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What is Property?

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production, the farmer must add, not one-sixth, but two-sixths to
his labor. At such a price, he pays a farm-rent which in God's
eyes he does not owe.

The tenant's example is followed by the manufacturer. The former
tills more land, and dispossesses his neighbors; the latter
lowers the price of his merchandise, and endeavors to monopolize
its manufacture and sale, and to crush out his competitors. To
satisfy property, the laborer must first produce beyond his
needs. Then, he must produce beyond his strength; for, by the
withdrawal of laborers who become proprietors, the one always
follows from the other. But to produce beyond his strength and
needs, he must invade the production of another, and consequently
diminish the number of producers. Thus the proprietor--after
having lessened production by stepping outside--lessens it still
further by encouraging the monopoly of labor. Let us calculate

The laborer's deficit, after paying his rent, being, as we have
seen, one-tenth, he tries to increase his production by this
amount. He sees no way of accomplishing this save by increasing
his labor: this also he does. The discontent of the proprietors
who have not received the full amount of their rent; the
advantageous offers and promises made them by other farmers, whom
they suppose more diligent, more industrious, and more reliable;
the secret plots and intrigues,--all these give rise to a
movement for the re-division of labor, and the elimination of a
certain number of producers. Out of nine hundred, ninety will be
ejected, that the production of the others may be increased one-
tenth. But will the total product be increased? Not in the
least: there will be eight hundred and ten laborers producing as
nine hundred, while, to accomplish their purpose, they would have
to produce as one thousand. Now, it having been proved that
farm-rent is proportional to the landed capital instead of to
labor, and that it never diminishes, the debts must continue
as in the past, while the labor has increased. Here, then,
we have a society which is continually decimating itself, and
which would destroy itself, did not the periodical occurrence of
failures, bankruptcies, and political and economical catastrophes
re-establish equilibrium, and distract attention from the real
causes of the universal distress.

The monopoly of land and capital is followed by economical
processes which also result in throwing laborers out of
employment. Interest being a constant burden upon the shoulders
of the farmer and the manufacturer, they exclaim, each speaking
for himself, "I should have the means wherewith to pay my rent
and interest, had I not to pay so many hands." Then those
admirable inventions, intended to assure the easy and speedy
performance of labor, become so many infernal machines which kill
laborers by thousands.

"A few years ago, the Countess of Strafford ejected fifteen
thousand persons from her estate, who, as tenants, added to its
value. This act of private administration was repeated in 1820,
by another large Scotch proprietor, towards six hundred tenants
and their families."--Tissot: on Suicide and Revolt.

_ _The author whom I quote, and who has written eloquent words
concerning the revolutionary spirit which prevails in modern
society, does not say whether he would have disapproved of a
revolt on the part of these exiles. For myself, I avow boldly
that in my eyes it would have been the first of rights, and the
holiest of duties; and all that I desire to-day is that my
profession of faith be understood.

Society devours itself,--1. By the violent and periodical
sacrifice of laborers: this we have just seen, and shall see
again; 2. By the stoppage of the producer's consumption caused by
property. These two modes of suicide are at first simultaneous;
but soon the first is given additional force by the second,
famine uniting with usury to render labor at once more necessary
and more scarce.

By the principles of commerce and political economy, that an
industrial enterprise may be successful, its product must
furnish,--1. The interest on the capital employed; 2. Means for
the preservation of this capital; 3. The wages of all the
employees and contractors. Further, as large a profit as
possible must be realized.

The financial shrewdness and rapacity of property is worthy of
admiration. Each different name which increase takes affords the
proprietor an opportunity to receive it,--1. In the form of
interest; 2. In the form of profit. For, it says, a part of the
income derived from manufactures consists of interest on the
capital employed. If one hundred thousand francs have been
invested in a manufacturing enterprise, and in a year's time five
thousand francs have been received therefrom in addition to the
expenses, there has been no profit, but only interest on the
capital. Now, the proprietor is not a man to labor for nothing.
Like the lion in the fable, he gets paid in each of his
capacities; so that, after he has been served, nothing is left
for his associates.

_Ego primam tollo, nominor quia leo.
Secundam quia sum fortis tribuctis mihi.
Tum quia plus valeo, me sequetur tertia.
Malo adficietur, si quis quartam tetigerit._

I know nothing prettier than this fable.

"I am the contractor. I take the first share.
I am the laborer, I take the second.
I am the capitalist, I take the third.
I am the proprietor, I take the whole."

In four lines, Phaedrus has summed up all the forms of property.

I say that this interest, all the more then this profit, is

What are laborers in relation to each other? So many members of
a large industrial society, to each of whom is assigned a certain
portion of the general production, by the principle of the
division of labor and functions. Suppose, first, that this
society is composed of but three individuals,-- a cattle-raiser,
a tanner, and a shoemaker. The social industry, then, is that of
shoemaking. If I should ask what ought to be each producer's
share of the social product, the first schoolboy whom I should
meet would answer, by a rule of commerce and association, that it
should be one-third. But it is not our duty here to balance the
rights of laborers conventionally associated: we have to prove
that, whether associated or not, our three workers are obliged to
act as if they were; that, whether they will or no, they are
associated by the force of things, by mathematical necessity.

Three processes are required in the manufacture of shoes,--the
rearing of cattle, the preparation of their hides, and the
cutting and sewing. If the hide, on leaving the farmer's stable,
is worth one, it is worth two on leaving the tanner's pit, and
three on leaving the shoemaker's shop. Each laborer has produced
a portion of the utility; so that, by adding all these portions
together, we get the value of the article. To obtain any
quantity whatever of this article, each producer must pay, then,
first for his own labor, and second for the labor of the other
producers. Thus, to obtain as many shoes as can be made from ten
hides, the farmer will give thirty raw hides, and the tanner
twenty tanned hides. For, the shoes that are made from ten hides
are worth thirty raw hides, in consequence of the extra labor
bestowed upon them; just as twenty tanned hides are worth thirty
raw hides, on account of the tanner's labor. But if the
shoemaker demands thirty-three in the farmer's product, or
twenty-two in the tanner's, for ten in his own, there will be no
exchange; for, if there were, the farmer and the tanner, after
having paid the shoemaker ten for his labor, would have to pay
eleven for that which they had themselves sold for ten,--which,
of course, would be impossible.[1]

[1] There is an error in the author's calculation here; but the
translator, feeling sure that the reader will understand
Proudhon's meaning, prefers not to alter his figures.--

Well, this is precisely what happens whenever an emolument of any
kind is received; be it called revenue, farm-rent, interest, or
profit. In the little community of which we are speaking, if the
shoemaker--in order to procure tools, buy a stock of leather, and
support himself until he receives something from his investment--
borrows money at interest, it is clear that to pay this interest
he will have to make a profit off the tanner and the farmer. But
as this profit is impossible unless fraud is used, the interest
will fall back upon the shoulders of the unfortunate shoemaker,
and ruin him.

I have imagined a case of unnatural simplicity. There is no
human society but sustains more than three vocations. The most
uncivilized society supports numerous industries; to-day, the
number of industrial functions (I mean by industrial functions
all useful functions) exceeds, perhaps, a thousand. However
numerous the occupations, the economic law remains the same,--

_ _The economists cannot be ignorant of this rudimentary
principle of their pretended science: why, then, do they so
obstinately defend property, and inequality of wages, and
the legitimacy of usury, and the honesty of profit,--all of
which contradict the economic law, and make exchange impossible?
A contractor pays one hundred thousand francs for raw material,
fifty thousand francs in wages, and then expects to receive a
product of two hundred thousand francs,--that is, expects to make
a profit on the material and on the labor of his employees; but
if the laborers and the purveyor of the material cannot, with
their combined wages, repurchase that which they have produced
for the contractor, how can they live? I will develop my
question. Here details become necessary.

If the workingman receives for his labor an average of three
francs per day, his employer (in order to gain any thing beyond
his own salary, if only interest on his capital) must sell the
day's labor of his employee, in the form of merchandise, for more
than three francs. The workingman cannot, then, repurchase that
which he has produced for his master. It is thus with all trades
whatsoever. The tailor, the hatter, the cabinet-maker, the
blacksmith, the tanner, the mason, the jeweller, the printer, the
clerk, &c., even to the farmer and wine-grower, cannot repurchase
their products; since, producing for a master who in one form or
another makes a profit, they are obliged to pay more for their
own labor than they get for it.

In France, twenty millions of laborers, engaged in all the
branches of science, art, and industry, produce every thing which
is useful to man. Their annual wages amount, it is estimated.
to twenty thousand millions; but, in consequence of the right of
property, and the multifarious forms of increase, premiums,
tithes, interests, fines, profits, farm-rents, house-rents,
revenues, emoluments of every nature and description, their
products are estimated by the proprietors and employers at
twenty-five thousand millions. What does that signify? That the
laborers, who are obliged to repurchase these products in order
to live, must either pay five for that which they produced for
four, or fast one day in five.

If there is an economist in France able to show that this
calculation is false, I summon him to appear; and I promise to
retract all that I have wrongfully and wickedly uttered in my
attacks upon property.

Let us now look at the results of this profit.

If the wages of the workingmen were the same in all pursuits, the
deficit caused by the proprietor's tax would be felt equally
everywhere; but also the cause of the evil would be so apparent,
that it would soon be discovered and suppressed. But, as there
is the same inequality of wages (from that of the scavenger up to
that of the minister of state) as of property, robbery
continually rebounds from the stronger to the weaker; so that,
since the laborer finds his hardships increase as he descends in
the social scale, the lowest class of people are literally
stripped naked and eaten alive by the others.

The laboring people can buy neither the cloth which they weave,
nor the furniture which they manufacture, nor the metal which
they forge, nor the jewels which they cut, nor the prints which
they engrave. They can procure neither the wheat which they
plant, nor the wine which they grow, nor the flesh of the animals
which they raise. They are allowed neither to dwell in the
houses which they build, nor to attend the plays which their
labor supports, nor to enjoy the rest which their body requires.
And why? Because the right of increase does not permit these
things to be sold at the cost-price, which is all that laborers
can afford to pay. On the signs of those magnificent warehouses
which he in his poverty admires, the laborer reads in large
letters: "This is thy work, and thou shalt not have it." _Sic
vos non vobis_!

