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Quotes from General Idea of t To give an exact idea of his theory, I cannot do better than compare it with a commercial agreement, in which the names of the parties, the nature and value of the goods, products and services involved, the conditions of quality, delivery, price, reimbursement, everything in fact which constitutes the material of contracts, is omitted, and nothing is mentioned but penalties and jurisdictions. But before holding forth about the sovereign and the prince, about the policeman and the judge, tell me first what is my share of the bargain?
You expect me to sign an agreement in virtue of which I may be prosecuted for a thousand transgressions, by municipal, rural, river and forest police, handed over to tribunals, judged, condemned for damage, cheating, swindling, theft, bankruptcy, robbery, disobedience to the laws of the State, offence to public morals, vagabondage,--and in this agreement I find not a word of either my rights or my obligations, I find only penalties!
Where then in your agreement are my rights and duties? What have I promised to my fellow citizens? What have they promised to me? Show it to me, for without that, your penalties are but excesses of power, your law-controlled State a flagrant usurpation, your police, your judgment and your executions so many abuses. You who have so well denied property, who have impeached so eloquently the inequality of conditions among men, what dignity, what heritage, have you for me in your republic, that you should claim the right to judge me, to imprison me, to take my life and honor?
Perfidious declaimer, have you inveighed so loudly against exploiters and tyrants, only to deliver me to them without defence? Welcome back. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. The question is not what you would have done in a former exigency: the question is what you are going to do now, when the conditions are no longer the same. A revolution is an act of sovereign justice, in the order of moral facts, springing out of the necessity of things, and in consequence carrying with it its own justification; and which it is a crime for the statesman to oppose it.
That is the proposition which we have established in our first study. Now the question is to discover whether the idea which stands out as the formula of the revolution is not chimerical; whether its object is real; whether a fancy or popular exaggeration is not mistaken for a serious and just protest. The second proposition therefore which we have to examine is the following:. For if this reason does not exist, if we are fighting for an imaginary cause, if the people are complaining because, as they say, they are too well off, the duty of the magistrate would be simply to undeceive the multitude, whom we have often seen aroused without cause, as the echo responds to one who calls.
In a word, is the occasion for revolution presented at the moment, by the nature of things, by the connection of facts, by the working of institutions, by the advance in needs, by the order of Providence? It should be possible to determine this at a glance. If a long philosophical dissertation were necessary, a cause might exist, but it would be only in the germ, only potentially. To weigh arguments in such a cause would be prophecy, not practical history. To solve this question I will take a rule, as simple as it is decisive, with which the occurrences in past revolutions furnish me.
It is that the motive behind revolutions is not so much the distress felt by the people at a given moment, as the prolongation of this distress, which tends to neutralize and extinguish the good.
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Thus the trial which is instituted by a revolution, and the judgment which later it puts into execution, are related to tendencies rather than to mere facts: society, as it were, paying little attention to principles, and directing its course solely toward ends …. Usually good and evil, pleasure and pain, are inextricably entangled in human dealing. Nevertheless, despite continual oscillations, the good seems to prevail over the evil, and, taking it altogether, there is marked progress toward the better, as far as we can see.
The reasoning of the masses is built upon this idea.
The people is neither optimistic nor pessimistic; it admits the absolute not at all. Let is stay as it believes. Always at each reform, each abuse to be destroyed, each vice to be combated, it confines itself to seeking for something better, something less evil, and works for its own sanctification by labor, by study, by good behavior. Its rule of conduct is therefore: A tendency toward comfort and virtue; it does not revolt until it can see nothing for it but A tendency toward poverty and corruption. Among other reasons for resignation was that it had not been proved that poverty was anything more than the accidental effect of some temporary cause: the people remembered having been much more wretched not very long ago.
The absolute monarchy under Louis XIV could not have appeared to them worse than feudalism. Nor was there any revolution under Louis XV, except in the intellectual realm. The corruption of principles, visible to philosophers, remained hidden from the masses, whose logic never distinguishes an idea from a fact. Popular experience, under Louis XV, was far from being at the level of philosophical criticism.
The nation still supposed that with a well-behaved and honest prince, its ills might have an end. Louis XVI too, was welcomed with fervor; while Turgot, the unbending reformer, was received without sympathy. The support of public opinion was lacking to this great man. In , one might have said that a worthy man, who wanted to bring about reforms peacefully, had been betrayed by the people.
