Front Page Titles (by Subject) NINE: GOVERNMENTALISTS, ANARCHISTS AND GENETICISTS - The Perfectibility of Man
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NINE: GOVERNMENTALISTS, ANARCHISTS AND GENETICISTS - John Passmore, The Perfectibility of Man 
The Perfectibility of Man (3rd ed.) (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2000).
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GOVERNMENTALISTS, ANARCHISTS AND GENETICISTS
The classics of education—Rousseau’s Émile as much as Locke’s Some Thoughts Concerning Education—normally take as their point of departure an educational situation which involves but a single pupil, living in an artificially purified society, carefully designed to preserve him from the temptations inherent in everyday social relationships. The implementation of such an educational ideal raises obvious problems. It is based on the presumption, never more strongly emphasized than by Rousseau, that society, as it is at present constituted, inevitably corrupts. That is why the child ought not to encounter its effects until he has reached maturity, when his education will act as a prophylactic.
On the face of it, however, the teacher himself, as a member of society, is already corrupted and therefore quite the wrong person to teach the child. The University of Oxford, in the days when the University controlled the town, came nearest to exemplifying a system of education in which a single pupil confronts a tutor, in an artificially isolated social situation. Its teachers, too, were Oxford-trained celibate clergymen. But not even they, as the history of Oxford all too vividly reveals, would have satisfied the moral ideals of a Locke or a Rousseau.
Rousseau was not unaware of this problem. “How can a child be well educated,” he asks in Émile, “by one who has not been well educated himself?” And his answer is by no means confident. “Can such a one be found? I know not.”1 But he certainly did not grasp its full significance, as Marx did when he accused Locke and his followers of having forgotten “that the educator must himself be educated.”2 It is not merely that uncorrupted teachers are hard to find. If Rousseau is right in believing that society, as it now exists, inevitably corrupts, then it is impossible in principle to discover an uncorrupted teacher.
Watson and Skinner attempt a solution. If each generation concentrates on giving a better education to its successor, then men can look forward in the long run, Watson suggests, to a society infinitely superior to any they have yet created. Skinner goes out of his way to make it clear that the founder of his ideal colony, Frazier, does not possess the virtues he is attempting to inculcate in others. “Isn’t it enough,” says Frazier, “that I’ve made other men likeable and happy and productive? Why expect me to resemble them?” The explanation of his defects is simple: “I’m not a product of Walden Two.” But this, he contends, does not matter: “Must the doctor share the health of his patient? Must the ichthyologist swim like a fish? Must the maker of fire-crackers pop?”3
Frazier is confident that he knows what ought to be done to produce successors who will be better men than he is—successors, indeed, who will not only be better men but can be relied upon to train their successors to be better men still. The assumption remains, however, that this training can only take place in an enclosed situation. Skinner’s Walden Two is as remote from city life as Thoreau’s Walden, which, for all Skinner’s scientific up-to-dateness, it imitates in its rurality. “Crowds are unpleasant and unbeautiful.” But the question is whether such an indefinite progress, based on a chain of improvement from teacher to taught, can be guaranteed, or even reasonably anticipated, in the midst of a society which remains for the most part unchanged. Frazier’s successors will not be ideal men; they will not have been selected by ideal men; the community in which they live is but an island in a sea of social inefficiency. The risk that his successors will have precisely those defects which would render them liable to external corruption is a very real one. For this reason many social reformers have argued that widespread social changes must precede reforms in the system of education, or must at least run parallel to them.
Such reformers fall into two groups: let us call them “governmentalists” and “anarchists.” The governmentalists see in government—and, more particularly, in legislation—the principal agent of perfection; the anarchists, in the sharpest possible contrast, rest their hopes on the destruction of the State and its replacement by a completely different form of social organization. Helvetius, a convinced Lockian, is the founding father of modern governmentalism. At first sight, his emphasis, like Locke’s own, is on education rather than on legislation, as when he writes that “to be happy and powerful is only a matter of perfecting the science of education.”4 But Helvetius uses the word “education” in an unusually broad sense.
“Everyone,” he writes, “has for teachers both the form of government under which he lives and his friends and mistresses, and the people around about him and books he reads.”5 So “education” includes not only the processes by which a teacher develops in his pupils new capacities, habits, and tastes, but also the processes by which a state modifies the behaviour of its citizens, in order to make them conform to higher moral standards. This is the kind of “education” which Helvetius came particularly to emphasize. Laws, he maintains, are “the soul of empires, the instruments of public welfare,” instruments which are admittedly “still imperfect” but which can “from day to day be made perfect.”6 It is by means of laws that men are to be taught to prefer the public good to their own interests; it is laws which are to “extinguish the torches of fanaticism and superstition.”7 These are the doctrines which the theologians of the Sorbonne particularly selected for condemnation: that “it is by good laws that men are to be made virtuous” and that “one should complain less of the wickedness of men than of the ignorance of legislators, who have always put in opposition particular interests and the general interest.” The Sorbonne theologians knew a revolutionary idea when they saw one.8 Laws, of course, were no novelty, but to ascribe to them such extraordinary social functions was to go far beyond the traditional expectations of loyal subjects.
Helvetius dedicated his De l’Homme to Catherine and to Frederick the Great, “enlightened despots” both of them. It is through the efforts of such rulers, he thought, that “the universe must be enlightened.”9 Critical though he was of traditional despotisms, he seems to have had no fear of absolute authority—as Diderot, no Frederick-lover, complained10 —provided only that it was “enlightened,” basing its actions, that is, on his ideas. That is one of the many respects in which Helvetius resembles Plato. He thought he knew how to solve the awkward question: “Who, in a corrupted society, shall frame the laws?” “Enlightened despots” is his answer—the modern equivalent of philosopher-kings. If only as a result of the laws of probability, such a despot, he confidently affirms, is bound to turn up occasionally, the white marble in a bag of despots who are otherwise uniformly black. But Helvetius did not pause to explain precisely how, in a world where all other men are governed by their private interests, a legislator could arise who would be wholly dedicated to the general interest, prepared to devote himself to ensuring that everybody else’s private interests would coincide, as his own automatically did, with the general interest.
One must remember that, by the very nature of eighteenth-century French society, the philosophes had little opportunity of acquiring any experience of political activity, its problems, its potentialities. “Living as they did quite out of touch with practical politics,” as de Tocqueville points out, “they lacked the experience which might have tempered their enthusiasms. Thus they completely failed to perceive the very real obstacles in the way of even the most praiseworthy reforms, and to gauge the perils involved in even the most salutary revolutions.” Their natural tendency, furthermore, was to think in terms of absolute authority: they “despised the public almost as heartily as they despised the Deity.”11 “The people,” wrote Diderot, “are the most foolish and the most wicked of all men”; D’Alembert described “the multitude” as “ignorant and stupefied . . . incapable of strong and generous actions”; Condillac once went so far as to describe “the people” as a “ferocious animal.”12
Yet even Joseph Priestley, for all that his political experience was very different—it is impossible to imagine him dedicating any of his works to a despot, however enlightened—was prepared to affirm that “the great instrument in the hand of divine providence of this progress of the species towards perfection, is society and consequently government.”13 It is with the help of government that Providence will prepare men for that “glorious and paradisaical” future which Priestley so confidently predicts for them—although for Priestley, of course, it must be a government which “knows its place” and does not act except when the general interest demands that it do so.
