Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Proudhon's "Catechism of Marriage"

I've posted a working translation of Proudhon's "Catechism of Marriage," from the fourth volume of Justice in the Revolution and in the Church. It's strange stuff, and unappealing in a variety of ways, but I think it is relatively clear what Proudhon is up to—and where he goes wrong.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Frédéric Tufferd, "Unity in Socialism" (1887)

It's always fun to be able to add a new name to the list of historical mutualists, and particularly so when the new name comes with articulate writings. Frédéric Tufferd (or Teufferd) is one of those names I have encountered in the lists of French political exiles in the U. S., and as one of the editors of the Bulletin de l’Union républicaine de langue française and Le Socialiste (organs of the French internationalists in the the U. S.), and an associate of Claude Pelletier, Jules Leroux, etc. I hadn't had a chance to read any of his work until recently, when I stumbled on "Unity in Socialism" by accident in an 1887 volume of La Société Nouvelle. I think the essay is a very clear and useful example of one strand of proudhonian thought. Central to the argument is a distinction between wages, remuneration of labor, and what Tufferd calls, in French, "aubaines." An aubaine is quite literally a "windfall," and it is the word which Benjamin R. Tucker rendered as "increase" in his translations of Proudhon. So the "right of increase" which Proudhon opposed is a "right to windfall profits," but the three forms of aubaine identified by Tufferd—land-rent, interest, and profit—are also recognizable as the three forms of "usury" commonly identified in other mutualist writings. I have left aubaine untranslated in this working translation, in part because I think we need to clarify exactly what is at stake, and what we oppose, in the notion of a "right of increase," beyond commonplaces about what we do and do not "believe in" when it comes to economic practices. I have also left the French term rente untranslated. Tufferd is referring to economic rent, and proposing a fairly straightforward "single tax," but rente essentially refers to the same sort of "windfall," arising this time from nature rather than property.

When I first read the essay, I was particularly interested in the distinction which Tufferd makes between abolishing government—the "principle of authority"—and abolishing the state, which he sees as "the organized collectivity." He appeals to Proudhon in this assertion, and contrasts his position with that of Bakunin. Certainly, this argument is perfectly consistent with Proudhon's general theory. As for the disagreement with Bakunin, it's one more thing to add to my list of topics for close reading as the Bakunin Library project progresses.


