Proposed Roads To Freedom
Bertrand Russell

Part 2 out of 4

detestation the parasites of the movement and
the truly heroic and high-minded men who have elaborated
its theories and sacrificed comfort and success
to their propagation.

[18] The attitude of all the better Anarchists is that expressed
by L. S. Bevington in the words: ``Of course we know that
among those who call themselves Anarchists there are a minority
of unbalanced enthusiasts who look upon every illegal and sensational
act of violence as a matter for hysterical jubilation.
Very useful to the police and the press, unsteady in intellect
and of weak moral principle, they have repeatedly shown themselves
accessible to venal considerations. They, and their violence,
and their professed Anarchism are purchasable, and in
the last resort they are welcome and efficient partisans of the
bourgeoisie in its remorseless war against the deliverers of the
people.'' His conclusion is a very wise one: ``Let us leave
indiscriminate killing and injuring to the Government--to its
Statesmen, its Stockbrokers, its Officers, and its Law.'' (``Anarchism
and Violence,'' pp. 9-10. Liberty Press, Chiswick, 1896.)

The terrorist campaign in which such men as
Ravachol were active practically came to an end in
1894. After that time, under the influence of Pelloutier,
the better sort of Anarchists found a less
harmful outlet by advocating Revolutionary Syndicalism
in the Trade Unions and Bourses du Travail.[19]

[19] See next Chapter.

The ECONOMIC organization of society, as conceived
by Anarchist Communists, does not differ
greatly from that which is sought by Socialists.
Their difference from Socialists is in the matter of
government: they demand that government shall
require the consent of all the governed, and not only
of a majority. It is undeniable that the rule of a
majority may be almost as hostile to freedom as the
rule of a minority: the divine right of majorities is a
dogma as little possessed of absolute truth as any
other. A strong democratic State may easily be led
into oppression of its best citizens, namely, those
those independence of mind would make them a force
for progress. Experience of democratic parliamentary
government has shown that it falls very far
short of what was expected of it by early Socialists,
and the Anarchist revolt against it is not surprising.
But in the form of pure Anarchism, this revolt has
remained weak and sporadic. It is Syndicalism, and
the movements to which Syndicalism has given rise,
that have popularized the revolt against parliamentary
government and purely political means of emancipating
the wage earner. But this movement must
be dealt with in a separate chapter.



SYNDICALISM arose in France as a revolt against
political Socialism, and in order to understand it
we must trace in brief outline the positions attained
by Socialist parties in the various countries.

After a severe setback, caused by the Franco-
Prussian war, Socialism gradually revived, and in all
the countries of Western Europe Socialist parties
have increased their numerical strength almost
continuously during the last forty years; but, as is
invariably the case with a growing sect, the intensity
of faith has diminished as the number of believers
has increased.

In Germany the Socialist party became the
strongest faction of the Reichstag, and, in spite of
differences of opinion among its members, it preserved
its formal unity with that instinct for military
discipline which characterizes the German nation.
In the Reichstag election of 1912 it polled a third
of the total number of votes cast, and returned 110
members out of a total of 397. After the death of
Bebel, the Revisionists, who received their first
impulse from Bernstein, overcame the more strict
Marxians, and the party became in effect merely one
of advanced Radicalism. It is too soon to guess what
will be the effect of the split between Majority and
Minority Socialists which has occurred during the
war. There is in Germany hardly a trace of Syndicalism;
its characteristic doctrine, the preference of
industrial to political action, has found scarcely
any support.

In England Marx has never had many followers.
Socialism there has been inspired in the main by the
Fabians (founded in 1883), who threw over the
advocacy of revolution, the Marxian doctrine of
value, and the class-war. What remained was State
Socialism and a doctrine of ``permeation.'' Civil
servants were to be permeated with the realization
that Socialism would enormously increase their
power. Trade Unions were to be permeated with the
belief that the day for purely industrial action was
past, and that they must look to government (inspired
secretly by sympathetic civil servants) to bring
about, bit by bit, such parts of the Socialist program
as were not likely to rouse much hostility in the rich.
The Independent Labor Party (formed in 1893) was
largely inspired at first by the ideas of the Fabians,
though retaining to the present day, and especially
since the outbreak of the war, much more of the
original Socialist ardor. It aimed always at
co-operation with the industrial organizations of
wage-earners, and, chiefly through its efforts, the
Labor Party[20] was formed in 1900 out of a
combination of the Trade Unions and the political
Socialists. To this party, since 1909, all the important
Unions have belonged, but in spite of the fact
that its strength is derived from Trade Unions, it
has stood always for political rather than industrial
action. Its Socialism has been of a theoretical and
academic order, and in practice, until the outbreak
of war, the Labor members in Parliament (of whom
30 were elected in 1906 and 42 in December, 1910)
might be reckoned almost as a part of the Liberal

[20] Of which the Independent Labor Party is only a section.

France, unlike England and Germany, was not
content merely to repeat the old shibboleths with
continually diminishing conviction. In France[21] a new
movement, originally known as Revolutionary
Syndicalism--and afterward simply as Syndicalism--
kept alive the vigor of the original impulse, and
remained true to the spirit of the older Socialists,
while departing from the letter. Syndicalism, unlike
Socialism and Anarchism, began from an existing
organization and developed the ideas appropriate
to it, whereas Socialism and Anarchism began with
the ideas and only afterward developed the organizations
which were their vehicle. In order to understand
Syndicalism, we have first to describe Trade
Union organization in France, and its political
environment. The ideas of Syndicalism will then
appear as the natural outcome of the political and
economic situation. Hardly any of these ideas are
new; almost all are derived from the Bakunist section
of the old International.[21] The old International
had considerable success in France before the Franco-
Prussian War; indeed, in 1869, it is estimated to
have had a French membership of a quarter of a million.
What is practically the Syndicalist program
was advocated by a French delegate to the Congress
of the International at Bale in that same year.[22]

[20] And also in Italy. A good, short account of the Italian
movement is given by A. Lanzillo, ``Le Mouvement Ouvrier en
Italie,'' Bibliotheque du Mouvement Proletarien. See also Paul
Louis, ``Le Syndicalisme Europeen,'' chap. vi. On the other
hand Cole (``World of Labour,'' chap. vi) considers the strength
of genuine Syndicalism in Italy to be small.

[21] This is often recognized by Syndicalists themselves. See,
e.g., an article on ``The Old International'' in the Syndicalist
of February, 1913, which, after giving an account of the struggle
between Marx and Bakunin from the standpoint of a sympathizer
with the latter, says: ``Bakounin's ideas are now more alive
than ever.''

[22] See pp. 42-43, and 160 of ``Syndicalism in France,'' Louis
Levine, Ph.D. (Columbia University Studies in Political Science,
vol. xlvi, No. 3.) This is a very objective and reliable account
of the origin and progress of French Syndicalism. An admirable
short discussion of its ideas and its present position will be
found in Cole's ``World of Labour'' (G. Bell & Sons), especially
chapters iii, iv, and xi.

The war of 1870 put an end for the time being
to the Socialist Movement in France. Its revival
was begun by Jules Guesde in 1877. Unlike the Ger-
man Socialists, the French have been split into many
different factions. In the early eighties there was a
split between the Parliamentary Socialists and the
Communist Anarchists. The latter thought that the
first act of the Social Revolution should be the
destruction of the State, and would therefore have
nothing to do with Parliamentary politics. The
Anarchists, from 1883 onward, had success in Paris
and the South. The Socialists contended that the
State will disappear after the Socialist society has
been firmly established. In 1882 the Socialists split
between the followers of Guesde, who claimed to represent
the revolutionary and scientific Socialism of
Marx, and the followers of Paul Brousse, who were
more opportunist and were also called possibilists
and cared little for the theories of Marx. In 1890
there was a secession from the Broussists, who followed
Allemane and absorbed the more revolutionary
elements of the party and became leading spirits in
some of the strongest syndicates. Another group
was the Independent Socialists, among whom were
Jaures, Millerand and Viviani.[23]

[23] See Levine, op. cit., chap. ii.

The disputes between the various sections of
Socialists caused difficulties in the Trade Unions and
helped to bring about the resolution to keep politics
out of the Unions. From this to Syndicalism was
an easy step.

Since the year 1905, as the result of a union
between the Parti Socialiste de France (Part; Ouvrier
Socialiste Revolutionnaire Francais led by
Guesde) and the Parti Socialiste Francais (Jaures),
there have been only two groups of Socialists, the
United Socialist Party and the Independents, who
are intellectuals or not willing to be tied to a party.
At the General Election of 1914 the former secured
102 members and the latter 30, out of a total of 590.

Tendencies toward a rapprochement between the
various groups were seriously interfered with by an
event which had considerable importance for the
whole development of advanced political ideas in
France, namely, the acceptance of office in the Waldeck-
Rousseau Ministry by the Socialist Millerand
in 1899. Millerand, as was to be expected, soon
ceased to be a Socialist, and the opponents of political
action pointed to his development as showing
the vanity of political triumphs. Very many French
politicians who have risen to power have begun their
political career as Socialists, and have ended it not
infrequently by employing the army to oppress
strikers. Millerand's action was the most notable
and dramatic among a number of others of a similar
kind. Their cumulative effect has been to produce a
certain cynicism in regard to politics among the more
class-conscious of French wage-earners, and this
state of mind greatly assisted the spread of Syndicalism.

