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Title: Socialism, Revolution and Internationalism
Author: Deville, Gabriel, 1854-1940
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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    | Inconsistent hyphenation in the original document has     |
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  Socialism, Revolution
  and Internationalism




  Translated by





Socialism, revolution, internationalism--these are the three subjects
regarding which I beg your permission to say what--with no pretence of
being infallible--I believe to be the truth. At the risk of telling
you nothing new, I will simply try to speak truth. Those who reproach
the socialists for constantly repeating the same thing, have, no
doubt, the habit of accommodating the truth to suit their taste for
variety. On the other hand, to talk of socialism is to do what
everyone else is doing at this time, but I will speak to you of it
from the standpoint of a socialist, and--unhappily--that is not as yet
equally common.

The signal and distinctive mark of modern socialism is that it springs
directly from the facts. Far from resting on the imaginary conceptions
of the intellect, from being a more or less utopian vision of an ideal
society, socialism is to-day simply the theoretical expression of the
contemporaneous phase of the economic evolution of humanity.

At this point we are met with two objections.

On the one hand, because we say that socialism springs from the facts,
we are accused of denying the influence of the Idea and the liberal
defenders of the Idea rise up in revolt; they can calm themselves
again. How could we deny the influence of the Idea, when socialism
itself is as yet, as I have just pointed out, only a theoretical
expression, _i.e._, an idea, which we nevertheless believe has a
certain influence?

We merely assert that a truth, irrevocably established by science as a
valid generalization, does not cease to be a truth when it is applied
to human history and socialism. This truth is the action of the
environment: all living beings are the product of the environment in
which they live. To the environment, in the last analysis, to the
relations necessarily created by the multiple contacts, actions and
reactions of the environment and the environed are due all the
transformations of all organisms and, in consequence, all the
phenomena that emanate from them. Thought is one of these phenomena,
and, just like all the others, it has its source in actual facts. To
say that socialism springs from the facts, is then simply to place the
socialist idea on the same plane with all other ideas. In socialism,
as in all subjects, the idea is the reflex in the brain of the
relations of man with his surroundings, and the greater or less
aptitude of the brain for acquiring, retaining and combining ideas,
constitutes intelligence. The latter, in making various combinations
out of the elements provided by the environment, may obviously lose
sight of the reality which serves as its foundation, but our socialism
aims never to depart from the data drawn from unbiased observation of
the facts.

We are accused, on the other hand, because we believe that the
economic question contains the whole of socialism, of denying the
existence and influence of the intellectual factor, the sentimental
factor, the psychological factor--in short, a whole collection of
factors. Now, as I am going to try to show you, our only error, if it
is an error, is that we wish to put the cart behind the horse, and to
accuse us of wishing to suppress the cart because we refuse to put it
in front or alongside of the horse, proves, at once, the incontestable
desire to find us at fault, and the difficulty of gratifying that

Man, as I said just now, is the product of the environment. But, to
the influence of the cosmic or natural environment, which affects all
beings, there was soon joined in his case the influence of the special
environment created by him, an environment resulting from the acquired
means of action, from the material of the tools used, from the
conditions of life added by him to those furnished him by nature, or
else substituted for them, the influence, in a word, of the economic
environment, an influence which has gradually become predominant
because the conditions of life, determining in all orders of society
man's mode of life, have finally become less and less dependent upon
the purely physical capabilities of the cosmic environment, and more
and more dependent upon the means of action acquired by human
exertions, upon the artificial capabilities of the economic
environment, upon human thought materialized in various innovations.

We find at the foundation of everything affecting man the influence of
the natural and economic environments, and, if it is quite true that
we recognize the preponderant influence of the economic environment,
it is passing strange to accuse us of not recognizing the action of
human intelligence, which we assert is the creator of this
environment. Only we do not forget that, at any stage of development
whatever, intelligence does nothing by its creations except to
elaborate the elements which it finds "ready made," as it were, in the

Therefore, intelligence can, by working with the elements furnished by
the existing environment, produce a change in this environment. This
new environment thus changed becomes the determining environment of
future intelligence. You see that, far from degrading the role of
intelligence, we attribute to it a considerable importance; we only
refuse to see in it a spontaneous phenomenon.

Having replied to the reproach of not taking into consideration what
is called intelligence and is paraded as the intellectual factor, it
is scarcely necessary for me to honor with special replies all the
other factors mobilized against us, as they are all merely products of
intelligence. I will remark, however, that if it is true that we do
not deduce our theory from this association of factors, this does not
authorize the conclusion that morality, right, justice, psychology,
and sentiment are for us words devoid of meaning. To refuse to elevate
them to the rank of scientific proofs, which is what we do, and all
that we do, is not to deny them; it is simply to avoid employing them
for a use for which they are not and could not be destined. Because,
to uphold our theory, we prefer to have recourse to the observation of
facts and their tendencies, we have never proscribed the conception or
sentiment of justice as motives for adhesion to that very theory, and
we do not hesitate to declare that that which is unfitted to serve as
a scientific proof, may be utilized as a motive for action.

Moreover, even those who attribute to the "syndicate" of factors a
preponderating power over historical progress do not attribute to
intelligence a greater influence than we recognize as belonging to it.
In fact, the controversy here is not concerning the influence of
ideas. The controversy arises when we attempt to determine which ideas
are influential. On either side it is simply a matter of choosing from
among the products of intelligence. Our opponents insist upon the
claims of the factors in combination, instead of recognizing, as do
we, the predominant influence of the ideas which clothe themselves in
the phenomenal form of acts, such as inventions, etc., which lead to
the modification of the economic environment and consequently, as we
believe, to the modification of man himself, in his mode of life
first, in his habits and methods of thought afterward.

As soon as it is seen that the transformation of the economic
conditions, of the conditions of life, is the fundamental
transformation, that upon which all the others are more or less
dependent, it will be recognized that to say that socialism is simply
the expression of the contemporaneous phase of economic conditions is
not to narrow, in the slightest degree, its field of action, but only
to define more accurately its immediate goal. The affirmation that
there is in progress an evolution of the economic environment implies
necessarily a corresponding evolution of the various branches of human
knowledge, which are all influenced by this environment, just as the
apple-tree implies the apple without its being necessary to speak of
the integral apple-tree.[1] If socialism is contained "in a purely
economic formula," it is just as the apple-tree is contained in the
seed. Let us be vigilant to see that this "economic formula" and this
seed are not thwarted in their normal development, and we shall have
all the fruits that may be desired, even if we refrain from heaping
qualifying or complemental adjectives upon the apple-tree and

Some have thought that they have discovered an argument against this
predominance of the economic environment and of the economic question,
in the fact that some events which are not economic in nature--and
they cite, most frequently, the invention of gunpowder and the
revocation of the edict of Nantes--have had a great influence on human
history. They forget that, if such or such an important event was not
directly in itself an economic phenomenon, it is chiefly by the
consequences that it had from the economic point of view that it
became important; like all human discoveries, all historic events, it
reached a point where it became a modifying element of the economic

To recapitulate, if we insist upon the influence of the surroundings,
and, particularly, upon the preponderant influence of the economic
environment--the creation of man--this does not justify representing
us as attributing an exclusive influence to the economic environment
and as holding that this environment itself is created and influenced
only by facts properly classed as economic.

I return then to my first proposition: socialism must have and has for
its foundation the economic environment, the economic facts. What are
those facts?


[1] A word is needed to make the force of this sarcasm clear to
American readers. There was formed around the late Benoît Malon, the
founder of _La Revue Socialiste_, a small but very intelligent and
influential school of socialists, who loved (and still love) to prate
about the inadequacy of Marxism, its neglect of various "factors,"
etc., etc. They regard Marxian economics as being true so far as they
go, but as constituting a very inadequate and incomplete socialism,
which it was reserved for them, by a beneficent Providence, to
complete. Their own socialism they call "integral socialism." We have
their like in America--men who use Marxian ammunition and belittle


In order for man, who can live only on condition that he works, to be
able to perform any sort of work, he must have at his disposition the
instruments and the subject of labor. Now, these tools and this
material, in one word, the means of labor, are, more and more,
becoming the property of the capitalists. Those who are despoiled of
the means of utilizing in work their own labor-power (or physical
capacity for work) are, henceforth, compelled, being unable to live
otherwise, to sell the use of that power to the capitalists who hold
in their possession the things indispensable for labor. Through their
possession of the things indispensable for the functioning of
labor-power, the capitalists are, in fact, masters of all who cannot
utilize their own power themselves, nor live without utilizing it.
From this economic dependence flows the existence of distinct classes,
distinct in spite of the civil and political equality of their
members; and, as the capitalist regime expropriates the Middle Class
more and more, it tends to accentuate the division of society into two
principal classes: on the one hand, those who control the means of
labor; on the other, those for whom the actual use of those means is
the sole possibility of life.

