Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Philosophy of Misery by Joseph-Pierre Proudhon

Part 3 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.0 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

The reason of this is easily seen. The advantage which results
from the rapidity of the railroad is wholly social, and each
individual participates in it only in a very slight degree (do
not forget that we are speaking now only of the transportation of
merchandise); while the loss falls directly and personally on the
consumer. A special profit of four hundred per cent. in a
society composed of say a million of men represents four
ten-thousandths for each individual; while a loss to the consumer
of thirty-three per cent. means a social deficit of thirty- three
millions. Private interest and collective interest, seemingly so
divergent at first blush, are therefore perfectly identical and
equal: and this example may serve to show already how economic
science reconciles all interests.

Consequently, in order that society may realize the profit above
supposed, it is absolutely necessary that the railroad's prices
shall not exceed, or shall exceed but very little, those of the

But, that this condition may be fulfilled,--in other words, that
the railroad may be commercially possible,--the amount of
matter transported must be sufficiently great to cover at least
the interest on the capital invested and the running expenses of
the road. Then a railroad's first condition of existence is a
large circulation, which implies a still larger production and a
vast amount of exchanges.

But production, circulation, and exchange are not self-creative
things; again, the various kinds of labor are not developed in
isolation and independently of each other: their progress is
necessarily connected, solidary, proportional. There may be
antagonism among manufacturers; but, in spite of them, social
action is one, convergent, harmonious,--in a word, personal.
Further, there is a day appointed for the creation of great
instruments of labor: it is the day when general consumption
shall be able to maintain their employment,--that is, for all
these propositions are interconvertible, the day when ambient
labor can feed new machinery. To anticipate the hour appointed
by the progress of labor would be to imitate the fool who, going
from Lyons to Marseilles, chartered a steamer for himself alone.

These points cleared up, nothing is easier than to explain why
labor must leave an excess for each producer.

And first, as regards society: Prometheus, emerging from the womb
of Nature, awakens to life in a state of inertia which is very
charming, but which would soon become misery and torture if he
did not make haste to abandon it for labor. In this original
idleness, the product of Prometheus being nothing, his well-being
is the same as that of the brute, and may be represented by zero.

Prometheus begins to work: and from his first day's labor, the
first of the second creation, the product of Prometheus--that is,
his wealth, his well-being--is equal to ten.

The second day Prometheus divides his labor, and his product
increases to one hundred.

The third day, and each following day, Prometheus invents
machinery, discovers new uses in things, new forces in Nature;
the field of his existence extends from the domain of the senses
to the sphere of morals and intelligence, and with every step
that his industry takes the amount of his product increases, and
assures him additional happiness. And since, finally, with him,
to consume is to produce, it is clear that each day's
consumption, using up only the product of the day before, leaves
a surplus product for the day after.

But notice also--and give especial heed to this all-important
fact--that the well-being of man is directly proportional to the
intensity of labor and the multiplicity of industries: so that
the increase of wealth and the increase of labor are correlative
and parallel.

To say now that every individual participates in these general
conditions of collective development would be to affirm a truth
which, by reason of the evidence in its support, would appear
silly. Let us point out rather the two general forms of
consumption in society.

Society, like the individual, has first its articles of personal
consumption, articles which time gradually causes it to feel the
need of, and which its mysterious instincts command it to create.

Thus in the middle ages there was, with a large number of cities,
a decisive moment when the building of city halls and cathedrals
became a violent passion, which had to be satisfied at any price;
the life of the community depended upon it. Security and
strength, public order, centralization, nationality, country,
independence, these are the elements which make up the life of
society, the totality of its mental faculties; these are the
sentiments which must find expression and representation. Such
formerly was the object of the temple of Jerusalem, real
palladium of the Jewish nation; such was the temple of
Jupiter Capitolinus of Rome. Later, after the municipal palace
and the temple,--organs, so to speak, of centralization and
progress,--came the other works of public utility,--bridges,
theatres, schools, hospitals, roads, etc.

The monuments of public utility being used essentially in common,
and consequently gratuitously, society is rewarded for its
advances by the political and moral advantages resulting from
these great works, and which, furnishing security to labor and an
ideal to the mind, give fresh impetus to industry and the arts.

But it is different with the articles of domestic consumption,
which alone fall within the category of exchange. These can be
produced only upon the conditions of mutuality which make
consumption possible,--that is, immediate payment with advantage
to the producers. These conditions we have developed
sufficiently in the theory of proportionality of values, which we
might call as well the theory of the gradual reduction of cost.

I have demonstrated theoretically and by facts the principle that
ALL LABOR SHOULD LEAVE AN EXCESS; but this principle, as certain
as any proposition in arithmetic, is very far from universal
realization. While, by the progress of collective industry, each
individual day's labor yields a greater and greater product, and
while, by necessary consequence, the laborer, receiving the same
wages, must grow ever richer, there exist in society classes
which THRIVE and classes which PERISH; laborers paid twice,
thrice, a hundred times over, and laborers continually out of
pocket; everywhere, finally, people who enjoy and people who
suffer, and, by a monstrous division of the means of industry,
individuals who consume and do not produce. The distribution of
well-being follows all the movements of value, and reproduces
them in misery and luxury on a frightful scale and with terrible
energy. But everywhere, too, the progress of wealth--that is,
the proportionality of values--is the dominant law; and when the
economists combat the complaints of the socialists with the
progressive increase of public wealth and the alleviations of the
condition of even the most unfortunate classes, they proclaim,
without suspecting it, a truth which is the condemnation of their

For I entreat the economists to question themselves for a moment
in the silence of their hearts, far from the prejudices which
disturb them, and regardless of the employments which occupy them
or which they wait for, of the interests which they serve, of the
votes which they covet, of the distinctions which tickle their
vanity: let them tell me whether, hitherto, they have viewed the
principle that all labor should leave an excess in connection
with this series of premises and conclusions which we have
elaborated, and whether they ever have understood these words to
mean anything more than the right to speculate in values by
manipulating supply and demand; whether it is not true that they
affirm at once, on the one hand the progress of wealth and
well-being, and consequently the measure of values, and on the
other the arbitrariness of commercial transactions and the
incommensurability of values,--the flattest of contradictions?
Is it not because of this contradiction that we continually hear
repeated in lectures, and read in the works on political economy,
this absurd hypothesis: If THE PRICE OF ALL THINGS WAS DOUBLED.
. . . . . ? As if the price of all things was not the proportion
of things, and as if we could double a proportion, a relation, a
law! Finally, is it not because of the proprietary and abnormal
routine upheld by political economy that every one, in
commerce, industry, the arts, and the State, on the pretended
ground of services rendered to society, tends continually to
exaggerate his importance, and solicits rewards, subsidies, large
pensions, exorbitant fees: as if the reward of every service was
not determined necessarily by the sum of its expenses? Why do
not the economists, if they believe, as they appear to, that the
labor of each should leave an excess, use all their influence in
spreading this truth, so simple and so luminous: Each man's
labor can buy only the value which it contains, and this value is
proportional to the services of all other laborers?

But here a last consideration presents itself, which I will
explain in a few words.

J. B. Say, who of all the economists has insisted the most
strenuously upon the absolute indeterminability of value, is also
the one who has taken the most pains to refute that idea. He, if
I am not mistaken, is the author of the formula: EVERY PRODUCT
IS WORTH WHAT IT COSTS; or, what amounts to the same thing:
PRODUCTS ARE BOUGHT WITH PRODUCTS. This aphorism, which leads
straight to equality, has been controverted since by other
economists; we will examine in turn the affirmative and the

When I say that every product is worth the products which it has
cost, I mean that every product is a collective unit which, in a
new form, groups a certain number of other products consumed in
various quantities. Whence it follows that the products of human
industry are, in relation to each other, genera and species, and
that they form a series from the simple to the composite,
according to the number and proportion of the elements, all
equivalent to each other, which constitute each product. It
matters little, for the present, that this series, as well
as the equivalence of its elements, is expressed in practice more
or less exactly by the equilibrium of wages and fortunes; our
first business is with the relation of things, the economic law.
For here, as ever, the idea first and spontaneously generates the
fact, which, recognized then by the thought which has given it
birth, gradually rectifies itself and conforms to its principle.
Commerce, free and competitive, is but a long operation of
redressal, whose object is to define more and more clearly the
proportionality of values, until the civil law shall recognize it
as a guide in matters concerning the condition of persons. I
say, then, that Say's principle, EVERY PRODUCT IS WORTH WHAT IT
COSTS, indicates a series in human production analogous to the
animal and vegetable series, in which the elementary units (day's
works) are regarded as equal. So that political economy affirms
at its birth, but by a contradiction, what neither Plato, nor
Rousseau, nor any ancient or modern publicist has thought
possible,-- equality of conditions and fortunes.

Prometheus is by turns husbandman, wine-grower, baker, weaver.
Whatever trade he works at, laboring only for himself, he buys
what he consumes (his products) with one and the same money (his
products), whose unit of measurement is necessarily his day's
work. It is true that labor itself is liable to vary; Prometheus
is not always in the same condition, and from one moment to
another his enthusiasm, his fruitfulness, rises and falls. But,
like everything that is subject to variation, labor has its
average, which justifies us in saying that, on the whole, day's
work pays for day's work, neither more nor less. It is quite
true that, if we compare the products of a certain period of
social life with those of another, the hundred millionth day's
work of the human race will show a result incomparably superior
to that of the first; but it must be remembered also that the
life of the collective being can no more be divided than that of
the individual; that, though the days may not resemble each
other, they are indissolubly united, and that in the sum total of
existence pain and pleasure are common to them. If, then, the
tailor, for rendering the value of a day's work, consumes ten
times the product of the day's work of the weaver, it is as if
the weaver gave ten days of his life for one day of the tailor's.
This is exactly what happens when a peasant pays twelve francs to
a lawyer for a document which it takes him an hour to prepare;
and this inequality, this iniquity in exchanges, is the most
potent cause of misery that the socialists have unveiled,--as the
economists confess in secret while awaiting a sign from the
master that shall permit them to acknowledge it openly.

Every error in commutative justice is an immolation of the
laborer, a transfusion of the blood of one man into the body of
another. . . . . Let no one be frightened; I have no intention
of fulminating against property an irritating philippic;
especially as I think that, according to my principles, humanity
is never mistaken; that, in establishing itself at first upon the
right of property, it only laid down one of the principles of its
future organization; and that, the preponderance of property once
destroyed, it remains only to reduce this famous antithesis to
unity. All the objections that can be offered in favor of
property I am as well acquainted with as any of my critics, whom
I ask as a favor to show their hearts when logic fails them. How
can wealth that is not measured by labor be VALUABLE? And if it
is labor that creates wealth and legitimates property, how
explain the consumption of the idler? Where is the honesty in a
system of distribution in which a product is worth, according to
the person, now more, now less, than it costs.

