations with other
+citizens. You will be looked upon as a ghost of bourgeois society,
+unless some friends of yours, discovering you to be a talent, kindly
+free you from all moral obligation towards society by doing all the
+necessary work for you.
+"And finally, if it does not please you, go and look for other
+conditions elsewhere in the wide world, or else seek adherents and
+organize with them on novel principles. We prefer our own."
+This is what could be done in a communal society in order to turn away
+sluggards if they became too numerous.
+We very much doubt that we need fear this contingency in a society
+really based on the entire freedom of the individual.
+In fact, in spite of the premium on idleness offered by the private
+ownership of capital, the really lazy man is comparatively rare, unless
+his laziness be due to illness.
+Among workmen it is often said that the bourgeois are idlers. There are
+certainly enough of them, but they, too, are the exception. On the
+contrary, in every industrial enterprise, you are sure to find one or
+more bourgeois who work very hard. It is true that the majority of
+bourgeois profit by their privileged position to award themselves the
+least unpleasant tasks, and that they work under hygienic conditions of
+air, food, etc., which permits them to do their business without too
+much fatigue. But these are precisely the conditions which we claim for
+all workers, without exception.
+It must also be said that if, thanks to their privileged position, rich
+people often perform absolutely useless or even harmful work in society,
+nevertheless the Ministers, Heads of Departments, factory owners,
+traders, bankers, etc., subject themselves for a number of hours every
+day to work which they find more or less tiresome, all preferring their
+hours of leisure to this obligatory work. And if in nine cases out of
+ten this work is a harmful work, they find it none the less tiring for
+that. But it is precisely because the middle class put forth a great
+energy, even in doing harm (knowingly or not) and defending their
+privileged position, that they have succeeded in defeating the landed
+nobility, and that they continue to rule the masses. If they were
+idlers, they would long since have ceased to exist, and would have
+disappeared like the aristocracy. In a society that would expect only
+four or five hours a day of useful, pleasant, and hygienic work, these
+same middle-class people would perform their task perfectly well, and
+they certainly would not put up with the horrible conditions in which
+men toil nowadays without reforming them. If a Huxley spent only five
+hours in the sewers of London, rest assured that he would have found the
+means of making them as sanitary as his physiological laboratory.
+As to the laziness of the great majority of workers, only philistine
+economists and philanthropists can utter such nonsense.
+If you ask an intelligent manufacturer, he will tell you that if workmen
+only put it into their heads to be lazy, all factories would have to be
+closed, for no measure of severity, no system of spying would be of any
+use. You should have seen the terror caused in 1887 among British
+employers when a few agitators started preaching the "_go-canny_"
+theory--"Bad pay, bad work"; "Take it easy, do not overwork yourselves,
+and waste all you can."--"They demoralize the worker, they want to kill
+our industry!" cried those same people who the day before inveighed
+against the immorality of the worker and the bad quality of his work.
+But if the workers were what they are represented to be--namely, the
+idler whom the employer is supposed continually to threaten with
+dismissal from the workshop--what would the word "demoralization"
+So when we speak of possible idlers, we must well understand that it is
+a question of a small minority in society; and before legislating for
+that minority, would it not be wise to study the origin of that
+idleness? Whoever observes with an intelligent eye, sees well enough
+that the child reputed lazy at school is often the one which simply does
+not understand, because he is being badly taught. Very often, too, it is
+suffering from cerebral anæmia, caused by poverty and an anti-hygienic
+education. A boy who is lazy at Greek or Latin would work admirably were
+he taught science, especially if he were taught with the aid of manual
+labour. A girl who is stupid at mathematics becomes the first
+mathematician of her class if she by chance meets somebody who can
+explain to her the elements of arithmetic which she did not understand.
+And a workman, lazy in the workshop, cultivates his garden at dawn,
+while gazing at the rising sun, and will be at work again at nightfall,
+when all nature goes to its rest.
+Somebody has said that dust is matter in the wrong place. The same
+definition applies to nine-tenths of those called lazy. They are people
+gone astray in a direction that does not answer to their temperament nor
+to their capacities. In reading the biography of great men, we are
+struck with the number of "idlers" among them. They were lazy so long as
+they had not found the right path; afterwards they became laborious to
+excess. Darwin, Stephenson, and many others belonged to this category of
+Very often the idler is but a man to whom it is repugnant to spend all
+his life making the eighteenth part of a pin, or the hundredth part of a
+watch, while he feels he has exuberant energy which he would like to
+expend elsewhere. Often, too, he is a rebel who cannot submit to being
+fixed all his life to a work-bench in order to procure a thousand
+pleasures for his employer, while knowing himself to be far the less
+stupid of the two, and knowing his only fault to be that of having been
+born in a hovel instead of coming into the world in a castle.
+Lastly, an immense number of "idlers" are idlers because they do not
+know well enough the trade by which they are compelled to earn their
+living. Seeing the imperfect thing they make with their own hands,
+striving vainly to do better, and perceiving that they never will
+succeed on account of the bad habits of work already acquired, they
+begin to hate their trade, and, not knowing any other, hate work in
+general. Thousands of workmen and artists who are failures suffer from
+On the other hand, he who since his youth has learned to play the piano
+_well_, to handle the plane _well_, the chisel, the brush, or the file,
+so that he feels that what he does is _beautiful_, will never give up
+the piano, the chisel, or the file. He will find pleasure in his work
+which does not tire him, so long as he is not overdriven.
+Under the one name, _idleness_, a series of results due to different
+causes have been grouped, of which each one could be a source of good,
+instead of being a source of evil to society. Like all questions
+concerning criminality and related to human faculties, facts have been
+collected having nothing in common with one another. People speak of
+laziness or crime, without giving themselves the trouble to analyze the
+cause. They are in a hurry to punish these faults without inquiring if
+the punishment itself does not contain a premium on "laziness" or
+This is why a free society, if it saw the number of idlers increasing in
+its midst, would no doubt think of looking first for the _cause_ of
+laziness, in order to suppress it, before having recourse to punishment.
+When it is a case, as we have already mentioned, of simple
+bloodlessness, then before stuffing the brain of a child with science,
+nourish his system so as to produce blood, strengthen him, and, that he
+shall not waste his time, take him to the country or to the seaside;
+there, teach him in the open air, not in books--geometry, by measuring
+the distance to a spire, or the height of a tree; natural sciences,
+while picking flowers and fishing in the sea; physical science, while
+building the boat he will go to fish in. But for mercy's sake do not
+fill his brain with classical sentences and dead languages. Do not make
+an idler of him!...
+Or, here is a child which has neither order nor regular habits. Let the
+children first inculcate order among themselves, and later on, the
+laboratory, the workshop, the work that will have to be done in a
+limited space, with many tools about, under the guidance of an
+intelligent teacher, will teach them method. But do not make disorderly
+beings out of them by your school, whose only order is the symmetry of
+its benches, and which--true image of the chaos in its teachings--will
+never inspire anybody with the love of harmony, of consistency, and
+method in work.
+Do not you see that by your methods of teaching, framed by a Ministry
+for eight million scholars, who represent eight million different
+capacities, you only impose a system good for mediocrities, conceived by
+an average of mediocrities? Your school becomes a University of
+laziness, as your prison is a University of crime. Make the school free,
+abolish your University grades, appeal to the volunteers of teaching;
+begin that way, instead of making laws against laziness which only serve
+to increase it.
+Give the workman who cannot condemn himself to make all his life a
+minute particle of some object, who is stifled at his little tapping
+machine, which he ends by loathing, give him the chance of tilling the
+soil, of felling trees in the forest, sailing the seas in the teeth of a
+storm, dashing through space on an engine, but do not make an idler of
+him by forcing him all his life to attend to a small machine, to plough
+the head of a screw, or to drill the eye of a needle.
+Suppress the cause of idleness, and you may take it for granted that few
+individuals will really hate work, especially voluntary work, and that
+there will be no need to manufacture a code of laws on their account.
+ _Kropotkin: In Russian and French Prisons._ London, 1887.
+## CHAPTER XIII - THE COLLECTIVIST WAGES SYSTEM
+In their plans for the reconstruction of society the collectivists
+commit, in our opinion, a twofold error. While speaking of abolishing
+capitalist rule, they intend nevertheless to retain two institutions
+which are the very basis of this rule--Representative Government and the
+As regards so-called representative government, we have often spoken
+about it. It is absolutely incomprehensible to us that intelligent
+men--and such are not wanting in the collectivist party--can remain
+partisans of national or municipal parliaments after all the lessons
+history has given them--in France, in England, in Germany, or in the
+While we see parliamentary rule breaking up, and from all sides
+criticism of this rule growing louder--not only of its results, but also
+of _its principles_--how is it that the revolutionary socialists defend
+a system already condemned to die?
+Built up by the middle classes to hold their own against royalty,
+sanctioning, and, at the same time strengthening, their sway over the
+workers, parliamentary rule is pre-eminently a middle-class rule. The
+upholders of this system have never seriously maintained that a
+parliament or a municipal council represent a nation or a city. The most
+intelligent among them know that this is impossible. The middle classes
+have simply used the parliamentary system to raise a protecting barrier
+against the pretensions of royalty, without giving the people liberty.
+But gradually, as the people become conscious of their real interests,
+and the variety of their interests is growing, the system can no longer
+work. Therefore democrats of all countries vainly imagine various
+palliatives. The _Referendum_ is tried and found to be a failure;
+proportional representation is spoken of, the representation of
+minorities, and other parliamentary Utopias. In a word, they strive to
+find what is not to be found, and after each new experiment they are
+bound to recognize that it was a failure; so that confidence in
+Representative Government vanishes more and more.
+It is the same with the Wages' system; because, once the abolition of
+private property is proclaimed, and the possession in common of all
+means of production is introduced,--how can the wages' system be
+maintained in any form? This is, nevertheless, what collectivists are
+doing when they recommend the use of the _labour-cheques_ as a mode of
+remuneration for labour accomplished for the great Collectivist
+It is easy to understand why the early English socialists, since the
+time of Robert Owen, came to the system of labour-cheques. They simply
+tried to make Capital and Labour agree. They repudiated the idea of
+laying hands on capitalist property by means of revolutionary measures.
+It is also easy to understand why Proudhon took up later on the same
+idea. In his Mutualist system he tried to make Capital less offensive,
+notwithstanding the retaining of private property, which he detested
+from the bottom of his heart, but which he believed to be necessary to
+guarantee individuals against the State.
+Neither is it astonishing that certain economists, more or less
+bourgeois, admit labour-cheques. They care little whether the worker is
+paid in labour-notes or in coin stamped with the effigy of the Republic
+or the Empire. They only care to save from destruction the individual
+ownership of dwelling-houses, of land, of factories; in any case--that,
+at least, of dwelling-houses and the capital that is necessary for
+manufacturing. And labour-notes would just answer the purpose of
+upholding this private property.
+As long as labour-notes can be exchanged for jewels or carriages, the
+owner of the house will willingly accept them for rent. And as long as
+dwelling houses, fields, and factories belong to isolated owners, men
+will have to pay these owners, in one way or another, for being allowed
+to work in the fields or factories, or for living in the houses. The
+owners will agree to be paid by the workers in gold, in paper-money, or
+in cheques exchangeable for all sorts of commodities, once that toll
+upon labour is maintained, and the right to levy it is left with them.
+But how can we defend labour-notes, this new form of wagedom, when we
+admit that the houses, the fields, and the factories will no longer be
+private property,--that they will belong to the commune or the nation?
+Let us closely examine this system of remuneration for work done,
+preached by the French, German, English, and Italian collectivists (the
+Spanish anarchists, who still call themselves collectivists, imply by
+Collectivism the possession in common of all instruments of production,
+and the "liberty of each group to divide the produce, as they think fit,
+according to communist or any other principles").
+It amounts to this: Everybody works in field, factory, school, hospital,
+etc. The working-day is fixed by the State, which owns the land, the
+factories, the roads, etc. Every work-day is paid for with a
+_labour-note_, which is inscribed with these words: _Eight hours' work_.
+With this cheque the worker can procure all sorts of merchandise in the
+stores owned by the State or by divers corporations. The cheque is
+divisible, so that you can buy an hour's-work worth of meat, ten
+minutes' worth of matches, or half an hour of tobacco. After the
+Collectivist Revolution, instead of saying "twopence worth of soap," we
+shall say "five minutes' worth of soap."
+Most collectivists, true to the distinction laid down by middle-class
+economists (and by Marx as well) between _qualified_ work and _simple_
+work, tell us, moreover, that _qualified_ or professional work must be
+paid a certain quantity more than _simple_ work. Thus one hour's work of
+a doctor will have to be considered as equivalent to two or three hours'
+work of a hospital nurse, or to three or five hours' work of a navvy.
+"Professional, or qualified work, will be a multiple of simple work,"
+says the collectivist Grönlund, "because this kind of work needs a more
+or less long apprenticeship."
+Some other collectivists, such as the French Marxist, Guesde, do not
+make this distinction. They proclaim the "Equality of Wages." The
+doctor, the schoolmaster, and the professor will be paid (in
+labour-cheques) at the same rate as the navvy. Eight hours visiting the
+sick in a hospital will be worth the same as eight hours spent in
+earthworks or else in mines or factories.
