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Studies in Communism

Representation And The State

Side by side with this would be the further fact—awaiting social recognition—of the powerlessness of the State to do the one thing which would abolish, or at least check, all revolutionary endeavour — to abolish pauperism. Its only power, so far as it could concern itself with pauperism, would be seen to consist in police regulations, charity, etc. To abolish poverty it would have to abolish those conditions responsible for its own existence, and hence to abolish itself. As the abolition of ancient slavery involved the abolition of the Ancient State, so the abolition of modern capitalist slavery would involve the abolition of the bourgeois Representative State. As soon as it evolved to being the representative of the whole of society in a complete society, the judicial and legislative functions of the State would become superfluous, with the result that the State, as class society has historically known it, would become superfluous. Equally superfluous would become the anti-statism or voluntaristic production which partakes of the same representative character as the State, and is equally corrupt under class society. Growing out of the industrial conditions which necessitated the negation of private ownership, would be social ownership based on social production and distribution. Individually this would mean social freedom, whilst socially it would embody all the efficiency that a historically evolved administrative function, having its basis deep down in society's foundations, could alone carry with it. This, however, the opponents of Socialism tell us, would involve tyranny and expertism. Let us see.

Its erection being on a ruins of society where production had been for profit and not for use, wherein the coercion of man had been at a premium against which the growing social consciousness had revolted, this would hardly appear to be the case. The failure of legislative and judicial activity being amongst its progenitors, Socialism could hardly perpetuate that coercion which its very coming into existence must necessarily negate. But now we have to consider the basis of expertism under capitalism in order to show it to be impossible under Socialism. Our preliminary shall be a statement of the attitude of the newly found individualist opponents of Socialism, who tell us that every State is a despotism, because, whether the despot be one or many, whether the State he monarchial or republican, solely from the principle that all right or authority belong to the collectivity of the people—and the collectivity represents the status quo, whether autocratic or democratic—its existence as a State implies the oppression of the individual, against whose interests the State arraigns itself. Agreeing that the historic role of the State has been that of a despotism, and that violence against State authority is no more criminal than legal violence against the individual, the proletarian must needs seek an explanation for the being of State authority. "How is it that, whether by apathy or indifference, the collective will of the people supports the State against the individual well-being of the majority of the people?


Why does the property owner pay taxes and duties to the State, and the oppressed worker seek its benediction?" asks this economical enquirer. "Education by the State," is the voluntarist reply. "But," pursues the investigator, "the State is but an anonymous reflex of the collective will of the people. If, therefore, the State create that will, it must be at least co-existent with it, if not, as the creative agency, prior to it. But it cannot be created by a will it creates, nor can it be a reflex of the collective will. If it is only a reflex of the collective will, how is that will formed? If the collective will is the outcome of statism, we must seek elsewhere for the latter's origin." Let us investigate.

Accepting the principles of the materialistic conception of history, we learn that, if the engineer is paid twenty times more than the navvy, it is because the cost necessary to produce an engineer is more considerable than that necessary to produce a navvy by nineteen times the cost of the latter's production. Now, it having cost society twenty times as much to produce the engineer than it did to produce the navvy, the engineer is twenty times more indebted to society than the navvy. Instead, therefore, of taxing society for greater privileges he should return more to society. As he does not, under the system under which the engineer flourishes because of advantages of education, the navvy is dispossessed of his rights; and therefore the capitalist system—which is at once society and the wage system—has established the technical education of the navvy's children in order to protect itself against the expertism of the engineer. In working its own undoing, once more, in a vain attempt to secure temporary relief, capitalist society is abolishing the expert in the interests of social progress. In the face of these facts to pretend that the expert will become a parasite and tyrant under Socialism is absurd. With his numbers growing his occupation is going, because—as an intellectual—he is rapidly becoming the rule and not the exception.

It may, however, be contended that, under capitalist society, if is the extent of monopoly in education and in industry, and not their various costs of production, which has enabled the engineer, the scientist, and the doctor, to draw from society ten or a hundred times more than the labourer, and the weaver to earn three times as much as the toiler in the fields, and ten times as much as the match-girl. Were this correct, it might, of course, justify the inference that under Socialism, the representatives of administration would so control industry and education as to become the monopolisers of its advantage, and hence impose upon the people a bureaucratic expertism. In order to expose the fallacious nature of this contention, it is only necessary to enquire more fully into what is the industrial basis of that monopoly which enables the engineer, the scientist, and the doctor to simply draw their profits from their own sort of capital—their degrees and their certificates—just as



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