Jeremy Bentham, writing in the same utilitarian tradition but without Priestley’s lively confidence that Providence would guide government to its proper ends, worked out in detail the code of laws which an ideal legislator would enforce. Bentham was much more conscious than Helvetius had been, however, that legislation has its limits as a moralizing agent; so much so that his Essay on the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation may fairly be described as anti-perfectibilist. It is not only that Bentham explicitly denies that perfection, which he equates with perfect happiness, lies within men’s reach. “Perfect happiness,” he writes, “belongs to the imaginary regions of philosophy, and must be classed with the universal elixir and the philosopher’s stone.” So much modern perfectibilists have, for the most part, been prepared to admit.
Bentham went further than this: it is unreasonable, he thought, to expect that the improvement of the human condition will be perpetual. Artistic creation, for example, might simply disappear, once artists had produced all that it is possible for art to encompass.* As to moral vices, Bentham did not believe that they could be wholly legislated out of existence. “It may be possible,” he wrote, “to diminish the influence of, but not to destroy, the sad and mischievous passions.” For legislation, as Bentham envisages it, cannot equalize talents and should not try to equalize possessions; envy, jealousy, and hatred, therefore, it cannot destroy.14
Other governmentalists were less restrained. The fiery revolutionary conspirator Babeuf was an unrelenting critic of that post-Revolutionary French Republic which executed him in 1797, no less than of the regime it had overthrown. Yet few men have ever held out greater hopes for a new form of government, an administration which would be dedicated to the common welfare. “This form of government,” he said in his defence before the court at Vendôme, a defence in which he proclaimed himself an inheritor of the ideas of the philosophes, “will bring about the disappearance of all boundary lines, fences, walls, locks on doors, trials, thefts, and assassinations; of all crimes, tribunals, prisons, gibbets and punishments; of the despair that causes all calamity; and of greed, jealousy, insatiability, pride, deception and duplicity—in short, of all vices.” It will put an end as well—and now Babeuf anticipates the “welfare state”—to “the gnawing worm of perpetual inquietude . . . about what tomorrow will bring, or at least what next year will bring, for our old age, for our children and for their children.”15 Helvetius, to whom Babeuf explicitly refers, might have listened to him with sympathy, but Bentham would have done so with scepticism.
Bentham has yet another, more decisive, argument against perfectibility by legislation. By its very nature, he points out, the modification of behaviour by legislative acts inflicts pain; legislation improves human conduct by associating penalties with actions which men would otherwise have found it pleasant to perform. Only thus can it create that identity of interests which is essential, on Bentham’s view, to a smooth-running society. So evil, in the form of pain, will be a permanent feature of a legislation-governed society. Helvetius had envisaged a system of government which employed rewards as well as penalties, allotting, for example, sensually attractive young women to men of great achievement, as a sort of Nubile Prize.16 The sterner Bentham has no such delights to offer. Punishments, not rewards, are to attract men to virtue; and “all punishment in itself is evil.”17
Bentham’s general attitude, then, is like Pomponazzi’s: “Let us seek what is attainable.” If the “attainable” does not include perfect happiness or indefinite progress, it is still set, however, at a far from despicable level. By perfecting their legislative system, men can create for themselves, Bentham assures us, “a most delightful abode, compared with the savage forest in which men have so long wandered.”18 Legislation opens up a Promised Land—Bentham’s own analogy—even if that land has still to be worked by the sweat of men’s brows.
There are other factors at work, too, which tend to perfect men and which are not subject to the limitations of legislation. Bentham will not admit education to be such an independent factor; it is no more, he says, than a particular form of government—“government acting by means of the domestic magistrate”19 —and is therefore subject to exactly the same limitations as government in general. The teacher, like the legislator, cannot but impose pain, in however spiritualized a form.
By the time he came to write his Deontology, however, Bentham had come under the influence of his independently-minded disciple, James Mill, who took as his fundamental principle, so his son J. S. Mill informs us, “the formation of all human character by circumstances, through the universal Principle of Association, and the consequent unlimited possibility of improving the moral and intellectual condition of mankind by education.”20 In his Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind, James Mill tried to describe in detail the way in which, as a result of the operation of associative mechanisms, men can gradually develop a love for humanity which will thereafter direct their conduct;21 at Bentham’s hands this piece of psychological analysis was converted into a law, the “law of the progress of sympathy.”
As society develops under the influence of commerce men are involved, Bentham points out, in an increasingly large number of distinct social groups. Where once they lived their lives in private, their home a castle protected against the influence of government, now they find themselves obliged, as a result of the responsibilities inherent in the growth of commerce, to live more and more of their lives in public, in a manner, therefore, which is subject to the moral pressures of their fellow-men. Thus it must happen, according to Bentham, that they daily become more virtuous and “will continue to do so, till, if ever, their nature shall have arrived at its perfection.” Bentham’s argument finally issues, indeed, in a dramatic conclusion worthy of the most convinced perfectibilist; “Shall they stop? Shall they turn back? The rivers shall as soon make a wall, or roll up the mountains to their source.”22 The pressure of public opinion completes that moralizing task which the legislator cannot carry to perfection. It does not even occur to Bentham, revealingly enough, that the pressures of public opinion might be corrupting rather than moralizing. Such was his confidence in the moral effects of commerce.
Bentham’s enthusiasm for the potentialities of legislation was, in the outcome, to be more influential than his recognition that it needed to be supplemented. If legislation could make a garden grow where there was now a wilderness, that was quite enough for the less ambitious sort of perfectibilist. John Stuart Mill’s reaction, as a young man, to Bentham was by no means untypical. Bentham, he noted, was “studiously moderate, deprecating and discountenancing as reveries of vague enthusiasm many things which will one day seem so natural to human beings, that injustice will probably be done to those who once thought them chimerical.” But this apparent “superiority to illusion” only served, Mill tells us, to strengthen Bentham’s influence; here was no fanatic, no dispenser of cure-alls, but a man who actually underestimated the potentialities of his own discoveries. Furthermore “the vista of improvement which he did open was sufficiently large and brilliant to light up my life.”23 It was only too easy, then, for enthusiastic Benthamites to discount Bentham’s reservations and to be overwhelmed by the prospect of perfecting men by legislation.
Thus it is that Mill could become a socialist without feeling himself to be wholly unfaithful to Bentham’s teachings and that a Fabian socialist like Graham Wallas could take Bentham as his mentor.24 “There is nothing in Bentham’s character, in the principle of utility . . . ,” a recent commentator has remarked, “to suggest that he could not have been a supporter of Fabian Socialism had he lived a hundred years later.”25 The Fabian Socialists, of course, completely rejected the laissez-faire economics which Bentham took for granted; they greatly extended the range of activities to which, in their judgement as compared with Bentham’s, it was appropriate that legislation should be applied; they emphasized—as, so we have pointed out, Bentham also went on to emphasize—the degree to which human behaviour is “moulded by the social pressure.”26 But their basic assumption that legislation, backed by administration, could be employed to make private and public interests coincide, derives its inspiration from Helvetius and from Bentham.