I will ask you to note that I speak of classes and not of orders or
estates, because these last expressions imply a legal demarcation
between the categories of persons which they indicate; while the word
_class_ simply denotes, according to Littré,[2] the "grades
established among men by the diversity and inequality of their
circumstances." This is the reason that some among us refuse to make
use of the expression "Fourth Estate." There are no longer any
Estates, it is true, but it is not the less true that there still are
classes. As no one among us any longer dares to approve of their
existence, to deny it is the only way to avoid combatting it. And so
it is this denial that is resorted to by those adversaries of
socialism whose only weapons are falsehood and hypocrisy. Socialists
are not the cause of the existence of classes because they recognize
their existence. They limit themselves to establishing that which has
been, that which is and that which is destined to be: the origin of
classes, their present persistence and their approaching

       *       *       *       *       *

As soon as, thanks to the development of the faculties of man and to
his industrial discoveries, the productivity of labor became great
enough for an individual to be able to produce more than was
indispensable for his maintenance, the division of society into two
great classes, the exploiters and the exploited, was effected. And
this division had its justification, so long as production was not
sufficient to render comfort for all a possibility. But, thanks to
machinery and to scientific appliances which facilitate labor, while
vastly multiplying the supply of articles of consumption, the
exhausting labor of the masses and the monopolization of comfort by a
minority can henceforth give place, must henceforth give place, and
will give place in a future which no longer seems distant, to the
universalization of labor and its inevitable consequence, the
universalization of comfort and of leisure, that is to say, to social
conditions under which there will be no classes, because their
existence will (as now) serve no useful end as it has done in the
past. We will soon see that our present ruling class, far from being
useful, is already becoming baneful.

To-day, if the existence of distinct classes has, apparently, lost all
legal sanction, it is just as real a fact as ever. To deny it, one
must have--pardon me the expression, but I can find no other defining
as accurately this state of mind--the desire to play the fool, or the
interest to do so. It is impossible to deny seriously that a part of
the population is, in fact, through the form of the economic
relations, through their material self-interest, through their need of
food, placed in a position of dependence upon another portion of the
population, and that there is an antagonism between those who must
struggle to exist by working and those who can bargain out to them the
means of labor.[3]

By proclaiming the existence of classes and their antagonism, by
divulging that antagonism, which is not their work, on the political
rostrum, socialists are not creating factitious distinctions, they are
not resuscitating and do not dream of resuscitating any of the social
forms so fortunately and so energetically annihilated by the French
Revolution, they are only adapting themselves to the situation as it
presents itself to them now.

In fact, modern industry is forcing the workers more and more every
day to comprehend the necessity of association or combination in their
disputes with the possessors of the means of labor, and thus the
interests to be defended have to the workers less and less the false
aspect of individual interests; they appear to them in their naked
reality as class interests. Born of strikes, of coalitions of every
kind imposed upon them by the customs and conditions of life in a
capitalist society, their class activity soon takes an a political
character. To this then are due the working-class agitations resulting
in the recognition of political equality and the establishment of
universal suffrage. In possession of political rights, the workingmen
are obviously led to make use of these rights in behalf of their own
interests. Inevitably, therefore, the political struggle is becoming
more and more a class struggle which cannot end until the political
power, in the hands of the workingmen, shall at last place the State
at the service of the interests of all the exploited, and thus enable
the latter to proceed to the economic reforms which will lead to the
disappearance of classes as a direct consequence.

Therefore, the Class Struggle is not an invention of the socialists,
but the very substance of the facts and acts of history in the making
that are daily taking place under their eyes.


[2] The French Webster.

[3] "In fact the different classes dove-tail into each other, and
there are always between two classes a multitude of unclassifiable
hybrids, belonging wholly to neither class, in part to both."--Karl


We know that those whose activity is subordinate in its exercise to a
capital which they have not--and these compose the working-class--are
compelled to sell their labor-power to some of the possessors of this
capital who form, on their side, the bourgeois[4] class.

What is sold by him who has to labor in order to live, and who has not
in his possession the means of labor, to the possessor of those means
is simply labor in the potential state, that is the muscular or
intellectual faculties that must be exerted in the production of
useful things. In fact, on the one hand, before these faculties are
brought into active exercise, labor does not exist and cannot be sold.
Now, the contract is made between the buyer and the seller before any
action takes place and has for its effective cause, so far as the
seller is concerned, the fact that the seller is so situated that he
can not by himself bring his capacity for labor into productive use.
On the other hand, as soon as the action (labor) begins, as soon as
labor manifests itself, it cannot be the property of the laborer, for
it consists in nothing but the incorporation of a thing which the
laborer has just alienated by sale--capacity to perform labor--with
other things which are not his--the means of production.

To sum up, when the labor does not exist, the laborer can not sell
that which he does not possess and which he has not the means of
realizing; when the labor does exist, it can not be sold by the
laborer to whom it does not belong. The only thing which the laborer
can sell is his labor-power, a power distinct from its function,
labor, just as the power of marching is distinct from a parade, just
as any machine is distinct from its operations.

What is paid under the form of wages by the possessor of the means of
labor, the purchaser of the labor-power to the possessor of that
power, cannot, therefore, be, and is not, the price of the labor
furnished, but is the price of the power made use of, a price that
supply and demand cause to oscillate about and especially below its
value determined, like the value of any other commodity, by the
labor-time socially necessary for its production, or in other words,
in this case by the sum which will normally enable the laborer to
maintain and perpetuate his labor-power under the conditions necessary
for the given kind and stage of production.

But, even when the laborer gets a value equal to the value of his
power, he furnishes a value greater than that which he receives. The
duration of labor required for a given wage, regularly exceeds the
time necessarily occupied by the laborer in adding to the value of the
means of production consumed, a value equal to that wage; and the
labor thus furnished over and above that which represents the
equivalent of what the laborer gets, constitutes _surplus-labor_.

And here let us be clearly understood. When we speak of unpaid labor,
we are stating a simple fact, and do not at all intend to say that
capitalists, in the existing state of things, are personally guilty of
extracting from the laborers labor for which they do not pay them. We
are not of the number of those who think that "the causes of the ills
from which we suffer are to be found in men rather than institutions,"
as M. Glasson declared before the members of the Le Play School. We
say exactly the contrary; for us the evil is due to institutions
rather than to men and, in society as it is at present constituted,
things cannot possibly take place in any other or different fashion.

On the side of the laborer, the thing sold, as I have proved, cannot
be his labor. It is his labor-power. The sum paid cannot be the price
of his labor. It is the price of his labor-power, a price which, in
view of the number of applicants for work, can only very rarely be
equal to its value; but, even in this case, he furnishes a greater
value than he receives. If he does not, his remuneration is not,
strictly speaking, wages, for the furnishing of surplus-labor by the
worker is a condition _sine qua non_ of wages. When his compensation
is split up into wages and supplementary remuneration under the form
of profit-sharing or under any other form, the workingman does not
furnish less surplus-labor, less unpaid labor; quite the contrary, we
may say, for it is clear that this supplementary remuneration, for the
laborer, is a mere delusion, mere supplementary moon-shine. All that
the workingman can hope to achieve, under, I repeat, the existing
organization of society, is the curtailment of his surplus-labor, and
that is the explanation and justification of the struggle for the
reduction of the working-day, of the Eight Hours movement.

On the side of the capitalist, on account of the fierce war of
competition with low prices as weapons which rages throughout the
field of production, it is financial suicide for the employer to
extract from his work-people less unpaid labor than his competitors
do; and that is why it is necessary to strive to obtain the reduction
of the day by legal enactment. I add that so long as the employer, so
long as the capitalist keeps within the bounds of what may be called
the normal conditions of exploitation, he cannot reasonably be held
responsible for the economic structure which is so advantageous to
him, but which the best of intentions on the part of individuals would
be powerless to modify. On the other hand, if capitalists are
personally powerless to ameliorate the state of affairs, it would be
rash to rush to the conclusion that they are capitalists in the
interest of the workers. We must avoid exaggeration in either

Surplus-labor was not invented by the capitalists. Ever since human
societies issued from the state of primitive communism, surplus-labor
has always existed; and it is the method by which it is wrung from the
immediate producers, which differentiates the different economic forms
of society.

Before man was able to produce in excess of his needs, one portion of
society could not live upon the fruits of the toil of another portion.
How could a man work gratuitously for others when his entire time was
barely sufficient to procure him his own necessary means of
existence? When, in consequence of human progress, labor had acquired
such a degree of productiveness that an individual was enabled to
produce more than what was strictly necessary for his needs, it became
possible for some to subsist upon the toil of others and slavery could
be established.

