World Revolution: Plot Against Civilization - Nesta Webster

V. The Socialist Philosophers

Robert Owen—"New Harmony "—Saint-Simon—Pierre Leroux —Fourier—Buchez—Louis Blanc—Cabet—Vidal—Pecqueur—Proudhon—Trade-Union Terrorism.

Rober Owen—Utopian Socialist Commune

The earliest pioneer of the movement in England, later to be known as Socialism, was the English cotton millowner, Robert Owen. At the outset of his career it seemed that Owen might really prove to be the man the people needed, the enlightened reformer who, sweeping aside the fallacious theories of the French Revolution, was to establish the industrial system on new lines. The work of Owen at New Lanark was wholly admirable, the proper housing of the workers, the better education of the children, and indeed of the whole population by the inculcation of ideas of thrift, sobriety, and cleanliness, brought about a complete regeneration of the town and excited universal admiration. In all these schemes their author encountered no resistance.

Socialists are fond of declaring that "the upper classes" are perfectly indifferent to the welfare of the workers, and that nothing but revolutionary agitation will rouse them. The history of Robert Owen provides a striking instance to the contrary, for it was amongst the so-called upper classes, dukes, bishops, statesmen, even crowned heads—for the Czar Nicholas I. visited him in person—that he received his principal support. New Lanark speedily became a place of pilgrimage for every one interested in social reform, and Owen found himself in danger of having his head turned by the adulation of the great.

It must be understood, however, that Owen's experiment was not conducted on Socialistic principles. Living in the big house and driving about in his carriage "like a prince amongst his subjects," Owen played the part simply of a benevolent autocrat. His employes existing on the wage system were obliged to work eight to ten hours a day, and were decorated with humiliating badges if they proved idle or inefficient. The proceeds of industry were not distributed amongst the workers, but gathered in by Owen himself and spent as he saw fit.

It is true that from the model shop he erected in the town he drew no profit, goods being dealt out to customers at cost price, but with a lordly income Owen could well afford to indulge in this charitable hobby. No less honour must be attributed to him on this account, but the fact remains that Owen's philanthropy at New Lanark was conducted on the system Socialists condemn as "capitalistic."

At any rate the experiment proved triumphantly successful, but unhappily Owen allowed himself to be led from the path of sane and practical reforms into a wilderness of philosophic speculation. How are we to explain this unfortunate aberration? Only by the fact that Owen had fallen under the influence of the occult forces at work on the Continent, for if we examine his writings in the light of the doctrines described in the first chapter of this book, we cannot fail to perceive that his mind was permeated with Illuminism.

The fundamental point of Owen's teaching consists in the assumption that Man is the creature of circumstances, and that character results solely from environment. Therefore by removing him from evil conditions Man will inevitably be "transformed into an intelligent, rational and good being." Further, the evil conditions that at present exist are simply the result of civilization, which, like Weishaupt, Owen held to be the bane of humanity.

"All the nations of the earth, with all the boast of each respecting their advance in what they call civilization, are to-day governed by force, fraud, falsehood, and fear, emanating from ignorance in governors and governed."

Consequently Owen declared:

"You must think of me as not belonging to the present system of society, but as one looking with the greatest delight at its entire annihilation, so that ultimately not one stone of it shall be left upon another."

All this is only another way of expressing Weishaupt's theory that:

"Man is not bad except as he is made so by arbitrary morality. He is bad because Religion, the State, and bad examples pervert him," and therefore it is necessary to bring about "the total destruction of the existing civil system."

Indeed certain passages of Owen are almost word for word the same as those that occur in the code of Weishaupt. For example, in the latter it was stated that the aim of the Illuminati was "to make of the human race, without any distinction of nation, condition or profession, one good and happy family," and Owen announced "that new state of existence upon earth, which, when understood and applied rationally to practice, will cordially unite all as one good and enlightened family."

It is idle to attribute these extraordinary resemblances —of which many more examples might be given—to mere coincidence, and to suppose that the Yorkshire cotton-mill owner evolved the same conclusions and even the same phraseology as the Bavarian professor out of his own inner consciousness. And indeed, as Owen's biographer points out, he himself

". . . Dimly indicates the possession of a philosophy which would regenerate society if men's minds were prepared to receive it. With a Pythagorean reticence, he reserves to himself and his initiated an esoteric doctrine of which the world is unworthy." What could this doctrine be but Illuminism, which Owen, obedient to the custom of the Order, is careful not to reveal?

But it is in the matter of religion that Owen most clearly betrays the source of his inspiration. By no other means can his campaign of militant atheism be explained. In a man of Weishaupt's moral character hatred of Christianity is not surprising, but that Owen, filled with ardour for the good of humanity, a sincere and tireless philanthropist, should have paid no tribute to the great Teacher of love and compassion is so extraordinary as to be inexplicable by any facts hitherto set forth by his biographers.

But when we examine his theories, it is easy to see whence he derived them, for what are his ideas of a "Rational Society" and his perpetual allusions to reason but the old doctrine of Weishaupt that "Reason should be the only code of Man?"—a doctrine which had already found expression in Paine's Age of Reason and in the "Feasts of Reason" celebrated in the churches of Paris? It was then under this malign influence that Owen gave vent to sentiments utterly foreign to his natural character, as, for example, his declaration that:

"The religions of the world are horrid monsters and real demons of humanity which swallow up all its rationality and happiness."

Are we not forcibly reminded by such utterances of the diatribes of the Illuminatus Clootz on "the nullity of all religions"? At moments Owen even rivals Clootz in violence. "Religion," Clootz had written, "is a social disease which cannot be too quickly cured. A religious man is a depraved animal," and Owen echoes the sentiment by saying that "the fundamental notions of every religion . . . have made man the most inconsistent and most miserable being in existence. By the errors of these systems he has been made a weak, imbecile animal," etc.

