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´╗┐Title: System of Economical Contradictions; Or, The Philosophy of Misery
Author: Proudhon, P.-J. (Pierre-Joseph)
Language: English
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Destruam et aedificabo.
Deuteronomy: c. 32.




%  1. Opposition between FACT and RIGHT in Social Economy
%  2. Inadequacy of Theories and Criticisms

%  1. Opposition of Value in USE and Value in EXCHANGE
%  2. Constitution of Value; Definition of Wealth
%  3. Application of the Law of Proportionality of Values

%  1. Antagonistic Effects of the Principle of Division
%  2. Impotence of Palliatives.--MM. Blanqui, Chevalier,
      Dunoyer, Rossi, and Passy

%  1. Of the Function of Machinery in its Relations to Liberty
%  2. Machinery's Contradiction.--Origin of Capital and Wages
%  3. Of Preservatives against the Disastrous Influence of Machinery

%  1. Necessity of Competition
%  2. Subversive Effects of Competition, and the Destruction of
      Liberty thereby
%  3. Remedies against Competition

%  1. Necessity of Monopoly
%  2. The Disasters in Labor and the Perversion of Ideas caused
      by Monopoly

%  1. Synthetic Idea of the Tax. Point of Departure and
      Development of this Idea
%  2. Antinomy of the Tax
%  3. Disastrous and Inevitable Consequences of the Tax.
      (Provisions, Sumptuary Laws, Rural and Industrial Police,
       Patents,Trade-Marks, etc.)

%  1. The Culpability of Man.--Exposition of the Myth of the Fall
%  2. Exposition of the Myth of Providence.--Retrogression of God


Before entering upon the subject-matter of these new memoirs, I
must explain an hypothesis which will undoubtedly seem strange,
but in the absence of which it is impossible for me to proceed
intelligibly: I mean the hypothesis of a God.

To suppose God, it will be said, is to deny him.  Why do you not
affirm him?

Is it my fault if belief in Divinity has become a suspected
opinion; if the bare suspicion of a Supreme Being is already
noted as evidence of a weak mind; and if, of all philosophical
Utopias, this is the only one which the world no longer
tolerates?  Is it my fault if hypocrisy and imbecility everywhere
hide behind this holy formula?

Let a public teacher suppose the existence, in the universe, of
an unknown force governing suns and atoms, and keeping the whole
machine in motion.  With him this supposition, wholly gratuitous,
is perfectly natural; it is received, encouraged: witness
attraction--an hypothesis which will never be verified, and
which, nevertheless, is the glory of its originator.  But when,
to explain the course of human events, I suppose, with all
imaginable caution, the intervention of a God, I am sure to shock
scientific gravity and offend critical ears: to so wonderful an
extent has our piety discredited Providence, so many tricks
have been played by means of this dogma or fiction by charlatans
of every stamp!  I have seen the theists of my time, and
blasphemy has played over my lips; I have studied the belief of
the people,--this people that Brydaine called the best friend of
God,--and have shuddered at the negation which was about to
escape me.  Tormented by conflicting feelings, I appealed to
reason; and it is reason which, amid so many dogmatic
contradictions, now forces the hypothesis upon me.  A priori
dogmatism, applying itself to God, has proved fruitless: who
knows whither the hypothesis, in its turn, will lead us?

I will explain therefore how, studying in the silence of my
heart, and far from every human consideration, the mystery of
social revolutions, God, the great unknown, has become for me an
hypothesis,--I mean a necessary dialectical tool.


If I follow the God-idea through its successive transformations,
I find that this idea is preeminently social: I mean by this that
it is much more a collective act of faith than an individual
conception.  Now, how and under what circumstances is this act of
faith produced?  This point it is important to determine.

From the moral and intellectual point of view, society, or the
collective man, is especially distinguished from the individual
by spontaneity of action,--in other words, instinct.  While the
individual obeys, or imagines he obeys, only those motives of
which he is fully conscious, and upon which he can at will
decline or consent to act; while, in a word, he thinks himself
free, and all the freer when he knows that he is possessed of
keener reasoning faculties and larger information,--society is
governed by impulses which, at first blush, exhibit no
deliberation and design, but which gradually seem to be directed
by a superior power, existing outside of society, and pushing it
with irresistible might toward an unknown goal.  The
establishment of monarchies and republics, caste-distinctions,
judicial institutions, etc., are so many manifestations of this
social spontaneity, to note the effects of which is much easier
than to point out its principle and show its cause.  The whole
effort, even of those who, following Bossuet, Vico, Herder,
Hegel, have applied themselves to the philosophy of history, has
been hitherto to establish the presence of a providential destiny
presiding over all the movements of man.  And I observe, in this
connection, that society never fails to evoke its genius previous
to action: as if it wished the powers above to ordain what its
own spontaneity has already resolved on.  Lots, oracles,
sacrifices, popular acclamation, public prayers, are the
commonest forms of these tardy deliberations of society.

This mysterious faculty, wholly intuitive, and, so to speak,
super-social, scarcely or not at all perceptible in persons, but
which hovers over humanity like an inspiring genius, is the
primordial fact of all psychology.

Now, unlike other species of animals, which, like him, are
governed at the same time by individual desires and collective
impulses, man has the privilege of perceiving and designating to
his own mind the instinct or fatum which leads him; we shall see
later that he has also the power of foreseeing and even
influencing its decrees.  And the first act of man, filled and
carried away with enthusiasm (of the divine breath), is to adore
the invisible Providence on which he feels that he depends, and
which he calls GOD,--that is, Life, Being, Spirit, or, simpler
still, Me; for all these words, in the ancient tongues, are
synonyms and homophones.  "I am ME," God said to Abraham,
"and I covenant with THEE."....  And to Moses:  "I am the Being.
Thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, `The Being hath sent
me unto you.'"  These two words, the Being and Me, have in the
original language--the most religious that men have ever
spoken--the same characteristic.[1]  Elsewhere, when Ie-hovah,
acting as law-giver through the instrumentality of Moses, attests
his eternity and swears by his own essence, he uses, as a form of
oath, _I_; or else, with redoubled force, _I_, THE BEING.  Thus
the God of the Hebrews is the most personal and wilful of all the
gods, and none express better than he the intuition of humanity.

[1] Ie-hovah, and in composition Iah, the Being; Iao, ioupitur,
same meaning; ha-iah, Heb., he was; ei, Gr., he is, ei-nai, to
be; an-i, Heb., and in conjugation th-i, me; e-go, io, ich, i,
m-i, me, t-ibi, te, and all the personal pronouns in which the
vowels i, e, ei, oi, denote personality in general, and the
consonants, m or n, s or t, serve to indicate the number of the
person.  For the rest, let who will dispute over these analogies;
I have no objections: at this depth, the science of the
philologist is but cloud and mystery.  The important point to
which I wish to call attention is that the phonetic relation of
names seems to correspond to the metaphysical relation of ideas.

God appeared to man, then, as a me, as a pure and permanent
essence, placing himself before him as a monarch before his
servant, and expressing himself now through the mouth of poets,
legislators, and soothsayers, musa, nomos, numen; now through the
popular voice, vox populi vox Dei.  This may serve, among other
things, to explain the existence of true and false oracles; why
individuals secluded from birth do not attain of themselves to
the idea of God, while they eagerly grasp it as soon as it is
presented to them by the collective mind; why, finally,
stationary races, like the Chinese, end by losing it.[2]  In the
first place, as to oracles, it is clear that all their
accuracy depends upon the universal conscience which inspires
them; and, as to the idea of God, it is easily seen why isolation
and statu quo are alike fatal to it.  On the one hand, absence of
communication keeps the mind absorbed in animal
self-contemplation; on the other, absence of motion, gradually
changing social life into mechanical routine, finally eliminates
the idea of will and providence.  Strange fact! religion, which
perishes through progress, perishes also through quiescence.

[2] The Chinese have preserved in their traditions the
remembrance of a religion which had ceased to exist among them
five or six centuries before our era.

(See Pauthier, "China," Paris, Didot.)  More surprising still is
it that this singular people, in losing its primitive faith,
seems to have understood that divinity is simply the collective
me of humanity: so that, more than two thousand years ago, China
had reached, in its commonly-accepted belief, the latest results
of the philosophy of the Occident.  "What Heaven sees and
understands," it is written in the Shu-king, "is only that which
the people see and understand.  What the people deem worthy of
reward and punishment is that which Heaven wishes to punish and
reward.  There is an intimate communication between Heaven and
the people: let those who govern the people, therefore, be
watchful and cautious."  Confucius expressed the same idea in
another manner:  "Gain the affection of the people, and you gain
empire.  Lose the affection of the people, and you lose empire."
There, then, general reason was regarded as queen of the world, a
distinction which elsewhere has been bestowed upon revelations.
The Tao-te-king is still more explicit.  In this work, which is
but an outline criticism of pure reason, the philosopher Lao-tse
continually identifies, under the name of TAO, universal reason
and the infinite being; and all the obscurity of the book of Lao
tse consists, in my opinion, of this constant identification of
principles which our religious and metaphysical habits have so
widely separated.

Notice further that, in attributing to the vague and (so to
speak) objectified consciousness of a universal reason the first
revelation of Divinity, we assume absolutely nothing concerning
even the reality or non-reality of God.  In fact, admitting that
God is nothing more than collective instinct or universal reason,
we have still to learn what this universal reason is in itself.
For, as we shall show directly, universal reason is not given in
individual reason, in other words, the knowledge of social
laws, or the theory of collective ideas, though deduced from the
fundamental concepts of pure reason, is nevertheless wholly
empirical, and never would have been discovered a priori by means
of deduction, induction, or synthesis.  Whence it follows that
universal reason, which we regard as the origin of these laws;
universal reason, which exists, reasons, labors, in a separate
sphere and as a reality distinct from pure reason, just as the
planetary system, though created according to the laws of
mathematics, is a reality distinct from mathematics, whose
existence could not have been deduced from mathematics alone: it
follows, I say, that universal reason is, in modern languages,
exactly what the ancients called God.  The name is changed: what
do we know of the thing?

Let us now trace the evolution of the Divine idea.

The Supreme Being once posited by a primary mystical judgment,
man immediately generalizes the subject by another
mysticism,--analogy.  God, so to speak, is as yet but a point:
directly he shall fill the world.

As, in sensing his social me, man saluted his AUTHOR, so, in
finding evidence of design and intention in animals, plants,
springs, meteors, and the whole universe, he attributes to each
special object, and then to the whole, a soul, spirit, or genius
presiding over it; pursuing this inductive process of apotheosis
from the highest summit of Nature, which is society, down to the
humblest forms of life, to inanimate and inorganic matter.  From
his collective me, taken as the superior pole of creation, to the
last atom of matter, man EXTENDS, then, the idea of God,--that
is, the idea of personality and intelligence,--just as God
himself EXTENDED HEAVEN, as the book of Genesis tells us; that
is, created space and time, the conditions of all things.

Thus, without a God or master-builder, the universe and man
would not exist: such is the social profession of faith.  But
also without man God would not be thought, or--to clear the
interval--God would be nothing.  If humanity needs an author, God
and the gods equally need a revealer; theogony, the history of
heaven, hell, and their inhabitants,--those dreams of the human
mind,--is the counterpart of the universe, which certain
philosophers have called in return the dream of God.  And how
magnificent this theological creation, the work of society!  The
creation of the demiourgos was obliterated; what we call the
Omnipotent was conquered; and for centuries the enchanted
imagination of mortals was turned away from the spectacle of
Nature by the contemplation of Olympian marvels.

Let us descend from this fanciful region: pitiless reason knocks
at the door; her terrible questions demand a reply.

"What is God?" she asks; "where is he? what is his extent? what
are his wishes? what his powers? what his promises?"--and here,
in the light of analysis, all the divinities of heaven, earth,
and hell are reduced to an incorporeal, insensible, immovable,
incomprehensible, undefinable I-know-not-what; in short, to a
negation of all the attributes of existence.  In fact, whether
man attributes to each object a special spirit or genius, or
conceives the universe as governed by a single power, he in
either case but SUPPOSES an unconditioned, that is, an
impossible, entity, that he may deduce therefrom an explanation
of such phenomena as he deems inconceivable on any other
hypothesis.  The mystery of God and reason!  In order to render
the object of his idolatry more and more RATIONAL, the believer
despoils him successively of all the qualities which would make
him REAL; and, after marvellous displays of logic and genius,
the attributes of the Being par excellence are found to be the
same as those of nihility.  This evolution is inevitable and
fatal: atheism is at the bottom of all theodicy.

Let us try to understand this progress.

God, creator of all things, is himself no sooner created by the
conscience,--in other words, no sooner have we lifted God from
the idea of the social me to the idea of the cosmic me,--than
immediately our reflection begins to demolish him under the
pretext of perfecting him.  To perfect the idea of God, to purify
the theological dogma, was the second hallucination of the human

The spirit of analysis, that untiring Satan who continually
questions and denies, must sooner or later look for proof of
religious dogmas.  Now, whether the philosopher determine the
idea of God, or declare it indeterminable; whether he approach it
with his reason, or retreat from it,--I say that this idea
receives a blow; and, as it is impossible for speculation to
halt, the idea of God must at last disappear.  Then the atheistic
movement is the second act of the theologic drama; and this
second act follows from the first, as effect from cause.  "The
heavens declare the glory of God," says the Psalmist.  Let us
add, And their testimony dethrones him.

Indeed, in proportion as man observes phenomena, he thinks that
he perceives, between Nature and God, intermediaries; such as
relations of number, form, and succession; organic laws,
evolutions, analogies,-- forming an unmistakable series of
manifestations which invariably produce or give rise to each
other.  He even observes that, in the development of this society
of which he is a part, private wills and associative
deliberations have some influence; and he says to himself that
the Great Spirit does not act upon the world directly and by
himself, or arbitrarily and at the dictation of a capricious
will, but mediately, by perceptible means or organs, and by
virtue of laws.  And, retracing in his mind the chain of effects
and causes, he places clear at the extremity, as a balance, God.

A poet has said,--

Par dela tous les cieux, le Dieu des cieux reside.

Thus, at the first step in the theory, the Supreme Being is
reduced to the function of a motive power, a mainspring, a
corner-stone, or, if a still more trivial comparison may be
allowed me, a constitutional sovereign, reigning but not
governing, swearing to obey the law and appointing ministers to
execute it.  But, under the influence of the mirage which
fascinates him, the theist sees, in this ridiculous system, only
a new proof of the sublimity of his idol; who, in his opinion,
uses his creatures as instruments of his power, and causes the
wisdom of human beings to redound to his glory.

Soon, not content with limiting the power of the Eternal, man,
increasingly deicidal in his tendencies, insists on sharing it.

If I am a spirit, a sentient me giving voice to ideas, continues
the theist, I consequently am a part of absolute existence; I am
free, creative, immortal, equal with God.  Cogito, ergo sum,--I
think, therefore I am immortal, that is the corollary, the
translation of Ego sum qui sum: philosophy is in accord with the
Bible.  The existence of God and the immortality of the soul are
posited by the conscience in the same judgment: there, man speaks
in the name of the universe, to whose bosom he transports his me;
here, he speaks in his own name, without perceiving that, in this
going and coming, he only repeats himself.

The immortality of the soul, a true division of divinity,
which, at the time of its first promulgation, arriving after a
long interval, seemed a heresy to those faithful to the old
dogma, has been none the less considered the complement of divine
majesty, necessarily postulated by eternal goodness and justice.
Unless the soul is immortal, God is incomprehensible, say the
theists; resembling in this the political theorists who regard
sovereign representation and perpetual tenure of office as
essential conditions of monarchy.  But the inconsistency of the
ideas is as glaring as the parity of the doctrines is exact:
consequently the dogma of immortality soon became the
stumbling-block of philosophical theologians, who, ever since the
days of Pythagoras and Orpheus, have been making futile attempts
to harmonize divine attributes with human liberty, and reason
with faith.  A subject of triumph for the impious! . . . .  But
the illusion could not yield so soon: the dogma of immortality,
for the very reason that it was a limitation of the uncreated
Being, was a step in advance.  Now, though the human mind
deceives itself by a partial acquisition of the truth, it never
retreats, and this perseverance in progress is proof of its
infallibility.  Of this we shall soon see fresh evidence.

In making himself like God, man made God like himself: this
correlation, which for many centuries had been execrated, was the
secret spring which determined the new myth.  In the days of the
patriarchs God made an alliance with man; now, to strengthen the
compact, God is to become a man.  He will take on our flesh, our
form, our passions, our joys, and our sorrows; will be born of
woman, and die as we do.  Then, after this humiliation of the
infinite, man will still pretend that he has elevated the ideal
of his God in making, by a logical conversion, him whom he
had always called creator, a saviour, a redeemer.  Humanity does
not yet say, I am God: such a usurpation would shock its piety;
it says, God is in me, IMMANUEL, nobiscum Deus.  And, at the
moment when philosophy with pride, and universal conscience with
fright, shouted with unanimous voice, The gods are departing!
excedere deos! a period of eighteen centuries of fervent
adoration and superhuman faith was inaugurated.

But the fatal end approaches.  The royalty which suffers itself
to be limited will end by the rule of demagogues; the divinity
which is defined dissolves in a pandemonium.  Christolatry is the
last term of this long evolution of human thought.  The angels,
saints, and virgins reign in heaven with God, says the catechism;
and demons and reprobates live in the hells of eternal
punishment.  Ultramundane society has its left and its right: it
is time for the equation to be completed; for this mystical
hierarchy to descend upon earth and appear in its real character.

When Milton represents the first woman admiring herself in a
fountain, and lovingly extending her arms toward her own image as
if to embrace it, he paints, feature for feature, the human
race.--This God whom you worship, O man! this God whom you have
made good, just, omnipotent, omniscient, immortal, and holy, is
yourself: this ideal of perfection is your image, purified in the
shining mirror of your conscience.  God, Nature, and man are
three aspects of one and the same being; man is God himself
arriving at self-consciousness through a thousand evolutions.  In
Jesus Christ man recognized himself as God; and Christianity is
in reality the religion of God-man.  There is no other God than
he who in the beginning said, ME; there is no other God than

Such are the last conclusions of philosophy, which dies in
unveiling religion's mystery and its own.


It seems, then, that all is ended; it seems that, with the
cessation of the worship and mystification of humanity by itself,
the theological problem is for ever put aside.  The gods have
gone: there is nothing left for man but to grow weary and die in
his egoism.  What frightful solitude extends around me, and
forces its way to the bottom of my soul!  My exaltation resembles
annihilation; and, since I made myself a God, I seem but a
shadow.  It is possible that I am still a ME, but it is very
difficult to regard myself as the absolute; and, if I am not the
absolute, I am only half of an idea.

Some ironical thinker, I know not who, has said:  "A little
philosophy leads away from religion, and much philosophy leads
back to it."  This proposition is humiliatingly true.

Every science develops in three successive periods, which may be
called--comparing them with the grand periods of
civilization--the religious period, the sophistical period, the
scientific period.[3]  Thus, alchemy represents the religious
period of the science afterwards called chemistry, whose
definitive plan is not yet discovered; likewise astrology was the
religious period of another science, since

[3] See, among others, Auguste Comte, "Course of Positive
Philosophy," and P. J. Proudhon, "Creation of Order in Humanity."

Now, after being laughed at for sixty years about the
philosopher's stone, chemists, governed by experience, no longer
dare to deny the transmutability of bodies; while astronomers
are led by the structure of the world to suspect also an organism
of the world; that is, something precisely like astrology.  Are
we not justified in saying, in imitation of the philosopher just
quoted, that, if a little chemistry leads away from the
philosopher's stone, much chemistry leads back to it; and
similarly, that, if a little astronomy makes us laugh at
astrologers, much astronomy will make us believe in them?[4]

[4] I do not mean to affirm here in a positive manner the
transmutability of bodies, or to point it out as a subject for
investigation; still less do I pretend to say what ought to be
the opinion of savants upon this point.  I wish only to call
attention to the species of scepticism generated in every
uninformed mind by the most general conclusions of chemical
philosophy, or, better, by the irreconcilable hypotheses which
serve as the basis of its theories.  Chemistry is truly the
despair of reason: on all sides it mingles with the fanciful; and
the more knowledge of it we gain by experience, the more it
envelops itself in impenetrable mysteries.  This thought was
recently suggested to me by reading M. Liebig's "Letters on
Chemistry" (Paris, Masgana, 1845, translation of Bertet-Dupiney
and Dubreuil Helion).

Thus M. Liebig, after having banished from science hypothetical
causes and all the entities admitted by the ancients,--such as
the creative power of matter, the horror of a vacuum, the esprit
recteur, etc. (p. 22),--admits immediately, as necessary to the
comprehension of chemical phenomena, a series of entities no less
obscure,--vital force, chemical force, electric force, the force
of attraction, etc. (pp. 146, 149).  One might call it a
realization of the properties of bodies, in imitation of the
psychologists' realization of the faculties of the soul under the
names liberty, imagination, memory, etc.  Why not keep to the
elements?  Why, if the atoms have weight of their own, as M.
Liebig appears to believe, may they not also have electricity and
life of their own?  Curious thing! the phenomena of matter, like
those of mind, become intelligible only by supposing them to be
produced by unintelligible forces and governed by contradictory
laws: such is the inference to be drawn from every page of M.
Liebig's book.

Matter, according to M. Liebig, is essentially inert and entirely
destitute of spontaneous activity (p. 148): why, then, do the
atoms have weight?  Is not the weight inherent in atoms the real,
eternal, and spontaneous motion of matter?  And that which we
chance to regard as rest,--may it not be equilibrium rather?
Why, then, suppose now an inertia which definitions contradict,
now an external potentiality which nothing proves?

Atoms having WEIGHT, M. Liebig infers that they are INDIVISIBLE
(p. 58).  What logic!  Weight is only force, that is, a thing
hidden from the senses, whose phenomena alone are perceptible,--a
thing, consequently, to which the idea of division and indivision
is inapplicable; and from the presence of this force, from the
hypothesis of an indeterminate and immaterial entity, is inferred
an indivisible material existence!

For the rest, M. Liebig confesses that it is IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE
MIND to conceive of particles absolutely indivisible; he
recognizes, further, that the FACT of this indivisibility is not
proved; but he adds that science cannot dispense with this
hypothesis: so that, by the confession of its teachers, chemistry
has for its point of departure a fiction as repugnant to the mind
as it is foreign to experience.  What irony!

Atoms are unequal in weight, says M. Liebig, because unequal in
volume: nevertheless, it is impossible to demonstrate that
chemical equivalents express the relative weight of atoms, or, in
other words, that what the calculation of atomic equivalents
leads us to regard as an atom is not composed of several atoms.
This is tantamount to saying that MORE MATTER weighs more than
LESS MATTER; and, since weight is the essence of materiality, we
may logically conclude that, weight being universally identical
with itself, there is also an identity in matter; that the
differences of simple bodies are due solely, either to different
methods of atomic association, or to different degrees of
molecular condensation, and that, in reality, atoms are
transmutable: which M. Liebig does not admit.

"We have," he says, "no reason for believing that one element is
convertible into another element" (p. 135).  What do you know
about it?  The reasons for believing in such a conversion can
very well exist and at the same time escape your attention; and
it is not certain that your intelligence in this respect has
risen to the level of your experience.  But, admitting the
negative argument of M. Liebig, what follows?  That, with about
fifty-six exceptions, irreducible as yet, all matter is in a
condition of perpetual metamorphosis.  Now, it is a law of our
reason to suppose in Nature unity of substance as well as unity
of force and system; moreover, the series of chemical compounds
and simple substances themselves leads us irresistibly to this
conclusion.  Why, then, refuse to follow to the end the road
opened by science, and to admit an hypothesis which is the
inevitable result of experience itself?

M. Liebig not only denies the transmutability of elements, but
rejects the spontaneous formation of germs.  Now, if we reject
the spontaneous formation of germs, we are forced to admit their
eternity; and as, on the other hand, geology proves that the
globe has not been inhabited always, we must admit also that, at
a given moment, the eternal germs of animals and plants were
born, without father or mother, over the whole face of the earth.

Thus, the denial of spontaneous generation leads back to the
hypothesis of spontaneity: what is there in much-derided
metaphysics more contradictory?

Let it not be thought, however, that I deny the value and
certainty of chemical theories, or that the atomic theory seems
to me absurd, or that I share the Epicurean opinion as to
spontaneous generation.  Once more, all that I wish to point out
is that, from the point of view of principles, chemistry needs to
exercise extreme tolerance, since its own existence depends on a
certain number of fictions, contrary to reason and experience,
and destructive of each other.

I certainly have less inclination to the marvellous than
many atheists, but I cannot help thinking that the stories of
miracles, prophecies, charms, etc., are but distorted accounts of
the extraordinary effects produced by certain latent forces, or,
as was formerly said, by occult powers.  Our science is still so
brutal and unfair; our professors exhibit so much impertinence
with so little knowledge; they deny so impudently facts which
embarrass them, in order to protect the opinions which they
champion,--that I distrust strong minds equally with
superstitious ones.  Yes, I am convinced of it; our gross
rationalism is the inauguration of a period which, thanks to
science, will become truly PRODIGIOUS; the universe, to my eyes,
is only a laboratory of magic, from which anything may be
expected. . . .  This said, I return to my subject.

They would be deceived, then, who should imagine, after my rapid
survey of religious progress, that metaphysics has uttered its
last word upon the double enigma expressed in these four
words,--the existence of God, the immortality of the soul.  Here,
as elsewhere, the most advanced and best established conclusions,
those which seem to have settled for ever the theological
question, lead us back to primeval mysticism, and involve the new
data of an inevitable philosophy.  The criticism of religious
opinions makes us smile today both at ourselves and at religions;
and yet the resume of this criticism is but a reproduction of the
problem.  The human race, at the present moment, is on the eve of
recognizing and affirming something equivalent to the old notion
of Divinity; and this, not by a spontaneous movement as before,
but through reflection and by means of irresistible logic.  I
will try, in a few words, to make myself understood.

If there is a point on which philosophers, in spite of
themselves, have finally succeeded in agreeing, it is without
doubt the distinction between intelligence and necessity, the
subject of thought and its object, the me and the not-me; in
ordinary terms, spirit and matter.  I know well that all these
terms express nothing that is real and true; that each of them
designates only a section of the absolute, which alone is true
and real; and that, taken separately, they involve, all alike, a
contradiction.  But it is no less certain also that the absolute
is completely inaccessible to us; that we know it only by its
opposite extremes, which alone fall within the limits of our
experience; and that, if unity only can win our faith, duality is
the first condition of science.

Thus, who thinks, and what is thought?  What is a soul? what is a
body?  I defy any one to escape this dualism.  It is with
essences as with ideas: the former are seen separated in Nature,
as the latter in the understanding; and just as the ideas of God
and immortality, in spite of their identity, are posited
successively and contradictorily in philosophy, so, in spite of
their fusion in the absolute, the me and the not-me posit
themselves separately and contradictorily in Nature, and we have
beings who think, at the same time with others which do not

Now, whoever has taken pains to reflect knows today that such a
distinction, wholly realized though it be, is the most
unintelligible, most contradictory, most absurd thing which
reason can possibly meet.  Being is no more conceivable without
the properties of spirit than without the properties of
matter: so that if you deny spirit, because, included in none of
the categories of time, space, motion, solidity, etc., it seems
deprived of all the attributes which constitute reality, I in my
turn will deny matter, which, presenting nothing appreciable but
its inertia, nothing intelligible but its forms, manifests itself
nowhere as cause (voluntary and free), and disappears from view
entirely as substance; and we arrive at pure idealism, that is,
nihility.  But nihility is inconsistent with the existence of
living, reasoning--I know not what to call them--uniting in
themselves, in a state of commenced synthesis or imminent
dissolution, all the antagonistic attributes of being.  We are
compelled, then, to end in a dualism whose terms we know
perfectly well to be false, but which, being for us the condition
of the truth, forces itself irresistibly upon us; we are
compelled, in short, to commence, like Descartes and the human
race, with the me; that is, with spirit.

But, since religions and philosophies, dissolved by analysis,
have disappeared in the theory of the absolute, we know no better
than before what spirit is, and in this differ from the ancients
only in the wealth of language with which we adorn the darkness
that envelops us.  With this exception, however; that while, to
the ancients, order revealed intelligence OUTSIDE of the world,
to the people of today it seems to reveal it rather WITHIN the
world.  Now, whether we place it within or without, from the
moment we affirm it on the ground of order, we must admit it
wherever order is manifested, or deny it altogether.  There is no
more reason for attributing intelligence to the head which
produced the "Iliad" than to a mass of matter which crystallizes
in octahedrons; and, reciprocally, it is as absurd to refer the
system of the world to physical laws, leaving out an ordaining
ME, as to attribute the victory of Marengo to strategic
combinations, leaving out the first consul.  The only distinction
that can be made is that, in the latter case, the thinking ME is
located in the brain of a Bonaparte, while, in the case of the
universe, the ME has no special location, but extends everywhere.

The materialists think that they have easily disposed of their
opponents by saying that man, having likened the universe to his
body, finishes the comparison by presuming the existence in the
universe of a soul similar to that which he supposes to be the
principle of his own life and thought; that thus all the
arguments in support of the existence of God are reducible to an
analogy all the more false because the term of comparison is
itself hypothetical.

It is certainly not my intention to defend the old syllogism:
Every arrangement implies an ordaining intelligence; there is
wonderful order in the world; then the world is the work of an
intelligence.  This syllogism, discussed so widely since the days
of Job and Moses, very far from being a solution, is but the
statement of the problem which it assumes to solve.  We know
perfectly well what order is, but we are absolutely ignorant of
the meaning of the words Soul, Spirit, Intelligence: how, then,
can we logically reason from the presence of the one to the
existence of the other?  I reject, then, even when advanced by
the most thoroughly informed, the pretended proof of the
existence of God drawn from the presence of order in the world; I
see in it at most only an equation offered to philosophy.
Between the conception of order and the affirmation of spirit
there is a deep gulf of metaphysics to be filled up; I am
unwilling, I repeat, to take the problem for the demonstration.

But this is not the point which we are now considering.  I have
tried to show that the human mind was inevitably and irresistibly
led to the distinction of being into me and not-me, spirit and
matter, soul and body.  Now, who does not see that the objection
of the materialists proves the very thing it is intended to deny?
Man distinguishing within himself a spiritual principle and a
material principle,--what is this but Nature herself, proclaiming
by turns her double essence, and bearing testimony to her own
laws?  And notice the inconsistency of materialism: it denies,
and has to deny, that man is free; now, the less liberty man has,
the more weight is to be attached to his words, and the greater
their claim to be regarded as the expression of truth.  When I
hear this machine say to me, "I am soul and I am body," though
such a revelation astonishes and confounds me, it is invested in
my eyes with an authority incomparably greater than that of the
materialist who, correcting conscience and Nature, undertakes to
make them say, "I am matter and only matter, and intelligence is
but the material faculty of knowing."

What would become of this assertion, if, assuming in my turn the
offensive, I should demonstrate that belief in the existence of
bodies, or, in other words, in the reality of a purely corporeal
nature, is untenable?  Matter, they say, is
impenetrable.--Impenetrable by what? I ask.  Itself, undoubtedly;
for they would not dare to say spirit, since they would therein
admit what they wish to set aside.  Whereupon I raise this double
question:  What do you know about it, and what does it signify?

1. Impenetrability, which is pretended to be the definition of
matter, is only an hypothesis of careless naturalists, a gross
conclusion deduced from a superficial judgment.  Experience shows
that matter possesses infinite divisibility, infinite
expansibility, porosity without assignable limits, and
permeability by heat, electricity, and magnetism, together
with a power of retaining them indefinitely; affinities,
reciprocal influences, and transformations without number:
qualities, all of them, hardly compatible with the assumption of
an impenetrable aliquid.  Elasticity, which, better than any
other property of matter, could lead, through the idea of spring
or resistance, to that of impenetrability, is subject to the
control of a thousand circumstances, and depends entirely on
molecular attraction: now, what is more irreconcilable with
impenetrability than this attraction?  Finally, there is a
science which might be defined with exactness as the SCIENCE OF
PENETRABILITY OF MATTER:  I mean chemistry.  In fact, how does
what is called chemical composition differ from penetration?[5].
. . .  In short, we know matter only through its forms; of its
substance we know nothing.  How, then, is it possible to affirm
the reality of an invisible, impalpable, incoercible being, ever
changing, ever vanishing, impenetrable to thought alone, to which
it exhibits only its disguises?  Materialist!  I permit you to
testify to the reality of your sensations; as to what occasions
them, all that you can say involves this reciprocity: something
(which you call matter) is the occasion of sensations which are
felt by another something (which I call spirit).

[5] Chemists distinguish between MIXTURE and COMPOSITION, just
as logicians distinguish between the association of ideas and
their synthesis.  It is true, nevertheless, that, according to
the chemists, composition may be after all but a mixture, or
rather an aggregation of atoms, no longer fortuitous, but
systematic, the atoms forming different compounds by varying
their arrangement.  But still this is only an hypothesis, wholly
gratuitous; an hypothesis which explains nothing, and has not
even the merit of being logical.  Why does a purely NUMERICAL or
GEOMETRICAL difference in the composition and form of atoms give
rise to PHYSIOLOGICAL properties so different?  If atoms are
indivisible and impenetrable, why does not their association,
confined to mechanical effects, leave them unchanged in essence?
Where is the relation between the cause supposed and the effect

We must distrust our intellectual vision: it is with chemical
theories as with psychological systems.  The mind, in order to
account for phenomena, works with atoms, which it does not and
can never see, as with the ME, which it does not perceive: it
applies its categories to everything; that is, it distinguishes,
individualizes, concretes, numbers, compares, things which,
material or immaterial, are thoroughly identical and
indistinguishable.  Matter, as well as spirit, plays, as we view
it, all sorts of parts; and, as there is nothing arbitrary in its
metamorphoses, we build upon them these psychologic and atomic
theories, true in so far as they faithfully represent, in terms
agreed upon, the series of phenomena, but radically false as soon
as they pretend to realize their abstractions and are accepted

2. But what, then, is the source of this supposition that matter
is impenetrable, which external observation does not justify and
which is not true; and what is its meaning?

Here appears the triumph of dualism.  Matter is pronounced
impenetrable, not, as the materialists and the vulgar fancy, by
the testimony of the senses, but by the conscience.  The ME, an
incomprehensible nature, feeling itself free, distinct, and
permanent, and meeting outside of itself another nature equally
incomprehensible, but also distinct and permanent in spite of its
metamorphoses, declares, on the strength of the sensations and
ideas which this essence suggests to it, that the NOT-ME is
extended and impenetrable.  Impenetrability is a figurative term,
an image by which thought, a division of the absolute, pictures
to itself material reality, another division of the absolute; but
this impenetrability, without which matter disappears, is, in the
last analysis, only a spontaneous judgment of inward sensation, a
metaphysical a priori, an unverified hypothesis of spirit.

Thus, whether philosophy, after having overthrown theological
dogmatism, spiritualizes matter or materializes thought,
idealizes being or realizes ideas; or whether, identifying
SUBSTANCE and CAUSE, it everywhere substitutes FORCE, phrases,
all, which explain and signify nothing,--it always leads us
back to this everlasting dualism, and, in summoning us to believe
in ourselves, compels us to believe in God, if not in spirits.
It is true that, making spirit a part of Nature, in distinction
from the ancients, who separated it, philosophy has been led to
this famous conclusion, which sums up nearly all the fruit of its
researches:  In man spirit KNOWS ITSELF, while everywhere else
it seems NOT TO KNOW ITSELf--"That which is awake in man, which
dreams in the animal, and sleeps in the stone," said a

Philosophy, then, in its last hour, knows no more than at its
birth: as if it had appeared in the world only to verify the
words of Socrates, it says to us, wrapping itself solemnly around
with its funeral pall, "I know only that I know nothing."  What
do I say?  Philosophy knows today that all its judgments rest on
two equally false, equally impossible, and yet equally necessary
and inevitable hypotheses,--matter and spirit.  So that, while in
former times religious intolerance and philosophic disputes,
spreading darkness everywhere, excused doubt and tempted to
libidinous indifference, the triumph of negation on all points no
longer permits even this doubt; thought, freed from every
barrier, but conquered by its own successes, is forced to affirm
what seems to it clearly contradictory and absurd.  The savages
say that the world is a great fetich watched over by a great
manitou.  For thirty centuries the poets, legislators, and sages
of civilization, handing down from age to age the philosophic
lamp, have written nothing more sublime than this profession of
faith.  And here, at the end of this long conspiracy against God,
which has called itself philosophy, emancipated reason concludes
with savage reason, The universe is a NOT-ME, objectified by a

Humanity, then, inevitably supposes the existence of God: and if,
during the long period which closes with our time, it has
believed in the reality of its hypothesis; if it has worshipped
the inconceivable object; if, after being apprehended in this act
of faith, it persists knowingly, but no longer voluntarily, in
this opinion of a sovereign being which it knows to be only a
personification of its own thought; if it is on the point of
again beginning its magic invocations,--we must believe that so
astonishing an hallucination conceals some mystery, which
deserves to be fathomed.

I say hallucination and mystery, but without intending to deny
thereby the superhuman content of the God-idea, and without
admitting the necessity of a new symbolism,--I mean a new
religion.  For if it is indisputable that humanity, in affirming
God,--or all that is included in the word me or spirit,--only
affirms itself, it is equally undeniable that it affirms itself
as something other than its own conception of itself, as all
mythologies and theologies show.  And since, moreover, this
affirmation is incontestable, it depends, without doubt, upon
hidden relations, which ought, if possible, to be determined

In other words, atheism, sometimes called humanism, true in its
critical and negative features, would be, if it stopped at man in
his natural condition, if it discarded as an erroneous judgment
the first affirmation of humanity, that it is the daughter,
emanation, image, reflection, or voice of God,--humanism, I say,
if it thus denied its past, would be but one contradiction more.
We are forced, then, to undertake the criticism of humanism; that
is, to ascertain whether humanity, considered as a whole and
throughout all its periods of development, satisfies the Divine
idea, after eliminating from the latter the exaggerated and
fanciful attributes of God; whether it satisfies the perfection
of being; whether it satisfies itself.  We are forced, in short,
to inquire whether humanity TENDS TOWARD God, according to the
ancient dogma, or is itself BECOMING God, as modern philosophers
claim.  Perhaps we shall find in the end that the two systems,
despite their seeming opposition, are both true and essentially
identical: in that case, the infallibility of human reason, in
its collective manifestations as well as its studied
speculations, would be decisively confirmed.--In a word, until we
have verified to man the hypothesis of God, there is nothing
definitive in the atheistic negation.

It is, then, a scientific, that is, an empirical demonstration of
the idea of God, that we need: now, such a demonstration has
never been attempted.  Theology dogmatizing on the authority of
its myths, philosophy speculating by the aid of categories, God
has existed as a TRANSCENDENTAL conception, incognizable by the
reason, and the hypothesis always subsists.

It subsists, I say, this hypothesis, more tenacious, more
pitiless than ever.  We have reached one of those prophetic
epochs when society, scornful of the past and doubtful of the
future, now distractedly clings to the present, leaving a few
solitary thinkers to establish the new faith; now cries to God
from the depths of its enjoyments and asks for a sign of
salvation, or seeks in the spectacle of its revolutions, as in
the entrails of a victim, the secret of its destiny.

Why need I insist further?  The hypothesis of God is allowable,
for it forces itself upon every man in spite of himself: no one,
then, can take exception to it.  He who believes can do no less
than grant me the supposition that God exists; he who denies is
forced to grant it to me also, since he entertained it before
me, every negation implying a previous affirmation; as for him
who is in doubt, he needs but to reflect a moment to understand
that his doubt necessarily supposes an unknown something, which,
sooner or later, he will call God.

But if I possess, through the fact of my thought, the right to
SUPPOSE God, I must abandon the right to AFFIRM him.  In other
words, if my hypothesis is irresistible, that, for the present,
is all that I can pretend.  For to affirm is to determine; now,
every determination, to be true, must be reached empirically.  In
fact, whoever says determination, says relation, conditionality,
experience.  Since, then, the determination of the idea of God
must result from an empirical demonstration, we must abstain from
everything which, in the search for this great unknown, not being
established by experience, goes beyond the hypothesis, under
penalty of relapsing into the contradictions of theology, and
consequently arousing anew atheistic dissent.


It remains for me to tell why, in a work on political economy, I
have felt it necessary to start with the fundamental hypothesis
of all philosophy.

And first, I need the hypothesis of God to establish the
authority of social science.--When the astronomer, to explain the
system of the world, judging solely from appearance, supposes,
with the vulgar, the sky arched, the earth flat, the sun much
like a football, describing a curve in the air from east to west,
he supposes the infallibility of the senses, reserving the right
to rectify subsequently, after further observation, the data with
which he is obliged to start.  Astronomic philosophy, in fact,
could not admit a priori that the senses deceive us, and that
we do not see what we do see: admitting such a principle, what
would become of the certainty of astronomy?  But the evidence of
the senses being able, in certain cases, to rectify and complete
itself, the authority of the senses remains unshaken, and
astronomy is possible.

So social philosophy does not admit a priori that humanity can
err or be deceived in its actions: if it should, what would
become of the authority of the human race, that is, the authority
of reason, synonymous at bottom with the sovereignty of the
people?  But it thinks that human judgments, always true at the
time they are pronounced, can successively complete and throw
light on each other, in proportion to the acquisition of ideas,
in such a way as to maintain continual harmony between universal
reason and individual speculation, and indefinitely extend the
sphere of certainty: which is always an affirmation of the
authority of human judgments.

Now, the first judgment of the reason, the preamble of every
political constitution seeking a sanction and a principle, is
necessarily this:  THERE IS A GOD; which means that society is
governed with design, premeditation, intelligence.  This
judgment, which excludes chance, is, then, the foundation of the
possibility of a social science; and every historical and
positive study of social facts, undertaken with a view to
amelioration and progress, must suppose, with the people, the
existence of God, reserving the right to account for this
judgment at a later period.

Thus the history of society is to us but a long determination of
the idea of God, a progressive revelation of the destiny of man.
And while ancient wisdom made all depend on the arbitrary and
fanciful notion of Divinity, oppressing reason and conscience,
and arresting progress through fear of an invisible master,
the new philosophy, reversing the method, trampling on the
authority of God as well as that of man, and accepting no other
yoke than that of fact and evidence, makes all converge toward
the theological hypothesis, as toward the last of its problems.

Humanitarian atheism is, therefore, the last step in the moral
and intellectual enfranchisement of man, consequently the last
phase of philosophy, serving as a pathway to the scientific
reconstruction and verification of all the demolished dogmas.

I need the hypothesis of God, not only, as I have just said, to
give a meaning to history, but also to legitimate the reforms to
be effected, in the name of science, in the State.

Whether we consider Divinity as outside of society, whose
movements it governs from on high (a wholly gratuitous and
probably illusory opinion); or whether we deem it immanent in
society and identical with that impersonal and unconscious reason
which, acting instinctively, makes civilization advance (although
impersonality and ignorance of self are contrary to the idea of
intelligence); or whether, finally, all that is accomplished in
society results from the relation of its elements (a system whose
whole merit consists in changing an active into a passive, in
making intelligence necessity, or, which amounts to the same
thing, in taking law for cause),--it always follows that the
manifestations of social activity, necessarily appearing to us
either as indications of the will of the Supreme Being, or as a
sort of language typical of general and impersonal reason, or,
finally, as landmarks of necessity, are absolute authority for
us.  Being connected in time as well as in spirit, the facts
accomplished determine and legitimate the facts to be
accomplished; science and destiny are in accord; everything which
happens resulting from reason, and, reciprocally, reason
judging only from experience of that which happens, science has a
right to participate in government, and that which establishes
its competency as a counsellor justifies its intervention as a

Science, expressed, recognized, and accepted by the voice of all
as divine, is queen of the world.  Thus, thanks to the hypothesis
of God, all conservative or retrogressive opposition, every
dilatory plea offered by theology, tradition, or selfishness,
finds itself peremptorily and irrevocably set aside.

I need the hypothesis of God to show the tie which unites
civilization with Nature.

In fact, this astonishing hypothesis, by which man is assimilated
to the absolute, implying identity of the laws of Nature and the
laws of reason, enables us to see in human industry the
complement of creative action, unites man with the globe which he
inhabits, and, in the cultivation of the domain in which
Providence has placed us, which thus becomes in part our work,
gives us a conception of the principle and end of all things.
If, then, humanity is not God, it is a continuation of God; or,
if a different phraseology be preferred, that which humanity does
today by design is the same thing that it began by instinct, and
which Nature seems to accomplish by necessity.  In all these
cases, and whichever opinion we may choose, one thing remains
certain: the unity of action and law.  Intelligent beings, actors
in an intelligently-devised fable, we may fearlessly reason from
ourselves to the universe and the eternal; and, when we shall
have completed the organization of labor, may say with pride, The
creation is explained.

Thus philosophy's field of exploration is fixed; tradition is the
starting-point of all speculation as to the future; utopia is
forever exploded; the study of the ME, transferred from the
individual conscience to the manifestations of the social will,
acquires the character of objectivity of which it has been
hitherto deprived; and, history becoming psychology, theology
anthropology, the natural sciences metaphysics, the theory of the
reason is deduced no longer from the vacuum of the intellect, but
from the innumerable forms of a Nature abundantly and directly

I need the hypothesis of God to prove my good-will towards a
multitude of sects, whose opinions I do not share, but whose
malice I fear:-- theists; I know one who, in the cause of God,
would be ready to draw sword, and, like Robespierre, use the
guillotine until the last atheist should be destroyed, not
dreaming that that atheist would be himself;-- mystics, whose
party, largely made up of students and women marching under the
banner of MM. Lamennais, Quinet, Leroux, and others, has taken
for a motto, "Like master, like man;" like God, like people; and,
to regulate the wages of the workingman, begins by restoring
religion;-- spiritualists, who, should I overlook the rights of
spirit, would accuse me of establishing the worship of matter,
against which I protest with all the strength of my
soul;--sensualists and materialists, to whom the divine dogma is
the symbol of constraint and the principle of enslavement of the
passions, outside of which, they say, there is for man neither
pleasure, nor virtue, nor genius;--eclectics and sceptics,
sellers and publishers of all the old philosophies, but not
philosophers themselves, united in one vast brotherhood, with
approbation and privilege, against whoever thinks, believes, or
affirms without their permission;--conservatives finally,
retrogressives, egotists, and hypocrites, preaching the love of
God by hatred of their neighbor, attributing to liberty the
world's misfortunes since the deluge, and scandalizing reason by
their foolishness.

Is it possible, however, that they will attack an hypothesis
which, far from blaspheming the revered phantoms of faith,
aspires only to exhibit them in broad daylight; which, instead of
rejecting traditional dogmas and the prejudices of conscience,
asks only to verify them; which, while defending itself against
exclusive opinions, takes for an axiom the infallibility of
reason, and, thanks to this fruitful principle, will doubtless
never decide against any of the antagonistic sects?  Is it
possible that the religious and political conservatives will
charge me with disturbing the order of society, when I start with
the hypothesis of a sovereign intelligence, the source of every
thought of order; that the semi-Christian democrats will curse me
as an enemy of God, and consequently a traitor to the republic,
when I am seeking for the meaning and content of the idea of God;
and that the tradesmen of the university will impute to me the
impiety of demonstrating the non-value of their philosophical
products, when I am especially maintaining that philosophy should
be studied in its object,--that is, in the manifestations of
society and Nature? . . . .

I need the hypothesis of God to justify my style.

In my ignorance of everything regarding God, the world, the soul,
and destiny; forced to proceed like the materialist,--that is, by
observation and experience,--and to conclude in the language of
the believer, because there is no other; not knowing whether my
formulas, theological in spite of me, would be taken literally or
figuratively; in this perpetual contemplation of God, man, and
things, obliged to submit to the synonymy of all the terms
included in the three categories of thought, speech, and
action, but wishing to affirm nothing on either one side or the
other,--rigorous logic demanded that I should suppose, no more,
no less, this unknown that is called God.  We are full of
Divinity, Jovis omnia plena; our monuments, our traditions, our
laws, our ideas, our languages, and our sciences, all are
infected by this indelible superstition outside of which we can
neither speak nor act, and without which we do not even think.

Finally, I need the hypothesis of God to explain the publication
of these new memoirs.

Our society feels itself big with events, and is anxious about
the future: how account for these vague presentiments by the sole
aid of a universal reason, immanent if you will, and permanent,
but impersonal, and therefore dumb, or by the idea of necessity,
if it implies that necessity is self-conscious, and consequently
has presentiments?  There remains then, once more, an agent or
nightmare which weighs upon society, and gives it visions.

Now, when society prophesies, it puts questions in the mouths of
some, and answers in the mouths of others.  And wise, then, he
who can listen and understand; for God himself has spoken, quia
locutus est Deus.

The Academy of Moral and Political Sciences has proposed the
following question:--

"To determine the general facts which govern the relations of
profits to wages, and to explain their respective oscillations."

A few years ago the same Academy asked, "What are the causes of
misery?"  The nineteenth century has, in fact, but one
idea,--equality and reform.  But the wind bloweth where it
listeth: many began to reflect upon the question, no one answered
it.  The college of aruspices has, therefore, renewed its
question, but in more significant terms.  It wishes to know
whether order prevails in the workshop; whether wages are
equitable; whether liberty and privilege compensate each other
justly; whether the idea of value, which controls all the facts
of exchange, is, in the forms in which the economists have
represented it, sufficiently exact; whether credit protects
labor; whether circulation is regular; whether the burdens of
society weigh equally on all, etc.

And, indeed, insufficiency of income being the immediate cause of
misery, it is fitting that we should know why, misfortune and
malevolence aside, the workingman's income is insufficient.  It
is still the same question of inequality of fortunes, which has
made such a stir for a century past, and which, by a strange
fatality, continually reappears in academic programmes, as if
there lay the real difficulty of modern times.

Equality, then,--its principle, its means, its obstacles, its
theory, the motives of its postponement, the cause of social and
providential iniquities,--these the world has got to learn, in
spite of the sneers of incredulity.

I know well that the views of the Academy are not thus profound,
and that it equals a council of the Church in its horror of
novelties; but the more it turns towards the past, the more it
reflects the future, and the more, consequently, must we believe
in its inspiration: for the true prophets are those who do not
understand their utterances.  Listen further.

"What," the Academy has asked, "are the most useful applications
of the principle of voluntary and private association that we can
make for the alleviation of misery?"

And again:--

"To expound the theory and principles of the contract of
insurance, to give its history, and to deduce from its rationale
and the facts the developments of which this contract is capable,
and the various useful applications possible in the present state
of commercial and industrial progress."

Publicists admit that insurance, a rudimentary form of commercial
solidarity, is an association in things, societas in re; that is,
a society whose conditions, founded on purely economical
relations, escape man's arbitrary dictation.  So that a
philosophy of insurance or mutual guarantee of security, which
shall be deduced from the general theory of real (in re)
societies, will contain the formula of universal association, in
which no member of the Academy believes.  And when, uniting
subject and object in the same point of view, the Academy
demands, by the side of a theory of association of interests, a
theory of voluntary association, it reveals to us the most
perfect form of society, and thereby affirms all that is most at
variance with its convictions.  Liberty, equality, solidarity,
association!  By what inconceivable blunder has so eminently
conservative a body offered to the citizens this new programme of
the rights of man?  It was in this way that Caiaphas prophesied
redemption by disowning Jesus Christ.

Upon the first of these questions, forty-five memoirs were
addressed to the Academy within two years,--a proof that the
subject was marvellously well suited to the state of the public
mind.  But among so many competitors no one having been deemed
worthy of the prize, the Academy has withdrawn the question;
alleging as a reason the incapacity of the competitors, but in
reality because, the failure of the contest being the sole object
that the Academy had in view, it behooved it to declare, without
further delay, that the hopes of the friends of association were

Thus, then, the gentlemen of the Academy disavow, in their
session-chamber, their announcements from the tripod!  There is
nothing in such a contradiction astonishing to me; and may God
preserve me from calling it a crime!  The ancients believed that
revolutions announced their advent by dreadful signs, and that
among other prodigies animals spoke.  This was a figure,
descriptive of those unexpected ideas and strange words which
circulate suddenly among the masses at critical moments, and
which seem to be entirely without human antecedent, so far
removed are they from the sphere of ordinary judgment.  At the
time in which we live, such a thing could not fail to occur.
After having, by a prophetic instinct and a mechanical
spontaneity, pecudesque locut{ae}, proclaimed association, the
gentlemen of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences have
returned to their ordinary prudence; and with them custom has
conquered inspiration.  Let us learn, then, how to distinguish
heavenly counsel from the interested judgments of men, and hold
it for certain that, in the discourse of sages, that is the most
trustworthy to which they have given the least reflection.

Nevertheless the Academy, in breaking so rudely with its
intuitions, seems to have felt some remorse.  In place of a
theory of association in which, after reflection, it no longer
believes, it asks for a "Critical examination of Pestalozzi's
system of instruction and education, considered mainly in its
relation to the well-being and morality of the poor classes."
Who knows? perchance the relation between profits and wages,
association, the organization of labor indeed, are to be found at
the bottom of a system of instruction.  Is not man's life a
perpetual apprenticeship?  Are not philosophy and religion
humanity's education?  To organize instruction, then, would be to
organize industry and fix the theory of society: the Academy,
in its lucid moments, always returns to that.

"What influence," the Academy again asks, "do progress and a
desire for material comfort have upon a nation's morality?"

Taken in its most obvious sense, this new question of the Academy
is commonplace, and fit at best to exercise a rhetorisian's
skill.  But the Academy, which must continue till the end in its
ignorance of the revolutionary significance of its oracles, has
drawn aside the curtain in its commentary.  What, then, so
profound has it discovered in this Epicurean thesis?

"The desire for luxury and its enjoyments," it tells us; "the
singular love of it felt by the majority; the tendency of hearts
and minds to occupy themselves with it exclusively; the agreement
of individuals AND THE STATE in making it the motive and the end
of all their projects, all their efforts, and all their
sacrifices,--engender general or individual feelings which,
beneficent or injurious, become principles of action more potent,
perhaps, than any which have heretofore governed men."

Never had moralists a more favorable opportunity to assail the
sensualism of the century, the venality of consciences, and the
corruption instituted by the government: instead of that, what
does the Academy of Moral Sciences do?  With the most automatic
calmness, it establishes a series in which luxury, so long
proscribed by the stoics and ascetics,--those masters of
holiness,--must appear in its turn as a principle of conduct as
legitimate, as pure, and as grand as all those formerly invoked
by religion and philosophy.  Determine, it tells us, the motives
of action (undoubtedly now old and worn-out) of which LUXURY is
historically the providential successor, and, from the
results of the former, calculate the effects of the latter.
Prove, in short, that Aristippus was only in advance of his
century, and that his system of morality must have its day, as
well as that of Zeno and A Kempis.

We are dealing, then, with a society which no longer wishes to be
poor; which mocks at everything that was once dear and sacred to
it,--liberty, religion, and glory,--so long as it has not wealth;
which, to obtain it, submits to all outrages, and becomes an
accomplice in all sorts of cowardly actions: and this burning
thirst for pleasure, this irresistible desire to arrive at
luxury,--a symptom of a new period in civilization,--is the
supreme commandment by virtue of which we are to labor for the
abolition of poverty: thus saith the Academy.  What becomes,
then, of the doctrine of expiation and abstinence, the morality
of sacrifice, resignation, and happy moderation?  What distrust
of the compensation promised in the other life, and what a
contradiction of the Gospel!  But, above all, what a
justification of a government which has adopted as its system the
golden key!  Why have religious men, Christians, Senecas, given
utterance in concert to so many immoral maxims?

The Academy, completing its thought, will reply to us:--

"Show how the progress of criminal justice, in the prosecution
and punishment of attacks upon persons and property, follows and
marks the ages of civilization from the savage condition up to
that of the best- governed nations."

Is it possible that the criminal lawyers in the Academy of Moral
Sciences foresaw the conclusion of their premises?  The fact
whose history is now to be studied, and which the Academy
describes by the words "progress of criminal justice," is simply
the gradual mitigation which manifests itself, both in the
forms of criminal examinations and in the penalties inflicted, in
proportion as civilization increases in liberty, light, and
wealth.  So that, the principle of repressive institutions being
the direct opposite of all those on which the welfare of society
depends, there is a constant elimination of all parts of the
penal system as well as all judicial paraphernalia, and the final
inference from this movement is that the guarantee of order lies
neither in fear nor punishment; consequently, neither in hell nor

What a subversion of received ideas!  What a denial of all that
it is the business of the Academy of Moral Sciences to defend!
But, if the guarantee of order no longer lies in the fear of a
punishment to be suffered, either in this life or in another,
where then are to be found the guarantees protective of persons
and property?  Or rather, without repressive institutions, what
becomes of property?  And without property, what becomes of the

The Academy, which knows nothing of all these things, replies
without agitation:--

"Review the various phases of the organization of the family upon
the soil of France from ancient times down to our day."

Which means:  Determine, by the previous progress of family
organization, the conditions of the existence of the family in a
state of equality of fortunes, voluntary and free association,
universal solidarity, material comfort and luxury, and public
order without prisons, courts, police, or hangmen.

There will be astonishment, perhaps, at finding that the Academy
of Moral and Political Sciences, after having, like the boldest
innovators, called in question all the principles of social
order,--religion, family, property, justice,--has not also
proposed this problem:  WHAT IS THE BEST FORM OF GOVERNMENT?
In fact, government is for society the source of all initiative,
every guarantee, every reform.  It would be, then, interesting to
know whether the government, as constituted by the Charter, is
adequate to the practical solution of the Academy's questions.

But it would be a misconception of the oracles to imagine that
they proceed by induction and analysis; and precisely because the
political problem was a condition or corollary of the
demonstrations asked for, the Academy could not offer it for
competition.  Such a conclusion would have opened its eyes, and,
without waiting for the memoirs of the competitors, it would have
hastened to suppress its entire programme.  The Academy has
approached the question from above.  It has said:--

The works of God are beautiful in their own essence, justificata
in semet ipsa; they are true, in a word, because they are his.
The thoughts of man resemble dense vapors pierced by long and

As if the Academy had said to us:  You shall verify the
hypothesis of your existence, the hypothesis of the Academy which
interrogates you, the hypotheses of time, space, motion, thought,
and the laws of thought.  Then you may verify the hypothesis of
pauperism, the hypothesis of inequality of conditions, the
hypothesis of universal association, the hypothesis of happiness,
the hypotheses of monarchy and republicanism, the hypothesis of
Providence! . . . .

A complete criticism of God and humanity.

I point to the programme of the honorable society: it is not I
who have fixed the conditions of my task, it is the Academy of
Moral and Political Sciences.  Now, how can I satisfy these
conditions, if I am not myself endowed with infallibility; in
a word, if I am not God or divine?  The Academy admits, then,
that divinity and humanity are identical, or at least
correlative; but the question now is in what consists this
correlation: such is the meaning of the problem of certainty,
such is the object of social philosophy.

Thus, then, in the name of the society that God inspires, an
Academy questions.

In the name of the same society, I am one of the prophets who
attempt to answer.  The task is an immense one, and I do not
promise to accomplish it:  I will go as far as God shall give me
strength.  But, whatever I may say, it does not come from me: the
thought which inspires my pen is not personal, and nothing that I
write can be attributed to me.  I shall give the facts as I have
seen them; I shall judge them by what I shall have said; I shall
call everything by its strongest name, and no one will take
offence.  I shall inquire freely, and by the rules of divination
which I have learned, into the meaning of the divine purpose
which is now expressing itself through the eloquent lips of sages
and the inarticulate wailings of the people: and, though I should
deny all the prerogatives guaranteed by our Constitution, I shall
not be factious.  I shall point my finger whither an invisible
influence is pushing us; and neither my action nor my words shall
be irritating.  I shall stir up the cloud, and, though I should
cause it to launch the thunderbolt, I should be innocent.  In
this solemn investigation to which the Academy invites me, I have
more than the right to tell the truth,--I have the right to say
what I think: may my thought, my words, and the truth be but one
and the same thing!

And you, reader,--for without a reader there is no writer,--you
are half of my work.  Without you, I am only sounding brass;
with the aid of your attention, I will speak marvels.  Do you see
this passing whirlwind called SOCIETY, from which burst forth,
with startling brilliancy, lightnings, thunders, and voices?  I
wish to cause you to place your finger on the hidden springs
which move it; but to that end you must reduce yourself at my
command to a state of pure intelligence.  The eyes of love and
pleasure are powerless to recognize beauty in a skeleton, harmony
in naked viscera, life in dark and coagulated blood: consequently
the secrets of the social organism are a sealed letter to the man
whose brain is beclouded by passion and prejudice.  Such
sublimities are unattainable except by cold and silent
contemplation.  Suffer me, then, before revealing to your eyes
the leaves of the book of life, to prepare your soul by this
sceptical purification which the great teachers of the
people--Socrates, Jesus Christ, St. Paul, St. Remi, Bacon,
Descartes, Galileo, Kant, etc.--have always claimed of their

Whoever you may be, clad in the rags of misery or decked in the
sumptuous vestments of luxury, I restore you to that state of
luminous nudity which neither the fumes of wealth nor the poisons
of envious poverty dim.  How persuade the rich that the
difference of conditions arises from an error in the accounts;
and how can the poor, in their beggary, conceive that the
proprietor possesses in good faith?  To investigate the
sufferings of the laborer is to the idler the most intolerable of
amusements; just as to do justice to the fortunate is to the
miserable the bitterest of draughts.

You occupy a high position:  I strip you of it; there you are,
free.  There is too much optimism beneath this official costume,
too much subordination, too much idleness.  Science demands an
insurrection of thought: now, the thought of an official is his

Your mistress, beautiful, passionate, artistic, is, I like to
believe, possessed only by you.  That is, your soul, your spirit,
your conscience, have passed into the most charming object of
luxury that nature and art have produced for the eternal torment
of fascinated mortals.  I separate you from this divine half of
yourself: at the present day it is too much to wish for justice
and at the same time to love a woman.  To think with grandeur and
clearness, man must remove the lining of his nature and hold to
his masculine hypostasis.  Besides, in the state in which I have
put you, your lover would no longer know you: remember the wife
of Job.

What is your religion? . . . .  Forget your faith, and, through
wisdom, become an atheist.--What! you say; an atheist in spite of
our hypothesis!--No, but because of our hypothesis.  One's
thought must have been raised above divine things for a long time
to be entitled to suppose a personality beyond man, a life beyond
this life.  For the rest, have no fears for your salvation.  God
is not angry with those who are led by reason to deny him, any
more than he is anxious for those who are led by faith to worship
him; and, in the state of your conscience, the surest course for
you is to think nothing about him.  Do you not see that it is
with religion as with governments, the most perfect of which
would be the denial of all?  Then let no political or religious
fancy hold your soul captive; in this way only can you now keep
from being either a dupe or a renegade.  Ah! said I in the days
of my enthusiastic youth, shall I not hear the tolling for the
second vespers of the republic, and our priests, dressed in white
tunics, singing after the Doric fashion the returning hymn:
Change o Dieu, notre servitude, comme le vent du desert en un
souffle rafraichissan! . . . . .  But I have despaired of
republicans, and no longer know either religion or priests.

I should like also, in order to thoroughly secure your judgment,
dear reader, to render your soul insensible to pity, superior to
virtue, indifferent to happiness.  But that would be too much to
expect of a neophyte.  Remember only, and never forget, that
pity, happiness, and virtue, like country, religion, and love,
are masks. . . .



% 1.--Opposition between FACT and RIGHT in social economy.

I affirm the REALITY of an economic science.

This proposition, which few economists now dare to question, is
the boldest, perhaps, that a philosopher ever maintained; and the
inquiries to follow will prove, I hope, that its demonstration
will one day be deemed the greatest effort of the human mind.

I affirm, on the other hand, the ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY as well as
the PROGRESSIVE nature of economic science, of all the sciences
in my opinion the most comprehensive, the purest, the best
supported by facts: a new proposition, which alters this science
into logic or metaphysics in concreto, and radically changes the
basis of ancient philosophy.  In other words, economic science is
to me the objective form and realization of metaphysics; it is
metaphysics in action, metaphysics projected on the vanishing
plane of time; and whoever studies the laws of labor and exchange
is truly and specially a metaphysician.

After what I have said in the introduction, there is nothing in
this which should surprise any one.  The labor of man continues
the work of God, who, in creating all beings, did but externally
realize the eternal laws of reason.  Economic science is, then,
necessarily and at once a theory of ideas, a natural theology,
and a psychology.  This general outline alone would have sufficed
to explain why, having to treat of economic matters, I was
obliged previously to suppose the existence of God, and by what
title I, a simple economist, aspire to solve the problem of

But I hasten to say that I do not regard as a science the
incoherent ensemble of theories to which the name POLITICAL
ECONOMY has been officially given for almost a hundred years, and
which, in spite of the etymology of the name, is after ail but
the code, or immemorial routine, of property.  These theories
offer us only the rudiments, or first section, of economic
science; and that is why, like property, they are all
contradictory of each other, and half the time inapplicable.  The
proof of this assertion, which is, in one sense, a denial of
political economy as handed down to us by Adam Smith, Ricardo,
Malthus, and J. B. Say, and as we have known it for half a
century, will be especially developed in this treatise.

The inadequacy of political economy has at all times impressed
thoughtful minds, who, too fond of their dreams for practical
investigation, and confining themselves to the estimation of
apparent results, have constituted from the beginning a party of
opposition to the statu quo, and have devoted themselves to
persevering, and systematic ridicule of civilization and its
customs.  Property, on the other hand, the basis of all social
institutions, has never lacked zealous defenders, who, proud to
be called PRACTICAL, have exchanged blow for blow with the
traducers of political economy, and have labored with a
courageous and often skilful hand to strengthen the edifice which
general prejudice and individual liberty have erected in concert.

The controversy between conservatives and reformers, still
pending, finds its counterpart, in the history of philosophy, in
the quarrel between realists and nominalists; it is almost
useless to add that, on both sides, right and wrong are equal,
and that the rivalry, narrowness, and intolerance of opinions
have been the sole cause of the misunderstanding.

Thus two powers are contending for the government of the world,
and cursing each other with the fervor of two hostile religions:
political economy, or tradition; and socialism, or utopia.

What is, then, in more explicit terms, political economy?  What
is socialism?

Political economy is a collection of the observations thus far
made in regard to the phenomena of the production and
distribution of wealth; that is, in regard to the most common,
most spontaneous, and therefore most genuine, forms of labor and

The economists have classified these observations as far as they
were able; they have described the phenomena, and ascertained
their contingencies and relations; they have observed in them, in
many cases, a quality of necessity which has given them the name
of LAWS; and this ensemble of information, gathered from the
simplest manifestations of society, constitutes political

Political economy is, therefore, the natural history of the most
apparent and most universally accredited customs, traditions,
practices, and methods of humanity in all that concerns the
production and distribution of wealth.  By this title,
political economy considers itself legitimate in FACT and in
RIGHT: in fact, because the phenomena which it studies are
constant, spontaneous, and universal; in right, because these
phenomena rest on the authority of the human race, the strongest
authority possible.  Consequently, political economy calls itself
a SCIENCE; that is, a rational and systematic knowledge of
regular and necessary facts.

Socialism, which, like the god Vishnu, ever dying and ever
returning to life, has experienced within a score of years its
ten-thousandth incarnation in the persons of five or six
revelators,--socialism affirms the irregularity of the present
constitution of society, and, consequently, of all its previous
forms.  It asserts, and proves, that the order of civilization is
artificial, contradictory, inadequate; that it engenders
oppression, misery, and crime; it denounces, not to say
calumniates, the whole past of social life, and pushes on with
all its might to a reformation of morals and institutions.

Socialism concludes by declaring political economy a false and
sophistical hypothesis, devised to enable the few to exploit the
many; and applying the maxim A fructibus cognoscetis, it ends
with a demonstration of the impotence and emptiness of political
economy by the list of human calamities for which it makes it

But if political economy is false, jurisprudence, which in all
countries is the science of law and custom, is false also; since,
founded on the distinction of thine and mine, it supposes the
legitimacy of the facts described and classified by political
economy.  The theories of public and international law, with all
the varieties of representative government, are also false, since
they rest on the principle of individual appropriation and the
absolute sovereignty of wills.

All these consequences socialism accepts.  To it, political
economy, regarded by many as the physiology of wealth, is but the
organization of robbery and poverty; just as jurisprudence,
honored by legists with the name of written reason, is, in its
eyes, but a compilation of the rubrics of legal and official
spoliation,--in a word, of property.  Considered in their
relations, these two pretended sciences, political economy and
law, form, in the opinion of socialism, the complete theory of
iniquity and discord.  Passing then from negation to affirmation,
socialism opposes the principle of property with that of
association, and makes vigorous efforts to reconstruct social
economy from top to bottom; that is, to establish a new code, a
new political system, with institutions and morals diametrically
opposed to the ancient forms.

Thus the line of demarcation between socialism and political
economy is fixed, and the hostility flagrant.

Political economy tends toward the glorification of selfishness;
socialism favors the exaltation of communism.

The economists, saving a few violations of their principles, for
which they deem it their duty to blame governments, are optimists
with regard to accomplished facts; the socialists, with regard to
facts to be accomplished.

The first affirm that that which ought to be IS; the second,
that that which ought to be IS NOT.  Consequently, while the
first are defenders of religion, authority, and the other
principles contemporary with, and conservative of,
property,--although their criticism, based solely on reason,
deals frequent blows at their own prejudices,--the second reject
authority and faith, and appeal exclusively to science,--
although a certain religiosity, utterly illiberal, and an
unscientific disdain for facts, are always the most obvious
characteristics of their doctrines.

For the rest, neither party ever ceases to accuse the other of
incapacity and sterility.

The socialists ask their opponents to account for the inequality
of conditions, for those commercial debaucheries in which
monopoly and competition, in monstrous union, perpetually give
birth to luxury and misery; they reproach economic theories,
always modeled after the past, with leaving the future hopeless;
in short, they point to the regime of property as a horrible
hallucination, against which humanity has protested and struggled
for four thousand years.

The economists, on their side, defy socialists to produce a
system in which property, competition, and political organization
can be dispensed with; they prove, with documents in hand, that
all reformatory projects have ever been nothing but rhapsodies of
fragments borrowed from the very system that socialism sneers
at,--plagiarisms, in a word, of political economy, outside of
which socialism is incapable of conceiving and formulating an

Every day sees the proofs in this grave suit accumulating, and
the question becoming confused.

While society has traveled and stumbled, suffered and thrived, in
pursuing the economic routine, the socialists, since Pythagoras,
Orpheus, and the unfathomable Hermes, have labored to establish
their dogma in opposition to political economy.  A few attempts
at association in accordance with their views have even been made
here and there: but as yet these exceptional undertakings, lost
in the ocean of property, have been without result; and, as if
destiny had resolved to exhaust the economic hypothesis before
attacking the socialistic utopia, the reformatory party is
obliged to content itself with pocketing the sarcasms of its
adversaries while waiting for its own turn to come.

This, then, is the state of the cause: socialism incessantly
denounces the crimes of civilization, verifies daily the
powerlessness of political economy to satisfy the harmonic
attractions of man, and presents petition after petition;
political economy fills its brief with socialistic systems, all
of which, one after another, pass away and die, despised by
common sense.  The persistence of evil nourishes the complaint of
the one, while the constant succession of reformatory checks
feeds the malicious irony of the other.  When will judgment be
given?  The tribunal is deserted; meanwhile, political economy
improves its opportunities, and, without furnishing bail,
continues to lord it over the world; possideo quia possideo.

If we descend from the sphere of ideas to the realities of the
world, the antagonism will appear still more grave and

When, in these recent years, socialism, instigated by prolonged
convulsions, made its fantastic appearance in our midst, men whom
all controversy had found until then indifferent and lukewarm
went back in fright to monarchical and religious ideas;
democracy, which was charged with being developed at last to its
ultimate, was cursed and driven back.  This accusation of the
conservatives against the democrats was a libel.  Democracy is by
nature as hostile to the socialistic idea as incapable of filling
the place of royalty, against which it is its destiny endlessly
to conspire.  This soon became evident, and we are witnesses of
it daily in the professions of Christian and proprietary faith by
democratic publicists, whose abandonment by the people began at
that moment.

On the other hand, philosophy proves no less distinct from
socialism, no less hostile to it, than politics and religion.

For just as in politics the principle of democracy is the
sovereignty of numbers, and that of monarchy the sovereignty of
the prince; just as likewise in affairs of conscience religion is
nothing but submission to a mystical being, called God, and to
the priests who represent him; just as finally in the economic
world property--that is, exclusive control by the individual of
the instruments of labor--is the point of departure of every
theory,--so philosophy, in basing itself upon the a priori
assumptions of reason, is inevitably led to attribute to the ME
alone the generation and autocracy of ideas, and to deny the
metaphysical value of experience; that is, universally to
substitute, for the objective law, absolutism, despotism.

Now, a doctrine which, springing up suddenly in the heart of
society, without antecedents and without ancestors, rejected from
every department of conscience and society the arbitrary
principle, in order to substitute as sole truth the relation of
facts; which broke with tradition, and consented to make use of
the past only as a point from which to launch forth into the
future,--such a doctrine could not fail to stir up against it the
established AUTHORITIES; and we can see today how, in spite of
their internal discords, the said AUTHORITIES, which are but one,
combine to fight the monster that is ready to swallow them.

To the workingmen who complain of the insufficiency of wages and
the uncertainty of labor, political economy opposes the liberty
of commerce; to the citizens who are seeking for the conditions
of liberty and order, the ideologists respond with representative
systems; to the tender souls who, having lost their ancient
faith, ask the reason and end of their existence, religion
proposes the unfathomable secrets of Providence, and philosophy
holds doubt in reserve.  Subterfuges always; complete ideas,
in which heart and mind find rest, never!  Socialism cries that
it is time to set sail for the mainland, and to enter port: but,
say the antisocialists, there is no port; humanity sails onward
in God's care, under the command of priests, philosophers,
orators, economists, and our circumnavigation is eternal.

Thus society finds itself, at its origin, divided into two great
parties: the one traditional and essentially hierarchical, which,
according to the object it is considering, calls itself by turns
royalty or democracy, philosophy or religion, in short, property;
the other socialism, which, coming to life at every crisis of
civilization, proclaims itself preeminently ANARCHICAL and
ATHEISTIC; that is, rebellious against all authority, human and

Now, modern civilization has demonstrated that in a conflict of
this nature the truth is found, not in the exclusion of one of
the opposites, but wholly and solely in the reconciliation of the
two; it is, I say, a fact of science that every antagonism,
whether in Nature or in ideas, is resolvable in a more general
fact or in a complex formula, which harmonizes the opposing
factors by absorbing them, so to speak, in each other.  Can we
not, then, men of common sense, while awaiting the solution which
the future will undoubtedly bring forth, prepare ourselves for
this great transition by an analysis of the struggling powers, as
well as their positive and negative qualities?  Such a work,
performed with accuracy and conscientiousness, even though it
should not lead us directly to the solution, would have at least
the inestimable advantage of revealing to us the conditions of
the problem, and thereby putting us on our guard against every
form of utopia.

What is there, then, in political economy that is necessary
and true; whither does it tend; what are its powers; what are
its wishes?  It is this which I propose to determine in this
work.  What is the value of socialism?  The same investigation
will answer this question also.

For since, after all, socialism and political economy pursue the
same end,--namely, liberty, order, and well-being among men,--it
is evident that the conditions to be fulfilled--in other words,
the difficulties to be overcome--to attain this end, are also the
same for both, and that it remains only to examine the methods
attempted or proposed by either party.  But since, moreover, it
has been given thus far to political economy alone to translate
its ideas into acts, while socialism has scarcely done more than
indulge in perpetual satire, it is no less clear that, in judging
the works of economy according to their merit, we at the same
time shall reduce to its just value the invective of the
socialists: so that our criticism, though apparently special,
will lead to absolute and definitive conclusions.

This it is necessary to make clearer by a few examples, before
entering fully upon the examination of political economy.

% 2.--Inadequacy of theories and criticisms.

We will record first an important observation: the contending
parties agree in acknowledging a common authority, whose support
each claims,--SCIENCE.

Plato, a utopian, organized his ideal republic in the name of
science, which, through modesty and euphemism, he called
philosophy.  Aristotle, a practical man, refuted the Platonic
utopia in the name of the same philosophy.  Thus the social war
has continued since Plato and Aristotle.  The modern socialists
refer all things to science one and indivisible, but without
power to agree either as to its content, its limits, or its
method; the economists, on their side, affirm that social science
in no wise differs from political economy.

It is our first business, then, to ascertain what a science of
society must be.

Science, in general, is the logically arranged and systematic
knowledge of that which IS.

Applying this idea to society, we will say:  Social science is
the logically arranged and systematic knowledge, not of that
which society HAS BEEN, nor of that which it WILL BE, but of
that which it IS in its whole life; that is, in the sum total of
its successive manifestations: for there alone can it have reason
and system.  Social science must include human order, not alone
in such or such a period of duration, nor in a few of its
elements; but in all its principles and in the totality of its
existence: as if social evolution, spread throughout time and
space, should find itself suddenly gathered and fixed in a
picture which, exhibiting the series of the ages and the sequence
of phenomena, revealed their connection and unity.  Such must be
the science of every living and progressive reality; such social
science indisputably is.

It may be, then, that political economy, in spite of its
individualistic tendency and its exclusive affirmations, is a
constituent part of social science, in which the phenomena that
it describes are like the starting-points of a vast
triangulation and the elements of an organic and complex whole.
From this point of view, the progress of humanity, proceeding
from the simple to the complex, would be entirely in harmony with
the progress of science; and the conflicting and so often
desolating facts, which are today the basis and object of
political economy, would have to be considered by us as so
many special hypotheses, successively realized by humanity in
view of a superior hypothesis, whose realization would solve all
difficulties, and satisfy socialism without destroying political
economy.  For, as I said in my introduction, in no case can we
admit that humanity, however it expresses itself, is mistaken.

Let us now make this clearer by facts.

The question now most disputed is unquestionably that of the

As John the Baptist preached in the desert, REPENT YE, so the
socialists go about proclaiming everywhere this novelty old as
the world, ORGANIZE LABOR, though never able to tell what, in
their opinion, this organization should be.  However that may be,
the economists have seen that this socialistic clamor was
damaging their theories: it was, indeed, a rebuke to them for
ignoring that which they ought first to recognize,--labor.  They
have replied, therefore, to the attack of their adversaries,
first by maintaining that labor is organized, that there is no
other organization of labor than liberty to produce and exchange,
either on one's own personal account, or in association with
others,--in which case the course to be pursued has been
prescribed by the civil and commercial codes.  Then, as this
argument served only to make them the laughing-stock of their
antagonists, they assumed the offensive; and, showing that the
socialists understood nothing at all themselves of this
organization that they held up as a scarecrow, they ended by
saying that it was but a new socialistic chimera, a word without
sense,--an absurdity.  The latest writings of the economists are
full of these pitiless conclusions.

Nevertheless, it is certain that the phrase organization of labor
contains as clear and rational a meaning as these that
follow: organization of the workshop, organization of the
army, organization of police, organization of charity,
organization of war.  In this respect, the argument of the
economists is deplorably irrational.  No less certain is it that
the organization of labor cannot be a utopia and chimera; for at
the moment that labor, the supreme condition of civilization,
begins to exist, it follows that it is already submitted to an
organization, such as it is, which satisfies the economists, but
which the socialists think detestable.

There remains, then, relatively to the proposal to organize labor
formulated by socialism, this objection,--that labor is
organized.  Now, this is utterly untenable, since it is notorious
that in labor, supply, demand, division, quantity, proportion,
price, and security, nothing, absolutely nothing is regulated; on
the contrary, everything is given up to the caprices of
free-will; that is, to chance.

As for us, guided by the idea that we have formed of social
science, we shall affirm, against the socialists and against the
economists, not that labor MUST BE ORGANIZED, nor that it is

Labor, we say, is being organized: that is, the process of
organization has been going on from the beginning of the world,
and will continue till the end.  Political economy teaches us the
primary elements of this organization; but socialism is right in
asserting that, in its present form, the organization is
inadequate and transitory; and the whole mission of science is
continually to ascertain, in view of the results obtained and the
phenomena in course of development, what innovations can be
immediately effected.

Socialism and political economy, then, while waging a burlesque
war, pursue in reality the same idea,--the organization of labor.

But both are guilty of disloyalty to science and of mutual
calumny, when on the one hand political economy, mistaking for
science its scraps of theory, denies the possibility of further
progress; and when socialism, abandoning tradition, aims at
reestablishing society on undiscoverable bases.

Thus socialism is nothing but a profound criticism and continual
development of political economy; and, to apply here the
celebrated aphorism of the school, Nihil est in intellectu, quod
non prius fuerit in sensu, there is nothing in the socialistic
hypotheses which is not duplicated in economic practice.  On the
other hand, political economy is but an impertinent rhapsody, so
long as it affirms as absolutely valid the facts collected by
Adam Smith and J. B. Say.

Another question, no less disputed than the preceding one, is
that of usury, or lending at interest.

Usury, or in other words the price of use, is the emolument, of
whatever nature, which the proprietor derives from the loan of
his property.  Quidquid sorti accrescit usura est, say the
theologians.  Usury, the foundation of credit, was one of the
first of the means which social spontaneity employed in its work
of organization, and whose analysis discloses the profound laws
of civilization.  The ancient philosophers and the Fathers of the
Church, who must be regarded here as the representatives of
socialism in the early centuries of the Christian era, by a
singular fallacy,--which arose however from the paucity of
economic knowledge in their day,--allowed farm-rent and condemned
interest on money, because, as they believed, money was
unproductive.  They distinguished consequently between the loan
of things which are consumed by use--among which they included
money--and the loan of things which, without being consumed,
yield a product to the user.

The economists had no difficulty in showing, by generalizing the
idea of rent, that in the economy of society the action of
capital, or its productivity, was the same whether it was
consumed in wages or retained the character of an instrument;
that, consequently, it was necessary either to prohibit the rent
of land or to allow interest on money, since both were by the
same title payment for privilege, indemnity for loan.  It
required more than fifteen centuries to get this idea accepted,
and to reassure the consciences that had been terrified by the
anathemas pronounced by Catholicism against usury.  But finally
the weight of evidence and the general desire favored the
usurers: they won the battle against socialism; and from this
legitimation of usury society gained some immense and
unquestionable advantages.  Under these circumstances socialism,
which had tried to generalize the law enacted by Moses for the
Israelites alone, Non foeneraberis proximo tuo, sed alieno, was
beaten by an idea which it had accepted from the economic
routine,-- namely, farm-rent,--elevated into the theory of the
productivity of capital.

But the economists in their turn were less fortunate, when they
were afterwards called upon to justify farm-rent in itself, and
to establish this theory of the product of capital.  It may be
said that, on this point, they have lost all the advantage they
had at first gained against socialism.

