Mutual Aid
by P. Kropotkin
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As to the Continent, we find the communal institutions fully alive in many parts of France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Scandinavian lands, and Spain, to say nothing of Eastern Europe; the village life in these countries is permeated with communal habits and customs; and almost every year the Continental literature is enriched by serious works dealing with this and connected subjects. I must, therefore, limit my illustrations to the most typical instances. Switzerland is undoubtedly one of them. Not only the five republics of Uri, Schwytz, Appenzell, Glarus, and Unterwalden hold their lands as undivided estates, and are governed by their popular folkmotes, but in all other cantons too the village communities remain in possession of a wide self-government, and own large parts of the Federal territory.(19) Two-thirds of all the Alpine meadows and two-thirds of all the forests of Switzerland are until now communal land; and a considerable number of fields, orchards, vineyards, peat bogs, quarries, and so on, are owned in common. In the Vaud, where all the householders continue to take part in the deliberations of their elected communal councils, the communal spirit is especially alive. Towards the end of the winter all the young men of each village go to stay a few days in the woods, to fell timber and to bring it down the steep slopes tobogganing way, the timber and the fuel wood being divided among all households or sold for their benefit. These excursions are real fetes of manly labour. On the banks of Lake Leman part of the work required to keep up the terraces of the vineyards is still done in common; and in the spring, when the thermometer threatens to fall below zero before sunrise, the watchman wakes up all householders, who light fires of straw and dung and protect their vine-trees from the frost by an artificial cloud. In nearly all cantons the village communities possess so-called. Burgernutzen—that is, they hold in common a number of cows, in order to supply each family with butter; or they keep communal fields or vineyards, of which the produce is divided between the burghers, or they rent their land for the benefit of the community.(20)

It may be taken as a rule that where the communes have retained a wide sphere of functions, so as to be living parts of the national organism, and where they have not been reduced to sheer misery, they never fail to take good care of their lands. Accordingly the communal estates in Switzerland strikingly contrast with the miserable state of "commons" in this country. The communal forests in the Vaud and the Valais are admirably managed, in conformity with the rules of modern forestry. Elsewhere the "strips" of communal fields, which change owners under the system of re-allotment, are very well manured, especially as there is no lack of meadows and cattle. The high level meadows are well kept as a rule, and the rural roads are excellent.(21) And when we admire the Swiss chalet, the mountain road, the peasants' cattle, the terraces of vineyards, or the school-house in Switzer land, we must keep in mind that without the timber for the chalet being taken from the communal woods and the stone from the communal quarries, without the cows being kept on the communal meadows, and the roads being made and the school-houses built by communal work, there would be little to admire.

It hardly need be said that a great number of mutual-aid habits and customs continue to persist in the Swiss villages. The evening gatherings for shelling walnuts, which take place in turns in each household; the evening parties for sewing the dowry of the girl who is going to marry; the calling of "aids" for building the houses and taking in the crops, as well as for all sorts of work which may be required by one of the commoners; the custom of exchanging children from one canton to the other, in order to make them learn two languages, French and German; and so on—all these are quite habitual;(22) while, on the other side, divers modern requirements are met in the same spirit. Thus in Glarus most of the Alpine meadows have been sold during a time of calamity; but the communes still continue to buy field land, and after the newly-bought fields have been left in the possession of separate commoners for ten, twenty, or thirty years, as the case might be, they return to the common stock, which is re-allotted according to the needs of all. A great number of small associations are formed to produce some of the necessaries for life—bread, cheese, and wine—by common work, be it only on a limited scale; and agricultural co-operation altogether spreads in Switzerland with the greatest ease. Associations formed between ten to thirty peasants, who buy meadows and fields in common, and cultivate them as co-owners, are of common occurrence; while dairy associations for the sale of milk, butter, and cheese are organized everywhere. In fact, Switzerland was the birthplace of that form of co-operation. It offers, moreover, an immense field for the study of all sorts of small and large societies, formed for the satisfaction of all sorts of modern wants. In certain parts of Switzerland one finds in almost every village a number of associations—for protection from fire, for boating, for maintaining the quays on the shores of a lake, for the supply of water, and so on; and the country is covered with societies of archers, sharpshooters, topographers, footpath explorers, and the like, originated from modern militarism.

Switzerland is, however, by no means an exception in Europe, because the same institutions and habits are found in the villages of France, of Italy, of Germany, of Denmark, and so on. We have just seen what has been done by the rulers of France in order to destroy the village community and to get hold of its lands; but notwithstanding all that one-tenth part of the whole territory available for culture, i.e. 13,500,000 acres, including one-half of all the natural meadows and nearly a fifth part of all the forests of the country, remain in communal possession. The woods supply the communers with fuel, and the timber wood is cut, mostly by communal work, with all desirable regularity; the grazing lands are free for the commoners' cattle; and what remains of communal fields is allotted and re-allotted in certain parts Ardennes—in the usual of France—namely, in the way.(23)

These additional sources of supply, which aid the poorer peasants to pass through a year of bad crops without parting with their small plots of land and without running into irredeemable debts, have certainly their importance for both the agricultural labourers and the nearly three millions of small peasant proprietors. It is even doubtful whether small peasant proprietorship could be maintained without these additional resources. But the ethical importance of the communal possessions, small as they are, is still greater than their economical value. They maintain in village life a nucleus of customs and habits of mutual aid which undoubtedly acts as a mighty check upon the development of reckless individualism and greediness, which small land-ownership is only too prone to develop. Mutual aid in all possible circumstances of village life is part of the routine life in all parts of the country. Everywhere we meet, under different names, with the charroi, i.e. the free aid of the neighbours for taking in a crop, for vintage, or for building a house; everywhere we find the same evening gatherings as have just been mentioned in Switzerland; and everywhere the commoners associate for all sorts of work. Such habits are mentioned by nearly all those who have written upon French village life. But it will perhaps be better to give in this place some abstracts from letters which I have just received from a friend of mine whom I have asked to communicate to me his observations on this subject. They come from an aged man who for years has been the mayor of his commune in South France (in Ariege); the facts he mentions are known to him from long years of personal observation, and they have the advantage of coming from one neighbourhood instead of being skimmed from a large area. Some of them may seem trifling, but as a whole they depict quite a little world of village life.

"In several communes in our neighbourhood," my friend writes, "the old custom of l'emprount is in vigour. When many hands are required in a metairie for rapidly making some work—dig out potatoes or mow the grass—the youth of the neighbourhood is convoked; young men and girls come in numbers, make it gaily and for nothing. and in the evening, after a gay meal, they dance.

"In the same communes, when a girl is going to marry, the girls of the neighbourhood come to aid in sewing the dowry. In several communes the women still continue to spin a good deal. When the winding off has to be done in a family it is done in one evening—all friends being convoked for that work. In many communes of the Ariege and other parts of the south-west the shelling of the Indian corn-sheaves is also done by all the neighbours. They are treated with chestnuts and wine, and the young people dance after the work has been done. The same custom is practised for making nut oil and crushing hemp. In the commune of L. the same is done for bringing in the corn crops. These days of hard work become fete days, as the owner stakes his honour on serving a good meal. No remuneration is given; all do it for each other.(24)

"In the commune of S. the common grazing-land is every year increased, so that nearly the whole of the land of the commune is now kept in common. The shepherds are elected by all owners of the cattle, including women. The bulls are communal.

"In the commune of M. the forty to fifty small sheep flocks of the commoners are brought together and divided into three or four flocks before being sent to the higher meadows. Each owner goes for a week to serve as shepherd.

"In the hamlet of C. a threshing machine has been bought in common by several households; the fifteen to twenty persons required to serve the machine being supplied by all the families. Three other threshing machines have been bought and are rented out by their owners, but the work is performed by outside helpers, invited in the usual way.

"In our commune of R. we had to raise the wall of the cemetery. Half of the money which was required for buying lime and for the wages of the skilled workers was supplied by the county council, and the other half by subscription. As to the work of carrying sand and water, making mortar, and serving the masons, it was done entirely by volunteers [just as in the Kabyle djemmaa]. The rural roads were repaired in the same way, by volunteer days of work given by the commoners. Other communes have built in the same way their fountains. The wine-press and other smaller appliances are frequently kept by the commune."

Two residents of the same neighbourhood, questioned by my friend, add the following:—

"At O. a few years ago there was no mill. The commune has built one, levying a tax upon the commoners. As to the miller, they decided, in order to avoid frauds and partiality, that he should be paid two francs for each bread-eater, and the corn be ground free.

"At St. G. few peasants are insured against fire. When a conflagration has taken place—so it was lately—all give something to the family which has suffered from it—a chaldron, a bed-cloth, a chair, and so on—and a modest household is thus reconstituted. All the neighbours aid to build the house, and in the meantime the family is lodged free by the neighbours."