The occasion on which these words were uttered by Owen was the great public meeting where he had determined "to denounce all the religions of the world." This day he long afterwards declared to have been the most glorious of his life, but in reality it simply had the effect of alienating from him public sympathy and destroying all his power for good. Led still further along the path of Illuminism, and, according to his biographer, "inflamed with an extravagant desire for notoriety," Owen, seven years later, abandoned his flourishing experiment at New Lanark in order to found a colony on Communistic lines in America.

For some years he had cherished the plan to "cut the world up into villages of 300 to 2000 souls," in which "the dwellings for the 200 or 300 families should be placed together in the form of a parallelogram," where "individualism was to be disallowed," and "each was to work for the benefit of all."

Attempts to found a colony on these lines in Ireland proved abortive, and accordingly in 1824 Owen sailed to the New World, where he bought a large tract of land named "Harmony" from some German colonists, disciples of the pastor Rapp. Here in the following year he started his "New Harmony Community of Equality." The Communist system was finally inaugurated, and other, settlements on the same lines were started both in America and Scotland.

But Owen had calculated without taking human nature into account; the difficulty of eradicating the sense of property amongst the colonists proved an insuperable difficulty, and the noble desire to work for the common good with no thought of personal profit failed signally as an incentive. Human passions had a strange way of springing to the surface even in the minds of the enthusiastic Communists who composed Owen's following; thus the organ of the community, The Co-operative Magazine, relates that one fine evening a member in the full flow of a discourse to an open-air meeting, on the theory that all forms of punishment shall be replaced by kindness, happened to perceive in the distance a small boy helping himself to the plums in the speaker's orchard, and instantly abandoning oratory, hurried towards the offender and administered a sound thrashing.

Various attempts were made to organize the community on different Socialistic principles. For a time the system known to-day as Guild Socialism was practised in the town of New Harmony, whilst Communism was banished to the country. But in all these experiments human nature still remained the insuperable obstacle, and in 1827 Owen in despair resigned the management. The cause of his failure was attributed by convinced Communists to his own management. By Owen it was attributed to the character of the people who made up the community. His experience, he acknowledged,

". . .had shown one thing: the necessity of great caution in selecting members. No societies with common property and equality could prosper, if composed of persons unfit for their peculiar duties. In order to succeed it was needful to exclude the intemperate, the idle, the careless, the quarrelsome, the avaricious, the selfish. . . ."

In other words, Communist settlements must be composed of only perfect human beings. But as Owen's biographer observes:

"One wonders whether for a society so weeded, any peculiar organization would be necessary. It is just the selfish and the intemperate who constitute the difficulty of our present arrangements."

The colony founded by Owen's disciple, Abram Combe, at Orbiston, near Glasgow, and other Communist settlements started at Ralahine in County Clare in 1831, at Tytherley in Hampshire in 1839, proved failures for the same reason, and Owen himself was obliged to recognise his cherished scheme as impracticable. Indeed, when on his way back to England in 1827 he had occasion to visit some slave plantations in Jamaica, he came to the conclusion that slavery was after all not such a bad system. For does not slavery provide all the blessings promised by Communism—the certainty of food and lodging, and freedom from "corroding care and anxiety" at the complete sacrifice of all personal liberty—but with the additional advantage of being a workable system?

So ended the experiment of the man whom Socialists proudly name "the father of British Socialism." Considering the extraordinary dearth of practical philanthropists or of tangible results to be found in the annals of Socialism, it is natural that its exponents should be eager to claim the famous founder of New Lanark as one of their number.

But in this, as in most of their pretensions, Socialists have shown themselves singularly dishonest, for it was when Owen abandoned Capitalism in favour of Socialism that he failed. It is therefore not the Owen of New Lanark but the Owen of New Harmony whom Socialists can justly claim as their own. Rather than admit this painful truth, Socialist writers in describing the career of Robert Owen usually content themselves with expatiating at length on the brilliant success of New Lanark and omit all reference to New Harmony. It is a curious fact that no Socialist has so far devoted a book to a truthful account of past Socialistic experiments; all such failures are passed over in complete silence, and the theories on which they were founded are vaunted as if no attempt had ever been made to put them into practice.

A further claim Socialists are fond of making for Robert Owen is that of having founded the co-operative system. This is again a perversion of the truth. Owen's model shop in New Lanark was, as we have seen, simply a benevolent hobby such as a rich man drawing his profits direct from the industry in which the workers were engaged, and paying them a low rate of wages, could well afford. Owen did not believe in the co-operative system which was inaugurated by the famous Rochdale Pioneers at their little co-operative store in Toad Street in 1844. This was really the beginning of a great movement, and was followed by the Co-operative Society of Oldham in 1850 and by the co-operative societies, numbering 340,930 members, which were flourishing in 1874.

In all this, however, neither Robert Owen nor Socialism can claim a share. It is true that some of the founders of co-operation had been influenced by Owen's example at New Lanark, but they did not share his Communistic theories, and Owen therefore "looked coldly" on the co-operative stores started by his so-called disciples.

Co-operation then, as Holyoake says, is simply profit sharing,—the system with which Socialists will have nothing to do and indeed oppose with all their might, except when, like Marx, they perceive its utility as a stepping-stone to Communism.

The essential difference between Co-operation and Communism is the system of the right to private property. Under the former system each person concerned in the business has the right to claim for his own his share of the profits; under the latter all profits go to the community. The former has frequently led to triumphant success; the second has invariably ended in total failure.

As Mrs. Fawcett in her admirable article on "Communism" explained, the successful co-operative societies of the last century were promoted by real social reformers "who had proved by many failures the futility of Communism as an engine of social regeneration," and she adds:

"There is no movement more distinctly non-communistic than co-operation. It strengthens the principles of capital and private property by making every co-operator a Capitalist and thus personally interesting him in the maintenance of the present economic condition of society."

In other words, whilst Communism aims at the concentration of Capital in the hands of the State or of communists, Co-operation aims at the extension of Capital by distributing it amongst a larger number of individuals. And all experience teaches us that through Co-operation, not through Communism, lies the path to industrial peace.

