Infomotions, Inc.What is Property? / Proudhon, P.-J. (Pierre-Joseph), 1809-1865

Author: Proudhon, P.-J. (Pierre-Joseph), 1809-1865
Title: What is Property?
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): property; proprietor; labor
Contributor(s): Ryder, Arthur W. [Translator]
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What is Property?

P. J. Proudhon

November, 1995  [Etext #360]

Project Gutenberg's Etext of What is Property? by P. J. Proudhon
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P. J. Proudhon








% 1.  Property as a Natural Right.
% 2.  Occupation as the Title to Property.
% 3.  Civil Law as the Foundation and Sanction of Property.


% 1.  The Land cannot be appropriated.
% 2.  Universal Consent no Justification of Property.
% 3.  Prescription gives no Title to Property.
% 4.  Labor.--That Labor has no Inherent Power to appropriate
         Natural Wealth.
% 5.  That Labor leads to Equality of Property.
% 6.  That in Society all Wages are Equal.
% 7.  That Inequality of Powers is the Necessary Condition of
         Equality of Fortunes.
% 8.  That, from the stand-point of Justice, Labor destroys




Property is the Right of Increase claimed by the Proprietor over
any thing which he has stamped as his own.

Property is Impossible, because it demands Something for Nothing.

Property is Impossible, because, wherever it exists, Production
costs more than it is worth.

Property is Impossible, because, with a given Capital, Production
is proportional to Labor, not to Property.

Property is Impossible, because it is Homicide.

Property is Impossible, because, if it exists, Society devours itself.

Appendix to the Fifth Proposition.

Property is Impossible, because it is the Mother of Tyranny.

Property is Impossible, because, in consuming its Receipts, it
loses them; in hoarding them, it nullifies them; and, in
using them as Capital, it turns them against Production.

Property is Impossible, because its Power of Accumulation is
infinite, and is exercised only over Finite Quantities.

Property is Impossible, because it is powerless against Property.

Property is Impossible, because it is the Negation of Equality.



% 1.  Of the Moral Sense in Man and the Animals.
% 2.  Of the First and Second Degrees of Sociability.
% 3.  Of the Third Degree of Sociability.

% 1.  Of the Causes of our Mistakes.  The Origin of Property.
% 2.  Characteristics of Communism and of Property.
% 3.  Determination of the Third Form of Society.  Conclusion.




The correspondence[1] of P. J. Proudhon, the first volumes of
which we publish to-day, has been collected since his death by
the faithful and intelligent labors of his daughter, aided by a
few friends.  It was incomplete when submitted to Sainte Beuve,
but the portion with which the illustrious academician became
acquainted was sufficient to allow him to estimate it as a whole
with that soundness of judgment which characterized him as a
literary critic.

[1] In the French edition of Proudhon's works, the above sketch
of his life is prefixed to the first volume of his
correspondence, but the translator prefers to insert it here as
the best method of introducing the author to the American public.

He would, however, caution readers against accepting the
biographer's interpretation of the author's views as in any sense
authoritative; advising them, rather, to await the publication of
the remainder of Proudhon's writings, that they may form an
opinion for themselves.--Translator.

In an important work, which his habitual readers certainly have
not forgotten, although death did not allow him to finish it,
Sainte Beuve thus judges the correspondence of the great

"The letters of Proudhon, even outside the circle of his
particular friends, will always be of value; we can always learn
something from them, and here is the proper place to determine
the general character of his correspondence.

"It has always been large, especially since he became so
celebrated; and, to tell the truth, I am persuaded that, in the
future, the correspondence of Proudhon will be his principal,
vital work, and that most of his books will be only accessory to
and corroborative of this.  At any rate, his books can be well
understood only by the aid of his letters and the continual
explanations which he makes to those who consult him in their
doubt, and request him to define more clearly his position.

"There are, among celebrated people, many methods of
correspondence.  There are those to whom letter-writing is a
bore, and who, assailed with questions and compliments, reply in
the greatest haste, solely that the job may be over with, and who
return politeness for politeness, mingling it with more or less
wit.  This kind of correspondence, though coming from celebrated
people, is insignificant and unworthy of collection and

"After those who write letters in performance of a disagreeable
duty, and almost side by side with them in point of
insignificance, I should put those who write in a manner wholly
external, wholly superficial, devoted only to flattery, lavishing
praise like gold, without counting it; and those also who weigh
every word, who reply formally and pompously, with a view to fine
phrases and effects.  They exchange words only, and choose them
solely for their brilliancy and show.  You think it is you,
individually, to whom they speak; but they are addressing
themselves in your person to the four corners of Europe.  Such
letters are empty, and teach as nothing but theatrical execution
and the favorite pose of their writers.

"I will not class among the latter the more prudent and sagacious
authors who, when writing to individuals, keep one eye on
posterity.  We know that many who pursue this method have written
long, finished, charming, flattering, and tolerably natural
letters.  Beranger furnishes us with the best example of this

"Proudhon, however, is a man of entirely different nature and
habits.  In writing, he thinks of nothing but his idea and the
person whom he addresses: ad rem et ad hominem.  A man of
conviction and doctrine, to write does not weary him; to be
questioned does not annoy him.  When approached, he cares only to
know that your motive is not one of futile curiosity, but the
love of truth; he assumes you to be serious, he replies, he
examines your objections, sometimes verbally, sometimes in
writing; for, as he remarks, `if there be some points which
correspondence can never settle, but which can be made clear by
conversation in two minutes, at other times just the opposite is
the case: an objection clearly stated in writing, a doubt well
expressed, which elicits a direct and positive reply, helps
things along more than ten hours of oral intercourse!'  In
writing to you he does not hesitate to treat the subject anew; he
unfolds to you the foundation and superstructure of his thought:
rarely does he confess himself defeated--it is not his way; he
holds to his position, but admits the breaks, the variations, in
short, the EVOLUTION of his mind.  The history of his mind is
in his letters; there it must be sought.

"Proudhon, whoever addresses him, is always ready; he quits the
page of the book on which he is at work to answer you with the
same pen, and that without losing patience, without getting
confused, without sparing or complaining of his ink; he is a
public man, devoted to the propagation of his idea by all
methods, and the best method, with him, is always the present
one, the latest one.  His very handwriting, bold, uniform,
legible, even in the most tiresome passages, betrays no haste, no
hurry to finish.  Each line is accurate: nothing is left to
chance; the punctuation, very correct and a little emphatic and
decided, indicates with precision and delicate distinction all
the links in the chain of his argument.  He is devoted entirely
to you, to his business and yours, while writing to you, and
never to anything else.  All the letters of his which I have seen
are serious: not one is commonplace.

"But at the same time he is not at all artistic or affected; he
does not CONSTRUCT his letters, he does not revise them, he
spends no time in reading them over; we have a first draught,
excellent and clear, a jet from the fountain-head, but that is
all.  The new arguments, which he discovers in support of his
ideas and which opposition suggests to him, are an agreeable
surprise, and shed a light which we should vainly search for even
in his works.  His correspondence differs essentially from his
books, in that it gives you no uneasiness; it places you in the
very heart of the man, explains him to you, and leaves you with
an impression of moral esteem and almost of intellectual
security.  We feel his sincerity.  I know of no one to whom he
can be more fitly compared in this respect than George Sand,
whose correspondence is large, and at the same time full of
sincerity.  His role and his nature correspond.  If he is writing
to a young man who unbosoms himself to him in sceptical anxiety,
to a young woman who asks him to decide delicate questions of
conduct for her, his letter takes the form of a short moral
essay, of a father-confessor's advice.  Has he perchance attended
the theatre (a rare thing for him) to witness one of Ponsart's
comedies, or a drama of Charles Edmond's, he feels bound to give
an account of his impressions to the friend to whom he is
indebted for this pleasure, and his letter becomes a literary and
philosophical criticism, full of sense, and like no other.  His
familiarity is suited to his correspondent; he affects no
rudeness.  The terms of civility or affection which he
employs towards his correspondents are sober, measured,
appropriate to each, and honest in their simplicity and
cordiality.  When he speaks of morals and the family, he seems at
times like the patriarchs of the Bible.  His command of language
is complete, and he never fails to avail himself of it.  Now and
then a coarse word, a few personalities, too bitter and quite
unjust or injurious, will have to be suppressed in printing;
time, however, as it passes away, permits many things and renders
them inoffensive.  Am I right in saying that Proudhon's
correspondence, always substantial, will one day be the most
accessible and attractive portion of his works?"

Almost the whole of Proudhon's real biography is included in his
correspondence.  Up to 1837, the date of the first letter which
we have been able to collect, his life, narrated by Sainte Beuve,
from whom we make numerous extracts, may be summed up in a few

Pierre Joseph Proudhon was born on the 15th of January, 1809, in
a suburb of Besancon, called Mouillere.  His father and mother
were employed in the great brewery belonging to M. Renaud.  His
father, though a cousin of the jurist Proudhon, the celebrated
professor in the faculty of Dijon, was a journeyman brewer.  His
mother, a genuine peasant, was a common servant.  She was an
orderly person of great good sense; and, as they who knew her
say, a superior woman of HEROIC character,--to use the
expression of the venerable M. Weiss, the librarian at Besancon. 
She it was especially that Proudhon resembled: she and his
grandfather Tournesi, the soldier peasant of whom his mother told
him, and whose courageous deeds he has described in his work on
"Justice."  Proudhon, who always felt a great veneration for his
mother Catharine, gave her name to the elder of his daughters. 
In 1814, when Besancon was blockaded, Mouillere, which stood in
front of the walls of the town, was destroyed in the defence
of the place; and Proudhon's father established a cooper's shop
in a suburb of Battant, called Vignerons.  Very honest, but
simple-minded and short-sighted, this cooper, the father of five
children, of whom Pierre Joseph was the eldest, passed his life
in poverty.  At eight years of age, Proudhon either made himself
useful in the house, or tended the cattle out of doors.  No one
should fail to read that beautiful and precious page of his work
on "Justice," in which he describes the rural sports which he
enjoyed when a neatherd.  At the age of twelve, he was a cellar-
boy in an inn.  This, however, did not prevent him from studying.

His mother was greatly aided by M. Renaud, the former owner of
the brewery, who had at that time retired from business, and was
engaged in the education of his children.

Proudhon entered school as a day-scholar in the sixth class.  He
was necessarily irregular in his attendance; domestic cares and
restraints sometimes kept him from his classes.  He succeeded
nevertheless in his studies; he showed great perseverance.  His
family were so poor that they could not afford to furnish him
with books; he was obliged to borrow them from his comrades, and
copy the text of his lessons.  He has himself told us that he was
obliged to leave his wooden shoes outside the door, that he might
not disturb the classes with his noise; and that, having no hat,
he went to school bareheaded.  One day, towards the close of his
studies, on returning from the distribution of the prizes, loaded
with crowns, he found nothing to eat in the house.

"In his eagerness for labor and his thirst for knowledge,
Proudhon," says Sainte Beuve, "was not content with the
instruction of his teachers.  From his twelfth to his fourteenth
year, he was a constant frequenter of the town library. 
One curiosity led to another, and he called for book after book,
sometimes eight or ten at one sitting.  The learned librarian,
the friend and almost the brother of Charles Nodier, M. Weiss,
approached him one day, and said, smiling, `But, my little
friend, what do you wish to do with all these books?'  The child
raised his head, eyed his questioner, and replied:  `What's that
to you?'  And the good M. Weiss remembers it to this day."

Forced to earn his living, Proudhon could not continue his
studies.  He entered a printing-office in Besancon as a proof-
reader.  Becoming, soon after, a compositor, he made a tour of
France in this capacity.  At Toulon, where he found himself
without money and without work, he had a scene with the mayor,
which he describes in his work on "Justice."

Sainte Beuve says that, after his tour of France, his service
book being filled with good certificates, Proudhon was promoted
to the position of foreman.  But he does not tell us, for the
reason that he had no knowledge of a letter written by Fallot, of
which we never heard until six months since, that the printer at
that time contemplated quitting his trade in order to become a

Towards 1829, Fallot, who was a little older than Proudhon, and
who, after having obtained the Suard pension in 1832, died in his
twenty-ninth year, while filling the position of assistant
librarian at the Institute, was charged, Protestant though he
was, with the revisal of a "Life of the Saints," which was
published at Besancon.  The book was in Latin, and Fallot added
some notes which also were in Latin.

"But," says Sainte Beuve, "it happened that some errors escaped
his attention, which Proudhon, then proof-reader in the printing
office, did not fail to point out to him.  Surprised at finding
so good a Latin scholar in a workshop, he desired to make his
acquaintance; and soon there sprung up between them a most
earnest and intimate friendship: a friendship of the intellect
and of the heart."

Addressed to a printer between twenty-two and twenty- three years
of age, and predicting in formal terms his future fame, Fallot's
letter seems to us so interesting that we do not hesitate to
reproduce it entire.

                                "PARIS, December 5, 1831.

"MY DEAR PROUDHON,--YOU have a right to be surprised at, and even
dissatisfied with, my long delay in replying to your kind letter;
I will tell you the cause of it.  It became necessary to forward
an account of your ideas to M. J. de Gray; to hear his
objections, to reply to them, and to await his definitive
response, which reached me but a short time ago; for M. J. is a
sort of financial king, who takes no pains to be punctual in
dealing with poor devils like ourselves.  I, too, am careless in
matters of business; I sometimes push my negligence even to
disorder, and the metaphysical musings which continually occupy
my mind, added to the amusements of Paris, render me the most
incapable man in the world for conducting a negotiation with

"I have M. Jobard's decision; here it is:  In his judgment, you
are too learned and clever for his children; he fears that you
could not accommodate your mind and character to the childish
notions common to their age and station.  In short,  he is what
the world calls a good father; that is, he wants to spoil his
children, and, in order to do this easily, he thinks fit to
retain his present instructor, who is not very learned, but who
takes part in their games and joyous sports with wonderful
facility, who points out the letters of the alphabet to the
little girl, who takes the little boys to mass, and who, no less
obliging than the worthy Abbe P. of our acquaintance, would
readily dance for Madame's amusement.  Such a profession would
not suit you, you who have a free, proud, and manly soul: you are
refused; let us dismiss the matter from our minds.  Perhaps
another time my solicitude will be less unfortunate.  I can only
ask your pardon for having thought of thus disposing of you
almost without consulting you.  I find my excuse in the motives
which guided me; I had in view your well-being and advancement in
the ways of this world.

"I see in your letter, my comrade, through its brilliant
witticisms and beneath the frank and artless gayety with which
you have sprinkled it, a tinge of sadness and despondency which
pains me.  You are unhappy, my friend: your present situation
does not suit you; you cannot remain in it, it was not made for
you, it is beneath you; you ought, by all means, to leave it,
before its injurious influence begins to affect your faculties,
and before you become settled, as they say, in the ways of your
profession, were it possible that such a thing could ever
happen, which I flatly deny.  You are unhappy; you have not yet
entered upon the path which Nature has marked out for you.  But,
faint-hearted soul, is that a cause for despondency?  Ought you
to feel discouraged?  Struggle, morbleu, struggle persistently,
and you will triumph.  J. J. Rousseau groped about for forty
years before his genius was revealed to him.  You are not J. J
Rousseau; but listen: I know not whether I should have divined
the author of "Emile" when he was twenty years of age, supposing
that I had been his contemporary, and had enjoyed the honor of
his acquaintance.  But I have known you, I have loved you, I have
divined your future, if I may venture to say so; for the first
time in my life, I am going to risk a prophecy.  Keep this
letter, read it again fifteen or twenty years hence, perhaps
twenty-five, and if at that time the prediction which I am about
to make has not been fulfilled, burn it as a piece of folly out
of charity and respect for my memory.  This is my prediction: you
will be, Proudhon, in spite of yourself, inevitably, by the fact
of your destiny, a writer, an author; you will be a philosopher;
you will be one of the lights of the century, and your name will
occupy a place in the annals of the nineteenth century, like
those of Gassendi, Descartes, Malebranche, and Bacon in the
seventeenth, and those of Diderot, Montesquieu, Helvetius. 
Locke, Hume, and Holbach in the eighteenth.  Such will be your
lot!  Do now what you will, set type in a printing-office, bring
up children, bury yourself in deep seclusion, seek obscure and
lonely villages, it is all one to me; you cannot escape your
destiny; you cannot divest yourself of your noblest feature, that
active, strong, and inquiring mind, with which you are endowed;
your place in the world has been appointed, and it cannot remain
empty.  Go where you please, I expect you in Paris, talking
philosophy and the doctrines of Plato; you will have to come,
whether you want to or not.  I, who say this to you, must feel
very sure of it in order to be willing to put it upon paper,
since, without reward for my prophetic skill,--to which, I assure
you, I make not the slightest claim,--I run the risk of passing
for a hare-brained fellow, in case I prove to be mistaken: he
plays a bold game who risks his good sense upon his cards, in
return for the very trifling and insignificant merit of having
divined a young man's future.

"When I say that I expect you in Paris, I use only a proverbial
phrase which you must not allow to mislead you as to my projects
and plans.  To reside in Paris is disagreeable to me, very much
so; and when this fine-art fever which possesses me has left me,
I shall abandon the place without regret to seek a more peaceful
residence in a provincial town, provided always the town shall
afford me the means of living, bread, a bed, books, rest,
and solitude.  How I miss, my good Proudhon, that dark, obscure,
smoky chamber in which I dwelt in Besancon, and where we spent so
many pleasant hours in the discussion of philosophy!  Do you
remember it?  But that is now far away.  Will that happy time
ever return?  Shall we one day meet again?  Here my life is
restless, uncertain, precarious, and, what is worse, indolent,
illiterate, and vagrant.  I do no work, I live in idleness, I
ramble about; I do not read, I no longer study; my books are
forsaken; now and then I glance over a few metaphysical works,
and after a days walk through dirty, filthy, crowded streets.  I
lie down with empty head and tired body, to repeat the
performance on the following day.  What is the object of these
walks, you will ask.  I make visits, my friend; I hold interviews
with stupid people.  Then a fit of curiosity seizes me, the least
inquisitive of beings: there are museums, libraries, assemblies,
churches, palaces, gardens, and theatres to visit.  I am fond of
pictures, fond of music, fond of sculpture; all these are
beautiful and good, but they cannot appease hunger, nor take the
place of my pleasant readings of Bailly, Hume, and Tennemann,
which I used to enjoy by my fireside when I was able to read.

"But enough of complaints.  Do not allow this letter to affect
you too much, and do not think that I give way to dejection or
despondency; no, I am a fatalist, and I believe in my star.  I do
not know yet what my calling is, nor for what branch of polite
literature I am best fitted; I do not even know whether I am, or
ever shall be, fitted for any: but what matters it?  I suffer, I
labor, I dream, I enjoy, I think; and, in a word, when my last
hour strikes, I shall have lived.

"Proudhon, I love you, I esteem you; and, believe me, these are
not mere phrases.  What interest could I have in flattering and
praising a poor printer?  Are you rich, that you may pay for
courtiers?  Have you a sumptuous table, a dashing wife, and gold
to scatter, in order to attract them to your suite?  Have you the
glory, honors, credit, which would render your acquaintance
pleasing to their vanity and pride?  No; you are poor, obscure,
abandoned; but, poor, obscure, and abandoned, you have a friend,
and a friend who knows all the obligations which that word
imposes upon honorable people, when they venture to assume it. 
That friend is myself: put me to the test.
                                        "GUSTAVE FALLOT."

It appears from this letter that if, at this period, Proudhon had
already exhibited to the eyes of a clairvoyant friend his genius
for research and investigation, it was in the direction of
philosophical, rather than of economical and social, questions.

Having become foreman in the house of Gauthier & Co., who carried
on a large printing establishment at Besancon, he corrected the
proofs of ecclesiastical writers, the Fathers of the Church.  As
they were printing a Bible, a Vulgate, he was led to compare the
Latin with the original Hebrew.

"In this way," says Sainte Beuve, "he learned Hebrew by himself,
and, as everything was connected in his mind, he was led to the
study of comparative philology.  As the house of Gauthier
published many works on Church history and theology, he came also
to acquire, through this desire of his to investigate everything,
an extensive knowledge of theology, which afterwards caused
misinformed persons to think that he had been in an
ecclesiastical seminary."

Towards 1836, Proudhon left the house of Gauthier, and, in
company with an associate, established a small printing-office in
Besancon.  His contribution to the partnership consisted, not so
much in capital, as in his knowledge of the trade.  His partner
committing suicide in 1838, Proudhon was obliged to wind up the
business, an operation which he did not accomplish as quickly and
as easily as he hoped.  He was then urged by his friends to enter
the ranks of the competitors for the Suard pension.  This pension
consisted of an income of fifteen hundred francs bequeathed to
the Academy of Besancon by Madame Suard, the widow of the
academician, to be given once in three years to the young man
residing in the department of Doubs, a bachelor of letters or of
science, and not possessing a fortune, whom the Academy of
win the Suard pension was Gustave Fallot.  Mauvais, who was
a distinguished astronomer in the Academy of Sciences, was the
second.  Proudhon aspired to be the third.  To qualify himself,
he had to be received as a bachelor of letters, and was obliged
to write a letter to the Academy of Besancon.  In a phrase of
this letter, the terms of which he had to modify, though he
absolutely refused to change its spirit, Proudhon expressed his
firm resolve to labor for the amelioration of the condition of
his brothers, the working-men.

The only thing which he had then published was an "Essay on
General Grammar," which appeared without the author's signature. 
While reprinting, at Besancon, the "Primitive Elements of
Languages, Discovered by the Comparison of Hebrew roots with
those of the Latin and French," by the Abbe Bergier, Proudhon had
enlarged the edition of his "Essay on General Grammar."

The date of the edition, 1837, proves that he did not at that
time think of competing for the Suard pension.  In this work,
which continued and completed that of the Abbe Bergier, Proudhon
adopted the same point of view, that of Moses and of Biblical
tradition.  Two years later, in February, 1839, being already in
possession of the Suard pension, he addressed to the Institute,
as a competitor for the Volney prize, a memoir entitled: 
"Studies in Grammatical Classification and the Derivation of some
French words."  It was his first work, revised and presented in
another form.  Four memoirs only were sent to the Institute, none
of which gained the prize.  Two honorable mentions were granted,
one of them to memoir No. 4; that is, to P. J. Proudhon, printer
at Besancon.  The judges were MM. Amedde Jaubert, Reinaud, and

"The committee," said the report presented at the annual meeting
of the five academies on Thursday, May 2, 1839, "has paid
especial attention to manuscripts No. 1 and No. 4.  Still,
it does not feel able to grant the prize to either of these
works, because they do not appear to be sufficiently elaborated. 
The committee, which finds in No. 4 some ingenious analyses,
particularly in regard to the mechanism of the Hebrew language,
regrets that the author has resorted to hazardous conjectures,
and has sometimes forgotten the special recommendation of the
committee to pursue the experimental and comparative method."

Proudhon remembered this.  He attended the lectures of Eugene
Burnouf, and, as soon as he became acquainted with the labors and
discoveries of Bopp and his successors, he definitively abandoned
an hypothesis which had been condemned by the Academy of
Inscriptions and Belles-lettres.  He then sold, for the value of
the paper, the remaining copies of the "Essay" published by him
in 1837.  In 1850, they were still lying in a grocer's back-shop.

A neighboring publisher then placed the edition on the market,
with the attractive name of Proudhon upon it.  A lawsuit ensued,
in which the author was beaten.  His enemies, and at that time
there were many of them, would have been glad to have proved him
a renegade and a recanter.  Proudhon, in his work on "Justice,"
gives some interesting details of this lawsuit.

In possession of the Suard pension, Proudhon took part in the
contest proposed by the Academy of Besancon on the question of
the utility of the celebration of Sunday.  His memoir obtained
honorable mention, together with a medal which was awarded him,
in open session, on the 24th of August, 1839.  The reporter of
the committee, the Abbe Doney, since made Bishop of Montauban,
called attention to the unquestionable superiority of his talent.

"But," says Sainte Beuve, "he reproached him with having adopted
dangerous theories, and with having touched upon questions of
practical politics and social organization, where upright
intentions and zeal for the public welfare cannot justify rash

Was it policy, we mean prudence, which induced Proudhon to screen
his ideas of equality behind the Mosaic law?  Sainte Beuve, like
many others, seems to think so.  But we remember perfectly well
that, having asked Proudhon, in August, 1848, if he did not
consider himself indebted in some respects to his fellow-
countryman, Charles Fourier, we received from him the following
reply:  "I have certainly read Fourier, and have spoken of him
more than once in my works; but, upon the whole, I do not think
that I owe anything to him.  My real masters, those who have
caused fertile ideas to spring up in my mind, are three in
number: first, the Bible; next, Adam Smith; and last, Hegel.

Freely confessed in the "Celebration of Sunday," the influence of
the Bible on Proudhon is no less manifest in his first memoir on
property.  Proudhon undoubtedly brought to this work many ideas
of his own; but is not the very foundation of ancient Jewish law
to be found in its condemnation of usurious interest and its
denial of the right of personal appropriation of land?

The first memoir on property appeared in 1840, under the title,
"What is Property? or an Inquiry into the Principle of Right and
of Government."  Proudhon dedicated it, in a letter which served
as the preface, to the Academy of Besancon.  The latter, finding
itself brought to trial by its pensioner, took the affair to
heart, and evoked it, says Sainte Beuve, with all possible haste.

The pension narrowly escaped being immediately withdrawn from the
bold defender of the principle of equality of conditions.  M.
Vivien, then Minister of Justice, who was earnestly solicited to
prosecute the author, wished first to obtain the opinion of the
economist, Blanqui, a member of the Academy of Moral and
Political Sciences.  Proudhon having presented to this academy a
copy of his book, M. Blanqui was appointed to review it.  This
review, though it opposed Proudhon's views, shielded him. 
Treated as a savant by M. Blanqui, the author was not
prosecuted.  He was always grateful to MM. Blanqui and Vivien for
their handsome conduct in the matter.

M. Blanqui's review, which was partially reproduced by "Le
Moniteur," on the 7th of September, 1840, naturally led Proudhon
to address to him, in the form of a letter, his second memoir on
property, which appeared in April, 1841.  Proudhon had
endeavored, in his first memoir, to demonstrate that the pursuit
of equality of conditions is the true principle of right and of
government.  In the "Letter to M. Blanqui," he passes in review
the numerous and varied methods by which this principle gradually
becomes realized in all societies, especially in modern society.

In 1842, a third memoir appeared, entitled, "A Notice to
Proprietors, or a Letter to M. Victor Considerant, Editor of `La
Phalange,' in Reply to a Defence of Property."  Here the
influence of Adam Smith manifested itself, and was frankly
admitted.  Did not Adam Smith find, in the principle of equality,
the first of all the laws which govern wages?  There are other
laws, undoubtedly; but Proudhon considers them all as springing
from the principle of property, as he defined it in his first
memoir.  Thus, in humanity, there are two principles,--one which
leads us to equality, another which separates us from it.  By the
former, we treat each other as associates; by the latter, as
strangers, not to say enemies.  This distinction, which is
constantly met with throughout the three memoirs, contained
already, in germ, the idea which gave birth to the "System of
Economical Contradictions," which appeared in 1846, the idea of
antinomy or contre-loi.

The "Notice to Proprietors" was seized by the magistrates of
Besancon; and Proudhon was summoned to appear before the assizes
of Doubs within a week.  He read his written defence to the
jurors in person, and was acquitted.  The jury, like M. Blanqui,
viewed him only as a philosopher, an inquirer, a savant.

In 1843, Proudhon published the "Creation of Order in Humanity,"
a large volume, which does not deal exclusively with questions of
social economy.  Religion, philosophy, method, certainty, logic,
and dialectics are treated at considerable length.

Released from his printing-office on the 1st of March of the same
year, Proudhon had to look for a chance to earn his living. 
Messrs. Gauthier Bros., carriers by water between Mulhouse and
Lyons, the eldest of whom was Proudhon's companion in childhood,
conceived the happy thought of employing him, of utilizing his
ability in their business, and in settling the numerous points of
difficulty which daily arose.  Besides the large number of
accounts which his new duties required him to make out, and which
retarded the publication of the "System of Economical
Contradictions," until October, 1846, we ought to mention a work,
which, before it appeared in pamphlet form, was published in the
"Revue des Economistes,"--"Competition between Railroads and
Navigable Ways."

"Le Miserere, or the Repentance of a King," which he published in
March, 1845, in the "Revue Independante," during that
Lenten season when Lacordaire was preaching in Lyons, proves
that, though devoting himself with ardor to the study of
economical problems, Proudhon had not lost his interest in
questions of religious history.  Among his writings on these
questions, which he was unfortunately obliged to leave
unfinished, we may mention a nearly completed history of the
early Christian heresies, and of the struggle of Christianity
against Caesarism.

We have said that, in 1848, Proudhon recognized three masters. 
Having no knowledge of the German language, he could not have
read the works of Hegel, which at that time had not been
translated into French.  It was Charles Grun, a German, who had
come to France to study the various philosophical and socialistic
systems, who gave him the substance of the Hegelian ideas. 
During the winter of 1844-45, Charles Grun had some long
conversations with Proudhon, which determined, very decisively,
not the ideas, which belonged exclusively to the bisontin
thinker, but the form of the important work on which he labored
after 1843, and which was published in 1846 by Guillaumin.

Hegel's great idea, which Proudhon appropriated, and which he
demonstrates with wonderful ability in the "System of Economical
Contradictions," is as follows:  Antinomy, that is, the existence
of two laws or tendencies which are opposed to each other, is
possible, not only with two different things, but with one and
the same thing.  Considered in their thesis, that is, in the law
or tendency which created them, all the economical categories are
rational,--competition, monopoly, the balance of trade, and
property, as well as the division of labor, machinery, taxation,
and credit.  But, like communism and population, all
these categories are antinomical; all are opposed, not only to
each other, but to themselves.  All is opposition, and disorder
is born of this system of opposition.  Hence, the sub-title of
the work,--"Philosophy of Misery."  No category can be
suppressed; the opposition, antinomy, or contre-tendance, which
exists in each of them, cannot be suppressed.

Where, then, lies the solution of the social problem?  Influenced
by the Hegelian ideas, Proudhon began to look for it in a
superior synthesis, which should reconcile the thesis and
antithesis.  Afterwards, while at work upon his book on
"Justice," he saw that the antinomical terms do not cancel each
other, any more than the opposite poles of an electric pile
destroy each other; that they are the procreative cause of
motion, life, and progress; that the problem is to discover, not
their fusion, which would be death, but their equilibrium,--an
equilibrium for ever unstable, varying with the development of

On the cover of the "System of Economical Contradictions,"
Proudhon announced, as soon to appear, his "Solution of the
Social Problem."  This work, upon which he was engaged when the
Revolution of 1848 broke out, had to be cut up into pamphlets and
newspaper articles.  The two pamphlets, which he published in
March, 1848, before he became editor of "Le Representant du
Peuple," bear the same title,--"Solution of the Social Problem." 
The first, which is mainly a criticism of the early acts of the
provisional government, is notable from the fact that in it
Proudhon, in advance of all others, energetically opposed the
establishment of national workshops.  The second, "Organization
of Credit and Circulation," sums up in a few pages his
idea of economical progress: a gradual reduction of interest,
profit, rent, taxes, and wages.  All progress hitherto has been
made in this manner; in this manner it must continue to be made. 
Those workingmen who favor a nominal increase of wages are,
unconsciously.  following a back-track, opposed to all their

After having published in "Le Representant du Peuple," the
statutes of the Bank of Exchange,--a bank which was to make no
profits, since it was to have no stockholders, and which,
consequently, was to discount commercial paper with out interest,
charging only a commission sufficient to defray its running
expenses,--Proudhon endeavored, in a number of articles, to
explain its mechanism and necessity.  These articles have been
collected in one volume, under the double title, "Resume of the
Social Question; Bank of Exchange."  His other articles, those
which up to December, 1848, were inspired by the progress of
events, have been collected in another volume,--"Revolutionary

Almost unknown in March, 1848, and struck off in April from the
list of candidates for the Constituent Assembly by the delegation
of workingmen which sat at the Luxembourg, Proudhon had but a
very small number of votes at the general elections of April.  At
the complementary elections, which were held in the early days of
June, he was elected in Paris by seventy-seven thousand votes.

After the fatal days of June, he published an article on le
terme, which caused the first suspension of "Le Representant du
Peuple."  It was at that time that he introduced a bill into the
Assembly, which, being referred to the Committee on the Finances,
drew forth, first, the report of M. Thiers, and then the
speech which Proudhon delivered, on the 31st of July, in reply to
this report.  "Le Representant du Peuple," reappearing a few days
later, he wrote, a propos of the law requiring journals to give
bonds, his famous article on "The Malthusians" (August 10, 1848).

Ten days afterwards, "Le Representant du Peuple," again
suspended, definitively ceased to appear.  "Le Peuple," of which
he was the editor-in-chief, and the first number of which was
issued in the early part of September, appeared weekly at first,
for want of sufficient bonds; it afterwards appeared daily, with
a double number once a week.  Before "Le Peuple" had obtained its
first bond, Proudhon published a remarkable pamphlet on the
"Right to Labor,"--a right which he denied in the form in which
it was then affirmed.  It was during the same period that he
proposed, at the Poissonniere banquet, his Toast to the

Proudhon, who had been asked to preside at the banquet, refused,
and proposed in his stead, first, Ledru-Rollin, and then, in view
of the reluctance of the organizers of the banquet, the
illustrious president of the party of the Mountain, Lamennais. 
It was evidently his intention to induce the representatives of
the Extreme Left to proclaim at last with him the Democratic and
Social Republic.  Lamennais being accepted by the organizers, the
Mountain promised to be present at the banquet.  The night
before, all seemed right, when General Cavaignac replaced
Minister Senart by Minister Dufaure-Vivien.  The Mountain,
questioning the government, proposed a vote of confidence in the
old minister, and, tacitly, of want of confidence in the new. 
Proudhon abstained from voting on this proposition.  The Mountain
declared that it would not attend the banquet, if Proudhon
was to be present.  Five Montagnards, Mathieu of Drome at their
head, went to the temporary office of "Le Peuple" to notify him
of this.  "Citizen Proudhon," said they to the organizers in his
presence, "in abstaining from voting to-day on the proposition of
the Mountain, has betrayed the Republican cause."  Proudhon,
vehemently questioned, began his defence by recalling, on the one
hand, the treatment which he had received from the dismissed
minister; and, on the other, the impartial conduct displayed
towards him in 1840 by M. Vivien, the new minister.  He then
attacked the Mountain by telling its delegates that it sought
only a pretext, and that really, in spite of its professions of
Socialism in private conversation, whether with him or with the
organizers of the banquet, it had not the courage to publicly
declare itself Socialist.

On the following day, in his Toast to the Revolution, a toast
which was filled with allusions to the exciting scene of the
night before, Proudhon commenced his struggle against the
Mountain.  His duel with Felix Pyat was one of the episodes of
this struggle, which became less bitter on Proudhon's side after
the Mountain finally decided to publicly proclaim the Democratic
and Social Republic.  The campaign for the election of a
President of the Republic had just begun.  Proudhon made a very
sharp attack on the candidacy of Louis Bonaparte in a pamphlet
which is regarded as one of his literary chefs-d'oeuvre: the
"Pamphlet on the Presidency."  An opponent of this institution,
against which he had voted in the Constituent Assembly, he at
first decided to take no part in the campaign.  But soon seeing
that he was thus increasing the chances of Louis Bonaparte, and
that if, as was not at all probable, the latter should not
obtain an absolute majority of the votes, the Assembly would not
fail to elect General Cavaignac, he espoused, for the sake of
form, the candidacy of Raspail, who was supported by his friends
in the Socialist Committee.  Charles Delescluze, the editor-in-
chief of "La Revolution Democratique et Sociale," who could not
forgive him for having preferred Raspail to Ledru-Rollin, the
candidate of the Mountain, attacked him on the day after the
election with a violence which overstepped all bounds.  At first,
Proudhon had the wisdom to refrain from answering him.  At
length, driven to an extremity, he became aggressive himself, and
Delescluze sent him his seconds.  This time, Proudhon positively
refused to fight; he would not have fought with Felix Pyat, had
not his courage been called in question.

On the 25th of January, 1849, Proudhon, rising from a sick bed,
saw that the existence of the Constituent Assembly was endangered
by the coalition of the monarchical parties with Louis Bonaparte,
who was already planning his coup d'Etat.  He did not hesitate
to openly attack the man who had just received five millions of
votes.  He wanted to break the idol; he succeeded only in getting
prosecuted and condemned himself.  The prosecution demanded
against him was authorized by a majority of the Constituent
Assembly, in spite of the speech which he delivered on that
occasion.  Declared guilty by the jury, he was sentenced, in
March, 1849, to three years' imprisonment and the payment of a
fine of ten thousand francs.

Proudhon had not abandoned for a single moment his project of a
Bank of Exchange, which was to operate without capital with a
sufficient number of merchants and manufacturers for
adherents.  This bank, which he then called the Bank of the
People, and around which he wished to gather the numerous
working-people's associations which had been formed since the
24th of February, 1848, had already obtained a certain number of
subscribers and adherents, the latter to the number of thirty-
seven thousand.  It was about to commence operations, when
Proudhon's sentence forced him to choose between imprisonment and
exile.  He did not hesitate to abandon his project and return the
money to the subscribers.  He explained the motives which led him
to this decision in an article in "Le Peuple."

Having fled to Belgium, he remained there but a few days, going
thence to Paris, under an assumed name, to conceal himself in a
house in the Rue de Chabrol.  From his hiding-place he sent
articles almost every day, signed and unsigned, to "Le Peuple." 
In the evening, dressed in a blouse, he went to some secluded
spot to take the air.  Soon, emboldened by habit, he risked an
evening promenade upon the Boulevards, and afterwards carried his
imprudence so far as to take a stroll by daylight in the
neighborhood of the Gare du Nord.  It was not long before he was
recognized by the police, who arrested him on the 6th of June,
1849, in the Rue du Faubourg-Poissonniere.

Taken to the office of the prefect of police, then to Sainte-
Pelagie, he was in the Conciergerie on the day of the 13th of
June, 1849, which ended with the violent suppression of "Le
Peuple."  He then began to write the "Confessions of a
Revolutionist," published towards the end of the year.  He had
been again transferred to Sainte-Pelagie, when he married, in
December, 1849, Mlle. Euphrasie Piegard, a young working
girl whose hand he had requested in 1847.  Madame Proudhon
bore him four daughters, of whom but two, Catherine and
Stephanie, survived their father.  Stephanie died in 1873.

In October, 1849, "Le Peuple" was replaced by a new journal, "La
Voix du Peuple," which Proudhon edited from his prison cell.  In
it were published his discussions with Pierre Leroux and Bastiat.

The political articles which he sent to "La Voix du Peuple" so
displeased the government finally, that it transferred him to
Doullens, where he was secretly confined for some time. 
Afterwards taken back to Paris, to appear before the assizes of
the Seine in reference to an article in "La Voix du Peuple," he
was defended by M. Cremieux and acquitted.  From the Conciergerie
he went again to Sainte-Pelagie, where he ended his three years
in prison on the 6th of June, 1852.

"La Voix du Peuple," suppressed before the promulgation of the
law of the 31st of May, had been replaced by a weekly sheet, "Le
Peuple" of 1850.  Established by the aid of the principal members
of the Mountain, this journal soon met with the fate of its

In 1851, several months before the coup d'Etat, Proudhon
published the "General Idea of the Revolution of the Nineteenth
Century," in which, after having shown the logical series of
unitary governments,--from monarchy, which is the first term, to
the direct government of the people, which is the last,--he
opposes the ideal of an-archy or self-government to the
communistic or governmental ideal.

At this period, the Socialist party, discouraged by the elections
of 1849, which resulted in a greater conservative triumph than
those of 1848, and justly angry with the national representative
body which had just passed the law of the 31st of May,
1850, demanded direct legislation and direct government. 
Proudhon, who did not want, at any price, the plebiscitary system
which he had good reason to regard as destructive of liberty, did
not hesitate to point out, to those of his friends who expected
every thing from direct legislation, one of the antinomies of
universal suffrage.  In so far as it is an institution intended
to achieve, for the benefit of the greatest number, the social
reforms to which landed suffrage is opposed, universal suffrage
is powerless; especially if it pretends to legislate or govern
directly.  For, until the social reforms are accomplished, the
greatest number is of necessity the least enlightened, and
consequently the least capable of understanding and effecting
reforms.  In regard to the antinomy, pointed out by him, of
liberty and government,-- whether the latter be monarchic,
aristocratic, or democratic in form,--Proudhon, whose chief
desire was to preserve liberty, naturally sought the solution in
the free contract.  But though the free contract may be a
practical solution of purely economical questions, it cannot be
made use of in politics.  Proudhon recognized this ten years
later, when his beautiful study on "War and Peace" led him to
find in the FEDERATIVE PRINCIPLE the exact equilibrium of
liberty and government.

"The Social Revolution Demonstrated by the Coup d' Etat" appeared
in 1852, a few months after his release from prison.  At that
time, terror prevailed to such an extent that no one was willing
to publish his book without express permission from the
government.  He succeeded in obtaining this permission by writing
to Louis Bonaparte a letter which he published at the same time
with the work.  The latter being offered for sale, Proudhon was
warned that he would not be allowed to publish any more
books of the same character.  At that time he entertained the
idea of writing a universal history entitled "Chronos."  This
project was never fulfilled.

Already the father of two children, and about to be presented
with a third, Proudhon was obliged to devise some immediate means
of gaining a living; he resumed his labors, and published, at
first anonymously, the "Manual of a Speculator in the Stock-
Exchange."  Later, in 1857, after having completed the work, he
did not hesitate to sign it, acknowledging in the preface his
indebtedness to his collaborator, G. Duchene.

Meantime, he vainly sought permission to establish a journal, or
review.  This permission was steadily refused him.  The imperial
government always suspected him after the publication of the
"Social Revolution Demonstrated by the Coup d'Etat."

Towards the end of 1853, Proudhon issued in Belgium a pamphlet
entitled "The Philosophy of Progress."  Entirely inoffensive as
it was, this pamphlet, which he endeavored to send into France,
was seized on the frontier.  Proudhon's complaints were of no

The empire gave grants after grants to large companies.  A
financial society, having asked for the grant of a railroad in
the east of France, employed Proudhon to write several memoirs in
support of this demand.  The grant was given to another company. 
The author was offered an indemnity as compensation, to be paid
(as was customary in such cases) by the company which received
the grant.  It is needless to say that Proudhon would accept
nothing.  Then, wishing to explain to the public, as well as to
the government, the end which he had in view, he published
the work entitled "Reforms to be Effected in the Management of

Towards the end of 1854, Proudhon had already begun his book on
"Justice," when he had a violent attack of cholera, from which he
recovered with great difficulty.  Ever afterwards his health was

At last, on the 22d of April, 1858, he published, in three large
volumes, the important work upon which he had labored since
1854.  This work had two titles: the first, "Justice in the
Revolution and in the Church;" the second, "New Principles of
Practical Philosophy, addressed to His Highness Monseigneur
Mathieu, Cardinal-Archbishop of Besancon."  On the 27th of April,
when there had scarcely been time to read the work, an order was
issued by the magistrate for its seizure; on the 28th the seizure
was effected.  To this first act of the magistracy, the author of
the incriminated book replied on the 11th of May in a strongly-
motived petition, demanding a revision of the concordat of 1802;
or, in other words, a new adjustment of the relations between
Church and State.  At bottom, this petition was but the logical
consequence of the work itself.  An edition of a thousand copies
being published on the 17th of May, the "Petition to the Senate"
was regarded by the public prosecutor as an aggravation of the
offence or offences discovered in the body of the work to which
it was an appendix, and was seized in its turn on the 23d.  On
the first of June, the author appealed to the Senate in a second
"Petition," which was deposited with the first in the office of
the Secretary of the Assembly, the guardian and guarantee,
according to the constitution of 1852, of the principles of '89. 
On the 2d of June, the two processes being united, Proudhon
appeared at the bar with his publisher, the printer of the
book, and the printer of the petition, to receive the sentence of
the police magistrate, which condemned him to three years'
imprisonment, a fine of four thousand francs, and the suppression
of his work.  It is needless to say that the publisher and
printers were also condemned by the sixth chamber.

Proudhon lodged an appeal; he wrote a memoir which the law of
1819, in the absence of which he would have been liable to a new
prosecution, gave him the power to publish previous to the
hearing.  Having decided to make use of the means which the law
permitted, he urged in vain the printers who were prosecuted with
him to lend him their aid.  He then demanded of Attorney-General
Chaix d'Est Ange a statement to the effect that the twenty-third
article of the law of the 17th of May, 1819, allows a written
defence, and that a printer runs no risk in printing it.  The
attorney-general flatly refused.  Proudhon then started for
Belgium, where he printed his defence, which could not, of
course, cross the French frontier.  This memoir is entitled to
rank with the best of Beaumarchais's; it is entitled:  "Justice
prosecuted by the Church; An Appeal from the Sentence passed upon
P. J. Proudhon by the Police Magistrate of the Seine, on the 2d
of June, 1858."  A very close discussion of the grounds of the
judgment of the sixth chamber, it was at the same time an
excellent resume of his great work.

Once in Belgium, Proudhon did not fail to remain there.  In 1859,
after the general amnesty which followed the Italian war, he at
first thought himself included in it.  But the imperial
government, consulted by his friends, notified him that, in its
opinion, and in spite of the contrary advice of M.
Faustin Helie, his condemnation was not of a political
character.  Proudhon, thus classed by the government with the
authors of immoral works, thought it beneath his dignity to
protest, and waited patiently for the advent of 1863 to allow him
to return to France.

In Belgium, where he was not slow in forming new friendships, he
published in 1859-60, in separate parts, a new edition of his
great work on "Justice."  Each number contained, in addition to
the original text carefully reviewed and corrected, numerous
explanatory notes and some "Tidings of the Revolution."  In these
tidings, which form a sort of review of the progress of ideas in
Europe, Proudhon sorrowfully asserts that, after having for a
long time marched at the head of the progressive nations, France
has become, without appearing to suspect it, the most
retrogressive of nations; and he considers her more than once as
seriously threatened with moral death.

The Italian war led him to write a new work, which he published
in 1861, entitled "War and Peace."  This work, in which, running
counter to a multitude of ideas accepted until then without
examination, he pronounced for the first time against the
restoration of an aristocratic and priestly Poland, and against
the establishment of a unitary government in Italy, created for
him a multitude of enemies.  Most of his friends, disconcerted by
his categorical affirmation of a right of force, notified him
that they decidedly disapproved of his new publication.  "You
see," triumphantly cried those whom he had always combated, "this
man is only a sophist."

Led by his previous studies to test every thing by the question
of right, Proudhon asks, in his "War and Peace," whether there is
a real right of which war is the vindication, and victory
the demonstration.  This right, which he roughly calls the right
of the strongest or the right of force, and which is, after all,
only the right of the most worthy to the preference in certain
definite cases, exists, says Proudhon, independently of war.  It
cannot be legitimately vindicated except where necessity clearly
demands the subordination of one will to another, and within the
limits in which it exists; that is, without ever involving the
enslavement of one by the other.  Among nations, the right of the
majority, which is only a corollary of the right of force, is as
unacceptable as universal monarchy.  Hence, until equilibrium is
established and recognized between States or national forces,
there must be war.  War, says Proudhon, is not always necessary
to determine which side is the strongest; and he has no trouble
in proving this by examples drawn from the family, the workshop,
and elsewhere.  Passing then to the study of war, he proves that
it by no means corresponds in practice to that which it ought to
be according to his theory of the right of force.  The systematic
horrors of war naturally lead him to seek a cause for it other
than the vindication of this right; and then only does the
economist take it upon himself to denounce this cause to those
who, like himself, want peace.  The necessity of finding abroad a
compensation for the misery resulting in every nation from the
absence of economical equilibrium, is, according to Proudhon, the
ever real, though ever concealed, cause of war.  The pages
devoted to this demonstration and to his theory of poverty, which
he clearly distinguishes from misery and pauperism, shed entirely
new light upon the philosophy of history.  As for the author's
conclusion, it is a very simple one.  Since the treaty of
Westphalia, and especially since the treaties of 1815,
equilibrium has been the international law of Europe.  It remains
now, not to destroy it, but, while maintaining it, to labor
peacefully, in every nation protected by it, for the equilibrium
of economical forces.  The last line of the book, evidently
written to check imperial ambition, is:  "Humanity wants no more

In 1861, after Garibaldi's expedition and the battle of
Castelfidardo, Proudhon immediately saw that the establishment of
Italian unity would be a severe blow to European equilibrium.  It
was chiefly in order to maintain this equilibrium that he
pronounced so energetically in favor of Italian federation, even
though it should be at first only a federation of monarchs.  In
vain was it objected that, in being established by France,
Italian unity would break European equilibrium in our favor. 
Proudhon, appealing to history, showed that every State which
breaks the equilibrium in its own favor only causes the other
States to combine against it, and thereby diminishes its
influence and power.  He added that, nations being essentially
selfish, Italy would not fail, when opportunity offered, to place
her interest above her gratitude.

To maintain European equilibrium by diminishing great States and
multiplying small ones; to unite the latter in organized
federations, not for attack, but for defence; and with these
federations, which, if they were not republican already, would
quickly become so, to hold in check the great military
monarchies,--such, in the beginning of 1861, was the political
programme of Proudhon.

The object of the federations, he said, will be to guarantee, as
far as possible, the beneficent reign of peace; and they will
have the further effect of securing in every nation the triumph
of liberty over despotism.  Where the largest unitary State
is, there liberty is in the greatest danger; further, if this
State be democratic, despotism without the counterpoise of
majorities is to be feared.  With the federation, it is not so. 
The universal suffrage of the federal State is checked by the
universal suffrage of the federated States; and the latter is
offset in its turn by PROPERTY, the stronghold of liberty,
which it tends, not to destroy, but to balance with the
institutions of MUTUALISM.

All these ideas, and many others which were only hinted at in his
work on "War and Peace," were developed by Proudhon in his
subsequent publications, one of which has for its motto, "Reforms
always, Utopias never."  The thinker had evidently finished his

The Council of State of the canton of Vaud having offered prizes
for essays on the question of taxation, previously discussed at a
congress held at Lausanne, Proudhon entered the ranks and carried
off the first prize.  His memoir was published in 1861 under the
title of "The Theory of Taxation."

About the same time, he wrote at Brussels, in "L'Office de
Publicite," some remarkable articles on the question of literary
property, which was discussed at a congress held in Belgium,
These articles must not be confounded with "Literary Majorats," a
more complete work on the same subject, which was published in
1863, soon after his return to France.

Arbitrarily excepted from the amnesty in 1859, Proudhon was
pardoned two years later by a special act.  He did not wish to
take advantage of this favor, and seemed resolved to remain in
Belgium until the 2d of June, 1863, the time when he was to
acquire the privilege of prescription, when an absurd and
ridiculous riot, excited in Brussels by an article published by
him on federation and unity in Italy, induced him to hasten his
return to France.  Stones were thrown against the house in which
he lived, in the Faubourg d'Ixelles.  After having placed his
wife and daughters in safety among his friends at Brussels, he
arrived in Paris in September, 1862, and published there,
"Federation and Italian Unity," a pamphlet which naturally
commences with the article which served as a pretext for the
rioters in Brussels.

Among the works begun by Proudhon while in Belgium, which death
did not allow him to finish, we ought to mention a "History of
Poland," which will be published later; and, "The Theory of
Property," which appeared in 1865, before "The Gospels
Annotated," and after the volume entitled "The Principle of Art
and its Social Destiny."

The publications of Proudhon, in 1863, were: 1. "Literary
Majorats:  An Examination of a Bill having for its object the
Creation of a Perpetual Monopoly for the Benefit of Authors,
Inventors, and Artists;" 2. "The Federative Principle and the
Necessity of Re-establishing the Revolutionary party;" 3. "The
Sworn Democrats and the Refractories;" 4. "Whether the Treaties
of 1815 have ceased to exist?  Acts of the Future Congress."

The disease which was destined to kill him grew worse and worse;
but Proudhon labored constantly! . . .  A series of articles,
published in 1864 in "Le Messager de Paris," have been collected
in a pamphlet under the title of "New Observations on Italian
Unity."  He hoped to publish during the same year his work on
"The Political Capacity of the Working Classes," but was unable
to write the last chapter. . . .  He grew weaker
continually.  His doctor prescribed rest.  In the month of
August he went to Franche-Comte, where he spent a month.  Having
returned to Paris, he resumed his labor with difficulty. . . . 
From the month of December onwards, the heart disease made rapid
progress; the oppression became insupportable, his legs were
swollen, and he could not sleep. . . .

On the 19th of January, 1865, he died, towards two o'clock in the
morning, in the arms of his wife, his sister-in-law, and the
friend who writes these lines. . . .

The publication of his correspondence, to which his daughter
Catherine is faithfully devoted, will tend, no doubt, to increase
his reputation as a thinker, as a writer, and as an honest man.
                                           J. A. LANGLOIS.


The following letter served as a preface to the first edition of
this memoir:--

"To the Members of the Academy of Besancon
                                      "PARIS, June 30, 1840.

"GENTLEMEN,--In the course of your debate of the 9th of May,
1833, in regard to the triennial pension established by Madame
Suard, you expressed the following wish:--

"`The Academy requests the titulary to present it annually,
during the first fortnight in July, with a succinct and logical
statement of the various studies which he has pursued during the
year which has just expired.'

"I now propose, gentlemen, to discharge this duty.

"When I solicited your votes, I boldly avowed my intention to
bend my efforts to the discovery of some means of AMELIORATING 
NUMEROUS AND POORER CLASSES.  This idea, foreign as it may have
seemed to the object of my candidacy, you received favorably;
and, by the precious distinction with which it has been your
pleasure to honor me, you changed this formal offer into an
inviolable and sacred obligation.  Thenceforth I understood with
how worthy and honorable a society I had to deal: my regard for
its enlightenment, my recognition of its benefits, my enthusiasm
for its glory, were unbounded.

"Convinced at once that, in order to break loose from the beaten
paths of opinions and systems, it was necessary to proceed in my
study of man and society by scientific methods, and in a rigorous
manner, I devoted one year to philology and grammar; linguistics,
or the natural history of speech, being, of all the sciences,
that which was best suited to the character of my mind, seemed to
bear the closest relation to the researches which I was about to
commence.  A treatise, written at this period upon one of the
most interesting questions of comparative grammar,[1] if it did
not reveal the astonishing success, at least bore witness to the
thoroughness, of my labors.

[1] "An Inquiry into Grammatical Classifications."  By P. J.
Proudhon.  A treatise which received honorable mention from the
Academy of Inscriptions, May 4, 1839.  Out of print.

"Since that time, metaphysics and moral science have been my only
studies; my perception of the fact that these sciences, though
badly defined as to their object and not confined to their
sphere, are, like the natural sciences, susceptible of
demonstration and certainty, has already rewarded my efforts.

"But, gentlemen, of all the masters whom I have followed, to none
do I owe so much as to you.  Your co-operation, your programmes,
your instructions, in agreement with my secret wishes and most
cherished hopes, have at no time failed to enlighten me and to
point out my road; this memoir on property is the child of your

"In 1838, the Academy of Besancon proposed the following

"Thereby it asked, in less general terms, what was the cause of
the social evil, and what was its remedy?  You admitted that
yourselves, gentlemen when your committee reported that the
competitors had enumerated with exactness the immediate and
particular causes of suicide, as well as the means of preventing
each of them; but that from this enumeration, chronicled with
more or less skill, no positive information had been gained,
either as to the primary cause of the evil, or as to its remedy.

"In 1839, your programme, always original and varied in its
academical expression, became more exact.  The investigations of
1838 had pointed out, as the causes or rather as the symptoms of
the social malady, the neglect of the principles of religion and
morality, the desire for wealth, the passion for enjoyment, and
political disturbances.  All these data were embodied by you in a

"In a Christian tongue you asked, gentlemen, what was the true
system of society.  A competitor[1] dared to maintain, and
believed that he had proved, that the institution of a day of
rest at weekly intervals is inseparably bound up with a political
system based on the equality of conditions; that without equality
this institution is an anomaly and an impossibility: that
equality alone can revive this ancient and mysterious keeping of
the seventh day.  This argument did not meet with your
approbation, since, without denying the relation pointed out by
the competitor, you judged, and rightly gentlemen, that the
principle of equality of conditions not being demonstrated, the
ideas of the author were nothing more than hypotheses.

[1] "The Utility of the Celebration of Sunday," &c.  By P. J.
Proudhon.  Besancon, 1839, 12mo; 2d edition, Paris, 1841, 18mo.

"Finally, gentlemen, this fundamental principle of equality you
presented for competition in the following terms:  THE

"Instead of confining one to common places without breadth or
significance, it seems to me that your question should be
developed as follows:--

"If the law has been able to render the right of heredity common
to all the children of one father, can it not render it equal for
all his grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

"If the law no longer heeds the age of any member of the family,
can it not, by the right of heredity, cease to heed it in the
race, in the tribe, in the nation?

"Can equality, by the right of succession, be preserved between
citizens, as well as between cousins and brothers?  In a word,
can the principle of succession become a principle of equality?

"To sum up all these ideas in one inclusive question:  What is
the principle of heredity?  What are the foundations of
inequality?  What is property?

"Such, gentlemen, is the object of the memoir that I offer you to

"If I have rightly grasped the object of your thought; if I
succeed in bringing to light a truth which is indisputable, but,
from causes which I am bold enough to claim to have explained,
has always been misunderstood; if by an infallible method of
investigation, I establish the dogma of equality of conditions;
if I determine the principle of civil law, the essence of
justice, and the form of society; if I annihilate property
forever,--to you, gentlemen, will redound all the glory, for it
is to your aid and your inspiration that I owe it.

"My purpose in this work is the application of method to the
problems of philosophy; every other intention is foreign to and
even abusive of it.

"I have spoken lightly of jurisprudence:  I had the right; but I
should be unjust did I not distinguish between this pretended
science and the men who practise it.  Devoted to studies both
laborious and severe, entitled in all respects to the esteem of
their fellow-citizens by their knowledge and eloquence our
legists deserve but one reproach, that of an excessive deference
to arbitrary laws.

"I have been pitiless in my criticism of the economists: for them
I confess that, in general, I have no liking.  The arrogance and
the emptiness of their writings, their impertinent pride and
their unwarranted blunders, have disgusted me.  Whoever, knowing
them, pardons them, may read them.

"I have severely blamed the learned Christian Church: it was my
duty.  This blame results from the facts which I call attention
to: why has the Church decreed concerning things which it does
not understand?  The Church has erred in dogma and in morals;
physics and mathematics testify against her.  It may be wrong for
me to say it, but surely it is unfortunate for Christianity that
it is true.  To restore religion, gentlemen, it is necessary to
condemn the Church.

"Perhaps you will regret, gentlemen, that, in giving all my
attention to method and evidence, I have too much neglected form
and style: in vain should I have tried to do better.  Literary
hope and faith I have none.  The nineteenth century is, in my
eyes, a genesic era, in which new principles are elaborated, but
in which nothing that is written shall endure.  That is the
reason, in my opinion, why, among so many men of talent, France
to-day counts not one great writer.  In a society like ours, to
seek for literary glory seems to me an anachronism.  Of what use
is it to invoke an ancient sibyl when a muse is on the eve of
birth?  Pitiable actors in a tragedy nearing its end, that which
it behooves us to do is to precipitate the catastrophe.  The most
deserving among us is he who plays best this part.  Well, I no
longer aspire to this sad success!

"Why should I not confess it, gentlemen?  I have aspired to your
suffrages and sought the title of your pensioner, hating all
which exists and full of projects for its destruction; I shall
finish this investigation in a spirit of calm and philosophical
resignation.  I have derived more peace from the knowledge of the
truth, than anger from the feeling of oppression; and the most
precious fruit that I could wish to gather from this memoir would
be the inspiration of my readers with that tranquillity of soul
which arises from the clear perception of evil and its cause, and
which is much more powerful than passion and enthusiasm.  My
hatred of privilege and human authority was unbounded; perhaps at
times I have been guilty, in my indignation, of confounding
persons and things; at present I can only despise and complain;
to cease to hate I only needed to know.

"It is for you now, gentlemen, whose mission and character are
the proclamation of the truth, it is for you to instruct the
people, and to tell them for what they ought to hope and what
they ought to fear.  The people, incapable as yet of sound
judgment as to what is best for them, applaud indiscriminately
the most opposite ideas, provided that in them they get a taste
of flattery: to them the laws of thought are like the confines of
the possible; to-day they can no more distinguish between a
savant and a sophist, than formerly they could tell a physician
from a sorcerer.  `Inconsiderately accepting, gathering together,
and accumulating everything that is new, regarding all reports as
true and indubitable, at the breath or ring of novelty they
assemble like bees at the sound of a basin.'[1]

[1] Charron, on "Wisdom," Chapter xviii.

"May you, gentlemen, desire equality as I myself desire it; may
you, for the eternal happiness of our country, become its
propagators and its heralds; may I be the last of your
pensioners!  Of all the wishes that I can frame, that, gentlemen,
is the most worthy of you and the most honorable for me.

"I am, with the profoundest respect and the most earnest
                                    "Your pensioner,
                                           "P. J. PROUDHON."

Two months after the receipt of this letter, the Academy, in its
debate of August 24th, replied to the address of its pensioner by
a note, the text of which I give below:--

"A member calls the attention of the Academy to a pamphlet,
published last June by the titulary of the Suard pension,
entitled, "What is property?" and dedicated by the author to the
Academy.  He is of the opinion that the society owes it to
justice, to example, and to its own dignity, to publicly disavow
all responsibility for the anti-social doctrines contained in
this publication.  In consequence he demands:

"1.  That the Academy disavow and condemn, in the most formal
manner, the work of the Suard pensioner, as having been published
without its assent, and as attributing to it opinions
diametrically opposed to the principles of each of its members;

"2.  That the pensioner be charged, in case he should publish a
second edition of his book, to omit the dedication;

"3.  That this judgment of the Academy be placed upon the

"These three propositions, put to vote, are adopted."

After this ludicrous decree, which its authors thought to render
powerful by giving it the form of a contradiction, I can only beg
the reader not to measure the intelligence of my compatriots by
that of our Academy.

While my patrons in the social and political sciences were
fulminating anathemas against my brochure, a man, who was a
stranger to Franche-Comte, who did not know me, who might even
have regarded himself as personally attacked by the too sharp
judgment which I had passed upon the economists, a publicist as
learned as he was modest, loved by the people whose sorrows he
felt, honored by the power which he sought to enlighten without
flattering or disgracing it, M. Blanqui--member of the Institute,
professor of political economy, defender of property--took up my
defence before his associates and before the ministry, and saved
me from the blows of a justice which is always blind, because it
is always ignorant.

It seems to me that the reader will peruse with pleasure the
letter which M. Blanqui did me the honor to write to me upon the
publication of my second memoir, a letter as honorable to its
author as it is flattering to him to whom it is addressed.

                                        "PARIS, May 1, 1841.

"MONSIEUR,--I hasten to thank you for forwarding to me your
second memoir upon property.  I have read it with all the
interest that an acquaintance with the first would naturally
inspire.  I am very glad that you have modified somewhat the
rudeness of form which gave to a work of such gravity the manner
and appearance of a pamphlet; for you quite frightened me, sir,
and your talent was needed to reassure me in regard to your
intentions.  One does not expend so much real knowledge with the
purpose of inflaming his country.  This proposition, now
coming into notice--PROPERTY IS ROBBERY!--was of a nature to
repel from your book even those serious minds who do not judge by
appearances, had you persisted in maintaining it in its rude
simplicity.  But if you have softened the form, you are none the
less faithful to the ground-work of your doctrines; and although
you have done me the honor to give me a share in this perilous
teaching, I cannot accept a partnership which, as far as talent
goes, would surely be a credit to me, but which would compromise
me in all other respects.

"I agree with you in one thing only; namely, that all kinds of
property get too frequently abused in this world.  But I do not
reason from the abuse to the abolition,--an heroic remedy too
much like death, which cures all evils.  I will go farther: I
will confess that, of all abuses, the most hateful to me are
those of property; but once more, there is a remedy for this evil
without violating it, all the more without destroying it.  If the
present laws allow abuse, we can reconstruct them.  Our civil
code is not the Koran; it is not wrong to examine it.  Change,
then, the laws which govern the use of property, but be sparing
of anathemas; for, logically, where is the honest man whose hands
are entirely clean?  Do you think that one can be a robber
without knowing it, without wishing it, without suspecting it? 
Do you not admit that society in its present state, like every
man, has in its constitution all kinds of virtues and vices
inherited from our ancestors?  Is property, then, in your eyes a
thing so simple and so abstract that you can re-knead and
equalize it, if I may so speak, in your metaphysical mill?  One
who has said as many excellent and practical things as occur in
these two beautiful and paradoxical improvisations of yours
cannot be a pure and unwavering utopist.  You are too well
acquainted with the economical and academical phraseology to play
with the hard words of revolutions.  I believe, then, that you
have handled property as Rousseau, eighty years ago, handled
letters, with a magnificent and poetical display of wit and
knowledge.  Such, at least, is my opinion.

"That is what I said to the Institute at the time when I
presented my report upon your book.  I knew that they wished to
proceed against you in the courts; you perhaps do not know by how
narrow a chance I succeeded in preventing them.[1]  What chagrin
I should always have felt, if the king's counsel, that is to say,
the intellectual executioner, had followed in my very tracks to
attack your book and annoy your person!  I actually passed two
terrible nights, and I succeeded in restraining the secular arm
only by showing that your book was an academical dissertation,
and not the manifesto of an incendiary.  Your style is too lofty
ever to be of service to the madmen who in discussing the gravest
questions of our social order, use paving-stones as their
weapons.  But see to it, sir, that ere long they do not come, in
spite of you, to seek for ammunition in this formidable arsenal,
and that your vigorous metaphysics falls not into the hands of
some sophist of the market-place, who might discuss the question
in the presence of a starving audience: we should have pillage
for conclusion and peroration.

[1] M. Vivien, Minister of Justice, before commencing proceedings
against the "Memoir upon Property," asked the opinion of M.
Blanqui; and it was on the strength of the observations of this
honorable academician that he spared a book  which had already
excited the indignation of the magistrates.  M. Vivien is not the
only official to whom I have been indebted, since my first
publication, for assistance and protection; but such generosity
in the political arena is so rare that one may acknowledge it
graciously and freely.  I have always thought, for my part, that
bad institutions made bad magistrates; just as the cowardice and
hypocrisy of certain bodies results solely from the
spirit which governs them.  Why, for instance, in spite of the
virtues and talents for which they are so noted, are the
academies generally centres of intellectual repression,
stupidity, and base intrigue?  That question ought to be proposed
by an academy: there would be no lack of competitors.

"I feel as deeply as you, sir, the abuses which you point out;
but I have so great an affection for order,--not that common and
strait-laced order with which the police are satisfied, but the
majestic and imposing order of human societies,--that I sometimes
find myself embarrassed in attacking certain abuses.  I like to
rebuild with one hand when I am compelled to destroy with the
other.  In pruning an old tree, we guard against destruction of
the buds and fruit.  You know that as well as any one.  You are a
wise and learned man; you have a thoughtful mind.  The terms by
which you characterize the fanatics of our day are strong enough
to reassure the most suspicious imaginations as to your
intentions; but you conclude in favor of the abolition of
property!  You wish to abolish the most powerful motor of the
human mind; you attack the paternal sentiment in its sweetest
illusions; with one word you arrest the formation of capital, and
we build henceforth upon the sand instead of on a rock.  That I
cannot agree to; and for that reason I have criticised your book,
so full of beautiful pages, so brilliant with knowledge and

"I wish, sir, that my impaired health would permit me to examine
with you, page by page, the memoir which you have done me the
honor to address to me publicly and personally; I think I could
offer some important criticisms.  For the moment, I must content
myself with thanking you for the kind words in which you have
seen fit to speak of me.  We each possess the merit of sincerity;
I desire also the merit of prudence.  You know how deep-seated is
the disease under which the working-people are suffering; I know
how many noble hearts beat under those rude garments, and I feel
an irresistible and fraternal sympathy with the thousands of
brave people who rise early in the morning to labor, to pay their
taxes, and to make our country strong.  I try to serve and
enlighten them, whereas some endeavor to mislead them.  You have
not written directly for them.  You have issued two magnificent
manifestoes, the second more guarded than the first; issue a
third more guarded than the second, and you will take high rank
in science, whose first precept is calmness and impartiality.

"Farewell, sir!  No man's esteem for another can exceed mine for

I should certainly take some exceptions to this noble and
eloquent letter; but I confess that I am more inclined to realize
the prediction with which it terminates than to augment
needlessly the number of my antagonists.  So much controversy
fatigues and wearies me.  The intelligence expended in the
warfare of words is like that employed in battle: it is
intelligence wasted.  M. Blanqui acknowledges that property is
abused in many harmful ways; I call PROPERTY the sum these
abuses exclusively.  To each of us property seems a polygon whose
angles need knocking off; but, the operation performed, M.
Blanqui maintains that the figure will still be a polygon (an
hypothesis admitted in mathematics, although not proven), while I
consider that this figure will be a circle.  Honest people can at
least understand one another.

For the rest, I allow that, in the present state of the question,
the mind may legitimately hesitate before deciding in favor of
the abolition of property.  To gain the victory for one's cause,
it does not suffice simply to overthrow a principle generally
recognized, which has the indisputable merit of systematically
recapitulating our political theories; it is also necessary to
establish the opposite principle, and to formulate the system
which must proceed from it.  Still further, it is necessary to
show the method by which the new system will satisfy all the
moral and political needs which induced the establishment of the
first.  On the following conditions, then, of subsequent
evidence, depends the correctness of my preceding arguments:--

The discovery of a system of absolute equality in which all
existing institutions, save property, or the sum of the abuses of
property, not only may find a place, but may themselves serve as
instruments of equality: individual liberty, the division of
power, the public ministry, the jury system, administrative and
judicial organization, the unity and completeness of instruction,
marriage, the family, heredity in direct and collateral
succession, the right of sale and exchange, the right to make a
will, and even birthright,--a system which, better than property,
guarantees the formation of capital and keeps up the courage of
all; which, from a superior point of view, explains, corrects,
and completes the theories of association hitherto proposed, from
Plato and Pythagoras to Babeuf, Saint Simon, and Fourier; a
system, finally, which, serving as a means of transition, is
immediately applicable.

A work so vast requires, I am aware, the united efforts of twenty
Montesquieus; nevertheless, if it is not given to a single man to
finish, a single one can commence, the enterprise.  The road that
he shall traverse will suffice to show the end and assure the

_Adversus hostem aeterna auctertas esto._

Against the enemy, revendication is eternal.


If I were asked to answer the following question:  WHAT IS
SLAVERY?  and I should answer in one word, IT IS MURDER, my
meaning would be understood at once.  No extended argument would
be required to show that the power to take from a man his
thought, his will, his personality, is a power of life and death;
and that to enslave a man is to kill him.  Why, then, to this
other question:  WHAT IS PROPERTY! may I not likewise answer,
IT IS ROBBERY, without the certainty of being misunderstood;
the second proposition being no other than a transformation of
the first?

I undertake to discuss the vital principle of our government and
our institutions, property:  I am in my right.  I may be mistaken
in the conclusion which shall result from my investigations:  I
am in my right.  I think best to place the last thought of my
book first: still am I in my right.

Such an author teaches that property is a civil right, born of
occupation and sanctioned by law; another maintains that it is a
natural right, originating in labor,--and both of these
doctrines, totally opposed as they may seem, are encouraged and
applauded.  I contend that neither labor, nor occupation, nor
law, can create property; that it is an effect without a cause:
am I censurable?

But murmurs arise!

PROPERTY IS ROBBERY!  That is the war-cry of '93!  That is the
signal of revolutions!

Reader, calm yourself:  I am no agent of discord, no firebrand of
sedition.  I anticipate history by a few days; I disclose a truth
whose development we may try in vain to arrest; I write the
preamble of our future constitution.  This proposition which
seems to you blasphemous--PROPERTY IS ROBBERY--would, if our
prejudices allowed us to consider it, be recognized as the
lightning-rod to shield us from the coming thunderbolt; but too
many interests stand in the way! . . .  Alas! philosophy will not
change the course of events: destiny will fulfill itself
regardless of prophecy.  Besides, must not justice be done and
our education be finished?

PROPERTY IS ROBBERY! . . .  What a revolution in human ideas! 
PROPRIETOR and ROBBER have been at all times expressions as
contradictory as the beings whom they designate are hostile; all
languages have perpetuated this opposition.  On what authority,
then, do you venture to attack universal consent, and give the
lie to the human race?  Who are you, that you should question the
judgment of the nations and the ages?

Of what consequence to you, reader, is my obscure individuality? 
I live, like you, in a century in which reason submits only to
fact and to evidence.  My name, like yours, is TRUTH-
SEEKER.[1]  My mission is written in these words of the law: 
KNOWEST!  The work of our race is to build the temple of
science, and this science includes man and Nature.  Now, truth
reveals itself to all; to-day to Newton and Pascal, tomorrow to
the herdsman in the valley and the journeyman in the shop.  Each
one contributes his stone to the edifice; and, his task
accomplished, disappears.  Eternity precedes us, eternity follows
us: between two infinites, of what account is one poor mortal
that the century should inquire about him?

[1] In Greek, {GREEK e ncg    } examiner; a philosopher whose
business is to seek the truth.

Disregard then, reader, my title and my character, and attend
only to my arguments.  It is in accordance with universal consent
that I undertake to correct universal error; from the OPINION
of the human race I appeal to its FAITH.  Have the courage to
follow me; and, if your will is untrammelled, if your conscience
is free, if your mind can unite two propositions and deduce a
third therefrom, my ideas will inevitably become yours.  In
beginning by giving you my last word, it was my purpose to warn
you, not to defy you; for I am certain that, if you read me, you
will be compelled to assent.  The things of which I am to speak
are so simple and clear that you will be astonished at not having
perceived them before, and you will say:  "I have neglected to
think."  Others offer you the spectacle of genius wresting
Nature's secrets from her, and unfolding before you her sublime
messages; you will find here only a series of experiments upon
JUSTICE and RIGHT a sort of verification of the weights and
measures of your conscience.  The operations shall be conducted
under your very eyes; and you shall weigh the result.

Nevertheless, I build no system.  I ask an end to privilege, the
abolition of slavery, equality of rights, and the reign of law. 
Justice, nothing else; that is the alpha and omega of my
argument: to others I leave the business of governing the world.

One day I asked myself:  Why is there so much sorrow and misery
in society?  Must man always be wretched?  And not satisfied with
the explanations given by the reformers,--these attributing the
general distress to governmental cowardice and incapacity, those
to conspirators and emeutes, still others to ignorance and
general corruption,--and weary of the interminable quarrels of
the tribune and the press, I sought to fathom the matter myself. 
I have consulted the masters of science; I have read a hundred
volumes of philosophy, law, political economy, and history: would
to God that I had lived in a century in which so much reading had
been useless!  I have made every effort to obtain exact
information, comparing doctrines, replying to objections,
continually constructing equations and reductions from arguments,
and weighing thousands of syllogisms in the scales of the most
rigorous logic.  In this laborious work, I have collected many
interesting facts which I shall share with my friends and the
public as soon as I have leisure.  But I must say that I
recognized at once that we had never understood the meaning of
these words, so common and yet so sacred:  JUSTICE, EQUITY,
LIBERTY; that concerning each of these principles our ideas have
been utterly obscure; and, in fact, that this ignorance was the
sole cause, both of the poverty that devours us, and of all the
calamities that have ever afflicted the human race.

My mind was frightened by this strange result:  I doubted my
reason.  What! said I, that which eye has not seen, nor ear
heard, nor insight penetrated, you have discovered!  Wretch,
mistake not the visions of your diseased brain for the truths of
science!  Do you not know (great philosophers have said so) that
in points of practical morality universal error is a

I resolved then to test my arguments; and in entering upon this
new labor I sought an answer to the following questions:  Is it
possible that humanity can have been so long and so universally
mistaken in the application of moral principles?  How and why
could it be mistaken?  How can its error, being universal, be
capable of correction?

These questions, on the solution of which depended the certainty
of my conclusions, offered no lengthy resistance to analysis.  It
will be seen, in chapter V. of this work, that in morals, as in
all other branches of knowledge, the gravest errors are the
dogmas of science; that, even in works of justice, to be mistaken
is a privilege which ennobles man; and that whatever
philosophical merit may attach to me is infinitely small.  To
name a thing is easy: the difficulty is to discern it before its
appearance.  In giving expression to the last stage of an idea,--
an idea which permeates all minds, which to-morrow will be
proclaimed by another if I fail to announce it to-day,--I can
claim no merit save that of priority of utterance.  Do we
eulogize the man who first perceives the dawn?

Yes: all men believe and repeat that equality of conditions is
identical with equality of rights; that PROPERTY and ROBBERY
are synonymous terms; that every social advantage accorded, or
rather usurped, in the name of superior talent or service, is
iniquity and extortion.  All men in their hearts, I say, bear
witness to these truths; they need only to be made to understand

Before entering directly upon the question before me, I must
say a word of the road that I shall traverse.  When Pascal
approached a geometrical problem, he invented a method of
solution; to solve a problem in philosophy a method is equally
necessary.  Well, by how much do the problems of which philosophy
treats surpass in the gravity of their results those discussed by
geometry!  How much more imperatively, then, do they demand for
their solution a profound and rigorous analysis!

It is a fact placed for ever beyond doubt, say the modern
psychologists, that every perception received by the mind is
determined by certain general laws which govern the mind; is
moulded, so to speak, in certain types pre-existing in our
understanding, and which constitutes its original condition. 
Hence, say they, if the mind has no innate IDEAS, it has at
least innate FORMS.  Thus, for example, every phenomenon is of
necessity conceived by us as happening in TIME and SPACE,--
that compels us to infer a CAUSE of its occurrence; every thing
which exists implies the ideas of SUBSTANCE, MODE, RELATION,
NUMBER, &C.; in a word, we form no idea which is not related to
some one of the general principles of reason, independent of
which nothing exists.

These axioms of the understanding, add the psychologists, these
fundamental types, by which all our judgments and ideas are
inevitably shaped, and which our sensations serve only to
illuminate, are known in the schools as CATEGORIES.  Their
primordial existence in the mind is to-day demonstrated; they
need only to be systematized and catalogued.  Aristotle
recognized ten; Kant increased the number to fifteen; M. Cousin
has reduced it to three, to two, to one; and the indisputable
glory of this professor will be due to the fact that, if he has
not discovered the true theory of categories, he has, at least,
seen more clearly than any one else the vast importance of this
question,--the greatest and perhaps the only one with which
metaphysics has to deal.

I confess that I disbelieve in the innateness, not only of
IDEAS, but also of FORMS or LAWS of our understanding; and
I hold the metaphysics of Reid and Kant to be still farther
removed from the truth than that of Aristotle.  However, as I do
not wish to enter here into a discussion of the mind, a task
which would demand much labor and be of no interest to the
public, I shall admit the hypothesis that our most general and
most necessary ideas--such as time, space, substance, and cause--
exist originally in the mind; or, at least, are derived
immediately from its constitution.

But it is a psychological fact none the less true, and one to
which the philosophers have paid too little attention, that
habit, like a second nature, has the power of fixing in the mind
new categorical forms derived from the appearances which impress
us, and by them usually stripped of objective reality, but whose
influence over our judgments is no less predetermining than that
of the original categories.  Hence we reason by the ETERNAL and
ABSOLUTE laws of our mind, and at the same time by the
secondary rules, ordinarily faulty, which are suggested to us by
imperfect observation.  This is the most fecund source of false
prejudices, and the permanent and often invincible cause of a
multitude of errors.  The bias resulting from these prejudices is
so strong that often, even when we are fighting against a
principle which our mind thinks false, which is repugnant to our
reason, and which our conscience disapproves, we defend it
without knowing it, we reason in accordance with it, and we obey
it while attacking it.  Enclosed within a circle, our mind
revolves about itself, until a new observation, creating within
us new ideas, brings to view an external principle which delivers
us from the phantom by which our imagination is possessed.

Thus, we know to-day that, by the laws of a universal magnetism
whose cause is still unknown, two bodies (no obstacle
intervening) tend to unite by an accelerated impelling force
which we call GRAVITATION.  It is gravitation which causes
unsupported bodies to fall to the ground, which gives them
weight, and which fastens us to the earth on which we live. 
Ignorance of this cause was the sole obstacle which prevented the
ancients from believing in the antipodes.  "Can you not see,"
said St. Augustine after Lactantius, "that, if there were men
under our feet, their heads would point downward, and that they
would fall into the sky?"  The bishop of Hippo, who thought the
earth flat because it appeared so to the eye, supposed in
consequence that, if we should connect by straight lines the
zenith with the nadir in different places, these lines would be
parallel with each other; and in the direction of these lines he
traced every movement from above to below.  Thence he naturally
concluded that the stars were rolling torches set in the vault of
the sky; that, if left to themselves, they would fall to the
earth in a shower of fire; that the earth was one vast plain,
forming the lower portion of the world, &c.  If he had been asked
by what the world itself was sustained, he would have answered
that he did not know, but that to God nothing is impossible. 
Such were the ideas of St. Augustine in regard to space and
movement, ideas fixed within him by a prejudice derived from an
appearance, and which had become with him a general and
categorical rule of judgment.  Of the reason why bodies fall his
mind knew nothing; he could only say that a body falls because it

With us the idea of a fall is more complex: to the general ideas
of space and movement which it implies, we add that of attraction
or direction towards a centre, which gives us the higher idea of
cause.  But if physics has fully corrected our judgment in
this respect, we still make use of the prejudice of St.
Augustine; and when we say that a thing has FALLEN, we do not
mean simply and in general that there has been an effect of
gravitation, but specially and in particular that it is towards
the earth, and FROM ABOVE TO BELOW, that this movement has
taken place.  Our mind is enlightened in vain; the imagination
prevails, and our language remains forever incorrigible.  To
DESCEND FROM HEAVEN is as incorrect an expression as to MOUNT
TO HEAVEN; and yet this expression will live as long as men use

TO FALL FROM THE CLOUDS, &C.--are henceforth harmless, because
we know how to rectify them in practice; but let us deign to
consider for a moment how much they have retarded the progress of
science.  If, indeed, it be a matter of little importance to
statistics, mechanics, hydrodynamics, and ballistics, that the
true cause of the fall of bodies should be known, and that our
ideas of the general movements in space should be exact, it is
quite otherwise when we undertake to explain the system of the
universe, the cause of tides, the shape of the earth, and its
position in the heavens: to understand these things we must leave
the circle of appearances.  In all ages there have been ingenious
mechanicians, excellent architects, skilful artillerymen: any
error, into which it was possible for them to fall in regard to
the rotundity of the earth and gravitation, in no wise retarded
the development of their art; the solidity of their buildings and
accuracy of their aim was not affected by it.  But sooner or
later they were forced to grapple with phenomena, which the
supposed parallelism of all perpendiculars erected from the
earth's surface rendered inexplicable: then also commenced a
struggle between the prejudices, which for centuries had sufficed
in daily practice, and the unprecedented opinions which the
testimony of the eyes seemed to contradict.

Thus, on the one hand, the falsest judgments, whether based on
isolated facts or only on appearances, always embrace some truths
whose sphere, whether large or small, affords room for a certain
number of inferences, beyond which we fall into absurdity.  The
ideas of St. Augustine, for example, contained the following
truths: that bodies fall towards the earth, that they fall in a
straight line, that either the sun or the earth moves, that
either the sky or the earth turns, &c.  These general facts
always have been true; our science has added nothing to them. 
But, on the other hand, it being necessary to account for every
thing, we are obliged to seek for principles more and more
comprehensive: that is why we have had to abandon successively,
first the opinion that the world was flat, then the theory which
regards it as the stationary centre of the universe, &c.

If we pass now from physical nature to the moral world, we still
find ourselves subject to the same deceptions of appearance, to
the same influences of spontaneity and habit.  But the
distinguishing feature of this second division of our knowledge
is, on the one hand, the good or the evil which we derive from
our opinions; and, on the other, the obstinacy with which we
defend the prejudice which is tormenting and killing us.

Whatever theory we embrace in regard to the shape of the earth
and the cause of its weight, the physics of the globe does not
suffer; and, as for us, our social economy can derive therefrom
neither profit nor damage.  But it is in us and through us that
the laws of our moral nature work; now, these laws cannot be
executed without our deliberate aid, and, consequently, unless we
know them.  If, then, our science of moral laws is false, it
is evident that, while desiring our own good, we are
accomplishing our own evil; if it is only incomplete, it may
suffice for a time for our social progress, but in the long run
it will lead us into a wrong road, and will finally precipitate
us into an abyss of calamities.

Then it is that we need to exercise our highest judgments; and,
be it said to our glory, they are never found wanting: but then
also commences a furious struggle between old prejudices and new
ideas.  Days of conflagration and anguish!  We are told of the
time when, with the same beliefs, with the same institutions, all
the world seemed happy: why complain of these beliefs; why banish
these institutions?  We are slow to admit that that happy age
served the precise purpose of developing the principle of evil
which lay dormant in society; we accuse men and gods, the powers
of earth and the forces of Nature.  Instead of seeking the cause
of the evil in his mind and heart, man blames his masters, his
rivals, his neighbors, and himself; nations arm themselves, and
slay and exterminate each other, until equilibrium is restored by
the vast depopulation, and peace again arises from the ashes of
the combatants.  So loath is humanity to touch the customs of its
ancestors, and to change the laws framed by the founders of
communities, and confirmed by the faithful observance of the

_Nihil motum ex antiquo probabile est_:  Distrust all
innovations, wrote Titus Livius.  Undoubtedly it would be better
were man not compelled to change: but what! because he is born
ignorant, because he exists only on condition of gradual self-
instruction, must he abjure the light, abdicate his reason, and
abandon himself to fortune?  Perfect health is better than
convalescence: should the sick man, therefore, refuse to be
cured?  Reform, reform! cried, ages since, John the Baptist
and Jesus Christ.  Reform, reform! cried our fathers, fifty years
ago; and for a long time to come we shall shout, Reform, reform!

Seeing the misery of my age, I said to myself:  Among the
principles that support society, there is one which it does not
understand, which its ignorance has vitiated, and which causes
all the evil that exists.  This principle is the most ancient of
all; for it is a characteristic of revolutions to tear down the
most modern principles, and to respect those of long-standing. 
Now the evil by which we suffer is anterior to all revolutions. 
This principle, impaired by our ignorance, is honored and
cherished; for if it were not cherished it would harm nobody, it
would be without influence.

But this principle, right in its purpose, but misunderstood: this
principle, as old as humanity, what is it?  Can it be religion?

All men believe in God: this dogma belongs at once to their
conscience and their mind.  To humanity God is a fact as
primitive, an idea as inevitable, a principle as necessary as are
the categorical ideas of cause, substance, time, and space to our
understanding.  God is proven to us by the conscience prior to
any inference of the mind; just as the sun is proven to us by the
testimony of the senses prior to all the arguments of physics. 
We discover phenomena and laws by observation and experience;
only this deeper sense reveals to us existence.  Humanity
believes that God is; but, in believing in God, what does it
believe?  In a word, what is God?

The nature of this notion of Divinity,--this primitive, universal
notion, born in the race,--the human mind has not yet fathomed. 
At each step that we take in our investigation of Nature and of
causes, the idea of God is extended and exalted; the farther
science advances, the more God seems to grow and broaden. 
Anthropomorphism and idolatry constituted of necessity the faith
of the mind in its youth, the theology of infancy and poesy.  A
harmless error, if they had not endeavored to make it a rule of
conduct, and if they had been wise enough to respect the liberty
of thought.  But having made God in his own image, man wished to
appropriate him still farther; not satisfied with disfiguring the
Almighty, he treated him as his patrimony, his goods, his
possessions.  God, pictured in monstrous forms, became throughout
the world the property of man and of the State.  Such was the
origin of the corruption of morals by religion, and the source of
pious feuds and holy wars.  Thank Heaven! we have learned to
allow every one his own beliefs; we seek for moral laws outside
the pale of religion.  Instead of legislating as to the nature
and attributes of God, the dogmas of theology, and the destiny of
our souls, we wisely wait for science to tell us what to reject
and what to accept.  God, soul, religion,--eternal objects of our
unwearied thought and our most fatal aberrations, terrible
problems whose solution, for ever attempted, for ever remains
unaccomplished,--concerning all these questions we may still be
mistaken, but at least our error is harmless.  With liberty in
religion, and the separation of the spiritual from the temporal
power, the influence of religious ideas upon the progress of
society is purely negative; no law, no political or civil
institution being founded on religion.  Neglect of duties imposed
by religion may increase the general corruption, but it is not
the primary cause; it is only an auxiliary or result.  It is
universally admitted, and especially in the matter which now
engages our attention, that the cause of the inequality of
conditions among men--of pauperism, of universal misery, and of
governmental embarrassments--can no longer be traced to
religion: we must go farther back, and dig still deeper.

But what is there in man older and deeper than the religious

There is man himself; that is, volition and conscience, free-will
and law, eternally antagonistic.  Man is at war with himself:

"Man," say the theologians, "transgressed in the beginning; our
race is guilty of an ancient offence.  For this transgression
humanity has fallen; error and ignorance have become its
sustenance.  Read history, you will find universal proof of this
necessity for evil in the permanent misery of nations.  Man
suffers and always will suffer; his disease is hereditary and
constitutional.  Use palliatives, employ emollients; there is no

Nor is this argument peculiar to the theologians; we find it
expressed in equivalent language in the philosophical writings of
the materialists, believers in infinite perfectibility.  Destutt
de Tracy teaches formally that poverty, crime, and war are the
inevitable conditions of our social state; necessary evils,
against which it would be folly to revolt.  So, call it
same philosophy.

"The first man transgressed."  If the votaries of the Bible
interpreted it faithfully, they would say: MAN ORIGINALLY
TRANSGRESSED, that is, made a mistake; for TO TRANSGRESS, TO
FAIL, TO MAKE A MISTAKE, all mean the same thing.

