Chapter 4. Socialist-Collectivism and Anarchist-Communism

This new characteristic has not yet appeared within the thought of classical democracy, which, following in the footsteps of Ledru-Rollin and Mazzini[29], is still raving about the Utopia of an impossible alliance between capital and labour, an impossible harmony between the exploited and the exploiters. Socialist philosophy expressed it as the social ownership of all means of production and exchange.

So, the socialist movement represents a progress over the old democratic doctrine, which used to lull us to sleep with its old nursery songs about alliances and harmony.

Such progress becomes more and more evident as the huge proletariat of all nations, called to action and insurrection by the new social theories, inspires and hastens the selective processes within the socialist party itself.

Because, even if there is no disagreement, generally speaking, on the main point (the abolition of private ownership of the means of production and exchange), nor on the ultimate aim (the social ownership of such means of production and exchange), even if there is no disagreement, generally speaking, about the means necessary for accomplishing the great transformation, even if it is generally agreed that the emancipation of the working people must be the result of the workers’ own effort and that the expropriation of the bourgeoisie can only be brought about“... by the violent destruction of the present social orders”; yet differences of opinion and frictions will emerge, sharp and numberless at every step, just as soon as one passes from theory to practice and experiment, as soon as a hypothesis is put forth concerning the relations that might bind together the dwellers of the happy city that the revolution will erect upon the ruins of private property.

So, at the International Workers Association, when the problem arose of how to translate the generic formula ‘social ownership’ of all means of production and exchange into terms describing with precision what everyone wanted, many said ‘collectivism’, many others ‘communism’, some said the ‘socialist state’ and others wanted ‘anarchy’; some preferred ‘conquest of power’ and some ‘social revolution’.

Hence, disagreement over the economic and the political aims, disagreement about the means of propaganda and action. And we have already pointed out that the initial disagreements became in time irreconcilable antagonisms.

The two main opposing schools were in perfect agreement about the illegitimacy of private property and in favour of socializing all means of production and exchange, and, together, they brought into the struggles for economic emancipation a new concept and brought into the continuum of evolutionary phenomena a more progressive phase. Now the problem is to find out if and to what extent each of the two schools has remained faithful to this notion of progress immediately following the period of broad generalizations; if, in their hurry to apply principles to reality, each has retained any, and how much, of the old systems condemned by history, criticism and reason; how much does each one of them carry along that is inert, dead, or Utopian; and, finally, which of them is entitled to speak in the name of life and of the future.

Now those who said ‘collectivism’, meant socialization limited to the means of production and exchange. ”We do not want to abolish in any manner the private appropriation of the product of labour . . . what we want to abolish is the wretched way appropriation is done, whereby the worker lives only to increase capital and lives only so long as and because the interest of the ruling class demands it”.

This same thought was expressed even with more precision by Andrea Costa,[30] after his conversion to parliamentary socialism. At the Italian Socialist Party Congress in Mantua, on September 26, 1886, he defined collectivism as “. . . communalization of the means of production, reserving for the individual as private property his work’s production, thus assuring the rights of the community, on one side, and those of the worker, on the other.”

In his Quintessence of Socialism Shaffle said the same thing with less clarity but more explicitly: “Substituting collective for private capital means that, instead of the system of private production, there is a system based on the collective ownership of all means of production. Besides obtaining a more unified, a more social, a more collective organization of labour, this system of production would eliminate day-to-day competition; it would place that part of production which is susceptible to collective operation under the direction of professional entities and corporations, and would also direct the division or distribution of the collective products according to the social value of each worker’s labour.”[31]

Then, it is clear that in collectivism, the socialization of property — the new trait that elevates socialist thought and movement to a level of progress unknown to all preceding theories and schools — is limited to the means of production, while it reserves for the individual worker all rights to the fruits of his work.

The collectivist premise of socializing the means of production is revolutionary insofar as it displaces all the old relations, all the old forms and, in so doing, counters private property with collective social ownership of all means of production. But it remains the conservator of the old absurd irrational bourgeois criterion of compensation, insomuch as it regulates everyone’s share of the products of common work, even if such compensation should be extended to the final product of each one’s work.

Of course, the conclusion that socialist-collectivism derives from its revolutionary socialization of all means of production is irrational, absurd and Utopian, because it does not resolve the political problem of equality and freedom; because it confirms, rather than removes, the hypothesis of the State, against which the socialist critique has struggled for half a century; because it is not supported by a logical and positive criterion; because it will never find practical means of explanation, unless they are based on gross iniquity, stupid privileges, strident inequalities and contradictions.