Comte de Simon and Saint-Simonism

Whilst this really progressive movement had been developing in England a succession of French philosophers were devising further schemes for the reorganization of industry, later to be classified under the generic term of Socialism.

First on the list comes the Comte de Simon, grandson of the famous author of the Memoires relating to the court of Louis XIV. Born in 1760 with an unbalanced brain inherited from an insane mother, Saint-Simon had early thrown himself into the wildest excesses and led the life of "an adventurer in quest of gold and glory," but after a while, weary of orgies, he had turned his attention to the regeneration of the world, in which he believed himself destined to play the leading part.

Since this book is not intended to form a history of Socialism, but only to indicate the relation between Socialistic theories and the course of the World Revolution, it would be beside the point to describe in detail the philosophy of Saint-Simon. Suffice it then to state briefly that according to his theory of industrial reconstruction there was no way to prevent the exploitation of man by man but to place, not only all property, but all human beings under State control, thus arriving "not at absolute equality but at a hierarchy" in which "each would be classed according to his capacity and rewarded according to his work"—a formula which was only another rendering of the Babouviste maxim: "Every one according to his strength; to every one according to his needs."

In a word, Saint-Simonisme was simply a variation of our old friend Babouvisme, of which the tradition had been carried on by Babeuf's colleague Buonarotti. Saint-Simon's inspiration must, however, be traced still further back than the Chief of Equals, namely to Weishaupt, whose doctrines survived not only amongst the Babouvistes but, as we have seen, in the Haute Vente Romaine.

Saint-Simon, who, we know, was connected with this formidable secret society, accordingly continued the great scheme of Weishaupt by proclaiming the abolition of property, of inheritance, the dissolution of the marriage tie, and the break-up of the family—in a word, the destruction of civilization.

Like Robert Owen, Saint-Simon frankly declared that the existing social system was dead and must be completely done away with. The French Illuminatus, however, did not fall into the error of his English contemporary, of alienating public opinion by the repudiation of Christianity; on the contrary, faithful to the directions of Weishaupt, Saint-Simon, in his dook The New Christianity, set out to prove that his system was simply the fulfilment of Christ's teaching on the brotherhood of man, which had become perverted by the belief in the necessity for subduing the flesh:

". . . therefore in order to re-establish Christianity on its true basis it was necessary to restore its sensual side, the absence of which strikes its social action with sterility."

It is easy to see how such a theory fits in with the plan of the Haute Vente for general demoralization.

Of course, as Weishaupt had foreseen, the method of identifying Christianity with Socialism proved immensely effectual. The wild-eyed revolutionary waving a red flag will never gain so many converts as the mild philosopher who preaches peaceful revolution carried out on the principles of Christian love and brotherhood. It was this old deception of representing Christ as a Socialist which made the strength of Saint-Simonism, and that, practised later on by the so-called Christian Socialists of our own country, not only drew countless amiable visionaries into Socialism, but at the same time drove many virile minds from Christianity to seek relief in Nietzscheism.

In reality no two principles could be more opposed than that of Christ, who taught that "a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things that he possesseth," and that of the purely materialistic philosophy which urges mankind to strive for one thing only—present welfare, and to indulge the grossest sensual passions.

As to the perfectibility of human nature and the consequent "solidarity" between the workers borrowed by Saint-Simon from Weishaupt and Clootz, no one had ever shown the fallacy of this delusion more forcibly than Christ in His parable of the servant, who, being absolved from his debt towards his master, took his fellow-servant by the throat, saying, "Pay me what thou owest!"

Saint-Simonism carried within it the germs of its own destruction. In 1823 its founder vainly attempted to blow out his brains, but only succeeded in destroying the sight of one eye, and lingered on for two years in semi-blindness and misery. After his death the Family, as his disciples were wont to call themselves, headed by the "Pere Enfantin," split up into opposing factions. It then transpired that the strangest scenes took place amongst them—reminiscent of the Anabaptists—"ecstasies, deliriums, transports"; finally, pursued by the police, the Family broke up amidst the hoots of the crowd.

One of the first members to separate from Enfantin had been Pierre Leroux, who continued, however, to carry on Saint-Simonism with various elaborations. Out of the masonic trilogy Leroux selected "Equality" as the supreme object of desire, and this was to be obtained by a system of triads combining the three human faculties—sensation, sentiment, and knowledge. These were to be represented in the industrial world by trios composed of a workman, an artist, and a savant working together, the whole forming a "triad"; a number of these triads would make up a workshop, a number of workshops a commune, and all the communes collectively were to form a State.

But as the State was to be the sole owner of the means of existence, the sole director of work, the triad system of Leroux resolved itself finally into a mere variation on the Communistic State of Robespierre, Babeuf, and Saint-Simon.

Charles Fourier—Utopian Socialism and 'Free Love'

Meanwhile Charles Fourier, born in 1772, had devised another plan for the reorganization of society. Though not a Saint-Simonien, Fourier held with Saint-Simon that "civilization had taken the wrong road", and a return to Nature should be effected by giving a free rein to all passions. Starting from the premise that everything which is natural—that is to say, in accordance with the purely animal side of human nature—is right and beneficial, Fourier advocated promiscuous intercourse between the sexes; even the Parc aux Cerfs (mistresses) of Louis XV. had, he considered, been needlessly condemned. Greed, too, was particularly to be encouraged as "the mother of all industries," because it induced man to cultivate the ground and prepare food for himself.

It would be outside the scope of this book to follow Fourier into all his bewildering speculations on the future of our planet—that one day the moon would die of putrid fever, the sea, purged of brine, turn into "a pleasant drink like lemonade," and men, endowed with seven feet each, would live to the age of 144, of which 120 were to be spent in the exercise of "free love."

