Wednesday, June 27, 2012

P.-J. Proudhon, "Catechism of Marriage"


[from Justice in the Revolution and in the Church, New Edition, Vol. IV]

Question. — What is the conjugal couple?
Answer. — Every power of nature, every faculty of life, every affection of the soul, every category of the intelligence, needs an organ, in order to manifest itself and act. The sentiment of Justice can be no exception to that law. But Justice, which rules all the other faculties and surpasses liberty itself, not being able to have its organ in the individual, would remain for man a notion without efficacy, and society would be impossible, if nature had not provided the juridical organism by making each individual half of a higher being, whose androgynous duality becomes an organ of Justice.
Q. — Why is the individual incapable of serving as an organ of Justice?
A. — Because individuals possess only the sense of their own dignity, which is enough for free will, while Justice is necessarily dual, because it supposes at least two consciences in unison. The dignity of the individual subject would appear only as the first term of Justice, and become respectable even for the individual only insofar as it interests the dignity of others. It is through marriage that man learns, from nature itself, to sense himself as double. His social education and his elevation in Justice will just be the development of this dualism.
Q. — Why, in the juridical organism, are the two persons dissimilar.
A. — Because, if they were similar, they would not complete one another. They would both be independent, without reciprocal action, and they would be incapable, for that reason, of producing Justice.
Q. — How do men and women differ from one another?
A. — In principle, there is no difference between men and women but a simple diminution in the faculties. Man is stronger, and woman weaker. In fact, that decrease of energy creates for the woman, in the moral and physical realms, a qualitative distinction which allows us to give this definition to the two: Man represents the power of that of which woman represents the ideal, and reciprocally, woman represents the ideal of that of which man represents the power. Before the Absolute, man and woman are two equivalent persons, because the strength and the beauty of which they are the incarnations are equivalents.
Q. — What is love?
A. — Love is the attraction that Strength and Beauty inevitably feel for one another. Its nature is consequently not the same in men and women. Moreover, it is through love that both of their consciences work for Justice, and each becomes for the other at once a witness, a judge and a second self.
Q. — How do you define marriage?
A. — Marriage is the sacrament of Justice, the living mystery of universal harmony, and the form given by nature itself to the religion of the human race. In a less elevated sphere, marriage is the act by which men and women, elevating themselves above love and the senses, declare their will to unite according to right, and to pursue, as much as they are capable, the accomplishment of social destiny, by working for the progress of Justice. That definition is related to the definition of Modestin, Juris humani et divini communicatio, which M. Ernest Legouvé translated, with less pomp, as School of mutual perfection.
In this religion of the family we could say that the husband or the father is the priest, the woman is the idol, and the children are the people. There are several initiations: the wedding, the hearth or the table, birth, puberty, the advice, the will and the funeral. All are in the hands of the father. They are nourished by his labor, protected by his sword, subject to his government and his tribunal, inheritors and upholders of his thought. Here is justice, complete, organized and armed. In the father, wife and children, its has found its apparatus, which will only be extended by the increase of families and the development of the city. Authority is there as well, but only temporarily. When the children reach majority, the father preserves only an honorific title with regard to them. Finally, religion is also preserved. While the interpretation of symbols, the habits of science and the exercise of reasoning steadily weaken it everywhere else, it remains in the family, is distilled there, and fears no attack. The revelation of women, entirely ideal, cannot be analyzed, nor denied, nor extinguished.
Q. — How, redeemed by this religion in which it is easy to recognize the embryo of all those that have followed it, does woman remain nonetheless subordinate to man?
A. — It is precisely because women are objects of worship, and because there is no common measure between force and the ideal. In no way does the woman enter into balance with the man. As an industrialist, philosopher or public functionary, she cannot. As a goddess, she must not. She is always too high or too low. The man will die for her, as he died for his faith and his gods, but he will keep the command and responsibility.
A. — Why is marriage, on both sides, monogamous?
A. — Because conscience is shared between the two spouses, and it cannot, without dissolving itself, admit a third participant. Conscience for conscience, like love for love, life for life, soul for soul, liberty for liberty: such is the law of marriage. Introduce another person, and the ideal dies, the religion is lost, the unanimity expires and Justice fades away.
Q. — Why is marriage indissoluble?
A. — Because conscience is immutable. The woman, expression of the ideal, may well, with regard to love, have a double in another woman, and be replaced by that living being; the man, expression of power, may as well. But with regard to the justification of which men and women are agents for one another, they cannot, apart from the case of death, leave one another and mutually give one another an alternative, since that would be to admit their common indignity, to unjustify each other, if we can put it thus; in other words, to become sacrilegious. The man who changes his wife creates a new conscience; he does not improve, but rather corrupts himself.
Q. — Thus you reject divorce?
A. — Absolutely. The civil and religious laws have posited the cases of nullity and of the dissolution of marriage, such individual error, clandestiness, crime, castration and death: these exceptions suffice. As for those tormented by lassitude, the thirst for pleasure, incompatibility of temperament, lack of charity, let them make, as they say, a separation. The worthy spouse only has to heal the wounds to his conscience and heart; the other no longer has the right to aspire to marriage: what he requires is concubinage.