"The consequences of Adam's transgression are inherited by the
race; the first is ignorance."  Truly, the race, like the
individual, is born ignorant; but, in regard to a multitude of
questions, even in the moral and political spheres, this
ignorance of the race has been dispelled: who says that it will
not depart altogether?  Mankind makes continual progress
toward truth, and light ever triumphs over darkness.  Our disease
is not, then, absolutely incurable, and the theory of the
theologians is worse than inadequate; it is ridiculous, since it
is reducible to this tautology:  "Man errs, because he errs." 
While the true statement is this:  "Man errs, because he learns."

Now, if man arrives at a knowledge of all that he needs to know,
it is reasonable to believe that, ceasing to err, he will cease
to suffer.

But if we question the doctors as to this law, said to be
engraved upon the heart of man, we shall immediately see that
they dispute about a matter of which they know nothing; that,
concerning the most important questions, there are almost as many
opinions as authors; that we find no two agreeing as to the best
form of government, the principle of authority, and the nature of
right; that all sail hap-hazard upon a shoreless and bottomless
sea, abandoned to the guidance of their private opinions which
they modestly take to be right reason.  And, in view of this
medley of contradictory opinions, we say:  "The object of our
investigations is the law, the determination of the social
principle.  Now, the politicians, that is, the social scientists,
do not understand each other; then the error lies in themselves;
and, as every error has a reality for its object, we must look in
their books to find the truth which they have unconsciously
deposited there."

Now, of what do the lawyers and the publicists treat?  Of
what is justice?  What is its principle, its character, its
formula?  To this question our doctors evidently have no reply;
for otherwise their science, starting with a principle clear and
well defined, would quit the region of probabilities, and all
disputes would end.

What is justice?  The theologians answer:  "All justice comes
from God."  That is true; but we know no more than before.

The philosophers ought to be better informed: they have argued so
much about justice and injustice!  Unhappily, an examination
proves that their knowledge amounts to nothing, and that with
them--as with the savages whose every prayer to the sun is simply
_O!  O!_--it is a cry of admiration, love, and enthusiasm; but
who does not know that the sun attaches little meaning to the
interjection O!  That is exactly our position toward the
philosophers in regard to justice.  Justice, they say, is a
GOD--and a thousand other similar things.  What, I ask, does
this pious litany amount to?  To the prayer of the savages:  O!

All the most reasonable teachings of human wisdom concerning
justice are summed up in that famous adage:  DO UNTO OTHERS THAT
But this rule of moral practice is unscientific: what have I a
right to wish that others should do or not do to me?  It is of no
use to tell me that my duty is equal to my right, unless I am
told at the same time what my right is.

Let us try to arrive at something more precise and positive.

Justice is the central star which governs societies, the pole
around which the political world revolves, the principle and the
regulator of all transactions.  Nothing takes place between men
save in the name of RIGHT; nothing without the invocation of
justice.  Justice is not the work of the law: on the
contrary, the law is only a declaration and application of
JUSTICE in all circumstances where men are liable to come in
contact.  If, then, the idea that we form of justice and right
were ill-defined, if it were imperfect or even false, it is clear
that all our legislative applications would be wrong, our
institutions vicious, our politics erroneous: consequently there
would be disorder and social chaos.

This hypothesis of the perversion of justice in our minds, and,
as a necessary result, in our acts, becomes a demonstrated fact
when it is shown that the opinions of men have not borne a
constant relation to the notion of justice and its applications;
that at different periods they have undergone modifications: in a
word, that there has been progress in ideas.  Now, that is what
history proves by the most overwhelming testimony.

Eighteen Hundred years ago, the world, under the rule of the
Caesars, exhausted itself in slavery, superstition, and
voluptuousness.  The people--intoxicated and, as it were,
stupefied by their long-continued orgies--had lost the very
notion of right and duty: war and dissipation by turns swept them
away; usury and the labor of machines (that is of slaves), by
depriving them of the means of subsistence, hindered them from
continuing the species.  Barbarism sprang up again, in a hideous
form, from this mass of corruption, and spread like a devouring
leprosy over the depopulated provinces.  The wise foresaw the
downfall of the empire, but could devise no remedy.  What could
they think indeed?  To save this old society it would have been
necessary to change the objects of public esteem and veneration,
and to abolish the rights affirmed by a justice purely secular;
they said:  "Rome has conquered through her politics and her
gods; any change in theology and public opinion would be folly
and sacrilege.  Rome, merciful toward conquered nations,
though binding them in chains, spared their lives; slaves are the
most fertile source of her wealth; freedom of the nations would
be the negation of her rights and the ruin of her finances. 
Rome, in fact, enveloped in the pleasures and gorged with the
spoils of the universe, is kept alive by victory and government;
her luxury and her pleasures are the price of her conquests: she
can neither abdicate nor dispossess herself."  Thus Rome had the
facts and the law on her side.  Her pretensions were justified by
universal custom and the law of nations.  Her institutions were
based upon idolatry in religion, slavery in the State, and
epicurism in private life; to touch those was to shake society to
its foundations, and, to use our modern expression, to open the
abyss of revolutions.  So the idea occurred to no one; and yet
humanity was dying in blood and luxury.

All at once a man appeared, calling himself The Word of God. 
It is not known to this day who he was, whence he came, nor what
suggested to him his ideas.  He went about proclaiming everywhere
that the end of the existing society was at hand, that the world
was about to experience a new birth; that the priests were
vipers, the lawyers ignoramuses, and the philosophers hypocrites
and liars; that master and slave were equals, that usury and
every thing akin to it was robbery, that proprietors and idlers
would one day burn, while the poor and pure in heart would find a
haven of peace.

This man--The Word of God--was denounced and arrested as a
public enemy by the priests and the lawyers, who well understood
how to induce the people to demand his death.  But this judicial
murder, though it put the finishing stroke to their crimes, did
not destroy the doctrinal seeds which The Word of God had
sown.  After his death, his original disciples travelled about in
all directions, preaching what they called the GOOD NEWS,
creating in their turn millions of missionaries; and, when their
task seemed to be accomplished, dying by the sword of Roman
justice.  This persistent agitation, the war of the executioners
and martyrs, lasted nearly three centuries, ending in the
conversion of the world.  Idolatry was destroyed, slavery
abolished, dissolution made room for a more austere morality, and
the contempt for wealth was sometimes pushed almost to privation.

Society was saved by the negation of its own principles, by a
revolution in its religion, and by violation of its most sacred
rights.  In this revolution, the idea of justice spread to an
extent that had not before been dreamed of, never to return to
its original limits.  Heretofore justice had existed only for the
masters;[1] it then commenced to exist for the slaves.

[1] Religion, laws, marriage, were the privileges of freemen,
and, in the beginning, of nobles only.  Dii majorum gentium--
gods of the patrician families; jus gentium--right of nations;
that is, of families or nobles.  The slave and the plebeian had
no families; their children were treated as the offspring of
animals.  BEASTS they were born, BEASTS they must live.

Nevertheless, the new religion at that time had borne by no means
all its fruits.  There was a perceptible improvement of the
public morals, and a partial release from oppression; but, other
than that, the SEEDS SOWN BY THE SON OF MAN, having fallen into
idolatrous hearts, had produced nothing save innumerable discords
and a quasi-poetical mythology.  Instead of developing into their
practical consequences the principles of morality and government
taught by The Word of God, his followers busied themselves in
speculations as to his birth, his origin, his person, and his
actions; they discussed his parables, and from the conflict of
the most extravagant opinions upon unanswerable questions and
texts which no one understood, was born THEOLOGY,--which may be

The truth of CHRISTIANITY did not survive the age of the
apostles; the GOSPEL, commented upon and symbolized by the
Greeks and Latins, loaded with pagan fables, became literally a
mass of contradictions; and to this day the reign of the
INFALLIBLE CHURCH has been a long era of darkness.  It is said
that the GATES OF HELL will not always prevail, that THE WORD
OF GOD will return, and that one day men will know truth and
justice; but that will be the death of Greek and Roman
Catholicism, just as in the light of science disappeared the
caprices of opinion.

The monsters which the successors of the apostles were bent on
destroying, frightened for a moment, reappeared gradually, thanks
to the crazy fanaticism, and sometimes the deliberate connivance,
of priests and theologians.  The history of the enfranchisement
of the French communes offers constantly the spectacle of the
ideas of justice and liberty spreading among the people, in spite
of the combined efforts of kings, nobles, and clergy.  In the
year 1789 of the Christian era, the French nation, divided by
caste, poor and oppressed, struggled in the triple net of royal
absolutism, the tyranny of nobles and parliaments, and priestly
intolerance.  There was the right of the king and the right of
the priest, the right of the patrician and the right of the
plebeian; there were the privileges of birth, province, communes,
corporations, and trades; and, at the bottom of all, violence,
immorality, and misery.  For some time they talked of
reformation; those who apparently desired it most favoring it
only for their own profit, and the people who were to be the
gainers expecting little and saying nothing.  For a long time
these poor people, either from distrust, incredulity, or
despair, hesitated to ask for their rights: it is said that the
habit of serving had taken the courage away from those old
communes, which in the middle ages were so bold.

Finally a book appeared, summing up the whole matter in these two
IT TO BE?--EVERY THING.  Some one added by way of comment: 

This was a sudden revelation: the veil was torn aside, a thick
bandage fell from all eyes.  The people commenced to reason

If the king is our servant, he ought to report to us;

If he ought to report to us, he is subject to control;

If he can be controlled, he is responsible;

If he is responsible, he is punishable;

If he is punishable, he ought to be punished according to his

If he ought to be punished according to his merits, he can be
punished with death.

Five years after the publication of the brochure of Sieyes, the
third estate was every thing; the king, the nobility, the clergy,
were no more.  In 1793, the nation, without stopping at the
constitutional fiction of the inviolability of the sovereign,
conducted Louis XVI. to the scaffold; in 1830, it accompanied
Charles X. to Cherbourg.  In each case, it may have erred, in
fact, in its judgment of the offence; but, in right, the logic
which led to its action was irreproachable.  The people, in
punishing their sovereign, did precisely that which the
government of July was so severely censured for failing to do
when it refused to execute Louis Bonaparte after the affair of
Strasburg: they struck the true culprit.  It was an
application of the common law, a solemn decree of justice
enforcing the penal laws.[1]

[1] If the chief of the executive power is responsible, so must
the deputies be also.  It is astonishing that this idea has never
occurred to any one; it might be made the subject of an
interesting essay.  But I declare that I would not, for all the
world, maintain it; the people are yet much too logical for me to
furnish them with arguments.

The spirit which gave rise to the movement of '89 was a spirit of
negation; that, of itself, proves that the order of things which
was substituted for the old system was not methodical or well-
considered; that, born of anger and hatred, it could not have the
effect of a science based on observation and study; that its
foundations, in a word, were not derived from a profound
knowledge of the laws of Nature and society.  Thus the people
found that the republic, among the so-called new institutions,
was acting on the very principles against which they had fought,
and was swayed by all the prejudices which they had intended to
destroy.  We congratulate ourselves, with inconsiderate
enthusiasm, on the glorious French Revolution, the regeneration
of 1789, the great changes that have been effected, and the
reversion of institutions: a delusion, a delusion!

When our ideas on any subject, material, intellectual, or social,
undergo a thorough change in consequence of new observations, I
call that movement of the mind REVOLUTION.  If the ideas are
simply extended or modified, there is only PROGRESS.  Thus the
system of Ptolemy was a step in astronomical progress, that of
Copernicus was a revolution.  So, in 1789, there was struggle and
progress; revolution there was none.  An examination of the
reforms which were attempted proves this.

The nation, so long a victim of monarchical selfishness,
thought to deliver itself for ever by declaring that it alone
was sovereign.  But what was monarchy?  The sovereignty of one
man.  What is democracy?  The sovereignty of the nation, or,
rather, of the national majority.  But it is, in both cases, the
sovereignty of man instead of the sovereignty of the law, the
sovereignty of the will instead of the sovereignty of the reason;
in one word, the passions instead of justice.  Undoubtedly, when
a nation passes from the monarchical to the democratic state,
there is progress, because in multiplying the sovereigns we
increase the opportunities of the reason to substitute itself for
the will; but in reality there is no revolution in the
government, since the principle remains the same.  Now, we have
the proof to-day that, with the most perfect democracy, we cannot
be free.[1]

[1]  See De Tocqueville, "Democracy in the United States;" and
Michel Chevalier, "Letters on North America."  Plutarch tells us,
"Life of Pericles," that in Athens honest people were obliged to
conceal themselves while studying, fearing they would be regarded
as aspirants for office.

Nor is that all.  The nation-king cannot exercise its sovereignty
itself; it is obliged to delegate it to agents: this is
constantly reiterated by those who seek to win its favor.  Be
these agents five, ten, one hundred, or a thousand, of what
consequence is the number; and what matters the name?  It is
always the government of man, the rule of will and caprice.  I
ask what this pretended revolution has revolutionized?

We know, too, how this sovereignty was exercised; first by the
Convention, then by the Directory, afterwards confiscated by the
Consul.  As for the Emperor, the strong man so much adored and
mourned by the nation, he never wanted to be dependent on it;
but, as if intending to set its sovereignty at defiance, he dared
to demand its suffrage: that is, its abdication, the abdication
of this inalienable sovereignty; and he obtained it.

But what is sovereignty?  It is, they say, the POWER TO MAKE
LAW.[1]  Another absurdity, a relic of despotism.  The nation
had long seen kings issuing their commands in this form: FOR
SUCH IS OUR PLEASURE; it wished to taste in its turn the
pleasure of making laws.  For fifty years it has brought them
forth by myriads; always, be it understood, through the agency of
representatives.  The play is far from ended.

[1] "Sovereignty," according to Toullier, "is human omnipotence."
A materialistic definition: if sovereignty is any thing, it is a
RIGHT not a FORCE or a faculty.  And what is human

The definition of sovereignty was derived from the definition of
the law.  The law, they said, is THE EXPRESSION OF THE WILL OF
THE SOVEREIGN: then, under a monarchy, the law is the expression
of the will of the king; in a republic, the law is the expression
of the will of the people.  Aside from the difference in the
number of wills, the two systems are exactly identical: both
share the same error, namely, that the law is the expression of a
will; it ought to be the expression of a fact.  Moreover they
followed good leaders: they took the citizen of Geneva for their
prophet, and the contrat social for their Koran.

Bias and prejudice are apparent in all the phrases of the new
legislators.  The nation had suffered from a multitude of
exclusions and privileges; its representatives issued the
following declaration:  ALL MEN ARE EQUAL BY NATURE AND BEFORE
THE LAW; an ambiguous and redundant declaration.  MEN ARE EQUAL
BY NATURE: does that mean that they are equal in size, beauty,
talents, and virtue?  No; they meant, then, political and civil
equality.  Then it would have been sufficient to have said:  ALL

But what is equality before the law?  Neither the constitution of
1790, nor that of '93, nor the granted charter, nor the accepted
charter, have defined it accurately.  All imply an inequality in
fortune and station incompatible with even a shadow of equality
in rights.  In this respect it may be said that all our
constitutions have been faithful expressions of the popular will:
I am going, to prove it.

Formerly the people were excluded from civil and military
offices; it was considered a wonder when the following high-
sounding article was inserted in the Declaration of Rights:  "All
citizens are equally eligible to office; free nations know no
qualifications in their choice of officers save virtues and

They certainly ought to have admired so beautiful an idea: they
admired a piece of nonsense.  Why! the sovereign people,
legislators, and reformers, see in public offices, to speak
plainly, only opportunities for pecuniary advancement.  And,
because it regards them as a source of profit, it decrees the
eligibility of citizens.  For of what use would this precaution
be, if there were nothing to gain by it?  No one would think of
ordaining that none but astronomers and geographers should be
pilots, nor of prohibiting stutterers from acting at the theatre
and the opera.  The nation was still aping the kings: like them
it wished to award the lucrative positions to its friends and
flatterers.  Unfortunately, and this last feature completes the
resemblance, the nation did not control the list of livings; that
was in the hands of its agents and representatives.  They, on the
other hand, took care not to thwart the will of their gracious

This edifying article of the Declaration of Rights, retained in
the charters of 1814 and 1830, implies several kinds of civil
inequality; that is, of inequality before the law: inequality
ofstation, since the public functions are sought only for the
consideration and emoluments which they bring; inequality of
wealth, since, if it had been desired to equalize fortunes,
public service would have been regarded as a duty, not as a
reward; inequality of privilege, the law not stating what it
means by TALENTS and VIRTUES.  Under the empire, virtue and
talent consisted simply in military bravery and devotion to the
emperor; that was shown when Napoleon created his nobility, and
attempted to connect it with the ancients.  To-day, the man who
pays taxes to the amount of two hundred francs is virtuous; the
talented man is the honest pickpocket: such truths as these are
accounted trivial.

The people finally legalized property.  God forgive them, for
they knew not what they did!  For fifty years they have suffered
for their miserable folly.  But how came the people, whose voice,
they tell us, is the voice of God, and whose conscience is
infallible,--how came the people to err?  How happens it that,
when seeking liberty and equality, they fell back into privilege
and slavery?  Always through copying the ancient regime.

Formerly, the nobility and the clergy contributed towards the
expenses of the State only by voluntary aid and gratuitous gift;
their property could not be seized even for debt,--while the
plebeian, overwhelmed by taxes and statute-labor, was continually
tormented, now by the king's tax-gatherers, now by those of the
nobles and clergy.  He whose possessions were subject to mortmain
could neither bequeath nor inherit property; he was treated like
the animals, whose services and offspring belong to their master
by right of accession.  The people wanted the conditions of
OWNERSHIP to be alike for all; they thought that every one
not invent property; but as they had not the same privileges in
regard to it, which the nobles and clergy possessed, they decreed
that the right should be exercised by all under the same
conditions.  The more obnoxious forms of property--statute-labor,
mortmain, maitrise, and exclusion from public office--have
disappeared; the conditions of its enjoyment have been modified:
the principle still remains the same.  There has been progress in
the regulation of the right; there has been no revolution.

These, then, are the three fundamental principles of modern
society, established one after another by the movements of 1789
and 1830:  1. SOVEREIGNTY OF THE HUMAN WILL; in short,
PROPERTY --above JUSTICE, always invoked as the guardian angel
of sovereigns, nobles, and proprietors; JUSTICE, the general,
primitive, categorical law of all society.

We must ascertain whether the ideas of DESPOTISM, CIVIL
INEQUALITY and PROPERTY, are in harmony with the primitive
notion of JUSTICE, and necessarily follow from it,--assuming
various forms according to the condition, position, and relation
of persons; or whether they are not rather the illegitimate
result of a confusion of different things, a fatal association of
ideas.  And since justice deals especially with the questions of
government, the condition of persons, and the possession of
things, we must ascertain under what conditions, judging by
universal opinion and the progress of the human mind, government
is just, the condition of citizens is just, and the possession of
things is just; then, striking out every thing which fails to
meet these conditions, the result will at once tell us what
legitimate government is, what the legitimate condition of
citizens is, and what the legitimate possession of things is; and
finally, as the last result of the analysis, what JUSTICE is.

Is the authority of man over man just?

Everybody answers, "No; the authority of man is only the
authority of the law, which ought to be justice and truth."  The
private will counts for nothing in government, which consists,
first, in discovering truth and justice in order to make the law;
and, second, in superintending the execution of this law.  I do
not now inquire whether our constitutional form of government
satisfies these conditions; whether, for example, the will of the
ministry never influences the declaration and interpretation of
the law; or whether our deputies, in their debates, are more
intent on conquering by argument than by force of numbers: it is
enough for me that my definition of a good government is allowed
to be correct.  This idea is exact.  Yet we see that nothing
seems more just to the Oriental nations than the despotism of
their sovereigns; that, with the ancients and in the opinion of
the philosophers themselves, slavery was just; that in the middle
ages the nobles, the priests, and the bishops felt justified in
holding slaves; that Louis XIV. thought that he was right when he
said, "The State!  I am the State;" and that Napoleon deemed it a
crime for the State to oppose his will.  The idea of justice,
then, applied to sovereignty and government, has not always been
what it is to-day; it has gone on developing and shaping itself
by degrees, until it has arrived at its present state.  But has
it reached its last phase?  I think not: only, as the last
obstacle to be overcome arises from the institution of property
which we have kept intact, in order to finish the reform in
government and consummate the revolution, this very institution
we must attack.

Is political and civil inequality just?

Some say yes; others no.  To the first I would reply that, when
the people abolished all privileges of birth and caste, they
did it, in all probability, because it was for their advantage;
why then do they favor the privileges of fortune more than those
of rank and race?  Because, say they, political inequality is a
result of property; and without property society is impossible:
thus the question just raised becomes a question of property.  To
the second I content myself with this remark:  If you wish to
enjoy political equality, abolish property; otherwise, why do you

Is property just?

Everybody answers without hesitation, "Yes, property is just."  I
say everybody, for up to the present time no one who thoroughly
understood the meaning of his words has answered no.  For it is
no easy thing to reply understandingly to such a question; only
time and experience can furnish an answer.  Now, this answer is
given; it is for us to understand it.  I undertake to prove it.

We are to proceed with the demonstration in the following

I. We dispute not at all, we refute nobody, we deny nothing; we
accept as sound all the arguments alleged in favor of property,
and confine ourselves to a search for its principle, in order
that we may then ascertain whether this principle is faithfully
expressed by property.  In fact, property being defensible on no
ground save that of justice, the idea, or at least the intention,
of justice must of necessity underlie all the arguments that have
been made in defence of property; and, as on the other hand the
right of property is only exercised over those things which can
be appreciated by the senses, justice, secretly objectifying
itself, so to speak, must take the shape of an algebraic formula.

By this method of investigation, we soon see that every argument
which has been invented in behalf of property, WHATEVER IT MAY
BE, always and of necessity leads to equality; that is, to
the negation of property.

The first part covers two chapters: one treating of occupation,
the foundation of our right; the other, of labor and talent,
considered as causes of property and social inequality.

The first of these chapters will prove that the right of
occupation OBSTRUCTS property; the second that the right of
labor DESTROYS it.

II. Property, then, being of necessity conceived as existing only
in connection with equality, it remains to find out why, in spite
of this necessity of logic, equality does not exist.  This new
investigation also covers two chapters: in the first, considering
the fact of property in itself, we inquire whether this fact is
real, whether it exists, whether it is possible; for it would
imply a contradiction, were these two opposite forms of society,
equality and inequality, both possible.  Then we discover,
singularly enough, that property may indeed manifest itself
accidentally; but that, as an institution and principle, it is
mathematically impossible.  So that the axiom of the school--ab
actu ad posse valet consecutio: from the actual to the possible
the inference is good--is given the lie as far as property is

Finally, in the last chapter, calling psychology to our aid, and
probing man's nature to the bottom, we shall disclose the
principle of JUSTICE--its formula and character; we shall state
with precision the organic law of society; we shall explain the
origin of property, the causes of its establishment, its long
life, and its approaching death; we shall definitively establish
its identity with robbery.  And, after having shown that these
CONDITIONS, AND PROPERTY--are one and the same; that they may be
taken for each other, and are reciprocally convertible,--we
shall have no trouble in inferring therefrom, by the principle of
contradiction, the basis of government and right.  There our
investigations will end, reserving the right to continue them in
future works.

The importance of the subject which engages our attention is
recognized by all minds.

"Property," says M. Hennequin, "is the creative and conservative
principle of civil society.  Property is one of those basic
institutions, new theories concerning which cannot be presented
too soon; for it must not be forgotten, and the publicist and
statesman must know, that on the answer to the question whether
property is the principle or the result of social order, whether
it is to be considered as a cause or an effect, depends all
morality, and, consequently, all the authority of human

These words are a challenge to all men of hope and faith; but,
although the cause of equality is a noble one, no one has yet
picked up the gauntlet thrown down by the advocates of property;
no one has been courageous enough to enter upon the struggle. 
The spurious learning of haughty jurisprudence, and the absurd
aphorisms of a political economy controlled by property have
puzzled the most generous minds; it is a sort of password among
the most influential friends of liberty and the interests of the
people that EQUALITY IS A CHIMERA!  So many false theories and
meaningless analogies influence minds otherwise keen, but which
are unconsciously controlled by popular prejudice.  Equality
advances every day--fit aequalitas.  Soldiers of liberty, shall
we desert our flag in the hour of triumph?

A defender of equality, I shall speak without bitterness and
without anger; with the independence becoming a philosopher, with
the courage and firmness of a free man.  May I, in this momentous
struggle, carry into all hearts the light with which I am filled;
and show, by the success of my argument, that equality failed to
conquer by the sword only that it might conquer by the pen!


The Roman law defined property as the right to use and abuse
one's own within the limits of the law--jus utendi et abutendi
re sua, guatenus juris ratio patitur.  A justification of the
word ABUSE has been attempted, on the ground that it signifies,
not senseless and immoral abuse, but only absolute domain.  Vain
distinction! invented as an excuse for property, and powerless
against the frenzy of possession, which it neither prevents nor
represses.  The proprietor may, if he chooses, allow his crops to
rot under foot; sow his field with salt; milk his cows on the
sand; change his vineyard into a desert, and use his vegetable-
garden as a park: do these things constitute abuse, or not?  In
the matter of property, use and abuse are necessarily

According to the Declaration of Rights, published as a preface to
the Constitution of '93, property is "the right to enjoy and
dispose at will of one's goods, one's income, and the fruit of
one's labor and industry."

Code Napoleon, article 544:  "Property is the right to enjoy and
dispose of things in the most absolute manner, provided we do not
overstep the limits prescribed by the laws and regulations."

These two definitions do not differ from that of the Roman law:
all give the proprietor an absolute right over a thing; and as
for the restriction imposed by the code,--PROVIDED WE DO NOT
object is not to limit property, but to prevent the domain of one
proprietor from interfering with that of another.  That is a
confirmation of the principle, not a limitation of it.

There are different kinds of property:  1. Property pure and
simple, the dominant and seigniorial power over a thing; or, as
they term it, NAKED PROPERTY.  2. POSSESSION.  "Possession,"
says Duranton, "is a matter of fact, not of right."  Toullier: 
"Property is a right, a legal power; possession is a fact."  The
tenant, the farmer, the commandite', the usufructuary, are
possessors; the owner who lets and lends for use, the heir who is
to come into possession on the death of a usufructuary, are
proprietors.  If I may venture the comparison: a lover is a
possessor, a husband is a proprietor.

This double definition of property--domain and possession --is of
the highest importance; and it must be clearly understood, in
order to comprehend what is to follow.

From the distinction between possession and property arise two
sorts of rights: the jus in re, the right in a thing, the right
by which I may reclaim the property which I have acquired, in
whatever hands I find it; and the jus ad rem, the right TO a
thing, which gives me a claim to become a proprietor.  Thus the
right of the partners to a marriage over each other's person is
the jus in re; that of two who are betrothed is only the jus
ad rem.  In the first, possession and property are united; the
second includes only naked property.  With me who, as a laborer,
have a right to the possession of the products of Nature and my
own industry,--and who, as a proletaire, enjoy none of
them,--it is by virtue of the jus ad rem that I demand
admittance to the jus in re.

This distinction between the jus in re and the jus ad rem is
the basis of the famous distinction between possessoire and
petitoire,--actual categories of jurisprudence, the whole of
which is included within their vast boundaries.  Petitoire
refers to every thing relating to property; possessoire to that
relating to possession.  In writing this memoir against property,
I bring against universal society an action petitoire:  I prove
that those who do not possess to-day are proprietors by the same
title as those who do possess; but, instead of inferring
therefrom that property should be shared by all, I demand, in the
name of general security, its entire abolition.  If I fail to win
my case, there is nothing left for us (the proletarian class and
myself) but to cut our throats: we can ask nothing more from the
justice of nations; for, as the code of procedure (art 26) tells
us in its energetic style, THE PLAINTIFF WHO HAS BEEN NON-SUITED
ACTION POSSESSOIRE.  If, on the contrary, I gain the case, we
must then commence an action possessoire, that we may be
reinstated in the enjoyment of the wealth of which we are
deprived by property.  I hope that we shall not be forced to that
extremity; but these two actions cannot be prosecuted at once,
such a course being prohibited by the same code of procedure.

Before going to the heart of the question, it will not be useless
to offer a few preliminary remarks.

% 1.--Property as a Natural Right.

The Declaration of Rights has placed property in its list of the
natural and inalienable rights of man, four in all: LIBERTY,
EQUALITY, PROPERTY, SECURITY.  What rule did the legislators of
'93 follow in compiling this list?  None.  They laid down
principles, just as they discussed sovereignty and the laws; from
a general point of view, and according to their own opinion. 
They did every thing in their own blind way.

If we can believe Toullier:  "The absolute rights can be reduced
to three: SECURITY, LIBERTY, PROPERTY."  Equality is eliminated
by the Rennes professor; why?  Is it because LIBERTY implies
it, or because property prohibits it?  On this point the author
of "Droit Civil Explique" is silent: it has not even occurred to
him that the matter is under discussion.

Nevertheless, if we compare these three or four rights with each
other, we find that property bears no resemblance whatever to the
others; that for the majority of citizens it exists only
potentially, and as a dormant faculty without exercise; that for
the others, who do enjoy it, it is susceptible of certain
transactions and modifications which do not harmonize with the
idea of a natural right; that, in practice, governments,
tribunals, and laws do not respect it; and finally that
everybody, spontaneously and with one voice, regards it as

Liberty is inviolable.  I can neither sell nor alienate my
liberty; every contract, every condition of a contract, which has
in view the alienation or suspension of liberty, is null: the
slave, when he plants his foot upon the soil of liberty, at that
moment becomes a free man.  When society seizes a malefactor and
deprives him of his liberty, it is a case of legitimate defence:
whoever violates the social compact by the commission of a crime
declares himself a public enemy; in attacking the liberty of
others, he compels them to take away his own.  Liberty is the
original condition of man; to renounce liberty is to renounce the
nature of man: after that, how could we perform the acts of man?

Likewise, equality before the law suffers neither restriction
nor exception.  All Frenchmen are equally eligible to office:
consequently, in the presence of this equality, condition and
family have, in many cases, no influence upon choice.  The
poorest citizen can obtain judgment in the courts against one
occupying the most exalted station.  Let the millionaire, Ahab,
build a chateau upon the vineyard of Naboth: the court will have
the power, according to the circumstances, to order the
destruction of the chateau, though it has cost millions; and to
force the trespasser to restore the vineyard to its original
state, and pay the damages.  The law wishes all property, that
has been legitimately acquired, to be kept inviolate without
regard to value, and without respect for persons.

The charter demands, it is true, for the exercise of certain
political rights, certain conditions of fortune and capacity; but
all publicists know that the legislator's intention was not to
establish a privilege, but to take security.  Provided the
conditions fixed by law are complied with, every citizen may be
an elector, and every elector eligible.  The right, once
acquired, is the same for all; the law compares neither persons
nor votes.  I do not ask now whether this system is the best; it
is enough that, in the opinion of the charter and in the eyes of
every one, equality before the law is absolute, and, like
liberty, admits of no compromise.

It is the same with the right of security.  Society promises its
members no half-way protection, no sham defence; it binds itself
to them as they bind themselves to it.  It does not say to them,
"I will shield you, provided it costs me nothing; I will protect
you, if I run no risks thereby."  It says, "I will defend you
against everybody; I will save and avenge you, or perish myself."

The whole strength of the State is at the service of each
citizen; the obligation which binds them together is absolute.

How different with property!  Worshipped by all, it is
acknowledged by none: laws, morals, customs, public and private
conscience, all plot its death and ruin.

To meet the expenses of government, which has armies to support,
tasks to perform, and officers to pay, taxes are needed.  Let all
contribute to these expenses: nothing more just.  But why should
the rich pay more than the poor?  That is just, they say, because
they possess more.  I confess that such justice is beyond my

Why are taxes paid?  To protect all in the exercise of their
natural rights--liberty, equality, security, and property; to
maintain order in the State; to furnish the public with useful
and pleasant conveniences.

Now, does it cost more to defend the rich man's life and liberty
than the poor man's?  Who, in time of invasion, famine, or
plague, causes more trouble,--the large proprietor who escapes
the evil without the assistance of the State, or the laborer who
sits in his cottage unprotected from danger?

Is public order endangered more by the worthy citizen, or by the
artisan and journeyman?  Why, the police have more to fear from a
few hundred laborers, out of work, than from two hundred thousand

Does the man of large income appreciate more keenly than the poor
man national festivities, clean streets, and beautiful monuments?

Why, he prefers his country-seat to all the popular pleasures;
and when he wants to enjoy himself, he does not wait for the
greased pole!

One of two things is true: either the proportional tax affords
greater security to the larger tax-payers, or else it is a wrong.

Because, if property is a natural right, as the Declaration of
'93 declares, all that belongs to me by virtue of this right is
as sacred as my person; it is my blood, my life, myself:
whoever touches it offends the apple of my eye.  My income of one
hundred thousand francs is as inviolable as the grisette's daily
wage of seventy-five centimes; her attic is no more sacred than
my suite of apartments.  The tax is not levied in proportion to
strength, size, or skill: no more should it be levied in
proportion to property.

If, then, the State takes more from me, let it give me more in
return, or cease to talk of equality of rights; for otherwise,
society is established, not to defend property, but to destroy
it.  The State, through the proportional tax, becomes the chief
of robbers; the State sets the example of systematic pillage: the
State should be brought to the bar of justice at the head of
those hideous brigands, that execrable mob which it now kills
from motives of professional jealousy.

But, they say, the courts and the police force are established to
restrain this mob; government is a company, not exactly for
insurance, for it does not insure, but for vengeance and
repression.  The premium which this company exacts, the tax, is
divided in proportion to property; that is, in proportion to the
trouble which each piece of property occasions the avengers and
repressers paid by the government.

This is any thing but the absolute and inalienable right of
property.  Under this system the poor and the rich distrust, and
make war upon, each other.  But what is the object of the war? 
Property.  So that property is necessarily accompanied by war
upon property.  The liberty and security of the rich do not
suffer from the liberty and security of the poor; far from that,
they mutually strengthen and sustain each other.  The rich man's
right of property, on the contrary, has to be continually
defended against the poor man's desire for property.  What a
contradiction!  In England they have a poor-rate: they wish me to
pay this tax.  But what relation exists between my natural
and inalienable right of property and the hunger from which ten
million wretched people are suffering?  When religion commands us
to assist our fellows, it speaks in the name of charity, not in
the name of law.  The obligation of benevolence, imposed upon me
by Christian morality, cannot be imposed upon me as a political
tax for the benefit of any person or poor-house.  I will give
alms when I see fit to do so, when the sufferings of others
excite in me that sympathy of which philosophers talk, and in
which I do not believe: I will not be forced to bestow them.  No
one is obliged to do more than comply with this injunction:  IN
OF ANOTHER; an injunction which is the exact definition of
liberty.  Now, my possessions are my own; no one has a claim upon
them: I object to the placing of the third theological virtue in
the order of the day.

Everybody, in France, demands the conversion of the five per
cent. bonds; they demand thereby the complete sacrifice of one
species of property.  They have the right to do it, if public
necessity requires it; but where is the just indemnity promised
by the charter?  Not only does none exist, but this indemnity is
not even possible; for, if the indemnity were equal to the
property sacrificed, the conversion would be useless.

The State occupies the same position to-day toward the
bondholders that the city of Calais did, when besieged by Edward
III, toward its notables.  The English conqueror consented to
spare its inhabitants, provided it would surrender to him its
most distinguished citizens to do with as he pleased.  Eustache
and several others offered themselves; it was noble in them, and
our ministers should recommend their example to the
bondholders.  But had the city the right to surrender them? 
Assuredly not.  The right to security is absolute; the country
can require no one to sacrifice himself.  The soldier standing
guard within the enemy's range is no exception to this rule. 
Wherever a citizen stands guard, the country stands guard with
him: to-day it is the turn of the one, to-morrow of the other. 
When danger and devotion are common, flight is parricide.  No one
has the right to flee from danger; no one can serve as a
scapegoat.  The maxim of Caiaphas--IT IS RIGHT THAT A MAN SHOULD
DIE FOR HIS NATION--is that of the populace and of tyrants; the
two extremes of social degradation.

It is said that all perpetual annuities are essentially
redeemable.  This maxim of civil law, applied to the State, is
good for those who wish to return to the natural equality of
labor and wealth; but, from the point of view of the proprietor,
and in the mouth of conversionists, it is the language of
bankrupts.  The State is not only a borrower, it is an insurer
and guardian of property; granting the best of security, it
assures the most inviolable possession.  How, then, can it force
open the hands of its creditors, who have confidence in it, and
then talk to them of public order and security of property?  The
State, in such an operation, is not a debtor who discharges his
debt; it is a stock-company which allures its stockholders into a
trap, and there, contrary to its authentic promise, exacts from
them twenty, thirty, or forty per cent. of the interest on their

That is not all.  The State is a university of citizens joined
together under a common law by an act of society.  This act
secures all in the possession of their property; guarantees to
one his field, to another his vineyard, to a third his rents, and
to the bondholder, who might have bought real estate but who
preferred to come to the assistance of the treasury, his bonds. 
The State cannot demand, without offering an equivalent, the
sacrifice of an acre of the field or a corner of the vineyard;
still less can it lower rents: why should it have the right to
diminish the interest on bonds?  This right could not justly
exist, unless the bondholder could invest his funds elsewhere to
equal advantage; but being confined to the State, where can he
find a place to invest them, since the cause of conversion, that
is, the power to borrow to better advantage, lies in the State? 
That is why a government, based on the principle of property,
cannot redeem its annuities without the consent of their holders.

The money deposited with the republic is property which it has no
right to touch while other kinds of property are respected; to
force their redemption is to violate the social contract, and
outlaw the bondholders.

The whole controversy as to the conversion of bonds finally
reduces itself to this:--

QUESTION.  Is it just to reduce to misery forty-five thousand
families who derive an income from their bonds of one hundred
francs or less?

ANSWER.  Is it just to compel seven or eight millions of tax-
payers to pay a tax of five francs, when they should pay only
three?  It is clear, in the first place, that the reply is in
reality no reply; but, to make the wrong more apparent, let us
change it thus: Is it just to endanger the lives of one hundred
thousand men, when we can save them by surrendering one hundred
heads to the enemy?  Reader, decide!

All this is clearly understood by the defenders of the present
system.  Yet, nevertheless, sooner or later, the conversion will
be effected and property be violated, because no other course
is possible; because property, regarded as a right, and not being
a right, must of right perish; because the force of events, the
laws of conscience, and physical and mathematical necessity must,
in the end, destroy this illusion of our minds.

To sum up: liberty is an absolute right, because it is to man
what impenetrability is to matter,--a sine qua non of
existence; equality is an absolute right, because without
equality there is no society; security is an absolute right,
because in the eyes of every man his own liberty and life are as
precious as another's.  These three rights are absolute; that is,
susceptible of neither increase nor diminution; because in
society each associate receives as much as he gives,--liberty for
liberty, equality for equality, security for security, body for
body, soul for soul, in life and in death.

But property, in its derivative sense, and by the definitions of
law, is a right outside of society; for it is clear that, if the
wealth of each was social wealth, the conditions would be equal
for all, and it would be a contradiction to say:  PROPERTY IS A
are associated for the sake of liberty, equality, and security,
we are not associated for the sake of property; then if property
is a NATURAL right, this natural right is not SOCIAL, but
ANTI-SOCIAL.  Property and society are utterly irreconcilable
institutions.  It is as impossible to associate two proprietors
as to join two magnets by their opposite poles.  Either society
must perish, or it must destroy property.

If property is a natural, absolute, imprescriptible, and
inalienable right, why, in all ages, has there been so much
speculation as to its origin?--for this is one of its
distinguishing characteristics.  The origin of a natural right! 
Good God! who ever inquired into the origin of the rights of
liberty, security, or equality?  They exist by the same right
that we exist; they are born with us, they live and die with
us.  With property it is very different, indeed.  By law,
property can exist without a proprietor, like a quality without a
subject.  It exists for the human being who as yet is not, and
for the octogenarian who is no more.  And yet, in spite of these
wonderful prerogatives which savor of the eternal and the
infinite, they have never found the origin of property; the
doctors still disagree.  On one point only are they in harmony:
namely, that the validity of the right of property depends upon
the authenticity of its origin.  But this harmony is their
condemnation.  Why have they acknowledged the right before
settling the question of origin?

Certain classes do not relish investigation into the pretended
titles to property, and its fabulous and perhaps scandalous
history.  They wish to hold to this proposition: that property is
a fact; that it always has been, and always will be.  With that
proposition the savant Proudhon[1] commenced his "Treatise on
the Right of Usufruct," regarding the origin of property as a
useless question.  Perhaps I would subscribe to this doctrine,
believing it inspired by a commendable love of peace, were all my
fellow-citizens in comfortable circumstances; but, no!  I will
not subscribe to it.

[1] The Proudhon here referred to is J. B. V. Proudhon; a
distinguished French jurist, and distant relative of the

The titles on which they pretend to base the right of property
are two in number: OCCUPATION and LABOR.  I shall examine
them successively, under all their aspects and in detail; and I
remind the reader that, to whatever authority we appeal, I shall
prove beyond a doubt that property, to be just and possible, must
necessarily have equality for its condition.

% 2.--Occupation, as the Title to Property.

It is remarkable that, at those meetings of the State Council at
which the Code was discussed, no controversy arose as to the
origin and principle of property.  All the articles of Vol.  II.,
Book 2, concerning property and the right of accession, were
passed without opposition or amendment.  Bonaparte, who on other
questions had given his legists so much trouble, had nothing to
say about property.  Be not surprised at it: in the eyes of that
man, the most selfish and wilful person that ever lived, property
was the first of rights, just as submission to authority was the
most holy of duties.

The right of OCCUPATION, or of the FIRST OCCUPANT, is that
which results from the actual, physical, real possession of a
thing.  I occupy a piece of land; the presumption is, that I am
the proprietor, until the contrary is proved.  We know that
originally such a right cannot be legitimate unless it is
reciprocal; the jurists say as much.

Cicero compares the earth to a vast theatre:  _Quemadmodum
theatrum cum commune sit, recte tamen dici potest ejus esse eum
locum quem quisque occuparit_.

This passage is all that ancient philosophy has to say about the
origin of property.

The theatre, says Cicero, is common to all; nevertheless, the
place that each one occupies is called HIS OWN; that is, it is
a place POSSESSED, not a place APPROPRIATED.  This comparison
annihilates property; moreover, it implies equality.  Can I, in a
theatre, occupy at the same time one place in the pit, another in
the boxes, and a third in the gallery?  Not unless I have three
bodies, like Geryon, or can exist in different places at the same
time, as is related of the magician Apollonius.

According to Cicero, no one has a right to more than he needs:
such is the true interpretation of his famous axiom-- _suum
quidque cujusque sit_, to each one that which belongs to him--an
axiom that has been strangely applied.  That which belongs to
each is not that which each MAY possess, but that which each
HAS A RIGHT to possess.  Now, what have we a right to possess? 
That which is required for our labor and consumption; Cicero's
comparison of the earth to a theatre proves it.  According to
that, each one may take what place he will, may beautify and
adorn it, if he can; it is allowable: but he must never allow
himself to overstep the limit which separates him from another. 
The doctrine of Cicero leads directly to equality; for,
occupation being pure toleration, if the toleration is mutual
(and it cannot be otherwise) the possessions are equal.

Grotius rushes into history; but what kind of reasoning is that
which seeks the origin of a right, said to be natural, elsewhere
than in Nature?  This is the method of the ancients: the fact
exists, then it is necessary, then it is just, then its
antecedents are just also.  Nevertheless, let us look into it.

"Originally, all things were common and undivided; they were the
property of all."  Let us go no farther.  Grotius tells us how
this original communism came to an end through ambition and
cupidity; how the age of gold was followed by the age of iron,
&c.  So that property rested first on war and conquest, then on
treaties and agreements.  But either these treaties and
agreements distributed wealth equally, as did the original
communism (the only method of distribution with which the
barbarians were acquainted, and the only form of justice of which
they could conceive; and then the question of origin assumes this
form: how did equality afterwards disappear?)--or else these
treaties and agreements were forced by the strong upon the
weak, and in that case they are null; the tacit consent of
posterity does not make them valid, and we live in a permanent
condition of iniquity and fraud.

We never can conceive how the equality of conditions, having once
existed, could afterwards have passed away.  What was the cause
of such degeneration?  The instincts of the animals are
unchangeable, as well as the differences of species; to suppose
original equality in human society is to admit by implication
that the present inequality is a degeneration from the nature of
this society,--a thing which the defenders of property cannot
explain.  But I infer therefrom that, if Providence placed the
first human beings in a condition of equality, it was an
indication of its desires, a model that it wished them to realize
in other forms; just as the religious sentiment, which it planted
in their hearts, has developed and manifested itself in various
ways.  Man has but one nature, constant and unalterable: he
pursues it through instinct, he wanders from it through
reflection, he returns to it through judgment; who shall say that
we are not returning now?  According to Grotius, man has
abandoned equality; according to me, he will yet return to it. 
How came he to abandon it?  Why will he return to it?  These are
questions for future consideration.

Reid writes as follows:--

"The right of property is not innate, but acquired.  It is not
grounded upon the constitution of man, but upon his actions. 
Writers on jurisprudence have explained its origin in a manner
that may satisfy every man of common understanding.

"The earth is given to men in common for the purposes of life, by
the bounty of Heaven.  But to divide it, and appropriate one part
of its produce to one, another part to another, must be the work
of men who have power and understanding given them, by which
every man may accommodate himself, WITHOUT HURT TO ANY OTHER.

"This common right of every man to what the earth produces,
before it be occupied and appropriated by others, was, by ancient
moralists, very properly compared to the right which every
citizen had to the public theatre, where every man that came
might occupy an empty seat, and thereby acquire a right to it
while the entertainment lasted; but no man had a right to
dispossess another.

"The earth is a great theatre, furnished by the Almighty, with
perfect wisdom and goodness, for the entertainment and employment
of all mankind.  Here every man has a right to accommodate
himself as a spectator, and to perform his part as an actor; but
without hurt to others."

Consequences of Reid's doctrine.

1.  That the portion which each one appropriates may wrong no
one, it must be equal to the quotient of the total amount of
property to be shared, divided by the number of those who are to
share it;

2.  The number of places being of necessity equal at all times to
that of the spectators, no spectator can occupy two places, nor
can any actor play several parts;

3.  Whenever a spectator comes in or goes out, the places of all
contract or enlarge correspondingly: for, says Reid, "THE RIGHT
not absolute; consequently, the occupancy on which it is based,
being a conditional fact, cannot endow this right with a
stability which it does not possess itself.  This seems to have
been the thought of the Edinburgh professor when he added:--

"A right to life implies a right to the necessary means of life;
and that justice, which forbids the taking away the life of an
innocent man, forbids no less the taking from him the necessary
means of life.  He has the same right to defend the one as the
other.  To hinder another man's innocent labor, or to deprive him
of the fruit of it, is an injustice of the same kind, and has the
same effect as to put him in fetters or in prison, and is equally
a just object of resentment."

Thus the chief of the Scotch school, without considering at all
the inequality of skill or labor, posits a priori the
equality of the means of labor, abandoning thereafter to each
laborer the care of his own person, after the eternal axiom: 

The philosopher Reid is lacking, not in knowledge of the
principle, but in courage to pursue it to its ultimate.  If the
right of life is equal, the right of labor is equal, and so is
the right of occupancy.  Would it not be criminal, were some
islanders to repulse, in the name of property, the unfortunate
victims of a shipwreck struggling to reach the shore?  The very
idea of such cruelty sickens the imagination.  The proprietor,
like Robinson Crusoe on his island, wards off with pike and
musket the proletaire washed overboard by the wave of
civilization, and seeking to gain a foothold upon the rocks of
property.  "Give me work!" cries he with all his might to the
proprietor: "don't drive me away, I will work for you at any
price."  "I do not need your services," replies the proprietor,
showing the end of his pike or the barrel of his gun.  "Lower my
rent at least."  "I need my income to live upon."  "How can I pay
you, when I can get no work?"  "That is your business."  Then the
unfortunate proletaire abandons himself to the waves; or, if he
attempts to land upon the shore of property, the proprietor takes
aim, and kills him.

We have just listened to a spiritualist; we will now question a
materialist, then an eclectic: and having completed the circle of
philosophy, we will turn next to law.

According to Destutt de Tracy, property is a necessity of our
nature.  That this necessity involves unpleasant consequences, it
would be folly to deny.  But these consequences are necessary
evils which do not invalidate the principle; so that it as
unreasonable to rebel against property on account of the abuses
which it generates, as to complain of life because it is sure
to end in death.  This brutal and pitiless philosophy promises at
least frank and close reasoning.  Let us see if it keeps its

"We talk very gravely about the conditions of property, . . . as
if it was our province to decide what constitutes
property. . . .  It would seem, to hear certain philosophers and
legislators, that at a certain moment, spontaneously and without
cause, people began to use the words THINE and MINE; and that
they might have, or ought to have, dispensed with them.  But
THINE and MINE were never invented."

A philosopher yourself, you are too realistic.  THINE and
MINE do not necessarily refer to self, as they do when I say
your philosophy, and my equality; for your philosophy is you
philosophizing, and my equality is I professing equality. 
THINE and MINE oftener indicate a relation,--YOUR country,
YOUR parish, YOUR tailor, YOUR milkmaid; MY chamber, MY
seat at the theatre, MY company and MY battalion in the
National Guard.  In the former sense, we may sometimes say MY
labor, MY skill, MY virtue; never MY grandeur nor MY
majesty: in the latter sense only, MY field, MY house, MY
vineyard, MY capital,--precisely as the banker's clerk says
MY cash-box.  In short, THINE and MINE are signs and
expressions of personal, but equal, rights; applied to things
outside of us, they indicate possession, function, use, not

It does not seem possible, but, nevertheless, I shall prove, by
quotations, that the whole theory of our author is based upon
this paltry equivocation.

"Prior to all covenants, men are, not exactly, as Hobbes says, in
a state of HOSTILITY, but of ESTRANGEMENT.  In this state,
justice and injustice are unknown; the rights of one bear no
relation to the rights of another.  All have as many rights as
needs, and all feel it their duty to satisfy those needs by any
means at their command."

Grant it; whether true or false, it matters not.  Destutt de
Tracy cannot escape equality.  On this theory, men, while in 
a state of ESTRANGEMENT, are under no obligations to each
other; they all have the right to satisfy their needs without
regard to the needs of others, and consequently the right to
exercise their power over Nature, each according to his strength
and ability.  That involves the greatest inequality of wealth. 
Inequality of conditions, then, is the characteristic feature of
estrangement or barbarism: the exact opposite of Rousseau's idea.

But let us look farther:--

"Restrictions of these rights and this duty commence at the time
when covenants, either implied or expressed, are agreed upon. 
Then appears for the first time justice and injustice; that is,
the balance between the rights of one and the rights of another,
which up to that time were necessarily equal."

Listen: RIGHTS WERE EQUAL; that means that each individual had
OTHERS.  In other words, that all had the right to injure each
other; that there was no right save force and cunning.  They
injured each other, not only by war and pillage, but also by
usurpation and appropriation.  Now, in order to abolish this
equal right to use force and stratagem,--this equal right to do
evil, the sole source of the inequality of benefits and
injuries,--they commenced to make COVENANTS EITHER IMPLIED OR
EXPRESSED, and established a balance.  Then these agreements and
this balance were intended to secure to all equal comfort; then,
by the law of contradictions, if isolation is the principle of
inequality, society must produce equality.  The social balance is
the equalization of the strong and the weak; for, while they are
not equals, they are strangers; they can form no associations,--
they live as enemies.  Then, if inequality of conditions is a
necessary evil, so is isolation, for society and inequality are
incompatible with each other.  Then, if society is the true
condition of man's existence, so is equality also.  This
conclusion cannot be avoided.

This being so, how is it that, ever since the establishment of
this balance, inequality has been on the increase?  How is it
that justice and isolation always accompany each other?  Destutt
de Tracy shall reply:--

"NEEDS and MEANS, RIGHTS and DUTIES, are products of the
will.  If man willed nothing, these would not exist.  But to have
needs and means, rights and duties, is to HAVE, to POSSESS,
something.  They are so many kinds of property, using the word in
its most general sense: they are things which belong to us."

Shameful equivocation, not justified by the necessity for
generalization!  The word PROPERTY has two meanings:  1. It
designates the quality which makes a thing what it is; the
attribute which is peculiar to it, and especially distinguishes
it.  We use it in this sense when we say THE PROPERTIES OF THE
expresses the right of absolute control over a thing by a free
and intelligent being.  It is used in this sense by writers on
jurisprudence.  Thus, in the phrase, IRON ACQUIRES THE PROPERTY
OF A MAGNET, the word PROPERTY does not convey the same idea
that it does in this one:  I HAVE ACQUIRED THIS MAGNET AS MY
PROPERTY_.  To tell a poor man that he HAS property because he
HAS arms and legs,--that the hunger from which he suffers, and
his power to sleep in the open air are his property,--is to play
upon words, and to add insult to injury.

"The sole basis of the idea of property is the idea of
personality.  As soon as property is born at all, it is born, of
necessity, in all its fulness.  As soon as an individual knows
HIMSELF,--his moral personality, his capacities of enjoyment,
suffering, and action,--he necessarily sees also that this SELF
is exclusive proprietor of the body in which it dwells, its
organs, their powers, faculties, &c. . . .  Inasmuch as
artificial and conventional property exists, there must be
natural property also; for nothing can exist in art without its
counterpart in Nature."

We ought to admire the honesty and judgment of philosophers!  Man
has properties; that is, in the first acceptation of the term,
faculties.  He has property; that is, in its second acceptation,
the right of domain.  He has, then, the property of the property
of being proprietor.  How ashamed I should be to notice such
foolishness, were I here considering only the authority of
Destutt de Tracy!  But the entire human race, since the
origination of society and language, when metaphysics and
dialectics were first born, has been guilty of this puerile
confusion of thought.  All which man could call his own was
identified in his mind with his person.  He considered it as his
property, his wealth; a part of himself, a member of his body, a
faculty of his mind.  The possession of things was likened to
property in the powers of the body and mind; and on this false
analogy was based the right of property,--THE IMITATION OF
NATURE BY ART, as Destutt de Tracy so elegantly puts it.

But why did not this ideologist perceive that man is not
proprietor even of his own faculties?  Man has powers,
attributes, capacities; they are given him by Nature that he may
live, learn, and love: he does not own them, but has only the use
of them; and he can make no use of them that does not harmonize
with Nature's laws.  If he had absolute mastery over his
faculties, he could avoid hunger and cold; he could eat
unstintedly, and walk through fire; he could move mountains, walk
a hundred leagues in a minute, cure without medicines and by the
sole force of his will, and could make himself immortal.  He
could say, "I wish to produce," and his tasks would be finished
with the words; he could say.  "I wish to know," and he would
know; "I love," and he would enjoy.  What then?  Man is not
master of himself, but may be of his surroundings.  Let him use
the wealth of Nature, since he can live only by its use; but let
him abandon his pretensions to the title of proprietor, and
remember that he is called so only metaphorically.

To sum up:  Destutt de Tracy classes together the external
PRODUCTIONS of nature and art, and the POWERS or FACULTIES
of man, making both of them species of property; and upon this
equivocation he hopes to establish, so firmly that it can never
be disturbed, the right of property.  But of these different
kinds of property some are INNATE, as memory, imagination,
strength, and beauty; while others are ACQUIRED, as land,
water, and forests.  In the state of Nature or isolation, the
strongest and most skilful (that is, those best provided with
innate property) stand the best chance of obtaining acquired
property.  Now, it is to prevent this encroachment and the war
which results therefrom, that a balance (justice) has been
employed, and covenants (implied or expressed) agreed upon: it is
to correct, as far as possible, inequality of innate property by
equality of acquired property.  As long as the division remains
unequal, so long the partners remain enemies; and it is the
purpose of the covenants to reform this state of things.  Thus we
have, on the one hand, isolation, inequality, enmity, war,
robbery, murder; on the other, society, equality, fraternity,
peace, and love.  Choose between them!

M. Joseph Dutens--a physician, engineer, and geometrician, but a
very poor legist, and no philosopher at all--is the author of a
"Philosophy of Political Economy," in which he felt it his duty
to break lances in behalf of property.  His reasoning seems to be
borrowed from Destutt de Tracy.  He commences with this
definition of property, worthy of Sganarelle:  "Property is
the right by which a thing is one's own."  Literally translated: 
Property is the right of property.

After getting entangled a few times on the subjects of will,
liberty, and personality; after having distinguished between
distinction similar to Destutt de Tracy's of innate and acquired
property,--M. Joseph Dutens concludes with these two general
propositions:  1. Property is a natural and inalienable right of
every man; 2. Inequality of property is a necessary result of
Nature,--which propositions are convertible into a simpler one: 
All men have an equal right of unequal property.

He rebukes M. de Sismondi for having taught that landed property
has no other basis than law and conventionality; and he says
himself, speaking of the respect which people feel for property,
that "their good sense reveals to them the nature of the
ORIGINAL CONTRACT made between society and proprietors."

He confounds property with possession, communism with equality,
the just with the natural, and the natural with the possible. 
Now he takes these different ideas to be equivalents; now he
seems to distinguish between them, so much so that it would be
infinitely easier to refute him than to understand him. 
Attracted first by the title of the work, "Philosophy of
Political Economy," I have found, among the author's obscurities,
only the most ordinary ideas.  For that reason I will not speak
of him.

M. Cousin, in his "Moral Philosophy," page 15, teaches that all
morality, all laws, all rights are given to man with this
injunction:  "FREE BEING, REMAIN FREE."  Bravo! master; I wish
to remain free if I can.  He continues:--

"Our principle is true; it is good, it is social.  Do not fear to
push it to its ultimate.

"1. If the human person is sacred, its whole nature is sacred;
and particularly its interior actions, its feelings, its
thoughts, its voluntary decisions.  This accounts for the respect
due to philosophy, religion, the arts industry, commerce, and to
all the results of liberty.  I say respect, not simply
toleration; for we do not tolerate a right, we respect it."

I bow my head before this philosophy.

"2. My liberty, which is sacred, needs for its objective action
an instrument which we call the body: the body participates then
in the sacredness of liberty; it is then inviolable.  This is the
basis of the principle of individual liberty.

"3. My liberty needs, for its objective action, material to work
upon; in other words, property or a thing.  This thing or
property naturally participates then in the inviolability of my
person.  For instance, I take possession of an object which has
become necessary and useful in the outward manifestation of my
liberty.  I say, `This object is mine since it belongs to no one
else; consequently, I possess it legitimately.'  So the
legitimacy of possession rests on two conditions.  First, I
possess only as a free being.  Suppress free activity, you
destroy my power to labor.  Now it is only by labor that I can
use this property or thing, and it is only by using it that I
possess it.  Free activity is then the principle of the right of
property.  But that alone does not legitimate possession.  All
men are free; all can use property by labor.  Does that mean that
all men have a right to all property?  Not at all.  To possess
legitimately, I must not only labor and produce in my capacity of
a free being, but I must also be the first to occupy the
property.  In short, if labor and production are the principle of
the right of property, the fact of first occupancy is its
indispensable condition.

"4. I possess legitimately: then I have the right to use my
property as I see fit.  I have also the right to give it away.  I
have also the right to bequeath it; for if I decide to make a
donation, my decision is as valid after my death as during my

In fact, to become a proprietor, in M. Cousin's opinion, one must
take possession by occupation and labor.  I maintain that the
element of time must be considered also; for if the first
occupants have occupied every thing, what are the new comers
to do?  What will become of them, having an instrument with which
to work, but no material to work upon?  Must they devour each
other?  A terrible extremity, unforeseen by philosophical
prudence; for the reason that great geniuses neglect little

Notice also that M. Cousin says that neither occupation nor
labor, taken separately, can legitimate the right of property;
and that it is born only from the union of the two.  This is one
of M. Cousin's eclectic turns, which he, more than any one else,
should take pains to avoid.  Instead of proceeding by the method
of analysis, comparison, elimination, and reduction (the only
means of discovering the truth amid the various forms of thought
and whimsical opinions), he jumbles all systems together, and
then, declaring each both right and wrong, exclaims:  "There you
have the truth."

But, adhering to my promise, I will not refute him.  I will only
prove, by all the arguments with which he justifies the right of
property, the principle of equality which kills it.  As I have
already said, my sole intent is this: to show at the bottom of
all these positions that inevitable major, EQUALITY; hoping
hereafter to show that the principle of property vitiates the
very elements of economical, moral, and governmental science,
thus leading it in the wrong direction.

Well, is it not true, from M. Cousin's point of view, that, if
the liberty of man is sacred, it is equally sacred in all
individuals; that, if it needs property for its objective action,
that is, for its life, the appropriation of material is equally
necessary for all; that, if I wish to be respected in my right of
appropriation, I must respect others in theirs; and,
consequently, that though, in the sphere of the infinite, a
person's power of appropriation is limited only by himself, in
the sphere of the finite this same power is limited by the
mathematical relation between the number of persons and the
space which they occupy?  Does it not follow that if one
individual cannot prevent another--his fellow-man--from
appropriating an amount of material equal to his own, no more can
he prevent individuals yet to come; because, while individuality
passes away, universality persists, and eternal laws cannot be
determined by a partial view of their manifestations?  Must we
not conclude, therefore, that whenever a person is born, the
others must crowd closer together; and, by reciprocity of
obligation, that if the new comer is afterwards to become an
heir, the right of succession does not give him the right of
accumulation, but only the right of choice?

I have followed M. Cousin so far as to imitate his style, and I
am ashamed of it.  Do we need such high-sounding terms, such
sonorous phrases, to say such simple things?  Man needs to labor
in order to live; consequently, he needs tools to work with and
materials to work upon.  His need to produce constitutes his
right to produce.  Now, this right is guaranteed him by his
fellows, with whom he makes an agreement to that effect.  One
hundred thousand men settle in a large country like France with
no inhabitants: each man has a right to 1/100,000 of the land. 
If the number of possessors increases, each one's portion
diminishes in consequence; so that, if the number of inhabitants
rises to thirty-four millions, each one will have a right only to
1/34,000,000.  Now, so regulate the police system and the
government, labor, exchange, inheritance, &c., that the means of
labor shall be shared by all equally, and that each individual
shall be free; and then society will be perfect.

Of all the defenders of property, M. Cousin has gone the
farthest.  He has maintained against the economists that
labor does not establish the right of property unless
preceded by occupation, and against the jurists that the civil
law can determine and apply a natural right, but cannot create
it.  In fact, it is not sufficient to say, "The right of property
is demonstrated by the existence of property; the function of the
civil law is purely declaratory."  To say that, is to confess
that there is no reply to those who question the legitimacy of
the fact itself.  Every right must be justifiable in itself, or
by some antecedent right; property is no exception.  For this
reason, M. Cousin has sought to base it upon the SANCTITY of
the human personality, and the act by which the will assimilates
a thing.  "Once touched by man," says one of M. Cousin's
disciples, "things receive from him a character which transforms
and humanizes them."  I confess, for my part, that I have no
faith in this magic, and that I know of nothing less holy than
the will of man.  But this theory, fragile as it seems to
psychology as well as jurisprudence, is nevertheless more
philosophical and profound than those theories which are based
upon labor or the authority of the law.  Now, we have just seen
to what this theory of which we are speaking leads,--to the
equality implied in the terms of its statement.

But perhaps philosophy views things from too lofty a standpoint,
and is not sufficiently practical; perhaps from the exalted
summit of speculation men seem so small to the metaphysician that
he cannot distinguish between them; perhaps, indeed, the equality
of conditions is one of those principles which are very true and
sublime as generalities, but which it would be ridiculous and
even dangerous to attempt to rigorously apply to the customs of
life and to social transactions.  Undoubtedly, this is a case
which calls for imitation of the wise reserve of moralists and
jurists, who warn us against carrying things to extremes, and
who advise us to suspect every definition; because there is not
one, they say, which cannot be utterly destroyed by developing
its disastrous results--_Omnis definitio in jure civili
periculosa est: parum est enim ut non subverti possit_.  Equality
of conditions,--a terrible dogma in the ears of the proprietor, a
consoling truth at the poor-man's sick-bed, a frightful reality
under the knife of the anatomist,--equality of conditions,
established in the political, civil, and industrial spheres, is
only an alluring impossibility, an inviting bait, a satanic

It is never my intention to surprise my reader.  I detest, as I
do death, the man who employs subterfuge in his words and
conduct.  From the first page of this book, I have expressed
myself so plainly and decidedly that all can see the tendency of
my thought and hopes; and they will do me the justice to say,
that it would be difficult to exhibit more frankness and more
boldness at the same time.  I do not hesitate to declare that the
time is not far distant when this reserve, now so much admired in
philosophers--this happy medium so strongly recommended by
professors of moral and political science--will be regarded as
the disgraceful feature of a science without principle, and as
the seal of its reprobation.  In legislation and morals, as well
as in geometry, axioms are absolute, definitions are certain; and
all the results of a principle are to be accepted, provided they
are logically deduced.  Deplorable pride!  We know nothing of our
nature, and we charge our blunders to it; and, in a fit of
unaffected ignorance, cry out, "The truth is in doubt, the best
definition defines nothing!"  We shall know some time whether
this distressing uncertainty of jurisprudence arises from the
nature of its investigations, or from our prejudices; whether, to
explain social phenomena, it is not enough to change our
hypothesis, as did Copernicus when he reversed the system of

But what will be said when I show, as I soon shall, that this
same jurisprudence continually tries to base property upon
equality?  What reply can be made?

% 3.--Civil Law as the Foundation and Sanction of Property.

Pothier seems to think that property, like royalty, exists by
divine right.  He traces back its origin to God himself--ab Jove
principium.  He begins in this way:--

"God is the absolute ruler of the universe and all that it
contains:  _Domini est terra et plenitudo ejus, orbis et universi
qui habitant in eo_.  For the human race he has created the earth
and all its creatures, and has given it a control over them
subordinate only to his own.  `Thou madest him to have dominion
over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his
feet,' says the Psalmist.  God accompanied this gift with these
words, addressed to our first parents after the creation: `Be
fruitful, and multiply and replenish the earth,'" &c.

After this magnificent introduction, who would refuse to believe
the human race to be an immense family living in brotherly union,
and under the protection of a venerable father?  But, heavens!
are brothers enemies?  Are fathers unnatural, and children

GOD GAVE THE EARTH TO THE HUMAN RACE: why then have I received
none?  HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS UNDER MY FEET,--and I have not
where to lay my head!  MULTIPLY, he tells us through his
interpreter, Pothier.  Ah, learned Pothier! that is as easy to do
as to say; but you must give moss to the bird for its nest.

"The human race having multiplied, men divided among themselves
the earth and most of the things upon it; that which fell to
each, from that time exclusively belonged to him.  That was the
origin of the right of property."

Say, rather, the right of possession.  Men lived in a state of
communism; whether positive or negative it matters little. 
Then there was no property, not even private possession.  The
genesis and growth of possession gradually forcing people to
labor for their support, they agreed either formally or
tacitly,--it makes no difference which,--that the laborer should
be sole proprietor of the fruit of his labor; that is, they
simply declared the fact that thereafter none could live without
working.  It necessarily followed that, to obtain equality of
products, there must be equality of labor; and that, to obtain
equality of labor, there must be equality of facilities for
labor.  Whoever without labor got possession, by force or by
strategy, of another's means of subsistence, destroyed equality,
and placed himself above or outside of the law.  Whoever
monopolized the means of production on the ground of greater
industry, also destroyed equality.  Equality being then the
expression of right, whoever violated it was UNJUST.

Thus, labor gives birth to private possession; the right in a
thing--jus in re.  But in what thing?  Evidently IN THE
PRODUCT, not IN THE SOIL.  So the Arabs have always understood
it; and so, according to Caesar and Tacitus, the Germans formerly
held.  "The Arabs," says M. de Sismondi, "who admit a man's
property in the flocks which he has raised, do not refuse the
crop to him who planted the seed; but they do not see why
another, his equal, should not have a right to plant in his turn.

The inequality which results from the pretended right of the
first occupant seems to them to be based on no principle of
justice; and when all the land falls into the hands of a certain
number of inhabitants, there results a monopoly in their favor
against the rest of the nation, to which they do not wish to

Well, they have shared the land.  I admit that therefrom results
a more powerful organization of labor; and that this method of
distribution, fixed and durable, is advantageous to
production: but how could this division give to each a
transferable right of property in a thing to which all had an
inalienable right of possession?  In the terms of jurisprudence,
this metamorphosis from possessor to proprietor is legally
impossible; it implies in the jurisdiction of the courts the
union of possessoire and petitoire; and the mutual
concessions of those who share the land are nothing less than
traffic in natural rights.  The original cultivators of the land,
who were also the original makers of the law, were not as learned
as our legislators, I admit; and had they been, they could not
have done worse: they did not foresee the consequences of the
transformation of the right of private possession into the right
of absolute property.  But why have not those, who in later times
have established the distinction between jus in re and jus ad
rem, applied it to the principle of property itself?

Let me call the attention of the writers on jurisprudence to
their own maxims.

The right of property, provided it can have a cause, can have but
one--_Dominium non potest nisi ex una causa contingere_.  I can
possess by several titles; I can become proprietor by only one--
_Non ut ex pluribus causis idem nobis deberi potest, ita ex
pluribus causis idem potest nostrum esse_.  The field which I
have cleared, which I cultivate, on which I have built my house,
which supports myself, my family, and my livestock, I can
possess:  1st. As the original occupant; 2d. As a laborer; 3d. By
virtue of the social contract which assigns it to me as my share.

But none of these titles confer upon me the right of property. 
For, if I attempt to base it upon occupancy, society can reply,
"I am the original occupant."  If I appeal to my labor, it will
say, "It is only on that condition that you possess."  If I speak
of agreements, it will respond, "These agreements establish only
your right of use."  Such, however, are the only titles which
proprietors advance.  They never have been able to discover any
others.  Indeed, every right--it is Pothier who says it--supposes
a producing cause in the person who enjoys it; but in man who
lives and dies, in this son of earth who passes away like a
shadow, there exists, with respect to external things, only
titles of possession, not one title of property.  Why, then, has
society recognized a right injurious to itself, where there is no
producing cause?  Why, in according possession, has it also
conceded property?  Why has the law sanctioned this abuse of

The German Ancillon replies thus:--

"Some philosophers pretend that man, in employing his forces upon
a natural object,--say a field or a tree,--acquires a right only
to the improvements which he makes, to the form which he gives to
the object, not to the object itself.  Useless distinction!  If
the form could be separated from the object, perhaps there would
be room for question; but as this is almost always impossible,
the application of man's strength to the different parts of the
visible world is the foundation of the right of property, the
primary origin of riches."

Vain pretext!  If the form cannot be separated from the object,
nor property from possession, possession must be shared; in any
case, society reserves the right to fix the conditions of
property.  Let us suppose that an appropriated farm yields a
gross income of ten thousand francs; and, as very seldom happens,
that this farm cannot be divided.  Let us suppose farther that,
by economical calculation, the annual expenses of a family are
three thousand francs: the possessor of this farm should be
obliged to guard his reputation as a good father of a family, by
paying to society ten thousand francs,--less the total costs of
cultivation, and the three thousand francs required for the
maintenance of his family.  This payment is not rent, it is an

What sort of justice is it, then, which makes such laws as

"Whereas, since labor so changes the form of a thing that the
form and substance cannot be separated without destroying the
thing itself, either society must be disinherited, or the laborer
must lose the fruit of his labor; and

"Whereas, in every other case, property in raw material would
give a title to added improvements, minus their cost; and
whereas, in this instance, property in improvements ought to give
a title to the principal;

"Therefore, the right of appropriation by labor shall never be
admitted against individuals, but only against society."

In such a way do legislators always reason in regard to property.

The law is intended to protect men's mutual rights,--that is, the
rights of each against each, and each against all; and, as if a
proportion could exist with less than four terms, the law-makers
always disregard the latter.  As long as man is opposed to man,
property offsets property, and the two forces balance each other;
as soon as man is isolated, that is, opposed to the society which
he himself represents, jurisprudence is at fault: Themis has lost
one scale of her balance.

Listen to the professor of Rennes, the learned Toullier:--

"How could this claim, made valid by occupation, become stable
and permanent property, which might continue to stand, and which
might be reclaimed after the first occupant had relinquished

"Agriculture was a natural consequence of the multiplication of
the human race, and agriculture, in its turn, favors population,
and necessitates the establishment of permanent property; for who
would take the trouble to plough and sow, if he were not certain
that he would reap?"

To satisfy the husbandman, it was sufficient to guarantee him
possession of his crop; admit even that he should have been
protected in his right of occupation of land, as long as he
remained its cultivator.  That was all that he had a right to
expect; that was all that the advance of civilization
demanded.  But property, property! the right of escheat over
lands which one neither occupies nor cultivates,--who had
authority to grant it? who pretended to have it?

"Agriculture alone was not sufficient to establish permanent
property; positive laws were needed, and magistrates to execute
them; in a word, the civil State was needed.

"The multiplication of the human race had rendered agriculture
necessary; the need of securing to the cultivator the fruit of
his labor made permanent property necessary, and also laws for
its protection.  So we are indebted to property for the creation
of the civil State."

Yes, of our civil State, as you have made it; a State which, at
first, was despotism, then monarchy, then aristocracy, today
democracy, and always tyranny.

"Without the ties of property it never would have been possible
to subordinate men to the wholesome yoke of the law; and without
permanent property the earth would have remained a vast forest. 
Let us admit, then, with the most careful writers, that if
transient property, or the right of preference resulting from
occupation, existed prior to the establishment of civil society,
permanent property, as we know it to-day, is the work of civil
law.  It is the civil law which holds that, when once acquired,
property can be lost only by the action of the proprietor, and
that it exists even after the proprietor has relinquished
possession of the thing, and it has fallen into the hands of a
third party.

"Thus property and possession, which originally were confounded,
became through the civil law two distinct and independent things;
two things which, in the language of the law, have nothing
whatever in common.  In this we see what a wonderful change has
been effected in property, and to what an extent Nature has been
altered by the civil laws."

Thus the law, in establishing property, has not been the
expression of a psychological fact, the development of a natural
law, the application of a moral principle.  It has literally
CREATED a right outside of its own province.  It has realized
an abstraction, a metaphor, a fiction; and that without deigning
to look at the consequences, without considering the
disadvantages, without inquiring whether it was right or wrong.

It has sanctioned selfishness; it has indorsed monstrous
pretensions; it has received with favor impious vows, as if it
were able to fill up a bottomless pit, and to satiate hell! 
Blind law; the law of the ignorant man; a law which is not a law;
the voice of discord, deceit, and blood!  This it is which,
continually revived, reinstated, rejuvenated, restored, re-
enforced--as the palladium of society--has troubled the
consciences of the people, has obscured the minds of the masters,
and has induced all the catastrophes which have befallen nations.

This it is which Christianity has condemned, but which its
ignorant ministers deify; who have as little desire to study
Nature and man, as ability to read their Scriptures.

But, indeed, what guide did the law follow in creating the domain
of property?  What principle directed it?  What was its standard?

Would you believe it?  It was equality.

Agriculture was the foundation of territorial possession, and the
original cause of property.  It was of no use to secure to the
farmer the fruit of his labor, unless the means of production
were at the same time secured to him.  To fortify the weak
against the invasion of the strong, to suppress spoliation and
fraud, the necessity was felt of establishing between possessors
permanent lines of division, insuperable obstacles.  Every year
saw the people multiply, and the cupidity of the husbandman
increase: it was thought best to put a bridle on ambition by
setting boundaries which ambition would in vain attempt to
overstep.  Thus the soil came to be appropriated through need of
the equality which is essential to public security and peaceable
possession.  Undoubtedly the division was never geographically
equal; a multitude of rights, some founded in Nature, but wrongly
interpreted and still more wrongly applied, inheritance, gift,
and exchange; others, like the privileges of birth and
position, the illegitimate creations of ignorance and brute
force,--all operated to prevent absolute equality.  But,
nevertheless, the principle remained the same: equality had
sanctioned possession; equality sanctioned property.

The husbandman needed each year a field to sow; what more
convenient and simple arrangement for the barbarians,--instead of
indulging in annual quarrels and fights, instead of continually
moving their houses, furniture, and families from spot to spot,--
than to assign to each individual a fixed and inalienable estate?

It was not right that the soldier, on returning from an
expedition, should find himself dispossessed on account of the
services which he had just rendered to his country; his estate
ought to be restored to him.  It became, therefore, customary to
retain property by intent alone--_nudo animo;_ it could be
sacrificed only with the consent and by the action of the

It was necessary that the equality in the division should be kept
up from one generation to another, without a new distribution of
the land upon the death of each family; it appeared therefore
natural and just that children and parents, according to the
degree of relationship which they bore to the deceased, should be
the heirs of their ancestors.  Thence came, in the first place,
the feudal and patriarchal custom of recognizing only one heir;
then, by a quite contrary application of the principle of
equality, the admission of all the children to a share in their
father's estate, and, very recently also among us, the definitive
abolition of the right of primogeniture.

But what is there in common between these rude outlines of
instinctive organization and the true social science?  How could
these men, who never had the faintest idea of statistics,
valuation, or political economy, furnish us with principles
of legislation?

"The law," says a modern writer on jurisprudence, "is the
expression of a social want, the declaration of a fact: the
legislator does not make it, he declares it.  `This definition is
not exact.  The law is a method by which social wants must be
satisfied; the people do not vote it, the legislator does not
express it: the savant discovers and formulates it.  But in
fact, the law, according to M. Ch. Comte, who has devoted half a
volume to its definition, was in the beginning only the
EXPRESSION OF A WANT, and the indication of the means of
supplying it; and up to this time it has been nothing else.  The
legists--with mechanical fidelity, full of obstinacy, enemies of
philosophy, buried in literalities--have always mistaken for the
last word of science that which was only the inconsiderate
aspiration of men who, to be sure, were well-meaning, but wanting
in foresight.

They did not foresee, these old founders of the domain of
property, that the perpetual and absolute right to retain one's
estate,--a right which seemed to them equitable, because it was
common,--involves the right to transfer, sell, give, gain, and
lose it; that it tends, consequently, to nothing less than the
destruction of that equality which they established it to
maintain.  And though they should have foreseen it, they
disregarded it; the present want occupied their whole attention,
and, as ordinarily happens in such cases, the disadvantages were
at first scarcely perceptible, and they passed unnoticed.

They did not foresee, these ingenuous legislators, that if
property is retainable by intent alone--_nudo animo_--it carries
with it the right to let, to lease, to loan at interest, to
profit by exchange, to settle annuities, and to levy a tax on a
field which intent reserves, while the body is busy elsewhere.

They did not foresee, these fathers of our jurisprudence, that,
if the right of inheritance is any thing other than Nature's
method of preserving equality of wealth, families will soon
become victims of the most disastrous exclusions; and society,
pierced to the heart by one of its most sacred principles, will
come to its death through opulence and misery.[1]

[1] Here, especially, the simplicity of our ancestors appears in
all its rudeness.  After having made first cousins heirs, where
there were no legitimate children, they could not so divide the
property between two different branches as to prevent the
simultaneous existence of extreme wealth and extreme poverty in
the same family.  For example:--

James, dying, leaves two sons, Peter and John, heirs of his
fortune: James's property is divided equally between them.  But
Peter has only one daughter, while John, his brother, leaves six
sons.  It is clear that, to be true to the principle of equality,
and at the same time to that of heredity, the two estates must be
divided in seven equal portions among the children of Peter and
John; for otherwise a stranger might marry Peter's daughter, and
by this alliance half of the property of James, the grandfather,
would be transferred to another family, which is contrary to the
principle of heredity.  Furthermore, John's children would be
poor on account of their number, while their cousin, being an
only child, would be rich, which is contrary to the principle of
equality.  If we extend this combined application of two
principles apparently opposed to each other, we shall become
convinced that the right of succession, which is assailed with so
little wisdom in our day, is no obstacle to the maintenance of

Under whatever form of government we live, it can always be said
that _le mort saisit le vif;_ that is, that inheritance and
succession will last for ever, whoever may be the recognized
heir.  But the St. Simonians wish the heir to be designated by
the magistrate; others wish him to be chosen by the deceased, or
assumed by the law to be so chosen: the essential point is that
Nature's wish be satisfied, so far as the law of equality allows.

To-day the real controller of inheritance is chance or caprice;
now, in matters of legislation, chance and caprice cannot be
accepted as guides.  It is for the purpose of avoiding the
manifold disturbances which follow in the wake of chance that
Nature, after having created us equal, suggests to us the
principle of heredity; which serves as a voice by which society
asks us to choose, from among all our brothers, him whom we judge
best fitted to complete our unfinished work.

They did not foresee. . . .  But why need I go farther?

The consequences are plain enough, and this is not the time
to criticise the whole Code.

The history of property among the ancient nations is, then,
simply a matter of research and curiosity.  It is a rule of
jurisprudence that the fact does not substantiate the right. 
Now, property is no exception to this rule: then the universal
recognition of the right of property does not legitimate the
right of property.  Man is mistaken as to the constitution of
society, the nature of right, and the application of justice;
just as he was mistaken regarding the cause of meteors and the
movement of the heavenly bodies.  His old opinions cannot be
taken for articles of faith.  Of what consequence is it to us
that the Indian race was divided into four classes; that, on the
banks of the Nile and the Ganges, blood and position formerly
determined the distribution of the land; that the Greeks and
Romans placed property under the protection of the gods; that
they accompanied with religious ceremonies the work of
partitioning the land and appraising their goods?  The variety of
the forms of privilege does not sanction injustice.  The faith of
Jupiter, the proprietor,[1] proves no more against the equality
of citizens, than do the mysteries of Venus, the wanton, against
conjugal chastity.

[1] _Zeus klesios_.

The authority of the human race is of no effect as evidence in
favor of the right of property, because this right, resting of
necessity upon equality, contradicts its principle; the decision
of the religions which have sanctioned it is of no effect,
because in all ages the priest has submitted to the prince, and
the gods have always spoken as the politicians desired; the
social advantages, attributed to property, cannot
be cited in its behalf, because they all spring from the
principle of equality of possession.

What means, then, this dithyramb upon property?

"The right of property is the most important of human
institutions." . . .

Yes; as monarchy is the most glorious.

"The original cause of man's prosperity upon earth."

Because justice was supposed to be its principle.

"Property became the legitimate end of his ambition, the hope of
his existence, the shelter of his family; in a word, the corner-
stone of the domestic dwelling, of communities, and of the
political State."

Possession alone produced all that.

"Eternal principle,--"

Property is eternal, like every negation,--

"Of all social and civil institutions."

For that reason, every institution and every law based on
property will perish.

"It is a boon as precious as liberty."

For the rich proprietor.

"In fact, the cause of the cultivation of the habitable earth."

If the cultivator ceased to be a tenant, would the land be worse
cared for?

"The guarantee and the morality of labor."

Under the regime of property, labor is not a condition, but a

"The application of justice."

What is justice without equality of fortunes?  A balance with
false weights.

"All morality,--"

A famished stomach knows no morality,--

"All public order,--"

Certainly, the preservation of property,--

"Rest on the right of property."[1]

[1 Giraud, "Investigations into the Right of Property among the

Corner-stone of all which is, stumbling-block of all which ought
to be,--such is property.

To sum up and conclude:--

Not only does occupation lead to equality, it PREVENTS
property.  For, since every man, from the fact of his existence,
has the right of occupation, and, in order to live, must have
material for cultivation on which he may labor; and since, on the
other hand, the number of occupants varies continually with the
births and deaths,--it follows that the quantity of material
which each laborer may claim varies with the number of occupants;
consequently, that occupation is always subordinate to
population.  Finally, that, inasmuch as possession, in right, can
never remain fixed, it is impossible, in fact, that it can ever
become property.

Every occupant is, then, necessarily a possessor or
usufructuary,--a function which excludes proprietorship.  Now,
this is the right of the usufructuary: he is responsible for the
thing entrusted to him; he must use it in conformity with general
utility, with a view to its preservation and development; he has
no power to transform it, to diminish it, or to change its
nature; he cannot so divide the usufruct that another shall
perform the labor while he receives the product.  In a word, the
usufructuary is under the supervision of society, submitted to
the condition of labor and the law of equality.

Thus is annihilated the Roman definition of property--THE RIGHT
OF USE AND ABUSE--an immorality born of violence, the
most monstrous pretension that the civil laws ever
sanctioned.  Man receives his usufruct from the hands of society,
which alone is the permanent possessor.  The individual passes
away, society is deathless.

What a profound disgust fills my soul while discussing such
simple truths ! Do we doubt these things to-day?  Will it be
necessary to again take arms for their triumph?  And can force,
in default of reason, alone introduce them into our laws?



This no code has ever expressed; this no constitution can admit! 
These are axioms which the civil law and the law of nations
deny! . . . . .

But I hear the exclamations of the partisans of another system: 
"Labor, labor! that is the basis of property!"

Reader, do not be deceived.  This new basis of property is worse
than the first, and I shall soon have to ask your pardon for
having demonstrated things clearer, and refuted pretensions more
unjust, than any which we have yet considered.


Nearly all the modern writers on jurisprudence, taking their cue
from the economists, have abandoned the theory of first occupancy
as a too dangerous one, and have adopted that which regards
property as born of labor.  In this they are deluded; they reason
in a circle.  To labor it is necessary to occupy, says M. Cousin.

Consequently, I have added in my turn, all having an equal right
of occupancy, to labor it is necessary to submit to equality. 
"The rich," exclaims Jean Jacques, "have the arrogance to say, `I
built this wall; I earned this land by my labor.'  Who set you
the tasks? we may reply, and by what right do you demand payment
from us for labor which we did not impose upon you?"  All
sophistry falls to the ground in the presence of this argument.

But the partisans of labor do not see that their system is an
absolute contradiction of the Code, all the articles and
provisions of which suppose property to be based upon the fact of
first occupancy.  If labor, through the appropriation which
results from it, alone gives birth to property, the Civil Code
lies, the charter is a falsehood, our whole social system is a
violation of right.  To this conclusion shall we come, at the
end of the discussion which is to occupy our attention in this
chapter and the following one, both as to the right of labor and
the fact of property.  We shall see, on the one hand, our
legislation in opposition to itself; and, on the other hand, our
new jurisprudence in opposition both to its own principle and to
our legislation.

I have asserted that the system which bases property upon labor
implies, no less than that which bases it upon occupation, the
equality of fortunes; and the reader must be impatient to learn
how I propose to deduce this law of equality from the inequality
of skill and faculties: directly his curiosity shall be
satisfied.  But it is proper that I should call his attention for
a moment to this remarkable feature of the process; to wit, the
substitution of labor for occupation as the principle of
property; and that I should pass rapidly in review some of the
prejudices to which proprietors are accustomed to appeal, which
legislation has sanctioned, and which the system of labor
completely overthrows.

Reader, were you ever present at the examination of a criminal? 
Have you watched his tricks, his turns, his evasions, his
distinctions, his equivocations?  Beaten, all his assertions
overthrown, pursued like a fallow deer by the in exorable judge,
tracked from hypothesis to hypothesis,--he makes a statement, he
corrects it, retracts it, contradicts it, he exhausts all the
tricks of dialectics, more subtle, more ingenious a thousand
times than he who invented the seventy-two forms of the
syllogism.  So acts the proprietor when called upon to defend his
right.  At first he refuses to reply, he exclaims, he threatens,
he defies; then, forced to accept the discussion, he arms himself
with chicanery, he surrounds himself with formidable artillery,--
crossing his fire, opposing one by one and all together
occupation, possession, limitation, covenants, immemorial
custom, and universal consent.  Conquered on this ground, the
proprietor, like a wounded boar, turns on his pursuers.  "I have
done more than occupy," he cries with terrible emotion; "I have
labored, produced, improved, transformed, CREATED.  This house,
these fields, these trees are the work of my hands; I changed
these brambles into a vineyard, and this bush into a fig-tree;
and to-day I reap the harvest of my labors.  I have enriched the
soil with my sweat; I have paid those men who, had they not had
the work which I gave them, would have died of hunger.  No one
shared with me the trouble and expense; no one shall share with
me the benefits."

You have labored, proprietor! why then do you speak of original
occupancy?  What, were you not sure of your right, or did you
hope to deceive men, and make justice an illusion?  Make haste,
then, to acquaint us with your mode of defence, for the judgment
will be final; and you know it to be a question of restitution.

You have labored! but what is there in common between the labor
which duty compels you to perform, and the appropriation of
things in which there is a common interest?  Do you not know that
domain over the soil, like that over air and light, cannot be
lost by prescription?

You have labored! have you never made others labor?  Why, then,
have they lost in laboring for you what you have gained in not
laboring for them?

You have labored! very well; but let us see the results of your
labor.  We will count, weigh, and measure them.  It will be the
judgment of Balthasar; for I swear by balance, level, and square,
that if you have appropriated another's labor in any way
whatsoever, you shall restore it every stroke.

Thus, the principle of occupation is abandoned; no longer is it
said, "The land belongs to him who first gets possession of it. 
Property, forced into its first intrenchment, repudiates its old
adage; justice, ashamed, retracts her maxims, and sorrow lowers
her bandage over her blushing cheeks.  And it was but yesterday
that this progress in social philosophy began: fifty centuries
required for the extirpation of a lie!  During this lamentable
period, how many usurpations have been sanctioned, how many
invasions glorified, how many conquests celebrated!  The absent
dispossessed, the poor banished, the hungry excluded by wealth,
which is so ready and bold in action!  Jealousies and wars,
incendiarism and bloodshed, among the nations!  But henceforth,
thanks to the age and its spirit, it is to be admitted that the
earth is not a prize to be won in a race; in the absence of any
other obstacle, there is a place for everybody under the sun. 
Each one may harness his goat to the bearn, drive his cattle to
pasture, sow a corner of a field, and bake his bread by his own

But, no; each one cannot do these things.  I hear it proclaimed
on all sides, "Glory to labor and industry! to each according to
his capacity; to each capacity according to its results!"  And I
see three-fourths of the human race again despoiled, the labor of
a few being a scourge to the labor of the rest.

"The problem is solved," exclaims M. Hennequin.  "Property, the
daughter of labor, can be enjoyed at present and in the future
only under the protection of the laws.  It has its origin in
natural law; it derives its power from civil law; and from the
union of these two ideas, LABOR and PROTECTION, positive
legislation results." . . .