The demonstration is implicit in the very form that collectivism assumes. It proposes a society based on the common ownership of all means of production and exchange and the private ownership of one’s own work, a formula which creates an initial inequality that would turn out to be a Pandora’s box, out of which would come all kinds of rivalries, hatreds, and competitions, worse and deadlier than the social inequalities existing in our times.

The socialists say that each will receive the value of each one’s work from the product of the collective work. But we know, even now, that intelligence, strength, activity, aptitude and physical capability vary from person to person, so that the quantity and quality of their production is bound to vary from person to person, and each worker will be entitled to receive a different quota of the product. Thus, it has to be admitted that the citizens of the collectivist city will satisfy their needs in an unequal measure, since it appears obvious that those who produce more and better will be entitled to receive more of the product of the social work than the unlucky ones who, being less strong and less capable, will produce less or with more strenuous effort.

And one will have to admit, willingly or not, that this is the first absurdity, the first inequality and the first injustice.

An absurdity, because no labour union, were it the most intelligent and bold within international collectivism, will ever find the standard with which to evaluate the effort and the strain which its members — varying and differently developed — are forced to exert in order to give their necessary contribution to the collective production. Nor will it find the means to evaluate the raw manual labour requiring a minimal effort from a strong, intelligent young man, but causing great pain for a weak, less intelligent, and awkward person who, nevertheless, will be called to show the total of his work done before he opens the account of his needs. Beyond sheer manual labour, it will be even harder to determine the value of the wages due for work less measurable in its nature and in its processes, but no less useful in its results — when, for instance, one must determine the use value of Pascal’s theorem, or of Newton’s law of gravitation, or of Marconi’s wireless telegraphy.[32]

* * *

Even if this impossible evaluation criterion were found, the injustice would not be less evident and real. Those who by nature or a fortunate environment have been endowed with a powerful body, or a sharp mind, or with a more pronounced disposition to undertake any difficult endeavour, will be able to produce abundantly without effort, without pain, while he who has received from an unjust nature or a less fortunate environment a feebler body, a lesser mind, or less varied aptitudes, will produce with pain and in smaller quantities.

It is obvious that, if there has to be some consideration, this should be in favour of those who arc below average, because their needs are more numerous and more urgent, needs that are less numerous and less pressing in healthy and normal people, who find pleasure and satisfaction in their work.

Contrariwise, with a Malthusianism that couldn’t be more idiotic or ferocious, collectivism reserves for the less-endowed all the pains of a social hell; and it assures those who had from nature all the blessings of intelligence and the ability to perform a great variety of work, all the joys of life from the beginning.

Thus, from the marriage of the absurd with injustice, we have socialist-collectivism reconsecrating the division of society in two classes: the class of the strong, of the quick, of the fortunate to whom all satisfactions are guaranteed; and the class of the feeble, the slow, the inept whose perpetual inheritance will be deprivations, disgrace and poverty.

Hatred, rivalry and unhealthy jealousy will spring from the unequal private ownership of labour’s product in a more furious way than those inequalities that are fomented in our times by the private ownership of all means of production and exchange.

Even now, socialist-collectivism forsees such inequality and the consequent division of society into two enemy classes; and it tries to avoid it by means of a state administration, created to supervise production and distribution and to re-establish, where necessary, the social equilibrium where imperiled or disturbed by the social inequalities.

True, the collectivists hasten to add that the new State would have mere administrative functions and that, keeping an eye on things, it would scrupulously abstain from being a ruler of men. But the more orthodox exponents of socialist collectivism, like Morgari, are arising against this oblique sophism. He writes, “It is impossible to understand what the distinction between government of people and management of things could mean in practice. In our times the State does both: it governs the citizens and manages directly one-fifth of the country’s wealth. Equally, under socialism, we would have the management of things and the government of the people, and these would be bound by law to even more social duties, both in number and in depth, than there are today”.[33]

As opposed to a bourgeois regime, which, in spite of its constitutional lies, is the rule of a minority over the majority, socialist-collectivism may be the rule of the majority over the minority, and, even supposing that it might be a mitigated form of tyranny, it would still represent a denial of freedom, so much so, that the same Morgari, who foresees man armed with education and the vote, but controlled by social covenants; ie laws that the majority will approve from time to time, is forced to admit that collectivism will, of necessity, maintain . . . the authoritarian principle; that is to say, the coercive means regulating labour and other social institutions, and that therefore collectivism is a lower stage of social evolution compared to anarchism.

It had to be just our good old Merlino to vindicate the charm of socialist-collectivism among the woolly-minded and to rehabilitate its reputation among the masses as the ultimate stage of the social progress in comparison to, and much to the confusion and mortification of, libertarian communism.

