in Daniel Guerin, ed., No Gods, No Masters: An Anthology of Anarchism (1980)
IDEAS ON SOCIAL ORGANIZATION (1876)I. FOREWORD
Implementation of the ideas set out in the pages about to be read can only be achieved by means of a revolutionary movement.
It is not in one day that waters rise to the point where they can breach the dam holding them back: the waters rise slowly and by degrees: but once they have reached the desired level, the collapse is sudden, and the dam crumbles in the blinking of an eye.
There are, thus, two phenomena in succession, of which the second is the necessary consequence of the first: first, the slow conversion of ideas, needs and methods of action within the society; then, when the moment comes when this conversion is far enough advanced to be translated entirely into deeds, comes the abrupt and decisive crisis, the revolution, which is merely the culmination of a protracted evolution, the sudden manifestation of a change a long time in the hatching and become inevitable.
It will not occur to any serious-minded person to signal in advance the ways and means whereby the revolution, that indispensable overture to the overhauling of society, must be carried out. A revolution is a natural phenomenon, not the act of one or of several individual wills; it does not operate in accordance with any pre-determined scheme, but comes about through the uncontrollable impulse of necessities which no one may command.
So do not look to us for an outline revolutionary plan of campaign: we leave such childishness to those who still believe in the possibility and efficacy of a personal dictatorship in encompassing the work of human emancipation.
We shall confine ourselves to stating briefly the character which we should like to see the revolution have, if we are to avert its relapsing into the aberrations of the past. That character has to be above all else negative and destructive. It is not a matter of improving certain institutions from the past so as to adapt them to a new society, but rather of suppressing them. Thus, radical suppression of government, the army, the courts, the Church, the school, banking, and everything connected with them. At the same time, there is a positive side to the revolution: it is the workers' assumption of ownership of the instruments of labor and of all capital.
We ought to explain how we envisage this assumption of ownership. First, let us speak of the land and the peasants.
In several countries, but particularly in France, the bourgeois and the clergy have long sought to gull and frighten peasants by telling them that the revolution aimed to take away their lands.
This is a foul lie by the enemies of the people. The Revolution seeks the very opposite: it aims to wrest the land from the bourgeois, the nobles and the clergy, in order to bestow it upon those among the peasants who have none.
If a tract belongs to a peasant, and that peasant works it himself, the revolution will not touch it. On the contrary, it will guarantee him free possession of it, and will release him from all charges weighing upon it. The land that paid a levy to the exchequer, and which was burdened by heavy mortgages, the revolution will emancipate just as it emancipates the worker: no more levies, no more mortgages; the land becomes free again, as does the man.
As for the lands of the bourgeois, the nobles and the clergy and the lands which the rural poor have tilled to this day for their masters, the revolution will wrest these back from those who stole them and restore them to their rightful owners, to those who cultivate them.
What will the revolution do in order to seize the land from the bourgeoisie, the exploiters and give it to the peasants?
To date, whenever the bourgeois made a political revolution, whenever they mounted one of these movements of which the sole upshot was that the people had a change of masters, they were wont to issue decrees and proclaim the wishes of the new government to the country: the decree was posted up in the communes, and the prefect, the courts, the mayor and the gendarmes saw to its implementation.
The authentically popular revolution will not be following that example: it will not draft decrees, will not require the services of the police and of the government administration. Not with decrees, with words written upon paper, does it seek to emancipate the people, but with deeds.
In this chapter we shall be examining the manner in which the peasants must organize themselves in order to extract maximum possible profit from their instrument of labor, the soil.
In the wake of the Revolution, here is the position in which the peasants will find themselves: some, who already had been small proprietors, retain the parcel of land which they carry on cultivating unaided, along with their family. Others, and these are the greater number, who were tenants of some big landlord, or mere waged laborers of some farmer, will have joined forces to seize a huge tract of land, and should cultivate it in common.
Which of these two arrangements is the better?
It is not a matter here of theorizing, but of taking the facts as our point of departure and establishing what is practicable immediately.
Approaching it from that angle, let us say for a start that the essential thing, the thing for which the Revolution has been made, has been achieved: the land has become the property of him who works it, the peasant no longer toils in order to profit an exploiter who lives off his sweat.
This great gain made, the rest is of secondary importance: the peasants may, should they so desire, divide the land into individual lots and assign one lot to each worker, or they may instead take the land under common ownership and band together to work it. However, although it may be secondary by comparison with the essential fact, the emancipation of the peasant, this matter of the best way to approach cultivation and ownership of the soil is also deserving of attentive scrutiny.