What, then, is the right of accession, and the right of
succession, and the right of donation, &c., if not the right to
become a proprietor by simple occupancy?  What are your laws
concerning the age of majority, emancipation, guardianship, and
interdiction, if not the various conditions by which he who is
already a laborer gains or loses the right of occupancy; that is,

Being unable, at this time, to enter upon a detailed discussion
of the Code, I shall content myself with examining the three
arguments oftenest resorted to in support of property.  1.
APPROPRIATION, or the formation of property by possession; 2.
inquire into the effects of labor upon the relative condition of
the laborers and upon property.

% 1.--The Land cannot be Appropriated.

"It would seem that lands capable of cultivation ought to be
regarded as natural wealth, since they are not of human creation,
but Nature's gratuitous gift to man; but inasmuch as this wealth
is not fugitive, like the air and water,--inasmuch as a field is
a fixed and limited space which certain men have been able to
appropriate, to the exclusion of all others who in their turn
have consented to this appropriation,--the land, which was a
natural and gratuitous gift, has become social wealth, for the
use of which we ought to pay."--SAY:  POLITICAL ECONOMY.

Was I wrong in saying, at the beginning of this chapter, that the
economists are the very worst authorities in matters of
legislation and philosophy?  It is the FATHER of this class of
men who clearly states the question, How can the supplies of
Nature, the wealth created by Providence, become private
property? and who replies by so gross an equivocation that we
scarcely know which the author lacks, sense or honesty.  What, I
ask, has the fixed and solid nature of the earth to do with the
right of appropriation?  I can understand that a thing LIMITED
and STATIONARY, like the land, offers greater chances for
appropriation than the water or the sunshine; that it is easier
to exercise the right of domain over the soil than over the
atmosphere: but we are not dealing with the difficulty of the
thing, and Say confounds the right with the possibility.  We do
not ask why the earth has been appropriated to a greater extent
than the sea and the air; we want to know by what right man has

Say, then, did not solve the question which he asked.  But if he
had solved it, if the explanation which he has given us were as
satisfactory as it is illogical, we should know no better than
before who has a right to exact payment for the use of the soil,
of this wealth which is not man's handiwork.  Who is entitled to
the rent of the land?  The producer of the land, without doubt. 
Who made the land?  God.  Then, proprietor, retire!

But the creator of the land does not sell it: he gives it; and,
in giving it, he is no respecter of persons.  Why, then, are some
of his children regarded as legitimate, while others are treated
as bastards?  If the equality of shares was an original right,
why is the inequality of conditions a posthumous right?

Say gives us to understand that if the air and the water were not
of a FUGITIVE nature, they would have been appropriated.  Let
me observe in passing that this is more than an hypothesis; it is
a reality.  Men have appropriated the air and the water, I will
not say as often as they could, but as often as they have been
allowed to.

The Portuguese, having discovered the route to India by the Cape
of Good Hope, pretended to have the sole right to that route; and
Grotius, consulted in regard to this matter by the Dutch who
refused to recognize this right, wrote expressly for this
occasion his treatise on the "Freedom of the Seas," to prove that
the sea is not liable to appropriation.

The right to hunt and fish used always to be confined to lords
and proprietors; to-day it is leased by the government and
communes to whoever can pay the license-fee and the rent.  To
regulate hunting and fishing is an excellent idea, but to make it
a subject of sale is to create a monopoly of air and water.

What is a passport?  A universal recommendation of the
traveller's person; a certificate of security for himself and his
property.  The treasury, whose nature it is to spoil the best
things, has made the passport a means of espionage and a tax.  Is
not this a sale of the right to travel?

Finally, it is permissible neither to draw water from a spring
situated in another's grounds without the permission of the
proprietor, because by the right of accession the spring belongs
to the possessor of the soil, if there is no other claim; nor to
pass a day on his premises without paying a tax; nor to look at a
court, a garden, or an orchard, without the consent of the
proprietor; nor to stroll in a park or an enclosure against the
owner's will: every one is allowed to shut himself up and to
fence himself in.  All these prohibitions are so many positive
interdictions, not only of the land, but of the air and water. 
We who belong to the proletaire class: property excommunicates
us!  _Terra, et aqua, et aere, et igne interdicti sumus_.

Men could not appropriate the most fixed of all the elements
without appropriating the three others; since, by French and
Roman law, property in the surface carries with it property from
zenith to nadir--_Cujus est solum, ejus est usque ad caelum_. 
Now, if the use of water, air, and fire excludes property, so
does the use of the soil.  This chain of reasoning seems to
have been presented by M. Ch. Comte, in his "Treatise on
Property," chap. 5.

"If a man should be deprived of air for a few moments only, he
would cease to exist, and a partial deprivation would cause him
severe suffering; a partial or complete deprivation of food would
produce like effects upon him though less suddenly; it would be
the same, at least in certain climates! were he deprived of all
clothing and shelter. . . .  To sustain life, then, man needs
continually to appropriate many different things.  But these
things do not exist in like proportions.  Some, such as the light
of the stars, the atmosphere of the earth, the water composing
the seas and oceans, exist in such large quantities that men
cannot perceive any sensible increase or diminution; each one can
appropriate as much as his needs require without detracting from
the enjoyment of others, without causing them the least harm. 
Things of this sort are, so to speak, the common property of the
human race; the only duty imposed upon each individual in this
regard is that of infringing not at all upon the rights of

Let us complete the argument of M. Ch. Comte.  A man who should
be prohibited from walking in the highways, from resting in the
fields, from taking shelter in caves, from lighting fires, from
picking berries, from gathering herbs and boiling them in a bit
of baked clay,--such a man could not live.  Consequently the
earth--like water, air, and light--is a primary object of
necessity which each has a right to use freely, without
infringing another's right.  Why, then, is the earth
appropriated?  M. Ch. Comte's reply is a curious one.  Say
pretends that it is because it is not FUGITIVE; M. Ch. Comte
assures us that it is because it is not INFINITE.  The land is
limited in amount.  Then, according to M. Ch. Comte, it ought to
be appropriated.  It would seem, on the contrary, that he ought
to say, Then it ought not to be appropriated.  Because, no matter
how large a quantity of air or light any one appropriates, no one
is damaged thereby; there always remains enough for all.  With
the soil, it is very different.  Lay hold who will, or who
can, of the sun's rays, the passing breeze, or the sea's billows;
he has my consent, and my pardon for his bad intentions.  But let
any living man dare to change his right of territorial possession
into the right of property, and I will declare war upon him, and
wage it to the death!

M. Ch. Comte's argument disproves his position.  "Among the
things necessary to the preservation of life," he says, "there
are some which exist in such large quantities that they are
inexhaustible; others which exist in lesser quantities, and can
satisfy the wants of only a certain number of persons.  The
former are called COMMON, the latter PRIVATE."

This reasoning is not strictly logical.  Water, air, and light
are COMMON things, not because they are INEXHAUSTIBLE, but
because they are INDISPENSABLE; and so indispensable that for
that very reason Nature has created them in quantities almost
infinite, in order that their plentifulness might prevent their
appropriation.  Likewise the land is indispensable to our
existence,--consequently a common thing, consequently
insusceptible of appropriation; but land is much scarcer than the
other elements, therefore its use must be regulated, not for the
profit of a few, but in the interest and for the security of all.

In a word, equality of rights is proved by equality of needs. 
Now, equality of rights, in the case of a commodity which is
limited in amount, can be realized only by equality of
possession.  An agrarian law underlies M. Ch. Comte's arguments.

From whatever point we view this question of property--provided
we go to the bottom of it--we reach equality.  I will not insist
farther on the distinction between things which can, and things
which cannot, be appropriated.  On this point, economists and
legists talk worse than nonsense.  The Civil Code, after having
defined property, says nothing about susceptibility of
appropriation; and if it speaks of things which are in THE
MARKET, it always does so without enumerating or describing
them.  However, light is not wanting.  There are some few maxims
such as these: _Ad reges potestas omnium pertinet, ad singulos
proprietas; Omnia rex imperio possidet, singula dominio_.  Social
sovereignty opposed to private property!--might not that be
called a prophecy of equality, a republican oracle?  Examples
crowd upon us: once the possessions of the church, the estates of
the crown, the fiefs of the nobility were inalienable and
imprescriptible.  If, instead of abolishing this privilege, the
Constituent had extended it to every individual; if it had
declared that the right of labor, like liberty, can never be
forfeited,--at that moment the revolution would have been
consummated, and we could now devote ourselves to improvement in
other directions.

% 2.--Universal Consent no Justification of Property.

In the extract from Say, quoted above, it is not clear whether
the author means to base the right of property on the stationary
character of the soil, or on the consent which he thinks all men
have granted to this appropriation.  His language is such that it
may mean either of these things, or both at once; which entitles
us to assume that the author intended to say, "The right of
property resulting originally from the exercise of the will, the
stability of the soil permitted it to be applied to the land, and
universal consent has since sanctioned this application."

However that may be, can men legitimate property by mutual
consent?  I say, no.  Such a contract, though drafted by Grotius,
Montesquieu, and J. J. Rousseau, though signed by the whole human
race, would be null in the eyes of justice, and an act to
enforce it would be illegal.  Man can no more give up labor than
liberty.  Now, to recognize the right of territorial property is
to give up labor, since it is to relinquish the means of labor;
it is to traffic in a natural right, and divest ourselves of

But I wish that this consent, of which so much is made, had been
given, either tacitly or formally.  What would have been the
result?  Evidently, the surrenders would have been reciprocal; no
right would have been abandoned without the receipt of an
equivalent in exchange.  We thus come back to equality again,--
the sine qua non of appropriation; so that, after having
justified property by universal consent, that is, by equality, we
are obliged to justify the inequality of conditions by property. 
Never shall we extricate ourselves from this dilemma.  Indeed,
if, in the terms of the social compact, property has equality for
its condition, at the moment when equality ceases to exist, the
compact is broken and all property becomes usurpation.  We gain
nothing, then, by this pretended consent of mankind.

% 3.--Prescription Gives No Title to Property.

The right of property was the origin of evil on the earth, the
first link in the long chain of crimes and misfortunes which the
human race has endured since its birth.  The delusion of
prescription is the fatal charm thrown over the intellect, the
death sentence breathed into the conscience, to arrest man's
progress towards truth, and bolster up the worship of error.

The Code defines prescription thus:  "The process of gaining and
losing through the lapse of time."  In applying this definition
to ideas and beliefs, we may use the word PRESCRIPTION to
denote the everlasting prejudice in favor of old
superstitions, whatever be their object; the opposition,
often furious and bloody, with which new light has always been
received, and which makes the sage a martyr.  Not a principle,
not a discovery, not a generous thought but has met, at its
entrance into the world, with a formidable barrier of
preconceived opinions, seeming like a conspiracy of all old
prejudices.  Prescriptions against reason, prescriptions against
facts, prescriptions against every truth hitherto unknown,--that
is the sum and substance of the _statu quo_ philosophy, the
watchword of conservatives throughout the centuries.

When the evangelical reform was broached to the world, there was
prescription in favor of violence, debauchery, and selfishness;
when Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, and their disciples
reconstructed philosophy and the sciences, there was prescription
in favor of the Aristotelian philosophy; when our fathers of '89
demanded liberty and equality, there was prescription in favor of
tyranny and privilege.  "There always have been proprietors and
there always will be:" it is with this profound utterance, the
final effort of selfishness dying in its last ditch, that the
friends of social inequality hope to repel the attacks of their
adversaries; thinking undoubtedly that ideas, like property, can
be lost by prescription.

Enlightened to-day by the triumphal march of science, taught by
the most glorious successes to question our own opinions, we
receive with favor and applause the observer of Nature, who, by a
thousand experiments based upon the most profound analysis,
pursues a new principle, a law hitherto undiscovered.  We take
care to repel no idea, no fact, under the pretext that abler men
than ourselves lived in former days, who did not notice the same
phenomena, nor grasp the same analogies.  Why do we not preserve
a like attitude towards political and philosophical questions? 
Why this ridiculous mania for affirming that every thing has
been said, which means that we know all about mental and moral
science?  Why is the proverb, THERE IS NOTHING NEW UNDER THE
SUN, applied exclusively to metaphysical investigations?

Because we still study philosophy with the imagination, instead
of by observation and method; because fancy and will are
universally regarded as judges, in the place of arguments and
facts,--it has been impossible to this day to distinguish the
charlatan from the philosopher, the savant from the impostor. 
Since the days of Solomon and Pythagoras, imagination has been
exhausted in guessing out social and psychological laws; all
systems have been proposed.  Looked at in this light, it is
probably true that EVERY THING HAS BEEN SAID; but it is no less
true that EVERY THING REMAINS TO BE PROVED.  In politics (to
take only this branch of philosophy), in politics every one is
governed in his choice of party by his passion and his interests;
the mind is submitted to the impositions of the will,--there is
no knowledge, there is not even a shadow of certainty.  In this
way, general ignorance produces general tyranny; and while
liberty of thought is written in the charter, slavery of thought,
under the name of MAJORITY RULE, is decreed by the charter.

In order to confine myself to the civil prescription of which the
Code speaks, I shall refrain from beginning a discussion upon
this worn-out objection brought forward by proprietors; it would
be too tiresome and declamatory.  Everybody knows that there are
rights which cannot be prescribed; and, as for those things which
can be gained through the lapse of time, no one is ignorant of
the fact that prescription requires certain conditions, the
omission of one of which renders it null.  If it is true, for
example, that the proprietor's possession has been CIVIL,
PUBLIC, PEACEABLE, and UNINTERRUPTED, it is none the less
true that it is not based on a just title; since the only titles
which it can show--occupation and labor--prove as much for the
proletaire who demands, as for the proprietor who defends. 
Further, this possession is DISHONEST, since it is founded on a
violation of right, which prevents prescription, according to the
saying of St. Paul--_Nunquam in usucapionibus juris error
possessori prodest_.  The violation of right lies either in the
fact that the holder possesses as proprietor, while he should
possess only as usufructuary; or in the fact that he has
purchased a thing which no one had a right to transfer or sell.

Another reason why prescription cannot be adduced in favor of
property (a reason borrowed from jurisprudence) is that the right
to possess real estate is a part of a universal right which has
never been totally destroyed even at the most critical periods;
and the proletaire, in order to regain the power to exercise it
fully, has only to prove that he has always exercised it in part.

He, for example, who has the universal right to possess, give,
exchange, loan, let, sell, transform, or destroy a thing,
preserves the integrity of this right by the sole act of loaning,
though he has never shown his authority in any other manner. 
RIGHTS, LIBERTY, WILL, PERSONALITY, are so many identical
expressions of one and the same idea,--the RIGHT OF
PRESERVATION and DEVELOPMENT; in a word, the right of life,
against which there can be no prescription until the human race
has vanished from the face of the earth.

Finally, as to the time required for prescription, it would be
superfluous to show that the right of property in general cannot
be acquired by simple possession for ten, twenty, a hundred, a
thousand, or one hundred thousand years; and that, so long as
there exists a human head capable of understanding and
combating the right of property, this right will never be
prescribed.  For principles of jurisprudence and axioms of reason
are different from accidental and contingent facts.  One man's
possession can prescribe against another man's possession; but
just as the possessor cannot prescribe against himself, so reason
has always the faculty of change and reformation.  Past error is
not binding on the future.  Reason is always the same eternal
force.  The institution of property, the work of ignorant reason,
may be abrogated by a more enlightened reason.  Consequently,
property cannot be established by prescription.  This is so
certain and so true, that on it rests the maxim that in the
matter of prescription a violation of right goes for nothing.

But I should be recreant to my method, and the reader would have
the right to accuse me of charlatanism and bad faith, if I had
nothing further to advance concerning prescription.  I showed, in
the first place, that appropriation of land is illegal; and that,
supposing it to be legal, it must be accompanied by equality of
property.  I have shown, in the second place, that universal
consent proves nothing in favor of property; and that, if it
proves any thing, it proves equality of property.  I have yet to
show that prescription, if admissible at all, presupposes
equality of property.

This demonstration will be neither long nor difficult.  I need
only to call attention to the reasons why prescription was

"Prescription," says Dunod, "seems repugnant to natural equity,
which permits no one either to deprive another of his possessions
without his knowledge and consent, or to enrich himself at
another's expense.  But as it might often happen, in the absence
of prescription, that one who had honestly earned would be ousted
after long possession; and even that he who had received a thing
from its rightful owner, or who had been legitimately relieved
from all obligations, would, on losing his title, be liable
to be dispossessed or subjected again,--the public welfare
demanded that a term should be fixed, after the expiration of
which no one should be allowed to disturb actual possessors, or
reassert rights too long neglected. . . .  The civil law, in
regulating prescription, has aimed, then, only to perfect natural
law, and to supplement the law of nations; and as it is founded
on the public good, which should always be considered before
individual welfare,--_bono publico usucapio introducta est_,--it
should be regarded with favor, provided the conditions required
by the law are fulfilled."

Toullier, in his "Civil Law," says:  "In order that the question
of proprietorship may not remain too long unsettled, and thereby
injure the public welfare, disturbing the peace of families and
the stability of social transactions, the law has fixed a time
when all claims shall be cancelled, and possession shall regain
its ancient prerogative through its transformation into

Cassiodorus said of property, that it was the only safe harbor in
which to seek shelter from the tempests of chicanery and the
gales of avarice--_Hic unus inter humanas pro cellas portus, quem
si homines fervida voluntate praeterierint; in undosis semper
jurgiis errabunt_.

Thus, in the opinion of the authors, prescription is a means of
preserving public order; a restoration in certain cases of the
original mode of acquiring property; a fiction of the civil law
which derives all its force from the necessity of settling
differences which otherwise would never end.  For, as Grotius
says, time has no power to produce effects; all things happen in
time, but nothing is done by time.  Prescription, or the right of
acquisition through the lapse of time, is, therefore, a fiction
of the law, conventionally adopted.

But all property necessarily originated in prescription, or, as
the Latins say, in _usucapion;_ that is, in continued possession.

I ask, then, in the first place, how possession can become
property by the lapse of time?  Continue possession as long as
you wish, continue it for years and for centuries, you never
can give duration--which of itself creates nothing, changes
nothing, modifies nothing--the power to change the usufructuary
into a proprietor.  Let the civil law secure against chance-
comers the honest possessor who has held his position for many
years,--that only confirms a right already respected; and
prescription, applied in this way, simply means that possession
which has continued for twenty, thirty, or a hundred years shall
be retained by the occupant.  But when the law declares that the
lapse of time changes possessor into proprietor, it supposes that
a right can be created without a producing cause; it
unwarrantably alters the character of the subject; it legislates
on a matter not open to legislation; it exceeds its own powers. 
Public order and private security ask only that possession shall
be protected.  Why has the law created property?  Prescription
was simply security for the future; why has the law made it a
matter of privilege?

Thus the origin of prescription is identical with that of
property itself; and since the latter can legitimate itself only
when accompanied by equality, prescription is but another of the
thousand forms which the necessity of maintaining this precious
equality has taken.  And this is no vain induction, no far-
fetched inference.  The proof is written in all the codes.

And, indeed, if all nations, through their instinct of justice
and their conservative nature, have recognized the utility and
the necessity of prescription; and if their design has been to
guard thereby the interests of the possessor,--could they not do
something for the absent citizen, separated from his family and
his country by commerce, war, or captivity, and in no position to
exercise his right of possession?  No.  Also, at the same time
that prescription was introduced into the laws, it was
admitted that property is preserved by intent alone,--_nudo
animo_.  Now, if property is preserved by intent alone, if it can
be lost only by the action of the proprietor, what can be the use
of prescription?  How does the law dare to presume that the
proprietor, who preserves by intent alone, intended to abandon
that which he has allowed to be prescribed?  What lapse of time
can warrant such a conjecture; and by what right does the law
punish the absence of the proprietor by depriving him of his
goods?  What then! we found but a moment since that prescription
and property were identical; and now we find that they are
mutually destructive!

Grotius, who perceived this difficulty, replied so singularly
that his words deserve to be quoted: _ Bene sperandum de
hominibus, ac propterea non putandum eos hoc esse animo ut, rei
caducae causa, hominem alterum velint in perpetuo peccato
versari, quo d evitari saepe non poterit sine tali derelictione_.

"Where is the man," he says, "with so unchristian a soul that,
for a trifle, he would perpetuate the trespass of a possessor,
which would inevitably be the result if he did not consent to
abandon his right?"  By the Eternal!  I am that man.  Though a
million proprietors should burn for it in hell, I lay the blame
on them for depriving me of my portion of this world's goods.  To
this powerful consideration Grotius rejoins, that it is better to
abandon a disputed right than to go to law, disturb the peace of
nations, and stir up the flames of civil war.  I accept, if you
wish it, this argument, provided you indemnify me.  But if this
indemnity is refused me, what do I, a proletaire, care for the
tranquillity and security of the rich?  I care as little for
PUBLIC ORDER as for the proprietor's safety.  I ask to live a
laborer; otherwise I will die a warrior.

Whichever way we turn, we shall come to the conclusion that
prescription is a contradiction of property; or rather that
prescription and property are two forms of the same principle,
but two forms which serve to correct each other; and ancient and
modern jurisprudence did not make the least of its blunders in
pretending to reconcile them.  Indeed, if we see in the
institution of property only a desire to secure to each
individual his share of the soil and his right to labor; in the
distinction between naked property and possession only an asylum
for absentees, orphans, and all who do not know, or cannot
maintain, their rights; in prescription only a means, either of
defence against unjust pretensions and encroachments, or of
settlement of the differences caused by the removal of
possessors,--we shall recognize in these various forms of human
justice the spontaneous efforts of the mind to come to the aid of
the social instinct; we shall see in this protection of all
rights the sentiment of equality, a constant levelling tendency. 
And, looking deeper, we shall find in the very exaggeration of
these principles the confirmation of our doctrine; because, if
equality of conditions and universal association are not soon
realized, it will be owing to the obstacle thrown for the time in
the way of the common sense of the people by the stupidity of
legislators and judges; and also to the fact that, while society
in its original state was illuminated with a flash of truth, the
early speculations of its leaders could bring forth nothing but

After the first covenants, after the first draughts of laws and
constitutions, which were the expression of man's primary needs,
the legislator's duty was to reform the errors of legislation; to
complete that which was defective; to harmonize, by superior
definitions, those things which seemed to conflict.  Instead of
that, they halted at the literal meaning of the laws, content to
play the subordinate part of commentators and scholiasts. 
Taking the inspirations of the human mind, at that time
necessarily weak and faulty, for axioms of eternal and
unquestionable truth,--influenced by public opinion, enslaved by
the popular religion,--they have invariably started with the
principle (following in this respect the example of the
theologians) that that is infallibly true which has been admitted
by all persons, in all places, and at all times--_quod ab
omnibus, quod ubique, quod semper;_ as if a general but
spontaneous opinion was any thing more than an indication of the
truth.  Let us not be deceived: the opinion of all nations may
serve to authenticate the perception of a fact, the vague
sentiment of a law; it can teach us nothing about either fact or
law.  The consent of mankind is an indication of Nature; not, as
Cicero says, a law of Nature.  Under the indication is hidden the
truth, which faith can believe, but only thought can know.  Such
has been the constant progress of the human mind in regard to
physical phenomena and the creations of genius: how can it be
otherwise with the facts of conscience and the rules of human

% 4.--Labor--That Labor Has No Inherent Power to Appropriate
Natural Wealth.

We shall show by the maxims of political economy and law, that
is, by the authorities recognized by property,--

1. That labor has no inherent power to appropriate natural

2. That, if we admit that labor has this power, we are led
directly to equality of property,--whatever the kind of labor,
however scarce the product, or unequal the ability of the

3. That, in the order of justice, labor DESTROYS property.

Following the example of our opponents, and that we may
leave no obstacles in the path, let us examine the question
in the strongest possible light.

M. Ch. Comte says, in his "Treatise on Property:"--

"France, considered as a nation, has a territory which is her

France, as an individuality, possesses a territory which she
cultivates; it is not her property.  Nations are related to each
other as individuals are: they are commoners and workers; it is
an abuse of language to call them proprietors.  The right of use
and abuse belongs no more to nations than to men; and the time
will come when a war waged for the purpose of checking a nation
in its abuse of the soil will be regarded as a holy war.

Thus, M. Ch. Comte--who undertakes to explain how property comes
into existence, and who starts with the supposition that a nation
is a proprietor--falls into that error known as BEGGING THE
QUESTION; a mistake which vitiates his whole argument.

If the reader thinks it is pushing logic too far to question a
nation's right of property in the territory which it possesses, I
will simply remind him of the fact that at all ages the results
of the fictitious right of national property have been
pretensions to suzerainty, tributes, monarchical privileges,
statute-labor, quotas of men and money, supplies of merchandise,
&c.; ending finally in refusals to pay taxes, insurrections,
wars, and depopulations.

"Scattered through this territory are extended tracts of land,
which have not been converted into individual property.  These
lands, which consist mainly of forests, belong to the whole
population, and the government, which receives the revenues, uses
or ought to use them in the interest of all."

OUGHT TO USE is well said: a lie is avoided thereby.

"Let them be offered for sale. . . ."

Why offered for sale?  Who has a right to sell them?  Even were
the nation proprietor, can the generation of to-day dispossess
the generation of to-morrow?  The nation, in its function of
usufructuary, possesses them; the government rules, superintends,
and protects them.  If it also granted lands, it could grant only
their use; it has no right to sell them or transfer them in any
way whatever.  Not being a proprietor, how can it transmit

"Suppose some industrious man buys a portion, a large swamp for
example.  This would be no usurpation, since the public would
receive the exact value through the hands of the government, and
would be as rich after the sale as before."

How ridiculous!  What! because a prodigal, imprudent, incompetent
official sells the State's possessions, while I, a ward of the
State,--I who have neither an advisory nor a deliberative voice
in the State councils,--while I am allowed to make no opposition
to the sale, this sale is right and legal!  The guardians of the
nation waste its substance, and it has no redress!  I have
received, you tell me, through the hands of the government my
share of the proceeds of the sale: but, in the first place, I did
not wish to sell; and, had I wished to, I could not have sold.  I
had not the right.  And then I do not see that I am benefited by
the sale.  My guardians have dressed up some soldiers, repaired
an old fortress, erected in their pride some costly but worthless
monument,--then they have exploded some fireworks and set up a
greased pole!  What does all that amount to in comparison with my

The purchaser draws boundaries, fences himself in, and says,
"This is mine; each one by himself, each one for himself."  Here,
then, is a piece of land upon which, henceforth, no one has
a right to step, save the proprietor and his friends; which can
benefit nobody, save the proprietor and his servants.  Let these
sales multiply, and soon the people--who have been neither able
nor willing to sell, and who have received none of the proceeds
of the sale--will have nowhere to rest, no place of shelter, no
ground to till.  They will die of hunger at the proprietor's
door, on the edge of that property which was their birthright;
and the proprietor, watching them die, will exclaim, " So perish
idlers and vagrants!"

To reconcile us to the proprietor's usurpation, M. Ch. Comte
assumes the lands to be of little value at the time of sale.

"The importance of these usurpations should not be exaggerated:
they should be measured by the number of men which the occupied
land would support, and by the means which it would furnish them.

It is evident, for instance, that if a piece of land which is
worth to-day one thousand francs was worth only five centimes
when it was usurped, we really lose only the value of five
centimes.  A square league of earth would be hardly sufficient to
support a savage in distress; to-day it supplies one thousand
persons with the means of existence.  Nine hundred and ninety-
nine parts of this land is the legitimate property of the
possessors; only one-thousandth of the value has been usurped."

A peasant admitted one day, at confession, that he had destroyed
a document which declared him a debtor to the amount of three
hundred francs.  Said the father confessor, "You must return
these three hundred francs."  "No," replied the peasant, "I will
return a penny to pay for the paper."

M. Ch. Comte's logic resembles this peasant's honesty.  The soil
has not only an integrant and actual value, it has also a
potential value,--a value of the future,--which depends on our
ability to make it valuable, and to employ it in our work. 
Destroy a bill of exchange, a promissory note, an annuity
deed,--as a paper you destroy almost no value at all; but with
this paper you destroy your title, and, in losing your title, you
deprive yourself of your goods.  Destroy the land, or, what is
the same thing, sell it,--you not only transfer one, two, or
several crops, but you annihilate all the products that you could
derive from it; you and your children and your children's

When M. Ch. Comte, the apostle of property and the eulogist of
labor, supposes an alienation of the soil on the part of the
government, we must not think that he does so without reason and
for no purpose; it is a necessary part of his position.  As he
rejected the theory of occupancy, and as he knew, moreover, that
labor could not constitute the right in the absence of a previous
permission to occupy, he was obliged to connect this permission
with the authority of the government, which means that property
is based upon the sovereignty of the people; in other words, upon
universal consent.  This theory we have already considered.

To say that property is the daughter of labor, and then to give
labor material on which to exercise itself, is, if I am not
mistaken, to reason in a circle.  Contradictions will result from

"A piece of land of a certain size produces food enough to supply
a man for one day.  If the possessor, through his labor,
discovers some method of making it produce enough for two days,
he doubles its value.  This new value is his work, his creation:
it is taken from nobody; it is his property."

I maintain that the possessor is paid for his trouble and
industry in his doubled crop, but that he acquires no right to
the land.  "Let the laborer have the fruits of his labor."  Very
good; but I do not understand that property in products carries
with it property in raw material.  Does the skill of the
fisherman, who on the same coast can catch more fish than
his fellows, make him proprietor of the fishing-grounds?  Can the
expertness of a hunter ever be regarded as a property-title to a
game-forest?  The analogy is perfect,--the industrious cultivator
finds the reward of his industry in the abundancy and superiority
of his crop.  If he has made improvements in the soil, he has the
possessor's right of preference.  Never, under any circumstances,
can he be allowed to claim a property-title to the soil which he
cultivates, on the ground of his skill as a cultivator.

To change possession into property, something is needed besides
labor, without which a man would cease to be proprietor as soon
as he ceased to be a laborer.  Now, the law bases property upon
immemorial, unquestionable possession; that is, prescription. 
Labor is only the sensible sign, the physical act, by which
occupation is manifested.  If, then, the cultivator remains
proprietor after he has ceased to labor and produce; if his
possession, first conceded, then tolerated, finally becomes
inalienable,--it happens by permission of the civil law, and by
virtue of the principle of occupancy.  So true is this, that
there is not a bill of sale, not a farm lease, not an annuity,
but implies it.  I will quote only one example.

How do we measure the value of land?  By its product.  If a piece
of land yields one thousand francs, we say that at five per cent.
it is worth twenty thousand francs; at four per cent. twenty-five
thousand francs, &c.; which means, in other words, that in twenty
or twenty-five years' time the purchaser would recover in full
the amount originally paid for the land.  If, then, after a
certain length of time, the price of a piece of land has been
wholly recovered, why does the purchaser continue to be
proprietor?  Because of the right of occupancy, in the
absence of which every sale would be a redemption.

The theory of appropriation by labor is, then, a contradiction of
the Code; and when the partisans of this theory pretend to
explain the laws thereby, they contradict themselves.

"If men succeed in fertilizing land hitherto unproductive, or
even death-producing, like certain swamps, they create thereby
property in all its completeness."

What good does it do to magnify an expression, and play with
equivocations, as if we expected to change the reality thereby? 
they create a productive capacity which formerly did not exist;
but this capacity cannot be created without material to support
it.  The substance of the soil remains the same; only its
qualities and modifications are changed.  Man has created every
thing--every thing save the material itself.  Now, I maintain
that this material he can only possess and use, on condition of
permanent labor,--granting, for the time being, his right of
property in things which he has produced.

This, then, is the first point settled: property in product, if
we grant so much, does not carry with it property in the means of
production; that seems to me to need no further demonstration. 
There is no difference between the soldier who possesses his
arms, the mason who possesses the materials committed to his
care, the fisherman who possesses the water, the hunter who
possesses the fields and forests, and the cultivator who
possesses the lands: all, if you say so, are proprietors of their
products--not one is proprietor of the means of production.  The
right to product is exclusive--jus in re; the right to means is
common--jus ad rem.   

% 5.--That Labor leads to Equality of Property.

Admit, however, that labor gives a right of property in material.

Why is not this principle universal?  Why is the benefit of this
pretended law confined to a few and denied to the mass of
laborers?  A philosopher, arguing that all animals sprang up
formerly out of the earth warmed by the rays of the sun, almost
like mushrooms, on being asked why the earth no longer yielded
crops of that nature, replied:  "Because it is old, and has lost
its fertility."  Has labor, once so fecund, likewise become
sterile?  Why does the tenant no longer acquire through his labor
the land which was formerly acquired by the labor of the

"Because," they say, "it is already appropriated."  That is no
answer.  A farm yields fifty bushels per hectare; the skill and
labor of the tenant double this product: the increase is created
by the tenant.  Suppose the owner, in a spirit of moderation
rarely met with, does not go to the extent of absorbing this
product by raising the rent, but allows the cultivator to enjoy
the results of his labor; even then justice is not satisfied. 
The tenant, by improving the land, has imparted a new value to
the property; he, therefore, has a right to a part of the
property.  If the farm was originally worth one hundred thousand
francs, and if by the labor of the tenant its value has risen to
one hundred and fifty thousand francs, the tenant, who produced
this extra value, is the legitimate proprietor of one-third of
the farm.  M. Ch. Comte could not have pronounced this doctrine
false, for it was he who said:--

"Men who increase the fertility of the earth are no less useful
to their fellow-men, than if they should create new land."

Why, then, is not this rule applicable to the man who
improves the land, as well as to him who clears it?  The
labor of the former makes the land worth one; that of the latter
makes it worth two: both create equal values.  Why not accord to
both equal property?  I defy any one to refute this argument,
without again falling back on the right of first occupancy.

"But," it will be said, "even if your wish should be granted,
property would not be distributed much more evenly than now. 
Land does not go on increasing in value for ever; after two or
three seasons it attains its maximum fertility.  That which is
added by the agricultural art results rather from the progress of
science and the diffusion of knowledge, than from the skill of
the cultivator.  Consequently, the addition of a few laborers to
the mass of proprietors would be no argument against property."

This discussion would, indeed, prove a well-nigh useless one, if
our labors culminated in simply extending land-privilege and
industrial monopoly; in emancipating only a few hundred laborers
out of the millions of proletaires.  But this also is a
misconception of our real thought, and does but prove the general
lack of intelligence and logic.

If the laborer, who adds to the value of a thing, has a right of
property in it, he who maintains this value acquires the same
right.  For what is maintenance?  It is incessant addition,--
continuous creation.  What is it to cultivate?  It is to give the
soil its value every year; it is, by annually renewed creation,
to prevent the diminution or destruction of the value of a piece
of land.  Admitting, then, that property is rational and
legitimate,--admitting that rent is equitable and just,--I say
that he who cultivates acquires property by as good a title as he
who clears, or he who improves; and that every time a tenant pays
his rent, he obtains a fraction of property in the land
entrusted to his care, the denominator of which is equal to the
proportion of rent paid.  Unless you admit this, you fall into
absolutism and tyranny; you recognize class privileges; you
sanction slavery.

Whoever labors becomes a proprietor--this is an inevitable
deduction from the acknowledged principles of political economy
and jurisprudence.  And when I say proprietor, I do not mean
simply (as do our hypocritical economists) proprietor of his
allowance, his salary, his wages,--I mean proprietor of the value
which he creates, and by which the master alone profits.

As all this relates to the theory of wages and of the
distribution of products,--and as this matter never has been even
partially cleared up,--I ask permission to insist on it: this
discussion will not be useless to the work in hand.  Many persons
talk of admitting working-people to a share in the products and
profits; but in their minds this participation is pure
benevolence: they have never shown--perhaps never suspected--that
it was a natural, necessary right, inherent in labor, and
inseparable from the function of producer, even in the lowest
forms of his work.

This is my proposition:  THE LABORER RETAINS, EVEN  AFTER HE HAS

I again quote M. Ch. Comte:--

"Some laborers are employed in draining marshes, in cutting down
trees and brushwood,--in a word, in cleaning up the soil.  They
increase the value, they make the amount of property larger; they
are paid for the value which they add in the form of food and
daily wages: it then becomes the property of the capitalist."

The price is not sufficient: the labor of the workers has created
a value; now this value is their property.  But they have
neither sold nor exchanged it; and you, capitalist, you have not
earned it.  That you should have a partial right to the whole, in
return for the materials that you have furnished and the
provisions that you have supplied, is perfectly just.  You
contributed to the production, you ought to share in the
enjoyment.  But your right does not annihilate that of the
laborers, who, in spite of you, have been your colleagues in the
work of production.  Why do you talk of wages?  The money with
which you pay the wages of the laborers remunerates them for only
a few years of the perpetual possession which they have abandoned
to you.  Wages is the cost of the daily maintenance and
refreshment of the laborer.  You are wrong in calling it the
price of a sale.  The workingman has sold nothing; he knows
neither his right, nor the extent of the concession which he has
made to you, nor the meaning of the contract which you pretend to
have made with him.  On his side, utter ignorance; on yours,
error and surprise, not to say deceit and fraud.

Let us make this clearer by another and more striking example.

No one is ignorant of the difficulties that are met with in the
conversion of untilled land into arable and productive land. 
These difficulties are so great, that usually an isolated man
would perish before he could put the soil in a condition to yield
him even the most meagre living.  To that end are needed the
united and combined efforts of society, and all the resources of
industry.  M. Ch. Comte quotes on this subject numerous and well-
authenticated facts, little thinking that he is amassing
testimony against his own system.

Let us suppose that a colony of twenty or thirty families
establishes itself in a wild district, covered with underbrush
and forests; and from which, by agreement, the natives
consent to withdraw.  Each one of these families possesses a
moderate but sufficient amount of capital, of such a nature as a
colonist would be apt to choose,--animals, seeds, tools, and a
little money and food.  The land having been divided, each one
settles himself as comfortably as possible, and begins to clear
away the portion allotted to him.  But after a few weeks of
fatigue, such as they never before have known, of inconceivable
suffering, of ruinous and almost useless labor, our colonists
begin to complain of their trade; their condition seems hard to
them; they curse their sad existence.

Suddenly, one of the shrewdest among them kills a pig, cures a
part of the meat; and, resolved to sacrifice the rest of his
provisions, goes to find his companions in misery.  "Friends," he
begins in a very benevolent tone, "how much trouble it costs you
to do a little work and live uncomfortably!  A fortnight of labor
has reduced you to your last extremity! . . .  Let us make an
arrangement by which you shall all profit.  I offer you
provisions and wine: you shall get so much every day; we will
work together, and, zounds! my friends, we will be happy and

Would it be possible for empty stomachs to resist such an
invitation?  The hungriest of them follow the treacherous
tempter.  They go to work; the charm of society, emulation, joy,
and mutual assistance double their strength; the work can be seen
to advance.  Singing and laughing, they subdue Nature.  In a
short time, the soil is thoroughly changed; the mellowed earth
waits only for the seed.  That done, the proprietor pays his
laborers, who, on going away, return him their thanks, and grieve
that the happy days which they have spent with him are over.

Others follow this example, always with the same success. 
Then, these installed, the rest disperse,--each one returns
to his grubbing.  But, while grubbing, it is necessary to live. 
While they have been clearing away for their neighbor, they have
done no clearing for themselves.  One year's seed-time and
harvest is already gone.  They had calculated that in lending
their labor they could not but gain, since they would save their
own provisions; and, while living better, would get still more
money.  False calculation! they have created for another the
means wherewith to produce, and have created nothing for
themselves.  The difficulties of clearing remain the same; their
clothing wears out, their provisions give out; soon their purse
becomes empty for the profit of the individual for whom they have
worked, and who alone can furnish the provisions which they need,
since he alone is in a position to produce them.  Then, when the
poor grubber has exhausted his resources, the man with the
provisions (like the wolf in the fable, who scents his victim
from afar) again comes forward.  One he offers to employ again by
the day; from another he offers to buy at a favorable price a
piece of his bad land, which is not, and never can be, of any use
to him: that is, he uses the labor of one man to cultivate the
field of another for his own benefit.  So that at the end of
twenty years, of thirty individuals originally equal in point of
wealth, five or six have become proprietors of the whole
district, while the rest have been philanthropically

In this century of bourgeoisie morality, in which I have had
the honor to be born, the moral sense is so debased that I should
not be at all surprised if I were asked, by many a worthy
proprietor, what I see in this that is unjust and illegitimate? 
Debased creature! galvanized corpse! how can I expect to convince
you, if you cannot tell robbery when I show it to you?  A
man, by soft and insinuating words, discovers the secret of
taxing others that he may establish himself; then, once enriched
by their united efforts, he refuses, on the very conditions which
he himself dictated, to advance the well-being of those who made
his fortune for him: and you ask how such conduct is fraudulent! 
Under the pretext that he has paid his laborers, that he owes
them nothing more, that he has nothing to gain by putting himself
at the service of others, while his own occupations claim his
attention,--he refuses, I say, to aid others in getting a
foothold, as he was aided in getting his own; and when, in the
impotence of their isolation, these poor laborers are compelled
to sell their birthright, he--this ungrateful proprietor, this
knavish upstart--stands ready to put the finishing touch to their
deprivation and their ruin.  And you think that just?  Take care!

I read in your startled countenance the reproach of a guilty
conscience, much more clearly than the innocent astonishment of
involuntary ignorance.

"The capitalist," they say, "has paid the laborers their DAILY
WAGES."  To be accurate, it must be said that the capitalist has
paid as many times one day's wage as he has employed laborers
each day,--which is not at all the same thing.  For he has paid
nothing for that immense power which results from the union and
harmony of laborers, and the convergence and simultaneousness of
their efforts.  Two hundred grenadiers stood the obelisk of Luxor
upon its base in a few hours; do you suppose that one man could
have accomplished the same task in two hundred days? 
Nevertheless, on the books of the capitalist, the amount of wages
paid would have been the same.  Well, a desert to prepare for
cultivation, a house to build, a factory to run,--all these are
obelisks to erect, mountains to move.  The smallest fortune,
the most insignificant establishment, the setting in motion
of the lowest industry, demand the concurrence of so many
different kinds of labor and skill, that one man could not
possibly execute the whole of them.  It is astonishing that the
economists never have called attention to this fact.  Strike a
balance, then, between the capitalist's receipts and his

The laborer needs a salary which will enable him to live while he
works; for unless he consumes, he cannot produce.  Whoever
employs a man owes him maintenance and support, or wages enough
to procure the same.  That is the first thing to be done in all
production.  I admit, for the moment, that in this respect the
capitalist has discharged his duty.

It is necessary that the laborer should find in his production,
in addition to his present support, a guarantee of his future
support; otherwise the source of production would dry up, and his
productive capacity would become exhausted: in other words, the
labor accomplished must give birth perpetually to new labor--such
is the universal law of reproduction.  In this way, the
proprietor of a farm finds:  1. In his crops, means, not only of
supporting himself and his family, but of maintaining and
improving his capital, of feeding his live-stock--in a word,
means of new labor and continual reproduction; 2. In his
ownership of a productive agency, a permanent basis of
cultivation and labor.

But he who lends his services,--what is his basis of cultivation?

The proprietor's presumed need of him, and the unwarranted
supposition that he wishes to employ him.  Just as the commoner
once held his land by the munificence and condescension of the
lord, so to-day the working-man holds his labor by the
condescension and necessities of the master and proprietor: that
is what is called possession by a precarious[1] title.  But
this precarious condition is an injustice, for it implies an
inequality in the bargain.  The laborer's wages exceed but little
his running expenses, and do not assure him wages for to-morrow;
while the capitalist finds in the instrument produced by the
laborer a pledge of independence and security for the future.

[1] Precarious, from precor, "I pray;" because the act of
concession expressly signified that the lord, in answer to the
prayers of his men or slaves, had granted them permission to

Now, this reproductive leaven--this eternal germ of life, this
preparation of the land and manufacture of implements for
production--constitutes the debt of the capitalist to the
producer, which he never pays; and it is this fraudulent denial
which causes the poverty of the laborer, the luxury of idleness,
and the inequality of conditions.  This it is, above all other
things, which has been so fitly named the exploitation of man by

One of three things must be done.  Either the laborer must be
given a portion of the product in addition to his wages; or the
employer must render the laborer an equivalent in productive
service; or else he must pledge himself to employ him for ever. 
Division of the product, reciprocity of service, or guarantee of
perpetual labor,--from the adoption of one of these courses the
capitalist cannot escape.  But it is evident that he cannot
satisfy the second and third of these conditions--he can neither
put himself at the service of the thousands of working-men, who,
directly or indirectly, have aided him in establishing himself,
nor employ them all for ever.  He has no other course left him,
then, but a division of the property.  But if the property is
divided, all conditions will be equal--there will be no more
large capitalists or large proprietors.

Consequently, when M. Ch. Comte--following out his hypothesis--
shows us his capitalist acquiring one after another the products
of his employees' labor, he sinks deeper and deeper into the
mire; and, as his argument does not change, our reply of course
remains the same.

"Other laborers are employed in building: some quarry the stone,
others transport it, others cut it, and still others put it in
place.  Each of them adds a certain value to the material which
passes through his hands; and this value, the product of his
labor, is his property.  He sells it, as fast as he creates it,
to the proprietor of the building, who pays him for it in food
and wages."

_Divide et impera_--divide, and you shall command; divide, and
you shall grow rich; divide, and you shall deceive men, you shall
daze their minds, you shall mock at justice!  Separate laborers
from each other, perhaps each one's daily wage exceeds the value
of each individual's product; but that is not the question under
consideration.  A force of one thousand men working twenty days
has been paid the same wages that one would be paid for working
fifty-five years; but this force of one thousand has done in
twenty days what a single man could not have accomplished, though
he had labored for a million centuries.  Is the exchange an
equitable one?  Once more, no; when you have paid all the
individual forces, the collective force still remains to be paid.

Consequently, there remains always a right of collective property
which you have not acquired, and which you enjoy unjustly.

Admit that twenty days' wages suffice to feed, lodge, and clothe
this multitude for twenty days: thrown out of employment at the
end of that time, what will become of them, if, as fast as they
create, they abandon their creations to the proprietors who will
soon discharge them?  While the proprietor, firm in his position
(thanks to the aid of all the laborers), dwells in security,
and fears no lack of labor or bread, the laborer's only
dependence is upon the benevolence of this same proprietor, to
whom he has sold and surrendered his liberty.  If, then, the
proprietor, shielding himself behind his comfort and his rights,
refuses to employ the laborer, how can the laborer live?  He has
ploughed an excellent field, and cannot sow it; he has built an
elegant and commodious house, and cannot live in it; he has
produced all, and can enjoy nothing

Labor leads us to equality.  Every step that we take brings us
nearer to it; and if laborers had equal strength, diligence, and
industry, clearly their fortunes would be equal also.  Indeed,
if, as is pretended,--and as we have admitted,--the laborer is
proprietor of the value which he creates, it follows:--

1. That the laborer acquires at the expense of the idle

2. That all production being necessarily collective, the laborer
is entitled to a share of the products and profits commensurate
with his labor;

3. That all accumulated capital being social property, no one can
be its exclusive proprietor.

These inferences are unavoidable; these alone would suffice to
revolutionize our whole economical system, and change our
institutions and our laws.  Why do the very persons, who laid
down this principle, now refuse to be guided by it?  Why do the
Says, the Comtes, the Hennequins, and others--after having said
that property is born of labor--seek to fix it by occupation and

But let us leave these sophists to their contradictions and
blindness.  The good sense of the people will do justice to their
equivocations.  Let us make haste to enlighten it, and show
it the true path.  Equality approaches; already between it and us
but a short distance intervenes: to-morrow even this distance
will have been traversed.

% 6.--That in Society all Wages are Equal.

When the St. Simonians, the Fourierists, and, in general, all who
in our day are connected with social economy and reform, inscribe
upon their banner,--

ITS RESULTS" (St. Simon);


they mean--although they do not say so in so many words--that the
products of Nature procured by labor and industry are a reward, a
palm, a crown offered to all kinds of preeminence and
superiority.  They regard the land as an immense arena in which
prizes are contended for,--no longer, it is true, with lances and
swords, by force and by treachery; but by acquired wealth, by
knowledge, talent, and by virtue itself.  In a word, they mean--
and everybody agrees with them--that the greatest capacity is
entitled to the greatest reward; and, to use the mercantile
phraseology,--which has, at least, the merit of being
straightforward,--that salaries must be governed by capacity and
its results.

The disciples of these two self-styled reformers cannot deny that
such is their thought; for, in doing so, they would contradict
their official interpretations, and would destroy the unity of
their systems.  Furthermore, such a denial on their part is not
to be feared.  The two sects glory in laying down as a principle
inequality of conditions,--reasoning from Nature, who, they say,
intended the inequality of capacities.  They boast only of one
thing; namely, that their political system is so perfect, that
the social inequalities always correspond with the natural
inequalities.  They no more trouble themselves to inquire whether
inequality of conditions--I mean of salaries--is possible, than
they do to fix a measure of capacity.[1]

[1] In St. Simon's system, the St.-Simonian priest determines the
capacity of each by virtue of his pontifical infallibility, in
imitation of the Roman Church: in Fourier's, the ranks and merits
are decided by vote, in imitation of the constitutional regime.

Clearly, the great man is an object of ridicule to the reader; he
did not mean to tell his secret.

"To each according to his capacity, to each capacity according to
its results."

"To each according to his capital, his labor, and his skill."

Since the death of St. Simon and Fourier, not one among their
numerous disciples has attempted to give to the public a
scientific demonstration of this grand maxim; and I would wager a
hundred to one that no Fourierist even suspects that this biform
aphorism is susceptible of two interpretations.

"To each according to his capacity, to each capacity according to
its results."

"To each according to his capital, his labor, and his skill."

This proposition, taken, as they say, _in sensu obvio_--in the
sense usually attributed to it--is false, absurd, unjust,
contradictory, hostile to liberty, friendly to tyranny, anti-
social, and was unluckily framed under the express influence of
the property idea.

And, first, CAPITAL must be crossed off the list of elements
which are entitled to a reward.  The Fourierists--as far as I
have been able to learn from a few of their pamphlets--deny the
right of occupancy, and recognize no basis of property save
labor.  Starting with a like premise, they would have seen--had
they reasoned upon the matter--that capital is a
source of production to its proprietor only by virtue of the
right of occupancy, and that this production is therefore
illegitimate.  Indeed, if labor is the sole basis of property, I
cease to be proprietor of my field as soon as I receive rent for
it from another.  This we have shown beyond all cavil.  It is the
same with all capital; so that to put capital in an enterprise,
is, by the law's decision, to exchange it for an equivalent sum
in products.  I will not enter again upon this now useless
discussion, since I propose, in the following chapter, to exhaust

Thus, capital can be exchanged, but cannot be a source of income.

LABOR and SKILL remain; or, as St. Simon puts it, RESULTS
and CAPACITIES.  I will examine them successively.

Should wages be governed by labor?  In other words, is it just
that he who does the most should get the most?  I beg the reader
to pay the closest attention to this point.

To solve the problem with one stroke, we have only to ask
ourselves the following question:  "Is labor a CONDITION or a
STRUGGLE?"  The reply seems plain.

God said to man, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread,"--that is, thou shalt produce thy own bread: with more or
less ease, according to thy skill in directing and combining thy
efforts, thou shalt labor.  God did not say, "Thou shalt quarrel
with thy neighbor for thy bread;" but, "Thou shalt labor by the
side of thy neighbor, and ye shall dwell together in harmony." 
Let us develop the meaning of this law, the extreme simplicity of
which renders it liable to misconstruction.

In labor, two things must be noticed and distinguished:

In so far as laborers are associated, they are equal; and it
involves a contradiction to say that one should be paid more
than another.  For, as the product of one laborer can be paid for
only in the product of another laborer, if the two products are
unequal, the remainder--or the difference between the greater and
the smaller--will not be acquired by society; and, therefore, not
being exchanged, will not affect the equality of wages.  There
will result, it is true, in favor of the stronger laborer a
natural inequality, but not a social inequality; no one having
suffered by his strength and productive energy.  In a word,
society exchanges only equal products--that is, rewards no labor
save that performed for her benefit; consequently, she pays all
laborers equally: with what they produce outside of her sphere
she has no more to do, than with the difference in their voices
and their hair.

I seem to be positing the principle of inequality: the reverse of
this is the truth.  The total amount of labor which can be
performed for society (that is, of labor susceptible of
exchange), being, within a given space, as much greater as the
laborers are more numerous, and as the task assigned to each is
less in magnitude,--it follows that natural inequality
neutralizes itself in proportion as association extends, and as
the quantity of consumable values produced thereby increases.  So
that in society the only thing which could bring back the
inequality of labor would be the right of occupancy,--the right
of property.

Now, suppose that this daily social task consists in the
ploughing, hoeing, or reaping of two square decameters, and that
the average time required to accomplish it is seven hours: one
laborer will finish it in six hours, another will require eight;
the majority, however, will work seven.  But provided each one
furnishes the quantity of labor demanded of him, whatever be the
time he employs, they are entitled to equal wages.

Shall the laborer who is capable of finishing his task in six
hours have the right, on the ground of superior strength and
activity, to usurp the task of the less skilful laborer, and thus
rob him of his labor and bread?  Who dares maintain such a
proposition?  He who finishes before the others may rest, if he
chooses; he may devote himself to useful exercise and labors for
the maintenance of his strength, and the culture of his mind, and
the pleasure of his life.  This he can do without injury to any
one: but let him confine himself to services which affect him
solely.  Vigor, genius, diligence, and all the personal
advantages which result therefrom, are the work of Nature and, to
a certain extent, of the individual; society awards them the
esteem which they merit: but the wages which it pays them is
measured, not by their power, but by their production.  Now, the
product of each is limited by the right of all.

If the soil were infinite in extent, and the amount of available
material were exhaustless, even then we could not accept this
maxim,--TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS LABOR.  And why?  Because
society, I repeat, whatever be the number of its subjects, is
forced to pay them all the same wages, since she pays them only
in their own products.  Only, on the hypothesis just made,
inasmuch as the strong cannot be prevented from using all their
advantages, the inconveniences of natural inequality would
reappear in the very bosom of social equality.  But the land,
considering the productive power of its inhabitants and their
ability to multiply, is very limited; further, by the immense
variety of products and the extreme division of labor, the social
task is made easy of accomplishment.  Now, through this
limitation of things producible, and through the ease of
producing them, the law of absolute equality takes effect.

Yes, life is a struggle.  But this struggle is not between man
and man--it is between man and Nature; and it is each one's duty
to take his share in it.  If, in the struggle, the strong come to
the aid of the weak, their kindness deserves praise and love; but
their aid must be accepted as a free gift,--not imposed by force,
nor offered at a price.  All have the same career before them,
neither too long nor too difficult; whoever finishes it finds his
reward at the end: it is not necessary to get there first.

In printing-offices, where the laborers usually work by the job,
the compositor receives so much per thousand letters set; the
pressman so much per thousand sheets printed.  There, as
elsewhere, inequalities of talent and skill are to be found. 
When there is no prospect of dull times (for printing and
typesetting, like all other trades, sometimes come to a stand-
still), every one is free to work his hardest, and exert his
faculties to the utmost: he who does more gets more; he who does
less gets less.  When business slackens, compositors and pressmen
divide up their labor; all monopolists are detested as no better
than robbers or traitors.

There is a philosophy in the action of these printers, to which
neither economists nor legists have ever risen.  If our
legislators had introduced into their codes the principle of
distributive justice which governs printing-offices; if they had
observed the popular instincts,--not for the sake of servile
imitation, but in order to reform and generalize them,--long ere
this liberty and equality would have been established on an
immovable basis, and we should not now be disputing about the
right of property and the necessity of social distinctions.

It has been calculated that if labor were equally shared by the
whole number of able-bodied individuals, the average 
working-day of each individual, in France, would not exceed
five hours.  This being so, how can we presume to talk of the
inequality of laborers?  It is the LABOR of Robert Macaire that
causes inequality.

The principle, TO EACH ACCORDING TO HIS LABOR, interpreted to
mean, WHO WORKS MOST SHOULD RECEIVE MOST, is based, therefore,
on two palpable errors: one, an error in economy, that in the
labor of society tasks must necessarily be unequal; the other, an
error in physics, that there is no limit to the amount of
producible things.

"But," it will be said, "suppose there are some people who wish
to perform only half of their task?" . . .  Is that very
embarrassing?  Probably they are satisfied with half of their
salary.  Paid according to the labor that they had performed, of
what could they complain? and what injury would they do to
others?  In this sense, it is fair to apply the maxim,--TO EACH
ACCORDING TO HIS RESULTS.  It is the law of equality itself.

Further, numerous difficulties, relative to the police system and
the organization of industry, might be raised here.  I will reply
to them all with this one sentence,--that they must all be solved
by the principle of equality.  Thus, some one might observe,
"Here is a task which cannot be postponed without detriment to
production.  Ought society to suffer from the negligence of a
few? and will she not venture--out of respect for the right of
labor--to assure with her own hands the product which they refuse
her?  In such a case, to whom will the salary belong?"

To society; who will be allowed to perform the labor, either
herself, or through her representatives, but always in such a way
that the general equality shall never be violated, and that only
the idler shall be punished for his idleness.  Further, if
society may not use excessive severity towards her lazy
members, she has a right, in self-defence, to guard against

But every industry needs--they will add--leaders, instructors,
superintendents, &c.  Will these be engaged in the general task? 
No; since their task is to lead, instruct, and superintend.  But
they must be chosen from the laborers by the laborers themselves,
and must fulfil the conditions of eligibility.  It is the same
with all public functions, whether of administration or

Then, article first of the universal constitution will be:--

"The limited quantity of available material proves the necessity
of dividing the labor among the whole number of laborers.  The
capacity, given to all, of accomplishing a social task,--that is,
an equal task,--and the impossibility of paying one laborer save
in the products of another, justify the equality of wages."

% 7.--That Inequality of Powers is the Necessary Condition
of Equality of Fortunes.

It is objected,--and this objection constitutes the second part
of the St. Simonian, and the third part of the Fourierstic,

"That all kinds of labor cannot be executed with equal ease. 
Some require great superiority of skill and intelligence; and on
this superiority is based the price.  The artist, the savant,
the poet, the statesman, are esteemed only because of their
excellence; and this excellence destroys all similitude between
them and other men: in the presence of these heights of science
and genius the law of equality disappears.  Now, if equality is
not absolute, there is no equality.  From the poet we descend to
the novelist; from the sculptor to the stonecutter; from the
architect to the mason; from the chemist to the cook, &c. 
Capacities are classified and subdivided into orders, genera, and
species.  The extremes of talent are connected by intermediate
talents.  Humanity is a vast hierarchy, in which the individual
estimates himself by comparison, and fixes his price by the value
placed upon his product by the public."

This objection always has seemed a formidable one.  It is the
stumbling-block of the economists, as well as of the defenders of
equality.  It has led the former into egregious blunders, and has
caused the latter to utter incredible platitudes.  Gracchus
Babeuf wished all superiority to be STRINGENTLY REPRESSED, and
communistic edifice, he lowered all citizens to the stature of
the smallest.  Ignorant eclectics have been known to object to
the inequality of knowledge, and I should not be surprised if
some one should yet rebel against the inequality of virtue. 
Aristotle was banished, Socrates drank the hemlock, Epaminondas
was called to account, for having proved superior in intelligence
and virtue to some dissolute and foolish demagogues.  Such
follies will be re-enacted, so long as the inequality of fortunes
justifies a populace, blinded and oppressed by the wealthy, in
fearing the elevation of new tyrants to power.

Nothing seems more unnatural than that which we examine too
closely, and often nothing seems less like the truth than the
truth itself.  On the other hand, according to J. J. Rousseau,
"it takes a great deal of philosophy to enable us to observe once
what we see every day;" and, according to d'Alembert, "the
ordinary truths of life make but little impression on men, unless
their attention is especially called to them."  The father of the
school of economists (Say), from whom I borrow these two
quotations, might have profited by them; but he who laughs
at the blind should wear spectacles, and he who notices him is

Strange! that which has frightened so many minds is not, after
all, an objection to equality--it is the very condition on which
equality exists! . . .

Natural inequality the condition of equality of fortunes! . . . 
What a paradox! . . .  I repeat my assertion, that no one may
think I have blundered--inequality of powers is the sine qua
non of equality of fortunes.

There are two things to be considered in society--FUNCTIONS and

I. FUNCTIONS.  Every laborer is supposed to be capable of
performing the task assigned to him; or, to use a common
expression, "every workman must know his trade."  The workman
equal to his work,--there is an equation between functionary and

In society, functions are not alike; there must be, then,
different capacities.  Further,--certain functions demand greater
intelligence and powers; then there are people of superior mind
and talent.  For the performance of work necessarily involves a
workman: from the need springs the idea, and the idea makes the
producer.  We only know what our senses long for and our
intelligence demands; we have no keen desire for things of which
we cannot conceive, and the greater our powers of conception, the
greater our capabilities of production.

Thus, functions arising from needs, needs from desires, and
desires from spontaneous perception and imagination, the same
intelligence which imagines can also produce; consequently, no
labor is superior to the laborer.  In a word, if the function
calls out the functionary, it is because the functionary exists
before the function.

Let us admire Nature's economy.  With regard to these various
needs which she has given us, and which the isolated man cannot
satisfy unaided, Nature has granted to the race a power refused
to the individual.  This gives rise to the principle of the
DIVISION OF LABOR,--a principle founded on the SPECIALITY OF

The satisfaction of some needs demands of man continual creation;
while others can, by the labor of a single individual, be
satisfied for millions of men through thousands of centuries. 
For example, the need of clothing and food requires perpetual
reproduction; while a knowledge of the system of the universe may
be acquired for ever by two or three highly-gifted men.  The
perpetual current of rivers supports our commerce, and runs our
machinery; but the sun, alone in the midst of space, gives light
to the whole world.  Nature, who might create Platos and Virgils,
Newtons and Cuviers, as she creates husbandmen and shepherds,
does not see fit to do so; choosing rather to proportion the
rarity of genius to the duration of its products, and to balance
the number of capacities by the competency of each one of them.

I do not inquire here whether the distance which separates one
man from another, in point of talent and intelligence, arises
from the deplorable condition of civilization, nor whether that
which is now called the INEQUALITY OF POWERS would be in an
ideal society any thing more than a DIVERSITY OF POWERS.  I
take the worst view of the matter; and, that I may not be accused
of tergiversation and evasion of difficulties, I acknowledge all
the inequalities that any one can desire.[1]

[1] I cannot conceive how any one dares to justify the inequality
of conditions, by pointing to the base inclinations and
propensities of certain men.  Whence comes this shameful
degradation of heart and mind to which so many fall victims, if
not from the misery and abjection into which property plunges

Certain philosophers, in love with the levelling idea, maintain
that all minds are equal, and that all differences are the result
of education.  I am no believer, I confess, in this doctrine;
which, even if it were true, would lead to a result directly
opposite to that desired.  For, if capacities are equal, whatever
be the degree of their power (as no one can be coerced), there
are functions deemed coarse, low, and degrading, which deserve
higher pay,--a result no less repugnant to equality than to the
on the contrary, a society in which every kind of talent bears a
proper numerical relation to the needs of the society, and which
demands from each producer only that which his special function
requires him to produce; and, without impairing in the least the
hierarchy of functions, I will deduce the equality of fortunes.

This is my second point.

II. RELATIONS.  In considering the element of labor, I have
shown that in the same class of productive services, the capacity
to perform a social task being possessed by all, no inequality of
reward can be based upon an inequality of individual powers. 
However, it is but fair to say that certain capacities seem quite
incapable of certain services; so that, if human industry were
entirely confined to one class of products, numerous incapacities
would arise, and, consequently, the greatest social inequality. 
But every body sees, without any hint from me, that the variety
of industries avoids this difficulty; so clear is this that I
shall not stop to discuss it.  We have only to prove, then, that
functions are equal to each other; just as laborers, who perform
the same function, are equal to each other.

Property makes man a eunuch, and then reproaches him for being
nothing but dry wood, a decaying tree.

Are you astonished that I refuse to genius, to knowledge, to
courage,--in a word, to all the excellences admired by the
world,--the homage of dignities, the distinctions of power and
wealth?  It is not I who refuse it: it is economy, it is justice,
it is liberty.  Liberty! for the first time in this discussion I
appeal to her.  Let her rise in her own defence, and achieve her

Every transaction ending in an exchange of products or services
may be designated as a COMMERCIAL OPERATION.

Whoever says commerce, says exchange of equal values; for, if the
values are not equal, and the injured party perceives it, he will
not consent to the exchange, and there will be no commerce.

Commerce exists only among free men.  Transactions may be
effected between other people by violence or fraud, but there is
no commerce.

A free man is one who enjoys the use of his reason and his
faculties; who is neither blinded by passion, nor hindered or
driven by oppression, nor deceived by erroneous opinions.

So, in every exchange, there is a moral obligation that neither
of the contracting parties shall gain at the expense of the
other; that is, that, to be legitimate and true, commerce must be
exempt from all inequality.  This is the first condition of
commerce.  Its second condition is, that it be voluntary; that
is, that the parties act freely and openly.

I define, then, commerce or exchange as an act of society.

The negro who sells his wife for a knife, his children for some
bits of glass, and finally himself for a bottle of brandy, is not
free.  The dealer in human flesh, with whom he negotiates, is not
his associate; he is his enemy.

The civilized laborer who bakes a loaf that he may eat a slice of
bread, who builds a palace that he may sleep in a stable,
who weaves rich fabrics that he may dress in rags, who produces
every thing that he may dispense with every thing,--is not free. 
His employer, not becoming his associate in the exchange of
salaries or services which takes place between them, is his

The soldier who serves his country through fear instead of
through love is not free; his comrades and his officers, the
ministers or organs of military justice, are all his enemies.

The peasant who hires land, the manufacturer who borrows capital,
the tax-payer who pays tolls, duties, patent and license fees,
personal and property taxes, &c., and the deputy who votes for
them,--all act neither intelligently nor freely.  Their enemies
are the proprietors, the capitalists, the government.

Give men liberty, enlighten their minds that they may know the
meaning of their contracts, and you will see the most perfect
equality in exchanges without regard to superiority of talent and
knowledge; and you will admit that in commercial affairs, that
is, in the sphere of society, the word superiority is void of

Let Homer sing his verse.  I listen to this sublime genius in
comparison with whom I, a simple herdsman, an humble farmer, am
as nothing.  What, indeed,--if product is to be compared with
product,--are my cheeses and my beans in the presence of his
"Iliad"?  But, if Homer wishes to take from me all that I
possess, and make me his slave in return for his inimitable poem,
I will give up the pleasure of his lays, and dismiss him.  I can
do without his "Iliad," and wait, if necessary, for the "AEneid."

Homer cannot live twenty-four hours without my products.  Let him
accept, then, the little that I have to offer; and then his muse
may instruct, encourage, and console me.

"What! do you say that such should be the condition of one
who sings of gods and men?  Alms, with the humiliation and
suffering which they bring with them!--what barbarous
generosity!" . . .  Do not get excited, I beg of you.  Property
makes of a poet either a Croesus or a beggar; only equality knows
how to honor and to praise him.  What is its duty?  To regulate
the right of the singer and the duty of the listener.  Now,
notice this point, which is a very important one in the solution
of this question: both are free, the one to sell, the other to
buy.  Henceforth their respective pretensions go for nothing; and
the estimate, whether fair or unfair, that they place, the one
upon his verse, the other upon his liberality, can have no
influence upon the conditions of the contract.  We must no
longer, in making our bargains, weigh talent; we must consider
products only.

In order that the bard of Achilles may get his due reward, he
must first make himself wanted: that done, the exchange of his
verse for a fee of any kind, being a free act, must be at the
same time a just act; that is, the poet's fee must be equal to
his product.  Now, what is the value of this product?

Let us suppose, in the first place, that this "Iliad"--this
chef-d' oeuvre that is to be equitably rewarded--is really
above price, that we do not know how to appraise it.  If the
public, who are free to purchase it, refuse to do so, it is clear
that, the poem being unexchangeable, its intrinsic value will not
be diminished; but that its exchangeable value, or its productive
utility, will be reduced to zero, will be nothing at all.  Then
we must seek the amount of wages to be paid between infinity on
the one hand and nothing on the other, at an equal distance from
each, since all rights and liberties are entitled to equal
respect; in other words, it is not the intrinsic value, but the
relative value, of the thing sold that needs to be fixed.  The
question grows simpler: what is this relative value?  To
what reward does a poem like the "Iliad" entitle its author?

The first business of political economy, after fixing its
definitions, was the solution of this problem; now, not only has
it not been solved, but it has been declared insoluble. 
According to the economists, the relative or exchangeable value
of things cannot be absolutely determined; it necessarily varies.

"The value of a thing," says Say, "is a positive quantity, but
only for a given moment.  It is its nature to perpetually vary,
to change from one point to another.  Nothing can fix it
absolutely, because it is based on needs and means of production
which vary with every moment.  These variations complicate
economical phenomena, and often render them very difficult of
observation and solution.  I know no remedy for this; it is not
in our power to change the nature of things."

Elsewhere Say says, and repeats, that value being based on
utility, and utility depending entirely on our needs, whims,
customs, &c., value is as variable as opinion.  Now, political
economy being the science of values, of their production,
distribution, exchange, and consumption,--if exchangeable value
cannot be absolutely determined, how is political economy
possible?  How can it be a science?  How can two economists look
each other in the face without laughing?  How dare they insult
metaphysicians and psychologists?  What! that fool of a Descartes
imagined that philosophy needed an immovable base--an _aliquid
inconcussum_--on which the edifice of science might be built, and
he was simple enough to search for it!  And the Hermes of
economy, Trismegistus Say, devoting half a volume to the
amplification of that solemn text, _political economy is a
science_, has the courage to affirm immediately afterwards that
this science cannot determine its object,--which is equivalent to
saying that it is without a principle or foundation!  He does not
know, then, the illustrious Say, the nature of a science; or
rather, he knows nothing of the subject which he discusses.

Say's example has borne its fruits.  Political economy, as it
exists at present, resembles ontology: discussing effects and
causes, it knows nothing, explains nothing, decides nothing.  The
ideas honored with the name of economic laws are nothing more
than a few trifling generalities, to which the economists thought
to give an appearance of depth by clothing them in high-sounding
words.  As for the attempts that have been made by the economists
to solve social problems, all that can be said of them is, that,
if a glimmer of sense occasionally appears in their lucubrations,
they immediately fall back into absurdity.  For twenty-five years
political economy, like a heavy fog, has weighed upon France,
checking the efforts of the mind, and setting limits to liberty.

Has every creation of industry a venal, absolute, unchangeable,
and consequently legitimate and true value?--Yes.

Can every product of man be exchanged for some other product of
man?--Yes, again.

How many nails is a pair of shoes worth?

If we can solve this appalling problem, we shall have the key of
the social system for which humanity has been searching for six
thousand years.  In the presence of this problem, the economist
recoils confused; the peasant who can neither read nor write
replies without hesitation:  "As many as can be made in the same
time, and with the same expense."

The absolute value of a thing, then, is its cost in time and
expense.  How much is a diamond worth which costs only the labor
of picking it up?--Nothing; it is not a product of man.  How much
will it be worth when cut and mounted?--The time and expense
which it has cost the laborer.  Why, then, is it sold at so high
a price?--Because men are not free.  Society must regulate
the exchange and distribution of the rarest things, as it does
that of the most common ones, in such a way that each may share
in the enjoyment of them.  What, then, is that value which is
based upon opinion?--Delusion, injustice, and robbery.

By this rule, it is easy to reconcile every body.  If the mean
term, which we are searching for, between an infinite value and
no value at all is expressed in the case of every product, by the
amount of time and expense which the product cost, a poem which
has cost its author thirty years of labor and an outlay of ten
thousand francs in journeys, books, &c., must be paid for by the
ordinary wages received by a laborer during thirty years, PLUS
ten thousand francs indemnity for expense incurred.  Suppose the
whole amount to be fifty thousand francs; if the society which
gets the benefit of the production include a million of men, my
share of the debt is five centimes.

This gives rise to a few observations.

1. The same product, at different times and in different places,
may cost more or less of time and outlay; in this view, it is
true that value is a variable quantity.  But this variation is
not that of the economists, who place in their list of the causes
of the variation of values, not only the means of production, but
taste, caprice, fashion, and opinion.  In short, the true value
of a thing is invariable in its algebraic expression, although it
may vary in its monetary expression.

2. The price of every product in demand should be its cost in
time and outlay--neither more nor less: every product not in
demand is a loss to the producer--a commercial non-value.

3. The ignorance of the principle of evaluation, and the
difficulty under many circumstances of applying it, is the
source of commercial fraud, and one of the most potent
causes of the inequality of fortunes.

4. To reward certain industries and pay for certain products, a
society is needed which corresponds in size with the rarity of
talents, the costliness of the products, and the variety of the
arts and sciences.  If, for example, a society of fifty farmers
can support a schoolmaster, it requires one hundred for a
shoemaker, one hundred and fifty for a blacksmith, two hundred
for a tailor, &c.  If the number of farmers rises to one
thousand, ten thousand, one hundred thousand, &c., as fast as
their number increases, that of the functionaries which are
earliest required must increase in the same proportion; so that
the highest functions become possible only in the most powerful
societies.[1]  That is the peculiar feature of capacities; the
character of genius, the seal of its glory, cannot arise and
develop itself, except in the bosom of a great nation.  But this
physiological condition, necessary to the existence of genius,
adds nothing to its social rights: far from that,--the delay in
its appearance proves that, in economical and civil affairs, the
loftiest intelligence must submit to the equality of possessions;
an equality which is anterior to it, and of which it constitutes
the crown.

[1] How many citizens are needed to support a professor of
philosophy?--Thirty-five millions.  How many for an economist?--
Two billions.  And for a literary man, who is neither a savant,
nor an artist, nor a philosopher, nor an economist, and who
writes newspaper novels?--None.

This is severe on our pride, but it is an inexorable truth.  And
here psychology comes to the aid of social economy, giving us to
understand that talent and material recompense have no common
measure; that, in this respect, the condition of all producers is
equal: consequently, that all comparison between them, and all
distinction in fortunes, is impossible.

_ _In fact, every work coming from the hands of man--compared
with the raw material of which it is composed--is beyond price. 
In this respect, the distance is as great between a pair of
wooden shoes and the trunk of a walnut-tree, as between a statue
by Scopas and a block of marble.  The genius of the simplest
mechanic exerts as much influence over the materials which he
uses, as does the mind of a Newton over the inert spheres whose
distances, volumes, and revolutions he calculates.  You ask for
talent and genius a corresponding degree of honor and reward. 
Fix for me the value of a wood-cutter's talent, and I will fix
that of Homer.  If any thing can reward intelligence, it is
intelligence itself.  That is what happens, when various classes
of producers pay to each other a reciprocal tribute of admiration
and praise.  But if they contemplate an exchange of products with
a view to satisfying mutual needs, this exchange must be effected
in accordance with a system of economy which is indifferent to
considerations of talent and genius, and whose laws are deduced,
not from vague and meaningless admiration, but from a just
balance between DEBIT and CREDIT; in short, from commercial

Now, that no one may imagine that the liberty of buying and
selling is the sole basis of the equality of wages, and that
society's sole protection against superiority of talent lies in a
certain force of inertia which has nothing in common with right,
I shall proceed to explain why all capacities are entitled to the
same reward, and why a corresponding difference in wages would be
an injustice.  I shall prove that the obligation to stoop to the
social level is inherent in talent; and on this very superiority
of genius I will found the equality of fortunes.  I have just
given the negative argument in favor of rewarding all capacities
alike; I will now give the direct and positive argument.

Listen, first, to the economist: it is always pleasant to see how
he reasons, and how he understands justice.  Without him,
moreover, without his amusing blunders and his wonderful
arguments, we should learn nothing.  Equality, so odious to the
economist, owes every thing to political economy.

"When the parents of a physician [the text says a lawyer, which
is not so good an example] have expended on his education forty
thousand francs, this sum may be regarded as so much capital
invested in his head.  It is therefore permissible to consider it
as yielding an annual income of four thousand francs.  If the
physician earns thirty thousand, there remains an income of
twenty-six thousand francs due to the personal talents given him
by Nature.  This natural capital, then, if we assume ten per
cent. as the rate of interest, amounts to two hundred and sixty
thousand francs; and the capital given him by his parents, in
defraying the expenses of his education, to forty thousand
francs.  The union of these two kinds of capital constitutes his
fortune."--Say: Complete Course, &c.

Say divides the fortune of the physician into two parts: one is
composed of the capital which went to pay for his education, the
other represents his personal talents.  This division is just; it
is in conformity with the nature of things; it is universally
admitted; it serves as the major premise of that grand argument
which establishes the inequality of capacities.  I accept this
premise without qualification; let us look at the consequences.

1. Say CREDITS the physician with forty thousand francs,--the
cost of his education.  This amount should be entered upon the
DEBIT side of the account.  For, although this expense was
incurred for him, it was not incurred by him.  Then, instead of
appropriating these forty thousand francs, the physician should
add them to the price of his product, and repay them to those who
are entitled to them.  Notice, further, that Say speaks of
INCOME instead of REIMBURSEMENT; reasoning on the false
principle of the productivity of capital.  The expense of
educating a talent is a debt contracted by this talent.  From the
very fact of its existence, it becomes a debtor to an amount
equal to the cost of its production.  This is so true and simple
that, if the education of some one child in a family has cost
double or triple that of its brothers, the latter are entitled to
a proportional amount of the property previous to its division. 
There is no difficulty about this in the case of guardianship,
when the estate is administered in the name of the minors.

2. That which I have just said of the obligation incurred by
talent of repaying the cost of its education does not embarrass
the economist.  The man of talent, he says, inheriting from his
family, inherits among other things a claim to the forty thousand
francs which his education costs; and he becomes, in consequence,
its proprietor.  But this is to abandon the right of talent, and
to fall back upon the right of occupancy; which again calls up
all the questions asked in Chapter II.  What is the right of
occupancy? what is inheritance?  Is the right of succession a
right of accumulation or only a right of choice? how did the
physician's father get his fortune? was he a proprietor, or only
a usufructuary?  If he was rich, let him account for his wealth;
if he was poor, how could he incur so large an expense?  If he
received aid, what right had he to use that aid to the
disadvantage of his benefactors, &c.?

3. "There remains an income of twenty-six thousand francs due to
the personal talents given him by Nature."  (Say,--as above
quoted.)  Reasoning from this premise, Say concludes that our
physician's talent is equivalent to a capital of two hundred and
sixty thousand francs.  This skilful calculator mistakes a
consequence for a principle.  The talent must not be measured by
the gain, but rather the gain by the talent; for it may
happen, that, notwithstanding his merit, the physician in
question will gain nothing at all, in which case will it be
necessary to conclude that his talent or fortune is equivalent to
zero?  To such a result, however, would Say's reasoning lead; a
result which is clearly absurd.

Now, it is impossible to place a money value on any talent
whatsoever, since talent and money have no common measure.  On
what plausible ground can it be maintained that a physician
should be paid two, three, or a hundred times as much as a
peasant?  An unavoidable difficulty, which has never been solved
save by avarice, necessity, and oppression.  It is not thus that
the right of talent should be determined.  But how is it to be

4. I say, first, that the physician must be treated with as much
favor as any other producer, that he must not be placed below the
level of others.  This I will not stop to prove.  But I add that
neither must he be lifted above that level; because his talent is
collective property for which he did not pay, and for which he is
ever in debt.

Just as the creation of every instrument of production is the
result of collective force, so also are a man's talent and
knowledge the product of universal intelligence and of general
knowledge slowly accumulated by a number of masters, and through
the aid of many inferior industries.  When the physician has paid
for his teachers, his books, his diplomas, and all the other
items of his educational expenses, he has no more paid for his
talent than the capitalist pays for his house and land when he
gives his employees their wages.  The man of talent has
contributed to the production in himself of a useful instrument. 
He has, then, a share in its possession; he is not its
proprietor.  There exist side by side in him a free laborer and
an accumulated social capital.  As a laborer, he is charged
with the use of an instrument, with the superintendence of a
machine; namely, his capacity.  As capital, he is not his own
master; he uses himself, not for his own benefit, but for that of

Even if talent did not find in its own excellence a reward for
the sacrifices which it costs, still would it be easier to find
reasons for lowering its reward than for raising it above the
common level.  Every producer receives an education; every
laborer is a talent, a capacity,--that is, a piece of collective
property.  But all talents are not equally costly.  It takes but
few teachers, but few years, and but little study, to make a
farmer or a mechanic: the generative effort and--if I may venture
to use such language--the period of social gestation are
proportional to the loftiness of the capacity.  But while the
physician, the poet, the artist, and the savant produce but
little, and that slowly, the productions of the farmer are much
less uncertain, and do not require so long a time.  Whatever be
then the capacity of a man,--when this capacity is once
created,--it does not belong to him.  Like the material fashioned
by an industrious hand, it had the power of BECOMING, and
society has given it BEING.  Shall the vase say to the potter,
"I am that I am, and I owe you nothing"?

The artist, the savant, and the poet find their just recompense
in the permission that society gives them to devote themselves
exclusively to science and to art: so that in reality they do not
labor for themselves, but for society, which creates them, and
requires of them no other duty.  Society can, if need be, do
without prose and verse, music and painting, and the knowledge of
the movements of the moon and stars; but it cannot live a single
day without food and shelter.

Undoubtedly, man does not live by bread alone; he must, also
(according to the Gospel), LIVE BY THE WORD OF GOD; that is, he
must love the good and do it, know and admire the beautiful, and
study the marvels of Nature.  But in order to cultivate his mind,
he must first take care of his body,--the latter duty is as
necessary as the former is noble.  If it is glorious to charm and
instruct men, it is honorable as well to feed them.  When, then,
society--faithful to the principle of the division of labor--
intrusts a work of art or of science to one of its members,
allowing him to abandon ordinary labor, it owes him an indemnity
for all which it prevents him from producing industrially; but it
owes him nothing more.  If he should demand more, society should,
by refusing his services, annihilate his pretensions.  Forced,
then, in order to live, to devote himself to labor repugnant to
his nature, the man of genius would feel his weakness, and would
live the most distasteful of lives.

They tell of a celebrated singer who demanded of the Empress of
Russia (Catherine II) twenty thousand roubles for his services: 
"That is more than I give my field-marshals," said Catherine. 
"Your majesty," replied the other, "has only to make singers of
her field-marshals."

If France (more powerful than Catherine II) should say to
Mademoiselle Rachel, "You must act for one hundred louis, or else
spin cotton;" to M. Duprez, "You must sing for two thousand four
hundred francs, or else work in the vineyard,"--do you think that
the actress Rachel, and the singer Duprez, would abandon the
stage?  If they did, they would be the first to repent it.

Mademoiselle Rachel receives, they say, sixty thousand francs
annually from the Comedie-Francaise.  For a talent like hers, it
is a slight fee.  Why not one hundred thousand francs, two
hundred thousand francs?  Why! not a civil list?  What meanness! 
Are we really guilty of chaffering with an artist like
Mademoiselle Rachel?

It is said, in reply, that the managers of the theatre cannot
give more without incurring a loss; that they admit the superior
talent of their young associate; but that, in fixing her salary,
they have been compelled to take the account of the company's
receipts and expenses into consideration also.

That is just, but it only confirms what I have said; namely, that
an artist's talent may be infinite, but that its mercenary claims
are necessarily limited,--on the one hand, by its usefulness to
the society which rewards it; on the other, by the resources of
this society: in other words, that the demand of the seller is
balanced by the right of the buyer.

Mademoiselle Rachel, they say, brings to the treasury of the
Theatre-Francais more than sixty thousand francs.  I admit it;
but then I blame the theatre.  From whom does the Theatre-
Francais take this money?  From some curious people who are
perfectly free.  Yes; but the workingmen, the lessees, the
tenants, those who borrow by pawning their possessions, from whom
these curious people recover all that they pay to the theatre,--
are they free?  And when the better part of their products are
consumed by others at the play, do you assure me that their
families are not in want?  Until the French people, reflecting on
the salaries paid to all artists, savants, and public
functionaries, have plainly expressed their wish and judgment as
to the matter, the salaries of Mademoiselle Rachel and all her
fellow-artists will be a compulsory tax extorted by violence, to
reward pride, and support libertinism.

It is because we are neither free nor sufficiently enlightened,
that we submit to be cheated in our bargains; that the
laborer pays the duties levied by the prestige of power and
the selfishness of talent upon the curiosity of the idle, and
that we are perpetually scandalized by these monstrous
inequalities which are encouraged and applauded by public

The whole nation, and the nation only, pays its authors, its
savants, its artists, its officials, whatever be the hands
through which their salaries pass.  On what basis should it pay
them?  On the basis of equality.  I have proved it by estimating
the value of talent.  I shall confirm it in the following
chapter, by proving the impossibility of all social inequality.

What have we shown so far?  Things so simple that really they
seem silly:--

That, as the traveller does not appropriate the route which he
traverses, so the farmer does not appropriate the field which he

That if, nevertheless, by reason of his industry, a laborer may
appropriate the material which he employs, every employer of
material becomes, by the same title, a proprietor;

That all capital, whether material or mental, being the result of
collective labor, is, in consequence, collective property;

That the strong have no right to encroach upon the labor of the
weak, nor the shrewd to take advantage of the credulity of the

Finally, that no one can be forced to buy that which he does not
want, still less to pay for that which he has not bought; and,
consequently, that the exchangeable value of a product, being
measured neither by the opinion of the buyer nor that of the
seller, but by the amount of time and outlay which it has cost,
the property of each always remains the same.

Are not these very simple truths?  Well, as simple as they seem
to you, reader, you shall yet see others which surpass them in
dullness and simplicity.  For our course is the reverse of that
of the geometricians: with them, the farther they advance, the
more difficult their problems become; we, on the contrary, after
having commenced with the most abstruse propositions, shall end
with the axioms.

But I must close this chapter with an exposition of one of those
startling truths which never have been dreamed of by legists or

% 8.--That, from the Stand-point of Justice, Labor destroys

This proposition is the logical result of the two preceding
sections, which we have just summed up.

The isolated man can supply but a very small portion of his
wants; all his power lies in association, and in the intelligent
combination of universal effort.  The division and co-operation
of labor multiply the quantity and the variety of products; the
individuality of functions improves their quality.

There is not a man, then, but lives upon the products of several
thousand different industries; not a laborer but receives from
society at large the things which he consumes, and, with these,
the power to reproduce.  Who, indeed, would venture the
assertion, "I produce, by my own effort, all that I consume; I
need the aid of no one else"?  The farmer, whom the early
economists regarded as the only real producer--the farmer,
housed, furnished, clothed, fed, and assisted by the mason, the
carpenter, the tailor, the miller, the baker, the butcher, the
grocer, the blacksmith, &c.,--the farmer, I say, can he boast
that he produces by his own unaided effort?

The various articles of consumption are given to each by
all; consequently, the production of each involves the
production of all. One product cannot exist without another; an
isolated industry is an impossible thing.  What would be the
harvest of the farmer, if others did not manufacture for him
barns, wagons, ploughs, clothes, &c.?  Where would be the
savant without the publisher; the printer without the
typecaster and the machinist; and these, in their turn, without a
multitude of other industries? . . .  Let us not prolong this
catalogue--so easy to extend--lest we be accused of uttering
commonplaces.  All industries are united by mutual relations in a
single group; all productions do reciprocal service as means and
end; all varieties of talent are but a series of changes from the
inferior to the superior.

Now, this undisputed and indisputable fact of the general
participation in every species of product makes all individual
productions common; so that every product, coming from the hands
of the producer, is mortgaged in advance by society.  The
producer himself is entitled to only that portion of his product,
which is expressed by a fraction whose denominator is equal to
the number of individuals of which society is composed.  It is
true that in return this same producer has a share in all the
products of others, so that he has a claim upon all, just as all
have a claim upon him; but is it not clear that this reciprocity
of mortgages, far from authorizing property, destroys even
possession?  The laborer is not even possessor of his product;
scarcely has he finished it, when society claims it.

"But," it will be answered, "even if that is so--even if the
product does not belong to the producer--still society gives each
laborer an equivalent for his product; and this equivalent, this
salary, this reward, this allowance, becomes his property.  Do
you deny that this property is legitimate?  And if the
laborer, instead of consuming his entire wages, chooses to
economize,--who dare question his right to do so?"

The laborer is not even proprietor of the price of his labor, and
cannot absolutely control its disposition.  Let us not be blinded
by a spurious justice.  That which is given the laborer in
exchange for his product is not given him as a reward for past
labor, but to provide for and secure future labor.  We consume
before we produce.  The laborer may say at the end of the day, "I
have paid yesterday's expenses; to-morrow I shall pay those of
today."  At every moment of his life, the member of society is in
debt; he dies with the debt unpaid:--how is it possible for him
to accumulate?

They talk of economy--it is the proprietor's hobby.  Under a
system of equality, all economy which does not aim at subsequent
reproduction or enjoyment is impossible--why?  Because the thing
saved, since it cannot be converted into capital, has no object,
and is without a FINAL CAUSE.  This will be explained more
fully in the next chapter.

To conclude:--

The laborer, in his relation to society, is a debtor who of
necessity dies insolvent.  The proprietor is an unfaithful
guardian who denies the receipt of the deposit committed to his
care, and wishes to be paid for his guardianship down to the last

Lest the principles just set forth may appear to certain readers
too metaphysical, I shall reproduce them in a more concrete form,
intelligible to the dullest brains, and pregnant with the most
important consequences.

Hitherto, I have considered property as a power of EXCLUSION;
hereafter, I shall examine it as a power of INVASION.


The last resort of proprietors,--the overwhelming argument whose
invincible potency reassures them,--is that, in their opinion,
equality of conditions is impossible.  "Equality of conditions is
a chimera," they cry with a knowing air; "distribute wealth
equally to-day--to-morrow this equality will have vanished."

To this hackneyed objection, which they repeat everywhere with
the most marvellous assurance, they never fail to add the
following comment, as a sort of GLORY BE TO THE FATHER:  "If
all men were equal, nobody would work."
This anthem is sung with variations.

"If all were masters, nobody would obey."

"If nobody were rich, who would employ the poor?"

And, "If nobody were poor, who would labor for the rich?"

But let us have done with invective--we have better arguments at
our command.

If I show that property itself is impossible--that it is property
which is a contradiction, a chimera, a utopia; and if I show it
no longer by metaphysics and jurisprudence, but by figures,
equations, and calculations,--imagine the fright of the astounded
proprietor!  And you, reader; what do you think of the retort?