That it was established by force is not doubtful; but it must be
confessed that its establishment promoted human evolution. So long as
the productiveness of labor, although sufficient to make surplus-labor
possible, was not sufficient to render participation in directly
useful labor compatible with other occupations or pursuits, the
toilsome drudgery and exploitation of some was the necessary condition
of the leisure of others, and, thereby, of the development of all.
For, if none had had leisure, no progress could have been made in the
sciences, the arts and all the branches of knowledge, the benefits of
which we all enjoy in some degree. And the fact that the thinkers of
antiquity and the greatest among them, Aristotle, excused slavery, is
a proof that the mode of thought is determined by the exigencies of
the economic organization of society. To reproach Aristotle, in
particular, because he did not regard slavery and property as it is
natural for us to regard them, is equivalent to reproaching him for
not having applied the processes of our modern production to ancient

Slavery did not appear to lack a rational foundation, and did not
begin to disappear until the external conditions were profoundly
transformed and thus rendered another kind of labor and of
surplus-labor more in harmony with the material requirements.
Following upon the economic environment in which slavery was the rule
there came then the economic environment in which serfdom
predominated, and the latter, in its turn, has been superseded by the
economic environment in which the wage-system has become the general
rule. Each of these environments has had or has its own habits and
modes of thought which may be in contradiction with ours, but which
are the natural consequences of the modes of life in vogue in their
respective eras.

An examination of the aspect of surplus-labor in these three
environments shows that it has the appearance of being all labor in
the first, a larger or smaller fraction of the whole labor in the
second, and apparently falls to zero in the third. In fact, in
slavery, during a part of the day, the slave only replaces the value
of what he consumes and so really works for himself; notwithstanding,
even then his labor appears to be labor for his owner. All his labor
has the appearance of surplus-labor, of labor for others. Under
serfdom or the _corvée_ system, the labor of the serf for himself and
his gratuitous labor for his feudal lord are perfectly distinct, the
one from the other; by the very way in which the labor is performed,
the serf distinguishes the time during which he works for his own
benefit from the time which he is compelled to devote to the
satisfaction of the wants of his lordly superiors. Under the
wage-system, the wage-form, which appears in the guise of direct
payment of labor, wipes out every visible line of demarcation between
paid labor and unpaid labor; when he receives his wages, the laborer
seems to get all the value due to his labor, so that all his labor
takes on the form or appearance of paid labor. While, under slavery,
the property-relation conceals the labor of the slave for himself,
under the wage-system the money-relation conceals the gratuitous labor
of the wage-worker for the capitalist. You will readily perceive the
practical importance of this disguised appearance of the real relation
between labor and capital. The latter is deemed to breed or expand by
its own virtue, and the former to receive its full remuneration.


[4] In America where, since 1865, we have had no landed aristocracy,
bourgeois and wealthy are well nigh synonymous.--Tr.


Wage-labor as an economic form existed before the actual appearance of
industrial capital which in fact only dates from the day when
production by the aid of wage-labor became general. Capital, in fact,
is not a quality with which the means of production are naturally
endowed, which they have always had and which they are destined always
to have. It is a character which they possess only under definite
social conditions. The means of production are no more naturally
capital than a negro is naturally a slave. And when socialists talk of
suppressing capital and capitalists, those who do not wish to make a
ridiculous confusion, ought to remember that it is simply a question
of taking away from the means of production and those who hold
possession of them a character which they now have, and which can be
taken from them without destroying an atom of their material
substance, just as in suppressing slavery, it is not necessary, in
order to take away the slave-character from the negro, to kill the

For a long time capital was known only under the form of merchants'
capital and usurers' capital; for it was only, or almost only, under
those two forms that money bred its like, and it is this possibility
of money's breeding which constitutes capital. This possibility could
not exist, except as an exceptional fact, for money invested in the
means of production, so long as industry remained more or less
domestic in character. In order for capital to spread beyond the
domain of commerce in goods and money and appear in the domain of
production, it was necessary for the wealth accumulated in commerce
and usury to effect on a large scale the concentration of the
scattered petty producers and their petty individual tools; the
workshop had to be enlarged; it was necessary to bring together a
large number of workers working at the same time, in the same place,
under the orders of the same "captain of industry," in producing on a
large scale the same kind of commodity, and to find for the disposal
of the latter a sufficiently extended market.

The money advanced in production can, in fact, realize an appreciable
profit by the sale of the objects produced, only when its possessor is
able to realize a certain quantity of surplus-labor; now, to
accomplish this he must have a certain number of laborers. For it is
the surplus-labor realized, we know, that forms the excess of the
value produced over that of the money laid out in production, or, in
other words, the surplus-value which incessantly swells the capital
and continually increases its power to dominate labor.

The capitalist mode of production, the mode of production in which the
means of labor function as capital, owes to capital its specific
character, which is its power of making money breed money, of giving
birth to surplus-value. The capitalist purchaser of labor-power has
only one object, viz., to enrich himself by making his money breed or
expand, by the process of making commodities containing more labor
than he pays for, and by selling which he therefore realizes a value
greater than that of the sum of the advances or outlays made.

If, since the productiveness of labor has made it possible, one part
of society has, under various economic forms, been forced to add to
the labor-time required for its own support, a certain amount of
surplus-labor-time, for which it has received no equivalent and the
benefit of which has been enjoyed by another part of society, it is
likewise true that so long as the aim of production was to enable the
privileged class to appropriate the means of consumption and
enjoyment, the surplus-labor of the immediate producers reached its
limit with the full satisfaction of those needs and desires, as
extensive as they might be, to gratify which was the object of this
appropriation. But as soon as it becomes a question of obtaining,
instead of a certain mass of products, the production at any cost of
surplus-value, the incessant multiplication of money, the possessor of
the means of production strives relentlessly to make those means of
production absorb the greatest possible quantity of surplus-labor.

If this insatiable thirst for and headlong pursuit of surplus-value
has been for the laborers and their families the cause of an
exploitation of their labor-power, more burdensome than any form of
exploitation previously known, it must be recognized that it has
contributed to the development of the means of production. It is with
capital as with slavery. Both, sources of sufferings for their
victims, they have been, on the whole, sources of progress for
humanity. The history of human progress is far from being an idyl. Our
too forgetful and too proud civilization is the result of a long
series of torments and miseries endured by the nameless and forgotten

Therefore capital has had its utility, and the era of capitalist
production constitutes a great step forward in the evolution of the
productive powers. Beginning with the enlargement of the small guild
workshop, passing through action in common, the co-operation of a
large number of laborers in the enlarged workshop through the
manufacturing stage, by the division of labor within the workshop, by
the introduction and general adoption of the machine-tool, by the
employment of steam as a motive power, capitalist production has
finally developed into modern mechanical industry which has
revolutionized the mode of production more radically than had any
previous change. It is its continuous and radical alteration of the
technical processes which distinguishes the capitalist period from all
the preceding periods, and prevents it from having the relatively
permanent conservative character which they had.


What are the results of these revolutions in industrial methods, and
what are their tendencies?

Machinery is more and more seizing upon all industries, and, instead
of making use of his tool, the laborer is the servant of the machine.
The relative ease of work of this kind makes it possible to substitute
unskilled labor for skilled labor, women and children for men. By thus
throwing men out of work, the instrument of labor lowers wages and
expropriates the laborer from his means of existence. This machinery,
thanks to which the genius of Aristotle foresaw the possibility of the
emancipation of the slave, has as yet been merely a cause of
enslavement, and just as man is moulded by the economic environment
which is his own work, he is here enslaved by his own product.

With the extension of the system of mechanical industry, the product
ceases more and more to be the work of an individual. The individual
by himself alone no longer makes a product, but a fraction of a
product, and the owner no longer works with his instrument of labor,
or, in other words, uses his property himself, but turns this task
over to a certain number of laborers, to a group of wage-slaves. Thus,
when the possessor of a hand-saw works with it, the owner uses his
own property; with the machine-saw, it is used not by the owner, but
by the laborers, whom he has to employ to operate it. While the
operation of the means of production so largely augmented requires the
common action of a host of workers, the undertakings and
establishments grow to such dimensions that the vast sums of capital
necessary for their conduct are not to be found in the hands of a
single capitalist. Having become too gigantic for a single capitalist,
the title or nominal ownership of these means of production, and along
with it the profits, passes from the individual capitalist to an
association of capitalists, to a company of stockholders. This company
actually has, considered as a collective body, a particular tangible
property; but what does this property represent for each individual
shareholder? A fiction. The individual stockholder cannot lay his
finger upon any particular material object and say: that is mine.