Q. — Is it moral to prohibit the separated from remarrying, casting them into a union of concubinage?
A. — Cohabitation, or concubinage, is a natural combination, freely contracted by two individuals, without the intervention of society, with a view only to amorous enjoyment and subject to separation ad libitum. Apart from some exceptions, produced by the hazards of society and the difficulties of existence, cohabitation is the mark of a weak conscience, and it is with reason that the legislator refuses it the rights and prerogatives of marriage.
But society is not the work of one day; virtue is a difficult practice, without speaking of those to whom marriage is inaccessible. Now, the mission of the legislators, when they cannot obtain the best, is to avoid the worst. At the same time that we rule out divorce, the tendency of which will be to demean marriage by bringing it closer to concubinage, it is advisable, in the interest of women, illegitimate children and public mores, to impose certain obligations on concubinage which lifts it and pushes it towards legitimate union. All of antiquity accepted these principles. The emperor Augustus created a legal state in concubinage; Christianity tolerated it for a long time, and has still never been about to distinguish it from marriage. Consequently, everyone should be declared by law to be concubinaires who, apart from cases of adultery, incest, fornication and prostitution, maintain a commerce in love, whether or not they have a common domicile. Every child born in concubinage will bear by right the name of his father, following the maxim Pater est quem concubinatus demonstrat. The father in concubinage, just like the married father, will also be held to provide for the subsistence and education of his offspring. The neglected concubine would be entitled to compensation, unless she has first engaged in another concubinage.
Q. — What are the forms of marriage?
A. — The are reduced to two: the announcement or publication, and the celebration. Society is involved in these, is the first rank, in the person of the magistrate and witnesses; the families of the couples form the second line, in the person of the parents.
Q. — What do these formalities signify?
A. — We have said that marriage is instituted for the sanctification of love: it is a pact of chastity, charity and justice, by which the spouses declare themselves publically to be freed, both of them by one another, from the tribulations of the flesh and the cares of gallantry. Consequently, it is sacred to all and inviolable. That is why, apart from some stipulations of interest also require publicity, the family and the city appear in the ceremony: the engagement of the couple, made in view of Justice, carries farther than their persons; their conjugal conscience becomes part of the social conscience, and, as the marriage insures their dignity, it is for the society that proclaims it a glory and a progress. Our flawed mores and our ignorance make us misunderstand things: while the concubine, who delivers herself without contract, without guarantee, on a word secretly given, for an allowance of food or a present in coins, like some rented jewelry, hides the secret of her loves and is no longer modest, the bride appears, calm and dignified, without blushing: if she blushed, she would love her innocence.
Q. — This theory of marriage is very specious; but why ask metaphysics for an explanation that nature placed right at hand? Marriage has been instituted in the interest of children and inheritances: we don’t have to look further.
A. — Doubtless, children enter into things; but if the law of generation itself has only been established with an eye to Justice, if the multiplication of humans, their replacement and death is also only explained by juridical purposes, we must admit that the distinction between the sexes, that love and marriage, which enter into that economy, are related to the same ends. The same law which has made the conjugal couple an organ of generation had previously made it an apparatus of Justice: such is the truth.
Q. — Explain more.
A. — Every being is determined in its existence according to the place where it must live and the mission that it has to accomplish. It is thus, for example, that the figure of a sovereign been measured according to the dimensions of the land he exploits. Humanity, before operating at once on all points of the globe, cannot be reduced to a single, gigantic individual: it is necessary that it be multiple, proportioned consequently, in its body and in its faculties, with the extent of its domain and the labors that it has to make there.
Humanity thus being given as a collectivity, two consequences have followed. First, in order to make this multitude of free and intelligent subjects operate together, a law of Justice, written in souls and organized in persons, was necessary: that is the object of marriage. Second, the individuals of which the great humanitary body is composed are replaced successively, after having furnished a career proportional to their vital energy and to the power of their faculties: that is to what nature has provided by generation, and that of which it is now easy for us to penetrate the reasons.
The living being, whatever its liberty, by that same that it is limited, defined in its constitution and in its form, has and can only have one manner of feeling, of thinking and acting, one idea, one aim, one object, one plan, one end, one function, consequently one function, consequently one formula, one style, one tone, one note, expression of its absolute individuality, to which it strives to reduce all natural and social laws. Suppose that the human race was composed of immortal individuals: at some point, civilization would no longer advance; all these individualities, after having been driven by contradictions for some time, will end up balancing each other in a pact of absolutism, and the movement will cease. Death, by renewing the types, produces the same effect here as the war of ideas, organized by the Revolution as the necessary condition of public reason and faith (Study VII).
But it is not only to social progress that death is necessary: it is necessary to the felicity of the individual.