Syndicalism stands essentially for the point of
view of the producer as opposed to that of the consumer;
it is concerned with reforming actual work,
and the organization of industry, not MERELY with
securing greater rewards for work. From this point
of view its vigor and its distinctive character are
derived. It aims at substituting industrial for political
action, and at using Trade Union organization
for purposes for which orthodox Socialism would
look to Parliament. ``Syndicalism'' was originally
only the French name for Trade Unionism, but the
Trade Unionists of France became divided into two
sections, the Reformist and the Revolutionary, of
whom the latter only professed the ideas which we
now associate with the term ``Syndicalism.'' It is
quite impossible to guess how far either the organization
or the ideas of the Syndicalists will remain intact
at the end of the war, and everything that we shall say
is to be taken as applying only to the years before
the war. It may be that French Syndicalism as a
distinctive movement will be dead, but even in that
case it will not have lost its importance, since it has
given a new impulse and direction to the more vigorous
part of the labor movement in all civilized countries,
with the possible exception of Germany.

The organization upon which Syndicalism de-
pended was the Confederation Generale du Travail,
commonly known as the C. G. T., which was founded
in 1895, but only achieved its final form in 1902. It
has never been numerically very powerful, but has
derived its influence from the fact that in moments
of crisis many who were not members were willing
to follow its guidance. Its membership in the year
before the war is estimated by Mr. Cole at somewhat
more than half a million. Trade Unions (Syndicats)
were legalized by Waldeck-Rousseau in 1884,
and the C. G. T., on its inauguration in 1895, was
formed by the Federation of 700 Syndicats. Alongside
of this organization there existed another, the
Federation des Bourses du Travail, formed in 1893.
A Bourse du Travail is a local organization, not of
any one trade, but of local labor in general, intended
to serve as a Labor Exchange and to perform such
functions for labor as Chambers of Commerce perform
for the employer.[24] A Syndicat is in general
a local organization of a single industry, and is thus
a smaller unit than the Bourse du Travail.[25] Under
the able leadership of Pelloutier, the Federation des
Bourses prospered more than the C. G. T., and at
last, in 1902, coalesced with it. The result was an
organization in which the local Syndicat was fed-
erated twice over, once with the other Syndicat in
its locality, forming together the local Bourse du
Travail, and again with the Syndicats in the same
industry in other places. ``It was the purpose of the
new organization to secure twice over the membership
of every syndicat, to get it to join both its local
Bourse du Travail and the Federation of its industry.
The Statutes of the C. G. T. (I. 3) put this point
plainly: `No Syndicat will be able to form a part of
the C. G. T. if it is not federated nationally and an
adherent of a Bourse du Travail or a local or departmental
Union of Syndicats grouping different associations.'
Thus, M. Lagardelle explains, the two sections
will correct each other's point of view: national
federation of industries will prevent parochialism
(localisme), and local organization will check the
corporate or `Trade Union' spirit. The workers will
learn at once the solidarity of all workers in a locality
and that of all workers in a trade, and, in learning
this, they will learn at the same time the complete
solidarity of the whole working-class.''[26]

[24] Cole, ib., p. 65.

[25] ``Syndicat in France still means a local union--there are
at the present day only four national syndicats'' (ib., p. 66).

[26] Cole, ib. p. 69.

This organization was largely the work of Pellouties,
who was Secretary of the Federation des Bourses
from 1894 until his death in 1901. He was an Anarchist
Communist and impressed his ideas upon the
Federation and thence posthumously on the C. G. T.
after its combination with the Federation des
Bourses. He even carried his principles into the
government of the Federation; the Committee had
no chairman and votes very rarely took place. He
stated that ``the task of the revolution is to free
mankind, not only from all authority, but also from
every institution which has not for its essential purpose
the development of production.''

The C. G. T. allows much autonomy to each unit
in the organization. Each Syndicat counts for one,
whether it be large or small. There are not the
friendly society activities which form so large a part
of the work of English Unions. It gives no orders,
but is purely advisory. It does not allow politics
to be introduced into the Unions. This decision was
originally based upon the fact that the divisions
among Socialists disrupted the Unions, but it is now
reinforced in the minds of an important section by
the general Anarchist dislike of politics. The C. G.
T. is essentially a fighting organization; in strikes, it
is the nucleus to which the other workers rally.

There is a Reformist section in the C. G. T., but
it is practically always in a minority, and the C. G.
T. is, to all intents and purposes, the organ of
revolutionary Syndicalism, which is simply the creed
of its leaders.

The essential doctrine of Syndicalism is the class-
war, to be conducted by industrial rather than politi-
cal methods. The chief industrial methods advocated
are the strike, the boycott, the label and sabotage.

The boycott, in various forms, and the label,
showing that the work has been done under trade-
union conditions, have played a considerable part
in American labor struggles.

Sabotage is the practice of doing bad work, or
spoiling machinery or work which has already been
done, as a method of dealing with employers in a
dispute when a strike appears for some reason
undesirable or impossible. It has many forms, some
clearly innocent, some open to grave objections. One
form of sabotage which has been adopted by shop
assistants is to tell customers the truth about the
articles they are buying; this form, however it may
damage the shopkeeper's business, is not easy to
object to on moral grounds. A form which has been
adopted on railways, particularly in Italian strikes,
is that of obeying all rules literally and exactly, in
such a way as to make the running of trains practically
impossible. Another form is to do all the
work with minute care, so that in the end it is better
done, but the output is small. From these innocent
forms there is a continual progression, until we come
to such acts as all ordinary morality would consider
criminal; for example, causing railway accidents.
Advocates of sabotage justify it as part of
war, but in its more violent forms (in which it is
seldom defended) it is cruel and probably inexpedient,
while even in its milder forms it must tend to encourage
slovenly habits of work, which might easily persist
under the new regime that the Syndicalists wish
to introduce. At the same time, when capitalists
express a moral horror of this method, it is worth
while to observe that they themselves are the first
to practice it when the occasion seems to them appropriate.
If report speaks truly, an example of this
on a very large scale has been seen during the Russian

By far the most important of the Syndicalist
methods is the strike. Ordinary strikes, for specific
objects, are regarded as rehearsals, as a means of
perfecting organization and promoting enthusiasm,
but even when they are victorious so far as concerns
the specific point in dispute, they are not regarded
by Syndicalists as affording any ground for industrial
peace. Syndicalists aim at using the strike,
not to secure such improvements of detail as employers
may grant, but to destroy the whole system of
employer and employed and win the complete emancipation
of the worker. For this purpose what is
wanted is the General Strike, the complete cessation
of work by a sufficient proportion of the wage-earners
to secure the paralysis of capitalism. Sorel, who
represents Syndicalism too much in the minds of the
reading public, suggests that the General Strike is to
be regarded as a myth, like the Second Coming in
Christian doctrine. But this view by no means suits
the active Syndicalists. If they were brought to
believe that the General Strike is a mere myth, their
energy would flag, and their whole outlook would
become disillusioned. It is the actual, vivid belief
in its possibility which inspires them. They are much
criticised for this belief by the political Socialists
who consider that the battle is to be won by obtaining
a Parliamentary majority. But Syndicalists have
too little faith in the honesty of politicians to place
any reliance on such a method or to believe in the
value of any revolution which leaves the power of the
State intact.

Syndicalist aims are somewhat less definite than
Syndicalist methods. The intellectuals who endeavor
to interpret them--not always very faithfully--
represent them as a party of movement and change,
following a Bergsonian elan vital, without needing
any very clear prevision of the goal to which it is to
take them. Nevertheless, the negative part, at any
rate, of their objects is sufficiently clear.

They wish to destroy the State, which they
regard as a capitalist institution, designed essentially
to terrorize the workers. They refuse to
believe that it would be any better under State Socialism.
They desire to see each industry self-governing,
but as to the means of adjusting the relations between
different industries, they are not very clear. They
are anti-militarist because they are anti-State, and
because French troops have often been employed
against them in strikes; also because they are
internationalists, who believe that the sole interest of the
working man everywhere is to free himself from the
tyranny of the capitalist. Their outlook on life is
the very reverse of pacifist, but they oppose wars
between States on the ground that these are not
fought for objects that in any way concern the
workers. Their anti-militarism, more than anything
else, brought them into conflict with the authorities
in the years preceding the war. But, as was to be
expected, it did not survive the actual invasion of

The doctrines of Syndicalism may be illustrated
by an article introducing it to English readers in
the first number of ``The Syndicalist Railwayman,''
September, 1911, from which the following is quoted:--

``All Syndicalism, Collectivism, Anarchism aims at
abolishing the present economic status and existing private
ownership of most things; but while Collectivism
would substitute ownership by everybody, and Anarchism
ownership by nobody, Syndicalism aims at ownership by
Organized Labor. It is thus a purely Trade Union
reading of the economic doctrine and the class war
preached by Socialism. It vehemently repudiates Parliamentary
action on which Collectivism relies; and it is,
in this respect, much more closely allied to Anarchism,
from which, indeed, it differs in practice only in being
more limited in range of action.'' (Times, Aug. 25, 1911).