In a region which, prior to the Revolution, would have been peopled by peasant small-holders; where the nature of the soil is not such as to favor large holdings; where agriculture still clings to methods from the days of the patriarchs or where use of machinery is unknown, or not widespread -- in a region like that, it will be natural that the peasants should cling to the form of property to which they are accustomed. Each of them will carry on working his holding as he did in the past, with this sole difference, that his erstwhile servants (if he had any) will have become his colleagues and will share with him the fruits extracted from the land by their common effort.
Yet, the probability is that after a little while, these peasants who stayed small-holders will see the advantage to themselves of amending their traditional working arrangement. To start with, they will combine in order to set up a communal agency charged with sale or exchange of their produce: then that initial combination will lead them to essay others not along the same lines. They will act in common to acquire various machines designed to facilitate their labors; they will assist one another in performance of certain tasks better performed when carried out quickly by a large number of hands, and they will doubtless end up imitating their brethren, the workers of industry and those from the large holdings, by deciding to pool their lands and form an agricultural association. But they will cling to the old routine for some years, and even though a whole generation may elapse in certain communes before the peasants resolve to adopt the collective ownership format, that delay will not pose any serious inconvenience; would that not be an end of the rural proletariat, and even within the communes clinging to the past, would there be anything other than a population of free workers living amid plenty and peace?
On the other hand, where big estates, and vast holdings account for a considerable number of workers, whose concerted and combined efforts are necessary for the soil to be worked, collective ownership prevails unaided. We will see the territory of an entire commune, sometimes even of several communes, composing only one agricultural venture, where the methods of large-scale farming will be followed. In these huge, farm-workers' communities, there will be no attempt, as the small peasant strives today upon his little parcel of land, to extract a host of different products from the same soil; we will not see, side by side, within the compass of a single hectare of land, a little stand of wheat, a little stand of potatoes, another of vines, another of forage, another of fruit trees, etc. By virtue of its external configuration, its exposure and its chemical composition, every soil has a special disposition for one variety of produce: thus, there will be no sowing of wheat on land suited to vines, no attempt to wrest potatoes from soil that would be better employed as pasture. Should it have land of just one sort, the agricultural community will engage only in the cultivation of one sort of produce, in the knowledge that cultivation on a large scale brings much more considerable results with less labor, and it will opt to secure the produce it needs through exchange, rather than produce only a small crop of inferior quality from soil not suited to the purpose.
The internal organization of an agricultural community is not necessarily going to be the same everywhere: there may be a rather wide variety according to the preferences of the combined workers; provided that they abide by the principles of equality and justice, they need consider only convenience and usefulness in this connection.
The management of the community may be conferred upon either a single individual, or upon a panel of several members elected by all of the membership: it will even be feasible for various administrative functions to be separated, each one entrusted to a special commission. The length of the working day will be fixed, not by some general law applicable nation-wide, but by decision of the community itself: the only thing is that, as the community is to be in contact with all of the agricultural workers of the region, it has to be accepted as likely that an agreement will be reached among all the workers upon the adoption of a standard practice on this score. The products of labor belong to the community and from it each member receives, either in kind (subsistence, clothing, etc.) or in exchange currency, remuneration for the labor performed by him. In some associations, such remuneration will be in proportion to hours worked; elsewhere, it will reflect both hours worked and the nature of duties performed; still other arrangements may be tried and put into practice.
This matter of distribution becomes quite a secondary issue, once the question of ownership has been settled and there are no capitalists left to batten upon the labor of the masses. We reckon, however, that the principle to which we should seek to approximate as closely as possible is this: FROM EACH ACCORDING TO ABILITY, TO EACH ACCORDING TO NEEDS. Once -- thanks to mechanical methods and the advances of industrial and agricultural science -- production has been so increased that it far outstrips the needs of society -- and that result will be achieved within a few years of the Revolution -- once we are at that point, shall we say, there will be an end of scrupulous measuring of the portion due each worker: each of them will be able to dip into the abundant social reserve, to meet all of his requirements, without fear of ever exhausting it, and the moral sentiment which will have grown up among free and equal workers will prevent abuse and waste. In the interim, it is for each community to determine for itself during the transitional period, the method which it considers most appropriate for distributing produce among its members.
As with the peasants, there are several categories to be distinguished among the workers of industry. For a start, there are trades in which tools are virtually insignificant, where the division of labor is non-existent or just barely exists, and where, as a result, the individual worker can produce every bit as well as he would were he to work in concert. The professions of tailor, cobbler, etc., for example, fit that bill.1
Then there are the trades requiring cooperation of several workers, recourse to what is described as collective power, and which are generally followed in a workshop or chapel: the printworkers, cabinet-makers and masons are examples.
Finally, there is a third category of industry, where division of labor is taken much further, where production takes place on a mammoth scale and requires use of mighty machines and access to considerable capital. Examples are weaving, the metal-working plants, collieries, etc.
