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Title: French and German Socialism in Modern Times

Author: Richard T. Ely

Release date: June 25, 2019 [eBook #59815]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by WebRover, Peter Vachuska, Chuck Greif and the
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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by
In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

All rights reserved.



The publication of this volume is due to the friendly counsel of the Hon. Andrew D. White, president of Cornell University; a gentleman tireless in his efforts to encourage young men, and alive to every opportunity to speak fitting words of hope and cheer. Like many of the younger scholars of our country, I am indebted to him more than I can say.

The present work is based on lectures delivered in Baltimore before the students of the Johns Hopkins University, and in Ithaca before the students of Cornell University. Although these lectures have been thoroughly revised and, in fact, rewritten, traces of this origin will be found in a certain freedom of style and matter, which will, I trust, render the book neither less interesting nor less instructive.

My aim is to give a perfectly fair, impartial presentation of modern communism and socialism in their two strongholds, France and Germany. I believe that, in so doing, I am rendering a service to the friends of law and order.

Richard T. Ely.

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, August 3, 1883.




Chapter Page
I. The French Revolution and the Laboring Classes 1
II. Babœuf 29
III. Cabet 39
IV. Saint-Simon 53
V. Fourier 81
VI. Louis Blanc 108
VII. Proudhon 124
VIII. Socialism in France since Proudhon 143
IX. Rodbertus 156
X. Karl Marx 170
XI. The International Workingmen’s Association 183
XII. Ferdinand Lassalle 189
XIII. The Ideal of Social Democracy 204
XIV. Social Democracy since the Death of Lassalle 211
XV. Socialism of the Chair 235
XVI. Christian Socialism 245




Communism and Socialism represent different and yet allied movements of theory and practice. They aim to improve the common lot of humanity, in particular that of the lower classes, in a radical manner and by the application of thoroughgoing measures. Now, when we utter the word improvement we indicate a desire to change, and consequently dissatisfaction with the state which is to be changed. This brings us at once to the common standing-ground of politico-economic reformers. They are one and all dissatisfied with the present condition of society. We have, therefore, in the first place, to examine the accusations which are brought against the social régime of our time.

Complaints against the methods of producing and distributing wealth are not new; complaints of such a character as we hear at present, however, have originated since the middle of the eighteenth century. Before the French Revolution, dissatisfaction with the then existing order of things had been expressed[2] often enough, and had even led to rebellion; but the economic life of Christendom was then different from what it is now, and consequently the discontent and the proposed measures of reform were not of the same nature. While the study of the condition of the laboring classes in ancient times and the Middle Ages is highly profitable, it is not necessary to go farther back than the latter part of the eighteenth century to obtain a tolerably accurate notion of existing socialism and communism.

A brief examination of the peculiarities of modern socialistic schemes will make this plain. One of these is to be found in the developed self-consciousness and awakened desires of the poor, taking their origin in democratic institutions and increased enlightenment. Another is the greater prominence given to capital in the present system of production. Disputes concerning capital-profit and wages now lead to communistic and socialistic schemes. “Such war-cries,” to use the words of Schäffle’s “Socialism as Presented by Kaufmann,” “as we find Lassalle raising against capital, would not have been even understood among the ancients and the oppressed classes of the Middle Ages. The promises held out by agitators to the masses now are: equal rights for all, no monopolies, liberty and equality for the people. Liberalism itself has paved the way to communism. The right of coalition among laborers for their own interests, liberty of the press, the extension of the suffrage, together with the facility of rapid and cheap inter-communication by post and telegraph, afford laborers the means for united action where their interests are at stake. The working-man of our day has a consciousness of his own power quite unparalleled by any of his compeers in former ages.”


A third peculiarity of modern forms of communism and socialism is their cosmopolitan and practical character. All the plans of reformers, described in this work, were meant to be executed and to inaugurate a new era in the development of humanity. Attempts have been made, or are being made, to realize every one of them. Older socialistic schemes are of two kinds. Those of the first class were applied only to sects or small associations. Such were the communities of Buddhist and Christian monks and the villages of the Essenes in Judea. Those of the second class were dreamy and speculative. No attempt was made by their authors or any group of immediate disciples to regenerate the world by substituting them for existing social and economic organizations. Of this character were the “Republic” of Plato and the “Utopia” of Sir Thomas More. Even the speculations of French writers immediately preceding the Revolution, like Mably, Morelly, Brissot de Warville, and Jean Jacques Rousseau, were of this kind. Jean Brissot, for example, tickled the palates of those craving literary and philosophical sensation by declaring private property theft, and then defended private property in the National Convention of 1792;[1] while Rousseau, only a few months after lamenting that the first man who laid claim to property had not been instantly denounced as the arch foe of the human race, speaks respectfully in his “Political Economy” of property as the basis of the social compact, whose first condition was that every one should be protected in its enjoyment.[2][4] Morley says of him that he “never thought of the subversion of society or its reorganization on a communistic basis,” and that would hold generally of French socialistic thinkers before 1789. Modern socialists and communists, on the other hand, not only think of a reorganization of society, but work with might and main to accomplish it. This at once draws a broad line between them. This difference finds expression in new designations. A man without property is no longer what he was previous to the French Revolution—viz., a poor man; he is a proletarian, while the class to which he belongs are not called collectively the poor, but the proletariat.

Previous to the French Revolution an attempt had been made to embrace all the inhabitants of a state in some shape in a fixed and definite social organism. There were the ruling classes, consisting of the nobility and the clergy, and the commons. The latter were, to be sure, hewers of wood and carriers of water for the two higher estates, but they were bound to them in a certain manner. The feudal lord usually felt some sort of concern for the welfare of his vassals, looked after their interests, when these interests were attacked by others, and in a general way afforded them protection to be found only in his wealth and power. The greatest of the feudal lords, the sovereign, was the mighty father of all, and his government was often a shield to the weak and helpless. The third estate, the bourgeoisie—those who pursued trades and commerce—were connected together, and with the rest of society, by guilds and corporations. The arrangements of these institutions brought into close personal contact master and laborers. Manufactures were conducted in small shops, where the employer worked[5] side by side with two or three journeymen and apprentices, the latter living in the master’s house. According to the rules of the guilds the apprentice became a journeyman in a few years, and the journeyman rose in time to the rank of master. Thus there were common experiences and common feelings to unite employers and employed. They were not distinct and separate classes, with interests sharply antagonistic to one another.

It is so unusual to hear one speak a good word for the institutions of the Middle Ages, that I fear the reader will be tempted to exclaim, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” But that it may not be necessary to take my ipse dixit for believing that there was a favorable side to feudalism, I will quote the testimony of Thorold Rogers, Professor of Political Economy in the University of Oxford, and one of the most distinguished economists of our time. “It is in vain to rejoice over the aggregate of our prosperity,” says Professor Rogers, in his “History of Agriculture and Prices,”[3] “and to forget that great part of the nation has no share in its benefits. It may be that the wisdom of our forefathers was accidental; it is certain that society was divided by less sharp lines, and was held together by common ties in a far closer manner, in the times which it has been my fortune to study [the Middle Ages], than it is now. The feudal system of the Middle Ages was one of mutual interests; its theory of property involved far more exacting duties than modern rights ever acknowledge, or remember, or perhaps know.”

The war of La Vendée, in the French Revolution,[6] gives striking corroboration of this view of feudalism. In the western part of France, particularly in Anjou, feudal institutions still retained their better characteristics, while in other provinces large landed proprietors intrusted their estates to agents, that they might lead idle and dissipated lives in Paris. The landlords of La Vendée and the surrounding country lived on their manors, and took a paternal interest in the well-being of their peasants and dependents. The relations of Church and people were those of protection and affection. The result was the obstinate adherence of this part of France to the old order of things, and the stubborn resistance of the peasants of Anjou and Poitou to the revolution.[4]

Yes, it is true; much more can be said in favor of the social organization of the Middle Ages than is commonly supposed. Nor were those times so backward as many think. Cities like Nuremberg, in Germany, show remains of the civilization of the Middle Ages which convince one that a considerable grandeur had then been attained, and that the people of those times were by no means in every respect inferior to us. But the framework of this past civilization, not admitting of expansion, broke to pieces. It was not large enough for the modern growth of population and wealth. Its institutions were abused by those in power, and in a time of general corruption and oppression they fell with a terrible crash. The French Revolution swept them away forever. While this revolution formed one of the grandest epochs in history, it[7] left society in a singularly disorganized state. No one appeared to be connected with his fellow-man. Each one stood alone by himself. The individualistic and atomistic condition of modern society had begun. In the reaction which followed upon restraint this was thought to be an unmixed good. Each one was left free to pursue his own interests in his own way. Commerce and industries took a wonderful start, and by the aid of inventions and discoveries expanded in such a rapid and all-embracing manner as to astound the world. It is probable that as we, after more than two thousand years, look back upon the time of Pericles with wonder and astonishment as an epoch great in art and literature, posterity two thousand years hence will regard our era as forming an admirable and unparalleled epoch in the history of industrial invention. During this time of growth and increasing wealth it was at first generally thought that everything was moving along finely. The third estate had been emancipated. Its members had no longer to bear alone the burdens of government. It betook itself to trade and manufactures, grew wealthy, and became the bourgeoisie of modern political economy. But speedily a fourth estate was discovered, whose members consisted of dependents—workers for daily wages. What had been done for them? They had also nominal freedom, but did they enjoy actual freedom? They were in possession of political equality, but had they advanced one single step in the direction of social and economic equality? There were not wanting those who went even further than to answer both of these questions in the negative. They pointed to the fact that the weak and needy had, as never before, lost all connection with the strong and powerful.[8] Hundreds of laborers crowded in a single shop lost all personal feeling with their one employer. Formerly the distance between journeyman and master was slight, and the passage from the one condition to the other could invariably be effected by diligence and ability. This change of condition now became absolutely impossible for the greater number. The majority of those engaged in manufactures must, in the nature of things, remain common laborers. A few, unusually gifted or favored, might hope to rise, but even for them it became ever more difficult to ascend the social ladder. On the one hand, the division of labor was carried so far that the labor performed by each was exceedingly simple. Instead of taxing the ingenuity, and thereby conducing to mental development, the endless repetition and sameness of the labor tended to make one stupid. On the other hand, inventions rendered it necessary not only to employ an ever-increasing number of machines, but to make use of those which were constantly becoming more expensive.[5] The gulf between employer and employed widened unceasingly. The employer, losing personal feeling with his laborers, too often forgot that they were men with natures like his own. Frequently, it must be acknowledged, he looked upon them as mere beasts of burden, and regarded their labor in the same light as any other commodity which was sold in the market-place. They were hired for the cheapest price, worked to the utmost limit of endurance, and, when used-up, thrown aside like any other old and worthless machine. The capitalist grew richer, and among the higher classes[9] of society luxury and extravagance increased. The laborer, noticing all this, asked himself if his lot had in any respect improved. He was inclined to deny that it had. His daily bread was not earned with less toil, nor was he surer of an opportunity to work. His existence was as uncertain and as full of anxiety as ever. Being brought together in large shops with those in like condition, he talked over his wrongs and sufferings with them. A class-feeling was developed. The heartlessness and assumed superiority of those who had become suddenly, and often by mere chance, wealthy were looked upon with frowns and gloomy countenances foreboding no good. The harsh separation in material goods between these parvenus and the lower classes was accompanied by no mitigating circumstances. In the case of the old and wealthy families of a more ancient era the superiority in wealth appeared more just, on account of lapse of time and a certain superiority in intellect and manners. They were, to a considerable extent, superior beings in other respects than mere externals. The new rich looked down upon and despised the orders from which they had so recently escaped, and were, in turn, hated by those beneath them. A division of society into caste-like classes was taking place. The rich were becoming richer; it was thought the poor were becoming poorer. Free competition imposed no restraints upon the powerful. They were at liberty to exploit the poor to their heart’s content. The strength on the one side was so great, and the capability of resistance on the other so insignificant, that there could exist no real freedom of contract. As Sismondi said, the rich man labored to increase his capital, the poor man to satisfy the cravings of his stomach. The one can[10] wait, the demands of the other are imperative. To the laborers their state appeared like “a hell without escape and without end” (Mehring). They were prepared to listen to those who should preach them a gospel of hope, even if it involved violent change. Revolution might help them; it could not render their lot more hopeless. They were ready to examine more critically the evils of society, when bidden to do so by their leaders. Verily, they did not need to search long to discover many sore spots on the social body. The luxurious immorality of the parvenus in European capitals made no attempt to conceal itself. When the laborers were told that their wives and daughters were considered rightful booty by the wealthy, they remembered women of their class who had fallen a prey to the fascination of wealth and the elegance of the higher classes, and were angry. The peace of many of them had been ruthlessly destroyed by some rich voluptuary. Perhaps a poor father, thinking of a fair daughter, whose employer in shop or factory had taken advantage of his position and her need to seduce her, gnashed his teeth in rage, and was ready to swear eternal vengeance against the bourgeoisie.[6]


But these things were noticed by the more thoughtful among the higher classes. They were bitterly disappointed. The doctrines of political and economic liberalism had been expected to usher in the millennium, and instead of that they beheld the same wretched, unhappy, sinful world, which they thought they had left. If there had been progress in the general condition of humanity, it was so slight that it was a matter of dispute. Many, finding things in such a sad condition, one so different from what they had expected, affirmed boldly that we had been going from bad to worse.

In speaking of Lamennais, the distinguished French Christian socialist, the Rev. Mr. Kaufmann, an English clergyman, describes the grief that eminent man experienced, as he observed the economic development of society after the great French Revolution:[7][12] “It was Lamennais’ fate to see three revolutionary waves pass over his country, and to watch with sorrow and bitterness of heart the disappointments to which they gave rise. He had seen the sore distress of the people whose condition the political changes of the first revolution left to all intents and purposes unimproved. It had, in fact, given rise to new social grievances. In destroying patriarchal relationships and feudal bonds of social union, it had handed over the masses to the tender mercies of free contract and competition. The introduction of machinery, with the rise of modern industry, had a pauperizing effect, and intensified popular discontent. Hence the various socialistic and communistic schemes for the liberation of the working-classes from the ‘tyranny of capital,’ and the attempts to promote the free association of labor by means of voluntary co-operation following in the wake of revolution.

“Every section of society was represented in this revolt against the excessive individualism of the laissez-faire system as the result of the new social contract. Among the saviours of society who rose rapidly one after another—Saint-Simon, on the part of aristocratic crétins impoverished by the revolution; Fourier, as the spokesman of the aggrieved lower middle-class, in danger of being crushed by the superior force of the plutocracy; Babœuf, representing the communistic materialism of the ‘common people’—each in their own way had their theories of social reconstruction; ... whilst a small band of generously minded churchmen, with Lamennais at their head, made it their object to save society by means of spiritual regeneration.”

A reaction against liberalism set in. This was of two kinds. A romantic party, represented by Adam[13] Müller, and a conservative party, represented by the Kreuzzeitung, advocated a return to the social organization of the Middle Ages. They dreamed of a golden age in the past, in which humble simplicity and trustful dependence on the part of the laborer were met by generous benevolence and protecting care on the part of the master. They thought it possible to restore a time in which the Shepherd of Salisbury Plain, happy and contented because a kind Providence had granted him salt for his potatoes, filled an ideal position.

The communistic and socialistic parties, on the other hand, urged the necessity of an advance to a totally new form of society. Very unlike in many respects, in others these parties resemble and sympathize with each other. The accusations which they bring against our present condition of society are so similar that one often does not know whether one is reading the production of a social democrat or of an ultra-conservative.

I will quote the indictment of the great socialist, Karl Marx, against liberalism, which, it will be seen, might just as well have been written by a conservative. In fact, if I had been shown the passage and told that it appeared in the Kreuzzeitung, I should not have been in the least surprised. “Although the liberals,” says Marx, “have not carried out their principles in any land as yet completely, still, the attempts which have been made are sufficient to prove the uselessness of their efforts. They endeavored to free labor, but only succeeded in subjecting it more completely under the yoke of capitalism; they aimed at setting at liberty all labor powers, and only riveted the chains of misery which held them bound; they[14] wanted to release the bondman from the clod, and deprived him of the soil on which he stood by buying up the land; they yearned for a happy condition of society, and only created superfluity on one hand and dire want on the other; they desired to secure for merit its own honorable reward, and only made it the slave of wealth; they wanted to abolish all monopolies, and placed in their stead the monster monopoly, capital; they wanted to do away with all wars between nation and nation, and kindled the flames of civil war; they wanted to get rid of the state, and yet have multiplied its burdens; they wanted to make education the common property of all, and made it the privilege of the rich; they aimed at the greatest moral improvement of society, and only left it in a state of rotten immorality; they wanted, to say all in a word, unbounded liberty, and have produced the meanest servitude; they wanted the reverse of all that which they actually obtained, and have thus given a proof that liberalism in all its ramifications is nothing but a perfect Utopia.”[8]

Before considering separately the different varieties of communism and socialism it is necessary to say a few words about the proper method of treating the subject. The movements indicated by the words communism and socialism are designed to aid especially the lower classes. If mankind generally were as happily situated as are what we call the middle and higher classes, these systems would never have been heard of. The members of the upper classes have nothing[15] to hope from communism or socialism, but have much which they might possibly lose—I say possibly, because I wish to express it in the most favorable manner. If wealthy and well-to-do writers and politicians oppose social reform they are consequently often suspected of advocating their own selfish interests exclusively. They are not likely, therefore, to have much success in converting socialists and communists, unless they manifest in word and deed their sincere concern for the welfare of their poorer brethren. I think, therefore, that we ought to strive first of all to understand thoroughly the various systems of social reformers, and then to describe them in such manner that their supporters themselves could not find fault with our representation. A kindly, well-disposed criticism might follow, with hope of doing some good. To understand people, however, we must have some sort of sympathy (σύν-παθος—Mitleiden) with them. We shall not be likely to comprehend a social system, if we approach it with coldness or, still worse, with hatred. The severe Protestant is not likely to appreciate a Madonna of Raphael, unless he is able for a time to forget his Protestantism and enter into the feelings of the devout Roman Catholic. As Carlyle so finely says, “the heart lying dead, the eye cannot see.” So, to obtain an adequate idea of socialism and of the justice of its claims, we must imagine ourselves for the time being laborers, with all their trials and sufferings. We must endeavor to think ourselves into (hineindenken) their condition. Nor let us suppose that there is anything to be feared from a disclosure of the full truth. It is only from the opposite course that danger is to be apprehended. As a distinguished American political economist has well said:[16] “The time has passed for dealing with the masses as children who are to be treated to truth in quantities and on occasions suited to their welfare or the interests of society. The political economist only abandons his ground of vantage and forfeits the confidence of the community when he accepts any responsibility for the use that may be made of the truth he discovers and discloses.”[9]

Bearing this thought in mind, even a hasty examination of the vast majority of books written on socialism and communism shows how utterly worthless they are. Their authors start out with such intense hatred of all socialistic systems, that it is simply impossible for them to understand these systems. But the worst of it is, that they couple their misunderstanding with such hard words and severe epithets as to excite bad blood and drive the various classes of society farther apart than ever. The wealthier classes lose their ardor for reform, and the poorer people become enraged. As I write, I take up the first book on Communism which lies at my hand, and, opening it, find communists spoken of as “a hideous fraternity of conspirators.” I turn over a few pages and read this: “To-day there is not in our language, nor in any language, a more hateful word than communism.” Of a sentence uttered by a socialist, this writer says “more pestilent words were never spoken.” On the next page communism is spoken of as “infecting” the Russian universities. “Now,” continues our author, “it poisons the blood and maddens the brains of artisans and peasants.” Such words do more than excite[17] the anger of socialists. They arouse the indignation of every lover of fair play, and convince no one. I take up another work and find that a very different effect is produced on me as I read it. A kindly tone pervades it, which, if it does not convince error, tends at least to obtain the good-will of those whom it combats. This latter work to which I refer consists of “Lectures on Social Questions,” and was written by the Rev. Dr. J. H. Rylance, of St. Mark’s Church, New York, a large-hearted, fair-minded man.

Once for all, we must rid ourselves of the notion that we can persuade people by misrepresenting them and calling them hard names. Such conduct only reacts against ourselves. The folly of such a course has been demonstrated often enough by the history of socialism. A striking instance is given by Mehring in his “History of Social Democracy in Germany” (pp. 96-98).[10] It appears that a large number of working-men’s unions had formed an alliance (Verband deutscher Arbeitervereine), of which the Party of Progress (Fortschrittspartei) had assumed the leadership. This is a political party which was violently opposed to Lassalle, and had considerable sympathy with the doctrines of the Manchester school. When Lassalle began his agitation, the leaders of this party misrepresented his doctrines in shameful manner. It hardly seems as if their misrepresentation could have been otherwise than wilful. They appeared to believe that the end justified the means in fighting so odious an opponent, and that they were not required to treat him fairly and honestly. Well, their programme worked brilliantly for a time. At the meetings of these working-men’s[18] unions members of the Party of Progress used to explain the doctrines of Lassalle in such manner as to place them in a false light, and then let the laborers reject his plans by unanimous votes. Union after union voted against him, and in the summer of 1863 these unions, at their annual meeting, professed the principles of the Progressists, and selected a newspaper edited by a member of that party as their organ. In 1864, at the general meeting of the unions, some followers of Lassalle contradicted the misstatements of the teachings of their master. This produced an effect, and Friedrich A. Lange, who had been elected a member of one of the committees of the alliance of the unions, warned the Progressists against the course they were pursuing, and advocated the fairer, more honorable, and more manly method of warfare. He told them that a reaction would surely set in against themselves, when the laborers heard an adequate statement of Lassalle’s plans, especially if they were presented in his own fiery, eloquent words. But Lange’s earnest warnings were unheeded. The laborers learned how to reply to a fictitious, non-existent Lassalle, but not to the real, living one. Every annual meeting of the working-men’s unions witnessed, accordingly, an approach to social democracy until 1869, when it was accepted without reserve, and the alliance of working-men’s unions was merged into the Social Democratic Working-men’s Party (Social-demokratische Arbeiterpartei). As Mehring forcibly observes: “It is, indeed, a singular misfortune, and manifests a rare lack of tact, to lead to the enemy as welcome auxiliaries not merely single recruits, but entire army corps” (p. 98). Thousands of laborers might have been saved from social democracy if its opponents, in fighting it,[19] had adhered to the maxim, “Honesty is the best policy.” In fact, Mehring attributes the success and popularity of Lassalle more to his enemies than to his own brilliant talents. Falsehoods respecting his teachings were uttered by his opponents without compunction of conscience, and these, when exposed, only gave the laborers new confidence in Lasalle, and less faith than ever in his enemies. Newspapers abused him personally in such manner as to assist him in playing the rôle of a martyr and hero. They spoke of his unripe spirit and of his mental dependence upon a tailor by the name of Weitling, at a time when the most renowned scholars of Germany could not find words with which to express their almost unbounded admiration for his learning and talent.

As I wish to represent communism and socialism fairly, I will at once correct a few popular errors in regard to them.

First, then, it is supposed that advocates of these systems are poor, worthless fellows, who adopt the arts of a demagogue for the promotion in some way of their own interests, perhaps in order to gain a livelihood by agitating laborers and preying upon them. It is thought that they are moved by envy of the wealthier classes, and, themselves unwilling to work, long for the products of diligence and ability. This view is represented by the following well-known lines:

“What is a communist? One who hath yearnings
For equal division of unequal earnings;
Idler or bungler, or both, he is willing
To fork out his penny and pocket your shilling.”

This is certainly a false and unjust view. The leading communists and socialists from the time of Plato up to the present have been, for the most part, men of[20] character, wealth, talent, and high social standing. Of Plato it is unnecessary to speak, since people are not in the habit of calling him a shallow demagogue. Sir Thomas More, the author of the communistic romance “Utopia,” was lovable, learned, and socially honored. Robert Owen, the English communist, was a wealthy manufacturer and a distinguished philanthropist. Of Rodbertus, Marx, and Lassalle I shall speak presently. If we examine the history of even those who are less known among the German social democrats of to-day, we shall discover that a great number have made sacrifices for their faith. Hunted about and persecuted as they are, it is assuredly no light matter to proclaim one’s self a social democrat. While, of course, among communists and socialists, selfishness, meanness, and enough that is contemptible may be found, I do not believe any movement of modern society is able to exhibit a greater amount of unselfish devotion than that they represent.

A second charge against the communists consists in making them responsible for the doings of the Parisian mob in 1871. The error of this has been explained often enough. It is due largely to an accidental resemblance between the words commune and communism. Many who use the word commune glibly have a very imperfect understanding of its significance, and little imagine that it is as harmless and innocent a word as township, and means pretty much the same thing. The commune, with an emphasis on the article, means simply Paris, or, in a secondary sense, the administrative officers collectively governing Paris. France is divided into departments and communes, the same as our states are divided into counties and townships, and Paris by itself[21] forms one of these communes. The insurrection in Paris, of March 18, 1871, was one in favor of extreme local self-government. The idea was to make each commune at least as independent as one of the states of the United States, and to unite all the communes into a confederation with limited powers.[11] The movement in favor of the autonomy of Paris is an old one, and has been supported by many able and respectable Frenchmen. One in favor of the movement is, however, properly called a communalist, and not a communist, and the movement itself is communalism—not communism. A careful study of the decrees of the commune, of the reports and of the various histories which have described its rebellion in 1871, shows that the movement was political, primarily, and only to a very limited extent economic. Even the economic decrees, like the stay-laws, postponing the time for payment of debts due, might be regarded as war measures. However, out of the seventy and more members of the communal government nine or ten were social democrats and members of the International, and it is probable that concessions may have been made to win them and their adherents. They were effectual in this, since the Internationalists were disposed to favor the movement from the start, and that for two reasons. First, believing that their ends can be attained only by revolution, they are inclined to look favorably upon any revolution whatever, as tending to cultivate a revolutionary spirit in the people. Second, they favor the[22] autonomy of large cities, holding that the masses in the cities might more readily be induced to adopt communistic and socialistic reforms, if not held in check by the more conservative rural population.[12]

But let us ask ourselves this question: If all the members of the communal government had been communists in the ordinary sense of the word, would communism have been necessarily condemned? I think that another question will help us to answer this. All the members of that government were republicans: was republicanism then necessarily condemned? No one but a rabid tory would think of giving an affirmative answer to this second question. It is at once seen that the republican form of government is not responsible for the conduct of every scoundrel who professes republican principles.

It is urged further that communism and socialism would destroy religion and the family institution. The reason of this complaint is evident enough. A number of social reformers have been at the same time atheists and advocates of free love. The questions of atheism and free love are, however, totally different from that of even communism, the most radical of all the reforms proposed. There is no necessary connection whatever between them. If it could once be[23] shown that communism were practicable, it would be easy to give many reasons for supposing that in such a society the love between man and wife and parents and children would be freer from selfish and sordid motives than at present.[13] The clergy are partly to blame for the irreligious attitude of many modern socialists. They have too often made themselves the advocates of conservatism simply as conservatism, regardless of all abuses which it embraced. In countries where Church and State are connected, the clergy have been too often a sort of police, assisting the government to maintain existing institutions, and to oppose change, good or bad. They have favored the higher classes, upon whom their support has depended, and neglected the interests of the poor and down-trodden. I do not write this as an enemy of the Church, but as her friend. Nor do I express myself differently from the best of our clergymen at present. Rev. Dr. Rylance,[24] indeed, has, in his “Lectures on Social Questions,” clothed this same thought in stronger language. In one place he says, “The proper relations of Christianity to the legitimate efforts of socialism to improve the condition of the suffering classes will never be understood, or the minds of those now alienated from the religion of Christ will never be disabused of their antipathy, till the essential claims of that religion be set in fairer and fuller light; all the perversions it has suffered being frankly acknowledged, and the wrongs done in its name, as far as possible, atoned for. Your Church histories are full of such perversions, while your most expert apologists cannot disguise the wrongs ... Ecclesiasticism[14] has often been a fraud and a tyranny in history. As the Church grew in power and wealth, it allied itself to power and wealth in the hands of civil rulers and their creatures, and the fruits of the alliance have often been wicked and infamous.”

Dr. Rylance also declares that Christianity is a sort of socialism, and quotes in proof these texts of Scripture, among others: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another.” “If ye fulfil the royal law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well; but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin.” “This commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God, love his brother also.”[15]


“One way of aspersing the doctrines of communism,” says another writer,[16] “is to call them anti-Christian. It is forgotten that the Christian idea of equality underlies all the reasonings of communism, and communism has succeeded only in so far as it was Christian in principle, having for its fundamental maxim brotherly love. In this, communism is much more Christian than the hankering after privileges of the old aristocracy, or the unbounded avarice of the plutocracy.”

There are other false accusations brought against communism and socialism, which it is not necessary to examine now. A well-disposed person will scarcely experience difficulty in separating them from scientific argument.

It behooves us to disabuse our minds of all prejudice and ill-will. It is only thus that we shall be able to meet and overcome the social dangers which threaten even our own country in a not very distant future. We have never had a permanent laboring class, but[26] with the increase of population one is rapidly developing. If it is now becoming extremely difficult for the laborer to rise, what will the condition of things be when we number two hundred millions? And that time is not so far off. At our present rate of increase, it will come when some of us are still living. It is a laboring class without hope of improvement for themselves or their children which will first test our institutions. But he must be singularly blind or unacquainted with the views of the various social classes who is unable to detect even now, in certain quarters, the formation of habits and modes of thought characteristic of the poorer classes in Europe. The fact of this growth was twice brought home to me forcibly two winters ago. As I was walking by the Union League Club-house, in New York city, at the time of its house-warming, while the people were driving up in their fine carriages, one poor fellow stood on the opposite side of the street watching the ladies enter in their luxurious and extravagant toilets. He was a good-looking, intelligent-appearing man, but wore no overcoat. It was a cold evening, and he seemed to me to be shivering. He was evidently thinking of the difference between his lot and that of the fashionable people he was observing; and I heard him mutter bitterly to himself, “A revolution will yet come and level that fine building to the ground.” A friend of mine, about the same time, passed a couple of laborers as he was walking by Mr. Vanderbilt’s new houses on Fifth Avenue. Some kind of bronze work, I believe, was being carried in, and he heard one of them remark, savagely, “The time will come when that will be melted by fire.”

More significant and more ominous still is the reception[27] accorded in this country to a man like John Most, who has been expelled from the social-democratic party in Germany on account of his extreme views, particularly respecting assassination as a means of progress. He has been travelling about the United States, has been warmly received, and listened to with favor by large bodies of workmen while uttering counsels of war and bloodshed. On the 11th of February, 1883, he lectured in Baltimore. It was a cold, rainy, cheerless day, and the sidewalks were so covered with melting snow as to make it extremely unpleasant to venture out of doors. But Most had a full hall of eager listeners. He told the laborers that he had little hope of their overthrowing their oppressors by the use of the ballot. He believed their emancipation would be brought about by violence, as all great reforms in the past had been. He consequently advised them to buy muskets. He said a musket was a good thing to have. If it was not needed now, it could be placed in the corner, and it occupied but little space. The presiding officer, in closing the meeting, emphasized this part of Most’s address particularly. He told the laborers that a piece of paper would never make them free, that a musket was worth a hundred votes, and closed with the lines—

“Nur Pulver und Blei,
Die machen uns frei”—

“lead and powder alone can make us free.” There can be no doubt that a considerable portion of his hearers sympathized with his views. They listened approvingly, and applauded his fiercest remarks most loudly.

Nor is it without significance that in New York[28] alone at least three social democratic newspapers are published. Two of the three use the German language; one of these is a weekly only; the other appears in a daily, a weekly, and a special Sunday edition. The third paper is an English weekly, but it announces the appearance of a daily edition in the near future. The motto of one of these papers—Most’s Freiheit—is “Gegen die Tyrannen sind alle Mittel gesetzlich”—“All measures are legal against tyrants”—i.e., against our employers, against capitalists, against all classes superior to the laboring class.

It is not, however, necessary to take a pessimistic view of our prospects, for it rests with us to shape the future. If we, as a people, become divided into two great hostile camps—those who possess economic goods and those who do not—the one class devoted to luxury and self-indulgence, the other given up to envy and bitterness—then, indeed, dire evils are in store for us; but we have reason to hope better things. The attitude of clergymen like Dr. Howard Crosby[17] and Dr. Rylance, the generosity of our philanthropists, unparalleled in past history, and the noble efforts of noble women to relieve every kind of suffering and distress, lead us to trust that, as new evils arise, strength and wisdom will be vouchsafed us to conquer them, and that among us the idea of the brotherhood of man will ever become more and more a living reality.



Socialism, strictly speaking, denotes simply the social system. It is the opposite of individualism. A socialist[18] is one who looks to society organized in the state for aid in bringing about a more perfect distribution of economic goods and an elevation of humanity. The individualist regards each man not as his brother’s keeper but as his own, and desires every man to work out his own salvation, material and spiritual. His advice to government is expressed in the well-known formula, laissez-faire, laissez-passer, that is, let things take care of themselves, do not interfere in the business affairs of the citizens. While the socialist ascribes to the state numerous functions, the individualist admonishes government to do as little as possible. To the one the state is a necessary good; to the other, a necessary evil.

But socialism is also used in a popular sense which renders it nearly equivalent to communism, although the two ought to be distinguished. The central idea of communism is economic equality. It is desired by communists that all ranks and differences in society[30] should disappear, and one man be as good as another, to use the popular phrase. The distinctive idea of socialism is distributive justice. It goes back of the processes of modern life to the fact that he who does not work, lives on the labor of others. It aims to distribute economic goods according to the services rendered by the recipients. We see thus that the word socialist is most inclusive. Every communist is a socialist, and something more. Not every socialist is a communist. We might call a communist an extreme socialist, and thus include under socialists both socialists and communists, though it is in general best to make the distinction. We could not include socialists under communists.

The socialistic and communistic schemes of modern times may be classified as follows:

A. Communism.

B. Socialism.

The most general division is that into communism and socialism. As subdivisions, social democracy and the International figure under both of the leading divisions, as these parties include socialists and communists. Under French communism are included[31] adherents of the French Collectivists, Anarchists, and Blanquists.

Babœuf and Cabet are perhaps the two leading French representatives of pure communism, Babœuf representing that of the French Revolution.[19]

François Noël Babœuf was born in St. Quentin, in the Department of Aisne, in 1764.[20] He appears to have come of a good family, for his father was a major in the Austrian army. The elder Babœuf devoted much attention to his son’s education, and, in particular, took especial pains to give him a good mathematical training; but he died when the young man was only sixteen years of age, and this obliged Babœuf to leave his studies and seek employment. After having filled various subordinate positions, he became a land-surveyor, and was finally elected an administrator of the Department of the Somme; but did not enjoy this post long, for he was soon arrested on a charge of forgery, condemned, and sentenced to twenty years’ imprisonment. He escaped to Paris and joined the revolutionary movement. Like Mably and numerous speculative thinkers at that time, he was filled with admiration for the socialistic institutions of the Greeks and Romans. He even called himself Gracchus Babœuf, after the Roman tribune, and founded a paper which he named Tribune of the People, and which was the first socialistic[32] newspaper ever published. He signed his articles Caius Gracchus, and in them he attacked the institutions of civilized society and the party which accomplished the Revolution of Thermidor, executed Robespierre and St. Just, and finally terminated the Reign of Terror. His violent abuse of those in authority and his revolutionary projects led to his imprisonment for a few months in 1795. He improved the opportunity to establish a connection with Darthé, Buonarroti and other Jacobins and Terrorists, of whom there were nearly two thousand in the same prison. Upon their release, they formed a conspiracy, called, after its leader, “the conspiracy of Babœuf.” Its object was to overthrow the Directory and introduce the communistic millennium, which they had begun to evolve in the prison. The members of the band called themselves the Equals. They formed a complex and skilfully contrived organization, whose centre was the secret committee of insurrection. This consisted of the following seven members; Babœuf, Buonarroti, Sylvain Maréchal, Felix Lepelletier, Antonelle, Darthé, and Debon. Most of them were journalists. Maréchal was author of a Dictionary of Atheists (“Dictionnaire des Athées”). Paris was divided into districts, in each of which workers and reporters were engaged in propaganda. They did not, however, even know the names of the seven chiefs of the committee of insurrection, a general agent, Didier, acting as intermediary between the committee and other agents.

The activity of the leaders was remarkable, and met with a considerable success in winning adherents. In April, 1796, seventeen thousand men were prepared to join them in an insurrection against the Directory and[33] for the establishment of a communistic republic. A Manifesto of the Equals, prepared by Maréchal, was published and scattered broadcast among the people. It contained a development of their programme, and an invitation to join in the proposed movement. Tracts were distributed in large numbers, and incendiary broadsides were from time to time affixed to the walls. One of the leaders, however, proved false, turned informer, and procured the arrest of the chief conspirators on the 10th of May, 1796. After a considerable delay and a long trial, two of them, Babœuf and Darthé, were condemned to death in the following year, while Buonarroti and six others were sentenced to deportation. Sixty-five were tried, but fifty-six were discharged on account of lack of evidence. Babœuf and Darthé were guillotined on the 24th of May, 1797, Babœuf’s last words being, “I wrap myself into a virtuous slumber.”[21]

Buonarroti did not suffer deportation, but was instead confined in prison for some time and then allowed to escape to Switzerland, whence he was obliged to flee to Belgium after the Congress of Vienna, because Geneva was unable to tolerate him during the reactionary period which followed. He supported himself by teaching music and other branches of learning, and wrote a remarkable account of the conspiracy in which he had been engaged. It was published in Brussels in 1828, and after the Revolution of July it[34] became a power in France. It revived the memory of Babœuf and his schemes, and rallied a number of followers about the old flag. Babouvism, as Babœuf’s system was called, was thus enabled to play a rôle in French history from 1830 to 1839, when a premature rising of the laborers was easily suppressed.[22] Even to-day, Buonarroti’s work has not ceased to influence the thought of French laborers.

Babœuf’s theoretical development of communism, based largely on Morelly’s “Code de la Nature,” is comparatively simple. Its leading idea is expressed in these words: “The aim of society is the happiness of all, and happiness consists in equality.” The fact is emphasized again and again that this equality must be perfect and absolute. It is officially proclaimed that the harmony of the system would be broken if there was one single man in the world richer or more powerful than his fellows. The adherents of this doctrine were ready to sacrifice everything to their desire for equality. “We are prepared,” cried they, “to consent to everything for it, we are prepared even to make tabula rasa to obtain it. Let all the arts perish if need be, provided we retain real equality.”[23] The first article of the official declaration of rights, as established by the secret committee of insurrection, reads: “Nature has given to every man an equal right to the enjoyment of all goods.” In the “proofs” following, it is maintained that all public and private wrongs, as oppressions, tyrannies, wars,[35] and crimes, take their origin in disobedience to this natural law. At least six of the eleven articles of this “Charter of Equality” do little more than repeat in varying form the idea contained in article 1. Article 7, e.g., reads: “In a true society there ought to be neither poor nor rich.” Article 10, “The end of the revolution is to destroy inequality and to re-establish the common happiness.”

How was equality to be attained? Perhaps it is best to correct at the start a popular error by stating how they did not expect to obtain equality. They were not foolish enough to propose to divide the wealth of society among the various citizens and then allow the production and distribution of economic goods to go on as at present. It is a matter of course that under such circumstances inequalities would again arise within twenty-four hours. This is so perfectly obvious that no communist of note has ever proposed anything so childish and absurd. Yet it is a widely prevalent notion that this is what the communists have desired. One of the Rothschilds of Frankfort-on-the-Main once hearing a poor man complain of his lot, and express a desire for the equality of communism, is said immediately to have put his hand in his pocket, drawn out two or three shillings, and offered them to the poor man as his share of the wealth of a Rothschild, were it equally divided among all the inhabitants of Germany. This is often told as a business man’s concise and practical refutation of communism. It has, however, no significance at all either for or against that economic system. All communists without exception propose that the people as a whole, or some particular division of the people, as a village or commune, should own all the means of production—land,[36] houses, factories, railroads, canals, etc.; that production should be carried on in common; and that officers, selected in one way or another, should distribute among the inhabitants the fruits of their labor. Under such circumstances inequalities could have no opportunity to spring up; nor do we find communistic experiments failing because it is impossible to maintain equality. Where it is really desired, it is not difficult to secure it. As a matter of fact, however, it is not desired by the great masses of any land of Christendom, nor would they for a moment consent to endure it.

But to return from this digression. Babœuf proposed to attain equality by degrees. He desired that a large national and common property should be at once formed out of the property of corporations and public institutions. The property of individuals was to be added to this upon their death, as inheritance was to be abolished. All property would thus become nationalized in the course of fifty years. Production was to be carried on in common under officers chosen by popular vote. These same officers, according to the scheme, decide upon the needs and requirements of the different individuals of the society, and divide the products of their common industry. The earth must belong to all, and its fruits must be common property. Officers receive no more than those under them, and a rapid rotation in office prevents the acquirements of habits and thoughts consequent on superior position. No one becomes accustomed to command; no one becomes accustomed to obey.

The country is divided into “regions,” and the “regions” into “departments.” There is a central and superior administration for the entire country, an intermediate[37] one for each “region,” and a subordinate one for each “department.” Each administration has its own duties—the lowest coming into contact with individuals, the higher supervising the subordinate boards. Government is absolute, notwithstanding the adoption of the watchword “Liberté.” On its orders citizens are sent from commune to commune, as their services may be required; and the “superfluous” products of one region are transferred to another less fortunate one. The supreme administration must store up the surplus of years of plenty as provision for unfruitful years. It also conducts trade with foreign nations, for which purpose great magazines or store-houses are erected on the frontiers and the borders of the sea. No private individual is allowed to trade with foreign countries, and all merchandise used in such trade is confiscated for the benefit of the community. All intercourse with outside countries is carefully watched to prevent the importation of erroneous ideas and disastrous customs. Even within the country only such publications are allowed as teach the unqualified blessings of equality.