It was not within his power to accomplish the Revolution by action from above without disturbance, I had almost said, without revolutionaries. Fifteen years more of chaos were needed, under a monarch personally irreproachable, to prove to the most thoughtless that the trouble was not accidental but constitutional, that the disorganization was systematic, not fortuitous, and that the situation, instead of improving, was according to the usual fate of institutions, daily growing worse and worse.
The publication of the Red Book in , demonstrated this truth by figures. Then it was that the Revolution became popularized and inevitable. The question which we have taken for the text of this study:— Is there sufficient reason for a revolution in the nineteenth century? Hence, but a few pages will suffice to support the answer which I do not hesitate to point out now. In the task of the Revolution was to destroy and rebuild at the same time.
It had the old rule to abolish but only by producing a new organization, of which the plan and character should be exactly the opposite of the former, according to the revolutionary rule: Every negation implies a subsequent contradictory affirmation.
Of these, the Revolution, with great difficulty, accomplished only the first; the other was entirely forgotten. Hence this impossibility of living, which has oppressed French society for 60 years. The feudal order having been abolished on the night of the 4th of August, and the principles of liberty and civil equality proclaimed, the consequence was that in future society must be organized, not for politics and war, but for work.
What in fact was the feudal organization? It was one entirely military. What is work? The negation of fighting. To abolish feudalism, then, meant to commit ourselves to a perpetual peace, not only foreign but domestic. By this single act, all the old politics between State and State, all the systems of European equilibrium, were abrogated: the same equality, the same independence which the Revolution promised to bring about among individuals, must exist between nation and nation, province and province, city and city …. What was to be organized after the 4th of August was not the Government, inasmuch as in restoring government nothing but the ancient landmarks would be restored; it was the national economy and the balance of interests.
It was evident that the problems of the Revolution lay in erecting everywhere the reign of equality and industry, in place of the feudal order which had been abolished; inasmuch as, by the new principles, birth no longer counted in determining the condition of the citizen, work was all, even property itself was subordinate: inasmuch as, in foreign affairs, the relations of nations among themselves had to be reformed upon the same principles, since civil law, public law and the law of nations are one in principle and sufficient.
The progress in agriculture which was exhibited after the division of the national treasure, the industrial impulse which the nation experienced after the fall of the Empire, the growing interest in all countries since in economic questions, all these go to prove that it was really in the field of political economy that the efforts of the Revolution should be exerted.
This so manifest, so inevitable conclusion from the act of the 4th of August, , was not understood by those who made themselves its interpreters, even up to All their ideas were of politics only. The counter-revolutionary forces aiding, the revolutionary party forced for the moment to place itself on the defensive and to organize itself for war, the nation was again delivered into the hands of the warriors and lawyers.
One might say that nobility, clergy and monarchy had disappeared, only to make way for another governing set of Anglomaniac constitutionaries, classic republicans, militaristic democrats, all infatuated with the Romans and the Spartans, and above all, very much so with themselves; on the other hand, caring but very little for the real needs of the country; which, understanding nothing of what was going on, permitted itself to be half destroyed at their leisure, and finally attached itself to the fortune of a soldier.
To put my thought in one word, however little edifying it may seem, the revolutionaries failed in their mission after the fall of the Bastille, as they have failed since the abdication of Louis Philippe, and for the same reasons: the total lack of economic ideas, their prejudice in favor of government, and the distrust of the lower classes which they harbored. The principle of centralization, widely applied by the Committee of Public Safety, passed into dogma with the Jacobins, who transmitted it to the Empire, and to the governments that followed it.
This is the unfortunate tradition which, in , determined the retrograde movement of the Provisory Government, and which still constitutes the whole of the science which nourishes the politics of the republican party. Thus the economic organization called for as a necessary consequence of the complete abolition of feudalism, left without guidance from the first day, politics taking the place of industry in the minds of everybody, Quesnay and Adam Smith giving way to Rousseau and Montesquieu; it necessarily followed that the new society, scarcely conceived, should remain in embryo; that, instead of developing according to economic laws, it should languish in constitutionalism, that in place of the orderly condition which is characteristic of it, it should exhibit everywhere systematic corruption and legal inefficiency; finally, that the power which is the expression of this society, reproducing with the most scrupulous fidelity the antinomy of its principles, should find itself continually in the position of fighting with the people and the people in continual need of attacking power.