Nowadays, indeed, “there ought to be a law about it” has come to be, in England, a cant phrase. The anarchist Kropotkin has summed up this attitude to law in a manner which only verges on parody. “Instead of themselves altering what is bad, people begin by demanding a law to alter it. . . . A law everywhere and for everything! A law about fashions, a law about mad dogs, a law about virtue, a law to put a stop to all the vices and all the evils which result from human indolence and cowardice.”27 For the anarchists, in contrast, to have recourse to law is the mistake of mistakes. The impartial legislator, wholly detached, disengaged from his own interests, whose existence both Helvetius and Bentham have to presume, is, on their view, a dangerous myth. In practice, just as Helvetius dedicated his De l’Homme to the “enlightened despots” and Bentham sought to interest Catherine the Great in his Constitutional Code, so the State Socialist—it is interesting to observe the admiration of such Fabians as the Webbs and Bernard Shaw for the Soviet Union—is committed, so the anarchists argue, to the support of tyranny. Law, on the anarchist view, is no more than an exercise of force, an evil, as Bentham had admitted, but not, as he had thought, a necessary evil.
Anarchists come in many different shapes and sizes. There are individualist anarchists, co-operative anarchists and communist anarchists, anarchists who expect mankind to be saved by its passions and anarchists who expect it to be saved by its reason, atheistic anarchists and Christian anarchists, reforming anarchists, anarchists who commit themselves to a detailed blueprint of the new stateless society and anarchists who believe that it is of the essence of anarchism to abandon all programmes, all blueprints for the future. Yet at the same time, anarchists share a common set of beliefs; we can sum up these beliefs by saying that they all take literally Rousseau’s cymbal-clashing slogans. From the opening of Émile, “everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Creator, everything degenerates at the hands of man”; from the opening of the Social Contract, “man is born free and is now everywhere in chains.” In the context of Rousseau’s own political thought, these slogans do not mean quite what the uninstructed reader would take them to mean. Rousseau himself was not an anarchist; the society which had been man’s downfall could also, on his view, be man’s saviour. Sometimes, indeed, as in his Treatise on the Government of Poland, Rousseau writes as if he were a pure Helvetian; in his Social Contract an obscure figure “the Legislator” plays a vital part; his less sympathetic critics have detected in his theory of the “general will” to which individual wills must be subordinated the roots of modern totalitarianism.28
The British anarchist, William Godwin, profound admirer of Rousseau though he was and convinced that his Émile was “one of the principal reservoirs of philosophical truth, as yet existing in the world,” was equally emphatic that Rousseau’s genius deserted him in his purely political writings.29 Perhaps the most influential of all anarchists, P. J. Proudhon, attacked Rousseau with particular venom: “Never man,” he wrote, “united to such an extent intellectual pride, aridity of soul, lowness of tastes, depravity of habits, ingratitude of heart. . . . His philosophy is all phrases and covers only emptiness, his politics is full of domination; as for his ideas about society, they scarcely conceal their profound hypocrisy.”30
The fact remains that much else in Rousseau besides his resounding slogans anticipated the teachings of the anarchists; Proudhon himself certainly felt his influence. There are, for example, the Anabaptist-reminiscent opening sentences to the second part of Rousseau’s The Origin of Inequality: “The first man who, having enclosed a piece of ground, bethought himself of saying This is mine, and found people simple enough to believe him, was the real founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars and murders, how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by . . . crying to his fellows, ‘Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody.’”31 This, certainly, was a doctrine the anarchists could respond to with enthusiasm.
Mandeville had caused more than a little stir by arguing in his Fable of the Bees that the practice of virtue was incompatible with the development of a prosperous commercial society. Commerce can flourish, he had said, only where men are proud, avaricious, emulative. Rousseau could easily be read as making a similar point, that virtue and commercial progress do not go together. “As the conveniences of life increase,” he wrote, “as the arts are brought to perfection, and luxury spreads, true courage flags, the virtues disappear.”32 The anarchists were ready to draw from their reading of Rousseau the conclusion that society as it now exists must be destroyed, to be replaced by a simpler society where virtue could be practised without danger.
Then, too, there was the suggestion in Rousseau’s Émile, and even more in La Nouvelle Héloïse, that the human being has innate potentialities which must be allowed to flower, as distinct from being forced into a predetermined mould. “Each individual,” according to Rousseau’s mouthpiece Julie, “brings with him at birth a distinctive temperament, which determines his spirit and his character. There is no question of changing or putting a restraint upon this temperament, only of training it and bringing it to perfection.” Furthermore, this temperament is never of a kind which would, if properly trained, lead men to evil. “There are no mistakes in nature,” Julie tells us. “All the faults which we impute to innate disposition are the effects of the bad training which it has received. There is no criminal whose tendencies, had they been better directed, would not have yielded great virtues.”33 That doctrine was destined, through Froebel, Pestalozzi, Dewey to have a long intellectual history. The artist-anarchist-educator Herbert Read looks back to Rousseau as his intellectual ancestor, as the first, he says, to develop the theory of “freedom as the guiding principle of education”—even if, Read also thinks, Rousseau failed to carry it “to its democratic limits” and worked out, on the contrary, “a doctrine of sovereignty which was elaborated in a totalitarian direction by later philosophers.”34 In general, it was easy enough to extract from selected passages in Rousseau the thesis that moral development is not a matter of conforming to pre-established standards but of realizing one’s inner potentialities, potentialities at present stifled by the established institutions of society, private property, the Church and, above all, the State.
Only by careless reading, however, could the anarchists extract from Rousseau the doctrine that man is bound to perfect himself. Man’s perfectibility, he certainly says—and it was Rousseau who brought into vogue the word “perfectibilité”—is precisely what distinguishes him from the animals. But this faculty, he goes on to add, “is the source of all human misfortunes . . . which, successively producing in different ages his discoveries and his errors, his vices and his virtues, makes him at length a tyrant both over himself and over nature.”35 In other words, there is nothing in man’s “perfectibility,” his capacity for improving his position relative to Nature and to his fellow-men, to give promise that he will progress morally. His “perfectibility” can as readily lead him into vice as into virtue; the successful criminal makes use of his “perfectibility” to a greater degree than does the virtuous patriarchal farmer of Rousseau’s imagination. That men will certainly, some day, perfect themselves morally is not, then, a doctrine the anarchists could learn from Rousseau. But he helped to teach them, whether or not this is what he wanted to teach, that man is naturally good and naturally free, and that social institutions, as they now are, are the source of all his corruption. So, for all the violence with which Proudhon elsewhere attacks Rousseau, it is to Rousseau that he turns in order to justify his claim that “man—as Rousseau has told us—is virtuous by nature,” that all man needs in order to act virtuously is to be free.36
Of the peace-loving, individualist, unrevolutionary philosophical anarchists, William Godwin is the outstanding example. No one could be more remote from the popular stereotype of the anarchist as a man of violence. Although his views altered in other respects, he remained firmly committed throughout his life to the basic principle he laid down in his Political Justice: there is only one method of social reform, by gradually improving social institutions in a manner which moves step by step parallel to “the illumination of the public understanding.”37
In the main text of the first edition of Political Justice, Godwin was prepared to concede that new political institutions, along democratic lines, might produce the desired effect on men, by “cherishing in their bosoms a manly sense of dignity, equality and independence.”38 But this, he soon came to feel, was altogether too generous a concession, since “government by its very nature counteracts the improvement of individual intellect.”39 In his later revisions of Political Justice, Godwin set out to expunge from his work all remnants of the Helvetian doctrine that man can be perfected by legislative means. “With what delight,” he wrote, “must every well-informed friend of mankind look forward to the auspicious period, the dissolution of political government, of that brute engine, which has been the only perennial cause of the vices of mankind.”40
