Category Archives: 1868

Program of the International Society of the Revolution (1868)

Program of the International Society of the Revolution

First part. Theoretical principles.

I. Negation of God and of the principle of authority, both human and divine, as well as every tutelage exercised by men over men—even when we wish to exercise that tutelage over individuals of the age of majority but deprived of instruction or else over the ignorant masses, whether in the name of an intelligence, or even in the name of scientific reason, represented by a group of men—recognized and licensed intelligences—or by any exclusive class, either of which would form a sort of aristocracy of intelligence—the most odious and most harmful of all for liberty.

note 1. Positive and rational science positive is the only light that can lead man to the knowledge of truth and that could be capable of regulating his conduct, as well as his relations in society. But it is subject to errors, and even if it wasn’t, it must not arrogate to itself the right to govern men contrary to their convictions and their will. A truly free society could only grant it two rights, the exercise of which is incidentally its duty: the first is the education and instruction of individuals of both sexes, equally accessible and obligatory for all children and adults until they have passed the age of majority—the age when the action of all authority must cease—and the second to imbue them with its ideas, its judgments in all their convictions, by means of an absolutely free propaganda.

note 2. In rejecting absolutely, in all its possible forms, the tutelage that intelligence, developed by science and by the practice of affairs, of men and of life, could wish to exercise over the ignorant masses, we are far from denying their natural and salutary influence on these masses,—provided that this influence is only exercised in an entirely simple manner, by the natural action of every superior intelligence on inferior intelligences, and that it not be dressed up with any official character or any privilege, whether political or social,—two things that never fail to produce, on the one hand, the enslavement of the masses, and, on the other, the corruption and stupefaction of the intelligences that are accorded them.

II. Negation of free will and of the right of society to punish;—every human individual, without any exception, never being anything but the involuntary product of their natural and social environment.—The four great causes of all human immorality are: 1) the absence of rational hygiene and education; 2) the inequality of economic and social conditions; 3) the ignorance of the masses, which naturally results from it, and 4) their inevitable consequence—slavery. The education, instruction and organization of society according to liberty and justice must replace punishment. During the whole transitory era, more or less long, which cannot fail to follow the social revolution—society, in the interest of its own defense against incorrigible individuals—not culpable, but dangerous,—will never apply to them any other punishment but that of placing them outside its guarantee and its solidarity—exclusion

III. The Negation of free will is not that of liberty. Liberty is, on the contrary, the necessary consequence, the product of the natural and social fatality.

note 1. Man is not free with regard to the laws of nature, which constitute the very basis and absolute condition of his being. They penetrate and dominate him as they dominate and penetrate all that exists. Nothing could shield him from their fatal omnipotence: any leaning toward revolt on his part would end in suicide. But through a power that is inherent in his individual nature and inevitably drives him to realize, to conquer the conditions of his life, man can and must gradually emancipate himself from the obsession and from the crushing, natural hostility of the external world, whether physical or social, that surrounds him, through thought, through science and through the application of thought to the instinct of will—through his intelligent will.

note 2. Man is the last link, the highest term of the uninterrupted series of beings who, starting from the simplest elements and arriving at him, constitute the known world. He is an animal who, thanks to the superior development of his organism and notably of his brain, is endowed with the ability to think and speak. That is all the difference that separates him from all the other animal species—his older brothers with regard to time, his younger brothers with regard to intellectual capacity. But that difference is enormous. It is the unique cause of all that we call our history and of which here, in a few words, is the summary and the sense: man begins from bestiality to arrive at humanity, at the constitution of his social existence through science, through conscience, through his intelligent labor and through liberty.

note 3. Man is a social animal—as are many other animals that appeared on the earth before him. He did not create society through a free contract, he is born in its womb and could not live as a man, nor even become a man, nor think, nor speak, nor will, nor act reasonably apart from it. Society constitutes his human nature, he depends on it as absolutely as on physical nature itself, and is not such a great genius that he should absolutely dominate it.

IV. Social solidarity is the first human law; liberty is the second. These two laws, mutually penetrating and inseparable from one another, constitute the whole of humanity. Liberty is thus not the negation of solidarity; it is its development and, so to speak, its humanization.

V. Liberty is not the independence of man with regard to the inevitable laws of nature and society. It is first of all his power of gradual emancipation from the oppression of the external physical world— through science and intelligent labor; it is then his right to dispose of himself and act in accordance with his own convictions and ideas—a right opposed to the despotic and authoritarian pretensions of another man, of a group or class of men, or of the whole of society.

note 1. It is necessary not to confuse sociological laws, otherwise known as the laws of social physiology and which are as fatally obligatory for every man as the laws of physical nature itself,—being in reality laws as physical as those of nature—it is necessary not to confuse these laws with the political, criminal and civil that are more or less the expression of the manners, customs and interests, as well as the opinions that, in a particular era, that are dominant in society, or in a part, in one class of society. It is entirely natural that, being recognized by the majority of men or even by a dominant class, they except a powerful natural influence—good or bad, according to their particular character—on each. But it is neither good, nor legitimate, nor just, nor even useful for the society itself, that these laws be able to impose themselves in a violent, authoritarian manner on any individual, contrary to their own convictions.—That would be an attack on their liberty, on their personal dignity, even on their humanity.

VI. The natural society in which every man is born, outside of which he could never become an intelligent and free man, is truly humanize do only the the extent that all the men of which it is composed become more and more free, individually and collectively.

note 1. To be individually free means, for the man living in the midst of society, not bending his thought or will before any other authority than that of his own reason and his own conception of justice; not recognizing, in short, any truth except that which he comprehends, and submitting to no law but that which is acceptable to his own conscience. Such is the conditio sine que non of all human dignity, the incontestable right of man—the sign of his humanity.

To be collectively free—is to live in the midst of free men and to be free through their liberty. Man, we have said, could not become an intelligent being, endowed with a reflective will, and consequently could not conquer his individual liberty apart from and without the aid of all of society. The liberty of each is thus the product of the common solidarity. But once that solidarity is recognized as the basis and condition of all individual liberty, it is clear that if a man lived in the midst of slaves, even if he was their master, he would necessarily be the slave of their slavery, and that he could become really and completely free only through their liberty. So the liberty of everyone is necessary to my liberty; as a result, it is not true to say that the liberty of all is the limit of my liberty, which would be tantamount to a complete negation of the latter. It is, on the contrary, its necessary confirmation and infinite extension.

VII. Individual liberty of each only becomes real and possible through the collective liberty of society, of which, by a natural and fatal law, he is a part.

note 1. Liberty like humanity, of which it is the purest expression, is not at the debut, it is at the last term of history. Human society, we have said, begins with bestiality. Natural, savage men recognize their human character and natural right so little, that they begin by tearing one another apart and sadly even today they have not ceased slaughtering one another.—The second period in the historical development of human society is that of slavery. The third—in the midst of which we live—is that of economic exploitation or the salariat. The fourth period—that toward which we tend, and toward which, we must at least hope, we strive, is that of justice, liberty in equality or mutuality.

VIII. The natural man becomes a free man, he is humanized and moralized, recognizes, in short, and realizes in himself and for himself his own human character and right only to the degree that he recognizes this same character and right in all his fellows.—In the interests of his own humanity, of his own morality and personal liberty, man must thus desire the liberty, the morality and the humanity of all.

IX. To respect the liberty of others is thus the supreme duty of every man.—To love them and serve them—that is the only virtue. It is the basis of all morals; there exists no other.

X. Liberty being the product and the highest expression of solidarity, which is to say of mutuality, it is only completely achievable in equality. Political equality can only be based on economic and social equality. The realization of liberty through that equality—that is justice.