Say's ideas led to an agrarian law; therefore, the conservative
party hastened to protest against them. "The original source of
wealth," M. Rossi had said, "is labor. In proclaiming this great
principle, the industrial school has placed in evidence not only
an economic principle, but that social fact which, in the hands
of a skilful historian, becomes the surest guide in following the
human race in its marchings and haltings upon the face of the

Why, after having uttered these profound words in his lectures,
has M. Rossi thought it his duty to retract them afterwards in a
review, and to compromise gratuitously his dignity as a
philosopher and an economist?

"Say that wealth is the result of labor alone; affirm that labor
is always the measure of value, the regulator of prices; yet, to
escape one way or another the objections which these doctrines
call forth on all hands, some incomplete, others absolute, you
will be obliged to generalize the idea of labor, and to
substitute for analysis an utterly erroneous synthesis."

I regret that a man like M. Rossi should suggest to me so sad a
thought; but, while reading the passage that I have just quoted,
I could not help saying: Science and truth have lost their
influence: the present object of worship is the shop, and, after
the shop, the desperate constitutionalism which represents it.
To whom, then, does M. Rossi address himself? Is he in favor of
labor or something else; analysis or synthesis? Is he in favor
of all these things at once? Let him choose, for the conclusion
is inevitably against him.

If labor is the source of all wealth, if it is the surest guide
in tracing the history of human institutions on the face of the
earth, why should equality of distribution, equality as measured
by labor, not be a law?

If, on the contrary, there is wealth which is not the product of
labor, why is the possession of it a privilege? Where is the
legitimacy of monopoly? Explain then, once for all, this theory
of the right of unproductive consumption; this jurisprudence of
caprice, this religion of idleness, the sacred prerogative of a
caste of the elect.

What, now, is the significance of this appeal from ANALYSIS to
the false judgments of the synthesis? These metaphysical terms
are of no use, save to indoctrinate simpletons, who do not
suspect that the same proposition can be construed, indifferently
and at will, analytically or synthetically. LABOR IS THE
proposition such as M. Rossi likes, since it is the summary of an
analysis in which it is demonstrated that the primitive notion of
labor is identical with the subsequent notions of product, value,
capital, wealth, etc. Nevertheless, we see that M. Rossi rejects
the doctrine which results from this analysis. LABOR, CAPITAL,
AND LAND ARE THE SOURCES OF WEALTH: a synthetic proposition,
precisely such as M. Rossi does not like. Indeed, wealth is
considered here as a general notion, produced in three distinct,
but not identical, ways. And yet the doctrine thus formulated is
the one that M. Rossi prefers. Now, would it please M. Rossi to
have us render his theory of monopoly analytically and ours of
labor synthetically? I can give him the satisfaction. . . . .
But I should blush, with so earnest a man, to prolong such
badinage. M. Rossi knows better than any one that analysis and
synthesis of themselves prove absolutely nothing, and that the
important work, as Bacon said, is to make exact comparisons and
complete enumerations.

Since M. Rossi was in the humor for abstractions, why did he not
say to the phalanx of economists who listen so respectfully to
the least word that falls from his lips:

"Capital is the MATERIAL of wealth, as gold and silver are the
material of money, as wheat is the material of bread, and,
tracing the series back to the end, as earth, water, fire, and
air are the material of all our products. But it is labor, labor
alone, which successively creates each utility given to these
MATERIALS, and which consequently transforms them into capital
and wealth. Capital is the result of labor,-- that is, realized
intelligence and life,--as animals and plants are realizations of
the soul of the universe, and as the chefs d'oeuvre of Homer,
Raphael, and Rossini are expressions of their ideas and
sentiments. Value is the proportion in which all the
realizations of the human soul must balance each other in order
to produce a harmonious whole, which, being wealth, gives us
well-being, or rather is the token, not the object, of our

"The proposition, THERE IS NO MEASURE OF VALUE, is illogical and
contradictory, as is shown by the very arguments which have been
offered in its support.

VALUES, not only is true, resulting as it does from an
irrefutable analysis, but it is the object of progress, the
condition and form of social well-being, the beginning and end
of political economy. From this proposition and its corollaries,
WITH PRODUCTs, follows the dogma of equality of conditions.

"The idea of value socially constituted, or of proportionality of
values, serves to explain further: (a) how a mechanical
invention, notwithstanding the privilege which it temporarily
creates and the disturbances which it occasions, always produces
in the end a general amelioration; (b) how the value of an
economical process to its discoverer can never equal the profit
which it realizes for society; (c) how, by a series of
oscillations between supply and demand, the value of every
product constantly seeks a level with cost and with the needs of
consumption, and consequently tends to establish itself in a
fixed and positive manner; (d) how, collective production
continually increasing the amount of consumable things, and the
day's work constantly obtaining higher and higher pay, labor must
leave an excess for each producer; (e) how the amount of work to
be done, instead of being diminished by industrial progress, ever
increases in both quantity and quality--that is, in intensity and
difficulty--in all branches of industry; (f) how social value
continually eliminates fictitious values,--in other words, how
industry effects the socialization of capital and property; (g)
finally, how the distribution of products, growing in regularity
with the strength of the mutual guarantee resulting from the
constitution of value, pushes society onward to equality of
conditions and fortunes.

"Finally, the theory of the successive constitution of all
commercial values implying the infinite progress of labor,
wealth, and well-being, the object of society, from the economic
point of view, is revealed to us: TO PRODUCE INCESSANTLY, WITH

Now that we have determined, not without difficulty, the meaning
of the question asked by the Academy of Moral Sciences touching
the oscillations of profit and wages, it is time to begin the
essential part of our work. Wherever labor has not been
socialized,--that is, wherever value is not synthetically
determined,--there is irregularity and dishonesty in exchange; a
war of stratagems and ambuscades; an impediment to production,
circulation, and consumption; unproductive labor; insecurity;
spoliation; insolidarity; want; luxury: but at the same time an
effort of the genius of society to obtain justice, and a constant
tendency toward association and order. Political economy is
simply the history of this grand struggle. On the one hand,
indeed, political economy, in so far as it sanctions and pretends
to perpetuate the anomalies of value and the prerogatives of
selfishness, is truly the theory of misfortune and the
organization of misery; but in so far as it explains the means
invented by civilization to abolish poverty, although these means
always have been used exclusively in the interest of monopoly,
political economy is the preamble of the organization of wealth.

It is important, then, that we should resume the study of
economic facts and practices, discover their meaning, and
formulate their philosophy. Until this is done, no knowledge of
social progress can be acquired, no reform attempted. The error
of socialism has consisted hitherto in perpetuating religious
reverie by launching forward into a fantastic future instead of
seizing the reality which is crushing it; as the wrong of the
economists has been in regarding every accomplished fact as an
injunction against any proposal of reform.

For my own part, such is not my conception of economic science,
the true social science. Instead of offering a priori arguments
as solutions of the formidable problems of the organization of
labor and the distribution of wealth, I shall interrogate
political economy as the depositary of the secret thoughts of
humanity; I shall cause it to disclose the facts in the order of
their occurrence, and shall relate their testimony without
intermingling it with my own. It will be at once a triumphant
and a lamentable history, in which the actors will be ideas, the
episodes theories, and the dates formulas.



The fundamental idea, the dominant category, of political economy

Value reaches its positive determination by a series of
oscillations between SUPPLY and DEMAND.

Consequently, value appears successively under three aspects:
useful value, exchangeable value, and synthetic, or social,
value, which is true value. The first term gives birth to the
second in contradiction to it, and the two together, absorbing
each other in reciprocal penetration, produce the third: so that
the contradiction or antagonism of ideas appears as the point of
departure of all economic science, allowing us to say of it,
parodying the sentence of Tertullian in relation to the Gospel,
Credo quia absurdum: There is, in social economy, a latent truth
wherever there is an apparent contradiction, Credo quia

From the point of view of political economy, then, social
progress consists in a continuous solution of the problem of the
constitution of values, or of the proportionality and solidarity
of products.

But while in Nature the synthesis of opposites is contemporary
with their opposition, in society the antithetic elements seem to
appear at long intervals, and to reach solution only`after long
and tumultuous agitation. Thus there is no example--the idea
even is inconceivable--of a valley without a hill, a left without
a right, a north pole without a south pole, a stick with but one
end, or two ends without a middle, etc. The human body, with its
so perfectly antithetic dichotomy, is formed integrally at the
very moment of conception; it refuses to be put together and
arranged piece by piece, like the garment patterned after it
which, later, is to cover it.[10]

[10] A subtle philologist, M. Paul Ackermann, has shown, using
the French language as an illustration, that, since every word in
a language has its opposite, or, as the author calls it, its
antonym, the entire vocabulary might be arranged in couples,
forming a vast dualistic system. (See Dictionary of Antonyms.
By Paul Ackermann. Paris: Brockhaus & Avenarius. 1842)

In society, on the contrary, as well as in the mind, so far from
the idea reaching its complete realization at a single bound, a
sort of abyss separates, so to speak, the two antinomical
positions, and even when these are recognized at last, we still
do not see what the synthesis will be. The primitive concepts
must be fertilized, so to speak, by burning controversy and
passionate struggle; bloody battles will be the preliminaries of
peace. At the present moment, Europe, weary of war and
discussion, awaits a reconciling principle; and it is the vague
perception of this situation which induces the Academy of Moral
and Political Sciences to ask, "What are the general facts which
govern the relations of profits to wages and determine their
oscillations?" in other words, what are the most salient episodes
and the most remarkable phases of the war between labor and

If, then, I demonstrate that political economy, with all its
contradictory hypotheses and equivocal conclusions, is nothing
but an organization of privilege and misery, I shall have proved
thereby that it contains by implication the promise of an
organization of labor and equality, since, as has been said,
every systematic contradiction is the announcement of a
composition; further, I shall have fixed the bases of this
composition. Then, indeed, to unfold the system of economical
contradictions is to lay the foundations of universal
association; to show how the products of collective labor COME
OUT of society is to explain how it will be possible to make them
RETURN to it; to exhibit the genesis of the problems of
production and distribution is to prepare the way for their
solution. All these propositions are identical and equally

% 1.--Antagonistic effects of the principle of division.