It was not by legislation that men were to be perfected, but rather by the unfettered exercise of their reason, its liberation from the restrictions now imposed upon it by government, private property and marriage. Godwin entirely rejects that conception of morality on which the ideal of perfection by legislation rests. The imposition of punishments, he says, cannot moralize a man; nothing arouses Godwin’s indignation to more fervent heights than the penal systems Bentham sought only to make more efficient. A man is not morally improved, in Godwin’s eyes, when, solely in order to avoid judicial penalties, he is coerced into preferring the interests of the community to his own interests. He acts morally only when he is intellectually convinced that, other things being equal, he must prefer the welfare of twenty men to the welfare of one man, it being wholly irrelevant that the “one man” is himself.41
If we ask which is to come first, the liberalization of social institutions or the enlightenment of men’s reason, Godwin’s answer, as we have already seen, is that the two must run parallel. A little more enlightenment and men will begin to liberate themselves from their irrational institutions; that degree of liberation will in turn make them more rational and so on indefinitely to an earthly paradise. For by such a process of gradual, rational improvement, inspired by an enlightened few, men can finally become godlike, not only fearless and courageous, truthful, honest, and intellectually advanced but more than that: “They will perhaps be immortal.” Only then, as immortals in a community of fully adult beings, no longer obliged to act as pupils to their predecessors, no longer subject, as children, to the authority of parents, can Godwin’s society of rational men achieve its full fruition. “Man is a godlike being”—in Godwin the old ambition to be like God re-establishes itself.42
The paradise to come will be, above all, a community of individualists. Godwin’s hostility is particularly directed towards the force and fraud inherent in all government: his ideal is a man who, in any situation, is competent to exercise, in perfect freedom, his own judgement. Indeed, he carries his individualism to grotesque extremes. In Godwin’s paradise, there will be no theatrical performances and no orchestras, since both plays and symphonies necessarily involve “an absurd and vicious co-operation.”43 About the propriety of reading other men’s books, even, he was doubtful. Rousseau had already suggested that society began to decline morally when men were no longer content with what they could create with their own hands. Godwin carries matters much further. “Every thing that is usually understood by the term co-operation,” he goes so far as to suggest, “is, in some degree, an evil.”44 That is his great objection to marriage: it is “a monopoly, and the worst of monopolies,” the source of “despotic and artificial” rights of possession, involving, inevitably, self-deception, the shutting of one’s eyes to realities, the subordination of one’s own rationality to the wishes of another.45 This does not mean that human beings should separate themselves off from one another, retreating to a Syrian desert. But their relationships, in the ideal society of Godwin’s imagining, will be at all points free, at all points rational, and never carried so far as to threaten that individuality which is “of the very essence of intellectual excellence”46 —and, therefore, of moral excellence, too.
Godwin, then, is completely at odds with such of his anarchist successors—Kropotkin, for example—as have sought to substitute a society based on co-operation for a society based on force. The most conspicuous exponents of co-operation in the early nineteenth century were not anarchists; one does not know, indeed, quite how to describe a social reformer like Charles Fourier—“socialist” is as misleading as anarchist. Like the anarchists, and in more formidable detail, he is merciless in his attacks on contemporary civilization. “Civilization,” he wrote, “is . . . a society that is contrary to nature, a reign of violence and cunning.”47 But Fourier was no less critical of classical perfectibilists, who, he says, in their treatises on “perfectible perfectibility” absurdly and monstrously sought to persuade men to govern their lives by reason.48 For Fourier, men’s passions have to be taken as given. “Ferocity, the spirit of conquest, robbery, concupiscence, and many other unsavory passions,” he wrote, “are not vicious in the seed; only in growth are they rendered vicious by the civilization that poisons the mainsprings of the passions, which were all considered useful by God, who created none of them without assigning to it a place and a purpose in the vast harmonious mechanism. As soon as we wish to repress a single passion we are engaged in an act of insurrection against God. By that very act we accuse Him of stupidity in having created it.”49 This comes closer to the popular impression of what Freud said than anything Freud ever wrote, but it is not difficult to discover its roots in the Rousseau of La Nouvelle Héloïse.
Fourier advocated the setting up of a form of social organization, the “phalanx,” so organized that within it the passions of every different kind of man could be satisfied. Whereas classical perfectibilists had hoped to reform men, Fourier sought to reform society, to make of it a form of organization suited to the satisfaction of man as he actually is, as distinct from man as the moralists pretend that he could be. Up till the present, he argues, “in love as in commerce every progress in civilization is nothing more than progress in social hypocrisy.”50 Philosophers—Fourier’s bête noire—who have boasted of “the perfecting of reason” have in fact been boasting of the perfecting of hypocrisy. The destruction of this so-called “progress,” the destruction of hypocrisy, is the first step towards the perfecting of man.
There was no problem, Fourier thought, in “educating educators.” Let but one phalanx be set up, and that would be enough; its immense superiority to existing forms of social organization would at once be apparent; all men would be convinced. Such an experiment, it is sometimes said, has been tried and can be seen to have failed in, for example, Hawthorne’s Brook Farm. But what must rather be questioned is whether Fourier’s experiment could be attempted; men corrupted by hypocrisy cannot so lightly shake off their burden in order to create a brave new phalanx. Into an ideal society they carry with them their accumulated guilt, their anxieties, their corrupted passions.
Fourier is beloved by the surrealists for the exuberance of his imagination; André Breton wrote an Ode in his honour. And certainly a man who could anticipate—along with a good deal else, like air-conditioning, which has turned out to be not so fantastic—a time when the seas would run lemonade, can easily be transformed into a figure of fun. The sexual freedom of his phalanxes, with their readily-available women, carefully matched by an organized system prophetic of “computer-dating,” is no doubt the fantasy, as Manuel suggests, of a frustrated travelling salesman.51 Yet there is a sense, perhaps, in which Fourier is the most humane of all social reformers; he is the least inclined to take as his ideal a society suited only for Man, ideal, rational, godlike Man, as distinct from a society in which human beings as they actually are could live, and breathe freely, in their diverse and complicated ways.*
To return to the anarchists proper, Proudhon is as wary of Fourier’s “association” as he is of any form of government, any legislative act. “I have always regarded Association in general—fraternity—as a doubtful arrangement,” he writes, “which, the same as pleasure, love and many other things, concealed more evil than good under a most seductive aspect.” Indeed—and the hit at Fourier is obvious—“I distrust fraternity as much as I do passion.”52
Contracts, not fraternal relationships, were Proudhon’s ideal, contracts entered into on rational grounds, as distinct either from laws, imposed by force, or fraternal relationships, based on passion rather than reason. He converted laissez-faire economics, indeed, into a universal social policy. Not only economic relationships, but every form of social relationship, should, on his view, be left to the free operation of freely contracting groups and individuals. That is why he could write that in his ideal society “commerce, the concrete form of contract, . . . takes the place of law.”53
Proudhon’s object, he tells us in The Philosophy of Progress, is to strengthen men’s belief in progress while destroying their belief in the Absolute. Indeed the idea of progress, as Proudhon there presents it, is little more than the simple negation of the classical idea of the Absolute, of the metaphysically perfect. “Progress,” he says, “. . . is the affirmation of universal movement, the negation, in consequence, of every immutable form and formula, every doctrine of eternity, irrevocability, impeccability, etc., when applied to any being whatsoever; of all permanent order, even that of the universe; of any subject or object, empirical or transcendental, which does not change.”54 His critics were not slow to point out, however, that perpetual movement is by no means the same thing as progress; the movement might be cyclical, temporary advances being followed by retrogressions.