Undoubtedly--and I am the first to recognize it--the rent of
land, like that of money and all personal and real property, is a
spontaneous and universal fact, which has its source in the
depths of our nature, and which soon becomes, by its natural
development, one of the most potent means of organization.  I
shall prove even that interest on capital is but the
materialization of the aphorism, ALL LABOR SHOULD LEAVE AN
EXCESS.  But in the face of this theory, or rather this fiction,
of the productivity of capital, arises another thesis no less
certain, which in these latter days has struck the ablest
economists: it is that all value is born of labor, and is
composed essentially of wages; in other words, that no wealth has
its origin in privilege, or acquires any value except through
work; and that, consequently, labor alone is the source of
revenue among men.  How, then, reconcile the theory of farm-rent
or productivity of capital--a theory confirmed by universal
custom, which conservative political economy is forced to accept
but cannot justify--with this other theory which shows that value
is normally composed of wages, and which inevitably ends, as we
shall demonstrate, in an equality in society between net product
and raw product?

The socialists have not wasted the opportunity.  Starting with
the principle that labor is the source of all income, they began
to call the holders of capital to account for their farm-rents
and emoluments; and, as the economists won the first victory by
generalizing under a common expression farm-rent and usury, so
the socialists have taken their revenge by causing the seignorial
rights of capital to vanish before the still more general
principle of labor.  Property has been demolished from top to
bottom: the economists could only keep silent; but, powerless to
arrest itself in this new descent, socialism has slipped clear to
the farthest boundaries of communistic utopia, and, for want of a
practical solution, society is reduced to a position where it can
neither justify its tradition, nor commit itself to experiments
in which the least mistake would drive it backward several
thousand years.

In such a situation what is the mandate of science?

Certainly not to halt in an arbitrary, inconceivable, and
impossible juste milieu; it is to generalize further, and
discover a third principle, a fact, a superior law, which shall
explain the fiction of capital and the myth of property, and
reconcile them with the theory which makes labor the origin of
all wealth.  This is what socialism, if it wishes to proceed
logically, must undertake.  In fact, the theory of the real
productivity of labor, and that of the fictitious productivity of
capital, are both essentially economical: socialism has
endeavored only to show the contradiction between them, without
regard to experience or logic; for it appears to be as destitute
of the one as of the other.  Now, in law, the litigant who
accepts the authority of a title in one particular must accept it
in all; it is not allowable to divide the documents and proofs.
Had socialism the right to decline the authority of political
economy in relation to usury, when it appealed for support to
this same authority in relation to the analysis of value?  By no
means.  All that socialism could demand in such a case was,
either that political economy should be directed to reconcile its
theories, or that it might be itself intrusted with this
difficult task.

The more closely we examine these solemn discussions, the more
clearly we see that the whole trouble is due to the fact that one
of the parties does not wish to see, while the other refuses to

It is a principle of our law that no one can be deprived of his
property except for the sake of general utility, and in
consideration of a fair indemnity payable in advance.

This principle is eminently an economic one; for, on the one
hand, it assumes the right of eminent domain of the citizen
expropriated, whose consent, according to the democratic spirit
of the social compact, is necessarily presupposed.  On the other
hand, the indemnity, or the price of the article taken, is
fixed, not by the intrinsic value of the article, but by the
general law of commerce,--supply and demand; in a word, by
opinion.  Expropriation in the name of society may be likened to
a contract of convenience, agreed to by each with all; not only
then must the price be paid, but the convenience also must be
paid for: and it is thus, in reality, that the indemnity is
estimated.  If the Roman legists had seen this analogy, they
undoubtedly would have hesitated less over the question of
expropriation for the sake of public utility.

Such, then, is the sanction of the social right of expropriation:

Now, practically, not only is the principle of indemnity not
applied in all cases where it ought to be, but it is impossible
that it should be so applied.  Thus, the law which established
railways provided indemnity for the lands to be occupied by the
rails; it did nothing for the multitude of industries dependent
upon the previous method of conveyance, whose losses far exceeded
the value of the lands whose owners received compensation.
Similarly, when the question of indemnifying the manufacturers of
beet-root sugar was under consideration, it occurred to no one
that the State ought to indemnify also the large number of
laborers and employees who earned their livelihood in the
beet-root industry, and who were, perhaps, to be reduced to want.

Nevertheless, it is certain, according to the idea of capital and
the theory of production, that as the possessor of land, whose
means of labor is taken from him by the railroad, has a right to
be indemnified, so also the manufacturer, whose capital is
rendered unproductive by the same railroad, is entitled to
indemnification.  Why, then, is he not indemnified?  Alas!
because to indemnify him is impossible.  With such a system of
justice and impartiality society would be, as a general thing,
unable to act, and would return to the fixedness of Roman
justice.  There must be victims.  The principle of indemnity is
consequently abandoned; to one or more classes of citizens the
State is inevitably bankrupt.

At this point the socialists appear.  They charge that the sole
object of political economy is to sacrifice the interests of the
masses and create privileges; then, finding in the law of
expropriation the rudiment of an agrarian law, they suddenly
advocate universal expropriation; that is, production and
consumption in common.

But here socialism relapses from criticism into utopia, and its
incapacity becomes freshly apparent in its contradictions.  If
the principle of expropriation for the sake of public utility,
carried to its logical conclusion, leads to a complete
reorganization of society, before commencing the work the
character of this new organization must be understood; now,
socialism, I repeat, has no science save a few bits of physiology
and political economy.  Further, it is necessary in accordance
with the principle of indemnity, if not to compensate citizens,
at least to guarantee to them the values which they part with; it
is necessary, in short, to insure them against loss.  Now,
outside of the public fortune, the management of which it
demands, where will socialism find security for this same

It is impossible, in sound and honest logic, to escape this
circle.  Consequently the communists, more open in their dealings
than certain other sectarians of flowing and pacific ideas,
decide the difficulty; and promise, the power once in their
hands, to expropriate all and indemnify and guarantee none.  At
bottom, that would be neither unjust nor disloyal.
Unfortunately, to burn is not to reply, as the interesting
Desmoulins said to Robespierre; and such a discussion ends
always in fire and the guillotine.  Here, as everywhere, two
rights, equally sacred, stand in the presence of each other, the
right of the citizen and the right of the State; it is enough to
say that there is a superior formula which reconciles the
socialistic utopias and the mutilated theories of political
economy, and that the problem is to discover it.  In this
emergency what are the contending parties doing?  Nothing.  We
might say rather that they raise questions only to get an
opportunity to redress injuries.  What do I say?  The questions
are not even understood by them; and, while the public is
considering the sublime problems of society and human destiny,
the professors of social science, orthodox and heretics, do not
agree on principles.  Witness the question which occasioned these
inquiries, and which its authors certainly understand no better
than its disparagers,--THE RELATION OF PROFITS AND WAGES.

What! an Academy of economists has offered for competition a
question the terms of which it does not understand!  How, then,
could it have conceived the idea?

Well! I know that my statement is astonishing and incredible; but
it is true.  Like the theologians, who answer metaphysical
problems only by myths and allegories, which always reproduce the
problems but never solve them, the economists reply to the
questions which they ask only by relating how they were led to
ask them: should they conceive that it was possible to go
further, they would cease to be economists.

For example, what is profit?  That which remains for the manager
after he has paid all the expenses.  Now, the expenses consist of
the labor performed and the materials consumed; or, in fine,
wages.  What, then, is the wages of a workingman?  The least
that can be given him; that is, we do not know.  What should be
the price of the merchandise put upon the market by the manager?
The highest that he can obtain; that is, again, we do not know.
Political economy prohibits the supposition that the prices of
merchandise and labor can be FIXED, although it admits that they
can be ESTIMATED; and that for the reason, say the economists,
that estimation is essentially an arbitrary operation, which
never can lead to sure and certain conclusions.  How, then, shall
we find the relation between two unknowns which, according to
political economy, cannot be determined?  Thus political economy
proposes insolvable problems; and yet we shall soon see that it
must propose them, and that our century must solve them.  That is
why I said that the Academy of Moral Sciences, in offering for
competition the question of the relation of profits and wages,
spoke unconsciously, spoke prophetically.

But it will be said, Is it not true that, if labor is in great
demand and laborers are scarce, wages will rise, while profits on
the other hand will decrease; that if, in the press of
competition, there is an excess of production, there will be a
stoppage and forced sales, consequently no profit for the manager
and a danger of idleness for the laborer; that then the latter
will offer his labor at a reduced price; that, if a machine is
invented, it will first extinguish the fires of its rivals; then,
a monopoly established, and the laborer made dependent on the
employer, profits and wages will be inversely proportional?
Cannot all these causes, and others besides, be studied,
ascertained, counterbalanced, etc.?

Oh, monographs, histories!--we have been saturated with them
since the days of Adam Smith and J. B. Say, and they are scarcely
more than variations of these authors' words.  But it is not thus
that the question should be understood, although the Academy has
given it no other meaning.  The RELATION OF PROFITS AND WAGES
should be considered in an absolute sense, and not from the
inconclusive point of view of the accidents of commerce and the
division of interests: two things which must ultimately receive
their interpretation.  Let me explain myself.

Considering producer and consumer as a single individual, whose
recompense is naturally equal to his product; then dividing this
product into two parts, one which rewards the producer for his
outlay, another which represents his profit, according to the
axiom that all labor should leave an excess,--we have to
determine the relation of one of these parts to the other.  This
done, it will be easy to deduce the ratio of the fortunes of
these two classes of men, employers and wage-laborers, as well
as account for all commercial oscillations.  This will be a
series of corollaries to add to the demonstration.

Now, that such a relation may exist and be estimated, there must
necessarily be a law, internal or external, which governs wages
and prices; and since, in the present state of things, wages and
prices vary and oscillate continually, we must ask what are the
general facts, the causes, which make value vary and oscillate,
and within what limits this oscillation takes place.

But this very question is contrary to the accepted principles;
for whoever says OSCILLATION necessarily supposes a mean
direction toward which value's centre of gravity continually
tends; and when the Academy asks that we DETERMINE THE
OSCILLATIONS OF PROFIT AND WAGES, it asks thereby that we
DETERMINE VALUE.  Now that is precisely what the gentlemen of
the Academy deny: they are unwilling to admit that, if value is
variable, it is for that very reason determinable; that
variability is the sign and condition of determinability.  They
pretend that value, ever varying, can never be determined.  This
is like maintaining that, given the number of oscillations of a
pendulum per second, their amplitude, and the latitude and
elevation of the spot where the experiment is performed, the
length of the pendulum cannot be determined because the pendulum
is in motion.  Such is political economy's first article of

As for socialism, it does not appear to have understood the
question, or to be concerned about it.  Among its many organs,
some simply and merely put aside the problem by substituting
division for distribution,--that is, by banishing number and
measure from the social organism: others relieve themselves of
the embarrassment by applying universal suffrage to the wages
question.  It is needless to say that these platitudes find dupes
by thousands and hundreds of thousands.

The condemnation of political economy has been formulated by
Malthus in this famous passage:--

A man who is born into a world already occupied, his family
unable to support him, and society not requiring his labor,--such
a man, I say, has not the least right to claim any nourishment
whatever: he is really one too many on the earth.  At the great
banquet of Nature there is no plate laid for him.  Nature
commands him to take himself away, and she will not be slow to
put her order into execution.[6]

[6 The passage quoted may not be given in the exact words used by
Malthus, it having reached its present shape through the medium
of a French rendering--Translator.

This then is the necessary, the fatal, conclusion of political
economy,--a conclusion which I shall demonstrate by evidence
hitherto unknown in this field of inquiry,--Death to him who does
not possess!

In order better to grasp the thought of Malthus, let us translate
it into philosophical propositions by stripping it of its
rhetorical gloss:--

"Individual liberty, and property, which is its expression, are
economical data; equality and solidarity are not.

"Under this system, each one by himself, each one for himself:
labor, like all merchandise, is subject to fluctuation: hence the
risks of the proletariat.

"Whoever has neither income nor wages has no right to demand
anything of others: his misfortune falls on his own head; in the
game of fortune, luck has been against him."

From the point of view of political economy these propositions
are irrefutable; and Malthus, who has formulated them with such
alarming exactness, is secure against all reproach.  From the
point of view of the conditions of social science, these same
propositions are radically false, and even contradictory.

The error of Malthus, or rather of political economy, does not
consist in saying that a man who has nothing to eat must die; or
in maintaining that, under the system of individual
appropriation, there is no course for him who has neither labor
nor income but to withdraw from life by suicide, unless he
prefers to be driven from it by starvation: such is, on the one
hand, the law of our existence; such is, on the other, the
consequence of property; and M. Rossi has taken altogether too
much trouble to justify the good sense of Malthus on this point.
I suspect, indeed, that M. Rossi, in making so lengthy and loving
an apology for Malthus, intended to recommend political economy
in the same way that his fellow-countryman Machiavel, in his book
entitled "The Prince," recommended despotism to the
admiration of the world.  In pointing out misery as the necessary
condition of industrial and commercial absolutism, M. Rossi seems
to say to us:  There is your law, your justice, your political
economy; there is property.

But Gallic simplicity does not understand artifice; and it would
have been better to have said to France, in her immaculate
tongue:  The error of Malthus, the radical vice of political
economy, consists, in general terms, in affirming as a definitive
state a transitory condition,-- namely, the division of society
into patricians and proletaires; and, particularly, in saying
that in an organized, and consequently solidaire, society, there
may be some who possess, labor, and consume, while others have
neither possession, nor labor, nor bread.  Finally Malthus, or
political economy, reasons erroneously when seeing in the faculty
of indefinite reproduction--which the human race enjoys in
neither greater nor less degree than all animal and vegetable
species--a permanent danger of famine; whereas it is only
necessary to show the necessity, and consequently the existence,
of a law of equilibrium between population and production.

In short, the theory of Malthus--and herein lies the great merit
of this writer, a merit which none of his colleagues has dreamed
of attributing to him--is a reductio ad absurdum of all political

As for socialism, that was summed up long since by Plato and
Thomas More in a single word, UTOPIA,--that is, NO-PLACE, a

Nevertheless, for the honor of the human mind and that justice
may be done to all, this must be said: neither could economic and
legislative science have had any other beginning than they
did have, nor can society remain in this original position.

Every science must first define its domain, produce and collect
its materials: before system, facts; before the age of art, the
age of learning.  The economic science, subject like every other
to the law of time and the conditions of experience, before
seeking to ascertain how things OUGHT TO TAKE PLACE in society,
had to tell us how things DO TAKE PLACE; and all these processes
which the authors speak of so pompously in their books as LAWS,
PRINCIPLES, and THEORIES, in spite of their incoherence and
inconsistency, had to be gathered up with scrupulous diligence,
and described with strict impartiality.  The fulfilment of this
task called for more genius perhaps, certainly for more
self-sacrifice, than will be demanded by the future progress of
the science.

If, then, social economy is even yet rather an aspiration towards
the future than a knowledge of reality, it must be admitted that
the elements of this study are all included in political economy;
and I believe that I express the general sentiment in saying that
this opinion has become that of the vast majority of minds.  The
present finds few defenders, it is true; but the disgust with
utopia is no less universal: and everybody understands that the
truth lies in a formula which shall reconcile these two terms:

Thus, thanks to Adam Smith, J. B. Say, Ricardo, and Malthus, as
well as their rash opponents, the mysteries of fortune, atria
Ditis, are uncovered; the power of capital, the oppression of the
laborer, the machinations of monopoly, illumined at all points,
shun the public gaze.  Concerning the facts observed and
described by the economists, we reason and conjecture:
abusive laws, iniquitous customs, respected so long as the
obscurity which sustained their life lasted, with difficulty
dragged to the daylight, are expiring beneath the general
reprobation; it is suspected that the government of society must
be learned no longer from an empty ideology, after the fashion of
the Contrat social, but, as Montesquieu foresaw, from the
RELATION OF THINGS; and already a Left of eminently socialistic
tendencies, composed of savants, magistrates, legists,
professors, and even capitalists and manufacturers,--all born
representatives and defenders of privilege,--and of a million of
adepts, is forming in the nation above and outside of
PARLIAMENTARY opinions, and seeking, by an analysis of economic
facts, to capture the secrets of the life of societies.

Let us represent political economy, then, as an immense plain,
strewn with materials prepared for an edifice.  The laborers
await the signal, full of ardor, and burning to commence the
work: but the architect has disappeared without leaving the plan.

The economists have stored their memories with many things:
unhappily they have not the shadow of an estimate.  They know the
origin and history of each piece; what it cost to make it; what
wood makes the best joists, and what clay the best bricks; what
has been expended in tools and carts; how much the carpenters
earned, and how much the stone-cutters: they do not know the
destination and the place of anything.  The economists cannot
deny that they have before them the fragments, scattered
pell-mell, of a chef-d'oeuvre, disjecti membra poetae; but it
has been impossible for them as yet to recover the general
design, and, whenever they have attempted any comparisons, they
have met only with incoherence.  Driven to despair at last by
their fruitless combinations, they have erected as a dogma the
architectural incongruity of the science, or, as they say, the
INCONVENIENCES of its principles; in a word, they have denied the

[7] "The principle which governs the life of nations is not pure
science: it is the total of the complex data which depend on the
state of enlightenment, on needs and interests."  Thus expressed
itself, in December, 1844, one of the clearest minds that France
contained, M. Leon Faucher.  Explain, if you can, how a man of
this stamp was led by his economic convictions to declare that
the COMPLEX DATA of society are opposed to PURE SCIENCE.

Thus the division of labor, without which production would be
almost nothing, is subject to a thousand inconveniences, the
worst of which is the demoralization of the laborer; machinery
causes, not only cheapness, but obstruction of the market and
stoppage of business; competition ends in oppression; taxation,
the material bond of society, is generally a scourge dreaded
equally with fire and hail; credit is necessarily accompanied by
bankruptcy; property is a swarm of abuses; commerce degenerates
into a game of chance, in which it is sometimes allowable even to
cheat: in short, disorder existing everywhere to an equal extent
with order, and no one knowing how the latter is to banish the
former, taxis ataxien diokein, the economists have decided that
all is for the best, and regard every reformatory proposition as
hostile to political economy.

The social edifice, then, has been abandoned; the crowd has burst
into the wood-yard; columns, capitals, and plinths, wood, stone,
and metal, have been distributed in portions and drawn by lot:
and, of all these materials collected for a magnificent temple,
property, ignorant and barbarous, has built huts.  The work
before us, then, is not only to recover the plan of the edifice,
but to dislodge the occupants, who maintain that their city is
superb, and, at the very mention of restoration, appear in
battle-array at their gates.  Such confusion was not seen of old
at Babel: happily we speak French, and are more courageous than
the companions of Nimrod.

But enough of allegory: the historical and descriptive method,
successfully employed so long as the work was one of examination
only, is henceforth useless: after thousands of monographs and
tables, we are no further advanced than in the age of Xenophon
and Hesiod.  The Phenicians, the Greeks, the Italians, labored in
their day as we do in ours: they invested their money, paid their
laborers, extended their domains, made their expeditions and
recoveries, kept their books, speculated, dabbled in stocks, and
ruined themselves according to all the rules of economic art;
knowing as well as ourselves how to gain monopolies and fleece
the consumer and laborer.  Of all this accounts are only too
numerous; and, though we should rehearse forever our statistics
and our figures, we should always have before our eyes only
chaos,--chaos constant and uniform.

It is thought, indeed, that from the era of mythology to the
present year 57 of our great revolution, the general welfare has
improved: Christianity has long been regarded as the chief cause
of this amelioration, but now the economists claim all the honor
for their own principles.  For after all, they say, what has been
the influence of Christianity upon society?  Thoroughly utopian
at its birth, it has been able to maintain and extend itself only
by gradually adopting all the economic categories,--labor,
capital, farm-rent, usury, traffic, property; in short, by
consecrating the Roman law, the highest expression of political

Christianity, a stranger in its theological aspect to the
theories of production and consumption, has been to European
civilization what the trades-unions and free-masons were not long
since to itinerant workmen,--a sort of insurance company and
mutual aid society; in this respect, it owes nothing to political
economy, and the good which it has done cannot be invoked by the
latter in its own support.  The effects of charity and
self-sacrifice are outside of the domain of economy, which must
bring about social happiness through justice and the organization
of labor.  For the rest, I am ready to admit the beneficial
effects of the system of property; but I observe that these
effects are entirely balanced by the misery which it is the
nature of this system to produce; so that, as an illustrious
minister recently confessed before the English Parliament, and as
we shall soon show, the increase of misery in the present state
of society is parallel and equal to the increase of
wealth,--which completely annuls the merits of political economy.

Thus political economy is justified neither by its maxims nor by
its works; and, as for socialism, its whole value consists in
having established this fact.  We are forced, then, to resume the
examination of political economy, since it alone contains, at
least in part, the materials of social science; and to ascertain
whether its theories do not conceal some error, the correction of
which would reconcile fact and right, reveal the organic law of
humanity, and give the positive conception of order.



% 1.--Opposition of value in USE and value in EXCHANGE.

Value is the corner-stone of the economic edifice.  The divine
artist who has intrusted us with the continuation of his work has
explained himself on this point to no one; but the few
indications given may serve as a basis of conjecture.  Value, in
fact, presents two faces: one, which the economists call value in
USE, or intrinsic value; another, value in EXCHANGE, or of
opinion.  The effects which are produced by value under this
double aspect, and which are very irregular so long as it is not
established,--or, to use a more philosophical expression, so long
as it is not constituted,--are changed totally by this

Now, in what consists the correlation between USEFUL value and
value in EXCHANGE?  What is meant by CONSTITUTED value, and by
what sudden change is this constitution effected?  To answer
these questions is the object and end of political economy.  I
beg the reader to give his whole attention to what is to follow,
this chapter being the only one in the work which will tax his
patience.  For my part, I will endeavor to be more and more
simple and clear.

Everything which can be of any service to me is of value to me,
and the more abundant the useful thing is the richer I am: so
far there is no difficulty.  Milk and flesh, fruits and grains,
wool, sugar, cotton, wine, metals, marble; in fact, land, water,
air, fire, and sunlight,-- are, relatively to me, values of use,
values by nature and function.  If all the things which serve to
sustain my life were as abundant as certain of them are, light
for instance,--in other words, if the quantity of every valuable
thing was inexhaustible,--my welfare would be forever assured: I
should not have to labor; I should not even think.  In such a
state, things would always be USEFUL, but it would be no longer
true to say that they ARE VALUABLE; for value, as we shall soon
see, indicates an essentially social relation; and it is solely
through exchange, reverting as it were from society to Nature,
that we have acquired the idea of utility.  The whole development
of civilization originates, then, in the necessity which the
human race is under of continually causing the creation of new
values; just as the evils of society are primarily caused by the
perpetual struggle which we maintain against our own inertia.
Take away from man that desire which leads him to think and fits
him for a life of contemplation, and the lord of creation stands
on a level with the highest of the beasts.

But how does value in use become value in exchange?  For it
should be noticed that the two kinds of value, although
coexisting in thought (since the former becomes apparent only in
the presence of the latter), nevertheless maintain a relation of
succession: exchangeable value is a sort of reflex of useful
value; just as the theologians teach that in the Trinity the
Father, contemplating himself through all eternity, begets the
Son.  This generation of the idea of value has not been noted by
the economists with sufficient care: it is important that we
should tarry over it.

Since, then, of the objects which I need, a very large number
exist in Nature only in moderate quantities, or even not at all,
I am forced to assist in the production of that which I lack;
and, as I cannot turn my hand to so many things, I propose to
other men, my collaborators in various functions, to yield me a
portion of their products in exchange for mine.  I shall then
always have in my possession more of my own special product than
I consume; just as my fellows will always have in their
possession more of their respective products than they use.  This
tacit agreement is fulfilled by COMMERCE.  Here we may observe
that the logical succession of the two kinds of value is even
more apparent in history than in theory, men having spent
thousands of years in disputing over natural wealth (this being
what is called PRIMITIVE COMMUNISM) before their industry
afforded opportunity for exchange.

Now, the capacity possessed by all products, whether natural or
the result of labor, of serving to maintain man, is called
distinctively value in use; their capacity of purchasing each
other, value in exchange.  At bottom this is the same thing,
since the second case only adds to the first the idea of
substitution, which may seem an idle subtlety; practically, the
consequences are surprising, and beneficial or fatal by turns.

Consequently, the distinction established in value is based on
facts, and is not at all arbitrary: it is for man, in submitting
to this law, to use it to increase his welfare and liberty.
Labor, as an author (M. Walras) has beautifully expressed it, is
a war declared against the parsimony of Nature; by it wealth and
society are simultaneously created.  Not only does labor produce
incomparably more wealth than Nature gives us,--for instance, it
has been remarked that the shoemakers alone in France produce
ten times more than the mines of Peru, Brazil, and Mexico
combined,--but, labor infinitely extending and multiplying its
rights by the changes which it makes in natural values, it
gradually comes about that all wealth, in running the gauntlet of
labor, falls wholly into the hands of him who creates it, and
that nothing, or almost nothing, is left for the possessor of the
original material.

Such, then, is the path of economic progress: at first,
appropriation of the land and natural values; then, association
and distribution through labor until complete equality is
attained.  Chasms are scattered along our road, the sword is
suspended over our heads; but, to avert all dangers, we have
reason, and reason is omnipotence.

It results from the relation of useful value to exchangeable
value that if, by accident or from malice, exchange should be
forbidden to a single producer, or if the utility of his product
should suddenly cease, though his storehouses were full, he would
possess nothing.  The more sacrifices he had made and the more
courage he had displayed in producing, the greater would be his
misery.  If the utility of the product, instead of wholly
disappearing, should only diminish,--a thing which may happen in
a hundred ways,--the laborer, instead of being struck down and
ruined by a sudden catastrophe, would be impoverished only;
obliged to give a large quantity of his own value for a small
quantity of the values of others, his means of subsistence would
be reduced by an amount equal to the deficit in his sale: which
would lead by degrees from competency to want.  If, finally, the
utility of the product should increase, or else if its production
should become less costly, the balance of exchange would turn to
the advantage of the producer, whose condition would thus be
raised from fatiguing mediocrity to idle opulence.  This
phenomenon of depreciation and enrichment is manifested under a
thousand forms and by a thousand combinations; it is the essence
of the passional and intriguing game of commerce and industry.
And this is the lottery, full of traps, which the economists
think ought to last forever, and whose suppression the Academy of
Moral and Political Sciences unwittingly demands, when, under the
names of profit and wages, it asks us to reconcile value in use
and value in exchange; that is, to find the method of rendering
all useful values equally exchangeable, and, vice versa, all
exchangeable values equally useful.

The economists have very clearly shown the double character of
value, but what they have not made equally plain is its
contradictory nature.  Here begins our criticism.

Utility is the necessary condition of exchange; but take away
exchange, and utility vanishes: these two things are indissolubly
connected.  Where, then, is the contradiction?

Since all of us live only by labor and exchange, and grow richer
as production and exchange increase, each of us produces as much
useful value as possible, in order to increase by that amount his
exchanges, and consequently his enjoyments.  Well, the first
effect, the inevitable effect, of the multiplication of values is
to LOWER them: the more abundant is an article of merchandise,
the more it loses in exchange and depreciates commercially.  Is
it not true that there is a contradiction between the necessity
of labor and its results?

I adjure the reader, before rushing ahead for the explanation, to
arrest his attention upon the fact.

A peasant who has harvested twenty sacks of wheat, which he with
his family proposes to consume, deems himself twice as rich
as if he had harvested only ten; likewise a housewife who has
spun fifty yards of linen believes that she is twice as rich as
if she had spun but twenty- five.  Relatively to the household,
both are right; looked at in their external relations, they may
be utterly mistaken.  If the crop of wheat is double throughout
the whole country, twenty sacks will sell for less than ten would
have sold for if it had been but half as great; so, under similar
circumstances, fifty yards of linen will be worth less than
twenty-five: so that value decreases as the production of utility
increases, and a producer may arrive at poverty by continually
enriching himself.  And this seems unalterable, inasmuch as there
is no way of escape except all the products of industry become
infinite in quantity, like air and light, which is absurd.  God
of my reason!  Jean Jacques would have said: it is not the
economists who are irrational; it is political economy itself
which is false to its definitions.  Mentita est iniquitas sibi.

In the preceding examples the useful value exceeds the
exchangeable value: in other cases it is less.  Then the same
phenomenon is produced, but in the opposite direction: the
balance is in favor of the producer, while the consumer suffers.
This is notably the case in seasons of scarcity, when the high
price of provisions is always more or less factitious.  There are
also professions whose whole art consists in giving to an article
of minor usefulness, which could easily be dispensed with, an
exaggerated value of opinion: such, in general, are the arts of
luxury.  Man, through his aesthetic passion, is eager for the
trifles the possession of which would highly satisfy his vanity,
his innate desire for luxury, and his more noble and more
respectable love of the beautiful: upon this the dealers in this
class of articles speculate.  To tax fancy and elegance is no
less odious or absurd than to tax circulation: but such a tax is
collected by a few fashionable merchants, whom general
infatuation protects, and whose whole merit generally consists in
warping taste and generating fickleness.  Hence no one complains;
and all the maledictions of opinion are reserved for the
monopolists who, through genius, succeed in raising by a few
cents the price of linen and bread.

It is little to have pointed out this astonishing contrast
between useful value and exchangeable value, which the economists
have been in the habit of regarding as very simple: it must be
shown that this pretended simplicity conceals a profound mystery,
which it is our duty to fathom.

I summon, therefore, every serious economist to tell me,
otherwise than by transforming or repeating the question, for
what reason value decreases in proportion as production augments,
and reciprocally what causes this same value to increase in
proportion as production diminishes.  In technical terms, useful
value and exchangeable value, necessary to each other, are
inversely proportional to each other; I ask, then, why scarcity,
instead of utility, is synonymous with dearness.  For--mark it
well--the price of merchandise is independent of the amount of
labor expended in production; and its greater or less cost does
not serve at all to explain the variations in its price.  Value
is capricious, like liberty: it considers neither utility nor
labor; on the contrary, it seems that, in the ordinary course of
affairs, and exceptional derangements aside, the most useful
objects are those which are sold at the lowest price; in other
words, that it is just that the men who perform the most
attractive labor should be the best rewarded, while those whose
tasks demand the most exertion are paid the least.  So that, in
following the principle to its ultimate consequences, we
reach the most logical of conclusions: that things whose use is
necessary and quantity infinite must be gratuitous, while those
which are without utility and extremely scarce must bear an
inestimable price.  But, to complete the embarrassment, these
extremes do not occur in practice: on the one hand, no human
product can ever become infinite in quantity; on the other, the
rarest things must be in some degree useful, else they would not
be susceptible of value.  Useful value and exchangeable value
remain, then, in inevitable attachment, although it is their
nature continually to tend towards mutual exclusion.

I shall not fatigue the reader with a refutation of the
logomachies which might be offered in explanation of this
subject: of the contradiction inherent in the idea of value there
is no assignable cause, no possible explanation.  The fact of
which I speak is one of those called primitive,--that is, one of
those which may serve to explain others, but which in themselves,
like the bodies called simple, are inexplicable.  Such is the
dualism of spirit and matter.  Spirit and matter are two terms
each of which, taken separately, indicates a special aspect of
spirit, but corresponds to no reality.  So, given man's needs of
a great variety of products together with the obligation of
procuring them by his labor, the opposition of useful value to
exchangeable value necessarily results; and from this opposition
a contradiction on the very threshold of political economy.  No
intelligence, no will, divine or human, can prevent it.

Therefore, instead of searching for a chimerical explanation, let
us content ourselves with establishing the necessity of the
contradiction. Whatever the abundance of created values and the
proportion in which they exchange for each other, in order
that we may exchange our products, mine must suit you when you
are the BUYER, and I must be satisfied with yours when you are
the SELLER.  For no one has a right to impose his own
merchandise upon another: the sole judge of utility, or in other
words the want, is the buyer.  Therefore, in the first case, you
have the deciding power; in the second, I have it.  Take away
reciprocal liberty, and exchange is no longer the expression of
industrial solidarity: it is robbery.  Communism, by the way,
will never surmount this difficulty.

But, where there is liberty, production is necessarily
undetermined, either in quantity or in quality; so that from the
point of view of economic progress, as from that of the relation
of consumers, valuation always is an arbitrary matter, and the
price of merchandise will ever fluctuate.  Suppose for a moment
that all producers should sell at a fixed price: there would be
some who, producing at less cost and in better quality, would get
much, while others would get nothing.  In every way equilibrium
would be destroyed.  Do you wish, in order to prevent business
stagnation, to limit production strictly to the necessary amount?

That would be a violation of liberty: for, in depriving me of the
power of choice, you condemn me to pay the highest price; you
destroy competition, the sole guarantee of cheapness, and
encourage smuggling.  In this way, to avoid commercial
absolutism, you would rush into administrative absolutism; to
create equality, you would destroy liberty, which is to deny
equality itself.  Would you group producers in a single workshop
(supposing you to possess this secret)?  That again does not
suffice: it would be necessary also to group consumers in a
common household, whereby you would abandon the point.  We are
not to abolish the idea of value, which is as impossible as to
abolish labor, but to determine it; we are not to kill
individual liberty, but to socialize it.  Now, it is proved that
it is the free will of man that gives rise to the opposition
between value in use and value in exchange: how reconcile this
opposition while free will exists?  And how sacrifice the latter
without sacrificing man?

Then, from the very fact that I, as a free purchaser, am judge of
my own wants, judge of the fitness of the object, judge of the
price I wish to pay, and that you on the other hand, as a free
producer, control the means of production, and consequently have
the power to reduce your expenses, absolutism forces itself
forward as an element of value, and causes it to oscillate
between utility and opinion.

But this oscillation, clearly pointed out by the economists, is
but the effect of a contradiction which, repeating itself on a
vast scale, engenders the most unexpected phenomena.  Three years
of fertility, in certain provinces of Russia, are a public
calamity, just as, in our vineyards, three years of abundance are
a calamity to the wine-grower I know well that the economists
attribute this distress to a lack of markets; wherefore this
question of markets is an important one with them.  Unfortunately
the theory of markets, like that of emigration with which they
attempted to meet Malthus, is a begging of the question.  The
States having the largest market are as subject to
over-production as the most isolated countries: where are high
and low prices better known than in the stock-exchanges of Paris
and London?

From the oscillation of value and the irregular effects resulting
therefrom the socialists and economists, each in their own way,
have reasoned to opposite, but equally false, conclusions: the
former have made it a text for the slander of political economy
and its exclusion from social science; the latter, for the
denial of all possibility of reconciliation, and the affirmation
of the incommensurability of values, and consequently the
inequality of fortunes, as an absolute law of commerce.

I say that both parties are equally in error.

1. The contradictory idea of value, so clearly exhibited by the
inevitable distinction between useful value and value in exchange
does not arise from a false mental perception, or from a vicious
terminology, or from any practical error; it lies deep in the
nature of things, and forces itself upon the mind as a general
form of thought,--that is, as a category.  Now, as the idea of
value is the point of departure of political economy, it follows
that all the elements of the science--I use the word science in
anticipation--are contradictory in themselves and opposed to each
other: so truly is this the case that on every question the
economist finds himself continually placed between an affirmation
and a negation alike irrefutable.  ANTINOMY, in fine, to use a
word sanctioned by modern philosophy, is the essential
characteristic of political economy; that is to say, it is at
once its death-sentence and its justification.

ANTINOMY, literally COUNTER-LAW, means opposition in principle
or antagonism in relation, just as contradiction or ANTILOGY
indicates opposition or discrepancy in speech.  Antinomy,--I ask
pardon for entering into these scholastic details, comparatively
unfamiliar as yet to most economists,--antinomy is the conception
of a law with two faces, the one positive, the other negative.
Such, for instance, is the law called ATTRACTION, by which the
planets revolve around the sun, and which mathematicians have
analyzed into centripetal force and centrifugal force.  Such also
is the problem of the infinite divisibility of matter, which, as
Kant has shown, can be denied and affirmed successively by
arguments equally plausible and irrefutable.

Antinomy simply expresses a fact, and forces itself imperatively
on the mind; contradiction, properly speaking, is an absurdity.
This distinction between antinomy (contra-lex) and contradiction
(contra-dictio) shows in what sense it can be said that, in a
certain class of ideas and facts, the argument of contradiction
has not the same value as in mathematics.

In mathematics it is a rule that, a proposition being proved
false, its opposite is true, and vice versa.  In fact, this is
the principal method of mathematical demonstration.  In social
economy, it is not the same: thus we see, for example, that
property being proved by its results to be false, the opposite
formula, communism, is none the truer on this account, but is
deniable at the same time and by the same title as property.
Does it follow, as has been said with such ridiculous emphasis,
that every truth, every idea, results from a contradiction,--
that is, from a something which is affirmed and denied at the
same moment and from the same point of view,--and that it may be
necessary to abandon wholly the old-fashioned logic, which
regards contradiction as the infallible sign of error?  This
babble is worthy of sophists who, destitute of faith and honesty,
endeavor to perpetuate scepticism in order to maintain their
impertinent uselessness.  Because antinomy, immediately it is
misunderstood, leads inevitably to contradiction, these have been
mistaken for each other, especially among the French, who like to
judge everything by its effects.  But neither contradiction nor
antinomy, which analysis discovers at the bottom of every simple
idea, is the principle of truth.  Contradiction is always
synonymous with nullity; as for antinomy, sometimes called by
the same name, it is indeed the forerunner of truth, the material
of which, so to speak, it supplies; but it is not truth, and,
considered in itself, it is the efficient cause of disorder, the
characteristic form of delusion and evil.

An antinomy is made up of two terms, necessary to each other, but
always opposed, and tending to mutual destruction.  I hardly dare
to add, as I must, that the first of these terms has received the
name thesis, position, and the second the name anti-thesis,
counter-position.  This method of thought is now so well-known
that it will soon figure, I hope, in the text-books of the
primary schools.  We shall see directly how from the combination
of these two zeros unity springs forth, or the idea which dispels
the antinomy.

Thus, in value, there is nothing useful that cannot be exchanged,
nothing exchangeable if it be not useful: value in use and value
in exchange are inseparable.  But while, by industrial progress,
demand varies and multiplies to an infinite extent, and while
manufactures tend in consequence to increase the natural utility
of things, and finally to convert all useful value into
exchangeable value, production, on the other hand, continually
increasing the power of its instruments and always reducing its
expenses, tends to restore the venal value of things to their
primitive utility: so that value in use and value in exchange are
in perpetual struggle.

The effects of this struggle are well-known: the wars of commerce
and of the market; obstructions to business; stagnation;
prohibition; the massacres of competition; monopoly; reductions
of wages; laws fixing maximum prices; the crushing inequality of
fortunes; misery,--all these result from the antinomy of value.
The proof of this I may be excused from giving here, as it will
appear naturally in the chapters to follow.

The socialists, while justly demanding that this antagonism be
brought to an end, have erred in mistaking its source, and in
seeing in it only a mental oversight, capable of rectification by
a legal decree.  Hence this lamentable outbreak of
sentimentalism, which has rendered socialism so insipid to
positive minds, and which, spreading the absurdest delusions,
makes so many fresh dupes every day.  My complaint of socialism
is not that it has appeared among us without cause, but that it
has clung so long and so obstinately to its silliness.

2. But the economists have erred no less gravely in rejecting a
priori, and just because of the contradictory, or rather
antinomical, nature of value, every idea and hope of reform,
never desiring to understand that, for the very reason that
society has arrived at its highest point of antagonism,
reconciliation and harmony are at hand.  This, nevertheless, is
what a close study of political economy would have shown to its
adepts, had they paid more attention to the lights of modern
metaphysics.  It is indeed demonstrated, by the most positive
evidence known to the human mind, that wherever an antinomy
appears there is a promise of a resolution of its terms, and
consequently an announcement of a coming change.  Now, the idea
of value, as developed by J. B. Say among others, satisfies
exactly these conditions.  But the economists, who have remained
for the most part by an inconceivable fatality ignorant of the
movement of philosophy, have guarded against the supposition that
the essentially contradictory, or, as they say, variable,
character of value might be at the same time the authentic sign
of its constitutionality,--that is, of its eminently harmonious
and determinable nature.  However dishonorable it may be to the
economists of the various schools, it is certain that their
opposition to socialism results solely from this false
conception of their own principles; one proof, taken from a
thousand, will suffice.

The Academy of Sciences (not that of Moral Sciences, but the
other), going outside of its province one day, listened to a
paper in which it was proposed to calculate tables of value for
all kinds of merchandise upon the basis of the average product
per man and per day's labor in each branch of industry.  "Le
Journal des Economistes" (August, 1845) immediately made this
communication, intrusive in its eyes, the text of a protest
against the plan of tariff which was its object, and the occasion
of a reestablishment of what it called true principles:--

"There is no measure of value, no standard of value," it said in
its conclusions; "economic science tells us this, just as
mathematical science tells us that there is no perpetual motion
or quadrature of the circle, and that these never will be found.
Now, if there is no standard of value, if the measure of value is
not even a metaphysical illusion, what then is the law which
governs exchanges? . . . . .  As we have said before, it is, in a
general way, SUPPLY and DEMAND: that is the last word of

Now, how did "Le Journal des Economistes" prove that there is no
measure of value?  I use the consecrated expression: though I
shall show directly that this phrase, MEASURE OF VALUE, is
somewhat ambiguous, and does not convey the exact meaning which
it is intended, and which it ought, to express.

This journal repeated, with accompanying examples, the exposition
that we have just given of the variability of value, but without
arriving, as we did, at the contradiction.  Now, if the estimable
editor, one of the most distinguished economists of the
school of Say, had had stricter logical habits; if he had been
long used, not only to observing facts, but to seeking their
explanation in the ideas which produce them,--I do not doubt that
he would have expressed himself more cautiously, and that,
instead of seeing in the variability of value the LAST WORD OF
SCIENCE, he would have recognized unaided that it is the first.
Seeing that the variability of value proceeds not from things,
but from the mind, he would have said that, as human liberty has
its law, so value must have its law; consequently, that the
hypothesis of a measure of value, this being the common
expression, is not at all irrational; quite the contrary, that it
is the denial of this measure that is illogical, untenable.

And indeed, what is there in the idea of measuring, and
consequently of fixing, value, that is unscientific?  All men
believe in it; all wish it, search for it, suppose it: every
proposition of sale or purchase is at bottom only a comparison
between two values,--that is, a determination, more or less
accurate if you will, but nevertheless effective.  The opinion of
the human race on the existing difference between real value and
market price may be said to be unanimous.  It is for this reason
that so many kinds of merchandise are sold at a fixed price;
there are some, indeed, which, even in their variations, are
always fixed,--bread, for instance.  It will not be denied that,
if two manufacturers can supply one another by an account
current, and at a settled price, with quantities of their
respective products, ten, a hundred, a thousand manufacturers can
do the same.  Now, that would be a solution of the problem of the
measure of value.  The price of everything would be debated upon,
I allow, because debate is still our only method of fixing
prices; but yet, as all light is the result of conflict, debate,
though it may be a proof of uncertainty, has for its object,
setting aside the greater or less amount of good faith that
enters into it, the discovery of the relation of values to each
other,-- that is, their measurement, their law.

Ricardo, in his theory of rent, has given a magnificent example
of the commensurability of values.  He has shown that arable
lands are to each other as the crops which they yield with the
same outlay; and here universal practice is in harmony with
theory.  Now who will say that this positive and sure method of
estimating the value of land, and in general of all engaged
capital, cannot be applied to products also? . . . . .

They say:  Political economy is not affected by a priori
arguments; it pronounces only upon facts.  Now, facts and
experience teach us that there is no measure of value and can be
none, and prove that, though the conception of such an idea was
necessary in the nature of things, its realization is wholly
chimerical.  Supply and demand is the sole law of exchange.

I will not repeat that experience proves precisely the contrary;
that everything, in the economic progress of society, denotes a
tendency toward the constitution and establishment of value; that
that is the culminating point of political economy--which by this
constitution becomes transformed--and the supreme indication of
order in society: this general outline, reiterated without proof,
would become tiresome.  I confine myself for the moment within
the limits of the discussion, and say that SUPPLY and DEMAND,
held up as the sole regulators of value, are nothing more than
two ceremonial forms serving to bring useful value and
exchangeable value face to face, and to provoke their
reconciliation.  They are the two electric poles, whose
connection must produce the economical phenomenon of affinity
called EXCHANGE.  Like the poles of a battery, supply and demand
are diametrically opposed to each other, and tend continually to
mutual annihilation; it is by their antagonism that the price of
things is either increased, or reduced to nothing: we wish to
know, then, if it is not possible, on every occasion, so to
balance or harmonize these two forces that the price of things
always may be the expression of their true value, the expression
of justice.  To say after that that supply and demand is the law
of exchange is to say that supply and demand is the law of supply
and demand; it is not an explanation of the general practice, but
a declaration of its absurdity; and I deny that the general
practice is absurd.

I have just quoted Ricardo as having given, in a special
instance, a positive rule for the comparison of values: the
economists do better still.  Every year they gather from tables
of statistics the average prices of the various grains.  Now,
what is the meaning of an average?  Every one can see that in a
single operation, taken at random from a million, there is no
means of knowing which prevailed, supply--that is, useful
value--or exchangeable value,--that is, demand.  But as every
increase in the price of merchandise is followed sooner or later
by a proportional reduction; as, in other words, in society the
profits of speculation are equal to the losses,--we may regard
with good reason the average of prices during a complete period
as indicative of the real and legitimate value of products.  This
average, it is true, is ascertained too late: but who knows that
we could not discover it in advance?  Is there an economist who
dares to deny it?

Nolens volens, then, the measure of value must be sought for:
logic commands it, and her conclusions are adverse to
economists and socialists alike.  The opinion which denies
the existence of this measure is irrational, unreasonable.  Say
as often as you please, on the one hand, that political economy
is a science of facts, and that the facts are contrary to the
hypothesis of a determination of value, or, on the other, that
this troublesome question would not present itself in a system of
universal association, which would absorb all antagonism,--I will
reply still, to the right and to the left:--

1. That as no fact is produced which has not its cause, so none
exists which has not its law; and that, if the law of exchange is
not discovered, the fault is, not with the facts, but with the

2. That, as long as man shall labor in order to live, and shall
labor freely, justice will be the condition of fraternity and the
basis of association; now, without a determination of value,
justice is imperfect, impossible.

% 2.--Constitution of value; definition of wealth.

We know value in its two opposite aspects; we do not know it in
its TOTALITY.  If we can acquire this new idea, we shall have
absolute value; and a table of values, such as was called for in
the memoir read to the Academy of Sciences, will be possible.

Let us picture wealth, then, as a mass held by a chemical force
in a permanent state of composition, in which new elements,
continually entering, combine in different proportions, but
according to a certain law: value is the proportional relation
(the measure) in which each of these elements forms a part of the

From this two things result: one, that the economists have been
wholly deluded when they have looked for the general measure of
value in wheat, specie, rent, etc., and also when, after having
demonstrated that this standard of measure was neither here nor
there, they have concluded that value has neither law nor
measure; the other, that the proportion of values may continually
vary without ceasing on that account to be subject to a law,
whose determination is precisely the solution sought.

This idea of value satisfies, as we shall see, all the
conditions: for it includes at once both the positive and fixed
element in useful value and the variable element in exchangeable
value; in the second place, it puts an end to the contradiction
which seemed an insurmountable obstacle in the way of the
determination of value; further, we shall show that value thus
understood differs entirely from a simple juxtaposition of the
two ideas of useful and exchangeable value, and that it is
endowed with new properties.

The proportionality of products is not a revelation that we
pretend to offer to the world, or a novelty that we bring into
science, any more than the division of labor was an unheard-of
thing when Adam Smith explained its marvels.  The proportionality
of products is, as we might prove easily by innumerable
quotations, a common idea running through the works on political
economy, but to which no one as yet has dreamed of attributing
its rightful importance: and this is the task which we undertake
today.  We feel bound, for the rest, to make this declaration in
order to reassure the reader concerning our pretensions to
originality, and to satisfy those minds whose timidity leads them
to look with little favor upon new ideas.

The economists seem always to have understood by the measure of
value only a standard, a sort of original unit, existing by
itself, and applicable to all sorts of merchandise, as the yard
is applicable to all lengths.  Consequently, many have thought
that such a standard is furnished by the precious metals.  But
the theory of money has proved that, far from being the measure
of values, specie is only their arithmetic, and a conventional
arithmetic at that.  Gold and silver are to value what the
thermometer is to heat.  The thermometer, with its arbitrarily
graduated scale, indicates clearly when there is a loss or an
increase of heat: but what the laws of heat-equilibrium are; what
is its proportion in various bodies; what amount is necessary to
cause a rise of ten, fifteen, or twenty degrees in the
thermometer,--the thermometer does not tell us; it is not certain
even that the degrees of the scale, equal to each other,
correspond to equal additions of heat.

The idea that has been entertained hitherto of the measure of
value, then, is inexact; the object of our inquiry is not the
standard of value, as has been said so often and so foolishly,
but the law which regulates the proportions of the various
products to the social wealth; for upon the knowledge of this law
depends the rise and fall of prices in so far as it is normal and
legitimate.  In a word, as we understand by the measure of
celestial bodies the relation resulting from the comparison of
these bodies with each other, so, by the measure of values, we
must understand the relation which results from their comparison.

Now, I say that this relation has its law, and this comparison
its principle.

I suppose, then, a force which combines in certain proportions
the elements of wealth, and makes of them a homogeneous whole: if
the constituent elements do not exist in the desired proportion,
the combination will take place nevertheless; but, instead of
absorbing all the material, it will reject a portion as useless.
The internal movement by which the combination is produced, and
which the affinities of the various substances determine--this
movement in society is exchange; exchange considered no longer
simply in its elementary form and between man and man, but
exchange considered as the fusion of all values produced by
private industry in one and the same mass of social wealth.
Finally, the proportion in which each element enters into the
compound is what we call value; the excess remaining after the
combination is NON-VALUE, until the addition of a certain
quantity of other elements causes further combination and

We will explain later the function of money.

This determined, it is conceivable that at a given moment the
proportions of values constituting the wealth of a country may be
determined, or at least empirically approximated, by means of
statistics and inventories, in nearly the same way that the
chemists have discovered by experience, aided by analysis, the
proportions of hydrogen and oxygen necessary to the formation of
water.  There is nothing objectionable in this method of
determining values; it is, after all, only a matter of accounts.
But such a work, however interesting it might be, would teach us
nothing very useful.  On the one hand, indeed, we know that the
proportion continually varies; on the other, it is clear that
from a statement of the public wealth giving the proportions of
values only for the time and place when and where the statistics
should be gathered we could not deduce the law of proportionality
of wealth.  For that, a single operation of this sort would not
be sufficient; thousands and millions of similar ones would be
necessary, even admitting the method to be worthy of confidence.

Now, here there is a difference between economic science and
chemistry.  The chemists, who have discovered by experience such
beautiful proportions, know no more of their how or why than of
the force which governs them.  Social economy, on the contrary,
to which no a posteriori investigation could reveal directly the
law of proportionality of values, can grasp it in the very force
which produces it, and which it is time to announce.

This force, which Adam Smith has glorified so eloquently, and
which his successors have misconceived (making privilege its
equal),--this force is LABOR.  Labor differs in quantity and
quality with the producer; in this respect it is like all the
great principles of Nature and the most general laws, simple in
their action and formula, but infinitely modified by a multitude
of special causes, and manifesting themselves under an
innumerable variety of forms.  It is labor, labor alone, that
produces all the elements of wealth, and that combines them to
their last molecules according to a law of variable, but certain,
proportionality.  It is labor, in fine, that, as the principle of
life, agitates (mens agitat) the material (molem) of wealth, and
proportions it.

Society, or the collective man, produces an infinitude of
objects, the enjoyment of which constitutes its WELL-BEING.
This well-being is developed not only in the ratio of the
QUANTITY of the products, but also in the ratio of their
VARIETY (quality) and PROPORTION.  From this fundamental datum
it follows that society always, at each instant of its life, must
strive for such proportion in its products as will give the
greatest amount of well-being, considering the power and means of
production.  Abundance, variety, and proportion in products are
the three factors which constitute WEALTH: wealth, the object of
social economy, is subject to the same conditions of existence as
beauty, the object of art; virtue, the object of morality; and
truth, the object of metaphysics.

But how establish this marvelous proportion, so essential that
without it a portion of human labor is lost,--that is, useless,
inharmonious, untrue, and consequently synonymous with poverty
and annihilation?

Prometheus, according to the fable, is the symbol of human
activity.  Prometheus steals the fire of heaven, and invents the
early arts; Prometheus foresees the future, and aspires to
equality with Jupiter; Prometheus is God.  Then let us call
society Prometheus.

Prometheus devotes, on an average, ten hours a day to labor,
seven to rest, and seven to pleasure.  In order to gather from
his toil the most useful fruit, Prometheus notes the time and
trouble that each object of his consumption costs him.  Only
experience can teach him this, and this experience lasts
throughout his life.  While laboring and producing, then,
Prometheus is subject to an infinitude of disappointments.  But,
as a final result, the more he labors, the greater is his
well-being and the more idealized his luxury; the further he
extends his conquests over Nature, the more strongly he fortifies
within him the principle of life and intelligence in the exercise
of which he alone finds happiness; till finally, the early
education of the Laborer completed and order introduced into his
occupations, to labor, with him, is no longer to suffer,--it is
to live, to enjoy.  But the attractiveness of labor does not
nullify the rule, since, on the contrary, it is the fruit of it;
and those who, under the pretext that labor should be attractive,
reason to the denial of justice and to communism, resemble
children who, after having gathered some flowers in the garden,
should arrange a flower-bed on the staircase.

In society, then, justice is simply the proportionality of
values; its guarantee and sanction is the responsibility of the

Prometheus knows that such a product costs an hour's labor, such
another a day's, a week's, a year's; he knows at the same time
that all these products, arranged according to their cost, form
the progression of his wealth.  First, then, he will assure his
existence by providing himself with the least costly, and
consequently most necessary, things; then, as fast as his
position becomes secure, he will look forward to articles of
luxury, proceeding always, if he is wise, according to the
natural position of each article in the scale of prices.
Sometimes Prometheus will make a mistake in his calculations, or
else, carried away by passion, he will sacrifice an immediate
good to a premature enjoyment, and, after having toiled and
moiled, he will starve.  Thus, the law carries with it its own
sanction; its violation is inevitably accompanied by the
immediate punishment of the transgressor.

Say, then, was right in saying:  "The happiness of this class
(the consumers), composed of all the others, constitutes the
general well- being, the state of prosperity of a country."  Only
he should have added that the happiness of the class of
producers, which also is composed of all the others, equally
constitutes the general well-being, the state of prosperity of a
country.  So, when he says:  "The fortune of each consumer is
perpetually at war with all that he buys," he should have added
again:  "The fortune of each producer is incessantly attacked by
all that he sells."  In the absence of a clear expression of this
reciprocity, most economical phenomena become unintelligible; and
I will soon show how, in consequence of this grave omission, most
economists in writing their books have talked wildly about the
balance of trade.

I have just said that society produces first THE LEAST COSTLY,
cheapness of products is always a correlative of their necessity,
and vice versa; so that these two words, NECESSITY and
CHEAPNESS, like the following ones, COSTLINESS and
SUPERFLUITY, are synonymes?

If each product of labor, taken alone, would suffice for the
existence of man, the synonymy in question would not be doubtful;
all products having the same qualities, those would be most
advantageously produced, and therefore the most necessary, which
cost the least.  But the parallel between the utility and price
of products is not characterized by this theoretical precision:
either through the foresight of Nature or from some other cause,
the balance between needs and productive power is more than a
theory,--it is a fact, of which daily practice, as well as social
progress, gives evidence.

Imagine ourselves living in the day after the birth of man at the
beginning of civilization: is it not true that the industries
originally the simplest, those which required the least
preparation and expense, were the following: GATHERING,
PASTURAGE, HUNTING, and FISHING, which were followed long
afterwards by agriculture?  Since then, these four primitive
industries have been perfected, and moreover appropriated: a
double circumstance which does not change the meaning of the
facts, but, on the contrary, makes it more manifest.  In fact,
property has always attached itself by preference to objects of
the most immediate utility, to MADE VALUES, if I may so speak;
so that the scale of values might be fixed by the progress of

In his work on the "Liberty of Labor" M. Dunoyer has positively
accepted this principle by distinguishing four great classes of
industry, which he arranges according to the order of their
development,--that is, from the least labor-cost to the greatest.

These are EXTRACTIVE INDUSTRY,--including all the semi-barbarous
functions mentioned above,--COMMERCIAL INDUSTRY, MANUFACTURING,
INDUSTRY, AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY.  And it is for a profound reason
that the learned author placed agriculture last in the list.
For, despite its great antiquity, it is certain that this
industry has not kept pace with the others, and the succession of
human affairs is not decided by their origin, but by their entire
development.  It may be that agricultural industry was born
before the others, and it may be that all were contemporary; but
that will be deemed of the latest date which shall be perfected

Thus the very nature of things, as well as his own wants,
indicates to the laborer the order in which he should effect the
production of the values that make up his well-being.  Our law of
proportionality, then, is at once physical and logical, objective
and subjective; it has the highest degree of certainty.  Let us
pursue the application.

Of all the products of labor, none perhaps has cost longer and
more patient efforts than the calendar.  Nevertheless, there is
none the enjoyment of which can now be procured more cheaply, and
which, consequently, by our own definitions, has become more
necessary.  How, then, shall we explain this change?  Why has the
calendar, so useless to the early hordes, who only needed the
alternation of night and day, as of winter and summer, become at
last so indispensable, so unexpensive, so perfect?  For, by a
marvelous harmony, in social economy all these adjectives are
interconvertible.  How account, in short, by our law of
proportion, for the variability of the value of the calendar?

In order that the labor necessary to the production of the
calendar might be performed, might be possible, man had to find
means of gaining time from his early occupations and from those
which immediately followed them.  In other words, these
industries had to become more productive, or less costly, than
they were at the beginning: which amounts to saying that it was
necessary first to solve the problem of the production of the
calendar from the extractive industries themselves.

Suppose, then, that suddenly, by a fortunate combination of
efforts, by the division of labor, by the use of some machine, by
better management of the natural resources,--in short, by his
industry,--Prometheus finds a way of producing in one day as much
of a certain object as he formerly produced in ten: what will
follow?  The product will change its position in the table of the
elements of wealth; its power of affinity for other products, so
to speak, being increased, its relative value will be
proportionately diminished, and, instead of being quoted at one
hundred, it will thereafter be quoted only at ten.  But this
value will still and always be none the less accurately
determined, and it will still be labor alone which will fix the
degree of its importance.  Thus value varies, and the law of
value is unchangeable: further, if value is susceptible of
variation, it is because it is governed by a law whose principle
is essentially inconstant,--namely, labor measured by time.

The same reasoning applies to the production of the calendar as
to that of all possible values.  I do not need to explain
how--civilization (that is, the social fact of the increase of
life) multiplying our tasks, rendering our moments more and more
precious, and obliging us to keep a perpetual and detailed record
of our whole life--the calendar has become to all one of the most
necessary things.  We know, moreover, that this wonderful
discovery has given rise, as its natural complement, to one of
our most valuable industries, the manufacture of clocks and

At this point there very naturally arises an objection, the only
one that can be offered against the theory of the proportionality
of values.

Say and the economists who have succeeded him have observed that,
labor being itself an object of valuation, a species of
merchandise indeed like any other, to take it as the principal
and efficient cause of value is to reason in a vicious circle.
Therefore, they conclude, it is necessary to fall back on
scarcity and opinion.

These economists, if they will allow me to say it, herein have
shown themselves wonderfully careless.  Labor is said TO HAVE
VALUE, not as merchandise itself, but in view of the values
supposed to be contained in it potentially.  The VALUE OF LABOR
is a figurative expression, an anticipation of effect from cause.

It is a fiction by the same title as the PRODUCTIVITY OF
CAPITAL.  Labor produces, capital has value: and when, by a sort
of ellipsis, we say the value of labor, we make an enjambement
which is not at all contrary to the rules of language, but which
theorists ought to guard against mistaking for a reality.  Labor,
like liberty, love, ambition, genius, is a thing vague and
indeterminate in its nature, but qualitatively defined by its
object,--that is, it becomes a reality through its product.
When, therefore, we say:  This man's labor is worth five francs
per day, it is as if we should say:  The daily product of this
man's labor is worth five francs.

Now, the effect of labor is continually to eliminate scarcity and
opinion as constitutive elements of value, and, by necessary
consequence, to transform natural or indefinite utilities
(appropriated or not) into measurable or social utilities: whence
it follows that labor is at once a war declared upon the
parsimony of Nature and a permanent conspiracy against property.

According to this analysis, value, considered from the point of
view of the association which producers, by division of labor and
by exchange, naturally form among themselves, is the PROPORTIONAL
call the value of any special product is a formula which
expresses, in terms of money, the proportion of this product to
the general wealth.--Utility is the basis of value; labor fixes
the relation; the price is the expression which, barring the
fluctuations that we shall have to consider, indicates this

Such is the centre around which useful and exchangeable value
oscillate, the point where they are finally swallowed up and
disappear: such is the absolute, unchangeable law which regulates
economic disturbances and the freaks of industry and commerce,
and governs progress.  Every effort of thinking and laboring
humanity, every individual and social speculation, as an
integrant part of collective wealth, obeys this law.  It was the
destiny of political economy, by successively positing all its
contradictory terms, to make this law known; the object of social
economy, which I ask permission for a moment to distinguish from
political economy, although at bottom there is no difference
between them, will be to spread and apply it universally.

The theory of the measure or proportionality of values is, let it
be noticed, the theory of equality itself.  Indeed, just as in
society, where we have seen that there is a complete identity
between producer and consumer, the revenue paid to an idler
is like value cast into the flames of Etna, so the laborer who
receives excessive wages is like a gleaner to whom should be
given a loaf of bread for gathering a stalk of grain: and all
that the economists have qualified as UNPRODUCTIVE CONSUMPTION
is in reality simply a violation of the law of proportionality.

We shall see in the sequence how, from these simple data, the
social genius gradually deduces the still obscure system of
organization of labor, distribution of wages, valuation of
products, and universal solidarity.  For social order is
established upon the basis of inexorable justice, not at all upon
the paradisical sentiments of fraternity, self-sacrifice, and
love, to the exercise of which so many honorable socialists are
endeavoring now to stimulate the people.  It is in vain that,
following Jesus Christ, they preach the necessity, and set the
example, of sacrifice; selfishness is stronger, and only the law
of severity, economic fatality, is capable of mastering it.
Humanitarian enthusiasm may produce shocks favorable to the
progress of civilization; but these crises of sentiment, like the
oscillations of value, must always result only in a firmer and
more absolute establishment of justice.  Nature, or Divinity, we
distrust in our hearts: she has never believed in the love of man
for his fellow; and all that science reveals to us of the ways of
Providence in the progress of society--I say it to the shame of
the human conscience, but our hypocrisy must be made aware of
it--shows a profound misanthropy on the part of God.  God helps
us, not from motives of goodness, but because order is his
essence; God promotes the welfare of the world, not because he
deems it worthy, but because the religion of his supreme
intelligence lays the obligation upon him: and while the vulgar
give him the sweet name Father, it is impossible for the
historian, for the political economist, to believe that he
either loves or esteems us.

Let us imitate this sublime indifference, this stoical ataraxia,
of God; and, since the precept of charity always has failed to
promote social welfare, let us look to pure reason for the
conditions of harmony and virtue.

Value, conceived as the proportionality of products, otherwise
called CONSTITUTED VALUE, necessarily implies in an equal degree
UTILITY and VENALITY, indivisibly and harmoniously united.  It
implies utility, for, without this condition, the product would
be destitute of that affinity which renders it exchangeable, and
consequently makes it an element of wealth; it implies venality,
since, if the product was not acceptable in the market at any
hour and at a known price, it would be only a non-value, it would
be nothing.

But, in constituted value, all these properties acquire a
broader, more regular, truer significance than before.  Thus,
utility is no longer that inert capacity, so to speak, which
things possess of serving for our enjoyments and in our
researches; venality is no longer the exaggeration of a blind
fancy or an unprincipled opinion; finally, variability has ceased
to explain itself by a disingenuous discussion between supply and
demand: all that has disappeared to give place to a positive,
normal, and, under all possible circumstances, determinable idea.

By the constitution of values each product, if it is allowable to
establish such an analogy, becomes like the nourishment which,
discovered by the alimentary instinct, then prepared by the
digestive organs, enters into the general circulation, where it
is converted, according to certain proportions, into flesh, bone,
liquid, etc., and gives to the body life, strength, and beauty.

Now, what change does the idea of value undergo when we rise from
the contradictory notions of useful value and exchangeable value
to that of constituted value or absolute value?  There is, so to
speak, a joining together, a reciprocal penetration, in which the
two elementary concepts, grasping each other like the hooked
atoms of Epicurus, absorb one another and disappear, leaving in
their place a compound possessed, but in a superior degree, of
all their positive properties, and divested of all their negative
properties.  A value really such--like money, first-class
business paper, government annuities, shares in a
well-established enterprise--can neither be increased without
reason nor lost in exchange: it is governed only by the natural
law of the addition of special industries and the increase of
products.  Further, such a value is not the result of a
compromise,--that is, of eclecticism, juste-milieu, or mixture;
it is the product of a complete fusion, a product entirely new
and distinct from its components, just as water, the product of
the combination of hydrogen and oxygen, is a separate body,
totally distinct from its elements.

The resolution of two antithetical ideas in a third of a superior
order is what the school calls SYNTHESIS.  It alone gives the
positive and complete idea, which is obtained, as we have seen,
by the successive affirmation or negation--for both amount to the
same thing--of two diametrically opposite concepts.  Whence we
deduce this corollary, of the first importance in practice as
well as in theory: wherever, in the spheres of morality, history,
or political economy, analysis has established the antinomy of an
idea, we may affirm on a priori grounds that this antinomy
conceals a higher idea, which sooner or later will make its

I am sorry to have to insist at so great length on ideas familiar
to all young college graduates: but I owed these details to
certain economists, who, apropos of my critique of property, have
heaped dilemmas on dilemmas to prove that, if I was not a
proprietor, I necessarily must be a communist; all because they
did not understand THESIS, ANTITHESIS, and SYNTHESIS.

The synthetic idea of value, as the fundamental condition of
social order and progress, was dimly seen by Adam Smith, when, to
use the words of M. Blanqui, "he showed that labor is the
universal and invariable measure of values, and proved that
everything has its natural price, toward which it continually
gravitates amid the fluctuations of the market, occasioned by
ACCIDENTAL CIRCUMSTANCES foreign to the venal value of the

But this idea of value was wholly intuitive with Adam Smith, and
society does not change its habits upon the strength of
intuitions; it decides only upon the authority of facts.  The
antinomy had to be expressed in a plainer and clearer manner:  J.
B. Say was its principal interpreter.  But, in spite of the
imaginative efforts and fearful subtlety of this economist,
Smith's definition controls him without his knowledge, and is
manifest throughout his arguments.

"To put a value on an article," says Say, "is to DECLARE that it
should be ESTIMATED equally with some other designated article.
. . . . .  The value of everything is vague and arbitrary UNTIL
IT IS RECOGNIZED. . . . . ."  There is, therefore, a method of
recognizing the value of things,--that is, of determining it;
and, as this recognition or determination results from the
comparison of things with each other, there is, further, a common
feature, a principle, by means of which we are able to DECLARE
that one thing is worth more or less than, or as much as,

Say first said:  "The measure of value is the value of another
product."  Afterwards, having seen that this phrase was but a
tautology, he modified it thus:  "The measure of value is the
QUANTITY of another product," which is quite as unintelligible.
Moreover, this writer, generally so clear and decided,
embarrasses himself with vain distinctions:  "We may APPRECIATE
the value of things; we cannot MEASURE it,--that is, COMPARE it
with an invariable and known standard, for no such standard
exists.  We can do nothing but ESTIMATE THE VALUE of things by
comparing them."  At other times he distinguishes between REAL
values and RELATIVE values:  "The former are those whose value
changes with the cost of production; the latter are those whose
value changes relatively to the value of other kinds of

Singular prepossession of a man of genius, who does not see that
every measure, being only a comparison, indicates for that very
reason a true relation, provided the comparison is accurate;
that, consequently, value, or real measure, and value, or
relative measure, are perfectly identical; and that the
difficulty is reduced, not to the discovery of a standard of
measure, since all quantities may serve each other in that
capacity, but to the determination of a point of comparison.  In
geometry the point of comparison is extent, and the unit of
measure is now the division of the circle into three hundred and
sixty parts, now the circumference of the terrestrial globe, now
the average dimension of the human arm, hand, thumb, or foot.  In
economic science, we have said after Adam Smith, the point of
view from which all values are compared is labor; as for the unit
of measure, that adopted in France is the FRANC.  It is
incredible that so many sensible men should struggle for forty
years against an idea so simple.  But no:  THE COMPARISON OF
AND WITHOUT A UNIT OF MEASURE,--such is the proposition which the
economists of the nineteenth century, rather than accept the
revolutionary idea of equality, have resolved to maintain against
all comers.  What will posterity say?

I shall presently show, by striking examples, that the idea of
the measure or proportion of values, theoretically necessary, is
constantly realized in every-day life.

% 3.--Application of the law of proportionality of values.

Every product is a representative of labor.

Every product, therefore, can be exchanged for some other, as
universal practice proves.

But abolish labor, and you have left only articles of greater or
less usefulness, which, being stamped with no economic character,
no human seal, are without a common measure,--that is, are
logically unexchangeable.

Gold and silver, like other articles of merchandise, are
representatives of value; they have, therefore, been able to
serve as common measures and mediums of exchange.  But the
special function which custom has allotted to the precious
metals,--that of serving as a commercial agent,--is purely
conventional, and any other article of merchandise, less
conveniently perhaps, but just as authentically, could play this
part: the economists admit it, and more than one example of it
can be cited.  What, then, is the reason of this preference
generally accorded to the metals for the purpose of money, and
how shall we explain this speciality of function, unparalleled in
political economy, possessed by specie?  For every unique thing
incomparable in kind is necessarily very difficult of
comprehension, and often even fails of it altogether.  Now, is it
possible to reconstruct the series from which money seems to have
been detached, and, consequently, restore the latter to its true

In dealing with this question the economists, following their
usual course, have rushed beyond the limits of their science;
they have appealed to physics, to mechanics, to history, etc.;
they have talked of all things, but have given no answer.  The
precious metals, they have said, by their scarcity, density, and
incorruptibility, are fitted to serve as money in, a degree
unapproached by other kinds of merchandise.  In short, the
economists, instead of replying to the economic question put to
them, have set themselves to the examination of a question of
art.  They have laid great stress on the mechanical adaptation of
gold and silver for the purpose of money; but not one of them has
seen or understood the economic reason which gave to the precious
metals the privilege they now enjoy.

Now, the point that no one has noticed is that, of all the
various articles of merchandise, gold and silver were the first
whose value was determined.  In the patriarchal period, gold and
silver still were bought and sold in ingots, but already with a
visible tendency to superiority and with a marked preference.
Gradually sovereigns took possession of them and stamped them
with their seal; and from this royal consecration was born
money,--that is, the commodity par excellence; that which,
notwithstanding all commercial shocks, maintains a determined
proportional value, and is accepted in payment for all things.

That which distinguishes specie, in fact, is not the durability
of the metal, which is less than that of steel, nor its utility,
which is much below that of wheat, iron, coal, and numerous other
substances, regarded as almost vile when compared with gold;
neither is it its scarcity or density, for in both these respects
it might be replaced, either by labor spent upon other materials,
or, as at present, by bank notes representing vast amounts of
iron or copper.  The distinctive feature of gold and silver, I
repeat, is the fact that, owing to their metallic properties, the
difficulties of their production, and, above all, the
intervention of public authority, their value as merchandise was
fixed and authenticated at an early date.

I say then that the value of gold and silver, especially of the
part that is made into money, although perhaps it has not yet
been calculated accurately, is no longer arbitrary; I add that it
is no longer susceptible of depreciation, like other values,
although it may vary continually nevertheless.  All the logic and
erudition that has been expended to prove, by the example of gold
and silver, that value is essentially indeterminable, is a mass
of paralogisms, arising from a false idea of the question, ab
ignorantia elenchi.

Philip I., King of France, mixed with the livre tournois of
Charlemagne one-third alloy, imagining that, since he held the
monopoly of the power of coining money, he could do what every
merchant does who holds the monopoly of a product.  What was, in
fact, this adulteration of money, for which Philip and his
successors are so severely blamed?  A very sound argument from
the standpoint of commercial routine, but wholly false in the
view of economic science,--namely, that, supply and demand being
the regulators of value, we may, either by causing an artificial
scarcity or by monopolizing the manufacture, raise the
estimation, and consequently the value, of things, and that this
is as true of gold and silver as of wheat, wine, oil, tobacco.
Nevertheless, Philip's fraud was no sooner suspected than his
money was reduced to its true value, and he lost himself all that
he had expected to gain from his subjects.  The same thing
happened after all similar attempts.  What was the reason of this

Because, say the economists, the quantity of gold and silver in
reality being neither diminished nor increased by the false
coinage, the proportion of these metals to other merchandise was
not changed, and consequently it was not in the power of the
sovereign to make that which was worth but two worth four.  For
the same reason, if, instead of debasing the coin, it had been in
the king's power to double its mass, the exchangeable value of
gold and silver would have decreased one-half immediately, always
on account of this proportionality and equilibrium.  The
adulteration of the coin was, then, on the part of the king, a
forced loan, or rather, a bankruptcy, a swindle.

Marvelous! the economists explain very clearly, when they choose,
the theory of the measure of value; that they may do so, it is
necessary only to start them on the subject of money.  Why, then,
do they not see that money is the written law of commerce, the
type of exchange, the first link in that long chain of creations
all of which, as merchandise, must receive the sanction of
society, and become, if not in fact, at least in right,
acceptable as money in settlement of all kinds of transactions?

"Money," M. Augier very truly says, "can serve, either as a means
of authenticating contracts already made, or as a good medium of
exchange, only so far as its value approaches the ideal of
permanence; for in all cases it exchanges or buys only the value
which it possesses."[8]

[8]  "History of Public Credit."

Let us turn this eminently judicious observation into a general

Labor becomes a guarantee of well-being and equality only so far
as the product of each individual is in proportion with the mass;
for in all cases it exchanges or buys a value equal only to its

Is it not strange that the defence of speculative and fraudulent
commerce is undertaken boldly, while at the same time the attempt
of a royal counterfeiter, who, after all, did but apply to gold
and silver the fundamental principle of political economy, the
arbitrary instability of values, is frowned down?  If the
administration should presume to give twelve ounces of tobacco
for a pound,[9] the economists would cry robbery; but, if the
same administration, using its privilege, should increase the
price a few cents a pound, they would regard it as dear, but
would discover no violation of principles.  What an imbroglio is
political economy!

[9]  In France, the sale of tobacco is a government monopoly.--

There is, then, in the monetization of gold and silver something
that the economists have given no account of; namely, the
consecration of the law of proportionality, the first act in the
constitution of values.  Humanity does all things by infinitely
small degrees: after comprehending the fact that all products of
labor must be submitted to a proportional measure which makes all
of them equally exchangeable, it begins by giving this attribute
of absolute exchangeability to a special product, which shall
become the type and model of all others.  In the same way, to
lift its members to liberty and equality, it begins by creating
kings.  The people have a confused idea of this providential
progress when, in their dreams of fortune and in their legends,
they speak continually of gold and royalty; and the philosophers
only do homage to universal reason when, in their so-called moral
homilies and their socialistic utopias, they thunder with equal
violence against gold and tyranny.  Auri sacra fames!  Cursed
gold! ludicrously shouts some communist.  As well say cursed
wheat, cursed vines, cursed sheep; for, like gold and silver,
every commercial value must reach an exact and accurate
determination.  The work was begun long since; today it is making
visible progress.

Let us pass to other considerations.

It is an axiom generally admitted by the economists that ALL

I regard this proposition as universally and absolutely true; it
is a corollary of the law of proportionality, which may be
regarded as an epitome of the whole science of economy.  But--I
beg pardon of the economists--the principle that ALL LABOR
SHOULD LEAVE AN EXCESS has no meaning in their theory, and is not
susceptible of demonstration.  If supply and demand alone
determine value, how can we tell what is an excess and what is a
SUFFICIENCY?  If neither cost, nor market price, nor wages can
be mathematically determined, how is it possible to conceive of a
surplus, a profit?  Commercial routine has given us the idea of
profit as well as the word; and, since we are equal politically,
we infer that every citizen has an equal right to realize profits
in his personal industry.  But commercial operations are
essentially irregular, and it has been proved beyond question
that the profits of commerce are but an arbitrary discount forced
from the consumer by the producer,--in short, a displacement, to
say the least.  This we should soon see, if it was possible to
compare the total amount of annual losses with the amount of
profits.  In the thought of political economy, the principle that
ALL LABOR SHOULD LEAVE AN EXCESS is simply the consecration
of the constitutional right which all of us gained by the
revolution,-- the right of robbing one's neighbor.

The law of proportionality of values alone can solve this
problem.  I will approach the question a little farther back: its
gravity warrants me in treating it with the consideration that it

Most philosophers, like most philologists, see in society only a
creature of the mind, or rather, an abstract name serving to
designate a collection of men.  It is a prepossession which all
of us received in our infancy with our first lessons in grammar,
that collective nouns, the names of genera and species, do not
designate realities.  There is much to say under this head, but I
confine myself to my subject.  To the true economist, society is
a living being, endowed with an intelligence and an activity of
its own, governed by special laws discoverable by observation
alone, and whose existence is manifested, not under a material
aspect, but by the close concert and mutual interdependence of
all its members.  Therefore, when a few pages back, adopting the
allegorical method, we used a fabulous god as a symbol of
society, our language in reality was not in the least
metaphorical: we only gave a name to the social being, an organic
and synthetic unit.  In the eyes of any one who has reflected
upon the laws of labor and exchange (I disregard every other
consideration), the reality, I had almost said the personality,
of the collective man is as certain as the reality and the
personality of the individual man.  The only difference is that
the latter appears to the senses as an organism whose parts are
in a state of material coherence, which is not true of society.
But intelligence, spontaneity, development, life, all that
constitutes in the highest degree the reality of being, is
as essential to society as to man: and hence it is that the
government of societies is a SCIENCE,-- that is, a study of
natural relations,--and not an ART,-- that is, good pleasure and
absolutism.  Hence it is, finally, that every society declines
the moment it falls into the hands of the ideologists.

undemonstrable by political economy,--that is, by proprietary
routine,--is one of those which bear strongest testimony to the
reality of the collective person: for, as we shall see, this
principle is true of individuals only because it emanates from
society, which thus confers upon them the benefit of its own

Let us turn to facts.  It has been observed that railroad
enterprises are a source of wealth to those who control them in a
much less degree than to the State.  The observation is a true
one; and it might have been added that it applies, not only to
railroads, but to every industry.  But this phenomenon, which is
essentially the result of the law of proportionality of values
and of the absolute identity of production and consumption, is at
variance with the ordinary notion of useful value and
exchangeable value.

The average price charged for the transportation of merchandise
by the old method is eighteen centimes per ton and kilometer, the
merchandise taken and delivered at the warehouses.  It has been
calculated that, at this price, an ordinary railroad corporation
would net a profit of not quite ten per cent., nearly the same as
the profit made by the old method.  But let us admit that the
rapidity of transportation by rail is to that by wheels, all
allowances made, as four to one: in society time itself being
value, at the same price the railroad would have an advantage
over the stage-wagon of four hundred per cent. `Nevertheless,
this enormous advantage, a very real one so far as society is
concerned, is by no means realized in a like proportion by the
carrier, who, while he adds four hundred per cent. to the social
value, makes personally less than ten per cent.  Suppose, in
fact, to make the thing still clearer, that the railroad should
raise its price to twenty- five centimes, the rate by the old
method remaining at eighteen; it would lose immediately all its
consignments; shippers, consignees, everybody would return to the
stage-wagon, if necessary.  The locomotive would be abandoned; a
social advantage of four hundred per cent. would be sacrificed to
a private loss of thirty-three per cent.

The reason of this is easily seen.  The advantage which results
from the rapidity of the railroad is wholly social, and each
individual participates in it only in a very slight degree (do
not forget that we are speaking now only of the transportation of
merchandise); while the loss falls directly and personally on the
consumer.  A special profit of four hundred per cent. in a
society composed of say a million of men represents four
ten-thousandths for each individual; while a loss to the consumer
of thirty-three per cent. means a social deficit of thirty- three
millions.  Private interest and collective interest, seemingly so
divergent at first blush, are therefore perfectly identical and
equal: and this example may serve to show already how economic
science reconciles all interests.

Consequently, in order that society may realize the profit above
supposed, it is absolutely necessary that the railroad's prices
shall not exceed, or shall exceed but very little, those of the

But, that this condition may be fulfilled,--in other words, that
the railroad may be commercially possible,--the amount of
matter transported must be sufficiently great to cover at least
the interest on the capital invested and the running expenses of
the road.  Then a railroad's first condition of existence is a
large circulation, which implies a still larger production and a
vast amount of exchanges.

But production, circulation, and exchange are not self-creative
things; again, the various kinds of labor are not developed in
isolation and independently of each other: their progress is
necessarily connected, solidary, proportional.  There may be
antagonism among manufacturers; but, in spite of them, social
action is one, convergent, harmonious,--in a word, personal.
Further, there is a day appointed for the creation of great
instruments of labor: it is the day when general consumption
shall be able to maintain their employment,--that is, for all
these propositions are interconvertible, the day when ambient
labor can feed new machinery.  To anticipate the hour appointed
by the progress of labor would be to imitate the fool who, going
from Lyons to Marseilles, chartered a steamer for himself alone.

These points cleared up, nothing is easier than to explain why
labor must leave an excess for each producer.

And first, as regards society: Prometheus, emerging from the womb
of Nature, awakens to life in a state of inertia which is very
charming, but which would soon become misery and torture if he
did not make haste to abandon it for labor.  In this original
idleness, the product of Prometheus being nothing, his well-being
is the same as that of the brute, and may be represented by zero.

Prometheus begins to work: and from his first day's labor, the
first of the second creation, the product of Prometheus--that is,
his wealth, his well-being--is equal to ten.

The second day Prometheus divides his labor, and his product
increases to one hundred.

The third day, and each following day, Prometheus invents
machinery, discovers new uses in things, new forces in Nature;
the field of his existence extends from the domain of the senses
to the sphere of morals and intelligence, and with every step
that his industry takes the amount of his product increases, and
assures him additional happiness.  And since, finally, with him,
to consume is to produce, it is clear that each day's
consumption, using up only the product of the day before, leaves
a surplus product for the day after.

But notice also--and give especial heed to this all-important
fact--that the well-being of man is directly proportional to the
intensity of labor and the multiplicity of industries: so that
the increase of wealth and the increase of labor are correlative
and parallel.

To say now that every individual participates in these general
conditions of collective development would be to affirm a truth
which, by reason of the evidence in its support, would appear
silly.  Let us point out rather the two general forms of
consumption in society.