* * *

Meanwhile, in contrast to the tortuous and contradictory premise of common ownership of all means of production and exchange — tempered by the private ownership of the product of one’s own labour — that is waved about by socialist-collectivism, libertarian communism begins with two logical terms much more correlative and positive: the common ownership of all means of production and exchange, and the equal right of all to receive from the total production of collective work according to his or her needs. This means that from a revolutionary premise (socialization of the means of production) collectivism draws a reactionary conclusion (compensation according to one’s work rather than according to one’s needs) and re-establishes within the collectivist city the same economic and political inequalities, all the old and discredited legal and moral relations. Instead, libertarian communism from a revolutionary premise (common ownership of all means of production and exchange) draws a conclusion equally revolutionary: to each according to his or her needs, which shifts, at the same time, the axis of all the old relationships, legal, political and moral, and, in so doing, proclaims a new idea, revealing also in the ethical and the political field, the new trait, the plus missing until most recently, which will be the embryo of the new revolutionary period that will assert the ungovernability of man, autonomy and anarchy.

As a matter of fact, in shunning the absurd and arbitrary notion of compensation (which, together with its opposite poles, reward and punishment, reproduces in the collectivist world the catholic contrast between vice and virtue, the catholic predestination to heaven or hell, according to whether its future citizens reveal themselves good or bad at the necessary task of production), libertarian communism rejects the Utopia, the incoherence, and the injustice implicit in the collectivist pretense of measuring the effort and the energy of each worker in order to compensate him or her according to the use-value of his or her labour, and, in so doing, it resolves the problem of each and everyone’s sharing the product of the collective work, without arbitrary limitations, without odious controls, without offense to justice or liberty.

Libertarian communism does not feel that the rights and limits of such participation should be dictated by merit or demerit, by the greater or lesser aptitude and productivity of the single worker. It should be inspired by the unsuppressible right of each organism to go all the way and under the best possible conditions in its ascent from the most elementary to superior and more complex forms; it should be the unsuppressible right of every person to grow, to develop his faculties in every way, to achieve his full and integral development.

Now, this ascent of the organism from a rudimentary to a fully developed state is marked by a series of ever-more, growing and varied needs claiming satisfaction, and its progressive development results from the more or less complete satisfaction of those numberless and infinitely diverse needs.

The newborn baby, who at his first contact with air and light protests with his first cry, warns us that the change of temperature is too sudden and that he cannot adapt himself to the new environment without danger, without pain, and without many precautions. The newly-delivered mother, who even in the lower stages of the animal kingdom has foreseen these dangers, has softened the nest with the finest feathers or hair, pulled tuft after tuft from her own aching bosom, and will cover her offspring with her warm body as soon as it has been born in order to protect it from the rude fondlings of the wind and of the sun.

It is the first step, signalled by the urgency of purely animal, purely physiological needs. But, once out of the nest, once out of the cradle, the new citizen stumbles upon a whole chain of experiences, each one more challenging than the last, calling on new organs that have not been used before or have been neglected, to move and to function in order to gain successes and victories, to ward off dangers, to sense satisfactions, and to attain the enjoyment they promise.

It is a whole series of psychological needs that demand satisfaction through this storm-like activity; it is an endless series of whys?, persistently curious and fortunately inexhaustible, with which children exasperate us. In so doing they let us know their need to understand, to know, to learn, and we try to satisfy that need with our personal knowledge, with schools and books, with the educational work which reflects and epitomizes the heritage of experience arduously accumulated during centuries of sufferings and mistakes.

Another step. Others will follow later. But the more we advance, the more complicated and extensive becomes the series of needs, which is the index of the progress realized by the individual as well as the community. A farmer who lives in an Alpine valley, in the present conditions of his development, may have satisfied all his needs—eaten, drunk, and rested to his heart’s content; while a worker who lives in London, in Paris, or in Berlin, may willingly give up a quarter of his salary and several hours of his rest, in order to satisfy a whole category of needs totally unknown to the farmer stranded among the gorges of the Alps or the peaks of the Apennine mountains — to spend an hour of intense and moving life at the theatre, at the museum or at the library, to buy a recently published book or the latest issue of a newspaper, to enjoy a performance of Wagner or a lecture at the Sorbonne.

Since these needs vary, not only according to time and place, but also according to the temperament, disposition and development of each individual, it is clear that only he or she who experiences and feels them is in a position to appreciate them and to measure adequately the satisfaction they may give.

Therefore, in drawing the measure of each person’s share in the total social production from need, from the complex and infinite needs of each organism, rather than from the social use-value of each one’s labour, anarchist-communism is inspired not only by a logical motive, but also by an eminently practical criterion of equality and justice.