In the case of workers belonging to the first category, collective labor is not a necessity: and it will doubtless happen that in many cases, the tailor or cobbler may prefer to go on working alone out of his little shop. This is quite a natural thing, especially as in the smaller' communes, there may be perhaps only a single worker belonging to each of these trades. Yet, and while not wishing to trespass in the least against the independence of the individual, our reckoning is that, where feasible, working in common is better: in the company of his equals, the worker has the incentive of emulation: he produces more, and plies his trade with more heart: in addition, working in common facilitates more useful monitoring of the whole by the individual, and of the individual by the whole.
As for the workers of the two other categories, obviously combination is forced upon them by the very nature of their toil: and as their instruments of labor are no longer simple tools for personal use only, but rather machines or tools, the use of which requires collaboration of several workers, ownership of that equipment cannot be other than collective.
Every workshop, every factory will therefore represent a workers' association which will remain at liberty to administer itself howsoever it may see fit, as long as the rights of the individual are safeguarded and the principles of equality and justice put into practice. In the preceding chapter, apropos of the agricultural workers' associations or communities, we offered, with regard to management, duration of working hours and distribution of produce, observations which are of course equally applicable to workers in industry, and which, as a result, we need not repeat. We have just said that, wheresoever we have an industry requiring somewhat complicated equipment and working in common, there had to be common ownership of the instruments of labor. But there is something that needs to be determined: is that common property to belong exclusively to the workshop where it operates, or should it instead be the property of the whole body of the workers of this or that industry?
Our view is that the latter of these solutions is the right one. When, fot instance, come the Revolution, the printworkers of the city of Rome assume possession of all of that city's printworks, they ought immediately to meet in general assembly, there to declare that the range of printworks in Rome constitutes the common property of all Rome's print workers. Then, as soon as possible, they ought to take another step, and show solidarity with the print-workers of the other towns in Italy: the outcome of this solidarity agreement will be the establishment of every printing works in Italy as collective property, of the federation of Italian printworkers. Through this communalization, the printworkers right across Italy will be able to go and work in any of the towns in the country, and be assured of finding there the instruments of labor of which they will be entitled to avail.
But whereas, in our view, ownership of the instruments of labor ought to be vested in the corporation, we do not mean to say that, above the teams of workers making up the workshops, there is to be a sort of industrial government empowered to dispose of the instruments of labor as it deems fit. No: the workers of the various workshops do not at all abandon the instruments of labor captured by them to the care of a higher power called the corporation. What they do is this: under certain conditions, they mutually guarantee one another usufruct of the instrument of labor of which they have gained possession, and, by affording their colleagues from other workshops a joint share in that power, they receive, in return, a joint share in the ownership of the instruments of labor in the care of the colleagues with whom they have entered into the solidarity agreement.
The commune comprises the body of workers resident in the same locality. Taking as our model the commune, such as it exists in the vast majority of cases, and overlooking the exceptions, let us define the commune -- as the local federation of producers' groups.
This local federation or commune is established with a view to furnishing certain services which are not the sole preserve of one corporation or another, but which affect them all, and which, for that very reason, are known as public services.
Communal public services can be summarized under the following headings:
All homes are the property of the commune.
Once the Revolution has been made, everyone carries on, temporarily, living in the same lodgings as before, with the exception of those families who were consigned to unhealthy or much too inadequate homes, and who are to be lodged immediately, through the good offices of the commune, in vacant apartments of homes previously the property of the rich.
The construction of new homes, containing healthy, spacious and comfortable lodgings, by way of replacement for the squalid hovels in the old popular districts, will be one of the prime tasks of the liberated society. The commune will turn its attention to this immediately, and in so doing, it will not only be able to supply work to the masons', carpenters', locksmiths' and roofers' corporations, etc., but will also readily find useful occupation for that mass of folk who, living a life of idleness prior to the Revolution, have no trade; these can be employed as laborers on the huge building and excavation sites which will then open all over the liberated region, particularly in the towns.
These new lodgings are to be erected at everyone's expense -- which means that, in return for labor performed by the various construction trades, the latter will receive from the commune the exchange bonds needed for them to be able largely to subsidize the upkeep of all their members. And since the housing will have been erected at the expense of all, it will have to be accessible to all which is to say that access to it will be free of charge, and that no one will be required to pay a levy or rent in return for the apartment he is to occupy.