It is not only the case that, to the degree that he advances, man locks himself away in his individualism and becomes an impediment to others; he will end, in this intractable solitude, by becoming an obstacle to himself, to his vitality, to the exercise of his intelligence, to the conquests of his genius, and to the affections of his heart. Even without growing old, by the influence alone of the routine to which he will have been long condemned, he will fall into idiocy: his happiness and glory, as much as the progress of society, demand that he moves on. At that hour, his death is a gain; let him accept it with joy, and make his final hour his last sacrifice rendered to the homeland. Every last one of us, after devoting ourselves to science, Justice, friendship and labor, should end up like Leonidas, Cynaegirus, Curtius, Fabius, Arnold von Winkelried, and the Chevalier d'Assas. Would we complain that death comes to soon?
What pride! We will not even wait, if the occasion presents itself, for old age to give us the sign; we will go while we are young, like Barra and Viala.
Moreover, in leading man to death, to depersonalization, Justice does not destroy him entirely. Justice balances and renews individualities; it does not abolish them. It collects the ideas and works of man; it will preserve, by modifying them, even his character and physiognomy; and it is the interested [individual] himself that justice will charge with his own transmission. It is to him that It will entrust the care of his immortality, by establishing generation and the testament.
Thus man is reproduced in his body and his soul, in his thought, in his affections, in his action, by a dismemberment of his being; and as woman makes a shared conscience with him, she will also make a common generation. The family, extension of the conjugal couple, only develops the organ of jurisdiction; the city, formed by the growth of families, is reproduced in its turn with a higher power. Marriage, family, city, are a single organ; the social destiny is solidary with the matrimonial destiny, and each of us, through this universal communion, lives as much as the human race.
Q. — At base, the assumption of a conscience formed by two stems from the same metaphysics which has already made you suppose a collective reason and collective being. But that metaphysics has a serious fault; it shakes our faith in the whole order of existences, by rendering more and more problematic the simplicity of the soul, the indivisibility of thought, the identity and immutability of the self, and consequently denying their reality.
A. — Why don’t you say instead that this metaphysics, by it series and its antinomies, by the power of its analysis and the productivity of its synthesis, tends to establish the reality of things which hitherto remained pure fictions? It is the principle of composition which makes it possible for man to known; it is to this principle that we owe our certainty. All that we possess of positive science come from it, and nothing which has once been provided by it can be overturned. Why would the same principle not also make being possible? God himself, conceived as the higher, immanent thought of the worlds, and the expression of their harmony, would again become possible with that metaphysics: let us shudder at what its original sin would be...
Q. — Are all members of a society are called to marriage?
A. — No; but all take part in it and receive its influence, by filiation, consanguinity, adoption, love, which, universal in essence, has no need, to act, of union or cohabitation.
Q. — According to this, you do not judge marriage indispensable to happiness?
A. — We must distinguish: from the psychic or spiritual point of view, marriage is a condition of felicity for all of us; the mystical wedding rites celebrated by the religious are an example. Every adult, of sound body and mind, that solitude or abstraction does not sequester from the rest of the living, loves, and, by virtue of that love, makes a marriage in their heart. Physically, that necessity is no longer true: Justice, which is the aim of marriage, and which can be obtained either by domestic initiation, civic communion, or, finally, by mystical love, is sufficient for happiness in all conditions of age and fortune.
Q. — What is the role of women in domestic and social economy?
A. — The care of the household, the education of childhood, the instruction of young girls under the supervision of the magistrates, the service of public charity; we would not dare to add, today, the national holidays and spectacles, that we could describe as the seed-time of love. Aristocratic immorality and the decadence of religious ideas have made the presence of women in these public solemnities an occasion for libertinage: that could change, and it is necessary that it does change.
Q. — No industry, no art, seems to you specially reserved for women?
A. — This is always, in veiled terms, to repeat the question of the political and social equality of the sexes, and to protest against the title of housewife, which, better than that of matron, expresses the vocation of women.
The wife can make herself useful in a wide variety of things, and she must; but, just as her literary production is always reduced to an intimate novel, whose full value is to serve, by love and sentiment, in the popularization of Justice; just so, in the last analysis, her industrial production amounts to secondary labors or housework: she never leaves that circle.
Man is a worker, and woman a housewife: what does she complain about? The more that developing Justice levels conditions and fortunes, the more they will be raised up, one by work, and the other by housework. When the man casts off all exploitation and all bosses, will the woman demand a servant? Where will she find one? Both sexes are born in equal numbers: is that clear?
The household is the full manifestation of the woman. The man, out of wedlock, can do without a home: at college, in the barracks, at the hotels, he finds himself and shows himself complete; lack of privacy does not affect him. For the woman, housework is a necessity of honor, let us say even of toilette. It is at home that the woman is judged; when she goes elsewhere, we do not see her. Daughter, mother, the household is her triumph or her condemnation. Who will tidy her nest, if not her? Does this odalisque require quartermasters, livery, chambermaids, bellhops, some midgets and apes?... We are no longer in a democracy, and we are no longer in marriage; we fall back into feudalism and concubinage.
Q. What is freedom for women?
A. The truly free woman is the chaste woman. The chaste women feel no amorous emotion for anyone, not even for her husband. Why does the young virgin appear so lovely, so desirable, so worthy? She does not feel love; and not feeling love, she is the living image of liberty.
Q. — What part does love play in the marriage contract?