In truth, so thin is the partition between Syndicalism
and Anarchism that the newer and less familiar ``ism''
has been shrewdly defined as ``Organized Anarchy.'' It
has been created by the Trade Unions of France; but it
is obviously an international plant, whose roots have
already found the soil of Britain most congenial to its
growth and fructification.

Collectivist or Marxian Socialism would have us believe
that it is distinctly a LABOR Movement; but it is
not so. Neither is Anarchism. The one is substantially
bourgeois; the other aristocratic, plus an abundant output
of book-learning, in either case. Syndicalism, on the contrary,
is indubitably laborist in origin and aim, owing
next to nothing to the ``Classes,'' and, indeed,, resolute to
uproot them. The Times (Oct. 13, 1910), which almost
single-handed in the British Press has kept creditably
abreast of Continental Syndicalism, thus clearly set forth
the significance of the General Strike:

``To understand what it means, we must remember
that there is in France a powerful Labor Organization
which has for its open and avowed object a Revolution,
in which not only the present order of Society, but the
State itself, is to be swept away. This movement is called
Syndicalism. It is not Socialism, but, on the contrary,
radically opposed to Socialism, because the Syndicalists
hold that the State is the great enemy and that the
Socialists' ideal of State or Collectivist Ownership would
make the lot of the Workers much worse than it is now
under private employers. The means by which they hope
to attain their end is the General Strike, an idea which
was invented by a French workman about twenty years
ago,[27] and was adopted by the French Labor Congress in
1894, after a furious battle with the Socialists, in which
the latter were worsted. Since then the General Strike
has been the avowed policy of the Syndicalists, whose
organization is the Confederation Generale du Travail.''

[27] In fact the General Strike was invented by a Londoner
William Benbow, an Owenite, in 1831.

Or, to put it otherwise, the intelligent French worker
has awakened, as he believes, to the fact that Society
(Societas) and the State (Civitas) connote two separable
spheres of human activity, between which there is no
connection, necessary or desirable. Without the one, man,
being a gregarious animal, cannot subsist: while without
the other he would simply be in clover. The ``statesman''
whom office does not render positively nefarious
is at best an expensive superfluity.

Syndicalists have had many violent encounters
with the forces of government. In 1907 and 1908,
protesting against bloodshed which had occurred in
the suppression of strikes, the Committee of the C.
G. T. issued manifestoes speaking of the Government
as ``a Government of assassins'' and alluding
to the Prime Minister as ``Clemenceau the murderer.''
Similar events in the strike at Villeneuve St. Georges
in 1908 led to the arrest of all the leading members
of the Committee. In the railway strike of October,
1910, Monsieur Briand arrested the Strike Committee,
mobilized the railway men and sent soldiers
to replace strikers. As a result of these vigorous
measures the strike was completely defeated, and
after this the chief energy of the C. G. T. was directed
against militarism and nationalism.

The attitude of Anarchism to the Syndicalist
movement is sympathetic, with the reservation that
such methods as the General Strike are not to be
regarded as substitutes for the violent revolution
which most Anarchists consider necessary. Their
attitude in this matter was defined at the International
Anarchist Congress held in Amsterdam in
August, 1907. This Congress recommended ``comrades
of all countries to actively participate in autonomous
movements of the working class, and to
develop in Syndicalist organizations the ideas of
revolt, individual initiative and solidarity, which are
the essence of Anarchism.'' Comrades were to
``propagate and support only those forms and manifestations
of direct action which carry, in themselves,
a revolutionary character and lead to the
transformation of society.'' It was resolved that
``the Anarchists think that the destruction of the
capitalist and authoritary society can only be realized
by armed insurrection and violent expropriation,
and that the use of the more or less General Strike
and the Syndicalist movement must not make us
forget the more direct means of struggle against
the military force of government.''

Syndicalists might retort that when the movement
is strong enough to win by armed insurrection
it will be abundantly strong enough to win by the
General Strike. In Labor movements generally, success
through violence can hardly be expected except
in circumstances where success without violence is
attainable. This argument alone, even if there were
no other, would be a very powerful reason against
the methods advocated by the Anarchist Congress.

Syndicalism stands for what is known as industrial
unionism as opposed to craft unionism. In this
respect, as also in the preference of industrial to
political methods, it is part of a movement which
has spread far beyond France. The distinction
between industrial and craft unionism is much dwelt
on by Mr. Cole. Craft unionism ``unites in a single
association those workers who are engaged on a single
industrial process, or on processes so nearly akin
that any one can do another's work.'' But ``organization
may follow the lines, not of the work done,
but of the actual structure of industry. All workers
working at producing a particular kind of commodity
may be organized in a single Union. . . .
The basis of organization would be neither the craft
to which a man belonged nor the employer under
whom he worked, but the service on which he was
engaged. This is Industrial Unionism properly
so called.[28]

[28] ``World of Labour,'' pp. 212, 213.

Industrial unionism is a product of America,
and from America it has to some extent spread to
Great Britain. It is the natural form of fighting
organization when the union is regarded as the means
of carrying on the class war with a view, not to
obtaining this or that minor amelioration, but to a
radical revolution in the economic system. This is
the point of view adopted by the ``Industrial Workers
of the World,'' commonly known as the I. W. W.
This organization more or less corresponds in America
to what the C. G. T. was in France before the
war. The differences between the two are those due
to the different economic circumstances of the two
countries, but their spirit is closely analogous. The
I. W. W. is not united as to the ultimate form which
it wishes society to take. There are Socialists,
Anarchists and Syndicalists among its members. But it
is clear on the immediate practical issue, that the
class war is the fundamental reality in the present
relations of labor and capital, and that it is by
industrial action, especially by the strike, that
emancipation must be sought. The I. W. W., like the
C. G. T., is not nearly so strong numerically as it is
supposed to be by those who fear it. Its influence
is based, not upon its numbers, but upon its power
of enlisting the sympathies of the workers in moments
of crisis.

The labor movement in America has been characterized
on both sides by very great violence. Indeed,
the Secretary of the C. G. T., Monsieur Jouhaux,
recognizes that the C. G. T. is mild in comparison
with the I. W. W. ``The I. W. W.,'' he says,
``preach a policy of militant action, very necessary
in parts of America, which would not do in France.''[29]
A very interesting account of it, from the point of
view of an author who is neither wholly on the side
of labor nor wholly on the side of the capitalist, but
disinterestedly anxious to find some solution of the
social question short of violence and revolution, is
the work of Mr. John Graham Brooks, called ``American
Syndicalism: the I. W. W.'' (Macmillan, 1913).
American labor conditions are very different from
those of Europe. In the first place, the power of the
trusts is enormous; the concentration of capital has
in this respect proceeded more nearly on Marxian
lines in America than anywhere else. In the second
place, the great influx of foreign labor makes the
whole problem quite different from any that arises
in Europe. The older skilled workers, largely American
born, have long been organized in the American
Federation of Labor under Mr. Gompers. These
represent an aristocracy of labor. They tend to
work with the employers against the great mass of
unskilled immigrants, and they cannot be regarded as
forming part of anything that could be truly called
a labor movement. ``There are,'' says Mr. Cole,
``now in America two working classes, with different
standards of life, and both are at present almost
impotent in the face of the employers. Nor is it possible
for these two classes to unite or to put forward
any demands. . . . The American Federation
of Labor and the Industrial Workers of the
World represent two different principles of
combination; but they also represent two different
classes of labor.''[30] The I. W. W. stands for industrial
unionism, whereas the American Federation of
Labor stands for craft unionism. The I. W. W. were
formed in 1905 by a union of organizations, chief
among which was the Western Federation of Miners,
which dated from 1892. They suffered a split by the
loss of the followers of Deleon, who was the leader of
the ``Socialist Labor Party'' and advocated a
``Don't vote'' policy, while reprobating violent
methods. The headquarters of the party which he
formed are at Detroit, and those of the main body
are at Chicago. The I. W. W., though it has a less
definite philosophy than French Syndicalism, is quite
equally determined to destroy the capitalist system.
As its secretary has said: ``There is but one bargain
the I. W. W. will make with the employing class--
complete surrender of all control of industry to the
organized workers.''[31] Mr. Haywood, of the Western
Federation of Miners, is an out-and-out follower
of Marx so far as concerns the class war and the
doctrine of surplus value. But, like all who are in
this movement, he attaches more importance to industrial
as against political action than do the European
followers of Marx. This is no doubt partly
explicable by the special circumstances of America,
where the recent immigrants are apt to be voteless.
The fourth convention of the I. W. W. revised a
preamble giving the general principles underlying
its action. ``The working class and the employing
class,'' they say, ``have nothing in common. There
can be no peace so long as hunger and want are
found among millions of the working people and the
few, who make up the employing class, have all the
good things of life. Between these two classes, a
struggle must go on until the workers of the world
organize as a class, take possession of the earth and
the machinery of production, and abolish the wage
system. . . . Instead of the conservative motto,
`A fair day's wages for a fair day's work,' we must
inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword,
`Abolition of the wage system.' ''[32]

[29] Quoted in Cole, ib. p. 128.