Such habits of mutual support—of which many more examples could be given—undoubtedly account for the easiness with which the French peasants associate for using, in turn, the plough with its team of horses, the wine-press, and the threshing machine, when they are kept in the village by one of them only, as well as for the performance of all sorts of rural work in common. Canals were maintained, forests were cleared, trees were planted, and marshes were drained by the village communities from time immemorial; and the same continues still. Quite lately, in La Borne of Lozere barren hills were turned into rich gardens by communal work. "The soil was brought on men's backs; terraces were made and planted with chestnut trees, peach trees, and orchards, and water was brought for irrigation in canals two or three miles long." Just now they have dug a new canal, eleven miles in length.(25)

To the same spirit is also due the remarkable success lately obtained by the syndicats agricoles, or peasants' and farmers' associations. It was not until 1884 that associations of more than nineteen persons were permitted in France, and I need not say that when this "dangerous experiment" was ventured upon—so it was styled in the Chambers—all due "precautions" which functionaries can invent were taken. Notwithstanding all that, France begins to be covered with syndicates. At the outset they were only formed for buying manures and seeds, falsification having attained colossal proportions in these two branches;(26) but gradually they extended their functions in various directions, including the sale of agricultural produce and permanent improvements of the land. In South France the ravages of the phylloxera have called into existence a great number of wine-growers' associations. Ten to thirty growers form a syndicate, buy a steam-engine for pumping water, and make the necessary arrangements for inundating their vineyards in turn.(27) New associations for protecting the land from inundations, for irrigation purposes, and for maintaining canals are continually formed, and the unanimity of all peasants of a neighbourhood, which is required by law, is no obstacle. Elsewhere we have the fruitieres, or dairy associations, in some of which all butter and cheese is divided in equal parts, irrespective of the yield of each cow. In the Ariege we find an association of eight separate communes for the common culture of their lands, which they have put together; syndicates for free medical aid have been formed in 172 communes out of 337 in the same department; associations of consumers arise in connection with the syndicates; and so on.(28) "Quite a revolution is going on in our villages," Alfred Baudrillart writes, "through these associations, which take in each region their own special characters."

Very much the same must be said of Germany. Wherever the peasants could resist the plunder of their lands, they have retained them in communal ownership, which largely prevails in Wurttemberg, Baden, Hohenzollern, and in the Hessian province of Starkenberg.(29) The communal forests are kept, as a rule, in an excellent state, and in thousands of communes timber and fuel wood are divided every year among all inhabitants; even the old custom of the Lesholztag is widely spread: at the ringing of the village bell all go to the forest to take as much fuel wood as they can carry.(30) In Westphalia one finds communes in which all the land is cultivated as one common estate, in accordance with all requirements of modern agronomy. As to the old communal customs and habits, they are in vigour in most parts of Germany. The calling in of aids, which are real fetes of labour, is known to be quite habitual in Westphalia, Hesse, and Nassau. In well-timbered regions the timber for a new house is usually taken from the communal forest, and all the neighbours join in building the house. Even in the suburbs of Frankfort it is a regular custom among the gardeners that in case of one of them being ill all come on Sunday to cultivate his garden.(31)

In Germany, as in France, as soon as the rulers of the people repealed their laws against the peasant associations—that was only in 1884-1888—these unions began to develop with a wonderful rapidity, notwithstanding all legal obstacles which were put in their way(32) "It is a fact," Buchenberger says, "that in thousands of village communities, in which no sort of chemical manure or rational fodder was ever known, both have become of everyday use, to a quite unforeseen extent, owing to these associations" (vol. ii. p. 507). All sorts of labour-saving implements and agricultural machinery, and better breeds of cattle, are bought through the associations, and various arrangements for improving the quality of the produce begin to be introduced. Unions for the sale of agricultural produce are also formed, as well as for permanent improvements of the land.(33)

From the point of view of social economics all these efforts of the peasants certainly are of little importance. They cannot substantially, and still less permanently, alleviate the misery to which the tillers of the soil are doomed all over Europe. But from the ethical point of view, which we are now considering, their importance cannot be overrated. They prove that even under the system of reckless individualism which now prevails the agricultural masses piously maintain their mutual-support inheritance; and as soon as the States relax the iron laws by means of which they have broken all bonds between men, these bonds are at once reconstituted, notwithstanding the difficulties, political, economical, and social, which are many, and in such forms as best answer to the modern requirements of production. They indicate in which direction and in which form further progress must be expected.

I might easily multiply such illustrations, taking them from Italy, Spain, Denmark, and so on, and pointing out some interesting features which are proper to each of these countries. The Slavonian populations of Austria and the Balkan peninsula, among whom the "compound family," or "undivided household," is found in existence, ought also to be mentioned.(34) But I hasten to pass on to Russia, where the same mutual-support tendency takes certain new and unforeseen forms. Moreover, in dealing with the village community in Russia we have the advantage: of possessing an immense mass of materials, collected during the colossal house-to-house inquest which was lately made by several zemstvos (county councils), and which embraces a population of nearly 20,000,000 peasants in different parts of the country.(35)

Two important conclusions may be drawn from the bulk of evidence collected by the Russian inquests. In Middle Russia, where fully one-third of the peasants have been brought to utter ruin (by heavy taxation, small allotments of unproductive land, rack rents, and very severe tax-collecting after total failures of crops), there was, during the first five-and-twenty years after the emancipation of the serfs, a decided tendency towards the constitution of individual property in land within the village communities. Many impoverished "horseless" peasants abandoned their allotments, and this land often became the property of those richer peasants, who borrow additional incomes from trade, or of outside traders, who buy land chiefly for exacting rack rents from the peasants. It must also be added that a flaw in the land redemption law of 1861 offered great facilities for buying peasants' lands at a very small expense,(36) and that the State officials mostly used their weighty influence in favour of individual as against communal ownership. However, for the last twenty years a strong wind of opposition to the individual appropriation of the land blows again through the Middle Russian villages, and strenuous efforts are being made by the bulk of those peasants who stand between the rich and the very poor to uphold the village community. As to the fertile steppes of the South, which are now the most populous and the richest part of European Russia, they were mostly colonized, during the present century, under the system of individual ownership or occupation, sanctioned in that form by the State. But since improved methods of agriculture with the aid of machinery have been introduced in the region, the peasant owners have gradually begun themselves to transform their individual ownership into communal possession, and one finds now, in that granary of Russia, a very great number of spontaneously formed village communities of recent origin.(37)

The Crimea and the part of the mainland which lies to the north of it (the province of Taurida), for which we have detailed data, offer an excellent illustration of that movement. This territory began to be colonized, after its annexation in 1783, by Great, Little, and White Russians—Cossacks, freemen, and runaway serfs—who came individually or in small groups from all corners of Russia. They took first to cattle-breeding, and when they began later on to till the soil, each one tilled as much as he could afford to. But when—immigration continuing, and perfected ploughs being introduced—land stood in great demand, bitter disputes arose among the settlers. They lasted for years, until these men, previously tied by no mutual bonds, gradually came to the idea that an end must be put to disputes by introducing village-community ownership. They passed decisions to the effect that the land which they owned individually should henceforward be their common property, and they began to allot and to re-allot it in accordance with the usual village-community rules. The movement gradually took a great extension, and on a small territory, the Taurida statisticians found 161 villages in which communal ownership had been introduced by the peasant proprietors themselves, chiefly in the years 1855-1885, in lieu of individual ownership. Quite a variety of village-community types has been freely worked out in this way by the settlers.(38) What adds to the interest of this transformation is that it took place, not only among the Great Russians, who are used to village-community life, but also among Little Russians, who have long since forgotten it under Polish rule, among Greeks and Bulgarians, and even among Germans, who have long since worked out in their prosperous and half-industrial Volga colonies their own type of village community.(39) It is evident that the Mussulman Tartars of Taurida hold their land under the Mussulman customary law, which is limited personal occupation; but even with them the European village community has been introduced in a few cases. As to other nationalities in Taurida, individual ownership has been abolished in six Esthonian, two Greek, two Bulgarian, one Czech, and one German village. This movement is characteristic for the whole of the fertile steppe region of the south. But separate instances of it are also found in Little Russia. Thus in a number of villages of the province of Chernigov the peasants were formerly individual owners of their plots; they had separate legal documents for their plots and used to rent and to sell their land at will. But in the fifties of the nineteenth century a movement began among them in favour of communal possession, the chief argument being the growing number of pauper families. The initiative of the reform was taken in one village, and the others followed suit, the last case on record dating from 1882. Of course there were struggles between the poor, who usually claim for communal possession, and the rich, who usually prefer individual ownership; and the struggles often lasted for years. In certain places the unanimity required then by the law being impossible to obtain, the village divided into two villages, one under individual ownership and the other under communal possession; and so they remained until the two coalesced into one community, or else they remained divided still As to Middle Russia, its a fact that in many villages which were drifting towards individual ownership there began since 1880 a mass movement in favour of re-establishing the village community. Even peasant proprietors who had lived for years under the individualist system returned en masse to the communal institutions. Thus, there is a considerable number of ex-serfs who have received one-fourth part only of the regulation allotments, but they have received them free of redemption and in individual ownership. There was in 1890 a wide-spread movement among them (in Kursk, Ryazan, Tambov, Orel, etc.) towards putting their allotments together and introducing the village community. The "free agriculturists" (volnyie khlebopashtsy), who were liberated from serfdom under the law of 1803, and had bought their allotments—each family separately—are now nearly all under the village-community system, which they have introduced themselves. All these movements are of recent origin, and non-Russians too join them. Thus the Bulgares in the district of Tiraspol, after having remained for sixty years under the personal-property system, introduced the village community in the years 1876-1882. The German Mennonites of Berdyansk fought in 1890 for introducing the village community, and the small peasant proprietors (Kleinwirthschaftliche) among the German Baptists were agitating in their villages in the same direction. One instance more: In the province of Samara the Russian government created in the forties, by way of experiment, 1O3 villages on the system of individual ownership. Each household received a splendid property of 105 acres. In 1890, out of the 103 villages the peasants in 72 had already notified the desire of introducing the village community. I take all these facts from the excellent work of V.V., who simply gives, in a classified form, the facts recorded in the above-mentioned house-to-house inquest.