XI. Labor being the sole producer of all values, social utilities or wealth, man, who is a social being par excellence, could not live without labor.

XII. Only associated labor is sufficient for the existence of a populous and somewhat civilized society. All that we call civilization could only have been created by associated labor. The whole secret of the infinite productivity of human labor consists first of the application of more or less developed, scientific intelligence, which is itself always the product of a labor previously and currently associated; and then the division of labor, but at the same time also of a certain combination or association of the labor thus divided.

XIII. All the historical injustices, all the wars, all the political and social privileges have for their basis and principal object the subjugation and exploitation of some associated labor to the profit of the stronger—conquering nations, classes and individuals. Such has been the true historical cause of slavery, of serfdom, of the salariat—and to sum up everything in a phrase—of the so-called right of individual and hereditary property.

XIV. From the moment that the right of property was accepted and established, society was forced to divide itself into two parts: a privileged propertarian minority, exploiting the associated, forced labor of the masses, on one side,—and on the other, the millions of proletarians, subjugated under the name of slaves, serfs, or wage-earners. Some, through leisure based on the satisfaction of needs and material comfort, would find themselves assured all the benefits of civilization, of education and of instruction. The others—the masses, the millions would find themselves condemned to a forced labor without rest, to an ignorance and a poverty without end.

XV. The civilization of the minority finds itself thus founded on the forced barbarism of the majority. The privileged of all political and social hues, all the representatives of property are thus, by the very force of their position, the natural enemies, the exploiters and oppressors of the great masses of the people.

XVI. Leisure—this precious privilege of the dominant classes—being necessary for the development of the intelligence, and a certain ease as well as a certain freedom of movement and action being equally indispensable to the development of character—it is entirely natural that these classes should show themselves first more civilized, more intelligent, more humane and up to a certain point even more moral than the masses.—But as on the one hand the inactivity as well as privilege break down bodies, with hearts and deform minds, by making them love and pursue lies and injustice, absolutely compatible with their exclusive interest, but by the disarm token contrary to the interest of everyone, it is obvious that the privileged classes must sooner or later fall into corruption and imbecility, and into servility.—It is an effect that we see today.

XVII. On the other side, the total absence of leisure and the force labor have necessarily condemned the masses to barbarism. The labor itself cannot develop their intelligence, for [due to] their necessarily hereditary ignorance, all the intelligent part of labor—the applications of science, the combination and direction of the productive forces were and still find themselves almost exclusively reserved for individuals of the bourgeois class; only the muscular, unintelligent, mechanical part, rendered still more stultifying by the division of labor, was left to the people,—who thus find themselves stunned, in the full sense of that word, by their daily labor.

Well, despite all that, thanks to the moralizing power that is inherent in labor, thanks also to the fact that in demanding justice, liberty and equality for himself, the laborer implicitly demands them for everyone, since there exists no human being who is more shamefully treated than him—if it is not the woman or child perhaps;—thanks finally to the fact that he has not used and abused life and consequently is not jaded, and that while lacking instruction he at least has this immense advantage that his virgin heart and mind have not been corrupted and distorted by selfish interests and self-serving lies;—that he has preserved intact all of the natural energy of his character—while all the privileged classes slump, weaken and rot, the worker alone increases in life—today, he alone represents, loves and desires truth, liberty, equality and justice;—to him alone belongs the future.

XVIII. Our socialist program

It demands and must demand:

  1. Political, social and economic equalization of all the classes and of all the individual humans on the earth.
  2. The abolition of hereditary property.
  3. The appropriation of the land—by the agricultural associations; of capital and of all the instruments of labor—by the industrial associations.
  4. The abolition of patriarchal right, of the right of the family—of the despotism of the husband and father, founded solely on the right of hereditary property. And the equalization of the political, economic and social rights of woman with those of man.
  5. The upkeep,—the education and instruction, both scientific and industrial, and including all the branches of higher education, equal for all children of both sexes, and obligatory until they have passed the age of majority—at the cost of society.

The School must replace the Church and render the criminal codes, punishment, prison, executioner and gendarme useless.

Children are not the property of anyone, not the property of their parents or even of society—they belong to their own future Liberty. But that liberty in children is still not real;—it is only potential—real liberty, the full consciousness and practice of liberty in each, based primarily on the sentiment of personal dignity and on the serious respect of the liberty and dignity of others, that is to say on justice,—that liberty only being capable of realization in children though the rational development of their intelligence, and by that of their character, of their intelligent will.—From this it results that society, the whole future of which depends on the education and instruction of children, and which consequently has not just the right, but the duty to oversee them—is the natural tutor of all the children of both sexes, and as it will be from now on the sole inheritor, the right of individual inheritance needing to be abolished—it will naturally consider it one of its first duties to provide for all the costs of maintenance, education and instruction without distinction for all the children of both sexes, without consideration of their relations and origins.

The rights of the parents should be limited to loving their children and exerting over them a natural authority, to the extent that that authority will not be contrary to their morality, their intelligence and their future liberty.—Marriage, political and civil, and every intervention of society in matters of love should disappear.—The children would belong naturally, not by right, especially to the mother, under the intelligent observation of society.

Children, especially at the youngest age, being incapable of reasoning and directing their own conduct, the principle of tutelage and authority, which must be absolutely excluded from society, finds its natural place in their education and instruction. Only this must be a truly human, intelligent authority, absolutely foreign to every theological, metaphysical and legal recollection, and starting from the principle that each human being is neither good nor evil at their birth, and that the good—which is to say the love of liberty, consciousness of justice and mutuality, the worship, or rather the respect and the habit of truth, reason and labor—could only be developed in each through a rational education and instruction, based on the obvious and manifest respect, at once practical and theoretical, of that reason, that justice and that liberty that authority, I say, must have as its sole aim the preparation of all children for the most complete liberty. It could only arrive at that goal by destroying itself gradually, giving way to the liberty of the children, as they increasingly approach the age of majority.

Instruction should embrace all the branches of science, technology and human industry.—It must be scientific and professional at the same time, necessarily general for all children, and special according to the dispositions and tastes of each; in order that each young man and woman, leaving the schools and recognized as free and adult—should be equally fit to work with the head and with the hands.

Once emancipated, they will be absolutely free to associate for labor or not to associate. All will inevitably wish to associate, because from the moment that the right of inheritance is abolished, and land and capital will become the property of the international, or rather universal, federation of free workers’ associations, there will be no more place or possibility for competition, for the existence of isolated labor.

No one could exploit the labor of others any longer—each would have to work to live. Each will be free to die of hunger by not working,—at least if they do not find an association or a commune that consents to feed them out of pity. But then probably it would be considered fair not to recognize any political right for those who, capable working, would prefer the shame of living on the labor of others, all the political and social rights necessarily having no other basis than the labor or each. Moreover, this case could occur only during the era of transition, while there would still naturally be many individuals, products of the present organization of injustice and privilege, who would not have been raised with a consciousness of justice and true human dignity, as well as with respect and the habit of labor. With regard to these individuals, the revolutionary or revolutionized society would find itself with the awkward alternative either of forcing them to work, which would be despotism, or else of letting itself be exploited by the lazy, which would be a new slavery and a new source of corruption for the whole society.

Laziness, in a society organized according to equality and justice—bases of all liberty,—with a rational system of education and instruction, and under the pressure of a public opinion, which, having labor for a principal foundation, would scorn the good-for-nothings—would become impossible.—Becoming a very rare exception, it would be rightly considered a malady and would be treated as such in the hospitals.