That which for sixty years we have had, is but a superficial, factitious order, hardly concealing the most frightful chaos and demoralization. We are not in the habit of looking so long beforehand for the causes of social disturbances and revolutions. Above all, economic questions are repugnant to us.
Nevertheless we must understand that outside the sphere of parliamentarism, as sterile as it is absorbing, there is another field incomparably vaster, in which our destiny is worked out; that beyond these political phantoms whose forms capture our imagination, there are the phenomena of social economy, which, by their harmony or discord, produce all the good and ill of society. Will the reader deign to follow me for a quarter of an hour among the broad considerations into which I am obliged to enter?
That done, I promise to come back to politics. If these forces are held in equilibrium, subject to the laws which are proper to them, and which do not depend in any way upon the arbitrary will of man, Labor can be organized, and comfort for all guaranteed. If, on the other hand, they are left without direction and without counterpoise, Labor is in a condition of chaos; the useful effects of the economic forces is mingled with an equal quantity of injurious effects; the deficit balances the profit; Society, in so far as it is the theatre, the agent, or the subject of production, circulation, and consumption, is in a condition of increasing suffering.
Up to now, it does not appear that order in a society can be conceived except under one of these two forms, the political and the industrial; between which, moreover, there is fundamental contradiction. The chaos of industrial forces, the struggle which they maintain with the government system, which is the only obstacle to their organization, and which they cannot reconcile themselves with nor merge themselves in, is the real, profound cause of the unrest which disturbs French society, and which was aggravated during the second half of the reign of Louis Philippe.
Seven years ago, I filled two octavo volumes with the story of these disturbances, and of the terrible conflicts which spring from them. This work, which remained unanswered by the economists, was received no more favorably by the Social-Democracy. I permit myself to make this remark, merely to show by my own experience how little favor researches in political economy obtain, how little revolutionary therefore is our epoch. I shall limit myself to recalling very briefly some of the most general facts, in order to give the reader a glimpse of this order of forces and phenomena, which has been hidden from all eyes until now, and which alone can put an end to the governmental drama.
It consists of the distribution of the hand work of a given industry in such a manner that each person performs always the same operation, or a small number of operations, so that the product, instead of being the integral product of one workman, is the joint product of a large number. According to Adam Smith, who first demonstrated this law scientifically, and all the other economists, the division of labor is the most powerful lever of modern industry. To it principally must be attributed the superiority of civilized peoples to savage peoples. Without division of labor, the use of machines would not have gone beyond the most ancient and most common utensils: the miracles of machinery and of steam would never have been revealed to us; progress would have been closed to society; the French Revolution itself, lacking an outlet, would have been but a sterile revolt; it could have accomplished nothing.
But, on the other hand, by division of labor, the product of labor mounts to tenfold, a hundredfold, political economy rises to the height of a philosophy, the intellectual level of nations is continually raised. The first thing that should attract the attention of the legislator is the separation of industrial functions—the division of labor—in a society founded upon hatred of the feudal and warlike order, and destined in consequence to organize itself for work and peace. It was not done thus. This economic force was left to all the overturns caused by chance and by interest.
The division of labor, becoming always more minute, and remaining without counterpoise, the workman has been given [over] to a more and more degrading subjection to machinery. That is the effect of the division of labor when it is applied as practiced in our days, not only to make industry incomparably more productive, but at the same time to deprive the worker, in mind and body, of all the wealth which it creates for the capitalist and the speculator. Here is how an observer, who is not suspected of sympathy with labor, M. In proportion to the more complete application of the principle of the division of labor, the workman becomes weaker, more limited and more dependent.
A man who all his life has performed but one operation certainly learns to execute it more quickly and more skillfully than another; but at the same time he becomes less capable of every other operation, whether physical or intellectual; his other faculties are extinguished, and degeneration results in him, considered as an individual. It is a sad account to offer of himself that he has never made more than the twenty-sixth part of a pin… In result it may be said that the division of labor is a skilful mode of employing the power of a man; that it adds prodigiously to the products of a society; but that it subtracts something from the capacity of each man taken individually.
All the economists are in accord as to this fact, one of the most serious which the science has to announce; and, if they do not insist upon it with the vehemence which they habitually use in their polemics, it must be said, to the shame of the human mind, that it is because they cannot believe that this perversion of the greatest of economic forces can be avoided. So the greater the division of labor and the power of machines, the less the intelligence and skill of hand of the worker.