+Some make a greater concession; they admit that disagreeable or
+unhealthy work--such as sewerage--could be paid for at a higher rate
+than agreeable work. One hour's work of a sewerman would be worth, they
+say, two hours of a professor's work.
+Let us add that certain collectivists admit of corporations being paid a
+lump sum for work done. Thus a corporation would say: "Here are a
+hundred tons of steel. A hundred workmen were required to produce them,
+and it took them ten days. Their work-day being an eight-hours day, it
+has taken them eight thousand working hours to produce a hundred tons of
+steel--eight hours a ton." For this the State would pay them eight
+thousand labour-notes of one hour each, and these eight thousand cheques
+would be divided among the members of the iron-works as they themselves
+On the other hand, a hundred miners having taken twenty days to extract
+eight thousand tons of coal, coal would be worth two hours a ton, and
+the sixteen thousand cheques of one hour each, received by the Guild of
+Miners, would be divided among their members according to their own
+If the miners protested and said that a ton of steel should only cost
+six hours' work instead of eight; if the professor wished to have his
+day paid four times more than the nurse, then the State would interfere
+and would settle their differences.
+Such is, in a few words, the organization the collectivists wish to see
+arise out of the Social Revolution. As we see, their principles are:
+Collective property of the instruments of production, and remuneration
+to each according to the time spent in producing, while taking into
+account the productivity of his labour. As to the political system, it
+would be the Parliamentary system, modified by _positive instructions_
+given to those elected, and by the _Referendum_--a vote, taken by _noes_
+or _ayes_ by the nation.
+Let us own that this system appears to us simply unrealizable.
+Collectivists begin by proclaiming a revolutionary principle--the
+abolition of private property--and then they deny it, no sooner than
+proclaimed, by upholding an organization of production and consumption
+which originated in private property.
+They proclaim a revolutionary principle, and ignore the consequences
+that this principle will inevitably bring about. They forget that the
+very fact of abolishing individual property in the instruments of
+work--land, factories, road, capital--must launch society into
+absolutely new channels; must completely overthrow the present system of
+production, both in its aim as well as in its means; must modify daily
+relations between individuals, as soon as land, machinery, and all other
+instruments of production are considered common property.
+They say, "No private property," and immediately after strive to
+maintain private property in its daily manifestations. "You shall be a
+Commune as far as regards production: fields, tools, machinery, all that
+has been invented up till now--factories, railways, harbours, mines,
+etc., all are yours. Not the slightest distinction will be made
+concerning the share of each in this collective property.
+"But from to-morrow you will minutely debate the share you are going to
+take in the creation of new machinery, in the digging of new mines. You
+will carefully weigh what part of the new produce belongs to you. You
+will count your minutes of work, and you will take care that a minute of
+your neighbours should not buy more than yours.
+"And as an hour measures nothing, as in some factories a worker can see
+to six power-looms at a time, while in another he only tends two, you
+will weigh the muscular force, the brain energy, and the nervous energy
+you have expended. You will accurately calculate the years of
+apprenticeship in order to appraise the amount each will contribute to
+future production. And this--after having declared that you do not take
+into account his share in _past_ production."
+Well, for us it is evident that a society cannot be based on two
+absolutely opposed principles, two principles that contradict one
+another continually. And a nation or a commune which would have such an
+organization would be compelled to revert to private property in the
+instruments of production, or to transform itself into a communist
+We have said that certain collectivist writers desire that a distinction
+should be made between _qualified_ or professional work and _simple_
+work. They pretend that an hour's work of an engineer, an architect, or
+a doctor, must be considered as two or three hours' work of a
+blacksmith, a mason, or a hospital nurse. And the same distinction must
+be made between all sorts of trades necessitating apprenticeship, and
+the simple toil of day labourers.
+Well, to establish this distinction would be to maintain all the
+inequalities of present society. It would mean fixing a dividing line,
+from the beginning, between the workers and those who pretend to govern
+them. It would mean dividing society into two very distinct classes--the
+aristocracy of knowledge placed above the horny-handed lower orders--the
+one doomed to serve the other; the one working with its hands to feed
+and clothe those who, profiting by their leisure, study how to govern
+It would mean reviving one of the distinct peculiarities of present
+society and giving it the sanction of the Social Revolution. It would
+mean setting up as a principle an abuse already condemned in our ancient
+We know the answer we shall get. They will speak of "Scientific
+Socialism"; they will quote bourgeois economists, and Marx too, to prove
+that a scale of wages has its raison d'être, as "the labour force" of
+the engineer will have cost more to society than the "labour-force" of
+the navvy. In fact--have not economists tried to prove to us that if an
+engineer is paid twenty times more than a navvy it is _because_ the
+"necessary" outlay to make an engineer is greater than that necessary to
+make a navvy? And has not Marx asserted that the same distinction is
+equally logical between two branches of manual labour? He could not
+conclude otherwise, having taken up on his own account Ricardo's theory
+of value, and upheld that goods _are_ exchanged in proportion to the
+quantity of work socially necessary for their production.
+But we know what to think of this. We know that if engineers,
+scientists, or doctors are paid ten or a hundred times more than a
+labourer, and if a weaver earns three times more than an agricultural
+labourer, and ten times more than a girl in a match factory, it is not
+by reason of their "cost of production," but by reason of a monopoly of
+education, or a monopoly of industry. Engineers, scientists, and doctors
+merely exploit their capital--their diplomas--as middle-class employers
+exploit a factory, or as nobles used to exploit their titles of
+As to the employer who pays an engineer twenty times more than a
+labourer, it is simply due to personal interest; if the engineer can
+economize £4,000 a year on the cost of production, the employer pays him
+£800. And if the employer has a foreman who saves £400 on the work by
+cleverly sweating workmen, he gladly gives him £80 or £120 a year. He
+parts with an extra £40 when he expects to gain £400 by it; and this is
+the essence of the Capitalist system. The same differences obtain among
+different manual trades.
+Let them, therefore, not talk to us of "the cost of production" which
+raises the cost of skilled labour, and tell us that a student who has
+gaily spent his youth in a university has a _right_ to a wage ten times
+greater than the son of a miner who has grown pale in a mine since the
+age of eleven; or that a weaver has a _right_ to a wage three or four
+times greater than that of an agricultural labourer. The cost of
+teaching a weaver his work is not four times greater than the cost of
+teaching a peasant his. The weaver simply benefits by the advantages his
+industry reaps in international trade, from countries that have as yet
+no industries, and in consequence of the privileges accorded by all
+States to industries in preference to the tilling of the soil.
+Nobody has ever calculated the _cost of production_ of a producer; and
+if a noble loafer costs far more to society than a worker, it remains to
+be seen whether a robust day-labourer does not cost more to society than
+a skilled artisan, when we have taken into account infant-mortality
+among the poor, the ravages of anæmia, and premature deaths.
+Could they, for example, make us believe that the 1s. 3d. paid to a
+Paris workwoman, the 3d. paid to an Auvergne peasant girl who grows
+blind at lace-making, or the 1s. 8d. paid to the peasant represent their
+"cost of production." We know full well that people work for less, but
+we also know that they do so exclusively because, thanks to our
+wonderful organization, they would die of hunger did they not accept
+these mock wages.
+For us the scale of remuneration is a complex result of taxes, of
+governmental tutelage, of Capitalist monopoly. In a word, of State and
+Capital. Therefore, we say that all wages' theories have been invented
+after the event to justify injustices at present existing, and that we
+need not take them into consideration.
+Neither will they fail to tell us that the Collectivist scale of wages
+would be an improvement. "It would be better," so they say, "to see
+certain artisans receiving a wage two or three times higher than common
+labourers, than to see a minister receiving in a day what a workman
+cannot earn in a year. It would be a great step towards equality."
+For us this step would be the reverse of progress. To make a distinction
+between simple and professional work in a new society would result in
+the Revolution sanctioning and recognizing as a principle a brutal fact
+we submit to nowadays, but that we nevertheless find unjust. It would
+mean imitating those gentlemen of the French Assembly who proclaimed on
+August 4th, 1789, the abolition of feudal rights, but who on August 8th
+sanctioned these same rights by imposing dues on the peasants to
+compensate the noblemen, placing these dues under the protection of the
+Revolution. It would mean imitating the Russian Government, which
+proclaimed, at the time of the emancipation of the serfs, that certain
+lands should henceforth belong to the nobility, while formerly these
+lands were considered as belonging to the serfs.
+Or else, to take a better known example, when the Commune of 1871
+decided to pay members of the Commune Council 12s. 6d. a day, while the
+Federates on the ramparts received only 1s. 3d., this decision was
+hailed as an act of superior democratic equality. In reality, the
+Commune only ratified the former inequality between functionary and
+soldier, Government and governed. Coming from an Opportunist Chamber of
+Deputies, such a decision would have appeared admirable, but the Commune
+doomed her own revolutionary principles when she failed to put them into
+Under our existing social system, when a minister gets paid £4,000 a
+year, while a workman must content himself with £40 or less; when a
+foreman is paid two or three times more than a workman, and among
+workmen there is every gradation, from 8s. a day down to the peasant
+girl's 3d., we disapprove of the high salary of the minister as well as
+of the difference between the 8s. of the workman and the 3d. of the poor
+woman. And we say, '"Down with the privileges of education, as well as
+with those of birth!" We are anarchists precisely because these
+privileges revolt us.
+They revolt us already in this authoritarian society. Could we endure
+them in a society that began by proclaiming equality?
+This is why some collectivists, understanding the impossibility of
+maintaining a scale of wages in a society inspired by the breath of the
+Revolution, hasten to proclaim equality of wage. But they meet with new
+difficulties, and their equality of wages becomes the same unrealizable
+Utopia as the scale of wages of other collectivists.
+A society having taken possession of all social wealth, having boldly
+proclaimed the right of all to this wealth--whatever share they may have
+taken in producing it--will be compelled to abandon any system of wages,
+whether in currency or labour-notes.
+The collectivists say, "To each according to his deeds"; or, in other
+terms, according to his share of services rendered to society. They
+think it expedient to put this principle into practice, as soon as the
+Social Revolution will have made all instruments of production common
+property. But we think that if the Social Revolution had the misfortune
+of proclaiming such a principle, it would mean its necessary failure; it
+would mean leaving the social problem, which past centuries have
+burdened us with, unsolved.
+Of course, in a society like ours, in which the more a man works the
+less he is remunerated, this principle, at first sight, may appear to be
+a yearning for justice. But in reality it is only the perpetuation of
+injustice. It was by proclaiming this principle that wagedom began, to
+end in the glaring inequalities and all the abominations of present
+society; because, from the moment work done began to be appraised in
+currency, or in any other form of wage, the day it was agreed upon that
+man would only receive the wage he should be able to secure to himself,
+the whole history of a State-aided Capitalist Society was as good as
+written; it was contained in germ in this principle.
+Shall we, then, return to our starting-point, and go through the same
+evolution again? Our theorists desire it, but fortunately it is
+impossible. The Revolution, we maintain, must be communist; if not, it
+will be drowned in blood, and have to be begun over again.
+Services rendered to society, be they work in factory or field, or
+mental services, _cannot be_ valued in money. There can be no exact
+measure of value (of what has been wrongly termed exchange value), nor
+of use value, in terms of production. If two individuals work for the
+community five hours a day, year in year out, at different work which is
+equally agreeable to them, we may say that on the whole their labour is
+approximately equivalent. But we cannot divide their work, and say that
+the result of any particular day, hour, or minute of work of the one is
+worth the result of one day, one hour, or one minute of the other.
+We may roughly say that the man, who during his lifetime has deprived
+himself of leisure during ten hours a day has given far more to society
+than the one who has only deprived himself of leisure during five hours
+a day, or who has not deprived himself at all. But we cannot take what
+he has done during two hours, and say that the yield of his two hours'
+work is worth twice as much as the yield of another individual, who has
+worked only one hour, and remunerate the two in proportion. It would be
+disregarding all that is complex in industry, in agriculture, in the
+whole life of present society; it would be ignoring to what extent all
+individual work is the result of the past and the present labour of
+society as a whole. It would mean believing ourselves to be living in
+the Stone Age, whereas we are living in an age of steel.
+If you enter a modern coal-mine you will see a man in charge of a huge
+machine that raises and lowers a cage. In his hand he holds a lever that
+stops and reverses the course of the machine; he lowers it and the cage
+reverses its course in the twinkling of an eye; he sends it upwards or
+downwards into the depths of the shaft with a giddy swiftness. All
+attention, he follows with his eyes fixed on an indicator which shows
+him, on a small scale, at which point of the shaft the cage is at each
+second of its progress; and as soon as the indicator has reached a
+certain level, he suddenly stops the course of the cage, not a yard
+higher nor lower than the required spot. And no sooner have the colliers
+unloaded their coal-wagonettes, and pushed empty ones instead, than he
+reverses the lever and again sends the cage back into space.
+During eight or ten consecutive hours every day he must keep the same
+strain of attention. Should his brain relax for a moment, the cage would
+inevitably strike against the gear, break its wheels, snap the rope,
+crush men, and put a stop to all work in the mine. Should he waste three
+seconds at each touch of the lever,--the extraction, in our modern,
+perfected mines, would be reduced from twenty to fifty tons a day.