Only the children,—until they have attained a certain degree of strength and, later, only to the degree that will be necessary to leave them time to educate themselves and in order not to be overburdened with labor,—the disabled, the old and the sick could be exempted from labor without dishonor and without thus renouncing their rights as free citizens.

XIX. The workers, in the interest of their radical and complete economic emancipation, must demand the complete and final abolition of the State, along with all the institutions of the State.

Note 1. What is the State? It is the historical organization of the principles of authority and tutelage, divine and human, exercised over the masses of the people, either in the name of some religion, or in the name of the exclusive and privileged intelligence of one or several classes of proprietors and to the detriment of the millions whose associated, forced labor they exploit.—Conquest, primary basis of the right of individual inherited property, has been in this way that of all the States.—The legalized exploitation of the masses for the profit of a certain number of proprietors—of which the majority are fictive, and only a small number real—sanctioned by the Church in the name of a supposed Divinity, and that has always been made to take the part of the strongest and most crafty—is called right. The development of the wealth, the comfort, the luxury and refined, distorted intelligence of the privileged classes—a development necessarily based on the poverty and ignorance of the immense majority of the populations—is called civilization—and the organization, the guarantee of that whole ensemble of historical iniquities—is called the State.

So the workers must desire the destruction of the State.

note 2. The State, necessarily founded on the exploitation and subjugation of the masses and as such, oppressor and violator of all popular liberty and all domestic justice, is inevitably brutal, conquering, pillaging and carnivorous externally.—The State, every State—monarchy republic—is the negation of humanity. It is its negation, because by presenting itself as the supreme or ultimate aim or patriotism of the citizens—by putting, in accordance with its very principle, the interest of its [consecration], of its power and of the increase of that power internally, as well as its extension externally, above all the other interests in the world, it denies the particular interests and human rights of its subjects, as well as those of the foreign nations;—it thereby breaks the same universal solidarity of nations and men,—it sets them outside justice, outside humanity.

note 3. The State is the younger brother of the Church. It could only legitimate its existence through some theological or metaphysical idea.—Being opposed to human justice, it must base itself on the theological or metaphysical fiction of a divine justice.—In the ancient world, the very idea of a nation or of society did not exist—society having been entirely absorbed, invaded and dominated by the State—and each State drew its origin and in particular right of existence and domination from some God or some system of Gods, who were supposed to be the exclusive protectors of some particular State. In the ancient world, man was unknown, the very idea of humanity did not exist.—There were only citizens. That is why in that civilization, slavery was a natural fact and the necessary basis of the liberty of the citizens.

Christianity having destroyed Polytheism, and having proclaimed one unique God, the States were forced to fall back on the saints of the Christian paradise;—each Catholic State had a saint or a certain number of saints—protectors and patrons of that State—its mediators before God, which because of this has often found itself in great difficulty. Each State besides still finds it useful today to proclaim that the good God protects it in an exclusive and special manner.

Metaphysics and the science of a legal order founded ideally on metaphysics and actually [based] on the interests of the proprietary classes,—have equally sought to find a rational basis for the existence of States.—They have had recourse to the fiction of a universal and tacit consent or contract; or else to that of an objective justice and of the universal and public public good represented, they say, by the State.—The State, according to the Jacobin democrats, has the mission to make the universal and collective interest of all the citizens triumph over the selfish interest of individuals, communes and isolated provinces.—It is the justice and reason of everyone dominating the selfishness and the stupidity of each.—It is thus the declaration of the wickedness and folly of each in the name of the wisdom and virtue of all.—It is the real negation, or what means the same thing, the limitation ad infinitum of all the particular liberties—individual and collective—in the name of the so-called liberty of everyone—collective and universal liberty, which is nothing but an oppressive abstraction, deduced from the negation or limitation of the rights of each and founded on the real slavery of each.—And as every abstraction could only exist so long as it is sustain by the positive interests of a real being—the abstraction of the State represents, in fact, the very positive interests of the governing, possessing, exploiting classes, [which are] also called the intelligent classes, and the systematic immolation of the interests and liberties of the subjugated masses.

note 4. Patriotism—virtue and passion of politics or the State [manuscript ends]

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Program of the Russian Socialist Democracy [Narodnoe Delo] (1868)

[From the broadside: Program of the Russian Socialist Democracy. Drawn from the Newspaper “La Cause du peuple”, published in French, Geneva, 1868.]


We want the emancipation of the people, their intellectual, economic, social and political emancipation.

I. The intellectual emancipation of the popular masses is indispensable in order for their political and social liberty to become complete and solid. Faith in God, the belief in the immortality of the soul, and, in general, all the idealist or supernatural utopias, necessarily based on a false principle, contrary to science, have been for the peoples a constant cause of slavery and misery. On the one hand, they have always served as a justification and support to all the enslavers of humanity, to all the exploiters of the labor of the masses; on the other, they have demoralized the peoples themselves, dividing their conscience and their being between two absolutely opposing tendencies: the one celestial and the other terrestrial, and at the same time depriving them of the energy necessary to win their human rights and give themselves a happy, free existence. It follows from this that we are francs partisans of atheism and scientific, humanitarian materialism.

II. We want the economic, social emancipation of the people, without which all liberty would be nothing but a vain word and a disgusting lie. The economic situation of the peoples has always been the cornerstone and real explanation of their political situation. All the political and civil organizations, past and present, have for principal bases: the brutal act of conquest; the patriarchal right of the husband and father; the right of hereditary property, and the blessing of all these historic rights by the Church in the name of some god. The ensemble of all these things hierarchically coordinated is called the State. Thus, the inevitable consequence of every State constitution will always be the enslavement of millions of laborers condemned to a fatal ignorance, for the profit of a privileged, exploiting and so-called civilized minority. The State – that younger brother of the Church – in inconceivable without political, legal and civil privileges, which have a a natural basis the economic privileges.

Desiring the real and definitive emancipation of the popular masses, we want:

1) The abolition of the right of hereditary property.

2) The complete equalization of the political and social rights of women with those of men and, as a consequence: the abolition of laws regarding the family, as well as that of religious, political and civil marriage, historical corollary of the right of inheritance.

3) The abolition of marriage, as a religious, political legal and civil institution, will immediately raise question of the education of children; their upkeep, from the moment when the pregnancy of the mother is determined the age of their majority; their education and instruction, equal for all at all degrees, from primary school to the highest developments of science in the more advanced schools; – scientific and industrial at the same time, and preparing the man as much for muscular labor as for nervous labor, – must fall primarily to the charge of society.

We pose as the bases of economic justice the following principle:

The earth must only belong to those who cultivate it with their own arms – and as all human labor is only productive insofar as it is associated,- we claim the land for the communes or rural associations; as well as capital and other instruments of labor for the industrial associations, both based on the most complete liberty and on the perfect economic and political equality of the laborers

III. In the future, no political organization should be anything but a free federation of free associations, whether agricultural or industrial.

Consequently, in the name itself of the political and social emancipation of the popular masses, we desire the destruction, or if you prefer the liquidation, of the State – it’s radical extirpation, with all its institutions, whether ecclesiastical, political or civil, university, legal or financial , military or bureaucratic.

We want absolute liberty for all peoples, Russian and non-Russian, crushed today by the empire of all Russias; with the absolute right of each to manage their own affairs, and to govern themselves according to their own instincts, according to their needs and will; so that, federalizing from bottom to top, those among them who desire to become members of the Russian people, can create with it a truly free society, United federatively with other similar societies, who, taking for their basis the same principles, will freely organize together in Europe and in the entire world.

For us there principal foundations of our program will be obligatory. This is why we believe it necessary to announce that we will not accept articles in our newspaper, nor people among us, that are not entirely in agreement with us.

