Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV.: LIBERTY AND ANARCHY. - The Tyranny of Socialism
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CHAPTER IV.: LIBERTY AND ANARCHY. - Yves Guyot, The Tyranny of Socialism 
The Tyranny of Socialism, ed. J.H. Levy (London: Swan Sonnenschein and Co., 1894).
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LIBERTY AND ANARCHY.
Not to be Confounded—An Example—The Bourse du Travail and its Occupations—Its Journal and the Army—Finding Situations—The Strike Hall—The Crime of Lèse syndicat—The Commune and the Bourse du Travail—The Central Committee and the Bourse du Travail—The Number of its Members—Its Installation by the Government—Its Reply—Extreme Negligence of the Administration—Liberty of Meeting in the United States—The True Question as to the Bourse du Travail—Permanent Anarchists.
We must not confound liberty with anarchy. Liberty is the reciprocal respect for personal rights, according to certain fixed rules known by the name of law. Anarchy is the privilege of some and the spoliation of others, according to the caprices and abitrary will of the cunning and the violent, and the feebleness and lack of energy of the timorous.
In the Bourse du Travail we have an example of a state of anarchy, established with the connivance of the Government.
Like all ideas worked by the Socialists, the conception of the Bourse du Travail is due to a “vile economist.” This was M. de Molinari,1 who, in 1843, thought it would be useful to establish centres of information where offers of employment and requirements of the same might be made known, and where the current price of labour might be settled, just as, at the financial Bourse, the rate of exchange is fixed, or as the current market prices of commodities are determined at the Commercial Exchanges. He followed up his idea with perseverance; communicated it in 1848 to M. Ducoux, Prefect of Police; endeavoured to carry it out by means of a newspaper in Belgium, in 1857; and finally, saw it take shape in the Bourse du Travail, founded on February 3rd, 1887, in the Rue Jean-Jacques-Rousseau, and later in Rue du Château d’Eau, in beautiful premises, valued at three millions of francs (£120,000), which the Municipal Council has had built for the purpose.
The building was put in the possession of some syndicates and incorporated societies placed under the control of the second Committee of the Municipal Council. When this Committee requires money, its members do not even take the trouble to inform the Council, as is shown by a letter from the President, of that Committee, dated December 15th, 1892. They consider themselves autonomous, though in the receipt of subsidies. They are not content with the firing and lighting supplied by the town. They had an allowance of 50,000 francs. They requested that it might be increased to 99,932 francs. The Municipal Council, alarmed by this increase of cent. per cent., halved it, and granted 75,000 francs, of which 46,000 francs are devoted to salaries and fees, and 11,700 to the printing expenses of the Bourse du Travail newspaper, of which half is reserved to pleas and plans for the organisation of social war, to all kinds of attacks on “the government of employers and bourgeois,” and to insults levelled at those who do not satisfy the executive, in terms of which the following sentence, 4th December, 1892, dedicated to our army, is an example:—
“The bourgeois papers deplore the loss of seventeen officers, since the commencement of the Campaign in Dahomey.”
“There is no reason whatever for such sorrow.”
The Bourse du Travail sends delegates to every place where a strike may be got up, so as to bring it to a head and prevent its miscarriage.
With regard to finding situations for workmen, according to the information with which it was anxious to furnish the Municipal Council, in the month of March, 1893, it has done little beyond negotiating for the employment of hairdressers’ assistants and super-numerary hotel servants. Employers do not trust them, and will not go to them for their workpeople and clerks. Those who keep the Bourse du Travail hoped that they would overcome this ill-will, by the laws relating to registry offices. Their anger was proportionate to their mistake, because I dared to say:
“Well, gentlemen, we have syndicates at the Bourse du Travail. We see them at work. We see what they are. Do you really believe that these syndicates are even regularly constituted? According to the papers which have been published, more than two-thirds of the syndicates registered at the Bourse du Travail are not regularly constituted, and they never-theless find situations for people.”
“You should have seen them recently in the Bulletin de la Bourse du Travail, loudly declaring that syndicates in agreement with them must not place themselves in conformity with the law of March 21st, 1884.”
“In short, Mr. Reporter, will you take a journey to the Bourse du Travail? I would like you to go there some Thursday, into the Strike Hall. It is there that the hairdressers’ assistants meet to seek “extras” for the following Saturday. You will there see people who only go in order not to find work, who are satisfied with an “extra” of one day per week, and who, for the remainder of the time, either loaf about or take shelter there in rainy weather. . . . ”
As they insisted on the following day, I called them “detritus.” For the rest, as was solemnly affirmed by M. Auguste Vacquerie, “these insults are not aimed at the Bourse du Travail, syndicates in general, nor the builders’ syndicates in particular.” Neither have they refrained from launching collective insults at me. In various meetings I have been abused, and condemned to a variety of expiations of my “crime of lèse-syndicat.”1 I accept these attentions with resignation and without surprise.