But the more the value of the worker falls and the demand for labor diminishes, the lower are wages and the greater is poverty. And it is not a few hundreds of men but millions, who are the victims of this economic perturbation. In England, through the division of labor and the power of machinery, the number of workmen has been observed to diminish by a third ,by a half, by three-quarters, by five-sixths; and the wages decreasing in like proportion, fall from 60 cents a day to 10 cents and 6 cents.
Throughout entire provinces the proprietors have driven out useless mouths. Everywhere first women, then children, have taken the place of men in manufacture. Consumption being unable to keep pace with production among an impoverished people, the latter is obliged to wait; and regular out-of-work periods are the result; of six weeks, three months and six months out of each year. Statistics of these periods of idleness by Parisian workmen have recently been published by one of them, Pierre Vincard; the details are heartrending.
The smallness of the wages being in proportion to the time of idleness, the conclusion is reached that certain workwomen who earn 20 cents a day, must live on 10, because they are idle for six months. This is the rule to which a population of , in Paris must submit. And the situation of the class of working women everywhere throughout the Republic may be judged from this sample.
Philanthropic conservatives, admirers of ancient customs, charge the industrial system with this anomaly. They want to go back to the feudal-farming period. I say that it is not industry that is at fault, but economic chaos: I maintain that the principle has been distorted, that there is disorganization of forces, and that to this we must attribute the fatal tendency with which society is carried away.
Competition , next to the division of labor, is one of the most powerful factors of industry; and at the same time one of the most valuable guaranties. Partly for the sake of it, the first revolution was brought about. Competition is moreover the law of the market, the spice of the trade, the salt of labor. Yet competition, lacking legal forms and superior regulating intelligence, has been perverted in turn, like the division of labor. In it, as in the latter, there is perversion of principle, chaos and a tendency toward evil.
This will appear beyond doubt if we remember that of the thirty-six million souls who compose the French nation, at least ten millions are wage workers, to whom competition is forbidden, for whom there is nothing but to struggle among themselves for their meager stipend. The result is that competition, as Rossi, Blanqui, and a host of others have recognized, instead of democratizing industry, aiding the workman, guaranteeing the honesty of trade, has ended in building up a mercantile and land aristocracy, a thousand times more rapacious than the old aristocracy of the nobility.
Through competition all the profits of production go to capital; the consumer, without suspecting the frauds of commerce, is fleeced by the speculator, and the condition of the workers is made more and more precarious. Speaking of this, Eugene Buret says: I assert that the working class is turned over, body and soul, to the sweet will of industry.
It was recently seen how little free competition could do for the people, and how illusory it is as a guaranty with us at present, when the Prefect of Police, yielding to the general demand, authorized the sale of meat at auction. Nothing less than all the energy the people could muster, aided by governmental power, could overcome the monopoly of the butchers.
Accuse human nature, say the economists, do not accuse competition. Very well, I will not accuse competition: I will only remark that human nature does not remedy one evil by another, and ask how it has mistaken its path. Competition ought to make us more and more equal and free; and instead it subordinates us one to the other, and makes the worker more and more a slave!
This is a perversion of the principle, a forgetfulness of the law. These are not mere accidents; they are a whole system of misfortunes. Pity is expressed for those who work in dangerous or unwholesome occupations: it is desired that civilization should do without their services, out of compassion for their lot. These sad occurrences, inherent in certain occupations, are nothing in comparison with the scourge of economic chaos. Of all economic forces, the most vital, in a society reconstructed for industry by revolution, is credit. What did it not do to win over the unmanageable Louis XVI?
What did it not pardon in Louis Philippe? The peasant also knows it: of the whole of politics, he, like the business man, understands only these two things, taxes and interest. As for the working class, so marvelously fitted for progress, such is the ignorance in which it has been kept as to the true cause of its sufferings, that it is hardly since February that it has begun to stammer the word, credit; and to see in this principle the most powerful of revolutionary forces. In a nation devoted to labor, credit is what blood is to an animal, the means of nutrition, life itself.
It cannot be interrupted without danger to the social body. If there is a single institution which should have appealed before all others to our legislators, after the abolition of feudal privileges and the leveling of classes, assuredly it is credit. Yet not one of our pompous declarations of right, not one of our constitutions, so long drawn out, not one of these has mentioned it at all. Credit, like the division of labor, the use of machinery and competition, has been left to itself; even the financial power, far greater than that of the executive, legislative and judicial, has never had the honor of mention in our various charters.