The development of the program will be the subject of a series of articles under the title: How to Pose the Revolutionary Question, and it, of course, will also be the content of our entire newspaper.

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The Program of “La Démocratie” (1868)

La Voix de l’Avenir, May 24, 1868, Chaux-de-Fonds

Need I say that as far as a foreigner my be allowed to meddle in your affairs, I sympathize with all my heart with your courageous enterprise and that I subscribe completely to your program? You have the noble ambition of restoring the press in your country to the heights from which it should never have descended, whatever the storms that have assailed it, and of once again accustoming is to seek our inspirations there, a habit that we have lost for nearly 19 years.

Be sure that, in all countries, all men to whom liberty and humanity are dear will happily salute the end of the French eclipse, even when they no longer have need of the resplendent sun of France in order to know their way.

The time of the messiah-peoples has passed. Liberty, justice, from now only no longer form the monopoly of any one nation. – The initiative, – to make use of the favorite expression of Mazzini, – that initiative (which, in the case of Dante, he wanted to bestow exclusively upon the fair Italy, his homeland) belongs from now on to all the peoples; it is, to different degrees, it is true, divided among them all. This is a true division of labor, proportionate to the intellectual and moral power of each nation; and the last word of that division will be the federal organization of Europe.

All for each and all by each: such must be today our motto, our watchword. But the harmony would be very imperfect, it would be impossible, if the light and the powerful participation of France was lacking. That is the sense in which we all greet happily its reawakening to liberty.

I can only subscribe fully to the principle of decentralization that you set down as one of the principal bases of your program. Seventy-five years of sad, hard experience, passed in a fruitless tossing between a liberty, re-conquered several times, but always lost again, and the despotism of the increasingly triumphant State, have proven to France and that world that in 1793 your Girondins were in the right against your Jacobins. Robespierre, St.-Just, Carnot, Couthon, Cambon and so many other citizens of the Mountain have been great and pure patriots, but it remains no less true that they have organized the governmental machine, that formidable centralization of the State, which has made possible, natural and necessary, the military dictatorship of Napoleon I, which, surviving all the revolutions that have followed, in no way diminished, but on the contrary preserved, caressed and developed, through the Restoration, the July Monarchy and the Republic of 1848, has inevitably led to the destruction of your liberties.

Many of the democrats of the old unitary school – and I should even say Catholic school, although they are that most often without knowing it themselves – still think today that communal autonomy can suffice, and that with emancipated communes on one side, and on the other side a powerful centralization of the State, the organization of Liberty is possible. Such is the belief boldly professed by the illustrious Italian democrat Joseph Mazzini.

Despite the deep and sincere respect that I bear for this great creator of modern Italian unity, the distressing spectacle presented by that same Italy today would suffice by itself to make me doubt the goodness of his doctrine. I do not hesitate to say that Mazzini and all those who think like him fall into a profound error. No, communal autonomy will never be sufficient to establish liberty in any country; to isolated commune will always be too weak to resist the crushing centralization of all the legislative and executive powers in the State. – in order for communal Liberty to be real, an intermediary more powerful than the commune is required between the commune and the State: the autonomous department or province. We can be certain that where commercial autonomy does not exist, the self-government of the commune will never be anything but a fiction. On the other hand, whatever Mazzini may say, a State powerfully centralized internally will never be anything externally but a war machine, which could enter into a federation of peoples in order to dominate it, but never to submit, on equal conditions with all the other nations, to the supreme law of international justice, that is to say purely human justice and, as such, contrary to the transcendent, theological, political and legal justice of the States.

I am happy to see the flag of antitheologism bravely displayed in France. A mind enveloped in theological and metaphysical fictions, which bows before any authority whatsoever, other than that of rational and experimental science, can only produce the political and social slavery of a nation. Whatever is said by your representatives of the official morality and your spiritualist democrats, scientific and humanitarian materialism alone is capable of establishing liberty, justice, and consequently also morality on branches truly broad and unshakeable. Isn’t it indeed a remarkable thing that, while the spiritualists, taking their point of departure in free will, end inevitably at the doctrine of authority, to the more or less open or masked, but always complete negation of liberty, – we materialists, we start from inevitability, both natural and social, in order to proclaim the progressive emancipation of humanity.

You are socialist. One does not have the right to call oneself a democrat today if, alongside the most complete political emancipation, one does not want as fully the economic emancipation of the people. You are a thousand times right to no longer wish to separate those two great questions which make up, in reality, only a single one: the political question and the social question.

Like you, I deplore the blindness of that party–and not too considerable a party, let us hope,–of workers in Europe, who imagine that by abstaining from any intervention in the political affairs of their country, they serve that much better their own material interests, and who think that they could attain economic equality and justice, to which the working classes aspire today, by another road than that of liberty. The unanimous testimony of the history of all times and all countries shows us that justice is never given to those who do not know how to take it themselves; logic confirms, by explaining it to us, that demonstration of history. It is not in the nature of a privilege, of a monopoly, of an existing power to cede or abdicate without being forced to do it; in order for right to triumph, it must become a force in its turn.

This truth is so simple, it is so well proven by the experience of each day, that we have the right to be astonished that people are still found who can doubt it. Equality without liberty is a noxious fiction created by the rogues to fool the sots. Equality without liberty is the despotism of the State, and the despotic State could not exist a single day without having at least an exploiting and privileged class; the bureaucracy, a hereditary power as in Russia and China, or de facto as in Germany and among you.

The great and true master of us all, Proudhon, has written, in his fine book on Justice in the Revolution and in the Church, that the most disastrous combination that could be formed would be that which would join together socialism with absolutism, the tendencies of the people toward economic emancipation and material well being with dictatorship concentration of all political and social powers in the State.

So let the future preserve us from the favors of despotism; but let it save us from the disastrous and mind-numbing consequences of authoritarian, doctrinaire or State socialism. Let us be socialists, but let us never become sheeplike peoples. Let us seek justice, all political, economic and social justice, only on the path of liberty. There can be nothing living and human apart from liberty, and a socialism that would cast it from its bosom or that would not accept it as the unique creative principle and basis would lead us straight to slavery and brutishness.

But if, on the one hand, we must energetically reject [repousser] every socialist system not inspired by the principle of collective and individual liberty, we must separate ourselves with the same energy and frankness from all the parties that declare their wish to remain strangers to the social question, the most formidable but also the greatest of all those questions that occupy the world today.

You great revolution, which began its sublime work with the “Declaration of the Rights of Man” would only have ended when it had organized – not only in your country, but on the whole surface of the globe – society according to justice: a society that, at the beginning of the life of each of its members, whether of masculine or feminine sex, would have guaranteed equality from the point of departure, as that equality would depend on social organization, setting aside the natural differences between individuals; a society that, in economic and social respects, would offer to each the equally real possibility for all to raise themselves up – in proportion to the energy and individual capacities of each – to the greatest heights of humanity, first through education and instruction, then through the labor or each, freely associated or not associated, – labor at once muscular and nervous, manual and intellectual, which, becoming the legitimate source of all individual, but not hereditary, property, would in the end be considered the principal basis of all political and social rights.

Such is, in my opinion, the last word of the revolutionary program. We could protest the difficulties of its realization; but we could not, without renouncing all logic, be unaware of what is there an absolute condition of true justice. And we who have renounced every theological faith in order to have the right and the power to embrace the human faith, we must still maintain the program of justice.