Article 3 of the “Organization of the Government of the Community” enumerates the kinds of labor which the law considers useful, and which alone entitle an individual to exercise any political right whatever. They are the following: agriculture, which is especially favored, as being most natural to man; the pastoral life; fishing; navigation; mechanic and manual arts; retail trade; transportation; war; teaching; and the sciences. However, teaching is only then considered useful when it is undertaken by one who has declared his adherence to the principles of the community, and bears a certificate of “civisme.” Literature and the[38] fine arts are not included, being regarded with little favor.

The whole scheme is dreary and monotonous. All differences save those relating to age and sex being abolished, equality is even interpreted to mean uniformity. All must be dressed alike, save that distinctions are made for sex and age; all must eat the same quantity of the same kind of food, and all must be educated alike.[24] As the higher goods of life are lightly esteemed, education is restricted to the acquirement of elementary branches of knowledge, and of those practical in a material sense. Comfortable mediocrity in everything is the openly expressed ideal.

Children are removed from the family at an early age, and brought up together, to train them in principles of communism, and to prevent the growth of differences and inequalities.

All things are contrived to level down and not to level up; to bring the highest down to the plane of stupid, self-satisfied mediocrity, and not to elevate the less fortunate to higher thoughts, feelings, and enjoyments.

This most cheerless of all communistic schemes fitly took its origin among those sunk in the most degraded materialism of the French Revolution.



It is a relief to turn one’s attention to the plans of Étienne Cabet. They, at least, have the merit of not robbing life of all poetry, sentiment, and trust in something higher and better than food and drink. One might find life tolerable in one of Cabet’s communes; but every noble soul will acknowledge that if life’s ends and aims are all to centre in a full stomach and a warm cloak, then, indeed, life is not worth the living.

Cabet, son of a cooper, was born in 1788 in Dijon. He received a good education, became a lawyer, and practised first in his native city, then in Paris. He was appointed attorney-general of Corsica in 1830, but lost his place in the following year on account of his opposition to government. He was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies shortly after, and returned to Paris. He devoted the remainder of his life to literature, politics, and communism. One of his principal works was a “Popular History of the French Revolution from 1789 to 1830.”[25] In a journal which he published at that time, Le Populaire, he advocated moderate communistic principles, or Icarian principles, as they were afterwards called. He was[40] condemned to two years’ imprisonment for an article in this paper, in which he attacked the king personally, but he was fortunate enough to escape imprisonment by flight to London. It was here he became acquainted with Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia,” from which he drew a large part of his inspiration. He returned to France in 1839, and published his “Voyage to Icaria,”[26] which he himself called a philosophical and social romance—Roman philosophique et social. The title indicates his dreamy character. He describes in this work a previously unknown country, not quite so large as France or England, but as populous and a thousand times more blessed. Peace, wisdom, joy, pleasures, and happiness reign there. Crimes are unknown. It is Icaria; “a second Promised Land, an Eden, an Elysium, a new terrestrial Paradise.”[27]

The writer of the “Voyage to Icaria” represents that he met in London Lord William Carisdall, who found in Icaria the one truly happy people he had discovered in his travels. Lord William kept a journal, in which he described this wonder-land, and this, we are told, has been edited and revised for the public with his consent. The object is to show that communism is practicable and is the solution of all social problems. It contains an account of an ideal society, but one which Cabet thought he was able to establish. He made the attempt, choosing Texas as a place in which his ideals were to be realized. He secured the grant of a large tract of land on the Red River, and sent out several advance-guards of Icarians in 1848, who were, however,[41] attacked by the yellow fever, and had disbanded before he arrived in New Orleans with a later detachment. He learned on his arrival that the Mormons had abandoned their settlement in Nauvoo, Ill., and set out for that place with his followers. While the Icarians were in Nauvoo they numbered, all told, at one time fifteen hundred. As Nordhoff, in his “Communistic Societies in the United States,” justly remarks, Cabet might have done something with such a large band, if he had had anything of a business head. But he lacked firmness and perseverance. They met with some success in cultivating their land, established shops, pursued trades, and set up a printing-office; but instead of rejoicing in his prosperity, and laboring to increase it, Cabet was dreaming what he might do if he had half a million, as is evinced by a publication which appeared about that time, entitled “Wenn ich $500,000 hätte”—“If I only had $500,000.” He described the theatre and the fine houses he would build, the gas-works he would found, the parks he would lay out, and showed, among other things, how he could then introduce hot and cold water in the houses.

To his description of this brochure Nordhoff adds: “Alas for the dreams of a dreamer! I turned over the leaves of his pamphlet while wandering through the present Icaria, on one chilly Sunday in March, with a keen sense of pain at the contrast between the comfort and elegance he so glowingly described and the dreary poverty of the life which a few determined men and women have there chosen to follow, for the sake of principles which they hold both true and valuable.”[28]


It is said that Cabet developed a dictatorial spirit in Nauvoo. This may be doubted. It is possible he only attempted to enforce measures without which he believed the commune must prove a failure. At any rate, a division took place among the Icarians. The colony at Nauvoo was broken up, and the members scattered, save fifty or sixty, who emigrated to Iowa. Cabet and his followers went to St. Louis, where he died in 1856. The emigrants to Iowa founded a settlement near Corning, on the Burlington and Missouri Railroad, which they called Icaria. They began with four thousand acres of land and a debt of $20,000. At first they had a hard struggle, being obliged to content themselves even with log-houses. When Mr. Nordhoff wrote his book, in 1874, the debt was paid, they lived in frame houses, and enjoyed a considerable degree of comfort. The community consisted of eleven families and sixty-five members, comprising twenty children and twenty-three voters. They had a good saw-mill and a grist-mill, and owned one thousand nine hundred and thirty-six acres of land, of which three hundred and fifty were under cultivation. They had one hundred and twenty cattle and five hundred sheep.

A friend[29] has lately spent a week in Icaria, and has kindly written me the following account of the present condition of the community, which has experienced noteworthy changes since Mr. Nordhoff paid it a brief visit a few years ago:

Grinell, Ia., May 7, 1883.

“——. First, let me say that I think no one has yet done adequate justice to Icarian history.... I was fortunate in being received[43] into the community in the most friendly manner, and spent many hours in talking with the members. Especially, I was fortunate in making the acquaintance of two old men—original members—one of them the leader in the quarrel with Cabet at Nauvoo, and the successor of Cabet as president.... I have never enjoyed a visit more than this, for the Icarians, though poor and necessarily very hampered, are highly courteous and intelligent. To begin with their dissensions.” [For the present purpose it is sufficient to state that the members of the community, not being able to live together peaceably, agreed to separate; the “Young Party” retained the old village, and is now officially known as the “Icarian Community,” and the “Old Party” established a new commune in the vicinity.]

“The reorganization into two groups happened just four years ago.... The court declared the articles of incorporation forfeited, on the technical ground that a commune incorporated as an agricultural society was exceeding its charter in running a grist-mill and manufacturing flour! The arbitrators divided the property on an equitable basis. They ascertained the amount of property each had brought into the society, the number of years each had labored for the society, and on these principles they declared each individual entitled to a certain proportion of the property. The ‘Young Party’ associated themselves and obtained new articles of incorporation.... They assumed the original name. They were the minority in voting numbers, but, counting children, they were more numerous than the ‘Old Folks’ Party.’ The ‘Old Folks’ did not take out articles of incorporation. Instead, they formed themselves into a general partnership based on recorded articles of agreement, which I send you (Contrat de la Nouvelle Com. Icar.). The other party having got possession of the name, the ‘Old Folks’ called their society ‘The New Icarian Community.’

“At the time of the dissolution, the Icarians owned over two thousand acres of land. The ‘Old Party’ were found entitled to somewhat more than half the property. Both parties have at different times made small purchases and sales of land. At the time of the dissolution it was expected that the ‘Old Party’ would remain in the original village, and that the ‘Young Party’ would go to the east side of the estate and build themselves new houses; but finally the ‘Old Folks’ chose to be the emigrants, and they have a new village nearly a mile east of the original village (which is now occupied by the ‘Icarian Community’).


“At present the ‘New Icarian Community’ (i.e., the ‘Old Folks’) have about one thousand and eighty-five acres. About two hundred acres is in timber (which, however, is not valuable except for firewood, posts, etc. There are few trees left which are valuable for lumber. Iowa timber in general is of little value.) About three hundred acres are being cultivated this year. They were planting corn while I was with them, and will put in two hundred acres. One hundred acres will be in wheat, potatoes, etc. They have eighteen horses, and about one hundred cattle—milk about thirty cows. In summer they sell cream to the Creamery in Corning. They will sell this year a dozen or so beef steers. They have about two hundred hogs, and will sell eighty this year. Last year they sold $300 worth of potatoes. They cut from two to three hundred tons of hay annually. They have the old mill, built in 1853 or 1854, but are not doing a great deal with it. They make some flour, and the mill nets them a clear profit of not more than $200 or $300 per year.

“The official inventory of the ‘New Icarian Society,’ made on Jan. 1, 1883, gives the

Total assets $28,009.35
Total debts 5,646.50
Net $22,362.85

In the above estimate the land was valued rather too low, and a part of the indebtedness has already been paid. The way is now pretty clear out of all financial difficulties. They pay about $225 annual taxes. They number at the present time thirty-four people. Their village consists of a central two-story frame building (worth about $1500), twenty-two feet by forty feet, perfectly plain; the first story is a common dining-hall and kitchen, and the second story has rooms for a family and several old men. They have also eight frame houses, ‘story-and-a-half,’ about fourteen by twenty-two, built uniformly, and arranged symmetrically about the dining-hall. Each is occupied by a family. The arrangement is as follows:


Each house has a small plot for flowers, etc. The interiors are excessively plain. The living in the common hall is frugal but abundant. Of the thirty-four people twelve are men, of whom six are over sixty; ten are women, of whom two are over sixty, and two are young and unmarried; and twelve are children, ranging in age from three weeks to twelve years. Seven children are in school; the other five are too young. Of course everything looks new and rather bleak about this new village, but the site is admirably chosen. The prospect, as one looks out from the windows of the dining-room, is beautiful, and a dozen years hence, if fortune favors, the New Icaria will be a charming place. In spite of bitter adversities, these New Icarians are a bright, agreeable, vivacious people. They could talk English well enough for my benefit, but their home-talk is entirely French. The children are very pretty and attractive, and all are polite and superior-mannered. They have a promising young vineyard and apple-orchard, and a good large garden for kitchen vegetables. The people are all French except one Spaniard, who came from Cuba many years ago. Their president, A. A. Marchand, was one of the original sixty-nine vanguard who went to Texas in 1848, and he has always been a prominent man. He is a gentleman worthy of the highest regard. Another member, Sauva, who was president the year Hinds’s book (‘American Communities,’ 1878) was written, and whom you find mentioned in Hinds’s account, is still with this society. He was formerly a member of the Cheltenham branch;[30] returned to Europe, took active part in the International and the Paris Commune, and joined the Iowa Icarians two or three years after. He is a man of high intelligence. A number of these members are men of good literary ability. They have a small press, and print a monthly paper, the Revue Icarienne. They have a shoemaker’s shop, but scarcely anything in the industrial line besides their mill. They have a fair supply of good agricultural implements, and conduct their farming about as their neighbors in general do.

“If they maintain harmony, they can readily pay this debt and improve their mode of life. They are somewhat chary of admitting new members, because they already have men enough to farm their land, and they do not feel able to make their settlement an asylum for all who hold communistic ideas. Their school is one of the regular district-schools[46] of the county. It is located between the two communities and patronized by both. The teacher at present is a French lady, educated in Cincinnati—an Icarian in her early days—and the school is well conducted. At the time of the split the library was divided. Each village has a library of more than one thousand volumes, mainly French, and containing the works of the standard old French authors. In both communities newspapers are taken freely, both English and French, and the people seem more conversant with affairs—especially with European affairs—than the average American farmer’s family. Their family-life seems natural and affectionate. Their life is necessarily plain, toilsome, and monotonous, but I think it is fully as agreeable and diversified as that of isolated American farmers. The life in the ‘New Icarian Community’ seems more genial and social than in the ‘Icarian Community.’ At the time of the split a number of individuals withdrew, and did not join either party in reorganizing. Since, also, there have been numerous accessions and withdrawals, the latter preponderating, especially in the ‘Icarian Community.’

“The ‘Icarian Community,’ according to Mr. Peron, now contains thirty souls: seven are men over twenty years; five are women over eighteen years; eighteen are children. One man, Michael Brumme, a German, is about seventy years old. There is one lady over sixty years old. Both these were Nauvoo members. All the other men and women are under forty years of age. All are French except two Germans and one Spaniard. There were several other old members, who have withdrawn within the past two or three years. They have seven hundred and seventy-two acres of land; two hundred acres are timber; three hundred acres are seeded in clover or timothy grass. This year they are planting one hundred and twenty acres of corn—they profess to believe in intensive agriculture. They are turning almost exclusive attention to stock-raising, and all their agriculture is with reference to feeding cattle and hogs. They have now about ready for the market thirty-six steers and seventy-five hogs. Altogether they have about one hundred and thirty head of cattle, one hundred and fifty hogs, twenty horses and colts. They are intending to raise sheep, and are just beginning with a flock of seventy-five, expecting to buy a larger flock soon. They have a productive vineyard of nine or ten acres. Last year they made fifteen barrels of wine; they made twenty barrels the previous year. Last fall they made seven or eight barrels of cider and fifteen barrels of vinegar; also five barrels of sorghum molasses, of which they will make ten barrels this year. They have ten[47] acres of apple orchard. They have a blacksmith shop, wagon shop, and shoemaker shop, for their own work exclusively. They give for their financial report for April, 1883, the following: assets, $30,300; liabilities, $8751.80. They estimate their real estate at two thirds and their stock at one third their assets. They expect that the hogs and steers which they will market in a few days will bring about $3700—about $3000 of which will be applied to the debt. They pay an average interest of seven per cent. on their debt. They have a central hall similar to the one already described. They also have eight frame houses like those in New Icaria. (The houses in New Icaria were moved bodily from old Icaria when the new settlement was formed, except the hall and the outbuildings.) A picturesque feature of old Icaria is the dozen old log cabins, now used as sheds, etc., which were the original homes. They are close by the present habitations. For a year or two this community has been seriously talking of leaving Iowa. If they can make an advantageous sale of their property they say they would go. They have prospected somewhat in the South, but have concluded that California is the place for them. In the spring of 1881 over a dozen persons, in five or six families, withdrew from Icaria and moved to Sonoma Co., California, where they bought eight hundred acres of land and have formed a commune. They are said to be prospering as fruit-growers. Icaria talks of joining them in California with a view to the fusion of the communes. Peron (a prominent member) says they would like the climate better than that of Iowa, and would also find fruit-growing more congenial than general farming. It would give more time for mental culture, and would admit of a more agreeable style of living. The society publishes a monthly paper called the Communiste-Libertaire—which is written and printed by Peron. If there had been harmony, and no division, I think that Icaria would have been prosperous to-day—with perhaps several hundred members. As things now stand it is hard to foretell the fate of either branch. If the one goes to California, the other may have a slow, steady growth in Iowa. A good many young people lack the devotion to the principle of communism necessary to keep them in the society, and they withdraw from time to time. The difficulty of Frenchmen living harmoniously in a commune seems the great source of disaster. Spite of his theory to the contrary, a Frenchman has a great deal of “individualism,” and not a great deal of patience and forbearance.... It just occurs to me to say one thing more. The Icarians are good[48] American citizens. Cabet and all his comrades took out naturalization papers, and were all ardent abolitionists! They voted the first Republican ticket (Fremont) in 1856, and Mr. Marchand tells me that he has voted for every Republican president since. The “old folks” in New Icaria are still solidly Republican in politics; but Mr. Peron and his friends in the other community have been voting the Greenback ticket for a year or two. They say that it seems to them that the Greenback party represents the laboring classes in their struggle against great corporate and moneyed monopolies; and it is in the spirit of agitators that they support the Greenback party, and not so much because they expect anything definite from that party.

“Peron is very brilliant and epigrammatic in conversation.... He is a scientist, a positivist philosopher, an internationalist, somewhat of an avowed anarchist, and a terrible proletarian. In short, he is a character whose acquaintance I enjoyed making—Gérard, Marchand, Peron, Fugier, Sauva, and Bettannier are the sort of men who figure in French history or in Hugo’s novels. Their tremendous individuality seems to me ill at ease in an obscure little commune where, theoretically, no man is more than his fellow-man.”

They are still governed by the essential principles of Cabet’s constitution, the two leading ideas of which are the equality of all and the brotherhood of man. They elect executive officers every year, who are, however, only empowered to execute the orders of their fellow-citizens, and may not so much as buy a bushel of corn without being authorized to do so by the society. They have no servants, and are too poor for the enjoyment of luxuries. The directors buy the goods needed by the Icarians twice a year at wholesale. Each one makes known his wants previous to the semi-annual purchases. Marriage is essential according to Cabet’s scheme,[31] and wives are highly[49] honored. Not only is the strictest fidelity enjoined upon the husbands, but they are required to render special acts of homage to their wives.[32]

Education is valued. All children are sent to school till they are sixteen, and they regret that their poverty does not allow them to give the young a more extended mental training.

As is evident, the community has been by no means an entire failure, although it has been one of the poorest communistic societies in our country. The differences which have sprung up may possibly be beneficial to the cause, as they have led, as has been seen, to three communes instead of one. At present, it is safe to say that the only possible way for communism to succeed is to adopt, as the Icarians have done, the communal or township system. This affords room for a diversity of growth and the development of at least local individuality.

A gentleman, learning that Mr. Nordhoff had visited Icaria, wrote to him as follows: “Please deal gently and cautiously with Icaria. The man who sees only the chaotic village and the wooden shoes, and only chronicles those, will commit a serious error. In that village are buried fortunes, noble hopes, and the aspirations of good and great men like Cabet. Fertilized by these deaths, a great and beneficent growth yet awaits Icaria. It has an eventful and extremely interesting history, but its future is destined to be still more interesting. It, and it alone, represents in America a great idea—rational democratic communism.”

A good notion of Cabet’s teachings may be obtained[50] by studying Icaria and its constitution; but, if more complete information is desired, it can be found in the “Voyage to Icaria”—a really fascinating book. His principles are quite simple, and all centre in the beneficent effects of equality, to which fraternity, as understood by Cabet, necessarily leads. “If we are asked, ‘What is your science?’ we reply, ‘Fraternity.’ ‘What is your principle?’—‘Fraternity.’ ‘What is your doctrine?’—‘Fraternity.’ ‘What is your theory?’—‘Fraternity.’ ‘What is your system?’—‘Fraternity.’”[33] But how were people to be taught to practise communism? how induce the aristocracy to renounce their privileges? This was to be accomplished by peaceful means alone. The apostles of Icarianism should, like Christ, whose principles they were only carrying out, convert the world by teaching, preaching, writing, discussing, persuading, and by setting good examples.[34] The wildness of his dreams is shown by the fact that he allowed fifty years for a peaceful transition from our present economic life to communism. In the interval, various measures were to be introduced by legislation to pave the way to the new system. Among these may be mentioned communistic training for children, a minimum of wages, exemption of the poor from all taxes, and progressive taxation for the rich. But “the system of absolute equality, of community of goods and of labor, will not be obliged to be applied completely, perfectly, universally, and definitely until the expiration of fifty years.”[35] No one who has studied the slow formation[51] of social organizations could possibly hope for a radical change in so short a period. Some are doubtless led to such anticipations by noticing the rapid changes in the commercial and industrial world. This is, it is said, a fast age, and in not a few respects the saying is true. But man’s nature and society are not changing so rapidly. It is the mere externals of our life which change speedily.

Cabet’s political organization consists of a democratic republic.[36] Representatives and executives are allowed, but they derive their power from the people. Those whom the Icarians choose to rule over them prepare laws and regulations which are submitted to the citizens for approval, provide amusements, conduct industries in large establishments, and divide the products of common labor equally among all. Houses, villages, provinces, communes, and farms are as nearly alike as possible. The economies of common production enable all to enjoy every comfort and many luxuries. Elegance and beauty are encouraged.

The only choice allowed in one’s clothes concerns their color; otherwise all are dressed alike, save that distinctions are made for age and sex.

Marriage and family are held sacred, as might perhaps be expected from the high honors accorded by Cabet to the fair sex. Perhaps his views concerning the elevated position due woman were influential in drawing to him the large number of sympathizers he found among the ladies of Paris, who encouraged him with kind words and frequent floral gifts.

As large an amount of liberty was granted by the Icarians as was practicable. Work was common, as has[52] been stated, but young men and young women were allowed to choose their own career. However, if there existed a disproportionate number of applicants for any particular trade or profession, competitive examination decided who should be selected for the said pursuit. The others were obliged to make another choice.

Diligence and thrift were enjoined on all. Men worked till sixty-five years of age and women till fifty. The length of a day’s labor was seven hours in summer and five in winter; for women, however, only four. All labor ceased at 1 P.M. Dirty and disagreeable work was performed by machines.

Science and literature were held in high esteem and encouraged, though publication was not free. Any one might write books, but only those could be printed whose publication had been authorized by law.



When we turn from Babœuf and Cabet to Saint-Simon we discover a man of a new type. He differed from his predecessors in aims, purposes, and character. We find in him one who did not desire the dead and uninteresting level of communism, but placed before him as an ideal a social system which should more nearly render to man the just fruits of his own individual exertions than does our present society.

Count Henry de Saint-Simon[37] was born at Paris in 1760. He belonged to a noble family of France, which traced its origin to Charlemagne. The family attained distinction early in the fifteenth century through the gallant conduct of one of its members at the battle of Agincourt. It divided into five branches in the seventeenth century. The celebrated Duke de Saint-Simon, author of the “Memoirs of the Reign of Louis XIV. and the Regency,” belonged to one branch; Louis François de Saint-Simon, Marquis de Sandricourt, grandfather of the socialist, to another. Among the sons of the marquis were Balthasar Henri, Maximilien Henri, and Charles François Simeon, of whom the two latter became distinguished. Balthasar Henri was the father of the subject of this chapter.


Although not the grandson of the duke, as has been erroneously supposed,[38] Saint-Simon would naturally have inherited his titles and property. They were lost to him, however, through the quarrel of his father with the duke. The titles he lost were those of a grandee of Spain and a duke of France, while the property he would have inherited yielded an annual income of 500,000 francs. “I have lost the titles and the fortune of the Duke of Saint-Simon,” he writes, “but I have inherited his passion for glory.” This was manifested in a singular way when he was only sixteen years of age. That he might not forget the grand destiny in store for him, he ordered his servant to awaken him every morning with the words, “Arise, Monsieur le Comte, you have grand deeds to perform.” Saint-Simon had already entered the army at this time, and the year afterwards went to America and fought in the War of the Revolution under Washington. He took part in the siege of Yorktown and witnessed the surrender of Lord Cornwallis. He distinguished himself for bravery on this occasion, and received honorable recognition of his gallant conduct from the Society of the Cincinnati. Upon his return to France, he was made colonel of the Regiment of Aquitaine at the early age of twenty-three. But he soon resigned his position and abandoned all hopes of a military career, although his prospects were certainly brilliant. In speaking of his sojourn in the United States, he says: “I occupied myself much more with political science than military tactics. The war in itself did not interest me, but the purpose of the war interested me exceedingly, and this interest[55] enabled me to endure its hardships without repugnance. I desire the attainment of the purpose, I was accustomed to say to myself, and I ought not to rebel against the means thereto.... My vocation was not that of a soldier; I was drawn towards a very different, indeed, I may say, diametrically opposite, kind of activity. The life purpose which I set before me was to study the movements of the human mind, in order that I might then labor for the perfection of civilization. From that time forward I devoted myself to this work without reserve; to it I consecrated my entire life.”[39]

Saint-Simon was taken prisoner by the British when returning to France in the Ville de Paris, and carried to Jamaica, where he was detained until the close of the war. In returning to Europe he visited Mexico, and there made an attempt to carry out one of the magnificent plans for the advancement of mankind which he had been revolving in his mind. He endeavored to interest the viceroy in a project for building a canal to unite the Atlantic with the Pacific. While his exertions were unsuccessful, it is interesting to note that one who drew his inspiration largely from Saint-Simon—viz., De Lesseps—may yet execute his plan.

A few years later Saint-Simon formed designs for a canal to connect Madrid with the sea, and might possibly have succeeded in realizing them, had not the French Revolution recalled him to France. He[56] sided with the people, although his family traditions and early training would have led him to connect himself with the royalists, and although in the struggle he lost the property he had inherited from his mother. He was elected president of the commune where his property was situated, in 1789, and in an address to the electors proclaimed his intention to renounce the title of count, since he regarded it as inferior to that of citizen; and he refused another office lest it should be supposed he owed it to his rank. All this, however, did not prevent his imprisonment on account of his nobility, which rendered him in the eyes of the terrorists a dangerous character. He was kept in prison, first at St. Pélagie, afterwards at the Luxembourg, for eleven months, and was released after the Revolution of Thermidor. It was at this time that his ancestor Charlemagne appeared to him and encouraged him with a prophecy of future greatness. He describes the vision in these words: “At the most cruel epoch of the Revolution, and during a night of my detention at the Luxembourg, Charlemagne appeared to me and said: ‘Since the world has existed, no family has enjoyed the honor of producing a hero and a philosopher of the first rank; this honor has been reserved for my house. My son, thy success as a philosopher will equal mine as a warrior and politician.’”

Upon his release from prison Saint-Simon began to speculate in the confiscated national lands, in order to obtain money to enable him to prosecute his plans for the improvement of society. He realized 144,000 francs from his investments, and then retired from business, as he thought he had all the property he needed. He devoted the following seven years to[57] preparatory study, taking up his abode first in the neighborhood of the École Polytechnique, afterwards near the École de Médecine. Physiology and the physical sciences interested him chiefly. What he had in view was a science of the sciences, a science to classify facts derived from all sciences and to unite them into one whole; and it was from him that his scholar, Auguste Comte, derived the idea of founding a universal science, as he attempted in his “Cours de Philosophie Positive.” In fact this work was only a development of his “Système Politique Positive,” which he, as a scholar of Saint-Simon, wrote at the instance of his master.[40]


Saint-Simon thought it necessary to add an experimental training to his theoretical one in order to prepare himself for his mission, and accomplished this by living every kind of life, from that of the wealthy entertainer of savants to one of poverty and dissipation. While this attempt to pass through all the experiences and feelings of a lifetime in a few years was not altogether unsuccessful, it was unfortunate in making him prematurely old.

Saint-Simon began his career as an author and social reformer at the age of forty-three, in 1803, and never abandoned it until his death in 1825.

His life was a sad one. His property was soon gone, and he often worked at his system while suffering the direst want, but he was sustained by the spirit of the martyr. Saint-Simon endeavored to bring to pass the happy future which he believed possible for the human race. “The imagination of poets,” said he, “has placed the golden age at the cradle of the human race, amidst the ignorance and grossness of the earliest times. It had been better to relegate the iron age to that period. The golden age of humanity is not behind us; it is to come, and will be found in the perfection of the social order. Our fathers have not seen it; our children will one day behold it. It is our duty to prepare the way for them.”

Saint-Simon had thus devoted his life to a cause which he held sacred, and he pursued it through fortune and misfortune, through good report and through evil report. For a time he occupied the position of copyist at a salary of $200 per annum; a strange place for a scion of one of the proudest families of France. He copied nine hours a day, and robbed himself of sleep in order to develop his philosophical[59] and social system. His health had begun to fail him, when he was relieved from his deplorable situation by the kindness of a man who had been his valet in brighter days. This servant, one of the few who never lost faith in Saint-Simon, supported him, and assisted him in the publication of his works. The death in 1810 of the former valet, Diard by name, again left Saint-Simon in a wretched state, but he continued his labors, and wrote two works, entitled “Sur la Science de l’Homme” and “Sur la Gravitation Universelle.” As he had no means of printing them, he sent them in manuscript to various scientists and other prominent men, with the following letter:

Sir,—Be my saviour. I am dying of starvation. For fifteen days I eat only bread and drink water; I work without a fire, and I have sold everything save my garments to cover the expense of the copies. It is a passion for science and the public good, it is the desire of discovering a means of terminating in a peaceable manner the dreadful crisis in which I find the entire European society engaged, that has caused me to fall into this condition of distress; therefore, it is without blushing that I am able to confess my misery and demand assistance to enable me to continue my work.”

This letter met with no very favorable response, though Cuvier made him a small donation and others showed a mild interest in his welfare. His disciples, however, were afterwards proud of it. The following exhortation follows its quotation in the “Doctrine de Saint-Simon:”[41] “Children of Saint-Simon! generations of the future! guard as a religious memorial these lines which your father has left you as a sacred legacy. When his word shall have renewed the face of the earth, when the doctrine of recompense according[60] to works shall have been realized among men, when the last of the living shall obtain from the solicitude of society a guaranteed subsistence, a remuneration in proportion to merits, children of Saint-Simon, you will then love to repeat how, in order to accomplish his mission of regeneration, your father was reduced to begging.”

A small pension was finally granted Saint-Simon by his family, and he worked on quietly till 1823, but he found little sympathy and encouragement, and for once his courage deserted him. He was more than sixty years of age, his strength began to decrease, he was in want of every comfort and convenience and lacked the support and helpful consolations of domestic life. In his state of loneliness he was filled with despair by the thought that his life had been a failure, and he resolved to put an end to his own wretched existence.

Fortunately, however, he only succeeded in inflicting severe but not fatal injuries upon himself. His pitiable condition appears to have moved some kind hearts, for he was cared for tenderly until he recovered, when he regained faith in his mission and worked more diligently than ever. In the same year he finished his “Catéchisme des Industriels,” and in 1825, the year of his death, he completed the “Nouveau Christianisme.” These two works and his “Système Industriel,” published in 1821-22, are his three most important productions.

Perhaps the most celebrated of them all is his last work, the “Nouveau Christianisme,” the New Christianity. It was from this that his disciples chiefly drew their inspiration, and it was in this that his hopes centred as he lay on his death-bed, surrounded[61] by his friends, Auguste Comte, Rodrigues, and others. Reybaud[42] describes the last scene in the following manner: “Saint-Simon, feeling the approach of death, assembled about his bed his confidants and said to them: ‘For twelve days, my friends, I have been occupied with plans designed to assure the success of our enterprise (a projected journal called Le Producteur); for three hours, despite my sufferings, I have been endeavoring to present to you a résumé of my thoughts. You have arrived at a period where by your combined efforts you will achieve a great success; ... The fruit is ripe; you are able to gather it. The last part of my labors, the New Christianity, will not be immediately understood. It has been thought that every religious system ought to disappear because men have succeeded in proving the weakness and insufficiency of Catholicism. People are deceived in this. Religion cannot disappear from the world; it can only be changed. Rodrigues,’ addressing his favorite scholar, ‘do not forget, but remember that to accomplish grand deeds you must be enthusiastic. All my life is comprised in this one thought; to guarantee to all men the freest development of their faculties.’

“He paused for a few moments, then in the final struggle added,

“‘Forty-eight hours after our second publication the party of the laborers will be formed; the future is ours.’

“After having said these words, he raised his hand to his head and died.”


There are certain leading doctrines in Saint-Simon’s writings, which I will endeavor to present briefly, before passing on to a consideration of his followers, the Saint-Simonians. Comparatively unimportant changes of opinion respecting the details of his practical programme, as well as other minor points, will be omitted in this presentation.

We find running through all the writings of Saint-Simon, from his first work, “Lettres d’un Habitant de Genève,” to his last one, the “Nouveau Christianisme,” an aim and purpose which may be considered the leading feature of his system. It is the attempt to discover an authority which shall rule the inner life of man as well as his external acts. There have been powers which were able to do this. The Catholic Church, up to the fifteenth century and the beginnings of the Reformation, was one. Since then, however, it has failed to embody in itself all the advances of science; it has consequently lost its hold on the minds of men, has declined in influence, and ceased to be an organic bond uniting different nations and molding men’s lives. The present age is, therefore, critical: that is to say, the preponderating factors entering into it are disintegrating. This was seen in the French Revolution, the culmination of this period, which was destructive. This critical period was necessary to clear away hinderances and prepare for an organic and constructive period, which ought now to follow, since the time is ripe for a new social system based on universal association.

We are now in a transitional stage which is called a crisis.[43] The problem is to terminate the crisis.[63] This can be accomplished only by an advance in knowledge, accompanied by a passage from the feudal and theological to the industrial and scientific system. War and industry occupied the Middle Ages and must now be replaced by industry alone. Belief, faith, having lost its power, must be replaced by knowledge. Knowledge and industry are to be united and govern the world. They are to furnish to men the guidance and leadership they need and desire.

Carlyle said that the poor laborer “would fain find for himself a superior that should lovingly and wisely govern,” and that the wish and prayer of all human hearts was “give me a leader; a true leader, not a false sham-leader; a true leader, that he may guide me on the true way, that I may be loyal to him, that I may swear fealty to him and follow him, and feel that it is well with me.”[44] So thought Saint-Simon, when he appealed to thinkers and workers to unite and lead. He would gladly have seen England and France join in this movement, believing that they could draw the other powers into it.

What were the specific objects of this leadership? What were the functions of this restored authority?

First, universal peace was to be guaranteed. Formerly, the Catholic Church, in its character of arbiter of nations, imposed a wholesome restraint on kings, and lessened the number of wars. Since the decay of belief it was no longer possible for it to accomplish this. A European parliament composed of true leaders must now arbitrate between nations. This was ever a favorite theme of Saint-Simonism, and[64] modern sentiment and agitation in favor of peace owe more than is generally known to Saint-Simon and his followers.

Second, leadership is to establish universal association, guaranteeing labor to all, and a reward in proportion to services rendered. Equality is to be avoided, as involving greater injustice than our present economic life. Recompense in proportion to merit is the true maxim. But as all are to be guaranteed work, all must work either mentally or physically. In a socially regenerated state there is no room left for idlers. An idler is a parasite; he devours what others produce and makes no return. Wealthy idlers are thieves; another class of idlers consists of beggars, and this last class of do-nothings, we are told by Saint-Simon, is scarcely less contemptible and dangerous than the first.[45] This makes it sufficiently evident that the Saint-Simonians were acting in the spirit of their master in proposing the abolition of inheritance.

Again, this new society would not be ascetic, like the old Christianity—Saint-Simon’s kingdom was of this world. Flesh and spirit both had their rights, and their harmonious union and development alone formed the perfect man. Everything that was good and true and beautiful was to be encouraged. Luther is even accused of heresy because he rejected art as a handmaid of religion. The new society is religious and holy, and its chiefs are its priests.

Revolution is injurious and is not to be looked to as a means of social regeneration. It is destructive, whereas a constructive power is sought.[46] Reform[65] must be brought about by public opinion; and public opinion is to be enlightened by the printed and spoken word. An appeal is made to royalty to assist in this noble work, as its interests are at one with the industrials, and opposed to those of the do-nothings. In the new state the king is to take the title of the “First Industrial of his kingdom.”[47]

While Saint-Simon is not to be made responsible for all the later extravagance of his school, it is true that authority is to be found in his works for the fundamental ideas of his followers, and even for their practical measures before the separation which took place between Enfantin and Bazard. They were acting in accordance with his dying instructions in organizing and in preaching in behalf of labor. I am unable to separate, as some do, Saint-Simon from his disciples. So long as they were united and moderate they were carrying out consistently his teachings. They simply developed his thoughts and expressed precisely notions at which he had only hinted in vague and indefinite language.

The New Christianity was the Bible of the Saint-Simonian religion. Saint-Simon held that God had founded the Christian Church, and that we ought to honor the Fathers of the Church with the deepest reverence. Catholics and Protestants had, however, perverted the only true and valid Christian principle, and it was this he sought to restore. “In the New Christianity,” said he, “all morality will be derived immediately from this principle; men ought to regard each other as brothers. This principle, which belongs to[66] primitive Christianity, will receive a glorification, and in its new form will read: Religion must aid society in its chief purpose, which is the most rapid improvement in the lot of the poor.” It is thus that the social question becomes the essence of religion. This was the starting-point of Saint-Simon’s disciples, and led to the formation of a Saint-Simonian sect with a priesthood.

But let us devote a few moments to a description of the economic and social organization proposed by the Saint-Simonians, before discussing the religious society they founded to do honor to the memory of Saint-Simon, to assist in carrying our their socialistic schemes, and to satisfy the yearnings of hearts which refused to find satisfaction and contentment in the Christian Church.

Saint-Simonism is the first example of pure socialism, by which I understand an economic system in which production is entirely carried on in common, and the fruits of labor distributed according to some ideal standard, which appears to the promoters of the scheme just. This standard will, of course, vary according to the subjective ideas of different socialists. Any plan, to be practicable, must necessarily be a compromise between various views and historical antecedents.

Another writer defines “Socialism Proper”—by which he means about what I understand by Pure Socialism—as follows: “It is that system which recognizes inequality both in the capacity and requirements of individuals, and accordingly allows wages to be proportionate to work done, and admits of private income along with collective property.”[48]


The Saint-Simonians were led to socialism by observing the ill-regulated distribution of economic goods under our present social régime. They found the idle surfeited in luxuries and the diligent without the comforts and often without even the necessaries of life, the former enjoying the right to live as parasites on the fruits of the toil of the busy, the latter enjoying the right to choose between hard and ill-paid labor and death by starvation. They were able to perceive no sufficient connection between merit and recompense. Consequently the world appeared in a state of disharmony and they proposed to restore harmony by a new economic system.

It may be as well to state here that political economists are generally inclined to admit a certain justice in such complaints and only object to socialistic schemes as impracticable or as involving still worse evils. To show how far a man who holds a high rank as an orthodox political economist can go in his objection to the present method of distributing economic goods, it may be well to cite a celebrated passage from John Stuart Mill’s “Political Economy:” “If the bulk of the human race are always to remain as at present, slaves to toil in which they have no interest and therefore feel no interest—drudging from early morning till late at night for bare necessaries and with all the intellectual and moral deficiencies which that implies—without resources either in mind or feeling—untaught, for they cannot be better taught than fed; selfish, for all their thoughts are required for themselves; without interests or sentiments as citizens and members of society, and with a sense of injustice rankling in their minds, equally for what they have not and what others have; I know not what there[68] is which should make a person of any capacity of reason concern himself about the destinies of the human race.”[49] In another place Mill says that if the institution of private property necessarily carried with it all the sufferings and injustices of the present state of society, and a choice had to be made between private property and communism, “all the difficulties, great or small, of communism would be but as dust in the balance.”[50]

Now, the Saint-Simonians believed it possible to remedy these evils of distribution only by the substitution of state property for private property. At the same time, they rejected any equal distribution of labor’s products, which would give the active and energetic no more than the slow and indolent, which would treat alike the stupid clown, who was only a burden and a nuisance, and a great genius whose talents increased the wealth and prosperity of the nation. The Saint-Simonians held that men were by nature unequal, and that it was right to reward superior power, when exerted for the general good. Their idea was that each one should labor according to his capacity and be rewarded according to the services rendered. They wished to organize civil society on the plan of an army. This thought is distinctly expressed by one of their leaders in these words: “In the army gradations in rank and authority are already established, while in civil life that is precisely what is wanting; and in an enterprise conducted upon the principle of association, a central administration is imperiously required.”[51] The officers are the directing[69] authority in this scheme, and they decide on the value of the services rendered to society and reward the citizens accordingly. As society consists of priests, savants, and industrials—the industrials comprising those engaged in manufactures, agriculture, and commerce[52]—so the government consists of the chiefs of the priests, the chiefs of the savants, and the chiefs of the industrials. All property belongs to the church, i.e., to the state, and every profession or trade is a religious exercise and has its rank in the social hierarchy.[53]

It is not clearly stated how the ruling body was to be selected, whether by popular vote or otherwise. The idea of the Saint-Simonians seems to have been, however, that the good and wise, the best, would be voluntarily and without dissension selected as leaders—an idea scarcely warranted by the world’s experience with universal suffrage.

The Saint-Simonians necessarily rejected inheritance from their scheme, as they regarded idlers as thieves, and wished each one to be rewarded only in accordance with his own individual merits. All should start with equal advantages and only avail themselves of nature’s inequalities, i.e., superior talents. Christ’s command was “Away with slavery!” Saint-Simon’s, “Away with inheritance!” Property now inherited would naturally become common property in the new society.

The Saint-Simonians were accused in the Chamber of Deputies of advocating community of goods and community of wives. They defended themselves in a brochure dated October 1, 1830, which it is worth[70] while to quote, as it gives their ideas on these two important subjects:[54]

“Yes, without doubt, the Saint-Simonians profess peculiar views regarding property and the future of women, as well as concerning religion, power, liberty, and, finally, concerning all the great problems which are agitated so violently in Europe to-day. But these are very different from those ascribed to them. The system of community of goods means a division among all the members of society, either of the means of production or of the fruits of the toil of all.

“The Saint-Simonians reject this equal division of property, which would constitute in their eyes a more reprehensible act of violence, a more revolting injustice, than the present unequal division, which was effected in the first place by the force of arms, by conquest.

“For they believe in the natural inequality of men, and regard this inequality as the very basis of association, as the indispensable condition of social order.

“They reject the system of community of goods, for this would be a manifest violation of the first of all the moral laws which it is their mission to teach—viz., that in the future each one should rank according to his capacity and be rewarded according to his works.

“But in virtue of this law they demand the abolition of all privileges of birth, without exception, and consequently the destruction of inheritance, the chief of these privileges, which to-day comprehends all the others, and the effect of which is to leave to chance the distribution of social privileges among a small[71] number, and to condemn the most numerous class to deprivation, to ignorance, to misery.