This movement in favour of communal possession runs badly against the current economical theories, according to which intensive culture is incompatible with the village community. But the most charitable thing that can be said of these theories is that they have never been submitted to the test of experiment: they belong to the domain of political metaphysics. The facts which we have before us show, on the contrary, that wherever the Russian peasants, owing to a concurrence of favourable circumstances, are less miserable than they are on the average, and wherever they find men of knowledge and initiative among their neighbours, the village community becomes the very means for introducing various improvements in agriculture and village life altogether. Here, as elsewhere, mutual aid is a better leader to progress than the war of each against all, as may be seen from the following facts.

Under Nicholas the First's rule many Crown officials and serf-owners used to compel the peasants to introduce the communal culture of small plots of the village lands, in order to refill the communal storehouses after loans of grain had been granted to the poorest commoners. Such cultures, connected in the peasants' minds with the worst reminiscences of serfdom, were abandoned as soon as serfdom was abolished but now the peasants begin to reintroduce them on their own account. In one district (Ostrogozhsk, in Kursk) the initiative of one person was sufficient to call them to life in four-fifths of all the villages. The same is met with in several other localities. On a given day the commoners come out, the richer ones with a plough or a cart and the poorer ones single-handed, and no attempt is made to discriminate one's share in the work. The crop is afterwards used for loans to the poorer commoners, mostly free grants, or for the orphans and widows, or for the village church, or for the school, or for repaying a communal debt.(40)

That all sorts of work which enters, so to say, in the routine of village life (repair of roads and bridges, dams, drainage, supply of water for irrigation, cutting of wood, planting of trees, etc.) are made by whole communes, and that land is rented and meadows are mown by whole communes—the work being accomplished by old and young, men and women, in the way described by Tolstoi—is only what one may expect from people living under the village-community system.(41) They are of everyday occurrence all over the country. But the village community is also by no means averse to modern agricultural improvements, when it can stand the expense, and when knowledge, hitherto kept for the rich only, finds its way into the peasant's house.

It has just been said that perfected ploughs rapidly spread in South Russia, and in many cases the village communities were instrumental in spreading their use. A plough was bought by the community, experimented upon on a portion of the communal land, and the necessary improvements were indicated to the makers, whom the communes often aided in starting the manufacture of cheap ploughs as a village industry. In the district of Moscow, where 1,560 ploughs were lately bought by the peasants during five years, the impulse came from those communes which rented lands as a body for the special purpose of improved culture.

In the north-east (Vyatka) small associations of peasants, who travel with their winnowing machines (manufactured as a village industry in one of the iron districts), have spread the use of such machines in the neighbouring governments. The very wide spread of threshing machines in Samara, Saratov, and Kherson is due to the peasant associations, which can afford to buy a costly engine, while the individual peasant cannot. And while we read in nearly all economical treatises that the village community was doomed to disappear when the three-fields system had to be substituted by the rotation of crops system, we see in Russia many village communities taking the initiative of introducing the rotation of crops. Before accepting it the peasants usually set apart a portion of the communal fields for an experiment in artificial meadows, and the commune buys the seeds.(42) If the experiment proves successful they find no difficulty whatever in re-dividing their fields, so as to suit the five or six fields system.

This system is now in use in hundreds of villages of Moscow, Tver, Smolensk, Vyatka, and Pskov.(43) And where land can be spared the communities give also a portion of their domain to allotments for fruit-growing. Finally, the sudden extension lately taken in Russia by the little model farms, orchards, kitchen gardens, and silkworm-culture grounds—which are started at the village school-houses, under the conduct of the school-master, or of a village volunteer—is also due to the support they found with the village communities.

Moreover, such permanent improvements as drainage and irrigation are of frequent occurrence. For instance, in three districts of the province of Moscow—industrial to a great extent—drainage works have been accomplished within the last ten years on a large scale in no less than 180 to 200 different villages—the commoners working themselves with the spade. At another extremity of Russia, in the dry Steppes of Novouzen, over a thousand dams for ponds were built and several hundreds of deep wells were sunk by the communes; while in a wealthy German colony of the south-east the commoners worked, men and women alike, for five weeks in succession, to erect a dam, two miles long, for irrigation purposes. What could isolated men do in that struggle against the dry climate? What could they obtain through individual effort when South Russia was struck with the marmot plague, and all people living on the land, rich and poor, commoners and individualists, had to work with their hands in order to conjure the plague? To call in the policeman would have been of no use; to associate was the only possible remedy.

And now, after having said so much about mutual aid and support which are practised by the tillers of the soil in "civilized" countries, I see that I might fill an octavo volume with illustrations taken from the life of the hundreds of millions of men who also live under the tutorship of more or less centralized States, but are out of touch with modern civilization and modern ideas. I might describe the inner life of a Turkish village and its network of admirable mutual-aid customs and habits. On turning over my leaflets covered with illustrations from peasant life in Caucasia, I come across touching facts of mutual support. I trace the same customs in the Arab djemmaa and the Afghan purra, in the villages of Persia, India, and Java, in the undivided family of the Chinese, in the encampments of the semi-nomads of Central Asia and the nomads of the far North. On consulting notes taken at random in the literature of Africa, I find them replete with similar facts—of aids convoked to take in the crops, of houses built by all inhabitants of the village— sometimes to repair the havoc done by civilized filibusters— of people aiding each other in case of accident, protecting the traveller, and so on. And when I peruse such works as Post's compendium of African customary law I understand why, notwithstanding all tyranny, oppression, robberies and raids, tribal wars, glutton kings, deceiving witches and priests, slave-hunters, and the like, these populations have not gone astray in the woods; why they have maintained a certain civilization, and have remained men, instead of dropping to the level of straggling families of decaying orang-outans. The fact is, that the slave-hunters, the ivory robbers, the fighting kings, the Matabele and the Madagascar "heroes" pass away, leaving their traces marked with blood and fire; but the nucleus of mutual-aid institutions, habits, and customs, grown up in the tribe and the village community, remains; and it keeps men united in societies, open to the progress of civilization, and ready to receive it when the day comes that they shall receive civilization instead of bullets.

The same applies to our civilized world. The natural and social calamities pass away. Whole populations are periodically reduced to misery or starvation; the very springs of life are crushed out of millions of men, reduced to city pauperism; the understanding and the feelings of the millions are vitiated by teachings worked out in the interest of the few. All this is certainly a part of our existence. But the nucleus of mutual-support institutions, habits, and customs remains alive with the millions; it keeps them together; and they prefer to cling to their customs, beliefs, and traditions rather than to accept the teachings of a war of each against all, which are offered to them under the title of science, but are no science at all.


1. A bulky literature, dealing with this formerly much neglected subject, is now growing in Germany. Keller's works, Ein Apostel der Wiedertaufer and Geschichte der Wiedertaufer, Cornelius's Geschichte des munsterischen Aufruhrs, and Janssen's Geschichte des deutschen Volkes may be named as the leading sources. The first attempt at familiarizing English readers with the results of the wide researches made in Germany in this direction has been made in an excellent little work by Richard Heath—"Anabaptism from its Rise at Zwickau to its Fall at Munster, 1521-1536," London, 1895 (Baptist Manuals, vol. i.)—where the leading features of the movement are well indicated, and full bibliographical information is given. Also K. Kautsky's Communism in Central Europe in the Time of the Reformation, London, 1897.

2. Few of our contemporaries realize both the extent of this movement and the means by which it was suppressed. But those who wrote immediately after the great peasant war estimated at from 100,000 to 150,000 men the number of peasants slaughtered after their defeat in Germany. See Zimmermann's Allgemeine Geschichte des grossen Bauernkrieges. For the measures taken to suppress the movement in the Netherlands see Richard Heath's Anabaptism.

3. "Chacun s'en est accommode selon sa bienseance... on les a partages.. pour depouiller les communes, on s'est servi de dettes simulees" (Edict of Louis the Fourteenth, of 1667, quoted by several authors. Eight years before that date the communes had been taken under State management).

4. "On a great landlord's estate, even if he has millions of revenue, you are sure to find the land uncultivated" (Arthur Young). "One-fourth part of the soil went out of culture;" "for the last hundred years the land has returned to a savage state;" "the formerly flourishing Sologne is now a big marsh;" and so on (Theron de Montauge, quoted by Taine in Origines de la France Contemporaine, tome i. p. 441).

5. A. Babeau, Le Village sous l'Ancien Regime, 3e edition. Paris, 1892.

6. In Eastern France the law only confirmed what the peasants had already done themselves. See my work, The Great French Revolution, chaps. xlvii and xlviii, London (Heinemann), 1909.

