Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV.: SOCIAL WAR. - The Tyranny of Socialism
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
CHAPTER IV.: SOCIAL WAR. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
“Private Explosion—Revolutionary Anarchists and Collectivists—The Vanguard System—The Dynamite Theory—The Carcassonne Resolution—The Road to the Social Paradise—Evoking “the Days of June” and of the Commune—Contempt for Native Land—War of Classes—The Bourgeois—No Danger of Social War—If there are no Accomplices.
I know that the National Council of the Collectivist Party, or, to speak more accurately, M. Jules Guesde and his friends, tried to disclaim any part in the attack in the Rue des Bons-Enfants, by saying: “For the fifth time in one year dynamite has been disgraced by a private explosion.” Would dynamite then be honoured by a public explosion? If they endeavour to equivocate, when events of the nature of the explosions in the Boulevard Saint Germain, in the Rue de Berlin, in the Véry Restaurant, and in the Rue des Bons-Enfants, excite too violent a condemnation, they forget the theories which they have instilled into those who carry them out, by, for instance, the personal threats of assassination and execution launched against certain persons mentioned by name at the meeting at the Château d’Eau on 3rd June, 1886, in celebration of the high achievements of the Decazeville strikers. If they repudiate the results of their teachings, as understood by Duval, who robbed Mme. Lemoire’s mansion; if their associate, Martinet, seemed to them to compromise them because of his nine years’ imprisonment for theft, there are nevertheless gatherings where people cry: “Long live theft! Long live assassination!” And they do not repudiate them. They have so influenced certain groups of the population of Paris, that on May 1st, 1892, three thousand people assembled together in the Salle Favie, applauded Citizen Chausse, who is now a municipal councillor, for calling dynamite a “vanguard system.”
M. Gabriel Deville, one of the theorists of Marxite Socialism, quietly published the following phrase, which he had meditated upon at leisure: “Dynamite and other similar methods of persuasion are the indispensable instruments for bringing refractory contemporary society to support the Communistic solution of the problem.”1
And some days after the explosion in the Rue des Bons-Enfants, M. Baudin said at a meeting at Carcassonne: “When necessary, we must employ science against reaction and opportunism, more skilfully than the Anarchists have done.” We are well aware that the employment of a euphemism, in the town that has the honour of having M. Ferroul for its Deputy, is of no importance. But if a man like M. Baudin makes use of them, it is because he knows how to excite enthusiasm; and, as a matter of fact, there are men who look upon Social Revolution as a kind of fairyland. Prince Kropotkine, in his Paroles d’un Revolté, writes of civil war, massacres, and the catastrophes of war, by which the proletariat will “joyously seize upon private property, for the common good,” with a zest akin to the infatuation of spiritualism. And, as is proved by the anniversaries of the 28th May, some, labouring under hallucinations, catch glimpses of a social paradise, across the memories of blood and flame of the “days of June,”1 and of the Commune; and in their dreams they follow those who promise them that these orgies of carnage and destruction shall recommence.
Unhappy souls! If they were not victims of one of those epidemics of folly which dazzle crowds, they would recollect that there have never been darker days for the cause which they wish to defend. Did the stones of the barricades change into four pound loaves for those who fought in “the days of June? The Commune has left a memory of a destructive frenzy, all the more odious because it set fire to Paris under the very eyes of the Prussians. And when Socialists of every shade go on pilgrimage each year to proclaim, as they unfurl the red flag, that it is by such inauspicious lights as these that they illumine the social question, all of us, in the name of labour, in the name of social peace, in the name of France, should spurn all contact with them with indignant anger—anger all the more hot because we saw these men gather eagerly round Liebknecht at the Congress of Marseilles.
It was he who, on the 28th of November, 1888, and the 18th of October, 1890, in his own name, and in those of his friends, declared that, “they had determined not to let their native land of Germany be curtailed;” and M. Bebel made it more precise by affirming that “he would never sanction the surrendering, by Germany, of Alsace and Lorraine to France! . . . ” After this M. Liebknecht presented himself at Marseilles as an apostle of peace! Provided that the French respect accomplished facts, M. Liebknecht will not attack France; and the revolutionary Socialists exclaim: What grandeur of soul!
And from their point of view they are justified; because they have already declared that they despise the idea of a fatherland. These people wish to establish their own liberty in contempt of national independence, without reflecting in their blindness, that of all despotisms, the most brutal and implacable is that of the conqueror over the conquered!1
These good apostles wish to reserve all their strength for the social war. They are quite ready to fraternise with those across the frontier; but they will never forgive the peasant of yesterday, who, through labour and economy, has been able to become a proprietor, the jobber, or the workman who has become an employer, the sons of all this proletariat, who by their intelligence and energy, with money earned by competition, have been able to become engineers, tradesmen, manufacturers, and merchants; for they are bourgeois, and, as such, criminals! It is against these that they harbour all their energy and all their rancour.
What logic, and what ethics!
These declamations, excitements, attractions may intoxicate those who traffic in them, and turn the brains of the feeble; but the contagion does not spread far. On the 28th of May, eight thousand people came together at Père-Lachaise, amongst whom there was a certain number of waverers, doubters, ne’er-do-weels, and miserable creatures, as unfit for revolutions as for work. Here, then, in greatest numbers, is assembled the revolutionary strength of Paris. The great majority of working-men know perfectly well that they must seek their maintenance in work, and that it is not riots which will provide for them. They have wives and children; they are concerned about their future. They are prudent, and only seek through the pacific means of Republican institutions to obtain the more or less real improvements which they contemplate.
Hence, all these inflammatory scenes do not represent any serious danger of a social war, except upon one condition: it is that the charlatans of Socialism find accomplices amongst Members of Parliament who, being deputed to make the laws of the country, and to superintend their enforcement, should give an example of respect for the law; amongst the officers entrusted with the maintenance of public order; amongst the magistrates entrusted with the administration of justice; amongst judges and juries entrusted with the application of the Penal Code to misdemeanours and crimes; and amongst the ministers who, being entrusted with the general interests of the country, are bound to contemplate the responsibilities which they assume, not only from the point of view of present difficulties, but above all from that of future events.
Apercu sur le Socialisme Scientifique, 1884.
The revolutionary days of 1848.—Ed.
On this point I am against M. Guyot and with those whom he is criticising. In a recent article on The Jew and the Politics of the Future, I said: “Patriotism is a virtue or a vice according as it stands in opposition to narrower or wider sympathies. The patriotism which voluntarily subordinates the interests of self, of family, of class, to those of the nation, is a virtue; for the lesser good is offered up on the altar of the greater. But the patriotism which seeks advantage for our own country, at the expense of the equal rights of others, is a vice. It is a form of selfishness—an egoisme à plusieurs.—Ed.