Every manufacturer who employs one thousand laborers, and gains
from them daily one sou each, is slowly pushing them into a state
of misery. Every man who makes a profit has entered into a
conspiracy with famine. But the whole nation has not even this
labor, by means of which property starves it. And why? Because
the workers are forced by the insufficiency of their wages to
monopolize labor; and because, before being destroyed by dearth,
they destroy each other by competition. Let us pursue this truth
no further.

If the laborer's wages will not purchase his product, it follows
that the product is not made for the producer. For whom, then,
is it intended? For the richer consumer; that is, for only a
fraction of society. But when the whole society labors, it
produces for the whole society. If, then, only a part of society
consumes, sooner or later a part of society will be idle. Now,
idleness is death, as well for the laborer as for the proprietor.

This conclusion is inevitable.

The most distressing spectacle imaginable is the sight of
producers resisting and struggling against this mathematical
necessity, this power of figures to which their prejudices blind

If one hundred thousand printers can furnish reading-matter
enough for thirty-four millions of men, and if the price of books
is so high that only one-third of that number can afford to buy
them, it is clear that these one hundred thousand printers will
produce three times as much as the booksellers can sell. That
the products of the laborers may never exceed the demands of the
consumers, the laborers must either rest two days out of three,
or, separating into three groups, relieve each other three times
a week, month, or quarter; that is, during two-thirds of
their life they must not live. But industry, under the influence
of property, does not proceed with such regularity. It endeavors
to produce a great deal in a short time, because the greater the
amount of products, and the shorter the time of production, the
less each product costs. As soon as a demand begins to be felt,
the factories fill up, and everybody goes to work. Then business
is lively, and both governors and governed rejoice. But the more
they work to-day, the more idle will they be hereafter; the more
they laugh, the more they shall weep. Under the rule of
property, the flowers of industry are woven into none but funeral
wreaths. The laborer digs his own grave.

If the factory stops running, the manufacturer has to pay
interest on his capital the same as before. He naturally tries,
then, to continue production by lessening expenses. Then comes
the lowering of wages; the introduction of machinery; the
employment of women and children to do the work of men; bad
workmen, and wretched work. They still produce, because the
decreased cost creates a larger market; but they do not produce
long, because, the cheapness being due to the quantity and
rapidity of production, the productive power tends more than ever
to outstrip consumption. It is when laborers, whose wages are
scarcely sufficient to support them from one day to another, are
thrown out of work, that the consequences of the principle of
property become most frightful. They have not been able to
economize, they have made no savings, they have accumulated no
capital whatever to support them even one day more. Today the
factory is closed. To-morrow the people starve in the streets.
Day after tomorrow they will either die in the hospital, or eat
in the jail.

And still new misfortunes come to complicate this terrible
situation. In consequence of the cessation of business, and
the extreme cheapness of merchandise, the manufacturer finds it
impossible to pay the interest on his borrowed capital; whereupon
his frightened creditors hasten to withdraw their funds.
Production is suspended, and labor comes to a standstill. Then
people are astonished to see capital desert commerce, and throw
itself upon the Stock Exchange; and I once heard M. Blanqui
bitterly lamenting the blind ignorance of capitalists. The cause
of this movement of capital is very simple; but for that very
reason an economist could not understand it, or rather must not
explain it. The cause lies solely in COMPETITION.

I mean by competition, not only the rivalry between two parties
engaged in the same business, but the general and simultaneous
effort of all kinds of business to get ahead of each other. This
effort is to-day so strong, that the price of merchandise
scarcely covers the cost of production and distribution; so that,
the wages of all laborers being lessened, nothing remains, not
even interest for the capitalists.

The primary cause of commercial and industrial stagnations is,
then, interest on capital,--that interest which the ancients with
one accord branded with the name of usury, whenever it was paid
for the use of money, but which they did not dare to condemn in
the forms of house-rent, farm-rent, or profit: as if the nature
of the thing lent could ever warrant a charge for the lending;
that is, robbery.

In proportion to the increase received by the capitalist will be
the frequency and intensity of commercial crises,--the first
being given, we always can determine the two others; and vice
versa. Do you wish to know the regulator of a society?
Ascertain the amount of active capital; that is, the capital
bearing interest, and the legal rate of this interest. The
course of events will be a series of overturns, whose number and
violence will be proportional to the activity of capital.

In 1839, the number of failures in Paris alone was one thousand
and sixty-four. This proportion was kept up in the early months
of 1840; and, as I write these lines, the crisis is not yet
ended. It is said, further, that the number of houses which have
wound up their business is greater than the number of declared
failures. By this flood, we may judge of the waterspout's power
of suction.

The decimation of society is now imperceptible and permanent, now
periodical and violent; it depends upon the course which property
takes. In a country where the property is pretty evenly
distributed, and where little business is done,--the rights and
claims of each being balanced by those of others,--the power of
invasion is destroyed. There--it may be truly said--property
does not exist, since the right of increase is scarcely exercised
at all. The condition of the laborers--as regards security of
life--is almost the same as if absolute equality prevailed among
them. They are deprived of all the advantages of full and free
association, but their existence is not endangered in the least.
With the exception of a few isolated victims of the right of
property--of this misfortune whose primary cause no one
perceives--the society appears to rest calmly in the bosom of
this sort of equality. But have a care; it is balanced on the
edge of a sword: at the slightest shock, it will fall and meet
with death!

Ordinarily, the whirlpool of property localizes itself. On the
one hand, farm-rent stops at a certain point; on the other, in
consequence of competition and over-production, the price of
manufactured goods does not rise,--so that the condition of the
peasant varies but little, and depends mainly on the
seasons. The devouring action of property bears, then,
principally upon business. We commonly say COMMERCIAL CRISES,
not AGRICULTURAL CRISES; because, while the farmer is eaten up
slowly by the right of increase, the manufacturer is swallowed at
a single mouthful. This leads to the cessation of business, the
destruction of fortunes, and the inactivity of the working
people; who die one after another on the highways, and in the
hospitals, prisons, and galleys.

To sum up this proposition:--

Property sells products to the laborer for more than it pays him
for them; therefore it is impossible.


I. Certain reformers, and even the most of the publicists--who,
though belonging to no particular school, busy themselves in
devising means for the amelioration of the lot of the poorer and
more numerous class--lay much stress now-a-days on a better
organization of labor. The disciples of Fourier, especially,
never stop shouting, "ON TO THE PHALANX!" declaiming in the
same breath against the foolishness and absurdity of other sects.

They consist of half-a-dozen incomparable geniuses who have
REMAIN,--and who weep over the blindness of France, who refuses
to believe in this astonishing arithmetic.[1]

[1] Fourier, having to multiply a whole number by a fraction,
never failed, they say, to obtain a product much greater than the
multiplicand. He affirmed that under his system of harmony the
mercury would solidify when the temperature was above zero. He
might as well have said that the Harmonians would make burning
ice. I once asked an intelligent phalansterian what he thought
of such physics. "I do not know," he answered; "but I believe."
And yet the same man disbelieved in the doctrine of the Real

In fact, the Fourierists proclaim themselves, on the one hand,
defenders of property, of the right of increase, which they have
AND HIS SKILL. On the other hand, they wish the workingman to
come into the enjoyment of all the wealth of society; that is,--
abridging the expression,--into the undivided enjoyment of his
own product. Is not this like saying to the workingman, "Labor,
you shall have three francs per day; you shall live on fifty-five
sous; you shall give the rest to the proprietor, and thus you
will consume three francs"?

If the above speech is not an exact epitome of Charles Fourier's
system, I will subscribe to the whole phalansterian folly with a
pen dipped in my own blood.

Of what use is it to reform industry and agriculture,--of what
use, indeed, to labor at all,--if property is maintained, and
labor can never meet its expenses? Without the abolition of
property, the organization of labor is neither more nor less than
a delusion. If production should be quadrupled,--a thing which
does not seem to me at all impossible,--it would be labor lost:
if the additional product was not consumed, it would be of no
value, and the proprietor would decline to receive it as
interest; if it was consumed, all the disadvantages of property
would reappear. It must be confessed that the theory of
passional attraction is gravely at fault in this particular, and
that Fourier, when he tried to harmonize the PASSION for
property,--a bad passion, whatever he may say to the contrary,--
blocked his own chariot-wheels.

The absurdity of the phalansterian economy is so gross, that many
people suspect Fourier, in spite of all the homage paid by him to
proprietors, of having been a secret enemy of property. This
opinion might be supported by plausible arguments; still it
is not mine. Charlatanism was too important a part for such a
man to play, and sincerity too insignificant a one. I would
rather think Fourier ignorant (which is generally admitted) than
disingenuous. As for his disciples, before they can formulate
any opinion of their own, they must declare once for all,
unequivocally and with no mental reservation, whether they mean
to maintain property or not, and what they mean by their famous
motto,--"To each according to his capital, his labor, and his

II. But, some half-converted proprietor will observe, "Would it
not be possible, by suppressing the bank, incomes, farm-rent,
house-rent, usury of all kinds, and finally property itself, to
proportion products to capacities? That was St. Simon's idea; it
was also Fourier's; it is the desire of the human conscience; and
no decent person would dare maintain that a minister of state
should live no better than a peasant."

O Midas! your ears are long! What! will you never understand
that disparity of wages and the right of increase are one and the
same? Certainly, St. Simon, Fourier, and their respective flocks
committed a serious blunder in attempting to unite, the one,
inequality and communism; the other, inequality and property: but
you, a man of figures, a man of economy,--you, who know by heart
your LOGARITHMIC tables,--how can you make so stupid a mistake?