A. — The smallest possible part. When two people come together in marriage, love is supposed to have accomplished its work; the crisis is past, the tempest has dispersed, passion has flown, hyems transiit, imber abiit, as the Song of Songs says. That is why the marriage of pure inclination is so close to shame, and why the father who consents to it is blameworthy. The duty of the father is to establish his children in integrity and Justice; it is the reward of his labors and the joy of his old age to give his daughter, to choose a wife for his son with his own hand. Let young people marry without reluctance, at the right time; but let the fathers not let familial dignity be violated by anyone, and let them remember that physical reproduction is only half of paternity. When a son or a daughter, to satisfy their own inclination, tramples the wishes of their father under foot, disinheritance is for them the first of rights and the holiest of duties.
Q. — What is the earliest age at which it is appropriate to marry?
A. — When the man is made, the laborer formed; when ideas begin to come and Justice to subordinate the ideal: what we can express, following the example of the code, by an arithmetic minimum:
“Men before twenty-six years have passed, and women before twenty-one years, can contract marriage.”
Q. — What can the average period of intimacy be between the two partners?
A. — While the children are very young, the man owes the woman a tribute of caresses: nature wishes it this way, in the interest of the offspring. The child profits from all the love that the father shows to the mother: let us ask no more. When the eldest reach puberty, then, prudent partners, domestic modesty and the defense of your heart command you to abstain. Do not wait for the return of age, the apoplexy and the infirmities of old age to restrain you. You would reach that forced continence only to be pursued to the grave by obscene dreams and tribulations against nature.
Q. — Who, in general, is the man that a young woman should prefer for her husband?
A. — The most righteous.
Q. — Who, in general, is the woman that a man should prefer for his spouse?
A. — The most diligent. — In the man, the most important qualities for the woman are labor and affection: these qualities are guaranteed by la Justice. In the woman, the most important qualities for the man are chastity and devotion: they are guaranteed by diligence.
Q. — What consolation do you offer to those who love unhappily?
A. — To practice Justice with zeal, to that end to marry, after having paid to the lost love a just tribute of mourning. Justice is the heaven where their aching hearts will find one another, and, of all the ways of practicing Justice, the fullest and most perfect is marriage. Such is even, setting aside some other domestic considerations, the only legitimate motive for a second marriage. It is good that of two spouses, two fiancés, separated forever by a premature death, the survivor keeps faith with the deceased, and that faith is especially suited to the wife; but an excessive sadness in a young person betrays more illusion and selfishness than Justice; it would degenerate into a sin against love itself, if the afflicted lover refused the remedy.
Q. — What are, in order of gravity, the principal acts that you consider crimes and offenses against marriage?
A. — Adultery, incest, debauchery, seduction, rape, onanism, fornication and prostitution.
Q. — What is it, apart from general considerations of personal dignity, of respect for other, and of sworn faith, constitutes the culpability of these acts?
A. The common character that distinguishes them is to strike the family in its most sacred aspect, namely the domestic religion, consequently to annihilate, among the guilty and their accomplices, Justice in its source.
Thus adultery is, according the expression of the ancients, the violation of every divine and human law, a crime which contains in itself all the others, slander, treason, plunder, parricide, sacrilege. Ancient tragedy, like the epic, unfolds almost entirely on this ground, as demonstrated by the legends of Helen, Clytemnestra, Penelope, etc.
Incest, though less monstrous, is more base; mockery of familial decency and the maternal initiation; its counterpart is sodomy.
Debauchery, more common every day and treated with so much indifference, is the abuse of a minor, a destruction of Justice, if we may put it this way, in the bud, for which jurors should never allow extenuating circumstances.
By what unimaginable materialism has the legislator treated rape so severely, while he did not say a word against seduction? It seems that the first could often be placed in the category of blows and wounds which only affect the body, while the second kills the soul.
To these two kinds of crimes, we will assimilate the incitement to immorality by books, songs, carvings, statues, etc.
Onanism has bestiality for a corollary. A curious thing! Conjugal onanism conjugal has been proposed by the defenders of human exploitation to serve as an emunctory for the population; the same doctrine which makes the worker a beast of burden, should also make the lover a stallion.
Fornication is the temporary pleasure of two free people, not engaged in concubinage. It is incomparably more reprehensible than prostitution. Prostitution, remnant of the ancient state of war and feudalism, also has poverty as an excuse, and the prostitute, cut off like a rotten branch from the family, has betrayed no one. The fornicators cheat everyone and have no excuse; they should be blamed, if not punished. The hypocrisy of our customs have decided otherwise; secret fornication is applauded; the man caught in a brothel is deemed infamous.
If we consider adultery, seduction, rape, fornication, prostitution, divorce, polygamy concubinage as forming the pathology of love and marriage, incest, debauchery, pederasty, onanism and bestiality would be its teratology.
The flood of all the crimes and offences against marriage is the most active cause of the decadence of modern societies; it is to that cause that it is necessary to relate, in the last analysis, bourgeois cowardice, popular imbecility, republican ineptitude, depravity in literature, and despotism in government.
Every attack on marriage and the family is a profanation of Justice, a treason against the people and liberty, an insult to the Revolution.
Q. — How has the philosophy of right been so long without an understanding of marriage?
A. — Because the philosophers have always sought the right in religion, and every religion being essentially idealist and erotic, love in the religious soul is placed above Justice, and marriage reduced to concubinage.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Paule Mink, The Right of Abortion (1891)