The point to be considered here is Fourier's scheme for the reconstruction of society. On one point, then, he is to be commended, namely, that he deprecated any repetition of the first French Revolution; alone of all his kind, Fourier proclaimed the great experiment to have proved disastrous, and never wearied of fulminating against its crimes and follies. But in this he showed less insight than logic, for Fourier had been a victim of the Terror—the small grocer's shop he had set up in 1793 at Lyon had been pillaged by the troops of the Convention, and he himself had narrowly escaped the guillotine.

It was therefore by peaceful methods that he proposed to destroy the existing Capitalistic system, and to establish in its place "domestic associations" of workers which he named phalansteries, each composed of 1800 people, subdivided into "series," "phalanges," and "groups." Amongst these perfect equality was to reign, no one was to give orders, no one to be obliged to work, for in a community where all were able to indulge their passions freely there would be no temptation to idleness. Fourier even succeeded in surmounting the great stumbling-block of all Socialist systems, the question of who was to do "the dirty work"—this could be quite easily settled by encouraging the aversion to cleanliness he had observed in children, so that no tasks however unpleasant would be repugnant to them.

This ideal condition of things clearly mapped out, Fourier only awaited the necessary funds to put it into execution, and accordingly he announced that he would be at home every day at 12 o'clock to receive any wealthy man who would supply him with 100,000 francs for the purpose. For ten years at the appointed hour Fourier patiently sat at home waiting for his expected millionaire, but none presented himself, and it was not until 1832 that he finally succeeded in raising the required sum from a certain Baudet Dulaury, and in the same year the first phalanstery was started at Conde-sur-Vesgre, but after the brief life of a year ended in total failure and had to be abandoned.

Philippe Buchez and L' Atelier, a 'Labor' newspaper.

A little later on a Saint-Simonien named Buchez, who in 1836 became one of the leaders of the sect, embarked on a campaign for combining Socialism not merely with the vague Christianity of Saint-Simon but with rigorous Catholicism. "Starting from Jesus Christ and ending with Robespierre," Buchez collaborated with Roux Lavergne in the famous Parliamentary History, in which he palliated the crimes of the Committee of Public Safety on the same moral grounds that in his Complete Treaty of Philosophy he had justified the Inquisition and the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, namely, that "the social aim justifies everything"—a maxim adapted from that of the Jacobins, "all is justified for the sake of the revolution," derived in its turn from the doctrine adopted by Weishaupt that "the end justifies the means." We shall find many such genealogies in the language of Socialism.

The first followers of Buchez consisted mainly of young bourgeois—artists, students, doctors—but by degrees a certain number of working-men, whom it was his principal aim to enlist in the movement, became interested, and Buchez was then able to put his theories into practice by starting the associations ouvrieres which had long been his dream. These were not to be Communistic in the sense of being State-controlled, but to be conducted on a system much resembling that which is known to-day as Guild Socialism.

The guiding principles of these associations being "Equality" and "Fraternity"—for Buchez, like Leroux, had logically eliminated "Liberty" from the masonic formula—the workmen who composed them were invited to pool their tools and money and share their profits equally, only putting aside the sixth part to provide capital for carrying on the industry. In conformity with Buchez's conception of the teachings of Christ, the foreman, elected by the workers themselves, was to be the servant, not the master of all, hence "no more misery, no more inequality, no more conflicts between labour and capital."

At first all went well, and so great was the enthusiasm aroused amongst the members of these associations that they now embarked on a "labour paper" named L' Atelier (The Workshop), edited and written by the workers themselves—an experiment unique in the annals of Socialism, unrivalled at any rate in the Socialist movement of to-day; for by no stretch of the imagination could the so-called "Labour organs," or the Labour articles expressed in the purest journalese, that figure in the modern press be supposed to emanate from the pens of working-men. The episode of the Atelier is all the more a tribute to the principles of true democracy, in that the views it presented gave evidence of a far greater degree of sanity than those of middle-class exponents of Socialism; for the writers, whilst applauding the past Revolution they had been taught to regard as the source of all social regeneration, deprecated a repetition of violence, and warned the workers against any connection with the secret societies.

A significant result of this parting company between Socialism and Illuminism was shown in the abandonment of the campaign of militant atheism that had distinguished the earlier revolutionary movement, and the readers of the Atelier were enjoined to regard the clergy no longer as "suspects" but as possible allies. "The Revolution has only to proclaim itself Christian, to desire only what Christianity commands," and the clergy will be obliged to unite with it.

Unhappily, in spite of these lofty ideals and the undoubted sincerity of the men who professed them, the "workers' associations" were doomed to failure, for the simple reason that their founder had reckoned without the weaknesses of human nature. After the first elan had subsided, the foreman became weary of being the servant of all. The workers found no stimulus to effort in the system of equal payment, and all chafed at the necessity for putting by a sixth part of the profit. Finally, the difficulty of combining Christianity and revolution proved insuperable, and the workers, obliged to choose between the two, split into opposing camps, thus putting an end to the associations.

Louis Blanc—Working Men's Associations

Meanwhile, another enthusiastic Robespierriste, Louis Blanc, was developing his scheme of working-men's associations on much the same lines, but with the difference that they were to be under State control. Also the idea of Christianity was eliminated, for Louis Blanc repudiated religion in any form and derided Buchez as a sentimentalist.

It is usual to attribute to Louis Blanc the doctrine of "the right to work" (le droit au travail) which figured so prominently in the Revolution of 1848. In reality the idea dated from Robespierre, and may be found clearly set forth in Article X. of his "Declaration of the Rights of Man," on which the Constitution of 1793 was founded. Yet if Robespierre must be regarded as the author of the actual formula of the right to work—that is to say, of the duty of the State to provide every man with work, or with the means of subsistence when out of employment—the principle had been recognized long before the Revolution. Had not the Government of Louis XVI. provided work, at great expense to the State, by starting brickyards, workshops, etc., for the unemployed of Paris? Indeed, as Karl Marx, who stigmatizes the doctrine of "the right to work" as a confused formula," truly observes: "What modern State does not feed its poor in one form or another?"