“They demand that land, capital, and all the instruments of labor should become common property, and be so managed that each one’s portion should correspond to his capacity and his reward to his labors.... Christianity has released woman from servitude but has condemned her to religious, political, and civil inferiority. The Saint-Simonians have announced her emancipation, but they have not abolished the sacred law of marriage, proclaimed by Christianity. On the contrary, they give a new sanctity to this law.

“Like the Christians, they demand that one man should be united to one woman, but they teach that the wife ought to be the equal of the husband, and that, in accordance with the particular grace given to her sex by God, she ought to be associated with him in the triple function of temple, state, and family, in such a manner that the social individual which has hitherto been man alone should hereafter be man and woman.[55]

“The religion of Saint-Simon is to put an end to this legal prostitution which, under the name of marriage, consecrates frequently to-day a monstrous union of devotion and egoism, of intelligence and ignorance, of youth and decrepitude.”

The leaders of the Saint-Simonian religion were Enfantin and Bazard, the Supreme Fathers. Rodrigues had been chosen by Saint-Simon as his successor, but he generously ceded his position to them as his superiors, in accordance with the rule that rank should be the measure of capacity.


The new faith gained a large number of adherents after the Revolution of July, 1830.[56] Some of these became prominent afterwards, some of them were then men of wealth and importance. The best known are perhaps Buchez, who wrote a “Parliamentary History of the Revolution,” and was President of the Constituent Assembly of 1830; Laurent, a distinguished author and professor; Michel Chevalier, a civil engineer, since celebrated as a writer and a political economist; Barrault, professor of literature at the College of Sorèze, a dramatic author of distinction, some of whose plays had been performed at the Théâtre Français, and an orator of remarkable eloquence; Fournel, who had studied at the Polytechnic and afterwards made a name as an engineer; Adolphe Blanqui, who became an orthodox political economist, and wrote a “History of Political Economy,” and Pierre Leroux,[57] who at a later period became the exponent of Humanitarianism, a kind of Saint-Simonism modified and tinctured with Hegelian philosophy, and under whose influence several of Madame Sand’s works, as “Consuelo” and “La Comtesse de Rudolstadt,” were written. Other men of more or less note, bankers, lawyers, merchants, and particularly all kinds of engineers, joined them. The École Polytechnique was ever their stronghold. De Lesseps, an engineer who has disturbed the peace of many Americans, was also for a time connected with them.

Enfantin was, indeed, a strange man. It is scarcely comprehensible what could have given him such power[73] over men of ability, learning, wealth, and shrewd business capacity. In commenting upon this circumstance, Mr. Booth says: “He ruled despotically over their lives and thoughts; he induced them ... to lead an ascetic life; he withdrew them from refined society, and forced them to share in the coarsest toil; he compelled them to undergo the humiliation of public confessions, and he received from them the honors and the reverence accorded to a divine teacher. Yet his intellectual powers were inferior to those possessed by some of his disciples.” ... However, “his views were noble and generous and he advocated them with all the sincerity of genuine enthusiasm and the boldness of matchless self-confidence. It was natural that they should fascinate young men of an ardent temperament, who burned with a chivalrous desire to redress the evils of the world. They were readily charmed by a prophet whose countenance was remarkable for its dignity and repose, and whose affectionate disposition inspired them with boundless confidence and fervor. It must be admitted also that both his religious and political opinions contained a large amount of truth; but his vanity has invested them with an appearance of absurdity, for he delighted in fantastic dresses, in solemn processions, and imposing ceremonies; and he exposed himself to the ridicule of the world by permitting his disciples to speak to him of the majesty of his countenance and the divine brightness of his smile.”[58] An absent follower writes to the father, le Père, as they called him, from Corsica: “The kiss of my father will give me power, and his eloquent voice; I have every confidence in[74] my father, for I am sure that he knows his children better than they know themselves; why do I, nevertheless, tremble in going to him?” Other expressions addressed to the father are too absurd, extravagant, and impious to be quoted. Once, indeed, Enfantin rebuked the homage of his disciples with the words: “No one of us is God: I am only a man.”

The Saint-Simonians in an early stage of their proselytism formed a “Sacred College of Apostles,” consisting of six leaders. These chiefs were Enfantin, Bazard, Buchez, Rodrigues, Laurent, and Rouen. The younger and less influential disciples were organized as a subordinate order. They established missions and bishoprics in Toulouse, Montpellier, Sorèze, Lyons, in fact, in all parts of France, and also carried the new gospel to foreign lands, as Belgium and Algeria. Paris was divided into twelve districts and a male and a female missionary sent into each part. They propagated their faith by numerous lectures and by the press. One of their organs was called the Globe; its mottoes were: “Religion, Science, Industry, Universal Association.

“The purpose of all social institutions ought to be the intellectual, moral, and physical amelioration of the poorest and most numerous class.

“All privileges of birth, without exception, are abolished.

“To each one according to his capacity; to each capacity according to its works.”

These mottoes are a good résumé of their ideas.

The Saint-Simonians considered it necessary first to distinguish themselves in marked manner by wearing a peculiar costume, afterwards to separate themselves from the world by retiring to a sort of monastery.


Their costume consisted of blue cloth. Bazard and Enfantin wore light blue, the other adherents a darker shade, according to rank, the lowest members of the hierarchy being clad in royal blue. At a later period a still more peculiar costume was adopted, which embraced a waistcoat so contrived that no one could either put it on or take it off without assistance; and this symbolized the dependence of man upon his fellow-man.

In 1831 a schism took place in the Saint-Simonian church. Enfantin’s views regarding love and marriage were becoming constantly less and less orthodox. His belief in the substantial correctness of the impulses of the flesh led him to advocate, first, divorce, then views which can fairly be called free-love. In this he departed widely from the doctrines of the earlier and purer Saint-Simonism. A violent controversy followed the announcement of Enfantin’s later opinions. The debates lasted day and night for some time. They were all terribly in earnest. Young men were borne from the room unconscious and some even lost their reason. The matter did not terminate until Bazard and a large number of disciples, including Mde. Bazard, M. Fournel and his wife, and Pierre Leroux, withdrew from the association. To the credit of the women connected with the Saint-Simonians, it should be stated that not one of them remained with Enfantin.

Enfantin and Bazard had been the two fathers, and in their assemblies Bazard had had a seat beside Enfantin. His chair was left vacant, as an appeal to some female Messiah to come forward and occupy it, and form together with Enfantin the couple-prêtre, the true priest man-woman. As man and woman together[76] formed one unit, the supreme priesthood could only be perfect when composed of both. Enfantin’s beauty and wonderful magnetism appear to have attracted numerous candidates, but the right one never appeared. The perfect priest remained an unrealized dream.

After the schism Enfantin and a number of his disciples decided to come out from the world, and for this purpose retired to Ménilmontant, where Enfantin owned a house surrounded by a large garden. Here forty or fifty of the faithful led a most strange life. It was one of severe asceticism. Husbands separated from their wives for the sake of their religion, after they had assumed the monastic dress. Sometimes the wives shared the enthusiasm of the disciples; sometimes they murmured. One of them, who finds the trial a hard one and yet appreciates her husband’s motives, writes to him: “On Wednesday, I shall see you assume the dress of an apostle, and then I can give you but a sisterly kiss. I will endeavor to collect all my strength to hear you renounce me as a wife and your Amelia as child. Such a proceeding requires an energy which I trust I shall possess. Receive the tender farewell of her who will soon no longer be able to subscribe herself—your Amelia.” To a friend she writes: “I am sensible of the aims to which his noble and generous heart leads him, when he separates himself from me. This knowledge is sufficient for me to accept the sacrifice, and, after all, what is my grief, what are my tears, when the enfranchisement of the world is concerned?”

As they held the performance of labor to be a religious act, they employed no servants, and at Ménilmontant you might have been edified by the sight of a man scrubbing the floor, who has since attained a[77] world-wide fame. They were generally cheered in their work by music. Another part of their creed laid stress upon mental development, and we find at the monastery instruction given in astronomy, geology, physical geography, music, and civil engineering. Any one might well be proud to have had such instructors as those who taught. To mention only one, the teacher of music was David, the composer of the operas “Lalla Rookh,” “Désert,” and “Herculanum.”

It is not necessary in this place to describe the strange and fantastic life by which the apostles endeavored to attain a more elevated spiritual state, reverencing Saint-Simon and Enfantin as sacred messengers of God. They were finally dispersed by dissensions, the desire of some to return to their families, financial difficulties, and external persecution. Enfantin and Chevalier were imprisoned for holding illegal assemblies. The faith, however, continued to prosper for a few years, and missionaries were still sent out to teach the New Christianity. One of the latest expeditions was headed by Enfantin himself after his release from prison. Its aim was to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean. De Lesseps was associated with them in this, but he finally separated from them, as they could not agree upon the engineering plans. Enfantin and other Saint-Simonians continued to advocate the project and scouted Stephenson’s assertion that it was impossible. This may seem at first like strange missionary work, but it does not, when you remember that to them all labor for the advancement of humanity was sacred. It is owing to Enfantin’s persistent endeavors that the Suez Canal was built. When Enfantin heard that De Lesseps was going on with the canal alone, it was[78] thought that he might feel injured. He exhibited, however, a truly noble spirit, and simply remarked that, “Provided the work which I have brought into notice, and caused to be studied as highly useful to the moral and material interests of humanity, be executed, I will be the first to bless him by whom it is executed. Undoubtedly, it is but just that posterity should know that the initiation of that gigantic enterprise was taken by those whom the Old World could recognize only as Utopists, dreamers, or fools.”[59]

The Saint-Simonians never reunited after the Egyptian expedition. A considerable number were able to make themselves useful in that country on account of their engineering skill. Mehemet Ali, the viceroy, recognized their talents and employed them in numerous ways. One received a commission to found a Polytechnic School at Cairo, another was placed at the head of a school of artillery, two others were appointed professors in the school at Kauka, and several medical men received positions in the hospital. David delighted the Alexandrians with concerts, and Barrault charmed them by his eloquent lectures. An Egyptian paper declared of Barrault that “Alexandria, since the best days of its glory, has never heard within its walls a voice so eloquent or a poetry of language so harmonious.”[60]

The most of these Saint-Simonians returned to France, and, like many of their former associates who had not left their native soil, acquired positions of prominence and influence.

Enfantin himself received a post as director of the[79] Lyons Railway and became wealthy. He never lost faith in Saint-Simonism, but thought that as much had been done for the system as was then possible, since its doctrines had been proclaimed far and near, and were slowly leavening the mass of society.

Many of the principles taught by the Saint-Simonians must receive our hearty approbation. We sympathize with their endeavors to improve the lot of the poor and oppressed, and assent to them when they preach the dignity and sacredness of labor, the reverence due woman, and the duty of maintaining peace between nation and nation. When Chevalier proposes that the armies of Europe, “instead of being applied to the destruction of property and life, should be employed upon works of public utility,”[61] we are reminded that the coming of a time has been prophesied when “nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”[62]

Saint-Simon has ceased to be the prophet of a religious school, but he did not sacrifice life and happiness in vain. He still lives in the lives and actions of men, and to-day possesses an historical importance which has been well expressed in these words:

“Saint-Simon first taught us to consider the history of labor and property as an essential element of human development, and consequently to investigate the history of society.

“He first discerned clearly the separation of the two great classes of industrial society, and implanted bitter hatred in the consciousness of the lower classes. Saint-Simon’s[80] word that the party of the laborers would be formed, has been fulfilled. Saint-Simonism is the first expression of the proletariat.

“He first represented social reform as the only true function of government.

“Finally, he first brought forward the question of inheritance, the question upon which the entire future of the social form of Europe will rest during the next two generations.

“Thus through Saint-Simon is society, in its power, its elements, and its contradictions, for the first time half understood, half vaguely conjectured. He is the boundary of a new era in France. He left the beaten track and laid down his life in discovering and opening for society a new path. In it we have as yet taken only a few steps, and no human eye is able to discern the goal whither we are tending.”[63]



In his “Social Movements in France”[64] Lorenz von Stein uses these words, in comparing Saint-Simon and Fourier: “While Saint-Simon was sacrificing his life in Paris in his efforts to attain an unknown and only vaguely conjectured goal, and while his school was struggling against foes from within and without, there lived in another part of France a man who, without knowing Saint-Simon, was taking an essentially different route towards the same goal. This man was Charles Fourier.... Never has any land at the same time produced two men of such importance in the history of society.”[65]

These two men together constitute one whole. Each was required as a complement of the other. The one started in his career as a man of wealth and social eminence, the other as a man of the people. The one observed society, studied its history, its development, and sought to find therein a clew to guide him in his work of regenerating the world, morally and economically; the other, regarding the past as such a series of blunders as to afford no proper basis for future formations, searched the depths of his own[82] consciousness, and discovered a law which furnished premises, enabling him to construct deductively an ideal and perfect society, and to explain with mathematical accuracy the past, present, and future of the entire universe.

Saint-Simon was a man of impulse and feeling; Fourier was a man of the understanding and logic. The former founded a religion; the latter a science.

Charles Fourier was born in 1772 in Besançon. He came of an ordinary family and represented the middle-class. His father was a cloth-merchant in his native city, and he himself spent the greater part of his life in mercantile pursuits of one kind or another. Fourier seems to have been a bright boy, for when only eleven years of age he took prizes for excellence in French and Latin. He liked the study of geography, spending a considerable part of his pocket-money for maps and globes, and was passionately fond of music and flowers. It is said that he was himself a good musician. His mechanical ability was remarkable enough to attract attention at an early period in his life. As a commercial traveller he visited Germany and Holland, and was thus able to gratify his desire to see the world. Upon the death of his father, he inherited about one hundred thousand francs at an early age, invested the money in foreign trade, and lost it in the siege of Lyons in 1793, during the Reign of Terror, when his bales of cotton were used to form barricades and his provisions to feed the soldiers. But Fourier’s misfortunes did not end here. He was taken prisoner, and kept in confinement for some time, expecting daily to be led forth to execution. Release, however, enabled him to join the army, for which he had some taste. It is, indeed, stated that he was able to make suggestions[83] concerning military operations which were followed to advantage by his superiors. But ill-health obliged him to retire from the army at the expiration of two years, and return to a business life.

Fourier was never greatly prospered, nor did he ever, so far as I know, give evidence of ability to achieve a large amount of worldly success. In this he was unlike almost every other great communist or socialist. However, it must be acknowledged that his mind was from childhood engaged with other thoughts than the means of acquiring wealth, so that we are scarcely in a position to say what he might have done in this direction if he had devoted himself heartily to business. It is certain that to him the words idler and bungler do not apply, and that he had no desire to fork out his penny and pocket another’s shilling. On the contrary, it was to give, and not receive, that he desired. This trait of all large souls was manifested in a touching way when he was a small boy. There came one morning to the door of his father’s house a poor cripple, asking if little Charles was ill. When he was told that Charles was not ill, but had left the city, he burst into tears. Inquiry disclosed the fact that while on his way to school, and without the knowledge of others, the little fellow had every day given half of his lunch to the poor man.

Two events occurring to Fourier in early life led him to a train of thought which ended in his condemnation of the economic organization of society as a disastrous failure.

When he was five years of age he proved himself an enfant terrible by telling the truth in an innocent and childlike manner to some customers, about certain goods in his father’s shop; and for this he was punished.[84] The falsehood which his father or some person connected with the shop was accustomed to tell the customers appears to have been one of the kind common in some parts of the mercantile world, and which many might to-day regard as not very sinful—as not worse, at any rate, than the white lies of society.

The other incident occurred when he was nineteen years of age. He was connected with a business house in Marseilles, and was required to assist in throwing overboard rice, which his employer had kept for speculative purposes and had allowed to remain in the hold of a ship until it was spoiled. Prices were high, owing to a famine, and it was feared they would fall if the rice were thrown on the market. Young Fourier argued that a system which forced children to lie and men to allow food needed by hungry people to rot must be radically defective.

He began to elaborate a social scheme which should promote truth, honesty, economy of resources, and the development of our natural propensities. This became the one aim of his life. He constructed an ideal world, and in this he ever lived. Association with its imaginary creatures was his company; the fancy that he had benefited them was his consolation in adversity, and the unwavering belief that the creations of his brain were good, enabled him to persevere to the end. Yet at times he must have felt the severity of his struggle against self and the world. He had published[66] what he considered a weighty work, “La Théorie des Quatre Mouvements,” containing a prospectus and an outline of his system, five years before he found even one supporter. Think what that means![85] A reformer presents to mankind plans which he knows will save men from poverty, selfishness, hypocrisy, corruption, intrigue, deceit, crime, and all manner of misfortune and wickedness, and for five years his projects are not so much as noticed. Like Luther of old, he offers to maintain his theses against all comers, and no one thinks it worth while to engage in the controversy. The sufferings of humanity pain his large heart, but year after year slips by and brings not one sympathizer, not one helper, in his endeavors to save the world. It is easy to speak the words “five years,” but such a period has often seemed endless to those who have been obliged to live it.

Fourier’s first supporter was not such a one as he desired to promote his plans. Slowly others came, but he never had a large following. He wrote to Robert Owen, the English communist, but received no encouragement, while the Saint-Simonians treated him with contempt. He did not desire so much the adherence of personal disciples as men of property, who could enable him to make a trial of his scheme; for he thought the practical workings of one experiment would convince the world. He announced publicly that he would be at home every day at noon to meet any one disposed to furnish a million francs for an establishment based on the principles which he had published, and it is said that for twelve years he repaired to his house daily at the appointed hour. The philanthropist whom he awaited never came. Only one experiment was made in his lifetime. In 1832 a member of the Chamber of Deputies offered an estate near Versailles as the basis of an association, and the offer was accepted by a few converts. Fourier was never satisfied with the management, which[86] seems to have been defective, and the experiment soon failed.

Fourier died at the age of sixty-five, without having had the satisfaction of seeing any decided measures taken for the realization of his plans. He had, however, succeeded in gaining the appreciation and friendship of a number of followers, and he passed his last days in the enjoyment of every comfort.

His tombstone bears this characteristic inscription, expressive of his faith and his hope:

“Les attractions sont proportionnelles aux destinées,
La série distribue les harmonies.”

Fourier wrote three works of importance. The first is the one already mentioned, “La Théorie des Quatre Mouvements et des Destinées Générales”—“The Theory of the Four Movements and the General Destinies”—published in 1808. The four movements were social, animal, organic, and material, giving us society, animal life, organic life, and the material world. The object is to show that one law, that of attraction, governs them all. Newton discovered the law of one movement, the material; Fourier, that this same law of attraction pervaded all four movements. This discovery prepared the way for the most astonishing and most fortunate event which could happen to this globe—viz., “the sudden passage from social chaos to universal harmony.”[67] This work was considered incomplete by Fourier himself, and the fantastic notions and ridiculous prophecies contained in it were the subject of so much ridicule and criticism[87] that for a long time he would not mention the book, and was unwilling to hear others speak of it. When he was afterwards urged to republish it he refused, saying that it contained errors, and he should be obliged to rewrite it, to make it satisfactory to himself.[68]

Fourier’s chief work was his “Traité de l’Association Domestique Agricole ou Attraction Industrielle”—“Treatise on Domestic Rural Association or Industrial Attraction”—published subsequently in his complete works under the title of “La Théorie de l’Unité Universelle”[69]—“The Theory of Universal Unity.” The first edition appeared in 1822. The fourteen years between the appearance of the “Théorie des Quatre Mouvements” and the “Traité de l’Association” were passed in meditation, in revolving and evolving plans in his mind.

He worked out a complete philosophy in the “Traité.” His system not only included man and the earth, but the heavens above and the waters under the earth. His scientific notions were crude in the extreme. Nature was composed of eternal and indestructible principles—of God, active and moving principle; of matter, passive principle; and of justice or mathematics, the regulating principle of the universe, to which God himself was subject. One of the most curious features of Fourier’s system is the use he makes of figures. Pythagoras himself did not attach more importance to them. They revealed to him hitherto undisclosed secrets, so that he was able to give a precise answer to any conceivable question.[88] They enabled him to prophesy. He foresaw that the existence of the human race on this earth was to continue until it completed a period of eighty thousand years. This period is divided into four phases, two of them ascending phases of vibration or gradation, and two descending phases of vibration or degradation. The following table gives the four phases:

Infancy, or ascending incoherence, 1/16 = 5,000 years.
Growth, or ascending combination, 7/16 = 35,000 years.
Decline, or descending combination, 7/16 = 35,000 years.
Dotage, or descending incoherence, 1/16 = 5,000 years.
Total, 80,000 years.

The life of the race thus resembles the life of man. The earth is just progressing out of its infancy. It will have passed into the second phase when it has adopted Fourier’s plan of association. Its life up to the present time has been weak, childlike, and full of sufferings, but it is to receive reparation for this in seventy thousand happy years, surpassing in good fortune any previously described millennium. Lions will become servitors of man, and draw his carriage[89] from one end of France to another in a single day; while whales will pull his ships across the waters, provided he does not prefer to ride on the back of a seal. Sea-water will become a more delightful beverage than lemonade; while a bright light at the North Pole will not only render that part of the world inhabitable, but will diffuse an exquisite aroma over all the earth. Our bodies are part of the earth, and it suffers with us. When we adopt Fourier’s scheme we shall cease to suffer, and shall release the earth from its ills. Our souls are also parts of the great world-soul, and no part can be in pain without bringing grief to the whole. As St. Paul has it, “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together.”

Fourier believed, further, in the immortality of the soul, in its existence hereafter, and in its previous existence. He held to the transmigration of the soul, and in its frequent return to this earth to partake in the happy future of the human race. According to him, mind is always joined to matter so that it may ever enjoy material pleasures. When the mind leaves one body it unites itself to another, and always to a higher one. It develops continually. It passes also from world to world, though ever and anon returning to the earth. Our souls will have existed in one hundred and ten different worlds before the end of our planetary system. The planets themselves have immortal souls, which are also subject to transmigration. At the expiration of eighty thousand years the soul of the earth will take up its abode in another and more perfect body.

But it is not necessary to devote more time to these nonsensical speculations. It is not on their account that Fourier is remembered. He himself recognized[90] the fact that his chief merit was the production of his social system. On this point he says:

“But what do these accessories impart to the principal affair, which is the art of organizing combined industry, whence will issue a fourfold product; good morals; the accord of the three classes—rich, middle, and poor; the discontinuance of party quarrels, the cessation of pests, revolutions, and fiscal penury; and universal unity?

“My detractors condemn themselves in attacking me on account of my views touching the new sciences—cosmogony, psychogony, analogy—which lie outside of the domain of the theory of combined industry. Although it should prove true that these new sciences are erroneous and foolish,[71] it does not remain less certain that I am the first and the only one who has presented a plan for associating inequalities and for quadrupling the products of industry in employing such passions, characters, and instincts as nature has given us. This is the only point upon which people ought to fix their attention, and not upon sciences which have only been announced.”

The “Traité de l’Association” is prolix and tedious. It abounds in meaningless combinations of figures, letters, and hieroglyphics. New and strange words, coined without necessity, often render the thoughts difficult to understand. The wheat which it undoubtedly contains is buried beneath such an immense pile of chaff that it is too likely to be overlooked. Fortunately, Fourier has given us a better and more condensed exposition of his doctrine in the “Nouveau[91] Monde Industriel et Sociétaire”—“The New Industrial and Social World”—published in 1829,[72] and the latest of his more important works.

The central idea of Fourier’s social scheme is association. The all-pervading attraction which he discovered draws man to man and reveals the will of God. It is passionate attraction—attraction passionnelle. It urges men to union. This law of attraction is universal and eternal, but men have thrown obstacles in its way so that it has not had free course. Consequently, we have been driven into wrong and abnormal paths. When we return to right ways—when we follow the directions given us by attraction, as indicated in our twelve passions or desires—universal harmony will again reign. Economic goods—an indispensable condition of human development—will be obtained in abundance. Products will be increased many fold, owing, first, to the operation of the passion to labor and to benefit society; secondly, to the economy of associated effort.

Since happiness and misery depend upon the latitude allowed our passions—our propensities—it is necessary to enumerate these. They are divided into three classes—the one class tending to luxe, luxisme, luxury; the second tending to groups; the third to series. By luxe is meant the gratification of the desires of the five senses—hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling—each one constituting a passion. These are sensual in the original sense of the word, or sensitive. Four passions tend to groups—viz., amity or friendship, love, paternity or the family feeling (familism), and ambition. These are affective.[92] The three remaining passions are distributive, and belong to the series. They are the passions called cabaliste, papillonne, and composite. The passion cabaliste is the desire for intrigue, for planning and contriving. It is strong in women and the ambitious. In itself it would tend to destroy the unity of social life, as would also the passion papillonne, or alternante (the love of change). These are, however, harmonized by the passion composite (the desire of union). All twelve passions unite together into the one mighty, all-controlling impulse, called unitéisme, which is the love felt for others united in society, and is a passion unknown in civilization. It is rather difficult for the uninitiated to see how this differs from the passion composite, unless it be in strength. The following table serves to make the relations of the passions clearer:[73]

Seeing Passions tending (pertaining) to luxury (sensual or sensitive). Unitéisme.
Amity Passions tending to groups (affective).
Cabaliste Passions tending to series (distributive).
Papillonne, or alternante

A social organization must be formed which will allow free play to our passions, so that they may combine[93] harmoniously. Our present society, called civilization,[74] does not, and cannot, do this. It is a system of oppression and repression, and is necessarily a frightful discord. Harmony can only be found in combinations of suitable numbers in communities known as phalanxes, and occupying buildings called phalansteries. Each phalanx is a unit, a great family, and dwells in a single building, a phalanstery. What is it that determines the proper number for a single phalanx? It is again the twelve passions of man. These can be combined in eight hundred and twenty different ways in as many individuals, and no possible combination ought to be unrepresented in the workers of any phalanx, or there will be a lack of perfect harmony. But in every community there will be found old men, infants, and those disabled on account of illness or accident. Provision must also be made for absences. There ought not, then, to be less than fifteen or sixteen hundred members in a phalanx, though four hundred is mentioned as a possible but undesirable minimum. Eighteen hundred to two thousand members are recommended. A larger number would produce discord, and is, therefore, inadmissible. But a further arrangement is necessary. These different characters thrown together helter-skelter would no more produce harmony than it would for one blindfolded to draw from a bag two thousand combinations of notes for the piano and play them in the order in which they were drawn. On the contrary, they must be ordered intelligently in series, the series combined[94] into groups, and the groups united into the phalanx. Those having similar tastes form a series, which must consist of some seven, eight, or nine members. Several series having related tastes and desires unite in a group. A group undertakes some one kind of labor, as the care of fruit-trees, and a series concerns itself with one particular branch of the labor of a group, as the care of apple-trees.

All labor becomes pleasant to man, as nature meant it should be. It is only when he is forced to do a kind which he does not like, or is obliged to over-work, that productive exertion becomes repulsive. This is avoided in the phalanxes, as each one is allowed to follow his own bent, being at perfect liberty to join any group of laborers or to change from group to group as he may see fit. In fact, the desire for change—the passion papillonne, or alternante—is so strong that at the expiration of two hours a change is usually made from one kind of labor to another. Work of this character becomes play, and children like it, while men are as fond of it as of athletic sports. We now discover men undergoing severe physical exertion for the sake of excelling in running, swimming, wrestling, rowing, etc. There will spring up a similar rivalry between groups of cultivators in the phalanxes. One set of laborers will endeavor to obtain more useful products from ten or one hundred acres than another similar group from the same extent of land of like quality. We find such a rivalry at present among cultivators of the soil, and it might undoubtedly be increased in organizations such as Fourier described. Every fall you see it reported in local papers that farmer A has raised, let us say, four hundred bushels of oats from ten acres; this at once[95] provokes B to inform the world that his ten acres yielded five hundred bushels. C may report five hundred and fifty bushels in the coming year. This demonstrates the existence of a rivalry of a valuable kind, of which much might be made. But Fourier pushed things to an extreme when he thought that the productiveness of labor might thereby be increased fourfold, or even fivefold. He held that a man could produce enough under his social régime from his eighteenth to twenty-eighth year, so that he could pass the remainder of his life in elegant leisure. He maintained, too, that if England should introduce his socialistic phalanxes her labor would become so productive that she could pay off her national debt in six months by the sale of hens’ eggs. This is what he says on this point: “It is not by millions, but by billions, that we shall value the product of small objects which are to-day despised. It is now the turn of eggs to play a grand rôle, and resolve a problem before which those learned in European finance have grown pale. They only know how to increase public indebtedness. We are going to extinguish the colossal English debt on a fixed day with half of the eggs produced during a single year. We shall not lay violent hands on a single fowl, and the work of accomplishing our purpose, instead of being burdensome, will be an amusement for the globe.

“Let us make an arithmetical calculation. We wish to pay a debt of twenty-five billions during the year 1835, with hen’s eggs.

“Let us estimate, to begin with, the real value of these eggs. I appraise them at ten sous or half a franc a dozen, when they are guaranteed fresh and of a good size, like those of the hens of Caux....


“Valuing at ten sous a dozen the guaranteed good, large, and fresh eggs of fowls, nourished with all the resources of art, we should have to count upon fifty billions of dozens of eggs in order to extinguish in a single year the English debt.

“The hen, the most precious of fowls, is a truly cosmopolitan bird. With suitable care she becomes acclimated everywhere. She flourishes on the sands of Egypt and among the glaciers of the North.

“I will prove that the hennery of one phalanx ought to contain at least 10,000 hens, not including the pullets, twenty times as numerous.

“Let us estimate that a hen lays 200 eggs a year. She ought not, perhaps, to be expected to do this under our present social régime, but well cared-for in a socialistic phalanx she could do rather more....

“Let us add up, and, after the manner of good housewives, neglect fractions.... Let us suppose that the hennery of each phalanx contains 12,000 hens, instead of 10,000.

“One thousand dozens of eggs at half a franc the dozen would amount to 500 francs. Multiplying this by 200, we would have from each phalanx a product valued at 100,000 francs. We must now multiply this by 600,000, the number of phalanxes, which gives a total product of 60,000,000,000.

“Now, as we have estimated the number of hens at 12,000 for each phalanx, in order to facilitate the calculation, it will be necessary to deduct one sixth from our product, which will leave 50,000,000,000. Divide this by two, and the quotient is 25,000,000,000, precisely the amount of the English debt expressed in round numbers.”—Q. E. D.

Of course, such amusing and ridiculous passages in[97] Fourier’s writings do not give us any sufficient ground for condemning the cardinal principles of Fourierism.

Besides the productivity of labor by a rivalry between producers, the socialistic phalanx will avoid the waste of goods caused by industrial and commercial competition. Twenty men are often employed to do what three or four might accomplish with ease, were the labor properly organized. Think of the enormous loss to society of labor and capital due to a superfluity of retail shops all over a great country like the United States! It may not have occurred to some that whenever capital, consisting of economic goods, like houses, buildings, implements, etc., is not fully employed, or whenever men are waiting for work, economic power is being wasted. This view of the effects of competition ought to influence our legislators more than it does. Let us take the case of two parallel railroads, where one might do all the business. Thousands of acres of land are needlessly and forever removed from agricultural purposes, thousands of tons of iron and steel are diverted from other uses, the labor of hundreds of men is permanently wasted—in short, the millions sunk in the enterprise in the first place, together with the cost of maintaining and working it, are forever lost to the society. Competition thus often makes it cost far more to do a given amount of business than it would otherwise. If Fourierism could rid us of the evils of free competition without depriving us of the benefits we derive from it, it would, indeed, be in so far a great blessing to the world. Fourier felt positive that it could, but he has never succeeded in convincing a large number to put faith in his bright promises.

The economy of associated effort and associated life[98] is one of the leading factors which will increase the wealth of man. Every square league of land has its one phalanstery occupied by a phalanx, consisting of some four hundred families. It costs no more to build a palace for all these families than it would to construct four hundred separate and uncomfortable cottages. While each family has its separate rooms, cooking is carried on in common, and great saving is thereby secured. A fire to cook four hundred dinners may not cost ten times as much as a fire to cook two, while it requires scarcely a greater exertion to watch a large roast than a small one. In the housing of animals, foods, implements, etc., a similar economy is secured. A large number working together afford every opportunity for a fruitful combination and division of labor. Other economies will be effected by the suppression of useless classes. In the new society there will be no soldiers of destruction, no policemen, agents of a discordant social régime, no criminals and lawyers, both products of civilization, of disharmony; finally, no metaphysicians and no political economists. Agriculture is the leading occupation, while commerce and manufacturing industry are reduced to a minimum. Products are conveniently exchanged among members of a commune, while phalanx exchanges superfluities with phalanx and nation with nation in the most economical manner.

Fourier’s socialistic system is not so pure a form of socialism as that of Saint-Simon, inasmuch as he retained private capital and, temporarily at least, inheritance. The division of products takes place in this wise: A certain minimum—a very generous one—is set apart for each member of the commune, and the enormous surplus is divided between labor, capital,[99] and talent—five twelfths going to labor, four twelfths to capital, and three twelfths to talent. The division is made by the phalanxes through the agency of officers whom they elect. The maxim is not labor according to capacity and reward according to services, as with the Saint-Simonians, but labor according to capacity and reward in proportion to exertion, talent, and capital. Labor is divided into three classes—necessary, useful, and agreeable—the highest reward accruing to the first and the smallest to the last division, in accordance with the principles of equity.

Government—for which, however, there seems to be little need—is republican. Officers are elected. The chief of a phalanx is a unarch. The next highest officer is at the head of three or four phalanxes, and is called a duarch. Triarchs, tetrarchs, pentarchs, etc., follow; while the highest officer of the world is the omniarch, who dwells at Constantinople, the capital of the world.

While there are grades in society, the rich and powerful are so animated by the spirit of association—unitéisme—that the differences give no offence. Familism, the love of those nearest and dearest, loses its excluding character. The law of social attraction, “while it conserves the ties and affections of the family, will destroy its exclusive interests. Association will mingle it to such an extent with the great communal or phalansterian family that every narrow affection will disappear, that it will find its own interest in that of all, and will attach it sincerely and passionately to the public concern (chose publique).”[75]


Fourier favored the so-called emancipation of woman, and assigned her a high rank in society. He found the economic, legal, and social position of woman at any given period, or in any country, an exact measure of the true civilization of said period or country. At the same time he was obliged to allow many things which good men generally regard as degrading to woman, as he started from the belief that all natural desires and propensities were good. It is much to be feared that he would practically have abolished marriage and the family, as we now understand these institutions. It is altogether probable that Fourier would have been more successful in his propaganda had his ideas in every respect been more in consonance with the teachings of Christian morality.

Fourier was naturally a man of peace. Holding, as he did, that a single experiment would convince the world that his system of phalanxes was the only correct organization, he could not consistently advocate a violent revolution. He believed that the millennium was to dawn in a few years, even within a shorter period than ten years. Once he advised his followers not to purchase real property, as the progress of Fourierism would soon cause it to depreciate in value. His disciples have been disappointed in their hope that men would speedily accept the principles of their master, but they have ever opposed violence.

Kaufmann, in his “Schäffle’s Socialism,” thus sums up the chief merits of Fourier’s teachings: “There is a good deal of truth in some of his critical remarks. The importance of co-operative production has been recognized chiefly in consequence of his first pointing out the economical benefits of the association. The[101] narrow-minded fear of wholesale trade, and machinery, too, was in a measure dispelled by Fourier’s unqualified recognition of their value. His remarks on the unnecessary hardships of labor and the evil consequences of excessive toil have had their influence on modern factory-laws for the protection of labor and the shortening of the labor hours. Sanitary reforms, and improvements of the laborer’s homestead, which have become the question of the hour, owe not a little of their origin to the spread of Fourier’s ideas.”

Fourier’s first adherent was Just Muiron, who attached himself to the master in 1813, and remained a faithful follower for many years. He wrote two works,[76] in which he exhibited the vices of our existing industrial society and explained the metaphysical principles of Fourierism. Gradually others joined the movement, of whom the most important was Victor Considerant, the author of “La Destinée Sociale, Exposition Élémentaire, Complète de la Théorie Sociétaire”—“Social Destiny, a Complete Elementary Exposition of the Social Theory”—published in the years 1834-38, in three volumes, and in a new edition, in 1851, in two volumes. This is the ablest presentation of the doctrine, and has become, as another writer has said, the text-book of the school. Among other members of note may be mentioned Baudet-Dulary, the deputy who, in 1832, offered an estate for an experimental association; Madame Gatti de Gammond, author of the best short and popular exposition of[102] Fourierism;[77] Madame Clarisse Vigoureux, a wealthy and talented lady;[78] Charles Pellarin, the able biographer of his master;[79] finally, Jules le Chevalier, a former Saint-Simonian, and author of a Fourieristic work of importance.[80] When the Saint-Simonians separated, a considerable number of them passed over to Fourierism. It will be seen that the new doctrine lacked neither wealth nor ability. Its numbers were at first small, but after the death of Fourier the school received large accessions of adherents. The disciples published a paper, which, under various names,[81] and with breaks in its appearance, was published as a weekly, monthly, and daily. The disciples finally formed “The Society for the Propagation and Realization of the Theory of Fourier”—“La Société pour la Propagation et pour la Réalisation de la Théorie de Fourier”—which is probably still alive. At any rate, a writer[82] stated in 1872 that it was then in existence, in possession of a capital of seven hundred thousand francs, and was still determined to labor for the good cause. All the strictly Fourieristic experiments tried in France thus far have failed. Possibly another trial[103] may be more successful. At present the school embraces only a small number of peaceful socialists, living mostly in Paris. Victor Considerant, now seventy-five years old, is among these.

One of the best fruits which Fourier’s teachings have borne may be found in a social community at Guise, in France, where capital and labor are associated much after his plans, although all objectionable and immoral elements appear to have been left out. The founder is Jean Godin, a wealthy manufacturer, and a Fourierist with modified views, who has used his wealth to benefit his own laborers directly and immediately, by providing them with comfortable homes, amusements, instruction, etc., and laborers, as a class, indirectly and remotely, by paving the way for a higher form of social life, a certain kind of co-operation. He himself says of the Familistère at Guise, as the building in which the community lives is called, that it “is the first example of a capital resolutely employed under a single direction, with the view of uniting in one place all the things necessary to the life of a large number of working families; it is the first example of an administration concentrating operations so diverse in order that the results may accrue to the greatest good of the families, removing thus useless intermediaries: all this in preserving, by an economic organization, the capital engaged in the enterprise.”[83]

While the community resembles a phalanx, as described by Fourier, in many respects, it also differs from it in many others. It resembles it in its abode, constructed much like a phalanstery, and with a large[104] share of the elegance and comfort so glowingly pictured by Fourier. It resembles it also in securing economy and increased comfort by associated effort. Further resemblance is found in the care for the children, the sick, the aged, and the disabled, in the provision for education and recreation, and in the attempt to realize a condition of things fitting those who believe in the brotherhood of man. Differences are found in the large share of power which M. Godin has reserved for himself, the removal of obviously ridiculous and fantastic contrivances, and in the absence altogether of agriculture, which Fourier considered the chief occupation of regenerated society. The establishment consists of iron, copper, sugar, and chiccory factories. M. Godin regrets that agriculture has not been included in the pursuits, but it does not seem to have been found practicable.

The social body consists of about fifteen hundred members. The familistère, or social palace in which they live, is thus described: it is “‘an immense brick edifice in the form of three parallelograms,’ each of which encloses an interior court, covered with a glass roof and paved with cement. The building is four stories high. The central parallelogram, or rectangle, is two hundred and eleven feet front and one hundred and thirty feet deep.... The stores of the association ... on the lowest story of the central portion of the building ... contain whatever is necessary for ordinary need and comfort, without reference to luxuries.... ‘In the social palace fifteen hundred persons can see each other go to their daily domestic occupations, reunite in public places, go to market or shopping, under covered galleries, without traversing more than two hundred yards, and, as comfortably[105] in one kind of weather as in another.’”[84] There is also a large nursery, where children are taught “to associate equitably with one another.” They are brought there by the mothers at about ten in the morning, and are taken back to the family apartments between five and six in the afternoon. Many pleasant things are connected with the life in this social palace, as it is called. There are numerous concerts, and a theatre furnishes opportunity for theatricals. Even a billiard-room is provided for the amusement of the members. Two festivals are celebrated yearly—“The Festival of Labor,” in May, and the “Festival of the Children,” in September.[85]

The following are a few extracts from the declaration of principles with which their “laws” open:

“V. It is the essential duty of society and of every individual so to regulate their conduct as to produce the greatest possible benefits to humanity, and to make this the constant object of all their thoughts, words, and actions.

“VI. The perception of this duty has dictated to the sages of all time the following precepts:

“‘To love others as one’s self.’

“‘To act towards others as you would wish that they should act towards you.’

“‘To make our abilities conduce to the perfection of our existence and that of others.’ ...

“‘To unite together and give support to one another.’

“VII.... The laws of universal order, and especially the law of human progress, place at the disposal of men—


“The resources of nature and those of the public property.

“Labor and intelligence.

“Capital or accumulated labor.

“VIII. It is for the good of all humanity that nature vivifies and produces everything useful to human life, and it is, without doubt, for the benefit of all, that each generation should transmit to its successors its acquired knowledge.

“IX. By giving existence to man, God accords to him a right to what is necessary for him in the resources which nature every day affords to humanity, as well as the right to profit by the progress of society.

“XI. (The) perpetual and gratuitous assistance from nature proves that man, by the very fact of his birth, acquires, and should never lose, a certain degree of natural right in the wealth that is produced.

“Hence it follows that the weak have the right to enjoy what nature and the public property place at the disposal of men.

“And that it is the duty of the strong to leave to the weak a just share of the general product.”[86]

The products are divided according to this socialistic—not communistic—scheme between labor and capital. It has existed upwards of twenty years thus far, and has prospered. This may have been due to the talent of M. Godin, its founder. Whether it will be able to maintain its existence after his death remains to be seen.[87]

M. Godin has described his views on social problems and his endeavors to benefit the laborers in a valuable work entitled “Solutions Sociales,” which should be read carefully by those who contemplate founding co-operative or other establishments for the benefit of the masses.

