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Yves Guyot on the violence and lawlessness inherent in socialism (1910)

2010 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of Yves Guyot’s book on Socialistic Fallacies. In this work the French laissez-faire economist and politician Yves Guyot (1843-1928) points out the inherent lawlessness and violence in socialist policies and how they will lead inevitably to the coming to power of a new “Caesar”:

Socialist policy is a permanent menace to the liberty and security of citizens, and cannot therefore be the policy of any government, the primary duty of which is to exact respect for internal and external security. If it fail therein, it dissolves and is replaced by anarchy; and inasmuch as everyone has a horror of that condition which betrays itself by the oppression of violent men, banded together solely by their appetites, an appeal is made to a strong government and to a man with a strong grip, and the risk is incurred of falling back into all the disgraces and disasters of Cæsarism.

There are three words which Socialism must erase from the facades of our public buildings—the three words of the Republican motto:—

Liberty, because Socialism is a rule of tyranny and of police.

Equality, because it is a rule of class.

Fraternity, because its policy is that of the class war.

CHAPTER X. The Impotence of Socialism

What remains of Socialism, then, when we come to close quarters with it? And what are the future prospects of this policy of spoliation and of tyranny?

The Socialist party cannot balance up a governmental majority without destroying government itself, for it cannot admit that government fulfils the minimum of its duties. When a strike breaks out, the intention of the strikers is that security of person and of property shall not be guaranteed; and they have been preceded, supported and followed in this by certain Radicals who, when put to the test, have been obliged to commit acts such as they have violently laid to the charge of preceding governments. Socialist policy represents contempt for law, and all men, whether rich or poor, have an interest in liberty, security and justice, for the private interest of each individual is bound up with these common blessings. Socialists despise them all.

A law, the object of which is to protect each man’s property, is supported by all who possess anything, and where is the man in advanced societies who is incapable of being robbed because he possesses nothing?

A law, the object of which is to despoil a portion of the citizens of a State, unites in opposition to it all those against whom it is directed and those whom it alarms, for they are afraid that it may extend to them. It has not even the support of those for whose benefit it is made, for only a very small number obtain a direct benefit; the great majority only experience disappointments, and cause the feelings of envy and rapacity which procured the demand and approval of such a law to recoil upon those who have benefited by it.

A law of spoliation may be passed and carried into effect, but in the event of its results becoming permanent, it runs the risk of destroying the government which has assumed the responsibility for it.

Socialist policy is a permanent menace to the liberty and security of citizens, and cannot therefore be the policy of any government, the primary duty of which is to exact respect for internal and external security. If it fail therein, it dissolves and is replaced by anarchy; and inasmuch as everyone has a horror of that condition which betrays itself by the oppression of violent men, banded together solely by their appetites, an appeal is made to a strong government and to a man with a strong grip, and the risk is incurred of falling back into all the disgraces and disasters of Cæsarism.

There are three words which Socialism must erase from the facades of our public buildings—the three words of the Republican motto:—

Liberty, because Socialism is a rule of tyranny and of police.

Equality, because it is a rule of class.

**Fraternity, because its policy is that of the class war.

About this Quotation:

2010 is the 100th anniversary of the publication in English of Guyot’s Socialist Fallacies. In the title Guyot is making reference to two precursors, Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) and Frédéric Bastiat (1801-1850). The former wrote The Book of Fallacies (1824) and the latter wrote Economic Sophisms (1845), both of which were intended to debunk the political and economic errors and myths of their day. Guyot attempts to do the same for turn of the century France. One of his targets is the motto of the French state – “Liberty. Egality. Fraternity” – which arose during the French Revolution and was used by socialists in the1848 Revolution and then which became adopted officially in the Third Republic. Under socialism these three ideals are transformed into “Tyranny. Class rule. Class War.” This quote is also interesting because like his older colleague, Gustave de Molinari (1819-1912), Guyot predicts the rise of socialist ideas and with it, the inevitable coming to power of new “Caesars” who will destroy individual liberty. Little did they realize how destructive the new socialist Caesars like Lenin, Mussolini, Hitler, and Mao would be in the 20th century.

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