All men are equal in the state of primitive communism, equal in
their nakedness and ignorance, equal in the indefinite power of
their faculties. The economists generally look at only the first
of these aspects; they neglect or overlook the second.
Nevertheless, according to the profoundest philosophers of modern
times, La Rochefoucault, Helvetius, Kant, Fichte, Hegel,
Jacotot, intelligence differs in individuals only QUALITATIVELY,
each having thereby his own specialty or genius; in its
essence,--namely, judgment,--it is QUANTITATIVELY equal in all.
Hence it follows that, a little sooner or a little later,
according as circumstances shall be more or less favorable,
general progress must lead all men from original and negative
equality to a positive equivalence of talents and acquirements.

I insist upon this precious datum of psychology, the necessary
consequence of which is that the HIERARCHY OF CAPACITIES
henceforth cannot be allowed as a principle and law of
organization: equality alone is our rule, as it is also our
ideal. Then, just as the equality of misery must change
gradually into equality of well-being, as we have proved by the
theory of value, so the equality of minds, negative in the
beginning, since it represents only emptiness, must reappear in a
positive form at the completion of humanity's education. The
intellectual movement proceeds parallelly with the economic
movement; they are the expression, the translation, of each
other; psychology and social economy are in accord, or rather,
they but unroll the same history, each from a different point of
view. This appears especially in Smith's great law, the DIVISION

Considered in its essence, the division of labor is the way in
which equality of condition and intelligence is realized.
Through diversity of function, it gives rise to proportionality
of products and equilibrium in exchange, and consequently opens
for us the road to wealth; as also, in showing us infinity
everywhere in art and Nature, it leads us to idealize our acts,
and makes the creative mind--that is, divinity itself, mentem
diviniorem--immanent and perceptible in all laborers.

Division of labor, then, is the first phase of economic evolution
as well as of intellectual development: our point of departure is
true as regards both man and things, and the progress of our
exposition is in no wise arbitrary.

But, at this solemn hour of the division of labor, tempestuous
winds begin to blow upon humanity. Progress does not improve the
condition of all equally and uniformly, although in the end it
must include and transfigure every intelligent and industrious
being. It commences by taking possession of a small number of
privileged persons, who thus compose the elite of nations, while
the mass continues, or even buries itself deeper, in
barbarism. It is this exception of persons on the part of
progress which has perpetuated the belief in the natural and
providential inequality of conditions, engendered caste, and
given an hierarchical form to all societies. It has not been
understood that all inequality, never being more than a negation,
carries in itself the proof of its illegitimacy and the
announcement of its downfall: much less still has it been
imagined that this same inequality proceeds accidentally from a
cause the ulterior effect of which must be its entire

Thus, the antinomy of value reappearing in the law of division,
it is found that the first and most potent instrument of
knowledge and wealth which Providence has placed in our hands has
become for us an instrument of misery and imbecility. Here is
the formula of this new law of antagonism, to which we owe the
two oldest maladies of civilization, aristocracy and the
proletariat: Labor, in dividing itself according to the law
which is peculiar to it, and which is the primary condition of
its productivity, ends in the frustration of its own objects, and
destroys itself, in other words: Division, in the absence of
which there is no progress, no wealth, no equality, subordinates
the workingman, and renders intelligence useless, wealth harmful,
and equality impossible. All the economists, since Adam Smith,
have pointed out the ADVANTAGES and the INCONVENIENCES of the law
of division, but at the same time insisting much more strenuously
upon the first than the second, because such a course was more in
harmony with their optimistic views, and not one of them ever
asking how a LAW can have INCONVENIENCES. This is the way in
which J. B. Say summed up the question:--

"A man who during his whole life performs but one operation,
certainly acquires the power to execute it better and more
readily than another; but at the same time he becomes less
capable of any other occupation, whether physical or moral;
his other faculties become extinct, and there results a
degeneracy in the individual man. That one has made only the
eighteenth part of a pin is a sad account to give of one's self:
but let no one imagine that it is the workingman who spends his
life in handling a file or a hammer that alone degenerates in
this way from the dignity of his nature; it is the same with the
man whose position leads him to exercise the most subtle
faculties of his mind. . . On the whole, it may be said that the
separation of tasks is an advantageous use of human forces; that
it increases enormously the products of society; but that it
takes something from the capacity of each man taken

[11] "Treatise on Political Economy."

What, then, after labor, is the primary cause of the
multiplication of wealth and the skill of laborers? Division.

What is the primary cause of intellectual degeneracy and, as we
shall show continually, civilized misery? Division.

How does the same principle, rigorously followed to its
conclusions, lead to effects diametrically opposite? There is
not an economist, either before or since Adam Smith, who has even
perceived that here is a problem to be solved. Say goes so far
as to recognize that in the division of labor the same cause
which produces the good engenders the evil; then, after a few
words of pity for the victims of the separation of industries,
content with having given an impartial and faithful exhibition of
the facts, he leaves the matter there. "You know," he seems to
say, "that the more we divide the workmen's tasks, the more we
increase the productive power of labor; but at the same time the
more does labor, gradually reducing itself to a mechanical
operation, stupefy intelligence."

In vain do we express our indignation against a theory which,
creating by labor itself an aristocracy of capacities, leads
inevitably to political inequality; in vain do we protest in the
name of democracy and progress that in the future there will be
no nobility, no bourgeoisie no pariahs. The economist replies,
with the impassibility of destiny: You are condemned to produce
much, and to produce cheaply; otherwise your industry will be
always insignificant, your commerce will amount to nothing, and
you will drag in the rear of civilization instead of taking the
lead.--What! among us, generous men, there are some predestined
to brutishness; and the more perfect our industry becomes, the
larger will grow the number of our accursed brothers! . . . . .
--Alas! . . . . . That is the last word of the economist.

We cannot fail to recognize in the division of labor, as a
general fact and as a cause, all the characteristics of a LAW;
but as this law governs two orders of phenomena radically
opposite and destructive of each other, it must be confessed also
that this law is of a sort unknown in the exact sciences,--that
it is, strange to say, a contradictory law, a counter-law an
antinomy. Let us add, in anticipation, that such appears to be
the identifying feature of social economy, and consequently of

Now, without a RECOMPOSITION of labor which shall obviate the
inconveniences of division while preserving its useful effects,
the contradiction inherent in the principle is irremediable. It
is necessary,--following the style of the Jewish priests,
plotting the death of Christ,--it is necessary that the poor
should perish to secure the proprietor his for tune, expedit unum
hominem pro populo mori. I am going to demonstrate the necessity
of this decree; after which, if the parcellaire laborer still
retains a glimmer of intelligence, he will console himself with
the thought that he dies according to the rules of political

Labor, which ought to give scope to the conscience and render it
more and more worthy of happiness, leading through parcellaire
division to prostration of mind, dwarfs man in his noblest part,
minorat capitis, and throws him back into animality. Thenceforth
the fallen man labors as a brute, and consequently must be
treated as a brute. This sentence of Nature and necessity
society will execute.

The first effect of parcellaire labor, after the depravation of
the mind, is the lengthening of the hours of labor, which
increase in inverse proportion to the amount of intelligence
expended. For, the product increasing in quantity and quality at
once, if, by any industrial improvement whatever, labor is
lightened in one way, it must pay for it in another. But as the
length of the working-day cannot exceed from sixteen to eighteen
hours, when compensation no longer can be made in time, it will
be taken from the price, and wages will decrease. And this
decrease will take place, not, as has been foolishly imagined,
because value is essentially arbitrary, but because it is
essentially determinable. Little matters it that the struggle
between supply and demand ends, now to the advantage of the
employer, now to the benefit of the employee; such oscillations
may vary in amplitude, this depending on well-known accessory
circumstances which have been estimated a thousand times. The
certain point, and the only one for us to notice now, is that the
universal conscience does not set the same price upon the labor
of an overseer and the work of a hod-carrier. A reduction in the
price of the day's work, then, is necessary: so that the laborer,
after having been afflicted in mind by a degrading function,
cannot fail to be struck also in his body by the meagreness of
his reward. This is the literal application of the words of the

There is in economic accidents a pitiless reason which laughs at
religion and equity as political aphorisms, and which renders man
happy or unhappy according as he obeys or escapes the
prescriptions of destiny. Certainly this is far from that
Christian charity with which so many honorable writers today are
inspired, and which, penetrating to the heart of the bourgeoisie,
endeavors to temper the rigors of the law by numerous religious
institutions. Political economy knows only justice, justice as
inflexible and unyielding as the miser's purse; and it is because
political economy is the effect of social spontaneity and the
expression of the divine will that I have been able to say: God
is man's adversary, and Providence a misanthrope. God makes us
pay, in weight of blood and measure of tears, for each of our
lessons; and to complete the evil, we, in our relations with our
fellows, all act like him. Where, then, is this love of the
celestial father for his creatures? Where is human fraternity?

Can he do otherwise? say the theists. Man falling, the animal
remains: how could the Creator recognize in him his own image?
And what plainer than that he treats him then as a beast of
burden? But the trial will not last for ever, and sooner or
later labor, having been PARTICULARIZED, will be synthetized.

Such is the ordinary argument of all those who seek to justify
Providence, but generally succeed only in lending new weapons to
atheism. That is to say, then, that God would have envied us,
for six thousand years, an idea which would have saved millions
of victims, a distribution of labor at once special and
synthetic! In return, he has given us, through his servants
Moses, Buddha, Zoroaster, Mahomet, etc., those insipid writings,
the disgrace of our reason, which have killed more men than they
contain letters! Further, if we must believe primitive
revelation, social economy was the cursed science, the fruit of
the tree reserved for God, which man was forbidden to touch! Why
this religious depreciation of labor, if it is true, as economic
science already shows, that labor is the father of love and the
organ of happiness? Why this jealousy of our advancement? But
if, as now sufficiently appears, our progress depends upon
ourselves alone, of what use is it to adore this phantom of
divinity, and what does he still ask of us through the multitude
of inspired persons who pursue us with their sermons? All of
you, Christians, protestant and orthodox, neo-revelators,
charlatans and dupes, listen to the first verse of the
humanitarian hymn upon God's mercy: "In proportion as the
principle of division of labor receives complete application, the
worker becomes weaker, narrower, and more dependent. Art
advances: the artisan recedes!"[12]

[12] Tocqueville, "Democracy in America."

Then let us guard against anticipating conclusions and prejudging
the latest revelation of experience. At present God seems less
favorable than hostile: let us confine ourselves to establishing
the fact.