Accommodations being free of charge, it seems that serious disagreements may arise from that, because no one will be willing to hold on to poor lodgings and everybody will be squabbling over the best ones. But we think that it would be wrong to think that serious problems would arise on that score, and here is the reason why. First, we ought to say that unwillingness to live in poor accommodations and yearning for better is assuredly a very legitimate desire: and it is precisely that desire, that we shall see arise very forcefully, which affords us an assurance that there will be vigorous steps taken everywhere to satisfy it, through the building of new homes. But until such time as they have been built, we will indeed have to be patient and make do with existing stock: as we have said, the commune will have taken care to meet the most pressing needs by lodging the poorest families in the airy mansions of the rich: and, as for the remainder of the population, we believe that revolutionary enthusiasm will have engendered a feeling of unselfishness and self-denial which will ensure that everyone will be happy to bear, for a little while yet, the discomforts of unsuitable accommodations, and that it will not occur to anyone to take issue with a more fortunate neighbor who may, temporarily, have more agreeable accommodations.
After a short while, thanks to the vigor with which the builders, under the stimulus of widespread demand, will work, accommodations will become so plentiful, that every demand can be met: everybody will merely have to choose, in sure and certain knowledge that accommodation to his taste will be forthcoming.
What we say here is not at all as fanciful or wondrous as it might appear to those whose gaze has never looked beyond the horizon of bourgeois society: instead, it could not be simpler or more natural, so natural that it would be impossible for things to happen otherwise. In effect, with what ought the legions of masons and other construction workers to busy themselves, other than endlessly building comfortable accommodations truly worthy of occupation by the members of a civilized society? Will they need to build for years on end, before every family has its own? No. It will be a short-lived endeavor. And once they have finished, are they to fold their arms? No, of course not: they will carry on working: they will improve and refurbish existing stock, and gradually we will see the dismal districts, the narrow lanes, the unfit housing in our present towns disappearing: in their place will be erected mansions accommodating workers restored to their manhood.
In the new society, there will be no more commerce, in the sense attached to that term today.
Every commune will establish an exchange agency, the workings of which we are about to explain as clearly as possible.
The workers' associations, as well as individual producers (in the sectors where individual production may continue) will deposit their products with the exchange agency. The value of these various products will have been fixed in advance by agreement between the regional trades federations and the various communes, on the.basis of information which statistics will afford. The exchange agency will issue producers with exchange vouchers to the value of their products: these exchange vouchers will be acceptable currency throughout the whole territory of the Federation of communes.
Among the products thus deposited with the exchange agency, some are destined for use in the commune itself, and others for export to other communes, and thus for, barter against other products.
The former among these products will be shipped to the different communal bazaars, for the establishment of which temporary recourse will have been had to the most convenient of the shops and stores of the former merchants. Of these bazaars, some will be given over to foodstuffs, others to clothing, others to household goods, etc.
Products destined for export are to remain in the general stores, until such time as they are despatched to communes which are in need of them.
Here let us pre-empt one objection. We may perhaps be told: by means of exchange vouchers, the exchange agency in every commune issues the producers with a token of the value of their produce, and that before it has any assurance of those same products "moving." Should the products not "move," where would that leave the exchange agency? Might it not risk incurring losses, and is not the sort of operation entrusted to it high risk?
Our answer to that is that every exchange agency is confident in advance that the products it receives will "move," so that there cannot be any problem with its promptly issuing producers with their value in the form of exchange vouchers.
There will be certain categories of workers who will find it materially impossible to bring their products into the exchange agency: construction workers are one such example. But the exchange agency will nonetheless serve them as an intermediary: they will register there the various works they will have completed, the value of which will at all times have been agreed beforehand, and the agency will issue them with exchange vouchers to that value. The same will be true of the various workers employed in the commune's administrative services: their work takes the form, not of manufactured products, but of services rendered; these services will have been costed in advance and the exchange agency will issue them with the value of them.
The exchange agency's function is not just to receive products brought to it by the commune's workers: it liaises with other communes, and brings in products which the commune is forced to secure from outside, either to supplement their diet, or as raw materials, fuel, manufactured products, etc.
Such products drawn from outside are displayed in the communal stores, alongside local produce.
Consumers arrive at these various stores, brandishing their exchange vouchers, which may be split up into coupons of differing values: and there, on the basis of a standard tariff, they obtain all of the consumer items they may need.
So far, the account we have offered of the operations of the exchange agency does not differ in any essential from current commercial practice: in fact, those operations are nothing more than purchase and sale transactions: the agency buys produce from the producers and sells consumers consumer items. But we reckon that after a while, the exchange agencies' practices may be amended without any drawback, and that gradually a new arrangement will supplant the old: exchange proper will fade away and make room for distribution pure and simple.
Here is what we mean by that:
As long as a product is in short supply, and is found in the communal stores only in quantities smaller than the consumers could cope with, then one is obliged to introduce a measure of rationing into distribution of the item: and the easiest way to enforce rationing on consumers is to sell them the item, which is to say, to make it available only to those who will offer a certain price in return. But once, thanks to the prodigious expansion of production which will inevitably ensue as soon as work is organized along rational lines -- once, shall we say, thanks to that expansion, this or that class of product far exceeds what the population could consume, then it will no longer be necessary to ration consumers; the sale transaction, which was a sort of brake upon immoderate consumption, can be dispensed with: the communal agencies will no longer sell products to consumers, but will distribute to them in accordance with the requirements claimed by the latter.