Society, like the individual, has first its articles of personal
consumption, articles which time gradually causes it to feel the
need of, and which its mysterious instincts command it to create.

Thus in the middle ages there was, with a large number of cities,
a decisive moment when the building of city halls and cathedrals
became a violent passion, which had to be satisfied at any price;
the life of the community depended upon it.  Security and
strength, public order, centralization, nationality, country,
independence, these are the elements which make up the life of
society, the totality of its mental faculties; these are the
sentiments which must find expression and representation.  Such
formerly was the object of the temple of Jerusalem, real
palladium of the Jewish nation; such was the temple of
Jupiter Capitolinus of Rome.  Later, after the municipal palace
and the temple,--organs, so to speak, of centralization and
progress,--came the other works of public utility,--bridges,
theatres, schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

The monuments of public utility being used essentially in common,
and consequently gratuitously, society is rewarded for its
advances by the political and moral advantages resulting from
these great works, and which, furnishing security to labor and an
ideal to the mind, give fresh impetus to industry and the arts.

But it is different with the articles of domestic consumption,
which alone fall within the category of exchange.  These can be
produced only upon the conditions of mutuality which make
consumption possible,--that is, immediate payment with advantage
to the producers.  These conditions we have developed
sufficiently in the theory of proportionality of values, which we
might call as well the theory of the gradual reduction of cost.

I have demonstrated theoretically and by facts the principle that
ALL LABOR SHOULD LEAVE AN EXCESS; but this principle, as certain
as any proposition in arithmetic, is very far from universal
realization.  While, by the progress of collective industry, each
individual day's labor yields a greater and greater product, and
while, by necessary consequence, the laborer, receiving the same
wages, must grow ever richer, there exist in society classes
which THRIVE and classes which PERISH; laborers paid twice,
thrice, a hundred times over, and laborers continually out of
pocket; everywhere, finally, people who enjoy and people who
suffer, and, by a monstrous division of the means of industry,
individuals who consume and do not produce.  The distribution of
well-being follows all the movements of value, and reproduces
them in misery and luxury on a frightful scale and with terrible
energy.  But everywhere, too, the progress of wealth--that is,
the proportionality of values--is the dominant law; and when the
economists combat the complaints of the socialists with the
progressive increase of public wealth and the alleviations of the
condition of even the most unfortunate classes, they proclaim,
without suspecting it, a truth which is the condemnation of their

For I entreat the economists to question themselves for a moment
in the silence of their hearts, far from the prejudices which
disturb them, and regardless of the employments which occupy them
or which they wait for, of the interests which they serve, of the
votes which they covet, of the distinctions which tickle their
vanity: let them tell me whether, hitherto, they have viewed the
principle that all labor should leave an excess in connection
with this series of premises and conclusions which we have
elaborated, and whether they ever have understood these words to
mean anything more than the right to speculate in values by
manipulating supply and demand; whether it is not true that they
affirm at once, on the one hand the progress of wealth and
well-being, and consequently the measure of values, and on the
other the arbitrariness of commercial transactions and the
incommensurability of values,--the flattest of contradictions?
Is it not because of this contradiction that we continually hear
repeated in lectures, and read in the works on political economy,
this absurd hypothesis: If THE PRICE OF ALL THINGS WAS DOUBLED.
. . . . . ?  As if the price of all things was not the proportion
of things, and as if we could double a proportion, a relation, a
law!  Finally, is it not because of the proprietary and abnormal
routine upheld by political economy that every one, in
commerce, industry, the arts, and the State, on the pretended
ground of services rendered to society, tends continually to
exaggerate his importance, and solicits rewards, subsidies, large
pensions, exorbitant fees: as if the reward of every service was
not determined necessarily by the sum of its expenses?  Why do
not the economists, if they believe, as they appear to, that the
labor of each should leave an excess, use all their influence in
spreading this truth, so simple and so luminous:  Each man's
labor can buy only the value which it contains, and this value is
proportional to the services of all other laborers?

But here a last consideration presents itself, which I will
explain in a few words.

J. B. Say, who of all the economists has insisted the most
strenuously upon the absolute indeterminability of value, is also
the one who has taken the most pains to refute that idea.  He, if
I am not mistaken, is the author of the formula:  EVERY PRODUCT
IS WORTH WHAT IT COSTS; or, what amounts to the same thing:
PRODUCTS ARE BOUGHT WITH PRODUCTS.  This aphorism, which leads
straight to equality, has been controverted since by other
economists; we will examine in turn the affirmative and the

When I say that every product is worth the products which it has
cost, I mean that every product is a collective unit which, in a
new form, groups a certain number of other products consumed in
various quantities.  Whence it follows that the products of human
industry are, in relation to each other, genera and species, and
that they form a series from the simple to the composite,
according to the number and proportion of the elements, all
equivalent to each other, which constitute each product.  It
matters little, for the present, that this series, as well
as the equivalence of its elements, is expressed in practice more
or less exactly by the equilibrium of wages and fortunes; our
first business is with the relation of things, the economic law.
For here, as ever, the idea first and spontaneously generates the
fact, which, recognized then by the thought which has given it
birth, gradually rectifies itself and conforms to its principle.
Commerce, free and competitive, is but a long operation of
redressal, whose object is to define more and more clearly the
proportionality of values, until the civil law shall recognize it
as a guide in matters concerning the condition of persons.  I
say, then, that Say's principle, EVERY PRODUCT IS WORTH WHAT IT
COSTS, indicates a series in human production analogous to the
animal and vegetable series, in which the elementary units (day's
works) are regarded as equal.  So that political economy affirms
at its birth, but by a contradiction, what neither Plato, nor
Rousseau, nor any ancient or modern publicist has thought
possible,-- equality of conditions and fortunes.

Prometheus is by turns husbandman, wine-grower, baker, weaver.
Whatever trade he works at, laboring only for himself, he buys
what he consumes (his products) with one and the same money (his
products), whose unit of measurement is necessarily his day's
work.  It is true that labor itself is liable to vary; Prometheus
is not always in the same condition, and from one moment to
another his enthusiasm, his fruitfulness, rises and falls.  But,
like everything that is subject to variation, labor has its
average, which justifies us in saying that, on the whole, day's
work pays for day's work, neither more nor less.  It is quite
true that, if we compare the products of a certain period of
social life with those of another, the hundred millionth day's
work of the human race will show a result incomparably superior
to that of the first; but it must be remembered also that the
life of the collective being can no more be divided than that of
the individual; that, though the days may not resemble each
other, they are indissolubly united, and that in the sum total of
existence pain and pleasure are common to them.  If, then, the
tailor, for rendering the value of a day's work, consumes ten
times the product of the day's work of the weaver, it is as if
the weaver gave ten days of his life for one day of the tailor's.
This is exactly what happens when a peasant pays twelve francs to
a lawyer for a document which it takes him an hour to prepare;
and this inequality, this iniquity in exchanges, is the most
potent cause of misery that the socialists have unveiled,--as the
economists confess in secret while awaiting a sign from the
master that shall permit them to acknowledge it openly.

Every error in commutative justice is an immolation of the
laborer, a transfusion of the blood of one man into the body of
another. . . . .  Let no one be frightened; I have no intention
of fulminating against property an irritating philippic;
especially as I think that, according to my principles, humanity
is never mistaken; that, in establishing itself at first upon the
right of property, it only laid down one of the principles of its
future organization; and that, the preponderance of property once
destroyed, it remains only to reduce this famous antithesis to
unity.  All the objections that can be offered in favor of
property I am as well acquainted with as any of my critics, whom
I ask as a favor to show their hearts when logic fails them.  How
can wealth that is not measured by labor be VALUABLE?  And if it
is labor that creates wealth and legitimates property, how
explain the consumption of the idler?  Where is the honesty in a
system of distribution in which a product is worth, according to
the person, now more, now less, than it costs.

Say's ideas led to an agrarian law; therefore, the conservative
party hastened to protest against them.  "The original source of
wealth," M. Rossi had said, "is labor.  In proclaiming this great
principle, the industrial school has placed in evidence not only
an economic principle, but that social fact which, in the hands
of a skilful historian, becomes the surest guide in following the
human race in its marchings and haltings upon the face of the

Why, after having uttered these profound words in his lectures,
has M. Rossi thought it his duty to retract them afterwards in a
review, and to compromise gratuitously his dignity as a
philosopher and an economist?

"Say that wealth is the result of labor alone; affirm that labor
is always the measure of value, the regulator of prices; yet, to
escape one way or another the objections which these doctrines
call forth on all hands, some incomplete, others absolute, you
will be obliged to generalize the idea of labor, and to
substitute for analysis an utterly erroneous synthesis."

I regret that a man like M. Rossi should suggest to me so sad a
thought; but, while reading the passage that I have just quoted,
I could not help saying:  Science and truth have lost their
influence: the present object of worship is the shop, and, after
the shop, the desperate constitutionalism which represents it.
To whom, then, does M. Rossi address himself?  Is he in favor of
labor or something else; analysis or synthesis?  Is he in favor
of all these things at once?  Let him choose, for the conclusion
is inevitably against him.

If labor is the source of all wealth, if it is the surest guide
in tracing the history of human institutions on the face of the
earth, why should equality of distribution, equality as measured
by labor, not be a law?

If, on the contrary, there is wealth which is not the product of
labor, why is the possession of it a privilege?  Where is the
legitimacy of monopoly?  Explain then, once for all, this theory
of the right of unproductive consumption; this jurisprudence of
caprice, this religion of idleness, the sacred prerogative of a
caste of the elect.

What, now, is the significance of this appeal from ANALYSIS to
the false judgments of the synthesis?  These metaphysical terms
are of no use, save to indoctrinate simpletons, who do not
suspect that the same proposition can be construed, indifferently
and at will, analytically or synthetically.  LABOR IS THE
proposition such as M. Rossi likes, since it is the summary of an
analysis in which it is demonstrated that the primitive notion of
labor is identical with the subsequent notions of product, value,
capital, wealth, etc.  Nevertheless, we see that M. Rossi rejects
the doctrine which results from this analysis.  LABOR, CAPITAL,
AND LAND ARE THE SOURCES OF WEALTH: a synthetic proposition,
precisely such as M. Rossi does not like.  Indeed, wealth is
considered here as a general notion, produced in three distinct,
but not identical, ways.  And yet the doctrine thus formulated is
the one that M. Rossi prefers.  Now, would it please M. Rossi to
have us render his theory of monopoly analytically and ours of
labor synthetically?  I can give him the satisfaction. . . . .
But I should blush, with so earnest a man, to prolong such
badinage.  M. Rossi knows better than any one that analysis and
synthesis of themselves prove absolutely nothing, and that the
important work, as Bacon said, is to make exact comparisons and
complete enumerations.

Since M. Rossi was in the humor for abstractions, why did he not
say to the phalanx of economists who listen so respectfully to
the least word that falls from his lips:

"Capital is the MATERIAL of wealth, as gold and silver are the
material of money, as wheat is the material of bread, and,
tracing the series back to the end, as earth, water, fire, and
air are the material of all our products.  But it is labor, labor
alone, which successively creates each utility given to these
MATERIALS, and which consequently transforms them into capital
and wealth.  Capital is the result of labor,-- that is, realized
intelligence and life,--as animals and plants are realizations of
the soul of the universe, and as the chefs d'oeuvre of Homer,
Raphael, and Rossini are expressions of their ideas and
sentiments.  Value is the proportion in which all the
realizations of the human soul must balance each other in order
to produce a harmonious whole, which, being wealth, gives us
well-being, or rather is the token, not the object, of our

"The proposition, THERE IS NO MEASURE OF VALUE, is illogical and
contradictory, as is shown by the very arguments which have been
offered in its support.

VALUES, not only is true, resulting as it does from an
irrefutable analysis, but it is the object of progress, the
condition and form of social well-being, the beginning and end
of political economy.  From this proposition and its corollaries,
WITH PRODUCTs, follows the dogma of equality of conditions.

"The idea of value socially constituted, or of proportionality of
values, serves to explain further: (a) how a mechanical
invention, notwithstanding the privilege which it temporarily
creates and the disturbances which it occasions, always produces
in the end a general amelioration; (b) how the value of an
economical process to its discoverer can never equal the profit
which it realizes for society; (c) how, by a series of
oscillations between supply and demand, the value of every
product constantly seeks a level with cost and with the needs of
consumption, and consequently tends to establish itself in a
fixed and positive manner; (d) how, collective production
continually increasing the amount of consumable things, and the
day's work constantly obtaining higher and higher pay, labor must
leave an excess for each producer; (e) how the amount of work to
be done, instead of being diminished by industrial progress, ever
increases in both quantity and quality--that is, in intensity and
difficulty--in all branches of industry; (f) how social value
continually eliminates fictitious values,--in other words, how
industry effects the socialization of capital and property; (g)
finally, how the distribution of products, growing in regularity
with the strength of the mutual guarantee resulting from the
constitution of value, pushes society onward to equality of
conditions and fortunes.

"Finally, the theory of the successive constitution of all
commercial values implying the infinite progress of labor,
wealth, and well-being, the object of society, from the economic
point of view, is revealed to us: TO PRODUCE INCESSANTLY, WITH

Now that we have determined, not without difficulty, the meaning
of the question asked by the Academy of Moral Sciences touching
the oscillations of profit and wages, it is time to begin the
essential part of our work.  Wherever labor has not been
socialized,--that is, wherever value is not synthetically
determined,--there is irregularity and dishonesty in exchange; a
war of stratagems and ambuscades; an impediment to production,
circulation, and consumption; unproductive labor; insecurity;
spoliation; insolidarity; want; luxury: but at the same time an
effort of the genius of society to obtain justice, and a constant
tendency toward association and order.  Political economy is
simply the history of this grand struggle.  On the one hand,
indeed, political economy, in so far as it sanctions and pretends
to perpetuate the anomalies of value and the prerogatives of
selfishness, is truly the theory of misfortune and the
organization of misery; but in so far as it explains the means
invented by civilization to abolish poverty, although these means
always have been used exclusively in the interest of monopoly,
political economy is the preamble of the organization of wealth.

It is important, then, that we should resume the study of
economic facts and practices, discover their meaning, and
formulate their philosophy.  Until this is done, no knowledge of
social progress can be acquired, no reform attempted.  The error
of socialism has consisted hitherto in perpetuating religious
reverie by launching forward into a fantastic future instead of
seizing the reality which is crushing it; as the wrong of the
economists has been in regarding every accomplished fact as an
injunction against any proposal of reform.

For my own part, such is not my conception of economic science,
the true social science.  Instead of offering a priori arguments
as solutions of the formidable problems of the organization of
labor and the distribution of wealth, I shall interrogate
political economy as the depositary of the secret thoughts of
humanity; I shall cause it to disclose the facts in the order of
their occurrence, and shall relate their testimony without
intermingling it with my own.  It will be at once a triumphant
and a lamentable history, in which the actors will be ideas, the
episodes theories, and the dates formulas.



The fundamental idea, the dominant category, of political economy

Value reaches its positive determination by a series of
oscillations between SUPPLY and DEMAND.

Consequently, value appears successively under three aspects:
useful value, exchangeable value, and synthetic, or social,
value, which is true value.  The first term gives birth to the
second in contradiction to it, and the two together, absorbing
each other in reciprocal penetration, produce the third: so that
the contradiction or antagonism of ideas appears as the point of
departure of all economic science, allowing us to say of it,
parodying the sentence of Tertullian in relation to the Gospel,
Credo quia absurdum:  There is, in social economy, a latent truth
wherever there is an apparent contradiction, Credo quia

From the point of view of political economy, then, social
progress consists in a continuous solution of the problem of the
constitution of values, or of the proportionality and solidarity
of products.

But while in Nature the synthesis of opposites is contemporary
with their opposition, in society the antithetic elements seem to
appear at long intervals, and to reach solution only`after long
and tumultuous agitation.  Thus there is no example--the idea
even is inconceivable--of a valley without a hill, a left without
a right, a north pole without a south pole, a stick with but one
end, or two ends without a middle, etc.  The human body, with its
so perfectly antithetic dichotomy, is formed integrally at the
very moment of conception; it refuses to be put together and
arranged piece by piece, like the garment patterned after it
which, later, is to cover it.[10]

[10]  A subtle philologist, M. Paul Ackermann, has shown, using
the French language as an illustration, that, since every word in
a language has its opposite, or, as the author calls it, its
antonym, the entire vocabulary might be arranged in couples,
forming a vast dualistic system.  (See Dictionary of Antonyms.
By Paul Ackermann.  Paris: Brockhaus & Avenarius.  1842)

In society, on the contrary, as well as in the mind, so far from
the idea reaching its complete realization at a single bound, a
sort of abyss separates, so to speak, the two antinomical
positions, and even when these are recognized at last, we still
do not see what the synthesis will be.  The primitive concepts
must be fertilized, so to speak, by burning controversy and
passionate struggle; bloody battles will be the preliminaries of
peace.  At the present moment, Europe, weary of war and
discussion, awaits a reconciling principle; and it is the vague
perception of this situation which induces the Academy of Moral
and Political Sciences to ask, "What are the general facts which
govern the relations of profits to wages and determine their
oscillations?" in other words, what are the most salient episodes
and the most remarkable phases of the war between labor and

If, then, I demonstrate that political economy, with all its
contradictory hypotheses and equivocal conclusions, is nothing
but an organization of privilege and misery, I shall have proved
thereby that it contains by implication the promise of an
organization of labor and equality, since, as has been said,
every systematic contradiction is the announcement of a
composition; further, I shall have fixed the bases of this
composition.  Then, indeed, to unfold the system of economical
contradictions is to lay the foundations of universal
association; to show how the products of collective labor COME
OUT of society is to explain how it will be possible to make them
RETURN to it; to exhibit the genesis of the problems of
production and distribution is to prepare the way for their
solution.  All these propositions are identical and equally

% 1.--Antagonistic effects of the principle of division.

All men are equal in the state of primitive communism, equal in
their nakedness and ignorance, equal in the indefinite power of
their faculties.  The economists generally look at only the first
of these aspects; they neglect or overlook the second.
Nevertheless, according to the profoundest philosophers of modern
times, La Rochefoucault, Helvetius,  Kant, Fichte, Hegel,
Jacotot, intelligence differs in individuals only QUALITATIVELY,
each having thereby his own specialty or genius; in its
essence,--namely, judgment,--it is QUANTITATIVELY equal in all.
Hence it follows that, a little sooner or a little later,
according as circumstances shall be more or less favorable,
general progress must lead all men from original and negative
equality to a positive equivalence of talents and acquirements.

I insist upon this precious datum of psychology, the necessary
consequence of which is that the HIERARCHY OF CAPACITIES
henceforth cannot be allowed as a principle and law of
organization: equality alone is our rule, as it is also our
ideal.  Then, just as the equality of misery must change
gradually into equality of well-being, as we have proved by the
theory of value, so the equality of minds, negative in the
beginning, since it represents only emptiness, must reappear in a
positive form at the completion of humanity's education.  The
intellectual movement proceeds parallelly with the economic
movement; they are the expression, the translation, of each
other; psychology and social economy are in accord, or rather,
they but unroll the same history, each from a different point of
view.  This appears especially in Smith's great law, the DIVISION

Considered in its essence, the division of labor is the way in
which equality of condition and intelligence is realized.
Through diversity of function, it gives rise to proportionality
of products and equilibrium in exchange, and consequently opens
for us the road to wealth; as also, in showing us infinity
everywhere in art and Nature, it leads us to idealize our acts,
and makes the creative mind--that is, divinity itself, mentem
diviniorem--immanent and perceptible in all laborers.

Division of labor, then, is the first phase of economic evolution
as well as of intellectual development: our point of departure is
true as regards both man and things, and the progress of our
exposition is in no wise arbitrary.

But, at this solemn hour of the division of labor, tempestuous
winds begin to blow upon humanity.  Progress does not improve the
condition of all equally and uniformly, although in the end it
must include and transfigure every intelligent and industrious
being.  It commences by taking possession of a small number of
privileged persons, who thus compose the elite of nations, while
the mass continues, or even buries itself deeper, in
barbarism.  It is this exception of persons on the part of
progress which has perpetuated the belief in the natural and
providential inequality of conditions, engendered caste, and
given an hierarchical form to all societies.  It has not been
understood that all inequality, never being more than a negation,
carries in itself the proof of its illegitimacy and the
announcement of its downfall: much less still has it been
imagined that this same inequality proceeds accidentally from a
cause the ulterior effect of which must be its entire

Thus, the antinomy of value reappearing in the law of division,
it is found that the first and most potent instrument of
knowledge and wealth which Providence has placed in our hands has
become for us an instrument of misery and imbecility.  Here is
the formula of this new law of antagonism, to which we owe the
two oldest maladies of civilization, aristocracy and the
proletariat:  Labor, in dividing itself according to the law
which is peculiar to it, and which is the primary condition of
its productivity, ends in the frustration of its own objects, and
destroys itself, in other words: Division, in the absence of
which there is no progress, no wealth, no equality, subordinates
the workingman, and renders intelligence useless, wealth harmful,
and equality impossible.  All the economists, since Adam Smith,
have pointed out the ADVANTAGES and the INCONVENIENCES of the law
of division, but at the same time insisting much more strenuously
upon the first than the second, because such a course was more in
harmony with their optimistic views, and not one of them ever
asking how a LAW can have INCONVENIENCES.  This is the way in
which J. B. Say summed up the question:--

"A man who during his whole life performs but one operation,
certainly acquires the power to execute it better and more
readily than another; but at the same time he becomes less
capable of any other occupation, whether physical or moral;
his other faculties become extinct, and there results a
degeneracy in the individual man.  That one has made only the
eighteenth part of a pin is a sad account to give of one's self:
but let no one imagine that it is the workingman who spends his
life in handling a file or a hammer that alone degenerates in
this way from the dignity of his nature; it is the same with the
man whose position leads him to exercise the most subtle
faculties of his mind. . .  On the whole, it may be said that the
separation of tasks is an advantageous use of human forces; that
it increases enormously the products of society; but that it
takes something from the capacity of each man taken

[11]  "Treatise on Political Economy."

What, then, after labor, is the primary cause of the
multiplication of wealth and the skill of laborers?  Division.

What is the primary cause of intellectual degeneracy and, as we
shall show continually, civilized misery?  Division.

How does the same principle, rigorously followed to its
conclusions, lead to effects diametrically opposite?  There is
not an economist, either before or since Adam Smith, who has even
perceived that here is a problem to be solved.  Say goes so far
as to recognize that in the division of labor the same cause
which produces the good engenders the evil; then, after a few
words of pity for the victims of the separation of industries,
content with having given an impartial and faithful exhibition of
the facts, he leaves the matter there.  "You know," he seems to
say, "that the more we divide the workmen's tasks, the more we
increase the productive power of labor; but at the same time the
more does labor, gradually reducing itself to a mechanical
operation, stupefy intelligence."

In vain do we express our indignation against a theory which,
creating by labor itself an aristocracy of capacities, leads
inevitably to political inequality; in vain do we protest in the
name of democracy and progress that in the future there will be
no nobility, no bourgeoisie no pariahs.  The economist replies,
with the impassibility of destiny:  You are condemned to produce
much, and to produce cheaply; otherwise your industry will be
always insignificant, your commerce will amount to nothing, and
you will drag in the rear of civilization instead of taking the
lead.--What! among us, generous men, there are some predestined
to brutishness; and the more perfect our industry becomes, the
larger will grow the number of our accursed brothers! . . . . .
--Alas! . . . . .  That is the last word of the economist.

We cannot fail to recognize in the division of labor, as a
general fact and as a cause, all the characteristics of a LAW;
but as this law governs two orders of phenomena radically
opposite and destructive of each other, it must be confessed also
that this law is of a sort unknown in the exact sciences,--that
it is, strange to say, a contradictory law, a counter-law an
antinomy.  Let us add, in anticipation, that such appears to be
the identifying feature of social economy, and consequently of

Now, without a RECOMPOSITION of labor which shall obviate the
inconveniences of division while preserving its useful effects,
the contradiction inherent in the principle is irremediable.  It
is necessary,--following the style of the Jewish priests,
plotting the death of Christ,--it is necessary that the poor
should perish to secure the proprietor his for tune, expedit unum
hominem pro populo mori.  I am going to demonstrate the necessity
of this decree; after which, if the parcellaire laborer still
retains a glimmer of intelligence, he will console himself with
the thought that he dies according to the rules of political

Labor, which ought to give scope to the conscience and render it
more and more worthy of happiness, leading through parcellaire
division to prostration of mind, dwarfs man in his noblest part,
minorat capitis, and throws him back into animality.  Thenceforth
the fallen man labors as a brute, and consequently must be
treated as a brute.  This sentence of Nature and necessity
society will execute.

The first effect of parcellaire labor, after the depravation of
the mind, is the lengthening of the hours of labor, which
increase in inverse proportion to the amount of intelligence
expended.  For, the product increasing in quantity and quality at
once, if, by any industrial improvement whatever, labor is
lightened in one way, it must pay for it in another.  But as the
length of the working-day cannot exceed from sixteen to eighteen
hours, when compensation no longer can be made in time, it will
be taken from the price, and wages will decrease.  And this
decrease will take place, not, as has been foolishly imagined,
because value is essentially arbitrary, but because it is
essentially determinable.  Little matters it that the struggle
between supply and demand ends, now to the advantage of the
employer, now to the benefit of the employee; such oscillations
may vary in amplitude, this depending on well-known accessory
circumstances which have been estimated a thousand times.  The
certain point, and the only one for us to notice now, is that the
universal conscience does not set the same price upon the labor
of an overseer and the work of a hod-carrier.  A reduction in the
price of the day's work, then, is necessary: so that the laborer,
after having been afflicted in mind by a degrading function,
cannot fail to be struck also in his body by the meagreness of
his reward.  This is the literal application of the words of the

There is in economic accidents a pitiless reason which laughs at
religion and equity as political aphorisms, and which renders man
happy or unhappy according as he obeys or escapes the
prescriptions of destiny.  Certainly this is far from that
Christian charity with which so many honorable writers today are
inspired, and which, penetrating to the heart of the bourgeoisie,
endeavors to temper the rigors of the law by numerous religious
institutions.  Political economy knows only justice, justice as
inflexible and unyielding as the miser's purse; and it is because
political economy is the effect of social spontaneity and the
expression of the divine will that I have been able to say:  God
is man's adversary, and Providence a misanthrope.  God makes us
pay, in weight of blood and measure of tears, for each of our
lessons; and to complete the evil, we, in our relations with our
fellows, all act like him.  Where, then, is this love of the
celestial father for his creatures?  Where is human fraternity?

Can he do otherwise? say the theists.  Man falling, the animal
remains: how could the Creator recognize in him his own image?
And what plainer than that he treats him then as a beast of
burden?  But the trial will not last for ever, and sooner or
later labor, having been PARTICULARIZED, will be synthetized.

Such is the ordinary argument of all those who seek to justify
Providence, but generally succeed only in lending new weapons to
atheism.  That is to say, then, that God would have envied us,
for six thousand years, an idea which would have saved millions
of victims, a distribution of labor at once special and
synthetic!  In return, he has given us, through his servants
Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mahomet, etc., those insipid writings,
the disgrace of our reason, which have killed more men than they
contain letters! Further, if we must believe primitive
revelation, social economy was the cursed science, the fruit of
the tree reserved for God, which man was forbidden to touch!  Why
this religious depreciation of labor, if it is true, as economic
science already shows, that labor is the father of love and the
organ of happiness?  Why this jealousy of our advancement?  But
if, as now sufficiently appears, our progress depends upon
ourselves alone, of what use is it to adore this phantom of
divinity, and what does he still ask of us through the multitude
of inspired persons who pursue us with their sermons?  All of
you, Christians, protestant and orthodox, neo-revelators,
charlatans and dupes, listen to the first verse of the
humanitarian hymn upon God's mercy:  "In proportion as the
principle of division of labor receives complete application, the
worker becomes weaker, narrower, and more dependent.  Art
advances: the artisan recedes!"[12]

[12] Tocqueville, "Democracy in America."

Then let us guard against anticipating conclusions and prejudging
the latest revelation of experience.  At present God seems less
favorable than hostile: let us confine ourselves to establishing
the fact.

Just as political economy, then, at its point of departure, has
made us understand these mysterious and dismal words:  IN
DECREASES; so arrived at its first station, it warns us in a
RECEDES.  To fix the ideas better, let us cite a few examples.

In all the branches of metal-working, who are the least
industrious of the wage-laborers?  Precisely those who are called
MACHINISTS.  Since tools have been so admirably perfected, a
machinist is simply a man who knows how to handle a file or
a plane: as for mechanics, that is the business of engineers and
foremen.  A country blacksmith often unites in his own person, by
the very necessity of his position, the various talents of the
locksmith, the edge-tool maker, the gunsmith, the machinist, the
wheel-wright, and the horse-doctor: the world of thought would be
astonished at the knowledge that is under the hammer of this man,
whom the people, always inclined to jest, nickname brule-fer.  A
workingman of Creuzot, who for ten years has seen the grandest
and finest that his profession can offer, on leaving his shop,
finds himself unable to render the slightest service or to earn
his living.  The incapacity of the subject is directly
proportional to the perfection of the art; and this is as true of
all the trades as of metal-working.

The wages of machinists are maintained as yet at a high rate:
sooner or later their pay must decrease, the poor quality of the
labor being unable to maintain it.

I have just cited a mechanical art; let us now cite a liberal

Would Gutenburg and his industrious companions, Faust and
Schoffer, ever have believed that, by the division of labor,
their sublime invention would fall into the domain of
ignorance--I had almost said idiocy?  There are few men so
weak-minded, so UNLETTERED, as the mass of workers who follow
the various branches of the typographic industry,-- compositors,
pressmen, type-founders, book-binders, and paper-makers.  The
printer, as he existed even in the days of the Estiennes, has
become almost an abstraction.  The employment of women in
type-setting has struck this noble industry to the heart, and
consummated its degradation.  I have seen a female
compositor--and she was one of the best--who did not know how to
read, and was acquainted only with the forms of the letters.

The whole art has been withdrawn into the hands of foremen and
proof-readers, modest men of learning whom the impertinence of
authors and patrons still humiliates, and a few workmen who are
real artists.  The press, in a word, fallen into mere mechanism,
is no longer, in its PERSONNEL, at the level of civilization:
soon there will be left of it but a few souvenirs.

I am told that the printers of Paris are endeavoring by
association to rise again from their degradation: may their
efforts not be exhausted in vain empiricism or misled into barren

After private industries, let us look at public administration.

In the public service, the effects of parcellaire labor are no
less frightful, no less intense: in all the departments of
administration, in proportion as the art develops, most of the
employees see their salaries diminish.  A letter-carrier receives
from four hundred to six hundred francs per annum, of which the
administration retains about a tenth for the retiring pension.
After thirty years of labor, the pension, or rather the
restitution, is three hundred francs per annum, which, when given
to an alms-house by the pensioner, entitles him to a bed, soup,
and washing.  My heart bleeds to say it, but I think,
nevertheless, that the administration is generous: what reward
would you give to a man whose whole function consists in walking?
The legend gives but FIVE SOUS to the Wandering Jew; the
letter-carriers receive twenty or thirty; true, the greater part
of them have a family.  That part of the service which calls into
exercise the intellectual faculties is reserved for the
postmasters and clerks: these are better paid; they do the work
of men.

Everywhere, then, in public service as well as free industry,
things are so ordered that nine-tenths of the laborers serve as
beasts of burden for the other tenth: such is the inevitable
effect of industrial progress and the indispensable condition of
all wealth.  It is important to look well at this elementary
truth before talking to the people of equality, liberty,
democratic institutions, and other utopias, the realization of
which involves a previous complete revolution in the relations of

The most remarkable effect of the division of labor is the decay
of literature.

In the Middle Ages and in antiquity the man of letters, a sort of
encyclopaedic doctor, a successor of the troubadour and the poet,
all-knowing, was almighty.  Literature lorded it over society
with a high hand; kings sought the favor of authors, or revenged
themselves for their contempt by burning them,--them and their
books.  This, too, was a way of recognizing literary sovereignty.

Today we have manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, bankers,
merchants, professors, engineers, librarians, etc.; we have no
men of letters.  Or rather, whoever has risen to a remarkable
height in his profession is thereby and of necessity lettered:
literature, like the baccalaureate, has become an elementary part
of every profession.  The man of letters, reduced to his simplest
expression, is the PUBLIC WRITER, a sort of writing commissioner
in the pay of everybody, whose best-known variety is the

It was a strange idea that occurred to the Chambers four years
ago,-- that of making a law on literary property!  As if
henceforth the idea was not to become more and more the
all-important point, the style nothing.  Thanks to God, there is
an end of parliamentary eloquence as of epic poetry and
mythology; the theatre rarely attracts business men and savants;
and while the connoisseurs are astonished at the decline of art,
the philosophic observer sees only the progress of manly reason,
troubled rather than rejoiced at these dainty trifles.  The
interest in romance is sustained only as long as it resembles
reality; history is reducing itself to anthropological exegesis;
everywhere, indeed, the art of talking well appears as a
subordinate auxiliary of the idea, the fact.  The worship of
speech, too mazy and slow for impatient minds, is neglected, and
its artifices are losing daily their power of seduction.  The
language of the nineteenth century is made up of facts and
figures, and he is the most eloquent among us who, with the
fewest words, can say the most things.  Whoever cannot speak this
language is mercilessly relegated to the ranks of the
rhetoricians; he is said to have no ideas.

In a young society the progress of letters necessarily outstrips
philosophical and industrial progress, and for a long time serves
for the expression of both.  But there comes a day when thought
leaves language in the rear, and when, consequently, the
continued preeminence of literature in a society becomes a sure
symptom of decline.  Language, in fact, is to every people the
collection of its native ideas, the encyclopaedia which
Providence first reveals to it; it is the field which its reason
must cultivate before directly attacking Nature through
observation and experience.  Now, as soon as a nation, after
having exhausted the knowledge contained in its vocabulary,
instead of pursuing its education by a superior philosophy, wraps
itself in its poetic mantle, and begins to play with its periods
and its hemistichs, we may safely say that such a society is
lost.  Everything in it will become subtle, narrow, and false; it
will not have even the advantage of maintaining in its splendor
the language of which it is foolishly enamored; instead of going
forward in the path of the geniuses of transition, the Tacituses,
the Thucydides, the Machiavels, and the Montesquieus, it will be
seen to fall, with irresistible force, from the majesty of Cicero
to the subtleties of Seneca, the antitheses of St. Augustine, and
the puns of St. Bernard.

Let no one, then, be deceived: from the moment that the mind, at
first entirely occupied with speech, passes to experience and
labor, the man of letters, properly speaking, is simply the puny
personification of the least of our faculties; and literature,
the refuse of intelligent industry, finds a market only with the
idlers whom it amuses and the proletaires whom it fascinates, the
jugglers who besiege power and the charlatans who shelter
themselves behind it, the hierophants of divine right who blow
the trumpet of Sinai, and the fanatical proclaimers of the
sovereignty of the people, whose few mouth-pieces, compelled to
practise their tribunician eloquence from tombs until they can
shower it from the height of rostrums, know no better than to
give to the public parodies of Gracchus and Demosthenes.

All the powers of society, then, agree in indefinitely
deteriorating the condition of the parcellaire laborer; and
experience, universally confirming the theory, proves that this
worker is condemned to misfortune from his mother's womb, no
political reform, no association of interests, no effort either
of public charity or of instruction, having the power to aid him.

The various specifics proposed in these latter days, far from
being able to cure the evil, would tend rather to inflame it by
irritation; and all that has been written on this point has only
exhibited in a clear light the vicious circle of political

This we shall demonstrate in a few words.

% 2.--Impotence of palliatives.--MM. Blanqui, Chevalier, Dunoyer,
Rossi, and Passy.

All the remedies proposed for the fatal effects of parcellaire
division may be reduced to two, which really are but one, the
second being the inversion of the first: to raise the mental and
moral condition of the workingman by increasing his comfort and
dignity; or else, to prepare the way for his future emancipation
and happiness by instruction.

We will examine successively these two systems, one of which is
represented by M. Blanqui, the other by M. Chevalier.

M. Blanqui is a friend of association and progress, a writer of
democratic tendencies, a professor who has a place in the hearts
of the proletariat.  In his opening discourse of the year 1845,
M. Blanqui proclaimed, as a means of salvation, the association
of labor and capital, the participation of the working man in the
profits,--that is, a beginning of industrial solidarity.  "Our
century," he exclaimed, "must witness the birth of the collective
producer."  M. Blanqui forgets that the collective producer was
born long since, as well as the collective consumer, and that the
question is no longer a genetic, but a medical, one.  Our task is
to cause the blood proceeding from the collective digestion,
instead of rushing wholly to the head, stomach, and lungs, to
descend also into the legs and arms.  Besides, I do not know what
method M. Blanqui proposes to employ in order to realize his
generous thought,--whether it be the establishment of national
workshops, or the loaning of capital by the State, or the
expropriation of the conductors of business enterprises and the
substitution for them of industrial associations, or, finally,
whether he will rest content with a recommendation of the
savings bank to workingmen, in which case the participation would
be put off till doomsday.

However this may be, M. Blanqui's idea amounts simply to an
increase of wages resulting from the copartnership, or at least
from the interest in the business, which he confers upon the
laborers.  What, then, is the value to the laborer of a
participation in the profits?

A mill with fifteen thousand spindles, employing three hundred
hands, does not pay at present an annual dividend of twenty
thousand francs.  I am informed by a Mulhouse manufacturer that
factory stocks in Alsace are generally below par and that this
industry has already become a means of getting money by
STOCK-JOBBING instead of by LABOR.  To SELL; to sell at the
right time; to sell dear,--is the only object in view; to
manufacture is only to prepare for a sale.  When I assume, then,
on an average, a profit of twenty thousand francs to a factory
employing three hundred persons, my argument being general, I am
twenty thousand francs out of the way.  Nevertheless, we will
admit the correctness of this amount.  Dividing twenty thousand
francs, the profit of the mill, by three hundred, the number of
persons, and again by three hundred, the number of working days,
I find an increase of pay for each person of twenty-two and
one-fifth centimes, or for daily expenditure an addition of
eighteen centimes, just a morsel of bread.  Is it worth while,
then, for this, to expropriate mill-owners and endanger the
public welfare, by erecting establishments which must be
insecure, since, property being divided into infinitely small
shares, and being no longer supported by profit, business
enterprises would lack ballast, and would be unable to weather
commercial gales.  And even if no expropriation was involved,
what a poor prospect to offer the working class is an
increase of eighteen centimes in return for centuries of economy;
for no less time than this would be needed to accumulate the
requisite capital, supposing that periodical suspensions of
business did not periodically consume its savings!

The fact which I have just stated has been pointed out in several
ways.  M. Passy[13] himself took from the books of a mill in
Normandy where the laborers were associated with the owner the
wages of several families for a period of ten years, and he found
that they averaged from twelve to fourteen hundred francs per
year.  He then compared the situation of mill-hands paid in
proportion to the prices obtained by their employers with that of
laborers who receive fixed wages, and found that the difference
is almost imperceptible.  This result might easily have been
foreseen.  Economic phenomena obey laws as abstract and immutable
as those of numbers: it is only privilege, fraud, and absolutism
which disturb the eternal harmony.

[13]  Meeting of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences,
September, 1845.

M. Blanqui, repentant, as it seems, at having taken this first
step toward socialistic ideas, has made haste to retract his
words.  At the same meeting in which M. Passy demonstrated the
inadequacy of cooperative association, he exclaimed:  "Does it
not seem that labor is a thing susceptible of organization, and
that it is in the power of the State to regulate the happiness of
humanity as it does the march of an army, and with an entirely
mathematical precision?  This is an evil tendency, a delusion
which the Academy cannot oppose too strongly, because it is not
only a chimera, but a dangerous sophism.  Let us respect good and
honest intentions; but let us not fear to say that to publish a
book upon the ORGANIZATION OF LABOR is to rewrite for the
fiftieth time a treatise upon the quadrature of the circle or the
philosopher's stone."

Then, carried away by his zeal, M. Blanqui finishes the
destruction of his theory of cooperation, which M. Passy already
had so rudely shaken, by the following example:  "M. Dailly, one
of the most enlightened of farmers, has drawn up an account for
each piece of land and an account for each product; and he proves
that within a period of thirty years the same man has never
obtained equal crops from the same piece of land.  The products
have varied from twenty-six thousand francs to nine thousand or
seven thousand francs, sometimes descending as low as three
hundred francs.  There are also certain products--potatoes, for
instance--which fail one time in ten.  How, then, with these
variations and with revenues so uncertain, can we establish even
distribution and uniform wages for laborers? . . . ."

It might be answered that the variations in the product of each
piece of land simply indicate that it is necessary to associate
proprietors with each other after having associated laborers with
proprietors, which would establish a more complete solidarity:
but this would be a prejudgment on the very thing in question,
which M. Blanqui definitively decides, after reflection, to be
unattainable,--namely, the organization of labor.  Besides, it is
evident that solidarity would not add an obolus to the common
wealth, and that, consequently, it does not even touch the
problem of division.

In short, the profit so much envied, and often a very uncertain
matter with employers, falls far short of the difference between
actual wages and the wages desired; and M. Blanqui's former plan,
miserable in its results and disavowed by its author, would be a
scourge to the manufacturing industry.  Now, the division of
labor being henceforth universally established, the argument is
generalized, and leads us to the conclusion that MISERY IS AN
EFFECT OF LABOR, as well as of idleness.

The answer to this is, and it is a favorite argument with the
people:  Increase the price of services; double and triple wages.

I confess that if such an increase was possible it would be a
complete success, whatever M. Chevalier may have said, who needs
to be slightly corrected on this point.

According to M. Chevalier, if the price of any kind of
merchandise whatever is increased, other kinds will rise in a
like proportion, and no one will benefit thereby.

This argument, which the economists have rehearsed for more than
a century, is as false as it is old, and it belonged to M.
Chevalier, as an engineer, to rectify the economic tradition.
The salary of a head clerk being ten francs per day, and the
wages of a workingman four, if the income of each is increased
five francs, the ratio of their fortunes, which was formerly as
one hundred to forty, will be thereafter as one hundred to sixty.

The increase of wages, necessarily taking place by addition and
not by proportion, would be, therefore, an excellent method of
equalization; and the economists would deserve to have thrown
back at them by the socialists the reproach of ignorance which
they have bestowed upon them at random.

But I say that such an increase is impossible, and that the
supposition is absurd: for, as M. Chevalier has shown very
clearly elsewhere, the figure which indicates the price of the
day's labor is only an algebraic exponent without effect on the
reality: and that which it is necessary first to endeavor to
increase, while correcting the inequalities of distribution, is
not the monetary expression, but the quantity of products.  Till
then every rise of wages can have no other effect than that
produced by a rise of the price of wheat, wine, meat, sugar,
soap, coal, etc.,--that is, the effect of a scarcity.  For what
is wages?

It is the cost price of wheat, wine, meat, coal; it is the
integrant price of all things.  Let us go farther yet: wages is
the proportionality of the elements which compose wealth, and
which are consumed every day reproductively by the mass of
laborers.  Now, to double wages, in the sense in which the people
understand the words, is to give to each producer a share greater
than his product, which is contradictory: and if the rise
pertains only to a few industries, a general disturbance in
exchange ensues,--that is, a scarcity.  God save me from
predictions! but, in spite of my desire for the amelioration of
the lot of the working class, I declare that it is impossible for
strikes followed by an increase of wages to end otherwise than in
a general rise in prices: that is as certain as that two and two
make four.  It is not by such methods that the workingmen will
attain to wealth and--what is a thousand times more precious than
wealth--liberty.  The workingmen, supported by the favor of an
indiscreet press, in demanding an increase of wages, have served
monopoly much better than their own real interests: may they
recognize, when their situation shall become more painful, the
bitter fruit of their inexperience!

Convinced of the uselessness, or rather, of the fatal effects, of
an increase of wages, and seeing clearly that the question is
wholly organic and not at all commercial, M. Chevalier attacks
the problem at the other end.  He asks for the working class,
first of all, instruction, and proposes extensive reforms in this

Instruction! this is also M. Arago's word to the workingmen; it
is the principle of all progress.  Instruction! . . . .  It
should be known once for all what may be expected from it in the
solution of the problem before us; it should be known, I say, not
whether it is desirable that all should receive it,--this no one
doubts,--but whether it is possible.

To clearly comprehend the complete significance of M. Chevalier's
views, a knowledge of his methods is indispensable.

M. Chevalier, long accustomed to discipline, first by his
polytechnic studies, then by his St. Simonian connections, and
finally by his position in the University, does not seem to admit
that a pupil can have any other inclination than to obey the
regulations, a sectarian any other thought than that of his
chief, a public functionary any other opinion than that of the
government.  This may be a conception of order as respectable as
any other, and I hear upon this subject no expressions of
approval or censure.  Has M. Chevalier an idea to offer peculiar
to himself?  On the principle that all that is not forbidden by
law is allowed, he hastens to the front to deliver his opinion,
and then abandons it to give his adhesion, if there is occasion,
to the opinion of authority.  It was thus that M. Chevalier,
before settling down in the bosom of the Constitution, joined M.
Enfantin: it was thus that he gave his views upon canals,
railroads, finance, property, long before the administration had
adopted any system in relation to the construction of railways,
the changing of the rate of interest on bonds, patents, literary
property, etc.

M. Chevalier, then, is not a blind admirer of the University
system of instruction,--far from it; and until the appearance of
the new order of things, he does not hesitate to say what he
thinks.  His opinions are of the most radical.

M. Villemain had said in his report:  "The object of the higher
education is to prepare in advance a choice of men to occupy and
serve in all the positions of the administration, the magistracy,
the bar and the various liberal professions, including the higher
ranks and learned specialties of the army and navy."

"The higher education," thereupon observes M. Chevalier,[14] "is
designed also to prepare men some of whom shall be farmers,
others manufacturers, these merchants, and those private
engineers.  Now, in the official programme, all these classes are
forgotten.  The omission is of considerable importance; for,
indeed, industry in its various forms, agriculture, commerce, are
neither accessories nor accidents in a State: they are its chief
dependence. . . .  If the University desires to justify its name,
it must provide a course in these things; else an INDUSTRIAL
UNIVERSITY will be established in opposition to it. . . .  We
shall have altar against altar, etc. . . ."

[14]  Journal des Economistes," April, 1843.

And as it is characteristic of a luminous idea to throw light on
all questions connected with it, professional instruction
furnishes M. Chevalier with a very expeditious method of
deciding, incidentally, the quarrel between the clergy and the
University on liberty of education.

"It must be admitted that a very great concession is made to the
clergy in allowing Latin to serve as the basis of education.  The
clergy know Latin as well as the University; it is their own
tongue.  Their tuition, moreover, is cheaper; hence they must
inevitably draw a large portion of our youth into their small
seminaries and their schools of a higher grade. . . ."

The conclusion of course follows: change the course of study, and
you decatholicize the realm; and as the clergy know only Latin
and the Bible, when they have among them neither masters of art,
nor farmers, nor accountants; when, of their forty thousand
priests, there are not twenty, perhaps, with the ability to make
a plan or forge a nail,--we soon shall see which the fathers of
families will choose, industry or the breviary, and whether they
do not regard labor as the most beautiful language in which to
pray to God.

Thus would end this ridiculous opposition between religious
education and profane science, between the spiritual and the
temporal, between reason and faith, between altar and throne, old
rubrics henceforth meaningless, but with which they still impose
upon the good nature of the public, until it takes offence.

M. Chevalier does not insist, however, on this solution: he knows
that religion and monarchy are two powers which, though
continually quarrelling, cannot exist without each other; and
that he may not awaken suspicion, he launches out into another
revolutionary idea,--equality.

"France is in a position to furnish the polytechnic school with
twenty times as many scholars as enter at present (the average
being one hundred and seventy-six, this would amount to three
thousand five hundred and twenty).  The University has but to say
the word. . . .  If my opinion was of any weight, I should
maintain that mathematical capacity is MUCH LESS SPECIAL than is
commonly supposed.  I remember the success with which children,
taken at random, so to speak, from the pavements of Paris, follow
the teaching of La Martiniere by the method of Captain Tabareau."

If the higher education, reconstructed according to the views of
M. Chevalier, was sought after by all young French men instead of
by only ninety thousand as commonly, there would be no
exaggeration in raising the estimate of the number of minds
mathematically inclined from three thousand five hundred and
twenty to ten thousand; but, by the same argument, we should have
ten thousand artists, philologists, and philosophers; ten
thousand doctors, physicians, chemists, and naturalists; ten
thousand economists, legists, and administrators; twenty thousand
manufacturers, foremen, merchants, and accountants; forty
thousand farmers, wine-growers, miners, etc.,--in all, one
hundred thousand specialists a year, or about one-third of our
youth.  The rest, having, instead of special adaptations, only
mingled adaptations, would be distributed indifferently

It is certain that so powerful an impetus given to intelligence
would quicken the progress of equality, and I do not doubt that
such is the secret desire of M. Chevalier.  But that is precisely
what troubles me: capacity is never wanting, any more than
population, and the problem is to find employment for the one and
bread for the other.  In vain does M. Chevalier tell us:  "The
higher education would give less ground for the complaint that it
throws into society crowds of ambitious persons without any means
of satisfying their desires, and interested in the overthrow of
the State; people without employment and unable to get any, good
for nothing and believing themselves fit for anything, especially
for the direction of public affairs.  Scientific studies do not
so inflate the mind.  They enlighten and regulate it at once;
they fit men for practical life. . . ."  Such language, I reply,
is good to use with patriarchs: a professor of political economy
should have more respect for his position and his audience.  The
government has only one hundred and twenty offices annually at
its disposal for one hundred and seventy-six students
admitted to the polytechnic school: what, then, would be its
embarrassment if the number of admissions was ten thousand, or
even, taking M. Chevalier's figures, three thousand five hundred?

And, to generalize, the whole number of civil positions is sixty
thousand, or three thousand vacancies annually; what dismay would
the government be thrown into if, suddenly adopting the
reformatory ideas of M. Chevalier, it should find itself besieged
by fifty thousand office- seekers!  The following objection has
often been made to republicans without eliciting a reply:  When
everybody shall have the electoral privilege, will the deputies
do any better, and will the proletariat be further advanced?  I
ask the same question of M. Chevalier:  When each academic year
shall bring you one hundred thousand fitted men, what will you do
with them?

To provide for these interesting young people, you will go down
to the lowest round of the ladder.  You will oblige the young
man, after fifteen years of lofty study, to begin, no longer as
now with the offices of aspirant engineer, sub-lieutenant of
artillery, second lieutenant, deputy, comptroller, general
guardian, etc., but with the ignoble positions of pioneer,
train-soldier, dredger, cabin-boy, fagot- maker, and exciseman.
There he will wait, until death, thinning the ranks, enables him
to advance a step.  Under such circumstances a man, a graduate of
the polytechnic school and capable of becoming a Vauban, may die
a laborer on a second class road, or a corporal in a regiment

Oh! how much more prudent Catholicism has shown itself, and how
far it has surpassed you all, St. Simonians, republicans,
university men, economists, in the knowledge of man and society!
The priest knows that our life is but a voyage, and that our
perfection cannot be realized here below; and he contents
himself with outlining on earth an education which must be
completed in heaven.  The man whom religion has moulded, content
to know, do, and obtain what suffices for his earthly destiny,
never can become a source of embarrassment to the government:
rather would he be a martyr.  O beloved religion! is it necessary
that a bourgeoisie which stands in such need of you should disown
you? . . .     Into what terrible struggles of pride and misery
does this mania for universal instruction plunge us!  Of what use
is professional education, of what good are agricultural and
commercial schools, if your students have neither employment nor
capital?  And what need to cram one's self till the age of twenty
with all sorts of knowledge, then to fasten the threads of a
mule-jenny or pick coal at the bottom of a pit?  What! you have
by your own confession only three thousand positions annually to
bestow upon fifty thousand possible capacities, and yet you talk
of establishing schools!  Cling rather to your system of
exclusion and privilege, a system as old as the world, the
support of dynasties and patriciates, a veritable machine for
gelding men in order to secure the pleasures of a caste of
Sultans.  Set a high price upon your teaching, multiply
obstacles, drive away, by lengthy tests, the son of the
proletaire whom hunger does not permit to wait, and protect with
all your power the ecclesiastical schools, where the students are
taught to labor for the other life, to cultivate resignation, to
fast, to respect those in high places, to love the king, and to
pray to God.  For every useless study sooner or later becomes an
abandoned study: knowledge is poison to slaves.

Surely M. Chevalier has too much sagacity not to have seen the
consequences of his idea.  But he has spoken from the bottom of
his heart, and we can only applaud his good intentions: men must
first be men; after that, he may live who can.

Thus we advance at random, guided by Providence, who never warns
us except with a blow: this is the beginning and end of political

Contrary to M. Chevalier, professor of political economy at the
College of France, M. Dunoyer, an economist of the Institute,
does not wish instruction to be organized.  The organization of
instruction is a species of organization of labor; therefore, no
organization.  Instruction, observes M. Dunoyer, is a profession,
not a function of the State; like all professions, it ought to be
and remain free.  It is communism, it is socialism, it is the
revolutionary tendency, whose principal agents have been
Robespierre, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and M. Guizot, which have
thrown into our midst these fatal ideas of the centralization and
absorption of all activity in the State.  The press is very free,
and the pen of the journalist is an object of merchandise;
religion, too, is very free, and every wearer of a gown, be it
short or long, who knows how to excite public curiosity, can draw
an audience about him.  M. Lacordaire has his devotees, M. Leroux
his apostles, M. Buchez his convent.  Why, then, should not
instruction also be free?  If the right of the instructed, like
that of the buyer, is unquestionable, and that of the instructor,
who is only a variety of the seller, is its correlative, it is
impossible to infringe upon the liberty of instruction without
doing violence to the most precious of liberties, that of the
conscience.  And then, adds M. Dunoyer, if the State owes
instruction to everybody, it will soon be maintained that it owes
labor; then lodging; then shelter. . . .  Where does that lead

The argument of M. Dunoyer is irrefutable: to organize
instruction is to give to every citizen a pledge of liberal
employment and comfortable wages; the two are as intimately
connected as the circulation of the arteries and the veins.  But
M. Dunoyer's theory implies also that progress belongs only to a
certain select portion of humanity, and that barbarism is the
eternal lot of nine-tenths of the human race.  It is this which
constitutes, according to M. Dunoyer, the very essence of
society, which manifests itself in three stages, religion,
hierarchy, and beggary.  So that in this system, which is that of
Destutt de Tracy, Montesquieu, and Plato, the antinomy of
division, like that of value, is without solution.

It is a source of inexpressible pleasure to me, I confess, to see
M. Chevalier, a defender of the centralization of instruction,
opposed by M. Dunoyer, a defender of liberty; M. Dunoyer in his
turn antagonized by M. Guizot; M. Guizot, the representative of
the centralizers, contradicting the Charter, which posits liberty
as a principle; the Charter trampled under foot by the University
men, who lay sole claim to the privilege of teaching, regardless
of the express command of the Gospel to the priests:  GO AND
TEACH.  And above all this tumult of economists, legislators,
ministers, academicians, professors, and priests, economic
Providence giving the lie to the Gospel, and shouting:
Pedagogues! what use am I to make of your instruction?

Who will relieve us of this anxiety?  M. Rossi leans toward
eclecticism:  Too little divided, he says, labor remains
unproductive; too much divided, it degrades man.  Wisdom lies
between these extremes; in medio virtus.  Unfortunately this
intermediate wisdom is only a small amount of poverty joined with
a small amount of wealth, so that the condition is not
modified in the least.  The proportion of good and evil, instead
of being as one hundred to one hundred, becomes as fifty to
fifty: in this we may take, once for all, the measure of
eclecticism.  For the rest, M. Rossi's juste-milieu is in direct
opposition to the great economic law:  TO PRODUCE WITH THE LEAST
Now, how can labor fulfil its destiny without an extreme
division?  Let us look farther, if you please.

"All economic systems and hypotheses," says M. Rossi, "belong to
the economist, but the intelligent, free, responsible man is
under the control of the moral law. . .  Political economy is
only a science which examines the relations of things, and draws
conclusions therefrom.  It examines the effects of labor; in the
application of labor, you should consider the importance of the
object in view.  When the application of labor is unfavorable to
an object higher than the production of wealth, it should not be
applied. . .  Suppose that it would increase the national wealth
to compel children to labor fifteen hours a day: morality would
say that that is not allowable.  Does that prove that political
economy is false?  No; that proves that you confound things which
should be kept separate."

If M. Rossi had a little more of that Gallic simplicity so
difficult for foreigners to acquire, he would very summarily have
THROWN HIS TONGUE TO THE DOGS, as Madame de Sevigne said.  But a
professor must talk, talk, talk, not for the sake of saying
anything, but in order to avoid silence.  M. Rossi takes three
turns around the question, then lies down: that is enough to make
certain people believe that he has answered it.

It is surely a sad symptom for a science when, in developing
itself according to its own principles, it reaches its object
just in time to be contradicted by another; as, for example, when
the postulates of political economy are found to be opposed to
those of morality, for I suppose that morality is a science as
well as political economy.  What, then, is human knowledge, if
all its affirmations destroy each other, and on what shall we
rely?  Divided labor is a slave's occupation, but it alone is
really productive; undivided labor belongs to the free man, but
it does not pay its expenses.  On the one hand, political economy
tells us to be rich; on the other, morality tells us to be free;
and M. Rossi, speaking in the name of both, warns us at the same
time that we can be neither free nor rich, for to be but half of
either is to be neither.  M. Rossi's doctrine, then, far from
satisfying this double desire of humanity, is open to the
objection that, to avoid exclusiveness, it strips us of
everything: it is, under another form, the history of the
representative system.

But the antagonism is even more profound than M. Rossi has
supposed.  For since, according to universal experience (on this
point in harmony with theory), wages decrease in proportion to
the division of labor, it is clear that, in submitting ourselves
to parcellaire slavery, we thereby shall not obtain wealth; we
shall only change men into machines: witness the laboring
population of the two worlds.  And since, on the other hand,
without the division of labor, society falls back into barbarism,
it is evident also that, by sacrificing wealth, we shall not
obtain liberty: witness all the wandering tribes of Asia and
Africa.  Therefore it is necessary--economic science and morality
absolutely command it--for us to solve the problem of division:
now, where are the economists?  More than thirty years ago,
Lemontey, developing a remark of Smith, exposed the demoralizing
and homicidal influence of the division of labor.  What has
been the reply; what investigations have been made; what remedies
proposed; has the question even been understood?

Every year the economists report, with an exactness which I would
commend more highly if I did not see that it is always fruitless,
the commercial condition of the States of Europe.  They know how
many yards of cloth, pieces of silk, pounds of iron, have been
manufactured; what has been the consumption per head of wheat,
wine, sugar, meat: it might be said that to them the ultimate of
science is to publish inventories, and the object of their labor
is to become general comptrollers of nations.  Never did such a
mass of material offer so fine a field for investigation.  What
has been found; what new principle has sprung from this mass;
what solution of the many problems of long standing has been
reached; what new direction have studies taken?

One question, among others, seems to have been prepared for a
final judgment,--pauperism.  Pauperism, of all the phenomena of
the civilized world, is today the best known: we know pretty
nearly whence it comes, when and how it arrives, and what it
costs; its proportion at various stages of civilization has been
calculated, and we have convinced ourselves that all the
specifics with which it hitherto has been fought have been
impotent.  Pauperism has been divided into genera, species, and
varieties: it is a complete natural history, one of the most
important branches of anthropology.  Well I the unquestionable
result of all the facts collected, unseen, shunned, covered by
the economists with their silence, is that pauperism is
constitutional and chronic in society as long as the antagonism
between labor and capital continues, and that this antagonism can
end only by the absolute negation of political economy.
What issue from this labyrinth have the economists discovered?

This last point deserves a moment's attention.

In primitive communism misery, as I have observed in a preceding
paragraph, is the universal condition.

Labor is war declared upon this misery.

Labor organizes itself, first by division, next by machinery,
then by competition, etc.

Now, the question is whether it is not in the essence of this
organization, as given us by political economy, at the same time
that it puts an end to the misery of some, to aggravate that of
others in a fatal and unavoidable manner.  These are the terms in
which the question of pauperism must be stated, and for this
reason we have undertaken to solve it.

What means, then, this eternal babble of the economists about the
improvidence of laborers, their idleness, their want of dignity,
their ignorance, their debauchery, their early marriages, etc.?
All these vices and excesses are only the cloak of pauperism; but
the cause, the original cause which inexorably holds four-fifths
of the human race in disgrace,--what is it?  Did not Nature make
all men equally gross, averse to labor, wanton, and wild?  Did
not patrician and proletaire spring from the same clay?  Then how
happens it that, after so many centuries, and in spite of so many
miracles of industry, science, and art, comfort and culture have
not become the inheritance of all?  How happens it that in Paris
and London, centres of social wealth, poverty is as hideous as in
the days of Caesar and Agricola?  Why, by the side of this
refined aristocracy, has the mass remained so uncultivated?  It
is laid to the vices of the people: but the vices of the upper
class appear to be no less; perhaps they are even greater.  The
original stain affected all alike: how happens it, once more,
that the baptism of civilization has not been equally efficacious
for all?  Does this not show that progress itself is a privilege,
and that the man who has neither wagon nor horse is forced to
flounder about for ever in the mud?  What do I say?  The totally
destitute man has no desire to improve: he has fallen so low that
ambition even is extinguished in his heart.

"Of all the private virtues," observes M. Dunoyer with infinite
reason, "the most necessary, that which gives us all the others
in succession, is the passion for well-being, is the violent
desire to extricate one's self from misery and abjection, is that
spirit of emulation and dignity which does not permit men to rest
content with an inferior situation. . . .  But this sentiment,
which seems so natural, is unfortunately much less common than is
thought.  There are few reproaches which the generality of men
deserve less than that which ascetic moralists bring against them
of being too fond of their comforts: the opposite reproach might
be brought against them with infinitely more justice. . . .
There is even in the nature of men this very remarkable feature,
that the less their knowledge and resources, the less desire they
have of acquiring these.  The most miserable savages and the
least enlightened of men are precisely those in whom it is most
difficult to arouse wants, those in whom it is hardest to inspire
the desire to rise out of their condition; so that man must
already have gained a certain degree of comfort by his labor,
before he can feel with any keenness that need of improving his
condition, of perfecting his existence, which I call the love of

[15]  "The Liberty of Labor," Vol. II, p. 80.

Thus the misery of the laboring classes arises in general from
their lack of heart and mind, or, as M. Passy has said somewhere,
from the weakness, the inertia of their moral and intellectual
faculties.  This inertia is due to the fact that the said
laboring classes, still half savage, do not have a sufficiently
ardent desire to ameliorate their condition: this M. Dunoyer
shows.  But as this absence of desire is itself the effect of
misery, it follows that misery and apathy are each other's effect
and cause, and that the proletariat turns in a circle.

To rise out of this abyss there must be either well-being,--that
is, a gradual increase of wages,--or intelligence and
courage,--that is, a gradual development of faculties: two things
diametrically opposed to the degradation of soul and body which
is the natural effect of the division of labor.  The misfortune
of the proletariat, then, is wholly providential, and to
undertake to extinguish it in the present state of political
economy would be to produce a revolutionary whirlwind.

For it is not without a profound reason, rooted in the loftiest
considerations of morality, that the universal conscience,
expressing itself by turns through the selfishness of the rich
and the apathy of the proletariat, denies a reward to the man
whose whole function is that of a lever and spring.  If, by some
impossibility, material well-being could fall to the lot of the
parcellaire laborer, we should see something monstrous happen:
the laborers employed at disagreeable tasks would become like
those Romans, gorged with the wealth of the world, whose
brutalized minds became incapable of devising new pleasures.
Well-being without education stupefies people and makes them
insolent: this was noticed in the most ancient times.
Incrassatus est, et recalcitravit, says Deuteronomy.  For
the rest, the parcellaire laborer has judged himself: he is
content, provided he has bread, a pallet to sleep on, and plenty
of liquor on Sunday.  Any other condition would be prejudicial to
him, and would endanger public order.

At Lyons there is a class of men who, under cover of the monopoly
given them by the city government, receive higher pay than
college professors or the head-clerks of the government
ministers: I mean the porters.  The price of loading and
unloading at certain wharves in Lyons, according to the schedule
of the Rigues or porters' associations, is thirty centimes per
hundred kilogrammes.  At this rate, it is not seldom that a man
earns twelve, fifteen, and even twenty francs a day: he only has
to carry forty or fifty sacks from a vessel to a warehouse.  It
is but a few hours' work.  What a favorable condition this would
be for the development of intelligence, as well for children as
for parents, if, of itself and the leisure which it brings,
wealth was a moralizing principle!  But this is not the case: the
porters of Lyons are today what they always have been, drunken,
dissolute, brutal, insolent, selfish, and base.  It is a painful
thing to say, but I look upon the following declaration as a
duty, because it is the truth: one of the first reforms to be
effected among the laboring classes will be the reduction of the
wages of some at the same time that we raise those of others.
Monopoly does not gain in respectability by belonging to the
lowest classes of people, especially when it serves to maintain
only the grossest individualism.  The revolt of the silk-workers
met with no sympathy, but rather hostility, from the porters and
the river population generally.  Nothing that happens off the
wharves has any power to move them.  Beasts of burden fashioned
in advance for despotism, they will not mingle with politics as
long as their privilege is maintained.  Nevertheless, I ought to
say in their defence that, some time ago, the necessities of
competition having brought their prices down, more social
sentiments began to awaken in these gross natures: a few more
reductions seasoned with a little poverty, and the Rigues of
Lyons will be chosen as the storming-party when the time comes
for assaulting the bastilles.

In short, it is impossible, contradictory, in the present system
of society, for the proletariat to secure well-being through
education or education through well-being.  For, without
considering the fact that the proletaire, a human machine, is as
unfit for comfort as for education, it is demonstrated, on the
one hand, that his wages continually tend to go down rather than
up, and, on the other, that the cultivation of his mind, if it
were possible, would be useless to him; so that he always
inclines towards barbarism and misery.  Everything that has been
attempted of late years in France and England with a view to the
amelioration of the condition of the poor in the matters of the
labor of women and children and of primary instruction, unless it
was the fruit of some hidden thought of radicalism, has been done
contrary to economic ideas and to the prejudice of the
established order.  Progress, to the mass of laborers, is always
the book sealed with the seven seals; and it is not by
legislative misconstructions that the relentless enigma will be

For the rest, if the economists, by exclusive attention to their
old routine, have finally lost all knowledge of the present state
of things, it cannot be said that the socialists have better
solved the antinomy which division of labor raised.  Quite the
contrary, they have stopped with negation; for is it not
perpetual negation to oppose, for instance, the uniformity of
parcellaire labor with a so-called variety in which each one can
change his occupation ten, fifteen, twenty times a day at will?

As if to change ten, fifteen, twenty times a day from one kind of
divided labor to another was to make labor synthetic; as if,
consequently, twenty fractions of the day's work of a manual
laborer could be equal to the day's work of an artist!  Even if
such industrial vaulting was practicable,--and it may be asserted
in advance that it would disappear in the presence of the
necessity of making laborers responsible and therefore functions
personal,--it would not change at all the physical, moral, and
intellectual condition of the laborer; the dissipation would only
be a surer guarantee of his incapacity and, consequently, his
dependence.  This is admitted, moreover, by the organizers,
communists, and others.  So far are they from pretending to solve
the antinomy of division that all of them admit, as an essential
condition of organization, the hierarchy of labor,--that is, the
classification of laborers into parcellaires and generalizers or
organizers,--and in all utopias the distinction of capacities,
the basis or everlasting excuse for inequality of goods, is
admitted as a pivot.  Those reformers whose schemes have nothing
to recommend them but logic, and who, after having complained of
the SIMPLISM, monotony, uniformity, and extreme division of
labor, then propose a PLURALITY as a SYNTHESIS,--such inventors,
I say, are judged already, and ought to be sent back to school.

But you, critic, the reader undoubtedly will ask, what is your
solution?  Show us this synthesis which, retaining the
responsibility, the personality, in short, the specialty of the
laborer, will unite extreme division and the greatest variety in
one complex and harmonious whole.

My reply is ready:  Interrogate facts, consult humanity: we can
choose no better guide.  After the oscillations of value,
division of labor is the economic fact which influences most
perceptibly profits and wages.  It is the first stake driven by
Providence into the soil of industry, the starting-point of the
immense triangulation which finally must determine the right and
duty of each and all.  Let us, then, follow our guides, without
which we can only wander and lose ourselves.

Tu longe sequere, et vestigia semper adora.



"I have witnessed with profound regret the CONTINUANCE OF
DISTRESS in the manufacturing districts of the country."

Words of Queen Victoria on the reassembling of parliament.

If there is anything of a nature to cause sovereigns to reflect,
it is that, more or less impassible spectators of human
calamities, they are, by the very constitution of society and the
nature of their power, absolutely powerless to cure the
sufferings of their subjects; they are even prohibited from
paying any attention to them.  Every question of labor and wages,
say with one accord the economic and representative theorists,
must remain outside of the attributes of power.  From the height
of the glorious sphere where religion has placed them, thrones,
dominations, principalities, powers, and all the heavenly host
view the torment of society, beyond the reach of its stress; but
their power does not extend over the winds and floods.  Kings can
do nothing for the salvation of mortals.  And, in truth, these
theorists are right: the prince is established to maintain, not
to revolutionize; to protect reality, not to bring about utopia.
He represents one of the antagonistic principles: hence, if he
were to establish harmony, he would eliminate himself, which
on his part would be sovereignly unconstitutional and absurd.

But as, in spite of theories, the progress of ideas is
incessantly changing the external form of institutions in such a
way as to render continually necessary exactly that which the
legislator neither desires nor foresees,--so that, for instance,
questions of taxation become questions of distribution; those of
public utility, questions of national labor and industrial
organization; those of finance, operations of credit; and those
of international law, questions of customs duties and
markets,--it stands as demonstrated that the prince, who,
according to theory, should never interfere with things which
nevertheless, without theory's foreknowledge, are daily and
irresistibly becoming matters of government, is and can be
henceforth, like Divinity from which he emanates, whatever may be
said, only an hypothesis, a fiction.

And finally, as it is impossible that the prince and the
interests which it is his mission to defend should consent to
diminish and disappear before emergent principles and new rights
posited, it follows that progress, after being accomplished in
the mind insensibly, is realized in society by leaps, and that
force, in spite of the calumny of which it is the object, is the
necessary condition of reforms.  Every society in which the power
of insurrection is suppressed is a society dead to progress:
there is no truth of history better proven.

And what I say of constitutional monarchies is equally true of
representative democracies: everywhere the social compact has
united power and conspired against life, it being impossible for
the legislator either to see that he was working against his own
ends or to proceed otherwise.

Monarchs and representatives, pitiable actors in
parliamentary comedies, this in the last analysis is what
you are: talismans against the future!  Every year brings you the
grievances of the people; and when you are asked for the remedy,
your wisdom covers its face!  Is it necessary to support
privilege,--that is, that consecration of the right of the
strongest which created you and which is changing every day?
Promptly, at the slightest nod of your head, a numerous army
starts up, runs to arms, and forms in line of battle.  And when
the people complain that, in spite of their labor and precisely
because of their labor, misery devours them, when society asks
you for life, you recite acts of mercy!  All your energy is
expended for conservatism, all your virtue vanishes in
aspirations!  Like the Pharisee, instead of feeding your father,
you pray for him!  Ah!  I tell you, we possess the secret of your
mission: you exist only to prevent us from living.  Nolite ergo
imperare, get you gone!

As for us, who view the mission of power from quite another
standpoint, and who wish the special work of government to be
precisely that of exploring the future, searching for progress,
and securing for all liberty, equality, health, and wealth, we
continue our task of criticism courageously, entirely sure that,
when we have laid bare the cause of the evils of society, the
principle of its fevers, the motive of its disturbances, we shall
not lack the power to apply the remedy.

% 1.--Of the function of machinery in its relations to liberty.

The introduction of machinery into industry is accomplished in
opposition to the law of division, and as if to reestablish the
equilibrium profoundly compromised by that law.  To truly
appreciate the significance of this movement and grasp its
spirit, a few general considerations become necessary.

Modern philosophers, after collecting and classifying their
annals, have been led by the nature of their labors to deal also
with history: then it was that they saw, not without surprise,
that the HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY was the same thing at bottom as
the PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY; further, that these two branches of
speculation, so different in appearance, the history of
philosophy and the philosophy of history, were also only the
stage representation of the concepts of metaphysics, which is
philosophy entire.

Now, dividing the material of universal history among a certain
number of frames, such as mathematics, natural history, social
economy, etc., it will be found that each of these divisions
contains also metaphysics.  And it will be the same down to the
last subdivision of the totality of history: so that entire
philosophy lies at the bottom of every natural or industrial
manifestation; that it is no respecter of degrees or qualities;
that, to rise to its sublimest conceptions, all prototypes may be
employed equally well; and, finally, that, all the postulates of
reason meeting in the most modest industry as well as in the most
general sciences, to make every artisan a philosopher,--that is,
a generalizing and highly synthetic mind,--it would be enough to
teach him--what? his profession.

Hitherto, it is true, philosophy, like wealth, has been reserved
for certain classes: we have the philosophy of history, the
philosophy of law, and some other philosophies also; this is a
sort of appropriation which, like many others of equally noble
origin, must disappear.  But, to consummate this immense
equation, it is necessary to begin with the philosophy of labor,
after which each laborer will be able to attempt in his turn the
philosophy of his trade.
Thus every product of art and industry, every political and
religious constitution, like every creature organized or
unorganized, being only a realization, a natural or practical
application, of philosophy, the identity of the laws of nature
and reason, of being and idea, is demonstrated; and when, for our
own purpose, we establish the constant conformity of economic
phenomena to the pure laws of thought, the equivalence of the
real and the ideal in human facts, we only repeat in a particular
case this eternal demonstration.

What do we say, in fact?

To determine value,--in other words, to organize within itself
the production and distribution of wealth,--society proceeds
exactly as the mind does in the generation of concepts.  First it
posits a primary fact, acts upon a primary hypothesis, the
division of labor, a veritable antinomy, the antagonistic results
of which are evolved in social economy, just as the consequences
might have been deduced in the mind: so that the industrial
movement, following in all respects the deduction of ideas, is
divided into a double current, one of useful effects, the other
of subversive results, all equally necessary and legitimate
products of the same law.  To harmonically establish this
two-faced principle and solve this antinomy, society evokes a
second, soon to be followed by a third; and such will be the
progress of the social genius until, having exhausted all its
contradictions,--supposing, though it is not proved, that there
is an end to contradiction in humanity,--it shall cover with one
backward leap all its previous positions and in a single formula
solve all problems.     In following in our exposition this
method of the parallel development of the reality and the idea,
we find a double advantage: first, that of escaping the reproach
of materialism, so often applied to economists, to whom facts are
truth simply because they are facts, and material facts.  To us,
on the contrary, facts are not matter,--for we do not know what
the word matter means,--but visible manifestations of invisible
ideas.  So viewed, the value of facts is measured by the idea
which they represent; and that is why we have rejected as
illegitimate and non-conclusive useful value and value in
exchange, and later the division of labor itself, although to the
economists all these have an absolute authority.

On the other hand, it is as impossible to accuse us of
spiritualism, idealism, or mysticism: for, admitting as a point
of departure only the external manifestation of the idea,--the
idea which we do not know, which does not exist, as long as it is
not reflected, like light, which would be nothing if the sun
existed by itself in an infinite void,--and brushing aside all a
priori reasoning upon theogony and cosmogony, all inquiry into
substance, cause, the me and the not-me, we confine ourselves to
searching for the LAWS of being and to following the order of
their appearance as far as reason can reach.

Doubtless all knowledge brings up at last against a mystery:
such, for instance, as matter and mind, both of which we admit as
two unknown essences, upon which all phenomena rest.  But this is
not to say that mystery is the point of departure of knowledge,
or that mysticism is the necessary condition of logic: quite the
contrary, the spontaneity of our reason tends to the perpetual
rejection of mysticism; it makes an a priori protest against all
mystery, because it has no use for mystery except to deny it, and
because the negation of mysticism is the only thing for which
reason has no need of experience.

In short, human facts are the incarnation of human ideas:
therefore, to study the laws of social economy is to
constitute the theory of the laws of reason and create
philosophy.  We may now pursue the course of our investigation.

At the end of the preceding chapter we left the laborer at
loggerheads with the law of division: how will this indefatigable
Oedipus manage to solve this enigma?

In society the incessant appearance of machinery is the
antithesis, the inverse formula, of the division of labor; it is
the protest of the industrial genius against parcellaire and
homicidal labor.  What is a machine, in fact?  A method of
reuniting divers particles of labor which division had separated.

Every machine may be defined as a summary of several operations,
a simplification of powers, a condensation of labor, a reduction
of costs.  In all these respects machinery is the counterpart of
division.  Therefore through machinery will come a restoration of
the parcellaire laborer, a decrease of toil for the workman, a
fall in the price of his product, a movement in the relation of
values, progress towards new discoveries, advancement of the
general welfare.

As the discovery of a formula gives a new power to the geometer,
so the invention of a machine is an abridgment of manual labor
which multiplies the power of the producer, from which it may be
inferred that the antinomy of the division of labor, if not
entirely destroyed, will be balanced and neutralized.  No one
should fail to read the lectures of M. Chevalier setting forth
the innumerable advantages resulting to society from the
intervention of machinery; they make a striking picture to which
I take pleasure in referring my reader.

Machinery, positing itself in political economy in opposition to
the division of labor, represents synthesis opposing itself in
the human mind to analysis; and just as in the division of labor
and in machinery, as we shall soon see, political economy
entire is contained, so with analysis and synthesis goes the
possession of logic entire, of philosophy.  The man who labors
proceeds necessarily and by turns by division and the aid of
tools; likewise, he who reasons performs necessarily and by turns
the operations of synthesis and analysis, nothing more,
absolutely nothing.  And labor and reason will never get beyond
this: Prometheus, like Neptune, attains in three strides the
confines of the world.

From these principles, as simple and as luminous as axioms,
immense consequences follow.

As in the operation of the mind analysis and synthesis are
essentially inseparable, and as, looking at the matter from
another point, theory becomes legitimate only on condition of
following experience foot by foot, it follows that labor, uniting
analysis and synthesis, theory and experience, in a continuous
action,--labor, the external form of logic and consequently a
summary of reality and idea,--appears again as a universal method
of instruction.  Fit fabricando faber: of all systems of
education the most absurd is that which separates intelligence
from activity, and divides man into two impossible entities,
theorizer and automaton.  That is why we applaud the just
complaints of M. Chevalier, M. Dunoyer, and all those who demand
reform in university education; on that also rests the hope of
the results that we have promised ourselves from such reform.  If
education were first of all experimental and practical, reserving
speech only to explain, summarize, and coordinate work; if those
who cannot learn with imagination and memory were permitted to
learn with their eyes and hands,--soon we should witness a
multiplication, not only of the forms of labor, but of
capacities; everybody, knowing the theory of something, would
thereby possess the language of philosophy; on occasion he
could, were it only for once in his life, create, modify,
perfect, give proof of intelligence and comprehension, produce
his master-piece, in a word, show himself a man.  The inequality
in the acquisitions of memory would not affect the equivalence of
faculties, and genius would no longer seem to us other than what
it really is,--mental health.

The fine minds of the eighteenth century went into extended
disputations about what constitutes GENIUS, wherein it differs
from TALENT, what we should understand by MIND, etc.  They had
transported into the intellectual sphere the same distinctions
that, in society, separate persons.  To them there were kings and
rulers of genius, princes of genius, ministers of genius; and
then there were also noble minds and bourgeois minds, city
talents and country talents.  Clear at the foot of the ladder lay
the gross industrial population, souls imperfectly outlined,
excluded from the glory of the elect.  All rhetorics are still
filled with these impertinences, which monarchical interests,
literary vanity, and socialistic hypocrisy strain themselves to
sanction, for the perpetual slavery of nations and the
maintenance of the existing order.

But, if it is demonstrated that all the operations of the mind
are reducible to two, analysis and synthesis, which are
necessarily inseparable, although distinct; if, by a forced
consequence, in spite of the infinite variety of tasks and
studies, the mind never does more than begin the same canvas over
again,--the man of genius is simply a man with a good
constitution, who has worked a great deal, thought a great deal,
analyzed, compared, classified, summarized, and concluded a great
deal; while the limited being, who stagnates in an endemic
routine, instead of developing his faculties, has killed his
intelligence through inertia and automatism.  It is absurd
to distinguish as differing in nature that which really differs
only in age, and then to convert into privilege and exclusion the
various degrees of a development or the fortunes of a spontaneity
which must gradually disappear through labor and education.

The psychological rhetoricians who have classified human souls
into dynasties, noble races, bourgeois families, and the
proletariat observed nevertheless that genius was not universal,
and that it had its specialty; consequently Homer, Plato,
Phidias, Archimedes, Caesar, etc., all of whom seemed to them
first in their sort, were declared by them equals and sovereigns
of distinct realms.  How irrational!  As if the specialty of
genius did not itself reveal the law of the equality of minds!
As if, looking at it in another light, the steadiness of success
in the product of genius were not a proof that it works according
to principles outside of itself, which are the guarantee of the
perfection of its work, as long as it follows them with fidelity
and certainty!  This apotheosis of genius, dreamed of with open
eyes by men whose chatter will remain forever barren, would
warrant a belief in the innate stupidity of the majority of
mortals, if it were not a striking proof of their perfectibility.

Labor, then, after having distinguished capacities and arranged
their equilibrium by the division of industries, completes the
armament of intelligence, if I may venture to say so, by
machinery.  According to the testimony of history as well as
according to analysis, and notwithstanding the anomalies caused
by the antagonism of economic principles, intelligence differs in
men, not by power, clearness, or reach, but, in the first place,
by specialty, or, in the language of the schools, by qualitative
determination, and, in the second place, by exercise and
education.  Hence, in the individual as in the collective
man, intelligence is much more a faculty which comes, forms, and
develops, qu{ae} fit, than an entity or entelechy which exists,
wholly formed, prior to apprenticeship.  Reason, by whatever name
we call it,--genius, talent, industry,--is at the start a naked
and inert potentiality, which gradually grows in size and
strength, takes on color and form, and shades itself in an
infinite variety of ways.  By the importance of its acquirements,
by its capital, in a word, the intelligence of one individual
differs and will always differ from that of another; but, being a
power equal in all at the beginning, social progress must consist
in rendering it, by an ever increasing perfection of methods,
again equal in all at the end.  Otherwise labor would remain a
privilege for some and a punishment for others.