Just as political economy, then, at its point of departure, has
made us understand these mysterious and dismal words: IN
DECREASES; so arrived at its first station, it warns us in a
RECEDES. To fix the ideas better, let us cite a few examples.

In all the branches of metal-working, who are the least
industrious of the wage-laborers? Precisely those who are called
MACHINISTS. Since tools have been so admirably perfected, a
machinist is simply a man who knows how to handle a file or
a plane: as for mechanics, that is the business of engineers and
foremen. A country blacksmith often unites in his own person, by
the very necessity of his position, the various talents of the
locksmith, the edge-tool maker, the gunsmith, the machinist, the
wheel-wright, and the horse-doctor: the world of thought would be
astonished at the knowledge that is under the hammer of this man,
whom the people, always inclined to jest, nickname brule-fer. A
workingman of Creuzot, who for ten years has seen the grandest
and finest that his profession can offer, on leaving his shop,
finds himself unable to render the slightest service or to earn
his living. The incapacity of the subject is directly
proportional to the perfection of the art; and this is as true of
all the trades as of metal-working.

The wages of machinists are maintained as yet at a high rate:
sooner or later their pay must decrease, the poor quality of the
labor being unable to maintain it.

I have just cited a mechanical art; let us now cite a liberal

Would Gutenburg and his industrious companions, Faust and
Schoffer, ever have believed that, by the division of labor,
their sublime invention would fall into the domain of
ignorance--I had almost said idiocy? There are few men so
weak-minded, so UNLETTERED, as the mass of workers who follow
the various branches of the typographic industry,-- compositors,
pressmen, type-founders, book-binders, and paper-makers. The
printer, as he existed even in the days of the Estiennes, has
become almost an abstraction. The employment of women in
type-setting has struck this noble industry to the heart, and
consummated its degradation. I have seen a female
compositor--and she was one of the best--who did not know how to
read, and was acquainted only with the forms of the letters.

The whole art has been withdrawn into the hands of foremen and
proof-readers, modest men of learning whom the impertinence of
authors and patrons still humiliates, and a few workmen who are
real artists. The press, in a word, fallen into mere mechanism,
is no longer, in its PERSONNEL, at the level of civilization:
soon there will be left of it but a few souvenirs.

I am told that the printers of Paris are endeavoring by
association to rise again from their degradation: may their
efforts not be exhausted in vain empiricism or misled into barren

After private industries, let us look at public administration.

In the public service, the effects of parcellaire labor are no
less frightful, no less intense: in all the departments of
administration, in proportion as the art develops, most of the
employees see their salaries diminish. A letter-carrier receives
from four hundred to six hundred francs per annum, of which the
administration retains about a tenth for the retiring pension.
After thirty years of labor, the pension, or rather the
restitution, is three hundred francs per annum, which, when given
to an alms-house by the pensioner, entitles him to a bed, soup,
and washing. My heart bleeds to say it, but I think,
nevertheless, that the administration is generous: what reward
would you give to a man whose whole function consists in walking?
The legend gives but FIVE SOUS to the Wandering Jew; the
letter-carriers receive twenty or thirty; true, the greater part
of them have a family. That part of the service which calls into
exercise the intellectual faculties is reserved for the
postmasters and clerks: these are better paid; they do the work
of men.

Everywhere, then, in public service as well as free industry,
things are so ordered that nine-tenths of the laborers serve as
beasts of burden for the other tenth: such is the inevitable
effect of industrial progress and the indispensable condition of
all wealth. It is important to look well at this elementary
truth before talking to the people of equality, liberty,
democratic institutions, and other utopias, the realization of
which involves a previous complete revolution in the relations of

The most remarkable effect of the division of labor is the decay
of literature.

In the Middle Ages and in antiquity the man of letters, a sort of
encyclopaedic doctor, a successor of the troubadour and the poet,
all-knowing, was almighty. Literature lorded it over society
with a high hand; kings sought the favor of authors, or revenged
themselves for their contempt by burning them,--them and their
books. This, too, was a way of recognizing literary sovereignty.

Today we have manufacturers, lawyers, doctors, bankers,
merchants, professors, engineers, librarians, etc.; we have no
men of letters. Or rather, whoever has risen to a remarkable
height in his profession is thereby and of necessity lettered:
literature, like the baccalaureate, has become an elementary part
of every profession. The man of letters, reduced to his simplest
expression, is the PUBLIC WRITER, a sort of writing commissioner
in the pay of everybody, whose best-known variety is the

It was a strange idea that occurred to the Chambers four years
ago,-- that of making a law on literary property! As if
henceforth the idea was not to become more and more the
all-important point, the style nothing. Thanks to God, there is
an end of parliamentary eloquence as of epic poetry and
mythology; the theatre rarely attracts business men and savants;
and while the connoisseurs are astonished at the decline of art,
the philosophic observer sees only the progress of manly reason,
troubled rather than rejoiced at these dainty trifles. The
interest in romance is sustained only as long as it resembles
reality; history is reducing itself to anthropological exegesis;
everywhere, indeed, the art of talking well appears as a
subordinate auxiliary of the idea, the fact. The worship of
speech, too mazy and slow for impatient minds, is neglected, and
its artifices are losing daily their power of seduction. The
language of the nineteenth century is made up of facts and
figures, and he is the most eloquent among us who, with the
fewest words, can say the most things. Whoever cannot speak this
language is mercilessly relegated to the ranks of the
rhetoricians; he is said to have no ideas.

In a young society the progress of letters necessarily outstrips
philosophical and industrial progress, and for a long time serves
for the expression of both. But there comes a day when thought
leaves language in the rear, and when, consequently, the
continued preeminence of literature in a society becomes a sure
symptom of decline. Language, in fact, is to every people the
collection of its native ideas, the encyclopaedia which
Providence first reveals to it; it is the field which its reason
must cultivate before directly attacking Nature through
observation and experience. Now, as soon as a nation, after
having exhausted the knowledge contained in its vocabulary,
instead of pursuing its education by a superior philosophy, wraps
itself in its poetic mantle, and begins to play with its periods
and its hemistichs, we may safely say that such a society is
lost. Everything in it will become subtle, narrow, and false; it
will not have even the advantage of maintaining in its splendor
the language of which it is foolishly enamored; instead of going
forward in the path of the geniuses of transition, the Tacituses,
the Thucydides, the Machiavels, and the Montesquieus, it will be
seen to fall, with irresistible force, from the majesty of Cicero
to the subtleties of Seneca, the antitheses of St. Augustine, and
the puns of St. Bernard.

Let no one, then, be deceived: from the moment that the mind, at
first entirely occupied with speech, passes to experience and
labor, the man of letters, properly speaking, is simply the puny
personification of the least of our faculties; and literature,
the refuse of intelligent industry, finds a market only with the
idlers whom it amuses and the proletaires whom it fascinates, the
jugglers who besiege power and the charlatans who shelter
themselves behind it, the hierophants of divine right who blow
the trumpet of Sinai, and the fanatical proclaimers of the
sovereignty of the people, whose few mouth-pieces, compelled to
practise their tribunician eloquence from tombs until they can
shower it from the height of rostrums, know no better than to
give to the public parodies of Gracchus and Demosthenes.

All the powers of society, then, agree in indefinitely
deteriorating the condition of the parcellaire laborer; and
experience, universally confirming the theory, proves that this
worker is condemned to misfortune from his mother's womb, no
political reform, no association of interests, no effort either
of public charity or of instruction, having the power to aid him.

The various specifics proposed in these latter days, far from
being able to cure the evil, would tend rather to inflame it by
irritation; and all that has been written on this point has only
exhibited in a clear light the vicious circle of political

This we shall demonstrate in a few words.

% 2.--Impotence of palliatives.--MM. Blanqui, Chevalier, Dunoyer,
Rossi, and Passy.

All the remedies proposed for the fatal effects of parcellaire
division may be reduced to two, which really are but one, the
second being the inversion of the first: to raise the mental and
moral condition of the workingman by increasing his comfort and
dignity; or else, to prepare the way for his future emancipation
and happiness by instruction.

We will examine successively these two systems, one of which is
represented by M. Blanqui, the other by M. Chevalier.

M. Blanqui is a friend of association and progress, a writer of
democratic tendencies, a professor who has a place in the hearts
of the proletariat. In his opening discourse of the year 1845,
M. Blanqui proclaimed, as a means of salvation, the association
of labor and capital, the participation of the working man in the
profits,--that is, a beginning of industrial solidarity. "Our
century," he exclaimed, "must witness the birth of the collective
producer." M. Blanqui forgets that the collective producer was
born long since, as well as the collective consumer, and that the
question is no longer a genetic, but a medical, one. Our task is
to cause the blood proceeding from the collective digestion,
instead of rushing wholly to the head, stomach, and lungs, to
descend also into the legs and arms. Besides, I do not know what
method M. Blanqui proposes to employ in order to realize his
generous thought,--whether it be the establishment of national
workshops, or the loaning of capital by the State, or the
expropriation of the conductors of business enterprises and the
substitution for them of industrial associations, or, finally,
whether he will rest content with a recommendation of the
savings bank to workingmen, in which case the participation would
be put off till doomsday.

However this may be, M. Blanqui's idea amounts simply to an
increase of wages resulting from the copartnership, or at least
from the interest in the business, which he confers upon the
laborers. What, then, is the value to the laborer of a
participation in the profits?

A mill with fifteen thousand spindles, employing three hundred
hands, does not pay at present an annual dividend of twenty
thousand francs. I am informed by a Mulhouse manufacturer that
factory stocks in Alsace are generally below par and that this
industry has already become a means of getting money by
STOCK-JOBBING instead of by LABOR. To SELL; to sell at the
right time; to sell dear,--is the only object in view; to
manufacture is only to prepare for a sale. When I assume, then,
on an average, a profit of twenty thousand francs to a factory
employing three hundred persons, my argument being general, I am
twenty thousand francs out of the way. Nevertheless, we will
admit the correctness of this amount. Dividing twenty thousand
francs, the profit of the mill, by three hundred, the number of
persons, and again by three hundred, the number of working days,
I find an increase of pay for each person of twenty-two and
one-fifth centimes, or for daily expenditure an addition of
eighteen centimes, just a morsel of bread. Is it worth while,
then, for this, to expropriate mill-owners and endanger the
public welfare, by erecting establishments which must be
insecure, since, property being divided into infinitely small
shares, and being no longer supported by profit, business
enterprises would lack ballast, and would be unable to weather
commercial gales. And even if no expropriation was involved,
what a poor prospect to offer the working class is an
increase of eighteen centimes in return for centuries of economy;
for no less time than this would be needed to accumulate the
requisite capital, supposing that periodical suspensions of
business did not periodically consume its savings!