Paule Mink

Numerous, very sensational trials for the crime of suppression of children have taken place from the month of August 1891, to the same month in 1892, during one whole year, which we could call the year of abortions.
In all the countries of Europe, in Russia, German, England, and France, and everywhere women have been prosecuted, and trials have been brought on these serious grounds. In Russian Poland, twelve women were arrested, and twenty were condemned in London, and in France we have had various legal actions for these heinous acts in Paris, Lyon, Béziers, and Villeneuve-les-Avignon — where the mayor, an imitator of Fourroux, aborted his dear constituents whom he had put at risk — and then that appalling affair in Clichy, in which 53 defendants were brought to the benches of infamy
England has nothing to envy us in this regard. In Berlin, on several occasions, the criminal courts have had to judge unfortunates guilty of these crimes against the perpetuity of the species so severely punished, as an example, when society discovers them and must condemn them.
Humanity seems taken with a panic about the extinction of the race, and we rush to abortion as the ultimate remedy of painful or miserable situations.
In Belgium, Switzerland, and Italy we have seen in this year, fertile in child murders, some trials of this sort. It is not that crimes against life are unknown in this happy (?) country. Quite the contrary. Amorous liberty, and even license, being practiced here more than anywhere else, all the sages femmes are ready to get rid of the more or less tiresome, telltale consequences of the amorous lapses of young men and women. Even for married women, overburdened by their families, they are full of indulgence and always offer to “free” their clients of the dear, sweet burden, so costly to honor and position.
In this country abortion is a habitual practice and one is only tried for it when the scandal is too great or when an unfortunate has found death in the suppressive maneuvers in which she is engaged. Thus, if there is no trial, it is because, with the general tolerance, the police close their eyes, justice ignores it and wants to know nothing of it, in order not to crack down.
Isn’t it a bit like that everywhere? We scarcely seek any but the most cynical and scandalous facts; we bring suit only when we can’t do otherwise, when there is death or denunciation; and then we recoil in horror before the terrible revelations which are revealed for everyone to see in the court of assizes.
Such has been the case of the wife Thomas, abortionist of Clichy, who in a few years has conducted more than 10,000 operations. Ten thousand—you have read that right—ten thousand abortions! That wretch worked for 10 francs, 5 francs, a basket of eggs, or a basket of fruit, to serve women in trouble.
Her clients belonged to all classes of society: there were some semi-prostitutes, a quarter socialites, some seduced young women, timid and sweet, some women of the people, some honest mothers, mates of workers or of low-level clerks whose position did not allow them to have a large number of children, and who have come, red-faced with the shame, to ask the abortionist to “rid” them. This is the accepted term.
Alas, it is not often of their free will that they have recourse to “the maker of angels” but life is so hard in the world of the poor these days, and women are so unfortunate!
They love, they abandon themselves without concern for the future. It’s so good to love, to trust, believe in the one you love! They do not think about the consequences of their love that they will bear alone. They do not calculate the consequences. In a sweet recitation they hear the tender voice which whispers in their ear the melodies of love, and they give themselves completely in an embrace: their soul, their life, their honor, everything. Love sings in their hearts, like the insects in the grass, like the birds in the branches; they sleep securely, cradled in the arms of their beloved...
But they are soon awakened. The man wearies quickly of the one he has seduced, sated with love, full of satisfied desires, he distances himself more quickly the more duties he has to fulfill. The lover says to him softly, blushing and nervous: — “You will be a papa soon” — “Me, a father!... What! That’s just great!” He gets angry, shouts, leaves and never returns... The poor girl remains alone, left to herself and her grief, alone, without support, without protection, without love, alone! And she feels another being move within her: she is alone and she is going to be a mother!...
Then there appears to her fevered brain all that she has lost, all that she has sacrificed for the ingrate who abandoned her: the despair of her parents, the public scorn, the dishonor!... Then the pain of delivering a child, the difficulty of living; alone she can still manage, with a child it is impossible. It would be necessary to leave her workshop, her store, her labor; miserable already and living in great pain, she will be even more miserable and in an irreparable and absolute manner.
Then a comrade from the workshop, a neighbor whispers to her that she can escape from these troubles, these heartbreaks, that she can avoid the dishonor, be rid of all fear and recover happiness. And the poor little one, anxious, troubled, with great sadness and regret, goes to find the abortionist and delivers herself to her care to make disappear the result of the common fault, the dear treasure, the fruit of her love, which she loves already, that she would have wanted to keep so much, if it had a father!...
Other times the case is even more painful. The woman is married, there are already two, three children at home, the man barely earns enough to support the whole dear brood, just to not die of hunger. The valiant men of a new birth are produced, but the woman remains crushed! In tears she tells her husband news which would have been a pleasure in other conditions. Worried, they look at one another: What to do? What to decide? It is already difficult to live with four or five; when there are six, it will be completely impossible. What will they do with this new burden, this interloper who comes to eat from the portion, already so small, of those that came before? And grief, black despair takes the wife who worries and weeps, the husband who shouts and storms.
Then on day she comes to her husband and says quietly: — “Someone said to me... if you want...” The husband hesitates, grimly. — “Let’s go! It must be…” he says in the end, sadly. And the wife heaves a heavy sigh and goes to find the abortionist.
Ah! If there was bread to give the newcomer, how they would have looked after it! For already the mother loves it with all her heart, and it is only their poverty which forces her to sacrifice it... But she must save the beak-full for her dear babies and the nest is already so full of hungry little bills!...
Thus poverty, insecurity of life, fear of not being able to raise the children, then the fear of public scorn, seduction, abandonment: these are the reasons for the abortions that are so common in our time. — And, as we know, they are just as numerous in the provinces as in Paris, in the country as in the city, for in the village there is no lack of old women expert in these matters, and many matrons know all the processes for inducing labor and know, just as well as the women of Clichy, how to “rid” the unfortunates forced by the demands of honor or poverty to make their child disappear.
“But this is all terrible. How shall we prevent such horrors?” cry the hypocritical bourgeoisie who themselves drive these embryonic murders by their selfishness and vices. These days we mock those who have lots of children, we criticize them, no support, no effective aid is given them. And the handsome sons of the bourgeoisie, for whom article 340 was made — forbidding the search for paternity — can seduce the daughters of the people with an easy mind. They are the chief authors of the numerous infanticides committed by abandoned women!
During these sad trials we have seen the well-meaning press utter cries of horror, and some grave and imposing magistrates cover their faces: “Oh! These women, these trollops,” they say, “these wretches! To make themselves guilty of such crimes, to abort, to do away with children, the strength of the homeland, the future of France!...”
— Excuse me, Monsieur Prudhomme. Does Madame have a lot of children? One or two at the most, and yet! But you understand, one should not have too many children; in order not to undermine the well-being of the family, the fine education that you want to give to your progeny, you must not risk scattering the fortune you possess, by leaving it to too many heirs. Monsieur and Madame practice restrictions... of the mental sort — infanticide before the letter — and even perhaps some preventative and solvent maneuvers as well, during the first days of the pregnancy; but they deal with experienced doctors, skillful and discrete midwives, everything takes place in secret, in the peace of the home, and as no one knows anything of it, these very honest persons shout that much more loudly that others are guilty, like those purse snatchers who yell “stop, thief!” to distract the attention of the police.