We begin to talk of union, to understand that the ridiculous disputes which have divided the socialists thus far, to the great joy of the bourgeois, should come to an end, if we want socialism to become something more than a powerless dream. But how will we bring about union among the different socialist schools? Obviously, by establishing socialism on a demonstrable basis, and no longer on a few unproven principles, about which we can dispute endlessly without ever agreeing. Ask the astronomers if the earth is round and if it orbits around the sun, and all will be in agreement; ask them if there are inhabitants in the moon, and their opinions will be divided. In the first case, the astronomers know; in the second, they can only rely on analogies of which nothing proves the reality.
If I say that a man who lets himself fall from the sixth floor will be killed when he hits the pavement, everyone, materialists or spiritualists, atheists or deists, anarchists or collectivists, will agree with me, for they all recognize that this is a necessary consequence of the law of gravity. But if I add that this man, after his death, will begin again a new existence here or elsewhere, some will say yes, others no, and those who have the largest dose of good sense will say to me: You know nothing of it, any more than I do.
When I say that as long as there are men who, without producing, take the lion’s share for themselves, the workers will be reduced to the bare minimum, I do not have to debate about God and the state, socialism or anarchy; it is enough to prove that all wealth comes from labor, and that the sum of social wealth equals that of labor accomplished; because any deduction which is not represented by any labor diminishes proportionally the portion of the laborer.
If we only mean by the word “God” the angry, vengeful and jealous Jehovah of Moses, heaven’s despot, symbol and support of the despots of the earth, every sensible man needs no reasoning to be convinced that such a God is impossible. But the word “God” also means the directing force of the universe, the principle of movement and life. What is this principle? We know nothing about it; it is the great unknown, and that is all. Will we then take the unknown for the basis of socialism?
I do not know what God is, and consequently neither affirm nor deny its existence. Nor do I known what is matter and what is spirit. Is matter a reality or a simple illusion of the senses? I don’t know. Bakunin thought of matter, not as inert, but as endowed with movement and life; but where is the proof of that assertion? All that I know is that there are in nature some sensible manifestations produced by forces that the senses cannot perceive, but that the intelligence conceives. What are these forces, and where do they come from? What is movement, and what is life? I do not know. Thus I can be neither materialist, nor spiritualist, nor atheist, nor deist. On these questions I doubt and I seek; and if I express an opinion, I am careful not to make it the basis of social reform. It is long since Proudhon said: “We know nothing of substances and causes; we only know relations.”
But if our science of substances and causes is null and void, there is one thing that we know: it is that the laws of nature are immutable. An astronomer can predict the eclipses which will take place in the future and calculate those that have taken place in the past. The magnet attracts, and will always attract, iron. Hydrogen will always combine with oxygen to form water. On the laws of nature that we know, our science is complete, absolute. For every phenomenon of which we understand the laws, we can infer the past and predict the future; and when we know the economic laws of society, we can calculate the social phenomena with the same certainty as the astronomer who calculates the course of the stars. Thus, let us study the economic laws which direct social evolution, if we want to put an end to disputes and divergences of opinion. Do we see the astronomers argue about the movement of the planets or chemists argue about the formation of salts. Would we dream of putting the theorems of geometry or the proportions of the logarithms in doubt? Let us cease then taking the unknown for our basis, and start from the facts to discover the laws, and from the laws determine the future organization of society.
The most incredible confusion is that between the government and the State. I am an anarchist, as Proudhon was, for like him I want to abolish government, the principle of authority in the State, in order to replace it by an responsible and controllable administration of the public interests; but I do not want, with Bakunin, to abolish the State. The word State comes from stare, to hold, to persist; the State is thus the organized collectivity. Just as the commune is the local collectivity, the State is the national collectivity which has lasted, lasts, and will last as long as the nation itself. Even if society ever succeeds in realizing the ideal of the universal Republic, that Republic will still be composed of distinct States, in solidarity with one another, but each living its own life.
As long as the socialists quarrel over God, nature and the State, there will be no more harmony among them that there could be between the zealot who believes in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the free-thinker who denies it. The astronomer, the physicist, and the chemist do not have to quarrel about God and matter; they only concern themselves with determining the laws of the phenomena that they study. It is time that the socialists imitate them and concern themselves with determining the laws of social phenomena.
I do not propose to determine these laws here; that would be impossible in a journal article. May aim is less to answer the questions than to indicate the way. Thus I will content myself with sketching the social problem from the point of view of wages and aubaine.
All wealth comes from labor. Natural goods are useful only after labor has collected, modified, and prepared them. Even wild fruits rot on the vine without any utility, if labor does not gather them. To labor is to modify the natural materials in order to render them proper for the satisfaction of our needs. Labor creates nothing, it only accomplishes a change of form (art), or a change of place (transportation), or a distribution (commerce). The one who measures fabric works as much as those who transport or make it; for the production does not stop when the product is finished, it is only finished when it is delivered to the consumer. Doubtless commerce hardly knows how to do anything today but defraud and deceive; but it is not for that any less a necessary part of social labor. We do more work with a harvesting machine with a sickle, but when we do not have the machine, we must use the sickle. Similarly, as long as we have not reorganized commerce, we must make it serve us such as it is.
If all wealth comes from labor, there can only be two means of living: either at the expense of one’s own labor, by wages; or at the expense of the labor of others, by aubaine.
