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Censor, castigator morum, radical reformer, by whatever
name thou art called, have a care—especially if thou art getting loud ' " And how correct this habit of half way thinking This grasping at superficialities By teaching the masses to think rightly. Popularize (allow us the word) popularize political economy. Most truly and beautifully does the distinguished writer whom we have just ventured to ani
madvert upon remark: “All misery is but faculty misdi
rected, strength that has not yet found its way. No smoke in any sense, but can become flame and radiance.” All the confusion and turmoil which we now see bubbling up in restless discontent upon the troubled surface of society, has its mission, has its result. There is much of great, much of good under it. Let but now the true thinker; he who thought “Till thought is standing thick upon the brain As dew upon the brow,L-for thought is brain-sweat.”
let him not grudge the fruit of his study, but popularize it for the crowd.
The valuable periodical, with the last completed volume of which we head this article, and of some of the earlier numbers of which, in a preceding article, we took large notice, developes most usefully the nerve of the politico-economical party in France. Many of the strongest men of that gifted but erring country, here exhibit their efforts and energies in her cause. Her great struggle is between the truths of political economy, as advocated by them, and the opposing concentrated formula of communism: “the right to labor.”
It would be impossible in such limits as are here assigned to us, to gather together, even in half-rate strength, the many arguments and examples, which the four months, included in the volume under review, offer to our attention ; but we will at least endeavor to do enough to rouse to the subject the attention of our drowsy community, which sleeps on, while, like the poisoned majesty of Denmark, a traitorous hand
“Into the porches of our ear doth pour
“Nothing,” says Guizot, “has a more certain tendency to ruin a people than a habit of accepting words and appearances as realities.” The fashion of our age is cant, a whining pretension to goodness. Ultra in every thing, it condemns and tosses aside, as scarcely worth the hearing, each sober thinker, who without “ahs" or “ohs' without groaning over the heavy and unparallelled suffering, and exulting in the great and unexampled enlightenment of his time, sees the world, in steady progress, advancing by almighty behest, through its destined changes, to its appointed might of developed reason and civilization. This man is too cold, exclaims the one side; he has no heart for sympathy, or he would join with us in revolutionizing this world where crime and vice play so dominant a part. He is dull, says the other; he cannot see the glorious progress of the age, and keeps plodding along at his old jog-trot, instead of leaping at once to perfection. And then both extremes meeting, join in their loud “hallelujahs” for fraternity and equality. But a little of the old jog-trot prudence might be useful here. Would our improvers but pause and think, nor trust quite so much to the inspiration of impulse, perhaps they might find that they are foisting up “words and appearances” instead of “realities.” “Life has one virtue,” beautifully remarks George Sand, “the eternal sacrifice of self.” Pure and chaste thought !—which we quote from Mme. Dudevant, but which beamed upon the world in the softening influence of christianity, eighteen centuries before her birth ! “Give to him that asketh of thee, and from him that would borrow of thee, turn not thou away.” But he who preached this lesson to man, taught him also, to “render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s.” Far from the tone of charity and benevolence thus inculcated, is the wide-spread spirit of tyranny and spoliation which now usurps its place; and Mme. Dudevant has learned but half her lesson. Charity can only go hand-in-hand with justice, and he who robs to give, is scarcely less culpable than he who robs to enjoy. In the volume under review (page 56) we find Mr. Proudhon exclaiming before the French assembly; “Why talk about property Property does not exist; it is abrogated; the provisional government in recognizing the right to labor has annulled it. If lodgers now pay their rent, farmers their leases, or debtors their creditors, it is simply because it is agreeable to them to do so.” And this is fraternity . This the right to labor! Take, keep, borrow, and do not return, is the lesson of these ultra-sympathisers, who thus crush all morality in their
wild interpretation of the gentle maxim, “Love ye one another.”
Even so well intentioned a man as Lamartine, (and after his famous free-trade speech at Marseilles) declared, (p. 219) “If in such questions as these [Politico-Econo mical] we find our limits, it would be necessary to efface from our constitution the three sublime words, liberty equality fraternity to replace them by the two low, filthy immondes] substitutes, buying and selling.” Ah! M. amartine, if you would live in the clouds, keep to poetizing and let alone legislating ! Fancy delights, but sober reason must rule the world. Buying and selling, service and compensation;–are at the basis of the world’s law of action, its great foundation stone. We must possess before we can give. Property must precede charity and individual superiority exists before the very idea of benevolence can have birth. Your fanciful equality, may, in truth, drag all down to one level of starvation and beggary; but although this may the better suit the poetic fancy of M. de Lamartine, for this work-day world of ours, perhaps the old plan may be the best. At least as M. Amédée Gratiot says to his compeers (p. 162.) “Workmen, let us go to our work, our spinning machines, our presses, and our forges; let us leave our friends, the socialists, to make up their minds, and experiment upon systems among themselves; next year perhaps they will have determined how to make us all happy.” For God's sake, gentlemen, you, our socialists of America, Mr. Horace Greely, Albert Brisbane, &c., make up your minds,-in the words of M. Gratiot, “une solution s'il vous plait,” before you plunge us deeper into this quagmire of unexplored utopias. Leave us to our old vulgar practises of “buying and selling” until at least you shall have invented some feasible substitutes for them.