[30] Ib., p. 135.

[31] Brooks, op. cit., p. 79.

[32] Brooks, op. cit., pp. 86-87.

Numerous strikes have been conducted or encouraged
by the I. W. W. and the Western Federation
of Miners. These strikes illustrate the class-war
in a more bitter and extreme form than is to be found
in any other part of the world. Both sides are always
ready to resort to violence. The employers have
armies of their own and are able to call upon the
Militia and even, in a crisis, upon the United States
Army. What French Syndicalists say about the
State as a capitalist institution is peculiarly true in
America. In consequence of the scandals thus arising,
the Federal Government appointed a Commission
on Industrial Relations, whose Report, issued in 1915,
reveals a state of affairs such as it would be difficult
to imagine in Great Britain. The report states that
``the greatest disorders and most of the outbreaks
of violence in connection with industrial `disputes
arise from the violation of what are considered
to be fundamental rights, and from the perversion
or subversion of governmental institutions''
(p. 146). It mentions, among such perversions,
the subservience of the judiciary to the mili-
tary authorities,[33] the fact that during a labor
dispute the life and liberty of every man within
the State would seem to be at the mercy of the
Governor (p. 72), and the use of State troops
in policing strikes (p. 298). At Ludlow (Colorado)
in 1914 (April 20) a battle of the militia and the
miners took place, in which, as the result of the fire
of the militia, a number of women and children were
burned to death.[34] Many other instances of pitched
battles could be given, but enough has been said to
show the peculiar character of labor disputes in the
United States. It may, I fear, be presumed that this
character will remain so long as a very large
proportion of labor consists of recent immigrants.
When these difficulties pass away, as they must
sooner or later, labor will more and more find its
place in the community, and will tend to feel and
inspire less of the bitter hostility which renders the
more extreme forms of class war possible. When

that time comes, the labor movement in America will
probably begin to take on forms similar to those of

[33] Although uniformly held that the writ of habeas corpus
can only be suspended by the legislature, in these labor disturbances
the executive has in fact suspended or disregarded the
writ. . . . In cases arising from labor agitations, the judiciary
has uniformly upheld the power exercised by the military,
and in no case has there been any protest against the use of
such power or any attempt to curtail it, except in Montana,
where the conviction of a civilian by military commission was
annulled'' (``Final Report of the Commission on Industrial
Relations'' (1915) appointed by the United States Congress,''
p. 58).

[34] Literary Digest, May 2 and May 16, 1914.

Meanwhile, though the forms are different, the
aims are very similar, and industrial unionism,
spreading from America, has had a considerable
influence in Great Britain--an influence naturally
reinforced by that of French Syndicalism. It is
clear, I think, that the adoption of industrial rather
than craft unionism is absolutely necessary if Trade
Unionism is to succeed in playing that part in altering
the economic structure of society which its advocates
claim for it rather than for the political
parties. Industrial unionism organizes men, as craft
unionism does not, in accordance with the enemy
whom they have to fight. English unionism is still
very far removed from the industrial form, though
certain industries, especially the railway men, have
gone very far in this direction, and it is notable that
the railway men are peculiarly sympathetic to Syndicalism
and industrial unionism.

Pure Syndicalism, however, is not very likely to
achieve wide popularity in Great Britain. Its spirit
is too revolutionary and anarchistic for our temperament.
It is in the modified form of Guild Socialism
that the ideas derived from the C. G. T. and the I. W.
W. are tending to bear fruit.[35] This movement is as
yet in its infancy and has no great hold upon the rank
and file, but it is being ably advocated by a group
of young men, and is rapidly gaining ground among
those who will form Labor opinion in years to come.
The power of the State has been so much increased
during the war that those who naturally dislike
things as they are, find it more and more difficult to
believe that State omnipotence can be the road to the
millennium. Guild Socialists aim at autonomy in
industry, with consequent curtailment, but not abolition,
of the power of the State. The system which
they advocate is, I believe, the best hitherto proposed,
and the one most likely to secure liberty without
the constant appeals to violence which are to be
feared under a purely Anarchist regime.

[35] The ideas of Guild Socialism were first set forth in
``National Guilds,'' edited by A. R. Orage (Bell & Sons, 1914),
and in Cole's ``World of Labour'' (Bell & Sons), first published
in 1913. Cole's ``Self-Government in Industry'' (Bell &
Sons, 1917) and Rickett & Bechhofer's ``The Meaning of
National Guilds'' (Palmer & Hayward, 1918) should also be
read, as well as various pamphlets published by the National
Guilds League. The attitude of the Syndicalists to Guild
Socialism is far from sympathetic. An article in ``The
Syndicalist'' for February, 1914, speaks of it in the following
terms: a Middle-class of the middle-class, with all the shortcomings
(we had almost said `stupidities') of the middle-
classes writ large across it, `Guild Socialism' stands forth
as the latest lucubration of the middle-class mind. It is a
`cool steal' of the leading ideas of Syndicalism and a deliberate
perversion of them. . . . We do protest against the `State'
idea . . . in Guild Socialism. Middle-class people, even
when they become Socialists, cannot get rid of the idea that the
working-class is their `inferior'; that the workers need to be
`educated,' drilled, disciplined, and generally nursed for a very
long time before they will be able to walk by themselves. The
very reverse is actually the truth. . . . It is just the plain
truth when we say that the ordinary wage-worker, of average
intelligence, is better capable of taking care of himself than the
half-educated middle-class man who wants to advise him. He
knows how to make the wheels of the world go round.''

The first pamphlet of the ``National Guilds
League'' sets forth their main principles. In industry
each factory is to be free to control its own
methods of production by means of elected managers.
The different factories in a given industry are to be
federated into a National Guild which will deal with
marketing and the general interests of the industry
as a whole. ``The State would own the means of
production as trustee for the community; the Guilds
would manage them, also as trustees for the community,
and would pay to the State a single tax or
rent. Any Guild that chose to set its own interests
above those of the community would be violating
its trust, and would have to bow to the judgment of
a tribunal equally representing the whole body of
producers and the whole body of consumers. This
Joint Committee would be the ultimate sovereign
body, the ultimate appeal court of industry. It
would fix not only Guild taxation, but also standard
prices, and both taxation and prices would be periodically
readjusted by it.'' Each Guild will be
entirely free to apportion what it receives among its
members as it chooses, its members being all those who
work in the industry which it covers. ``The distribution
of this collective Guild income among the
members seems to be a matter for each Guild to decide
for itself. Whether the Guilds would, sooner or later,
adopt the principle of equal payment for every member,
is open to discussion.'' Guild Socialism accepts
from Syndicalism the view that liberty is not to be
secured by making the State the employer: ``The
State and the Municipality as employers have turned
out not to differ essentially from the private capitalist.''
Guild Socialists regard the State as consisting
of the community in their capacity as consumers,
while the Guilds will represent them in their capacity
as producers; thus Parliament and the Guild Congress
will be two co-equal powers representing consumers
and producers respectively. Above both will
be the joint Committee of Parliament and the Guild
Congress for deciding matters involving the interests
of consumers and producers alike. The view of the
Guild Socialists is that State Socialism takes account
of men only as consumers, while Syndicalism takes
account of them only as producers. ``The problem,''
say the Guild Socialists, ``is to reconcile the two
points of view. That is what advocates of National
Guilds set out to do. The Syndicalist has claimed
everything for the industrial organizations of producers,
the Collectivist everything for the territorial
or political organizations of consumers. Both are
open to the same criticism; you cannot reconcile two
points of view merely by denying one of them.''[36]
But although Guild Socialism represents an attempt
at readjustment between two equally legitimate points
of view, its impulse and force are derived from
what it has taken over from Syndicalism. Like Syndicalism;
it desires not primarily to make work better
paid, but to secure this result along with others by
making it in itself more interesting and more democratic
in organization.

[36] The above quotations are all from the first pamphlet of the
National Guilds League, ``National Guilds, an Appeal to Trade

Capitalism has made of work a purely commercial
activity, a soulless and a joyless thing. But substitute
the national service of the Guilds for the profiteering of
the few; substitute responsible labor for a saleable commodity;
substitute self-government and decentralization
for the bureaucracy and demoralizing hugeness of the
modern State and the modern joint stock company; and
then it may be just once more to speak of a ``joy in
labor,'' and once more to hope that men may be proud
of quality and not only of quantity in their work. There
is a cant of the Middle Ages, and a cant of ``joy in
labor,'' but it were better, perhaps, to risk that cant
than to reconcile ourselves forever to the philosophy of
Capitalism and of Collectivism, which declares that work
is a necessary evil never to be made pleasant, and that
the workers' only hope is a leisure which shall be longer,
richer, and well adorned with municipal amenities.[37]

[37] ``The Guild Idea,'' No. 2 of the Pamphlets of the National
Guilds League, p. 17.