7. After the triumph of the middle-class reaction the communal lands were declared (August 24, 1794) the States domains, and, together with the lands confiscated from the nobility, were put up for sale, and pilfered by the bandes noires of the small bourgeoisie. True that a stop to this pilfering was put next year (law of 2 Prairial, An V), and the preceding law was abrogated; but then the village Communities were simply abolished, and cantonal councils were introduced instead. Only seven years later (9 Prairial, An XII), i.e. in 1801, the village communities were reintroduced, but not until after having been deprived of all their rights, the mayor and syndics being nominated by the Government in the 36,000 communes of France! This system was maintained till after the revolution of 1830, when elected communal councils were reintroduced under the law of 1787. As to the communal lands, they were again seized upon by the State in 1813, plundered as such, and only partly restored to the communes in 1816. See the classical collection of French laws, by Dalloz, Repertoire de Jurisprudence; also the works of Doniol, Dareste, Bonnemere, Babeau, and many others.

8. This procedure is so absurd that one would not believe it possible if the fifty-two different acts were not enumerated in full by a quite authoritative writer in the Journal des Economistes (1893, April, p. 94), and several similar examples were not given by the same author.

9. Dr. Ochenkowski, Englands wirthschaftliche Entwickelung im Ausgange des Mittelalters (Jena, 1879), pp. 35 seq., where the whole question is discussed with full knowledge of the texts.

10. Nasse, Ueber die mittelalterliche Feldgemeinschaft und die Einhegungen des XVI. Jahrhunderts in England (Bonn, 1869), pp. 4, 5; Vinogradov, Villainage in England (Oxford, 1892).

11. Fr. Seebohm, The English Village Community, 3rd ed., 1884, pp. 13-15.

12. "An examination into the details of an Enclosure Act will make clear the point that the system as above described [communal ownership] is the system which it was the object of the Enclosure Act to remove" (Seebohm, l.c. p. 13). And further on, "They were generally drawn in the same form, commencing with the recital that the open and common fields lie dispersed in small pieces, intermixed with each other and inconveniently situated; that divers persons own parts of them, and are entitled to rights of common on them... and that it is desired that they may be divided and enclosed, a specific share being let out and allowed to each owner" (p. 14). Porter's list contained 3867 such Acts, of which the greatest numbers fall upon the decades of 1770-1780 and 1800-1820, as in France.

13. In Switzerland we see a number of communes, ruined by wars, which have sold part of their lands, and now endeavour to buy them back.

14. A. Buchenberger, "Agrarwesen und Agrarpolitik," in A. Wagner's Handbuch der politischen Oekonomie, 1892, Band i. pp. 280 seq.

15. G.L. Gomme, "The Village Community, with special reference to its Origin and Forms of Survival in Great Britain" (Contemporary Science Series), London, 1890, pp. 141-143; also his Primitive Folkmoots (London, 1880), pp. 98 seq.

16. "In almost all parts of the country, in the Midland and Eastern counties particularly, but also in the west—in Wiltshire, for example—in the south, as in Surrey, in the north, as in Yorkshire,—there are extensive open and common fields. Out of 316 parishes of Northamptonshire 89 are in this condition; more than 100 in Oxfordshire; about 50,000 acres in Warwickshire; in Berkshire half the county; more than half of Wiltshire; in Huntingdonshire out of a total area of 240,000 acres 130,000 were commonable meadows, commons, and fields" (Marshall, quoted in Sir Henry Maine's Village Communities in the East and West, New York edition, 1876, pp. 88, 89). See also Dr. G. Slater's The English Peasantry and the Enclosure of Common Fields, London, 1907.

17. Ibid. p. 88; also Fifth Lecture.

18. In quite a number of books dealing with English country life which I have consulted I have found charming descriptions of country scenery and the like, but almost nothing about the daily life and customs of the labourers.

19. In Switzerland the peasants in the open land also fell under the dominion of lords, and large parts of their estates were appropriated by the lords in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (cf. A. Miaskowski, in Schmoller's Forschungen, Bd. ii. 1879, pp. 12 seq.) But the peasant war in Switzerland did not end in such a crushing defeat of the peasants as it did in other countries, and a great deal of the communal rights and lands was retained. The self-government of the communes is, in fact, the very foundation of the Swiss liberties. (cf. K. Burtli, Der Ursprung der Eidgenossenschaft aus der Markgenossenschaft, Zurich, 1891.)

20. Dr. Reichesberg, Handworterbuch des Schweiz. Volkswirthschaft, Bern, 1903.

21. See on this subject a series of works, summed up in one of the excellent and suggestive chapters (not yet translated into English) which K. Bucher has added to the German translation of Laveleye's Primitive Ownership. Also Meitzen, "Das Agrar-und Forst-Wesen, die Allmenden und die Landgemeinden der Deutschen Schweiz," in Jahrbuch fur Staatswissenschaft, 1880, iv. (analysis of Miaskowsky's works); O'Brien, "Notes in a Swiss village," in Macmillan's Magazine, October 1885.

22. The wedding gifts, which often substantially contribute in this country to the comfort of the young households, are evidently a remainder of the communal habits.

23. The communes own, 4,554,100 acres of woods out of 24,813,000 in the whole territory, and 6,936,300 acres of natural meadows out of 11,394,000 acres in France. The remaining 2,000,000 acres are fields, orchards, and so on.

24. In Caucasia they even do better among the Georgians. As the meal costs, and a poor man cannot afford to give it, a sheep is bought by those same neighbours who come to aid in the work.

25. Alfred Baudrillart, in H. Baudrillart's Les Populations Rurales de la France, 3rd series (Paris, 1893), p. 479.

26. The Journal des Economistes (August 1892, May and August 1893) has lately given some of the results of analyses made at the agricultural laboratories at Ghent and at Paris. The extent of falsification is simply incredible; so also the devices of the "honest traders." In certain seeds of grass there was 32 per cent. of gains of sand, coloured so as to Receive even an experienced eye; other samples contained from 52 to 22 per cent. only of pure seed, the remainder being weeds. Seeds of vetch contained 11 per cent. of a poisonous grass (nielle); a flour for cattle-fattening contained 36 per cent. of sulphates; and so on ad infinitum.

27. A. Baudrillart, l.c. p. 309. Originally one grower would undertake to supply water, and several others would agee to make use of it. "What especially characterises such associations," A. Baudrillart remarks, "is that no sort of written agreement is concluded. All is arranged in words. There was, however, not one single case of difficulties having arisen between the parties."

28. A. Baudrillart, l.c. pp. 300, 341, etc. M. Terssac, president of the St. Gironnais syndicate (Ariege), wrote to my friend in substance as follows:—"For the exhibition of Toulouse our association has grouped the owners of cattle which seemed to us worth exhibiting. The society undertook to pay one-half of the travelling and exhibition expenses; one-fourth was paid by each owner, and the remaining fourth by those exhibitors who had got prizes. The result was that many took part in the exhibition who never would have done it otherwise. Those who got the highest awards (350 francs) have contributed 10 per cent. of their prizes, while those who have got no prize have only spent 6 to 7 francs each."

29. In Wurttemberg 1,629 communes out of 1,910 have communal property. They owned in 1863 over 1,000,000 acres of land. In Baden 1,256 communes out of 1,582 have communal land; in 1884-1888 they held 121,500 acres of fields in communal culture, and 675,000 acres of forests, i.e. 46 per cent. of the total area under woods. In Saxony 39 per cent. of the total area is in communal ownership (Schmoller's Jahrbuch, 1886, p. 359). In Hohenzollern nearly two-thirds of all meadow land, and in Hohenzollern-Hechingen 41 per cent. of all landed property, are owned by the village communities (Buchenberger, Agrarwesen, vol. i. p. 300).

30. See K. Bucher, who, in a special chapter added to Laveleye's Ureigenthum, has collected all information relative to the village community in Germany.

31. K. Bucher, ibid. pp. 89, 90.

32. For this legislation and the numerous obstacles which were put in the way, in the shape of red-tapeism and supervision, see Buchenberger's Agrarwesen und Agrarpolitik, Bd. ii. pp. 342-363, and p. 506, note.

33. Buchenberger, l.c. Bd. ii. p. 510. The General Union of Agricultural Co-operation comprises an aggregate of 1,679 societies. In Silesia an aggregate of 32,000 acres of land has been lately drained by 73 associations; 454,800 acres in Prussia by 516 associations; in Bavaria there are 1,715 drainage and irrigation unions.

34. For the Balkan peninsula see Laveleye's Propriete Primitive.

35. The facts concerning the village community, contained in nearly a hundred volumes (out of 450) of these inquests, have been classified and summed up in an excellent Russian work by "V.V." The Peasant Community (Krestianskaya Obschina), St. Petersburg, 1892, which, apart from its theoretical value, is a rich compendium of data relative to this subject. The above inquests have also given origin to an immense literature, in which the modern village-community question for the first time emerges from the domain of generalities and is put on the solid basis of reliable and sufficiently detailed facts.

36. The redemption had to be paid by annuities for forty-nine years. As years went, and the greatest part of it was paid, it became easier and easier to redeem the smaller remaining part of it, and, as each allotment could be redeemed individually, advantage was taken of this disposition by traders, who bought land for half its value from the ruined peasants. A law was consequently passed to put a stop to such sales.