In the Ninth Study of his immense work On Justice, Proudhon returns, therefore, to this theme, but in a rather different spirit. He now defines Progress as progress in justice, brought about by the free acts of free men. Up till his own time, he admits, society has not exhibited a progressive advance: it has been subject to decline, to retrogression. The explanation of society’s defects—and no less the explanation of the defects of individual men, their sins—is, he says, that actual justice has failed to coincide with men’s ideal of justice. In consequence, men have been led to defy justice, entangled as it is, to take over Pope’s phrase, in the “net of law.”55 Or alternatively, recognizing the defects of legalistic “justice,” they have set up as their ideal something other than justice, some Absolute object, such as God. And every society which takes permanence as its ideal is bound to be unjust; it can sustain itself only by the exercise of force, force directed against the natural tendency to change. In the long run its efforts are bound to be unavailing; its inevitable fate, then, is to decline.
The situation is very different when justice and the ideal coincide. “In a society based on pure right, where justice and liberty are constantly advancing, it implies a contradiction,” according to Proudhon, “for time to bring with it a falling-off at any point.” By the very nature of the case, such a society must progress for ever; every year of virtue adds to its social capital and its productive forces; “the collective being . . . enjoys through justice a perpetual regrowth of health, beauty, genius and honour.” Whereas the age of religion, which is now ending, has been an age of endless struggle, the age to come, the age of justice, will, Proudhon has no doubt, be an age of “universal fraternity, human unity, a general harmony between the powers of man and the forces of the planet.”56
In the end, then, Proudhon is swept away by his own enthusiasm into the very Utopianism he elsewhere attacks so severely; the familiar ideals of unity and fraternity are too much for him, for all his suspicion that they are nothing more than a cloak for tyranny. It is impossible to derive from the writings of Proudhon, in fact, a consistent theory about man’s perfection and its conditions. Occasionally he writes as a Utopian; he regularly asserts that man is infinitely perfectible; he commits himself to the view that progress is inevitable. And yet, at other times, he writes as one convinced that conflict is man’s eternal lot. “Man’s life,” he then suggests, “is a permanent war, war with want, war with nature, war with his fellows, and consequently war with himself. The theory of a peaceful equality, founded on fraternity and sacrifice, is only a counterfeit of the Catholic doctrine of renunciation of the goods and pleasures of this world, the principle of beggary, the panegyric of misery.”57
There is a similar ambiguity in his attitude towards revolution. He had been sufficiently influenced by the German metaphysics of progress to be prepared to write, sometimes, as if a society based on justice must come into being, as if the revolution he advocates must succeed. “Revolution,” he argued in his General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, “is a force against which no power, divine or human, can prevail: whose nature it is to be strengthened and to grow by the very resistance which it encounters.”58 For the most part, however, he exhorts men to action. He tells them that it is only through their active concern, as free men, for justice, that the revolution will come about. Nor does he, generally speaking, expect the revolution to be a violent one. The bourgeoisie are coming to realize, he thinks, the growing weakness of their own position; they can be persuaded that it is better to surrender their present privileges. Reason, then, will lead men to the just society.
As Marxism gained in strength, indeed, Proudhon came to be more and more opposed to the idea of violent revolution. “It is folly and injustice,” he wrote, “to knock the walls of authority with your democratic and socialist battering ram. Turn it rather against the inertia of the masses, against the governmental prejudice which arrests all popular force and let despotism fall by its own uselessness.”59 “Prejudice” is here the key phrase; in the typical Enlightenment manner, Proudhon is suggesting that the task before men is to destroy prejudice rather than to combat authority. Prejudice once destroyed, the Bastille will fall of its own accord.
What is particularly important in Proudhon, for our purposes, is his thorough-going rejection of the idea of perfection through legislation, no less than the idea of perfection through God. “God is stupidity and cowardice; God is hypocrisy and falsehood; God is tyranny and misery; God is evil.”60 God, law and even “fraternity,” understood as a binding force, are all in the same boat; all of them collapse in the face of moral criticism, criticism from the standpoint of freedom and justice—the only things that Proudhon cared deeply about. Man can perfect himself only through the destruction of such idols, which moral criticism proves to be worthless; then he can face the world as a free man in a society governed neither by God nor by man but by the spirit of justice.
Of the anarchists who come nearer than either Godwin or Proudhon to the popular stereotype of the anarchist as an angel of destruction the most influential, perhaps, was Bakunin. He was a revolutionary, but he feared above all the sort of revolution which consists merely in the transfer of power. Like Proudhon before him, he had no doubt that Marxism, just because it thought in terms of a transfer of power, could only lead to tyranny. Acton’s declaration that “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” he, like Proudhon, would have been prepared to nail to his mast-head.
The State, according to Bakunin, is “the most flagrant negation, the most cynical and complete negation of humanity.”61 Or as he also puts it, it is “by its very principle an immense cemetery in which all manifestations of individual and local life . . . come to sacrifice themselves, to die and to be buried.”62 Like theology, it presumes that man is bad by Nature and that it has the task of making him good; the State, indeed, is nothing but a terrestrial Church—“the altar on which the real liberty and the well-being of peoples are immolated to political grandeur.”63 Once power is in the State’s hands it stays there. It is ridiculous to suppose that a dictatorship might deliberately bring about conditions in which its own power would wither away. “No dictatorship can have any other aim but that of self-perpetuation, and it can beget only slavery in the people tolerating it.”64 The only way, therefore, in which men can become free moral beings, the only way of ensuring “the triumph of justice, that is, the complete liberty of everyone in the most perfect equality for all”65 is first to destroy the State, by a revolution which will not be a transfer of power but the abolition of power.
It is interesting that Bakunin should compare the State to a Church; his own thinking is rich in religious metaphor. The French Revolution was, he says, a “Revelation” which brought down to the masses its new Gospel—“not the mystic but the rational, . . . not the divine but the human Gospel, the Gospel of the Rights of Man.”66 And although Bakunin here contrasts the “mysticism” of the old Gospel with the “rationality” of the new Gospel, there is something more than a little mystical in that destructive anarchism into which, especially under the influence of the Russian nihilist Nechaev, he was finally driven.67 Let everything be destroyed—the mystics’ “purgation”—and the spirit will at last be able to work freely. Like the mystic, the revolutionary must rid himself of every sentiment which might attach him to the world as it now is. “All soft and enervating feelings of relationship, friendship, love, gratitude, even honour, must be stifled . . . by a cold passion for the revolutionary cause.” He must concentrate his attention on one thing and one thing only—“merciless destruction.”68
The difference, of course, is that it is to be the spirit of man, not the Holy Ghost, which is to have the way prepared for it by the destruction of society. But why, it is natural to ask, should the new Phoenix, thus born from the ashes of the old, be more glorious than its predecessor? The mystic did not have to demonstrate that a God-infused man would be perfected by God’s entrance into him: that followed from the very definition of God. But only if it be presumed that man is “naturally good” and yet has nevertheless gone hopelessly astray in a manner he will not, given a fresh start, repeat, is there any ground for expecting that the new society which is to arise out of the ashes of the old will be any better than its predecessors. In a reborn society man may well re-forge the chains that bind him. The Christian is confident that after death he will be transfigured. The anarchist, quite as devoutly, but without the aid, however limping, of Revelation, shares the Christian’s faith in the possibility of “making a new start,” of beginning afresh, as if the past could simply be destroyed without persisting to haunt the imagination of the present; or as if, as Pelagius also thought, by a sheer act of will the established network of habit could be wholly destroyed, once and for all. The myth of the fresh start is, indeed, one of the most persistent, if one of the least convincing, of myths; Mr. Micawber may have migrated to Australia but he is still waiting for something to turn up.