Whatever may be thought of the practicability
of Syndicalism, there is no doubt that the ideas which
it has put into the world have done a great deal
to revive the labor movement and to recall it to certain
things of fundamental importance which it had
been in danger of forgetting. Syndicalists consider
man as producer rather than consumer. They are
more concerned to procure freedom in work than to
increase material well-being. They have revived the
quest for liberty, which was growing somewhat
dimmed under the regime of Parliamentary Socialism,
and they have reminded men that what our modern
society needs is not a little tinkering here and there,
nor the kind of minor readjustments to which the
existing holders of power may readily consent, but
a fundamental reconstruction, a sweeping away of
all the sources of oppression, a liberation of men's
constructive energies, and a wholly new way of
conceiving and regulating production and economic
relations. This merit is so great that, in view of it,
all minor defects become insignificant, and this merit
Syndicalism will continue to possess even if, as a
definite movement, it should be found to have passed
away with the war.





THE man who seeks to create a better order of
society has two resistances to contend with: one that
of Nature, the other that of his fellow-men. Broadly
speaking, it is science that deals with the resistance
of Nature, while politics and social organization are
the methods of overcoming the resistance of men.

The ultimate fact in economics is that Nature only
yields commodities as the result of labor. The necessity
of SOME labor for the satisfaction of our wants
is not imposed by political systems or by the exploitation
of the working classes; it is due to physical
laws, which the reformer, like everyone else, must
admit and study. Before any optimistic economic
project can be accepted as feasible, we must examine
whether the physical conditions of production impose
an unalterable veto, or whether they are capable of
being sufficiently modified by science and organization.
Two connected doctrines must be considered
in examining this question: First, Malthus' doctrine
of population; and second, the vaguer, but very
prevalent, view that any surplus above the bare
necessaries of life can only be produced if most men
work long hours at monotonous or painful tasks,
leaving little leisure for a civilized existence or
rational enjoyment. I do not believe that either
of these obstacles to optimism will survive a close
scrutiny. The possibility of technical improvement
in the methods of production is, I believe, so
great that, at any rate for centuries to come, there
will be no inevitable barrier to progress in the general
well-being by the simultaneous increase of commodities
and diminution of hours of labor.

This subject has been specially studied by Kropotkin,
who, whatever may be thought of his general
theories of politics, is remarkably instructive, concrete
and convincing in all that he says about the
possibilities of agriculture. Socialists and Anarchists
in the main are products of industrial life, and
few among them have any practical knowledge on the
subject of food production. But Kropotkin is an
exception. His two books, ``The Conquest of Bread''
and ``Fields, Factories and Workshops,'' are very
full of detailed information, and, even making great
allowances for an optimistic bias, I do not think it
can be denied that they demonstrate possibilities in
which few of us would otherwise have believed.

Malthus contended, in effect, that population
always tends to increase up to the limit of subsistence,
that the production of food becomes more expensive
as its amount is increased, and that therefore, apart
from short exceptional periods when new discoveries
produce temporary alleviations, the bulk of mankind
must always be at the lowest level consistent with
survival and reproduction. As applied to the civilized
races of the world, this doctrine is becoming
untrue through the rapid decline in the birth-rate;
but, apart from this decline, there are many other
reasons why the doctrine cannot be accepted, at any
rate as regards the near future. The century which
elapsed after Malthus wrote, saw a very great
increase in the standard of comfort throughout the
wage-earning classes, and, owing to the enormous
increase in the productivity of labor, a far greater
rise in the standard of comfort could have been
effected if a more just system of distribution had
been introduced. In former times, when one man's
labor produced not very much more than was needed
for one man's subsistence, it was impossible either
greatly to reduce the normal hours of labor, or
greatly to increase the proportion of the population
who enjoyed more than the bare necessaries of life.
But this state of affairs has been overcome by modern
methods of production. At the present moment,
not only do many people enjoy a comfortable income
derived from rent or interest, but about half the
population of most of the civilized countries in the
world is engaged, not in the production of commodities,
but in fighting or in manufacturing munitions
of war. In a time of peace the whole of this
half might be kept in idleness without making the
other half poorer than they would have been if the
war had continued, and if, instead of being idle, they
were productively employed, the whole of what they
would produce would be a divisible surplus over and
above present wages. The present productivity of
labor in Great Britain would suffice to produce an
income of about 1 pound per day for each family, even
without any of those improvements in methods which
are obviously immediately possible.

But, it will be said, as population increases, the
price of food must ultimately increase also as
the sources of supply in Canada, the Argentine,
Australia and elsewhere are more and more used up.
There must come a time, so pessimists will urge, when
food becomes so dear that the ordinary wage-earner
will have little surplus for expenditure upon other
things. It may be admitted that this would be true
in some very distant future if the population were to
continue to increase without limit. If the whole
surface of the world were as densely populated as
London is now, it would, no doubt, require almost
the whole labor of the population to produce the
necessary food from the few spaces remaining for
agriculture. But there is no reason to suppose that
the population will continue to increase indefinitely,
and in any case the prospect is so remote that it may
be ignored in all practical considerations.

Returning from these dim speculations to the
facts set forth by Kropotkin, we find it proved in
his writings that, by methods of intensive cultivation,
which are already in actual operation, the amount of
food produced on a given area can be increased far
beyond anything that most uninformed persons suppose
possible. Speaking of the market-gardeners in
Great Britain, in the neighborhood of Paris, and in
other places, he says:--

They have created a totally new agriculture. They
smile when we boast about the rotation system having
permitted us to take from the field one crop every year,
or four crops each three years, because their ambition is
to have six and nine crops from the very same plot of
land during the twelve months. They do not understand
our talk about good and bad soils, because they make
the soil themselves, and make it in such quantities as to
be compelled yearly to sell some of it; otherwise it would
raise up the level of their gardens by half an inch every
year. They aim at cropping, not five or six tons of
grass on the acre, as we do, but from 50 to 100 tons of
various vegetables on the same space; not 5 pound sworth of
hay, but 100 pounds worth of vegetables, of the plainest description,
cabbage and carrots.[38]

[38] Kropotkin, ``Fields, Factories and Workshops,'' p. 74.

As regards cattle, he mentions that Mr. Champion
at Whitby grows on each acre the food of two or
three head of cattle, whereas under ordinary high
farming it takes two or three acres to keep each head
of cattle in Great Britain. Even more astonishing
are the achievements of the Culture Maraicheres
round Paris. It is impossible to summarize these
achievements, but we may note the general

There are now practical Maraichers who venture to
maintain that if all the food, animal and vegetable,
necessary for the 3,500,000 inhabitants of the Departments
of Seine and Seine-et-Oise had to be grown on
their own territory (3250 square miles), it could be
grown without resorting to any other methods of culture
than those already in use--methods already tested on a
large scale and proved successful.[39]

[39] Ib. p. 81.

It must be remembered that these two departments
include the whole population of Paris.

Kropotkin proceeds to point out methods by
which the same result could be achieved without long
hours of labor. Indeed, he contends that the great
bulk of agricultural work could be carried on by
people whose main occupations are sedentary, and
with only such a number of hours as would serve to
keep them in health and produce a pleasant diversification.
He protests against the theory of exces-
sive division of labor. What he wants is INTEGRATION,
``a society where each individual is a producer of
both manual and intellectual work; where each able-
bodied human being is a worker, and where each
worker works both in the field and in the industrial

[40] Kropotkin, ``Field, Factories, and Workshops,'' p. 6.

These views as to production have no essential
connection with Kropotkin's advocacy of Anarchism.
They would be equally possible under State
Socialism, and under certain circumstances they
might even be carried out in a capitalistic regime.
They are important for our present purpose, not
from any argument which they afford in favor of one
economic system as against another, but from the
fact that they remove the veto upon our hopes which
might otherwise result from a doubt as to the productive
capacity of labor. I have dwelt upon agriculture
rather than industry, since it is in regard
to agriculture that the difficulties are chiefly supposed
to arise. Broadly speaking, industrial production
tends to be cheaper when it is carried on on
a large scale, and therefore there is no reason in
industry why an increase in the demand should lead
to an increased cost of supply.

Passing now from the purely technical and material
side of the problem of production, we come
to the human factor, the motives leading men to
work, the possibilities of efficient organization of
production, and the connection of production with
distribution. Defenders of the existing system
maintain that efficient work would be impossible without
the economic stimulus, and that if the wage
system were abolished men would cease to do enough
work to keep the community in tolerable comfort.
Through the alleged necessity of the economic motive,
the problems of production and distribution
become intertwined. The desire for a more just
distribution of the world's goods is the main inspiration
of most Socialism and Anarchism. We must,
therefore, consider whether the system of distribution
which they propose would be likely to lead to
a diminished production.