37. Mr. V.V., in his Peasant Community, has grouped together all facts relative to this movement. About the rapid agricultural development of South Russia and the spread of machinery English readers will find information in the Consular Reports (Odessa, Taganrog).

38. In some instances they proceeded with great caution. In one village they began by putting together all meadow land, but only a small portion of the fields (about five acres per soul) was rendered communal; the remainder continued to be owned individually. Later on, in 1862-1864, the system was extended, but only in 1884 was communal possession introduced in full.— V.V.'s Peasant Community, pp. 1-14.

39. On the Mennonite village community see A. Klaus, Our Colonies (Nashi Kolonii), St. Petersburg, 1869.

40. Such communal cultures are known to exist in 159 villages out of 195 in the Ostrogozhsk district; in 150 out of 187 in Slavyanoserbsk; in 107 village communities in Alexandrovsk, 93 in Nikolayevsk, 35 in Elisabethgrad. In a German colony the communal culture is made for repaying a communal debt. All join in the work, although the debt was contracted by 94 householders out of 155.

41. Lists of such works which came under the notice of the zemstvo statisticians will be found in V.V.'s Peasant Community, pp. 459-600.

42. In the government of Moscow the experiment was usually made on the field which was reserved for the above-mentioned communal culture.

43. Several instances of such and similar improvements were given in the Official Messenger, 1894, Nos. 256-258. Associations between "horseless" peasants begin to appear also in South Russia. Another extremely interesting fact is the sudden development in Southern West Siberia of very numerous co-operative creameries for making butter. Hundreds of them spread in Tobolsk and Tomsk, without any one knowing wherefrom the initiative of the movement came. It came from the Danish co-operators, who used to export their own butter of higher quality, and to buy butter of a lower quality for their own use in Siberia. After a several years' intercourse, they introduced creameries there. Now, a great export trade, carried on by a Union of the Creameries, has grown out of their endeavours and more than a thousand co-operative shops have been opened in the villages.



Labour-unions grown after the destruction of the guilds by the State. Their struggles. Mutual Aid in strikes. Co-operation. Free associations for various purposes. Self-sacrifice. Countless societies for combined action under all possible aspects. Mutual Aid in slum-life. Personal aid.

When we examine the every-day life of the rural populations of Europe, we find that, notwithstanding all that has been done in modern States for the destruction of the village community, the life of the peasants remains honeycombed with habits and customs of mutual aid and support; that important vestiges of the communal possession of the soil are still retained; and that, as soon as the legal obstacles to rural association were lately removed, a network of free unions for all sorts of economical purposes rapidly spread among the peasants—the tendency of this young movement being to reconstitute some sort of union similar to the village community of old. Such being the conclusions arrived at in the preceding chapter, we have now to consider, what institutions for mutual support can be found at the present time amongst the industrial populations.

For the last three hundred years, the conditions for the growth of such institutions have been as unfavourable in the towns as they have been in the villages. It is well known, indeed, that when the medieval cities were subdued in the sixteenth century by growing military States, all institutions which kept the artisans, the masters, and the merchants together in the guilds and the cities were violently destroyed. The self-government and the self-jurisdiction of both, the guild and the city were abolished; the oath of allegiance between guild-brothers became an act of felony towards the State; the properties of the guilds were confiscated in the same way as the lands of the village communities; and the inner and technical organization of each trade was taken in hand by the State. Laws, gradually growing in severity, were passed to prevent artisans from combining in any way. For a time, some shadows of the old guilds were tolerated: merchants' guilds were allowed to exist under the condition of freely granting subsidies to the kings, and some artisan guilds were kept in existence as organs of administration. Some of them still drag on their meaningless existence. But what formerly was the vital force of medieval life and industry has long since disappeared under the crushing weight of the centralized State.

In Great Britain, which may be taken as the best illustration of the industrial policy of the modern States, we see the Parliament beginning the destruction of the guilds as early as the fifteenth century; but it was especially in the next century that decisive measures were taken. Henry the Eighth not only ruined the organization of the guilds, but also confiscated their properties, with even less excuse and manners, as Toulmin Smith wrote, than he had produced for confiscating the estates of the monasteries.(1) Edward the Sixth completed his work,(2) and already in the second part of the sixteenth century we find the Parliament settling all the disputes between craftsmen and merchants, which formerly were settled in each city separately. The Parliament and the king not only legislated in all such contests, but, keeping in view the interests of the Crown in the exports, they soon began to determine the number of apprentices in each trade and minutely to regulate the very technics of each fabrication—the weights of the stuffs, the number of threads in the yard of cloth, and the like. With little success, it must be said; because contests and technical difficulties which were arranged for centuries in succession by agreement between closely-interdependent guilds and federated cities lay entirely beyond the powers of the centralized State. The continual interference of its officials paralyzed the trades; bringing most of them to a complete decay; and the last century economists, when they rose against the State regulation of industries, only ventilated a widely-felt discontent. The abolition of that interference by the French Revolution was greeted as an act of liberation, and the example of France was soon followed elsewhere.

With the regulation of wages the State had no better success. In the medieval cities, when the distinction between masters and apprentices or journeymen became more and more apparent in the fifteenth century, unions of apprentices (Gesellenverbande), occasionally assuming an international character, were opposed to the unions of masters and merchants. Now it was the State which undertook to settle their griefs, and under the Elizabethan Statute of 1563 the Justices of Peace had to settle the wages, so as to guarantee a "convenient" livelihood to journeymen and apprentices. The Justices, however, proved helpless to conciliate the conflicting interests, and still less to compel the masters to obey their decisions. The law gradually became a dead letter, and was repealed by the end of the eighteenth century. But while the State thus abandoned the function of regulating wages, it continued severely to prohibit all combinations which were entered upon by journeymen and workers in order to raise their wages, or to keep them at a certain level. All through the eighteenth century it legislated against the workers' unions, and in 1799 it finally prohibited all sorts of combinations, under the menace of severe punishments. In fact, the British Parliament only followed in this case the example of the French Revolutionary Convention, which had issued a draconic law against coalitions of workers-coalitions between a number of citizens being considered as attempts against the sovereignty of the State, which was supposed equally to protect all its subjects. The work of destruction of the medieval unions was thus completed. Both in the town and in the village the State reigned over loose aggregations of individuals, and was ready to prevent by the most stringent measures the reconstitution of any sort of separate unions among them. These were, then, the conditions under which the mutual-aid tendency had to make its way in the nineteenth century.

Need it be said that no such measures could destroy that tendency? Throughout the eighteenth century, the workers' unions were continually reconstituted.(3) Nor were they stopped by the cruel prosecutions which took place under the laws of 1797 and 1799. Every flaw in supervision, every delay of the masters in denouncing the unions was taken advantage of. Under the cover of friendly societies, burial clubs, or secret brotherhoods, the unions spread in the textile industries, among the Sheffield cutlers, the miners, and vigorous federal organizations were formed to support the branches during strikes and prosecutions.(4) The repeal of the Combination Laws in 1825 gave a new impulse to the movement. Unions and national federations were formed in all trades.(5) and when Robert Owen started his Grand National Consolidated Trades' Union, it mustered half a million members in a few months. True that this period of relative liberty did not last long. Prosecution began anew in the thirties, and the well-known ferocious condemnations of 1832-1844 followed. The Grand National Union was disbanded, and all over the country, both the private employers and the Government in its own workshops began to compel the workers to resign all connection with unions, and to sign "the Document" to that effect. Unionists were prosecuted wholesale under the Master and Servant Act—workers being summarily arrested and condemned upon a mere complaint of misbehaviour lodged by the master.(6) Strikes were suppressed in an autocratic way, and the most astounding condemnations took place for merely having announced a strike or acted as a delegate in it—to say nothing of the military suppression of strike riots, nor of the condemnations which followed the frequent outbursts of acts of violence. To practise mutual support under such circumstances was anything but an easy task. And yet, notwithstanding all obstacles, of which our own generation hardly can have an idea, the revival of the unions began again in 1841, and the amalgamation of the workers has been steadily continued since. After a long fight, which lasted for over a hundred years, the right of combining together was conquered, and at the present time nearly one-fourth part of the regularly-employed workers, i.e. about 1,500,000, belong to trade unions.(7)

As to the other European States, sufficient to say that up to a very recent date, all sorts of unions were prosecuted as conspiracies; and that nevertheless they exist everywhere, even though they must often take the form of secret societies; while the extension and the force of labour organizations, and especially of the Knights of Labour, in the United States and in Belgium, have been sufficiently illustrated by strikes in the nineties. It must, however, be borne in mind that, prosecution apart, the mere fact of belonging to a labour union implies considerable sacrifices in money, in time, and in unpaid work, and continually implies the risk of losing employment for the mere fact of being a unionist.(8) There is, moreover, the strike, which a unionist has continually to face; and the grim reality of a strike is, that the limited credit of a worker's family at the baker's and the pawnbroker's is soon exhausted, the strike-pay goes not far even for food, and hunger is soon written on the children's faces. For one who lives in close contact with workers, a protracted strike is the most heartrending sight; while what a strike meant forty years ago in this country, and still means in all but the wealthiest parts of the continent, can easily be conceived. Continually, even now, strikes will end with the total ruin and the forced emigration of whole populations, while the shooting down of strikers on the slightest provocation, or even without any provocation,(9) is quite habitual still on the continent.