The fact which I have just stated has been pointed out in several
ways. M. Passy[13] himself took from the books of a mill in
Normandy where the laborers were associated with the owner the
wages of several families for a period of ten years, and he found
that they averaged from twelve to fourteen hundred francs per
year. He then compared the situation of mill-hands paid in
proportion to the prices obtained by their employers with that of
laborers who receive fixed wages, and found that the difference
is almost imperceptible. This result might easily have been
foreseen. Economic phenomena obey laws as abstract and immutable
as those of numbers: it is only privilege, fraud, and absolutism
which disturb the eternal harmony.

[13] Meeting of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences,
September, 1845.

M. Blanqui, repentant, as it seems, at having taken this first
step toward socialistic ideas, has made haste to retract his
words. At the same meeting in which M. Passy demonstrated the
inadequacy of cooperative association, he exclaimed: "Does it
not seem that labor is a thing susceptible of organization, and
that it is in the power of the State to regulate the happiness of
humanity as it does the march of an army, and with an entirely
mathematical precision? This is an evil tendency, a delusion
which the Academy cannot oppose too strongly, because it is not
only a chimera, but a dangerous sophism. Let us respect good and
honest intentions; but let us not fear to say that to publish a
book upon the ORGANIZATION OF LABOR is to rewrite for the
fiftieth time a treatise upon the quadrature of the circle or the
philosopher's stone."

Then, carried away by his zeal, M. Blanqui finishes the
destruction of his theory of cooperation, which M. Passy already
had so rudely shaken, by the following example: "M. Dailly, one
of the most enlightened of farmers, has drawn up an account for
each piece of land and an account for each product; and he proves
that within a period of thirty years the same man has never
obtained equal crops from the same piece of land. The products
have varied from twenty-six thousand francs to nine thousand or
seven thousand francs, sometimes descending as low as three
hundred francs. There are also certain products--potatoes, for
instance--which fail one time in ten. How, then, with these
variations and with revenues so uncertain, can we establish even
distribution and uniform wages for laborers? . . . ."

It might be answered that the variations in the product of each
piece of land simply indicate that it is necessary to associate
proprietors with each other after having associated laborers with
proprietors, which would establish a more complete solidarity:
but this would be a prejudgment on the very thing in question,
which M. Blanqui definitively decides, after reflection, to be
unattainable,--namely, the organization of labor. Besides, it is
evident that solidarity would not add an obolus to the common
wealth, and that, consequently, it does not even touch the
problem of division.

In short, the profit so much envied, and often a very uncertain
matter with employers, falls far short of the difference between
actual wages and the wages desired; and M. Blanqui's former plan,
miserable in its results and disavowed by its author, would be a
scourge to the manufacturing industry. Now, the division of
labor being henceforth universally established, the argument is
generalized, and leads us to the conclusion that MISERY IS AN
EFFECT OF LABOR, as well as of idleness.

The answer to this is, and it is a favorite argument with the
people: Increase the price of services; double and triple wages.

I confess that if such an increase was possible it would be a
complete success, whatever M. Chevalier may have said, who needs
to be slightly corrected on this point.

According to M. Chevalier, if the price of any kind of
merchandise whatever is increased, other kinds will rise in a
like proportion, and no one will benefit thereby.

This argument, which the economists have rehearsed for more than
a century, is as false as it is old, and it belonged to M.
Chevalier, as an engineer, to rectify the economic tradition.
The salary of a head clerk being ten francs per day, and the
wages of a workingman four, if the income of each is increased
five francs, the ratio of their fortunes, which was formerly as
one hundred to forty, will be thereafter as one hundred to sixty.

The increase of wages, necessarily taking place by addition and
not by proportion, would be, therefore, an excellent method of
equalization; and the economists would deserve to have thrown
back at them by the socialists the reproach of ignorance which
they have bestowed upon them at random.

But I say that such an increase is impossible, and that the
supposition is absurd: for, as M. Chevalier has shown very
clearly elsewhere, the figure which indicates the price of the
day's labor is only an algebraic exponent without effect on the
reality: and that which it is necessary first to endeavor to
increase, while correcting the inequalities of distribution, is
not the monetary expression, but the quantity of products. Till
then every rise of wages can have no other effect than that
produced by a rise of the price of wheat, wine, meat, sugar,
soap, coal, etc.,--that is, the effect of a scarcity. For what
is wages?

It is the cost price of wheat, wine, meat, coal; it is the
integrant price of all things. Let us go farther yet: wages is
the proportionality of the elements which compose wealth, and
which are consumed every day reproductively by the mass of
laborers. Now, to double wages, in the sense in which the people
understand the words, is to give to each producer a share greater
than his product, which is contradictory: and if the rise
pertains only to a few industries, a general disturbance in
exchange ensues,--that is, a scarcity. God save me from
predictions! but, in spite of my desire for the amelioration of
the lot of the working class, I declare that it is impossible for
strikes followed by an increase of wages to end otherwise than in
a general rise in prices: that is as certain as that two and two
make four. It is not by such methods that the workingmen will
attain to wealth and--what is a thousand times more precious than
wealth--liberty. The workingmen, supported by the favor of an
indiscreet press, in demanding an increase of wages, have served
monopoly much better than their own real interests: may they
recognize, when their situation shall become more painful, the
bitter fruit of their inexperience!

Convinced of the uselessness, or rather, of the fatal effects, of
an increase of wages, and seeing clearly that the question is
wholly organic and not at all commercial, M. Chevalier attacks
the problem at the other end. He asks for the working class,
first of all, instruction, and proposes extensive reforms in this

Instruction! this is also M. Arago's word to the workingmen; it
is the principle of all progress. Instruction! . . . . It
should be known once for all what may be expected from it in the
solution of the problem before us; it should be known, I say, not
whether it is desirable that all should receive it,--this no one
doubts,--but whether it is possible.

To clearly comprehend the complete significance of M. Chevalier's
views, a knowledge of his methods is indispensable.

M. Chevalier, long accustomed to discipline, first by his
polytechnic studies, then by his St. Simonian connections, and
finally by his position in the University, does not seem to admit
that a pupil can have any other inclination than to obey the
regulations, a sectarian any other thought than that of his
chief, a public functionary any other opinion than that of the
government. This may be a conception of order as respectable as
any other, and I hear upon this subject no expressions of
approval or censure. Has M. Chevalier an idea to offer peculiar
to himself? On the principle that all that is not forbidden by
law is allowed, he hastens to the front to deliver his opinion,
and then abandons it to give his adhesion, if there is occasion,
to the opinion of authority. It was thus that M. Chevalier,
before settling down in the bosom of the Constitution, joined M.
Enfantin: it was thus that he gave his views upon canals,
railroads, finance, property, long before the administration had
adopted any system in relation to the construction of railways,
the changing of the rate of interest on bonds, patents, literary
property, etc.

M. Chevalier, then, is not a blind admirer of the University
system of instruction,--far from it; and until the appearance of
the new order of things, he does not hesitate to say what he
thinks. His opinions are of the most radical.

M. Villemain had said in his report: "The object of the higher
education is to prepare in advance a choice of men to occupy and
serve in all the positions of the administration, the magistracy,
the bar and the various liberal professions, including the higher
ranks and learned specialties of the army and navy."

"The higher education," thereupon observes M. Chevalier,[14] "is
designed also to prepare men some of whom shall be farmers,
others manufacturers, these merchants, and those private
engineers. Now, in the official programme, all these classes are
forgotten. The omission is of considerable importance; for,
indeed, industry in its various forms, agriculture, commerce, are
neither accessories nor accidents in a State: they are its chief
dependence. . . . If the University desires to justify its name,
it must provide a course in these things; else an INDUSTRIAL
UNIVERSITY will be established in opposition to it. . . . We
shall have altar against altar, etc. . . ."

[14] Journal des Economistes," April, 1843.

And as it is characteristic of a luminous idea to throw light on
all questions connected with it, professional instruction
furnishes M. Chevalier with a very expeditious method of
deciding, incidentally, the quarrel between the clergy and the
University on liberty of education.

"It must be admitted that a very great concession is made to the
clergy in allowing Latin to serve as the basis of education. The
clergy know Latin as well as the University; it is their own
tongue. Their tuition, moreover, is cheaper; hence they must
inevitably draw a large portion of our youth into their small
seminaries and their schools of a higher grade. . . ."

The conclusion of course follows: change the course of study, and
you decatholicize the realm; and as the clergy know only Latin
and the Bible, when they have among them neither masters of art,
nor farmers, nor accountants; when, of their forty thousand
priests, there are not twenty, perhaps, with the ability to make
a plan or forge a nail,--we soon shall see which the fathers of
families will choose, industry or the breviary, and whether they
do not regard labor as the most beautiful language in which to
pray to God.

Thus would end this ridiculous opposition between religious
education and profane science, between the spiritual and the
temporal, between reason and faith, between altar and throne, old
rubrics henceforth meaningless, but with which they still impose
upon the good nature of the public, until it takes offence.

M. Chevalier does not insist, however, on this solution: he knows
that religion and monarchy are two powers which, though
continually quarrelling, cannot exist without each other; and
that he may not awaken suspicion, he launches out into another
revolutionary idea,--equality.

"France is in a position to furnish the polytechnic school with
twenty times as many scholars as enter at present (the average
being one hundred and seventy-six, this would amount to three
thousand five hundred and twenty). The University has but to say
the word. . . . If my opinion was of any weight, I should
maintain that mathematical capacity is MUCH LESS SPECIAL than is
commonly supposed. I remember the success with which children,
taken at random, so to speak, from the pavements of Paris, follow
the teaching of La Martiniere by the method of Captain Tabareau."