Does not political economy itself teach you that the product of a
man, whatever be his individual capacity, is never worth more
than his labor, and that a man's labor is worth no more than his
consumption? You remind me of that great constitution-framer,
poor Pinheiro-Ferreira, the Sieyes of the nineteenth century,
who, dividing the citizens of a nation into twelve classes,--or,
if you prefer, into twelve grades,--assigned to some a salary of
one hundred thousand francs each; to others, eighty
thousand; then twenty-five thousand, fifteen thousand, ten
thousand, &c., down to one thousand five hundred, and one
thousand francs, the minimum allowance of a citizen. Pinheiro
loved distinctions, and could no more conceive of a State without
great dignitaries than of an army without drum-majors; and as he
also loved, or thought he loved, liberty, equality, and
fraternity, he combined the good and the evil of our old society
in an eclectic philosophy which he embodied in a constitution.
Excellent Pinheiro! Liberty even to passive submission,
fraternity even to identity of language, equality even in the
jury-box and at the guillotine,--such was his ideal republic.
Unappreciated genius, of whom the present century was unworthy,
but whom the future will avenge!

Listen, proprietor. Inequality of talent exists in fact; in
right it is not admissible, it goes for nothing, it is not
thought of. One Newton in a century is equal to thirty millions
of men; the psychologist admires the rarity of so fine a genius,
the legislator sees only the rarity of the function. Now, rarity
of function bestows no privilege upon the functionary; and that
for several reasons, all equally forcible.

1. Rarity of genius was not, in the Creator's design, a motive to
compel society to go down on its knees before the man of superior
talents, but a providential means for the performance of all
functions to the greatest advantage of all.

2. Talent is a creation of society rather than a gift of Nature;
it is an accumulated capital, of which the receiver is only the
guardian. Without society,--without the education and powerful
assistance which it furnishes,--the finest nature would be
inferior to the most ordinary capacities in the very respect in
which it ought to shine. The more extensive a man's knowledge,
the more luxuriant his imagination, the more versatile his
talent,--the more costly has his education been, the more
remarkable and numerous were his teachers and his models, and the
greater is his debt. The farmer produces from the time that he
leaves his cradle until he enters his grave: the fruits of art
and science are late and scarce; frequently the tree dies before
the fruit ripens. Society, in cultivating talent, makes a
sacrifice to hope.

3. Capacities have no common standard of comparison: the
conditions of development being equal, inequality of talent is
simply speciality of talent.

4. Inequality of wages, like the right of increase, is
economically impossible. Take the most favorable case,--that
where each laborer has furnished his maximum production; that
there may be an equitable distribution of products, the share of
each must be equal to the quotient of the total production
divided by the number of laborers. This done, what remains
wherewith to pay the higher wages? Nothing whatever.

Will it be said that all laborers should be taxed? But, then,
their consumption will not be equal to their production, their
wages will not pay for their productive service, they will not be
able to repurchase their product, and we shall once more be
afflicted with all the calamities of property. I do not speak of
the injustice done to the defrauded laborer, of rivalry, of
excited ambition, and burning hatred,--these may all be important
considerations, but they do not hit the point.

On the one hand, each laborer's task being short and easy, and
the means for its successful accomplishment being equal in all
cases, how could there be large and small producers? On the
other hand, all functions being equal, either on account of the
actual equivalence of talents and capacities, or on account
of social co-operation, how could a functionary claim a salary
proportional to the worth of his genius?

But, what do I say? In equality wages are always proportional to
talents. What is the economical meaning of wages? The
reproductive consumption of the laborer. The very act by which
the laborer produces constitutes, then, this consumption, exactly
equal to his production, of which we are speaking. When the
astronomer produces observations, the poet verses, or the
savant experiments, they consume instruments, books, travels,
&c., &c.; now, if society supplies this consumption, what more
can the astronomer, the savant, or the poet demand? We must
conclude, then, that in equality, and only in equality, St.
CAPACITY ACCORDING TO ITS RESULTS--finds its full and complete

III. The great evil--the horrible and ever-present evil--arising
from property, is that, while property exists, population,
however reduced, is, and always must be, over-abundant.
Complaints have been made in all ages of the excess of
population; in all ages property has been embarrassed by the
presence of pauperism, not perceiving that it caused it.
Further,--nothing is more curious than the diversity of the plans
proposed for its extermination. Their atrocity is equalled only
by their absurdity.

The ancients made a practice of abandoning their children. The
wholesale and retail slaughter of slaves, civil and foreign wars,
also lent their aid. In Rome (where property held full sway),
these three means were employed so effectively, and for so long a
time, that finally the empire found itself without inhabitants.
When the barbarians arrived, nobody was to be found; the fields
were no longer cultivated; grass grew in the streets of the
Italian cities.

In China, from time immemorial, upon famine alone has devolved
the task of sweeping away the poor. The people living almost
exclusively upon rice, if an accident causes the crop to fail, in
a few days hunger kills the inhabitants by myriads; and the
Chinese historian records in the annals of the empire, that in
such a year of such an emperor twenty, thirty, fifty, one hundred
thousand inhabitants died of starvation. Then they bury the
dead, and recommence the production of children until another
famine leads to the same result. Such appears to have been, in
all ages, the Confucian economy.

I borrow the following facts from a modern economist:--

"Since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, England has been
preyed upon by pauperism. At that time beggars were punished by
law." Nevertheless, she had not one-fourth as large a population
as she has to-day.

"Edward prohibits alms-giving, on pain of imprisonment. . . .
The laws of 1547 and 1656 prescribe a like punishment, in case of
a second offence. Elizabeth orders that each parish shall
support its own paupers. But what is a pauper? Charles II.
decides that an UNDISPUTED residence of forty days constitutes
a settlement in a parish; but, if disputed, the new-comer is
forced to pack off. James II. modifies this decision, which is
again modified by William. In the midst of trials, reports, and
modifications, pauperism increases, and the workingman languishes
and dies.

"The poor-tax in 1774 exceeded forty millions of francs; in 1783-
4-5, it averaged fifty-three millions; 1813, more than a hundred
and eighty-seven millions five hundred thousand francs; 1816, two
hundred and fifty millions; in 1817, it is estimated at three
hundred and seventeen millions.

"In 1821, the number of paupers enrolled upon the parish lists
was estimated at four millions, nearly one-third of the

"FRANCE. In 1544, Francis I. establishes a compulsory tax in
behalf of the poor. In 1566 and 1586, the same principle is
applied to the whole kingdom.

"Under Louis XIV., forty thousand paupers infested the capital
[as many in proportion as to-day]. Mendicity was punished
severely. In 1740, the Parliament of Paris re-establishes within
its own jurisdiction the compulsory assessment.

"The Constituent Assembly, frightened at the extent of the evil
and the difficulty of curing it, ordains the _statu quo_.

"The Convention proclaims assistance of the poor to be a
NATIONAL DEBT. Its law remains unexecuted.

"Napoleon also wishes to remedy the evil: his idea is
imprisonment. `In that way,' said he, `I shall protect the rich
from the importunity of beggars, and shall relieve them of the
disgusting sight of abject poverty.'" O wonderful man!

From these facts, which I might multiply still farther, two
things are to be inferred,--the one, that pauperism is
independent of population; the other, that all attempts hitherto
made at its extermination have proved abortive.

Catholicism founds hospitals and convents, and commands charity;
that is, she encourages mendicity. That is the extent of her
insight as voiced by her priests.

The secular power of Christian nations now orders taxes on the
rich, now banishment and imprisonment for the poor; that is, on
the one hand, violation of the right of property, and, on the
other, civil death and murder.

The modern economists--thinking that pauperism is caused by the
excess of population, exclusively--have devoted themselves to
devising checks. Some wish to prohibit the poor from marrying;
thus,--having denounced religious celibacy,--they propose
compulsory celibacy, which will inevitably become licentious

Others do not approve this method, which they deem too violent;
and which, they say, deprives the poor man of THE ONLY PLEASURE
WHICH HE KNOWS IN THIS WORLD. They would simply recommend him
to be PRUDENT. This opinion is held by Malthus, Sismondi, Say,
Droz, Duchatel, &c. But if the poor are to be PRUDENT, the
rich must set the example. Why should the marriageable age of
the latter be fixed at eighteen years, while that of the former
is postponed until thirty?

Again, they would do well to explain clearly what they mean by
this matrimonial prudence which they so urgently recommend to the
laborer; for here equivocation is especially dangerous, and I
suspect that the economists are not thoroughly understood. "Some
half-enlightened ecclesiastics are alarmed when they hear
prudence in marriage advised; they fear that the divine
injunction--INCREASE AND MULTIPLY--is to be set aside. To be
logical, they must anathematize bachelors." (J. Droz: Political

M. Droz is too honest a man, and too little of a theologian, to
see why these casuists are so alarmed; and this chaste ignorance
is the very best evidence of the purity of his heart. Religion
never has encouraged early marriages; and the kind of PRUDENCE
which it condemns is that described in this Latin sentence from
Sanchez,--_An licet ob metum liberorum semen extra vas ejicere_?

Destutt de Tracy seems to dislike prudence in either form. He
says: "I confess that I no more share the desire of the
moralists to diminish and restrain our pleasures, than that of
the politicians to increase our procreative powers, and
accelerate reproduction." He believes, then, that we should love
and marry when and as we please. Widespread misery results from
love and marriage, but this our philosopher does not heed. True
to the dogma of the necessity of evil, to evil he looks for the
solution of all problems. He adds: "The multiplication of men
continuing in all classes of society, the surplus members of the
upper classes are supported by the lower classes, and those of
the latter are destroyed by poverty." This philosophy has few
avowed partisans; but it has over every other the indisputable
advantage of demonstration in practice. Not long since France
heard it advocated in the Chamber of Deputies, in the course of
the discussion on the electoral reform,--POVERTY WILL
ALWAYS EXIST. That is the political aphorism with which the
minister of state ground to powder the arguments of M. Arago.
POVERTY WILL ALWAYS EXIST! Yes, so long as property does.