Numbers govern the world--mundum regunt numeri.  This proverb
applies as aptly to the moral and political, as to the sidereal
and molecular, world.  The elements of justice are identical with
those of algebra; legislation and government are simply the arts
of classifying and balancing powers; all jurisprudence falls
within the rules of arithmetic.  This chapter and the next will
serve to lay the foundations of this extraordinary doctrine. 
Then will be unfolded to the reader's vision an immense and novel
career; then shall we commence to see in numerical relations the
synthetic unity of philosophy and the sciences; and, filled with
admiration and enthusiasm for this profound and majestic
simplicity of Nature, we shall shout with the apostle:  "Yes, the
Eternal has made all things by number, weight, and measure!"  We
shall understand not only that equality of conditions is
possible, but that all else is impossible; that this seeming
impossibility which we charge upon it arises from the fact that
we always think of it in connection either with the proprietary
or the communistic regime,--political systems equally
irreconcilable with human nature.  We shall see finally that
equality is constantly being realized without our knowledge, even
at the very moment when we are pronouncing it incapable of
realization; that the time draws near when, without any effort or
even wish of ours, we shall have it universally established; that
with it, in it, and by it, the natural and true political order
must make itself manifest.

It has been said, in speaking of the blindness and obstinacy of
the passions, that, if man had any thing to gain by denying the
truths of arithmetic, he would find some means of unsettling
their certainty: here is an opportunity to try this curious
experiment.  I attack property, no longer with its own maxims,
but with arithmetic.  Let the proprietors prepare to verify
my figures; for, if unfortunately for them the figures prove
accurate, the proprietors are lost.

In proving the impossibility of property, I complete the proof of
its injustice.  In fact,--

That which is JUST must be USEFUL;

That which is useful must be TRUE;

That which is true must be POSSIBLE;

Therefore, every thing which is impossible is untrue, useless,
unjust.  Then,--a priori,--we may judge of the justice of any
thing by its possibility; so that if the thing were absolutely
impossible, it would be absolutely unjust.



AXIOM.--Property is the Right of Increase claimed by the
Proprietor over any thing which he has stamped as his own.

This proposition is purely an axiom, because,--

1. It is not a definition, since it does not express all that is
included in the right of property--the right of sale, of
exchange, of gift; the right to transform, to alter, to consume,
to destroy, to use and abuse, &c.  All these rights are so many
different powers of property, which we may consider separately;
but which we disregard here, that we may devote all our attention
to this single one,--the right of increase.

2. It is universally admitted.  No one can deny it without
denying the facts, without being instantly belied by universal

3. It is self-evident, since property is always accompanied
(either actually or potentially) by the fact which this axiom
expresses; and through this fact, mainly, property manifests,
establishes, and asserts itself.

4. Finally, its negation involves a contradiction.  The right of
increase is really an inherent right, so essential a part of
property, that, in its absence, property is null and void.

OBSERVATIONS.--Increase receives different names according to
the thing by which it is yielded: if by land, FARM-RENT; if by
houses and furniture, RENT; if by life-investments, REVENUE;
if by money, INTEREST; if by exchange, ADVANTAGE, GAIN, PROFIT
(three things which must not be confounded with the wages or
legitimate price of labor).

Increase--a sort of royal prerogative, of tangible and consumable
homage--is due to the proprietor on account of his nominal and
metaphysical occupancy.  His seal is set upon the thing; that is
enough to prevent any one else from occupying it without HIS

This permission to use his things the proprietor may, if he
chooses, freely grant.  Commonly he sells it.  This sale is
really a stellionate and an extortion; but by the legal fiction
of the right of property, this same sale, severely punished, we
know not why, in other cases, is a source of profit and value to
the proprietor.

The amount demanded by the proprietor, in payment for this
permission, is expressed in monetary terms by the dividend which
the supposed product yields in nature.  So that, by the right of
increase, the proprietor reaps and does not plough; gleans and
does not till; consumes and does not produce; enjoys and does not
labor.  Very different from the idols of the Psalmist are the
gods of property: the former had hands and felt not; the latter,
on the contrary, _manus habent et palpabunt_.
_ _The right of increase is conferred in a very mysterious and
supernatural manner.  The inauguration of a proprietor is
accompanied by the awful ceremonies of an ancient
initiation.  First, comes the CONSECRATION of the article;
a consecration which makes known to all that they must offer up a
suitable sacrifice to the proprietor, whenever they wish, by his
permission obtained and signed, to use his article.

Second, comes the ANATHEMA, which prohibits--except on the
conditions aforesaid--all persons from touching the article, even
in the proprietor's absence; and pronounces every violator of
property sacrilegious, infamous, amenable to the secular power,
and deserving of being handed over to it.

Finally, the DEDICATION, which enables the proprietor or patron
saint--the god chosen to watch over the article--to inhabit it
mentally, like a divinity in his sanctuary.  By means of this
dedication, the substance of the article--so to speak--becomes
converted into the person of the proprietor, who is regarded as
ever present in its form.

This is exactly the doctrine of the writers on jurisprudence. 
"Property," says Toullier, "is a MORAL QUALITY inherent in a
thing; AN ACTUAL BOND which fastens it to the proprietor, and
which cannot be broken save by his act."  Locke humbly doubted
whether God could make matter INTELLIGENT.  Toullier asserts
that the proprietor renders it MORAL.  How much does he lack of
being a God?  These are by no means exaggerations.

PROPERTY IS THE RIGHT OF INCREASE; that is, the power to
produce without labor.  Now, to produce without labor is to make
something from nothing; in short, to create.  Surely it is no
more difficult to do this than to moralize matter.  The jurists
are right, then, in applying to proprietors this passage from the
Scriptures,--_Ego dixi:  Dii estis et filii Excelsi omnes_,--"I
have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most

PROPERTY IS THE RIGHT OF INCREASE.  To us this axiom shall
be like the name of the beast in the Apocalypse,--a name in
which is hidden the complete explanation of the whole mystery of
this beast.  It was known that he who should solve the mystery of
this name would obtain a knowledge of the whole prophecy, and
would succeed in mastering the beast.  Well! by the most careful
interpretation of our axiom we shall kill the sphinx of property.

Starting from this eminently characteristic fact--the RIGHT OF
INCREASE--we shall pursue the old serpent through his coils; we
shall count the murderous entwinings of this frightful taenia,
whose head, with its thousand suckers, is always hidden from the
sword of its most violent enemies, though abandoning to them
immense fragments of its body.  It requires something more than
courage to subdue this monster.  It was written that it should
not die until a proletaire, armed with a magic wand, had fought
with it.

THING INCREASED.  Whatever be the rate of interest,--whether it
rise to three, five, or ten per cent., or fall to one-half, one-
fourth, one-tenth,--it does not matter; the law of increase
remains the same.  The law is as follows:--

All capital--the cash value of which can be estimated--may be
considered as a term in an arithmetical series which progresses
in the ratio of one hundred, and the revenue yielded by this
capital as the corresponding term of another arithmetical series
which progresses in a ratio equal to the rate of interest.  Thus,
a capital of five hundred francs being the fifth term of the
arithmetical progression whose ratio is one hundred, its revenue
at three per cent. will be indicated by the fifth term of the
arithmetical progression whose ratio is three:--

100  .  200  .  300  .  400  .  500.
 3   .   6   .   9   .   12  .   15.

An acquaintance with this sort of LOGARITHMS--tables of which,
calculated to a very high degree, are possessed by proprietors--
will give us the key to the most puzzling problems, and cause us
to experience a series of surprises.

By this LOGARITHMIC theory of the right of increase, a piece of
property, together with its income, may be defined as A NUMBER
a house valued at one hundred thousand francs, and leased at five
per cent., yields a revenue of five thousand francs, according to
the formula 100,000 x 5 / 100 = five thousand.  Vice versa, a
piece of land which yields, at two and a half per cent., a
revenue of three thousand francs is worth one hundred and twenty
thousand francs, according to this other formula; 3,000 x 100 / 2
1/2 = one hundred and twenty thousand.

In the first case, the ratio of the progression which marks the
increase of interest is five; in the second, it is two and a

OBSERVATION.--The forms of increase known as farm-rent, income,
and interest are paid annually; rent is paid by the week, the
month, or the year; profits and gains are paid at the time of
exchange.  Thus, the amount of increase is proportional both to
the thing increased, and the time during which it increases; in
other words, usury grows like a cancer--_foenus serpit sicut

DEAD LOSS TO THE LATTER.  For if the proprietor owed, in
exchange for the increase which he receives, some thing more than
the permission which he grants, his right of property would not
be perfect--he would not possess _jure optimo, jure perfecto;_ 
that is, he would not be in reality a proprietor.  Then, all
which passes from the hands of the occupant into those of
the proprietor in the name of increase, and as the price of the
permission to occupy, is a permanent gain for the latter, and a
dead loss and annihilation for the former; to whom none of it
will return, save in the forms of gift, alms, wages paid for his
services, or the price of merchandise which he has delivered.  In
a word, increase perishes so far as the borrower is concerned; or
to use the more energetic Latin phrase,--_res perit solventi_.

STRANGER.  The master of a thing, as its proprietor, levies a
tax for the use of his property upon himself as its possessor,
equal to that which he would receive from a third party; so that
capital bears interest in the hands of the capitalist, as well as
in those of the borrower and the commandite.  If, indeed,
rather than accept a rent of five hundred francs for my
apartment, I prefer to occupy and enjoy it, it is clear that I
shall become my own debtor for a rent equal to that which I deny
myself.  This principle is universally practised in business, and
is regarded as an axiom by the economists.  Manufacturers, also,
who have the advantage of being proprietors of their floating
capital, although they owe no interest to any one, in calculating
their profits subtract from them, not only their running expenses
and the wages of their employees, but also the interest on their
capital.  For the same reason, money-lenders retain in their own
possession as little money as possible; for, since all capital
necessarily bears interest, if this interest is supplied by no
one, it comes out of the capital, which is to that extent
diminished.  Thus, by the right of increase, capital eats itself
up.  This is, doubtless, the idea that Papinius intended to
convey in the phrase, as elegant as it is forcible--_Foenus
mordet solidam_.  I beg pardon for using Latin so frequently in
discussing this subject; it is an homage which I pay to the
most usurious nation that ever existed.


Property is impossible, because it demands Something for

The discussion of this proposition covers the same ground as that
of the origin of farm-rent, which is so much debated by the
economists.  When I read the writings of the greater part of
these men, I cannot avoid a feeling of contempt mingled with
anger, in view of this mass of nonsense, in which the detestable
vies with the absurd.  It would be a repetition of the story of
the elephant in the moon, were it not for the atrocity of the
consequences.  To seek a rational and legitimate origin of that
which is, and ever must be, only robbery, extortion, and
plunder--that must be the height of the proprietor's folly; the
last degree of bedevilment into which minds, otherwise judicious,
can be thrown by the perversity of selfishness.

"A farmer," says Say, "is a wheat manufacturer who, among other
tools which serve him in modifying the material from which he
makes the wheat, employs one large tool, which we call a field. 
If he is not the proprietor of the field, if he is only a tenant,
he pays the proprietor for the productive service of this tool. 
The tenant is reimbursed by the purchaser, the latter by another,
until the product reaches the consumer; who redeems the first
payment, PLUS all the others, by means of which the product has
at last come into his hands."

Let us lay aside the subsequent payments by which the product
reaches the consumer, and, for the present, pay attention only to
the first one of all,--the rent paid to the proprietor by the
tenant.  On what ground, we ask, is the proprietor entitled to
this rent?

According to Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill, farm-rent,
properly speaking, is simply the EXCESS OF THE PRODUCT OF
so that farm-rent is not demanded for the former until the
increase of population renders necessary the cultivation of the

It is difficult to see any sense in this.  How can a right to the
land be based upon a difference in the quality of the land?  How
can varieties of soil engender a principle of legislation and
politics?  This reasoning is either so subtle, or so stupid, that
the more I think of it, the more bewildered I become.  Suppose
two pieces of land of equal area; the one, A, capable of
supporting ten thousand inhabitants; the other, B, capable of
supporting nine thousand only: when, owing to an increase in
their number, the inhabitants of A shall be forced to cultivate
B, the landed proprietors of A will exact from their tenants in A
a rent proportional to the difference between ten and nine.  So
say, I think, Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill.  But if A supports
as many inhabitants as it can contain,--that is, if the
inhabitants of A, by our hypothesis, have only just enough land
to keep them alive,--how can they pay farm-rent?

If they had gone no farther than to say that the difference in
land has OCCASIONED farm-rent, instead of CAUSED it, this
observation would have taught us a valuable lesson; namely, that
farm-rent grew out of a desire for equality.  Indeed, if all men
have an equal right to the possession of good land, no one can be
forced to cultivate bad land without indemnification.  Farm-
rent--according to Ricardo, MacCulloch, and Mill--would then have
been a compensation for loss and hardship.  This system of
practical equality is a bad one, no doubt; but it sprang from
good intentions.  What argument can Ricardo, MacCulloch, and
Mill develop therefrom in favor of property?  Their theory
turns against themselves, and strangles them.

Malthus thinks that farm-rent has its source in the power
possessed by land of producing more than is necessary to supply
the wants of the men who cultivate it.  I would ask Malthus why
successful labor should entitle the idle to a portion of the

But the worthy Malthus is mistaken in regard to the fact.  Yes;
land has the power of producing more than is needed by those who
cultivate it, if by CULTIVATORS is meant tenants only.  The
tailor also makes more clothes than he wears, and the cabinet-
maker more furniture than he uses.  But, since the various
professions imply and sustain one another, not only the farmer,
but the followers of all arts and trades--even to the doctor and
the school-teacher--are, and ought to be, regarded as
CULTIVATORS OF THE LAND.  Malthus bases farm-rent upon the
principle of commerce.  Now, the fundamental law of commerce
being equivalence of the products exchanged, any thing which
destroys this equivalence violates the law.  There is an error in
the estimate which needs to be corrected.

Buchanan--a commentator on Smith--regarded farm-rent as the
result of a monopoly, and maintained that labor alone is
productive.  Consequently, he thought that, without this
monopoly, products would rise in price; and he found no basis for
farm-rent save in the civil law.  This opinion is a corollary of
that which makes the civil law the basis of property.  But why
has the civil law--which ought to be the written expression of
justice--authorized this monopoly?  Whoever says monopoly,
necessarily excludes justice.  Now, to say that farm-rent is a
monopoly sanctioned by the law, is to say that injustice is based
on justice,--a contradiction in terms.

Say answers Buchanan, that the proprietor is not a monopolist,
because a monopolist "is one who does not increase the utility of
the merchandise which passes through his hands."

How much does the proprietor increase the utility of his tenant's
products?  Has he ploughed, sowed, reaped, mowed, winnowed,
weeded?  These are the processes by which the tenant and his
employees increase the utility of the material which they consume
for the purpose of reproduction.

"The landed proprietor increases the utility of products by means
of his implement, the land.  This implement receives in one
state, and returns in another the materials of which wheat is
composed.  The action of the land is a chemical process, which so
modifies the material that it multiplies it by destroying it. 
The soil is then a producer of utility; and when it [the soil?]
asks its pay in the form of profit, or farm rent, for its
proprietor, it at the same time gives something to the consumer
in exchange for the amount which the consumer pays it.  It gives
him a produced utility; and it is the production of this utility
which warrants us in calling land productive, as well as labor."

Let us clear up this matter.

The blacksmith who manufactures for the farmer implements of
husbandry, the wheelwright who makes him a cart, the mason who
builds his barn, the carpenter, the basket-maker, &c.,--all of
whom contribute to agricultural production by the tools which
they provide,--are producers of utility; consequently, they are
entitled to a part of the products.

"Undoubtedly," says Say; "but the land also is an implement whose
service must be paid for, then. . . ."

I admit that the land is an implement; but who made it?  Did the
proprietor?  Did he--by the efficacious virtue of the right of
property, by this MORAL QUALITY infused into the soil--endow it
with vigor and fertility?  Exactly there lies the monopoly of the
proprietor; in the fact that, though he did not make the
implement, he asks pay for its use.  When the Creator shall
present himself and claim farm-rent, we will consider the matter
with him; or even when the proprietor--his pretended
representative--shall exhibit his power-of-attorney.

"The proprietor's service," adds Say, "is easy, I admit."

It is a frank confession.

"But we cannot disregard it.  Without property, one farmer would
contend with another for the possession of a field without a
proprietor, and the field would remain uncultivated. . . ."

Then the proprietor's business is to reconcile farmers by robbing
them.  O logic!  O justice!  O the marvellous wisdom of
economists!  The proprietor, if they are right, is like Perrin-
Dandin who, when summoned by two travellers to settle a dispute
about an oyster, opened it, gobbled it, and said to them:--

"The Court awards you each a shell."

Could any thing worse be said of property?

Will Say tell us why the same farmers, who, if there were no
proprietors, would contend with each other for possession of the
soil, do not contend to-day with the proprietors for this
possession?  Obviously, because they think them legitimate
possessors, and because their respect for even an imaginary right
exceeds their avarice.  I proved, in Chapter II., that possession
is sufficient, without property, to maintain social order.  Would
it be more difficult, then, to reconcile possessors without
masters than tenants controlled by proprietors?  Would laboring
men, who respect--much to their own detriment--the pretended
rights of the idler, violate the natural rights of the producer
and the manufacturer?  What! if the husbandman forfeited his
right to the land as soon as he ceased to occupy it, would he
become more covetous?  And would the impossibility of demanding
increase, of taxing another's labor, be a source of quarrels and
law-suits?  The economists use singular logic.  But we are not
yet through.  Admit that the proprietor is the legitimate master
of the land.

"The land is an instrument of production," they say.  That is
true.  But when, changing the noun into an adjective, they alter
the phrase, thus, "The land is a productive instrument," they
make a wicked blunder.

According to Quesnay and the early economists, all production
comes from the land.  Smith, Ricardo, and de Tracy, on the
contrary, say that labor is the sole agent of production.  Say,
and most of his successors, teach that BOTH land AND labor
AND capital are productive.  The latter constitute the eclectic
school of political economy.  The truth is, that NEITHER land
NOR labor NOR capital is productive.  Production results from
the co-operation of these three equally necessary elements,
which, taken separately, are equally sterile.

Political economy, indeed, treats of the production,
distribution, and consumption of wealth or values.  But of what
values?  Of the values produced by human industry; that is, of
the changes made in matter by man, that he may appropriate it to
his own use, and not at all of Nature's spontaneous productions. 
Man's labor consists in a simple laying on of hands.  When he has
taken that trouble, he has produced a value.  Until then, the
salt of the sea, the water of the springs, the grass of the
fields, and the trees of the forests are to him as if they were
not.  The sea, without the fisherman and his line, supplies no
fish.  The forest, without the wood-cutter and his axe, furnishes
neither fuel nor timber.  The meadow, without the mower,
yields neither hay nor aftermath.  Nature is a vast mass of
material to be cultivated and converted into products; but Nature
produces nothing for herself: in the economical sense, her
products, in their relation to man, are not yet products.

Capital, tools, and machinery are likewise unproductive.  The
hammer and the anvil, without the blacksmith and the iron, do not
forge.  The mill, without the miller and the grain, does not
grind, &c.  Bring tools and raw material together; place a plough
and some seed on fertile soil; enter a smithy, light the fire,
and shut up the shop,--you will produce nothing.  The following
remark was made by an economist who possessed more good sense
than most of his fellows:  "Say credits capital with an active
part unwarranted by its nature; left to itself, it is an idle
tool."  (J. Droz: Political Economy.)

Finally, labor and capital together, when unfortunately combined,
produce nothing.  Plough a sandy desert, beat the water of the
rivers, pass type through a sieve,--you will get neither wheat,
nor fish, nor books.  Your trouble will be as fruitless as was
the immense labor of the army of Xerxes; who, as Herodotus says,
with his three million soldiers, scourged the Hellespont for
twenty-four hours, as a punishment for having broken and
scattered the pontoon bridge which the great king had thrown
across it.

Tools and capital, land and labor, considered individually and
abstractly, are not, literally speaking, productive.  The
proprietor who asks to be rewarded for the use of a tool, or the
productive power of his land, takes for granted, then, that which
is radically false; namely, that capital produces by its own
effort,--and, in taking pay for this imaginary product, he
literally receives something for nothing.

OBJECTION.--But if the blacksmith, the wheelwright, all
manufacturers in short, have a right to the products in return
for the implements which they furnish; and if land is an
implement of production,--why does not this implement entitle its
proprietor, be his claim real or imaginary, to a portion of the
products; as in the case of the manufacturers of ploughs and

REPLY.--Here we touch the heart of the question, the mystery of
property; which we must clear up, if we would understand any
thing of the strange effects of the right of increase.

He who manufactures or repairs the farmer's tools receives the
price ONCE, either at the time of delivery, or in several
payments; and when this price is once paid to the manufacturer,
the tools which he has delivered belong to him no more.  Never
does he claim double payment for the same tool, or the same job
of repairs.  If he annually shares in the products of the farmer,
it is owing to the fact that he annually makes something for the

The proprietor, on the contrary, does not yield his implement;
eternally he is paid for it, eternally he keeps it.

In fact, the rent received by the proprietor is not intended to
defray the expense of maintaining and repairing the implement;
this expense is charged to the borrower, and does not concern the
proprietor except as he is interested in the preservation of the
article.  If he takes it upon himself to attend to the repairs,
he takes care that the money which he expends for this purpose is

This rent does not represent the product of the implement, since
of itself the implement produces nothing; we have just proved
this, and we shall prove it more clearly still by its

Finally, this rent does not represent the participation of the
proprietor in the production; since this participation could
consist, like that of the blacksmith and the wheelwright, only in
the surrender of the whole or a part of his implement, in which
case he would cease to be its proprietor, which would involve a
contradiction of the idea of property.

Then, between the proprietor and his tenant there is no exchange
either of values or services; then, as our axiom says, farm-rent
is real increase,--an extortion based solely upon fraud and
violence on the one hand, and weakness and ignorance upon the
other.  PRODUCTS say the economists, ARE BOUGHT ONLY BY
PRODUCTS.  This maxim is property's condemnation.  The
proprietor, producing neither by his own labor nor by his
implement, and receiving products in exchange for nothing, is
either a parasite or a thief.  Then, if property can exist only
as a right, property is impossible.

COROLLARIES.--1. The republican constitution of 1793, which
defined property as "the right to enjoy the fruit of one's
labor," was grossly mistaken.  It should have said, "Property is
the right to enjoy and dispose at will of another's goods,--the
fruit of another's industry and labor."

2. Every possessor of lands, houses, furniture, machinery, tools,
money, &c., who lends a thing for a price exceeding the cost of
repairs (the repairs being charged to the lender, and
representing products which he exchanges for other products), is
guilty of swindling and extortion.  In short, all rent received
(nominally as damages, but really as payment for a loan) is an
act of property,--a robbery.

HISTORICAL COMMENT.--The tax which a victorious nation levies
upon a conquered nation is genuine farm-rent.  The seigniorial
rights abolished by the Revolution of 1789,--tithes, mortmain,
statute-labor, &c.,--were different forms of the rights of
property; and they who under the titles of nobles,
seigneurs, prebendaries, &c. enjoyed these rights, were
neither more nor less than proprietors.  To defend property to-
day is to condemn the Revolution.


Property is impossible because wherever it exists Production
costs more than it is worth.

The preceding proposition was legislative in its nature; this one
is economical.  It serves to prove that property, which
originates in violence, results in waste.

"Production," says Say, "is exchange on a large scale.  To render
the exchange productive the value of the whole amount of service
must be balanced by the value of the product.  If this condition
is not complied with, the exchange is unequal; the producer gives
more than he receives."

Now, value being necessarily based upon utility, it follows that
every useless product is necessarily valueless,--that it cannot
be exchanged; and, consequently, that it cannot be given in
payment for productive services.

Then, though production may equal consumption, it never can
exceed it; for there is no real production save where there is a
production of utility, and there is no utility save where there
is a possibility of consumption.  Thus, so much of every product
as is rendered by excessive abundance inconsumable, becomes
useless, valueless, unexchangeable,--consequently, unfit to be
given in payment for any thing whatever, and is no longer a

Consumption, on the other hand, to be legitimate,--to be true
consumption,--must be reproductive of utility; for, if it is
unproductive, the products which it destroys are cancelled
values--things produced at a pure loss; a state of things
which causes products to depreciate in value.  Man has the
power to destroy, but he consumes only that which he reproduces. 
Under a right system of economy, there is then an equation
between production and consumption.

These points established, let us suppose a community of one
thousand families, enclosed in a territory of a given
circumference, and deprived of foreign intercourse.  Let this
community represent the human race, which, scattered over the
face of the earth, is really isolated.  In fact, the difference
between a community and the human race being only a numerical
one, the economical results will be absolutely the same in each

Suppose, then, that these thousand families, devoting themselves
exclusively to wheat-culture, are obliged to pay to one hundred
individuals, chosen from the mass, an annual revenue of ten per
cent. on their product.  It is clear that, in such a case, the
right of increase is equivalent to a tax levied in advance upon
social production.  Of what use is this tax?

It cannot be levied to supply the community with provisions, for
between that and farm-rent there is nothing in common; nor to pay
for services and products,--for the proprietors, laboring like
the others, have labored only for themselves.  Finally, this tax
is of no use to its recipients who, having harvested wheat enough
for their own consumption, and not being able in a society
without commerce and manufactures to procure any thing else in
exchange for it, thereby lose the advantage of their income.

In such a society, one-tenth of the product being inconsumable,
one-tenth of the labor goes unpaid--production costs more than it
is worth.

Now, change three hundred of our wheat-producers into artisans of
all kinds: one hundred gardeners and wine-growers, sixty
shoemakers and tailors, fifty carpenters and blacksmiths, eighty
of various professions, and, that nothing may be lacking, seven
school-masters, one mayor, one judge, and one priest; each
industry furnishes the whole community with its special product. 
Now, the total production being one thousand, each laborer's
consumption is one; namely, wheat, meat, and grain, 0.7; wine and
vegetables, 0.1; shoes and clothing, 0.06; iron-work and
furniture, 0.05; sundries, 0.08; instruction, 0.007;
administration, 0.002; mass, 0.001, Total 1.

But the community owes a revenue of ten per cent.; and it matters
little whether the farmers alone pay it, or all the laborers are
responsible for it,--the result is the same.  The farmer raises
the price of his products in proportion to his share of the debt;
the other laborers follow his example.  Then, after some
fluctuations, equilibrium is established, and all pay nearly the
same amount of the revenue.  It would be a grave error to assume
that in a nation none but farmers pay farm-rent--the whole nation
pays it.

I say, then, that by this tax of ten per cent. each laborer's
consumption is reduced as follows: wheat, 0.63; wine and
vegetables, 0.09; clothing and shoes, 0.054; furniture and iron-
work, 0.045; other products, 0.072; schooling, 0.0063;
administration, 0.0018; mass, 0.0009.  Total 0.9.

The laborer has produced 1; he consumes only 0.9.  He loses,
then, one-tenth of the price of his labor; his production still
costs more than it is worth.  On the other hand, the tenth
received by the proprietors is no less a waste; for, being
laborers themselves, they, like the others, possess in the nine-
tenths of their product the wherewithal to live: they want for
nothing.  Why should they wish their proportion of bread, wine,
meat, clothes, shelter, &c., to be doubled, if they can
neither consume nor exchange them?  Then farm-rent, with them as
with the rest of the laborers, is a waste, and perishes in their
hands.  Extend the hypothesis, increase the number and variety of
the products, you still have the same result.

Hitherto, we have considered the proprietor as taking part in the
production, not only (as Say says) by the use of his instrument,
but in an effective manner and by the labor of his hands.  Now,
it is easy to see that, under such circumstances, property will
never exist.  What happens?

The proprietor--an essentially libidinous animal, without virtue
or shame--is not satisfied with an orderly and disciplined life. 
He loves property, because it enables him to do at leisure what
he pleases and when he pleases.  Having obtained the means of
life, he gives himself up to trivialities and indolence; he
enjoys, he fritters away his time, he goes in quest of
curiosities and novel sensations.  Property--to enjoy itself--has
to abandon ordinary life, and busy itself in luxurious
occupations and unclean enjoyments.

Instead of giving up a farm-rent, which is perishing in their
hands, and thus lightening the labor of the community, our
hundred proprietors prefer to rest.  In consequence of this
withdrawal,--the absolute production being diminished by one
hundred, while the consumption remains the same,--production and
consumption seem to balance.  But, in the first place, since the
proprietors no longer labor, their consumption is, according to
economical principles, unproductive; consequently, the previous
condition of the community--when the labor of one hundred was
rewarded by no products--is superseded by one in which the
products of one hundred are consumed without labor.  The deficit
is always the same, whichever the column of the account in which
it is expressed.  Either the maxims of political economy are
false, or else property, which contradicts them, is impossible.

The economists--regarding all unproductive consumption as an
evil, as a robbery of the human race--never fail to exhort
proprietors to moderation, labor, and economy; they preach to
them the necessity of making themselves useful, of remunerating
production for that which they receive from it; they launch the
most terrible curses against luxury and laziness.  Very beautiful
morality, surely; it is a pity that it lacks common sense.  The
proprietor who labors, or, as the economists say, WHO MAKES
HIMSELF USEFUL, is paid for this labor and utility; is he,
therefore, any the less idle as concerns the property which he
does not use, and from which he receives an income?  His
condition, whatever he may do, is an unproductive and FELONIOUS
one; he cannot cease to waste and destroy without ceasing to be a

But this is only the least of the evils which property engenders.

Society has to maintain some idle people, whether or no.  It will
always have the blind, the maimed, the insane, and the idiotic. 
It can easily support a few sluggards.  At this point, the
impossibilities thicken and become complicated.


Property is impossible, because, with a given capital,
Production is proportional to labor, not to property.

To pay a farm-rent of one hundred at the rate of ten per cent. of
the product, the product must be one thousand; that the product
may be one thousand, a force of one thousand laborers is needed. 
It follows, that in granting a furlough, as we have just done, to
our one hundred laborer-proprietors, all of whom had an equal
right to lead the life of men of income,--we have placed
ourselves in a position where we are unable to pay their
revenues.  In fact, the productive power, which at first was one
thousand, being now but nine hundred, the production is also
reduced to nine hundred, one-tenth of which is ninety.  Either,
then, ten proprietors out of the one hundred cannot be paid,--
provided the remaining ninety are to get the whole amount of
their farm-rent,--or else all must consent to a decrease of ten
per cent.  For it is not for the laborer, who has been wanting in
no particular, who has produced as in the past, to suffer by the
withdrawal of the proprietor.  The latter must take the
consequences of his own idleness.  But, then, the proprietor
becomes poorer for the very reason that he wishes to enjoy; by
exercising his right, he loses it; so that property seems to
decrease and vanish in proportion as we try to lay hold of it,--
the more we pursue it, the more it eludes our grasp.  What sort
of a right is that which is governed by numerical relations, and
which an arithmetical calculation can destroy?

The laborer-proprietor received, first, as laborer, 0.9 in wages;
second, as proprietor, 1 in farm-rent.  He said to himself, "My
farm-rent is sufficient; I have enough and to spare without my
labor."  And thus it is that the income upon which he calculated
gets diminished by one-tenth,--he at the same time not even
suspecting the cause of this diminution.  By taking part in the
production, he was himself the creator of this tenth which has
vanished; and while he thought to labor only for himself, he
unwittingly suffered a loss in exchanging his products, by which
he was made to pay to himself one-tenth of his own farm-rent. 
Like every one else, he produced 1, and received but 0.9

If, instead of nine hundred laborers, there had been but five
hundred, the whole amount of farm-rent would have been
reduced to fifty; if there had been but one hundred, it
would have fallen to ten.  We may posit, then, the following
axiom as a law of proprietary economy:  INCREASE MUST DIMINISH

_  _This first result will lead us to another more surprising
still.  Its effect is to deliver us at one blow from all the
evils of property, without abolishing it, without wronging
proprietors, and by a highly conservative process.

We have just proved that, if the farm-rent in a community of one
thousand laborers is one hundred, that of nine hundred would be
ninety, that of eight hundred, eighty, that of one hundred, ten,
&c.  So that, in a community where there was but one laborer, the
farm-rent would be but 0.1; no matter how great the extent and
value of the land appropriated.  Therefore, WITH A GIVEN LANDED

Guided by this principle, let us try to ascertain the maximum
increase of all property whatever.

What is, essentially, a farm-lease?  It is a contract by which
the proprietor yields to a tenant possession of his land, in
consideration of a portion of that which it yields him, the
proprietor.  If, in consequence of an increase in his household,
the tenant becomes ten times as strong as the proprietor, he will
produce ten times as much.  Would the proprietor in such a case
be justified in raising the farm-rent tenfold?  His right is not,
The more you produce, the more I demand.  It is, The more I
sacrifice, the more I demand.  The increase in the tenant's
household, the number of hands at his disposal, the resources of
his industry,--all these serve to increase production, but bear
no relation to the proprietor.  His claims are to be measured by
his own productive capacity, not that of others.  Property is
the right of increase, not a poll-tax.  How could a man,
hardly capable of cultivating even a few acres by himself, demand
of a community, on the ground of its use of ten thousand acres of
his property, ten thousand times as much as he is incapable of
producing from one acre?  Why should the price of a loan be
governed by the skill and strength of the borrower, rather than
by the utility sacrificed by the proprietor?  We must recognize,
then, this second economical law:  INCREASE IS MEASURED BY A

Now, this production, what is it?  In other words, What can the
lord and master of a piece of land justly claim to have
sacrificed in lending it to a tenant?

The productive capacity of a proprietor, like that of any
laborer, being one, the product which he sacrifices in
surrendering his land is also one.  If, then, the rate of
increase is ten per cent., the maximum increase is 0.1.

But we have seen that, whenever a proprietor withdraws from
production, the amount of products is lessened by 1.  Then the
increase which accrues to him, being equal to 0.1 while he
remains among the laborers, will be equal after his withdrawal,
by the law of the decrease of farm-rent, to 0.09.  Thus we are
led to this final formula:  THE MAXIMUM INCOME OF A PROPRIETOR
number being agreed upon to express this product).  THE

Thus the maximum income of an idle proprietor, or of one who
labors in his own behalf outside of the community, figured at ten
per cent. on an average production of one thousand francs
per laborer, would be ninety francs.  If, then, there are in
France one million proprietors with an income of one thousand
francs each, which they consume unproductively, instead of the
one thousand millions which are paid them annually, they are
entitled in strict justice, and by the most accurate calculation,
to ninety millions only.

It is something of a reduction, to take nine hundred and ten
millions from the burdens which weigh so heavily upon the
laboring class!  Nevertheless, the account is not finished, and
the laborer is still ignorant of the full extent of his rights.

What is the right of increase when confined within just limits? 
A recognition of the right of occupancy.  But since all have an
equal right of occupancy, every man is by the same title a
proprietor.  Every man has a right to an income equal to a
fraction of his product.  If, then, the laborer is obliged by the
right of property to pay a rent to the proprietor, the proprietor
is obliged by the same right to pay the same amount of rent to
the laborer; and, since their rights balance each other, the
difference between them is zero.

_Scholium_.--If farm-rent is only a fraction of the supposed
product of the proprietor, whatever the amount and value of the
property, the same is true in the case of a large number of small
and distinct proprietors.  For, although one man may use the
property of each separately, he cannot use the property of all at
the same time.

To sum up.  The right of increase, which can exist only within
very narrow limits, defined by the laws of production, is
annihilated by the right of occupancy.  Now, without the right of
increase, there is no property.  Then property is impossible.


Property is impossible, because it is Homicide.

If the right of increase could be subjected to the laws of reason
and justice, it would be reduced to an indemnity or reward whose
MAXIMUM never could exceed, for a single laborer, a certain
fraction of that which he is capable of producing.  This we have
just shown.  But why should the right of increase--let us not
fear to call it by its right name, the right of robbery--be
governed by reason, with which it has nothing in common?  The
proprietor is not content with the increase allotted him by good
sense and the nature of things: he demands ten times, a hundred
times, a thousand times, a million times as much.  By his own
labor, his property would yield him a product equal only to one;
and he demands of society, no longer a right proportional to his
productive capacity, but a per capita tax.  He taxes his
fellows in proportion to their strength, their number, and their
industry.  A son is born to a farmer.  "Good!" says the
proprietor; "one more chance for increase!"  By what process has
farm-rent been thus changed into a poll-tax?  Why have our
jurists and our theologians failed, with all their shrewdness, to
check the extension of the right of increase?

The proprietor, having estimated from his own productive capacity
the number of laborers which his property will accommodate,
divides it into as many portions, and says:  "Each one shall
yield me revenue."  To increase his income, he has only to divide
his property.  Instead of reckoning the interest due him on his
labor, he reckons it on his capital; and, by this substitution,
the same property, which in the hands of its owner is capable of
yielding only one, is worth to him ten, a hundred, a
thousand, a million.  Consequently, he has only to hold himself
in readiness to register the names of the laborers who apply to
him--his task consists in drafting leases and receipts.

Not satisfied with the lightness of his duties, the proprietor
does not intend to bear even the deficit resulting from his
idleness; he throws it upon the shoulders of the producer, of
whom he always demands the same reward.  When the farm-rent of a
piece of land is once raised to its highest point, the proprietor
never lowers it; high prices, the scarcity of labor, the
disadvantages of the season, even pestilence itself, have no
effect upon him--why should he suffer from hard times when he
does not labor?

Here commences a new series of phenomena.

Say--who reasons with marvellous clearness whenever he assails
taxation, but who is blind to the fact that the proprietor, as
well as the tax-gatherer, steals from the tenant, and in the same
manner--says in his second letter to Malthus:--

"If the collector of taxes and those who employ him consume one-
sixth of the products, they thereby compel the producers to feed,
clothe, and support themselves on five-sixths of what they
produce.  They admit this, but say at the same time that it is
possible for each one to live on five-sixths of what he produces.

I admit that, if they insist upon it; but I ask if they believe
that the producer would live as well, in case they demanded of
him, instead of one-sixth, two-sixths, or one-third, of their
products?  No; but he would still live.  Then I ask whether he
would still live, in case they should rob him of two-
thirds, . . . then three-quarters?  But I hear no reply."

If the master of the French economists had been less blinded by
his proprietary prejudices, he would have seen that farm-rent has
precisely the same effect.

Take a family of peasants composed of six persons,--father,
mother, and four children,--living in the country, and
cultivating a small piece of ground.  Let us suppose that by
hard labor they manage, as the saying is, to make both ends meet;
that, having lodged, warmed, clothed, and fed themselves, they
are clear of debt, but have laid up nothing.  Taking the years
together, they contrive to live.  If the year is prosperous, the
father drinks a little more wine, the daughters buy themselves a
dress, the sons a hat; they eat a little cheese, and,
occasionally, some meat.  I say that these people are on the road
to wreck and ruin.

For, by the third corollary of our axiom, they owe to themselves
the interest on their own capital.  Estimating this capital at
only eight thousand francs at two and a half per cent., there is
an annual interest of two hundred francs to be paid.  If, then,
these two hundred francs, instead of being subtracted from the
gross product to be saved and capitalized, are consumed, there is
an annual deficit of two hundred francs in the family assets; so
that at the end of forty years these good people, without
suspecting it, will have eaten up their property and become

This result seems ridiculous--it is a sad reality.

The conscription comes.  What is the conscription?  An act of
property exercised over families by the government without
warning--a robbery of men and money.  The peasants do not like to
part with their sons,--in that I do not think them wrong.  It is
hard for a young man of twenty to gain any thing by life in the
barracks; unless he is depraved, he detests it.  You can
generally judge of a soldier's morality by his hatred of his
uniform.  Unfortunate wretches or worthless scamps,--such is the
make-up of the French army.  This ought not to be the case,--but
so it is.  Question a hundred thousand men, and not one will
contradict my assertion.

Our peasant, in redeeming his two conscripted sons, expends four
thousand francs, which he borrows for that purpose; the interest
on this, at five per cent., is two hundred francs;--a sum equal
to that referred to above.  If, up to this time, the production
of the family, constantly balanced by its consumption, has been
one thousand two hundred francs, or two hundred francs per
persons--in order to pay this interest, either the six laborers
must produce as much as seven, or must consume as little as five.

Curtail consumption they cannot--how can they curtail necessity? 
To produce more is impossible; they can work neither harder nor
longer.  Shall they take a middle course, and consume five and a
half while producing six and a half?  They would soon find that
with the stomach there is no compromise--that beyond a certain
degree of abstinence it is impossible to go--that strict
necessity can be curtailed but little without injury to the
health; and, as for increasing the product,--there comes a storm,
a drought, an epizootic, and all the hopes of the farmer are
dashed.  In short, the rent will not be paid, the interest will
accumulate, the farm will be seized, and the possessor ejected.

Thus a family, which lived in prosperity while it abstained from
exercising the right of property, falls into misery as soon as
the exercise of this right becomes a necessity.  Property
requires of the husbandman the double power of enlarging his
land, and fertilizing it by a simple command.  While a man is
simply possessor of the land, he finds in it means of
subsistence; as soon as he pretends to proprietorship, it
suffices him no longer.  Being able to produce only that which he
consumes, the fruit of his labor is his recompense for his
trouble--nothing is left for the instrument.

Required to pay what he cannot produce,--such is the
condition of the tenant after the proprietor has retired
from social production in order to speculate upon the labor of
others by new methods.

Let us now return to our first hypothesis.

The nine hundred laborers, sure that their future production will
equal that of the past, are quite surprised, after paying their
farm-rent, to find themselves poorer by one-tenth than they were
the previous year.  In fact, this tenth--which was formerly
produced and paid by the proprietor-laborer who then took part in
the production, and paid part of the--public expenses--now has
not been produced, and has been paid.  It must then have been
taken from the producer's consumption.  To choke this
inexplicable deficit, the laborer borrows, confident of his
intention and ability to return,--a confidence which is shaken
the following year by a new loan, PLUS the interest on the
first.  From whom does he borrow?  From the proprietor.  The
proprietor lends his surplus to the laborer; and this surplus,
which he ought to return, becomes--being lent at interest--a new
source of profit to him.  Then debts increase indefinitely; the
proprietor makes advances to the producer who never returns them;
and the latter, constantly robbed and constantly borrowing from
the robbers, ends in bankruptcy, defrauded of all that he had.

Suppose that the proprietor--who needs his tenant to furnish him
with an income--then releases him from his debts.  He will thus
do a very benevolent deed, which will procure for him a
recommendation in the curate's prayers; while the poor tenant,
overwhelmed by this unstinted charity, and taught by his
catechism to pray for his benefactors, will promise to redouble
his energy, and suffer new hardships that he may discharge his
debt to so kind a master.

This time he takes precautionary measures; he raises the
price of grains.  The manufacturer does the same with his
products.  The reaction comes, and, after some fluctuation, the
farm-rent--which the tenant thought to put upon the
manufacturer's shoulders--becomes nearly balanced.  So that,
while he is congratulating himself upon his success, he finds
himself again impoverished, but to an extent somewhat smaller
than before.  For the rise having been general, the proprietor
suffers with the rest; so that the laborers, instead of being
poorer by one-tenth, lose only nine-hundredths.  But always it is
a debt which necessitates a loan, the payment of interest,
economy, and fasting.  Fasting for the nine-hundredths which
ought not to be paid, and are paid; fasting for the redemption of
debts; fasting to pay the interest on them.  Let the crop fail,
and the fasting becomes starvation.  They say, "IT IS NECESSARY
TO WORK MORE."  That means, obviously, that IT IS NECESSARY TO
PRODUCE MORE.  By what conditions is production effected?  By
the combined action of labor, capital, and land.  As for the
labor, the tenant undertakes to furnish it; but capital is formed
only by economy.  Now, if the tenant could accumulate any thing,
he would pay his debts.  But granting that he has plenty of
capital, of what use would it be to him if the extent of the land
which he cultivates always remained the same?  He needs to
enlarge his farm.

Will it be said, finally, that he must work harder and to better
advantage?  But, in our estimation of farm-rent, we have assumed
the highest possible average of production.  Were it not the
highest, the proprietor would increase the farm-rent.  Is not
this the way in which the large landed proprietors have gradually
raised their rents, as fast as they have ascertained by the
increase in population and the development of industry how much
society can produce from their property?  The proprietor is
a foreigner to society; but, like the vulture, his eyes fixed
upon his prey, he holds himself ready to pounce upon and devour

The facts to which we have called attention, in a community of
one thousand persons, are reproduced on a large scale in every
nation and wherever human beings live, but with infinite
variations and in innumerable forms, which it is no part of my
intention to describe.

In fine, property--after having robbed the laborer by usury--
murders him slowly by starvation.  Now, without robbery and
murder, property cannot exist; with robbery and murder, it soon
dies for want of support.  Therefore it is impossible.


Property is impossible, because, if it exists, Society devours

When the ass is too heavily loaded, he lies down; man always
moves on.  Upon this indomitable courage, the proprietor--well
knowing that it exists--bases his hopes of speculation.  The free
laborer produces ten; for me, thinks the proprietor, he will
produce twelve.

Indeed,--before consenting to the confiscation of his fields,
before bidding farewell to the paternal roof,--the peasant, whose
story we have just told, makes a desperate effort; he leases new
land; he will sow one-third more; and, taking half of this new
product for himself, he will harvest an additional sixth, and
thereby pay his rent.  What an evil!  To add one-sixth to his
production, the farmer must add, not one-sixth, but two-sixths to
his labor.  At such a price, he pays a farm-rent which in God's
eyes he does not owe.

The tenant's example is followed by the manufacturer.  The former
tills more land, and dispossesses his neighbors; the latter
lowers the price of his merchandise, and endeavors to monopolize
its manufacture and sale, and to crush out his competitors.  To
satisfy property, the laborer must first produce beyond his
needs.  Then, he must produce beyond his strength; for, by the
withdrawal of laborers who become proprietors, the one always
follows from the other.  But to produce beyond his strength and
needs, he must invade the production of another, and consequently
diminish the number of producers.  Thus the proprietor--after
having lessened production by stepping outside--lessens it still
further by encouraging the monopoly of labor.  Let us calculate

The laborer's deficit, after paying his rent, being, as we have
seen, one-tenth, he tries to increase his production by this
amount.  He sees no way of accomplishing this save by increasing
his labor: this also he does.  The discontent of the proprietors
who have not received the full amount of their rent; the
advantageous offers and promises made them by other farmers, whom
they suppose more diligent, more industrious, and more reliable;
the secret plots and intrigues,--all these give rise to a
movement for the re-division of labor, and the elimination of a
certain number of producers.  Out of nine hundred, ninety will be
ejected, that the production of the others may be increased one-
tenth.  But will the total product be increased?  Not in the
least: there will be eight hundred and ten laborers producing as
nine hundred, while, to accomplish their purpose, they would have
to produce as one thousand.  Now, it having been proved that
farm-rent is proportional to the landed capital instead of to
labor, and that it never diminishes, the debts must continue
as in the past, while the labor has increased.  Here, then,
we have a society which is continually decimating itself, and
which would destroy itself, did not the periodical occurrence of
failures, bankruptcies, and political and economical catastrophes
re-establish equilibrium, and distract attention from the real
causes of the universal distress.

The monopoly of land and capital is followed by economical
processes which also result in throwing laborers out of
employment.  Interest being a constant burden upon the shoulders
of the farmer and the manufacturer, they exclaim, each speaking
for himself, "I should have the means wherewith to pay my rent
and interest, had I not to pay so many hands."  Then those
admirable inventions, intended to assure the easy and speedy
performance of labor, become so many infernal machines which kill
laborers by thousands.

"A few years ago, the Countess of Strafford ejected fifteen
thousand persons from her estate, who, as tenants, added to its
value.  This act of private administration was repeated in 1820,
by another large Scotch proprietor, towards six hundred tenants
and their families."--Tissot: on Suicide and Revolt.   

_  _The author whom I quote, and who has written eloquent words
concerning the revolutionary spirit which prevails in modern
society, does not say whether he would have disapproved of a
revolt on the part of these exiles.  For myself, I avow boldly
that in my eyes it would have been the first of rights, and the
holiest of duties; and all that I desire to-day is that my
profession of faith be understood.

Society devours itself,--1. By the violent and periodical
sacrifice of laborers: this we have just seen, and shall see
again; 2. By the stoppage of the producer's consumption caused by
property.  These two modes of suicide are at first simultaneous;
but soon the first is given additional force by the second,
famine uniting with usury to render labor at once more necessary
and more scarce.

By the principles of commerce and political economy, that an
industrial enterprise may be successful, its product must
furnish,--1. The interest on the capital employed; 2. Means for
the preservation of this capital; 3. The wages of all the
employees and contractors.  Further, as large a profit as
possible must be realized.

The financial shrewdness and rapacity of property is worthy of
admiration.  Each different name which increase takes affords the
proprietor an opportunity to receive it,--1. In the form of
interest; 2. In the form of profit.  For, it says, a part of the
income derived from manufactures consists of interest on the
capital employed.  If one hundred thousand francs have been
invested in a manufacturing enterprise, and in a year's time five
thousand francs have been received therefrom in addition to the
expenses, there has been no profit, but only interest on the
capital.  Now, the proprietor is not a man to labor for nothing. 
Like the lion in the fable, he gets paid in each of his
capacities; so that, after he has been served, nothing is left
for his associates.

         _Ego primam tollo, nominor quia leo.
          Secundam quia sum fortis tribuctis mihi.
          Tum quia plus valeo, me sequetur tertia.
          Malo adficietur, si quis quartam tetigerit._

I know nothing prettier than this fable.

          "I am the contractor.  I take the first share.
           I am the laborer, I take the second.
           I am the capitalist, I take the third.
           I am the proprietor, I take the whole."

In four lines, Phaedrus has summed up all the forms of property.

I say that this interest, all the more then this profit, is

What are laborers in relation to each other?  So many members of
a large industrial society, to each of whom is assigned a certain
portion of the general production, by the principle of the
division of labor and functions.  Suppose, first, that this
society is composed of but three individuals,-- a cattle-raiser,
a tanner, and a shoemaker.  The social industry, then, is that of
shoemaking.  If I should ask what ought to be each producer's
share of the social product, the first schoolboy whom I should
meet would answer, by a rule of commerce and association, that it
should be one-third.  But it is not our duty here to balance the
rights of laborers conventionally associated: we have to prove
that, whether associated or not, our three workers are obliged to
act as if they were; that, whether they will or no, they are
associated by the force of things, by mathematical necessity.

Three processes are required in the manufacture of shoes,--the
rearing of cattle, the preparation of their hides, and the
cutting and sewing.  If the hide, on leaving the farmer's stable,
is worth one, it is worth two on leaving the tanner's pit, and
three on leaving the shoemaker's shop.  Each laborer has produced
a portion of the utility; so that, by adding all these portions
together, we get the value of the article.  To obtain any
quantity whatever of this article, each producer must pay, then,
first for his own labor, and second for the labor of the other
producers.  Thus, to obtain as many shoes as can be made from ten
hides, the farmer will give thirty raw hides, and the tanner
twenty tanned hides.  For, the shoes that are made from ten hides
are worth thirty raw hides, in consequence of the extra labor
bestowed upon them; just as twenty tanned hides are worth thirty
raw hides, on account of the tanner's labor.  But if the
shoemaker demands thirty-three in the farmer's product, or
twenty-two in the tanner's, for ten in his own, there will be no
exchange; for, if there were, the farmer and the tanner, after
having paid the shoemaker ten for his labor, would have to pay
eleven for that which they had themselves sold for ten,--which,
of course, would be impossible.[1]

[1]  There is an error in the author's calculation here; but the
translator, feeling sure that the reader will understand
Proudhon's meaning, prefers not to alter his figures.--

Well, this is precisely what happens whenever an emolument of any
kind is received; be it called revenue, farm-rent, interest, or
profit.  In the little community of which we are speaking, if the
shoemaker--in order to procure tools, buy a stock of leather, and
support himself until he receives something from his investment--
borrows money at interest, it is clear that to pay this interest
he will have to make a profit off the tanner and the farmer.  But
as this profit is impossible unless fraud is used, the interest
will fall back upon the shoulders of the unfortunate shoemaker,
and ruin him.

I have imagined a case of unnatural simplicity.  There is no
human society but sustains more than three vocations.  The most
uncivilized society supports numerous industries; to-day, the
number of industrial functions (I mean by industrial functions
all useful functions) exceeds, perhaps, a thousand.  However
numerous the occupations, the economic law remains the same,--

_   _The economists cannot be ignorant of this rudimentary
principle of their pretended science: why, then, do they so
obstinately defend property, and inequality of wages, and
the legitimacy of usury, and the honesty of profit,--all of
which contradict the economic law, and make exchange impossible? 
A contractor pays one hundred thousand francs for raw material,
fifty thousand francs in wages, and then expects to receive a
product of two hundred thousand francs,--that is, expects to make
a profit on the material and on the labor of his employees; but
if the laborers and the purveyor of the material cannot, with
their combined wages, repurchase that which they have produced
for the contractor, how can they live?  I will develop my
question.  Here details become necessary.

If the workingman receives for his labor an average of three
francs per day, his employer (in order to gain any thing beyond
his own salary, if only interest on his capital) must sell the
day's labor of his employee, in the form of merchandise, for more
than three francs.  The workingman cannot, then, repurchase that
which he has produced for his master.  It is thus with all trades
whatsoever.  The tailor, the hatter, the cabinet-maker, the
blacksmith, the tanner, the mason, the jeweller, the printer, the
clerk, &c., even to the farmer and wine-grower, cannot repurchase
their products; since, producing for a master who in one form or
another makes a profit, they are obliged to pay more for their
own labor than they get for it.

In France, twenty millions of laborers, engaged in all the
branches of science, art, and industry, produce every thing which
is useful to man.  Their annual wages amount, it is estimated. 
to twenty thousand millions; but, in consequence of the right of
property, and the multifarious forms of increase, premiums,
tithes, interests, fines, profits, farm-rents, house-rents,
revenues, emoluments of every nature and description, their
products are estimated by the proprietors and employers at
twenty-five thousand millions.  What does that signify?  That the
laborers, who are obliged to repurchase these products in order
to live, must either pay five for that which they produced for
four, or fast one day in five.

If there is an economist in France able to show that this
calculation is false, I summon him to appear; and I promise to
retract all that I have wrongfully and wickedly uttered in my
attacks upon property.

Let us now look at the results of this profit.

If the wages of the workingmen were the same in all pursuits, the
deficit caused by the proprietor's tax would be felt equally
everywhere; but also the cause of the evil would be so apparent,
that it would soon be discovered and suppressed.  But, as there
is the same inequality of wages (from that of the scavenger up to
that of the minister of state) as of property, robbery
continually rebounds from the stronger to the weaker; so that,
since the laborer finds his hardships increase as he descends in
the social scale, the lowest class of people are literally
stripped naked and eaten alive by the others.

The laboring people can buy neither the cloth which they weave,
nor the furniture which they manufacture, nor the metal which
they forge, nor the jewels which they cut, nor the prints which
they engrave.  They can procure neither the wheat which they
plant, nor the wine which they grow, nor the flesh of the animals
which they raise.  They are allowed neither to dwell in the
houses which they build, nor to attend the plays which their
labor supports, nor to enjoy the rest which their body requires. 
And why?  Because the right of increase does not permit these
things to be sold at the cost-price, which is all that laborers
can afford to pay.  On the signs of those magnificent warehouses
which he in his poverty admires, the laborer reads in large
letters:  "This is thy work, and thou shalt not have it."  _Sic
vos non vobis_!

Every manufacturer who employs one thousand laborers, and gains
from them daily one sou each, is slowly pushing them into a state
of misery.  Every man who makes a profit has entered into a
conspiracy with famine.  But the whole nation has not even this
labor, by means of which property starves it.  And why?  Because
the workers are forced by the insufficiency of their wages to
monopolize labor; and because, before being destroyed by dearth,
they destroy each other by competition.  Let us pursue this truth
no further.

If the laborer's wages will not purchase his product, it follows
that the product is not made for the producer.  For whom, then,
is it intended?  For the richer consumer; that is, for only a
fraction of society.  But when the whole society labors, it
produces for the whole society.  If, then, only a part of society
consumes, sooner or later a part of society will be idle.  Now,
idleness is death, as well for the laborer as for the proprietor.

This conclusion is inevitable.

The most distressing spectacle imaginable is the sight of
producers resisting and struggling against this mathematical
necessity, this power of figures to which their prejudices blind

If one hundred thousand printers can furnish reading-matter
enough for thirty-four millions of men, and if the price of books
is so high that only one-third of that number can afford to buy
them, it is clear that these one hundred thousand printers will
produce three times as much as the booksellers can sell.  That
the products of the laborers may never exceed the demands of the
consumers, the laborers must either rest two days out of three,
or, separating into three groups, relieve each other three times
a week, month, or quarter; that is, during two-thirds of
their life they must not live.  But industry, under the influence
of property, does not proceed with such regularity.  It endeavors
to produce a great deal in a short time, because the greater the
amount of products, and the shorter the time of production, the
less each product costs.  As soon as a demand begins to be felt,
the factories fill up, and everybody goes to work.  Then business
is lively, and both governors and governed rejoice.  But the more
they work to-day, the more idle will they be hereafter; the more
they laugh, the more they shall weep.  Under the rule of
property, the flowers of industry are woven into none but funeral
wreaths.  The laborer digs his own grave.

If the factory stops running, the manufacturer has to pay
interest on his capital the same as before.  He naturally tries,
then, to continue production by lessening expenses.  Then comes
the lowering of wages; the introduction of machinery; the
employment of women and children to do the work of men; bad
workmen, and wretched work.  They still produce, because the
decreased cost creates a larger market; but they do not produce
long, because, the cheapness being due to the quantity and
rapidity of production, the productive power tends more than ever
to outstrip consumption.  It is when laborers, whose wages are
scarcely sufficient to support them from one day to another, are
thrown out of work, that the consequences of the principle of
property become most frightful.  They have not been able to
economize, they have made no savings, they have accumulated no
capital whatever to support them even one day more.  Today the
factory is closed.  To-morrow the people starve in the streets. 
Day after tomorrow they will either die in the hospital, or eat
in the jail.

And still new misfortunes come to complicate this terrible
situation.  In consequence of the cessation of business, and
the extreme cheapness of merchandise, the manufacturer finds it
impossible to pay the interest on his borrowed capital; whereupon
his frightened creditors hasten to withdraw their funds. 
Production is suspended, and labor comes to a standstill.  Then
people are astonished to see capital desert commerce, and throw
itself upon the Stock Exchange; and I once heard M. Blanqui
bitterly lamenting the blind ignorance of capitalists.  The cause
of this movement of capital is very simple; but for that very
reason an economist could not understand it, or rather must not
explain it.  The cause lies solely in COMPETITION.

I mean by competition, not only the rivalry between two parties
engaged in the same business, but the general and simultaneous
effort of all kinds of business to get ahead of each other.  This
effort is to-day so strong, that the price of merchandise
scarcely covers the cost of production and distribution; so that,
the wages of all laborers being lessened, nothing remains, not
even interest for the capitalists.

The primary cause of commercial and industrial stagnations is,
then, interest on capital,--that interest which the ancients with
one accord branded with the name of usury, whenever it was paid
for the use of money, but which they did not dare to condemn in
the forms of house-rent, farm-rent, or profit: as if the nature
of the thing lent could ever warrant a charge for the lending;
that is, robbery.

In proportion to the increase received by the capitalist will be
the frequency and intensity of commercial crises,--the first
being given, we always can determine the two others; and vice
versa.  Do you wish to know the regulator of a society? 
Ascertain the amount of active capital; that is, the capital
bearing interest, and the legal rate of this interest.  The
course of events will be a series of overturns, whose number and
violence will be proportional to the activity of capital.

In 1839, the number of failures in Paris alone was one thousand
and sixty-four.  This proportion was kept up in the early months
of 1840; and, as I write these lines, the crisis is not yet
ended.  It is said, further, that the number of houses which have
wound up their business is greater than the number of declared
failures.  By this flood, we may judge of the waterspout's power
of suction.

The decimation of society is now imperceptible and permanent, now
periodical and violent; it depends upon the course which property
takes.  In a country where the property is pretty evenly
distributed, and where little business is done,--the rights and
claims of each being balanced by those of others,--the power of
invasion is destroyed.  There--it may be truly said--property
does not exist, since the right of increase is scarcely exercised
at all.  The condition of the laborers--as regards security of
life--is almost the same as if absolute equality prevailed among
them.  They are deprived of all the advantages of full and free
association, but their existence is not endangered in the least. 
With the exception of a few isolated victims of the right of
property--of this misfortune whose primary cause no one
perceives--the society appears to rest calmly in the bosom of
this sort of equality.  But have a care; it is balanced on the
edge of a sword: at the slightest shock, it will fall and meet
with death!

Ordinarily, the whirlpool of property localizes itself.  On the
one hand, farm-rent stops at a certain point; on the other, in
consequence of competition and over-production, the price of
manufactured goods does not rise,--so that the condition of the
peasant varies but little, and depends mainly on the
seasons.  The devouring action of property bears, then,
principally upon business.  We commonly say COMMERCIAL CRISES,
not AGRICULTURAL CRISES; because, while the farmer is eaten up
slowly by the right of increase, the manufacturer is swallowed at
a single mouthful.  This leads to the cessation of business, the
destruction of fortunes, and the inactivity of the working
people; who die one after another on the highways, and in the
hospitals, prisons, and galleys.

To sum up this proposition:--

Property sells products to the laborer for more than it pays him
for them; therefore it is impossible.


I. Certain reformers, and even the most of the publicists--who,
though belonging to no particular school, busy themselves in
devising means for the amelioration of the lot of the poorer and
more numerous class--lay much stress now-a-days on a better
organization of labor.  The disciples of Fourier, especially,
never stop shouting, "ON TO THE PHALANX!" declaiming in the
same breath against the foolishness and absurdity of other sects.

They consist of half-a-dozen incomparable geniuses who have
REMAIN,--and who weep over the blindness of France, who refuses
to believe in this astonishing arithmetic.[1]

[1] Fourier, having to multiply a whole number by a fraction,
never failed, they say, to obtain a product much greater than the
multiplicand.  He affirmed that under his system of harmony the
mercury would solidify when the temperature was above zero.  He
might as well have said that the Harmonians would make burning
ice.  I once asked an intelligent phalansterian what he thought
of such physics.  "I do not know," he answered; "but I believe." 
And yet the same man disbelieved in the doctrine of the Real

In fact, the Fourierists proclaim themselves, on the one hand,
defenders of property, of the right of increase, which they have
AND HIS SKILL.  On the other hand, they wish the workingman to
come into the enjoyment of all the wealth of society; that is,--
abridging the expression,--into the undivided enjoyment of his
own product.  Is not this like saying to the workingman, "Labor,
you shall have three francs per day; you shall live on fifty-five
sous; you shall give the rest to the proprietor, and thus you
will consume three francs"?

If the above speech is not an exact epitome of Charles Fourier's
system, I will subscribe to the whole phalansterian folly with a
pen dipped in my own blood.

Of what use is it to reform industry and agriculture,--of what
use, indeed, to labor at all,--if property is maintained, and
labor can never meet its expenses?  Without the abolition of
property, the organization of labor is neither more nor less than
a delusion.  If production should be quadrupled,--a thing which
does not seem to me at all impossible,--it would be labor lost:
if the additional product was not consumed, it would be of no
value, and the proprietor would decline to receive it as
interest; if it was consumed, all the disadvantages of property
would reappear.  It must be confessed that the theory of
passional attraction is gravely at fault in this particular, and
that Fourier, when he tried to harmonize the PASSION for
property,--a bad passion, whatever he may say to the contrary,--
blocked his own chariot-wheels.

The absurdity of the phalansterian economy is so gross, that many
people suspect Fourier, in spite of all the homage paid by him to
proprietors, of having been a secret enemy of property.  This
opinion might be supported by plausible arguments; still it
is not mine.  Charlatanism was too important a part for such a
man to play, and sincerity too insignificant a one.  I would
rather think Fourier ignorant (which is generally admitted) than
disingenuous.  As for his disciples, before they can formulate
any opinion of their own, they must declare once for all,
unequivocally and with no mental reservation, whether they mean
to maintain property or not, and what they mean by their famous
motto,--"To each according to his capital, his labor, and his

II. But, some half-converted proprietor will observe, "Would it
not be possible, by suppressing the bank, incomes, farm-rent,
house-rent, usury of all kinds, and finally property itself, to
proportion products to capacities?  That was St. Simon's idea; it
was also Fourier's; it is the desire of the human conscience; and
no decent person would dare maintain that a minister of state
should live no better than a peasant."

O Midas! your ears are long!  What! will you never understand
that disparity of wages and the right of increase are one and the
same?  Certainly, St. Simon, Fourier, and their respective flocks
committed a serious blunder in attempting to unite, the one,
inequality and communism; the other, inequality and property: but
you, a man of figures, a man of economy,--you, who know by heart
your LOGARITHMIC tables,--how can you make so stupid a mistake?

Does not political economy itself teach you that the product of a
man, whatever be his individual capacity, is never worth more
than his labor, and that a man's labor is worth no more than his
consumption?  You remind me of that great constitution-framer,
poor Pinheiro-Ferreira, the Sieyes of the nineteenth century,
who, dividing the citizens of a nation into twelve classes,--or,
if you prefer, into twelve grades,--assigned to some a salary of
one hundred thousand francs each; to others, eighty
thousand; then twenty-five thousand, fifteen thousand, ten
thousand, &c., down to one thousand five hundred, and one
thousand francs, the minimum allowance of a citizen.  Pinheiro
loved distinctions, and could no more conceive of a State without
great dignitaries than of an army without drum-majors; and as he
also loved, or thought he loved, liberty, equality, and
fraternity, he combined the good and the evil of our old society
in an eclectic philosophy which he embodied in a constitution. 
Excellent Pinheiro!  Liberty even to passive submission,
fraternity even to identity of language, equality even in the
jury-box and at the guillotine,--such was his ideal republic. 
Unappreciated genius, of whom the present century was unworthy,
but whom the future will avenge!

Listen, proprietor.  Inequality of talent exists in fact; in
right it is not admissible, it goes for nothing, it is not
thought of.  One Newton in a century is equal to thirty millions
of men; the psychologist admires the rarity of so fine a genius,
the legislator sees only the rarity of the function.  Now, rarity
of function bestows no privilege upon the functionary; and that
for several reasons, all equally forcible.

1. Rarity of genius was not, in the Creator's design, a motive to
compel society to go down on its knees before the man of superior
talents, but a providential means for the performance of all
functions to the greatest advantage of all.

2. Talent is a creation of society rather than a gift of Nature;
it is an accumulated capital, of which the receiver is only the
guardian.  Without society,--without the education and powerful
assistance which it furnishes,--the finest nature would be
inferior to the most ordinary capacities in the very respect in
which it ought to shine.  The more extensive a man's knowledge,
the more luxuriant his imagination, the more versatile his
talent,--the more costly has his education been, the more
remarkable and numerous were his teachers and his models, and the
greater is his debt.  The farmer produces from the time that he
leaves his cradle until he enters his grave: the fruits of art
and science are late and scarce; frequently the tree dies before
the fruit ripens.  Society, in cultivating talent, makes a
sacrifice to hope.

3. Capacities have no common standard of comparison: the
conditions of development being equal, inequality of talent is
simply speciality of talent.

4. Inequality of wages, like the right of increase, is
economically impossible.  Take the most favorable case,--that
where each laborer has furnished his maximum production; that
there may be an equitable distribution of products, the share of
each must be equal to the quotient of the total production
divided by the number of laborers.  This done, what remains
wherewith to pay the higher wages?  Nothing whatever.

Will it be said that all laborers should be taxed?  But, then,
their consumption will not be equal to their production, their
wages will not pay for their productive service, they will not be
able to repurchase their product, and we shall once more be
afflicted with all the calamities of property.  I do not speak of
the injustice done to the defrauded laborer, of rivalry, of
excited ambition, and burning hatred,--these may all be important
considerations, but they do not hit the point.

On the one hand, each laborer's task being short and easy, and
the means for its successful accomplishment being equal in all
cases, how could there be large and small producers?  On the
other hand, all functions being equal, either on account of the
actual equivalence of talents and capacities, or on account
of social co-operation, how could a functionary claim a salary
proportional to the worth of his genius?

But, what do I say?  In equality wages are always proportional to
talents.  What is the economical meaning of wages?  The
reproductive consumption of the laborer.  The very act by which
the laborer produces constitutes, then, this consumption, exactly
equal to his production, of which we are speaking.  When the
astronomer produces observations, the poet verses, or the
savant experiments, they consume instruments, books, travels,
&c., &c.; now, if society supplies this consumption, what more
can the astronomer, the savant, or the poet demand?  We must
conclude, then, that in equality, and only in equality, St.
CAPACITY ACCORDING TO ITS RESULTS--finds its full and complete

III. The great evil--the horrible and ever-present evil--arising
from property, is that, while property exists, population,
however reduced, is, and always must be, over-abundant. 
Complaints have been made in all ages of the excess of
population; in all ages property has been embarrassed by the
presence of pauperism, not perceiving that it caused it. 
Further,--nothing is more curious than the diversity of the plans
proposed for its extermination.  Their atrocity is equalled only
by their absurdity.

The ancients made a practice of abandoning their children.  The
wholesale and retail slaughter of slaves, civil and foreign wars,
also lent their aid.  In Rome (where property held full sway),
these three means were employed so effectively, and for so long a
time, that finally the empire found itself without inhabitants. 
When the barbarians arrived, nobody was to be found; the fields
were no longer cultivated; grass grew in the streets of the
Italian cities.

In China, from time immemorial, upon famine alone has devolved
the task of sweeping away the poor.  The people living almost
exclusively upon rice, if an accident causes the crop to fail, in
a few days hunger kills the inhabitants by myriads; and the
Chinese historian records in the annals of the empire, that in
such a year of such an emperor twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred
thousand inhabitants died of starvation.  Then they bury the
dead, and recommence the production of children until another
famine leads to the same result.  Such appears to have been, in
all ages, the Confucian economy.

I borrow the following facts from a modern economist:--

"Since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, England has been
preyed upon by pauperism.  At that time beggars were punished by
law."  Nevertheless, she had not one-fourth as large a population
as she has to-day.

"Edward prohibits alms-giving, on pain of imprisonment. . . . 
The laws of 1547 and 1656 prescribe a like punishment, in case of
a second offence.  Elizabeth orders that each parish shall
support its own paupers.  But what is a pauper?  Charles II.
decides that an UNDISPUTED residence of forty days constitutes
a settlement in a parish; but, if disputed, the new-comer is
forced to pack off.  James II. modifies this decision, which is
again modified by William.  In the midst of trials, reports, and
modifications, pauperism increases, and the workingman languishes
and dies.

"The poor-tax in 1774 exceeded forty millions of francs; in 1783-
4-5, it averaged fifty-three millions; 1813, more than a hundred
and eighty-seven millions five hundred thousand francs; 1816, two
hundred and fifty millions; in 1817, it is estimated at three
hundred and seventeen millions.

"In 1821, the number of paupers enrolled upon the parish lists
was estimated at four millions, nearly one-third of the

"FRANCE.  In 1544, Francis I. establishes a compulsory tax in
behalf of the poor.  In 1566 and 1586, the same principle is
applied to the whole kingdom.

"Under Louis XIV., forty thousand paupers infested the capital
[as many in proportion as to-day].  Mendicity was punished
severely.  In 1740, the Parliament of Paris re-establishes within
its own jurisdiction the compulsory assessment.

"The Constituent Assembly, frightened at the extent of the evil
and the difficulty of curing it, ordains the _statu quo_.

"The Convention proclaims assistance of the poor to be a
NATIONAL DEBT.  Its law remains unexecuted.

"Napoleon also wishes to remedy the evil: his idea is
imprisonment.  `In that way,' said he, `I shall protect the rich
from the importunity of beggars, and shall relieve them of the
disgusting sight of abject poverty.'"  O wonderful man!

From these facts, which I might multiply still farther, two
things are to be inferred,--the one, that pauperism is
independent of population; the other, that all attempts hitherto
made at its extermination have proved abortive.

Catholicism founds hospitals and convents, and commands charity;
that is, she encourages mendicity.  That is the extent of her
insight as voiced by her priests.

The secular power of Christian nations now orders taxes on the
rich, now banishment and imprisonment for the poor; that is, on
the one hand, violation of the right of property, and, on the
other, civil death and murder.

The modern economists--thinking that pauperism is caused by the
excess of population, exclusively--have devoted themselves to
devising checks.  Some wish to prohibit the poor from marrying;
thus,--having denounced religious celibacy,--they propose
compulsory celibacy, which will inevitably become licentious

Others do not approve this method, which they deem too violent;
and which, they say, deprives the poor man of THE ONLY PLEASURE
WHICH HE KNOWS IN THIS WORLD.  They would simply recommend him
to be PRUDENT.  This opinion is held by Malthus, Sismondi, Say,
Droz, Duchatel, &c.  But if the poor are to be PRUDENT, the
rich must set the example.  Why should the marriageable age of
the latter be fixed at eighteen years, while that of the former
is postponed until thirty?

Again, they would do well to explain clearly what they mean by
this matrimonial prudence which they so urgently recommend to the
laborer; for here equivocation is especially dangerous, and I
suspect that the economists are not thoroughly understood.  "Some
half-enlightened ecclesiastics are alarmed when they hear
prudence in marriage advised; they fear that the divine
injunction--INCREASE AND MULTIPLY--is to be set aside.  To be
logical, they must anathematize bachelors."  (J. Droz: Political

M. Droz is too honest a man, and too little of a theologian, to
see why these casuists are so alarmed; and this chaste ignorance
is the very best evidence of the purity of his heart.  Religion
never has encouraged early marriages; and the kind of PRUDENCE
which it condemns is that described in this Latin sentence from
Sanchez,--_An licet ob metum liberorum semen extra vas ejicere_?

Destutt de Tracy seems to dislike prudence in either form.  He
says:  "I confess that I no more share the desire of the
moralists to diminish and restrain our pleasures, than that of
the politicians to increase our procreative powers, and
accelerate reproduction."  He believes, then, that we should love
and marry when and as we please.  Widespread misery results from
love and marriage, but this our philosopher does not heed.  True
to the dogma of the necessity of evil, to evil he looks for the
solution of all problems.  He adds:  "The multiplication of men
continuing in all classes of society, the surplus members of the
upper classes are supported by the lower classes, and those of
the latter are destroyed by poverty."  This philosophy has few
avowed partisans; but it has over every other the indisputable
advantage of demonstration in practice.  Not long since France
heard it advocated in the Chamber of Deputies, in the course of
the discussion on the electoral reform,--POVERTY WILL
ALWAYS EXIST.  That is the political aphorism with which the
minister of state ground to powder the arguments of M. Arago. 
POVERTY WILL ALWAYS EXIST!  Yes, so long as property does.

The Fourierists--INVENTORS of so many marvellous contrivances--
could not, in this field, belie their character.  They invented
four methods of checking increase of population at will.

1. THE VIGOR OF WOMEN.  On this point they are contradicted by
experience; for, although vigorous women may be less likely to
conceive, nevertheless they give birth to the healthiest
children; so that the advantage of maternity is on their side.

2. INTEGRAL EXERCISE, or the equal development of all the
physical powers.  If this development is equal, how is the power
of reproduction lessened?

3. THE GASTRONOMIC REGIME; or, in plain English, the philosophy
of the belly.  The Fourierists say, that abundance of rich food
renders women sterile; just as too much sap--while enhancing the
beauty of flowers--destroys their reproductive capacity.  But the
analogy is a false one.  Flowers become sterile when the
stamens--or male organs--are changed into petals, as may be seen
by inspecting a rose; and when through excessive dampness the
pollen loses its fertilizing power.  Then,--in order that the
gastronomic regime may produce the results claimed for it,--not
only must the females be fattened, but the males must be rendered

4. PHANEROGAMIC MORALITY, or public concubinage.  I know not
why the phalansterians use Greek words to convey ideas which can
be expressed so clearly in French.  This method--like the
preceding one--is copied from civilized customs.  Fourier,
himself, cites the example of prostitutes as a proof.  Now
we have no certain knowledge yet of the facts which he quotes. 
So states Parent Duchatelet in his work on "Prostitution."

From all the information which I have been able to gather, I find
that all the remedies for pauperism and fecundity-- sanctioned by
universal practice, philosophy, political economy, and the latest
reformers--may be summed up in the following list: masturbation,
onanism,[1] sodomy, tribadie, polyandry,[2] prostitution,
castration, continence, abortion, and infanticide.[3]

[1] _Hoc inter se differunt onanismus et manuspratio, nempe quod
haec a solitario exercetur, ille autem a duobus reciprocatur,
masculo scilicet  et faemina.  Porro foedam hanc onanismi venerem
ludentes uxoria mariti habent nunc omnigm suavissimam_

[2] Polyandry,--plurality of husbands.

[3] Infanticide has just been publicly advocated in England, in a
pamphlet written by a disciple of Malthus.  He proposes an
ANNUAL MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS in all families containing
more children than the law allows; and he asks that a magnificent
cemetery, adorned with statues, groves, fountains, and flowers,
be set apart as a special burying-place for the superfluous
children.  Mothers would resort to this delightful spot to dream
of the happiness of these little angels, and would return, quite
comforted, to give birth to others, to be buried in their turn.

All these methods being proved inadequate, there remains

Unfortunately, proscription, while decreasing the number of the
poor, increases their proportion.  If the interest charged by the
proprietor upon the product is equal only to one-twentieth of the
product (by law it is equal to one-twentieth of the capital), it
follows that twenty laborers produce for nineteen only; because
there is one among them, called proprietor, who eats the share of
two.  Suppose that the twentieth laborer--the poor one--is
killed: the production of the following year will be diminished
one-twentieth; consequently the nineteenth will have to yield his
portion, and perish.  For, since it is not one-twentieth of the
product of nineteen which must be paid to the proprietor, but
one-twentieth of the product of twenty (see third proposition),
each surviving laborer must sacrifice one-twentieth PLUS one
four-hundredth of his product; in other words, one man out of
nineteen must be killed.  Therefore, while property exists, the
more poor people we kill, the more there are born in proportion.

Malthus, who proved so clearly that population increases in
geometrical progression, while production increases only in
arithmetical progression, did not notice this PAUPERIZING power
of property.  Had he observed this, he would have understood
that, before trying to check reproduction, the right of increase
should be abolished; because, wherever that right is tolerated,
there are always too many inhabitants, whatever the extent or
fertility of the soil.

It will be asked, perhaps, how I would maintain a balance between
population and production; for sooner or later this problem must
be solved.  The reader will pardon me, if I do not give my method
here.  For, in my opinion, it is useless to say a thing unless we
prove it.  Now, to explain my method fully would require no less
than a formal treatise.  It is a thing so simple and so vast, so
common and so extraordinary, so true and so misunderstood, so
sacred and so profane, that to name it without developing and
proving it would serve only to excite contempt and incredulity. 
One thing at a time.  Let us establish equality, and this remedy
will soon appear; for truths follow each other, just as crimes
and errors do.


Property is impossible, because it is the Mother of Tyranny.

What is government?  Government is public economy, the supreme
administrative power over public works and national possessions.

Now, the nation is like a vast society in which all the, citizens
are stockholders.  Each one has a deliberative voice in the
assembly; and, if the shares are equal, has one vote at his
disposal.  But, under the regime of property, there is great
inequality between the shares of the stockholders; therefore, one
may have several hundred votes, while another has only one.  If,
for example, I enjoy an income of one million; that is, if I am
the proprietor of a fortune of thirty or forty millions well
invested, and if this fortune constitutes 1/30000 of the national
capital,--it is clear that the public administration of my
property would form 1/30000 of the duties of the government; and,
if the nation had a population of thirty-four millions, that I
should have as many votes as one thousand one hundred and thirty-
three simple stockholders.

Thus, when M. Arago demands the right of suffrage for all members
of the National Guard, he is perfectly right; since every citizen
is enrolled for at least one national share, which entitles him
to one vote.  But the illustrious orator ought at the same time
to demand that each elector shall have as many votes as he has
shares; as is the case in commercial associations.  For to do
otherwise is to pretend that the nation has a right to dispose of
the property of individuals without consulting them; which is
contrary to the right of property.  In a country where property
exists, equality of electoral rights is a violation of property.

Now, if each citizen's sovereignty must and ought to be
proportional to his property, it follows that the small stock
holders are at the mercy of the larger ones; who will, as soon as
they choose, make slaves of the former, marry them at pleasure,
take from them their wives, castrate their sons, prostitute their
daughters, throw the aged to the sharks,--and finally will be
forced to serve themselves in the same way, unless they prefer to
tax themselves for the support of their servants.  In such a
condition is Great Britain to-day.  John Bull--caring little for
liberty, equality, or dignity--prefers to serve and beg.  But
you, bonhomme Jacques?

Property is incompatible with political and civil equality; then
property is impossible.

HISTORICAL COMMENTS.--1. When the vote of the third estate was
doubled by the States-General of 1789, property was grossly
violated.  The nobility and the clergy possessed three-fourths of
the soil of France; they should have controlled three-fourths of
the votes in the national representation.  To double the vote of
the third estate was just, it is said, since the people paid
nearly all the taxes.  This argument would be sound, if there
were nothing to be voted upon but taxes.  But it was a question
at that time of reforming the government and the constitution;
consequently, the doubling of the vote of the third estate was a
usurpation, and an attack on property.

2. If the present representatives of the radical opposition
should come into power, they would work a reform by which every
National Guard should be an elector, and every elector eligible
for office,--an attack on property.

They would lower the rate of interest on public funds,--an attack
on property.

They would, in the interest of the public, pass laws to
regulate the exportation of cattle and wheat,--an attack on

They would alter the assessment of taxes,--an attack on property.

They would educate the people gratuitously,--a conspiracy against

They would organize labor; that is, they would guarantee labor to
the workingman, and give him a share in the profits,--the
abolition of property.

Now, these same radicals are zealous defenders of property,--a
radical proof that they know not what they do, nor what they

3. Since property is the grand cause of privilege and despotism,
the form of the republican oath should be changed.  Instead of,
"I swear hatred to royalty," henceforth the new member of a
secret society should say, "I swear hatred to property."


Property is impossible, because, in consuming its Receipts, it
loses them; in hoarding them, it nullifies them; and in
using them as Capital, it turns them against Production_.

I. If, with the economists, we consider the laborer as a living
machine, we must regard the wages paid to him as the amount
necessary to support this machine, and keep it in repair.  The
head of a manufacturing establishment--who employs laborers at
three, five, ten, and fifteen francs per day, and who charges
twenty francs for his superintendence--does not regard his
disbursements as losses, because he knows they will return to him
in the form of products.  Consequently, LABOR and REPRODUCTIVE
CONSUMPTION are identical.

What is the proprietor?  He is a machine which does not
work; or, which working for its own pleasure, and only when
it sees fit, produces nothing.

What is it to consume as a proprietor?  It is to consume without
working, to consume without reproducing.  For, once more, that
which the proprietor consumes as a laborer comes back to him; he
does not give his labor in exchange for his property, since, if
he did, he would thereby cease to be a proprietor.  In consuming
as a laborer, the proprietor gains, or at least does not lose,
since he recovers that which he consumes; in consuming as a
proprietor, he impoverishes himself.  To enjoy property, then, it
is necessary to destroy it; to be a real proprietor, one must
cease to be a proprietor.

The laborer who consumes his wages is a machine which destroys
and reproduces; the proprietor who consumes his income is a
bottomless gulf,--sand which we water, a stone which we sow.  So
true is this, that the proprietor--neither wishing nor knowing
how to produce, and perceiving that as fast as he uses his
property he destroys it for ever--has taken the precaution to
make some one produce in his place.  That is what political
economy, speaking in the name of eternal justice, calls
what ought to be called PRODUCING BY A SLAVE--PRODUCING AS A
THIEF AND AS A TYRANT.  He, the proprietor, produce! . . .  The
robber might say, as well:  "I produce."

The consumption of the proprietor has been styled luxury, in
opposition to USEFUL consumption.  From what has just been
said, we see that great luxury can prevail in a nation which is
not rich,--that poverty even increases with luxury, and vice
versa.  The economists (so much credit must be given them, at
least) have caused such a horror of luxury, that to-day a very
large number of proprietors--not to say almost all--ashamed
of their idleness--labor, economize, and capitalize.  They have
jumped from the frying-pan into the fire.

I cannot repeat it too often: the proprietor who thinks to
deserve his income by working, and who receives wages for his
labor, is a functionary who gets paid twice; that is the only
difference between an idle proprietor and a laboring proprietor. 
By his labor, the proprietor produces his wages only--not his
income.  And since his condition enables him to engage in the
most lucrative pursuits, it may be said that the proprietor's
labor harms society more than it helps it.  Whatever the
proprietor does, the consumption of his income is an actual loss,
which his salaried functions neither repair nor justify; and
which would annihilate property, were it not continually
replenished by outside production.

II. Then, the proprietor who consumes annihilates the product: he
does much worse if he lays it up.  The things which he lays by
pass into another world; nothing more is seen of them, not even
the _caput mortuum_,--the smoke.  If we had some means of
transportation by which to travel to the moon, and if the
proprietors should be seized with a sudden fancy to carry their
savings thither, at the end of a certain time our terraqueous
planet would be transported by them to its satellite!

The proprietor who lays up products will neither allow others to
enjoy them, nor enjoy them himself; for him there is neither
possession nor property.  Like the miser, he broods over his
treasures: he does not use them.  He may feast his eyes upon
them; he may lie down with them; he may sleep with them in his
arms: all very fine, but coins do not breed coins.  No real
property without enjoyment; no enjoyment without consumption; no
consumption without loss of property,--such is the inflexible
necessity to which God's judgment compels the proprietor to
bend.  A curse upon property !

III. The proprietor who, instead of consuming his income, uses it
as capital, turns it against production, and thereby makes it
impossible for him to exercise his right.  For the more he
increases the amount of interest to be paid upon it, the more he
is compelled to diminish wages.  Now, the more he diminishes
wages,--that is, the less he devotes to the maintenance and
repair of the machines,--the more he diminishes the quantity of
labor; and with the quantity of labor the quantity of product,
and with the quantity of product the very source of his income. 
This is clearly shown by the following example:--

Take an estate consisting of arable land, meadows, and vineyards,
containing the dwellings of the owner and the tenant; and worth,
together with the farming implements, one hundred thousand
francs, the rate of increase being three per cent.  If, instead
of consuming his revenue, the proprietor uses it, not in
enlarging but in beautifying his estate, can he annually demand
of his tenant an additional ninety francs on account of the three
thousand francs which he has thus added to his capital? 
Certainly not; for on such conditions the tenant, though
producing no more than before, would soon be obliged to labor for
nothing,--what do I say? to actually suffer loss in order to hold
his lease.

In fact, revenue can increase only as productive soil increases:
it is useless to build walls of marble, and work with plows of
gold.  But, since it is impossible to go on acquiring for ever,
to add estate to estate, to CONTINUE ONE'S POSSESSIONS, as the
Latins said; and since, moreover, the proprietor always has means
wherewith to capitalize,--it follows that the exercise of his
right finally becomes impossible.

Well, in spite of this impossibility, property capitalizes, and
in capitalizing increases its revenue; and, without stopping to
look at the particular cases which occur in commerce,
manufacturing operations, and banking, I will cite a graver
fact,-- one which directly affects all citizens.  I mean the
indefinite increase of the budget.

The taxes increase every year.  It would be difficult to tell in
which department of the government the expenses increase; for who
can boast of any knowledge as to the budget?  On this point, the
ablest financiers continually disagree.  What is to be thought, I
ask, of the science of government, when its professors cannot
understand one another's figures?  Whatever be the immediate
causes of this growth of the budget, it is certain that taxation
increases at a rate which causes everybody to despair.  Everybody
sees it, everybody acknowledges it; but nobody seems to
understand the primary cause.[1]  Now, I say that it cannot be
otherwise,--that it is necessary and inevitable.

[1]  "The financial situation of the English government was shown
up in the House of Lords during the session of January 23.  It is
not an encouraging one.  For several years the expenses have
exceeded the receipts, and the Minister has been able to re-
establish the balance only by loans renewed annually.  The
combined deficits of the years 1838 and 1839 amount to forty-
seven million five hundred thousand francs.  In 1840, the excess
of expenses over receipts is expected to be twenty-two million
five hundred thousand francs.  Attention was called to these
figures by Lord Ripon.  Lord Melbourne replied:  `The noble earl
unhappily was right in declaring that the public expenses
continually increase, and with him I must say that there is no
room for hope that they can be diminished or met in any way.'"--
National:  January 26, 1840.

A nation is the tenant of a rich proprietor called the
GOVERNMENT, to whom it pays, for the use of the soil, a farm-
rent called a tax.  Whenever the government makes war, loses or
gains a battle, changes the outfit of its army, erects a monu-
ment, digs a canal, opens a road, or builds a railway, it
borrows money, on which the tax-payers pay interest; that is, the
government, without adding to its productive capacity, increases
its active capital,--in a word, capitalizes after the manner of
the proprietor of whom I have just spoken.

Now, when a governmental loan is once contracted, and the
interest is once stipulated, the budget cannot be reduced.  For,
to accomplish that, either the capitalists must relinquish their
interest, which would involve an abandonment of property; or the
government must go into bankruptcy, which would be a fraudulent
denial of the political principle; or it must pay the debt, which
would require another loan; or it must reduce expenses, which is
impossible, since the loan was contracted for the sole reason
that the ordinary receipts were insufficient; or the money
expended by the government must be reproductive, which requires
an increase of productive capacity,--a condition excluded by our
hypothesis; or, finally, the tax-payers must submit to a new tax
in order to pay the debt,--an impossible thing.  For, if this new
tax were levied upon all citizens alike, half, or even more, of
the citizens would be unable to pay it; if the rich had to bear
the whole, it would be a forced contribution,--an invasion of
property.  Long financial experience has shown that the method of
loans, though exceedingly dangerous, is much surer, more
convenient, and less costly than any other method; consequently
the government borrows,--that is, goes on capitalizing,--and
increases the budget.

Then, a budget, instead of ever diminishing, must necessarily and
continually increase.  It is astonishing that the economists,
with all their learning, have failed to perceive a fact so simple
and so evident.  If they have perceived it, why have they
neglected to condemn it?