But I was surprised to learn that it was my words which had revealed to the Minister of the Interior a state of things which had nothing mysterious about it. The representatives of the Bourse du Travail have proclaimed, with the greatest earnestness, that there were syndicates there which were not legally constituted, and that they considered, not only that this illegality was their right, but that it had become a duty. They celebrated the 1st of May. They closed the Bourse du Travail on the 28th May, and went solemnly to render homage to the dead members of the Commune.
The Paris Bourse du Travail has affiliated with those of Lyons, Saint-Etienne, Marseilles, Bordeaux, Nimes, Montpellier, Toulouse, Cholet, Toulon, Calais, Cours (Rhone), and Troyes. To this federation labour questions are of secondary importance. Revolutionary questions come first. Just as it was easy to discern the embryo of the Commune in the Central Committee, it is easy to detect the preparations for social war in this organisation.
For the rest, the members of these associations consist of an agitated minority which has little right to speak in the name of the workers. Syndicates multiply by reason of the fees paid to their representatives; but there are syndicates which only consist of a staff: the rank and file are absent. According to The Annuaire du Ministre du Commerce, there should have been last year, at the Paris Association, 172 syndicates, representing 58,000 members—7⅓ per cent. of the working population of Paris, estimated at 790,000 persons. According to an inquiry instituted by M. G. Hartmann, in 1890, the number of workmen paying their club money regularly, did not exceed from five to six thousand. Having turned up the numbers of 19 syndicates at the Bourse du Travail, he found 1,740 members of trades in which 40,570 workmen were employed—that is, about 4¼ per cent.1
M. Charles Dupuy, Minister of the Interior, compelled those syndicates which were not legally constituted, which he found installed at the Bourse de Travail, to conform to the law before 5th July, 189[???] (ed. The original text has been corrected but the meaning is still not clear - it could read 1894) and on the 1st of July he suspended the subsidies.
The members of the Executive Commission and of the Committee replied: “The dignity and honour of the proletariat forbid that such an odious provocation as the unqualified affront just offered by the Minister of the Interior to the working classes shall be over-looked.”
Whence comes this storm if not from the yielding nature of the administration? The revolutionists of the Rue J. J. Rousseau had already given such good proofs of what they were in the waiters’ and navvies’ strikes of 1888, that M. Floquet thought it necessary to close it. When the large buildings in the Rue du Château d’Eau were, in 1892, handed over to the Syndicated Chambers and Corporate Societies, the object to which it was to be applied should first have been determined, and the manner in which it was to be administered should have been specified; so that the Government and the Prefecture of the Seine should have some responsible people to deal with; and they ought to have kept a hold over the concern so as to see that their conditions were strictly carried out. They found it was more simple to let these people act with plenary irresponsibility. They put off the difficulty, as if it were not more difficult to stop a runaway horse than to keep it at a steady pace.
If we take as our models those peoples who have attained their liberty long before us, and have known how to protect it, we shall not find one which would admit an institution such as the existing Bourse du Travail into a municipal building, and subsidise it from the rates.
The first amendment of the Constitution of the United States proclaims perfect liberty of meeting and of combination. But how is the right exercised? All meetings must be summoned with some definite object. Public inclination, as well as positive law, agrees that this shall be so; but if the meeting forgets the order of the day, its legal existence ceases. If it does not disperse of itself, it will be forced to disperse by the troops. There is the strongest reason for not hesitating to disperse all violent manifestations.1
It is not only a question of knowing whether these syndicates have conformed to Article 4 of the law of 1884; as the ministerial injunction would have the result of making the Bourse du Travail the home of syndicates exclusively which would become obligatory; whilst it should be open, under certain conditions, to all those who wish to deal with the questions of supply and demand of labour.
The object of an Exchange (Bourse) is to bring the vendors and purchasers together. At this so-called Exchange the vendors of labour wished to be isolated from the purchasers. They were the masters in this matter, but for the attainment of quite a different purpose from that implied in the word Exchange.
It would be well to know if syndicates, whether legally constituted or not, may take “the study and protection of economic interests” to mean an apology for, and propaganda of, a social war; if the rate-payers of Paris should put a public edifice at the service of revolutionaries—actual revolutionaries when possible, always so by desire; whether the Government should with benign condescension, maintain a disorderly household where illegality assumes the character of a dogma, where contempt for the Government and spoliation form the background of habitual conversation, and where the Government and the administration receive in exchange for their good offices nothing but the constant repetition of the assurance of scorn.
Dangerous anarchists are not men like Ravachol and his accomplices—half-lunatic criminals, who may secure a few victims, but who rapidly disappear. It is the permanent Anarchists, such as the agitators of the Labour Exchange, such as the municipal councillors and the Deputies, who become their flatterers and accomplices, and above all the governors and administrators, who let things slip so as not to “make work for themselves,” whom we have to fear.
See his Les Bourses du Travail.
Treason to Trades Unionism.—Ed.
See a series of artioles by M. Léon Ducret, in the Siècle of November 12th, 1892, and following dates.
Conditions du Travail, p. 16.