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AUTHOR’S PREFACE TO THE FIRST FRENCH EDITION. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
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AUTHOR’S PREFACE TO THE FIRST FRENCH EDITION.
What is freedom of labour? It is the substitution of voluntary for servile labour; it is the right of each man to employ or not to employ his muscular or intellectual strength as he pleases; it is the placing of his own destiny, and that of those dependent on him, in his own hands; it is the enlargement of responsibility and the sphere of action. Are not these the two great factors of individual progress? What is social progress if not the sum total of individual acts of progression?
This is why I have never ceased from opposing the passions and errors of Socialists who, whatever name they may take, wish to create a labour monopoly in the hands of corporations; why I have resisted all prohibitions, restrictions, limitations of the hours of work, and the ideal of inertia—a kind of social Nirvana—which Socialists hold up as the supreme goal of humanity.
Referring to the speech delivered by Gambetta, at Havre on April 18th, 1872, in which he said, “Believe me, there is no social remedy, because there is no social question,” M. Louis Blanc asserted that there was a Social Question, I answered him in two articles in the Radical,1 of which I quote the following passage:—
“Yes, M. Louis Blanc is a Utopian, because he thinks that the complex relations of things can be railed in by simple formulas. He applies the subjective method to social science. He lays down an à priori proposition, and argues from this without dreaming that the first thing to be demonstrated is the accuracy of the starting-point.
“In this regard, M. Louis Blanc is a priest. He believes in a social miracle. He believes in a political pontificate. He belongs to the school of Rousseau, to that school of government which substitutes a social theocracy for a monarchy by right divine. . . .
“When M. Louis Blanc declares that a Republic is not an end but a means, he does not, as we do, look upon the Republic as a means of enlarging the powers of the individual by removing his fetters. He understands it to mean, on the contrary, that, if he has the power, he will seize upon the individual, subject him to his will, and shut him up in his à priori system. And he makes of this government a universal motor, absorbing the individual in its activity, ‘a supreme regulator of production’—producer, distributor, consumer—‘invested with great power for the accomplishment of its task.’
“As for ourselves, we do not dream of happiness as in Paraguay under the dominion of the Jesuits. We believe more in Man than in the social entity called the State; and we shall continue to do so, so long as you cannot show us a nation which is not made up of individuals, and a collective happiness formed of individual sorrows.
“Until then we shall reject your system, as we do not, like Rousseau, admire ‘the fathers of the nations who were obliged to have recourse to heavenly intervention, in order that people should freely obey, and bear the yoke of public happiness with meekness.’
“Doubtless, it is easy to construct a system without taking into account the complex questions which present themselves, and then to declare that, according to this system, it is all right.
“M. Louis Blanc, however, saw that this would not altogether do. About 1840, he, like others, had constructed his system. First, we have superb declamations—splendid pictures of the misery and ills of society. Then he sets all things in order. The State—a perfect being, a providence, a beneficent god—intervenes, enters an office, and sets individuals going like marionettes. It was that fairy land where everything can be had for the wishing.
“In 1848, M. Louis Blanc was one of the members of the Provisional Government. What did he do? What new idea did he introduce? He continued to work at his book on l’Organisation du Travail. He ought then to have seen that humanity is not a clock, and that the human ideal is not the discipline of a convent.”
In that same year I closed the introduction to l’Histoire des Prolétaires by saying that the object of these essays was to follow the efforts made by the proletariat
“to achieve the conquest of that freedom of labour recognised in the Declaration of the Rights of Man, but which, in our social organisation, had remained an aspiration instead of becoming a reality.
“The last word rests with science and intellect. It is by the observation of the natural and artificial relations of labour and capital; it is by constant experiments, tried with prudence, wisely conducted, and perseveringly applied, that industrial society will, at last, become healthily constituted. Bacon said, ‘We triumph over Nature only by obeying her laws.’ It is by separating the laws of social science from the prejudices which obscure it that the workman will attain the plenitude of his rights.”
I have not changed my methods. I am still of opinion that it is by the study and observation of the laws of social science that humanity can achieve progress. Neither the declamations of revolutionary Socialists, nor the pretensions of their opportunist brethren, nor dynamite explosions, have modified my ideas, which were strengthened at that period by the lamentable spectacle of the men and events of the Commune. I hold that anything which recalls or prepares the way for a similar occurrence cannot be more useful to workmen in the future than that odious frenzy was in the past.
At the Municipal Council, I have opposed the attempts to introduce Municipal Socialism—such as the establishment of the Table of Prices of the City of Paris, in 1882. In 1884, I procured the rejection of the first proposal brought forward for the subsidising of strikes. I thwarted the Anarchists who, on March 11th, 1883, wanted to carry off a gathering of masons to one of Louise Michel’s manifestations; and who bore witness to the sentiments with which they regarded me by assailing me with American knuckledusters, and a variety of other weapons.
It did not need such striking testimony to prove that there has always been between the Socialists and me some incompatibility of temper.
In 1881, in M. Clémenceau’s journal, la Justice, M. Longuet, a son-in-law of Karl Marx, opposed my candidature for the Chamber of Deputies, giving as the chief argument against me, my opposition to legal restrictions on female labour. In 1885, the Central Committee, organised by M. Maujan, took up the same attitude towards me, because I had brought about the refusal of the proposed subsidy to the Anzin strikers.
In l’Intransigeant, M. Rochefort bestowed upon me, every morning, epithets as charming for their variety as they were admirable for their good taste.
But my convictions were not to be altered by such proceedings or such arguments. Like Cobden, I consider that to grant to the Government the right to regulate the hours of labour is to lay down the principle of a return to the past. One recollects with what energy John Morley, now a member of Mr. Gladstone’s Cabinet, when a candidate for Newcastle, in 1892, declared that he would rather not be elected than make this concession. These are examples of courage which may well provoke reflection in certain French Deputies who allow themselves to be too easily swept along by the current, without even sounding its depths or measuring its strength.