I designate as wages every remuneration for a useful labor delivered in the marketplace, however it is collected. To receive a wage, it is not necessary for the worker to have a boss. Those who work on their own behalf receive their wages by selling their products; and the merchants receive their own by a profit on sales. I do not have to concern myself here with badly distributed wages; I have only to indicate the fact that everyone who delivers a useful labor in the marketplace has a right to a wage which allows them to take from the market an equivalent labor of their choice.
I designate as aubaine every collection of income which takes some value from the market without replacing it by a useful labor of equal value; for then it can only be made on the labor of others.
There are three sorts of aubaines: rent, interest, and profit. The rent is made up of the income (rente) from the soil and the interest from buildings and other immovable properties.
The more fertile a plot of land is, the higher the rente from it is. It is, however, not the labor of the proprietor which has created the fertility of the soil.
The better situated a plot of land is, the higher the rente from it is. The high rents in Paris do not come from the price of the houses, for a house costs no more to build in Paris than in Pontoise; they come from the location. It is their situation which makes is so that for each square meter of land, one can do more business and employ more labor than one could on as many acres in the country. It is not, however, the labor of the proprietor which has made the roads, canals, railways and towns.
Thus, the income is only an aubaine, and in the majority of cases the rent of immovable property is nothing else. It costs to construct, repair, and maintain a house; thus it is fair to pay a rent sufficient to reimburse these costs; but to whom? To the proprietor? Are there many proprietors who have themselves built the houses that they rent to us, or who have paid for the construction by their own labor? Isn’t it almost always money from the aubaines which has paid for the building? Each has a right to demand payment for all the increase in values that they labor has added to the soil; but no one has the right to appropriate the labor of others.
If the rente does not belong to the proprietor, does it belong to the tenant or leaseholder? No, for it is not the fruit of the labor of either. And yet, whatever social order we suppose, the rente will exist, for there will always be parcels of land which, with equal labor, will yield more than others.
To whom, then, does the rente belong? To society, obviously, for the advantages of fertility come from the free gifts of nature, and those of situation result from social development. Let the rente ceased to be paid to the proprietor, and be paid to the state, in the place of taxes, and justice will be realized. Conditions will be equal, for each will pay in proportion to the advantages of the land that they occupy, and the rente will profit everyone, since it will remunerate all the works of public utility. As for the rent of immovable property, it will be reduced to the rate necessary to pour reimburse costs, plus an insurance premium in anticipation of accidents. When each pays rent only to the commune and the state, a fifth of the present rents will amply suffice for all public expenses.
Interest, whether it is taken as interest on loans, dividends on stocks or government bonds, is only an aubaine. How will we make it disappear? Obviously, by replacing private credit, which is expensive, by public credit, which will be free. Instead of granting the Bank of France to a company which will pocket the profits, we could make it a national bank which discounts and credits without interest, with its notes, on good security. Then its notes will no longer be a promise of reimbursement on gold on demand, guaranteed by bullion; they would be bills or exchange guaranteed by public fortune.
As for profit, to abolish it, it would be necessary to make industry and commerce no longer individual speculations, but social agencies for production and distribution. When the bank credits its interests, it could credit the workers organizations in order to open workshops and stores, on the condition that they produce and sell at cost-price, without profits other than those necessary to cover wages, general costs and insurance premiums. It is claimed that only individual are prosperous, — the monopolies of the companies are certainly not the proof of it, — but if they can do better than the workers’ organizations, they will persist; if they cannot, they will become bankrupt, and industry will gradually pass into the hands of the workers.
But if we can leave time and competition to reorganize commerce and industry on social bases, this is not the case with the large monopolies, which it is urgent to make disappear as soon as possible. There is no doubt that the post carries our letters more cheaply than it would if it was the monopoly of one company, and for good reason that the state does not seek to make a fortune and has no dividends to pay to anyone. Now that the telegraphs belong to the state in England, telegrams cost much less, and for the same reason. Let us give notice to all the stockholders, and it will be the same with the other monopolies.
This is social reform sketched in broad strokes and deduced, no longer from vague and indeterminate notions, but from social phenomena that everyone can easily verify. Let the socialists go down this road, and they will soon cease to argue.
Another cause of disputes is the means of action. But they depend on times, places, and circumstances, and what is impossible today may perhaps be possible tomorrow. It is not up to us whether the revolution is accomplished violently or peacefully; that will depend on events that we can neither predict nor control, and on the will of our legislators and rulers. Let those legislators and ruler consent to the most urgent reforms and we will bear with the rest. The people do not revolt for the pleasure of smashing streetlights; when the rebel it is because their condition has become intolerable and because they feel the need of escaping it at any price. It is up to our masters to decide if the revolution will be violent or peaceful; as for us socialists, let us first study which reforms will resolve the problem of misery and bring about liberty, equality, solidarity, and justice for all. The circumstances will suggest the means of action. If some socialists want to employ means that we think must fail, we are free to not assist them; but must we impede them, and thus do ourselves the work of the masters?
The aubaine is the cause of poverty, and yet our rulers constantly strive to increase the aubaines. Companies issue more shares than they have real capital; governments contract new loans each year, always swelling in this way the ranks of the parasitic army of state-rentiers; government positions and sinecures are multiplied everywhere; the leprosy of parasitism invades everything, and as a necessary, inevitable result, poverty becomes misery, and misery become famine. The terrible cry of 1789—For bread! For bread!—still resounds on all sides. Perhaps there is still time to avoid the cataclysm, but we must make haste! It is no longer only bankruptcy, hideous bankruptcy which threatens us, it is famine and despair.
To decrease the aubaines will be to increase wages by that much; to suppress them would be to render wages equal to product, while leaving to the state a vast revenue, the rente. Every reform which diminishes the aubaines is useful. War to the aubaines!
Frédéric Tufferd.