Louis Blanc, then, in his book The Organization of Work originated nothing; his doctrines were those of Rousseau, Robespierre, and Babeuf, supplemented by the theorizings of Saint-Simon, Fourier, Cabet, and Buonarotti, and his system that which was to be later known as State Socialism. The State, he held, must regulate the conditions of labour with a firm hand.

"We wish for a strong government, because in the regime of inequality in which we are still vegetating there are the weak who need a social force to protect them."

But in time the State was to undergo the process described later on by Lenin as "withering away."

"One day if the dearest wish of our heart is not disappointed, one day will come when there will be no further need of a strong and active government because there will be no longer an inferior and minor class of society. Until then the establishment of a tutelary authority is indispensable."

All Louis Blanc's schemes were founded on such Utopian premises.

But if his hopes for the future were tinged with too roseate a hue, his outlook on the present was one of unrelieved gloom. This attitude was no doubt partly owing to personal grievances. Nature had been unkind to him, for she had clothed his ardent soul with so puny a body that at thirty he was mistaken for thirteen, and full-grown men, judging him from his undersized frame and high piping voice to be a schoolboy, would pat him kindly on the shoulder and address him as "my lad." This kind of humiliation had inspired him with a grudge against society; at the same time it would be unjust not to give him credit for a genuine and disinterested sympathy with the cause of the workers. His Organization of Work breathes throughout a spirit of sincerity which offers a striking contrast to the cynical utterances of most modern Socialist writers, whose indictments of working-class grievances, like the harrowing details of bodily ills retailed in advertisements of quack medicines, seem to be actuated solely by the determination to sell the advertiser's panacea. Louis Blanc, obsessed with the worker's lot, unhappily allowed himself to fall a victim to that agony of pity which verges on neurasthenia.

Many sensitive natures brought in contact with the miseries of life have suffered from this tendency. Lord Shaftesbury, overwhelmed at times with the hopelessness of his task, knew these black moments of despair, but battled with them as a weakness that must not be allowed to sap his energies. The error of Louis' Blanc, as of the Russian fanatics who came after him, was to give unbridled rein to morbid imaginings. To his clouded vision a poor man is necessarily a miserable man, all the conditions of his life are unbearable; of contentment combined with frugality he has no conception—the mason whistling as he goes to work, the fisherman singing as he puts out to sea, the country labourer tossing his rosy baby in his cottage garden do not exist for him. As long as some one possesses more than he does, a man must necessarily be miserable.

This distorted view of the ills of life, combined with an exaggerated conception of his power to cure them, was the cause of Louis Blanc's subsequent failure and bitter disillusionment.

Etienne Cabet and the Icarians — Egalitarian Communes

Quite a different type of Socialist was the genial "Papa Cabet,"—a faux bonkomme says Thureau-Dangin, for Cabet was a born autocrat. The son of a barrel-maker, fitienne Cabet first saw the light at Dijon in 1788, and in 1834 went to England, where he became a convert to the ideas of Robert Owen.

After his return to France in 1839 Cabet sketched out his plan of a Communist settlement, modelled on Sir Thomas More's Utopia, in his Voyage to Icarus, and in the same year, 1840, published his great work on the French Revolution, showing the course of Communistic theories throughout the movement. These ideas, which Cabet traces from Plato, Protagoras, the Essenians of Judea, More, Campanella, Locke, to Montesquieu, Mably, Rousseau, and other philosophers of the eighteenth century, formed, as we have shown in an earlier quotation from Cabet's work, the policy of Robespierre and, in a lesser degree, of Condorcet, Clootz, Hebert, and Chaumette. But it is above all Babeuf whom Cabet rightly regards as the principal exponent of Communism, and in this connection he provides an interesting explanation of a subterfuge employed in nearly all histories of Socialism.

Now, as every one knows, the word Socialism had not come into use at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and its doctrines were classified under such generic headings as "Babouvisme," "Saint-Simonisme," "Fourierisme," etc. It was not until about 1848 that "Socialism" began to be employed as a comprehensive term embracing all these variations on the same theme.

Nevertheless, it is customary to describe Socialism as originating with Robert Owen, Saint-Simon, and Fourier. Why? Since none of these men called themselves Socialists, and Saint-Simon died twenty years before the word was invented, there seems no more reason to include them under the term than their predecessors of the eighteenth century from whom they took their theories. To the attentive student of social history it seems obvious that histories of Socialism, after tracing its origins in antiquity and in the doctrines of the French philosophers, should begin their account of the movement with its earliest exponents in the French Revolution. Why so resolutely dissociate Socialism, or its equivalent Communism, from Robespierre and Babeuf? Cabet answers this pertinent inquiry with a question:

"Why, in order to represent a doctrine that one believes to be the most beautiful and the most perfect, choose a man (Babeuf) who was perhaps not quite perfect, and whose life, attacked by a party of the patriots (i.e. revolutionaries) themselves, may at least furnish pretexts for attacks from the adversaries of community? Why choose a proscribed name of which all the enemies of the people have made a bugbear? To transform Communism into Babouvisme is it not to fall into a trap and obligingly increase difficulties already so great? For the same reason . . . we have considered it a mistake to invoke the name of Robespierre just as Bodson blamed Babeuf for invoking the name of this martyr. . . "

Yes, decidedly for the credit of Communism it is better to keep Robespierre and Babeuf dark and to date the origins of Socialism from the teachings of such amiable visionaries as Owen, Saint-Simon, and Fourier! The admission is certainly naive!

Cabet himself was a theorist of the same pacific order, and, although expressing his firm belief in the practicability of Communism despite its repeated failures in the past, declared:

"But we are profoundly convinced at the same time that a minority cannot establish it by violence, that it can only be realized by the power of public opinion, and that far from hastening its realization violence can only retard it. We think that one should profit by the lessons of history, that as Babeuf and his companions foresaw—(did they foresee it?)—their conspiracy was the final blow to democracy. We find it dead under the Directory, under the Consulate, under the Empire, and under the Restoration."

