The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Communism by Henri Baudrillart 1890
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We here propose to discuss communism both in itself and from an historical point of view. Such a plan is broad enough without introducing into it the various social Utopias. We are here concerned exclusively with avowed and consistent communism, and not with what in our day goes under the vague name of socialism.
Communism is the system of doctrine which, in the name of the general interest and of absolute justice, most frequently sees the type of social perfection in a putting in common of persons and things. We purposely say persons and things. The distinction which certain communists pretend to establish between the two is in reality an empty one. The thing possessed is here the person, or at least a part and an extension of the person, who has put his labor into it and placed upon it the seal of his liberty. It is impossible to respect the producer and deprive him of his product. This first usurpation involves all the others, and ends in the complete monopoly of the human person.
Thus communism, whatever amount of logic it may have (and we shall see that it has not been lacking in this regard), is forced, inevitably, to speak to humanity in nearly the following words: "I shall first take possession of all material products in order to distribute them in accordance with the general interest; but that there should not be an over-abundance of some things, dearth of others, and consequently the impossibility of a just distribution, I shall direct production, which cannot be done unless I dispose of the producers themselves as I think best. I shall, therefore, assign to each man his task; and to satisfy myself as to how he accomplishes that task, and that he does nothing else, I shall oblige him to work in common. And then, that he may not be suspected of depriving his brethren of any portion of the social part which comes to him, he shall also consume in common." Here we have the family transferred to the public square. But why let the family itself exist? Are we not acquainted with the jealous activity and watchful foresight of the father and mother for their children? To uphold the family is to create a permanent conspiracy against communism in the bosom of communism itself; it is to condemn communism to witness soon, under the deceitful names of liberty, emulation, economy, of conjugal, paternal, maternal and filial attachment, all the competition, saving, jealousy, favoritism, preference of self or of one's own to others; in one word, the wretched retinue of individualism and familyism. This is not all. There are evil inclinations in the bosom of every individual which resist communism by tending to persuade him that communism, or a community of goods, is not for the best. Hence, a love for communism must be instilled into him, of course in his own interest, at an early day, by education, which consequently must be in common.
"Moreover we know how much religious systems, which pretend to concern themselves only with heaven, influence earthly affairs. What sources of division and struggles, beliefs and ideas are! Hence, no sects, no heresies, no individual opinion! Religion must, therefore, be a common religion for all, at least if we [communism] judge proper that there should be such a theory as religion, which is not very certain. Now, as all this cannot be accomplished, and a certain number of individuals not think they have a right to complain, the state must be charged, on the one hand, with the task of carrying out this plan, and, on the other, with putting down the malcontents, unless speedily and completely converted. Hence, the state must be the sole producer, the sole distributer, the sole consumer; it must teach, preach, pray and carry on the work of repression; it must be the great agriculturist, the great manufacturer, the great merchant, the great professor and high priest; it must be spirit and matter, dogma and force, religion and the police—everything."
This all shows how chimerical is the disposition which it sometimes pleases certain adherents of communism to make of things and persons, of property and family, of the action of the state, and of individual initiative. Properly speaking, communism knows nothing of persons. It knows only things. The forfeiture of property which it declares strikes at the last principle of liberty in its vital part. Communism drags into its sphere the moral and intellectual as well as the physical life; and man from whom it pretended to take but a single faculty and one order of products only, passes soul and body under its complete control. It is evident, then, that when communism says it wishes to destroy individualism, it means that it wishes to destroy the individual himself. To destroy liberty is, in fact, to destroy the individual in his very essence. A writer has defined man as an intelligence served by organs. From the economic point of view, it would perhaps be more correct to say: "man is a liberty served by organs;" and these organs include intelligence itself, physical power, land and capital. To liberate the organs, is to liberate the man; to reduce them to slavery, is to enslave the man himself.
Liberty is the moral basis of political economy. Now, what we find at the bottom of all communistic parties and systems is an attack on liberty. Communism is, therefore, directly opposed to political economy. Let us first say a word on the fundamental error of communism. It may, we think, be summed up in the preference which it gives to equality over liberty.