Source: La Société Nouvelle, 3rd year, v. 2 (1887) 223-228.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur; revised February 26, 2013.]

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Black and Red Feminist History

I've set up a separate blog to archive the Black and Red Feminist History project, and have begun to gather a mix of familiar and new material, including a working translation of Paule Mink's 1891 essay on "The Right of Abortion."

I hope to have the third issue of the Black and Red Feminism zine available for the August shows, and it is tentatively a themed issue, focusing on "utopian socialism," with contributions from the Saint-Simonian, Icarian and Fourierist movements.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Proudhon, The Theory of Property — Chapter III (part 1 of 2)

[Here is a particular rough working translation of a particularly interesting section of The Theory of Property. Because it never underwent the careful final editing that Proudhon gave his published works, the text poses a few extra problems for the translator. I think the handful of places where a little more work will be needed to clarify things will be fairly obvious to most readers.]



Different ways of possessing the land: in community, under the feudal system, sovereignty or property. — Examination of the first two modes: rebuttal.

The earth can be possessed in three different ways: in community, under the feudal system, and as property. These modes, by combining, give place to a great variety of applications: we will limit ourselves to recounting their general characters.

I. — Community is not unjust in itself. Its principle is that of the family itself, the principle of fraternity. It is the spirit of the patriarchy, of the tribe, of the clan, of all these elementary groups born from the soil that they cultivate, and of which the vastest States are only developments. The primitive Christian church made community almost a dogma, obeying the ideas of Plato, of Pythagoras, renewed from Lycurgus and Minos, and then in favor. Soon, however, the lay world escaped it: the communist regime no longer exists today except in the convents and among the Moravians. Formerly, in France, community was rather commonly used in certain provinces, as a mode of agricultural exploitation: the Civil Code civil has sanctioned it under the name of universal societies of goods and gains, and has outlined its rules. It is on the principle of that society that Cabet attempted, in Texas, to realize his Icarian utopia. It is presently very rare: I do not know if we could cite even a single example.
The undivided possession and exploitation of the soil, is rational, just, fruitful, necessary even, as long as the exploitante society does not exceed the limits of a close kinship, — mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, children, step-sons and step-daughters, domestics, uncles and aunts; — it is as solid as the family itself. At the same time that it constitutes a community for all the members of the family, it can be, and nearly always is, with regard to strangers, either a property, or a fief. This double character, joined to the exploitation by the family, is what give the institution the greatest morality and the greatest strength. An effect of opposites, that the social genius is pleased to unite, while the individualist reason most often only knows how to put them in discord! But as soon as the families multiply within the primitive community, disagreement is introduced, the zeal for community, par suite le travail relaxes; the universal society of goods and gains changes into a society of goods alone, and tends to approach from day to day a society for commerce, from a society of mutual insurance or benevolence, to simple participation; the community fades away.
This phenomenon of inevitable degradation, which has been observed in all eras and in all the countries where community was instituted, puts us on the path of disadvantages, abuses and vices peculiar to this system.
Man, by virtue of his personality, tends to independence: is it a bad inclination on his part that he must fight, a perversion of liberty, an exorbitance of selfishness, which puts the social order in danger, and which the legislator much repress at any cost? Many have thought so, and one could not doubt that such was at base the true Christian doctrine. The spirit of subordination, obedience and humility can be called a theological virtue, as much as charity and faith. In this system, which, in one form or another, is still that which still gathers the greatest number of votes, Authority is imposed as law. Its ideal, in the political order, is absolute power; in the economic order, community. Before the power, the individual is zero; in the community, he can possess nothing of his own: everything belongs to everyone, nothing belongs to anyone. The subject belongs to the State, to the community, before being of the family, before belonging to himself. Such is the principle, or rather such is the dogma.
Now, note this: man being supposed resistant to obedience, as he is indeed, it results from this that the power, that the community which absorbs him does not subsist by itself; it needs, in order to make itself accepted, reasons or motives which act on the will of the subject and which determine it. In the child, for example, it will be the love of the parents, the trust, tractability and lack of competence of youth, and family sentiment; later, in the adult, this will be the motive of religion, the hope of rewards or the fear of punishments.
But filial deference weakens with age. The day when the young man thinks to form former in his turn a new family, that deference disappears. Among all peoples, marriage is synonymous with emancipation; the parents themselves invite their children to it. In he citizen, lay or faithful, religion also weakens, or at least it thinks to itself. Every religion have its leaven of Protestantism, by virtue of his the most pious man rises sooner or later and says, in the most honest tone and with the most complete good faith: I have the spirit of God in me; the worshiper in spirit and in truth has no need of priest, or temple, or sacraments... As for considerations drawn from force or from wages, they always imply that the authority that they employ is an authority without principle, and that the community does not exist.
Thus, let one think what they want of human rebellion; let one make it a vice of nature or a suggestion of the devil, it always remains that against that serious affection of our humanity there is no remedy; that authority and community cannot give proof of their rights; that they occur only for particular circumstances, and with a reinforcement of conditions which, on ceasing, render authority illegitimate and community null and void.
In short, the only legitimate authority is that which is freely submitted to, as there is no useful and just community except that to which the individual gives its consent. This asserted, we have only one thing left to do: it is to seek the causes for which the individual can withdraw its consent from the community.
Man is endowed with intelligence; he has, in addition, a conscience, which makes him discern good from evil; finally, he possesses free will. These three faculties of the human spirit, intelligence, conscience, and liberty, are not vices, distortions caused in our soul by the spirit of evil: on the contrary, it is because of them that, according to religion, we resemble God; and it is to them that community or public authority appeal, when it gives us its decrees, distributes its justice and its punishments. The responsibility that the law imposes on us is the corollary of our free will.
If it is thus, the community cannot do otherwise than to leave to the individual that it makes responsible a liberty of action equal to its responsibility; the contrary would involve tyranny and contradiction. The community even has an interest in that liberty which dispenses with a costly surveillance, and is not a mediocre means of raising the moral standards of individual, who becomes at once more valiant and more worthy. Thus here is communism undermined, obliged to abdicate itself, in the presence of individual initiative, even in the smallest matter. But individuality becomes more demanding as the individual is endowed with more reason and moral sense: where would the concessions stop? That is the stumbling block for authority and communism. Well! I respond that liberty is undefined, that it must go as far as the intelligence, the dignity and the strength of action which is in it entail. Ensuring that pubic authority and common interest should appear only where liberty ends, where the action, genius, and virtue of the citizen becomes insufficient.
The same reasoning applies to the family, to the distribution of services, to the separation of industries and the allocation des products. Every family, every new household is a little community, in the midst of the large community, which disappears more and more to give place to the law of the mine and thine; every distinction of industry, every division of labor, every idea of value and wage is a breach of the common domain. Depart from that, try to combat that tendency, to suppress that evolution: you will fall into promiscuity, fraud, disorganization, envy and robbery.
The same reasoning applies with regard to the relations between the citizen and the State. It is precisely because the individual is free, intelligent, industrious, attached to a special profession, because he has a domicile, a wife, des children, he demands not only to be freed from the communist verges, but he considers the entire community from a particular side; he discovers in the [reigning] power defects, gaps, and parasitic branches which do not appear to others; he has an opinion, finally, of which, for good or ill, the government must take account.
Open the door to this torrent of opinions: now you are emporté in the system of States to separate powers. On the contrary, try to curb the universal and you return to tyranny; take the middle ground and make of politics some balance or happy medium, now you are in the most immoral and cowardly of Machiavellianisms, doctrinaire hypocrisy. Here then, as before, with regard to liberty and the family, you have no choice; in it necessary, and it is inevitable, to crush liberty in the barracks, to make opinion die under the threat of bayonets, or to retreat before liberty, reserving public authority only for the things that the suffrage of the citizen cannot resolve or deign to hear.
From the preceding, it follows that the earth cannot be possessed or exploited, and, by analogy, no industry [can] be practiced in common, and that, like the sons of Noah after the flood, we are condemned to division. By what title would we possess now? That is what we will examine below.
The idea of applying the universal society of goods and gains to the exploitation of the land, and to introduce it into large populations, is not primitive; it is not a natural suggestion, since we see, from the beginning, in the embryonic valley, the family multiplies its tents of fires, in proportion to the formation of couples; the State develops in hamlets, villages and cantons, each having its separate administration, and constitutes itself bit by bit according to the principle of individual liberty, the suffrage of the citizens, the independence of groups and the distinction of cultures. Community, as an institution or form given by nature, is at its highest point of concentration in the family; beyond that, it breaks its frame and soon no longer exists except as the relations of proximity, similarities of language, worship, customs or laws, at the most as mutual insurance; which, involving the idea of a covenant, is the very negation of communism. It is only subsequently, when aristocratic insolence and the harshness of their servitude has provoked a reaction from the people, that community presents itself as a disciplinary means and state system: it is enough to cite the examples of Lycurgus, Pythagoras, Plato and the first Christians. But experience has soon done justice to the hypothesis: everywhere and always liberty has risen up against communism, which has never been able to establish itself except on a small scale, and as an exception among the masses. The largest community that has ever existed, that of Sparta, was founded on slavery and war; as long as the Christians only formed a sect lost in the immensity of the empire, their communities, sustained by the zeal for the new dogma, appeared flourishing; still they had no object but prayer, charity and meals/the repast. Those who wanted to mix love with it soon fell under their own infamy. The day when Christianity declared itself the universal religion, it abandoned its communism, which the agitations of the Middle Ages could not revive. The Moravians are sociétaires rather than communists. (See, for the critique of Community, The System of Economic Contradictions, V. II, chap. 12.)