Our good bourgeois couldn’t care less about the strength of France, or the future of the homeland. When it is a question of their own actions, they hardly concern themselves with these great things.
“We must,” they say, “have children. We want to do it, for the power of our country, the greatness of the nation.” But they are careful not to have them, although they could raise them and not be condemned to suppress them because of shame or misery!...
But make them understand their duties, make some egoists, some sated pleasure-seekers listen to reason!...
And abortion, this crime against nature, this attack on the race, is more and more a habit for us. It has become a frequent, almost general, practice. It is the consequence of our economic state, of our social state, of the harsh struggle for life which devours us. It is the inevitable result, so to speak, of our customs and law.
These days you would have to be heroic, or else thoughtless, to have a lot of children. How will provident mothers and father, wanting to give their firstborns a wonderful and more happy life, not try to destroy this new germ of life that they know is destined for poverty and unhappiness, and which would bring embarrassment to the poor household, despair to the family, eat the bread of the older children, force them into ignorance and premature labor, casting them into indigence, dooming them to a life of grief and suffering, plunging them into the cesspits where the destitute moan!...
Ah! If society guaranteed life and labor to every being coming into the world, who brings a new strength to the human association, then there would be no more suppression of children!
From the side of the seduced girls, it is even worse, since the law guarantees the security of masculine pleasures.
The woman identified as guilty of abortion, or infanticide, is severely punished. Certainly, she commits an abominable crime. But she risks her life, she, the unfortunate, to make disappear the fruit of the common distraction, she offers her existence to preserve her honor. But he, the first author of the common fault, he, the seducer and initiator, where is he? What will you do about it? He risks nothing, neither his repos, nor his life, nor his future. Even his honor is not at stake.
Ah! If the men were obliged to put their stamp on their more or less clandestine products, they would perhaps not be this way. They would think twice, and even four times, before seducing, and especially before producing. But that would be too awkward for these gentlemen... Respect to article 340, which assures the most complete impunity to the amorous adventures, juvenile or senile, of the Lovelaces.
You are decidedly illogical, gentlemen of the legislature, or supremely unjust. If there is a fault in this case, that fault has been committed by two. — There is no denying it. There must be two, must there not?— But only one is responsible for that fault in the eyes of the world, in the eyes of the law, the weakest and most unfortunate! She is pursued by public shame and contempt, arrested, imprisoned. While the other, her partner — or her accomplice, if you will — goes his way, jaunty and satisfied, whistling through his teeth a little hunting tune — about a beast run to ground, naturally. — And all that because this first tenor of the duo of love has the law behind him, so that he should not be concerned by the consequences of his pleasures, because he carries within him no trace of the wrong perpetrated by two, because there is nothing about his person which could make on say with certainty: “There is the author of the work.”
How then does a woman, even the most simple, not say to herself: My... associate is responsible for nothing. Why would I be more responsible than him? He isn’t blamed for anything because no one sees anything; why then shouldn’t it be the same for me? I want, like him, to walk with my head high, without worrying any more about the consequences of our love.” For as soon after as she is ill-advised, she goes where he security calls her, and she resolves to commit a terribly murder, led to it, very often, by the cynical masculine impunity.
If we enacted a law for the research of paternity,” some say, “it would be unbearable. The seduced girls would make a living with their children.” — Even it that were so, wouldn’t it be better than killing them? And the strength of the race then, and the power of France, what would you do about them? But to pay for your pleasures, by bearing their consequences, that would exasperate you, handsome boy-children who have got such a good deal on the honor of the daughters of the people and the lives of your… illegitimate… offspring; as for other progeny, you have so few that it is hardly worth talking about.
“The seduced girls do not merit so much interest,” says another. “They are vicious, capable of every shame and weakness.” — It is soon said, and it is said deliberately by those who profit from these weaknesses, who have even provoked them to their greatest dissipation. — “It is very often they who seduce the men,” claims one, “they who assault the young men”... morally, for otherwise... Look at them, these poor babies, all preserved in chastity, who would die virgins and martyrs without these shameless girls!
All these bourgeois and masculine sophisms are of a rare insolence and cynicism; we wish, however, to accept them for a moment. According to you, gentlemen, even the most innocent woman is perverted, she is depraved, she is debauched, this is understood; but once the girl becomes a mother everything changes, she transforms herself; responsibility begins for her, and she severely atones for the common practice, she is no longer the shameless bacchante — if she ever was — she is the mother, that is to say the creator of humanity, she carries in her womb the power of society, the greatness of the homeland, the hope of the future.
And it is precisely become she is a mother, because by this her love is nearly sanctified that you despise her, it is at the moment when she is rehabilitated by maternity that the world insults and spits on her, it is when she has the most need of aid and support that her family rejects her, she is chased from everywhere, execrated, booed, marked on the brow with an indelible stain, heaped with public scorn, while you bow very low before her seducer, particularly if he is rich and powerful. 0 justice! It is always the stone thrown at the poor thief who allows himself to be taken, and the respect for the skillful pickpocket who steals your coin, by transactions risked on the exchange, or despoils you by a skillfully fraudulent bankruptcy!
However, when the children are 20 years old, does the law ask if they are legitimate or not in order to make them soldiers, defenders of the homeland, of the public fortune, of bourgeois security? All men are equal before the law and the social duty, all, whoever their mother and whatever their origin might be.
Scorn the women of ill repute, I accept that, but bow before the mother: maternity, you see, is the pedestal for a woman, it is her triumph, her redemption.
But as long as customs are not changed, as well as the present social state which rests entirely on the exploitation of the small by the great, of the laborers by the possessors of capital, of women by men, as long as the bourgeois regime will function, there will be crimes, there will be abortions, no matter what mild reforms we attempt to ease these sufferings.
As long as it is shameful to be a mother, with or without the code, as long as women will not be respected for their maternity itself, supported, and considered as the creators of humanity, there will be women who have abortions.
As long as young women who have been seduced will alone be responsible for the consequences of their love—while the men can say, insolent and cynical, “That is not my problem”—there will be young women who will have abortions.
As long as there are mother who do not have bread to give their little dear ones, existence assured for the children of their wombs there will be mothers who have abortions to avoid misery, despair and death from hunger for those that they love more than life, more than happiness, more than even honor!
And we believe in good conscience, that they have the right to do so, for we could not force unfortunate, loving and abandoned women to bring forth children who will be miserable, sad and ragged, scattering in the thickets, living without love, sickly and pockmarked, dying of cold, starvation in the crossroads or along the gray roads...
They will spare them constantly reborn sufferings by killing them, the poor little things! fierce and lamentable, before they are born, before they have known the ineffable sadness of the existence des poverty-stricken.
As long as our unjust, hedonist, depraved and ferocious capitalist society exists, there will be sinister abortions, and there will be more and more of them.
And you do not have the right to punish these crimes against the race, for it is you, Society, who by your sinful laws and your lax and venal morals, drive that dreadful massacre of innocents.
Paule MINK.