There is a fundamental difference between Socialism
and Anarchism as regards the question of distribution.
Socialism, at any rate in most of its
forms, would retain payment for work done or for
willingness to work, and, except in the case of persons
incapacitated by age or infirmity, would make
willingness to work a condition of subsistence, or at
any rate of subsistence above a certain very low
minimum. Anarchism, on the other hand, aims at
granting to everyone, without any conditions whatever,
just as much of all ordinary commodities as
he or she may care to consume, while the rarer com-
modities, of which the supply cannot easily be
indefinitely increased, would be rationed and divided
equally among the population. Thus Anarchism
would not impose any OBLIGATIONS of work, though
Anarchists believe that the necessary work could be
made sufficiently agreeable for the vast majority of
the population to undertake it voluntarily. Socialists,
on the other hand, would exact work. Some of
them would make the incomes of all workers equal,
while others would retain higher pay for the work
which is considered more valuable. All these different
systems are compatible with the common ownership
of land and capital, though they differ greatly
as regards the kind of society which they would

Socialism with inequality of income would not
differ greatly as regards the economic stimulus to
work from the society in which we live. Such differences
as it would entail would undoubtedly be to the
good from our present point of view. Under the
existing system many people enjoy idleness and
affluence through the mere accident of inheriting land
or capital. Many others, through their activities in
industry or finance, enjoy an income which is certainly
very far in excess of anything to which their
social utility entitles them. On the other hand, it
often happens that inventors and discoverers, whose
work has the very greatest social utility, are robbed
of their reward either by capitalists or by the failure
of the public to appreciate their work until too
late. The better paid work is only open to those who
have been able to afford an expensive training, and
these men are selected in the main not by merit but
by luck. The wage earner is not paid for his willingness
to work, but only for his utility to the employer.
Consequently, he may be plunged into destitution by
causes over which he has no control. Such destitution
is a constant fear, and when it occurs it produces
undeserved suffering, and often deterioration
in the social value of the sufferer. These are a few
among the evils of our existing system from the
standpoint of production. All these evils we might
expect to see remedied under any system of Socialism.

There are two questions which need to be considered
when we are discussing how far work requires
the economic motive. The first question is: Must
society give higher pay for the more skilled or socially
more valuable work, if such work is to be done in
sufficient quantities? The second question is: Could
work be made so attractive that enough of it would
be done even if idlers received just as much of the
produce of work? The first of these questions concerns
the division between two schools of Socialists:
the more moderate Socialists sometimes concede that
even under Socialism it would be well to retain
unequal pay for different kinds of work, while the
more thoroughgoing Socialists advocate equal
incomes for all workers. The second question, on the
other hand, forms a division between Socialists and
Anarchists; the latter would not deprive a man of
commodities if he did not work, while the former in
general would.

Our second question is so much more fundamental
than our first that it must be discussed at once, and
in the course of this discussion what needs to be said
on our first question will find its place naturally.

Wages or Free Sharing?--``Abolition of the
wages system'' is one of the watchwords common
to Anarchists and advanced Socialists. But in its
most natural sense it is a watchword to which only
the Anarchists have a right. In the Anarchist conception
of society all the commoner commodities will
be available to everyone without stint, in the kind
of way in which water is available at present.[41] Advo-
cates of this system point out that it applies already
to many things which formerly had to be paid for,
e.g., roads and bridges. They point out that it
might very easily be extended to trams and local
trains. They proceed to argue--as Kropotkin does
by means of his proofs that the soil might be made
indefinitely more productive--that all the commoner
kinds of food could be given away to all who demanded
them, since it would be easy to produce them in quantities
adequate to any possible demand. If this system
were extended to all the necessaries of life,
everyone's bare livelihood would be secured, quite
regardless of the way in which he might choose to
spend his time. As for commodities which cannot
be produced in indefinite quantities, such as luxuries
and delicacies, they also, according to the Anarchists,
are to be distributed without payment, but on a system
of rations, the amount available being divided
equally among the population. No doubt, though
this is not said, something like a price will have
to be put upon these luxuries, so that a man may
be free to choose how he will take his share: one man
will prefer good wine, another the finest Havana
cigars, another pictures or beautiful furniture. Presumably,
every man will be allowed to take such luxuries
as are his due in whatever form he prefers, the
relative prices being fixed so as to equalize the
demand. In such a world as this, the economic stimulus
to production will have wholly disappeared, and
if work is to continue it must be from other motives.[42]

[41] ``Notwithstanding the egotistic turn given to the public
mind by the merchant-production of our century, the Communist
tendency is continually reasserting itself and trying to
make its way into public life. The penny bridge disappears before
the public bridge; and the turnpike road before the free
road. The same spirit pervades thousands of other institutions.
Museums, free libraries, and free public schools; parks and
pleasure grounds; paved and lighted streets, free for everybody's
use; water supplied to private dwellings, with a growing tendency
towards disregarding the exact amount of it used by the
individual, tramways and railways which have already begun to
introduce the season ticket or the uniform tax, and will surely
go much further on this line when they are no longer private
property: all these are tokens showing in what direction further
progress is to be expected.''--Kropotkin, ``Anarchist Communism.''

[42] An able discussion of this question, at of various others,
from the standpoint of reasoned and temperate opposition to
Anarchism, will be found in Alfred Naquet's ``L'Anarchie et le
Collectivisme,'' Paris, 1904.

Is such a system possible? First, is it technically
possible to provide the necessaries of life in such
large quantities as would be needed if every man and
woman could take as much of them from the public
stores as he or she might desire?

The idea of purchase and payment is so familiar
that the proposal to do away with it must be thought
at first fantastic. Yet I do not believe it is nearly
so fantastic as it seems. Even if we could all have
bread for nothing, we should not want more than
a quite limited amount. As things are, the cost of
bread to the rich is so small a proportion of their
income as to afford practically no check upon their
consumption; yet the amount of bread that they consume
could easily be supplied to the whole population
by improved methods of agriculture (I am not speaking
of war-time). The amount of food that people
desire has natural limits, and the waste that would
be incurred would probably not be very great. As
the Anarchists point out, people at present enjoy
an unlimited water supply but very few leave the
taps running when they are not using them. And
one may assume that public opinion would be opposed
to excessive waste. We may lay it down, I think,
that the principle of unlimited supply could be
adopted in regard to all commodities for which the
demand has limits that fall short of what can be
easily produced. And this would be the case, if production
were efficiently organized, with the necessaries
of life, including not only commodities, but also
such things as education. Even if all education were
free up to the highest, young people, unless they were
radically transformed by the Anarchist regime,
would not want more than a certain amount of it.
And the same applies to plain foods, plain clothes,
and the rest of the things that supply our elementary

I think we may conclude that there is no technical
impossibility in the Anarchist plan of free

But would the necessary work be done if the individual
were assured of the general standard of comfort
even though he did no work?

Most people will answer this question unhesitatingly
in the negative. Those employers in particular
who are in the habit of denouncing their
employes as a set of lazy, drunken louts, will feel quite
certain that no work could be got out of them except
under threat of dismissal and consequent starvation.
But is this as certain as people are inclined to sup-
pose at first sight? If work were to remain what
most work is now, no doubt it would be very hard to
induce people to undertake it except from fear of
destitution. But there is no reason why work should
remain the dreary drudgery in horrible conditions
that most of it is now.[43] If men had to be tempted to
work instead of driven to it, the obvious interest of
the community would be to make work pleasant. So
long as work is not made on the whole pleasant, it
cannot be said that anything like a good state of
society has been reached. Is the painfulness of work

[43] ``Overwork is repulsive to human nature--not work. Overwork
for supplying the few with luxury--not work for the well-
being of all. Work, labor, is a physiological necessity, a necessity
of spending accumulated bodily energy, a necessity which
is health and life itself. If so many branches of useful work are
so reluctantly done now, it is merely because they mean overwork,
or they are improperly organized. But we know--old
Franklin knew it--that four hours of useful work every day
would be more than sufficient for supplying everybody with the
comfort of a moderately well-to-do middle-class house, if we all
gave ourselves to productive work, and if we did not waste our
productive powers as we do waste them now. As to the childish
question, repeated for fifty years: `Who would do disagreeable
work?' frankly I regret that none of our savants has ever been
brought to do it, be it for only one day in his life. If there is
still work which is really disagreeable in itself, it is only
because our scientific men have never cared to consider the
means of rendering it less so: they have always known that there
were plenty of starving men who would do it for a few pence
a day.'' Kropotkin, ```Anarchist Communism.''

At present, the better paid work, that of the
business and professional classes, is for the most part
enjoyable. I do not mean that every separate
moment is agreeable, but that the life of a man who
has work of this sort is on the whole happier than
that of a man who enjoys an equal income without
doing any work. A certain amount of effort, and
something in the nature of a continuous career, are
necessary to vigorous men if they are to preserve
their mental health and their zest for life. A considerable
amount of work is done without pay. People
who take a rosy view of human nature might have
supposed that the duties of a magistrate would be
among disagreeable trades, like cleaning sewers; but
a cynic might contend that the pleasures of vindictiveness
and moral superiority are so great that there is
no difficulty in finding well-to-do elderly gentlemen
who are willing, without pay, to send helpless wretches
to the torture of prison. And apart from enjoyment
of the work itself, desire for the good opinion of
neighbors and for the feeling of effectiveness is quite
sufficient to keep many men active.