Finally you are persuaded, are you not, that all new wine must be poured in new bottles and that, turning your back on the henceforth exhausted mob of the cripples of theologism, of privilege, of anti-socialist democracy and transcendent politics, we should base all of our hopes of that party of the intelligent and studious, but not doctrinaire youth, who, feeling in themselves the need to merge with the mass of the people, in order to draw a life from it that ostensibly begins to be lacking in the higher regions of society, love, respect the people enough to have the right to instruct them and if necessary that of guiding them; – but especially on the working classes who, moralized by labor and not being exhausted by the abuse of the pleasures of life, are today the bearers and dispensers of every future?

Here is, my dear [Charles-Louis] Chassin, my profession of faith. If it does not displease you too much, accept me among your numerous collaborators. In the meantime, please record me among your subscribers.

Michel Bakounine

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Collective protest of the dissident members of the 2nd Congress of Peace and Freedom

[September 25, 1868]

Considering that the majority of the delegates to the Congress of the League of Peace and Freedom have passionately and explicitly declared themselves against the economic and social equalization of classes and of individuals, and as no political program and action that does not aim at the realization of this principle could be accepted by the socialist democrats, by the conscientious and logical friends of peace and freedom, the undersigned believe it is their duty to separate from the League.

Albert Richard
J. Bedouch
Hugo Byter
Elisée Reclus
Aristide Rey
Victor Jaclard

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Bakunin to Karl Marx, December 22, 1868

Marx1867December 22, 1868. Geneva

123. Montbrillant.

My old friend – Serno has shared with me the part of your letter that concerned me. You asked him if I continue to be your friend. – Yes, more than ever, dear Marx, because I understand better than ever how right you are in following, and in inviting us all to march on the wide road of economic revolution, and in denigrating those among us who would lose themselves on the paths of either national or exclusively political enterprises. I now do what you yourself commenced to do more than twenty years ago. – Since the solemn and public farewells that I addressed to the bourgeois at the Berne Congress, I have known no other society, no other milieu than the world of the workers. – My homeland now is the International of which you are one of the principal founders. – So you see, dear friend, that I am your disciple – and I am proud to be it. – This is all that was needed to explain my relationships and my personal feelings. – Let us pass on to other questions.

I read in your letter to Serno that we have posed the question falsely at Berne, by speaking of the equalization of classes and individuals. – That observation is perfectly fair with regard to the terms, with regard to the formula that we have made use of. – But that formula has been, as it were, imposed on us by the stupidity and final impenitence of our bourgeois audience. – The have been stupid enough to yield to us, without a fight, as it were, the terrain of equality – and our triumph has consisted precisely in the fact that we have been able to observe that they reject all the conditions of a real and serious equality. – That if what has made them, and still makes them, furious. – What’s more, I admit wholeheartedly that we could have better expressed ourselves otherwise, if, for example, we had said: The radical suppression of the economic causes of the existence of the different classes, and the economic, social and political equalization of the environment and the conditions of existence and development for all individuals without difference of sex, nation and race. – I have send you in a bundle all the speeches, except one, that I gave at Berne – Herzen having asked me for permission to print them in the last Mohican, that is in the last issue of his Journal, which has ceased to appear for lack of public and readers, I had no reason to refuse him. – But I beg you to believe that there is absolutely no solidarity between him and me. – Since 1863 especially, all our political relations, and now even our private relations, have broken off. – He asked permission to modify in his own way the speech that I made at Berne regarding Russia, in response to the speech of my friend Mroczkowski, which you will find in Kolokol – I proposed, like all my friends of the Russian socialist democracy, of which I have also sent the program, incidentally written by me, as the condition of real, which is to say economic, social and political emancipation of the Russian and non-Russian peoples shut up in the Russian Empire – the radical destruction of that Empire – That is too much for Herzen and we have fallen out. – I also send you the Program of the Alliance that we have founded with Becker and many Italian, Polish and French friends. – On this subject we will have much to say to one another. – I will soon send you a copy of a long letter, – almost a pamphlet – that I wrote on the subject to my friend César de Paepe – Now a few words on what is happening here. At Basle there is a considerable strike – which will probably have the result of adding 5000 members more to the International. – Geneva appears perfect. – We have had a great popular assembly, which has appointed a permanent Commission of Correspondence with Basle – I am on it. – Becker as well. – I have truly found here, among the workers, some magnificent men. – Give my regards to Engels, if he is not dead a second time. – You know that he has been buried once – and I beg you to give him a copy of my speech, and Eckarius and Jung as well.

Your devoted M. Bakunin

Please remember me to Madame Marx.

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Bakunin, Second Address to the Second Congress of Peace and Freedom (1868)

Addresses to the Second Congress of Peace and Freedom
Second Address
September 23, 1868
Gentlemen, I do not want to respond to all the pleasantries that have been hurled at me from the height of this rostrum. I would have too much to do if I wanted to unravel the truth through the mass of confused ideas and contradictory sentiments that have been raised against me. Several orators have employed, in order to combat me, some arguments so far from serious I would well have the right to put their good faith in doubt.–I would not do it, Gentlemen. I have only asked to speak a second time in order to place again on its true terrain a question that some have had an obvious interest in shifting.
They respond to us as if we had proposed to this assembly to accept a defined system of socialism, while on the contrary I have taken a great deal of care to declare from this tribune that we abstain from proposing to it any system platform; that we only ask them to recognize, by a formal vote, economic and social equality as an aim, without deciding in any way today on the question of ways and means. The whole question, I have said, is to know. Do you want that equality, yes or no?
To that, doubtless to avoid giving us a frank response, which with a single blow have unveiled to the working masses the nature of the sentiments with which one is animated for their cause, we have not responded by an eloquent, and, I will say the word, a passionately bourgeois critique, of my presumed question, which I have not even had the honor of explaining from this podium, and which are not at all in question.
Do not believe, Gentlemen, that I recoil before the  frank explanation of my socialist ideas. I could ask nothing better than to defend them here. But I do not think that the regulatory fifteen minutes would suffice for this debate. However there is one point, one accusation hurled against me that I cannot leave without a response.
Because I demand the economic and social equalization of classes and individuals, because with the Congress of laborers at Brussels, I have declared myself a partisan of collective property, I have been reproached for being a communist. What difference, they have said to me, do you intend between communism and collectivity? I am astonished, truly, that Mr. Chaudey does not understand that difference, he, the testamentary executor of Proudhon! I detest communism, because it is the negation of liberty and because I can conceive nothing human without liberty. I am not a communist because communism concentrates and causes all the power of society to be concentrated in the State, because it leads necessarily to the centralization of property in the hands of the State, while I want the abolition of the State,—the radical extirpation of that principle of authority and of the guardianship of the State, which under the pretext of moralizing and civilizing men, have thus far enslaved, oppressed, exploited and depraved them, I want the organization of society and of collective or social property from bottom to top, by the way of free association, and not from top to bottom by means of any sort of authority. Wishing the abolition of the State, I want the abolition of individually hereditary property, which is only an institution of the State, nothing but a consequence of the very principle of the State. That is the sense in which, Gentlemen, I am collectivist and not at all communist.
I have asked, I ask the economic and social equalization of classes and individuals. I not want to say what I mean by these words.
I want the suppression of the classes as much in the economic and social relations as political. Let Mr. Chaudey and Mr. Fribourg, who seem today to be united bythe same feeling of aversion for that poor equality, allow me to say to them that equality, proclaimed in 1793, has been one of the greatest conquests of the French Revolution. Despite all the reactions which have arrived since, that great principle has triumphed in the political economy of Europe. In the most advanced countries, it is called the equality of politic rights; in the other countries, civil equality—equality before the law. No country in Europe would dare to openly proclaim today the principle of political inequality.
But the history of the revolution itself and that of the seventy-five years that have passed since, we prove that political equality without economic equality is a lie. You would proclaim in vain the equality of political rights, as long as society remains split by its economic organization into socially different layers—that equality will be nothing but a fiction. For it to become a reality, the economic causes of that class difference would have to disappear—it would require the abolition of the right of inheritance, which is the permanent source of all social inequalities. It would be necessary that society, no longer being divided into different classes, presents a homogenous whole—an organization created by liberty according to justice, and in which there would no longer be the shadow of that fatal separation of men into two principal classes: that which is called the intelligent class and the class of workers;—the one representing domination and the right of command, and the other eternal submission. All men must be at the same time intelligent and hard-working, so that no one can live any longer on the labor of another and that all can and must also live as much from the labor of their heads as from that of their arms. Then, Gentlemen, but only then, equality and political liberty will become a truth.
Here then is what we understand by these words: “the equalization of the classes.” It would perhaps have been better to say suppression of the classes, the unification of society by the abolition of economic and social inequality. But we have also demanded the equalization of the individuals, and it is there especially that we attract all the thunderbolts of outraged eloquence from our adversaries. One has made use of that part of our proposition to prove in a conclusive manner that we are nothing but communists. And in order to prove the absurdity of our system, one has had recourse to arguments as witty as new. One orator, doubtless carried away by the energy of his indignation, has even wanted to compare his stature to mine.
Allow me, Gentlemen, to pose this question I a more serious manner. Do I need to tell you that it is not a question at first of the natural, physiological, ethnographic difference that exists between individuals, but of the social difference, that is produced by the economic organization of society? Give to all the children, from their birth, the same means of maintenance, education, and instruction; give then to all the men thus raised the same social milieu, the same means of earning their living by their own labor, and you will see then that many of these differences, that we believe to be natural differences, will disappear because they are nothing but the effect of an unequal division of the conditions of intellectual and physical development—of the conditions of life
Man, Gentlemen, like everything that lives and breathes in the world, is not a creation of his own will, good or bad, for that same will, as well as his intelligence, is nothing but products—a result created by the cooperation of many natural and social causes. Correct nature by society, equalize as much as possible the conditions of development and labor for all, and you would have destroyed much nonsense, many crimes, many evils. When all have received roughly the same education and the same instruction, when all will be obliged by the very of things to associate in order to work and to work in order to live; when labor, recognized as the true foundation of all social organization, will become the object of public respect, the men of ill will, the parasites, and the fools diminish noticeably and will end by being considered and treated as sick. It is not just me, monsieurChaudey, it is your master Proudhon who has said it.
Finally, Gentlemen, I repeat it once more: it is not a question at this moment of debating the very basis of the social question, we must only decided if we want equality, yes or no? That is what I had to point out to you.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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César De Paepe, “To the Anti-Collectivists” (1868)