Source: Almanach de la question sociale et de libre pensee, pour 1891

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Jules Leroux, "What is the Republic?"



Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Unity.


Holy and august Republic, keep your promises; produce Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Unity among us; make it so that there are no longer people who live in extreme opulence and those who die in extreme misery; destroy inequality, slavery, and hate, not in some of their effects, but in their deepest roots, or yours is a vain name!

Such is, gentleman-agents of the Republic, such is the ardent prayer that the people who suffer, feel, and know, utter each day.
That prayer was long uttered under Louis XVIII and under Charles X; but you were deaf, and did not hear. Stronger and still more resounding, it spewed in 1830 from the very guts of the popular Revolution of July; but you were deaf, and you did not hear! Seventeen years have passed, and in thousand on thousands of forms, from political assassination to popular riot, that prayer has rung out, menacing and sublime; but you were deaf, and did not hear! Finally, last February, it roared and broke again the scepter of tyranny, and every day since it echoes from the dawn in the hearts of those who suffer, feel, and know: are you still deaf, and do you not hear?
One among you, Mr. de Lamartine, minister of foreign affairs, just addressed a circular to the diplomatic agents of the Republic. That circular aims to initiate the foreign powers in the principles and tendencies who will direct from now on the foreign policy of the French government. Does Mr. de Lamartine hear the prayer of those who suffer, feel, and know?
The foreign policy of any nation rises from its domestic policy. Wishing then to make known to the foreign powers the principles and tendencies which will direct from now on the foreign politics of the French government, Mr. de Lamartine was forced to explain himself on this first, important question: What is the Republic? Does Mr. de Lamartine hear the prayer of those who suffer, feel, and know?
We will not follow Mr. de Lamartine in all the questions raised by his circular. We will only concern ourselves with this one, which is first and fundamental: What is the Republic?
Our fathers said, without hesitation: The Republic is the government of men; the Monarchy, the government of slaves. Honor and glory to the Republic, shame and contempt to the Monarchy. M. de Lamartine does not share that opinion of out fathers at all. The Monarchy and the Republic are, for him, facts that contrast, and that can live face to face by understanding and respecting each other.
Between the Monarchy and the Republic, there are no essential, fundamental differences in the eyes of Mr. de Lamartine. It is only a matter of form, and there is still time for something between them. One matures, and blossoms to the Republic by I know not what force. Some people are not yet mature, and patiently await for the hour of their maturity to sound; some people are mature, and break with anguish and suffering the royal form of government in order to put on that other form de government which the peoples use, the republican form.
Thus, the nations and their governments appear to Mr. de Lamartine as individuals and their garments appear to us. The child, wrapped in swaddling clothes, grows, discards them, and puts on the frock; then, growing more, abandons the frock, and puts on the clothes of a young man. So also the nation, growing, loses its royal form of government in order to put on the republican form of government.
In July 1830, Mr. de Lafayette said to those who suffer, feel, and know: “My friends, the best of Republics is a Monarchy surrounded by republican institutions;” and so it is, evidently, that in February 1848, M. de Lamartine has in his turn said to those who suffer, feel, and know: “My friends, the best of Monarchies is a Republic surrounded by monarchial institutions.”
Shame and misfortune, gentlemen. Don’t you see clearly that Mr. de Lamartine is mistaken, and does not hear the prayer of those who suffer, feel, and know? His mouth refuses to say with them:

Holy and august Republic, keep your promises; produce Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Unity among us; make it so that there are no longer people who live in extreme opulence and those who die in extreme misery; destroy inequality, slavery, and hate, not in some of their effects, but in their deepest roots, or yours is a vain name!