If the higher education, reconstructed according to the views of
M. Chevalier, was sought after by all young French men instead of
by only ninety thousand as commonly, there would be no
exaggeration in raising the estimate of the number of minds
mathematically inclined from three thousand five hundred and
twenty to ten thousand; but, by the same argument, we should have
ten thousand artists, philologists, and philosophers; ten
thousand doctors, physicians, chemists, and naturalists; ten
thousand economists, legists, and administrators; twenty thousand
manufacturers, foremen, merchants, and accountants; forty
thousand farmers, wine-growers, miners, etc.,--in all, one
hundred thousand specialists a year, or about one-third of our
youth. The rest, having, instead of special adaptations, only
mingled adaptations, would be distributed indifferently

It is certain that so powerful an impetus given to intelligence
would quicken the progress of equality, and I do not doubt that
such is the secret desire of M. Chevalier. But that is precisely
what troubles me: capacity is never wanting, any more than
population, and the problem is to find employment for the one and
bread for the other. In vain does M. Chevalier tell us: "The
higher education would give less ground for the complaint that it
throws into society crowds of ambitious persons without any means
of satisfying their desires, and interested in the overthrow of
the State; people without employment and unable to get any, good
for nothing and believing themselves fit for anything, especially
for the direction of public affairs. Scientific studies do not
so inflate the mind. They enlighten and regulate it at once;
they fit men for practical life. . . ." Such language, I reply,
is good to use with patriarchs: a professor of political economy
should have more respect for his position and his audience. The
government has only one hundred and twenty offices annually at
its disposal for one hundred and seventy-six students
admitted to the polytechnic school: what, then, would be its
embarrassment if the number of admissions was ten thousand, or
even, taking M. Chevalier's figures, three thousand five hundred?

And, to generalize, the whole number of civil positions is sixty
thousand, or three thousand vacancies annually; what dismay would
the government be thrown into if, suddenly adopting the
reformatory ideas of M. Chevalier, it should find itself besieged
by fifty thousand office- seekers! The following objection has
often been made to republicans without eliciting a reply: When
everybody shall have the electoral privilege, will the deputies
do any better, and will the proletariat be further advanced? I
ask the same question of M. Chevalier: When each academic year
shall bring you one hundred thousand fitted men, what will you do
with them?

To provide for these interesting young people, you will go down
to the lowest round of the ladder. You will oblige the young
man, after fifteen years of lofty study, to begin, no longer as
now with the offices of aspirant engineer, sub-lieutenant of
artillery, second lieutenant, deputy, comptroller, general
guardian, etc., but with the ignoble positions of pioneer,
train-soldier, dredger, cabin-boy, fagot- maker, and exciseman.
There he will wait, until death, thinning the ranks, enables him
to advance a step. Under such circumstances a man, a graduate of
the polytechnic school and capable of becoming a Vauban, may die
a laborer on a second class road, or a corporal in a regiment

Oh! how much more prudent Catholicism has shown itself, and how
far it has surpassed you all, St. Simonians, republicans,
university men, economists, in the knowledge of man and society!
The priest knows that our life is but a voyage, and that our
perfection cannot be realized here below; and he contents
himself with outlining on earth an education which must be
completed in heaven. The man whom religion has moulded, content
to know, do, and obtain what suffices for his earthly destiny,
never can become a source of embarrassment to the government:
rather would he be a martyr. O beloved religion! is it necessary
that a bourgeoisie which stands in such need of you should disown
you? . . . Into what terrible struggles of pride and misery
does this mania for universal instruction plunge us! Of what use
is professional education, of what good are agricultural and
commercial schools, if your students have neither employment nor
capital? And what need to cram one's self till the age of twenty
with all sorts of knowledge, then to fasten the threads of a
mule-jenny or pick coal at the bottom of a pit? What! you have
by your own confession only three thousand positions annually to
bestow upon fifty thousand possible capacities, and yet you talk
of establishing schools! Cling rather to your system of
exclusion and privilege, a system as old as the world, the
support of dynasties and patriciates, a veritable machine for
gelding men in order to secure the pleasures of a caste of
Sultans. Set a high price upon your teaching, multiply
obstacles, drive away, by lengthy tests, the son of the
proletaire whom hunger does not permit to wait, and protect with
all your power the ecclesiastical schools, where the students are
taught to labor for the other life, to cultivate resignation, to
fast, to respect those in high places, to love the king, and to
pray to God. For every useless study sooner or later becomes an
abandoned study: knowledge is poison to slaves.

Surely M. Chevalier has too much sagacity not to have seen the
consequences of his idea. But he has spoken from the bottom of
his heart, and we can only applaud his good intentions: men must
first be men; after that, he may live who can.

Thus we advance at random, guided by Providence, who never warns
us except with a blow: this is the beginning and end of political

Contrary to M. Chevalier, professor of political economy at the
College of France, M. Dunoyer, an economist of the Institute,
does not wish instruction to be organized. The organization of
instruction is a species of organization of labor; therefore, no
organization. Instruction, observes M. Dunoyer, is a profession,
not a function of the State; like all professions, it ought to be
and remain free. It is communism, it is socialism, it is the
revolutionary tendency, whose principal agents have been
Robespierre, Napoleon, Louis XVIII, and M. Guizot, which have
thrown into our midst these fatal ideas of the centralization and
absorption of all activity in the State. The press is very free,
and the pen of the journalist is an object of merchandise;
religion, too, is very free, and every wearer of a gown, be it
short or long, who knows how to excite public curiosity, can draw
an audience about him. M. Lacordaire has his devotees, M. Leroux
his apostles, M. Buchez his convent. Why, then, should not
instruction also be free? If the right of the instructed, like
that of the buyer, is unquestionable, and that of the instructor,
who is only a variety of the seller, is its correlative, it is
impossible to infringe upon the liberty of instruction without
doing violence to the most precious of liberties, that of the
conscience. And then, adds M. Dunoyer, if the State owes
instruction to everybody, it will soon be maintained that it owes
labor; then lodging; then shelter. . . . Where does that lead

The argument of M. Dunoyer is irrefutable: to organize
instruction is to give to every citizen a pledge of liberal
employment and comfortable wages; the two are as intimately
connected as the circulation of the arteries and the veins. But
M. Dunoyer's theory implies also that progress belongs only to a
certain select portion of humanity, and that barbarism is the
eternal lot of nine-tenths of the human race. It is this which
constitutes, according to M. Dunoyer, the very essence of
society, which manifests itself in three stages, religion,
hierarchy, and beggary. So that in this system, which is that of
Destutt de Tracy, Montesquieu, and Plato, the antinomy of
division, like that of value, is without solution.

It is a source of inexpressible pleasure to me, I confess, to see
M. Chevalier, a defender of the centralization of instruction,
opposed by M. Dunoyer, a defender of liberty; M. Dunoyer in his
turn antagonized by M. Guizot; M. Guizot, the representative of
the centralizers, contradicting the Charter, which posits liberty
as a principle; the Charter trampled under foot by the University
men, who lay sole claim to the privilege of teaching, regardless
of the express command of the Gospel to the priests: GO AND
TEACH. And above all this tumult of economists, legislators,
ministers, academicians, professors, and priests, economic
Providence giving the lie to the Gospel, and shouting:
Pedagogues! what use am I to make of your instruction?

Who will relieve us of this anxiety? M. Rossi leans toward
eclecticism: Too little divided, he says, labor remains
unproductive; too much divided, it degrades man. Wisdom lies
between these extremes; in medio virtus. Unfortunately this
intermediate wisdom is only a small amount of poverty joined with
a small amount of wealth, so that the condition is not
modified in the least. The proportion of good and evil, instead
of being as one hundred to one hundred, becomes as fifty to
fifty: in this we may take, once for all, the measure of
eclecticism. For the rest, M. Rossi's juste-milieu is in direct
opposition to the great economic law: TO PRODUCE WITH THE LEAST
Now, how can labor fulfil its destiny without an extreme
division? Let us look farther, if you please.

"All economic systems and hypotheses," says M. Rossi, "belong to
the economist, but the intelligent, free, responsible man is
under the control of the moral law. . . Political economy is
only a science which examines the relations of things, and draws
conclusions therefrom. It examines the effects of labor; in the
application of labor, you should consider the importance of the
object in view. When the application of labor is unfavorable to
an object higher than the production of wealth, it should not be
applied. . . Suppose that it would increase the national wealth
to compel children to labor fifteen hours a day: morality would
say that that is not allowable. Does that prove that political
economy is false? No; that proves that you confound things which
should be kept separate."

If M. Rossi had a little more of that Gallic simplicity so
difficult for foreigners to acquire, he would very summarily have
THROWN HIS TONGUE TO THE DOGS, as Madame de Sevigne said. But a
professor must talk, talk, talk, not for the sake of saying
anything, but in order to avoid silence. M. Rossi takes three
turns around the question, then lies down: that is enough to make
certain people believe that he has answered it.

It is surely a sad symptom for a science when, in developing
itself according to its own principles, it reaches its object
just in time to be contradicted by another; as, for example, when
the postulates of political economy are found to be opposed to
those of morality, for I suppose that morality is a science as
well as political economy. What, then, is human knowledge, if
all its affirmations destroy each other, and on what shall we
rely? Divided labor is a slave's occupation, but it alone is
really productive; undivided labor belongs to the free man, but
it does not pay its expenses. On the one hand, political economy
tells us to be rich; on the other, morality tells us to be free;
and M. Rossi, speaking in the name of both, warns us at the same
time that we can be neither free nor rich, for to be but half of
either is to be neither. M. Rossi's doctrine, then, far from
satisfying this double desire of humanity, is open to the
objection that, to avoid exclusiveness, it strips us of
everything: it is, under another form, the history of the
representative system.

But the antagonism is even more profound than M. Rossi has
supposed. For since, according to universal experience (on this
point in harmony with theory), wages decrease in proportion to
the division of labor, it is clear that, in submitting ourselves
to parcellaire slavery, we thereby shall not obtain wealth; we
shall only change men into machines: witness the laboring
population of the two worlds. And since, on the other hand,
without the division of labor, society falls back into barbarism,
it is evident also that, by sacrificing wealth, we shall not
obtain liberty: witness all the wandering tribes of Asia and
Africa. Therefore it is necessary--economic science and morality
absolutely command it--for us to solve the problem of division:
now, where are the economists? More than thirty years ago,
Lemontey, developing a remark of Smith, exposed the demoralizing
and homicidal influence of the division of labor. What has
been the reply; what investigations have been made; what remedies
proposed; has the question even been understood?

Every year the economists report, with an exactness which I would
commend more highly if I did not see that it is always fruitless,
the commercial condition of the States of Europe. They know how
many yards of cloth, pieces of silk, pounds of iron, have been
manufactured; what has been the consumption per head of wheat,
wine, sugar, meat: it might be said that to them the ultimate of
science is to publish inventories, and the object of their labor
is to become general comptrollers of nations. Never did such a
mass of material offer so fine a field for investigation. What
has been found; what new principle has sprung from this mass;
what solution of the many problems of long standing has been
reached; what new direction have studies taken?