The necessity for defending individual liberty against pretended protective legislation for labour, and against the despotism of certain associations or syndicates, is everywhere felt. Mr. George Howell, M.P., at one time a working man, and formerly one of the ablest of the Trades Union officials, a man whom the Socialists cannot accuse of being a bourgeois,1 in his book entitled Trades Unionism, New and Old, in 1892, protested against the tyrannic spirit which was being introduced into the strikes of the dockers and the gas workers with regard to non-union men: and to what conclusion did he come? That there existed a necessity for a law to insure freedom of labour! It is because he maintained the same thesis that Mr. Broadhurst, also a working man, had to give in his resignation of the secretaryship of the Trades Union Congress, a post he had filled for fourteen years, and that, at the last general election, he was defeated at Nottingham. Are these men renegades? Are they not far-seeing men, who wish to save their country and their friends from the most odious of tyrannies?
The same protestations make themselves heard in the United States. One of their most eminent public men, Mr. George Ticknor Curtis, also protests in the name of individual liberty, that the American had emancipated the black race from slavery, but that it was necessary to rescue certain branches of our own race from a slavery which is no better—that a man should not be allowed to part with his right to life or liberty.1
Mr. Oates, President of the Commission of Inquiry of the United States Congress into the Homestead strike, recalls the fact that the laws of the United States had consecrated the right of every man to work upon the conditions agreed upon with his employer, whether he belonged or not to any labour organisation, and the right of every person and of every society to employ any workman whatsoever, at any work authorised by the law; and that in that free country, these rights should not be disputed or restricted, upon pain of destroying that personal liberty which is the honour and glory of American citizens. He rejected compulsory arbitration, by virtue of the principle that no authority whatsoever should impose a contract upon a person who declines to accept it.
Finally, Mr. Cleveland, President of the United States, said, in a recent Message to Congress, that the lessons of Paternalism must be unlearnt, that the people should learn that they ought to be the patriotic and ready support of the Government, instead of the Government supporting the people.
These are the terms in which eminent men of different nationalities and differently situated, raise their voices against the tyrannical pretensions of the Socialists of the present day. By their agitations, the space which they occupy in parliamentary discussion and in those of some of the Municipal Councils, and the sheep-like meekness with which certain politicians follow them in France, they give the impression of having a strength which they do not really possess. By their dogmatic assertions and subtle sophistries, they appear in the eyes of the simple and the ignorant, as messiahs, or apostles of a peculiarly attractive kind, as their gospel appertains to the present life.
While waiting for the practical monopolies of which they are desirous of becoming possessed, they arrogate to themselves the monopoly of representing “the working classes.” Thus, here are the terms in which M. Lavy interrupted my speech of May 8th, 1893, upon registry offices:—
M. Lavy.—That squares with the affirmations you have formulated against the working class from end to end of your speech. I see that you despise and hate it.
M. YvesGuyot.—Allow me to inform you, Monsieur Lavy, that I do not consider that the expression “working class” is suited to the vocabulary of which we should make use. (Hear! hear! from many benches.) We no longer take cognisance of any working classes, any more than we recognise aristocratic classes. (Very good! very good!) And what of ourselves and our origin? How do we live? Do you suppose that we have not all of us some connections with working men, either amongst our relations or amongst our ancestors! Do not most of us work in some way or other? What are these radical distinctions which you wish to draw between those who do, and those who do not work? (Hear! hear!—Applause from the Left and the Centre.) You asserted, M. Lavy, that I hated and despised the working classes. Why should I despise them? Can you tell me?
M. Lavy.—I know nothing about it.
M. YvesGuyot.—What are the motives which could have led to this hatred and contempt,—now that I have passed the best years of my life in close study of the economic questions which concern the advancement of working men? (Hear! hear!) It is true that I have studied them from the scientific point of view, and have done this precisely because I wanted to try to set what you call the working classes free from the prejudices which you breathe upon them, to set them free from unfortunate and inauspicious influences—(Repeated applause.)
M. Lavy.—But you have not set them free from misery.
M. YvesGuyot.—with which men, who have never studied this question from a disinterested point of view, try to puff them up so as to lead them on to adventures of which, unhappily, the memory still hovers over our history. (Hear! hear!)
And why was I accused of “hatred and contempt” towards workmen? Because I denounced in the tribune the actions of the Bourse du Travail. The events which have since taken place have proved that there are always some men there who would like to force us into such adventures as those which, in the past, are known as “the days of June” (1848), and of the Commune. On May 28, 1893, the Committee of the Labour Exchange (Bourse du Travail) solemnly closed its doors in sign of mourning, and sent a crown “to the heroes” of the Commune. In the journal which is the mouthpiece of this institution, may be seen, not only repeated calls to social war, but strategetic plans for civil war! The Minister of the Interior having, with forbearance, granted a delay of more than one month to those syndicates not legally constituted, that they might rectify their position at least as regards the law of March 21st, 1884, was denounced as a traitor to the people and to the republic.
At the moment of writing these lines, I learn that he closed the Labour Exchange in July last, taking the necessary precautions against the threats of an insurrection. Are not these precautions proof of the imprudence committed in allowing an organisation to be constituted without its object being clearly defined, and without control, and meeting in a municipal palace?—an organisation whose representatives considered that the best way in which to protect the interests of working men was to prepare a social war.
6th July, 1893.
25th and 29th April, 1872.
I doubt it. M. Guyot has here not appraised sufficiently highly the power of accusation of the more reckless Socialists.—Ed.
North American Review, 1892.