HISTORICAL COMMENT.--Much interest is felt at present in a
financial operation which is expected to result in a reduction of
the budget.  It is proposed to change the present rate of
increase, five per cent.  Laying aside the politico-legal
question to deal only with the financial question,--is it not
true that, when five per cent. is changed to four per cent., it
will then be necessary, for the same reasons, to change four to
three; then three to two, then two to one, and finally to sweep
away increase altogether?  But that would be the advent of
equality of conditions and the abolition of property.  Now it
seems to me, that an intelligent nation should voluntarily meet
an inevitable revolution half way, instead of suffering itself to
be dragged after the car of inflexible necessity.


Property is impossible, because its power of Accumulation is
infinite, and is exercised only over finite quantities.

If men, living in equality, should grant to one of their number
the exclusive right of property; and this sole proprietor should
lend one hundred francs to the human race at compound interest,
payable to his descendants twenty-four generations hence,--at the
end of six hundred years this sum of one hundred francs, at five
per cent., would amount to 107,854,010,777,600 francs; two
thousand six hundred and ninety-six and one-third times the
capital of France (supposing her capital to be 40,000,000,000),
or more than twenty times the value of the terrestrial globe!

Suppose that a man, in the reign of St. Louis, had borrowed one
hundred francs, and had refused,--he and his heirs after him,--to
return it.  Even though it were known that the said heirs were
not the rightful possessors, and that prescription had been
interrupted always at the right moment,--nevertheless, by our
laws, the last heir would be obliged to return the one hundred
francs with interest, and interest on the interest; which in all
would amount, as we have seen, to nearly one hundred and eight
thousand billions.

Every day, fortunes are growing in our midst much more rapidly
than this.  The preceding example supposed the interest equal to
one-twentieth of the capital,--it often equals one-tenth, one-
fifth, one-half of the capital; and sometimes the capital itself.

The Fourierists--irreconcilable enemies of equality, whose
partisans they regard as SHARKS--intend, by quadrupling
production, to satisfy all the demands of capital, labor, and
skill.  But, should production be multiplied by four, ten, or
even one hundred, property would soon absorb, by its power of
accumulation and the effects of its capitalization, both products
and capital, and the land, and even the laborers.  Is the
phalanstery to be prohibited from capitalizing and lending at
interest?  Let it explain, then, what it means by property.

I will carry these calculations no farther.  They are capable of
infinite variation, upon which it would be puerile for me to
insist.  I only ask by what standard judges, called upon to
decide a suit for possession, fix the interest?  And, developing
the question, I ask,--

Did the legislator, in introducing into the Republic the
principle of property, weigh all the consequences?  Did he know
the law of the possible?  If he knew it, why is it not in the
Code?  Why is so much latitude allowed to the proprietor in
accumulating property and charging interest,--to the judge in
recognizing and fixing the domain of property,--to the State in
its power to levy new taxes continually?  At what point is the
nation justified in repudiating the budget, the tenant his
farm-rent, and the manufacturer the interest on his capital?  How
far may the idler take advantage of the laborer?  Where does the
right of spoliation begin, and where does it end?  When may the
producer say to the proprietor, "I owe you nothing more"?  When
is property satisfied?  When must it cease to steal?

If the legislator did know the law of the possible, and
disregarded it, what must be thought of his justice?  If he did
not know it, what must be thought of his wisdom?  Either wicked
or foolish, how can we recognize his authority?

If our charters and our codes are based upon an absurd
hypothesis, what is taught in the law-schools?  What does a
judgment of the Court of Appeal amount to?  About what do our
Chambers deliberate?  What is POLITICS?  What is our definition
of a STATESMAN?  What is the meaning of JURISPRUDENCE? 
Should we not rather say JURISIGNORANCE?

If all our institutions are based upon an error in calculation,
does it not follow that these institutions are so many shams? 
And if the entire social structure is built upon this absolute
impossibility of property, is it not true that the government
under which we live is a chimera, and our present society a


Property is impossible, because it is powerless against

I. By the third corollary of our axiom, interest tells against
the proprietor as well as the stranger.  This economical
principle is universally admitted.  Nothing simpler at first
blush; yet, nothing more absurd, more contradictory in terms, or
more absolutely impossible.

The manufacturer, it is said, pays himself the rent on his house
and capital.  HE PAYS HIMSELF; that is, he gets paid by
the public who buy his products.  For, suppose the
manufacturer, who seems to make this profit on his property,
wishes also to make it on his merchandise, can he then pay
himself one franc for that which cost him ninety centimes, and
make money by the operation?  No: such a transaction would
transfer the merchant's money from his right hand to his left,
but without any profit whatever.

Now, that which is true of a single individual trading with
himself is true also of the whole business world.  Form a chain
of ten, fifteen, twenty producers; as many as you wish.  If the
producer A makes a profit out of the producer B.  B's loss must,
according to economical principles, be made up by C, C's by D;
and so on through to Z.

But by whom will Z be paid for the loss caused him by the profit
charged by A in the beginning?  BY THE CONSUMER, replies Say. 
Contemptible equivocation!  Is this consumer any other, then,
than A, B.  C, D, &c., or Z?  By whom will Z be paid?  If he is
paid by A, no one makes a profit; consequently, there is no
property.  If, on the contrary, Z bears the burden himself, he
ceases to be a member of society; since it refuses him the right
of property and profit, which it grants to the other associates.

Since, then, a nation, like universal humanity, is a vast
industrial association which cannot act outside of itself, it is
clear that no man can enrich himself without impoverishing
another.  For, in order that the right of property, the right of
increase, may be respected in the case of A, it must be denied to
Z; thus we see how equality of rights, separated from equality of
conditions, may be a truth.  The iniquity of political economy in
this respect is flagrant.  "When I, a manufacturer, purchase the
labor of a workingman, I do not include his wages in the net
product of my business; on the contrary, I deduct them.  But
the workingman includes them in his net product. . . .  "(Say: 
Political Economy.)

That means that all which the workingman gains is NET PRODUCT;
but that only that part of the manufacturer's gains is NET
PRODUCT, which remains after deducting his wages.  But why is
the right of profit confined to the manufacturer?  Why is this
right, which is at bottom the right of property itself, denied to
the workingman?  In the terms of economical science, the
workingman is capital.  Now, all capital, beyond the cost of its
maintenance and repair, must bear interest.  This the proprietor
takes care to get, both for his capital and for himself.  Why is
the workingman prohibited from charging a like interest for his
capital, which is himself?

Property, then, is inequality of rights; for, if it were not
inequality of rights, it would be equality of goods,--in other
words, it would not exist.  Now, the charter guarantees to all
equality of rights.  Then, by the charter, property is

II. Is A, the proprietor of an estate, entitled by the fact of
his proprietorship to take possession of the field belonging to
B. his neighbor?  "No," reply the proprietors; "but what has that
to do with the right of property?"  That I shall show you by a
series of similar propositions.

Has C, a hatter, the right to force D, his neighbor and also a
hatter, to close his shop, and cease his business?  Not the least
in the world.

But C wishes to make a profit of one franc on every hat, while D
is content with fifty centimes.  It is evident that D's
moderation is injurious to C's extravagant claims.  Has the
latter a right to prevent D from selling?  Certainly not.

Since D is at liberty to sell his hats fifty centimes cheaper
than C if he chooses, C in his turn is free to reduce his
price one franc.  Now, D is poor, while C is rich; so that at the
end of two or three years D is ruined by this intolerable
competition, and C has complete control of the market.  Can the
proprietor D get any redress from the proprietor C?  Can he bring
a suit against him to recover his business and property?  No; for
D could have done the same thing, had he been the richer of the

On the same ground, the large proprietor A may say to the small
proprietor B:  "Sell me your field, otherwise you shall not sell
your wheat,"--and that without doing him the least wrong, or
giving him ground for complaint.  So that A can devour B if he
likes, for the very reason that A is stronger than B. 
Consequently, it is not the right of property which enables A and
C to rob B and D, but the right of might.  By the right of
property, neither the two neighbors A and B, nor the two
merchants C and D, could harm each other.  They could neither
dispossess nor destroy one another, nor gain at one another's
expense.  The power of invasion lies in superior strength.

But it is superior strength also which enables the manufacturer
to reduce the wages of his employees, and the rich merchant and
well-stocked proprietor to sell their products for what they
please.  The manufacturer says to the laborer, "You are as free
to go elsewhere with your services as I am to receive them.  I
offer you so much."  The merchant says to the customer, "Take it
or leave it; you are master of your money, as I am of my goods. 
I want so much." Who will yield?  The weaker.

Therefore, without force, property is powerless against property,
since without force it has no power to increase; therefore,
without force, property is null and void.

HISTORICAL COMMENT.--The struggle between colonial and native
sugars furnishes us a striking example of this impossibility of
property.  Leave these two industries to themselves, and the
native manufacturer will be ruined by the colonist.  To maintain
the beet-root, the cane must be taxed: to protect the property of
the one, it is necessary to injure the property of the other. 
The most remarkable feature of this business is precisely that to
which the least attention is paid; namely, that, in one way or
another, property has to be violated.  Impose on each industry a
proportional tax, so as to preserve a balance in the market, and
you create a MAXIMUM PRICE,--you attack property in two ways. 
On the one hand, your tax interferes with the liberty of trade;
on the other, it does not recognize equality of proprietors. 
Indemnify the beet-root, you violate the property of the tax-
payer.  Cultivate the two varieties of sugar at the nation's
expense, just as different varieties of tobacco are cultivated,--
you abolish one species of property.  This last course would be
the simpler and better one; but, to induce the nations to adopt
it, requires such a co-operation of able minds and generous
hearts as is at present out of the question.

Competition, sometimes called liberty of trade,--in a word,
property in exchange,--will be for a long time the basis of our
commercial legislation; which, from the economical point of view,
embraces all civil laws and all government.  Now, what is
competition?  A duel in a closed field, where arms are the test
of right.

"Who is the liar,--the accused or the accuser?" said our
barbarous ancestors.  "Let them fight it out," replied the still
more barbarous judge; "the stronger is right."

Which of us two shall sell spices to our neighbor?  "Let each
offer them for sale," cries the economist; "the sharper, or
the more cunning, is the more honest man, and the better

Such is the exact spirit of the Code Napoleon.


Property is impossible, because it is the Negation of equality.

The development of this proposition will be the resume of the
preceding ones.

1. It is a principle of economical justice, that PRODUCTS ARE
BOUGHT ONLY BY PRODUCTS.  Property, being capable of defence
only on the ground that it produces utility, is, since it
produces nothing, for ever condemned.

2. It is an economical law, that LABOR MUST BE BALANCED BY
PRODUCT.  It is a fact that, with property, production costs
more than it is worth.

3. Another economical law:  THE CAPITAL BEING GIVEN, PRODUCTION
CAPACITY.  Property, requiring income to be always proportional
to capital without regard to labor, does not recognize this
relation of equality between effect and cause.

4 and 5. Like the insect which spins its silk, the laborer never
produces for himself alone.  Property, demanding a double product
and unable to obtain it, robs the laborer, and kills him.

6. Nature has given to every man but one mind, one heart, one
will.  Property, granting to one individual a plurality of votes,
supposes him to have a plurality of minds.

7. All consumption which is not reproductive of utility is
destruction.  Property, whether it consumes or hoards or
capitalizes, is productive of INUTILITY,--the cause of
sterility and death.

8. The satisfaction of a natural right always gives rise to an
equation; in other words, the right to a thing is necessarily
balanced by the possession of the thing.  Thus, between the right
to liberty and the condition of a free man there is a balance, an
equation; between the right to be a father and paternity, an
equation; between the right to security and the social guarantee,
an equation.  But between the right of increase and the receipt
of this increase there is never an equation; for every new
increase carries with it the right to another, the latter to a
third, and so on for ever.  Property, never being able to
accomplish its object, is a right against Nature and against

9. Finally, property is not self-existent.  An extraneous cause--
either FORCE or FRAUD--is necessary to its life and action. 
In other words, property is not equal to property: it is a
negation--a delusion--NOTHING.



Property is impossible; equality does not exist.  We hate the
former, and yet wish to possess it; the latter rules all our
thoughts, yet we know not how to reach it.  Who will explain this
profound antagonism between our conscience and our will?  Who
will point out the causes of this pernicious error, which has
become the most sacred principle of justice and society?

I am bold enough to undertake the task, and I hope to succeed.

But before explaining why man has violated justice, it is
necessary to determine what justice is.


% 1.--Of the Moral Sense in Man and the Animals.

The philosophers have endeavored often to locate the line which
separates man's intelligence from that of the brutes; and,
according to their general custom, they gave utterance to much
foolishness before resolving upon the only course possible for
them to take,--observation.  It was reserved for an
unpretending savant--who perhaps did not pride himself on his
philosophy--to put an end to the interminable controversy by a
simple distinction; but one of those luminous distinctions which
are worth more than systems.  Frederic Cuvier separated

But, as yet, no one has proposed this question:--


If, hitherto, any one had dared to maintain the latter
alternative, his arguments would have seemed scandalous,
blasphemous, and offensive to morality and religion.  The
ecclesiastical and secular tribunals would have condemned him
with one voice.  And, mark the style in which they would have
branded the immoral paradox!  "Conscience,"--they would have
cried,--"conscience, man's chief glory, was given to him
exclusively; the notion of justice and injustice, of merit and
demerit, is his noble privilege; to man, alone,--the lord of
creation,--belongs the sublime power to resist his worldly
propensities, to choose between good and evil, and to bring
himself more and more into the resemblance of God through liberty
and justice. . . .  No; the holy image of virtue was never graven
save on the heart of man."  Words full of feeling, but void of

Man is a rational and social animal--{GREEK  ` c g}--said
Aristotle.  This definition is worth more than all
which have been given since.  I do not except even M. de Bonald's
celebrated definition,--MAN IS AN INTELLECT SERVED BY ORGANS--a
definition which has the double fault of explaining the known by
the unknown; that is, the living being by the intellect; and of
neglecting man's essential quality,--animality.

Man, then, is an animal living in society.  Society means
the sum total of relationships; in short, system.  Now, all
systems exist only on certain conditions.  What, then, are the
conditions, the LAWS, of human society?

What are the RIGHTS of men with respect to each other; what is

It amounts to nothing to say,--with the philosophers of various
schools,--"It is a divine instinct, an immortal and heavenly
voice, a guide given us by Nature, a light revealed unto every
man on coming into the world, a law engraved upon our hearts; it
is the voice of conscience, the dictum of reason, the
inspiration of sentiment, the penchant of feeling; it is the
love of self in others; it is enlightened self-interest; or else
it is an innate idea, the imperative command of applied reason,
which has its source in the concepts of pure reason; it is a
passional attraction," &c., &c.  This may be as true as it seems
beautiful; but it is utterly meaningless.  Though we should
prolong this litany through ten pages (it has been filtered
through a thousand volumes), we should be no nearer to the
solution of the question.

"Justice is public utility," says Aristotle.  That is true, but
it is a tautology.  "The principle that the public welfare ought
to be the object of the legislator"--says M. Ch. Comte in his
"Treatise on Legislation"--"cannot be overthrown.  But
legislation is advanced no farther by its announcement and
demonstration, than is medicine when it is said that it is the
business of physicians to cure the sick."

Let us take another course.  RUGHT is the sum total of the
principles which govern society.  Justice, in man, is the respect
and observation of those principles.  To practise justice is to
obey the social instinct; to do an act of justice is to do a
social act.  If, then, we watch the conduct of men towards each
other under different circumstances, it will be easy for us
to distinguish between the presence and absence of society; from
the result we may inductively infer the law.

Let us commence with the simplest and least doubtful cases.

The mother, who protects her son at the peril of her life, and
sacrifices every thing to his support, is in society with him--
she is a good mother.  She, on the contrary, who abandons her
child, is unfaithful to the social instinct,--maternal love being
one of its many features; she is an unnatural mother.

If I plunge into the water to rescue a drowning man, I am his
brother, his associate; if, instead of aiding him, I sink him, I
am his enemy, his murderer.

Whoever bestows alms treats the poor man as his associate; not
thoroughly, it is true, but only in respect to the amount which
he shares with him.  Whoever takes by force or stratagem that
which is not the product of his labor, destroys his social
character--he is a brigand.

The Samaritan who relieves the traveller lying by the wayside,
dresses his wounds, comforts him, and supplies him with money,
thereby declares himself his associate--his neighbor; the priest,
who passes by on the other side, remains unassociated, and is his

In all these cases, man is moved by an internal attraction
towards his fellow, by a secret sympathy which causes him to
love, congratulate, and condole; so that, to resist this
attraction, his will must struggle against his nature.

But in these respects there is no decided difference between man
and the animals.  With them, as long as the weakness of their
young endears them to their mothers,--in a word, associates them
with their mothers,--the latter protect the former, at the peril
of their lives, with a courage which reminds us of our
heroes dying for their country.  Certain species unite for
hunting purposes, seek each other, call each other (a poet would
say invite each other), to share their prey; in danger they aid,
protect, and warn each other.  The elephant knows how to help his
companion out of the ditch into which the latter has fallen. 
Cows form a circle, with their horns outward and their calves in
the centre, in order to repel the attacks of wolves.  Horses and
pigs, on hearing a cry of distress from one of their number, rush
to the spot whence it comes.  What descriptions I might give of
their marriages, the tenderness of the males towards the females,
and the fidelity of their loves!  Let us add, however,--to be
entirely just--that these touching demonstrations of society,
fraternity, and love of neighbor, do not prevent the animals from
quarrelling, fighting, and outrageously abusing one another while
gaining their livelihood and showing their gallantry; the
resemblance between them and ourselves is perfect.

The social instinct, in man and beast, exists to a greater or
less degree--its nature is the same.  Man has the greater need of
association, and employs it more; the animal seems better able to
endure isolation.  In man, social needs are more imperative and
complex; in the beast, they seem less intense, less diversified,
less regretted.  Society, in a word, aims, in the case of man, at
the preservation of the race and the individual; with the
animals, its object is more exclusively the preservation of the

As yet, we have met with no claim which man can make for himself
alone.  The social instinct and the moral sense he shares with
the brutes; and when he thinks to become god-like by a few acts
of charity, justice, and devotion, he does not perceive that in
so acting he simply obeys an instinct wholly animal in its
nature.  As we are good, loving, tender, just, so we are
passionate, greedy, lewd, and vindictive; that is, we are like
the beasts.  Our highest virtues appear, in the last analysis, as
blind, impulsive instincts.  What subjects for canonization and

There is, however, a difference between us two-handed bipeds and
other living creatures--what is it?

A student of philosophy would hasten to reply:  "This difference
lies in the fact that we are conscious of our social faculty,
while the animals are unconscious of theirs--in the fact that
while we reflect and reason upon the operation of our social
instinct, the animals do nothing of the kind."

I will go farther.  It is by our reflective and reasoning powers,
with which we seem to be exclusively endowed, that we know that
it is injurious, first to others and then to ourselves, to resist
the social instinct which governs us, and which we call
JUSTICE.  It is our reason which teaches us that the selfish
man, the robber, the murderer--in a word, the traitor to
society--sins against Nature, and is guilty with respect to
others and himself, when he does wrong wilfully.  Finally, it is
our social sentiment on the one hand, and our reason on the
other, which cause us to think that beings such as we should take
the responsibility of their acts.  Such is the principle of
remorse, revenge, and penal justice.

But this proves only an intellectual diversity between the
animals and man, not at all an affectional one; for, although we
reason upon our relations with our fellows, we likewise reason
upon our most trivial actions,--such as drinking, eating,
choosing a wife, or selecting a dwelling-place.  We reason upon
things earthly and things heavenly; there is nothing to which our
reasoning powers are not applicable.  Now, just as the knowledge
of external phenomena, which we acquire, has no influence upon
their causes and laws, so reflection, by illuminating our
instinct, enlightens us as to our sentient nature, but does not
alter its character; it tells us what our morality is, but
neither changes nor modifies it.  Our dissatisfaction with
ourselves after doing wrong, the indignation which we feel at the
sight of injustice, the idea of deserved punishment and due
remuneration, are effects of reflection, and not immediate
effects of instinct and emotion.  Our appreciation (I do not say
exclusive appreciation, for the animals also realize that they
have done wrong, and are indignant when one of their number is
attacked, but), our infinitely superior appreciation of our
social duties, our knowledge of good and evil, does not
establish, as regards morality, any vital difference between man
and the beasts.

% 2.--Of the first and second degrees of Sociability.

I insist upon the fact, which I have just pointed out, as one of
the most important facts of anthropology.

The sympathetic attraction, which causes us to associate, is, by
reason of its blind, unruly nature, always governed by temporary
impulse, without regard to higher rights, and without distinction
of merit or priority.  The bastard dog follows indifferently all
who call it; the suckling child regards every man as its father
and every woman as its nurse; every living creature, when
deprived of the society of animals of its species, seeks
companionship in its solitude.  This fundamental characteristic
of the social instinct renders intolerable and even hateful the
friendship of frivolous persons, liable to be infatuated with
every new face, accommodating to all whether good or bad, and
ready to sacrifice, for a passing liaison, the oldest and most
honorable affections.  The fault of such beings is not in the
heart--it is in the judgment.  Sociability, in this degree, is a
sort of magnetism awakened in us by the contemplation of a
being similar to ourselves, but which never goes beyond the
person who feels it; it may be reciprocated, but not
communicated.  Love, benevolence, pity, sympathy, call it what
you will, there is nothing in it which deserves esteem,--nothing
which lifts man above the beast.

The second degree of sociability is justice, which may be defined
AND OUR OWN.  The sentiment of justice we share with the
animals; we alone can form an exact idea of it; but our idea, as
has been said already, does not change its nature.  We shall soon
see how man rises to a third degree of sociability which the
animals are incapable of reaching.  But I must first prove by
metaphysics that SOCIETY, JUSTICE, and EQUALITY, are three
equivalent terms,--three expressions meaning the same thing,--
whose mutual conversion is always allowable.

If, amid the confusion of a shipwreck, having escaped in a boat
with some provisions, I see a man struggling with the waves, am I
bound to go to his assistance?  Yes, I am bound under penalty of
being adjudged guilty of murder and treason against society.

But am I also bound to share with him my provisions?

To settle this question, we must change the phraseology.  If
society is binding on the boat, is it also binding on the
provisions?  Undoubtedly.  The duty of an associate is absolute. 
Man's occupancy succeeds his social nature, and is subordinate to
it; possession can become exclusive only when permission to
occupy is granted to all alike.  That which in this instance
obscures our duty is our power of foresight, which, causing us to
fear an eventual danger, impels us to usurpation, and makes us
robbers and murderers.  Animals do not calculate the duty of
instinct any more than the disadvantages resulting to those who
exercise it; it would be strange if the intellect of man--
the most sociable of animals--should lead him to disobey the law.

He betrays society who attempts to use it only for his own
advantage; better that God should deprive us of prudence, if it
is to serve as the tool of our selfishness.

"What!" you will say, "must I share my bread, the bread which I
have earned and which belongs to me, with the stranger whom I do
not know; whom I may never see again, and who, perhaps, will
reward me with ingratitude?  If we had earned this bread
together, if this man had done something to obtain it, he might
demand his share, since his co-operation would entitle him to it;
but as it is, what claim has he on me?  We have not produced
together--we shall not eat together."

The fallacy in this argument lies in the false supposition, that
each producer is not necessarily associated with every other

When two or more individuals have regularly organized a
society,--when the contracts have been agreed upon, drafted, and
signed,--there is no difficulty about the future.  Everybody
knows that when two men associate--for instance--in order to
fish, if one of them catches no fish, he is none the less
entitled to those caught by his associate.  If two merchants form
a partnership, while the partnership lasts, the profits and
losses are divided between them; since each produces, not for
himself, but for the society: when the time of distribution
arrives, it is not the producer who is considered, but the
associate.  That is why the slave, to whom the planter gives
straw and rice; and the civilized laborer, to whom the capitalist
pays a salary which is always too small,--not being associated
with their employers, although producing with them,--are
disregarded when the product is divided.  Thus, the horse
who draws our coaches, and the ox who draws our carts produce
with us, but are not associated with us; we take their product,
but do not share it with them.  The animals and laborers whom we
employ hold the same relation to us.  Whatever we do for them, we
do, not from a sense of justice, but out of pure benevolence.[1]

[1] To perform an act of benevolence towards one's neighbor is
called, in Hebrew, to do justice; in Greek, to take
compassion or pity ({GREEK n n f e  },from which is derived
the French _aumone_); in Latin, to perform an act of love or
charity; in French, give alms.  We can trace the degradation
of this principle through these various expressions: the first
signifies duty; the second only sympathy; the third, affection, a
matter of choice, not an obligation; the fourth, caprice.

But is it possible that we are not all associated?  Let us call
to mind what was said in the last two chapters, That even though
we do not want to be associated, the force of things, the
necessity of consumption, the laws of production, and the
mathematical principle of exchange combine to associate us. 
There is but a single exception to this rule,--that of the
proprietor, who, producing by his right of increase, is not
associated with any one, and consequently is not obliged to share
his product with any one; just as no one else is bound to share
with him.  With the exception of the proprietor, we labor for
each other; we can do nothing by ourselves unaided by others, and
we continually exchange products and services with each other. 
If these are not social acts, what are they?

Now, neither a commercial, nor an industrial, nor an agricultural
association can be conceived of in the absence of equality;
equality is its sine qua non.  So that, in all matters which
concern this association, to violate society is to violate
justice and equality.  Apply this principle to humanity at large.

After what has been said, I assume that the reader
has sufficient insight to enable him to dispense with any
aid of mine.

By this principle, the man who takes possession of a field, and
says, "This field is mine," will not be unjust so long as every
one else has an equal right of possession; nor will he be unjust,
if, wishing to change his location, he exchanges this field for
an equivalent.  But if, putting another in his place, he says to
him, "Work for me while I rest," he then becomes unjust,
unassociated, UNEQUAL.  He is a proprietor.

Reciprocally, the sluggard, or the rake, who, without performing
any social task, enjoys like others--and often more than others--
the products of society, should be proceeded against as a thief
and a parasite.  We owe it to ourselves to give him nothing; but,
since he must live, to put him under supervision, and compel him
to labor.

Sociability is the attraction felt by sentient beings for each
other.  Justice is this same attraction, accompanied by thought
and knowledge.  But under what general concept, in what category
of the understanding, is justice placed?  In the category of
equal quantities.  Hence, the ancient definition of justice--
_Justum aequale est, injustum inaequale_.  What is it, then, to
practise justice?  It is to give equal wealth to each, on
condition of equal labor.  It is to act socially.  Our
selfishness may complain; there is no escape from evidence and

What is the right of occupancy?  It is a natural method of
dividing the earth, by reducing each laborer's share as fast as
new laborers present themselves.  This right disappears if the
public interest requires it; which, being the social interest, is
also that of the occupant.

What is the right of labor?  It is the right to obtain one's
share of wealth by fulfilling the required conditions.  It
is the right of society, the right of equality.

Justice, which is the product of the combination of an idea and
an instinct, manifests itself in man as soon as he is capable of
feeling, and of forming ideas.  Consequently, it has been
regarded as an innate and original sentiment; but this opinion is
logically and chronologically false.  But justice, by its
composition hybrid--if I may use the term,--justice, born of
emotion and intellect combined, seems to me one of the strongest
proofs of the unity and simplicity of the ego; the organism
being no more capable of producing such a mixture by itself, than
are the combined senses of hearing and sight of forming a binary
sense, half auditory and half visual.

This double nature of justice gives us the definitive basis of
all the demonstrations in Chapters II., III., and IV.  On the one
hand, the idea of JUSTICE being identical with that of society,
and society necessarily implying equality, equality must underlie
all the sophisms invented in defence of property; for, since
property can be defended only as a just and social institution,
and property being inequality, in order to prove that property is
in harmony with society, it must be shown that injustice is
justice, and that inequality is equality,--a contradiction in
terms.  On the other hand, since the idea of equality--the second
element of justice--has its source in the mathematical
proportions of things; and since property, or the unequal
distribution of wealth among laborers, destroys the necessary
balance between labor, production, and consumption,--property
must be impossible.

All men, then, are associated; all are entitled to the same
justice; all are equal.  Does it follow that the preferences of
love and friendship are unjust?

This requires explanation.  I have already supposed the case of a
man in peril, I being in a position to help him.  Now, I suppose
myself appealed to at the same time by two men exposed to danger.

Am I not allowed--am I not commanded even--to rush first to the
aid of him who is endeared to me by ties of blood, friendship,
acquaintance, or esteem, at the risk of leaving the other to
perish?  Yes.  And why?  Because within universal society there
exist for each of us as many special societies as there are
individuals; and we are bound, by the principle of sociability
itself, to fulfil the obligations which these impose upon us,
according to the intimacy of our relations with them.  Therefore
we must give our father, mother, children, friends, relatives,
&c., the preference over all others.  But in what consists this

A judge has a case to decide, in which one of the parties is his
friend, and the other his enemy.  Should he, in this instance,
decide the case in favor of his friend, in spite of evidence to
the contrary?  No: for, if he should favor his friend's
injustice, he would become his accomplice in his violation of the
social compact; he would form with him a sort of conspiracy
against the social body.  Preference should be shown only in
personal matters, such as love, esteem, confidence, or intimacy,
when all cannot be considered at once.  Thus, in case of fire, a
father would save his own child before thinking of his
neighbor's; but the recognition of a right not being an optional
matter with a judge, he is not at liberty to favor one person to
the detriment of another.

The theory of these special societies--which are formed
concentrically, so to speak, by each of us inside of the main
body--gives the key to all the problems which arise from the
opposition and conflict of the different varieties of social
duty,--problems upon which the ancient tragedies are based.

The justice practised among animals is, in a certain degree,
negative.  With the exception of protecting their young, hunting
and plundering in troops, uniting for common defence and
sometimes for individual assistance, it consists more in
prevention than in action.  A sick animal who cannot arise from
the ground, or an imprudent one who has fallen over a precipice,
receives neither medicine nor nourishment.  If he cannot cure
himself, nor relieve himself of his trouble, his life is in
danger: he will neither be cared for in bed, nor fed in a prison.

Their neglect of their fellows arises as much from the weakness
of their intellect as from their lack of resources.  Still, the
degrees of intimacy common among men are not unknown to the
animals.  They have friendships of habit and of choice;
friendships neighborly, and friendships parental.  In comparison
with us, they have feeble memories, sluggish feelings, and are
almost destitute of intelligence; but the identity of these
faculties is preserved to some extent, and our superiority in
this respect arises entirely from our understanding.

It is our strength of memory and penetration of judgment which
enable us to multiply and combine the acts which our social
instinct impels us to perform, and which teaches us how to render
them more effective, and how to distribute them justly.  The
beasts who live in society practise justice, but are ignorant of
its nature, and do not reason upon it; they obey their instinct
without thought or philosophy.  They know not how to unite the
social sentiment with the idea of equality, which they do not
possess; this idea being an abstract one.  We, on the contrary,
starting with the principle that society implies equality, can,
by our reasoning faculty, understand and agree with each
other in settling our rights; we have even used our judgment to a
great extent.  But in all this our conscience plays a small part,
as is proved by the fact that the idea of RIGHT--of which we
catch a glimpse in certain animals who approach nearer than any
others to our standard of intelligence--seems to grow, from the
low level at which it stands in savages, to the lofty height
which it reaches in a Plato or a Franklin.  If we trace the
development of the moral sense in individuals, and the progress
of laws in nations, we shall be convinced that the ideas of
justice and legislative perfection are always proportional to
intelligence.  The notion of justice--which has been regarded by
some philosophers as simple--is then, in reality, complex.  It
springs from the social instinct on the one hand, and the idea of
equality on the other; just as the notion of guilt arises from
the feeling that justice has been violated, and from the idea of

In conclusion, instinct is not modified by acquaintance with its
nature; and the facts of society, which we have thus far
observed, occur among beasts as well as men.  We know the meaning
of justice; in other words, of sociability viewed from the
standpoint of equality.  We have met with nothing which separates
us from the animals.

% 3.--Of the third degree of Sociability.

The reader, perhaps, has not forgotten what was said in the third
chapter concerning the division of labor and the speciality of
talents.  The sum total of the talents and capacities of the race
is always the same, and their nature is always similar.  We are
all born poets, mathematicians, philosophers, artists, artisans,
or farmers, but we are not born equally endowed; and between one
man and another in society, or between one faculty and
another in the same individual, there is an infinite difference. 
This difference of degree in the same faculties, this
predominance of talent in certain directions, is, we have said,
the very foundation of our society.  Intelligence and natural
genius have been distributed by Nature so economically, and yet
so liberally, that in society there is no danger of either a
surplus or a scarcity of special talents; and that each laborer,
by devoting himself to his function, may always attain to the
degree of proficiency necessary to enable him to benefit by the
labors and discoveries of his fellows.  Owing to this simple and
wise precaution of Nature, the laborer is not isolated by his
task.  He communicates with his fellows through the mind, before
he is united with them in heart; so that with him love is born of

It is not so with societies of animals.  In every species, the
aptitudes of all the individuals--though very limited--are equal
in number and (when they are not the result of instinct) in
intensity.  Each one does as well as all the others what all the
others do; provides his food, avoids the enemy, burrows in the
earth, builds a nest, &c.  No animal, when free and healthy,
expects or requires the aid of his neighbor; who, in his turn, is
equally independent.

Associated animals live side by side without any intellectual
intercourse or intimate communication,--all doing the same
things, having nothing to learn or to remember; they see, feel,
and come in contact with each other, but never penetrate each
other.  Man continually exchanges with man ideas and feelings,
products and services.  Every discovery and act in society is
necessary to him.  But of this immense quantity of products and
ideas, that which each one has to produce and acquire for himself
is but an atom in the sun.  Man would not be man were it not
for society, and society is supported by the balance and harmony
of the powers which compose it.

Society, among the animals, is SIMPLE; with man it is
COMPLEX.  Man is associated with man by the same instinct which
associates animal with animal; but man is associated differently
from the animal, and it is this difference in association which
constitutes the difference in morality.

I have proved,--at too great length, perhaps,--both by the spirit
of the laws which regard property as the basis of society, and by
political economy, that inequality of conditions is justified
neither by priority of occupation nor superiority of talent,
service, industry, and capacity.  But, although equality of
conditions is a necessary consequence of natural right, of
liberty, of the laws of production, of the capacity of physical
nature, and of the principle of society itself,--it does not
prevent the social sentiment from stepping over the boundaries of
DEBT and CREDIT.  The fields of benevolence and love extend
far beyond; and when economy has adjusted its balance, the mind
begins to benefit by its own justice, and the heart expands in
the boundlessness of its affection.

The social sentiment then takes on a new character, which varies
with different persons.  In the strong, it becomes the pleasure
of generosity; among equals, frank and cordial friendship; in the
weak, the pleasure of admiration and gratitude.

The man who is superior in strength, skill, or courage, knows
that he owes all that he is to society, without which he could
not exist.  He knows that, in treating him precisely as it does
the lowest of its members, society discharges its whole duty
towards him.  But he does not underrate his faculties; he is no
less conscious of his power and greatness; and it is this
voluntary reverence which he pays to humanity, this avowal that
he is but an instrument of Nature,--who is alone worthy of glory
and worship,--it is, I say, this simultaneous confession of the
heart and the mind, this genuine adoration of the Great Being,
that distinguishes and elevates man, and lifts him to a degree of
social morality to which the beast is powerless to attain. 
Hercules destroying the monsters and punishing brigands for the
safety of Greece, Orpheus teaching the rough and wild
Pelasgians,--neither of them putting a price upon their
services,--there we see the noblest creations of poetry, the
loftiest expression of justice and virtue.

The joys of self-sacrifice are ineffable.

If I were to compare human society to the old Greek tragedies, I
should say that the phalanx of noble minds and lofty souls dances
the strophe, and the humble multitude the antistrophe. 
Burdened with painful and disagreeable tasks, but rendered
omnipotent by their number and the harmonic arrangement of their
functions, the latter execute what the others plan.  Guided by
them, they owe them nothing; they honor them, however, and lavish
upon them praise and approbation.

Gratitude fills people with adoration and enthusiasm.

But equality delights my heart.  Benevolence degenerates into
tyranny, and admiration into servility.  Friendship is the
daughter of equality.  O my friends! may I live in your midst
without emulation, and without glory; let equality bring us
together, and fate assign us our places.  May I die without
knowing to whom among you I owe the most esteem!

Friendship is precious to the hearts of the children of men.

Generosity, gratitude (I mean here only that gratitude which is
born of admiration of a superior power), and friendship are three
distinct shades of a single sentiment which I will call
equite, or SOCIAL PROPORTIONALITY.[1]  Equite does not
change justice: but, always taking equite for the base, it
superadds esteem, and thereby forms in man a third degree of
sociability.  Equite makes it at once our duty and our pleasure
to aid the weak who have need of us, and to make them our equals;
to pay to the strong a just tribute of gratitude and honor,
without enslaving ourselves to them; to cherish our neighbors,
friends, and equals, for that which we receive from them, even by
right of exchange.  Equite is sociability raised to its ideal
by reason and justice; its commonest manifestation is URBANITY
or POLITENESS, which, among certain nations, sums up in a
single word nearly all the social duties.

[1]  I mean here by equite what the Latins called
humanitas,--that is, the kind of sociability which is peculiar
to man.  Humanity, gentle and courteous to all, knows how to
distinguish ranks, virtues, and capacities without injury to any.

It is the just distribution of social sympathy and universal

Now, this feeling is unknown among the beasts, who love and cling
to each other, and show their preferences, but who cannot
conceive of esteem, and who are incapable of generosity,
admiration, or politeness.

This feeling does not spring from intelligence, which calculates,
computes, and balances, but does not love; which sees, but does
not feel.  As justice is the product of social instinct and
reflection combined, so equite is a product of justice and
taste combined--that is, of our powers of judging and of

This product--the third and last degree of human sociability--is
determined by our complex mode of association; in which
inequality, or rather the divergence of faculties, and the
speciality of functions--tending of themselves to isolate
laborers--demand a more active sociability.

That is why the force which oppresses while protecting is
execrable; why the silly ignorance which views with the same
eye the marvels of art, and the products of the rudest industry,
excites unutterable contempt; why proud mediocrity, which glories
in saying, "I have paid you--I owe you nothing," is especially

SOCIABILITY, JUSTICE, EQUITE--such, in its triplicity, is the
exact definition of the instinctive faculty which leads us into
communication with our fellows, and whose physical manifestation
is expressed by the formula:  EQUALITY IN NATURAL WEALTH, AND

These three degrees of sociability support and imply each other.

Equite cannot exist without justice; society without justice is
a solecism.  If, in order to reward talent, I take from one to
give to another, in unjustly stripping the first, I do not esteem
his talent as I ought; if, in society, I award more to myself
than to my associate, we are not really associated.  Justice is
sociability as manifested in the division of material things,
susceptible of weight and measure; equite is justice
accompanied by admiration and esteem,--things which cannot be

From this several inferences may be drawn.

1. Though we are free to grant our esteem to one more than to
another, and in all possible degrees, yet we should give no one
more than his proportion of the common wealth; because the duty
of justice, being imposed upon us before that of equite, must
always take precedence of it.  The woman honored by the ancients,
who, when forced by a tyrant to choose between the death of her
brother and that of her husband, sacrificed the latter on the
ground that she could find another husband but not another
brother,--that woman, I say, in obeying her sense of equite,
failed in point of justice, and did a bad deed, because conjugal
association is a closer relation than fraternal association,
and because the life of our neighbor is not our property.

By the same principle, inequality of wages cannot be admitted by
law on the ground of inequality of talents; because the just
distribution of wealth is the function of economy,--not of

Finally, as regards donations, wills, and inheritance, society,
careful both of the personal affections and its own rights, must
never permit love and partiality to destroy justice.  And, though
it is pleasant to think that the son, who has been long
associated with his father in business, is more capable than any
one else of carrying it on; and that the citizen, who is
surprised in the midst of his task by death, is best fitted, in
consequence of his natural taste for his occupation, to designate
his successor; and though the heir should be allowed the right of
choice in case of more than one inheritance,--nevertheless,
society can tolerate no concentration of capital and industry for
the benefit of a single man, no monopoly of labor, no

[1]  Justice and equite never have been understood.

"Suppose that some spoils, taken from the enemy, and equal to
twelve, are to be divided between Achilles and Ajax.  If the two
persons were equal, their respective shares would be
arithmetically equal: Achilles would have six, Ajax six.  And if
we should carry out this arithmetical equality, Thersites would
be entitled to as much as Achilles, which would be unjust in the
extreme.  To avoid this injustice, the worth of the persons
should be estimated, and the spoils divided accordingly.  Suppose
that the worth of Achilles is double that of Ajax: the former's
share is eight, the latter four.  There is no arithmetical
equality, but a proportional equality.  It is this comparison of
merits, rationum, that Aristotle calls distributive justice. 
It is a geometrical proportion."--Toullier:  French Law
according to the Code.

Are Achilles and Ajax associated, or are they not?  Settle that,
and you settle the whole question.  If Achilles and Ajax, instead
of being associated, are themselves in the service of Agamemnon
who pays them, there is no objection to Aristotle's method.  The
slave-owner, who controls his slaves, may give a double allowance
of brandy to him who does double work.  That is the law of
despotism; the right of slavery.

But if Achilles and Ajax are associated, they are equals.  What
matters it that Achilles has a strength of four, while that of
Ajax is only two?  The latter may always answer that he is free;
that if Achilles has a strength of four, five could kill him;
finally, that in doing personal service he incurs as great a risk
as Achilles.  The same argument applies to Thersites.  If he is
unable to fight, let him be cook, purveyor, or butler.  If he is
good for nothing, put him in the hospital.  In no case wrong him,
or impose upon him laws.

Man must live in one of two states: either in society, or out of
it.  In society, conditions are necessarily equal, except in the
degree of esteem and consideration which each one may receive. 
Out of society, man is so much raw material, a capitalized tool,
and often an incommodious and useless piece of furniture.

2. Equite, justice, and society, can exist only between
individuals of the same species.  They form no part of the
relations of different races to each other,--for instance, of the
wolf to the goat, of the goat to man, of man to God, much less of
God to man.  The attribution of justice, equity, and love to the
Supreme Being is pure anthropomorphism; and the adjectives just,
merciful, pitiful, and the like, should be stricken from our
litanies.  God can be regarded as just, equitable, and good, only
to another God.  Now, God has no associate; consequently, he
cannot experience social affections,--such as goodness, equite,
and justice.  Is the shepherd said to be just to his sheep and
his dogs?  No: and if he saw fit to shear as much wool from a
lamb six months old, as from a ram of two years; or, if he
required as much work from a young dog as from an old one,--they
would say, not that he was unjust, but that he was foolish. 
Between man and beast there is no society, though there may be
affection.  Man loves the animals as THINGS,--as SENTIENT
THINGS, if you will,--but not as PERSONS.  Philosophy, after
having eliminated from the idea of God the passions ascribed to
him by superstition, will then be obliged to eliminate also the
virtues which our liberal piety awards to him.[1]

[1]  Between woman and man there may exist love, passion, ties of
custom, and the like; but there is no real society.  Man and
woman are not companions.  The difference of the sexes places a
barrier between them, like that placed between animals by a
difference of race.  Consequently, far from advocating what is
now called the emancipation of woman, I should incline, rather,
if there were no other alternative, to exclude her from society.

The rights of woman and her relations with man are yet to be
determined Matrimonial legislation, like civil legislation, is a
matter for the future to settle.

If God should come down to earth, and dwell among us, we could
not love him unless he became like us; nor give him any thing
unless he produced something; nor listen to him unless he proved
us mistaken; nor worship him unless he manifested his power.  All
the laws of our nature, affectional, economical, and
intellectual, would prevent us from treating him as we treat our
fellow-men,--that is, according to reason, justice, and equite.

I infer from this that, if God should wish ever to put himself
into immediate communication with man, he would have to become a

Now, if kings are images of God, and executors of his will, they
cannot receive love, wealth, obedience, and glory from us, unless
they consent to labor and associate with us--produce as much as
they consume, reason with their subjects, and do wonderful
things.  Still more; if, as some pretend, kings are public
functionaries, the love which is due them is measured by their
personal amiability; our obligation to obey them, by the wisdom
of their commands; and their civil list, by the total social
production divided by the number of citizens.

Thus, jurisprudence, political economy, and psychology agree in
admitting the law of equality.  Right and duty--
the due reward of talent and labor--the outbursts of love
and enthusiasm,--all are regulated in advance by an invariable
standard; all depend upon number and balance.  Equality of
conditions is the law of society, and universal solidarity is the
ratification of this law.

Equality of conditions has never been realized, thanks to our
passions and our ignorance; but our opposition to this law has
made it all the more a necessity.  To that fact history bears
perpetual testimony, and the course of events reveals it to us. 
Society advances from equation to equation.  To the eyes of the
economist, the revolutions of empires seem now like the reduction
of algebraical quantities, which are inter-deducible; now like
the discovery of unknown quantities, induced by the inevitable
influence of time.  Figures are the providence of history. 
Undoubtedly there are other elements in human progress; but in
the multitude of hidden causes which agitate nations, there is
none more powerful or constant, none less obscure, than the
periodical explosions of the proletariat against property. 
Property, acting by exclusion and encroachment, while population
was increasing, has been the life-principle and definitive cause
of all revolutions.  Religious wars, and wars of conquest, when
they have stopped short of the extermination of races, have been
only accidental disturbances, soon repaired by the mathematical
progression of the life of nations.  The downfall and death of
societies are due to the power of accumulation possessed by

In the middle ages, take Florence,--a republic of merchants and
brokers, always rent by its well-known factions, the Guelphs and
Ghibellines, who were, after all, only the people and the
proprietors fighting against each other,--Florence, ruled by
bankers, and borne down at last by the weight of her
debts;[1] in ancient times, take Rome, preyed upon from its birth
by usury, flourishing, nevertheless, as long as the known world
furnished its terrible proletaires with LABOR stained with
blood by civil war at every interval of rest, and dying of
exhaustion when the people lost, together with their former
energy, their last spark of moral sense; Carthage, a commercial
and financial city, continually divided by internal competition;
Tyre, Sidon, Jerusalem, Nineveh, Babylon, ruined, in turn, by
commercial rivalry and, as we now express it, by panics in the
market,--do not these famous examples show clearly enough the
fate which awaits modern nations, unless the people, unless
France, with a sudden burst of her powerful voice, proclaims in
thunder-tones the abolition of the regime of property?

[1]  "The strong-box of Cosmo de Medici was the grave of
Florentine liberty," said M. Michelet to the College of France.

Here my task should end.  I have proved the right of the poor; I
have shown the usurpation of the rich.  I demand justice; it is
not my business to execute the sentence.  If it should be
argued--in order to prolong for a few years an illegitimate
privilege--that it is not enough to demonstrate equality, that it
is necessary also to organize it, and above all to establish it
peacefully, I might reply:  The welfare of the oppressed is of
more importance than official composure.  Equality of conditions
is a natural law upon which public economy and jurisprudence are
based.  The right to labor, and the principle of equal
distribution of wealth, cannot give way to the anxieties of
power.  It is not for the proletaire to reconcile the
contradictions of the codes, still less to suffer for the errors
of the government.  On the contrary, it is the duty of the civil
and administrative power to reconstruct itself on the basis of
political equality.  An evil, when known, should be condemned and
destroyed.  The legislator cannot plead ignorance as an excuse
for upholding a glaring iniquity.  Restitution should not be
delayed.  Justice, justice! recognition of right! reinstatement
of the proletaire!--when these results are accomplished, then,
judges and consuls, you may attend to your police, and provide a
government for the Republic!

For the rest, I do not think that a single one of my readers
accuses me of knowing how to destroy, but of not knowing how to
construct.  In demonstrating the principle of equality, I have
laid the foundation of the social structure I have done more.  I
have given an example of the true method of solving political and
legislative problems.  Of the science itself, I confess that I
know nothing more than its principle; and I know of no one at
present who can boast of having penetrated deeper.  Many people
cry, "Come to me, and I will teach you the truth!"  These people
mistake for the truth their cherished opinion and ardent
conviction, which is usually any thing but the truth.  The
science of society--like all human sciences--will be for ever
incomplete.  The depth and variety of the questions which it
embraces are infinite.  We hardly know the A B C of this science,
as is proved by the fact that we have not yet emerged from the
period of systems, and have not ceased to put the authority of
the majority in the place of facts.  A certain philological
society decided linguistic questions by a plurality of votes. 
Our parliamentary debates--were their results less pernicious--
would be even more ridiculous.  The task of the true publicist,
in the age in which we live, is to close the mouths of quacks and
charlatans, and to teach the public to demand demonstrations,
instead of being contented with symbols and programmes. 
Before talking of the science itself, it is necessary to
ascertain its object, and discover its method and principle.  The
ground must be cleared of the prejudices which encumber it.  Such
is the mission of the nineteenth century.

For my part, I have sworn fidelity to my work of demolition, and
I will not cease to pursue the truth through the ruins and
rubbish.  I hate to see a thing half done; and it will be
believed without any assurance of mine, that, having dared to
raise my hand against the Holy Ark, I shall not rest contented
with the removal of the cover.  The mysteries of the sanctuary of
iniquity must be unveiled, the tables of the old alliance broken,
and all the objects of the ancient faith thrown in a heap to the
swine.  A charter has been given to us,--a resume of political
science, the monument of twenty legislatures.  A code has been
written,--the pride of a conqueror, and the summary of ancient
wisdom.  Well! of this charter and this code not one article
shall be left standing upon another!  The time has come for the
wise to choose their course, and prepare for reconstruction.
But, since a destroyed error necessarily implies a counter-truth,
I will not finish this treatise without solving the first problem
of political science,--that which receives the attention of all



% 1.--Of the Causes of our Mistakes.  The Origin of Property.

The true form of human society cannot be determined until the
following question has been solved:--

Property not being our natural condition, how did it gain a
foothold?  Why has the social instinct, so trustworthy among
the animals, erred in the case of man?  Why is man, who was born
for society, not yet associated?

I have said that human society is COMPLEX in its nature. 
Though this expression is inaccurate, the fact to which it refers
is none the less true; namely, the classification of talents and
capacities.  But who does not see that these talents and
capacities, owing to their infinite variety, give rise to an
infinite variety of wills, and that the character, the
inclinations, and--if I may venture to use the expression--the
form of the ego, are necessarily changed; so that in the order
of liberty, as in the order of intelligence, there are as many
types as individuals, as many characters as heads, whose tastes,
fancies, and propensities, being modified by dissimilar ideas,
must necessarily conflict?  Man, by his nature and his instinct,
is predestined to society; but his personality, ever varying, is
adverse to it.

In societies of animals, all the members do exactly the same
things.  The same genius directs them; the same will animates
them.  A society of beasts is a collection of atoms, round,
hooked, cubical, or triangular, but always perfectly identical. 
These personalities do not vary, and we might say that a single
ego governs them all.  The labors which animals perform,
whether alone or in society, are exact reproductions of their
character.  Just as the swarm of bees is composed of individual
bees, alike in nature and equal in value, so the honeycomb is
formed of individual cells, constantly and invariably repeated.

But man's intelligence, fitted for his social destiny and his
personal needs, is of a very different composition, and therefore
gives rise to a wonderful variety of human wills.  In the bee,
the will is constant and uniform, because the instinct which
guides it is invariable, and constitutes the animal's whole life
and nature.  In man, talent varies, and the mind wavers;
consequently, his will is multiform and vague.  He seeks society,
but dislikes constraint and monotony; he is an imitator, but fond
of his own ideas, and passionately in love with his works.

If, like the bees, every man were born possessed of talent,
perfect knowledge of certain kinds, and, in a word, an innate
acquaintance with the functions he has to perform, but destitute
of reflective and reasoning faculties, society would organize
itself.  We should see one man plowing a field, another building
houses; this one forging metals, that one cutting clothes; and
still others storing the products, and superintending their
distribution.  Each one, without inquiring as to the object of
his labor, and without troubling himself about the extent of his
task, would obey orders, bring his product, receive his salary,
and would then rest for a time; keeping meanwhile no accounts,
envious of nobody, and satisfied with the distributor, who never
would be unjust to any one.  Kings would govern, but would not
reign; for to reign is to be a _proprietor a l'engrais_, as
Bonaparte said: and having no commands to give, since all would
be at their posts, they would serve rather as rallying centres
than as authorities or counsellors.  It would be a state of
ordered communism, but not a society entered into deliberately
and freely.

But man acquires skill only by observation and experiment.  He
reflects, then, since to observe and experiment is to reflect; he
reasons, since he cannot help reasoning.  In reflecting, he
becomes deluded; in reasoning, he makes mistakes, and, thinking
himself right, persists in them.  He is wedded to his opinions;
he esteems himself, and despises others.  Consequently, he
isolates himself; for he could not submit to the majority
without renouncing his will and his reason,--that is, without
disowning himself, which is impossible.  And this isolation, this
intellectual egotism, this individuality of opinion, lasts until
the truth is demonstrated to him by observation and experience.
A final illustration will make these facts still clearer.

If to the blind but convergent and harmonious instincts of a
swarm of bees should be suddenly added reflection and judgment,
the little society could not long exist.  In the first place, the
bees would not fail to try some new industrial process; for
instance, that of making their cells round or square.  All sorts
of systems and inventions would be tried, until long experience,
aided by geometry, should show them that the hexagonal shape is
the best.  Then insurrections would occur.  The drones would be
told to provide for themselves, and the queens to labor; jealousy
would spread among the laborers; discords would burst forth; soon
each one would want to produce on his own account; and finally
the hive would be abandoned, and the bees would perish.  Evil
would be introduced into the honey-producing republic by the
power of reflection,--the very faculty which ought to constitute
its glory.

Thus, moral evil, or, in this case, disorder in society, is
naturally explained by our power of reflection.  The mother of
poverty, crime, insurrection, and war was inequality of
conditions; which was the daughter of property, which was born of
selfishness, which was engendered by private opinion, which
descended in a direct line from the autocracy of reason.  Man, in
his infancy, is neither criminal nor barbarous, but ignorant and
inexperienced.  Endowed with imperious instincts which are under
the control of his reasoning faculty, at first he reflects but
little, and reasons inaccurately; then, benefiting by his
mistakes, he rectifies his ideas, and perfects his reason.  In
the first place, it is the savage sacrificing all his possessions
for a trinket, and then repenting and weeping; it is Esau selling
his birthright for a mess of pottage, and afterwards wishing to
cancel the bargain; it is the civilized workman laboring in
insecurity, and continually demanding that his wages be
increased, neither he nor his employer understanding that, in the
absence of equality, any salary, however large, is always
insufficient.  Then it is Naboth dying to defend his inheritance;
Cato tearing out his entrails that he might not be enslaved;
Socrates drinking the fatal cup in defence of liberty of thought;
it is the third estate of '89 reclaiming its liberty: soon it
will be the people demanding equality of wages and an equal
division of the means of production.

Man is born a social being,--that is, he seeks equality and
justice in all his relations, but he loves independence and
praise.  The difficulty of satisfying these various desires at
the same time is the primary cause of the despotism of the will,
and the appropriation which results from it.  On the other hand,
man always needs a market for his products; unable to compare
values of different kinds, he is satisfied to judge
approximately, according to his passion and caprice; and he
engages in dishonest commerce, which always results in wealth and
poverty.  Thus, the greatest evils which man suffers arise from
the misuse of his social nature, of this same justice of which he
is so proud, and which he applies with such deplorable ignorance.

The practice of justice is a science which, when once discovered
and diffused, will sooner or later put an end to social disorder,
by teaching us our rights and duties.

This progressive and painful education of our instinct, this slow
and imperceptible transformation of our spontaneous
perceptions into deliberate knowledge, does not take place
among the animals, whose instincts remain fixed, and never become

"According to Frederic Cuvier, who has so clearly distinguished
between instinct and intelligence in animals, `instinct is a
natural and inherent faculty, like feeling, irritability, or
intelligence.  The wolf and the fox who recognize the traps in
which they have been caught, and who avoid them; the dog and the
horse, who understand the meaning of several of our words, and
who obey us,--thereby show _intelligence_.  The dog who hides the
remains of his dinner, the bee who constructs his cell, the bird
who builds his nest, act only from _instinct_.  Even man has
instincts: it is a special instinct which leads the new-born
child to suck.  But, in man, almost every thing is accomplished
by intelligence; and intelligence supplements instinct.  The
opposite is true of animals: their instinct is given them as a
supplement to their intelligence.'"--Flourens:  Analytical
Summary of the Observations of F. Cuvier.

"We can form a clear idea of instinct only by admitting that
animals have in their _sensorium_, images or innate and constant
sensations, which influence their actions in the same manner that
ordinary and accidental sensations commonly do.  It is a sort of
dream, or vision, which always follows them and in all which
relates to instinct they may be regarded as somnambulists."--F.
Cuvier:  Introduction to the Animal Kingdom.

Intelligence and instinct being common, then, though in different
degrees, to animals and man, what is the distinguishing
characteristic of the latter?  According to F. Cuvier, it is
and requires an explanation.

If we grant intelligence to animals, we must also grant them, in
some degree, reflection; for, the first cannot exist without the
second, as F. Cuvier himself has proved by numerous examples. 
But notice that the learned observer defines the kind of
reflection which distinguishes us from the animals as the POWER
interpret, by developing to the best of my ability the
laconism of the philosophical naturalist.

The intelligence acquired by animals never modifies the
operations which they perform by instinct: it is given them only
as a provision against unexpected accidents which might disturb
these operations.  In man, on the contrary, instinctive action is
constantly changing into deliberate action.  Thus, man is social
by instinct, and is every day becoming social by reflection and
choice.  At first, he formed his words by instinct;[1] he was a
poet by inspiration: to-day, he makes grammar a science, and
poetry an art.  His conception of God and a future life is
spontaneous and instinctive, and his expressions of this
conception have been, by turns, monstrous, eccentric, beautiful,
comforting, and terrible.  All these different creeds, at which
the frivolous irreligion of the eighteenth century mocked, are
modes of expression of the religious sentiment.  Some day, man
will explain to himself the character of the God whom he believes
in, and the nature of that other world to which his soul aspires.

[1]  "The problem of the origin of language is solved by the
distinction made by Frederic Cuvier between instinct and
intelligence.  Language is not a premeditated, arbitrary, or
conventional device; nor is it communicated or revealed to us by
God.  Language is an instinctive and unpremeditated creation of
man, as the hive is of the bee.  In this sense, it may be said
that language is not the work of man, since it is not the work of
his mind.  Further, the mechanism of language seems more
wonderful and ingenious when it is not regarded as the result of
reflection.  This fact is one of the most curious and
indisputable which philology has observed.  See, among other
works, a Latin essay by F. G. Bergmann (Strasbourg, 1839), in
which the learned author explains how the phonetic germ is born
of sensation; how language passes through three successive stages
of development; why man, endowed at birth with the instinctive
faculty of creating a language, loses this faculty as fast as his
mind develops; and that the study of languages is real natural
history,--in fact, a science.  France possesses to-day several
philologists of the first rank, endowed with rare talents and
deep philosophic insight,--modest savants developing a science
almost without the knowledge of the public; devoting themselves
to studies which are scornfully looked down upon, and seeming to
shun applause as much as others seek it."

All that he does from instinct man despises; or, if he admires
it, it is as Nature's work, not as his own.  This explains the
obscurity which surrounds the names of early inventors; it
explains also our indifference to religious matters, and the
ridicule heaped upon religious customs.  Man esteems only the
products of reflection and of reason.  The most wonderful works
of instinct are, in his eyes, only lucky GOD-SENDS; he reserves
the name DISCOVERY--I had almost said creation--for the works
of intelligence.  Instinct is the source of passion and
enthusiasm; it is intelligence which causes crime and virtue.

In developing his intelligence, man makes use of not only his own
observations, but also those of others.  He keeps an account of
his experience, and preserves the record; so that the race, as
well as the individual, becomes more and more intelligent.  The
animals do not transmit their knowledge; that which each
individual accumulates dies with him.

It is not enough, then, to say that we are distinguished from the
animals by reflection, unless we mean thereby the CONSTANT
governed by instinct, he is unconscious of his acts.  He never
would deceive himself, and never would be troubled by errors,
evils, and disorder, if, like the animals, instinct were his only
guide.  But the Creator has endowed us with reflection, to the
end that our instinct might become intelligence; and since this
reflection and resulting knowledge pass through various stages,
it happens that in the beginning our instinct is opposed, rather
than guided, by reflection; consequently, that our power of
thought leads us to act in opposition to our nature and our end;
that, deceiving ourselves, we do and suffer evil, until
instinct which points us towards good, and reflection which makes
us stumble into evil, are replaced by the science of good and
evil, which invariably causes us to seek the one and avoid the

Thus, evil--or error and its consequences--is the firstborn son
of the union of two opposing faculties, instinct and reflection;
good, or truth, must inevitably be the second child.  Or, to
again employ the figure, evil is the product of incest between
adverse powers; good will sooner or later be the legitimate child
of their holy and mysterious union.

Property, born of the reasoning faculty, intrenches itself behind
comparisons.  But, just as reflection and reason are subsequent
to spontaneity, observation to sensation, and experience to
instinct, so property is subsequent to communism.  Communism--or
association in a simple form--is the necessary object and
original aspiration of the social nature, the spontaneous
movement by which it manifests and establishes itself.  It is the
first phase of human civilization.  In this state of society,--
which the jurists have called NEGATIVE COMMUNISM--man draws
near to man, and shares with him the fruits of the field and the
milk and flesh of animals.  Little by little this communism--
negative as long as man does not produce--tends to become
positive and organic through the development of labor and
industry.  But it is then that the sovereignty of thought, and
the terrible faculty of reasoning logically or illogically, teach
man that, if equality is the sine qua non of society, communism
is the first species of slavery.
To express this idea by an Hegelian formula, I will say:

Communism--the first expression of the social nature--is the
first term of social development,--the THESIS; property, the
reverse of communism, is the second term,--the ANTITHESIS. 
When we have discovered the third term, the SYNTHESIS, we
shall have the required solution.  Now, this synthesis
necessarily results from the correction of the thesis by the
antithesis.  Therefore it is necessary, by a final examination of
their characteristics, to eliminate those features which are
hostile to sociability.  The union of the two remainders will
give us the true form of human association.

% 2.--Characteristics of Communism and of Property.

I. I ought not to conceal the fact that property and communism
have been considered always the only possible forms of society. 
This deplorable error has been the life of property.  The
disadvantages of communism are so obvious that its critics never
have needed to employ much eloquence to thoroughly disgust men
with it.  The irreparability of the injustice which it causes,
the violence which it does to attractions and repulsions, the
yoke of iron which it fastens upon the will, the moral torture to
which it subjects the conscience, the debilitating effect which
it has upon society; and, to sum it all up, the pious and stupid
uniformity which it enforces upon the free, active, reasoning,
unsubmissive personality of man, have shocked common sense, and
condemned communism by an irrevocable decree.

The authorities and examples cited in its favor disprove it.  The
communistic republic of Plato involved slavery; that of Lycurgus
employed Helots, whose duty it was to produce for their masters,
thus enabling the latter to devote themselves exclusively to
athletic sports and to war.  Even J. J. Rousseau--confounding
communism and equality--has said somewhere that, without slavery,
he did not think equality of conditions possible.  The
communities of the early Church did not last the first century
out, and soon degenerated into monasteries.  In those of the
Jesuits of Paraguay, the condition of the blacks is said by
all travellers to be as miserable as that of slaves; and it is a
fact that the good Fathers were obliged to surround themselves
with ditches and walls to prevent their new converts from
escaping.  The followers of Baboeuf--guided by a lofty horror of
property rather than by any definite belief--were ruined by
exaggeration of their principles; the St. Simonians, lumping
communism and inequality, passed away like a masquerade.  The
greatest danger to which society is exposed to-day is that of
another shipwreck on this rock.

Singularly enough, systematic communism--the deliberate negation
of property--is conceived under the direct influence of the
proprietary prejudice; and property is the basis of all
communistic theories.

The members of a community, it is true, have no private property;
but the community is proprietor, and proprietor not only of the
goods, but of the persons and wills.  In consequence of this
principle of absolute property, labor, which should be only a
condition imposed upon man by Nature, becomes in all communities
a human commandment, and therefore odious.  Passive obedience,
irreconcilable with a reflecting will, is strictly enforced. 
Fidelity to regulations, which are always defective, however wise
they may be thought, allows of no complaint.  Life, talent, and
all the human faculties are the property of the State, which has
the right to use them as it pleases for the common good.  Private
associations are sternly prohibited, in spite of the likes and
dislikes of different natures, because to tolerate them would be
to introduce small communities within the large one, and
consequently private property; the strong work for the weak,
although this ought to be left to benevolence, and not enforced,
advised, or enjoined; the industrious work for the lazy,
although this is unjust; the clever work for the foolish,
although this is absurd; and, finally, man--casting aside his
personality, his spontaneity, his genius, and his affections--
humbly annihilates himself at the feet of the majestic and
inflexible Commune!

Communism is inequality, but not as property is.  Property is the
exploitation of the weak by the strong.  Communism is the
exploitation of the strong by the weak.  In property, inequality
of conditions is the result of force, under whatever name it be
disguised: physical and mental force; force of events, chance,
FORTUNE; force of accumulated property, &c.  In communism,
inequality springs from placing mediocrity on a level with
excellence.  This damaging equation is repellent to the
conscience, and causes merit to complain; for, although it may be
the duty of the strong to aid the weak, they prefer to do it out
of generosity,--they never will endure a comparison.  Give them
equal opportunities of labor, and equal wages, but never allow
their jealousy to be awakened by mutual suspicion of
unfaithfulness in the performance of the common task.

Communism is oppression and slavery.  Man is very willing to obey
the law of duty, serve his country, and oblige his friends; but
he wishes to labor when he pleases, where he pleases, and as much
as he pleases.  He wishes to dispose of his own time, to be
governed only by necessity, to choose his friendships, his
recreation, and his discipline; to act from judgment, not by
command; to sacrifice himself through selfishness, not through
servile obligation.  Communism is essentially opposed to the free
exercise of our faculties, to our noblest desires, to our deepest
feelings.  Any plan which could be devised for reconciling it
with the demands of the individual reason and will would end only
in changing the thing while preserving the name.  Now, if we
are honest truth-seekers, we shall avoid disputes about words.

Thus, communism violates the sovereignty of the conscience, and
equality: the first, by restricting spontaneity of mind and
heart, and freedom of thought and action; the second, by placing
labor and laziness, skill and stupidity, and even vice and virtue
on an equality in point of comfort.  For the rest, if property is
impossible on account of the desire to accumulate, communism
would soon become so through the desire to shirk.

II. Property, in its turn, violates equality by the rights of
exclusion and increase, and freedom by despotism.  The former
effect of property having been sufficiently developed in the last
three chapters, I will content myself here with establishing by a
final comparison, its perfect identity with robbery.

The Latin words for robber are _fur_ and _latro;_ the former
taken from the Greek {GREEK m  }, from {GREEK m   }, Latin
_fero_, I carry away; the latter from {GREEK  `i  }, I play the
part of a brigand, which is derived from {GREEK   i }, Latin
_lateo_, I conceal myself.  The Greeks have also {GREEK   ncg  },
from {GREEK   ncg }, I filch, whose radical consonants are the
same as those of {GREEK  `  cg }, I cover, I conceal.  Thus, in
these languages, the idea of a robber is that of a man who
conceals, carries away, or diverts, in any manner whatever, a
thing which does not belong to him.

The Hebrews expressed the same idea by the word _gannab_,--
robber,--from the verb _ganab_, which means to put away, to turn
aside: _lo thi-gnob (Decalogue: Eighth Commandment_), thou shalt
not steal,--that is, thou shalt not hold back, thou shalt not put
away any thing for thyself.  That is the act of a man who, on
entering into a society into which he agrees to bring all
that he has, secretly reserves a portion, as did the celebrated
disciple Ananias.

The etymology of the French verb _voler_ is still more
significant.  _Voler_, or _faire la vole_ (from the Latin _vola_,
palm of the hand), means to take all the tricks in a game of
ombre; so that _le voleur_, the robber, is the capitalist who
takes all, who gets the lion's share.  Probably this verb _voler_
had its origin in the professional slang of thieves, whence it
has passed into common use, and, consequently into the
phraseology of the law.

Robbery is committed in a variety of ways, which have been very
cleverly distinguished and classified by legislators according to
their heinousness or merit, to the end that some robbers may be
honored, while others are punished.

We rob,--1. By murder on the highway; 2. Alone, or in a band; 3.
By breaking into buildings, or scaling walls; 4. By abstraction;
5. By fraudulent bankruptcy; 6. By forgery of the handwriting of
public officials or private individuals; 7. By manufacture of
counterfeit money.

This species includes all robbers who practise their profession
with no other aid than force and open fraud.  Bandits, brigands,
pirates, rovers by land and sea,--these names were gloried in by
the ancient heroes, who thought their profession as noble as it
was lucrative.  Nimrod, Theseus, Jason and his Argonauts;
Jephthah, David, Cacus, Romulus, Clovis and all his Merovingian
descendants; Robert Guiscard, Tancred de Hauteville, Bohemond,
and most of the Norman heroes,-- were brigands and robbers.  The
heroic character of the robber is expressed in this line from
Horace, in reference to Achilles,--

         _"Jura neget sibi nata, nihil non arroget armis_,"[1]
and by this sentence from the dying words of Jacob (Gen.
xlviii.), which the Jews apply to David, and the Christians to
their Christ:  _Manus ejus contra omnes_.  In our day, the
robber--the warrior of the ancients--is pursued with the utmost
vigor.  His profession, in the language of the code, entails
ignominious and corporal penalties, from imprisonment to the
scaffold.  A sad change in opinions here below!

[1]  "My right is my lance and my buckler."  General de Brossard
said, like Achilles:  "I get wine, gold, and women with my lance
and my buckler."

We rob,--8. By cheating; 9. By swindling; 10. By abuse of trust;
11. By games and lotteries.

This second species was encouraged by the laws of Lycurgus, in
order to sharpen the wits of the young.  It is the kind practised
by Ulysses, Solon, and Sinon; by the ancient and modern Jews,
from Jacob down to Deutz; and by the Bohemians, the Arabs, and
all savage tribes.  Under Louis XIII. and Louis XIV., it was not
considered dishonorable to cheat at play.  To do so was a part of
the game; and many worthy people did not scruple to correct the
caprice of Fortune by dexterous jugglery.  To-day even, and in
all countries, it is thought a mark of merit among peasants,
merchants, and shopkeepers to KNOW HOW TO MAKE A BARGAIN,--that
is, to deceive one's man.  This is so universally accepted, that
the cheated party takes no offence.  It is known with what
reluctance our government resolved upon the abolition of
lotteries.  It felt that it was dealing a stab thereby at
property.  The pickpocket, the blackleg, and the charlatan make
especial use of their dexterity of hand, their subtlety of mind,
the magic power of their eloquence, and their great fertility of
invention.  Sometimes they offer bait to cupidity.  Therefore the
penal code--which much prefers intelligence to muscular vigor--
has made, of the four varieties mentioned above, a second
category, liable only to correctional, not to Ignominious,

Let them now accuse the law of being materialistic and atheistic.

We rob,--12. By usury.

This species of robbery, so odious and so severely punished since
the publication of the Gospel, is the connecting link between
forbidden and authorized robbery.  Owing to its ambiguous nature,
it has given rise to a multitude of contradictions in the laws
and in morals,--contradictions which have been very cleverly
turned to account by lawyers, financiers, and merchants.  Thus
the usurer, who lends on mortgage at ten, twelve, and fifteen per
cent., is heavily fined when detected; while the banker, who
receives the same interest (not, it is true, upon a loan, but in
the way of exchange or discount,--that is, of sale), is protected
by royal privilege.  But the distinction between the banker and
the usurer is a purely nominal one.  Like the usurer, who lends
on property, real or personal, the banker lends on business
paper; like the usurer, he takes his interest in advance; like
the usurer, he can recover from the borrower if the property is
destroyed (that is, if the note is not redeemed),--a circumstance
which makes him a money-lender, not a money-seller.  But the
banker lends for a short time only, while the usurer's loan may
be for one, two, three, or more years.  Now, a difference in the
duration of the loan, or the form of the act, does not alter the
nature of the transaction.  As for the capitalists who invest
their money, either with the State or in commercial operations,
at three, four, and five per cent.,--that is, who lend on usury
at a little lower rate than the bankers and usurers,--they are
the flower of society, the cream of honesty!  Moderation in
robbery is the height of virtue![1]

[1] It would be interesting and profitable to review the authors
who have written on usury, or, to use the gentler expression
which some prefer, lendingat interest.  The theologians always
have opposed usury; but, since they have admitted always the
legitimacy of rent, and since rent is evidently identical with
interest, they have lost themselves in a labyrinth of subtle
distinctions, and have finally reached a pass where they do not
know what to think of usury.  The Church--the teacher of
morality, so jealous and so proud of the purity of her doctrine--
has always been ignorant of the real nature of property and
usury.  She even has proclaimed through her pontiffs the most
deplorable errors.  _Non potest mutuum_, said Benedict XIV.,
_locationi ullo pacto comparari_.  "Rent," says Bossuet, "is as
far from usury as heaven is from the earth."  How, on{sic} such a
doctrine, condemn lending at interest? how justify the Gospel,
which expressly forbids usury?  The difficulty of theologians is
a very serious one.  Unable to refute the economical
demonstrations, which rightly assimilate interest to rent, they
no longer dare to condemn interest, and they can say only that
there must be such a thing as usury, since the Gospel forbids it.

But what, then, is usury?  Nothing is more amusing than to see
these INSTRUCTORS OF NATIONS hesitate between the authority of
the Gospel, which, they say, NEVER CAN HAVE SPOKEN IN VAIN, and
the authority of economical demonstrations.  Nothing, to my mind,
is more creditable to the Gospel than this old infidelity of its
pretended teachers.  Salmasius, having assimilated interest to
rent, was REFUTED by Grotius, Pufendorf, Burlamaqui, Wolf, and
Heineccius; and, what is more curious still, Salmasius ADMITTED
HIS ERROR.  Instead of inferring from this doctrine of Salmasius
that all increase is illegitimate, and proceeding straight on to
the demonstration of Gospel equality, they arrived at just the
opposite conclusion; namely, that since everybody acknowledges
that rent is permissible, if we allow that interest does not
differ from rent, there is nothing left which can be called
usury.  and, consequently, that the commandment of Jesus Christ
is an ILLUSION, and amounts to NOTHING, which is an impious

If this memoir had appeared in the time of Bossuet, that great
theologian would have PROVED by scripture, the fathers,
traditions, councils, and popes, that property exists by Divine
right, while usury is an invention of the devil; and the
heretical work would have been burned, and the author

We rob,--13. By farm-rent, house-rent, and leases of all kinds.

The author of the "Provincial Letters" entertained the honest
Christians of the seventeenth century at the expense of Escobar,
the Jesuit, and the contract Mohatra."  The contract
Mohatra," said Escobar, "is a contract by which goods are
bought, at a high price and on credit, to be again sold at the
same moment to the same person, cash down, and at a
lower price."  Escobar found a way to justify this kind of
usury.  Pascal and all the Jansenists laughed at him.  But what
would the satirical Pascal, the learned Nicole, and the
invincible Arnaud have said, if Father Antoine Escobar de
Valladolid had answered them thus:  "A lease is a contract by
which real estate is bought, at a high price and on credit, to be
again sold, at the expiration of a certain time, to the same
person, at a lower price; only, to simplify the transaction, the
buyer is content to pay the difference between the first sale and
the second.  Either deny the identity of the lease and the
contract Mohatra, and then I will annihilate you in a moment;
or, if you admit the similarity, admit also the soundness of my
doctrine:  otherwise you proscribe both interest and rent at one

In reply to this overwhelming argument of the Jesuit, the sire of
Montalte would have sounded the tocsin, and would have shouted
that society was in peril,--that the Jesuits were sapping its
very foundations.

We rob,--14. By commerce, when the profit of the merchant exceeds
his legitimate salary.

Everybody knows the definition of commerce--THE ART OF BUYING
THAT WHICH IS WORTH THREE.  Between commerce thus defined and
_vol a l'americaine_, the only difference is in the relative
proportion of the values exchanged,--in short, in the amount of
the profit.

We rob,--15. By making profit on our product, by accepting
sinecures, and by exacting exorbitant wages.

The farmer, who sells a certain amount of corn to the consumer,
and who during the measurement thrusts his hand into the bushel
and takes out a handful of grains, robs; the professor, whose
lectures are paid for by the State, and who through the
intervention of a bookseller sells them to the public a second
time, robs; the sinecurist, who receives an enormous product in
exchange for his vanity, robs; the functionary, the laborer,
whatever he may be, who produces only one and gets paid four, one
hundred, or one thousand, robs; the publisher of this book, and
I, its author,--we rob, by charging for it twice as much as it is

In recapitulation:--

Justice, after passing through the state of negative communism,
called by the ancient poets the AGE OF GOLD, commences as the
right of the strongest.  In a society which is trying to organize
itself, inequality of faculties calls up the idea of merit;
equite suggests the plan of proportioning not only esteem, but
also material comforts, to personal merit; and since the highest
and almost the only merit then recognized is physical strength,
the strongest, {GREEK `  eg  }, and consequently the best, {GREEK
`  eg  }, is entitled to the largest share; and if it is refused
him, he very naturally takes it by force.  From this to the
assumption of the right of property in all things, it is but one

Such was justice in the heroic age, preserved, at least by
tradition, among the Greeks and Romans down to the last days of
their republics.  Plato, in the "Gorgias," introduces a character
named Callicles, who spiritedly defends the right of the
strongest, which Socrates, the advocate of equality, {GREEK g  
 e  }, seriously refutes.  It is related of the great Pompey,
that he blushed easily, and, nevertheless, these words once
escaped his lips:  "Why should I respect the laws, when I have
arms in my hand?"  This shows him to have been a man in whom the
moral sense and ambition were struggling for the mastery, and who
sought to justify his violence by the motto of the hero and the

From the right of the strongest springs the exploitation of man
by man, or bondage; usury, or the tribute levied upon the
conquered by the conqueror; and the whole numerous family of
taxes, duties, monarchical prerogatives, house-rents, farm-rents,
&c.; in one word,--property.

Force was followed by artifice, the second manifestation of
justice, which was detested by the ancient heroes, who, not
excelling in that direction, were heavy losers by it.  Force was
still employed, but mental force instead of physical.  Skill in
deceiving an enemy by treacherous propositions seemed deserving
of reward; nevertheless, the strong always prided themselves upon
their honesty.  In those days, oaths were observed and promises
kept according to the letter rather than the spirit:  _Uti lingua
nuncupassit, ita jus esto_,--"As the tongue has spoken, so must
the right be," says the law of the Twelve Tables.  Artifice, or
rather perfidy, was the main element in the politics of ancient
Rome.  Among other examples, Vico cites the following, also
quoted by Montesquieu:  The Romans had guaranteed to the
Carthaginians the preservation of their goods and their CITY,--
intentionally using the word civitas, that is, the society, the
State; the Carthaginians, on the contrary, understood them to
mean the material city, urbs, and accordingly began to rebuild
their walls.  They were immediately attacked on account of their
violation of the treaty, by the Romans, who, acting upon the old
heroic idea of right, did not imagine that, in taking advantage
of an equivocation to surprise their enemies, they were waging
unjust war.

From artifice sprang the profits of manufactures, commerce, and
banking, mercantile frauds, and pretensions which are honored
with the beautiful names of TALENT and GENIUS, but which
ought to be regarded as the last degree of knavery and deception;
and, finally, all sorts of social inequalities.

In those forms of robbery which are prohibited by law, force and
artifice are employed alone and undisguised; in the authorized
forms, they conceal themselves within a useful product, which
they use as a tool to plunder their victim.

The direct use of violence and stratagem was early and
universally condemned; but no nation has yet got rid of that kind
of robbery which acts through talent, labor, and possession, and
which is the source of all the dilemmas of casuistry and the
innumerable contradictions of jurisprudence.

The right of force and the right of artifice--glorified by the
rhapsodists in the poems of the "Iliad" and the "Odyssey"--
inspired the legislation of the Greeks and Romans, from which
they passed into our morals and codes.  Christianity has not
changed at all.  The Gospel should not be blamed, because the
priests, as stupid as the legists, have been unable either to
expound or to understand it.  The ignorance of councils and popes
upon all questions of morality is equal to that of the market-
place and the money-changers; and it is this utter ignorance of
right, justice, and society, which is killing the Church, and
discrediting its teachings for ever.  The infidelity of the Roman
church and other Christian churches is flagrant; all have
disregarded the precept of Jesus; all have erred in moral and
doctrinal points; all are guilty of teaching false and absurd
dogmas, which lead straight to wickedness and murder.  Let it ask
pardon of God and men,--this church which called itself
infallible, and which has grown so corrupt in morals; let its
reformed sisters humble themselves, . . .  and the people,
undeceived, but still religious and merciful, will begin to

[1]  "I preach the Gospel, I live by the Gospel," said the
Apostle; meaning thereby that he lived by his labor.  The
Catholic clergy prefer to live by property.  The struggles in the
communes of the middle ages between the priests and bishops and
the large proprietors and seigneurs are famous.  The papal
excommunications fulminated in defence of ecclesiastical revenues
are no less so.  Even to-day, the official organs of the Gallican
clergy still maintain that the pay received by the clergy is not
a salary, but an indemnity for goods of which they were once
proprietors, and which were taken from them in '89 by the Third
Estate.  The clergy prefer to live by the right of increase
rather than by labor.

One of the main causes of Ireland's poverty to-day is the immense
revenues of the English clergy.  So heretics and orthodox--
Protestants and Papists--cannot reproach each other.  All have
strayed from the path of justice; all have disobeyed the eighth
commandment of the Decalogue:  "Thou shalt not steal."

The development of right has followed the same order, in its
various expressions, that property has in its forms.  Every where
we see justice driving robbery before it and confining it within
narrower and narrower limits.  Hitherto the victories of justice
over injustice, and of equality over inequality, have been won by
instinct and the simple force of things; but the final triumph of
our social nature will be due to our reason, or else we shall
fall back into feudal chaos.  Either this glorious height is
reserved for our intelligence, or this miserable depth for our

The second effect of property is despotism.  Now, since despotism
is inseparably connected with the idea of legitimate authority,
in explaining the natural causes of the first, the principle of
the second will appear.

What is to be the form of government in the future? hear some of
my younger readers reply:  "Why, how can you ask such a question?

You are a republican."  "A republican!  Yes; but that word
specifies nothing.  _Res publica;_ that is, the public thing. 
Now, whoever is interested in public affairs--no matter under
what form of government--may call himself a republican.  Even
kings are republicans."--

"Well! you are a democrat?"--"No."--"What! you would have a
monarchy."--"No."--"A constitutionalist?"--"God forbid!"--"You
are then an aristocrat?"--"Not at all."--"You want a mixed
government?"--"Still less."--"What are you, then?"--"I am an

"Oh!  I understand you; you speak satirically.  This is a hit at
the government."--"By no means.  I have just given you my serious
and well-considered profession of faith.  Although a firm friend
of order, I am (in the full force of the term) an anarchist. 
Listen to me."

In all species of sociable animals, "the weakness of the young is
the principle of their obedience to the old, who are strong; and
from habit, which is a kind of conscience with them, the power
remains with the oldest, although he finally becomes the weakest.

Whenever the society is under the control of a chief, this chief
is almost always the oldest of the troop.  I say almost always,
because the established order may be disturbed by violent
outbreaks.  Then the authority passes to another; and, having
been re-established by force, it is again maintained by habit. 
Wild horses go in herds: they have a chief who marches at their
head, whom they confidently follow, and who gives the signal for
flight or battle.

"The sheep which we have raised follows us, but it follows in
company with the flock in the midst of which it was born.  It
regards man AS THE CHIEF OF ITS FLOCK. . . .  Man is regarded
by domestic animals as a member of theIr society.  All that he
has to do is to get himself accepted by them as an associate: he
soon becomes their chief, in consequence of his superior
intelligence.  He does not, then, change the NATURAL CONDITION
of these animals, as Buffon has said.  On the contrary, he uses
this natural condition to his own advantage; in other words, he
finds SOCIABLE animals, and renders them DOMESTIC by becoming
their associate and chief.  Thus, the DOMESTICITY of animals is
only a special condition, a simple modification, a definitive
consequence of their SOCIABILITY.  All domestic animals are by
nature sociable animals." . . .--Flourens:  Summary of the
Observations of F. Cuvier.

Sociable animals follow their chief by INSTINCT; but take
notice of the fact (which F. Cuvier omitted to state), that
the function of the chief is altogether one of
INTELLIGENCE.  The chief does not teach the others to
associate, to unite under his lead, to reproduce their kind, to
take to flight, or to defend themselves.  Concerning each of
these particulars, his subordinates are as well informed as he. 
But it is the chief who, by his accumulated experience, provides
against accidents; he it is whose private intelligence
supplements, in difficult situations, the general instinct; he it
is who deliberates, decides, and leads; he it is, in short, whose
enlightened prudence regulates the public routine for the
greatest good of all.

Man (naturally a sociable being) naturally follows a chief. 
Originally, the chief is the father, the patriarch, the elder; in
other words, the good and wise man, whose functions,
consequently, are exclusively of a reflective and intellectual
nature.  The human race--like all other races of sociable
animals--has its instincts, its innate faculties, its general
ideas, and its categories of sentiment and reason.  Its chiefs,
legislators, or kings have devised nothing, supposed nothing,
imagined nothing.  They have only guided society by their
accumulated experience, always however in conformity with
opinions and beliefs.

Those philosophers who (carrying into morals and into history
their gloomy and factious whims) affirm that the human race had
originally neither chiefs nor kings, know nothing of the nature
of man.  Royalty, and absolute royalty, is--as truly and more
truly than democracy--a primitive form of government.  Perceiving
that, in the remotest ages, crowns and kingships were worn by
heroes, brigands, and knight-errants, they confound the two
things,--royalty and despotism.  But royalty dates from the
creation of man; it existed in the age of negative communism. 
Ancient heroism (and the despotism which it engendered)
commenced only with the first manifestation of the idea of
justice; that is, with the reign of force.  As soon as the
strongest, in the comparison of merits, was decided to be the
best, the oldest had to abandon his position, and royalty became

The spontaneous, instinctive, and--so to speak--physiological
origin of royalty gives it, in the beginning, a superhuman
character.  The nations connected it with the gods, from whom
they said the first kings descended.  This notion was the origin
of the divine genealogies of royal families, the incarnations of
gods, and the messianic fables.  From it sprang the doctrine of
divine right, which is still championed by a few singular

Royalty was at first elective, because--at a time when man
produced but little and possessed nothing--property was too weak
to establish the principle of heredity, and secure to the son the
throne of his father; but as soon as fields were cleared, and
cities built, each function was, like every thing else,
appropriated, and hereditary kingships and priesthoods were the
result.  The principle of heredity was carried into even the most
ordinary professions,--a circumstance which led to class
distinctions, pride of station, and abjection of the common
people, and which confirms my assertion, concerning the principle
of patrimonial succession, that it is a method suggested by
Nature of filling vacancies in business, and completing
unfinished tasks.

From time to time, ambition caused usurpers, or SUPPLANTERS of
kings, to start up; and, in consequence, some were called kings
by right, or legitimate kings, and others TYRANTS.  But we must
not let these names deceive us.  There have been execrable kings,
and very tolerable tyrants.  Royalty may always be good, when it
is the only possible form of government; legitimate it is
never.  Neither heredity, nor election, nor universal suffrage,
nor the excellence of the sovereign, nor the consecration of
religion and of time, can make royalty legitimate.  Whatever form
it takes,--monarchic, oligarchic, or democratic,--royalty, or the
government of man by man, is illegitimate and absurd.

Man, in order to procure as speedily as possible the most
thorough satisfaction of his wants, seeks RULE.  In the
beginning, this rule is to him living, visible, and tangible.  It
is his father, his master, his king.  The more ignorant man is,
the more obedient he is, and the more absolute is his confidence
in his guide.  But, it being a law of man's nature to conform to
rule,--that is, to discover it by his powers of reflection and
reason,--man reasons upon the commands of his chiefs.  Now, such
reasoning as that is a protest against authority,--a beginning of
disobedience.  At the moment that man inquires into the motives
which govern the will of his sovereign,--at that moment man
revolts.  If he obeys no longer because the king commands, but
because the king demonstrates the wisdom of his commands, it may
be said that henceforth he will recognize no authority, and that
he has become his own king.  Unhappy he who shall dare to command
him, and shall offer, as his authority, only the vote of the
majority; for, sooner or later, the minority will become the
majority, and this imprudent despot will be overthrown, and all
his laws annihilated.

In proportion as society becomes enlightened, royal authority
diminishes.  That is a fact to which all history bears witness. 
At the birth of nations, men reflect and reason in vain.  Without
methods, without principles, not knowing how to use their reason,
they cannot judge of the justice of their conclusions.  Then the
authority of kings is immense, no knowledge having been
acquired with which to contradict it.  But, little by little,
experience produces habits, which develop into customs; then the
customs are formulated in maxims, laid down as principles,--in
short, transformed into laws, to which the king, the living law,
has to bow.  There comes a time when customs and laws are so
numerous that the will of the prince is, so to speak, entwined by
the public will; and that, on taking the crown, he is obliged to
swear that he will govern in conformity with established customs
and usages; and that he is but the executive power of a society
whose laws are made independently of him.

Up to this point, all is done instinctively, and, as it were,
unconsciously; but see where this movement must end.

By means of self-instruction and the acquisition of ideas, man
finally acquires the idea of SCIENCE,--that is, of a system of
knowledge in harmony with the reality of things, and inferred
from observation.  He searches for the science, or the system, of
inanimate bodies,--the system of organic bodies, the system of
the human mind, and the system of the universe: why should he not
also search for the system of society?  But, having reached this
height, he comprehends that political truth, or the science of
politics, exists quite independently of the will of sovereigns,
the opinion of majorities, and popular beliefs,--that kings,
ministers, magistrates, and nations, as wills, have no connection
with the science, and are worthy of no consideration.  He
comprehends, at the same time, that, if man is born a sociable
being, the authority of his father over him ceases on the day
when, his mind being formed and his education finished, he
becomes the associate of his father; that his true chief and his
king is the demonstrated truth; that politics is a science, not a
stratagem; and that the function of the legislator is reduced, in
the last analysis, to the methodical search for truth.