The Fourierists--INVENTORS of so many marvellous contrivances--
could not, in this field, belie their character. They invented
four methods of checking increase of population at will.

1. THE VIGOR OF WOMEN. On this point they are contradicted by
experience; for, although vigorous women may be less likely to
conceive, nevertheless they give birth to the healthiest
children; so that the advantage of maternity is on their side.

2. INTEGRAL EXERCISE, or the equal development of all the
physical powers. If this development is equal, how is the power
of reproduction lessened?

3. THE GASTRONOMIC REGIME; or, in plain English, the philosophy
of the belly. The Fourierists say, that abundance of rich food
renders women sterile; just as too much sap--while enhancing the
beauty of flowers--destroys their reproductive capacity. But the
analogy is a false one. Flowers become sterile when the
stamens--or male organs--are changed into petals, as may be seen
by inspecting a rose; and when through excessive dampness the
pollen loses its fertilizing power. Then,--in order that the
gastronomic regime may produce the results claimed for it,--not
only must the females be fattened, but the males must be rendered

4. PHANEROGAMIC MORALITY, or public concubinage. I know not
why the phalansterians use Greek words to convey ideas which can
be expressed so clearly in French. This method--like the
preceding one--is copied from civilized customs. Fourier,
himself, cites the example of prostitutes as a proof. Now
we have no certain knowledge yet of the facts which he quotes.
So states Parent Duchatelet in his work on "Prostitution."

From all the information which I have been able to gather, I find
that all the remedies for pauperism and fecundity-- sanctioned by
universal practice, philosophy, political economy, and the latest
reformers--may be summed up in the following list: masturbation,
onanism,[1] sodomy, tribadie, polyandry,[2] prostitution,
castration, continence, abortion, and infanticide.[3]

[1] _Hoc inter se differunt onanismus et manuspratio, nempe quod
haec a solitario exercetur, ille autem a duobus reciprocatur,
masculo scilicet et faemina. Porro foedam hanc onanismi venerem
ludentes uxoria mariti habent nunc omnigm suavissimam_

[2] Polyandry,--plurality of husbands.

[3] Infanticide has just been publicly advocated in England, in a
pamphlet written by a disciple of Malthus. He proposes an
ANNUAL MASSACRE OF THE INNOCENTS in all families containing
more children than the law allows; and he asks that a magnificent
cemetery, adorned with statues, groves, fountains, and flowers,
be set apart as a special burying-place for the superfluous
children. Mothers would resort to this delightful spot to dream
of the happiness of these little angels, and would return, quite
comforted, to give birth to others, to be buried in their turn.

All these methods being proved inadequate, there remains

Unfortunately, proscription, while decreasing the number of the
poor, increases their proportion. If the interest charged by the
proprietor upon the product is equal only to one-twentieth of the
product (by law it is equal to one-twentieth of the capital), it
follows that twenty laborers produce for nineteen only; because
there is one among them, called proprietor, who eats the share of
two. Suppose that the twentieth laborer--the poor one--is
killed: the production of the following year will be diminished
one-twentieth; consequently the nineteenth will have to yield his
portion, and perish. For, since it is not one-twentieth of the
product of nineteen which must be paid to the proprietor, but
one-twentieth of the product of twenty (see third proposition),
each surviving laborer must sacrifice one-twentieth PLUS one
four-hundredth of his product; in other words, one man out of
nineteen must be killed. Therefore, while property exists, the
more poor people we kill, the more there are born in proportion.

Malthus, who proved so clearly that population increases in
geometrical progression, while production increases only in
arithmetical progression, did not notice this PAUPERIZING power
of property. Had he observed this, he would have understood
that, before trying to check reproduction, the right of increase
should be abolished; because, wherever that right is tolerated,
there are always too many inhabitants, whatever the extent or
fertility of the soil.

It will be asked, perhaps, how I would maintain a balance between
population and production; for sooner or later this problem must
be solved. The reader will pardon me, if I do not give my method
here. For, in my opinion, it is useless to say a thing unless we
prove it. Now, to explain my method fully would require no less
than a formal treatise. It is a thing so simple and so vast, so
common and so extraordinary, so true and so misunderstood, so
sacred and so profane, that to name it without developing and
proving it would serve only to excite contempt and incredulity.
One thing at a time. Let us establish equality, and this remedy
will soon appear; for truths follow each other, just as crimes
and errors do.


Property is impossible, because it is the Mother of Tyranny.

What is government? Government is public economy, the supreme
administrative power over public works and national possessions.

Now, the nation is like a vast society in which all the, citizens
are stockholders. Each one has a deliberative voice in the
assembly; and, if the shares are equal, has one vote at his
disposal. But, under the regime of property, there is great
inequality between the shares of the stockholders; therefore, one
may have several hundred votes, while another has only one. If,
for example, I enjoy an income of one million; that is, if I am
the proprietor of a fortune of thirty or forty millions well
invested, and if this fortune constitutes 1/30000 of the national
capital,--it is clear that the public administration of my
property would form 1/30000 of the duties of the government; and,
if the nation had a population of thirty-four millions, that I
should have as many votes as one thousand one hundred and thirty-
three simple stockholders.

Thus, when M. Arago demands the right of suffrage for all members
of the National Guard, he is perfectly right; since every citizen
is enrolled for at least one national share, which entitles him
to one vote. But the illustrious orator ought at the same time
to demand that each elector shall have as many votes as he has
shares; as is the case in commercial associations. For to do
otherwise is to pretend that the nation has a right to dispose of
the property of individuals without consulting them; which is
contrary to the right of property. In a country where property
exists, equality of electoral rights is a violation of property.

Now, if each citizen's sovereignty must and ought to be
proportional to his property, it follows that the small stock
holders are at the mercy of the larger ones; who will, as soon as
they choose, make slaves of the former, marry them at pleasure,
take from them their wives, castrate their sons, prostitute their
daughters, throw the aged to the sharks,--and finally will be
forced to serve themselves in the same way, unless they prefer to
tax themselves for the support of their servants. In such a
condition is Great Britain to-day. John Bull--caring little for
liberty, equality, or dignity--prefers to serve and beg. But
you, bonhomme Jacques?

Property is incompatible with political and civil equality; then
property is impossible.

HISTORICAL COMMENTS.--1. When the vote of the third estate was
doubled by the States-General of 1789, property was grossly
violated. The nobility and the clergy possessed three-fourths of
the soil of France; they should have controlled three-fourths of
the votes in the national representation. To double the vote of
the third estate was just, it is said, since the people paid
nearly all the taxes. This argument would be sound, if there
were nothing to be voted upon but taxes. But it was a question
at that time of reforming the government and the constitution;
consequently, the doubling of the vote of the third estate was a
usurpation, and an attack on property.

2. If the present representatives of the radical opposition
should come into power, they would work a reform by which every
National Guard should be an elector, and every elector eligible
for office,--an attack on property.

They would lower the rate of interest on public funds,--an attack
on property.

They would, in the interest of the public, pass laws to
regulate the exportation of cattle and wheat,--an attack on

They would alter the assessment of taxes,--an attack on property.

They would educate the people gratuitously,--a conspiracy against

They would organize labor; that is, they would guarantee labor to
the workingman, and give him a share in the profits,--the
abolition of property.

Now, these same radicals are zealous defenders of property,--a
radical proof that they know not what they do, nor what they

3. Since property is the grand cause of privilege and despotism,
the form of the republican oath should be changed. Instead of,
"I swear hatred to royalty," henceforth the new member of a
secret society should say, "I swear hatred to property."


Property is impossible, because, in consuming its Receipts, it
loses them; in hoarding them, it nullifies them; and in
using them as Capital, it turns them against Production_.

I. If, with the economists, we consider the laborer as a living
machine, we must regard the wages paid to him as the amount
necessary to support this machine, and keep it in repair. The
head of a manufacturing establishment--who employs laborers at
three, five, ten, and fifteen francs per day, and who charges
twenty francs for his superintendence--does not regard his
disbursements as losses, because he knows they will return to him
in the form of products. Consequently, LABOR and REPRODUCTIVE
CONSUMPTION are identical.

What is the proprietor? He is a machine which does not
work; or, which working for its own pleasure, and only when
it sees fit, produces nothing.

What is it to consume as a proprietor? It is to consume without
working, to consume without reproducing. For, once more, that
which the proprietor consumes as a laborer comes back to him; he
does not give his labor in exchange for his property, since, if
he did, he would thereby cease to be a proprietor. In consuming
as a laborer, the proprietor gains, or at least does not lose,
since he recovers that which he consumes; in consuming as a
proprietor, he impoverishes himself. To enjoy property, then, it
is necessary to destroy it; to be a real proprietor, one must
cease to be a proprietor.

The laborer who consumes his wages is a machine which destroys
and reproduces; the proprietor who consumes his income is a
bottomless gulf,--sand which we water, a stone which we sow. So
true is this, that the proprietor--neither wishing nor knowing
how to produce, and perceiving that as fast as he uses his
property he destroys it for ever--has taken the precaution to
make some one produce in his place. That is what political
economy, speaking in the name of eternal justice, calls
what ought to be called PRODUCING BY A SLAVE--PRODUCING AS A
THIEF AND AS A TYRANT. He, the proprietor, produce! . . . The
robber might say, as well: "I produce."

The consumption of the proprietor has been styled luxury, in
opposition to USEFUL consumption. From what has just been
said, we see that great luxury can prevail in a nation which is
not rich,--that poverty even increases with luxury, and vice
versa. The economists (so much credit must be given them, at
least) have caused such a horror of luxury, that to-day a very
large number of proprietors--not to say almost all--ashamed
of their idleness--labor, economize, and capitalize. They have
jumped from the frying-pan into the fire.