The very bourgeois objection that the total production is insufficient for the full satisfaction of everybody’s needs belongs to those objections which have been triumphantly defeated by the socialist-collectivists as well as by the anarchist-communists. Furthermore, they are even now easily defeated, daily, on the basis of undeniable facts aligned in opposition to all laudatores temporis nostri,[those who praise our times (ie the ‘good old days’)].

There is no reason, therefore, to repeat here for the thousandth lime the same refutation. [L. Galleani; who greatly admired Kropotkin, was probably referring to his many writings on this topic; eg The Conquest of Bread, Modern Science and Anarchism, Fields, Factories and Workshops].

As the ways and measure of the satisfaction of needs vary from person to person, according to their development and to the particular environment in which they live, while the right to satisfy them in the manner which each person, the sole judge, deems convenient, remains equal for all;equality and justice could not receive a more real and sincere sanction than that which is given by the libertarian communist conception of society. All have an equal right to live a full life — the strong and the weak, the intelligent and the dull, the capable and the inept; and, without regard to the contribution each one may have given to the total production of society, they all have the same right to satisfy their needs and to reach the superior forms of higher development.

“But does this anarchist-communist premise to freedom, to individual liberty, give an equally logical and trustworthy warranty? Suppose among the dwellers of the future society there were some who liked to dissipate and refused to do any kind of work? Wouldn’t you, out of necessity, be induced to compel them to do something? Wouldn’t that mean the return of authority with its savage retinue of coercive institutions?”

This objection is less serious than it may appear at first sight. From the economic relationships ruling bourgeois society we can deduce the causes for which some refuse to work at certain kinds of labour and for which a few refuse to do any work at all.

At present, work has a servile character; it is not chosen freely according to one’s aptitudes; it does not give any satisfaction whatever, material or moral; it offers only risks, deprivations, humiliations; it is uncertain, painful, excessive, paid in inverse proportion to its duration- it is sought reluctantly, executed with disgust; it is endured, in short, as a punishment, as a curse. The aversions it arouses at the present time are understandable as is understandable the horror with which work, this inevitable condition of life, is looked at by the unfortunates who bear on their faces, on their eyes, on their tortured flesh, the stigma of all the aberrations and degenerations caused by centuries of slavery, of deprivations, of poverty, of grief, of brutality — all compressed into a state of arrested development, which makes them incapable of any fertile function or of any original action.

However, transplant that rickety progeny of sclerotics, drunkards, arthritics and prostitutes to a healthier social climate, to a world of equals where production is ruled by collective interest, not by whim and speculation; where it is limited to what is necessary and pleasant, excluding all that is stupid, useless, or harmful, from miser’s safes to monstrous battleships; make room within the ranks of redeeming labour for all the energies that now lie stagnant, tricked by all kinds of lies and frauds, by all the evil doings of usury, inquisition and murder — in monasteries, barracks, jails, in the endless circles of bureaucracy; look at the progress of the last fifty years, and calculate the progress that is bound to take place during the next fifty years through the application of science to industry; open to everyone the theatres and the schools, the gymnasiums and the academies; let there be air and bread for everyone, sun and joy, life and love — and then tell us if work, short in hours, varied in kind, freely chosen by every worker according to his own preference, in whom security of intellectual and physical life will have accumulated and kept alive all kinds of energy; tell us then, if any one will refuse to participate in a work which has become a source of joy to the spirit, a physiological necessity and a universally acknowledged condition of life and of universal progress.

Everyone will work according to one’s aptitudes and energies.

“Another if, as usual” — whispers a stubborn dissenter . . . without thinking that his objection (that there will always be somebody, in the new society, unwilling to work) is, again, a supposition — with this difference; however, it lacks the positive and scientific basis which supports the anarchist-communist prediction.

Let us make sense. Inertia is the property whereby an object persists in the state in which it finds itself unless and until an outside cause operates on it, but nobody has ever thought to define it or imagine it as a cessation of activity in matter. It would be nonsense.

Thus, it would be nonsense to suppose that blood refuses to circulate, the heart refuses to beat, the brain to feel and reflect, that all the body organs collectively revolt against their respective functions. It would be death.

But so long as the constant processes of assimilation, of elimination, of nourishment of replacement, of development, of reproduction, of decrease - which are the condition and character of our life - take place in our body, all our vital energies will be active.