While the means of production are thus ceasing to be in the strict
sense private property, and require for their actual operation a
collective body of laborers, while the product is becoming a social
product, the owners of the means of production and the products, are
becoming shareholders, and thus ceasing to perform any useful
function, to have any real utility. The success of a business in
former times depended upon the energy and skill of its proprietor,
just as it sometimes does to-day in small manufacturing or mercantile
establishments. Since the introduction of stock companies, the
producing organism is no longer affected by the personal traits of
those who own it; it does not know the shareholder, the present
multiple proprietor, any more than the latter knows his property; it
functions independently of him, and does not feel his influence, so
that even a change of ownership has no effect upon it. The former
functions of the proprietor are at the present time performed by
wage-workers, trained engineers or managers, more or less well paid,
but still wage-workers. In place of the managing proprietor, we have
then a salaried manager, and he is a better manager because he is only
a salaried employee, as M. de Molinari admits, when he writes: "All
that is requisite is for him to possess the ability, knowledge and
character demanded for his functions, and these are all qualities
which are more easily and cheaply obtained on the market, divorced
from capital than united to it."[5]

Not only is the proprietary class, "the haves," losing all social
utility, but, more than this, it is becoming baneful through its
exclusive pre-occupation with personal profits. Baneful it is
henceforth for all branches of social production which the mad and
unorganized pursuit of profits subjects to disastrous perturbations,
to periodical crises swamping the market and lasting amid failures and
shut-downs until the outlets for goods once more open up; baneful for
all the workers, worked to utter exhaustion in periods of business
activity and reduced to wretched poverty in periods of industrial
depression, during which they suffer from want of everything, because
there is, relatively to the purchasing power of the people, too much
of everything--(here we see once more the creator dominated by the
creation, the producers by their products, just as in the cases
formerly noticed of the human intelligence and the economic
environment, of the machine and the workman); baneful for all
consumers, who are victims of the adulteration of products begotten by
the mad strife for gain; baneful for the petty capitalists, the small
producers in constant danger of bankruptcy and ruin through the
intensity of the war of competition which always results in the
victory of the great capitalists or the great combinations of capital
(trusts, etc.).

To recapitulate, our economic movement tends toward labor in common,
since the operation of the means of production is passing from the
working-proprietor to a collective group of laborers, and toward the
elimination of the mode or form of private or individual ownership of
the means of production, since the nominal property in them is passing
from the individual proprietor to a collective body of shareholders
(stock-company or trust). It also tends to leave the proprietary class
no useful role or function, thus making them for the future not only
superfluous, but baneful.

At the same time that the organization of labor adapted to the present
form and state of the productive forces is escaping from the hands of
the proprietary class and is thus the signal that the close of its
historic career is at hand, it is concentrating and organizing men
everywhere in the same way that it concentrates material wealth. It
brings the laborers together and leads them, through their identity in
position and interests, to combine in groups or unions, it constitutes
them into a class more and more conscious of its situation,
disciplines their masses systematically arranged and graded in each
industrial establishment, and fashions out of their own ranks an
intellectual aristocracy upon which devolves the function of
super-intending and managing all industries.

And while the individual form of their petty tools or instruments of
labor, and their mode of production which keeps them in independent
isolation, engender in the workers in petty industries ideas too
individualistic and egoistic, wherever modern mechanical industry has
already wrested from the laborer his tool and transformed it into a
mechanical apparatus effacing individuality from the labor-process,
wherever individual labor merges into and blends with collective
labor, wherever the technical processes are such that the task of each
is of service only through the participation (co-operation) of all,
and is itself the condition of the performance of the collective task,
the strictly individualistic tendencies of the producers in the petty
industries are replaced by the spirit of solidarity, which, with the
progress of industrial development, is leading--nay, forcing the
working class every day more and more toward socialist ideas, ideas
which spring from the material necessities which inexorably force
their way into the minds of men.

These are facts against which our personal preferences are of no
avail. The material and intellectual elements of the collective (or
co-operative) form of production, elaborated by the capitalist regime,
are thus developing more and more every day, and socialism is, you
see, the natural consequence of existent conditions. It is not
something imported from abroad and added to our social movement,
neither is it an article of export good for any sort of economic
environment; it is the rigorous consequence of a certain orderly
sequence of facts, the result of a definite evolution whose progress
it has noted, but which has taken place independently of it; it has
not created it because it has been conscious of its existence.

And so, as M. Paul Leroy-Beaulieu recognizes: "the field of modern
mechanical industry is extending its boundaries more and more, and it
is difficult to see what limits can be set to its possible extension."
Now it is modern industry which lays bare the antagonisms immanent in
capitalist production, and at the same time renders their destruction
possible. The historic role of capital has been the development of the
productive powers, and, in the process of developing them, it has
created the weapons which are destined to kill it. Necessary during a
certain stage of economic development, it is not eternal, but
inevitably comes to an end with a change in the relations of the means
of production to the producers.


[5] L'Evolution économique, p. 38.


The preparation and training of the working-class (for their high
functions) by the productive powers, the growing and inevitable
development and crystallization of the collective tendencies of the
latter, the increasing incompatibility between their essential
character and their private ownership, all lead to a new economic
regime in which they will be owned and controlled collectively just as
they are operated collectively, in which they will be conducted by
society and for society. And all the socialism of the socialists
consists of wishing to perpetuate in a fully developed form the
present social character of the material conditions of life.

I say socialism of the socialists because we have seen flourish in our
day a peculiar socialism, the socialism of those good people who
earnestly wish to remove the inconveniences and injustices of our
present social state, but who also wish a little more earnestly to
preserve the cause of these inconveniences, who wish at once to
suppress or abolish the proletariat and to preserve the capitalist
form of society. It is quite possible for socialism also to have its
converts and even its backsliders; it asks its adherents, not whence
they come, but to go whither it is going, or, at least, to permit it
to proceed upon its road without attempting to turn it aside from it.
As one of our adversaries declares, we can say in our turn: 'On one
side are the socialists, on the other those who are not socialists,'
and among the latter may be counted those who accept the name while
rejecting the thing.

Apart from the socialization of the means of labor which have already
taken on a collective form, there may be and there often is
charlatanry, but there is no real possibility of emancipation, there
is no socialism.

So long as the means of labor and labor shall not be united in the
same hands, the means of labor will retain the character of capital,
and capital will inevitably exploit the workingman and wring from him
labor for which it will not pay him. The source of the troubles of the
working-class is to be found in their expropriation from the means of
labor; now, the harder they work on the established basis of
expropriation, the more power they give the capitalist class to enrich
themselves and to expropriate those who have not yet entered the inner
circle of capitalism. On the basis of the present gigantic forms of
the instruments of labor, the collective means of labor and labor
itself can be united in the same hands, only by the transformation of
the capitalist ownership of these means of labor into social
ownership, only by the transformation of capitalist production into
social production. The logical consequence of the material facts of
the existing environment, this transformation, the socialization of
the means of production having collective tendencies, is possible, and
it appears as the only practical method of emancipating the laborers,
of emancipating society as a whole.

Emancipated the laborers will be, since their lives will no longer be
dependent upon the means of labor monopolized by others and they will
be free to make their lives what they will. In fact, they will freely
choose the kind of productive labor they prefer, and all kinds of work
will, in accordance with the law of supply and demand, be reduced in
varying proportions to definite quantities of ordinary labor. After
once deducting from the product of the labor of each a portion which
will take the place of the present taxes, the portion necessary to
replace the means of labor consumed, to provide for the extension of
the scale of production, for insurance against disastrous
contingencies, such, for instance, as floods, lightning, tornadoes,
etc., for the support of those incapable of labor, to meet generously
the expenses of administration and of satisfying the common
requirements of sanitation, education, etc., the producers of both
sexes will distribute the balance among themselves, proportionally to
the quantity of ordinary labor furnished by them severally. The right
of each laborer will be equal, in the sense that for all, without
distinction, the labor furnished will be the measure alike for all,
and this equal right may possibly lead to an unequal distribution,
according to the greater or smaller quantities of labor furnished. The
standard of rights in force in an economic environment cannot be
superior in quality to that environment, but it will go on increasing
in perfection as the environment advances toward perfection, thus
reducing, so far as material conditions shall permit, the inequalities
of natural origin.

The important point is that, from the dawn of social production, there
will be no more surplus-labor, no more classes, and, therefore, no
more exploitation, as there inevitably is under capitalist production.
Every adult able to work will receive, under one form or another,
partly in articles for personal consumption, partly in social
guarantees, in public services of every kind, the same quantity of
labor that he shall give to society. If goods are rationed out, this
rationing will not be accompanied by exploitation; as rationing can
then be due only to a deficiency in personal or social production, and
not to the spoliation which the wage-system implies, a system under
which overproduction, far from being favorable to the satisfaction of
the demand of the working-class for articles of consumption, results
for them in loss of employment and starvation diet.