Fourierism was brought to America about 1840, and soon found numerous advocates, including many[107] names of which America is proud. Prominent among the leaders were Albert Brisbane,[88] the head of the movement, Horace Greeley, and Charles A. Dana. In his “History of American Socialisms,” Mr. Noyes mentions thirty-four experiments made by Fourierists in this country, all of which failed for some reason or other. The most remarkable of these experiments was Brook Farm. At first it was not called a phalanx, although from the start it combined many of the features of Fourierism, but it shortly fell in line and became a Fourieristic experiment. When it is mentioned that its leading spirits were George Ripley, Charles A. Dana, Margaret Fuller, and others of like character, it is needless to add that its moral basis was sound. Others, more or less connected with the experiment, were George William Curtis, Horace Greeley, Dr. Channing, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Its exceedingly interesting and pathetic history is to be found in Frothingham’s “George Ripley.”[89]



Saint-Simon and Fourier are first among French socialists. In the history of society no socialistic systems occupy a higher rank than those to which they gave their names. France has, however, produced two other men who have taken positions as leaders in social movements. If Saint-Simon and Fourier take precedence over them in the hierarchy of socialists, there is certainly no Frenchman who can dispute their right to the next highest places. They were chiefs after Saint-Simonism and Fourierism had begun to wane and before German socialism had begun to exist. These two men were Louis Blanc and Proudhon, and it is necessary to devote a few words to them before passing over to a very brief consideration of the latest phases of French socialism.

Saint-Simon and Fourier were social reformers only. They divorced economic reform from politics. They did not seek to use the existing political machinery of society as a means to their ends. They appealed to religious fervor, to brotherly love, to self-interest, and to passionate attraction, and regarded these as quite sufficient moving and organizing forces. Although these men accomplished much, it was very little in proportion to their hopes and expectations. What they did bring to pass did not come precisely[109] in the way they wished it. To all intents and purposes the great social problem seemed as far from solution as ever. The next step in the development of socialism was its connection with politics. A man was needed who should recognize the intimate relation between political and social life, and should take the lead in the attempt to use the power of the one to regenerate the other. Louis Blanc was the one destined to lead socialism into this way. This is his true significance. He was the first state socialist. He was a practical politician of too much influence to make it possible to ignore him, but politics were always a means, never an end. Louis Blanc is thus the connecting link between the older socialism, which was in many respects superstitious, absurd, and fantastical, and the newer, which is sceptical, hard, and practical.

Louis Blanc, journalist, author, politician, socialist, was born in Madrid, Spain, October 28, 1813. His parents were French people, who were living temporarily in Madrid, as his father had been appointed General Inspector of Finance under Joseph Bonaparte. They naturally left Spain soon after this and Louis Blanc passed his early years in Corsica, his mother’s native land. He studied in the College at Rodez, and went to Paris about 1830 to continue his studies. As the revolution had ruined his father, Louis appears for some time to have been obliged to live in cramped circumstances. He assisted himself at first by copying and teaching, but he soon began to make his influence as a writer felt. He became one of the editors of Le Bon Sens in 1834, was made editor-in-chief in 1837, and resigned in 1838, owing to a difference of views between him and the proprietors of the journal, regarding the railway question, they holding[110] to the system of private railways while he favored state railways. He also contributed at the same time to the National, the Revue Républicaine and other papers, all of which were republican or radical periodicals. In 1839 he founded the Revue du Progrès, which became the organ of the most advanced democrats, and it was in this paper that his chief socialistic work, “Organisation du Travail”—“Organization of Labor”—appeared in 1840. It was published afterwards in book-form, and has achieved a world-wide fame. The ninth edition appeared in 1850. The first volume of his most important historical work, the “Histoire de Dix Ans”—“History of the Ten Years” (1830-40)—appeared in 1841. It was completed in sixteen volumes[90] in 1844. A twelfth edition was published in Paris in 1874, in five volumes. This is one of the most remarkable of histories. Few literary works have exercised a greater influence in shaping events. It held up the meanness, littleness, and narrowness of the reign of Louis Philippe to public gaze and contributed not a little to the overthrow of that monarch. It further contains a better account of the development of socialism during that period than can be obtained elsewhere. Louis Blanc was an actor in the events of the ten years described, and understood their import. He saw the separation growing ever wider and wider between the bourgeoisie and the fourth estate, and the political influence which the latter was beginning to acquire, and appreciated the significance of this development as no other writer. His work has consequently become an indispensable source of information regarding the[111] reign of Louis Philippe. Next to the “History of the Ten Years” his leading historical work is the “History of the French Revolution”—“Histoire de la Révolution Française,” published in twelve volumes[91] in the years 1847-62. A second edition bears the date 1864-70. This work treats of a period which he did not understand so well as his own age. Viewing the events described through the eyes of a nineteenth century socialist, he does not always appreciate the underlying spirit. Nevertheless the work is a noteworthy one. “Charles Sumner used to say that the first volume was one of those profoundly philosophical studies which mark an epoch in literature and in the development of human intelligence.”[92] Another writer says of this history: “By many eminent judges this has been considered the most satisfactory history of the revolution yet produced. It gives evidence of careful and ingenious research, abounds in most striking delineations of character, and is written with great energy and brilliancy of style. The portraiture of Robespierre, and the description of events leading to his fall, are among the most satisfactory accounts of the subject ever presented.”[93]

Louis Blanc was prominent in the Revolution of 1848. He was made a member of the Provisional Government in February, 1848, and with his colleagues, Albert, a workman, and Ledru-Rollin, a former member of the assembly, attempted to commit the government to the introduction of a large number of socialistic measures. The majority were, however, opposed to him, and he did not meet with a great measure of[112] success, although the droit au travail was proclaimed. This is the technical term for the right of laborers to demand work from the government if they cannot find it elsewhere.[94] He demanded the creation of a ministry of labor and progress—ministère du travail et du progrès—which should concern itself with the interests of labor. Unable to obtain the consent of the majority of his colleagues, Louis Blanc tendered his resignation, but was finally induced to withdraw it and content himself with the presidency of a powerless commission appointed to meet in the Luxembourg and debate. That was all—debate. But what does debate without authority signify in a revolution? It means the loss of precious time and of all real influence. It is contemptible and ridiculous in the eyes of the masses at such times. Louis Blanc was lost when he consented to the formation of a debating club as a substitute for a ministère du progrès. This was the purpose of the government. They made a pretext of carrying out what was implied in the droit au travail by the erection of national workshops—ateliers nationaux. The real purpose of the ministers was the discredit of Louis Blanc, who had proposed ateliers sociaux in his “Organisation du Travail.” They planned the foundation of sham national workshops, which should fail and demonstrate the impracticability of his scheme, and they carried out the programme to the letter. M. Marie, the Minister of Public Works, intrusted the management of the ateliers to Émile Thomas, one of Louis Blanc’s worst enemies, informing Thomas that[113] “it was the well-formed intention of the government to try this experiment of the commission of government for laborers; that in itself it could not fail to have good results, because it would demonstrate to the laborers the emptiness and falseness of these inapplicable theories and cause them to perceive the disastrous consequences flowing therefrom for themselves, and would so discredit Louis Blanc in their eyes that he should forever cease to be a danger.”[95] The false reports which were continually being circulated concerning the ateliers nationaux, especially their unjust attribution to him, were a constant source of annoyance to Louis Blanc. It is probable, however, that these falsehoods have done more harm to the defenders of law and order than to the socialists. The true state of the case is now generally known, and adds bitterness to the minds of French and German laborers. The continual circulation of the falsehood that Louis Blanc had tried his ateliers sociaux and they had failed, enabled Lassalle to begin an account of them with the startling phrase: “Die Lüge ist eine europäische Macht”—“Lying is one of the great powers of Europe.”[96]

Louis Blanc’s power was of short duration. Although he sacrificed his popularity with the laborers in his endeavors to maintain peace and order, he was accused of participation in their rising of May 15, and[114] fled to Belgium, thence to England, where he lived until the overthrow of Napoleon III., in 1870. Louis Blanc was, on the whole, well received in England, and maintained himself by literary work of various kinds. He wrote an account of the Revolution of 1848, which was published in two volumes, in 1870, in Paris. He was the English correspondent for the great French newspaper Le Temps. His letters, interesting and valuable essays on life in England, were published in four volumes in 1866 and 1867, in Paris, and in an English translation in London in the same years.[97]

The 8th of September, 1870, witnessed his return to France, where he labored for the Government of the National Defence. He was elected to the National Assembly, February 8, 1871, and took his place on the extreme Left. During the rising of the Commune of Paris he again lost popularity with laborers of revolutionary sympathies, by opposing the insurrection and taking the part of the Government of Versailles. The law of March 14, 1872, directed against the International Workingmen’s Association, even found in him a supporter, although its severity is certainly extreme. It was under this law that Prince Krapotkine was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.

After his return to Paris Louis Blanc published a work on questions of the time, entitled “Questions d’Aujourd’hui et de Demain.”[98] He continued to advocate quietly his doctrines in behalf of oppressed[115] humanity, and had so gained in public estimation that upon his death, on the 6th of December, 1882, in Cannes, France, the Chamber of Deputies voted him the honor of a state funeral.[99]

Louis Blanc’s is a character which it is difficult to resist loving, so frank, generous, simple, and whole-souled was he. If he erred, it was largely because he attributed to others that warmth and devotion for common interests which he experienced, and that high point of honor which guided him. His tender solicitude and affection for his wife was beautiful, while his love for his brother Charles, the writer on art, has been celebrated far and wide. It is even said that his diminutive size was due to his sacrifices in behalf of the younger brother, to whom he gave the largest share of the lunch which they carried to school. A sympathetic chord seemed to connect them, for when Charles was ill in the summer of 1882, Louis, to whom the news had not been communicated, said to his friends, “Charles is ill: he is in danger.” So it proved, for Charles soon died. The affliction was a heavy blow to the surviving brother, and probably hastened his own death, which happened only a few months later. “Charles Blanc was a kind of complement to Louis. The delicacy of his (Charles’s) intellectual nature was a source of ever-new delight to the politician and man of the people, whose heart throbbed for all the woes and wants of humanity, and whose life was devoted to action rather than to the contemplation of art.”[100] This intimate affection had been noticed long before, and Alexander Dumas had them in mind when[116] he wrote his “Les Frères Corses”—“The Corsican Brothers.”

Louis’s purity of character and his honesty of purpose were remarked by every acquaintance. Mr. Smalley[101] applies to him what Emerson said of Charles Sumner: “He was the whitest soul I ever knew:” and continues: “If ever a man lived free from stain, it was he who has just died. All his life long the fierce light of passionate political and still more passionate social controversies beat upon him. He made innumerable enemies; he was the object of innumerable calumnies. Not one of his enemies hated the man, not one of the calumnies touched his private worth.” Karl Blind, his friend, thus describes his personal appearance: “A very small, but elegantly formed man; of almost Napoleonic features, as may be common to many Corsicans; entirely beardless, which was rare in the revolutionary days. The glance of his dark, prominent eyes, brilliant, almost sparkling; his thick, dark-brown hair, long and straight; the color of his countenance rather dark. Notwithstanding his short figure—for he was not taller than Thiers—an impressive appearance.”[102]

An examination of Louis Blanc’s social philosophy is best begun by asking the question: what is in his opinion the aim of life? The answer to it is the starting-point from which all his arguments proceed. Louis Blanc finds the purpose of human existence to be happiness and development. Any acceptable, any tolerable organization of society must make both possible for every single human being. While development[117] may come first, “it is repugnant to reason to admit in the theory of progress that humanity ought forever to be a victim of I do not know what strange and terrible combat between the flesh and the spirit.”[103] But what does development imply? It signifies that every one should enjoy precisely those means which are required for his largest mental, moral, and physical growth; or, to express it in a word, for the perfection of his personality. These requirements are for each individual his needs. The next question we have to ask is this: Does our present society guarantee to every member of it his needs? If it does not, it must be condemned. Obviously it does not. It is a war of all against all, a bellum omnium contra omnes. It is a society whose fundamental principle is competition, and competition means universal warfare. Every man’s hand is against his brother. Individualism reigns, the principle of which is that, “taking man outside of society, it renders him the sole and exclusive judge of that which surrounds him, gives him an exalted sentiment of his rights without indicating to him his duties, abandons him to his own powers, and proclaims laissez-faire as the only rule of government.”[104] The result of this is want and misery, rendering the fulfilment of his destiny impossible to man. This must be corrected by a new organization of labor, which, abandoning individualism, private property, and private competition, the fundamentals of existing society, shall adopt fraternity as its controlling principle. “Fraternity means that we are all common members (membres solidaires) of one great family;[118] that society, the work of man, ought to be organized on the model of the human body, the work of God; and found the power of governing upon persuasion, upon the voluntary consent of the hearts of the governed.”[105]

Let it not be objected that our aim, the abolition of misery, is materialistic. “The most exalted spiritualism reposes on the suppression of misery. Who does not know it? Misery restrains the intelligence of man in darkness, in confining education within shameful limits. Misery counsels always the sacrifice of personal dignity and almost always demands it. Misery places him whose character is independent in a position of dependence, so as to conceal a new torment in a virtue and to change into gall what there is of nobility in his blood. If misery creates long-suffering, it engenders also crime.... It makes slaves; it makes the greater part of thieves, assassins and prostitutes.”[106] The work before us is then eminently moral. It is the work which God would have us do. In Louis Blanc’s own words: “In demanding that the right to live should be regulated, should be guaranteed, one does much more than demand that millions of unhappy beings should be rescued from the oppression of force or of chance; one embraces, in its highest generalization and in its most profound signification, the cause of humanity; one greets the Creator in his labor. Whenever the certainty of being able to live by one’s labor does not result from the essence of social institutions, iniquity reigns.” The first step then is the contrivance of means which shall[119] guarantee to every one the certainty of finding work i.e., the droit au travail. This must be accomplished by the erection on the part of the state of social workshops, ateliers sociaux, “destined to replace gradually and without shocks individual ateliers.”[107] Violence of every kind is deprecated as injurious, as productive of ruin.[108] The poor cannot now combine and produce for themselves without the intervention of capitalists, because they lack the instruments of labor. It is the function of the state to furnish these and thus become the banker of the poor. It must found the ateliers sociaux, pass laws for their government, watch over the administration of these laws as of other laws, and do this for the profit of all.[109] For the first year only the state regulates the “hierarchy of functions,” that is to say, assigns to each one his place in accordance with his ability, his faculties. After the expiration of the first year the laborers will soon become acquainted with each other, and will then elect their own chiefs.[110] This all requires funds. Whence are they to come? The state is to grant its credit in aid of the ateliers, and for this credit no interest is to be charged; it is to be gratuitous. The state will repay the loans by general taxation and by the revenues derived from the management of railways, which must become public property, and from other public undertakings, as mines, insurances, and banking.[111]

The absorption of private industry will be gradual. The public ateliers will all be united from the start[120] into a grand federation, and will form a mutual insurance company, so that the losses of one may be made good by the profits of others. One part of all profits will be set aside for this purpose.[112] Capitalists will at once be invited to join these associations, and will be paid interest on whatever capital they put into the ateliers, besides receiving their wages like other laborers. While no one is to be forced by law to join the social workshops, the competition of the ateliers sociaux, working without the payment of interest and with all the advantages of a vast combination, will before long become so severe that all private employers will be glad to fall in line to save themselves from ruin. Then the socialistic state will have been formed. It is for the interest of the rich as well as the poor. They will then enjoy safety, tranquillity and the satisfaction of observing universal happiness, whereas they are now harassed by all sorts of dangers and anxieties, born of individualism and private competition.[113]

We have finally to inquire what is the principle in accordance with which functions (positions, offices) and remuneration are distributed among the workers in the ateliers sociaux? What is the ideal of social justice?

First, as to the social hierarchy, or social rank. Faculties, powers, abilities, are of almost infinite variety in man. They are, however, all talents meant to be used for others. Have I great strength? In giving it to me God measured thereby my obligations to society. The same holds regarding mental acumen, profundity of thought, poetic imagination, a fine voice,[121] etc. We must then be so placed that we can use to the full our capacities. These are the measure of our rank in the ordering of society. “Man has received of nature certain faculties—faculties of loving, of knowing, of acting. But these have by no means been given him in order that he should exercise them solitarily; they are but the supreme indication of that which each one owes to the society of which he is a member; and this indication each one bears written in his organization in letters of fire. If you are twice as strong as your neighbor it is a proof that nature has destined you to bear a double burden.[114] If your intelligence is superior, it is a sign that your mission is to scatter about you more light. Weakness is a creditor of strength; ignorance of learning. The more a man can (peut), the more he ought (doit); and this is the meaning of those beautiful words of the gospel: ‘Whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant.’ Whence the axiom, From every one according to his faculties; that is one’s duty.”[115]

But this is only one half of the formula of ideal justice. It shows what each is to give. What is each to receive? We saw that the Saint-Simonians constructed their social hierarchy in accordance with capacity. They added, however, that reward must be proportioned to works. “To each one according to his capacity, to each capacity according to its works.” But is that a high moral standard? Ought we to complete our formula in that way? Is it not selfish and hard? Would it not condemn the weak and feeble to extinction? Has not God, in our wants,[122] our needs, given us a different indication? So thought Louis Blanc. Not equality, but needs, are to determine the distribution of products. Each one must have whatever he truly needs, in so far and in proportion as the means of society will admit it. “All men are not equal in physical force, in intelligence; all have not the same tastes, the same inclinations, the same aptitudes, any more than they have the same visage or the same figure; but it is just, it is in the general interest, it is in conformity with the principle of solidarity, established in accordance with the laws of nature, that each one should be placed in a condition to derive the greatest possible advantage from his faculties in so far as this can be done with due regard to others, and to satisfy as completely as possible, without injuring others, the needs which nature has given him. Thus there is no health and vigor in the human body unless each member receives that which is able to preserve it from pain and to enable it to accomplish properly its peculiar function. Equality, then, is only proportionality, and it exists in a true manner only when each one in accordance with the law written in some shape in his organization by God himself, produces according to his faculties and consumes according to his wants.”[116] Here we have the formula of perfect justice complete.

We see, then, that Louis Blanc was not an égalitaire. He opposed equality as unnatural and unjust.[117] He was, however, unwilling to adopt works as a basis of inequality. It would, nevertheless, amount in the end to pretty much the same, although the animating[123] spirit might be different. Who would occupy the superior positions in Louis Blanc’s ideal state? Naturally the ablest, the largest natures. But those are precisely the ones whose needs are greatest. The true wants of the ignorant day laborer are simple and easily satisfied. Books tire him, grand music wearies him, while he turns away uninterested from the greatest painting of an old master. How different are the wants of a sensitive, refined nature like Louis Blanc himself; how much larger, how much more expensive to gratify! It is, indeed, pleasant to think of society as one vast Christian family, in which each would gladly contribute to the common good in proportion to his faculties, and in which all would cheerfully accord to every member whatever he truly needed for his most perfect development. But does the attempt to bring about such a state of society take men as they are or presuppose them as they ought to be? It is truly a glorious ideal! but will it ever become a reality this side of the golden gates of Paradise?



The principle of authority occupied a prominent place in the socialistic schemes of Saint-Simon and Louis Blanc. The former planned a religious society in which the priests should exercise undisputed sway over the production and distribution of goods, assigning to each member of the society his proper rank and rewarding him in proportion to his services. The latter expressly demanded a strong government, in order that it might be able to transform the economic life of the people by the erection of social workshops, although a large amount of local self-government was in the end to be allowed to each group of workers. Fourier did not explicitly reject the principle of authority, but contrived a system in which it should be easy and natural to rule and to be ruled, in so far as any ruling was necessary. There existed in his mind still a large and compact social organization. He made war, not on authority in itself, but upon all restraint placed on the desires and passions of man. He thought a natural combination of these rendered compulsion unnecessary. There was thus room left for another advance in the development of French socialism. A problem which had not as yet been attempted, was to unite absolute and unqualified individualism with perfect justice in the production of goods, and[125] in their distribution. Does not this imply a contradiction? Can there be such a thing as individualistic socialism? or socialistic individualism? Can collectivism and anarchy obtain in the same group of people? Do they not mutually exclude each other? What matter! The task must be tried; and a man appeared on the scene who delighted in contradictions, and thought that truth sprang out of their union. This man was Proudhon.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was born July 15, 1809, in Besançon, of humble parents. His father was a cooper, while his mother was a bright and vigorous country girl. He was of the people, the masses, and he spoke of it freely as an advantage. Proudhon professed that he always remained one of them and thus knew their life. It was early necessary that he should assist in his support, and this he did by agricultural labor, in particular by guarding the cows as they pastured on the mountains of the Jura. Later he became a waiter in a restaurant. Time was, however, found for the school and the college, where he distinguished himself for unusual talents and carried off a large number of prizes and honors. The public library furnished him with reading-matter, so that he read a large number of books before he was fourteen. He used to call for as many as six books at a time. At the age of nineteen Proudhon was compelled to leave the college in order to assist his father, whose business had fallen into a sad condition. He learned the printer’s trade and soon became a corrector in a publishing house of some note, which became to him a school. The house published a large number of theological works, which he perused so carefully that it was afterwards supposed that he had studied at a theological[126] seminary. He learned Hebrew when they published a Bible with an interlinear translation. The result was that he was able to contribute a number of theological articles to the “Encyclopédie Catholique.”

The Académie de Besançon having honors and prizes to distribute, proposed every year a subject for an essay. In 1839 the subject was “The Utility of the Celebration of Sunday.” Proudhon competed for the prize, but was not successful, although the book met with some praise, and passed through two editions in two years. He had, however, already been fortunate enough to secure a pension of 1500 francs, which had been founded to encourage literature and science, and placed in charge of the Académie. Besides his work demonstrating the utility of the observation of Sunday, Proudhon had written several essays of more or less merit on comparative philology, and he was considered a very promising young man. But he was thinking all this time of means to elevate the laboring classes. When he solicited the votes of the Académie for the pension, he told them plainly that it was his intention to direct his studies towards the means of ameliorating the physical, moral, and intellectual condition of the most numerous and the poorest class. In a letter to Paul Ackermann, a distinguished man of letters, with whom he had formed a connection, he wrote as follows, concerning the congratulations he had received on being awarded the pension: “I have received the congratulations of more than two hundred people. Why do you think that people felicitate me? Because it is almost certain that I shall attain honors equal to those which the Jouffroys, the Pouillets have obtained, and perhaps, I am told, even greater honors. No one has come to me and said: ‘Proudhon,[127] you ought before everything else to devote yourself to the cause of the poor, to the enfranchisement of the little ones, to the instruction of the people. You will perhaps be an abomination to the rich and powerful; pursue your way as a reformer regardless of persecutions, of calumny, of sorrow, and of death itself.’”[118]

About this time he founded a printing establishment in his native city, which appears never to have flourished greatly. He had already taken up the study of political economy, in addition to theology and philology, to both of which he hereafter devoted comparatively little attention. One of his first instructors in his new study was the able economist, Pellegrino Rossi. His economic studies bore fruit in 1840, in his work on property, “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?”[119]—“What is Property?” A startling answer to the question is given—viz., “Property is theft” and “Property-holders are thieves.”

The work marks a new epoch in the history of socialism, on several accounts. First, he attacks in it directly the chief support of individualism and the greatest obstacle to the realization of communism—private property. Others had proposed phalansteries, religious sects, and social workshops, all presupposing the abolition of private property; but Proudhon was the first to attempt to prove directly and scientifically that private property per se was a monstrosity—was robbery. Again, he set an example of harsh and rude attacks on classes and institutions, which modern social democrats have not been slow to follow. He[128] could easily have expressed the thought which he wished to convey otherwise than by using the word “theft,” but he preferred the cruel, biting expression. Likewise, in condemning the God of the theologians, he cried out, “God is the evil!” (“Dieu c’est le mal!”) Very likely he simply meant to condemn certain ideas concerning God, but it was not at all necessary for him to use an expression sure to give offence and pain to many good people. In the same way he was not content to call property-holders thieves. He says elsewhere that the “proprietor is essentially a libidinous animal, without virtue and without shame.”

This reveals another side of Proudhon’s character. He felt for the poor, but he hated the rich as a class, if not individually. He tells us himself that he first experienced a feeling of shame on account of poverty, but finding existence intolerable while tormented by such a humiliating feeling, he succeeded in transforming it into hate and anger. Afterwards his hatred turned into contempt and he became calmer, though it is probable that he always retained a certain bitterness of feeling. He writes to the Académie de Besançon: “When I sought to become your pensioner, I was full of hate for that which exists and of projects of destruction. My hatred of privilege and of the authority of man was without measure. Perhaps I was sometimes wrong in confounding in my indignation persons and things; at present I only know how to despise and complain. In order to cease to hate, it was only necessary for me to understand.”[120]

In the third place, this book is remarkable, because so many modern socialistic schools can be traced back[129] to it. The ideas of the anarchists of France at the present time are well presented in it. We also find in it a good presentation of that part of Marx’s doctrine of value which treats of labor-time as the measure of value, and the portion of the products which the capitalist takes under the name of profits as robbery. Marx developed it, and doubtless understood its import better than Proudhon, but nevertheless the germs of his most important theory are very plainly contained in this work on Property.[121]

Finally, the essay on Property is important because it led socialists and even political economists to a revision of their theories and a more careful observation of facts. Louis Blanc discouraged fantastical and supernatural schemes of reform; but the sharp, cutting criticism of Proudhon, directed now against the communists, now against the Saint-Simonians and Fourierists, now against the political economists, rendered them impossible. High-priests and revealers of visions could henceforth count on no favor on the part of the laborers.

Proudhon disposed of his printing establishment in 1843, but at such a loss as to leave him in debt to the amount of 7000 francs, which, however, he was finally able to pay. His next business enterprise was the formation of a connection with a company which was engaged in transportation on the Saone and the Rhone. This occupation lasted five years, but he did not, in[130] the meantime, cease his literary labors. In 1846 he published his “Système des Contradictions Économiques ou Philosophie de la Misère.”[122] If the work, “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” ranks first in importance of all his works, this certainly occupies the second place. It contains a sharp criticism of socialistic and economic theories, which he opposes to one another, and shows that they are mutually destructive. Here, as elsewhere, no one has doubted the merit of his criticism. He adopted as the motto of the book “Destruam et ædificabo”—“I will destroy and I will build up again.” He was powerful as a destroyer, but weak as a constructor. He could not keep the second part of his promise. He had become imperfectly acquainted with the Hegelian logic at second-hand through Carl Grün, who became his translator, and he sought to unite contradictories, “thesis” and “antithesis,” into a “synthesis.” But Hegel is not an author whom a Frenchman is likely to understand, and Proudhon did not succeed well in the use of his logical method.

Proudhon took no part in the Revolution of February, as he was not a politician, holding that all forms of government were equally vicious, and it was of little importance whether this or that party triumphed. He held himself aloof from any participation in the events which were transpiring until the political revolution was past, in order then to make his power more effectually felt in the settlement of social questions. In April he became editor of the Représentant du Peuple, and in June he was elected, by a large majority, to the Constituent Assembly as one of the representatives[131] of the Departement de la Seine. After he had seen the various social parties retire, defeated, from the scene, one after another, it became his turn to present positive measures of social reform. He had combated all socialistic sects, while maintaining persistently his position as a friend of the poor. What had he to offer, now that he had assisted to overthrow every plan of improvement which had been proposed? On the 31st of July he brought forward his scheme of organization of credit, which would guarantee labor to all in the only effectual way, as it would furnish every one with the instruments of labor. What this was we will consider presently. It is only necessary to state that it was rejected by the overwhelming majority of 691 to 2.[123] He attempted the execution of his plan without the aid of the state, by the erection of a bank, which failed about April 1, 1849, after an existence of a few weeks. Thus ended the attempt of the last great French socialist to carry out a scheme of social and economic regeneration. Proudhon’s paper was suppressed, but it reappeared twice under different names, before the arrest and sentence of its editor to three years’ imprisonment for breaking the press-laws terminated its existence. During his imprisonment he wrote his “La Révolution Sociale Démontrée par le Coup d’État du 2 Décembre”—“The Social Revolution Demonstrated by the Coup d’État of 2d December” (1851). This created a sensation, and six editions were sold in less than six months.[124] His imprisonment terminated on the 4th of June, 1852, and he retired to private life. He had[132] been married in 1850 to the daughter of a merchant, and it is said that his conduct as a husband and a father was exemplary. It is necessary to mention only one other work which he wrote—viz., “De la Justice dans la Révolution et dans l’Église”—which appeared in 1858.[125] He shows in this book that outside of the Catholic Church and Christianity there is no God, no theology, no religion, and no faith. Has Proudhon become a Catholic and a conservative? By no means. He immediately proceeds to demonstrate that the Church is ever in conflict with justice. The book was seized eight days after its appearance, its author tried, and sentenced to a fine of 4000 francs and to three years’ imprisonment, which he escaped by flight to Belgium, where he remained until an amnesty in 1860 allowed him to return to France. He died in Passy in 1865.

It is necessary to dwell more at length on three points in Proudhon’s teachings—viz., his ideas concerning property, government, and positive reform.

“Property is theft,” says Proudhon. Every argument brought forward to sustain it destroys the institution. Some seek to justify it by the theory of occupation, in accordance with which theory that which belongs to no one becomes the property of him who takes possession of it.[126] But if this be admitted, then property depends upon the accidents of number of population and extent of territory. Those who are born too late will be property-less. However, if the soil originally belonged to no private[133] individual it must have belonged to all collectively, and all will not and cannot renounce their right to this common possession. If I fashion a plough it is mine, because I made it. Who made the earth? God. Well, let him then demand a rent for it—let him take his own. But this he will not do. His gifts are free. We see that the theory of occupation presupposes common property, and that cannot be surrendered any more than life or liberty.

The second theory of property is the labor theory. But this theory likewise destroys property. That only is mine which I produce. The earth is mine only so long as I cultivate it. The moment another labors on my farm it becomes his property. Again, labor presupposes the instruments of labor, and where is one to obtain these in a system of private, personal property, provided one does not already possess them? The theory of labor demands the abolition of property, in order that every one may have free access to the soil and to the other instruments of labor.

Property is robbery because it enables him who has not produced to consume the fruits of other people’s toil. What I produce is worth what it costs—i.e., the time and economic goods which enter into it. If a capitalist or landlord takes away ten per cent., then the product costs me more than it is worth. I am robbed of this ten per cent. The proprietor is a thief.[127]

Shall we, then, return to the original state of society, to communism? By no means. Private property is unjust. It is robbery of the weak by the strong. Communism is the reverse injustice. It is robbery of the strong by the weak. “Community is inequality,[134] but in an inverse sense from property. Property is exploitation of the weak by the strong. Community is an exploitation of the strong by the weak. In the system of property inequality of conditions results from force, under whatever name it may disguise itself—force, physical and intellectual; force of circumstances, hazard, fortune; force of acquired property, etc. In community inequality springs from mediocrity of talent and of labor, elevated to an equality with force; and this injurious equation is revolting to conscience and causes merit to murmur.”[128]

We have now our thesis and our antithesis. The synthesis is found in possession. I may possess the instruments of labor of every kind in order to enable me to labor. It is labor which renders them mine—my own individual labor. So long as I cultivate myself a piece of land, it is mine and the product is mine. I may not rob another by charging for the use of the instruments of labor. It will be seen thus that what Proudhon really is fighting against is rent[129] and profits of capital. He allows inheritance—everything except individual ownership. Of course, when this is analyzed, it becomes apparent that inheritance can amount to very little.

What is the ideal of government? Anarchy. We desire absolute liberty. Any control of man by man is oppression. “What form of government shall we prefer? Ah, how can you ask? replies one of my youngest readers.—You are a republican? Republican, yes; but this word defines nothing. Res publica—that is, the public thing; now, whoever wishes the[135] public thing, under any form of government, can call himself a republican. The kings also are republicans.—Ah, well, you are a democrat? No.—What! are you a monarchist? No.—A constitutionalist? God forbid.—You are, then, an aristocrat? Not at all.—Do you wish a mixed government? Still less.—What are you, then? I am an anarchist.... Anarchy—the absence of master, of sovereign—such is the form of government which we approach every day, and our inveterate habit of taking man for a guide and his will for law makes us regard it as a heap of disorder and an expression of chaos.... No one is king.... Every question of internal politics ought to be solved according to the data of the Department of Statistics; every question of international politics is a question of international statistics. The science of government belongs of right to one of the sections of the Academy of Sciences, of which the perpetual secretary necessarily becomes the first minister; and since every citizen may address a mémoire to the Academy, every citizen is a legislator; but as the opinion of no one counts except in so far as it is demonstrated to be true, no one can substitute his will for reason—no one is king.... Justice and legality are two things as independent of our consent as mathematical truth.... In order that truth should become law, it must be recognized. Now, what is it to recognize a law? It is to verify a mathematical or metaphysical operation. It is to repeat an experience, to observe a phenomenon, to prove a fact.”[130]

What positive measures of reform are proposed to bring about equality associated with anarchy? One[136] is a great national bank, in which product shall be exchanged against product without any intermediaries, so that money-mongers shall not be able to stop the circulation and thereby the production of goods. Paper money is to be given in exchange for whatever is brought to this place of deposit. This paper is a check, which indicates labor-time. It may be exchanged for anything else of the same value, which has cost the same labor. Products are exchanged for products, and what is received has the same value as what is given. Property must be abolished, and no landlord or capitalist may intervene and, by exacting toll, make what I receive cost me more than it is worth.

What Proudhon proposed in the National Assembly was a bank which should effect exchanges of this sort. It was to be established by funds derived from a part of the proceeds of a tax of one third, or thirty-three and a third per cent. on revenues derived from property, and from a progressive tax on salaries of government officers. Branches were to be established in every part of France, and all were to be furnished with gratuitous credit. Interest has shown a tendency to decrease, which may be traced back for centuries.[131] Its normal rate is zero, and the national bank is to assist in bringing it down to this point. Everybody wants credit and everybody will be benefited by the measure.[132] All the world will give and receive credit. Rights and duties, privileges and obligations, are mutual. We may call this scheme mutualism.[133]

But when interest becomes zero, it follows naturally[137] and inevitably that rents and profits become nil. Credit enabling every one to obtain the instruments of labor without price, it is self-evident that no one will pay anything to landlord or capitalist for their use. The problem of abolishing the class of idlers is therefore solved. Henceforward property does not exist. The laborer receives all, and products cost no more than they are worth. This is the highest and the only true form of sociabilité. All men are associated on terms of equality; no one is subject to another.

Proudhon rejected communism. His ground of opposition was of a twofold nature. First, communism is based on property—not the property of an individual, but of the community. We have in it, consequently, the same kind of slavery as in our present society, save that we have many masters instead of one. “The members of a community, it is true, have nothing which is individual; but the community is proprietor, and proprietor not only of goods, but of persons and of wills. It is according to this principle of sovereign property that in every community labor, which ought to be for man only a condition imposed by nature, became a human command, and thereby odious.”[134] Second, communism is unjust, because it is unequal. It is the robbery of the strong by the weak.

We have to ask, then, what is the equality which Proudhon desired? If he did not wish to place all on the same level as regards recompense, what did he wish? He tells us that “equality consists in the equality of conditions—that is, of means—not in the equality of well-being, which with equal means ought[138] to be the work of the laborer.”[135] Was he not, then, a Saint-Simonian? did he not wish to proportion reward to services? He tells us distinctly, No.[136] He combats Saint-Simonism as unjust and impracticable. He also speaks of equality as the corner-stone of his system. The highest stage of society towards which we are moving he calls liberty—that is, the synthesis of the thesis, community, and the antithesis, property—but “liberty is equality, because liberty exists only in the social state, and outside of equality there is no society.” And he again and again condemns inequality of wages and recompense in his new society. Some writers, dwelling merely upon his condemnation of community, have said that he was not in favor of equality. This is a mistake. But how are we to reconcile his statements? They are contradictories. Where is the synthesis? It is found in the fact that all will hereafter produce alike. When possession takes the place of property, each one will labor equally, and the products, being measured by labor-time, will be equal in value. Equality of conditions becomes absolute equality. “On the one hand, the task of each laborer being easy and short, and the means of performing it successfully being equal, how could there, then, be great and small producers? On the other hand, the functions all being equal, either by the real equivalence of talents and capacities or by social co-operation, how can a functionary, arguing from the excellence of his work, demand a proportional salary?” (i.e., a remuneration larger than the[139] remuneration of others, in proportion to the superiority of his work).

“But what do I say? In equality the salaries are always proportional to faculties. But what is the salary or remuneration received? It is that which composes the reproductive consumption of the laborer. The act itself by which the laborer produces is then this consumption, equal to his production. When the astronomer produces observations, the poet verses, the savant experiences, they consume instruments, books, travels, etc.; now, if society provides for this consumption, what other proportionality of honors can the astronomer, the savant, and the poet demand? Let us conclude, then, that in equality, and in equality alone, the adage of Saint-Simon, ‘To each one according to his capacity, to each capacity according to its works,’ finds its full and complete application.”[137]

In intention, then, Proudhon was a communist in the sense of the definition given in this work. No man ever preached more plainly and unreservedly absolute equality as an ideal. He was not a communist in the sense of favoring communities such as we see in a few places at present, because they involve control and authority. He was, on the contrary, in favor of anarchic equality. The distinction might be made by saying that he was a communist, but not a communitarian.

I have, nevertheless, spoken of him several times as a socialist, because the entire tendency of every positive proposal which he made was socialistic, and not communistic. Equality has no logical connection with his projects. He proposed to transform property into[140] possession, which means simply limiting very materially the rights of property. Now, how could this change be so restricted without allowing inequalities to arise? Each one cultivates his land as he pleases and works as he will, all authority being banished from the face of the earth. Can any one, without resorting to some supernatural and unwarranted theory, suppose that all would derive the same products from the same instruments? Then let us take up the case of gratuitous credit. Will all avail themselves of it with equal profit in anarchy? What is to prevent my accumulating labor receipts if my production exceeds consumption? Or shall the state or some outside body prevent my taking more than I consume from the magazines or banks, whatever they are called? If so, do we not have all the interference and control of the hated community? It is thus seen that Proudhon is inconsistent as well as paradoxical, and is unable to effect his synthesis.

The following ten statements contain, in Proudhon’s own words, a résumé of the system which we have just examined:

“I. Individual possession is the condition of social life; ... Property is the suicide of society....

“II. The right of occupation being equal for all, possession varies according to the number of possessors....

“III. The effect of labor being the same for all, property is lost by its use on the part of others and by rent.

“IV. All human labor proceeding necessarily from a collective force, all property becomes, for the same reason, collective and indivisible; in terms more precise, labor destroys property.

“V. Every capacity for labor being, the same as every instrument of labor, an accumulated capital or collective property, inequality of remuneration and of fortune, under pretext of inequality of capacity, is injustice and theft.

“VI. Commerce has for its necessary conditions the liberty of contractors[141] and the equivalence of products exchanged; now, value having for its expression the sum of the time and of the expense which each product costs, and liberty being inviolable, the laborers necessarily remain equal in wages, as they are in duties and in rights.

“VII. Products are purchased only by products; now, the condition of every exchange being the equivalence of products, profits from exchange are impossible and unjust. Observe this principle of the most elementary economy, and pauperism, luxury, oppression, vice, crime, and hunger will disappear from among us.

“VIII. Men are associated by the physical and mathematical law of production; ...

“IX. Free association, liberty, which confines itself to the maintenance of equality in the means of production and equivalence in exchanges, is the only form of society possible, just, and true.

“X. Politics is the science of liberty; the government of man by man, under whatever name it may disguise itself, is oppression. The highest form of society is found in the union of order and anarchy.”[138]

Proudhon’s earnestness and sincerity can scarcely be doubted. We must give him credit for honesty, however strong our conviction that his schemes are utterly impracticable, and however severely we condemn the bitterness and injustice with which his views are presented. He closes his first mémoire on property with the following appeal to the Deity to hasten the coming emancipation and to witness his unselfish devotion: “O God of liberty! God of equality! Thou God, who hast placed in my heart the sentiment of justice before my reason comprehended it, hear my ardent prayer. Thou hast dictated that which I have written. Thou hast formed my thought, thou hast directed my studies, thou hast separated my spirit from curiosity and my heart from attachment, in order that I should publish the truth before the master[142] and the slave. I have spoken as thou hast given me power and talent; it remains for thee to complete thy work. Thou knowest whether I have sought my interest or thy glory. O God of liberty! May my memory perish, if humanity may but be free; if I may but see in my obscurity the people finally instructed, if noble instructors but enlighten it, if disinterested hearts but guide it. Shorten, if it may be, our time of trial; smother inequality, pride, and avarice; confound this idolatry of glory which retains us in abjection; teach thy poor children that in the haven of liberty there are no more heroes nor grand men. Inspire the strong one, the wealthy one, whose name my lips shall never pronounce before thee, with horror on account of his robberies.... Then the great and the small, the rich and the poor, will unite in one ineffable fraternity; and all together, chanting a new hymn, will re-erect thy altar, O God of liberty and of equality!”[139]



The last thirty years of the history of France constitute an unfruitful period in the development of socialism. They have been years of dearth, following in the wake of an equal number of plenteous years. There has arisen during all this time no developed communistic or socialistic system in France. The French socialism of to-day may be traced to three sources—viz., pure dissatisfaction with existing economic life, previous French speculations, like those of Proudhon and Fourier, and present German theories.