Now communism fails to insure equality for the very reason that it has a preference for equality.
Equality supposes something anterior to itself, something which may admit of equality. But in what are men equal? In intelligence? Take two men at random: they are different both in the degree and in the nature of their aptitudes. And so it is in the mental and physical, in the moral and material order. Do you wish to find the type, the basis, the rule of equality? Turn to liberty. The liberty of every man recognized and guaranteed, is true equality. We are equal in and through liberty. This truth is the absolute rule, the only source, in fact and in law, of equality between the members of the great human family. Outside of equality through liberty everything is chimerical and deceptive. To profess to put equality above liberty is therefore nonsense. To pretend to secure one by the suppression of the other is a monstrous contradiction. This contradiction is the starting point of communism.
Let us glance at the declivity which leads communism to the abyss.
Communism not knowing how to find equality where it exists, is led to place it where it is not. For the idea of equality is inherent in the mind of man, an imperative want of his heart, a necessary law of his development. Not having found equality in liberty where alone it exists, communism tries to enforce an equality of passions, ideas, wants, things; in one word, of everything which does not admit of equality. Moreover, having misunderstood the true nature of liberty, it plays the tyrant with it, when it meets it, as an obstacle in its way. It is the general tendency of false systems to suppress violently whatever stands in their way, and to replace it by arbitrary equivalents.
False ideas of equality and liberty are the starting point of communism; all the rest results from those false ideas.
Communism ignores and destroys both liberty and equality, and by this very fact sacrifices real rights to chimerical ones.
As a free being I have the right to dispose of my faculties, the right to work, with all that that right involves; such a right is nothing but the recognition of general liberty, and therefore it is evident that it oppresses no man. According to communism I have the right to labor, and all the other rights which are necessarily involved in this one right: that is to say, I may demand work, and force others to give me work. Here, then, we have a portion of humanity, not only obliged morally, but constrained physically, obliged by the authority of the law to furnish work to others. When I assist a poor man I merely pay him a debt which I owe him; to give him nothing when I can afford to give him something, is to be not only hard-hearted but wicked; it is to be a thief. I deserve then to be treated as such, that is, to be imprisoned or hanged.
Communism endows the individual with lying rights; and to satisfy these rights it burdens the state with impossible duties. A double germ of anarchy and despotism, this, which leaves no alternative to society than a desperate war of all against one, and of each against all, or the most grinding slavery.
The economic and moral consequences which are so closely connected with one another in the communistic system, flow no less logically from its erroneous premises. How can there be merit where individual liberty is sacrificed, where successful effort is counted for nothing? Communism itself feels what a stranger to it merit is, and how fatal it would be to it. For the hallowed formula: Each one according to his merit, it substitutes the following, borrowed from the pretended holiness of instinct: To each one according to his wants. So that, whether a man works little or much, produces with more or less zeal, care, or in greater or less abundance, it does not matter. Does communism destroy the abuses which it pretends to radically abolish? It is easy to prove that it only aggravates them and renders them more general. We know how furiously it attacks competition, that is to say, liberty. But in the place of the legitimate, industrious, enlightened competition of interests which is profitable to all, it puts the blind, barren and disorderly competition of appetites. It complains of robbery in human society, and decrees universal spoliation in order to suppress it. It groans over prostitution, and makes a law of the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes. It is angered at seeing a number of men who, to enjoy themselves, had only to take, as it says, the trouble of being born; and the taking of this trouble, it claims, entitles them to a share in every social advantage! It impeaches slavery and exploitation of the proletariat, and it makes of every man a slave to be exploited by the state. Let us add that the slavery which it establishes is not merely a political and economic one, but a moral slavery which must perpetuate, indefinitely, both political and economic slavery. When free will and personal dignity, care for the future, the calculations and affections which make existence worth having, flights of imagination and innocent fancies, are abolished in men; what is there to replace these broken springs, or to compensate for the loss?