During the capitalist period, it suffices for socialism to establish
the possibility of the emancipation of the working-class and to work
for that emancipation. There is no occasion to waste time in working
out and settling the details of the organization of the future
society. Each epoch has its task. Let us not have the presumption to
lay down rules for those who are to come after us, and let us be
content with present duties. The point upon which socialism trains its
guns at present, though recognizing the utility that it has had in the
past, is the capital-form; but let us not forget that the substance
beneath this form will be every whit preserved. When an office is
taken away from an office-holder, the individual is left without a
hair the less. In the same way, in taking from the means of
production their function as capital, everything that functions
to-day under that form will remain intact. Socialism then attacks the
capital-form, the form only, and it attacks it only in so far as the
economic phenomena authorize such an attack. Everything which
constitutes the substance of capital will be preserved, the
capital-form alone will disappear and along with it that power that it
involves of exploiting the labor of others.

What will be the fate of the capitalists?

Capital appears to be a collective power or force, by its origin,
since it springs from the accumulated surplus-labor of a collective
body of laborers, by its functional activity since it also requires a
collective body of laborers to enable it to enter upon its functions,
and by its mode of ownership since, if it is private property, it
tends more and more to be the private property, not of an individual,
but of a collective body, a company or trust. To make public property
of the means of production, which are capital when they are able to
exploit the labor of others and which are capital only on that
condition, is simply to generalize the collective or social character
which they already have.

Is the holder of a share in a mining or railway company or any sort of
stock-company justified in speaking of "his" property? Where is his
property? In what does it consist? What can he show if someone asks to
see it? A machine? A piece of real estate? No, simply one or several
bits of paper which represent only an infinitesimal fraction of an
undivided whole. Would this shareholder be any the less a
property-owner, if this undivided whole should become an integrant
portion of the national property? Would there be such a great
difference between "his" property, as it now is, and his quota or
share in the national property? Just as the capitalists understand
well enough to-day how to avail themselves of the national forests,
for instance, for fresh air, pleasure excursions afoot and awheel,
recreation, etc., so, after the socialization of the material objects
that make up what is at present capital, they would use this newly
nationalized property as means of labor or production.

This, then, would be a true democratization[6] of property. The
process, ordinarily called by this name, the dispersion of shares,
stocks and bonds, is only the process--called legitimate--of
extracting good hard cash from all pockets, even those most scantily
supplied, centralizing it, monopolizing the real possession of it in
exchange for a certificate of nominal ownership, making it breed or
expand, and permitting to flow back in interest, dividends, etc., only
tiny crumbs until the day comes when the poor investors cease to get
even these microscopical returns. This pretended democratization of
property results simply in the formation of a financial aristocracy
creating scandalous fortunes out of the good dollars of the small
investors, and if these dollars, when the paper accepted in their
stead is no longer worth anything, are lost for their former
possessors, they are not lost for everyone. (They have become the
reward of "abstinence."--Translator.)

Let the stocks representing part-ownership in a company lose all
value--this is an occurrence that the shareholders and bondholders of
the Panama canal, for example, can tell you is not unknown in our
bourgeois society--and the shareholder finds himself, in this
instance, permitted to enjoy all the blessings of expropriation
without any indemnifying compensation; sometimes even he has the
delicate attention of an invitation from the Receiver or the Courts to
pour some more money into the hole where his former savings
disappeared. Now even in this case the owners of this sort of personal
property do not make too much ado about the matter. Why should they
complain any more bitterly on the day when there will be, as it were,
only a substitution of one kind of stocks or shares for another, when
they will all become stockholders and bondholders of the great society
(the Co-operative Commonwealth), instead of being shareholders and
bondholders in one or several little societies or companies?

By this transformation they will gain complete assurance against risk
of loss--a real enough danger to-day when, after the actual control of
property passes into the hands of financial magnates, the revenue of
the nominal owners, the stockholders, etc., falls to zero or nearly
zero, thus cutting off their means of existence or enjoyment. They
will lose only one thing: the power of dominating the labor of others
and of appropriating its fruits; while they will have the privilege of
enjoying the common wealth and the advantages springing from its
co-operative employment.

Healthy adults will take for their own use, provided they work, their
share of the social products. If they are already accustomed to any
kind of work, they will find no hardship in this obligation to perform
useful labor; if they are not accustomed to it, they will acquire the
habit and will find their health greatly improved thereby in every
respect. If they are old and infirm they will be liberally provided
for by society.

What they can reasonably expect and insist upon having is the
sustenance of life (in a broad sense),[7] and this they will have, as
you see, in any case. The socialization will not result in such a
change in the distribution of wealth as is often caused by watering
the stock of a company. It will simply extend to all, those who hold
stocks at present included, those advantages which a minority alone
enjoys to-day, and it will benefit all, but stockholders especially,
by doing away with those risks which capitalist exploitation forces
everyone to run.

       *       *       *       *       *

Finally, socialism will rob no one. I would ask those who assert the
contrary, what description then should be given to those transactions
in the goods and property of the nobility, the clergy and above all of
the communes, performed by our great radicals in the French
Revolution, by those whose work has become a "compass" for our
guidance. Just as soon as we cease simply substituting one privileged
class for another, just as soon as we enable all without exception to
enjoy the same advantages, no one will be robbed or deprived of
anything. Simply, inequality in the enjoyment of privilege will have
been abolished, another privileged class will have vanished from the
stage. Yes, the capitalists will lose, along with their special
privileges or rights over the means of production, that characteristic
or quality that makes them capitalists; but, I repeat, they will have
exactly the same rights as all others to the use and enjoyment of
those means of production, from that time forth the inalienable
property of society. With capital dethroned, the principles of the
Republic will at last be applied with controlling power to the field
of economics, just as they are to the field of politics, and political
democracy will have ceased to be a farce, for it will have developed
into its perfect flower, INDUSTRIAL DEMOCRACY.


[6] This is not an English word, but I will take the liberty of
borrowing it from the French.--Tr.

[7] "The world owes every man a living," is a common saying.


Far from being a material upheaval, the advent of socialism will be
simply the culmination of the economic evolution now going on. Born,
in its contemporaneous form, from the study of facts, socialism sees
in the facts the controlling elements of the modifications to be
effected. It makes no pretence of going in advance of the economic
phenomena, it limits itself to following them, to adapting itself to
conditions which it does not create and which it is not its part to
create. Now, if, in all those cases where the means of production are
already collectively owned by companies or trusts or are concentrated
in the hands of single individuals, they can be placed at the
disposition of ALL only by the substitution of society as a whole for
their present capitalist possessors, in those cases in which the form
of ownership of the means of labor is still truly individual, _i.e._,
where they are still in the hands of those who themselves directly
make use of them in actual work, it is not for society to force itself
into the place of the present proprietors. The purpose of the
interference of society, indeed, is to give, in the only form to-day
possible, the means of production to the laborers who have them not,
it is to restore the tools and materials of labor to those who have
been robbed of them. It is not its business, then, to interfere in
those cases where the laborers are still in possession of their tools
and materials. And so the peasant will retain the patch of land he
possesses and tills, the petty tools and implements will continue to
belong to the artisan-manufacturer who himself works with them, until
the facts shall lead them to renounce voluntarily this form of private
ownership, no longer to their advantage, in order to enjoy the far
more fruitful benefits of collective ownership and production.

Moreover, just as, in the capitalist period, the changes brought about
by the development of machinery re-acted upon even those branches of
production in which machinery had not as yet been introduced, by
developing, for example, in all branches the exploitation of women and
children, in the same way, the advantages of the socialization of the
means of production previously centralized by the capitalists, will
re-act upon the petty proprietors of the means of production not yet
socialized. The petty producer, who remains master of his own
instrument of labor, will, through the simultaneity and propinquity of
the embryonic co-operative commonwealth, get the help he needs.
Notably, he will be freed from the clutches of the financial middlemen
whose victim he is at present; his labor, freed from their
exploitation, will be in its turn emancipated, just as truly, although
in a different way, as will be the labor of those who, exploited
to-day because they lack the means of labor, will have these means,
socialized, placed at their free disposition. The result for all will
thus be the emancipation of labor, in the one case, by placing the
socialized means of labor at the free disposition of all laborers, in
the other, by leaving to the individual laborer his individual tool.
In both cases, the tools will be owned by those who use them.

And, though it displeases our opponents, this way of proceeding is
very logical, although it does not conform to their pretended
conception of logic. The logic of the Socialists does not consist in
forcing a solution demanded by a certain set of facts upon other facts
which do not yet require that solution, it does not consist in making
fish live out of the water because that mode of life agrees with men.
It consists in adapting itself in all cases to the environment, to the
facts, in always acting with reference to the facts, instead of
requiring the same kind of action in the face of different
combinations of facts. To those who assert that this position is in
conflict with the "pure dogma of the socialist church," you have only
to reply that there is neither a socialist church nor a socialist
dogma, but that there are far too many bourgeois imbeciles who attempt
to palm off ideas made by themselves out of the whole cloth as the
dogmas of socialism.