One question, among others, seems to have been prepared for a
final judgment,--pauperism. Pauperism, of all the phenomena of
the civilized world, is today the best known: we know pretty
nearly whence it comes, when and how it arrives, and what it
costs; its proportion at various stages of civilization has been
calculated, and we have convinced ourselves that all the
specifics with which it hitherto has been fought have been
impotent. Pauperism has been divided into genera, species, and
varieties: it is a complete natural history, one of the most
important branches of anthropology. Well I the unquestionable
result of all the facts collected, unseen, shunned, covered by
the economists with their silence, is that pauperism is
constitutional and chronic in society as long as the antagonism
between labor and capital continues, and that this antagonism can
end only by the absolute negation of political economy.
What issue from this labyrinth have the economists discovered?

This last point deserves a moment's attention.

In primitive communism misery, as I have observed in a preceding
paragraph, is the universal condition.

Labor is war declared upon this misery.

Labor organizes itself, first by division, next by machinery,
then by competition, etc.

Now, the question is whether it is not in the essence of this
organization, as given us by political economy, at the same time
that it puts an end to the misery of some, to aggravate that of
others in a fatal and unavoidable manner. These are the terms in
which the question of pauperism must be stated, and for this
reason we have undertaken to solve it.

What means, then, this eternal babble of the economists about the
improvidence of laborers, their idleness, their want of dignity,
their ignorance, their debauchery, their early marriages, etc.?
All these vices and excesses are only the cloak of pauperism; but
the cause, the original cause which inexorably holds four-fifths
of the human race in disgrace,--what is it? Did not Nature make
all men equally gross, averse to labor, wanton, and wild? Did
not patrician and proletaire spring from the same clay? Then how
happens it that, after so many centuries, and in spite of so many
miracles of industry, science, and art, comfort and culture have
not become the inheritance of all? How happens it that in Paris
and London, centres of social wealth, poverty is as hideous as in
the days of Caesar and Agricola? Why, by the side of this
refined aristocracy, has the mass remained so uncultivated? It
is laid to the vices of the people: but the vices of the upper
class appear to be no less; perhaps they are even greater. The
original stain affected all alike: how happens it, once more,
that the baptism of civilization has not been equally efficacious
for all? Does this not show that progress itself is a privilege,
and that the man who has neither wagon nor horse is forced to
flounder about for ever in the mud? What do I say? The totally
destitute man has no desire to improve: he has fallen so low that
ambition even is extinguished in his heart.

"Of all the private virtues," observes M. Dunoyer with infinite
reason, "the most necessary, that which gives us all the others
in succession, is the passion for well-being, is the violent
desire to extricate one's self from misery and abjection, is that
spirit of emulation and dignity which does not permit men to rest
content with an inferior situation. . . . But this sentiment,
which seems so natural, is unfortunately much less common than is
thought. There are few reproaches which the generality of men
deserve less than that which ascetic moralists bring against them
of being too fond of their comforts: the opposite reproach might
be brought against them with infinitely more justice. . . .
There is even in the nature of men this very remarkable feature,
that the less their knowledge and resources, the less desire they
have of acquiring these. The most miserable savages and the
least enlightened of men are precisely those in whom it is most
difficult to arouse wants, those in whom it is hardest to inspire
the desire to rise out of their condition; so that man must
already have gained a certain degree of comfort by his labor,
before he can feel with any keenness that need of improving his
condition, of perfecting his existence, which I call the love of

[15] "The Liberty of Labor," Vol. II, p. 80.

Thus the misery of the laboring classes arises in general from
their lack of heart and mind, or, as M. Passy has said somewhere,
from the weakness, the inertia of their moral and intellectual
faculties. This inertia is due to the fact that the said
laboring classes, still half savage, do not have a sufficiently
ardent desire to ameliorate their condition: this M. Dunoyer
shows. But as this absence of desire is itself the effect of
misery, it follows that misery and apathy are each other's effect
and cause, and that the proletariat turns in a circle.

To rise out of this abyss there must be either well-being,--that
is, a gradual increase of wages,--or intelligence and
courage,--that is, a gradual development of faculties: two things
diametrically opposed to the degradation of soul and body which
is the natural effect of the division of labor. The misfortune
of the proletariat, then, is wholly providential, and to
undertake to extinguish it in the present state of political
economy would be to produce a revolutionary whirlwind.

For it is not without a profound reason, rooted in the loftiest
considerations of morality, that the universal conscience,
expressing itself by turns through the selfishness of the rich
and the apathy of the proletariat, denies a reward to the man
whose whole function is that of a lever and spring. If, by some
impossibility, material well-being could fall to the lot of the
parcellaire laborer, we should see something monstrous happen:
the laborers employed at disagreeable tasks would become like
those Romans, gorged with the wealth of the world, whose
brutalized minds became incapable of devising new pleasures.
Well-being without education stupefies people and makes them
insolent: this was noticed in the most ancient times.
Incrassatus est, et recalcitravit, says Deuteronomy. For
the rest, the parcellaire laborer has judged himself: he is
content, provided he has bread, a pallet to sleep on, and plenty
of liquor on Sunday. Any other condition would be prejudicial to
him, and would endanger public order.

At Lyons there is a class of men who, under cover of the monopoly
given them by the city government, receive higher pay than
college professors or the head-clerks of the government
ministers: I mean the porters. The price of loading and
unloading at certain wharves in Lyons, according to the schedule
of the Rigues or porters' associations, is thirty centimes per
hundred kilogrammes. At this rate, it is not seldom that a man
earns twelve, fifteen, and even twenty francs a day: he only has
to carry forty or fifty sacks from a vessel to a warehouse. It
is but a few hours' work. What a favorable condition this would
be for the development of intelligence, as well for children as
for parents, if, of itself and the leisure which it brings,
wealth was a moralizing principle! But this is not the case: the
porters of Lyons are today what they always have been, drunken,
dissolute, brutal, insolent, selfish, and base. It is a painful
thing to say, but I look upon the following declaration as a
duty, because it is the truth: one of the first reforms to be
effected among the laboring classes will be the reduction of the
wages of some at the same time that we raise those of others.
Monopoly does not gain in respectability by belonging to the
lowest classes of people, especially when it serves to maintain
only the grossest individualism. The revolt of the silk-workers
met with no sympathy, but rather hostility, from the porters and
the river population generally. Nothing that happens off the
wharves has any power to move them. Beasts of burden fashioned
in advance for despotism, they will not mingle with politics as
long as their privilege is maintained. Nevertheless, I ought to
say in their defence that, some time ago, the necessities of
competition having brought their prices down, more social
sentiments began to awaken in these gross natures: a few more
reductions seasoned with a little poverty, and the Rigues of
Lyons will be chosen as the storming-party when the time comes
for assaulting the bastilles.

In short, it is impossible, contradictory, in the present system
of society, for the proletariat to secure well-being through
education or education through well-being. For, without
considering the fact that the proletaire, a human machine, is as
unfit for comfort as for education, it is demonstrated, on the
one hand, that his wages continually tend to go down rather than
up, and, on the other, that the cultivation of his mind, if it
were possible, would be useless to him; so that he always
inclines towards barbarism and misery. Everything that has been
attempted of late years in France and England with a view to the
amelioration of the condition of the poor in the matters of the
labor of women and children and of primary instruction, unless it
was the fruit of some hidden thought of radicalism, has been done
contrary to economic ideas and to the prejudice of the
established order. Progress, to the mass of laborers, is always
the book sealed with the seven seals; and it is not by
legislative misconstructions that the relentless enigma will be

For the rest, if the economists, by exclusive attention to their
old routine, have finally lost all knowledge of the present state
of things, it cannot be said that the socialists have better
solved the antinomy which division of labor raised. Quite the
contrary, they have stopped with negation; for is it not
perpetual negation to oppose, for instance, the uniformity of
parcellaire labor with a so-called variety in which each one can
change his occupation ten, fifteen, twenty times a day at will?

As if to change ten, fifteen, twenty times a day from one kind of
divided labor to another was to make labor synthetic; as if,
consequently, twenty fractions of the day's work of a manual
laborer could be equal to the day's work of an artist! Even if
such industrial vaulting was practicable,--and it may be asserted
in advance that it would disappear in the presence of the
necessity of making laborers responsible and therefore functions
personal,--it would not change at all the physical, moral, and
intellectual condition of the laborer; the dissipation would only
be a surer guarantee of his incapacity and, consequently, his
dependence. This is admitted, moreover, by the organizers,
communists, and others. So far are they from pretending to solve
the antinomy of division that all of them admit, as an essential
condition of organization, the hierarchy of labor,--that is, the
classification of laborers into parcellaires and generalizers or
organizers,--and in all utopias the distinction of capacities,
the basis or everlasting excuse for inequality of goods, is
admitted as a pivot. Those reformers whose schemes have nothing
to recommend them but logic, and who, after having complained of
the SIMPLISM, monotony, uniformity, and extreme division of
labor, then propose a PLURALITY as a SYNTHESIS,--such inventors,
I say, are judged already, and ought to be sent back to school.

But you, critic, the reader undoubtedly will ask, what is your
solution? Show us this synthesis which, retaining the
responsibility, the personality, in short, the specialty of the
laborer, will unite extreme division and the greatest variety in
one complex and harmonious whole.

My reply is ready: Interrogate facts, consult humanity: we can
choose no better guide. After the oscillations of value,
division of labor is the economic fact which influences most
perceptibly profits and wages. It is the first stake driven by
Providence into the soil of industry, the starting-point of the
immense triangulation which finally must determine the right and
duty of each and all. Let us, then, follow our guides, without
which we can only wander and lose ourselves.

Tu longe sequere, et vestigia semper adora.



"I have witnessed with profound regret the CONTINUANCE OF
DISTRESS in the manufacturing districts of the country."

Words of Queen Victoria on the reassembling of parliament.

If there is anything of a nature to cause sovereigns to reflect,
it is that, more or less impassible spectators of human
calamities, they are, by the very constitution of society and the
nature of their power, absolutely powerless to cure the
sufferings of their subjects; they are even prohibited from
paying any attention to them. Every question of labor and wages,
say with one accord the economic and representative theorists,
must remain outside of the attributes of power. From the height
of the glorious sphere where religion has placed them, thrones,
dominations, principalities, powers, and all the heavenly host
view the torment of society, beyond the reach of its stress; but
their power does not extend over the winds and floods. Kings can
do nothing for the salvation of mortals. And, in truth, these
theorists are right: the prince is established to maintain, not
to revolutionize; to protect reality, not to bring about utopia.
He represents one of the antagonistic principles: hence, if he
were to establish harmony, he would eliminate himself, which
on his part would be sovereignly unconstitutional and absurd.