Thus, in a given society, the authority of man over man is
inversely proportional to the stage of intellectual development
which that society has reached; and the probable duration of that
authority can be calculated from the more or less general desire
for a true government,--that is, for a scientific government. 
And just as the right of force and the right of artifice retreat
before the steady advance of justice, and must finally be
extinguished in equality, so the sovereignty of the will yields
to the sovereignty of the reason, and must at last be lost in
scientific socialism.  Property and royalty have been crumbling
to pieces ever since the world began.  As man seeks justice in
equality, so society seeks order in anarchy.

ANARCHY,--the absence of a master, of a sovereign,[1]--such is
the form of government to which we are every day approximating,
and which our accustomed habit of taking man for our rule, and
his will for law, leads us to regard as the height of disorder
and the expression of chaos.  The story is told, that a citizen
of Paris in the seventeenth century having heard it said that in
Venice there was no king, the good man could not recover from his
astonishment, and nearly died from laughter at the mere mention
of so ridiculous a thing.  So strong is our prejudice.  As long
as we live, we want a chief or chiefs; and at this very moment I
hold in my hand a brochure, whose author--a zealous communist--
dreams, like a second Marat, of the dictatorship.  The most
advanced among us are those who wish the greatest possible number
of sovereigns,--their most ardent wish is for the royalty of the
National Guard.  Soon, undoubtedly, some one, jealous
of the citizen militia, will say, "Everybody is king."  But,
when he has spoken, I will say, in my turn, "Nobody is king; we
are, whether we will or no, associated."  Every question of
domestic politics must be decided by departmental statistics;
every question of foreign politics is an affair of international
statistics.  The science of government rightly belongs to one of
the sections of the Academy of Sciences, whose permanent
secretary is necessarily prime minister; and, since every citizen
may address a memoir to the Academy, every citizen is a
legislator.  But, as the opinion of no one is of any value until
its truth has been proven, no one can substitute his will for
reason,--nobody is king.

[1]  The meaning ordinarily attached to the word "anarchy" is
absence of principle, absence of rule; consequently, it has been
regarded as synonymous with "disorder."

All questions of legislation and politics are matters of science,
not of opinion.  The legislative power belongs only to the
reason, methodically recognized and demonstrated.  To attribute
to any power whatever the right of veto or of sanction, is the
last degree of tyranny.  Justice and legality are two things as
independent of our approval as is mathematical truth.  To compel,
they need only to be known; to be known, they need only to be
considered and studied.  What, then, is the nation, if it is not
the sovereign,--if it is not the source of the legislative power?

The nation is the guardian of the law--the nation is the
EXECUTIVE POWER.  Every citizen may assert:  "This is true;
that is just; "but his opinion controls no one but himself.  That
the truth which he proclaims may become a law, it must be
recognized.  Now, what is it to recognize a law?  It is to verify
a mathematical or a metaphysical calculation; it is to repeat an
experiment, to observe a phenomenon, to establish a fact.  Only
the nation has the right to say, "Be it known and decreed."

I confess that this is an overturning of received ideas, and that
I seem to be attempting to revolutionize our political
system; but I beg the reader to consider that, having begun
with a paradox, I must, if I reason correctly, meet with
paradoxes at every step, and must end with paradoxes.  For the
rest, I do not see how the liberty of citizens would be
endangered by entrusting to their hands, instead of the pen of
the legislator, the sword of the law.  The executive power,
belonging properly to the will, cannot be confided to too many
proxies.  That is the true sovereignty of the nation.[1]

[1]  If such ideas are ever forced into the minds of the people,
it will be by representative government and the tyranny of
talkers.  Once science, thought, and speech were characterized by
the same expression.  To designate a thoughtful and a learned
man, they said, "a man quick to speak and powerful in discourse. 
"For a long time, speech has been abstractly distinguished from
science and reason.  Gradually, this abstraction is becoming
realized, as the logicians say, in society; so that we have to-
day savants of many kinds who talk but little, and TALKERS
who are not even savants in the science of speech.  Thus a
philosopher is no longer a savant: he is a talker.  Legislators
and poets were once profound and sublime characters: now they are
talkers.  A talker is a sonorous bell, whom the least shock
suffices to set in perpetual motion.  With the talker, the flow
of speech is always directly proportional to the poverty of
thought.  Talkers govern the world; they stun us, they bore us,
they worry us, they suck our blood, and laugh at us.  As for the
savants, they keep silence: if they wish to say a word, they
are cut short.  Let them write.

The proprietor, the robber, the hero, the sovereign--for all
these titles are synonymous--imposes his will as law, and suffers
neither contradiction nor control; that is, he pretends to be the
legislative and the executive power at once.  Accordingly, the
substitution of the scientific and true law for the royal will is
accomplished only by a terrible struggle; and this constant
substitution is, after property, the most potent element in
history, the most prolific source of political disturbances. 
Examples are too numerous and too striking to require

Now, property necessarily engenders despotism,--the government of
caprice, the reign of libidinous pleasure.  That is so
clearly the essence of property that, to be convinced of it,
one need but remember what it is, and observe what happens around
him.  Property is the right to USE and ABUSE.  If, then,
government is economy,--if its object is production and
consumption, and the distribution of labor and products,--how is
government possible while property exists?  And if goods are
property, why should not the proprietors be kings, and despotic
kings--kings in proportion to their _facultes bonitaires_?  And
if each proprietor is sovereign lord within the sphere of his
property, absolute king throughout his own domain, how could a
government of proprietors be any thing but chaos and confusion?

% 3.--Determination of the third form of Society.  Conclusion.

Then, no government, no public economy, no administration, is
possible, which is based upon property.

Communism seeks EQUALITY and LAW.  Property, born of the
sovereignty of the reason, and the sense of personal merit,
wishes above all things INDEPENDENCE and PROPORTIONALITY.

But communism, mistaking uniformity for law, and levelism for
equality, becomes tyrannical and unjust.  Property, by its
despotism and encroachments, soon proves itself oppressive and

The objects of communism and property are good--their results are
bad.  And why?  Because both are exclusive, and each disregards
two elements of society.  Communism rejects independence and
proportionality; property does not satisfy equality and law.

Now, if we imagine a society based upon these four principles,--
equality, law, independence, and proportionality,--we find:--

1. That EQUALITY, consisting only in EQUALITY OF CONDITIONS,
that is, OF MEANS, and not in EQUALITY OF COMFORT,--
which it is the business of the laborers to achieve for
themselves, when provided with equal means,--in no way violates
justice and equite.

2. That LAW, resulting from the knowledge of facts, and
consequently based upon necessity itself, never clashes with

3. That individual INDEPENDENCE, or the autonomy of the private
reason, originating in the difference in talents and capacities,
can exist without danger within the limits of the law.

4. That PROPORTIONALITY, being admitted only in the sphere of
intelligence and sentiment, and not as regards material objects,
may be observed without violating justice or social equality.

This third form of society, the synthesis of communism and
property, we will call LIBERTY.[1]

[1]  _libertas, librare, libratio, libra_,--liberty, to liberate,
libration, balance (pound),--words which have a common
derivation.  Liberty is the balance of rights and duties.  To
make a man free is to balance him with others,--that is, to put
him or their level.

In determining the nature of liberty, we do not unite communism
and property indiscriminately; such a process would be absurd
eclecticism.  We search by analysis for those elements in each
which are true, and in harmony with the laws of Nature and
society, disregarding the rest altogether; and the result gives
us an adequate expression of the natural form of human society,--
in one word, liberty.

Liberty is equality, because liberty exists only in society; and
in the absence of equality there is no society.

Liberty is anarchy, because it does not admit the government of
the will, but only the authority of the law; that is, of

Liberty is infinite variety, because it respects all wills within
the limits of the law.

Liberty is proportionality, because it allows the utmost latitude
to the ambition for merit, and the emulation of glory.

We can now say, in the words of M. Cousin:  "Our principle is
true; it is good, it is social; let us not fear to push it to its

Man's social nature becoming JUSTICE through reflection,
EQUITE through the classification of capacities, and having
LIBERTY for its formula, is the true basis of morality,--the
principle and regulator of all our actions.  This is the
universal motor, which philosophy is searching for, which
religion strengthens, which egotism supplants, and whose place
pure reason never can fill.  DUTY and RIGHT are born of
NEED, which, when considered in connection with others, is a
RIGHT, and when considered in connection with ourselves, a

We need to eat and sleep.  It is our right to procure those
things which are necessary to rest and nourishment.  It is our
duty to use them when Nature requires it.

We need to labor in order to live.  To do so is both our right
and our duty.

We need to love our wives and children.  It is our duty to
protect and support them.  It is our right to be loved in
preference to all others.  Conjugal fidelity is justice. 
Adultery is high treason against society.

We need to exchange our products for other products.  It is our
right that this exchange should be one of equivalents; and since
we consume before we produce, it would be our duty, if we could
control the matter, to see to it that our last product shall
follow our last consumption.  Suicide is fraudulent bankruptcy.

We need to live our lives according to the dictates of our
reason.  It is our right to maintain our freedom.  It is our duty
to respect that of others.

We need to be appreciated by our fellows.  It is our duty to
deserve their praise.  It is our right to be judged by our works.

Liberty is not opposed to the rights of succession and bequest. 
It contents itself with preventing violations of equality. 
"Choose," it tells us, "between two legacies, but do not take
them both."  All our legislation concerning transmissions,
entailments, adoptions, and, if I may venture to use such a word,
COADJUTORERIES, requires remodelling.

Liberty favors emulation, instead of destroying it.  In social
equality, emulation consists in accomplishing under like
conditions; it is its own reward.  No one suffers by the victory.

Liberty applauds self-sacrifice, and honors it with its votes,
but it can dispense with it.  Justice alone suffices to maintain
the social equilibrium.  Self-sacrifice is an act of
supererogation.  Happy, however, the man who can say, "I
sacrifice myself."[1]

[1]  In a monthly publication, the first number of which has just
appeared under the name of "L'Egalitaire," self-sacrifice is laid
down as a principle of equality.  This is a confusion of ideas. 
Self-sacrifice, taken alone, is the last degree of inequality. 
To seek equality in self-sacrifice is to confess that equality is
against nature.  Equality must be based upon justice, upon strict
right, upon the principles invoked by the proprietor himself;
otherwise it will never exist.  Self-sacrifice is superior to
justice; but it cannot be imposed as law, because it is of such a
nature as to admit of no reward.  It is, indeed, desirable that
everybody shall recognize the necessity of self-sacrifice, and
the idea of "L'Egalitaire" is an excellent example. 
Unfortunately, it can have no effect.  What would you reply,
indeed, to a man who should say to you, "I do not want to
sacrifice myself"?  Is he to be compelled to do so?  When self-
sacrifice is forced, it becomes oppression, slavery, the
exploitation of man by man.  Thus have the proletaires sacrificed
themselves to property.

Liberty is essentially an organizing force.  To insure equality
between men and peace among nations, agriculture and industry,
and the centres of education, business, and storage, must be
distributed according to the climate and the geographical
position of the country, the nature of the products, the
character and natural talents of the inhabitants, &c., in
proportions so just, so wise, so harmonious, that in no place
shall there ever be either an excess or a lack of population,
consumption, and products.  There commences the science of public
and private right, the true political economy.  It is for the
writers on jurisprudence, henceforth unembarrassed by the false
principle of property, to describe the new laws, and bring peace
upon earth.  Knowledge and genius they do not lack; the
foundation is now laid for them.[1]

[1] The disciples of Fourier have long seemed to me the most
advanced of all modern socialists, and almost the only ones
worthy of the name.  If they had understood the nature of their
task, spoken to the people, awakened their sympathies, and kept
silence when they did not understand; if they had made less
extravagant pretensions, and had shown more respect for public
intelligence,--perhaps the reform would now, thanks to them, be
in progress.  But why are these earnest reformers continually
bowing to power and wealth,--that is, to all that is anti-
reformatory?  How, in a thinking age, can they fail to see that
the world must be converted by DEMONSTRATION, not by myths and
allegories?  Why do they, the deadly enemies of civilization,
borrow from it, nevertheless, its most pernicious fruits,--
property, inequality of fortune and rank, gluttony, concubinage,
prostitution, what do I know? theurgy, magic, and sorcery?  Why
these endless denunciations of morality, metaphysics, and
psychology, when the abuse of these sciences, which they do not
understand, constitutes their whole system?  Why this mania for
deifying a man whose principal merit consisted in talking
nonsense about things whose names, even, he did not know, in the
strongest language ever put upon paper?  Whoever admits the
infallibility of a man becomes thereby incapable of instructing
others.  Whoever denies his own reason will soon proscribe free
thought.  The phalansterians would not fail to do it if they had
the power.  Let them condescend to reason, let them proceed
systematically, let them give us demonstrations instead of
revelations, and we will listen willingly.  Then let them
organize manufactures, agriculture, and commerce; let them make
labor attractive, and the most humble functions honorable, and
our praise shall be theirs.  Above all, let them throw off that
Illuminism which gives them the appearance of impostors or dupes,
rather than believers and apostles.

I have accomplished my task; property is conquered, never again
to arise.  Wherever this work is read and discussed, there will
be deposited the germ of death to property; there, sooner or
later, privilege and servitude will disappear, and the despotism
of will will give place to the reign of reason.  What sophisms,
indeed, what prejudices (however obstinate) can stand before the
simplicity of the following propositions:--

I. Individual POSSESSION[1] is the condition of social life;
five thousand years of property demonstrate it.  PROPERTY is
the suicide of society.  Possession is a right; property is
against right.  Suppress property while maintaining possession,
and, by this simple modification of the principle, you will
revolutionize law, government, economy, and institutions; you
will drive evil from the face of the earth.

[1]  Individual possession is no obstacle to extensive
cultivation and unity of exploitation.  If I have not spoken of
the drawbacks arising from small estates, it is because I thought
it useless to repeat what so many others have said, and what by
this time all the world must know.  But I am surprised that the
economists, who have so clearly shown the disadvantages of spade-
husbandry, have failed to see that it is caused entirely by
property; above all, that they have not perceived that their plan
for mobilizing the soil is a first step towards the abolition of

II. All having an equal right of occupancy, possession varies
with the number of possessors; property cannot establish itself.

III. The effect of labor being the same for all, property is lost
in the common prosperity.

IV. All human labor being the result of collective force, all
property becomes, in consequence, collective and unitary.  To
speak more exactly, labor destroys property.

V. Every capacity for labor being, like every instrument of
labor, an accumulated capital, and a collective property,
inequality of wages and fortunes (on the ground of inequality of
capacities) is, therefore, injustice and robbery.

VI. The necessary conditions of commerce are the liberty of the
contracting parties and the equivalence of the products
exchanged.  Now, value being expressed by the amount of time and
outlay which each product costs, and liberty being inviolable,
the wages of laborers (like their rights and duties) should be

VII. Products are bought only by products.  Now, the condition of
all exchange being equivalence of products, profit is impossible
and unjust.  Observe this elementary principle of economy, and
pauperism, luxury, oppression, vice, crime, and hunger will
disappear from our midst.

VIII. Men are associated by the physical and mathematical law of
production, before they are voluntarily associated by choice. 
Therefore, equality of conditions is demanded by justice; that
is, by strict social law: esteem, friendship, gratitude,
admiration, all fall within the domain of EQUITABLE or

IX. Free association, liberty--whose sole function is to maintain
equality in the means of production and equivalence in
exchanges--is the only possible, the only just, the only true
form of society.

X. Politics is the science of liberty.  The government of man by
man (under whatever name it be disguised) is oppression.  Society
finds its highest perfection in the union of order with anarchy.

The old civilization has run its race; a new sun is rising, and
will soon renew the face of the earth.  Let the present
generation perish, let the old prevaricators die in the desert!
the holy earth shall not cover their bones.  Young man,
exasperated by the corruption of the age, and absorbed in your
zeal for justice!--if your country is dear to you, and if you
have the interests of humanity at heart, have the courage to
espouse the cause of liberty!  Cast off your old selfishness, and
plunge into the rising flood of popular equality!  There your
regenerate soul will acquire new life and vigor; your enervated
genius will recover unconquerable energy; and your heart, perhaps
already withered, will be rejuvenated!  Every thing will wear a
different look to your illuminated vision; new sentiments will
engender new ideas within you; religion, morality, poetry, art,
language will appear before you in nobler and fairer forms; and
thenceforth, sure of your faith, and thoughtfully enthusiastic,
you will hail the dawn of universal regeneration!

And you, sad victims of an odious law!--you, whom a jesting world
despoils and outrages!--you, whose labor has always been
fruitless, and whose rest has been without hope,--take courage!
your tears are numbered!  The fathers have sown in affliction,
the children shall reap in rejoicings!

O God of liberty!  God of equality!  Thou who didst place in my
heart the sentiment of justice, before my reason could comprehend
it, hear my ardent prayer!  Thou hast dictated all that I have
written; Thou hast shaped my thought; Thou hast directed my
studies; Thou hast weaned my mind from curiosity and my heart
from attachment, that I might publish Thy truth to the master and
the slave.  I have spoken with what force and talent Thou hast
given me: it is Thine to finish the work.  Thou knowest whether I
seek my welfare or Thy glory, O God of liberty!  Ah! perish my
memory, and let humanity be free!  Let me see from my obscurity
the people at last instructed; let noble teachers enlighten them;
let generous spirits guide them! Abridge, if possible, the
time of our trial; stifle pride and avarice in equality;
annihilate this love of glory which enslaves us; teach these poor
children that in the bosom of liberty there are neither heroes
nor great men!  Inspire the powerful man, the rich man, him whose
name my lips shall never pronounce in Thy presence, with a horror
of his crimes; let him be the first to apply for admission to the
redeemed society; let the promptness of his repentance be the
ground of his forgiveness!  Then, great and small, wise and
foolish, rich and poor, will unite in an ineffable fraternity;
and, singing in unison a new hymn, will rebuild Thy altar, O God
of liberty and equality!








                                      PARIS, April 1, 1841.
Before resuming my "Inquiries into Government and Property," it
is fitting, for the satisfaction of some worthy people, and also
in the interest of order, that I should make to you a plain,
straightforward explanation.  In a much-governed State, no one
would be allowed to attack the external form of the society, and
the groundwork of its institutions, until he had established his
right to do so,--first, by his morality; second, by his capacity;
and, third, by the purity of his intentions.  Any one who,
wishing to publish a treatise upon the constitution of the
country, could not satisfy this threefold condition, would be
obliged to procure the endorsement of a responsible patron
possessing the requisite qualifications.

But we Frenchmen have the liberty of the press.  This grand
right--the sword of thought, which elevates the virtuous citizen
to the rank of legislator, and makes the malicious citizen an
agent of discord--frees us from all preliminary responsibility to
the law; but it does not release us from our internal obligation
to render a public account of our sentiments and thoughts.  I
have used, in all its fulness, and concerning an important
question, the right which the charter grants us.  I come to-day,
sir, to submit my conscience to your judgment, and my feeble
insight to your discriminating reason.  You have criticised in a
kindly spirit--I had almost said with partiality for the writer--
a work which teaches a doctrine that you thought it your duty to
condemn.  "The Academy of Moral and Political Sciences," said you
in your report, "can accept the conclusions of the author only as
far as it likes."  I venture to hope, sir, that, after you have
read this letter, if your prudence still restrains you, your
fairness will induce you to do me justice.

which I maintained and developed in a memoir bearing the title,
"What is Property? or, An Inquiry into the Principle of Right and
of Government."

The idea of social equality, even in individual fortunes, has in
all ages besieged, like a vague presentiment, the human
imagination.  Poets have sung of it in their hymns; philosophers
have dreamed of it in their Utopias; priests teach it, but only
for the spiritual world.  The people, governed by it, never have
had faith in it; and the civil power is never more disturbed than
by the fables of the age of gold and the reign of Astrea.  A year
ago, however, this idea received a scientific demonstration,
which has not yet been satisfactorily answered, and, permit me to
add, never will be.  This demonstration, owing to its slightly
impassioned style, its method of reasoning,--which was so at
variance with that employed by the generally recognized
authorities,--and the importance and novelty of its conclusions,
was of a nature to cause some alarm; and might have been
dangerous, had it not been--as you, sir, so well said--a sealed
letter, so far as the general public was concerned,
addressed only to men of intelligence.  I was glad to see that
through its metaphysical dress you recognized the wise foresight
of the author; and I thank you for it.  May God grant that my
intentions, which are wholly peaceful, may never be charged upon
me as treasonable!

Like a stone thrown into a mass of serpents, the First Memoir on
Property excited intense animosity, and aroused the passions of
many.  But, while some wished the author and his work to be
publicly denounced, others found in them simply the solution of
the fundamental problems of society; a few even basing evil
speculations upon the new light which they had obtained.  It was
not to be expected that a system of inductions abstractly
gathered together, and still more abstractly expressed, would be
understood with equal accuracy in its ensemble and in each of
its parts.

To find the law of equality, no longer in charity and self-
sacrifice (which are not binding in their nature), but in
justice; to base equality of functions upon equality of persons;
to determine the absolute principle of exchange; to neutralize
the inequality of individual faculties by collective force; to
establish an equation between property and robbery; to change the
law of succession without destroying the principle; to maintain
the human personality in a system of absolute association, and to
save liberty from the chains of communism; to synthetize the
monarchical and democratic forms of government; to reverse the
division of powers; to give the executive power to the nation,
and to make legislation a positive, fixed, and absolute
science,--what a series of paradoxes! what a string of delusions!
if I may not say, what a chain of truths!  But it is not my
purpose here to pass upon the theory of the right of possession. 
I discuss no dogmas.  My only object is to justify my views, and
to show that, in writing as I did, I not only exercised a
right, but performed a duty.

Yes, I have attacked property, and shall attack it again; but,
sir, before demanding that I shall make the amende honorable
for having obeyed my conscience and spoken the exact truth,
condescend, I beg of you, to cast a glance at the events which
are happening around us; look at our deputies, our magistrates,
our philosophers, our ministers, our professors, and our
publicists; examine their methods of dealing with the matter of
property; count up with me the restrictions placed upon it every
day in the name of the public welfare; measure the breaches
already made; estimate those which society thinks of making
hereafter; add the ideas concerning property held by all theories
in common; interrogate history, and then tell me what will be
left, half a century hence, of this old right of property; and,
thus perceiving that I have so many accomplices, you will
immediately declare me innocent.

What is the law of expropriation on the ground of public utility,
which everybody favors, and which is even thought too lenient?[1]

[1]  In the Chamber of Deputies, during the session of the fifth
of January, 1841, M. Dufaure moved to renew the expropriation
bill, on the ground of public utility.

A flagrant violation of the right of property.  Society
indemnifies, it is said, the dispossessed proprietor; but does it
return to him the traditional associations, the poetic charm, and
the family pride which accompany property?  Naboth, and the
miller of Sans-Souci, would have protested against French law, as
they protested against the caprice of their kings.  "It is the
field of our fathers," they would have cried, "and we will not
sell it!"  Among the ancients, the refusal of the individual
limited the powers of the State.  The Roman law bowed to the will
of the citizen, and an emperor--Commodus, if I remember
rightly--abandoned the project of enlarging the forum out of
respect for the rights of the occupants who refused to abdicate. 
Property is a real right, _jus_ _in re_,--a right inherent in the
thing, and whose principle lies in the external manifestation of
man's will.  Man leaves his imprint, stamps his character, upon
the objects of his handiwork.  This plastic force of man, as the
modern jurists say, is the seal which, set upon matter, makes it
holy.  Whoever lays hands upon it, against the proprietor's will,
does violence to the latter's personality.  And yet, when an
administrative committee saw fit to declare that public utility
required it, property had to give way to the general will.  Soon,
in the name of public utility, methods of cultivation and
conditions of enjoyment will be prescribed; inspectors of
agriculture and manufactures will be appointed; property will be
taken away from unskilful hands, and entrusted to laborers who
are more deserving of it; and a general superintendence of
production will be established.  It is not two years since I saw
a proprietor destroy a forest more than five hundred acres in
extent.  If public utility had interfered, that forest--the only
one for miles around--would still be standing.

But, it is said, expropriation on the ground of public utility is
only an exception which confirms the principle, and bears
testimony in favor of the right.  Very well; but from this
exception we will pass to another, from that to a third, and so
on from exceptions to exceptions, until we have reduced the rule
to a pure abstraction.

How many supporters do you think, sir, can be claimed for the
project of the conversion of the public funds?  I venture to say
that everybody favors it, except the fund-holders.  Now,
this so-called conversion is an extensive expropriation, and in
this case with no indemnity whatever.  The public funds are so
much real estate, the income from which the proprietor counts
upon with perfect safety, and which owes its value to the tacit
promise of the government to pay interest upon it at the
established rate, until the fund-holder applies for redemption. 
For, if the income is liable to diminution, it is less profitable
than house-rent or farm-rent, whose rates may rise or fall
according to the fluctuations in the market; and in that case,
what inducement has the capitalist to invest his money in the
State?  When, then, you force the fund-holder to submit to a
diminution of interest, you make him bankrupt to the extent of
the diminution; and since, in consequence of the conversion, an
equally profitable investment becomes impossible, you depreciate
his property.

That such a measure may be justly executed, it must be
generalized; that is, the law which provides for it must decree
also that interest on sums lent on deposit or on mortgage
throughout the realm, as well as house and farm-rents, shall be
reduced to three per cent.  This simultaneous reduction of all
kinds of income would be not a whit more difficult to accomplish
than the proposed conversion; and, further, it would offer the
advantage of forestalling at one blow all objections to it, at
the same time that it would insure a just assessment of the land-
tax.  See!  If at the moment of conversion a piece of real estate
yields an income of one thousand francs, after the new law takes
effect it will yield only six hundred francs.  Now, allowing the
tax to be an aliquot part--one-fourth for example--of the income
derived from each piece of property, it is clear on the one hand
that the proprietor would not, in order to lighten his share of
the tax, underestimate the value of his property; since, house
and farm-rents being fixed by the value of the capital, and
the latter being measured by the tax, to depreciate his real
estate would be to reduce his revenue.  On the other hand, it is
equally evident that the same proprietors could not overestimate
the value of their property, in order to increase their incomes
beyond the limits of the law, since the tenants and farmers, with
their old leases in their hands, would enter a protest.

Such, sir, must be the result sooner or later of the conversion
which has been so long demanded; otherwise, the financial
operation of which we are speaking would be a crying injustice,
unless intended as a stepping-stone.  This last motive seems the
most plausible one; for in spite of the clamors of interested
parties, and the flagrant violation of certain rights, the public
conscience is bound to fulfil its desire, and is no more affected
when charged with attacking property, than when listening to the
complaints of the bondholders.  In this case, instinctive justice
belies legal justice.

Who has not heard of the inextricable confusion into which the
Chamber of Deputies was thrown last year, while discussing the
question of colonial and native sugars?  Did they leave these two
industries to themselves?  The native manufacturer was ruined by
the colonist.  To maintain the beet-root, the cane had to be
taxed.  To protect the property of the one, it became necessary
to violate the property of the other.  The most remarkable
feature of this business was precisely that to which the least
attention was paid; namely, that, in one way or another, property
had to be violated.  Did they impose on each industry a
proportional tax, so as to preserve a balance in the market? 
They created a maximum PRICE for each variety of sugar; and, as
this maximum PRICE was not the same, they attacked property in
two ways,--on the one hand, interfering with the liberty of
trade; on the other, disregarding the equality of proprietors. 
Did they suppress the beet-root by granting an indemnity to the
manufacturer?  They sacrificed the property of the tax-payer. 
Finally, did they prefer to cultivate the two varieties of sugar
at the nation's expense, just as different varieties of tobacco
are cultivated?  They abolished, so far as the sugar industry was
concerned, the right of property.  This last course, being the
most social, would have been certainly the best; but, if property
is the necessary basis of civilization, how is this deep-seated
antagonism to be explained?[1]

[1] "What is Property?" Chap. IV., Ninth Proposition.

Not satisfied with the power of dispossessing a citizen on the
ground of public utility, they want also to dispossess him on the
ground of PRIVATE UTILITY.  For a long time, a revision of the
law concerning mortgages was clamored for; a process was
demanded, in behalf of all kinds of credit and in the interest of
even the debtors themselves, which would render the expropriation
of real estate as prompt, as easy, and as effective as that which
follows a commercial protest.  The Chamber of Deputies, in the
early part of this year, 1841, discussed this project, and the
law was passed almost unanimously.  There is nothing more just,
nothing more reasonable, nothing more philosophical apparently,
than the motives which gave rise to this reform.

I. Formerly, the small proprietor whose obligation had arrived at
maturity, and who found himself unable to meet it, had to employ
all that he had left, after being released from his debt, in
defraying the legal costs.  Henceforth, the promptness of
expropriation will save him from total ruin.  2. The difficulties
in the way of payment arrested credit, and prevented the
employment of capital in agricultural enterprises.  This cause of
distrust no longer existing, capitalists will find new markets,
agriculture will rapidly develop, and farmers will be the first
to enjoy the benefit of the new law.  3. Finally, it was
iniquitous and absurd, that, on account of a protested note, a
poor manufacturer should see in twenty-four hours his business
arrested, his labor suspended, his merchandise seized, his
machinery sold at auction, and finally himself led off to prison,
while two years were sometimes necessary to expropriate the most
miserable piece of real estate.

These arguments, and others besides, you clearly stated, sir, in
your first lectures of this academic year.

But, when stating these excellent arguments, did you ask
yourself, sir, whither would tend such a transformation of our
system of mortgages? . . .  To monetize, if I may say so, landed
property; to accumulate it within portfolios; to separate the
laborer from the soil, man from Nature; to make him a wanderer
over the face of the earth; to eradicate from his heart every
trace of family feeling, national pride, and love of country; to
isolate him more and more; to render him indifferent to all
around him; to concentrate his love upon one object,--money; and,
finally, by the dishonest practices of usury, to monopolize the
land to the profit of a financial aristocracy,--a worthy
auxiliary of that industrial feudality whose pernicious influence
we begin to feel so bitterly.  Thus, little by little, the
subordination of the laborer to the idler, the restoration of
abolished castes, and the distinction between patrician and
plebeian, would be effected; thus, thanks to the new privileges
granted to the property of the capitalists, that of the small and
intermediate proprietors would gradually disappear, and with it
the whole class of free and honest laborers.  This certainly is
not my plan for the abolition of property.  Far from
mobilizing the soil, I would, if possible, immobilize even the
functions of pure intelligence, so that society might be the
fulfilment of the intentions of Nature, who gave us our first
possession, the land.  For, if the instrument or capital of
production is the mark of the laborer, it is also his pedestal,
his support, his country, and, as the Psalmist says, THE PLACE

[1]   _Tu cognovisti sessionem meam et resurrectionem meam_. 
Psalm 139.

Let us examine more closely still the inevitable and approaching
result of the last law concerning judicial sales and mortgages. 
Under the system of competition which is killing us, and whose
necessary expression is a plundering and tyrannical government,
the farmer will need always capital in order to repair his
losses, and will be forced to contract loans.  Always depending
upon the future for the payment of his debts, he will be deceived
in his hope, and surprised by maturity.  For what is there more
prompt, more unexpected, more abbreviatory of space and time,
than the maturity of an obligation?  I address this question to
all whom this pitiless Nemesis pursues, and even troubles in
their dreams.  Now, under the new law, the expropriation of a
debtor will be effected a hundred times more rapidly; then, also,
spoliation will be a hundred times surer, and the free laborer
will pass a hundred times sooner from his present condition to
that of a serf attached to the soil.  Formerly, the length of
time required to effect the seizure curbed the usurer's avidity,
gave the borrower an opportunity to recover himself, and gave
rise to a transaction between him and his creditor which might
result finally in a complete release.  Now, the debtor's sentence
is irrevocable: he has but a few days of grace.

And what advantages are promised by this law as an offset
to this sword of Damocles, suspended by a single hair over
the head of the unfortunate husbandman?  The expenses of seizure
will be much less, it is said; but will the interest on the
borrowed capital be less exorbitant?  For, after all, it is
interest which impoverishes the peasant and leads to his
expropriation.  That the law may be in harmony with its
principle, that it may be truly inspired by that spirit of
justice for which it is commended, it must--while facilitating
expropriation--lower the legal price of money.  Otherwise, the
reform concerning mortgages is but a trap set for small
proprietors,--a legislative trick.

Lower interest on money!  But, as we have just seen, that is to
limit property.  Here, sir, you shall make your own defence. 
More than once, in your learned lectures, I have heard you
deplore the precipitancy of the Chambers, who, without previous
study and without profound knowledge of the subject, voted almost
unanimously to maintain the statutes and privileges of the Bank. 
Now these privileges, these statutes, this vote of the Chambers,
mean simply this,--that the market price of specie, at five or
six per cent., is not too high, and that the conditions of
exchange, discount, and circulation, which generally double this
interest, are none too severe.  So the government thinks.  M.
Blanqui--a professor of political economy, paid by the State--
maintains the contrary, and pretends to demonstrate, by decisive
arguments, the necessity of a reform.  Who, then, best
understands the interests of property,--the State, or M. Blanqui?

If specie could be borrowed at half the present rate, the
revenues from all sorts of property would soon be reduced one-
half also.  For example: when it costs less to build a house than
to hire one, when it is cheaper to clear a field than to procure
one already cleared, competition inevitably leads to a
reduction of house and farm-rents, since the surest way to
depreciate active capital is to increase its amount.  But it is a
law of political economy that an increase of production augments
the mass of available capital, consequently tends to raise wages,
and finally to annihilate interest.  Then, proprietors are
interested in maintaining the statutes and privileges of the
Bank; then, a reform in this matter would compromise the right of
increase; then, the peers and deputies are better informed than
Professor Blanqui.

But these same deputies,--so jealous of their privileges whenever
the equalizing effects of a reform are within their intellectual
horizon,--what did they do a few days before they passed the law
concerning judicial sales?  They formed a conspiracy against
property!  Their law to regulate the labor of children in
factories will, without doubt, prevent the manufacturer from
compelling a child to labor more than so many hours a day; but it
will not force him to increase the pay of the child, nor that of
its father.  To-day, in the interest of health, we diminish the
subsistence of the poor; to-morrow it will be necessary to
protect them by fixing their MINIMUM wages.  But to fix their
minimum wages is to compel the proprietor, is to force the master
to accept his workman as an associate, which interferes with
freedom and makes mutual insurance obligatory.  Once entered upon
this path, we never shall stop.  Little by little the government
will become manufacturer, commission-merchant, and retail dealer.

It will be the sole proprietor.  Why, at all epochs, have the
ministers of State been so reluctant to meddle with the question
of wages?  Why have they always refused to interfere between the
master and the workman?  Because they knew the touchy and jealous
nature of property, and, regarding it as the principle of all
civilization, felt that to meddle with it would be to
unsettle the very foundations of society.  Sad condition of the
proprietary regime,--one of inability to exercise charity
without violating justice![1]

[1]  The emperor Nicholas has just compelled all the
manufacturers in his empire to maintain, at their own expense,
within their establishments, small hospitals for the reception of
sick workmen,--the number of beds in each being proportional to
the number of laborers in the factory.  "You profit by man's
labor," the Czar could have said to his proprietors; "you shall
be responsible for man's life."  M. Blanqui has said that such a
measure could not succeed in France.  It would be an attack upon
property,--a thing hardly conceivable even in Russia, Scythia, or
among the Cossacks; but among us, the oldest sons of
civilization! . . .  I fear very much that this quality of age
may prove in the end a mark of decrepitude.

And, sir, this fatal consequence which necessity forces upon the
State is no mere imagination.  Even now the legislative power is
asked, no longer simply to regulate the government of factories,
but to create factories itself.  Listen to the millions of voices
shouting on all hands for THE ORGANISATION OF LABOR, THE
CREATION OF NATIONAL WORKSHOPS!  The whole laboring class is
agitated: it has its journals, organs, and representatives.  To
guarantee labor to the workingman, to balance production with
sale, to harmonize industrial proprietors, it advocates to-day--
as a sovereign remedy--one sole head, one national wardenship,
one huge manufacturing company.  For, sir, all this is included
in the idea of national workshops.  On this subject I wish to
quote, as proof, the views of an illustrious economist, a
brilliant mind, a progressive intellect, an enthusiastic soul, a
true patriot, and yet an official defender of the right of

[1] Course of M. Blanqui.  Lecture of Nov. 27,1840.

The honorable professor of the Conservatory proposes then,--


But, to keep the peasant in his village, his residence there must
be made endurable: to be just to all, the proletaire of the
country must be treated as well as the proletaire of the city. 
Reform is needed, then, on farms as well as in factories; and,
when the government enters the workshop, the government must
seize the plough!  What becomes, during this progressive
invasion, of independent cultivation, exclusive domain, property?


The object of this measure would be to secure to laborers their
subsistence, and to proprietors their profits, while obliging the
latter to sacrifice from motives of prudence, if for no other
reason, a portion of their income.  Now, I say, that this
portion, in the long run, would swell until at last there would
be an equality of enjoyment between the proletaire and the
proprietor.  For, as we have had occasion to remark several times
already, the interest of the capitalist--in other words the
increase of the idler--tends, on account of the power of labor,
the multiplication of products and exchanges, to continually
diminish, and, by constant reduction, to disappear.  So that, in
the society proposed by M. Blanqui, equality would not be
realized at first, but would exist potentially; since property,
though outwardly seeming to be industrial feudality, being no
longer a principle of exclusion and encroachment, but only a
privilege of division, would not be slow, thanks to the
intellectual and political emancipation of the proletariat, in
passing into absolute equality,--as absolute at least as any
thing can be on this earth.

I omit, for the sake of brevity, the numerous considerations
which the professor adduces in support of what he calls, too
modestly in my opinion, his Utopia.  They would serve only
to prove beyond all question that, of all the charlatans of
radicalism who fatigue the public ear, no one approaches, for
depth and clearness of thought, the audacious M. Blanqui.


But, sir, the stoppage of private industry is the result of over-
production, and insufficient markets.  If, then, production
continues in the national workshops, how will the crisis be
terminated?  Undoubtedly, by the general depreciation of
merchandise, and, in the last analysis, by the conversion of
private workshops into national workshops.  On the other hand,
the government will need capital with which to pay its workmen;
now, how will this capital be obtained?  By taxation.  And upon
what will the tax be levied?  Upon property.  Then you will have
proprietary industry sustaining against itself, and at its own
expense, another industry with which it cannot compete.  What,
think you, will become, in this fatal circle, of the possibility
of profit,--in a word, of property?

Thank Heaven! equality of conditions is taught in the public
schools; let us fear revolutions no longer.  The most implacable
enemy of property could not, if he wished to destroy it, go to
work in a wiser and more effective way.  Courage, then,
ministers, deputies, economists! make haste to seize this
glorious initiative; let the watchwords of equality, uttered from
the heights of science and power, be repeated in the midst of the
people; let them thrill the breasts of the proletaires, and carry
dismay into the ranks of the last representatives of privilege!

The tendency of society in favor of compelling proprietors
to support national workshops and public manufactories is so
strong that for several years, under the name of ELECTORAL
REFORM, it has been exclusively the question of the day.  What
is, after all, this electoral reform which the people grasp at,
as if it were a bait, and which so many ambitious persons either
call for or denounce?  It is the acknowledgment of the right of
the masses to a voice in the assessment of taxes, and the making
of the laws; which laws, aiming always at the protection of
material interests, affect, in a greater or less degree, all
questions of taxation or wages.  Now the people, instructed long
since by their journals, their dramas,[1] and their songs,[2]
know to-day that taxation, to be equitably divided, must be
graduated, and must be borne mainly by the rich,--that it must be
levied upon luxuries, &c.  And be sure that the people, once in
the majority in the Chamber, will not fail to apply these
lessons.  Already we have a minister of public works.  National
workshops will follow; and soon, as a consequence, the excess of
the proprietor's revenue over the workingman's wages will be
swallowed up in the coffers of the laborers of the State.  Do you
not see that in this way property is gradually reduced, as
nobility was formerly, to a nominal title, to a distinction
purely honorary in its nature?

[1]  In "Mazaniello," the Neapolitan fisherman demands, amid the
applause of the galleries, that a tax be levied upon luxuries.

           [2] _Seme le champ, proletaire;
                C'est l l'oisif  qui recoltera_.

Either the electoral reform will fail to accomplish that which is
hoped from it, and will disappoint its innumerable partisans, or
else it will inevitably result in a transformation of the
absolute right under which we live into a right of possession;
that is, that while, at present, property makes the elector,
after this reform is accomplished, the citizen, the
producer will be the possessor.[1]  Consequently, the radicals
are right in saying that the electoral reform is in their eyes
only a means; but, when they are silent as to the end, they show
either profound ignorance, or useless dissimulation.  There
should be no secrets or reservations from peoples and powers.  He
disgraces himself and fails in respect for his fellows, who, in
publishing his opinions, employs evasion and cunning.  Before the
people act, they need to know the whole truth.  Unhappy he who
shall dare to trifle with them!  For the people are credulous,
but they are strong.  Let us tell them, then, that this reform
which is proposed is only a means,--a means often tried, and
hitherto without effect,--but that the logical object of the
electoral reform is equality of fortunes; and that this equality
itself is only a new means having in view the superior and
definitive object of the salvation of society, the restoration of
morals and religion, and the revival of poetry and art.

[1]  "In some countries, the enjoyment of certain political
rights depends upon the amount of property.  But, in these same
countries, property is expressive, rather than attributive, of
the qualifications necessary to the exercise of these rights.  It
is rather a conjectural proof than the cause of these
qualifications."--Rossi: Treatise on Penal Law.

This assertion of M. Rossi is not borne out by history.  Property
is the cause of the electoral right, not as a PRESUMPTION OF
CAPACITY,--an idea which never prevailed until lately, and which
is extremely absurd,--but as a GUARANTEE OF DEVOTION TO THE
ESTABLISHED ORDER.  The electoral body is a league of those
interested in the maintenance of property, against those not
interested.  There are thousands of documents, even official
documents, to prove this, if necessary.  For the rest, the
present system is only a continuation of the municipal system,
which, in the middle ages, sprang up in connection with
feudalism,--an oppressive, mischief-making system, full of petty
passions and base intrigues.

It would be an abuse of the reader's patience to insist further
upon the tendency of our time towards equality.  There are,
moreover, so many people who denounce the present age,
that nothing is gained by exposing to their view the
popular, scientific, and representative tendencies of the nation.

Prompt to recognize the accuracy of the inferences drawn from
observation, they confine themselves to a general censure of the
facts, and an absolute denial of their legitimacy.  "What
wonder," they say, "that this atmosphere of equality intoxicates
us, considering all that has been said and done during the past
ten years! . . .  Do you not see that society is dissolving, that
a spirit of infatuation is carrying us away?  All these hopes of
regeneration are but forebodings of death; your songs of triumph
are like the prayers of the departing, your trumpet peals
announce the baptism of a dying man.  Civilization is falling in
ruin: _Imus, imus, praecipites_!"

Such people deny God.  I might content myself with the reply that
the spirit of 1830 was the result of the maintenance of the
violated charter; that this charter arose from the Revolution of
'89; that '89 implies the States-General's right of remonstrance,
and the enfranchisement of the communes; that the communes
suppose feudalism, which in its turn supposes invasion, Roman
law, Christianity, &c.

But it is necessary to look further.  We must penetrate to the
very heart of ancient institutions, plunge into the social
depths, and uncover this indestructible leaven of equality which
the God of justice breathed into our souls, and which manifests
itself in all our works.

Labor is man's contemporary; it is a duty, since it is a
condition of existence:  "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat
bread."  It is more than a duty, it is a mission:  "God put the
man into the garden to dress it."  I add that labor is the cause
and means of equality.

Cast away upon a desert island two men: one large, strong, and
active; the other weak, timid, and domestic.  The latter
will die of hunger; while the other, a skilful hunter, an
expert fisherman, and an indefatigable husbandman, will overstock
himself with provisions.  What greater inequality, in this state
of Nature so dear to the heart of Jean Jacques, could be
imagined!  But let these two men meet and associate themselves:
the second immediately attends to the cooking, takes charge of
the household affairs, and sees to the provisions, beds, and
clothes; provided the stronger does not abuse his superiority by
enslaving and ill-treating his companion, their social condition
will be perfectly equal.  Thus, through exchange of services, the
inequalities of Nature neutralize each other, talents associate,
and forces balance.  Violence and inertia are found only among
the poor and the aristocratic.  And in that lies the philosophy
of political economy, the mystery of human brotherhood.  _Hic est
sapientia_.  Let us pass from the hypothetical state of pure
Nature into civilization.

The proprietor of the soil, who produces, I will suppose with the
economists, by lending his instrument, receives at the foundation
of a society so many bushels of grain for each acre of arable
land.  As long as labor is weak, and the variety of its products
small, the proprietor is powerful in comparison with the
laborers; he has ten times, one hundred times, the portion of an
honest man.  But let labor, by multiplying its inventions,
multiply its enjoyments and wants, and the proprietor, if he
wishes to enjoy the new products, will be obliged to reduce his
income every day; and since the first products tend rather to
depreciate than to rise in value,--in consequence of the
continual addition of the new ones, which may be regarded as
supplements of the first ones,--it follows that the idle
proprietor grows poor as fast as public prosperity increases. 
"Incomes" (I like to quote you, sir, because it is
impossible to give too good an authority for these
elementary principles of economy, and because I cannot express
them better myself), "incomes," you have said, "tend to disappear
as capital increases.  He who possesses to-day an income of
twenty thousand pounds is not nearly as rich as he who possessed
the same amount fifty years ago.  The time is coming when all
property will be a burden to the idle, and will necessarily pass
into the hands of the able and industrious.[1] . . ."

[1]  Lecture of December 22.

In order to live as a proprietor, or to consume without
producing, it is necessary, then, to live upon the labor of
another; in other words, it is necessary to kill the laborer.  It
is upon this principle that proprietors of those varieties of
capital which are of primary necessity increase their farm-rents
as fast as industry develops, much more careful of their
privileges in that respect, than those economists who, in order
to strengthen property, advocate a reduction of interest.  But
the crime is unavailing: labor and production increase; soon the
proprietor will be forced to labor, and then property is lost.

The proprietor is a man who, having absolute control of an
instrument of production, claims the right to enjoy the product
of the instrument without using it himself.  To this end he lends
it; and we have just seen that from this loan the laborer derives
a power of exchange, which sooner or later will destroy the right
of increase.  In the first place, the proprietor is obliged to
allow the laborer a portion of the product, for without it the
laborer could not live.  Soon the latter, through the development
of his industry, finds a means of regaining the greater portion
of that which he gives to the proprietor; so that at last, the
objects of enjoyment increasing continually, while the income of
the idler remains the same, the proprietor, having exhausted his
resources, begins to think of going to work himself.  Then the
victory of the producer is certain.  Labor commences to tip the
balance towards its own side, and commerce leads to equilibrium.

Man's instinct cannot err; as, in liberty, exchange of functions
leads inevitably to equality among men, so commerce--or exchange
of products, which is identical with exchange of functions--is a
new cause of equality.  As long as the proprietor does not labor,
however small his income, he enjoys a privilege; the laborer's
welfare may be equal to his, but equality of conditions does not
exist.  But as soon as the proprietor becomes a producer,--since
he can exchange his special product only with his tenant or his
_commandite_,--sooner or later this tenant, this _exploited_ man,
if violence is not done him, will make a profit out of the
proprietor, and will oblige him to restore--in the exchange of
their respective products--the interest on his capital.  So that,
balancing one injustice by another, the contracting parties will
be equal.  Labor and exchange, when liberty prevails, lead, then,
to equality of fortunes; mutuality of services neutralizes
privilege.  That is why despots in all ages and countries have
assumed control of commerce; they wished to prevent the labor of
their subjects from becoming an obstacle to the rapacity of

Up to this point, all takes place in the natural order; there is
no premeditation, no artifice.  The whole proceeding is governed
by the laws of necessity alone.  Proprietors and laborers act
only in obedience to their wants.  Thus, the exercise of the
right of increase, the art of robbing the producer, depends--
during this first period of civilization-- upon physical
violence, murder, and war.

But at this point a gigantic and complicated conspiracy is
hatched against the capitalists.  The weapon of the
EXPLOITERS is met by the EXPLOITED with the instrument of
commerce,--a marvellous invention, denounced at its origin by the
moralists who favored property, but inspired without doubt by the
genius of labor, by the Minerva of the proletaires.

The principal cause of the evil lay in the accumulation and
immobility of capital of all sorts,--an immobility which
prevented labor, enslaved and subalternized by haughty idleness,
from ever acquiring it.  The necessity was felt of dividing and
mobilizing wealth, of rendering it portable, of making it pass
from the hands of the possessor into those of the worker.  Labor
invented MONEY.  Afterwards, this invention was revived and
developed by the BILL OF EXCHANGE and the BANK.  For all
these things are substantially the same, and proceed from the
same mind.  The first man who conceived the idea of representing
a value by a shell, a precious stone, or a certain weight of
metal, was the real inventor of the Bank.  What is a piece of
money, in fact?  It is a bill of exchange written upon solid and
durable material, and carrying with it its own redemption.  By
this means, oppressed equality was enabled to laugh at the
efforts of the proprietors, and the balance of justice was
adjusted for the first time in the tradesman's shop.  The trap
was cunningly set, and accomplished its purpose so thoroughly
that in idle hands money became only dissolving wealth, a false
symbol, a shadow of riches.  An excellent economist and profound
philosopher was that miser who took as his motto, "WHEN A GUINEA
IS EXCHANGED, IT EVAPORATES."  So it may be said, "When real
estate is converted into money, it is lost."  This explains the
constant fact of history, that the nobles--the unproductive
proprietors of the soil--have every where been dispossessed by
industrial and commercial plebeians.  Such was especially
the case in the formation of the Italian republics, born, during
the middle ages, of the impoverishment of the seigniors.  I will
not pursue the interesting considerations which this matter
suggests; I could only repeat the testimony of historians, and
present economical demonstrations in an altered form.

The greatest enemy of the landed and industrial aristocracy to-
day, the incessant promoter of equality of fortunes, is the
BANKER.  Through him immense plains are divided, mountains
change their positions, forests are grown upon the public
squares, one hemisphere produces for another, and every corner of
the globe has its usufructuaries.  By means of the Bank new
wealth is continually created, the use of which (soon becoming
indispensable to selfishness) wrests the dormant capital from the
hands of the jealous proprietor.  The banker is at once the most
potent creator of wealth, and the main distributor of the
products of art and Nature.  And yet, by the strangest antinomy,
this same banker is the most relentless collector of profits,
increase, and usury ever inspired by the demon of property.  The
importance of the services which he renders leads us to endure,
though not without complaint, the taxes which he imposes. 
Nevertheless, since nothing can avoid its providential mission,
since nothing which exists can escape the end for which it exists
the banker (the modern Croesus) must some day become the restorer
of equality.  And following in your footsteps, sir, I have
already given the reason; namely, that profit decreases as
capital multiplies, since an increase of capital--calling for
more laborers, without whom it remains unproductive--always
causes an increase of wages.  Whence it follows that the Bank,
to-day the suction-pump of wealth, is destined to become the
steward of the human race.

The phrase EQUALITY OF FORTUNES chafes people, as if it
referred to a condition of the other world, unknown here below. 
There are some persons, radicals as well as moderates, whom the
very mention of this idea fills with indignation.  Let, then,
these silly aristocrats abolish mercantile societies and
insurance companies, which are founded by prudence for mutual
assistance.  For all these social facts, so spontaneous and free
from all levelling intentions, are the legitimate fruits of the
instinct of equality.

When the legislator makes a law, properly speaking he does not
MAKE it,--he does not CREATE it: he DESCRIBES it.  In
legislating upon the moral, civil, and political relations of
citizens, he does not express an arbitrary notion: he states the
general idea,--the higher principle which governs the matter
which he is considering; in a word, he is the proclaimer, not the
inventor, of the law.  So, when two or more men form among
themselves, by synallagmatic contract, an industrial or an
insurance association, they recognize that their interests,
formerly isolated by a false spirit of selfishness and
independence, are firmly connected by their inner natures, and by
the mutuality of their relations.  They do not really bind
themselves by an act of their private will: they swear to conform
henceforth to a previously existing social law hitherto
disregarded by them.  And this is proved by the fact that these
same men, could they avoid association, would not associate. 
Before they can be induced to unite their interests, they must
acquire full knowledge of the dangers of competition and
isolation; hence the experience of evil is the only thing which
leads them into society.

Now I say that, to establish equality among men, it is only
necessary to generalize the principle upon which insurance,
agricultural, and commercial associations are based.  I say
that competition, isolation of interests, monopoly,
privilege, accumulation of capital, exclusive enjoyment,
subordination of functions, individual production, the right of
profit or increase, the exploitation of man by man, and, to sum
up all these species under one head, that PROPERTY is the
principal cause of misery and crime.  And, for having arrived at
this offensive and anti-proprietary conclusion, I am an abhorred
monster; radicals and conservatives alike point me out as a fit
subject for prosecution; the academies shower their censures upon
me; the most worthy people regard me as mad; and those are
excessively tolerant who content themselves with the assertion
that I am a fool.  Oh, unhappy the writer who publishes the truth
otherwise than as a performance of a duty!  If he has counted
upon the applause of the crowd; if he has supposed that avarice
and self-interest would forget themselves in admiration of him;
if he has neglected to encase himself within three thicknesses of
brass,--he will fail, as he ought, in his selfish undertaking. 
The unjust criticisms, the sad disappointments, the despair of
his mistaken ambition, will kill him.

But, if I am no longer permitted to express my own personal
opinion concerning this interesting question of social
equilibrium, let me, at least, make known the thought of my
masters, and develop the doctrines advocated in the name of the

It never has been my intention, sir, in spite of the vigorous
censure which you, in behalf of your academy, have pronounced
upon the doctrine of equality of fortunes, to contradict and cope
with you.  In listening to you, I have felt my inferiority too
keenly to permit me to enter upon such a discussion.  And then,--
if it must be said,--however different your language is from
mine, we believe in the same principles; you share all my
opinions.  I do not mean to insinuate thereby, sir, that you have
(to use the phraseology of the schools) an ESOTERIC and an
EXOTERIC doctrine,--that, secretly believing in equality, you
defend property only from motives of prudence and by command.  I
am not rash enough to regard you as my colleague in my
revolutionary projects; and I esteem you too highly, moreover, to
suspect you of dissimulation.  I only mean that the truths which
methodical investigation and laborious metaphysical speculation
have painfully demonstrated to me, a profound acquaintance with
political economy and a long experience reveal to you.  While I
have reached my belief in equality by long reflection, and almost
in spite of my desires, you hold yours, sir, with all the zeal of
faith,--with all the spontaneity of genius.  That is why your
course of lectures at the Conservatory is a perpetual war upon
property and inequality of fortunes; that is why your most
learned investigations, your most ingenious analyses, and your
innumerable observations always conclude in a formula of progress
and equality; that is why, finally, you are never more admired
and applauded than at those moments of inspiration when, borne
upon the wings of science, you ascend to those lofty truths which
cause plebeian hearts to beat with enthusiasm, and which chill
with horror men whose intentions are evil.  How many times, from
the place where I eagerly drank in your eloquent words, have I
inwardly thanked Heaven for exempting you from the judgment
passed by St. Paul upon the philosophers of his time,--"They have
known the truth, and have not made it known"!  How many times
have I rejoiced at finding my own justification in each of your
discourses!  No, no; I neither wish nor ask for any thing which
you do not teach yourself.  I appeal to your numerous audience;
let it belie me if, in commenting upon you, I pervert your

A disciple of Say, what in your eyes is more anti-social than the
custom-houses; or, as you correctly call them, the barriers
erected by monopoly between nations?  What is more annoying, more
unjust, or more absurd, than this prohibitory system which
compels us to pay forty sous in France for that which in England
or Belgium would bring us but fifteen?  It is the custom-house,
you once said,[1] which arrests the development of civilization
by preventing the specialization of industries; it is the custom-
house which enriches a hundred monopolists by impoverishing
millions of citizens; it is the custom-house which produces
famine in the midst of abundance, which makes labor sterile by
prohibiting exchange, and which stifles production in a mortal
embrace.  It is the custom-house which renders nations jealous
of, and hostile to, each other; four-fifths of the wars of all
ages were caused originally by the custom-house.  And then, at
the highest pitch of your enthusiasm, you shouted:  "Yes, if to
put an end to this hateful system, it should become necessary for
me to shed the last drop of my blood, I would joyfully spring
into the gap, asking only time enough to give thanks to God for
having judged me worthy of martyrdom!"

[1]  Lecture of Jan. 15, 1841.

And, at that solemn moment, I said to myself:  "Place in every
department of France such a professor as that, and the revolution
is avoided."

But, sir, by this magnificent theory of liberty of commerce you
render military glory impossible,--you leave nothing for
diplomacy to do; you even take away the desire for conquest,
while abolishing profit altogether.  What matters it, indeed,
who restores Constantinople, Alexandria, and Saint Jean
d'Acre, if the Syrians, Egyptians, and Turks are free to choose
their masters; free to exchange their products with whom they
please?  Why should Europe get into such a turmoil over this
petty Sultan and his old Pasha, if it is only a question whether
we or the English shall civilize the Orient,--shall instruct
Egypt and Syria in the European arts, and shall teach them to
construct machines, dig canals, and build railroads?  For, if to
national independence free trade is added, the foreign influence
of these two countries is thereafter exerted only through a
voluntary relationship of producer to producer, or apprentice to

Alone among European powers, France cheerfully accepted the task
of civilizing the Orient, and began an invasion which was quite
apostolic in its character,--so joyful and high-minded do noble
thoughts render our nation!  But diplomatic rivalry, national
selfishness, English avarice, and Russian ambition stood in her
way.  To consummate a long-meditated usurpation, it was necessary
to crush a too generous ally: the robbers of the Holy Alliance
formed a league against dauntless and blameless France. 
Consequently, at the news of this famous treaty, there arose
among us a chorus of curses upon the principle of property, which
at that time was acting under the hypocritical formulas of the
old political system.  The last hour of property seemed to have
struck by the side of Syria; from the Alps to the ocean, from the
Rhine to the Pyrenees, the popular conscience was aroused.  All
France sang songs of war, and the coalition turned pale at the
sound of these shuddering cries:  "War upon the autocrat, who
wishes to be proprietor of the old world!  War upon the English
perjurer, the devourer of India, the poisoner of China, the
tyrant of Ireland, and the eternal enemy of France!  War
upon the allies who have conspired against liberty and equality! 
War! war! war upon property!"

By the counsel of Providence the emancipation of the nations is
postponed.  France is to conquer, not by arms, but by example. 
Universal reason does not yet understand this grand equation,
which, commencing with the abolition of slavery, and advancing
over the ruins of aristocracies and thrones, must end in equality
of rights and fortunes; but the day is not far off when the
knowledge of this truth will be as common as that of equality of
origin.  Already it seems to be understood that the Oriental
question is only a question of custom-houses.  Is it, then, so
difficult for public opinion to generalize this idea, and to
comprehend, finally, that if the suppression of custom-houses
involves the abolition of national property, it involves also, as
a consequence, the abolition of individual property?

In fact, if we suppress the custom-houses, the alliance of the
nations is declared by that very act; their solidarity is
recognized, and their equality proclaimed.  If we suppress the
custom-houses, the principle of association will not be slow in
reaching from the State to the province, from the province to the
city, and from the city to the workshop.  But, then, what becomes
of the privileges of authors and artists?  Of what use are the
patents for invention, imagination, amelioration, and
improvement?  When our deputies write a law of literary property
by the side of a law which opens a large breach in the custom-
house they contradict themselves, indeed, and pull down with one
hand what they build up with the other.  Without the custom-
house.  literary property does not exist, and the hopes of our
starving authors are frustrated.  For, certainly you do not
expect, with the good man Fourier, that literary property will
exercise itself in China to the profit of a French writer;
and that an ode of Lamartine, sold by privilege all over the
world, will bring in millions to its author!  The poet's work is
peculiar to the climate in which he lives; every where else the
reproduction of his works, having no market value, should be
frank and free.  But what! will it be necessary for nations to
put themselves under mutual surveillance for the sake of verses,
statues, and elixirs?  We shall always have, then, an excise, a
city-toll, rights of entrance and transit, custom-houses finally;
and then, as a reaction against privilege, smuggling.

Smuggling!  That word reminds me of one of the most horrible
forms of property.  "Smuggling," you have said, sir,[1] "is an
offence of political creation; it is the exercise of natural
liberty, defined as a crime in certain cases by the will of the
sovereign.  The smuggler is a gallant man,--a man of spirit, who
gaily busies himself in procuring for his neighbor, at a very low
price, a jewel, a shawl, or any other object of necessity or
luxury, which domestic monopoly renders excessively dear."  Then,
to a very poetical monograph of the smuggler, you add this dismal
conclusion,--that the smuggler belongs to the family of Mandrin,
and that the galleys should be his home!

[1] Lecture of Jan.  15, 1841.

But, sir, you have not called attention to the horrible
exploitation which is carried on in this way in the name of

It is said,--and I give this report only as an hypothesis and an
illustration, for I do not believe it,--it is said that the
present minister of finances owes his fortune to smuggling.  M.
Humann, of Strasbourg, sent out of France, it is said, enormous
quantities of sugar, for which he received the
bounty on exportation promised by the State; then, smuggling
this sugar back again, he exported it anew, receiving the bounty
on exportation a second time, and so on.  Notice, sir, that I do
not state this as a fact; I give it only as it is told, not
endorsing or even believing it.  My sole design is to fix the
idea in the mind by an example.  If I believed that a minister
had committed such a crime, that is, if I had personal and
authentic knowledge that he had, I would denounce M. Humann, the
minister of finances, to the Chamber of Deputies, and would
loudly demand his expulsion from the ministry.

But that which is undoubtedly false of M. Humann is true of many
others, as rich and no less honorable than he.  Smuggling,
organized on a large scale by the eaters of human flesh, is
carried on to the profit of a few pashas at the risk and peril of
their imprudent victims.  The inactive proprietor offers his
merchandise for sale; the actual smuggler risks his liberty, his
honor, and his life.  If success crowns the enterprise, the
courageous servant gets paid for his journey; the profit goes to
the coward.  If fortune or treachery delivers the instrument of
this execrable traffic into the hands of the custom-house
officer, the master-smuggler suffers a loss which a more
fortunate voyage will soon repair.  The agent, pronounced a
scoundrel, is thrown into prison in company with robbers; while
his glorious patron, a juror, elector, deputy, or minister, makes
laws concerning expropriation, monopoly, and custom-houses!

I promised, at the beginning of this letter, that no attack on
property should escape my pen, my only object being to justify
myself before the public by a general recrimination.  But I could
not refrain from branding so odious a mode of exploitation, and I
trust that this short digression will be pardoned.  Property
does not avenge, I hope, the injuries which smuggling suffers.

The conspiracy against property is general; it is flagrant; it
takes possession of all minds, and inspires all our laws; it lies
at the bottom of all theories.  Here the proletaire pursues
property in the street, there the legislator lays an interdict
upon it; now, a professor of political economy or of industrial
legislation,[1] paid to defend it, undermines it with redoubled
blows; at another--time, an academy calls it in question,[2] or
inquires as to the progress of its demolition.[3]  To-day there
is not an idea, not an opinion, not a sect, which does not dream
of muzzling property.  None confess it, because none are yet
conscious of it; there are too few minds capable of grasping
spontaneously this ensemble of causes and effects, of
principles and consequences, by which I try to demonstrate the
approaching disappearance of property; on the other hand, the
ideas that are generally formed of this right are too divergent
and too loosely determined to allow an admission, so soon, of the
contrary theory.  Thus, in the middle and lower ranks of
literature and philosophy, no less than among the common people,
it is thought that, when property is abolished, no one will be
able to enjoy the fruit of his labor; that no one will have any
thing peculiar to himself, and that tyrannical communism will be
established on the ruins of family and liberty!--chimeras, which
are to support for a little while longer the cause of privilege.

[1]  MM. Blanqui and Wolowski.

[2]  Subject proposed by the Fourth Class of the Institute, the
Academy of Moral and Political Sciences:  "What would be the
effect upon the working-class of the organization of labor,
according to the modern ideas of association?"

[3]  Subject proposed by the Academy of Besancon:  "The
economical and moral consequences in France, up to the present
time, and those which seem likely to appear in future, of the law
concerning the equal division of hereditary property between the

But, before determining precisely the idea of property, before
seeking amid the contradictions of systems for the common element
which must form the basis of the new right, let us cast a rapid
glance at the changes which, at the various periods of history,
property has undergone.  The political forms of nations are the
expression of their beliefs.  The mobility of these forms, their
modification and their destruction, are solemn experiences which
show us the value of ideas, and gradually eliminate from the
infinite variety of customs the absolute, eternal, and immutable
truth.  Now, we shall see that every political institution tends,
necessarily, and on pain of death, to equalize conditions; that
every where and always equality of fortunes (like equality of
rights) has been the social aim, whether the plebeian classes
have endeavored to rise to political power by means of property,
or whether--rulers already--they have used political power to
overthrow property.  We shall see, in short, by the progress of
society, that the consummation of justice lies in the extinction
of individual domain.

For the sake of brevity, I will disregard the testimony of
ecclesiastical history and Christian theology: this subject
deserves a separate treatise, and I propose hereafter to return
to it.  Moses and Jesus Christ proscribed, under the names of
usury and inequality,[1] all sorts of profit and increase.  The
church itself, in its purest teachings, has always condemned
property; and when I attacked, not only the authority of the
church, but also its infidelity to justice, I did it to the glory
of religion.  I wanted to provoke a peremptory
reply, and to pave the way for Christianity's triumph, in
spite of the innumerable attacks of which it is at present the
object.  I hoped that an apologist would arise forthwith, and,
taking his stand upon the Scriptures, the Fathers, the canons,
and the councils and constitutions of the Popes, would
demonstrate that the church always has maintained the doctrine of
equality, and would attribute to temporary necessity the
contradictions of its discipline.  Such a labor would serve the
cause of religion as well as that of equality.  We must know,
sooner or later, whether Christianity is to be regenerated in the
church or out of it, and whether this church accepts the
reproaches cast upon it of hatred to liberty and antipathy to
progress.  Until then we will suspend judgment, and content
ourselves with placing before the clergy the teachings of

[1]  {GREEK,  ?n  n  `},--greater property.  The Vulgate
translates it avaritia.

When Lycurgus undertook to make laws for Sparta, in what
condition did he find this republic?  On this point all
historians agree.  The people and the nobles were at war.  The
city was in a confused state, and divided by two parties,--the
party of the poor, and the party of the rich.  Hardly escaped
from the barbarism of the heroic ages, society was rapidly
declining.  The proletariat made war upon property, which, in its
turn, oppressed the proletariat.  What did Lycurgus do?  His
first measure was one of general security, at the very idea of
which our legislators would tremble.  He abolished all debts;
then, employing by turns persuasion and force, he induced the
nobles to renounce their privileges, and re-established equality.

Lycurgus, in a word, hunted property out of Lacedaemon, seeing no
other way to harmonize liberty, equality, and law.  I certainly
should not wish France to follow the example of Sparta; but it is
remarkable that the most ancient of Greek legislators,
thoroughly acquainted with the nature and needs of the
people, more capable than any one else of appreciating the
legitimacy of the obligations which he, in the exercise of his
absolute authority, cancelled; who had compared the legislative
systems of his time, and whose wisdom an oracle had proclaimed,--
it is remarkable, I say, that Lycurgus should have judged the
right of property incompatible with free institutions, and should
have thought it his duty to preface his legislation by a coup
d'etat which destroyed all distinctions of fortune.

Lycurgus understood perfectly that the luxury, the love of
enjoyments, and the inequality of fortunes, which property
engenders, are the bane of society; unfortunately the means which
he employed to preserve his republic were suggested to him by
false notions of political economy, and by a superficial
knowledge of the human heart.  Accordingly, property, which this
legislator wrongly confounded with wealth, reentered the city
together with the swarm of evils which he was endeavoring to
banish; and this time Sparta was hopelessly corrupted.

"The introduction of wealth," says M. Pastoret, "was one of the
principal causes of the misfortunes which they experienced. 
Against these, however, the laws had taken extraordinary
precautions, the best among which was the inculcation of morals
which tended to suppress desire."

The best of all precautions would have been the anticipation of
desire by satisfaction.  Possession is the sovereign remedy for
cupidity, a remedy which would have been the less perilous to
Sparta because fortunes there were almost equal, and conditions
were nearly alike.  As a general thing, fasting and abstinence
are bad teachers of moderation.

"There was a law," says M. Pastoret again, "to prohibit the
rich from wearing better clothing than the poor, from eating more
delicate food, and from owning elegant furniture, vases, carpets,
fine houses," &c.  Lycurgus hoped, then, to maintain equality by
rendering wealth useless.  How much wiser he would have been if,
in accordance with his military discipline, he had organized
industry and taught the people to procure by their own labor the
things which he tried in vain to deprive them of.  In that case,
enjoying happy thoughts and pleasant feelings, the citizen would
have known no other desire than that with which the legislator
endeavored to inspire him,--love of honor and glory, the triumphs
of talent and virtue.

"Gold and all kinds of ornaments were forbidden the women." 
Absurd.  After the death of Lycurgus, his institutions became
corrupted; and four centuries before the Christian era not a
vestige remained of the former simplicity.  Luxury and the thirst
for gold were early developed among the Spartans in a degree as
intense as might have been expected from their enforced poverty
and their inexperience in the arts.  Historians have accused
Pausanias, Lysander, Agesilaus, and others of having corrupted
the morals of their country by the introduction of wealth
obtained in war.  It is a slander.  The morals of the Spartans
necessarily grew corrupt as soon as the Lacedaemonian poverty
came in contact with Persian luxury and Athenian elegance. 
Lycurgus, then, made a fatal mistake in attempting to inspire
generosity and modesty by enforcing vain and proud simplicity.

"Lycurgus was not frightened at idleness!  A Lacedemonian,
happening to be in Athens (where idleness was forbidden) during
the punishment of a citizen who had been found guilty, asked to
see the Athenian thus condemned for having exercised the rights
of a free man. . . .  It was one of the principles of Lycurguss,
acted upon for several centuries, that free men should not follow
lucrative professions. . . .  The women disdained domestic
labor; they did not spin their wool themselves, as did the other
Greeks [they did not, then, read Homer!]; they left their slaves
to make their clothing for them."--Pastoret:  History of

Could any thing be more contradictory?  Lycurgus proscribed
property among the citizens, and founded the means of subsistence
on the worst form of property,--on property obtained by force. 
What wonder, after that, that a lazy city, where no industry was
carried on, became a den of avarice?  The Spartans succumbed the
more easily to the allurements of luxury and Asiatic
voluptuousness, being placed entirely at their mercy by their own
coarseness.  The same thing happened to the Romans, when military
success took them out of Italy,--a thing which the author of the
prosopopoeia of Fabricius could not explain.  It is not the
cultivation of the arts which corrupts morals, but their
degradation, induced by inactive and luxurious opulence.  The
instinct of property is to make the industry of Daedalus, as well
as the talent of Phidias, subservient to its own fantastic whims
and disgraceful pleasures.  Property, not wealth, ruined the

When Solon appeared, the anarchy caused by property was at its
height in the Athenian republic.  "The inhabitants of Attica were
divided among themselves as to the form of government.  Those who
lived on the mountains (the poor) preferred the popular form;
those of the plain (the middle class), the oligarchs; those by
the sea coast, a mixture of oligarchy and democracy.  Other
dissensions were arising from the inequality of fortunes.  The
mutual antagonism of the rich and poor had become so violent,
that the one-man power seemed the only safe-guard against the
revolution with which the republic was threatened."  (Pastoret: 
History of Legislation.)

Quarrels between the rich and the poor, which seldom occur in
monarchies, because a well established power suppresses
dissensions, seem to be the life of popular governments. 
Aristotle had noticed this.  The oppression of wealth submitted
to agrarian laws, or to excessive taxation; the hatred of the
lower classes for the upper class, which is exposed always to
libellous charges made in hopes of confiscation,--these were the
features of the Athenian government which were especially
revolting to Aristotle, and which caused him to favor a limited
monarchy.  Aristotle, if he had lived in our day, would have
supported the constitutional government.  But, with all deference
to the Stagirite, a government which sacrifices the life of the
proletaire to that of the proprietor is quite as irrational as
one which supports the former by robbing the latter; neither of
them deserve the support of a free man, much less of a

Solon followed the example of Lycurgus.  He celebrated his
legislative inauguration by the abolition of debts,--that is, by
bankruptcy.  In other words, Solon wound up the governmental
machine for a longer or shorter time depending upon the rate of
interest.  Consequently, when the spring relaxed and the chain
became unwound, the republic had either to perish, or to recover
itself by a second bankruptcy.  This singular policy was pursued
by all the ancients.  After the captivity of Babylon, Nehemiah,
the chief of the Jewish nation, abolished debts; Lycurgus
abolished debts; Solon abolished debts; the Roman people, after
the expulsion of the kings until the accession of the Caesars,
struggled with the Senate for the abolition of debts. 
Afterwards, towards the end of the republic, and long after the
establishment of the empire, agriculture being abandoned, and the
provinces becoming depopulated in consequence of the excessive
rates of interest, the emperors freely granted the lands to
whoever would cultivate them,--that is, they abolished debts.  No
one, except Lycurgus, who went to the other extreme, ever
perceived that the great point was, not to release debtors by a
coup d'etat, but to prevent the contraction of debts in future.

On the contrary, the most democratic governments were always
exclusively based upon individual property; so that the social
element of all these republics was war between the citizens.

Solon decreed that a census should be taken of all fortunes,
regulated political rights by the result, granted to the larger
proprietors more influence, established the balance of powers,--
in a word, inserted in the constitution the most active leaven of
discord; as if, instead of a legislator chosen by the people, he
had been their greatest enemy.  Is it not, indeed, the height of
imprudence to grant equality of political rights to men of
unequal conditions?  If a manufacturer, uniting all his workmen
in a joint-stock company, should give to each of them a
consultative and deliberative voice,--that is, should make all of
them masters,--would this equality of mastership secure continued
inequality of wages?  That is the whole political system of
Solon, reduced to its simplest expression.

"In giving property a just preponderance," says M. Pastoret,
"Solon repaired, as far as he was able, his first official act,--
the abolition of debts. . . .  He thought he owed it to public
peace to make this great sacrifice of acquired rights and natural
equity.  But the violation of individual property and written
contracts is a bad preface to a public code."

In fact, such violations are always cruelly punished.  In '89 and
'93, the possessions of the nobility and the clergy were
confiscated, the clever proletaires were enriched; and to-day the
latter, having become aristocrats, are making us pay dearly
for our fathers' robbery.  What, therefore, is to be done now? 
It is not for us to violate right, but to restore it.  Now, it
would be a violation of justice to dispossess some and endow
others, and then stop there.  We must gradually lower the rate of
interest, organize industry, associate laborers and their
functions, and take a census of the large fortunes, not for the
purpose of granting privileges, but that we may effect their
redemption by settling a life-annuity upon their proprietors.  We
must apply on a large scale the principle of collective
production, give the State eminent domain over all capital! make
each producer responsible, abolish the custom-house, and
transform every profession and trade into a public function. 
Thereby large fortunes will vanish without confiscation or
violence; individual possession will establish itself, without
communism, under the inspection of the republic; and equality of
conditions will no longer depend simply on the will of citizens.

Of the authors who have written upon the Romans, Bossuet and
Montesquieu occupy prominent positions in the first rank; the
first being generally regarded as the father of the philosophy of
history, and the second as the most profound writer upon law and
politics.  Nevertheless, it could be shown that these two great
writers, each of them imbued with the prejudices of their century
and their cloth, have left the question of the causes of the rise
and fall of the Romans precisely where they found it.

Bossuet is admirable as long as he confines himself to
description: witness, among other passages, the picture which he
has given us of Greece before the Persian War, and which seems to
have inspired "Telemachus;" the parallel between Athens and
Sparta, drawn twenty times since Bossuet; the description of the
character and morals of the ancient Romans; and, finally,
the sublime peroration which ends the "Discourse on Universal
History."  But when the famous historian deals with causes, his
philosophy is at fault.

"The tribunes always favored the division of captured lands, or
the proceeds of their sale, among the citizens.  The Senate
steadfastly opposed those laws which were damaging to the State,
and wanted the price of lands to be awarded to the public

Thus, according to Bossuet, the first and greatest wrong of civil
wars was inflicted upon the people, who, dying of hunger,
demanded that the lands, which they had shed their blood to
conquer, should be given to them for cultivation.  The
patricians, who bought them to deliver to their slaves, had more
regard for justice and the public interests.  How little affects
the opinions of men!  If the roles of Cicero and the Gracchi
had been inverted, Bossuet, whose sympathies were aroused by the
eloquence of the great orator more than by the clamors of the
tribunes, would have viewed the agrarian laws in quite a
different light.  He then would have understood that the interest
of the treasury was only a pretext; that, when the captured lands
were put up at auction, the patricians hastened to buy them, in
order to profit by the revenues from them,--certain, moreover,
that the price paid would come back to them sooner or later, in
exchange either for supplies furnished by them to the republic,
or for the subsistence of the multitude, who could buy only of
them, and whose services at one time, and poverty at another,
were rewarded by the State.  For a State does not hoard; on the
contrary, the public funds always return to the people.  If,
then, a certain number of men are the sole dealers in articles of
primary necessity, it follows that the public treasury, in
passing and repassing through their hands, deposits and
accumulates real property there.

When Menenius related to the people his fable of the limbs and
the stomach, if any one had remarked to this story-teller that
the stomach freely gives to the limbs the nourishment which it
freely receives, but that the patricians gave to the plebeians
only for cash, and lent to them only at usury, he undoubtedly
would have silenced the wily senator, and saved the people from a
great imposition.  The Conscript Fathers were fathers only of
their own line.  As for the common people, they were regarded as
an impure race, exploitable, taxable, and workable at the
discretion and mercy of their masters.

As a general thing, Bossuet shows little regard for the people. 
His monarchical and theological instincts know nothing but
authority, obedience, and alms-giving, under the name of charity.

This unfortunate disposition constantly leads him to mistake
symptoms for causes; and his depth, which is so much admired, is
borrowed from his authors, and amounts to very little, after all.

When he says, for instance, that "the dissensions in the
republic, and finally its fall, were caused by the jealousies of
its citizens, and their love of liberty carried to an extreme and
intolerable extent," are we not tempted to ask him what caused
those JEALOUSIES?--what inspired the people with that lOVE OF
LIBERTY, EXTREME AND INTOLERABLE?  It would be useless to reply,
The corruption of morals; the disregard for the ancient poverty;
the debaucheries, luxury, and class jealousies; the seditious
character of the Gracchi, &c.  Why did the morals become corrupt,
and whence arose those eternal dissensions between the patricians
and the plebeians?

In Rome, as in all other places, the dissension between the rich
and the poor was not caused directly by the desire for wealth
(people, as a general thing, do not covet that which they deem it
illegitimate to acquire), but by a natural instinct of the
plebeians, which led them to seek the cause of their adversity in
the constitution of the republic.  So we are doing to-day;
instead of altering our public economy, we demand an electoral
reform.  The Roman people wished to return to the social compact;
they asked for reforms, and demanded a revision of the laws, and
a creation of new magistracies.  The patricians, who had nothing
to complain of, opposed every innovation.  Wealth always has been
conservative.  Nevertheless, the people overcame the resistance
of the Senate; the electoral right was greatly extended; the
privileges of the plebeians were increased,--they had their
representatives, their tribunes, and their consuls; but,
notwithstanding these reforms, the republic could not be saved. 
When all political expedients had been exhausted, when civil war
had depleted the population, when the Caesars had thrown their
bloody mantle over the cancer which was consuming the empire,--
inasmuch as accumulated property always was respected, and since
the fire never stopped, the nation had to perish in the flames. 
The imperial power was a compromise which protected the property
of the rich, and nourished the proletaires with wheat from Africa
and Sicily: a double error, which destroyed the aristocrats by
plethora and the commoners by famine.  At last there was but one
real proprietor left,--the emperor,--whose dependent, flatterer,
parasite, or slave, each citizen became; and when this proprietor
was ruined, those who gathered the crumbs from under his table,
and laughed when he cracked his jokes, perished also.

Montesquieu succeeded no better than Bossuet in fathoming the
causes of the Roman decline; indeed, it may be said that the
president has only developed the ideas of the bishop.  If the
Romans had been more moderate in their conquests, more just to
their allies, more humane to the vanquished; if the nobles
had been less covetous, the emperors less lawless, the people
less violent, and all classes less corrupt; if . . . &c.,--
perhaps the dignity of the empire might have been preserved, and
Rome might have retained the sceptre of the world!  That is all
that can be gathered from the teachings of Montesquieu.  But the
truth of history does not lie there; the destinies of the world
are not dependent upon such trivial causes.  The passions of men,
like the contingencies of time and the varieties of climate,
serve to maintain the forces which move humanity and produce all
historical changes; but they do not explain them.  The grain of
sand of which Pascal speaks would have caused the death of one
man only, had not prior action ordered the events of which this
death was the precursor.

Montesquieu has read extensively; he knows Roman history
thoroughly, is perfectly well acquainted with the people of whom
he speaks, and sees very clearly why they were able to conquer
their rivals and govern the world.  While reading him we admire
the Romans, but we do not like them; we witness their triumphs
without pleasure, and we watch their fall without sorrow. 
Montesquieu's work, like the works of all French writers, is
skilfully composed,--spirited, witty, and filled with wise
observations.  He pleases, interests, instructs, but leads to
little reflection; he does not conquer by depth of thought; he
does not exalt the mind by elevated reason or earnest feeling. 
In vain should we search his writings for knowledge of antiquity,
the character of primitive society, or a description of the
heroic ages, whose morals and prejudices lived until the last
days of the republic.  Vico, painting the Romans with their
horrible traits, represents them as excusable, because he shows
that all their conduct was governed by preexisting ideas and
customs, and that they were informed, so to speak, by a
superior genius of which they were unconscious; in Montesquieu,
the Roman atrocity revolts, but is not explained.  Therefore, as
a writer, Montesquieu brings greater credit upon French
literature; as a philosopher, Vico bears away the palm.

Originally, property in Rome was national, not private.  Numa was
the first to establish individual property by distributing the
lands captured by Romulus.  What was the dividend of this
distribution effected by Numa?  What conditions were imposed upon
individuals, what powers reserved to the State?  None whatever. 
Inequality of fortunes, absolute abdication by the republic of
its right of eminent domain over the property of citizens,--such
were the first results of the division of Numa, who justly may be
regarded as the originator of Roman revolutions.  He it was who
instituted the worship of the god Terminus,--the guardian of
private possession, and one of the most ancient gods of Italy. 
It was Numa who placed property under the protection of Jupiter;
who, in imitation of the Etrurians, wished to make priests of the
land-surveyors; who invented a liturgy for cadastral operations,
and ceremonies of consecration for the marking of boundaries,--
who, in short, made a religion of property.[1]  All these fancies
would have been more beneficial than dangerous, if the holy king
had not forgotten one essential thing; namely, to fix the amount
that each citizen could possess, and on what conditions he could
possess it.  For, since it is the essence of property to
continually increase by accession and profit, and since the
lender will take advantage of every opportunity to apply this
principle inherent in property, it follows that properties tend,
by means of their natural energy and the religious respect which
protects them, to absorb each other, and fortunes to increase or
diminish to an indefinite extent,--a process which necessarily
results in the ruin of the people, and the fall of the republic. 
Roman history is but the development of this law.

[1]  Similar or analogous customs have existed among all nations.
Consult, among other works, "Origin of French Law," by M.
Michelet; and "Antiquities of German Law," by Grimm.

Scarcely had the Tarquins been banished from Rome and the
monarchy abolished, when quarrels commenced between the orders. 
In the year 494 B.C., the secession of the commonalty to the Mons
Sacer led to the establishment of the tribunate.  Of what did the
plebeians complain?  That they were poor, exhausted by the
interest which they paid to the proprietors,--_foeneratoribus;_
that the republic, administered for the benefit of the nobles,
did nothing for the people; that, delivered over to the mercy of
their creditors, who could sell them and their children, and
having neither hearth nor home, they were refused the means of
subsistence, while the rate of interest was kept at its highest
point, &c.  For five centuries, the sole policy of the Senate was
to evade these just complaints; and, notwithstanding the energy
of the tribunes, notwithstanding the eloquence of the Gracchi,
the violence of Marius, and the triumph of Caesar, this execrable
policy succeeded only too well.  The Senate always temporized;
the measures proposed by the tribunes might be good, but they
were inopportune.  It admitted that something should be done; but
first it was necessary that the people should resume the
performance of their duties, because the Senate could not yield
to violence, and force must be employed only by the law.  If the
people--out of respect for legality--took this beautiful advice,
the Senate conjured up a difficulty; the reform was postponed,
and that was the end of it.  On the contrary, if the demands of
the proletaires became too pressing, it declared a foreign
war, and neighboring nations were deprived of their liberty, to
maintain the Roman aristocracy.

But the toils of war were only a halt for the plebeians in their
onward march towards pauperism.  The lands confiscated from the
conquered nations were immediately added to the domain of the
State, to the ager publicus; and, as such, cultivated for the
benefit of the treasury; or, as was more often the case, they
were sold at auction.  None of them were granted to the
proletaires, who, unlike the patricians and knights, were not
supplied by the victory with the means of buying them.  War never
enriched the soldier; the extensive plundering has been done
always by the generals.  The vans of Augereau, and of twenty
others, are famous in our armies; but no one ever heard of a
private getting rich.  Nothing was more common in Rome than
charges of peculation, extortion, embezzlement, and brigandage,
carried on in the provinces at the head of armies, and in other
public capacities.  All these charges were quieted by intrigue,
bribery of the judges, or desistance of the accuser.  The culprit
was allowed always in the end to enjoy his spoils in peace; his
son was only the more respected on account of his father's
crimes.  And, in fact, it could not be otherwise.  What would
become of us, if every deputy, peer, or public functionary should
be called upon to show his title to his fortune!

"The patricians arrogated the exclusive enjoyment of the ager
publicus; and, like the feudal seigniors, granted some portions
of their lands to their dependants,--a wholly precarious
concession, revocable at the will of the grantor.  The plebeians,
on the contrary, were entitled to the enjoyment of only a little
pasture-land left to them in common: an utterly unjust state of
things, since, in consequence of it, taxation--_census_--weighed
more heavily upon the poor than upon the rich.  The patrician, in
fact, always exempted himself from the tithe which he owed
as the price and as the acknowledgment of the concession of
domain; and, on the other hand, paid no taxes on his
POSSESSIONS, if, as there is good reason to believe, only
citizens' property was taxed."--Laboulaye: History of Property.

In order thoroughly to understand the preceding quotation, we
must know that the estates of CITIZENS--that is, estates
independent of the public domain, whether they were obtained in
the division of Numa, or had since been sold by the questors--
were alone regarded as PROPERTY; upon these a tax, or _cense_,
was imposed.  On the contrary, the estates obtained by
concessions of the public domain, of the ager publicus (for
which a light rent was paid), were called POSSESSIONS.  Thus,
among the Romans, there was a RIGHT OF PROPERTY and a RIGHT OF
POSSESSION regulating the administration of all estates.  Now,
what did the proletaires wish?  That the jus possessionis--the
simple right of possession--should be extended to them at the
expense, as is evident, not of private property, but of the
public domain,--agri publici.  The proletaires, in short,
demanded that they should be tenants of the land which they had
conquered.  This demand, the patricians in their avarice never
would accede to.  Buying as much of this land as they could, they
afterwards found means of obtaining the rest as POSSESSIONS. 
Upon this land they employed their slaves.  The people, who could
not buy, on account of the competition of the rich, nor hire,
because--cultivating with their own hands--they could not promise
a rent equal to the revenue which the land would yield when
cultivated by slaves, were always deprived of possession and

Civil wars relieved, to some extent, the sufferings of the
multitude.  "The people enrolled themselves under the banners of
the ambitious, in order to obtain by force that which the
law refused them,--property.  A colony was the reward of a
victorious legion.  But it was no longer the ager publicus
only; it was all Italy that lay at the mercy of the legions.  The
ager publicus disappeared almost entirely, . . . but the cause
of the evil--accumulated property--became more potent than ever."
(Laboulaye:  History of Property.)

The author whom I quote does not tell us why this division of
territory which followed civil wars did not arrest the
encroachments of accumulated property; the omission is easily
supplied.  Land is not the only requisite for cultivation; a
working-stock is also necessary,--animals, tools, harnesses, a
house, an advance, &c.  Where did the colonists, discharged by
the dictator who rewarded them, obtain these things?  From the
purse of the usurers; that is, of the patricians, to whom all
these lands finally returned, in consequence of the rapid
increase of usury, and the seizure of estates.  Sallust, in his
account of the conspiracy of Catiline, tells us of this fact. 
The conspirators were old soldiers of Sylla, who, as a reward for
their services, had received from him lands in Cisalpine Gaul,
Tuscany, and other parts of the peninsula Less than twenty years
had elapsed since these colonists, free of debt, had left the
service and commenced farming; and already they were crippled by
usury, and almost ruined.  The poverty caused by the exactions of
creditors was the life of this conspiracy which well-nigh
inflamed all Italy, and which, with a worthier chief and fairer
means, possibly would have succeeded.  In Rome, the mass of the
people were favorable to the conspirators--_cuncta plebes
Catilinae incepta probabat;_ the allies were weary of the
patricians' robberies; deputies from the Allobroges (the
Savoyards) had come to Rome to appeal to the Senate in behalf of
their fellow-citizens involved in debt; in short, the complaint
against the large proprietors was universal.  "We call men
and gods to witness," said the soldiers of Catiline, who were
Roman citizens with not a slave among them, "that we have taken
arms neither against the country, nor to attack any one, but in
defence of our lives and liberties.  Wretched, poor, most of us
deprived of country, all of us of fame and fortune, by the
violence and cruelty of usurers, we have no rights, no property,
no liberty."[1]

{NOTE: footnote needs spell-checked}
[1]  _Dees hominesque  testamur,  nos arma neque  contra patriam
cepisse neque quo periculum aliis  faceremus, sed uti corpora
nostra ab injuria tuta forent, qui miseri, egentes, violentia
atque crudelitate foeneraterum, plerique patriae, sed omncsfarna
atque fortunis expertes sumus; neque cuiquam nostrum licuit, more
majorum, lege uti, neque, amisso patrimonio, libferum corpus
habere._--Sallus: Bellum Catilinarium.