A diligent search continued for some time convinced me several years ago that there was little new or original in the ideas of the living leaders of socialistic movements in France. Since then I have come across three confirmations of this view in as many writers. Rudolf Meyer, a German, in his “Emancipations-Kampf des Vierten Standes,” says: “Since Proudhon, France has produced no socialists of importance.”[140] Frederic Harrison, an Englishman, in an article in the Fortnightly Review on “The French Workmen’s Congress of 1878,” uses these words to express his view of existing French socialism: “The first impression conveyed is this, that communism, or, indeed, any systematic[144] socialism, is entirely extinct in France.”[141] A French socialist writes rather regretfully, “The second remark is that we, the young generation of socialists, have discovered little in the domain of theory. We live almost exclusively upon the thoughts of our predecessors.”[142]

New life has, however, been manifested within the last year or two among French socialists, and if they are not discovering new theories, they are making large use of the studies of others. There is also a considerable class whose communism, or socialism, whichever you call it, does not get beyond the purely negative state of complaint. It is like a cry of distress, like “blind yearnings for light—like the voice of one crying, ‘Watchman, what of the night? Will the night soon pass?’”[143] Those of this class condemn our present society with unmeasured severity, but they are unable to suggest plans for a better. They are groping about blindly for a guide who shall lead them in their endeavors to realize the ideal of the French device, “liberty, equality, fraternity.” If you purchase at hap-hazard a French socialistic paper, you will very likely find in it only murmurings, repinings, and bitter accusations against existing institutions, ravings and outcries as incoherent as Carlyle’s collection of exclamations which he calls the “History of the French Revolution.” Perhaps Louise Michel and Felix Pyat ought to be classed among the adherents of this group.


We may roughly divide the remaining communists and socialists of France into three classes—viz., the Blanquists, the Anarchists, and the Collectivists.

The Blanquists are followers of the late Auguste Blanqui (1805-1881), brother of Adolphe Blanqui, the political economist. Their principle of action is to join hands under the leadership of some man, for the negative work of pulling down existing economic institutions. They come forward with no programme for reconstruction, because that would be likely to disunite them, and it is as yet too early for positive plans for the new society to be built on the ruins of the old. There is a certain monarchical element in their operations, inasmuch as they expect their adherents to follow the leader or leaders, without knowing precisely whither they are going, but with confidence in the guiding spirit. Leadership and agitation without a programme are both unpopular with most modern socialists, and the Blanquists do not count a large number of adherents. They are, however, active, courageous, and irreconcilable. They are “intransigentes,” who will make no compromise with our present institutions. Their leader is Eudes,[144] a member of the Committee of Public Safety at the time of the rising of the commune. The title of a paper which they published for some time indicates the fierceness of their disposition. It was “Ni Dieu ni Maître”—“Neither God nor Master.” Among its contributors Cournet, Breuillé, and Granger are named. The paper has ceased to appear for lack of patronage, and they are now compelled to make propaganda orally by conversation[146] and by speeches. It cannot be said that they differ from the other groups of socialists in their attitude of defiance towards God and religion, and perhaps they do not in this respect differ so widely as is supposed from a large number of French and German political leaders and thinkers. It must be fairly stated that their opposition to religion has no logical connection with their socialistic views. On the contrary, it is as illogical for them to reject Christianity as anything well could be. The French social reformers of about 1850 perceived this. At that time, if one had visited the assembly rooms of a communistic or socialistic society in Paris, he would in all probability have found there a picture of Christ, with these words written under it, “Jesus of Nazareth, the First Representative of the People.”[145]

The anarchists are also a small but determined band. Their leading representatives are Prince Krapotkine, a Russian by birth, and Elisée Reclus, the celebrated geographer. Émile Gautier, Bernard, and Bordat, who, like Krapotkine, were sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at the Lyons trial, January 19, 1883, for connection with the International Association of Laborers, are also prominent anarchists. Although their programme may be found almost word for word in Proudhon, they profess to follow more closely Bakounine, the Russian nihilist, who separated himself from Marx and the Internationals, and formed secret societies in Spain, Switzerland, France, and elsewhere, and thus propagated nihilistic views; for anarchy and nihilism are pretty much one and the same thing when nihilism is understood in the older, stricter[147] sense, which does not include, as it does in a larger and more modern sense, those who are simply political and constitutional reformers.[146] Like Prince Krapotkine, Bakounine came of an old and prominent Russian family; like him, he revolted against the cruelties and injustices he saw about him; like him, he despaired of peaceful reform, and concluded that no great improvement could be expected until all our present political, economic, and social institutions were so thoroughly demolished that of the old structure not one stone should be left on another. Out of the ruins a regenerated world might arise. We must be purged as by fire. Like all anarchists and true nihilists, he was a thorough pessimist, as far as our present manner of life was concerned. Reaction against conservatism carried him very far. He wished to abolish private property, state, and inheritance. Equality is to be carried so far that all must wear the same kind of clothing, no difference being made even for sex. Religion is an aberration of the brain, and should be abolished.[147]

Fire, dynamite, and assassination are approved of by at least a large number of the party. They are brave men, and fight for their faith with the devotion of martyrs. Imprisonment and death are counted but as rewards.

Their press is comparatively insignificant. Their[148] principal newspaper appears to be the Révolté, a small paper published at Geneva since 1879. A paper was, a few years ago, published in their interests at Verviers, Belgium, with the characteristic title, The Cry of the People (Le Cri du Peuple). It lasted only a little over a year, its final number appearing on the 21st of June, 1879, and containing this sentence, among many similar: “Yes, we applaud all the executions made by the Russian nihilists, and wish that their propaganda might extend itself over the whole earth.”

Forty-seven anarchists signed a declaration of principles, which was read by one of their number at their trial at Lyons. It was substantially as follows:

“The anarchists are citizens who, in an age when one preaches everywhere the liberty of opinions, have believed it their duty to recommend unlimited liberty.

“Our only merit consists in speaking out openly what the masses are thinking. We are several millions of laborers, who wish absolute liberty, and nothing but liberty.

“We wish liberty—that is to say, we demand for every human being the right and the means of doing that which pleases him, and of doing only that which pleases him; to satisfy integrally all his wants, without any other limits than natural impossibilities and the wants of neighbors equally respectable.

“We wish liberty, and we believe its existence incompatible with the existence of any power whatsoever, whatever its origin and form—whether it be elected or imposed, monarchical or republican—whether inspired by divine right or by popular right, by anointment or universal suffrage.

“The best governments are the worst.

“The evil, in other terms, in the eyes of the anarchists, does not reside in one form of government more than in another; it is in the idea of government itself, in the principle of authority.

“The substitution, in a word, in human relations, of free contract, perpetually revisable and dissoluble, is our ideal.

“The anarchists propose to teach the people how to get along without government, as they already begin to learn how to get along without God.


“They will learn, likewise, how to get along without property-holders.

“No liberty without equality! No liberty in a society where the capital is centralized in the hands of a minority, which continually grows smaller.

“We believe that capital—the common patrimony of humanity, since it is the fruit of the co-operation of contemporaneous generations—ought to be placed at the service of all.

“We wish, in a word, equality—equality in fact, as corollary or rather as primordial condition of liberty. From each one according to his faculties, to each one according to his needs: that is what we wish sincerely, energetically.

“Wicked and insane as people call us, we demand bread for all, science for all, work for all; for all, also, independence and justice.”[148]

The anarchists believe in a kind of collectivism. Their ideal consists of independent communes united very loosely in a confederation. Of course, the confederation has no powers save such as are voluntarily granted it by each individual and during the time which it may please him to grant them. It is no government. It is simply combined action. There are groups and confederations within the communes based on similar principles.

The collectivists are French socialists and social democrats, who have adopted the views of the Germans, chiefly of Marx and Lassalle. Their opinions we will then discuss under the head of German socialism. It is here only necessary to give evidence of the fact that they build on German foundations; to mention their organizations and a few of their leaders.

If French expositions of collectivism are examined, it will be found that constant references are made to[150] the German socialists and citations taken from their writings. Thus Malon, himself a collectivist, cites Depaepe’s presentation of international collectivism—and pretty much all collectivism and social democracy are to-day international; and Depaepe, in the passage quoted, states plainly that he has only given a more or less perfect résumé of Marx and Lassalle.[149] The French socialist who wrote the article for the London Times on French socialists, to which reference has already been made, mentions familiarly the names of Schäffle, Marx, and Lassalle. Émile de Laveleye, in his article in the Fortnightly Review on the “European Terror,”[150] follows Schäffle’s “Quintessence of Socialism” in explaining the system of the collectivists, and Schäffle simply presents German social democracy at its best. The international spirit of social democracy was illustrated in the marriage of two of Marx’s daughters to two French socialists, Longuet and Lafargue, the latter of whom translated his work, “Das Kapital,” into French.

The collectivists are divided into two branches—the evolutionist collectivists and the revolutionary collectivists.

The evolutionist collectivists do not reject reform as a possible substitute for revolution. While they do not claim to be able to say that a social revolution will never be necessary, they recognize the fact that a change of the economic forms of society is a matter of growth and evolution, and are willing to approach the socialistic state by degrees. A writer much in vogue with them is Colins, a Belgian, who advocated the nationalization of land. His two chief works, “Qu’est-ce[151] que la Science Sociale?”—“What is Social Science?”—and “L’Économie Politique,” were published between 1848 and 1857. A number of millionnaires belong to this group of collectivists, and a society has been formed to publish and disseminate the works of Colins. It is said that 40,000 francs have been subscribed for this purpose.

Colins favored these four measures as a transition from private property in land to its nationalization:

“1. Abolition of collateral inheritances.

“2. Proclamation of the liberty of bequest.

“3. A tax of twenty-five per centum upon all inheritances.

“4. Enlightenment of the masses, so that they shall soon demand the collectivity of the soil, or, as the English say, the nationalization of land.”[151]

Collectivists of this group are called “Possibilists” and “Opportunists,” on account of their temporizing inclinations. Although M. de Laveleye states that they are gaining favor with the laborers as opposed to the Irreconcilables, they have few leaders, or, at any rate, talkers of note. On occasion of the election at Belleville, when a deputy was to be elected to replace Gambetta, the evolutionist collectivists nominated a respectable mechanic by the name of J. B. Dumay. He was not, however, elected.

The revolutionary collectivists, also called Marxists, are divided into two factions, owing to personal rivalries. These are called the “Fédération du Centre,” among whom are Jules Guesde, Paul Lafargue, Émile Massard, and Gabriel Deville; and the “Union[152] Fédérative,” among whom are B. Malon, author of the work which I have several times cited; Paul Brousse, and Joffrin, a municipal councillor, who recently demanded of the council the execution of a large number of socialistic measures, like the erection of city workshops (ateliers municipaux) to furnish work to the unemployed, the establishment of bakeries and meat-markets in order to sell provisions at a moderate price, and the construction of houses to be let to laborers at cost price.

At the time when Dumay was candidate at Belleville for the place in the Chamber of Deputies which Gambetta’s death left vacant, the revolutionary collectivists nominated Jules Guesde, who received only a small number of votes. He issued, however, an electoral programme, which is valuable as an authentic statement of principles approved by his party at several different congresses between 1879 and 1882. It is as follows:

Considering: That the emancipation of the productive class is that of all human beings, without distinction of sex or race; that the producers can never be free until they are in possession of the means of production (lands, factories, ships, banks, credit, etc.); that there are only two forms under which the means of production can belong to them:

“1. The individual form, which has never existed as a general and universal fact, and which is being eliminated more and more by industrial progress;

“2. The collective form, whose material and intellectual elements are furnished by the very development of capitalistic society:—

Considering: That this collective appropriation can result only from the revolutionary action of the productive class—or the proletariat—organized as a distinct political party; that such an organization ought to be pursued by all the means at the disposal of the proletariat, universal suffrage included, and thus transformed from an instrument of injury, as it has hitherto been, into an instrument[153] of emancipation—the French socialistic laborers, in proclaiming as their end the political and economic expropriation of the class of capitalists, and the return into the collective form of all the means of production, have decided, as the means of organizing the conflict, to enter into the elections with the following demands:


“1. The abolition of all laws concerning the press, assemblies, and associations, and especially the law against the ‘International Association of Workmen,’ suppression of the workman’s book,[152] this registration of the laboring class, and of all articles of the code establishing the inferiority of the laborer vis-à-vis his employer and of the inferiority of woman vis-à-vis man.

“2. Suppression of religious appropriations, and the return to the nation of all property designated by the term mortmain (Decree of the Commune of April 2, 1871)....

“3. Suppression of the public debt.

“4. Abolition of standing armies, and the establishment of a militia system to include all the people.

“5. The establishment of the freedom of the Commune as regards its administration and its police.


“1. One day of rest in seven; eight hours to constitute a day’s labor for adults; prohibition of the labor of children under fourteen in private establishments, and the reduction of their labor to six hours a day between fourteen and eighteen.

“2. A protecting ‘surveillance’ of apprentices by corporations of laborers.

“3. A legal minimum of wages, determined each year according to the local price of provisions, by a statistical commission composed of laborers.

“4. Legal prohibition of the right to employ foreign laborers with smaller wages than those given to Frenchmen.

“5. Equal wages for equal work for laborers of both sexes.


“6. Free instruction in science, trades, and professions.

“7. Support of the aged and infirm by the public.

“8. Suppression of all interference of employers in the management of funds destined for the benefit of laborers.

“9. Responsibility of employers for accidents to their employees.

“10. Participation of laborers in the establishment of rules and laws for different shops; suppression of the right of employers to impose fines and penalties upon laborers.

“11. Annulment of all contracts which have alienated public property (banks, railroads, mines, etc.), and the management of all state-workshops by laborers employed therein.

“12. Abolition of all indirect taxes, and the transformation of all direct taxes into a progressive tax on incomes exceeding 3000 francs; suppression of all collateral inheritances, and of inheritances in direct line exceeding 20,000 francs.”[153]

Clovis Hugues, mentioned as “unclassed,” is a collectivist deputy. It is stated, however, that he has announced his intention of leaving the party, on account of the tyranny with which they have attempted to control him in every step. Joffrin refused to attend Louis Blanc’s funeral, as he held that he had proved false to the laborers in 1871. Hugues, an old friend of Blanc’s, attended, and was reproved for this, whereupon he indignantly declared the above-mentioned intention, maintaining that Louis Blanc was an honorable, high-minded man, and a true friend of the laborer.

De Laveleye believes that a majority of French workmen are socialists, while Malon confidently speaks of the socialists as forming the élite of the proletariat. The latter states their views and tendencies at the present time in the following language: “We have rejected all religious regenerations, whether they are[155] called New Catholic, New Christian, pantheistic, or theo-humanitarian; and we have accepted every scientific demonstration, however much opposed it might be to the previous order of our conceptions.

“We have recognized that the social and intellectual world, like the physical world, are governed by natural laws, and are subject to relations of succession and similitude independent of our personal intervention. We have admitted that our will itself is determined by natural laws which, it may not break.

“This has given us larger views, and especially has taught us to seek in a terrestrial future the ideal which is at the basis of every human nature.

“We have acquired a more profound knowledge of the laws which govern social phenomena. We know that as our human nature is essentially capable of modification and perfection, so social phenomena and industrial phenomena, being based thereon, are modifiable in large degree, and we labor to modify them as much as possible.”[154]



In turning our attention to Germany “we come to the period of classical epoch-making socialism.” It is the only living socialism of world-wide importance; for, with few comparatively unimportant exceptions, all socialism of to-day, whether found in Paris or Berlin, in New York or Vienna, in Chicago or Frankfort-on-the-Main, is through and through German.

The German socialists are distinguished by the profundity of their systems. These are not exhausted by a few hours’ study. You can come back to them time and time again, and obtain ever new ideas. A great German economist (Schäffle) declares that it took him years to comprehend the full significance of German socialism. It gives no evidence of decreasing power, but, on the contrary, its influence is manifestly spreading and becoming more and more deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of large masses. Its vitality is due, on the one hand, to the logical and philosophical strength of the systems on which it is based; on the other, to the patience and indomitable perseverance of its leaders.

One of its leading characteristics is its thoroughly scientific spirit. Sentimentalism is banished, and a foundation sought in hard, relentless laws, resulting[157] necessarily from the physiological, psychological, and social constitution of man, and his physical environment. Like French socialism, its most prominent side is its negative character, but this is not declamatory. Coldly, passionlessly, laws regulating wages and value are developed, which show that in our present economic society the poverty of laborers and their robbery by capitalists are as inevitable facts as the motions of the planets. Histories, blue books, and statistical journals are searched, and facts are piled on facts, mountain-high, to sustain every separate and individual proposition. Mathematical demonstrations as logical as problems in Euclid take the place of fine periods, perorations, and appeals to the Deity. Political economy is not rejected, but in its strictest and most orthodox form becomes the very corner-stone of the new social structure. No writer is valued so highly as Ricardo, who, in political economy, was the strictest of the strict, a Pharisee of the Pharisees. English political economy is developed to its logical and consistent conclusion with wonderful learning and skill. In the German socialists, says Rudolf Meyer, “we have learned men belonging to the higher mercantile and professional classes, in affluent circumstances, who, out of pure love for the cause, devoted themselves to profound economic investigations, and who united a serious, searching mind with thorough knowledge of history, philology, and law. They are political economists equal to the great English leaders in this study, but having at their command a greater scientific apparatus, especially such as is afforded by statistics.”[155] Roscher, indeed, finds in them alike the[158] strength and the weakness of the English school. He describes them thus in his “History of Political Economy in Germany.” “Some of them seem to be more historical than the Free-trade School, but this is only an appearance, as they apply history so sophistically. As far as doctrinal abstractions are concerned, they are at least equal to the extreme Free-traders.[156] They indulge in the same cosmopolitism, which entirely overlooks real peoples, states, and degrees of culture, in the same naïve assumption of the equality of all men, ... and in the same mammonistic undervaluation of ideal goods.”[157]

Two of the earliest adherents of this school were Friedrich Engels, who wrote a work on the “Condition of the Laboring Classes in England;”[158] and K. Marlo, who published, in 1849, his “System of World-Economy, or Investigations Concerning the Organization of Labor;”[159] and proposed a federation of socialistic communities. Both of these writers, however, were soon so far surpassed in importance by the three socialists, Rodbertus, Marx, and Lassalle, that they are scarcely noticed in the great current of German socialism. We will consequently at once proceed to the consideration of the life and teachings of Rodbertus, from whom it may be considered as taking its beginning. Its growth from the time he published his doctrines has been unbroken.


Karl Rodbertus, who lived from 1805 to 1875, was a man of social standing, universally respected alike for learning and character. He was at first a jurist, and afterwards a farmer, having purchased the estate in Pomerania called Jagetzow. On this account he is often called Rodbertus-Jagetzow.[160]

Rodbertus took some part in politics during the stirring events of 1848, and for a short time thereafter. He was member of the National Assembly in 1848, and in 1849 of the Second Chamber of the Prussian Parliament. He was Prussian Minister of Education and Public Worship for a brief period. But he finally abandoned politics and led a quiet life in his country home, devoting himself chiefly to scientific and literary pursuits. His knowledge of some parts of Roman history is considered quite profound.

Rodbertus, one of the ablest socialists who ever lived, is perhaps the best representative of pure theoretical socialism. Professor Wagner of Berlin calls him the Ricardo of socialism. This gives him an important place in the history of political economy, for political[160] economists may be considered as practically unanimous in the opinion that “scientific socialism represents an economic system which no science of political economy can any longer neglect” (Wagner). It is certain that he resembles Ricardo in many respects, and I personally am quite inclined to think he equalled him, though his name has never become very popular, as his life was a quiet, retired one, and he took no part in agitation. His writings are rather difficult reading for laborers, and they are consequently little acquainted with him. His influence on the greatest living economists has been remarkable.[161]

Rodbertus’s principal works are:

1. “Zur Erkenntniss unserer Staatswirthschaftlichen Zustände”—“Our Economic Condition” (Neubrandenburg und Friedland, 1842). This contains his leading views, which were not changed thereafter. Out of print.

2. “Sociale Briefe an Von Kirchmann”—“Social Letters to Von Kirchmann” (1850-51). Out of print.

3. “Zur Beleuchtung der Socialen Frage”—“Elucidation of the Social Question” (Berlin, 1875). This contains a second edition of the second and third letters to Von Kirchmann, and, with the two following essays, gives a very good idea of his economic theories.

4. “Der Normal Arbeitstag”—“The Normal Labor Day” (Berlin, 1871). Reprinted in Tübinger Zeitschrift für die gesammte Staatswissenschaft für 1878. Cf. also, in the same volume of the Zeitschrift, an essay on Rodbertus by Adolf Wagner, entitled “Einiges von und über Rodbertus-Jagetzow.”

5. “Offener Brief an das Comité des Deutschen Arbeiter-Vereins”—“Open Letter to the Committee of the German Laborers Union” (Leipzig, 1863). Reprinted in Volume I. of Lassalle’s collected writings—F. Lassalle’s “Reden und Schriften” (New York, 1882).

6. “Zur Erklärung und Abhülfe der heutigen Creditnoth des Grundbesitzes”—“An Explanation of the Necessity of Credit for Land-owners and Proposal of Measures to Assist Them” (2 vols. 1868-69). Out of print.


The aim of Rodbertus is naturally to solve the social problem, to abolish the sharp contradiction between the real life of society and the desired and striven-for ideal. But there are two chief evils in the existing economic life of man, which are the cause of most of the others. These evils are pauperism and commercial and financial crises, the latter leading to over-production and a glut in the market. Rodbertus directs his attention principally to the means of abolishing these evils.

The starting-point of Rodbertus’s political economy is his conception of labor expressed in the following sentence: “All economic goods are to be regarded only as the products of labor, and they cost nothing but labor.”[162] This proposition he claims was first introduced into economic science by Adam Smith, and was more firmly established by the school of Ricardo. His whole theory consists of a logical extension of this theory, according to which pauperism and crises result from one and the same circumstance—viz., “that when economic processes are left to themselves in respect to the distribution of goods, certain relations (Verhältnisse) connected with the development of society bring it about that as the productivity of social labor[163] increases, the wages of the laboring classes constitute an ever-decreasing portion of the national product.”[164] This does not mean necessarily that what the laborer receives becomes absolutely smaller; only that it decreases relatively. If ten laborers produce now twenty bushels of wheat in a given time, and receive[162] ten bushels as wages, and at a later period the productivity of labor has increased to such an extent that they produce thirty bushels in the same time, but receive only thirteen, their portion, their quota has decreased.[165]

Now let us see how this produces pauperism and crises.

In society we find laborers, capitalists, and landlords. These classes can exist only because there is a division of labor, and laborers produce more than they consume. Landlords and capitalists receive what is called rent, which is any income derived from the fact of possession and not from labor. All the rest is labor’s share. Now how does it happen that rent-receiving classes are able to exist? in other words, how is one man enabled to take from another a part of the fruits of his labor? This is because private property in land and capital exists. Land and capital constitute the instruments of labor, and without them production is impossible. Their possessors refuse to give them up to another’s use unless a share of the produce is guaranteed them therefor, while the laborer’s hunger and the sufferings of his family compel him to assent. Labor is treated as a commodity. It is bought and sold like other commodities, and its value depends on its cost. What is the cost of labor? Manifestly the cost of continuing labor; in other words, such means as will enable the laborer himself to live and to beget children[163] who shall continue to labor after he is gone. What the laborers require to live, and to marry, and beget children in sufficient numbers to supply the labor market, is their standard of life. This they obtain and no more. Labor costs labor, and is measured by labor; but labor produces more than it consumes, and this surplus-value is rent. Does the laborer’s standard of life rise with the increase in productivity of economic forces? No, it is even doubtful whether it is rising at all. Then the conclusion is inevitable that labor’s proportion or quota decreases. Rodbertus thinks he can prove, from the income returns in England since 1800, and from the division of the national product of England into rent, wages, and profits, that the increased production of machine power, estimated as equal to the labor of five hundred and fifty millions of men, has benefited wholly and entirely landlords and capitalists.[166] Rodbertus puts the matter as follows to laborers: “Under the régime of laissez-faire and with our present property laws, your level, your portion of the goods produced, tends to fall, not to rise; to convince yourselves, look at our situation in general. Has the separation in the incomes of social classes become greater or smaller since we possess machines and railroads, and productivity and production have increased so remarkably? The answer cannot, indeed, be doubtful. Or consider our situation in particular, and ask the oldest among you whether, during the last forty years, wages—real wages, measured in what wages will buy—have increased as much in your fatherland or your native city as land-rent, or, what is the same, the value of the land, and as much[164] as capital has increased.”[167] We have here, then, an explanation of pauperism and of discontent. A man’s poverty does not depend so much upon what he has absolutely, as upon the relation in which his possessions stand to those of others about him, and upon the extent to which they allow him to share in the progress of the age. A cannibal in the Sandwich Islands is not poor because he has no coat; an Englishman is. When the vast majority were unable to read, a man was not poor or oppressed because he was unable to purchase books, but a German who to-day has not the means to do so is both poor and oppressed.[168]

Rodbertus undertakes, in the second place, to prove that crises result from the continued decrease in labor’s share of all the goods produced. His arguments are remarkable, and contain the ablest explanation yet given of the commercial and industrial crashes which occur every few years.[169]

Let us suppose that the total national production equals at a given moment ten millions of units. It makes no difference what a unit is. It may represent the value of ten oxen, five horses, one thousand bushels of wheat, ten tons of hay, and one hundred sheep, or it may equal the value of any other amount of economic goods. That is a matter of indifference. This production is divided between landlords, capitalists, and laborers, so that each class receives three millions of units, one million going to the state in the shape of taxes. Let us further assume that there is at this moment[165] an equilibrium in production. Three millions of units of such goods, necessaries and comforts, as laborers require, are produced; three millions of units of necessaries, comforts, and luxuries are produced for capitalists; and a like amount for landlords. One million units of goods, such as the state requires, are produced. So long as this relation is maintained a cessation in production is needless. The laborers have the means of purchasing all that is produced for them, as have also landlords, capitalists, and state. If production is doubled, and the same relations are preserved, no crisis is thereby occasioned. But the difficulty lies in the fact that the same proportions are not preserved. Production increases, but the laborer’s share diminishes. He has not the means of purchasing what is produced for him. The capitalists and landlords do not increase their consumption of luxuries pari passu with the diminishing consumption of laborers, as they save in order to become wealthy. Their savings are invested in putting up factories and producing goods for laborers, which laborers have not the means of purchasing in the additional amounts. Cotton goods, cloths, and other commodities are heaped up, and finally there comes a crash. During the period of depression the proper relations are gradually restored. The production has increased to twenty millions of units, let us say, of which the laborers receive four millions of units. Equilibrium is restored, when four millions are produced for them and sixteen millions for the other classes of society. Consequently, in a state of increasing production, we observe an increased consumption of luxuries after every crisis. Production continues to increase in the same relations until the laborers are[166] again unable to purchase what is produced for them, when goods are again heaped up, and we have the anomaly of magazines full of commodities for which there are no purchasers, although there are plenty who desire them. Those for whom they were destined have not the means of purchasing them; and this entails also distress upon others, those who handle these commodities, as well as upon a large part of the rest of society, owing to the close relations existing between different members of the social body. Equilibrium is finally restored by an increased consumption of luxuries. So long as economic life is not regulated these processes will never cease to repeat themselves.

Poverty and commercial panics can be banished only by arrangements which guarantee to laborers a share in the national product, which increases pari passu with increasing production. How is this to be done? I cannot, in this place, give the details, which must be sought in Rodbertus’s writings, particularly in his “Normal Arbeitstag.” I will sketch the outlines of his plan.

The state must interfere. An estimate must be made of the value of the national product, and of the share which laborers receive at the time of the valuation. We will assume that all the products of society during a year can be produced by four millions of hours of the labor of an average man. The value of the yearly production equals four millions of hours. Let us suppose that the laborers receive the product of one million hours. They are given in exchange for this receipts, a kind of paper money, the unit of which is one hour. All that is produced finds its way first into magazines, and laborers and others, on presenting[167] labor-time money, receive its value in goods. If the productivity of labor doubles, an hour will secure double the amount of goods. This is the solution, then, of the problem of securing for the laborers a fixed share of production and an amount of goods which increases with increased production.

It is probably in itself, per se, not impossible. What is lacking is the will. This makes it practically impossible. Many practical men have regarded the scheme with favor. Indeed, a German architect has prepared and published tables showing the value of the product of an average hour’s work in the building trade, and of the share received by the laborer himself.[170] Their accuracy was not disputed by builders, though they doubted the advisability of letting the laborers know exactly the proportion which constituted their wages. Rodbertus did not claim that it would be the task of a day to carry out this plan, but he thought a state which regarded lightly the expenditure of four hundred millions for military purposes ought not to begrudge one hundred millions at once, and perhaps more hereafter, to banish pauperism and stagnation in trade and industry. He spoke of one or two centuries as necessary to realize these plans. He did not, however, regard private property in land and capital as the ultimate form of their possession, although the above scheme allows both. He thought there were three stages in economic development. In the first, private property in human beings—slavery,[168] serfdom, and vassalage—existed; in the second, that in which we now live, private property in capital—i.e., the instruments and means of labor—was a social institution; in the third, private property in income alone was to be allowed. Each one was to enjoy in this third stage the full fruits of his labor.

It is needless to say that Rodbertus waged no crusade against land or capital. No one was ever so great a fool as to do that. Every social democrat, even, admits the necessity of both land and capital. He did not, however, believe that it was forever necessary that capitalists and landlords as separate classes should exist. There is the same difference between capital and capitalist as there is between labor and slave. Once, he who waged war on slavery was looked upon as a man who was trying to abolish labor. In the future Rodbertus thinks we will separate in the same manner capital and capitalist, and abolish the capitalist class as we have already abolished the slave-holding class. This does not at all imply equality. Great differences could still exist, but they would be based on merit.

A period of laissez-faire was held by Rodbertus to denote a transitional stage and a preparation for a different social organization. After the social order of the Roman republic, which was founded on the possession of many slaves, and production on a large scale by them, had had its day, freedom in trade and commerce reigned under the emperors, but was terminated by the feudal system of the Middle Ages, for which state it was only preparatory. In the same manner, the present imperfect and unsatisfactory organization, or, as he perhaps would have said, disorganization, was to end in a higher social stage. It was wicked[169] and impious to hope for an improvement from laissez-faire, which he called a fool’s paradise. Good things did not come to us in this world of themselves. It was intended that we should work for them, and for their attainment use all the instrumentalities which Providence has committed to us, the state included.

All of the leading socialists of to-day, to whatever socialistic group they may belong, have been influenced greatly by Rodbertus. An understanding of his theories renders it comparatively easy to understand Marx and Lassalle.

German socialists of to-day may be divided into three groups—viz., social democrats, professorial socialists, and Christian socialists. We also hear of state socialists, who form one class with professorial socialists; save that a few of them may, perhaps, belong to the social democrats. Sometimes they are separated from professorial socialists and made to include simply German office-holders, but the ideas of German office-holders, as such, can have no interest for us in this place. The same man is sometimes called a professorial socialist and sometimes a state socialist, as, for example, Professor Wagner—state socialist as an office-holder who lays stress on the beneficial effects of state activity, professorial socialist as a professor who does the same. It is best to use the term professorial socialists in a wide sense, so as to include all holding similar views.



The more immediate theoretical founder of social democracy, and for many years its leading representative, was Karl Marx, born in 1818 in Treves (Trier). The social position of his family in Germany was excellent. His father, a converted Jew, occupied a high position in the civil service. Marx studied law at the universities of Bonn and Berlin. In the latter place he became so much interested in philosophy that he abandoned law. The philosophy which he adopted was the Hegelian. He intended to become a professor, but was led into politics and journalism by the apparent dawn of freedom accompanying the succession of Frederick William IV. to the Prussian throne in 1840. He soon became editor-in-chief of the Rhenish Gazette (Rheinische Zeitung), which had been founded by leading liberals, and began to criticise the government with what was then called unheard-of boldness. But he was so skilful in his expressions that the special censor of the press, who was sent from Berlin to Cologne to watch the paper, could find no cause for legal proceedings against him. Finally, government becoming weary of such attacks, and having then the power to do so, simply decreed that at the expiration of the first quarter-year of 1843 the paper should[171] cease to appear.[171] The interest which Marx had begun to take in matters of government showed him the necessity of informing himself more fully on subjects of political economy. He went to Paris, accordingly, after the suppression of the Rheinische Zeitung, to study that science, thinking that France then afforded better advantages for that purpose. He was, no doubt, right in this, as the Germans have only lately become great in political economy. In Paris he continued to wage war with the pen on the Prussian government, and was banished from France in 1844 by Guizot, to please Prussia. Going to Brussels, he continued his economic studies, interested himself in the cause of the laborers, and in his writings at this time expressed views similar to those which he held at the time of his death. In 1847, in company with Friedrich Engels, he composed and published a manifesto of the communistic party, which closed with these words: “The communists scorn to conceal their views and purposes. They declare openly that their aims can be attained only by a violent overthrow of the existing social order. Let the ruling classes tremble before a communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose except their chains. They have a world to gain. Proletarians of all lands, unite!”

The events of 1848 brought Marx to Germany again, where, with his friends, Engels, Wolff, and the poet Freiligrath, he founded the New Rhenish Gazette (Neue Rheinische Zeitung). For one year this paper was an able advocate of the cause of the laborers. German democracy and reaction were alike rejected,[172] and the interest of the laborers was represented as irreconcilably opposed to that of all other classes. The paper was suppressed in 1849, and its founders banished from Germany. Marx lived thereafter in London.

The last issue of the paper contained a spirited farewell poem, by Freiligrath, promising the reappearance of the journal when its undying spirit should have triumphed over all its foes. The following is a good translation:[172]


“Farewell, but not forever farewell!
They cannot kill the spirit, my brother;
In thunder I’ll rise on the field where I fell,
More boldly to fight out another.
When the last of crowns like glass shall break
On the scenes our sorrows have haunted,
And the people its last dread ‘guilty’ shall speak,
By your side you shall find me undaunted.
On Rhine or on Danube, in war and deed,
You shall witness, true to his vow,
On the wrecks of thrones, in the midst of the field,
The rebel who greets you now.”

In London, Marx continued his agitation and literary work uninterruptedly—the former reaching its climax in the foundation of the International, in 1864; the latter in the appearance of his most important work, “Das Kapital” (“Capital”), in 1867.[173] It is a development and continuation of his “Zur Kritik der politischen Oekonomie”—“A Critique of Political[173] Economy”—published in 1859. Marx intended, in “Das Kapital,” to present a complete system of political economy in three volumes, but had published only the first, “On the Process of Capital Production,” at the time of his death, March 14, 1883. The delay was due, it is said, to the extraordinary thoroughness with which he worked. He had, however, practically completed the second volume and had the third volume well under way before his decease. These two volumes, treating of the “Circulation of Capital” and “The Forms of the Entire Process and the History of the Theory,” will be brought out by his friend, Friedrich Engels. It is further stated that Marx had prepared a third and improved edition of the first volume, which is now in press.

Marx’s book, “Capital,” has been called the Bible of the social democrats, and it deserves the name. It defends their doctrines with acuteness of understanding and profundity of learning, and certainly ranks among the ablest politico-economic treatises ever written. I should place it on a par with Ricardo’s “Principles of Political Economy and Taxation.” Much has been said against its style. I think it, at least, equal to Ricardo’s. It is difficult reading, not because it is poorly written, but because it is deep. Any one, however, who has had some training in political economy, and is ordinarily bright, ought not to find its difficulty insurmountable.

Marx lived a quiet life in London, directing from that point the movements of the International, corresponding for the New York Tribune for a time, besides writing his books and pamphlets, and enjoying the society of his friends. His family life was a happy one. His wife was Jenni von Westphalen,[174] daughter of the Prussian minister of the same name, who belonged to the celebrated reactionary ministry of which Von Manteuffel was president. He had four children, of whom two have already been mentioned as wives of well-known French socialists. The death of a son in early life was a severe blow to him, and he never recovered from the death of his wife, in 1881.

About the ability of Marx there is unanimity of opinion. The philosopher Professor Friedrich A. Lange regarded him as one of the ablest political economists that ever lived. So conservative a man as Professor Knies, of Heidelberg, has often spoken in high terms of his talents and acquisitions; and the well-known Cologne Gazette used these words in an obituary notice:[174] “He exercised, perhaps, a more lasting influence on the inner politics of civilized states than any one of his contemporaries. Political economy, especially in Germany, knows no writer who has influenced both masses and scholars in a more decided, thoroughgoing manner than Karl Marx.... He was one of the sharpest thinkers and readiest dialecticians ever possessed by economic science.... His ‘Capital’ is classical and indispensable for every one who wishes to concern himself earnestly with social and economic science.”

Immediately after the death of Marx, meetings were held in all parts of the United States and elsewhere, as far as the laws would allow it, to do honor to his memory. One characteristic feature of these meetings was the vow which was taken in all to spread the works and to disseminate the ideas of their departed leader. At the mass-meeting in the Cooper[175] Institute, in New York city, undoubtedly the largest one held, the following resolutions were read and adopted:

“In common with the workers and the disinherited, with the true friends of liberty of all countries, we deplore the death of our great thinker and champion, Karl Marx, as a grievous and irreparable loss to the cause of labor and freedom.

“We pledge ourselves to keep his name and his works ever in remembrance, and to do our utmost for the dissemination of the ideas given by him to the world.

“We promise, in honor of the memory of our great departed, to dedicate our lives to the cause of which he was a pioneer—the struggle in which he left so noble a record—and never, at any moment, to forget his great appeal, ‘Workmen of the world, unite!’”

Similar resolutions were adopted at the other meetings, in Baltimore, Chicago, Cleveland, etc.

Marx’s followers boast particularly of two discoveries which he made—viz., the correct theory of the development of history and his doctrine of value. While it is not true that these were, by any means, entirely original with him, no one would dispute that his presentation is worked out in an original and remarkable manner.

His theory of history is that it is a development, and is shaped at each period by the economic life of the people, by the manner in which goods are produced and distributed. He takes, as his starting-point, the fact that men must eat, drink, wear clothes, and find shelter from rain, snow, and cold. Art, religion, and science come after the satisfaction of these elementary wants. The production of wealth by slaves gave form to the history of the classical world, while that of the Middle Ages is dominated by serfdom and its accessories. The governing idea of the present age is capitalistic production—that is to say, concentration[176] of large masses in factories, running a race with immense machines, and systematically robbed by their employers. When we take the view that history is a growth governed by the necessities of production, past ages do not seem so inhuman as they otherwise do. It has hitherto been necessary that the vast majority should toil incessantly, while only few devoted themselves to the pursuit of the higher goods. The processes of production were so primitive and imperfect that it was physically impossible for the many to enjoy leisure for cultivating their minds and bodies. Hence it was that the ancients regarded slavery as necessary and natural. Plato and Aristotle both considered it a law of nature, just the same as it has hitherto been supposed that private property in land and capital was a law of nature; whereas, as already shown by Rodbertus, they are all only institutions of positive and changeable law. Private property in the instruments of production can be abolished, as private property in human beings has been. This abolition could not, however, take place until society had made such advance in the art of producing goods that all requisites for human existence and progress could be produced without requiring the unceasing toil of the vast majority. That time has come. It is now easy to produce all the requirements of civilization and at the same time to leave leisure to each one to make the most of himself. Aristotle, in defending slavery, uttered words which sound almost like a prophecy. In his “Politics” (i. 4) he uses this language: “Every servant is an instrument more valuable than any other instrument. For if every instrument at command, or from foreknowledge of its master’s will, could accomplish its special work—if[177] the shuttle thus should weave and the lyre play of itself—then neither would the architect want servants nor the master require slaves.” These remarks seem to contain a dim foreboding of the marvellous invention of machinery which has taken place in this age, and has substituted iron and steel for bone and muscle.

A feudal aristocracy was once required to protect and guide industry and agriculture. The growth of the bourgeoisie in the cities finally rendered feudalism an antiquated institution, and it had to make way for the third estate, under whose guidance wealth has increased most marvellously and laborers have been gathered together and organized. But the bourgeoisie has fulfilled its mission. It is now but a hinderance and an obstacle. The repeated crises and the continual concentration of property in the hands of a few mammoth millionaires prove conclusively that they are not equal to the task of leadership. The time has arrived when the proletariat, the fourth estate, must take the reins into its own hands. It is now to play the grand rôle in the history of the world. “With the continually decreasing number of the magnates of capitalism, who usurp and monopolize all the advantages of the changed form of production, there is an accompanying increase in the mass of misery, of oppression, of bondage, of degradation, of exploitation; but there also arises a revolt of an increasing class of laborers, who have been schooled, united, and disciplined by the mechanism of the capitalistic processes of production. The monopoly of capital becomes a shackle to the method of production, under and with which it has grown up. The concentration of the means of production and the association of laborers reach a point where they are incompatible with their[178] capitalistic shell. The shell is broken. The death-knell of capitalistic private property sounds. The expropriateurs are expropriated.”[175] Thus dawns a new and better era in the history of human development.

The key to Marx’s economic doctrines is his theory of value, with an exposition of which “Das Kapital” opens. It is based on Ricardo and Rodbertus, but is developed and defended in an original manner. He begins by separating value in use from value in exchange. Value in use is utility, arising from the adaptation of an article to satisfy some human need. Air, water, sunshine, wheat, potatoes, gold, and diamonds are examples. It does not necessarily imply exchange value. Many goods are very useful but not exchangeable, because they are free to all. Such is the case, usually, with water. On the other hand, no good can have value in exchange unless it is useful. Men will not give something for that which satisfies no want or need. Both value in use and value in exchange are utilities, but, as they differ, there must be some element in the one which the other does not per se contain. We find what that is by analyzing the constituent elements of different goods which possess exchange value. How can we compare them? Only because they contain some common element. But what is there in common between a horse and a house? You cannot say that this stick is longer than that sugar is sweet. Yet you say this house is worth ten times as much as that horse. Materials are not compared, nor stability with swiftness, nor color with color. The common element is found alone in human[179] labor. You compare labor with labor. It requires ten times the amount of average social labor (gesellschaftliche Durchschnittsarbeitskraft) to secure such a house as it does to put one in possession of such a horse. Labor-time is the measure which we apply to different commodities in order to compare them. We mean thereby the ordinary average labor which is required at a given time in a given society. The average man is taken as a basis, together with the average advantages of machinery and the arts. This is average social labor-time. Complicated labor is simply a multiple of simple labor. One man’s labor, which has required long and careful training, may count for twice as much as ordinary, simple labor; but the simple labor is the unit.