There is yet a third variety of modern perfectibilism, flowing neither from Locke nor from Rousseau, perfection by genetic control. This has had a long history; genetic controls were invoked by Plato in his ideal Republic. Christianity, however, did not encourage Platonic Utopianism. It was even less attracted by the idea of genetic controls. If men’s moral improvement is dependent on the exercise of divine grace, then it was impious to suggest that they might, by more careful breeding, improve the moral character of their descendants. In our time, admittedly, the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin has described it as “indispensable” that “a nobly human form of eugenics, on a standard worthy of our personalities, should be discovered and developed.” But this is only one more reason, in the eyes of his critics, for denying that Teilhard’s evolutionary theology is genuinely Christian.69
When, with the Renaissance, the Utopian impulse reasserted itself, the Utopia-makers were soon to be found maintaining, as Campanella did in his City of the Sun, that eugenic controls were, in any ideal society, essential; Campanella’s wise and good rulers “distribute male and female breeders of the best natures according to philosophical [scientific] rules.”70 Among the disciples of La Mettrie, too, Cabanis was a warm advocate of selective breeding. It was not until the nineteenth century, however, that the enthusiasm for eugenics came fully into its own.
The general tendency of nineteenth-century thought had been Pelagian, in the sense that salvation, secular and eternal, was presumed to depend on a man’s own efforts, in accordance with the spirit displayed in Samuel Smiles’ Self-Help. When, in 1869, Francis Galton published his epoch-making Hereditary Genius, Charles Darwin wrote to him to confess that he had “always maintained that, excepting fools, men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work.”71 Galton shook that egalitarian faith. Galton was not content to argue that genius was, in large part, hereditary; he drew practical, social engineering, conclusions from that fact. “There is nothing either in the history of domestic animals or in that of evolution,” he wrote, “to make us doubt that a race of sane men may be formed, who shall be as much superior mentally and morally to the modern European, as the modern European is to the lowest of the Negro races.”72 (Note the association, even in Galton, of eugenics with that racialism which has, in the post-Nazi era, done so much to bring it into disrepute.)
The only question was how that transformation could be brought about. Two methods, in Galton’s time, were commonly suggested: “negative” eugenics sought to breed out defects by, for example, sterilization; “positive eugenics,” in Plato’s manner, sought to improve the human stock by matching males and females in accordance with “philosophical principles.” In the twentieth century, new biological techniques, in part already developed, in part envisaged—such techniques as artificial insemination and the modification of genetic tendencies by physio-chemical means—have encouraged more highly-coloured prospects of eugenic control. So the eugenicist H. J. Muller has been led to maintain that “by working in functional alliance with our genes, we may attain to modes of thought and living that today would seem inconceivably godlike.”73 That now-familiar ambition—to become godlike—can now, if Muller is right, at long last be achieved. Not, however, by philosophical reflection, not by mystical contemplation, but by the manipulation of genes.
Muller’s leading assumption is that the “positive” eugenicist, however he operates, first determines what qualities he wishes to see more widespread or developed to a higher degree, just as a dog-breeder might decide to breed for longer ears, and then selects from amongst the available stock the appropriate parents or the appropriate genes. In sharp contrast, Medawar has argued that a population which is genetically so designed as to strengthen a predetermined characteristic or set of characteristics will tend to die out, to be less “fit” in a purely biological sense, less capable of surviving, than a more heterogeneous population. “There seems no doubt,” he writes, “that some large part of human fitness is vested in a mechanism which provides for a high degree of genetic inequality and inborn diversity, which makes sure that there are plenty of different kinds of human beings.” And he goes on to draw a conclusion highly relevant to our present theme: “This fact,” he says, “sets a limit to any purely theoretical fancies we may care to indulge in about the perfectibility of men.”74 It sets a limit, because if we deliberately try to breed for perfection, we shall breed a population which will die out.
In a way, Medawar’s criticism of genetic perfectibilists is reminiscent of Malthus, of what Malthus argued in his Essay on the Principle of Population, first published in 1798 and intended as a reply to the perfectibilist hopes of Godwin. Malthus was a clergyman, horrified at the suggestion that men might perfect themselves or their society by their own efforts, without supernatural aid. If men try to improve society, he argued, they can do so only by weakening the natural checks on population growth, such checks as poverty, disease, war, plague, and famine. Population growth will then outstrip the means of subsistence: a society which weakens these natural checks will inevitably die out. So, one might say, the penalty for hubris, for trying to make man’s condition godlike, is death. And that is true whether the hubris takes the form of social revolution or of genetic control.
In 1911 Galton wrote a Utopia, under the not very enticing name of Kantsaywhere; it was rejected by his publisher and Galton decided to destroy the manuscript. By chance, however, it has been in part preserved. It is a somewhat remarkable Utopia, as the remaining fragments make clear, in which, for example, only those who receive sufficiently high marks at public examinations are permitted to marry. Those who fail their examinations have the option of emigrating, or living under a constant surveillance designed to ensure that they do not propagate their kind.75 Such an unbounded faith in examinations may strike us as being more than a little pathetic, but Galton’s Kantsaywhere enables us to see, at least, what a rigorously controlled society a eugenic Utopia would have to be. Inevitably, eugenic controls can only be imposed within an authoritarian society.
For the most part, therefore, modern eugenicists allot an important but nevertheless only a subsidiary role to eugenics. It is to be only one method of social control. This comes out very clearly in Frederick Osborn’s Preface to Eugenics, first published in 1940, when the Nazi example had made more obvious the dangers of eugenic policies. The first task, Osborn suggests, is the general improvement of the environment. Only after that has been achieved should positive steps be taken to encourage births amongst those who have shown themselves capable of responding to the stimulus of improved environment and to discourage births amongst those who have shown that they cannot respond to environmental improvements.76 Thus the effects of environment can be fully allowed for before the eugenicist embarks upon his task.
The implication, nevertheless, is that however extensively the environment is improved, eugenic measures will still be necessary. That view has been challenged in the Soviet Union. The biological battle of the 1940’s in which Michurin and Lysenko set out to destroy “bourgeois genetics” turns around the question whether the environment is, in this respect, the decisive factor. Michurin and Lysenko are in the Locke-Hartley tradition; environmental differences, in their eyes, are all-important. No doubt, they admit, there are, at the present stage of human history, genetic differences between men. These differences can be destroyed, they nevertheless maintain, by suitable modifications of the environment. “Pseudo-scientific formal genetics,” according to E. M. Chekmenev, “is used by the ruling classes of capitalist countries to prop up their metaphysical and idealistic notions.”77 For to suppose otherwise would be to set limits to the perfectibility of individual men under communism, limits set by their genetic constitution.
The great problem, in any case, remains: who shall do the controlling? As Rousseau pointed out and as we have all come more and more to recognize, men may be degraded by the same means which could be used to elevate them. Let us assume that conditioning, education, genetic controls are as effective as their proponents maintain. Then men may be conditioned to be indifferent to suffering; they may be so educated that they spontaneously submit to tyranny; they may be bred to conform, as helots, to the commands of their masters.