Handed over by a decree of the Empire of the 23rd of April, , to a company of revenue farmers, it has remained until now in the condition of a hidden power: hardly anything can be found relating to it, except a law of , fixing the rate of interest at five per cent. After the Revolution as before it, credit got along as best it could; or rather, as it pleased the largest holders of coin. It is only fair to say that the Government, while sacrificing the Country, did not spare itself; it treated itself as it treated others: we have nothing against it on this score. In the first place, forestalling and usury being practiced upon coin by preference, coin being at the same time the tool of industrial transactions and the rarest of merchandise, and consequently the safest and most profitable, dealing in money was rapidly concentrated in the hands of a few monopolists, whose fortress is the Bank.
Thanks to the tax imposed by this bankocracy upon all industrial and agricultural industry, property has already been mortgaged for two billion dollars, and the State for more than one billion. The interest paid by the nation for this double indebtedness, with costs, renewals, commissions and discounts on loans included, amounts to at least million dollars.
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Property, fleeced by the Bank, has been obliged to follow the same course in its relations with industry, to become a usurer in turn toward labor; thus farm rent and house rent have reached a prohibitive rate, which drives the cultivator from the field and the workman from his home. So much so that today they whose labor has created everything cannot buy their own products, nor obtain furniture, nor own a habitation, nor ever say: This house, this garden, this vine, this field, are mine.
On the contrary, it is an economic necessity, in the present system of credit, and with the growing disorganization of industrial forces, that the poor man, working harder and harder, should be always poorer, and that the rich man, without working, always richer, as one may easily convince himself by the following. If we may believe the estimate of a skilled economist, M.
Another able economist, M. Chevalier, divided the estimated product of the country by its thirty-six million inhabitants, has found that the income per head per day was an average of 13 cents; and, as from this figure must be deducted enough to pay interest, rent, taxes, and the expenses which they involve, M.
This law of impoverishment is the corollary of the Malthusian law; its fundamental fact may be found in every book of statistics. Some utopians attack competition; others refuse to accept the division of labor and the whole industrial order; the workingmen, in their crass ignorance, blame machinery.
No one, to this day, has thought of denying the utility and legitimacy of credit; nevertheless it is incontestable that the perversion of credit is the most active cause of the poverty of the masses. Were it not for this, the deplorable effects of the division of labor, of the employment of machinery, of competition, would scarcely be felt at all, would not even exist. Is it not evident that the tendency of society is towards poverty, not through the depravity of men, but through the disorder of its own elementary principles?
I will admit that lending wealth, as much as creating it, is a service that merits recompense. When it is a question of the advantage of others, I would rather exceed justice than stop short of it; but that does not alter the facts. I maintain that credit is too dear; that it is with money as it is with meat, which the prefect of police supplies us with today from 3 to 5 cents cheaper than the market stall keepers; as it is with transportation, which would cost 80 per cent less than present rates, if the railroads would permit the country to use their immense resources.
I say that it would be possible, yes, easy, to lower the price of credit from 75 to 90 per cent, without wronging the lenders, and that it depends upon the nation and the State that this should be done. Let there be no argument as to a pretended legal impossibility. It is with the seigniorial rights of capitalists as it was with those of the nobles and monasteries, nothing easier than to abolish them; and, I repeat, that for the safety of property itself they must be abolished.
Can it be believed that, instead of reestablishing the seigniorial courts and the parliaments under other names and other forms, of re-erecting absolutism after baptizing it with the name of the Constitution, of enslaving the provinces as before, under the pretext of unity and centralization, of sacrificing all liberties, by giving them for an inseparable companion a pretended public order , which is but confusion, corruption and brute force—can it be believed, I say, that they would not have welcomed the new order, and completed the Revolution, if their sight had penetrated the organism which their instinct sought, but the state of knowledge and the distractions of the moment did not permit them to conceive?
It is not only that our present society, though having forsaken its principles, tends continually to impoverish the producer, to subordinate labor to capital—a contradiction in itself—but that it tends also to make of workingmen a race of helots, inferior to the caste of free men as of old; and it tends to erect into a political and social dogma the enslavement of the working class and the necessity of its poverty.