But as, in spite of theories, the progress of ideas is
incessantly changing the external form of institutions in such a
way as to render continually necessary exactly that which the
legislator neither desires nor foresees,--so that, for instance,
questions of taxation become questions of distribution; those of
public utility, questions of national labor and industrial
organization; those of finance, operations of credit; and those
of international law, questions of customs duties and
markets,--it stands as demonstrated that the prince, who,
according to theory, should never interfere with things which
nevertheless, without theory's foreknowledge, are daily and
irresistibly becoming matters of government, is and can be
henceforth, like Divinity from which he emanates, whatever may be
said, only an hypothesis, a fiction.

And finally, as it is impossible that the prince and the
interests which it is his mission to defend should consent to
diminish and disappear before emergent principles and new rights
posited, it follows that progress, after being accomplished in
the mind insensibly, is realized in society by leaps, and that
force, in spite of the calumny of which it is the object, is the
necessary condition of reforms. Every society in which the power
of insurrection is suppressed is a society dead to progress:
there is no truth of history better proven.

And what I say of constitutional monarchies is equally true of
representative democracies: everywhere the social compact has
united power and conspired against life, it being impossible for
the legislator either to see that he was working against his own
ends or to proceed otherwise.

Monarchs and representatives, pitiable actors in
parliamentary comedies, this in the last analysis is what
you are: talismans against the future! Every year brings you the
grievances of the people; and when you are asked for the remedy,
your wisdom covers its face! Is it necessary to support
privilege,--that is, that consecration of the right of the
strongest which created you and which is changing every day?
Promptly, at the slightest nod of your head, a numerous army
starts up, runs to arms, and forms in line of battle. And when
the people complain that, in spite of their labor and precisely
because of their labor, misery devours them, when society asks
you for life, you recite acts of mercy! All your energy is
expended for conservatism, all your virtue vanishes in
aspirations! Like the Pharisee, instead of feeding your father,
you pray for him! Ah! I tell you, we possess the secret of your
mission: you exist only to prevent us from living. Nolite ergo
imperare, get you gone!

As for us, who view the mission of power from quite another
standpoint, and who wish the special work of government to be
precisely that of exploring the future, searching for progress,
and securing for all liberty, equality, health, and wealth, we
continue our task of criticism courageously, entirely sure that,
when we have laid bare the cause of the evils of society, the
principle of its fevers, the motive of its disturbances, we shall
not lack the power to apply the remedy.

% 1.--Of the function of machinery in its relations to liberty.

The introduction of machinery into industry is accomplished in
opposition to the law of division, and as if to reestablish the
equilibrium profoundly compromised by that law. To truly
appreciate the significance of this movement and grasp its
spirit, a few general considerations become necessary.

Modern philosophers, after collecting and classifying their
annals, have been led by the nature of their labors to deal also
with history: then it was that they saw, not without surprise,
that the HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY was the same thing at bottom as
the PHILOSOPHY OF HISTORY; further, that these two branches of
speculation, so different in appearance, the history of
philosophy and the philosophy of history, were also only the
stage representation of the concepts of metaphysics, which is
philosophy entire.

Now, dividing the material of universal history among a certain
number of frames, such as mathematics, natural history, social
economy, etc., it will be found that each of these divisions
contains also metaphysics. And it will be the same down to the
last subdivision of the totality of history: so that entire
philosophy lies at the bottom of every natural or industrial
manifestation; that it is no respecter of degrees or qualities;
that, to rise to its sublimest conceptions, all prototypes may be
employed equally well; and, finally, that, all the postulates of
reason meeting in the most modest industry as well as in the most
general sciences, to make every artisan a philosopher,--that is,
a generalizing and highly synthetic mind,--it would be enough to
teach him--what? his profession.

Hitherto, it is true, philosophy, like wealth, has been reserved
for certain classes: we have the philosophy of history, the
philosophy of law, and some other philosophies also; this is a
sort of appropriation which, like many others of equally noble
origin, must disappear. But, to consummate this immense
equation, it is necessary to begin with the philosophy of labor,
after which each laborer will be able to attempt in his turn the
philosophy of his trade.
Thus every product of art and industry, every political and
religious constitution, like every creature organized or
unorganized, being only a realization, a natural or practical
application, of philosophy, the identity of the laws of nature
and reason, of being and idea, is demonstrated; and when, for our
own purpose, we establish the constant conformity of economic
phenomena to the pure laws of thought, the equivalence of the
real and the ideal in human facts, we only repeat in a particular
case this eternal demonstration.

What do we say, in fact?

To determine value,--in other words, to organize within itself
the production and distribution of wealth,--society proceeds
exactly as the mind does in the generation of concepts. First it
posits a primary fact, acts upon a primary hypothesis, the
division of labor, a veritable antinomy, the antagonistic results
of which are evolved in social economy, just as the consequences
might have been deduced in the mind: so that the industrial
movement, following in all respects the deduction of ideas, is
divided into a double current, one of useful effects, the other
of subversive results, all equally necessary and legitimate
products of the same law. To harmonically establish this
two-faced principle and solve this antinomy, society evokes a
second, soon to be followed by a third; and such will be the
progress of the social genius until, having exhausted all its
contradictions,--supposing, though it is not proved, that there
is an end to contradiction in humanity,--it shall cover with one
backward leap all its previous positions and in a single formula
solve all problems. In following in our exposition this
method of the parallel development of the reality and the idea,
we find a double advantage: first, that of escaping the reproach
of materialism, so often applied to economists, to whom facts are
truth simply because they are facts, and material facts. To us,
on the contrary, facts are not matter,--for we do not know what
the word matter means,--but visible manifestations of invisible
ideas. So viewed, the value of facts is measured by the idea
which they represent; and that is why we have rejected as
illegitimate and non-conclusive useful value and value in
exchange, and later the division of labor itself, although to the
economists all these have an absolute authority.

On the other hand, it is as impossible to accuse us of
spiritualism, idealism, or mysticism: for, admitting as a point
of departure only the external manifestation of the idea,--the
idea which we do not know, which does not exist, as long as it is
not reflected, like light, which would be nothing if the sun
existed by itself in an infinite void,--and brushing aside all a
priori reasoning upon theogony and cosmogony, all inquiry into
substance, cause, the me and the not-me, we confine ourselves to
searching for the LAWS of being and to following the order of
their appearance as far as reason can reach.

Doubtless all knowledge brings up at last against a mystery:
such, for instance, as matter and mind, both of which we admit as
two unknown essences, upon which all phenomena rest. But this is
not to say that mystery is the point of departure of knowledge,
or that mysticism is the necessary condition of logic: quite the
contrary, the spontaneity of our reason tends to the perpetual
rejection of mysticism; it makes an a priori protest against all
mystery, because it has no use for mystery except to deny it, and
because the negation of mysticism is the only thing for which
reason has no need of experience.

In short, human facts are the incarnation of human ideas:
therefore, to study the laws of social economy is to
constitute the theory of the laws of reason and create
philosophy. We may now pursue the course of our investigation.

At the end of the preceding chapter we left the laborer at
loggerheads with the law of division: how will this indefatigable
Oedipus manage to solve this enigma?

In society the incessant appearance of machinery is the
antithesis, the inverse formula, of the division of labor; it is
the protest of the industrial genius against parcellaire and
homicidal labor. What is a machine, in fact? A method of
reuniting divers particles of labor which division had separated.

Every machine may be defined as a summary of several operations,
a simplification of powers, a condensation of labor, a reduction
of costs. In all these respects machinery is the counterpart of
division. Therefore through machinery will come a restoration of
the parcellaire laborer, a decrease of toil for the workman, a
fall in the price of his product, a movement in the relation of
values, progress towards new discoveries, advancement of the
general welfare.

As the discovery of a formula gives a new power to the geometer,
so the invention of a machine is an abridgment of manual labor
which multiplies the power of the producer, from which it may be
inferred that the antinomy of the division of labor, if not
entirely destroyed, will be balanced and neutralized. No one
should fail to read the lectures of M. Chevalier setting forth
the innumerable advantages resulting to society from the
intervention of machinery; they make a striking picture to which
I take pleasure in referring my reader.

Machinery, positing itself in political economy in opposition to
the division of labor, represents synthesis opposing itself in
the human mind to analysis; and just as in the division of labor
and in machinery, as we shall soon see, political economy
entire is contained, so with analysis and synthesis goes the
possession of logic entire, of philosophy. The man who labors
proceeds necessarily and by turns by division and the aid of
tools; likewise, he who reasons performs necessarily and by turns
the operations of synthesis and analysis, nothing more,
absolutely nothing. And labor and reason will never get beyond
this: Prometheus, like Neptune, attains in three strides the
confines of the world.

From these principles, as simple and as luminous as axioms,
immense consequences follow.

As in the operation of the mind analysis and synthesis are
essentially inseparable, and as, looking at the matter from
another point, theory becomes legitimate only on condition of
following experience foot by foot, it follows that labor, uniting
analysis and synthesis, theory and experience, in a continuous
action,--labor, the external form of logic and consequently a
summary of reality and idea,--appears again as a universal method
of instruction. Fit fabricando faber: of all systems of
education the most absurd is that which separates intelligence
from activity, and divides man into two impossible entities,
theorizer and automaton. That is why we applaud the just
complaints of M. Chevalier, M. Dunoyer, and all those who demand
reform in university education; on that also rests the hope of
the results that we have promised ourselves from such reform. If
education were first of all experimental and practical, reserving
speech only to explain, summarize, and coordinate work; if those
who cannot learn with imagination and memory were permitted to
learn with their eyes and hands,--soon we should witness a
multiplication, not only of the forms of labor, but of
capacities; everybody, knowing the theory of something, would
thereby possess the language of philosophy; on occasion he
could, were it only for once in his life, create, modify,
perfect, give proof of intelligence and comprehension, produce
his master-piece, in a word, show himself a man. The inequality
in the acquisitions of memory would not affect the equivalence of
faculties, and genius would no longer seem to us other than what
it really is,--mental health.

The fine minds of the eighteenth century went into extended
disputations about what constitutes GENIUS, wherein it differs
from TALENT, what we should understand by MIND, etc. They had
transported into the intellectual sphere the same distinctions
that, in society, separate persons. To them there were kings and
rulers of genius, princes of genius, ministers of genius; and
then there were also noble minds and bourgeois minds, city

Book of the day: