Page images

population of the Rhenish cities, whose Teutonic lineage is open to much question. A strong presumption of revolutionary tendencies is established by experience against every large town which dates its origin from the old Roman colonies. With respect to the part taken by English workmen in its operations, the most satisfactory thing that can be said is, that at the various congresses which have been held by the Association, the larger number of the representatives of England have been men with names of a singularly un-English_flavour, such as Eccarius, Jung, Cohn, Matens, Lessner, and Dupont.* As M. Dupont himself observes, • The English have all the materials necessary for the social revolution ; but what they lack is the spirit of generalisation and the revolutionary passion . . . What folly, then-nay, what a crimeto allow it to fall into hands purely English.'t

The numbers of the Association have been very variously estimated. In the trial of June, 1870, the Procureur Imperial assumed their entire number at about 800,000, of whom he assigned a tenth part to this country. M. Testut, who professes to have devoted numerous researches to the subject, fixes the total for Europe and America at five millions ; M. Albert Richard, the principal champion of Socialism at Lyons, claims a following for the Internationale of not less than seven millions. These extreme figures are probably fanciful, and the great divergence between the various estimates indicates that they all rest, more or less, upon conjecture. Whether the Society disposes of the large means that are sometimes claimed for it is doubtful. It is certain that more than one strike in France and Switzerland which it has supported—e.g. Creuzot, Neuville, Fourchambaud, Bâle—has failed for want of funds. But that its numbers are very large and that its propaganda is carried on with great vigour cannot be questioned. It has about twenty newspapers in its interest on the Continent, besides two or three in this country. The literary championship which it commands is probably as good as the extravagance of the doctrines which have to be defended will allow ; but the writing necessarily consists more of vehement declamation than of any attempt at tranquil argument. That such doctrines as the Internationale sustains can be preached with applause to a vast number of men, of whom many, at least, are well educated, is, after all, its most remarkable distinction, and will remain, whatever the practical issue may be, one of the intellectual phenomena of the nineteenth century. We have often during the last two generations have had mad speculations upon social reconstruction from the pens of eccentric writers. The peculiarity of the present state of things is that their views have been adopted and improved upon by a whole class.

* Testut, pp. 124, 135, 145.

† Ibid. p. 237.


So far as can be gathered from the declamation which infects the resolutions of their congresses and their formal addresses almost as much as the articles in their newspapers, it is against the capitalist that their chief anger is directed. Of course they wish to exterminate the landlord as well as the capitalist.

Society has a right,' so runs the resolution of their Congress at Bâle, 'to abolish individual ownership of the soil: and it is necessary that the ownership of the soil should be resumed by the community.' The same fate awaits all mines, quarries, railways, canals, telegraphs, coal-mines, machines of all kinds, and all other instruments of labour.* In the mean time, until this happy consummation is brought about, no employer is to use a machine until he has first compensated all the workmen whom it may displace. The demand, however, for the seizure of all immovable property, though it appears in every statement of their objects, is not the urgent necessity of the hour. “The landlord now is but the sleeping partner of the capitalist.’t “The landlords are the more remote, the capitalists the more direct antagonists of the working men.' It is the middle-class capitalist to whom they attribute their present sufferings and whom they are most anxious to destroy. All middle-class politics, whatever their colour or their name, can have at bottom but one objectthe maintenance of middle-class domination; and middle-class domination is the slavery of the proletariat.'s The law gives to the capitalist the right to reduce the proletaire to slavery by famine.' In truth we see everywhere capital ruling, speculating, warring against the workman. The capitalists of to-day are the successors of the slave-owners of ancient times and of the feudal lords of the middle ages.'T

And accordingly, in many of their publications, slave owner' is the ordinary term used to designate the man who is wicked enough to possess capital and to use it in employing other people. The case is put perhaps, as favourably to the workmen as it can be put, by Mr. Frederic Harrison :

• The people of Paris believe not in any God or any man. But they have a religion of their own: and for that religion they are prepared to die. That religion is the faith that capital and its holders must adapt themselves to nobler uses, or they had better cease to exist. . . . Little knowing how to end it, or what it might be that would save them, they have thrown up this tremendous yet wild veto on the absolute reign of capital. It is their protest against the selfish anti-social independence of wealth.'

* Congress of Brussels, Res. 3, 6. t • Address of the General Council,' p. 20. $ * Address of the General Council, p. 16.

$ Testut, p. 13. Il ‘Paris Section, 1870, ap. Testut, p. 82. q.Section of Geneva,' ap. Testut, p. 260. Vol. 131.–No. 262.


2 o

Mr. Harrison gives rather too grand a colouring to the sentiments of his favourites. They do not in the least contemplate that capital should cease to exist'-whatever their view in respect to its holders may be. Such would certainly be the result of their success; but what they themselves propose is that the capital should pass into their own hands. As the Council of the Internationale itself puts it:

• The Commune intended to abolish that class property which makes the labour of the many the wealth of the few. It aimed at the expropriation of the expropriators.”