And yet, every year there are thousands of strikes and lock-outs in Europe and America—the most severe and protracted contests being, as a rule, the so-called "sympathy strikes," which are entered upon to support locked-out comrades or to maintain the rights of the unions. And while a portion of the Press is prone to explain strikes by "intimidation," those who have lived among strikers speak with admiration of the mutual aid and support which are constantly practised by them. Every one has heard of the colossal amount of work which was done by volunteer workers for organizing relief during the London dock-labourers' strike; of the miners who, after having themselves been idle for many weeks, paid a levy of four shillings a week to the strike fund when they resumed work; of the miner widow who, during the Yorkshire labour war of 1894, brought her husband's life-savings to the strike-fund; of the last loaf of bread being always shared with neighbours; of the Radstock miners, favoured with larger kitchen-gardens, who invited four hundred Bristol miners to take their share of cabbage and potatoes, and so on. All newspaper correspondents, during the great strike of miners in Yorkshire in 1894, knew heaps of such facts, although not all of them could report such "irrelevant" matters to their respective papers.(10)

Unionism is not, however, the only form in which the worker's need of mutual support finds its expression. There are, besides, the political associations, whose activity many workers consider as more conducive to general welfare than the trade-unions, limited as they are now in their purposes. Of course the mere fact of belonging to a political body cannot be taken as a manifestation of the mutual-aid tendency. We all know that politics are the field in which the purely egotistic elements of society enter into the most entangled combinations with altruistic aspirations. But every experienced politician knows that all great political movements were fought upon large and often distant issues, and that those of them were the strongest which provoked most disinterested enthusiasm. All great historical movements have had this character, and for our own generation Socialism stands in that case. "Paid agitators" is, no doubt, the favourite refrain of those who know nothing about it. The truth, however, is that—to speak only of what I know personally—if I had kept a diary for the last twenty-four years and inscribed in it all the devotion and self-sacrifice which I came across in the Socialist movement, the reader of such a diary would have had the word "heroism" constantly on his lips. But the men I would have spoken of were not heroes; they were average men, inspired by a grand idea. Every Socialist newspaper— and there are hundreds of them in Europe alone—has the same history of years of sacrifice without any hope of reward, and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, even without any personal ambition. I have seen families living without knowing what would be their food to-morrow, the husband boycotted all round in his little town for his part in the paper, and the wife supporting the family by sewing, and such a situation lasting for years, until the family would retire, without a word of reproach, simply saying: "Continue; we can hold on no more!" I have seen men, dying from consumption, and knowing it, and yet knocking about in snow and fog to prepare meetings, speaking at meetings within a few weeks from death, and only then retiring to the hospital with the words: "Now, friends, I am done; the doctors say I have but a few weeks to live. Tell the comrades that I shall be happy if they come to see me." I have seen facts which would be described as "idealization" if I told them in this place; and the very names of these men, hardly known outside a narrow circle of friends, will soon be forgotten when the friends, too, have passed away. In fact, I don't know myself which most to admire, the unbounded devotion of these few, or the sum total of petty acts of devotion of the great number. Every quire of a penny paper sold, every meeting, every hundred votes which are won at a Socialist election, represent an amount of energy and sacrifices of which no outsider has the faintest idea. And what is now done by Socialists has been done in every popular and advanced party, political and religious, in the past. All past progress has been promoted by like men and by a like devotion.

Co-operation, especially in Britain, is often described as "joint-stock individualism"; and such as it is now, it undoubtedly tends to breed a co-operative egotism, not only towards the community at large, but also among the co-operators themselves. It is, nevertheless, certain that at its origin the movement had an essentially mutual-aid character. Even now, its most ardent promoters are persuaded that co-operation leads mankind to a higher harmonic stage of economical relations, and it is not possible to stay in some of the strongholds of co-operation in the North without realizing that the great number of the rank and file hold the same opinion. Most of them would lose interest in the movement if that faith were gone; and it must be owned that within the last few years broader ideals of general welfare and of the producers' solidarity have begun to be current among the co-operators. There is undoubtedly now a tendency towards establishing better relations between the owners of the co-operative workshops and the workers.

The importance of co-operation in this country, in Holland and in Denmark is well known; while in Germany, and especially on the Rhine, the co-operative societies are already an important factor of industrial life.(11) It is, however, Russia which offers perhaps the best field for the study of cooperation under an infinite variety of aspects. In Russia, it is a natural growth, an inheritance from the middle ages; and while a formally established co-operative society would have to cope with many legal difficulties and official suspicion, the informal co-operation—the artel—makes the very substance of Russian peasant life. The history of "the making of Russia," and of the colonization of Siberia, is a history of the hunting and trading artels or guilds, followed by village communities, and at the present time we find the artel everywhere; among each group of ten to fifty peasants who come from the same village to work at a factory, in all the building trades, among fishermen and hunters, among convicts on their way to and in Siberia, among railway porters, Exchange messengers, Customs House labourers, everywhere in the village industries, which give occupation to 7,000,000 men— from top to bottom of the working world, permanent and temporary, for production and consumption under all possible aspects. Until now, many of the fishing-grounds on the tributaries of the Caspian Sea are held by immense artels, the Ural river belonging to the whole of the Ural Cossacks, who allot and re-allot the fishing-grounds—perhaps the richest in the world—among the villages, without any interference of the authorities. Fishing is always made by artels in the Ural, the Volga, and all the lakes of Northern Russia. Besides these permanent organizations, there are the simply countless temporary artels, constituted for each special purpose. When ten or twenty peasants come from some locality to a big town, to work as weavers, carpenters, masons, boat-builders, and so on, they always constitute an artel. They hire rooms, hire a cook (very often the wife of one of them acts in this capacity), elect an elder, and take their meals in common, each one paying his share for food and lodging to the artel. A party of convicts on its way to Siberia always does the same, and its elected elder is the officially-recognized intermediary between the convicts and the military chief of the party. In the hard-labour prisons they have the same organization. The railway porters, the messengers at the Exchange, the workers at the Custom House, the town messengers in the capitals, who are collectively responsible for each member, enjoy such a reputation that any amount of money or bank-notes is trusted to the artel-member by the merchants. In the building trades, artels of from 10 to 200 members are formed; and the serious builders and railway contractors always prefer to deal with an artel than with separately-hired workers. The last attempts of the Ministry of War to deal directly with productive artels, formed ad hoc in the domestic trades, and to give them orders for boots and all sorts of brass and iron goods, are described as most satisfactory; while the renting of a Crown iron work, (Votkinsk) to an artel of workers, which took place seven or eight years ago, has been a decided success.

We can thus see in Russia how the old medieval institution, having not been interfered with by the State (in its informal manifestations), has fully survived until now, and takes the greatest variety of forms in accordance with the requirements of modern industry and commerce. As to the Balkan peninsula, the Turkish Empire and Caucasia, the old guilds are maintained there in full. The esnafs of Servia have fully preserved their medieval character; they include both masters and journeymen, regulate the trades, and are institutions for mutual support in labour and sickness;(12) while the amkari of Caucasia, and especially at Tiflis, add to these functions a considerable influence in municipal life.(13)

In connection with co-operation, I ought perhaps to mention also the friendly societies, the unities of oddfellows, the village and town clubs organized for meeting the doctors' bills, the dress and burial clubs, the small clubs very common among factory girls, to which they contribute a few pence every week, and afterwards draw by lot the sum of one pound, which can at least be used for some substantial purchase, and many others. A not inconsiderable amount of sociable or jovial spirit is alive in all such societies and clubs, even though the "credit and debit" of each member are closely watched over. But there are so many associations based on the readiness to sacrifice time, health, and life if required, that we can produce numbers of illustrations of the best forms of mutual support.

The Lifeboat Association in this country, and similar institutions on the Continent, must be mentioned in the first place. The former has now over three hundred boats along the coasts of these isles, and it would have twice as many were it not for the poverty of the fisher men, who cannot afford to buy lifeboats. The crews consist, however, of volunteers, whose readiness to sacrifice their lives for the rescue of absolute strangers to them is put every year to a severe test; every winter the loss of several of the bravest among them stands on record. And if we ask these men what moves them to risk their lives, even when there is no reasonable chance of success, their answer is something on the following lines. A fearful snowstorm, blowing across the Channel, raged on the flat, sandy coast of a tiny village in Kent, and a small smack, laden with oranges, stranded on the sands near by. In these shallow waters only a flat-bottomed lifeboat of a simplified type can be kept, and to launch it during such a storm was to face an almost certain disaster. And yet the men went out, fought for hours against the wind, and the boat capsized twice. One man was drowned, the others were cast ashore. One of these last, a refined coastguard, was found next morning, badly bruised and half frozen in the snow. I asked him, how they came to make that desperate attempt?" I don't know myself," was his reply." There was the wreck; all the people from the village stood on the beach, and all said it would be foolish to go out; we never should work through the surf. We saw five or six men clinging to the mast, making desperate signals. We all felt that something must be done, but what could we do? One hour passed, two hours, and we all stood there. We all felt most uncomfortable. Then, all of a sudden, through the storm, it seemed to us as if we heard their cries— they had a boy with them. We could not stand that any longer. All at once we said, "We must go!" The women said so too; they would have treated us as cowards if we had not gone, although next day they said we had been fools to go. As one man, we rushed to the boat, and went. The boat capsized, but we took hold of it. The worst was to see poor drowning by the side of the boat, and we could do nothing to save him. Then came a fearful wave, the boat capsized again, and we were cast ashore. The men were still rescued by the D. boat, ours was caught miles away. I was found next morning in the snow."