During the sixteen years that our socialist theory has been developing
in France, it has never varied upon the subject of the petty
producers. Those who assert the contrary follow their own imaginations
and not the facts. I defy them to prove that we have not always spoken
in the same way in regard, for example, to the small farms of the
peasants. They now accuse our opinion on this subject of opportunism,
using the word in its political meaning; they could, more correctly,
accuse us of having always professed opportunism, but this time using
the word in the sense implied by its derivation. You know how
necessary it is to avoid the confusion--opportune for some, it is
true--of the political meaning of a word with its true meaning. The
political radicals are far from being radical in the ordinary sense,
and their brothers (nominally opponents) the opportunists, instead of
wishing that which is opportune, find nothing opportune except the
satisfaction of their own appetites and the postponement of all else.
In the true meaning--the time has come to say it--of the word, there
cannot be a party more thoroughly opportunist than the socialist party
which--I will not cease repeating--must simply adapt itself to the
facts and which has no guide, save the facts, to point the way in the
transformation of property.

When we talk of the transformation of property which is nothing, as they
are obliged to confess, but "a social institution,"[8] our opponents,
with their strange fashion of doing us justice, change our words into
"suppression of property." "Socialists of all schools have decreed the
suppression of property"[9] is the notable affirmation of "a certain
number of young men, strangers hitherto to politics"[10]--this part of
the phrase is not mine, it is, possibly, the least open to criticism of
any part of the work of the young men in question, who have felt
impelled to speak on a question that they confess is foreign to them.
Their confession is superfluous; we would have readily perceived,
unaided, that they spoke of socialism after the fashion of those who
know nothing of it.

These young men, in founding the "_comité d'action de la gauche
libérale_,"[11] wrote: "We are partisans of individual liberty and of
individual property." I assume, until proof to the contrary is
forthcoming, that they are not partisans of these things for
themselves and their friends alone. If they advocate them for every
one, I beg them to tell us what they think of the liberty of the man
who has, as his source of livelihood, only his labor-power without the
means of utilizing it.

Either they recognize that every man ought to have the means of labor
at his disposal, and, in that case, I will ask them how, with the
system of mechanical industry, they hope to put at the disposal of all
these means so necessary to the liberty of all.

Or, they do not recognize that every man, to be free, must dispose of
the tools and materials of labor, and then I will ask them what
becomes of the liberty of the man to whom the employer can say: if you
do such or such a thing, if you do not accept such or such a thing,
you shall have no work, that is to say, it shall be impossible for you
to eat. And that they may not accuse me of describing hypothetical
cases blacker than nature, I will submit for their meditation the
following fact related by the _Temps_ (Times)[12] at the time of the
strike of Rive-de-Gier.

"An engine-stoker fell ill. He was replaced, all the time of his
illness, by a common laborer at 50 cents a day. The regular stoker
having gotten well, resumed his duties. He was completely surprised,
at the end of the fortnight, to receive only 50 cents a day, when he
had been paid, before his illness, 80 cents. He protested. 'There it
is. Take it or leave it,' he was told; 'we have found out that a
common laborer at 50 cents does this work just as well as you; we cut
you down to 50 cents. Get out or accept it.' The man had a family, and
choice was forbidden him. He accepted it."

In the face of such facts, M. Célestin Jonnart has the
assurance--which I will describe, returning one of the epithets he
applies to us, as "villainous"--to assert that the socialists "are
working for conditions which will produce generations of men who will
know nothing but abject submission and will be ready for every
degradation." These generations, sir, are not to be made; they are to
be raised from their degradation, and that is the task at which
socialism is working.

If I have cited only one fact, this is not because facts of this kind
are rare, it is because the one I have cited has the advantage of
coming from the _Temps_ which may be suspected of anything you like
except socialism. Then, besides proving how free the laborer is in his
choice, this fact shows how the free contract between capitalist and
laborer is concluded. When the stoker resumes his place, he naturally
imagines that he is resuming it upon the former conditions, and no one
undeceives him. On pay-day, which does not come till a fortnight
later, he perceives that he must conclude a new free contract
different from the one he had a right to believe in force, and accept
50 cents instead of the 80 cents expected and agreed upon.

Are these men free, the stoker and his like? I would gladly have on
this point the opinion of M. Léon Say who not long since posed as the
champion, against the socialists, of "human liberty and dignity." The
truth is that the laborer is free, only when, to the right of being
free, he joins the effective power of being free, only when he has at
his disposition the things necessary to the realization of his labor,
only, in other words, when he does not have to throw himself upon the
mercy of the possessors of those things. Whatever the law may say, the
man who depends upon another for his subsistence is not free. What is
requisite is to furnish means of labor to the laborers who have them
not; now, on the basis of the present form or character of these
means, society can assure possession of them to all, only when these
means shall have been socialized, shall have become social property.
As regards the laborers who still possess their means of labor, they
will retain them, as I explained just above. In fact, only through
socialism can individual liberty be made a reality for all.

It is the same with individual property as with individual liberty.
From all that I have just stated it is clear that the only property
that socialism wishes to transform, is the property no longer made use
of by the individual owners thereof; it is the property which is
formed by the agglomeration of petty scraps of property wrested from
the immense majority, and which exists only to the detriment of that
very majority.[13] And even in this case there will be no suppression,
since the present holders will be granted the use of their transformed
property on the same terms as others.

What, then, is the property of "those silent multitudes who toil and
struggle so hard for existence and who are in truth the artisans of
our greatness?"[14] Is not your capitalist society stripping them more
and more every day of the means of labor and of individually owned
dwellings, and leaving to them in individual ownership only the things
indispensable to the bare support of life? It is the capitalist regime
which, by increasing immeasurably the property of the few, contracts
the limits within which the personal acquirement of property by the
many is possible. It is the socialist regime which will increase this
possibility of the personal acquirement of property, by assuring to
each the share earned by his labor. It is only under the regime of
socialism that individual property will be a reality for all, as this
regime alone will suppress--though suppressing nothing else--the
possibility of using this property to exploit the labor of others.


[8] M. Célestin Jonnart.

[9] Déclaration du "Comité d'action de la gauche libérale."

[10] Idem.

[11] Committee of action of the Liberal Left.

[12] March 8, 1893, 2d page.

[13] "Political economy confuses on principle two very different kinds
of private property, of which one rests on the producers' own labor,
the other on the employment of the labor of others. It forgets that
the latter not only is the direct antithesis of the former, but
absolutely grows on its tomb only."--Marx, 1st vol. of _Capital_,
Humboldt Edition, page 488.

[14] M. Célestin Jonnart.


It appears that from the moment when it will no longer be possible to
exploit the individual, there will no longer be any individuality. At
least it so appears to the capitalists who deem that which does not
yield them a profit to be non-existent. To the socialists, on the
other hand, the existence of individuality appears dependent upon its
freedom. Now, as it is, as we have just seen, only in the socialist
period that all individuals will be able to have the means necessary
to true freedom, it follows that the triumph of socialism will be the
triumph of the individual, the blossoming of personality.[15] In the
socialist period, indeed, all those who shall wish to work will be
able to do so, by choosing freely their favorite kind of socially
useful labor, and all will be able to consume the social products
proportionally to the labor they have furnished. Will it not,
therefore, be to the interest of all to work, and to try to make the
work as little toilsome and as productive as possible? Is there not
here, apart from the joy of serving one's fellows, the most powerful
motive for emulation both as regards the quantity of labor
individually performed and in the invention or discovery of improved
processes tending to procure for each and all the maximum of benefits
in return for the minimum of exertion?

A certain degree of audacity is required to dare compare the producers
of the future under socialism, with the office-holders of to-day under
capitalism. What interest has the office-holder of to-day to reduce to
the minimum the cost to the State of the services it is his function
to perform? His salary, determined before any labor is performed, is
independent of the quantity and quality of his labor; and so the
office-holder, though full of righteous indignation against the
workingmen who wish to work only eight hours a day, seeks, on his own
part, to work just as little as possible, and he squanders and wastes
as much as possible, because extravagance never costs him a penny and
sometimes brings him in handsome rewards. While under the regime of
socialism, the personal interest of the individual will be in harmony
with the social interest of all, under the present system the personal
interests of the office-holders are in direct conflict with the
interest of the State. Under the regime of socialism, men, all men,
will be producers and not office-holders; they will not be
office-holders any more than are members of a family who, in order to
provide for the satisfaction of the needs of the family, perform
severally various functions.