From to , according to Chevalier, the annual consumption of wine in Paris was quarts per head: it is now only 95 quarts. Abolish the duties, which with the accessory expenses, amount to at least 6 to 7 cents a quart with the retailer, and the consumption will increase from 95 to ; moreover the vine grower, who does not know what to do with his products, will be able to sell them. But in order to do this, it would be necessary either to reduce the amount of the budget, or to place the taxes upon the rich; and, as neither the one nor the other seems practicable, and besides as it is not well that the workingman should drink too much, seeing that the use of wine is incompatible with the modesty which is becoming in men of that class, the duties will not be lowered, neither will they be raised.
According to Raudot, a writer whose conservative opinions relieve him from any charge of exaggeration, France is reduced to buying annually in foreign markets nine million head of sheep and cattle for the slaughter house, despite the high tariff. Notwithstanding this importation, the quantity of meat offered for sale does not exceed an average of 40 lbs.
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But if we recall that 85 cities, towns and capitals of provinces, with a total population of not more than 3 millions, absorb a quarter of this, the conclusion is reached that he majority of Frenchmen never eat meat; which is in fact true. It is by virtue of this policy that wine and meat are today excluded from the list of articles of first necessity, and that so many people, in France as in Ireland, eat only potatoes, chestnuts, buckwheat or oatmeal.
The effects of this state of affairs are such as might be expected from theory. Everywhere in Europe the constitution of the laborer is weakened.
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In France, the Council of Revision has established that within fifty years the average stature has diminished by half an inch, and this reduction bears chiefly upon suffering humanity, the working class. Afterwards following the diminution of stature and the weakening of health, as well as the excessive destruction of life, this was reduced to 4 feet 10 inches. The average length of life, it is true, has increased, but at the expense of the same laboring class, as is proved, among other proofs, by the tables of mortality of Paris, in which the death rate for the 12th precinct is 1 in 26, while for the 1st precinct it is only 1 in Can it be doubted that there is a tendency toward ill in existing society, at least among the working people?
Does it not seem that society has been made, as Saint-Simon says, not for the amelioration of the people, physically, morally and intellectually, but for their impoverishment depravity, and ignorance? The average number of students received each year by the Polytechnic School is, I believe, According to Chevalier, it would not be exaggeration to say that twenty times as many might be received. But what would our capitalist society do with the graduates which the School would turn out at the end of each school year?
I insist upon this question: What would it do? When the management ordered that only scholars should be received in place of the who could be received, it was because it was not possible for the government, with its still feudal-industrial system, to make proper provision for more than of these young people. Science is not cultivated for the sake of science: one does not study chemistry, integral calculus, analytical geometry, mechanics, in order to become a mechanic or a laborer.
Superabundance of ability, far from being of service to the country and the State, is an inconvenience to them. In order to avoid dangerous upsetting of classes, it is necessary that instruction should be given in proportion to fortune; that is should be slight or none at all for the most numerous and lowest class, moderate for the middle class, superior only for a small number of the well-to-do, destined to represent by their talents the aristocracy whence they sprang….
That is what the Catholic clergy, faithful to its principles, faithful to its feudal traditions, has always understood: the law placing the University and the schools in their hands was only an act of justice. Thus, instruction cannot be universal, and, most of all, it cannot be free, in a still feudal society: that would be nonsense.
It is necessary, in order to maintain the subordination of the masses, to restrain the flowering-forth of ability, to reduce the too numerous and too unmanageable attendance at colleges, to keep in systematic ignorance the millions of workers doomed to repugnant and painful labor, to make use of the instruction by not making use of it, that is to say, by turning it toward the brutalization and exploitation of the lower classes. And, as if the evil as well as the good must have its sanction, pauperism, thus foreseen, provided for, organized, by the economic chaos, has found its own; it is included in the criminal statistics.
Here is the progression for 25 years past, of the number of arrests and of cases prosecuted at the request of the public prosecutor:. When the workingman has been brutalized by the division of labor, by attending machines, by teaching that does not teach; when he has been discouraged by small wages, demoralized by being out of work, famished by monopoly; when he has neither bread nor dough, neither cash nor credit, neither fire nor hearth; then he lies, he thieves, he robs, he assassinates. After having passed through the hands of the plunderers, he passes through those of the dealers in justice.
Is that clear? It is by contrast with error that truth impresses itself upon the understanding. In place of liberty and industrial equality, the Revolution has left us a legacy of authority and political subordination. The State, growing more powerful every day, and endowed with prerogatives and privileges without end, has undertaken to do for our happiness what we might have expected from a very different source. How has it acquitted itself of its task?