The bad reputation of Catiline, and his atrocious designs, the
imprudence of his accomplices, the treason of several, the
strategy of Cicero, the angry outbursts of Cato, and the terror
of the Senate, baffled this enterprise, which, in furnishing a
precedent for expeditions against the rich, would perhaps have
saved the republic, and given peace to the world.  But Rome could
not evade her destiny; the end of her expiations had not come.  A
nation never was known to anticipate its punishment by a sudden
and unexpected conversion.  Now, the long-continued crimes of the
Eternal City could not be atoned for by the massacre of a few
hundred patricians.  Catiline came to stay divine vengeance;
therefore his conspiracy failed.

The encroachment of large proprietors upon small proprietors, by
the aid of usury, farm-rent, and profits of all sorts, was common
throughout the empire.  The most honest citizens invested their
money at high rates of interest.[1]  Cato, Cicero, Brutus, all
the stoics so noted for their frugality, _viri frugi_,--
Seneca, the teacher of virtue,--levied enormous taxes in the
provinces, under the name of usury; and it is something
remarkable, that the last defenders of the republic, the proud
Pompeys, were all usurious aristocrats, and oppressors of the
poor.  But the battle of Pharsalus, having killed men only,
without touching institutions, the encroachments of the large
domains became every day more active.  Ever since the birth of
Christianity, the Fathers have opposed this invasion with all
their might.  Their writings are filled with burning curses upon
this crime of usury, of which Christians are not always innocent.

[1]  Fifty, sixty, and eighty per cent.--Course of M. Blanqui.

St. Cyprian complains of certain bishops of his time, who,
absorbed in disgraceful stock-jobbing operations, abandoned their
churches, and went about the provinces appropriating lands by
artifice and fraud, while lending money and piling up interests
upon interests.[1]  Why, in the midst of this passion for
accumulation, did not the possession of the public land, like
private property, become concentrated in a few hands?

{NOTE: footnote needs spell-checked}
[1]  _Episcopi plurimi, quos et  hortamento esse oportet caeteris
et exemplo, divina prouratione contempta, procuratores rerum
saeularium fieri, derelicta cathedra, plebe leserta, per alienas
provincias oberrantes, negotiationis quaestuosae nundinas au
uucu-, pari, esurientibus in ecclesia fratribus habere argentum
largitur velle,  fundos insidi.sis fraudibus rapere, usuris
multiplicantibus faenus augere._--Cyprian: De Lapsis.

{NOTE: what does [2]refer to? This is at bottom of pg 341 in MS}
[2]  In this passage, St. Cyprian alludes to lending on mortgages
and to compound interest.

By law, the domain of the State was inalienable, and consequently
possession was always revocable; but the edict of the praetor
continued it indefinitely, so that finally the possessions of the
patricians were transformed into absolute property, though the
name, possessions, was still applied to them.  This conversion,
instigated by senatorial avarice; owed its accomplishment to the
most deplorable and indiscreet policy.  If, in the time of
Tiberius Gracchus, who wished to limit each citizen's possession
of the ager publicus to five hundred acres, the amount of this
possession had been fixed at as much as one family could
cultivate, and granted on the express condition that the
possessor should cultivate it himself, and should lease
it to no one, the empire never would have been desolated by large
estates; and possession, instead of increasing property, would
have absorbed it.  On what, then, depended the establishment and
maintenance of equality in conditions and fortunes?  On a more
equitable division of the ager publicus, a wiser distribution
of the right of possession.

I insist upon this point, which is of the utmost importance,
because it gives us an opportunity to examine the history of this
individual possession, of which I said so much in my first
memoir, and which so few of my readers seem to have understood. 
The Roman republic--having, as it did, the power to dispose
absolutely of its territory, and to impose conditions upon
possessors--was nearer to liberty and equality than any nation
has been since.  If the Senate had been intelligent and just,--
if, at the time of the retreat to the Mons Sacer, instead of the
ridiculous farce enacted by Menenius Agrippa, a solemn
renunciation of the right to acquire had been made by each
citizen on attaining his share of possessions,--the republic,
based upon equality of possessions and the duty of labor, would
not, in attaining its wealth, have degenerated in morals;
Fabricius would have enjoyed the arts without controlling
artists; and the conquests of the ancient Romans would have been
the means of spreading civilization, instead of the series of
murders and robberies that they were.

But property, having unlimited power to amass and to lease, was
daily increased by the addition of new possessions.  From the
time of Nero, six individuals were the sole proprietors of one-
half of Roman Africa.  In the fifth century, the wealthy
families had incomes of no less than two millions: some possessed
as many as twenty thousand slaves.  All the authors who have
written upon the causes of the fall of the Roman republic concur.

M. Giraud of Aix[1] quotes the testimony of Cicero, Seneca,
Plutarch, Olympiodorus, and Photius.  Under Vespasian and Titus,
Pliny, the naturalist, exclaimed:  "Large estates have ruined
Italy, and are ruining the provinces."

[1]  "Inquiries concerning Property among the Romans."

But it never has been understood that the extension of property
was effected then, as it is to-day, under the aegis of the law,
and by virtue of the constitution.  When the Senate sold captured
lands at auction, it was in the interest of the treasury and of
public welfare.  When the patricians bought up possessions and
property, they realized the purpose of the Senate's decrees; when
they lent at high rates of interest, they took advantage of a
legal privilege.  "Property," said the lender, "is the right to
enjoy even to the extent of abuse, _jus utendi et abutendi_; that
is, the right to lend at interest,--to lease, to acquire, and
then to lease and lend again."  But property is also the right to
exchange, to transfer, and to sell.  If, then, the social
condition is such that the proprietor, ruined by usury, may be
compelled to sell his possession, the means of his subsistence,
he will sell it; and, thanks to the law, accumulated property--
devouring and anthropophagous property--will be established.[1]

[1]  "Its acquisitive nature works rapidly in the sleep of the
law.  It is ready, at the word, to absorb every thing.  Witness
the famous equivocation about the ox-hide which, when cut up into
thongs, was large enough to enclose the site of Carthage. . . . 
The legend has reappeared several times since Dido. . . .  Such
is the love of man for the land.  Limited by tombs, measured by
the members of the human body, by the thumb, the foot, and the
arm, it harmonizes, as far as possible, with the very proportions
of man.  Nor is be satisfied yet: he calls Heaven to witness that
it is his; he tries to or his land, to give it the form of
heaven. . . .  In his titanic intoxication, he describes property
in the very terms which he employs in describing the
Almighty--_fundus_ _optimus maximus_. . . .  He shall make it his
couch, and they shall be separated no more,--{GREEK,  `  nf     g

h   g g ."}--Michelet:Origin of French Law.

The immediate and secondary cause of the decline of the Romans
was, then, the internal dissensions between the two orders of the
republic,--the patricians and the plebeians,--dissensions which
gave rise to civil wars, proscriptions, and loss of liberty, and
finally led to the empire; but the primary and mediate cause of
their decline was the establishment by Numa of the institution of

I end with an extract from a work which I have quoted several
times already, and which has recently received a prize from the
Academy of Moral and Political Sciences:--

"The concentration of property," says M. Laboulaye, "while
causing extreme poverty, forced the emperors to feed and amuse
the people, that they might forget their misery.  _Panem et
circenses:_ that was the Roman law in regard to the poor; a dire
and perhaps a necessary evil wherever a landed aristocracy

"To feed these hungry mouths, grain was brought from Africa and
the provinces, and distributed gratuitously among the needy.  In
the time of Caesar, three hundred and twenty thousand people were
thus fed.  Augustus saw that such a measure led directly to the
destruction of husbandry; but to abolish these distributions was
to put a weapon within the reach of the first aspirant for power.

The emperor shrank at the thought.

"While grain was gratuitous, agriculture was impossible.  Tillage
gave way to pasturage, another cause of depopulation, even among

"Finally, luxury, carried further and further every day, covered
the soil of Italy with elegant villas, which occupied whole
cantons.  Gardens and groves replaced the fields, and the free
population fled to the towns.  Husbandry disappeared almost
entirely, and with husbandry the husbandman.  Africa furnished
the wheat, and Greece the wine.  Tiberius complained bitterly of
this evil, which placed the lives of the Roman people at the
mercy of the winds and waves: that was his anxiety.  One day
later, and three hundred thousand starving men walked the
streets of Rome: that was a revolution.

"This decline of Italy and the provinces did not stop.  After the
reign of Nero, depopulation commenced in towns as noted as Antium
and Tarentum.  Under the reign of Pertinax, there was so much
desert land that the emperor abandoned it, even that which
belonged to the treasury, to whoever would cultivate it, besides
exempting the farmers from taxation for a period of ten years. 
Senators were compelled to invest one-third of their fortunes in
real estate in Italy; but this measure served only to increase
the evil which they wished to cure.  To force the rich to possess
in Italy was to increase the large estates which had ruined the
country.  And must I say, finally, that Aurelian wished to send
the captives into the desert lands of Etruria, and that
Valentinian was forced to settle the Alamanni on the fertile
banks of the Po?"

If the reader, in running through this book, should complain of
meeting with nothing but quotations from other works, extracts
from journals and public lectures, comments upon laws, and
interpretations of them, I would remind him that the very object
of this memoir is to establish the conformity of my opinion
concerning property with that universally held; that, far from
aiming at a paradox, it has been my main study to follow the
advice of the world; and, finally, that my sole pretension is to
clearly formulate the general belief.  I cannot repeat it too
often,--and I confess it with pride,--I teach absolutely nothing
that is new; and I should regard the doctrine which I advocate as
radically erroneous, if a single witness should testify against

Let us now trace the revolutions in property among the

As long as the German tribes dwelt in their forests, it did not
occur to them to divide and appropriate the soil.  The land was
held in common: each individual could plow, sow, and reap.  But,
when the empire was once invaded, they bethought themselves of
sharing the land, just as they shared spoils after a
victory.  "Hence," says M. Laboulaye, "the expressions _sortes
Burgundiorum Gothorum_ and {GREEK,          ` k    }; hence the
German words _allod_, allodium, and _loos_, lot, which are used
in all modern languages to designate the gifts of chance."

Allodial property, at least with the mass of coparceners, was
originally held, then, in equal shares; for all of the prizes
were equal, or, at least, equivalent.  This property, like that
of the Romans, was wholly individual, independent, exclusive,
transferable, and consequently susceptible of accumulation and
invasion.  But, instead of its being, as was the case among the
Romans, the large estate which, through increase and usury,
subordinated and absorbed the small one, among the Barbarians--
fonder of war than of wealth, more eager to dispose of persons
than to appropriate things--it was the warrior who, through
superiority of arms, enslaved his adversary.  The Roman wanted
matter; the Barbarian wanted man.  Consequently, in the feudal
ages, rents were almost nothing,--simply a hare, a partridge, a
pie, a few pints of wine brought by a little girl, or a Maypole
set up within the suzerain's reach.  In return, the vassal or
incumbent had to follow the seignior to battle (a thing which
happened almost every day), and equip and feed himself at his own
expense.  "This spirit of the German tribes--this spirit of
companionship and association--governed the territory as it
governed individuals.  The lands, like the men, were secured to a
chief or seignior by a bond of mutual protection and fidelity. 
This subjection was the labor of the German epoch which gave
birth to feudalism.  By fair means or foul, every proprietor who
could not be a chief was forced to be a vassal."  (Laboulaye:
History of Property.)

By fair means or foul, every mechanic who cannot be a master
has to be a journeyman; every proprietor who is not an invader
will be invaded; every producer who cannot, by the exploitation
of other men, furnish products at less than their proper value,
will lose his labor.  Corporations and masterships, which are
hated so bitterly, but which will reappear if we are not careful,
are the necessary results of the principle of competition which
is inherent in property; their organization was patterned
formerly after that of the feudal hierarchy, which was the result
of the subordination of men and possessions.

The times which paved the way for the advent of feudalism and the
reappearance of large proprietors were times of carnage and the
most frightful anarchy.  Never before had murder and violence
made such havoc with the human race.  The tenth century, among
others, if my memory serves me rightly, was called the CENTURY
OF IRON.  His property, his life, and the honor of his wife and
children always in danger the small proprietor made haste to do
homage to his seignior, and to bestow something on the church of
his freehold, that he might receive protection and security.

"Both facts and laws bear witness that from the sixth to the
tenth century the proprietors of small freeholds were gradually
plundered, or reduced by the encroachments of large proprietors
and counts to the condition of either vassals or tributaries. 
The Capitularies are full of repressive provisions; but the
incessant reiteration of these threats only shows the
perseverance of the evil and the impotency of the government. 
Oppression, moreover, varies but little in its methods.  The
complaints of the free proprietors, and the groans of the
plebeians at the time of the Gracchi, were one and the same.  It
is said that, whenever a poor man refused to give his estate to
the bishop, the curate, the count, the judge, or the centurion,
these immediately sought an opportunity to ruin him.  They made
him serve in the army until, completely ruined, he was induced,
by fair means or foul, to give up his freehold."--Laboulaye:
History of Property.

How many small proprietors and manufacturers have not been ruined
by large ones through chicanery, law-suits, and competition? 
Strategy, violence, and usury,--such are the proprietor's methods
of plundering the laborer.

Thus we see property, at all ages and in all its forms,
oscillating by virtue of its principle between two opposite
terms,--extreme division and extreme accumulation.

Property, at its first term, is almost null.  Reduced to personal
exploitation, it is property only potentially.  At its second
term, it exists in its perfection; then it is truly property.

When property is widely distributed, society thrives, progresses,
grows, and rises quickly to the zenith of its power.  Thus, the
Jews, after leaving Babylon with Esdras and Nehemiah, soon became
richer and more powerful than they had been under their kings. 
Sparta was in a strong and prosperous condition during the two or
three centuries which followed the death of Lycurgus.  The best
days of Athens were those of the Persian war; Rome, whose
inhabitants were divided from the beginning into two classes,--
the exploiters and the exploited,--knew no such thing as peace.

When property is concentrated, society, abusing itself, polluted,
so to speak, grows corrupt, wears itself out--how shall I express
this horrible idea?--plunges into long-continued and fatal

When feudalism was established, society had to die of the same
disease which killed it under the Caesars,--I mean accumulated
property.  But humanity, created for an immortal destiny, is
deathless; the revolutions which disturb it are purifying crises,
invariably followed by more vigorous health.  In the fifth
century, the invasion of the Barbarians partially restored the
world to a state of natural equality.  In the twelfth
century, a new spirit pervading all society gave the slave his
rights, and through justice breathed new life into the heart of
nations.  It has been said, and often repeated, that Christianity
regenerated the world.  That is true; but it seems to me that
there is a mistake in the date.  Christianity had no influence
upon Roman society; when the Barbarians came, that society had
disappeared.  For such is God's curse upon property; every
political organization based upon the exploitation of man . 
shall perish: slave-labor is death to the race of tyrants.  The
patrician families became extinct, as the feudal families did,
and as all aristocracies must.

It was in the middle ages, when a reactionary movement was
beginning to secretly undermine accumulated property, that the
influence of Christianity was first exercised to its full extent.

The destruction of feudalism, the conversion of the serf into the
commoner, the emancipation of the communes, and the admission of
the Third Estate to political power, were deeds accomplished by
Christianity exclusively.  I say Christianity, not
ecclesiasticism; for the priests and bishops were themselves
large proprietors, and as such often persecuted the villeins. 
Without the Christianity of the middle ages, the existence of
modern society could not be explained, and would not be possible.

The truth of this assertion is shown by the very facts which M.
Laboulaye quotes, although this author inclines to the opposite

[1]  M. Guizot denies that Christianity alone is entitled to the
glory of the abolition of slavery.  "To this end," he says, "many
causes were necessary,--the evolution of other ideas and other
principles of civilization."  So general an assertion cannot be
refuted.  Some of these ideas and causes should have been pointed
out, that we might judge whether their source was not wholly
Christian, or whether at least the Christian spirit had not
penetrated and thus fructified them.  Most of the emancipation
charters begin with these words:  "For the love of God and the
salvation of my soul."

Now, we did not commence to love God and to think of our
salvation until after the promulgation of the Gospel.

1. Slavery among the Romans.--"The Roman slave was, in the eyes
of the law, only a thing,--no more than an ox or a horse.  He had
neither property, family, nor personality; he was defenceless
against his master's cruelty, folly, or cupidity.  `Sell your
oxen that are past use,' said Cato, `sell your calves, your
lambs, your wool, your hides, your old ploughs, your old iron,
your old slave, and your sick slave, and all that is of no use to
you.'  When no market could be found for the slaves that were
worn out by sickness or old age, they were abandoned to
starvation.  Claudius was the first defender of this shameful

"Discharge your old workman," says the economist of the
proprietary school; "turn off that sick domestic, that toothless
and worn-out servant.  Put away the unserviceable beauty; to the
hospital with the useless mouths!"

"The condition of these wretched beings improved but little under
the emperors; and the best that can be said of the goodness of
Antoninus is that he prohibited intolerable cruelty, as an ABUSE
OF PROPERTY. _Expedit enim reipublicae ne quis re re sua male
utatur_, says Gaius.

"As soon as the Church met in council, it launched an anathema
against the masters who had exercised over their slaves this
terrible right of life and death.  Were not the slaves, thanks to
the right of sanctuary and to their poverty, the dearest proteges
of religion?  Constantine, who embodied in the laws
the grand ideas of Christianity, valued the life of a slave as
highly as that of a freeman, and declared the master, who had
intentionally brought death upon his slave, guilty of murder. 
Between this law and that of Antoninus there is a complete
revolution in moral ideas: the slave was a thing; religion has
made him a man."

Note the last words:  "Between the law of the Gospel and that of
Antoninus there is a complete revolution in moral ideas: the
slave was a thing; religion has made him a man."  The moral
revolution which transformed the slave into a
citizen was effected, then, by Christianity before the
Barbarians set foot upon the soil of the empire.  We have only to
trace the progress of this MORAL revolution in the PERSONNEL
of society.  "But," M. Laboulaye rightly says, "it did not change
the condition of men in a moment, any more than that of things;
between slavery and liberty there was an abyss which could not be
filled in a day; the transitional step was servitude."

Now, what was servitude?  In what did it differ from Roman
slavery, and whence came this difference?  Let the same author

2. Of servitude.--"I see, in the lord's manor, slaves charged
with domestic duties.  Some are employed in the personal service
of the master; others are charged with household cares.  The
women spin the wool; the men grind the grain, make the bread, or
practise, in the interest of the seignior, what little they know
of the industrial arts.  The master punishes them when he
chooses, kills them with impunity, and sells them and theirs like
so many cattle.  The slave has no personality, and consequently
no _wehrgeld_[1] peculiar to himself: he is a thing.  The
_wehrgeld_ belongs to the master as a compensation for the loss
of his property.  Whether the slave is killed or stolen, the
indemnity does not change, for the injury is the same; but the
indemnity increases or diminishes according to the value of the
serf.  In all these particulars Germanic slavery and Roman
servitude are alike."

[1]  _Weregild_,--the fine paid for the murder of a man.  So much
for a count, so much for a baron, so much for a freeman, so much
for a priest; for a slave, nothing.  His value was restored to
the proprietor.

This similarity is worthy of notice.  Slavery is always the same,
whether in a Roman villa or on a Barbarian farm.  The man, like
the ox and the ass, is a part of the live-stock; a price is set
upon his head; he is a tool without a conscience, a chattel
without personality, an impeccable, irresponsible being, who has
neither rights nor duties.

Why did his condition improve?

"In good season . . ." [when ?] "the serf began to be regarded as
a man; and, as such, the law of the Visigoths, under the
influence of Christian ideas, punished with fine or banishment
any one who maimed or killed him."

Always Christianity, always religion, though we should like to
speak of the laws only.  Did the philanthropy of the Visigoths
make its first appearance before or after the preaching of the
Gospel?  This point must be cleared up.

"After the conquest, the serfs were scattered over the large
estates of the Barbarians, each having his house, his lot, and
his peculium, in return for which he paid rent and performed
service.  They were rarely separated from their homes when their
land was sold; they and all that they had became the property of
the purchaser.  The law favored this realization of the serf, in
not allowing him to be sold out of the country."

What inspired this law, destructive not only of slavery, but of
property itself?  For, if the master cannot drive from his domain
the slave whom he has once established there, it follows that the
slave is proprietor, as well as the master.

"The Barbarians," again says M. Laboulaye, "were the first to
recognize the slave's rights of family and property,--two rights
which are incompatible with slavery."

But was this recognition the necessary result of the mode of
servitude in vogue among the Germanic nations previous to their
conversion to Christianity, or was it the immediate effect of
that spirit of justice infused with religion, by which the
seignior was forced to respect in the serf a soul equal to his
own, a brother in Jesus Christ, purified by the same baptism, and
redeemed by the same sacrifice of the Son of God in the form of
man?  For we must not close our eyes to the fact that, though the
Barbarian morals and the ignorance and carelessness of the
seigniors, who busied themselves mainly with wars and battles,
paying little or no attention to agriculture, may have been great
aids in the emancipation of the serfs, still the vital principle
of this emancipation was essentially Christian.  Suppose that the
Barbarians had remained Pagans in the midst of a Pagan world.  As
they did not change the Gospel, so they would not have changed
the polytheistic customs; slavery would have remained what it
was; they would have continued to kill the slaves who were
desirous of liberty, family, and property; whole nations would
have been reduced to the condition of Helots; nothing would have
changed upon the terrestrial stage, except the actors.  The
Barbarians were less selfish, less imperious, less dissolute, and
less cruel than the Romans.  Such was the nature upon which,
after the fall of the empire and the renovation of society,
Christianity was to act.  But this nature, grounded as in former
times upon slavery and war, would, by its own energy, have
produced nothing but war and slavery.

"GRADUALLY the serfs obtained the privilege of being judged by
the same standard as their masters. . . ."

When, how, and by what title did they obtain this privilege?

GRADUALLY their duties were regulated."

Whence came the regulations?  Who had the authority to introduce

"The master took a part of the labor of the serf,--three days,
for instance,--and left the rest to him.  As for Sunday, that
belonged to God."

And what established Sunday, if not religion?  Whence I infer,
that the same power which took it upon itself to suspend
hostilities and to lighten the duties of the serf was also
that which regulated the judiciary and created a sort of law
for the slave.

But this law itself, on what did it bear?--what was its
principle?--what was the philosophy of the councils and popes
with reference to this matter?  The reply to all these questions,
coming from me alone, would be distrusted.  The authority of M.
Laboulaye shall give credence to my words.  This holy philosophy,
to which the slaves were indebted for every thing, this
invocation of the Gospel, was an anathema against property.

The proprietors of small freeholds, that is, the freemen of the
middle class, had fallen, in consequence of the tyranny of the
nobles, into a worse condition than that of the tenants and
serfs.  "The expenses of war weighed less heavily upon the serf
than upon the freeman; and, as for legal protection, the
seigniorial court, where the serf was judged by his peers, was
far preferable to the cantonal assembly.  It was better to have a
noble for a seignior than for a judge."

So it is better to-day to have a man of large capital for an
associate than for a rival.  The honest tenant--the laborer who
earns weekly a moderate but constant salary--is more to be envied
than the independent but small farmer, or the poor licensed

At that time, all were either seigniors or serfs, oppressors or
oppressed.  "Then, under the protection of convents, or of the
seigniorial turret, new societies were formed, which silently
spread over the soil made fertile by their hands, and which
derived their power from the annihilation of the free classes
whom they enlisted in their behalf.  As tenants, these men
acquired, from generation to generation, sacred rights over the
soil which they cultivated in the interest of lazy and pillaging
masters.  As fast as the social tempest abated, it became
necessary to respect the union and heritage of these villeins,
who by their labor had truly prescribed the soil for their own

I ask how prescription could take effect where a contrary title
and possession already existed?  M. Laboulaye is a lawyer. 
Where, then, did he ever see the labor of the slave and the
cultivation by the tenant prescribe the soil for their own
profit, to the detriment of a recognized master daily acting as a
proprietor?  Let us not disguise matters.  As fast as the tenants
and the serfs grew rich, they wished to be independent and free;
they commenced to associate, unfurl their municipal banners,
raise belfries, fortify their towns, and refuse to pay their
seigniorial dues.  In doing these things they were perfectly
right; for, in fact, their condition was intolerable.  But in
law--I mean in Roman and Napoleonic law--their refusal to obey
and pay tribute to their masters was illegitimate.

Now, this imperceptible usurpation of property by the commonalty
was inspired by religion.

The seignior had attached the serf to the soil; religion granted
the serf rights over the soil.  The seignior imposed duties upon
the serf; religion fixed their limits.  The seignior could kill
the serf with impunity, could deprive him of his wife, violate
his daughter, pillage his house, and rob him of his savings;
religion checked his invasions: it excommunicated the seignior. 
Religion was the real cause of the ruin of feudal property.  Why
should it not be bold enough to-day to resolutely condemn
capitalistic property?  Since the middle ages, there has been no
change in social economy except in its forms; its relations
remain unaltered.

The only result of the emancipation of the serfs was that
property changed hands; or, rather, that new proprietors were
created.  Sooner or later the extension of privilege, far
from curing the evil, was to operate to the disadvantage of the
plebeians.  Nevertheless, the new social organization did not
meet with the same end in all places.  In Lombardy, for example,
where the people rapidly growing rich through commerce and
industry soon conquered the authorities, even to the exclusion of
the nobles,--first, the nobility became poor and degraded, and
were forced, in order to live and maintain their credit, to gain
admission to the guilds; then, the ordinary subalternization of
property leading to inequality of fortunes, to wealth and
poverty, to jealousies and hatreds, the cities passed rapidly
from the rankest democracy under the yoke of a few ambitious
leaders.  Such was the fate of most of the Lombardic cities,--
Genoa, Florence, Bologna, Milan, Pisa, &c,.--which afterwards
changed rulers frequently, but which have never since risen in
favor of liberty.  The people can easily escape from the tyranny
of despots, but they do not know how to throw off the effects of
their own despotism; just as we avoid the assassin's steel, while
we succumb to a constitutional malady.  As soon as a nation
becomes proprietor, either it must perish, or a foreign invasion
must force it again to begin its evolutionary round.[1]

[1]  The spirit of despotism and monopoly which animated the
communes has not escaped the attention of historians.  "The
formation of the commoners' associations," says Meyer, "did not
spring from the true spirit of liberty, but from the desire for
exemption from the charges of the seigniors, from individual
interests, and jealousy of the welfare of others. . . .  Each
commune or corporation opposed the creation of every other; and
this spirit increased to such an extent that the King of England,
Henry V., having established a university at Caen, in 1432, the
city and university of Paris opposed the registration of the

"The communes once organized, the kings treated them as superior
vassals.  Now, just as the under vassal had no communication with
the king except through the direct vassal, so also the
commoners could enter no complaints except through the commune.

"Like causes produce like effects.  Each commune became a small
and separate State, governed by a few citizens, who sought to
extend their authority over the others; who, in their turn,
revenged themselves upon the unfortunate inhabitants who had not
the right of citizenship.  Feudalism in unemancipated countries,
and oligarchy in the communes, made nearly the same ravages. 
There were sub-associations, fraternities, tradesmen's
associations in the communes, and colleges in the universities. 
The oppression was so great, that it was no rare thing to see the
inhabitants of a commune demanding its suppression. . . ."--
Meyer:  Judicial Institutions of Europe.

In France, the Revolution was much more gradual.  The communes,
in taking refuge under the protection of the kings, had found
them masters rather than protectors.  Their liberty had long
since been lost, or, rather, their emancipation had been
suspended, when feudalism received its death-blow at the hand of
Richelieu.  Then liberty halted; the prince of the feudatories
held sole and undivided sway.  The nobles, the clergy, the
commoners, the parliaments, every thing in short except a few
seeming privileges, were controlled by the king; who, like his
early predecessors, consumed regularly, and nearly always in
advance, the revenues of his domain,--and that domain was France.

Finally, '89 arrived; liberty resumed its march; a century and a
half had been required to wear out the last form of feudal

The French Revolution may be defined as _the substitution of real
right for personal right;_ that is to say, in the days of
feudalism, the value of property depended upon the standing of
the proprietor, while, after the Revolution, the regard for the
man was proportional to his property.  Now, we have seen from
what has been said in the preceding pages, that this recognition
of the right of laborers had been the constant aim of the serfs
and communes, the secret motive of their
efforts.  The movement of '89 was only the last stage of
that long insurrection.  But it seems to me that we have not paid
sufficient attention to the fact that the Revolution of 1789,
instigated by the same causes, animated by the same spirit,
triumphing by the same struggles, was consummated in Italy four
centuries ago.  Italy was the first to sound the signal of war
against feudalism; France has followed; Spain and England are
beginning to move; the rest still sleep.  If a grand example
should be given to the world, the day of trial would be much

Note the following summary of the revolutions of property, from
the days of the Roman Empire down to the present time:--

1. Fifth century.-- Barbarian invasions; division of the lands
of the empire into independent portions or freeholds.  

2. From the fifth to the eighth century.--Gradual concentration
of freeholds, or transformation of the small freeholds into
fiefs, feuds, tenures, &c.  Large properties, small possessions. 
Charlemagne (771-814) decrees that all freeholds are dependent
upon the king of France.

3. From the eighth to the tenth century.--The relation between
the crown and the superior dependents is broken; the latter
becoming freeholders, while the smaller dependents cease to
recognize the king, and adhere to the nearest suzerain.  Feudal

4. Twelfth century.--Movement of the serfs towards liberty;
emancipation of the communes.

5. Thirteenth century.--Abolition of personal right, and of the
feudal system in Italy.  Italian Republics.

6. Seventeenth century.--Abolition of feudalism in France
during Richelieu's ministry.  Despotism.
7. 1789.--Abolition of all privileges of birth, caste, provinces,
and corporations; equality of persons and of rights.  French

8. 1830.--The principle of concentration inherent in individual
property is REMARKED.  Development of the idea of association.

The more we reflect upon this series of transformations and
changes, the more clearly we see that they were necessary in
their principle, in their manifestations, and in their result.

It was necessary that inexperienced conquerors, eager for
liberty, should divide the Roman Empire into a multitude of
estates, as free and independent as themselves.

It was necessary that these men, who liked war even better than
liberty, should submit to their leaders; and, as the freehold
represented the man, that property should violate property.

It was necessary that, under the rule of a nobility always idle
when not fighting, there should grow up a body of laborers, who,
by the power of production, and by the division and circulation
of wealth, would gradually gain control over commerce, industry,
and a portion of the land, and who, having become rich, would
aspire to power and authority also.

It was necessary, finally, that liberty and equality of rights
having been achieved, and individual property still existing,
attended by robbery, poverty, social inequality, and oppression,
there should be an inquiry into the cause of this evil, and an
idea of universal association formed, whereby, on condition of
labor, all interests should be protected and consolidated.

"Evil, when carried too far," says a learned jurist, "cures
itself; and the political innovation which aims to increase the
power of the State, finally succumbs to the effects of its own
work.  The Germans, to secure their independence, chose chiefs;
and soon they were oppressed by their kings and noblemen.  The
monarchs surrounded themselves with volunteers, in order to
control the freemen; and they found themselves dependent upon
their proud vassals.  The _missi dominici_ were sent into the
provinces to maintain the power of the emperors, and to protect
the people from the oppressions of the noblemen; and not only did
they usurp the imperial power to a great extent, but they dealt
more severely with the inhabitants.  The freemen became vassals,
in order to get rid of military service and court duty; and they
were immediately involved in all the personal quarrels of their
seigniors, and compelled to do jury duty in their courts. . . . 
The kings protected the cities and the communes, in the hope of
freeing them from the yoke of the grand vassals, and of rendering
their own power more absolute; and those same communes have, in
several European countries, procured the establishment of a
constitutional power, are now holding royalty in check, and are
giving rise to a universal desire for political reform."--Meyer:
Judicial Institutions of Europe.

In recapitulation.

What was feudalism?  A confederation of the grand seign iors
against the villeins, and against the king.[1] What is
constitutional government?  A confederation of the bourgeoisie
against the laborers, and against the king.[2]

[1]  Feudalism was, in spirit and in its providential destiny, a
long protest of the human personality against the monkish
communism with which Europe, in the middle ages, was overrun. 
After the orgies of Pagan selfishness, society--carried to the
opposite extreme by the Christian religion--risked its life by
unlimited self-denial and absolute indifference to the pleasures
of the world.  Feudalism was the balance-weight which saved
Europe from the combined influence of the religious communities
and the Manlchean sects which had sprung up since the fourth
century under different names and in different countries.  Modern
civilization is indebted to feudalism for the definitive
establishment of the person, of marriage, of the family, and of
country.  (See, on this subject, Guizot, "History of Civilization
in Europe.")

[2]  This was made evident in July, 1830, and the years which
followed it, when the electoral bourgeoisie effected a
revolution in order to get control over the king, and suppressed
the emeutes in order to restrain the people.  The bourgeoisie,
through the jury, the magistracy, its position in the army, and
its municipal despotism, governs both royalty and the people.  It
is the bourgeoisie which, more than any other class, is
conservative and retrogressive.  It is the bourgeoisie which
makes and unmakes ministries.  It is the bourgeoisie which has
destroyed the influence of the Upper Chamber, and which will
dethrone the King whenever he shall become unsatisfactory to it. 
It is to please the  bourgeoisie  that royalty makes itself
unpopular.  It is the  bourgeoisie which is troubled at the hopes
of the people, and which hinders reform.  The journals of the
bourgeoisie are the ones which preach morality and religion to
us, while reserving scepticism and indifference for themselves;
which attack personal government, and favor the denial of the
electoral privilege to those who have no property.  The
bourgeoisie will accept any thing rather than the emancipation
of the proletariat.  As soon as it thinks its privileges
threatened, it will unite with royalty; and who does not know
that at this very moment these two antagonists have suspended
their quarrels? . . .  It has been a question of property.

How did feudalism end?  In the union of the communes and the
royal authority.  How will the bourgeoisie aristocracy end?  In
the union of the proletariat and the sovereign power.

What was the immediate result of the struggle of the communes and
the king against the seigniors?  The monarchical unity of Louis
XIV.  What will be the result of the struggle of the proletariat
and the sovereign power combined against the bourgeoisie?  The
absolute unity of the nation and the government.

It remains to be seen whether the nation, one and supreme, will
be represented in its executive and central power by ONE, by
FIVE, by ONE HUNDRED, or ONE THOUSAND; that is, it remains
to be seen, whether the royalty of the barricades intends to
maintain itself by the people, or without the people, and whether
Louis Philippe wishes his reign to be the most famous in all

I have made this statement as brief, but at the same time as
accurate as I could, neglecting facts and details, that I
might give the more attention to the economical relations of
society.  For the study of history is like the study of the human
organism; just as the latter has its system, its organs, and its
functions, which can be treated separately, so the former has its
ensemble, its instruments, and its causes.  Of course I do not
pretend that the principle of property is a complete resume of
all the social forces; but, as in that wonderful machine which we
call our body, the harmony of the whole allows us to draw a
general conclusion from the consideration of a single function or
organ, so, in discussing historical causes, I have been able to
reason with absolute accuracy from a single order of facts,
certain as I was of the perfect correlation which exists between
this special order and universal history.  As is the property of
a nation, so is its family, its marriage, its religion, its civil
and military organization, and its legislative and judicial
institutions.  History, viewed from this standpoint, is a grand
and sublime psychological study.

Well, sir, in writing against property, have I done more than
quote the language of history?  I have said to modern society,--
the daughter and heiress of all preceding societies,--_Age guod
agis:_ complete the task which for six thousand years you have
been executing under the inspiration and by the command of God;
hasten to finish your journey; turn neither to the right nor the
left, but follow the road which lies before you.  You seek
reason, law, unity, and discipline; but hereafter you can find
them only by stripping off the veils of your infancy, and ceasing
to follow instinct as a guide.  Awaken your sleeping conscience;
open your eyes to the pure light of reflection and science;
behold the phantom which troubled your dreams, and so long kept
you in a state of unutterable anguish.  Know thyself, O
long-deluded society[1] know thy enemy! . . .  And I have
denounced property.

We often hear the defenders of the right of domain quote in
defence of their views the testimony of nations and ages.  We can
judge, from what has just been said, how far this historical
argument conforms to the real facts and the conclusions of

To complete this apology, I must examine the various theories.

Neither politics, nor legislation, nor history, can be explained
and understood, without a positive theory which defines their
elements, and discovers their laws; in short, without a
philosophy.  Now, the two principal schools, which to this day
divide the attention of the world, do not satisfy this condition.

The first, essentially PRACTICAL in its character, confined to
a statement of facts, and buried in learning, cares very little
by what laws humanity develops itself.  To it these laws are the
secret of the Almighty, which no one can fathom without a
commission from on high.  In applying the facts of history to
government, this school does not reason; it does not anticipate;
it makes no comparison of the past with the present, in order to
predict the future.  In its opinion, the lessons of experience
teach us only to repeat old errors, and its whole philosophy
consists in perpetually retracing the tracks of antiquity,
instead of going straight ahead forever in the direction in which
they point.

The second school may be called either FATALISTIC or
PANTHEISTIC.  To it the movements of empires and the
revolutions of humanity are the manifestations, the incarnations,
of the Almighty.  The human race, identified with the divine
essence, wheels in a circle of appearances, informations,
and destructions, which necessarily excludes the idea of absolute
truth, and destroys providence and liberty.

Corresponding to these two schools of history, there are two
schools of jurisprudence, similarly opposed, and possessed of the
same peculiarities.

1. The practical and conventional school, to which the law is
always a creation of the legislator, an expression of his will, a
privilege which he condescends to grant,--in short, a gratuitous
affirmation to be regarded as judicious and legitimate, no matter
what it declares.

2. The fatalistic and pantheistic school, sometimes called the
historical school, which opposes the despotism of the first, and
maintains that law, like literature and religion, is always the
expression of society,--its manifestation, its form, the external
realization of its mobile spirit and its ever-changing

Each of these schools, denying the absolute, rejects thereby all
positive and a priori philosophy.

Now, it is evident that the theories of these two schools,
whatever view we take of them, are utterly unsatisfactory: for,
opposed, they form no dilemma,--that is, if one is false, it does
not follow that the other is true; and, united, they do not
constitute the truth, since they disregard the absolute, without
which there is no truth.  They are respectively a THESIS and an
ANTITHESIS.  There remains to be found, then, a SYNTHESIS,
which, predicating the absolute, justifies the will of the
legislator, explains the variations of the law, annihilates the
theory of the circular movement of humanity, and demonstrates its

The legists, by the very nature of their studies and in spite of
their obstinate prejudices, have been led irresistibly to
suspect that the absolute in the science of law is not as
chimerical as is commonly supposed; and this suspicion arose from
their comparison of the various relations which legislators have
been called upon to regulate.

M. Laboulaye, the laureate of the Institute, begins his "History
of Property" with these words:--

"While the law of contract, which regulates only the mutual
interests of men, has not varied for centuries (except in certain
forms which relate more to the proof than to the character of the
obligation), the civil law of property, which regulates the
mutual relations of citizens, has undergone several radical
changes, and has kept pace in its variations with all the
vicissitudes of society.  The law of contract, which holds
essentially to those principles of eternal justice which are
engraven upon the depths of the human heart, is the immutable
element of jurisprudence, and, in a certain sense, its
philosophy.  Property, on the contrary, is the variable element
of jurisprudence, its history, its policy."

Marvellous!  There is in law, and consequently in politics,
something variable and something invariable.  The invariable
element is obligation, the bond of justice, duty; the variable
element is property,--that is, the external form of law, the
subject-matter of the contract.  Whence it follows that the law
can modify, change, reform, and judge property.  Reconcile that,
if you can, with the idea of an eternal, absolute, permanent, and
indefectible right.

However, M. Laboulaye is in perfect accord with himself when he
adds, "Possession of the soil rests solely upon force until
society takes it in hand, and espouses the cause of the
possessor;"[1] and, a little farther, "The right of property is
not natural, but social.  The laws not only protect
property: they give it birth," &c.  Now, that which the law has
made the law can unmake; especially since, according to M.
Laboulaye,--an avowed partisan of the historical or pantheistic
school,--the law is not absolute, is not an idea, but a form.

[1]  The same opinion was recently expressed from the tribune by
one of our most honorable Deputies, M. Gauguier.  "Nature," said
he, "has not endowed man with landed property."  Changing the
adjective LANDED, which designates only a species into
CAPITALISTIC, which denotes the genus,--M. Gauguier made an
egalitaire profession of faith.

But why is it that property is variable, and, unlike obligation,
incapable of definition and settlement?  Before affirming,
somewhat boldly without doubt, that in right there are no
absolute principles (the most dangerous, most immoral, most
tyrannical--in a word, most anti-social--assertion imaginable),
it was proper that the right of property should be subjected to a
thorough examination, in order to put in evidence its variable,
arbitrary, and contingent elements, and those which are eternal,
legitimate, and absolute; then, this operation performed, it
became easy to account for the laws, and to correct all the

Now, this examination of property I claim to have made, and in
the fullest detail; but, either from the public's lack of
interest in an unrecommended and unattractive pamphlet, or--which
is more probable--from the weakness of exposition and want of
genius which characterize the work, the First Memoir on Property
passed unnoticed; scarcely would a few communists, having turned
its leaves, deign to brand it with their disapprobation.  You
alone, sir, in spite of the disfavor which I showed for your
economical predecessors in too severe a criticism of them,--you
alone have judged me justly; and although I cannot accept, at
least literally, your first judgment, yet it is to you alone that
I appeal from a decision too equivocal to be regarded as final.

It not being my intention to enter at present into a discussion
of principles, I shall content myself with estimating, from the
point of view of this simple and intelligible absolute, the
theories of property which our generation has produced.

The most exact idea of property is given us by the Roman law,
faithfully followed in this particular by the ancient legists. 
It is the absolute, exclusive, autocratic domain of a man over a
thing,--a domain which begins by USUCAPTION, is maintained by
POSSESSION, and finally, by the aid of PRESCRIPTION, finds
its sanction in the civil law; a domain which so identifies the
man with the thing, that the proprietor can say, "He who uses my
field, virtually compels me to labor for him; therefore he owes
me compensation."

I pass in silence the secondary modes by which property can be
acquired,--_tradition, sale, exchange, inheritance_, &c.,--which
have nothing in common with the origin of property.

Accordingly, Pothier said THE DOMAIN OF PROPERTY, and not
simply PROPERTY.  And the most learned writers on
jurisprudence--in imitation of the Roman praetor who recognized a
distinguished between the DOMAIN and the right of USUFRUCT,
USE, and HABITATION, which, reduced to its natural limits, is
the very expression of justice; and which is, in my opinion, to
supplant domanial property, and finally form the basis of all

But, sir, admire the clumsiness of systems, or rather the
fatality of logic!  While the Roman law and all the savants
inspired by it teach that property in its origin is the right of
first occupancy sanctioned by law, the modern legists,
dissatisfied with this brutal definition, claim that property is
based upon LABOR.  Immediately they infer that he who no longer
labors, but makes another labor in his stead, loses his right to
the earnings of the latter.  It is by virtue of this
principle that the serfs of the middle ages claimed a legal
right to property, and consequently to the enjoyment of political
rights; that the clergy were despoiled in '89 of their immense
estates, and were granted a pension in exchange; that at the
restoration the liberal deputies opposed the indemnity of one
billion francs.  "The nation," said they, "has acquired by
twenty-five years of labor and possession the property which the
emigrants forfeited by abandonment and long idleness: why should
the nobles be treated with more favor than the priests?"[1]

[1]  A professor of comparative legislation, M. Lerminier, has
gone still farther.  He has dared to say that the nation took
from the clergy all their possessions, not because of IDLENESS,
but because of UNWORTHINESS.  "You have civilized the world,"
cries this apostle of equality, speaking to the priests; "and for
that reason your possessions were given you.  In your hands they
were at once an instrument and a reward.  But you do not now
deserve them, for you long since ceased to civilize any thing
whatever. . . ."

This position is quite in harmony with my principles, and I
heartily applaud the indignation of M. Lerminier; but I do not
know that a proprietor was ever deprived of his property because
UNWORTHY; and as reasonable, social, and even useful as the
thing may seem, it is quite contrary to the uses and customs of

All usurpations, not born of war, have been caused and supported
by labor.  All modern history proves this, from the end of the
Roman empire down to the present day.  And as if to give a sort
of legal sanction to these usurpations, the doctrine of labor,
subversive of property, is professed at great length in the Roman
law under the name of PRESCRIPTION.

The man who cultivates, it has been said, makes the land his own;
consequently, no more property.  This was clearly seen by the old
jurists, who have not failed to denounce this novelty; while on
the other hand the young school hoots at the absurdity of the
first-occupant theory.  Others have presented themselves,
pretending to reconcile the two opinions by uniting them.  They
have failed, like all the _juste-milieux_ of the world, and are
laughed at for their eclecticism.  At present, the alarm is in
the camp of the old doctrine; from all sides pour IN DEFENCES OF
one of which, giving the lie to the rest, inflicts a fresh wound
upon property.

Consider, indeed, the inextricable embarrassments, the
contradictions, the absurdities, the incredible nonsense, in
which the bold defenders of property so lightly involve
themselves.  I choose the eclectics, because, those killed, the
others cannot survive.

M. Troplong, jurist, passes for a philosopher in the eyes of the
editors of "Le Droit."  I tell the gentlemen of "Le Droit" that,
in the judgment of philosophers, M. Troplong is only an advocate;
and I prove my assertion.

M. Troplong is a defender of progress.  "The words of the code,"
says he, "are fruitful sap with which the classic works of the
eighteenth century overflow.  To wish to suppress them . . . is
to violate the law of progress, and to forget that a science
which moves is a science which grows."[1]

[1]  "Treatise on Prescription."

Now, the only mutable and progressive portion of law, as we have
already seen, is that which concerns property.  If, then, you ask
what reforms are to be introduced into the right of property?  M.
Troplong makes no reply; what progress is to be hoped for? no
reply; what is to be the destiny of property in case of universal
association? no reply; what is the absolute and what the
contingent, what the true and what the false, in property? no
reply.  M. Troplong favors quiescence and _in statu quo_ in
regard to property.  What could be more unphilosophical in a
progressive philosopher?

Nevertheless, M. Troplong has thought about these things.  "There
are," he says, "many weak points and antiquated ideas in the
doctrines of modern authors concerning property: witness the
works of MM. Toullier and Duranton."  The doctrine of M. Troplong
promises, then, strong points, advanced and progressive ideas. 
Let us see; let us examine:--

"Man, placed in the presence of matter, is conscious of a power
over it, which has been given to him to satisfy the needs of his
being.  King of inanimate or unintelligent nature, he feels that
he has a right to modify it, govern it, and fit it for his use. 
There it is, the subject of property, which is legitimate only
when exercised over things, never when over persons."

M. Troplong is so little of a philosopher, that he does not even
know the import of the philosophical terms which he makes a show
of using.  He says of matter that it is the SUBJECT of
property; he should have said the OBJECT.  M. Troplong uses the
language of the anatomists, who apply the term SUBJECT to the
human matter used in their experiments.

This error of our author is repeated farther on:  "Liberty, which
overcomes matter, the subject of property, &c."  The SUBJECT of
property is man; its OBJECT is matter.  But even this is but a
slight mortification; directly we shall have some crucifixions.

Thus, according to the passage just quoted, it is in the
conscience and personality of man that the principle of property
must be sought.  Is there any thing new in this doctrine? 
Apparently it never has occurred to those who, since the days of
Cicero and Aristotle, and earlier, have maintained that THINGS
BELONG TO THE FIRST OCCUPANT, that occupation may be
exercised by beings devoid of conscience and personality. 
The human personality, though it may be the principle or the
subject of property, as matter is the object, is not the
CONDITION.  Now, it is this condition which we most need to
know.  So far, M. Troplong tells us no more than his masters, and
the figures with which he adorns his style add nothing to the old

Property, then, implies three terms:  The subject, the object,
and the condition.  There is no difficulty in regard to the first
two terms.  As to the third, the condition of property down to
this day, for the Greek as for the Barbarian, has been that of
first occupancy.  What now would you have it, progressive doctor?

"When man lays hands for the first time upon an object without a
master, he performs an act which, among individuals, is of the
greatest importance.  The thing thus seized and occupied
participates, so to speak, in the personality of him who holds
it.  It becomes sacred, like himself.  It is impossible to take
it without doing violence to his liberty, or to remove it without
rashly invading his person.  Diogenes did but express this truth
of intuition, when he said:  `Stand out of my light!'"

Very good! but would the prince of cynics, the very personal and
very haughty Diogenes, have had the right to charge another
cynic, as rent for this same place in the sunshine, a bone for
twenty-four hours of possession?  It is that which constitutes
the proprietor; it is that which you fail to justify.  In
reasoning from the human personality and individuality to the
right of property, you unconsciously construct a syllogism in
which the conclusion includes more than the premises, contrary to
the rules laid down by Aristotle.  The individuality of the human
person proves INDIVIDUAL POSSESSION, originally called
_proprietas_, in opposition to collective possession, _communio_.

It gives birth to the distinction between THINE and
MINE, true signs of equality, not, by any means, of
subordination.  "From equivocation to equivocation," says M.
Michelet,[1] "property would crawl to the end of the world; man
could not limit it, were not he himself its limit.  Where they
clash, there will be its frontier."  In short, individuality of
being destroys the hypothesis of communism, but it does not for
that reason give birth to domain,--that domain by virtue of which
the holder of a thing exercises over the person who takes his
place a right of prestation and suzerainty, that has always been
identified with property itself.

[1]  "Origin of French Law."

Further, that he whose legitimately acquired possession injures
nobody cannot be nonsuited without flagrant injustice, is a
truth, not of INTUITION, as M. Troplong says, but of INWARD
SENSATION,[1] which has nothing to do with property.

[1]  To honor one's parents, to be grateful to one's benefactors,
to neither kill nor steal,--truths of inward sensation.  To obey
God rather than men, to render to each that which is his; the
whole is greater than a part, a straight line is the shortest
road from one point to another,--truths of intuition.  All are a
priori but the first are felt by the conscience, and imply only
a simple act of the soul; the second are perceived by the reason,
and imply comparison and relation.  In short, the former are
sentiments, the latter are ideas.

M. Troplong admits, then, occupancy as a condition of property. 
In that, he is in accord with the Roman law, in accord with MM.
Toullier and Duranton; but in his opinion this condition is not
the only one, and it is in this particular that his doctrine goes
beyond theirs.

"But, however exclusive the right arising from sole occupancy,
does it not become still more so, when man has moulded matter by
his labor; when he has deposited in it a portion of himself, re-
creating it by his industry, and setting upon it the seal of his
intelligence and activity?  Of all conquests, that is the most
legitimate, for it is the price of labor.

He who should deprive a man of the thing thus remodelled,
thus humanized, would invade the man himself, and would inflict
the deepest wounds upon his liberty."

I pass over the very beautiful explanations in which M. Troplong,
discussing labor and industry, displays the whole wealth of his
eloquence.  M. Troplong is not only a philosopher, he is an
AND THE PASSIONS.  I might make sad work of his rhetoric, should
I undertake to dissect it; but I confine myself for the present
to his philosophy.

If M. Troplong had only known how to think and reflect, before
abandoning the original fact of occupancy and plunging into the
theory of labor, he would have asked himself:  "What is it to
occupy?"  And he would have discovered that OCCUPANCY is only a
generic term by which all modes of possession are expressed,--
seizure, station, immanence, habitation, cultivation, use,
consumption, &c.; that labor, consequently, is but one of a
thousand forms of occupancy.  He would have understood, finally,
that the right of possession which is born of labor is governed
by the same general laws as that which results from the simple
seizure of things.  What kind of a legist is he who declaims when
he ought to reason, who continually mistakes his metaphors for
legal axioms, and who does not so much as know how to obtain a
universal by induction, and form a category?

If labor is identical with occupancy, the only benefit which it
secures to the laborer is the right of individual possession of
the object of his labor; if it differs from occupancy, it gives
birth to a right equal only to itself,--that is, a right which
begins, continues, and ends, with the labor of the occupant.  It
is for this reason, in the words of the law, that one cannot
acquire a just title to a thing by labor alone.  He must also
hold it for a year and a day, in order to be regarded as its
possessor; and possess it twenty or thirty years, in order to
become its proprietor.

These preliminaries established, M. Troplong's whole structure
falls of its own weight, and the inferences, which he attempts to
draw, vanish.

"Property once acquired by occupation and labor, it naturally
preserves itself, not only by the same means, but also by the
refusal of the holder to abdicate; for from the very fact that it
has risen to the height of a right, it is its nature to
perpetuate itself and to last for an indefinite period. . . . 
Rights, considered from an ideal point of view, are imperishable
and eternal; and time, which affects only the contingent, can no
more disturb them than it can injure God himself."  It is
astonishing that our author, in speaking of the IDEAL, TIME,
and ETERNITY, did not work into his sentence the DIVINE WINGS
of Plato,--so fashionable to-day in philosophical works.

With the exception of falsehood, I hate nonsense more than any
thing else in the world.  PROPERTY ONCE ACQUIRED!  Good, if it
is acquired; but, as it is not acquired, it cannot be preserved. 
RIGHTS ARE ETERNAL!  Yes, in the sight of God, like the
archetypal ideas of the Platonists.  But, on the earth, rights
exist only in the presence of a subject, an object, and a
condition.  Take away one of these three things, and rights no
longer exist.  Thus, individual possession ceases at the death of
the subject, upon the destruction of the object, or in case of
exchange or abandonment.

Let us admit, however, with M. Troplong, that property is an
absolute and eternal right, which cannot be destroyed save by the
deed and at the will of the proprietor.  What are the
consequences which immediately follow from this position?

To show the justice and utility of prescription, M. Troplong
supposes the case of a bona fide possessor whom a proprietor,
long since forgotten or even unknown, is attempting to eject from
his possession.  "At the start, the error of the possessor was
excusable but not irreparable.  Pursuing its course and growing
old by degrees, it has so completely clothed itself in the colors
of truth, it has spoken so loudly the language of right, it has
involved so many confiding interests, that it fairly may be asked
whether it would not cause greater confusion to go back to the
reality than to sanction the fictions which it (an error, without
doubt) has sown on its way?  Well, yes; it must be confessed,
without hesitation, that the remedy would prove worse than the
disease, and that its application would lead to the most
outrageous injustice."

How long since utility became a principle of law?  When the
Athenians, by the advice of Aristides, rejected a proposition
eminently advantageous to their republic, but also utterly
unjust, they showed finer moral perception and greater clearness
of intellect than M. Troplong.  Property is an eternal right,
independent of time, indestructible except by the act and at the
will of the proprietor; and here this right is taken from the
proprietor, and on what ground?  Good God! on the ground of
ABSENCE!  Is it not true that legists are governed by caprice
in giving and taking away rights?  When it pleases these
gentlemen, idleness, unworthiness, or absence can invalidate a
right which, under quite similar circumstances, labor, residence,
and virtue are inadequate to obtain.  Do not be astonished that
legists reject the absolute.  Their good pleasure is law, and
their disordered imaginations are the real cause of the
EVOLUTIONS in jurisprudence.

"If the nominal proprietor should plead ignorance, his claim
would be none the more valid.  Indeed, his ignorance might arise
from inexcusable carelessness, etc."

What! in order to legitimate dispossession through prescription,
you suppose faults in the proprietor!  You blame his absence,--
which may have been involuntary; his neglect,--not knowing what
caused it; his carelessness,--a gratuitous supposition of your
own!  It is absurd.  One very simple observation suffices to
annihilate this theory.  Society, which, they tell us, makes an
exception in the interest of order in favor of the possessor as
against the old proprietor, owes the latter an indemnity; since
the privilege of prescription is nothing but expropriation for
the sake of public utility.

But here is something stronger:--

"In society a place cannot remain vacant with impunity.  A new
man arises in place of the old one who disappears or goes away;
he brings here his existence, becomes entirely absorbed, and
devotes himself to this post which he finds abandoned.  Shall the
deserter, then, dispute the honor of the victory with the soldier
who fights with the sweat standing on his brow, and bears the
burden of the day, in behalf of a cause which he deems just?"

When the tongue of an advocate once gets in motion, who can tell
where it will stop?  M. Troplong admits and justifies usurpation
in case of the ABSENCE of the proprietor, and on a mere
presumption of his CARELESSNESS.  But when the neglect is
authenticated; when the abandonment is solemnly and voluntarily
set forth in a contract in the presence of a magistrate; when the
proprietor dares to say, "I cease to labor, but I still claim a
share of the product,"--then the absentee's right of property is
protected; the usurpation of the possessor would be criminal;
farm-rent is the reward of idleness.  Where is, I do not say
the consistency, but, the honesty of this law?

Prescription is a result of the civil law, a creation of the
legislator.  Why has not the legislator fixed the conditions
differently?--why, instead of twenty and thirty years, is not a
single year sufficient to prescribe?--why are not voluntary
absence and confessed idleness as good grounds for dispossession
as involuntary absence, ignorance, or apathy?

But in vain should we ask M. Troplong, the philosopher, to tell
us the ground of prescription.  Concerning the code, M. Troplong
does not reason.  "The interpreter," he says, "must take things
as they are, society as it exists, laws as they are made: that is
the only sensible starting-point."  Well, then, write no more
books; cease to reproach your predecessors--who, like you, have
aimed only at interpretation of the law--for having remained in
the rear; talk no more of philosophy and progress, for the lie
sticks in your throat.

M. Troplong denies the reality of the right of possession; he
denies that possession has ever existed as a principle of
society; and he quotes M. de Savigny, who holds precisely the
opposite position, and whom he is content to leave unanswered. 
At one time, M. Troplong asserts that possession and property are
CONTEMPORANEOUS, and that they exist AT THE SAME TIME, which
implies that the RIGHT of property is based on the FACT of
possession,--a conclusion which is evidently absurd; at another,
PROPERTY,--an assertion which is contradicted by the customs of
many nations which cultivate the land without appropriating it;
by the Roman law, which distinguished so clearly between
POSSESSION and PROPERTY; and by our code itself, which makes
possession for twenty or thirty years the condition of property. 
Finally, M. Troplong goes so far as to maintain that the
Roman maxim, _Nihil comune habet proprietas cum possessione_--
which contains so striking an allusion to the possession of the
_ager publicus_, and which, sooner or later, will be again
accepted without qualification--expresses in French law only a
judicial axiom, a simple rule forbidding the union of an _action
possessoire_ with an _action petitoire_,--an opinion as
retrogressive as it is unphilosophical.

In treating of _actions possessoires_, M. Troplong is so
unfortunate or awkward that he mutilates economy through failure
to grasp its meaning "Just as property," he writes, "gave rise to
the action for revendication, so possession--the _jus
possessionis_--was the cause of possessory interdicts. . . . 
There were two kinds of interdicts,--the interdict _recuperandae
possessionis_, and the interdict _retinendae possessionis_,--
which correspond to our _complainte en cas de saisine et
nouvelete_.  There is also a third,--_adipiscendae
possessionis_,--of which the Roman law-books speak in connection
with the two others.  But, in reality, this interdict is not
possessory: for he who wishes to acquire possession by this means
does not possess, and has not possessed; and yet acquired
possession is the condition of possessory interdicts."  Why is
not an action to acquire possession equally conceivable with an
action to be reinstated in possession?  When the Roman plebeians
demanded a division of the conquered territory; when the
proletaires of Lyons took for their motto, _Vivre en travaillant,
ou mourir en combattant_ (to live working, or die fighting); when
the most enlightened of the modern economists claim for every man
the right to labor and to live,--they only propose this
interdict, _adipiscendae possessionis_, which embarrasses M.
Troplong so seriously.  And what is my object in pleading against
property, if not to obtain possession?  How is it that M.
Troplong--the legist, the orator, the philosopher--does not see
that logically this interdict must be admitted, since it is the
necessary complement of the two others, and the three united form
an indivisible trinity,--to RECOVER, to MAINTAIN, to
ACQUIRE?  To break this series is to create a blank, destroy
the natural synthesis of things, and follow the example of the
geometrician who tried to conceive of a solid with only two
dimensions.  But it is not astonishing that M. Troplong rejects
the third class of _actions possessoires_, when we consider that
he rejects possession itself.  He is so completely controlled by
his prejudices in this respect, that he is unconsciously led, not
to unite (that would be horrible in his eyes), but to identify
the _action possessoire_ with the _action petitoire_.  This could
be easily proved, were it not too tedious to plunge into these
metaphysical obscurities.

As an interpreter of the law, M. Troplong is no more successful
than as a philosopher.  One specimen of his skill in this
direction, and I am done with him:--

Code of Civil Procedure, Art. 23:  "_Actions possessoires_ are
only when commenced within the year of trouble by those who have
held possession for at least a year by an irrevocable title."

M. Troplong's comments:--

"Ought we to maintain--as Duparc, Poullain, and Lanjuinais would
have us--the rule _spoliatus ante omnia restituendus_, when an
individual, who is neither proprietor nor annual possessor, is
expelled by a third party, who has no right to the estate?  I
think not.  Art. 23 of the Code is general: it absolutely
requires that the plaintiff in _actions possessoires_ shall have
been in peaceable possession for a year at least.  That is the
invariable principle: it can in no case be modified.  And why
should it be set aside?  The plaintiff had no seisin; he had no
privileged possession; he had only a temporary occupancy,
insufficient to warrant in his favor the presumption of property,
which renders the annual possession so valuable.  Well! this _ae
facto_ occupancy he has lost; another is invested with it:
possession is in the hands of this new-comer.  Now, is not this a
case for the application of the principle, _In_ _pari causa
possesser potior habetur_?  Should not the actual possessor be
preferred to the evicted possessor?  Can he not meet the
complaint of his adversary by saying to him:  `Prove that you
were an annual possessor before me, for you are the plaintiff. 
As far as I am concerned, it is not for me to tell you how I
possess, nor how long I have possessed.  _Possideo quia
possideo_.  I have no other reply, no other defence.  When you
have shown that your action is admissible, then we will see
whether you are entitled to lift the veil which hides the origin
of my possession.'"

And this is what is honored with the name of jurisprudence and
philosophy,--the restoration of force.  What! when I have
"moulded matter by my labor" [I quote M. Troplong]; when I have
"deposited in it a portion of myself" [M. Troplong]; when I have
"re-created it by my industry, and set upon it the seal of my
intelligence" [M. Troplong],--on the ground that I have not
possessed it for a year, a stranger may dispossess me, and the
law offers me no protection!  And if M. Troplong is my judge, M.
Troplong will condemn me!  And if I resist my adversary,--if, for
this bit of mud which I may call MY FIELD, and of which they
wish to rob me, a war breaks out between the two competitors,--
the legislator will gravely wait until the stronger, having
killed the other, has had possession for a year!  No, no,
Monsieur Troplong! you do not understand the words of the law;
for I prefer to call in question your intelligence rather than
the justice of the legislator.  You are mistaken in your
application of the principle, _In pari causa possessor potior
habetur:_ the actuality of possession here refers to him who
possessed at the time when the difficulty arose, not to him who
possesses at the time of the complaint.  And when the code
prohibits the reception of _actions possessoires_, in cases where
the possession is not of a year's duration, it simply means that
if, before a year has elapsed, the holder relinquishes
possession, and ceases actually to occupy _in propria persona_,
he cannot avail himself of an _action possessoire_ against his
successor.  In a word, the code treats possession of less than a
year as it ought to treat all possession, however long it has
existed,--that is, the condition of property ought to be, not
merely seisin for a year, but perpetual seisin.

I will not pursue this analysis farther.  When an author bases
two volumes of quibbles on foundations so uncertain, it may be
boldly declared that his work, whatever the amount of learning
displayed in it, is a mess of nonsense unworthy a critic's

At this point, sir, I seem to hear you reproaching me for this
conceited dogmatism, this lawless arrogance, which respects
nothing, claims a monopoly of justice and good sense, and assumes
to put in the pillory any one who dares to maintain an opinion
contrary to its own.  This fault, they tell me, more odious than
any other in an author, was too prominent a characteristic of my
First Memoir, and I should do well to correct it.

It is important to the success of my defence, that I should
vindicate myself from this reproach; and since, while perceiving
in myself other faults of a different character, I still adhere
in this particular to my disputatious style, it is right that I
should give my reasons for my conduct.  I act, not from
inclination, but from necessity.

I say, then, that I treat my authors as I do for two reasons: a
REASON OF RIGHT, and a REASON OF INTENTION; both peremptory.

1. Reason of right.  When I preach equality of fortunes, I do not
advance an opinion more or less probable, a utopia more or less
ingenious, an idea conceived within my brain by means of
imagination only.  I lay down an absolute truth, concerning
which hesitation is impossible, modesty superfluous, and doubt

But, do you ask, what assures me that that which I utter is true?

What assures me, sir?  The logical and metaphysical processes
which I use, the correctness of which I have demonstrated by a
priori reasoning; the fact that I possess an infallible method
of investigation and verification with which my authors are
unacquainted; and finally, the fact that for all matters relating
to property and justice I have found a formula which explains all
legislative variations, and furnishes a key for all problems. 
Now, is there so much as a shadow of method in M. Toullier, M.
Troplong, and this swarm of insipid commentators, almost as
devoid of reason and moral sense as the code itself?  Do you give
the name of method to an alphabetical, chronological, analogical,
or merely nominal classification of subjects?  Do you give the
name of method to these lists of paragraphs gathered under an
arbitrary head, these sophistical vagaries, this mass of
contradictory quotations and opinions, this nauseous style, this
spasmodic rhetoric, models of which are so common at the bar,
though seldom found elsewhere?  Do you take for philosophy this
twaddle, this intolerable pettifoggery adorned with a few
scholastic trimmings?  No, no! a writer who respects himself,
never will consent to enter the balance with these manipulators
of law, misnamed JURISTS; and for my part I object to a

2. Reason of intention.  As far as I am permitted to divulge this
secret, I am a conspirator in an immense revolution, terrible to
charlatans and despots, to all exploiters of the poor and
credulous, to all salaried idlers, dealers in political panaceas
and parables, tyrants in a word of thought and of opinion.  I
labor to stir up the reason of individuals to insurrection
against the reason of authorities.

According to the laws of the society of which I am a member, all
the evils which afflict humanity arise from faith in external
teachings and submission to authority.  And not to go outside of
our own century, is it not true, for instance, that France is
plundered, scoffed at, and tyrannized over, because she speaks in
masses, and not by heads?  The French people are penned up in
three or four flocks, receiving their signal from a chief,
responding to the voice of a leader, and thinking just as he
says.  A certain journal, it is said, has fifty thousand
subscribers; assuming six readers to every subscriber, we have
three hundred thousand sheep browsing and bleating at the same
cratch.  Apply this calculation to the whole periodical press,
and you find that, in our free and intelligent France, there are
two millions of creatures receiving every morning from the
journals spiritual pasturage.  Two millions!  In other words, the
entire nation allows a score of little fellows to lead it by the

By no means, sir, do I deny to journalists talent, science, love
of truth, patriotism, and what you please.  They are very worthy
and intelligent people, whom I undoubtedly should wish to
resemble, had I the honor to know them.  That of which I
complain, and that which has made me a conspirator, is that,
instead of enlightening us, these gentlemen command us, impose
upon us articles of faith, and that without demonstration or
verification.  When, for example, I ask why these fortifications
of Paris, which, in former times, under the influence of certain
prejudices, and by means of a concurrence of extraordinary
circumstances supposed for the sake of the argument to have
existed, may perhaps have served to protect us, but which it is
doubtful whether our descendants will ever use,--when I ask, I
say, on what grounds they assimilate the future to a hypothetical
past, they reply that M. Thiers, who has a great mind, has
written upon this subject a report of admirable elegance and
marvellous clearness.  At this I become angry, and reply that M.
Thiers does not know what he is talking about.  Why, having
wanted no detached forts seven years ago, do we want them to-day?

"Oh! damn it," they say, "the difference is great; the first
forts were too near to us; with these we cannot be bombarded." 
You cannot be bombarded; but you can be blockaded, and will be,
if you stir.  What! to obtain blockade forts from the Parisians,
it has sufficed to prejudice them against bombardment forts!  And
they thought to outwit the government!  Oh, the sovereignty of
the people! . . .

"Damn it! M. Thiers, who is wiser than you, says that it would be
absurd to suppose a government making war upon citizens, and
maintaining itself by force and in spite of the will of the
people.  That would be absurd!"  Perhaps so: such a thing has
happened more than once, and may happen again.  Besides, when
despotism is strong, it appears almost legitimate.  However that
may be, they lied in 1833, and they lie again in 1841,--those who
threaten us with the bomb-shell.  And then, if M. Thiers is so
well assured of the intentions of the government, why does he not
wish the forts to be built before the circuit is extended?  Why
this air of suspicion of the government, unless an intrigue has
been planned between the government and M. Thiers?

"Damn it! we do not wish to be again invaded.  If Paris had been
fortified in 1815, Napoleon would not have been conquered!"  But
I tell you that Napoleon was not conquered, but sold; and that
if, in 1815, Paris had had fortifications, it would have been
with them as with the thirty thousand men of Grouchy, who were
misled during the battle.  It is still easier to surrender forts
than to lead soldiers.  Would the selfish and the cowardly
ever lack reasons for yielding to the enemy?

"But do you not see that the absolutist courts are provoked at
our fortifications?--a proof that they do not think as you do." 
You believe that; and, for my part, I believe that in reality
they are quite at ease about the matter; and, if they appear to
tease our ministers, they do so only to give the latter an
opportunity to decline.  The absolutist courts are always on
better terms with our constitutional monarchy, than our monarchy
with us.  Does not M. Guizot say that France needs to be defended
within as well as without?  Within! against whom?  Against
France.  O Parisians! it is but six months since you demanded
war, and now you want only barricades.  Why should the allies
fear your doctrines, when you cannot even control
yourselves? . . .  How could you sustain a siege, when you weep
over the absence of an actress?

"But, finally, do you not understand that, by the rules of modern
warfare, the capital of a country is always the objective point
of its assailants?  Suppose our army defeated on the Rhine,
France invaded, and defenceless Paris falling into the hands of
the enemy.  It would be the death of the administrative power;
without a head it could not live.  The capital taken, the nation
must submit.  What do you say to that?"

The reply is very simple.  Why is society constituted in such a
way that the destiny of the country depends upon the safety of
the capital?  Why, in case our territory be invaded and Paris
besieged, cannot the legislative, executive, and military powers
act outside of Paris?  Why this localization of all the vital
forces of France? . . .  Do not cry out upon decentralization. 
This hackneyed reproach would discredit only your own
intelligence and sincerity.  It is not a question of
decentralization; it is your political fetichism which I attack. 
Why should the national unity be attached to a certain place, to
certain functionaries, to certain bayonets?  Why should the Place
Maubert and the Palace of the Tuileries be the palladium of

Now let me make an hypothesis.

Suppose it were written in the charter, "In case the country be
again invaded, and Paris forced to surrender, the government
being annihilated and the national assembly dissolved, the
electoral colleges shall reassemble spontaneously and without
other official notice, for the purpose of appointing new
deputies, who shall organize a provisional government at Orleans.

If Orleans succumbs, the government shall reconstruct itself in
the same way at Lyons; then at Bordeaux, then at Bayonne, until
all France be captured or the enemy driven from the land.  For
the government may perish, but the nation never dies.  The king,
the peers, and the deputies massacred, VIVE LA FRANCE!"

Do you not think that such an addition to the charter would be a
better safeguard for the liberty and integrity of the country
than walls and bastions around Paris?  Well, then! do henceforth
for administration, industry, science, literature, and art that
which the charter ought to prescribe for the central government
and common defence.  Instead of endeavoring to render Paris
impregnable, try rather to render the loss of Paris an
insignificant matter.  Instead of accumulating about one point
academies, faculties, schools, and political, administrative, and
judicial centres; instead of arresting intellectual development
and weakening public spirit in the provinces by this fatal
agglomeration,--can you not, without destroying unity, distribute
social functions among places as well as among persons? 
Such a system--in allowing each province to participate in
political power and action, and in balancing industry,
intelligence, and strength in all parts of the country--would
equally secure, against enemies at home and enemies abroad, the
liberty of the people and the stability of the government.

Discriminate, then, between the centralization of functions and
the concentration of organs; between political unity and its
material symbol.

"Oh! that is plausible; but it is impossible!"--which means that
the city of Paris does not intend to surrender its privileges,
and that there it is still a question of property.

Idle talk!  The country, in a state of panic which has been
cleverly worked upon, has asked for fortifications.  I dare to
affirm that it has abdicated its sovereignty.  All parties are to
blame for this suicide,--the conservatives, by their acquiescence
in the plans of the government; the friends of the dynasty,
because they wish no opposition to that which pleases them, and
because a popular revolution would annihilate them; the
democrats, because they hope to rule in their turn.[1]  That
which all rejoice at having obtained is a means of future
repression.  As for the defence of the country, they are not
troubled about that.  The idea of tyranny dwells in
the minds of all, and brings together into one conspiracy all
forms of selfishness.  We wish the regeneration of society, but
we subordinate this desire to our ideas and convenience.  That
our approaching marriage may take place, that our business may
succeed, that our opinions may triumph, we postpone reform. 
Intolerance and selfishness lead us to put fetters upon liberty;
and, because we cannot wish all that God wishes, we would, if it
rested with us, stay the course of destiny rather than sacrifice
our own interests and self-love.  Is not this an instance where
the words of Solomon apply,--"_L'iniquite a menti a elle-meme_"?

[1]  Armand Carrel would have favored the fortification of the
capital.  "Le National" has said, again and again, placing the
name of its old editor by the side of the names of Napoleon and
Vauban.  What signifies this exhumation of an anti-popular
politician?  It signifies that Armand Carrel wished to make
government an individual and irremovable, but elective, property,
and that he wished this property to be elected, not by the
people, but by the army.  The political system of Carrel was
simply a reorganization of the pretorian guards.  Carrel also
hated the _pequins_.  That which he deplored in the revolution of
July was not, they say, the insurrection of the people, but the
victory of the people over the soldiers.  That is the reason why
Carrel, after 1830, would never support the patriots.  "Do you
answer me with a few regiments?" he asked.  Armand Carrel
regarded the army--the military power--as the basis of law and
government.  This man undoubtedly had a moral sense within him,
but he surely had no sense of justice.  Were he still in this
world, I declare it boldly, liberty would have no greater enemy
than Carrel.

It is said that on this question of the fortification of Paris
the staff of "Le National" are not agreed.  This would prove, if
proof were needed, that a journal may blunder and falsify,
without entitling any one to accuse its editors.  A journal is a
metaphysical being, for which no one is really responsible, and
which owes its existence solely to mutual concessions.  This idea
ought to frighten those worthy citizens who, because they borrow
their opinions from a journal, imagine that they belong to a
political party, and who have not the faintest suspicion that
they are really without a head.

For this reason, sir, I have enlisted in a desperate war against
every form of authority over the multitude.  Advance sentinel of
the proletariat, I cross bayonets with the celebrities of the
day, as well as with spies and charlatans.  Well, when I am
fighting with an illustrious adversary, must I stop at the end of
every phrase, like an orator in the tribune, to say "the learned
author," "the eloquent writer," "the profound publicist," and a
hundred other platitudes with which it is fashionable to mock
people?  These civilities seem to me no less insulting to the man
attacked than dishonorable to the aggressor.  But when, rebuking
an author, I say to him, "Citizen, your doctrine is absurd, and,
if to prove my assertion is an offence against you, I am guilty
of it," immediately the listener opens his ears; he is all
attention; and, if I do not succeed in convincing him, at least I
give his thought an impulse, and set him the wholesome example of
doubt and free examination.

Then do not think, sir, that, in tripping up the philosophy of
your very learned and very estimable confrere, M. Troplong, I
fail to appreciate his talent as a writer (in my opinion, he has
too much for a jurist); nor his knowledge, though it is too
closely confined to the letter of the law, and the reading of old
books.  In these particulars, M. Troplong offends on the side of
excess rather than deficiency.  Further, do not believe that I am
actuated by any personal animosity towards him, or that I have
the slightest desire to wound his self-love.  I know M. Troplong
only by his "Treatise on Prescription," which I wish he had not
written; and as for my critics, neither M. Troplong, nor any of
those whose opinion I value, will ever read me.  Once more, my
only object is to prove, as far as I am able, to this unhappy
French nation, that those who make the laws, as well as those who
interpret them, are not infallible organs of general, impersonal,
and absolute reason.

I had resolved to submit to a systematic criticism the semi-
official defence of the right of property recently put forth by
M. Wolowski, your colleague at the Conservatory.  With this view,
I had commenced to collect the documents necessary for each of
his lectures, but, soon perceiving that the ideas of the
professor were incoherent, that his arguments contradicted each
other, that one affirmation was sure to be overthrown by another,
and that in M. Wolowski's lucubrations the good was always
mingled with the bad, and being by nature a little suspicious, it
suddenly occurred to me that M. Wolowski was an advocate of
equality in disguise, thrown in spite of himself into the
position in which the patriarch Jacob pictures one of his sons,--
_inter duas clitellas_, between two stools, as the proverb says. 
In more parliamentary language, I saw clearly that M. Wolowski
was placed between his profound convictions on the one hand and
his official duties on the other, and that, in order to maintain
his position, he had to assume a certain slant.  Then I
experienced great pain at seeing the reserve, the circumlocution,
the figures, and the irony to which a professor of legislation,
whose duty it is to teach dogmas with clearness and precision,
was forced to resort; and I fell to cursing the society in which
an honest man is not allowed to say frankly what he thinks. 
Never, sir, have you conceived of such torture: I seemed to be
witnessing the martyrdom of a mind.  I am going to give you an
idea of these astonishing meetings, or rather of these scenes of

Monday, Nov.  20, 1840.--The professor declares, in brief,--1.
That the right of property is not founded upon occupation, but
upon the impress of man; 2. That every man has a natural and
inalienable right to the use of matter.

Now, if matter can be appropriated, and if, notwithstanding, all
men retain an inalienable right to the use of this matter, what
is property?--and if matter can be appropriated only by labor,
how long is this appropriation to continue?--questions that will
confuse and confound all jurists whatsoever.

Then M. Wolowski cites his authorities.  Great God! what
witnesses he brings forward!  First, M. Troplong, the great
metaphysician, whom we have discussed; then, M. Louis Blanc,
editor of the "Revue du Progres," who came near being tried
by jury for publishing his "Organization of Labor," and who
escaped from the clutches of the public prosecutor only by a
juggler's trick;[1] Corinne,--I mean Madame de Stael,--who, in an
ode, making a poetical comparison of the land with the waves, of
the furrow of a plough with the wake of a vessel, says "that
property exists only where man has left his trace," which makes
property dependent upon the solidity of the elements; Rousseau,
the apostle of liberty and equality, but who, according to M.
Wolowski, attacked property only AS A JOKE, and in order to
point a paradox; Robespierre, who prohibited a division of the
land, because he regarded such a measure as a rejuvenescence of
property, and who, while awaiting the definitive organization of
the republic, placed all property in the care?? of the people,--
that is, transferred the right of eminent domain from the
individual to society; Babeuf, who wanted property for the
nation, and communism for the citizens; M. Considerant, who
favors a division of landed property into shares,--that is, who
wishes to render property nominal and fictitious: the whole being
intermingled with jokes and witticisms (intended undoubtedly to
lead people away from the HORNETS' NESTS) at the expense of the
adversaries of the right of property!

[1]  In a very short article, which was read by M. Wolowski, M.
Louis Blanc declares, in substance, that he is not a communist
(which I easily believe); that one must be a fool to attack
property (but he does not say why); and that it is very necessary
to guard against confounding property with its abuses.  When
Voltaire overthrew Christianity, he repeatedly avowed that he had
no spite against religion, but only against its abuses.

November 26.--M. Wolowski supposes this objection: Land, like
water, air, and light, is necessary to life, therefore it cannot
be appropriated; and he replies: The importance of landed
property diminishes as the power of industry increases.

Good! this importance DIMINISHES, but it does not DISAPPEAR;
and this, of itself, shows landed property to be illegitimate. 
Here M. Wolowski pretends to think that the opponents of property
refer only to property in land, while they merely take it as a
term of comparison; and, in showing with wonderful clearness the
absurdity of the position in which he places them, he finds a way
of drawing the attention of his hearers to another subject
without being false to the truth which it is his office to

"Property," says M. Wolowski, "is that which distinguishes man
from the animals."  That may be; but are we to regard this as a
compliment or a satire?

"Mahomet," says M. Wolowski, "decreed property."  And so did
Genghis Khan, and Tamerlane, and all the ravagers of nations. 
What sort of legislators were they?

"Property has been in existence ever since the origin of the
human race."  Yes, and so has slavery, and despotism also; and
likewise polygamy and idolatry.  But what does this antiquity

The members of the Council of the State--M. Portalis at their
head--did not raise, in their discussion of the Code, the
question of the legitimacy of property.  "Their silence," says M.
Wolowski, "is a precedent in favor of this right."  I may regard
this reply as personally addressed to me, since the observation
belongs to me.  I reply, "As long as an opinion is universally
admitted, the universality of belief serves of itself as argument
and proof.  When this same opinion is attacked, the former faith
proves nothing; we must resort to reason.  Ignorance, however old
and pardonable it may be, never outweighs reason."

Property has its abuses, M. Wolowski confesses.  "But," he says,
"these abuses gradually disappear.  To-day their cause is known. 
They all arise from a false theory of property.  In principle,
property is inviolable, but it can and must be checked and
disciplined."  Such are the conclusions of the professor.

When one thus remains in the clouds, he need not fear to
equivocate.  Nevertheless, I would like him to define these
ABUSES of property, to show their cause, to explain this true
theory from which no abuse is to spring; in short, to tell me
how, without destroying property, it can be governed for the
greatest good of all.  "Our civil code," says M. Wolowski, in
speaking of this subject, "leaves much to be desired."  I think
it leaves every thing undone.

Finally, M. Wolowski opposes, on the one hand, the concentration
of capital, and the absorption which results therefrom; and, on
the other, he objects to the extreme division of the land.  Now I
think that I have demonstrated in my First Memoir, that large
accumulation and minute division are the first two terms of an
economical trinity,--a THESIS and an ANTITHESIS.  But, while
M. Wolowski says nothing of the third term, the SYNTHESIS, and
thus leaves the inference in suspense, I have shown that this
third term is ASSOCIATION, which is the annihilation of property.

November 30.--LITERARY PROPERTY.  M. Wolowski grants that it is
just to recognize the rights of talent (which is not in the least
hostile to equality); but he seriously objects to perpetual and
absolute property in the works of genius, to the profit of the
authors' heirs.  His main argument is, that society has a right
of collective production over every creation of the mind.  Now,
it is precisely this principle of collective power that I
developed in my "Inquiries into Property and Government,"
and on which I have established the complete edifice of a new
social organization.  M. Wolowski is, as far as I know, the first
jurist who has made a legislative application of this economical
law.  Only, while I have extended the principle of collective
power to every sort of product, M. Wolowski, more prudent than it
is my nature to be, confines it to neutral ground.  So, that that
which I am bold enough to say of the whole, he is contented to
affirm of a part, leaving the intelligent hearer to fill up the
void for himself.  However, his arguments are keen and close. 
One feels that the professor, finding himself more at ease with
one aspect of property, has given the rein to his intellect, and
is rushing on towards liberty.

1. Absolute literary property would hinder the activity of other
men, and obstruct the development of humanity.  It would be the
death of progress; it would be suicide.  What would have happened
if the first inventions,--the plough, the level, the saw, &c.,--
had been appropriated?

Such is the first proposition of M. Wolowski.

I reply:  Absolute property in land and tools hinders human
activity, and obstructs progress and the free development of man.

What happened in Rome, and in all the ancient nations?  What
occurred in the middle ages?  What do we see to-day in England,
in consequence of absolute property in the sources of production?

The suicide of humanity.

2. Real and personal property is in harmony with the social
interest.  In consequence of literary property, social and
individual interests are perpetually in conflict.

The statement of this proposition contains a rhetorical figure,
common with those who do not enjoy full and complete liberty of
speech.  This figure is the _anti-phrasis_ or
_contre-verite_.  It consists, according to Dumarsais and the
best humanists, in saying one thing while meaning another. 
M. Wolowski's proposition, naturally expressed, would read as
follows:  "Just as real and personal property is essentially
hostile to society, so, in consequence of literary property,
social and individual interests are perpetually in conflict."

3. M. de Montalembert, in the Chamber of Peers, vehemently
protested against the assimilation of authors to inventors of
machinery; an assimilation which he claimed to be injurious to
the former.  M. Wolowski replies, that the rights of authors,
without machinery, would be nil; that, without paper-mills, type
foundries, and printing-offices, there could be no sale of verse
and prose; that many a mechanical invention,--the compass, for
instance, the telescope, or the steam-engine,--is quite as
valuable as a book.

Prior to M. Montalembert, M. Charles Comte had laughed at the
inference in favor of mechanical inventions, which logical minds
never fail to draw from the privileges granted to authors.  "He,"
says M. Comte, "who first conceived and executed the idea of
transforming a piece of wood into a pair of sabots, or an
animal's hide into a pair of sandals, would thereby have acquired
an exclusive right to make shoes for the human race!" 
Undoubtedly, under the system of property.  For, in fact, this
pair of sabots, over which you make so merry, is the creation
of the shoemaker, the work of his genius, the expression of his
thought; to him it is his poem, quite as much as "Le Roi
s'amuse," is M. Victor Hugo's drama.  Justice for all alike.  If
you refuse a patent to a perfecter of boots, refuse also a
privilege to a maker of rhymes.

4. That which gives importance to a book is a fact external to
the author and his work.  Without the intelligence of society,
without its development, and a certain community of ideas,
passions, and interests between it and the authors, the
works of the latter would be worth nothing.  The exchangeable
value of a book is due even more to the SOCIAL CONDITION than
to the talent displayed in it.

Indeed, it seems as if I were copying my own words.  This
proposition of M. Wolowski contains a special expression of a
general and absolute idea, one of the strongest and most
conclusive against the right of property.  Why do artists, like
mechanics, find the means to live?  Because society has made the
fine arts, like the rudest industries, objects of consumption and
exchange, governed consequently by all the laws of commerce and
political economy.  Now, the first of these laws is the equipoise
of functions; that is, the equality of associates.

5. M. Wolowski indulges in sarcasm against the petitioners for
literary property.  "There are authors," he says, "who crave the
privileges of authors, and who for that purpose point out the
power of the melodrama.  They speak of the niece of Corneille,
begging at the door of a theatre which the works of her uncle had
enriched. . . .  To satisfy the avarice of literary people, it
would be necessary to create literary majorats, and make a whole
code of exceptions."

I like this virtuous irony.  But M. Wolowski has by no means
exhausted the difficulties which the question involves.  And
first, is it just that MM. Cousin, Guizot, Villemain, Damiron,
and company, paid by the State for delivering lectures, should be
paid a second time through the booksellers?--that I, who have the
right to report their lectures, should not have the right to
print them?  Is it just that MM. Noel and Chapsal, overseers of
the University, should use their influence in selling their
selections from literature to the youth whose studies they are
instructed to superintend in consideration of a salary?  And, if
that is not just, is it not proper to refuse literary
property to every author holding public offices, and receiving
pensions or sinecures?

Again, shall the privilege of the author extend to irreligious
and immoral works, calculated only to corrupt the heart, and
obscure the understanding?  To grant this privilege is to
sanction immorality by law; to refuse it is to censure the
author.  And since it is impossible, in the present imperfect
state of society, to prevent all violations of the moral law, it
will be necessary to open a license-office for books as well as
morals.  But, then, three-fourths of our literary people will be
obliged to register; and, recognized thenceforth on their own
declaration as PROSTITUTES, they will necessarily belong to the
public.  We pay toll to the prostitute; we do not endow her.

Finally, shall plagiarism be classed with forgery?  If you reply
"Yes," you appropriate in advance all the subjects of which books
treat; if you say "No," you leave the whole matter to the
decision of the judge.  Except in the case of a clandestine
reprint, how will he distinguish forgery from quotation,
imitation, plagiarism, or even coincidence?  A savant spends
two years in calculating a table of logarithms to nine or ten
decimals.  He prints it.  A fortnight after his book is selling
at half-price; it is impossible to tell whether this result is
due to forgery or competition.  What shall the court do?  In case
of doubt, shall it award the property to the first occupant?  As
well decide the question by lot.

These, however, are trifling considerations; but do we see that,
in granting a perpetual privilege to authors and their heirs, we
really strike a fatal blow at their interests?  We think to make
booksellers dependent upon authors,--a delusion.  The booksellers
will unite against works, and their proprietors.  Against works,
by refusing to push their sale, by replacing them with poor
imitations, by reproducing them in a hundred indirect ways;
and no one knows how far the science of plagiarism, and skilful
imitation may be carried.  Against proprietors.  Are we ignorant
of the fact, that a demand for a dozen copies enables a
bookseller to sell a thousand; that with an edition of five
hundred he can supply a kingdom for thirty years?  What will the
poor authors do in the presence of this omnipotent union of
booksellers?  I will tell them what they will do.  They will
enter the employ of those whom they now treat as pirates; and, to
secure an advantage, they will become wage laborers.  A fit
reward for ignoble avarice, and insatiable pride.[1]

[1]  The property fever is at its height among writers and
artists, and it is curious to see the complacency with which our
legislators and men of letters cherish this devouring passion. 
An artist sells a picture, and then, the merchandise delivered,
assumes to prevent the purchaser from selling engravings, under
the pretext that he, the painter, in selling the original, has
not sold his DESIGN.  A dispute arises between the amateur and
the artist in regard to both the fact and the law.  M. Villemain,
the Minister of Public Instruction, being consulted as to this
particular case, finds that the painter is right; only the
property in the design should have been specially reserved in the
contract: so that, in reality, M. Villemain recognizes in the
artist a power to surrender his work and prevent its
communication; thus contradicting the legal axiom, One CANNOT
GIVE AND KEEP AT THE SAME TIME.  A strange reasoner is M.
Villemain!  An ambiguous principle leads to a false conclusion. 
Instead of rejecting the principle, M. Villemain hastens to admit
the conclusion.  With him the _reductio ad absurdum_ is a
convincing argument.  Thus he is made official defender of
literary property, sure of being understood and sustained by a
set of loafers, the disgrace of literature and the plague of
public morals.  Why, then, does M. Villemain feel so strong an
interest in setting himself up as the chief of the literary
classes, in playing for their benefit the role of Trissotin
in the councils of the State, and in becoming the accomplice and
associate of a band of profligates,--_soi-disant_ men of
letters,--who for more than ten years have labored with such
deplorable success to ruin public spirit, and corrupt the heart
by warping the mind?