But, it will be said, the sort of work that a man
would voluntarily choose must always be exceptional:
the great bulk of necessary work can never be anything
but painful. Who would choose, if an easy life
were otherwise open to him, to be a coal-miner, or a
stoker on an Atlantic liner? I think it must be conceded
that much necessary work must always remain
disagreeable or at least painfully monotonous, and
that special privileges will have to be accorded to
those who undertake it, if the Anarchist system is ever
to be made workable. It is true that the introduction
of such special privileges would somewhat mar the
rounded logic of Anarchism, but it need not,
I think, make any really vital breach in its system.
Much of the work that needs doing could be rendered
agreeable, if thought and care were given
to this object. Even now it is often only long hours
that make work irksome. If the normal hours of
work were reduced to, say, four, as they could be by
better organization and more scientific methods, a
very great deal of work which is now felt as a burden
would quite cease to be so. If, as Kropotkin suggests,
agricultural work, instead of being the lifelong
drudgery of an ignorant laborer living very
near the verge of abject poverty, were the occasional
occupation of men and women normally employed in
industry or brain-work; if, instead of being conducted
by ancient traditional methods, without any
possibility of intelligent participation by the wage-
earner, it were alive with the search for new methods
and new inventions, filled with the spirit of freedom,
and inviting the mental as well as the physical cooperation
of those who do the work, it might become
a joy instead of a weariness, and a source of health
and life to those engaged in it.

What is true of agriculture is said by Anarchists
to be equally true of industry. They maintain
that if the great economic organizations which
are now managed by capitalists, without consideration
for the lives of the wage-earners beyond
what Trade Unions are able to exact, were turned
gradually into self-governing communities, in which
the producers could decide all questions of methods,
conditions, hours of work, and so forth, there would
be an almost boundless change for the better: grime
and noise might be nearly eliminated, the hideousness
of industrial regions might be turned into beauty, the
interest in the scientific aspects of production might
become diffused among all producers with any native
intelligence, and something of the artist's joy in creation
might inspire the whole of the work. All this,
which is at present utterly remote from the reality,
might be produced by economic self-government.
We may concede that by such means a very large
proportion of the necessary work of the world could
ultimately be made sufficiently agreeable to be preferred
before idleness even by men whose bare livelihood
would be assured whether they worked or not.
As to the residue let us admit that special rewards,
whether in goods or honors or privileges, would have
to be given to those who undertook it. But this need
not cause any fundamental objection.

There would, of course, be a certain proportion
of the population who would prefer idleness. Provided
the proportion were small, this need not matter.
And among those who would be classed as idlers
might be included artists, writers of books, men
devoted to abstract intellectual pursuits--in short,
all those whom society despises while they are alive
and honors when they are dead. To such men, the
possibility of pursuing their own work regardless
of any public recognition of its utility would be
invaluable. Whoever will observe how many of our
poets have been men of private means will realize how
much poetic capacity must have remained undeveloped
through poverty; for it would be absurd to
suppose that the rich are better endowed by nature
with the capacity for poetry. Freedom for such men,
few as they are, must be set against the waste of
the mere idlers.

So far, we have set forth the arguments in favor
of the Anarchist plan. They are, to my mind, sufficient
to make it seem possible that the plan might
succeed, but not sufficient to make it so probable that
it would be wise to try it.

The question of the feasibility of the Anarchist
proposals in regard to distribution is, like so many
other questions, a quantitative one. The Anarchist
proposals consist of two parts: (1) That all the common
commodities should be supplied ad lib. to all
applicants; (2) That no obligation to work, or economic
reward for work, should be imposed on anyone.
These two proposals are not necessarily inseparable,
nor does either entail the whole system of Anarchism,
though without them Anarchism would hardly be
possible. As regards the first of these proposals, it
can be carried out even now with regard to some
commodities, and it could be carried out in no very
distant future with regard to many more. It is a
flexible plan, since this or that article of consumption
could be placed on the free list or taken of as
circumstances might dictate. Its advantages are
many and various, and the practice of the world tends
to develop in this direction. I think we may conclude
that this part of the Anarchists' system might
well be adopted bit by bit, reaching gradually the
full extension that they desire.

But as regards the second proposal, that there
should be no obligation to work, and no economic
reward for work, the matter is much more doubtful.
Anarchists always assume that if their schemes were
put into operation practically everyone would work;
but although there is very much more to be said
for this view than most people would concede at first
sight, yet it is questionable whether there is enough
to be said to make it true for practical purposes.
Perhaps, in a community where industry had become
habitual through economic pressure, public opinion
might be sufficiently powerful to compel most men
to work;[44] but it is always doubtful how far such
a state of things would be permanent. If public
opinion is to be really effective, it will be necessary
to have some method of dividing the community into
small groups, and to allow each group to consume
only the equivalent of what it produces. This will
make the economic motive operative upon the group,
which, since we are supposing it small, will feel that
its collective share is appreciably diminished by each
idle individual. Such a system might be feasible, but
it would be contrary to the whole spirit of Anarchism
and would destroy the main lines of its economic

[44] ``As to the so-often repeated objection that nobody would
labor if he were not compelled to do so by sheer necessity, we
heard enough of it before the emancipation of slaves in America,
as well as before the emancipation of serfs in Russia; and we
have had the opportunity of appreciating it at its just value.
So we shall not try to convince those who can be convinced only
by accomplished facts. As to those who reason, they ought to
know that, if it really was so with some parts of humanity at
its lowest stages--and yet, what do we know about it?--or if
it is so with some small communities, or separate individuals,
brought to sheer despair by ill-success in their struggle against
unfavorable conditions, it is not so with the bulk of the civilized
nations. With us, work is a habit, and idleness an artificial
growth.'' Kropotkin, ``Anarchist Communism,'' p. 30.

The attitude of orthodox Socialism on this question
is quite different from that of Anarchism.[45]
Among the more immediate measures advocated in the
``Communist Manifesto'' is ``equal liability of all
to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially
for agriculture.'' The Socialist theory is that,
in general, work alone gives the right to the enjoyment
of the produce of work. To this theory there
will, of course, be exceptions: the old and the very
young, the infirm and those whose work is temporarily
not required through no fault of their own.
But the fundamental conception of Socialism, in regard
to our present question, is that all who can
should be compelled to work, either by the threat
of starvation or by the operation of the criminal
law. And, of course, the only kind of work recognized
will be such as commends itself to the authorities.
Writing books against Socialism, or against
any theory embodied in the government of the day,
would certainly not be recognized as work. No more
would the painting of pictures in a different style
from that of the Royal Academy, or producing plays
unpleasing to the censor. Any new line of thought
would be banned, unless by influence or corruption
the thinker could crawl into the good graces of the
pundits. These results are not foreseen by Socialists,
because they imagine that the Socialist State
will be governed by men like those who now advocate
it. This is, of course, a delusion. The rulers of the
State then will bear as little resemblance to the pres-
ent Socialists as the dignitaries of the Church after
the time of Constantine bore to the Apostles. The
men who advocate an unpopular reform are exceptional
in disinterestedness and zeal for the public
good; but those who hold power after the reform
has been carried out are likely to belong, in the main,
to the ambitious executive type which has in all ages
possessed itself of the government of nations. And
this type has never shown itself tolerant of opposition
or friendly to freedom.

[45] ``While holding this synthetic view on production, the
Anarchists cannot consider, like the Collectivists, that a
remuneration which would be proportionate to the hours of labor
spent by each person in the production of riches may be an
ideal, or even an approach to an ideal, society.'' Kropotkin,
``Anarchist Communism,'' p. 20.

It would seem, then, that if the Anarchist plan
has its dangers, the Socialist plan has at least equal
dangers. It is true that the evils we have been foreseeing
under Socialism exist at present, but the purpose
of Socialists is to cure the evils of the world
as it is; they cannot be content with the argument
that they would make things no worse.

Anarchism has the advantage as regards liberty,
Socialism as regards the inducements to work. Can
we not find a method of combining these two advantages?
It seems to me that we can.

We saw that, provided most people work in
moderation, and their work is rendered as productive
as science and organization can make it, there is no
good reason why the necessaries of life should not be
supplied freely to all. Our only serious doubt was
as to whether, in an Anarchist regime, the motives for
work would be sufficiently powerful to prevent a dan-
gerously large amount of idleness. But it would be
easy to decree that, though necessaries should be free
to all, whatever went beyond necessaries should only
be given to those who were willing to work--not, as
is usual at present, only to those in work at any
moment, but also to all those who, when they happened
not to be working, were idle through no fault
of their own. We find at present that a man who
has a small income from investments, just sufficient
to keep him from actual want, almost always prefers
to find some paid work in order to be able to afford
luxuries. So it would be, presumably, in such a
community as we are imagining. At the same time, the
man who felt a vocation for some unrecognized work
of art or science or thought would be free to follow his
desire, provided he were willing to ``scorn delights
and live laborious days.'' And the comparatively
small number of men with an invincible horror of
work--the sort of men who now become tramps--
might lead a harmless existence, without any grave
danger of their becoming sufficiently numerous to be
a serious burden upon the more industrious. In this
ways the claims of freedom could be combined with
the need of some economic stimulus to work. Such
a system, it seems to me, would have a far greater
chance of success than either pure Anarchism or pure
orthodox Socialism.