Communism, by enervating all the motives which constitute the essence, the health, the energy of the moral being, at one blow exhausts all the sources of wealth.
Communism has sought the principle of liberty, by appealing to love. With instinct as its basis, it seeks in instinct the means of correcting the evil effects of instinct. This twofold pretension is evidently chimerical. Instinct can not be tempered by its own excess. As to making lore and fraternity the only springs of production, it is the most impossible of Utopias. It is madness to suppose that a man will work, manufacture, sell, etc., with the perpetual enthusiasm which religion itself does not always produce.
Never has the saying of Pascal: "The man who wishes to imitate the angels becomes a beast," been better justified than by communism, which commences by supposing angelic virtues in man, and ends by always showing him gross and brutal in practice. What an illusion it is, then, to suppose that the individual will love everybody, will devote himself to everybody, when he is prohibited from loving his own family and devoting himself to it! Sympathy, like all other faculties, has need of practice and food. Men do not begin by loving the human race, but end there. And how much enlightenment, how much philosophical or religious elevation of mind, is supposed by so complicated a sentiment! It is a fact which has not escaped the most superficial observer, that affection becomes more intense by being restricted to a narrower circle; more sublime perhaps, but less energetic, in proportion as it extends to a greater number of objects. Communism, by opposing this elementary law, drowns, so to speak, sympathy and devotion in the depths of the limitless ocean called the human race, and buries the individual in the immense and vague abstraction which it calls society.
We have seen communism, considered as a system, plunging into every error and contradiction; aggravating the evils of which it complains by letting new ones loose on humanity; rousing the appetites and finding nothing to create the immense amount of capital it would need to carry out its plans, except the unproductive principle of fraternity; and rendering this very fraternity impossible by inviting each member of the community to seize a quantity of products which must necessarily grow less and less; or to bow under the hard law of a state which can live only by the skillful distribution of wretchedness. We may well be astonished that such a doctrine should find adherents. Still communism can appeal to a long tradition continued through all the centuries, through revolutions of every kind. The explanation of this strange phenomenon is instructive in more ways than one; and we are astonished to find that communism has often been but the logical development of the principles adopted almost universally by the nations which stigmatized it. Nothing is truer of ancient nations; and as to those which followed them, especially up to 1789, was not the principle of the right to landed property changed by conquest and civil legislation to such a degree, disregarded in law to such an extent by the doctrine that all property in land was held from the state, that communism became, if not justifiable, at least perfectly explainable? As a symptom, if not as a theory, communism still has an importance not to be underrated. Like all social Utopias, it has its source in the imperfections of the social state; some of which are susceptible of amendment, others unavoidable; and is explained by a feeling of pity for human misery and by base passion.
Communism has been at work in the world, and it may be judged by its fruits. To begin with, it is an ugly thing that a doctrine held up as a charter of emancipation of the human race, should always appear in history based on and supported by slavery. How can we speak of communism without mentioning Sparta; and how can we mention Sparta without recalling what was most odious in ancient slavery? The regime of communism and labor are two things so incompatible that wherever the former has been established it has been necessary to condemn whole classes to forced labor. Thus the communism of the citizens of Lacedemonia
could be maintained only by making helots of those engaged in agriculture and the useful arts. Sparta reached the ideal of communism better than any other city, unless it be perhaps Crete. Sparta was not guilty of the error of making movable property and material products common property. It also made education and women common property. But, by one of those concessions which the reality always makes to logic, and which we meet everywhere in the history of practical communism; by one of those inconsistencies which make the existence of communism possible and its destruction inevitable, it retained something of individual property by providing that lands should be divided into equal portions. But how great the practical superiority of Spartan communism over the communism of the nineteenth century! It did not promise the members of the association wealth and enjoyment in common, but poverty and abstinence. It spurred the children onward, not by making labor attractive, but by the whip. By these means it was able to exist for a time. Their principles of morality, moreover, debarred the Spartans from the softening influence of the arts—a privation which their economic principles would have been sufficient to effect. The fine arts are impossible where there is not an excess of the wealth produced over the wealth consumed; and such an excess is impossible where communism prevails. The master work of Spartan legislation was to inspire the fanaticism of self-denial and a devotion to this state of things. Spartan morals were not the best. The Spartan, living on coarse food, trained for war, without luxury, without commerce, without a corrupting literature, was no less debauched than savage. Their rude power yielded at almost the first contact with civilized Greece, and could not withstand the wealth acquired after the war of the Peloponnesus. The people, who had rejected the institution of property, were famed for their rapacity, their avarice, and the venality of their magistrates. The people, who had sacrificed all to military prowess, fell to such a degree of weakness that they were forced to recruit their armies from among the helots, among whom they found their last great men. Occupied, like all ancient legislators, with the sole idea of doing away with revolution by destroying inequality, Lycurgus forgot that for states there is a worse danger than revolution—dissolution; and this is how Sparta ended.