Our opponents are obsessed by the many and profound perversions with which the regime of authority and private property — the regime of exploitation of men by other men - has corrupted every ethical human relation and sentiment. And, forgetting or neglecting the fact that man, his progress, his intelligence and his morality are intimately related to the environment in which he lives, they may fear that many of the citizens of the future city will feel the strongest aversion for certain kinds of work, and that, encouraged by the lack of any coercive force, may revolt against it. But this is an objection that resolves itself through everybody’s freedom to choose the job or the profession, the occupation most suitable to one’s own capacity or inclination.

It cannot be seriously argued that the unruly persons who are unwilling to work at certain occupations will refuse to work at any job and will let themselves go adrift like brutalized opium smokers, or like the blessed of the buddhist Nirvana, eliminating any and all activities by the total annihilation of their own selves.

To satisfy our needs, to nourish ourselves physically and intellectually, means that we must accumulate a treasure of strength, bend the arc of our energy, sharpen the spur of our will, compel our vital exuberance to seek in action, any action, its outlet, its exhaust valve. The young ones who, regardless of fatigue and dangers, expose their youth every day to all kinds of risks, are the true index of that exuberance, of that selfless impetuousness which is nothing but the result of the easy and constant process of assimilation, a process which in old people — whose body, having reached its maximum development, begins to decline — becomes slow, painful, faulting, barely sufficient to conserve the failing energy, the stiffening activity, the slipping life. It is the struggle of exuberance against deterioration: the former is altruism, fearlessness, selflessness, generosity; the latter is egoism, meanness, calculation, fear, conservative distrust.

In order to believe in the possibility, in the realization of a society without private property and without government, it is not necessary that men be angels. It will be enough that this societv be capable of satisfying the needs of all its members on the land which has become again the great mother of us all, made fertile by human labour, redeemed from all humiliations and yokes. The bourgeois, who are in a position to satisfy these needs in large measure are the best witnesses to the fact that if energy can be diverted, it cannot be constrained, so that our opponents fears of inertia and vagrancy are plainly absurd: fencing, horsemanship, boating, motoring, mountain-climbing, oceanic cruising, politics, diplomacy, philanthropy, tropical and polar expeditions are nothing but the different aspects, physical or intellectual, frivolous or noble, of the energy and vital exuberance which burst forth from the full satisfaction of needs enjoyed by rhe ruling classes

When everyone’s physical, intellectual and moral needs arc fully satisfied, we shall have in every human being the exuberance of energy that is at present the exclusive privilege of the ruling classes.

Once the field of education, of science and of the arts — now barred to the majority of mankind — is opened, it will be filled by an immense torrent of gushing energy, seeking out its most useful function, its highest aims. With the fall of the barriers dividing humanity in classes and with the joining of all human interests in the struggle against the forces of nature and external threats, the association for struggle will be a much more effective support for civilization, progress, and evolution than is the struggle for existence with its savage daily competitions.

This is a logical deduction, supported by incontrovertible proofs, and to deny it, our adversaries take refuge behind the ironic presumption that, in order to live without government, without private property and without masters, men will suddenly have to have wings, halos and the seraphic goodness of mythical angels. But the ideal is human and men are sufficient to realize it. Against this unshakable belief of ours in economic emancipation and political autonomy, our adversaries might oppose only one argument: that men do not change, that in spite of any progress, of any noticeable improvement of individual and social life, workers will persist in being slaves without dignity, ferocious barbarians, degenerates deprived of conscience, indecent idlers who, through thousands of years of privilege and tyranny, ignorance and superstition, have been lovingly raised by the ruling oligarchies.

But, in that case, our adversaries would be the Utopians, the apostles and heralds of an impossible stasis, instead of which, we, without being Utopians, without accepting the legend of angels and demigods, believe in the unceasing evolution and the constant progress of peoples and society.

We have eliminated the vulgar objection that once out of the inferno of present-day society — where work is not freely elected according to the worker’s inclinations, but is imposed by the privileged interests of the ruling classes, where no satisfaction of his material and moral needs is assured — the individual, once having attained, through the epic events of the equalizing revolution, the free society where he can work, according to his ability, at the trade he has freely selected, under the sole influence of a clear conscience of his task, and with the knowledge of the generally accepted necessity of contributing to the security and to the fullness of social life in which lies the greatest, the only warranty of everybody’s security and freedom), and once having received the certainty that all of his physical and intellectual needs will be adequately satisfied, this individual, even in spite of the irresistible stimulations of his physiological exuberance, will deliberately refuse to work and be totally useless. We have rejected this vulgar objection and we believe we have achieved the most interesting, if not the most decisive, part of our demonstration.

We have demonstrated — and we believe with success — to our sneering adversaries, as well as to our timid, uncertain allies, that once the full satisfaction of every need is assured to everyone, the hypothesis that each person will spontaneously choose and execute his task according to the collective welfare and his own ability is not absurd; and that, therefore, the aspiration to a society without masters and without government is neither absurd nor Utopian.