Would that our so-called "advanced thinkers" of to-day would recognize the wisdom of this reflection!

It was therefore in a perfectly pacific spirit that Cabet gathered around him a circle of enthusiasts calling themselves Icarians, all profoundly imbued with the Babouviste tradition and eager, under the guidance of its latest exponent, to put it into practice. Realizing that materialism was a doctrine that would never make a popular appeal, Cabet followed the precedent of Weishaupt by declaring:

"The present Communists are the disciples, the imitators, the continuers of Jesus Christ. Therefore respect a doctrine preached by Jesus Christ. Examine it. Study it."

The old maxim of the Babouvistes was again adopted by the community: "From every one according to his strength, to every one according to his needs."

In 1847 Cabet judged that the moment had come to carry his great scheme into execution, and on February the 3rd of the following year a band of sixty-nine enthusiastic Icarians started forth for Texas, where they eagerly set to work at clearing the ground for a settlement. Unfortunately they had selected a malarial district, a great number of the colonists were struck down by fever, the only doctor of the party went mad, and several of the sick died for want of medical aid. Accordingly the community decided to abandon the few miserable huts they had succeeded in erecting and to migrate to another part of the country.

The procession, divided into three columns, set forth on a tragic retreat from Texas to New Orleans, where they were joined by Cabet himself and about 200 more Icarians, and under his leadership moved on to the old Mormon town of Nauvoo in Illinois, where they finally settled in March 1849. Soon after this Cabet was recalled to France in order to defend himself in a lawsuit brought against him by some of the Icarians he had left behind, who accused him of appropriating 200,000 francs of their funds. The court ended by acquitting him, and Cabet was able to return to Nauvoo, which was now prospering, for this time the colonists, finding ready-made houses awaiting them, were able to embark at once on various communal enterprises.

Farms and workshops sprang up, also a distillery, a theatre, a school for the children. For five years all went well and by 1855 the colonists had increased to over 500 people. Communism seemed solidly established at last. But once again the inevitable occurred, for the history of Communist settlements is painfully monotonous in its reiteration, and in Nauvoo, as earlier in New Harmony, later in New Australia, the autocratic spirit of the leader began to make itself felt. Cabet indeed had, as Malon the Socialist observes, "such a hatred for every instinct of liberty" that he forbade the workers to have tobacco or brandy or even to speak during working-hours.

Nauvoo had in fact become an absolute monarchy, for no one but Cabet was allowed to have any voice in public affairs. Not unnaturally the community revolted, and in 1856 organized a ballot which deprived Cabet of his leadership by a majority of votes. The dethroned monarch left Nauvoo, followed by the faithful minority of 200, but died —according to Larousse—of grief, the same year, at St. Louis.

The remainder of the Icarians now migrated from Nauvoo to Iowa, and in spite of continued dissensions struggled on without a further break-up until 1879, when their number was reduced to fifty-two. By this time, however, the exalted ideals with which they had embarked on the enterprise were almost forgotten, only a few of the old men retained something of their earlier Communistic ardour, which enthusiastic visitors from time to time fanned again into flame; the young men meanwhile grew up impatient at the arrest of all progress, and ended by forming themselves into a hostile camp of Progressives in opposition to the "Non-Progressives," who clung to the old order. This scission led up to a definite rupture in 1879, when twenty-eight members left the colony and the remaining twenty-four struggled on painfully until their final extinction in 1888.

So ended one more attempt to put Communism into practice. By the middle of the last century, indeed, every form of Socialism which we hear proclaimed to-day as the last word in modern thought had already been propounded if not put to the test.

Pecqueur and Vidal

Space forbids the enumeration of the countless theorists —Desamy, Raspail, Talandier, Auguste Comte, and many others—who filled those years with the noise of their declamations on the regeneration of society. Those who care to plunge into this sea of words—and words—and words—all more or less rearrangements of the same old formulas and phrases—can do so in the pages of Malon's vast History of Socialism, where they will find every conceivable variation of the Socialist theme set forth with a bewildering wealth of detail. They will then find that the French Socialists of 1825 to 1848 had anticipated all the theories of modern Socialism, which are habitually attributed to the Social Democrats of Germany.

Thus as early as 1836 an obscure writer named Pecqueur had already coined the word to "socialize," so dear to the heart of the modern Bolshevik, and in 1838 published a treatise named On Trade, Industry and Agriculture interests, and Civilization in General, in which he proposed that all banks, mines, railways, and by degrees all great industries, should be socialized:

"In social economy the true good will be the progressive socialization of the sources of all riches, of instruments of work, of the conditions of general welfare."

"Capital must end by being entirely social, and each person must always receive a part of the produce according to his time of work."

A little later Vidal took up the same theme, specializing on the theory that Marx was later to make famous under the name of wage-slavery. In his book Living While Working, published in 1848, Vidal, following in the footsteps of Pecqueur, demanded the "socialization of the land" and the "socialization of capitals," which was to lead to "collective capital"—in other words, Communism tricked out in fresh phrases.

Buonarotti and the 'Conspiracy of Equals'

How is it that, in spite of continued failures, the idea of Communism persisted all through this period? M. Thureau-Dangin no doubt rightly attributes it to the Babouviste tradition, which he shows to have continued right up to the end of the century, and indeed we may say to the present moment:

In studying Fourierisme, Saint-Simonisme, and the other schools deriving from them that called themselves pacific we have found one of the origins of revolutionary socialism. This origin is not the only one. There is another, which, whilst less apparent, can nevertheless be recognized, and for this we must go back to Gracchus Babeuf, who, under the Directory, loudly preached the abolition of property, and the dividing up of all lands and all riches.