The ultimate objects of the movement are stated with abundant clearness. They amount simply to this : that the workmen shall have land without buying it, capital without accumulating it, machinery and the instruments of labour without paying for them. But when we come to enquire into the measures by which these beneficent ends are to be accomplished, their language loses its precision. We get nothing but a haze of declamation, The only step proposed by them which can be called practical, is the entire abolition of the right of inheritance. No human being is to be allowed to inherit, or receive by bequest, anything from any other human being. “If, says M. Richard, parents more active and more intelligent than others, and who had amassed some fortune, were allowed to set up a special privilege in favour of their children by bequeathing this fortune to them, solidarity would be struck at in the very heart.'† This is the general tone of the writers in socialist newspapers. It embodies much the same feeling as that which has dictated the common Trades Union rule that a good workman is not to be allowed to take any advantage of his clumsier neighbour by doing more work within the same time. The literary men, however, of any movement are usually more thoroughgoing than the silent members who are less accustomed to generalise ; and this proposal to forbid all inheritance does not yet receive unanimous support. At the Congress of Bâle it was carried by a large majority of those who voted; but a considerable number abstained from voting. M. Eccarius, one of the gentlemen with a foreign name who represented England, advanced Mr. Lowe's proposal of an increased succession duty as a kind of middle term. But the suggestion met with little favour, and was rejected by a large majority. The proposal, however, to abolish inleritances is very dear to the hearts of the leading men,

It seems to them to be the most feasible way of attaining their object, the prevention of individual accumulation. Even to their fevered brains the chance of wresting from every individual all that he

** Address of the General Council,' p. 20.

† Ap. Testut, p. 11,


has contrived to earn may seem precarious ; but at all events they think they can prevail over the dead hand. Yet they are aware that natural affection, and in fact the very existence of the family, would interpose a serious obstacle even to this mitigated robbery. Accordingly they find themselves forced to declare war against the family, and, as a necessary consequence, against religion altogether. At first sight it appears inexplicable that they should have gone out of their way to array against them the vast social force which religion still happily represents. As regards the rougher and more brutal instruments no explanation is necessary. The lust for plunder and hatred of the name of God are emotions of the same order, and are apt, where there is temptation, to go together. But some of the thinkers, or rather dreamers, who are the informing spirits of the movement, are men of pure morality, and at least flatter themselves that they are in pursuit of a high philanthropic ideal. They have convinced themselves, by some strange process of reasoning, that individual accumulation is the source of all human ills; and they see plainly enough that natural affection, the product of the family life, leads inevitably to accumulation. Consequently, with the remorseless logic of theoretical politicians, they declare war against the family and the religion that supports it. The programme of the Socialist Alliance of Geneva, which was admitted to form part of the Internationale, in 1869, puts forward very distinctly this connection of ideas :

1. The Alliance declares itself atheist : it demands the abolition of all worship, the substitution of science for faith, and of divine justice for human justice : the abolition of marriage, so far as it is a political, religious, juridical, or civil institution,

. 2. It demands, specially the definitive and entire abolition of classes, the political, social, and economical equalisation of the sexes, and, to arrive at that end, above all the abolition of the right of inheritance, so that in the future the enjoyments of each man should correspond exactly to his production.'

Among the many points of correspondence between the policy of the Commune and that of the Internationale, none was more remarkable than the antipathy to religion which marked the former from the very first. The first Revolution worked itself for a time into the same temper : but it was only after two or three years of conflict, and during the acutest paroxysm of the Terror. But the Commune became bitterly hostile to religion before it had become sanguinary. The persecution of nuns,

the expulsion and imprisonment of priests, the prohibition of all religious education, the conversion of churches into spoutinghalls for socialist clubs, commenced almost before the elections

[ocr errors]

* Ap. Testut, p. 25.



for the Commune were complete. At these clubs, which became numerous during the second siege, one of the favourite subjects of vituperation, generally from the mouth of a female orator, was the institution of marriage. But, though it occupied a prominent place, it only shared the fate of many other sacred things. Sacramental vessels were plundered ; altars were turned to the vilest uses; the holiest personages were made the subjects of vile ribaldry and of gross caricature. Exactly the same spirit is shown in the Socialist writings and speeches. We will have no more religions, for religions stifle intelligence,' says M. Dupont, the President at the Congress of Brussels.* Le bon Dieu a fait son temps, en voila assez,' says Varlin, the head of the Internationale at Paris. •The Bible is the code of immorality,' says Murat. I • Three scourges,' says another, “exist in perpetuity to prey upon the productions of humanity-the priest, the soldier, and the fundholder.'S In a similar spirit English writers of the extreme schoo} are never tired of inveighing against the Christian ministers of every denomination. Mr. Morley denounces the Protestant clergy of this island as “a sinister army of twenty-eight thousand men in masks.'| Mr. Harrison designates the religion of the Roman Catholics as 'a religion of lies, with imposture for its creed and servility for its object:' and informs us that its clergy have • offered in return for their possessions to preach a bloody vengeance on the workmen.' |

Our excuse for detailing these ravings at such length is assuredly not that they are new. The only new thing is that they should be the watchwords of a vast organisation : that they should have represented the policy of rulers who, a few months ago, were masters of Paris, and who, if M. Thiers had been but a little weaker, might by this time have been supreme in France. We have rather recalled the principles of the Socialists in the words of their leaders and advocates, because people are apt to forget how deep, how impassable is the gulf which separates their objects from all that we honour and value upon earth. We are prone to judge harshly of the party of order in France, and to condemn their measures of self-defence, without reflecting what kind of enemy it is with whom they have to deal. In Mr. Harrison's dialect the workmen of Paris are described as 'the most truly religious class in Europe.' But as he has told us in a former publication that they believe not in any God or any man,' we must conclude that he uses the word “religion' in

sense diametrically opposite to that which it has hitherto borne among mankind. Faith,''charity,''Catholic,' are words



Sept. 13, 1858, ‘Peuple Belge,' ap. Testut, p. 13. # Testut, p. 30.

| 'Fortnightly Review.'

+ • Livre Noir,' p. 85. § Testut. p. 38. Ibid.

« PreviousContinue »