Anarchy: A Journal of Order
[continued from Part 3]
Now when, instead of a single store of money, the country possesses, for the sale of that merchandise, as many shops as there are capitalists, that metallic commodity cannot fail to be cheap. Woolen cloth is not expensive in France thanks to the expansion which free commerce has given to its sale! If it came to be monopolized, as money is at present, the frock coat would become a rare distinction.
Capital being freed, it is labor which is stimulated. Capital and labor are one and the same thing; capital comes from labor and returns there, or rather never leaves it. It moves it. If labor is halted it is because capital is paralyzed. Labor only walks on the legs of capital, but capital only thinks with the head of labor. That duality creates only one body and one aim: production.
Those who have said that there is an essential antagonism between capital and labor have only wanted to preserve the means of governing both. Now, to govern is to exploit. By defying these officious outsiders, capital and labor communicate among themselves without intermediary. As soon as they communicate, they know each other, and when they know each other, they join; for we only make war here below because we do not know one another.
Look closely at society after the suppression of the official opposition, after the working out of the political inertia and the calm which results from it, after the disappearance of the state police and the conversion of the financial system, and you will see how rapidly the transformation develops.
No more stupid declamations in the press; the abstract hair-splitting which has never proven anything, which can prove nothing, which has never made anything but unrest, and which can never make anything but agitation, returns into the darkness. A positive people no longer pay attention to quibbles. The public sphere is rid of those dumb clods who only known how to speak doctrine, because doctrine is like God, like the unknown, like insolubility: the theme of the stupid and the hobbyhorse of fools.
The press, like the people, turning to positivism and industry, the legislation which disturbs and exploits it no longer has any reason to exist. It finds itself repealed in fact, or unenforceable, which comes down to the same thing.
Individual liberty, no longer guaranteed by a scrap of paper, but by the similarly eloquent fact of general security and private confidence; the liberty of industry guaranteed by the best of constitutions—that of anarchic or unregulated credit; the liberty of the press guaranteed by the most august of princes: interest: from these three fundamental liberties must inevitably, inescapably arise all the specific liberties which will be found today immured in the files of five or six ministers. The absorption of the State by individuals will be the work of a year, more or less. In a few months the government, stripped of the budget for the interior, the budget for religion, the budget for public instruction, the budget for labor, the budget for industry and commerce, the budget for agriculture and the budget of the prefecture of police, will find itself, (driven by the force of events and without thought coming to it crying “Help!”) reduced purely and simply to democratic proportions—the minister of foreign affairs and of his two adjuncts, the minister of the navy, which is a permanent position, and the minister of war, which is potential. The government will be, in the end, what it must be, no longer an internal or domestic government but an external or diplomatic government: a chancellery.
As for ourselves, we call that, with or without the permission of the gentlemen revolutionaries, the Revolution: for we are those who want, in fact and not in words, an honest, equitable and good Revolution, a Revolution which will be a great thing as well as a good deal for the noble, the bourgeois and the worker, for before the Revolution as before God, there are neither nobles, nor bourgeois, nor workers. Or rather there are only workers, only bourgeois, and only nobles. There are only individuals and these individuals, from an anarchic or free point of view, will be impoverished and enriched, raised or brought low, ennobled and degraded as conditions or their genius favors or strikes them.
Here then, insofar as we can indicate it, is the character of the revolutionary mechanism:
Convinced as we are, and as experience and the passage of time have forced us to be, that politics, the new theology, is a base intrigue, an art of scoundrels, a strategy for smoky rooms, a school for robbery and murder; persuaded that every man who makes a career of politics, by offensive or defensive title, by governing or opposing, as a director or critic, aims only to prevent some good for another by taxation or confiscation and finds himself ready to descend into the road, with his soldiers or his fanatics, in order to assassinate whomever would dispute the booty with him. We are aware, consequently, that every political man is, without knowing it, doubtless, but effectively, a robber and assassin. We are sure, as we are of the sun that shines on us, that every political question is an abstract question, every bit as insoluble and, consequently, no less idle and no less stupid than a question of theology. So we separate ourselves from politics with the same eagerness that we would show in freeing ourselves from complicity in a crime.
Once separated from the politics that teaches him to hate, to bear envy, to make war on his fellow citizens, to dream of their destruction, to annihilate himself to the point of no longer counting on himself, and to await everything from a government which can give nothing to him that it had not previously taken from others, once, we say, separated from politics, the individual recovers his self-esteem and feels himself worthy of the confidence of others. His activity, snatched from the shadows, unfurls itself in the broad daylight. He leaves the ambush and passes on to labor.