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As proponents of the broadest individual autonomy, we have shown that this absolute independence from any domination by either a majority or a minority, from any human oppression, cannot find a better or more vigilant security than in anarchist-communism: unlimited freedom in the satisfaction of needs; unlimited freedom in the choice of work.

Exceptional conditions of the moment or of the situation might require that we limit our inclinations as well as increase our work. In the future, as it happens at present, might we not, we who are in good health, tighten our belt a little in order to help people afflicted by an epidemic with food and medicine? Do we not, even now, if a sudden fire develops act as firemen?. . . As nurses, if an epidemic occurs?. . . As diggers in cases of flood or landslide? And doesn’t this happen without command or coercion? . . . Without regard to individual inclinations or unusual risks? ... All this is only in obedience to the voice surging from the depth of every conscience, calling in the name of life, of preservation and solidarity with the species. And is not that voice the automatic and irresistible stimulus to the highest and noblest of our actions?

And is not that call valid? Is it not received with an outburst of love and concern such as has never greeted a commandment of god, an edict of a king, a law of parliament?

Let them call us Utopians as much as they want — those who remember only one phrase of Darwin’s doctrine and revive, under the shining sun of this twentieth century, the maxim homo homini lupus[man is wolf to man]. As for us — even in a society where the interests of the species might be joined together for the noblest struggle of all, the one against nature and the environment land this ‘association for the struggle’ will be the main factor of future evolution) — we cannot accept even here the domination of intellectual aristocracy.

We find this dominance in old as well as in contemporary civilizations. Based on privilege and prompted by the wildest competition, it triumphs and delights in ignorance and in the resignation, fear and universal subjection that follow. In this climate of privilege, Moses and Mohammed can lure millions of people to any adoration and sacrifice. And, just as easily, Galileo and Bruno can become the victims of their wrath, of their curses and contempt.[34] In this climate of competition, Nobel and Krupp[35] can ascend through golden arches and clouds of incense into the Olympus of national heroes, while Gorini, Bovio and Reclus can die of starvation[36].

There are, on one hand, a fortunate few destined by chance to enjoy everything; on the other, a multitude of outcasts condemned by those few to experience nothing. But destroy the existing economic inequalities, recompose a now-divided humanity upon a reclaimed Earth, and the last traces of hideous inequality will disappear, together with the hierarchies that today perpetuate them. The farmer and the agronomist, who are now separated by a chasm, will be reconciled as equals because their respective functions will be equally valued. Because, in the future while it may be the agronomist who discovers a new method of cultivation, it is the farmer who will make it work well in practice. And this, in a society not based on privilege and competition, means that in the different areas of their skills and in the different application of their energies, they are both equally necessary to new forms of production. One equals the other; both are equally indispensable to a necessary co-operation, which has no place for savage competitions nor for absurd and wicked privileges.

We have given sufficient elements for the lunatics of the State to arrive, on their own, at the conclusion that, if government is necessary or, rather, a ‘condition sine qua non’ [a necessity] for the existence of a regime which is dedicated, like a bourgeois regime, to economic inequality and the political subjection of the great majority of the people constituting the so-called society; government has no justification whatever and, therefore, no reason to exist in a real and true society where the economic interests of all its components are united and mutual. Disagreement and friction will always exist. In fact they are an essential condition of unlimited progress. But once the bloody arena of sheer animal competition — the struggle for food — has been eliminated, problems of disagreement could be solved without the slightest threat to the social order and individual liberty.

Merlino knows and teaches us that the State (which is a bankrupt and perpetual failure as administrator) has a precise and essential political function: the preservation of the economic ‘status quo’, the protection of the economic privileges of the ruling class, whose agent and gendarme it is and around which it has created a threefold barrier — the political, the judicial and the military. These barriers, with their diversified Junctions, pursue one single aim: to reassure the fortunate wealthy that no one will spring forth from the immense, angry crowd of the disinherited to curse, threaten, or destroy their vineyard or their comfort. Parliament and the police have expected all kinds of threats and curses, and they have scrupulously catalogued everyone of them. Educational and cultural institutions, from kindergarten to university; the judicial system, from magistrates to the supreme courts, are all there to avert devastation. And, if and when, during times of upheaval, their measures should appear insufficient or belated, the military institutions, ruthless guardians of order at any cost, will intervene with their laws of war, their martial courts and mass executions. Things must remain as they are; social relations cannot be disturbed; the ruling minority must luxuriate in wealth and idleness, while ruthlessly governing the immense majority, who have only one duty to toil without relief in a state of servitude, to remain, alter having produced wealth, in a state of blind ignorance and squalid poverty lor as long as they live.