This constant dwelling upon ideal perfection and visionary improvement does much harm. The masses, familiarised by constant repetition to the terms “ organization of labor,” &c., naturally look for their farther signification. To these words and appearances” they would next attach “realities” and when the word comes to their turn they at once interpret it to mean “immediate amelioration of their condition, that is to say, increase of wages and diminution of labor.” Such was the course of things in France. (p. 377, vol. 20th, of Journal des Economistes: Joseph Garnier.) “That the state could not regulate all this in their favor, never came into their heads. They never doubted that the State, led by organizers and associanists, was all powerful to guaranty labor.” The provisional government being equally misled, thence followed their proclamations guarantying labor to such as could not procure it for themselves; thence the insurrections and barricades of June, and then the excuse of them by Proudhon and others. The State had madly undertaken what it could not accomplish. And this “State,” this personified power, which socialism invests with such inordinate authority, “this monopolizer of wealth, organizer of labor, regulator of consciences, this impalpable power, what is it?” Some superhuman guide to dictate to, and control us? Or rather, is it not still men—men only—who, even while they talk most of the pcople and their rights, would crush out the faintest trace of man's individuality, to subject the whole conglomerated mass to their own rule | Let us always remember that in proportion as governmental power increases, the individual is necessarily effaced from the direction of affairs.
13 vol. xvi.-No. 31. ->
“One or the other, the government, or the individual, must increase and develop itself. What is gained by the one, must be lost by the other, and the oppressive and plethoric centralization of national workshops, national banks, national securities, could only be obtained by the entire obliteration of the individual.”—p. 233. Alcide Fonteyraud.
“Socialism supposes, also, a dualism between the individual and society. Instead of considering society as a reunion of forces and intelligences, it is, as it were, transformed into a reasoning being, a power to itself, a fantastic personage, a kind of fairy possessed of hidden treasures and unlimited powers, ever giving, never receiving. Each individual asks more than he brings, forgetting that only through individual possession can the State be rich; that it only produces by the labor of each and all, and that its power is the result of the number and concert of individual wills.”—p. 360. Leon Faucher.
The “right to labor,” then, guarantied by the State, throws all power into the hands of the government. The individual becomes only the bold beggar, the claimant of governmental protection. No longer dependant upon himself, his right is to demand from government what, enfeebled by this individual imbecility, it is more than ever incapacitated from giving—and neither small nor limited are the demands thus entailed upon it.
“The ‘right to labor’ includes the right to capital, the right to wages, the right to comfort. It is the most unlimited claim with which individuals can be armed against the public treasury. To such a system the equal division of property would be infinitely preferable, for this does nothing more than place all upon the same footing, and the rich, the provident and successful, once despoiled for the benefit of their poorer brethren, may at least count with some certainty upon their future gains. But the ‘right to labor” goes farther. Its demands are insatiable. Its claim extends not only to what is but to what may be. It implies community, not only of existing wealth, but of all future effort—a perpetual servitude imposed upon the better part of society for the benefit of all idle vagabonds whom the State takes into its pay.” p. 359. Leon Faucher.
The “right to labor” thus proclaimed, what next? Do its advocates go on to demonstrate the existence of such a right ! Oh no ! that is quite unnecessary. Let political economists weary their brains with seeking proof and demonstration; the heaven-inspired socialist acts from impulse. A dream, an inspiration, an instinct, these are his guides—what needs he demonstration?
“And yet the thing was worth the effort. As these social Archimedes would, by means of their fulcrum, turn the world, surely it was worth their while to see it firmly fixed. Why, then, have they contented themselves with simply stating the right, and attempting no proof of it! Why, unless, indeed, the existence of this right to labor is incapable of proof? But, proof or no proof, it is all one to these gentlemen. They make their premises, draw conclusions and build their consequences accordingly.” p. 65. G. de Molinari.
“Society, in its present condition, displeases them, and instead of a manly effort to ameliorate it, they call in the convenient specific of organization. They seek an amulet, where there is needed a virtue.” p. 239. Alcide Fonteyraud.
We may be told by some, you are combatting a chimera, the whim of a few madmen, which cannot have weight in any community. This is an unfortunate mistake, which lulls us to the danger, but does not thence lessen it. Few go to these extremes, but many, very many, walk blindfold upon their brink.
“I do not fear,” remarked Mr. Faucher, in addressing the French Assembly, “or at least fear but little, the socialism which, moving openly to its extreme object, declares boldly, “No family No property ' Much more to be dreaded is the indirect, bastard, half-way