Thanks to a dialectics put in the service of a method more often metaphysical than scientific (which it is necessary to avoid confusing with the historical and objective method of Karl Marx), Proudhon has discovered in the social world some laws that observation confirms more from day to day; it is, however, incontestable that hypothesis still plays an infinitely more considerable role in the works of that thinker and that often he has concluded a priori or from insufficient observations: witness the conclusions of his last works relative to the social role of strikes and trades-unions, and those relative to the tendencies of modern production towards association and thus towards the collective appropriation of land and the large instruments of labor, two phenomena of which Proudhon has misunderstood the immense scope from the point of view of the organization of the future, and that he condemned even in the name of reason and logic, while Marx, already well before 1848, in the name of observation and history, considers them the two principal elements of the solution of the social problem. The majority of the writers of Liberté have made the defects of Proudhon their own by sacrificing, so to speak absolutely, his scientific side.
The article of Liberté of September 26, titled Conclusion, is a striking example of these “conclusions [that are] a priori or based on insufficient observations.” Liberté has been informed, by us, as well as by l’Egalité of Geneva, that the account of the Congress of Basel that it published from the Réveil, contained many errors, and that in particular the arguments of the collectivists were presented in a more or less false light; son observation of what is called the “Basel Congress” can thus only be insufficient, since it ignores in large part the reasons which have pushed the majority of the Congress to vote in favor of collective property. Well, despite that insufficiency of observations, Liberté nonetheless presents its “conclusion” which thus can only be a conclusion a priori. That “conclusion” is a work of high fantasy, where shines a disdain for the observation of reality, which is equaled only by the puerile pretention of imposing on humanity purely subjective laws, such as the antinomic laws of Capital and Property, born in the brain of their author and destined to never extend their real existence outside of that small, fantastic and imaginary world.
All the reasoning of the anti-collectivists has for point of departure a hypothesis! The very social necessities which have formerly demanded the constitution of individual property, still demand and will doubtless always demand the support of individual property. That support is fatal; the force of things demands it; divisions or successions parcel out the soil, it is true; but the drawbacks of parceling will not lead to association, to the putting-in-common of the parcels, etc.; that is to say: the soil tends to be divided more and more, and we conclude from it that there may be a natural limit to this division. Why do you conclude that? By what right, on what basis, do you claim that individual property in land is alone practical? Do you know another means of remedying the division, to the parceling out of the soil, but the reunification of the parcels, whether that reunification is made for the profit of a single proprietor who makes the other proprietors of parcels his waged workers (a system that we all recognize as contrary to the aspirations of our era), or for the profit of several by means of co-proprietorship, that is a sort of collective property, however large or narrow this co-property may be? Is there in agriculture itself, that is to say, independent of the effects produced in France and in some adjacent countries by the sale of national properties and the law regarding successions,—two political, extra-economic facts.—Is there in agricultural industry the least tendency to purely individual labor? Is that this industry like the others, does not demand the application of the collective force, the division of functions, the use of machines, production on a grand scale and with unity? Are not the harvest, haymaking, and grape-picking the types par excellence of collective labor?
You want the contrary, and that is why, taking your wish for a positive tendency of society, you misread the facts, and believe that the natural evolution is diametrically opposed to what it is in reality; and that idea well-fixed in your brain, that the natural evolution conforms to your desires, you go so far as to reject revolution which is the thoughtful and intelligent intervention of men to hasten the dénouement of a natural evolution, even, if need be, putting force in the service of the new ideas and not, as you describe it, the violent intervention of a higher and foreign will in society.
And you call yourself revolutionaries! Alas! Your maxims and your method are borrowed from the code of the bourgeois economists, who have also not wanted the intervention of men in the blind play of economic laws, and laugh at the spontaneous and collective efforts of the workers to hasten the period of necessary modifications; laissez faire, laissez passer.
You think that Society has the right to maintain individual property of the soil and to oppose itself to its return to collective property.
In the name of what society do you speak? And if it has the right to do it, does it have the power? If at a given moment it can intervene in a revolutionary manner to regulate its own affairs and make all at once a great step forward towards its natural destinies, can it overturn the natural order of things? Society has only one right, which is to conform to its own laws, to the laws of its historic development; to hasten or slow the natural tendencies that follow the facts, by modifying in one sense or another certain institutions, such is the power of the body of individuals who make up society at a given moment, a power in which each participates to a certain degree according to their greater or lesser influence on their contemporaries. When the anti-collectivist Proudhonians have proved to us that their individual property without rent either to the profit of individuals, or to the profit of society as a whole, that their leveling of the land-rent, is an observable phenomenon; when they have studied and classified the relations of that force that we have thus far encountered among the proprietarian phenomena; when they have classified and generalized these relations in order to draw some laws from them, we will bow before these laws, unless we can neutralize them by contrary laws; until then were are right to say that the rent is a natural fact resulting from the unequal fertility of the soil, an inequality that one can, certainly, diminish by means of certain agronomical procedures, irrigation, rotations, enrichments, etc., but that one can never level because they result from forces placed beyond the power of man, such as the exposure of a plot of land to the south or north, the vicinity of mountains, waters, forests, etc.; until then we will be right to say that their system is only an abstraction and that they are themselves only abstractors of quintessence.