The genius of Rome ignored communism. Everything vague, undetermined, is in keeping with the doctrine of communism, which in religion adores the all, in morality denies the person and sees only humanity, and in political economy absorbs individual property in the collective possession of the community. At Rome everything was well defined, the gods, virtue, the laws. Rome witnessed flourishing side by side stoicism which exalts the liberty and the dignity of the person, and property which assures that liberty and dignity. The institution of property might be abused without the right of property being denied, in Rome. That right was extended, under the rude authority of the father, not only to the slaves, but to the family. Usury appeared there without compassion. As to agrarian law, so frequently confounded with communism, we know that it was merely a claim (revenditation) by the poor plebeians who had taken part in the conquest, for lands retained exclusively by nobles and knights. The Gracchi did nothing, said absolutely nothing, incompatible with the right of property As to the revolts of slaves, what connection had they with communism? These unfortunates revolted not to have everything in common; they fought to own themselves.
We know how powerful an organization the family spirit and property received from the Mosaic law in Judea. Nevertheless, it must be remarked that if the law of the jubilee, which brought back to the same family alienated lands, was a sanctioning of the right of property, it was also an attack on that right: it sanctioned it by keeping it intact in the hands of the same families; it attacked it because it trammeled individual liberty and hindered the natural course of transactions between man and man. Each one lived "under the shadow of his vine and fig tree;" but for that very reason each one was, so to speak, made a parcel of the soil of his own patrimonial estate. Industry, commerce, the sciences, the arts, which have need of a certain surplus, and the activity which results from the frequent relations between men, remained foreign to this intelligent and energetic people. As where there is no right to property whatever there is no civilization, so an incomplete civilization is the result of every curtailment of the right of property, which can only show its full effects on condition of remaining an individual right.
Essenianism was the communism of Judea. In this country of religion communism was associated with the religious principle, as in Greece, the country of philosophy, it was associated with the philosophic idea, with Pythagoreanism, which was its partial realization. The school of Pythagoras was a community of sages living in accordance with the severest prescriptions of spiritual life, in self-denial, friendship, and the cultivation of the sciences, especially mathematics and astronomy. Their austerity and their labors suggest to us that it was a sort of pagan Port Royal, while their eagerness for rule and their political activity, which drove them out of most of the cities in which they had founded their establishments, remind us of the celebrated society of the Jesuits. In contrast with the Pythagoreans, who constituted, as it were, monasteries of philosophers, and whose political ideal was an aristocracy of enlightenment guiding and governing the obedient masses, the Essenes exhibit to us a little people, forming a kind of fraternal democracy; not that hierarchy was not respected among them, nor that ranks were not known and even sharply defined; but all were admitted among them on the single condition of a pure or repentant life; and everything was held in common by the chiefs and the subordinates. It must be said to the honor of the Essenes that they looked on slavery as an impious thing, an exception, however, which means nothing in favor of communism. The Essenes were in reality a very limited and entirely voluntary association; they were like a small tribe of monks; and Pliny said of them, "They perpetuate themselves without women, and live without money. * * * Repentance and distaste for the world are the fruitful sources which keep up their number." Communism, thus understood, was only a form of free association; the community received only those who agreed to form a part of it. Labor was carried on among them, moreover, by men reared in the habits and teachings of the upper society; and like all religious communities, it was founded not on the principle of unlimited satisfaction of human wants, but on that of rigorous abstinence. We can say as much of the Therapeutics, a Jewish sect of Egypt, whose members lived in isolation, and had little in common but their practices of religion.