But the equilibrium of capacities, the prelude of which we have
seen in the division of labor, does not fulfil the entire destiny
of machinery, and the views of Providence extend far beyond.
With the introduction of machinery into economy, wings are given

The machine is the symbol of human liberty, the sign of our
domination over nature, the attribute of our power, the
expression of our right, the emblem of our personality.  Liberty,
intelligence,--those constitute the whole of man: for, if we
brush aside as mystical and unintelligible all speculation
concerning the human being considered from the point of view of
substance (mind or matter), we have left only two categories of
manifestations,--the first including all that we call sensations,
volitions, passions, attractions, instincts, sentiments; the
other, all phenomena classed under the heads of attention,
perception, memory, imagination, comparison, judgment, reasoning,
etc.  As for the organic apparatus, very far from being the
principle or base of these two orders of faculties, it must be
considered as their synthetic and positive realization, their
living and harmonious expression.  For just as from the
long-continued issue by humanity of its antagonistic principles
must some day result social organization, so man must be
conceived as the result of two series of potentialities.

Thus, after having posited itself as logic, social economy,
pursuing its work, posits itself as psychology.  The education of
intelligence and liberty,--in a word, the welfare of man,--all
perfectly synonymous expressions,--such is the common object of
political economy and philosophy.  To determine the laws of the
production and distribution of wealth will be to demonstrate, by
an objective and concrete exposition, the laws of reason and
liberty; it will be to create philosophy and right a posteriori:
whichever way we turn, we are in complete metaphysics.

Let us try, now, with the joint data of psychology and political
economy, to define liberty.

If it is allowable to conceive of human reason, in its origin, as
a lucid and reflecting atom, capable of some day representing the
universe, but at first giving no image at all, we may likewise
consider liberty, at the birth of conscience, as a living point,
punctum saliens, a vague, blind, or, rather, indifferent
spontaneity, capable of receiving all possible impressions,
dispositions, and inclinations.  Liberty is the faculty of acting
and of not acting, which, through any choice or determination
whatever (I use the word determination here both passively and
actively), abandons its indifference and becomes WILL.

I say, then, that liberty, like intelligence, is naturally an
undetermined, unformed faculty, which gets its value and
character later from external impressions,--a faculty, therefore,
which is negative at the beginning, but which gradually defines
and outlines itself by exercise,--I mean, by education.

The etymology of the word liberty, at least as I understand it,
will serve still better to explain my thought.  The root is
lib-et, he pleases (German, lieben, to love); whence have been
constructed lib-eri, children, those dear to us, a name reserved
for the children of the father of a family; lib-ertas, the
condition, character, or inclination of children of a noble race;
lib-ido, the passion of a slave, who knows neither God nor law
nor country, synonymous with licentia, evil conduct.  When
spontaneity takes a useful, generous, or beneficent direction, it
is called libertas; when, on the contrary, it takes a harmful,
vicious, base, or evil direction, it is called libido.

A learned economist, M. Dunoyer, has given a definition of
liberty which, by its likeness to our own, will complete the
demonstration of its exactness.

I call liberty that power which man acquires of using his forces
more easily in PROPORTION AS HE FREES HIMSELF from the obstacles
which originally hindered the exercise thereof.  I say that he is
the FREER the more thoroughly DELIVERED he is from the causes
which prevented him from making use of his forces, the farther
from him he has driven these causes, the more he has extended and
cleared the sphere of his action . . . .  Thus it is said that a
man has a free mind, that he enjoys great liberty of mind, not
only when his intelligence is not disturbed by any external
violence, but also when it is neither obscured by intoxication,
nor changed by disease, nor kept in impotence by lack of

M. Dunoyer has here viewed liberty only on its negative
side,--that is, as if it were simply synonymous with FREEDOM
FROM OBSTACLES.  At that rate liberty would not be a faculty of
man; it would be nothing.  But immediately M. Dunoyer, though
persisting in his incomplete definition, seizes the true side of
the matter: then it is that it occurs to him to say that man, in
inventing a machine, serves his liberty, not, as we express
ourselves, because he determines it, but, in M. Dunoyer's style,
because he removes a difficulty from its path.

Thus articulate language is a better instrument than language by
sign; therefore one is freer to express his thought and impress
it upon the mind of another by speech than by gesture.  The
written word is a more potent instrument than the spoken word;
therefore one is freer to act on the mind of his fellows when he
knows how to picture the word to their eyes than when he simply
knows how to speak it.  The press is an instrument two or three
hundred times more potent than the pen; therefore one is two or
three hundred times freer to enter into relation with other men
when he can spread his ideas by printing than when he can publish
them only by writing.

I will not point out all that is inexact and illogical in this
fashion of representing liberty.  Since Destutt de Tracy, the
last representative of the philosophy of Condillac, the
philosophical spirit has been obscured among economists of the
French school; the fear of ideology has perverted their language,
and one perceives, in reading them, that adoration of fact has
caused them to lose even the perception of theory.  I prefer to
establish the fact that M. Dunoyer, and political economy with
him, is not mistaken concerning the essence of liberty, a force,
energy, or spontaneity indifferent in itself to every action, and
consequently equally susceptible of any determination, good or
bad, useful or harmful.  M. Dunoyer has had so strong a suspicion
of the truth that he writes himself:

Instead of considering liberty as a dogma, I shall present it as
a RESULT; instead of making it the attribute of man, I shall
make it the ATTRIBUTE OF CIVILIZATION; instead of imagining
forms of government calculated to establish it, I shall do my
best to explain how it is BORN OF EVERY STEP OF OUR PROGRESS.

Then he adds, with no less reason:

It will be noticed how much this method differs from that of
those dogmatic philosophers who talk only of rights and duties;
of what it is the duty of governments to do and the right of
nations to demand, etc.  I do not say sententiously: men have a
right to be free; I confine myself to asking: how does it happen
that they are so?

In accordance with this exposition one may sum up in four lines
the work that M. Dunoyer has tried to do:  A REVIEW of the
obstacles that IMPEDE liberty and the means (instruments,
methods, ideas, customs, religions, governments, etc.) that
FAVOR it.  But for its omissions, the work of M. Dunoyer would
have been the very philosophy of political economy.

After having raised the problem of liberty, political economy
furnishes us, then, with a definition conforming in every point
to that given by psychology and suggested by the analogies of
language: and thus we see how, little by little, the study of man
gets transported from the contemplation of the me to the
observation of realities.

Now, just as the determinations of man's reason have received the
name of IDEAS (abstract, supposed a priori ideas, or principles,
conceptions, categories; and secondary ideas, or those more
especially acquired and empirical), so the determinations of
liberty have received the name of VOLITIONS, sentiments, habits,
customs.  Then, language, figurative in its nature, continuing to
furnish the elements of primary psychology, the habit has been
formed of assigning to ideas, as the place or capacity where they
reside, the INTELLIGENCE, and to volitions, sentiments, etc.,
the CONSCIENCE.  All these abstractions have been long taken for
realities by the philosophers, not one of whom has seen that all
distribution of the faculties of the soul is necessarily a work
of caprice, and that their psychology is but an illusion.

However that may be, if we now conceive these two orders of
determinations, reason and liberty, as united and blended by
organization in a living, reasonable, and free PERSON, we shall
understand immediately that they must lend each other mutual
assistance and influence each other reciprocally.  If, through an
error or oversight of the reason, liberty, blind by nature,
acquires a false and fatal habit, the reason itself will not be
slow to feel the effects; instead of true ideas, conforming to
the natural relations of things, it will retain only prejudices,
as much more difficult to root out of the intelligence
afterwards, as they have become dearer to the conscience through
age.  In this state of things reason and liberty are impaired;
the first is disturbed in its development, the second restricted
in its scope, and man is led astray, becomes, that is, wicked and
unhappy at once.

Thus, when, in consequence of a contradictory perception and an
incomplete experience, reason had pronounced through the lips of
the economists that there was no regulating principle of value
and that the law of commerce was supply and demand, liberty
abandoned itself to the passion of ambition, egoism, and
gambling; commerce was thereafter but a wager subjected to
certain police regulations; misery developed from the sources of
wealth; socialism, itself a slave of routine, could only protest
against effects instead of rising against causes; and reason was
obliged, by the sight of so many evils, to recognize that it had
taken a wrong road.

Man can attain welfare only in proportion as his reason and his
liberty not only progress in harmony, but never halt in their
development.  Now, as the progress of liberty, like that of
reason, is indefinite, and as, moreover, these two powers are
closely connected and solidary, it must be concluded that
liberty is the more perfect the more closely it defines itself in
conformity with the laws of reason, which are those of things,
and that, if this reason were infinite, liberty itself would
become infinite.  In other words, the fullness of liberty lies in
the fullness of reason: summa lex summa libertas.

These preliminaries were indispensable in order to clearly
appreciate the role of machinery and to make plain the series of
economic evolutions.  And just here I will remind the reader that
we are not constructing a history in accordance with the order of
events, but in accordance with the succession of ideas.  The
economic phases or categories are now contemporary, now inverted,
in their manifestation; hence the extreme difficulty always felt
by the economists in systematizing their ideas; hence the chaos
of their works, even those most to be commended in every other
respect, such as Adam Smith's, Ricardo's, and J. B. Say's.  But
economic theories none the less have their logical succession and
their series in the mind: it is this order which we flatter
ourselves that we have discovered, and which will make this work
at once a philosophy and a history.

% 2.--Machinery's contradiction.--Origin of capital and wages.

From the very fact that machinery diminishes the workman's toil,
it abridges and diminishes labor, the supply of which thus grows
greater from day to day and the demand less.  Little by little,
it is true, the reduction in prices causing an increase in
consumption, the proportion is restored and the laborer set at
work again: but as industrial improvements steadily succeed each
other and continually tend to substitute mechanical operations
for the labor of man, it follows that there is a constant
tendency to cut off a portion of the service and consequently to
eliminate laborers from production.  Now, it is with the economic
order as with the spiritual order: outside of the church there is
no salvation; outside of labor there is no subsistence.  Society
and nature, equally pitiless, are in accord in the execution of
this new decree.

"When a new machine, or, in general, any process whatever that
expedites matters," says J. B. Say, "replaces any human labor
already employed, some of the industrious arms, whose services
are usefully supplanted, are left without work.  A new machine,
therefore, replaces the labor of a portion of the laborers, but
does not diminish the amount of production, for, if it did, it
would not be adopted; IT DISPLACES REVENUE.  But the ultimate
advantage is wholly on the side of machinery, for, if abundance
of product and lessening of cost lower the venal value, the
consumer--that is, everybody--will benefit thereby."

Say's optimism is infidelity to logic and to facts.  The question
here is not simply one of a small number of accidents which have
happened during thirty centuries through the introduction of one,
two, or three machines; it is a question of a regular, constant,
and general phenomenon.  After revenue has been DISPLACED as Say
says, by one machine, it is then displaced by another, and again
by another, and always by another, as long as any labor remains
to be done and any exchanges remain to be effected.  That is the
light in which the phenomenon must be presented and considered:
but thus, it must be admitted, its aspect changes singularly.
The displacement of revenue, the suppression of labor and wages,
is a chronic, permanent, indelible plague, a sort of cholera
which now appears wearing the features of Gutenberg, now
assumes those of Arkwright; here is called Jacquard, there James
Watt or Marquis de Jouffroy.  After carrying on its ravages for a
longer or shorter time under one form, the monster takes another,
and the economists, who think that he has gone, cry out:  "It was
nothing!"  Tranquil and satisfied, provided they insist with all
the weight of their dialectics on the positive side of the
question, they close their eyes to its subversive side,
notwithstanding which, when they are spoken to of poverty, they
again begin their sermons upon the improvidence and drunkenness
of laborers.

In 1750,--M. Dunoyer makes the observation, and it may serve as a
measure of all lucubrations of the same sort,--"in 1750 the
population of the duchy of Lancaster was 300,000 souls.  In 1801,
thanks to the development of spinning machines, this population
was 672,000 souls.  In 1831 it was 1,336,000 souls.  Instead of
the 40,000 workmen whom the cotton industry formerly employed, it
now employs, since the invention of machinery, 1,500,000."

M. Dunoyer adds that at the time when the number of workmen
employed in this industry increased in so remarkable a manner,
the price of labor rose one hundred and fifty per cent.
Population, then, having simply followed industrial progress, its
increase has been a normal and irreproachable fact,--what do I
say?--a happy fact, since it is cited to the honor and glory of
the development of machinery.  But suddenly M. Dunoyer executes
an about-face: this multitude of spinning-machines soon being out
of work, wages necessarily declined; the population which the
machines had called forth found itself abandoned by the machines,
at which M. Dunoyer declares:  Abuse of marriage is the cause of

English commerce, in obedience to the demand of the immense body
of its patrons, summons workmen from all directions, and
encourages marriage; as long as labor is abundant, marriage is an
excellent thing, the effects of which they are fond of quoting in
the interest of machinery; but, the patronage fluctuating, as
soon as work and wages are not to be had, they denounce the abuse
of marriage, and accuse laborers of improvidence.  Political
economy--that is, proprietary despotism--can never be in the
wrong: it must be the proletariat.

The example of printing has been cited many a time, always to
sustain the optimistic view.  The number of persons supported
today by the manufacture of books is perhaps a thousand times
larger than was that of the copyists and illuminators prior to
Gutenberg's time; therefore, they conclude with a satisfied air,
printing has injured nobody.  An infinite number of similar facts
might be cited, all of them indisputable, but not one of which
would advance the question a step.  Once more, no one denies that
machines have contributed to the general welfare; but I affirm,
in regard to this incontestable fact, that the economists fall
short of the truth when they advance the absolute statement that
WHATEVER.  What the economists ought to say is that machinery,
like the division of labor, in the present system of social
economy is at once a source of wealth and a permanent and fatal
cause of misery.

In 1836, in a Manchester mill, nine frames, each having three
hundred and twenty-four spindles, were tended by four spinners.
Afterwards the mules were doubled in length, which gave each of
the nine six hundred and eighty spindles and enabled two men to
tend them.

There we have the naked fact of the elimination of the workman by
the machine.  By a simple device three workmen out of four are
evicted; what matters it that fifty years later, the population
of the globe having doubled and the trade of England having
quadrupled, new machines will be constructed and the English
manufacturers will reemploy their workmen?  Do the economists
mean to point to the increase of population as one of the
benefits of machinery?  Let them renounce, then, the theory of
Malthus, and stop declaiming against the excessive fecundity
of marriage.

They did not stop there: soon a new mechanical improvement
enabled a single worker to do the work that formerly occupied

A new three-fourths reduction of manual work: in all, a reduction
of human labor by fifteen-sixteenths.

A Bolton manufacturer writes:  "The elongation of the mules of
our frames permits us to employ but twenty-six spinners where we
employed thirty-five in 1837."

Another decimation of laborers: one out of four is a victim.

These facts are taken from the "Revue Economique" of 1842; and
there is nobody who cannot point to similar ones.  I have
witnessed the introduction of printing machines, and I can say
that I have seen with my own eyes the evil which printers have
suffered thereby.  During the fifteen or twenty years that the
machines have been in use a portion of the workmen have gone back
to composition, others have abandoned their trade, and some have
died of misery: thus laborers are continually crowded back in
consequence of industrial innovations.  Twenty years ago eighty
canal-boats furnished the navigation service between Beaucaire
and Lyons; a score of steam-packets has displaced them all.
Certainly commerce is the gainer; but what has become of the
boating-population?  Has it been transferred from the boats to
the packets?  No: it has gone where all superseded industries
go,--it has vanished.

For the rest, the following documents, which I take from the same
source, will give a more positive idea of the influence of
industrial improvements upon the condition of the workers.

The average weekly wages, at Manchester, is ten shillings.  Out
of four hundred and fifty workers there are not forty who earn
twenty shillings.

The author of the article is careful to remark that an Englishman
consumes five times as much as a Frenchman; this, then, is as if
a French workingman had to live on two francs and a half a week.

"Edinburgh Review," 1835:  "To a combination of workmen (who did
not want to see their wages reduced) we owe the mule of Sharpe
and Roberts of Manchester; and this invention has severely
punished the imprudent unionists."

PUNISHED should merit punishment.  The invention of Sharpe and
Roberts of Manchester was bound to result from the situation; the
refusal of the workmen to submit to the reduction asked of them
was only its determining occasion.  Might not one infer, from the
air of vengeance affected by the "Edinburgh Review," that
machines have a retroactive effect?

An English manufacturer:  "The insubordination of our workmen has
given us the idea of DISPENSING WITH THEM.  We have made and
stimulated every imaginable effort of the mind to replace the
service of men by tools more docile, and we have achieved our
object.  Machinery has delivered capital from the oppression of
labor.  Wherever we still employ a man, we do so only
temporarily, pending the invention for us of some means of
accomplishing his work without him."

What a system is that which leads a business man to think with
delight that society will soon be able to dispense with men!
That is exactly as if the cabinet should undertake to deliver the
treasury from the oppression of the taxpayers.  Fool! though the
workmen cost you something, they are your customers: what will
you do with your products, when, driven away by you, they shall
consume them no longer?  Thus machinery, after crushing the
workmen, is not slow in dealing employers a counter-blow; for, if
production excludes consumption, it is soon obliged to stop

During the fourth quarter of 1841 four great failures, happening
in an English manufacturing city, threw seventeen hundred and
twenty people on the street.

These failures were caused by over-production,--that is, by an
inadequate market, or the distress of the people.  What a pity
that machinery cannot also deliver capital from the oppression of
consumers!  What a misfortune that machines do not buy the
fabrics which they weave!  The ideal society will be reached when
commerce, agriculture, and manufactures can proceed without a man
upon earth!

In a Yorkshire parish for nine months the operatives have been
working but two days a week.


At Geston two factories valued at sixty thousand pounds sterling
have been sold for twenty-six thousand.  They produced more than
they could sell.


In 1841 the number of children UNDER thirteen years of age
engaged in manufactures diminishes, because children OVER
thirteen take their place.

Machines!  The adult workman becomes an apprentice, a child,
again: this result was foreseen from the phase of the division of
labor, during which we saw the quality of the workman degenerate
in the ratio in which industry was perfected.

In his conclusion the journalist makes this reflection:  "Since
1836 there has been a retrograde movement in the cotton
industry";--that is, it no longer keeps up its relation with
other industries: another result foreseen from the theory of the
proportionality of values.

Today workmen's coalitions and strikes seem to have stopped
throughout England, and the economists rightly rejoice over this
return to order,-- let us say even to common sense.  But because
laborers henceforth--at least I cherish the hope--will not add
the misery of their voluntary periods of idleness to the misery
which machines force upon them, does it follow that the situation
is changed?  And if there is no change in the situation, will not
the future always be a deplorable copy of the past?

The economists love to rest their minds on pictures of public
felicity: it is by this sign principally that they are to be
recognized, and that they estimate each other.  Nevertheless
there are not lacking among them, on the other hand, moody and
sickly imaginations, ever ready to offset accounts of growing
prosperity with proofs of persistent poverty.

M. Theodore Fix thus summed up the general situation in December,

The food supply of nations is no longer exposed to those terrible
disturbances caused by scarcities and famines, so frequent up to
the beginning of the nineteenth century.  The variety of
agricultural growths and improvements has abolished this double
scourge almost absolutely.  The total wheat crop in France in
1791 was estimated at about 133,000,000 bushels, which gave,
after deducting seed, 2.855 bushels to each inhabitant.  In 1840
the same crop was estimated at 198,590,000 bushels, or 2.860
bushels to each individual, the area of cultivated surface being
almost the same as before the Revolution. . . .  The rate of
increase of manufactured goods has been at least as high as
that of food products; and we are justified in saying that the
mass of textile fabrics has more than doubled and perhaps tripled
within fifty years.  The perfecting of technical processes has
led to this result. . . .

Since the beginning of the century the average duration of life
has increased by two or three years,--an undeniable sign of
greater comfort, or, if you will, a diminution of poverty.

Within twenty years the amount of indirect revenue, without any
burdensome change in legislation, has risen from $40,000,000
francs to 720,000,000,--a symptom of economic, much more than of
fiscal, progress.

On January 1, 1844, the deposit and consignment office owed the
savings banks 351,500,000 francs, and Paris figured in this sum
for 105,000,000.  Nevertheless the development of the institution
has taken place almost wholly within twelve years, and it should
be noticed that the 351,500,000 francs now due to the savings
banks do not constitute the entire mass of economies effected,
since at a given time the capital accumulated is disposed of
otherwise. . . .  In 1843, out of 320,000 workmen and 80,000
house-servants living in the capital, 90,000 workmen have
deposited in the savings banks 2,547,000 francs, and 34,000
house-servants 1,268,000 francs.

All these facts are entirely true, and the inference to be drawn
from them in favor of machines is of the exactest,--namely, that
they have indeed given a powerful impetus to the general welfare.

But the facts with which we shall supplement them are no less
authentic, and the inference to be drawn from these against
machines will be no less accurate,--to wit, that they are a
continual cause of pauperism.  I appeal to the figures of M. Fix

Out of 320,000 workmen and 80,000 house-servants residing in
Paris, there are 230,000 of the former and 46,000 of the
latter--a total of 276,000--who do not deposit in the savings
banks.  No one would dare pretend that these are 276,000
spendthrifts and ne'er-do-weels who expose themselves to misery
voluntarily.  Now, as among the very ones who make the savings
there are to be found poor and inferior persons for whom the
savings bank is but a respite from debauchery and misery, we may
conclude that, out of all the individuals living by their labor,
nearly three-fourths either are imprudent, lazy, and depraved,
since they do not deposit in the savings banks, or are too poor
to lay up anything.  There is no other alternative.  But common
sense, to say nothing of charity, permits no wholesale accusation
of the laboring class: it is necessary, therefore, to throw the
blame back upon our economic system.  How is it that M. Fix did
not see that his figures accused themselves?

They hope that, in time, all, or almost all, laborers will
deposit in the savings banks.  Without awaiting the testimony of
the future, we may test the foundations of this hope immediately.

According to the testimony of M. Vee, mayor of the fifth
arrondissement of Paris, "the number of needy families inscribed
upon the registers of the charity bureaus is 30,000,-- which is
equivalent to 65,000 individuals."  The census taken at the
beginning of 1846 gave 88,474.  And poor families not
inscribed,--how many are there of those?  As many.  Say, then,
180,000 people whose poverty is not doubtful, although not
official.  And all those who live in straitened circumstances,
though keeping up the appearance of comfort,--how many are there
of those?  Twice as many,--a total of 360,000 persons, in Paris,
who are somewhat embarrassed for means.

"They talk of wheat," cries another economist, M. Louis Leclerc,
"but are there not immense populations which go without bread?
Without leaving our own country, are there not populations which
live exclusively on maize, buckwheat, chestnuts?"

M. Leclerc denounces the fact: let us interpret it.  If, as there
is no doubt, the increase of population is felt principally
in the large cities,--that is, at those points where the most
wheat is consumed,--it is clear that the average per head may
have increased without any improvement in the general condition.
There is no such liar as an average.

"They talk," continues the same writer, "of the increase of
indirect consumption.  Vain would be the attempt to acquit
Parisian adulteration: it exists; it has its masters, its adepts,
its literature, its didactic and classic treatises. . . .  France
possessed exquisite wines; what has been done with them?  What
has become of this splendid wealth?  Where are the treasures
created since Probus by the national genius?  And yet, when one
considers the excesses to which wine gives rise wherever it is
dear, wherever it does not form a part of the regular life of the
people; when in Paris, capital of the kingdom of good wines, one
sees the people gorging themselves with I know not what,--stuff
that is adulterated, sophisticated, sickening, and sometimes
execrable,--and well-to-do persons drinking at home or accepting
without a word, in famous restaurants, so-called wines, thick,
violet-colored, and insipid, flat, and miserable enough to make
the poorest Burgundian peasant shudder,--can one honestly doubt
that alcoholic liquids are one of the most imperative needs of
our nature?

I quote this passage at length, because it sums up in relation to
a special case all that could be said upon the INCONVENIENCES of
machinery.  To the people it is with wine as with fabrics, and
generally with all goods and merchandise created for the
consumption of the poor.  It is always the same deduction: to
reduce by some process or other the cost of manufacture, in
order, first, to maintain advantageously competition with more
fortunate or richer rivals; second, to serve the vast numbers of
plundered persons who cannot disregard price simply because the
quality is good.  Produced in the ordinary ways, wine is too
expensive for the mass of consumers; it is in danger of remaining
in the cellars of the retailers.  The manufacturer of wines gets
around the difficulty: unable to introduce machinery into the
cultivation of the vine, he finds a means, with the aid of
some accompaniments, of placing the precious liquid within the
reach of all.  Certain savages, in their periods of scarcity, eat
earth; the civilized workman drinks water.  Malthus was a great

As far as the increase of the average duration of life is
concerned, I recognize the fact, but at the same time I declare
the observation incorrect.  Let us explain that.  Suppose a
population of ten million souls: if, from whatever cause you
will, the average life should increase five years for a million
individuals, mortality continuing its ravages at the same rate as
before among the nine other millions, it would be found, on
distributing this increase among the whole, that on an average
six months had been added to the life of each individual.  It is
with the average length of life, the so-called indicator of
average comfort, as with average learning: the level of knowledge
does not cease to rise, which by no means alters the fact that
there are today in France quite as many barbarians as in the days
of Francois I.  The charlatans who had railroad speculation in
view made a great noise about the importance of the locomotive in
the circulation of ideas; and the economists, always on the
lookout for civilized stupidities, have not failed to echo this
nonsense.  As if ideas, in order to spread, needed locomotives!
What, then, prevents ideas from circulating from the Institute to
the Faubourgs Saint-Antoine and Saint-Marceau, in the narrow and
wretched streets of Old Paris and the Temple Quarter, everywhere,
in short, where dwells this multitude even more destitute of
ideas than of bread?  How happens it that between a Parisian and
a Parisian, in spite of the omnibus and the letter-carrier, the
distance is three times greater today than in the fourteenth

The ruinous influence of machinery on social economy and the
condition of the laborers is exercised in a thousand ways, all of
which are bound together and reciprocally labelled: cessation of
labor, reduction of wages, over-production, obstruction of the
market, alteration and adulteration of products, failures,
displacement of laborers, degeneration of the race, and, finally,
diseases and death.

M. Theodore Fix has remarked himself that in the last fifty years
the average stature of man, in France, has diminished by a
considerable fraction of an inch.  This observation is worth his
previous one: upon whom does this diminution take effect?

In a report read to the Academy of Moral Sciences on the results
of the law of March 22, 1841, M. Leon Faucher expressed himself

Young workmen are pale, weak, short in stature, and slow to think
as well as to move.  At fourteen or fifteen years they seem no
more developed than children of nine or ten years in the normal
state.  As for their intellectual and moral development, there
are some to be found who, at the age of thirteen, have no notion
of God, who have never heard of their duties, and whose first
school of morality was a prison.

That is what M. Leon Faucher has seen, to the great displeasure
of M. Charles Dupin, and this state of things he declares that
the law of March 22 is powerless to remedy.  And let us not get
angry over this impotence of the legislator: the evil arises from
a cause as necessary for us as the sun; and in the path upon
which we have entered, anger of any kind, like palliatives of any
kind, could only make our situation worse.  Yes, while science
and industry are making such marvellous progress, it is a
necessity, unless civilization's centre of gravity should
suddenly change, that the intelligence and comfort of the
proletariat be diminished; while the lives of the well-to-do
classes grow longer and easier, it is inevitable that those of
the needy should grow harder and shorter.  This is established in
the writings of the best--I mean, the most optimistic--thinkers.

According to M. de Morogues, 7,500,000 men in France have only
ninety- one francs a year to spend, 25 centimes a day.  Cinq
sous! cinq sous! (Five cents! five cents!).  There is something
prophetic, then, in this odious refrain.

In England (not including Scotland and Ireland) the poor-rate

1801.--L4,078,891 for a population of. . . . .8,872,980
1818.--L7,870,801  "  "      "      " . . . .11,978,875
1833.--L8,000,000  "  "      "      " . . . .14,000,000

The progress of poverty, then, has been more rapid than that of
population; in face of this fact, what becomes of the hypotheses
of Malthus?  And yet it is indisputable that during the same
period the average comfort increased: what, then, do statistics

The death-rate for the first arrondissement of Paris is one to
every fifty-two inhabitants, and for the twelfth one to every
twenty-six.  Now, the latter contains one needy person to every
seven inhabitants, while the former has only one to every
twenty-eight.  That does not prevent the average duration of
life, even in Paris, from increasing, as M. Fix has very
correctly observed.

At Mulhouse the probabilities of average life are twenty-nine
years for children of the well-to-do class and TWO years for
those of the workers; in 1812 the average life in the same
locality was twenty-five years, nine months, and twelve days,
while in 1827 it was not over twenty-one years and nine months.
And yet throughout France the average life is longer.  What does
this mean?

M. Blanqui, unable to explain so much prosperity and so much
poverty at once, cries somewhere:  "Increased production does not
mean additional wealth. . . .  Poverty, on the contrary, becomes
the wider spread in proportion to the concentration of
industries.  There must be some radical vice in a system which
guarantees no security either to capital or labor, and which
seems to multiply the embarrassments of producers at the same
time that it forces them to multiply their products."

There is no radical vice here.  What astonishes M. Blanqui is
simply that of which the Academy to which he belongs has asked a
determination,--namely, the oscillations of the economic
pendulum, VALUE, beating alternately and in regular time good and
evil, until the hour of the universal equation shall strike.  If
I may be permitted another comparison, humanity in its march is
like a column of soldiers, who, starting in the same step and at
the same moment to the measured beating of the drum, gradually
lose their distances.  The whole body advances, but the distance
from head to tail grows ever longer; and it is a necessary effect
of the movement that there should be some laggards and

But it is necessary to penetrate still farther into the antinomy.

Machines promised us an increase of wealth; they have kept their
word, but at the same time endowing us with an increase of
poverty.  They promised us liberty; I am going to prove that they
have brought us slavery.

I have stated that the determination of value, and with it the
tribulations of society, began with the division of industries,
without which there could be no exchange, or wealth, or progress.

The period through which we are now passing--that of
machinery--is distinguished by a special characteristic,--WAGES.

Wages issued in a direct line from the employment of
machinery,--that is, to give my thought the entire generality of
expression which it calls for, from the economic fiction by which
capital becomes an agent of production.  Wages, in short, coming
after the division of labor and exchange, is the necessary
correlative of the theory of the reduction of costs, in whatever
way this reduction may be accomplished.  This genealogy is too
interesting to be passed by without a few words of explanation.

The first, the simplest, the most powerful of machines is the

Division simply separates the various parts of labor, leaving
each to devote himself to the specialty best suited to his
tastes: the workshop groups the laborers according to the
relation of each part to the whole.  It is the most elementary
form of the balance of values, undiscoverable though the
economists suppose this to be.  Now, through the workshop,
production is going to increase, and at the same time the

Somebody discovered that, by dividing production into its various
parts and causing each to be executed by a separate workman, he
would obtain a multiplication of power, the product of which
would be far superior to the amount of labor given by the same
number of workmen when labor is not divided.

Grasping the thread of this idea, he said to himself that, by
forming a permanent group of laborers assorted with a view to his
special purpose, he would produce more steadily, more abundantly,
and at less cost.  It is not indispensable, however, that the
workmen should be gathered into one place: the existence of the
workshop does not depend essentially upon such contact.  It
results from the relation and proportion of the different tasks
and from the common thought directing them.  In a word,
concentration at one point may offer its advantages, which are
not to be neglected; but that is not what constitutes the

This, then, is the proposition which the speculator makes to
those whose collaboration he desires: I guarantee you a perpetual
market for your products, if you will accept me as purchaser or
middle-man.  The bargain is so clearly advantageous that the
proposition cannot fail of acceptance.  The laborer finds in it
steady work, a fixed price, and security; the employer, on the
other hand, will find a readier sale for his goods, since,
producing more advantageously, he can lower the price; in short,
his profits will be larger because of the mass of his
investments.  All, even to the public and the magistrate, will
congratulate the employer on having added to the social wealth by
his combinations, and will vote him a reward.

But, in the first place, whoever says reduction of expenses says
reduction of services, not, it is true, in the new shop, but for
the workers at the same trade who are left outside, as well as
for many others whose accessory services will be less needed in
future.  Therefore every establishment of a workshop corresponds
to an eviction of workers: this assertion, utterly contradictory
though it may appear, is as true of the workshop as of a machine.

The economists admit it: but here they repeat their eternal
refrain that, after a lapse of time, the demand for the product
having increased in proportion to the reduction of price, labor
in turn will come finally to be in greater demand than ever.
Undoubtedly, WITH TIME, the equilibrium will be restored; but, I
must add again, the equilibrium will be no sooner restored at
this point than it will be disturbed at another, because the
spirit of invention never stops, any more than labor.  Now, what
theory could justify these perpetual hecatombs?"  When we have
reduced the number of toilers," wrote Sismondi, "to a fourth or a
fifth of what it is at present, we shall need only a fourth or a
fifth as many priests, physicians, etc.  When we have cut them
off altogether, we shall be in a position to dispense with the
human race."  And that is what really would happen if, in order
to put the labor of each machine in proportion to the needs of
consumption,--that is, to restore the balance of values
continually destroyed,--it were not necessary to continually
create new machines, open other markets, and consequently
multiply services and displace other arms.  So that on the one
hand industry and wealth, on the other population and misery,
advance, so to speak, in procession, one always dragging the
other after it.

I have shown the contractor, at the birth of industry,
negotiating on equal terms with his comrades, who have since
become HIS WORKMEN.  It is plain, in fact, that this original
equality was bound to disappear through the advantageous position
of the master and the dependence of the wage-workers.  In vain
does the law assure to each the right of enterprise, as well as
the faculty to labor alone and sell one's products directly.
According to the hypothesis, this last resource is impracticable,
since it was the object of the workshop to annihilate isolated
labor.  And as for the right to take the plough, as they say, and
go at speed, it is the same in manufactures as in agriculture; to
know how to work is nothing, it is necessary to arrive at the
right time; the shop, as well as the land, is to the first comer.

When an establishment has had the leisure to develop itself,
enlarge its foundations, ballast itself with capital, and assure
itself a body of patrons, what can the workman who has only
his arms do against a power so superior?  Hence it was not by an
arbitrary act of sovereign power or by fortuitous and brutal
usurpation that the guilds and masterships were established in
the Middle Ages: the force of events had created them long before
the edicts of kings could have given them legal consecration;
and, in spite of the reform of '89, we see them reestablishing
themselves under our eyes with an energy a hundred times more
formidable.  Abandon labor to its own tendencies, and the
subjection of three-fourths of the human race is assured.

But this is not all.  The machine, or the workshop, after having
degraded the laborer by giving him a master, completes his
degeneracy by reducing him from the rank of artisan to that of
common workman.

Formerly the population on the banks of the Saone and Rhone was
largely made up of watermen, thoroughly fitted for the conduct of
canal-boats or row-boats.  Now that the steam-tug is to be found
almost everywhere, most of the boatmen, finding it impossible to
get a living at their trade, either pass three-fourths of their
life in idleness, or else become stokers.

If not misery, then degradation: such is the last alternative
which machinery offers to the workman.  For it is with a machine
as with a piece of artillery: the captain excepted, those whom it
occupies are servants, slaves.

Since the establishment of large factories, a multitude of little
industries have disappeared from the domestic hearth: does any
one believe that the girls who work for ten and fifteen cents
have as much intelligence as their ancestors?

"After the establishment of the railway from Paris to Saint
Germain," M. Dunoyer tells us, "there were established between
Pecq and a multitude of places in the more or less immediate
vicinity such a number of omnibus and stage lines that this
establishment, contrary to all expectation, has considerably
increased the employment of horses."

CONTRARY TO ALL EXPECTATION!  It takes an economist not to
expect these things.  Multiply machinery, and you increase the
amount of arduous and disagreeable labor to be done: this
apothegm is as certain as any of those which date from the
deluge.  Accuse me, if you choose, of ill-will towards the most
precious invention of our century,--nothing shall prevent me from
saying that the principal result of railways, after the
subjection of petty industry, will be the creation of a
population of degraded laborers,--signalmen, sweepers, loaders,
lumpers, draymen, watchmen, porters, weighers, greasers,
cleaners, stokers, firemen, etc.  Two thousand miles of railway
will give France an additional fifty thousand serfs: it is not
for such people, certainly, that M. Chevalier asks professional

Perhaps it will be said that, the mass of transportation having
increased in much greater proportion than the number of
day-laborers, the difference is to the advantage of the railway,
and that, all things considered, there is progress.  The
observation may even be generalized and the same argument applied
to all industries.

But it is precisely out of this generality of the phenomenon that
springs the subjection of laborers.  Machinery plays the leading
role in industry, man is secondary: all the genius displayed by
labor tends to the degradation of the proletariat.  What a
glorious nation will be ours when, among forty millions of
inhabitants, it shall count thirty-five millions of drudges,
paper-scratchers, and flunkies!

With machinery and the workshop, divine right--that is, the
principle of authority--makes its entrance into political
economy.  Capital, Mastership, Privilege, Monopoly, Loaning,
Credit, Property, etc.,--such are, in economic language, the
various names of I know not what, but which is otherwise called
Power, Authority, Sovereignty, Written Law, Revelation, Religion,
God in short, cause and principle of all our miseries and all our
crimes, and who, the more we try to define him, the more eludes

Is it, then, impossible that, in the present condition of
society, the workshop with its hierarchical organization, and
machinery, instead of serving exclusively the interests of the
least numerous, the least industrious, and the wealthiest class,
should be employed for the benefit of all?

That is what we are going to examine.

% 3.--Of preservatives against the disastrous influence of

Reduction of manual labor is synonymous with lowering of price,
and, consequently, with increase of exchange, since, if the
consumer pays less, he will buy more.

But reduction of manual labor is synonymous also with restriction
of market, since, if the producer earns less, he will buy less.
And this is the course that things actually take.  The
concentration of forces in the workshop and the intervention of
capital in production, under the name of machinery, engender at
the same time overproduction and destitution; and everybody has
witnessed these two scourges, more to be feared than incendiarism
and plague, develop in our day on the vastest scale and with
devouring intensity.  Nevertheless it is impossible for us to
retreat: it is necessary to produce, produce always, produce
cheaply; otherwise, the existence of society is compromised.  The
laborer, who, to escape the degradation with which the principle
of division threatened him, had created so many marvellous
machines, now finds himself either prohibited or subjugated by
his own works.  Against this alternative what means are proposed?

M. de Sismondi, like all men of patriarchal ideas, would like the
division of labor, with machinery and manufactures, to be
abandoned, and each family to return to the system of primitive
indivision,--that is, to EACH ONE BY HIMSELF, EACH ONE FOR
HIMSELF, in the most literal meaning of the words.  That would be
to retrograde; it is impossible.

M. Blanqui returns to the charge with his plan of participation
by the workman, and of consolidation of all industries in a
joint-stock company for the benefit of the collective laborer.  I
have shown that this plan would impair public welfare without
appreciably improving the condition of the laborers; and M.
Blanqui himself seems to share this sentiment.  How reconcile, in
fact, this participation of the workman in the profits with the
rights of inventors, contractors, and capitalists, of whom the
first have to reimburse themselves for large outlays, as well as
for their long and patient efforts; the second continually
endanger the wealth they have acquired, and take upon themselves
alone the chances of their enterprises, which are often very
hazardous; and the third could sustain no reduction of their
dividends without in some way losing their savings?  How
harmonize, in a word, the equality desirable to establish between
laborers and employers with the preponderance which cannot be
taken from heads of establishments, from loaners of capital, and
from inventors, and which involves so clearly their exclusive
appropriation of the profits?  To decree by a law the admission
of all workmen to a share of the profits would be to pronounce
the dissolution of society: all the economists have seen
this so clearly that they have finally changed into an
exhortation to employers what had first occurred to them as a
project.  Now, as long as the wage-worker gets no profit save
what may be allowed him by the contractor, it is perfectly safe
to assume that eternal poverty will be his lot: it is not in the
power of the holders of labor to make it otherwise.

For the rest, the idea, otherwise very laudable, of associating
workmen with employers tends to this communistic conclusion,
evidently false in its premises: The last word of machinery is to
make man rich and happy without the necessity of labor on his
part.  Since, then, natural agencies must do everything for us,
machinery ought to belong to the State, and the goal of progress
is communism.

I shall examine the communistic theory in its place.

But I believe that I ought to immediately warn the partisans of
this utopia that the hope with which they flatter themselves in
relation to machinery is only an illusion of the economists,
something like perpetual motion, which is always sought and never
found, because asked of a power which cannot give it.  Machines
do not go all alone: to keep them in motion it is necessary to
organize an immense service around them; so that in the end, man
creating for himself an amount of work proportional to the number
of instruments with which he surrounds himself, the principal
consideration in the matter of machinery is much less to divide
its products than to see that it is fed,--that is, to continually
renew the motive power.  Now, this motive power is not air,
water, steam, electricity; it is labor,--that is, the market.

A railroad suppresses all along its line conveyances, stages,
harness- makers, saddlers, wheelwrights, inn-keepers:  I take
facts as they are just after the establishment of the road.
Suppose the State, as a measure of preservation or in obedience
to the principle of indemnity, should make the laborers displaced
by the railroad its proprietors or operators: the transportation
rates, let us suppose, being reduced by twenty-five per cent.
(otherwise of what use is the railroad?), the income of all these
laborers united will be diminished by a like amount,--which is to
say that a fourth of the persons formerly living by conveyances
will find themselves literally without resources, in spite of the
munificence of the State.  To meet their deficit they have but
one hope,--that the mass of transportation effected over the line
may be increased by twenty-five per cent., or else that they may
find employment in other lines of industry,--which seems at first
impossible, since, by the hypothesis and in fact, places are
everywhere filled, proportion is maintained everywhere, and the
supply is sufficient for the demand.

Moreover it is very necessary, if it be desired to increase the
mass of transportation, that a fresh impetus be given to labor in
other industries.  Now, admitting that the laborers displaced by
this over- production find employment, and that their
distribution among the various kinds of labor proves as easy in
practice as in theory, the difficulty is still far from settled.
For the number of those engaged in circulation being to the
number of those engaged in production as one hundred to one
thousand, in order to obtain, with a circulation one- fourth less
expensive,--in other words, one-fourth more powerful,--the same
revenue as before, it will be necessary to strengthen production
also by one-fourth,--that is, to add to the agricultural and
industrial army, not twenty-five,--the figure which indicates the
proportionality of the carrying industry,--but two hundred and
fifty.  But, to arrive at this result, it will be necessary
to create machines,--what is worse, to create men: which
continually brings the question back to the same point.  Thus
contradiction upon contradiction: now not only is labor, in
consequence of machinery, lacking to men, but also men, in
consequence of their numerical weakness and the insufficiency of
their consumption, are lacking to machinery: so that, pending the
establishment of equilibrium, there is at once a lack of work and
a lack of arms, a lack of products and a lack of markets.  And
what we say of the railroad is true of all industries: always the
man and the machine pursue each other, the former never attaining
rest, the latter never attaining satisfaction.

Whatever the pace of mechanical progress; though machines should
be invented a hundred times more marvellous than the mule-jenny,
the knitting-machine, or the cylinder press; though forces should
be discovered a hundred times more powerful than steam,--very far
from freeing humanity, securing its leisure, and making the
production of everything gratuitous, these things would have no
other effect than to multiply labor, induce an increase of
population, make the chains of serfdom heavier, render life more
and more expensive, and deepen the abyss which separates the
class that commands and enjoys from the class that obeys and

Suppose now all these difficulties overcome; suppose the laborers
made available by the railroad adequate to the increase of
service demanded for the support of the locomotive,--compensation
being effected without pain, nobody will suffer; on the contrary,
the well-being of each will be increased by a fraction of the
profit realized by the substitution of the railway for the
stage-coach.  What then, I shall be asked, prevents these things
from taking place with such regularity and precision?  And what
is easier than for an intelligent government to so manage all
industrial transitions?

I have pushed the hypothesis as far as it could go in order to
show, on the one hand, the end to which humanity is tending, and,
on the other, the difficulties which it must overcome in order to
attain it.  Surely the providential order is that progress should
be effected, in so far as machinery is concerned, in the way that
I have just spoken of: but what embarrasses society's march and
makes it go from Charybdis to Scylla is precisely the fact that
it is not organized.  We have reached as yet only the second
phase of its evolution, and already we have met upon our road two
chasms which seem insuperable,--division of labor and machinery.
How save the parcellaire workman, if he is a man of intelligence,
from degradation, or, if he is degraded already, lift him to
intellectual life?  How, in the second place, give birth among
laborers to that solidarity of interest without which industrial
progress counts its steps by its catastrophes, when these same
laborers are radically divided by labor, wages, intelligence, and
liberty,--that is, by egoism?  How, in short, reconcile what the
progress already accomplished has had the effect of rendering
irreconcilable?  To appeal to communism and fraternity would be
to anticipate dates: there is nothing in common, there can exist
no fraternity, between such creatures as the division of labor
and the service of machinery have made.  It is not in that
direction--at least for the present--that we must seek a

Well! it will be said, since the evil lies still more in the
minds than in the system, let us come back to instruction, let us
labor for the education of the people.

In order that instruction may be useful, in order that it may
even be received, it is necessary, first of all, that the pupil
should be free, just as, before planting a piece of ground, we
clear it of thorns and dog-grass.  Moreover, the best system
of education, even so far as philosophy and morality are
concerned, would be that of professional education: once more,
how reconcile such education with parcellaire division and the
service of machinery?  How shall the man who, by the effect of
his labor, has become a slave,--that is, a chattel, a thing,--
again become a person by the same labor, or in continuing the
same exercise?  Why is it not seen that these ideas are mutually
repellent, and that, if, by some impossibility, the proletaire
could reach a certain degree of intelligence, he would make use
of it in the first place to revolutionize society and change all
civil and industrial relations?  And what I say is no vain
exaggeration.  The working class, in Paris and the large cities,
is vastly superior in point of ideas to what it was twenty-five
years ago; now, let them tell me if this class is not decidedly,
energetically revolutionary!  And it will become more and more so
in proportion as it shall acquire the ideas of justice and order,
in proportion especially as it shall reach an understanding of
the mechanism of property.

Language,--I ask permission to recur once more to
etymology,--language seems to me to have clearly expressed the
moral condition of the laborer, after he has been, if I may so
speak, depersonalized by industry.  In the Latin the idea of
servitude implies that of subordination of man to things; and
when later feudal law declared the serf ATTACHED TO THE GLEBE, it
only periphrased the literal meaning of the word servus.[16]
Spontaneous reason, oracle of fate itself, had therefore
condemned the subaltern workman, before science had established
his debasement.  Such being the case, what can the efforts of
philanthropy do for beings whom Providence has rejected?

[16] In spite of the most approved authorities, I cannot accept
the idea that serf, in Latin servus, was so called from servare,
to keep, because the slave was a prisoner of war who was kept for
labor.  Servitude, or at least domesticity, is certainly prior to
war, although war may have noticeably strengthened it.  Why,
moreover, if such was the origin of the idea as well as of the
thing, should they not have said, instead of serv-us, serv-atus,
in conformity with grammatical deduction?  To me the real
etymology is revealed in the opposition of serv-are and serv-ire,
the primitive theme of which is ser-o, in-sero, to join, to
press,whence ser-ies, joint, continuity, ser-a, lock, sertir,
insert, etc.  All these words imply the idea of a principal
thing, to which is joined an accessory, as an object of special
usefulness.  Thence serv-ire, to be an object of usefulness, a
thing secondary to another; serv-are, as we say to press, to put
aside, to assign a thing its utility; serv-us, a man at hand, a
utility, a chattel, in short, a man of service.  The opposite of
servus is dom-inus (dom-us, dom-anium, and dom-are); that is, the
head of the household, the master of the house, he who utilizes
men, servat, animals, domat, and things, possidet.  That
consequently prisoners of war should have been reserved for
slavery, servati ad servitium, or rather serti ad glebam, is
perfectly conceivable; their destiny being known, they have
simply taken their name from it.

Labor is the education of our liberty.  The ancients had a
profound perception of this truth when they distinguished the
servile arts from the liberal arts.  For, like profession, like
ideas; like ideas, like morals.  Everything in slavery takes on
the character of degradation,-- habits, tastes, inclinations,
sentiments, pleasures: it involves universal subversion.  Occupy
one's self with the education of the poor!  But that would create
the most cruel antagonism in these degenerate souls; that would
inspire them with ideas which labor would render intolerable to
them, affections incompatible with the brutishness of their
condition, pleasures of which the perception is dulled in them.
If such a project could succeed, instead of making a man of the
laborer, it would make a demon of him.  Just study those faces
which people the prisons and the galleys, and tell me if most of
them do not belong to subjects whom the revelation of the
beautiful, of elegance, of wealth, of comfort, of honor, and of
science, of all that makes the dignity of man, has found too
weak, and so has demoralized and killed.

At least wages should be fixed, say the less audacious; schedules
of rates should be prepared in all industries, to be accepted by
employers and workmen.

This hypothesis of salvation is cited by M. Fix.  And he answers

Such schedules have been made in England and elsewhere; their
value is known; everywhere they have been violated as soon as
accepted, both by employers and by workmen.

The causes of the violation of the schedules are easy to fathom:
they are to be found in machinery, in the incessant processes and
combinations of industry.  A schedule is agreed upon at a given
moment: but suddenly there comes a new invention which gives its
author the power to lower the price of merchandise.  What will
the other employers do?  They will cease to manufacture and will
discharge their workmen, or else they will propose to them a
reduction.  It is the only course open to them, pending a
discovery by them in turn of some process by means of which,
without lowering the rate of wages, they will be able to produce
more cheaply than their competitors: which will be equivalent
again to a suppression of workmen.

M. Leon Faucher seems inclined to favor a system of indemnity.
He says:

We readily conceive that, in some interest or other, the State,
representing the general desire, should command the sacrifice of
an industry.

It is always supposed to command it, from the moment that it
grants to each the liberty to produce, and protects and defends
this liberty against all encroachment.

But this is an extreme measure, an experiment which is always
perilous, and which should be accompanied by all possible
consideration for individuals.  The State has no right to take
from a class of citizens the labor by which they live, before
otherwise providing for their subsistence or assuring itself that
they will find in some new industry employment for their minds
and arms.  It is a principle in civilized countries that the
government cannot seize a piece of private property, even on
grounds of public utility, without first buying out the
proprietor by a just indemnity paid in advance.  Now, labor seems
to us property quite as legitimate, quite as sacred, as a field
or a house, and we do not understand why it should be
expropriated without any sort of compensation. . . .

As chimerical as we consider the doctrines which represent
government as the universal purveyor of labor in society, to the
same extent does it seem to us just and necessary that every
displacement of labor in the name of public utility should be
effected only by means of a compensation or a transition, and
that neither individuals nor classes should be sacrificed to
State considerations.  Power, in well- constituted nations, has
always time and money to give for the mitigation of these partial
sufferings.  And it is precisely because industry does not
emanate from it, because it is born and developed under the free
and individual initiative of citizens, that the government is
bound, when it disturbs its course, to offer it a sort of
reparation or indemnity.

There's sense for you: whatever M. Leon Faucher may say, he calls
for the organization of labor.  For government to see to it that
progress of industry and the liberty of enterprise, the supreme
law of the State,--is without any doubt to constitute itself, in
some way that the future shall determine, the PURVEYOR OF LABOR
IN SOCIETY and the guardian of wages.  And, as we have many times
repeated, inasmuch as industrial progress and consequently the
work of disarranging and rearranging classes in society is
continual, it is not a special transition for each innovation
that needs to be discovered, but rather a general principle, an
organic law of transition, applicable to all possible cases and
producing its effect itself.  Is M. Leon Faucher in a position to
formulate this law and reconcile the various antagonisms which we
have described?  No, since he prefers to stop at the idea of an
SUFFERINGS.  I am sorry for M. Faucher's generous intentions, but
they seem to me radically impracticable.

Power has no time and money save what it takes from the
taxpayers.  To indemnify by taxation laborers thrown out of work
would be to visit ostracism upon new inventions and establish
communism by means of the bayonet; that is no solution of the
difficulty.  It is useless to insist further on indemnification
by the State.  Indemnity, applied according to M. Faucher's
views, would either end in industrial despotism, in something
like the government of Mohammed-Ali, or else would degenerate
into a poor-tax,--that is, into a vain hypocrisy.  For the good
of humanity it were better not to indemnify, and to let labor
seek its own eternal constitution.

There are some who say:  Let government carry laborers thrown out
of work to points where private industry is not established,
where individual enterprise cannot reach.  We have mountains to
plant again with trees, ten or twelve million acres of land to
clear, canals to dig, in short, a thousand things of immediate
and general utility to undertake.

"We certainly ask our readers' pardon for it," answers M. Fix;
"but here again we are obliged to call for the intervention of
capital.  These surfaces, certain communal lands excepted, are
fallow, because, if cultivated, they would yield no net product,
and very likely not even the costs of cultivation.  These lands
are possessed by proprietors who either have or have not the
capital necessary to cultivate them.  In the former case, the
proprietor would very probably content himself, if he cultivated
these lands, with a very small profit, and perhaps would forego
what is called the rent of the land: but he has found that,
in undertaking such cultivation, he would lose his original
capital, and his other calculations have shown him that the sale
of the products would not cover the costs of cultivation. . . .
All things considered, therefore, this land will remain fallow,
because capital that should be put into it would yield no profit
and would be lost.  If it were otherwise, all these lands would
be immediately put in cultivation; the savings now disposed of in
another direction would necessarily gravitate in a certain
proportion to the cultivation of land; for capital has no
affections: it has interests, and always seeks that employment
which is surest and most lucrative."

This argument, very well reasoned, amounts to saying that the
time to cultivate its waste lands has not arrived for France,
just as the time for railroads has not arrived for the Kaffres
and the Hottentots.  For, as has been said in the second chapter,
society begins by working those sources which yield most easily
and surely the most necessary and least expensive products: it is
only gradually that it arrives at the utilization of things
relatively less productive.  Since the human race has been
tossing about on the face of its globe, it has struggled with no
other task; for it the same care is ever recurrent,--that of
assuring its subsistence while going forward in the path of
discovery.  In order that such clearing of land may not become a
ruinous speculation, a cause of misery, in other words, in order
that it may be possible, it is necessary, therefore, to multiply
still further our capital and machinery, discover new processes,
and more thoroughly divide labor.  Now, to solicit the government
to take such an initiative is to imitate the peasants who, on
seeing the approach of a storm, begin to pray to God and to
invoke their saint.  Governments--today it cannot be too often
repeated--are the representatives of Divinity,--I had almost said
executors of celestial vengeance: they can do nothing for us.
Does the English government, for instance, know any way of
giving labor to the unfortunates who take refuge in its
workhouses?  And if it knew, would it dare?  AID YOURSELF, AND
HEAVEN WILL AID YOU!  This note of popular distrust of Divinity
tells us also what we must expect of power,--nothing.

Arrived at the second station of our Calvary, instead of
abandoning ourselves to sterile contemplations, let us be more
and more attentive to the teachings of destiny.  The guarantee of
our liberty lies in the progress of our torture.



Between the hundred-headed hydra, division of labor, and the
unconquered dragon, machinery, what will become of humanity?  A
prophet has said it more than two thousand years ago:  Satan
looks on his victim, and the fires of war are kindled, Aspexit
gentes, et dissolvit.  To save us from two scourges, famine and
pestilence, Providence sends us discord.

Competition represents that philosophical era in which, a semi-
understanding of the antinomies of reason having given birth to
the art of sophistry, the characteristics of the false and the
true were confounded, and in which, instead of doctrines, they
had nothing but deceptive mental tilts.  Thus the industrial
movement faithfully reproduces the metaphysical movement; the
history of social economy is to be found entire in the writings
of the philosophers.  Let us study this interesting phase, whose
most striking characteristic is to take away the judgment of
those who believe as well as those who protest.

% 1.--Necessity of competition.

M. Louis Reybaud, novelist by profession, economist on occasion,
breveted by the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences for
his anti-reformatory caricatures, and become, with the lapse of
time, one of the writers most hostile to social ideas,--M. Louis
Reybaud, whatever he may do, is none the less profoundly imbued
with these same ideas: the opposition which he thus exhibits is
neither in his heart nor in his mind; it is in the facts.

In the first edition of his "Studies of Contemporary Reformers,"
M. Reybaud, moved by the sight of social sufferings as well as
the courage of these founders of schools, who believed that they
could reform the world by an explosion of sentimentalism, had
formally expressed the opinion that the surviving feature of all
their systems was ASSOCIATION.  M. Dunoyer, one of M. Reybaud's
judges, bore this testimony, the more flattering to M. Reybaud
from being slightly ironical in form:

M. Reybaud, who has exposed with so much accuracy and talent, in
a book which the French Academy has crowned, the vices of the
three principal reformatory systems, holds fast to the principle
common to them, which serves as their base,--association.
Association in his eyes, he declares, is THE GREATEST PROBLEM OF
MODERN TIMES.  It is called, he says, to solve that of the
distribution of the fruits of labor.  Though authority can do
nothing towards the solution of this problem, association COULD
DO EVERYTHING.  M. Reybaud speaks here like a writer of the
phalansterian school. . . .

M. Reybaud had advanced a little, as one may see.  Endowed with
too much good sense and good faith not to perceive the precipice,
he soon felt that he was straying, and began a retrograde
movement.  I do not call this about-face a crime on his part:  M.
Reybaud is one of those men who cannot justly be held responsible
for their metaphors.  He had spoken before reflecting, he
retracted: what more natural!  If the socialists must blame any
one, let it be M. Dunoyer, who had prompted M. Reybaud's
recantation by this singular compliment.

M. Dunoyer was not slow in perceiving that his words had not
fallen on closed ears.  He relates, for the glory of sound
principles, that, "in a second edition of the `Studies of
Reformers,' M. Reybaud has himself tempered the absolute tone of
his expressions.  He has said, instead of could do EVERYTHING,
could do MUCH."

It was an important modification, as M. Dunoyer brought clearly
to his notice, but it still permitted M. Reybaud to write at the
same time:

These symptoms are grave; they may be considered as prophecies of
a confused organization, in which labor would seek an equilibrium
and a regularity which it now lacks. . . .  At the bottom of all
these efforts is hidden a principle, association, which it would
be wrong to condemn on the strength of irregular manifestations.

Finally M. Reybaud has loudly declared himself a partisan of
competition, which means that he has decidedly abandoned the
principle of association.  For if by association we are to
understand only the forms of partnership fixed by the commercial
code, the philosophy of which has been summarized for us by MM.
Troplong and Delangle, it is no longer worth while to distinguish
between socialists and economists, between one party which seeks
association and another which maintains that association exists.

Let no one imagine, because M. Reybaud has happened to say
heedlessly yes and no to a question of which he does not seem to
have yet formed a clear idea, that I class him among those
speculators of socialism, who, after having launched a hoax into
the world, begin immediately to make their retreat, under the
pretext that, the idea now belonging to the public domain, there
is nothing more for them to do but to leave it to make its way.
M. Reybaud, in my opinion, belongs rather to the category of
dupes, which includes in its bosom so many honest people and
people of so much brains.  M. Reybaud will remain, then, in my
eyes, the vir probus dicendi peritus, the conscientious and
skilful writer, who may easily be caught napping, but who never
expresses anything that he does not see or feel.  Moreover, M.
Reybaud, once placed on the ground of economic ideas, would find
the more difficulty in being consistent with himself because of
the clearness of his mind and the accuracy of his reasoning.  I
am going to make this curious experiment under the reader's eyes.

If I could be understood by M. Reybaud, I would say to him:  Take
your stand in favor of competition, you will be wrong; take your
stand against competition, still you will be wrong: which
signifies that you will always be right.  After that, if,
convinced that you have not erred either in the first edition of
your book or in the fourth, you should succeed in formulating
your sentiment in an intelligible manner, I will look upon you as
an economist of as great genius as Turgot and A. Smith; but I
warn you that then you will resemble the latter, of whom you
doubtless know little; you will be a believer in equality.  Do
you accept the wager?

To better prepare M. Reybaud for this sort of reconciliation with
himself, let us show him first that this versatility of judgment,
for which anybody else in my place would reproach him with
insulting bitterness, is a treason, not on the part of the
writer, but on the part of the facts of which he has made himself
the interpreter.

In March, 1844, M. Reybaud published on oleaginous seeds--a
subject which interested the city of Marseilles, his
birthplace--an article in which he took vigorous ground in favor
of free competition and the oil of sesame.  According to the
facts gathered by the author, which seem authentic, sesame would
yield from forty-five to forty-six per cent. of oil, while the
poppy and the colza yield only twenty-five to thirty per  cent.,
and the olive simply twenty to twenty-two.  Sesame, for this
reason, is disliked by the northern manufacturers, who have
asked and obtained its prohibition.  Nevertheless the English are
on the watch, ready to take possession of this valuable branch of
commerce.  Let them prohibit the seed, says M. Reybaud, the oil
will reach us mixed, in soap, or in some other way: we shall have
lost the profit of manufacture.  Moreover, the interest of our
marine service requires the protection of this trade; it is a
matter of no less than forty thousand casks of seed, which
implies a maritime outfit of three hundred vessels and three
thousand sailors.

These facts are conclusive: forty-five per cent. of oil instead
of twenty-five; in quality superior to all the oils of France;
reduction in the price of an article of prime necessity; a saving
to consumers; three hundred ships, three thousand sailors,--such
would be the value to us of liberty of commerce.  Therefore, long
live competition and sesame!

Then, in order to better assure these brilliant results, M.
Reybaud, impelled by his patriotism and going straight in pursuit
of his idea, observes--very judiciously in our opinion--that the
government should abstain henceforth from all treaties of
reciprocity in the matter of transportation: he asks that French
vessels may carry the imports as well as the exports of French

"What we call reciprocity," he says, "is a pure fiction, the
advantage of which is reaped by whichever of the parties can
furnish navigation at the smallest expense.  Now, as in France
the elements of navigation, such as the purchase of the ships,
the wages of the crews, and the costs of outfit, rise to an
excessive figure, higher than in any of the other maritime
nations, it follows that every reciprocity treaty is equivalent
on our part to a treaty of abdication, and that, instead of
agreeing to an act of mutual convenience, we resign ourselves,
knowingly or involuntarily, to a sacrifice."

And M. Reybaud then points out the disastrous consequences of

France consumes five hundred thousand bales of cotton, and the
Americans land them on our wharves; she uses enormous quantities
of coal, and the English do the carrying thereof; the Swedes and
Norwegians deliver to us themselves their iron and wood; the
Dutch, their cheeses; the Russians, their hemp and wheat; the
Genoese, their rice; the Spaniards, their oils; the Sicilians,
their sulphur; the Greeks and Armenians, all the commodities of
the Mediterranean and Black seas."

Evidently such a state of things is intolerable, for it ends in
rendering our merchant marine useless.  Let us hasten back, then,
into our ship yards, from which the cheapness of foreign
navigation tends to exclude us.  Let us close our doors to
foreign vessels, or at least let us burden them with a heavy tax.

Therefore, down with competition and rival marines!

Does M. Reybaud begin to understand that his
economico-socialistic oscillations are much more innocent than he
would have believed?  What gratitude he owes me for having
quieted his conscience, which perhaps was becoming alarmed!

The reciprocity of which M. Reybaud so bitterly complains is only
a form of commercial liberty.  Grant full and entire liberty of
trade, and our flag is driven from the surface of the seas, as
our oils would be from the continent.  Therefore we shall pay
dearer for our oil, if we insist on making it ourselves; dearer
for our colonial products, if we wish to carry them ourselves.
To secure cheapness it would be necessary, after having abandoned
our oils, to abandon our marine: as well abandon straightway our
cloths, our linens, our calicoes, our iron products, and then, as
an isolated industry necessarily costs too much, our wines, our
grains, our forage!  Whichever course you may choose, privilege
or liberty, you arrive at the impossible, at the absurd.

Undoubtedly there exists a principle of reconciliation; but,
unless it be utterly despotic, it must be derived from a law
superior to liberty itself: now, it is this law which no one has
yet defined, and which I ask of the economists, if they really
are masters of their science.  For I cannot consider him a savant
who, with the greatest sincerity and all the wit in the world,
preaches by turns, fifteen lines apart, liberty and monopoly.

Is it not immediately and intuitively evident that COMPETITION
DESTROYS COMPETITION?  Is there a theorem in geometry more
certain, more peremptory, than that?  How then, upon what
conditions, in what sense, can a principle which is its own
denial enter into science?  How can it become an organic law of
society?  If competition is necessary; if, as the school says, it
is a postulate of production,--how does it become so devastating
in its effects?  And if its most certain effect is to ruin those
whom it incites, how does it become useful?  For the
INCONVENIENCES which follow in its train, like the good which it
procures, are not accidents arising from the work of man: both
follow logically from the principle, and subsist by the same
title and face to face.

And, in the first place, competition is as essential to labor as
division, since it is division itself returning in another form,
or rather, raised to its second power; division, I say, no
longer, as in the first period of economic evolution, adequate to
collective force, and consequently absorbing the personality of
the laborer in the workshop, but giving birth to liberty by
making each subdivision of labor a sort of sovereignty in which
man stands in all his power and independence.  Competition, in a
word, is liberty in division and in all the divided parts:
beginning with the most comprehensive functions, it tends toward
its realization even in the inferior operations of parcellaire

Here the communists raise an objection.  It is necessary, they
say, in all things, to distinguish between use and abuse.  There
is a useful, praiseworthy, moral competition, a competition which
enlarges the heart and the mind, a noble and generous
competition,--it is emulation; and why should not this emulation
have for its object the advantage of all?  There is another
competition, pernicious, immoral, unsocial, a jealous competition
which hates and which kills,--it is egoism.

So says communism; so expressed itself, nearly a year ago, in its
social profession of faith, the journal, "La Reforme."

Whatever reluctance I may feel to oppose men whose ideas are at
bottom my own, I cannot accept such dialectics.  "La Reforme," in
believing that it could reconcile everything by a distinction
more grammatical than real, has made use, without suspecting it,
of the golden mean,-- that is, of the worst sort of diplomacy.
Its argument is exactly the same as that of M. Rossi in regard to
the division of labor: it consists in setting competition and
morality against each other, in order to limit them by each
other, as M. Rossi pretended to arrest and restrict economic
inductions by morality, cutting here, lopping there, to suit the
need and the occasion.  I have refuted M. Rossi by asking him
this simple question: How can science be in disagreement with
itself, the science of wealth with the science of duty?  Likewise
I ask the communists:  How can a principle whose development is
clearly useful be at the same time pernicious?

They say: emulation is not competition.  I note, in the first
place, that this pretended distinction bears only on the
divergent effects of the principle, which leads one to suppose
that there were two principles which had been confounded.
Emulation is nothing but competition itself; and, since they have
thrown themselves into abstractions, I willingly plunge in also.
There is no emulation without an object, just as there is no
passional initiative without an object; and as the object of
every passion is necessarily analogous to the passion
itself,--woman to the lover, power to the ambitious, gold to the
miser, a crown to the poet,--so the object of industrial
emulation is necessarily profit.

No, rejoins the communist, the laborer's object of emulation
should be general utility, fraternity, love.

But society itself, since, instead of stopping at the individual
man, who is in question at this moment, they wish to attend only
to the collective man,--society, I say, labors only with a view
to wealth; comfort, happiness, is its only object.  Why, then,
should that which is true of society not be true of the
individual also, since, after all, society is man and entire
humanity lives in each man?  Why substitute for the immediate
object of emulation, which in industry is personal welfare, that
far-away and almost metaphysical motive called general welfare,
especially when the latter is nothing without the former and can
result only from the former?

Communists, in general, build up a strange illusion: fanatics on
the subject of power, they expect to secure through a central
force, and in the special case in question, through collective
wealth, by a sort of reversion, the welfare of the laborer who
has created this wealth: as if the individual came into existence
after society, instead of society after the individual.  For that
matter, this is not the only case in which we shall see the
socialists unconsciously dominated by the traditions of the
regime against which they protest.

But what need of insisting?  From the moment that the communist
changes the name of things, vera rerum vocabala, he tacitly
admits his powerlessness, and puts himself out of the question.
That is why my sole reply to him shall be:  In denying
competition, you abandon the thesis; henceforth you have no place
in the discussion.  Some other time we will inquire how far man
should sacrifice himself in the interest of all: for the moment
the question is the solution of the problem of competition,--that
is, the reconciliation of the highest satisfaction of egoism with
social necessities; spare us your moralities.

Competition is necessary to the constitution of value,--that is,
to the very principle of distribution, and consequently to the
advent of equality.  As long as a product is supplied only by a
single manufacturer, its real value remains a mystery, either
through the producer's misrepresentation or through his neglect
or inability to reduce the cost of production to its extreme
limit.  Thus the privilege of production is a real loss to
society, and publicity of industry, like competition between
laborers, a necessity.  All the utopias ever imagined or
imaginable cannot escape this law.

Certainly I do not care to deny that labor and wages can and
should be guaranteed; I even entertain the hope that the time of
such guarantee is not far off: but I maintain that a guarantee of
wages is impossible without an exact knowledge of value, and that
this value can be discovered only by competition, not at all by
communistic institutions or by popular decree.  For in this there
is something more powerful than the will of the legislator and of
citizens,--namely, the absolute impossibility that man should do
his duty after finding himself relieved of all responsibility to
himself: now, responsibility to self, in the matter of labor,
necessarily implies competition with others.  Ordain that,
beginning January 1, 1847, labor and wages are guaranteed to all:
immediately an immense relaxation will succeed the extreme
tension to which industry is now subjected; real value will
fall rapidly below nominal value; metallic money, in spite of its
effigy and stamp, will experience the fate of the assignats; the
merchant will ask more and give less; and we shall find ourselves
in a still lower circle in the hell of misery in which
competition is only the third turn.

Even were I to admit, with some socialists, that the
attractiveness of labor may some day serve as food for emulation
without any hidden thought of profit, of what utility could this
utopia be in the phase which we are studying?  We are yet only in
the third period of economic evolution, in the third age of the
constitution of labor,--that is, in a period when it is
impossible for labor to be attractive.  For the attractiveness of
labor can result only from a high degree of physical, moral, and
intellectual development of the laborer.  Now, this development
itself, this education of humanity by industry, is precisely the
object of which we are in pursuit through the contradictions of
social economy.  How, then, could the attractiveness of labor
serve us as a principle and lever, when it is still our object
and our end?

But, if it is unquestionable that labor, as the highest
manifestation of life, intelligence, and liberty, carries with it
its own attractiveness, I deny that this attractiveness can ever
be wholly separated from the motive of utility, and consequently
from a return of egoism; I deny, I say, labor for labor, just as
I deny style for style, love for love, art for art.  Style for
style has produced in these days hasty literature and thoughtless
improvisation; love for love leads to unnatural vice, onanism,
and prostitution; art for art ends in Chinese knick-knacks,
caricature, the worship of the ugly.  When man no longer looks to
labor for anything but the pleasure of exercise, he soon ceases
to labor, he plays.  History is full of facts which attest
this degradation.  The games of Greece, Isthmian, Olympic,
Pythian, Nemean, exercises of a society which produced everything
by its slaves; the life of the Spartans and the ancient Cretans,
their models; the gymnasiums, playgrounds, horse-races, and
disorders of the market-place among the Athenians; the
occupations which Plato assigns to the warriors in his Republic,
and which but represent the tastes of his century; finally, in
our feudal society, the tilts and tourneys,--all these
inventions, as well as many others which I pass in silence, from
the game of chess, invented, it is said, at the siege of Troy by
Palamedes, to the cards illustrated for Charles VI. by
Gringonneur, are examples of what labor becomes as soon as the
serious motive of utility is separated from it.  Labor, real
labor, that which produces wealth and gives knowledge, has too
much need of regularity and perseverance and sacrifice to be long
the friend of passion, fugitive in its nature, inconstant, and
disorderly; it is something too elevated, too ideal, too
philosophical, to become exclusively pleasure and
enjoyment,--that is, mysticism and sentiment.  The faculty of
laboring, which distinguishes man from the brutes, has its source
in the profoundest depths of the reason: how could it become in
us a simple manifestation of life, a voluptuous act of our

But if now they fall back upon the hypothesis of a transformation
of our nature, unprecedented in history, and of which there has
been nothing so far that could have expressed the idea, it is
nothing more than a dream, unintelligible even to those who
defend it, an inversion of progress, a contradiction given to the
most certain laws of economic science; and my only reply is to
exclude it from the discussion.

Let us stay in the realm of facts, since facts alone have a
meaning and can aid us.  The French Revolution was effected for
industrial liberty as well as for political liberty: and although
France in 1789 had not seen all the consequences of the principle
for the realization of which she asked,--let us say it
boldly,--she was mistaken neither in her wishes nor in her
expectation.  Whoever would try to deny it would lose in my eyes
the right to criticism:  I will never dispute with an adversary
who would posit as a principle the spontaneous error of
twenty-five millions of men.

At the end of the eighteenth century France, wearied with
privileges, desired at any price to shake off the torpor of her
corporations, and restore the dignity of the laborer by
conferring liberty upon him.  Everywhere it was necessary to
emancipate labor, stimulate genius, and render the manufacturer
responsible by arousing a thousand competitors and loading upon
him alone the consequences of his indolence, ignorance, and
insincerity.  Before '89 France was ripe for the transition; it
was Turgot who had the glory of effecting the first passage.

Why then, if competition had not been a principle of social
economy, a decree of destiny, a necessity of the human soul, why,
instead of ABOLISHING corporations, masterships, and
wardenships, did they not think rather of REPAIRING them all?
Why, instead of a revolution, did they not content themselves
with a reform?  Why this negation, if a modification was
sufficient?  Especially as this middle party was entirely in the
line of conservative ideas, which the bourgeoisie shared.  Let
communism, let quasi-socialistic democracy, which, in regard to
the principle of competition, represent--though they do not
suspect it--the system of the golden mean, the
counter-revolutionary idea, explain to me this unanimity of the
nation, if they can!

Moreover the event confirmed the theory.  Beginning with the
Turgot ministry, an increase of activity and well-being
manifested itself in the nation.  The test seemed so decisive
that it obtained the approval of all legislatures.  Liberty of
industry and commerce figure in our constitutions on a level with
political liberty.  To this liberty, in short, France owes the
growth of her wealth during the last sixty years.

After this capital fact, which establishes so triumphantly the
necessity of competition, I ask permission to cite three or four
others, which, being less general in their nature, will throw
into bolder relief the influence of the principle which I defend.

Why is our agriculture so prodigiously backward?  How is it that
routine and barbarism still hover, in so many localities, over
the most important branch of national labor?  Among the numerous
causes that could be cited, I see, in the front rank, the absence
of competition.  The peasants fight over strips of ground; they
compete with each other before the notary; in the fields, no.
And speak to them of emulation, of the public good, and with what
amazement you fill them!  Let the king, they say (to them the
king is synonymous with the State, with the public good, with
society), let the king attend to his business, and we will attend
to ours!  Such is their philosophy and their patriotism.  Ah! if
the king could excite competition with them!  Unfortunately it is
impossible.  While in manufactures competition follows from
liberty and property, in agriculture liberty and property are a
direct obstacle to competition.  The peasant, rewarded, not
according to his labor and intelligence, but according to the
quality of the land and the caprice of God, aims, in cultivating,
to pay the lowest possible wages and to make the least possible
advance outlays.  Sure of always finding a market for his goods,
he is much more solicitous about reducing his expenses than about
improving the soil and the quality of its products.  He sows, and
Providence does the rest.  The only sort of competition known to
the agricultural class is that of rents; and it cannot be denied
that in France, and for instance in Beauce, it has led to useful
results.  But as the principle of this competition takes effect
only at second hand, so to speak, as it does not emanate directly
from the liberty and property of the cultivators, it disappears
with the cause that produces it, so that, to insure the decline
of agricultural industry in many localities, or at least to
arrest its progress, perhaps it would suffice to make the farmers

Another branch of collective labor, which of late years has given
rise to sharp debates, is that of public works.  "To manage the
building of a road, M. Dunoyer very well says, "perhaps a pioneer
and a postilion would be better than an engineer fresh from the
School of Roads and Bridges."  There is no one who has not had
occasion to verify the correctness of this remark.

On one of our finest rivers, celebrated by the importance of its
navigation, a bridge was being built.  From the beginning of the
work the rivermen had seen that the arches would be much too low
to allow the circulation of boats at times when the river was
high: they pointed this out to the engineer in charge of the
work.  Bridges, answered the latter with superb dignity, are made
for those who pass over, not for those who pass under.  The
remark has become a proverb in that vicinity.  But, as it is
impossible for stupidity to prevail forever, the government has
felt the necessity of revising the work of its agent, and as I
write the arches of the bridge are being raised.  Does any
one believe that, if the merchants interested in the course of
the navigable way had been charged with the enterprise at their
own risk and peril, they would have had to do their work twice?
One could fill a book with masterpieces of the same sort achieved
by young men learned in roads and bridges, who, scarcely out of
school and given life positions, are no longer stimulated by

In proof of the industrial capacity of the State, and
consequently of the possibility of abolishing competition
altogether, they cite the administration of the tobacco industry.

There, they say, is no adulteration, no litigation, no
bankruptcy, no misery.  The condition of the workmen, adequately
paid, instructed, sermonized, moralized, and assured of a
retiring pension accumulated by their savings, is incomparably
superior to that of the immense majority of workmen engaged in
free industry.

All this may be true: for my part, I am ignorant on the subject.
I know nothing of what goes on in the administration of the
tobacco factories; I have procured no information either from the
directors or the workmen, and I have no need of any.  How much
does the tobacco sold by the administration cost?  How much is it
worth?  You can answer the first of these questions: you only
need to call at the first tobacco shop you see.  But you can tell
me nothing about the second, because you have no standard of
comparison and are forbidden to verify by experiment the items of
cost of administration, which it is consequently impossible to
accept.  Therefore the tobacco business, made into a monopoly,
necessarily costs society more than it brings in; it is an
industry which, instead of subsisting by its own product, lives
by subsidies, and which consequently, far from furnishing us a
model, is one of the first abuses which reform should strike

And when I speak of the reform to be introduced in the production
of tobacco, I do not refer simply to the enormous tax which
triples or quadruples the value of this product; neither do I
refer to the hierarchical organization of its employees, some of
whom by their salaries are made aristocrats as expensive as they
are useless, while others, hopeless receivers of petty wages, are
kept forever in the situation of subalterns.  I do not even speak
of the privilege of the tobacco shops and the whole world of
parasites which they support:  I have particularly in view the
useful labor, the labor of the workmen.  From the very fact that
the administration's workman has no competitors and is interested
neither in profit nor loss, from the fact that he is not free, in
a word, his product is necessarily less, and his service too
expensive.  This being so, let them say that the government
treats its employees well and looks out for their comfort: what
wonder?  Why do not people see that liberty bears the burdens of
privilege, and that, if, by some impossibility, all industries
were to be treated like the tobacco industry, the source of
subsidies failing, the nation could no longer balance its
receipts and its expenses, and the State would become a bankrupt?

Foreign products: I cite the testimony of an educated man, though
not a political economist,--M. Liebig.

Formerly France imported from Spain every year soda to the value
of twenty or thirty millions of francs; for Spanish soda was the
best.  All through the war with England the price of soda, and
consequently that of soap and glass, constantly rose.  French
manufacturers therefore had to suffer considerably from this
state of things.  Then it was that Leblanc discovered the method
of extracting soda from common salt.  This process was a source
of wealth to France; the manufacture of soda acquired
extraordinary proportions; but neither Leblanc nor Napoleon
enjoyed the profit of the invention.  The Restoration, which took
advantage of the wrath of the people against the author of the
continental blockade, refused to pay the debt of the emperor,
whose promises had led to Leblanc's discoveries. . . .

A few years ago, the king of Naples having undertaken to convert
the Sicilian sulphur trade into a monopoly, England, which
consumes an immense quantity of this sulphur, warned the king of
Naples that, if the monopoly were maintained, it would be
considered a casus belli.  While the two governments were
exchanging diplomatic notes, fifteen patents were taken out in
England for the extraction of sulphuric acid from the limestones,
iron pyrites, and other mineral substances in which England
abounds.  But the affair being arranged with the king of Naples,
nothing came of these exploitations: it was simply established,
by the attempts which were made, that the extraction of sulphuric
acid by the new processes could have been carried on
successfully, which perhaps would have annihilated Sicily's
sulphur trade.

Had it not been for the war with England, had not the king of
Naples had a fancy for monopoly, it would have been a long time
before any one in France would have thought of extracting soda
from sea salt, or any one in England of getting sulphuric acid
from the mountains of lime and pyrites which she contains.  Now,
that is precisely the effect of competition upon industry.  Man
rouses from his idleness only when want fills him with anxiety;
and the surest way to extinguish his genius is to deliver him
from all solicitude and take away from him the hope of profit and
of the social distinction which results from it, by creating
around him PEACE EVERYWHERE, PEACE ALWAYS, and transferring to
the State the responsibility of his inertia.

Yes, it must be admitted, in spite of modern quietism,--man's
life is a permanent war, war with want, war with nature, war with
his fellows, and consequently war with himself.  The theory of a
peaceful equality, founded on fraternity and sacrifice, is only a
counterfeit of the Catholic doctrine of renunciation of the
goods and pleasures of this world, the principle of beggary, the
panegyric of misery.  Man may love his fellow well enough to die
for him; he does not love him well enough to work for him.

To the theory of sacrifice, which we have just refuted in fact
and in right, the adversaries of competition add another, which
is just the opposite of the first: for it is a law of the mind
that, when it does not know the truth, which is its point of
equilibrium, it oscillates between two contradictions.  This new
theory of anti-competitive socialism is that of encouragements.

What more social, more progressive in appearance, than
encouragement of labor and of industry?  There is no democrat who
does not consider it one of the finest attributes of power, no
utopian theorist who does not place it in the front rank as a
means of organizing happiness.  Now, government is by nature so
incapable of directing labor that every reward bestowed by it is
a veritable larceny from the common treasury.  M. Reybaud shall
furnish us the text of this induction.

"The premiums granted to encourage exportation," observes M.
Reybaud somewhere, "are equivalent to the taxes paid for the
importation of raw material; the advantage remains absolutely
null, and serves to encourage nothing but a vast system of

This result is inevitable.  Abolish customs duties, and national
industry suffers, as we have already seen in the case of sesame;
maintain the duties without granting premiums for exportation,
and national commerce will be beaten in foreign markets.  To
obviate this difficulty do you resort to premiums?  You but
restore with one hand what you have received with the other, and
you provoke fraud, the last result, the caput mortuum, of all
encouragements of industry.  Hence it follows that every
encouragement to labor, every reward bestowed upon industry,
beyond the natural price of its product, is a gratuitous gift, a
bribe taken out of the consumer and offered in his name to a
favorite of power, in exchange for zero, for nothing.  To
encourage industry, then, is synonymous at bottom with
encouraging idleness: it is one of the forms of swindling.

In the interest of our navy the government had thought it best to
grant to outfitters of transport-ships a premium for every man
employed on their vessels.  Now, I continue to quote M. Reybaud:

On every vessel that starts for Newfoundland from sixty to
seventy men embark.  Of this number twelve are sailors: the
balance consists of villagers snatched from their work in the
fields, who, engaged as day laborers for the preparation of fish,
remain strangers to the rigging, and have nothing that is marine
about them except their feet and stomach.  Nevertheless, these
men figure on the rolls of the naval inscription, and there
perpetuate a deception.  When there is occasion to defend the
institution of premiums, these are cited in its favor; they swell
the numbers and contribute to success.