This affiliation has escaped the attention of most contemporaries, but to-day we have the proof that from the Equals of 1796 to the Socialists at the end of the Monarchy of July (i.e. the monarchy of Louis Philippe) the tradition was continued without interruption. One man was found in fact to receive it from the hands of Babeuf, to preserve it with a sort of savage piety and transmit it to new generations: this was Buonarotti.

It was Buonarotti who in 1828 published the History of the Conspiracy of the Equals (quoted in the last chapter of this book,) which was for ten years "the gospel of the French proletariat" studied in all the workshops, so that the working-men became infected with Babouvisme.

But in tracing this propaganda to Buonarotti's Babouvistic fervour M. Thureau-Dangin stops short of the truth and it is Malon who supplies the real explanation to the persistence of Communist tradition. Babeuf, it will be remembered, was an Illuminatus acting, according to his own confession, under orders from invisible chiefs, and it was by these same agencies that the work he had begun was carried on. Says Malon:

"The idea of community (i.e. Communism) had been transmitted in the dark through the secret societies" . . (and elsewhere) "Buonarotti had inspired nearly all the secret societies during the first thirty-five years of the century."

It is therefore not only as the coadjutor of Babeuf, but as the adept of Illuminism, that Buonarotti must be regarded.

Pierre-Joseph Proudhon—Father of Anarchy

But whilst Communism under the various forms described above continued its course through the succeeding groups of revolutionary Socialists, Illuminism had developed along another line more in conformity with its original purpose, namely, Anarchy. Of this creed Proudhon had become the chief exponent. Hitherto, although anarchic doctrines had been freely preached by Marat, Clootz, and Hebert, the appellation of "Anarchist" had been claimed by no one, but remained a term of opprobrium which even an enrage of 1793 would have indignantly resented. It was left to Proudhon to adopt the name of Anarchy (i.e. without government) as the profession of a political faith in contradistinction to Communism.

The difference between the two systems must be clearly understood if we are to follow the conflicts that marked the course of the revolutionary movement from this moment onwards.

Briefly then, whilst Communism declares that all land, wealth, and property must be taken out of private hands and placed under the control of the State, Anarchy advocates precisely the opposite principle, the complete abolition of the State and the seizure of wealth by the people.

Once again we come back to the old masonic formula—Liberty and Equality. Communism, which is the application of the principle of absolute Equality, regards humanity only in the mass, and would cut all men down to one dead level; Anarchy, which proclaims complete Liberty, would leave every man free to live as he pleases, to do as he will with his own, to rob or to murder. The former is rigid bureaucracy; the latter, Individualism run mad.

Now it is obvious that between the two creeds there can be no understanding, that indeed they are more opposed to each other than either is opposed to the existing social system. For under the constitutional governments enjoyed by all civilized countries to-day a certain degree of both Liberty and Equality prevails, and so, in England at any rate, our form of government may be said to represent the happy mean between two principles which, if pushed to extremes, must remain for ever irreconcilable.

It was thus that the masonic formula, after leading mankind into the morass of revolution, from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards divided the revolutionary forces into the two hostile camps indicated in the chart accompanying this book under the parallel columns of Socialism and Anarchy.

This rift, which had first made itself felt in 1794 when Robespierre turned on the Anarchists who had paved his way to power, now with the advent of Proudhon opened out never to close again. The rest of the history of world revolution up to the present day largely consists in the war between the State Socialists and Anarchists, whose bitter hatred of each other exceeds even the hatred of either for the "Capitalist system" both are eager to destroy.

By Proudhon, surnamed by Kropotkine "the Father of Anarchy," this hatred was, above all, logically directed against Robespierre, the Father of State Socialism, and expressed in no mild terms:

"All the runners after popularity, mountebanks of the revolution, have taken for their oracle Robespierre, the eternal denunciator, with the empty brain, the serpent's tooth. . . . Ah! I know him too well, this reptile, I have felt too well the wriggling of his tail, to spare in him the secret vice of democrats, the corrupting ferment of every Republic—Envy.

For the nineteenth-century devotees of Robespierre, Proudhon had nothing but loathing and contempt, and therefore during the years preceding the 1848 revolution occupied an almost isolated position.

"I am neither a Saint-Simonien, nor a Fourieriste, nor a Babouviste," (he wrote in 1840; and again:) "I have no desire to increase the number of these madmen."

The system of Fourier he described as "the last dream of debauchery in delirium"; Louis Blanc was "the most ignorant, the vainest, the emptiest, the most impudent and nauseous of declaimers."

"Far from me then, Communists!" he cries, "your presence stinks in my nostrils, the sight of you disgusts me."

The only point in which Proudhon found himself in accord with the Socialists was in his declamations against property, and in this be believed himself to be entirely original.

"Property," he declared, "is theft! It is not once in a thousand years that such a saying is made. I have no other treasure on earth except this definition of property, but I hold it more precious than the millions of Rothschild!"

Unhappily Proudhon's treasure was not his own, for he had borrowed it almost verbatim from Brissot, who in 1780 had written:

"Exclusive property is a theft in Nature. The thief, in the natural state, is the rich man." Moreover Brissot himself had not originated the idea, which may be found in the writings of both Weishaupt and Rousseau. So much for Proudhon's one cherished possession.

In his blasphemies likewise Proudhon had not even the merit of originality, for we seem to hear "the personal enemy of Jesus Christ," Anacharsis Clootz, in such phrases as these:

"God—that is folly and cowardice; God is tyranny and misery; God is Evil."

And going one step further he cries:

"To me then Lucifer, Satan! whoever you may be, the demon that the faith of my fathers opposed to God and the Church."

It is Proudhon, racked with a demon of hatred, bitterness, and revenge, in whom the devastating fire of world revolution is incarnated, a devil that drives him from the company of his fellow-men to dwell like the Gadarene demoniac in the wilderness.