Stated in more familiar terms, the plan we are
advocating amounts essentially to this: that a certain
small income, sufficient for necessaries, should be
secured to all, whether they work or not, and that a
larger income, as much larger as might be warranted
by the total amount of commodities produced, should
be given to those who are willing to engage in some
work which the community recognizes as useful. On
this basis we may build further. I do not think it
is always necessary to pay more highly work which
is more skilled or regarded as socially more useful,
since such work is more interesting and more respected
than ordinary work, and will therefore often be
preferred by those who are able to do it. But we
might, for instance, give an intermediate income to
those who are only willing to work half the usual
number of hours, and an income above that of most
workers to those who choose a specially disagreeable
trade. Such a system is perfectly compatible with
Socialism, though perhaps hardly with Anarchism.
Of its advantages we shall have more to say at a
later stage. For the present I am content to urge
that it combines freedom with justice, and avoids
those dangers to the community which we have found
to lurk both in the proposals of the Anarchists and
in those of orthodox Socialists.



GOVERNMENT and Law, in their very essence, consist
of restrictions on freedom, and freedom is the
greatest of political goods.[46] A hasty reasoner might
conclude without further ado that Law and government
are evils which must be abolished if freedom
is our goal. But this consequence, true or false, cannot
be proved so simply. In this chapter we shall
examine the arguments of Anarchists against law and
the State. We shall proceed on the assumption that
freedom is the supreme aim of a good social system;
but on this very basis we shall find the Anarchist
contentions very questionable.

[46] I do not say freedom is the greatest of ALL goods: the best
things come from within--they are such things as creative art,
and love, and thought. Such things can be helped or hindered
by political conditions, but not actually produced by them; and
freedom is, both in itself and in its relation to these other goods
the best thing that political and economic conditions can secure.

Respect for the liberty of others is not a natural
impulse with most men: envy and love of power lead
ordinary human nature to find pleasure in interferences
with the lives of others. If all men's actions
were wholly unchecked by external authority, we
should not obtain a world in which all men would be
free. The strong would oppress the weak, or the
majority would oppress the minority, or the lovers
of violence would oppress the more peaceable people.
I fear it cannot be said that these bad impulses are
WHOLLY due to a bad social system, though it must
be conceded that the present competitive organization
of society does a great deal to foster the worst
elements in human nature. The love of power is an
impulse which, though innate in very ambitious men,
is chiefly promoted as a rule by the actual experience
of power. In a world where none could acquire
much power, the desire to tyrannize would be much
less strong than it is at present. Nevertheless, I
cannot think that it would be wholly absent, and
those in whom it would exist would often be men of
unusual energy and executive capacity. Such men,
if they are not restrained by the organized will of
the community, may either succeed in establishing
a despotism, or, at any rate, make such a vigorous
attempt as can only be defeated through a period
of prolonged disturbance. And apart from the love
or political power, there is the love of power over
individuals. If threats and terrorism were not prevented
by law, it can hardly be doubted that cruelty would
be rife in the relations of men and women, and of
parents and children. It is true that the habits of
a community can make such cruelty rare, but these
habits, I fear, are only to be produced through the
prolonged reign of law. Experience of backwoods
communities, mining camps and other such places
seems to show that under new conditions men easily
revert to a more barbarous attitude and practice.
It would seem, therefore, that, while human nature
remains as it is, there will be more liberty for all in a
community where some acts of tyranny by individuals
are forbidden, than in a community where the law
leaves each individual free to follow his every impulse.
But, although the necessity of some form of government
and law must for the present be conceded, it is
important to remember that all law and government
is in itself in some degree an evil, only justifiable when
it prevents other and greater evils. Every use of the
power of the State needs, therefore, to be very closely
scrutinized, and every possibility of diminishing its
power is to be welcomed provided it does not lead to
a reign of private tyranny.

The power of the State is partly legal, partly
economic: acts of a kind which the State dislikes can
be punished by the criminal law, and individuals who
incur the displeasure of the State may find it hard
to earn a livelihood.

The views of Marx on the State are not very
clear. On the one hand he seems willing,, like the
modern State Socialists, to allow great power to the
State, but on the other hand he suggests that when
the Socialist revolution has been consummated, the
State, as we know it, will disappear. Among the
measures which are advocated in the Communist
Manifesto as immediately desirable, there are several
which would very greatly increase the power of
the existing State. For example, ``Centralization
of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a
national bank with State capital and an exclusive
monopoly;'' and again, ``Centralization of the
means of communication and transport in the hands
of the State.'' But the Manifesto goes on to say:

When, in the course of development, class distinctions
have disappeared, and all production has been concentrated
in the hands of a vast association of the whole
nation, the public power will lose its political character.
Political power, properly so called, is merely the organised
power of one class for oppressing another. If the
proletariat during its contest with the bourgeoisie is
compelled, by the force of circumstances, to organize
itself as a class, if, by means of a revolution, it makes
itself the ruling class, and, as such, sweeps away by
force the old conditions of production, then it will,
along with these conditions, have swept away the conditions
for the existence of class antagonisms, and of
classes generally, and will thereby have abolished its
own supremacy as a class.

In place of the old bourgeois society, with its classes
and class antagonisms, we shall have an association, in
which; the free development of each is the condition for
the free development of all.[47]

[47] Communist Manifesto, p. 22.

This attitude Marx preserved in essentials
throughout his life. Accordingly, it is not to be
wondered at that his followers, so far as regards their
immediate aims, have in the main become out-and-out
State Socialists. On the other hand, the Syndicalists,
who accept from Marx the doctrine of the class
war, which they regard as what is really vital in his
teaching, reject the State with abhorrence and wish
to abolish it wholly, in which respect they are at one
with the Anarchists. The Guild Socialists, though
some persons in this country regard them as extremists,
really represent the English love of compromise.
The Syndicalist arguments as to the dangers inherent
in the power of the State have made them dissatisfied
with the old State Socialism, but they are
unable to accept the Anarchist view that society can
dispense altogether with a central authority.
Accordingly they propose that there should be two
co-equal instruments of Government in a community,
the one geographical, representing the consumers,
and essentially the continuation of the democratic
State; the other representing the producers, organized,
not geographically, but in guilds, after the
manner of industrial unionism. These two author-
ities will deal with different classes of questions.
Guild Socialists do not regard the industrial authority
as forming part of the State, for they contend
that it is the essence of the State to be geographical;
but the industrial authority will resemble the present
State in the fact that it will have coercive powers,
and that its decrees will be enforced, when necessary.
It is to be suspected that Syndicalists also, much as
they object to the existing State, would not object
to coercion of individuals in an industry by the
Trade Union in that industry. Government within
the Trade Union would probably be quite as strict
as State government is now. In saying this we are
assuming that the theoretical Anarchism of Syndicalist
leaders would not survive accession to power,
but I am afraid experience shows that this is not a
very hazardous assumption.

Among all these different views, the one which
raises the deepest issue is the Anarchist contention
that all coercion by the community is unnecessary.
Like most of the things that Anarchists say, there
is much more to be urged in support of this view
than most people would suppose at first sight. Kropotkin,
who is its ablest exponent, points out how
much has been achieved already by the method of free
agreement. He does not wish to abolish government
in the sense of collective decisions: what he does wish
to abolish is the system by which a decision is en-
forced upon those who oppose it.[48] The whole system
of representative government and majority rule is
to him a bad thing.[49] He points to such instances
as the agreements among the different railway systems
of the Continent for the running of through
expresses and for co-operation generally. He points
out that in such cases the different companies or
authorities concerned each appoint a delegate, and that
the delegates suggest a basis of agreement, which has
to be subsequently ratified by each of the bodies ap-
pointing them. The assembly of delegates has no
coercive power whatever, and a majority can do
nothing against a recalcitrant minority. Yet this has
not prevented the conclusion of very elaborate systems
of agreements. By such methods, so Anarchists
contend, the USEFUL functions of government can be
carried out without any coercion. They maintain
that the usefulness of agreement is so patent as to
make co-operation certain if once the predatory
motives associated with the present system of private
property were removed.

[48] ``On the other hand, the STATE has also been confused with
GOVERNMENT. As there can be no State without government, it
has been sometimes said that it is the absence of government,
and not the abolition of the State, that should be the aim.

``It seems to me, however, that State and government represent
two ideas of a different kind. The State idea implies quite
another idea to that of government. It not only includes the
existence of a power placed above society, but also a territorial
concentration and a concentration of many functions of the life
of society in the hands of a few or even of all. It implies new
relations among the members of society.

``This characteristic distinction, which perhaps escapes
notice at first sight, appears clearly when the origin of the State
is studied.'' Kropotkin, ``The State.'' p. 4.

[49] Representative government has accomplished its historical
mission; it has given a mortal blow to Court-rule; and by
its debates it has awakened public interest in public questions.
But, to see in it the government of the future Socialist society,
is to commit a gross error. Each economical phase of life
implies its own political phase; and it is impossible to touch the
very basis of the present economical life--private property--
without a corresponding change in the very basis of the political


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