+Is it he who is the most necessary man in the mine? Or, is it perhaps
+the boy who signals to him from below to raise the cage? Is it the miner
+at the bottom of the shaft, who risks his life every instant, and who
+will some day be killed by fire-damp? Or is it the engineer, who would
+lose the layer of coal, and would cause the miners to dig on rock by a
+simple mistake in his calculations? Or is it the mine owner who has put
+his capital into the mine, and who has perhaps, contrary to expert
+advice, asserted that excellent coal would be found there?
+All those who are engaged in the mine contribute to the extraction of
+coal in proportion to their strength, their energy, their knowledge,
+their intelligence, and their skill. And we may say that all have the
+right to _live_, to satisfy their needs, and even their whims, when the
+necessaries of life have been secured for all. But how can we appraise
+the work of each one of them?
+And, moreover, Is the coal they have extracted entirely _their_ work?
+Is it not also the work of the men who have built the railway leading to
+the mine and the roads that radiate from all the railway stations? Is it
+not also the work of those that have tilled and sown the fields,
+extracted iron, cut wood in the forests, built the machines that burn
+coal, slowly developed the mining industry altogether, and so on?
+It is utterly impossible to draw a distinction between the work of each
+of those men. To measure the work by its results leads us to an
+absurdity; to divide the total work, and to measure its fractions by the
+number of hours spent on the work also leads us to absurdity. One thing
+remains: to put the _needs_ above the _works_, and first of all to
+recognize _the right to live_, and later on _the right to well-being_
+for all those who took their share in production.
+But take any other branch of human activity--take the manifestations of
+life as a whole. Which one of us can claim the higher remuneration for
+his work? Is it the doctor who has found out the illness, or the nurse
+who has brought about recovery by her hygienic care? Is it the inventor
+of the first steam-engine, or the boy, who, one day getting tired of
+pulling the rope that formerly opened the valve to let steam under the
+piston, tied the rope to the lever of the machine, without suspecting
+that he had invented the essential mechanical part of all modern
+machinery--the automatic valve?
+Is it the inventor of the locomotive, or the workman of Newcastle, who
+suggested replacing the stones formerly laid under the rails by wooden
+sleepers, as the stones, for want of elasticity, caused the trains to
+derail? Is it the engineer on the locomotive? The signalman who stops
+the trains, or lets them pass by? The switchman who transfers a train
+from one line to another?
+Again, to whom do we owe the transatlantic cable? Is it to the
+electrical engineer who obstinately affirmed that the cable would
+transmit messages while learned men of science declared it to be
+impossible? Is it to Maury, the learned physical geographer, who advised
+that thick cables should be set aside for others as thin as a walking
+cane? Or else to those volunteers, come from nobody knows where, who
+spent their days and nights on deck minutely examining every yard of the
+cable, and removed the nails that the shareholders of steamship
+companies stupidly caused to be driven into the non-conducting wrapper
+of the cable, so as to make it unserviceable?
+And in a wider sphere, the true sphere of life, with its joys, its
+sufferings, and its accidents, cannot each one of us recall someone who
+has rendered him so great a service that we should be indignant if its
+equivalent in coin were mentioned? The service may have been but a word,
+nothing but a word spoken at the right time, or else it may have been
+months and years of devotion, and we are going to appraise these
+"incalculable" services in "labour-notes"?
+"The works of each!" But human society would not exist for more than two
+consecutive generations if everyone did not give infinitely more than
+that for which he is paid in coin, in "cheques," or in civic rewards.
+The race would soon become extinct if mothers did not sacrifice their
+lives to take care of their children, if men did not give continually,
+without demanding an equivalent reward, if men did not give most
+precisely when they expect no reward.
+If middle-class society is decaying, if we have got into a blind alley
+from which we cannot emerge without attacking past institutions with
+torch and hatchet, it is precisely because we have given too much to
+counting. It is because we have let ourselves be influenced into
+_giving_ only to _receive._ It is because we have aimed at turning
+society into a commercial company based on _debit_ and _credit_.
+After all, the Collectivists know this themselves. They vaguely
+understand that a society could not exist if it carried out the
+principle of "Each according to his deeds." They have a notion that
+_necessaries_--we do not speak of whims--the needs of the individual, do
+not always correspond to his _works_. Thus De Paepe tells us: "The
+principle--the eminently Individualist principle--would, however, be
+_tempered_ by social intervention for the education of children and
+young persons (including maintenance and lodging), and by the social
+organization for assisting the infirm and the sick, for retreats for
+aged workers, etc." They understand that a man of forty, father of three
+children, has other needs than a young man of twenty. They know that the
+woman who suckles her infant and spends sleepless nights at its bedside,
+cannot do as much _work_ as the man who has slept peacefully. They seem
+to take in that men and women, worn out maybe by dint of overwork for
+society, may be incapable of doing as much _work_ as those who have
+spent their time leisurely and pocketed their "labour-notes" in the
+privileged career of State functionaries.
+They are eager to temper their principle. They say: "Society will not
+fail to maintain and bring up its children; to help both aged and
+infirm. Without doubt _needs_ will be the measure of the cost that
+society will burden itself with, to temper the principle of deeds."
+Charity, charity, always Christian charity, organized by the State this
+time. They believe in improving the asylums for foundlings, in effecting
+old-age and sick insurances--so as to _temper_ their principle. But they
+cannot yet throw aside the idea of "wounding first and healing
+Thus, after having denied Communism, after having laughed at their ease
+at the formula--"To each according to his needs"--these great economists
+discover that they have forgotten something, the needs of the producers,
+which they now admit. Only it is for the State to estimate them, for the
+State to verify if the needs are not disproportionate to the work.
+The State will dole out charity. Thence to the English poor-law and the
+workhouse is but a step.
+There is but a slight difference, because even this stepmother of a
+society against whom we are in revolt has also been compelled to
+_temper_ her individualist principles; she, too, has had to make
+concessions in a communist direction and under the same form of charity.
+She, too, distributes halfpenny dinners to prevent the pillaging of her
+shops; builds hospitals--often very bad ones, but sometimes splendid
+ones--to prevent the ravages of contagious diseases. She, too, after
+having paid the hours of labour, shelters the children of those she has
+wrecked. She takes their needs into consideration and doles out charity.
+Poverty, we have said elsewhere, was the primary cause of wealth. It was
+poverty that created the first capitalist; because, before accumulating
+"surplus value," of which we hear so much, men had to be sufficiently
+destitute to consent to sell their labour, so as not to die of hunger.
+It was poverty that made capitalists. And if the number of the poor
+increased so rapidly during the Middle Ages, it was due to the invasions
+and wars that followed the founding of States, and to the increase of
+riches resulting from the exploitation of the East. These two causes
+tore asunder the bonds that kept men together in the agrarian and urban
+communities, and taught them to proclaim the principle of _wages_, so
+dear to the exploiters, instead of the solidarity they formerly
+practiced in their tribal life.
+And it is this principle that is to spring from a revolution which men
+dare to call by the name of Social Revolution,--a name so dear to the
+starved, the oppressed, and the sufferers!
+It can never be. For the day on which old institutions will fall under
+the proletarian axe, voices will cry out: "Bread, shelter, ease for
+all!" And those voices will be listened to; the people will say: "Let us
+begin by allaying our thirst for life, for happiness, for liberty, that
+we have never quenched. And when we shall have tasted of this joy, we
+will set to work to demolish the last vestiges of middle-class rule: its
+morality drawn from account books, its 'debit and credit' philosophy,
+its 'mine and yours' institutions. 'In demolishing we shall build,' as
+Proudhon said; and we shall build in the name of Communism and Anarchy."
+## CHAPTER XIV - CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION
+Looking at society and its political organization from a different
+standpoint than that of all the authoritarian schools--for we start from
+a free individual to reach a free society, instead of beginning by the
+State to come down to the individual--we follow the same method in
+economic questions. We study the needs of the individuals, and the means
+by which they satisfy them, before discussing Production, Exchange,
+Taxation, Government, and so on. At first sight the difference may
+appear trifling, but in reality it upsets all the canons of official
+If you open the works of any economist you will find that he begins with
+PRODUCTION, _i. e._, by the analysis of the means employed nowadays for
+the creation of wealth: division of labour, the factory, its machinery,
+the accumulation of capital. From Adam Smith to Marx, all have proceeded
+along these lines. Only in the latter parts of their books do they treat
+of CONSUMPTION, that is to say, of the means resorted to in our present
+Society to satisfy the needs of the individuals; and even there they
+confine themselves to explaining how riches _are_ divided among those
+who vie with one another for their possession.
+Perhaps you will say this is logical. Before satisfying needs you must
+create the wherewithal to satisfy them. But, before producing anything,
+must you not feel the need of it? Was it not necessity that first drove
+man to hunt, to raise cattle, to cultivate land, to make implements, and
+later on to invent machinery? Is it not the study of the needs that
+should govern production? To say the least, it would therefore be quite
+as logical to begin by considering the needs, and afterwards to discuss
+how production is, and ought to be, organized, in order to satisfy these
+This is precisely what we mean to do.
+But as soon as we look at Political Economy from this point of view, it
+entirely changes its aspect. It ceases to be a simple description of
+facts, and becomes a _science_, and we may define this science as: "_The
+study of the needs of mankind, and the means of satisfying them with the
+least possible waste of human energy_". Its true name should be,
+_Physiology of Society_. It constitutes a parallel science to the
+physiology of plants and animals, which is the study of the needs of
+plants and animals, and of the most advantageous ways of satisfying
+them. In the series of sociological sciences, the economy of human
+societies takes the place, occupied in the series of biological sciences
+by the physiology of organic bodies.
+We say, here are human beings, united in a society. All of them feel the
+need of living in healthy houses. The savage's hut no longer satisfies
+them; they require a more or less comfortable solid shelter. The
+question is, then: whether, taking the present capacity of men for
+production, every man can have a house of his own? and what is hindering
+him from having it?
+And as soon as we ask _this_ question, we see that every family in
+Europe could perfectly well have a comfortable house, such as are built
+in England, in Belgium, or in Pullman City, or else an equivalent set of
+rooms. A certain number of days' work would suffice to build a pretty
+little airy house, well fitted up and lighted by electricity.
+But nine-tenths of Europeans have never possessed a healthy house,
+because at all times common people have had to work day after day to
+satisfy the needs of their rulers, and have never had the necessary
+leisure or money to build, or to have built, the home of their dreams.
+And they can have no houses, and will inhabit hovels as long as present
+conditions remain unchanged.
+It is thus seen that our method is quite contrary to that of the
+economists, who immortalize the so-called _laws_ of production, and,
+reckoning up the number of houses built every year, demonstrate by
+statistics, that as the number of the new-built houses _is_ too small to
+meet all demands, nine-tenths of Europeans _must_ live in hovels.
+Let us pass on to food. After having enumerated the benefits accruing
+from the division of labour, economists tell us the division of labour
+requires that some men should work at agriculture and others at
+manufacture. Farmers producing so much, factories so much, exchange
+being carried on in such a way, they analyze the sale, the profit, the
+net gain or the surplus value, the wages, the taxes, banking, and so on.
+But after having followed them so far, we are none the wiser, and if we
+ask them: "How is it that millions of human beings are in want of bread,
+when every family could grow sufficient wheat to feed ten, twenty, and
+even a hundred people annually?" they answer us by droning the same
+anthem--division of labour, wages, surplus value, capital,
+etc.--arriving at the same conclusion, that production is insufficient
+to satisfy all needs; a conclusion which, if true, does not answer the
+question: "Can or cannot man by his labour produce the bread he needs?
+And if he cannot, what is it that hinders him?"
+Here are 350 million Europeans. They need so much bread, so much meat,
+wine, milk, eggs, and butter every year. They need so many houses, so
+much clothing. This is the minimum of their needs. Can they produce all
+this? and if they can, will sufficient leisure be left them for art,
+science, and amusement?--in a word, for everything that is not comprised
+in the category of absolute necessities? If the answer is in the
+affirmative,--What hinders them going ahead? What must they do to remove
+the obstacles? Is it time that is needed to achieve such a result? Let
+them take it! But let us not lose sight of the aim of production--the
+satisfaction of the needs of all.
+If the most imperious needs of man remain unsatisfied now,--What must we
+do to increase the productivity of our work? But is there no other
+cause? Might it not be that production, having lost sight of the _needs_
+of man, has strayed in an absolutely wrong direction, and that its
+organization is at fault? And as we can prove that such is the case, let
+us see how to reorganize production so as to really satisfy all needs.
+This seems to us the only right way of facing things. The only way that
+would allow of Political Economy becoming a science--the Science of
+It is evident that so long as science treats of production, as _it is_
+carried on at present by civilized nations, by Hindoo communes, or by
+savages, it can hardly state facts otherwise than the economists state
+them now; that is to say, as a simple _descriptive_ chapter, analogous
+to the descriptive chapters of Zoology and Botany. But if this chapter
+were written so as to throw some light on the economy of the energy that
+is necessary to satisfy human needs, the chapter would gain in
+precision, as well as in descriptive value. It would clearly show the
+frightful waste of human energy under the present system, and it would
+prove that as long as this system exists, the needs of humanity will
+never be satisfied.