One man there was who sought out Proudhon in his savage isolation, Michel Bakunin,—the first of that band of Russians later to be known by the name adopted by Proudhon, that of "Anarchist"—and often before the outbreak of 1848 these two would sit far into the night discussing the world revolution that was to overthrow the existing order. Proudhon's resolution: "I shall arm myself to the teeth against civilization; I shall begin a war that will end only with my life!" may be regarded as the battle-cry of the party led later on by Bakunin surnamed "the genius of destruction."

Giuseppe Mazzini, Secret Societies and Socialism

But neither Anarchists nor Socialists could alone have availed to bring about the revolutionary outbreaks that marked the first half of the nineteenth century; theory, however violent, must ever prove powerless to put in motion the concrete machinery needed for the subversion of law and order, and as in the first French Revolution it was the Secret Societies that provided the real driving force behind the movement.

It is possible that some of the leaders of thought during that period, known as "the dawn of Socialism," remained unconscious of the secret influence behind them; others, however wittingly, co-operated with them. Buonarotti, as we have seen, was one of the principal leaders of the Secret Societies; Saint-Simon and Bazard "consulted Nubius as a Delphic oracle." Mazzini, professing Christian and patriot though he was, had joined the ranks of the Carbonari, where his activities merely excited the derision of the Haute Vente. For the methods of the Carbonari were not those of the Haute Vente, which held that the mind rather than the body should be the point of attack.

"The murders of which our people render themselves guilty in France, Switzerland, and also in Italy," writes Vindex to Nubius, "are for us a shame and a remorse . . . we are too advanced to content ourselves with such means. . . . Our predecessors in Carbonarism did not understand their power. It is not in the blood of an isolated man or even of a traitor that it must be exercised; it is on the masses. . . .

"Let us . . . never cease to corrupt. Tertullian was right in saying that the blood of martyrs was the seed of Christians . . . do not let us make martyrs, but let us popularise vice amongst the multitudes. Let them breathe it in by their five senses, let them drink it, let them be saturated in it. . . . Make vicious hearts and you will have no more Catholics. Keep the priest away from labour, from the altar, from virtue. . . . Make him lazy, and gourmand. . . . You will thus have a thousand times better accomplished your task than if you had blunted the point of your stiletto upon the bones of some poor wretches. . . ."

"It is corruption en masse that we have undertaken; the corruption of the people by the clergy and the corruption of the clergy by ourselves, the corruption that ought one day to put the Church in her tomb. The best dagger with which to strike the Church is corruption. To the work, then, even to the very end."

It was thus that Mazzini excited the derision of the Haute Vente, for, as Nubius writing to "Beppo" on April 7, 1836, observed:

"You know that Mazzini has judged himself worthy to co-operate with us as in the grandest work of our day. The Vente Supreme has not decided thus. Mazzini behaves too much like a conspirator of melodrama to suit the obscure role we resign ourselves to play until our triumph. Mazzini likes to talk about a great many things, about himself above all. He never ceases writing that he is overthrowing thrones and altars, that he fertilizes the peoples, that he is the prophet of humanitarianism, etc., etc., and all that reduces itself to a few miserable defeats or to assassinations so vulgar that I should send away one of my lacqueys if he permitted himself to get rid of one of my enemies by such shameful means.

"Mazzini is a demigod to fools before whom he tries to get himself proclaimed the pontiff of fraternity of which he will be the Italian god. . . . In the sphere where he acts this poor Joseph is only ridiculous; in order to be a complete wild beast, he will always want for claws. He is the bourgeois gentilhomme of the Secret Societies. . . "

Mazzini on his part suspected that secrets were being kept from him by the chiefs of the Haute Vente, and Malegari, assailed by the same fears, wrote from London in 1835 to Dr. Breidenstein these significant words:

"We form an association of brothers in all points of the globe, we have desires and interests in common, we aim at the emancipation of humanity, we wish to break every kind of yoke, yet there is one that is unseen, that can hardly be felt, yet that weighs on us. Whence comes it? Where is it? No one knows, or at least no one tells. The association is secret, even for us, the veterans of secret societies."

Not only amongst the revolutionary leaders but in the industrial centres a new and mysterious power was making itself felt—the tyranny of Trade Unionism. Strikes not to be explained by the existing industrial grievances broke out continually in Scotland and the manufacturing towns in the North of England during those years of 1834 to 1860 and were conducted with a ferocity hitherto unknown in the history of the working-classes; men who would not co-operate were not merely boycotted but murdered, their houses burnt down and their wives and children driven half-clad into the streets at midnight. These outrages reached their height in 1859 and at Sheffield continued for fifteen years. In Manchester the brickmakers' hands were pierced and maimed by needles mixed in the clay they handled.

It would be absurd to attribute such methods to honest Trade Union leaders animated solely by an ardent or even a fanatical desire to improve the workers' lot. A number of these men indeed came forward to deny complicity and in some cases offered a reward for the detection of the criminals.

The truth is clear that Illuminism, following its usual course of insinuating itself into every organization framed for the benefit of humanity, and turning it to an exactly opposite purpose, was using Trade Unionism, which had been designed to liberate the workers, for their complete enslavement.

In the minds of contemporaries no doubt exists that a hidden and malevolent agency was at work. Alison, writing in 1847 of the despotism exercised by the "ruthless trade unions" in condemning thousands of people "to compulsory idleness and real destitution," adds:

"Nearly the whole of the loss arising from these strikes fell on the innocent and industrious labourers, willing and anxious to work, but deterred from doing so by the threats of the unions, and the dark menaces of an unknown committee. The mode in which these committees acquire such despotic authority is precisely the same as that which made the Committee of Public Safety despotic. Terror—terror—terror—"

Justin M'Carthy in his history of the same period confirms this assertion:

"It began to be common talk that among the trades associations there was systematic terrorizing of the worst kind, and that a Vehmgericht more secret and more grim than any known to the Middle Ages was issuing its sentences in many of our great industrial communities."

So Socialist leaders and working-men alike played the part of helpless puppets pulled by wires from behind, held in the hands of their sinister directors.

We shall now see how the course of world revolution coincided with the activities of these same secret agencies.