He is poor and without credit, and the beginning will be difficult, but if he never begins, where would things drive him? His intention is good, his activity great, and his will firm. He gathers up his courage, and, there he is, seeking an issue in real society, his natural domain.
He will find that issue inevitably proportional to his merit. It is possible that while suited to watch-making, he will at first only find himself at the forge. It is possible that having knowledge of cabinet work, he will be forced for the moment to do carpentry. It is possible that although he is a lawyer, the absence of clients relegates him at first to studying as a notary, solicitor or bailiff. A journalist, it is possible that he will only find refuge for now in a boarding school or bookkeeping establishment. What does it matter! Every road leads to the goal. He creates, in whatever position he finds, some relations that it is up to him to make amicable. If he really has some aptitudes superior to those that he exercises, he must sooner or later find someone who has an interest in making use of his talent. He possesses himself, and the time, the activity, and discernment necessary to see to his ranking. For the moment, he works, so he speculates; he speculates, so he gains; he gains, so he possesses; he possesses, so he is free. He establishes himself in principled opposition to the State, by possession; for the logic of the State rigorously excludes individual possession; in that, the new apostles of the State doctrine are much more mathematical than the ancients, and Mr. Thiers is only a poor despot beside Louis Blanc. He establishes himself, then, individually by possession. His liberty begins with the first coin, and he will be more free in the future to the extent that he has more coins. That is the naïve and simple truth, the self-evident fact, which demonstrates itself like the light of day.
The rhetoricians will designate as a monarchy or oligarchy, empire or republic the state in which I have coins in my pocket. I don’t give a damn about their reasoning. They attract my attention only when by virtue of who knows what phantasmagoric law of balance, they want to take my coins. Then, let them call themselves monarchists, oligarchs, imperialists or republicans, I observe that my vocabulary permits me to give them another name, infinitely more intelligible and above all more conclusive: I call them crooks.
But what is it that authorizes the crimes of the State? What is it that makes the governments deduct an enormous premium from the time, industry, goods, life and blood of individuals? Fear. If no one in society was afraid, the government wouldn't have to protect anyone, and if the government didn't have to protect anyone, it would no longer have any pretext for demanding from each an account of the use of their time, the character of their industry, or the origin of their goods. It would no longer demand the sacrifice of the blood or life of anyone.
When, to speak only of our profession--and all professions are obstructed like our own--we seek the reason for the numerous hindrances which are placed in our path; when we ask why we have to consult the minister, and then the procurator of the Republic, and then again ten prefects of police in order to publish a journal, we find that the government is afraid, but we also discover that the government is stronger than us. What gives that strength to the government? Everyone's money, the public wealth. But if it is accepted that the public wealth pays the government for being afraid, it remains to be shown that it is the public wealth itself which is afraid.
Why is the public wealth afraid? Precisely because it is the stake of political or insurrectionary struggles; precisely because public wealth, which is by nature revolutionary or circulating, finds itself constantly suppressed by the governmental piston of agitation and idleness.
Public wealth sustains government, not for the good that it does--that good is always and everywhere elusive--but for the evil that it is supposed to prevent. The evil that public wealth dreads, and that government is supposed to avert, can only come from government itself, or from the initiative of men who want to bring to the government one system or another; it sustains the politics of Peter because it fears the politics of Paul. Let the Paul-opposition withdraw from politics and the Peter-government is ruined. Since the public wealth sustains Peter only because of the evil that he prevents Paul from accomplishing, as soon as Paul no longer inspires fear and can no longer do evil, as soon as he labors, wealth circulates to him by right, Peter is no longer sustained, his action becomes null, his influence is dead, and his authority evaporates.
Confidence reborn in all minds, free credit is established, the interests develop on the largest scale, well-being is generalized, prosperity becomes universal, civilization is extended to all classes, and the Revolution is accomplished.
Abandon politics completely, and get seriously back to business--this then is the true revolutionary tactic; it is simple, like all that is true, easy like all that is simple, and it is simple, true and easy like all that is just.
The government of the people is neither a doctrine nor an idea, but a fact. That government does not sum itself up in a motto or a color; it has for a symbol a gold coin.
["The Electoral Law"]
[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]