This distinction between value in use and value in exchange enables us to understand how capitalists exploit their laborers. They pay for labor its exchange value, which depends upon the cost of labor or the standard of life of the laborer, as we have already seen in our examination of Rodbertus’s system. What it takes to support a laborer’s family is the exchange value of all the labor which can be got out of that family.

Let us suppose that a laborer requires each day goods whose value is denoted by A, each week in addition thereto goods denoted by B, besides quarterly needs which are satisfied by goods whose value is C. Then his support for each day will require the value of

365 A + 52 B + 4 C[176]

Now, if it requires six hours to produce these goods,[180] the laborer is producing surplus value if he labors more than that time. This the capitalist requires him to do, as he has hired his entire labor power. Under these circumstances, the laborer who works twelve hours a day for his employer is paid for six hours’ work, while he is robbed of the product of the other six hours’ labor. The capitalist is able to do this because he possesses the means of production. The laborer would gladly work without recourse to the capitalist, but he has not the means, the instruments with which to produce. He must accede to the terms of the capitalist or starve. The capitalist goes on the market and finds there the commodity, labor, for which he pays its value in exchange, as for any other commodity. But value in use does not depend upon value in exchange. The value in use of labor to the capitalist is all that he can squeeze out of it. The capitalist pockets the surplus value, and it becomes capital, enabling him to continue and enlarge his process of exploitation.

Let the line,


represent the labor of twelve hours, b dividing it into two equal parts; a——b is necessary labor; b——c is unpaid labor productive of surplus value. It is the capitalist’s interest to extend b——c as much as possible, as that governs his accumulations. Hence, the efforts of employers to increase the length of a day’s labor; hence, the efforts of employees to shorten a————c, as they thereby diminish the amount of unpaid labor, of whose value they are robbed.

This enables us to comprehend the significance of Marx’s definition of capital, which is as follows: “A negro is a negro. In certain relations he becomes a slave. A cotton-spinning-machine is a machine for[181] spinning cotton. It becomes capital only in certain relations. Capital is a social relation existing in the processes of production. It is an historical relation. The means of production are not capital when they are the property of the immediate producer. They become capital only under conditions, in which they serve at the same time as the means of exploiting and ruling the laborer.... The foundation of the capitalistic method of production is to be found in that theft which deprived the masses of their rights in the soil, in the earth, the common heritage of all.”[177] That is to say, Marx limits the name capital to economic goods in the hands of employers.

The capitalist buys the commodity labor (l), for money (m), and sells its product for more money (m+). The formula of capitalistic production is therefore m-l-m+. In the socialistic state, the +, surplus value, vanishes. The entire product belongs to the producer. If he exchanges it for other products by means of money which must be based on labor-time—labor-time money—the formula will be c-m-c. Money becomes simply a medium of exchanging commodities (c) of equal value. The only source, then, of obtaining the fruits of labor will be—labor, physical or mental, but always labor of some kind or another. Idlers will disappear from the earth. The race of parasites will become extinct.

One of Marx’s most important doctrines is his theory of crises. During prosperous times manufacturers employ all the men, women, and children who will work. The laboring classes prosper, marriage is encouraged, and population increases. Suddenly there[182] comes a commercial crisis. The greater part of the laborers are thrown out of employment, and are maintained by society at large; that is, the general public has to bear the burden of keeping the laborers—the manufacturer’s tools—for their employer until he may need them again. These laborers without work constitute an army of reserve forces for the manufacturer. When times begin to improve, he again gradually resumes business, and becomes more prosperous. The laborer’s wages have previously been reduced on account of hard times, and the manufacturer is not obliged to raise them, as there is a whole army in waiting, glad to take work at any price. “If a surplus labor population is a necessary result of the accumulation or the development of wealth on a capitalistic basis, this surplus population is in turn a lever of capitalistic accumulation. It forms an always ready, industrial reserve army which belongs as absolutely to capital as if it had been at the expense of raising it.... Surplus capital presses forward with frenzy into all established branches of production, whose market suddenly widens, and into new ones, as railroads, etc., the need of which springs from this development. In all such cases must large masses of men suddenly, and without loss to the leaders of production in other places, be ready to be employed at the important point. These masses are furnished by the surplus population.”[178]



The International Workingmen’s Association (Internationale Arbeiterassociation) is a society based on social democratic principles, and intended to embrace all the laborers of Christendom. The Internationalists believe that working-men, having nothing to hope from the higher classes, must fight out their own emancipation. They hold, also, that the interests of labor throughout the civilized world are so vitally connected, that it is necessary for all lands to march together. They are thoroughgoing cosmopolitans.

The following permanent “statutes” (by-laws) were adopted at its first meeting in London, September, 1864, and confirmed at its congress in Geneva in 1866:

“In consideration that the emancipation of the laboring classes must be accomplished by the laboring classes, that the battle for the emancipation of the laboring classes does not signify a battle for class privileges and monopolies, but for equal rights and duties, and the abolition of class rule;

“That the economic dependence of the laboring man upon the monopolist of the implements of work, the sources of life, forms the basis of every kind of servitude, of social misery, of spiritual degradation, and political dependence;

“That, therefore, the economic emancipation of the laboring classes is the great end to which every political movement must be subordinated as a simple auxiliary;

“That all exertions which, up to this time, have been directed towards the attainment of this end, have failed on account of the want of[184] solidarity between the various branches of labor in every land, and by reason of the absence of a brotherly bond of unity between the laboring classes of different countries;

“That the emancipation of labor is neither a local nor a national, but a social, problem, which embraces all countries in which modern society exists, and whose solution depends upon the practical and theoretical co-operation of the most advanced lands;

“That the present awakening of the laboring classes in the industrial lands of Europe gives occasion for new hope, but at the same time contains a solemn warning not to fall back into old errors, and demands an immediate union of the movements not yet united;

“——, in consideration of all these circumstances, the First International Labor Congress declares that the International Workingmen’s Association, and all societies and individuals belonging to it, recognize truth, right, and morality as the basis of their conduct towards one another and their fellow-men, without respect to color, creed, or nationality. This congress regards it as the duty of man to demand the rights of a man and citizen, not only for himself, but for every one who does his duty. No rights without duties; no duties without rights.”

The International resolved to hold yearly congresses. Its members have met at Geneva at least twice, at Basle, at Lausanne, at the Hague, and other places. It is not necessary to give the history of these different meetings, as they were all of one general character.[179] Their importance consists in the repeated emphasis given to the thought of the oneness of the interests of laborers in all civilized states. Delegates at the congresses gave reports of progress, of strikes, reductions in labor-time, and of all matters likely to interest the working classes. Measures for continuing the propaganda more successfully were discussed. The[185] congress at the Hague in 1872 is more important than the others, as it witnessed a split in the ranks of the Internationalists. The original International stood under the influence of Marx, who was the guiding spirit of its general council, with its seat at London. The whole arrangement was that of a strong government. Some were envious of Marx, and others—the Anarchists—objected to the principles of the organization. Bakounine led the opposition, and a new International was formed, based on anarchic principles. Instead of a General Council, they instituted a Federal Council. The Internationalists of the country where the next congress was to be held carried on the correspondence with the various societies, gathered statistics, etc. Thus, their leading body, their central organ (not authority), changed from year to year. Each land was left free to conduct its agitation in its own way, and every individual atom, i.e., local organization, was left free to come and go as it pleased. The Anarchists, and other adherents of this newer branch, made strenuous efforts to spread their organization, and were particularly successful in Spain, where Bakounine was their representative. Both Internationals held congresses in Geneva in 1873.

It is often supposed that the International is dead. This is a great mistake. The formal organization of the old International was dissolved in 1875; but the original spirit survived. I am much inclined to think that the association founded by Bakounine has still a formal organization, but, however that may be, the International to all intents and purposes is stronger to-day than it ever was before.

Membership in the International is one of the conditions of membership in the revolutionary organization[186] of the Black Hand in Spain.[180] Prince Krapotkine and others were this year condemned to imprisonment for belonging to an International Association of Laborers, and to-day organizations are being formed in America, with the title of Branches of the International Association of Laborers. At the great mass meeting held in Cooper Union to honor the memory of Karl Marx, March 19, 1883, speeches were delivered in English, German, Russian, and other languages, to illustrate the spirit of the International, and to impress upon laborers the fact that at such a time no differences existed between them due to the accident of nationality. One of the speakers declared triumphantly to the audience that the spectacle they were then witnessing was conclusive proof that the International still lived. He was right.

The International has caused the governments of Europe no inconsiderable alarm at various times, and it is likely that its importance has been overrated. Still it must be acknowledged that the existence of such a society, presided over by a man of undoubted ability, spreading itself over Europe and America, was in itself a significant fact. Its importance must by no means be estimated by the number of its declared adherents or the attendance at its congresses. Where one laborer avows himself openly an Internationalist, we may be sure that there are twenty holding like views who conceal them from motives of policy. Moreover, the society is still in its infancy. It may yet play a rôle in the world’s history.

At present, the International appears like a little[187] cloud on the horizon, no larger than a man’s hand, but it is possible that it points to growths and formations which in the future shall darken the heavens with black and heavy clouds. It is possible, it foreshadows a tragedy of world-wide import, which shall make all the cruelty and terror of the French Revolution sink into utter insignificance. It is possible, it portends the destruction of old, antiquated institutions, and the birth of a new civilization in a night of darkness and horror, in which the roll of thunder shall shake the earth’s foundations, and the vivid glare of lightning shall reveal a carnival of bloodshed and slaughter.

These are all possibilities, but let us trust that they are not probabilities. The International Workingmen’s Association is one of many signs which gives us reason to hope for a continued growth of international relations; and this growth may terminate in that longed-for internationalism, which shall lead to the formation of a world-organization, guaranteeing to the nations of the earth perpetual peace. There are numerous evidences of this development, of which the following are a few examples; the international postal union, international congresses, international courts of arbitration, and the efforts to establish international factory legislation. It was once hoped that free-trade would help on the good work by knitting nation to nation so firmly that they would realize the identity of their interests. In this people have been disappointed. Free-trade has united, perhaps, a few great merchants and manufacturers, and led to cosmopolitan feelings among the wealthier classes. The masses have never been affected by questions of international commerce. It may be that an international union between the laborers of all lands will finally force upon[188] men the recognition of the folly and crime of war, and will bring to pass that peace and good-will among men prophesied so long ago.



The most interesting figure in the history of social democracy is incontestably Ferdinand Lassalle. In some respects he resembled Marx. He also was of Hebrew descent, and belonged to the higher classes of society. Both were interested in the welfare of the lower classes, and made sacrifices willingly in behalf of their cause. Both intended to become university professors, and there is not the shadow of a reason to doubt that both might have succeeded as such. Lassalle, the son of a wealthy wholesale merchant of Breslau, was born in 1825. His father wished him to devote himself to business, but Lassalle was too fond of his studies to consent. He went to the universities of Breslau and Berlin, where he devoted himself to philology and philosophy. His career as a student was brilliant in the extreme. The most distinguished men of the time were carried away with admiration. Wilhelm von Humboldt called him “Das Wunderkind”—“The Miraculous Child.” His first literary work was an exposition of the “Philosophy of Heraclitus the Obscure.”[181] “Before this book,” to use the words of another, “Humboldt and the whole world bent[190] the knee.” Lassalle’s second important work was one on a system of jurisprudence entitled, “The System of Acquired Rights”—“Das System der erworbenen Rechte” (2 Bde.). The great jurist Savigny called it the ablest legal book which had been written since the sixteenth century. It was published in 1861. Before this, Lassalle had become interested in the case of the Countess von Hatzfeldt, the misused wife of a wealthy but brutal man. While he was indulging in the most extravagant dissipation, she was obliged to live in cramped circumstances. The Countess had begun a suit against her husband for separation and alimony, but did not make much headway until Lassalle took charge of the case, in 1846. After an eight years’ contest, he secured a brilliant triumph. The Countess, although over forty, was still beautiful, and Lassalle, in taking up her case, appears to have been actuated by the same motives as the knights-errant of an earlier period who went about redressing wrong and protecting the weak. The entire affair is illustrative of his fiery, romantic temperament.

It was in 1862 that Lassalle began his agitation in behalf of the laboring classes, an agitation which resulted in the formation of the German Social Democratic Party. Previous to his time, German laborers had been considered contented and peaceable. It had been thought that a working-men’s party might be established in France or England, but that it was hopeless to attempt to move the phlegmatic German laborers. Lassalle’s historical importance lies in the fact that he was able to work upon the laborers so powerfully as to arouse them to action. It is due to Lassalle above all others that German working-men’s battalions, to use the social democratic expression, now[191] form the vanguard in the struggle for the emancipation of labor.

Lassalle’s writings did not advance materially the theory of social democracy. He drew from Rodbertus and Marx in his economic writings, but he clothed their thoughts in such manner as to enable ordinary laborers to understand them, and this they never could have done without such help. Even for an educated man their works are not easy reading; for the uneducated they are quite incomprehensible. Lassalle’s speeches and pamphlets were eloquent sermons on texts taken from Marx. Lassalle gave to Ricardo’s law of wages the designation, the iron law of wages, and expounded to the laborers its full significance, showing them how it inevitably forced wages down to a level just sufficient to enable them to live. He acknowledged that it was the key-stone of his system, and that his doctrines stood or fell with it.

Laborers were told that this law could be overthrown only by the abolition of the wages system. How Lassalle really thought this was to be accomplished is not so evident. He proposed to the laborers that government should aid them by the use of its credit to the extent of 100,000,000 of thalers, to establish co-operative associations for production; and a great deal of breath has been wasted to show the inadequacy of his proposed measures. Lassalle could not himself have supposed that so insignificant a matter as the granting of a small loan would solve the labor question. He recognized, however, that it was necessary to have some definite party programme to insure success in agitation, and could think of no better plan at the time than to work for universal suffrage and a government subsidy. He wrote to his[192] friend Rodbertus to the effect that he was willing to drop the latter plank in his platform, if something better could be suggested.[182] It would be going too far to say that he was positively insincere, for he might have thought that if government had voted the proposed credit of one hundred millions, it would have opened the way for other reforms. He might have regarded this modest proposal merely as an entering wedge.

Lassalle took this project of productive co-operative associations founded on government loans from Louis Blanc, with whose work he was well acquainted; indeed, as he began his agitation, he wrote to the French socialist, and requested some kind of an open letter of recognition which should give him credit with the laborers.[183] We may get some clew to thoughts possibly lingering in the background, which Lassalle might have intended to express later by recalling the proposals of the Frenchman. Louis Blanc, as will be remembered, wished government to use its power of taxation to assist the social workshops with large advances of money, for which no interest was to be charged. No one was to be forced to join these ateliers sociaux. According to this scheme private manufacturers are allowed to continue their business as long as they choose. However, as no interest is paid for the government loans to the co-operative[193] undertakings, the public establishments will be in a position to undersell private employers of labor and thus compel them to fall in line. The only possible termination is the socialistic state. As Lassalle was thoroughly informed concerning Blanc’s ideas, it is quite possible that in the course of time he may have intended to go equally far. The way he presented the matter to the laborers was somewhat as follows: There exists at present a conflict between labor and capital, which must be abolished. This contradiction between the elements of production can only be terminated by their union in co-operative associations, in which no capitalist comes between the working-man and the fruits of his toil, to levy toll thereon. But at the present time only large establishments can succeed, as the increased division of labor makes it necessary to employ a large force of men, and mechanical inventions have forced producers to use many and expensive machines. The laborers have not the means to found large manufactories; consequently government must advance these means in order to cause the existing and unhappy social conflict to cease. Government is to advance capital to different groups of laborers, who conduct various enterprises. These groups are associated, new ones are continually added, and, finally, their united power is so great that they can stand alone without government aid.

This all appears harmless enough, and no government would be justified in refusing 100,000,000 of thalers, or $75,000,000, if so much good could be done by it. But one of the ablest men of his time must have been fully conscious of the utter insufficiency of such a sum. If he had any other idea in his mind[194] than simply to use his demand of government as a rallying-point for purposes of agitation, it cannot well be doubted that he had further petitions to address to government as soon as they had granted his first one. It is not at all improbable he might have been willing to see collateral inheritances abolished, and the income derived therefrom devoted to co-operative undertakings. Proposals, like abolition of interest on loans, must have followed, with the view of rendering private competition impossible. Thus would be introduced the socialistic state longed for by the social democratic party founded by Lassalle.

“On the 23d of May, 1863, German social democracy was born. Little importance was attached to the event at the time. A few men met at Leipsic, and, under the leadership of Ferdinand Lassalle, formed a new political party called the ‘Universal German Laborers’ Union’ (‘Der Allgemeine Deutsche Arbeiterverein’). That was all. Surely, no one could be expected to ascribe great weight to the fact that a handful of working-men, led by a dreamer, had met and passed a few resolutions—resolutions, too, as modest in their expression of purpose as they were harmless in appearance. It was simply declared that the laborers ought to be represented in the different German parliaments, as only thus could their interests be adequately cared for and the opposition between the various classes of society terminated; and in view of this fact it was resolved that the members of the Union should avail themselves of all peaceful and legal means in endeavoring to bring about universal suffrage.

“But it was soon discovered that the members of the Union, the first organization in Germany of social democracy, desired political power only as a means of[195] overthrowing entirely the existing order of the production and distribution of wealth.”[184]

Lassalle never tired of representing in vivid colors the injustice of our present social institutions. The crimes, selfishness, and heartlessness of the bourgeoisie were unfailing topics in his agitation. The laborers were told that they had no right to be contented with their lot. It is this damnable, easily satisfied disposition of you German laborers which is your ruin, they were told.[185]

“The German laborer was finally moved. His anger and discontent became permanent and terrible in proportion as it had been difficult to arouse him. He was not to be easily pacified. He soon showed strength and determination in such manner as to attract the attention of the civilized world. Statesmen grew pale and kings trembled.”[186]

Lassalle did not live to see the fruits of his labors. He met with some success and celebrated a few triumphs, but the Union did not flourish as he hoped. At the time of his death he did not appear to have a firm, lasting hold on the laboring population. There then existed no social-democratic party with political power. Although Lassalle lost his life in a duel, which had its origin in a love affair, and not in any struggle for the rights of labor, he was canonized at once by the working-men, and took his place among the greatest martyrs and heroes of all times. His influence increased more than tenfold as soon as he ceased to live.[196] This was not entirely undeserved. Men remembered and appreciated better his extraordinary talents and his ardent, romantic temperament. Even Bismarck, with whom he had been personally acquainted, took occasion once, in the Reichstag, to express his admiration for Lassalle. I was in Germany at the time, and remember well what a sensation his words created. He expressed himself as follows:[187] “I met Lassalle three or four times. Our relations were not of a political nature. Politically he had nothing which he could offer me. He attracted me extraordinarily as a private man. Lassalle was one of the most gifted and amiable men with whom I have ever associated—a man who was ambitious on a grand scale, but not the least of a republican. He had a very marked inclination towards a national monarchy; the idea towards the attainment of which his efforts were directed was the German Empire, and in this we found a point of contact. Lassalle was ambitious on a grand scale, and whether the German Empire should close with the house of Hohenzollern or the house of Lassalle, that was perhaps doubtful; but his sympathies were through and through monarchical.... Lassalle was an energetic and exceedingly clever man, and it was always instructive to talk with him. Our conversations have lasted for hours, and I have always regretted their close.... It would have given me great pleasure to have had a similarly gifted man for a neighbor in my country home.”

It has, indeed, been stated that Lassalle, at the time of his death, had some thoughts of making terms[197] with the Prussian government. He was to come out as a supporter of Bismarck, and to receive a high appointment in return. I am unable to say how much truth there may be in this report. It is possible he may have begun to lose faith in social democracy; still it must be confessed that he was not a man to be easily diverted from a purpose which he had once formed. This is abundantly shown by his indomitable perseverance in the case of the Countess von Hatzfeldt. It is nevertheless significant that the second edition of his “System of Acquired Rights,” which appeared in 1881, was edited by Lothar Bucher, who bears the title of privy-councillor and holds a high position under the government in Berlin.

There are three doctrines upon which the social democratic leaders lay especial stress in their attacks on the economic institutions of to-day.

The first is “Das eherne Lohngesetz”—“The Iron Law of Wages”—or “Cruel Iron Law of Wages,” as it is also called. It is with this law that the name of Lassalle is especially connected.

The second doctrine teaches the systematic robbery of laborers by capitalists. They rob them by taking from them all the surplus value which they produce, over and above the means necessary to sustain life. This is Marx’s doctrine of the appropriation of surplus value (Mehrwerth) by employers.

The third doctrine is Marx’s theory of industrial crises and panics.

What is “The Iron Law of Wages”? It is, as already stated, only Lassalle’s statement and interpretation of Ricardo’s “Law of Wages.” Ricardo expresses his law in these words: “The natural price of labor is that price which is necessary to enable the laborers,[198] one with another, to subsist and to perpetuate their race, without either increase or diminution.” Ricardo has previously explained what is to be understood by market price and what by natural price. Market price is the price actually obtained for an article; the natural price is that which pays labor and the profits of capital. Through miscalculation, too much or too little of a commodity is at times offered on the market, and it departs from its natural price. If too little is offered, profits will be too high, and capital will rush to the production of the commodity in order to gain the unusual profits, until competition forces them down to the usual rate, or, very likely, below it, when capital will be withdrawn from the production of said commodity. So the market price fluctuates about the natural price with a continual tendency to return to it. Now, labor is a commodity, and may be increased or diminished in quantity like other commodities. In an advancing state of society the market price will be above the natural price, and may continue so for a long time; but early and frequent marriages and large families will produce all the labor required, and reduce it to its natural price eventually. In a declining state of society, on the other hand, labor would sink below its natural price, and the supply would diminish on account of frequent deaths, few marriages, and small families.

This law of wages may be difficult for those to comprehend who are not thoroughly familiar with economic discussions. In order to make it clearer, I will quote, with a few changes and abbreviations, a passage of some length from John Stuart Mill,[188][199] giving a lucid explanation of the law. “Mr. Ricardo assumes,” says Mill, “that there is everywhere a minimum rate of wages—either the lowest with which it is physically possible to keep up the population, or the lowest with which the people will choose to do. To this minimum he assumes that the general rate of wages always tends; that they can never be lower beyond the length of time required for a diminished rate of increase to make itself felt, and can never long continue higher. This assumption contains sufficient truth to render it admissible for the purposes of abstract science.... But in the application to practice it is necessary to consider that the minimum of which he speaks, especially when it is not a physical, but what may be termed a moral minimum, is itself liable to vary.” A rise of the price of food will permanently lower the standard of living of laborers, “in case their previous habits in respect of population prove stronger than their previous habits in respect of comfort. In that case the injury done to them will be permanent, and their deteriorated condition will become a new minimum, tending to perpetuate itself as the more ample minimum did before.” It is to be feared that this is the way in which a rise in the price of provisions usually operates. “There is considerable evidence that the circumstances of the agricultural laborers in England have more than once in our history sustained great permanent deterioration from causes which operated by diminishing the demand for labor, and which, if population had exercised its power of self-adjustment, in obedience to the previous standard of comfort, could only have had a temporary effect; but, unhappily, the poverty in which the class was plunged during a long series of years[200] brought that previous standard into disuse, and the next generation, growing up without having possessed those pristine comforts, multiplied in turn without any attempt to retrieve them.” ... The salutary effect of a fall in the price of food is of no permanent value “if laborers content themselves with enjoying the greater comfort while it lasts, but do not learn to require it.... If from poverty their children had previously been insufficiently fed or improperly nursed, a greater number will now be reared, and the competition of these, when they grow up, will depress wages probably in full proportion to the greater cheapness of food. If the effect is not produced in this mode, it will be produced by earlier and more numerous marriages, or by an increased number of births to a marriage.” I believe Mill renders the law as plain as it can be made, without entering into subjects foreign to this work. The standpoint is this: labor is a commodity, like wheat or potatoes, which is increased or decreased according to the existing demand. The laborers live not for themselves, but solely for the higher classes, in particular, for the capitalists. This is the way Lassalle expresses it to the laborers of Frankfort in an eloquent speech, which has not yet ceased to be a power in Germany: “What is the consequence of that law, which, as I have proved to you, is accepted by all political economists? What is the consequence of the same? I ask. You believe, perhaps, laborers and fellow-citizens, that you are human beings—that you are men. Speaking from the standpoint of political economy, you make a terrible mistake. Speaking from the standpoint of political economy, you are nothing but a commodity, a high price for which increases your numbers, just the same as a high price[201] for stockings increases the number of stockings, if there are not enough of them; and you are swept away, your number is diminished by smaller wages—by what Malthus calls the preventive and positive checks to population; your number is diminished, just as if you were vermin against which society wages war.” Lassalle then shows them how much shorter the average of life is among the laboring classes than among the wealthy. He demonstrates to them that poor and insufficient food means starvation. “There are, gentlemen,” says he, “two ways of dying of starvation. It, indeed, happens seldom that a man falls down dead in a moment from hunger; but when a man is subjected to a greater expenditure of power than he is able to replace, on account of poor food or a miserable mode of life—when he gives out more physical energy than he takes in—then, I say, he dies of slow starvation.”

Rehearse this in a thousand different ways and with all the resources of oratorical art, to laborers really ill-fed, ill-housed, and ill-clothed, and you shall indeed find yourself soon standing upon a volcano, whose forces are no longer latent and slumbering.

In his definition of capital Lassalle clothes the same thought contained in his “Iron Law of Wages” in other words. The definition reads as follows: “Capital exists where a division of labor obtains and where production consists in the creation of values in exchange, and in such a system of production it is the advance of labor already performed (congealed, coagulated labor), which is necessary to sustain the life of the producer. This advance of coagulated labor brings it to pass that the excess of labor’s product over and above what is necessary to support the life of the producer[202] accrues to the person or persons who made the advance.”

The more one reflects upon this definition, the more meaning is discovered in it. It has furnished the text for many a social-democratic sermon. Like Marx, Lassalle holds that capital is based on a theft—on that theft, namely, “which deprived the masses of their right in the soil, in the earth—the common heritage of all.”

It is substantially the same doctrine which we have met with so often—viz., that labor alone is the source of wealth, and if capitalist and landlord could be swept out of existence the entire social product would go to the laborer. It resulted from a one-sided development of certain teachings of Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations.” “The produce of labor,” says Adam Smith, in one place—and, as will be seen, he means the entire product—“constitutes the natural recompense or wages of labor.

“In that original state of things which precedes both the appropriation of land and the accumulation of stock, the whole produce of labor belongs to the laborer. He has neither landlord nor master to share with him.

“Had this state continued, the wages of labor would have augmented with all those improvements in its productive powers to which the division of labor gives occasion. All things would gradually have become cheaper. They would have been produced by a smaller quantity of labor; and as the commodities produced by equal quantities of labor would naturally, in this state of things, be exchanged for one another, they would have been purchased likewise with the produce of a smaller quantity.”[189]


Repeat this to the man toiling and moiling for a bare subsistence, while he crouches before the employing capitalist surfeited in luxury; or to the poor tenant farmer, whose half-starved family can hardly find the wherewithal to cover their nakedness, while his absentee landlord indulges in the extravagant pleasures of a gay capital—and do you imagine that from it he will be slow to draw a very natural conclusion, and one fraught with tremendous practical consequences? If that originally and naturally belonged to him which another now enjoys, will he not long to return to the state of nature? As he reflects upon his wrongs and sufferings, will he not be filled with hatred towards that one who, as he thinks, unjustly and cruelly keeps him from the fruits of his labor? And as time goes on, and the hardships he endures sink more and more deeply into his mind, will he not finally, in desperation, resolve to put down his oppressor, be he landlord or be he capitalist, and to reverse, by the force of a strong right arm, an unnatural and artificial social organization?

In that thought and in that determination originated social democracy.



Social democrats form the extreme wing of the socialists, though, at present, many of them are inclined to lay so much stress on equality of enjoyment, regardless of the value of one’s labor, that they might, perhaps, more properly be called communists. But as they are usually known as social democrats, and as the name is not likely to lead to misunderstanding, there is no reason why we should not adhere to the ordinary appellation, especially as there are those among them who do not favor equality. They ought scarcely to be called simply socialists.

They have two distinguishing characteristics. The vast majority of them are laborers, and, as a rule, they expect the violent overthrow of existing institutions by revolution to precede the introduction of the socialistic state. I would not, by any means, say that they are all revolutionists, but the most of them undoubtedly are. The tendency of their popular writings is revolutionary. They are calculated to accustom the thoughts to revolution, and to excite the feelings of laborers to such a pitch as to prepare them for risking all in battle. If one of their prominent organs, as, for example, Their People’s Calendar (Der arme Conrad—“The Poor Conrad”) for 1878, is examined, one finds revolution mentioned frequently,[205] and invariably in such manner as to popularize revolution as revolution. Even the most exceptionable doings of the masses in the French Revolution, in the revolutions of 1848, and in the insurrection of the commune in 1871, are glorified. Every fallen laborer becomes a hero and a martyr. Hitherto the people—so the readers of the Arme Conrad are told—have fought for others, but the next time they engage in battle it will be for themselves, and they will then obtain their well-earned wages.

The most general demands of the social democrats are the following: The state should exist exclusively for the laborers; land and capital must become collective property, and production be carried on unitedly. Private competition, in the ordinary sense of the term, is to cease. Officers, especially charged with this function, are, by means of carefully collected statistics, to regulate production according to the needs of the people. Our present money is to be replaced by money representing labor units; labor is to become the sole purchasing power. One of the party programmes requires a distribution of products according to the needs of each recipient. Some of the planks of the social democratic platforms would find sympathy with the best people in America and England. So, for example, their unceasing demand that even the present state should forbid work on Sunday, the employment of very young children, and labor injurious to the health and morality of working-women. Social democrats have never failed to recognize the advantages of education and the need of improved methods of instruction. Their cry, as that of all popular leaders, is to increase the appropriations for educational purposes. It is unfortunately significant[206] that while in America proposals to decrease the pitiable salaries of school-teachers and otherwise diminish school expenses are often calmly and favorably listened to by even the poorer people, in Germany no popular politician or newspaper would dare advocate such measures. Every project for increasing the school appropriations is there regarded with favor by the great masses of the people.

Even now, despite the movement of the party, as a whole, towards communism, many of the best educated and most intelligent of the social democrats are, no doubt, socialistically, rather than communistically, inclined. I am speaking here not of the professional agitators—those who make the most noise. These classes control the social democratic conventions, and since the death of Lassalle they have approached more and more nearly to the purest communism. By those who are socialistically inclined, I mean such members of the party as do not think of all as occupying like positions in the socialistic state, but expect it will be organized more on the plan of an army. It is, in fact, on this account that so many social democrats look with complacency on the great standing armies of modern times, which include every able-bodied man in their service for a considerable period of his life. They are training-schools for the future social organization. It will thus be seen that emulation and rivalry are provided for, as at present in the army. Those who serve society best will be promoted. The higher officers will receive larger salaries than the lower, while the rank and file will correspond to the laborers of to-day. Industry and intelligence will enable one to rise, but there will be no heaping up of private productive property from[207] generation to generation, for all the means of production will be in the hands of the state—that is, of society collectively. Property which will not enable one to avoid labor, as books, pictures, statuary, all sorts of ornaments, household furniture, etc., will remain private property, and be transmitted from father to son. The children of the higher orders of society will, of course, still enjoy, to a certain extent, superior advantages, inasmuch as they usually inherit greater talents, besides receiving the inestimable advantage of the personal training of gifted and highly educated parents. Fathers and mothers, it might be expected, would take more care than at present in bringing up their children, knowing that their social rank depended entirely on their ability to make themselves useful to society.

In a state like Prussia, where there is now a splendid civil service, the office-holders are often children of office-holding fathers—are, in fact, not rarely descended from families which have held office for generations.[190] The offices are open to universal competition, and are kept in the same families only by the exertions of the children and the self-denial of parents, in expending a large part of their incomes in giving them the best possible advantages. This might be expected to continue to a considerable extent in the ideal socialistic state. No one could, however, leave his children much else than personal talents and abilities well developed, save such articles of enjoyment as have been mentioned—paintings, old family plate, etc. Houses, lands, shops, machines, and everything which yields an income, belong to the socialistic state. No[208] one could be left in such a position as to avoid exertion of some kind. All are thought of as workers, but not what we call common laborers. There would be artists, writers, physicians, etc., as now. If any child of even the poorest member of society should give satisfactory evidence of any special aptitude or talent which might be developed so as to become useful to society, provision would be made for his special training after leaving the common-school. Every one would have an opportunity to attain the highest development of which he was capable. Those who were meant by nature for wood-choppers would not lead an idle life of dissipation, consuming the fruits of other people’s labor.

It is supposed that there would be no financial panics, with their terrible consequences, in the socialistic state. Indeed, if the socialistic ideas could be carried out, panics would be impossible. Every new invention, every advance, would accrue to the benefit of all. The greater the product, the greater the value of each day’s labor; and each one would receive the full product of his labor, as no capitalist would retain a part. Capital exists and increases, but always remains common property. All could live better; since many fold as much would be produced as now. At present the chief difficulty appears to be to avoid over-production. Government appoints a committee in Prussia to inquire into the cause of the late depression, and they report over-production; in England, committees also investigate and report likewise; in America, business companies and factory owners explain their distress by over-production, and are obliged to enter into mutual agreements to produce less. In the socialistic state over-production is an impossibility.[209] The great waste of competition, furthermore, would cease with the competition itself. Two railroads would not be built to perform the service which one could render as well, nor would six dry-goods shops exist in a town where two would be amply sufficient. This saving of capital, labor, energy, and talent would benefit all alike. Strikes, then unheard-of save as a reminiscence of the past, would no longer be a considerable element in the cost of production. Business failures would cease to impoverish the widow and the orphan.

It is impossible at present to enter into a criticism of social democracy and attempt to separate the true from the false. The comparison, however, which social democrats make between the future organization of society and that of the army is suggestive. It might be that we could afford to put up with what that implies, if we attained thereby all that is hoped; still it is terrible to think of army discipline extending itself over society in all its ramifications. To many—to the majority—the restraint would be a very great evil. Then it must be remembered that army discipline is maintained at the cost of no inconsiderable amount of actual, positive suffering. As Roscher pointedly remarks, there are thirty offences punishable with death according to the military penal code.

I have thus presented, in their most favorable aspect, the doctrines of social democrats, apart from the agitators who now preach them. The next chapter will afford an opportunity to judge whether or not the social democratic leaders of the present are men of such a character that it would be wise to give them despotic power over one’s life and actions.

Social democracy is not now precisely what it was[210] when it lost Ferdinand Lassalle, its greatest agitator. Nevertheless, he is still its father. It is the product of his activity. Lassalle did not write history: he created it. He accomplished certain facts which no power can undo. He infused into the minds of German laborers new thoughts, ideas, aspirations. German emigrants become missionaries, and carry with them, as they believe, a gospel of hope and promise, wherever they go. They hold, as Lassalle taught them, “that they are the state, that all political power ought to be of and through and for them, that their good and amelioration ought to be the aim of the state, that their affair is the affair of mankind, that their personal interest moves and beats with the pulse of history, with the living principle of moral development.”[191]

Thus have new factors, for good or for bad, entered into the life of the world, and with them we must deal.



The last chapter contained a description of the desires and demands of the German social democratic party, without entering into any discussion of the careers and characters of its leaders or of the organizations which have been formed to support its programme. This chapter will treat of what may be called social democracy in the concrete. I shall first take up the external history of the political party which is designated by that name, and then enter into a consideration of its internal history. By its external history I mean an account of its outward life, as manifested in the field of politics; by its internal history I mean a description of the men who have led the party, and a presentation both of the ideas which have controlled it and the measures which it has adopted in its political and economic propaganda.

It was the introduction of universal suffrage by the North German Confederation, in 1867, and by the German Empire, in 1871, which enabled the social democrats to enter into political contests with any reasonable hope of success. German laborers do not appear previously to have played any rôle in the politics of their country. The Prussian constitution is so constructed as to give a preponderating influence to wealth. This is not the place to explain the Prussian[212] system of voting. It is only necessary to remark that the voters are divided into three classes, according to their wealth, and that a voter of the wealthiest class in Berlin counts for as much as fifteen voters of the poorest class. The laborer could not, of course, hope to gain political influence with such tremendous odds against him. It was to enable the poor man to fight his own battles that Lassalle demanded universal and equal suffrage for all. This was, as will be remembered, the only explicit demand of the social democratic party, contained in the statutes or by-laws of the “Universal German Laborers’ Union.” Lassalle appears to have been acquainted with Bismarck’s intention to embrace it in the constitution of the empire he was striving to found, and hoped great things therefrom. But as he died in 1864, and the citizens of the North German Confederation first voted in 1867, he was never able to make use of it in his agitation. It is not often profitable to speculate upon what might have happened if this or that event had not occurred, but it is self-evident that Lassalle’s agitation would have been very formidable if he could have led the laborers to the ballot-box and defended their cause, first in the North German, afterwards in the Imperial, parliaments, with all the resources of his learning, mental acumen, and impassioned eloquence. Lassalle’s death discouraged the social democrats for a moment only. It can scarcely be said that it caused an interruption in the progress of the party, though this progress would, we may believe, have been far more rapid had he lived. However, his death itself was made useful. Living, he could scarcely have been glorified as he was after his death, and his name could not have so influenced the laborers.


The social democrats entered into the contest for election of members to the Constituent Assembly of the North German Confederation. In one of the districts their candidate ran against Bismarck and a leading liberal, and received about one fourth of the votes cast for the three candidates. As no one received a majority, a new election was ordered, and Bismarck was elected by the aid of the social democrats, who always prefer conservatives to liberals. As Bismarck was elected in another district, it was necessary to vote for a third time in this place, when the social democrat ran against the celebrated liberal, Dr. Gneist, Professor of Constitutional Law in the University of Berlin, and one of the leading jurists in Germany. The votes were about evenly divided, but the social democrat was defeated by a small majority. The social democrats elected two representatives, however, and in the fall of the same year (1867) they sent eight members to the Parliament of the North German Confederation.

Since the organization of the German Empire the social democratic votes for members of the Imperial Parliament (Reichstag) have numbered as follows: 1871, 123,975; 1874, 351,952; 1877, 493,288; 1878, 437,158. The entire number of votes cast in 1877 was 5,401,021. We see, then, that the social democratic voters numbered over one eleventh of all the voters in that year. When it is remembered that there are nine or ten political parties represented in the Reichstag, it must be acknowledged that the elections revealed a large relative strength of the social democratic party. Its votes have, however, been so scattered that it has not had its proportionate number of representatives in Parliament. The social democratic[214] members of the Reichstag numbered two in 1871, nine in 1874, twelve in 1877, and nine in 1878. The total number of members of the Reichstag is about four hundred. It is thus seen that the social democratic party advanced in strength, as far as that is measured by votes, until 1878, when the decrease was only slight. Two attempts were made on the life of the Emperor William in that year, and the social democrats had to bear a good share of the blame. There was a considerable popular indignation manifested; private employers, as well as government, discharged laborers who entertained social democratic principles; and in the elections following the police put every obstacle in the way of the party. In the Reichstag the celebrated socialistic law was passed, which gave government exceptional and despotic powers to proceed against social democracy. The severity of the government appears to have done more harm than good. In spite of what can be fairly designated as persecution, in the elections which took place in October, 1881, the social democrats secured thirteen seats, the largest number they have ever yet gained.[192] This is, indeed, significant when it is remembered that the exceptional law (Ausnahmegesetz) allows severe measures against the social democrats which would not even be thought of against any other party. Government has thus been enabled to suspend all their party newspapers, to prohibit the sale of their books and pamphlets, and to suppress all public agitation of the party. Their associations were dissolved, and for[215] a hotel-keeper even to rent them rooms for a meeting was made an offence punishable with imprisonment for a length of time varying from one month to a year.

The German government was undoubtedly placed in a trying position, but they appear to have made a mistake. It is said that at the time the Ausnahmegesetz was passed, things were in a bad way with the social democrats. They had twenty or thirty journals, but many of them were on the point of bankruptcy. Differences existed in the party, and no one seemed to know what to do next. It is possible, if the party had been left alone, it might have fallen into a sad state of disorganization, and have become so weak that it would have ceased to trouble the peace of the government for years. However this might have been, it is certain that the measures of government were not altogether unwelcome to the party leaders. It relieved them of numerous perplexities. It was much better, e.g., for them to have their newspapers and magazines suspended by government than to cease to appear for lack of support. Governmental persecution united the divided members and gave new energy to all. Every social democratic laborer experienced, to a certain extent, the elevating feelings of martyrdom. They all became secret missionaries, distributing tracts and exhorting individually their fellow-laborers to join the struggle for the emancipation of labor.

The German social democrats have held two congresses since the socialistic law, both, of course, on foreign soil, and both have indicated progress. The first was held at Wyden, Switzerland, August 20-23, 1880. This resulted in a complete triumph for the more moderate party. The two leading extremists,[216] Hasselmann and Most, were both expelled from the party—the former by all save three votes, the latter by all save two.

