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exaggerated form, as represented in anti-liberal socialism or communism, shall be next considered, to show how in one-sidedness and absurdity these systems often surpass the wrong economic conclusions of pure liberalism.
Communism, or Systems founded on Equality pure and simple.
History of the Movement in Ancient and Modern Times.-
of its Value as a Universal System. The liberal tendencies of the age have been described in the last chapter. We have now to deal with the principle of equality, to which men's attention has been drawn still more recently. The masses, unsatisfied with the results of liberalism, are now being attracted towards the other pole of the same tendency, equality; and a strong popular current has set in in favour of that system which represents the idea, namely, communism. Among thinking men, those who favour the system are either ideal philosophers or goodnatured theologians, viz., Plato and Sir Thomas More. Such men, having little to lose themselves, in their cold-blooded calculations readily embrace, with unqualified approbation, the ideas of equality and fraternity. There are others who do so, prompted simply by a humane spirit, quite apart from religious feeling; among modern communists belonging to this class, the most distinguished was Robert Owen. Sometimes too the communistic movement is directed by the baser motives of political charlatans, who use it as a foil for their own purposes.
Those noble proletarians who followed Catiline, and the factious leaders of the ultra-democracy during the first French revolution, were actuated by
WHAT PRODUCES COMMUNISM.'
anything but the highest and most disinterested of motives. And so too, more recently, the representatives of the “social movement” may not always be influenced by the purest motives.
Now what are the requisites to call into existence social or communistic movements ? There are three, according to Roscher: (1) a sharp contrast between rich and poor, following upon a destruction of the middle class; (2) recognition of the masses in the democratic constitution of the country ; (3) raising expectations in the minds of people, and gaining over the masses by cunningly devised flattery. These conditions were actually fulfilled in Greece and Rome, both of which in their latter stage were convulsed by socialism; among some of the Anabaptists at the time of the Reformation ; and in still more recent times in France, where communism has reached its highest development. But it must be added that, though similar conditions led to similar results in the above-mentioned cases, still at the present moment forces are at work and conditions prevail among ourselves, which are still more favourable to the spread of communistic ideas than in any former period of history. Formerly there may have been ample incentives to rouse the poor into a social war against the wealthier classes; but the great contrast between wages and capital profit was not then, as now, the bone of contention between rich and poor. Such war-cries as we find Lassalle raising against capital would not have been even understood among the ancients and the oppressed classes in the dark ages. .
The promises held out by agitators to the masses now are : equal rights for all ; no monopolies; liberty and equality for the people. Liberalism itself has paved the way to communism. The right of coalition among labourers for their own interests, liberty of the press, the extension of the suffrage, together with the facility of rapid and cheap. intercommunication by post and telegraph, afford labourers the means for united action where their interests are at stake. The working-man of our day has a.consciousness of his own power, quite unparalleled by any of his compeers in former ages. Still, up to the present moment no country has made the attempt as yet to establish communism practically as the fundamental principle of the state, except perhaps during the short-lived reign of the commune of Paris.
We shall endeavour to give a short historical view of the development of communism, chiefly drawn from Marlo, who appears to do full justice to the various phases of communistic literature, describing them without prejudice and with no pronounced leaning either one way or the other. There is not a trace of an old communistic school, similar to the old liberal school of the mercantilists, although actually communism is one of the more primitive states of society. Still the romantic ideal of pure communism is a very different thing from the communism of those remote ages where the priest or patriarch still maintained their undisputed authority. We cannot give a detailed view of the several older Utopias,ấof Sir Thomas More, 1516; the Dominican Campanella (1620), D. Vairasse (1677), and Fichte. Their united aim was simply this—to obtain equality of labour and enjoyment for all. In opposition to liberalism, these communistic ideals, unpractical as they are in many respects, seek to secure the equal and inalienable right of all to share in the use and enjoyment of a certain proportion of natural resources. To make certain of equal material existence they are ready to sacrifice individual liberty.
BABEUF'S SOCIETY OF EQUALS.
In our consideration of the proposals of more modern utopias, we meet with three typical representatives who have left an indelible impress upon all communistic movements and parties of more recent times, i.e. Babauf, Robert Owen, and Cabet. The first of these, a man of dauntless courage and heroic firmness, endeavoured to introduce a communistic order of society towards the close of the first French revolution. He founded a communistic union, called the “ Society of Equals,” and exercised a powerful influence over the masses by his able organ, The Tribune of the People. The society was suppressed by the Directory, and thus became a secret conspiracy; and Babouf himself suffered death for his zeal in the cause he advocated, his last words on the place of execution being, “I wrap myself into a virtuous slumber.”
According to a series of decrees prepared by him, communism was to be introduced by gradual stages. The property of corporate bodies and public institutions was to be turned into public property first, and the property of living individuals was to follow in the same way upon their demise. The national property so formed was to be held in common. All citizens were to work for society in proportion to their capacity. For this purpose the members of every commune are divided into classes, according to the chief branches of production. Every class has its own selfchosen superintendent; every commune has its council, consisting of delegates chosen by the classes. This council assigns the functions of every member in the commune, and carries out the orders of the central authority. The land is divided into circuits and provinces, with their respective governments. The chief direction of production of commodities, as well as their distribution, and the