It is otherwise with collective property, that is an observable phenomenon. Mr. Bakunin has cited the example of the Russian commune, and Mr. Cowel-Stepney a tribe of Indians. Certainly, the Russian commune is not observable in France, Belgium, Italy or England; nor are we Indians, and we do not live in the United States. But what does that prove? If collective property is not an observable fact among us today, does that demonstrate that it does not conform to the most imperious social necessities, those most generally felt, and that consequently it will not be observable tomorrow. — In England, is there the least tendency towards our system of small farmer-proprietors; is there not actually, in fact, a tendency to the greatest concentration of property in land between an always more restricted number of landlords; and doesn’t that very present tendency already produce today a contrary tendency in minds that demand the return of the soil to collective property, a demand which tomorrow some minds will transform into deeds, because it alone conforms to the social necessities that, on the one hand, want large-scale agricultural production and, on the other, demand equality between men. It is certain that the English people, on the day when they have worn out the system of large individual property, can only choose between collective property with large-scale agricultural production, or small-scale property with small-scale production, and that this last alternative is hardly probable in a country where they are accustomed to all the advantages of large-scale agriculture. And if in Belgium and France, the division still continue in many places, don’t we already see certain facts that indicate that the period of division nears its end and that those of association and collectivism will commence? These facts are, on one hand, cooperative association, the pooling of the parcels recognized as useful by the élite among our cultivators, and on the other the application of the public company to agricultural industry. For the first case, let us cite this passage from the January 17, 1869 issue of the Journal de la Société agricole du Brabant the editors of which are certainly not complicit with the laborers of the Basel Congress!
“The possible situation of the agricultural populations has awakened the concern of the governments and the economists in recent years. But the remedies that they have proposed, if they tend to attenuate the evils, cannot always make them disappear entirely. It is in freely formed association that must be found the most effective means of combating the drawbacks that we have highlighted. The association would aim to pool capital as well as land, which by their situation are particularly suitable to make up a single operation. Then it could carry out a division of labors that would be set out again between the different chiefs of the operation, in conformity with the special aptitudes of each of them.
“Let us arrange ourselves; and since it is impossible to make a suitable division of the lands that we use, the good lands being found on your side, the poor ones on mine, let us work them all in common. In this way we will avoid competition, we could distribute the rotation in a manner to gather in a single bloc all the homogenous crops. It would be possible for us to employ those machines of recent invention nouvelle that function with so much speed and economy; the transportation of fertilized and return of the harvest would be must easier; and we would no longer be forced to race constantly from one parcel to another, from one under of the commune to the opposite extremity.”
For the second case, we will content ourselves with citing the public companies of the vineyards in France, and notably the one that spent 12 million on small properties in the Gironde and transformed them into one great rural operation (see the Rive Gauche for June 3, 1866).
Just as in manufacturing industry we see the small boss or artisan who labors alone and directly for their clientele, give way to cooperative associations of laborers or associations of capitalists, public or joint-stock companies, we can expect to see the small farming boss and the small proprietor, cultivating their own land, give way to the cooperative association of the rural laborers of to the public agricultural company. That is to say that here again, although by other means that in England, the new tendencies that we can already see here and there push towards a system of collective property and agriculture, rather than the system of the individual possessing proprietor, dreamed of by Liberté. Certainly, these forms of collectives property are not those of the collectivism of the Basel Congress, — the earth belonging to the whole of humanity — but they can be an movement towards the collective appropriation of the soil by society, while certainly they are not an movement towards individual property. All this only proves that, although everywhere the earth must be the collective property of society, the solution does not seem as simple to the collectivists as one might say, and that the means of transition between that collective property and present property seem to them to differ necessarily according to the particular constitution of property in land in the different regions.
Whatever the case, a little earlier or a little later, depending on the country, the phenomena of agricultural industry and property in land unfold before our eyes according to the same law as those of manufacturing industry and capital, and form with those two series of analogous, if not completely identical facts. That analogy is one of extreme importance, and Liberté has not even glimpsed it; if it had done so, perhaps it would not have so light, with the stroke of a pen, abolished an economic phenomenon.
First series of phenomena. The profits collected by capital in the form of dividends, interest, profits, bribes, etc. increase more and more; labor’s portion decreases, for if the nominal wage has increase for certain workers, the real wage has diminished. Capital tends to centralize, manufacturing work to become collective.
Second series of phenomena. The revenue of the agricultural proprietor increases; the wage of the agricultural workers decreases, although their nominal wage has generally increased. Agricultural property, which tends to centralize in certain countries, also tends to parcel out in others; but even in these latter countries a new tendency begins to show itself beside the other: agricultural property, in order to meet new needs, will centralize, and agricultural labor, by the use of machines, the division of functions, the application of the theory of crop rotation, tends to become collective in all its parts, labor, sowing, reaping, hoeing, clearing, etc., as it has always been, more or less, in some of its essential parts, harvest, haymaking, etc.
Thus, we are in presence of two orders of facts which may seem contradictory at first, butwhich, after a little deeper analysis, appear to follow the same course.
We do not claim to have resolved here, in a few lines, the problem of the collectivity of the soil; we have simple shown:
l° That the observation of actual facts, of present tendencies, as well as the observation of social necessities that these facts create, alone can lead to solutions.
That contraryto the opinions of Liberté, agricultural property, like all capital (machines, workshops, factories, mines, teamsters, etc.) tends to become collective.
3° That a rational comparison of laws, contradictory in appearance, but analogous at base, such as the laws of agricultural property and capital, is often enough to lead to the solution of social problems.
4° That not only is the system of individual property without rent, by the equalization of land, an impossible solution, but that, if it was possible, it would not be not a plausible solution.
The inequality of the land-rent of the individuals brought to the same level by the attribution of all the rent to the social collectivity, the application of scientific processes to agriculture, the transformation of the landlord and tenant, agricultural employers, cowhands, and all the small proprietors—the transformation of everyone into co-proprietors of the soil and into co-workers accomplished, the mutualists can reassure themselves, man will no longer be exploited by man, no more by the individual than by the human collectivity, given that society will deduct nothing from the labor of the farmers, but will be content to use the soil in conformity with the general interests and to allocate the rent, which is not the fruit of the individual labor of the cultivators, but rather the combined result of the forces of nature and of society.
[1] The Report presented by de Paepe to the Congress of Brussels and of Basel on collective property, that we have published in our last number raised some objections of Proudhonian inspiration that saw the light in Victor Arnould’s Liberté. De Paepe responded triumphantly in l’lnternationale. We give here the two most characteristic replies of the collectivist writer. “Aux anti-collectivistes” and “Réponse d’un collectiviste à un mutuelliste,” appeared in l’Internationale of October 10 and November 14, 1869.
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Speech of the citizen Bakunin to a public assembly of foreign socialists (1868)