The next congress was held at Copenhagen, Denmark, from March 29 to April 2, 1883. It exhibited greater unanimity of sentiment and plan, and a more wide-spread interest in social democracy, than any previous congress. One feature of interest was the very considerable financial aid from America which was reported.[193]

“Bismarck has acknowledged that the measures which government has adopted up to this time have not proved successful in weakening social democracy, or in checking, in any effectual manner, its spread among the people. But he claims that he has not as yet carried out his full programme. This is true. During the discussion upon the socialistic law of October 21, 1878, he declared distinctly that he did not expect to cure the masses of the disease of social democracy by repressive measures alone. Something more than external remedies was needed. The social democrats had built upon well-grounded discontent of the people, and he proposed to win back the masses for king and fatherland by removing the grounds of discontent. These grounds were of an economic nature. Wages were low, taxes high, work scarce, and the entire economic existence of the lower classes uncertain and full of anxiety. But what was to be done about it? No one knew exactly, but all looked forward with eagerness to Bismarck’s proposals. Two years passed away without bringing any of his plans[217] to light. People began to think that the promises of relief to the poor had been thrown out simply as a bait to catch votes for the bill which became the socialistic law.”[194] That they were intended to serve this purpose is undoubted. The only question is whether Bismarck really intended to make any attempt to carry through legislation in behalf of the laborers. The lapse of time made men sceptical. The opinion more and more prevailed that the last had been heard of government institutions designed to ameliorate the condition of the poor. “But Bismarck has a good memory and a strong will. When he has once made up his mind to pursue a certain course of action he is not to be diverted therefrom. More than once Germany has thought that he had forgotten some threat or resolve because he allowed years to slip by without making any public move towards the execution of his plans, but in such cases she has reckoned without her host. It now looks as if Bismarck might have meant all he said when he promised to use the power of the state to relieve the poor classes. He had not for a moment forgotten his promise, but was only working out his plans and waiting for an opportune moment to execute them.” The German emperor, too, had been urging him forward in the path he had marked out for government. The old Kaiser—who seems, in his way, to have a warm, fatherly affection for his people—professed his distress at the sufferings of the unfortunate, and maintained his sincere desire to relieve them. He was an old man, he said, and he longed to[218] see the labor question satisfactorily adjusted before his death. To one who realizes the utter impossibility of his seeing this pious wish gratified, there is something undeniably touching in the simple and honest expressions of this good-natured father of his people. “Early in the year 1881 the Reichstag obtained an earnest of Bismarck’s plans for pacifying the discontented elements in Germany in the Accident Insurance bill, which is merely an episode in the history of German socialism. The aim of the measure is to make provision for industrial laborers injured in the prosecution of their callings, or for their families when they are killed. It is proposed to establish a great insurance society somewhat like the one founded and managed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Company.[195] The resemblance between many features of the two plans is, indeed, surprising. It is desired, however, in Germany, that government should bear a portion of the expenses; at any rate, that is one characteristic of the government bill. Government also wishes to manage the insurance society or societies undertaking this work, although it might allow employers and employees some representation in the administration of the business. In both these respects the bill is clearly socialistic, and no one is better aware of this than Prince Bismarck. It has been deliberately decided that private individuals, or voluntary combinations of private individuals, are unable to perform all the duties of society towards the poorer classes. The state is to become a benefactor and protector of the weak and needy. Bills introduced by[219] government are always accompanied with so-called ‘motives,’ explaining and defending them. The ‘motives’ accompanying the Accident Insurance bill opened with these words: ‘That the state should care for its poorer members in a higher degree than it has formerly done is a duty demanded not only by humanity and Christianity—and the institutions of state should be penetrated through and through by Christianity—but it is also a measure required for the preservation of the state. A sound policy should nourish in the indigent classes of the population, which are the most numerous and least instructed, the view that the state is a beneficial, as well as a necessary, arrangement. Legislative measures must bring them direct, easily perceived advantages, to the end that they may learn to regard the state not merely as an institution devised for the protection of the wealthier classes, but as one which likewise ministers to their needs and interests.’”

Bismarck proposes, then, to conquer social democracy by recognizing and adopting into his own platform what there is of good in its demands. It is curious to notice that friends of Bismarck and supporters of the government have even gone so far as to adopt some of the social democratic phrases. They have spoken of the laborers as the “disinherited” classes of society. Yet this originated with the social democrats; and a few years ago government gave as one reason for prohibiting the sale of a certain book in Germany the fact that it called the laborers the “disinherited” (die Enterbten). Thus far has Bismarck gone in the way of making concessions. In the one point of the Accident Insurance bill he has drawn a number of social democrats to his support. They look[220] upon it as only a beginning, and, indeed, Bismarck has proposed to add features making provision for old age and for death from disease and other causes than accident. But all that Bismarck has promised is to them only one step. Those who regard the matter in this light are willing to support him in this first step. Bebel, one of their leaders at present, was one of the most earnest supporters of Bismarck’s Insurance bill in the Reichstag, when the measure was brought forward. Kayser, another social democrat, declared that he would let no one “terrorize him—he would defend Bismarck.” All this makes a strange impression upon us when we remember the cruelties and persecutions which the social democrats have suffered through the instrumentality of the great German statesman. It is amusing, and, at the same time, it is not devoid of a certain pathos. It reminds one of an ancient prophecy—“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock.”

However, the two parties drew near together only for one special purpose, and but for a moment. No reconciliation has taken place between the opposing elements of industrial society in Germany. Only one of Bismarck’s schemes for the amelioration of the condition of the laboring man has been adopted.

In treating of these schemes I have brought the external history of social democracy down to the present moment, for they are to-day being discussed in Germany. They are viewed with the deepest distrust by large classes of the population, and Parliament has greeted them coolly. Were they accepted, they alone would not be sufficient to cure so deep-seated a disease; perhaps they would scarcely mitigate it. Radical changes, not to be hoped for in our lifetime, must[221] take place before the conflict between capitalist and laborer—between rich and poor—will cease to disturb the peace of Christendom. The evil is rooted in the very nature of society itself, and can only terminate in a transformation and moral elevation of the various social elements. Its cause lies deeper than the agitation of Karl Marx or the eloquence of Ferdinand Lassalle, who only acted upon latent feelings and expressed thoughts, of which the laborers had already a dim consciousness. Sooner or later their feelings were bound to become active and their thoughts to find adequate expression.

Roscher, in his “Political Economy,” describes five conditions which, meeting together, produce communistic and socialistic movements. As his description of them has become celebrated, and explains not the mere surface phenomena, but the underlying causes of communism and socialism, I think it worth while to present them. I shall, however, take the liberty of making abbreviations and changes, and interspersing such remarks of my own as will better adapt the description to the purpose of this volume.

The first condition is “a well-defined confrontation of rich and poor. So long as there is a middle-class of considerable numbers between them, the two extremes are kept, by its moral force, from coming into collision. There is no greater preservative against envy of the superior classes and contempt for the inferior than the gradual and unbroken fading of one class of society into another.... But when the rich and the poor are separated by an abyss which there is no hope of ever crossing, how pride, on the one side, and envy, on the other, rage! and especially in the centres of industry, the great cities, where the deepest[222] misery is found side by side with the most brazen-faced luxury, and where the wretched themselves, conscious of their numbers, mutually excite their own bad passions. It cannot, unfortunately, be denied that when a nation has attained the acme of its development we find a multitude of tendencies prevailing to make the rich richer and the poor, at least relatively, poorer, and thus to diminish the number of the middle-class from both sides; unless, indeed, remedial influences are brought to bear and to operate in a contrary direction.”

The second condition mentioned is “a high degree of the division of labor, by which, on the one hand, the mutual dependence of man on man grows ever greater, but by which, at the same time, the eye of the uncultured man becomes less and less able to perceive the connection existing between merit and reward, or service and remuneration. Let us betake ourselves in imagination to Crusoe’s island. There, when one man, after the labor of many months, has hollowed out a tree into a canoe, with no tools but an animal’s tooth, it does not occur to another, who, in the meantime, was, it may be, sleeping on the skin of some wild animal, to contest the right of the former to the fruit of his labor. How different this from the condition of things where civilization is advanced, as it is in our day; where the banker, by a single stroke of his pen, seems to earn a thousand times more than a day-laborer in a week; where, in the case of those who lend money on interest, their debtors too frequently forget how laborious was the process of acquiring the capital by the possessors, or their predecessors in ownership! More especially, we have in times of over-population whole masses of honest men asking,[223] not alms, but only work—an opportunity to earn their bread, and yet on the verge of starvation.”

The third condition: “A violent shaking or perplexing of public opinion in its relation to the feeling of right by revolutions, especially when they follow rapidly one on the heels of another, and take opposite directions. On such occasions both parties have generally prostituted themselves for the sake of the favor of the masses.... In this way they are stirred up to the making of pretentious claims which it is afterwards very difficult to silence.” It is in this prostitution of parties that our greatest danger in the United States lies. It is already sought to influence large classes by promises of office. The evils of political contests controlled by those who hope to gain offices and those who fear they may lose them will increase in two ways. First, the number of offices will necessarily become greater with the increase of population and the growth of public business. Instead of one hundred thousand federal office-holders, we will yet have two hundred thousand. Second, as population increases, and it becomes ever more and more difficult to gain one’s bread, to say nothing about ascending the social ladder, public offices will be coveted even more than at present, and over each one there will be waged a bitter personal warfare. What, then, we have to fear is that, as in ancient Rome, politicians will strive to influence the great masses by promises of favors—food and entertainments (panem et circenses). If a beginning is ever made in that direction the enemies of the republic will have already crossed the rubicon. It behooves us to stop in the downward path before it is too late. This can be done only by putting our civil service—federal, state, and municipal—on a sound moral basis.


The fourth condition: “Pretensions of the lower classes in consequence of a democratic constitution. Communism is the logically not inconsistent exaggeration of the principle of equality.” If you reflect upon it, you will perceive that political equality, in the course of time, very naturally leads to thoughts of economic equality—equality in the enjoyment of spiritual and material goods.

The fifth condition: “A general decay of religion and morality in the people. When every one regards wealth as a sacred trust or office, coming from God, and poverty as a divine dispensation, intended to educate and develop those afflicted thereby, and considers all men as brothers, and this earthly life only as a preparation for eternity, even extreme differences of property lose their irritating and demoralizing power. On the other hand, the atheist and materialist becomes only too readily a mammonist, and the poor mammonist falls only too easily into that despair which would gladly kindle a universal conflagration, in order either to plunder or lose his own life.” The maxim of the materialist, sunk in poverty and despair, is, as is noticed, not that noble one of our fathers, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but “Give me pleasure, enjoyment in this life, or let me die in my misery.” “The rich mammonist aggravates this sad condition of things when he casts suspicion on all wealth by the immorality of the means he takes to acquire it and the sinfulness of his enjoyments.”[196]

Turning to the internal history of social democracy[225] after Lassalle’s death, we have first to notice the condition of the “Universal German Laborers’ Union” since that event. It was controlled for some time by the Countess von Hatzfeldt. Her former connection with Lassalle and the possession of large financial resources enabled her for some time to maintain her position as its leading spirit. She interested herself in politics, however, more on account of Lassalle than for the sake of the laborers. She wished to honor his memory and promote the cause which had been dear to him.

Before Lassalle died he mentioned the name of a man whom he recommended as his successor in the presidency of the “Laborers’ Union.” The choice was not a happy one. The new president soon made enemies of the ablest members of the Union, and finally had a falling-out with the countess, in whose house he lived, and who, for the sake of the cause, supported him. It appears that one day the countess commissioned him to purchase butter and cheese for the household. This was too much for the poor president. He regarded the performance of such offices as incompatible with his manly dignity and the respect due his high and honorable position. He did not, indeed, fail to appreciate to the fullest extent the honor which Lassalle had conferred upon him. Identifying the Union with all mankind, he was accustomed to sign himself “President of Humanity.” He compared his noiseless activity to the gentle rain, which, without thunder and lightning, gradually penetrates the hard crust of the earth.

The amenities of life among the social democrats are curiously illustrated by their dissensions during the presidency of this man—Becker by name. Becoming[226] enraged at Marx once, he proposed that the author of “Capital” and the founder of the International should embalm himself with his International and have himself hung in the chimney as a mad herring. In return for this Liebknecht moved, in the Berlin association, that Becker should be expelled from the Union as a low-minded slanderer and a hopelessly incurable idiot.[197]

New presidents were elected yearly for two or three years, but the countess could agree with none. She finally withdrew, with her followers, and established a new association, called the “Female Line.” It never played a considerable rôle, and in a few years died a natural death.

After the withdrawal of the countess the “Universal Laborers’ Union” showed good sense enough to elect their ablest man president. This was Jean Baptista von Schweitzer, a dramatic writer of some note, whose comedies are considered among the best which have appeared recently. Perhaps the best known are “Die Darwinianer,” “Epidemisch,” and “Grosstädtisch.”

Von Schweitzer belonged to an old and wealthy patrician family of Frankfort-on-the-Main. He had led a dissipated life, been involved in a scandalous affair in Mannheim, and become a noted roué. When society in Frankfort could tolerate him no longer he took up his abode in another city, but here again became suspected of improper acts. It is surprising that a man of such character should join the laborers and declaim about their hardships. While it is possible that he was so thoroughly blasé that he could find[227] needed excitement in no other way, I should prefer to regard this move on his part as the first step in a better path. He was a man of talent, and was never entirely absorbed in sensual pleasures. When he took up the cause of the social democrats he began to think about other things than his own selfish and immoral gratifications. For four years he held the post of president of the “Universal German Laborers’ Union;” and in this position not only displayed administrative ability of a high order, but manifested an unwearied devotion in his leadership. He found the Union weak and about to fall to pieces; he left it a strong, compact body. The Social Democrat, one of the most prominent organs of the party, was founded by him, and in this paper he defended the doctrines of Lassalle with vigor and understanding.

Von Schweitzer withdrew from the social democrats in 1871, and led thenceforth an unexceptionable life. The love of woman had finally conquered his wild nature. He was happily married, and passed the last years of his life in literary pursuits. He died in 1875,[198] having already gained an honorable position as an author.

The Union elected another president, who continued to hold the position as long as the association existed. Its importance soon began to decline, however, and it was finally absorbed by the organization formally known as the “Social Democratic Labor Party” (“Social-demokratische Arbeiterpartei”). This grew out of the alliance of “German Laborers’ Unions” (“Verband deutscher Arbeitervereine”), whose members were gradually led over into the social democratic[228] camp, as I described in the first chapter of this work. The two leading spirits in this party, which swallowed up all other social democratic organizations, were Liebknecht and Bebel.

Liebknecht, unlike some of the other social democrats, is, as generally admitted, personally an honorable man. Nothing can be said against his private life. He differed from Marx, Lassalle, and Von Schweitzer in family and fortune. He was born poor, and has always remained so. While in party matters Liebknecht is unscrupulous as to means, he would sacrifice no principle for the sake of personal gain or advancement. If he had been less conscientious his life might have been a prosperous one. I have it directly from a friend, who associated with him considerably in Leipsic, that Bismarck offered him an excellent position as editor of the Kreuzzeitung, which I have already mentioned as the leading organ of the conservatives. Liebknecht declined promptly, and without hesitation, what was intended as a bribe. He is satisfied with the merest necessities of life, so long as he can serve his cause. Mehring, who is far from being a social democrat, says that in this respect he is irreproachable. “No one can accuse him of improper motives in the lower sense of the term.” It is only when the cause of the social democrats is concerned that he shows himself unscrupulous, exciting envy and discontent, and arousing class against class. His ideas have taken such hold of him that he cannot see the deeds of opponents in their true light. He ascribes the worst of motives to what government does with the best intention.

Although he must be called a demagogue, Liebknecht is a highly educated man. He comes of what[229] the Germans call a Beamtenfamiliei.e., of a family whose members have for a long time devoted themselves to the civil service. This implies, at least, education and social respectability. Liebknecht was only sixteen years of age when he graduated from a German gymnasium—what we would call a college—but he had already decided that a career as a civil-service officer placed one in a position of such dependence that it was unworthy of a freeman. At the university he took no regular professional course, as he despised bread-and-butter studies, but devoted himself to various branches of science according to his inclination, or as he fancied they might contribute to the free development of his mind. At twenty he thought he had freed himself from bondage to the antiquated institutions of a corrupt world.

Liebknecht took part in the revolutionary movement of 1848 in Germany, and threw himself into the contest with admirable personal bravery. Regardless of danger, he was ever to be found in the thick of the fight. When the rebellion was put down, he found it necessary to flee to Switzerland, whence he emigrated to London, where he lived in exile for thirteen years. His life in London was a hard struggle for existence, and this may have embittered him. His associates, while there, were the old rebels, Engels, Wolff, and Marx, and they must have confirmed him in his views. Amnesty was granted him when the present Emperor William was crowned King of Prussia, and he returned full of hatred for Germany. He has devoted his entire life to the purpose of making propaganda for social democracy, and has never for a moment forgotten his end and aim. Mehring says that in the years since he again set foot on German soil there has been,[230] perhaps, no day, no hour, no minute in which he has not been conscious of the object of his existence. It is this indomitable will, this inflexible purpose, this devotion on the part of men of learning and intelligence, which has filled the world with German socialism. Anything like it has never been known in history.

Liebknecht is not original, but is able to interpret Marx to the common people, since he is not too much ahead of them, but only far enough to take the lead, to express thoughts struggling in their minds for utterance. He takes, however, extreme positions, and injures himself and his party thereby. While he can excite those already won over to his side, he cannot gain adherents from those as yet undecided, still less from those opposed. He cannot persuade such, because he is unable, even for a moment, to place himself in their position so as to understand their thoughts and feelings.

Bebel is a disciple of Liebknecht, and his most important one. He is a turner by profession, and his only education was received in common schools, in Sunday schools, and in travelling about from place to place in the practice of his trade. He has never left his trade, and has never made any pretensions to being anything more than an ordinary artisan. He is sincere, simple, and of sound understanding. Bebel has been called the incorporated ideal of a modern laborer in the best sense of the word. This was, however, before he had been embittered by Liebknecht. He is unassuming, but has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. His influence on the people has been very great. He has a homely sort of eloquence which appeals strongly to them. In the Imperial Parliament he has been able[231] to hold his own with men like Lasker and Simson, the Chief-justice of the Supreme Court of Germany. Bebel’s historical importance lies in the fact that he is the first and, up to the present time, the only German artisan who has pushed himself into the foreground of political life and shown himself an equal of other leaders.

He has become prosperous, and employs two or three hundred laborers. He owns, also, a valuable house in Leipsic. Some have objected that he was inconsistent in paying his employees just as other masters do and in living well himself. Those who do so cannot understand the social democrats. The very corner-stone of their belief is that the individual is not responsible for the present condition of things; that harmony can be secured only by the combined action of society—by a social, and not by an individual, regeneration. All that the individual can do, they hold, is to labor for the overthrow of existing society and the establishment of the people’s state, and in the meanwhile to live like other people.

A change has taken place in German social democracy since the death of Lassalle, who was a patriot, and with whom it was national. He sought a basis in united Germany. Social democracy is now cosmopolitan and international in the sense of anti-national. It has approached more and more nearly to the most unqualified communism. Like French communism, it lays most stress on equality, and at times appears ready to sacrifice everything else to obtain that. The unity of interests (solidarité) and economic equality (egalité) are the watchwords of the leaders. Liebknecht says: “Human progress consists in the approach to equality; freedom is only a conventional[232] phrase, which conceals all possible things.” It begins to be recognized that equality and liberty—as now understood, at any rate—are incompatible, and greater value is attached to the former.

Most, in his lecture in Baltimore, to which reference has already been made, brought out vividly the gross, materialistic view the social democrats take of liberty. “You boast of your American liberty,” cried he, “but of what value is it? Has any one ever been able to clothe himself with it? to house himself in it? or to satisfy with it the cravings of his stomach?”

Previous to the attempts to take the life of the German emperor, in 1878, the necessity of overthrowing existing institutions by violence was proclaimed with ever-increasing openness. Lassalle had spoken of a radical change brought about peacefully, which he called a peaceful revolution. The upper classes had the choice between yielding to the demands of the fourth estate and a violent overthrow of existing economic institutions. “I am persuaded,” said he, “that a revolution will take place. It will take place legally and with all the blessings of freedom if, before it is too late, our rulers become wise, determined, and courageous enough to lead it. Otherwise, after the lapse of a certain time, the goddess of revolution will force an entrance into our social structure, amid all the convulsions of violence, with wild, streaming locks and brazen sandals on her feet. In the one way or the other she will come; and when, forgetting the tumult of the day, I sink myself in history, I am able to hear from afar her heavy tread.”

But the social democrats soon became convinced that the existing powers of state and society would not yield their positions without a combat. Glorification[233] of bloody struggles of laborers in the past became ever more common. Laborers were taught that they had, in times gone by, seized the sword and sacrificed life in behalf of their wealthy oppressors; they were told that they must next use the weapons of war in their own behalf, to fight for the day of their own deliverance from bondage. This was made to appear just by representing them as humanity and the few rich people as wilfully cruel and wicked taskmasters. The presiding officer of the Social Democratic Congress, in 1869, used these words in the address with which he closed their meetings: “There is a tree which bears golden fruit, but when those who have planted it reach out their hand to pluck it, it draws back and escapes them. Wound about the tree there is a serpent, which keeps every one away from it. This tree is society; the serpent is our present economic organization, which prevents us from enjoying the golden fruit. Gentlemen, we are determined to enjoy the golden fruit and to drive away the serpent. If that cannot be done in peace, then, as men who do not tremble before a conflict, are we ready to fell the old tree, and in its place to set a new, powerful tree.”

This sort of talk was stopped by the stringent law which was enacted after the attempts on the life of the emperor. There is no evidence to warrant the belief that the social democratic party had any direct connection with these attempts, but those who committed them had been, doubtless, excited by the constant talk of wrong and oppression, and of release therefrom by a destruction of our present leaders of society. They consequently struck at its very head.

Social democrats are fond of comparing themselves to the early Christians. They speak of their leaders[234] as the apostles of the present and of laborers as the rock upon which the Church of the future must be built. The German has a strongly religious nature, of which he can never divest himself. So these social democrats make their economic belief a matter of religion, and therein attempt, even unconsciously, to satisfy their religious feelings.

We would not, for a moment, accept the comparison between social democracy and Christianity in the sense in which these men mean it. Yet when we find rude, uneducated men—for such are the social democratic masses—turning the world upside-down, and striking terror into the hearts of the powers that be, we are reminded of that earlier faith, propagated by poor, ignorant men, which, in the course of centuries, has become more powerful than statesmen, monarchs, and armies. No one, save a fool, would pretend to be able to describe exactly the ultimate organization of society; but we know that in profane, as well as in sacred, history, weak and contemptible beginnings have, ere this, led to grand and glorious growths and developments.



It is generally known that Bismarck has been endeavoring to introduce new economic measures and institutions of a more or less socialistic nature in Germany. One of these projects has been described in an earlier chapter. It is not, however, an equally familiar fact that he may be regarded as a member of an economic school. Such is, nevertheless, the case. In the earlier part of his career as imperial chancellor Bismarck accepted the doctrines of English political economy in modified form, as taught by the National Liberals of the Reichstag. But he professes that he received their teachings only as a makeshift, until he should find time to study political economy and investigate economic problems for himself. This he did some eight years since. The first-fruits of his new researches were the tariff reform of 1879. Later fruits have been the tobacco monopoly and labor insurance bills. He repudiates the politicians with whom he formerly worked as “representatives of a party which in political economy advocates the right of the stronger and deserts the weak in the struggle against the might of capital, and which refers him to free competition, to private insurance, and I do not know what else—in short, refusing him all help of the state.”


It is, then, a matter of more than ordinary interest to study the principles of the economic system, whose leading advocate at present is the favorite counsellor of the most powerful statesman of modern times. This is the system of the so-called professorial socialists, or socialists of the chair.

In the ordinary or vulgar signification of the term professorial socialists are not socialists at all; in the strict sense of the word they are. They recognize the existence of a social problem, and hold that the co-operation of government is necessary to its solution. They believe that man, associated with his fellows in the state, has duties to perform which, single and alone, he is unable to fulfil. They point to the fact that all civilized governments are, even at present, more or less socialistic. Sanitary legislation, governmental inspection of buildings, the legal limitation of a day’s labor, the prohibition of work on Sunday, the regulations respecting the labor of women and children, temperance laws, state control and management of railroads, the post-office, and other like arrangements, are socialistic in their nature.[199] These matters are not left to individual initiative and private competition. The state—in a certain sense, even now, the highest and most majestic of co-operative associations—steps in and attempts to do for the citizens what it is supposed they could not do for themselves without the help of such a union as government represents. It is sought to give, as it were, a divine sanction[237] to this kind of socialism, by calling to mind the strong socialistic tinge of the Mosaic legislation. Of such character were the laws compelling the return of land in the year of jubilee, of which one had been forced to dispose by reason of poverty, the setting free of slaves at the same time, the forgiveness of debt, and the prohibition of interest in passages like the following: “And if thy brother be waxen poor and fallen in decay with thee, then thou shalt relieve him.... Take thou no usury (=interest) of him or increase; but fear thy God, that thy brother may live with thee.”[200]

The party of professorial socialists was formed ten years ago in Germany. They received their name from an opponent, a clever newspaper writer. He also called them “sweet-water” socialists, but the first name is their ordinary designation, and they do not, as a rule, object to it. Some of them have sought to give the word socialist an honorable and respected meaning by avowing themselves unreservedly socialists on all occasions. Others think that the prejudice against the name is so strong that they only injure themselves thereby. They are, in the narrowest sense, all university professors of political economy, though there is no reason why the name should not be extended so as to include others who hold similar views.

The scientific leader of the party is its most radical member, Adolf Wagner, the Berlin professor. Other prominent members are Gustav Schmoller, recently professor in Strassburg, now, likewise, professor in Berlin, and Brentano, professor in Breslau, lately transferred, I am told, to Strassburg. Adolf Held, the late young and talented professor in Bonn, and later in[238] Berlin, did not hesitate to speak of himself as a professorial socialist. Although John Stuart Mill died before this school of political economists became known, his views and tendencies as regards social questions were so much in accord with theirs that he can properly enough be ranked among them. It must be remembered that Mill placed no limit to state activity save the general good, and declared that all the difficulties of even communism would be but as dust in the balance if he were called upon to choose between that system and a continuance of our present economic life without improvement.

Perhaps, to-day, no professorial socialist could give a better statement of his own aims and desires than Mill’s description of the views and expectation of himself and his wife some thirty years ago. “While we repudiated,” says Mill, “with the greatest energy, that tyranny of society over the individual which most socialistic systems are supposed to involve, we yet looked forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and the industrious; when the rule that they who do not work shall not eat will be applied, not to paupers only, but impartially to all; when the division of the produce of labor, instead of depending, as in so great a degree it now does, on the accident of birth, will be made by concert on an acknowledged principle of justice; and when it will no longer either be, or be thought to be, impossible for human beings to exert themselves strenuously in procuring benefits which are not to be exclusively their own, but to be shared with the society they belong to. The social problem of the future we considered to be how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership[239] in the raw material of the globe, and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labor.” This is, I must remark in passing, an extreme position. The professorial socialists are not accustomed to express themselves in favor of carrying socialism so far, and I believe Mill does it nowhere else. “We had not the presumption,” continues Mill, “to suppose that we could already foresee by what precise form of institutions these objects could most effectually be attained, or at how near or how distant a period they would become practicable. We saw clearly that to render any such social transformation either possible or desirable an equivalent change of character must take place both in the uncultivated herd who now compose the laboring masses and in the immense majority of their employers. Both these classes must learn by practice to labor and combine for generous, or, at all events, for public and social purposes, and not, as hitherto, solely for narrowly interested ones. But the capacity to do this has always existed in mankind, and is not, nor is ever likely to be, extinct. Education, habit, and the cultivation of the sentiments will make a common man dig or weave for his country as readily as fight for his country. True enough, it is only by slow degrees, and a system of culture prolonged through successive generations, that men in general can be brought up to this point. But the hinderance is not in the essential condition of human nature.” Ruskin expresses the thought that one ought to be as ready to give money as life for one’s country when he says: “I will tell you, good reader, what would have seemed Utopian on the side of evil instead of good: that ever men should have come to value their money so much more than their lives, that if[240] you call upon them to become soldiers, and take chance of a bullet through their heart, and of wife and children being left desolate, for their pride’s sake, they will do it gayly; but if you ask them, for their country’s sake, to spend a hundred pounds without security of getting back a hundred and five, they will laugh in your face.”[201]

The German professorial socialists held a meeting in Eisenach in October, 1872, and founded the “Union for Social Politics.” They hoped, by means of an organization holding yearly meetings, to be able to exercise greater influence on legislation and public opinion. Their proceedings were published in Leipsic, in 1873, under the title “Transactions of the Union for Social Politics,” and reports of meetings which have since been held have been published at the same place under the same title.

They discussed such questions as joint-stock companies, insurance, savings-banks, and factory legislation, including the prohibition of labor on Sunday and protection of women and children in factories. Their negative work consisted in combating the empty abstractions of the English free-trade school, or, as they call it, the Manchester school. They accused the Manchester men of lacking all appreciation for the higher duties of the state or the ethical side of economic life, and of having no warmth of heart for the interests of the lower classes. The professorial socialists endeavored, on the other hand, to reconcile the laborers and social democrats to society by recognizing and favoring what might be called their just demands.

The difference between professorial socialists and[241] other professors of political economy in Germany is one of degree. The former emphasize more strongly the beneficial effects of governmental intervention, and believe that the state has not as yet gone nearly far enough in recognizing its duties towards the weak and poor and in regulating the distribution of wealth.[202] They regard political economy as, first and foremost, an ethical science. To them the state is, above all things, a moral person. It is, indeed, necessary to obtain a clear understanding of their conception of the state before it is possible to comprehend their teachings. They regard the state as something sacred and divine, holding that it arises out of the essential characteristics of the human nature given us by God. They have a reverence for state obligations which reminds one of the doctrines of the ancient Greeks and of the heroic self-sacrifice of Socrates, who considered it his duty to obey the laws, even when they ordered his death. They consider that the rights of the state spring from a higher source than a social contract, either implicit or explicit, of the citizens with one another. The state stands above the citizens as the Church above its members. Humanity, in their opinion, progresses, and ever must progress, through Church and state. They see God in both. They know nothing of any civilization in the past apart from the state, and are able to imagine none in the future existing outside of such a social organism. In this spirit Professor Schmoller defines the state as the grandest moral institution for the education and development of the human race.


The socialists of the chair deprecate any attempt to separate political economy from the higher ideal side of our nature. They do not believe that in business or anywhere should man be governed solely by selfish motives.

In practical politics they reject decidedly violent change, but advocate a gradual and peaceful development. Some of them do not expect that their ideal will be realized for a thousand years to come.

Wagner believes that he has discovered a law according to which the functions of government are constantly increasing—in many places, even in spite of theory. According to him, government in all civilized countries is uninterruptedly taking upon itself new duties. The post-office, education, the telegraph, railroads, and the care of forests are examples. The increase in state business in England, e.g., may be seen from the fact that the expenses of government were forty times as great in 1841 as in 1685, although the population had little more than trebled its numbers.[203] If it can be shown that Wagner’s theory is really a law, and that the apparent proofs of it are not merely temporary social phenomena, it will at once be admitted that it is of the highest importance. Its operation would, of itself, establish the socialistic state, since, if government continually absorbs private business, there will, in the end, be only state business. In this socialistic state there would be the same differences in rank as at present between the different governmental employees. At the top of the social ladder[243] there would still be an emperor, and at the bottom ordinary laborers, steadily employed in the service of the state, as, e.g., the workmen on the state railroads now.

At present things are moving pretty rapidly in Germany towards the accomplishment of Wagner’s ideal, if we may suppose that expressed by his law. In fact, since Bismarck is said to value him highly, it is not impossible that he may have considerable to do with directing the economic policy of Germany. He has always been a strong advocate of state railways, the compulsory insurance of laborers by the state, and the tobacco monopoly. What may be the ultimate results of the changes taking place in Germany it is far too early to say.

The leading ideas of the professorial socialists may be best learned from a little work by Professor Gustav Schmoller, entitled “A Few Fundamental Principles of Law and Political Economy.”[204] It is an open letter, addressed to Professor von Treitschke, a Prussian of the Buncombe type, who, with a very insufficient study of their writings, had the rashness to attack the professorial socialists in his “Socialism and Those Who Favor It” (“Der Socialismus und seine Gönner”). Von Treitschke is generally regarded as having fared ill in this encounter. As Schmoller pointed out, those whom he attacked had spent more years in the study of economic questions than he had weeks.

But one of the most interesting features of this new school of political economy, altogether apart from the correctness of its other doctrines, is its repudiation[244] of selfishness, or self-interest, as it is more euphemistically called, as a sufficient guide in economic matters. The necessity of Christian self-denial and self-sacrifice is emphasized by its adherents. They attack what they call the mammonism of the Manchester school, and elevate man, not wealth, to the central position in economic science. “The starting-point, as well as the object-point, of our science is man” (Roscher). All hope of resolving “the social question” without a moral and intellectual elevation of mankind is abandoned. The Christian religion is assigned an important work in this field, and political economy becomes a Christian science. To see the leaders of economic thought, starting with anything rather than religious predilections, gradually forced to this position, may indeed be styled a triumph of Christianity.



We have come to a point now where professorial socialism and Christian socialism meet. Professors of political economy, finding themselves forced to abandon every hope of reconciling adverse interests of society without a moral and religious regeneration of the various social classes, turn to Christianity, and appeal to it for co-operation in their endeavors to bring about an era of peace and harmony. Professorial socialism terminates in Christianity. Christian socialism seeks in it a starting-point.

De Lamennais, who was born in 1782, was one of the earliest representatives of Christian socialism. He was for a time a French Catholic priest and an ardent defender of the faith. He sought to bring about an alliance between the masses and the Church, in opposition to kings, whom he regarded as oppressors of the people. The Church was to become an organizing power, and was to gather the individuals, the atoms, of industrial society, into a compact and harmonious whole. She was to become the soul, the animating spirit, of the economic as well as the religious world. He hoped to see her found a grand co-operative association of laborers, which should free them from the yoke of capitalist and the tyranny of landlord. The democratic views entertained by Lamennais,[246] and his opposition to the monarchs of Europe, did not give satisfaction among the Church authorities. He went to Rome to plead his cause before Leo XII., and was received with open arms. But afterwards the motto of his journal L’Avenir, “Séparez vous des rois, tendez la main au peuple”—“separate yourselves from the kings, extend your hand to the people”—displeased Gregory XVI., and Lamennais, unable to win over the Pope to his views, finally left the Church in despair. “Catholicism was my own life,” said he, “because it is the life of humanity. I wished to defend it and draw it from the abyss into which it sinks more and more daily. Nothing was easier. The bishops have found that it would not suit them. Thus Rome lagged behind. I went there and saw the most abominable cloaque which ever offended human eyesight.... No other God rules there but egotism. For a piece of land, for a few piasters, they would bargain away the nations, the whole human race, even the blessed Trinity.”[205]

He wrote, after his return, “Les Paroles d’un Croyant”—“The Words of a Believer”—published in 1833, and perhaps his most celebrated work. It is a strange, weird, fascinating book. In prose, yet with all the fervor, imagery, and beauty of poetry, he describes the wrongs and sufferings inflicted on the laborer by rulers and capitalists. How is it, one might ask, that he, so far above the masses, can depict their sorrows as vividly as if he had felt them? It is precisely because he is not far above the toiling many; he has in sympathy drawn near to them; he feels with[247] and for them; what they have experienced, that has he also lived. Their pain is his pain; their anguish is his anguish, and has penetrated perhaps more deeply into his soul than into theirs.

In the following passage from “Les Paroles d’un Croyant” he shows how much worse are modern employers who oppress their laborers than were the earlier slave-owners. The story he tells is this:

“Now, there was a wicked and accursed man. And this man was strong and hated toil, so that he said to himself: ‘What shall I do? If I work not I shall die, and labor is to me intolerable.’

“Then there entered into his heart a thought born in hell. He went in the night and seized certain of his brethren while they slept, and bound them with chains.

“‘For,’ said he, ‘I will force them with whips and scourges to toil for me, and I will eat the fruit of their labor.’

“And he did that which he had resolved; and others, seeing it, did likewise, and the men of the earth were no longer brothers, but only masters and slaves.

“This was a day of sadness and mourning over all the face of the earth.

“A long time afterwards there arose another man, whose cruelty and wickedness exceeded the cruelty and wickedness of the first man.

“Seeing that men multiplied everywhere, and that the multitude of them was innumerable, he said to himself:

“‘I could indeed enchain some of these, and force them to work for me; but it would then be necessary to feed and otherwise maintain them, and that would diminish my gains. I will do better: I will let them[248] work for nothing; they will die, in truth, but their number is great; I will amass a fortune before their number is largely diminished, and there will always remain enough of them.’

“‘Now all this multitude of men might live on what they received in exchange for their labor.’

“Having thus spoken, he addressed himself separately to some of them, and said: ‘You work six hours, and you receive a piece of money for your labor; work twelve hours and you will receive two pieces of money, and you and your wives and your little ones will live better.’

“And they believed him.

“Then he said to them, ‘You work only half the days of the year; work every day in the year and your gains will be doubled.’

“And they believed him still.

“Now it happened that the quantity of labor having been doubled without any increase in the demand therefor, the half of those who previously lived by their labor could find no one to employ them.

“Then the wicked man whom they had believed said to them: ‘I will give labor to all, under condition that you will labor the same length of time, and that I shall pay you only half so much as I have been in the habit of doing; because I indeed desire to render you a service, but I do not wish to ruin myself.’

“And as they, their wives, and little ones were suffering the pangs of hunger, they accepted the proposal of the wicked man, and they blessed him; for, said they, ‘He gives us our life.’

“And, continuing to deceive them in the same manner, the wicked man ever increased their labor and ever diminished their wages.


“And they died for lack of the necessaries of life, and others pressed forward to take their places; for poverty had become so terrible in the land, that entire families sold themselves for a morsel of bread.

“And the wicked, cruel man, who had lied to his brothers, amassed a larger fortune than the wicked man who had enslaved them.

“The name of the latter is tyrant; but the former has no name save in hell itself.”[206]

The Christian socialism of England has peculiarities which render it exceedingly interesting in connection with an account of French and German Christian socialism, furnishing, as it does, opportunities for instructive comparisons.

It arose about thirty years ago. Its founders were men like Charles Kingsley, Frederick Maurice, and Thomas Hughes. They were filled with horror at the wrongs and hardships of the lower classes, and rejected with lofty moral indignation the theory of the Manchester men that state and society were to do nothing about it. They refused to believe that the action of self-interest led to the most perfect social harmony, or that government should do nothing to alleviate suffering and elevate the masses. Some of their expressions might have satisfied even a social democrat. Kingsley expressed his opinion of economic liberalism by describing the Cobden and Bright scheme of the universe as the worst of all narrow, hypocritical, anarchic, and atheistic social philosophies; while he predicted the coming of good times to the poor, and the overthrow of mammonism, in these words: “Not by wrath and haste, but by patience[250] made perfect through suffering, canst thou proclaim this good news to the groaning masses, and deliver them, as thy Master did before thee, by the cross and not the sword. Divine paradox! Folly to the rich and mighty—the watchword to the weak, in whose weakness is God’s strength made perfect. ‘In your patience possess ye your souls, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.’ Yes, he came then, and the Babel-tyranny of Rome fell, even as the more fearful, the more subtle, and more diabolic tyranny of mammon shall fall ere long—suicidal, even now crumbling by its innate decay. Yes; Babylon the Great—the commercial world of selfish competition, drunken with the blood of God’s people, whose merchandise is the bodies and souls of men—her doom is gone forth. And then—then—when they, the tyrants of the earth, who lived delicately with her, rejoicing in her sins, the plutocrats and bureaucrats, the money-changers and devourers of labor, are crying to the rocks to hide them, and to the hills to cover them, from the wrath of him that sitteth on the throne; then labor shall be free at last, and the poor shall eat and be satisfied, with things that eye hath not seen nor ear heard, nor hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive, but which God has prepared for those who love him.”[207]

Kingsley and his confrères held that modern competition was only one kind of warfare, and consequently sinful. They sought to replace it by co-operation, in which they found a practical carrying-out of Christian principles. Mr. Ludlow, Maurice, and others talked the matter over, and finally formed a society in[251] London to promote co-operative undertakings and the education of the lower classes. They assisted laborers to found productive co-operative associations. They established also a newspaper, the Christian Socialist, in which they made propaganda for their faith. They thought they had discovered the panacea for all social evils: “I certainly thought,” said Mr. Hughes afterwards—“and, for that matter, have never altered my opinion to this day—that here we had found the solution of the great labor question; but I was also convinced that we had nothing to do but just to announce it, and found an association or two, in order to convert all England, and usher in the millennium at once, so plain did the whole thing seem to me. I will not undertake to answer for the rest of the council, but I doubt whether I was at all more sanguine than the majority.”[208]

The Christian socialists established seventeen co-operative societies in London and twenty-four in other parts of England, but chiefly, if not wholly, in the south, before their organ ceased to appear. These, however, all failed. But about this time there began to spring up in the north of England distributive co-operative societies, not designed to produce commodities, but, as their name implies, to distribute them by establishing stores. These associations, which have prospered greatly, furnished an opportunity for some of the Christian socialists to exert themselves in behalf of the laborer. So far as there is to-day any active Christian socialism in England, it is to be found in the Co-operative Union. Indeed, Mr. Thomas Hughes seems to identify the two movements in a[252] letter,[209] which he was kind enough to write me about Christian socialism. As it is interesting, and Americans are always glad to hear what the author of “Tom Brown at Rugby” has to say, I will take the liberty of quoting such parts of his letter as bear on our subject:

“The details of the Christian socialist movement may still be gathered from The Christian Socialist newspaper, and tracts, The Journal of Association, its short-lived successor, and Politics for the People, its more short-lived predecessor.... The leaders are quite scattered—Maurice, Kingsley, and Mansfield dead; Lord Ripon, Governor-general of India; Ludlow, Registrar of Friendly Societies; Ellison, a metropolitan magistrate; I a county-court judge. The only one left actively in this movement (which I have left only two months since) is E. Vansittart Neale, who is general secretary (and backbone and conscience) of the Co-operative Union. I was chairman of the southern section till I took this judgeship.