I cannot repeat it too often: the proprietor who thinks to
deserve his income by working, and who receives wages for his
labor, is a functionary who gets paid twice; that is the only
difference between an idle proprietor and a laboring proprietor.
By his labor, the proprietor produces his wages only--not his
income. And since his condition enables him to engage in the
most lucrative pursuits, it may be said that the proprietor's
labor harms society more than it helps it. Whatever the
proprietor does, the consumption of his income is an actual loss,
which his salaried functions neither repair nor justify; and
which would annihilate property, were it not continually
replenished by outside production.

II. Then, the proprietor who consumes annihilates the product: he
does much worse if he lays it up. The things which he lays by
pass into another world; nothing more is seen of them, not even
the _caput mortuum_,--the smoke. If we had some means of
transportation by which to travel to the moon, and if the
proprietors should be seized with a sudden fancy to carry their
savings thither, at the end of a certain time our terraqueous
planet would be transported by them to its satellite!

The proprietor who lays up products will neither allow others to
enjoy them, nor enjoy them himself; for him there is neither
possession nor property. Like the miser, he broods over his
treasures: he does not use them. He may feast his eyes upon
them; he may lie down with them; he may sleep with them in his
arms: all very fine, but coins do not breed coins. No real
property without enjoyment; no enjoyment without consumption; no
consumption without loss of property,--such is the inflexible
necessity to which God's judgment compels the proprietor to
bend. A curse upon property !

III. The proprietor who, instead of consuming his income, uses it
as capital, turns it against production, and thereby makes it
impossible for him to exercise his right. For the more he
increases the amount of interest to be paid upon it, the more he
is compelled to diminish wages. Now, the more he diminishes
wages,--that is, the less he devotes to the maintenance and
repair of the machines,--the more he diminishes the quantity of
labor; and with the quantity of labor the quantity of product,
and with the quantity of product the very source of his income.
This is clearly shown by the following example:--

Take an estate consisting of arable land, meadows, and vineyards,
containing the dwellings of the owner and the tenant; and worth,
together with the farming implements, one hundred thousand
francs, the rate of increase being three per cent. If, instead
of consuming his revenue, the proprietor uses it, not in
enlarging but in beautifying his estate, can he annually demand
of his tenant an additional ninety francs on account of the three
thousand francs which he has thus added to his capital?
Certainly not; for on such conditions the tenant, though
producing no more than before, would soon be obliged to labor for
nothing,--what do I say? to actually suffer loss in order to hold
his lease.

In fact, revenue can increase only as productive soil increases:
it is useless to build walls of marble, and work with plows of
gold. But, since it is impossible to go on acquiring for ever,
to add estate to estate, to CONTINUE ONE'S POSSESSIONS, as the
Latins said; and since, moreover, the proprietor always has means
wherewith to capitalize,--it follows that the exercise of his
right finally becomes impossible.

Well, in spite of this impossibility, property capitalizes, and
in capitalizing increases its revenue; and, without stopping to
look at the particular cases which occur in commerce,
manufacturing operations, and banking, I will cite a graver
fact,-- one which directly affects all citizens. I mean the
indefinite increase of the budget.

The taxes increase every year. It would be difficult to tell in
which department of the government the expenses increase; for who
can boast of any knowledge as to the budget? On this point, the
ablest financiers continually disagree. What is to be thought, I
ask, of the science of government, when its professors cannot
understand one another's figures? Whatever be the immediate
causes of this growth of the budget, it is certain that taxation
increases at a rate which causes everybody to despair. Everybody
sees it, everybody acknowledges it; but nobody seems to
understand the primary cause.[1] Now, I say that it cannot be
otherwise,--that it is necessary and inevitable.

[1] "The financial situation of the English government was shown
up in the House of Lords during the session of January 23. It is
not an encouraging one. For several years the expenses have
exceeded the receipts, and the Minister has been able to re-
establish the balance only by loans renewed annually. The
combined deficits of the years 1838 and 1839 amount to forty-
seven million five hundred thousand francs. In 1840, the excess
of expenses over receipts is expected to be twenty-two million
five hundred thousand francs. Attention was called to these
figures by Lord Ripon. Lord Melbourne replied: `The noble earl
unhappily was right in declaring that the public expenses
continually increase, and with him I must say that there is no
room for hope that they can be diminished or met in any way.'"--
National: January 26, 1840.

A nation is the tenant of a rich proprietor called the
GOVERNMENT, to whom it pays, for the use of the soil, a farm-
rent called a tax. Whenever the government makes war, loses or
gains a battle, changes the outfit of its army, erects a monu-
ment, digs a canal, opens a road, or builds a railway, it
borrows money, on which the tax-payers pay interest; that is, the
government, without adding to its productive capacity, increases
its active capital,--in a word, capitalizes after the manner of
the proprietor of whom I have just spoken.

Now, when a governmental loan is once contracted, and the
interest is once stipulated, the budget cannot be reduced. For,
to accomplish that, either the capitalists must relinquish their
interest, which would involve an abandonment of property; or the
government must go into bankruptcy, which would be a fraudulent
denial of the political principle; or it must pay the debt, which
would require another loan; or it must reduce expenses, which is
impossible, since the loan was contracted for the sole reason
that the ordinary receipts were insufficient; or the money
expended by the government must be reproductive, which requires
an increase of productive capacity,--a condition excluded by our
hypothesis; or, finally, the tax-payers must submit to a new tax
in order to pay the debt,--an impossible thing. For, if this new
tax were levied upon all citizens alike, half, or even more, of
the citizens would be unable to pay it; if the rich had to bear
the whole, it would be a forced contribution,--an invasion of
property. Long financial experience has shown that the method of
loans, though exceedingly dangerous, is much surer, more
convenient, and less costly than any other method; consequently
the government borrows,--that is, goes on capitalizing,--and
increases the budget.

Then, a budget, instead of ever diminishing, must necessarily and
continually increase. It is astonishing that the economists,
with all their learning, have failed to perceive a fact so simple
and so evident. If they have perceived it, why have they
neglected to condemn it?

HISTORICAL COMMENT.--Much interest is felt at present in a
financial operation which is expected to result in a reduction of
the budget. It is proposed to change the present rate of
increase, five per cent. Laying aside the politico-legal
question to deal only with the financial question,--is it not
true that, when five per cent. is changed to four per cent., it
will then be necessary, for the same reasons, to change four to
three; then three to two, then two to one, and finally to sweep
away increase altogether? But that would be the advent of
equality of conditions and the abolition of property. Now it
seems to me, that an intelligent nation should voluntarily meet
an inevitable revolution half way, instead of suffering itself to
be dragged after the car of inflexible necessity.


Property is impossible, because its power of Accumulation is
infinite, and is exercised only over finite quantities.

If men, living in equality, should grant to one of their number
the exclusive right of property; and this sole proprietor should
lend one hundred francs to the human race at compound interest,
payable to his descendants twenty-four generations hence,--at the
end of six hundred years this sum of one hundred francs, at five
per cent., would amount to 107,854,010,777,600 francs; two
thousand six hundred and ninety-six and one-third times the
capital of France (supposing her capital to be 40,000,000,000),
or more than twenty times the value of the terrestrial globe!

Suppose that a man, in the reign of St. Louis, had borrowed one
hundred francs, and had refused,--he and his heirs after him,--to
return it. Even though it were known that the said heirs were
not the rightful possessors, and that prescription had been
interrupted always at the right moment,--nevertheless, by our
laws, the last heir would be obliged to return the one hundred
francs with interest, and interest on the interest; which in all
would amount, as we have seen, to nearly one hundred and eight
thousand billions.

Every day, fortunes are growing in our midst much more rapidly
than this. The preceding example supposed the interest equal to
one-twentieth of the capital,--it often equals one-tenth, one-
fifth, one-half of the capital; and sometimes the capital itself.

The Fourierists--irreconcilable enemies of equality, whose
partisans they regard as SHARKS--intend, by quadrupling
production, to satisfy all the demands of capital, labor, and
skill. But, should production be multiplied by four, ten, or
even one hundred, property would soon absorb, by its power of
accumulation and the effects of its capitalization, both products
and capital, and the land, and even the laborers. Is the
phalanstery to be prohibited from capitalizing and lending at
interest? Let it explain, then, what it means by property.

I will carry these calculations no farther. They are capable of
infinite variation, upon which it would be puerile for me to
insist. I only ask by what standard judges, called upon to
decide a suit for possession, fix the interest? And, developing
the question, I ask,--

Did the legislator, in introducing into the Republic the
principle of property, weigh all the consequences? Did he know
the law of the possible? If he knew it, why is it not in the
Code? Why is so much latitude allowed to the proprietor in
accumulating property and charging interest,--to the judge in
recognizing and fixing the domain of property,--to the State in
its power to levy new taxes continually? At what point is the
nation justified in repudiating the budget, the tenant his
farm-rent, and the manufacturer the interest on his capital? How
far may the idler take advantage of the laborer? Where does the
right of spoliation begin, and where does it end? When may the
producer say to the proprietor, "I owe you nothing more"? When
is property satisfied? When must it cease to steal?

If the legislator did know the law of the possible, and
disregarded it, what must be thought of his justice? If he did
not know it, what must be thought of his wisdom? Either wicked
or foolish, how can we recognize his authority?

If our charters and our codes are based upon an absurd
hypothesis, what is taught in the law-schools? What does a
judgment of the Court of Appeal amount to? About what do our
Chambers deliberate? What is POLITICS? What is our definition
of a STATESMAN? What is the meaning of JURISPRUDENCE?
Should we not rather say JURISIGNORANCE?

If all our institutions are based upon an error in calculation,
does it not follow that these institutions are so many shams?
And if the entire social structure is built upon this absolute
impossibility of property, is it not true that the government
under which we live is a chimera, and our present society a


Property is impossible, because it is powerless against

I. By the third corollary of our axiom, interest tells against
the proprietor as well as the stranger. This economical
principle is universally admitted. Nothing simpler at first
blush; yet, nothing more absurd, more contradictory in terms, or
more absolutely impossible.