What part has the government played during the last fifty years, regardless of the particular form of its organization? What has been its tendency? That is now the question. Up to , statesmen, whether belonging to the ministry or the opposition, whose influence directed public sentiment and governmental action, did not seem to have been aware of the mistaken course of society in what especially concerns the laboring classes.
One would cry out for teachers; another would talk against the premature and immoral employment of children in manufactories. This one would demand the lowering of duties upon salt, beverages and meat; that one called out for the complete abolition of town and custom house tariffs. In the lofty regions of power there was a general impulse toward economic and social questions.
Not a soul saw that, in the present state of our institutions, such reforms were but innocent chimaeras; that, in order to bring them about, nothing less than a new creation was necessary; in other words, a revolution. Since the abdication of Louis Philippe, on the 24th of February, the governmental set, participants in privilege, have changed their opinion. The policy of oppression and impoverishment which they formerly followed without knowing it, I had almost said in spite of themselves, has been accepted by many of them, this time with full knowledge. That which goes on in the social body most secretly, most metaphysically, shows itself in government with a quite military frankness, a fiscal crudity.
A long time ago a statesman said that a government could not exist without a public debt and a large budget. This aphorism, to which the opposition was wrong in taking exception, is the financial expression of the retrograde and subversive tendency of Power: we may now measure the depth of it.
It means that Government, instituted for the guidance of society, is but the reflection. The public debt, for both the State and the towns, which it is fair to regard here as parts of the central authority, is about half of the sum total of mortgages and notes of hand, which weigh down the country: both of these, under the same impulse, have grown along with each other. The tendency is unmistakable. Whither is it leading us? To bankruptcy.
The first regular budget since the Directory is that of Dating from this time, the expenses have continually grown, in the same progression as the debt of the country and of the State. In fifty years, the budget of expenses has almost tripled; the mean annual increase is about five millions.
It would be too foolish to attribute this increase to the incapacity of ministers, to their more or less intelligent and liberal policy, as has been done under each successive change: the Restoration and the monarchy of July, the dynastic opposition and the republican conspiracy. To explain a phenomenon as constant and regular as is the growth of the budget by the inefficiency of men, especially when it has its correlative in the increase of mortgages and of notes of hand, is as absurd as it would be to explain the Oriental plague and the yellow fever by the incapacity of physicians.
It is the hygiene that must be attacked; it is your economic order that calls for reform. Thus the Government, which is called the instrument of order and the guaranty of our liberties, keeps step with society, falls more and more into difficulties, incurs indebtedness, and tends toward bankruptcy. We are about to see how, as society, given over to the disorganization of its elements, tends to reestablish the former castes; the Government, on its side, tends to unite its efforts with this new aristocracy and to complete the oppression of the lower classes.
Solely because the powers of society were left unorganized by the Revolution, there results an inequality of conditions, of which the cause is not, as formerly, the natural inequality of ability; but which finds a new pretext in the accidents of society, and adds, among the claims, the injustices of fortune to the caprices of nature. Privilege, abolished by law, is born again through lack of equilibrium: it is no longer a mere result of divine predestination: it has become a necessity of civilization. Once justified as in the order of nature and of Providence, what does privilege lack in order to assure its triumph definitely?
It has only to make laws, institutions, the Government, in harmony with itself: toward this end it is about to direct all its forces. In the first place, as no law forbids, so far at least as it flows from one of these two sources, nature or accident, privilege may call itself perfectly legal: in this regard it may already claim the respect of citizens and the protection of Government.
What is the principle which rules existing society? Each by himself, each for himself. God and LUCK for all. Privilege, resulting from luck, from a commercial turn, from any of the gambling methods which the chaotic condition of industry furnishes, is then a providential thing, which everybody must respect.
On the other hand, what is the function of Government? To protect and defend each one in his person, his industry, his property. But if by the necessity of things, property, riches, comfort, all go on one side, poverty on the other, it is clear that Government is made for the defense of the rich against the poor. For the perfecting of this state of affairs, it is necessary that what exists should be defined and consecrated by law: that is precisely what Power wants, and what demonstrates from beginning to end our analysis of the budget.
The Provisory Government has made known that the increases of salary of Government functionaries from to amounted to the sum of 13 million dollars. Today the total number of functionaries, according to Raudot, is , in every nine men there is one who lives on the Government, either of the Country or of the towns. Public domain Public domain false false. For other renewal records of publications between — see the University of Pennsylvania copyright records scans.
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