Contradictions of contradictions!"  Genius is the great leveller
of the world," cries M. de Lamartine; "then genius should be a
proprietor.  Literary property is the fortune of democracy." 
This unfortunate poet thinks himself profound when he is only
puffed up.  His eloquence consists solely in coupling ideas which
clash with each other: ROUND SQUARE, DARK SUN, FALLEN ANGEL,
LEVELING and PROPERTY.  Let us tell him, in reply, that his mind
is a dark luminary; that each of his discourses is a disordered
harmony; and that all his successes, whether in verse or prose,
are due to the use of the extraordinary in the treatment of the
most ordinary subjects.

"Le National," in reply to the report of M. Lamartine, endeavors
to prove that literary property is of quite a different nature
from landed property; as if the nature of the right of property
depended on the object to which it is applied, and not on the
mode of its exercise and the condition of its existence.  But the
main object of "Le National" is to please a class of proprietors
whom an extension of the right of property vexes: that is why "Le
National" opposes literary property.  Will it tell us, once for
all, whether it is for equality or against it?


6. OBJECTION.--Property in occupied land passes to the heirs of
the occupant.  "Why," say the authors, "should not the work of
genius pass in like manner to the heirs of the man of genius?" 
M. Wolowski's reply:  "Because the labor of the first occupant is
continued by his heirs, while the heirs of an author neither
change nor add to his works.  In landed property, the continuance
of labor explains the continuance of the right."

Yes, when the labor is continued; but if the labor is not
continued, the right ceases.  Thus is the right of possession,
founded on personal labor, recognized by M. Wolowski.

M. Wolowski decides in favor of granting to authors property in
their works for a certain number of years, dating from the day of
their first publication.

The succeeding lectures on patents on inventions were no less
instructive, although intermingled with shocking contradictions
inserted with a view to make the useful truths more palatable. 
The necessity for brevity compels me to terminate this
examination here, not without regret.

Thus, of two eclectic jurists, who attempt a defence of
property, one is entangled in a set of dogmas without
principle or method, and is constantly talking nonsense; and the
other designedly abandons the cause of property, in order to
present under the same name the theory of individual possession. 
Was I wrong in claiming that confusion reigned among legists, and
ought I to be legally prosecuted for having said that their
science henceforth stood convicted of falsehood, its glory

The ordinary resources of the law no longer sufficing,
philosophy, political economy, and the framers of systems have
been consulted.  All the oracles appealed to have been

The philosophers are no clearer to-day than at the time of the
eclectic efflorescence; nevertheless, through their mystical
apothegms, we can distinguish the words PROGRESS, UNITY,
reassuring to proprietors.  One of these philosophers, M. Pierre
Leroux, has written two large books, in which he claims to show
by all religious, legislative, and philosophical systems that,
since men are responsible to each other, equality of conditions
is the final law of society.  It is true that this philosopher
admits a kind of property; but as he leaves us to imagine what
property would become in presence of equality, we may boldly
class him with the opponents of the right of increase.

I must here declare freely--in order that I may not be suspected
of secret connivance, which is foreign to my nature--that M.
Leroux has my full sympathy.  Not that I am a believer in his
quasi-Pythagorean philosophy (upon this subject I should have
more than one observation to submit to him, provided a veteran
covered with stripes would not despise the remarks of a
conscript); not that I feel bound to this author by any
special consideration for his opposition to property.  In my
opinion, M. Leroux could, and even ought to, state his position
more explicitly and logically.  But I like, I admire, in M.
Leroux, the antagonist of our philosophical demigods, the
demolisher of usurped reputations, the pitiless critic of every
thing that is respected because of its antiquity.  Such is the
reason for my high esteem of M. Leroux; such would be the
principle of the only literary association which, in this century
of coteries, I should care to form.  We need men who, like M.
Leroux, call in question social principles,--not to diffuse doubt
concerning them, but to make them doubly sure; men who excite the
mind by bold negations, and make the conscience tremble by
doctrines of annihilation.  Where is the man who does not shudder
on hearing M. Leroux exclaim, "There is neither a paradise nor a
hell; the wicked will not be punished, nor the good rewarded. 
Mortals! cease to hope and fear; you revolve in a circle of
appearances; humanity is an immortal tree, whose branches,
withering one after another, feed with their debris the root
which is always young!"  Where is the man who, on hearing this
desolate confession of faith, does not demand with terror, "Is it
then true that I am only an aggregate of elements organized by an
unknown force, an idea realized for a few moments, a form which
passes and disappears?  Is it true that my mind is only a
harmony, and my soul a vortex?  What is the ego? what is God? 
what is the sanction of society?"

In former times, M. Leroux would have been regarded as a great
culprit, worthy only (like Vanini) of death and universal
execration.  To-day, M. Leroux is fulfilling a mission of
salvation, for which, whatever he may say, he will be rewarded. 
Like those gloomy invalids who are always talking of their
approaching death, and who faint when the doctor's opinion
confirms their pretence, our materialistic society is agitated
and loses countenance while listening to this startling decree of
the philosopher, "Thou shalt die!"  Honor then to M. Leroux, who
has revealed to us the cowardice of the Epicureans; to M. Leroux,
who renders new philosophical solutions necessary!  Honor to the
anti-eclectic, to the apostle of equality!

In his work on "Humanity," M. Leroux commences by positing the
necessity of property:  "You wish to abolish property; but do you
not see that thereby you would annihilate man and even the name
of man? . . .  You wish to abolish property; but could you live
without a body?  I will not tell you that it is necessary to
support this body; . . . I will tell you that this body is itself
a species of property."

In order clearly to understand the doctrine of M. Leroux, it must
be borne in mind that there are three necessary and primitive
forms of society,--communism, property, and that which to-day we
properly call association.  M. Leroux rejects in the first place
communism, and combats it with all his might.  Man is a personal
and free being, and therefore needs a sphere of independence and
individual activity.  M. Leroux emphasizes this in adding:  "You
wish neither family, nor country, nor property; therefore no more
fathers, no more sons, no more brothers.  Here you are, related
to no being in time, and therefore without a name; here you are,
alone in the midst of a billion of men who to-day inhabit the
earth.  How do you expect me to distinguish you in space in the
midst of this multitude?"

If man is indistinguishable, he is nothing.  Now, he can be
distinguished, individualized, only through a devotion of certain
things to his use,--such as his body, his faculties, and the
tools which he uses.  "Hence," says M. Leroux, "the necessity of
appropriation;" in short, property.

But property on what condition?  Here M. Leroux, after having
condemned communism, denounces in its turn the right of domain. 
His whole doctrine can be summed up in this single proposition,--
_Man may be made by property a slave or a despot by turns_.

That posited, if we ask M. Leroux to tell us under what system of
property man will be neither a slave nor a despot, but free,
just, and a citizen, M. Leroux replies in the third volume of his
work on "Humanity:"--

"There are three ways of destroying man's communion with his
fellows and with the universe: . . .  1. By separating man in
time; 2. by separating him in space; 3. by dividing the land, or,
in general terms, the instruments of production; by attaching men
to things, by subordinating man to property, by making man a

This language, it must be confessed, savors a little too strongly
of the metaphysical heights which the author frequents, and of
the school of M. Cousin.  Nevertheless, it can be seen, clearly
enough it seems to me, that M. Leroux opposes the exclusive
appropriation of the instruments of production; only he calls
this non-appropriation of the instruments of production a NEW
METHOD of establishing property, while I, in accordance with all
precedent, call it a destruction of property.  In fact, without
the appropriation of instruments, property is nothing.

"Hitherto.  we have confined ourselves to pointing out and
combating the despotic features of property, by considering
property alone.  We have failed to see that the despotism of
property is a correlative of the division of the human
race; . . . that property, instead of being organized in such a
way as to facilitate the unlimited communion of man with his
fellows and with the universe, has been, on the contrary, turned
against this communion."

Let us translate this into commercial phraseology.  In order to
destroy despotism and the inequality of conditions, men must
cease from competition and must associate their interests.  Let
employer and employed (now enemies and rivals) become associates.

Now, ask any manufacturer, merchant, or capitalist, whether he
would consider himself a proprietor if he were to share his
revenue and profits with this mass of wage-laborers whom it is
proposed to make his associates.

"Family, property, and country are finite things, which ought to
be organized with a view to the infinite.  For man is a finite
being, who aspires to the infinite.  To him, absolute finiteness
is evil.  The infinite is his aim, the indefinite his right."

Few of my readers would understand these hierophantic words, were
I to leave them unexplained.  M. Leroux means, by this
magnificent formula, that humanity is a single immense society,
which, in its collective unity, represents the infinite; that
every nation, every tribe, every commune, and every citizen are,
in different degrees, fragments or finite members of the infinite
society, the evil in which results solely from individualism and
privilege,--in other words, from the subordination of the
infinite to the finite; finally, that, to attain humanity's end
and aim, each part has a right to an indefinitely progressive

"All the evils which afflict the human race arise from caste. 
The family is a blessing; the family caste (the nobility) is an
evil.  Country is a blessing; the country caste (supreme,
domineering, conquering) is an evil; property (individual
possession) is a blessing; the property caste (the domain of
property of Pothier, Toullier, Troplong, &c.) is an evil."

Thus, according to M. Leroux, there is property and property,--
the one good, the other bad.  Now, as it is proper to call
different things by different names, if we keep the name
"property" for the former, we must call the latter robbery,
rapine, brigandage.  If, on the contrary, we reserve the name
"property" for the latter, we must designate the former by the
term POSSESSION, or some other equivalent; otherwise we should
be troubled with an unpleasant synonymy.

What a blessing it would be if philosophers, daring for once to
say all that they think, would speak the language of ordinary
mortals!  Nations and rulers would derive much greater profit
from their lectures, and, applying the same names to the same
ideas, would come, perhaps, to understand each other.  I boldly
declare that, in regard to property, I hold no other opinion than
that of M. Leroux; but, if I should adopt the style of the
philosopher, and repeat after him, "Property is a blessing, but
the property caste--the _statu quo_ of property--is an evil," I
should be extolled as a genius by all the bachelors who write for
the reviews.[1]  If, on the contrary, I prefer the classic
language of Rome and the civil code, and say accordingly,
"Possession is a blessing, but property is robbery," immediately
the aforesaid bachelors raise a hue and cry against the monster,
and the judge threatens me.  Oh, the power of language!

[1]  M. Leroux has been highly praised in a review for having
defended property.  I do not know whether the industrious
encyclopedist is pleased with the praise, but I know very well
that in his place I should mourn for reason and for truth.

"Le National," on the other hand, has laughed at M. Leroux and
his ideas on property, charging him with TAUTOLOGY and
CHILDISHNESS.  "Le National" does not wish to understand.  Is
it necessary to remind this journal that it has no right to
deride a dogmatic philosopher, because it is without a doctrine
itself?  From its foundation, "Le National" has been a nursery of
intriguers and renegades.  From time to time it takes care to
warn its readers.  Instead of lamenting over all its defections,
the democratic sheet would do better to lay the blame on itself,
and confess the shallowness of its theories.  When will this
organ of popular interests and the electoral reform cease to hire
sceptics and spread doubt?  I will wager, without going further,
that M. Leon Durocher, the critic of M. Leroux, is an anonymous
or pseudonymous editor of some bourgeois, or even aristocratic,

The economists, questioned in their turn, propose to associate
capital and labor.  You know, sir, what that means.  If we follow
out the doctrine, we soon find that it ends in an absorption of
property, not by the community, but by a general and indissoluble
commandite, so that the condition of the proprietor would
differ from that of the workingman only in receiving larger
wages.  This system, with some peculiar additions and
embellishments, is the idea of the phalanstery.  But it is clear
that, if inequality of conditions is one of the attributes of
property, it is not the whole of property.  That which makes
property a DELIGHTFUL THING, as some philosopher (I know not
who) has said, is the power to dispose at will, not only of one's
own goods, but of their specific nature; to use them at pleasure;
to confine and enclose them; to excommunicate mankind, as M.
Pierre Leroux says; in short, to make such use of them as
passion, interest, or even caprice, may suggest.  What is the
possession of money, a share in an agricultural or industrial
enterprise, or a government-bond coupon, in comparison with the
infinite charm of being master of one's house and grounds, under
one's vine and fig-tree?  "_Beati possidentes_!" says an author
quoted by M. Troplong.  Seriously, can that be applied to a man
of income, who has no other possession under the sun than the
market, and in his pocket his money?  As well maintain that a
trough is a coward.  A nice method of reform!  They never cease
to condemn the thirst for gold, and the growing individualism of
the century; and yet, most inconceivable of contradictions, they
prepare to turn all kinds of property into one,--property in

I must say something further of a theory of property lately put
forth with some ado: I mean the theory of M. Considerant.

The Fourierists are not men who examine a doctrine in order to
ascertain whether it conflicts with their system.  On the
contrary, it is their custom to exult and sing songs of triumph
whenever an adversary passes without perceiving or noticing them.

These gentlemen want direct refutations, in order that, if they
are beaten, they may have, at least, the selfish consolation of
having been spoken of.  Well, let their wish be gratified.

M. Considerant makes the most lofty pretensions to logic.  His
method of procedure is always that of MAJOR, MINOR, AND
CONCLUSION.  He would willingly write upon his hat,
"_Argumentator in barbara_."  But M. Considerant is too
intelligent and quick-witted to be a good logician, as is proved
by the fact that he appears to have taken the syllogism for

The syllogism, as everybody knows who is interested in
philosophical curiosities, is the first and perpetual sophism of
the human mind,--the favorite tool of falsehood, the stumbling-
block of science, the advocate of crime.  The syllogism has
produced all the evils which the fabulist so eloquently
condemned, and has done nothing good or useful: it is as devoid
of truth as of justice.  We might apply to it these words of
Scripture:  "_Celui qui met en lui sa confiance, perira_." 
Consequently, the best philosophers long since condemned it; so
that now none but the enemies of reason wish to make the
syllogism its weapon.

M. Considerant, then, has built his theory of property upon a
syllogism.  Would he be disposed to stake the system of Fourier
upon his arguments, as I am ready to risk the whole doctrine of
equality upon my refutation of that system?  Such a duel
would be quite in keeping with the warlike and chivalric tastes
of M. Considerant, and the public would profit by it; for, one of
the two adversaries falling, no more would be said about him, and
there would be one grumbler less in the world.

The theory of M. Considerant has this remarkable feature, that,
in attempting to satisfy at the same time the claims of both
laborers and proprietors, it infringes alike upon the rights of
the former and the privileges of the latter.  In the first place,
the author lays it down as a principle:  "1. That the use of the
land belongs to each member of the race; that it is a natural and
imprescriptible right, similar in all respects to the right to
the air and the sunshine.  2. That the right to labor is equally
fundamental, natural, and imprescriptible."  I have shown that
the recognition of this double right would be the death of
property.  I denounce M. Considerant to the proprietors!

But M. Considerant maintains that the right to labor creates the
right of property, and this is the way he reasons:--

Major Premise.--"Every man legitimately possesses the thing
which his labor, his skill,--or, in more general terms, his
action,--has created."

To which M. Considerant adds, by way of comment:  "Indeed, the
land not having been created by man, it follows from the
fundamental principle of property, that the land, being given to
the race in common, can in no wise be the exclusive and
legitimate property of such and such individuals, who were not
the creators of this value."

If I am not mistaken, there is no one to whom this proposition,
at first sight and in its entirety, does not seem utterly
irrefutable.  Reader, distrust the syllogism.

First, I observe that the words LEGITIMATELY POSSESSES signify
to the author's mind is LEGITIMATE PROPRIETOR;_ otherwise
the argument, being intended to prove the legitimacyof property,
would have no meaning.  I might here raise the question of the
difference between property and possession, and call upon M.
Considerant, before going further, to define the one and the
other; but I pass on.

This first proposition is doubly false.  1. In that it asserts
the act of CREATION to be the only basis of property.  2. In
that it regards this act as sufficient in all cases to authorize
the right of property.

And, in the first place, if man may be proprietor of the game
which he does not create, but which he KILLS; of the fruits
which he does not create, but which he GATHERS; of the
vegetables which he does not create, but which he PLANTS; of
the animals which he does not create, but which he REARS,--it
is conceivable that men may in like manner become proprietors of
the land which they do not create, but which they clear and
fertilize.  The act of creation, then, is not NECESSARY to the
acquisition of the right of property.  I say further, that this
act alone is not always sufficient, and I prove it by the second
premise of M. Considerant:--

Minor Premise.--"Suppose that on an isolated island, on the
soil of a nation, or over the whole face of the earth (the extent
of the scene of action does not affect our judgment of the
facts), a generation of human beings devotes itself for the first
time to industry, agriculture, manufactures, &c.  This
generation, by its labor, intelligence, and activity, creates
products, develops values which did not exist on the uncultivated
land.  Is it not perfectly clear that the property of this
industrious generation will stand on a basis of right, if the
value or wealth produced by the activity of all be distributed
among the producers, according to each one's assistance in the
creation of the general wealth?  That is unquestionable."

That is quite questionable.  For this value or wealth,
PRODUCED BY THE ACTIVITY OF ALL, is by the very fact of
its creation COLLECTIVE wealth, the use of which, like that of
the land, may be divided, but which as property remains
UNDIVIDED.  And why this undivided ownership?  Because the
society which creates is itself indivisible,--a permanent unit,
incapable of reduction to fractions.  And it is this unity of
society which makes the land common property, and which, as M.
Considerant says, renders its use imprescriptible in the case of
every individual.  Suppose, indeed, that at a given time the soil
should be equally divided; the very next moment this division, if
it allowed the right of property, would become illegitimate. 
Should there be the slightest irregularity in the method of
transfer, men, members of society, imprescriptible possessors of
the land, might be deprived at one blow of property, possession,
and the means of production.  In short, property in capital is
indivisible, and consequently inalienable, not necessarily when
the capital is UNCREATED, but when it is COMMON or

I confirm this theory against M. Considerant, by the third term
of his syllogism:--

Conclusion.--"The results of the labor performed by this
generation are divisible into two classes, between which it is
important clearly to distinguish.  The first class includes the
products of the soil which belong to this first generation in its
usufructuary capacity, augmented, improved and refined by its
labor and industry.  These products consist either of objects of
consumption or instruments of labor.  It is clear that these
products are the legitimate property of those who have created
them by their activity. . . .  Second class.--Not only has this
generation created the products just mentioned (objects of
consumption and instruments of labor), but it has also added to
the original value of the soil by cultivation, by the erection of
buildings, by all the labor producing permanent results, which it
has performed.  This additional value evidently constitutes a
product--a value created by the activity of the first generation;
and if, BY ANY MEANS WHATEVER, the ownership of this value be
distributed among the members of society equitably,--that
is, in proportion to the labor which each has performed,--each
will legitimately possess the portion which he receives.  He may
then dispose of this legitimate and private property as he sees
fit,--exchange it, give it away, or transfer it; and no other
individual, or collection of other individuals,--that is,
society,--can lay any claim to these values."

Thus, by the distribution of collective capital, to the use of
which each associate, either in his own right or in right of his
authors, has an imprescriptible and undivided title, there will
be in the phalanstery, as in the France of 1841, the poor and the
rich; some men who, to live in luxury, have only, as Figaro says,
to take the trouble to be born, and others for whom the fortune
of life is but an opportunity for long-continued poverty; idlers
with large incomes, and workers whose fortune is always in the
future; some privileged by birth and caste, and others pariahs
whose sole civil and political rights are THE RIGHT TO LABOR,
AND THE RIGHT TO LAND.  For we must not be deceived; in the
phalanstery every thing will be as it is to-day, an object of
property,--machines, inventions, thought, books, the products of
art, of agriculture, and of industry; animals, houses, fences,
vineyards, pastures, forests, fields,--every thing, in short,
except the UNCULTIVATED LAND.  Now, would you like to know what
uncultivated land is worth, according to the advocates of
property?  "A square league hardly suffices for the support of a
savage," says M. Charles Comte.  Estimating the wretched
subsistence of this savage at three hundred francs per year, we
find that the square league necessary to his life is, relatively
to him, faithfully represented by a rent of fifteen francs.  In
France there are twenty-eight thousand square leagues, the total
rent of which, by this estimate, would be four hundred and twenty
thousand francs, which, when divided among nearly thirty-four
millions of people, would give each an INCOME OF A CENTIME AND A
QUARTER.  That is the new right which the great genius of
Fourier has invented IN BEHALF OF THE FRENCH PEOPLE, and with
which his first disciple hopes to reform the world.  I denounce
M. Considerant to the proletariat!

If the theory of M. Considerant would at least really guarantee
this property which he cherishes so jealously, I might pardon him
the flaws in his syllogism, certainly the best one he ever made
in his life.  But, no: that which M. Considerant takes for
property is only a privilege of extra pay.  In Fourier's system,
neither the created capital nor the increased value of the soil
are divided and appropriated in any effective manner: the
instruments of labor, whether created or not, remain in the hands
of the phalanx; the pretended proprietor can touch only the
income.  He is permitted neither to realize his share of the
stock, nor to possess it exclusively, nor to administer it,
whatever it be.  The cashier throws him his dividend; and then,
proprietor, eat the whole if you can!

The system of Fourier would not suit the proprietors, since it
takes away the most delightful feature of property,--the free
disposition of one's goods.  It would please the communists no
better, since it involves unequal conditions.  It is repugnant to
the friends of free association and equality, in consequence of
its tendency to wipe out human character and individuality by
suppressing possession, family, and country,--the threefold
expression of the human personality.

Of all our active publicists, none seem to me more fertile in
resources, richer in imagination, more luxuriant and varied in
style, than M. Considerant.  Nevertheless, I doubt if he will
undertake to reestablish his theory of property.  If he has this
courage, this is what I would say to him:  "Before writing your
reply, consider well your plan of action; do not scour the
country; have recourse to none of your ordinary expedients;
no complaints of civilization; no sarcasms upon equality; no
glorification of the phalanstery.  Leave Fourier and the departed
in peace, and endeavor only to re-adjust the pieces of your
syllogism.  To this end, you ought, first, to analyze closely
each proposition of your adversary; second, to show the error,
either by a direct refutation, or by proving the converse; third,
to oppose argument to argument, so that, objection and reply
meeting face to face, the stronger may break down the weaker, and
shiver it to atoms.  By that method only can you boast of having
conquered, and compel me to regard you as an honest reasoner, and
a good artillery-man."

I should have no excuse for tarrying longer with these
phalansterian crotchets, if the obligation which I have imposed
upon myself of making a clean sweep, and the necessity of
vindicating my dignity as a writer, did not prevent me from
passing in silence the reproach uttered against me by a
correspondent of "La Phalange."  "We have seen but lately," says
this journalist,[1] "that M. Proudhon, enthusiast as he has been
for the science created by Fourier, is, or will be, an enthusiast
for any thing else whatsoever."

[1]  "Impartial," of Besancon.

If ever sectarians had the right to reproach another for changes
in his beliefs, this right certainly does not belong to the
disciples of Fourier, who are always so eager to administer the
phalansterian baptism to the deserters of all parties.  But why
regard it as a crime, if they are sincere?  Of what consequence
is the constancy or inconstancy of an individual to the truth
which is always the same?  It is better to enlighten men's minds
than to teach them to be obstinate in their prejudices.  Do we
not know that man is frail and fickle, that his heart is full of
delusions, and that his lips are a distillery of falsehood? 
_Omnis homo meudax_.  Whether we will or no, we all serve for a
time as instruments of this truth, whose kingdom comes every day.

God alone is immutable, because he is eternal.

That is the reply which, as a general rule, an honest man is
entitled always to make, and which I ought perhaps to be content
to offer as an excuse; for I am no better than my fathers.  But,
in a century of doubt and apostasy like ours, when it is of
importance to set the small and the weak an example of strength
and honesty of utterance, I must not suffer my character as a
public assailant of property to be dishonored.  I must render an
account of my old opinions.

Examining myself, therefore, upon this charge of Fourierism, and
endeavoring to refresh my memory, I find that, having been
connected with the Fourierists in my studies and my friendships,
it is possible that, without knowing it, I have been one of
Fourier's partisans.  Jerome Lalande placed Napoleon and Jesus
Christ in his catalogue of atheists.  The Fourierists resemble
this astronomer: if a man happens to find fault with the existing
civilization, and to admit the truth of a few of their
criticisms, they straightway enlist him, willy-nilly, in their
school.  Nevertheless, I do not deny that I have been a
Fourierist; for, since they say it, of course it may be so.  But,
sir, that of which my ex-associates are ignorant, and which
doubtless will astonish you, is that I have been many other
things,--in religion, by turns a Protestant, a Papist, an Arian
and Semi-Arian, a Manichean, a Gnostic, an Adamite even and a
Pre-Adamite, a Sceptic, a Pelagian, a Socinian, an Anti-
Trinitarian, and a Neo-Christian;[1] in philosophy and politics,
an Idealist, a Pantheist, a Platonist, a Cartesian, an Eclectic
(that is, a sort of _juste-milieu_), a Monarchist, an Aristocrat,
a Constitutionalist, a follower of Babeuf, and a Communist.  I
have wandered through a whole encyclopaedia of systems.  Do you
think it surprising, sir, that, among them all, I was for a short
time a Fourierist?

[1]  The Arians deny the divinity of Christ.  The Semi-Arians
differ from the Arians only by a few subtle distinctions.  M.
Pierre Leroux, who regards Jesus as a man, but claims that the
Spirit of God was infused into him, is a true Semi-Arian.

The Manicheans admit two co-existent and eternal principles,--God
and matter, spirit and flesh, light and darkness, good and evil;
but, unlike the Phalansterians, who pretend to reconcile the two,
the Manicheans make war upon matter, and labor with all their
might for the destruction of the flesh, by condemning marriage
and forbidding reproduction,--which does not prevent them,
however, from indulging in all the carnal pleasures which the
intensest lust can conceive of.  In this last particular, the
tendency of the Fourieristic morality is quite Manichean.

The Gnostics do not differ from the early Christians.  As their
name indicates, they regarded themselves as inspired.  Fourier,
who held peculiar ideas concerning the visions of somnambulists,
and who believed in the possibility of developing the magnetic
power to such an extent as to enable us to commune with invisible
beings, might, if he were living, pass also for a Gnostic.

The Adamites attend mass entirely naked, from motives of
chastity.  Jean Jacques Rousseau, who took the sleep of the
senses for chastity, and who saw in modesty only a refinement of
pleasure, inclined towards Adamism.  I know such a sect, whose
members usually celebrate their mysteries in the costume of Venus
coming from the bath.

The Pre-Adamites believe that men existed before the first man. 
I once met a Pre-Adamite.  True, he was deaf and a Fourierist.

The Pelagians deny grace, and attribute all the merit of good
works to liberty.  The Fourierists, who teach that man's nature
and passions are good, are reversed Pelagians; they give all to
grace, and nothing to liberty.

The Socinians, deists in all other respects, admit an original
revelation.  Many people are Socinians to-day, who do not suspect
it, and who regard their opinions as new.

The Neo-Christians are those simpletons who admire Christianity
because it has produced bells and cathedrals.  Base in soul,
corrupt in heart, dissolute in mind and senses, the Neo-
Christians seek especially after the external form, and admire
religion, as they love women, for its physical beauty.  They
believe in a coming revelation, as well as a transfiguration of
Catholicism.  They will sing masses at the grand spectacle in the

For my part, I am not at all surprised, although at present
I have no recollection of it.  One thing is sure,--that my
superstition and credulity reached their height at the very
period of my life which my critics reproachfully assign as the
date of my Fourieristic beliefs.  Now I hold quite other views. 
My mind no longer admits that which is demonstrated by
syllogisms, analogies, or metaphors, which are the methods of the
phalanstery, but demands a process of generalization and
induction which excludes error.  Of my past OPINIONSS I retain
absolutely none.  I have acquired some KNOWLEDGE.  I no longer
BELIEVE.  I either KNOW, or am IGNORANT.  In a word, in seeking
for the reason of things, I saw that I was a RATIONALIST.

Undoubtedly, it would have been simpler to begin where I have
ended.  But then, if such is the law of the human mind; if all
society, for six thousand years, has done nothing but fall into
error; if all mankind are still buried in the darkness of faith,
deceived by their prejudices and passions, guided only by the
instinct of their leaders; if my accusers, themselves, are not
free from sectarianism (for they call themselves
FOURIERISTS),--am I alone inexcusable for having, in my inner
self, at the secret tribunal of my conscience, begun anew the
journey of our poor humanity?

I would by no means, then, deny my errors; but, sir, that which
distinguishes me from those who rush into print is the fact that,
though my thoughts have varied much, my writings do not vary. 
To-day, even, and on a multitude of questions, I am beset by a
thousand extravagant and contradictory opinions; but my opinions
I do not print, for the public has nothing to do with them. 
Before addressing my fellow-men, I wait until light breaks in
upon the chaos of my ideas, in order that what I may say may be,
not the whole truth (no man can know that), but nothing but the

This singular disposition of my mind to first identify itself
with a system in order to better understand it, and then to
reflect upon it in order to test its legitimacy, is the very
thing which disgusted me with Fourier, and ruined in my esteem
the societary school.  To be a faithful Fourierist, in fact, one
must abandon his reason and accept every thing from a master,--
doctrine, interpretation, and application.  M. Considerant, whose
excessive intolerance anathematizes all who do not abide by his
sovereign decisions, has no other conception of Fourierism.  Has
he not been appointed Fourier's vicar on earth and pope of a
Church which, unfortunately for its apostles, will never be of
this world?  Passive belief is the theological virtue of all
sectarians, especially of the Fourierists.

Now, this is what happened to me.  While trying to demonstrate by
argument the religion of which I had become a follower in
studying Fourier, I suddenly perceived that by reasoning I was
becoming incredulous; that on each article of the creed my reason
and my faith were at variance, and that my six weeks' labor was
wholly lost.  I saw that the Fourierists--in spite of their
inexhaustible gabble, and their extravagant pretension to decide
in all things--were neither savants, nor logicians, nor even
believers; that they were SCIENTIFIC QUACKS, who were led more
by their self-love than their conscience to labor for the triumph
of their sect, and to whom all means were good that would reach
that end.  I then understood why to the Epicureans they promised
women, wine, music, and a sea of luxury; to the rigorists,
maintenance of marriage, purity of morals, and temperance; to
laborers, high wages; to proprietors, large incomes; to
philosophers, solutions the secret of which Fourier alone
possessed; to priests, a costly religion and magnificent
festivals; to savants, knowledge of an unimaginable
nature; to each, indeed, that which he most desired.  In the
beginning, this seemed to me droll; in the end, I regarded it as
the height of impudence.  No, sir; no one yet knows of the
foolishness and infamy which the phalansterian system contains. 
That is a subject which I mean to treat as soon as I have
balanced my accounts with property.[1]

[1]  It should be understood that the above refers only to the
moral and political doctrines of Fourier,--doctrines which, like
all philosophical and religious systems, have their root and
_raison d'existence_ in society itself, and for this reason
deserve to be examined.  The peculiar speculations of Fourier and
his sect concerning cosmogony, geology, natural history,
physiology, and psychology, I leave to the attention of those who
would think it their duty to seriously refute the fables of Blue
Beard and the Ass's Skin.

It is rumored that the Fourierists think of leaving France and
going to the new world to found a phalanstery.  When a house
threatens to fall, the rats scamper away; that is because they
are rats.  Men do better; they rebuild it.  Not long since, the
St. Simonians, despairing of their country which paid no heed to
them, proudly shook the dust from their feet, and started for the
Orient to fight the battle of free woman.  Pride, wilfulness, mad
selfishness!  True charity, like true faith, does not worry,
never despairs; it seeks neither its own glory, nor its interest,
nor empire; it does every thing for all, speaks with indulgence
to the reason and the will, and desires to conquer only by
persuasion and sacrifice.  Remain in France, Fourierists, if the
progress of humanity is the only thing which you have at heart! 
There is more to do here than in the new world.  Otherwise, go!
you are nothing but liars and hypocrites!

The foregoing statement by no means embraces all the political
elements, all the opinions and tendencies, which threaten the
future of property; but it ought to satisfy any
one who knows how to classify facts, and to deduce their law
or the idea which governs them.  Existing society seems abandoned
to the demon of falsehood and discord; and it is this sad sight
which grieves so deeply many distinguished minds who lived too
long in a former age to be able to understand ours.  Now, while
the short-sighted spectator begins to despair of humanity, and,
distracted and cursing that of which he is ignorant, plunges into
scepticism and fatalism, the true observer, certain of the spirit
which governs the world, seeks to comprehend and fathom
Providence.  The memoir on "Property," published last year by the
pensioner of the Academy of Besancon, is simply a study of this

The time has come for me to relate the history of this unlucky
treatise, which has already caused me so much chagrin, and made
me so unpopular; but which was on my part so involuntary and
unpremeditated, that I would dare to affirm that there is not an
economist, not a philosopher, not a jurist, who is not a hundred
times guiltier than I.  There is something so singular in the way
in which I was led to attack property, that if, on hearing my sad
story, you persist, sir, in your blame, I hope at least you will
be forced to pity me.

I never have pretended to be a great politician; far from that, I
always have felt for controversies of a political nature the
greatest aversion; and if, in my "Essay on Property," I have
sometimes ridiculed our politicians, believe, sir, that I was
governed much less by my pride in the little that I know, than by
my vivid consciousness of their ignorance and excessive vanity. 
Relying more on Providence than on men; not suspecting at first
that politics, like every other science, contained an absolute
truth; agreeing equally well with Bossuet and Jean Jacques,--I
accepted with resignation my share of human misery, and contented
myself with praying to God for good deputies, upright
ministers, and an honest king.  By taste as well as by discretion
and lack of confidence in my powers, I was slowly pursuing some
commonplace studies in philology, mingled with a little
metaphysics, when I suddenly fell upon the greatest problem that
ever has occupied philosophical minds:  I mean the criterion of

Those of my readers who are unacquainted with the philosophical
terminology will be glad to be told in a few words what this
criterion is, which plays so great a part in my work.

The criterion of certainty, according to the philosophers, will
be, when discovered, an infallible method of establishing the
truth of an opinion, a judgment, a theory, or a system, in nearly
the same way as gold is recognized by the touchstone, as iron
approaches the magnet, or, better still, as we verify a
mathematical operation by applying the PROOF.  TIME has
hitherto served as a sort of criterion for society.  Thus, the
primitive men--having observed that they were not all equal in
strength, beauty, and labor--judged, and rightly, that certain
ones among them were called by nature to the performance of
simple and common functions; but they concluded, and this is
where their error lay, that these same individuals of duller
intellect, more restricted genius, and weaker personality, were
predestined to SERVE the others; that is, to labor while the
latter rested, and to have no other will than theirs: and from
this idea of a natural subordination among men sprang
domesticity, which, voluntarily accepted at first, was
imperceptibly converted into horrible slavery.  Time, making this
error more palpable, has brought about justice.  Nations have
learned at their own cost that the subjection of man to man is a
false idea, an erroneous theory, pernicious alike to master and
to slave.  And yet such a social system has stood several
thousand years, and has been defended by celebrated philosophers;
even to-day, under somewhat mitigated forms, sophists of every
description uphold and extol it.  But experience is bringing it
to an end.

Time, then, is the criterion of societies; thus looked at,
history is the demonstration of the errors of humanity by the
argument _reductio ad absurdum_.

Now, the criterion sought for by metaphysicians would have the
advantage of discriminating at once between the true and the
false in every opinion; so that in politics, religion, and
morals, for example, the true and the useful being immediately
recognized, we should no longer need to await the sorrowful
experience of time.  Evidently such a secret would be death to
the sophists,--that cursed brood, who, under different names,
excite the curiosity of nations, and, owing to the difficulty of
separating the truth from the error in their artistically woven
theories, lead them into fatal ventures, disturb their peace, and
fill them with such extraordinary prejudice.

Up to this day, the criterion of certainty remains a mystery;
this is owing to the multitude of criteria that have been
successively proposed.  Some have taken for an absolute and
definite criterion the testimony of the senses; others
intuition; these evidence; those argument.  M. Lamennais affirms
that there is no other criterion than universal reason.  Before
him, M. de Bonald thought he had discovered it in language. 
Quite recently, M. Buchez has proposed morality; and, to
harmonize them all, the eclectics have said that it was absurd to
seek for an absolute criterion, since there were as many
criteria as special orders of knowledge.

Of all these hypotheses it may be observed, That the testimony of
the senses is not a criterion, because the senses, relating us
only to phenomena, furnish us with no ideas; that intuition
needs external confirmation or objective certainty; that evidence
requires proof, and argument verification; that universal reason
has been wrong many a time; that language serves equally well to
express the true or the false; that morality, like all the rest,
needs demonstration and rule; and finally, that the eclectic idea
is the least reasonable of all, since it is of no use to say that
there are several criteria if we cannot point out one.  I very
much fear that it will be with the criterion as with the
philosopher's stone; that it will finally be abandoned, not only
as insolvable, but as chimerical.  Consequently, I entertain no
hopes of having found it; nevertheless, I am not sure that some
one more skilful will not discover it.

Be it as it may with regard to a criterion or criteria, there
are methods of demonstration which, when applied to certain
subjects, may lead to the discovery of unknown truths, bring to
light relations hitherto unsuspected, and lift a paradox to the
highest degree of certainty.  In such a case, it is not by its
novelty, nor even by its content, that a system should be judged,
but by its method.  The critic, then, should follow the example
of the Supreme Court, which, in the cases which come before it,
never examines the facts, but only the form of procedure.  Now,
what is the form of procedure?  A method.

I then looked to see what philosophy, in the absence of a
criterion, had accomplished by the aid of special methods, and
I must say that I could not discover--in spite of the loudly-
proclaimed pretensions of some--that it had produced any thing of
real value; and, at last, wearied with the philosophical twaddle,
I resolved to make a new search for the criterion.  I confess
it, to my shame, this folly lasted for two years, and I am not
yet entirely rid of it.  It was like seeking a needle in a
haystack.  I might have learned Chinese or Arabic in the
time that I have lost in considering and reconsidering
syllogisms, in rising to the summit of an induction as to the top
of a ladder, in inserting a proposition between the horns of a
dilemma, in decomposing, distinguishing, separating, denying,
affirming, admitting, as if I could pass abstractions through a

I selected justice as the subject-matter of my experiments. 
Finally, after a thousand decompositions, recompositions, and
double compositions, I found at the bottom of my analytical
crucible, not the criterion of certainty, but a metaphysico-
economico-political treatise, whose conclusions were such that I
did not care to present them in a more artistic or, if you will,
more intelligible form.  The effect which this work produced upon
all classes of minds gave me an idea of the spirit of our age,
and did not cause me to regret the prudent and scientific
obscurity of my style.  How happens it that to-day I am obliged
to defend my intentions, when my conduct bears the evident
impress of such lofty morality?

You have read my work, sir, and you know the gist of my tedious
and scholastic lucubrations.  Considering the revolutions of
humanity, the vicissitudes of empires, the transformations of
property, and the innumerable forms of justice and of right, I
asked, "Are the evils which afflict us inherent in our condition
as men, or do they arise only from an error?  This inequality of
fortunes which all admit to be the cause of society's
embarrassments, is it, as some assert, the effect of Nature; or,
in the division of the products of labor and the soil, may there
not have been some error in calculation?  Does each laborer
receive all that is due him, and only that which is due him?  In
short, in the present conditions of labor, wages, and exchange,
is no one wronged?--are the accounts well kept?--is the social
balance accurate?"

Then I commenced a most laborious investigation.  It was
necessary to arrange informal notes, to discuss contradictory
titles, to reply to captious allegations, to refute absurd
pretensions, and to describe fictitious debts, dishonest
transactions, and fraudulent accounts.  In order to triumph over
quibblers, I had to deny the authority of custom, to examine the
arguments of legislators, and to oppose science with science
itself.  Finally, all these operations completed, I had to give a
judicial decision.

I therefore declared, my hand upon my heart, before God and men,
that the causes of social inequality are three in number:  1.

And since this threefold method of extortion is the very essence
of the domain of property, I denied the legitimacy of property,
and proclaimed its identity with robbery.

That is my only offence.  I have reasoned upon property; I have
searched for the criterion of justice; I have demonstrated, not
the possibility, but the necessity, of equality of fortunes; I
have allowed myself no attack upon persons, no assault upon the
government, of which I, more than any one else, am a provisional
adherent.  If I have sometimes used the word PROPRIETOR, I have
used it as the abstract name of a metaphysical being, whose
reality breathes in every individual,--not alone in a privileged

Nevertheless, I acknowledge--for I wish my confession to be
sincere--that the general tone of my book has been bitterly
censured.  They complain of an atmosphere of passion and
invective unworthy of an honest man, and quite out of place in
the treatment of so grave a subject.

If this reproach is well founded (which it is impossible for me
either to deny or admit, because in my own cause I cannot be
judge),--if, I say, I deserve this charge, I can only humble
myself and acknowledge myself guilty of an involuntary wrong; the
only excuse that I could offer being of such a nature that it
ought not to be communicated to the public.  All that I can say
is, that I understand better than any one how the anger which
injustice causes may render an author harsh and violent in his
criticisms.  When, after twenty years of labor, a man still finds
himself on the brink of starvation, and then suddenly discovers
in an equivocation, an error in calculation, the cause of the
evil which torments him in common with so many millions of his
fellows, he can scarcely restrain a cry of sorrow and dismay.

But, sir, though pride be offended by my rudeness, it is not to
pride that I apologize, but to the proletaires, to the simple-
minded, whom I perhaps have scandalized.  My angry dialectics may
have produced a bad effect on some peaceable minds.  Some poor
workingman--more affected by my sarcasm than by the strength of
my arguments--may, perhaps, have concluded that property is the
result of a perpetual Machiavelianism on the part of the
governors against the governed,--a deplorable error of which my
book itself is the best refutation.  I devoted two chapters to
showing how property springs from human personality and the
comparison of individuals.  Then I explained its perpetual
limitation; and, following out the same idea, I predicted its
approaching disappearance.  How, then, could the editors of the
"Revue Democratique," after having borrowed from me nearly the
whole substance of their economical articles, dare to say:  "The
holders of the soil, and other productive capital, are more or
less wilful accomplices in a vast robbery, they being the
exclusive receivers and sharers of the stolen goods"?

The proprietors WILFULLY guilty of the crime of robbery! 
Never did that homicidal phrase escape my pen; never did my
heart conceive the frightful thought.  Thank Heaven!  I know not
how to calumniate my kind; and I have too strong a desire to seek
for the reason of things to be willing to believe in criminal
conspiracies.  The millionnaire is no more tainted by property
than the journeyman who works for thirty sous per day.  On both
sides the error is equal, as well as the intention.  The effect
is also the same, though positive in the former, and negative in
the latter.  I accused property; I did not denounce the
proprietors, which would have been absurd: and I am sorry that
there are among us wills so perverse and minds so shattered that
they care for only so much of the truth as will aid them in their
evil designs.  Such is the only regret which I feel on account of
my indignation, which, though expressed perhaps too bitterly, was
at least honest, and legitimate in its source.

However, what did I do in this essay which I voluntarily
submitted to the Academy of Moral Sciences?  Seeking a fixed
axiom amid social uncertainties, I traced back to one fundamental
question all the secondary questions over which, at present, so
keen and diversified a conflict is raging This question was the
right of property.  Then, comparing all existing theories with
each other, and extracting from them that which is common to them
all, I endeavored to discover that element in the idea of
property which is necessary, immutable, and absolute; and
asserted, after authentic verification, that this idea is
further, that this idea was the result of our revolutionary
movements,--the culminating point towards which all opinions,
gradually divesting themselves of their contradictory
elements, converge.  And I tried to demonstrate this by the
spirit of the laws, by political economy, by psychology and

A Father of the Church, finishing a learned exposition of the
Catholic doctrine, cried, in the enthusiasm of his faith,
_"Domine, si error est, a te decepti sumus_ (if my religion is
false, God is to blame)."  I, as well as this theologian, can
say, "If equality is a fable, God, through whom we act and think
and are; God, who governs society by eternal laws, who rewards
just nations, and punishes proprietors,--God alone is the author
of evil; God has lied.  The fault lies not with me."

But, if I am mistaken in my inferences, I should be shown my
error, and led out of it.  It is surely worth the trouble, and I
think I deserve this honor.  There is no ground for proscription.

For, in the words of that member of the Convention who did not
like the guillotine, _to kill is not to reply_.  Until then, I
persist in regarding my work as useful, social, full of
instruction for public officials,--worthy, in short, of reward
and encouragement.

For there is one truth of which I am profoundly convinced,--
nations live by absolute ideas, not by approximate and partial
conceptions; therefore, men are needed who define principles, or
at least test them in the fire of controversy.  Such is the
law,--the idea first, the pure idea, the understanding of the
laws of God, the theory: practice follows with slow steps,
cautious, attentive to the succession of events; sure to seize,
towards this eternal meridian, the indications of supreme reason.

The co-operation of theory and practice produces in humanity the
realization of order,--the absolute truth.[1]

[1]  A writer for the radical press, M. Louis Raybaud, said, in
the preface to his "Studies of Contemporary Reformers:"  "Who
does not know that morality is relative?  Aside from a few grand
sentiments which are strikingly instinctive, the measure of human
acts varies with nations and climates, and only civilization--the
progressive education of the race--can lead to a universal
morality. . . .  The absolute escapes our contingent and finite
nature; the absolute is the secret of God."  God keep from evil
M. Louis Raybaud!  But I cannot help remarking that all political
apostates begin by the negation of the absolute, which is really
the negation of truth.  What can a writer, who professes
scepticism, have in common with radical views?  What has he to
say to his readers?  What judgment is he entitled to pass upon
contemporary reformers?  M. Raybaud thought it would seem wise to
repeat an old impertinence of the legist, and that may serve him
for an excuse.  We all have these weaknesses.  But I am surprised
that a man of so much intelligence as M. Raybaud, who STUDIES
SYSTEMS, fails to see the very thing he ought first to
recognize,--namely, that systems are the progress of the mind
towards the absolute.

All of us, as long as we live, are called, each in proportion to
his strength, to this sublime work.  The only duty which it
imposes upon us is to refrain from appropriating the truth to
ourselves, either by concealing it, or by accommodating it to the
temper of the century, or by using it for our own interests. 
This principle of conscience, so grand and so simple, has always
been present in my thought.

Consider, in fact, sir, that which I might have done, but did not
wish to do.  I reason on the most honorable hypothesis.  What
hindered me from concealing, for some years to come, the abstract
theory of the equality of fortunes, and, at the same time, from
criticising constitutions and codes; from showing the absolute
and the contingent, the immutable and the ephemeral, the eternal
and the transitory, in laws present and past; from constructing a
new system of legislation, and establishing on a solid foundation
this social edifice, ever destroyed and as often rebuilt?  Might
I not, taking up the definitions of casuists, have clearly shown
the cause of their contradictions and uncertainties, and
supplied, at the same time, the inadequacies of their
conclusions?  Might I not have confirmed this labor by a vast
historical exposition, in which the principle of exclusion, and
of the accumulation of property, the appropriation of collective
wealth, and the radical vice in exchanges, would have figured as
the constant causes of tyranny, war, and revolution?

"It should have been done," you say.  Do not doubt, sir, that
such a task would have required more patience than genius.  With
the principles of social economy which I have analyzed, I would
have had only to break the ground, and follow the furrow.  The
critic of laws finds nothing more difficult than to determine
justice: the labor alone would have been longer.  Oh, if I had
pursued this glittering prospect, and, like the man of the
burning bush, with inspired countenance and deep and solemn
voice, had presented myself some day with new tables, there would
have been found fools to admire, boobies to applaud, and cowards
to offer me the dictatorship; for, in the way of popular
infatuations, nothing is impossible.

But, sir, after this monument of insolence and pride, what should
I have deserved in your opinion, at the tribunal of God, and in
the judgment of free men?  Death, sir, and eternal reprobation!

I therefore spoke the truth as soon as I saw it, waiting only
long enough to give it proper expression.  I pointed out error in
order that each might reform himself, and render his labors more
useful.  I announced the existence of a new political element, in
order that my associates in reform, developing it in concert,
might arrive more promptly at that unity of principles which
alone can assure to society a better day.  I expected to receive,
if not for my book, at least for my commendable conduct, a small
republican ovation.  And, behold! journalists denounce me,
academicians curse me, political adventurers (great God!)
think to make themselves tolerable by protesting that they are
not like me!  I give the formula by which the whole social
edifice may be scientifically reconstructed, and the strongest
minds reproach me for being able only to destroy.  The rest
despise me, because I am unknown.  When the "Essay on Property"
fell into the reformatory camp, some asked:  "Who has spoken?  Is
it Arago?  Is it Lamennais?  Michel de Bourges or Garnier-Pages?"

And when they heard the name of a new man:  "We do not know him,"
they would reply.  Thus, the monopoly of thought, property in
reason, oppresses the proletariat as well as the _bourgeoisie_. 
The worship of the infamous prevails even on the steps of the

But what am I saying?  May evil befall me, if I blame the poor
creatures!  Oh! let us not despise those generous souls, who in
the excitement of their patriotism are always prompt to identify
the voice of their chiefs with the truth.  Let us encourage
rather their simple credulity, enlighten complacently and
tenderly their precious sincerity, and reserve our shafts for
those vain-glorious spirits who are always admiring their genius,
and, in different tongues, caressing the people in order to
govern them.

These considerations alone oblige me to reply to the strange and
superficial conclusions of the "Journal du Peuple" (issue of Oct.
11, 1840), on the question of property.  I leave, therefore, the
journalist to address myself only to his readers.  I hope that
the self-love of the writer will not be offended, if, in the
presence of the masses, I ignore an individual.

You say, proletaires of the "Peuple," "For the very reason that
men and things exist, there always will be men who will possess
things; nothing, therefore, can destroy property."

In speaking thus, you unconsciously argue exactly after the
manner of M. Cousin, who always reasons from _possession_ to
PROPERTY.  This coincidence, however, does not surprise me.  M.
Cousin is a philosopher of much mind, and you, proletaires, have
still more.  Certainly it is honorable, even for a philosopher,
to be your companion in error.

Originally, the word PROPERTY was synonymous with PROPER or
INDIVIDUAL POSSESSION.  It designated each individual's special
right to the use of a thing.  But when this right of use, inert
(if I may say so) as it was with regard to the other
usufructuaries, became active and paramount,--that is, when the
usufructuary converted his right to personally use the thing into
the right to use it by his neighbor's labor,--then property
changed its nature, and its idea became complex.  The legists
knew this very well, but instead of opposing, as they ought, this
accumulation of profits, they accepted and sanctioned the whole. 
And as the right of farm-rent necessarily implies the right
of use,--in other words, as the right to cultivate land by the
labor of a slave supposes one's power to cultivate it himself,
according to the principle that the greater includes the less,--
the name property was reserved to designate this double right,
and that of possession was adopted to designate the right of use.

Whence property came to be called the perfect right, the right of
domain, the eminent right, the heroic or _quiritaire_ right,--in
Latin, _jus perfectum, jus optimum, jus quiritarium, jus
dominii_,--while possession became assimilated to farm-rent.

Now, that individual possession exists of right, or, better, from
natural necessity, all philosophers admit, and can easily e
demonstrated; but when, in imitation of M. Cousin, we assume it
to be the basis of the domain of property, we fall into the
sophism called _sophisma amphiboliae vel ambiguitatis_, which
consists in changing the meaning by a verbal equivocation.

People often think themselves very profound, because, by the aid
of expressions of extreme generality, they appear to rise to the
height of absolute ideas, and thus deceive inexperienced minds;
and, what is worse, this is commonly called EXAMINING
ABSTRACTIONS.  But the abstraction formed by the comparison of
identical facts is one thing, while that which is deduced from
different acceptations of the same term is quite another.  The
first gives the universal idea, the axiom, the law; the second
indicates the order of generation of ideas.  All our errors arise
from the constant confusion of these two kinds of abstractions. 
In this particular, languages and philosophies are alike
deficient.  The less common an idiom is, and the more obscure its
terms, the more prolific is it as a source of error: a
philosopher is sophistical in proportion to his ignorance of any
method of neutralizing this imperfection in language.  If the art
of correcting the errors of speech by scientific methods is ever
discovered, then philosophy will have found its criterion of

Now, then, the difference between property and possession being
well established, and it being settled that the former, for the
reasons which I have just given, must necessarily disappear, is
it best, for the slight advantage of restoring an etymology, to
retain the word PROPERTY?  My opinion is that it would be very
unwise to do so, and I will tell why.  I quote from the "Journal
du Peuple:"--

"To the legislative power belongs the right to regulate property,
to prescribe the conditions of acquiring, possessing, and
transmitting it. . .  It cannot be denied that inheritance,
assessment, commerce, industry, labor, and wages require the most
important modifications."

You wish, proletaires, to REGULATE PROPERTY; that is, you wish
to destroy it and reduce it to the right of possession.  For to
regulate property without the consent of the proprietors is
to deny the right OF DOMAIN; to associate employees with
proprietors is to destroy the EMINENT right; to suppress or
even reduce farm-rent, house-rent, revenue, and increase
generally, is to annihilate PERFECT property.  Why, then, while
laboring with such laudable enthusiasm for the establishment of
equality, should you retain an expression whose equivocal meaning
will always be an obstacle in the way of your success?

There you have the first reason--a wholly philosophical one--for
rejecting not only the thing, but the name, property.  Here now
is the political, the highest reason.

Every social revolution--M. Cousin will tell you--is effected
only by the realization of an idea, either political, moral, or
religious.  When Alexander conquered Asia, his idea was to avenge
Greek liberty against the insults of Oriental despotism; when
Marius and Caesar overthrew the Roman patricians, their idea was
to give bread to the people; when Christianity revolutionized the
world, its idea was to emancipate mankind, and to substitute the
worship of one God for the deities of Epicurus and Homer; when
France rose in '89, her idea was liberty and equality before the
law.  There has been no true revolution, says M. Cousin, with out
its idea; so that where an idea does not exist, or even fails of
a formal expression, revolution is impossible.  There are mobs,
conspirators, rioters, regicides.  There are no revolutionists. 
Society, devoid of ideas, twists and tosses about, and dies in
the midst of its fruitless labor.

Nevertheless, you all feel that a revolution is to come, and that
you alone can accomplish it.  What, then, is the idea which
governs you, proletaires of the nineteenth century?--for really I
cannot call you revolutionists.  What do you think?--what do you
believe?--what do you want?  Be guarded in your reply.  I
have read faithfully your favorite journals, your most esteemed
authors.  I find everywhere only vain and puerile _entites_;
nowhere do I discover an idea.

I will explain the meaning of this word _entite_,--new, without
doubt, to most of you.

By _entite_ is generally understood a substance which the
imagination grasps, but which is incognizable by the senses and
the reason.  Thus the SOPORIFIC POWER of opium, of which
Sganarelle speaks, and the PECCANT HUMORS of ancient medicine,
are _entites_.  The _entite_ is the support of those who do not
wish to confess their ignorance.  It is incomprehensible; or, as
St. Paul says, the _argumentum non apparentium_.  In philosophy,
the _entite_ is often only a repetition of words which add
nothing to the thought.

For example, when M. Pierre Leroux--who says so many excellent
things, but who is too fond, in my opinion, of his Platonic
formulas--assures us that the evils of humanity are due to our
IGNORANCE OF LIFE, M. Pierre Leroux utters an _entite;_ for it
is evident that if we are evil it is because we do not know how
to live; but the knowledge of this fact is of no value to us.

When M. Edgar Quinet declares that France suffers and declines
because there is an ANTAGONISM of men and of interests, he
declares an _entite;_ for the problem is to discover the cause of
this antagonism.

When M. Lamennais, in thunder tones, preaches self-sacrifice and
love, he proclaims two _entites_; for we need to know on what
conditions self-sacrifice and love can spring up and exist.

So also, proletaires, when you talk of LIBERTY, PROGRESS, and
THE SOVEREIGNTY OF THE PEOPLE, you make of these naturally
intelligible things so many _entites_ in space: for, on the one
hand, we need a new definition of liberty, since that of '89
no longer suffices; and, on the other, we must know in what
direction society should proceed in order to be in progress.  As
for the sovereignty of the people, that is a grosser _entite_
than the sovereignty of reason; it is the _entite_ of _entites_. 
In fact, since sovereignty can no more be conceived of outside of
the people than outside of reason, it remains to be ascertained
who, among the people, shall exercise the sovereignty; and, among
so many minds, which shall be the sovereigns.  To say that the
people should elect their representatives is to say that the
people should recognize their sovereigns, which does not remove
the difficulty at all.

But suppose that, equal by birth, equal before the law, equal in
personality, equal in social functions, you wish also to be equal
in conditions.

Suppose that, perceiving all the mutual relations of men, whether
they produce or exchange or consume, to be relations of
commutative justice,--in a word, social relations; suppose, I
say, that, perceiving this, you wish to give this natural society
a legal existence, and to establish the fact by law,--

I say that then you need a clear, positive, and exact expression
of your whole idea,--that is, an expression which states at once
the principle, the means, and the end; and I add that that
expression is ASSOCIATION.

And since the association of the human race dates, at least
rightfully, from the beginning of the world, and has gradually
established and perfected itself by successively divesting itself
of its negative elements, slavery, nobility, despotism,
aristocracy, and feudalism,--I say that, to eliminate the last
negation of society, to formulate the last revolutionary idea,
you must change your old rallying-cries, NO MORE ABSOLUTISM,

But I know what astonishes you, poor souls, blasted by the wind
of poverty, and crushed by your patrons' pride: it is EQUALITY,
whose consequences frighten you.  How, you have said in your
journal,--how can we "dream of a level which, being unnatural, is
therefore unjust?  How shall we pay the day's labor of a Cormenin
or a Lamennais?"

Plebeians, listen!  When, after the battle of Salamis, the
Athenians assembled to award the prizes for courage, after the
ballots had been collected, it was found that each combatant had
one vote for the first prize, and Themistocles all the votes for
the second.  The people of Minerva were crowned by their own
hands.  Truly heroic souls! all were worthy of the olive-branch,
since all had ventured to claim it for themselves.  Antiquity
praised this sublime spirit.  Learn, proletaires, to esteem
yourselves, and to respect your dignity.  You wish to be free,
and you know not how to be citizens.  Now, whoever says
"citizens" necessarily says equals.

If I should call myself Lamennais or Cormenin, and some journal,
speaking of me, should burst forth with these hyperboles,
CHARACTER, I should not like it, and should complain,--first,
because such eulogies are never deserved; and, second, because
they furnish a bad example.  But I wish, in order to reconcile
you to equality, to measure for you the greatest literary
personage of our century.  Do not accuse me of envy, proletaires,
if I, a defender of equality, estimate at their proper value
talents which are universally admired, and which I, better than
any one, know how to recognize.  A dwarf can always measure a
giant: all that he needs is a yardstick.

You have seen the pretentious announcements of "L'Esquisse d'une
Philosophie," and you have admired the work on trust; for either
you have not read it, or, if you have, you are incapable of
judging it.  Acquaint yourselves, then, with this speculation
more brilliant than sound; and, while admiring the enthusiasm of
the author, cease to pity those useful labors which only habit
and the great number of the persons engaged in them render
contemptible.  I shall be brief; for, notwithstanding the
importance of the subject and the genius of the author, what I
have to say is of but little moment.

M. Lamennais starts with the existence of God.  How does he
demonstrate it?  By Cicero's argument,--that is, by the consent
of the human race.  There is nothing new in that.  We have still
to find out whether the belief of the human race is legitimate;
or, as Kant says, whether our subjective certainty of the
existence of God corresponds with the objective truth.  This,
however, does not trouble M. Lamennais.  He says that, if the
human race believes, it is because it has a reason for believing.

Then, having pronounced the name of God, M. Lamennais sings a
hymn; and that is his demonstration!

This first hypothesis admitted, M. Lamennais follows it with a
second; namely, that there are three persons in God.  But, while
Christianity teaches the dogma of the Trinity only on the
authority of revelation, M. Lamennais pretends to arrive at it by
the sole force of argument; and he does not perceive that his
pretended demonstration is, from beginning to end,
anthropomorphism,--that is, an ascription of the faculties of the
human mind and the powers of nature to the Divine substance.  New
songs, new hymns!

God and the Trinity thus DEMONSTRATED, the philosopher passes
to the creation,--a third hypothesis, in which M. Lamennais,
always eloquent, varied, and sublime, DEMONSTRATES that God
made the world neither of nothing, nor of something, nor of
himself; that he was free in creating, but that nevertheless he
could not but create; that there is in matter a matter which is
not matter; that the archetypal ideas of the world are separated
from each other, in the Divine mind, by a division which is
obscure and unintelligible, and yet substantial and real, which
involves intelligibility, &c.  We meet with like contradictions
concerning the origin of evil.  To explain this problem,--one of
the profoundest in philosophy,--M. Lamennais at one time denies
evil, at another makes God the author of evil, and at still
another seeks outside of God a first cause which is not God,--an
amalgam of _entites_ more or less incoherent, borrowed from
Plato, Proclus, Spinoza, I might say even from all philosophers.

Having thus established his trinity of hypotheses, M. Lamennais
deduces therefrom, by a badly connected chain of analogies, his
whole philosophy.  And it is here especially that we notice the
syncretism which is peculiar to him.  The theory of M. Lamennais
embraces all systems, and supports all opinions.  Are you a
materialist?  Suppress, as useless _entites_, the three persons
in God; then, starting directly from heat, light, and electro-
magnetism,--which, according to the author, are the three
original fluids, the three primary external manifestations of
Will, Intelligence, and Love,--you have a materialistic and
atheistic cosmogony.  On the contrary, are you wedded to
spiritualism?  With the theory of the immateriality of the body,
you are able to see everywhere nothing but spirits.  Finally, if
you incline to pantheism, you will be satisfied by M. Lamennais,
who formally teaches that the world is not an EMANATION from
Divinity,--which is pure pantheism,--but a FLOW of Divinity.

I do not pretend, however, to deny that "L'Esquisse" contains
some excellent things; but, by the author's declaration, these
things are not original with him; it is the system which is his. 
That is undoubtedly the reason why M. Lamennais speaks so
contemptuously of his predecessors in philosophy, and disdains to
quote his originals.  He thinks that, since "L'Esquisse" contains
all true philosophy, the world will lose nothing when the names
and works of the old philosophers perish.  M. Lamennais, who
renders glory to God in beautiful songs, does not know how as
well to render justice to his fellows.  His fatal fault is this
appropriation of knowledge, which the theologians call the
which will not damn you, proletaires, nor me either.

In short, "L'Esquisse," judged as a system, and divested of all
which its author borrows from previous systems, is a commonplace
work, whose method consists in constantly explaining the known by
the unknown, and in giving entites for abstractions, and
tautologies for proofs.  Its whole theodicy is a work not of
genius but of imagination, a patching up of neo-Platonic ideas. 
The psychological portion amounts to nothing, M. Lamennais openly
ridiculing labors of this character, without which, however,
metaphysics is impossible.  The book, which treats of logic and
its methods, is weak, vague, and shallow.  Finally, we find in
the physical and physiological speculations which M. Lamennais
deduces from his trinitarian cosmogony grave errors, the
preconceived design of accommodating facts to theory, and the
substitution in almost every case of hypothesis for reality.  The
third volume on industry and art is the most interesting to read,
and the best.  It is true that M. Lamennais can boast of
nothing but his style.  As a philosopher, he has added not a
single idea to those which existed before him.

Why, then, this excessive mediocrity of M. Lamennais considered
as a thinker, a mediocrity which disclosed itself at the time of
the publication of the "Essai sur l'Indifference!"?  It is
because (remember this well, proletaires!)  Nature makes no man
truly complete, and because the development of certain faculties
almost always excludes an equal development of the opposite
faculties; it is because M. Lamennais is preeminently a poet, a
man of feeling and sentiment.  Look at his style,--exuberant,
sonorous, picturesque, vehement, full of exaggeration and
invective,--and hold it for certain that no man possessed of such
a style was ever a true metaphysician.  This wealth of expression
and illustration, which everybody admires, becomes in M Lamennais
the incurable cause of his philosophical impotence.  His flow of
language, and his sensitive nature misleading his imagination, he
thinks that he is reasoning when he is only repeating himself,
and readily takes a description for a logical deduction.  Hence
his horror of positive ideas, his feeble powers of analysis, his
pronounced taste for indefinite analogies, verbal abstractions,
hypothetical generalities, in short, all sorts of entites.

Further, the entire life of M. Lamennais is conclusive proof of
his anti-philosophical genius.  Devout even to mysticism, an
ardent ultramontane, an intolerant theocrat, he at first feels
the double influence of the religious reaction and the literary
theories which marked the beginning of this century, and falls
back to the middle ages and Gregory VII.; then, suddenly becoming
a progressive Christian and a democrat, he gradually leans
towards rationalism, and finally falls into deism.  At present,
everybody waits at the trap-door.  As for me, though I would not
swear to it, I am inclined to think that M. Lamennais,
already taken with scepticism, will die in a state of
indifference.  He owes to individual reason and methodical doubt
this expiation of his early essays.

It has been pretended that M. Lamennais, preaching now a
theocracy, now universal democracy, has been always consistent;
that, under different names, he has sought invariably one and the
same thing,--unity.  Pitiful excuse for an author surprised in
the very act of contradiction!  What would be thought of a man
who, by turns a servant of despotism under Louis XVI, a
demagogue with Robespierre, a courtier of the Emperor, a bigot
during fifteen years of the Restoration, a conservative since
1830, should dare to say that he ever had wished for but one
thing,--public order?  Would he be regarded as any the less a
renegade from all parties?  Public order, unity, the world's
welfare, social harmony, the union of the nations,--concerning
each of these things there is no possible difference of opinion. 
Everybody wishes them; the character of the publicist depends
only upon the means by which he proposes to arrive at them.  But
why look to M. Lamennais for a steadfastness of opinion, which he
himself repudiates?  Has he not said, "The mind has no law; that
which I believe to-day, I did not believe yesterday; I do not
know that I shall believe it to-morrow"?

No; there is no real superiority among men, since all talents and
capacities are combined never in one individual.  This man has
the power of thought, that one imagination and style, still
another industrial and commercial capacity.  By our very nature
and education, we possess only special aptitudes which are
limited and confined, and which become consequently more
necessary as they gain in depth and strength.  Capacities are to
each other as functions and persons; who would dare to classify
them in ranks?  The finest genius is, by the laws of his
existence and development, the most dependent upon the society
which creates him.  Who would dare to make a god of the glorious

"It is not strength which makes the man," said a Hercules of the
market-place to the admiring crowd; "it is character."  That man,
who had only his muscles, held force in contempt.  The lesson is
a good one, proletaires; we should profit by it.  It is not
talent (which is also a force), it is not knowledge, it is not
beauty which makes the man.  It is heart, courage, will, virtue. 
Now, if we are equal in that which makes us men, how can the
accidental distribution of secondary faculties detract from our

Remember that privilege is naturally and inevitably the lot of
the weak; and do not be misled by the fame which accompanies
certain talents whose greatest merit consists in their rarity,
and a long and toilsome apprenticeship.  It is easier for M.
Lamennais to recite a philippic, or sing a humanitarian ode after
the Platonic fashion, than to discover a single useful truth; it
is easier for an economist to apply the laws of production and
distribution than to write ten lines in the style of M.
Lamennais; it is easier for both to speak than to act.  You,
then, who put your hands to the work, who alone truly create, why
do you wish me to admit your inferiority?  But, what am I saying?

Yes, you are inferior, for you lack virtue and will!  Ready for
labor and for battle, you have, when liberty and equality are in
question, neither courage nor character!

In the preface to his pamphlet on "Le Pays et le Gouvernement,"
as well as in his defence before the jury, M. Lamennais frankly
declared himself an advocate of property.  Out of regard for the
author and his misfortune, I shall abstain from characterizing
this declaration, and from examining these two sorrowful
performances.  M. Lamennais seems to be only the tool of a quasi-
radical party, which flatters him in order to use him, without
respect for a glorious, but hence forth powerless, old age.  What
means this profession of faith?  From the first number of
"L'Avenir" to "L'Esquisse d'une Philosophie," M. Lamennais always
favors equality, association, and even a sort of vague and
indefinite communism.  M. Lamennais, in recognizing the right of
property, gives the lie to his past career, and renounces his
most generous tendencies.  Can it, then, be true that in this
man, who has been too roughly treated, but who is also too easily
flattered, strength of talent has already outlived strength of

It is said that M. Lamennais has rejected the offers of several
of his friends to try to procure for him a commutation of his
sentence.  M. Lamennais prefers to serve out his time.  May not
this affectation of a false stoicism come from the same source as
his recognition of the right of property?  The Huron, when taken
prisoner, hurls insults and threats at his conqueror,--that is
the heroism of the savage; the martyr prays for his executioners,
and is willing to receive from them his life,--that is the
heroism of the Christian.  Why has the apostle of love become an
apostle of anger and revenge?  Has, then, the translator of
"L'Imitation" forgotten that he who offends charity cannot honor
virtue?  Galileo, retracting on his knees before the tribunal of
the inquisition his heresy in regard to the movement of the
earth, and recovering at that price his liberty, seems to me a
hundred times grander than M. Lamennais.  What! if we suffer for
truth and justice, must we, in retaliation, thrust our
persecutors outside the pale of human society; and, when
sentenced to an unjust punishment, must we decline exemption if
it is offered to us, because it pleases a few base
satellites to call it a pardon?  Such is not the wisdom of
Christianity.  But I forgot that in the presence of M. Lamennais
this name is no longer pronounced.  May the prophet of "L'Avenir"
be soon restored to liberty and his friends; but, above all, may
he henceforth derive his inspiration only from his genius and his

O proletaires, proletaires! how long are you to be victimized by
this spirit of revenge and implacable hatred which your false
friends kindle, and which, perhaps, has done more harm to the
development of reformatory ideas than the corruption, ignorance,
and malice of the government?  Believe me, at the present time
everybody is to blame.  In fact, in intention, or in example, all
are found wanting; and you have no right to accuse any one.  The
king himself (God forgive me!  I do not like to justify a
king),--the king himself is, like his predecessors, only the
personification of an idea, and an idea, proletaires, which
possesses you yet.  His greatest wrong consists in wishing for
its complete realization, while you wish it realized only
partially,--consequently, in being logical in his government;
while you, in your complaints, are not at all so.  You clamor for
a second regicide.  He that is without sin among you,--let him
cast at the prince of property the first stone!

How successful you would have been if, in order to influence men,
you had appealed to the self-love of men,--if, in order to alter
the constitution and the law, you had placed yourselves within
the constitution and the law!  Fifty thousand laws, they say,
make up our political and civil codes.  Of these fifty thousand
laws, twenty-five thousand are for you, twenty-five thousand
against you.  Is it not clear that your duty is to oppose the
former to the latter, and thus, by the argument of contradiction,
drive privilege into its last ditch?  This method of action
is henceforth the only useful one, being the only moral and
rational one.

For my part, if I had the ear of this nation, to which I am
attached by birth and predilection, with no intention of playing
the leading part in the future republic, I would instruct the
laboring masses to conquer property through institutions and
judicial pleadings; to seek auxiliaries and accomplices in the
highest ranks of society, and to ruin all privileged classes by
taking advantage of their common desire for power and popularity.

The petition for the electoral reform has already received two
hundred thousand signatures, and the illustrious Arago threatens
us with a million.  Surely, that will be well done; but from this
million of citizens, who are as willing to vote for an emperor as
for equality, could we not select ten thousand signatures--I mean
bona fide signatures--whose authors can read, write, cipher,
and even think a little, and whom we could invite, after due
perusal and verbal explanation, to sign such a petition as the


"MONSIEUR LE MINISTRE,--On the day when a royal ordinance,
decreeing the establishment of model national workshops, shall
appear in the `Moniteur,' the undersigned, to the number of TEN
THOUSAND, will repair to the Palace of the Tuileries, and there,
with all the power of their lungs, will shout, `Long live Louis

"On the day when the `Moniteur' shall inform the public that this
petition is refused, the undersigned, to the number of TEN
THOUSAND, will say secretly in their hearts, `Down with Louis

If I am not mistaken, such a petition would have some effect.[1] 
The pleasure of a popular ovation would be well worth the
sacrifice of a few millions.  They sow so much to
reap unpopularity!  Then, if the nation, its hopes of 1830
restored, should feel it its duty to keep its promise,--and it
would keep it, for the word of the nation is, like that of God,
sacred,--if, I say, the nation, reconciled by this act with the
public-spirited monarchy, should bear to the foot of the throne
its cheers and its vows, and should at that solemn moment choose
me to speak in its name, the following would be the substance of
my speech:--

[1]  The electoral reform, it is continually asserted, is not an
END, but a MEANS.  Undoubtedly; but what, then, is the end? 
Why not furnish an unequivocal explanation of its object?  How
can the people choose their representatives, unless they know in
advance the purpose for which they choose them, and the object of
the commission which they entrust to them?

But, it is said, the very business of those chosen by the people
is to find out the object of the reform.

That is a quibble.  What is to hinder these persons, who are to
be elected in future, from first seeking for this object, and
then, when they have found it, from communicating it to the
people?  The reformers have well said, that, while the object of
the electoral reform remains in the least indefinite, it will be
only a means of transferring power from the hands of petty
tyrants to the hands of other tyrants.  We know already how a
nation may be oppressed by being led to believe that it is
obeying only its own laws.  The history of universal suffrage,
among all nations, is the history of the restrictions of liberty
by and in the name of the multitude.

Still, if the electoral reform, in its present shape, were
rational, practical, acceptable to clean consciences and upright
minds, perhaps one might be excused, though ignorant of its
object, for supporting it.  But, no; the text of the petition
determines nothing, makes no distinctions, requires no
conditions, no guarantee; it establishes the right without the
duty.  "Every Frenchman is a voter, and eligible to office."  As
well say:  "Every bayonet is intelligent, every savage is
civilized, every slave is free."  In its vague generality, the
reformatory petition is the weakest of abstractions, or the
highest form of political treason.  Consequently, the enlightened
patriots distrust and despise each other.  The most radical
writer of the time,--he whose economical and social theories are,
without comparison, the most advanced,--M. Leroux, has taken a
bold stand against universal suffrage and democratic government,
and has written an exceedingly keen criticism of J. J. Rousseau. 
That is undoubtedly the reason why M. Leroux is no longer the
philosopher of "Le National."  That journal, like Napoleon, does
not like men of ideas.  Nevertheless, "Le National" ought to know
that he who fights against ideas will perish by ideas.

"SIRE,--This is what the nation wishes to say to your Majesty:--

"O King! you see what it costs to gain the applause of the
citizens.  Would you like us henceforth to take for our motto: 
`Let us help the King, the King will help us'?  Do you wish the
people to cry:  `THE KING AND THE FRENCH NATION'?  Then abandon
these grasping bankers, these quarrelsome lawyers, these
miserable bourgeois, these infamous writers, these dishonored
men.  All these, Sire, hate you, and continue to support you only
because they fear us.  Finish the work of our kings; wipe out
aristocracy and privilege; consult with these faithful
proletaires, with the nation, which alone can honor a sovereign
and sincerely shout, `Long live the king!'"

The rest of what I have to say, sir, is for you alone; others
would not understand me.  You are, I perceive, a republican as
well as an economist, and your patriotism revolts at the very
idea of addressing to the authorities a petition in which the
government of Louis Philippe should be tacitly recognized. 
"National workshops! it were well to have such institutions
established," you think; "but patriotic hearts never will accept
them from an aristocratic ministry, nor by the courtesy of a
king."  Already, undoubtedly, your old prejudices have returned,
and you now regard me only as a sophist, as ready to flatter the
powers that be as to dishonor, by pushing them to an extreme, the
principles of equality and universal fraternity.

What shall I say to you? . . .  That I should so lightly
compromise the future of my theories, either this clever
sophistry which is attributed to me must be at bottom a very
trifling affair, or else my convictions must be so firm that they
deprive me of free-will.

But, not to insist further on the necessity of a compromise
between the executive power and the people, it seems to me, sir,
that, in doubting my patriotism, you reason very capriciously,
and that your judgments are exceedingly rash.  You, sir,
ostensibly defending government and property, are allowed to
be a republican, reformer, phalansterian, any thing you wish; I,
on the contrary, demanding distinctly enough a slight reform in
public economy, am foreordained a conservative, and likewise a
friend of the dynasty.  I cannot explain myself more clearly.  So
firm a believer am I in the philosophy of accomplished facts and
the _statu quo_ of governmental forms that, instead of destroying
that which exists and beginning over again the past, I prefer to
render every thing legitimate by correcting it.  It is true that
the corrections which I propose, though respecting the form, tend
to finally change the nature of the things corrected.  Who denies
it?  But it is precisely that which constitutes my system of
_statu quo_.  I make no war upon symbols, figures, or phantoms. 
I respect scarecrows, and bow before bugbears.  I ask, on the one
hand, that property be left as it is, but that interest on all
kinds of capital be gradually lowered and finally abolished; on
the other hand, that the charter be maintained in its present
shape, but that method be introduced into administration and
politics.  That is all.  Nevertheless, submitting to all that is,
though not satisfied with it, I endeavor to conform to the
established order, and to render unto Caesar the things that are
Caesar's.  Is it thought, for instance, that I love
property? . . .  Very well; I am myself a proprietor and do
homage to the right of increase, as is proved by the fact that I
have creditors to whom I faithfully pay, every year, a large
amount of interest.  The same with politics.  Since we are a
monarchy, I would cry, "LONG LIVE THE KING," rather than suffer
death; which does not prevent me, however, from demanding that
the irremovable, inviolable, and hereditary representative of the
nation shall act with the proletaires against the privileged
classes; in a word, that the king shall become the leader of the
radical party.  Thereby we proletaires would gain every
thing; and I am sure that, at this price, Louis Philippe might
secure to his family the perpetual presidency of the republic. 
And this is why I think so.

If there existed in France but one great functional inequality,
the duty of the functionary being, from one end of the year to
the other, to hold full court of savants, artists, soldiers,
deputies, inspectors, &c., it is evident that the expenses of the
presidency then would be the national expenses; and that, through
the reversion of the civil list to the mass of consumers, the
great inequality of which I speak would form an exact equation
with the whole nation.  Of this no economist needs a
demonstration.  Consequently, there would be no more fear of
cliques, courtiers, and appanages, since no new inequality could
be established.  The king, as king, would have friends (unheard-
of thing), but no family.  His relatives or kinsmen,--_agnats et
cognats_,--if they were fools, would be nothing to him; and in no
case, with the exception of the heir apparent, would they have,
even in court, more privileges than others.  No more nepotism, no
more favor, no more baseness.  No one would go to court save when
duty required, or when called by an honorable distinction; and as
all conditions would be equal and all functions equally honored,
there would be no other emulation than that of merit and virtue. 
I wish the king of the French could say without shame, "My
brother the gardener, my sister-in-law the milk-maid, my son the
prince-royal, and my son the blacksmith." His daughter might well
be an artist.  That would be beautiful, sir; that would be royal;
no one but a buffoon could fail to understand it.

In this way, I have come to think that the forms of royalty may
be made to harmonize with the requirements of equality, and have
given a monarchical form to my republican spirit.  I have
seen that France contains by no means as many democrats as is
generally supposed, and I have compromised with the monarchy.  I
do not say, however, that, if France wanted a republic, I could
not accommodate myself equally well, and perhaps better.  By
nature, I hate all signs of distinction, crosses of honor, gold
lace, liveries, costumes, honorary titles, &c., and, above all,
parades.  If I had my way, no general should be distinguished
from a soldier, nor a peer of France from a peasant.  Why have I
never taken part in a review? for I am happy to say, sir, that I
am a national guard; I have nothing else in the world but that. 
Because the review is always held at a place which I do not like,
and because they have fools for officers whom I am compelled to
obey.  You see,--and this is not the best of my history,--that,
in spite of my conservative opinions, my life is a perpetual
sacrifice to the republic.

Nevertheless, I doubt if such simplicity would be agreeable to
French vanity, to that inordinate love of distinction and
flattery which makes our nation the most frivolous in the world. 
M. Lamartine, in his grand "Meditation on Bonaparte," calls the
French A NATION OF BRUTUSES.  We are merely a nation of
Narcissuses.  Previous to '89, we had the aristocracy of blood;
then every bourgeois looked down upon the commonalty, and
wished to be a nobleman.  Afterwards, distinction was based on
wealth, and the bourgeoisie jealous of the nobility, and proud
of their money, used 1830 to promote, not liberty by any means,
but the aristocracy of wealth.  When, through the force of
events, and the natural laws of society, for the development of
which France offers such free play, equality shall be established
in functions and fortunes, then the beaux and the belles, the
savants and the artists, will form new classes.  There is a
universal and innate desire in this Gallic country for fame
and glory.  We must have distinctions, be they what they may,--
nobility, wealth, talent, beauty, or dress.  I suspect MM. Arage
and Garnier-Pages of having aristocratic manners, and I picture
to myself our great journalists, in their columns so friendly to
the people, administering rough kicks to the compositors in their
printing offices.

"This man," once said "Le National" in speaking of Carrel, "whom
we had proclaimed FIRST CONSUL! . . .  Is it not true that the
monarchical principle still lives in the hearts of our democrats,
and that they want universal suffrage in order to make themselves
kings?  Since "Le National" prides itself on holding more fixed
opinions than "Le Journal des Debats," I presume that, Armand
Carrel being dead, M. Armand Marrast is now first consul, and M.
Garnier-Pages second consul.  In every thing the deputy must give
way to the journalist.  I do not speak of M. Arago, whom I
believe to be, in spite of calumny, too learned for the
consulship.  Be it so.  Though we have consuls, our position is
not much altered.  I am ready to yield my share of sovereignty to
MM. Armand Marrast and Garnier-Pages, the appointed consuls,
provided they will swear on entering upon the duties of their
office, to abolish property and not be haughty.

Forever promises!  Forever oaths!  Why should the people trust in
tribunes, when kings perjure themselves?  Alas! truth and honesty
are no longer, as in the days of King John, in the mouth of
princes.  A whole senate has been convicted of felony, and, the
interest of the governors always being, for some mysterious
reason, opposed to the interest of the governed, parliaments
follow each other while the nation dies of hunger.  No, no!  No
more protectors, no more emperors, no more consuls.  Better
manage our affairs ourselves than through agents.  Better
associate our industries than beg from monopolies; and, since the
republic cannot dispense with virtues, we should labor for our

This, therefore, is my line of conduct.  I preach emancipation to
the proletaires; association to the laborers; equality to the
wealthy.  I push forward the revolution by all means in my
power,--the tongue, the pen, the press, by action, and example. 
My life is a continual apostleship.

Yes, I am a reformer; I say it as I think it, in good faith, and
that I may be no longer reproached for my vanity.  I wish to
convert the world.  Very likely this fancy springs from an
enthusiastic pride which may have turned to delirium; but it will
be admitted at least that I have plenty of company, and that my
madness is not monomania.  At the present day, everybody wishes
to be reckoned among the lunatics of Beranger.  To say nothing of
the Babeufs, the Marats, and the Robespierres, who swarm in our
streets and workshops, all the great reformers of antiquity live
again in the most illustrious personages of our time.  One is
Jesus Christ, another Moses, a third Mahomet; this is Orpheus,
that Plato, or Pythagoras.  Gregory VII., himself, has risen from
the grave together with the evangelists and the apostles; and it
may turn out that even I am that slave who, having escaped from
his master's house, was forthwith made a bishop and a reformer by
St. Paul.  As for the virgins and holy women, they are expected
daily; at present, we have only Aspasias and courtesans.

Now, as in all diseases, the diagnostic varies according to the
temperament, so my madness has its peculiar aspects and
distinguishing characteristic.

Reformers, as a general thing, are jealous of their role; they
suffer no rivals, they want no partners; they have
disciples, but no co-laborers.  It is my desire, on the
contrary, to communicate my enthusiasm, and to make it, as far as
I can, epidemic.  I wish that all were, like myself, reformers,
in order that there might be no more sects; and that Christs,
Anti-Christs, and false Christs might be forced to understand and
agree with each other.

Again, every reformer is a magician, or at least desires to
become one.  Thus Moses, Jesus Christ, and the apostles, proved
their mission by miracles.  Mahomet ridiculed miracles after
having endeavored to perform them.  Fourier, more cunning,
promises us wonders when the globe shall be covered with
phalansteries.  For myself, I have as great a horror of miracles
as of authorities, and aim only at logic.  That is why I
continually search after the criterion of certainty.  I work
for the reformation of ideas.  Little matters it that they find
me dry and austere.  I mean to conquer by a bold struggle, or die
in the attempt; and whoever shall come to the defence of
property, I swear that I will force him to argue like M.
Considerant, or philosophize like M. Troplong.

Finally,--and it is here that I differ most from my compeers,--I
do not believe it necessary, in order to reach equality, to turn
every thing topsy-turvy.  To maintain that nothing but an
overturn can lead to reform is, in my judgment, to construct a
syllogism, and to look for the truth in the regions of the
unknown.  Now, I am for generalization, induction, and progress. 
I regard general disappropriation as impossible: attacked from
that point, the problem of universal association seems to me
insolvable.  Property is like the dragon which Hercules killed:
to destroy it, it must be taken, not by the head, but by the
tail,--that is, by profit and interest.

I stop.  I have said enough to satisfy any one who can read
and understand.  The surest way by which the government can
baffle intrigues and break up parties is to take possession of
science, and point out to the nation, at an already appreciable
distance, the rising oriflamme of equality; to say to those
politicians of the tribune and the press, for whose fruitless
quarrels we pay so dearly, "You are rushing forward, blind as you
are, to the abolition of property; but the government marches
with its eyes open.  You hasten the future by unprincipled and
insincere controversy; but the government, which knows this
future, leads you thither by a happy and peaceful transition. 
The present generation will not pass away before France, the
guide and model of civilized nations, has regained her rank and
legitimate influence."

But, alas! the government itself,--who shall enlighten it?  Who
can induce it to accept this doctrine of equality, whose terrible
but decisive formula the most generous minds hardly dare to
acknowledge? . . .  I feel my whole being tremble when I think
that the testimony of three men--yes, of three men who make it
their business to teach and define--would suffice to give full
play to public opinion, to change beliefs, and to fix destinies. 
Will not the three men be found? . . .

May we hope, or not?  What must we think of those who govern us? 
In the world of sorrow in which the proletaire moves, and where
nothing is known of the intentions of power, it must be said that
despair prevails.  But you, sir,--you, who by function belong to
the official world; you, in whom the people recognize one of
their noblest friends, and property its most prudent adversary,--
what say you of our deputies, our ministers, our king?  Do you
believe that the authorities are friendly to us?  Then let the
government declare its position; let it print its profession of
faith in equality, and I am dumb.  Otherwise, I shall continue
the war; and the more obstinacy and malice is shown, the
oftener will I redouble my energy and audacity.  I have said
before, and I repeat it,--I have sworn, not on the dagger and the
death's-head, amid the horrors of a catacomb, and in the presence
of men besmeared with blood; but I have sworn on my conscience to
pursue property, to grant it neither peace nor truce, until I see
it everywhere execrated.  I have not yet published half the
things that I have to say concerning the right of domain, nor the
best things.  Let the knights of property, if there are any who
fight otherwise than by retreating, be prepared every day for a
new demonstration and accusation; let them enter the arena armed
with reason and knowledge, not wrapped up in sophisms, for
justice will be done.

"To become enlightened, we must have liberty.  That alone
suffices; but it must be the liberty to use the reason in regard
to all public matters.

"And yet we hear on every hand authorities of all kinds and
degrees crying:  `Do not reason!'

"If a distinction is wanted, here is one:--

"The PUBLIC use of the reason always should be free, but the
PRIVATE use ought always to be rigidly restricted.  By public
use, I mean the scientific, literary use; by private, that which
may be taken advantage of by civil officials and public
functionaries.  Since the governmental machinery must be kept in
motion, in order to preserve unity and attain our object, we must
not reason; we must obey.  But the same individual who is bound,
from this point of view, to passive obedience, has the right to
speak in his capacity of citizen and scholar.  He can make an
appeal to the public, submit to it his observations on events
which occur around him and in the ranks above him, taking care,
however, to avoid offences which are punishable.

"Reason, then, as much as you like; only, obey."--Kant: 
Fragment on the Liberty of Thought and of the Press.  Tissot's

These words of the great philosopher outline for me my duty.  I
have delayed the reprint of the work entitled "What is
Property?" in order that I might lift the discussion to the
philosophical height from which ridiculous clamor has dragged it
down; and that, by a new presentation of the question, I might
dissipate the fears of good citizens.  I now reenter upon the
public use of my reason, and give truth full swing.  The second
edition of the First Memoir on Property will immediately follow
the publication of this letter.  Before issuing any thing
further, I shall await the observations of my critics, and the
co-operation of the friends of the people and of equality.

Hitherto, I have spoken in my own name, and on my own personal
responsibility.  It was my duty.  I was endeavoring to call
attention to principles which antiquity could not discover,
because it knew nothing of the science which reveals them,--
political economy.  I have, then, testified as to FACTS; in
short, I have been a WITNESS.  Now my role changes.  It
remains for me to deduce the practical consequences of the facts
proclaimed.  The position of PUBLIC PROSECUTOR is the only one
which I am henceforth fitted to fill, and I shall sum up the case
in the name of the PEOPLE.

I am, sir, with all the consideration that I owe to your talent
and your character,

          Your very humble and most obedient servant,
                              P. J. PROUDHON,
                    Pensioner of the Academy of Besancon.

P.S.  During the session of April 2, the Chamber of Deputies
rejected, by a very large majority, the literary-property bill,
BECAUSE IT DID NOT UNDERSTAND IT.  Nevertheless, literary
property is only a special form of the right of property,
which everybody claims to understand.  Let us hope that this
legislative precedent will not be fruitless for the cause of
equality.  The consequence of the vote of the Chamber is the
abolition of capitalistic property,--property incomprehensible,
contradictory, impossible, and absurd.

End of Project Gutenberg's Etext of What is Property?


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