Christianity put an end to the old world. Was it favorable to communism in the time of its Founder and the first apostles? This is a question which has been much discussed in our time, and which the communists, anxious to have the greatest authority of the civilized world on their side, unanimously answer in the affirmative. This claim has been refuted to our thinking, with an array of reasoning which amounts to demonstration. To begin with, if Christ had intended to extol communism, he would not have maintained the most profound silence on the subject. Then the texts of the gospels, appealed to in favor of communism, have a meaning altogether different from that attributed to them. Jesus Christ recommended almsgiving, the giving away of one's goods, which is a use and not the negation of property. In a word, he makes charity a religious duty, not an act of constraint, which abolishes all virtue and all charity. He repeats the precept of the divine law: "Thou shall not steal," which is a sanction of the right of property. He preaches the inviolability of the family so far as to condemn divorce, one of the few laws relating to civil life which he laid down. The language and conduct of the apostles are none the more on the side of communism. The spontaneous putting of all their goods in common by the first believers, was as much a means of resistance in their hands, and an instrument of propagandism, as a picture of Christian brotherhood. Liberty and the laws of morality and political economy find nothing contrary to their principles, in this free community of a religious sect pretending in no way to set itself up as a model of social organization nor to change the general conditions of the production of wealth. The example of the small Christian family, at Jerusalem, after the death of Christ, an example not followed to any extent by the other churches, has no weight as an argument.
We have to reach the second century and turn to a heresy severely condemned by Christianity, to see an instance of practical communism authorized by religion. The Carpocratians, who were confounded with the Gnostics, revived, a little earlier than two centuries after Christ, the infamy of the bacchanals that Rome had seen a little less than two centuries before his coming. The Christian communities, which were established with an ascetic object, had nothing to do with the history of communism. It is even certain that they could not have supported themselves in a communistic society; because they obtained their resources not from among themselves, but from outside. Moreover, these communities and the communists differ in every respect. Men came to join them, but were not born in them. Their object was almost always purely religious. The sexes, far from being together, lived separately; where marriage was permitted, its laws were strictly observed. The association of Herrnhuters, or Moravian brethren, is the sole exception to the above remarks. It was upheld by its evangelical spirit of humility, self-denial, hope in a future life, which rendered it less exacting in this one; in a word, by the very spirit most opposed to that of communism. While recognizing their virtues and their negative happiness, it must be recognized also that their narrow feeling of sect, their stationary condition, their want of arts, their proscription of everything lofty in science and all philosophical speculation, do not agree with the general character and the most necessary conditions of modern civilization.
When we follow the history of heresies in the Christian church, we find that communism was a stranger to most of them. Ecclesiastical authors, in order to brand them more surely, have been somewhat lavish of this reproach against them; and communistic writers have eagerly granted the truth of the reproach in order to gain for themselves a more imposing family tree. Bossuet, in his "History of the Variations," has not been sparing in this accusation against the heretics of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, especially against the Waldenses and Albigenses, whose innocence, in this respect, has been established, it appears to us, by the historian of communism, Sudre. The same is the case with the Lollards and some other sects more theological than political. It needed all the partiality of contemporary history, written from the communistic point of view, to make a Wickliffe and a John Huss apostles of social fraternity. The germs of communism were developed, nevertheless, in certain sects, such as the Brothers of the Free Spirit in the thirteenth century, and perhaps among some others. But communism broke out with the Anabaptists in a bold and most terrible form. It does not enter into our plan to relate this tragic episode in the history of communism in which it appeared with all the retinue of false theories which it advocated and evil passions which it roused. "We are all brothers," said Muncer, the chief of the Anabaptists, to the listening crowd, "and we have a common father in Adam; whence comes this difference in rank and possessions which tyranny has set up between us and the great ones of the earth? Why should we groan in poverty and be overwhelmed with misery while they are swimming in delight? Have we not a right to equality of goods, which, by their nature, are made to be divided among all men? Give up to us, rich men of the world, covetous usurpers, give up to us the goods which you keep unjustly; it is not as men alone that we have a right to an equal distribution of the advantages of fortune, but also as Christians." Spoliation, polygamy, the destruction of statues, of paintings, of books, with the exception of the Bible, followed these preachings, especially at Mulhausen and Munster.