And his mind is busy tarnishing the light, denying the evidence.
He dares to say that, in 1848, there are no longer distinct, unequal classes; he dares say that liberty reigns and all have been freed; he dares say that equality before the law has leveled everything. But do you know longer remember, Minister of Foreign Affairs, these condemnations and convictions pronounced by the deposed power against those conscientious writers who, in their works, began with that incontestable fact of two distinct and unequal classes? Don’t you remember those proletarian riots when the people, dying of hunger, inscribed on their flags: Live working or die fighting! Don’t you remember those convictions for combination with which the tribunals have resounded for so long? Your labor camps, your prisons, your hospitals, your morgue, your thousands and thousands of charity offices, the scaffold prepared at Buzançais, your workshops, your factories, your life of ease and luxury, are they mute to your ears, and aren’t you loudly accused by the presence of an unfortunate and suffering nation which is not part of the nation into the midst of which an accident of birth has cast your? In 1848, as in 1792, there are two nations: the nation of laborers, for whom a government commission has been appointed and the nation of idlers; the nation of the poor, and that of the rich. Consider the four million indigent reported by the official statistics within the towns; think of the four million beggars who live in the country, and do not profane your lips with this official lie that there are no longer distinct and unequal classes today, that liberty has freed all, that equality before the law has leveled all, that fraternity has united all.
No, no, the political problem, the republican problem is not as simple as you make it here, Mr. de Lamartine. It is not a question of fraternity, but of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity all together. Hatred, slavery, and inequality are flagrant, and to deny them is to put yourself in the delicate situation making others ask: What then are your reasons?
In 1792, the nation was not one: two peoples existed on the same soil; in 1848, the nation is not one: two peoples existed on the same soil. In 1792, there were the priests, the nobles and the king on one side, and on the other the bourgeoisie, behind whom disappeared, like an appendage, the workers, the proletarians; in 1848, we have the bourgeoisie on one side, and on the other the proletarians, behind whom appear the beggars, the indigent, and those in whom the moral sense is more or less lacking. In 1792, the question posed between the priests, the nobles and the king on one side, and the bourgeoisie on the other, was a question of freedom, of liberation. Everything occurred on a purely political terrain. Would the king, nobles, and priests govern as masters, despots, sovereigns, or wasn’t the bourgeoisie, under the name of the third estate, able to govern itself, couldn’t it be something, according to the expression of Sieyès? In 1848, the question, raising itself above the bourgeois and the proletariat, arises between the rich and the poor, and will seek the elements of its solution in the veritable knowledge of the true nature of human beings. Before being rich or poor, bourgeois or proletarian, learned or ignorant, virtuous or criminal, the human being is a human being, a being triple and unified at once. Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, Unity, that is the whole question en 1848. And that question, posed in that way, is not limited to the single terrain of politics, it also embraces the spheres of political economy, morals and religion.
Nothing has changed, you say, in the basis of social life: three days have been able to do nothing in that regard, and after February 1848 was are as we were before. The poor remain poor, the workers remain workers, the rich are still rich, the indigent are indigent, the beggars still beggars, and the capitalist is still a capitalist. The king alone has disappeared, France has lost one of its children, that is all, and going to bed last night royalist, has risen this morning as a republican.
No, no, it is not at all thus, and it is because they think us very stupid that they tell us these things.
The Republic of 1848 which was just established in France has nothing in common, believe me, with that which was established in the same France in 1792, with the Republics which reign in the Americas, with those which flourished in Rome and ancient Greece. A new basis of human sociability has appeared, which strictly and pitilessly rejects all inequality of condition among people. This basis urgently demands the realization of what you pretend not to understand, of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity; of what you regard as three words pushed by the people, at random, without any idea of connection intimate link, as they emerged triumphant from their struggle against the Monarchy; words that our fathers also let escape from their dying lips, and that they have handed down to us.
Gentlemen, agents of the sovereign authority of the People, understand the present situation, the real situation well, and you will not let yourself be led astray by a false estimation of things which are revealed all at once to your sight the day after the popular victory. The Republic is not a hollow governmental form which can be applied to the ancient basis of sociability where slavery, inequality of ranks and fortunes, and hatred reign at pleasure; the Republic something old, something remodeled from the Greeks: it is a still imperceptible seed that the hand of God has planted within it, and that he entrusts to our thoughtful care; it is the government of a new society that will conjure up a new basis of human sociability. Misfortune then to those who lay a hand on this seed other than to shelter and preserve it from all influence deleterious; for the crime that they will commit is a crime against humanity, a crime against God. Do you render yourselves guilty of it, you who at this very moment only have power because its name has been loudly proclaimed by the those who always, at all times, announce and predict the coming of the saviors, the Christs—by the People.
And you, Lamartine, return to yourself, and abjure the dangerous heresy that your circular comes to produce in the world. The people, those who suffer, feel, and know, will not let themselves be taken in by your words. They know that this language: The best of Monarchies is a Republic surrounded with monarchical institutions, the language of the Girondins and not of the Mountain: you yourself have condemned it.
But what did I say, montagnard! The people, those who suffer, feel, and know, are no longer there. You could very well be Girondin, Lamartine; but the people have beyond the Mountain on the bloody ridge if which Robespierre and Saint-Just stood for a moment. They are at the highest peak of that mountain, the nearest to God, source of all truth, and there, disregarding all these deep divisions which separate us into rich and poor, into bourgeois and proletarians, into masters and slaves, they repeat their prayer:

Holy and august Republic, keep your promises; produce Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, and Unity among us; make it so that there are no longer people who live in extreme opulence and those who die in extreme misery; destroy inequality, slavery, and hate, not in some of their effects, but in their deepest roots, or yours is only a vain name!

JULES LEROUX (of Boussac)
Paris, March 9, 1848.

[Working translation by Shawn P. Wilbur]