If we are to see in the idea of perfecting by social action ground for hope about the future, rather than for despair, we need to have some good reason for believing that the perfecting mechanisms will be employed in the interests of freedom rather than in the interests of absolute authority. Without that ground for hope, Marx’s question “Who shall educate the educators?”, a question which can be extended to “Who shall reform the reformers?”, remains unanswerable. It is one thing to say that the mechanisms for perfecting men are now at our disposal; it is quite another thing to say that they will in fact be used in order to perfect men. This is what the anarchists pointed out. But they themselves rely upon what one can only regard as myths: the myth of man’s natural goodness, the myth of rebirth. Perfection is no more to be expected from the destruction of existing social institutions than from their extension and their strengthening. The chains which men bear they have imposed upon themselves; strike them off, and they will weep for their lost security.
[1. ]Émile, trans. Barbara Foxley, Everyman’s Library (London, 1911; repr. 1918), p. 17.
[2. ]Karl Marx: “Theses on Feuerbach” in Writings of the Young Marx on Philosophy and Society, ed. L. D. Easton and K. H. Guddat (New York, 1907), p. 401.
[3. ]B. F. Skinner: Walden Two, pp. 249–50.
[4. ]C. A. Helvetius: De l’Homme et de son éducation, Introduction, ch. II, in Oeuvres, 5 vols (Paris, l’an II , Vol. 3, p. 11).
[5. ]De l’Esprit, Discourse III, ch. I, in Oeuvres, Vol. 1, p. 346.
[6. ]De l’Homme et de son éducation, Section VII, ch. XII, in Oeuvres, Vol. 4, p. 235.
[7. ]De l’Esprit, Discourse II, ch. XVII, in Oeuvres, Vol. 1, p. 249.
[8. ]Anonymous: “Essai sur la vie et les ouvrages d’Helvetius” in Oeuvres, Vol. 1, pp. 30–31.
[9. ]De l’Homme et de son éducation, Préface, in Oeuvres, Vol. 3, p. 7.
[10. ]D. Diderot: Réfutation suivie de l’ouvrage d’Helvetius intitulé L’Homme. This was written between 1773 and 1774 although not published until 1875, in Oeuvres complètes, ed. J. Assézat, 20 vols (Paris, 1875–77), Vol. 2.
[11. ]The Old Régime and the French Revolution, Bk. III, ch. 1, as trans. Stuart Gilbert (New York, 1955), p. 140.
[12. ]See Diderot’s Essai sur les règnes de Claude et de Néron, Bk. II, Des Lettres de Senéque, XXXVI (1778–82), in Oeuvres complètes, ed. Assézat, Vol. 3, p. 263; D’Alembert’s article “Multitude” in the Encyclopédie, cf. Oeuvres complètes de Diderot, ed. Assézat, Vol. 16, p. 137; Condillac: Cours d’études pour l’instruction du Prince de Parme: l’Histoire ancienne, Bk. IV, section 3, Des Lois, ch. XVI, in Oeuvres philosophiques, ed. Georges Le Roy, 3 vols (Paris, 1948), Vol. 2, p. 126.
[13. ]An Essay on the First Principles of Government, 2nd ed. (London, 1771), §1, p. 1, excerpted in Priestley’s Writings, ed. Passmore, pp. 197–98.
[* ]In his Autobiography (Ch. V), J. S. Mill describes the depths of melancholy to which he was reduced when it suddenly occurred to him that since musical combinations are limited in number, music would sooner or later come to a standstill. To be so concerned about the possible exhaustion of music in the future as to lose all capacity to enjoy Mozart in the present is an attitude of mind only too characteristic of anxiety-ridden perfectibilists. But once it is admitted that whole spheres of human life, by their very nature, can permit only limited prospects for improvement, the suspicion is naturally aroused that this might be true more generally—that human activity, in virtue of its very finiteness, is bound eventually to exhaust its capacity for improvement.
[14. ]Essay on the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation, ch. 5, §2, first publ. in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed. John Bowring (Edinburgh, 1843), Vol. I, p. 194.
[15. ]F. N. Babeuf: Defence at his trial at Vendôme, 1797, quoted in A. Fried and R. Sanders, eds.: Socialist Thought: A Documentary History (Edinburgh, 1964), ch. II, §4, p. 68.
[16. ]Helvetius: De l’Esprit, Discourse III, ch. XV, in Oeuvres, Vol. 2, pp. 66–74.
[17. ]Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation, ch. XV, in Works, Vol. I, p. 83.
[18. ]Essay on the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation, ch. 5, §2, in Works, Vol. I, p. 194.
[19. ]Principles of Penal Law, Pt. III, ch. XX, in Works, Vol. I, p. 569.
[20. ]J. S. Mill: Autobiography, 3rd ed. (London, 1874), ch. IV, p. 108.
[21. ]James Mill: Analysis of the Phenomena of the Human Mind (1829), ch. XXI, Section II, Subsection II; in the ed. by J. S. Mill, 2 vols (London, 1869), Vol. 2, pp. 214–30.
[22. ]Deontology, ed. J. Bowring, 2 vols (London, 1834), Vol. 1, p. 101, as quoted in Elie Halévy: The Growth of Philosophic Radicalism, trans. M. Morris (London, 1928; new ed., 1934), p. 471.
[23. ]Autobiography, ed. cit., ch. III, p. 67.
[24. ]For Wallas on Bentham see his Men and Ideas (London, 1940), pp. 19–48. Of course, the Fabians were also, and importantly, influenced by Comte, by Marx, by Ruskin. See A. M. McBriar: Fabian Socialism and English Politics, 1884–1918 (Cambridge, 1962).
[25. ]D. J. Manning: The Mind of Jeremy Bentham (London, 1968), p. 97.
[26. ]Sidney Webb: “The History of Socialism” in Fabian Essays, ed. G. B. Shaw, Jubilee ed. (London, 1948), p. 57, as quoted in Anne Fremantle: This Little Band of Prophets (London, 1960), p. 82.
[27. ]Peter Kropotkin: “Law and Authority” in Kropotkin’s Revolutionary Pamphlets, ed. Roger N. Baldwin (New York, 1927; repr. 1968), pp. 196–97.
[28. ]See, for example, J. L. Talmon: The Origins of Totalitarian Democracy (London, 1952). The recent literature on Rousseau is for the most part designed to prove that he was a great deal more consistent, more sensible and more coherent than either his disciples or his critics have commonly believed. It is summed up in Peter Gay: The Party of Humanity (New York, 1964), Pt. III, ch. 8. The new Rousseau is succinctly described in Ronald Grimsley’s article “Jean-Jacques Rousseau,” in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Vol. 7. For references to Rousseau’s criticism of Helvetius see Joan McDonald: Rousseau and the French Revolution, 1762–1791, University of London Historical Studies, XVII (London, 1965), p. 35, n. 1.
[29. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Bk. V, ch. 15; ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, pp. 129–30.
[30. ]P. J. Proudhon: General Idea of the Revolution in the Nineteenth Century, trans. J. B. Robinson (London, 1923), pp. 120–21.
[31. ]The Social Contract and Discourses, trans. with introd. by G. D. H. Cole, Everyman’s Library (London, 1913; repr. 1938), p. 207.
[32. ]Rousseau: Discourse on the Moral Effects of the Arts and Sciences in The Social Contract and Discourses, trans. Cole, p. 145.
