Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER VI: Morelly and the Code de la Nature - Socialistic Fallacies
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CHAPTER VI: Morelly and the “Code de la Nature“ - Yves Guyot, Socialistic Fallacies 
Socialistic Fallacies (London: Cope and Fenwick, 1910).
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Morelly and the “Code de la Nature“
The “Basiliad”—Sexual Morality—Principles of the “Code de la Nature”—Their application: Babeuf and Darthé—Property and the Revolution.
In 1753 Morelly, an author of whom few details are known, published two volumes in duodecimo, entitled “An Heroic Poem,” translated from the Indian, and “Wreck of the Floating Isles, or Basiliad of the Celebrated Pilpaï.” I confess that I have not read them. Villegardelle has published extracts from them at the end of an edition of the “Code de la Nature,” which were quite enough for me. But, judging by the passages cited by Von Kirchenheim, Morelly exhibits himself even more boldly in his prose poem as regards sexual morality than would appear in the pages of Villegardelle. “They knew not the infamous names of incest, adultery and prostitution: these peoples had no conception of these crimes: a sister received the tender embraces of a brother without any feeling of horror….” From the moment when these acts ceased to be denominated by ugly words all was for the best.
The “Code de la Nature” appeared in 1754, a year after Rousseau's essay, “L'Origine de l'inegalité parmi les hommes.” The author starts with the same idea, “The earth belongs to no man.” He sets up a model of legislation “in conformity with the designs of nature.” His inspiration is derived from Moore and Campanella and he is entitled to be considered as having inspired all the communists and collectivists who have succeeded him, including our contemporaries. The essential conditions of his system are as follows:—
Essential unity of property and of living in common: establishing the common use of instruments of labour and of products: rendering education equally accessible to all: distribution of work according to capacity and of its produce according to needs: preservation round the city of land sufficient for those who dwell in it.
Association of at least one thousand persons in order that, while every one works in accordance with his power and capacity, and consumes according to his needs and his tastes, there may be set up for a sufficient number of individuals an average of consumption which does not exceed the common resources, and a total resultant of work which supplies them in sufficient abundance.
No privilege to be accorded to talent other than that of directing labour in the common interest and no regard to be had, in dividing the proceeds of labour, to capacity, but only to needs, which exist before capacity and survive it.
Pecuniary rewards to be excluded; first, because capital is an instrument of labour which must remain wholly at the disposal of those who administer it, and secondly because every grant in money is useless where labour, being freely and willingly adopted, would render the variety and abundance of its produce more extended than our wants, and injurious where inclination and taste failed to fulfil all useful functions, for this would be to enable individuals to avoid payment of the debt of labour and of obtaining exemption from the duties of society without renouncing the privileges which society ensures.
Morelly has codified this system, and I reproduce certain provisions of his code which it is desirable to compare with actual conceptions.
Art. 5. Calculated upon tens, hundreds, etc., of citizens, there shall be for each calling a number of workmen in proportion to the degree of difficulty involved by their labour, and to the amount of its produce which it is necessary to supply to the people of each city without unduly exhausting the workmen.
art. 6. In order to regulate the distribution of the products of nature and of art, it is necessary to recognise, in the first place, that these include articles of a durable nature, i.e., such as can, at all events, be preserved for a considerable time, and that all products of this nature include:—(1) daily and universal use; (2) use which, though universal, is not continuous; (3) some that are continuously necessary to some one person only, but occasionally to everyone; (4) others that are never for continuous or general use, such as articles produced for isolated gratification or for a particular taste. Now, all these products of a durable nature are to be collected in public store-houses in order that they may be distributed, some daily or at fixed times to all the citizens to serve for the ordinary necessities of life, and as material for the labours of different occupations; others to be supplied to such persons as use them.
Art. 11. Nothing is to be sold or exchanged between fellow citizens, so that a man who has need of particular herbs, vegetables, or fruit is to go and take what he requires for one day's use only in the public place to which these things have been brought by those who grow them. If a man has need of bread, he is to go and provide himself for a stated time from the man who makes it, who will find in the public granary sufficient flour for the quantity of bread which he has to bake, be it for one day or for several.
Art. 10. The surplus provisions of each city or province are to overflow into those which are in danger of falling short, or are to be preserved for future necessities.
Art. 3. Every citizen, without exception, between the ages of twenty and twenty-five is to be compelled to follow the pursuit of agriculture unless relieved by reason of some infirmity.
Art.1. In every occupation the oldest and the most experienced are to take turns, according to seniority, and for five days at a time, in directing five or six of their companions, and are to fix the scale of work to be performed by them, moderately, on the basis of the amount which has been imposed upon themselves.
Art. 2. In every occupation there is to be one master for ten or twenty workmen.
Art. 7. The heads of every occupation are to appoint the hours of rest and of labour, and to prescribe what is to be done.
Art. 1. Every citizen of the age of thirty shall be clothed according to his taste, but without exceptional luxury, and similarly is to take his meals in the bosom of his family, without intemperance or profusion; this law enjoins senators and chiefs severely to repress those who exceed.
Babeuf drew his inspiration from Morelly. The manifesto of the “Conspiration des Egaux,” written by Sylvani Maréchal, explains the difference between their conception and that of an agrarian law which permits the division of property. “Agrarian laws or a division of lands arose from the sudden desire of a body of unprincipled soldiers, or of a people united by their instinct rather than by their reason. We aspire to something more sublime and more equitable—the common good in a community of goods.” No more private property in lands, “The land belongs to no one; we claim, we want the communal enjoyment of the fruits of the earth.” The law of the 27th Germinal of the year IV. (April 16th, 1796), which punished with death “all who incite to pillage, or to the division of private property under the name of an agrarian law or in any other manner whatsoever,” was applied to Babeuf and Darthé.
The Declaration of the Rights of Man of 1793 had asserted, with even greater energy than the Declaration of 1791, the right of property, which it defined in Article 16 as that which belongs to every citizen to enjoy, and to dispose at will of his income, the fruits of his labour and of his industry.