The manufacturer, it is said, pays himself the rent on his house
and capital. HE PAYS HIMSELF; that is, he gets paid by
the public who buy his products. For, suppose the
manufacturer, who seems to make this profit on his property,
wishes also to make it on his merchandise, can he then pay
himself one franc for that which cost him ninety centimes, and
make money by the operation? No: such a transaction would
transfer the merchant's money from his right hand to his left,
but without any profit whatever.

Now, that which is true of a single individual trading with
himself is true also of the whole business world. Form a chain
of ten, fifteen, twenty producers; as many as you wish. If the
producer A makes a profit out of the producer B. B's loss must,
according to economical principles, be made up by C, C's by D;
and so on through to Z.

But by whom will Z be paid for the loss caused him by the profit
charged by A in the beginning? BY THE CONSUMER, replies Say.
Contemptible equivocation! Is this consumer any other, then,
than A, B. C, D, &c., or Z? By whom will Z be paid? If he is
paid by A, no one makes a profit; consequently, there is no
property. If, on the contrary, Z bears the burden himself, he
ceases to be a member of society; since it refuses him the right
of property and profit, which it grants to the other associates.

Since, then, a nation, like universal humanity, is a vast
industrial association which cannot act outside of itself, it is
clear that no man can enrich himself without impoverishing
another. For, in order that the right of property, the right of
increase, may be respected in the case of A, it must be denied to
Z; thus we see how equality of rights, separated from equality of
conditions, may be a truth. The iniquity of political economy in
this respect is flagrant. "When I, a manufacturer, purchase the
labor of a workingman, I do not include his wages in the net
product of my business; on the contrary, I deduct them. But
the workingman includes them in his net product. . . . "(Say:
Political Economy.)

That means that all which the workingman gains is NET PRODUCT;
but that only that part of the manufacturer's gains is NET
PRODUCT, which remains after deducting his wages. But why is
the right of profit confined to the manufacturer? Why is this
right, which is at bottom the right of property itself, denied to
the workingman? In the terms of economical science, the
workingman is capital. Now, all capital, beyond the cost of its
maintenance and repair, must bear interest. This the proprietor
takes care to get, both for his capital and for himself. Why is
the workingman prohibited from charging a like interest for his
capital, which is himself?

Property, then, is inequality of rights; for, if it were not
inequality of rights, it would be equality of goods,--in other
words, it would not exist. Now, the charter guarantees to all
equality of rights. Then, by the charter, property is

II. Is A, the proprietor of an estate, entitled by the fact of
his proprietorship to take possession of the field belonging to
B. his neighbor? "No," reply the proprietors; "but what has that
to do with the right of property?" That I shall show you by a
series of similar propositions.

Has C, a hatter, the right to force D, his neighbor and also a
hatter, to close his shop, and cease his business? Not the least
in the world.

But C wishes to make a profit of one franc on every hat, while D
is content with fifty centimes. It is evident that D's
moderation is injurious to C's extravagant claims. Has the
latter a right to prevent D from selling? Certainly not.

Since D is at liberty to sell his hats fifty centimes cheaper
than C if he chooses, C in his turn is free to reduce his
price one franc. Now, D is poor, while C is rich; so that at the
end of two or three years D is ruined by this intolerable
competition, and C has complete control of the market. Can the
proprietor D get any redress from the proprietor C? Can he bring
a suit against him to recover his business and property? No; for
D could have done the same thing, had he been the richer of the

On the same ground, the large proprietor A may say to the small
proprietor B: "Sell me your field, otherwise you shall not sell
your wheat,"--and that without doing him the least wrong, or
giving him ground for complaint. So that A can devour B if he
likes, for the very reason that A is stronger than B.
Consequently, it is not the right of property which enables A and
C to rob B and D, but the right of might. By the right of
property, neither the two neighbors A and B, nor the two
merchants C and D, could harm each other. They could neither
dispossess nor destroy one another, nor gain at one another's
expense. The power of invasion lies in superior strength.

But it is superior strength also which enables the manufacturer
to reduce the wages of his employees, and the rich merchant and
well-stocked proprietor to sell their products for what they
please. The manufacturer says to the laborer, "You are as free
to go elsewhere with your services as I am to receive them. I
offer you so much." The merchant says to the customer, "Take it
or leave it; you are master of your money, as I am of my goods.
I want so much." Who will yield? The weaker.

Therefore, without force, property is powerless against property,
since without force it has no power to increase; therefore,
without force, property is null and void.

HISTORICAL COMMENT.--The struggle between colonial and native
sugars furnishes us a striking example of this impossibility of
property. Leave these two industries to themselves, and the
native manufacturer will be ruined by the colonist. To maintain
the beet-root, the cane must be taxed: to protect the property of
the one, it is necessary to injure the property of the other.
The most remarkable feature of this business is precisely that to
which the least attention is paid; namely, that, in one way or
another, property has to be violated. Impose on each industry a
proportional tax, so as to preserve a balance in the market, and
you create a MAXIMUM PRICE,--you attack property in two ways.
On the one hand, your tax interferes with the liberty of trade;
on the other, it does not recognize equality of proprietors.
Indemnify the beet-root, you violate the property of the tax-
payer. Cultivate the two varieties of sugar at the nation's
expense, just as different varieties of tobacco are cultivated,--
you abolish one species of property. This last course would be
the simpler and better one; but, to induce the nations to adopt
it, requires such a co-operation of able minds and generous
hearts as is at present out of the question.

Competition, sometimes called liberty of trade,--in a word,
property in exchange,--will be for a long time the basis of our
commercial legislation; which, from the economical point of view,
embraces all civil laws and all government. Now, what is
competition? A duel in a closed field, where arms are the test
of right.

"Who is the liar,--the accused or the accuser?" said our
barbarous ancestors. "Let them fight it out," replied the still
more barbarous judge; "the stronger is right."

Which of us two shall sell spices to our neighbor? "Let each
offer them for sale," cries the economist; "the sharper, or
the more cunning, is the more honest man, and the better

Such is the exact spirit of the Code Napoleon.


Property is impossible, because it is the Negation of equality.

The development of this proposition will be the resume of the
preceding ones.

1. It is a principle of economical justice, that PRODUCTS ARE
BOUGHT ONLY BY PRODUCTS. Property, being capable of defence
only on the ground that it produces utility, is, since it
produces nothing, for ever condemned.

2. It is an economical law, that LABOR MUST BE BALANCED BY
PRODUCT. It is a fact that, with property, production costs
more than it is worth.

3. Another economical law: THE CAPITAL BEING GIVEN, PRODUCTION
CAPACITY. Property, requiring income to be always proportional
to capital without regard to labor, does not recognize this
relation of equality between effect and cause.

4 and 5. Like the insect which spins its silk, the laborer never
produces for himself alone. Property, demanding a double product
and unable to obtain it, robs the laborer, and kills him.

6. Nature has given to every man but one mind, one heart, one
will. Property, granting to one individual a plurality of votes,
supposes him to have a plurality of minds.

7. All consumption which is not reproductive of utility is
destruction. Property, whether it consumes or hoards or
capitalizes, is productive of INUTILITY,--the cause of
sterility and death.

8. The satisfaction of a natural right always gives rise to an
equation; in other words, the right to a thing is necessarily
balanced by the possession of the thing. Thus, between the right
to liberty and the condition of a free man there is a balance, an
equation; between the right to be a father and paternity, an
equation; between the right to security and the social guarantee,
an equation. But between the right of increase and the receipt
of this increase there is never an equation; for every new
increase carries with it the right to another, the latter to a
third, and so on for ever. Property, never being able to
accomplish its object, is a right against Nature and against

9. Finally, property is not self-existent. An extraneous cause--
either FORCE or FRAUD--is necessary to its life and action.
In other words, property is not equal to property: it is a
negation--a delusion--NOTHING.



Property is impossible; equality does not exist. We hate the
former, and yet wish to possess it; the latter rules all our
thoughts, yet we know not how to reach it. Who will explain this
profound antagonism between our conscience and our will? Who
will point out the causes of this pernicious error, which has
become the most sacred principle of justice and society?

I am bold enough to undertake the task, and I hope to succeed.

But before explaining why man has violated justice, it is
necessary to determine what justice is.


% 1.--Of the Moral Sense in Man and the Animals.

The philosophers have endeavored often to locate the line which
separates man's intelligence from that of the brutes; and,
according to their general custom, they gave utterance to much
foolishness before resolving upon the only course possible for
them to take,--observation. It was reserved for an
unpretending savant--who perhaps did not pride himself on his
philosophy--to put an end to the interminable controversy by a
simple distinction; but one of those luminous distinctions which
are worth more than systems. Frederic Cuvier separated

But, as yet, no one has proposed this question:--


If, hitherto, any one had dared to maintain the latter
alternative, his arguments would have seemed scandalous,
blasphemous, and offensive to morality and religion. The
ecclesiastical and secular tribunals would have condemned him
with one voice. And, mark the style in which they would have
branded the immoral paradox! "Conscience,"--they would have
cried,--"conscience, man's chief glory, was given to him
exclusively; the notion of justice and injustice, of merit and
demerit, is his noble privilege; to man, alone,--the lord of
creation,--belongs the sublime power to resist his worldly
propensities, to choose between good and evil, and to bring
himself more and more into the resemblance of God through liberty
and justice. . . . No; the holy image of virtue was never graven
save on the heart of man." Words full of feeling, but void of

Man is a rational and social animal--{GREEK ` c g}--said
Aristotle. This definition is worth more than all
which have been given since. I do not except even M. de Bonald's
celebrated definition,--MAN IS AN INTELLECT SERVED BY ORGANS--a
definition which has the double fault of explaining the known by
the unknown; that is, the living being by the intellect; and of
neglecting man's essential quality,--animality.

Man, then, is an animal living in society. Society means
the sum total of relationships; in short, system. Now, all
systems exist only on certain conditions. What, then, are the
conditions, the LAWS, of human society?