This substitution of distribution for exchange can be effected shortly in respect df all basic necessities: for the initial efforts of the producers' associations will be focused above all upon plentiful production of those items. Soon, other items, which today are still hard to come by and expensive, and are, as a result, regarded as luxury items, can, in their turn, go into large-scale production, and thus enter the realm of distribution, which is to say, of widespread consumption. On the other hand, other items, few in number and of little importance (say, pearls, diamonds, certain metals) can never become commonplace, because nature itself limits availability; but as the high repute they enjoy today will no longer be attributed to them, they will scarcely be sought after, other than by scientific associations eager to deposit them in natural history museums or to use them in the manufacture of certain instruments.
The provision of foodstuffs is, in a way, only ancillary to the exchange facility. Indeed, what we have just been saying about the exchange agency is applicable to all products, including products specially destined for use as foodstuffs. However, we deem it useful to add, in a special paragraph, some more detailed explanation of arrangements to be made regarding distribution of the chief food products. Today, the bakery, butchery, wine trade and colonial produce trade are at the mercy of private industry and speculators, who, through all sorts of frauds, seek to enrich themselves at the consumer's expense. The new society will have to remedy this state of affairs immediately, and that remedy will consist of elevating to the status of communal public service anything having to do with distribution of essential foodstuffs.
Let careful note be taken here: this does not mean that the commune commandeers certain branches of production. No: production proper remains in the hands of the producers' associations. But in the case, say, of bread, of what does production comprise? Of nothing except the growing of the wheat. The farmer sows and harvests the grain, and delivers it to the communal exchange: at which point the function of the producer is at an end. Grinding that grain into flour, turning the flour into bread no longer have anything to do with production; it is work comparable with the work performed by the various employees of the communal stores, work designed to make a food product, wheat, accessible to the consumers. The same goes for beef, etc.
So we can see: from the point of view of principle, there cannot be anything more logical than reincorporating the bakery, butchery, wine trade, etc., into the remit of the commune.
As a result, wheat, once it reaches the commune's shops, is to be ground into flour in a communal mill (it goes without saying that several communes may share the same mill): the flour is to be turned into bread in communal bakeries, and the bread will be issued to consumers by the commune. The same will be true in the case of meat: animals will be slaughtered in the communal abattoirs, and butchered in the communal butcheries. Wines will be stored in the communal cellars and issued to consumers by specialist staff. Finally, other food crops will, according to whether they are for more or less immediate consumption, be stored in the commune stores or displayed in the markets, where consumers may come in search of them.
It is primarily with regard to this category of products, bread, meat, wine, etc., that every effort will be made to supplant the exchange arrangement with the distribution arrangement as quickly as possible. Once everyone can be assured of plentiful food supply, progress in the sciences, industrial arts and civilization in general 'will make giant strides.
The communal statistical commission will have charge of collating all statistical information affecting the commune.
The various production associations or bodies will keep it constantly up to date with the size of their membership and with changes to their personnel, in such a way that instantaneous information may be available regarding the numbers employed in various branches of production.
Through the good offices of the exchange agency, the statistical commission will secure the most comprehensive data regarding production figures and consumption figures.
It will be through the statistics thus collected from all of the communes in a region, that it will be possible to strike a scientific balance between production and consumption: by working to such information, it will be possible to add to the numbers employed in branches where production was inadequate, and to re-deploy in those where productivity is excessive. It will also be thanks to them that we will be able to determine -- granted not absolutely, but with sufficient practical accuracy -- the relative worth of various products, which will serve as the basis for the exchange agencies' tariffs.
But that is not all: the statistical commission will still have to perform the tasks currently within the remit of the civil state; it will register births and deaths. We will not say marriages, because, in a free society, the willing union of man and woman will no longer be a formal act, but rather a purely private act in need of no public sanction.
Lots of other things fall within the statistical remit: diseases, meteorological observations, in short, everything which, happening on a regular basis, is susceptible to registration and calculation, and from the statistical analysis of which some information, and occasionally even some scientific law may be deduced.
Under the general heading of hygiene we have classed sundry public services the good operation of which is crucial to the maintenance of community health.
Pride of place has to go, of course, to the medical service, which will be made accessible by the commune free of charge to all of its members. Doctors will no longer be industrialists aiming to extract the fattest possible profit from their sick; they are to be employees of the commune, and paid by it, and their care is to be available to all who ask for it.
But the medical service is only the curative side of that sphere of activity and human knowledge concerned with health: it is not enough to cure illnesses, they should also be prevented. That is the function of hygiene properly so called.