       *       *       *       *       *

In conclusion, the whole question may be summed up thus: Is the spirit
of initiative and personal energy likely to be more broadly
disseminated among the masses, when the latter know that they are
compelled to make their own wretchedness the instrument of the
prosperity of a minority, or when they shall know that their own
prosperity will be whatever they, by their own labor, shall make it,
under a system of absolute equality of privilege? There can be no
doubt as to the answer in the minds of all those who are not too much
wonted to the denial of truth. But, under the regime of socialism,
initiative[16] and energy cannot promote personal interests alone;
while being more favorable than ever to those interests, they will
necessarily be advantageous to all. As soon as the material conditions
necessary for the attainment of individual prosperity shall also be
the conditions requisite for social prosperity, we shall see grow out
of this harmony a system of ethics based on the newly acquired
consciousness of social solidarity, and under this new morality the
action of the individual will have not only as its necessary though
indirect result, but also as its guiding principle, motive and goal,
the social or common interest, the greatest good of all.

It would seem that from this time forth all ought to unite their
efforts in order to hasten the dawn of the realization of a social
environment so advantageous to all. In fact, excepting a very small
minority of great financiers and capitalists, all those who work or
have worked with hand or brain, all have an interest in the triumph of
socialism; unfortunately all are not conscious of the undeniable
precariousness of the situation of all under the regime of capitalism,
and so do not see the advantage for all in transforming this regime
along the lines of its social tendencies, and many will stupidly
strive to prolong the state of things which is the cause of their

Socialism repels no one and is open to all those, without regard to
their social position, who comprehend its necessity. But, if it is far
from repelling them--striving indeed to attract them--it cannot count
in advance, generally speaking, on those who too readily become the
dupes of illusions begotten by a more or less privileged social
situation and who are unable to rise above their class prejudices
sufficiently to form a just conception of their own true interests.
While preparing the ground for socialism which is developing wherever
the capitalist mode of production has reached a certain stage, the
economic phenomena at the same time necessitate the economic and
political organization of the industrial[17] laborers, and they are
the class immediately and directly interested in the triumph of

Small industrial employers, artisans, retail merchants and working
owners of small farms have two-fold class-ties. They belong to the
possessing class, and yet they are exploited. When, under the empire
of a naive pride and vain hopes, the man proud of his possessions, the
would-be capitalist, dominates in them, they give heed to the dirty
blackguards who are forever telling them that the common laborer and
the socialist wish to take their little property away from them, and
they show a hostility which, in spite of their conservative
intentions, is aimed against those whom they ought to help if they
wish to be sure of retaining the little property they have. When,
under the lashes of the thong of stern reality they feel themselves
exploited and menaced with expropriation, they applaud the demands of
the socialists and help support--as has often been seen--the strikes
of the laborers. According to circumstances the middle class declares
itself in this way, now on one side, now on the other.

The industrial workingmen who own nothing but their labor-power and to
whom the possession, even in a dream, of the smallest estate is an
impossibility, cannot possibly conceive the false idea that they have
anything to lose by the victory of socialism. From that to thinking
that they have everything to gain by that victory is not far; for this
all that is needed is for them to be brought into contact with the
socialist propaganda. Therefore the principal mission of socialism is
to instruct and organize the multitudes of industrial laborers; they
must be won over the first of all. This which is, in fact, for the
middle class only a defensive war against the great capitalists
becomes an offensive war for the great majority of the industrial
laborers who have to conquer that which the middle class has only to

Because we say that socialism makes its appeal more particularly to
the industrial laborers, we beg our critics not to represent us as
saying that socialism ought to neglect the members of all other
classes. Socialism struggling for the emancipation--no longer
impossible--of all, combats in every rank or stratum of society all
exploitations and all oppressions, and it is the natural defender of
all the exploited and all the oppressed. Just as, to regard the
economic question as the sum and substance of militant socialism is
not, in our opinion, to restrict its field of action, but is simply,
on the contrary, to pursue directly the only line of conduct by which
it is possible for its efforts to produce broad general effects, so to
devote our attention first of all to the industrial laborers is not to
make light of the wrongs of the other victims of exploitation, but it
is to devote our first efforts to strengthening the active army of
socialism, formed of those who have to blaze out a path for the
movement, but whose success--which will be hastened by the support of
members of other classes--will assure the emancipation of all.


[15] "In place of the old bourgeois society with its classes and class
antagonisms we shall have an association in which the free development
of each is the condition for the free development of all."--Marx and
Engels, Communist Manifesto, page 43, New York, 1898, published by
Nat. Ex. Committee of the Socialist Labor Party.

[16] This word is used so exclusively in a technical sense by the
Direct Legislation faddists, it may be necessary to say it is here
used to denote originality and independent strength of mind, etc.--Tr.

[17] "Industrial," as used here, and, indeed, correctly, it should be
noted, does not include agricultural.--Tr.


Socialism and the party which incarnates it are begotten by the
economic transformations which are taking place under our eyes. If it
is impossible to suppress (or eliminate) certain phases of social
development, at a certain stage of development it is possible for men
to facilitate or retard the success of socialism. This depends
sometimes upon men who are not socialists, and nearly always upon
socialist tactics.

Is socialism inexorably destined to wait for "the natural play
(working) of institutions and laws to bring to pass the triumph of its
aspirations," as M. Charles Dupuy asked in one of his astonishing
addresses? Socialism which is essentially an evolutionary theory
expects its realization to result from the natural working out of the
facts; but, under normal conditions, it can no more rely on the
natural play or action of existing laws, than a republican, eager for
the Republic, could with any show of reason, have relied, in the time
of the Empire, on the natural working of the imperial laws to evolve
the Republic. But in a republic, such as France or the United States,
where universal suffrage makes the People the sole nominal sovereign,
and where by strictly legal action the People may become the
effective, actual sovereign, if socialism cannot rely for its triumph
upon the free play and natural working of the laws of evolution, it
can rely upon the ever-growing influence of socialist electors and
officials on political action and legislation--a source of hope that
was forbidden to the republicans under the empire. It may also happen
that its triumph may be brought about by a rupture of _de facto_
legality, a rupture which under certain contingencies may become
unavoidable, a rupture which may be forced upon them without any
regard to the personal preferences of socialists, as, for example, in
France, on the 4th of September, 1870, such a rupture was forced upon
Jules Simon and other fanatical partisans of legality, and it is a
rupture of this kind which constitutes a revolution.

Evolution and Revolution are not contradictory terms. Quite the
contrary. When they both take place, the one following and
supplementing the other, the second is the conclusion of the first,
the revolution is only the characteristic crisis which ends and gives
real effect to a period of evolution. Notice what takes place in the
case of the young chick. After having gone through the regular process
of development inside of its shell, the little brute, who is as yet
unable to read the _Temps_, does not know that it has been decreed
that evolution must take place without any violence; instead of
employing its leisure in gently and legally wearing a hole through its
shell, it breaks its way out without warning or ceremony. Well, then,
socialism which does read the _Temps_, will act just as though it had
not read it, and, if the emergency arises, will imitate the little
chick; if in the course of events it becomes necessary, it will burst
asunder the mould of legality within which it is developing, and
within which, at the present time, it has simply to continue its
regular and peaceful development.

The distinctive mark of a revolution, as I have said, is the rupture
of _de facto_ legality--that is the only _sine qua non_, everything
else is merely incidental. Unfortunately the strong general tendency
is to think that the word, revolution, necessarily implies the
execution of persons and the destruction of property. The latter are
catastrophes that the socialists will make every possible effort to
avoid; for they know that excesses in one direction inevitably provoke
a re-actionary movement in the opposite direction, and they will do
everything they possibly can to keep from thus unconsciously defeating
their own ends.

At some particular time in the future events may occur that, purely by
the power of circumstances over men, will lead to a rupture of
legality. When and how will this happen, if it does happen? We know
nothing about it, and we are not and will not be the responsible cause
of such an event, because we recognize and point out the possibility
of its occurrence. The interested fears of some will not destroy this
possibility, nor will the too pardonable impatience of others convert
it into a probability. As the _Temps_ said one day, in speaking
incidentally of revolutions: "One does not make them; they make

Although we can not indicate the character any more than the period of
this possible rupture of legality, still we have a right to say that
this rupture, or in other words, this revolution, may take place
peacefully, like the one that occurred on the 4th of September, 1870.
The difference in the consequences of the two revolutions makes no
difference from our present point of view. It is true that the
revolution of the 4th of September was purely a political revolution.
But, while the revolution, whose possibility we are considering, is to
usher in a social transformation, as a revolution it is simply a
change of a political character. If the capitalists are as prudent as
were the Bonapartists on the 4th of September, the future rupture of
legality may be just as peaceful as was that in which Senator Jules
Simon took part. It is seen, then, that socialism may burst the mould
of legality while preserving the peace. On the other hand, it may make
use of violence while remaining within the forms of strict legality.