+The point of view, we see, would be entirely changed. Behind the loom
+that weaves so many yards of cloth, behind the steel-plate perforator,
+and behind the safe in which dividends are hoarded, we should see man,
+the artisan of production, more often than not excluded from the feast
+he has prepared for others. We should also understand that the
+standpoint being wrong, the so-called "laws" of value and exchange are
+but a very false explanation of events, as they happen nowadays; and
+that things will come to pass very differently when production is
+organized in such a manner as to meet all needs of society.
+There is not one single principle of Political Economy that does not
+change its aspect if you look at it from our point of view.
+Take, for instance, over-production, a word which every day re-echoes in
+our ears. Is there a single economist, academician, or candidate for
+academical honours, who has not supported arguments, proving that
+economic crises are due to over-production--that at a given moment more
+cotton, more cloth, more watches are produced than are needed! Have we
+not, all of us, thundered against the rapacity of the capitalists who
+are obstinately bent on producing more than can possibly be consumed!
+However, on careful examination all these reasonings prove unsound. In
+fact, Is there one single commodity among those in universal use which
+is produced in greater quantity than need be. Examine one by one all
+commodities sent out by countries exporting on a large scale, and you
+will see that nearly all are produced in _insufficient_ quantities for
+the inhabitants of the countries exporting them.
+It is not a surplus of wheat that the Russian peasant sends to Europe.
+The most plentiful harvests of wheat and rye in European Russia only
+yield _enough_ for the population. And as a rule, the peasant deprives
+himself of what he actually needs when he sells his wheat or rye to pay
+rent and taxes.
+It is not a surplus of coal that England sends to the four corners of
+the globe, because only three-quarters of a ton, per head of population,
+annually, remains for home domestic consumption, and millions of
+Englishmen are deprived of fire in the winter, or have only just enough
+to boil a few vegetables. In fact, setting aside useless luxuries, there
+is in England, which exports more than any other country, one single
+commodity in universal use--cottons--whose production is sufficiently
+great to _perhaps_ exceed the needs of the community. Yet when we look
+upon the rags that pass for wearing apparel worn by over a third of the
+inhabitants of the United Kingdom, we are led to ask ourselves whether
+the cottons exported would not, on the whole, suit the _real_ needs of
+As a rule it is not a surplus that is exported, though it may have been
+so originally. The fable of the barefooted shoemaker is as true of
+nations as it was formerly of individual artisans. We export the
+_necessary_ commodities. And we do so, because the workmen cannot buy
+with their wages what they have produced, _and pay besides the rent and
+interest to the capitalist and the banker_.
+Not only does the ever-growing need of comfort remain unsatisfied, but
+the strict necessities of life are often wanting. Therefore, "surplus
+production" does _not_ exist, at least not in the sense given to it by
+the theorists of Political Economy.
+Taking another point--all economists tell us that there is a well-proved
+law: "Man produces more than he consumes." After he has lived on the
+proceeds of his toil, there remains a surplus. Thus, a family of
+cultivators produces enough to feed several families, and so forth.
+For us, this oft-repeated sentence has no sense. If it meant that each
+generation leaves something to future generations, it would be true;
+thus, for example, a farmer plants a tree that will live, maybe, for
+thirty, forty, or a hundred years, and whose fruits will still be
+gathered by the farmer's grandchildren. Or he clears a few acres of
+virgin soil, and we say that the heritage of future generations has been
+increased by that much. Roads, bridges, canals, his house and his
+furniture are so much wealth bequeathed to succeeding generations.
+But this is not what is meant. We are told that the cultivator produces
+more than he _need_ consume. Rather should they say that, the State
+having always taken from him a large share of his produce for taxes, the
+priest for tithe, and the landlord for rent, a whole class of men has
+been created, who formerly consumed what they produced--save what was
+set aside for unforeseen accidents, or expenses incurred in
+afforestation, roads, etc.--but who to-day are compelled to live very
+poorly, from hand to mouth, the remainder having been taken from them by
+the State, the landlord, the priest, and the usurer.
+Therefore we prefer to say: The agricultural labourer, the industrial
+worker and so on _consume less than they produce_,--because they are
+_compelled_ to sell most of the produce of their labour and to be
+satisfied with but a small portion of it.
+Let us also observe that if the needs of the individual are taken as the
+starting-point of our political economy, we cannot fail to reach
+Communism, an organization which enables us to satisfy all needs in the
+most thorough and economical way. While if we start from our present
+method of production, and aim at gain and surplus value, without asking
+whether our production corresponds to the satisfaction of needs, we
+necessarily arrive at Capitalism, or at most at Collectivism--both being
+but two different forms of the present wages' system.
+In fact, when we consider the needs of the individual and of society,
+and the means which man has resorted to in order to satisfy them during
+his varied phases of development, we see at once the necessity of
+systematizing our efforts, instead of producing haphazard as we do
+nowadays. It becomes evident that the appropriation by a few of all
+riches not consumed, and transmitted from one generation to another, is
+not in the general interest. And we see as a fact that owing to these
+methods the needs of three-quarters of society are _not_ satisfied, so
+that the present waste of human strength in useless things is only the
+We discover, moreover, that the most advantageous use of all commodities
+would be, for each of them, to go, first, for satisfying those needs
+which are the most pressing: that, in other words, the so-called "value
+in use" of a commodity does not depend on a simple whim, as has often
+been affirmed, but on the satisfaction it brings to _real_ needs.
+Communism--that is to say, an organization which would correspond to a
+view of Consumption, Production, and Exchange, taken as a
+whole--therefore becomes the logical consequence of such a comprehension
+of things--the only one, in our opinion, that is really scientific.
+A society that will satisfy the needs of all, and which will know how to
+organize production to answer to this aim will also have to make a clean
+sweep of several prejudices concerning industry, and first of all the
+theory often preached by economists--_The Division of Labour_
+theory--which we are going to discuss in the next chapter.
+## CHAPTER XV - THE DIVISION OF LABOUR
+Political Economy has always confined itself to stating facts occurring
+in society, and justifying them in the interest of the dominant class.
+Therefore, it pronounces itself in favour of the division of labour in
+industry. Having found it profitable to capitalists, it has set it up as
+Look at the village smith, said Adam Smith, the father of modern
+Political Economy. If he has never been accustomed to making nails he
+will only succeed by hard toil in forging two or three hundred a day,
+and even then they will be bad. But if this same smith has never made
+anything but nails, he will easily supply as many as two thousand three
+hundred in the course of a day. And Smith hastened to the
+conclusion--"Divide labour, specialize, go on specializing; let us have
+smiths who only know how to make heads or points of nails, and by this
+means we shall produce more. We shall grow rich."
+That a smith condemned for life to make the heads of nails would lose
+all interest in his work, that he would be entirely at the mercy of his
+employer with his limited handicraft, that he would be out of work four
+months out of twelve, and that his wages would fall very low down, when
+it would be easy to replace him by an apprentice, Smith did not think of
+all this when he exclaimed--"Long live the division of labour. This is
+the real gold-mine that will enrich the nation!" And all joined him in
+And later on, when a Sismondi or a J. B. Say began to understand that
+the division of labour, instead of enriching the whole nation, only
+enriches the rich, and that the worker, who is doomed for life to making
+the eighteenth part of a pin, grows stupid and sinks into poverty--what
+did official economists propose? Nothing! They did not say to themselves
+that by a lifelong grind at one and the same mechanical toil the worker
+would lose his intelligence and his spirit of invention, and that, on
+the contrary, a variety of occupations would result in considerably
+augmenting the productivity of a nation. But this is the very issue we
+have now to consider.
+If, however, learned economists were the only ones to preach the
+permanent and often hereditary division of labour, we might allow them
+to preach it as much as they pleased. But the ideas taught by doctors of
+science filter into men's minds and pervert them; and from repeatedly
+hearing the division of labour, profits, interest, credit, etc., spoken
+of as problems long since solved, all middle-class people, and workers
+too, end by arguing like economists; they venerate the same fetishes.
+Thus we see most socialists, even those who have not feared to point out
+the mistakes of economical science, justifying the division of labour.
+Talk to them about the organization of work during the Revolution, and
+they answer that the division of labour must be maintained; that if you
+sharpened pins before the Revolution you must go on sharpening them
+after. True, you will not have to work more than five hours a day, but
+you will have to sharpen pins all your life, while others will make
+designs for machines that will enable you to sharpen hundreds of
+millions of pins during your life-time; and others again will be
+specialists in the higher branches of literature, science, and art, etc.
+You were born to sharpen pins while Pasteur was born to invent the
+inoculation against anthrax, and the Revolution will leave you both to
+your respective employments. Well, it is this horrible principle, so
+noxious to society, so brutalizing to the individual, source of so much
+harm, that we propose to discuss in its divers manifestations.
+We know the consequences of the division of labour full well. It is
+evident that, first of all, we are divided into two classes: on the one
+hand, producers, who consume very little and are exempt from thinking
+because they only do physical work, and who work badly because their
+brains remain inactive; and on the other hand, the consumers, who,
+producing little or hardly anything, have the privilege of thinking for
+the others, and who think badly because the whole world of those who
+toil with their hands is unknown to them. Then, we have the labourers of
+the soil who know nothing of machinery, while those who work at
+machinery ignore everything about agriculture. The idea of modern
+industry is a child _tending_ a machine that he cannot and must not
+understand, and a foreman who fines him if his attention flags for a
+moment. The ideal of industrial agriculture is to do away with the
+agricultural labourer altogether and to set a man who does odd jobs to
+tend a steam-plough or a threshing-machine. The division of labour means
+labelling and stamping men for life--some to splice ropes in factories,
+some to be foremen in a business, others to shove huge coal-baskets in a
+particular part of a mine; but none of them to have any idea of
+machinery as a whole, nor of business, nor of mines. And thereby they
+destroy the love of work and the capacity for invention that, at the
+beginning of modern industry, created the machinery on which we pride
+ourselves so much.
+What they have done for individuals, they also wanted to do for nations.
+Humanity was to be divided into national workshops, having each its
+speciality. Russia, we were taught, was destined by nature to grow corn;
+England to spin cotton; Belgium to weave cloth; while Switzerland was to
+train nurses and governesses. Moreover, each separate city was to
+establish a specialty. Lyons was to weave silk, Auvergne to make lace,
+and Paris fancy articles. In this way, economists said, an immense field
+was opened for production and consumption, and in this way an era of
+limitless wealth for mankind was at hand.
+However, these great hopes vanished as fast as technical knowledge
+spread abroad. As long as England stood alone as a weaver of cotton and
+as a metal-worker on a large scale; as long as only Paris made artistic
+fancy articles, etc., all went well, economists could preach the
+so-called division of labour without being refuted.
+But a new current of thought induced bye and bye all civilized nations
+to manufacture for themselves. They found it advantageous to produce
+what they formerly received from other countries, or from their
+colonies, which in their turn aimed at emancipating themselves from the
+mother-country. Scientific discoveries universalized the methods of
+production, and henceforth it was useless to pay an exorbitant price
+abroad for what could easily be produced at home. And now we see already
+that this industrial revolution strikes a crushing blow at the theory of
+the division of labour which for a long time was supposed to be so
+## CHAPTER XVI - THE DECENTRALIZATION OF INDUSTRY
+After the Napoleonic wars Britain had nearly succeeded in ruining the
+main industries which had sprung up in France at the end of the
+preceding century. She also became mistress of the seas and had no
+rivals of importance. She took in the situation, and knew how to turn
+its privileges and advantages to account. She established an industrial
+monopoly, and, imposing upon her neighbours her prices for the goods she
+alone could manufacture, accumulated riches upon riches.
+But as the middle-class Revolution of the eighteenth century had
+abolished serfdom and created a proletariat in France, French industry,
+hampered for a time in its flight, soared again, and from the second
+half of the nineteenth century France ceased to be a tributary of
+England for manufactured goods. To-day she too has grown into a nation
+with an export trade. She sells far more than sixty million pounds'
+worth of manufactured goods, and two-thirds of these goods are fabrics.
+The number of Frenchmen working for export or living by their foreign
+trade, is estimated at three millions.
+France is therefore no longer England's tributary. In her turn she has
+striven to monopolize certain branches of foreign industry, such as
+silks and ready-made clothes, and has reaped immense profits therefrom;
+but she is on the point of losing this monopoly for ever, just as
+England is on the point of losing the monopoly of cotton goods.
+Travelling eastwards, industry has reached Germany. Fifty years ago
+Germany was a tributary of England and France for most manufactured
+commodities in the higher branches of industry. It is no longer so. In
+the course of the last fifty years, and especially since the
+Franco-German war, Germany has completely reorganized her industry. The
+new factories are stocked with the best machinery; the latest creations
+of industrial art in cotton goods from Manchester, or in silks from
+Lyons, etc., are now realized in new German factories. It took two or
+three generations of workers, at Lyons and Manchester, to construct the
+modern machinery; but Germany adopted it in its perfected state.
+Technical schools, adapted to the needs of industry, supply the
+factories with an army of intelligent workmen--practical engineers, who
+can work with both hand and brain. German industry starts at the point
+which was only reached by Manchester and Lyons after fifty years of
+groping in the dark, of exertion and experiments.