[to be concluded in part 2]

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Friday, June 15, 2012

Joseph Déjacque, The Humanisphere — I

[I posted some of this about a year and a half ago, but set it down again, not feeling comfortable enough with some of the contexts to be sure I was getting the details right. With the work that I've been doing recently translating Charles Fourier, Pierre Leroux, and some other works by Joseph Déjacque, I'm feeling much more certain that I'm catching nuances, so I'm going to start posting sections again, beginning with a considerably enlarged first helping.]

The Humanisphere

Anarchic Utopia

Utopia: "A dream not realized, but not unrealizable."

Anarchy: "Absence of government."

Revolutions are conservations.
(P. J. Proudhon)

The only true revolutions are the revolutions of ideas.

Let us make customs, and no longer make laws.
(Emile de Girardin)
So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty…. Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
(Saint Paul the Apostle)

What is this Book!

This book is not a literary work, it is an infernal labor, the cry of a rebel slave.
Being, like the cabin boy of the Salamander, unable, in my individual weakness, to strike down all those who, on the ship of the legal order, dominate and mistreat me, when my day is done at the workshop, when my watch is finished on the bridge, I descend by night to the bottom of the hold, I take possession of my solitary corner and, there, with teeth and claws, like a rat in the shadows, I scratch and gnaw at the worm-eaten walls of the old society. By day, as well, I use my hours of unemployment, I arm myself with a pen like a borer, I dip it in bile for grease, and, little by little, I open a way, each day larger, to the flood of the new; I relentless perforate the hull of Civilization. I, a puny proletarian, on whom the crew, the horde of exploiters, daily inflict the torment of the aggravated misery of the brutalities of exile or prison, I open up the abyss beneath the feet of my murderers, and I spread the balm of vengeance on my always-bloody scars. I have my eye on my Masters. I know that each day brings me closer to the goal; that a formidable cry—the sinister every man for himself!—will soon resound at the height of their joyous intoxication. A bilge-rat, I prepare their shipwreck; that shipwreck alone can put an end to my troubles and to those of my fellows. Come the revolution, will not the suffering have, for biscuit, ideas in reserve, and, for life-line, socialism!
This book is not written in ink; its pages are not paper sheets.
This book is steel, turned in octavo, and charged with fulminate of ideas. It is an authoricidal projectile that I cast in a thousand copies on the cobblestones of the civilizées. May its shards fly far and mortally pierce the ranks of the prejudiced. May it split the old society down to its foundations.
Privileged ones!—for those who have sown slavery, the hour has come to reap rebellion. There is not a worker who, in the hidden reaches of his brain, does not clandestinely fashion some thoughts of destruction. You, you have the bayonet and the penal code, the catechism and the guillotine; we have the barricade and utopia, sarcasm and the bomb. You, you are pressure; we are the mine: one spark can blow you up!
Know that today, in their iron shackles, beneath their superficial torpor, the multitudes are composed of grains of powder; the fibers of the thinkers are its caps. Also, is it not without danger that one crushes liberty in the face of the somber multitudes. Rash reactionaries!—God is God, you say. Yes, but Satan is Satan!... The elect of the golden calf are few, and hell is full of the damned. Aristocrats, it is not necessary to play with fire, the fire of hell, understand!...
This book is not a document, it is an act. It has not been traced by the gloved hand of a fantasist; it is filled with heart and logic, with blood and fever. It is a cry of insurrection, a strike of the tocsin rung with the hammer of the idea in the hearing of the popular passions. It is moreover a chant of victory, a triumphant salvo, the proclamation of individual sovereignty, the advent of universal liberty; it is full and complete amnesty for the authoritarian sorrows of the past by anarchic decree of the humanitarian future.
This is a book of hatred, a book of love!....


“Know yourself.”