The same feeling moved also the miners of the Rhonda Valley, when they worked for the rescue of their comrades from the inundated mine. They had pierced through thirty-two yards of coal in order to reach their entombed comrades; but when only three yards more remained to be pierced, fire-damp enveloped them. The lamps went out, and the rescue-men retired. To work in such conditions was to risk being blown up at every moment. But the raps of the entombed miners were still heard, the men were still alive and appealed for help, and several miners volunteered to work at any risk; and as they went down the mine, their wives had only silent tears to follow them—not one word to stop them.

There is the gist of human psychology. Unless men are maddened in the battlefield, they "cannot stand it" to hear appeals for help, and not to respond to them. The hero goes; and what the hero does, all feel that they ought to have done as well. The sophisms of the brain cannot resist the mutual-aid feeling, because this feeling has been nurtured by thousands of years of human social life and hundreds of thousands of years of pre-human life in societies.

"But what about those men who were drowned in the Serpentine in the presence of a crowd, out of which no one moved for their rescue?" it may be asked. "What about the child which fell into the Regent's Park Canal—also in the presence of a holiday crowd—and was only saved through the presence of mind of a maid who let out a Newfoundland dog to the rescue?" The answer is plain enough. Man is a result of both his inherited instincts and his education. Among the miners and the seamen, their common occupations and their every-day contact with one another create a feeling of solidarity, while the surrounding dangers maintain courage and pluck. In the cities, on the contrary, the absence of common interest nurtures indifference, while courage and pluck, which seldom find their opportunities, disappear, or take another direction. Moreover, the tradition of the hero of the mine and the sea lives in the miners' and fishermen's villages, adorned with a poetical halo. But what are the traditions of a motley London crowd? The only tradition they might have in common ought to be created by literature, but a literature which would correspond to the village epics hardly exists. The clergy are so anxious to prove that all that comes from human nature is sin, and that all good in man has a supernatural origin, that they mostly ignore the facts which cannot be produced as an example of higher inspiration or grace, coming from above. And as to the lay-writers, their attention is chiefly directed towards one sort of heroism, the heroism which promotes the idea of the State. Therefore, they admire the Roman hero, or the soldier in the battle, while they pass by the fisherman's heroism, hardly paying attention to it. The poet and the painter might, of course, be taken by the beauty of the human heart in itself; but both seldom know the life of the poorer classes, and while they can sing or paint the Roman or the military hero in conventional surroundings, they can neither sing nor paint impressively the hero who acts in those modest surroundings which they ignore. If they venture to do so, they produce a mere piece of rhetoric.(14)

The countless societies, clubs, and alliances, for the enjoyment of life, for study and research, for education, and so on, which have lately grown up in such numbers that it would require many years to simply tabulate them, are another manifestation of the same everworking tendency for association and mutual support. Some of them, like the broods of young birds of different species which come together in the autumn, are entirely given to share in common the joys of life. Every village in this country, in Switzerland, Germany, and so on, has its cricket, football, tennis, nine-pins, pigeon, musical or singing clubs. Other societies are much more numerous, and some of them, like the Cyclists' Alliance, have suddenly taken a formidable development. Although the members of this alliance have nothing in common but the love of cycling, there is already among them a sort of freemasonry for mutual help, especially in the remote nooks and corners which are not flooded by cyclists; they look upon the "C.A.C."—the Cyclists' Alliance Club—in a village as a sort of home; and at the yearly Cyclists' Camp many a standing friendship has been established. The Kegelbruder, the Brothers of the Nine Pins, in Germany, are a similar association; so also the Gymnasts' Societies (300,000 members in Germany), the informal brotherhood of paddlers in France, the yacht clubs, and so on. Such associations certainly do not alter the economical stratification of society, but, especially in the small towns, they contribute to smooth social distinctions, and as they all tend to join in large national and international federations, they certainly aid the growth of personal friendly intercourse between all sorts of men scattered in different parts of the globe.

The Alpine Clubs, the Jagdschutzverein in Germany, which has over 100,000 members—hunters, educated foresters, zoologists, and simple lovers of Nature—and the International Ornithological Society, which includes zoologists, breeders, and simple peasants in Germany, have the same character. Not only have they done in a few years a large amount of very useful work, which large associations alone could do properly (maps, refuge huts, mountain roads; studies of animal life, of noxious insects, of migrations of birds, and so on), but they create new bonds between men. Two Alpinists of different nationalities who meet in a refuge hut in the Caucasus, or the professor and the peasant ornithologist who stay in the same house, are no more strangers to each other; while the Uncle Toby's Society at Newcastle, which has already induced over 260,000 boys and girls never to destroy birds' nests and to be kind to all animals, has certainly done more for the development of human feelings and of taste in natural science than lots of moralists and most of our schools.

We cannot omit, even in this rapid review, the thousands of scientific, literary, artistic, and educational societies. Up till now, the scientific bodies, closely controlled and often subsidized by the State, have generally moved in a very narrow circle, and they often came to be looked upon as mere openings for getting State appointments, while the very narrowness of their circles undoubtedly bred petty jealousies. Still it is a fact that the distinctions of birth, political parties and creeds are smoothed to some extent by such associations; while in the smaller and remote towns the scientific, geographical, or musical societies, especially those of them which appeal to a larger circle of amateurs, become small centres of intellectual life, a sort of link between the little spot and the wide world, and a place where men of very different conditions meet on a footing of equality. To fully appreciate the value of such centres, one ought to know them, say, in Siberia. As to the countless educational societies which only now begin to break down the State's and the Church's monopoly in education, they are sure to become before long the leading power in that branch. To the "Froebel Unions" we already owe the Kindergarten system; and to a number of formal and informal educational associations we owe the high standard of women's education in Russia, although all the time these societies and groups had to act in strong opposition to a powerful government.(15) As to the various pedagogical societies in Germany, it is well known that they have done the best part in the working out of the modern methods of teaching science in popular schools. In such associations the teacher finds also his best support. How miserable the overworked and under-paid village teacher would have been without their aid!(16)

All these associations, societies, brotherhoods, alliances, institutes, and so on, which must now be counted by the ten thousand in Europe alone, and each of which represents an immense amount of voluntary, unambitious, and unpaid or underpaid work— what are they but so many manifestations, under an infinite variety of aspects, of the same ever-living tendency of man towards mutual aid and support? For nearly three centuries men were prevented from joining hands even for literary, artistic, and educational purposes. Societies could only be formed under the protection of the State, or the Church, or as secret brotherhoods, like free-masonry. But now that the resistance has been broken, they swarm in all directions, they extend over all multifarious branches of human activity, they become international, and they undoubtedly contribute, to an extent which cannot yet be fully appreciated, to break down the screens erected by States between different nationalities. Notwithstanding the jealousies which are bred by commercial competition, and the provocations to hatred which are sounded by the ghosts of a decaying past, there is a conscience of international solidarity which is growing both among the leading spirits of the world and the masses of the workers, since they also have conquered the right of international intercourse; and in the preventing of a European war during the last quarter of a century, this spirit has undoubtedly had its share.

The religious charitable associations, which again represent a whole world, certainly must be mentioned in this place. There is not the slightest doubt that the great bulk of their members are moved by the same mutual-aid feelings which are common to all mankind. Unhappily the religious teachers of men prefer to ascribe to such feelings a supernatural origin. Many of them pretend that man does not consciously obey the mutual-aid inspiration so long as he has not been enlightened by the teachings of the special religion which they represent, and, with St. Augustin, most of them do not recognize such feelings in the "pagan savage." Moreover, while early Christianity, like all other religions, was an appeal to the broadly human feelings of mutual aid and sympathy, the Christian Church has aided the State in wrecking all standing institutions of mutual aid and support which were anterior to it, or developed outside of it; and, instead of the mutual aid which every savage considers as due to his kinsman, it has preached charity which bears a character of inspiration from above, and, accordingly, implies a certain superiority of the giver upon the receiver. With this limitation, and without any intention to give offence to those who consider themselves as a body elect when they accomplish acts simply humane, we certainly may consider the immense numbers of religious charitable associations as an outcome of the same mutual-aid tendency.