[33. ]Rousseau: Julie, ou La Nouvelle Héloïse (1761), Cinquième Partie, Lettre III. Julie is represented as expressing the ideas of her philosophical husband M. de Wolmar, but Rousseau’s own note shows that at this point he is in agreement with them. Another note, which Rousseau at one time proposed to add, makes it clear that he thinks of these observations as a refutation of Helvetius. See Oeuvres complètes de Jean-Jacques Rousseau, ed. Bernard Gagnebin and Marcel Raymond, Vol. II (Paris, 1961), pp. 563 and 1672(d).
[34. ]Education Through Art, 3rd rev. ed. (London, 1958; paperback repr. 1961), pp. 6–7.
[35. ]Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of the Inequality of Mankind, in The Social Contract and Discourses, trans. Cole, p. 185.
[36. ]P. J. Proudhon: De la Justice dans la révolution et dans l’église, Neuvième étude, Préambule; in the 4 vols ed. by C. Bouglé and J.-L. Puech (Paris, 1930–35), which is part of the unnumbered set Oeuvres complètes, nouvelle éd. (Paris, 1923–), this may be found in Vol. III, p. 483.
[37. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Bk. IV, ch. 2; ed. Priestley, Vol. 1, p. 273. Compare on this theme David Fleisher: William Godwin: A Study in Liberalism (London, 1951), pp. 84–85, 126–31.
[38. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, 1st ed. (London, 1793); ed. Priestley, Vol. 3, p. 144.
[39. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Preface to 3rd ed.; in Priestley, Vol. 1, p. viii.
[40. ]Ibid., Bk. V, ch. 24; ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, p. 212.
[41. ]Ibid., Bk. II, ch. 6; ed. Priestley, Vol. 1, pp. 172–73.
[42. ]Thoughts on Man, p. 9.
[43. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Bk. VIII, ch. 8; ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, p. 504.
[44. ]Ibid., Bk. VIII, ch. 8; ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, p. 501. For a fuller discussion of this topic see B. R. Pollin: Education and Enlightenment in the Works of William Godwin (New York, 1962), pp. 83–90.
[45. ]Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Bk. VIII, ch. 8, ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, p. 508.
[46. ]Ibid., Bk. VIII, ch. 8; ed. Priestley, Vol. 2, p. 500.
[47. ]Charles Fourier, quoted in F. E. Manuel: The Prophets of Paris (Cambridge, Mass., 1962), p. 215, from unpubl. papers. Manuel should be consulted generally on Fourier.
[48. ]Théorie de l’unité universelle (1822), in Oeuvres complètes, 6 vols (Paris, 1841–45), Vol. 5, pp. 153–63, excerpted in Charles Fourier: L’Attraction passionnée: textes choisis par René Schérer, Coll. Libertés 56 (Paris, 1967), p. 185. The original title of Fourier’s work was Traité de l’association domestique-agricole, ou Attraction industrielle.
[49. ]F. E. Manuel: The Prophets of Paris, p. 235, quoting from Fourier’s unpubl. mss.
[50. ]Fourier: Publication des manuscrits, 4 vols, 1851–58, excerpted by R. Schérer, op. cit., p. 199.
[51. ]F. E. Manuel: The Prophets of Paris, p. 225.
[* ]One of the nicest things about Fourier is his attitude to women, whom he seems genuinely to like, to care for, and to seek to emancipate. This attitude comes as a particular relief after a prolonged reading of Christian perfectibilists, for so many of whom woman has the choice of being the Virgin Mary or Mary Magdalene—unreformed. One begins to sympathize with Oliver Gogarty’s comment on Ireland: “It’s high time the people of this country found some other way of loving God than by hating women.”
[52. ]General Idea of the Revolution, trans. Robinson, p. 79.
[53. ]Ibid., p. 244.
[54. ]Philosophie du progrès, ed. Th. Ruyssen in Oeuvres complètes, nouvelle éd. (Paris, 1946), pp. 49–50.
[55. ]Pope: Essay on Man, Epistle III, line 192.
[56. ]P. J. Proudhon: De la Justice, Neuvième étude: Progrès et décadence, ch. IV; ed. cit., Vol. III, pp. 541–42.
[57. ]Système des contradictions économiques (1846), trans. as Economic Contradictions by B. R. Tucker (Boston, Mass., 1888), Vol. 1, pp. 234 f., and quoted in Atindranath Bose: A History of Anarchism (Calcutta, 1967), p. 125.
[58. ]General Idea of the Revolution, trans. Robinson, p. 15.
[59. ]Les Confessions d’un révolutionnaire (1849), as trans. in A. Bose: A History of Anarchism, p. 139.
[60. ]Système des contradictions économiques, trans. Tucker, Vol. 1, p. 450 and quoted in Bose: A History of Anarchism, p. 140.
[61. ]Bakunin’s works are numerous and scattered. My references are mostly to The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, comp. and ed. G. P. Maximoff (Glencoe, Ill., 1953; paperback ed., 1964). The quotation is on p. 138.
[62. ]From a series of articles written in 1869 for the journal Le Progrès, Geneva, trans. in A. Fried and R. Sanders, eds.: Socialist Thought, ch. VII, §2, p. 343.
[63. ]The Political Philosophy of Bakunin, ed. Maximoff, p. 208.
[64. ]Ibid., p. 288.
[65. ]Ibid., p. 155.
[66. ]Ibid., p. 192.
[67. ]For Nechaev one cannot do better than read Dostoievsky’s The Possessed, where Nechaev appears as Verkhovensky. See also Bazarov in Turgenev’s Fathers and Sons. For a straightforward account of nihilism see A. Bose: A History of Anarchism, pp. 221–47.
[68. ]M. Bakunin and S. G. Nechaev: Revolutionary Catechism, as quoted in E. H. Carr: Michael Bakunin (London, 1937), p. 380.
[69. ]The Phenomenon of Man, trans. B. Wall and others (London, 1959; repr. 1960), pp. 282–83. See the highly adverse criticism of this passage in Thomas Molnar: Utopia—the Perennial Heresy (New York, 1967), p. 128.
[70. ]Campanella: Civitas Solis (1623), trans. as City of the Sun in Famous Utopias, introd. Charles M. Andrews (New York, 1937), p. 292.
[71. ]Charles Darwin: Letter to Francis Galton, in Karl Pearson: Life of Francis Galton, 3 vols in 4 (Cambridge, 1914–30), Vol. I, p. 6.
[72. ]Francis Galton: Hereditary Genius, 2nd ed. (London, 1892), Prefatory chapter, p. x.
[73. ]H. J. Muller: “Man’s Place in the Living Universe,” an address at Indiana University, in Indiana Univ. Publs., 1956, p. 24; quoted in Paul Ramsey: “Moral and Religious Implications of Genetic Control” in Genetics and the Future of Man, Nobel Conference Discussion, 1965, ed. J. D. Roslansky (Amsterdam, 1966), p. 127 n.
[74. ]P. B. Medawar: The Future of Man, Reith Lectures (London, 1960), p. 53.
[75. ]Compare Karl Pearson: Life of Francis Galton, Vol. IIIa, pp. 411–25.
[76. ]Frederick Osborn: Preface to Eugenics, rev. ed. (New York, 1951), pp. 241–42.
[77. ]C. P. Blacker: Eugenics—Galton and After (London, 1952), p. 276, quoting from Situation in Biological Science: Proceedings of the Lenin Academy of Agricultural Sciences of the U.S.S.R., July–August, 1948. Complete stenographic report [reports by T. D. Lysenko and others] (Moscow, 1949; distrib. Collets, London), p. 279.