What is there for such an institution as the State to do in a society where all class privileges have disappeared, where class distinctions are eliminated; where hatred, revenge, and armed rebellion have vanished under the sun of absolute economic equality?

Could it direct social relations or protect public order? But isn’t it common knowledge, even now, that the State’s intrusion into the private relations of individuals and groups is not only ineffective, but utterly disastrous for the relations and initiatives it pretends to manage? Concerns conducted by private initiative offer a security, an income, and an efficiency that cannot be expected from the services that have been assumed by the State. Furthermore, even those who avail themselves of the services of the State, admit that, in its function as protector of order and the security of its citizens, the State arrives too late to forestall the consequences of disturbances and injuries that have already happened despite its vigilance. Is it possible to wish, in social relations, for a more alert,a more competent, a more even-minded and reliable regulator than the concern of the interested parties?

The recent scandals concerning the distribution of the money collected for the earthquake victims in Calabria [l908] testify that, while millions of dollars could be collected in just a few hours among thousands of citizens, moved by a spontaneous, noble impulse of solidarity, the State, entangled by its rickety bureaucracy, does not know how to distribute them, and when it does do so (two or three years after the catastrophe), it gives them out the wrong way.

And then, what threats to public order can be feared in a society where the fundamental causes of any public disturbance have been eliminated by the reconciliation of the economic interests of each individual with the economic interests of the whole community?

Non solo pane vivit homo (man does not live by bread alone], object our adversaries. After food is assured, men will fight over something else. Have you forgotten the religious wars, the national struggles, the hopeless and bloody struggles for the conquest of political freedom?

We haven’t forgotten anything, and we are very far from believing that, after having reached equality, the inhabitants of the future city will give up any assertion of individual energy, of every independent action and every competitive activity. On the contrary.

But we also know (and this is a truth that is largely supported by the world of science) that there are two basic needs, food and reproduction, to which all living creatures are subject, The first pushes them to ferocious struggles, even to mutual destruction, while the second draws them together and tends to unify them.

If the need that leads to ferocity and mutual destruction has been satisfied, other forms of competition can be developed without violent collisions that will threaten public order or individual freedom, because, in certain fields and competitions, brutal violence and majority pressure are fundamentally ineffective. For instance, there is a profound disagreement concerning the prevention of smallpox in the field of sanitation. Some believe the smallpox inoculation is absolutely useless if not outright dangerous; others, on the contrary, consider it a real salvation. This conflict of opinion has been going on for many years without a bad word from either side to alarm the guardians of public order. On the contrary, so many facts have been certified, so many observations, experiences and results have been gathered, that confer the character of a real blessing upon these theoretical disagreements, these civilized forms of competition.

As the average intellectual level rises, many diverse energies will participate in debates of this kind, and we can readily assume that the new society will be the most active, the most daring, the most persevering imaginable in the field of research, without having to conclude that these discussions, these theoretical and philosophical disagreements must end in tragedy.

Those who recall the religious wars, the wars for national independence or for political freedom, ignore or forget that those were rebellions against tyranny, a cause that would have no reason to exist in a libertarian society and that, beneath the theological, nationalist or political surfaces, existing economic interests were being threatened by new economic interests, struggling to assert themselves in a convulsed world.

* * *

At this point, we can sum up and reply to the first question we have posed: “Of the two trends, both denying the legitimacy of private property and both promoting the socialization of all means of production and exchange in the struggle for economic emancipation, which one has voiced the new idea that marks the inception of a more advanced phase in the scries of evolutionary phenomena, which one has remained rigorously faithful to the criterion of progress?”.

In furthering the socialization of the means of production and exchange, socialist-collectivism seeks, on one hand, to guarantee the rights of the community, while recognizing, on the other, the private property of each worker’s production. It barely whispers — and immediately repents doing it — the new idea which, in the evolution of the economic institutions says: abolish private property and means: everything belongs to everybody! And this initial contradiction, stretching out from the economic to political and moral areas, prevents socialist-collectivism from asserting the new idea of equality, of justice, of freedom, which could open an era of a new civilization and begin a new phase in the series of evolutionary phenomena that reproduces all its preceding traits and adds the plus that was not yet in the preceding phase, which will become the germ of a new trait in the following phase, and is, as we have seen, according to Metchnikoff, the condition of every progressive step.