All these facts show that a reckless prosecution of personal interests, with no regard to other people's needs, is not the only characteristic of modern life. By the side of this current which so proudly claims leadership in human affairs, we perceive a hard struggle sustained by both the rural and industrial populations in order to reintroduce standing institutions of mutual aid and support; and we discover, in all classes of society, a widely-spread movement towards the establishment of an infinite variety of more or less permanent institutions for the same purpose. But when we pass from public life to the private life of the modern individual, we discover another extremely wide world of mutual aid and support, which only passes unnoticed by most sociologists because it is limited to the narrow circle of the family and personal friendship.(17)

Under the present social system, all bonds of union among the inhabitants of the same street or neighbourhood have been dissolved. In the richer parts of the large towns, people live without knowing who are their next-door neighbours. But in the crowded lanes people know each other perfectly, and are continually brought into mutual contact. Of course, petty quarrels go their course, in the lanes as elsewhere; but groupings in accordance with personal affinities grow up, and within their circle mutual aid is practised to an extent of which the richer classes have no idea. If we take, for instance, the children of a poor neighbourhood who play in a street or a churchyard, or on a green, we notice at once that a close union exists among them, notwithstanding the temporary fights, and that that union protects them from all sorts of misfortunes. As soon as a mite bends inquisitively over the opening of a drain— "Don't stop there," another mite shouts out, "fever sits in the hole!" "Don't climb over that wall, the train will kill you if you tumble down! Don't come near to the ditch! Don't eat those berries—poison! you will die." Such are the first teachings imparted to the urchin when he joins his mates out-doors. How many of the children whose play-grounds are the pavements around "model workers' dwellings," or the quays and bridges of the canals, would be crushed to death by the carts or drowned in the muddy waters, were it not for that sort of mutual support. And when a fair Jack has made a slip into the unprotected ditch at the back of the milkman's yard, or a cherry-cheeked Lizzie has, after all, tumbled down into the canal, the young brood raises such cries that all the neighbourhood is on the alert and rushes to the rescue.

Then comes in the alliance of the mothers. "You could not imagine" (a lady-doctor who lives in a poor neighbourhood told me lately) "how much they help each other. If a woman has prepared nothing, or could prepare nothing, for the baby which she expected—and how often that happens!—all the neighbours bring something for the new-comer. One of the neighbours always takes care of the children, and some other always drops in to take care of the household, so long as the mother is in bed." This habit is general. It is mentioned by all those who have lived among the poor. In a thousand small ways the mothers support each other and bestow their care upon children that are not their own. Some training—good or bad, let them decide it for themselves—is required in a lady of the richer classes to render her able to pass by a shivering and hungry child in the street without noticing it. But the mothers of the poorer classes have not that training. They cannot stand the sight of a hungry child; they must feed it, and so they do. "When the school children beg bread, they seldom or rather never meet with a refusal"—a lady-friend, who has worked several years in Whitechapel in connection with a workers' club, writes to me. But I may, perhaps, as well transcribe a few more passages from her letter:—

"Nursing neighbours, in cases of illness, without any shade of remuneration, is quite general among the workers. Also, when a woman has little children, and goes out for work, another mother always takes care of them.

"If, in the working classes, they would not help each other, they could not exist. I know families which continually help each other—with money, with food, with fuel, for bringing up the little children, in cases of illness, in cases of death.

"'The mine' and 'thine' is much less sharply observed among the poor than among the rich. Shoes, dress, hats, and so on,— what may be wanted on the spot—are continually borrowed from each other, also all sorts of household things.

"Last winter the members of the United Radical Club had brought together some little money, and began after Christmas to distribute free soup and bread to the children going to school. Gradually they had 1,800 children to attend to. The money came from outsiders, but all the work was done by the members of the club. Some of them, who were out of work, came at four in the morning to wash and to peel the vegetables; five women came at nine or ten (after having done their own household work) for cooking, and stayed till six or seven to wash the dishes. And at meal time, between twelve and half-past one, twenty to thirty workers came in to aid in serving the soup, each one staying what he could spare of his meal time. This lasted for two months. No one was paid."

My friend also mentions various individual cases, of which the following are typical:—

"Annie W. was given by her mother to be boarded by an old person in Wilmot Street. When her mother died, the old woman, who herself was very poor, kept the child without being paid a penny for that. When the old lady died too, the child, who was five years old, was of course neglected during her illness, and was ragged; but she was taken at once by Mrs. S., the wife of a shoemaker, who herself has six children. Lately, when the husband was ill, they had not much to eat, all of them.

"The other day, Mrs. M., mother of six children, attended Mrs. M—g throughout her illness, and took to her own rooms the elder child.... But do you need such facts? They are quite general.... I know also Mrs. D. (Oval, Hackney Road), who has a sewing machine and continually sews for others, without ever accepting any remuneration, although she has herself five children and her husband to look after.... And so on."

For every one who has any idea of the life of the labouring classes it is evident that without mutual aid being practised among them on a large scale they never could pull through all their difficulties. It is only by chance that a worker's family can live its lifetime without having to face such circumstances as the crisis described by the ribbon weaver, Joseph Gutteridge, in his autobiography.(18) And if all do not go to the ground in such cases, they owe it to mutual help. In Gutteridge's case it was an old nurse, miserably poor herself, who turned up at the moment when the family was slipping towards a final catastrophe, and brought in some bread, coal, and bedding, which she had obtained on credit. In other cases, it will be some one else, or the neighbours will take steps to save the family. But without some aid from other poor, how many more would be brought every year to irreparable ruin!(19)

Mr. Plimsoll, after he had lived for some time among the poor, on 7s. 6d. a week, was compelled to recognize that the kindly feelings he took with him when he began this life "changed into hearty respect and admiration" when he saw how the relations between the poor are permeated with mutual aid and support, and learned the simple ways in which that support is given. After a many years' experience, his conclusion was that" when you come to think of it, such as these men were, so were the vast majority of the working classes."(20) As to bringing up orphans, even by the poorest families, it is so widely-spread a habit, that it may be described as a general rule; thus among the miners it was found, after the two explosions at Warren Vale and at Lund Hill, that "nearly one-third of the men killed, as the respective committees can testify, were thus supporting relations other than wife and child." "Have you reflected," Mr. Plimsoll added, "what this is? Rich men, even comfortably-to-do men do this, I don't doubt. But consider the difference." Consider what a sum of one shilling, subscribed by each worker to help a comrade's widow, or 6d. to help a fellow-worker to defray the extra expense of a funeral, means for one who earns 16s. a week and has a wife, and in some cases five or six children to support.(21) But such subscriptions are a general practice among the workers all over the world, even in much more ordinary cases than a death in the family, while aid in work is the commonest thing in their lives.

Nor do the same practices of mutual aid and support fail among the richer classes. Of course, when one thinks of the harshness which is often shown by the richer employers towards their employees, one feels inclined to take the most pessimist view of human nature. Many must remember the indignation which was aroused during the great Yorkshire strike of 1894, when old miners who had picked coal from an abandoned pit were prosecuted by the colliery owners. And, even if we leave aside the horrors of the periods of struggle and social war, such as the extermination of thousands of workers' prisoners after the fall of the Paris Commune—who can read, for instance, revelations of the labour inquest which was made here in the forties, or what Lord Shaftesbury wrote about "the frightful waste of human life in the factories, to which the children taken from the workhouses, or simply purchased all over this country to be sold as factory slaves, were consigned"(22)—who can read that without being vividly impressed by the baseness which is possible in man when his greediness is at stake? But it must also be said that all fault for such treatment must not be thrown entirely upon the criminality of human nature. Were not the teachings of men of science, and even of a notable portion of the clergy, up to a quite recent time, teachings of distrust, despite and almost hatred towards the poorer classes? Did not science teach that since serfdom has been abolished, no one need be poor unless for his own vices? And how few in the Church had the courage to blame the children-killers, while the great numbers taught that the sufferings of the poor, and even the slavery of the negroes, were part of the Divine Plan! Was not Nonconformism itself largely a popular protest against the harsh treatment of the poor at the hand of the established Church?

With such spiritual leaders, the feelings of the richer classes necessarily became, as Mr. Pimsoll remarked, not so much blunted as "stratified." They seldom went downwards towards the poor, from whom the well-to-do-people are separated by their manner of life, and whom they do not know under their best aspects, in their every-day life. But among themselves— allowance being made for the effects of the wealth-accumulating passions and the futile expenses imposed by wealth itself— among themselves, in the circle of family and friends, the rich practise the same mutual aid and support as the poor. Dr. Ihering and L. Dargun are perfectly right in saying that if a statistical record could be taken of all the money which passes from hand to hand in the shape of friendly loans and aid, the sum total would be enormous, even in comparison with the commercial transactions of the world's trade. And if we could add to it, as we certainly ought to, what is spent in hospitality, petty mutual services, the management of other people's affairs, gifts and charities, we certainly should be struck by the importance of such transfers in national economy. Even in the world which is ruled by commercial egotism, the current expression, "We have been harshly treated by that firm," shows that there is also the friendly treatment, as opposed to the harsh, i.e. the legal treatment; while every commercial man knows how many firms are saved every year from failure by the friendly support of other firms.

As to the charities and the amounts of work for general well-being which are voluntarily done by so many well-to-do persons, as well as by workers, and especially by professional men, every one knows the part which is played by these two categories of benevolence in modern life. If the desire of acquiring notoriety, political power, or social distinction often spoils the true character of that sort of benevolence, there is no doubt possible as to the impulse coming in the majority of cases from the same mutual-aid feelings. Men who have acquired wealth very often do not find in it the expected satisfaction. Others begin to feel that, whatever economists may say about wealth being the reward of capacity, their own reward is exaggerated. The conscience of human solidarity begins to tell; and, although society life is so arranged as to stifle that feeling by thousands of artful means, it often gets the upper hand; and then they try to find an outcome for that deeply human need by giving their fortune, or their forces, to something which, in their opinion, will promote general welfare.

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