Social science proceeds by inductions and deductions, by analogy. It is by a series of comparisons that it arrives at the combination of truth.
Thus, I will proceed by analogy.
I will try to be brief. The large volumes are not those that are most read. In preference to long dissertations, to classical pedagogies, I will employ the colorful phrase, it has the advantage of being able to say a lot in a few words.
I am far from being infused with science. I have read a bit, observed more, and meditated a great deal. I am, I believe, despite my ignorance in one of the one of the most favorable places to sum up the needs of humanity. I have all the passions, although I cannot satisfy them, those of love and those of hate, the passion for extreme luxury and for extreme simplicity. I understand all appetites, those of the heart and of the belly, those of the flesh and of the mind. I have a taste for white bread, but also for black bread, for stormy discussions and also for sweet causeries. I know all the appetites, physical and moral; I have the intuition of all intoxications; all that which excites or calms has seductions for me: the café and poetry, champagne and art, wine and tobacco, milk and honey, spectacles, tumult and lights, shadow, solitude and pure water. I love work, hard labors; I also love leisure, soft idleness. I could live a little and find myself rich, consume enormously and find myself poor. I have looked through the keyhole at the intimate life of opulence, I know its hot houses and it sumptuous salons; and I also know from experience both cold and poverty. I have been overfull and I have been hungry. I have a thousand caprices and not one pleasure. I am likely to commit at times what the argot of the civilized blacken with the name of virtue, and more often still what they honor with the name of crime. I am the man most empty of prejudices and most full of passions that I know; proud enough to not be vain, and too proud to be hypocritically modest. I have only one face, but that face is as mobile as the face of the waves; at the least breath, it passes from one expression to another, from calm to storm and from anger to tenderness. That is why, as a multiple passionality, I hope to deal with human society with some chance of success, because treating it well depends as much on the knowledge that one has of one’s own passions, as on the knowledge that one has of the passions of others.
The world of anarchy is not of my invention, certainly, any more than it is the invention of Proudhon, nor of Pierre, nor of Jean. Each by himself invents nothing. Inventions are the result of collective observations; is the explanation of a phenomenon, a scratch made on the colossus of the unknown, but it is the work of all men and all generations of men linked together by an indissoluble solidarity. Now, if there is invention, I have the right at most to a patent of improvement. I would be rather poorly praised if some hoaxers wanted to apply to my face the title of the chief of a school. I know that one expounds ideas bringing together or straying more or less from known ideas. But what I do not understand is that there have been men who accept them slavishly, in order to make themselves the followers of the first comer, to model themselves on his way of seeing, to imitate him in the least details: and to put on, like a soldier or a lackey, his uniform or his livery. At least adjust them to your waistline; trim them or widen them, but do not wear them as-is, with sleeves too short or tails too long. Otherwise, it is not a sign of intelligence; it is hardly worthy of a man who feels and thinks, thus it’s ridiculous.
Authority aligns men under its flags by discipline, it shackles them by the code of military orthodoxy, passive obedience; its imperious  voice commands silence and immobility in the ranks, autocratic fixity. Liberty rallies men to its banner with the voice of free examination; it does not petrify them in the same line. Each lines up where he likes and moves as he pleases. Liberty does not regiment men beneth the plume of the head of a sect: it initiates them in the movement of ideas and inculcates in them the sentiment of active independence. Authority is unity in uniformity! Liberty is unity in diversity. The axis of authority, it is knout-archie [literally, government by whip]. Anarchy is the axis of liberty.
For me, it is much less a question of making disciples than of making men, and one is a man only on condition of being oneself. We incorporate the ideas of others and incarnate our ideas in others; we combine our thoughts, and nothing is better than that; but let us make of that mixture a conception henceforth our own. Let us be an original work and not a copy. The slave models himself on the master; he imitates. The free man only produces his own type; he creates.
My plan is to paint a picture of society as society appears to me in the future: individual liberty is moving anarchically in the social community and producing harmony.
I do not presume to impose my views on others. I do not descend from cloudy Sinai. I do not march escorted by lightning and thunder. I m not send by the autocrat of the whole universe to reveal his words to his so-humble subjects and publish the imperial ukase of his commandments. I inhabit the depths of society; I have drawn from them some revolutionary thoughts, and I pour them forth, rending the darkness. I am a seeker of truths, a herald of progress, a star-gazer for enlightenment. I sigh after happiness and I conjure up its ideal. If that ideal makes you smile, do as I do, and love it. If you find imperfections in it, correct them. If it displeases you, create another. I am not exclusive, and I will willingly abandon mine for your, if yours seems more perfect to me. However, I see only two great figures possible; one can modify its expression, that is not to change its traits: there is absolute liberty or absolute authority. As for me, I choose liberty. We have seen the works of authority, and its works condemn it. It is an old prostitute that has never learned anything but depravation and never engendered anything but death. Liberty still only makes herself known by her timid smile. She is a virgin that the embrace of humanity has still not made fertile; but, let man allow himself to be seduced by her charms, let him give her all his love, and she will soon give birth to generations worthy of the great name that she carries.
To weaken authority and criticize its acts is not enough. A negation, in order to be absolute, needs to complete itself with an affirmation. That is why I affirm liberty, why I deduce its consequences.
I address myself above all to the proletarians, and the proletarians are for the most part still more ignorant than me; also, before giving an account of the anarchic order, a portrait which will be for this book the last stroke of the author’s pen, it is necessary to outline the history of Humanity. I will follow then its march across the ages in the past and in the present and I will accompany it into the future.
In this sketch I have to recreate a subject touched with a master’s hand by a great artist in poetry. I don’t have his work at hand; and if I had it, I rarely reread a book, as I have neither the leisure nor courage for it. My memory is my only library, and my library is often quite disordered. If some reminiscences escape me, if I happen to draw from my memories, believing I drew it from my own thoughts, I declare at least that it will be without knowing or wishing to. I hold plagiarists in horror. However, I am also of the opinion of Alfred de Musset, I thus think what another has thought before me. I would desire one thing, it is that those who have not read the book of Eugène Pelletan, Le Monde Marche, will want to read the book before continuing the reading of mine. The work of this brilliant writer are a museum of the reign of humanity up through our times, magnificent pages that it is always good to know, and which will be an aid to more than one civilizee, leaning on his elbows before my work, not only to supply what it lacks, but also to aid in understanding its shadows and lights.
And now, reader, if you want to travel along with me, stock up on intelligence, and let’s go!

Geological Question.

"If one says to them (i.e., to the civilized) that our swirl of approximately two hundred comets and planets presents but the image of a bee occupying a single cell in the hive; that the other fixed stars, each one surrounded by such a swirl, represent other planets, and that the whole of this vast universe, in its turn, counts only as a single bee in a hive formed of approximately a hundred and thousand sidereal universes, the ensemble of which comprises a biniverse, that then comes the triniverse formed from several thousand biniverses, and so on; finally, that each one of these universes, biniverses, triniverses is a creature, having, like us, its own soul, its own phases of youth and old age, death and birth…….; they will not follow this theme to its end, they will cry out against the insanity, the outrageous daydream; and yet they pose in principle the universal analogy!”
(Ch. Fourier)

