Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER V: Paraguay - Socialistic Fallacies
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CHAPTER V: Paraguay - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
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Paraguay—Jesuit recruiting—Absence of civil and criminal legislation—Private property—Religious worship—Common meals—Clothes and lodging—Corregidors as police—Confusion of moral and civil order—Absence of commerce—Misery and idleness.
At the time when Campanella's book appeared, the Jesuits were putting its principles into practice in Paraguay. They had obtained certain privileges from Philip III., but Diego Martin Neyroni, the Governor of the Spanish possessions from 1601 to 1615, drove them back into the countries of Guaycuru and Guarani, where they succeeded in becoming independent of the Spanish viceroys and in refusing to tolerate the presence of any Spaniard. They found there a population accommodating enough to submit to a discipline under which a few hundred Jesuits were enabled to govern a territory extending from the Andes to the Portuguese possessions in Brazil, comprising the valley of Paraguay and part of the valleys of Parana and of Uruguay, and covering an area of four or five times the size of France.
In addition to their central establishment they had thirty-one others, which they called “Reductions.”
According to Alexander von Humboldt, the Jesuits proceeded to the conquest of souls by flinging themselves upon the tribe they selected, setting fire to their huts and taking away as prisoners men, women and children. They then distributed them among their missions, taking care to separate them in order to prevent them from combining.1 These prisoners were slaves, of whom the house of Cordova possessed three thousand five hundred at the time of the suppression of the Order.
Conversions were effected with great despatch by touching the converts with damp linen. The baptism being then complete, they sent the certificates to Rome. Each tribe had two rulers, a senior who was concerned with the temporal administration, and a vicar who carried out the spiritual functions.1
They did not establish any system of municipal laws, for which there was no necessity, either to regulate the condition of families (for there was no right of succession and all children were supported at the charges of the Society) or to determine the nature and the division of property, all of which was held in common. Neither was there any criminal legislation, the Jesuit fathers correcting the Indians under no rules other than their own wills, tempered by custom.
Although labour in common was the rule, the Jesuits were obliged to make some concession to the desire for private property and to the need for personal service. They therefore granted a small piece of land to each family with liberty to cultivate it on two days in each week. They also gave occasional permission to the men to go hunting or fishing on condition of their making the heads of the mission presents of game or of fish.
Two hours of every day were set apart for prayers and seven for work, except on Sundays, when prayers occupied four or five hours. Every morning before daybreak the entire population, including infants who were hardly weaned, assembled at church for hymns and prayers, and the roll was called, after which everyone kissed the hands of the missionary. Some were then taken by native chiefs to labour in the fields and others to the workshops. The women had to roast sufficient corn for the needs of the day and to spin an ounce of cotton.
Every morning during mass broth was made of barley meal, without fat or salt, in large cauldrons placed in the middle of the public square. Rations were taken to the dwellers in each hut in vessels made of bark, and the scrapings were divided among the children who had acquitted themselves best in their catechism. At midday more broth was distributed, a little thicker than that which was supplied in the morning, containing a mixture of flour, maize, peas and beans. The Indians then resumed their work, and on their return kissed the hand of the priest and received a further ration of broth similar to that of which they had partaken in the morning. Although cattle were plentiful, according to some accounts, meat was only distributed in exceptional cases or to men who were at work; according to others it was distributed daily. Probably each “Reduction” followed its own particular system according to the amount of its resources. Salt was scarce, a small bowl being served out to each family on Sundays.
Regulations fixed the amount of cloth, which was given annually, to men at six “varas” (five yards) and to women at five “varas.” This they made into a kind of shirt which covered them very indifferently. They had neither drawers, shoes, nor hats. Children of either sex went naked until they attained the age of nine.
Their huts, which were very small and low, were round. The framework consisted of posts driven into the ground and joined at the tops, trusses of straw being spread upon them to protect the inside. The inhabitants were crowded into them to the number of fifteen for each hut, of which an accumulation formed a town. There were no dwellers in the open country, owing to the difficulties of supervision. In the centre of a town stood the church, and beside it were the college of the fathers, the stores and the workshops. The streets were regularly laid out and planted with trees, and each town was encircled by an impenetrable hedge of cactus. The church was built with the sham elaboration and filled with the tinsel which are the characteristics of Jesuit art. Music was performed in them, choirs organised, and religious exercises practised, among which self-flagellations, to which women and girls submitted themselves, crowns of thorns, and positions representing crucifixions were to strike the imaginations of the natives.
The Jesuits selected from among their own members corregidors to watch over conduct, to supervise the regular performance of the religious ceremonies and to direct and control labour. These held office for two years. A native was never elevated to the dignity of a priest. The Jesuits solemnised marriages twice a year, but the community of goods had a sinister influence in encouraging the community of women.
The fathers were the guardians of virtue as of everything else. Of their manner of exercising their functions I will only quote from Bougainville, who was at Buenos Ayres at the time of the expulsion of the Jesuits, this passage: “My pen refuses to record the details of what the people allege. The passions aroused are still too recent to allow of the possibility of distinguishing the false charges from the true.”1 Clearly it was not respect for the native women and girls that could restrain the fathers, and we perceive once again the danger of confounding moral order with that which is imposed by legal institutions. The former had put an end to the latter, and there was no security either for person or for property. Every Jesuit was at one and the same time confessor, legislator and judge, and if he despised the office of executioner he nevertheless superintended the process of execution.
The Jesuits converted every Indian into an informer at the moment when he made confession, and when one of those whose confession had previously been made approached him, the Jesuit found no difficulty in convicting him. Punishments were not of a spiritual nature; they consisted of lashes with leather thongs inflicted upon men in public and upon women in secret, a father or a husband being frequently charged with the office of executioner, the culprit being finally constrained to kiss the hand of the father who had caused him to be chastised. Offences were of two kinds, offences against doctrine, failure to attend a religious ceremony and the like, and offences against economic obligations, such as negligence in work or even losing seed or cattle, which the fathers would replace without objection, but with the addition of a thorough whipping.
Commerce was prohibited and money unknown. There was no trade except with the foreigner, and this was undertaken solely by the Jesuits. It is estimated that they were able to collect from one to two millions of écus annually, of which one half was remitted to the General of the Order. Naturally the natives had no share in it.
The natives were not allowed the use of horses for fear lest they should depart from their settlements; they were not permitted to go beyond fixed bounds, on pain of the lash if they disobeyed. They worked very badly and very little. Antonio de Ulloa1 says that seventy labourers were required where eight or ten Europeans of moderate capacity would have sufficed. They lived in a state of wretched and abject inertia. One fact alone proves their condition of stagnation. Although a bell called them nightly to the performance of their conjugal duties, the population failed to increase.1 When the Jesuits were expelled in 1768, they left a population in a miserable condition such as Bougainville and La Perouse have described. Such was the result of putting into practice the principles of Campanella's “Civitas Solis.”
“Voyage aux régions Equinoxales,” vol. vi., book vii., ch. 19.
Charles Comte, “Traite de la Législation,” vol. iv., p. 464.
Bougainville, vol. i., pp. 196-197.
Cited by Charles Comte.
See Pfotenhauer, “Die Missionen der Jesuiten in Paraguay,” 3 vols., 1891-1893.