Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER II.: ON THE LIMITS OF COLLECTIVIST SOCIETY. - The Tyranny of Socialism
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER II.: ON THE LIMITS OF COLLECTIVIST SOCIETY. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ON THE LIMITS OF COLLECTIVIST SOCIETY.
Society—What is it?—Does it Include all Mankind?—To what Groups do the Programmes of the Collectivists apply?
The Gotha Programme says: “As labour which is profitable to all is only made possible by society, the general produce of labour should belong to society, that is to say, to all of its members, all being under an obligation to work.”
Society? but what constitutes society? What is this society? Does it include all mankind? According to the Socialist formula one ought to believe so: “The enfranchisement of labour necessitates the transmission of the implements of labour of the whole of society . . .” The whole of society, be it understood; and, in fact, we must deal with the whole of society, because otherwise some will be disinherited of their share of the common good—there will be some privileged and some plundered.
But, then this organisation will encompass the wandering Mongol of the Gobi desert, the inhabitants of Terra del Fuego, the Touareg of the Sahara, the negroes of Central Africa, and the Papuans of New Guinea. All these will have their share in the distribution of “the general produce of labour.”
If the Socialist pretends that I make him talk absurdities, I answer that I have put to his account only that which I have borrowed from him, and that the logical interpretation of his text is really that which I give it. I grant that the ambition of the Gotha Socialists may be more modest, and that they used the word “Society” only out of hypocrisy, so as not to make use of the word “State.” But I put this question to them: What is this “Society” of which you speak? Is it a geographical and political expression used to designate a group of human beings, whose members and positions on the map of the world have been determined by the fortunes of war? Is Germany a homogeneous society to your Collectivist apprehension, in spite of the particularist traditions of its provinces? Are you going to construct a Collectivist society in Austria, with its Germans, Hungarians, Tchechs, and Poles? Will Denmark constitute a Collectivist society? And Russia, along the vast extent of her frontiers, from the Behring Straits to the Baltic, should she too undertake “to impose his task upon each of her 113 millions of inhabitants,” and to give him afterwards “a sufficient portion for the satisfaction of his reasonable needs.”
This problem, which the Socialists of Gotha and Erfurt, as well as those of France, abstain from tackling, is, however, worth the trouble of considering; because, though Communism is possible for a convent, it becomes quite another question when it is a case of applying it to millions and millions of beings, having neither the same degree of civilisation, nor the same habits, nor the same ideas of life.
In passing, we point out these slight difficulties, but we are well aware that they will not arrest the fanatics of Collectivism.