+It follows that since Germany manufactures so well at home, she
+diminishes her imports from France and England year by year. She has not
+only become their rival in manufactured goods in Asia and in Africa, but
+also in London and in Paris. Shortsighted people in France may cry out
+against the Frankfort Treaty; English manufacturers may explain German
+competition by little differences in railway tariffs; they may linger on
+the petty side of questions, and neglect great historical facts. But it
+is none the less certain that the main industries, formerly in the hands
+of England and France, have progressed eastward, and in Germany they
+have found a country, young, full of energy, possessing an intelligent
+middle class, and eager in its turn to enrich itself by foreign trade.
+While Germany has freed herself from subjection to France and England,
+has manufactured her own cotton-cloth, and constructed her own
+machines--in fact, manufactured all commodities--the main industries
+have also taken root in Russia, where the development of manufacture is
+the more instructive as it sprang up but yesterday.
+At the time of the abolition of serfdom in 1861, Russia had hardly any
+factories. Everything needed in the way of machines, rails,
+railway-engines, fine dress materials, came from the West. Twenty years
+later she possessed already 85,000 factories, and the value of the goods
+manufactured in Russia had increased fourfold.
+The old machinery was superseded, and now nearly all the steel in use in
+Russia, three-quarters of the iron, two-thirds of the coal, all
+railway-engines, railway-carriages, rails, nearly all steamers, are made
+Russia, destined--so wrote economists--to remain an agricultural
+territory, has rapidly developed into a manufacturing country. She
+orders hardly anything from England, and very little from Germany.
+Economists hold the customs responsible for these facts, and yet cottons
+manufactured in Russia are sold at the same price as in London. Capital
+taking no cognizance of father-lands, German and English capitalists,
+accompanied by engineers and foremen of their own nationalities, have
+introduced in Russia and in Poland manufactories whose goods compete in
+excellence with the best from England. If customs were abolished
+to-morrow, manufacture would only gain by it. Not long ago the British
+manufacturers delivered another hard blow to the import of cloth and
+woolens from the West. They set up in southern and middle Russia immense
+wool factories, stocked with the most perfect machinery from Bradford,
+and already now Russia imports only the highest sorts of cloth and
+woolen fabrics from England, France and Austria. The remainder is
+fabricated at home, both in factories and as domestic industries.
+The main industries not only move eastward, they are spreading also to
+the southern peninsulas. The Turin Exhibition of 1884 already
+demonstrated the progress made in Italian manufactured produce; and, let
+us not make any mistake about it, the mutual hatred of the French and
+Italian middle classes has no other origin than their industrial
+rivalry. Spain is also becoming an industrial country; while in the
+East, Bohemia has suddenly sprung into importance as a new centre of
+manufactures, provided with perfected machinery and applying the best
+We might also mention Hungary's rapid progress in the main industries,
+but let us rather take Brazil as an example. Economists sentenced Brazil
+to cultivate cotton forever, to export it in its raw state, and to
+receive cotton-cloth from Europe in exchange. In fact, forty years ago
+Brazil had only nine wretched little cotton factories with 385 spindles.
+To-day there are 160 cotton-mills, possessing 1,500,000 spindles and
+50,000 looms, which throw 500 million yards of textiles on the market
+Even Mexico is now very successful in manufacturing cotton-cloth,
+instead of importing it from Europe. As to the United States they have
+quite freed themselves from European tutelage, and have triumphantly
+developed their manufacturing powers to an enormous extent.
+But it was India which gave the most striking proof against the
+specialization of national industry.
+We all know the theory: the great European nations need colonies, for
+colonies send raw material--cotton fibre, unwashed wool, spices, etc.,
+to the mother-land. And the mother-land, under pretense of sending them
+manufactured wares, gets rid of her damaged stuffs, her machine
+scrap-iron and everything which she no longer has any use for. It costs
+her little or nothing, and none the less the articles are sold at
+Such was the theory--such was the practice for a long time. In London
+and Manchester fortunes were made, while India was being ruined. In the
+India Museum in London unheard of riches, collected in Calcutta and
+Bombay by English merchants, are to be seen.
+But other English merchants and capitalists conceived the very simple
+idea that it would be more expedient to exploit the natives of India by
+making cotton-cloth in India itself, than to import from twenty to
+twenty-four million pounds' worth of goods annually.
+At first a series of experiments ended in failure. Indian
+weavers--artists and experts in their own craft--could not inure
+themselves to factory life; the machinery sent from Liverpool was bad;
+the climate had to be taken into account; and merchants had to adapt
+themselves to new conditions, now fully mastered, before British India
+could become the menacing rival of the Mother-land she is to-day.
+She now possesses more than 200 cotton-mills which employ about 230,000
+workmen, and contain more than 6,000,000 spindles and 80,000 looms, and
+40 jute-mills, with 400,000 spindles. She exports annually to China, to
+the Dutch Indies, and to Africa, nearly eight million pounds' worth of
+the same white cotton-cloth, said to be England's specialty. And while
+English workmen are often unemployed and in great want, Indian women
+weave cotton by machinery, for the Far East at wages of six-pence a day.
+In short, the intelligent manufacturers are fully aware that the day is
+not far off when they will not know what to do with the "factory hands"
+who formerly wove cotton-cloth for export from England. Besides which it
+is becoming more and more evident that India will no import a single ton
+of iron from England. The initial difficulties in using the coal and the
+iron-ore obtained in India have been overcome; and foundries, rivalling
+those in England, have been built on the shores of the Indian Ocean.
+Colonies competing with the mother-land in its production of
+manufactured goods, such is the factor which will regulate economy in
+the twentieth century.
+And why should India not manufacture? What should be the hindrance?
+Capital?--But capital goes wherever there are men, poor enough to be
+exploited. Knowledge? But knowledge recognizes no national barriers.
+Technical skill of the worker?--No. Are, then, Hindoo workmen inferior
+to the hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, not eighteen years old,
+at present working in the English textile factories?
+After having glanced at national industries it would be very interesting
+to turn to some special branches.
+Let us take silk, for example, an eminently French produce in the first
+half of the nineteenth century. We all know how Lyons became the
+emporium of the silk trade. At first raw silk was gathered in southern
+France, till little by little they ordered it from Italy, from Spain,
+from Austria, from the Caucasus, and from Japan, for the manufacture of
+their silk fabrics. In 1875, out of five million kilos of raw silk
+converted into stuffs in the vicinity of Lyons, there were only four
+hundred thousand kilos of French silk. But if Lyons manufactured
+imported silk, why should not Switzerland, Germany, Russia, do as much?
+Consequently, silk-weaving began to develop in the villages round
+Zurich. Bâle became a great centre of the silk trade. The Caucasian
+Administration engaged women from Marseilles and workmen from Lyons to
+teach Georgians the perfected rearing of silk-worms, and the art of
+converting silk into fabrics to the Caucasian peasants. Austria
+followed. Then Germany, with the help of Lyons workmen, built great silk
+factories. The United States did likewise at Paterson.
+And to-day the silk trade is no longer a French monopoly. Silks are made
+in Germany, in Austria, in the United States, and in England, and it is
+now reckoned that one-third of the silk stuffs used in France are
+imported. In winter, Caucasian peasants weave silk handkerchiefs at a
+wage that would mean starvation to the silk-weavers of Lyons. Italy and
+Germany send silks to France; and Lyons, which in 1870-4 exported 460
+million francs' worth of silk fabrics, exports now only one-half of that
+amount. In fact, the time is not far off when Lyons will only send
+higher class goods and a few novelties as patterns to Germany, Russia
+And so it is in all industries. Belgium has no longer the cloth
+monopoly; cloth is made in Germany, in Russia, in Austria, in the United
+States. Switzerland and the French Jura have no longer a clockwork
+monopoly; watches are made everywhere. Scotland no longer refines sugar
+for Russia: refined Russian sugar is imported into England. Italy,
+although neither possessing coal nor iron, makes her own iron-clads and
+engines for her steamers. Chemical industry is no longer an English
+monopoly; sulphuric acid and soda are made even in the Urals.
+Steam-engines, made at Winterthur, have acquired everywhere a wide
+reputation, and at the present moment, Switzerland, which has neither
+coal nor iron, and no sea-ports to import them--nothing but excellent
+technical schools--makes machinery better and cheaper than England. So
+ends the theory of Exchange.
+The tendency of trade, as for all else, is toward decentralization.
+Every nation finds it advantageous to combine agriculture with the
+greatest possible variety of factories. The specialization, of which
+economists spoke so highly, certainly has enriched a number of
+capitalists, but is now no longer of any use. On the contrary, it is to
+the advantage of every region, every nation, to grow their own wheat,
+their own vegetables, and to manufacture at home most of the produce
+they consume. This diversity is the surest pledge of the complete
+development of production by mutual co-operation, and the moving cause
+of progress, while specialization is now a hindrance to progress.
+Agriculture can only prosper in proximity to factories. And no sooner
+does a single factory appear than an infinite variety of other factories
+_must_ spring up around, so that, mutually supporting and stimulating
+one another by their inventions, they increase their productivity.
+It is foolish indeed to export wheat and to import flour, to export wool
+and import cloth, to export iron and import machinery; not only because
+transportation is a waste of time and money, but, above all, because a
+country with no developed industry inevitably remains behind the times
+in agriculture; because a country with no large factories to bring steel
+to a finished condition is doomed to be backward in all other
+industries; and lastly, because the industrial and technical capacities
+of the nation remain undeveloped, if they are not exercised in a variety
+Nowadays everything holds together in the world of production.
+Cultivation of the soil is no longer possible without machinery, without
+great irrigation works, without railways, without manure factories. And
+to adapt this machinery, these railways, these irrigation engines, etc.,
+to local conditions, a certain spirit of invention, and a certain amount
+of technical skill must be developed, while they necessarily lie dormant
+so long as spades and ploughshares are the only implements of
+If fields are to be properly cultivated, if they are to yield the
+abundant harvests that man has the right to expect, it is essential that
+workshops, foundries, and factories develop within the reach of the
+fields. A variety of occupations, and a variety of skill arising
+therefrom, both working together for a common aim--these are the true
+forces of progress.
+And now let us imagine the inhabitants of a city or a territory--whether
+vast or small--stepping for the first time on to the path of the Social
+We are sometimes told that "nothing will have changed": that the mines,
+the factories, etc., will be expropriated, and proclaimed national or
+communal property, that every man will go back to his usual work, and
+that the Revolution will then be accomplished.
+But this is a mere dream: the Social Revolution cannot take place so
+We have already mentioned that should the Revolution break out to-morrow
+in Paris, Lyons, or any other city--should the workers lay hands on
+factories, houses, and banks, present production would be completely
+revolutionized by this simple fact.
+International commerce will come to a standstill; so also will the
+importation of foreign bread-stuffs; the circulation of commodities and
+of provisions will be paralyzed. And then, the city or territory in
+revolt will be compelled to provide for itself, and to reorganize its
+production, so as to satisfy its own needs. If it fails to do so, it is
+death. If it succeeds, it will revolutionize the economic life of the
+The quantity of imported provisions having decreased, consumption having
+increased, one million Parisians working for exportation purposes having
+been thrown out of work, a great number of things imported to-day from
+distant or neighbouring countries not reaching their destination,
+fancy-trade being temporarily at a standstill,--What will the
+inhabitants have to eat six months after the Revolution?
+We think that when the stores containing food-stuffs are empty, the
+masses will seek to obtain their food from the land. They will see the
+necessity of cultivating the soil, of combining agricultural production
+with industrial production in the suburbs of Paris itself and its
+environs. They will have to abandon the merely ornamental trades and
+consider their most urgent need--bread.
+A great number of the inhabitants of the cities will have to become
+agriculturists. Not in the same manner as the present peasants who wear
+themselves out, ploughing for a wage that barely provides them with
+sufficient food for the year, but by following the principles of the
+intensive agriculture, of the market gardeners, applied on a large scale
+by means of the best machinery that man has invented or can invent. They
+will till the land--not, however, like the country beast of burden: a
+Paris jeweller would object to that. They will organize cultivation on
+better principles; and not in the future, but at once, during the
+revolutionary struggles, from fear of being worsted by the enemy.
+Agriculture will have to be carried out on intelligent lines, by men and
+women availing themselves of the experience of the present time,
+organizing themselves in joyous gangs for pleasant work, like those who,
+a hundred years ago, worked in the Champ de Mars for the Feast of the
+Federation--a work of delight, when not carried to excess, when
+scientifically organized, when man invents and improves his tools and is
+conscious of being a useful member of the community.
+Of course, they will not only cultivate wheat and oats--they will also
+produce those things which they formerly used to order from foreign
+parts. And let us not forget that for the inhabitants of a revolted
+territory, "foreign parts" may include all districts that have not
+joined in the revolutionary movement. During the Revolutions of 1793 and
+1871 Paris was made to feel that "foreign parts" meant even the country
+district at her very gates. The speculator in grains at Troyes starved
+in 1793 and 1794 the sansculottes of Paris as badly, and even worse,
+than the German armies brought on to French soil by the Versailles
+conspirators. The revolted city will be compelled to do without these
+"foreigners," and why not? France invented beet-root sugar when
+sugar-cane ran short during the continental blockade. Parisians
+discovered saltpetre in their cellars when they no longer received any
+from abroad. Shall we be inferior to our grandfathers, who hardly lisped
+the first words of science?