After having shown how sensual and fierce it can make men, of itself, it remained for communism to show by the example of Paraguay how moral, mild and happy it may make them when joined to the religious principle. This last experience of which it boasts, does not appear, any more than the others, very brilliant or very enviable. The crowning work of the Jesuits in their colonies was to change a colony of men into a flock of obedient and timid children, without any ideas of their own, without vices, but at the same time without virtues. The Jesuit fathers had established a system of absolute rule; they directed the production and distribution of wealth with that despotism without which communism is not possible. The happiness which they procured their flock was not, however, protected from the storm; and it is stated that the news of their departure was received with shouts of joy. The state of primitive innocence and even happiness under a superior authority can not be, at all events, the ideal of a civilization which prefers struggle, with its inevitable failure and the progress consequent on it, to this inert and stupid state of impeccability.
We must come down to our own time and to the New Harmony of Owen to find a fresh example of practical communism. The illusions of the modern reformer, who made irresponsibility his principal dogma, need not be recalled. It may be said that, on the whole, communism has done nothing considerable since the time of Paraguay, where it was able to survive for a time, owing solely to the change and modifications made in it by the religious spirit. Since then, it has appeared in the form of aspiration or conspiracy. Buboeuf and his accomplices met the same fate as Muncer and John of Leyden, without having had the same success; and the records of the doctrine since June, 1848, and recently, have been only those of its defeats and disappointments.
To complete the review of communism it only remains to cast a glance over the Utopias which it has produced, limiting ourselves to pointing out the chief trait of each, and the conclusions to be drawn from them all.
The type of all the communistic Utopias has justly been found in the Republic of Plato. It is important, however, to distinguish carefully the communism of the Greek philosopher from the doctrines with which it is confounded. Plato has been too frequently thought of as a modern utopist who aims at reforming the world. The republic of Plato is a purely ideal application of his philosophy to society. As a philosopher he paid too little attention in his analysis of man to the moral fact of liberty. This defect appears with all its deplorable consequences in his imaginary society. As a philosopher he understood the idea of justice admirably as far as it can be understood when detached from liberty; and with a geometrical precision concealed under the freest and most brilliant forms he arrives at absolute equality, interrupted no longer by individual differences of effort and merit, but by the personal differences of intelligence and moral energy. In this way he reaches an aristocracy of philosophers and warriors. Let us not forget, either, that Plato, far from looking toward the future had his eyes constantly turned toward the east, a country of (more or less) collective property and theocracy. Except in a few views purely moral, as sublime as they were new, which contained in them the future of the human race, we may say that Plato in his Republic wrote simply the Utopia of the past. Let us observe also that, in this work itself, property and the family seem forbidden only to one class, that of the warriors. Do not European armies recall some of the traits of this organization, supported by the other classes of citizens? Have the soldiers a family? have they land to cultivate or a table apart? The republic attests with none the less force the irresistible inclination of communism, which, whether it takes its starting point in the brutal appeal to the instincts, or has its source, as here, in the principles of abstract justice shorn of the idea and the feeling of the freedom of the will, reaches the same result, and derives the negation of the family from that of property. But the smile of Socrates while exposing this impracticable system, is perhaps the refutation best suited to this brilliant play of dialectics and imagination combined, a logical and poetical deduction of an idea, and not a serious plan of social reform.