Speech of the citizen Bakunin to a
public assembly of foreign socialists
November 23, 1868
[After saying that the Assembly had not only gathered to pay homage to the memory of the brave republican Baudin, murdered by the brigands of December, but also to express its devotion to the principles of the democratic and social Republic, the citizen Bakunin expressed himself in these terms:]
We are socialists, [he said,] that is to say that we all want:
Equality of political, economic and social conditions for all;
Equality of the means of support, education, and instruction for all children of both sexes-and equality of the means of labor for all grown individuals, including women.
We want social justice and real liberty for each human being through the solidarity of all;
We want the Fraternity of all the human beings on the earth, without distinction of nations, color and race. We want peace to reign on the earth, based on reason illuminated by science, founded on humane justice, that is on liberty in equality an on universal brotherhood.
But if we desire the ends, we must desire the means. We must then desire the abolition of all political borders created by the violence of the States. We want the suppression of the State,-their disappearance in the free and universal organization of human society.
Whoever speaks of the State, speaks of fortresses—speaks of the violent separation of one portion of humanity from all the other portions, equally imprisoned in other State, they speak of the rivalry, competition and perpetual war of the States; they speak of conquest, dispossession and patriotic and glorious massacre, both within and without: legalized and regulate oppression and exploitation of the labor of the people, for the profit of a dominant minority.
The passion corresponding to this double manifestation of the States is called patriotism. We want no more patriotism, because we want justice, human rights and human fraternity.
Whoever speaks of the State, speaks of privilege. The privilege par excellence, which serves as the foundation of all the political and social injustices, is individually hereditary property.
The elements of this property are, first, itspoint of departure, its historical and actual basis: conquest, a bloody andbrutal fact, a crime against humanity and justice-anytheft or massacre, and most often both at once; then, the consecration of the violent act accomplishedby religion-the divinity always having taken the side of the ablest and strongest; from this consecration has resulted the legal right, injustice petrified, systematizedand legalized.-The ensemble of all that is called-the political State.
So we want the abolition of that State, because it has no other mission than to protect individual property; and we want the abolition of individual property, because as long as it exists, there will necessarily be inequality. Society will remain divided into two portions, one of which-the dominant and exploiting minority-will be composed of all the fortunate of the earth, born into easy, thanks to that law of inheritance, and receiving from society education, instruction, and all the material and intellectual, political and social means of continuing that work of exploitation. The other portion encompasses the masses of the people, all those millions of laborers who only inherit the poverty and forced ignorance of their fathers and who will be eternally condemned to an excessive labor that, giving them barely enough to live, will increase the well-being, luxury and civilization of the bourgeois.
In the place of individual property, we desire collective property, and in the place of States, we desire the more and more universal organization of human society, by the free federation of the productive, industrial and agricultural associations. In the place of a social organization founded on privilege and on the politics of the States, we desire one that will have no other basis than labor, than the fair and fraternal division of all the products of labor.
[The citizen Bakunin spoke then of the International Workingmen’s Association.] That Association, [he said,] born, only four years ago, has already become a great power, recognized as such by all the political men of Europe. In forming this, it had deliberately eliminated from its program all political questions, leaving politics-that manifestation of the life of the States, of the privileged of the States-to the bourgeois. As or itself, it at first only posited a single aim: The emancipation of the laborers of all countries from the yoke of capital.
A long and harsh experience had demonstrated to the founders of the Association that this aim could only be achieved by the combined efforts, by the alliance and by the solidarity of the workers of all countries; economic science come from its side to confirm it in that conviction, by demonstrating to it the universality of the social question, that no country, as advanced and extended as it might be, will be able to resolve it alone, because as long as the competition between States exists, there will be a necessary and permanent competition between classes and individuals; but that competition is war, is exploitation and mutual oppression.
The International Association, deliberately and voluntarily foreign to all politics, thus only takes a single step, accomplished a single act, in view of the great question of the emancipation of all the workers in the world. But this act and that step are immense; they contain the whole revolution.
By proclaiming the right of the workers to the joint use of all the capital produced by the combined labor of past generations, it has proclaimed the fall not of capital, but of the monopolization of capital—the fall of individual property, of the right of inheritance—the hereditary right to the exploitation of the work of others. It has proclaimed collective property.
By proclaiming the solidarity of the laborers of all countries, it has smashed the borders and began the destruction of the States.-It has killed patriotism, that passion-that self-interested virtue of the bourgeois.
By the very fact of its organization and its existence, it has abolished, denied the existence of all these numberless homelands that, from the point of view of the aristocratic and bourgeois politics still divides Europe and the world today—so that for all the workers there now remains nothing more than two foreign countries in the world, two homelands that, divided by their principles, aspirations and interests, will soon make war to the death
One is called capital, individual property, monopoly, exploitation, and oppression—in a word, it is the reaction.
The other, labor, human right, liberty for all, equality for all, justice and fraternity—the Revolution.
Isn’t that, citizens, what we call the social question? Isn’t that the principle that must insure the triumph of the democratic and social republic.
That is, after the condemnation of all bourgeois politics, the true, unique politics of the International Workingman’s Association.
Thus, while declaring itself foreign to our politics, this great association has accomplished the greatest political act and fact of our days.It has inaugurated the policy of the people: that of the negation of individuallyhereditary property and of the the destruction of the States.
I return to Baudin.—He was a brave citizen.—He died as only heroes die, without hope of triumph, but faithful to the last moment to his faith.—He went to seek death, after vainly trying to raise the people against the butchers of December.
The workers did not want to follow him Were they wrong or right? Well, citizens, I think that they were right and wrong at the same time.
They were rightly against that reactionary assembly that Napoleon, by his coup d’état, had dissolved. For we must not always speak of the victims of December,—let us also speak of those of June.
Here especially, in the midst of this entirely popular assembly, we should not forget those victims of the people’s cause—those thousands of braves who were massacred by the bourgeois national guards, because they had demanded the right of the people—the means of life and popular liberty.—The bourgeois ferocity of June prepared the praetorian ferocity of December. Cavaignac was the precursor of Napoléon.
  Well, that national assembly that was then called the constituent assembly,—after the massacres of June, it had greeted General Cavaignac as the savior of civilization, that is, of the bourgeoisie—as its savior; it has cursed and slandered the victims and crowned the executioner with laurels. Since all its measures, all the law that it promulgated, had only a single aim: that of destroying one by one all the liberties that the people had won in February.—That is why the workers in their turn were right, a thousand times right, do not rise up for the preservation of that reactionary and bourgeois assembly as well as the entirely reactionary and bourgeois republic created by that assembly.
But if the workers were right in relation to it, they were a thousand times wrong with relation to themselves. They must rise up against the tyrant, not in the name of the bourgeois republic, but in the name of the democratic and social republic,—in the name of the life, bread and liberty of the people. For there is no more monstrous illusion, nor any more monstrous alliance than that of the working people with dictatorship, whatever it may be—but especially with military dictatorship.
Seventeen years of oppression and degradation have demonstrated that elementary truth to the people.They will no longer seek their salvation inthe power of a crowned charlatan or a fortunate criminal. It will soon break, I hope, the power of the chassepots, bayonets andsabre.But it will break them, not for the middle class, but for itself.
Second speech.
Citizens, we come to render a unanimous homage to the memory of a hero of liberty—to the memory of Baudin, murdered by the drunken, salaried heroes of December. Allow me now to fulfill another duty. I am Russian, and as such I must recall to you another Baudin, a great collective Baudin, Poland.
Murdered a hundred years ago by three crowned brigands—the monarchs of the Russian Empire, the kingdom of Prussia and the Austrian Empire—this immortal Baudin, Poland, is constantly reborn, and always with a broader and more popular program. It is not dead; it always returns to life at the moment when it is thought to be buried—and it will triumph.
An assembly of the people is not permitted to disperse, before shouting: “Long live Poland, and death and shame to its enemies.”
La Liberté, December 5, 1868, Geneva
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

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Filed under 1868, International Workingmen's Association, La Liberté, Mikhail Bakunin, speeches