Base jugglery! doubtless some innocent reformer will exclaim.  Be
it so: but let us analyze the fact, and try to disengage the
general idea to be found therein.

In principle the only encouragement to labor that science can
admit is profit.  For, if labor cannot find its reward in its own
product, very far from encouraging it, it should be abandoned as
soon as possible, and, if this same labor results in a net
product, it is absurd to add to this net product a gratuitous
gift, and thus overrate the value of the service.  Applying this
principle, I say then:  If the merchant service calls only for
ten thousand sailors, it should not be asked to support fifteen
thousand; the shortest course for the government is to put five
thousand conscripts on State vessels, and send them on their
expeditions, like princes.  Every encouragement offered to the
merchant marine is a direct invitation to fraud,--what do I
say?--a proposal to pay wages for an impossible service.  Do the
handling and discipline of vessels and all the conditions of
maritime commerce accommodate themselves to these adjuncts of a
useless personnel?  What, then, can the ship-owner do in face of
a government which offers him a bonus to embark on his vessel
people of whom he has no need?  If the ministry throws the money
of the treasury into the street, am I guilty if I pick it up?

Thus--and it is a point worthy of notice--the theory of
encouragements emanates directly from the theory of sacrifice;
and, in order to avoid holding man responsible, the opponents of
competition, by the fatal contradiction of their ideas, are
obliged to make him now a god, now a brute.  And then they are
astonished that society is not moved by their appeal!  Poor
children! men will never be better or worse than you see them now
and than they always have been.  As soon as their individual
welfare solicits them, they desert the general welfare: in which
I find them, if not honorable, at least worthy of excuse.  It is
your fault if you now demand of them more than they owe you and
now stimulate their greed with rewards which they do not deserve.
Man has nothing more precious than himself, and consequently no
other law than his responsibility.  The theory of self-sacrifice,
like that of rewards, is a theory of rogues, subversive of
society and morality; and by the very fact that you look either
to sacrifice or to privilege for the maintenance of order, you
create a new antagonism in society.  Instead of causing the birth
of harmony from the free activity of persons, you render the
individual and the State strangers to each other; in commanding
union, you breathe discord.

To sum up, outside of competition there remains but this
alternative,-- encouragement, which is a mystification, or
sacrifice, which is hypocrisy.

Therefore competition, analyzed in its principle, is an
inspiration of justice; and yet we shall see that competition, in
its results, is unjust.

% 2.--Subversive effects of competition, and the destruction of
liberty thereby.

The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, says the Gospel, and
the violent take it by force.  These words are the allegory of
society.  In society regulated by labor, dignity, wealth, and
glory are objects of competition; they are the reward of the
strong, and competition may be defined as the regime of force.
The old economists did not at first perceive this contradiction:
the moderns have been forced to recognize it.

"To elevate a State from the lowest degree of barbarism to the
highest degree of opulence," wrote A. Smith, "but three things
are necessary,-- peace, moderate taxes, and a tolerable
administration of justice.  All the rest is brought about by the

On which the last translator of Smith, M. Blanqui, lets fall this
gloomy comment:

We have seen the natural course of things produce disastrous
effects, and create anarchy in production, war for markets, and
piracy in competition.  The division of labor and the perfecting
of machinery, which should realize for the great working family
of the human race the conquest of a certain amount of leisure to
the advantage of its dignity, have produced at many points
nothing but degradation and misery. . . . .  When A. Smith wrote,
liberty had not yet come with its embarrassments and its abuses,
and the Glasgow professor foresaw only its blessings. . .  Smith
would have written like M. de Sismondi, if he had been a witness
of the sad condition of Ireland and the manufacturing districts
of England in the times in which we live.

Now then, litterateurs, statesmen, daily publicists, believers
and half-believers, all you who have taken upon yourselves the
mission of indoctrinating men, do you hear these words which one
would take for a translation from Jeremiah?  Will you tell us at
last to what end you pretend to be conducting civilization?  What
advice do you offer to society, to the country, in alarm?

But to whom do I speak?  Ministers, journalists, sextons, and
pedants!  Do such people trouble themselves about the problems of
social economy?  Have they ever heard of competition?

A citizen of Lyons, a soul hardened to mercantile war, travelled
in Tuscany.  He observes that from five to six hundred thousand
straw hats are made annually in that country, the aggregate value
of which amounts to four or five millions of francs.  This
industry is almost the sole support of the people of the little
State.  "How is it," he says to himself, "that so easily
conducted a branch of agriculture and manufactures has not been
transported into Provence and Languedoc, where the climate is the
same as in Tuscany?"  But, thereupon observes an economist, if
the industry of the peasants of Tuscany is taken from them, how
will they contrive to live?

The manufacture of black silks had become for Florence a
specialty the secret of which she guarded preciously.

A shrewd Lyons manufacturer, the tourist notices with
satisfaction, has come to set up an establishment in Florence,
and has finally got possession of the peculiar processes of
dyeing and weaving.  Probably this DISCOVERY will diminish
Florentine exportation.--A Journey in Italy, by M. Fulchiron.

Formerly the breeding of the silk-worm was abandoned to the
peasants of Tuscany; whom it aided to live.

Agricultural societies have been formed; they have represented
that the silk-worm, in the peasant's sleeping-room, did not get
sufficient ventilation or sufficient steadiness of temperature,
or as good care as it would have if the laborers who breed them
made it their sole business.  Consequently rich, intelligent, and
generous citizens have built, amid the applause of the public,
what are called bigattieres (from bigatti, silk-worm).--M. de

And then, you ask, will these breeders of silk-worms, these
manufacturers of silks and hats, lose their work?  Precisely: it
will even be proved to them that it is for their interest that
they should, since they will be able to buy the same products for
less than it costs them to manufacture them.  Such is

Competition, with its homicidal instinct, takes away the bread of
a whole class of laborers, and sees in it only an improvement, a
saving; it steals a secret in a cowardly manner, and glories in
it as a DISCOVERY; it changes the natural zones of production to
the detriment of an entire people, and pretends to have done
nothing but utilize the advantages of its climate.  Competition
overturns all notions of equity and justice; it increases the
real cost of production by needlessly multiplying the capital
invested, causes by turns the dearness of products and their
depreciation, corrupts the public conscience by putting chance in
the place of right, and maintains terror and distrust everywhere.

But what!  Without this atrocious characteristic, competition
would lose its happiest effects; without the arbitrary element in
exchange and the panics of the market, labor would not
continually build factory against factory, and, not being
maintained in such good working order, production would realize
none of its marvels.  After having caused evil to arise from the
very utility of its principle, competition again finds a way to
extract good from evil; destruction engenders utility,
equilibrium is realized by agitation, and it may be said of
competition, as Samson said of the lion which he had slain:  De
comedente cibus exiit, et de forti dulcedo.  Is there anything,
in all the spheres of human knowledge, more surprising than
political economy?

Let us take care, nevertheless, not to yield to an impulse of
irony, which would be on our part only unjust invective.  It is
characteristic of economic science to find its certainty in its
contradictions, and the whole error of the economists consists in
not having understood this.  Nothing poorer than their criticism,
nothing more saddening than their mental confusion, as soon as
they touch this question of competition: one would say that they
were witnesses forced by torture to confess what their conscience
would like to conceal.  The reader will take it kindly if I put
before his eyes the arguments for laissez-passer, introducing
him, so to speak, into the presence of a secret meeting of

M. Dunoyer opens the discussion.

Of all the economists M. Dunoyer has most energetically embraced
the positive side of competition, and consequently, as might have
been expected, most ineffectually grasped the negative side.  M.
Dunoyer, with whom nothing can be done when what he calls
principles are under discussion, is very far from believing that
in matters of political economy yes and no may be true at the
same moment and to the same extent; let it be said even to his
credit, such a conception is the more repugnant to him because of
the frankness and honesty with which he holds his doctrines.
What would I not give to gain an entrance into this pure but so
obstinate soul for this truth as certain to me as the existence
of the sun,--that all the categories of political economy are
contradictions!  Instead of uselessly exhausting himself in
reconciling practice and theory; instead of contenting
himself with the ridiculous excuse that everything here below has
its advantages and its inconveniences,--M. Dunoyer would seek the
synthetic idea which solves all the antinomies, and, instead of
the paradoxical conservative which he now is, he would become
with us an inexorable and logical revolutionist.

"If competition is a false principle," says M. Dunoyer, "it
follows that for two thousand years humanity has been pursuing
the wrong road."

No, what you say does not follow, and your prejudicial remark is
refuted by the very theory of progress.  Humanity posits its
principles by turns, and sometimes at long intervals: never does
it give them up in substance, although it destroys successively
their expressions and formulas.  This destruction is called
NEGATION; because the general reason, ever progressive,
continually denies the completeness and sufficiency of its prior
ideas.  Thus it is that, competition being one of the periods in
the constitution of value, one of the elements of the social
synthesis, it is true to say at the same time that it is
indestructible in its principle, and that nevertheless in its
present form it should be abolished, denied.  If, then, there is
any one here who is in opposition to history, it is you.

I have several remarks to make upon the accusations of which
competition has been the object.  The first is that this regime,
good or bad, ruinous or fruitful, does not really exist as yet;
that it is established nowhere except in a partial and most
incomplete manner.

This first observation has no sense.  COMPETITION KILLS
COMPETITION, as we said at the outset; this aphorism may be taken
for a definition.  How, then, could competition ever be complete?

Moreover, though it should be admitted that competition does not
yet exist in its integrity, that would simply prove that
competition does not act with all the power of elimination that
there is in it; but that will not change at all its contradictory
nature.  What need have we to wait thirty centuries longer to
find out that, the more competition develops, the more it tends
to reduce the number of competitors?

The second is that the picture drawn of it is unfaithful; and
that sufficient heed is not paid to the extension which the
general welfare has undergone, including even that of the
laboring classes.

If some socialists fail to recognize the useful side of
competition, you on your side make no mention of its pernicious
effects.  The testimony of your opponents coming to complete your
own, competition is shown in the fullest light, and from a double
falsehood we get the truth as a result.  As for the gravity of
the evil, we shall see directly what to think about that.

The third is that the evil experienced by the laboring classes is
not referred to its real causes.

If there are other causes of poverty than competition, does that
prevent it from contributing its share?  Though only one
manufacturer a year were ruined by competition, if it were
admitted that this ruin is the necessary effect of the principle,
competition, as a principle, would have to be rejected.

The fourth is that the principal means proposed for obviating it
would be inexpedient in the extreme.

Possibly: but from this I conclude that the inadequacy of the
remedies proposed imposes a new duty upon you,--precisely that of
seeking the most expedient means of preventing the evil of

The fifth, finally, is that the real remedies, in so far as it is
possible to remedy the evil by legislation, would be found
precisely in the regime which is accused of having produced
it,--that is, in a more and more real regime of liberty and

Well!  I am willing.  The remedy for competition, in your
opinion, is to make competition universal.  But, in order that
competition may be universal, it is necessary to procure for all
the means of competing; it is necessary to destroy or modify the
predominance of capital over labor, to change the relations
between employer and workman, to solve, in a word, the antinomy
of division and that of machinery; it is necessary to ORGANIZE
LABOR: can you give this solution?

M. Dunoyer then develops, with a courage worthy of a better
cause, his own utopia of universal competition: it is a labyrinth
in which the author stumbles and contradicts himself at every

"Competition," says M. Dunoyer, "meets a multitude of obstacles."

In fact, it meets so many and such powerful ones that it becomes
impossible itself.  For how is triumph possible over obstacles
inherent in the constitution of society and consequently
inseparable from competition itself?

In addition to the public services, there is a certain number of
professions the practice of which the government has seen fit to
more or less exclusively reserve; there is a larger number of
which legislation has given a monopoly to a restricted number of
individuals.  Those which are abandoned to competition are
subjected to formalities and restrictions, to numberless
barriers, which keep many from approaching, and in these
consequently competition is far from being unlimited.  In short,
there are few which are not submitted to varied taxes, necessary
doubtless, etc.

What does all this mean?  M. Dunoyer doubtless does not intend
that society shall dispense with government, administration,
police, taxes, universities, in a word, with everything that
constitutes a society.  Then, inasmuch as society necessarily
implies exceptions to competition, the hypothesis of
universal competition is chimerical, and we are back again
under the regime of caprice,--a result foretold in the definition
of competition.  Is there anything serious in this reasoning of
M. Dunoyer?

Formerly the masters of the science began by putting far away
from them every preconceived idea, and devoted themselves to
tracing facts back to general laws, without ever altering or
concealing them.  The researches of Adam Smith, considering the
time of their appearance, are a marvel of sagacity and lofty
reasoning.  The economic picture presented by Quesnay, wholly
unintelligible as it appears, gives evidence of a profound
sentiment of the general synthesis.  The introduction to J. B.
Say's great treatise dwells exclusively upon the scientific
characteristics of political economy, and in every line is to be
seen how much the author felt the need of absolute ideas.  The
economists of the last century certainly did not constitute the
science, but they sought this constitution ardently and honestly.

How far we are today from these noble thoughts!  No longer do
they seek a science; they defend the interests of dynasty and
caste.  The more powerless routine becomes, the more stubbornly
they adhere to it; they make use of the most venerated names to
stamp abnormal phenomena with a quality of authenticity which
they lack; they tax accusing facts with heresy; they calumniate
the tendencies of the century; and nothing irritates an economist
so much as to pretend to reason with him.

"The peculiar characteristic of the present time," cries M.
Dunoyer, in a tone of keen discontent, "is the agitation of all
classes; their anxiety, their inability to ever stop at anything
and be contented; the infernal labor performed upon the less
fortunate that they may become more and more discontented in
proportion to the increased efforts of society to make their lot
really less pitiful."

Indeed!  Because the socialists goad political economy, they are
incarnate devils!  Can there be anything more impious, in fact,
than to teach the proletaire that he is wronged in his labor and
his wages, and that, in the surroundings in which he lives, his
poverty is irremediable?

M. Reybaud repeats, with greater emphasis, the wail of his
master, M. Dunoyer: one would think them the two seraphim of
Isaiah chanting a Sanctus to competition.  In June, 1844, at the
time when he published the fourth edition of his "Contemporary
Reformers," M. Reybaud wrote, in the bitterness of his soul:

To socialists we owe the organization of labor, the right to
labor; they are the promoters of the regime of surveillance. . .
.  The legislative chambers on either side of the channel are
gradually succumbing to their influence. . . .  Thus utopia is
gaining ground. . . .

And M. Reybaud more and more deplores the SECRET INFLUENCE OF
SOCIALISM on the best minds, and stigmatizes--see the
malice!--the UNPERCEIVED CONTAGION with which even those who
have broken lances against socialism allow themselves to be
inoculated.  Then he announces, as a last act of his high justice
against the wicked, the approaching publication, under the title
of "Laws of Labor," of a work in which he will prove (unless some
new evolution takes place in his ideas) that the laws of labor
have nothing in common, either with the right to labor or with
the organization of labor, and that the best of reforms is

"Moreover," adds M. Reybaud, "the tendency of political economy
is no longer to theory, but to practice.  The abstract portions
of the science seem henceforth fixed.  The controversy over
definitions is exhausted, or nearly so.  The works of the great
economists on value, capital, supply and demand, wages, taxes,
machinery, farm-rent, increase of population, over-accumulation
of products, markets, banks, monopolies, etc., seem to have set
the limit of dogmatic researches, and form a body of doctrine
beyond which there is little to hope."

the conclusion of Montesquieu upon this strange panegyric of the
founders of social economy.  THE SCIENCE IS COMPLETE!  M. Reybaud
makes oath to it; and what he proclaims with so much authority is
repeated at the Academy, in the professors' chairs, in the
councils of State, in the legislative halls; it is published in
the journals; the king is made to say it in his New Year's
addresses; and before the courts the cases of claimants are
decided accordingly.

THE SCIENCE IS COMPLETE!  What fools we are, then, socialists, to
hunt for daylight at noonday, and to protest, with our lanterns
in our hands, against the brilliancy of these solar rays!

But, gentlemen, it is with sincere regret and profound distrust
of myself that I find myself forced to ask you for further light.

If you cannot cure our ills, give us at least kind words, give us
evidence, give us resignation.

"It is obvious," says M. Dunoyer, "that wealth is infinitely
better distributed in our day than it ever has been."

"The equilibrium of pains and pleasures," promptly continues M.
Reybaud, "ever tends to restore itself on earth."

What, then!  What do you say?  WEALTH BETTER DISTRIBUTED,
EQUILIBRIUM RESTORED!  Explain yourselves, please, as to this
better distribution.  Is equality coming, or inequality going?
Is solidarity becoming closer, or competition diminishing?  I
will not quit you until you have answered me, non missura cutem.
. . .  For, whatever the cause of the restoration of equilibrium
and of the better distribution which you point out, I embrace it
with ardor, and will follow it to its last consequences.  Before
1830--I select the date at random--wealth was not so well
distributed: how so?  Today, in your opinion, it is better
distributed: why?  You see what I am coming at: distribution
being not yet perfectly equitable and the equilibrium not
absolutely perfect, I ask, on the one hand, what obstacle it is
that disturbs the equilibrium, and, on the other, by virtue of
what principle humanity continually passes from the greater to
the less evil and from the good to the better?  For, in fact,
this secret principle of amelioration can be neither competition,
nor machinery, nor division of labor, nor supply and demand: all
these principles are but levers which by turns cause value to
oscillate, as the Academy of Moral Sciences has very clearly
seen.  What, then, is the sovereign law of well-being?  What is
this rule, this measure, this criterion of progress, the
violation of which is the perpetual cause of poverty?  Speak, and
quit your haranguing.

Wealth is better distributed, you say.  Show us your proofs. M.

According to official documents, taxes are assessed on scarcely
less than eleven million separate parcels of landed property.
The number of proprietors by whom these taxes are paid is
estimated at six millions; so that, assuming four individuals to
a family, there must be no less than twenty-four million
inhabitants out of thirty-four who participate in the ownership
of the soil.

Then, according to the most favorable figures, there must be ten
million proletaires in France, or nearly one-third of the
population.  Now, what have you to say to that?  Add to these ten
millions half of the twenty- four others, whose property,
burdened with mortgages, parcelled out, impoverished, wretched,
gives them no support, and still you will not have the number of
individuals whose living is precarious.

The number of twenty-four million proprietors perceptibly tends
to increase.

I maintain that it perceptibly tends to decrease.  Who is the
real proprietor, in your opinion,--the nominal holder, assessed,
taxed, pawned, mortgaged, or the creditor who collects the rent?
Jewish and Swiss money-lenders are today the real proprietors of
Alsace; and proof of their excellent judgment is to be found in
the fact that they have no thought of acquiring landed estates:
they prefer to invest their capital.

To the landed proprietors must be added about fifteen hundred
thousand holders of patents and licenses, or, assuming four
persons to a family, six million individuals interested as
leaders in industrial enterprises.

But, in the first place, a great number of these licensed
individuals are landed proprietors, and you count them twice.
Further, it may be safely said that, of the whole number of
licensed manufacturers and merchants, a fourth at most realize
profits, another fourth hold their own, and the rest are
constantly running behind in their business.  Take, then, half at
most of the six million so-called leaders in enterprises, which
we will add to the very problematical twelve million landed
proprietors, and we shall attain a total of fifteen million
Frenchmen in a position, by their education, their industry,
their capital, their credit, their property, to engage in
competition.  For the rest of the nation, or nineteen million
souls, competition, like Henri IV.'s pullet in the pot, is a dish
which they produce for the class which can pay for it, but which
they never touch.

Another difficulty.  These nineteen million men, within whose
reach competition never comes, are hirelings of the competitors.
In the same way formerly the serfs fought for the lords, but
without being able themselves to carry a banner or put an army on
foot.  Now, if competition cannot by itself become the common
condition, why should not those for whom it offers nothing but
perils, exact guarantees from the barons whom they serve?  And if
these guarantees can not be denied them, how could they be other
than barriers to competition, just as the truce of God, invented
by the bishops, was a barrier to feudal wars?  By the
constitution of society, I said a little while ago, competition
is an exceptional matter, a privilege; now I ask how it is
possible for this privilege to coexist with equality of rights?

And think you, when I demand for consumers and wage-receivers
guarantees against competition, that it is a socialist's dream?
Listen to two of your most illustrious confreres, whom you will
not accuse of performing an infernal work.

M. Rossi (Volume I., Lecture 16) recognizes in the State the
right to regulate labor, WHEN THE DANGER IS TOO GREAT AND THE
GUARANTEES INSUFFICIENT, which means always.  For the legislator
must secure public order by PRINCIPLES and LAWS: he does not
wait for unforeseen facts to arise in order that he may drive
them back with an arbitrary hand.  Elsewhere (Volume II., pp.
73-77) the same professor points out, as consequences of
exaggerated competition, the incessant formation of a financial
and landed aristocracy and the approaching downfall of small
holders, and he raises the cry of alarm.  M. Blanqui, on his
side, declares that the organization of labor is recognized by
economic science as in the order of the day (he has since
retracted the statement), urges the participation of workers in
the profits and the advent of the collective laborer, and
thunders continually against the monopolies, prohibitions, and
tyranny of capital.  Qui habet aures audiendi audiat!  M. Rossi,
as a writer on criminal law, decrees against the robberies of
competition; M. Blanqui, as examining magistrate, proclaims the
guilty parties: it is the counterpart of the duet sung just now
by MM. Reybaud and Dunoyer.  When the latter cry HOSANNA, the
former respond, like the Fathers in the Councils, ANATHEMA.

But, it will be said, MM. Blanqui and Rossi mean to strike only
the ABUSES of competition; they have taken care not to proscribe
the PRINCIPLE, and in that they are thoroughly in accord with
MM. Reybaud and Dunoyer.

I protest against this distinction, in the interest of the fame
of the two professors.

In fact, abuse has invaded everything, and the exception has
become the rule.  When M. Troplong, defending, with all the
economists, the liberty of commerce, admitted that the coalition
of the cab companies was one of those facts against which the
legislator finds himself absolutely powerless, and which seem to
contradict the sanest notions of social economy, he still had the
consolation of saying to himself that such a fact was wholly
exceptional, and that there was reason to believe that it would
not become general.  Now, this fact has become general: the most
conservative jurisconsult has only to put his head out of his
window to see that today absolutely everything has been
monopolized through competition,--transportation (by land, rail,
and water), wheat and flour, wine and brandy, wood, coal, oil,
iron, fabrics, salt, chemical products, etc.  It is sad for
jurisprudence, that twin sister of political economy, to see its
grave anticipations contradicted in less than a lustre, but it is
sadder still for a great nation to be led by such poor geniuses
and to glean the few ideas which sustain its life from the
brushwood of their writings.

In theory we have demonstrated that competition, on its useful
side, should be universal and carried to its maximum of
intensity; but that, viewed on its negative side, it must be
everywhere stifled, even to the last vestige.  Are the economists
in a position to effect this elimination?  Have they foreseen the
consequences, calculated the difficulties?  If the answer
should be affirmative, I should have the boldness to propose the
following case to them for solution.

A treaty of coalition, or rather of association,--for the courts
would be greatly embarrassed to define either term,--has just
united in one company all the coal mines in the basin of the
Loire.  On complaint of the municipalities of Lyons and Saint
Etienne, the ministry has appointed a commission charged with
examining the character and tendencies of this frightful society.

Well, I ask, what can the intervention of power, with the
assistance of civil law and political economy, accomplish here?

They cry out against coalition.  But can the proprietors of mines
be prevented from associating, from reducing their general
expenses and costs of exploitation, and from working their mines
to better advantage by a more perfect understanding with each
other?  Shall they be ordered to begin their old war over again,
and ruin themselves by increased expenses, waste,
over-production, disorder, and decreased prices?  All that is

Shall they be prevented from increasing their prices so as to
recover the interest on their capital?  Then let them be
protected themselves against any demands for increased wages on
the part of the workmen; let the law concerning joint-stock
companies be reenacted; let the sale of shares be prohibited; and
when all these measures shall have been taken, as the
capitalist-proprietors of the basin cannot justly be forced to
lose capital invested under a different condition of things, let
them be indemnified.

Shall a tariff be imposed upon them?  That would be a law of
maximum.  The State would then have to put itself in the place of
the exploiters; keep the accounts of their capital, interest, and
office expenses; regulate the wages of the miners, the salaries
of the engineers and directors, the price of the wood employed in
the extraction of the coal, the expenditure for material; and,
finally, determine the normal and legitimate rate of profit.  All
this cannot be done by ministerial decree: a law is necessary.
Will the legislator dare, for the sake of a special industry, to
change the public law of the French, and put power in the place
of property?  Then of two things one: either commerce in coals
will fall into the hands of the State, or else the State must
find some means of reconciling liberty and order in carrying on
the mining industry, in which case the socialists will ask that
what has been executed at one point be imitated at all points.

The coalition of the Loire mines has posited the social question
in terms which permit no more evasion.  Either competition,--that
is, monopoly and what follows; or exploitation by the
State,--that is, dearness of labor and continuous impoverishment;
or else, in short, a solution based upon equality,--in other
words, the organization of labor, which involves the negation of
political economy and the end of property.

But the economists do not proceed with this abrupt logic: they
love to bargain with necessity.  M. Dupin (session of the Academy
of Moral and Political Sciences, June 10, 1843) expresses the
opinion that, "though competition may be useful within the
nation, it must be prevented between nations."

To PREVENT or to LET ALONE,--such is the eternal alternative of
the economists: beyond it their genius does not go.  In vain is
it cried out at them that it is not a question of PREVENTING
anything or of PERMITTING everything; that what is asked of
them, what society expects of them, is a RECONCILIATION: this
double idea does not enter their head.

"It is necessary," M. Dunoyer replies to M. Dupin, "to
DISTINGUISH theory from practice."

My God! everybody knows that M. Dunoyer, inflexible as to
principles in his works, is very accommodating as to practice in
the Council of State.  But let him condescend to once ask himself
this question:  Why am I obliged to continually distinguish
practice from theory?  Why do they not harmonize?

M. Blanqui, as a lover of peace and harmony, supports the learned
M. Dunoyer,--that is, theory.  Nevertheless he thinks, with M.
Dupin,--that is, with practice,--that competition is not EXEMPT
FROM REPROACH.  So afraid is M. Blanqui of calumniating and
stirring up the fire!

M. Dupin is obstinate in his opinion.  He cites, as evils for
which competition is responsible, fraud, sale by false weights,
the exploitation of children.  All doubtless in order to prove
that competition WITHIN THE NATION may be useful!

M. Passy, with his usual logic, observes that there will always
be dishonest people who, etc.  Accuse human nature, he cries, but
not competition.

At the very outset M. Passy's logic wanders from the question.
Competition is reproached with the inconveniences which result
from its nature, not with the frauds of which it is the occasion
or pretext.  A manufacturer finds a way of replacing a workman
who costs him three francs a day by a woman to whom he gives but
one franc.  This expedient is the only one by which he can meet a
falling market and keep his establishment in motion.  Soon to the
working women he will add children.  Then, forced by the
necessities of war, he will gradually reduce wages and add to the
hours of labor.  Where is the guilty party here?  This argument
may be turned about in a hundred ways and applied to all
industries without furnishing any ground for accusing human

M. Passy himself is obliged to admit it when he adds:  "As for
the compulsory labor of children, the fault is on the parents."
Exactly.  And the fault of the parents on whom?

"In Ireland," continues this orator, "there is no competition,
and yet poverty is extreme."

On this point M. Passy's ordinary logic has been betrayed by an
extraordinary lack of memory.  In Ireland there is a complete,
universal monopoly of the land, and unlimited, desperate
competition for farms.  Competition-monopoly are the two balls
which unhappy Ireland drags, one after each foot.

When the economists are tired of accusing human nature, the greed
of parents, and the turbulence of radicals, they find delectation
in picturing the felicity of the proletariat.  But there again
they cannot agree with each other or with themselves; and nothing
better depicts the anarchy of competition than the disorder of
their ideas.

Today the wife of the workingman dresses in elegant robes which
in a previous century great ladies would not have disdained.--M.
Chevalier: Lecture 4.

And this is the same M. Chevalier who, according to his own
calculation, estimates that the total national income would give
thirteen cents a day to each individual.  Some economists even
reduce this figure to eleven cents.  Now, as all that goes to
make up the large fortunes must come out of this sum, we may
accept the estimate of M. de Morogues that the daily income of
half the French people does not exceed five cents each.

"But," continues M. Chevalier, with mystical exaltation, "does
not happiness consist in the harmony of desires and enjoyments,
in thebalance of needs and satisfactions?  Does it not consist in
a certain condition of soul, the conditions of which it is not
the function of political economy to prevent, and which it is not
its mission to engender?  This is the work of religion and

Economist, Horace would say to M: Chevalier, if he were living at
the present day, attend simply to my income, and leave me to take
care of my soul:  Det vitam, det opes; {ae}quum mi animum ipse

M. Dunoyer again has the floor:

It would be easy, in many cities, on holidays, to confound the
working class with the bourgeois class [why are there two
classes?], so fine is the dress of the former.  No less has been
the progress in nourishment.  Food is at once more abundant, more
substantial, and more varied.  Bread is better everywhere.  Meat,
soup, white bread, have become, in many factory towns, infinitely
more common than they used to be.  In short, the average duration
of life has been raised from thirty-five years to forty.

Farther on M. Dunoyer gives a picture of English fortunes
according to Marshall.  It appears from this picture that in
England two million five hundred thousand families have an income
of only two hundred and forty dollars.  Now, in England an income
of two hundred and forty dollars corresponds to an income of one
hundred and forty-six dollars in our country, which, divided
between four persons, gives each thirty-six dollars and a half,
or ten cents a day.  That is not far from the thirteen cents
which M. Chevalier allows to each individual in France: the
difference in favor of the latter arises from the fact that, the
progress of wealth being less advanced in France, poverty is
likewise less.  What must one think of the economists' luxuriant
descriptions or of their figures?

"Pauperism has increased to such an extent in England," confesses
M. Blanqui, "that the English government has had to seek a refuge
in those frightful work-houses". . . .

As a matter of fact, those pretended work-houses, where the work
consists in ridiculous and fruitless occupations, are, whatever
may be said, simply torture-houses.  For to a reasonable being
there is no torture like that of turning a mill without grain and
without flour, with the sole purpose of avoiding rest, without
thereby escaping idleness.

"This organization [the organization of competition]," continues
M. Blanqui, "tends to make all the profits of labor pass into the
hands of capital. . . .  It is at Reims, at Mulhouse, at
Saint-Quentin, as at Manchester, at Leeds, at Spitalfields, that
the existence of the workers is most precarious". . . .

Then follows a frightful picture of the misery of the workers.
Men, women, children, young girls, pass before you, starved,
blanched, ragged, wan, and wild.  The description ends with this

The workers in the mechanical industries can no longer supply
recruits for the army.

It would seem that these do not derive much benefit from M.
Dunoyer's white bread and soup.

M. Villerme regards the licentiousness of young working girls as
INEVITABLE.  Concubinage is their customary status; they are
entirely subsidized by employers, clerks, and students.  Although
as a general thing marriage is more attractive to the people than
to the bourgeoisie, there are many proletaires, Malthusians
without knowing it, who fear the family and go with the current.
Thus, as workingmen are flesh for cannon, workingwomen are flesh
for prostitution: that explains the elegant dressing on Sunday.
After all, why should these young women be expected to be more
virtuous than their mistresses?

M. Buret, crowned by the Academy:

I affirm that the working class is abandoned body and soul to the
good pleasure of industry.

The same writer says elsewhere:

The feeblest efforts of speculation may cause the price of bread
to vary a cent a pound and more: which represents $124,100 for
thirty-four million men.

I may remark, in passing, that the much-lamented Buret regarded
the idea of the existence of monopolists as a popular prejudice.
Well, sophist! monopolist or speculator, what matters the name,
if you admit the thing?

Such quotations would fill volumes.  But the object of this
treatise is not to set forth the contradictions of the economists
and to wage fruitless war upon persons.  Our object is loftier
and worthier: it is to unfold the System of Economical
Contradictions, which is quite a different matter.  Therefore we
will end this sad review here; and, before concluding, we will
throw a glance at the various means proposed whereby to remedy
the inconveniences of competition.

% 3.--Remedies against competition.

Can competition in labor be abolished?

It would be as well worth while to ask if personality, liberty,
individual responsibility can be suppressed.

Competition, in fact, is the expression of collective activity;
just as wages, considered in its highest acceptation, is the
expression of the merit and demerit, in a word, the
responsibility, of the laborer.  It is vain to declaim and revolt
against these two essential forms of liberty and discipline in
labor.  Without a theory of wages there is no distribution, no
justice; without an organization of competition there is no
social guarantee, consequently no solidarity.

The socialists have confounded two essentially distinct things
when, contrasting the union of the domestic hearth with
industrial competition, they have asked themselves if society
could not be constituted precisely like a great family all of
whose members would be bound by ties of blood, and not as a sort
of coalition in which each is held back by the law of his own

The family is not, if I may venture to so speak, the type, the
organic molecule, of society.  In the family, as M. de Bonald has
very well observed, there exists but one moral being, one mind,
one soul, I had almost said, with the Bible, one flesh.  The
family is the type and the cradle of monarchy and the patriciate:
in it resides and is preserved the idea of authority and
sovereignty, which is being obliterated more and more in the
State.  It was on the model of the family that all the ancient
and feudal societies were organized, and it is precisely against
this old patriarchal constitution that modern democracy protests
and revolts.

The constitutive unit of society is the workshop.

Now, the workshop necessarily implies an interest as a body and
private interests, a collective person and individuals.  Hence a
system of relations unknown in the family, among which the
opposition of the collective will, represented by the EMPLOYER,
and individual wills, represented by the WAGE-RECEIVERS, figures
in the front rank.  Then come the relations from shop to shop,
from capital to capital,--in other words, competition and
association.  For competition and association are supported by
each other; they do not exist independently; very far from
excluding each other, they are not even divergent.  Whoever says
competition already supposes a common object; competition, then,
is not egoism, and the most deplorable error of socialism
consists in having regarded it as the subversion of society.

Therefore there can be no question here of destroying
competition, as impossible as to destroy liberty; the
problem is to find its equilibrium, I would willingly say its
police.  For every force, every form of spontaneity, whether
individual or collective, must receive its determination: in this
respect it is the same with competition as with intelligence and
liberty.  How, then, will competition be harmoniously determined
in society?

We have heard the reply of M. Dunoyer, speaking for political
economy:  Competition must be determined by itself.  In other
words, according to M. Dunoyer and all the economists, the remedy
for the inconveniences of competition is more competition; and,
since political economy is the theory of property, of the
absolute right of use and abuse, it is clear that political
economy has no other answer to make.  Now, this is as if it
should be pretended that the education of liberty is effected by
liberty, the instruction of the mind by the mind, the
determination of value by value, all of which propositions are
evidently tautological and absurd.

And, in fact, to confine ourselves to the subject under
discussion, it is obvious that competition, practised for itself
and with no other object than to maintain a vague and discordant
independence, can end in nothing, and that its oscillations are
eternal.  In competition the struggling elements are capital,
machinery, processes, talent, and experience,--that is, capital
again; victory is assured to the heaviest battalions.  If, then,
competition is practised only to the advantage of private
interests, and if its social effects have been neither determined
by science nor reserved by the State, there will be in
competition, as in democracy, a continual tendency from civil war
to oligarchy, from oligarchy to despotism, and then dissolution
and return to civil war, without end and without rest.  That is
why competition, abandoned to itself, can never arrive at
its own constitution: like value, it needs a superior principle
to socialize and define it.  These facts are henceforth well
enough established to warrant us in considering them above
criticism, and to excuse us from returning to them.  Political
economy, so far as the police of competition is concerned, having
no means but competition itself, and unable to have any other, is
shown to be powerless.

It remains now to inquire what solution socialism contemplates.
A single example will give the measure of its means, and will
permit us to come to general conclusions regarding it.

Of all modern socialists M. Louis Blanc, perhaps, by his
remarkable talent, has been most successful in calling public
attention to his writings.  In his "Organization of Labor," after
having traced back the problem of association to a single point,
competition, he unhesitatingly pronounces in favor of its
abolition.  From this we may judge to what an extent this writer,
generally so cautious, is deceived as to the value of political
economy and the range of socialism.  On the one hand, M. Blanc,
receiving his ideas ready made from I know not what source,
giving everything to his century and nothing to history, rejects
absolutely, in substance and in form, political economy, and
deprives himself of the very materials of organization; on the
other, he attributes to tendencies revived from all past epochs,
which he takes for new, a reality which they do not possess, and
misconceives the nature of socialism, which is exclusively
critical.  M. Blanc, therefore, has given us the spectacle of a
vivid imagination ready to confront an impossibility; he has
believed in the divination of genius; but he must have perceived
that science does not improvise itself, and that, be one's name
Adolphe Boyer, Louis Blanc, or J. J. Rousseau, provided there is
nothing in experience, there is nothing in the mind.

M. Blanc begins with this declaration:

We cannot understand those who have imagined I know not what
mysterious coupling of two opposite principles.  To graft
association upon competition is a poor idea: it is to substitute
hermaphrodites for eunuchs.

These three lines M. Blanc will always have reason to regret.
They prove that, when he published the fourth edition of his
book, he was as little advanced in logic as in political economy,
and that he reasoned about both as a blind man would reason about
colors.  Hermaphrodism, in politics, consists precisely in
exclusion, because exclusion always restores, in some form or
other and in the same degree, the idea excluded; and M. Blanc
would be greatly surprised were he to be shown, by his continual
mixture in his book of the most contrary principles,-- authority
and right, property and communism, aristocracy and equality,
labor and capital, reward and sacrifice, liberty and
dictatorship, free inquiry and religious faith,--that the real
hermaphrodite, the double- sexed publicist, is himself.  M.
Blanc, placed on the borders of democracy and socialism, one
degree lower than the Republic, two degrees beneath M. Barrot,
three beneath M. Thiers, is also, whatever he may say and
whatever he may do, a descendant through four generations from M.
Guizot, a doctrinaire.

"Certainly," cries M. Blanc, "we are not of those who
anathematize the principle of authority.  This principle we have
a thousand times had occasion to defend against attacks as
dangerous as absurd.  We know that, when organized force exists
nowhere in a society, despotism exists everywhere."

Thus, according to M. Blanc, the remedy for competition, or
rather, the means of abolishing it, consists in the intervention
of authority, in the substitution of the State for individual
liberty: it is the inverse of the system of the economists.

I should dislike to have M. Blanc, whose social tendencies are
well known, accuse me of making impolitic war upon him in
refuting him.  I do justice to M. Blanc's generous intentions; I
love and I read his works, and I am especially thankful to him
for the service he has rendered in revealing, in his "History of
Ten Years," the hopeless poverty of his party.  But no one can
consent to seem a dupe or an imbecile: now, putting personality
entirely aside, what can there be in common between socialism,
that universal protest, and the hotch-potch of old prejudices
which make up M. Blanc's republic?  M. Blanc is never tired of
appealing to authority, and socialism loudly declares itself
anarchistic; M. Blanc places power above society, and socialism
tends to subordinate it to society; M. Blanc makes social life
descend from above, and socialism maintains that it springs up
and grows from below; M. Blanc runs after politics, and socialism
is in quest of science.  No more hypocrisy, let me say to M.
Blanc: you desire neither Catholicism nor monarchy nor nobility,
but you must have a God, a religion, a dictatorship, a
censorship, a hierarchy, distinctions, and ranks.  For my part, I
deny your God, your authority, your sovereignty, your judicial
State, and all your representative mystifications; I want neither
Robespierre's censer nor Marat's rod; and, rather than submit to
your androgynous democracy, I would support the status quo.  For
sixteen years your party has resisted progress and blocked
opinion; for sixteen years it has shown its despotic origin by
following in the wake of power at the extremity of the left
centre: it is time for it to abdicate or undergo a metamorphosis.

Implacable theorists of authority, what then do you propose which
the government upon which you make war cannot accomplish in
a fashion more tolerable than yours?

M. Blanc's SYSTEM may be summarized in three points:

1. To give power a great force of initiative,--that is, in plain
English, to make absolutism omnipotent in order to realize a

2. To establish public workshops, and supply them with capital,
at the State's expense.

3.  To extinguish private industry by the competition of national

And that is all.

Has M. Blanc touched the problem of value, which involves in
itself alone all others?  He does not even suspect its existence.

Has he given a theory of distribution?  No.  Has he solved the
antinomy of the division of labor, perpetual cause of the
workingman's ignorance, immorality, and poverty?  No.  Has he
caused the contradiction of machinery and wages to disappear, and
reconciled the rights of association with those of liberty?  On
the contrary, M. Blanc consecrates this contradiction.  Under the
despotic protection of the State, he admits in principle the
inequality of ranks and wages, adding thereto, as compensation,
the ballot.  Are not workingmen who vote their regulations and
elect their leaders free?  It may very likely happen that these
voting workingmen will admit no command or difference of pay
among them: then, as nothing will have been provided for the
satisfaction of industrial capacities, while maintaining
political equality, dissolution will penetrate into the workshop,
and, in the absence of police intervention, each will return to
his own affairs.  These fears seem to M. Blanc neither serious
nor well-founded: he awaits the test calmly, very sure that
society will not go out of his way to contradict him.

And such complex and intricate questions as those of taxation,
credit, international trade, property, heredity,--has M. Blanc
fathomed them?  Has he solved the problem of population?  No, no,
no, a thousand times no: when M. Blanc cannot solve a difficulty,
he eliminates it.  Regarding population, he says:

As only poverty is prolific, and as the social workshop will
cause poverty to disappear, there is no reason for giving it any

In vain does M. de Sismondi, supported by universal experience,
cry out to him:

We have no confidence in those who exercise delegated powers.  We
believe that any corporation will do its business worse than
those who are animated by individual interest; that on the part
of the directors there will be negligence, display, waste,
favoritism, fear of compromise, all the faults, in short, to be
noticed in the administration of the public wealth as contrasted
with private wealth.  We believe, further, that in an assembly of
stockholders will be found only carelessness, caprice,
negligence, and that a mercantile enterprise would be constantly
compromised and soon ruined, if it were dependent upon a
deliberative commercial assembly.

M. Blanc hears nothing; he drowns all other sounds with his own
sonorous phrases; private interest he replaces by devotion to the
public welfare; for competition he substitutes emulation and
rewards.  After having posited industrial hierarchy as a
principle, it being a necessary consequence of his faith in God,
authority, and genius, he abandons himself to mystic powers,
idols of his heart and his imagination.

Thus M. Blanc begins by a coup d' Etat, or rather, according to
his original expression, by an application of the FORCE OF
INITIATIVE which he gives to power; and he levies an
extraordinary tax upon the rich in order to supply the
proletariat with capital.  M. Blanc's logic is very simple,--it
is that of the Republic: power can accomplish what the people
want, and what the people want is right.  A singular fashion
of reforming society, this of repressing its most spontaneous
tendencies, denying its most authentic manifestations, and,
instead of generalizing comfort by the regular development of
traditions, displacing labor and income!  But, in truth, what is
the good of these disguises?  Why so much beating about the bush?
Was it not simpler to adopt the agrarian law straightway?  Could
not power, by virtue of its force of initiative, at once declare
all capital and tools the property of the State, save an
indemnity to be granted to the present holders as a transitional
measure?  By means of this peremptory, but frank and sincere,
policy, the economic field would have been cleared away; it would
not have cost utopia more, and M. Blanc could then have proceeded
at his ease, and without any hindrance, to the organization of

But what do I say? organize!  The whole organic work of M. Blanc
consists in this great act of expropriation, or substitution, if
you prefer: industry once displaced and republicanized and the
great monopoly established, M. Blanc does not doubt that
production will go on exactly as one would wish; he does not
conceive it possible that any one can raise even a single
difficulty in the way of what he calls his SYSTEM.  And, in
fact, what objection can be offered to a conception so radically
null, so intangible as that of M. Blanc?  The most curious part
of his book is in the select collection which he has made of
objections proposed by certain incredulous persons, which he
answers, as may be imagined, triumphantly.  These critics had not
seen that, in discussing M. Blanc's SYSTEM, they were arguing
about the dimensions, weight, and form of a mathematical point.
Now, as it has happened, the controversy maintained by M. Blanc
has taught him more than his own meditations had done; and one
can see that, if the objections had continued, he would have
ended by discovering what he thought he had invented,--the
organization of labor.

But, in fine, has the aim, however narrow, which M. Blanc
pursued,-- namely, the abolition of competition and the guarantee
of success to an enterprise patronized and backed by the
State,--been attained?  On this subject I will quote the
reflections of a talented economist, M. Joseph Garnier, to whose
words I will permit myself to add a few comments.

The government, according to M. Blanc, would choose MORAL
WORKMEN, and would give them GOOD WAGES.

So M. Blanc must have men made expressly for him: he does not
flatter himself that he can act on any sort of temperaments.  As
for wages, M. Blanc promises that they shall be GOOD; that is
easier than to define their measure.

M. Blanc admits by his hypothesis that these workshops would
yield a net product, and, further, would compete so successfully
with private industry that the latter would change into national

How could that be, if the cost of the national workshops is
higher than that of the free workshops?  I have shown in the
third chapter that three hundred workmen in a mill do not produce
for their employer, among them all, a regular net income of
twenty thousand francs, and that these twenty thousand francs,
distributed among the three hundred laborers, would add but
eighteen centimes a day to their income.  Now, this is true of
all industries.  How will the national workshop, which owes ITS
WORKMEN GOOD WAGES, make up this deficit?  By emulation, says M.

M. Blanc points with extreme complacency to the Leclaire
establishment, a society of house-painters doing a very
successful business, which he regards as a living
demonstration of his system.  M. Blanc might have added to this
example a multitude of similar societies, which would prove quite
as much as the Leclaire establishment,--that is, no more.  The
Leclaire establishment is a collective monopoly, supported by the
great society which envelops it.  Now, the question is whether
entire society can become a monopoly, in M. Blanc's sense and
patterned after the Leclaire establishment: I deny it positively.
But a fact touching more closely the question before us, and
which M. Blanc has not taken into consideration, is that it
follows from the distribution accounts furnished by the Leclaire
establishment that, the wages paid being much above the general
average, the first thing to do in a reorganization of society
would be to start up competition with the Leclaire establishment,
either among its own workmen or outside.

Wages would be regulated by the government.  The members of the
social workshop would dispose of them as they liked, and THE

Is M. Blanc a communist, yes or no?  Let him declare himself once
for all, instead of holding off; and if communism does not make
him more intelligible, we shall at least know what he wants.

In reading the supplement in which M. Blanc has seen fit to
combat the objections which some journals have raised, we see
more clearly the incompleteness of his conception, daughter of at
least three fathers,-- Saint-Simonism, Fourierism, and
communism,--with the aid of politics and a little, a very little,
political economy.

According to his explanations, the State would be only the
regulator, legislator, protector of industry, not the universal
manufacturer or producer.  But as he exclusively protects the
social workshops to destroy private industry, he necessarily
brings up in monopoly and falls back into the Saint-Simonian
theory in spite of himself, at least so far as production is

M. Blanc cannot deny it: his SYSTEM is directed against private
industry; and with him power, by its force of initiative, tends
to extinguish all individual initiative, to proscribe free labor.
The coupling of contraries is odious to M. Blanc: accordingly we
see that, after having sacrificed competition to association, he
sacrifices to it liberty also.  I am waiting for him to abolish
the family.

Nevertheless hierarchy would result from the elective principle,
as in Fourierism, as in constitutional politics.  But these
social workshops again, regulated by law,--will they be anything
but corporations?  What is the bond of corporations?  The law.
Who will make the law?  The government.  You suppose that it will
be good?  Well, experience has shown that it has never been a
success in regulating the innumerable accidents of industry.  You
tell us that it will fix the rate of profits, the rate of wages;
you hope that it will do it in such a way that laborers and
capital will take refuge in the social workshop.  But you do not
tell us how equilibrium will be established between these
workshops which will have a tendency to life in common, to the
phalanstery; you do not tell us how these workshops will avoid
competition within and without; how they will provide for the
excess of population in relation to capital; how the
manufacturing social workshops will differ from those of the
fields; and many other things besides.  I know well that you will
answer:  By the specific virtue of the law!  And if your
government, your State, knows not how to make it?  Do you not see
that you are sliding down a declivity, and that you are obliged
to grasp at something similar to the existing law?  It is easy to
see by reading you that you are especially devoted to the
invention of a power susceptible of application to your system;
but I declare, after reading you carefully, that in my opinion
you have as yet no clear and precise idea of what you need.  What
you lack, as well as all of us, is the true conception of liberty
and equality, which you would not like to disown, and which you
are obliged to sacrifice, whatever precautions you may take.

Unacquainted with the nature and functions of power, you have not
dared to stop for a single explanation; you have not given the
slightest example.

Suppose we admit that the workshops succeed as producers; there
will also be commercial workshops to put products in circulation
and effect exchanges.  And who then will regulate the price?
Again the law?  In truth, I tell you, you will need a new
appearance on Mount Sinai; otherwise you will never get out of
your difficulties, you, your Council of State, your chamber of
representatives, or your areopagus of senators.

The correctness of these reflections cannot be questioned.  M.
Blanc, with his organization by the State, is obliged always to
end where he should have begun (so beginning, he would have been
saved the trouble of writing his book),--that is, in the STUDY OF
ECONOMIC SCIENCE.  As his critic very well says:  "M. Blanc has
made the grave mistake of using political strategy in dealing
with questions which are not amenable to such treatment"; he has
tried to summon the government to a fulfillment of its
obligations, and he has succeeded only in demonstrating more
clearly than ever the incompatibility of socialism with
haranguing and parliamentary democracy.  His pamphlet, all
enamelled with eloquent pages, does honor to his literary
capacity: as for the philosophical value of the book, it would be
absolutely the same if the author had confined himself to writing
on each page, in large letters, this single phrase: I PROTEST.

To sum up:

Competition, as an economic position or phase, considered in its
origin, is the necessary result of the intervention of machinery,
of the establishment of the workshop, and of the theory of
reduction of general costs; considered in its own significance
and in its tendency, it is the mode by which collective activity
manifests and exercises itself, the expression of social
spontaneity, the emblem of democracy and equality, the most
energetic instrument for the constitution of value, the support
of association.  As the essay of individual forces, it is
the guarantee of their liberty, the first moment of their
harmony, the form of responsibility which unites them all and
makes them solidary.

But competition abandoned to itself and deprived of the direction
of a superior and efficacious principle is only a vague movement,
an endless oscillation of industrial power, eternally tossed
about between those two equally disastrous extremes,--on the one
hand, corporations and patronage, to which we have seen the
workshop give birth, and, on the other, monopoly, which will be
discussed in the following chapter.

Socialism, while protesting, and with reason, against this
anarchical competition, has as yet proposed nothing satisfactory
for its regulation, as is proved by the fact that we meet
everywhere, in the utopias which have seen the light, the
determination or socialization of value abandoned to arbitrary
control, and all reforms ending, now in hierarchical corporation,
now in State monopoly, or the tyranny of communism.



Monopoly, the exclusive commerce, exploitation, or enjoyment of a

Monopoly is the natural opposite of competition.  This simple
observation suffices, as we have remarked, to overthrow the
utopias based upon the idea of abolishing competition, as if its
contrary were association and fraternity.  Competition is the
vital force which animates the collective being: to destroy it,
if such a supposition were possible, would be to kill society.

But, the moment we admit competition as a necessity, it implies
the idea of monopoly, since monopoly is, as it were, the seat of
each competing individuality.  Accordingly the economists have
demonstrated--and M. Rossi has formally admitted it--that
monopoly is the form of social possession, outside of which there
is no labor, no product, no exchange, no wealth.  Every landed
possession is a monopoly; every industrial utopia tends to
establish itself as a monopoly; and the same must be said of
other functions not included in these two categories.

Monopoly in itself, then, does not carry the idea of injustice;
in fact, there is something in it which, pertaining to society as
well as to man, legitimates it: that is the POSITIVE side of the
principle which we are about to examine.

But monopoly, like competition, becomes anti-social and
disastrous: how does this happen?  By ABUSE, reply the
economists.  And it is to defining and repressing the abuses of
monopoly that the magistrates apply themselves; it is in
denouncing them that the new school of economists glories.

We shall show that the so-called abuses of monopoly are only the
effects of the development, in a NEGATIVE sense, of legal
monopoly; that they cannot be separated from their principle
without ruining this principle; consequently, that they are
inaccessible to the law, and that all repression in this
direction is arbitrary and unjust.  So that monopoly, the
constitutive principle of society and the condition of wealth, is
at the same time and in the same degree a principle of spoliation
and pauperism; that, the more good it is made to produce, the
more evil is received from it; that without it progress comes to
a standstill, and that with it labor becomes stationary and
civilization disappears.

% 1.--Necessity of monopoly.

Thus monopoly is the inevitable end of competition, which
engenders it by a continual denial of itself: this generation of
monopoly is already its justification.  For, since competition is
inherent in society as motion is in living beings, monopoly which
comes in its train, which is its object and its end, and without
which competition would not have been accepted,--monopoly is and
will remain legitimate as long as competition, as long as
mechanical processes and industrial combinations, as long, in
fact, as the division of labor and the constitution of values
shall be necessities and laws.

Therefore by the single fact of its logical generation monopoly
is justified.  Nevertheless this justification would seem of
little force and would end only in a more energetic rejection of
competition than ever, if monopoly could not in turn posit itself
by itself and as a principle.

In the preceding chapters we have seen that division of labor is
the specification of the workman considered especially as
intelligence; that the creation of machinery and the organization
of the workshop express his liberty; and that, by competition,
man, or intelligent liberty, enters into action.  Now, monopoly
is the expression of victorious liberty, the prize of the
struggle, the glorification of genius; it is the strongest
stimulant of all the steps in progress taken since the beginning
of the world: so true is this that, as we said just now, society,
which cannot exist with it, would not have been formed without

Where, then, does monopoly get this singular virtue, which the
etymology of the word and the vulgar aspect of the thing would
never lead us to suspect?

Monopoly is at bottom simply the autocracy of man over himself:
it is the dictatorial right accorded by nature to every producer
of using his faculties as he pleases, of giving free play to his
thought in whatever direction it prefers, of speculating, in such
specialty as he may please to choose, with all the power of his
resources, of disposing sovereignly of the instruments which he
has created and of the capital accumulated by his economy for any
enterprise the risks of which he may see fit to accept on the
express condition of enjoying alone the fruits of his discovery
and the profits of his venture.

This right belongs so thoroughly to the essence of liberty that
to deny it is to mutilate man in his body, in his soul, and in
the exercise of his faculties, and society, which progresses only
by the free initiative of individuals, soon lacking explorers,
finds itself arrested in its onward march.

It is time to give body to all these ideas by the testimony of

I know a commune where from time immemorial there had been no
roads either for the clearing of lands or for communication with
the outside world.  During three-fourths of the year all
importation or exportation of goods was prevented; a barrier of
mud and marsh served as a protection at once against any invasion
from without and any excursion of the inhabitants of the holy and
sacred community.  Six horses, in the finest weather, scarcely
sufficed to move a load that any jade could easily have taken
over a good road.  The mayor resolved, in spite of the council,
to build a road through the town.  For a long time he was
derided, cursed, execrated.  They had got along well enough
without a road up to the time of his administration: why need he
spend the money of the commune and waste the time of farmers in
road-duty, cartage, and compulsory service?  It was to satisfy
his pride that Monsieur the Mayor desired, at the expense of the
poor farmers, to open such a fine avenue for his city friends who
would come to visit him!  In spite of everything the road was
made and the peasants applauded!  What a difference! they said:
it used to take eight horses to carry thirty sacks to market, and
we were gone three days; now we start in the morning with two
horses, and are back at night.  But in all these remarks nothing
further was heard of the mayor.  The event having justified him,
they spoke of him no more: most of them, in fact, as I found out,
felt a spite against him.

This mayor acted after the manner of Aristides.  Suppose that,
wearied by the absurd clamor, he had from the beginning proposed
to his constituents to build the road at his expense, provided
they would pay him toll for fifty years, each, however,
remaining free to travel through the fields, as in the past: in
what respect would this transaction have been fraudulent?

That is the history of society and monopolists.

Everybody is not in a position to make a present to his
fellow-citizens of a road or a machine: generally the inventor,
after exhausting his health and substance, expects reward.  Deny
then, while still scoffing at them, to Arkwright, Watt, and
Jacquard the privilege of their discoveries; they will shut
themselves up in order to work, and possibly will carry their
secret to the grave.  Deny to the settler possession of the soil
which he clears, and no one will clear it.

But, they say, is that true right, social right, fraternal right?

That which is excusable on emerging from primitive communism, an
effect of necessity, is only a temporary expedient which must
disappear in face of a fuller understanding of the rights and
duties of man and society.

I recoil from no hypothesis: let us see, let us investigate.  It
is already a great point that the opponents confess that, during
the first period of civilization, things could not have gone
otherwise.  It remains to ascertain whether the institutions of
this period are really, as has been said, only temporary, or
whether they are the result of laws immanent in society and
eternal.  Now, the thesis which I maintain at this moment is the
more difficult because in direct opposition to the general
tendency, and because I must directly overturn it myself by its

I pray, then, that I may be told how it is possible to make
appeal to the principles of sociability, fraternity, and
solidarity, when society itself rejects every solidary and
fraternal transaction?  At the beginning of each industry, at the
first gleam of a discovery, the man who invents is isolated;
society abandons him and remains in the background.  To put
it better, this man, relatively to the idea which he has
conceived and the realization of which he pursues, becomes in
himself alone entire society.  He has no longer any associates,
no longer any collaborators, no longer any sureties; everybody
shuns him: on him alone falls the responsibility; to him alone,
then, the advantages of the speculation.

But, it is insisted, this is blindness on the part of society, an
abandonment of its most sacred rights and interests, of the
welfare of future generations; and the speculator, better
informed or more fortunate, cannot fairly profit by the monopoly
which universal ignorance gives into his hands.

I maintain that this conduct on the part of society is, as far as
the present is concerned, an act of high prudence; and, as for
the future, I shall prove that it does not lose thereby.  I have
already shown in the second chapter, by the solution of the
antinomy of value, that the advantage of every useful discovery
is incomparably less to the inventor, whatever he may do, than to
society; I have carried the demonstration of this point even to
mathematical accuracy.  Later I shall show further that, in
addition to the profit assured it by every discovery, society
exercises over the privileges which it concedes, whether
temporarily or perpetually, claims of several kinds, which
largely palliate the excess of certain private fortunes, and the
effect of which is a prompt restoration of equilibrium.  But let
us not anticipate.

I observe, then, that social life manifests itself in a double

Development is effected by the free play of individual energies;
the mass is by its nature barren, passive, and hostile to
everything new.  It is, if I may venture to use the comparison,
the womb, sterile by itself, but to which come to deposit
themselves the germs created by private activity, which, in
hermaphroditic society, really performs the function of the male

But society preserves itself only so far as it avoids solidarity
with private speculations and leaves every innovation absolutely
to the risk and peril of individuals.  It would take but a few
pages to contain the list of useful inventions.  The enterprises
that have been carried to a successful issue may be numbered; no
figure would express the multitude of false ideas and imprudent
ventures which every day are hatched in human brains.  There is
not an inventor, not a workman, who, for one sane and correct
conception, has not given birth to thousands of chimeras; not an
intelligence which, for one spark of reason, does not emit
whirlwinds of smoke.  If it were possible to divide all the
products of the human reason into two parts, putting on one side
those that are useful, and on the other those on which strength,
thought, capital, and time have been spent in error, we should be
startled by the discovery that the excess of the latter over the
former is perhaps a billion per cent.  What would become of
society, if it had to discharge these liabilities and settle all
these bankruptcies?  What, in turn, would become of the
responsibility and dignity of the laborer, if, secured by the
social guarantee, he could, without personal risk, abandon
himself to all the caprices of a delirious imagination and trifle
at every moment with the existence of humanity?

Wherefore I conclude that what has been practised from the
beginning will be practised to the end, and that, on this point,
as on every other, if our aim is reconciliation, it is absurd to
think that anything that exists can be abolished.  For, the world
of ideas being infinite, like nature, and men, today as ever,
being subject to speculation,--that is, to error,--individuals
have a constant stimulus to speculate and society a constant
reason to be suspicious and cautious, wherefore monopoly never
lacks material.

To avoid this dilemma what is proposed?  Compensation?  In the
first place, compensation is impossible: all values being
monopolized, where would society get the means to indemnify the
monopolists?  What would be its mortgage?  On the other hand,
compensation would be utterly useless: after all the monopolies
had been compensated, it would remain to organize industry.
Where is the system?  Upon what is opinion settled?  What
problems have been solved?  If the organization is to be of the
hierarchical type, we reenter the system of monopoly; if of the
democratic, we return to the point of departure, for the
compensated industries will fall into the public domain,--that
is, into competition,--and gradually will become monopolies
again; if, finally, of the communistic, we shall simply have
passed from one impossibility to another, for, as we shall
demonstrate at the proper time, communism, like competition and
monopoly, is antinomical, impossible.

In order not to involve the social wealth in an unlimited and
consequently disastrous solidarity, will they content themselves
with imposing rules upon the spirit of invention and enterprise?
Will they establish a censorship to distinguish between men of
genius and fools?  That is to suppose that society knows in
advance precisely that which is to be discovered.  To submit the
projects of schemers to an advance examination is an a priori
prohibition of all movement.  For, once more, relatively to the
end which he has in view, there is a moment when each
manufacturer represents in his own person society itself, sees
better and farther than all other men combined, and frequently
without being able to explain himself or make himself
understood.  When Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo, Newton's
predecessors, came to the point of saying to Christian society,
then represented by the Church:  "The Bible is mistaken; the
earth revolves, and the sun is stationary," they were right
against society, which, on the strength of its senses and
traditions, contradicted them.  Could society then have accepted
solidarity with the Copernican system?  So little could it do it
that this system openly denied its faith, and that, pending the
accord of reason and revelation, Galileo, one of the responsible
inventors, underwent torture in proof of the new idea.  We are
more tolerant, I presume; but this very toleration proves that,
while according greater liberty to genius, we do not mean to be
less discreet than our ancestors.  Patents rain, but WITHOUT
GOVERNMENTAL GUARANTEE.  Property titles are placed in the
keeping of citizens, but neither the property list nor the
charter guarantee their value: it is for labor to make them
valuable.  And as for the scientific and other missions which the
government sometimes takes a notion to entrust to penniless
explorers, they are so much extra robbery and corruption.

In fact, society can guarantee to no one the capital necessary
for the testing of an idea by experiment; in right, it cannot
claim the results of an enterprise to which it has not
subscribed: therefore monopoly is indestructible.  For the rest,
solidarity would be of no service: for, as each can claim for his
whims the solidarity of all and would have the same right to
obtain the government's signature in blank, we should soon arrive
at the universal reign of caprice,--that is, purely and simply at
the statu quo.

Some socialists, very unhappily inspired--I say it with all the
force of my conscience--by evangelical abstractions, believe
that they have solved the difficulty by these fine maxims:
"Inequality of capacities proves the inequality of duties"; "You
have received more from nature, give more to your brothers," and
other high-sounding and touching phrases, which never fail of
their effect on empty heads, but which nevertheless are as simple
as anything that it is possible to imagine.  The practical
formula deduced from these marvellous adages is that each laborer
owes all his time to society, and that society should give back
to him in exchange all that is necessary to the satisfaction of
his wants in proportion to the resources at its disposal.

May my communistic friends forgive me!  I should be less severe
upon their ideas if I were not irreversibly convinced, in my
reason and in my heart, that communism, republicanism, and all
the social, political, and religious utopias which disdain facts
and criticism, are the greatest obstacle which progress has now
to conquer.  Why will they never understand that fraternity can
be established only by justice; that justice alone, the
condition, means, and law of liberty and fraternity, must be the
object of our study; and that its determination and formula must
be pursued without relaxation, even to the minutest details?  Why
do writers familiar with economic language forget that
superiority of talents is synonymous with superiority of wants,
and that, instead of expecting more from vigorous than from
ordinary personalities, society should constantly look out that
they do not receive more than they render, when it is already so
hard for the mass of mankind to render all that it receives?
Turn which way you will, you must always come back to the cash
book, to the account of receipts and expenditures, the sole
guarantee against large consumers as well as against small
producers.  The workman continually lives IN ADVANCE of his
production; his tendency is always to get CREDIT, contract DEBTS
and go into BANKRUPTCY; it is perpetually necessary to remind him

To suppose that the laborer of great capacity will content
himself, in favor of the weak, with half his wages, furnish his
services gratuitously, and produce, as the people say, FOR THE
KING OF PRUSSIA--that is, for that abstraction called society,
the sovereign, or my brothers,--is to base society on a
sentiment, I do not say beyond the reach of man, but one which,
erected systematically into a principle, is only a false virtue,
a dangerous hypocrisy.  Charity is recommended to us as a
reparation of the infirmities which afflict our fellows by
accident, and, viewing it in this light, I can see that charity
may be organized; I can see that, growing out of solidarity
itself, it may become simply justice.  But charity taken as an
instrument of equality and the law of equilibrium would be the
dissolution of society.  Equality among men is produced by the
rigorous and inflexible law of labor, the proportionality of
values, the sincerity of exchanges, and the equivalence of
functions,--in short, by the mathematical solution of all

That is why charity, the prime virtue of the Christian, the
legitimate hope of the socialist, the object of all the efforts
of the economist, is a social vice the moment it is made a
principle of constitution and a law; that is why certain
economists have been able to say that legal charity had caused
more evil in society than proprietary usurpation.  Man, like the
society of which he is a part, has a perpetual account current
with himself; all that he consumes he must produce.  Such is the
general rule, which no one can escape without being, ipso facto
struck with dishonor or suspected of fraud.  Singular idea,
truly,--that of decreeing, under pretext of fraternity, the
relative inferiority of the majority of men!  After this
beautiful declaration nothing will be left but to draw its
consequences; and soon, thanks to fraternity, aristocracy will be

Double the normal wages of the workman, and you invite him to
idleness, humiliate his dignity, and demoralize his conscience;
take away from him the legitimate price of his efforts, and you
either excite his anger or exalt his pride.  In either case you
damage his fraternal feelings.  On the contrary, make enjoyment
conditional upon labor, the only way provided by nature to
associate men and make them good and happy, and you go back under
the law of economic distribution, PRODUCTS ARE BOUGHT WITH
PRODUCTS.  Communism, as I have often complained, is the very
denial of society in its foundation, which is the progressive
equivalence of functions and capacities.  The communists, toward
whom all socialism tends, do not believe in equality by nature
and education; they supply it by sovereign decrees which they
cannot carry out, whatever they may do.  Instead of seeking
justice in the harmony of facts, they take it from their
feelings, calling justice everything that seems to them to be
love of one's neighbor, and incessantly confounding matters of
reason with those of sentiment.

Why then continually interject fraternity, charity, sacrifice,
and God into the discussion of economic questions?  May it not be
that the utopists find it easier to expatiate upon these grand
words than to seriously study social manifestations?

Fraternity!  Brothers as much as you please, provided I am the
big brother and you the little; provided society, our common
mother, honors my primogeniture and my services by doubling my
portion.  You will provide for my wants, you say, in proportion
to your resources.  I intend, on the contrary, that such
provision shall be in proportion to my labor; if not, I cease to

Charity!  I deny charity; it is mysticism.  In vain do you talk
to me of fraternity and love: I remain convinced that you love me
but little, and I feel very sure that I do not love you.  Your
friendship is but a feint, and, if you love me, it is from
self-interest.  I ask all that my products cost me, and only what
they cost me: why do you refuse me?

Sacrifice!  I deny sacrifice; it is mysticism.  Talk to me of
DEBT and CREDIT, the only criterion in my eyes of the just and
the unjust, of good and evil in society.  To each according to
his works, first; and if, on occasion, I am impelled to aid you,
I will do it with a good grace; but I will not be constrained.
To constrain me to sacrifice is to assassinate me.

God!  I know no God; mysticism again.  Begin by striking this
word from your remarks, if you wish me to listen to you; for
three thousand years of experience have taught me that whoever
talks to me of God has designs on my liberty or on my purse.  How
much do you owe me?  How much do I owe you?  That is my religion
and my God.

Monopoly owes its existence both to nature and to man: it has its
source at once in the profoundest depths of our conscience and in
the external fact of our individualization.  Just as in our body
and our mind everything has its specialty and property, so our
labor presents itself with a proper and specific character, which
constitutes its quality and value.  And as labor cannot manifest
itself without material or an object for its exercise, the person
necessarily attracting the thing, monopoly is established from
subject to object as infallibly as duration is constituted from
past to future.  Bees, ants, and other animals living in society
seem endowed individually only with automatism; with them soul
and instinct are almost exclusively collective.  That is why,
among such animals, there can be no room for privilege and
monopoly; why, even in their most volitional operations, they
neither consult nor deliberate.  But, humanity being
individualized in its plurality, man becomes inevitably a
monopolist, since, if not a monopolist, he is nothing; and the
social problem is to find out, not how to abolish, but how to
reconcile, all monopolies.

The most remarkable and the most immediate effects of monopoly

1. In the political order, the classification of humanity into
families, tribes, cities, nations, States: this is the elementary
division of humanity into groups and sub-groups of laborers,
distinguished by race, language, customs, and climate.  It was by
monopoly that the human race took possession of the globe, as it
will be by association that it will become complete sovereign

Political and civil law, as conceived by all legislators without
exception and as formulated by jurists, born of this patriotic
and national organization of societies, forms, in the series of
social contradictions, a first and vast branch, the study of
which by itself alone would demand four times more time than we
can give it in discussing the question of industrial economy
propounded by the Academy.

2. In the economic order, monopoly contributes to the increase of
comfort, in the first place by adding to the general wealth
through the perfecting of methods, and then by
CAPITALIZING,--that is, by consolidating the conquests of labor
obtained by division, machinery, and competition.  From this
effect of monopoly has resulted the economic fiction by which the
capitalist is considered a producer and capital an agent of
production; then, as a consequence of this fiction, the theory of

On this point we have a few considerations to present.  First let
us quote J. B. Say:

The value produced is the GROSS product: after the costs of
production have been deducted, this value is the NET product.

Considering a nation as a whole, it has no net product; for, as
products have no value beyond the costs of production, when these
costs are cut off, the entire value of the product is cut off.
National production, annual production, should always therefore
be understood as gross production.

The annual revenue is the gross revenue.

The term net production is applicable only when considering the
interests of one producer in opposition to those of other
producers.  The manager of an enterprise gets his PROFIT from
the value PRODUCED after deducting the value CONSUMED.  But
what to him is value consumed, such as the purchase of a
productive service, is so much income to the performer of the
service.--Treatise on Political Economy:  Analytical Table.

These definitions are irreproachable.  Unhappily J. B. Say did
not see their full bearing, and could not have foreseen that one
day his immediate successor at the College of France would attack
them.  M. Rossi has pretended to refute the proposition of J. B.
PRODUCT by this consideration,--that nations, no more than
individuals of enterprise, can produce without advances, and
that, if J. B. Say's formula were true, it would follow that the
axiom, Ex nihilo nihil fit, is not true

Now, that is precisely what happens.  Humanity, in imitation of
God, produces everything from nothing, de nihilo hilum just as it
is itself a product of nothing, just as its thought comes out of
the void; and M. Rossi would not have made such a mistake, if,
like the physiocrats, he had not confounded the products of the
INDUSTRIAL KINGDOM with those of the animal, vegetable, and
mineral kingdoms.  Political economy begins with labor; it is
developed by labor; and all that does not come from labor,
falling into the domain of pure utility,--that is, into the
category of things submitted to man's action, but not yet
rendered exchangeable by labor,--remains radically foreign to
political economy.  Monopoly itself, wholly established as it is
by a pure act of collective will, does not change these relations
at all, since, according to history, and according to the written
law, and according to economic theory, monopoly exists, or is
reputed to exist, only after labor's appearance.

Say's doctrine, therefore, is unassailable.  Relatively to the
man of enterprise, whose specialty always supposes other
manufacturers cooperating with him, profit is what remains of the
value produced after deducting the values consumed, among which
must be included the salary of the man of enterprise,--in other
words, his wages.  Relatively to society, which contains all
possible specialties, net product is identical with gross

But there is a point the explanation of which I have vainly
sought in Say and in the other economists,--to wit, how the
reality and legitimacy of net product is established.  For it is
plain that, in order to cause the disappearance of net product,
it would suffice to increase the wages of the workmen and the
price of the values consumed, the selling-price remaining the
same.  So that, there being nothing seemingly to distinguish net
product from a sum withheld in paying wages or, what amounts to
the same thing, from an assessment laid upon the consumer in
advance, net product has every appearance of an extortion
effected by force and without the least show of right.

This difficulty has been solved in advance in our theory of the
proportionality of values.

According to this theory, every exploiter of a machine, of an
idea, or of capital should be considered as a man who increases
with equal outlay the amount of a certain kind of products, and
consequently increases the social wealth by economizing time.
The principle of the legitimacy of the net product lies, then, in
the processes previously in use: if the new device succeeds,
there will be a surplus of values, and consequently a
profit,--that is, net product; if the enterprise rests on a false
basis, there will be a deficit in the gross product, and in the
long run failure and bankruptcy.  Even in the case--and it is the
most frequent-- where there is no innovation on the part of the
man of enterprise, the rule of net product remains applicable,
for the success of an industry depends upon the way in which it
is carried on.  Now, it being in accordance with the nature of
monopoly that the risk and peril of every enterprise should be
taken by the initiator, it follows that the net product belongs
to him by the most sacred title recognized among men,-- labor and

It is useless to recall the fact that the net product is often
exaggerated, either by fraudulently secured reductions of wages
or in some other way.  These are abuses which proceed, not from
the principle, but from human cupidity, and which remain outside
the domain of the theory.  For the rest, I have shown, in
discussing the constitution of value (Chapter II., % 2): 1, how
the net product can never exceed the difference resulting from
inequality of the means of production; 2, how the profit which
society reaps from each new invention is incomparably greater
than that of its originator.  As these points have been exhausted
once for all, I will not go over them again; I will simply
remark that, by industrial progress, the net product of the
ingenious tends steadily to decrease, while, on the other hand,
their comfort increases, as the concentric layers which make up
the trunk of a tree become thinner as the tree grows and as they
are farther removed from the centre.

By the side of net product, the natural reward of the laborer, I
have pointed out as one of the happiest effects of monopoly the
CAPITALIZATION of values, from which is born another sort of
profit,--namely, INTEREST, or the hire of capital.  As for
RENT, although it is often confounded with interest, and
although, in ordinary language, it is included with profit and
interest under the common expression REVENUE, it is a different
thing from interest; it is a consequence, not of monopoly, but of
property; it depends on a special theory., of which we will speak
in its place.

What, then, is this reality, known to all peoples, and
nevertheless still so badly defined, which is called interest or
the price of a loan, and which gives rise to the fiction of the
productivity of capital?

Everybody knows that a contractor, when he calculates his costs
of production, generally divides them into three classes: 1, the
values consumed and services paid for; 2, his personal salary; 3,
recovery of his capital with interest.  From this last class of
costs is born the distinction between contractor and capitalist,
although these two titles always express but one faculty,

Thus an industrial enterprise which yields only interest on
capital and nothing for net product, is an insignificant
enterprise, which results only in a transformation of values
without adding anything to wealth,-- an enterprise, in short,
which has no further reason for existence and is immediately
abandoned.  Why is it, then, that this interest on capital
is not regarded as a sufficient supplement of net product?  Why
is it not itself the net product?

Here again the philosophy of the economists is wanting.  To
defend usury they have pretended that capital was productive, and
they have changed a metaphor into a reality.  The
anti-proprietary socialists have had no difficulty in overturning
their sophistry; and through this controversy the theory of
capital has fallen into such disfavor that today, in the minds of
the people, CAPITALIST and IDLER are synonymous terms.
Certainly it is not my intention to retract what I myself have
maintained after so many others, or to rehabilitate a class of
citizens which so strangely misconceives its duties: but the
interests of science and of the proletariat itself oblige me to
complete my first assertions and maintain true principles.

1. All production is effected with a view to consumption,--that
is, to enjoyment.  In society the correlative terms production
and consumption, like net product and gross product, designate
identically the same thing.  If, then, after the laborer has
realized a net product, instead of using it to increase his
comfort, he should confine himself to his wages and steadily
apply his surplus to new production, as so many people do who
earn only to buy, production would increase indefinitely, while
comfort and, reasoning from the standpoint of society, population
would remain unchanged.  Now, interest on capital which has been
invested in an industrial enterprise and which has been gradually
formed by the accumulation of net product, is a sort of
compromise between the necessity of increasing production, on the
one hand, and, on the other, that of increasing comfort; it is a
method of reproducing and consuming the net product at the same
time.  That is why certain industrial societies pay their
stockholders a dividend even before the enterprise has yielded
anything.  Life is short, success comes slowly; on the one hand
labor commands, on the other man wishes to enjoy.  To meet all
these exigencies the net product shall be devoted to production,
but meantime (inter-ea, inter-esse)--that is, while waiting for
the new product--the capitalist shall enjoy.

Thus, as the amount of net product marks the progress of wealth,
interest on capital, without which net product would be useless
and would not even exist, marks the progress of comfort.
Whatever the form of government which may be established among
men; whether they live in monopoly or in communism; whether each
laborer keeps his account by credit and debit, or has his labor
and pleasure parcelled out to him by the community,--the law
which we have just disengaged will always be fulfilled.  Our
interest accounts do nothing else than bear witness to it.

2. Values created by net product are classed as savings and
capitalized in the most highly exchangeable form, the form which
is freest and least susceptible of depreciation,--in a word, the
form of specie, the only constituted value.  Now, if capital
leaves this state of freedom and ENGAGES ITSELF,--that is, takes
the form of machines, buildings, etc.,--it will still be
susceptible of exchange, but much more exposed than before to the
oscillations of supply and demand.  Once engaged, it cannot be
DISENGAGED without difficulty; and the sole resource of its owner
will be exploitation.  Exploitation alone is capable of
maintaining engaged capital at its nominal value; it may increase
it, it may diminish it.  Capital thus transformed is as if it had
been risked in a maritime enterprise: the interest is the
insurance premium paid on the capital.  And this premium will be
greater or less according to the scarcity or abundance of

Later a distinction will also be established between the
insurance premium and interest on capital, and new facts will
result from this subdivision: thus the history of humanity is
simply a perpetual distinction of the mind's concepts.

3. Not only does interest on capital cause the laborer to enjoy
the fruit of his toil and insure his savings, but--and this is
the most marvellous effect of interest--while rewarding the
producer, it obliges him to labor incessantly and never stop.

If a contractor is his own capitalist, it may happen that he will
content himself with a profit equal to the interest on his
investment: but in that case it is certain that his industry is
no longer making progress and consequently is suffering.  This we
see when the capitalist is distinct from the contractor: for
then, after the interest is paid, the manufacturer's profit is
absolutely nothing; his industry becomes a perpetual peril to
him, from which it is important that he should free himself as
soon as possible.  For as society's comfort must develop in an
indefinite progression, so the law of the producer is that he
should continually realize a surplus: otherwise his existence is
precarious, monotonous, fatiguing.  The interest due to the
capitalist by the producer therefore is like the lash of the
planter cracking over the head of the sleeping slave; it is the
voice of progress crying:  "On, on!  Toil, toil!"  Man's destiny
pushes him to happiness: that is why it denies him rest.

4. Finally, interest on money is the condition of capital's
circulation and the chief agent of industrial solidarity.  This
aspect has been seized by all the economists, and we shall give
it special treatment when we come to deal with credit.

I have proved, and better, I imagine, than it has ever been
proved before:

That monopoly is necessary, since it is the antagonism of

That it is essential to society, since without it society would
never have emerged from the primeval forests and without it would
rapidly go backwards;

Finally, that it is the crown of the producer, when, whether by
net product or by interest on the capital which he devotes to
production, it brings to the monopolist that increase of comfort
which his foresight and his efforts deserve.

Shall we, then, with the economists, glorify monopoly, and
consecrate it to the benefit of well-secured conservatives?  I am
willing, provided they in turn will admit my claims in what is to
follow, as I have admitted theirs in what has preceded.

% 2.--The disasters in labor and the perversion of ideas caused
by monopoly.

Like competition, monopoly implies a contradiction in its name
and its definition.  In fact, since consumption and production
are identical things in society, and since selling is synonymous
with buying, whoever says privilege of sale or exploitation
necessarily says privilege of consumption and purchase: which
ends in the denial of both.  Hence a prohibition of consumption
as well as of production laid by monopoly upon the
wage-receivers.  Competition was civil war, monopoly is the
massacre of the prisoners.

These various propositions are supported by all sorts of
evidence,-- physical, algebraic, and metaphysical.  What I shall
add will be only the amplified exposition: their simple
announcement demonstrates them.

Every society considered in its economic relations naturally
divides itself into capitalists and laborers, employers and wage-
receivers, distributed upon a scale whose degrees mark the income
of each, whether this income be composed of wages, profit,
interest, rent, or dividends.

From this hierarchical distribution of persons and incomes it
follows that Say's principle just referred to:  IN A NATION THE
since, in consequence of monopoly, the SELLING PRICE is much
higher than the COST PRICE.  Now, as it is the cost price
nevertheless which must pay the selling price, since a nation
really has no market but itself, it follows that exchange, and
consequently circulation and life, are impossible.

In France, twenty millions of laborers, engaged in all the
branches of science, art, and industry, produce everything which
is useful to man.  Their aggregate annual wages amount, it is
estimated, to twenty thousand millions; but, in consequence of
the profit (net product and interest) accruing to monopolists,
twenty-five thousand millions must be paid for their products.
Now, as the nation has no other buyers than its wage- receivers
and wage-payers, and as the latter do not pay for the former, and
as the selling-price of merchandise is the same for all, it is
clear that, to make circulation possible, the laborer would have
to pay five for that for which he has received but four.--What is
Property:  Chapter IV.[17]

[17] A comparison of this passage, as given here, with the
English translation of "What is Property" will show a marked
variation in the language.  This is explained by the fact that
the author, in reproducing the passage, modified it considerably.

The same is true of another quotation from the same work which
will be found a few pages farther on.--Translator.

This, then, is the reason why wealth and poverty are correlative,
inseparable, not only in idea, but in fact; this is the reason
why they exist concurrently; this is what justifies the
pretension of the wage- receiver that the rich man possesses no
more than the poor man, except that of which the latter has been
defrauded.  After the monopolist has drawn up his account of
cost, profit, and interest, the wage-paid consumer draws up his;
and he finds that, though promised wages stated in the contract
as one hundred, he has really been given but seventy- five.
Monopoly, therefore, puts the wage-receivers into bankruptcy, and
it is strictly true that it lives upon the spoils.

Six years ago I brought out this frightful contradiction: why has
it not been thundered through the press?  Why have no teachers of
renown warned public opinion?  Why have not those who demand
political rights for the workingman proclaimed that he is robbed?

Why have the economists kept silent?  Why?

Our revolutionary democracy is so noisy only because it fears
revolutions: but, by ignoring the danger which it dares not look
in the face, it succeeds only in increasing it.  "We resemble,"
says M. Blanqui, "firemen who increase the quantity of steam at
the same time that they place weights on the safety-valve."
Victims of monopoly, console yourselves!  If your tormentors will
not listen, it is because Providence has resolved to strike them:

Non audierunt, says the Bible, quia Deus volebat occidere eos.

Sale being unable to fulfil the conditions of monopoly,
merchandise accumulates; labor has produced in a year what its
wages will not allow it to consume in less than fifteen months:
hence it must remain idle one-fourth of the year.  But, if it
remains idle, it earns nothing: how will it ever buy?  And if the
monopolist cannot get rid of his products, how will his
enterprise endure?  Logical impossibility multiplies around the
workshop; the facts which translate it are everywhere.

"The hosiers of England," says Eugene Buret, "had come to the
point where they did not eat oftener than every other day.
This state of things lasted eighteen months."  And he cites a
multitude of similar cases.

But the distressing feature in the spectacle of monopoly's
effects is the sight of the unfortunate workingmen blaming each
other for their misery and imagining that by uniting and
supporting each other they will prevent the reduction of wages.

"The Irish," says an observer, "have given a disastrous lesson to
the     working classes of Great Britain. . . . .  They have
taught our laborers the fatal secret of confining their needs to
the maintenance of animal life alone, and of contenting
themselves, like savages, with the minimum of the means of
subsistence sufficient to prolong life. . . . .  Instructed by
this fatal example, yielding partly to necessity, the working
classes have lost that laudable pride which led them to furnish
their houses properly and to multiply about them the decent
conveniences which contribute to happiness."

I have never read anything more afflicting and more stupid.  And
what would you have these workingmen do?  The Irish came: should
they have been massacred?  Wages were reduced: should death have
been accepted in their stead?  Necessity commanded, as you say
yourselves.  Then followed the interminable hours, disease,
deformity, degradation, debasement, and all the signs of
industrial slavery: all these calamities are born of monopoly and
its sad predecessors,--competition, machinery, and the division
of labor: and you blame the Irish!

At other times the workingmen blame their luck, and exhort
themselves to patience: this is the counterpart of the thanks
which they address to Providence, when labor is abundant and
wages are sufficient.

I find in an article published by M. Leon Faucher, in the
"Journal des Economistes" (September, 1845), that the English
workingmen lost some time ago the habit of combining, which
is surely a progressive step on which they are only to be
congratulated, but that this improvement in the morale of the
workingmen is due especially to their economic instruction.

"It is not upon the manufacturers," cried a spinner at the
meeting in Bolton, "that wages depend.  In periods of depression
the employers, so to speak, are only the lash with which
necessity is armed; and whether they will or no, they have to
strike.  The regulative principle is the relation of supply to
demand; and the employers have not this power. . . .  Let us act
prudently, then; let us learn to be resigned to bad luck and to
make the most of good luck: by seconding the progress of our
industry, we shall be useful not only to ourselves, but to the
entire country." [Applause.]

Very good: well-trained, model workmen, these!  What men these
spinners must be that they should submit without complaint to the
LASH OF NECESSITY, because the regulative principle of wages is
SUPPLY AND DEMAND!  M. Leon Faucher adds with a charming

English workingmen are fearless reasoners.  Give them a FALSE
PRINCIPLE, and they will push it mathematically to absurdity,
without stopping or getting frightened, as if they were marching
to the triumph of the truth.

For my part, I hope that, in spite of all the efforts of economic
propagandism, French workingmen will never become reasoners of
such power.  SUPPLY AND DEMAND, as well as the LASH OF NECESSITY,
has no longer any hold upon their minds.  This was the one misery
that England lacked: it will not cross the channel.

By the combined effect of division, machinery, net product, and
interest, monopoly extends its conquests in an increasing
progression; its developments embrace agriculture as well as
commerce and industry, and all sorts of products.  Everybody
knows the phrase of Pliny upon the landed monopoly which
determined the fall of Italy, latifundia perdidere Italiam.
It is this same monopoly which still impoverishes and renders
uninhabitable the Roman Campagna and which forms the vicious
circle in which England moves convulsively; it is this monopoly
which, established by violence after a war of races, produces all
the evils of Ireland, and causes so many trials to O'Connell,
powerless, with all his eloquence, to lead his repealers through
this labyrinth.  Grand sentiments and rhetoric are the worst
remedy for social evils: it would be easier for O'Connell to
transport Ireland and the Irish from the North Sea to the
Australian Ocean than to overthrow with the breath of his
harangues the monopoly which holds them in its grasp.  General
communions and sermons will do no more: if the religious
sentiment still alone maintains the morale of the Irish people,
it is high time that a little of that profane science, so much
disdained by the Church, should come to the aid of the lambs
which its crook no longer protects.

The invasion of commerce and industry by monopoly is too well
known to make it necessary that I should gather proofs: moreover,
of what use is it to argue so much when results speak so loudly?
E. Buret's description of the misery of the working-classes has
something fantastic about it, which oppresses and frightens you.
There are scenes in which the imagination refuses to believe, in
spite of certificates and official reports.  Couples all naked,
hidden in the back of an unfurnished alcove, with their naked
children; entire populations which no longer go to church on
Sunday, because they are naked; bodies kept a week before they
are buried, because the deceased has left neither a shroud in
which to lay him out nor the wherewithal to pay for the coffin
and the undertaker (and the bishop enjoys an income of from four
to five hundred thousand francs); families heaped up over sewers,
living in rooms occupied by pigs, and beginning to rot while
yet alive, or dwelling in holes, like Albinoes; octogenarians
sleeping naked on bare boards; and the virgin and the prostitute
expiring in the same nudity: everywhere despair, consumption,
hunger, hunger! . .  And this people, which expiates the crimes
of its masters, does not rebel!  No, by the flames of Nemesis!
when a people has no vengeance left, there is no longer any
Providence for it.

Exterminations en masse by monopoly have not yet found their
poets.  Our rhymers, strangers to the things of this world,
without bowels for the proletaire, continue to breathe to the
moon their melancholy DELIGHTS.  What a subject for
MEDITATIONS, nevertheless, is the miseries engendered by

It is Walter Scott who says:

Formerly, though many years since, each villager had his cow and
his pig, and his yard around his house.  Where a single farmer
cultivates today, thirty small farmers lived formerly; so that
for one individual, himself alone richer, it is true, than the
thirty farmers of old times, there are now twenty-nine wretched
day-laborers, without employment for their minds and arms, and
whose number is too large by half.  The only useful function
which they fulfil is to pay, WHEN THEY CAN, a rent of sixty
shillings a year for the huts in which they dwell.[18]

[18] This extract from Scott, as well as that from a
parliamentary report cited a few paragraphs later, is here
translated from the French, and presumably differs in form
somewhat, therefore, from the original English.--Translator.

A modern ballad, quoted by E. Buret, sings the solitude of

Le rouet est silencieux dans la vallee:
C'en est fait des sentiments de famille.
Sur un peu de fumee le vieil aieul
Etend ses mains pales; et le foyer vide
Est aussi desole que son coeur.[19]

[19] The spinning-wheel is silent in the valley: family feelings
are at an end.  Over a little smoke the aged grandsire spreads
his pale hands; and the empty hearth is as desolate as his

The reports made to parliament rival the novelist and the poet:

The inhabitants of Glensheil, in the neighborhood of the valley
of Dundee, were formerly distinguished from all their neighbors
by the superiority of their physical qualities.  The men were of
high stature, robust, active, and courageous; the women comely
and graceful.  Both sexes possessed an extraordinary taste for
poetry and music.  Now, alas! a long experience of poverty,
prolonged privation of sufficient food and suitable clothing,
have profoundly deteriorated this race, once so remarkably fine.

This is a notable instance of the inevitable degradation pointed
out by us in the two chapters on division of labor and machinery.

And our litterateurs busy themselves with the pretty things of
the past, as if the present were not adequate to their genius!
The first among them to venture on these infernal paths has
created a scandal in the coterie!  Cowardly parasites, vile
venders of prose and verse, all worthy of the wages of Marsyas!
Oh! if your punishment were to last as long as my contempt, you
would be forced to believe in the eternity of hell.

Monopoly, which just now seemed to us so well founded in justice,
is the more unjust because it not only makes wages illusory, but
deceives the workman in the very valuation of his wages by
assuming in relation to him a false title, a false capacity.

M. de Sismondi, in his "Studies of Social Economy," observes
somewhere that, when a banker delivers to a merchant bank-notes
in exchange for his values, far from giving credit to the
merchant, he receives it, on the contrary, from him.

"This credit," adds M. de Sismondi, "is in truth so short that
the merchant scarcely takes the trouble to inquire whether the
banker is worthy, especially as the former asks credit instead of
granting it."

So, according to M. de Sismondi, in the issue of bank paper, the
functions of the merchant and the banker are inverted: the first
is the creditor, and the second is the credited.

Something similar takes place between the monopolist and

In fact, the workers, like the merchant at the bank, ask to have
their labor discounted; in right, the contractor ought to furnish
them bonds and security.  I will explain myself.

In any exploitation, no matter of what sort, the contractor
cannot legitimately claim, in addition to his own personal labor,
anything but the IDEA: as for the EXECUTION, the result of the
cooperation of numerous laborers, that is an effect of collective
power, with which the authors, as free in their action as the
chief, can produce nothing which should go to him gratuitously.
Now, the question is to ascertain whether the amount of
individual wages paid by the contractor is equivalent to the
collective effect of which I speak: for, were it otherwise, Say's
axiom, EVERY PRODUCT IS WORTH WHAT IT COSTS, would be violated.

"The capitalist," they say, "has paid the laborers their daily
wages at a rate agreed upon; consequently he owes them nothing."
To be accurate, it must be said that he has paid as many times
one day's wage as he has employed laborers,--which is not at all
the same thing.  For he has paid nothing for that immense power
which results from the union of laborers and the convergence and
harmony of their efforts; that saving of expense, secured by
their formation into a workshop; that multiplication of product,
foreseen, it is true, by the capitalist, but realized by free
forces.  Two hundred grenadiers, working under the direction of
an engineer, stood the obelisk upon its base in a few hours; do
you think that one man could have accomplished the same task in
two hundred days?  Nevertheless, on the books of the capitalist,
the amount of wages is the same in both cases, because he allots
to himself the benefit of the collective power.  Now, of two
things one: either this is usurpation on his part, or it is
error.--What is Property:  Chapter III.

To properly exploit the mule-jenny, engineers, builders, clerks,
brigades of workingmen and workingwomen of all sorts, have been
needed.  In the name of their liberty, of their security, of
their future, and of the future of their children, these workmen,
on engaging to work in the mill, had to make reserves; where are
the letters of credit which they have delivered to the employers?

Where are the guarantees which they have received?  What!
millions of men have sold their arms and parted with their
liberty without knowing the import of the contract; they have
engaged themselves upon the promise of continuous work and
adequate reward; they have executed with their hands what the
thought of the employers had conceived; they have become, by this
collaboration, associates in the enterprise: and when monopoly,
unable or unwilling to make further exchanges, suspends its
manufacture and leaves these millions of laborers without bread,
they are told to be RESIGNED!  By the new processes they have
lost nine days of their labor out of ten; and for reward they are
pointed to the LASH OF NECESSITY flourished over them!  Then, if
they refuse to work for lower wages, they are shown that they
punish themselves.  If they accept the rate offered them, they
constitute the happiness and dignity of the workingman and
entitle him to the sympathies of the rich.  If they combine to
secure an increase of wages, they are thrown into prison!
Whereas they ought to prosecute their exploiters in the courts,
on them the courts will avenge the violations of liberty of
commerce!  Victims of monopoly, they will suffer the penalty due
to the monopolists!  O justice of men, stupid courtesan, how
long, under your goddess's tinsel, will you drink the blood of
the slaughtered proletaire?

Monopoly has invaded everything,--land, labor, and the
instruments of labor, products and the distribution of pro ducts.

Political economy itself has not been able to avoid admitting it.

"You almost always find across your path," says M. Rossi, "some
monopoly.  There is scarcely a product that can be regarded as
the pure and simple result of labor; accordingly the economic law
which proportions price to cost of production is never completely
realized.  It is a formula which is profoundly MODIFIED by the
intervention of one or another of the monopolies to which the
instruments of production are subordinated.--Course in Political
Economy: Volume I., page 143.

M. Rossi holds too high an office to give his language all the
precision and exactness which science requires when monopoly is
in question.  What he so complacently calls a MODIFICATION OF
ECONOMIC FORMULAS is but a long and odious violation of the
fundamental laws of labor and exchange.  It is in consequence of
monopoly that in society, net product being figured over and
above gross product, the collective laborer must repurchase his
own product at a price higher than that which this product costs
him,--which is contradictory and impossible; that the natural
balance between production and consumption is destroyed; that the
laborer is deceived not only in his settlements, but also as to
the amount of his wages; that in his case progress in comfort is
changed into an incessant progress in misery: it is by monopoly,
in short, that all notions of commutative justice are perverted,
and that social economy, instead of the positive science that it
is, becomes a veritable utopia.

This disguise of political economy under the influence of
monopoly is a fact so remarkable in the history of social ideas
that we must not neglect to cite a few instances.

Thus, from the standpoint of monopoly, value is no longer that
synthetic conception which serves to express the relation of
a special object of utility to the sum total of wealth: monopoly
estimating things, not in their relation to society, but in their
relation to itself, value loses its social character, and is
nothing but a vague, arbitrary, egoistic, and essentially
variable thing.  Starting with this principle, the monopolist
extends the term PRODUCT to cover all sorts of servitude, and
applies the idea of CAPITAL to all the frivolous and shameful
industries which his passions and vices exploit.  The charms of a
courtesan, says Say, are so much CAPITAL, of which the PRODUCT
follows the general LAW of VALUES,--namely, SUPPLY and
DEMAND.  Most of the works on political economy are full of such
applications.  But as prostitution and the state of dependence
from which it emanates are condemned by morality, M. Rossi will
bid us observe the further fact that political economy, after
having MODIFIED its formula in consequence of the intervention
of monopoly, will have to submit to a new CORRECTIVE, although
its conclusions are in themselves irreproachable.  For, he says,
political economy has nothing in common with morality: it is for
us to accept it, to modify or correct its formulas, whenever our
welfare, that of society, and the interests of morality call for
it.  How many things there are between political economy and

Likewise, the theory of net product, so highly social,
progressive, and conservative, has been individualized, if I may
say so, by monopoly, and the principle which ought to secure
society's welfare causes its ruin.  The monopolist, always
striving for the greatest possible net product, no longer acts as
a member of society and in the interest of society; he acts with
a view to his exclusive interest, whether this interest be
contrary to the social interest or not.  This change of
perspective is the cause to which M. de Sismondi attributes the
depopulation of the Roman Campagna.  From the comparative
researches which he has made regarding the product of the agro
romano when in a state of cultivation and its product when left
as pasture-land, he has found that the GROSS product would be
twelve times larger in the former case than in the latter; but,
as cultivation demands relatively a greater number of hands, he
has discovered also that in the former case the NET product
would be less.  This calculation, which did not escape the
proprietors, sufficed to confirm them in the habit of leaving
their lands uncultivated, and hence the Roman Campagna is

"All parts of the Roman States," adds M. de Sismondi, "present
the same contrast between the memories of their prosperity in the
Middle Ages and their present desolation.  The town of Ceres,
made famous by Renzo da Ceri, who defended by turns Marseilles
against Charles V. and Geneva against the Duke of Savoy, is
nothing but a solitude.  In all the fiefs of the Orsinis and the
Colonnes not a soul.  From the forests which surround the pretty
Lake of Vico the human race has disappeared; and the soldiers
with whom the formidable prefect of Vico made Rome tremble so
often in the fourteenth century have left no descendants.  Castro
and Ronciglione are desolated."--Studies in Political Economy.

In fact, society seeks the greatest possible gross product, and
consequently the greatest possible population, because with it
gross product and net product are identical.  Monopoly, on the
contrary, aims steadily at the greatest net product, even though
able to obtain it only at the price of the extermination of the
human race.

Under this same influence of monopoly, interest on capital,
perverted in its idea, has become in turn a principle of death to
society.  As we have explained it, interest on capital is, on the
one hand, the form under which the laborer enjoys his net
product, while utilizing it in new creations; on the other, this
interest is the material bond of solidarity between producers,
viewed from the standpoint of the increase of wealth.  Under
the first aspect, the aggregate interest paid can never exceed
the amount of the capital itself; under the second, interest
allows, in addition to reimbursement, a premium as a reward of
service rendered.  In no case does it imply perpetuity.

But monopoly, confounding the idea of capital, which is
attributable only to the creations of human industry, with that
of the exploitable material which nature has given us, and which
belongs to all, and favored moreover in its usurpation by the
anarchical condition of a society in which possession can exist
only on condition of being exclusive, sovereign, and
perpetual,--monopoly has imagined and laid it down as a principle
that capital, like land, animals, and plants, had in itself an
activity of its own, which relieved the capitalist of the
necessity of contributing anything else to exchange and of taking
any part in the labors of the workshop.  From this false idea of
monopoly has come the Greek name of usury, tokos, as much as to
say the child or the increase of capital, which caused Aristotle
to perpetrate this witticism: COINS BEGET NO CHILDREN.  But the
metaphor of the usurers has prevailed over the joke of the
Stagyrite; usury, like rent, of which it is an imitation, has
been declared a perpetual right; and only very lately, by a
half-return to the principle, has it reproduced the idea of

Such is the meaning of the enigma which has caused so many
scandals among theologians and legists, and regarding which the
Christian Church has blundered twice,--first, in condemning every
sort of interest, and, second, in taking the side of the
economists and thus contradicting its old maxims.  Usury, or the
right of increase, is at once the expression and the condemnation
of monopoly; it is the spoliation of labor by organized and
legalized capital; of all the economic subversions it is
that which most loudly accuses the old society, and whose
scandalous persistence would justify an unceremonious and
uncompensated dispossession of the entire capitalistic class.

Finally, monopoly, by a sort of instinct of self-preservation,
has perverted even the idea of association, as something that
might infringe upon it, or, to speak more accurately, has not
permitted its birth.

Who could hope today to define what association among men should
be?  The law distinguishes two species and four varieties of
civil societies, and as many commercial societies, from the
simple partnership to the joint-stock company.  I have read the
most respectable commentaries that have been written upon all
these forms of association, and I declare that I have found in
them but one application of the routine practices of monopoly
between two or more partners who unite their capital and their
efforts against everything that produces and consumes, that
invents and exchanges, that lives and dies.  The sine qua non of
all these societies is capital, whose presence alone constitutes
them and gives them a basis; their object is monopoly,--that is,
the exclusion of all other laborers and capitalists, and
consequently the negation of social universality so far as
persons are concerned.

Thus, according to the definition of the statute, a commercial
society which should lay down as a principle the right of any
stranger to become a member upon his simple request, and to
straightway enjoy the rights and prerogatives of associates and
even managers, would no longer be a society; the courts would
officially pronounce its dissolution, its nonexistence.  So,
again, articles of association in which the contracting parties
should stipulate no contribution of capital, but, while
reserving to each the express right to compete with all, should
confine themselves to a reciprocal guarantee of labor and wages,
saying nothing of the branch of exploitation, or of capital, or
of interest, or of profit and loss,--such articles would seem
contradictory in their tenor, as destitute of purpose as of
reason, and would be annulled by the judge on the complaint of
the first rebellious associate.  Covenants thus drawn up could
give rise to no judicial action; people calling themselves the
associates of everybody would be considered associates of nobody;
treatises contemplating guarantee and competition between
associates at the same time, without any mention of social
capital and without any designation of purpose, would pass for a
work of transcendental charlatanism, whose author could readily
be sent to a madhouse, provided the magistrates would consent to
regard him as only a lunatic.

And yet it is proved, by the most authentic testimony which
history and social economy furnish, that humanity has been thrown
naked and without capital upon the earth which it cultivates;
consequently that it has created and is daily creating all the
wealth that exists; that monopoly is only a relative view serving
to designate the grade of the laborer, with certain conditions of
enjoyment; and that all progress consists, while indefinitely
multiplying products, in determining their proportionality,--that
is, in organizing labor and comfort by division, machinery, the
workshop, education, and competition.  On the other hand, it is
evident that all the tendencies of humanity, both in its politics
and in its civil laws, are towards universalization,--that is,
towards a complete transformation of the idea of society as
determined by our statutes.

Whence I conclude that articles of association which should
regulate, no longer the contribution of the associates,--since
each associate, according to the economic theory, is supposed to
possess absolutely nothing upon his entrance into society,--but
the conditions of labor and exchange, and which should allow
access to all who might present themselves,--I conclude, I say,
that such articles of association would contain nothing that was
not rational and scientific, since they would be the very
expression of progress, the organic formula of labor, and since
they would reveal, so to speak, humanity to itself by giving it
the rudiment of its constitution.

Now, who, among the jurisconsults and economists, has ever
approached even within a thousand leagues of this magnificent and
yet so simple idea?

"I do not think," says M. Troplong, "that the spirit of
association is called to greater destinies than those which it
has accomplished in the past and up to the present time. . . ;
and I confess that I have made no attempt to realize such hopes,
which I believe exaggerated. . . .  There are well-defined limits
which association should not overstep.  No! association is not
called upon in France to govern everything.  The spontaneous
impulse of the individual mind is also a living force in our
nation and a cause of its originality. . . .

"The idea of association is not new. . . .  Even among the Romans
we see the commercial society appear with all its paraphernalia
of monopolies, corners, collusions, combinations, piracy, and
venality. . . .  The joint-stock company realizes the civil,
commercial, and maritime law of the Middle Ages: at that epoch it
was the most active instrument of labor organized in society. . .
.  From the middle of the fourteenth century we see societies
form by stock subscriptions; and up to the time of Law's
discomfiture, we see their number continually increase. . . .
What! we marvel at the mines, factories, patents, and newspapers
owned by stock companies!  But two centuries ago such companies
owned islands, kingdoms, almost an entire hemisphere.  We
proclaim it a miracle that hundreds of stock subscribers should
group themselves around an enterprise; but as long ago as the
fourteenth century the entire city of Florence was in similar
silent partnership with a few merchants, who pushed the genius of
enterprise as far as possible.  Then, if our speculations
are bad, if we have been rash, imprudent, or credulous, we
torment the legislator with our cavilling complaints; we call
upon him for prohibitions and nullifications.  In our mania for
regulating everything, EVEN THAT WHICH IS ALREADY CODIFIED; for
enchaining everything by texts reviewed, corrected, and added to;
for administering everything, even the chances and reverses of
commerce,--we cry out, in the midst of so many existing laws:
`There is still something to do!'"

M. Troplong believes in Providence, but surely he is not its man.

He will not discover the formula of association clamored for
today by minds disgusted with all the protocols of combination
and rapine of which M. Troplong unrolls the picture in his
commentary.  M. Troplong gets impatient, and rightly, with those
who wish to enchain everything in texts of laws; and he himself
pretends to enchain the future in a series of fifty articles, in
which the wisest mind could not discover a spark of economic
science or a shadow of philosophy.  IN OUR MANIA, he cries, FOR
.  I know nothing more delicious than this stroke, which paints
at once the jurisconsult and the economist.  After the Code
Napoleon, take away the ladder! . . .

"Fortunately," M. Troplong continues, "all the projects of change
so noisily brought to light in 1837 and 1838 are forgotten today.

The conflict of propositions and the anarchy of reformatory
opinions have led to negative results.  At the same time that the
reaction against speculators was effected, the common sense of
the public did justice to the numerous official plans of
organization, much inferior in wisdom to the existing law, much
less in harmony with the usages of commerce, much less liberal,
after 1830, than the conceptions of the imperial Council of
State!  Now order is restored in everything, and the commercial
code has preserved its integrity, its excellent integrity.  When
commerce needs it, it finds, by the side of partnership,
temporary partnership, and the joint-stock company, the free
silent partnership, tempered only by the prudence of the silent
partners and by the provisions of the penal code regarding
swindling."--Troplong: Civil and Commercial Societies:  Preface.

What a philosophy is that which rejoices in the miscarriage of
reformatory endeavors, and which counts its triumphs by the
NEGATIVE RESULTS of the spirit of inquiry!  We cannot now enter
upon a more fundamental criticism of the civil and commercial
societies, which have furnished M. Troplong material for two
volumes.  We will reserve this subject for the time when, the
theory of economic contradictions being finished, we shall have
found in their general equation the programme of association,
which we shall then publish in contrast with the practice and
conceptions of our predecessors.

A word only as to silent partnership.

One might think at first blush that this form of joint-stock
company, by its expansive power and by the facility for change
which it offers, could be generalized in such a way as to take in
an entire nation in all its commercial and industrial relations.
But the most superficial examination of the constitution of this
society demonstrates very quickly that the sort of enlargement of
which it is susceptible, in the matter of the number of
stockholders, has nothing in common with the extension of the
social bond.

In the first place, like all other commercial societies, it is
necessarily limited to a single branch of exploitation: in this
respect it is exclusive of all industries foreign to that
peculiarly its own.  If it were otherwise, it would have changed
its nature; it would be a new form of society, whose statutes
would regulate, no longer the profits especially, but the
distribution of labor and the conditions of exchange; it would be
exactly such an association as M. Troplong denies and as the
jurisprudence of monopoly excludes.

As for the personal composition of the company, it naturally
divides itself into two categories,--the managers and the
stockholders.  The managers, very few in number, are chosen
from the promoters, organizers, and patrons of the enterprise: in
truth, they are the only associates.  The stockholders, compared
with this little government, which administers the society with
full power, are a people of taxpayers who, strangers to each
other, without influence and without responsibility, have nothing
to do with the affair beyond their investments.  They are lenders
at a premium, not associates.

One can see from this how all the industries of the kingdom could
be carried on by such companies, and each citizen, thanks to the
facility for multiplying his shares, be interested in all or most
of these companies without thereby improving his condition: it
might happen even that it would be more and more compromised.
For, once more, the stockholder is the beast of burden, the
exploitable material of the company: not for him is this society
formed.  In order that association may be real, he who
participates in it must do so, not as a gambler, but as an active
factor; he must have a deliberative voice in the council; his
name must be expressed or implied in the title of the society;
everything regarding him, in short, should be regulated in
accordance with equality.  But these conditions are precisely
those of the organization of labor, which is not taken into
consideration by the code; they form the ULTERIOR object of
political economy, and consequently are not to be taken for
granted, but to be created, and, as such, are radically
incompatible with monopoly.[20]

[20] Possibly these paragraphs will not be clear to all without
the explanation that the form of association discussed in them,
called in French the commandite, is a joint-stock company to
which the shareholders simply lend their capital, without
acquiring a share in the management or incurring responsibility
for the results thereof.-- Translator.

Socialism, in spite of its high-sounding name, has so far been no
more fortunate than monopoly in the definition of society:
we may even assert that, in all its plans of organization, it has
steadily shown itself in this respect a plagiarist of political
economy.  M. Blanc, whom I have already quoted in discussing
competition, and whom we have seen by turns as a partisan of the
hierarchical principle, an officious defender of inequality,
preaching communism, denying with a stroke of the pen the law of
contradiction because he cannot conceive it, aiming above all at
power as the final sanction of his system,--M. Blanc offers us
again the curious example of a socialist copying political
economy without suspecting it, and turning continually in the
vicious circle of proprietary routine.  M. Blanc really denies
the sway of capital; he even denies that capital is equal to
labor in production, in which he is in accord with healthy
economic theories.  But he can not or does not know how to
dispense with capital; he takes capital for his point of
departure; he appeals to the State for its silent partnership:
that is, he gets down on his knees before the capitalists and
recognizes the sovereignty of monopoly.  Hence the singular
contortions of his dialectics.  I beg the reader's pardon for
these eternal personalities: but since socialism, as well as
political economy, is personified in a certain number of writers,
I cannot do otherwise than quote its authors.

"Has or has not capital," said "La Phalange," "in so far as it is
a faculty in production, the legitimacy of the other productive
faculties?  If it is illegitimate, its pretensions to a share of
the product are illegitimate; it must be excluded; it has no
interest to receive: if, on the contrary, it is legitimate, it
cannot be legitimately excluded from participation in the
profits, in the increase which it has helped to create."

The question could not be stated more clearly.  M. Blanc holds,
on the contrary, that it is stated in a VERY CONFUSED manner,
which means that it embarrasses him greatly, and that he is much
worried to find its meaning.

In the first place, he supposes that he is asked "whether it is
equitable to allow the capitalist a share of the profits of
production EQUAL TO THE LABORER'S."  To which M. Blanc answers
unhesitatingly that that would be unjust.  Then follows an
outburst of eloquence to establish this injustice.

Now, the phalansterian does not ask whether the share of the
capitalist should or should not be EQUAL TO THE LABORER'S; he
wishes to know simply WHETHER HE IS TO HAVE A SHARE.  And to this
M. Blanc makes no reply.

Is it meant, continues M. Blanc, that capital is INDISPENSABLE
to production, like labor itself?  Here M. Blanc distinguishes:
he grants that capital is indispensable, AS labor is, but not

Once again, the phalansterian does not dispute as to quantity,
but as to right.

Is it meant--it is still M. Blanc who interrogates--that all
capitalists are not idlers?  M. Blanc, generous to capitalists
who work, asks why so large a share should be given to those who
do not work?  A flow of eloquence as to the IMPERSONAL services
of the capitalist and the PERSONAL services of the laborer,
terminated by an appeal to Providence.

For the third time, you are asked whether the participation of
capital in profits is legitimate, since you admit that it is
indispensable in production.

At last M. Blanc, who has understood all the time, decides to
reply that, if he allows interest to capital, he does so only as
a transitional measure and to ease the descent of the
capitalists.  For the rest, his project leading inevitably to the
absorption of private capital in association, it would be folly
and an abandonment of principle to do more.  M. Blanc, if he had
studied his subject, would have needed to say but a single
phrase:  "I deny capital."

Thus M. Blanc,--and under his name I include the whole of
socialism,-- after having, by a first contradiction of the title
of his book, "ORGANIZATION OF LABOR," declared that capital was
INDISPENSABLE in production, and consequently that it should be
organized and participate in profits like labor, by a second
contradiction rejects capital from organization and refuses to
recognize it: by a third contradiction he who laughs at
decorations and titles of nobility distributes civic crowns,
rewards, and distinctions to such litterateurs inventors, and
artists as shall have deserved well of the country; he allows
them salaries according to their grades and dignities; all of
which is the restoration of capital as really, though not with
the same mathematical precision, as interest and net product: by
a fourth contradiction M. Blanc establishes this new aristocracy
on the principle of equality,-- that is, he pretends to vote
masterships to equal and free associates, privileges of idleness
to laborers, spoliation in short to the despoiled: by a fifth
contradiction he rests this equalitarian aristocracy on the basis
of a POWER ENDOWED WITH GREAT FORCE,--that is, on despotism,
another form of monopoly: by a sixth contradiction, after having,
by his encouragements to labor and the arts, tried to proportion
reward to service, like monopoly, and wages to capacity, like
monopoly, he sets himself to eulogize life in common, labor and
consumption in common, which does not prevent him from wishing to
withdraw from the effects of common indifference, by means of
national encouragements taken out of the common product, the
grave and serious writers whom common readers do not care for: by
a seventh contradiction. . . . but let us stop at seven, for we
should not have finished at seventy-seven.

It is said that M. Blanc, who is now preparing a history of the
French Revolution, has begun to seriously study political
economy.  The first fruit of this study will be, I do not
doubt, a repudiation of his pamphlet on "Organization of Labor,"
and consequently a change in all his ideas of authority and
government.  At this price the "History of the French
Revolution," by M. Blanc, will be a truly useful and original

All the socialistic sects, without exception, are possessed by
the same prejudice; all, unconsciously, inspired by the economic
contradiction, have to confess their powerlessness in presence of
the necessity of capital; all are waiting, for the realization of
their ideas, to hold power and money in their hands.  The utopias
of socialism in the matter of association make more prominent
than ever the truth which we announced at the beginning:  THERE
and this perpetual plagiarism is the irrevocable condemnation of
both.  Nowhere is to be seen the dawn of that mother-idea, which
springs with so much eclat from the generation of the economic
categories,--that the superior formula of association has nothing
to do with capital, a matter for individual accounts, but must
bear solely upon equilibrium of production, the conditions of
exchange, the gradual reduction of cost, the one and only source
of the increase of wealth.  Instead of determining the relations
of industry to industry, of laborer to laborer, of province to
province, and of people to people, the socialists dream only of
providing themselves with capital, always conceiving the problem
of the solidarity of laborers as if it were a question of
founding some new institution of monopoly.  The world, humanity,
capital, industry, business machinery, exist; it is a matter now
simply of finding their philosophy,--in other words, of
organizing them: and the socialists are in search of capital!
Always outside of reality, is it astonishing that they miss it?

Thus M. Blanc asks for State aid and the establishment of
national workshops; thus Fourier asked for six million francs,
and his followers are still engaged today in collecting that sum;
thus the communists place their hope in a revolution which shall
give them authority and the treasury, and exhaust themselves in
waiting for useless subscriptions.  Capital and power, secondary
organs in society, are always the gods whom socialism adores: if
capital and power did not exist, it would invent them.  Through
its anxieties about power and capital, socialism has completely
overlooked the meaning of its own protests: much more, it has not
seen that, in involving itself, as it has done, in the economic
routine, it has deprived itself of the very right to protest.  It
accuses society of antagonism, and through the same antagonism it
goes in pursuit of reform.  It asks capital for the poor
laborers, as if the misery of laborers did not come from the
competition of capitalists as well as from the factitious
opposition of labor and capital; as if the question were not
today precisely what it was before the creation of capital,--that
is, still and always a question of equilibrium; as if, in
short,--let us repeat it incessantly, let us repeat it to
satiety,--the question were henceforth of something other than a
synthesis of all the principles brought to light by civilization,
and as if, provided this synthesis, the idea which leads the
world, were known, there would be any need of the intervention of
capital and the State to make them evident.

Socialism, in deserting criticism to devote itself to declamation
and utopia and in mingling with political and religious
intrigues, has betrayed its mission and misunderstood the
character of the century.  The revolution of 1830 demoralized us;
socialism is making us effeminate.  Like political economy, whose
contradictions it simply sifts again, socialism is powerless
to satisfy the movement of minds: it is henceforth, in those whom
it subjugates, only a new prejudice to destroy, and, in those who
propagate it, a charlatanism to unmask, the more dangerous
because almost always sincere.



In positing its principles humanity, as if in obedience to a
sovereign order, never goes backward.  Like the traveller who by
oblique windings rises from the depth of the valley to the
mountain-top, it follows intrepidly its zigzag road, and marches
to its goal with confident step, without repentance and without
pause.  Arriving at the angle of monopoly, the social genius
casts backward a melancholy glance, and, in a moment of profound
reflection, says to itself:

"Monopoly has stripped the poor hireling of everything,--bread,
clothing, home, education, liberty, and security.  I will lay a
tax upon the monopolist; at this price I will save him his

"Land and mines, woods and waters, the original domain of man,
are forbidden to the proletaire.  I will intervene in their
exploitation, I will have my share of the products, and land
monopoly shall be respected.

"Industry has fallen into feudalism, but I am the suzerain.  The
lords shall pay me tribute, and they shall keep the profit of
their capital.

"Commerce levies usurious profits on the consumer.  I will strew
its road with toll-gates, I will stamp its checks and indorse its
invoices, and it shall pass.

"Capital has overcome labor by intelligence.  I will open
schools, and the laborer, made intelligent himself, shall
become a capitalist in his turn.

"Products lack circulation, and social life is cramped.  I will
build roads, bridges, canals, marts, theatres, and temples, and
thus furnish at one stroke work, wealth, and a market.

"The rich man lives in plenty, while the workman weeps in famine.
I will establish taxes on bread, wine, meat, salt, and honey, on
articles of necessity and on objects of value, and these shall
supply alms for my poor.

"And I will set guards over the waters, the woods, the fields,
the mines, and the roads; I will send collectors to gather the
taxes and teachers to instruct the children; I will have an army
to put down refractory subjects, courts to judge them, prisons to
punish them, and priests to curse them.  All these offices shall
be given to the proletariat and paid by the monopolists.

"Such is my certain and efficacious will."

We have to prove that society could neither think better nor act
worse: this will be the subject of a review which, I hope, will
throw new light upon the social problem.

Every measure of general police, every administrative and
commercial regulation, like every law of taxation, is at bottom
but one of the innumerable articles of this ancient bargain, ever
violated and ever renewed, between the patriciate and the
proletariat.  That the parties or their representatives knew
nothing of it, or even that they frequently viewed their
political constitutions from another standpoint, is of little
consequence to us: not to the man, legislator, or prince do we
look for the meaning of his acts, but to the acts themselves.

% 1.--Synthetic idea of the tax.--Point of departure and
development of this idea.

In order to render that which is to follow more intelligible, I
will explain, inverting, as it were, the method which we have
followed hitherto, the superior theory of the tax; then I will
give its genesis; finally I will show the contradiction and
results.  The synthetic idea of the tax, as well as its original
conception, would furnish material for the most extensive
developments.  I shall confine myself to a simple announcement of
the propositions, with a summary indication of the proofs.

The tax, in its essence and positive destiny, is the form of
distribution among that species of functionaries which Adam Smith
has designated by the word UNPRODUCTIVE, although he admits as
much as any one the utility and even the necessity of their labor
in society.  By this adjective, UNPRODUCTIVE, Adam Smith, whose
genius dimly foresaw everything and left us to do everything,
meant that the product of these laborers is NEGATIVE, which is a
very different thing from null, and that consequently
distribution so far as they are concerned follows a method other
than exchange.

Let us consider, in fact, what takes place, from the point of
view of distribution, in the four great divisions of collective
Each producer brings to market a real product whose quantity can
be measured, whose quality can be estimated, whose price can be
debated, and, finally, whose value can be discounted, either in
other services or merchandise, or else in money.  In all these
industries distribution, therefore, is nothing but the mutual
exchange of products according to the law of proportionality of

[21] Hunting, fishing, mining,--in short, the gathering of all
natural products.--Translator.

Nothing like this takes place with the functionaries called
PUBLIC.  These obtain their right to subsistence, not by the
production of real utilities, but by the very state of
unproductivity in which, by no fault of their own, they are kept.
For them the law of proportionality is inverted: while social
wealth is formed and increased in the direct ratio of the
quantity, variety, and proportion of the effective products
furnished by the four great industrial categories, the
development of this same wealth, the perfecting of social order,
suppose, on the contrary, so far as the personnel of police is
concerned, a progressive and indefinite reduction.  State
functionaries, therefore, are very truly unproductive.  On this
point J. B. Say agreed with A. Smith, and all that he has written
on this subject in correction of his master, and which has been
stupidly included among his titles to glory, arises entirely, it
is easy to see, from a misunderstanding.  In a word, the wages of
the government's employees constitute a social DEFICIT; they
must be carried to the account of LOSSES, which it must be the
object of industrial organization to continually diminish: in
this view what other adjective could be used to describe the men
of power than that of Adam Smith?

Here, then, is a category of services which, furnishing no real
products, cannot be rewarded in the ordinary way; services which
do not fall under the law of exchange, which cannot become the
object of private speculation, competition, joint-stock
association, or any sort of commerce, but which, theoretically
regarded as performed gratuitously by all, but entrusted, by
virtue of the law of division of labor, to a small number of
special men who devote themselves exclusively to them, must
consequently be paid for.  History confirms this general datum.
The human mind, which tries all solutions of every problem, has
tried accordingly to submit public functions to exchange; for a
long time French magistrates, like notaries, etc., lived solely
by their fees.  But experience has proved that this method of
distribution applied to unproductive laborers was too expensive
and subject to too many disadvantages, and it became necessary to
abandon it.

The organization of the unproductive services contributes to the
general welfare in several ways: first, by relieving producers of
public cares, in which all must participate, and to which,
consequently, all are more or less slaves; secondly, by
establishing in society an artificial centralization, the image
and prelude of the future solidarity of industries; and, finally,
by furnishing a first attempt at balance and discipline.

So we admit, with J. B. Say, the usefulness of magistrates and
the other agents of public authority; but we hold that this
usefulness is wholly negative, and we insist, therefore, on
describing these functionaries by the adjective unproductive
which A. Smith applied to them, not to bring them into discredit,
but because they really cannot be classed in the category of
producers.  "Taxation," very well says an economist of Say's
school, M. J. Garnier,--"taxation is a PRIVATION which we should
try to reduce to the furthest point of compatibility with the
needs of society."  If the writer whom I quote has reflected upon
the meaning of his words, he has seen that the word PRIVATION
which he uses is synonymous with NON-PRODUCTION, and that
consequently those for whose benefit taxes are collected are very
truly UNPRODUCTIVE laborers.

I insist upon this definition, which seems to me the less
questionable from the fact that, however much they may
dispute over the word, all agree upon the thing, because it
contains the germ of the greatest revolution yet to be
accomplished in the world,--I mean the subordination of the
unproductive functions to the productive functions, in a word,
the effective submission, always asked and never obtained, of
authority to the citizens.

It is a consequence of the development of the economical
contradictions that order in society first shows itself inverted;
that that which should be above is placed below, that which
should be in relief seems sunken, and that which should receive
the light is thrown into the shadow.  Thus power, which, in its
essence, is, like capital, the auxiliary and subordinate of
labor, becomes, through the antagonism of society, the spy,
judge, and tyrant of the productive functions; power, whose
original inferiority lays upon it the duty of obedience, is
prince and sovereign.

In all ages the laboring classes have pursued against the
office-holding class the solution of this antinomy, of which
economic science alone can give the key.  The oscillations--that
is, the political agitations which result from this struggle of
labor against power--now lead to a depression of the central
force, which compromises the very existence of society; now,
exaggerating this same force beyond measure, give birth to
despotism.  Then, the privileges of command, the infinite joy
which it gives to ambition and pride, making the unproductive
functions an object of universal lust, a new leaven of discord
penetrates society, which, divided already in one direction into
capitalists and wage-workers, and in another into producers and
non-producers, is again divided as regards power into monarchists
and democrats.  The conflicts between royalty and the republic
would furnish us most marvellous and interesting material
for our episodes.  The confines of this work do not permit us so
long an excursion; and after having pointed out this new branch
in the vast network of human aberrations, we shall confine
ourselves exclusively, in dealing with taxation, to the economic

Such, then, in succinctest statement, is the synthetic theory of
the tax,--that is, if I may venture to use the familiar
comparison, of this fifth wheel of the coach of humanity, which
makes so much noise, and which, in governmental parlance, is
styled the State.  The State, the police, or their means of
existence, the tax, is, I repeat, the official name of the class
designated in political economy as nonproducers,--in short, as
the domestics of society.

But public reason does not attain at a single bound this simple
idea, which for centuries had to remain in the state of a
transcendental conception.  Before civilization can mount to such
a height, it must pass through frightful tempests and innumerable
revolutions, in each of which, one might say, it renews its
strength in a bath of blood.  And when at last production,
represented by capital, seems on the point of thoroughly
subordinating the unproductive organ, the State, then society
rises in indignation, labor weeps at the prospect of its
immediate freedom, democracy shudders at the abasement of power,
justice cries out as if scandalized, and all the oracles of the
departing gods exclaim with terror that the abomination of
desolation is in the holy places and that the end of the world
has come.  So true is it that humanity never desires what it
seeks, and that the slightest progress cannot be realized without
spreading panic among the peoples.

What, then, in this evolution, is the point of departure of
society, and by what circuitous route does it reach
political reform,--that is, economy in its expenditures, equality
in the assessment of its taxes, and the subordination of power to
industry?  That is what we are about to state in a few words,
reserving developments for the sequel.

The original idea of the tax is that of REDEMPTION.

As, by the law of Moses, each first-born was supposed to belong
to Jehovah, and had to be redeemed by an offering, so the tax
everywhere presents itself in the form of a tithe or royal
prerogative by which the proprietor annually redeems from the
sovereign the profit of exploitation which he is supposed to hold
only by his pleasure.  This theory of the tax, moreover, is but
one of the special articles of what is called the social

Ancients and moderns all agree, in terms more or less explicit,
in regarding the juridical status of societies as a reaction of
weakness against strength.  This idea is uppermost in all the
works of Plato, notably in the "Gorgias," where he maintains,
with more subtlety than logic, the cause of the laws against that
of violence,--that is, legislative absolutism against
aristocratic and military absolutism.  In this knotty dispute, in
which the weight of evidence is equal on both sides, Plato simply
expresses the sentiment of entire antiquity.  Long before him,
Moses, in making a distribution of lands, declaring patrimony
inalienable, and ordering a general and uncompensated
cancellation of all mortgages every fiftieth year, had opposed a
barrier to the invasions of force.  The whole Bible is a hymn to
JUSTICE,--that is, in the Hebrew style, to charity, to kindness
to the weak on the part of the strong, to voluntary renunciation
of the privilege of power.  Solon, beginning his legislative
mission by a general abolition of debts, and creating rights and
reserves,--that is, barriers to prevent their return,--was
no less reactionary.  Lycurgus went farther; he forbade
individual possession, and tried to absorb the man in the State,
annihilating liberty the better to preserve equilibrium.  Hobbes,
deriving, and with great reason, legislation from the state of
war, arrived by another road at the establishment of equality
upon an exception,--despotism.  His book, so much calumniated, is
only a development of this famous antithesis.  The charter of
1830, consecrating the insurrection made in '89 by the plebeians
against the nobility, and decreeing the abstract equality of
persons before the law, in spite of the real inequality of powers
and talents which is the veritable basis of the social system now
in force, is also but a protest of society in favor of the poor
against the rich, of the small against the great.  All the laws
of the human race regarding sale, purchase, hire, property,
loans, mortgages, prescription, inheritance, donation, wills,
wives' dowries, minority, guardianship, etc., etc., are real
barriers erected by judicial absolutism against the absolutism of
force.  Respect for contracts, fidelity to promises, the religion
of the oath, are fictions, osselets,[22] as the famous Lysander
aptly said, with which society deceives the strong and brings
them under the yoke.

[22] Little bones taken from the joints of animals and serving as
playthings for children.--Translator.

The tax belongs to that great family of preventive, coercive,
repressive, and vindictive institutions which A. Smith designated
by the generic term police, and which is, as I have said, in its
original conception, only the reaction of weakness against
strength.  This follows, independently of abundant historical
testimony which we will put aside to confine ourselves
exclusively to economic proof, from the distinction naturally
arising between taxes.

All taxes are divisible into two great categories: (1) taxes of
assessment, or of privilege: these are the oldest taxes; (2)
taxes of consumption, or of quotite,[23] whose tendency is, by
absorbing the former, to make public burdens weigh equally upon

[23] A tax whose total product is not fixed in advance, but
depends upon the quantity of things or persons upon whom it
happens to fall.-- Translator.

The first sort of taxes--including in France the tax on land, the
tax on doors and windows, the poll-tax, the tax on personal
property, the tax on tenants, license-fees, the tax on transfers
of property, the tax on officials' fees, road-taxes, and
brevets--is the share which the sovereign reserves for himself
out of all the monopolies which he concedes or tolerates; it is,
as we have said, the indemnity of the poor, the permit granted to
property.  Such was the form and spirit of the tax in all the old
monarchies: feudalism was its beau ideal.  Under that regime the
tax was only a TRIBUTE paid by the holder to the universal
proprietor or sleeping-partner (commanditaire), the king.

When later, by the development of public right, royalty, the
patriarchal form of sovereignty, begins to get impregnated by the
democratic spirit, the tax becomes a quota which each voter owes
to the COMMONWEALTH, and which, instead of falling into the hand
of the prince, is received into the State treasury.  In this
evolution the principle of the tax remains intact; as yet there
is no transformation of the institution; the real sovereign
simply succeeds the figurative sovereign.  Whether the tax enters
into the peculium of the prince or serves to liquidate a common
debt, it is in either case only a claim of society against
privilege; otherwise, it is impossible to say why the tax is
levied in the ratio of fortunes.

Let all contribute to the public expenses: nothing more just.
But why should the rich pay more than the poor?  That is just,
they say, because they possess more.  I confess that such justice
is beyond my comprehension. . . .  One of two things is true:
either the proportional tax guarantees a privilege to the larger
tax-payers, or else it is a wrong.  Because, if property is a
natural right, as the Declaration of '93 declares, all that
belongs to me by virtue of this right is as sacred as my person;
it is my blood, my life, myself: whoever touches it offends the
apple of my eye.  My income of one hundred thousand francs is as
inviolable a the grisette's daily wage of seventy-five centimes;
her attic is no more sacred than my suite of apartments.  The tax
is not levied in proportion to physical strength, size, or skill:
no more should it be levied in proportion to property.--What is
Property: Chapter II.

These observations are the more just because the principle which
it was their purpose to oppose to that of proportional assessment
has had its period of application.  The proportional tax is much
later in history than liege-homage, which consisted in a simple
officious demonstration without real payment.

The second sort of taxes includes in general all those
designated, by a sort of antiphrasis, by the term INDIRECT, such
as taxes on liquor, salt, and tobacco, customs duties, and, in
short, all the taxes which DIRECTLY affect the only thing which
should be taxed,--product.  The principle of this tax, whose name
is an actual misnomer, is unquestionably better founded in theory
and more equitable in tendency than the preceding: accordingly,
in spite of the opinion of the mass, always deceived as to that
which serves it as well as to that which is prejudicial to it, I
do not hesitate to say that this tax is the only normal one,
barring its assessment and collection, with which it is not my
purpose now to deal.

For, if it is true, as we have just explained, that the real
nature of the tax is to pay, according to a particular form of
wages, for certain services which elude the usual form of
exchange, it follows that all producers, enjoying these services
equally as far as personal use is concerned, should contribute to
their payment in equal portions.  The share for each, therefore,
would be a fraction of his exchangeable product, or, in other
words, an amount taken from the values delivered by him for
purposes of consumption.  But, under the monopoly system, and
with collection upon land, the treasury strikes the product
before it has entered into exchange, even before it is
produced,--a circumstance which results in throwing back the
amount of the tax into the cost of production, and consequently
puts the burden upon the consumer and lifts it from monopoly.

Whatever the significance of the tax of assessment or the tax of
quotite, one thing is sure, and this is the thing which it is
especially important for us to know,--namely, that, in making the
tax proportional, it was the intention of the sovereign to make
citizens contribute to the public expenses, no longer, according
to the old feudal principle, by means of a poll-tax, which would
involve the idea of an assessment figured in the ratio of the
number of persons taxed, and not in the ratio of their
possessions, but so much per franc of capital, which supposes
that capital has its source in an authority superior to the
capitalists.  Everybody, spontaneously and with one accord,
considers such an assessment just; everybody, therefore,
spontaneously and with one accord, looks upon the tax as a
resumption on the part of society, a sort of redemption exacted
from monopoly.  This is especially striking in England, where, by
a special law, the proprietors of the soil and the manufacturers
pay, in proportion to their incomes, a tax of forty million
dollars, which is called the poor-rate.

In short, the practical and avowed object of the tax is to effect
upon the rich, for the benefit of the people, a proportional
resumption of their capital.

Now, analysis and the facts demonstrate:

That the tax of assessment, the tax upon monopoly, instead of
being paid by those who possess, is paid almost entirely by those
who do not possess;

That the tax of quotite, separating the producer from the
consumer, falls solely upon the latter, thereby taking from the
capitalist no more than he would have to pay if fortunes were
absolutely equal;

Finally, that the army, the courts, the police, the schools, the
hospitals, the almshouses, the houses of refuge and correction,
public functions, religion itself, all that society creates for
the protection, emancipation, and relief of the proletaire, paid
for in the first place and sustained by the proletaire, is then
turned against the proletaire or wasted as far as he is
concerned; so that the proletariat, which at first labored only
for the class that devours it,--that of the capitalists,--must
labor also for the class that flogs it,--that of the

These facts are henceforth so well known, and the economists--I
owe them this justice--have shown them so clearly, that I shall
abstain from correcting their demonstrations, which, for the
rest, are no longer contradicted by anybody.  What I propose to
bring to light, and what the economists do not seem to have
sufficiently understood, is that the condition in which the
laborer is placed by this new phase of social economy is
susceptible of no amelioration; that, unless industrial
organization, and therefore political reform, should bring about
an equality of fortunes, evil is inherent in police institutions
as in the idea of charity which gave them birth; in short, that
the STATE, whatever form it affects, aristocratic or theocratic,
monarchical or republican, until it shall have become the
obedient and submissive organ of a society of equals, will be for
the people an inevitable hell,--I had almost said a deserved

% 2.--Antinomy of the tax.

I sometimes hear the champions of the statu quo maintain that for
the present we enjoy liberty enough, and that, in spite of the
declamation against the existing order, we are below the level of
our institutions.  So far at least as taxation is concerned, I am
quite of the opinion of these optimists.

According to the theory that we have just seen, the tax is the
reaction of society against monopoly.  Upon this point opinions
are unanimous: citizens and legislators, economists, journalists,
and ballad-writers, rendering, each in their own tongue, the
social thought, vie with each other in proclaiming that the tax
should fall upon the rich, strike the superfluous and articles of
luxury, and leave those of prime necessity free.  In short, they
have made the tax a sort of privilege for the privileged: a bad
idea, since it involved a recognition of the legitimacy of
privilege, which in no case, whatever shape it may take, is good
for anything.  The people had to be punished for this egoistic
inconsistency: Providence did not fail in its duty.

From the moment, then, of the conception of the tax as a
counter-claim, it had to be fixed proportionally to means,
whether it struck capital or affected income more especially.
Now, I will point out that the levying of the tax at so much a
franc being precisely that which should be adopted in a country
where all fortunes were equal, saving the differences in the cost
of assessment and collection, the treasury is the most liberal
feature of our society, and that on this point our morals are
really behind our institutions.  But as with the wicked the best
things cannot fail to be detestable, we shall see the
equalitarian tax crush the people precisely because the people
are not up to it.

I will suppose that the gross income in France, for each family
of four persons, is 1,000 francs: this is a little above the
estimate of M. Chevalier, who places it at only 63 centimes a day
for each individual, or 919 francs 80 centimes for each
household.  The tax being today more than a thousand millions, or
about an eighth of the total income, each family, earning 1,000
francs a year, is taxed 125 francs.

Accordingly, an income of 2,000 francs pays 250 francs; an income
of 3,000 francs, 375; an income of 4,000 francs, 500, etc.  The
proportion is strict and mathematically irreproachable; the
treasury, by arithmetic, is sure of losing nothing.

But on the side of the taxpayers the affair totally changes its
aspect.  The tax, which, in the intention of the legislator, was
to have been proportioned to fortune, is, on the contrary,
progressive in the ratio of poverty, so that, the poorer the
citizen is, the more he pays.  This I shall try to make plain by
a few figures.

According to the proportional tax, there is due to the treasury:
for an income of
1,000  2,000  3,000  4,000  5,000  6,000 francs, etc. a tax of
  125    250    375    500    625    750

According to this series, then, the tax seems to increase
proportionally to income.

But when it is remembered that each annual income is made up of
365 units, each of which represents the daily income of the
taxpayer, the tax will no longer be found proportional; it will
be found equal.  In fact, if the State levies a tax of 125 francs
on an income of 1,000 francs, it is as if it took from the taxed
family 45 days' subsistence; likewise the assessments of 250,
375, 500, 625, and 750 francs, corresponding to incomes of 2,000,
3,000, 4,000, 5,000, and 6,000 francs, constitute in each case a
tax of 45 days' pay upon each of those who enjoy these incomes.

I say now that this equality of taxation is a monstrous
inequality, and that it is a strange illusion to imagine that,
because the daily income is larger, the tax of which it is the
base is higher.  Let us change our point of view from that of
personal to that of collective income.

As an effect of monopoly social wealth abandoning the laboring
class to go to the capitalistic class, the object of taxation has
been to moderate this displacement and react against usurpation
by enforcing a proportional replevin upon each privileged person.
But proportional to what?  To the excess which the privileged
person has received undoubtedly, and not to the fraction of the
social capital which his income represents.  Now, the object of
taxation is missed and the law turned into derision when the
treasury, instead of taking its eighth where this eighth exists,
asks it precisely of those to whom it should be restored.  A
final calculation will make this evident.

Setting the daily income of each person in France at 68 centimes,
the father of a family who, whether as wages or as income from
his capital, receives 1,000 francs a year receives four shares of
the national income; he who receives 2,000 francs has eight
shares; he who receives 4,000 francs has sixteen, etc.  Hence it
follows that the workman who, on an income of 1,000 francs, pays
125 francs into the treasury renders to public order half a
share, or an eighth of his income and his family's subsistence;
whereas the capitalist who, on an income of 6,000 francs, pays
only 750 francs realizes a profit of 17 shares out of the
collective income, or, in other words, gains by the tax 425 per

Let us reproduce the same truth in another form.

The voters of France number about 200,000.  I do not know the
total amount of taxes paid by these 200,000 voters, but I do not
believe that I am very far from the truth in supposing an average
of 300 francs each, or a total of 60,000,000 for the 200,000
voters, to which we will add twenty-five per cent. to represent
their share of indirect taxes, making in all 75,000,000, or 75
francs for each person (supposing the family of each voter to
consist of five persons), which the electoral class pays to the
State.  The appropriations, according to the "Annuaire
Economique" for 1845, being 1,106,000,000, there remains
1,031,000,000, which makes the tax paid by each non-voting
citizen 31 francs 30 centimes,--two-fifths of the tax paid by the
wealthy class.  Now, for this proportion to be equitable, the
average welfare of the non-voting class would have to be
two-fifths of the average welfare of the voting class: but such
is not the truth, as it falls short of this by more than

But this disproportion will seem still more shocking when it is
remembered that the calculation which we have just made
concerning the electoral class is altogether wrong, altogether in
favor of the voters.

In fact, the only taxes which are levied for the enjoyment of the
right of suffrage are: (1) the land tax; (2) the tax on polls and
personal property; (3) the tax on doors and windows; (4)
license-fees.  Now, with the exception of the tax on polls and
personal property, which varies little, the three other taxes are
thrown back on the consumers; and it is the same with all the
indirect taxes, for which the holders of capital are reimbursed
by the consumers, with the exception, however, of the taxes on
property transfers, which fall directly on the proprietor and
amount in all to 150,000,000.  Now, if we estimate that in this
last amount the property of voters figures as one-sixth, which is
placing it high, the portion of direct taxes (409,000,000) being
12 francs for each person, and that of indirect taxes
(547,000,000) 16 francs, the average tax paid by each voter
having a household of five will reach a total of 265 francs,
while that paid by the laborer, who has only his arms to support
himself, his wife, and two children, will be 112 francs.  In more
general terms, the average tax upon each person belonging to the
upper classes will be 53 francs; upon each belonging to the
lower, 28.  Whereupon I renew my question:  Is the welfare of
those below the voting standard half as great as that of those
above it?

It is with the tax as with periodical publications, which really
cost more the less frequently they appear.  A daily journal costs
forty francs, a weekly ten francs, a monthly four.  Supposing
other things to be equal, the subscription prices of these
journals are to each other as the numbers forty, seventy, and one
hundred and twenty, the price rising with the infrequency of
publication.  Now, this exactly represents the increase of the
tax: it is a subscription paid by each citizen in exchange for
the right to labor and to live.  He who uses this right in the
smallest proportion pays much; he who uses it a little more pays
less; he who uses it a great deal pays little.

The economists are generally in agreement about all this. They
have attacked the proportional tax, not only in its principle,
but in its application; they have pointed out its anomalies,
almost all of which arise from the fact that the relation of
capital to income, or of cultivated surface to rent, is never

Given a levy of one-tenth on the income from lands, and lands of
different qualities producing, the first eight francs' worth of
grain, the second six francs' worth, the third five francs'
worth, the tax will call for one-eighth of the income from the
most fertile land, one-sixth from that a little less fertile,
and, finally, one-fifth from that less fertile still.[24]  Will
not the tax thus established be just the reverse of what it
should be?  Instead of land, we may suppose other instruments of
production, and compare capitals of the same value, or amounts of
labor of the same order, applied to branches of industry
differing in productivity: the conclusion will be the same.
There is injustice in requiring the same poll-tax of ten francs
from the laborer who earns one thousand francs and from the
artist or physician who has an income of sixty thousand.--J.
Garnier: Principles of Political Economy.

[24] This sentence, as it stands, is unintelligible, and probably
is not correctly quoted by Proudhon.  At any rate, one of
Garnier's works contains a similar passage, which begins thus:
"Given a levy of one on the area of the land, and lands of
different qualities producing, the first eight, the second six,
the third five, the tax will call for one- eighth," etc.  This is
perfectly clear, and the circumstances supposed are aptly
illustrative of Proudhon's point.  I should unhesitatingly
pronounce it the correct version, except for the fact that
Proudhon, in the succeeding paragraph, interprets Garnier as
supposing income to be assessed instead of capital.--Translator.

These reflections are very sound, although they apply only to
collection or assessment, and do not touch the principle of the
tax itself.  For, in supposing the assessment to be made upon
income instead of upon capital, the fact always remains that the
tax, which should be proportional to fortunes, is borne by the

The economists have taken a resolve; they have squarely
recognized the iniquity of the proportional tax.

"The tax," says Say, "can never be levied upon the necessary."
This author, it is true, does not tell us what we are to
understand by the necessary, but we can supply the omission.  The
necessary is what each individual gets out of the total product
of the country, after deducting what must be taken for taxes.
Thus, making the estimate in round numbers, the production of
France being eight thousand millions and the tax one thousand
millions, the necessary in the case of each individual amounts to
fifty-six and a half centimes a day.  Whatever is in excess of
this income is alone susceptible of being taxed, according to J.
B. Say; whatever falls short of it must be regarded by the
treasury as inviolable.

The same author expresses this idea in other words when he says:
"The proportional tax is not equitable."  Adam Smith had already
said before him:  "It is not unreasonable that the rich man
should contribute to the public expenses, not only in proportion
to his income, but something more."  "I will go further," adds
Say; "I will not fear to say that the progressive tax is the only
equitable tax."  And M. J. Garnier, the latest abridger of the
economists, says:  "Reforms should tend to establish a
progressional equality, if I may use the phrase, much more just,
much more equitable, than the pretended equality of taxation,
which is only a monstrous inequality."

So, according to general opinion and the testimony of the
economists, two things are acknowledged: one, that in its
principle the tax is a reaction against monopoly and directed
against the rich; the other, that in practice this same tax is
false to its object; that, in striking the poor by preference, it
commits an injustice; and that the constant effort of the
legislator must be to distribute its burden in a more equitable

I needed to establish this double fact solidly before passing to
other considerations: now commences my criticism.

The economists, with that simplicity of honest folk which they
have inherited from their elders and which even today is all that
stands to their credit, have taken no pains to see that the
progressional theory of the tax, which they point out to
governments as the ne plus ultra of a wise and liberal
administration, was contradictory in its terms and pregnant with
a legion of impossibilities.  They have attributed the oppression
of the treasury by turns to the barbarism of the time, the
ignorance of princes, the prejudices of caste, the avarice of
collectors, everything, in short, which, in their opinion,
preventing the progression of the tax, stood in the way of the
sincere practice of equality in the distribution of public
burdens; they have not for a moment suspected that what they
asked under the name of progressive taxation was the overturn of
all economic ideas.

Thus they have not seen, for instance, that the tax was
progressive from the very fact that it was proportional, the only
difference being that the progression was in the wrong direction,
the percentage being, as we have said, not directly, but
inversely proportional to fortunes.  If the economists had had a
clear idea of this overturn, invariable in all countries where
taxation exists, so singular a phenomenon would not have failed
to draw their attention; they would have sought its causes, and
would have ended by discovering that what they took for an
accident of civilization, an effect of the inextricable
difficulties of human government, was the product of the
contradiction inherent in all political economy.

The progressive tax, whether applied to capital or to income, is
the very negation of monopoly, of that monopoly which is met
everywhere, according to M. Rossi, across the path of social
economy; which is the true stimulant of industry, the hope of
economy, the preserver and parent of all wealth; of which we have
been able to say, in short, that society cannot exist without it,
but that, except for it, there would be no society.  Let the tax
become suddenly what it unquestionably must sometime be,--namely,
the proportional (or progressional, which is the same thing)
contribution of each producer to the public expenses, and
straightway rent and profit are confiscated everywhere for the
benefit of the State; labor is stripped of the fruits of its
toil; each individual being reduced to the proper allowance of
fifty-six and a half centimes, poverty becomes general; the
compact formed between labor and capital is dissolved, and
society, deprived of its rudder, drifts back to its original

It will be said, perhaps, that it is easy to prevent the absolute
annihilation of the profits of capital by stopping the
progression at any moment.

Eclecticism, the golden mean, compromise with heaven or with
morality: is it always to be the same philosophy, then?  True
science is repugnant to such arrangements.  All invested capital
must return to the producer in the form of interest; all labor
must leave a surplus, all wages be equal to product.  Under the
protection of these laws society continually realizes, by the
greatest variety of production, the highest possible degree of
welfare.  These laws are absolute; to violate them is to wound,
to mutilate society.  Capital, accordingly, which, after all, is
nothing but accumulated labor, is inviolable.  But, on the other
hand, the tendency to equality is no less imperative; it is
manifested at each economic phase with increasing energy and an
invincible authority.  Therefore you must satisfy labor and
justice at once; you must give to the former guarantees more
and more real, and secure the latter without concession or

Instead of that, you know nothing but the continual substitution
of the good pleasure of the prince for your theories, the arrest
of the course of economic law by arbitrary power, and, under the
pretext of equity, the deception of the wage worker and the
monopolist alike!  Your liberty is but a half-liberty, your
justice but a half-justice, and all your wisdom consists in those
middle terms whose iniquity is always twofold, since they justify
the pretensions of neither one party nor the other!  No, such
cannot be the science which you have promised us, and which, by
unveiling for us the secrets of the production and consumption of
wealth, must unequivocally solve the social antinomies.  Your
semi- liberal doctrine is the code of despotism, and shows that
you are powerless to advance as well as ashamed to retreat.

If society, pledged by its economic antecedents, can never
retrace its steps; if, until the arrival of the universal
equation, monopoly must be maintained in its possession,--no
change is possible in the laying of taxes: only there is a
contradiction here, which, like every other, must be pushed till
exhausted.  Have, then, the courage of your opinions,-- respect
for wealth, and no pity for the poor, whom the God of monopoly
has condemned.  The less the hireling has wherewith to live, the
more he must pay: qui minus habet, etiam quod habet auferetur ab
eo.  This is necessary, this is inevitable; in it lies the safety
of society.

Let us try, nevertheless, to reverse the progression of the tax,
and so arrange it that the capitalist, instead of the laborer,
will pay the larger share.

I observe, in the first place, that with the usual method of
collection, such a reversal is impracticable.

In fact, if the tax falls on exploitable capital, this tax, in
its entirety, is included among the costs of production, and then
of two things one: either the product, in spite of the increase
in its selling value, will be bought by the consumer, and
consequently the producer will be relieved of the tax; or else
this same product will be thought too dear, and in that case the
tax, as J. B. Say has very well said, acts like a tithe levied on
seed,--it prevents production.  Thus it is that too high a tax on
the transfer of titles arrests the circulation of real property,
and renders estates less productive by keeping them from changing

If, on the contrary, the tax falls on product, it is nothing but
a tax of quotite, which each pays in the ratio of his
consumption, while the capitalist, whom it is purposed to strike,

Moreover, the supposition of a progressive tax based either on
product or on capital is perfectly absurd.  How can we imagine
the same product paying a duty of ten per cent. at the store of
one dealer and a duty of but five at another's?  How are estates
already encumbered with mortgages and which change owners every
day, how is a capital formed by joint investment or by the
fortune of a single individual, to be distinguished upon the
official register, and taxed, not in the ratio of their value or
rent, but in the ratio of the fortune or presumed profits of the

There remains, then, a last resource,--to tax the net income of
each tax-payer, whatever his method of getting it.  For instance,
an income of one thousand francs would pay ten per cent.; an
income of two thousand francs, twenty per cent.; an income of
three thousand francs, thirty per cent., etc.  We will set aside
the thousand difficulties and annoyances that must be met in
ascertaining these incomes, and suppose the operation as
easy as you like.  Well! that is exactly the system which I
charge with hypocrisy, contradiction, and injustice.

I say in the first place that this system is hypocritical,
because, instead of taking from the rich that entire portion of
their income in excess of the average national product per
family, which is inadmissible, it does not, as is imagined,
reverse the order of progression in the direction of wealth; at
most it changes the rate of progression.  Thus the present
progression of the tax, for fortunes yielding incomes of a
thousand francs and UNDER, being as that of the numbers 10, 11,
12, 13, etc., and, for fortunes yielding incomes of a thousand
francs and OVER, as that of the numbers 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, etc.,--
the tax always increasing with poverty and decreasing with
wealth,--if we should confine ourselves to lifting the indirect
tax which falls especially on the poorer class and imposing a
corresponding tax upon the incomes of the richer class, the
progression thereafter, it is true, would be, for the first, only
as that of the numbers 10, 10.25, 10.50, 10.75, 11, 11.25, etc.,
and, for the second, as 10, 9.75, 9.50, 9.25, 9, 8.75, etc.  But
this progression, although less rapid on both sides, would still
take the same direction nevertheless, would still be a reversal
of justice; and it is for this reason that the so-called
progressive tax, capable at most of giving the philanthropist
something to babble about, is of no scientific value.  It changes
nothing in fiscal jurisprudence; as the proverb says, it is
always the poor man who carries the pouch, always the rich man
who is the object of the solicitude of power.

I add that this system is contradictory.

In fact, ONE CANNOT BOTH GIVE AND KEEP, say the jurisconsults.
Instead, then, of consecrating monopolies from which the holders
are to derive no privilege save that of straightway losing, with
the income, all the enjoyment thereof, why not decree the
agrarian law at once?  Why provide in the constitution that each
shall freely enjoy the fruit of his labor and industry, when, by
the fact or the tendency of the tax, this permission is granted
only to the extent of a dividend of fifty-six and a half centimes
a day,--a thing, it is true, which the law could not have
foreseen, but which would necessarily result from progression?
The legislator, in confirming us in our monopolies, intended to
favor production, to feed the sacred fire of industry: now, what
interest shall we have to produce, if, though not yet associated,
we are not to produce for ourselves alone?  After we have been
declared free, how can we be made subject to conditions of sale,
hire, and exchange which annul our liberty?

A man possesses government securities which bring him an income
of twenty thousand francs.  The tax, under the new system of
progression, will take fifty per cent. of this from him.  At this
rate it is more advantageous to him to withdraw his capital and
consume the principal instead of the income.  Then let him be
repaid.  What! repaid!  The State cannot be obliged to repay;
and, if it consents to redeem, it will do so in proportion to the
net income.  Therefore a bond for twenty thousand francs will be
worth not more than ten thousand to the bondholder, because of
the tax, if he wishes to get it redeemed by the State: unless he
divides it into twenty lots, in which case it will return him
double the amount.  Likewise an estate which rents for fifty
thousand francs, the tax taking two-thirds of the income, will
lose two- thirds of its value.  But let the proprietor divide
this estate into a hundred lots and sell it at auction, and then,
the terror of the treasury no longer deterring purchasers, he can
get back his entire capital.  So that, with the progressive
tax, real estate no longer follows the law of supply and demand
and is not valued according to the real income which it yields,
but according to the condition of the owner.  The consequence
will be that large capitals will depreciate in value, and
mediocrity be brought to the front; land-owners will hasten to
sell, because it will be better for them to consume their
property than to get an insufficient rent from it; capitalists
will recall their investments, or will invest only at usurious
rates; all exploitation on a large scale will be prohibited,
every visible fortune proceeded against, and all accumulation of
capital in excess of the figure of the necessary proscribed.
Wealth, driven back, will retire within itself and never emerge
except by stealth; and labor, like a man attached to a corpse,
will embrace misery in an endless union.  Does it not well become
the economists who devise such reforms to laugh at the reformers?

After having demonstrated the contradiction and delusion of the
progressive tax, must I prove its injustice also?  The
progressive tax, as understood by the economists and, in their
wake, by certain radicals, is impracticable, I said just now, if
it falls on capital and product: consequently I have supposed it
to fall on incomes.  But who does not see that this purely
theoretical distinction between capital, product, and income
falls so far as the treasury is concerned, and that the same
impossibilities which we have pointed out reappear here with all
their fatal character?

A manufacturer discovers a process by means of which, saving
twenty per cent. of his cost of production, he secures an income
of twenty-five thousand francs.  The treasury calls on him for
fifteen thousand.  He is obliged, therefore, to raise his prices,
since, by the fact of the tax, his process, instead of saving
twenty per cent., saves only eight per cent.  Is not this as
if the treasury prevented cheapness?  Thus, in trying to reach
the rich, the progressive tax always reaches the consumer; and it
is impossible for it not to reach him without suppressing
production altogether: what a mistake!

It is a law of social economy that all invested capital must
return continually to the capitalist in the form of interest.
With the progressive tax this law is radically violated, since,
by the effect of progression, interest on capital is so reduced
that industries are established only at a loss of a part or the
whole of the capital.  To make it otherwise, interest on capital
would have to increase progressively in the same ratio as the tax
itself, which is absurd.  Therefore the progressive tax stops the
creation of capital; furthermore it hinders its circulation.
Whoever, in fact, should want to buy a plant for any enterprise
or a piece of land for cultivation would have to consider, under
the system of progressive taxation, not the real value of such
plant or land, but rather the tax which it would bring upon him;
so that, if the real income were four per cent., and, by the
effect of the tax or the condition of the buyer, must go down to
three, the purchase could not be effected.  After having run
counter to all interests and thrown the market into confusion by
its categories, the progressive tax arrests the development of
wealth and reduces venal value below real value; it contracts, it
petrifies society.  What tyranny!  What derision!

The progressive tax resolves itself, then, whatever may be done,
into a denial of justice, prohibition of production,
confiscation.  It is unlimited and unbridled absolutism, given to
power over everything which, by labor, by economy, by
improvements, contributes to public wealth.

But what is the use of wandering about in chimerical hypotheses
when the truth is at hand.  It is not the fault of the
proportional principle if the tax falls with such shocking
inequality upon the various classes of society; the fault is in
our prejudices and our morals.  The tax, as far as is possible in
human operations, proceeds with equity, precision.  Social
economy commands it to apply to product; it applies to product.
If product escapes it, it strikes capital: what more natural!
The tax, in advance of civilization, supposes the equality of
laborers and capitalists: the inflexible expression of necessity,
it seems to invite us to make ourselves equals by education and
labor, and, by balancing our functions and associating our
interests, to put ourselves in accord with it.  The tax refuses
to distinguish between one man and another: and we blame its
mathematical severity for the differences in our fortunes!  We
ask equality itself to comply with our injustice!  Was I not
right in saying at the outset that, relatively to the tax, we are
behind our institutions?

Accordingly we always see the legislator stopping, in his fiscal
laws, before the subversive consequences of the progressive tax,
and consecrating the necessity, the immutability of the
proportional tax.  For equality in well-being cannot result from
the violation of capital: the antinomy must be methodically
solved, under penalty, for society, of falling back into chaos.
Eternal justice does not accommodate itself to all the whims of
men: like a woman, whom one may outrage, but whom one does not
marry without a solemn alienation of one's self, it demands on
our part, with the abandonment of our egoism, the recognition of
all its rights, which are those of science.

The tax, whose final purpose, as we have shown, is the reward of
the non-producers, but whose original idea was a restoration of
the laborer,--the tax, under the system of monopoly, reduces
itself therefore to a pure and simple protest, a sort of
extra-judicial act, the whole effect of which is to aggravate the
situation of the wage-worker by disturbing the monopolist in his
possession.  As for the idea of changing the proportional tax
into a progressive tax, or, to speak more accurately, of
reversing the order in which the tax progresses, that is a
blunder the entire responsibility for which belongs to the

But henceforth menace hovers over privilege.  With the power of
modifying the proportionality of the tax, government has under
its hand an expeditious and sure means of dispossessing the
holders of capital when it will; and it is a frightful thing to
see everywhere that great institution, the basis of society, the
object of so many controversies, of so many laws, of so many
cajoleries, and of so many crimes, PROPERTY, suspended at the end
of a thread over the yawning mouth of the proletariat.

% 3.--Disastrous and inevitable consequences of the tax.
(Provisions, sumptuary laws, rural and industrial police,
patents, trade-marks, etc.)

M. Chevalier addressed to himself, in July, 1843, on the subject
of the tax, the following questions:

(1) Is it asked of all or by preference of a part of the nation?
(2) Does the tax resemble a levy on polls, or is it exactly
proportioned to the fortunes of the tax-payers?  (3) Is
agriculture more or less burdened than manufactures or commerce?
(4) Is real estate more or less spared than personal property?
(5) Is he who produces more favored than he who consumes?  (6)
Have our taxation laws the character of sumptuary laws?

To these various questions M. Chevalier makes the reply which I
am about to quote, and which sums up all of the most
philosophical considerations upon the subject which I have met:

(a) The tax affects the universality, applies to the mass, takes
the nation as a whole; nevertheless, as the poor are the most
numerous, it taxes them willingly, certain of collecting more.
(b) By the nature of things the tax sometimes takes the form of a
levy on polls, as in the case of the salt tax.  (c, d, e) The
treasury addresses itself to labor as well as to consumption,
because in France everybody labors, to real more than to personal
property, and to agriculture more than to manufactures.  (f) By
the same reasoning, our laws partake little of the character of
sumptuary laws.

What, professor! is that all that science has taught you?  THE
Alas! we know it only too well; but it is this which is
iniquitous, and which we ask you to explain.  The government,
when engaged in the assessment and distribution of the tax, could
not have believed, did not believe, that all fortunes were equal;
consequently it could not have wished, did not wish, the sums
paid to be equal.  Why, then, is the practice of the government
always the opposite of its theory?  Your opinion, if you please,
on this difficult matter?  Explain; justify or condemn the
exchequer; take whatever course you will, provided you take some
course and say something.  Remember that your readers are men,
and that they cannot excuse in a doctor, speaking ex cathedra,
such propositions as this: AS THE POOR ARE THE MOST NUMEROUS, IT
NUMBERS do not regulate the tax; the tax knows perfectly well
that millions of poor added to millions of poor do not make one
voter.  You render the treasury odious by making it absurd, and I
maintain that it is neither the one nor the other.  The poor man
pays more than the rich because Providence, to whom misery is
odious like vice, has so ordered things that the miserable
must always be the most ground down.  The iniquity of the tax is
the celestial scourge which drives us towards equality.  God! if
a professor of political economy, who was formerly an apostle,
could but understand this revelation!

TAKES THE FORM OF A LEVY ON POLLS.  Well, in what case is it just
that the tax should take the form of a levy on polls?  Is it
always, or never?  What is the principle of the tax?  What is its
object?  Speak, answer.

And what instruction, pray, can we derive from the remark,
scarcely worthy of quotation, that THE TREASURY ADDRESSES ITSELF
consequence to science is this interminable recital of crude
facts, if your analysis never extracts a single idea from them?

All the deductions made from consumption by taxation, rent,
interest on capital, etc., enter into the general expense account
and figure in the selling price, so that nearly always the
consumer pays the tax: that we know.  And as the goods most
consumed are also those which yield the most revenue, it
necessarily follows that the poorest people are the most heavily
burdened: this consequence, like the first, is inevitable.  Once
more, then, of what importance to us are your fiscal
distinctions?  Whatever the classification of taxable material,
as it is impossible to tax capital beyond its income, the
capitalist will be always favored, while the proletaire will
suffer iniquity, oppression.  The trouble is not in the
distribution of taxes; it is in the distribution of goods.  M.
Chevalier cannot be ignorant of this: why, then, does not M.
Chevalier, whose word would carry more weight than that of a
writer suspected of not loving the existing order, say as much?

From 1806 to 1811 (this observation, as well as the following, is
M. Chevalier's) the annual consumption of wine in Paris was one
hundred and forty quarts for each individual; now it is not more
than eighty-three.  Abolish the tax of seven or eight cents a
quart collected from the retailer, and the consumption of wine
will soon rise from eighty-three quarts to one hundred and
seventy-five; and the wine industry, which does not know what to
do with its products, will have a market.  Thanks to the duties
laid upon the importation of cattle, the consumption of meat by
the people has diminished in a ratio similar to that of the
falling-off in the consumption of wine; and the economists have
recognized with fright that the French workman does less work
than the English workman, because he is not as well fed.

Out of sympathy for the laboring classes M. Chevalier would like
our manufacturers to feel the goad of foreign competition a
little.  A reduction of the tax on woollens to the extent of
twenty cents on each pair of pantaloons would leave six million
dollars in the pockets of the consumers,--half enough to pay the
salt tax.  Four cents less in the price of a shirt would effect a
saving probably sufficient to keep a force of twenty thousand men
under arms.

In the last fifteen years the consumption of sugar has risen from
one hundred and sixteen million pounds to two hundred and sixty
million, which gives at present an average of seven pounds and
three-quarters for each individual.  This progress demonstrates
that sugar must be classed henceforth with bread, wine, meat,
wool, cotton, wood, and coal, among the articles of prime
necessity.  To the poor man sugar is a whole medicine-chest:
would it be too much to raise the average individual consumption
of this article from seven pounds and three-quarters to fifteen
pounds?  Abolish the tax, which is about four dollars and a
half on a hundred pounds, and your consumption will double.

Thus the tax on provisions agitates and tortures the poor
proletaire in a thousand ways: the high price of salt hinders the
production of cattle; the duties on meat diminish also the
rations of the laborer.  To satisfy at once the tax and the need
of fermented beverages which the laboring class feels, they serve
him with mixtures unknown to the chemist as well as to the brewer
and the wine-grower.  What further need have we of the dietary
prescriptions of the Church?  Thanks to the tax, the whole year
is Lent to the laborer, and his Easter dinner is not as good as
Monseigneur's Good Friday lunch.  It is high time to abolish
everywhere the tax on consumption, which weakens and starves the
people: this is the conclusion of the economists as well as of
the radicals.

But if the proletaire does not fast to feed Caesar, what will
Caesar eat?  And if the poor man does not cut his cloak to cover
Caesar's nudity, what will Caesar wear?

That is the question, the inevitable question, the question to be

M. Chevalier, then, having asked himself as his sixth question
whether our taxation laws have the character of sumptuary laws,
has answered:  No, our taxation laws have not the character of
sumptuary laws.  M. Chevalier might have added--and it would have
been both new and true-- that that is the best thing about our
taxation laws.  But M. Chevalier, who, whatever he may do, always
retains some of the old leaven of radicalism, has preferred to
declaim against luxury, whereby he could not compromise himself
with any party.  "If in Paris," he cries, "the tax collected from
meat should be laid upon private carriages, saddle- horses and
carriage-horses, servants, and dogs, it would be a perfectly
equitable operation."

Does M. Chevalier, then, sit in the College of France to expound
the politics of Masaniello?  I have seen the dogs at Basle
wearing the treasury badge upon their necks as a sign that they
had been taxed, and I looked upon the tax on dogs, in a country
where taxation is almost nothing, as rather a moral lesson and a
hygienic precaution than a source of revenue.  In 1844 the dog
tax of forty-two cents a head gave a revenue of $12,600 in the
entire province of Brabant, containing 667,000 inhabitants.  From
this it may be estimated that the same tax, producing in all
France $600,000, would lighten the taxes of QUOTITE LESS THAN TWO
CENTS a year for each individual.  Certainly I am far from
pretending that $600,000 is a sum to be disdained, especially
with a prodigal ministry; and I regret that the Chamber should
have rejected the dog tax, which would always have served to
endow half a dozen highnesses.  But I remember that a tax of this
nature is levied much less in the interest of the treasury than
as a promoter of order; that consequently it is proper to look
upon it, from the fiscal point of view, as of no importance; and
that it will even have to be abolished as an annoyance when the
mass of the people, having become a little more humanized, shall
feel a disgust for the companionship of beasts.  TWO CENTS A
YEAR, what a relief for poverty!

But M. Chevalier has other resources in reserve,--horses,
carriages, servants, articles of luxury, luxury at last!  How
much is contained in that one word, LUXURY!

Let us cut short this phantasmagoria by a simple calculation;
reflections will be in order later.  In 1842 the duties collected
on imports amounted to $25,800,000.  In this sum of $25,800,000,
sixty-one articles in common use figure for $24,800,000, and one
hundred and seventy-seven, used only by those who enjoy a high
degree of luxury, for TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS.  In the first
class sugar yielded a revenue of $8,600,000, coffee $2,400,000,
cotton $2,200,000, woollens $2,000,000, oils $1,600,000, coal
$800,000, linens and hemp $600,000,-- making a total of
$18,200,000 on seven articles.  The amount of revenue, then, is
lower in proportion as the article of merchandise from which it
is derived is less generally used, more rarely consumed, and
found accompanying a more refined degree of luxury.  And yet
articles of luxury are subject to much the highest taxes.
Therefore, even though, to obtain an appreciable reduction upon
articles of primary necessity, the duties upon articles of luxury
should be made a hundred times higher, the only result would be
the suppression of a branch of commerce by a prohibitory tax.
Now, the economists all favor the abolition of custom-houses;
doubtless they do not wish them replaced by city toll- gates?
Let us generalize this example: salt brings the treasury
$11,400,000, tobacco $16,800,000.  Let them show me, figures in
hand, by what taxes upon articles of luxury, after having
abolished the taxes on salt and tobacco, this deficit will be
made up.

You wish to strike articles of luxury; you take civilization at
the wrong end.  I maintain, for my part, that articles of luxury
should be free.  In economic language what are luxuries?  Those
products which bear the smallest ratio to the total wealth, those
which come last in the industrial series and whose creation
supposes the preexistence of all the others.  From this point of
view all the products of human labor have been, and in turn have
ceased to be, articles of luxury, since we mean by luxury nothing
but a relation of succession, whether chronological or
commercial, in the elements of wealth.  Luxury, in a word, is
synonymous with progress; it is, at each instant of social life,
the expression of the maximum of comfort realized by labor
and at which it is the right and destiny of all to arrive.  Now,
just as the tax respects for a time the newly-built house and the
newly-cleared field, so it should freely welcome new products and
precious articles, the latter because their scarcity should be
continually combatted, the former because every invention
deserves encouragement.  What! under a pretext of luxury would
you like to establish new classes of citizens?  And do you take
seriously the city of Salente and the prosopopoeia of Fabricius?
Since the subject leads us to it, let us talk of morality.
Doubtless you will not deny the truth so often dwelt upon by the
Senecas of all ages,--that luxury CORRUPTS and WEAKENS morals:
which means that it humanizes, elevates, and ennobles habits, and
that the first and most effective education for the people, the
stimulant of the ideal in most men, is luxury.  The Graces were
naked, according to the ancients; where has it ever been said
that they were needy?  It is the taste for luxury which in our
day, in the absence of religious principles, sustains the social
movement and reveals to the lower classes their dignity.  The
Academy of Moral and Political Sciences clearly understood this
when it chose luxury as the subject of one of its essays, and I
applaud its wisdom from the bottom of my heart.  Luxury, in fact,
is already more than a right in our society, it is a necessity;
and he is truly to be pitied who never allows himself a little
luxury.  And it is when universal effort tends to popularize
articles of luxury more and more that you would confine the
enjoyment of the people to articles which you are pleased to
describe as articles of necessity!  It is when ranks approach and
blend into each other through the generalization of luxury that
you would dig the line of demarcation deeper and increase the
height of your steps!  The workman sweats and sacrifices and
grinds in order to buy a set of jewelry for his sweetheart, a
necklace for his granddaughter, or a watch for his son; and you
would deprive him of this happiness, unless he pays your
tax,--that is, your fine.

But have you reflected that to tax articles of luxury is to
prohibit the luxurious arts?  Do you think that the silk-workers,
whose average wages does not reach forty cents; the milliners at
ten cents; the jewellers, goldsmiths, and clockmakers, with their
interminable periods of idleness; servants at forty dollars,--do
you think that they earn too much?

Are you sure that the tax on luxuries would not be paid by the
worker in the luxurious arts, as the tax on beverages is paid by
the consumer of beverages?  Do you even know whether higher
prices for articles of luxury would not be an obstacle to the
cheapness of necessary objects, and whether, in trying to favor
the most numerous class, you would not render the general
condition worse?  A fine speculation, in truth!  Four dollars to
be returned to the laborer on his wine and sugar, and eight to be
taken from him in the cost of his pleasures!  He shall gain
fifteen cents on the leather in his boots, and, to take his
family into the country four times a year, he shall pay one
dollar and twenty cents more for carriage-hire!  A small
bourgeois spends one hundred and twenty dollars for a
housekeeper, laundress, linen-tender, and errand-boys; but if,
by a wiser economy which works for the interest of all, he takes
a domestic, the exchequer, in the interest of articles of
subsistence, will punish this plan of economy!  What an absurd
thing is the philanthropy of the economists, when closely

Nevertheless I wish to satisfy your whim; and, since you
absolutely must have sumptuary laws, I undertake to give you
the receipt.  And I guarantee that in my system collection shall
be easy: no comptrollers, assessors, tasters, assayers,
inspectors, receivers; no watching, no office expenses; not the
smallest annoyance or the slightest indiscretion; no constraint
whatever.  Let it be decreed by a law that no one in future shall
receive two salaries at the same time, and that the highest fees,
in any situation, shall not exceed twelve hundred dollars in
Paris and eight hundred in the departments.  What! you lower your
eyes!  Confess, then, that your sumptuary laws are but hypocrisy.

To relieve the people some would apply commercial practices to
taxation.  If, for instance, they say, the price of salt were
reduced one-half, if letter-postage were lightened in the same
proportion, consumption would not fail to increase, the revenue
would be more than doubled, the treasury would gain, and so would
the consumer.

Let us suppose the event to confirm this anticipation.  Then I
say:  If letter-postage should be reduced three-fourths, and if
salt should be given away, would the treasury still gain?
Certainly not.  What, then, is the significance of what is called
the postal reform?  That for every kind of product there is a
natural rate, ABOVE which profit becomes usurious and tends to
decrease consumption, but BELOW which the producer suffers loss.
This singularly resembles the determination of value which the
economists reject, and in relation to which we said:  There is a
secret force that fixes the extreme limits between which value
oscillates, of which there is a mean term that expresses true

Surely no one wishes the postal service to be carried on at a
loss; the opinion, therefore, is that this service should be
performed AT COST.  This is so rudimentary in its simplicity
that one is astonished that it should have been necessary to
resort to a laborious investigation of the results of reducing
letter-postage in England; to pile up frightful figures and
probabilities beyond the limit of vision, to put the mind to
torture, all to find out whether a reduction in France would lead
to a surplus or a deficit, and finally to be unable to agree upon
anything!  What! there was not a man to be found in the Chamber
with sense enough to say:  There is no need of an ambassador's
report or examples from England; letter-postage should be
gradually reduced until receipts reach the level of
expenditures.[25]  What, then, has become of our old Gallic wit?

[25] Thank heaven! the minister has settled the question, and I
tender him my very sincere compliments.  By the proposed tariff
letter-postage will be reduced to 2 cents for distances under 12
1/2 miles; 4 cents, for distances between 12 1/2 and 25 miles; 6
cents, between 25 and 75 miles; 8 cents, between 75 and 225
miles; 10 cents, for longer distances.

But, it will be said, if the tax should furnish salt, tobacco,
letter-carriage, sugar, wines, meat, etc., at cost, consumption
would undoubtedly increase, and the improvement would be
enormous; but then how would the State meet its expenses?  The
amount of indirect taxes is nearly one hundred and twenty million
dollars; upon what would you have the State levy this sum?  If
the treasury makes nothing out of the postal service, it will
have to increase the tax on salt; if the tax on salt be lifted
also, it will have to throw the burden back upon drinks; there
would be no end to this litany.  Therefore the supply of products
at cost, whether by the State or by private industry, is

Therefore, I will reply in turn, relief of the unfortunate
classes by the State is impossible, as sumptuary laws are
impossible, as the progressive tax is impossible; and all your
irrelevancies regarding the tax are lawyer's quibbles.  You
have not even the hope that the increase of population, by
dividing the assessments, may lighten the burden of each; because
with population misery increases, and with misery the work and
the personnel of the State are augmented.

The various fiscal laws voted by the Chamber of Deputies during
the session of 1845-46 are so many examples of the absolute
incapacity of power, whatever it may be and however it may go to
work, to procure the comfort of the people.  From the very fact
that it is power,--that is, the representative of divine right
and of property, the organ of force,--it is necessarily sterile,
and all its acts are stamped in the corner with a fatal

I referred just now to the reform in the postage rates, which
reduces the price of letter-carriage about one-third.  Surely, if
motives only are in question, I have no reason to reproach the
government which has effected this useful reduction; much less
still will I seek to diminish its merit by miserable criticisms
upon matters of detail, the vile pasturage of the daily press.  A
tax, considerably burdensome, is reduced thirty per cent.; its
distribution is made more equitable and more regular; I see only
the fact, and I applaud the minister who has accomplished it.
But that is not the question.

In the first place, the advantage which the government gives us
by changing the tax on letters leaves the proportional--that is,
the unjust--character of this tax intact: that scarcely requires
demonstration.  The inequality of burdens, so far as the postal
tax is concerned, stands as before, the advantage of the
reduction going principally, not to the poorest, but to the
richest.  A certain business house which paid six hundred dollars
for letter-postage will pay hereafter only four hundred; it will
add, then, a net profit of two hundred dollars to the ten
thousand which its business brings it, and it will owe this to
the munificence of the treasury.  On the other hand, the peasant,
the laborer, who shall write twice a year to his son in the army,
and shall receive a like number of replies, will have saved ten
cents.  Is it not true that the postal reform acts in direct
opposition to the equitable distribution of the tax? that if,
according to M. Chevalier's wish, the government had desired to
strike the rich and spare the poor, the tax on letters was the
last that it would have needed to reduce?  Does it not seem that
the treasury, false to the spirit of its institution, has only
been awaiting the pretext of a reduction inappreciable by poverty
in order to seize the opportunity to make a present to wealth?

That is what the critics of the bill should have said, and that
is what none of them saw.  It is true that then the criticism,
instead of applying to the minister, struck power in its essence,
and with power property, which was not the design of the
opponents.  Truth today has all opinions against it.

And now could it have been otherwise?  No, since, if they kept
the old tax, they injured all without relieving any; and, if they
reduced it, they could not make different rates for classes of
citizens without violating the first article of the Charter,
which says:  "All Frenchmen are equal before the law,"--that is,
before the tax.  Now, the tax on letters is necessarily personal;
therefore it is a capitation-tax; therefore, that which is equity
in this respect being iniquity from another standpoint, an
equilibrium of burdens is impossible.

At the same time another reform was effected by the care of the
government,--that of the tax on cattle.  Formerly the duties on
cattle, whether on importation from foreign countries, or from
the country into the cities, were collected at so much a
head; henceforth they will be collected according to weight.
This useful reform, which has been clamored for so long, is due
in part to the influence of the economists, who, on this occasion
as on many others which I cannot recall, have shown the most
honorable zeal, and have left the idle declamations of socialism
very far in the rear.  But here again the good resulting from the
law for the amelioration of the condition of the poor is wholly
illusory.  They have equalized, regulated, the collection from
beasts; they have not distributed it equitably among men.  The
rich man, who consumes twelve hundred pounds of meat a year, will
feel the effects of the new condition laid upon the butchers; the
immense majority of the people, who never eat meat, will not
notice it.  And I renew my question of a moment ago:  Could the
government, the Chamber, do otherwise than as it has done?  No,
once more; for you cannot say to the butcher:  You shall sell
your meat to the rich man for twenty cents a pound and to the
poor man for five cents.  It would be rather the contrary that
you would obtain from the butcher.

So with salt.  The government has reduced four-fifths the tax on
salt used in agriculture, on condition of its undergoing a
transformation.  A certain journalist, having no better objection
to raise, has made thereupon a complaint in which he grieves over
the lot of those poor peasants who are more maltreated by the law
than their cattle.  For the third time I ask:  Could it be
otherwise?  Of two things one: either the reduction will be
absolute, and then the tax on salt must be replaced by a tax on
something else; now I defy entire French journalism to invent a
tax which will bear two minutes' examination; or else the
reduction will be partial, whether by maintaining a portion of
the duties on salt in all its uses, or by abolishing
entirely the duties on salt used in certain ways.  In the first
case, the reduction is insufficient for agriculture and the poor;
in the second, the capitation-tax still exists, in its enormous
disproportion.  Whatever may be done, it is the poor man, always
the poor man, who is struck, since, in spite of all theories, the
tax can never be laid except in the ratio of the capital
possessed or consumed, and since, if the treasury should try to
proceed otherwise, it would arrest progress, prohibit wealth, and
kill capital.

The democrats, who reproach us with sacrificing the revolutionary
interest (what is the revolutionary interest?) to the socialistic
interest, ought really to tell us how, without making the State
the sole proprietor and without decreeing the community of goods
and gains, they mean, by any system of taxation whatever, to
relieve the people and restore to labor what capital takes from
it.  In vain do I rack my brains; on all questions I see power
placed in the falsest situation, and the opinion of journals
straying into limitless absurdity.

In 1842 M. Arago was in favor of the administration of railways
by corporations, and the majority in France thought with him.  In
1846 he has announced a change in his opinion; and, apart from
the speculators in railways, it may be said again that the
majority of citizens have changed as M. Arago has.  What is to be
believed and what is to be done amid this see-sawing of the
savants and of France?

State administration, it would seem, ought to better assure the
interests of the country; but it is slow, expensive, and
unintelligent.  Twenty-five years of mistakes, miscalculations,
improvidence, hundreds of millions thrown away, in the great work
of canalizing the country, have proved it to the most
incredulous.  We have even seen engineers, members of the
administration, loudly proclaiming the incapacity of the
State in the matter of public works as well as of industry.

Administration by corporations is irreproachable, it is true,
from the standpoint of the interest of the stockholders; but with
these the general interest is sacrificed, the door opened to
speculation, and the exploitation of the public by monopoly

The ideal system would be one uniting the advantages of both
methods without presenting any of their shortcomings.  Now, the
means of realizing these contradictory characteristics? the means
of breathing zeal, economy, penetration into these irremovable
officers who have nothing to gain or to lose? the means of
rendering the interests of the public as dear to a corporation as
its own, of making these interests veritably its own, and still
keeping it distinct from the State and having consequently its
private interests?  Who is there, in the official world, that
conceives the necessity and therefore the possibility of such a
reconciliation? much more, then, who possesses its secret?

In such an emergency the government, as usual, has chosen the
course of eclecticism; it has taken a part of the administration
for itself and left the rest to the corporations; that is,
instead of reconciling the contraries, it has placed them exactly
in conflict.  And the press, which in all things is precisely on
a par with power in the matter of wit,--the press, dividing
itself into three fractions, has decided, one for the ministerial
compromise, another for the exclusion of the State, and the third
for the exclusion of the corporations.  So that today no more
than before do the public or M. Arago, in spite of their
somersault, know what they want.

What a herd is the French nation in this nineteenth century, with
its three powers, its press, its scientific bodies, its
literature, its instruction!  A hundred thousand men, in our
country, have their eyes constantly open upon everything that
interests national progress and the country's honor.  Now,
propound to these hundred thousand men the simplest question of
public order, and you may be assured that all will rush pell-mell
into the same absurdity.

Is it better that the promotion of officials should be governed
by merit or by length of service?

Certainly there is no one who would not like to see this double
method of estimating capacities blended into one.  What a society
it would be in which the rights of talent would be always in
harmony with those of age!  But, they say, such perfection is
utopian, for it is contradictory in its statement.  And instead
of seeing that it is precisely the contradiction which makes the
thing possible, they begin to dispute over the respective value
of the two opposed systems, which, each leading to the absurd,
equally give rise to intolerable abuses.

Who shall be the judge of merit? asks one: the government.  Now,
the government recognizes merit only in its creatures.  Therefore
no promotion by choice, none of that immoral system which
destroys the independence and the dignity of the office-holder.

But, says another, length of service is undoubtedly very
respectable.  It is a pity that it has the disadvantage of
rendering stagnant things which are essentially voluntary and
free,--labor and thought; of creating obstacles to power even
among its agents, and of bestowing upon chance, often upon
incapacity, the reward of genius and audacity.

Finally they compromise: to the government is accorded the power
of appointing arbitrarily to a certain number of offices
pretended men of merit, who are supposed to have no need of
experience, while the rest, apparently deemed incapable, are
promoted in turn.  And the press, that ambling old nag of all
presumptuous mediocrities, which generally lives only by the
gratuitous compositions of young people as destitute of talent as
of acquired knowledge, hastens to begin again its attacks upon
power, accusing it,--not without reason too,--here of favoritism,
there of routine.

Who could hope ever to do anything to the satisfaction of the
press?  After having declaimed and gesticulated against the
enormous size of the budget, here it is clamoring for increased
salaries for an army of officials, who, to tell the truth, really
have not the wherewithal to live.  Now it is the teachers, of
high and low grade, who make their complaints heard through its
columns; now it is the country clergy, so insufficiently paid
that they have been forced to maintain their fees, a fertile
source of scandal and abuse.  Then it is the whole administrative
nation, which is neither lodged, nor clothed, nor warmed, nor
fed: it is a million men with their families, nearly an eighth of
the population, whose poverty brings shame upon France and for
whom one hundred million dollars should at once be added to the
budget.  Note that in this immense personnel there is not one man
too many; on the contrary, if the population grows, it will
increase proportionally.  Are you in a position to tax the nation
to the extent of four hundred million dollars?  Can you take, out
of an average income of $184 for four persons, $47.25--more than
one-fourth--to pay, together with the other expenses of the
State, the salaries of the non-productive laborers?  And if you
cannot, if you can neither pay your expenses nor reduce them,
what do you want? of what do you complain?

Let the people know it, then, once for all: all the hopes of
reduction and equity in taxation, with which they are lulled by
turns by the harangues of power and the diatribes of party
leaders, are so many mystifications; the tax cannot be reduced,
nor can its assessment be more equitable, under the monopoly
system.  On the contrary, the lower the condition of the
citizen becomes, the heavier becomes his tax; that is inevitable,
irresistible, in spite of the avowed design of the legislator and
the repeated efforts of the treasury.  Whoever cannot become or
remain rich, whoever has entered the cavern of misfortune, must
make up his mind to pay in proportion to his poverty:  Lasciate
ogni speranza, voi ch' entrate.

Taxation, then, police,--henceforth we shall not separate these
two ideas,--is a new source of pauperism; taxation aggravates the
subversive effects of the preceding antinomies,--division of
labor, machinery, competition, monopoly.  It attacks the laborer
in his liberty and in his conscience, in his body and in his
soul, by parasitism, vexations, the frauds which it prompts, and
the punishments which follow them.

Under Louis XIV. the smuggling of salt alone caused annually
thirty- seven hundred domiciliary seizures, two thousand arrests
of men, eighteen hundred of women, sixty-six hundred of children,
eleven hundred seizures of horses, fifty confiscations of
carriages, and three hundred condemnations to the galleys.  And
this, observes the historian, was the result of one tax
alone,--the salt-tax.  What, then, was the total number of
unfortunates imprisoned, tortured, expropriated, on account of
the tax?

In England, out of every four families, one is unproductive, and
that is the family which enjoys an abundance.  What an advantage
it would be for the working-class, you think, if this leprosy of
parasitism should be removed!  Undoubtedly, in theory, you are
right; in practice, the suppression of parasitism would be a
calamity.  Though one-fourth of the population of England is
unproductive, another fourth of the same population is at work
for it: now, what would these laborers do, if they should
suddenly lose the market for their products?  An absurd
supposition, you say.  Yes, an absurd supposition, but a very
real supposition, and one which you must admit precisely because
it is absurd.  In France a standing army of five hundred thousand
men, forty thousand priests, twenty thousand doctors, eighty
thousand lawyers, and I know not how many hundred thousand other
nonproducers of every sort, constitute an immense market for our
agriculture and our manufactures.  Let this market suddenly
close, and manufactures will stop, commerce will go into
bankruptcy, and agriculture will be smothered beneath its

But how is it conceivable that a nation should find its market
clogged because of having got rid of its useless mouths?  Ask
rather why an engine, whose consumption has been figured at six
hundred pounds of coal an hour, loses its power if it is given
only three hundred.  But again, might not these non-producers be
made producers, since we cannot get rid of them?  Eh! child: tell
me, then, how you will do without police, and monopoly, and
competition, and all the contradictions, in short, of which your
order of things is made up.  Listen.

In 1844, at the time of the troubles in Rive-de-Gier, M. Anselme
Petetin published in the "Revue Independante" two articles, full
of reason and sincerity, concerning the anarchy prevailing in the
conduct of the coal mines in the basin of the Loire.  M. Petetin
pointed out the necessity of uniting the mines and centralizing
their administration.  The facts which he laid before the public
were not unknown to power; has power troubled itself about
the union of the mines and the organization of that industry?
Not at all.  Power has followed the principle of free
competition; it has let alone and looked on.

Since that time the mining companies have combined, not without
causing some anxiety to consumers, who have seen in this
combination a plot to raise the price of fuel.  Will power, which
has received numerous complaints upon this subject, intervene to
restore competition and prevent monopoly?  It cannot do it; the
right of combination is identical in law with the right of
association; monopoly is the basis of our society, as competition
is its conquest; and, provided there is no riot, power will let
alone and look on.  What other course could it pursue?  Can it
prohibit a legally established commercial association?  Can it
oblige neighbors to destroy each other?  Can it forbid them to
reduce their expenses?  Can it establish a maximum?  If power
should do any one of these things, it would overturn the
established order.  Power, therefore, can take no initiative: it
is instituted to defend and protect monopoly and competition at
once, within the limitations of patents, licenses, land taxes,
and other bonds which it has placed upon property.  Apart from
these limitations power has no sort of right to act in the name
of society.  The social right is not defined; moreover, it would
be a denial of monopoly and competition.  How, then, could power
take up the defence of that which the law did not foresee or
define, of that which is the opposite of the rights recognized by
the legislator?

Consequently, when the miner, whom we must consider in the events
of Rive-de-Gier as the real representative of society against the
mine- owners, saw fit to resist the scheme of the monopolists by
defending his wages and opposing combination to combination,
power shot the miner down.  And the political brawlers accused
authority, saying it was partial, ferocious, sold to monopoly,
etc.  For my part, I declare that this way of viewing the acts of
authority seems to me scarcely philosophical, and I reject it
with all my energies.  It is possible that they might have killed
fewer people, possible also that they might have killed more: the
fact to be noticed here is not the number of dead and wounded,
but the repression of the workers.  Those who have criticised
authority would have done as it did, barring perhaps the
impatience of its bayonets and the accuracy of its aim: they
would have repressed, I say; they would not have been able to do
anything else.  And the reason, which it would be vain to try to
brush aside, is that competition is legal, joint-stock
association is legal, supply and demand are legal, and all the
consequences which flow directly from competition, joint-stock
association, and free commerce are legal, whereas workingmen's
strikes are ILLEGAL.  And it is not only the penal code which
says this, but the economic system, the necessity of the
established order.  As long as labor is not sovereign, it must be
a slave; society is possible only on this condition.  That each
worker individually should have the free disposition of his
person and his arms may be tolerated;[26] but that the workers
should undertake, by combinations, to do violence to monopoly
society cannot permit.  Crush monopoly, and you abolish
competition, and you disorganize the workshop, and you sow
dissolution everywhere.  Authority, in shooting down the miners,
found itself in the position of Brutus placed between his
paternal love and his consular duties: he had to sacrifice either
his children or the republic.  The alternative was horrible, I
admit; but such is the spirit and letter of the social compact,
such is the tenor of the charter, such is the order of

[26] The new law regarding service-books has confined the
independence of workers within narrower limits.  The democratic
press has again thundered its indignation this subject against
those in power, as if they had been guilty of anything more than
the application of the principles of authority and property,
which are those of democracy.  What the Chambers have done in
regard to service-books was inevitable, and should have been
expected.  It is as impossible for a society founded on the
proprietary principle not to end in class distinctions as for a
democracy to avoid despotism, for a religion to be reasonable,
for fanaticism to show tolerance.  This is the law of
contradiction: how long will it take us to understand it?

Thus the police function, instituted for the defence of the
proletariat, is directed entirely against the proletariat.  The
proletaire is driven from the forests, from the rivers, from the
mountains; even the cross- roads are forbidden him; soon he will
know no road save that which leads to prison.

The advance in agriculture has made the advantage of artificial
meadows and the necessity of abolishing common land generally
felt.  Everywhere communal lands are being cleared, let,
enclosed; new advances, new wealth.  But the poor day-laborer,
whose only patrimony is the communal land and who supports a cow
and several sheep in summer by letting them feed along the roads,
through the underbrush, and over the stripped fields, will lose
his sole and last resource.  The landed proprietor, the purchaser
or farmer of the communal lands, will alone thereafter sell, with
his wheat and vegetables, milk and cheese.  Instead of weakening
an old monopoly, they create a new one.  Even the road- laborers
reserve for themselves the edges of the roads as a meadow
belonging to them, and drive off all non-administrative cattle.
What follows?  That the day-laborer, before abandoning his cow,
lets it feed in contravention of the law, becomes a marauder,
commits a thousand depredations, and is punished by fine and
imprisonment: of what use to him are police and agricultural
progress?  Last year the mayor of Mulhouse, to prevent
grape-stealing, forbade every individual not an owner of vines to
travel by day or night over roads running by or through
vineyards,--a charitable precaution, since it prevented even
desires and regrets.  But if the public highway is nothing but an
accessory of private property; if the communal lands are
converted into private property; if the public domain, in short,
assimilated to private property, is guarded, exploited, leased,
and sold like private property,--what remains for the proletaire?
Of what advantage is it to him that society has left the state of
war to enter the regime of police?

Industry, as well as land, has its privileges,--privileges
consecrated by the law, as always, under conditions and
reservations, but, as always also, to the great disadvantage of
the consumer.  The question is interesting; we will say a few
words upon it.

I quote M. Renouard.

"Privileges," says M. Renouard, "were a corrective of

I ask M. Renouard's permission to translate his thought by
reversing his phrase:  Regulation was a corrective of privilege.
For whoever says regulation says limitation: now, how conceive of
limiting privilege before it existed?  I can conceive a sovereign
submitting privileges to regulations; but I cannot at all
understand why he should create privileges expressly to weaken
the effect of regulations.  There is nothing to prompt such a
concession; it would be an effect without a cause.  In logic as
well as in history, everything is appropriated and monopolized
when laws and regulations arrive: in this respect civil
legislation is like penal legislation.  The first results
from possession and appropriation, the second from the appearance
of crimes and offences.  M. Renouard, preoccupied with the idea
of servitude inherent in all regulation, has considered privilege
as a compensation for this servitude; and it was this which led
what M. Renouard adds proves that he meant the opposite:

The fundamental principle of our legislation, that of granting
temporary monopoly as a condition of a contract between society
and the laborer, has always prevailed, etc.

What is, in reality, this grant of a monopoly?  A simple
acknowledgment, a declaration.  Society, wishing to favor a new
industry and enjoy the advantages which it promises, BARGAINS
with the inventor, as it has bargained with the farmer; it
guarantees him the monopoly of his industry for a time; but it
does not create the monopoly.  The monopoly exists by the very
fact of the invention; and the acknowledgment of the monopoly is
what constitutes society.

This ambiguity cleared up, I pass to the contradictions of the

All industrial nations have adopted the establishment of a
temporary monopoly as a condition of a contract between society
and the inventor. . . . .  I do not take readily to the belief
that all legislators of all countries have committed robbery.

M. Renouard, if ever he reads this work, will do me the justice
to admit that, in quoting him, I do not criticise his thought; he
himself has perceived the contradictions of the patent law.  All
that I pretend is to connect this contradiction with the general

Why, in the first place, a TEMPORARY monopoly in manufacture,
while land monopoly is PERPETUAL?  The Egyptians were more
logical; with them these two monopolies were alike hereditary,
perpetual, inviolable.  I know the considerations which have
prevailed against the perpetuity of literary property, and I
admit them all; but these considerations apply equally well to
property in land; moreover, they leave intact all the arguments
brought forward against them.  What, then, is the secret of all
these variations of the legislator?  For the rest, I do not need
to say that, in pointing out this inconsistency, it is not my
purpose either to slander or to satirize; I admit that the course
of the legislator is determined, not by his will, but by

But the most flagrant contradiction is that which results from
the enacting section of the law.  Title IV, article 30, % 3,
reads:  "If the patent relates to principles, methods, systems,
discoveries, theoretical or purely scientific conceptions,
without indicating their industrial applications, the patent is

a SYSTEM?  It is the especial fruit of genius, it is invention
in its purity, it is the idea, it is everything.  The application
is the gross fact, nothing.  Thus the law excludes from the
benefit of the patent the very thing which deserves it,--namely,
the idea; on the contrary, it grants a patent to the
application,--that is, to the material fact, to a pattern of the
idea, as Plato would have said.  Therefore it is wrongly called a

In our day, if a man had invented arithmetic, algebra, or the
decimal system, he would have obtained no patent; but Bareme
would have had a right of property in his Computations.  Pascal,
for his theory of the weight of the atmosphere, would not have
been patented; instead of him, a glazier would have obtained the
privilege of the barometer.  I quote M. Arago:

After two thousand years it occurred to one of our
fellow-countrymen that the screw of Archimedes, which is used to
raise water, might be employed in forcing down gases; it
suffices, without making any change, to turn it from right to
left, instead of turning it, as when raising water, from left to
right.  Large volumes of gas, charged with foreign substances,
are thus forced into water to a great depth; the gas is purified
in rising again.  I maintain that there was an invention; that
the person who saw a way to make the screw of Archimedes a
blowing machine was entitled to a patent.

What is more extraordinary is that Archimedes himself would thus
be obliged to buy the right to use his screw; and M. Arago
considers that just.

It is useless to multiply these examples: what the law meant to
monopolize is, as I said just now, not the idea, but the fact;
not the invention, but the occupancy.  As if the idea were not
the category which includes all the facts that express it; as if
a method, a system, were not a generalization of experiences, and
consequently that which properly constitutes the fruit of
genius,--invention!  Here legislation is more than anti-economic,
it borders on the silly.  Therefore I am entitled to ask the
legislator why, in spite of free competition, which is nothing
but the right to apply a theory, a principle, a method, a
non-appropriable system, he forbids in certain cases this same
competition, this right to apply a principle?"  It is no longer
possible," says M. Renouard, with strong reason, "to stifle
competitors by combining in corporations and guilds; the loss is
supplied by patents."  Why has the legislator given hands to this
conspiracy of monopolies, to this interdict upon theories
belonging to all?

But what is the use of continually questioning one who can say
nothing?  The legislator did not know in what spirit he was
acting when he made this strange application of the right of
property, which, to be exact, we ought to call the right of
priority.  Let him explain himself, then, at least, regarding the
clauses of the contract made by him, in our name, with the

I pass in silence the part relating to dates and other
administrative and fiscal formalities, and come to this article:

The patent does not guarantee the invention.

Doubtless society, or the prince who represents it, cannot and
should not guarantee the invention, since, in granting a monopoly
for fourteen years, society becomes the purchaser of the
privilege, and consequently it is for the patentee to furnish the
guarantee.  How, then, can legislators proudly say to their
constituents:  "We have negotiated in your name with an inventor;
he pledges himself to give you the enjoyment of his discovery on
condition of having the exclusive exploitation for fourteen
years.  But we do not guarantee the invention"?  On what, then,
have you relied, legislators?  How did you fail to see that,
without a guarantee of the invention, you conceded a privilege,
not for a real discovery, but for a possible discovery, and that
thus the field of industry was given up by you before the plough
was found?  Certainly, your duty bade you to be prudent; but who
gave you a commission to be dupes?

Thus the patent for invention is not even the fixing of a date;
it is an abandonment in anticipation.  It is as if the law should
say:  "I assure the land to the first occupant, but without
guaranteeing its quality, its location, or even its existence;
not even knowing whether I ought to give it up or that it falls
within the domain of appropriation!"  A pretty use of the
legislative power!

I know that the law had excellent reasons for abstaining; but I
maintain that it also had good reasons for intervening.  Proof:

"It cannot be concealed," says M. Renouard, "it cannot be
prevented; patents are and will be instruments of quackery as
well as a legitimate reward of labor and genius. . . .  It is for
the good sense of the public to do justice to juggleries."

As well say it is for the good sense of the public to distinguish
true remedies from false, pure wine from adulterated; or, it is
for the good sense of the public to distinguish in a buttonhole
the decoration awarded to merit from that prostituted to
mediocrity and intrigue.  Why, then, do you call yourselves the
State, Power, Authority, Police, if the work of Police must be
performed by the good sense of the public?

As the proverb says, he who owns land must defend it; likewise,
he who holds a privilege is liable to attack.

Well! how will you judge the counterfeit, if you have no
guarantee?  In vain will they offer you the plea: in right first
occupancy, in fact similarity.  Where reality depends upon
quality, not to demand a guarantee is to grant no right over
anything, is to take away the means of comparing processes and
identifying the counterfeit.  In the matter of industrial
processes success depends upon such trifles!  Now, these trifles
are the whole.

I infer from all this that the law regarding patents for
inventions, indispensable so far as its motives are concerned, is
impossible--that is, illogical, arbitrary, disastrous--in its
economy.  Under the control of certain necessities the legislator
has thought best, in the general interest, to grant a privilege
for a definite thing; and he finds that he has given a
signature-in-blank to monopoly, that he has abandoned the chances
which the public had of making the discovery or some other
similar to it, that he has sacrificed the rights of competitors
without compensation, and abandoned the good faith of defenceless
consumers to the greed of quacks.  Then, in order that nothing
might be lacking to the absurdity of the contract, he has said to
those whom he ought to guarantee:  "Guarantee yourselves!"

I do not believe, any more than M. Renouard, that the legislators
of all ages and all countries have wilfully committed robbery in
sanctioning the various monopolies which are pivotal in public
economy.  But M. Renouard might well also agree with me that the
legislators of all ages and all countries have never understood
at all their own decrees.  A deaf and blind man once learned to
ring the village bells and wind the village clock.  It was
fortunate for him, in performing his bell- ringer's functions,
that neither the noise of the bells nor the height of the
bell-tower made him dizzy.  The legislators of all ages and all
countries, for whom I profess, with M. Renouard, the profoundest
respect, resemble that blind and deaf man; they are the
Jacks-in-the- clock-house of all human follies.

What a feather it would be in my cap if I should succeed in
making these automata reflect! if I could make them understand
that their work is a Penelope's web, which they are condemned to
unravel at one end as fast as they weave at the other!

Thus, while applauding the creation of patents, on other points
they demand the abolition of privileges, and always with the same
pride, the same satisfaction.  M. Horace Say wishes trade in meat
to be free.  Among other reasons he puts forward this strictly
mathematical argument:

The butcher who wants to retire from business seeks a purchaser
for his investment; he figures in the account his tools, his
merchandise, his reputation, and his custom; but under the
present system, he adds to these the value of the bare
title,--that is, the right to share in a monopoly.  Now, this
supplementary capital which the purchasing butcher gives for the
title bears interest; it is not a new creation; this interest
must enter into the price of his meat.  Hence the limitation of
the number of butchers' stalls has a tendency to raise the price
of meat rather than lower it.

I do not fear to affirm incidentally that what I have just said
about the sale of a butcher's stall applies to every charge
whatever having a salable title.

M. Horace Say's reasons for the abolition of the butcher's
privilege are unanswerable; moreover, they apply to printers,
notaries, attorneys, process-servers, clerks of courts,
auctioneers, brokers, dealers in stocks, druggists, and others,
as well as to butchers.  But they do not destroy the reasons
which have led to the adoption of these monopolies, and which are
generally deduced from the need of security, authenticity, and
regularity in business, as well as from the interests of commerce
and the public health.  The object, you say, is not attained.  My
God! I know it: leave the butcher's trade to competition, and you
will eat carrion; establish a monopoly in the butcher's trade,
and you will eat carrion.  That is the only fruit you can hope
for from your monopoly and patent legislation.

Abuses! cry the protective economists.  Establish over commerce a
supervisory police, make trade-marks obligatory, punish the
adulteration of products, etc.

In the path upon which civilization has entered, whichever way we
turn, we always end, then, either in the despotism of monopoly,
and consequently the oppression of consumers, or else in the
annihilation of privilege by the action of the police, which is
to go backwards in economy and dissolve society by destroying
liberty.  Marvellous thing! in this system of free industry,
abuses, like lice, being generated by their own remedies, if the
legislator should try to suppress all offences, be on the watch
against all frauds, and secure persons, property, and the public
welfare against any attack, going from reform to reform, he would
finally so multiply the non-productive functions that the entire
nation would be engaged in them, and that at last there would be
nobody left to produce.  Everybody would be a policeman; the
industrial class would become a myth.  Then, perhaps, order would
reign in monopoly.

"The principle of the law yet to be made concerning trade-marks,"
says M. Renouard, "is that these marks cannot and should not be
transformed into guarantees of quality."

This is a consequence of the patent law, which, as we have seen,
does not guarantee the invention.  Adopt M. Renouard's principle;
after that of what use will marks be?  Of what importance is it
to me to read on the cork of a bottle, instead of TWELVE-CENT
any other concern you will?  What I care for is not the name of
the merchant, but the quality and fair price of the merchandise.

The name of the manufacturer is supposed, it is true, to serve as
a concise sign of good or bad manufacture, of superior or
inferior quality.  Then why not frankly take part with those who
ask, besides the mark of ORIGIN, a mark significant of
something?  Such a reservation is incomprehensible.  The two
sorts of marks have the same purpose; the second is only a
statement or paraphrase of the first, a condensation of the
merchant's prospectus; why, once more, if the origin signifies
something, should not the mark define this significance?

M. Wolowski has very clearly developed this argument in his
opening lecture of 1843-44, the substance of which lies entirely
in the following analogy:

Just as the government has succeeded in determining a standard of
QUANTITY, it may, it should also fix a standard of QUALITY; one
of these standards is the necessary complement of the other.  The
monetary unit, the system of weights and measures, have not
infringed upon industrial liberty; no more would it be damaged by
a system of trade-marks.

M. Wolowski then supports himself on the authority of the princes
of the science, A. Smith and J. B. Say,--a precaution always
useful with hearers who bow to authority much more than to

I declare, for my part, that I thoroughly share M. Wolowski's
idea, and for the reason that I find it profoundly revolutionary.
The trade-mark, being, according to M. Wolowski's expression,
nothing but a standard of qualities, is equivalent in my eyes to
a general scheduling of prices.  For, whether a particular
administration marks in the name of the State and guarantees the
quality of the merchandise, as is the case with gold and silver,
or whether the matter of marking is left to the manufacturer,
from the moment that the mark must give THE INTRINSIC COMPOSITION
OF THE MERCHANDISE (these are M. Wolowski's own words) AND
resolves itself into a fixed price.  It is not the same thing as
price; two similar products, but differing in origin and quality,
may be of equal value, as a bottle of Burgundy may be worth a
bottle of Bordeaux; but the mark, being significant, leads to an
exact knowledge of the price, since it gives the analysis.  To
calculate the price of an article of merchandise is to decompose
it into its constituent parts; now, that is exactly what the
trade-mark must do, if designed to signify anything.  Therefore
we are on the road, as I have said, to a general scheduling of

But a general scheduling of prices is nothing but a determination
of all values, and here again political economy comes into
conflict with its own principles and tendencies.  Unfortunately,
to realize M. Wolowski's reform, it is necessary to begin by
solving all the previous contradictions and enter a higher sphere
of association; and it is this absence of solution which has
brought down upon M. Wolowski's system the condemnation of most
of his fellow-economists.

In fact, the system of trade-marks is inapplicable in the
existing order, because this system, contrary to the interests of
the manufacturers and repugnant to their habits, could be
sustained only by the energetic will of power.  Suppose for a
moment that the administration be charged with affixing the
marks; its agents will have to interpose continually in the work
of manufacture, as it interposes in the liquor business and the
manufacture of beer; further, these agents, whose functions seem
already so intrusive and annoying, deal only with taxable
quantities, not with exchangeable qualities.  These fiscal
supervisors and inspectors will have to carry their investigation
into all details in order to repress and prevent fraud; and what
fraud?  The legislator will have defined it either incorrectly or
not at all; it is at this point that the task becomes appalling.

There is no fraud in selling wine of the poorest quality, but
there is fraud in passing off one quality for another; then you
are obliged to differentiate the qualities of wines, and
consequently to guarantee them.  Is it fraudulent to mix wines?
Chaptal, in his treatise on the art of making wine, advises this
as eminently useful; on the other hand, experience proves that
certain wines, in some way antagonistic to each other or
incompatible, produce by their mixture a disagreeable and
unhealthy drink.  Then you are obliged to say what wines can be
usefully mixed, and what cannot.  Is it fraudulent to aromatize,
alcoholize, and water wines? Chaptal recommends this also;
and everybody knows that this drugging produces sometimes
advantageous results, sometimes pernicious and detestable
effects.  What substances will you proscribe?  In what cases?  In
what proportion?  Will you prohibit chicory in coffee, glucose in
beer, water, cider, and three-six alcohol in wine?

The Chamber of Deputies, in the rude attempt at a law which it
was pleased to make this year regarding the adulteration of
wines, stopped in the very middle of its work, overcome by the
inextricable difficulties of the question.  It succeeded in
declaring that the introduction of water into wine, and of
alcohol above the proportion of eighteen per cent., was
fraudulent, and in putting this fraud into the category of
offences.  It was on the ground of ideology; there one never
meets an obstacle.  But everybody has seen in this redoubling of
severity the interest of the treasury much more than that of the
consumer; the Chamber did not dare to create a whole army of
wine-tasters, inspectors, etc., to watch for fraud and identify
it, and thus load the budget with a few extra millions; in
prohibiting watering and alcoholization, the only means left to
the merchant-manufacturers of putting wine within the reach of
all and realizing profits, it did not succeed in increasing the
market by a decrease in production.  The chamber, in a word, in
prosecuting the adulteration of wines, has simply set back the
limits of fraud.  To make its work accomplish its purpose it
would first have to show how the liquor trade is possible without
adulteration, and how the people can buy unadulterated
wine,--which is beyond the competency and escapes the capacity of
the Chamber.

If you wish the consumer to be guaranteed, both as to value and
as to healthfulness, you are forced to know and to determine all
that constitutes good and honest production, to be continually at
the heels of the manufacturer, and to guide him at every step.
He no longer manufactures; you, the State, are the real

Thus you find yourself in a trap.  Either you hamper the liberty
of commerce by interfering in production in a thousand ways, or
you declare yourself sole producer and sole merchant.

In the first case, through annoying everybody, you will finally
cause everybody to rebel; and sooner or later, the State getting
itself expelled, trade-marks will be abolished.  In the second
you substitute everywhere the action of power for individual
initiative, which is contrary to the principles of political
economy and the constitution of society.  Do you take a middle
course?  It is favor, nepotism, hypocrisy, the worst of systems.

Suppose, now, that the marking be left to the manufacturer.  I
say that then the marks, even if made obligatory, will gradually
lose their SIGNIFICANCE, and at last become only proofs of
ORIGIN.  He knows but little of commerce who imagines that a
merchant, a head of a manufacturing enterprise, making use of
processes that are not patentable, will betray the secret of his
industry, of his profits, of his existence.  The significance
will then be a delusion; it is not in the power of the police to
make it otherwise.  The Roman emperors, to discover the
Christians who dissembled their religion, obliged everybody to
sacrifice to the idols.  They made apostates and martyrs; and the
number of Christians only increased.  Likewise significant marks,
useful to some houses, will engender innumerable frauds and
repressions; that is all that can be expected of them.  To induce
the manufacturer to frankly indicate the intrinsic
composition--that is, the industrial and commercial
value--of his merchandise, it is necessary to free him from the
perils of competition and satisfy his monopolistic instincts: can
you do it?  It is necessary, further, to interest the consumer in
the repression of fraud, which, so long as the producer is not
utterly disinterested, is at once impossible and contradictory.
Impossible: place on the one hand a depraved consumer, China; on
the other a desperate merchant, England; between them a venomous
drug causing excitement and intoxication; and, in spite of all
the police in the world, you will have trade in opium.
Contradictory: in society the consumer and the producer are but
one,--that is, both are interested in the production of that
which it is injurious to them to consume; and as, in the case of
each, consumption follows production and sale, all will combine
to guard the first interest, leaving it to each to guard himself
against the second.

The thought which prompted trade-marks is of the same character
as that which formerly inspired the maximum laws.  Here again is
one of the innumerable cross-roads of political economy.

It is indisputable that maximum laws, though made and supported
by their authors entirely as a relief from famine, have
invariably resulted in an aggravation of famine.  Accordingly it
is not injustice or malice with which the economists charge these
abhorred laws, but stupidity, inexpediency.  But what a
contradiction in the theory with which they oppose them!

To relieve famine it is necessary to call up provisions, or, to
put it better, to bring them to light; so far there is nothing to
reproach.  To secure a supply of provisions it is necessary to
attract the holders by profits, excite their competition,
and assure them complete liberty in the market: does not this
process strike you as the absurdest homoeopathy?  How is it that
the more easily I can be taxed the sooner I shall be provided?
Let alone, they say, let pass; let competition and monopoly act,
especially in times of famine, and even though famine is the
effect of competition and monopoly.  What logic! but, above all,
what morality!

But why, then, should there not be a tariff for farmers as well
as for bakers?  Why not a registration of the sowing, of the
harvest, of the vintage, of the pasturage, and of the cattle, as
well as a stamp for newspapers, circulars, and orders, or an
administration for brewers and wine-merchants?  Under the
monopoly system this would be, I admit, an increase of torments;
but with our tendencies to unfairness in trade and the
disposition of power to continually increase its personnel and
its budget, a law of inquisition regarding crops is becoming
daily more indispensable.

Besides, it would be difficult to say which, free trade or the
maximum, causes the more evil in times of famine.

But, whichever course you choose,--and you cannot avoid the
alternative,--the deception is sure and the disaster immense.
With the maximum goods seek concealment; the terror increasing
from the very effect of the law, the price of provisions rises
and rises; soon circulation stops, and the catastrophe follows,
as prompt and pitiless as a band of plunderers.  With competition
the progress of the scourge is slower, but no less fatal: how
many deaths from exhaustion or hunger before the high prices
attract food to the market! how many victims of extortion after
it has arrived!  It is the story of the king to whom God, in
punishment for his pride, offered the alternative of three days'
pestilence, three months' famine, or three years' war.  David
chose the shortest; the economists prefer the longest.  Man
is so miserable that he would rather end by consumption than by
apoplexy; it seems to him that he does not die as much.  This is
the reason why the disadvantages of the maximum and the benefits
of free trade have been so much exaggerated.

For the rest, if France during the last twenty-five years has
experienced no general famine, the cause is not in the liberty of
commerce, which knows very well, when it wishes, how to produce
scarcity in the midst of plenty and how to make famine prevail in
the bosom of abundance; it is in the improvement in the methods
of communication, which, shortening distances, soon restore the
equilibrium disturbed for a moment by local penury.  A striking
example of that sad truth that in society the general welfare is
never the effect of a conspiracy of individual wills!

The farther we delve into this system of illusory compromises
between monopoly and society,--that is, as we have explained in %
1 of this chapter, between capital and labor, between the
patriciate and the proletariat,--the more we discover that it is
all foreseen, regulated, and executed in accordance with this
infernal maxim, with which Hobbes and Machiavel, those theorists
of despotism, were unacquainted:  EVERYTHING BY THE PEOPLE AND
AGAINST THE PEOPLE.  While labor produces, capital, under the
mask of a false fecundity, enjoys and abuses; the legislator, in
offering his mediation, thought to recall the privileged class to
fraternal feelings and surround the laborer with guarantees; and
now he finds, by the fatal contradiction of interests, that each
of these guarantees is an instrument of torture.  It would
require a hundred volumes, the life of ten men, and a heart of
iron, to relate from this standpoint the crimes of the State
towards the poor and the infinite variety of its tortures.  A
summary glance at the principal classes of police will be
enough to enable us to estimate its spirit and economy.

After having sown trouble in all minds by a confusion of civil,
commercial, and administrative laws, made the idea of justice
more obscure by multiplying contradictions, and rendered
necessary a whole class of interpreters for the explanation of
this system, it has been found necessary also to organize the
repression of crimes and provide for their punishment.  Criminal
justice, that particularly rich order of the great family of
non-producers, whose maintenance costs France annually more than
six million dollars, has become to society a principle of
existence as necessary as bread is to the life of man; but with
this difference,--that man lives by the product of his hands,
while society devours its members and feeds on its own flesh.

It is calculated by some economists that there is,

In London    .  . 1 criminal to every 89 inhabitants.
In Liverpool .  . 1    "      "   "   45      "
In Newcastle .  . 1    "      "   "   27      "

But these figures lack accuracy, and, utterly frightful as they
seem, do not express the real degree of social perversion due to
the police.  We have to determine here not only the number of
recognized criminals, but the number of offences.  The work of
the criminal courts is only a special mechanism which serves to
place in relief the moral destruction of humanity under the
monopoly system; but this official exhibition is far from
including the whole extent of the evil.  Here are other figures
which will lead us to a more certain approximation.

The police courts of Paris disposed,

In 1835 .  .  .  .  of 106,467 cases.
In 1836 .  .  .  .  "  128,489   "
In 1837 .  .  .  .  "  140,247   "

Supposing this rate of increase to have continued up to 1846, and
to this total of misdemeanors adding the cases of the criminal
courts, the simple matters that go no further than the police,
and all the offences unknown or left unpunished,--offences far
surpassing in number, so the magistrates say, those which justice
reaches,--we shall arrive at the conclusion that in one year, in
the city of Paris, there are more infractions of the law
committed than there are inhabitants.  And as it is necessary to
deduct from the presumable authors of these infractions children
of seven years and under, who are outside the limits of guilt,
the figures will show that every adult citizen is guilty, three
or four times a year, of violating the established order.

Thus the proprietary system is maintained at Paris only by the
annual consummation of one or two millions of offences!  Now,
though all these offences should be the work of a single man, the
argument would still hold good: this man would be the scapegoat
loaded with the sins of Israel: of what consequence is the number
of the guilty, provided justice has its contingent?

Violence, perjury, robbery, cheating, contempt of persons and
society, are so much a part of the essence of monopoly; they flow
from it so naturally, with such perfect regularity, and in
accordance with laws so certain,--that it is possible to submit
their perpetration to calculation, and, given the number of a
population, the condition of its industry, and the stage of its
enlightenment, to rigorously deduce therefrom the statistics of
its morality.  The economists do not know yet what the principle
of value is; but they know, within a few decimals, the
proportionality of crime.  So many thousand souls, so many
malefactors, so many condemnations: about that there can be no
mistake.  It is one of the most beautiful applications of the
theory of chances, and the most advanced branch of economic
science.  If socialism had invented this accusing theory, the
whole world would have cried calumny.

Yet, after all, what is there in it that should surprise us?  As
misery is a necessary result of the contradictions of society, a
result which it is possible to determine mathematically from the
rate of interest, the rate of wages, and the prevailing
market-prices, so crimes and misdemeanors are another effect of
this same antagonism, susceptible, like its cause, of estimation
by figures.  The materialists have drawn the silliest inferences
from this subordination of liberty to the laws of numbers: as if
man were not under the influence of all that surrounds him, and
as if, since all that surrounds him is governed by inexorable
laws, he must not experience, in his freest manifestations, the
reaction of those laws!

The same character of necessity which we have just pointed out in
the establishment and sustenance of criminal justice is found,
but under a more metaphysical aspect, in its morality.

In the opinion of all moralists, the penalty should be such as to
secure the reformation of the offender, and consequently free
from everything that might cause his degradation.  Far be it from
me to combat this blessed tendency of minds and disparage
attempts which would have been the glory of the greatest men of
antiquity.  Philanthropy, in spite of the ridicule which
sometimes attaches to its name, will remain, in the eyes of
posterity, the most honorable characteristic of our time: the
abolition of the death penalty, which is merely postponed; the
abolition of the stigma; the studies regarding the effects of the
cellular system; the establishment of workshops in the prisons;
and a multitude of other reforms which I cannot even
name,--give evidence of real progress in our ideas and in our
morals.  What the author of Christianity, in an impulse of
sublime love, related of his mystical kingdom, where the
repentant sinner was to be glorified above the just and the
innocent man,--that utopia of Christian charity has become the
aspiration of our sceptical society; and when one thinks of the
unanimity of feeling which prevails in respect to it, he asks
himself with surprise who then prevents this aspiration from
being realized.

Alas! it is because reason is still stronger than love, and logic
more tenacious than crime; it is because here as everywhere in
our civilization there reigns an insoluble contradiction.  Let us
not wander into fantastic worlds; let us embrace, in all its
frightful nudity, the real one.

  Le crime fait la honte, et non pas l'echafaud,[27]

says the proverb.  By the simple fact that man is punished,
provided he deserved to be, he is degraded: the penalty renders
him infamous, not by virtue of the definition of the code, but by
reason of the fault which caused the punishment.  Of what
importance, then, is the materiality of the punishment? of what
importance all your penitentiary systems?  What you do is to
satisfy your feelings, but is powerless to rehabilitate the
unfortunate whom your justice strikes.  The guilty man, once
branded by chastisement, is incapable of reconciliation; his
stain is indelible, and his damnation eternal.  If it were
possible for it to be otherwise, the penalty would cease to be
proportional to the offence; it would be no more than a fiction,
it would be nothing.  He whom misery has led to larceny, if he
suffers himself to fall into the hands of justice, remains
forever the enemy of God and men; better for him that he had
never been born; it was Jesus Christ who said it:  Bonum erat ei,
si natus non fuisset homo ille.  And what Jesus Christ declared,
Christians and infidels do not dispute: the irreparability of
shame is, of all the revelations of the Gospel, the only one
which the proprietary world has understood.  Thus, separated from
nature by monopoly, cut off from humanity by poverty, the mother
of crime and its punishment, what refuge remains for the plebeian
whom labor cannot support, and who is not strong enough to take?

[27] The crime makes the shame, and not the scaffold.

To conduct this offensive and defensive war against the
proletariat a public force was indispensable: the executive power
grew out of the necessities of civil legislation, administration,
and justice.  And there again the most beautiful hopes have
changed into bitter disappointments.

As legislator, as burgomaster, and as judge, the prince has set
himself up as a representative of divine authority.  A defender
of the poor, the widow, and the orphan, he has promised to cause
liberty and equality to prevail around the throne, to come to the
aid of labor, and to listen to the voice of the people.  And the
people have thrown themselves lovingly into the arms of power;
and, when experience has made them feel that power was against
them, instead of blaming the institution, they have fallen to
accusing the prince, ever unwilling to understand that, the
prince being by nature and destination the chief of non-producers
and greatest of monopolists, it was impossible for him, in spite
of himself, to take up the cause of the people.

All criticism, whether of the form or the acts of government,
ends in this essential contradiction.  And when the self-styled
theorists of the sovereignty of the people pretend that the
remedy for the tyranny of power consists in causing it to emanate
from popular suffrage, they simply turn, like the squirrel, in
their cage.  For, from the moment that the essential conditions
of power--that is, authority, property, hierarchy--are preserved,
the suffrage of the people is nothing but the consent of the
people to their oppression,--which is the silliest charlatanism.

In the system of authority, whatever its origin, monarchical or
democratic, power is the noble organ of society; by it society
lives and moves; all initiative emanates from it; order and
perfection are wholly its work.  According to the definitions of
economic science, on the contrary,--definitions which harmonize
with the reality of things,-- power is the series of
non-producers which social organization must tend to indefinitely
reduce.  How, then, with the principle of authority so dear to
democrats, shall the aspiration of political economy, an
aspiration which is also that of the people, be realized?  How
shall the government, which by the hypothesis is everything,
become an obedient servant, a subordinate organ?  Why should the
prince have received power simply to weaken it, and why should he
labor, with a view to order, for his own elimination?  Why should
he not try rather to fortify himself, to add to his courtiers, to
continually obtain new subsidies, and finally to free himself
from dependence on the people, the inevitable goal of all power
originating in the people?

It is said that the people, naming its legislators and through
them making its will known to power, will always be in a position
to arrest its invasions; that thus the people will fill at once
the role of prince and that of sovereign.  Such, in a word, is
the utopia of democrats, the eternal mystification with which
they abuse the proletariat.

But will the people make laws against power; against the
principle of authority and hierarchy, which is the principle
upon which society is based; against liberty and property?
According to our hypothesis, this is more than impossible, it is
contradictory.  Then property, monopoly, competition, industrial
privileges, the inequality of fortunes, the preponderance of
capital, hierarchical and crushing centralization, administrative
oppression, legal absolutism, will be preserved; and, as it is
impossible for a government not to act in the direction of its
principle, capital will remain as before the god of society, and
the people, still exploited, still degraded, will have gained by
their attempt at sovereignty only a demonstration of their

In vain do the partisans of power, all those dynastico-republican
doctrinaires who are alike in everything but tactics, flatter
themselves that, once in control of affairs, they will inaugurate
reform everywhere.  Reform what?

Reform the constitution?  It is impossible.  Though the entire
nation should enter the constitutional convention, it would not
leave it until it had either voted its servitude under another
form, or decreed its dissolution.

Reconstruct the code, the work of the emperor, the pure substance
of Roman law and custom?  It is impossible.  What have you to put
in the place of your proprietary routine, outside of which you
see and understand nothing? in the place of your laws of
monopoly, the limits of whose circle your imagination is
powerless to overstep?  More than half a century ago royalty and
democracy, those two sibyls which the ancient world has
bequeathed to us, undertook, by a constitutional compromise, to
harmonize their oracles; since the wisdom of the prince has
placed itself in unison with the voice of the people, what
revelation has resulted? what principle of order has been
discovered? what issue from the labyrinth of privilege pointed
out?  Before prince and people had signed this strange
compromise, in what were their ideas not similar? and now that
each is trying to break the contract, in what do they differ?

Diminish public burdens, assess taxes on a more equitable basis?
It is impossible: to the treasury as to the army the man of the
people will always furnish more than his contingent.

Regulate monopoly, bridle competition?  It is impossible; you
would kill production.

Open new markets?  It is impossible.[28]

Organize credit?  It is impossible.[29]

Attack heredity?  It is impossible.[30]

[28] See volume II., chapter IX.
[29] Ibid., chapter X.
[30] Ibid., chapter XI.

Create national workshops, assure a minimum to unemployed
workmen, and assign to employees a share of the profits?  It is
impossible.  It is in the nature of government to be able to deal
with labor only to enchain laborers, as it deals with products
only to levy its tithe.

Repair, by a system of indemnities, the disastrous effects of
machinery?  It is impossible.

Combat by regulations the degrading influence of parcellaire
division?  It is impossible.

Cause the people to enjoy the benefits of education?  It is

Establish a tariff of prices and wages, and fix the value of
things by sovereign authority?  It is impossible, it is

Of all the reforms which society in its distress solicits not one
is within the competence of power; not one can be realized
by it, because the essence of power is repugnant to them all, and
it is not given to man to unite what God has divided.

At least, the partisans of governmental initiative will say, you
will admit that, in the accomplishment of the revolution promised
by the development of antinomies, power would be a potent
auxiliary.  Why, then, do you oppose a reform which, putting
power in the hands of the people, would second your views so
well?  Social reform is the object; political reform is the
instrument: why, if you wish the end, do you reject the means?

Such is today the reasoning of the entire democratic press, which
I forgive with all my heart for having at last, by this
quasi-socialistic confession of faith, itself proclaimed the
emptiness of its theories.  It is in the name of science, then,
that democracy calls for a political reform as a preliminary to
social reform.  But science protests against this subterfuge as
an insult; science repudiates any alliance with politics, and,
very far from expecting from it the slightest aid, must begin
with politics its work of exclusion.

How little affinity there is between the human mind and truth!
When I see the democracy, socialistic but yesterday, continually
asking for capital in order to combat capital's influence; for
wealth, in order to cure poverty; for the abandonment of liberty,
in order to organize liberty; for the reformation of government,
in order to reform society,--when I see it, I say, taking upon
itself the responsibility of society, provided social questions
be set aside or solved, it seems to me as if I were listening to
a fortune-teller who, before answering the questions of those who
consult her, begins by inquiring into their age, their condition,
their family, and all the accidents of their life.  Eh! miserable
sorceress, if you know the future, you know who I am and what I
want; why do you ask me to tell you?

Likewise I will answer the democrats:  If you know the use that
you should make of power, and if you know how power should be
organized, you possess economic science.  Now, if you possess
economic science, if you have the key of its contradictions, if
you are in a position to organize labor, if you have studied the
laws of exchange, you have no need of the capital of the nation
or of public force.  From this day forth you are more potent than
money, stronger than power.  For, since the laborers are with
you, you are by that fact alone masters of production; you hold
commerce, manufactures, and agriculture enchained; you have the
entire social capital at your disposition; you have full control
of taxation; you block the wheels of power, and you trample
monopoly under foot.  What other initiative, what greater
authority, do you ask?  What prevents you from applying your

Surely not political economy, although generally followed and
accredited: for, everything in political economy having a true
side and a false side, your only problem is to combine the
economic elements in such a way that their total shall no longer
present a contradiction.

Nor is it the civil law: for that law, sanctioning economic
routine solely because of its advantages and in spite of its
disadvantages, is susceptible, like political economy itself, of
being bent to all the exigencies of an exact synthesis, and
consequently is as favorable to you as possible.

Finally, it is not power, which, the last expression of
antagonism and created only to defend the law, could stand in
your way only by forswearing itself.

Once more, then, what stops you?

If you possess social science, you know that the problem of
association consists in organizing, not only the
NON-PRODUCERS,--in that direction, thank heaven! little remains
to be done,--but also the PRODUCERS, and by this organization
subjecting capital and subordinating power.  Such is the war that
you have to sustain: a war of labor against capital; a war of
liberty against authority; a war of the producer against the
non-producer; a war of equality against privilege.  What you
ask, to conduct the war to a successful conclusion, is precisely
that which you must combat.  Now, to combat and reduce power, to
put it in its proper place in society, it is of no use to change
the holders of power or introduce some variation into its
workings: an agricultural and industrial combination must be
found by means of which power, today the ruler of society, shall
become its slave.  Have you the secret of that combination?

But what do I say?  That is precisely the thing to which you do
not consent.  As you cannot conceive of society without
hierarchy, you have made yourselves the apostles of authority;
worshippers of power, you think only of strengthening it and
muzzling liberty; your favorite maxim is that the welfare of the
people must be achieved in spite of the people; instead of
proceeding to social reform by the extermination of power and
politics, you insist on a reconstruction of power and politics.
Then, by a series of contradictions which prove your sincerity,
but the illusory character of which is well known to the real
friends of power, the aristocrats and monarchists, your
competitors, you promise us, in the name of power, economy in
expenditures, an equitable assessment of taxes, protection to
labor, gratuitous education, universal suffrage, and all the
utopias repugnant to authority and property.  Consequently power
in your hands has never been anything but ruinous, and that is
why you have never been able to retain it; that is why, on the
Eighteenth of Brumaire,[31] four men were sufficient to take
it away from you, and why today the bourgeoisie, which is as fond
of power as you are and which wants a strong power, will not
restore it to you.

[31] Date of the Napoleonic coup d'Etat, according to the
revolutionary calendar.

Thus power, the instrument of collective might, created in
society to serve as a mediator between labor and privilege, finds
itself inevitably enchained to capital and directed against the
proletariat.  No political reform can solve this contradiction,
since, by the confession of the politicians themselves, such a
reform would end only in increasing the energy and extending the
sphere of power, and since power would know no way of touching
the prerogatives of monopoly without overturning the hierarchy
and dissolving society.  The problem before the laboring classes,
then, consists, not in capturing, but in subduing both power and
monopoly,--that is, in generating from the bowels of the people,
from the depths of labor, a greater authority, a more potent
fact, which shall envelop capital and the State and subjugate
them.  Every proposition of reform which does not satisfy this
condition is simply one scourge more, a rod doing sentry duty,
virgam vigilantem, as a prophet said, which threatens the

The crown of this system is religion.  There is no occasion for
me to deal here with the philosophic value of religious opinions,
relate their history, or seek their interpretation.  I confine
myself to a consideration of the economic origin of religion, the
secret bond which connects it with police, the place which it
occupies in the series of social manifestations.

Man, despairing of finding the equilibrium of his powers, leaps,
as it were, outside of himself and seeks in infinity that
sovereign harmony the realization of which is to him the highest
degree of reason, power, and happiness.  Unable to harmonize with
himself, he kneels before God and prays.  He prays, and his
prayer, a hymn sung to God, is a blasphemy against society.

It is from God, man says to himself, that authority and power
come to me: then, let us obey God and the prince.  Obedite Deo et
principibus.  It is from God that law and justice come to me.
Per me reges regnant et potentes decernunt justitiam.  Let us
respect the commands of the legislator and the magistrate.  It is
God who controls the prosperity of labor, who makes and unmakes
fortunes: may his will be done!  Dominus dedit, Dominus abstulit,
sit nomen Domini benedictum.  It is God who punishes me when
misery devours me, and when I am persecuted for righteousness's
sake: let us receive with respect the scourges which his mercy
employs for our purification.  Humiliamini igitur sub potenti
manu Dei.  This life, which God has given me, is but an ordeal
which leads me to salvation: let us shun pleasure; let us love
and invite pain; let us find our pleasure in doing penance.  The
sadness which comes from injustice is a favor from on high;
blessed are they that mourn!  Beati qui lugent! . . . .  Haec
est enim gratia, si quis sustinet tristitias, patiens injuste.

A century ago a missionary, preaching before an audience made up
of financiers and grandees, did justice to this odious morality.
"What have I done?" he cried, with tears.  "I have saddened the
poor, the best friends of my God!  I have preached the rigors of
penance to unfortunates who want for bread!  It is here, where my
eyes fall only on the powerful and on the rich, on the oppressors
of suffering humanity, that I must launch the word of God in
all the force of its thunder!"

Let us admit, nevertheless, that the theory of resignation has
served society by preventing revolt.  Religion, consecrating by
divine right the inviolability of power and of privilege, has
given humanity the strength to continue its journey and exhaust
its contradictions.  Without this bandage thrown over the eyes of
the people society would have been a thousand times dissolved.
Some one had to suffer that it might be cured; and religion, the
comforter of the afflicted, decided that it should be the poor
man.  It is this suffering which has led us to our present
position; civilization, which owes all its marvels to the
laborer, owes also to his voluntary sacrifice its future and its
existence.  Oblatus est quia ipse voluit, et livore ejus sanati

O people of laborers! disinherited, harassed, proscribed people!
people whom they imprison, judge, and kill! despised people,
branded people!  Do you not know that there is an end, even to
patience, even to devotion?  Will you not cease to lend an ear to
those orators of mysticism who tell you to pray and to wait,
preaching salvation now through religion, now through power, and
whose vehement and sonorous words captivate you?  Your destiny is
an enigma which neither physical force, nor courage of soul, nor
the illuminations of enthusiasm, nor the exaltation of any
sentiment, can solve.  Those who tell you to the contrary deceive
you, and all their discourses serve only to postpone the hour of
your deliverance, now ready to strike.  What are enthusiasm and
sentiment, what is vain poesy, when confronted with necessity?
To overcome necessity there is nothing but necessity itself, the
last reason of nature, the pure essence of matter and spirit.

Thus the contradiction of value, born of the necessity of free
will, must be overcome by the proportionality of value, another
necessity produced by the union of liberty and intelligence.
But, in order that this victory of intelligent and free labor
might produce all its consequences, it was necessary that society
should pass through a long succession of torments.

It was a necessity that labor, in order to increase its power,
should be divided; and a necessity, in consequence of this
division, that the laborer should be degraded and impoverished.

It was a necessity that this original division should be
reconstructed by scientific instruments and combinations; and a
necessity, in consequence of this reconstruction, that the
subordinated laborer should lose, together with his legitimate
wages, even the exercise of the industry which supported him.

It was a necessity that competition then should step in to
emancipate liberty on the point of perishing; and a necessity
that this deliverance should end in a vast elimination of

It was a necessity that the producer, ennobled by his art, as
formerly the warrior was by arms, should bear aloft his banner,
in order that the valor of man might be honored in labor as in
war; and a necessity that of privilege should straightway be born
the proletariat.

It was a necessity that society should then take under its
protection the conquered plebeian, a beggar without a roof; and a
necessity that this protection should be converted into a new
series of tortures.

We shall meet on our way still other necessities, all of which
will disappear, like the others, before greater necessities,
until shall come at last the general equation, the supreme
necessity, the triumphant fact, which must establish the kingdom
of labor forever.

But this solution cannot result either from surprise or from a
vain compromise.  It is as impossible to associate labor and
capital as to produce without labor and without capital; as
impossible to establish equality by power as to suppress power
and equality and make a society without people and without

There is a necessity, I repeat, of a MAJOR FORCE to invert the
actual formulas of society; a necessity that the LABOR of the
people, not their valor nor their votes, should, by a scientific,
legitimate, immortal, insurmountable combination, subject capital
to the people and deliver to them power.



The ancients blamed human nature for the presence of evil in the

Christian theology has only embroidered this theme in its own
fashion; and, as that theology sums up the whole religious period
extending from the origin of society to our own time, it may be
said that the dogma of original sin, having in its favor the
assent of the human race, acquires by that very fact the highest
degree of probability.

So, according to all the testimony of ancient wisdom, each people
defending its own institutions as excellent and glorifying them,
it is not to religions, or to governments, or to traditional
customs accredited by the respect of generations, that the cause
of evil must be traced, but rather to a primitive perversion, to
a sort of congenital malice in the will of man.  As to the
question how a being could have perverted and corrupted itself
ORIGINALLY, the ancients avoided that difficulty by fables:
Eve's apple and Pandora's box have remained celebrated among
their symbolic solutions.

Not only, then, had antiquity posited in its myths the question
of the origin of evil; it had solved it by another myth, in
unhesitatingly affirming the criminality ab ovo of our race.

Modern philosophers have erected against the Christian dogma a
dogma no less obscure,--that of the depravity of society.  MAN IS
BORN GOOD, cries Rousseau, in his peremptory style; BUT
SOCIETY--that is, the forms and institutions of society--DEPRAVES
HIM.  In such terms was formulated the paradox, or, better, the
protest, of the philosopher of Geneva.

Now, it is evident that this idea is only the ancient hypothesis
turned about.  The ancients accused the individual man; Rousseau
accuses the collective man: at bottom, it is always the same
proposition, an absurd proposition.

Nevertheless, in spite of the fundamental identity of the
principle, Rousseau's formula, precisely because it was an
opposition, was a step forward; consequently it was welcomed with
enthusiasm, and it became the signal of a reaction full of
contradictions and absurdities.  Singular thing! it is to the
anathema launched by the author of "Emile" against society that
modern socialism is to be traced.

For the last seventy or eighty years the principle of social
perversion has been exploited and popularized by various
sectarians, who, while copying Rousseau, reject with all their
might the anti-social philosophy of that writer, without
perceiving that, by the very fact that they aspire to reform
society, they are as unsocial or unsociable as he.  It is a
curious spectacle to see these pseudo-innovators, condemning
after Jean Jacques monarchy, democracy, property, communism,
thine and mine, monopoly, wages, police, taxation, luxury,
commerce, money, in a word, all that constitutes society and
without which society is inconceivable, and then accusing this
same Jean Jacques of misanthropy and paralogism, because, after
having seen the emptiness of all utopias, at the same time that
he pointed out the antagonism of civilization, he sternly
concluded against society, though recognizing that without
society there is no humanity.

I advise those who, on the strength of what slanderers and
plagiarists say, imagine that Rousseau embraced his theory only
from a vain love of eccentricity, to read "Emile" and the "Social
Contract" once more.  That admirable dialectician was led to deny
society from the standpoint of justice, although he was forced to
admit it as necessary; just as we, who believe in an indefinite
progress, do not cease to deny, as normal and definitive, the
existing state of society.  Only, whereas Rousseau, by a
political combination and an educational system of his own, tried
to bring man nearer to what he called NATURE, and what seemed to
him the ideal society, we, instructed in a profounder school, say
that the task of society is to continually solve its
antinomies,--a matter of which Rousseau could have had no idea.
Thus, apart from the now abandoned system of the "Social
Contract," and so far as criticism alone is concerned, socialism,
whatever it may say, is still in the same position as Rousseau,
forced to reform society incessantly,--that is, to perpetually
deny it.

Rousseau, in short, simply declared in a summary and definitive
manner what the socialists repeat in detail and at every moment
of progress,-- namely, that social order is imperfect, always
lacking something.  Rousseau's error does not, can not lie in
this negation of society: it consists, as we shall show, in his
failure to follow his argument to the end and deny at once
society, man, and God.

However that may be, the theory of man's innocence, corresponding
to that of the depravity of society, has at last got the upper
hand.  The immense majority of socialists--Saint-Simon, Owen,
Fourier, and their disciples; communists, democrats, progressives
of all sorts--have solemnly repudiated the Christian myth of the
fall to substitute there for the system of an aberration on
the part of society.  And, as most of these sectarians, in spite
of their flagrant impiety, were still too religious, too pious,
to finish the work of Jean Jacques and trace back to God the
responsibility for evil, they have found a way of deducing from
the hypothesis of God the dogma of the native goodness of man,
and have begun to fulminate against society in the finest

The theoretical and practical consequences of this reaction were
that, evil--that is, the effect of internal and external
struggle--being abnormal and transitory, penal and repressive
institutions are likewise transitory; that in man there is no
native vice, but that his environment has depraved his
inclinations; that civilization has been mistaken as to its own
tendencies; that constraint is immoral, that our passions are
holy; that enjoyment is holy and should be sought after like
virtue itself, because God, who caused us to desire it, is holy.
And, the women coming to the aid of the eloquence of the
philosophers, a deluge of anti-restrictive protests has fallen,
quasi de vulva erumpens, to make use of a comparison from the
Holy Scriptures, upon the wonder-stricken public.

The writings of this school are recognizable by their evangelical
style, their melancholy theism, and, above all, their enigmatical

"They blame human nature," says M. Louis Blanc, "for almost all
our evils; the blame should be laid upon the vicious character of
social institutions.  Look around you: how many talents
misplaced, and CONSEQUENTLY depraved!  How many activities have
become turbulent for want of having found their legitimate and
natural object!  They force our passions to traverse an impure
medium; is it at all surprising that they become altered?  Place
a healthy man in a pestilent atmosphere, and he will inhale
death. . . .  Civilization has taken a wrong road, . . . and to
say that it could not have been otherwise is to lose the right to
talk of equity, of morality, of progress; it is to lose the right
to talk of God.  Providence disappears to give place to the
grossest fatalism."

The name of God recurs forty times, and always to no purpose, in
M. Blanc's "Organization of Labor," which I quote from
preference, because in my view it represents advanced democratic
opinion better than any other work, and because I like to do it
honor by refuting it.

Thus, while socialism, aided by extreme democracy, deifies man by
denying the dogma of the fall, and consequently dethrones God,
henceforth useless to the perfection of his creature, this same
socialism, through mental cowardice, falls back upon the
affirmation of Providence, and that at the very moment when it
denies the providential authority of history.

And as nothing stands such chance of success among men as
contradiction, the idea of a religion of pleasure, renewed from
Epicurus during an eclipse of public reason, has been taken as an
inspiration of the national genius; it is this that distinguishes
the new theists from the Catholics, against whom the former have
inveighed so loudly during the last two years only out of rivalry
in fanaticism.  It is the fashion today to speak of God on all
occasions and to declaim against the pope; to invoke Providence
and to scoff at the Church.  THANK GOD! WE ARE NOT ATHEISTS, said
"La Reforme" one day; all the more, it might have added by way of
increasing its absurdity, we are not Christians.  The word has
gone forth to every one who holds a pen to bamboozle the people,
and the first article of the new faith is that an infinitely good
God has created man as good as himself; which does not prevent
man, under the eye of God, from becoming wicked in a detestable

Nevertheless it is plain, in spite of these semblances of
religion, we might even say these desires for it, that the
quarrel between socialism and Christian tradition, between man
and society, must end by a denial of Divinity.  Social reason is
not distinguishable by us from absolute Reason, which is no other
than God himself, and to deny society in its past phases is to
deny Providence, is to deny God.

Thus, then, we are placed between two negations, two
contradictory affirmations: one which, by the voice of entire
antiquity, setting aside as out of the question society and God
which it represents, finds in man alone the principle of evil;
another which, protesting in the name of free, intelligent, and
progressive man, throws back upon social infirmity and, by a
necessary consequence, upon the creative and inspiring genius of
society all the disturbances of the universe.

Now, as the anomalies of social order and the oppression of
individual liberties arise principally from the play of economic
contradictions, we have to inquire, in view of the data which we
have brought to light:

1. Whether fate, whose circle surrounds us, exercises a control
over our liberty so imperious and compulsory that infractions of
the law, committed under the dominion of antinomies, cease to be
imputable to us?  And, if not, whence arises this culpability
peculiar to man?

2. Whether the hypothetical being, utterly good, omnipotent,
omniscient, to whom faith attributes the supreme direction of
human agitations, has not himself failed society at the moment of
danger?  And, if so, to explain this insufficiency of Divinity.

In short, we are to find out whether man is God, whether God
himself is God, or whether, to attain the fullness of
intelligence and liberty, we must search for a superior cause.

% 1.--The culpability of man.--Exposition of the myth of
the fall.

As long as man lives under the law of egoism, he accuses himself;
as soon as he rises to the conception of a social law, he accuses
society.  In both cases humanity accuses humanity; and so far the
clearest result of this double accusation is the strange faculty,
which we have not yet pointed out, and which religion attributes
to God as well as to man, of REPENTANCE.

Of what, then, does humanity repent?  For what does God, who
repents as well as ourselves, desire to punish us?  Poenituit
Deum quod hominem fecisset in terra, et tactus dolore cordis
intrinsecus, delebo, inquit, hominem. . . .  If I demonstrate
that the offences charged upon humanity are not the consequence
of its economic embarrassments, although the latter result from
the constitution of its ideas; that man does evil gratuitously
and when not under compulsion, just as he honors himself by acts
of heroism which justice does not exact,--it will follow that
man, at the tribunal of his conscience, may be allowed to plead
certain extenuating circumstances, but can never be entirely
discharged of his guilt; that the struggle is in his heart as
well as in his mind; that he deserves now praise, now blame,
which is a confession, in either case, of his inharmonious state;
finally, that the essence of his soul is a perpetual compromise
between opposing attractions, his morality a system of seesaw, in
a word,--and this word tells the whole story,-- eclecticism.

My proof shall be soon made.

There exists a law, older than our liberty, promulgated from the
beginning of the world, completed by Jesus Christ, preached
and certified by apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins,
graven on the heart of man, and superior to all metaphysics: it
is LOVE.  LOVE THY NEIGHBOR AS THYSELF, Jesus Christ tells us,
after Moses.  That is the whole of it.  Love thy neighbor as
thyself, and society will be perfect; love thy neighbor as
thyself, and all distinctions of prince and shepherd, of rich and
poor, of learned and ignorant, disappear, all clashing of human
interests ceases.  Love thy neighbor as thyself, and happiness
with industry, without care for the future, shall fill thy days.
To fulfil this law and make himself happy man needs only to
follow the inclination of his heart and listen to the voice of
his sympathies.  He resists; he does more: not content with
preferring himself to his neighbor, he labors constantly to
destroy his neighbor; after having betrayed love through egoism,
he overturns it by injustice.

Man, I say, faithless to the law of charity, has, of himself and
without any necessity, made the contradictions of society so many
instruments of harm; through his egoism civilization has become a
war of surprises and ambushes; he lies, he steals, he murders,
when not compelled to do so, without provocation, without excuse.
In short, he does evil with all the characteristics of a nature
deliberately maleficent, and all the more wicked because, when it
so wishes, it knows how to do good gratuitously also and is
capable of self-sacrifice; wherefore it has been said of it, with
as much reason as depth:  Homo homini lupus, vel deus.  Not to
unduly extend the subject, and especially in order to avoid
prejudging the questions that I shall have to consider, I limit
myself to the economic facts already analyzed.

With the fact that the division of labor is by nature, pending
the attainment of a synthetic organization, an irresistible
cause of physical, moral, and mental inequality among men neither
society nor conscience have anything to do.  That is a fact of
necessity, of which the rich man is as innocent as the
parcellaire workman, consigned by his position to all sorts of

But how happens it that this inevitable inequality is converted
into a title of nobility for some, of abjection for others?  How
happens it, if man is good, that he has not succeeded in
levelling by his goodness this wholly metaphysical obstacle, and
that, instead of strengthening the fraternal tie that binds men,
pitiless necessity breaks it?  Here man cannot be excused on the
ground of his economic inexperience or legislative
shortsightedness; it was enough that he had a heart.  Since the
martyrs of the division of labor should have been helped and
honored by the rich, why have they been rejected as impure?  Why
is it an unheard-of thing for masters to occasionally relieve
their slaves, for princes, magistrates, and priests to change
places with mechanics, and for nobles to assume the task of the
peasants on the land?  What is the reason of this brutal pride of
the powerful?

And note that such conduct on their part would have been not only
charitable and fraternal, but in accord with the sternest
justice.  By virtue of the principle of collective force,
laborers are the equals and associates of their leaders; so that
in the system of monopoly itself, community of action restoring
the equilibrium which parcellaire individualism has disturbed,
justice and charity blend.  On the hypothesis of the essential
goodness of man, how then is to be explained the monstrous
attempt to change the authority of some into nobility and the
obedience of others into plebeianism?  Labor, between the serf
and the free man, like color between the black and the white, has
always drawn an impassable line; and we ourselves, who glory so
in our philanthropy, at the bottom of our hearts are of the same
opinion as our predecessors.  The sympathy which we feel for the
proletaire is like that with which animals inspire us; delicacy
of organs, dread of misery, pride in separating ourselves from
all suffering,--it is these shifts of egoism that prompt our

For in fact--and I desire only this fact to confound us--is it
not true that spontaneous benevolence, so pure in its primitive
conception (eleemosyna, sympathy, tenderness), alms, in fine, has
become for the unfortunate a sign of degradation, a public
stigma?  And socialists, rebuking Christianity, dare to talk to
us of love!  The Christian thought, the conscience of humanity,
hit the mark precisely, when it founded so many institutions for
the relief of misfortune.  To grasp the evangelical precept in
its depth and render legal charity as honorable to those who had
been its objects as to those who had exercised it, there was
needed--what?  Less pride, less greed, less egoism.  If man is
good, will any one tell me how the right to alms has become the
first link in the long chain of infractions, misdemeanors, and
crimes?  Will any one still dare to blame the misdeeds of man
upon the antagonisms of social economy, when these antagonisms
offered him so beautiful an opportunity of manifesting the
charity of his heart, I do not say by self-sacrifice, but by the
simple doing of justice?

I know--and this objection is the only one that can be offered
against my position--that charity is covered with shame and
dishonor because the individual who asks it is too often, alas!
suspected of misconduct and rarely to be recommended on the score
of dignity of morals and of labor.  And statistics prove that
those who are poor through cowardice and negligence outnumber ten
times those who are poor through accident or mischance.

Far be it from me to challenge this observation, the truth of
which is demonstrated by too many facts, and which, moreover, has
received the sanction of the people.  The people are the first to
accuse the poor of laziness; and there is nothing more common
than to meet in the lower classes men who boast, as if it were a
title of nobility, that they have never been in the hospital and
in their greatest distress have never been recipients of public
charity.  Thus, just as opulence avows its robberies, misery
confesses its shame.  Man is a tyrant or a slave by will before
becoming so by fortune; the heart of the proletaire is like that
of the rich man,--a sewer of boiling sensuality, the home of
crapulence and imposture.

Upon this unexpected revelation I ask how it happens, if man is
good and charitable, that the rich calumniate charity while the
poor defile it?  It is perversion of judgment on the part of the
rich, say some; it is degradation of faculties on the part of the
poor, say others.  But how is it that judgment is perverted on
the one hand, and on the other that faculties are degraded?  How
comes it that a true and cordial fraternity has not arrested on
the one side and on the other the effects of pride and labor?
Let my questions be answered by reasons, not by phrases.

Labor, in inventing processes and machines which infinitely
multiply its power, and then in stimulating industrial genius by
rivalry and assuring its conquests by means of the profits of
capital and privileges of exploitation, has rendered the
hierarchical constitution of society more profound and more
inevitable; I repeat that no blame attaches to any one for this.
But I call the holy law of the Gospel to witness that it was
within our power to draw wholly different consequences from this
subordination of man to man, or, better, of laborer to laborer.

The traditions of feudal life and of that of the patriarchs set
the example for the manufacturers.  The division of labor and the
other accidents of production were only calls to the great family
life, indications of the preparatory system in accordance with
which fraternity was to appear and be developed.  Masterships,
corporations, and rights of primogeniture were conceived under
the influence of this idea; many communists even are not hostile
to this form of association; is it surprising that the ideal is
so tenacious among those who, conquered but not converted, still
appear as its representatives?  What, then, prevented charity,
union, sacrifice from maintaining themselves in the hierarchy,
when the hierarchy might have been only a condition of labor?  To
this end it would have sufficed if men having machines, valiant
knights fighting with equal weapons, had not made a mystery of
their secrets or withheld them from others; if barons had set to
work, not to monopolize their products, but to cheapen them; and
if vassals, assured that war would result only in increasing
their wealth, had always shown themselves enterprising,
industrious, and faithful.  The chief of the workshop would then
have been simply a captain putting his men through manoeuvres in
their interest as well as in his own, and maintaining them, not
with his perquisites, but with their own services.

Instead of these fraternal relations, we have had pride,
jealousy, and perjury; the employer, like the vampire of the
fable, exploiting the degraded wage-worker, and the wage-worker
conspiring against the employer; the idler devouring the
substance of the laborer, and the serf, squatting in filth,
having no strength left but for hatred.

Called on to furnish for the work of production, these tools,
those labor, capitalists and laborers are today in a struggle:
why?  Because absolutism presides over all their relations;
because the capitalist speculates on the need which the laborer
feels of procuring tools, while the laborer, in turn, seeks to
derive advantage from the need which the capitalist feels of
fertilizing his capital.--L. Blanc: Organization of Labor.

And why this ABSOLUTISM in the relations of capitalist and
laborer?  Why this hostility of interests?  Why this reciprocal
enmity?  Instead of eternally explaining the fact by the fact
itself, go to the bottom, and you will find everywhere, as
original motive, a passion for enjoyment which neither law nor
justice nor charity restrain; you will see egoism continually
discounting the future, and sacrificing to its monstrous caprices
labor, capital, life, and the security of all.

The theologians have given the name CONCUPISCENCE or
CONCUPISCIBLE APPETITE to the passionate greed for sensual
things, the effect, according to them, of original sin.  I
trouble myself little, for the present, as to the nature of the
original sin; I simply observe that the concupiscible appetite of
the theologians is no other than that NEED OF LUXURY pointed out
by the Academy of Moral Sciences as the ruling motive of our
epoch.  Now, the theory of proportionality of values demonstrates
that luxury is naturally measured by production; that every
consumption in advance is recovered by an equivalent later
privation; and that the exaggeration of luxury in a society
necessarily has an increase of misery as its correlative.  Now,
were man to sacrifice his personal welfare for luxurious and
advance enjoyments, perhaps I should accuse him only of
imprudence; but, when he injures the welfare of his
neighbor,--a welfare which he should regard as inviolable, both
from charity and on the ground of justice,--I say then that man
is wicked, inexcusably wicked.

WHEN GOD, according to Bossuet, FORMED THE BOWELS OF MAN, HE
ORIGINALLY PLACED GOODNESS THERE.  Thus love is our first law;
the prescriptions of pure reason, as well as the promptings of
the senses, take second and third rank only.  Such is the
hierarchy of our faculties,--a principle of love forming the
foundation of our conscience and served by an intelligence and
organs.  Hence of two things one: either the man who violates
charity to obey his cupidity is guilty; or else, if this
psychology is false, and the need of luxury in man must hold a
place beside charity and reason, man is a disorderly animal,
utterly wicked, and the most execrable of beings.

Thus the organic contradictions of society cannot cover the
responsibility of man; viewed in themselves, moreover, these
contradictions are only the theory of the hierarchical regime,
the first form and consequently an irreproachable form of
society.  By the antinomy of their development labor and capital
have been continually led back to equality at the same time as to
subordination, to solidarity as well as to dependence; one was
the agent, the other the stimulator and guardian of the common
wealth.  This indication has been indistinctly seen by the
theorists of the feudal system; Christianity came in time to
cement the compact; and it is still the sentiment of this
misunderstood and broken, but in itself innocent and legitimate,
organization which causes regrets among us and sustains the hope
of a party.  As this system was written in the book of destiny,
it cannot be said to be bad in itself, just as the embryonic
state cannot be called bad because it precedes adult age in
physiological development.

I insist, therefore, on my accusation:

Under the regime abolished by Luther and the French Revolution
man could be happy in proportion to the progress of his industry;
he did not choose to be; on the contrary, he forbade himself to

Labor has been regarded as dishonorable; the clergy and the
nobility have made themselves the devourers of the poor; to
satisfy their animal passions, they have extinguished charity in
their hearts; they have ruined, oppressed, assassinated the
laborer.  And thus it is that we see capital still hunting the
proletariat.  Instead of tempering the subversive tendency of
economic principles by association and mutuality, the capitalist
exaggerates it unnecessarily and with evil design; he abuses the
senses and the conscience of the workman; he makes him a valet in
his intrigues, a purveyor of his debaucheries, an accomplice in
his robberies; he makes him in all respects like himself, and
then it is that he can defy the justice of revolutions to touch
him.  Monstrous thing! the man who lives in misery, and whose
soul therefore seems a nearer neighbor of charity and honor,
shares his master's corruption; like him, he gives everything to
pride and luxury, and if he sometimes cries out against the
inequality from which he suffers, it is still less from zeal for
justice than from rivalry in desire.  The greatest obstacle which
equality has to overcome is not the aristocratic pride of the
rich man, but the ungovernable egoism of the poor man.  And you
rely on his native goodness to reform at once both the
spontaneity and the premeditation of his malice!

"As the false and anti-social education given to the present
generation," says Louis Blanc, "permits no search for any other
motive for emulation and encouragement than an increase of
reward, the difference of wages should be graduated according to
the hierarchy of functions, an entirely new education having
to change ideas and morals in this matter."

Dismissing the hierarchy of functions and the inequality of wages
for what they are worth, let us consider here only the motive
assigned by the author.  Is it not strange to see M. Blanc affirm
the goodness of our nature, and at the same time address himself
to the most ignoble of our propensities,--avarice?  Truly, evil
must seem to you very deeply rooted, if you deem it necessary to
begin the restoration of charity by a violation of charity.
Jesus Christ broke openly with pride and greed; apparently the
libertines whom he catechised were holy personages compared with
the herd infected with socialism.  But tell us then, in short,
how our ideas have been warped, why our education is anti-social,
since it is now demonstrated that society has followed the route
traced by destiny and can no longer be charged with the crimes of

Really, the logic of socialism is marvellous.

Man is good, they say; but it is necessary to DETACH HIS
INTERESTS from evil to secure his abstinence from it.  Man is
good; but he must be INTERESTED in the good, else he will not do
it.  For, if the interest of his passions leads him to evil, he
will do evil; and, if this same interest leaves him indifferent
to good, he will not do good.  And society will have no right to
reproach him for having listened to his passions, because it was
for society to conduct him by his passions.  What a rich and
precious nature was that of Nero, who killed his mother because
she wearied him, and who caused Rome to be burned in order to
have a representation of the pillage of Troy!  What an artist's
soul was that of Heliogabalus, who organized prostitution!  What
a potent character was Tiberius!  But what an abominable society
was that which perverted those divine souls, and produced,
moreover, Tacitus and Marcus Aurelius!

This, then, is what is called the harmlessness of man,--the
holiness of his passions!  An aged Sappho, abandoned by her
lovers, goes back under the conjugal law; her interest detached
from love, she returns to marriage, and is holy.  What a pity
that this word HOLY (saint) has not in French the double meaning
which it possesses in the Hebrew language!  All would be in
accord regarding the holiness of Sappho.

I read in a report upon the railways of Belgium that, the Belgian
administration having allowed its engineers a premium of two and
one- half cents for every bushel of coke saved out of an average
consumption of two hundred and ten pounds for a given distance
traversed, this premium bore such fruits that the consumption
fell from two hundred and ten pounds to one hundred and six.
This fact sums up the whole socialistic philosophy: to gradually
train the workingman to justice, encourage him to labor, lift him
to the sublimity of devotion, by increase of wages,
profit-sharing, distinctions, and rewards.  Certainly I do not
mean to blame this method, which is as old as the world: whatever
way you take to tame serpents and tigers and render them useful,
I applaud it.  But do not say that your beasts are doves; for
then, as sole reply, I shall point you to their claws and teeth.
Before the Belgian engineers became interested in the economy of
fuel, they burned double the quantity.  Therefore on their part
there was carelessness, negligence, prodigality, waste, perhaps
theft, although they were bound to the administration by a
contract which obliged them to practise all the contrasted
virtues.  IT IS GOOD, you say, TO INTEREST THE LABORER.  I say
further that it is just.  But I maintain that this INTEREST,
more powerful over man than voluntarily accepted obligation, more
powerful, in a word, than DUTY, accuses man.  Socialism goes
backward in morality, and it turns up its nose at Christianity.
It does not understand charity, and yet, to hear it, one would
suppose that it invented charity.

See, moreover, observe the socialists, what fortunate fruits the
perfecting of our social order has already borne!  The present
generation is undeniably better than its predecessors: are we
wrong in concluding that a perfect society will produce perfect
citizens?  Say rather, reply the conservative believers in the
dogma of the fall, that, religion having purified hearts, it is
not astonishing that institutions have felt the effects.  Now let
religion finish its work, and have no fears about society.

So speak and retort in an endless wandering from the question the
theorists of the two schools.  Neither understand that humanity,
to use a Biblical expression, is one and constant in its
generations,--that is, that everything in it, at every period of
its development, in the individual as in the mass, proceeds from
the same principle, which is, not BEING, but BECOMING.  They do
not see, on the one hand, that progress in morality is a
continual conquest of mind over animality, just as progress in
wealth is the fruit of the war waged by labor upon the parsimony
of nature; consequently that the idea of native goodness lost
through society is as absurd as the idea of native wealth lost
through labor, and that a compromise with the passions should be
viewed in the same light as a compromise with rest.  On the other
hand, they refuse to understand that, if there is progress in
humanity, whether through religion or from some other cause, the
hypothesis of constitutional corruption is nonsense, a

But I anticipate the conclusions at which I must arrive: let us,
for the present, establish simply that the moral perfection of
humanity, like material welfare, is realized by a series of
oscillations between vice and virtue, MERIT and DEMERIT.

Yes, humanity grows in justice, but this growth of our liberty,
due entirely to the growth of our intelligence, surely gives no
proof of the goodness of our nature; and, far from authorizing us
to glorify our passions, it really destroys their sway.  The
fashion and style of our malice change with time: the barons of
the middle ages plundered the traveller on the highway, and then
offered him hospitality in their castles; mercantile feudality,
less brutal, exploits the proletaire and builds hospitals for
him: who would dare to say which of the two has deserved the palm
of virtue?

Of all the economic contradictions value is that which,
dominating the others and summing them up, holds in a sense the
sceptre of society, I had almost said of the moral world.  Until
value, oscillating between its two poles,--useful value and value
in exchange,--arrives at its constitution, thine and mine remain
fixed arbitrarily; the conditions of fortune are the effect of
chance; property rests on a precarious title; everything in
social economy is provisional.  What should social, intelligent,
and free beings have learned from this uncertainty of value?  To
make amicable regulations that should protect labor and guarantee
exchange and cheapness.  What a happy opportunity for all to make
up, by honesty, disinterestedness, and tenderness of heart, for
the ignorance of the objective laws of the just and the unjust!
Instead of that, commerce has everywhere become, by spontaneous
effort and unanimous consent, an uncertain operation, a
venturesome enterprise, a lottery, and often a deceitful and
fraudulent speculation.

What obliges the holder of provisions, the storekeeper of
society, to pretend that there is a scarcity, sound the
alarm, and provoke a rise of prices?  Public short-sightedness
places the consumer at his mercy; some change of temperature
furnishes him a pretext; the assured prospect of gain finally
corrupts him, and fear, skilfully spread abroad, throws the
population into his toils.  Certainly the motive which actuates
the swindler, the thief, the assassin, those natures warped, it
is said, by the social order, is the same which animates the
monopolist who is not in need.  How, then, does this passion for
gain, abandoned to itself, turn to the prejudice of society?  Why
has preventive, repressive, and coercive legislation always been
necessary to set a limit to liberty?  For that is the accusing
fact, which it is impossible to deny: everywhere the law has
grown out of abuse; everywhere the legislator has found himself
forced to make man powerless to harm, which is synonymous with
muzzling a lion or infibulating a boar.  And socialism itself,
ever imitating the past, makes no other pretence: what is,
indeed, the organization which it claims, if not a stronger
guarantee of justice, a more complete limitation of liberty?

The characteristic trait of the merchant is to make everything
either an object or an instrument of traffic.  Disassociated from
his fellows, his interests separated from those of others, he is
for and against all deeds, all opinions, all parties.  A
discovery, a science, is in his eyes an instrument of war, out of
the way of which he tries to keep, and which he would like to
annihilate, unless he can make use of it himself to kill his
competitors.  An artist, an educated person, is an artilleryman
who knows how to handle the weapon, and whom he tries to corrupt,
if he cannot win him.  The merchant is convinced that logic is
the art of proving at will the true and the false; he was the
inventor of political venality, traffic in consciences,
prostitution of talents, corruption of the press.  He knows how
to find arguments and advocates for all lies, all iniquities.  He
alone has never deceived himself as to the value of political
parties: he deems them all equally exploitable,--that is, equally

Without respect for his avowed opinions, which he abandons and
resumes by turns; sharply pursuing in others those violations of
faith of which he is himself guilty,--he lies in his claims, he
lies in his representations, he lies in his inventories; he
exaggerates, he extenuates, he over-rates; he regards himself as
the centre of the world, and everything outside of him has only a
relative existence, value, and truth.  Subtle and shrewd in his
transactions, he stipulates, he reserves, trembling always lest
he may say too much or not enough; abusing words with the simple,
generalizing in order not to compromise himself, specifying in
order to allow nothing, he turns three times upon himself and
thinks seven times under his chin before saying his last word.
Has he at last concluded?  He rereads himself, he interprets
himself, he comments on himself; he tortures himself to find a
deep meaning in every part of his contract, and in the clearest
phrases the opposite of what they say.

What infinite art, what hypocrisy, in his relations with the
manual laborer!  From the simple shopkeeper to the big
contractor, how skilful they are in exploiting his arms!  How
well they know how to contend with labor, in order to obtain it
at a low price!  In the first place, it is a hope for which the
master receives a slight service; then it is a promise which he
discounts by requiring some duty; then a trial, a sacrifice,--for
he needs nobody,--which the unfortunate man must recognize by
contenting himself with the lowest wages; there are endless
exactions and overcharges, compensated by settlements on
pay-days effected in the most rapacious and deceitful spirit.
And the workman must keep silent and bend the knee, and clench
his fist under his frock: for the employer has the work, and only
too happy is he who can obtain the favor of his swindles.  And
because society has not yet found a way to prevent, repress, and
punish this odious grinding process, so spontaneous, so
ingenuous, so disengaged from all superior impulse, it is
attributed to social constraint.  What folly!

The commission-merchant is the type, the highest expression, of
monopoly, the embodiment of commerce, that is, of civilization.
Every function depends upon his, participates in it, or is
assimilated to it: for, as from the standpoint of the
distribution of wealth the relations of men with each other are
all reducible to exchanges,--that is, to transfers of values,--it
may be said that civilization is personified in the

Now, question the commission-merchants as to the morality of
their trade; they will be frank with you; all will tell you that
the commission business is extortion.  Complaints are made of the
frauds and adulterations which disgrace manufactures: commerce--I
refer especially to the commission business--is only a gigantic
and permanent conspiracy of monopolists, by turns competing or
joined in pools; it is not a function performed with a view to a
legitimate profit, but a vast organization of speculation in all
articles of consumption, as well as on the circulation of persons
and products.  Already swindling is tolerated in this profession:
how many way-bills overcharged, erased, altered! how many stamps
counterfeited! how much damage concealed or fraudulently
compounded! how many lies as to quality! how many promises given
and retracted! how many documents suppressed! what intrigues
and combinations! and then what treasons!

The commission-merchant--that is, the merchant--that is, the
man--is a gambler, a slanderer, a charlatan, a mercenary, a
thief, a forger. . . .

This is the effect of our antagonistic society, observe the
neo-mystics.  So say the commercial people, the first under all
circumstances to accuse the corruption of the century.  They act
as they do, if we may believe them, simply to indemnify
themselves and wholly against their inclination: they follow
necessity; theirs is a case of legitimate defence.

Does it require an effort of genius to see that these mutual
recriminations strike at the very nature of man, that the
pretended perversion of society is nothing but the perversion of
man, and that the opposition of principles and interests is only
an external accident, so to speak, which brings into relief, but
without exerting a necessitating influence, both the blackness of
our egoism and the rare virtues with which our race is honored?

I understand inharmonious competition and its irresistible
eliminating effects: this is inevitable.  Competition, in its
higher expression, is the gearing by means of which laborers
reciprocally stimulate and sustain each other.  But, pending the
realization of that organization which must elevate competition
to its veritable nature, it remains a civil war in which
producers, instead of aiding each other in labor, grind and crush
each other by labor.  The danger here was imminent; man, to avert
it, had this supreme law of love; and nothing was easier, while
pushing competition to its extreme limits in the interest of
production, than to then repair its murderous effects by an
equitable distribution.  Far from that, this anarchical
competition has become, as it were, the soul and spirit of
the laborer.  Political economy placed in the hands of man this
weapon of death, and he has struck; he has used competition, as
the lion uses his paws and jaws, to kill and devour.  How is it,
then, I repeat, that a wholly external accident has changed the
nature of man, which is supposed to be good and gentle and

The wine merchant calls to his aid jelly, magnin, insects, water,
and poisons; by combinations of his own he adds to the
destructive effects of competition.  Whence comes this mania?
From the fact, you say, that his competitor sets him the example!
And this competitor, who incites him?  Some other competitor.  So
that, if we make the tour of society, we shall find that it is
the mass, and in the mass each particular individual, who, by a
tacit agreement of their passions,--pride, indolence, greed,
distrust, jealousy,--have organized this detestable war.

After having gathered about him tools, material, and workmen, the
contractor must recover in the product, besides the amount of his
outlay, first the interest of his capital, and then a profit.  It
is in consequence of this principle that lending at interest has
finally become established, and that gain, considered in itself,
has always passed for legitimate.  Under this system, the police
of nations not having seen at first the essential contradiction
of loans at interest, the wage-worker, instead of depending
directly upon himself, had to depend upon an employer, as the
soldier belonged to the count, or the tribe to the patriarch.
This order of things was necessary, and, pending the
establishment of complete equality, it was not impossible that
the welfare of all should be secured by it.  But when the master,
in his disorderly egoism, has said to the servant:  "You shall
not share with me," and robbed him at one stroke of labor and
wages, where is the necessity, where the excuse?  Will it be
necessary further, in order to justify the CONCUPISCIBLE
APPETITE, to fall back on the IRASCIBLE APPETITE?  Take care: in
drawing back in order to justify the human being in the series of
his lusts, instead of saving his morality, you abandon it.  For
my part, I prefer the guilty man to the wild-beast man.

Nature has made man sociable: the spontaneous development of his
instincts now makes him an angel of charity, now robs him even of
the sentiment of fraternity and the idea of devotion.  Did any
one ever see a capitalist, weary of gain, conspiring for the
general good and making the emancipation of the proletariat his
last speculation?  There are many people, favorites of fortune,
to whom nothing is lacking but the crown of beneficence: now,
where is the grocer who, having grown rich, begins to sell at
cost?  Where the baker who, retiring from business, leaves his
customers and his establishment to his assistants?  Where the
apothecary who, under the pretence of winding up his affairs,
surrenders his drugs at their true value?  When charity has its
martyrs, why has it not its amateurs?  If there should suddenly
be formed a congress of bondholders, capitalists, and men of
business, retired but still fit for service, with a view to
carrying on a certain number of industries gratuitously, in a
short time society would be reformed from top to bottom.  But
work for nothing!  That is for the Vincent de Pauls, the
Fenelons, all those whose souls have always been weaned and whose
hearts have been pure.  The man enriched by gain will be a
municipal councillor, a member of the committee on charities, an
officer of the infant schools: he will perform all the honorary
functions, barring exactly that which would be efficacious, but
which is repugnant to his habits.  Work without hope of profits!
That cannot be, for it would be self-destruction.  He would
like to, perhaps; he has not the courage.  Video meliora
proboque, deteriora sequor.  The retired proprietor is really the
owl of the fable gathering beech-nuts for its mutilated mice
until it is ready to devour them.  Is society also to be blamed
for these effects of a passion so long, so freely, so fully

Who, then, will explain this mystery of a manifold and discordant
being, capable at once of the highest virtues and the most
frightful crimes?  The dog licks his master who strikes him,
because the dog's nature is fidelity and this nature never leaves
him.  The lamb takes refuge in the arms of the shepherd who
fleeces and eats him, because the sheep's inseparable
characteristics are gentleness and peace.  The horse dashes
through flame and grape-shot without touching with his
swiftly-moving feet the wounded and dead lying in his path,
because the horse's soul is unalterable in its generosity.  These
animals are martyrs for our sakes through the constancy and
devotion of their natures.  The servant who defends his master at
the peril of his life, for a little gold betrays and murders him;
the chaste wife pollutes her bed because of some disgust or
absence, and in Lucrece we find Messalina; the proprietor, by
turns father and tyrant, refits and restores his ruined farmer
and drives from his lands the farmer's too numerous family, which
has increased on the strength of the feudal contract; the
warrior, mirror and paragon of chivalry, makes the corpses of his
companions a stepping- stone to advancement.  Epaminondas and
Regulus traffic in the blood of their soldiers,--how many
instances have my own eyes witnessed!--and by a horrible contrast
the profession of sacrifice is the most fruitful in cowardice.
Humanity has its martyrs and its apostates: to what, I ask again,
must this division be attributed?

To the antagonism of society, you always say; to the state of
separation, isolation, hostility to his fellows, in which man has
hitherto lived; in a word, to that alienation of his heart which
has led him to mistake enjoyment for love, property for
possession, pain for labor, intoxication for joy; to that warped
conscience, in short, which remorse has not ceased to pursue
under the name of ORIGINAL SIN.  When man, reconciled with
himself, shall cease to look upon his neighbor and nature as
hostile powers, then will he love and produce simply by the
spontaneity of his energy; then it will be his passion to give,
as it is today to acquire; and then will he seek in labor and
devotion his only happiness, his supreme delight.  Then, love
becoming really and indivisibly the law of man, justice will
thereafter be but an empty name, painful souvenir of a period of
violence and tears.

Certainly I do not overlook the fact of antagonism, or, as it
will please you to call it, of religious alienation, any more
than the necessity of reconciling man with himself; my whole
philosophy is but a perpetuity of reconciliations.  You admit
that the divergence of our nature is the preliminary of society,
or, let us rather say, the material of civilization.  This is
precisely the fact, but, remember well, the indestructible fact
of which I seek the meaning.  Certainly we should be very near an
understanding, if, instead of considering the dissidence and
harmony of the human faculties as two distinct periods, clean-cut
and consecutive in history, you would consent to view them with
me simply as the two faces of our nature, ever adverse, ever in
course of reconciliation, but never entirely reconciled.  In a
word, as individualism is the primordial fact of humanity, so
association is its complementary term; but both are in incessant
manifestation, and on earth justice is eternally the condition of

Thus the dogma of the fall is not simply the expression of a
special and transitory state of human reason and morality: it is
the spontaneous confession, in symbolic phrase, of this fact as
astonishing as it is indestructible, the culpability, the
inclination to evil, of our race.  Curse upon me a sinner! cries
on every hand and in every tongue the conscience of the human
race.  V{ae} nobis quia peccavimus!  Religion, in giving this
idea concrete and dramatic form, has indeed gone back of history
and beyond the limits of the world for that which is essential
and immanent in our soul; this, on its part, was but an
intellectual mirage; it was not mistaken as to the essentiality
and permanence of the fact.  Now, it is this fact for which we
have to account, and it is also from this point of view that we
are to interpret the dogma of original sin.

All peoples have had their expiatory customs, their penitential
sacrifices, their repressive and penal institutions, born of the
horror and regret of sin.  Catholicism, which built a theory
wherever social spontaneity had expressed an idea or deposited a
hope, converted into a sacrament the at once symbolic and
effective ceremony by which the sinner expressed his repentance,
asked pardon of God and men for his fault, and prepared himself
for a better life.  Consequently I do not hesitate to say that
the Reformation, in rejecting contrition, cavilling over the word
metanoia, attributing to faith alone the virtue of justification,
deconsecrating repentance in short, took a step backward and
utterly failed to recognize the law of progress.  To deny was not
to reply.  On this point as on so many others the abuses of the
Church called for reform; the theories of repentance, of
damnation, of the remission of sin, and of grace contained, if I
may venture to say so, in a latent state, the entire system of
humanity's education; these theories needed to be developed
and grown into rationalism; Luther knew nothing but their
destruction.  Auricular confession was a degradation of
repentance, an equivocal demonstration substituted for a great
act of humility; Luther surpassed papist hypocrisy by reducing
the primitive confession before God and men (exomologoumai to
theo. . . . kai humin, adelphoi) to a soliloquy.  The Christian
meaning then was lost, and not until three centuries later was it
restored by philosophy.

Since, then, Christianity--that is, religious humanity--has not
been in error as to the REALITY of a fact essential in human
nature,--a fact which it has designated by the words ORIGINAL
PREVARICATION, let us further interrogate Christianity, humanity,
as to the MEANING of this fact.  Let us not be astonished either
by metaphor or by allegory: truth is independent of figures.  And
besides, what is truth to us but the continuous progress of our
mind from poetry to prose?

And first let us inquire whether this at least singular idea of
original prevarication had not, somewhere in the Christian
theology, its correlative.  For the true idea, the generic idea,
cannot result from an isolated conception; there must be a

Christianity, after having posited the dogma of the fall as the
first term, followed up its thought by affirming, for all who
should die in this state of pollution, an irrevocable separation
from God, an eternity of punishment.  Then it completed its
theory by reconciling these two opposites by the dogma of
rehabilitation or of grace, according to which every creature
born in the hatred of God is reconciled by the merits of Jesus
Christ, which faith and repentance render efficacious.  Thus,
essential corruption of our nature and perpetuity of punishment,
except in the case of redemption through voluntary participation
in Christ's sacrifice,--such is, in brief, the evolution of the
theological idea.  The second affirmation is a consequence of the
first; the third is a negation and transformation of the two
others: in fact, a constitutional vice being necessarily
indestructible, the expiation which it involves is as eternal as
itself, unless a superior power comes to break destiny and lift
the anathema by an integral renovation.

The human mind, in its religious caprices as well as in its most
positive theories, has always but one method; the same
metaphysics produced the Christian mysteries and the
contradictions of political economy; faith, without knowing it,
hangs upon reason; and we, explorers of divine and human
manifestations, are entitled to verify, in the name of reason,
the hypotheses of theology.

What was it, then, that the universal reason, formulated in
religious dogmas, saw in human nature, when, by so regular a
metaphysical construction, it declared successively the
INGENUOUSNESS of the offence, the eternity of the penalty, the
necessity of grace?  The veils of theology are becoming so
transparent that it quite resembles natural history.

If we conceive the operation by which the supreme being is
supposed to have produced all beings, no longer as an emanation,
an exertion of the creative force and infinite substance, but as
a division or differentiation of this substantial force, each
being, organized or unorganized, will appear to us the special
representative of one of the innumerable potentialities of the
infinite being, as a section of the absolute; and the collection
of all these individualities (fluids, minerals, plants, insects,
fish, birds, and quadrupeds) will be the creation, the universe.

Man, an abridgment of the universe, sums up and syncretizes
in his person all the potentialities of being, all the sections
of the absolute; he is the summit at which these potentialities,
which exist only by their divergence, meet in a group, but
without penetrating or becoming confounded with each other.  Man,
therefore, by this aggregation, is at once spirit and matter,
spontaneity and reflection, mechanism and life, angel and brute.
He is venomous like the viper, sanguinary like the tiger,
gluttonous like the hog, obscene like the ape; and devoted like
the dog, generous like the horse, industrious like the bee,
monogamic like the dove, sociable like the beaver and sheep.  And
in addition he is man,--that is, reasonable and free, susceptible
of education and improvement.  Man enjoys as many names as
Jupiter; all these names he carries written on his face; and, in
the varied mirror of nature, his infallible instinct is able to
recognize them.  A serpent is beautiful to the reason; it is the
conscience that finds it odious and ugly.  The ancients as well
as the moderns grasped this idea of the constitution of man by
agglomeration of all terrestrial potentialities: the labors of
Gall and Lavater were, if I may say so, only attempts at
disintegration of the human syncretism, and their classification
of our faculties a miniature picture of nature.  Man, in short,
like the prophet in the lions' den, is veritably given over to
the beasts; and if anything is destined to exhibit to posterity
the infamous hypocrisy of our epoch, it is the fact that educated
persons, spiritualistic bigots, have thought to serve religion
and morality by altering the nature of our race and giving the
lie to anatomy.

Therefore the only question left to decide is whether it depends
upon man, notwithstanding the contradictions which the
progressive emission of his ideas multiplies around him, to give
more or less scope to the potentialities placed under his
control, or, as the moralists say, to his passions; in other
words, whether, like Hercules of old, he can conquer the
animality which besets him, the infernal legion which seems ever
ready to devour him.

Now, the universal consent of peoples bears witness--and we have
shown it in the third and fourth chapters--that man, all his
animal impulses set aside, is summed up in intelligence and
liberty,--that is, first, a faculty of appreciation and choice,
and, second, a power of action indifferently applicable to good
and evil.  We have shown further that these two faculties, which
exercise a necessary influence over each other, are susceptible
of indefinite development and improvement.

Social destiny, the solution of the human enigma, is found, then,
in these words: EDUCATION, PROGRESS.

The education of liberty, the taming of our instincts, the
enfranchisement or REDEMPTION of our soul,--this, then, as
Lessing has proved, is the meaning of the Christian mystery.
This education will last throughout our life and that of
humanity: the contradictions of political economy may be solved;
the essential contradiction of our being never will be.  That is
why the great teachers of humanity, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ,
Zoroaster, were all apostles of expiation, living symbols of
repentance.  Man is by nature a sinner,--that is, not essentially
ILL-DOING, but rather ILL-DONE,-- and it is his destiny to
perpetually re-create his ideal in himself.  That is what the
greatest of painters, Raphael, felt profoundly, when he said that
art consists in rendering things, not as nature made them, but as
it should have made them.

Henceforth, then, it is ours to teach the theologians, for we
alone continue the tradition of the Church, we alone possess the
meaning of the Scriptures, of the Councils, and of the Fathers.
Our interpretation rests on the most certain and most authentic
grounds, on the greatest authority to which men can appeal, the
metaphysical construction of ideas and facts.  Yes, the human
being is vicious because he is illogical, because his
constitution is but an eclecticism which holds in perpetual
struggle the potentialities of his being, independently of the
contradictions of society.  The life of man is only a continual
compromise between labor and pain, love and enjoyment, justice
and egoism; and the voluntary sacrifice which man makes in
obedience to his inferior attractions is the baptism which
prepares the way for his reconciliation with God and renders him
worthy of that beatific union and eternal happiness.

The object of social economy, in incessantly securing order in
labor and favoring the education of the race, is then to render
charity--that charity which knows not how to rule its
slaves--superfluous as far as possible by equality, or better, to
make charity develop from justice, as a flower from its stem.
Ah! if charity had had the power to create happiness among men,
it would have proved it long ago; and socialism, instead of
seeking the organization of labor, would have had but to say:
"Take care, you are lacking in charity."

But, alas! charity in man is stunted, sly, sluggish, and
lukewarm; in order to act, it needs elixirs and aromas.  That is
why I have clung to the triple dogma of prevarication, damnation,
and redemption,--that is, perfectibility through justice.
Liberty here below is always in need of assistance, and the
Catholic theory of celestial favors comes to complete this too
real demonstration of the miseries of our nature.

Grace, say the theologians, is, in the order of salvation, every
help or means which can conduct us to eternal life.  That is to
say, man perfects himself, civilizes himself, humanizes himself
only by the incessant aid of experience, by industry, science,
and art, by pleasure and pain, in a word, by all bodily and
mental exercises.

There is an HABITUAL grace, called also JUSTIFYING and
SANCTIFYING, which is conceived as a quality residing in the
soul, containing the innate virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit,
and inseparable from charity.  In other words, habitual grace is
the symbol of the predominance of good impulses, which lead man
to order and love, and by means of which he succeeds in subduing
his evil tendencies and remaining master in his own domain.  As
for ACTUAL grace, that indicates the external means which give
scope to the orderly passions and serve to combat the subversive

Grace, according to Saint Augustine, is essentially gratuitous,
and precedes sin in man.  Bossuet expressed the same thought in
his style so full of poesy and tenderness:  When God formed the
bowels of man, he originally placed goodness there.  In fact, the
first determination of free will is in this natural GOODNESS, by
which man is continually incited to order, to labor, to study, to
modesty, to charity, and to sacrifice.  Therefore Saint Paul
could say, without attacking free will, that, in everything
concerning the accomplishment of good, God worketh in us both to
will and to do.  For all the holy aspirations of man are in him
before he begins to think and feel; and the pangs of heart which
he experiences when he violates them, the delight with which he
is filled when he obeys them, all the invitations, in short,
which come to him from society and his education, do not belong
to him.

When grace is such that the will chooses the good with joy and
love, without hesitation and without recall, it is styled
EFFICACIOUS.  Every one has witnessed those transports of soul
which suddenly decide a vocation, an act of heroism.  Liberty
does not perish therein; but from its predeterminations it may be
said that it was inevitable that it should so decide.  And the
Pelagians, Lutherans, and others have been mistaken in saying
that grace compromised free choice and killed the creative force
of the will; since all determinations of the will come
necessarily either from society which sustains it, or from nature
which opens its career and points out its destiny.

But, on the other hand, the Augustinians, the Thomists, the
congruists, Jansen, Thomassin, Molina, etc., were strangely
mistaken when, sustaining at once free will and grace, they
failed to see that between these two terms the same relation
exists as between substance and form, and that they have
confessed an opposition which does not exist.  Liberty, like
intelligence, like all substance and all force, is necessarily
determined,--that is, it has its forms and its attributes.  Now,
while in matter the form and the attribute are inherent in and
contemporary with substance, in liberty the form is given by
three external agents, as it were,--the human essence, the laws
of thought, exercise or education.  GRACE, in fine, like its
opposite, TEMPTATION, indicates precisely the fact of the
determination of liberty.

To sum up, all modern ideas regarding the education of humanity
are only an interpretation, a philosophy of the Catholic doctrine
of grace, a doctrine which seemed obscure to its authors only
because of their ideas upon free will, which they supposed to be
threatened as soon as grace or the source of its determinations
was spoken of.  We affirm, on the contrary, that liberty,
indifferent in itself to all modality, but destined to act and to
take shape according to a preestablished order, receives its
first impulse from the Creator who inspires it with love,
intelligence, courage, resolution, and all the gifts of the Holy
Spirit, and then delivers it to the labor of experience.  It
follows from this that grace is necessarily PRE-MOVING, that
without it man is capable of no sort of good, and that
nevertheless free will accomplishes its own destiny
spontaneously, with reflection and choice.  In all this there is
neither contradiction nor mystery.  Man, in so far as he is man,
is good; but, like the tyrant described by Plato, who was, he
too, a teacher of grace, man carries in his bosom a thousand
monsters, which the worship of justice and science, music and
gymnastics, all the graces of opportunity and condition, must
cause him to overcome.  Correct one definition in Saint
Augustine, and all that doctrine of grace, famous because of the
disputes which it excited and which disconcerted the Reformation,
will seem to you brilliant with clearness and harmony.

And now is man God?

God, according to the theological hypothesis, being the
sovereign, absolute, highly synthetic being, the infinitely wise
and free, and therefore indefectible and holy, Me, it is plain
that man, the syncretism of the creation, the point of union of
all the potentialities manifested by the creation, physical,
organic, mental, and moral; man, perfectible and fallible, does
not satisfy the conditions of Divinity as he, from the nature of
his mind, must conceive them.  Neither is he God, nor can he,
living, become God.

All the more, then, the oak, the lion, the sun, the universe
itself, sections of the absolute, are not God.  At the same
stroke the worship of man and the worship of nature are

Now we have to present the counter-proof of this theory.

From the standpoint of social contradictions we have judged of
the morality of man.  We are to judge, in its turn and from the
same standpoint, the morality of Providence.  In other words, is
God possible, as speculation and faith offer him for the
adoration of mortals?

% 2.--Exposition of the myth of Providence.--Retrogression of

Among the proofs, to the number of three, which theologians and
philosophers are accustomed to bring forward to show the
existence of a God, they give the foremost position to universal

This argument I considered when, without rejecting or admitting
it, I promptly asked myself:  What does universal consent affirm
in affirming a God?  And in this connection I should recall the
fact that the difference of religions is not a proof that the
human race has fallen into error in affirming a supreme Me
outside of itself, any more than the diversity of languages is a
proof of the non-reality of reason.  The hypothesis of God, far
from being weakened, is strengthened and established by the very
divergence and opposition of faiths.

An argument of another sort is that which is drawn from the order
of the world.  In regard to this I have observed that, nature
affirming spontaneously, by the voice of man, its own distinction
into mind and matter, it remained to find out whether an infinite
mind, a soul of the world, governs and moves the universe, as
conscience, in its obscure intuition, tells us that a mind
animates man.  If, then, I added, order were an infallible sign
of the presence of mind, the presence of a God in the universe
could not be overlooked.

Unfortunately this IF is not demonstrated and cannot be.  For, on
the one hand, pure mind, conceived as the opposite of matter, is
a contradictory entity, the reality of which, consequently,
nothing can attest.  On the other hand, certain beings ordered in
themselves--such as crystals, plants, and the planetary system,
which, in the sensations that they make us feel, do not return us
sentiment for sentiment, as the animals do--seeming to us utterly
destitute of conscience, there is no more reason for supposing a
mind in the centre of the world than for placing one in a stick
of sulphur; and it may be that, if mind, conscience, exists
anywhere, it is only in man.

Nevertheless, if the order of the world can tell us nothing as to
the existence of God, it reveals a thing no less precious
perhaps, and which will serve us as a landmark in our
inquiries,--namely, that all beings, all essences, all phenomena
are bound together by a totality of laws resulting from their
properties, a totality which in the third chapter I have named
FATALITY or NECESSITY.  Whether or not there exists then an
infinite intelligence, embracing the whole system of these laws,
the whole field of fatalism; whether or not to this infinite
intelligence is united in profound penetration a superior will,
eternally determined by the totality of the cosmic laws and
consequently infinitely powerful and free; whether or not,
finally, these three things, fatality, intelligence, will, are
contemporary in the universe, adequate to each other and
identical,--it is clear that so far we find nothing repugnant to
these positions; but it is precisely this hypothesis, this
anthropomorphism, which is yet to be demonstrated.

Thus, while the testimony of the human race reveals to us a God,
without saying what this God may be, the order of the world
reveals to us a fatality,--that is, an absolute and peremptory
totality of causes and effects,--in short, a system of
laws,--which would be, if God exists, like the sight and
knowledge of this God.

The third and last proof of the existence of God proposed by the
theists and called by them the metaphysical proof is nothing but
a tautological construction of categories, which proves
absolutely nothing.

Something exists; therefore there is something in existence.

Something is multiple; therefore something is one.

Something comes after something; therefore something is prior to

Something is smaller of greater than something; therefore
something is greater than all things.

Something is moved; therefore something is mover, etc., ad

That is what is called even today, in the faculties and the
seminaries, by the minister of public education and by
Messeigneurs the bishops, proving the existence of God by
metaphysics.  That is what the elite of the French youth are
condemned to bleat after their professors, for a year, or else
forfeit their diplomas and the privilege of studying law,
medicine, polytechnics, and the sciences.  Certainly, if anything
is calculated to surprise, it is that with such philosophy Europe
is not yet atheistic.  The persistence of the theistic idea by
the side of the jargon of the schools is the greatest of
miracles; it constitutes the strongest prejudice that can be
cited in favor of Divinity.

I do not know what humanity calls God.

I cannot say whether it is man, the universe, or some invisible
reality that we are to understand by that name; or indeed whether
the word stands for anything more than an ideal, a creature of
the mind. Nevertheless, to give body to my hypothesis and
influence to my inquiries, I shall consider God in accordance
with the common opinion, as a being apart, omnipresent, distinct
from creation, endowed with imperishable life as well as infinite
knowledge and activity, but above all foreseeing and just,
punishing vice and rewarding virtue.  I shall put aside the
pantheistic hypothesis as hypocritical and lacking courage.  God
is personal, or he does not exist: this alternative is the axiom
from which I shall deduce my entire theodicy.

Not concerning myself therefore for the present with questions
which the idea of God may raise later, the problem before me now
is to decide, in view of the facts the evolution of which in
society I have established, what I should think of the conduct of
God, as it is held up for my faith and relatively to humanity.
In short, it is from the standpoint of the demonstrated existence
of evil that I, with the aid of a new dialectical process, mean
to fathom the Supreme Being. Evil exists: upon this point
everybody seems to agree.

Now, have asked the stoics, the Epicureans, the manicheans, and
the atheists, how harmonize the presence of evil with the idea of
a sovereignly good, wise, and powerful God?  How can God, after
allowing the introduction of evil into the world, whether through
weakness or negligence or malice, render responsible for their
acts creatures which he himself has created imperfect, and which
he thus delivers to all the dangers of their attractions?  Why,
finally, since he promises the just a never-ending bliss after
death, or, in other words, gives us the idea and desire of
happiness, does he not cause us to enjoy this life by stripping
us of the temptation of evil, instead of exposing us to an
eternity of torture?

Such used to be the purport of the protest of the atheists.

Today this is scarcely discussed: the theists are no longer
troubled by the logical impossibilities of their system.  They
want a God, especially a Providence: there is competition for
this article between the radicals and the Jesuits.  The
socialists preach happiness and virtue in the name of God; in the
schools those who talk the loudest against the Church are the
first of mystics.

The old theists were more anxious about their faith.  They tried,
if not to demonstrate it, at least to render it reasonable,
feeling sure, unlike their successors, that there is neither
dignity nor rest for the believer except in certainty.

The Fathers of the Church then answered the incredulous that evil
is only DEPRIVATION OF A GREATER GOOD, and that those who always
reason about the BETTER lack a point of support upon which to
establish themselves, which leads straight to absurdity.  In
fact, every creature being necessarily confined and imperfect,
God, by his infinite power, can continually add to his
perfections: in this respect there is always, in some degree, a
deprivation of good in the creature.  Reciprocally, however
imperfect and confined the creature is supposed to be, from the
moment that it exists it enjoys a certain degree of good, better
for it than annihilation.  Therefore, though it is a rule that
man is considered good only so far as he accomplishes all the
good that he can, it is not the same with God, since the
obligation to do good infinitely is contradictory to the very
faculty of creation, perfection and creature being two terms that
necessarily exclude each other.  God, then, was sole judge of the
degree of perfection which it was proper to give to each
creature: to prefer a charge against him under this head is to
slander his justice.

As for sin,--that is, moral evil,--the Fathers, to reply to the
objections of the atheists, had the theories of free will,
redemption, justification, and grace, to the discussion of which
we need not return.

I have no knowledge that the atheists have replied categorically
to this theory of the essential imperfection of the creature, a
theory reproduced with brilliancy by M. de Lamennais in his
"Esquisse."  It was impossible, indeed, for them to reply to it;
for, reasoning from a false conception of evil and of free will,
and in profound ignorance of the laws of humanity, they were
equally without reasons by which either to triumph over their own
doubts or to refute the believers.

Let us leave the sphere of the finite and infinite, and place
ourselves in the conception of order.  Can God make a round
circle, a right-angled square?  Certainly.

Would God be guilty if, after having created the world according
to the laws of geometry, he had put it into our minds, or even
allowed us to believe without fault of our own, that a circle may
be square or a square circular, though, in consequence of this
false opinion, we should have to suffer an incalculable series of
evils?  Again, undoubtedly.

Well! that is exactly what God, the God of Providence, has done
in the government of humanity; it is of that that I accuse him.
He knew from all eternity--inasmuch as we mortals have discovered
it after six thousand years of painful experience--that order in
society--that is, liberty, wealth, science--is realized by the
reconciliation of opposite ideas which, were each to be taken as
absolute in itself, would precipitate us into an abyss of misery:
why did he not warn us?  Why did he not correct our judgment at
the start?  Why did he abandon us to our imperfect logic,
especially when our egoism must find a pretext in his acts of
injustice and perfidy?  He knew, this jealous God, that, if he
exposed us to the hazards of experience, we should not find until
very late that security of life which constitutes our entire
happiness: why did he not abridge this long apprenticeship
by a revelation of our own laws?  Why, instead of fascinating us
with contradictory opinions, did he not reverse experience by
causing us to reach the antinomies by the path of analysis of
synthetic ideas, instead of leaving us to painfully clamber up
the steeps of antinomy to synthesis?

If, as was formerly thought, the evil from which humanity suffers
arose solely from the imperfection inevitable in every creature,
or better, if this evil were caused only by the antagonism of the
potentialities and inclinations which constitute our being, and
which reason should teach us to master and guide, we should have
no right to complain.  Our condition being all that it could be,
God would be justified.

But, in view of this wilful delusion of our minds, a delusion
which it was so easy to dissipate and the effects of which must
be so terrible, where is the excuse of Providence?  Is it not
true that grace failed man here?  God, whom faith represents as a
tender father and a prudent master, abandons us to the fatality
of our incomplete conceptions; he digs the ditch under our feet;
he causes us to move blindly: and then, at every fall, he
punishes us as rascals.  What do I say?  It seems as if it were
in spite of him that at last, covered with bruises from our
journey, we recognize our road; as if we offended his glory in
becoming more intelligent and free through the trials which he
imposes upon us.  What need, then, have we to continually invoke
Divinity, and what have we to do with those satellites of a
Providence which for sixty centuries, by the aid of a thousand
religions, has deceived and misled us?

What!  God, through his gospel-bearers and by the law which he
has put in our hearts, commands us to love our neighbor as
ourselves, to do to others as we wish to be done by, to render
each his due, not to keep back anything from the laborer's hire,
and not to lend at usury; he knows, moreover, that in us charity
is lukewarm and conscience vacillating, and that the slightest
pretext always seems to us a sufficient reason for exemption from
the law: and yet he involves us, with such dispositions, in the
contradictions of commerce and property, in which, by the
necessity of the theory, charity and justice are bound to perish!
Instead of enlightening our reason concerning the bearing of
principles which impose themselves upon it with all the power of
necessity, but whose consequences, adopted by egoism, are fatal
to human fraternity, he places this abused reason at the service
of our passion; by seduction of the mind, he destroys our
equilibrium of conscience; he justifies in our own eyes our
usurpations and our avarice; he makes the separation of man from
his fellow inevitable and legitimate; he creates division and
hatred among us in rendering equality by labor and by right
impossible; he makes us believe that this equality, the law of
the world, is unjust among men; and then he proscribes us en
masse for not having known how to practise his incomprehensible
precepts!  I believe I have proved, to be sure, that our
abandonment by Providence does not justify us; but, whatever our
crime, toward it we are not guilty; and if there is a being who,
before ourselves and more than ourselves, is deserving of
hell,--I am bound to name him,--it is God.

When the theists, in order to establish their dogma of
Providence, cite the order of nature as a proof, although this
argument is only a begging of the question, at least it cannot be
said that it involves a contradiction, and that the fact cited
bears witness against the hypothesis.  In the system of the
world, for instance, nothing betrays the smallest anomaly,
the slightest lack of foresight, from which any prejudice
whatever can be drawn against the idea of a supreme, intelligent,
personal motor.  In short, though the order of nature does not
prove the reality of a Providence, it does not contradict it.

It is a very different thing with the government of humanity.
Here order does not appear at the same time as matter; it was not
created, as in the system of the world, once and for eternity.
It is gradually developed according to an inevitable series of
principles and consequences which the human being himself, the
being to be ordered, must disengage spontaneously, by his own
energy and at the solicitation of experience.  No revelation
regarding this is given him.  Man is submitted at his origin to a
preestablished necessity, to an absolute and irresistible order.
That this order may be realized, man must discover it; that it
may exist, he must have divined it.  This labor of invention
might be abridged; no one, either in heaven or on earth, will
come to man's aid; no one will instruct him.  Humanity, for
hundreds of centuries, will devour its generations; it will
exhaust itself in blood and mire, without the God whom it
worships coming once to illuminate its reason and abridge its
time of trial.  Where is divine action here?  Where is

"IF GOD DID NOT EXIST,"--it is Voltaire, the enemy of religions,
"Because," adds the same Voltaire, "if I were dealing with an
atheist prince whose interest it might be to have me pounded in a
mortar, I am very sure that I should be pounded."  Strange
aberration of a great mind!  And if you were dealing with a pious
prince, whose confessor, speaking in the name of God, should
command that you be burned alive, would you not be very sure of
being burned also?  Do you forget, then, anti-Christ, the
Inquisition, and the Saint Bartholomew, and the stakes of Vanini
and Bruno, and the tortures of Galileo, and the martyrdom of so
many free thinkers?  Do not try to distinguish here between use
and abuse: for I should reply to you that from a mystical and
supernatural principle, from a principle which embraces
everything, which explains everything, which justifies
everything, such as the idea of God, all consequences are
legitimate, and that the zeal of the believer is the sole judge
of their propriety.

"I once believed," says Rousseau, "that it was possible to be an
honest man and dispense with God; but I have recovered from that
error."  Fundamentally the same argument as that of Voltaire, the
same justification of intolerance:  Man does good and abstains
from evil only through consideration of a Providence which
watches over him; a curse on those who deny its existence!  And,
to cap the climax of absurdity, the man who thus seeks for our
virtue the sanction of a Divinity who rewards and punishes is the
same man who teaches the native goodness of man as a religious

And for my part I say:  The first duty of man, on becoming
intelligent and free, is to continually hunt the idea of God out
of his mind and conscience.  For God, if he exists, is
essentially hostile to our nature, and we do not depend at all
upon his authority.  We arrive at knowledge in spite of him, at
comfort in spite of him, at society in spite of him; every step
we take in advance is a victory in which we crush Divinity.

Let it no longer be said that the ways of God are impenetrable.
We have penetrated these ways, and there we have read in letters
of blood the proofs of God's impotence, if not of his
malevolence.  My reason, long humiliated, is gradually rising to
a level with the infinite; with time it will discover all that
its inexperience hides from it; with time I shall be less and
less a worker of misfortune, and by the light that I shall have
acquired, by the perfection of my liberty, I shall purify myself,
idealize my being, and become the chief of creation, the equal of
God.  A single moment of disorder which the Omnipotent might have
prevented and did not prevent accuses his Providence and shows
him lacking in wisdom; the slightest progress which man,
ignorant, abandoned, and betrayed, makes towards good honors him
immeasurably.  By what right should God still say to me:  BE
HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY?  Lying spirit, I will answer him, imbecile
God, your reign is over; look to the beasts for other victims.  I
know that I am not holy and never can become so; and how could
you be holy, if I resemble you?  Eternal father, Jupiter or
Jehovah, we have learned to know you; you are, you were, you ever
will be, the jealous rival of Adam, the tyrant of Prometheus.

So I do not fall into the sophism refuted by St. Paul, when he
forbids the vase to say to the potter:  Why hast thou made me
thus?  I do not blame the author of things for having made me an
inharmonious creature, an incoherent assemblage; I could exist
only in such a condition.  I content myself with crying out to
him:  Why do you deceive me?  Why, by your silence, have you
unchained egoism within me?  Why have you submitted me to the
torture of universal doubt by the bitter illusion of the
antagonistic ideas which you have put in my mind?  Doubt of
truth, doubt of justice, doubt of my conscience and my liberty,
doubt of yourself, O God! and, as a result of this doubt,
necessity of war with myself and with my neighbor!  That, supreme
Father, is what you have done for our happiness and your glory;
such, from the beginning, have been your will and your
government; such the bread, kneaded in blood and tears, upon
which you have fed us.  The sins which we ask you to forgive, you
caused us to commit; the traps from which we implore you to
deliver us, you set for us; and the Satan who besets us is

You triumphed, and no one dared to contradict you, when, after
having tormented in his body and in his soul the righteous Job, a
type of our humanity, you insulted his candid piety, his prudent
and respectful ignorance.  We were as naught before your
invisible majesty, to whom we gave the sky for a canopy and the
earth for a footstool.  And now here you are dethroned and
broken.  Your name, so long the last word of the savant, the
sanction of the judge, the force of the prince, the hope of the
poor, the refuge of the repentant sinner,--this incommunicable
name, I say, henceforth an object of contempt and curses, shall
be a hissing among men.  For God is stupidity and cowardice; God
is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and misery; God is
evil.  As long as humanity shall bend before an altar, humanity,
the slave of kings and priests, will be condemned; as long as one
man, in the name of God, shall receive the oath of another man,
society will be founded on perjury; peace and love will be
banished from among mortals.  God, take yourself away! for, from
this day forth, cured of your fear and become wise, I swear, with
hand extended to heaven, that you are only the tormentor of my
reason, the spectre of my conscience.

I deny, therefore, the supremacy of God over humanity; I reject
his providential government, the non-existence of which is
sufficiently established by the metaphysical and economical
hallucinations of humanity,--in a word, by the martyrdom of
our race; I decline the jurisdiction of the Supreme Being over
man; I take away his titles of father, king, judge, good,
merciful, pitiful, helpful, rewarding, and avenging.  All these
attributes, of which the idea of Providence is made up, are but a
caricature of humanity, irreconcilable with the autonomy of
civilization, and contradicted, moreover, by the history of its
aberrations and catastrophes.  Does it follow, because God can no
longer be conceived as Providence, because we take from him that
attribute so important to man that he has not hesitated to make
it the synonym of God, that God does not exist, and that the
theological dogma from this moment is shown to be false in its

Alas! no.  A prejudice relative to the divine essence has been
destroyed; by the same stroke the independence of man is
established: that is all.  The reality of the divine Being is
left intact, and our hypothesis still exists.  In demonstrating
that it was impossible for God to be Providence, we have taken a
first step in the determination of the idea of God; the question
now is to find out whether this first datum accords with the rest
of the hypothesis, and consequently to determine, from the same
standpoint of intelligence, what God is, if he is.

For just as, after having established the guilt of man under the
influence of the economical contradictions, we have had to
account for this guilt, if we would not leave man wounded after
having made him a contemptible satire, likewise, after having
admitted the chimerical nature of the doctrine of a Providence in
God, we must inquire how this lack of Providence harmonizes with
the idea of sovereign intelligence and liberty, if we would not
sacrifice the proposed hypothesis, which nothing yet shows to be

I affirm, then, that God, if there is a God, does not resemble
the effigies which philosophers and priests have made of him;
that he neither thinks nor acts according to the law of analysis,
foresight, and progress, which is the distinctive characteristic
of man; that, on the contrary, he seems rather to follow an
inverse and retrogressive course; that intelligence, liberty,
personality in God are constituted not as in us; and that this
originality of nature, perfectly accounted for, makes God an
essentially anti-civilizing, anti-liberal, anti-human being.

I prove my proposition by going from the negative to the
positive,--that is, by deducing the truth of my thesis from the
progress of the objections to it.

1. God, say the believers, can be conceived only as infinitely
good, infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, etc.,--the whole
litany of the infinites.  Now, infinite perfection cannot be
reconciled with the datum of a will holding an indifferent or
even reactionary attitude toward progress: therefore, either God
does not exist, or the objection drawn from the development of
the antinomies proves only our ignorance of the mysteries of

I answer these reasoners that, if, to give legitimacy to a wholly
arbitrary opinion, it suffices to fall back on the
unfathomability of mysteries, I am as well satisfied with the
mystery of a God without providence as with that of a Providence
without efficacy.  But, in view of the facts, there is no
occasion to invoke such a consideration of probability; we must
confine ourselves to the positive declaration of experience.
Now, experience and facts prove that humanity, in its
development, obeys an inflexible necessity, whose laws are made
clear and whose system is realized as fast as the collective
reason reveals it, without anything in society to give evidence
of an external instigation, either from a providential
command or from any superhuman thought.  The basis of the belief
in Providence is this necessity itself, which is, as it were, the
foundation and essence of collective humanity.  But this
necessity, thoroughly systematic and progressive as it may
appear, does not on that account constitute providence either in
humanity or in God; to become convinced thereof it is enough to
recall the endless oscillations and painful gropings by which
social order is made manifest.

2. Other arguers come unexpectedly across our path, and cry:
What is the use of these abstruse researches?  There is no more
an infinite intelligence than a Providence; there is neither me
nor will in the universe outside of man.  All that happens, evil
as well as good, happens necessarily.  An irresistible ensemble
of causes and effects embraces man and nature in the same
fatality; and those faculties in ourselves which we call
conscience, will, judgment, etc., are only particular accidents
of the eternal, immutable, and inevitable whole.

This argument is the preceding one inverted.  It consists in
substituting for the idea of an omnipotent and omniscient author
that of a necessary and eternal, but unconscious and blind,
coordination.  From this opposition we can already form a
presentiment that the reasoning of the materialists is no firmer
than that of the believers.

Whoever says necessity or fatality says absolute and inviolable
order; whoever, on the contrary, says disturbance and disorder
affirms that which is most repugnant to fatality.  Now, there is
disorder in the world, disorder produced by the play of
spontaneous forces which no power enchains: how can that be, if
everything is the result of fate?

But who does not see that this old quarrel between theism and
materialism proceeds from a false notion of liberty and fatality,
two terms which have been considered contradictory, though really
they are not.  If man is free, says the one party, all the more
surely is God free too, and fatality is but a word; if everything
is enchained in nature, answers the other party, there is neither
liberty nor Providence: and so each party argues in its own
direction till out of sight, never able to understand that this
pretended opposition of liberty and fatality is only the natural,
but not antithetical, distinction between the facts of activity
and those of intelligence.

Fatality is the absolute order, the law, the code, fatum, of the
constitution of the universe.  But this code, very far from being
exclusive in itself of the idea of a sovereign legislator,
supposes it so naturally that all antiquity has not hesitated to
admit it; and today the whole question is to find out whether, as
the founders of religions have believed, the legislator preceded
the law in the universe,--that is, whether intelligence is prior
to fatality,--or whether, as the moderns claim, the law preceded
the legislator,--in other words, whether mind is born of nature.
BEFORE or AFTER, this alternative sums up all philosophy.  To
dispute over the posteriority or priority of mind is all very
well, but to deny mind in the name of fatality is an exclusion
which nothing justifies.  To refute it, it is sufficient to
recall the very fact on which it is based,--the existence of

Given matter and attraction, the system of the world is their
product: that is fatal.  Given two correlative and contradictory
ideas, a composition must follow: that also is fatal.  Fatality
clashes, not with liberty, whose destiny, on the contrary, is to
secure the accomplishment of fatality within a certain sphere,
but with disorder, with everything that acts as a barrier to the
execution of the law.  Is there disorder in the world, yes or no?

The fatalists do not deny it, for, by the strangest blunder, it
is the presence of evil which has made them fatalists.  Now, I
say that the presence of evil, far from giving evidence of
fatality, breaks fatality, does violence to destiny, and supposes
a cause whose erroneous but voluntary initiative is in
discordance with the law.  This cause I call liberty; and I have
proved, in the fourth chapter, that liberty, like reason which
serves man as a torch, is as much greater and more perfect as it
harmonizes more completely with the order of nature, which is

Therefore to oppose fatality to the testimony of the conscience
which feels itself free, and vice versa, is to prove that one
misconstrues ideas and has not the slightest appreciation of the
question.  The progress of humanity may be defined as the
education of reason and human liberty by fatality: it is absurd
to regard these three terms as exclusive of each other and
irreconcilable, when in reality they sustain each other, fatality
serving as the base, reason coming after, and liberty crowning
the edifice.  It is to know and penetrate fatality that human
reason tends; it is to conform to it that liberty aspires; and
the criticism in which we are now engaged of the spontaneous
development and instinctive beliefs of the human race is at
bottom only a study of fatality.  Let us explain this.

Man, endowed with activity and intelligence, has the power to
disturb the order of the world, of which he forms a part.  But
all his digressions have been foreseen, and are effected within
certain limits, which, after a certain number of goings and
comings, lead man back to order.  From these oscillations of
liberty may be determined the role of humanity in the world; and,
since the destiny of man is bound up with that of creatures, it
is possible to go back from him to the supreme law of things and
even to the sources of being.

Accordingly I will no longer ask:  How is it that man has the
power to violate the providential order, and how is it that
Providence allows him to do so?  I state the question in other
terms:  How is it that man, an integrant part of the universe, a
product of fatality, is able to break fatality?  How is it that a
fatal organization, the organization of humanity, is
adventitious, contradictory, full of tumult and catastrophes?
Fatality is not confined to an hour, to a century, to a thousand
years: if science and liberty must inevitably be ours, why do
they not come sooner?  For, the moment we suffer from the delay,
fatality contradicts itself; evil is as exclusive of fatality as
of Providence.

What sort of a fatality, in short, is that which is contradicted
every instant by the facts which take place within its bosom?
This the fatalists are bound to explain, quite as much as the
theists are bound to explain what sort of an infinite
intelligence that can be which is unable either to foresee or
prevent the misery of its creatures.

But that is not all.  Liberty, intelligence, fatality, are at
bottom three adequate expressions, serving to designate three
different faces of being.  In man reason is only a defined
liberty conscious of its limit.  But within the circle of its
limitations this liberty is also fatality, a living and personal
fatality.  When, therefore, the conscience of the human race
proclaims that the fatality of the universe--that is, the
highest, the supreme fatality--is adequate to an infinite reason
as well as to an infinite liberty, it simply puts forth an
hypothesis in every way legitimate, the verification of which is
incumbent upon all parties.

3. Now come the HUMANISTS, the new atheists, and say:

Humanity in its ensemble is the reality sought by the social
genius under the mystical name of God.  This phenomenon of
the collective reason,--a sort of mirage in which humanity,
contemplating itself, takes itself for an external and
transcendent being who considers its destinies and presides over
them,--this illusion of the conscience, we say, has been analyzed
and explained; and henceforth to reproduce the theological
hypothesis is to take a step backward in science.  We must
confine ourselves strictly to society, to man.  GOD in religion,
the STATE in politics, PROPERTY in economy, such is the triple
form under which humanity, become foreign to itself, has not
ceased to rend itself with its own hands, and which today it must

I admit that every affirmation or hypothesis of Divinity proceeds
from anthropomorphism, and that God in the first place is only
the ideal, or rather, the spectre of man.  I admit further that
the idea of God is the type and foundation of the principle of
authority and absolutism, which it is our task to destroy or at
least to subordinate wherever it manifests itself, in science,
industry, public affairs.  Consequently I do not contradict
humanism; I continue it.  Taking up its criticism of the divine
being and applying it to man, I observe:

That man, in adoring himself as God, has posited of himself an
ideal contrary to his own essence, and has declared himself an
antagonist of the being supposed to be sovereignly perfect,--in
short, of the infinite;

That man consequently is, in his own judgment, only a false
divinity, since in setting up God he denies himself; and that
humanism is a religion as detestable as any of the theisms of
ancient origin;

That this phenomenon of humanity taking itself for God is not
explainable in the terms of humanism, and requires a further

God, according to the theological conception, is not only
sovereign master of the universe, the infallible and
irresponsible king of creatures, the intelligible type of man; he
is the eternal, immutable, omnipresent, infinitely wise,
infinitely free being.  Now, I say that these attributes of God
contain more than an ideal, more than an elevation--to whatever
power you will--of the corresponding attributes of humanity; I
say that they are a contradiction of them.  God is contradictory
of man, just as charity is contradictory of justice; as sanctity,
the ideal of perfection, is contradictory of perfectibility; as
royalty, the ideal of legislative power, is contradictory of law,
etc.  So that the divine hypothesis is reborn from its resolution
into human reality, and the problem of a complete, harmonious,
and absolute existence, ever put aside, ever comes back.

To demonstrate this radical antinomy it suffices to put facts in
juxtaposition with definitions.

Of all facts the most certain, most constant, most indubitable,
is certainly that in man knowledge is progressive, methodical,
the result of reflection,--in short, experimental; so much so
that every theory not having the sanction of experience--that is,
of constancy and concatenation in its representations--thereby
lacks a scientific character.  In regard to this not the
slightest doubt can be raised.  Mathematics themselves, though
called pure, are subject to the CONCATENATION of propositions,
and hence depend upon experience and acknowledge its law.

Man's knowledge, starting with acquired observation, then
progresses and advances in an unlimited sphere.  The goal which
it has in view, the ideal which it tends to realize without ever
being able to attain it,-- placing it on the contrary farther and
farther ahead of it,--is the infinite, the absolute.

Now, what would be an infinite knowledge, an absolute knowledge,
determining an equally infinite liberty, such as speculation
supposes in God?  It would be a knowledge not only universal, but
intuitive, spontaneous, as thoroughly free from hesitation as
from objectivity, although embracing at once the real and the
possible; a knowledge sure, but not demonstrative; complete, not
sequential; a knowledge, in short, which, being eternal in its
formation, would be destitute of any progressive character in the
relation of its parts.

Psychology has collected numerous examples of this mode of
knowing in the instinctive and divinatory faculties of animals;
in the spontaneous talent of certain men born mathematicians and
artists, independent of all education; finally, in most of the
primitive human institutions and monuments, products of
unconscious genius independent of theories.  And the regular and
complex movements of the heavenly bodies; the marvellous
combinations of matter,--could it not be said that these too are
the effects of a special instinct, inherent in the elements?

If, then, God exists, something of him appears to us in the
universe and in ourselves: but this something is in flagrant
opposition with our most authentic tendencies, with our most
certain destiny; this something is continually being effaced from
our soul by education, and to make it disappear is the object of
our care.  God and man are two natures which shun each other as
soon as they know each other; in the absence of a transformation
of one or the other or both, how could they ever be reconciled?
If the progress of reason tends to separate us from Divinity, how
could God and man be identical in point of reason?  How,
consequently, could humanity become God by education?

Let us take another example.

The essential characteristic of religion is feeling.  Hence, by
religion, man attributes feeling to God, as he attributes reason
to him; moreover, he affirms, following the ordinary course of
his ideas, that feeling in God, like knowledge, is infinite.

Now, that alone is sufficient to change the quality of feeling in
God, and make it an attribute totally distinct from that of man.
In man sentiment flows, so to speak, from a thousand different
sources: it contradicts itself, it confuses itself, it rends
itself; otherwise, it would not feel itself.  In God, on the
contrary, sentiment is infinite,--that is, one, complete, fixed,
clear, above all storms, and not needing irritation as a contrast
in order to arrive at happiness.  We ourselves experience this
divine mode of feeling when a single sentiment, absorbing all our
faculties, as in the case of ecstasy, temporarily imposes silence
upon the other affections.  But this rapture exists always only
by the aid of contrast and by a sort of provocation from without;
it is never perfect, or, if it reaches fulness, it is like the
star which attains its apogee, for an indivisible instant.

Thus we do not live, we do not feel, we do not think, except by a
series of oppositions and shocks, by an internal warfare; our
ideal, then, is not infinity, but equilibrium; infinity expresses
something other than ourselves.

It is said:  God has no attributes peculiar to himself; his
attributes are those of man; then man and God are one and the
same thing.

On the contrary, the attributes of man, being infinite in God,
are for that very reason peculiar and specific: it is the nature
of the infinite to become speciality, essence, from the fact that
the finite exists.  Deny then, if you will, the reality of God,
as one denies the reality of a contradictory idea; reject
from science and morality this inconceivable and bloody phantom
which seems to pursue us the more, the farther it gets from us;
up to a certain point that may be justified, and at any rate can
do no harm.  But do not make God into humanity, for that would be
slander of both.

Will it be said that the opposition between man and the divine
being is illusory, and that it arises from the opposition that
exists between the individual man and the essence of entire
humanity?  Then it must be maintained that humanity, since it is
humanity that they deify, is neither progressive, nor contrasted
in reason and feeling; in short, that it is infinite in
everything,--which is denied not only by history, but by

This is not a correct understanding, cry the humanists.  To have
the right ideal of humanity, it must be considered, not in its
historic development, but in the totality of its manifestations,
as if all human generations, gathered into one moment, formed a
single man, an infinite and immortal man.

That is to say, they abandon the reality to seize a projection;
the true man is not the real man; to find the veritable man, the
human ideal, we must leave time and enter eternity,--what do I
say?--desert the finite for infinity, man for God!  Humanity, in
the shape we know it, in the shape in which it is developed, in
the only shape in fact in which it can exist, is erect; they show
us its reversed image, as in a mirror, and then say to us:  That
is man!  And I answer:  It is no longer man, it is God.  Humanism
is the most perfect theism.

What, then, is this providence which the theists suppose in God?
An essentially human faculty, an anthropomorphic attribute, by
which God is thought to look into the future according to the
progress of events, in the same way that we men look into
the past, following the perspective of chronology and history.

Now, it is plain that, just as infinity--that is, spontaneous and
universal intuition in knowledge--is incompatible with humanity,
so providence is incompatible with the hypothesis of the divine
being.  God, to whom all ideas are equal and simultaneous; God,
whose reason does not separate synthesis from antinomy; God, to
whom eternity renders all things present and contemporary,--was
unable, when creating us, to reveal to us the mystery of our
contradictions; and that precisely because he is God, because he
does not see contradiction, because his intelligence does not
fall under the category of time and the law of progress, because
his reason is intuitive and his knowledge infinite.  Providence
in God is a contradiction within a contradiction; it was through
providence that God was actually made in the image of man; take
away this providence, and God ceases to be man, and man in turn
must abandon all his pretensions to divinity.

Perhaps it will be asked of what use it is to God to have
infinite knowledge, if he is ignorant of what takes place in

Let us distinguish.  God has a perception of order, the sentiment
of good.  But this order, this good, he sees as eternal and
absolute; he does not see it in its successive and imperfect
aspects; he does not grasp its defects.  We alone are capable of
seeing, feeling, and appreciating evil, as well as of measuring
duration, because we alone are capable of producing evil, and
because our life is temporary.  God sees and feels only order;
God does not grasp what happens, because what happens is BENEATH
him, beneath his horizon.  We, on the contrary, see at once the
good and the evil, the temporal and the eternal, order and
disorder, the finite and the infinite; we see within us and
outside of us; and our reason, because it is finite, surpasses
our horizon.

Thus, by the creation of man and the development of society, a
finite and providential reason, our own, has been posited in
contradiction of the intuitive and infinite reason, God; so that
God, without losing anything of his infinity in any direction,
seems diminished by the very fact of the existence of humanity.
Progressive reason resulting from the projection of eternal ideas
upon the movable and inclined plane of time, man can understand
the language of God, because he comes from God and his reason at
the start is like that of God; but God cannot understand us or
come to us, because he is infinite and cannot re-clothe himself
in finite attributes without ceasing to be God, without
destroying himself.  The dogma of providence in God is shown to
be false, both in fact and in right.

It is easy now to see how the same reasoning turns against the
system of the deification of man.

Man necessarily positing God as absolute and infinite in his
attributes, whereas he himself develops in a direction the
inverse of this ideal, there is discord between the progress of
man and what man conceives as God.  On the one hand, it appears
that man, by the syncretism of his constitution and the
perfectibility of his nature, is not God and cannot become God;
on the other, it is plain that God, the supreme Being, is the
antipode of humanity, the ontological summit from which it
indefinitely separates itself.  God and man, having divided
between them the antagonistic faculties of being, seem to be
playing a game in which the control of the universe is the stake,
the one having spontaneity, directness, infallibility, eternity,
the other having foresight, deduction, mobility, time.  God and
man hold each other in perpetual check and continually avoid
each other; while the latter goes ahead in reflection and theory
without ever resting, the former, by his providential incapacity,
seems to withdraw into the spontaneity of his nature.  There is a
contradiction, therefore, between humanity and its ideal, an
opposition between man and God, an opposition which Christian
theology has allegorized and personified under the name of Devil
or Satan,--that is, contradictor, enemy of God and man.

Such is the fundamental antinomy which I find that modern critics
have not taken into account, and which, if neglected, having
sooner or later to end in the negation of the man-God and
consequently in the negation of this whole philosophical
exegesis, reopens the door to religion and fanaticism.

God, according to the humanists, is nothing but humanity itself,
the collective me to which the individual me is subjected as to
an invisible master.  But why this singular vision, if the
portrait is a faithful copy of the original?  Why has man, who
from his birth has known directly and with out a telescope his
body, his soul, his chief, his priest, his country, his
condition, been obliged to see himself as in a mirror, and
without recognizing himself, under the fantastic image of God?
Where is the necessity of this hallucination?  What is this dim
and ambiguous consciousness which, after a certain time, becomes
purified, rectified, and, instead of taking itself for another,
definitively apprehends itself as such?  Why on the part of man
this transcendental confession of society, when society itself
was there, present, visible, palpable, willing, and
acting,--when, in short, it was known as society and named as

No, it is said, society did not exist; men were agglomerated, but
not associated; the arbitrary constitution of property and
the State, as well as the intolerant dogmatism of religion, prove

Pure rhetoric: society exists from the day that individuals,
communicating by labor and speech, assume reciprocal obligations
and give birth to laws and customs.  Undoubtedly society becomes
perfect in proportion to the advances of science and economy, but
at no epoch of civilization does progress imply any such
metamorphosis as those dreamed of by the builders of utopia; and
however excellent the future condition of humanity is to be, it
will be none the less the natural continuation, the necessary
consequence, of its previous positions.

For the rest, no system of association being exclusive in itself,
as I have shown, of fraternity and justice, it has never been
possible to confound the political ideal with God, and we see in
fact that all peoples have distinguished society from religion.
The first was taken as END, the second regarded only as MEANS;
the prince was the minister of the collective will, while God
reigned over consciences, awaiting beyond the grave the guilty
who escaped the justice of men.  Even the idea of progress and
reform has never been anywhere absent; nothing, in short, of that
which constitutes social life has been entirely ignored or
misconceived by any religious nation.  Why, then, once more, this
tautology of Society-Divinity, if it is true, as is pretended,
that the theological hypothesis contains nothing other than the
ideal of human society, the preconceived type of humanity
transfigured by equality, solidarity, labor, and love?

Certainly, if there is a prejudice, a mysticism, which now seems
to me deceptive in a high degree, it is no longer Catholicism,
which is disappearing, but rather this humanitary philosophy,
making man a holy and sacred being on the strength of a
speculation too learned not to have something of the arbitrary in
its composition; proclaiming him God,--that is, essentially good
and orderly in all his powers, in spite of the disheartening
evidence which he continually gives of his doubtful morality;
attributing his vices to the constraint in which he has lived,
and promising from him in complete liberty acts of the purest
devotion, because in the myths in which humanity, according to
this philosophy, has painted itself, we find described and
opposed to each other, under the names of hell and paradise, a
time of constraint and penalty and an era of happiness and
independence!  With such a doctrine it would suffice--and
moreover it would be inevitable--for man to recognize that he is
neither God, nor good, nor holy, nor wise, in order to fall back
immediately into the arms of religion; so that in the last
analysis all that the world will have gained by the denial of God
will be the resurrection of God.

Such is not my view of the meaning of the religious fables.
Humanity, in recognizing God as its author, its master, its alter
ego, has simply determined its own essence by an antithesis,--an
eclectic essence, full of contrasts, emanated from the infinite
and contradictory of the infinite, developed in time and aspiring
to eternity, and for all these reasons fallible, although guided
by the sentiment of beauty and order.  Humanity is the daughter
of God, as every opposition is the daughter of a previous
position: that is why humanity has formed God like itself, has
lent him its own attributes, but always by giving them a specific
character,--that is, by defining God in contradiction of itself.
Humanity is a spectre to God, just as God is a spectre to
humanity; each of the two is the other's cause, reason, and end
of existence.

It was not enough, then, to have demonstrated, by criticism
of religious ideas, that the conception of the divine me leads
back to the perception of the human me; it was also necessary to
verify this deduction by a criticism of humanity itself, and to
see whether this humanity satisfies the conditions that its
apparent divinity supposes.  Now, such is the task that we
solemnly inaugurated when, starting at once with human reality
and the divine hypothesis, we began to unroll the history of
society in its economic institutions and speculative thoughts.

We have shown, on the one hand, that man, although incited by the
antagonism of his ideas, and although up to a certain point
excusable, does evil gratuitously and by the bestial impulse of
his passions, which are repugnant to the character of a free,
intelligent, and holy being.  We have shown, on the other hand,
that the nature of man is not harmoniously and synthetically
constituted, but formed by an agglomeration of the potentialities
specialized in each creature,--a circumstance which, in revealing
to us the principle of the disorders committed by human liberty,
has finished the demonstration of the non- divinity of our race.
Finally, after having proved that in God providence not only does
not exist, but is impossible; after having, in other words,
separated the divine attributes of the infinite Being from the
anthropomorphic attributes,--we have concluded, contrary to the
affirmations of the old theodicy, that, relatively to the destiny
of man, a destiny essentially progressive, intelligence and
liberty in God suffered a contrast, a sort of limitation and
diminution, resulting from his eternal, immutable, and infinite
nature; so that man, instead of adoring in God his sovereign and
his guide, could and should look on him only as his antagonist.
And this last consideration will suffice to make us reject
humanism also, as tending invincibly, by the deification of
humanity, to a religious restoration.  The true remedy for
fanaticism, in our view, is not to identify humanity with God,
which amounts to affirming, in social economy communism, in
philosophy mysticism and the statu quo; it is to prove to
humanity that God, in case there is a God, is its enemy.

What solution will result later from these data?  Will God, in
the end, be found to be a reality?

I do not know whether I shall ever know.  If it is true, on the
one hand, that I have today no more reason for affirming the
reality of man, an illogical and contradictory being, than the
reality of God, an inconceivable and unmanifested being, I know
at least, from the radical opposition of these two natures, that
I have nothing to hope or to fear from the mysterious author whom
my consciousness involuntarily supposes; I know that my most
authentic tendencies separate me daily from the contemplation of
this idea; that practical atheism must be henceforth the law of
my heart and my reason; that from observable necessity I must
continually learn the rule of my conduct; that any mystical
commandment, any divine right, which should be proposed to me,
must be rejected and combatted by me; that a return to God
through religion, idleness, ignorance, or submission, is an
outrage upon myself; and that if I must sometime be reconciled
with God, this reconciliation, impossible as long as I live and
in which I should have everything to gain and nothing to lose,
can be accomplished only by my destruction.

Let us then conclude, and inscribe upon the column which must
serve as a landmark in our later researches:

The legislator DISTRUSTS man, an abridgment of nature and a
syncretism of all beings.  He DOES NOT RELY on Providence, an
inadmissible faculty in the infinite mind.

But, attentive to the succession of phenomena, submissive to the
lessons of destiny, he seeks in necessity the law of humanity,
the perpetual prophecy of his future.

He remembers also, sometimes, that, if the sentiment of Divinity
is growing weaker among men; if inspiration from above is
gradually withdrawing to give place to the deductions of
experience; if there is a more and more flagrant separation of
man and God; if this progress, the form and condition of our
life, escapes the perceptions of an infinite and consequently
non-historic intelligence; if, to say it all, appeal to
Providence on the part of a government is at once a cowardly
hypocrisy and a threat against liberty,--nevertheless the
universal consent of the peoples, manifested by the establishment
of so many different faiths, and the forever insoluble
contradiction which strikes humanity in its ideas, its
manifestations, and its tendencies indicate a secret relation of
our soul, and through it of entire nature, with the infinite,--a
relation the determination of which would express at the same
time the meaning of the universe and the reason of our existence.


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