Whether or not a revolutionary situation is destined to arise, the
duty, the whole duty of socialists consists in educating the masses,
in rendering them conscious of their condition, their task and their
responsibility, of organizing them in readiness for the day when the
political power shall fall into their hands. To win for socialism the
greatest possible number of partisans, that is the task to which
socialist parties must consecrate their efforts, using, for this
purpose, all pacific and legal means, but using such means only. In
ordinary times, such as those in which we live, any sort of action,
except peaceful and legal action with a view to the instruction and
organization of the masses, is sure, whether so intended or not, to
have a deterrent and reactionary influence, and to interfere with the
spread of socialist ideas.

What I am advocating is not the policy of keeping our colors hidden in
our pockets, it is not the policy of mutilating, however slightly, the
theory of socialism, it is the policy of sticking strictly to that
theory without marring or disfiguring it by violences which form no
part of it, by vain predictions which threaten with no certainty of
fulfilment. The truth is that it is impossible to promise in advance
to stick solely to either method--force or legality; and this is true
for all parties. A Radical, M. Sigismund Lacroix, recognized this fact
when he wrote some time ago: "Many people of whom I am one ... would
hesitate to swear to stick, under all circumstances, to legal and
peaceful means. This depends, not on opinions, but on situations.
Revolutionary situations may arise, when to be a revolutionist will be
a duty."[19]

Even admitting that there must be a revolution--a question which the
events and not the wills of men will decide--this revolution, no
matter what its incidents, will be only one term in the series of
phenomena which are leading us from one social form to another, only
one link in a chain, and is it reasonable, therefore, to hypnotize the
laborers by concentrating their attention on that single link? What is
necessary is to make socialists, to make the masses conscious of the
economic movement in progress, to bring their wills into harmony with
that movement, and thus to lead to the election of more and more
socialists to our various elective assemblies, where it will be their
duty and privilege to maintain the forgotten and despised rights of
the people, and to effect, so far as they can, under the
circumstances, the various ameliorations of the conditions and status
of the toiling masses for which socialism is striving. The socialist
party is the only party which pursues these aims in a practical
fashion, by basing its tactics on the economic conditions of the
environment. What is the use, therefore, of talking of anything but
socialism, of expatiating on the nature of the crisis which will
terminate the present phase of evolution and will be the beginning of
a new phase? Why waste time talking about a contingent event that
circumstances may force upon us in the future, but the time or
character of which no man can define or describe to-day? At all
events, if we must talk of revolution, our aim should be to overthrow
the false ideas on this subject industriously circulated by our
opponents with a view to deterring recruits from enlisting in the
socialist army.


[18] Issue of Nov. 14, 1891.

[19] _Le Radical_, May 30, 1893.


Just as the idea of revolution is identified with the ideas of murder
and destruction, in the same way the internationalism of the workers
is identified with anti-patriotism. There is in the latter case as in
the former a fundamental error, and it remains for me to show that,
theoretically and practically, the identification of the
internationalism of labor with anti-patriotism is unjustifiable. And,
to begin with, he who says internationalism says internationalism, and
does not say anti-nationalism; consequently, you see at once that no
one ought--either to approve or condemn it--to use the word,
internationalism, to express what it does not mean and what other
words do mean.

Instead of allowing ourselves to be led astray by our various
fantastic notions, let us here as elsewhere examine the facts and see
what conclusions they impose upon us. Socialism flows from the facts,
it follows them and does not precede them. This is the truth to which
we must constantly return, which we must never forget. Now, the facts
show us, _bon gré mal gré_, two things: on the one hand, the existence
of countries (fatherlands); on the other, the existence, in every
social stratum, of an international solidarity.

It is with countries as with classes; some deny the existence of the
former, others of the latter. Now, in reason it is no more possible to
deny the existence of the country (fatherland) than the existence of
classes in that country. It is all right to look forward to the day
when national patriotism shall be swallowed up in world-wide
brotherhood, when classes shall vanish in human solidarity, but while
waiting for the facts to turn this noble ideal into a reality, we
must, in both cases, adapt ourselves to the facts as they actually are
at present. To wish to suppress them (classes, etc.) does not suppress
them, to protest against their existence does not at all prevent them
from existing and, so long as countries and classes shall exist, it
will be necessary for us, not to deny their existence in declamations
in the Bryan-McKinley style, but to adapt our tactics to the facts
which are the consequences of their existence.

Just as the feeling of national solidarity is added to the feeling of
family solidarity, without destroying the latter, in the same way the
relatively new sentiment of international solidarity is added to the
former which is still retained. A new sentiment springing from a new
situation does not annihilate the older sentiments and emotions as
long as the conditions that gave them birth continue to exist, and
families and nations are still in existence.

The tendency toward internationalism was inaugurated by capital. In
obedience to its own law of continuous growth, it has, more and more,
substituted international commerce for national trade. It has created
industries whose raw materials come from abroad and whose products
require, for an outlet, the universal or world market. It has thus
developed the reciprocal interdependence of nations, no one of which
to-day can live without the aid of the others.

Capitalist internationalism, moreover, pursues its ends with stern
remorselessness. In order to lower national wages and gain greater
profits, the capitalist does not hesitate to deprive his
fellow-countrymen of work, and to import, to compete with them on the
labor market, foreigners wonted by greater poverty to a lower standard
of living, and therefore able and willing to work for lower wages. To
prohibit them, not from employing foreigners, but from paying them
less than the national rate of wages is the only effective means of
meeting this evil. On the other hand, provided he sees a goodly profit
in the transaction, the capitalist never hesitates to loan money or
sell military supplies to a foreign country, though he thus increases
its power to wage war against his own.

This international character, assumed by capital in all its forms, is,
in its effects, co-extensive with the domain of human affairs. And so,
as M. Aulard declared in a lecture about which there has been too much
talk: "There are no national boundaries for reason and science * * *
They are neither French, nor English, nor German, but international
and human." How, therefore, can the workingmen be justly reproached
for taking the road on which everything and everybody has started, and
along which the capitalists have preceded them? Face to face with the
international domination of capital, they have come to understand, in
all civilized nations, the common character, the oneness, of their own
interests. They are everywhere the victims of the same kind of
exploitation, due everywhere to the same cause. The same facts have
suggested to them the same demands, the same means and tactics to
attain the same goal. International exploitation has thus given birth
to an ever growing international solidarity among the workers who
resist its encroachments. And the international concurrence of the
workers is publicly declared by the world-wide celebration of the
First day of May.

Notwithstanding the most sincere sentiment of international solidarity
on both sides, the workingmen of two countries may still have to fight
against each other. This is one of the numerous contradictions--and
one of the most horrible--inherent in the capitalist regime, which is
condemned to aspire to peace and to unchain the horrid dogs of war.
While, for example, commerce on the world market requires peace, the
bitterness of competition on that market begets conflicts. * * * *

       *       *       *       *       *

To safeguard the little independence left to them as laborers, the
workers have been led by the state of affairs, by actual conditions,
as were the business men before them, to be internationalists; but
they are patriots, and must be patriots only whenever their
country--be it France or America--is menaced by danger from abroad.

I hope you now see that the internationalism of the workers and the
socialists cannot, by any possibility lead to anti-patriotism. These
are two distinct ideas which cannot be legitimately confounded, no
matter what the object of this confusion. Our internationalism and our
patriotism spring from two wholly distinct categories of facts, and
different facts logically necessitate different solutions, logic
consisting, here and everywhere, in adapting the solution to the facts
and not in applying the same solution indiscriminately to all sorts of

To sum up, workingmen and socialists ought to be internationalists in
their relations with their toiling comrades when the interests of
labor are at stake in times of peace, patriots and Frenchmen before
all when France, our country shall be, if it must be, in danger of
war, conscious always of the duty to be performed, conscious, if need
be, especially in victory, of the duty of respecting in the case of
others, especially the conquered, the rights that they claim for

       *       *       *       *       *

I have finished. That is all that socialism means. I have taken pains
to set it forth in its entirety, free from both the attenuations and
the exaggerations by which it is often mutilated or disfigured, but
which seem to me to have no foundation in reality. Its goal is the
socialization of the means of labor which have already manifested
collective tendencies--either in their mode of ownership or in the
mode of their employment as exploiting agencies--and the abolition of
classes. Its means, the transference to the political battlefield of
the Class Struggle, the existence of which it is compelled to
acknowledge. It must, for the time being, be resolved to preserve
legality at home and peace abroad, but equally energetically
determined to tolerate no measure that will make the situation of the
toilers more intolerable, to preserve republican institutions intact
and to defend the national territory against all foreign foes.

                                                 GABRIEL DEVILLE.


[20] In France, where pseudo-patriotism, or jingoism, runs riot, the
argument that international socialism is unpatriotic is much in vogue
with the hireling scribes of capitalism. Hence, this section. In this
country, owing in part to its geographical isolation, but still more
to the almost complete lack of a sense of international solidarity on
the part of the American worker, we seldom have to meet this argument,
and so I will condense and abridge this section.--Tr.


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