We might go on to cite still other matters which should hold the attention and fall within the remit of the hygiene commission, but what little we have just said must by now be enough to give some idea of the nature of its functions and their importance.
This service takes in measures necessary in order to guarantee the personal security of every inhabitant of the commune, as well as protect buildings, produce, etc., against any depredation and misadventure.
It is unlikely that there will still be instances of theft and banditry in a society where everyone will be able to live freely upon the fruits of his labor, and will find all of his requirements met in full. Material well-being as well as the intellectual and moral uplift that will result from the truly humane training afforded to all, will in any case make much rarer the sort of crimes that are the products of debauchery, anger, brutality or other vices.
Nevertheless, the taking of precautions in order to preserve the security of persons will not be a useless exercise. This service, which might -- had the term not an excessively erroneous implication -- be described as the commune's police, will not be entrusted, as it is today, to a specialist corps; every inhabitant will be liable to participate in it, and to take turns in the various security positions which the commune will have established.
Here no doubt, there will be speculation as to the treatment to be meted out in an egalitarian society to someone guilty of murder or other violent offenses. Obviously, a murderer cannot be allowed to go blithely on his way, on the pretext of respecting the rights of the individual and rebutting authority, nor can we wait for some friend of the victim to claim a life for a life. He will have to be denied his freedom and kept in a special establishment until such time as he can be returned safely to society. How ought he to be treated during his captivity? And in accordance with which principles will its duration be determined? These are delicate matters, upon which opinions are still divided. We shall have to trust to trial and error for a resolution of them: but even now we know that, thanks to the transformation which education will work upon character, crime will become very rare: criminals being now only aberrations, they are to be regarded as sick and demented; the issue of crime, which today occupies so many judges, lawyers and jailers, will diminish in social significance and become a simple entry under the philosophy of medicine.
The first point to be considered is the question of the upkeep of children. Today, it is the parents who are charged with seeing to the nourishment and education of their children; this practice is the result of a bad practice which looks upon the child as parental property. The child is no one's property, but belongs to itself; and for the duration of the period when he is still incapable of looking to his own protection, and when, as a result, he may be exposed to exploitation, it is up to society to protect him and guarantee his unhindered development. It is up to society, too, to see to his upkeep: by subsidizing his consumption and the sundry costs incurred by his education, society is simply advancing him money which the child will reimburse through his labor once he becomes a producer.
Thus, it is society, and not parents, that should look to the upkeep of the child. That general principle accepted, we believe that we should refrain from prescribing in any precise and detailed way the form in which it should be implemented; we should be risking a lapse into utopianism; we must give freedom a chance and await whatever experience has to teach. Let us say only that with regard to the child, society is represented by the commune and each commune will have to decide upon the arrangement it deems best with regard to the upkeep of its children: in some places, preference will be given to the common life, elsewhere the children will be left to their mothers, up to a certain age at any rate, etc.
But this is only one facet of the question. The commune feeds, clothes and houses its children: who is to teach them, who will make men and producers of them? And according to which scheme will their education be administered?
To such questions our answer will be: children's education should be rounded, which is to say that it should develop simultaneously all bodily faculties and all intellectual ones, so as to turn the child into a rounded adult. This education should not be entrusted to a special teacher caste: everyone who has a science, an art or a trade to offer can and should be invited to impart it.
Two levels are to be distinguished in education: one when the child, between the ages of five and twelve years, has not yet attained the age to study the sciences, and when essentially it is a question of developing his physical attributes, and a second level when the child, aged between twelve and sixteen years, should be introduced to the several branches of human knowledge, while also learning the practice of one or several branches of production.
At the first level, as we have said, essentially it will be a matter of developing the child's physical faculties, strengthening the body and exercising the senses. Today, the task of exercising the vision, training the ear or developing manual dexterity is left to chance; by contrast, rational education will, by means of special exercises, set about making the eye and the ear as powerful as they have the potential to be; and, as for the hands, great care will be taken not to accustom children to being right-handed only: an effort will be made to make them as dextrous with the one hand as with the other.
At the same time as the senses are being exercised, and bodily vigor boosted by means of clever gymnastics, a start will be made on the cultivation of the mind, but in a quite spontaneous way: the child's head will be filled automatically by a number of scientific facts.
Personal observation, experience, conversations between children, or with the individuals charged with supervising their instruction will be the only lessons they will receive during this stage.
The school governed arbitrarily by a pedagogue, where the pupils sigh for freedom and outdoor games, is to be done way with. In their assemblies, the children will be completely free: they themselves will organize their games, their get-togethers and will establish a panel to oversee their work and arbitrators to resolve their squabbles, etc. In this way, they will grow used to public life, accountability, mutuality; the teacher whom they will have chosen of their own free will to deliver their education will no longer be a despised tyrant but rather a friend to whom they will listen with pleasure.