+A revolution is more than a mere change of the prevailing political
+system. It implies the awakening of human intelligence, the increasing
+of the inventive spirit tenfold, a hundredfold; it is the dawn of a new
+science--the science of men like Laplace, Lamarck, Lavoisier. It is a
+revolution in the minds of men, as deep, and deeper still, than in their
+And there are still economists, who tell us that once the "revolution is
+made," everyone will return to his workshop, as if passing through a
+revolution were going home after a walk in the Epping forest!
+To begin with, the sole fact of having laid hands on middle-class
+property will imply the necessity of completely reorganizing the whole
+of economic life in the workshops, the dockyards, the factories.
+And the revolution surely will not fail to act in this direction. Should
+Paris, during the social revolution, be cut off from the world for a
+year or two by the supporters of middle-class rule, its millions of
+intellects, not yet depressed by factory life--that City of little
+trades which stimulate the spirit of invention--will show the world what
+man's brain can accomplish without asking for help from without, but the
+motor force of the sun that gives light, the power of the wind that
+sweeps away impurities, and the silent life-forces at work in the earth
+we tread on.
+We shall see then what a variety of trades, mutually cooperating on a
+spot of the globe and animated by a revolution, can do to feed, clothe,
+house, and supply with all manner of luxuries millions of intelligent
+We need write no fiction to prove this. What we are sure of, what has
+already been experimented upon, and recognized as practical, would
+suffice to carry it into effect, if the attempt were fertilized,
+vivified by the daring inspiration of the Revolution and the spontaneous
+impulse of the masses.
+ A fuller development of these ideas will be found in my book,
+_Fields, Factories, and Workshops_, published by Messrs. Thomas Nelson
+and Sons in their popular series in 1912.
+## CHAPTER XVII - AGRICULTURE
+Political Economy has often been reproached with drawing all its
+deductions from the decidedly false principle, that the only incentive
+capable of forcing a man to augment his power of production is personal
+interest in its narrowest sense.
+The reproach is perfectly true; so true that epochs of great industrial
+discoveries and true progress in industry are precisely those in which
+the happiness of all was inspiring men, and in which personal enrichment
+was least thought of. The great investigators in science and the great
+inventors aimed, above all, at giving greater freedom of mankind. And if
+Watt, Stephenson, Jacquard, etc., could have only foreseen what a state
+of misery their sleepless nights would bring to the workers, they
+certainly would have burned their designs and broken their models.
+Another principle that pervades Political Economy is just as false. It
+is the tacit admission, common to all economists, that if there is often
+over-production in certain branches, a society will nevertheless never
+have sufficient products to satisfy the wants of all, and that
+consequently the day will never come when nobody will be forced to sell
+his labour in exchange for wages. This tacit admission is found at the
+basis of all theories and all the so-called "laws" taught by economists.
+And yet it is certain that the day when any civilized association of
+individuals would ask itself, _what are the needs of all, and the means
+of satisfying them_, it would see that, in industry, as in agriculture,
+it already possesses sufficient to provide abundantly for all needs, on
+condition that it knows how to apply these means to satisfy real needs.
+That this is true as regards industry no one can contest. Indeed, it
+suffices to study the processes already in use to extract coals and ore,
+to obtain steel and work it, to manufacture on a great scale what is
+used for clothing, etc., in order to perceive that we could already
+increase our production fourfold or more, and yet use for that _less_
+work than we are using now.
+We go further. We assert that agriculture is in the same position: those
+who cultivate the soil, like the manufacturers, already could increase
+their production, not only fourfold but tenfold, and they can put it
+into practice as soon as they feel the need of it,--as soon as a
+socialist organization of work will be established instead of the
+present capitalistic one.
+Each time agriculture is spoken of, men imagine a peasant bending over
+the plough, throwing badly assorted corn haphazard into the ground and
+waiting anxiously for what the good or bad season will bring forth; they
+think of a family working from morn to night and reaping as reward a
+rude bed, dry bread, and coarse beverage. In a word, they picture "the
+savages" of La Bruyère.
+And for these men, ground down to such a misery, the utmost relief that
+society proposes, is to reduce their taxes or their rent. But even most
+social reformers do not care to imagine a cultivator standing erect,
+taking leisure, and producing by a few hours' work per day sufficient
+food to nourish, not only his own family, but a hundred men more at the
+least. In their most glowing dreams of the future Socialists do not go
+beyond American extensive culture, which, after all, is but the infancy
+of agricultural art.
+But the thinking agriculturist has broader ideas to-day--his conceptions
+are on a far grander scale. He only asks for a fraction of an acre in
+order to produce sufficient vegetables for a family; and to feed
+twenty-five horned beasts he needs no more space than he formerly
+required to feed one; his aim is to make his own soil, to defy seasons
+and climate, to warm both air and earth around the young plant; to
+produce, in a word, on one acre what he used to gather from fifty acres,
+and that without any excessive fatigue--by greatly reducing, on the
+contrary, the total of former labour. He knows that we will be able to
+feed everybody by giving to the culture of the fields no more time than
+what each can give with pleasure and joy.
+This is the present tendency of agriculture.
+While scientific men, led by Liebig, the creator of the chemical theory
+of agriculture, often got on the wrong tack in their love of mere
+theories, unlettered agriculturists opened up new roads to prosperity.
+Market-gardeners of Paris, Troyes, Rouen, Scotch and English gardeners,
+Flemish and Lombardian farmers, peasants of Jersey, Guernsey, and
+farmers on the Scilly Isles have opened up such large horizons that the
+mind hesitates to grasp them. While up till lately a family of peasants
+needed at least seventeen to twenty acres to live on the produce of the
+soil--and we know how peasants live--we can now no longer say what is
+the minimum area on which all that is necessary to a family can be
+grown, even including articles of luxury, if the soil is worked by means
+of intensive culture.
+Twenty years ago it could already be asserted that a population of
+thirty million individuals could live very well, without importing
+anything, on what could be grown in Great Britain. But now, when we see
+the progress recently made in France, in Germany, in England, and when
+we contemplate the new horizons which open before us, we can say that in
+cultivating the earth as it is already cultivated in many places, even
+on poor soils, fifty or sixty million inhabitants to the territory of
+Great Britain would still be a very feeble proportion to what man could
+extract from the soil.
+In any case (as we are about to demonstrate) we may consider it as
+absolutely proved that if to-morrow Paris and the two departments of
+Seine and of Seine-et-Oise organized themselves as an Anarchist commune,
+in which all worked with their hands, and if the entire universe
+refused to send them a single bushel of wheat, a single head of cattle,
+a single basket of fruit, and left them only the territory of the two
+departments, they could not only produce all the corn, meat, and
+vegetables necessary for themselves, but also vegetables and fruit which
+are now articles of luxury, in sufficient quantities for all.
+And, in addition, we affirm that the sum total of this labour would be
+far less than that expended at present to feed these people with corn
+harvested in Auvergne and Russia, with vegetables produced a little
+everywhere by extensive agriculture, and with fruit grown in the South.
+It is self-evident that we in nowise desire all exchange to be
+suppressed, nor that each region should strive to produce that which
+will only grow in its climate by a more or less artificial culture. But
+we care to draw attention to the fact that the theory of exchange, such
+as is understood to-day, is strangely exaggerated--that exchange is
+often useless and even harmful. We assert, moreover, that people have
+never had a right conception of the immense labour of Southern wine
+growers, nor that of Russian and Hungarian corn growers, whose excessive
+labour could also be very much reduced if they adopted intensive
+culture, instead of their present system of extensive agriculture.
+It would be impossible to quote here the mass of facts on which we base
+our assertions. We are therefore obliged to refer our readers who want
+further information to another book, "Fields, Factories, and
+Workshops." Above all we earnestly invite those who are interested
+in the question to read several excellent works published in France and
+elsewhere, and of which we give a list at the close of this book. As
+to the inhabitants of large towns, who have as yet no real notion of
+what agriculture can be, we advise them to explore the surrounding
+market-gardens. They need but observe and question the market-gardeners,
+and a new world will be open to them. They will then be able to see what
+European agriculture may be in the twentieth century; and they will
+understand with what force the social revolution will be armed when we
+know the secret of taking everything we need from the soil.
+A few facts will suffice to show that our assertions are in no way
+exaggerated. We only wish them to be preceded by a few general remarks.
+We know in what a wretched condition European agriculture is. If the
+cultivator of the soil is not plundered by the landowner, he is robbed
+by the State. If the State taxes him moderately, the money-lender
+enslaves him by means of promissory notes, and soon turns him into the
+simple tenant of soil belonging in reality to a financial company. The
+landlord, the State, and the banker thus plunders the cultivator by
+means of rent, taxes, and interest. The sum varies in each country, but
+it never falls below the quarter, very often the half of the raw
+produce. In France and in Italy agriculturists paid the State quite
+recently as much as 44 per cent. of the gross produce.
+Moreover, the share of the owner and of State always goes on increasing.
+As soon as the cultivator has obtained more plentiful crops by prodigies
+of labour, invention, or initiative, the tribute he will owe to the
+landowner, the State, and the banker will augment in proportion. If he
+doubles the number of bushels reaped per acre, rent will be doubled, and
+taxes too, and the State will take care to raise them still more if the
+prices go up. And so on. In short, everywhere the cultivator of the soil
+works twelve to sixteen hours a day; these three vultures take from him
+everything he might lay by; they rob him everywhere of what would enable
+him to improve his culture. This is why agriculture progresses so
+The cultivator can only occasionally make some progress, in some
+exceptional regions, under quite exceptional circumstances, following
+upon a quarrel between the three vampires. And yet we have said nothing
+about the tribute every cultivator pays to the manufacturer. Every
+machine, every spade, every barrel of chemical manure, is sold to him at
+three or four times its real cost. Nor let us forget the middleman, who
+levies the lion's share of the earth's produce.
+This is why, during all this century of invention and progress,
+agriculture has only improved from time to time on very limited areas.
+Happily there have always been small oases, neglected for some time by
+the vulture; and here we learn what intensive agriculture can produce
+for mankind. Let us mention a few examples.
+In the American prairies (which, however, only yield meagre spring wheat
+crops, from 7 to 15 bushels acre, and even these are often marred by
+periodical droughts), 500 men, working only during eight months, produce
+the annual food of 50,000 people. With all the improvements of the last
+three years, one man's yearly labour (300 days) yields, delivered in
+Chicago as flour, the yearly food of 250 men. Here the result is
+obtained by a great economy in manual labour: on those vast plains,
+ploughing, harvesting, thrashing, are organized in almost military
+fashion. There is no useless running to and fro, no loss of time--all is
+done with parade-like precision.
+This is agriculture on a large scale--extensive agriculture, which takes
+the soil from nature without seeking to improve it. When the earth has
+yielded all it can, they leave it; they seek elsewhere for a virgin
+soil, to be exhausted in its turn. But here is also "intensive"
+agriculture, which is already worked, and will be more and more so, by
+machinery. Its object is to cultivate a limited space well, to manure,
+to improve, to concentrate work, and to obtain the largest crop
+possible. This kind of culture spreads every year, and whereas
+agriculturists in the south of France and on the fertile plains of
+western America are content with an average crop of 11 to 15 bushels
+per acre by extensive culture, they reap regularly 39, even 55, and
+sometimes 60 bushels per acre in the north of France. The annual
+consumption of a man is thus obtained from less than a quarter of an
+And the more intense the culture is, the less work is expended to obtain
+a bushel of wheat. Machinery replaces man at the preliminary work and
+for the improvements needed by the land--such as draining, clearing of
+stones--which will double the crops in future, once and for ever.
+Sometimes nothing but keeping the soil free of weeds, without manuring,
+allows an average soil to yield excellent crops from year to year. It
+has been done for forty years in succession at Rothamstead, in
+However, let us not write an agricultural romance, but be satisfied with
+a crop of 44 bushels per acre. That needs no exceptional soil, but
+merely a rational culture; and let us see what it means.
+The 3,600,000 individuals who inhabit the two departments of Seine and
+Seine-et-Oise consume yearly for their food a little less than 22
+million bushels of cereals, chiefly wheat; and in our hypothesis they
+would have to cultivate, in order to obtain this crop, 494,200 acres out
+of the 1,507,300 acres which they possess. It is evident they would not
+cultivate them with spades. That would need too much time--96 work-days
+of 5 hours per acre. It would be preferable to improve the soil once for
+all--to drain what needed draining, to level what needed levelling, to
+clear the soil of stones, were it even necessary to spend 5 million days
+of 5 hours in this preparatory work--an average of 10 work-days to each
+Then they would plough with the steam-digger, which would take one and
+three-fifths of a day per acre, and they would give another one and
+three-fifths of a day for working with the double plough. Seeds would be
+sorted by steam instead of taken haphazard, and they would be carefully
+sown in rows instead of being thrown to the four winds. Now all this
+work would not take 10 days of 5 hours per acre if the work were done
+under good conditions. But if 10 million work-days are given to good
+culture during 3 or 4 years, the result will be that later on crops of
+44 to 55 bushels per acre will be obtained by only working half the
+Fifteen million work-days will thus have been spent to give bread to a
+population of 3,600,000 inhabitants. And the work would be such that
+everyone could do it without having muscles of steel, or without having
+even worked the ground before. The initiative and the general
+distribution of work would come from those who know the soil. As to the
+work itself, there is no townsman of either sex so enfeebled as to be
+incapable of looking after machines and of contributing his share to
+agrarian work after a few hours' apprenticeship.