What could a regular explanation of the systems of Thomas More and Campanella add to what we have already said? It matters little that the Utopia and the City of the Sun differ in certain regards, but it is important to remark that they agree in some of the great negations brought about by that of liberty and property. More wishes the institution of the family might remain, but he wants slaves for great public works and to fill the voids left in production by the utopists. Campanella abolishes the family. Both make the state sovereign master of labor and sole distributer of products.
Communism assumed in the eighteenth, century an exclusively philosophical form; it very nearly renounced allegory and symbolism to make use of analysis and reasoning. We do not doubt that the constitution of the institution of property which communism had before its eyes was vicious, and that philosophy and political economy were to labor for its reformation; but if the excessive and unjust equalities of eighteenth century society explain communism, how can they justify a system which moved in opposition to the general aspirations for liberty and civilization? Rousseau was not a partisan of this doctrine though he gave it weapons. In his "Discourse on Inequality," as well as in his "Social Contract," he recognizes the close solidarity of property and society, and while deploring the existence of the latter he declares it indestructible. In basing property on the law he fell into an error, general in his time, and from which Montesquieu himself was not free. Mably, who carried the principles of Rousseau to absurdity, and who changed his tendencies into systems, asks humanity to return to its natural state. In his Legislation, or Principes des lois, in his Doutes sur l'ordre naturel et essentiel des Societis opposed to the Physiocrates, in his Entretiens de Phocion, he is scarcely more than the servile commentator of Rousseau and Lycurgus. Labor in common, distribution by the state, abolition of arts, intolerance in matters of religion: these ancient consequences of the doctrine are deduced by Mably with a rigor which leaves little to be desired. The obscure Morelly goes farther yet, if possible, in his tedious Basiliade and in his hateful Code de la nature, which became the code of revolutionary communism. The boldness of Brissot de Warville, who, anticipating a celebrated saying, assimilated property to theft, and the inconsistent eccentricities of Neckcr and Linguet, could only repeat or extenuate these anathemas and theories. They were continued through the French revolution which deprived them of their raison d'etre. A disciple of Rousseau, Robespierre was not a communist, though his principles put society on the incline which leads to communism. Baboeuf, on the contrary, was. Morelly became a man of action. Philosophic and dreamy communism appeared only with Cabet, author of the Voyage en Icarie, and with the more advanced editors of the Humanitaire. These latter are much more consistent. In his communism founded on fraternity, and repeating all the arguments restoring the use of all the habitual methods of communism varied but little in its nature, Cabet, nevertheless, wished to retain the family. L'Humanitaire opposed this. We have shown on which side the logic was. Let us add also, in order to be just, that Cabet deceived himself with the fond delusion that each one would retain his cottage and his garden. He allowed his Icarians, after having well served the state which oversaw them strictly all the week, to be absolutely free every Sunday. This is far too much. A single Sunday in freedom would be death to Icaria. With these exceptions we recognize under the honey of the form the inevitable spirit of communism, that is to say, the purest despotism regulating industry, science, religion, etc.
Of what use is it to know that there are several varieties of communists in France in the nineteenth century? Some of them in a minority wish to act with mildness, just as if when property is once recognized as an obstacle to all progress, it is not necessary to destroy it at once. Some deny a God, the soul, responsibility; others mean to admit them, which is perfectly useless, since they conduct to the same practical materialism. There are others who wish to retain the fine arts, as if their economic system permitted the retention. Some are in favor of having towns, while others find it better to destroy them and force all to live in the country. These differences are of little interest. In reality there is only one and the same communism: consistent communism.
And now, if communism as an aspiration is a real disease of the social state, and if communism as an economic doctrine is merely a disease of the human mind, what are the remedies? After good moral training and instruction, to which we assign the first place, we know of but two: as to society, to apply in it more and more the great principles of economic science which indeed can not destroy its evils, but may gradually diminish them; as to minds, to imbue them continually more and more with the truths of political economy. Such is the best or rather the only real antidote against the threatening progress of communism.
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