We know the physiognomy of the Earth, its external structure. The pencil, the brush and the pen have retraced the features. The canvases of the artists and the books of the poets have taken it in its cradle and have made us see it first enveloped in the swaddling clothes of the flood, all soft still and with the tint of the first days; then firming up and covering itself with a vegetative mane, animating its sites, improving itself as it advances in life.
We also know its internal structure, its physiology; we have made the anatomy of its entrails. Excavations have stripped its skeleton to which we have given the name of mineral; its arteries, where the water circulates, its intestines covered with a viscous flow of fire.
But who has occupied themselves with its psychological organism? Nobody. Where within it is the seat of its thought? Where is its brain located? We don’t know. And yet the globes, for being of a different nature than our own, are no less thinking and moving beings. Is that which we have taken for the surface of the earth really the surface? And by skinning it, by the scalping of the atmospheres that envelope it, don't we leave its flesh and fibers exposed, pierce the cerebellum clear to the spinal cord, and strip the skin from the bones?
Who knows if, for the terrestrial globe, which is also an animated being, of which the zoological study is so far from being completed, who knows if humanity is not its brain-matter? If the human atom is not the animalcule of thought, the molecule of planetary intelligence functioning under the vast cranium of its atmospheric rings? Do we know anything of the nature of its intimate senses? And would it be strange that all our social actions, a swarm of homuncular societies, were the ideas and dreams that people the face of the globe from one pole to the other?
I won’t claim a prima facie resolution of the question, or affirm or deny it absolutely. I have certainly not thought enough about the subject. I only pose the thing in interrogative form, in order to provoke research and a response. I very well may make that response myself. It does not appear to me without interest to consider the intellectual organization of the of the being within which we have been born, any more than it appears to me uninteresting to occupy myself with its bodily organism. For whoever wants to study the zoology of beings, animals or planets, psychology is inseparable from physiology.
This prologue ended, let us leave the world to turn on its axis and gravitate towards its sun, and let us occupy ourselves with the movement of humanity and its gravitation towards progress.

Utopie Anarchique

Movement of Humanity


‘‘A cretin! That is to say a poor, dejected being, timid and small; a matter that moves or a man that vegetates, a disgraced creature which is stuffed with aqueous vegetables, of black bread and flood waters; – a nature without industry, without ideas, without past, without future, without forces; – an unfortunate who does not recognize his fellows, who does not speak, who remains insensible to the world outside, who is born, grows and dies in the same place, miserable as the bitter lichen and the gnarled oaks.
Oh! to see the man squatting in the dust and the head tilted toward the ground, arms hanging, bent back, knees flexed, eyes bright or dull, the regard vague or frightening in its fixity, barely able to reach out his hand to passers-by – with sunken cheeks, with long fingers and long toes, hair standing on end like the fur of cats, a receding or drawn brow, a flat head and a monkey’s face.
How imperceptible our body is in the midst of the universe, if it is not magnified by our knowledge! How the first men were trembling in the face of flood waters and falling rock! As the great Alps dwarf the mountaineer of Valais! As he creeps slowly, from their feet to their heads, by barely passable paths! One might say that he is afraid of arousing subterranean furies. An earthworm, ignorant, slave, cretin, man would be all of that today if he had never revolted against force. And there he is, superb, giant, God, because he has dared all!
And man would still fight against the Revolution! The son would curse his mother, Moses, saved from the waters, would deny the noble daughter of the Pharaoh! That cannot be. To the God of heaven, to Fatality, the blind Lightning; to the God of the earth, to the free man, the Revolution which sees clear. Fire against fire, flash against flash, deluge against deluge, light against light. Heaven is not so high that we can not already see it; and man sooner or later attains what he desires!”
(Ernest Cœurderoy)

‘‘The world moves.’’
(E. Pelletan)

The world moves, as Pelletan says—a beautiful writer, but a bourgeois writer, a Girondin writer, a theocrat of the intelligence. Yes, the world moves forward, on and on. Initially, it started by crawling, face to the ground, on knees and elbows, rummaging with its snout an earth still soaked with the waters of the deluge, and it fed itself on peat. The vegetation made it smile, and it raised itself on its hands and feet, and it grazed with its muzzle on tufts of grass and the bark of trees. Crouching at the foot of the tree whose height solicited its regard, it dared to lift its head; then it raised its hands to the height of his shoulders, then finally it was standing on its own two feet, and, from this height, it dominated with the weight of its gaze all that which had dominated it the moment before. Then it, still so weak and naked, felt something like a thrill of pride. It had just learned the measure of its own body. The blood which, in the horizontal gait of the man, buzzed in its ears and deafened it, suffused its eyes and blinded it, flooded its brain and muffled it; this blood, finding its level, like the fluvial waters, the oceanid waters, after the flood, this blood flowed back in its natural arteries by the revolution from horizontality to human verticality, clearing his forehead from one temple to the other, and discovering, for the fertilization, the silt of all the intellectual seeds.
Until then, the human animal had only been a brute among brutes; he had just revealed himself as man. Thought had dawned; it was still in the germinal state, but the seed contained the future harvests... The tree in whose shadow the man had stood up bore fruits; he took one of them with his hand, the hand... that hand which until then had been for him only a leg and had served him to drag himself, to advance, now it was going to become the sign of his royal animality, the of his terrestrial power. Having eaten the fruit in his reach, he sees some that he arm cannot reach. So he uproots a young shoot, extends the reach of his arm by means of this stick to the height of the fruit and detaches it from its branch. This stick will soon aid him in his walking, to defend himself against wild beasts or to attack them. After having bitten fruit, he wanted to bite flesh; and off he goes to hunt; and as he has plucked the apple, lo and behold he kills the game. And he makes a fur garment from some animal skins, a shelter with some branches and leaves from trees, those trees who trunks he had grazed yesterday, and whose highest crowns he climbs today in order to seek out the eggs and nestlings of birds. His eyes, that he had held glued to the crust of the soil, now contemplated with majesty the azure sky and all the pearls of gold of its splendid jewel case. It is his sovereign crown to him, king among all those who breathe, and to each of these celestial jewels, he gives a name, an astronomical value. The instinct that wailed in him has been succeeded by an intelligence which still babbles and will speak tomorrow. His tongue has been untied like his hands and both operate at once. He can converse with his fellows and join his hands with theirs, exchange with them ideas and forces, sensations and feelings. The man is no longer alone, isolated, and feeble; he is a race. He thinks and acts, and he participates by thought and action in all that thinks and acts among other men. Solidarity has been revealed to him. His life is increased by it: he no longer lives only in his individuality, no loner only in the present generation, but in the generations that have preceded him, and in those that will follow him. Originally a reptile, he has become a quadruped, from a quadruped a biped, and, standing on his two feet, he advances bearing, like Mercury, wings on his head and heels. By sight and by thought, he rises like an eagle above the clouds and plunge into the depths of the infinite; The coursers that he has tamed lend him their agility in crossing terrestrial spaces; the hollowed trunks of trees cradle him on the waves, some branches carved as paddles serve him as fins. From a simple grazer he has made himself a hunter, then shepherd, farmer, industrial worker. Destiny has said to him: March! And he marches, always advances. And he has stolen a thousand secrets from nature; he has shaped wood, molded the earth,, forged metals; he has put his stamp on everything around him.
Thus the individual-man has emerged from chaos. He has first vegetated as a mineral or plant; then he has crawled; he walks aspires to the winged life, to a more rapid and extensive locomotion. Man-humanity is still a fœtus, but the fœtus develops in the organ of generation, and after its successive phases of growth, it will emerge, free itself finally from the chaos and, from gravitation to gravitation, attain the fullness of its social faculties.