+Well, when we consider that in the present chaos there are, in a city
+like Paris, without counting the unemployed of the upper classes, there
+are always about 100,000 workmen out of work in their several trades, we
+see that the power lost in our present organization would alone suffice
+to give, with a rational culture, all the bread that is necessary for
+the three or four million inhabitants of the two departments.
+We repeat, this is no fancy dream, and we have not yet spoken of the
+truly intensive agriculture. We have not depended upon the wheat
+(obtained in three years by Mr. Hallett) of which one grain, replanted,
+produced 5,000 or 6,000, and occasionally 10,000 grains, which would
+give the wheat necessary for a family of five individuals on an area of
+120 square yards. On the contrary, we have only mentioned what is being
+already achieved by numerous farmers in France, England, Belgium, etc.,
+and what might be done to-morrow with the experience and knowledge
+acquired already by practice on a large scale.
+But without a revolution, neither to-morrow, nor after to-morrow will
+see it done, because it is not to the interest of landowners and
+capitalists; and because peasants who would find their profit in it have
+neither the knowledge nor the money, nor the time to obtain what is
+necessary to go ahead.
+The society of to-day has not yet reached this stage. But let Parisians
+proclaim an Anarchist Commune, and they will of necessity come to it,
+because they will not be foolish enough to continue making luxurious
+toys (which Vienna, Warsaw, and Berlin make as well already), and to run
+the risk of being left without bread.
+Moreover, agricultural work, by the help of machinery, would soon become
+the most attractive and the most joyful of all occupations.
+"We have had enough jewelery and enough dolls' clothes," they would say;
+"it is high time for the workers to recruit their strength in
+agriculture, to go in search of vigour, of impressions of nature, of the
+joy of life, that they have forgotten in the dark factories of the
+In the Middle Ages it was Alpine pasture lands, rather than guns, which
+allowed the Swiss to shake off lords and kings. Modern agriculture will
+allow a city in revolt to free itself from the combined bourgeois
+We have seen how the three and one-half million inhabitants of the two
+departments round Paris could find ample bread by cultivating only a
+third of their territory. Let us now pass on to cattle.
+Englishmen, who eat much meat, consume on an average a little less than
+220 pounds a year per adult. Supposing all meats consumed were oxen,
+that makes a little less than the third of an ox. An ox a year for five
+individuals (including children) is already a sufficient ration. For
+three and one-half million inhabitants this would make an annual
+consumption of 700,000 head of cattle.
+To-day, with the pasture system, we need at least five million acres to
+nourish 660,000 head of cattle. This makes nine acres per each head of
+horned cattle. Nevertheless, with prairies moderately watered by spring
+water (as recently done on thousands of acres in the southwest of
+France), one and one-fourth million acres already suffice. But if
+intensive culture is practiced, and beet-root is grown for fodder, you
+only need a quarter of that area, that is to say, about 310,000 acres.
+And if we have recourse to maize and practice ensilage (the compression
+of fodder while green) like Arabs, we obtain fodder on an area of
+In the environs of Milan, where sewer water is used to irrigate the
+fields, fodder for two to three horned cattle per each acre is obtained
+on an area of 22,000 acres; and on a few favoured fields, up to 177 tons
+of hay to the 10 acres have been cropped, the yearly provender of 36
+milch cows. Nearly nine acres per head of cattle are needed under the
+pasture system, and only two and one-half acres for nine oxen or cows
+under the new system. These are the opposite extremes in modern
+In Guernsey, on a total of 9,884 acres utilized, nearly half (4,695
+acres) are covered with cereals and kitchen-gardens; only 5,189 acres
+remain as meadows. On these 5,189 acres, 1,480 horses, 7,260 head of
+cattle, 900 sheep, and 4,200 pigs are fed, which makes more than three
+head of cattle per two acres, without reckoning the sheep or the pigs.
+It is needless to add that the fertility of the soil is made by seaweed
+and chemical manures.
+Returning to our three and one-half million inhabitants belonging to
+Paris and its environs, we see that the land necessary for the rearing
+of cattle comes down from five million acres to 197,000. Well, then, let
+us not stop at the lowest figures, let us take those of ordinary
+intensive culture; let us liberally add to the land necessary for
+smaller cattle which must replace some of the horned beasts and allow
+395,000 acres for the rearing of cattle--494,000 if you like, on the
+1,013,000 acres remaining after bread has been provided for the people.
+Let us be generous and give five million work-days to put this land into
+a productive state.
+After having therefore employed in the course of a year twenty million
+work-days, half of which are for permanent improvements, we shall have
+bread and meat assured to us, without including all the extra meat
+obtainable in the shape of fowls, pigs, rabbits, etc.; without taking
+into consideration that a population provided with excellent vegetables
+and fruit consumes less meat than Englishmen, who supplement their poor
+supply of vegetables by animal food. Now, how much do twenty million
+work-days of five hours make per inhabitant? Very little indeed. A
+population of three and one-half millions must have at least 1,200,000
+adult men, and as many women capable of work. Well, then, to give bread
+and meat to all, it would need only seventeen half-days of work a year
+per man. Add three million work-days, or double that number if you like,
+in order to obtain milk. That will make twenty-five work-days of five
+hours in all--nothing more than a little pleasureable country
+exercise--to obtain the three principal products: bread, meat, and milk.
+The three products which, after housing, cause daily anxiety to
+nine-tenths of mankind.
+And yet--let us not tire of repeating--these are not fancy dreams. We
+have only told what is, what been, obtained by experience on a large
+scale. Agriculture could be reorganized in this way to-morrow if
+property laws and general ignorance did not offer opposition.
+The day Paris has understood that to know what you eat and how it is
+produced, is a question of public interest; the day when everybody will
+have understood that this question is infinitely more important than all
+the parliamentary debates of the present times--on that day the
+Revolution will be an accomplished fact. Paris will take possession of
+the two departments and cultivate them. And then the Parisian worker,
+after having laboured a third of his existence in order to buy bad and
+insufficient food, will produce it himself, under his walls, within the
+enclosure of his forts (if they still exist), and in a few hours of
+healthy and attractive work.
+And now we pass on to fruit and vegetables. Let us go outside Paris and
+visit the establishment of a market-gardener who accomplishes wonders
+(ignored by learned economists) at a few miles from the academies.
+Let us visit, suppose, M. Ponce, the author of a work on
+market-gardening, who makes no secret of what the earth yields him, and
+who has published it all along.
+M. Ponce, and especially his workmen, work like niggers. It takes eight
+men to cultivate a plot a little less than three acres (2.7). They work
+twelve and even fifteen hours a day, that is to say, three times more
+than is needed. Twenty-four of them would not be too many. To which M.
+Ponce will probably answer that as he pays the terrible sum of £100 rent
+a year for his 2.7 acres of land, and £100 for manure bought in the
+barracks, he is obliged to exploit. He would no doubt answer, "Being
+exploited, I exploit in my turn." His installation has also cost him
+£1,200, of which certainly more than half went as tribute to the idle
+barons of industry. In reality, this establishment represents at most
+3,000 work-days, probably much less.
+But let us examine his crops: nearly ten tons of carrots, nearly ten
+tons of onions, radishes, and small vegetables, 6,000 heads of cabbage,
+3,000 heads of cauliflower, 5,000 baskets of tomatoes, 5,000 dozen of
+choice fruit, 154,000 salads; in short, a total of 123 tons of
+vegetables and fruit to 2.7 acres--120 yards long by 109 yards broad,
+which makes more than forty-four tons of vegetables to the acre.
+But a man does not eat more than 660 pounds of vegetables and fruit a
+year, and two and one-half acres of a market-garden yield enough
+vegetables and fruit to richly supply the table of 350 adults during the
+year. Thus twenty-four persons employed a whole year in cultivating 2.7
+acres of land, and only five working hours a day, would produce
+sufficient vegetables and fruit for 350 adults, which is equivalent at
+least to 500 individuals.
+To put it another way: in cultivating like M. Ponce--and his results
+have already been surpassed--350 adults should each give a little more
+than 100 hours a year (103) to produce vegetables and fruit necessary
+for 500 people.
+Let us mention that such a production is not the exception. It takes
+place, under the walls of Paris, on an area of 2,220 acres, by 5,000
+market-gardeners. Only these market-gardeners are reduced nowadays to a
+state of beasts of burden, in order to pay an average rent of £32 per
+But do not these facts, which can be verified by every one, prove that
+17,300 acres (of the 519,000 remaining to us) would suffice to give all
+necessary vegetables, as well as a liberal amount of fruit to the three
+and one-half million inhabitants of our two departments?
+As to the quantity of work necessary to produce these fruits and
+vegetables, it would amount to fifty million work-days of five hours (50
+days per adult male), if we measure by the market-gardeners' standard of
+work. But we could reduce this quantity if we had recourse to the
+process in vogue in Jersey and Guernsey. We must also remember that the
+Paris market-gardener is forced to work so hard because he mostly
+produces early season fruits, the high prices of which have to pay for
+fabulous rents, and that this system of culture entails more work than
+is necessary for growing the ordinary staple-food vegetables and fruit.
+Besides, the market-gardeners of Paris, not having the means to make a
+great outlay on their gardens, and being obliged to pay heavily for
+glass, wood, iron, and coal, obtain their artificial heat out of manure,
+while it can be had at much less cost in hothouses.
+The market-gardeners, we say, are forced to become machines and to
+renounce all joys of life in order to obtain their marvellous crops. But
+these hard grinders have rendered a great service to humanity in
+teaching us that the soil can be "made." They _make_ it with old
+hot-beds of manure, which have already served to give the necessary
+warmth to young plants and to early fruit; and they make it in such
+great quantity that they are compelled to sell it in part, otherwise it
+would raise the level of their gardens by one inch every year. They do
+it so well (so Barral teaches us, in his "Dictionary of Agriculture," in
+an article on market-gardeners) that in recent contracts, the
+market-gardener stipulates that he will carry away his soil with him
+when he leaves the bit of ground he is cultivating. Loam carried away on
+carts, with furniture and glass frames--that is the answer of practical
+cultivators to the learned treatises of a Ricardo, who represented rent
+as a means of equalizing the natural advantages of the soil. "The soil
+is worth what the man is worth," that is the gardeners' motto.
+And yet the market-gardeners of Paris and Rouen labour three times as
+hard to obtain the same results as their fellow-workers in Guernsey or
+in England. Applying industry to agriculture, these last make their
+climate in addition to their soil, by means of the greenhouse.
+Fifty years ago the greenhouse was the luxury of the rich. It was kept
+to grow exotic plants for pleasure. But nowadays its use begins to be
+generalized. A tremendous industry has grown up lately in Guernsey and
+Jersey, where hundreds of acres are already covered with glass--to say
+nothing of the countless small greenhouses kept in every little farm
+garden. Acres and acres of greenhouses have lately been built also at
+Worthing (103 acres in 1912), in the suburbs of London, and in several
+other parts of England and Scotland.
+They are built of all qualities, beginning with those which have granite
+walls, down to those which represent mere shelters made in planks and
+glass frames, which cost, even now, with all the tribute paid to
+capitalists and middlemen, less than 3s. 6d. per square yard under
+glass. Most of them are heated for at least three of four months every
+year; but even the cool greenhouses, which are not heated at all, give
+excellent results--of course, not for growing grapes and tropical
+plants, but for potatoes, carrots, peas, tomatoes, and so on.
+In this way man emancipates himself from climate, and at the same time
+he avoids also the heavy work with the hot-beds, and he saves both in
+buying much less manure and in work. Three men to the acre, each of them
+working less than sixty hours a week, produce on very small spaces what
+formerly required acres and acres of land.
+The result of all these recent conquests of culture is, that if one-half
+only of the adults of a city gave each about fifty half-days for the
+culture of the finest fruit and vegetables _out of season_, they would
+have all the year round an unlimited supply of that sort of fruit and
+vegetables for the whole population.
+But there is a still more important fact to notice. The greenhouse has
+nowadays a tendency to become a mere _kitchen garden under glass_. And
+when it is used to such a purpose, the simplest plank-and-glass unheated
+shelters already give fabulous crops--such as, for instance, 500 bushels
+of potatoes per acre as a first crop, ready by the end of April; after
+which a second and a third crop are obtained in the extremely high
+temperature which prevails in the summer under glass.
+I gave in my "Fields, Factories, and Workshops," most striking facts in
+this direction. Sufficient to say here, that at Jersey, thirty-four men,
+with one trained gardener only, cultivate thirteen acres under glass,
+from which they obtain 143 tons of fruit and early vegetables, using for
+this extraordinary culture less than 1,000 tons of coal.
+And this is done now in Guernsey and Jersey on a very large scale, quite
+a number of steamers constantly plying between Guernsey and London, only
+to export the crops of the greenhouses.
+Nowadays, in order to obtain that same crop of 500 bushels of potatoes,
+we must plough every year a surface of four acres, plant it, cultivate
+it, weed, it, and so on; whereas with the glass, even if we shall have
+to give perhaps, to start with, half a day's work per square yard in
+order to build the greenhouse--we shall save afterwards at least
+one-half, and probably three-quarters of the yearly labour required
+These are _facts_, results which every one can verify himself. And these
+facts are already a hint as to what man could obtain from the earth if
+he treated it with intelligence.