“We have managed to keep this great organization, now consisting of some thousand societies, with some millions of capital, up to the principles of the Christian socialists—nominally, at any rate—and I really think the old spirit is, at any rate, alive in a large proportion of the rising leaders, though the mammon devil is, I am bound to own, vigorous among them, and hard to put down.... I still look to this movement as the best hope for England and other lands.”

Mr. Neale has been good enough to write me a fuller account of the connection between co-operation and Christian socialism, which he regards as two distinct movements—in their origin, at least. I will quote what he has to say about them:

Manchester, December 4, 1882.


“I think that the Christian social efforts of Messrs. Maurice, Kingsley, Hughes, etc., and the co-operative movement out of which our present Union has grown up, ought to be distinguished as really separate actions, independent of each other in their origin, though they have subsequently, to a certain extent, coalesced.


“The distributive societies have grown up since 1844, principally from the impulse originating in the Rochdale Pioneers, which was, so far as it can be said to embody any moral principle, Owenite rather than Christian. No doubt it included, from the first, members of the various religious bodies which exist in England, and it never professed to substitute any other religious teaching for that given in the name of Christianity, as R. Owen’s followers had done. Therefore, among the disciples, men soon appeared who said, This co-operation which you advocate is nothing else than the practical application of Christianity to the ordinary business of life. Likewise, when, at a later date, those who had gathered around Mr. Maurice’s endeavors to show systematically the connection of Christian ideas with the Co-operative Union, as is done by Mr. Hughes and myself in the ‘Manual for Co-operation,’ ... this application was accepted by the Congress of the Co-operative Union as a legitimate descent of co-operation, and is more or less assented to at the present time by co-operators who never were in any way connected with Mr. Maurice.

“But this has been, as I have said, a result of relations which have grown up between two movements, distinct in their origin, but similar in their tendencies, and from this similarity, and the aid afforded by each to the other, naturally disposed to coalesce.

“In their origin the stores were antecedent to the teachings of the Christian socialists, which did not begin in any definite shape until 1849 and 1850, when the Rochdale Pioneers had got over the difficulties of their beginnings, and were doing a business of £6611 8s. 9d. in 1844 and £13,179 17s. in 1850; and other stores were beginning to spring up and attain considerable proportions in various towns of Lancashire and Yorkshire, under the influence of the success of Rochdale. In London we had scarcely any knowledge of these societies till the end of 1850; and our efforts took principally the direction of attempts to form productive associations of workers by means of advances of capital to them on loan at four per cent. interest, and with no other security than the stock in trade of the societies founded by these endeavors.

“Theoretically, the idea we endeavored to spread was the conception of workers as brethren—of work as coming from a brotherhood of men associated for their common benefit—who therefore rejected any notion of competition with each other as inconsistent with the true form of society, and, without formally preaching communism, sought to found industrial establishments communistic in feeling, of which it should be the aim, while paying ordinary wages and interest[254] at the rate I have mentioned, to apply the profits of the business in ways conducive to the common advantage of the body whose work produced them.

“The Christian element about this teaching was rather a something floating over it than definitely embodied in it. No attempt was made to formulate any religious creed which should be professed even by those who formed the central body—‘The Council of Promoters of Workingmen’s Societies,’ as it was called. Still less was there any attempt to limit the men employed in any of the societies to those professing Christianity. There was a general understanding that the tone of any writings put forth by the council or any of its members should be such as Maurice and Kingsley would approve. But this was all. Of the freedom of opinion in the council a striking proof is Mr. Lloyd Jones, who had been one of R. Owen’s missionaries, and never professed any form of Christianity, and who was one of the most active members.

“Such was the character of this Christian socialism, even where it was most concentrated. In its relation to the co-operation of the north the religious element was yet more thrown into the background. Our connection with these societies came through the law—I mean the English law—not the Gospel. Mr. Hughes, Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Furnivall, another active member of our council, and I, were barristers. The law relating to such societies as we desired to form, and as our northern friends desired to form on their own account, was then very little suitable to our wants. Mr. Slaney, a member of Parliament, who took a great interest in all efforts of the working population to help themselves, got a committee appointed to inquire into the investments of the middle and working classes. Much interesting evidence was given before this committee in 1850 and in 1852. Mr. Slaney introduced into Parliament a bill originally drawn by Mr. Ludlow, with some assistance from me, which was carefully considered by a special committee of the House of Commons, who suggested many improvements in it; and on their report was accepted by the House, and became the original law of ‘Industrial and Provident Societies.’ These operations established, as you will easily suppose, friendly relations between us in London and our friends in the north, who went on and flourished greatly in their distributive societies under the protection given them by the law of 1852; and were in continual communication with Mr. Ludlow, Mr. Hughes, and myself during the next seventeen years as to alterations and amendment of their law, of which there were several in the course of these[255] years, and as to questions of a legal character affecting their business.

“In the meantime the societies formed under our special influence in London had all come to grief. Had it not been for the growth of distributive co-operation in the north the movement would have been at an end in England. And this growth took place spontaneously, with no other help from us than was afforded by the legal assistance that I have mentioned and occasional visits of some one of our body. At last, in 1869, principally through the influence of the late Mr. William Prior, one of the disciples of R. Owen, a conference was held in London, which was continued for four days, and was attended by several delegates from the northern societies. At the conference papers were read on a number of topics of a social character. Discussions were carried on upon them, and an impulse was given to the feeling of union out of which our present organization has arisen. From that time a conference—or, as we call it, a congress—has been held every year in some part of Great Britain. Subscriptions from the societies have been organized. In 1873 a systematic division of Great Britain into districts, for the purposes of propaganda, was established. Sectional committees were appointed in each district, and a united board formed by delegates from them, which has the general direction of the whole movement. Now, with the formation of this organization, the southern influences which had given birth to the notion of Christian socialism began again to make themselves felt. We have supplied more largely than our northern friends the intellectual factor, which has found the material to which to apply itself in the co-operative societies of manufacturing Britain. Thus it is that the ‘Manual for Co-operation,’ which I think must be considered as the most matured and complete exposition of the relation between Christianity and social reform, has come to be accepted by the Co-operative Union, and published at its expense, as a recognized exposition of the views entertained by most of those who endeavor to give a distinct form to their views.”

The Englishman, like the American, is eminently practical. He must find some concrete form in which to embody his ideas. If he cannot now obtain all he desires, he will take what he can get and wait for an opportune moment to gain possession of what remains. He does not cease to think, plan, and even dream, but[256] he spends more time in action than in talk. Thus have the Christian socialists of England, without changing their views, contented themselves for the present with distributive co-operation. They have, however, done far more than to establish co-operative associations. They called attention to the duties and responsibilities of wealth as well as its rights. They induced men to stop and consider whether it might not, after all, be possible to do something to ameliorate the condition of the unfortunate and to improve the poor and degraded. The results have been seen in generous, philanthropic, and, to a large extent, successful endeavors to elevate those low down to a higher plane of life and thought. Legislation has followed, limiting the length of a day’s work, restricting the employment of young children, regulating the labor of women, protecting operatives in factories, and otherwise benefiting the laboring classes. This has counteracted the effects of discontent and dangerous agitation so far as to prevent the violent attempts at revolution, once feared. The humane and enlightened views, which to-day obtain to such an extent in England, are due, far more than is generally supposed, to the warm-hearted zeal of those noble Englishmen who were called Christian socialists.

In Germany, there are two branches of the Christian Socialists, the Protestants and the Roman Catholics.

The Protestant Christian Socialists are not numerous, nor are they sufficiently important to justify much more than the mention of their existence. Their two leaders are Dr. Todt, a pastor, and Dr. Stöcker, court-chaplain, who is known on account of his leadership in the Anti-Semitic agitation in Germany. His part in[257] this latter movement shows how little nobility there is in his nature. I attended one meeting of the Christian Socialists in Berlin. Instead of proposals to ameliorate the condition of laborers, I heard little save abuse of the Jews. When any member of the audience was invited to reply, a bright-appearing young man of twenty or thereabouts came forward and began to talk in a sensible sort of way concerning the position of the Hebrews, but his arguments were soon drowned by the hooting of the rabble. Court-pastor Stöcker bowed him off the stage with mock ceremoniousness. I thought the young man showed to far better advantage than the leader of those whom he was addressing.

The ideas of the Protestant Christian Socialists are rather vague and indefinite. They favor, however, legislation in behalf of the laboring classes similar to that which is now in force in England, and desire a strong monarch to take the lead in measures designed to elevate the toiling masses. They wish also to bring the people back to the Church, that they may enjoy the consolations of religion. Dr. Todt appears to hope for a peaceful introduction of communism, or some form of socialism approaching thereto, in a far-distant future.

Catholic Christian Socialism in Germany is a far more important, a far nobler, movement. Its leading light was the late Bishop of Mainz or Mayence, Baron von Ketteler.

Wilhelm Emanuel Baron von Ketteler was born in 1811, in Münster. He came of an old and honorable family. He studied law, and began his career in the German courts, before he decided to devote himself to the Church. He was ordained as priest in 1844 and was made bishop in 1850.


Von Ketteler was keen, eager, eloquent—a valiant champion of the Church, who fought for her emancipation from state control, and obtained important concessions. His activity was remarkable, and displayed itself prominently in the foundation of numerous institutions, as monasteries, unions, schools, orphan-asylums, and houses of refuge. He understood how to make use of the press in forwarding his designs, which included plans intended to promote the welfare of the masses. After the formation of the German empire Von Ketteler took a leading position in the party of the Ultramontanes, and was ever ready with tongue and pen in all matters concerning the relations of state to Church and school.

He opposed the proclamation of the doctrine of papal infallibility as inopportune, but, after it had been proclaimed, he became its ardent supporter.

Von Ketteler’s eventful life ended in 1875, and his body now rests in the cathedral at Mainz.

Von Ketteler accepts the doctrine of the iron, cruel law of wages, and assents to many of the teachings of the social democrats, in so far as they are directed against our present social organization. He seeks salvation, however, in the Catholic Church.

He holds that God or the Church is the supreme owner of all property, and that human rights are only secondary. Men have only the right of administering what has been committed to them. The Church has always held, says he, that if a starving man took a loaf of bread to satisfy hunger which he could still in no other way, it was no theft. In that case human proprietary rights yield to the divine right of self-preservation.

The good-will of the Church is also shown in the[259] large property which she has accumulated to alleviate the sufferings of the poor. It was not her fault that she was deprived of a great part of this by the secularization of her possessions, which took place after the Reformation. It increased the distress of the unfortunate, and the worldly powers were obliged to enact poor-laws to relieve those who had thereby been reduced to helplessness.

The misery of the present time is due to materialism and liberal politics. The state and the Church should exercise greater control over human conduct in such matters, e.g., as marriage.

“We will not deny,” says Von Ketteler, “that in various regions the contraction of marriage is made too difficult; but, on the other hand, a certain limitation is justifiable—is founded in reason as well as in Christianity—and the abolition of all limitations cannot fail to promote thoughtlessness in the contraction of marriage, and thus injure the family. Of such a character is the general effort and tendency to regard marriage as a simple civil institution, to introduce the Civilehei.e., marriage by civil authorities alone—and to separate it entirely from the Church. The stability of the family is based on the religious and Christian doctrine of marriage. Especially is the view of the Catholic Church that marriage is a sacrament, and can be dissolved only by death, the immovable foundation of this stability.”[210]

Von Ketteler regards the dissolution of the organic bonds, or ties of society, as one cause of our present troubles. He is, consequently, in favor of trade corporations,[260] and has a friendly feeling for the guilds of the Middle Ages. He combats vehemently the atomism of modern liberalism. There is, in my opinion, a great deal of truth in what he says about the necessity of religion to cure the ills of modern society. He declares that “Christ is the Saviour of the world, not only because he has redeemed our souls, but also because he brought salvation for all human institutions and relations—civil, political, and social. Especially is he the Saviour of the laboring classes.... He has elevated the labor-class from servitude to its present condition;[211] without him all humanitarian tendencies of the so-called friends of the laboring man will not prevent his sinking again into a state of slavery.”

Von Ketteler mentions five remedies which the Church has to offer the laborer.

1. She founds and manages institutions for the benefit of the laborer unable to work. These are managed by those who have a tender interest in his welfare. Love to Christ will enable the Catholic nurses to perform disagreeable and repulsive services in a mild and gentle manner.

2. She offers him the institution of the Christian family.

3. She presents to him the truths and doctrines of the Church, which are the true education of the laborer. The doctrine of the liberals, that education for the laborers is to be found in self-help and in their unions for instructing working-men is only a simulacrum and deceit.

4. She offers him the social power of the Church.[261] This unites men, and may be used to assist in founding unions and societies of laborers. Such unions are Christian in nature.[212]

5. This social power of the Church might be used in establishing productive co-operative associations on a Christian basis. Nothing could be more pleasing to God and beneficial to man than gifts of the wealthy for this purpose.

For our part, we rejoice that men of all shades of opinion are turning to Christianity for help in the solution of social problems, and trust that the poor and needy, where they are now estranged from the Church, may ere long be led to recognize in her their best friend. All Christian men, and particularly the authorities of the Church, should see to it that no opportunity is lost to win to her the toiling masses. We fully agree with a celebrated Belgian professor[213] of Political Economy when he writes: “The proletarians have been detached from and will return to Christianity when they begin to understand that it brings to them freedom and equal rights, whereas atheistic materialism consecrates their slavery and sacrifices them to pretended natural laws. By a complete misapplication of its ideas, the religion of Christ, transformed into a temporal and sacerdotal institution, has been called in as the ally of caste, despotism, and the ancient régime to sanction all social inequalities. The Gospel, on the contrary, is the good news to the poor—the announcement of the advent of that kingdom[262] when the humble shall be lifted up and the disinherited shall possess the earth.”[214]


[1] Vide “Histoire du Communisme,” par Alfred Sudre (5th ed., Paris, 1856), ch. xiv. sec. iv. pp. 232-250.

[2] Vide “Rousseau,” by John Morley (Lond. 1873), vol. i. p. 192.

[3] Vol. i. pp. viii. ix.

[4] Vide Von Sybel, “Geschichte der Revolutionszeit,” Bd. i. Buch i. Capitel 1, and Bd. ii. Buch vii. Capitel 3. In regard to absenteeism, consult, especially, Taine’s “Ancient Régime,” bk. i. ch, iii. pt. iii.

[5] Cf. De Laveleye’s “La Démocratic et l’Économie Politique” (Bruxelles, 1878), pp. 8, 9.

[6] To many a thoughtless man, who has misused his wealth and social position to drag down women of the poorer classes, it would doubtless seem like a new revelation to have the truth brought home to him that the fathers, mothers, and brothers of his victims had precisely such feelings as his own father and mother, or himself, towards his sisters. But the socialistic agitation in Germany has brought out clearly the fact that this is true. Poor men hate the wealthy on account of their sins. Nearly all of the thousands and tens of thousands of fallen women in cities like New York and Berlin, it is said, come from the poorer classes. It is terrible to think of the anguish they have brought to parents whose only crime has often been poverty. If the wealthy use their superior advantages to oppress and afflict the poor, terrible retribution will some day be exacted of them as a class, and the innocent will suffer with the guilty. The French Revolution should forever be a terrible warning to those to whom much has been committed.

Modern novelists have devoted themselves assiduously to the work of reform. Every oppressed class has found some one to sympathize with it and describe its wrongs. Married women, misused by their husbands; school children, maltreated by masters; orphans, wronged by tedious processes of law; the negro slave in our South—all have been made interesting, and excited our pity. The fourth estate, with which Dickens concerned himself more or less, has also found its novelist, whose skill reveals to us the laborer’s views and feelings, so that we laugh when he laughs and weep when he weeps. I refer to Max Kretzer, whose latest and best work is “Die Betrogenen” (Berlin, 1882). For an excellent review of his writings, vide the Wochenblatt der Frankfurter Zeitung, 20 Aug., 1882.

For a further illustration of the views of social democrats concerning the crimes of the wealthy, vide a story in the newspaper Die Fackel (Chicago, 20 Mai, 1883) entitled “Die Geschichte einer Arbeiterin.”

[7] In Contemporary Review, April, 1882.

[8] Quoted by Mrs. Fawcett in her article on “Communism” in the “Encyclopædia Britannica.” Cf. De Laveleye’s article on the “Progress of Socialism” (Contemporary Review, April, 1883, pp. 567, 568).

[9] “Money in its Relations to Trade and Industry,” by Francis A. Walker (New York, 1879).

[10] “Die deutsche Social-Demokratie” (Bremen, 1879).

[11] Vide the published programme of the Commune of Paris, April 19, 1871, in Pierroti’s “Décrets et Rapports Officiels de la Commune de Paris et du Gouvernement à Versailles du 18 Mars au 31 Mai, 1871” (Paris, 1871, pp. 181-185).

[12] The whole question is discussed in a satisfactory manner in Meyer’s “Emancipationskampf des vierten Standes” (Bd. ii. SS. 600-718). Among other authorities may be mentioned, as most noteworthy, Pierroti’s “Décrets et Rapports; Enquête Parlementaire sur l’Insurrection du 18 Mars”—an official report of the investigation of the French government; “Unter der Pariser Commune, ein Tagebuch von Wilhelm Lauser” (Leipzig, 1879); Maxime du Camp, “Les Convulsions de Paris” (6th ed., Paris, 1883); B. Becker, “Geschichte der revolutionären Pariser Kommune” (Brunswick, 1875).

[13] In his “History of American Socialisms” (Philadelphia, 1870), Noyes presents the opposite view, and argues forcibly in favor of it. He thinks “familism” and communism necessarily antagonistic, and adduces as proof the success of the Shakers and other communities which repress the family feeling, and the failure of many which allow marriage and private families as in the outside world. I do not think his arguments satisfactory. At most, they would hold of small communistic bodies living in a world practising individualism. They would not be conclusive in a discussion of the practicability of communism—much less socialism—as a universal system. It is true, also, that the leadership of social democracy in the United States and elsewhere has fallen into the hands of those who, for the most part, hold views regarding religion and the family which may fairly be called brutal. The irreligious attitude of social democracy is, however, to be explained partly by the fact that it is a German product, and Germany is to-day lamentably irreligious. What is, however, temporary, accidental, and transitional should not be mistaken for what is necessary and permanent.

[14] Dr. Rylance very properly distinguishes ecclesiasticism from Christianity.

[15] The decay of religion among the working classes was the subject of a conference of working-men, held in London in 1867. Mr. J. M. Ludlow, one of their friends and counsellors, writes as follows in the “Progress of the Laboring Classes from 1832 to 1867,” concerning their reasons for forsaking religious services: “At the bottom of those reasons there may be felt, not dislike or indifference to the Gospel itself, but, on the contrary, a deep yearning for some mighty manifestation of it. The complaint is not that Christianity is given, but that ‘priests and parsons’ have given of it ‘short weight and short measure;’ not that it is practised by its professors, but that their practice falls so far short of their professions; not that clergymen and minister intermeddle with the working-men, but that they do not come among them and show practical sympathy with them in their undertakings. Surely a temper like this, even when speaking out through hard and scornful words, instead of discouraging Christian ministers, should brace and quicken them to their work—ay, though that work should consist partly in the shaking off of their most cherished traditions and habits of religious thought” (p. 279).

[16] Schäffle’s “Socialism as Expounded by Kaufmann” (London, 1874, p. 103).

[17] Vide his manly article on the Dangerous Classes in the North-American Review for April, 1883.

[18] The words socialist and socialism were introduced into economic discussion by L. Reybaud, in 1840, in his “Études sur les Réformateurs ou Socialistes Modernes.”

[19] It does not fall within the province of this work to describe English communism. Its best representative is Robert Owen, about whose life and teachings information is to be found in “The Life of Robert Owen, Written by Himself,” and in A. J. Booth’s “Robert Owen, the Founder of Socialism in England.” Both of the works are interesting and valuable.

[20] 1762 is also given as the year of his birth.

[21] For the details of the conspiracy, consult Von Sybel, “Geschichte der Revolutionszeit,” Bd. iv. Buch i. Capitel 4, and Buonarroti’s “Histoire de la Conspiration pour l’Égalite, dite de Babœuf” (2 vols., Brussels, 1828). A fourth edition in one volume appeared in Paris in 1850. An English translation by Bronterre appeared in London in 1836.

[22] The best authority on the economic movements of this period is L. Blanc’s “Histoire de dix ans 1830-40” (12th ed. 1870).

[23] Vide the Manifesto of the Equals. This, as well as a number of their most important papers, may be found in Reybaud’s “Études sur les Réformateurs” (vol. ii. pp. 423-453, 7th ed., Paris, 1864).

[24] Vide the “Manifesto of the Equals.”

[25] “Histoire Populaire de la Révolution Française de 1789 à 1830” (5 vols., 2d ed., Paris, 1845-47).

[26] “Voyage en Icarie” (2d ed., Paris, 1842, 1 vol. 8vo, pp. 566).

[27] Ibid. p. 3.

[28] Page 335.

[29] Mr. Albert Shaw, late graduate student in the Johns Hopkins University.

[30] After the death of Cabet a few of his adherents, in the quarrel at Nauvoo, founded a short-lived colony at Cheltenham.

[31] “The community adopt the institutions of marriage and the family purified from everything which injures and debases them. Voluntary celibacy, when not induced by any physiological reason, is regarded as a transgression of natural laws” (Arts. 32 and 33 of the “Icarian Constitution”).

[32] Cf. “Voyage en Icarie,” p. 137.

[33] Quoted by B. Malon, in his “Exposé des Écoles Socialistes Françaises” (Paris, 1872), pp. 104, 105.

[34] “Voyage to Icaria,” p. 563.

[35] Page 358.

[36] Vide p. 37 et seqq.

[37] An interesting account of his life and teaching is given in A. J. Booth’s “Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism” (London, 1871).

[38] It is so stated in the “Encyclopædia Britannica” and elsewhere.

[39] Vide Lettres à un Américain, deuxième Lettre in his “L’Industrie ou Discussions Politiques, Morales, et Philosophiques,” tome ii. pp. 33, 34 (Paris, 1817). Interesting comparisons between America and Europe are also to be found in the letters.

[40] One finds in the writings of Saint-Simon all the fundamental ideas of Comte’s philosophy: the oneness of science; its progress from the theological stage to positivism—called by Saint-Simon physicism—accompanying the transition from the military to the industrial régime; the present crisis of society due to the fact that this is a transitional period, or disharmony in the material world accompanying the disharmony in the world of thought; the belief that a restoration of harmony is dependent upon the advancement of science, and that social regeneration must be physico-political; the subordination of knowledge to feeling; finally, the view that religion of some kind is indispensable to social progress, and that the priests of this religion must be the rulers of the world. Indeed, Comte did not hesitate to acknowledge more than once his indebtedness to Saint-Simon for his scientific impulse, although in later years he seems to have become embittered towards the Saint-Simonians and refused all credit to his former teacher. Comte was original in so far as he expanded and developed what he received from his master, but this does not lessen his obligation. This whole question, which has been much debated, is discussed in a masterly way by John Morley in his article on Comte in the last edition of the “Encyclopædia Britannica.” Consult also Karl Hillebrand’s essay on “Die Anfänge des Socialismus in Frankreich” in Deutsche Rundschau, Bd. xvii., 1878, and Booth’s “Saint-Simon and Saint-Simonism,” pp. 61-81.

[41] “Première Année” (1828-29, 2d ed., Paris, 1830), pp. 72, 73.

[42] “Études sur les Réformateurs” (7th ed., Paris, 1864), vol. i. pp. 83, 84.

[43] Vide “Du Système Industriel” (Paris, 1821), preface.

[44] Vide “Chartism, Past and Present” (Harper’s ed.), pp. 320 and 345.

[45] “L’Industrie,” tome ii. p. 9 (Paris, 1817).

[46] Saint-Simon again and again protests against revolution, vide “Catéchisme des Industriels” (ed. 1832), pp. 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 69, 70.

[47] Vide “Catéchisme des Industriels” (ed. 1832), pp. 38, 44, 62, 63, 74, 75.

[48] Vide Kaufmann’s “Socialism,” p. 115.

[49] “Political Economy,” bk. ii. chap. xiii. sec. 1.

[50] Loc. cit. bk. ii. chap. 1. sec. 3.

[51] Quoted by A. J. Booth.

[52] Vide “Catéchisme des Industriels,” p. 2.

[53] Reybaud, vol. i. pp. 82, 83.

[54] Taken from Reybaud, loc. cit. vol. i. pp. 105-7. The translation is abridged in places.

[55] i.e. one unit—man-woman.

[56] Perhaps there is no better authority than Louis Blanc concerning the activity of the Saint-Simonians at this time. Cf. his “Histoire de Dix Ans,” tome vii. ch. xxv. (ed. Bruxelles, 1843-44).

[57] His principal work is “De L’Humanité,” published in 1840.

[58] Pages 102, 103.

[59] Quoted by Booth.

[60] Ibid.

[61] Quoted by Booth, p. 170.

[62] Isaiah ii. 4.

[63] Vide Lorenz von Stein, “Geschichte der Socialen Bewegung in Frankreich” (Leipzig, 1850), Bd. ii. SS. 226, 227. The translation is abridged and is rather free in places.

[64] Bd. ii. S. 228.

[65] That is, of so much importance to one writing or studying the history of social movements.

[66] In 1808.

[67] Vide Introduction to the “Théorie,” tome i. of Œuvres Complètes.

[68] Vide Preface of editors to second edition (Paris, 1841).

[69] Tomes ii.-v. of Œuvres Complètes (1841-43).

[70] Vide “Théorie des Quatre Mouvements,” Œuvres, tome i. p. 50. These phases are subdivided into thirty-two periods, of which a table accompanies p. 52.

[71] He seems finally to have been inclined to believe that they were so.

[72] Third edition, as vol. vi. of Collected Works (Paris, 1848).

[73] Vide Fourier’s Œuvres, tome ii. pp. 142-147, and references there given. Lorenz von Stein sets a high value on the philosophical value of this classification, as compared with similar efforts of Pythagoras and Bossuet. Although appreciative, he criticises Fourier vigorously, and shows the contradictions involved in his classification (vide Stein, “Sociale Bewegung,” Bd. ii. SS. 276-285).

[74] Always thus designated by Fourier. He attaches such a reproachful meaning to it that the word has an ugly sound to one immediately after reading his works.

[75] Vide “Fourier et son Système,” par Madame Gatti de Gammond (3d ed. 1839), p. 86.

[76] “Vices de Nos Procédés Industriels” (1824; 2d ed., with the title “Aperçus sur les Procédés Industriels,” 1840) and “Nouvelles Transactions Sociales, Religieuses et Politiques de Virtomnius” (1832).

[77] “Fourier et son Système” (1st ed. 1838; 3d ed. 1839, pp. 384). Madame de Gammond modifies Fourier’s views concerning the relations of the sexes in her presentation, as would naturally be expected of a lady of culture.

[78] Wrote “Paroles de Providence” (1835).

[79] “Fourier, Sa Vie et sa Théorie” (5th ed. 1872).

[80] “Études sur la Science Sociale” (2 vols. 1831-34).

[81] 1832, La Réforme Industrielle, ou le Phalanstère; La Phalange, whose mottoes were “Social Reform without Revolutions,” “Realization of Order, of Justice, and of Liberty,” “Organization of Industry;” La Démocratie Pacifique, the daily, suppressed in 1850.

[82] Arthur Booth, in article on Fourier in Fortnightly Review, vol. xii. N. S. (July-Dec. 1, 1872).

[83] Godin’s “Solutions Sociales” (Paris, 1871), p. 529.

[84] “Association of Capital with Labor” (translated by Louis Bristol; published by the “New York Woman’s Social Science Society,” Room 24, Cooper Institute, 1881).

[85] The exercises at the former of these celebrations is described in the Overland Monthly for March, 1883, by Marie Howland; in the Californian for January, 1881, a description of the latter festival may be found.

[86] “Association of Capital with Labor,” pp. 5, 6.

[87] This enterprise is admirably described in an article entitled “The Social Palace at Guise” (Harper’s Monthly, April, 1872).

[88] Wrote “The Social Destiny of Man,” founded on Considerant’s “Destinée Sociale.”

[89] Published in the “American Men of Letters Series,” and vide also Noyes’s “History of American Socialisms,” ch. xi.

[90] Small 12mo.

[91] 8vo.

[92] G. W. Smalley, New York Tribune, Feb. 4, 1883.

[93] C. K. Adams’s “Manual of Historical Literature,” p. 332.

[94] For a satisfactory description of the true import of this measure, vide John Stuart Mill’s essay, “The French Revolution of 1848 and its Assailants;” “Dissertations and Discussions” (Am. ed.), vol. iii. pp. 54-58.

[95] Vide “Lorenz von Stein,” iii. S. 292.

[96] There was once some doubt about the case, but the publication of official documents and later testimony has settled the question conclusively, vide article on Louis Blanc in “Nouvelle Biographie Générale,” vol. vi.; Roscher’s “Political Economy,” sec. 81, note 6; E. Thomas, “Histoire des Ateliers Nationaux;” Louis Blanc, “Historical Revelations,” and “La Révolution de 1848,” vol. i. ch. xi.

[97] “Lettres sur l’Angleterre” (Paris, 1866-67); “Letters on England,” translated from the French by James Hutton and revised by the author (London, 1866, 2 vols.). “Letters on England,” second series, translated by James Hutton and L. J. Trotter (London, 1867, 2 vols. in one).

[98] Paris, 1873.

[99] The vote was 380 to 85.

[100] Edward King in Evening Post, Dec. 28, 1882.

[101] In the letter in the New York Tribune already referred to.

[102] Die Gegenwart, 6. Januar, 1883.

[103] “Organisation du Travail,” 9th ed. p. 9.

[104] Quoted from Louis Blanc, by H. Baudrillart in his “Publicistes Modernes” (Paris, 1863), p. 308.

[105] Quoted in Baudrillart, ibid. Cf. “Droit au Travail,” pp. 9, 10.

[106] “Organisation du Travail,” p. 4. Cf. “Histoire de la Révolution de 1848,” pp. 265, 266.

[107] “Organisation du Travail,” p. 13.

[108] “Droit au Travail” (Paris, 1849), pp. 65-67; “Organisation du Travail,” pp. 18, 19.

[109] Ibid. pp. 13, 14, 17, 18, 199.

[110] Ibid. p. 71.

[111] Article 3 on p. 120 of “Organisation du Travail.”

[112] “Organisation du Travail,” pp. 72, 114, 120.

[113] Loc. cit. pp. 18, 19.

[114] “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak.”—Rom. xv. 1.

[115] “Histoire de la Révolution de 1848,” vol. i. pp. 147, 148.

[116] “Organisation du Travail,” p. 72.

[117] Cf. loc. cit. pp. 72, 73, 77, 187, 188, 195, 196, 207, 208, et passim.

[118] Quoted from Sainte-Beuve’s “P.-J. Proudhon, Sa Vie et sa Correspondance” (1872), by H. Baudrillart, in his article on Proudhon in the Revue des deux Mondes, 1873.

[119] New edition (Paris, 1873, tome i.) of “Œuvres Complètes.”

[120] Preface to “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” p. 5.

[121] Chap. iv. 2d Proposition. I do not mean to assert positively that Marx borrowed his ideas from Proudhon. He was more indebted to Rodbertus, who, contemporaneously with Proudhon, but probably independently of him, was carrying on similar investigation and arriving at similar results. It is, however, true that Proudhon was the first of the three to publish an extensive presentation of his ideas.

[122] Vols. iv. and v. of “Œuvres Complètes.”

[123] Details given in “Œuvres Complètes,” vol. vii. pp. 263-313.

[124] New edition (Paris, 1864) of “Œuvres Complètes,” tome vii.

[125] “Œuvres Complètes,” vols. xxi.-xxvi.

[126] The formula of Roman law is “Res nullius cedit primo occupanti.”

[127] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” pp. 133-137.

[128] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” p. 204; cf. pp. 205, 206.

[129] Henry George and others might get some useful hints from him.

[130] “Œuvres Complètes,” tome i. pp. 214, 216, 217.

[131] “Œuvres Complètes,” tome vii. p. 271.

[132] Ibid. p. 290.

[133] This name is frequently given to Proudhon’s plans by the socialists.

[134] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” chap. v. 2e partie, sec. 2.

[135] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” chap. v. 2e partie, sec. 3. Cf. also his speech in the National Assembly on 31st of July, 1848, in “Œuvres,” vol. vii. pp. 268, 269.

[136] Ibid. chap. iv. 5e “Prop. et Appendice.”

[137] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” p. 157.

[138] “Qu’est-ce que la Propriété?” pp. 222-224.

[139] “Œuvres Complètes,” tome i. pp. 224, 225.

[140] Bd. i. S. 42.

[141] Fortnightly Review, May, 1878.

[142] “Exposé des Écoles Socialistes Françaises,” par B. Malon (2d ed. Paris, 1872). “Avant-Propos,” p. iii.

[143] Frederic Harrison, in article in Fortnightly Review, already referred to.

[144] For this, as well as a few other facts, I am indebted to an article on “French Socialists” which appeared in the weekly edition of the London Times, March 30, 1883.

[145] Vide B. Malon’s “Exposé,” etc., p. 230.

[146] Consult, on this point, Stepniak’s “Underground Russia” (London, 1883). Careful inquiry of a large number of Russians, young and old, rich and poor, convinced me long since that the views this book expresses concerning the condition of Russia are substantially correct.

[147] Cf. Rudolf Meyer, Bd. i. SS. 42, 43, and two articles on Michael Bakunin, in the Deutsche Rundschau (1877), Bde. 11 u. 12.

[148] This was copied in the February (1883) number of the Journal des Économistes from the Révolté. I take it from the Journal.

[149] “Exposé,” etc., p. 260.

[150] April, 1883.

[151] Vide Malon’s “Exposé,” etc., p. 183. A further account of Colins’s ideas is given in a very interesting manner in an article already referred to—viz., De Laveleye’s “European Terror” (Fortnightly Review, April, 1883).

[152] A little book which a workman is compelled to keep and exhibit to each employer, in order that the latter may know who have employed him before, the new employer in turn signing his name in the book when the laborer enters his service and when he leaves it, and expressing his opinion of the laborer’s conduct.

[153] Quoted from Journal des Économistes for March, 1883, pp. 450-452.

[154] “Exposé des Écoles Socialistes Françaises,” pp. iii., iv.

[155] “Emancipationskampf,” etc., Bd. i. S. 43.

[156] Free-trader is used here, as often in Germany, not to denote simply an advocate of free-trade, but a supporter of the entire abstract and theoretical system of the English free-traders.

[157] Page 1023.

[158] “Die Lage der arbeitenden Klassen in England” (1845).

[159] “System der Weltökonomie, oder Untersuchungen über die Organisation der Arbeit.”

[160] As this German custom is not generally understood in America and often leads to confusion, it may be well to state that it is customary to affix the name of a man’s estate or native village or even his wife’s name to his own to distinguish him from others of the same name. Thus, the founder of the people’s banks is called Schulze-Delitzsch, because he lived formerly in a little place called Delitzsch. He afterwards lived in Potsdam, but was still called Schulze-Delitzsch. Delitzsch is, however, really no part of his name. In speaking to him you would generally have addressed him as Mr. Schulze, never Mr. Delitzsch. In reading a book recently written by a learned American, I was amused to see him spoken of seriously as Mr. Schulze von Delitzsch. It originated undoubtedly in Lassalle’s calling him in contempt for his admiration for the bourgeoisie Mr. Bastiat-Schulze von Delitzsch.

[161] Cf. Wagner, in Tübinger Zeitschrift (1878), SS. 211, 212.

[162] “Zur Beleuchtung,” etc., SS. 23, 24.

[163] That is, the labor of man in economic society.

[164] “Zur Beleuchtung,” S. 24.

[165] The Fourteenth Annual Report of the Massachusetts Bureau of Statistics of Labor for 1883 goes to substantiate this theory. In 1875 the “percentage of wages paid of value of product” in over two thousand establishments was 24.68; in 1880 only 20.33. Vide p. 371; cf. also other statistics on the same page and on p. 370.

[166] “Normal Arbeitstag;” Tübinger Zeitschrift, S. 361.

[167] “Offener Brief,” etc., in Lassalle’s “Reden,” Bd. i. S. 270.

[168] Cf. Lassalle’s “Reden,” Bd. i. SS. 40-42, where this thought is brought out clearly and forcibly.

[169] I do not mean by this to state that I consider the explanation correct.

[170] “Hülfstafeln zu Preisberechnungen für Zimmerarbeiten, auf Grundlage der durchschnittlichen Leistung der Arbeiter,” von H. Peters. Schwerin i. M., and “Hülfsbuch zur Aufstellung von Lohnregulativen und Preisberechnungen für Bautischlerarbeiten, mit Angabe des Materialbedarfs und des durchschnittlichen Arbeitswerths nach Stunden und Minuten,” von H. Peters (Berlin, 1877).

[171] For these and other facts, vide Mehring’s “Die Deutsche Social-Demokratie,” ch. v.

[172] This translation, by Ernest Jones, appeared in John Rae’s “The Socialism of Karl Marx and the Young Hegelians” (Contemporary Review, October, 1881).

[173] Second edition (Hamburg, 1872).

[174] “Wochenausgabe,” 23. März, 1883.

[175] “Das Kapital,” 2te Aufl. S. 793.

[176] “Das Kapital,” S. 158.

[177] Quoted by Knies in “Das Geld,” S. 53.

[178] “Das Kapital,” SS. 656, 657.

[179] A good account is given in Rudolf Meyer’s “Emancipationskampf,” etc., Bd. i. SS. 93-174. The Frenchman Villetard has written a “History of the International,” which was translated into English by Susan M. Day, and published in New Haven in 1874.

[180] Vide De Laveleye’s “European Terror” (Fortnightly Review, April, 1883).

[181] “Die Philosophie Heracleitos des Dunkeln,” 2 Bde. On account of his absorption in the celebrated Hatzfeldt case for eight years, it was not published until 1858.

[182] Vide “Briefe von Lassalle und Carl Rodbertus-Jagetzow, mit einer Einleitung von Adolf Wagner” (Berlin, 1878), SS. 44, 67, 71, 72.

[183] This matter was referred by Louis Blanc to Karl Blind, who advised him to not grant the request, as he had no faith in Lassalle, believing that he intended from the start to “sell out” to Bismarck. Vide article on Louis Blanc, in Die Gegenwart, 6. Januar, 1883.

[184] Quoted from my article on “Bismarck’s Plan for Insuring German Laborers” (International Review, May, 1882).

[185] Vide Lassalle’s “Ronsdorfer Rede,” held May 22, 1864, and published in Berlin.

[186] See first note above.

[187] On the 17th of September, 1878. I translate Bismarck’s words as given in his “Ausgewählte Reden,” Bd. iii. SS. 131, 132.

[188] “Political Economy,” bk. ii. chap. xi. sec. 2.

[189] Bk. i. ch. viii.

[190] Beamtenfamilie is a common expression.

[191] John Rae (Contemporary Review, June, 1881).

[192] One candidate was elected in two districts which required a new election in one of them, in which the social democrats lost. This reduced the number of their members to twelve.

[193] The leading organ of the social democrats, the Sozial-demokrat, of Zurich, gave a fair report of the proceedings, which was reprinted in the Vorbote of Chicago, May 5, 1883.

[194] This quotation is taken from my article in the International Review on “Bismarck’s Plan,” etc., May, 1882. The remaining quotations in this chapter are taken from the same article when no other reference is given.

[195] Vide a description of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Employees’ Relief Association, by B. J. Ramage, in the Johns Hopkins University Studies in Historical and Political Science.

[196] The first four conditions are taken from the American translation of Roscher; the fifth is translated by the author from a subsequent German edition.

[197] Mehring, S. 80.

[198] Born in 1833.

[199] The Rev. Samuel A. Barnett mentions the following as socialistic laws on the statute-book of England: “The Poor Law,” “The Education Act,” “The Established Church,” “The Land Act,” and “The Libraries Act;” vide his article on “Practicable Socialism” (Nineteenth Century Magazine, April, 1883).

[200] Cf. Lev. xxv. and Deut. xv.

[201] “Munera Pulveris” (New York, 1872), pp. 141, 142.

[202] Cf. Wagner’s celebrated “Rede über die sociale Frage” (Berlin, 1872).

[203] Vide Macaulay, “History of England.” Cf. article “Budget,” by Spofford, in “Cyclopædia of Political Science,” in regard to increase of expenses of various states.

[204] “Ueber einige Grundfragen des Rechts und der Volkswirthschaft” (Jena, 1875).

[205] Quoted by Kaufmann in “Lamennais and Kingsley,” Contemporary Review, April, 1882.

[206] “Paroles d’ un Croyant,” pp. 16-18.

[207] Alton Locke, ch. xli.

[208] Quoted from Kaufmann’s article.

[209] Dated Chester, October 6, 1882.

[210] “Die Arbeiterfrage und das Christenthum” (Mainz, 1864), Seite 112.

[211] He attributes the abolition of slavery to the Church.

[212] The Catholic Church in Germany has been instrumental in establishing a large number of Gesellenvereine, or bachelors’ unions. They resemble in many respects our Young Men’s Christian Associations.

[213] De Laveleye.

[214] Quoted by Kaufmann in his article on Lamennais and Kingsley, in the Contemporary Review, April, 1882.





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