– God is evil.
– Property is Theft.
– Slavery is Assassination.
(P.-J. Proudhon)

The Family is Evil; it is Theft; it is Assassination.

All that was, had to be; recriminations would change nothing. The past is the past, and there is no returning there, except to draw from it some lessons for the future.
In the first days of the human being, when men, still feeble in strength and number, were dispersed over the globe and vegetated, rooted and scattered in the forests like bluets in the fields, shocks and strains could hardly occur. Each lived upon the common teat, and it produced abundantly for all. Besides, a little was enough for a man: fruit to eat, leaves for clothing or shelter, such was the trifling sum of his needs. Only, what I observer, the point on which I insist, is that man, from his debut in the world, on emerging from the belly of the earth, at the hour when the instinctive law guides the first movements of newborn beings, at that hour when the great voice of nature speaks into their ears and their destiny is revealed to them by this voice which shows the birds the aerial spaces, the fish the underwater firmaments, and the other animals the plains and forests to roam; which says to the bear: you shall live solitary in your den, to the ant: you shall live in society in the anthill; to the dove: you shall live couple in the same nest, male and female, in the times of love;–man then hears that voice say to him: you will live in community on the earth, free and in fraternity with your fellows; a social being, sociability shall increase your being; rest your head where you will, pick fruits, kill game, make love, eat or drink, you are everywhere at home; everything belongs to you as to all. If you want to do violence to your neighbor, male or female, your neighbor will respond with violence, and, you know, their strength is nearly equal to your own; give free reign to all your appetites, to all your passions, but do not forget that there must be a harmony between your strength and your intelligence, between what pleases you and what pleases others. And, now, go: the earth, on these conditions, will be for you the garden of the Hesperides.
Before arriving at the combination of the races, the Earth, a little girl eager to dabble in generation, hewed and carved from the clay, in the days of its ferment, many shapeless monsters that she then crumpled and tore up with a quiver of anger and a deluge of tears. Every work demands an apprenticeship. And it is necessary to make many defecting attempts before arriving at the formation of complete beings, at the composition of species. For the human species, her masterwork, she made the mistake of squeezing the brains a bit and giving a little too much scope to the belly. The development of the one does not correspond to the development of the other. This makes an uneven joint, leading to disharmony. It is not a reproach that I address to her. Could she do better? No. It was in the inevitable order that it be thus. Everything was rough and savage around man; man must then begin by being rough and savage; too great a delicacy of the sense would have killed him. The sensitive withdraws into itself when the weather is stormy, it only blossoms under the calm and radiant blue.
The day then comes when the increase of the human race surpasses the increase of their intelligence. Man, still on the edge of idiocy, had little rapport with man. His stupefaction makes him fierce. His body is, it is true, much refined from its primitive abjection; he had trained his muscular dexterity well, conquered bodily strength and agility; but his mind, awakened for a moment, had fallen back into its embryonic lethargy threatened to drag on in that state. The intellectual fiber stagnated it its swaddling clothes. The goad of pain became necessary to pour to tear the mind of man from its somnolence and recall him to his social destiny. The fruits became more rare, the chase more difficult: he had to compete for possession. Men were brought together, often in order to fight, but also to lend their support. No matter how, there was contact. Rootless as they were, men and women would pair up; then they would form groups, tribes. The groups had their herds, then their fields, then their workshops. Intelligence was from now on released from it torpor. The voice of necessity cried, March! And they marched. However, all this progress was not accomplished without heartbreak. The development of ideas always lagged behind the development of appetites. Equilibrium, once upset, could not be reestablished. The world advanced, or rather teetered in blood and tears. Iron and flame brought desolation and death everywhere. The strong killed the weak or took possession of them. Slavery and oppression attached themselves like a leprosy to the flanks of humanity. The natural order collapsed.
A supreme moment, which would decide for a long series of centuries the fate of humanity. What would intelligence do? Would it vanquish ignorance? Would it deliver men from the torment of mutual destruction? Would it lead them from this labyrinth where sorrow and hunger wail? Would it show them the road paved with fraternal instincts which leads to liberation, to general happiness? Would it break the odious chains of the patriarchal family? Would it break down the emerging barriers of property? Would it destroy the tablets of the law, the governmental power, that double-edged sword which kills those it should protect? Would it lead to triumph the revolt which always threatens the tyranny which always stirs? Finally, – column of light, principle of life – would it found the anarchic order in equality and liberty or, – funerary urn, essence of death – would it found an arbitrary order on hierarchy and authority? Which would have the upper hand, the fraternal communion of interests or their fratricidal division? Would humanity perish two steps from its cradle?

[to be continued...]

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur, with thanks to Jesse and Apio for breaking trail a few places.]