Now, if in comparing libertarian communism with socialist-collectivism, we have proven successfully that by taking the finished product of each worker as the basis of all economic relations, the equality proclaimed at first by socialist-collectivism is upset as soon as methods and measures to evaluate each worker’s share in the total production are considered, because these measures are unequally dependent upon and related to each worker’s effort; it becomes evident that socialist-collectivism is actually promoting a flagrant economic inequality in defiance of its own premises.

We have proven also that social injustice and authority will be grafted onto this fundamental economic inequality, because they are consequences of the same cause, the scourge of the bourgeois society against which socialist-collectivism revolted with the best of intentions. And we have also pointed out an element that has its own value — how the collectivist pretence, to gauge each worker’s right to satisfy his needs according to the production of his own labour, would not only be unjust, unequal and authoritarian, but would be Utopian and absurd, because it is practically impossible to find a scale capable of weighing the effort and measuring the individual energy used in the production process — the length of work, the importance of the product, its use and exchange value, represent criteria not only insufficient for such evaluation, but absolutely arbitrary, since they cannot have any relation with the physical activity of the individual, nor with the mechanical effort required from him, nor with the physiological needs that press him, the satisfaction of which is conditioned by the preservation and development of his own personality.

With its conception of a new society and of its citizens’ relations with each other, socialist-collectivism lessens the consequences, but does not eliminate the causes of the inequality, of the injustice, of the oppression that it deplores and fights in the existing bourgeois regime, and, in so doing, it carries along too many of the inherited relics, too much ballast of immobility, of superstition, of the absurd, to be qualified to speak in the name of progress and of the future.

And, if it is permitted to draw an omen from the ethical content of a doctrine on the basis of evolutionary lessons and experiences, it is not foolhardy to foresee that, passing from concession to concession, socialist-collectivism will end by mingling with the democratic radicalism of the more advanced factions of the bourgeoisie — and will never find the time and season for the realization of its dreams.

The immediate responsibilities have terrified it; the haste to arrive and to accomplish, the obsession to be practical, have pushed it back towards the outdated forms of the old political democracy it had once violently divorced; and so its task is finished!

Just the opposite is true for anarchist-communism. It remains faithful to its original tradition and to its understanding of the meaning of progress, of which it is, without a doubt, in the economic, political and moral field, the final and most formidable expression.

We have seen, in the economic field, how it denies that the conquest of observation, research and collective labour may be privately appropriated. Everything that has been produced, is being produced, and will be produced by everybody’s thought and labour, belongs to everybody.And, of all that has been accumulated during the centuries and generations to enable humanity to survive in its perennial struggle against the adverse forces of nature, anarchist-communism wants to destroy only those barriers that prevent the great majority of people, who are also the most deserving, from enjoying it freely: All that everybody’s genius and labour have created in pain must be the source and the means of existence and enjoyment for everybody.

Thus, having established that private property is the main cause of economic dependence and of the political and moral submission of the great majority to the little but fraudulent minority of hoarders, and, having established that common ownership of all means of production and exchange is the main condition for the return of mankind to justice, to brotherhood and liberty, all of which had been banished by the ferocious rivalries of class interests; anarchist criticism boldly faces the political and moral problems that have plagued and frustrated scholars and philosophers up to the first half of the nineteenth century: “According to what principles will it be possible, without offence to equality, justice and liberty, to regulate the participation of everyone in the indispensable task of production?”: “According to what principles will it be possible, without offence to equality, justice and liberty, to regulate the participation of everyone in the satisfaction of needs?”.

Anarchism rejects the arrogant claim of capital (which is, in itself, unproductive) to gain, rent and profit, and disapproves of the naive reliance of labour (which is an unavoidable necessity and indispensable condition for the preservation and development of life) on remuneration and wages. And, considering this difficult phenomenon that is life, it has developed the notion that the rights of both the individual and the community find their consecration and their most secure protection in the full triumph of equality, justice and of freedom.

The organism which lives can have but one aspiration: to attain its full development in the most favourable environment possible (and the economic-levelling revolution will have opened it for him). It has also only one function: to transform into active energies, useful to it as well as to others, the strength that its own work and the work of co-operating others will have contributed to its rising from the most elementary forms to the highest forms. Hence: the spontaneous participation of everyone in the task of production according to their energy and abilities; the free and unlimited sharing of everyone in satisfactions and pleasures; the indisputable solidarity of interests among the inhabitants of the redeemed city; the absolute uselessness of coercive power; the disappearance of privilege and exploitation; the end of slavery and authority; the autonomy of the individual within free social groupings! This will be anarchy!

Here, in short, is the progressive series. It reproduces every trait of its preceding period, but at the same time it carries in its womb the plus — the economic and moral relations of the new society, which, from the successful events of its initial liberation, will generate more advanced and civilized forms of the freedom it has won.