What are the RIGHTS of men with respect to each other; what is

It amounts to nothing to say,--with the philosophers of various
schools,--"It is a divine instinct, an immortal and heavenly
voice, a guide given us by Nature, a light revealed unto every
man on coming into the world, a law engraved upon our hearts; it
is the voice of conscience, the dictum of reason, the
inspiration of sentiment, the penchant of feeling; it is the
love of self in others; it is enlightened self-interest; or else
it is an innate idea, the imperative command of applied reason,
which has its source in the concepts of pure reason; it is a
passional attraction," &c., &c. This may be as true as it seems
beautiful; but it is utterly meaningless. Though we should
prolong this litany through ten pages (it has been filtered
through a thousand volumes), we should be no nearer to the
solution of the question.

"Justice is public utility," says Aristotle. That is true, but
it is a tautology. "The principle that the public welfare ought
to be the object of the legislator"--says M. Ch. Comte in his
"Treatise on Legislation"--"cannot be overthrown. But
legislation is advanced no farther by its announcement and
demonstration, than is medicine when it is said that it is the
business of physicians to cure the sick."

Let us take another course. RUGHT is the sum total of the
principles which govern society. Justice, in man, is the respect
and observation of those principles. To practise justice is to
obey the social instinct; to do an act of justice is to do a
social act. If, then, we watch the conduct of men towards each
other under different circumstances, it will be easy for us
to distinguish between the presence and absence of society; from
the result we may inductively infer the law.

Let us commence with the simplest and least doubtful cases.

The mother, who protects her son at the peril of her life, and
sacrifices every thing to his support, is in society with him--
she is a good mother. She, on the contrary, who abandons her
child, is unfaithful to the social instinct,--maternal love being
one of its many features; she is an unnatural mother.

If I plunge into the water to rescue a drowning man, I am his
brother, his associate; if, instead of aiding him, I sink him, I
am his enemy, his murderer.

Whoever bestows alms treats the poor man as his associate; not
thoroughly, it is true, but only in respect to the amount which
he shares with him. Whoever takes by force or stratagem that
which is not the product of his labor, destroys his social
character--he is a brigand.

The Samaritan who relieves the traveller lying by the wayside,
dresses his wounds, comforts him, and supplies him with money,
thereby declares himself his associate--his neighbor; the priest,
who passes by on the other side, remains unassociated, and is his

In all these cases, man is moved by an internal attraction
towards his fellow, by a secret sympathy which causes him to
love, congratulate, and condole; so that, to resist this
attraction, his will must struggle against his nature.

But in these respects there is no decided difference between man
and the animals. With them, as long as the weakness of their
young endears them to their mothers,--in a word, associates them
with their mothers,--the latter protect the former, at the peril
of their lives, with a courage which reminds us of our
heroes dying for their country. Certain species unite for
hunting purposes, seek each other, call each other (a poet would
say invite each other), to share their prey; in danger they aid,
protect, and warn each other. The elephant knows how to help his
companion out of the ditch into which the latter has fallen.
Cows form a circle, with their horns outward and their calves in
the centre, in order to repel the attacks of wolves. Horses and
pigs, on hearing a cry of distress from one of their number, rush
to the spot whence it comes. What descriptions I might give of
their marriages, the tenderness of the males towards the females,
and the fidelity of their loves! Let us add, however,--to be
entirely just--that these touching demonstrations of society,
fraternity, and love of neighbor, do not prevent the animals from
quarrelling, fighting, and outrageously abusing one another while
gaining their livelihood and showing their gallantry; the
resemblance between them and ourselves is perfect.

The social instinct, in man and beast, exists to a greater or
less degree--its nature is the same. Man has the greater need of
association, and employs it more; the animal seems better able to
endure isolation. In man, social needs are more imperative and
complex; in the beast, they seem less intense, less diversified,
less regretted. Society, in a word, aims, in the case of man, at
the preservation of the race and the individual; with the
animals, its object is more exclusively the preservation of the

As yet, we have met with no claim which man can make for himself
alone. The social instinct and the moral sense he shares with
the brutes; and when he thinks to become god-like by a few acts
of charity, justice, and devotion, he does not perceive that in
so acting he simply obeys an instinct wholly animal in its
nature. As we are good, loving, tender, just, so we are
passionate, greedy, lewd, and vindictive; that is, we are like
the beasts. Our highest virtues appear, in the last analysis, as
blind, impulsive instincts. What subjects for canonization and

There is, however, a difference between us two-handed bipeds and
other living creatures--what is it?

A student of philosophy would hasten to reply: "This difference
lies in the fact that we are conscious of our social faculty,
while the animals are unconscious of theirs--in the fact that
while we reflect and reason upon the operation of our social
instinct, the animals do nothing of the kind."

I will go farther. It is by our reflective and reasoning powers,
with which we seem to be exclusively endowed, that we know that
it is injurious, first to others and then to ourselves, to resist
the social instinct which governs us, and which we call
JUSTICE. It is our reason which teaches us that the selfish
man, the robber, the murderer--in a word, the traitor to
society--sins against Nature, and is guilty with respect to
others and himself, when he does wrong wilfully. Finally, it is
our social sentiment on the one hand, and our reason on the
other, which cause us to think that beings such as we should take
the responsibility of their acts. Such is the principle of
remorse, revenge, and penal justice.

But this proves only an intellectual diversity between the
animals and man, not at all an affectional one; for, although we
reason upon our relations with our fellows, we likewise reason
upon our most trivial actions,--such as drinking, eating,
choosing a wife, or selecting a dwelling-place. We reason upon
things earthly and things heavenly; there is nothing to which our
reasoning powers are not applicable. Now, just as the knowledge
of external phenomena, which we acquire, has no influence upon
their causes and laws, so reflection, by illuminating our
instinct, enlightens us as to our sentient nature, but does not
alter its character; it tells us what our morality is, but
neither changes nor modifies it. Our dissatisfaction with
ourselves after doing wrong, the indignation which we feel at the
sight of injustice, the idea of deserved punishment and due
remuneration, are effects of reflection, and not immediate
effects of instinct and emotion. Our appreciation (I do not say
exclusive appreciation, for the animals also realize that they
have done wrong, and are indignant when one of their number is
attacked, but), our infinitely superior appreciation of our
social duties, our knowledge of good and evil, does not
establish, as regards morality, any vital difference between man
and the beasts.

% 2.--Of the first and second degrees of Sociability.

I insist upon the fact, which I have just pointed out, as one of
the most important facts of anthropology.

The sympathetic attraction, which causes us to associate, is, by
reason of its blind, unruly nature, always governed by temporary
impulse, without regard to higher rights, and without distinction
of merit or priority. The bastard dog follows indifferently all
who call it; the suckling child regards every man as its father
and every woman as its nurse; every living creature, when
deprived of the society of animals of its species, seeks
companionship in its solitude. This fundamental characteristic
of the social instinct renders intolerable and even hateful the
friendship of frivolous persons, liable to be infatuated with
every new face, accommodating to all whether good or bad, and
ready to sacrifice, for a passing liaison, the oldest and most
honorable affections. The fault of such beings is not in the
heart--it is in the judgment. Sociability, in this degree, is a
sort of magnetism awakened in us by the contemplation of a
being similar to ourselves, but which never goes beyond the
person who feels it; it may be reciprocated, but not
communicated. Love, benevolence, pity, sympathy, call it what
you will, there is nothing in it which deserves esteem,--nothing
which lifts man above the beast.

The second degree of sociability is justice, which may be defined
AND OUR OWN. The sentiment of justice we share with the
animals; we alone can form an exact idea of it; but our idea, as
has been said already, does not change its nature. We shall soon
see how man rises to a third degree of sociability which the
animals are incapable of reaching. But I must first prove by
metaphysics that SOCIETY, JUSTICE, and EQUALITY, are three
equivalent terms,--three expressions meaning the same thing,--
whose mutual conversion is always allowable.

If, amid the confusion of a shipwreck, having escaped in a boat
with some provisions, I see a man struggling with the waves, am I
bound to go to his assistance? Yes, I am bound under penalty of
being adjudged guilty of murder and treason against society.

But am I also bound to share with him my provisions?

To settle this question, we must change the phraseology. If
society is binding on the boat, is it also binding on the
provisions? Undoubtedly. The duty of an associate is absolute.
Man's occupancy succeeds his social nature, and is subordinate to
it; possession can become exclusive only when permission to
occupy is granted to all alike. That which in this instance
obscures our duty is our power of foresight, which, causing us to
fear an eventual danger, impels us to usurpation, and makes us
robbers and murderers. Animals do not calculate the duty of
instinct any more than the disadvantages resulting to those who
exercise it; it would be strange if the intellect of man--
the most sociable of animals--should lead him to disobey the law.

He betrays society who attempts to use it only for his own
advantage; better that God should deprive us of prudence, if it
is to serve as the tool of our selfishness.

"What!" you will say, "must I share my bread, the bread which I
have earned and which belongs to me, with the stranger whom I do
not know; whom I may never see again, and who, perhaps, will
reward me with ingratitude? If we had earned this bread
together, if this man had done something to obtain it, he might
demand his share, since his co-operation would entitle him to it;
but as it is, what claim has he on me? We have not produced
together--we shall not eat together."

The fallacy in this argument lies in the false supposition, that
each producer is not necessarily associated with every other

When two or more individuals have regularly organized a
society,--when the contracts have been agreed upon, drafted, and
signed,--there is no difficulty about the future. Everybody
knows that when two men associate--for instance--in order to
fish, if one of them catches no fish, he is none the less
entitled to those caught by his associate. If two merchants form
a partnership, while the partnership lasts, the profits and
losses are divided between them; since each produces, not for
himself, but for the society: when the time of distribution
arrives, it is not the producer who is considered, but the
associate. That is why the slave, to whom the planter gives
straw and rice; and the civilized laborer, to whom the capitalist
pays a salary which is always too small,--not being associated
with their employers, although producing with them,--are
disregarded when the product is divided. Thus, the horse
who draws our coaches, and the ox who draws our carts produce
with us, but are not associated with us; we take their product,
but do not share it with them. The animals and laborers whom we
employ hold the same relation to us. Whatever we do for them, we
do, not from a sense of justice, but out of pure benevolence.[1]

[1] To perform an act of benevolence towards one's neighbor is
called, in Hebrew, to do justice; in Greek, to take
compassion or pity ({GREEK n n f e },from which is derived
the French _aumone_); in Latin, to perform an act of love or
charity; in French, give alms. We can trace the degradation
of this principle through these various expressions: the first
signifies duty; the second only sympathy; the third, affection, a
matter of choice, not an obligation; the fourth, caprice.

