Letter to the Associations on the Organization of Credit
Revolutions cannot produce the well-being toward which the suffering classes aspire, they almost always serve as stepping stones for a few ambitious types to come to power.
And when they are achieved, they continue the habits of the past. They find no other means to combat poverty, when the sufferers grow weary and irritated, than the compression which provokes resistance and prepare new battles.
And when the sufferers resign themselves, alms, which adds moral degradation to poverty, and which is an outrage to human dignity.
It is because the rights of the disinherited are misunderstood that revolutions are providentially necessary; and, in that case, the justice of the people is the justice of God.
And it is the disagreement on the choice of means to combat poverty and constitute well-being which has caused reactions up to the present.
But social science had come to bring the light.
Socialism is the synthesis of all the social truths taught by the reformers.
The various schools differ in the means of organization, but, deep down, they all have the same basis: SOLIDARITY;
The same principal means: ORGANIZATION OF LABOR;
The same goal: WELL-BEING FOR ALL.
They differ on the degree of solidarity;
On the mode of organization;
On the nature and enlargement of well-being that suits the human being.
These differences manifest the wisdom of the ways of Providence, which intended that the teaching of social verities should simultaneously penetrate the various classes of society, in the forms most in harmony with their various needs and aspirations.
And the discussions that rise from these differences must cast light on the great questions of social economy.
But practice alone can give a certain solution to these grand questions, rectify the errors of theory, and demonstrate the truth by the facts.
The suppression of our liberties and the blindness of power, not permitting the various schools to procure the means of putting into practice their systems of organization, which can be put to work in a coordinated manner, and on a vast enough scale, only with considerable capital and a great freedom of action.
The discussion continues, becomes complicated, and sometimes embittered from the difficulties of the present situation, and minds remind divided.
It is important then for the laborers, left to suffer and wait, to enter the path of practice by a simple and easy means, which springs, it is true, from social science, but which does not prejudice in anything social and political questions. Already the association of tailors in Clichy has employed the bills of credit. It is necessary only to give it a greater circulation, to centralize operations, and to organize the manner of establishing the exchange of products between a great number of workers in various professions.
The bill of credit is in reality only an effect of commerce, a simple quittance or receipt, having by itself no numeric value; its guarantee is in labor, it represents some labor and facilitates the exchange of products; it is a means of organizing mutual credit, it is a purely industrial fact, which is not prohibited by any law, and to which one cannot legally put any obstacle, without undermining commercial and industrial transactions.
The organization of mutual credit is a practical fact, industrial and commercial; but that fact is accomplished with a social aim, which is to acquire by labor, progressively and peacefully, the instruments of labor, necessary to the worker in order to exercise their professions, without being subjected to patronage and exploitation,
That aim is a social aim. We neither can nor wish to deny it, it is in accord with the aim of the members of all the associations which are really fraternal, and founded in order to free the workers from exploitation and patronage.
This aim is in agreement with the needs of the situation, and with the political and social opinions of all the democratic socialists, whatever the nuance of those opinions.
What is the basis of the question for political men? (I do not speak of the intriguers and the ambitious.) Why are they justly irritated when one limits all our liberties. It is because they demand for themselves and their children the right to live by laboring, and because they want to preserve the means of reaching that aim. What do the socialists of all schools demand? What is the aim of what our adversaries call the socialist utopias? It is to insure for all the means of true liberty, the complete development and free exercise of all human faculties by the organization of labor, which is to say by an equitable division of labor, instruments and products of labor.
And all the socialist democrats, by participating in the organization of mutual credit, will accomplish a work of peaceful liberation and conciliation, without ceasing to watch over the maintenance of the Republic, and without neglecting the interests of a greater and more complete realization. They will only rally around a practical means, in order to immediately improve the situation of the laborers and prepare the way for the organization of labor.
The organization of mutual credit is a work of conciliation, it is to enter the path of peaceful progress.
It is the means of demonstrating, by the facts, that the socialist workers want to acquire the instruments of labor only by labor, honestly, progressively and peacefully, and the organization of mutual credit is a work of liberation.
By gradually substituting the loan in cash with the loan in labor and products of labor, by the circulation of bills of credit, that loan, far from being onerous, facilitates the enlargement of consumption and production, and the direct exchange of products, and it eliminates the interest which, at only 5 percent, becomes, at the end of twenty years, a veritable spoliation.
And, by gradually substituting remuneration in cash with payment in labor and products of labor, by the progressive extension of the circulation of bills of credit, which would become then a true labor-note, employed only to facilitate exchange, the instrument of exploitation will be paralyzed in the hands of the speculators. Labor being exchanged only against labor and the instruments of labor, the speculators, in whose hands the possession of cash has accumulated the instruments of labor, would exchange those instruments against the labor-notes for their consumer needs.
The possession of the instruments of labor, by freeing the workers from exploitation, will facilitate the organization of labor, that is, an equitable division of labor, of the instruments of labor, and of the products of labor, and will produce well-being for all.
The resources of the Credit Bureau increasing with the number of the subscribers to the mutual credit, it will be easy to extend the advantages of credit to the workers who cannot associate in order to labor in common, either because of the genre of their work, or from a preference for isolation, but who will not hesitate to subscribe to the direct exchange of products, and to the mutual loan that will connect them to the association, and free them from exploitation. It will become possible to make the necessary advances, and to give professional instruction to those who, by a fateful effect of social improvidence, have not learned a profession, and are constrained to servitude or exposed to the temptations of poverty and despair: they will be released.
And it will also be possible to free, from their entry into life, the child of the worker who is born a slave to poverty and deprived of their part of the common inheritance.
Francois I, claiming his part of the possession of Canada, said: “I would really like to the article of Adam’s will that excludes me from the division.”
But the child of the poor man could ask more justly which article of Adam’s testament excludes them from their part and their right in the possession of the earth, that instrument of labor that God has given to all the generations, past, present and future, that common heritage the is of divine right, inalienable and indivisible.
The earth belongs to all in common, like the sun (but happily, God has mot put the sun in the hands of the speculators.)
The child who enters into life has not asked to be born, and often even its parents have not desire it. It is one more laborer sent by Providence to come to the aid of its brothers and sisters.
But in order for it to accomplish its mission, it has a right to the complete development of all its faculties. It should receive the complete education and professional instruction, according to his vocation and aptitudes, and the instruments of labor that are necessary to him.
Then he will be really indebted to society.
But with the present mode of remuneration of labor, let that remuneration be egalitarian or proportional, the father or the mother of the family having to provide for the needs of their children and sometimes of their parents, not however gaining more and sometimes gaining less than a bachelor, and are obliged to impose on themselves the harshest privations in order to provide for the needs of several with the labor of one or two persons.
Thus, a numerous family is for the worker a source of poverty and suffering, even in the heart of the association.
It is still insolidarity, the each by himself, each for himself, that produces all the sufferings of society.
Association, based on solidarity, should adopt all the children who, bearing equally, by being born, the right to live a complete life, physical, intellectual and moral; it should take care of the sick and infirm, because society is responsible for the health of its members; the majority of maladies and infirmities have for their cause the privations and the excess that result from a poor organization.
And it should surround with respect and recognition the old age of those crippled by labor and insure for them an honorable and sweet rest.
It should free from the yoke of poverty and the humiliations of charity those who have contributed to its prosperity, and who have acquired, by labor, the right to repose.
And when the resources of the bureau of credit allow the advance of the necessities to the children of the laborers subscribed, in order to acquire the complete development of their faculties and the instruments of labor necessary to exercise them freely, it is a debt that they have contracted and of which they will acquit themselves towards the invalid laborers.
And all the children of the subscribers to the mutual credit having the right to credit, the speculators by coming to exchange the instruments of labor against their consumer needs could insure the future of their infants, often compromised by speculations so dire for the laborers and sometimes for themselves.
And all will be freed or protected from the yoke of poverty and from the exploitation which produces it.
And when the workers in the countryside have understood the solidarity which should unite the laborers of all the professions, by subscribing to the mutual credit, they will free their children from all of the miseries with which they are burdened.
The bill of exchange has contributed to the liberation of the communes from despotism, from nobiliary feudalism.
The bill of credit will free the laborers from despotism, from financial feudalism.
The organization of mutual credit, the gradual elimination of cash, of the instrument of exploitation and corruption, is the honest and peaceful struggle against the principles of domination and exploitation.
It is the liberation of labor by labor.
It is the means of putting an end to violent struggles and of entering into the practice of a new faith, of the social religion, a religion of love and liberty which wants well-being for all,
Which has for dogma: SOLIDARITY;
For worship: LABOR;
For morality: THE LOVE OF HUMANITY.