At the second level, the children, upon reaching the age of twelve or thirteen years, will, in a methodical way, study, one after another, the chief branches of human learning. Instruction will not be entrusted to the care of men who will make it their sole occupation: the teachers of this or that science will simultaneously be producers who will spend part of their time on manual labor: and every branch will number, not one, but a very great number of men in the commune who are possessed of a science and disposed to teach it. What is more, joint reading of good textbooks, and the discussions which will follow such reading will do much to reduce the importance currently attached to the personality of the teacher.
At the same time as the child is developing his body and absorbing the sciences, he will serve his apprenticeship as a producer. In first level education, the need to amend or modify play materials will have initiated the child into the handling of the major tools. At the second level, he will visit a variety of workshops, and soon, he will choose one or several specializations for himself. His instructors will be the producers themselves: in every workshop, there will be pupils and a part of every worker's time will be devoted to demonstrating working procedures to them. To this practical instruction, a few theoretical lessons will be added.
In this way, upon reaching the age of sixteen or seventeen years, the young man will have sampled the whole range of human knowledge and will be equipped to proceed alone to further studies, should he so wish; in addition, he will have learned a trade, whereupon he will enter the ranks of the useful producers, in such a way that, through his labor, he is able to repay to society the debt he owes it for his education.
It remains for us to say something about the child's relations with his family.
There are people who contend that a social organization formula that makes the child's upkeep incumbent upon society, is nothing short of "destruction of the family." That is a meaningless expression: as long as it requires the cooperation of two individuals of opposite sex to procreate a new-born child, there will be fathers and mothers, and the natural bond of kinship between the child and those to whom he owes his existence cannot be stricken from social relations.
The character alone of this bond must necessarily undergo change. In ancient times, the father was absolute master of the child, enjoying the right of life or death over it: in modern times, the paternal authority has been limited by certain restrictions, so what could be more natural if, in a free and egalitarian society, what remains of that authority should be completely eclipsed and give way to relations of unalloyed affection?
We are not claiming, of course, that the child should be treated like an adult, that all of its tantrums command respect and that whenever its childish wishes conflict with the rules established by science and common sense, the child should not be taught to yield. On the contrary, we are saying that the child is in need of direction; but in its early years, that direction should not be vested exclusively in its parents, who are often incompetent and generally abuse the power vested in them. The object of the education received by the child being to equip it as quickly as possible for self-direction by comprehensive development of all its faculties, then obviously no narrowly authoritarian tendency is compatible with such a system of education. But because the relations of father and son will no longer be those of master and slave, but rather those of teacher and pupil, of older friend and younger one, is it conceivable that the mutual affection of parent and child should suffer by that? Is the opposite not the case when we will have an end of these enmities and frictions of which today's family has so many examples to offer, and which are almost always caused by the tyranny the father wields over his children?
So, let no one come along and say that the liberated, regenerated society is going to destroy the family. On the contrary, it will teach the father, mother, and child mutual love, mutual regard and respect for their mutual rights; and at the same time, above and beyond the family affections which encompass only a narrow circle and which sour if they remain exclusive, it will infuse hearts with a loftier, nobler love, love for the whole family of man.
Departing now from the narrow ground of the commune or local federation of producers' groups, let us take a look at social organization as it is complemented, on the one hand, by establishment of regional corporative federations embracing all workers' groups belonging to the same branch of production; and, on the other, by establishment of a Federation of communes.
(. . .) We have already indicated briefly what a corporative federation is. Within the bosom of the present society, there are organizations bringing all of the workers in a trade within the compass of the same association: the federation of typographical workers is one example. But these organizations are only a very flawed foretaste of what the corporative federation should be in the society to come. The latter will be made up of all producer groups belonging to the same branch of labor; they band together, not, now, to protect their wages against the rapaciousness of the bosses, but primarily in order to assure one another of use of the instruments of labor in the possession of each of their groups and which, by mutual agreement, are to become collective property of the corporative federation as a whole; furthermore, by federating one with another, the groups are empowered to exercise a constant watching brief on production, and, as a result, to add to or subtract from the intensity thereof, in reflection of the needs manifested by society as a whole.
Establishment of the corporative federation will be effected extremely simply. In the wake of the Revolution, the producer groups belonging to the same industry will be alive to the need to send delegates to one another, from one town to another, for fact-finding purposes and in order to reach accommodations. Out of such partial conferencing will emerge the summoning of a general congress of the corporation's delegates to some central venue. That congress will lay the groundwork of the federative contract, which will then be put to all of the groups of the corporation for approval. A standing bureau, elected by the corporative congress and answerable to it, will be designed to act as intermediary between the groups making up the federation, as well as between the federation per se and other corporative federations.