But is it possible that we are not all associated? Let us call
to mind what was said in the last two chapters, That even though
we do not want to be associated, the force of things, the
necessity of consumption, the laws of production, and the
mathematical principle of exchange combine to associate us.
There is but a single exception to this rule,--that of the
proprietor, who, producing by his right of increase, is not
associated with any one, and consequently is not obliged to share
his product with any one; just as no one else is bound to share
with him. With the exception of the proprietor, we labor for
each other; we can do nothing by ourselves unaided by others, and
we continually exchange products and services with each other.
If these are not social acts, what are they?

Now, neither a commercial, nor an industrial, nor an agricultural
association can be conceived of in the absence of equality;
equality is its sine qua non. So that, in all matters which
concern this association, to violate society is to violate
justice and equality. Apply this principle to humanity at large.

After what has been said, I assume that the reader
has sufficient insight to enable him to dispense with any
aid of mine.

By this principle, the man who takes possession of a field, and
says, "This field is mine," will not be unjust so long as every
one else has an equal right of possession; nor will he be unjust,
if, wishing to change his location, he exchanges this field for
an equivalent. But if, putting another in his place, he says to
him, "Work for me while I rest," he then becomes unjust,
unassociated, UNEQUAL. He is a proprietor.

Reciprocally, the sluggard, or the rake, who, without performing
any social task, enjoys like others--and often more than others--
the products of society, should be proceeded against as a thief
and a parasite. We owe it to ourselves to give him nothing; but,
since he must live, to put him under supervision, and compel him
to labor.

Sociability is the attraction felt by sentient beings for each
other. Justice is this same attraction, accompanied by thought
and knowledge. But under what general concept, in what category
of the understanding, is justice placed? In the category of
equal quantities. Hence, the ancient definition of justice--
_Justum aequale est, injustum inaequale_. What is it, then, to
practise justice? It is to give equal wealth to each, on
condition of equal labor. It is to act socially. Our
selfishness may complain; there is no escape from evidence and

What is the right of occupancy? It is a natural method of
dividing the earth, by reducing each laborer's share as fast as
new laborers present themselves. This right disappears if the
public interest requires it; which, being the social interest, is
also that of the occupant.

What is the right of labor? It is the right to obtain one's
share of wealth by fulfilling the required conditions. It
is the right of society, the right of equality.

Justice, which is the product of the combination of an idea and
an instinct, manifests itself in man as soon as he is capable of
feeling, and of forming ideas. Consequently, it has been
regarded as an innate and original sentiment; but this opinion is
logically and chronologically false. But justice, by its
composition hybrid--if I may use the term,--justice, born of
emotion and intellect combined, seems to me one of the strongest
proofs of the unity and simplicity of the ego; the organism
being no more capable of producing such a mixture by itself, than
are the combined senses of hearing and sight of forming a binary
sense, half auditory and half visual.

This double nature of justice gives us the definitive basis of
all the demonstrations in Chapters II., III., and IV. On the one
hand, the idea of JUSTICE being identical with that of society,
and society necessarily implying equality, equality must underlie
all the sophisms invented in defence of property; for, since
property can be defended only as a just and social institution,
and property being inequality, in order to prove that property is
in harmony with society, it must be shown that injustice is
justice, and that inequality is equality,--a contradiction in
terms. On the other hand, since the idea of equality--the second
element of justice--has its source in the mathematical
proportions of things; and since property, or the unequal
distribution of wealth among laborers, destroys the necessary
balance between labor, production, and consumption,--property
must be impossible.

All men, then, are associated; all are entitled to the same
justice; all are equal. Does it follow that the preferences of
love and friendship are unjust?

This requires explanation. I have already supposed the case of a
man in peril, I being in a position to help him. Now, I suppose
myself appealed to at the same time by two men exposed to danger.

Am I not allowed--am I not commanded even--to rush first to the
aid of him who is endeared to me by ties of blood, friendship,
acquaintance, or esteem, at the risk of leaving the other to
perish? Yes. And why? Because within universal society there
exist for each of us as many special societies as there are
individuals; and we are bound, by the principle of sociability
itself, to fulfil the obligations which these impose upon us,
according to the intimacy of our relations with them. Therefore
we must give our father, mother, children, friends, relatives,
&c., the preference over all others. But in what consists this

A judge has a case to decide, in which one of the parties is his
friend, and the other his enemy. Should he, in this instance,
decide the case in favor of his friend, in spite of evidence to
the contrary? No: for, if he should favor his friend's
injustice, he would become his accomplice in his violation of the
social compact; he would form with him a sort of conspiracy
against the social body. Preference should be shown only in
personal matters, such as love, esteem, confidence, or intimacy,
when all cannot be considered at once. Thus, in case of fire, a
father would save his own child before thinking of his
neighbor's; but the recognition of a right not being an optional
matter with a judge, he is not at liberty to favor one person to
the detriment of another.

The theory of these special societies--which are formed
concentrically, so to speak, by each of us inside of the main
body--gives the key to all the problems which arise from the
opposition and conflict of the different varieties of social
duty,--problems upon which the ancient tragedies are based.

The justice practised among animals is, in a certain degree,
negative. With the exception of protecting their young, hunting
and plundering in troops, uniting for common defence and
sometimes for individual assistance, it consists more in
prevention than in action. A sick animal who cannot arise from
the ground, or an imprudent one who has fallen over a precipice,
receives neither medicine nor nourishment. If he cannot cure
himself, nor relieve himself of his trouble, his life is in
danger: he will neither be cared for in bed, nor fed in a prison.

Their neglect of their fellows arises as much from the weakness
of their intellect as from their lack of resources. Still, the
degrees of intimacy common among men are not unknown to the
animals. They have friendships of habit and of choice;
friendships neighborly, and friendships parental. In comparison
with us, they have feeble memories, sluggish feelings, and are
almost destitute of intelligence; but the identity of these
faculties is preserved to some extent, and our superiority in
this respect arises entirely from our understanding.

It is our strength of memory and penetration of judgment which
enable us to multiply and combine the acts which our social
instinct impels us to perform, and which teaches us how to render
them more effective, and how to distribute them justly. The
beasts who live in society practise justice, but are ignorant of
its nature, and do not reason upon it; they obey their instinct
without thought or philosophy. They know not how to unite the
social sentiment with the idea of equality, which they do not
possess; this idea being an abstract one. We, on the contrary,
starting with the principle that society implies equality, can,
by our reasoning faculty, understand and agree with each
other in settling our rights; we have even used our judgment to a
great extent. But in all this our conscience plays a small part,
as is proved by the fact that the idea of RIGHT--of which we
catch a glimpse in certain animals who approach nearer than any
others to our standard of intelligence--seems to grow, from the
low level at which it stands in savages, to the lofty height
which it reaches in a Plato or a Franklin. If we trace the
development of the moral sense in individuals, and the progress
of laws in nations, we shall be convinced that the ideas of
justice and legislative perfection are always proportional to
intelligence. The notion of justice--which has been regarded by
some philosophers as simple--is then, in reality, complex. It
springs from the social instinct on the one hand, and the idea of
equality on the other; just as the notion of guilt arises from
the feeling that justice has been violated, and from the idea of

In conclusion, instinct is not modified by acquaintance with its
nature; and the facts of society, which we have thus far
observed, occur among beasts as well as men. We know the meaning
of justice; in other words, of sociability viewed from the
standpoint of equality. We have met with nothing which separates
us from the animals.

% 3.--Of the third degree of Sociability.

The reader, perhaps, has not forgotten what was said in the third
chapter concerning the division of labor and the speciality of
talents. The sum total of the talents and capacities of the race
is always the same, and their nature is always similar. We are
all born poets, mathematicians, philosophers, artists, artisans,
or farmers, but we are not born equally endowed; and between one
man and another in society, or between one faculty and
another in the same individual, there is an infinite difference.
This difference of degree in the same faculties, this
predominance of talent in certain directions, is, we have said,
the very foundation of our society. Intelligence and natural
genius have been distributed by Nature so economically, and yet
so liberally, that in society there is no danger of either a
surplus or a scarcity of special talents; and that each laborer,
by devoting himself to his function, may always attain to the
degree of proficiency necessary to enable him to benefit by the
labors and discoveries of his fellows. Owing to this simple and
wise precaution of Nature, the laborer is not isolated by his
task. He communicates with his fellows through the mind, before
he is united with them in heart; so that with him love is born of

It is not so with societies of animals. In every species, the
aptitudes of all the individuals--though very limited--are equal
in number and (when they are not the result of instinct) in
intensity. Each one does as well as all the others what all the
others do; provides his food, avoids the enemy, burrows in the
earth, builds a nest, &c. No animal, when free and healthy,
expects or requires the aid of his neighbor; who, in his turn, is
equally independent.

Associated animals live side by side without any intellectual
intercourse or intimate communication,--all doing the same
things, having nothing to learn or to remember; they see, feel,
and come in contact with each other, but never penetrate each
other. Man continually exchanges with man ideas and feelings,
products and services. Every discovery and act in society is
necessary to him. But of this immense quantity of products and
ideas, that which each one has to produce and acquire for himself
is but an atom in the sun. Man would not be man were it not
for society, and society is supported by the balance and harmony
of the powers which compose it.

Society, among the animals, is SIMPLE; with man it is
COMPLEX. Man is associated with man by the same instinct which
associates animal with animal; but man is associated differently
from the animal, and it is this difference in association which
constitutes the difference in morality.

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