+In all the above we have reasoned upon what already withstood the test
+of experience. Intensive culture of the fields, irrigated meadows, the
+hot-house, and finally the kitchen garden under glass are realities.
+Moreover, the tendency is to extend and to generalize these methods of
+culture, because they allow of obtaining more produce with less work and
+with more certainty.
+In fact, after having studied the most simple glass shelters of
+Guernsey, we affirm that, taking all in all, far less work is expended
+for obtaining potatoes under glass in April, than in growing them in the
+open air, which requires digging a space four times as large, watering
+it, weeding it, etc. Work is likewise economized in employing a
+perfected tool or machine, even when an initial expense had to be
+incurred to buy the tool.
+Complete figures concerning the culture of common vegetables under glass
+are still wanting. This culture is of recent origin, and is only carried
+out on small areas. But we have already figures concerning the fifty
+years old culture of early season grapes, and these figures are
+In the north of England, on the Scotch frontier, where coal only costs
+3s. a ton at the pit's mouth, they have long since taken to growing
+hot-house grapes. Thirty years ago these grapes, ripe in January, were
+sold by the grower at 20s. per pound and resold at 40s. per pound for
+Napoleon III.'s table. To-day the same grower sells them at only 2s. 6d.
+per pound. He tells us so himself in a horticultural journal. The fall
+in the prices is caused by the tons and tons of grapes arriving in
+January to London and Paris.
+Thanks to the cheapness of coal and an intelligent culture, grapes from
+the north travel now southwards, in a contrary direction to ordinary
+fruit. They cost so little that in May, English and Jersey grapes are
+sold at 1s. 8d. per pound by the gardeners, and yet this price, like
+that of 40s. thirty years ago, is only kept up by slack production.
+In March, Belgium grapes are sold at from 6d. to 8d., while in October,
+grapes cultivated in immense quantities--under glass, and with a little
+artificial heating in the environs of London--are sold at the same price
+as grapes bought by the pound in the vineyards of Switzerland and the
+Rhine, that is to say, for a few halfpence. Yet they still cost
+two-thirds too much, by reason of the excessive rent of the soil and the
+cost of installation and heating, on which the gardener pays a
+formidable tribute to the manufacturer and the middleman. This being
+understood, we may say that it costs "next to nothing" to have delicious
+grapes under the latitude of, and in our misty London in autumn. In one
+of the suburbs, for instance, a wretched glass and plaster shelter, nine
+feet ten inches long by six and one-half feet wide, resting against our
+cottage, gave us about fifty pounds of grapes of an exquisite flavour in
+October, for nine consecutive years. The crop came from a Hamburg
+vine-stalk, six year old. And the shelter was so bad that the rain came
+through. At night the temperature was always that of outside. It was
+evidently not heated, for it would have been as useless as heating the
+street! And the care which was given was: pruning the vine, half an hour
+every year; and bringing a wheel-barrowful of manure, which was thrown
+over the stalk of the vine, planted in red clay outside the shelter.
+On the other hand, if we estimate the amount of care given to the vine
+on the borders of the Rhine of Lake Leman, the terraces constructed
+stone upon stone on the slopes of the hills, the transport of manure and
+also of earth to a height of two or three hundred feet, we come to the
+conclusion that on the whole the expenditure of work necessary to
+cultivate vines is more considerable in Switzerland or on the banks of
+the Rhine than it is under glass in London suburbs.
+This may seem paradoxical, because it is generally believed that vines
+grow of themselves in the south of Europe, and that the vine-grower's
+work costs nothing. But gardeners and horticulturists, far from
+contradicting us, confirm our assertions. "The most advantageous culture
+in England is vine culture," wrote a practical gardener, editor of the
+"English Journal of Horticulture" in the _Nineteenth Century_. Prices
+speak eloquently for themselves, as we know.
+Translating these facts into communist language, we may assert that the
+man or woman who takes twenty hours a year from his leisure time to give
+some little care--very pleasant in the main--to two or three vine-stalks
+sheltered by simple glass under any European climate, will gather as
+many grapes as their family and friends can eat. And that applies not
+only to vines, but to all fruit trees.
+The Commune that will put the processes of intensive culture into
+practice on a large scale will have all possible vegetables, indigenous
+or exotic, and all desirable fruits, without employing more than about
+ten hours a year per inhabitant.
+In fact, nothing would be easier than to verify the above statements by
+direct experiment. Suppose 100 acres of a light loam (such as we have at
+Worthing) are transformed into a number of market gardens, each one with
+its glass houses for the rearing of the seedlings and young plants.
+Suppose also that fifty more acres are covered with glass houses, and
+the organization of the whole is left to practical experienced French
+maraîchers, and Guernsey or Worthing greenhouse gardeners.
+In basing the maintenance of these 150 acres on the Jersey average,
+requiring the work of three men per acre under glass--which makes less
+than 8,600 hours of work a year--it would need about 1,300,000 hours for
+the 150 acres. Fifty competent gardeners could give five hours a day to
+this work, and the rest would be simply done by people who, without
+being gardeners by profession, would soon learn how to use a spade, and
+to handle the plants. But this work would yield at least--we have seen
+it in a preceding chapter--all necessaries and articles of luxury in the
+way of fruit and vegetables for at least 40,000 or 50,000 people. Let us
+admit that among this number there are 13,500 adults, willing to work at
+the kitchen garden; then, each one would have to give 100 hours a year
+distributed over the whole year. These hours of work would become hours
+of recreation spent among friends and children in beautiful gardens,
+more beautiful probably than those of the legendary Semiramis.
+This is the balance sheet of the labour to be spent in order to be able
+to eat to satiety fruit which we are deprived of to-day, and to have
+vegetables in abundance, now so scrupulously rationed out by the
+housewife, when she has to reckon each half-penny which must go to
+enrich capitalists and landowners.
+If only humanity had the consciousness of what it CAN, and if that
+consciousness only gave it the power to WILL!
+If it only knew that cowardice of the spirit is the rock on which all
+revolutions have stranded until now.
+We can easily perceive the new horizons opening before the social
+Each time we speak of revolution, the face of the worker who has seen
+children wanting food darkens and he asks--"What of bread? Will there be
+sufficient, if everyone eats according to his appetite? What if the
+peasants, ignorant tools of reaction, starve our towns as the black
+bands did in France in 1793--what shall we do?"
+Let them do their worst. The large cities will have to do without them.
+At what, then, should the hundreds of thousands of workers, who are
+asphyxiated to-day in small workshops and factories, be employed on the
+day they regain their liberty? Will they continue to shut themselves up
+in factories after the Revolution? Will they continue to make luxurious
+toys for export when they see their stock or corn getting exhausted,
+meat becoming scarce, and vegetables disappearing without being
+Evidently not! They will leave the town and go into the fields! Aided by
+a machinery which will enable the weakest of us to put a shoulder to
+the wheel, they will carry revolution into previously enslaved culture
+as they will have carried it into institutions and ideas.
+Hundreds of acres will be covered with glass, and men, and women with
+delicate fingers, will foster the growth of young plants. Hundreds of
+other acres will be ploughed by steam, improved by manures, or enriched
+by artificial soil obtained by the pulverization of rocks. Happy crowds
+of occasional labourers will cover these acres with crops, guided in the
+work and experiments partly by those who know agriculture, but
+especially by the great and practical spirit of a people roused from
+long slumber and illumined by that bright beacon--the happiness of all.
+And in two or three months the early crops will receive the most
+pressing wants, and provide food for a people who, after so many
+centuries of expectation, will at least be able to appease their hunger
+and eat according to their appetite.
+In the meanwhile, popular genius, the genius of a nation which revolts
+and knows its wants, will work at experimenting with new processes of
+culture that we already catch a glimpse of, and that only need the
+baptism of experience to become universal. Light will be experimented
+with--that unknown agent of culture which makes barley ripen in
+forty-five days under the latitude of Yakutsk; light, concentrated or
+artificial, will rival heat in hastening the growth of plants. A Mouchot
+of the future will invent a machine to guide the rays of the sun and
+make them work, so that we shall no longer seek sun-heat stored in coal
+in the depths of the earth. They will experiment the watering of the
+soil with cultures of micro-organisms--a rational idea, conceived but
+yesterday, which will permit us to give to the soil those little living
+beings, necessary to feed the rootlets, to decompose and assimilate the
+component parts of the soil.
+They will experiment.... But let us stop here, or we shall enter into
+the realm of fancy. Let us remain in the reality of acquired facts. With
+the processes of culture in use, applied on a large scale, and already
+victorious in the struggle against industrial competition, we can give
+ourselves ease and luxury in return for agreeable work. The near future
+will show what is practical in the processes that recent scientific
+discoveries give us a glimpse of. Let us limit ourselves at present to
+opening up the new path that consists in _the study of the needs of man,
+and the means of satisfying them_.
+The only thing that may be wanting to the Revolution is the boldness of
+With our minds already narrowed in our youth and enslaved by the past in
+our mature age, we hardly dare to think. If a new idea is
+mentioned--before venturing on an opinion of our own, we consult musty
+books a hundred years old, to know what ancient masters thought on the
+It is not food that will fail, if boldness of thought and initiative are
+not wanting to the revolution.
+Of all the great days of the French Revolution, the most beautiful, the
+greatest, was the one on which delegates who had come from all parts of
+France to Paris, worked all with the spade to plane the ground of the
+Champ de Mars, preparing it for the fête of the Federation.
+That day France was united: animated by the new spirit, she had a vision
+of the future in the working in common of the soil.
+And it will again be by the working in common of the soil that the
+enfranchised societies will find their unity and will obliterate the
+hatred and oppression which has hitherto divided them.
+Henceforth, able to conceive solidarity--that immense power which
+increases man's energy and creative forces a hundredfold--the new
+society will march to the conquest of the future with all the vigour of
+Ceasing to produce for unknown buyers, and looking in its midst for
+needs and tastes to be satisfied, society will liberally assure the life
+and ease of each of its members, as well as that moral satisfaction
+which work gives when freely chosen and freely accomplished, and the joy
+of living without encroaching on the life of others.
+Inspired by a new daring--born of the feeling of solidarity--all will
+march together to the conquest of the high joys of knowledge and
+A society thus inspired will fear neither dissensions within nor enemies
+without. To the coalitions of the past it will oppose a new harmony, the
+initiative of each and all, the daring which springs from the awakening
+of a people's genius.
+Before such an irresistible force "conspiring kings" will be powerless.
+Nothing will remain for them but to bow before it, and to harness
+themselves to the chariot of humanity, rolling towards new horizons
+opened up by the Social Revolution.
+ A new enlarged edition of it has been published by Thomas Nelson
+and Sons in their "Shilling Library."
+ Consult "La Répartition métrique des impôts," by A. Toubeau, two
+vols., published by Guillaumin in 1880. (We do not in the least agree
+with Toubeau's conclusions, but it is a real encyclopædia, indicating
+the sources which prove what can be obtained from the soil.) "La Culture
+maraîchere," by M. Ponce, Paris, 1869. "Le Potager Gressent," Paris,
+1885, an excellent practical work. "Physiologie et culture du blé," by
+Risler, Paris, 1881. "Le blé, sa culture intensive et extensive," by
+Lecouteux, Paris, 1883. "La Cité Chinoise," by Eugène Simon. "Le
+dictionnaire d'agriculture," by Barral (Hachette, editor). "The
+Rothamstead Experiments," by Wm. Fream, London, 1888--culture without
+manure, etc. (the "Field" office, editor). "Fields, Factories, and
+Workshops," by the author. (Thomas Nelson & Sons.)
+ Summing up the figures given on agriculture, figures proving that
+the inhabitants of the two departments of Seine and Seine-et-Oise can
+live perfectly well on their own territory by employing very little time
+annually to obtain food, we have:--
+ DEPARTMENTS OF SEINE AND SEINE-ET-OISE
+ Number of inhabitants in 1889 3,900,000
+ Area in acres 1,507,300
+ Average number of inhabitants per acre 2.6
+ Areas to be cultivated to feed the inhabitants (in acres):--
+ Corn and Cereals 494,000
+ Natural and artificial meadows 494,000
+ Vegetables and fruit from 17,300 to 25,000
+ Leaving a balance for houses, roads, parks, forests 494,000
+ Quantity of annual work necessary to improve and cultivate
+ the above surfaces in five-hour workdays:--
+ Cereals (culture and crop) 15,000,000
+ Meadows, milk, rearing of cattle 10,000,000
+ Market-gardening culture, high-class fruit 33,000,000
+ Extras 12,000,000
+ Total 70,000,000
+If we suppose that only half of the able-bodied adults (men and women)
+are willing to work at agriculture, we see that 70 million work-days
+must be divided among 1,200,000 individuals, which gives us fifty-eight
+work-days of 5 hours for each of these workers. With that the population
+of the two departments would have all necessary bread, meat, milk,
+vegetables, and fruit, both for ordinary and even luxurious consumption.
+To-day a workman spends for the necessary food of his family (generally
+less than what is necessary) at least one-third of his 300 work-days a
+year, about 1,000 hours be it, instead of 290. That is, he thus gives
+about 700 hours too much to fatten the idle and the would-be
+administrators, because he does not produce his own food, but buys it of
+middlemen, who in their turn buy it of peasants who exhaust themselves
+by working with bad tools, because, being robbed by the landowners and
+the State, they cannot procure better ones.