Once all branches of production, including those affecting agricultural production, are organized along such lines, a vast federative web, taking in every producer and thus also every consumer, will cover the country, and statistics regarding production and consumption, centralized by the bureau of the various corporative federations, will make it possible to determine in a rational way the number of hours in the normal working day, the cost price of products and their exchange value, as well as how many of these products have to be made in order to meet consumer demands.
People accustomed to the empty bombast of certain alleged democrats may perhaps ask whether the workers' groups should not be called upon to take a direct hand, through a vote by all members of the corporative federation, in the settlement of these various details: And when we respond negatively, they will protest at what they will term the authority of the bureau, empowered to decide matters of such gravity for themselves and to take decisions of the highest importance. Our response will be that the task with which the standing bureau of each federation will have been charged has nothing to do with the wielding of any authority: in fact, it is simply a matter of collecting and collating information supplied by the producer groups: and once this information has been gathered and made public, of deducing the necessary implications it holds for working hours, the cost price of products, etc. That is a simple arithmetical calculation, which cannot be done in two different ways or produce two different results: there is but one result possible from it; that result can be checked out by every person for himself, because everyone will have the data before him, and the standing bureau is simply charged with registering it and publishing it for all to see. Even today, the postal administration, say, performs a service rather analogous with the one to be entrusted to the corporative federations' bureau, and it would not occur to anyone to complain of abuse of authority just because the post office should decide, without reference to universal suffrage, how letters are to be classified and grouped into packets for delivery to their destination as speedily and economically as practicable.
Let us add that the producer groups making up a federation will take a hand in the bureau's doings in a manner a lot more effective and direct than mere voting: in fact, it is they who will supply the information, all the statistical data that the bureau merely collates, so that the bureau is only the passive go-between by means of which groups communicate with one another and publicly register the results of their own activities.
The vote is a suitable means of settling matters that cannot be resolved on a scientific basis, and which ought to be left to the whim of the balance of numbers, but in matters liable to precise scientific resolution, there is no need for a vote; truth is not balloted, it is simply registered and then overwhelms everybody by virtue of its obviousness.
But thus far we have shown only one of the facets of extra-communal organization: and alongside the corporative federations the Federation of communes should be established.
The Revolution cannot be confined to a single country; on pain of death, it is obliged to subsume into its movement, if not the whole world, then at least a considerable portion of the civilized countries. Indeed, today no country can be sufficient unto itself: international relations are a necessity of production and consumption, and they could not be severed. Should the neighboring States around a country in revolution manage to impose an impregnable blockade, the Revolution, being isolated, would be doomed to perish. Thus, as we are speculating on the hypothesis of the Revolution succeeding in a given country, we must suppose that most of the countries of Europe will have made their revolution at the same time.
It is not essential that the new social organization installed by the Revolution, in every land where the proletariat will have overthrown the rule of the bourgeoisie, should be the same in every particular. Given the differences of opinion which have thus far surfaced between the socialists of the Germanic countries (Germany, England) and those of the Latin and Slav countries (Italy, Spain, France, Russia), the likelihood is that the social organization adopted by the German revolutionaries, say, will differ on more than one count from the organization espoused by the Italian or French revolutionaries. But such differences have no bearing upon international relations; the basic principles being the same in both cases, relations of friendship and solidarity cannot but be established between the emancipated peoples of the various countries.
It goes without saying that the artificial frontiers created by existing governments will collapse before the Revolution. Communes will band together freely according to their economic interests, linguistic affinities and geographical situation. And in certain countries, like Italy or Spain, which are too huge to form only one agglomeration of communes, and which nature herself has split into several distinct regions, there will doubtless be, not one, but several Federations of communes set up. Which will not signify a breach in unity, a reversion to the old atomization into small, hostile, isolated political States; their interests will be all of a piece and they will enter into a pact of unity with one another, and this voluntary union, rooted in genuine usefulness, in a community of aims and needs, in ongoing exchange of good offices, will be tight and solid in a way quite different from the sham unity of political centralization established by violence and with no raison d'etre other than exploitation of the country for the benefit of one privileged class.
The compact of unity will not be established only between the Federations of communes within the same country: the old political frontiers having become redundant, all of the Federations of communes, by and by, will enter into this fraternal alliance, and, once the principles of the Revolution have carried all before them in the whole of Europe, the great dream of the fraternity of peoples, achievable only by Social Revolution, will have become a reality.
* Chapter headings added by D. Guerin
1. It should be noted, however, that even in these trades, the larger-scale industrial approach production may be applied to make savings in time and labor. What we say about them is therefore applicable only to the transitional period. (Note by James Guillaume).
2. The sub-headings which follow were added by James Guillaume.
3. The sub-headings below have been added by ourselves.